Thursday, March 9, 2017

Schulenberg's Page: New York, Part CII

Text and Illustrations by ©Bob Schulenberg

Summer of '67, con't.
I visited David and Sheila (Shelagh) Columbia. Sheila was a photographic stylist and had a very refined aesthetic sense. I loved the easygoing elegance of their apartment where I particularly remember pale blue chairs with lime green colored cording.
It was always special to have lunch at the Museum of Modern Art penthouse.
That evening I met with my old friend Beverly Ross at the Brasserie in the Seagram Building. She wrote the song "Lollipop" (lollipop / Oh lolli lolli lolli / Lollipop lollipop ...) and was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. She finally moved to Nashville.
The next night I was invited to my cousin Adrienne's apartment on Central Park West.
Rolf Nelson had married her roommate Doreen Gehry from her UCLA days.
Rolf, originally from New York, had an art gallery in Los Angeles and was very tuned in to the whole painting scene. That evening there was a cross section of some prominent personalities.
Robert Indiana.
Bill Katz.
Paul Ruscha was the brother of Ed Ruscha.
I had a surprise visitor from California, Gary Brockway, who lived with his family across the street from my mother in Fresno. He had been curious about my New York life and before starting college, decided to come see for himself what it was like to live in New York. He got a big dose of it before he went back home.
I took him on a tour of the East Village.
He decided to stay in California.

After he left I met Ben Bagley for dinner at Kis Little, a tiny Hungarian restaurant that was on Second Avenue just around the corner from my apartment. It was frequented by Hungarians from the neighborhood which had a large population of people who'd escaped from Hungary when the Russians appeared.

The food was always fresh and delicious and the best part was that it was surprisingly inexpensive!
Ben was producing records at the time but much earlier had had success by producing a revue, The Shoestring Revue, which launched the careers of many who later became famous! He was in a great part influential in the careers of Bea Arthur, Tammy Grimes and many others who graduated from small revues to Broadway and television. He had been the youngest producer in Show Business and was currently putting together unlikely performers for a series of recordings of legendary composers' forgotten songs or some that had been excised from Broadway shows: Rodgers & Hart Revisited, Cole Porter Revisited, Irving Berlin Revisited, and others.
Ben used Harvey Schmidt to design the covers. Before Schmidt had his first musical success with The Fantasticks, Schmidt had been a well known illustrator, one of my favorites, for Esquire.
David Merrick by Harvey Schmidt for Esquire.
Notice on this cover that somehow Ben was able to use Yves Saint Laurent's illustrations.
Ben used Tony Perkins, Rex Reed, Phyllis Diller and others not known for performing alongside stalwarts like Charlotte Rae, Kaye Ballard and Blossom Dearie.

He'd developed a loathing for Barbra ever since I introduced them at the beginning of her Bon Soir engagement. I think it was because she'd never agreed to work with him; he didn't want to believe that she suddenly had so many major offers that she wasn't able to even consider it.
He'd had tuberculosis as a young man and having a strange, wry sense of ironic humor, insisted on adding "before his death" on several drawings.

Burt Bluestein stopped by my apartment for a quick visit.
The next night there was another open air concert in Central Park — this time, Dionne Warwick.
Mayor John Lindsay had said that it wasn't possible to remove crime from the park but if there were enough events and possibilities for entertainment in the park, the crowds would outnumber the crooks!

Some friends of mine organized a nighttime picnic in the park and it was possible to call the Parks Department and arrange for a guard. Just in case.
After the concert, ice cream at Howard Johnson's.
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