What do Jack Ruby, Black Rabbit, The Smuggler, have in common? They’re Minetta Tavern house cocktails of course. A friend and I made our annual Christmas pilgrimage to the jam-packed steak house on MacDougal. Shrouded in darkness on a south-west corner, you open an anonymous door, walk through a tiny, bleak 1930’s antechamber, pushes aside some very black curtains and you’re in. You better have a reservation unless you’re willing to wait 45 minutes for a place at the bar. And this was a Tuesday evening. I found out later that The Black Rabbit was the restaurant’s original name and that the owner Eve Adams had another MacDougal restaurant down the block, now called La Laterna di Vittorio. We sat across from the bar and had a view of the caricatures, some by Franz Kleine, and the Millennials clustered around the bar. I had to have a Tom Collins and the marrow bones, then on to other cholesterol challenging treats. Such fun.
I saw Bombshell: The Hedy LaMarr Story at IFC. It’s a terrific documentary. Hedwig Eva Kiesler (1914-2000) was born in Vienna. She appeared in the nude in an early Austrian film, Ecstasy, which caught the attention of Louis B. Mayer who was in Vienna. After a failed audition, the soon to be Hedy LaMarr travelled to NYC on the same ocean liner as Mayer. He agreed to sign her to a contract and looking at the ocean, changed her name to Hedy LaMarr. She was a very beautiful woman who invented an instrument used but not paid for by the U. S. navy. At MGM she starred in adventurous epics that seem ludicrous today. The documentary is narrated by her son, Anthony Loder. He’s articulate and personable. Loder explains how his mother fell prey to pills. Like so many other actors, she worked like a race horse. She kept up by devouring pills to sleep and pills to wake up. She also fell prey to the miracle of plastic surgery. By the time she died, she was disfigured. I wonder if she was ever interviewed by Hedda Hopper, a gossip columnist of the 1940’s. If so, it could have taken place at Minetta Tavern.
Graphic Lessons: Recent thirty-five-year-old widow Millie Fitzgerald applies for a private school teaching job, faints on a stabbed and dying man in the school kitchen, deals with the only witness to the stabbing – a troubled nine-year-old, develops a crush on a NYPD detective and her dog dies.
Graphic Lessons: Nine-year-old Dana is the only witness who overhears a person fighting with George Lopez, the soon to be stabbed Windsor School kitchen worker. Who can she tell? Her mother who never listens or accuses her of lying? Her father who’s started a new family in Singapore? She tells Millie.
Graphic Lessons: Something’s eating at NYPD Detective Steve Kulchek: a failed marriage? surviving a car bomb? his girlfriend marrying his corrupt boss? screwing up an important case? It doesn’t matter because he’s relentless.