• Upcoming trips

    13-23 January, 2018 Cruise out of New York around the Caribbean on the Norwegian Gem. Note : this trip has been cancelled altogether because of the damage caused by the hurricanes to the Caribbean islands.

    October 31st - 11 November. Caribbean cruise to break up the winter. Note: The itinerary has not yet been determined owing to the havoc wreaked by the hurricanes.
  • theatre and Concerrts

    October 8 Went to BAM, for the first time since Ethel died, to hear a wonderful modern opera composed and written by Matthew Aucoin called “Crossing”. It is based on Walt Whitman’s experience and the libretto is largely taken from his poetry.

    The story is multi-themed, as modern plays tend to be; the first is a harrowing anti war depiction of the suffering wounded seen through Whitman’s eyes when he volunteered as a nurse during the American civil war; the second is Slavery and its effect upon a run-away slave who fights on the Union side; the third is treachery portrayed by a guilt-laden deserter who spies for the South. And forth, inevitably these days, is the (entirely fictional) homosexual one.

    The powerful music fits the story perfectly and the voices of the lead singers and the chorus is magnificent; Rod Gilfry, bass-baritone, sings the part of Walt Whitman, Alexander Lewis plays John Wormley, the deserter, and Davone Tines, whose baritone reminded me, distinctly, of the sound of the legendary Paul Robeson.  Both Christine and I were extremely moved by the work. We newly discovered Walt Whitman’s poetry, too.

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NY Day – An amble about town

Sometimes it is  pleasant just to wander about the streets as the fancy takes one without a specific destination in mind. It happens quite often if I have a mission, such as making reservations at the AAA  (See widget), which is completed early in the day and I have the rest of the day to spare. Such a day was this:

Outside the AAA office at Lincoln Centre, I found this art installation and it reminded me of a class woodworking exercise I did at The New School many years ago. A blackbird pecking at the ripest cherries. I have no idea whose work this is:


After taking this photograph, I wandered across the park to the Met Museum where I sat on one of the benches in the great lobby to give my ageing feet a respite:


I though I might have another quick look at the new American Wing exhibits but decided, since I was already on Fifth, to wander up to the Museum of The City of NY.  I had been to see the “Great Grid” and the “Cecil Beaton” exhibits the previous weekend but the crowds were too large for me to penetrate. The line for the “Grid” was formidable. Here is a view of the volunteer information desk with Ela and her colleague ready and anxious to help:

Ela is on the left

The “Great Grid” exhibit is not very photogenic. It is largely of maps,  architectual plans and historical notes. It is a fascinating history of how Manhattan became the uniquely laid-out city that we know and take for granted. It is a very popular exhibit–even on a weekday there is a line waiting to view it. Here is an idea of what to expect:

A glittering array of the movers and shakers of the 30’s 40’s and 50’s is on display in the “Cecil Beaton” exhibit. Designer, photographer, artist and social butterfy, Cecil Beaton attracted all the famous people of his day. It was also my day, but I saw the world from a vastly different point of view. Just the same, I found the history fascinating having lived through it, albeit, not of it:

Entrance to the exhibit

Beaton Drawing

Main exhibit

This costume, designed for  ‘Turandot’ by Beaton, was worn by Birgit Nilsson in the 1961 Metropolitan Opera production. The Costume is on loan from the Met Museum:

With a little more time to fill, I wandered from the City of NY Museum across the road to the Conservatory Gardens (not much to see at ths time of the year) then down through the Park to 96th Street and home. On the way, I came across this last resting place of the grand old trees–Many of them felled during the last couple of freak storms. The Central Park conservancy is desperate to raise the funds needed to replace the toppled giants:

And so to bed: The City that never sleeps is about to take a quick nap in  the Winter’s setting sun:

Good night children, everywhere!


2 Responses

  1. Ben,
    What a wonderful day of wandering! I read about the map exhibit in the NY Times. They had some pictures on line but none as good as yours. I did not know much about C. Beaton other than My Fair Lady. I detected a touch of bitterness and found it justified considering where you were. I always enjoy your photo essays.

  2. John and Ann. You are quite right–bitterness and a touch of envy, I suppose–here was a person of tremendous talent who could have used it to unmask some of the injustices of his day but chose, instead, to join the frivolous set and leave stark reality to the outsiders. Ben

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