Thursday, January 19, 2017

Schulenberg's Page: New York, Part XCV

Text and Illustrations by ©Bob Schulenberg

Yellowfinger's was on Third Avenue directly across from Bloomingdale's, which at that time was more than a department store! It had become a Saturday destination, a rendezvous where people started their weekend.

It was convenient to go across the street for lunch or a glass of wine and gossip while passing by outside there was a constant parade of pedestrians wearing the new dynamic fashions being sold at the small, ultra-hip and trendy boutiques on 60th Street between Third and Second Avenues! It was another of those ground zero locations to see what was going on.

Remarkably, I don't remember seeing a single anti-Vietnam war demonstration other than an occasional person wearing a high fashion American flag-patterned costume and that would have been an ironic reference to what the counter culture was calling an illegal and immoral conflict.
Mailers and pamphlets attempting to explain the US involvement in the war were passed out or posted in public places and young people who were subject to being drafted and sent to fight were particularly affected. In the country at large, especially in the areas that later would be called the "fly over states," there was general support for the war; in the college and university neighborhoods, however, it was a different story — but the government wasn't listening!

"Communism, communism, communism!"
("Lions and tigers and bears! Oh my!")

The Vietnam war would continue for a decade.

The party around Yellowfinger's and Bloomingdale's would not last as long.

I notice that even on the referendum petition below I'd made a notation to alert girlfriends about the chic boutique "SPLENDIFEROUS" having dresses for only $10!
There was a heady sense of escapism in the neighborhood around Bloomingdale's!
Eve Max was a journalist I'd become friendly with in Paris.
She worked in the TIME/LIFE Paris office and I'd done some work with them. I'd been commissioned by TIME magazine to document the trial of General Argoud who was considered largely responsible for war crimes committed by the French during the recently terminated Algerian War for Independence, a war that coincidentally ended just before I'd arrived in Paris in 1962.
As I've written earlier, it was the first peacetime "Quattorze Juillet" (Bastille Day) celebration in many decades. After World War II, the French had had their French Indo-China (Vietnam) war which we'd inherited and then their Algerian War — and even though they'd lost their colonial power, the French were ready to play!

The "Ye Ye" years of fun had begun and now they were also ready to place some blame; General Argoud appeared to be the focus.

Due to political complications with then President de Gaulle, TIME magazine decided against running the piece and my chance of being the trial's court recorder disappeared.

And now Eve was living in New York and working for DIPLOMAT magazine.
She'd married Jack Tibby of TIME/LIFE and they invited me to their apartment one evening.
They also invited Bernard Lipnitzki, a photographer whose work I'd long admired.
Bernard Liptnizki's 1959 photo of the Cafe de Flore would become my own home-away-from-home during the 1960s.
Bernard Liptnizki and Jack Tibby.
The next day I met my friends, another Bernard and his wife Janet (Coates) Bossom, at the Bethesda Fountain Restaurant in Central Park, another center of popular activity where social and political activities merged.
There were chic Upper East Siders having lunch as half-clothed young hippies played guitars and bongo drums; and others, even less clothed, played in the waters of the fountain!
Later, I met with my uncle's stepson Zaro Zinn, who in my immediate family had become "Freddy Zola" — Zola being my mother's family name. It was his first visit to New York and being there for such a short time, we only had a chance to have dinner.
After dinner, I was able to take him downtown to Max's Kansas City which was becoming an almost nightly obsession for me.
It seemed to sum up everything that was currently happening — the disillusionment with the Establishment which in this group meant not only government but even polite if sometimes hypocritical bourgeois society! It really was for a fact "the inmates taking over the asylum!"
Or possibly more accurately, the infants taking over the nursery!
A few days later, I received a phone call from my friend, Gary Van Kirk.
It was a long call and I doodled a self portrait, staring into a mirror as Gary finalized the plans for the summer. I'd almost forgotten that I'd agreed to rent a weekend summer house on Fire Island at "The Pines" with him, Ron Dahlman, and some others I didn't know.

I'd read a few mentions of Fire Island architecture and celebrities but, aside from that, knew very little about it. The fact that there were no cars on the island and that there were artists and writers living in a pine forest made it sound very attractive to me! It also sounded like a healthy contrast to the world of Max's Kansas City!

What could be bad?

I was expecting Paul Bartel to come over from his apartment on the West Side and was excited to tell him about it.
He wasn't very interested but had some possible choices of independent films that might be appropriate to package with our own movie, THE SECRET CINEMA. He was desperate to promote his directing career and leave Rose-Magwood, the small commercial film company with which he was involved. He was hoping THE SECRET CINEMA would be a calling card for him to enter the world of movie directors.
He had to make phone calls!
And the next day, a Friday, we set out on the train for our first weekend.
To Babylon, Long Island.
Then Amityville, Long Island.
And Bayport — Ron Dahlman had worked all night to finish an illustration job. He was pretty tired.
And finally we arrived at Sayville from which we took a ferry to the island. Fire Island!

It was beginning to get exciting!
Contact Bob here.
Click here for NYSD Contents