Friday, March 13, 2015

Well, as I was saying ...

"Gentlemen, it's by the man who designed your dining chairs and the building is the same color, bronze."

Bronze Brno, and a Chinese Crested Powderpuff
taking a Chance on love

Three dapper dudes dashing along Park Avenue intent on buying Belgian loafers are not easily turned by a suggestion from the fourth member of the troupe to detour for a building but, major pout notwithstanding, we walked the extra couple of blocks to gaze at the most elegant International Style building in the city. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe didn't figure much in our conversation thereafter but the Four Seasons restaurant, Philip Johnson's lunchtime habits, the Mark Rothko commission, and a fancy for shoes with epicene little bows occupied the three-minute trek to the Waldorf-Astoria for the cocktails I'd promised to stop 'em bleating about the cold.

Three dapper dudes

To see and be seen one of the blandishments offered by the blurb writer of Peacock Alley Bar for,  looking back, that day two women, classical in inspiration if not origin, occupied my mind. The first, her back to me when I took my chair, turned to look as I sat and as she stared, I thought, as one does when a gorgon-gaze alights, quos deus vult perdere, prius dementat. There she sat, bringing to mind nothing less than a bridge-and-tunnel Fury, hair a perfect ice storm immobile as she chewed gum, sipped wine and turned her head towards her slack-bellied Perseus, planning her next pursuit. In reality, possibly, as kind a granny as one might wish but that image did not fit my sense of being found wanting, so sinking my thoughts into the sunny land of Blurberry, I sipped a "hand-crafted cocktail," and ruminated on the inventiveness of today's innovative cocktail culture. "There you go," I said, "thinking like a blurb, yourself now!"

As the three dapper dudes blathered I read that "Bar mixologist Frank Caiafa pour (sic) premium shelf, rare and house-infused spirits, classic cocktails and has invented a series of contemporary and exclusive libations" and wished for the days when mixologists were still barmen and barmaids (I know, I know ...) premium shelf was just top shelf, and we all believed what we tippled was made in a factory somewhere in New Jersey and, frankly, cared less.

Helen Mirren, the second woman of that day, is a marvel to more than me, I know. I had never seen her live as it were, and I'm loathe to say even after seeing The Audience she is one of the great actresses of our time – such a Vanity Fairish superlative, I feel – but she impressed the hell out of me that night. Who else at the age of sixty-nine could convincingly inhabit, however briefly, the role of of a twenty-something, grieving young woman and, further, have the emotional range (without the gothic histrionics expected from most actresses of the day) to portray not only a woman aging, but a monarch maturing, over a reign of sixty years during which she has to deal with twelve Prime Ministers who govern in her name. A "stellar" performance indeed and the supporting cast was equally brilliant - the actress playing Margaret Thatcher almost had me raging in my seat so much did I, and still do, despise the original. Harold Wilson, always my favourite PM was a joy to watch, and the actor playing Churchill played the great man right. It's real professionalism to do this every day, and it's real magic to make one forget the actor or actress and just see the character. Helen Mirren has both.

I hadn't meant this to be a theatre review but I found The Audience so wonderful and perfect for a cold night in Manhattan and as a celebration of old friends' new lives in the city – with or without Belgian Loafers. In case you are interested, I do not own a pair and am not ever likely to.


When I stopped blogging three months ago I received many kind comments most of which expressed a wish that I would eventually reconsider. When I announced a few days ago I wanted to begin again I immediately began to receive comments welcoming me back. I was so moved and still am.

Someday I will write about a journey with a black dog (one that so many share) and if you want to see where my awareness of that journey began look for the gypsy caravan.

19 comments:

  1. Bravo, the hiatus has increased your value. Hoping to cross paths.

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    1. Unknown, thank you. You never know.

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  2. I saw it in London last year and thoroughly enjoyed it as well. My theory is that the anti monarchist Helen Mirren has actually brought her acting skills and in fact reversely put some emotion and pathos to the queen making her ever the most popular she's ever been notwithstanding the softening of public opinion when any famous person ages. I have tickets to the new rendition in April and this time the queen will be played by Kristin Scott Thomas. So glad you're back too!

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    1. Coulda, shoulda woulda, thank you. I'd like to see the Scott-Thomas version if only for comparison and not really knowing who she is (ahem!) it would be fairer to her, I feel.

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  3. I'm sorry about your Churchillian black dog, but glad he has gone out for a walk - perhaps to look for a pair of Belgian loafers? I think I would enjoy The Audience too, and I agree, La Mirren is divine in anything I've seen. Roman Spring springs to mind.

    I love the term Blurberry, and shall use it at the first vocal opportunity, as if it was my own invention. It's certainly a term that applied last night, and for which I am rather sorry about today. I can't even look at a suitcase, let alone pack one for our departure to the Rising Sun on Monday.

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    1. columnist, thank you. Use away! I thought later of Blurbville but still think Blurberry, with its implications of Mayberry, is best. If I had a "Happy Poo" Emoji as a good-luck wish for your journey I would attach here but I do not.

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    2. columnist, many, many people live with black dogs – an inheritable condition just, as it were, coming out of the kennel and beginning finally to be talked of as just another illness and not a lack of moral fibre. Thank you, sir.

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  4. Mies' dining chair from the Tugendhat house, which you, I, and Judge Vaughn Walker like in calf, figures actively in the restaurant in the building that just lost the Tricorne from its lobby, and only the chair is impervious to this. If one wouldn't go back to the Four Seasons, one could at least go home. A fine post, and good news that Mirren is still handling that character so well.

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    1. Laurent, thank you. The Le Tricorne curtain (schmatte) is now in the New-York Historical Society however temporarily and is being or has been renovated.

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  5. So glad to see you back - and in good company!

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    1. gèsbi, thank you. How is your new project?

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  6. Ditto Gesbi, and can't wait to hear more from you.

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    1. donna baker, thank you. It's good to be back.

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  7. Glad to have you back :-) I agree with you on those ridiculous belgian loafers.....I'm sure Belgium, which has so much to offer as a country, is embarrassed to have a set of people consider it their greatest 'achievement' when they in fact have nothing to do with that place. I also have to agree with you on this fad for the 'artisanal' cocktail. I love it when I'm at an estate sale of an 'old family' - a 'fancy person' as we sometimes call it - and there is the dusty bottle of Stoli sitting in the kitchen. It was good enough for us 30 years ago but now we turn our noses up at it? I'll take a plain old vodka soda anyday over a drink that takes longer to make than to consume.

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    1. ArchitectDesign, thank you. My old prof, who celebrated her ninety-first last week, cannot understand what the fuss is all about – "What's wrong with these people? Why can't they be satisfied with good old Tanqueray?" Another friend introduced me to Wild Turkey bourbon, the old standard here in Atlanta but not much known among the hipsters who prefer the "small-batch" and "artisanal" tipples.

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  8. The Devoted Classicist, thank you. It is good to be back.

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