NYMysteries Blog April 23-April 28

Recently, I wandered around the Morgan Library. Something I haven’t done in a long time. Pierpoint Morgan and his decendents built a museum and library next to the family’s original residence, a 1882 brownstone. As Mr. Morgan’s collection grew, different buildings such as the 1928 Annex were added to the original complex. Years ago, when I entered the 1900 Charles Follen McKim building my first impression was of wood, tapestry, iron, wax and an eclectic collection of books, manuscripts and drawings that gave a glimpse into Pierpont Morgan’s many interests. The Morgan was renovated many times, often with disastrous results. The 1990’s Renzo Piano design transformed the solid Morgan complex into a J. C. Penny building, destroying the opulent, long ago atmosphere.

I’m happy to report that as I wandered through the beautifully mounted Emily Dickenson exhibit and the Symbolist exhibit a whiff of the old Morgan returned.

 

Otis Allen Bullard’s portrait of Emily,Austin, Lavinia Dickinson

Emily Dickinson’s “I’m Nobody! Who are you?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A friend and I have an informal and infrequent lunch date at Veselka (rainbow in Ukrainian!), a busy, bustling, friendly hashhouse that’s been around since 1954. It’s a combination of NYC, Ukrainian and the East Village. Not bad, eh? It has the required foot long menu offering everything from borscht to cheese week specials.

 

 

Graphic Lessons: Recent thirty-five-year-old widow Millie Fitzgerald applies for a private school teaching job, faints on a stabbed and dying man, 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 three people 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?

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.

New York City Blog Dec. 28 – January 4

Happy New Year! An annual holiday treat is going to Minetta Tavern. On the outside it looks like a speakeasy, a private, illegal club harkening back to prohibition. It’s a stage set, of course. Having just returned from New Mexico where restaurants seat two people at a table that would hold four in NYC and there’s plenty of room between the tables, I was struck by the tiny public spaces we squeeze ourselves into. Is it part of that incomparable NYC buzz? Why is it that dining in NYC is magical?

Yesterday we went to the venerable Veselka Restaurant on Ninth Street and Second Avenue. It’s been in business since 1954 and is run by Ukrainian-Americans. It’s one of Steve Kulchek’s hangouts. He and his Uncle Con eat there when Con is in town. A week ago I had several meals at the oldest restaurant in Santa Fe, the Plaza Cafe, founded in 1905 and run by a Greek-American family since 1947. Both are lively diners that reflect their native origins and those of the people who own them. In the southwest it’s red and green chilis with your souvlaki. In the northeast it’s sour cream with the pierogis. Both restaurants are colorful and packed. Even by American standards, the Plaza Cafe has gigantic portions.The Veselka’s are merely enormous.

Get it?

A Wall at Veselka’s. Get it?

 

Time to Eat at the Plaza Cafe

Time to Eat at the Plaza Cafe

 

 

 

 

 
Some one asked me where I find characters. I think they present themselves.Since I write mysteries, there’s a subplot connected with characters. For instance, on my block there’s a dusty Oldsmobile Cutlass. A man in his seventies sits in it with his blond retriever, a dog of the same vintage as its owner. Sometimes, a woman – the wife? sits in the passenger seat. Then the dog sits in the back seat. I’m assuming the driver smokes. Maybe he’s a retired cop. There are stickers supporting the troops and the NYPD. It intrigues me that the car is home for this guy. Plot point: The dog could pick up a piece of evidence and bring it back to the car. The guy is a pack rat and throws it under the seat. Plot point: the couple’s son was killed in Afghanistan and the father mourns the son in the car and the mother mourns the physical loss of her son and the psychological loss of her husband. The son was taught to drive in the Oldsmobile. The dog, of course, was the son’s.To be continued.