New York City Blog June 14 — June 21

At the beginning of the week we went to Locanda Verde to celebrate a birthday and had a sinfully delicious ice cream dessert, Fantasia di Cassata for Two. Ricotta gelato is one of the ingredients. The restaurant’s ricotta whether eaten as an appetizer or in dessert is wonderful. Steve Kulchek has promised to bring his daughter, Jessie, here when she returns from her junior year abroad in Sicily.

On June 18 the GVSHP (The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation} dedicated a plaque to Martha Graham at the site of her studio, 66 Fifth Avenue. The elderly, great and good of the dance world stood in the impending rain. Finally, the plaque was unveiled. While Graham danced on video like a five year old at her birthday party, Stuart Hodes told charming stories about being a member of the Graham company from 1947 to 1958. The owner of Two Boots provided pizza al fresco on the chilly June evening.
Stuart Hodes, his wife, Liz, a former Graham dancer, Stuart’s late brother, Al Gescheidt,

Stuart Hodes at 66 Fifth Avenue, site of Martha Graham's studio

Stuart Hodes at 66 Fifth Avenue, site of Martha Graham’s studio

and I all lived on Lexington Avenue and 31 Street in a run down apartment house. We had great parties, several drug raids and occasionally, a neighborhood prostitute sleeping under the stairs. Al was a photographer who turned his apartment into a dark room and specialized in trick photography.

Al Gescheidt's take on the Mona Lisa

Al Gescheidt’s take on the Mona Lisa

New York City Blog June 8 — June 15

On a hot summer night a friend and I went to Gigino’s in Tribeca, perched at a little table on the cement porch because the a/c was down. We had a terrific time. Gigino’s has been in existence since 1994 but seems more settled, more of a landmark. I had assumed the charming snapshot of nonno, cigarette planted firmly in the corner of his mouth, running after his grandson, was a family photo. Who knows? Maybe it’s a clever publicist’s stunt to play on the homey quality that the word, trattoria, conveys.

Gigino's Menu

Gigino’s Menu

We then went to Highlights in Jazz at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center. It’s NYC’s oldest running jazz series, as we are constantly reminded by the genial host, Jack Kleinsinger. This last concert of the season featured the jazz pianist, Randy Weston and Billy Harper the saxophonist. Alexis Cole, the singer and Dylan Meeks, the pianist rounded out the first part of the evening. We left early and slogged our way through the NYC humidity.

I’m about to breech the new Whitney. As everyone knows it’s in the newest, hottest Manhattan area, the former meat packing district and a stone’s throw from that other trend setter and tourist attraction, the High Line. Did you like the former bunker -er- museum space on Madison and 75th Street? I didn’t. It was more like a prison that a museum. Actually, it could be Rikers East. Can you imagine the reaction of the people in the ‘hood?

New York City Blog June 1 — June 7

Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is the perfect vehicle for Balanchine’s choreography and Mendelssohn’s music. The NYCB’s current production is based on Balanchine’s production which premiered in 1962.The dancing is superb and the sets are magical. Most of the play takes place in an enchanted forest. Saturday afternoon’s audience was multigenerational and judging by the laughter and applause the performance was warmly appreciated.
Practically next door at the N. Y. Public Library for the Performing Arts, there’s a Frank Sinatra exhibit. Talk about strolling down memory lane. There are great photos of recording sessions and of some of the other celebrities who sang with Sinatra. His mentors were Billie Holiday, Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong. It was Crosby who said: Frank Sinatra is a singer who comes along once in a life time but why did he have to come in mine? There’s even a closed booth where you can sing along with old blue eyes. The exhibit is at the library until September 4.
El Museo del Barrio has an exhibit honoring Gabriel Figueroa, the Mexican

Frank Sinatra

Frank Sinatra

Sinatra at the Paramount

Sinatra at the Paramount

cinematographer. Who needs technicolor? Figueroa’s black and white scenes evoke moody, intense passion. They remind me of Martha Graham’s dances. Figueroa’s films are being shown at the Film Forum this week.