I met Carol at a restaurant, called "222" on 79th Street, recommended to her by her Department Chair. Everyone must be doing very well at the Davidson School to be able to afford to eat in such restaurants. God bless Bill Davidson. The food was good, service was good, but they didn't deserve such prices. One wonderful note: it is a beautiful room, but very noisy, and there was a large party next to us with one very loud woman. I kept looking in a pained way in her direction. The waiter came over and said, "Sir, you seem to be be in some distress. Would you like a quieter table?" "Does the Pope shit in the woods?" I answered. He took us to a tiny private room that had but one table in it. It was wonderful. I was so appreciative. I left him the full 15 percent. At those prices, it was enough to pay his rent for the month.
Friday, we went for breakfast to Barney Greengrass and had the Whitefish Special: a great hunk of cold juicy whitefish cut from the middle of the very same whitefish that swallowed Jonah, a fresh H&H bagel, cream cheese, tomato, onion. All for $8.25. When they talk of eating from the Leviathan at the time of the Messiah, this is what they mean. Then we went to see "Crash," the new David Cronenberg movie that won a prize at Cannes for audacity and daring. Cronenberg has done some terrific stuff, we both think, e.g., "Dead Ringers," with Jeremy Irons. And I enjoy violence at the movies immensely. But this one crossed the line, even for me. Pure unadulterated pornography. No redeeming social value. No message at all, not even an obscene one. Just one small example: two men are planning the re-enactment, literally, of famous car crashes. They want to do the Jayne Mansfield crash: "Yeh, with the decapitation and the dog in the back seat. But what I want is really big tits, so that the audience can see them all smashed and cut up all over the dashboard." And then later, you get to see it. Just like that. Yum.
Then we went for Tub-o-Sushi at Empire Szechuan. Excellent. Then on to "Liar, Liar, " with Jim Carrey. Jim Carrey is Jim Carrey always, and I love him. Pee in your pants laughing. And, it is one of those "heartwarming movies" that actually does warm your heart.
Saturday, we went to the Seminary for Shabbat services. One of Carol's favorite students was graduating and was giving his senior sermon. The services were interminable, but he did give a wonderful sermon. I met Annie, the girl who prayed for me under the huppah this summer because, "God cannot refuse the prayers of a bride on her wedding day." I told her how much what she had done meant to me, and how I had told the story of what she had done over and over as an example of the kindness of people. The Moonie re-emerged and I was weeping once more. I cannot tell you how many people came up to me and said, "I'm sure you're tired of hearing this, but your wife is the best teacher at the Seminary and the most wonderful and accessible person."
Saturday night, Gilda and Sam picked us up and we went to a fabulous restaurant at 30th and Madison, called Meli-Melo, which means in French, "a little of this, a little of that." It was pretty, loud, with excellent service and divine food, French, Vietnamese, Jamaican Jerk Chicken, each dish more wonderful than the next. And cheap. Plus it was good to see Gilda and Sam on her 50th birthday.
Sunday, read the New York Times in bed, but when we opened the Arts and Leisure Section, there was no more room in the hovel, so we went to the American Museum of Folk Art, and saw an exhibit of the works of Henry Darger. He was a man whose mother died at the birth of his sister who then disappeared, and whose father became ill and put him in a boys' home when he was 13, and then they put him in a home for the retarded because he was a behavior problem, apparently. He certainly wasn't retarded. He ultimately worked doing menial labor in Catholic hospitals, living in an apartment as a recluse. When they moved him to a nursing home, they found his life's work in his apartment: A 13,000 page typed text (the longest narrative ever written) of an epic about the seven Vivian Girls, who are beset by evil Glendinians from another planet, and who are rescued and protected by Blengins, strange fierce but friendly dragono-butterfly creatures who are kind to children. Interspersed are civil war-type soldiers, as well as Revolutionary war-type soldiers, drawn perhaps from his early interest in the Civil War. He created elaborate biographies for hundreds of soldiers. Along with the text are hand-done drawings and collages. He couldn't really draw well, so he would trace figures from coloring books, enlarge them at the drugstore, and color them in with watercolors, adding cutouts of Mickey Mouse characters as collages. Many of the little girls have penises. There are scenes of tranquility and unspeakable torture and maiming at the hands of authorities (shades of abuse at the Retarded Home?). Incredible exhibit.
Then we went to see "The Golem," as put on at La Mama Theater by the Czech-American Marionnete Company, with accompaniament by the Klezmatics. The music was great, but the performance dragged and was often incomprehensible. Carol thinks I am paranoid, but I thought that they put a twist on the Golem story, so that rather than depicting the Golem primarily as a Superman-Frankenstein who saves the Jews from Czech pogroms, he becomes a Czech plaything who is exploited by the Jews (all of whom are ugly, with big noses). The theatre was packed, uncomfortable, with poor sight lines, and a fire trap. They are getting a letter.
At the Golem, we met Steve Lasser, my med school classmate and friend, his wife, Beverly, and their nephew, Hal, whom they were sitting for. We went out to eat nearby at Frutti di Mare,an Italian restaurant nearby that offered an early bird special of soup, salad, entree, wine and coffee for $9.95. I had Linguine Pescatore, which was al dente, chock full of unmentionable sea creatures, and absolutely declicious. Then Carol and I finished the day with "Kolya," a heartwarming Czech movie (Czech mate already), about a little boy and an aging cellist roue. It didn't warm my heart as much as it did Carol's.
Lox and bagels and pickled lox from Murray's Sturgeon Shop this morning, and back home to eat TV dinners and white bread for four days until Carol returns home on Thursday night.
Spoke with Marjorie, who had a very responsive audience in Madison for a reading and book signing. She and Jonathan are discussing where and when. So many options.
Spoke with Andy, who was just back from Amsterdam, which he loves, and
where, of course, he met interesting people, one of whom was a man with
20,000 Jewish books in his home