Thursday, February 2, 2017

Schulenberg's Page: New York, Part XCVII

Text and Illustrations by ©Bob Schulenberg

The summer of '67.
I was working regularly with ABC at this time and had become very friendly with George Hoover, the executive who was responsible for the newspaper promotion of the television programming. I'd had a meeting with him in the afternoon and that evening was invited by Jim Doerr to the Greek restaurant, Piraeus, My Love. Ever since the movie, "Zorba the Greek," New Yorkers had become fascinated with things related to Greece.
The next day I met at The Coffee Mill with Elliott Ames.
It was a beautiful Spring day so after, I walked through Central Park where there was a crowd of young people having a "Rock-In" modeled after the San Francisco "Love-Ins" that were appearing in the press everywhere and becoming spontaneous regular events, a kind of passive protest against the escalating Vietnam War. It would soon become San Francisco's 1967 "Summer of Love"!
The park was filled with rhythmic music — bongo drums and small tinkling temple bells that many people carried as a fashion accessory. The air was vibrating!
It was all about "Make Love, Not War"!
"The kids from the East Side. They are 16 or 17; he cannot get over how great her newly short hair is. He continually touches it. He loves her now with the sun, the music, her short, short hair. He is 16 or 17 and how fast the moment will pass."
After the "Love-In" there was a "Jump-In" as many jumped fully clothed into the Bethesda Fountain!
That evening George Hoover invited me to a party for Keith and Maria de Carlo who were visiting from Paris.
And the next day, being Friday, I was back to Fire Island for what turned out to be a peaceful sunny weekend.
Jon Peterson was a friend of my housemates and in spite of a Scandinavian sounding name said he was Persian (Iranian) and was somehow related to the Shah.
Back in the city, I met friends for dinner at Eduardo's.
And the next day I delivered artwork to George at ABC and then we went to Martell's on Third Avenue for drinks.
That night I met Dan Aubry for dinner at Piraeus, My Love.
That night, Greek celebrity composer Manos Hadjidakis was there holding court.
He had such an expressive face — he was mesmerizing!
The next day I went to the Grosvenor Gallery where there was a show of the art of Erte — I still couldn't get enough Art Deco!
Afterwards I went for drinks at Stephen Spector's apartment on Fifth Avenue.
The next day I met Calvin Hampton for lunch at the small coffee shop, Twin Brothers, on Sixth Avenue in Greenwich Village.

In the course of our conversation, we started sharing stories of our European experiences. I recounted my litany of obscure medical events and mentioned that I'd even wondered about the condition of my hair and had consulted a Parisian trichologist, a hair doctor.

Calvin told me about losing his hair and going bald in his twenties. Looking at his very full head of hair I waited for a punchline, a clarification.

"... And?" I asked.

"Oh! This is a wig!" He laughed. I was stunned. On Fire Island I'd seen him dive into a swimming pool, jump into the Atlantic and do everything that would be normally impossible while wearing a wig!

I was so surprised that he even leaned over the table, parting his hair to show me the lace netting base!

He said that he'd been so angry to have gone bald in his early twenties just as everyone was growing their hair long that he bought the best wig he could find. He said the hair had never been dyed and that he'd wanted a very slight wave and that each hair had been added in the direction of the wave. Or something along those lines.

He'd supervised every step in its making and it had cost a fortune. And it was absolutely and totally undetectable!

It was the best wig I've ever seen! Ever! I still marvel at it.
Dan and Katia gave a cocktail party.

It was a very "Uptown" party!
Marzena, pronounced Mar-Jay-Na (soft 'J'), decided she would draw me.
She wrote, "It doesn't look so much like you, but maybe next time."
Later, we all went to le Club, a fashionable and"exclusive" club that was very much in vogue at the time. I was curious about it having read so much about it.
It was actually pretty boring and very bourgeois. I couldn't help but mentally compare it to my nights Chez Castel in Paris with its crazy mix of socialites, royalty, actors, artists and just exotic people! These people were all attractive and slickly polished — but ultimately just boring. I'd been spoiled.

Saturday, I'd been invited by Janet Coates to a party at her family's beautiful home in Morristown, New Jersey so I didn't go to Fire Island.

Besides, Barbra had sung in Central Park before an enormous crowd the night before.
I had been in the park earlier Friday afternoon as everything was being set up and noticed that her dressing room door was open and amazingly, unattended. I walked in and right on her makeup table left a note saying: "BREAK A LEG — knock 'em dead!")

She certainly did — the event is still being talked about!
She told me after that she'd kept moving because she'd had a death threat from the PLO and feeling very vulnerable, thought it would be harder to hit a moving target!

The next year, 1968, there would be so much violence and two world-changing political assassinations that I don't think an open air public concert by Barbra would've been possible!

But Saturday, looking out at the Coates' gardens and enjoying their hospitality in their beautiful home, any urban thoughts evaporated.
There was nothing but pleasure!
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