In Tune with June!

It happened quite a few years ago. My daughter-in-law Andrea (I should simply call her my daughter because that’s how I truly feel) and I were dining (not really dining — eating) in a New York City restaurant when a patron walked in and I gasped. The man was dreamy, youthful, handsome. “Who is that?” we asked one another. Well, surprise, it was Alec Baldwin, actor, writer, comedian, producer. Whew! Since seeing him in person I followed the gifted, hilarious, controversial man. He was outstanding in most of his work as Jack Donaghy on Tina Fey’s irreverent series “30 Rock.” He won many Emmys, Golden Globes plus Screen Actor Guild awards. Of course, he became a household name portraying the Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, on “Saturday Night Live.” Now, the accomplished and outspoken actor chronicles the highs and lows of his life in a candid memoir – and the man can write too! – “Nevertheless: A Memoir.” It’s unexpectedly moving making public a life he has long kept private. His story includes a troubled childhood, financial strain, struggle with sobriety. Alec Baldwin tells his story for the first time with his signature candor that exposes an astute observational savvy and devastating wit. If you enjoy celebrity memoirs this is one that you might enjoy reading.
It was an awe-inspiring sight. If you’ve driven down the West Side Highway around 46th Street and looked to your right and kept your eyes open (that is if you’re not the driver), you, too, will be amazed. There it is in its full grandeur: the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood. Some of you might remember that about eleven years ago the Intrepid was moved down the Hudson by tugboat to the Peninsula at Bayonne Harbor (previously it was the Military Ocean Terminal). Well, for some three years the Intrepid underwent extensive renovations. Later, it was floated to Staten Island where her museum facilities were upgraded and expanded before returning to her renovated pier in Manhattan. What’s important to know is that it was reopened to the public. If you do go, and you should, and if you are looking for an unusual experience that will interest the young and the old, you won’t be disappointed. You can take the kids and open them to learning about life on an aircraft carrier. The Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum is a non-profit educational institution. In its many exhibitions you’ll see the foremost collection of technologically ground-breaking aircraft and vessels. Actually, there’s something for visitors of all ages – an interactive journey through history to learn about American initiative and bravery. It educates adults and inspires our youth. You’ll be able to examine an original artifact, view historic video footage, and explore many interesting exhibits. If you do go, wear comfortable shoes – there’s lots of walking and lots to see.
If you’re a certain age and recognize the names of two of the most prolific actresses in the history of Hollywood, Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, you might enjoy the FX series “Feud.” It depicts their tumultuous relationship. The series also has many special guest stars including Catherine Zeta-Jones, Cathy Bates, Judy Davis, and Stanley Tucci plus even more. “Feud” chronicals two of Hollywood’s most legendary ladies before, during, and after the filming of their 1962 classic, “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?”. That movie frightened me. In many ways things have improved for female stars who were treated shabbily in the 30s. Jessica Lang and Susan Sarandon are 67 and 70 and both are working steadily. It’s interesting to note that the episodes’ directors of “Feud” include three women. In addition, I didn’t love all the smoking but it had to exist because it was an era when not much was made of its harmful effects. In reality, it appears that the two stars really didn’t like each other. In the 1930s both huge stars were not only rivals at the box office but in the bedroom as well. Since I am not amused by love-hate relationships I decided not to continue to watch “Feud” in spite of the fact that Lang and Sarandon downplay many of the over-the-top gestures. So that’s interesting to watch. Both shine in the series’ quieter moments but there is too much lunacy involved for my taste. If you watched the first episode and didn’t like it you can do what I did. For me “Feud” is not worth my time. It was a disheartening look at the movie business so many years ago but today I continue to admire the work of Sarandon and Lang so I’ll watch for them in the future.
Jeff Koons! Does the name mean anything to you? At age 62 he is famous as painter, illustrator, and sculptor. His work is unconventional coming to life in such forms as balloons, bronzed sporting goods, and inflatable pull toys. He elevates the stature of such items from kitsch object to high art. It made his name synonymous with the art of mass culture. I clearly remember seeing a forty-foot tall West Highland White Terrier covered in 70,000 flowers. That was “Puppy.” It was fun to see a puppy made of flowers. Critics are sharply divided in their view of Koons. Some view his work as pioneering and of major art-historical importance. Others see it as kitsch, crass, based on cynical self-merchandising. What comes as a complete surprise is to learn that in his latest project his collaborator is Louis Vuitton. So is Jeff Koons a genius or charlatan? He is an artist known for elevating children’s toys and vacuum cleaners to the stature of the Greek gods. Now done in collaboration with the French luxury house, he has created a new line of handbags, scarfs, key chains, and small leather goods including wallets. This is the first time he has created an original design for a brand. I viewed photos of three pieces of Koons’ collection of art-inspired handbags for Louis Vuitton. On the one hand, Vuitton is exploiting art for its own gain. On the other hand, is an artist selling out. Inside each bag is a little description of the artist like a hidden history lesson for the Twitter generation. The bags won’t be sold online. They will be offered only in certain Vuitton stores (excuse me!). Mr. Koons has a good line: “The whole experience made me want to make more things that are accessible to people.” The question is will anyone buy it? They bought Andy Warhol’s “Campbell Soup.” Here’s something that’s interesting. I recently found out that in 2014 the Whitney Museum in New York did a retrospective of Koons’ work – so anything is possible. Keep tuned!
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