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." 

Friday, November 17, 2017

I used to live here as a kid...

"This street is where it all happened, not much now. Why do we always expect home to stay the same? Nothing else does. It's funny how when you're a kid a day can last forever. Now, all these years seem just like a blank." --- Bobby in Hearts in Atlantis

I took that ride today, back to the street and house where I grew up. I parked my car and walked up the same driveway I had walked up thousands of times so many years ago. I climbed the three front porch steps and I peeked in through the glass front door, but the interior was barely visible: all dark and muted. It was a different house, not my house. I rang the bell and nobody answered. I gathered nobody was home because the mailbox was still stuffed and full.

So, I turned around and walked down the three front porch steps and then turned around and looked back. It was almost dusk and chilly under a cloudy grey sky, and the wind rustled some long tall plants in front of the living room's bay window. They swayed back and forth, back and forth. I was overwhelmed with great and almost unbearable sadness. Nobody was home and nobody would ever be back home there for me. The street was bleak, depressing, and almost unrecognizable.... the houses seemed forlorn and like shadows of their former selves.

I used to live there as a kid but going back today was personally like visiting a cemetery. There was so much emptiness, such a great feeling of loss. The wind kept rustling the front shrubbery, rustling the shrubbery and I stood all alone on that sidewalk and for a minute it felt like nobody even lived on that street. Everybody was gone. The street was a gloomy ghost town.

I got back into my car and drove away, consumed with strange heavy emotions. And as Bobby said: "I lived on that street during the last of of my childhood." I will always think of that street. Always. I knew I would never go back there again... but as the view of that street disappeared in the rear view mirror, I remembered the time so many years ago when I drove away from that street into my future.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Through a Far Away Lens

When we get older, but we are not quite old.... we look back, and we go back, we revisit. We want to walk through places we remember from long ago, but when we get there the view can be different, muted, and vacant. The trip becomes a forlorn dreamlike sleepwalk because the landscape we remember has long disappeared and the recollections from long ago are gone. The once filled and crowded spaces are now haunted, changed, and empty.

We remember frozen and still pictures from childhood, but the new view is distorted... as if perceived through a confusing kaleidoscope.

Sometimes well, it's best to just let many memories remain inside a sweet spot that exists only in a mind's eye... so we do not blur a view from childhood.

Unionport Road, south from McGraw Avenue, 1938

Unionport Road, near Olmstead Avenue showing 
the construction of the Parkchester Houses, 1939

Unionport Road, near Odell Street showing the new Met Life Parkchester Houses, 1939

East Tremont Avenue at the corner of White Plains Road, 1939

Westchester Avenue between Castle Hill Avenue and Glebe Avenue, 1938

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Friday, October 6, 2017

Catfished, some afterthoughts

This song is a "metaphor for a losing a chapter of your life," but “I did not know him, I knew my idea of him.” ― Sharon Olds, Stag's Leap: Poems

I loved him greatly
But never knew him at all
And now he is gone            ©2017 Marjorie Levine