In our “recovery” to daily life

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Life slowly getting back to normal. Photo: JH.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020. A moment of Sun, otherwise massive clouds and of whites and grey, occasional light rain, and cold for early May. That was yesterday in New York. That’s what it felt like too.

The storms passing through with sunny openings for the blue over the Ed Koch 59th Street Bridge, taken from 83rd Street and the East River.

Someone sent me this photo taken very recently of Nello on Madison Avenue. Getting ready to get out again! That’s the story. People are ready to get out again. You can see it on the streets and avenues. You can feel it; that New York edge is in the atmosphere, along with the present sense of being on Hold. But definitely more traffic. 

Supposedly it will begin to open on in a matter of a few days according to the latest pronouncements by our mayor and our governor. That’s good because this lockdown has been very bad for a lot of New Yorkers, all ages, sizes and nationalities. 

Many feel as if their lives have changed permanently by this pandemic, in one way or another. Many feel New York has changed forever also. Perhaps, perhaps not. But, I would guess that as the city opens up, people, generally speaking, will proceed with a little more caution in their daily comings and goings. But: return to living in New York, which is a remarkable experience.

In the meantime, in our “recovery” to daily life, there is the issue of the public events that bring out so many New Yorkers everyday. Because of the “social distances,” many if not all public events have been canceled for theatrical performances and public galas. 

The American Ballet Theatre (ABT) will nevertheless present American Ballet Theatre: Together Tonight, bringing the history, artistry and optimism of American Ballet Theatre to homes around the world. The gala celebration of new works created at a social distance, historical film footage and celebrity appearances will stream for FREE on American Ballet Theatre’s YouTube channel, Tonight, May 12th at 7 p.m. ET.

The one-hour program will include the legendary Tony Bennett singing “Fly Me to the Moon,” accompanying ABT Soloists Catherine Hurlin and Aran Bell in a performance of Jessica Lang’s Let Me Sing Forevermore filmed from Central Park, as well as a moving performance of “America the Beautiful” by Oscar nominee and Tony Award®-winning singer and actress Cynthia Erivo.

The evening will feature video excerpts of ABT’s iconic Swan Lake production, never-before-seen footage of the 2020 World Premiere Of Love and Rage, and a touching tribute to essential workers choreographed by Michelle Dorrance.

Joining ABT’s roster of 90 world-class dancers to celebrate the Company’s 80th Anniversary are celebrity talents and personalities including Katie Couric, Jennifer Garner, Kelly Ripa, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Julianna Margulies, Margaret Qualley, Chita Rivera, Deborah Roberts, Liev Schreiber, Adam Ottavino, Al Roker, Nate Berkus, Jeremiah Brent, Brian Stokes Mitchell, and ABT legends Misty Copeland, Julio Bocca, Roberto Bolle, Alessandra Ferri and Carla Fracci.

As one of the nation’s leading nonprofit cultural institutions, American Ballet Theatre offers world-class events and educational programs to the public. Donations to the ABT Crisis Relief Fund will help sustain the Company’s artists through this challenging time and ensure the bright future of America’s National Ballet Company®. Viewers will be encouraged to donate online to the fund throughout the evening. Virtual experiences and one-of-a-kind items will also be available through an online auction open to all ABT fans and supporters on the OneCause platform at

Fresh and new, they know something we have yet to learn.

Gone to the Dogs. Yesterday’s Guest Diary, Give Them Shelter and They Will Rock Your World, impeccably presented by Barbara Hodes, was about rescue animals and the organizations that save and rescue them, which are more important than ever during these pandemic weeks. 

Animal rescue is a big activity in American philanthropy. It does not have the gravity that major crises and dilemma compel us to address, but it is in many ways just as important to our well-being. I have four canines, all of whom are “rescues.” The number is accidental. 

I had just lost a sweet little Shih Tzu named Madame who died at 15.  Shortly afterwards, I called a rescue organization and asked if they had any Shih Tzus that needed a home. They said they had two. Looking for only one, I couldn’t face disappointing the other, so I said okay I’ll take ‘em both.

The Dogs still for one moment — maybe there’s something for us in that thing (camera) Dave’s holding. If so, how long do we have to wait? L. to r.: Tobey Toodle, Silly Willie, and Rosemary Dog, house boss.

I went down to pick them up, and they were waiting for me on the sidewalk. A one-and-a-half-year-old female, and a one-year-old male. Tiny, especially him, but neither were Shih Tzu. At all! I took them anyway mainly because I didn’t have the heart to turn them away from their needs. That meant I now had three. The first guy Tobey, who came from another rescue organization was supposed to be a Shih Tzu also. When I went to pick him up, he turned out not to be. He became Madame’s best friend and boyfriend. (He’d been altered. One should always make sure that the animal is altered or spayed.)

The new dogs. At first living with them, I wasn’t crazy about either. The little guy whom I named Willie, was often skittish, clearly fearful of us humans. He learned very early to be very wary. And the lady, at one and a half, was (and is) a very domineering little one who frequently wants attention (and gets it). Tobey himself wasn’t crazy about the duo either. At first. He’d look at me as if to say, “do we really need them here?”

I adopt to rescue, to provide a decent shelter and care for the animal. But my motivation is also self-gratifying. Animals, as I’ve learned from dogs and cats, are very smart, and even wise. They know how to tolerate and even why. They know loyalty and affection, and always offer it. They know how you are feeling, and care. Their presence also gives you the opportunity to feel the pleasure of love with no strings attached on either side. They also intrinsically know the advantage of tolerance as well as the joy that comes with it. They can bring out the best in you and THAT is a big reward to the self.

And little Ray, now almost 16, came to ARF in East Hampton from a kill shelter in South Carolina, age 12. He came from a very good home; calm, well-trained, I have a feeling his mistress — because on walks he’s drawn to the ladies relaxing in the sun with their dogs — must have passed away, and that was that. He’s a sweet dog, healthy appetite, accommodates the trio who treat him like a foreigner when I’m not looking, and happily keeps to himself.

Dogs and cats have an enormous responsibility in life, which they handle quite differently depending on feline or canine. They accept whatever comes their way from us humanoids. They are naturally dependent on us, being domesticated to human terms. They are often at the effect of us and our emotions and tempers, and all the issues we carry around with us. Just as people who are deeply troubled take out their rages on partners, children, neighbors, so can they be with their animals. That can mean all kinds of violent, stupid and vicious experiences for them when affronted by creeps and morons. Many of us don’t think of these animals as our equals. Well, it’s better put that we are their equals, and a gift to us when we treat them with respect and love.

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