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Noo Yawk report

You’ll have to forgive me if I’m a bit foggy – back only a day and a bit from my three days in New York – marvellous, maddening, unbelievably exhausting and enriching New York.  I’m overjoyed to be home in the sweet fresh air of tiny, tranquil Toronto and may never leave again.  (Note to students: never use as many adjectives as I have in that sentence.  This adjectival excess shows how tired I am.)

This time I found my beloved NYC overwhelmingly aggressive and manic, even more so than usual – perhaps because the financial meltdown and the election were happening simultaneously, though what I overheard people talking about was not politics but money. Constantly – money.  And real estate.  
But as always, NYC was fascinating and full of riches.  I wondered why I haunt art galleries there and not here, and made a new resolution – that I will actually go to art galleries in my own home town.  And also walk more here – I walked endlessly in NYC – so much to see. 
I saw two special exhibits at the Met: the Italian painter Morandi, whom I fell in love with – Google him to see his tranquil vases and bowls, so simple, calm and profound.  And then the priceless “pietre dure” objets d’art – semi-precious stones and jewels set into tabletops or artefacts, incredibly beautiful.  I also visited the Vermeers there, and the three at the Frick Museum. And I went for the first time to the Morgan Library, the mansion where J. Pierpont Morgan’s stunning collection of books is kept – saw his beautiful library and the room where his own personal librarian sat, and also the three Gutenberg bibles kept there and a wonderful special exhibit on the art of Babar.
I took my father’s cousin Lola, who’s 86 as my dad would have been, to Lincoln Center to see glorious “South Pacific.” I had never seen either the movie or the play, and yet I knew every song.  Lola took me to see a one-act play about cloning by Caryl Churchill.  She subscribes to a site that sends out regular emails on available cheap seats – our date cost her $7.  And I saw “Equus” with Daniel Radcliffe and Richard Griffiths, a fantastic production of a very good play about the human need for gods and ecstatic ritual.  Yes, friends, I have seen Harry Potter’s penis.  Radcliffe spends most of the second act naked.  I think the nudity is gratuitous, but I found it extremely brave of this excellent young actor to bare himself, literally and figuratively.  
And that’s just the art and theatre!  I visited my beloved uncle Edgar, who died in 1997 but is still very much present in my life.  His bridge partner Sidney and I scattered his ashes on a rock at 94th and Central Park West, near the house where he had spent most of his adult life with his wife Betty, so I walked across the park to the rock and had a chat with him, brought him up to date.  He was the most brilliant man I have ever met, full of erudition, humour and wit, knew everything about history, Baroque music, wine and food.  I adored him and miss him daily, as I do his brother, my dad.  
I walked along W. 94th to #39, his house where I always stayed when I visited NYC.  It’s utterly unrecognisable – renovated, gussied, respectable.  I miss the West side too.  (My cousin Ted, who generously lets me stay at his place, lives at 77th and 3rd  on the East side.  Foreign territory.)  My wonderful uncle used to hand me his charge cards for Bloomingdales and Sak’s, which I, the impoverished country mouse from Canada, would enter trembling with anticipation.  These days I can’t afford to go near them, though this time I walked through the main floor of Sak’s on my way to the theatre. It used to be so interesting, full of scarves and gloves, sunglasses and chachka’s.  Now it’s only makeup and handbags, handbags, handbags. Boring and expensive.  I shopped instead at my new favourite store – the Housing Works Thrift Store across the street from Ted’s, where I bought a pair of suede boots for $30.  My kind of shopping.
And finally and most interestingly, I met Tom Oppenheim, who runs the Stella Adler Acting Studio and is the superb actor Jacob Adler’s great-grandson.  Adler and my great-grandfather Gordin became friends and colleagues in 1891; Tom and I became friends and colleagues in 2008.  We are both interested in some kind of project about that great century-old collaboration.  I had lunch with him and his mother Ellen, who is the daughter of Stella Adler and Harold Clurman, the producer and critic – true Jewish theatre royalty.  Walking through the crowded halls of the Studio brought me back to my own theatre school days, aged 21, in London, England.  Mon dieu, that was a long time ago.
And there was Central Park, and the German Day parade on Fifth Avenue, and happening upon a production of “Midsummer Night’s Dream” outside in a community garden on the West side, and … But that’s enough.  I hope you can get there yourself, and be overwhelmed and enriched and happy to get home too.  



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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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