This time last week I was packing my bags in Agrigento and heading to Palermo. On March 17, wearing green earrings, I returned from Sicily having been there for two weeks.
I knew something was a foot (pace Sherlock) on my first day back in NYC at the Y pool. Our water exercise instructor showed up with luscious locks and wearing lipstick. Katie Couric was in the building! We were going to be filmed. We started stripping off shower caps that some wear in lieu of bathing caps. We practiced smiling. First, the advance person got into several huddles with our instructor. We, like kindergarten children, had been told to do a particular exercise to keep us busy. Then four men arrived. One was holding a sound instrument, another a pad, another a camera and, finally, one to give directions. Our instructor sprang into action. Exhorting us in a jolly way through a series of exercises while the Couric staff recorded this seemingly impromptu session.They weren’t required to take off their street shoes, unlike the rest of us.
It sure wasn’t Sicily. Going back to Italy is stepping into a time warp. I lived there for eight years and have gone back and forth for years, dragging physical and mental baggage with me.
Agrigento was our last stop before heading back to Palermo and the States.
No service from Verizon has turned into a benefit. I’m up close with my cell and realizing I don’t need a land line, but what lousy service. There was the promise of a repair person who never materialized and no notification from Verizon. I have been without the land line since Feb. 23 and it won’t be restored until March 8, plenty of time to whine and plot an escape.
Here’s an e.e. cummings’ poem, “maggie and millie and molly and may”.
On Sunday I got out the sleigh and dogs and headed to the Frick for an all Schubert concert by Wolfgang Holzmair. The Frick Music Room is a circular space with brocade covered walls and a raised platform on which Holzmair and his piano accompanist, Russell Ryan, performed. I chose to sit and listen to the songs without aid of the provided text for fear of crinkling the pages and driving my fellow guests crazy. It was a warm, intensely melodious afternoon in snowy Manhattan.
Monday night my hiking friends and I celebrated Chinese New Year. One of our members does all the arranging with a mid-town restaurant. This year, while spinning the lazy susan, we were regaled with a brief history of the Chinese zodiac, courtesy of one of the servers. The dragon, the only mythical sign, is made up of four animals: the fish, the snake, the lizard and one other I can’t remember. Happy Year of the Horse!
Wednesday I was at the Arsenal, the building that predates Central Park, at 65th Street and Fifth Avenue. We met in the conference room that has the original 1858 c. drawing plan of Olmsted and Vaux. It won the design to expand the park.
There’s something mesmerizing about Chris Christie aka the prince of Port Authority. He reminds me of other hypnotic fat men: Sydney Greenstreet in The Maltese Falcon and Casablanca, Count Fusco in Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White.
February 2nd: R. I. P. Philip Seymour Hoffman. The last movie I saw him in was A Late Quartet. He and the other wonderful actors created the impression that they were highly skilled musicians who had been playing together for years. Hoffman was buried from St Ignatious Loyola, another man who had his own terrors. Although there were many mourners present, not one carried the coffin. Instead, it was carried, I guess, by minimum wage employees of Frank Campbell.
stand in a long line. Secretly, I was relieved that we decided to forgo the pleasure and instead ate a delicious Chinese meal with not a vegetable in sight.
On Martin Luther King Day I went to MOMA. I’ve haunted that place since childhood and have always felt rejuvenated by its buzz. The video, Dante Ferretti: Design and Construction for the Cinema, follows the long, illustrious career of Dante Ferretti, the Italian production designer of sets and costumes. You’ve seen his work unless you just arrived from Mars. He’s worked with Pasolini, Fellini, Scorsese, Coppola and garnered slews of awards. He’s claustrophobic. He thinks it’s because of U. S. bombs hitting his house when he was about three. His mother searched among the rubble for days until she found him. In the garden/sculpture court stand two of Ferretti’s Archimboldo figures. They’re named after Giuseppe Arcimboldo, the 16th century Italian painter who painted weird portraits that consisted of fruits, vegetables, flowers.
Do you get installations? Me neither. As long as I don’t have to fund them or explain them, I can enjoy the experience for about ten minutes. Isaac Julien’s Ten Thousand Waves weaves traditional Chinese myths with a contemporary tragedy. It’s shown on nine double sided screens suspended from the ceiling of MOMA’s Marron Atrium. The spectators and yours truly sprawled on cushions and couches on the floor below. It would make a great pajama party.
Since I write crime procedurals, I’m always interested in new crime fiction. Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson are kicking up their heels playing Louisiana detectives in HBO’s True Detective. McConaughey plays the big cliche´– the loner who speaks the harsh truth, no family i.e. dead child, lives for his work and never, never smiles. Harrelson plays the old Southern boy who keeps a smiley face lid on everything. You know what? It works. These two actors are character actors and they are great together. Also, the script is witty. It helps that it’s set in Louisiana, reinforcing our northern suspicion that deeply southern states have lower standards of morality than we do. (Forget about bridge gate. HE didn’t know anything about it.)
“Seize the hilltops!” These words, encouraging settlers’ land grabs, were yelled by the late Ariel Sharon after the signing of the Oslo accords. As I listened to Joe Biden making one of his high school speeches larding praise on Arik, King of Israel, I wondered about the lack of coverage of the Palestinians’ reaction to the death of the Monster. Was he partially responsible for the massacre of civilians at Qibya in 1953, then at Sabra and Shatila in 1982? We’ll never know from American media.
I accompanied a gardener friend to the Arsenal in Central Park. It’s a brick building that predates the park and was built between 1847 and 1851. Originally, the Arsenal was an arms and ammunition storehouse for the New York State Militia. We attended a discussion about Russell Page’s The Education of a Gardener. Fascinating to enter a world about which I know nothing and to listen to people who dedicate their lives to preserving the Earth’s earth and the complexities that involves.
New York City Blog Jan. 5 – Jan. 12