Tuesday, May 31, 2011

After The One Hour Of Spring...

...it was summer.

And toes emerging from coverlets coaxed the cat out from behind the toilet.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sunday Memories: It Takes A City To Build A Village

Over the last couple of weekends, Bill began the gentle process of emptying The Flower Stall. Any reasonable donation offered for any plant would be given to Seneca Village, a project Cornell loved and supported. A steady stream of neighbors and strangers came stopped by the beloved old shop, as plants were adopted and checks were written.

Other offerings were made as well. Memories, copies of blog postings, and this photo, taken December 23, 1967.


The Flower Stall is usually open on Saturday, but Bill is there on and off during the week as well. Please stop by with your checkbook or money order made out to The Seneca Village and take home one of Cornell's beautiful plants.

143 East 13th Street

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Mishpocheh Across Time And Place

Antiquity in the Metropolitan Museum, 2011

Mimi's hair is like that on the Roman lady statutes she teaches us about and Leilani easily gets cute young men to take pictures of us together. We wander through centuries of worlds, from China to Africa, from Rome to many parts of America.

Later, over hot dogs and pretzels in Central Park, we wander through now and then, musing about our younger days, pondering our present lives, and cooing over adorable dogs rescued by now-adoring owners.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

If We Dug A Hole Deep Enough, Would We Be Able To Return To Our Twenties?

It had been 25 years since we all met in China.

Guangzhou 1986

Mimi and me from New York City with attitude to match, and Leilani from Hawaii and England and Australia and Indonesia and other places who floated through each country with a graceful elegance any New York girl would have killed for.

Coney 2011

And now each one of us searches the other's face, wondering where the hell the proof of those 25 years hides. Maybe we are more mature, happier, kinder, smarter, confident, but we look exactly the same to one another.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sunday Memories: On The Cusp Of Marilyn


Nixon went to China in 1972.

The City College Study Exchange went in 1986.

When we left the Guangzhou University Campus for a sight-seeing excursion, we were stared at, touched, followed and talked about (in Chinese) because we were often the first Westerns ever seen. I decided at some point it was just practice for when I was a superstar. (The internet hadn't been invented yet so writers were still revered.)

The streets were still filled with bicycles and very few cars and taxis that went even too fast for me. Crates of dogs were for sale, snakes were killed and cooked and served right then and there, and road side late dinner got served while sitting on wooden benches or crates. Hand holding between males and females was frowned upon until the sun came down. So during the day, it was normal to see men soldiers walking hand in hand.

If there was more than one western-like hotel in the city, I don't remember. The White Swan, an understated Vegas-like explosion on the idea of fancy luxury, had a waterfall or big fountain in the lobby. More importantly it had a western style all-you-can-eat brunch buffet on the weekends. We would bring big bags on the couple of occasions we'd splurge on homesickness and food.

On Halloween, we watched the university students dance in circles, the boys with the boys holding hands and the girls with the girls holding hands. I don't remember the music one of the exchange students had brought, but the Chinese students were lit up, liberated by a rock and roll beat. I had come as Marilyn Monroe and when I asked one of the students if he recognized who I was dressed as, he said, "Yourself?"

Of course, these days China is not like that at all. And now anything you see here in the United States that looks like Marilyn Monroe probably has been made in China.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sunday Memories: Fast Food in Fast Times

It was really late the other night when I passed the series of fast food joints on 14th Street. And that's when I noticed all the teenagers hanging out. Hanging out in their tribes of multi-faceted fashion statements talking laughing milling being.

For us in those early years of the 1970's when vestiges of hippie land began the slow turn into serious drug use it was Nedicks on the corner of 8th Street and Sixth Avenue which still wasn't called the Avenue of Americas and if it was we never called it that anyway.

There, 13 or 14 years old, we gathered in our multi-faceted fashion statements, sending word like the Pony Express of who was looking for who and when would everyone be headed to the park or did anyone go to the therapy group at The Door which lived on 12th Street then - free meds but no free meals - The Door didn't have a kitchen until 18th Street. We all bummed cheap cigarettes from one another and the richer kids sprung for hot dogs and orange drinks from triangle cups.

It was on this corner we all said goodbye to Cowboy. Cowboy was a legend in our tribe. He walked about with a guitar on his back like a troubadour. A black kid from somewhere else, to us he was the coolest, nicest, hottest, hunkiest older man of 16 or 17 we knew. That afternoon he told us he was headed across the country or something like that and we all melted goodbyes in the hippie hugs everyone gave everyone, man, woman, gay, straight, sober or stoned.

Weeks later, one of the kids came running to the corner, telling us Cowboy was dead. He had taken acid and tried to swim across a Great Lake in some other state, I think it was Michigan.

It's like almost 40 years later, but every time I walk that corner I always think of Cowboy. And when I passed those kids on 14th Street the other night I thought of all of us.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sunday Memories: Mother's Day

Florence at her mother's apartment in Knickerbocker Village

These days, I am amused at the accolades on Mother's Day that often include the passing down of make-up tips and the special shopping trips for new clothes.

These were not the gifts Florence gave my sister or me. And although I inherited her love of lipstick, it's what is not found in a tube or a store that reminds me of my mother. It is, instead, a ferocious, unending, tenacious, gut wrenching, miserable exhaustion, banging-head-against-wall, exhilarating 'til-death-do-us-part relationship with the work of an artist.

Personally, there are days I would have been just fine with a new dress or some blue eyeshadow.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Stranger In A Strange Land

When one's therapist suggests that one walk along the Hudson because the day is so beautiful, one walks along the Hudson.

Roller skaters roll, kids play, there's grass and people lying on it and lots and lots of trees and bushes and benches. It's lovely. A welcoming respite with all this space and breeze and green and water. I feel like I'm in another city, like maybe Seattle.

In the middle of this rustic setting are the remains from a former respite.

A derelict wharf closed for years by concrete barriers that didn't stop anyone from scampered over them and then carefully navigated out to the very edge of the water, stepping or leaping over huge gaps between wooden planks that if missed would have landed some unlucky soul in the river.

Tricks were tricked, preening abound and it was the closest thing to heaven I had when I didn't have the time to get on the F train and go to Coney.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Only The Light Fixtures Are Different

There used to be tons of florescent lit places to go to in the middle of the night for a quick bite only a couple of dollars. Now even the 24-hour post office closes at 10 and the all night diner on 34th is really expensive.

Luckily for us, the pizza joint down the street - "one of the top ten!" David points out - is still open and in the lovely faux brick and marble, we eat our slices and pour talk of putting on plays in kindergarten, whether UPS is hotter than FedEx, the necessity of therapy to keep sane in an artist's life, concrete verse trees - discuss, the fact that Devil in Miss Jones is the only porn film in existence with a plot, and the pressing need of a support group for cats of writers.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sunday Memories: Being Sick

Juggling a soup bowl or a cup of tea, Florence would point her finger at me and say, "Well, you know it's all your fault."

After that statement of fact, the rest of the day would be spent curled with a pile of my favorite books and the radio tuned to the New York City radio station that broadcast children shows for all the sick kids stuck at home. On special days, I even got to spend the day in my parents' bed. Naps would sneak up on me and when the radio was tuned to WABC AM, music like 'These Boots Are Made For Walking' would transform my dreams to music videos before video had even been invented.

These days, books and a mini-tv and the cat keep me company as I drift in and out of naps. Every once in a while I tell myself "Well, you know it's all your fault."