Thursday, October 19, 2017

Schulenberg's Page: New York, Part CXXXII

Text and Illustrations by ©Bob Schulenberg

April, 1968. Paul Bartel and I met with Grace van Hulsteyn for coffee and lots of talk about The Secret Cinema.

The next day I visited Dennis Abbe at his studio where he was beginning a transition from illustration to working in glass.
I’d met him during the wet, awful summer of 1967 on Fire Island —  the Summer of Lust (and drugs) as it turned out!  Dennis and I were probably the only two non-drug-using people on the island that summer.

Dennis would eventually become very well known for his glassworks designing large beautiful decorative glass screens and fire screens.  He was very influenced by Art Deco, something we had in common.
I’m sure that many people thought his work actually was from the '20s!
The next afternoon I stopped at Howard Blechman’s apartment which was becoming a regular event.  Howard was such a generous host and this time I met a friend of his named Ron Ross.
We talked and talked about all the political events.  Martin Luther King had been murdered just a few days before. Riots had broken out in many cities with many people being killed.

We decided to go to the Burg-a-Cue for something to eat.  We’d been so wrapped up in conversation we hadn’t realized it was getting late.
The next day I was with Ann Rieger, who was under the weather having also had a similarly intense previous evening!  She’d invited me to an opera benefit at the State Theater at Lincoln Center and we made plans for that evening.
The next evening I again met Howard Blechman and again we went to the Burg-a-Cue for a quick dinner.
And then Ann and I went to the Benefit at the State Theater.  The opera was Madame Butterfly and the tragic mood of the opera was echoed by the audience’s somber mood.
The mood eventually lightened as the evening wore on with a dinner dance.
The following afternoon I went to a matinee of George M, a musical about George M. Cohan, the King of Broadway during the early 20th century.

I noticed that Jill O’Hara was in it and I’d admired her so much in the original HAIR at the Public Theater when she sang, "Good Morning, Starshine!"  There was also a young girl in the cast named Bernadette Peters!  Joel Grey starred as George M. Cohan.
Ann Rieger had a close friend named Johanna Roosevelt.  I asked her which one she was related to and she said none!  She said she’d become a Roosevelt to get better reservations with fewer questions!

She was so bright with such a good sense of humor that I never knew what to believe!
We went to dinner at Soerabaja with Johanna’s friend, Bruce Duncan.
The week continued with a small party given by Bruce Pearson.
Then, on Easter, we were together again with Johanna entertaining us singing songs made famous by May Irwin, America’s Queen of Comedy in vaudeville from 1880 to the 1920s!
May Irwin was from a different time and things were very different then.  
Johanna, having worked with SNCC and the beginnings of the Southern Poverty Law Center thought the songs were outrageous to the point of being hilarious!  She didn’t sing the racist songs much but loved to sing the stupidest ones more! (Hello Central, Give Me Heaven — the inspiration for Bette Davis/Baby Jane’s I’ve Written A Letter to Daddy).
Her daughter Sarah Theodores endured all of it.

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