January 16, 2018

NYC Diary

I just got back from two weeks in NYC, getting Kyle set up in school, seeing friends and enjoying the place that feels so much a part of me…Its still a city where anything can happen at any time. One day I ran into Laurie Dhu (the ex-FoxNews babe, now WPIXnewscaster) and Dr Judy Kuriansky (our resident psychologist on the Richard Bey Show) within minutes of each other on the same street. Later, on the same street, Ashley Simpson came out of a movie theater as I walked by. Yeah, I wouldn’t have known who she was but photographers were shouting her name…Even at night there are amazing surprises; one night at 10pm I went down to have a smoke on that same street, 55th street, and the Marine Marching Brass Band turned the corner. In formation, resplendent in full dress, medalled chests thrust forward proudly, playing ‘The Marine Hymn’ on trumpet, trombone and tuba as they passed by just feet away. It was awesome and I felt like saluting! The NYPD fife and drum corps in kilts followed them. And behind it all ambled an unorganized crowd of five hundred observers. This was the night before 9/11 and I had just watched ‘Flight 93’ with Kyle before my smoke. It was almost as if someone had purposefully staged a reassuring coda to the most dispiriting tragedy….I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the Franz Hals exhibit. Itwas mesmerizing, both for his awesome talent for capturing the soul and for his startling techniques presaging painters like Manet and Sargent who wouldn’t be born for centuries. It made me wonder: Why is it that a great painting draws you slowly into the subject’s eyes but photographic portraiture has eyes that pop out grabbing the viewer? Photographers, (and I’ve posed for quite a few, including Bachrach Studios which does presidents) use the term ‘making the eyes pop’. Avedon’s portraits are generally an exception, but even his portraits contain eyes that seem wide and inert, deathlike. The geniuses of paint create eyes that are truly a window to the soul. Portrait photographers seem to strive for the fancy window dressing masking it…The most shameless muggings in NY are not crimes on the streets but on the faces of actors in billboards for the new TV season. There are endless, repetitive caravans of them in the subway tunnels. Each show is described in pidgin English for the proletariat. I guess they figure we can’t handle a complete sentence: “A PRUDE. A DUDE.” or “COP. AN ATTITUDE”. The facial contortions and ‘bon mots’ of somebody promoting the eponymous ‘Whitney” show made me want to reach into the poster and wipe that obnoxious smirk off her face! Ugh, these shows must be better than the ads selling them!…On the other hand, this subway ad for a storage company made me smile. It read: “In my fathers house there are many rooms– John 14:2JESUS MUST NOT HAVE BEEN A NEW YORKER…. While I was away for the summer the NY DAILY NEWS morphed into a conservative tabloid, a few steps short of the NY POST. They knocked Obama everyday about everything and covered the election of Republican Bob Turner as if it was a royal wedding! Just what we need: Two conservative tabloids in America’s most sophisticated city!…I saw Sondheim’s ‘Follies’ in its final preview, walked up to the ticket office and got a seat sixth row center orchestra just two hours before curtain. It’s a magnificent production with a superlative cast. I’d heard of but never seen Jan Maxwell live before and it’s hard to believe that her first talent is not musical theater but ‘straight’ theater. The cast is so superb it would be ungenerous to call her a stand-out…but she IS a standout. One small criticism: the character played by Bernadette Peters is described by her husband in detail as unreasonably argumentative, unfocused and depressive and although the term ‘bipolar’ wasn’t in fashion in 1971 when the play was written its pretty clear to me this character, per the description, suffers from it. But Peters’ character was not. It seemed like her husband was describing the wrong gal. It wasn’t until the final number that Peters displayed anything like her previous description. When she sang: ‘You said you loved me, Or were you just being kind…Or am I losing my mind?’ there was no doubt her last self-analysis was accurate. And it was a startling denouement, very effective…but she had lost her mind long before. We could have seen at least a hint of that in the first act. …. The saddest sound in New York? I heard it on the #6 subway platform. An old Chinese man played “G-d Bless America” on some kind of exotic zither. It wasn’t rousing. It was a mournful, dirge. It still haunts me…In NYC you do 10 things in a day and kick yourself for not doing more. In Florida you do two things a day and give yourself a pat on the back. Is it because the days seem so much shorter in Florida!