All posts by mangiamillie

New York City Blog Dec. 29 – Jan. 4

Central Park West, 1/2/14
Central Park West, 1/2/14

Welcome to a snowy day in NYC.

Two complicated men this week:

W. H. Auden (1907-1973) moved to NYC,  broke up with his boy friend, his mother died and WW II had begun. This is when he wrote  For the Time Being: A Christmas Oratorio.
“The happy morning is over,
The night of agony still to come; the time is noon:
When the Spirit must practice his scales of rejoicing
Without even a hostile audience, and the Soul endure
A silence that is neither for nor against her faith
That God’s Will be done, That, in spite of her prayers,
God will cheat no one, not even the world of its triumph.
Rene´ Magritte (1898-1967) was a Belgian surreal artist whose mother killed herself. When her body was found, her dress was draped across her face. This image is repeated in several of Magritte’s works. MOMA has mounted a large exhibit of his works from 1926 to 1938. Going to an exhibit at MOMA on a Saturday afternoon means you love crowds. I’m glad I went because there was so much to see. Lovers with faces draped in cloth, the pipe that isn’t a pipe. Isn’t Magritte an illustrator rather than an artist?

 

New York City Blog Dec. 22- 28

The Metropolitan Opera’s Orchestra performs at Carnegie Hall throughout the year. The Sunday concerts I attend begin at 3 p.m. and end around 5:30. It’s a perfect afternoon, followed by early supper in one of the nearby restaurants. Peter Mattei, the great baritone, sang Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen. This was followed by Mahler’s Symphony No. 7. Long, isn’t it? I was struck by how so many movie musical scores are indebted to this piece.
Christmas is like the Mahler symphony: long with bits of lovely melody. I had a delightful morning, sitting in bed and reading
Martha Gellhorn on Cuba, eating Pat’s delicious lemon bread and half listening to the BBC’s Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols.

K & M's beacon on Cambridge
K & M’s beacon on Cambridge
Later, off to K & M’s for the annual Christmas party. It was especially mellow and loving this year. The large Christmas tree in the front parlor shines down on the Brooklyn street. Long may it do so.
Bad movie #2 in two weeks: The Invisible Woman. It was utterly predictable. Did all the actors phone in their parts? Dickens’s wife suffered but not as much as I did.

New York City Blog Dec. 15 – Dec. 21

New York City Blog Dec. 15 – Dec. 21 :

I love the Christmas season in New York City: the music, the festivities, the fervid air of exchanging and changing presents. The Metropolitan hosted the Salzburg Marionettes presentation of “Alice in Wonderland”. It’s the Theatre’s 100th birthday and the puppeteers did themselves proud, as did the many well behaved children in the audience. To lapse into cliches and mixed metaphors, we were rapt – from 9 to 90 – with the usual suspects, Alice, the White Rabbit, the Caterpillar who sang wonderfully off key, and the Cheshire Cat. Afterwards, we stood in front of the enormous Christmas tree with the Neopolitan figures. Bethlehem has been stolen by the Italian artists. Don’t most of us think of that city on the far east coast of the Mediterranean as Italian? We continued to the Venetian Glass by Carlo Scarpa Exhibit in the Lehman Wing.The inventive ways the glass were shaped and decorated are beautifully displayed. The lighting is dark and dramatic, like Venice at nighttime.
Neopolitan precepio
Neopolitan precepio

 

In the Robert Lehman Wing at the Met
In the Robert Lehman Wing at the Met

At BAM on Dec. 19 to see “The Nutcracker” music by Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky and choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky. Sarah Lane and Joseph Gorak were wonderful, BUT the set of the party in the mansion looks as if the owners were in bankruptcy and the lighting was too dim. What happened, Jennifer Tipton? Before the performance we had dinner at Junior’s. Such fun. It’s the Brooklyn of the 1940 -1960 era. Photos of movie stars of a certain age decorate the walls. My chicken pot pie could have fed a family of four …. buffalo. My friend’s intention of ordering a salad morphed into a Reuben sandwich. Who can blame him?

New York City Blog: December 8 – December 14

It’s a giddy time of year, isn’t it? Christmas and its contenders crowd the calendar with parties, concerts, sing alongs and … traffic. I had reserved a car from 777 to take me from Manhattan to Brooklyn and it was canceled twenty minutes before I was due to leave. The reason given? No cars. “No problem,” said the 777 rep as she hung up. What a way to run a business.

“All that Glitters” is one of the lovely Christmas events. It’s held at Judson Memorial Church. Stanford White’s building  is decked out in Victorian lights that suit its late nineteenth century architecture. The West Village Chorale, led by Michael Conley and Elena Belli, outdid themselves. They shifted effortlessly (after a mere one million hours of rehearsal) from traditional carols to fourteenth century Irish music, to Benjamin Britten’s lovely Ceremony of Carols and then on to Hollywood numbers such as “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”. Director Conley excused himself for not including Hanukkah music by pointing out that most

A murky snapshot of a wonderful event, "All that Glitters"
A murky snapshot of a wonderful event, “All that Glitters”

contemporary Christmas carols were written by New York Jews i.e. “The Christmas Song” and “White Christmas”.

New York City Blog Dec. 1 – Dec. 7

It’s been a week filled with architecture, music, and art. On Sunday, I joined Francis Marrone’s Divorak in Love walk for the Municipal Art  Society. Among the MAS regulars, Francis’s walks are fabled and usually sold out. He’s animated and infuses his talks with knowledge and delicious details. From 1892 to 1895,  Divorak lived on East 17th Street. The house was demolished by Beth Israel, in spite of the fact that the New World Symphony was composed there and the late Czech prime minister Havel petitioned to preserve it.

The one and only Ruby Rims standing in front of lots of teddy bears
The one and only Ruby Rims standing in front of lots of teddy bears
Ruby Rims and Friends is an annual cabaret event held at Judson Memorial Church. I went to the first of two performances. Such fun! Ruby was in full regalia: slinky gown,  a shedding boa and quite a hairdo. Some of the highlights were Ruby, of course; Lennie Watts belting out “Schadenfreude” from avenue q and Sidney Myer’s “Santa Bubba”. The

photo is in glorious/nauseating salmon pink.
 I made the mistake of going to The Great Beauty this week. I have a weakness for all things Italian except Fellini. Aside from La Strada and I Vitelloni, I think his movies reek of superficial mystery and lots of pretentiousness. Hello, Paolo Sorrentino, the director of The Great Beauty. What a bore. It’s filled with all those elements that make Americans’ mouths water: bespoke clothing, Roman architecture, luscious apartments, an arrogant leading man, a long winded script about the meaning (zzzzz) of life. The only thing worse than Fellini is warmed over Fellini.
Clover Vail in her studio
Clover Vail in her studio
To the good stuff: Clover Vail’s studio. Clover is a wonderful artist who paints in watercolor and in acrylic and sculpts. Please, do not judge her work from my lousy photo.

New York City Blog Nov. 24 – Dec. 1

“The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits.” Who said this earlier this week? Pope Francis, that’s who. In his 2013 encyclical, Evangelii Gaudeum (Joy of the Gospel), he lambasts our obsession with wealth. “Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world.” He says that the death of an elderly woman from hunger isn’t news, but the drop of a few stock market points is. Way to go, Pope Francis. He’s one of the bad boys of Roman Catholicism, the Jesuits.
Have you ever sat through a performance and felt that it was one of the most exciting experiences you have ever had? That’s what happened last Sunday at Lincoln Center’s Chamber Music Society (CMS) five p.m. concert. Pianist Alessio Bax sailed and thundered through Liszt’s “Après une lecture du Dante, fantasia quasi sonata”. More! More!
Thanksgiving is such a piece of baggage. I got off easily this year, responsible for only two dishes: Citarella’s wonderful shrimp and my tried and true onion dish.Invited to a dear friend’s Brooklyn apartment, I met three of her four children. All of them have their mother’s wit which made for a very amusing time.

 

 

New York City Blog Nov. 18 – Nov. 24

On Nov. 19th I met Colin Huggins at a trendy Starbucks lookalike on the Bowery. It’s across the street from the former CBGB. Maybe in homage, the music in the coffee place was almost as loud as the punk music club’s in its prime. Colin has labeled himself the crazy piano guy. He’s the one you see and hear playing his Yamaha baby grand in Washington Square Park. How did he get it there? He used to drag and pull one of his Craig’s List pianos on piano dollies. Now, he’s using one good piano and has a crew load it up from a nearby storage unit and then set it up in the park. I asked him if the Parks Department required a special license. It doesn’t as long as he uses no electricity. The hours are long. In summertime, Colin plays twelve hours on each of the weekend days. In fall and spring that’s reduced to eight hours and during the winter he signs off at 3:30. All that weather is bad for the piano, but as Colin said he could maintain the Yamaha inside, but then he’d make no money. I nosed around about his finances.  He said most of what he earned went to rent. Colin, Georgia born, pointed to the cider and grilled cheese he’d just bought for $15, commenting on how expensive NYC is. His three CDs were labors of love. He said that anything can be downloaded and that cuts into sales. On his website he compares himself to Gollum from The Hobbit. I think there’s a Middle-earth quality to hearing Brahms and then discover a very serious young man playing a very serious piano near the Washington Square fountain.

Colin Huggins, the Washington Square pianist
Colin Huggins, the Washington Square pianist

.    A Brooklyn mystery: On their walks around Brooklyn,  a friend and her grandson keep finding the photos below. What do the symbols represent? Are they

I. and T.s mysterious Brooklyn markings
I. and T.s mysterious Brooklyn markings

 

Another example of the mysterious marks
Another example of the mysterious marks

surveyors’ marks? All suggestions are welcomed.

New York City Blog Nov. 11 – Nov. 17

On Tuesday I went to Paul Taylor’s studio on Grand Street. Julia Foulkes, a New School history professor and Carolyn Adams, a principal dancer with the Taylor Company from 1965 -1982 discussed Taylor’s “From Sea to Shining Sea”, first danced in 1965. The room is a large space with wooden flooring, white walls, and a high ceiling. Circular windows look out onto Grand Street. The audience of about sixty people sat on a raised platform facing inward across the space toward a large screen. Professor Foulkes spoke about the political influences of the time: the Vietnam War, the assassinations of the Kennedys, King, Malcolm X,  the riots and the Civil Rights Bill.Various clips of the piece were shown. The earliest was from German television, its grainy black and white quality added to the feeling that we were stepping into the 1960s. Taylor was quoted as describing the backdrop of “From Sea to Shining Sea” as patriotism past its prime. Carolyn Adams contrasted the dancer’s emphasis on getting the choreography right. She said, “The information is in the task.” Ms. Adams told an amusing story about auditioning for Taylor. She was still at school and went to the audition because he had a nice reputation. After a long day, she wanted to leave to finish a term paper, but Taylor stopped her. She told him she wouldn’t have come if she knew he was going to pick her.Pick her, he did and she’s now on the Paul Taylor Dance Foundation board. It was a delightful evening. Both speakers were articulate, amusing and listened to each other. Another plus: the talk was only one hour long. A lovely New York evening.

Carolyn Adams and Julia Foulkes discussing "From Sea to Shining Sea".
Carolyn Adams and Julia Foulkes discussing “From Sea to Shining Sea”.
The audience at the Paul Taylor studio
The audience at the Paul Taylor studio

On Friday I went to a Sondheim/Marsalis evening at City Center. It went on forever. Does anyone else find Sondheim monotonous? There’s a little dark cloud that sits on top of his art. That sense of impending depression flattens his music for me.I am certainly in the minority. Spruced up City Center was packed with devotees, eager to clap and shout bravo.

 

New York City Blog – Nov. 4 – Nov. 10

Halleluliah! What do ordinary Catholics think?
At the beginning of the week, Pope Francis instructed the bishops to discuss with their congregations the topics of  contraception, gay marriage, and divorced Catholics being refused communion.The bishops will then disclose their findings at a Synod in a year’s time.
On Nov. 5 the Frank Perowsky Manhattan Samba Band played at the John Birks Gillespie Auditorium within the Baha’i Center at 53 E. 11 Street. The performance was wonderful. Saxophonist and clarinetist Perowsky led the eight man band in his and others original compositions.
Carlton Holmes on piano and Waldron Ricks on trumpet
Carlton Holmes on piano and Waldron Ricks on trumpet
Saxaphonist and Leader Frank Perowsky
Saxaphonist and Leader Frank Perowsky
Ilya Lushtak on guitar and Eddie Montalvo on conga
Ilya Lushtak on guitar and Eddie Montalvo on conga

 

On Sunday, Colin Huggins,  the Washington Square pianist, had parked his piano near the fountain and was enthralling the public. Brahms thundered across the square.

Colin Huggins, the Washington Square pianist
Colin Huggins, the Washington Square pianist

 

New York City Blog Oct. 28 – Nov. 3

I’m basking in the Venetian afterglow. Last Monday, Oct. 28, we climbed into a water taxi at 3 a.m. and headed across the lagoon and into the open sea to the Marco Polo Airport to take a flight to Amsterdam at 6:30. Shades of Key Largo. The fog shrouded us in our noisy motor boat, giving the impression that it was snowing. At the airport, we found the entrances locked but got in by taking an external elevator to somewhere in the building. Marco Polo Airport is snazzy and small. Starting at 5 a.m. you can buy delicious coffee in its many variations. Delta had instructed us that as of late October, Venice was no longer a one-stop destination.That’s why we were shunted to KLM for a stop over in Amsterdam. As we approached Schiphol, the pilot announced (groan) turbulence was to be expected because of the storm battering the U. K. We rocked and rolled our way to Amsterdam, then caught a Delta flight to NYC.

The Venetians were preparing for their marathon on Sunday, Oct. 27. It was great fun walking across the pontoon bridge that spanned the Grand Canal from the Salute to San Marco. I had done it one other time when I was in Venice for the July festival of the Redentore which commemorated the end of a 16th century plague. That temporary bridge connects Palladio’s Redentore to San Marco.

2013 Venetian pontoon bridge being constructed. In this photo, it's to the middle of the Grand Canal
2013 Venetian pontoon bridge being constructed. In this photo, it’s to the middle of the Grand Canal

 

Walking on the temporary bridge
Walking on the temporary bridge

 

The pontoon bridge spans the Grand Canal for the Venetian Marathon
The pontoon bridge spans the Grand Canal for the Venetian Marathon

 

I’ve been living twin experiences: Venice’s marathon and now New York’s. Last week in Venice we set our clocks back and we’re doing it again in NYC.  I’m including pictures of Venetian preparations for their marathon.