Thursday, June 29, 2017

Schulenberg's Page: New York, Part CXVI

Text and Illustrations by ©Bob Schulenberg

Barre Dannen was flying in to New York
from Los Angeles and I went to JFK to meet him.
That night we met Johnny Meyer and went to the Palace Theater to see Henry, Sweet Henry. Barre was excited that he would be going to London to be in Cabaret; he'd gotten the important role of the MC, the part originally played on Broadway by Joel Grey!
After the show we went to Bob and Elisa Stone's apartment to visit and share the good news.

After all the early theatrical guidance and help Barre had given Barbra it looked like he was about to have his own success. He'd previously been an understudy for Joel Grey, but now, with this plum role, he'd be a star himself!
The next evening was spent with friends at Soerabaja. Since its opening it had become a popular restaurant and all-around hangout.
The next evening I was invited to dinner at Julie Tarachow's apartment. She was planning her wedding to George Hoover and asked if I would photograph her for her engagement announcement in the New York Times. She was so photogenic that I knew it would be successful.
Her friend Brigitte Weil was there too.
I took the bus home.
This graffito was on a sculpture downtown reenforcing my realization from the previous summer on Fire Island that drugs were everywhere!
The ongoing war in Vietnam and widespread protests of President Johnson (while some of the news told us the war was moving in our favor) created a culture of disillusionment — and now drugs! There was a prevalent feeling that the country was in general decline and headed for disaster one way or another.

Nostalgia for the Kennedy administration was also widespread.
I met George Hoover and Jerry Proctor for drinks at Martell's on Third Avenue at 83rd Street. I was going on to have dinner with my new rep Pema Browne and her husband at their apartment on 85th and Third, so it was convenient.
Jerry was a fraternity brother from UCLA and was the person who'd introduced me to George Hoover. He was also a good amateur jazz pianist and formed a trio that played for parties in our fraternity house.
Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity at UCLA.
The next night I had tickets to see Marlene Dietrich in her one woman show with Burt Bacharach accompanying her on the piano. It was an amazing show!
The audience was filled with women much younger than Dietrich, but she looked young and vital enough to be taken for their glamorous and beautiful daughter!
She was officially close to 70 so it was all elegant illusion of course, but it was an incredibly believable illusion!
The following Saturday I went downtown to the Public Theater to see a new play/musical in their small 99-seat theater.

It was called Hair and was seemingly as far from the soignée elegance of Dietrich as was possible — although they both had more in common with each other than with any other Broadway production.

When Dietrich sang "Where Have All the Flowers Gone," the contempt for war, the current war, was as palpably clear as were the obvious protests in Hair.
There was, of course, an age difference but that only made it all seem more achingly inevitable. Dietrich had worked actively against the Nazis during World War II and here she was, two decades later, addressing yet another war! What had changed and yet everything had changed?!

Everything except war.
I don't know how many in the small audience at the Public Theater knew what Hair would portend or what its influence would be, but even in 2017 it's playing somewhere. And although it may no longer be actively protesting against the draft, it's strong anti-war message is still applicable.
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