Monday, April 24, 2017

Counting on Mother Nature

An Englsh Mastiff in the Josie Robertson Plaza at Lincoln Center. Photo: JH.
Monday, April  24, 2017.  A partly sunny day with temperatures in the mid-60s. Warm and lovely in the Sun. Otherwise it had been a grey, cool, slightly rainy, foggy weekend in New York.

I worry about the world more these days. It’s perhaps my age although the evidence is the evidence. I tell myself to move my head away from what I am seeing.
I took this on Friday night on my way to dinner.
This past weekend’s FT had a “lunch interview” (actually it was a dinner) with Charlotte Rampling. Rampling, to me, is a mystery wrapped in beauty. I was eager to read about her because of that. She’s a very clever interviewee, giving the interviewer just enough to seem personal yet one step removed. By the end, you realize she’s told you very little about herself while being very “real,” revealing nothing.

© Seb Jarnot
She did confide that she had “deleted all discussion of current affairs from her life.” She stopped listening to the news. She doesn’t want to listen to anyone. She said that the ignorance made her much “happier.” I laughed when I read that because I sometimes stop reading it and try to get my head around something more reasonable and real that won’t upset me.

I do consciously count on Mother Nature to provide the antidote, the divine distraction, my opportunity to look at reality with a universal eye. For example, Saturday had a lot of moisture if not precipitation in New York. The kind of Saturday where it’s okay to stay indoors. There was a brief but steady rainfall midday, and then it turned to a foggy day.

I took the dogs out because I had to and they wanted to. We took a quick route in Carl Schurz Park, enough to let them do whatever I hope they’ll do. The light in the grey heavy moisture served to highlight the vibrant colors against the increasing green, defying one’s indifference. I brought my camera along because I knew I had some good news here.
On approach to the grove of flowering trees on 86th Street plaza of Carl Schurz Park.
And there it is, in all its glory, at its brief but amazing height.
The colors are so intense from a distance…
And even moreso as you get up closer.
And even closer, you see Mother Nature’s genius.
Last Thursday at noon, The New York Public Library hosted its annual “Library Lunch” in the Celeste Bartos Forum of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building of the NYPL.

This is a very popular lunch, a ladies lunch, as it were, with a large contingent of men who could get away for the two hour event with an excellent menu – and I’m not exaggerating – by Glorious Food.

The main course: Chicken Salad with Apples, grapes, and Walnuts on Butter Lettuce Leaves; Asparagus Vinaigrette with Pepper Confetti; Avocado and Hearts of Palm Salad; Wild Rice Salad with Fresh Green Peas, Lemon Zest and Lemon Vinaigrette; Sliced Yellow and Red Heirloom Tomatoes, Mozzarella and Basis with Aged Balsamic Vinegar. All of it. Very small portions; perfect preparation to relax and sit and listen.
Paul Muldoon introducing the readings.
The subject of this Luncheon was poetry.  And the “panel” of guests and the host, Paul Muldoon, are all poets: Jorie Graham, Robert Pinsky, and Kevin Young.

As much and as frequently as I read, I rarely read poetry. Often when I have been reading poetry I lose concentration, as if the road ahead has already lost my anticipation. I confide this because I want to emphasize my response to this panel of poets, all of whom would read from their own works.
Jorie Graham reading.
Robert Pinsky.
Muldoon the host I am most familiar with, having met him and his wife, the novelist Jean Hanff Korelitz. Despite my ignorance, or maybe because of it, poets, actual, real poets, are regarded  as having a “special” consciousness. They are more serious than all of us serious people. That has always been my impression, a kind of amazement. Usually, like other artists, they have a “look” of that seriousness.

Unfortunately I cannot replay for you the presence and works of those poets on Thursday afternoon at the Library. Muldoon has the power to amuse in his (most serious) work. He was the perfect “emcee” because he looks the part (award winning poet) and possesses the Irish wit. He immediately set the tone. It would be a pleasure, a quiet, calming pleasure. The kind that even Charlotte Rampling might turn to; a relief.
Kevin Yung reading from his collection.
I had never seen or heard Jorie Graham before, or Robert Pinsky and Kevin Young – who is also Director of the NYPL’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Nor had I ever read any of their works. They were all mesmerizing. They all stopped us and gave us a good look at ourselves and our world.

Many have read them in the New Yorker if nowhere else. I hadn’t. So for me it was the experience of learning something I was unaware of. Better late than never. Listening to the four poets read reminded me of when as small child my mother read to me before bedtime: everything was a wonder.
The table after the delicious lunch.
Thursday night, I went over to 83rd and Second to catch the Q train for the five minute ride over to Seventh Avenue and 55th Street. I was going over to Michael's where they were holding a book party for Susan Silver.
Susan has had a long and illustrious career as a comedy writer for television. Aside from her resume of some of the classic sitcoms of our time, Susan has also contributed a series of pieces for NYSD called The Search for Mr. Adequate.

Now Susan has written about her star-studded life in Hollywood. "Hot Pants in Hollywood: Sex, Secrets & Sitcoms" traces the life of a woman in a man's world, dealing with all the phases of a woman's life — from divorce, dating, to caring for elderly parents. Susan, who is nothing if not prolific, was one of the first female comedy writers, with such credits as the Mary Tyler Moore Show, Newhart, Maude, The Partridge Family. Like Zelig, or Ms. Zelig, the author has met and interacted with most of the icons of our time. It's been a life filled with laughs and sex and insight.
Susan with a copy of "Hot Pants in Hollywood: Sex, Secrets & Sitcoms." Click to order.

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