New York City Blog Oct. 7 – Oct. 13

It’s been a busy week. On Monday, I attended a concert reading of Walden, The Musical. It’s about Thoreau and the Underground RR. The treatment of the theme is reverential.  A few days later I headed into outer space with Imax glasses, George Clooney and Sandra Bullock.I guess they couldn’t hire a robot so they settled on Bullock.Buffed but girly, cited as a genius but unable to read the space ship’s dials or how to land it, she could have been a member of the 9/11 gang. I want to dislike Clooney but he does his regular guy routine to perfection. $22!

I was supposed to go to the National Museum of the American Indian. It’s downtown near Battery Park and housed in the Alexander Hamilton Customs House, but it was not to be.My witty friend, J. D., explains it all:  Syllogism of the day: The Museum of the American Indian is part of the Smithsonian Museum.The Smithsonian is run by the Federal Government. The Federal Government is shut down.Therefore, the Museum of the American Indian is ….

The Book of Mormon was a hoot. I’m still laughing over its inspired naughtiness. It’s at that dusty old fossil, the Eugene O’Neill Theatre. The theatre rocked with laughter. A young Chicagoan told me she was shocked, delighted, but shocked. Are we New Yorkers more blunt about political correctness and the taboo subjects of politics and race? Hope so.

New York City Blog Sept. 30 – Oct. 6

The Italian Cultural Institute is on Park Avenue between 68th and 69th Streets.  Passing by on Friday, I noticed that the Institute is promoting the Marche region. In one of its upstairs galleries Raphael’s The Little Saint Catherine of Alexandra stands on lonely display. Raphael was a native son of Urbino, one of the Marche’s better known cities. That’s the tourist tie in, as if we needed any excuse to gaze at a superb painting of an angelic figure. It brought home to me why I’ll always be tied to Catholicism. The art and architecture have a hypnotic spell. Recently, a Jewish friend having spent several weeks in northern Italy, jokingly said that he’d spent so much time in Italian churches that he felt half Catholic.
Since I have one foot out the Catholic door and am always on the look out for a new religion, I asked an acquaintance why he had remained a Catholic and he said it was because he liked lost causes.
A Protestant friend told me that her son had married a Catholic and agreed to raise their children as Catholics. Protestant grandmother, her Protestant son and his Catholic wife attended their seven year old son’s first holy communion. The priest announced that only  baptized Catholics could receive communion. In one stroke, he alienated the Protestant contingent and embarrassed the Catholic mother. Well done, spokesman of a dwindling church. The Protestants did something I would never have done, they took communion anyway.  I guess that’s what it means to protest. Recently, Pope Francis criticized the Catholic Church for putting dogma before love. The priest didn’t get the message.
Catholicism is polytheistic.All those saints are minor deities. My mother, a woman without hope, prayed to St. Jude, patron saint of hopeless causes. In Padua, hometown of St. Anthony,  there’s a church dedicated to him. At one of the chapels people post requests and leave offerings. The last time I was there someone had left her wedding dress.
Sant’Eustachio is a Roman church that honors a discredited saint. According to legend and to Wikipedia, prior to his conversion to Christianity, Eustace was a Roman general named Placidus, who served the emperor Trajan. While hunting a stag in Tivoli near Rome, Placidus saw a vision of a crucifix lodged between the stag’s antlers. He was immediately converted, had himself and his family baptized, and changed his name to Eustace. Like Job, Eustace suffered.
Part of Catholicism’s lure is the fairy tale + damnation quality. Anyone who loves opera, I say, is crypto-Catholic.
Church of Sant'Eustachio, Rome
Church of Sant’Eustachio, Rome

If you squint, you can see the stag with the cross between his antlers perched at the top of the church’s pediment.

New York City Blog Sept. 23 – Sept. 29

Word of the week: Esophagogastroduodenoscopy, 26 letters that spell a word that means examination of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum. It was learned while I was undergoing a procedure that is far more pleasant than the prep. I’ve spared you photographs.

Studio 5 at City Center: Damian Woetzel hosts a series that examines various aspects of dance. The series is held in a space that reminds me of a high school auditorium. It holds about 200 people. On Sept. 24 he introduced Analia Centurion and Gabriel Misse. Both are extraordinary tango dancers. They demonstrated how the tango has changed over the years. According to Mr. Misse, the 1950s were the golden age of the tango. You can’t see Ms. Centurion’s very high heels.

Gabriel Misse watches Damian Woetzel and Analia Centurion dancing
Gabriel Misse watches Damian Woetzel and Analia Centurion dancing

Damian Woetzel, Gabriel Misse, Analia Centurion
Damian Woetzel, Gabriel Misse, Analia Centurion

 

 

Off to the Met to see the Balthus show.He’s so much an artist of his time, so European, so bourgeois – even his landscapes seem interior. The artist’s focus on naked young girls gave one of my friends the creeps.

Balthus's The Cat of La Mediterranee
Balthus’s The Cat of La Mediterranee

And, finally, a bouquet from Lila Acheson Wallace’s bequest to the Metropolitan to contribute fresh flower arrangements.

Lila Acheson Wallace floral bequest to the Met
Lila Acheson Wallace floral bequest to the Met

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In and Out of New York City Blog Sept. 16 – Sept. 22

IMG_0148There were glorious fireworks on Sept. 19. They were as good as the ones on July 4th, but no one can tell me what they were in honor of. What was the occasion? It was a full moon but so what.

 

The bride and her father
The bride and her father

 

The Father of the Bride, the Bride and the Groom
The Father of the Bride, the Bride and the Groom

The fireworks were nothing compared with the beautiful wedding I attended in Bucks County. Near the banks of the Delaware is a beautiful farm house with an oxblood red barn. Only a few minutes late thanks to the Pulaski Skyway, we sauntered across the lawn,  greeting different family members not seen in years. We were gently herded passed a shimmering pool and the jazz band. Then, the ceremony began. The bride floated across an open field toward the groom and us. It was in Spanish and English, adding an inclusiveness to the occasion. The rain had the good manners to hold off until late in the evening. By then we were fortified by great company, delicious food, a heavenly setting and an open bar.

New York City Blog Sept. 9 – Sept. 15

New York has switched into high cultural gear. From music and drama: Juilliard, Carnegie Hall, New York City Ballet to architecture and history: Municipal Arts Society, the Greenwich Village Society for Historical Preservation.
At Judson Memorial Church’s The Gym, Al Carmine’s THE BONUS ARMY is being performed. This photo is of Tony Perry, one of the wonderful singers and dancers in the production.The contortionist at the piano is the production state manager, Morgan Eisen.
Morgan Eisen
Morgan Eisen
Tony Perry Cutting a Rug
Tony Perry Cutting a Rug

Here’s Elijah Tucker, the Rock and Soul musician,  giving an impromptu West Village performance on The Backpacker.

 

www.elijahtucker.com
www.elijahtucker.com

New York City Sept. 1 – Sept. 8

Uptown has the semi-annual fashion week. Downtown has the Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit.The former was started in 1943 during WWII. Since the fashion world couldn’t get to Paris, New York fashion invented the Press Week. The art exhibit is 83 years old. It too is held twice yearly, two weeks around Labor Day and two weeks around Memorial Day. Centered around University Place. with tourists, NYU students and the

Washington Square Art Show
Washington Square Art Show

 

Glass for sale!
Glass for sale!

Union Square crowds from the north bustling past, it’s a busy area.

Remember the song, “Autumn in New York”?  It might have been written before Lincoln Center was merely a twinkle in some developer’s eye and when Broadway was the glitzy, glamorous place to be seen, but the song’s lyrics still ring true even if cultural events are now shared by the two locations. One of the most prestigious of the Lincoln Center organizations is Juilliard. You know it’s fall, when you receive your on-line Juilliard catalog.

New York City Blog Aug. 26 – Sept. 1

NYC Blog Aug. 26 – Sept. 1

 Want to hear French? Go to the Guggenheim. Want to be part of the Millennium generation? Go to the Guggenheim. The building’s architecture means more to me than its exhibits. I get a thrill romping up the white painted rotunda’s incline, poking into niche exhibits and then looking down from the top at the circles I’ve just climbed. The James Turrell exhibit has drawn such large crowds that looking down from the top tier was impossible. So I contented myself with shooting a photo of people basking in the irridescent colors of Turrell’s other world- E. T. installation.

Sun bathing at the Guggenheim
Sun bathing at the Guggenheim
This is the time of year the Y does its spring cleaning. The pool is emptied, cleaned and then refilled with 180,000 gallons of water.

Now you see it.
Now you see it.

 

Now you don't.
Now you don’t.

New York City Blog August 19 – August 25

 

 Hands up everyone who has wanted to take an axe to the computer, smartphone or Kindle. I lost my Kindle on one of the seven planes I took this past July. Never put anything into those plane pockets on the back of the seat in front of you. Well, I did. I have replaced it with a paper white in Japanese, I think – unless it’s Korean. I don’t think it’s Chinese. Since everything is in Japanese, Korean, or Chinese it’s difficult to follow directions. Help! Amazon! Welcome to my Kindle…
  Welcome to my Kindle
The Dickens of Detroit, Elmore Leonard, died this week. Anybody who reads American crime fiction knows what a fine writer he is. Some of his distinctive features are:  snappy dialogue, wit, ordinary but unusual settings, characters below the fashionable radar screen. He was known for being cool and that’s what his writing is. It will be interesting to see if his work weathers well.

This past Thursday a friend and I invested most of our 401Ks in a meal at Locanda Verde. It was worth it. The restaurant is south of Canal. Who goes there? Apparently, buffed, toned and successful people. On Sunday I took this photo in a Brooklyn butcher shop. Isn’t meat glorious?  Aren’t those #10 cans cute? To prove I do have a conscience (I’m thinking of all the cows, pigs, and chickens I’ve eaten) I’m posting a cottage in Portland, OR. that was built with recycled materials including #10 cans.

Meat Glorious Meat
Meat Glorious Meat

#10 Cans
#10 Cans

Recycled Cottage
Recycled Cottage

 

 

NYC Blog August 12 – August 18

I flew back to NYC from Portland,OR. in under six hours, took a taxi and headed from Newark to Manhattan. After being away, isn’t it a thrill to see the jagged skyline? The old beauties were there: the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building; the newer, less lovely Citigroup Center and MetLife Building and the newest, Bloomberg Tower and New York Times Building. What a hodgepodge! Gotham City, Big Apple, Megalopolis: home.

The latitudes of Rome and of NYC are about 40 degrees north. Having lived in both cities, I concur with the Italian saying, autumn begins in August. NYC harkens back to pre-WWII images of women in dresses, hats and gloves and men in suits and fedoras, all because of the slanting light I associate with 30’s movies and NYC in August. And jazz.

 

On Tuesday, a friend and I attended the Baha’i Center at 53 East 11th Street, dedicated to Dizzy Gillespie who became a Baha’i in 1968 soon after Martin Luther King’s death. It is a small auditorium that sponsors, on a shoestring, wonderful Jazz Tuesdays. Mike Longo, the jazz pianist and composer who played with Gillespie, and the tireless Dorothy Longo, run it. For more about Jazz Tuesdays visit the website: www.jazzbeat.com.

 That evening we heard The Makanda Project, a Boston jazz group. 14 – Fourteen members -14 on that tiny stage. The place burst with the compositions of the late Makanda Ken McIntyre.  Some members of the audience, knowing the players, cheered them on.

Jazz Tuesday: The Makanda Project
Jazz Tuesday: The Makanda Project
Autumn light, looking toward the West Side.
Autumn light, looking toward the West Side.

What a way to come back to NYC : supper in a nearby Italian restaurant,  a jazz session and then a stroll home in the balmy evening.

 

Out of New York City Monday, Aug. 5 – Sunday, Aug. 11

Portland, Oregon could be in the land of  OZ.  On a wallIMG_0287IMG_0289IMG_0273in Fred Meyer Supermarket these words are quoted from the London Times:  Portland is a bracing mixture, vital without being precious, laid-back without being starry-eyed. More than that, Portland is funky, not in a self-conscious way but as a reflection of how the locals choose to live.
Remember the wonderful Oz characters: Jack Pumpkinhead,  a jack-o’lantern, and his live Sawhorse, Tick-Tock, the Nome King and of course the Cowardly Lion, Tin Woodman and the Scarecrow, Dorothy, Toto, the Wizard and Ozma of Oz? They’re unique and sometimes weird but always appealing. Their modern day counterparts live in Portland. Here’s a photo of Toto who’s known as Indie in Portland. She’s going on a bike ride with Ozma of Oz.
Benson Bubblers and Roundabouts are unique Portland features.

 

Mary Jo Robertiello's mysteries and life