Monday, April 4, 2016

Springtime gifts

Looking towards Bleeker Street between Bank and West 11th. 2:00 PM. Photo: JH.
Monday, April 4, 2016.  Partly sunny, sometimes rainy, not warm, not cold, early Spring weekend in New York.  When I lived in California, my Eastern friends would ask me if I didn’t miss the change in season. No, was my answer; but I was well aware of the change even out there where the temperatures don’t change as much as they do here. They were far less dramatic (most of the time) but always verdant and very often beautiful no matter the time of the year. Now, of course, all of those Eastern friends who thought they’d “miss” the change are much older and from what I can gather, many of them live elsewhere where they don’t miss the change of seasons.

After an ambiguous winter, I looked forward to Spring for the beauty and the color it would bring.  I’m one of those people who sustains optimism about the world by watching Mother Nature’s actions, convinced she has the last word for all of us no matter our race, creed, gender or religion.

My weekends usually begin on Thursdays (and end on Saturdays) after I’ve finished preparing Friday’s NYSD. If I don’t have a Diary for that Friday, then it’s TGIT (Thank God it’s Thursday). It means I have a couple of days to myself. This past weekend was one of them. I started off by reading David Remnick’s piece about Aretha in this past week’s New Yorker. I didn’t know what to expect because I’ve never read anything about Aretha’s life before. I love her. I love her work and I have since “Respect” but I knew really nothing about her personal life, or even her as an artist. When it’s a great artist, there’s almost no need to know for the Art is all.
Aretha Franklin, New York, October 14, 1968 (contact print).
It’s an enthralling profile, and the portrait is of an authentic giant in American music culture. She’s the ultimate pro when it comes to her artistry and her respect for performance. It all looks so natural and so easy but having read this piece, I see the genius and realized that what always made her so compelling is that genius. After finishing, I went on YouTube and looked at her Kennedy Center Honors performance of “(You make me feel like) A Natural Woman.” There wasn’t a dry eye in the house that night. And there wasn’t a dry eye in this house Thursday afternoon.  
Aretha performing at the Kennedy Center Honors. The very excited blonde woman sitting with the Obamas is Carole King who co-wrote "A Natural Woman."
Otherwise, I pretty much stayed close to home except for a birthday lunch at Doubles that Diana Feldman gave for her friend Charlotte Ford. The two women have been friends since they met in school together in Florence back in the early 1960s. 
Our hostess is fond decorating birthday tables with favors and candies and cookies with birthday greetings in sugar. My place card said “Lynda Bird Johnson” because when you unfolded the card, inside was “When Charlotte slept over night at the White House…” (This occurred during the Lyndon Johnson Presidency and Charlotte was a guest of Ms. Johnson.) Why was that my “place card”? Do I know? No.
Charlotte is making a wish just before she blows out the candle. I never had a piece of the cake because Wendy Carduner at Doubles served a birthday chocolate cupcake topped with a small mountain of vanilla icing. I had two. And then I left before I’d have a third.
L. to r.: Rev. Catherine Paretti, Melinda Blinken, Jeannie Downe, Charlotte Ford (Jr.), Charlotte Ford (Sr.), Suzi Mascitelli, Anna Bulgari, Diana Feldman, Serena Stewart, Janet Goldman, Bonnie Strauss, Topsy Taylor, Anne Ford, and Rosemarie Lieberman.
Mid-afternoon sky on Friday, waiting for the light at 79th Street and Second Avenue, taken through the sunroof of my taxi.
Back home I see the buds on the tree in front of my building and terrace view.
When I leave a lunch at Michael’s, the quickest and only scenic route home is through Central Park. There’s still a road open for cars which starts at Sixth Avenue and Central Park South and winds up and around to 72nd Street and Fifth Avenue.

That brief and beautiful ride cuts the travel time by more than half. And Thursday afternoon was a beautiful beginning for hope with change (Mother Nature talking to us). The first big curve in the park lane allows a view looking southeast toward the corner of 59th Street and Fifth Avenue. That large slab with the stick like tower behind it (432 Park Avenue) is the former General Motors/Trump office building where the Apple Cube sits on its plaza. Soon the view from that spot will be obscured by the trees and their green.
I am my camera. Saturday I took the dog for a walk in Carl Schurz Park, along the Promenade and back to East End Avenue. Which is not a long walk but is for the dog who usually gets to sniff around for no more than it takes for him to take care of business.  That magnolia tree is in someone’s backyard on East End in the block between 85th and 86th Street.
The first luxury boats I’ve seen this year, heading down river toward the harbor.
The beautiful bird foraging and fitting right in.
In bloom in the park already ...
On my way to dinner at Sette Mezzo, the pears in bloom on the north east corner of Third Avenue and 73rd Street.
How that’s for Mother Nature’s popcorn? This dazzler is right across the avenue from my terrace, taken yesterday afternoon about 3 p.m.
The same buds at the beginning of this page, but three days later, moving right along.
And then on Saturday night I left the house to dine at Sette Mezzo with Philip Carlson, a friend of mine since that same decade. Otherwise when I left my apartment it was either to pick up something at the market, or have a look around the nabe on this lovely weekend.

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