Friday, September 30, 2022

Proud daughter speaking

Made the mistake of opening the box marked "Dad." Now overwhelmed, fingers dusty from newspaper clippings from the 50's on - my father's career as, as one paper put it, "a Ban the Bomb apostle." He started in Halifax, where the U.S. was actually, believe it or not, dumping nuclear waste off the coast of Nova Scotia, and subsequently spoke across the country and wrote many articles. There's one long, beautifully written and funny editorial published in May 1958, entitled "Radiation causes cancer, mutations," refuting a recent speech by the Vice-Chairman of the Defence Board of Canada, who said nuclear fallout was no danger at all. My father obliterates that argument.

But I happen to know that in May 1958, as he wrote the piece, his wife and children were still in London, England, due to return in July, and he'd been desperately looking for a house he could afford, had just found one, bought for the astronomical sum of $27,000 - my mother was sure we'd never be able to afford a vacation again - and was painting it himself. He was more importantly spearheading a group of parents anxious to found a private school for boys. They began to meet early in 1958 and had many, many meetings. The Halifax Grammar School opened that September with 50 boys in a house bought by the parents - and it flourishes still. 

This is on top of his actual work - research in his lab and teaching as an assistant professor of Physiology at Dalhousie. A year or two later, there's an article about three men being made full professors, including Dad. With the others, it cites their research. For Dad, it says, "Dr. Kaplan is very well known as a figure in Halifax public life. He is chairman of the board of directors, the Halifax Grammar School, is on the Nova Scotia Rehabilitation Council's board of directors and board of hospital management [because of his near-death bout with polio]; he also has played a major role in the Canadian Committee for Control of Radiation Hazards. He has an extensive record of publications and is well known as a lecturer and TV personality." 

He had to make a choice - activism, social concern, or his career as a scientist, and there's no doubt which side won. He would have liked both - a Nobel Prize and to save the world - but that was not possible, even for him. 

How to squash all this into a story? My mother kept every $@# clipping, including ones about my uncle Edgar's stellar bridge career and friends of theirs, weddings, concerts, prizes. I have to figure out what's of importance in one crumbling page after another. FUN. We writers know how to have fun! 

This work helps me avoid the news of the world - Ukraine, Brazil etc. Plus Truth and Reconciliation Day, vitally important for the country but a day to feel sad for what human beings do to each other. So I'm going to sit here with the dusty newspapers and forget the present for awhile. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Ian McEwan and high-rise jeans

New season, new era - though the pandemic is far from over, there's a sense of release in the air, renewal, coming together, things opening up. It's also fall already, early here, although what used to be called Indian summer will surely be coming and it'll be hot again, briefly. For now - chilly, damp, grey.

And so, to signal this new era, I am wearing, not sweatpants and a t-shirt but actual clothes and a bra. I'm a grown-up with responsibilities and have to keep my body in check. As a special treat, I'm wearing my new grey Gérard Darel jeans from New York for the first time. What so special about them is that the waist is high enough to cover the belly-button. Yes, they encase the belly, instead of stopping beneath it, thus illuminating the roll-top bulge. I do not know who invented the low-slung look we've all been required to wear for a decade - it was impossible to find pants that went higher - but now thank god it's over and we can be comfortable again.

Last night, I put on respectable clothes to go to the Fleck Dance Theatre, the guest of my old friend Eleanor Wachtel, who was interviewing Ian McEwan as part of the International Festival of Authors. What an evening - McEwan as articulate and thoughtful a storyteller as only a famous British novelist can be, and Eleanor as always the best interviewer in the world, probing gently but firmly. His new novel Lessons takes his character, based largely on his own life, from the Suez Crisis to Brexit and the pandemic. So he reflected on world events - how, when the Berlin Wall fell, it was a time when the doors of repression were flung open all over the world. And now, those doors are closing. Italy now. 

This fabulous interview will appear on Writers and Company in the future. I'll let you know when. 

Nice words: Yesterday, taped the third episode of my new podcast True to Life: talking about memoir, which will drop later this week. Friend Lynn in France listened and wrote, It’s fabulous, very clear, well structured and easy to listen to. I hope you get a large audience because it is a goldmine for people who want to write memoir.   Excellent work. Love the sound track. 

My first feedback. I know, she's my best friend, but I assure you, she's critical and would not say things she did not believe. And I've had more nice notes about the Globe essay, all of them telling me about their own or their mother's collections: china teacups, silver tea sets. Things no one wants now. 

The compilation of my blog, which is going to be printed, is almost finished. A million and a half words from 2007 to 2020. What a lunatic! And now here are a few more.

Saturday, September 24, 2022

a storm and various revolutions

Horrifying news from the Maritimes as tropical storm Fiona smashes her way through. BUT - convoys of power trucks are on their way from other provinces to help restore power. A good convoy.

I watched some of the Ken Burns' documentary on PBS, The United States and the Holocaust, which as Marsha Lederman points out in today's Globe, should be required viewing for everyone. It shows desperate people denied entry into safe havens, including Canada, and thus condemned to death. I couldn't watch some of the footage of the camps, it was unbearable. No question Burns and PBS produced this with urgency now, as the US and other countries toy with fascism.

BUT - Iran! The protests, what courage! Russia too. Sometimes I can't believe my good fortune, to be living in a country not at war, with a government that does not control my reproductive freedom or my head covering or my army status, in a city not wrecked by a storm. 

BUT - who knows what's coming?

Last night, Bill Maher talked to Michael Moore, who was one of the first people to correctly deduce that Trump was going to win, at a time when nobody on the left believed it possible. Well, yesterday, Moore was cheerful and upbeat, predicting that a coalition of voters young, female, and of colour was going to help sweep the elections in November and create change. 

Yes. Please. 

I turned the heat on yesterday - early. Sun by day, chilly at night. Spent the afternoon harvesting rhubarb, basil, and the last tomatoes, making pesto, tomato sauce, and rhubarb/orange compote. More to do. Life goes on, in this storm-less, revolution-less city. 

We in neglected, filthy, car-clogged, construction-plagued Toronto are facing a municipal election in which our milquetoast, do-nothing, status quo-loving, developer-friendly mayor will be re-elected for the FOURTH time because there's almost no opposition. We could use a revolution here, as a matter of fact.

Friday, September 23, 2022

My mother's silver spoons: essay in the Globe

(I didn't realize the essay is behind a paywall. If you'd like to read it, please email me,, and I'll email it to you.)

During the nineties and early two-thousands, I published scores of essays in the Globe and Mail's Facts and Arguments section. It was an ideal venue for short personal essays; I'd write something on Monday, edit Tuesday, send it in on Wednesday, and it'd appear two weeks later - a thrilling timeline for an actress used to applause, unused to the incredibly slow, drawn-out process of producing a book.

But then they stopped paying even a measly $100, and I stopped writing for them. Insulting to expect writers to write for free, though I kept steering my students to that page, and scores of them have appeared there. 

But recently I finished an essay and thought of the Globe. I can live without the $100, just wanted to get the piece out. So I sent it in, and here it is. Have received kind emails, one from a friend who said her mother collected thimbles which were divided amongst her sibs after her mum's death, and now she owns twelve. Twelve thimbles, just, like a long-handled stuffing spoon, what one needs. 

Here are some other notes I've received, which simply shows what kind, appreciative friends I have.

"Just beautiful Beth—kind of heart breaking. And 'mole people'! OMG that phrase will stay with me forever." 

"It was touching and funny and haunting."

"The title drew me in but when I looked down to the writer’s name and saw yours, I knew it would be good. Brava!"

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Sam's best friends

This photo is a special thrill: Sam and two of his best friends from high school were over yesterday. Their school wasn't far so the bunch of them spent a lot of time here, so much so that these two call me "Mum" although they have serviceable mothers of their own. They're now in their late thirties. Duston is a hard-working man who supports his mother, his daughter, and two teenaged godchildren he adopted when their own parents dropped out of sight. He has managed to buy several rental properties. Tristan is an artist in special effects in films, was nominated for an Emmy and was at the Emmy awards last week, recently got married. And Sam is figuring out a new way to live, now six months sober after many years of drinking, some of them with these guys who also hardly drink now. 

I told them last night, as we ate pizza and drank soda water, that compared to Anna's friends, they were easy, all I had to do was keep them fed — vast quantities of spaghetti. Anna's friends were destructive, wrecked my house and stole stuff. She has since apologized. But these boys - just food, lots and lots of food. And a roof, and a Mum to keep an eye on things.

Proud of them all, that they love each other so much. So much laughter. Many laughs talking about how hard it is to actually sleep with someone in your bed. I could not agree more. And then Duston and Tristan talked about real estate prices and capital gains taxes. My boys. Surreal. 

Monday, September 19, 2022

reflecting on the Queen

Surely it's impossible not to be even a little bit moved by the pomp and circumstance today. Whatever you think about the monarchy, Elizabeth II was an extraordinary woman. I didn't get up at dawn, as some friends did, to watch the funeral, but I did watch replays all morning. Where else on the planet could we get spectacle like that - uniforms and swords and plumes in that magnificent abbey, the glorious music, the parade of mourning coats and black hats, the ancient rituals going back many centuries, the horses, the millions of watchers outside, throwing flowers ... 

Kings and queens, crowns and castles — what century are we in? Surreal, isn't it? Bread and circuses. 

Today I celebrated my own ethnic background, Jewish New York on one hand and the doughty yeomen of Britain on the other, an apartment on West 79th for him and for her, a thatched cottage. What good fortune to have sprung from both these diverse communities. Hybrid vigour, as my father the biologist used to say.

It may be the monarchy will not survive Charles and Camilla. His mother he is not. I think as we mourn her, we are mourning who she was — steadfast, restrained and private, dignified, dutiful, outward-looking, uncomplaining, honourable. Rare in our increasingly ugly, vulnerable world. She lived her entire life in the public eye and barely ever put a foot wrong. 

She was three years younger than my mother, who grew up with her. I wrote to my kids to say, Could you arrange a funeral like that for me, please? An abbey, gorgeous choirs, lots and lots of praise. I'm sure they will. 

Today Sam is coming over with his best friend from high school. Tristan lived here on and off for months during a particularly unsettled time in his life; he was so scrawny, I called him Ratboy. But of all Sam's friends, he knew what he wanted to do. He went to art school, immediately began work in film as an animator and designer, and has been extremely successful, working recently with James Cameron in New Zealand. Last week, he was at the Emmys where he was part of a team nominated for design work. They're coming over so he can tell me about the Emmys. My Ratboy. What a thrill. 

I'm working on my talk for the library Thursday. Too much to say in an hour and a half!

Yesterday's harvest - pesto and sauce coming. I will have lots of green tomatoes. It's still very hot today, but the leaves are turning. We're here, my friends. We're still here. 

Saturday, September 17, 2022

a visit to Stratford

And now for something completely different: Stratford, in the Ontario countryside. It's especially lovely to be here after time in NYC. As I left the Festival stage Thursday night after seeing the musical Chicago, I thought, if I'd seen the show in New York, I'd be battling my way through Times Square right now. Instead, walking home through the soft sweet air, I crossed the William Hutt bridge and stood watching the red half-moon reflected in the Avon River. 

Ruth, Merrijoy, and I got the Stratford Direct bus on Thursday morning and saw The Miser that afternoon, an updated, jokey production that to me undercut Moliere's vicious satire about stinginess and greed. But as almost always here, fantastic production values and acting, rapturously received. These extraordinary women then got the bus back. Merrijoy is 94; she's always chic and her hair is the same vibrant red it has always been. Ruth is a mere 83. They're as always an inspiration. 

I went to the home of my friends Anna and Tom, who stay with me when they come to Toronto. Anna was a film producer and Tom's a painter and sculptor; they sold their house in Toronto and bought a place here, big and bright with a separate two-story studio for Tom. Best of all, it's a short walk to the theatres. That night, I saw Chicago. Again, fabulous production values, but short on depth. I wondered if the management have decided to bring people back to the festival by keeping everything light. When I go to the theatre I'm looking for nourishment and meaning, not just entertainment. But many are not. 

Next day I spent the morning wandering Stratford's downtown and saw a matinee of Richard III, a superb production of a difficult play, full of complicated details about the lines of succession to the British throne - very current - and how many people Richard has to kill in order to become king. It was in the gorgeous new Tom Patterson Theatre. The actors, most of them in the company for years, know just how to deliver those lines, that poetry, so that we hear and (mostly) understand. A treat. 

A word about the actor Colm Feore, who starred in both The Miser and Richard - he's technically flawless but there's something missing at the heart. Mark Rylance is the best actor I've ever watched on stage; as he works, we feel we're seeing his soul. With Colm, we see his craft, but there's no soul, no vulnerability. IMHO.

More good news: I got an email from a student telling me she wants to register for my U of T course but it's full. I thought, there's been a mistake. The class doesn't start for over a month, it can't be full already. But it is.

Today, going to hear Adam Gopnik speak about Molière, lunch and a walkabout with my dear friend Lani who lives in nearby Ingersoll, the bus back. Refreshed, stuffed with culture - with lots of dark chocolate from the famous Rheo Thompson chocolate store in my bag.

Click to enlarge. In the gardens outside the Festival Theatre
The famous thrust stage
The Avon River
Walking home after Chicago, not Times Square, but this: the red half moon reflected in the river - photo like a Turner canvas, no? 
the elegant new Tom Patterson Theatre
the weather was sublime
I took Anna and Tom for Mexican food last night. Tom in a contemplative moment. 

I realized why NYC is so hard for me. I'm addicted to light and sun, which can be hard to come by in a metropolis. No lack of these things here - at least, in the middle of a glorious September.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Two big yesses

Before I recap the past, just have to tell you that today has been full of gifts. It's a gorgeous day, first. At my usual Wednesday Y class I was surrounded by folks who've been taking the class for decades, just like old times. At home, I found a beloved ring, missing for months, I thought had been lost or even stolen; may never take it off. Then, an essay I'd sent to Queen's Quarterly was accepted. The editor wrote, "A story of family, connections and even futility, it articulates elements to which anyone can relate. It is also very well crafted." It won't run till fall 2023, but it has a home. 

Inspired by this, I found an essay I'd sent out in August and re-sent it to the Brevity blog. Brevity is an American online magazine for nonfiction only; the blog is for short pieces about the craft of writing. An hour (!) later, I received this: Wonderful, fresh, gripping, helpful piece with a dynamo takeaway. 

They'll let me know when it'll appear. I'd felt down, with so many essays and my essay book out for consideration and not a word back, except one No. Two acceptances in one day is certainly a boost. 

Okay, back to the past: Did I write a little too much about NYC? Will this woman ever shut up? In the end, I was glad I went, to get out of my comfort zone, though Ted's apartment is hardly an uncomfortable zone. I always find NYC overwhelming, but this time - I guess the heatwave and the lack of travel for 3 years beforehand - it was much more so. However, I loved seeing my cousin and his husband, loved Matisse, the Frick, the Park, the street fest, the French pants 2/3 off. And then there was Sam, the cabbie who drove me in from La Guardia. We chatted, and when we got to Ted's he offered to come get me Sunday to drive to the Newark airport. I was hesitant but decided to trust him, and it was wonderful! Usually, I've had to figure out complex schedules and routes and get the subway to the bus or the train. This time, there he was at the door. Since I'd spent almost no money on anything else, I spent money on Sam, the courteous Egyptian. If you're going to NYC and want a driver, I've got his number; get in touch.

OVERJOYED, as always, to be home. My friend had misunderstood my request and hadn't watered, so the garden had been four days in great heat with no water. But survived. I went right out again to the concert ending the Cabbagetown Festival, the big band I'd loved last week, playing to crowds on the street. They played God Save the King, and everyone stood up. 

Monday I went across town to spend the afternoon with Anna and the boys. We went to their favourite sushi restaurant that had had to shut down after a fire. This is on the wall. 

My friend Big Anna from Stratford arrived Sunday to stay for two nights, and on Monday night we attended a Zoom lecture together: the indefatigable, incredibly erudite Margaret McMillan talking about war. Stupendous, to sit in the living room and be inundated with her brilliant insights. 

Last night, a big dinner for one of my oldest friends, Jessica, her husband Geoffrey, and writer David McFarlane. It was a last night in Toronto for J and G, who are moving to Montreal. Cooked, cleaned, and gardened all day, but it was worth it - we had hors d'oeuvres in the pruned and swept garden, and the dinner was pretty damn good if I say so myself, with lots from the garden. 

So the ring is on my finger, two essays have found a home, there are leftovers in the fridge, and the garden thrives, for mid-September. Lucky and grateful. It's definitely fall, though. 

Was at the Parliament Street library today, glad to see this grand event being publicized. 

Be there or be square. 

Saturday, September 10, 2022

NYC itinerary and notes

(This is to accompany the photographs in previous posts.) Friday morning was MOMA, pictures below. After Matisse and coffee in the sunny sculpture garden, I walked many blocks up Broadway, window shopping and watching the crush of humanity, to get to Harry's shoe store where I've had luck finding shoes for my big feet on sale, but not this time. I love the Upper West side, where my grandparents and Uncle Edgar lived - it feels much more simpatico than the chichi East. I noticed that in midtown, none of the countless kiosks selling cigarettes, candy, and lottery tickets stocked newspapers and magazines any more; they used to be jammed with them. But further uptown, on the west side, there were some. Still not many, however. No one reads on paper any more. Also noticed many closed shops and restaurants and desolate vacant storefronts. 

From there, very hot and tired, I walked over to the park and rested under the trees - watched a group of pre-teen girls play Red Light Green Light, just like we all used to decades ago. How focussed they were, following the rules, freezing, running, freezing! Came out of the park by the Metropolitan Museum on 5th Ave. and went in the special side entrance to avoid the crowds. Such a marvellous museum, so much to see, just a matter of time and energy. 

Collapsed at Ted's, went out later to look for dinner, passed the endless array, ended up buying lobster corn chowder at Citarella's, a fabulous deli chain where I used to go with Uncle Edgar - the one on the west side. Heated up soup and raided Ted's fridge for white wine. Spent the evening flipping through his hundreds of channels, a lot of commentary on the Queen including from the BBC; discovered a channel that only plays the old Law and Order. Why go anywhere?

This morning ran smack into the 3rd Avenue street fair. Then, I confess, walked down to Bloomingdales. The last two times I've been in NYC, I went to the French designer Gerard Darel's shop there and found well-made pants on sale. So I headed through the razzledazzle to Gerard Darel, where the snooty saleslady was not interested in the shopper who was only interested in the sales. Flipping through, found very small or very big sizes. And then, the only pair in size 42 - one size bigger than last time- fitting perfectly, exactly what I needed, originally $240, reduced twice, now $80. Sold. Cash. The Canadian dollar is so low, I raided my US bank account so I wouldn't put anything on Visa and have a nasty surprise next month. Escaped the palace of glittering consumption. 

Went to get the subway down to the Morgan Library, an elegant, tranquil place where there are always interesting exhibitions. But the downtown subway platform was jammed; something had delayed the trains. It was hot, packed, and uncomfortable underground and made me nervous; there's something in the air, it's September 10. I turned around and got the uptown train instead, bought shish kebab at the street fair and went back to Ted's for lunch. Wanted to stay walking distance from home. 

Out again to walk to the Frick, temporarily where the Whitney used to be on Madison Ave. while the Frick mansion is being restored. What a treat; one of the nicest museums in the world now reduced to its essence, its greatest hits. I walked into the room where Bellini's "St. Francis" was hanging by itself - and burst into tears. It is a perfect work of art. I sat on the bench in front, completely alone, taking it in - noticed this time how the saint has kicked off his Birkenstock-like sandals under his desk; that perfect humble donkey, the grape leaf bower, the moss, twigs, branches, ivy, flowers, the olive tree. I saw the stigmata on his hands for the first time. The light. Exquisite. Perfect. 

Photography not allowed, a blessing.

And then to other favourites, particularly the gorgeous Holbein portraits, serene Thomas More and surly Thomas Cromwell, and of course, best of all, Vermeer. Bruce and I on our travels together always try to find a Vermeer or two. Here were supposed to be three, but one was out on loan. I have the "Maid and Mistress" framed at home, my own personal Vermeer, the servant tentatively handing her mistress a mysterious letter. What is happening here? "Girl interrupted at her music," looking straight at us from 1658. Again, I was alone in the room with two Vermeers, the museum nearly empty, no distracting architecture and furniture as in the mansion. It was heaven. 

A delicious cappucino in their outdoor café and then over to the packed park for a wander home. I've done far less this time than on any previous trip. One plan involved heading down to Times Square today to go to the TKTS booth and get a cheap ticket to a matinee. For the first time ever, I did not go to a play or musical. Just could not handle Times Square. Or much else. Did enough - some great art, some family, and a pair of French pants.

A few things I saw: a bike courier with two huge bags of fortune cookies hanging from his handlebars. There's a lot more biking than before, with bike lanes and Citi bikes for rent. As a Toronto bike rider, I cannot imagine the courage it would take to ride here.

The Church of the Redeemer draped in purple and black, with a sign, a service of remembrance for the Queen next week.

In a shoe-store selling orthoepedic shoes, an elderly East Side couple, a shoe-salesman's nightmare. Their voices and tone - the word is querulous. Nothing is ever right. 

An Australian couple, according to their accents, she in skintight workout wear as are many women here, FaceTiming as they strode along. "So are you in L.A. or Arizona?" he asked. 

In the park, a blonde man followed by his five blonde children, all on scooters. Behind them, a Goth couple, head to foot in black with spiked white hair, taking their daughter in an ordinary little dress to the playground. 

As I said, the level of consumption here - and I know, I should not point fingers with my pants clutched to my breast - is mind-boggling. Including the city's small consumers, its children. I thought, watching these East side kids, that if the end of the world comes, they're doomed. They have no idea how food is made, how to survive. My grandsons have been camping often with their survivalist father; they help in the garden. It's comforting to imagine they'll find a way to forage and get through, when their peers in New York are standing on ruined Park Avenue, waving their arms desperately for a cab.

It's a nasty thought. But I had it.

It's 7.15. I've had my lobster chowder, checked in, filled out my complicated ArriveCan form. Today at the street fair, a woman at a Democrats for Democracy booth assailed me, and I told her I was Canadian. "We apologize for our country," she said. I can't wait to get home. 

There is kindness here, and beauty, and magnificence. But it's also, as they said in the film My Dinner with André, a concentration camp built by the inmates. In the park, as sirens wailed and horns honked outside the gates, the harsh high cry of a hawk. Nature, somehow, survives here. For how long? 

3rd Avenue street fair

Click to enlarge. Had the day all planned - walked out the door to discover a street fair on 3rd Avenue right outside Ted's, from 72 to 86. Strolled up and down, much fun. Bought reading glasses, 3 for $25. Love these New Yorker posters.
The hospital just up the street was offering free blood pressure testing and free bike helmets. A big lineup. My blood pressure is normal to low. I didn't get a helmet, I have one.
A hot Saturday with the street closed.
Strolling on - one of the delights of NYC is the preservation of a few old shops, like this barbershop which looks more or less unchanged from when it was founded in 1927. 
The subway - a young woman reading The Screwtape Letters. Someone young reading! Hooray! 
Sidewalk stencil, a desperate message: "Human over-population crisis, 52% wildlife killed off in 40 years." Does anyone notice?
Once again, a surreal message outside the Frick museum - and the usual clump of mesmerized people. Cellphones are a necessity and a cancer. 
A bride being photographed in Central Park.
An oasis.
Human beings just have to leave their mark.
New York portrait - skinny Upper East Side lady reading the Times
Birthday party, Central Park - the fathers gather at the back, by the balloons, while the mothers organize the games and cake. Many happy children.

And then I took the 79th Street exit and wandered back to Ted's. This is the first time in memory I've come to NYC and not gone to the theatre. I have stayed in a close radius to home. Glad I came. Glad I'm leaving.

Matisse's Red Studio in NYC

Click to enlarge. Cousin Ted's museum - one of the many shelves filled with antiquities. 
MOMA - Barbara Kruger makes a statement or two.
The Matisse Red Studio exhibit, the main reason I came to NYC besides seeing Ted and Henry. He painted it in 1911, when he could at last afford to design and build his own studio. He painted this for his Russian patron who didn't want it (!) so it languished for decades before being hung in a British nightclub and then eventually making its way to New York. Most of the actual objects and art works he included were assembled here. 
Still Life with Geraniums, 1910. Paintings like this are reason Matisse is one of my favourite painters, far far more than his rival and friend Picasso. They were both brilliant and far ahead of their time, but there's joy and exuberant simplicity in Matisse's work, whereas I feel macho aggression in much of Picasso. Of course, Picasso did some beautiful work. But there is nothing macho in Matisse. 
Not sure if you can see, but the way he has outlined the chair and chest of drawers and stools reminds me of how David Milne does the same thing. Perhaps Milne saw this work or others by Matisse. 
And now for something completely different: the Great Lawn in Central Park. The place is a lifesaver, a pressure cooker valve in this insane metropolis. 
I went to the Met Museum, this time touring the Greek and Roman galleries for the first time, an incredible collection of ancient statuary, mosaics, artifacts. Fascinating history of Hadrian, a great leader who presided over a time of stability and relative peace. There are many (uncircumcised) penises on display; it seems men never wore clothes in those days. I myself would love to wear any of these delicate necklaces, made of gold, onyx, carnelian, emerald, garnet, and glass, made two thousand years ago in the first century AD. One of the most important things art galleries and museums do is to remind us how human beings, from the dawn of our time here, have always valued and created beauty.

Friday, September 9, 2022

More New York pix

From "Treasures" - some of the treasures of the NY Public Library's collections, including drafts of the work of all kinds of writers, like Rachel Carson, James Baldwin, Frances Hodgson Burnett - and Beethoven. Kindred spirits, crossing out and annotating. This is the First Folio of Shakespeare's works. Beside it, Virginia Woolf's cane that she took with her to the river Ouse and left on the bank as she waded in.
Charlotte Bronte's portable writing desk
Love this - a drawing by Saul Steinberg entitled "Bleeker and MacDougall, Feb 1523." Those are two of the most famous and populous streets in Greenwich Village. But not, obviously, in 1523.
This I really adored: the original cast of Winnie the Pooh - Pooh, Eeyore, Tigger, Kanga! Minus Piglet, who got lost. The little one is Roo.
Walked from the library to Ted's old, stately club, the Century Club on W. 43, for (wealthy) artists or people in arts related businesses, patrons and such. Paradise, out of the maelstrom - while I waited for him and Henry, sat in the reading room with newspapers, The London Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement. Could live there for a week or two. And then we had a delicious dinner. Ted's on the board. The service was great. 
Ted, at 81, is a busy lawyer with a clientele of quite a few well-known writers and producers. Henry is a thinker and intellectual. They've been together for 38 years, married for 11. Ted and I talked about family going back generations, thrilling, important - he knows so much more than I do about the New York Kaplans. And then they left to go back to their weekend home in Northport, and I headed for Grand Central to get the #6 uptown, back to their flat on 77th.
The view as I headed to Grand Central, below, with the Chrysler Building above.
On the subway platform, the New York look in the heat - earbuds, phone glued in hand, very short skirts or shorts, cowboy boots. Lots of women wearing nearly nothing - bra-like tops, tiny shorts or skintight workout gear. People of indeterminate sex, a bearded man today in a long flowing gown. What everyone has in common is moving fast. Except for this Torontonian, meandering. 

Some NYC pictures

Click to enlarge.

I walked along 47th St., the centre of the diamond trade, shop after shop stuffed with diamonds. These were the biggest - ridiculous rapper necklaces.

Phew! Near Times Square.
A comedian I know from I think the Daily Show interviewing hapless tourists in Times Square. 
Just not enough people here.
They don't build theatres like they used to. What a beauty this one is. This year's Tony winner is here.
So many people on every street, selling all manner of food from their tiny booths. Love this one - Kwik Meal, "Like us on Facebook, give us a review on Yelp."
Old New York - a Sarah Lawrence backpack with flowers and an aloe leaf. 
They just don't build libraries like they used to. The New York Public Library, with its two famous lions, is utterly magnificent inside and out. And nearby is Bryant Park, another oasis in the jungle.