New York in Black and White
A Bob Schulenberg-illustrated manilla envelope
The Gang Who Knows Too Much at the Pink Teacup last night in Greenwich Village
Last night in New York. There was a small birthday party for the Aquarians of some note and notice amongst a small group of friends and people of high acquaintance: Adolfo, Alex Hitz, Liz Smith, and Peter Rogers. At: The Pink Teacup at 42 Grove Street in the Village. Which, if you’ve never been, and you like Suth’n-frahd-food kids, head right down or over and fill up. So cahjzz, so good and forget the cornbread. Betcha can’t eat just one. Billy Norwich, Elizabeth Peabody, the Birthday Kids, Paige Rense, Ellin Saltzman, Ann Richards, DPC, Dominick Dunne, Joe Armstrong, and Casey Ribicoff. The birthday cake was shipped in courtesy of Mr. Hitz, from Atlanta. A seven layer caramel cake. The Pink Teacup, 42 Grove. There’s your party next time.
Alex Hitz and Adolfo
Elizabeth Peabody
Liz Smith and Ann Richards
Iris Love and Paige Rense
Ann Richards, Dominick Dunne, and Casey Ribicoff
Iris Love, Paige Rense, and Liz Smith
Peter Rogers and Alex Hitz
I met Bob Schulenberg through a mutual friend in the mid-1960s here in New York. He was an illustrator with a prosperous career and I was a neophyte actor who needed some pictures for my not-so-prosperous career, (which I gave up the ghost on a couple of years later), and Schulenberg, who loved taking pictures, offered to do it for the cost of the film and developing.

Bob Schulenberg at home in Los Angeles. Photo: Bob Stone.
He arrived at our apartment (I was married then) at about four in the afternoon, carrying a camera bag and a large black sketchbook. The sketchbook, I soon learned, was always part of his gear – a combination monthly calendar and a daily (or almost), sometimes even hourly, sometimes even moment-to-moment Diary of his whereabouts and goings-on.

He was (still is) a highly sociable fellow, an exquisite and indefatigable conversationalist when he’s in the mood, and a very friendly fellow. A child of Hollywood – he was born and brought up in Los Angeles, he loved the idea of the image and so that was what he set out to do with me: put me in what his eye regarded as the proper image context. One of the results are here.

I haven’t looked at these pictures since the days following when they were taken, and all these years later, they are somewhat shocking, mainly just from the point of view of time and its effect on one and all (and namely me).

I was young and very uncertain about many things at that time in my life. Schulenberg, with his unimpeachable perspicacity, sought an image that he felt I would grow into. The result was interesting at the time, but not something I could personally relate to. First of all, I felt like a geek in disguise, awkward and hardly cool. Now I see — and it is not surprising at this point that his vision of that image had an accuracy which I have grown into or become accustomed to, the youth as well as the uncertainty having passed into history, was prescient.

Early DPC by Schulenberg
Anyone who’s known or experienced Schulenberg has experienced the miles and miles of conversation plumbing the depths and skittering over the tops of all kinds of subjects, mainly those of a social, historical, philosophical or psychological nature. And then there’s the music. About two or three the following morning, with the talkers still in full force, we got onto the subject of music.

He was explaining to me – the neophyte – how composers psyches are revealed in their compositions. This, he could demonstrate, and he did, by going to the piano where first he played Mendelsohn the way Chopin would have. And Bach the way DeBussy would have. And Scarlatti as Tchaikovsky would have felt it, or Liszt via Beethoven, and vice versa.

This is all without a note of music in front of him. And then came the Gershwins, and finally the American in Paris(Schulenberg had recently returned from a couple of years living in Paris), and then the Rhapsody in Blue, and finally the sun was coming up over Manhattan and though the lights were still on in the apartment, the sun was pouring in, and so we called it a day.

In all the years following there must have been trillions of words that have passed between us, for Schulenberg is one of the most stimulating, thought-provoking individuals I will ever know. And amusing, and intriguing, and laugh riot funny.

And in the meantime, when he wasn’t photographing or playing the piano, and while he was talking, there was the sketchbook. As we all sat and talked, he was almost always with pen in hand, working away. Not unlike the way your aunt Min might have sat knitting while the conversation blossomed around the fireside, and meanwhile she’s outfitting an entire family with her creativity energy.

I soon learned that Schulenberg had one of these sketchbooks for every month of his life since his days in the mid-50s at UCLA. Sketches of everything. A constant exercise of perfecting his hand while keeping his eye on the subject. Forty-five years later there are hundreds and hundreds of them. Some of my favorites are those he did daily during the 1960s and 70s when he lived in New York. They are his Journal, his Diary of Manhattan and its environs. Beginning with this entry, we are going to start sharing some of them with you, along with some of his words about where he was and what he heard and saw in his travels.
BOB SCHULENBERG'S DIARY OF MANHATTAN
Jim Harvey
January 12th, 1962

I'm sending you this drawing of Jim Harvey because of his curious place in art history. He was an "Action painter." There's one of his on the easel behind him. He had a show at the Graham Gallery that was politely received. He'd dress up in a kind of jump-suit cum space suit and throw the paint all around. While his "Action paintings" were not particularly epochal, his day job was as a package designer and he designed the BRILLO box that was so exploited by Warhol. Jim died early of Leukemia, I believe, a few years after this drawing.

Joe Heil with his Bonnard Tiffany
November 24th, 1961

Joseph Heil had the largest collection of Art Nouveau objects that he gave to MoMA. He was a friend of Jim Harvey's.
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Eric C. Fast, Charlotte Frieze, Dominique Browning, and Gregory Long
Wednesday night’s annual Orchid Dinner benefiting the New York Botanical Garden brought together 31 of New York’s great designers and creative forces designing centerpieces composed of orchids. All kinds of orchids.

Bob Harwick and his orchestra played and the guests danced but the centerpieces held fast with the fascinatin’ rhythm.
Orchids for sale
Pink entryway by David Beahm Design
Harry Slatkin
Howard Slatkin
Antony Todd for Baccarat
Coach
Ralph Lauren
Gotham Gardens
John R. Laubach
Ernest De la Torre
Connie Beale
Jackson Siegel Aaron
Jacqueline Coumans — Le Decor Francais
Raymond Waites
L'Olivier
Donghia
Robert Couturier
Celerie Kemble and Bronson van Wyck
Thomas M. Burak
Barbara & John Schumacher for Fleur
Judith Leiber
Q Collection
Sherrill Canet



February 4, 2005, Volume V, Number 22
Photographs by Jeff Hirsch/NYSD.com

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© 2006 David Patrick Columbia & Jeffrey Hirsch/NewYorkSocialDiary.com