February, 1969. Taking a break from work and checking my schedule from The Museum of Modern Art I saw that there was a screening of the movie, Cover Girl with Rita Hayworth. I remembered having seen it as a child and being fascinated by its depiction of the New York world of glamorous magazines and models. At the time of its original release there was a lot of promotional publicity about real models being featured in the movie. Jinx Falkenburg was the most well known model at the time and she had a cameo in the movie.
I hopped on the train and headed to MOMA to see it again after so many years!
Before the screening I went to MOMA’s Penthouse for lunch.
The Penthouse was always a peaceful haven away from the chaos of Midtown and it was also an unobtrusive place in which to draw.
It was always good to see families bringing kids to the museum.
As I watched the movie I realized that I was currently living a life that was similar to the life that was being depicted on the screen!
The movie was great. I enjoyed it even more than I had as a child! For most of my life, Ira Gershwin and Jerome Kern’s song, Long Ago and Far Away had been one of my favorite songs and here it was — making its debut! Even though it was made during the height of WWII it was portraying a glossy world, a world whose worst problem and biggest question was would Rita Hayworth make it as a model and how would things work out between her and Gene Kelly?
The next evening I went downtown for a much different experience at The Performing Garage, an old factory in Greenwich Village that had been transformed into a performance space by Richard Schechner, who had adapted Euripides’ play The Bacchae into a modern version called Dionysus in 69.
The performance space had only a few places for the audience to sit — banks of wooden scaffolding or against the walls but most people had to sit on the floor while the actors interacted with them!
Schechner was inventing a new interactive theater, something that was mirroring all of the confrontational demonstrations all around the city! And the actors were nude!
Somehow as the play progressed audience members were encouraged or inspired to remove their clothes and meld into the performance! Who was an actor and who was an audience member became irrelevant and a moot point; I guess that Schechner had proved his theory about immersive theater!
Afterwards, I went for coffee at a diner.
I then went uptown where Annie Rieger was at a small gathering in the apartment of Ed Carroll, a friend of hers. One of the guests had brought his younger brother and friend along; they were on a school break.
I was encouraged to draw their pictures and after the revolutionary chaos of Dionysus in 69 it was a relief to be with people who were not as obviously revolting!
Sunday, Paul invited me to go with him to the Bartels’ house in Montclair.
New Jersey was a restful change from all of the activity in the city and the Bartels’ large house was certainly a gem and a perfect spot for relaxation.
Paul’s mother, Jesse Bartel.
The following week it was back to my routine, meeting art directors to discuss an assignment and seeing friends. Bob Olton happened to be working at the agency I was visiting and since it was lunchtime we went for lunch together at Oscar’s at the Waldorf. Again, we discussed the future of advertising and publishing.
A few days later, I met Craig Caswell for lunch at Hamburg Heaven; he was still working at The French-American Bank downtown and was telling me all about being able to call to Paris and speak French. I wished I could call friends in Paris but I didn’t envy him working at a bank!
Later that day, Bill Rilling invited me to go for a ride outside of the city with Gary VanKirk. Bill had a beautiful white vintage 4-door Jaguar and enjoyed every chance to go on an adventure in and out of the city.
I met them at the Charles restaurant and after having lunch, we set out.
During our drive, a short one along the palisades of New Jersey, we had to admit that exciting as the city was it would certainly be nice to be able to go somewhere on the weekends.
But for the moment, the city was all we had.