Thursday, February 25, 2016

Schulenberg's Page: New York, Part XLVIII

Text and Illustrations by ©Bob Schulenberg

When I finally returned from Los Angeles to New York, I was not disappointed — New York was ablaze with the creative energy I'd found lacking in Paris!

Broadway and Off-Broadway Theater, painters, music, clothing designers, writers and cabarets were flourishing with new talent everywhere!

Though there was a war escalating in Southeast Asia, civil rights riots and protests in the south and a recently murdered charismatic young president, New York was on a bender!
As a side note, in 1963 from Paris I had even written an excoriating letter to the racist Bull Connor, the Commissioner of Public Safety for the city of Birmingham, Alabama who'd ordered the police to use vicious dogs and fire hoses on black demonstrators during protests against segregation; I'd thought that a letter from Paris might be more effective to show, as later protests would cry, that "the whole world is watching!"
But in New York it was still Party Time, and after taking over and moving into my friend Treva Silverman's inexpensive Upper East Side apartment as she'd moved on to begin a career writing for television, I spent my days showing my portfolio of French illustration samples to magazines and ad agencies and my nights downtown immersed in the excitement of the clubs!
From The New York Times book reviews.
Jacques Chazot, Francoise Sagan, Maria Callas and Aristotle Onassis, Salvador Dali, Vicomtesse Jacqueline de Ribes Chez Maxim. For Adam [later Vogue Homme].
The best of these was the Duplex with a piano bar downstairs and a small theater area upstairs which had open mic night every night after the featured performers finished their acts.
Joan Rivers appeared there frequently working and perfecting her routines. She came with a tape recorder and always recorded whatever came out of her improvising mouth because she never wanted to forget a line if it got a laugh. She was Treva's writing partner and worked very diligently to make sure everything in her act was slick and funny!

One night in late September, a middle-aged man who worked during the day selling aluminum siding walked onto the stage after Cloris Leachman's younger sister singer Claiborne Cary and introduced himself as "Rodney Dangerfield."

I was surprised when he said that. At UCLA I had a friend John Tackaberry who acted as my surrogate father for fraternity "Father-Son Dinners" since my father lived up north. John was one of Jack Benny's four comedy writers and was one of the writers who'd invented the ongoing gag on the Jack Benny Show that "Rodney Dangerfield" was "Jack's favorite action movie star" but now at the Upstairs this aluminum siding salesman comes along calling himself Rodney Dangerfield, and started a whole comedy routine.

And he was funny!
A month later I was invited to a Sunday brunch by Hal Frederick, a cabaret regular with whom I'd become acquainted. There was an attractive group of young people and I was feeling more and more at home in New York.
There was so much conversation and she had such an interesting face that for some reason I didn't write down her name.
Philip Farran, though never really a friend, would come into my life from time to time.

He'll be back!
Ken Harper was a handsome man who was working as an announcer at a radio station. As I got to know him, a few years later over coffee, he told me about an idea he was working on: a black version of "The Wizard of Oz."
Ten years later, we'd all know it as "The Wiz"!
Ken quit the radio station!
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