In January President Nixon had been subpoenaed to hand over the secret Oval Office tapes by the Senate Watergate Committee but citing Presidential executive privilege he refused. Later that month, in his State of the Union message he bragged about new improved relations with China and Russia and the Vietnam peace accord and the lowering rates of urban and campus crime and declared that “one year of Watergate is enough!”
We were at the beginning of hearing about the kidnapping of Patricia Hearst and our everyday perceptions of life were beginning to resemble dramatically exciting television shows!
Cabaret acts were at a high point with a lot of downtown clubs offering wonderful performers. At this point Marilyn Sokol had become a good friend of mine and she was performing at The Grand Finale. I never missed one of her appearances because she was so clever and funny with so many gifts. I guess after Streisand I was always looking for another supreme female talent! Marilyn always delivered the goods!
Bob Esty was there that night. Later he would move to Los Angeles producing records and arranging music for Donna Summers and others and also work with Cher and Barbra.
I was telling so many people about Marilyn and that night invited Richard Amsel and Craig Smith to come see her.
I’d mentioned previously on NYSD that Marilyn could bring an audience to tears with a moving ballad and in the next moment have them laughing.
One of the best things I’d ever seen any performer do was Marilyn with a tear slowly streaking down her cheek singing another heartbreaking song about lost love. While leaning into a chair Marlene Dietrich-style, her elegant high heeled shoe broke through the wooden seat while continuing to sing about profound heartbreak trying unsuccessfully to remove her foot from the tangle of splintered wood!
Hilarious and Chaplin-esque genius!
Afterwards we went to dinner at a Korean restaurant.
Earlier that afternoon I had gone to a Graduation Class of Silva Mind Control.
Wingate Paine had expanded the basic course to a kind of refresher course and I was impressed to notice that in the large group was the actress Alexis Smith who had had such success starring in Stephen Sondheim’s Follies for which I’d done a painting for Time Magazine. My work was supplanted by a Ormond Gigli photo of Smith on the cover doing a high kick in the show! In all honesty I must admit that it was more memorable than my painting!
I wondered if Smith having taken Mind Control was a help in her returning to the stage.
I found the refresher course valuable as I’d get so involved with the busy stuff of every day that I wouldn’t make time for utilizing Mind Control’s easy method of meditating. There was such a trend for meditation after the Beatles’ trip to India and there were so many diverse methods. I was never a trend follower but Silva Mind Control had been a discipline without mantras and “accessories” and used what I thought of as original organic means to actually use self hypnosis.
Once in a meditative state with consciousness turned off there were techniques employed to actually achieve a high degree of psychic ability! It seems to me to be the same as remote viewing that is said to have been used by the CIA except this can be utilized for self development and improvement.
That’s why I wondered if Alexis Smith had used it for that!
Later that week I had some business to do midtown but in the evening I’d been invited to a party given by the magazine, After Dark which dealt with primarily all aspects of performance, but occasionally features on art and artists.
My good friend Joanne Beretta was at the After Dark party, too.
The magazine had written several articles about her and promoted her LP album. Besides being a wonderful singer/actress, she also designed many crafts projects for shelter magazines and companies.
She was also in a pre-feminist play called The Club, which had an all-woman cast playing men in their 19th Century men’s club talking man-stuff. The lustful descriptions of women by these “men” underlined the sexism of their conversation! As I say, this was when Feminism as a strong movement was in its infancy but it certainly made its point merely by casting women as “men”!
She had come to my weekend farm on the Delaware River and she memorialized the visit with a drawing.
On the left side of the walkway she included my Persian cat, Tybalt, with whom she fell in love.
About a week later I met Mara at Jimmy Day’s on West 4th Street in Greenwich Village where we had lunch and caught up on news and gossip.
I accidentally dropped some ink on her chin; she didn’t have a mini-beard!
The next day, a Saturday, I took Mary Milton to a new restaurant on Columbus Avenue on the West Side, Ruskay’s. It was a dark restaurant with black walls and mirrored tabletops lit by candles and from somewhere there was live music. There was a decidedly Art Deco vibe about the whole atmosphere and it had the effect of transporting you somewhere far away from gritty Columbus Avenue that hadn’t yet become gentrified.
This, rather quickly, became my favorite restaurant and since it was open 24 hours supplanted my visits to the 24 hour Brasserie in the basement of the Seagram Building.
A few years later Richard Ruskay, with several partners, opened The Empire Diner, a very obviously Art Deco-themed restaurant with a live pianist. It was also a 24-hour establishment!
Ruskay’s was expanded and in 1976 reopened with an added balcony where the musician (sometimes several) were located. It retained its clientele of West Side artists and actors arriving after shows and got better as it got later!
After Ruskay’s, we went to O’Neal’s near Lincoln Center for a nightcap before heading back home to the quieter East Side.
Ten years later Columbus Avenue and the whole Upper West Side would be totally different with new restaurants and shops — and unfortunately, much higher rents!
The high cost of progress.