Spring 1975. I was stalling about starting a new commission. It was spring in Manhattan and I didn’t want to waste the day by staying inside my apartment working. I could do that later — at night when it was dark and quiet!
I took a break and went to O’Melia’s, a Second Avenue bar/restaurant near my apartment.
Meanwhile, the Vietnam War appeared to finally be winding down; Da Nang was in danger of invasion by the North Vietnamese and the South Vietnamese army was in retreat! The U.S. staged a desperate emergency airlift to rescue refugees and it was good to think and hope that it was finally ending after approximately 19 years!
Think about that!
I was thinking about that!
The next day there was yet another meeting of the newly forming Illustrator’s Guild that Richard Amsel and I had mixed feelings about. While it seemed like a good idea — protection of illustrators, etc. — we felt it was coming a little late due to Nixon’s War on the Media. He’d felt that the magazines and newspapers had been unfair to him and he even stated: “I am not a crook!“ But it turned out he was as was a lot of his government; and he’d resigned the presidency in disgrace!
After the meeting we met Baby Jane Dexter for dinner at The New Port Alba Restaurant. Baby Jane had been in HAIR and had begun singing at Reno Sweeney and some clubs downtown. Her mother, Jane Dexter, had also been an actress using that as a stage name. And since the Union doesn’t allow the multiple use of a stage name, Baby Jane simply used her childhood nickname, Baby Jane. Very memorable.
I had read that the movies Silent Running and THX1138 were playing in a double bill at the Carnegie Hall Cinema. I didn’t want to miss seeing them so I quickly went down to 57th Street to Carnegie Hall and the theater next to it.
It was the directorial debut of Douglas Trumbull, the special effects genius who was responsible for the effects work on 2001: A Space Odyssey and Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner among many others. His father, incidentally, had done special effects for The Wizard of Oz before Trumbull was born.
Trumbull had worked in Animation with Con Pederson whom I’d known in the Animation Department at UCLA and who was also at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama while I was also there! Stanley Kubrick had admired their work and invited both of them to work with him on 2001. Coincidentally, another close friend of mine from Redstone, Harry Lange, was the Art Director on 2001! All of these guys’ experience with rockets was a big asset for Kubrick. Harry, also being German, had worked with Hermann Oberth, “the father of modern rocketry” at Redstone.
Huntsville was full of Germans — including Werner von Braun!
Also on the double bill at The Carnegie Hall Cinema was THX1138, the first professional directorial feature of George Lucas and produced by Francis Coppola!
Two directorial debuts!
Another UCLA friend, Marshall Efron, was also in THX1138 so as well as being an afternoon of films it was, in a manner of speaking, a “visit” with old friends!
And then home on the bus.
And that evening I was invited to dinner at the home of Dr. Frank Colenda who’d been my doctor at Lenox Hill Hospital when I’d gotten hepatitis from my Trisoralen sun pills. I’d taken them in Puerto Rico as a protection against the Caribbean sunlight.
I don’t tan, but I did with the Trisoralen pills.
My liver, however, didn’t like it!
I came down with hepatitis a year later!
But it was worth it being tan!
Marilee was a beautiful California friend living in Manhattan and I’d taken some fantasy photos of her. We met for drinks to plan the photos at Dorrian’s Red Hand on Second Avenue just a block from my apartment.
The next evening after our usual Saturday window shopping along Madison Avenue, I had dinner with Mary Milton at el Parador Restaurant, on East 34th Street, the oldest Mexican restaurant in New York (since 1959!).
On Sunday, I went way downtown to the Lower East Side looking for fabric and of course had to stop at Katz’s Deli for local color as much as the food!
And then back to The Carnegie Hall Cinema to see Monte Carlo directed in 1930 by the great German director, Ernst Lubitsch.
Since there were not yet many books on Art Deco I tried again to draw in the dark during the movie.
The only memorable song from this movie was “Beyond the Blue Horizon” by Richard Whiting, the father of my friend Margaret Whiting. It was sung by Jeanette MacDonald as she’s in a train watching the landscape whizzing by.
Farmers and field workers join her in the chorus as the train flies by them on its way to Monte Carlo.
The sets and furnishings were fantastic and lavish and I was wondering what the audience members were thinking as they watched as it was made in 1929-30 at the beginning of the Great Depression!
Maybe it hadn’t yet affected them or maybe it was eye candy and just aspirational.
The clothing was just as dazzling!
And I left The Carnegie Hall Cinema with my head swimming with Deco-Envy. Back to 1975. The reality of — everything.
Maybe that’s how the 1930 audiences did feel!