Thursday, November 17, 2016

Schulenberg's Page: New York, Part LXXXVI

Text and Illustrations by ©Bob Schulenberg

New York, 1967.
Back from a cold and rainy Bermuda with a small scar on my cheek, I returned to a cold and rainy Manhattan.

I went back to the library's amazing picture collection to continue researching 19th century graphics.

Art Nouveau was coming back into fashion in furniture and graphic design. Aubrey Beardsley was becoming as familiar to us as he was at the end of the Victorian period! Maybe even more so!
I'd read that there was a great interest and craving for opium during that time. In our time, with the use of LSD, people were describing and writing about the hallucinations experienced, vines growing up walls, flowers becoming animated and I wondered if the revival of Art Nouveau was connected to the use of hallucinogens!

Is that what our time had in common with the turn of the century? Drugs?
People told me that I should try it and that my whole creative output would change. I responded by telling them if my creative output were to change, I'd have to start my illustration career all over again and since I was beginning to get regular national magazine and advertising assignments I was unwilling to experiment.

I was also beginning to know of some unfortunate stories connected to bad LSD trips! Aside from my friend Chris's fatal subway leap, my sister-in-law's cousin decided he could walk off of the roof of a tall building in San Francisco!

I remained uninterested in experimentation.
New York was full of enough hallucinations without drugs!
And along with California-style thick milkshakes and "California Burgers," Manhattan finally had gotten a few Mexican restaurants that weren't high end gourmet versions; just tacos, burritos, tortillas, salsa and chips.
It wasn't low calorie health food!
And Mara invited me to a Paraphernalia disco party downtown!
Though I did have assignments regularly, I still made time for coffee breaks.
And showing friends from out of town my hangouts and local color!
The old standby, Hector's on Broadway in the theater district.
The next day I met with Amy Vane in my Yorkville neighborhood at the Bavarian Inn on 86th Street. We talked about our "Secret Cinema" trip to the London Film Festival and Paul's attempts to find a distributor for the film. So far he hadn't had much success.

The length of it was the problem: it was too long to be a short and too short to be a feature!
I had dinner with Paul the next night and we went to Tortilla Flat. He was as excited as I was that there was a Los Angeles-style Mexican restaurant. He'd told me that we had an appointment later to meet with Lionel Rogosin downtown to talk about distribution for "The Secret Cinema."

Rogosin was one of the active sponsors of The Film-Makers' Cooperative along with Adolphas Mekas and his brother Jonas for whom Paul and I had done titles for Jonas' film, "The Double-Barreled Detective Story."
A film still from "The Double-Barreled Detective Story."
Rogosin had gotten a lot of attention years before for his independent film "On The Bowery" and another film about apartheid in South Africa which featured the then unknown Miriam Makeba. Rogosin had sponsored her and brought her to America where she had a very successful career! Other active supporters of the Film-Makers' Cooperative were Shirley Clarke and Robert Downey, Sr., father of Junior.
Miriam Makeba in "Come Back, Africa."
Lionel Rogosin on the set.
Lionel Rogosin had purchased The Bleecker Street Cinema which was an old art house theater that showed experimental films, European films and from time to time classic films from the past. It was a virtual Cinematheque itself and was well attended by young independent wannabe film-makers like Scorcese and Coppola! Scorcese was a participant with The Film-Makers' Collective also and spent a lot of time studying films at the Bleecker Street Cinema!
Rogosin had started a small distribution company for films that he felt needed exposure and Paul was hoping that he would take an interest in our film and do something with it.

We met with him and André Chudinoff at The Dugout near the theater.
He was noncommittal. The film was too short to be a feature and too long to be a short! Uh-huh.

I left Paul, he left for the subway to his apartment on the West Side, and I decided to take the Third Avenue bus home to the East Side.

As I sat thinking about the whole evening, suddenly a young black man started singing. He was actually performing operatic arias in a high coloratura all the way from St. Mark's Place to 42nd Street! After giving a piece of bread to a man in work clothes he got off the bus.

Suddenly the workman burst forth with a high counter-tenor appoggiatura!
Contact Bob here.
Click here for NYSD Contents