Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tributes to Nick Ashford

Nick Ashford passed away last week. He and his wife Valerie Simpson founded the Sugar Bar, which is next to our home (and a stop on the Rock Around the Block tour of the Upper West Side). Here's some of the floral tributes that began to quickly appear after Nick's death was announced.

Yesterday we attended the memorial service for Nick at the Abyssinian Baptist Church up in Harlem, one of the most important religious institutions in the city. What a great New York experience. The evening featured lots of fervent preaching, a whole lot of good music, and a very moving set of eulogies, including one from Valerie, which was filled with love and laughter. It became clear that Nick was among the world's most blessed individuals - in love with his wife of more than 35 years, father to two lovely girls, possessed of a talent for writing simple, yet profound lyrics that are going to be sung for a long, long time, a true believer and a long-time member of a close church community (he and Val met at their church 47 years ago), and one of the most handsome, elegant men you will ever see.
 He and Val used the Sugar Bar to display their African art collection but, more importantly, to mentor dozens of young artists - many of whom formed a very special chorus last night. The evening ended with that chorus and the thousand or so people in the room belting out "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and "Reach Out and Touch Somebody's Hand."  Perfect.

Our son, the reporter

On a recent visit to DC, Benjy Sarlin, crack reporter for Talking Points Memo, shlepped his proud parents around a steamy Capitol.

Along the way we nearly bowled over the Attorney General, got to hear a lonely Senator Durbin address a nearly empty Senate chamber, and visited the Senate press room, where Benjy's desk was squeezed between NPR and Al Jazeera. Here's a shot of the press room:

We also got to ride on the "subway" between the Capitol and the Senate office building. Not such a big deal for New Yorkers.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Dance students invade Lincoln Center!

Every summer we are invaded by what seems like thousands of dancers of every ilk. A friend tells me he can tell what school they attend by the way they walk.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

NYU Poly Event at glorious space in Brooklyn

Thanks to my having been lucky enough to marry someone with a father who graduated from Poly, I was able to attend a fundraising event in the lobby of the old Williamsburgh Savings Bank, one of NYC's great public spaces. The original teller windows remain, as do the original art deco details. There were a number of fascinating student projects, including a robotic fish to steer schools of fish away from such dangers as oil spills and a program to help robots walk more like humans.

A Poly student specializes in creating things, such as this lamp, with materials gathered from dumpster diving.

Ever wonder who cleans the Central Park fountain?

Now you know:

Friday, June 10, 2011

Two adjacent (but very different) new shows at the Metropolitan Museum

   Although it seems to have slipped in under the radar, the collection of portraits in pastel from the 18th century is worth a visit. I had no idea that this medium was in use this early. These portraits are bright, colorful and full of life. There's even one by John Singleton Copley, who was one of the most important portraitists in early America.
   In the next gallery there's a photography show called "Night Visions," which includes works shot at night by such greats as Brassai, Bill Brandt, Diane Arbus and Weegee, a paparazzi in the 1940's whose main tools were a police radio scanner, a big old press camera, endless chutzpah and a darkroom in the trunk of his car, allowing him to develop pictures in time to sell them to the tabloids for the next day's paper. Dark is the operative word, for some of his work makes Diane Arbus' seem almost Pollyanna-ish. (See below.)
   If you come to see these on a Thursday morning, be sure to stop by at the Information Desk in the Medieval Hall, where every week I voluntarily direct people to Rembrandt,Vermeer and the rest room.

A late 18th Century French Nobleman with his head still attached.

 A  1940 New Yorker who wasn't so lucky. Weegee titled this "Human Head Cakebox Murder."

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Beauty and the Bronx

There's a new Azalea garden at the New York Botanical Gardens up in the Bronx -eleven acres of wildly colorful azaleas and rhododendrons. It was dazzling on a rainy day - it must be ridiculous on a sunny one. Oh, and after you visit, stop at one of the terrific traditional Italian restaurants on nearby Arthur Avenue. The bakeries are not shabby either.