Treats not tricks. Isn’t it a hoot the way Halloween enchants NYC? Going into stores and seeing clerks wearing horns and mustaches, watching a girl on 14th Street swinging an axe and hoping it’s made of rubber and part of a costume. Who can resist a kid carrying a pumpkin?
My late friend, Al Gescheidt, was crazy about cats and was the wizard of the dark room. Here are a few (clean) examples of his work:
Happy, catty Halloween
My Halloween Costume
A friend and I swanned around the Art/ Antiques show at the Park Avenue Armory. After two glasses of lovely champagne I had the nerve to try on a $28,000 bracelet.
Steve Kulchek is interested in batting averages and I am interested in the folklore of baseball. Fashion note about the world series: in Kansas City the Mets wore dull gray uniforms. The Royals were in sparkling white and blue. In NYC, the Royals wore the dull gray uniforms and the Mets were in sparky orange (the Giants) and blue (the Dodgers) uniforms.
Steve was rooting for the Mets, of course, being a NYC guy. He plays shortstop on the NYPD team.
Welcome to the Belle Epoque on Irving Place. Lady Mendl’s Tea Salon is housed in The Inn at Irving Place. It serves lovely finger food and has a charming, old world atmosphere. Lady Mendl was Elsie De Wolf, an early interior decorator who worked for Henry Clay Frick Frick and Stanford White.
On Sunday I was a docent for Open House (www.ohny.org). It focused on tours and talks about New York buildings and sites. My building was the Judson Memorial Church, built by Stanford White in 1890-92 and situated at the south end of Washington Square Park. Since taking photos was allowed, people clicked away at the John LaFarge stained glassed windows. My favorites are the boys in the back room or the balcony, Peter, Paul and John.The rosettes that decorate the arches were later repeated by White in his design of the Washington Square Arch.
Judson’s Rosettes, repeated in the Washington Square Arch.
On Tuesday, I watched politicians congratulating themselves as Mayor de Blasio announced that Blackstone is buying the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village apartment complex, built in the late 1940’s. Blackstone will pay over five billion dollars for 80 acres that house thirty thousand people in eleven thousand apartments. Wow!
At the Arsenal, the Garden and Forest Book Club discussed Andrea Wulf’s book, The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World. Humboldt was an environmentalist, explorer, and naturalist. The list of his achievements is extraordinary and yet he’s forgotten. Wolf explains in her book that she want to re-ignite recognition of Humboldt. One of the fringe benefits of meeting at the Arsenal is getting off the subway at 57 Street and Fifth Avenue. MTA has done itself proud with murals of birds and other animals in the nearby Central Park Children’s Zoo.
On October 11 The New Century Jazz Quartet belted out original and standard pieces at the Emmanuel Baptist Church jazz vespers. It has built itself an enviable reputation in Japan and the States. The Quartet’s quintet of bass, drums, piano, alto saxophone and trumpet made the church rock.
Across the street from the Church, Brooklyn was revving up for Halloween.
Afterwards, we had dinner at Madiba a “South African Cuisine in a Brooklyn Scene”. The name is a tribute to Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. The location was originally a garage and has been modeled after sheens which are South African dining halls. It’s a cosy atmosphere in a series of funky rooms. No, I didn’t have ostrich. We had lovely chicken wings and then crayfish.
A friend and I thought Free Friday evening at MOMA would be packed. The plan: the Picasso exhibit on the fourth floor, supper in the fourth floor cafe and a Chech movie downstairs in the basement. The reality: the cafe was surprisingly empty. We sat on the balcony overlooking the sculpture garden three stories below, eating and drinking to abandon, skipped Picasso and proceeded to the movies.
Move over Ingmar Bergman and Michelangelo Antonioni,.The most boring movie prize goes to the 1962 Věra Chytilová. Does anyone watch the movies of Bergman, Antonioni any more?
Also featured was a ten minute 1958 feature by Roman Polanski.
Outside, on Sunday, it was a balmy, perfect New York fall evening. Within, we were wrapped in the cocoon of the Frick Music Room. Pallade Music is a Baroque Ensemble based in Montreal. The four performers play the baroque violin, the baroque cello, the theorbo and the harpsichord. The program was dominated by Telemann (1681-1767). Esteban LaRotta played the theorbo, a lute with a long neck extension, about six feet long. I wondered about the stories LaRotta could tell about getting the theorbo on and off planes and trains and in and out of cars.
Supper was at Persepolis, a charming Persian restaurant. I ordered an odd but delicious appetizer that consisted of cooked diced beets, yogurt, walnuts and raisins. Had someone given me that recipe, I would never have gone near it. Wrong, yet again, and the beets dyed the yogurt a lovely pink.
You can’t go home again. Right? I was a fan/camp follower/ groupie of Charles Ludlum’s Ridiculous Theatrical Company. I even went to Ludlum’s funeral at St. Joseph’s. I have never laughed so hard in my life as I did at Galas and The Mystery of Irma Vep. The little theatre rocked with the screams of laughter. I’m not exaggerating. Ask anyone who was fortunate enough to see the great Ludlum and his partner, Everett Quinton in action. Penguin Reg Theatre is presenting Drop Dead Perfect at St. Clement’s with …. Everett Quinton! St. Clement’s is composed primarily of stairs. A friend and I climbed up the stairs to the theatre, climbed down more stairs and panted to our seats as the curtain was parting. Quinton is great in drag and a very funny man, but Ludlum was the engine. Drop Dead Perfect is a dim memory of what had once been briefly at Christopher and Seventh Avenue South.
I went to the Vittorio De Sica festival at Film Forum. Being cowardly, I didn’t choose to see Umberto D. again, a heart wrenching movie about old age in postwar Italy. It even includes a dog. Instead, I saw Max Opel’s The Earrings of Madame D…starring Danelle Darrieux, Charles Boyer and Vittorio De Sica. What a load of elegant nonsense. The three actors swan around for what seems like hours in gorgeous costumes and great jewelry. The late Roger Ebert lauded the film for its technical mastery. Mr. Ebert was a white male and his eyes seemed as teary as John Boehner’s as he described the lost and found and lost love motif. I’m a white female and reacted differently. I was angry with myself for having fallen in my youth for the myth that all a woman needs are looks and guile. Danelle Darrieux has outlived her princess heroine who dies young. (After all, what’s a woman worth after the age of thirty?) Ms. Darrieux is 98. She’s neck and neck with another Parisian inhabitant, 99 year old Olivia de Havilland, one of the few actresses who could play goodness well i.e. Melanie in Gone with the Wind.
The New York Academy of Medicine sponsored Andrea Wulf’s talk about her newest book, The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World. The naturalist, Alexander von Humboldt (1769–1859), introduced many theories about nature, ecology and weather which have been incorporated into our modern sensibility. Wulf honors her fellow German by recounting his adventurous life, describing his accomplishments and name dropping. Among von Humboldt’s disciples were Charles Lyell, Charles Darwin, Henry David Thoreau, George Perkins Marsh and John Muir. Wulf is an engaging speaker and attracted a large crowd in the Academy of Medicine’s library.
N. Y. Academy of Medicine’s Library
I chose to go to MOMA’s blockbuster Picasso Sculpture on a rainy Friday, thinking the threat of Hurricane Joaquin would keep New Yorkers indoors. I hadn’t reckoned on the tourists, but it still wasn’t too crowded. MOMA allows photos. People were taking selfies with the sculpture. I chose to spare you. I’m throwing in the permanent helicopter.