Magic to the imagination

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"And great hail from heaven fell upon men" yesterday in New York. Photo: JH

Thursday, April 23, 2021. It was noticeably cooler yesterday, although not cold. Mid-50s from the day before’s mid-70s. Then last night it dropped down to the mid-30s. I don’t know why I find it so interesting; I can’t do a thing about it, and I’m lucky I’m sheltered, fed and warm.

We’ve moved into the Sign of Taurus. I’m talking astrology now, although I know next to nothing about the study. My best friend growing up studied it when he was in college (Dartmouth/outside of the curriculum). He talked about it incessantly and frankly it was so interesting I never tired of hearing. He talked a great deal about what he was seeing for the future of the world/the civilization. It was shocking and mainly incredible.

First of all he was naturally a very intelligent and practical individual, so his keen interest interested me. Not enough to study it obviously, but to listen. I heard a lot. This was in the early 60s. He foresaw major changes in our society, and about time — almost 60 years ago. All these years later, many of those “changes” my friend foresaw through his particular line of study, have become reality.

Birthday girl, Beth DeWoody.

I also learned mainly about the “signs” and how they’re defined (their characteristics — sort of). Taurus is interesting. Tomorrow, for example, is the birthday of our great friend Beth DeWoody.A birthday she shares with Shirley Temple and William Shakespeare, among others.  Then Saturday, the 24th is the birthday of Miss Barbra Streisand. I have two older sisters (eight and fourteen years older respectively). They were both born on the 13th of May. Fred Astaire and Irving Berlin were born on the 10th.  I once read somewhere that the median birth date of the human race is May 11th. So the Taurus types reflect that import. Now, you don’t have to believe a word I’m saying, and you could even say: that’s a lotta bunk. And maybe so although for me, at times, it’s a relief.

Because almost everything these days can seem unbelievable.  Now venturing forth from the incredible, yesterday I went to lunch at Michael’s restaurant on West 55th Street. I’ve written so much about the place that I won’t bother to go into it right now but … this was the first lunch I have had there since April 2020. This was a big big habit breaker (and content source). I’d been lunching there, mainly on Wednesdays for more than 20 years. Suddenly like almost everything else, it was stopped.

Anyway, yesterday they started again. When you patronize certain businesses, such as restaurants (or bars), you tend to develop a kind of business relationship where you know the individuals’ personalities and you’ve accumulated them as we do over time with everyone. The staff at Michael’s — the desk and coat-check, the manager, the bus boys, the bartenders, even the chef — become familiar to you. And their service and menu has always been great.


At the team that takes care, back on the job: Loreal and Joana.
Maskless, and the whole story.

I had lunch with Ellen Sweeney who has also been a longtime customer, even before when it was the Italian Pavilion and owned by Robert (Swifty’s) Caravaggi’s father who also owned Quo Vadis (for all you restaurant historians out there). One table over was the omnipresent Mickey Ateyeh lunching with a friend. She looked as though she’d just left that California sun to come East. 

The service of course was impeccable and the food was great. I had (unusual for me) the cheeseburger (I was celebrating!) which also came with fries. It’s the best part of the meat (don’t ask) and I couldn’t resist the only one I’ve had this year. The pandemic is over although it hasn’t left the room.

After lunch and cappuccino, and just as we were saying our goodbyes and about to walk out the door, it suddenly began to instantly pour torrential rain. It was amazing; it was so intense and heavy.  Joana, out of the coatroom, handed me an umbrella that someone had thankfully left “a year ago…” It was a big umbrella so it sheltered both me and Ellen to the corner of 55th and Fifth, to get a cab for her. She was going south and I was going north. After the torrents stopped, I left her umbrella-less to walk up the avenue looking for another cab for myself.


Looking across the avenue at the closed-down Henri Bendel and Harry Winston on the far right.

What was most striking was the many buildings and storespaces that were closed down and covered over. As if waiting for a change, or just abandonment. That’s a very dramatic reaction, I realize, but the vibe delivers it.

And then I got to the Dolce & Gabbana windows on 56th and Fifth. They were alive! And beautiful, and engagingly like art. And colorful. I could resist getting a shot of two of the windows. And a welcome sign unlike the same block on the west side of the avenue where Harry Winston and Henri Bendel were in residence for years.


Aha! But then I came upon the Dolce & Gabbana windows. They’re putting the best foot forward and they’re gorgeous and intriguing.
More Dolce & Gabbana on the southeast corner of 56th and Fifth.
Gucci speaks for itself … more gorgeous and intriguing …
And right next door: Tiffany …
And across the avenue Prada, not to be missed, and Chopard.
Gucci for the younger and stylish …
And there it is looking from the Tiffany corner across at the storm clouds passing through revealing the blue with the Park below. On the left side — between 57th and 58th Streets, is the Van Cleef and Bergdorf Goodman block. Less than a century ago that entire block was occupied by the Cornelius Vanderbilt II mansion.
The southeast corner of 57th and Fifth is Louis Vuitton.
Around the corner on the avenue, more Louis.

The sudden heavy showers had stopped and there was some blue sky over the Park nearby with the dark storm clouds moving  northeast. It gave a beautiful, calming light. When the city looks fresh and serene from the rains, it’s magic to the imagination.


They’re getting the rain north of the Park; the Plaza Hotel on the left and the Sherry Netherland on the right.
The former residence of FAO Schwarz, the world’s most famous toy store.
The Apple Cube. The Sun’s out!
Looking across at the landmark Plaza Hotel, completed in 1907 and still at the top of the list.
A dress shop next door to the entrance to the Sherry Netherland. The message in black and white is: Choceno Cleansing Sale for A Vegan Future; 90% Off Non Vegan items.
A vegan item after the storm.

Then, last night I had a dinner date with a friend I hadn’t seen in the past year, at Sette. I got there at the appointed hour and ten minutes into it I texted my friend who is usually very prompt, in case she’d forgotten. She called me three minutes later to tell me she had fallen in the street yesterday and had gone immediately to the doctor and was now home and resting. And she’d completely forgotten. Who could blame her?  We’ll restart when she’s up and at ‘em.

So, since I was there with everything before me I ordered two of the specials: Fava bean salad with pancetta, Italian bacon, Parmesan, baby spinach and parmesan. Excellent. Followed by the pasta of the day: Homemade fedelini with scallops and cherry tomatoes with garlic and oil.


My half-finished homemade fedelini with scallops and zucchini and cherry tomatoes with garlic and oil.

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