New York City Blog April 20 — April 26

GVSHP (Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation) notified its members about a symposium being sponsored by The Museum of the City of New York to celebrate its new exhibit, Saving Place. A friend and I, fortified by sangria, attended Redefining Preservation for the 21st Century held at the New York Academy of Medicine. The Great and the Good fell over themselves lauding their commitment to preservation and how it will help keep NYC a dynamic, international city. Afterwards, there was a reception at the Museum of the City of New York.
What a facelift the museum has had, even better than Madonna’s. I remember it when it was fusty. Then it transitioned into a place for school groups. Now, it’s cool NYC. Unless the word cool is too dated to describe it. Here’s the logo. Who would have thought that Twitter blue could be so hot? And the emphasis on the word, city. I mean CITY.

Museum of the City of New York Logo

Museum of the City of New York Logo

Donna40! This weekend Judson Memorial Church celebrated the forty year ministry of Donna Schaper. A symposium, cocktails, dancing, dinner and a Sunday sermon were all part of the mix. Donna, like her predecessor, Howard Moody, has the ability to fill the house. Judson is teeming with people of all ages. I wish I could say with people of all colors. We’re still predominantly white. The Donna40! program has a jazzy portrait done by Ward Sutton. Here’s a quote from Donna’s essay, My Five Best Mistakes: A Vision in the City. “…I should have enjoyed conflict so much more that I did. It almost always gave birth to good things!”

Ward Sutton's Donna40!

Ward Sutton’s Donna40!

New York City Blog April 12 — April 19

A friend and I went to the last performance of My Name is Rachel Corrie at the Lynn Redgrave Theatre. Rachel Corrie was a Palestinian peace activist from Washington state. She was killed by the Israelis as she protested the demolition of a Palestinian dwelling.Rachel Corrie was bulldozed by a Caterpillar and died shortly thereafter. Alan Rickman, the English actor and playwright, and Katharine Viner, the journalist and playwright, adapted Corrie’s diaries and emails.Charlotte Hemmings did a fine job portraying the articulate, combative, idealistic twenty-three year old.

To the west of the Lynn Grave theatre on Bleecker is the only building Louis Sullivan, the Chicago architect, built in NYC. The Bayard Condit building opened in 1899 and is glorious. No wonder Frank Lloyd Wright called Sullivan his mentor.

We went to Bleecker Kitchen & Co. for supper. What a delightful surprise. The setting doesn’t suggest the sophisticated menu. I had a whole but small bronzino, served with the tail and head, the way Europeans and Asians eat fish. It was surrounded by roasted potatoes and fresh, well seasoned greens. My friend had the halibut and said it was great. Rather than dessert we had a delicious cheese dish – real cheese, not prepackaged rubbish – and fresh fruit. Everything worked: a comfortable table, great service and, most of all, memorable food.

Dior and I at the Film Forum is fascinating for anyone interested in the glamorous couture world of Paris. It’s a well done documentary about Rif Simon, the Belgian designer who heads Dior. Afterwards, I looked him up on Wikipedia and was horrified to learn that he won’t hire models of color.

My chatty taxi driver told me he was an habitué of the Film Forum but being straight and never caring about clothes he’d pass on the documentary. He reminded me that 1915 was a banner year for American entertainment. Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, and Orson Welles would all be 100 this year.

New York City Blog April 5 — April 11

Judson Memorial Church was packed on Easter Sunday. The clergy conducted the service, the choir sang with gusto and the cooks arranged the parishioners’ gifts of food – ham anyone?- A few brave women revived the Easter bonnet tradition.We were asked to write on a strip of ribbon what we treasured most and then hang the ribbon on the line pictured in the photo. Buddhism + United Church of Christ?

Easter at Judson

Easter at Judson

Eugène Green”s Sapienza was showing at Film Forum. The photography is wonderful.It’s a thoughtful, formal whirlwind tour of Borromini’s architecture. How do you determine your love of a place? One of my ways is its architecture.

A delicious dinner at Molyvos preceded a Carnegie Hall evening with Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock. Do these musicians walk on water? The multiage audience thought so. We were seated in the central balcony which is five stairways north. We were surrounded by fans who were utterly silent during the music and gloriously rowdy when applauding. Did you see The Red Shoes? There’s a scene in the Covent Garden peanut gallery showing the passion of the poor, young, talented students. I thought of that at Carnegie Hall. As much as I admire Hancock’s and Corea’s work, the real stars were the audience.
On Friday, I spent a civilized two hours in the Frick’s Music Room. Clinton Luckett, ABC’s ballet master, stood ramrod straight and explained in a too soft voice the convoluted origins of the Don Quixote ballet. Excerpts from the ballet were performed by ABC artists. It was so precious we could have been encased in a Fabergé egg.

See you in Portland, Oregon on July 25, 2015

I’ve been invited to participate in the NW Book Festival. If you’re in Portland, please stop by my booth. I’d love to see you.Book Logo

Welcome to the official Web site of the

7th Annual NW Book Festival!

Saturday, July 25, 2015
11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Pioneer Courthouse Square, Portland, OR
(corner of SW Morrison and SW Sixth Avenue)

AUTHORS AND PUBLISHERS:
Download the contract for 2015 here

The public is invited
to attend this event
FREE on July 25, 2015!

See the website for all Authors Attending! http://nwbookfestival.com

New York City Blog March 29 – April 4

I went to the monthly book club at the Central Park Arsenal, built between 1847 – 1851. It had stored New York State Militia arms and the building predates the park. We met in a renovated room on the third floor complete with a new table and matching chairs. It smelled like a new car. I miss the too large wooden table, the chairs that were deceptive rockers. If caught off guard you’d go into a swinging motion like an amusement park ride. Most of all I miss Frederick Law Olmsted’s and Calvert Vaux’s 1857 design plan that hung on one wall. The men had submitted it to the Central Park design competition. Now, it’s in some safe, prestigious spot.
We talked about the most recently read book, Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods. I wonder if Bryson has ever received a more thoughtful discussion of one of his works. The book club is made up of professional gardeners, landscape artists and environmentalists. All are serious readers. Some liked Bryson’s larky, take it or leave it attitude to nature, but some dismissed the book as too frivolous. Since I write mysteries I appreciate the difficulty of writing a well crafted story, but as an astute reader pointed out, A Walk in the Woods seemed like a movie script. Ouch. Once I heard that I thought of the set dialogue, Sancho Panza sidekick and predictably happy ending.

Entrance to the 5th Avenue and 59th Street Subway

Entrance to the 5th Avenue and 59th Street Subway

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few blocks north and a few days later, I went to the Frick Collection to see Charles Coypel’s Don Quixote’s Tapestries. Coypel’s eighteenth century drawings of the novel, Don Quixote, were woven into tapestries by Gobelins. At the Frick they’re hung in the Oval Room and East Gallery. They gleam. it’s hard not to touch them.

 

Charles Coypel's Don Quixote Tapestry at the Frick

Steve Kulchek told me that his Uncle Con, a retired NYPD detective, started out as a patrolman. His beat, as they said in those days, included 5th Avenue and 70th Street. Con was ordered to pick up a man who lived in a nearby building for questioning. When Con went to the apartment, the guy’s wife told him that her husband was at the Frick. Con thought the Frick was a movie house.At that time, there were several in the area. So Con combed them. Finally, someone enlightened him. Con went to the Frick Collection and collected the guy in front of a Memling.