The Last Time I Looked: (Stories, Real and Unreal) -

August 14, 2013

In the last few weeks, during what’s often known here in New York City as the summer doldrum festival, I saw four “real” festival offerings, that were unusual and excellent. They all filled me with a severe case of memories and connections. (A disease I just invented.)
I live in a big old west side apartment building. Inhabited by a busy mix of oldies, young families and the many people who service them. Kids off to school, and then later...busses stopping and disgorging same kids into their parents or nannies arms…...  extremely well dressed and slim 30 to 50 ish couples waiting for taxis in the early evenings…dogs being walked and nice doormen playing with them…the lobby filled with packages from high end stores and higher end floral emporiums waiting to be delivered to the tenants.  

I offer you a microcosm of microcosms to set the scene for my surroundings for nine and a half months of the year.
And then ……kids out of school…Hampton houses ready….. humidity starts to climb….and the DOME comes down.
Now…. picture the empty lobby, the little boy on a tricycle and Jack Nicholson in THE SHINING.

Got it?
All is still, save the occasional elevator man and a senior (but still cute) lady.
LADY: Pretty quiet huh?
ELEVATOR MAN: Oh, boy, I’ll say
LADY: (with fake laugh) I bet I’m the only one here.
ELEVATOR MAN: (hoarsely) Yup.
Out she goes to the car service waiting (if her social security check came on time).
DOORMAN (as he opens the door) Have a nice evening.
LADY: Thanks, pretty quiet, huh?
DOORMAN: (fake chuckle) Whoa!

The car races down a deserted Central Park West.
The lady and the driver repeat the same stimulating conversation.
Finally some people walking around and then more around 57th Street… we pull up to the grand old City Center, jammed with visibly excited and chattering folks…..I spot my pal…we hug…we pick up our tickets and all that scary summer stuff is gone.
We were there to see  THE CRADLE WILL ROCK, the first of three rarely performed old shows, that came from Off Broadway. THE CRADLE was written by the innovative, intensely political composer Marc Blitzstein. As always, I urge you to google him, his brilliant work and the dramatic story of its premiere.

Marc Blitzstein

It’s a unique musical story told in the style of living theater. Blitzstein, in 1935 said “Music must have a social as well as artistic base. It should broaden its scope and reach not only the select few but the masses.”

The performance was stirring and by the end, when the whole cast is singing……the title song, which is about…among other things, equality… and the necessity of unions. Yes, over seventy years later, the audience stood and many of us cried together, still looking for a more just society.
But this is about connections……so here we go. My hubs and I were pals of Marc Blitzstein. We met him through his close friends Felicia and Leonard Bernstein.  He was eccentric, brilliant and quite funny.  He was at our wedding, and he did the Hora with my Aunt Gussie  from Cleveland……..CONNECTIONS!........(sung to the tune of TRADITION!)

….What did he give us for a wedding gift?  A reel to reel tape of the original CRADLE. We were so thrilled.  Somewhere I have the card that came with it. I never throw anything out, however I have yet to organize all the “stuff” in a way that actually functions, but when I do……
Below is the program for the memorial concert for Marc.  The second act of which was a presentation of CRADLE.  It was very spare, just chairs and, oh my what a group of performers. Accompaniment was a piano played by Leonard Bernstein. I played Sister Mister. My vis a vis Junior Mister was Charles Nelson Reilly.

So, once again the then and the now of great work and memorable people, those rare and treasured connections sustain and enrich us.
I’m very lucky.

The Hell with the bourgeoisie…..let 'em eat bagels.


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My mom and I are delighted that u mentioned Aunt Gussie in your blog!
6:31pm 08/14/2013
Steven Gould
Ms Newman,

I am growing with your posts. .remembering wonderful things, people, artistic endeavor.. all the way from the "other" coast.. and from the Pacific NW mountain town made famous by the crazy TV epic.. Twin Peaks.. who rears it's incredible twins in front of our eyes each day!. You make me more alive remembering. .Thank you!!

5:36pm 08/14/2013