Schulenberg’s Page: New York, Part CLXXXIII

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I’m going back to 1969 because I overlooked almost the whole end of the year, the end of the ’60s, one of the most creative yet turbulent decades in American history!

Paul Bartel and I were driving out to his aunt Connie’s beautiful old stone house a quarter of a mile from the Delaware River.  Connie had turned her 68-acre property into a Christmas tree farm, such a contrast to the heavy industrial area we drove through before getting to the area deserving the title of “The Garden State.”

Paul’s uncle Paul and Aunt Alma were also visiting.

Younger Paul’s father Bill had named him after his brother, Paul and that Paul named his own son Bill after his own brother Bill — a bit confusing to read but easier to understand.

The conversation turned to the war in Vietnam as just a few days earlierSeymour Hersh had revealed the truth that in 1968 American army members commanded by Lieutenant William Calley had massacred at least 100 innocent civilians in the Vietnamese village of My Lai.  The army had been forced to admit it!

Calley said that he’d been following orders at which statement the Bartels were aghast as that had been the defense of Nazis being tried during the post World War II Nuremberg trials! Paul Sr. was a lawyer and particularly concerned!

Just before the day we arrived at the bucolic countryside a quarter of a million people had staged a peaceful anti-war demonstration in Washington D. C.

Vice President Agnew said the news was biased and during a speech in Des Moines, Iowa urged supporters to write complaints to the television networks!

On a more optimistic topic, two days earlier Apollo 12 had been launched for a second moon landing!

A creative yet turbulent decade for sure!

Back in the city on Monday I went with Paul to a revival of The Front Page at the Ethel Barrymore Theater, a play dealing with journalists reminding us of Agnew and Nixon’s outrageous claims that the news of the war and war crimes committed by Americans was obvious proof of bias by the press and television networks.

The next day we learned that Joseph Kennedy, the family patriarch, had died!

It seemed that every single day had a different major news story!

A few days later I met friends for dinner at the small Hungarian restaurant around the corner from my apartment. The Kis Little was so inexpensive that Paul always referred to it as “the Cheapateria!”

In Hungarian, the word kis meant little so the restaurant’s name was really The Little Little restaurant! And they were serious — it was very small!

I was happy to see that the french film Le Grand Meaulnes was playing at the 8th Street Playhouse downtown.

One of the stars of the movie was a friend of mine from Paris, Alain Bourdon-Noury, who had dropped the Bourdon and was now famous as simply Alain Noury.

The book from which the film was made was written by Alain Fournier and was his only novel; he was killed in the first month of World War I. The translated-into-English title, the Great Meaulnes, was said to be Scott Fitzgerald’s inspiration for his title The GreatGatsby. It was the favorite novel of my close friend Lola Mouloudji, who was a manager for many movie and theater stars (Philippe Noiret, Emanuelle Riva, Colette Renard, et al.) and she’d always wished that someone would turn the novel into a film. When I met Alain he reminded me of a young Alain Delon and I introduced him to Lola with the thought that he could be a valuable client for her and she could certainly be a great help for him!

She told me that he wasn’t quite right for her group so I thought it was ironic that he ended up as one of the stars of the film when finally it had been filmed.

I had a 10:00 a.m. meeting at an ad agency and stopped for lunch with Rachel Waters at Yellowfingers on Third Avenue before taking the bus home

At 7 o’clock I went over to Paul’s apartment on the West Side where he’d invited me and some friends to meet Mike Kuchar. Kuchar and his twin brother George were becoming well known in the world of underground film making. He’d made a film called Sins of the Fleshapoids, a futuristic science fiction epic but I don’t remember if he was a member of the Underground Filmmakers’ Cooperative. Unlike Paul, he had no interest in making commercial-type Hollywood movies but thought of film making as the modern way for poets and painters to express themselves.

Susie and Elisa listening to MIke.
Bob Stone and his wife, Elisa.

On November 19th, the astronauts Alan Bean and Charles Conrad made the second manned landing on the moon in the lunar module, Intrepid.

A turbulent but creative time!

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