Woody Allen’s imaginative universe is graceful, easy, funny, and filled with other giants. It was great fun to see F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Cole Porter (hearing his playing and singing “Let’s Do It”), Picasso and others who have created enduring works of art. I especially enjoyed the mood-setting music of jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli and jazz guitarist Django Reinhart. Also, the females in my family: Dorrie, Andrea, Jolie, and, especially the newest one, Claire, will certainly love the costumes in the film. The mechanism by which our hero travels back is a vintage auto at midnight. Allen breezes past that. It goes unexplained – and I didn’t care.
“Midnight in Paris” includes many beautiful, touristic scenes of the city. The film ends with a moral and anti-nostalgic kick: everyone wishes that he or she lived in another era. Well – not everyone, but Allen often seems lost in pipe dreams of the past. “Midnight in Paris” is such an enjoyable film that I think I would enjoy seeing it again, one mo’ time.
Recently, I attended three Broadway shows. The first was “The People in the Picture,” a Holocaust musical (Huh? Sounds like an oxymoron.) – queasy, although the lead actress, Donna Murphy, is a wonder to watch. The second, “A Minister’s Wife,” is a kind of musical based on George Bernard Shaw’s “Candida.” Don’t know why it was necessary since the same story had been done in two films and perhaps more. The third was a hit-packed musical, “Anything Goes.” It’s a revival with music by the wonderful Cole Porter.
You can easily guess which show I thoroughly enjoyed. With songs like “I Get A Kick Out Of You,” “Easy To Love,” “It’s De-lovely,” and, of course, “Anything Goes,” I knew it was going to be a winner the minute the overture started. Its amazing cast is headed by Tony-award winner Sutton Foster – beautiful to look at, as she sings and dances with a gorgeous smile on her face. It was fun to see Joel Gray (must be in his 80s) still acting funny and being graceful at the same time. Leaving the theater at the end of “Anything Goes,” I noticed the departing audience smiling and humming. Me, too – this old-fashioned show is a real feel-good one.
The Town Hall is at 123 West 43rd Street in New York City – that’s between 6th and 7th avenues. Its mission is to present quality artists’ performances for diverse audiences at affordable prices. I’ll drink to that! The auditorium is acoustically perfect. I discovered that when I saw a cabaret-type performance, titled “Easy To Love.” From that title, you can guess that it presented the wonderful music and lyrics by – guess who – yes, Cole Porter. The stars heading the program were two cabaret performers – Andrea Marcovicci (“The Queen of Cabaret”) and Jeff Harnar (award-winning New York recording artist).Cole Porter’s music was presented in grand style (that very evening, it was Cole Porter’s 120th birthday). It must have been difficult to select from his long list of musically wonderful and intelligent lyrics. Just to name a few, there’s “Begin the Beguine,” “Night and Day,” “Let’s Do It,” and on and on. Andrea Marcovicci gave her selections everything she’s got, at times too much for me. Co-star Jeff Harnar was smooth, engaging, and delightful to watch and listen to. A superb five-piece band had a special guest, Alan Weinstein, a hot jazz violinist. Boy, when that young man joined in, it set the place rocking. It was all so entertaining, but right now I’m Cole-Portered out!
A well-respected and cultured couple in Bayonne know the kind of music I prefer. With that in mind, they recommended an inn where their nephew was raising the roof musically. A great plus was that all you had to do to get there was to go through the Holland Tunnel and find 326 Spring Street. The inn, “the oldest working bar in New York City,” is located in the James Brown House from 1817, a designated landmark in the City of New York. Its unusual name, the Ear Inn, came from the musical “Ear Magazine” published upstairs. Sitting there, it felt evocative of another century and way of life. My interest was mainly in the jazz presented every Sunday night. A quartet is led by the couple’s nephew, Jon-Erik Keiso, a wonderful trumpet player who also appears every Monday and Tuesday night with Vince Giordano’s Nighthawks.
On my Sunday visit, the music was swinging – so much so that my friend Ruth Preminger and I were compelled to get up and dance (that is, if you call shaking and wiggling “dancing”). There are many reasons to go to the Ear Inn aside from its proximity to Bayonne. The food is good (I enjoyed my turkey burger), the crowd is congenial, and the music is hot, hot, hot. There’s no cover or music charge, and the food prices are reasonable. On my visit, there was only one drawback: our waitress was a surly, inattentive one, but we decided to ignore that. So it all ended up as a fun evening.
After reading the interesting history of the Ear Inn, I found myself looking for ghosts. P.S. – I didn’t find any.
Perhaps I should write a book. It seems to me that everyone else is. Now is the time to look for “summer reading.” All one needs to do is pick the author or the topic that is most appealing. My grandson Zach just purchased Bethany Frankel’s “A Place of Yes” for his wonderful girlfriend, Lindsey. Evidently he knows that she’s been watching since Ms. Frankel left “The Housewives of New York City” and went out on her own TV “reality” adventures. You can pick an author. There is almost no end to the variety of choices: Gwyneth Paltrow, Dick Van Dyke, Amy Grant (daughter of Cary), Keith Richards, Rob Lowe, Mika Brezinski, Barbara Sinatra (yes, Frank’s last wife), Derek Jeter, Tina Fey – I could go on and on. If you pick a book to read by its topic, there are so many choices – cookbooks, politics, lifestyle, inspirational, health, music, garden, science, travel, sex (of course!). There’s a biography of Robert Redford (to me, he seemed to glow gold in the 70s), and even “The Funny Papers” about newspaper comics. An aside: I read “Peanuts,” “Doonsbury,” and “Mary Worth.” That last one is like a soap opera in comic form. I’ve been following her for years, and love the fact that she doesn’t need a make-over – she never grows older.
Celebrities appear to rule the best sellers list. My daughter, Jolie, has a sister-in-law, Kimberly Marcus, who has just published two books. The first is a teen novel with a serious theme – “Exposed.” The second is an adorable children’s picture book, titled “Scritch, Scratch, A Perfect Match.” A third by Kim will be coming out soon. And I mustn’t forget our own Al Sullivan, whose informative and most interesting book, “Everyday People,” is worth your time. Boy, we are lucky to have so many choices. As soon as I heighten the prescription of my reading glasses, I plan to take advantage of the library cornucopia available to us. Bayonne has a wonderful library and is open to welcome you. P.S. – I’ll let you know if and when I take pen in hand. Get your Kindle ready.
You can e-mail June at firstname.lastname@example.org.