New York City Blog – June 20- June 25

June 20 was the summer solstice and the full moon known as Strawberry Moon. It was called the Strawberry Moon by the Algonquin because it occurs when strawberries were harvested. This is the first time in fifty years the summer solstice and the full moon occurred together. The last time was 1967 and it won’t happen again until 2062. I caught a glimpse of the lovely pink moon on Monday.

I spent early Tuesday morning at the NYC Field Office of Detention and Removal Operations. Judson Community Church advocates a humane immigration policy. About fifteen of us accompanied the Haitian man who is a Judson congregant and who has to report to the Department of Homeland Security at Federal Plaza. All went well. We were in and out in no time. It was good news for the next few months for our friend and relief for his legal team. BUT what a ghastly building. It reeks of anxiety. In the faces of the people ordered to report you see despair masked by stoicism. Remember Kafka or any of those other tales of persecution? They reduced me to a sullen boredom. So did Federal Plaza.

Friends and I had a picnic at Wave Hill. Imagine, 28 acres of horticulture gardens overlooking the Hudson. As the British were voting and sweating over Brexit, we wandered on a balmy early evening over the lawns, under the beeches, sniffing the lavender and having a lovely time. The Hudson River sunset photo is by Wallace W., a fine photographer and a fine friend.

Wave Hill Lavender
Wave Hill Lavender
Wave Hill
Wave Hill, looking west to the Hudson

New York City Blog – June 13 – June 19

Tuesday was a perfect summer evening in Manhattan. We had a great steak dinner at Philip Marie on Hudson, sitting outside people and dog gawking. Above us, from the restaurant’s roof, waved the Pride flag, a symbol of the LGBT community and a sorry reminder of the recent Orlando massacre.

On Thursday it was the last in the Highlights in Jazz series for the season. The surprise guest was Vincent Gardner, the trombonist. He joined the Brazilian trio Trio Da Paz on the BMCC (Borough of Manhattan Community College) stage. Gardner began his set with the Kurt Weill/ Ogden Nash standard, Speak Low. Trio Da Paz, Nilson Matta on bass, Duduka Du Fonseca on drums and Romero Lubamba on guitar is a Brazilian jazz group that performs its own numbers as well as other music.

Last night a friend and I had a glorious time at Minetta Tavern. We were seated under a black and white photo of Robert “Bobby” Morse and the original Minetta Tavern owner, Eddie Sieveri. Sieveri used to play basketball in the basement of nearby Judson Memorial Church. The minister at the time was Robert Spike who encouraged the predominantly Italian community to come to Judson. The Reverend Spike would later be murdered in Chicago

I stopped by the LGBT building on West 13th St. It’s a beautiful, bright building that exudes hope and acceptance. After the Orlando massacre, two armed policeman stand guard.

Police Guards outside LGBT Community Center
Police Guards outside LGBT Community Center
LGBT Community Center
LGBT Community Center

New York City Blog – June 5 – June 11


Documentaries: Down Memory Lane

I thought Weiner was odd. Why would anyone allow filming of his private life after he had indulged in social media sex, especially if you’re dependent on the public. Ask Anthony Weiner. One of the first shots was in the House of Representatives. Weiner was screaming at other members, selling himself as the fearless liberal. His wife and kid were props. I feel sorry for the kid but wonder, once again, why the wife went along with it. But I was there, gobbling up every scene of this side show.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave Joseph Stalin a film of the musical, Oklahoma! Stalin liked it so much that he ordered the Soviet Union film industry to make musicals. And they did! Years ago, I saw this wonderful documentary, East Side Story, at the Film Forum:. There were interviews with frustrated directors who had to work with electric blackouts on a regular basis. One of my favorite scenes was buxom, blond girls driving tractors across a field like a chorus line and singing lustily about the father/mother land.
Best of Enemies, in which William F. Buckley and Gore Vidal smack one another around rhetorically, is hypnotizing. Although Vidal is better looking and has more measured opinions, I couldn’t take my eyes off fascinating, skittish William Buckley. Is it his voice? Is it his constant motion? Is it his resemblance to Richard III? Both men speak a quality of English that has been lost in public discourse.

I applauded Edward Snowden actions and consider him a brave and honorable man. So I went to the documentary as if I were going to a religious service. Although Laura Poitras and journalist Glenn Greenwald focused on themselves more than on Snowden, it is  fascinating. If only William Buckley were alive. Imagine him ranting about Snowden.

Did you see the documentary about contrary, contentious Robert Crumb, the off beat cartoonist who lived in a cluttered (polite word) house with his equally weird cartoonist wife? It’s a sad, riveting show and tell.

New York City Blog – May 30 – June 3

Have you seen The Fallen Idol? Film Forum is having a Carol Reed moment. Reed, the director and Graham Greene, the writer, worked on three films together: The Fallen Idol, The Third Man and Our Man in Havana. Not bad, eh? The 1948 movie is charming. It’s a literate thriller that takes place in an impossibly vast and posh mansion in post-war London. The superb cast includes Ralph Richardson, Michelle Morgan and the amazing child, Bobby Henrey. Mr. Henrey presented his elderly self at the Film Forum’s first screening of The Fallen Idol. The small movie houses are bucking up. Film Forum and IFC have Q & A’s with actors from long ago productions. Earlier in the week, Film Forum presented The Odd Man Out, an earlier Reed film. It stars the young, handsome James Mason as an Irish revolutionary who spends most of the long film bleeding to death. Afterwards, dinner at the Jane Restaurant on Houston. Lovely oysters and shrimp for me and a burger, medium please, for my pal from Michigan.

Friday night we went to the NY Philharmonic in what used to be called the Avery Fisher Hall. Frank Huang, the lead violinist, had a stellar solo debut gliding us through a Grieg quickie followed, after intermission, by Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons. I’m embarrassed to say that after all the time I’ve spent at Lincoln Center I had never been to the Shun Lee Cafe. What a treat. It’s tucked into west 65th Street, and a perfect pretheatre restaurant. Forget the dim sum. It’s so 1970’s. Instead, head straight for the entrées and delicious white wine. Wine? In a Chinese restaurant? That’s right. It’s 2016, folks.