Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

at FIT

Expedition: Fashion from the Extreme 
"Expedition: Fashion from the Extreme examines high fashion inspired by clothing made for survival in the most inhospitable environments on earth and beyond. Today’s luxurious parkas trace their roots to the “heroic era” of polar navigation (1890 to 1922), while down-filled “puffer” coats and backpacks were originally perfected for extreme mountain climbing in the mid-twentieth century. Experimental, high tech materials made for exploration to otherworldly realms — such as neoprene (deep sea) and Mylar (outer space) — made their way onto the runway."

The Body: Fashion and Physique
"Fashion is inextricably linked to the physical form of the wearer. The cut of a garment draws the eye to zones of the body, simultaneously accentuating and concealing in order to achieve a desired silhouette. Elaborate undergarments, diet regimens, exercise routines, and even plastic surgery have all been promoted as necessary tools for attaining the ideal fashion shape. However, the idealized fashionable body is a cultural construct. Over the last 250 years, full hips, narrow hips, feminine waists, and boyish frames have each, at different times, been hailed as the pinnacle of beauty. According to a Vogue article from 1950, “A ‘figure’…is considered good or bad only as related to clothing generally, and current fashions specifically.” The Body: Fashion and Physique  explores the complex history of the “perfect” body in fashion."

These are random photos taken at both exhibits: 

Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol

at The Morgan Library

"Every holiday season, the Morgan displays Charles Dickens's original manuscript of A Christmas Carol in Pierpont Morgan's historic library. Dickens wrote his iconic tale in a six-week flurry of activity beginning in October 1843 and ending in time for Christmas publication. He had the manuscript bound in red morocco as a gift for his solicitor, Thomas Mitton. The manuscript then passed through several owners before Pierpont Morgan acquired it in the 1890s."

Monday, December 11, 2017

The Marvelous Helen Weaver

Here is an encore, from April 2010:

Shortly after I read the heartfelt and bittersweet memoir, "The Awakener," I contacted Helen Weaver. I was enthralled with her memories of her love affair with Jack Kerouac. We began to communicate in E-mails... and today, I am happy to call Helen my friend.

Helen met Jack Kerouac in November 1956, when at 7:00 on a Sunday morning he arrived with Allen Ginsberg at her apartment in 307 West 11th Street. This is a photo of that building that I took after I read the book. Helen was delighted with the photo, and she told me her window can be seen on the left, right behind the blue balloon hanging from a branch of that tree.

This is a view of the White Horse Tavern from the front of 307 West 11th Street.

This is 454 West 20th Street, where Jack Kerouac, in 1951, wrote "On The Road." I stood in front of the door through which he must have passed so many times.

And this is the southwest corner of West 20th Street where: "Dean, ragged in a motheaten overcoat he bought specially for the freezing temperatures of the East, walked off alone..."

"and the last I saw of him he rounded the corner of Seventh Avenue, eyes on the street ahead, and bent to it again."

This is now 325 West 13th Street, which is the location where Helen lived when she met Lenny Bruce. I do not know when this building was built... and it looks fairly new. The building where Helen lived may have been torn down for the construction of this newer apartment house.

This is 346 West 15th Street and it is where Allen Ginsberg lived from 1951 to 1952. It is where Jack Kerouac was introduced to Gregory Corso.

And this is a view of the block.

This is 149 West 21st Street and it was where Lucien Carr lived from 1950 to 1951. He and Jack Kerouac were friends and Jack visited him often. Bill Cannastra also lived in a nearby building that is now a parking lot.

And this is a view of the block.

This was added on January 21, 2010:
This is the front door of 421 West 118th Street, where Jack Kerouac lived with Edie Parker in the early 1940s.

This is 421 West 118th Street.

This is West 118th Street, looking toward Morningside Drive.

"The Awakener" is a beautifully written memoir that takes the reader to personal and heartfelt places of great joy and bittersweet memories.

Helen Weaver talks about her relationship with Jack Kerouac, and the book is so richly developed and defined that I felt the scenes were unfolding like a well-directed independent film. I was very caught up in the story.

I also had the feeling that I was becoming part of a wonderful time gone by... and I was motivated to visit several of the addresses mentioned in this book to put a visual to the text as the pages unfolded. 

Helen Weaver also discusses her other relationships from long ago... and she writes with honestly, clarity, and sincerity in terms of the direction of those relationships as the decades passed.

 Jack Kerouac, in "Desolation Angels," wrote: "So I actually felt like marrying Ruth Heaper and moving to a country home in Connecticut."

 If you are nostalgic for a time gone by and you want to hear "Ruth Heaper" tell her story, this book is a must!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

A Bittersweet Experience Recalled

It seems I was always just missing the mark.... sigh. These exchanges are from February 2009 and I was so happy to receive Robert Siegel's gracious, sincere, and thoughtful reply.

Here is an abridged version of his reply:

Chelsea Gallery closed. But on the day I recommended another actor for that part, this was my audition space: 

Studio Dante, gone and bye-bye

This was written at this blog in June 2008:
I auditioned in June 2006 for acting classes at Michael Imperioli's Studio Dante. I did one of Charlotte's monologues from "Last of the Red Hot Lovers." I was evaluated by Vincent Curatola and Nick Sandow. I think Mr. Curatola was undecided but Nick Sandow hated me. I knew I had done a damn good job. But, I was rejected. I left feeling like shit.

In any event, I came home and wrote a letter to Nick Sandow. Here it is:

"After my audition last Tuesday, I left knowing that I did not express why I really was interested in taking acting classes at Studio Dante. I attended a preview of Dark Yellow on Friday, May 26th, and I thought the production was excellent. I had viewed (on the computer) several short films in “The Collection.” I admired your work in Stuck Together, Dog, and Good Morning Mr. Greenberg and I also saw Sharon Angela in The Interview, which was very funny. I was a 6th grade teacher, in Manhattan, for 34 years and I am a stand-up-comedian... so I was surprised to discover I developed a case of lockjaw during the interview. It was you from whom I wanted to learn the craft, and all of the instructors at Studio Dante were very impressive. I was unhappy with the flustered way I came across, so I am now writing to tell you what was left unsaid. If at a future time Studio Dante allows another opportunity to try to be accepted into the classes, my contact information is above. Thank you."

Oh, kill me now, that was another desperate reach. Stick a fork in me, I am so done. What the fuck is wrong with me? Later that week I auditioned for classes with Austin Pendleton at HB Studio. I performed the same monologue and I was accepted. I declined the class because it began too early in the day for my night owl schedule. Days after that, I did that same monologue for Sanford Morris at HB Studio and he thought it was excellent.

I never heard from Nick Sandow about a do-over. But, I see him all the time when I attend plays at Studio Dante. Next time I see him I am going to ask him if I was rejected because I am not skinny.

December 2017:
There is not one time I recall that afternoon at Studio Dante that I do not cringe. I am mortified because there are times in every life where a person feels like a damn fool, and that day lives at the top of my memory. I feel humiliated not because I was rejected. The hell with that. I feel like an idiot because of the asinine letter I sent to Nick Sandow.

I continued to attend regularly the plays at Studio Dante even though I hated the atmosphere within the venue. Studio Dante was called adoringly a "jewel box" and it did have a colorful visual heady appeal, but the very small theater did not have any level of stadium seating and there was always some big head in front of me blocking the entire view of the stage area. And that place had an unpleasant weird self-conscious vibe. Every time I entered that theater, I felt uncomfortable. Even the receptionist viewed me constantly with a jaundiced eye both before and after that audition. I suppose they did me a favor by not accepting me there. The place was a cure for constipation and one time I had a total panic attack during intermission.

I did see Nick Sandow a few times after that audition at Studio Dante because he and I coincidentally attended the same evening performances. I realized from his facial expressions and slowly turning red face that he recognized and remembered me and he was reacting to the letter I had sent him which I know he received. It was all very... awkward. And the atmosphere inside that setting was always totally unpalatable.

Anyway, Studio Dante did not have a long life. It closed after a few years and the building was torn down recently. I think even the ghosts that roam in that space now have a level of extreme severe discomfort. Something definitely was amiss. In the lobby. I always felt like I was butt naked and being "trolled" in real time by sideway glances and the pretentious stiff energy there was so thick you could cut it with a knife. But encores, curtain calls, and standing ovations for the fine plays that somewhat made all else fall away... for a few hours.

Well after all, who knows where these kind of "mad" experiences will lead us.... yep, who knows.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Sunday, November 19, 2017

HB Studio, a dream place

This blog piece is for "Selfie"... who inspires me with her kindness and wisdom to keep pushing and to acknowledge my past which brought me to a reinvented present. And it is she who suggested this music.

In 1965, I attended HB Studio and took classes in acting technique and scene study with James Patterson. My scene partner was a young Robert DeNiro... and we performed one scene from the play "The Diary of Anne Frank." I remember that he was very quiet and mysteriously introspective and detached. 

I was still living in Valley Stream, Long Island and I drove into NYC in my 1962 gold Corvair with my friend Linda, who was a great actor and artistic motivation.

Back then, the view of the West Side Highway was quite different: there was an overpass that extended all the way from uptown to downtown and cars could pass under the highway as they drove in either direction. The high highway obscured the view of the Hudson River and the streets in Greenwich Village were quiet and uncrowded. That elevated highway is long gone, but it gave the area a darker feeling, and cast strange and haunting shadows onto Bank Street.

This photo was taken by Berenice Abbott; it is a southern view of the West Side Highway to about West 26th Street:

Back then and so long ago, I was a young girl and filled with hopes and aspirations. HB Studio was a dream place, but I never fulfilled my dreams. It just never happened, and that knowledge sometimes overwhelms me with regret and sadness. I am old now and getting older, but I did manage to find places where I could fulfill my dreams... in small scale ways. More about that later. 

This is now the bright, open and airy view of the West Side Highway. The Hudson River is visible in the distance. 

This photo was taken in June 1966, in front of the Broadhurst Theater... I was probably looking up and hoping to see my own name on a marquee one day. And so it goes, and so it goes. 

And here is that spot now: 

It is the "now" or the present that grounds so many people. But there are some of us who are always filled with great nostalgia: a sense of longing for something... for past places that have now changed or are gone and can never be revisited or for previous carefree times that were filled with wonder and exist only in memories.

"Selfie" gets it because she has what I call "the soul of a poet."


Almost dusk:
Last summer on one Wednesday, in July,
I sat on a bench, a grey wooden tired
Bench on a boardwalk out at old Long Beach.
In the sky a lonely and lost grey kittiwake tipped
As the hot pink sun set in blazing technicolor over
Hot pinkish sand and the fading blue ocean water.

That morning:
I had thought about seeing great art...
Vermeer, or Courbet, or maybe Monet.
But, I drove to the beach instead to think
To think about everything creative that had been
Created before I got here, and when I was here,
And what will be created when I leave this place.
When one day I leave my place and all places in my
Consciousness that is now in this time and was
At a past time and will be in some next time;
Maybe all time exists at the same time.
The great minds of theoretical physicists search
For the "Theory of Everything" as they sit
In their cluttered rooms, their great thinking rooms.
In universities, they ponder the mathematical equations
And Schrodinger's cat and all those mysteries.

In the evening:
It is during the quiet and still and sad night when
I miss most the people I never met:
Edie Beale, and the Rat Pack, and even Rod Serling
Who made me want to time travel: to go back to simpler places
Like Nedick's, or the Belmore, or Bickford's, and Willoughby.
Then the longing, a longing when distant sounds and faraway
Foghorns drive thoughts to reflect on a life visible through some
Smoky cracked mirror, a haunted and haunting steamy mirror.
As I am sort of old now and getting older
There is a vague and odd feeling that I,
Like the kittiwake, somehow must have lost the way.

--- Marjorie J. Levine © 2009