Thursday, June 28, 2012

Desperately Seeking Rosalind and Orlando

Note to my Readers:

I started this post last week, got interrupted, and to my horror, realized I had never finished it only when I opened up Blogger thirty minutes ago to write a new entry. It's been that kind of week.

The lesson I learned from this is one I actually learned a long time ago...and keep on learning:

If not now, when?

To be true to the real-time character of blogging, I am going to publish the incomplete post it as I found it, without slapping an ending on one week later.  Instead, I am adding an introduction, wherein I explain what I wished to write about.

It might be summed up as follows:
  • Shakespeare in the Park is one of the magical experiences of being in Manhattan. 
  • This season's As You Like It, is a sheer delight. 
  • I was especially captivated by Rosalind and Orlando, not just with the way the actors inhabited their roles, but with the characters themselves. 
As I write below, I've been fortunate to see extraordinary Shakespeare, but this performance stands above all.  Though thrilled by every aspect of the production, so smitten was I with the intense romance of the young lovers Rosalind and Orlando that I begged them to accompany me home. Hand in hand, skipping, kissing, laughing, they agreed, following me out of the Delacorte Theater, along the side streets and avenues of the Upper West Side, now visible, now hidden, playful, forever young, forever in love.

Amid the cynicism of the city, the intense quality of their attachment to one another was luminous. Their love was that of yedidei nefesh -- soul mates -- deep, passionate, loyal and sustained. Having found one another, they quite literally could not live apart. Juxtaposed against the 21st century hook-up habit, run rampant in the society of people their age, their old-fashioned fidelity produced actual sparks, which surrounded them in the evening air.

I would like to say that Rosalind and Orlando are still with me, but somewhere along the journey homeward they took off like wild creatures, barefoot, shrieking with horror, streaked with tears. Unmoored, lifted out of their Shakespearean cocoon, they could not withstand the slings and arrows of New York City -- the love faded by disappointment, the refracted sorrow of broken hearts, the anger and pain evaporating off the pavement, the memories of notes pinned on trees and stolen kisses melting in the summer heat.

All Manhattan's a stage and all the men and women therein play out their dramas, comedies and tragedies of love and loss. Rosalind and Orlando never had a chance. They simply cannot exist outside of the Shakespearean realm for their lives have not been written to contain the necessary number of acts.

Below is my original post:

All the world's a stage but the best seats to be had are front row at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park for the mind-blowing, magical performance of As You Like It.

Actually, make that any seat, for this performance is, one of the greatest, most energetic and inspired Shakespeare performance I have ever seen...and I have seen fabulous Shakespeare from Stratford-Upon-Avon, England to Stratford, CT to Shakespeare and Company in the Berkshires to the creative Shakespeare on the Hudson and Times Square's Theatre for a New Audience.

"Where are you? What time can you get into the city," demanded HOBB at 6:57 p.m. as I was pulling into SAR High School in Riverdale, with Little Babe and his guitar in the back seat. Though school was out for the summer, my youngest had agreed to perform at an Open House for incoming freshman and, despite the insane heat, was freshly showered and decked out in a suit and tie.

The gas gauge was hovering below empty and it was 96 degrees outside. Knowing that there was a possibility of snagging seats, I had stopped earlier at Whole Foods to stock up on bread, cheese, olives and a bargain bottle of Reisling. The refreshments were chilling in my home fridge, but, in truth, I was not looking forward to the sauna of Central Park.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Bungalow Babe Gets Dressed: Denim, Gold and White Eyelet

Here are my feet, freshly-polished, encased in strippy gold sandals with a four-inch, faux snakeskin wedge heel, courtesy of Aerosole.

I have no idea what they originally cost, but when I purchased them from the Aerosole store near Columbia one hour before the Ramath Orah annual fundraising dinner two Wednesdays ago  -- selected to accompany the white Tahari dress I had purchased from the Century 21 on Broadway and 66th Street just an hour earlier -- they were marked down to $39.99.

And here is the rest of me, wearing an Old Navy jean jacket I bought perhaps 15 years ago, a white eyelet dress from Kensie, purchased last year at Loehmann's and a gold tone chain I bought from a street vendor last spring.

Though I wore this outfit to work today, it was planned with my evening destination in mind: a book party in the East Village. While I felt a bit like a rocker chick at work, in the noisy darkness of Manitoba on Avenue B -- where friends had gathered to toast Rich Cohen on the publication of his new book, The Fish that Ate the Whale, my outfit found a sense of homecoming. Thus attiredI was neither noticeably Upper West Side nor reaching too hard for hipsterdom.

By the time HOBB and I arrived, there was a small but animated group of friends crammed into the tiny dive. We had a chance to talk to Rich and meet some of his friends. After the horror of seeing a prematurely-aged, wasted and once-famous NYC author whom I had first met a couple of decades ago when she was a sullen teen at the Ramaz School and I a newlywed, we decided to hightail it to Second Avenue for an excellent, no-frills dinner of fishcakes and omelets at the legendary B&H, one of the few remaining luncheonettes in the city.

Of all the places me and my outfit were most at home, it was at B&H. Perched upon a stool at the counter next to HOBB -- faux snakeskin wedge heels planted comfortably on the counter footrest, tipsy from an overly generous glass of Manitoba's house white, wearing my white eyelet summer frock, now newly innocent without its edgy denim jacket -- I watched the counterman saute the mushrooms and onions for my omelet, then mix the eggs in a bowl, then blend all the ingredients together on the skillet, following his every move with open-mouthed rapture, just like a little kid.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Bungalow Babe Gets Dressed. Episode #3

Two nights ago, I was a guest of the nearly superhuman Jodi Samuels at the annual gala of JICNY at the Prince George Ballroom on E27th Street.

Here I am, an hour after I arrived home, woozy from lots of wine, lying on my bed, too punchy to get properly undressed.

My outfit for the event featured a little black dress from Zara, which I bought in Manchester, England two summers ago, shimmery Capezio beige tights and a pair of fabulous black patent leather Mary Janes with a four inch heel which I bought for about $20 at some cheap-o store somewhere in some city not New York.

My necklace is a gift from my late mother-in-law, a costume pearl necklace with a dangling pendant.

Because I was worried that my dress might be too immodest for the JICNY gathering, I brought a sheer black shawl with tiny crystals embedded throughout. I fashioned a jacket of sorts, with a wide bow in the back.

I needn't have worried about being too skimpily attired. While some women were surely covered from collarbone to wrist and ankle, many wore dresses that would have fit my Pomeranians better...too short and too tight for comfort. One woman wore a peachy dress that just cleared her pubic bone and had to be yanked down every five seconds.

The JICNY gala was swarming with wonderful people of a range of ages, marital status and lifestyles. The food and music were fantastic. It took every ounce of mommy responsibility to drag myself out and home at a decent hour to make sure that Little Babe was prepared for today's final exam.

As you can see, when I arrived home, I simply flopped down on my bed, outfit and all, and thought about how awesome it is when an event for a good cause is also lots of fun.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

No Mad Men in Moonrise Kingdom

Last night at this hour, I was nursing the existential pit in my stomach caused by the finale of the 5th season of Man Men. The moral vacuousness of the characters created by Matthew Weiner combined and converged to form a terrifying mass akin to a black hole, capable of destroying matter, one atom at a time.

While I loved and even obsessed over the show, the utter lack of integrity of most of the drama's players served to dismay and distress me, strangely echoing current real-life dramas of my own, in the classic and not uncommon "art imitates life" manner.

Integrity is on my mind at all times. I cannot help it; I am the daughter of a clergyman.

Even more than I have obsessed over Don and Betty and Megan and Sally and Roger and Peggy and Ginsberg and Lane, I obsess over the question: How do I lead a good life? I ponder how to create something real and substantive; how to stay good and pure in my intentions. Even as I entertain superficial concerns, it is always there in the back of my mind: have I done that which I promised? Am I coming through?

These are formidable goals for someone who toils in the field of spin and promotion. Overhearing me speaking to a reporter on the phone about a client's project, HOBB commented that I get paid to lie, or at least bend the truth in a creative way.

Which is why I am delighted to have been dragged to a rare weekday evening movie, courtesy of HOBB, who insisted we make a date night out of our carpooling duties for Little Babe at the SAR High School graduation, scheduled to take place at SUNY Purchase, where he performed as part of the school band.

Though it was I who originally proposed a fun excursion in Westchester for the stretch of time between dropping our son off and picking him up, I was feeling anything but jovial  as the evening approached. Overwhelmed by work responsibilities, morose from the crash 'n burn ending of a business relationship that had become increasingly troubling for me, I found myself glumly staring into my Whole Foods dinnertime salad at 7 p.m., unconvinced that I could give myself to the escapist joy of film-going.

But HOBB insisted and soon we were one of nine people at a vastly under-attended Greenburgh cineplex, watching the exquisite Moonrise Kingdom, directed by Wes Anderson. Since he saw it at the Berlinale, Big Babe had urged, nudged and otherwise implored me to see Moonrise Kingdom, knowing I would especially love it. Entering the film's dreamscape, I was swiftly swept away. Deep, yet whimsical, serious and quirky all at once -- and stunningly beautiful to boot -- the film centers on the love affair of Sam and Suzy, two wounded, stridently independent and extraordinary prepubescent children who live in accordance with the dictates of their hearts.

Guileless, loyal and honorable, all they want is for the adult world to let them be together...and their own quirky selves.

Watching Sam and Suzy embark on their wilderness adventure, I easily traveled back in time to that age and place where doing the right thing is easy and unimpeded, especially when your best friend is by your side, where the truest goal one can have is to have adventures, where eternity resides in the present moment.

And it is only now, hours later, that I thank the god of confluence for sending Moonrise Kingdom my way tonight of all nights, to provide a counterbalance to the maddening end of Season 5 of Mad Men, to soothe my agitated soul, to inspire me by example of Wes Anderson's stubbornly individualistic artistic achievement, recalling me to my most authentic nature, reminding me of what I once knew and held so easily, close to my heart.