All posts by mangiamillie

New York City Blog June 1 – June 7

My balletomania friend and I went to American Ballet Theatre to see MANON. The music is by Massenet. I find the story very moving, especially the final scene with the lovers dying in a Louisiana swamp. The dancers were glorious: Diana Vishneva who attracts a large Russian presence, Marcello Gomes and Herman Cornejo, two of the best male dancers performing today.

A friend who helps maintain the west 40th Street Hell’s Kitchen Rooftop Garden invited me to an open house on the Metro Baptist Church’s rooftop. It’s quite a climb – at least six flights and the last one has narrow metal steps meant for tiny feet. The friend told me the ingenious ways the four year old vegetable and flower garden came into existence. The volunteers formed a bucket brigade to get the supplies to the roof. The first season they learned from bitter experience that pigeons are not fooled by balloons and owl statues. That’s why the plots, children’s wading pools, are covered by netting. An added plus is it’s in a wonderful neighborhood for foodies.
Hell's Kitchen Rooftop Kitchen at Metro Baptist Church
Hell’s Kitchen Rooftop Kitchen at Metro Baptist Church
Get thee to the Guggenheim! There’s an extensive exhibit of Italian Futurism. It’s such fun to walk up the ramp and duck into the nooks and crannies. What you miss on the way up you can catch on the way down. In spite of the crowds, the Guggenheim does not seem packed.
Italian Futurist Exhibit at the Guggenheim
Italian Futurist Exhibit at the Guggenheim
On Saturday I went on a Municipal Art Society two hour architectural walk on the Lower East Side. Saturday was one of those NYC days that goes from spring to summer temperatures in a few hours. In spite of the heat, Sylvia Laudien-Meo’s low keyed enthusiasm and knowledge kept up my interest. It’s not Steve Kulchek’s Bowery which he patrolled as a young police officer. Has it changed. Sober, expensively dressed people stream into stark, discreet art galleries. The Bowery still has a raffish quality which, please God, it doesn’t lose in spite of Keith McNally’s new restaurant.
Guillermo Kuitca's oil painting at Sperone Westwater
Guillermo Kuitca’s oil painting at Sperone Westwater

New York City Blog: May 25 – May 31

It was a busy week in  NYC. On Sunday I walked through the annual Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit.It extends from Mercer Street to Fifth Avenue and from North to South the boundaries are East 13th Street and Washington Square South and features crafts, fine art, sculpture, and photography.

 On Memorial Day the Miles Davis’s family celebrated the patriarch’s 88th birthday by unveiling “Miles Davis Way”  with an NYC Block Party at 312 W 77 Street, between Riverside Drive & West End, Davis’s New York neighborhood. Lots of people arrived complete with babies and dogs.
Musicians on Miles Davis's Block
Musicians on Miles Davis’s Block
AT NYCB my ballet fanatic friend and I saw Concerto Barocco, an enchanting classic that debuted in 1961, Other Dances with the divine Tiler Peck. We then sat through Neverwhere, more aptly, Never wear because of the ghastly costumes in the current production or better yet, Never again. It’s a deadly ballet choreographed by Benjamin Millepied. The evening ended on a joyous note: Who Cares?  The Danish principal, Ask la Cour, built like a string bean, danced with the energy of a dynamo.
Fancy Car in Madison Ave.Window
Fancy Car in Madison Avenue Window
My tech advisor and I went to BEA  (Book Expo America), held annually at the Javits Center. By comparison, Times Square is deserted and graveyard quiet. You get the picture. The first order of the day was to find the ladies room down a flight of non-working escalators.  Afterwards, we refreshed ourselves with weak, expensive coffee from a stand that must rake in millions. BUT there is gold in them there pipe vaulted halls. Smiling sweetly at the prison guards who man the entrances we managed to gain entrance to the booths. Lugging and offering copies of my mystery in English and Spanish,
THE LEMROW MYSTERY AND MISTERIO EN EL LEMROW, was much more productive than going to the opening address to indie publishers. We concentrated on Marketing to Libraries and came away with invaluable tips, then on to Book Marketing Strategies and Social Media. After a vile lunch of refrigerated ham and cheese buns we returned to the booths. A long, satisfying, frustrating NYC day.

New York City Blog: May 19 -May 25

On Monday, my ballet crazy pal and I continued our dance marathon by going to ABT”s “Don Quixote” and watched, transfixed, as Ivan Vasiliev flew around the Met stage. Later that week we returned to the Met to see “La Bayadere”. The second act is everything. The corps de ballet was perfect, twenty-four dancers who glided in unison.

Like citing the first robin of spring, I realized the annual Fleet Street celebration was in town when I saw several sailors in sparkling white uniforms gathered around a fire truck. In its 26th year, it celebrates the maritime services. Remember “On the Town”? Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly, and Jules Munshin cavorted around 1944 Manhattan in those camp sailor boy outfits.
Sailors examining a fire truck in lower Manhattan
Sailors examining a fire truck in lower Manhattan

New York City Blog May 11 – May 18

Off to Carnegie Hall for the last Met Orchestra concert, conducted by Maestro James Levine. He was greeted, as usual, with thunderous applause as he maneuvered his motorized wheelchair to the center of the stage, waved, put his hand over his heart, turned his back on the audience and was lifted, wheelchair and all, a few feet so he would be visible above a structure resembling two doors placed on their long sides that surrounds the podium. We were off to the races. Conductor Levine led the orchestra in Antonin Dvorak’s Carnival Overture. The cellist, Lynn Harrell, played the Cello Concerto in B Minor. It was a perfect Sunday afternoon, two and a half hours of acoustic bliss.

I have always admired nurses but can’t think of any kindly, intelligent nurses in films. Can you? When I saw some friends at the showing of Carolyn Jones’s THE AMERICAN NURSE I leaned over one of them and said that Nurse Ratched was reporting for duty. I shut my mouth realizing it wasn’t the brightest remark in a group who were celebrating nurses. Across the aisle, a woman laughed. She turned out to be a nurse and, of course, couldn’t have cared less about my wise crack. She and her retired policeman husband (Quote: Nurses and cops go well together.) Invited me to sit with them and share their popcorn. THE AMERICAN NURSE follows the daily schedules of five nurses. Their disciplines are varied. They range from a nurse in Appalachia who works with the poor, a nun who wondered how long small community centered nursing homes could survive without being gobbled up by large companies, a nurse who works with veterans, one who works within the penal community, and a labor and delivery nurse. All five, three women and two men, were examples of kind, intelligent professionals.

View the documentary’s trailer at www.americannursemovie.com.

Jessie Kulchek, Detective Steve’s daughter, breezed into town from Rhode Island School of Design. Her father took her to Basta Pasta. She had the dessert she always has, Tiramisu.

 Jessie Kulchek's favorite dessert, Tiramisu
Jessie Kulchek’s favorite dessert, Tiramisu

New York City Blog: May 5 – May 10

On Monday, May 6, I saw the late Anthony Minghella’s production of Madame Butterfly. What a glorious opera, driving home the theme of forbidden love and death, ending in Cho Cho San’s horrible and bloody suicide. Reminds me of retired Detective Con Haggerty, Steve’s uncle, talking about a case at the Metropolitan Opera when he was a young rookie. After the first intermission, a young clarinetist didn’t return to her seat in the orchestra, but her clarinet was on her chair. Opera house personnel searched for her, but she had disappeared mysteriously. The management turned to the NYPD for help. Con and his partner found the body of the young clarinetist down an air shaft. She had been assaulted and killed by a young stage hand.

On Thursday, May 8, I was back at Jack Kleinsinger’s Highlights in Jazz. Twins fascinate me. And twin sax and clarinet players even more so. Peter Anderson plays tenor sax and clarinet and Will Anderson, his brother, plays alto sax and clarinet. Along with Wycliffe Gordon, they performed Dorsey Brothers music. The only thing missing was Harry James on the trumpet playing “Flight of the Bumblebee”.
Saturday night dinner at one of Detective Steve’s favorite haunts: Minetta Tavern. great food – marrow, anyone? – great drinks and great atmosphere.
A puzzle, a mystery, and an enigma: why would anyone have a snake as a pet? This South American Boa was slithering around its owner in Washington Square Park.

 

A South American Boa
A South American Boa

New York City Blog: R. I. P. Karl Garlid (1944-2014)

Karl's Chair
Karl’s Chair

Karl Garlid died on May 1 at Lenox Hill Hospital. Mary Meyer, his wife, was with him. Shortly after they married thirty five years ago, I met them at Judson Memorial Church. I learned over the years that Karl was a person of fierce loyalty. He loved his wife,  Cambridge Place, the cats, his community, his college, Williams, and Italy. The evening of May 1st Mary and I sat on their deck, drinking wine and laughing and crying as we recalled the big guy. We then went to a nearby restaurant. Neighbors stopped Mary to hug her and offer condolences. At the restaurant the manager, upon learning the news, wouldn’t let us pay.  Cambridge Place was a beacon of hospitality to Judson folk, neighbors, the Long Island gang, college pals, members of the Hill publication, a local newsletter, and many a needy cat.

 

New York City Blog April 20 – April 26

Daffodils at Judson Memorial Church
Daffodils at Judson Memorial Church

Spring has arrived! These daffodils were on a table at Judson Memorial Church’s Easter service.

Detective Steve Kulchek hated reading until his Uncle Con (Retired NYPD detective) introduced him to John D. MacDonald. Steve’s parents were killed in a boating accident and his Uncle Con and Aunt Bess raised him. Why read sexy mysteries about boats when the kid’s parents died on one, you ask. Con thought it was a good idea to show the ocean’s beauty as well as its horrors. It worked. Steve loves fooling around on water skis and reads, mostly Playboy, Sports Illustrated and nonfiction with a little Michael Connolly and John D. MacDonald thrown in.
When retired detective, Con Haggerty, was a young cop he went to a Park Avenue apartment to pick up a man for questioning. The man’s wife told Con he was at the Frick. Con assumed the Frick was a movie house. This was in the days when the upper east side had movie houses. After casing the neighborhood, Con learned to his chagrin that the Frick was a private collection of western European and Renaissance art. He found the man in front of the Ingres. Case solved.
Ingres's Comtesse d'Haussonville
Ingres’s Comtesse d’Haussonville

New York City Blog April 13 – April 19

One of my favorite characters in THE LEMROW MYSTERY, Wellington Chen, would have been intrigued by the Museum of Chinese in America. It’s in a small building on busy, chaotic Centre Street. I was especially interested in the The Lee Family exhibit. The Lee family have been in New York’s Chinatown since 1888. To this day, they have an important presence. After visiting the museum, I walked past Lee Insurance on Pell Street. It was painful to read and to see exhibits about the discrimination the Chinese endured. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 denied the Chinese the following: entrance into the country, testifying in court, owning property, voting, or marrying a non-Chinese. The Magnuson Act repealed the law in 1943.

 If you squint you can see Isabel Allende being interviewed by Amy Goodman at the Americas Society. The meeting was organized and run like a strict convent school or the est training, but the audience was good nature and docile. Isabel Allende is a spitfire. Dramatically, she explained that she was always a lousy journalist because she never told the truth. Pablo Neruda told her to get out of journalism and do what she did so well, story telling.
Isabel Allende and Amy Goodman
Isabel Allende and Amy Goodman
I got this recipe from Detective Steve Kulchek’s Aunt Bess. It was her way of getting him to eat vegetables. I call it mystery peppers because the mystery is how something so good can have only two ingredients: sweet peppers and sweet potatoes (or yams). Parboil the peppers for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, roast the sweet potatoes (not skinned) in aluminum until soft. After the peppers have cooled, stuff them with the sweet potatoes. Put this into the oven for about twenty minutes so that the two ingredients marry. Done!
Sweet Peppers filled with Sweet Potatoes
Sweet Peppers filled with Sweet Potatoes
Query:  Is it fair to have Wall Street close down on Good Friday?  Since when has Wall Street gotten religion?
For Easter let me quote W. H. Auden:
“Leave the dead concerns of
Yesterday behind us,
Face with all our courage
What is now to be.”

New York City Blog April 6 – April 12

Every time I stick my nose out the door, I’m walking in the shoes of one of my characters in my series.  On Thursday, at the Real Immigration Reform rally, a portly man in a tired suit announced to a friend and me that he had run for president and for mayor and he was thinking of running for governor. He pressed his card into my friend’s hand. It’s the sort of prop that’s gold dust to a mystery writer. The late Elmore Leonard would have loved this guy. His NY craziness and attitude were displayed on his card, loaded down with dubious credentials.I was thinking of a scene with him and my detective, Steve Kulchek. Steve is a tough, cynical New Yorker who has a soft spot for weirdos.
Judson Memorial Church
Judson Memorial Church
Usually, I hate rallies: the screaming into the squeaky microphone, the haranguing of a group that’s already on your side, the hustle and crowds, the awkwardness of holding a banner that’s caught in the wind. The Real Immigration Reform was different. The speakers were focused on Congress having let us down and Obama not following through on his campaign promises. The three hundred plus crowd had  African, Asian and Latino representatives as well as representatives from various unions, Cabrini and Judson Memorial Church. Judson has been in the vanguard of institutions protesting ICE (U. S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement) treating immigrants as if they were criminals and separating families.
A rally participant
A rally participant
Talk about caring. This is a recent mangled piece of mail received from our postal service.

Other side of envelope
Other side of package
Damaged package
Damaged package

New York City Blog: April 30 – April 5

I hadn’t been to the Union Square market in ages, but this past week when I returned, I wasn’t disappointed. This gentleman was not camera shy, nor was his dog.

A Union Square Regular and his Dog
A Union Square Regular and his Dog
On Friday I joined a friend for dinner at the venerable restaurant, Sevilla.Because of the gusty winds on Seventh Avenue, I thought I was a going to be blown to Spain along with the balloons and dog.
Balloons on windy 7th Avenue
Balloons on windy 7th Avenue
Lynn Rogers, a Staten Island woman who has made forgotten cemeteries her cause, gave an informative and amusing lecture at the Arsenal. Did you know that our parks department now owns at least three non-denominational cemeteries and has been responsible in restoring them?
During the Civil War many of the northern recruits were Irish fleeing the Irish Famine. As soon as the men and boys stepped off the boat they were given the choice: do you want to fight or do you want to fight. The lot of the immigrant has seldom been easy and theirs was no exception.In 1851 a New York newspaper wrote about the Marine Hospital being crowded to access with the numerous deaths of the starving Irish. Help Friends of Abandoned Cemeteries is now working on restoring Marine Hospital-Quarantine Cemetery (1799-1858).