Stephen Policoff Reading, Come Away

November 21st, 2014 Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »

I went to Stephen Policoff’s reading from his new book Come Away at the NYU Bookstore. What he read was wonderful. Funny, haunting, magical and dark. He put this quote at the beginning though, from Yeats, which doesn’t bode well:

Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping
than you can understand.

So true, alas. I got a picture of one of his daughters taking a picture of her father answering questions. Very sweet. Her friend asked great questions, as did his students who were also there. You can tell a lot about a person by the people who show up for their readings, and the mood in the room was warm and friendly. Stephen is very much loved. And he has a lot of female friends! LLSP.

Stephen Policoff Reading, Come Away

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Holiday Pumpkins

November 20th, 2014 Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »

First, who knew there was such a thing as Christmas-y pumpkins?

Holiday, Christmas Pumpkin, New York City

Second, time to give these poor sad pumpkins a decent burial.

Dead Pumpkins, New York City

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I Miss Tony Randall

November 19th, 2014 Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »

I was walking home, missing some people who are no longer with us, when I passed by the window pictured below and then I missed Tony Randall. We have an ongoing conversation on Echo titled, “Tony Randall—MR. NEW YORK!” It was started in 1995 and the last post was in late 2004, the year he died. From the description of the topic: “Tell us your favorite TR stories, experiences, Letterman appearances, real-life meetings, charitable works, hell, ANYTHING, about the man that defines True New York!”

Tony Randall really did epitomize a certain slice of New York, and this is my favorite story from that thread. It’s why I thought of Tony when I saw this window.


When Marla was about 14, she and a friend spent the summer studying ballet in New York and living on the Upper West Side. One day, they were on their way home from a class by Lincoln Center, and, being two giggly bunheads (Marla’s word), they carelessly stepped off the curb at Columbus and 66th, right into the path of a speeding cab!

As the cab screeched to a halt, a bystander grabbed both girls at once in his arms and pulled them out of harm’s way. “Now girls,” the man said gently, “you’ll never grow up to be Giselles if you keep walking into traffic like that!”

Marla and her friend turned to look gratefully upon the face of the angel who had saved their young lives and who else could it be but … TONY.

Isn’t that a sweet story? (Thank you for telling it, Kristen Mirenda.) I love that this is a place where people come to study how to dance the part of Giselle when they grow up, and that it’s filled with people who understand and appreciate the effort. We miss you Tony. And thank you for saving those little girls.

Ballet Window, New York City

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Song of the Lark and Mildred Pierce

November 18th, 2014 Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »

I’m reading Song of the Lark by Willa Cather. It’s not her best, but if you love Willa Cather you will most certainly enjoy this. If you are a singer you will enjoy it a little more. It’s about a young girl from a small town in Colorado who is apparently going to become a big singing star. (I’m halfway through.)

It’s not about group singing, it’s about soloists, but there’s a brief mention of choral societies, which are my thing: “Those were the days when lumbermen’s daughters and brewers’ wives contended in song; studied in Germany and then floated from Sangerfest to Sangersfest. Choral societies flourished in all the rich lake cities and river cities.”

I enjoy reading about any experience of singing though, when the writer gets it. Cather seems to get it. She also wrote a short story about an opera singer. Was she a singer? Ah, I just read that she based the character from Song of the Lark on an opera singer she was friends with. She definitely felt a connection to singing in some way.

The best descriptions of singing I’ve ever read are in James Cain’s book Mildred Pierce, which is one of my favorite books, and not because of the singing. It’s a great book period. It’s not a noir book like his others. I just read it incorrectly described as “hardboiled” on Wikipedia. It isn’t hardboiled in any way, shape or form. I would beg everyone to give this book a try. It’s pretty perfect. It captures all the struggles of life, small and large, but Cain’s genius is in communicating enormous poignancy in the absolute smallest, most mundane moments. He also writes women very well in this book.

But Cain was very much into singing (you can tell). He was the son of an opera singer, one of his wives was an opera singer, and I just read that he wanted to be a singer but he was told he was not good enough. Hmm. I wonder if there’s a recording of him singing anywhere? PS: Even if you don’t like opera you will still love the descriptions of it in this book.

A solitary flower in a city garden, taken a couple of weeks ago. The soloist hanging in there when the season is over.

Solitary Autumn Flower, New York City

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A Great Genealogical Resource in New York

November 17th, 2014 Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »

I recently visited the archives of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, and I just wanted to make some of their records more widely known. They have burial (and baptismal) records for people who were living and dying on Blackwell’s Island (and other places, but I was only looking into Blackwell’s Island).

As researchers already know, if you are trying to find information about the wealthy of NYC there’s a lot of information out there. But it can be very difficult sometimes to find the unfortunates who fell between the cracks.

I believe the Metropolitan Hospital was the new name for the Lunatic Asylum. If people were buried on Hart Island, New York’s Potter’s Field, that was noted as well. I thought this was important to make known because there are some gaps in the records for who was buried on Hart Island.

So if you are looking for someone who was destitute and you think might have ended up on Blackwell’s this is one place you might look.

Burial Records, Episcopal Diocese of New York

Episcopal Diocese of New York

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