Posted in Uncategorized, tagged Arnold Horwitt, broadway, fire island, fundraiser, hurricane sandy, music, musical, ocean beach, plays, playwriting, rodeo bar, teenage, theater, tony roberts, youth on January 3, 2013 |
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Today I had an amusing back and forth with Fire Islanders past and present. It was about a fund raiser for what we used to call “Group” back when I was a day camper and later a counselor and writer-director of teenage musicals.
The fundraiser is to restore the Ocean Beach Youth Group (“Group”) building below, which was pummeled by Hurricane Sandy. From the first e-mail:
“Food . Beer & Wine . Auction . Guest Bartenders . Tequila Tasting
“Sun., Jan. 6, 2013, 4-7 pm @ Rodeo Bar, 375 Third Avenue, NYC
“$50 cash/check at door, 21+
“$30 for 16-20 For advance tickets or to make a donation, visit http://www.nycharities.org/Events/EventLevels.aspx?ETID=5691 OBYG is a 501(c)3 organization.
“As an added bonus Tony Roberts of Broadway fame and Youth Group Alumnus will be our guest.”
I wrote back that I was in one of Tony Roberts’s teenage plays (back when his name was still Dave) and can sing most of the lyrics to the theme song of his show Like You Like It.
I then indulged in some contradictory reminiscing with my first co-writer/director and with the daughter of playwright Arnold Horwitt, who was an adviser on the first show we wrote.
“Memories can be beautiful and yet” … (Oh, sorry, we used to burst into song a lot.)
But about memories. I know I have the most accurate memories for the shows I worked on, yet friends keep remembering differently. And who can blame Arnold Horwitt’s daughter, for example, if she thinks her father wrote all the lyrics to our “Return of the Native” when he only contributed the song that he had already written for a cruise to fight a bridge, “Everything’s Coming Up Moses”? He was a huge support, and that’s what she gets right.
Want me to sing anything for you?
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Even people who think they know all about Thoreau, Emerson, Hawthorne, Alcott and other Concord worthies often seem not to know Margaret Fuller. She was a key member of the “genius cluster” that author Susan Cheever has called the “American Bloomsbury.”
Although Fuller has passed from public awareness, in Concord it is different. Which is why a reading at the Concord Bookshop on January 29 was standing room only. Fuller’s latest biographer, John Matteson, was there to read about her “many lives” and engage in discussion about such abstruse topics as what Fuller thought of Emerson’s second wife. (Answer: Not much.)
It’s always amusing to attend a reading of a book about one of the Concord greats, as participants have such passionate feelings. Especially the Bronson Alcott fan base, who cannot bear to hear a word said against Louisa May
Alcott’s innovative but impractical father. I have been to a couple readings of books in which Louisa appears, and you can see Bronson’s partisans stiffening their spines, baring their fangs, and rising to the bait.
But who was Margaret Fuller? She was a first in many realms, including first female editor of the highly regarded 19th century literary magazine The Dial and the first overseas war correspondent. Matteson bemoaned the fact that she was probably best known, however, for the way she died, having perished in 1850 at age 40 in a shipwreck off Point o’ Woods, Fire Island.
That fact touches a nerve in me, I admit, since I spent all my childhood summers on Fire Island, and it is still a mystery why many of the ship’s passengers were saved while Margaret Fuller, her husband, and her baby drowned. Fortunately, interest in her life has been renewed, with Matteson’s book only one of several in which she plays a significant role.
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Posted in Uncategorized, tagged art, artist, charm magazine, cipe burton, cipe pineles, design, edgar levy, fire island, joel levy, lucille corcos, modern primitivism, painting, rockland county, seventeen, south mountain road on August 14, 2011 |
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I’ve been thinking of Lucille Corcos the last couple weeks. I have no idea why, but I hope eventually to reconstruct the train of thought that led to her. She was an artist I knew when I was a child. I rediscovered her art in the 1990s in a Minnesota museum. That was when I realized I love it.
Since Corcos wasn’t in Wikipedia, in spite of having works in museums, I taught myself how to write a Wikipedia contribution and am just waiting for the Wiki experts to let me post it.
As Cipe Pineles Golden and Martha Scotford write in Cipe Pineles: A Life in Design (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1999), Corcos and her artist husband, Edgar Levy, moved from New York City to the artsy South Mountain Road in Rockland County, New York, in 1941.
“Corcos was a successful painter and illustrator by this time. In the 1930s, fashion, culture and home magazines published her work and her popularity continued into the 1960s. Cipe Pineles’s close friendship with Corcos had begun when Pineles commissioned Corcos’s work for Seventeen and Charm. Her humor in personal interactions and in her art made her an engaging collaborator. Corcos’s paintings were densely packed with many small stories and commentary. The compositions had detailed multiple subjects; perspective and scale were distorted for practical and expressive purposes. This new modern primitivism was considered part of a native tradition in American art and its ‘unacademic’ nature was celebrated. Corcos’s subjects included rural landscapes and urban scenes, ranging from Christmas Eve, Rockfeller Center to The Oyster Party to Everybody Meets the Boat. In addition to doing commissioned illustration, Lucille Corcos built her career as a fine artist and was a steady participant in New York gallery shows from 1936 to 1954. During the same time, she was a part of major exhibitions in Chicago, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and other institutions in New York.”
I found a few other tidbits about her by Googling around. For example, I found an article in the July 12, 1954, issue of Life magazine that shows two Corcos paintings, one of her life in winter in Rockland County, another of activities around her Fire Island house in summer. And here is a 1950 painting of her Fire Island house. I remember the house well.
Levy was often spoken of as the great artist in the family, with his numerous Picasso-esque paintings of his wife as mostly feet and eyes, but my mother pointed out that Corcos herself had an art career. Levy is not in Wikipedia either, but I leave it to an admirer of his art to fix that lapse.
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One of the great things about going to the beach with your toddler grandson is seeing it through his eyes and remembering your own early experiences.
I remember the first time I went to Fire Island and played in the tide pools on the broad, sandy beach. My brother and I didn’t want to leave, and my parents also seemed relaxed and playful.
This morning I asked my in-law children whether they recalled any early beach memories. My daughter-in-law remembered an overcast week on Cape Cod, where she and her younger sisters liked climbing on a rocky jetty that stretched out into the water along the sand.
Erik, growing up in Sweden, didn’t see a lot of sandy beaches but has lovely summer memories of the islands of the Archipelego — climbing on the rocks and exploring. He also spent a lot of time on the water in boats and remains an avid sailor.
Here is Erik’s nephew climbing the rocks on the Swedish seacoast as Erik did at that age.
Here is my grandson with his mom yesterday. He was crazy about the ocean. And although he is not quite walking yet, he held hands and ran like mad along the sand, shrieking for joy.
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Posted in Uncategorized, tagged bayberry, eat smart in france, fire island, fort point channel, jellyfish, marianne moore, poem, poetry, ronnie hess, verse, whole cloth on June 28, 2011 |
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What makes you happy? The bluebird of happiness brushed a little air current toward me today as I crossed over a bridge at lunch. So I can report that one thing that makes me happy is seeing the jellyfish arrive in Fort Point Channel on a sunny day in late June.
I remember being ridiculously happy at the sight of Fort Point Channel jellyfish some years ago on a Boston visit that broke up a three-year landlocked Minneapolis sojourn. Minneapolis had its points, but it didn’t have jellyfish. Jellyfish naturally lead to thoughts of 25 summers on Fire Island and going with my father at dusk to shine flashlights on glowing blobs in the water along the boat dock.
Two poets share many Fire Island memories with me. Poem 1 is by my sister Nell. Poem 2 is by Ronnie Hess
, now based in landlocked Wisconsin. I offer the conclusion to Ronnie’s “Dinner at the Shish Cafe,” and you may read the whole poem here
1. May 1986
Now the island belongs to the deer
And the birds and the wild bayberry flowers
And the workmen
Wearily riding the ferry,
To work on other people’s houses,
Carrying their tools home at night.
There’s no honeysuckle
Yet rimming the streets
And the crown-vetch sliding through
Rips in the concrete
Has no pink buds
And the rain is like tears
Over the fog-filled ocean.
What brush, what watery ink
Has painted this sky
The color of bruises?
2. My husband says listening to poetry is hard work. Poems are dense.
Sometimes, I let him read mine. He sits quietly. He studies them.
He edits in blue ink in the margins, he writes words like
Good, nice image, not quite right, and meaning unclear.
Those lines of Ronnie’s remind me of the ever ironic poet Marianne Moore
, who wrote of her beloved art, “I, too, dislike it.” By which she meant, I think, that it was hard work.
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