Friday, December 22, 2006

Following Yonder Star

I took off from the Long Beach airport, where the conning tower is the one used in the last scene of 'Casablanca,' and the walls inside are postered with flying lore. The decision to go to New York was a last minute one, be-sherty, a Yiddish word I have made inappropriately into an adjective or maybe it's an adverb when you add the y, meaning 'Meant to be'/, and as it's Hannukah I suppose it obtains. I was sittingin front of my computer having just received a rather rude message from one with whom I intended to spend the holidays, wondering how to get out of it, when what to my wondering eyes should appear but a pop up notice from Jet Blue that I had earned the reward of a trip. So I took it.
The weather in New York is incredibly mild, giving even more weight and credence to Al Gore, but, one must admit, making life seem easier, at least until the planet burns up. Sunday was glorious, chockablock with tourists, me and Mimi, people waiting on line for the ice to be cleaned at Wollman Ice Rink, people lined up beside the fence above, watching the people waiting in line. I guess people feel more festive when they are forced to wait for what they feel festive about.
Walked over to Madison Avenue where the sun was so bright I breakfasted in a sidewalk cafe as if I were in Paris, and as the waiter was French, my eggs came with Attitude, without my even having to cross the Atlantic.
Dropped a note by Joan Rivers' apartment-- the lastest photos of her look like the final days of Zsa Zsa Gabor. We made a record together an eon ago-- the making of it a great story I may tell another time-- called 'The Other First Family'-- it was right after the 'First Family' about the Kennedys. We were The Kruschevs, George Segal playing Nikita, I was Mrs., Buck Henry was the palace guard, and Joan played my maid though in her autobiography she said it was the reverse, and I was her maid. Apparently she knows how to get even her facts lifted.The night Edgar, her husband, committed suicide she was having liposuction: once more ahead of her time.
New York is less than Christmas-y, what with the mild temperatures and not all that many decorations, except for a huge new star in the midst of 57th and Fifth, Fiberoptic it looks like, its dazzle consistent and eerie, like the pumpkin I bought at Beyond Scents that will orange eternally as long as it is plugged in. Everything in New York is pretty plugged in, I think. There was a huge Menorah being carved in ice on the corner of Madison and 41st Street, beautiful and oddly touching, they were working so hard to perfect it as I passed. The night before I had passed the Chabad truck, the one from the temple of my little cousin Susie's Rebbi, the Lubavitch who was supposed to be the Messiah, and was going to save Susie from her cancer and be immortal himself. She is now buried with him. Anyway, a little boy in full orthodox regalia, about 12, gave me a Menorah and candles, and hesitated to shake my hand until he realized I was probably too old to sully him. It was nice to get an indirect gift from Susie.
Met with a bright literary agent who is encouraging, and then had lunch with Egi, wife of Sirio Maccioni who owns Le Cirque and suffers every time he gets an unkind review. He'd just had an 'Et tu, Brute' unkindest cut of all from the vile food writer Gael Greene, to whom, thinking her a friend, he told his hopes and fears for the new restaurant and a coming chef and she used the info to kill him in New York Magazine. I have always found her loathesome and self-serving-- she eats men and it can't be that fun a process for them. At Sandy Burton's farewell party many decades ago when she was leaving LA, a West Coast writer she was dating to whom I had, regrettably, introduced her, read aloud from the letters of Gael Greene. Huh? That was a salute to Sandy? So I have disliked him and her ever since. But when Gael wrote a book with sex in it, a critic wrote that she had now "proved herself a pig in every area." I softened that to "voracious" when I wrote my angry rebuttal to NY mag. Twill be interesting to see if they print it, this being as closed a city as Rome was Open.
I am off now to Circo, the less upmarket arm of the Maccionis, whom I do love, and on the way will pass the star. I shall see if there are any Wise Men following it, but mostly I think it's rich guys on their way to Brioni.
This may be the last communique for a bit. But know that I love you all and wish you Joyful Holidays.

Before I go, let me pay sad tribute to the Plaza, which at this season would have been the best, most festive place to go, but greed has torn and ripped up everything there, and it will never be the same or even good enough-- they're going to make it into Time Shares. Huh? The ghosts of those who picked up dates in the Oak Bar that worked out well whirl in the air, as do some who were married in the Gold and White Suite, had elegant teas in the Palm Court, and Eloise.
Even worse, the Essex House is now the Jumeirah, bought by people from Dubai, so they're in the process of tearing it apart. Gone are the touches of elegance, including incredible black and white photos from the 30s and 40s that lined the walls in the corridor I used as a short cut to get to 58th Street, sort of loving them out of the corners of my eyes, but not eating them into memory as I might have done if I knew they would take them down. So, a pome:

There were some great renditions of New York
Photographs from times
When photographs were photographs
Black and white and trenchant and severe
That hung along the walls I passed through
In the Essex House
On my way to something more
Significant, I thought
And so was only half aware
How beautiful they were:
Women in cloches
Huddled in Flapper concentration
Holding holders more intense
Than FDRs
Men with important cigars
Because I knew they were there
I took them for granted
Never stopped to examine them
And tonight they are gone.
Where was the notice?
Why was there no sign? Attention!
Look hard! Soon they will be gone!
Why did I not study more carefully?
Like friends you take for granted
Whose words you do not really hear
As you imagine they will say it
Another time
So you can't remember exactly
What they said
And then they're dead.
The universe should give us clues
Look well! the air should shout
Make sure you see
The lights that will go out.