Thursday, May 25, 2017

Schulenberg's Page: New York, Part CXI

Text and Illustrations by ©Bob Schulenberg

"Living in interesting times" — that Chinese curse!

We were certainly living in interesting times! And it was becoming impossible to not recognize that there was a curse involved. President Johnson was becoming even less popular and the Vietnam War was escalating.

There was a seeming disconnect with popular music becoming more adventurous and creative. The Beatles had released Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and my brother, Richard, a lawyer at Capitol Records, had, himself legally checked and OK'd the cover art. If there was a political message of resistance in the album it was hidden.
There was in the work however, a sweet ironic echo of panicked sadness: "he blew his mind out in a car; he hadn't noticed that the light had changed!"

But daily life in Manhattan for me continued with its ups and downs — mostly ups! I was now represented by Pema Browne and that meant that I didn't have to make the rounds showing my work. That was her job.

She lived a few blocks from me which made it very convenient to drop off with her doorman finished work which she would then deliver to the client. She also invited me to an evening to meet people. I was getting exposure.
Lou da Paola was an art director I'd met previously and he was also invited. After leaving Pema's apartment we stopped at a neighborhood bar just down the street to talk about the future. It appeared that I had one!
A few days later I visited a friend who'd just moved back to New York from the west coast. Butch Clancy was one of my first friends from when in 1960 I'd moved to Greenwich Village from Los Angeles. He had a sunny and open personality that I found familiar and comfortable as a contrast to the cynical Fire Island summer that I was still trying to forget.
Emblematic of a culture trying to forget, it was the rise of the discotheque and new dances. I loved going to them not to dance but to draw!
The Twist had morphed into something that was being called The African Twist! And there was still the Funky Broadway! I only remember that there was something tangibly eloquent and certainly sexy about these dances no matter who was doing them.
And then, with a little dose of a previous reality, my old friend from Fresno Jerry Rodder arrived with his wife Carole, who had grown up on Long Island.
At their wedding a few years earlier I had run into Sam Antupit, the art director of Esquire, who, as it turned out, was related to Carole!
We went to the Museum of Modern Art.
Jay Weiss, E. Jay Wiess, was a young artist friend who lived not far from me on the Upper East Side. He and Maria Smith and I met at the neighborhood standby, the L & H Restaurant, the German bakery down the street on Second Avenue.
I always wondered what the woman behind the counter was doing during WW II!
Maria arrived with a new look, short hair! In actuality it was a beautiful wig.
The next day, I had one of those experiences that made New York so special:

While the bus driver whistled Way Down Yonder in New Orleans a passenger carrying two oil paintings of nudes was complimented by three men.
And then the IRT.
I think it was Herb Gardner who said that on every street corner in Manhattan there is a one act play.
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