Monday, April 7, 2008

a wunnerful town

I've just read in the "Times" that "August: Osage County," by Tracy Letts, the family drama that Lola and I saw a few nights ago, has won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Richly deserved.

Among the many fantastic things about this metropolis are the armies of marginally employable men picking up garbage, so that the jam-packed streets are clean.  And the $25 weekly transit pass for all transportation.  I haven't taken a single cab, I've just been swiping my pass on the subway and busses.  The system is a marvel of efficiency, and how I love not standing in the street, desperately waving my arms to compete with armies of New Yorkers wanting cabs, a terrifying prospect.  Once during a snowstorm here, when I was six months pregnant, a man shoved me out of the way and took the cab for himself.

Last night, I saw Harold Pinter's "The Homecoming," almost forty years after performing in it in 1969 as a 19-year old university student.  It's quintessential Pinter, full of menacing silence and infuriating pauses and mysteries; you're never sure who are these wierd people and what the hell is going on.  I wondered - how did we, a bunch of kids, manage such a difficult play? How did I play an erotically enticing siren/hooker/wife when I was a teenager who had had exactly one steady boyfriend?  I wish I could remember.

The performance was a benefit for the Actor's Guild; I was sitting in the same row as the beautiful Laura Linney and the even more beautiful Angela Lansbury, only I was way off to one side and they were at the centre, where they should be. 

I have also visited my favourite flea market at 67th and York, bought two pairs of shoes at the great thrift store across the street from my cousin's, seen the very silly but delightful new musical "Xanadu," and spent a few hours rambling in Central Park, which is on the verge of flowering but not quite there.  I am going soon to the Met for the Poussin and Courbet exhibits. But this is an unusual trip, a working trip in which I am not rushing madly about seeing everything and everyone.  I am preparing for my talk tomorrow and sheltering from the cold and the crush outside.  

Funnily, this kind of hibernation reminds me of my years staying with my beloved Uncle Edgar on West 94th, before his death in 1997.  I would arrive eager to dash out and partake of the great riches of New York, and he was just as eager to go nowhere, to stay at home, cook a gourmet meal and watch the world on his giant TV screen.  When we did go out - to the theatre or a concert or once, unforgettably, when his cancer was in remission, to the luxurious and beautiful Le Bernardin restaurant - it was a special occasion.  This relatively sedate trip has made me feel like a real New Yorker. 

As, oddly, I am. 

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