Tuesday, March 25, 2014

4th Universalist Society's VDay

                                        "To be an artist is to believe in life."   Henry Moore

Gearing up for yet another VDay event, actually a weekend of events, kept me very busy for a couple of weeks.  It started off with a unique Concert-Drama “Talking to Schubert” at 4th Universalist Society's Gothic Church on Central Park West, a perfect setting for such a piece.  Husband-wife team Emir Gamsizoglu and Ege Maltepe  put together a really interesting multi-media play-classical music concert as the kick-off fundraiser for our VDay celebrations.
Happy Birthday Mom!
Amongst all the preparations were my rituals: music nights and birthday celebrations at Sojourn, writing class up in the Bronx, Philosophy class followed by lunch at Gracie Mews Diner with friends, as well as a trip “home” overnight for Mom’s birthday and some appointments.  It is truly bittersweet driving around my hometown now with no home to go to.  It was nice to see Mom, and have a birthday dinner in Cambridge with she and Katie, and spend time with my special Friend.  And of course, catch up with Auntie at her hangout, Brueggers in East Milton Square!
Walking to the train
I even managed to get to one of my favorite places, the NYPL, for a lecture moderated by one of my new favorite people who started the International Women Artists’ Salon.  “The Ins, Outs, Pitfalls, and Rewards of Self Publishing” was part of March’s National Small Press Month; an informative and entertaining discussion with a true cast of characters.
4th U from the Internet
Finally, the weekend of 4th U’s Vday arrived.  I am officially a holy lady again with all the time I spent at Church this past weekend!  I have learned to love that old building, its nooks and crannies, the myriad rooms, alcoves, and hiding places.  A very special group of Ladies have been presenting Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues” for many years.  100% of the proceeds go to agencies that work toward ending violence toward women, with 10% going to VDay.org.  This year’s beneficiaries were: Safe Horizons, Restore, and Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees.  

My official duty was Volunteer Coordinator.  I’m getting good at it.  And, if I may share, I have had a number of People tell me they’d work anywhere with me in my various volunteer assignments since arriving in NYC.  Now if I could transfer this into a job!?  I digress.  I also felt like a Girl Scout Leader again as I made 100 bracelets to sell in our VCafe/Shop.
We had beautiful art displayed throughout the Sacristy.  A Silent Auction very successfully raised quite a bit of funds for our cause.  All this as the backdrop of the main event, four presentations of  Eve Ensler plays, “The Vagina Monologues” and “The Good Body.”  It was beautiful, moving, and wonderful.
I constantly thank my lucky stars for the wonderful People I am privileged to meet, work, and play with in my new hometown, NYC. 
Cast of "The Vagina Monolgues"

Cast and Directors of "The Good Body"

Friday, March 14, 2014

Week 23 More Theatre

 "Either write something worth reading, or do something worth writing."  Ben Franklin

World's largest food distibution center
My energy and willingness to do almost anything has found me with friends at the Food Bank for New York City fairly often lately.  I found myself at their site deep into the Bronx one day, and again at their Downtown offices on another.  I hated taking the MBTA around the Boston area, and although the MTA here in NYC has been a bit crazy this winter, I still find it to be an adventure.  So far, I absolutely do not miss my car.
From Andy Clayburn's website
Of course I kept up with my Monday and Tuesday music nights at Sojourn.  This week Gus was joined by Andy Clayburn, an amazing classical guitarist.  I am so blessed in my comfort and familiarity with this wonderful neighborhood gathering place. (and the food has never disappointed!).

PIPPIN Broadway Playbill +ad OPENING NIGHT Andrea Martin Stephen Schwartz WICKEDAn evening spent on Broadway with my Library friend was a treat, as I haven’t seen a Broadway show for awhile.  We met for a glass of wine and light bite with happy hour prices at L’ybane in Hell’s Kitchen right around the corner from The Music Box theatre.  Pippin was great fun, a circus-like play for adults.  From Timeout magazine’s review:  Diane Paulus brings her magic to Pippin.  The innovative director behind Hair and Porgy and Bess infuses the Broadway classic with circus thrills.”  It won the 2013 Tony award for Best Musical Revival and Diane Paulus also won the Tony for Best Direction.  (Ms Paulus is also the artistic for the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, Ma.).

From the website

Another evening spent with OBP and some of my NYC Friends My Father’s Ashes” was wonderful, and still a treat.  Many of us, including Kristi, continued the evening having some food, wine, and laughter at Sojourn.  Closing that establishment, we continued on to its sister wine bar, Vero around the corner. 

From the Website

My weekend was spent at the inaugural Women’s Travel Fest hosted by Kelly Lewis of GO Girl Guides..  Saturday was a jam packed day of talks, panels, information, food and wine at one of my favorite spaces in NYC, the Angel Orensanz Center.  It’s too hard to choose the best as the list was long with many great Women, but it was a thrill to hear Samantha Brown, and very moving to hear Sarah Shourd.  From the Fest’s bio “..working as a journalist and teaching for the Iraqi Student Project, when she was captured by Iranian forces somewhere along the unmarked border between Iran and Iraq in July ’09 while on a weekend trip in semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan. She was subsequently held hostage in solitary confinement for 410 days and then released without ever being tried or charged. … Her memoir A Sliver of Light: Three Americans Imprisoned in Iran—co-authored by Shane Bauer (now her husband) and Josh Fattal—will be published by Houghton-Mifflin Harcourt in March 2014." 

From Facebook
Scene on Houston St.
As if that wasn’t enough, I scooted up to Hell’s Kitchen to catch some of International Women’s Artists’ Salon Symphony.  It was a celebration of International Women’s Day.  The League of Professional Women celebrated amazing women artists from around the world in song, poems, readings, and short theatrical pieces.  Very interesting in yet another cool space, TheaterLab.
From their website
Sunday’s session of  Women’s Travel Fest was held at a really great space in Chelsea amongst all the funky studios, Drift Studio.  The woman who was supposed to present the seminar “Work Digitally Anywhere” got stuck in Mexico due to illness.  Ashley Castle and Annelise Sorenson gave us a wonderful day, impressively, as I’m guessing it was very last minute! 


Friday, March 7, 2014

Family Ladies' Weekend to see "My Father's Ashes"

                             "Laughter is a celebration of the human spirit."    Sabina White

From Gus' website

From Keren and The Sugar Daddies' website
Habits and rituals are so comforting, aren’t they?  Becoming a regular at my NYC Cheers, Sojourn, has brought me countless hours of good food, entertainment (Keren and her Sugardaddies on Monday nights, Gus Fafalios, usually joined by friends on Tuesdays), and friendships.  All I have to do is walk across the street, literally!  It doesn’t get better than that.
Ucb comedy logo.pngAnother day spent at the Food Bank for NYC downtown allowed me to see my two favorite Ladies there, Rachel and Lisa.  Another Lady I worked for gave me much food for thought, suggestions, and advice without even knowing it, so a very successful day overall.  From there I ventured up to Chelsea to the Upright Citizen’s Brigade to see a Rooftop Films Friend perform in his first show.  Giggles are always a wonderful thing.
From OBP website
One of the very first auditions Kristi had upon landing in NYC five years ago was for a young playwright’s, Tom Slot, rock musical.  I remember getting lost (and a bit nervous) in the halls of Columbia University on a Sunday night when I had been allowed to sit in a rehearsal since I couldn’t make it to the show. (That was a wonderful weekend all around as I scored an unbelievable price to stay at The Plaza for their soft opening following a major renovation.  What a treat!).    
That group of talented artists blew me away then, and continue to do so now.  The core group of that very first show, “Father of Songs”, is still together, and formed Original Binding Productions a couple of years ago.  (Kristi was asked to be a founding member!)  My NYC Friend joined me for Opening Night of OBP’s current production, “My Father’s Ashes” is, simply put, amazing.  Yes, I know I am a bit biased.  From their website: MY FATHER'S ASHES: THE SISTERS PLAY is a new dramatic play by Tom Slot that explores the issues of love, grief, and family. On the one-year anniversary of their father's death, three sisters return to their childhood home to scatter his ashes. But a brutal winter snow, their judgmental mother, and years of unresolved baggage threaten to derail the memorial before it even begins. As secrets and insecurities are exposed at every turn, can these three sisters overcome their sibling dynamic long enough to mourn their father? Or will the night leave their relationships so fractured that they can never go home again.
Mac & CheeseGoing to the Village to do an errand (God, I truly love saying things like that!), I treated myself to a wonderful little $20 prix fixe lunch (a delicious citrus kale salad, mac n cheese with a lovely glass of Italian red) at Murray’s Cheese Bar.  It’s not enough the Murray’s Cheese is one of the largest purveyors of cheese in NYC, they added this quaint little CafĂ© to their family.  Brilliant and wonderful.

VDay logo 2014One of the absolute best emails I ever opened was the one last fall from Katie telling me about Eve Ensler’s lecture with other women activists from around the world at Columbia.  Attending that, and the meeting the next night that Eve invited all in the room to for VDay planning, has taken on a major part of my life this winter.  The people I have met, and worked, with have been so great.  Now that VDay One Billion Rising for Justice is over, I am fully immersed in The Fourth Universalist’s Society’s VDay presentation of two of Eve Ensler’s plays, “The Vagina Monologues” and “The Good Body”).  Apparently, people were happy with my work as volunteer coordinator for OBR4J as I have been asked to do the same for 4th U’s Vday.  And, I am on the fundraising committee.  So it was on that note that a group of us met at a Lovely Ladies home to create crafts for the VDay Fair that takes place all weekend with the plays.  So very blessed to be meeting all these People!
St. Paul's Chapel
9-11 Memorial
Family Ladies (Mom, Katie, and two cousins Lee and Kathy) came down to play and see Kristi’s show for a quick overnight!  I met them at their hotel, the Intercontinental in Midtown, very swanky.  We headed out immediately and found a lovely little wine bar, La Cava, in the neighborhood for a wonderful brunch.  From there we split up for awhile.  Myself, Mom and Kathy headed downtown to the World Trade Center area.  St. Paul’s Chapel never ceases to overwhelm me with emotion, so much history, old and recent.  The 9-11 Memorial is also incredibly moving.  To see the changes being made is a true testament to the human spirit.  Katie and Lee visited another one of my favorites, The Frick
Iguana New York
We then headed over to the Theatre District for My Father’s Ashes.  Kristi was able to join us for a quick light bite next door at Iguana.  With a fun atmosphere and decoration, we thoroughly enjoyed the Mexican appetizers that we shared, even Mom!  Everyone enjoyed the play.  We then enjoyed a nightcap at the Hotel’s Bar.

Brunch @ Hi-Life
At The Boathouse
Sunday morning, my Ladies came to investigate my tiny home, and leave their bags here.  We then had a long leisurely, laughter-filled brunch at Hi-Life around the corner.  Kristi went off to the theatre.  The rest of us took a stroll in Central Park, stopping at the Boathouse for a bit of libation!   When checking in on Mom to make sure she got home all right, she said she loved my little home, and more importantly that I was so happy in it.  Wonderfully successful weekend!
Photo: Goofing around in Central Park with Nonnie, Kathy Berry,Kathy Regan and Lee Larkin
Frolicking in Central Park!