New York City Blog May 25 — May 31

A friend and I wended our way from the Gagosian Gallery’s Michael Heizer’s exhibit to the Highline and down the stairs and across Ninth Avenue to cocktails and dinner at the Tipsy Parson. Stuffed eggs, mac and cheese and delicious red wine always aid great conversation.

Michael Heizer's Altars
Michael Heizer’s Altars

Coypel’s Don Quixote Tapestries closed at the Frick Collection with Frick movie night. Staff and volunteers were invited to the Music Room to see a screening of the Man of La Mancha. it was based on the Cervantes eighteenth-century novel that no one reads. Lyrics were borrowed from the Broadway production. In spite of the fact that the late Roger Ebert gave the 1972 movie only two and a half stars, it was lots of nostalgic fun. Big names from that era include Peter O’Toole, Sophia Loren, and Ian Richardson playing a young, idealist priest. Many years later in BBC’s House of Cards, Richardson played, brilliantly, a corrupt politician who flung his mistress off the roof of the houses of parliament.

For the past week the Joyce Theater has been a shine to Wendy Whalen. Two other acolytes and I went on bended knee and broken check book to Restless Creature: four dances choreographed and danced by Ms. Whalen and Alejandro Cerrudo, Joshua Beamish, Kyle Abraham and Brian Brooks. It was a rare treat watching a great dancer, supported by other great dancers, at the Joyce, which doesn’t have a bad seat in the house.

New York City Blog May 16 — May 24

The blog week began with a Saturday afternoon of Bournonville at New York City Ballet: Bournonville Divertissements, followed by La Sylphide. Dreamy and wonderful.

After that, Basta Pasta.  Who Knew? A Japanese-Italian fusion restaurant that works and because the food is delicious, the service good and the ambience full of NYC-Toyko buzz, it’s jam packed.

The Faux Simplicity of Basta Pasta
The Faux Simplicity of Basta Pasta


The week ended with friends and me driving to Granville, N. Y. to spend the Memorial Day weekend. We stayed in an 1880 townhouse that’s been in their family for decades. Bragging rights: We dined with utensils engraved with the word, Showboat, because Jerome Kern sold his yacht – the Showboat named after Showboat, get it? – to my friend’s great grandpa.


Squint to read Showboat.
Squint to read Showboat

Roy Egg is in nearby and almost impossible to find West Pawlet, Vermont. It’s owned by Roy Egg who lives down the street on Egg Street in New York State. Roy’s devotion to the chicken is displayed in his checkered art gallery. In 1993, Roy entered a decorated egg contest sponsored by the White House. He won for Vermont and was invited to the White House and received a plaque commemorating the event from Laura Bush. Who knew Republicans were camp? I think Jeb Bush should get behind this.

Roy's Winning Egg
Roy’s Winning Egg

Ho Jo, anyone? Because of a savvy publicist who has connections at The New York Times, there was an article about Howard Johnson’s being revived and opening in Lake George. From Granville we drove to Lake George to have supper at Ho Jo’s. Three of our group were against it but two of us prevailed. With tears in my eyes – long ago memories of fried clams and strawberry ice cream – I imagined the menu like the holy writ of fine fifties dining; fried everything except the great sundaes.We tore up Route 22, struggled through the traffic and crowds in the Gatlnburg of the North, i.e. Lake George Village and found the orange roof with the adorable weather vane depicting Simple Simon met a pieman going to the fair. Since I was the most enthusiastic cheerleader – Go happy, go HoJo! I raced out of the van. A smiling guy approached me and said, “Sorry, we’re closing.” “ What?” I said aghast, hearing snickers from the car. The smiling guy continued, Because they did not have enough help (This is Memorial Day Sunday) they were closing early. Did three of our group pay the guy to say this? I went into the restaurant. It was almost empty. Worse it was mall like. No cute waitresses in great uniforms. Nothing funny and sunny and slightly lame brained. It was all mall and superimposed on a community, Lake George Village, that has far too much manufactured food/clothing/gift/ you name it shops. We found, thank you to the internet and a member of our group who had wanted to go to Ho Jo’s, a waterside restaurant that seemed to belong in Lake George, the Docksider. Lovely vodka tonics and a great deal of laughing over the HoJo excursion.

New York City Blog May 10-16

I went to an afternoon concert at Carnegie Hall expecting to hear mezzo-soprano, Sarah Craft Nelson. What a surprise to open the program and discover I was about to hear the Bob Jones University Singers. Why not? Eventually, Sarah Nelson Craft appeared under the aegis of the Masterworks Festival Chorus and New York City Chamber Orchestra. Her lustrous voice soared and glided in Vivaldi’s Gloria.
Later in the day a friend and I indulged in Minetta Tavern’s marrow bones and the bartender’s traditional Tom Collins. Like Sardi’s the Minetta Tavern’s walls are covered with caricatures of well know and unknown and forgotten celebrities.


Minetta Tavern Celebrity
Minetta Tavern Celebrity

A Columbia alumnus and I went to the Cosmopolitan Club’s Library for a Columbia sponsored talk on George Eliot’s Middlemarch. The participants fell over themselves musing about women’s rights in nineteenth century England. Have you noticed how Middlemarch has become one of those books you MUST like? The Cosmopolitan’s library is a dream. It’s filled with books: fiction, non-fiction, weighty dictionaries, picture books. There are comfy chairs to flop in and read or daydream or gaze out the eighth floor windows at Manhattan.


Cosmopolitan Club Library
Cosmopolitan Club Library

A late afternoon CMS Spanish Dances concert at Alice Tully Hall rounded off a busy week. A Boccherini string quintet followed by Paganini’s Terzetto Concertante featured the fabulous classical guitarist, Jason Vieaux. After the intermission, Alessio Bax, the pianist and Benjamin Beilman, the violinist roared through several pieces by Falla and then topped their performance with Ravel’s Sonata for Violin and Piano. Both performers are determined and exciting. I had given up a performance at Carnegie Hall to see Bax and was not disappointed.

About time: the Vatican finally recognized the State of Palestine.

New York City Blog May 2 — May 9

Alwan for the Arts on Beaver Street presented an evening of Flamenco and Arab Music, We arrived just in time to get the last two seats in the room on the fourth floor. The chairs were arranged in a semicircle. The six musicians and their various instruments: ouds, guitars, violins, tablas (like bongos), riqs (like tambourines) and drums faced us and there was a tiny space for dancing. It was a perfect NYC evening: intimate, exciting, multicultural, exotic, erotic. Barbara Martinez sang and danced alone and with the percussionist and dancer, Ramzi Eledlebi. Carmen, Steve Kulchek’s long time girlfriend, danced flamenco. Steve made a brave attempt.

Flamenco dancers: Ramzi Eledlebi and Barbara Martinez
Flamenco dancers: Ramzi Eledlebi and Barbara Martinez

Late Sunday afternoon was spent at Alice Tully Hall. CMS, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, presented a Beethoven and Ligeti concert. Alice Tully Hall is a wonderful space. There is room between the seats so that people can pass others. I had heard that Alice Tully was tall and made leg room a requirement of a hall that was financed by her.

I had two book parties in one evening: Bart Boehlert’s and Father Brown’s. The first was in real life. Bart and his companion, Ted Dawson, hosted a relaxed, early evening book party at Judson Memorial Church. Surrounded by John La Farge painted glass windows and Augustus St. Gaudens’s sculpture, we sat in a cozy circle in the Meeting Room. Bart told us about his memoir, HOW I LOOK.The cover, designed by Ted, shows Bart’s very buffed back as he looks at Whistler’s Theodore Durer. Bart spoke about his own life and his mother’s early influence on his respect for American fashion, exemplified by Perry Ellis. Bart mentioned Ellis’s attention to detail. The same could be said about his wonderfully written and designed book which is available on Amazon.

Bart Boehlert's How I Look
Bart Boehlert’s How I Look


From a UCC church setting I went to a Roman Catholic setting. As soon as I arrived home, I switched on the TV to Channel 21’s Father Brown. Needless to say, the R.C. book signing party was bloodier than the UCC one. Being a mystery set in the 1950s English landed gentry countryside, there is always murder, but there’s always lovely fashion too.

We heard Wycliffe Gordon at Jack Kleinsinger’s Highlights in Jazz held at Manhattan Community College. The first set was great. The second set was long winded. Jay Leonhart, the respected bass player, has taken to verbal riffs that do not match the quality of his playing.

New York City Blog April 27 — May 2

Ruth Rendell died today. She was a great and prolific writer. R. I. P. The Duchess of Cambridge gave birth to a baby girl today. May her life be as rich and full as Ruth Rendell’s.

My condolences to the Nepalese. Why are the most beautiful places often plagued with dangerous weather? I was in Nepal, briefly, many years ago. I flew from New Delhi in a tiny white Nepalese Airlines plane. We landed in the magical city of Katmandu and then gazed at misty, fogged-in Everest.

I was at the Frick Collection on Friday. It was packed. Was it because of the Sèvres exhibit or Coypel’s Don Quixote Tapestries? Maybe, but I think the Russell Page garden had something to do with it. Controversy is good for a museum, don’t you think? The air was buzzing with talk of the Russell Page garden being replaced by offices. Page designed the garden in the Seventies.He is reputed to have said it was a scene to be looked at. If people wanted to walk they could go to nearby Central Park. In the snapshot, gardeners’ equipment is in front of the lily pond. The Frick has a beautiful and informative website. You can download its app.


Russell Page Garden at the Frick Collection
Russell Page Garden at the Frick Collection

Speaking of Central Park, it is in its lovely spring mode.

Central Park on May 1
Central Park on May 1

Finally, a shout out to Peter Carey, Michael Ondaatje, Francine Prose, Teju Cole, Rachel Kushner and Taiye Selasi for withdrawing from the PEN ceremony. If only the powers that be had seen fit to honor Ruth Rendell.