On April 9 Judson Memorial Church was the location of a Hillary Clinton-Bernie Sanders Proxy Debate, moderated by Brian Lehrer. It promised more than it delivered. Rather than discuss the issues, each participant behaved like a cheer leader for his or her candidate. Brian Lehrer, as they used to say about Robert Mitchum, phoned in his participation. I’ve included the debate below.
A friend and I attended Curator Adam Eaker’s talk, Sitting for Van Dyck. We gathered in the Frick Collection’s Music Room. A screen displayed various images created by Van Dyck during his English period and listened to Curator Eaker’s lucid and amusing analysis. It was an example of the perfect New York evening capped by dinner at nearby Caravaggio’s.
There Is a Field: I went to a pro-Palestinian play because I’m committed to the Palestinian cause. The play itself was more TV sitcom than an exploration of what Palestinians live through and die for. Its cast consisted of stock figures of Palestinian mom (fragile and strong ) and Palestinian pop (wise and strong) two teen agers: the girl whose strength consisted of screaming profanities at her brother who was always going to demonstrations. We know where he’ll end up: dead. In contrast, the late Alan Rickman’s play about Rachel Corrie explored the bravery and confusion of a young girl from Oregon grappling with the Palestinian atrocities in a way that made me interested in the individual and enlightened me about the dire circumstances of her death. On to Jane, a nearby restaurant, for restorative food and drink.
A friend and I went to the last performance of My Name is Rachel Corrie at the Lynn Redgrave Theatre. Rachel Corrie was a Palestinian peace activist from Washington state. She was killed by the Israelis as she protested the demolition of a Palestinian dwelling.Rachel Corrie was bulldozed by a Caterpillar and died shortly thereafter. Alan Rickman, the English actor and playwright, and Katharine Viner, the journalist and playwright, adapted Corrie’s diaries and emails.Charlotte Hemmings did a fine job portraying the articulate, combative, idealistic twenty-three year old.
To the west of the Lynn Grave theatre on Bleecker is the only building Louis Sullivan, the Chicago architect, built in NYC. The Bayard Condit building opened in 1899 and is glorious. No wonder Frank Lloyd Wright called Sullivan his mentor.
We went to Bleecker Kitchen & Co. for supper. What a delightful surprise. The setting doesn’t suggest the sophisticated menu. I had a whole but small bronzino, served with the tail and head, the way Europeans and Asians eat fish. It was surrounded by roasted potatoes and fresh, well seasoned greens. My friend had the halibut and said it was great. Rather than dessert we had a delicious cheese dish – real cheese, not prepackaged rubbish – and fresh fruit. Everything worked: a comfortable table, great service and, most of all, memorable food.
Dior and I at the Film Forum is fascinating for anyone interested in the glamorous couture world of Paris. It’s a well done documentary about Rif Simon, the Belgian designer who heads Dior. Afterwards, I looked him up on Wikipedia and was horrified to learn that he won’t hire models of color.
My chatty taxi driver told me he was an habitué of the Film Forum but being straight and never caring about clothes he’d pass on the documentary. He reminded me that 1915 was a banner year for American entertainment. Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, and Orson Welles would all be 100 this year.
On Monday, September 22, President Mahmood Abbas of the Palestinian Authority spoke at Cooper Union. Have you ever been in the Cooper Union’s Great Hall? If so, you’ll remember how the columns abstract a full view of the stage so you and the rest of the audience bob and weave to see what’s going on. You’ll also remember that every speaker mentions that Abraham Lincoln spoke from that very podium. Mahmoud Abbas did this many times. His accent was so thick that Abraham had a wonderful Arabic ring to it and, at first, I didn’t know who he was talking about. It was an autumnal occasion: an elderly (79) politician who stayed the course even if he wasn’t particularly effective. The audience of about 700 consisted of mostly white, asian and arab millennials. There were several keffiyehs, the checkered headscarf worn by Palestinians and their supporters. Lots of yamakas. Groups of orthodox Jews and us. We were under the umbrella of Churches for Middle East Peace. You brought your sense of expectation with you. With a few exceptions (The current lot of the Palestinians is similar to that of the African Americans in 1950s USA), Abbas’s speech was boiler plate and aimed at a New York collegiate audience. And why not? It’s their generation that’s going to clean up the mess my generation and the preceding one created.It was a respectful group, lots of applause for Palestinian rights. Lots of standing ovations. Those who didn’t agree stayed seated and didn’t applaud. About eight years ago I attended a panel discussion between pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli speakers. The late Tony Judt and John Meirsheimer were on the former side. Dennis Ross was on the latter side. The debate was sparked and fueled by the publication of Meirsheimer’s and Steven Walt’s The Israel Lobby. A woman with the unfortunate but unforgettable last name of Slaughter was the moderator. Cooper Union was packed. The air was electric. The forbidden topic: Israeli influence on the U. S. was being addressed. Quite an evening.
Later this week I attended a birthday party in a Soho loft that combines elegance and cosiness. An extremely talented singer and guitar player, aged nine, accompanied by her musician father played for the birthday girl.
Cris Land and I met at Doug Fir on Portland’s East Burnside. I wanted to interview Cris because he is transexual. I was nervous, feeling a little guilty because I was going to ask personal questions. How did he get that way? You know, changing body parts, especially the sexual ones. I had written down some questions: When did you become aware of your gender? What were your greatest sources of help and support? Do you connect your gender change with sex? How did your partner react to your transition? Did you have medical insurance? Do you have a transgender community? As soon as I’ve written the interview and received Cris’s approval, I’ll post it.
In reply to the Israeli lawmaker’s call for genocide of Palestinians getting thousands of Facebook likes, Tom Siracuse, the chair of the NYC Green Party wrote: I’m not surprised. I’ve heard these arguments from many:
1. Muslims in general and Palestinians in particular are incorrigible fanatics and are incapable of co-existence with Jews or negotiating in good faith. Either they are forced out or killed, or that is what they will do to the Jews.
2. “Palestinians” are a made up entity with no valid claim to the Holy Land. They are Arabs who migrated into the Holy Land from Arabia, Syria, Lebanon, etc. and should go back where they came from. Only the Jews have an historical and religious right to live in the Holy Land.
3. The Nazi Holocaust, Czarist pogfroms, Jewish persecutions and expulsions over the centuries prove that only an exclusive Zionist state for Jews can guarantee safety for world Jewry.
Did I leave out any other justification to get rid of the Palestinians?
Portlandia: Roses are grown in gardens, on sidewalks, in parks and honored in the public library carpets.
Cosy, civic, and charming: How about a library on a tree? This one is at Market and 34 Ave.
Some friends and I celebrated an important birthday at a restaurant in the 1883 Ladd Carriage House, one of the few remaining nineteenth century mansions.The Carriage House has been moved several times and is now on its original site.
We went to a charming Portland fixture, the Clinton theater, to see a very New York documentary about the venerable Nat Hentoff. The Clinton is in a little enclave of nineteenth century buildings. Portland is having a real estate boom. Good bye space and skyline.