Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Sir John Soane's Private Apartment

I caught it online today, that is, a blog post at the NYTimes about the opening of private apartment of Sir John Soane in London for the first time in 160 years. Located on the second floor of the museum, Sir Soane's rooms can be viewed by appointment. You know you want to go. 

Photo Credit: Gareth Garner, New York Times Style Magazine 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Morning Light

The sun comes up over the buildings around 10 am and splashes on the back wall, reflecting light to an otherwise dark apartment with nary a view. No matter. Central Park is only steps away. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Wilde Weekend

I was in Philadelphia for a good 36 hours, speaking at a colloquium at the University of Pennsylvania, and then meeting a great friend for brunch the next morning—whereafter I went to the Rosenbach Museum to see an exhibition on Oscar Wilde which features documents that have been out of the pubic eye for many years. 

Of particular note is a painting of Walt Whitman which was created during the great poet's lifetime. Oscar and Walt (he wrote to him as Walt) met twice—their meeting having a lasting influence on the younger man. 

Philadelphians may not know what is tucked away on a side street near Rittenhouse Square, this being a house with an incredible collection of rare books which is accessible to the public. I saw original copies of "Alice in Wonderful," as well as Herman Melville's original draft of "The Whale," which was later retitled "Moby Dick," as well as original manuscripts by Cervantes. Extraordinary  when you think about it. 

The photo above is of a playing card which was produced after Wilde had given his lectures in Philadelphia—which were much anticipated, the first one rather dull if only because Wilde took an academic turn around the block which rather flummoxed his listeners who were expecting theatrics. Fortunately, Wilde realized his mistake and changed his presentation by unleashing the witty man we remember him to be.

Information about the museum, where two brothers lived together all their lives.

The famous photo of Wilde which was taken in New York. An original copy.

A house along the way which said "Take my Picture."

A side street which was glorious in the Spring light. And it was Spring too—the first really warm day, with everyone out in shorts and sunglasses, riding bikes and walking about town. Having walked quite a bit about town, I stopped a stones-throw away from this picture and had a very good cappuccino, before making my way back to the train station and Manhattan. A wonderful 36 hours. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Calder Man

Standing with my back to the entrance to the New York Public Library of the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center, I snap this photo on my ancient iPhone 4 before settling down to a lovely afternoon of research and writing. I'm giving a presentation at a University next week and have to get all my ducks in a row. It's a pleasure to walk past Calder, the Metropolitan Opera and soon be re-named Geffen Hall. 

Sunday, April 5, 2015


I sang, sang, sang a bunch of services during Holy Week, then ended the last Easter service with a walk home across Central Park, but not before stopping in the Met Museum and snapping a photo of Spring flowers on display in huge vases in the central hall. A beautiful afternoon followed with brunch at La Boîte en Bois, which was as comforting as it was comfortable. Please tell me that Spring is finally here: I am so ready for warmth and light! 

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Spring in Central Park

The croci were in bloom as I walked through Central Park on Good Friday. I'd never seen this kind before, beautiful and elegant in their coloration and form, which brought snapdragons to mind. The sun has changed too, which is now higher in the sky and more golden, reminding me that two precious weeks with Umbrian Serenades await me in Italy this summer! 

Friday, April 3, 2015

Table & Three Chairs

A corner of the living room from five years ago, if not more, which I found on an old external hard drive and don't remember snapping. The Biedermeier chair is now in storage awaiting restoration, while the partially seen orange throne chair now graces the offices of a friend at City Ballet. The balloon back chair is also in storage, having come apart at the seams, as old chairs often do. The lamp shade has a new base, while the table remains as does the flat screen TV which streams this & that from a laptop. The built-in bookcase and arches were constructed in the 1930's when the building was converted from a single family home into apartments. All very simple when you think about it. 

Yes, that's the entryway that you see on the right. Unusual for a New York apartment, it also provides a grand entrance. Not bad for a little apartment with high ceilings, good bones, and two boys who count themselves very lucky. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Sinatra: An American Icon

If you are in Gotham anytime between now and September, I encourage you to see a wonderful exhibition on Frank Sinatra at the Performing Arts Library at Lincoln Center, where you can find me working away. I snapped this photo on the second floor, which looks out onto the main plaza, the exhibition proper being on the first floor. Despite being a rainy day, there were quite a few people in attendance. Go! 

And as you may have noticed, I have been fiddling with the color of this blog, which has gone tawny-taupe-grey something-or-other. All I know is: I am no longer afraid of the dark. The font is now "Cardo," which is a classical typeface. 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Orange tulips on a Sunday afternoon

Orange tulips on a Sunday afternoon—Palm Sunday to be exact. I sang in church this morning, and will do a fair amount of singing in the coming week, culminating with two services on Easter Sunday morning. It's what professional singers do during this time of year, don't you know, all which will go toward an airline ticket to Rome. So baby, bring on a week of Passion. I'm ready! 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Awaiting Spring

There has been snowstorm after snowstorm here in Gotham, making for a very long Winter, the likes of which only seemed to ease up in the last few days with temperatures rising into the 50's. Needles to say, I feel like the tulips snapped awhile ago; stretching towards the light while reaching for a Spring that cannot come soon enough. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Winter 4

Sheep Meadow 

Sheep Meadow 

Lincoln Center Plaza

Lincoln Center Plaza

Truth to tell—I actually like "weather," yet feel myself ready for spring now that Gotham has had one snow storm after another—excepting, of course, the huge one that was hyped to death but did not happen. So great was the fear of lawyers (read politicians) that the subway stopped in preparation—an unheard of occurrence. I read afterwards that the wrong computer model was used. I did get some nice pictures however. 

Photo Credit: Daniel's Dinky iPhone 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

My Friend Anne

Amne Wiggins Brown 

Yes, the greens are no more, but the faux cranberry branches, gilded pine cones, and running reindeer still grace the mantel, along with framed photos of Anne Wiggins Brown.

We had become friends, Anne and I, after we talked for hours about her studies at Juilliard in the 1930's. She lived in Oslo, Norway, but visited Gotham several times after we met, each time coming to the apartment and making me sing for her. It did not surprise then, when a Fulbright application appeared in my mailbox. I knew right away who had sent it, but also knew I was not the person to facilitate the translation of her autobiography into English, much as I treasured our conversations about singing and many other things. 

Anne was one of two persons I knew who spoke with a beautifully rounded "ah" vowel (the other person was Kitty Carlisle Hart), the kind of which can only heard in B&W movies from the 1940's. She was as beautiful and cultured as the sound of her voice, possessing a refinement of manners that is rare today.