Third post from Alfie and me, NYC 2019

Thursday 2 May, I went to a morning concert with Debbie at the Lincoln Centre. – the Labeque sisters – Katie and Marielle – playing the concerto for two pianos and orchestra by Bruch.


The visual of the sisters was interesting: they were playing like a mirror image, not only the pianos facing each other but both of them were skinny with very black long wavy hair and the same black clothes. They look like strange macabre tiny dolls – very like a Dorothea Tanning painting – and when I looked up info on them I discovered that they are in their late 60s so that explains the strangeness of their ‘look’ – little children visually but in reality older women.

The New York Philharmonic then played Richard Strauss’s ‘A hero’s life’. The conductor was Semyon Bychkov who is married to one of the Labeque sisters.

On arriving back, we took the dogs for a stroll around Riverside park and then I jumped on the subway to meet Holly who had a spare ticket for me to attend the totally booked-out Basquiat exhibition at the Brant Foundation Art Study Center (a huge retrofitted former Con Edison substation on a still-gritty block of East 6th street) which was fascinating to see.
As I waited for Holly to arrive, I chatted to Caroline who was also waiting for a lovely young friend. In the short time of our chat we arranged for me to come and give a Mindfulness talk in June at her college. I find I meet so many lovely people in NYC and push at open doors in terms of my teaching.
About Basquiat: He was born to Haitian and Nuyorican parents and started his career in NYC by tagging New York buildings in the 1970s, transforming himself in the 80s into one of the the most celebrated painters of his generation.
Famously, he dated Madonna, collaborated with Andy Warhol and died, aged 27, of a heroin overdose.
Fascinatingly (because although I liked some of the paintings I found many very childish) he is now one of the most expensive artists in the world!
There are so many coffee shops in NYC that it is difficult to sift the wheat from the chaff so we asked the guys at the Brant Foundation and they directed us to the Elsewhere cafe where the coffee was, indeed, delicious, then made our way home.
The following day I hoofed it to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden before the cherry blossom disappeared for another year. I love the garden, especially the herb section.
Later on, Debbie and I went off to the Juilliard again to see an amazing Baritone singing both classical songs and Broadway numbers: Jack Kay with Bronwyn Schuman on the Piano – Debussy, Schumann and Duparc followed by Bolton, Guettel, Benson and Sondheim.
Debbie’s brother Billy and his girlfriend Judy, both from California, joined us. For the first time in my time of visiting the Juilliard, the artist did an encore. I think he is one to watch!
Coming out of the Juilliard, we went to the Cafe Luxembourg for drinks and French fries where we chatted to various people and generally enjoyed the NYC Friday night social scene.
Billy and Judy had found a mobile phone in the street and its owner came to the cafe to collect it – he was ex-military (but detests the orange fool) and was in NYC to give various talks.
On Saturday 4th May I joined a group of people for a ‘Jane’s walk’ – lots of free events all weekend – and we visited FDR’s old home on the Upper East Side. It was a fascinating visit and helped me to understand the wonderful Eleanor Roosevelt a little better.
After walking Alfie in Riverside Park, it was time for me to display my culinary skills by cooking for Debbie’s sister, Pam, and her lovely husband Justin, Billy and Judy.
On the menu was salad with my special dressing and walnuts, feta and olives with french loaf, followed by roast chicken with garlic mushrooms, carrots baked in the oven, jacket potatoes (here they don’t call them that…) sweet potatoes and tasty gravy and finished off with vanilla ice cream with mixed fruit coulis.
We had a very enjoyable evening and it went on late with us dancing to old tunes from Spotify.
The following day dawned pissing with heavy rain that continued all day, increasing the many puddles in Riverside Park and the unofficial ‘lake’.
I went with Alfie on another ‘Jane’s walk’, this time along Riverside Park from 79th Street where we saw a Memorial to the Great Lower Manhattan firemen with ‘Duty and Sacrifice’ sculptures either side.
At Number 331 lived William Randolph Heart’s girlfriend, with Duke Ellington at number 333 next to a Buddhist centre.
It was raining so much that poor Alfie was drenched so we left the walk, hot-footed it through the park and home for me to dry him off (thank heavens for the drier – not for him but to keep drying and warming his towel)!
Debbie and her musician friends were jamming in her living room when we returned.
Later on, Debbie and I joined Billy and Judy for the cocktail party that they held at Russell and Stephanie’s apartment (another of Debbie’s brothers) at 80 Central Park West with some great views.
Interestingly, when you exit the elevator you are met with a row of anonymous doors that wouldn’t be out of place in a prison block. Maybe the understatedness of it keeps the residents’ identities secret.
There were some lovely people there, not least some sweet gay guys that Judy knew through her job (40 years and counting!) as cabin crew. We ate delicious cheese, prawn and pizza and I had my usual fizzy water (7 1/2 years and counting without alcohol!) It had rained all day without stopping and they are beginning to see this wet period as a record here in NYC.
The following day I made myself sort out my urgent e mails (admin is so difficult to do here as there is always so much going on). Debbie and I had a lovely long walk in Riverside Park before going to the Advent Lutheran Church, 2504 Broadway at 93rd street.
The string quartet Brooklyn Rider performed a world premiere of Caroline Shaw’s ‘Schisma’. She is an NYC musician. This was followed by Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 15. After the intermission Kinan Azmeh, joined them. He is a Syrian clarinetist and played ‘The Fence, the Rooftop and the Distant Sea’ that he had composed. It was the New York premiere. It was a lovely concert.
We returned in time to watch ‘Bull’ (a favourite) on CBS before bed.

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