Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Van Cortlandt House Museum

I visited this museum in 2009.

Van Cortlandt House Museum

Morris Jumel

Jumel Terrace

In 2008, I visited the Morris Jumel Mansion, located at 65 Jumel Terrace in Manhattan.

Friday, July 26, 2013

My View from Casa 140

no concrete view here
the dark green is inspiring

© Marjorie Levine 2013

Alan replies

I received this reply from Alan Berliner:

"Thanks so much Marjorie, I really appreciate it.

I'm so touched by your comments, but mostly I'm so happy that you're thriving and growing in so many ways. Never stop smiling, and never stop trying to make people laugh!

If there's any chance that my conversation will be available on-line you will be the first to know.

With my warmest regards, Alan"

Alan has inspired me to be imaginative and creative... and I am so happy that he is receiving the Freedom of Expression Award. His body of work is excellent in all ways.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Congratulations, Alan Berliner

Today, I received this in an E-mail from the filmmaker, Alan Berliner:

First Cousin Once Removed will be screening at the upcoming San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, where I will be receiving the Freedom of Expression Award at the beautiful Castro Theatre on Monday, 7/29 at 6:25 PM. Last year's recipient was Elliott Gould and the year before was Kirk Douglas, and I'm profoundly honored to be in such amazing company.

After the awards ceremony I will be showing a clip reel of my work, followed by a conversation on-stage with Jay Rosenblatt, (another previous recipient and program director of the festival).

Hope you can make it.

All best,

This was my reply:

Congratulations on receiving the Freedom of Expression Award! I am so happy for you. You are a very deserving recipient. Your work is excellent, inspiring, and thought provoking.

You have motivated me to become creative and imaginative, and for that I will always be grateful. The body of my various work on the internet has grown greatly and I now do a live internet broadcast that is nostalgia driven. The idea for my projects began with you.

Again, congratulations... and since I am in NY I won't be there but maybe the conversation with Jay Rosenblatt can be put up on your website or on YouTube.

All my best,

My interview with Alan Berliner is at this blog and can be read below.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Robert Siegel, writer/director

an encore, from 2009:

This interview with Robert began on a Thursday evening at a Chelsea diner. And we concluded the interview the following day, on a muggy Friday Manhattan night in the same diner. So, this was my first two-part interview. I was excited and happy.

Robert was editor-in-chief of "The Onion" from 1996 to 2003... when it was in it's original phase as a Madison, Wisconsin publication. The editor of "The Onion" when Robert arrrived was Ben Karlin, who later left to join "The Daily Show" as executive producer. He was followed by David Javerbaum, who is still the executive producer of "The Onion" and he wrote the music for the Broadway show, "Crybaby."

In 2001, "The Onion" moved to new headquarters in New York City. And shortly thereafter Robert began writing "The Wrestler." Robert explained that the process of creating a film is a long one. It can sometimes take five years from "script to screen." But Robert knew from the beginning that Mickey Rourke was "ideal" for this film and he wrote "The Wrestler" with Mickey Rourke in mind. Robert knew he would be just perfect for this part. Robert wanted to create a compelling character and story. Yet, he realizes the story is both sad and emotional. And throughout, there are many scenes in the film that show the character's great and extreme loneliness with moments of so much sweetness.

The audience knows at the end of the film that "The Ram" will not last long after he makes a decision to go back into the ring. He has made a decision to die. It was the director's decision to end the film with a freeze frame... to perhaps leave the final moments without a closure.

I think there are huge emotional moments in "The Wrestler" and it was Robert Siegel from whose fingers this heartbreaking film began and... he indeed created the film which gave Mickey Rourke his "comeback." Robert was nominated for a WGA award in the category of "original screenplay" for the film.

We moved on to a discussion of "Big Fan," the film which Robert wrote and directed and which will premiere at BAM on June 19th as part of the Next Wave Festival. In the film, Patton Oswalt plays Paul Aufiero, a loner who is obsessed with the Giants and he spends much of his time calling in to a sports radio show. For this role, Patton Oswalt won the award for "Best Actor" at the Method Festival. Robert describes Paul as a "Marty" or "Rupert Pupkin"... and perhaps "Big Fan" is the "King of Comedy" of sports movies. I asked Robert if he personally knows any of these "obsessive nerds" and he said he based the character on his imagination. But we have all had experiences which make us lonely and we all share basic human emotions and it is those feelings which Robert hopes to bring to film. "Big Fan" will open on August 28th.

Well, another interview had ended. As darkness was falling, the sidewalks were still packed with people and the streets were crowded with busy traffic congestion. I started thinking as I began the walk home. People weave in and out of our lives.... but I have known Robert for several years, and tonight I continued to be impressed by Robert's sincerity, integrity, openness, and warmth.

Alan Berliner, filmmaker and media artist

an encore, from 2009:

My interview today with Alan Berliner was different from any other that came before. Alan Berliner is the filmmaker who two years ago invited me to join an NYU class on film archiving that was visiting his lower Manhattan studio. The specific purpose of my visit was to discuss a possible solution for the preservation of my old family photos. During the class discussion, Alan suggested I post the photos to the internet where they would be saved and available to any viewers who might discover the site. And shortly thereafter my memoir in a blog, marjorie-pentimentos, began. Today, Alan called my visit to the class an "intervention."

Many months ago when I began marjorie-digest, I asked Alan if he would be interviewed by me for this blog. He thought it would be worthwhile if I again joined another class from NYU and talked about my experience of two years ago and how the process was suggested in a concept during the first visit. Alan requested that I arrive early and that would give us a chance to talk. I was excited and I looked forward to today. I had no idea that the interview that I had intended to be about Alan would somehow morph into an interview about me!

We began and I told Alan that on Sunday many of the descendants of my great-grandparents, Abraham Levine and Goldie Benjamin, gathered at a restaurant in Manhattan for a family reunion. I told Alan that I expecially loved watching the family home movies from around 1952 that were brought by my cousin, Allen. As I talked about Sunday, I slowly began a stream-of-consciousness about so many different topics I felt somehow as if I was going to places that should never have left the imaginative confines of my own head.

And Alan sat there taking notes. He asked just the right questions to bring me to these personal places that were bittersweet and emotional. I talked and talked... about reincarnation, and quantum physics, and consciousness, and past lives, and memories. When I talked about time travel, I think my mind was on that train longing for "Willoughby" where I could enjoy the comforts of the past.

I talked about my life in retirement and my life... and I even spoke about my OCD. I just kept talking and talking... and dialogue flowed (probably from my subconscious) about personal feelings, old family photos, and home movies. I told Alan I love home movies because they are the closest thing to time travel we will ever get. The conversation was layered at times with fantasy, and imagination, and wishful thinking. And Alan kept writing.

He was able to somehow make me want to become nostalgic and share thoughts on so many things... when I was there to be the listener and learn more about him! I was embarrassed and I apologized to Alan that the interview became about me. He waved his hand and seemed to not care and said something like "Maybe I wanted to do that."

And this must be why he is a phenomenal filmmaker. He has this uncanny and kind ability to inspire people to be real and in a defenseless and in a very unguarded way to discover meaningful feelings.

Well, I had to temporarily shut-up because the class arrived and Alan played some very interesting and engaging sound effects for them and then they sat in a circle while I was asked to speak about the birth of my blog. And I did.

Alan inspires me to want to be a better "keeper of the memories." If after I contacted him two years ago Alan had not graciously invited me to meet with him, all my "stuff" probably would have one day been lost forever in a Staten Island landfill. That makes me sad. It makes me sad because one of my personal treasures is a letter that was written by my grandmother to my mother in about 1929. It appears in my memoir in this entry with a poem I wrote in 1992 which developed from some of my feelings about that letter... maybe sentimental memorabilia is in a sense a "madeleine."

In "Synecdoche, New York," the writer Charlie Kaufman ends the film with a monologue: "Now, it is waiting, and nobody cares. And when your wait is over, this room will still exist, and it will continue to hold shoes, and dresses, and boxes. And maybe someday, another waiting person. And maybe not. The room doesn't care either..."

Alan cares and I am on Alan's wave-length. And maybe there is a large group of total strangers who share these thoughts about time and the passing of time and the importance of, as Alan said, "saving pieces of individual lives" even in small scale ways.

At his website Alan has a link to his articles, essays, and journals. Please read his essay, "Gathering Stones." Alan showed me the way to help my own "orphaned photos" find a home.
And in his journal piece "Nobody's Business," Alan writes: "But yes, it is me who returns to visit -- not any of their children, their grandchildren, or any (other) of their great-grandchildren. Just me."

And so I realize that I had forgotten to tell Alan that on infrequent down days when I have little to do, I ride to the still-standing buildings in Brooklyn where I once lived. It seems to be always gloomy and raining on those days. But even on bright sunny days, I think about the homes and the times inside those homes. My mind wanders and I can still hear my mother calling me, at 5:30 PM, for "supper." Sometimes, when I arrive at one house... I park my car slightly down the street, and look at the outside of the window in the room where I once lay in bed at night, so long ago, listening to the sounds of whooshing cars as they passed while I watched their shadows dancing on my bedroom wall. And I still visit my grandmother's house in Bensonhurst.

Alan Berliner is a creative award-winning filmmaker. You can learn more about him and his work by clicking on the links below.


The Sweetest Sound

Nobody's Business

Intimate Stranger

The Family Album

Wide Awake

Short Films

online Interviews:
POV - The Sweetest Sound

San Francisco Film Festival: Wide Awake

Friday, July 12, 2013

NYC Transit Museum's: "Nostalgia Rides"

from the NYPost:

 "When the IRT was extended to the edge of Pelham Bay Park in 1920, it allowed New Yorkers to ride the subway (for a 5-cent fare) to the city’s largest park for a day of leisure. In one of the NY Transit Museum’s “Nostalgia Rides,” which each summer offer trips to various city locales on vintage subway cars, you take that ride tomorrow in one of the exact train cars.

Riders will travel on a fleet of World War I-era cars to the end of the 6 line, in The Bronx, where they can board a collection of vintage buses bound for nearby Orchard Beach. “New Yorkers forget we can get to the beach by riding the subway,” says museum director Gabrielle Shubert. “So why not do it in style?”

MTA website

Fete Paradiso

in the NYDailyNews

in the NYPost

Monday, July 8, 2013

A Brief Encounter

In the hot late afternoon... I was walking home from Whole Foods and trailing behind a couple who were a few feet in front of me. The scent left behind as they walked was incredible. I HAD to put a name to that fragrance.

I called ahead: "Miss, Miss... please may I ask you something?" They stopped and turned around. I asked: "What is that incredible and glorious perfume?" "It's Bond no. 9 Chinatown," she replied.

And then she added, "You were my teacher." I was thinking that she looked about 40 years old and her companion looked about the same age. I told her the schools in which I taught and I was indeed her teacher in 1985. I was also her friend's teacher.

We spoke for a short time about that school and we shared some memories. I loved being a teacher. I love bumping into former students because I am reminded of a career that was productive, gave me a true sense of accomplishment, and lets me feel I made a difference.

Tomorrow? I am going to Saks Fifth Avenue for:

Monday, July 1, 2013

Rock Paper Photo Collection

I was walking to Kaboom and passed this:

Opening Party for Alec Baldwin's Curated Rock Paper Photo Collection

Opening Party for Alec Baldwin's Curated Rock Paper Photo Collection 
When: Mon, July 1, 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Where: Gallery 151, 132 West 18th Street, New York, New York
Admission: Invite Only
Description On Monday, July 1st, Alec Baldwin will unveil an exclusive curated collection of iconic rock photography, featuring 30 photos of music and film legends hand-picked from Rock Paper Photo's comprehensive online collection. Presented by The Macallan and at Gallery 151, the exhibit will include rare photos of pop culture icons like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor and David Bowie, among others.

It was photo op time! I was able to get a few shots, through the glass walls, of Alec Baldwin (in the forefront with his back to the camera) and his daughter Ireland (back to the camera in a white dress) when Alec Baldwin was being interviewed by Lisa G (in the red pants) and High Pitch Mike (in the white shirt), from the Howard Stern Show.

Guest Curator, Alec Baldwin

I did not stay long and continued on to Kaboom. On the way back, the party was still going strong. I love living in NYC!