July 21, 2017

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!

OUT OF MY MIND…

Have there been any new pop music forms since Grunge? We had Punk, Heavy Metal, Disco, Rap, Hip Hop, Grunge through the seventies and nineties. Have there been any new categories in this new millennium? If not, why is that? Do trance and techno count? I don’t know enough about them to say…….The movie THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT is better than alright. Much better: Mark Ruffalo, Annete Benning and Julianne Moore are superb. The kids are alright……..Inconvenient facts that will start some kind of argument if you mention them: The first person murdered on 9/11 was probably a Jew. Among the first terrorists indicted after 9/11 were two Jews who planned to blow up a mosque and assassinate a Republican congressman. The first people arrested after 9/11 were probably Israeli Mossad agents filming and mocking the attack. Try it……Is it just me or does John Boehnor’s skin seem even more orange than usual? And is that mascara or does he just have naturally black rimmed eyelids like the actor who plays Ricardo on ‘LOST’?……Anyone over fifty should read the sci-fi book ‘REPLAY’. I read it everywhere I go. Give it away as a gift on birthdays……INCEPTION is no longer the #1 movie in the US. THE OTHER GUYS made more money this past weekend. I must be the only one finding Will Ferril’s act growing thin. Steve Carrel too for that matter…….What happened to conservative Representative David Drier? A few years ago he was everywhere on the tube— FoxNews, CNN, MSNBC. Then rumors began circulating on line that he was gay and had been living with another man for years. I haven’t seen or heard about him since. Has anyone else? He won re-election in 2008 but took his profile so low he could walk under a door frame (perhaps the door frame to a closet)…… I’ll be back in NYC on August 17th for a week. I can’t wait. The days will get longer, I’m certain…….Why do the days in Florida seem so short?

Out of my mind…

Was I the last person in America to discover that ‘schmuck’ is an acceptable commercial word as in ‘Dinner for Schmucks’? Did this title create any controversy at all? Ten years ago it would have been called “Dinner for Shnooks” but soon will breed the sequel: “Breakfast with Assholes”. Lenny Bruce joked that he was arrested “by a Yiddish undercover agent” for saying the word “schmuck” onstage. Can ‘Shit My Father Says’ be far from censorship freedom? Yet it’s always irritating to me when I see F— printed in a newspaper and a magazine, as if we aren’t pronouncing the word in our minds, filling in the letters while reading. Yeah, right,.F— that!……Its been years since I heard a new song that I really, REALLY liked. Is that a sign of getting old or the sorry state of modern pop music?…..If the GOP can make you believe that raising the top marginal tax rate 4% for the richest 2% of Americans will hurt the economy they can make you believe anything. Oh wait: WMD in Iraq, Terry Schiavo eating puddings and responding to her parents, John Kerry cowardly in Vietnam, Obama is a socialist–silly me–Of course they can make you believe anything!……Best movie I saw this year: ‘The Secret in Their Eyes’. It was made in Argentina…… These three statements alone could slow some silly arguments in their tracks: 1. the first victim of terrorism on 9/11 was a Jew. 2. Dick Cheney told his Treasury Secretary, ‘You know, Paul, Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter.’ 3. Hamilton and Washington personally organized a military force to put down a citizen’s revolt over taxes, arrested the perpetrators and sentenced a couple to death. Try it…….When the teacher told Kyle at elementary school graduation that in Middle School he would start having periods he was aghast: ”NOOOO. They taught us in sex ed that only girls get periods!”……Remember last years summer of death? Michael Jackson, Ed McMahon, David Carradine, Farah Fawcett, Walter Cronkite, John Hughes, Billy Mays, Ted Kennedy–So far this summer’s obituaries carry a lot less star power. Mitch Miller and George Steinbrenner? Even celebrity death is in recession…… Why do the days seem so short when you’re in Florida?