I saw Florence Foster Jenkins. Fine acting by pros Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant. It’s a remake of the children’s tale, The Emperor’s New Clothes. In this case, the one person who speaks and writes the truth, The New York Post’s critic, is portrayed as the villain for reviewing honestly Jenkins’s Carnegie Hall recital. I didn’t see the point of the movie and I didn’t like Jenkins. She embodied our American mantra: money talks. She manipulated people through her wealth. Florence Foster Jenkins is surrounded by older ladies who are either very, very stupid and honestly think she can sing or they’re dreary social climbers dazzled by her $$$$$. As a gigolo, Hugh Grant is very good at playing a man who’s playing a part. Question: Why should a rich white lady be encouraged to delude herself? Answer: Because she’ s a rich white lady. What do people of color think of Florence Foster Jenkins?
Employees Only is a wonderful restaurant on Hudson Street. Forget the weird name but remember it until you arrive at 510 Hudson. It has a dated speakeasy ambiance, so beloved by us sentimental New Yorkers. Are the five owners/ bartenders pictured in the retro photo? After you arrive at 510 Hudson, you give your name for admittance and enter a dark crowded bar. Oh, where is the cigarette smoke of yesteryear? Then you proceed to a surprisingly bright room with a skylight. The food is delicious. The knockout lamb chops wrapped in bacon, the fresh and tasty succotash. The word conjures up tired veggies but not at Employees Only. Lovely service and lots of fun. Watch out, Minetta Tavern. You have the buzz but Employees Only has the food.
The Film Forum has had a stroke of genius. It’s offering twofers. For the price of one movie you can see two. They have quite a lineup, starting with Rear Window and Vertigo. I ordered my ticket online. By the time I arrived at the Film Form, sold out signs were posted. Something you don’t often see at the Film Forum. Rear Window was packed. Extra chairs were set up at the back of the theatre. I am an Alfred Hitchcock fan. RearWindow is a great favorite and I’ve seen it numerous times over the years in movie houses, drive-ins and on TV. There’s nothing like an old fashioned movie house packed with fans. The audience was hushed, like children listening to a well loved fairy tale. There’s always something new in a Hitchcock film. This time I concentrated on clothing: Grace Kelly’s lavish Edith Head wardrobe, Wendell Corey as the best dressed NYPD detective ever, the spotlessly attired 21 Club waiter who delivers a lobster dinner, just the thing to serve the world famous photographer and temporary invalid, James Stewart. Hitchcock made his American movies when many people were wrapping their tuxes in mothballs and switching to jeans. Hitchcock preferred bespoke costumes especially for his blonde stars. Didn’t he escort Eva Maria Saint on a Bergdorf’s shopping exhibition for her North by Northwest wardrobe? Rear Window was made in 1954, pre-air conditioning, which is underlined by the couple sleeping on the fire escape but there were Kelly, gossamer in her divine confections and Wendell Corey, dapper and cool in sweltering NYC summer humidity, Thelma Ritter, in a very cute summer dress, dragging a large shovel up and down stairs and ledges as Kelly climbs a few stories in a princess like outfit to the murderer’s lair. Was Hitchcock obsessed with clothes? Wendell Corey comments on the victim’s wardrobe as dated but serviceable. James Stewart comments on the impossibility of Kelly and her wardrobe making do in the wild. The last scene shows Stewart snoring away with two broken legs, while Kelly, dressed down – in jeans! – sneaks a look at Harper’s Bazaar. I didn’t stay for Vertigo. Unlike many people, it’s one of my least favorite Hitchcock films.
The week began with Frick Education Day. It’s held on a Monday, the day the Collection is closed to the public. It’s packed with artsy activities such as making your own Meissen cup.The Girl with the Extra Earring demonstrated how to repurpose old jewelry. There’s orchid repotting, talks about Rembrandt’s self-portrait and about Clodion’s sculpture, I attended a walk-through of Watteau’s military drawings, was photographed in a Renoir painting and ate my lunch in nearby Central Park.The Staff Art Exhibition is a highlight. Eat, Drink, Page! pictured below on the left was done by Ian Rafael Titus in collaboration with Lorenzo De Los Angeles.
Stuart Davis is one of my favorite American artists. His splashy colors and script move. His signature alone is a work of art. Davis started out drawing commercial products and went on to give Cubism a bold American flavor. The Whitney has mounted a big exhibit that’s on until September 25. Afterwards, we dined in Untitled, the Whitney restaurant. Lovely food, attentive service, lashings of red wine and great conversation but isn’t that a dopey name for a restaurant?
Back to the rock face. I’m finishing the second Steve Kulchek police procedural, Graphic Lessons.
Five and a half hours to fly from Portland, OR. to NYC. I find that amazing, crossing a continent in less time than it takes to drive to upper New York state.
The Airbnb saga has taught me a valuable, expensive lesson. Check descriptions of the property very carefully. Make sure there’s an indoor toilet. Get in touch with Airbnb if you realize you’ve made a dreadful mistake. When you arrive at the property and realize that the owners are trick photographers, take photos of the garage interior that has the fanciful label, The Garden House.
When I return each July from Portland, Oregon I’m concerned that I’ll find my hometown too gritty, rude, pushy, crowded. Not at all. It’s NYC! The Italian saying, autumn begins in August, applies to NYC. The diagonal lighting, the shadows, the summer crowd returning to Manhattan are precursors of fall. Walking by the Carlyle’s Bobby Short Way, I recalled that wonderful singer’s rendition of “Autumn in New York”.
I went to the Met Breuer at 75 St. and Madison. In its previous incarnation as the Whitney I didn’t appreciate the bunker-like building. Now, I do. Is it cleaner? The Met has tweaked the building’s surfaces, crannies and corners. Before, it seemed dusty. Now it seems polished and open for business. It smells like a new car.The enormous elevator, the bluestone floors, the exhibits that go on forever spell Manhattan writ large, 1966 style with 2016 panache. Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible is a wonderful exploration of when is a painting finished. Formerly, the exhibits were artsy, exhibits themselves. Now, they present the work in an exciting but understated way. Strolling from one Diane Arbus photo in a current exhibit recreated lonely aspects of 1950s NYC.