Schulenberg’s Page, Spring of ’72

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Toward the end of March, 1972, there was a military coup in El Salvador, fighting between north and south Sudan and in the United States a daredevil named Evel Knievel, riding a motorcycle, as a stunt was flying over multiple cars!

Stop the presses!

Nixon, Agnew, the war and violent protests continued.

I met Bobbie Waddell and her daughter Karen at the Park Sheraton Hotel on Seventh Avenue.  (It’s now the Park Central Hotel, its original 1927 name after going through several different ownerships and re-namings)

Back in its heyday, it was called the Park Sheraton. Jackie Gleason, at the top of his stardom in a week one hour show of his own, occupied the entire 11th floor of the hotel.

The hotel’s past was marked by the shooting of gangster Albert Anastasia in the Hotel barbershop in 1957! It was close to Lincoln Center and we were going to the ballet.  I’d been at meetings midtown so it was a good place to meet.

There was music and it was a great way to come down from a day of meeting with admen!  Bobbie and I had aperitifs and Karen had a ginger ale!

The sugar rush incited Karen to  recite the following riddle …

“What happens when a duck flies upside down?
It will quack up!”
Ha ha … he he … ha ha

The next night I went to see a production of Peer Gynt at La MaMa on East 4th Street;  La MaMa was the theater group started by Ellen Stewart in 1961.  It is still a very active place and the only Off-Off-Broadway theater to continue operations since its inception!

Along with La MaMa there were four major Off-Off-Broadway groups during the 1960s; the Caffe Cino where Dames at Sea was developed with a very young Bernadette Peters, Al Carmines’ Judson Poets Theatre, and Theatre Genesis!  They’re all gone but La MaMa continues today!

A side note:

After the Caffe Cino, Dames at Sea moved to The Bouwerie Lane Theater and I designed the logo for it.  It went on to become an original cast album for Columbia Records and eventually a television special starring Ann-Margret and Ann Miller!

I’ve always thought that the television special was ill advised as the charm of the show  — aside from Bernadette — was the tiny cast (6) and even tinier production values attempting to emulate the grandiose, overblown productions of Busby Berkeley!

With Ann-Margret and Ann Miller, herself the spectacular veteran of the heyday of the MGM Technicolor musicals, the initial conceit and concept of the show was rather contradictory and I don’t remember what the critical opinions were.

The stage version has gone on over the years. My niece’s Los Angeles school even did it as a senior play!

La MaMa was the first home of Sam Shepard’s work as well as Lanford Wilson and Jean Claude van Itallie.  As a matter of fact, Tom O’Horgan first developed Hair at La MaMa before it went to the Public Theater and then to Broadway!  Today I don’t remember much of that production of Peer Gynt — there were other more memorable productions there.  But then, Ellen Stewart and Tom O’Horgan were producing so many!

(oops — a little mishap with my pen!)

The audience and the performers at La MaMa were literally on top of each other!  Many theaters way downtown were doing this  merging the actors and the audience.

These are some of the friends I went with and after the show we went to Phebe’s on Third Avenue. Someone I’d met earlier, Mary Milton, became more than a friend.

I immediately realized that Mary was someone with a rare intelligence and an elegantly understated charisma!  It’s difficult to describe but there was an integrity to that intelligence. Whatever was her opinion she had thought about it and could eloquently express it.

She would be a part of my life for a very long time.

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