Sunday, July 3, 2016

New York Day Two

Saturday July 2. Sometimes I love this city so much I could croak. This just might have been the most perfect day I’ve ever spent in the city of my birth.

At 9.20 a.m., I intended to get the Lexington subway uptown to the Museum of the City of New York at 103rd and 5th, but when I got to the subway, it was closed. Just closed, no explanation, no uptown service. No problem – the Madison Avenue bus got me there. I was early for the museum, so I walked in Central Park, a part I didn’t know way up north – the Conservatory, the Vanderbilt Gate – such an oasis, this huge green rectangle of sanity.
I was at the museum as it opened, to see its exhibit on the Yiddish theatre. And there is was – the bronze bust of my great-grandfather Jacob Gordin that I used to see in my grandparents’ hall on W. 79th. It’s magnificent. He’s magnificent. It's odd to see family - even family I never knew - in a museum. The exhibit is well done, extensive and beautifully put together, covering the whole era, from just before Gordin to the resonance the Yiddish theatre has had through the years. I bought the book from the exhibit, which I’m proud to say lists my book in the bibliography. But I’m sorry to say that while I was touring the exhibition, I had it completely to myself.

He was only 56 when he died. Doesn't he look about 80 already? Probably about 54 when this was taken. Ageless.

Watched a great film about the history of the city, from when it was a wild lush forest purchased from the Indians for approximately $24, to now.

I got the bus back to Ted’s, stopping on the way at Arche shoes, one of my favourite shoe stores on Madison Avenue, where there was a sale, a word that is music to my ears. And yes, there was a pair of comfortable, pretty red shoes in my vast size calling to me.

After a rest, back downtown - in my new red shoes - by subway to TKTS to see what I could get for the matinee. Times Square even more insane, and so many tickets – too many - on sale at half-price there. There are also a lot more empty stores than I’ve ever seen. Things are not right. People are struggling. People work incredibly hard and are all exhausted; everyone in this city looks exhausted. But many are going bankrupt in any case, and the rest are getting richer. Many of the rich, however, are Japanese. They seem to be the ones buying everything. And most of the tourists are French – I hear French everywhere. I think that if nothing else changes France, the fact that so many of its citizens are visiting New York will do so.

I went to see The Crucible, directed by the acclaimed Ivo van Hove, with a star-studded cast including Ben Wishaw. It has had mixed reviews, and for good reason – it’s not a very good production. Van Hove had all kinds of half-assed ideas – setting it in a school so people can scribble periodically on a blackboard, for example, brief flashes of weird stuff, several key roles miscast, and worst of all, the Theatre of Mess. Those who follow this blog know what that means – as I’ve written before, whenever directors start flinging junk around the stage, it means they're lost. And there’s a mighty pile of junk on that stage by the end. Poor stage-managers.

But the actors were all good, and nothing can kill this superb play, a clarion call for tolerance and justice against religious bigotry and hidebound prejudice. It could not be revived at a more important time. I just wish the production had worked for it and not against it. But I’m still glad I saw it.

Home again, rocketing up Madison Avenue in the fastest bus ever – now I know which street to use to get uptown. Had my fish and Pinot and a brief rest, and set out again, this time walking from 77th and 3rd down to 45th and 8th for the evening show. A long interesting walk, and again, I was early so went to sit on the steps in the middle of Times Square to watch the unbelievable jumble of humanity. Eventually, the woman sitting next to me and I began to chat and guess what? She was from Toronto. Riverdale, in fact, five minutes from where I live. Ain’t that the way.

And then I went to see one of the best musicals I’ve ever seen, an explosion of joy: The Color Purple. I would not have been much interested if I hadn’t seen an excerpt on the Tonys. It was truly glorious, spectacular, with the best voices – Jesus, the singing! The music! – and three of the best singing actresses I’ve ever seen, especially the stupendous breakout superstar, Cynthia Erivo, a tiny Brit who has everything, a fantastic actress and singer with charisma, sweetness and grace, mesmerizing. I have never been in a theatre where people rose shouting to their feet after a number, or at the end, heard such cries of approval. I, of course, wept. Oh my God what gifts this city can give you. 


  1. Thanks for being there with me, Theresa. I'm happy to say - I'M HOME!