“Eyes Wide Open” (Eynaim Pekukhot)

Film, Lily's notes

Eyes Wide Open (Eynaim Pekukhot) directed by Haim Tabakman opens the viewers eyes, with insight, to see into the attitudes and complications of being gay within the ultra-Orthodox community in contemporary Jerusalem.  There is no possible hiding from the eyes of this community or from ones’ family. No light ever enters this film which could guide a path to acceptance which includes remaining within the community. The attitude towards gayness in this community is not identical with the attitude among ultra-right wing Christians. In the ultra-orthodox community, gayness is not a “sin” but an “evil urge” which should be resisted.

This fine point does not help much at all to relieve an individual’s suffering , especially when you consider how any scandal, shame or any myriad of other problems can have a terrible effect on the future acceptance and happiness of a person’s innocent children and other family members within the ultra-orthodox community.

In Jewish tradition, lesbians are not even mentioned as a possibility, (and therefore sexual relationships between women are not prohibited), and this film makes very little reference to women at all. We meet a long-suffering, kind wife and a young women marrying a man she does not love. We see the face of the extremists of this community and the kindness and caring of others, including the Rabbi.

This is a strong, quiet and painful film, well acted and well made, starring Zohar Strauss and Ran Danker.

In an interview, Haim Tabakman is quoted as saying, “The film can be part of the evolution in the orthodox world”.

Let’s hope so.

This will be shown at the Jewish Film Festival on January 19 (at the Manhattan JCC) and January 23rd (at the Walter Reade Theater). See schedule in my previous post and buy tickets in advance.

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UWS Snow on Sunday Morning


The snow has stopped: we seem to have  gotten about a foot of snow from the storm last night. The side streets seem not to have plowed, some traffic is moving slowly on the avenues, and my NY Times was  delivered this morning as usual. I do not see any side street car traffic,  people are walking in the streets, shoveling the sidewalks and running in Central Park. The skies are quiet, I assume that the airports are still closed.

Must be time to listen to the hysteria-filled weather reports on the TV, and enjoy fresh coffee with an omelet.

It is a lovely, quiet morning. All will be back to normal very soon.

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Comfort Ye – the Fifteenth Annual Concert to Benefit the Homeless

Concert, Events

GothamGirl received this invitation from the The Interfaith Assembly, the West -Side Campaign Against Hunger, New York Cares and Lauren Flanigan and Stars from the Metropolitan  Opera and the New York City Opera and we recommend that you attend and bring a donation as suggested.

Symphony Space Marque

Symphony Space Marque

Comfort Ye – the Fifteenth Annual Concert to Benefit the Homeless

Monday, December 21, 2009

7:30 PM

Peter J.  Sharp Theater

Symphony Space

95th Street & Broadway


5 or more cans of food items or 1 clean used overcoat or 1 clean blanket or

5 packages infant/toddler diapers or Cash Donation of $40

All funds raised will  benefit the Interfaith Assembly and their programs. If you have attended this concert in the past you know what a treat it is. If you have not, you owe it to yourself to come – You will not be disappointed.  And BE SURE TO INVITE YOUR FRIENDS – they will surely thank you!

During these difficult times, the Assembly and their partners are working hard to help those who have been homeless to rebuild their lives, and establish more  equitable public policies for those in our city who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. See their webite for more details on the work they do and about this event.


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Handel’s Messiah at the NY Philharmonic

Concert, Events, Lily's notes

This is a performance of Handel’s Messiah, not a sing-along, and the soloists, chorus and musicians made it all truly worthwhile. The countertenor, Daniel Taylor was stunning, a clear beautiful voice with such clear diction that one could understand the words as they were sung. The Bass is a singer originally from China with just one name, Shenyang , and he was excellent as was the James Taylor (not THAT tenor named James Taylor, silly), the soprano, Annette Dasch was very fine. We all loved the trumpets featuring Philip Smith, one of our favorite NY Phil musicians. The chorus is the Gachinger Kantorei Stuttgart and they were an excellent chorus, blending as one voice and forming clear sectional parts.  This runs through Saturday, December 19, 2009.

It is most interesting to examine the text of the oratorio, just like a cut and paste, a line from here and a line from there from Isaiah, the psalms, and the Christian bible, which has been interpreted and arranged  to “tell”  the story of  the nativity, suffering  and crucifixion.  How different these lines sound when they are sung or chanted in Hebrew with the traditional Jewish cantilation. There are no trumpets in my synagogue.

And then there is the question of whether the audience should stand, supposedly as did the King of England for reasons unknown, or should remain seated for the splendid Hallelujah chorus. I sat, my friend was the first in the audience to stand.

There are so many seasonal music events in New York City and last week we were at  another holiday concert: A Twisted Christmas at the Nokia theater on Times Square, by our favorite metal band, Twisted Sister. This was a lot, lot, lot of fun.  They performed old and new songs and their metal versions of Christmas songs, and the stage show was a riot. This is not at all the Radio City version of Christmas. They have done a Christmas show each year for the last four or five years. Look for it next year.

It is tremendous fun to take in a wide sample of musical styles, so break out of your rut and see something very different.

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Coming soon:The 19th Annual Jewish Film Festival

Film, Lily's notes

We always enjoy this film festival immensely and would encourage you to get your tickets to the screening in advance since many screenings sellout.  GothamGirl will be attending some preview screenings and write about them shortly.

Presented by The Film Society of Lincoln Center and The Jewish Museum, Jan. 13-28

Here is a preview of their schedule:

Screenings at the Walter Reade Theater unless otherwise indicated.

165 West 65th Street close to Amsterdam Avenue

Wednesday, Jan. 13

1:00          Saviors in the Night

3:45          Gruber’s Journey

6:15          Saviors in the Night

9:00          Gruber’s Journey

Thursday, Jan. 14

1:15          Bar Mitzvah

3:30          Gruber’s Journey

6:15          Ahead of Time with Making the Crooked Straight

9:00          Ajami

Saturday, Jan. 16

6:30          Ajami

9:15          The Jazz Baroness

Sunday, Jan. 17

1:30          The Axe of Wandsbek

4:15          The Jazz Baroness

6:30          Happy End with Point of View

9:00          Protector with With a Little Patience

Monday, Jan. 18

12:30        Leon Blum with Herskovits at the Heart of Blackness

3:30          Protector with With a Little Patience

6:15          Forgotten Transports: To Poland

8:30          The Jazz Baroness

Tuesday, Jan. 19

1:00          Happy End with Point of View

3:30          Protector with With a Little Patience

6:15          Happy End with Point of View

7:30          Eyes Wide Open with Kallah*

8:45          Leon Blum with Herskovits at the Heart of Blackness

Wednesday, Jan. 20

1:00          Forgotten Transports: To Poland

3:30          Leon Blum with Herskovits at the Heart of Blackness

6:30          Einsatzgruppen

Thursday, Jan. 21

1:00          Human Failure

3:30          Berlin ’36

6:15          Human Failure

8:45          The Peretzniks with Happy Jews

Saturday, Jan. 23

6:30          Eyes Wide Open with Kallah

9:00          Mary and Max

Sunday, Jan. 24

1:00          Bar Mitzvah

3:15          Berlin ’36

6:00          Eyes Wide Open with Kallah

8:45          Mary and Max

Monday, Jan. 25

1:00          Gevald! with Chronicle of a Kidnap

3:00          Valentina’s Mother with Pinhas**

3:30          Leap of Faith

6:15          Gevald! with Chronicle of a Kidnap

8:30          Leap of Faith

Tuesday, Jan. 26

1:30          Valentina’s Mother with Pinhas

4:00          Human Failure

6:30          A History of Israeli Cinema

Wednesday, Jan. 27

1:00          Within the Whirlwind

3:30          The Peretzniks with Happy Jews

6:15          Valentina’s Mother with Pinhas

8:45          The Peretzniks with Happy Jews

Thursday, Jan. 28

1:00          Ultimatum with Prrrride

3:45          Within the Whirlwind

6:15          Ultimatum with Prrrride

8:45          Within the Whirlwind

*At The JCC in Manhattan

334 Amsterdam Avenue at West 76th Street



Tuesday, Jan. 19

7:30          Eyes Wide Open with Kallah

**At The Jewish Museum

1109 Fifth Avenue at 92nd Street


Monday, Jan. 25

3:00          Valentina’s Mother with Pinhas

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Latest Update on 535 West End Avenue


There is quite a lot of interest in 535 West End Avenue if we judge by the traffic GothamGirl receives on the previous posts regarding this new construction. So here it is, the latest according to a very reliable source. The owners claim that the building is 65% sold, our source says that this is no way near the truth. This building, like so many others is having trouble with sales in this still poor economy. This is not surprising and it does not mean that this building is any worse off than any other, just that their claimed percentage of sales is not so accurate. Construction continues.

The same source says that they will consider bids which are much, much lower than the offering prices we have originally heard of in the past.  I do not think this is so surprising but either, but thought that you might like to know.

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2009 Gotham Girl’s Gift Giving Ideas

Concert, Lily's notes

Here are some simple, creative ideas for this strained financial time: go towards quality and enjoyment of life.

The most wonderful DVD we have seen and heard is by Jazz at Lincoln Center: Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis Play the Music of Ray Charles. Norah Jones appears and sings like a sweet angel. “Hit the Road Jack”, “Unchain My Heart”, Hallelujah I Love Her So”…mmmm…..just music magic…This was filmed excellently at the concert at the Rose Hall in Lincoln Center, it feels very intimate, and it is a pure pleasure.   I saw this on Blue Ray, it is luscious in sound and beautifully filmed. Give this to someone!

Give a gift membership to the MoMA, Jewish Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art or any other museum, usually about $75 for annual single membership.

Give a gift membership to Symphony Space, or the Film Society/Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center.

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Travelling the Silk Road at the AMNH


This excellent exhibit is now open through August 15, 2009 and it is worth taking the journey along this important old trade route,  and bringing children. This is a fine exhibit: beautifully presented and rich in content. The focus is on 4 major cities on the cross continent route.

Just a mention of the old Silk Road evokes a romanticized  journey in the imagination and this exhibit gives detailed  shape, substance ,  historical context and is aesthetically quite satisfying.

Highlights include LIVE silkworms and an explanation of how silk thread is made and then woven into fabric, old Asian musical instruments ( Sunday afternoons musicians play up-dated versions of these instruments, check the Museum schedule) , a spice market, technical  instruments which are great for both sea and desert navigation by the stars, a lovely large model of a trading ship, an update on the cities covered in the exhibit.

This exhibit works very well if you just want a quick look and is even better if you would want more depth and understanding.

The American  Museum of  Natural History is on Central Park West between 77th Street and 81st Street.

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Thanksgiving Day Balloon Inflation on the UWS


The annual balloon inflation for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade starts this afternoon on the Upper West Side. It is an Upper west Side street party which starts off this holiday weekend.

Starting at about 2 pm, (officially at 6 pm) you can watch the big balloons being inflated by hard working, good spirited crews from Macy’s on  West 81s St, and West 77th St  between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue, and Central Park West in front of the American Museum of Natural History.. . This goes on through the evening and attracts loads of people of all ages.

The delicious Spiderman balloon and a few others have been inflated on 77th Street and small groups are there enjoying the event at this  time…(3 pm), crowds will come later.

Various street vendors add to the atmosphere, and don’t forget to walk by the New York Historical Society on CPW and 77 th Street. In the past, they have had people dressed in early American period costumes and hot cider. I do not know if they will do this tonight.

Please remember that you can see just about nothing if you try to drive by and peer out of your car windows- you would be adding to the street congestion and not make the kiddies happy at all. Park somewhere else and walk around, there will be plenty to see and do.. and please see last year’s entry for more details and photos.

Also, stop in at the local restaurants up and down Columbus Avenue, all are family friendly tonight.

And  in case you are visiting America for the first time in this season and did not know: Thanksgiving is the holiday most celebrated by the largest number of Americans.

Happy, Happy Thanksgiving.

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Halloween Block Party October 31 on West 90th Street

Events, Lily's notes

Each year the Park West 90th Street Park Association  organizes a lovely, welcoming event for children and adults who would love to enjoy seeing the kids have a great time.

West 90th Street between CentralPark West and Columbus Avenue will be filled with spooky decorations, glowing carved pumpkins on brownstone stoops, lighted displays, and a welcome table in front of #35. The residents of the block , many in costume, give out candy in front of the buildings. A few lobbies welcome trick or treat visitors inside as well.

This  has the wonderful, old-fashioned spirit of a child’s Halloween party and attracts many, many neighborhood families. It is  also a lovely display of the variety of families who live on the Upper West Side.

Many of the doggies on the block turn out in costume as well. Please remember: do not let the dogs eat chocolate. These are the same dogs who take part in the West 90th Street Dog Parade during the clean-up/planting party each Spring.

The street will be closed to traffic at 4 pm. Residents will decorate the block from that time on and  from 5:30 to 7pm  the goblins etc are welcome.

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Reinventing Ritual at the Jewish Museum


Reinventing Ritual at the Jewish Museum is a compelling, multi-media exhibit of artists from around the world, exploring Judaism and its symbols as a comtemporary vital force.

I will add details and photos to this post after Rosh ha Shanah ends on Sunday evening. 

The Jewish New Year 5770 starts at sunset today. How is this the year 5770? Don’t ask…I have to continue holiday preparations. Hopefully, by Passover I’ll have some time to answer.

I wish you a New Year of peace, health,  happiness and creativity to all.

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Bright Star: a Stunningly Beautiful Film


Bright Star , the film by Jane Campion, is not to be missed. It is a beautifully made film which seems to suspend time.

The actors, Ben Wishaw as the Romantic poet John Keats is completely perfect and engrossing.  I hope that someone will please feed that talented, compelling boy some rich food and put some weight on his bones to keep him around for a long, long time. Abbie Cornish as his love, Fannie Brawne ,  gives a stunning performance.  All of the cast is wonderful.

This film deserves a large audience and  to win many awards but it will have to be seen if such a different, and movingly intimate movie can find a mass audience.

You will want to stay through the entire credits at the end of the film and enjoy Ben Winshaw’s wonderful reading of Keats poetry. Here are two of John Keats poems to enjoy.

I would assume that  the “bright star ” of the poem refers to Venus, the symbol of beauty and longing.


By John Keats

Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art—
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like nature’s patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth’s human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors—
No—yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,
Pillowed upon my fair love’s ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever—or else swoon in death.



Ode to A Nightingale

by John Keats

My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
    My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
    One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:
‘Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
    But being too happy in thine happiness, -
        That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees,
                In some melodious plot
    Of beechen green and shadows numberless,
        Singest of summer in full-throated ease.

O, for a draught of vintage! that hath been
    Cool’d a long age in the deep-delved earth,
Tasting of Flora and the country green,
    Dance, and Provençal song, and sunburnt mirth!
O for a beaker full of the warm South,
    Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
        With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
                And purple-stained mouth;
    That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,
        And with thee fade away into the forest dim:

Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget
    What thou among the leaves hast never known,
The weariness, the fever, and the fret
    Here, where men sit and hear each other groan;
Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs,
    Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies;
        Where but to think is to be full of sorrow
                And leaden-eyed despairs,
    Where Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,
        Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow.

Away! away! for I will fly to thee,
    Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,
But on the viewless wings of Poesy,
    Though the dull brain perplexes and retards:
Already with thee! tender is the night,
    And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne,
        Cluster’d around by all her starry Fays;
                But here there is no light,
    Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown
        Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways.

I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,
    Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs,
But, in embalmed darkness, guess each sweet
    Wherewith the seasonable month endows
The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild;
    White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine;
        Fast fading violets cover’d up in leaves;
                And mid-May’s eldest child,
    The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine,
        The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves.

Darkling I listen; and, for many a time
    I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Call’d him soft names in many a mused rhyme,
    To take into the air my quiet breath;
Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
    To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
        While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
                In such an ecstasy!
    Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain -
        To thy high requiem become a sod.

Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!
    No hungry generations tread thee down;
The voice I hear this passing night was heard
    In ancient days by emperor and clown:
Perhaps the self-same song that found a path
    Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,
        She stood in tears amid the alien corn;
                The same that oft-times hath
    Charm’d magic casements, opening on the foam
        Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.

Forlorn! the very word is like a bell
    To toll me back from thee to my sole self!
Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well
    As she is fam’d to do, deceiving elf.
Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades
    Past the near meadows, over the still stream,
        Up the hill-side; and now ’tis buried deep
                In the next valley-glades:
    Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
        Fled is that music: – Do I wake or sleep?

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Central Park Storm Damage Update

Events, Lily's notes

In case you missed this news, on August 18, 2009, Central Park was it by an intense storm with of winds up to 80 miles per hour.

This short,  intense event damaged about 1000 trees north of 90th Street, and 400 hundred trees were completely lost. The oldest tree which was removed  was 159 years old and the tallest was 100 feet tall.

The Central Park Conservancy says that, “Many of the trees removed were among the tallest, largest, and finest specimens in Central Park.”  Their site has many photos and details about the storm.

Now is the time to step up and help restore our well-loved park by volunteering and /or donating.

We must do our part now so that  future generations will have a lovely park, just as we enjoy today.

Please see the Central Park Conservancy site for more details and photos about the storm, the damage, and to learn about volunteering/donation.

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Procrastination: Thoughts For Rosh haShanah

Guest Author: Natasha Hirschhorn, Lily's notes

The Jewish month of Elul, which preceeds Rosh haShanah and Yom Kippur, is a time of reflection, self-evaluation and  and return.  I want to share with you this wonderful piece written by Hazzan (cantor) Natasha Hirschhorn of Congregation Ansche Chesed in Manhattan:

There is a story about Satan, known as an “accuser” in Jewish tradition, who gathered his assistants together one day to talk about the most effective method of destroying the meaning of people’s lives.

One said, “Tell them there is no God.” Another suggested, “Tell them there is no judgment for sin and they need not worry.” A third proposed, “Tell them their sins are so great they will never be forgiven.”

“No,” Satan replied, “none of these things will matter to them. I think we should simply tell them,There is plenty of time.’”(Chasidic)

When I first read this story, I felt the proverbial finger pointing straight at me – an accomplished procrastinator…  But while I’ve always experienced a fair amount of guilt accompanying my shifting deadlines and to-do lists that never see their items crossed off, I felt the Satan’s judgment was too harsh… Can my delays in action truly be affecting the very meaning of my life?

This year as I was doing physical therapy for my back, I discovered an unpleasant truth.  It turned out that the very exercises I found the most difficult and painful were the ones my body needed the most in order to heal and get stronger.  According to Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, our souls going through Teshuvah, repentance, must operate on a similar principle – “To give money, for instance, is for some of us a molehill, whereas to apologize for having offended someone is a mountain. Now beware if you offer a sacrifice to God, make sure that you offer what really costs you dear, for God would not appreciate a fool’s deal”.

We may feel the need for a personal Teshuvah all year long, but our tradition really makes us face the challenge in the 40 day stretch from the beginning of Elul until Neilah* . This time period seems to highlight both a search for the meaning of it all, and a sense of urgency – the Book will be sealed, the Gates will be closed… In other words, our process of introspection must be honest and thorough, but it has a deadline!

The understanding that the task of true Teshuvah can’t be easy by definition, combined with the finite amount of time to accomplish it, can feel simply overwhelming.  The one Gate that is the most difficult for me to enter, may be the only one leading me to my higher self… Even with 40 days to go, how can I hope to find a way in before the Gates close?  

Perhaps, given the not uncommon propensity for procrastination, the very existence of a deadline ensures that we begin the process at all… The circular nature of the calendar reminds us that having made it at the last Neilah doesn’t guarantee us the coveted insider’s spot in the coming year.  Each time we must begin anew; to enter the last month of the year ready to challenge our souls and to seek the Gate – ever elusive and yet, ultimately, within our reach.  Each Elul, we must begin the spiritual labor with both a sense of urgency and a feeling of hope.  And, through this difficult journey, we pray, to rediscover the meaning of our lives.

Hazzan Natasha Hirschhorn

Congregation Ansche Chesed of New York

* Neila is part of the end of the service on Yom Kippur

Shanah Tovah

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Monet’s Water Lilies at the MoMA

Art, Events

The current exhibit of Claude Monet’s Water Lilies at the Museum of Modern Art fills  one small gallery with the lucious color, light and the timelessness of Monet’s masterpieces.  It will run from September 13 through April 12, 2010. There are two triptics of the waterlilies and four smaller paintings. This is the entire group of the museum’s collection of his late paintings, exhibited togther for the first time, plus two which are on loan.

Take your time to look at these so that they can unfold to you, and look at them from different angles to appreciate the light play across the paint surface. This gallery feels like a chapel to Monet and to  the art of painting.  No matter how many times I see these paintings they are always fresh and new.

Try to take your time and really see them even if the exhibit gets crowded and check out the MoMA website for tips on visiting the museum.

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Remember September 11, 2001

Lily's notes

We remember this day many more times each year than just on the anniversary of the actual date of the attack and we always remember the people who were lost who we personally knew.

The media may have dubbed the Trade Center site  “Ground Zero” but we should not call part of our vibrant and recovered city by this clever, false title.

The 16 acres are correctly called the World Trade Center site.

The site is being rebuilt much, much too slowly but there is some progress and the anniversary of he attack has become a day of community service. 

This is a perfect way to actualize what we learned on that day and the days that followed: how we are joined in community and responsible for each other. Remember.

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Carole Eisner’s Monumental Scultpures on the Broadway Malls

Art, Events

Sculptor Carole Eisner’s nine monumental works,  made from twisted and curved steel, will be on view in the Broadway malls from 64th to 166th Streets from September 9 through December 8 2009.

To view the Installation Map, and locate where you can see these please go to:


Remember to call the toll-free number while you are viewing the scultures and  listen to artist recordings, describing the sculptures.

The Susan Eley Gallery, our most favorite uptown gallery, is a sponsor of this exhibit.  Kudos to Susie for bringing this to the malls on Broadway!

This show is made possible by Broadway Mall Association, in conjunction with the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation and Susan Eley Fine Art.

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Julie & Julia: See It Only for Meryl Streep’s Fine Performance


I did not like Julie & Julia at all,  the Julie segments felt completely contrived and especially  false.

The only highlight is Meryl Streep’s wonderful performance as Julia Child. I remember watching Julia Child on TV, she was intelligent, very capable, funny, large, open, adorable, and so very unique a public woman for the times. There was no one else in media even remotely like her. She was a one of a kind, lovely, unusual woman.

Meryl Streep captures this with delight.  It is wonderful to have this unique woman of substance remembered and depicted for a new audience.

But the modern segments of the story about Julie Powell are just awful.

I do not believe that Julie Powell cooked the dishes she wrote about.  I think that her cooking blog was a novel which was serialized in 365 parts in the old tradition of newpapers printing novels in segments over time. That is fine, but it is necessary to say so.

As a woman who loves to cook, has a family, works, lives in New York City, has owned the Mastering the Art of French Cooking for many years, blogs, I can assure you , without any doubt that there is no time to work full time, ride the train to and from work, relate to your family and friends and do the specialty shopping and then cook these demanding dishes, and then write about it, every day, for an entire year.

It made me squirm to have this very, very  light novel of  no substance, intertwined with a real person’s life. Dropping an aspic (so sad, boo-hoo) does not equate with having one’s spouse  questioned by the government during the McCarthy era.

The phone never rings when Julie is cooking  or they are at home eating.

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Central Park’s Trees Damaged by Tuesday’s Extreme Storm- A Microburst


It is terrible to see the amount of destruction that was done to so many trees in Central Park on August 18, 2009, Tuesday evening by the unusaul and wicked storm that roared through. Meteorologists called the storm a “microburst” which seems to mean that strong winds hit the ground (from cloud level?) and travelled straight, unlike the spinning winds of a tornado. These winds reached 60 to 100 miles per hour in Manhattan!

We witnessed this extreme wind at street level in a restaurant and no one present had ever seen anything like it before in NYC.  More of the New Weird Weather.
Remains of a Central Park tree knocked down by Microburst windstorm On August 18 2009

Remains of a Central Park tree knocked down by Microburst windstorm On August 18 2009

The West Side of Manhattan and Central Park were badly hit. There were trees and large branches down ont he streets blocking all traffic. Much of this has been cleared up but there is a great deal more to be done by the Park’s people who take care of the trees. Up at Central Park West and 105th, where there is a large outcropping of bedrock, trees were leaning and dangling over the traffic. Many old, lovely trees have been lost.

Here are a few photos of the damage by Jeff French Segall.

Clearing the Storm Damage in Central Park

Clearing the Storm Damage in Central ParkRemains of a Central Park tree knocked down by Microburst windstorm On August 18 2009Street Tree Branches Gathered for RemovalStreet Tree Branches Awaiting Removal

Street Tree Branches Awaiting Removal

Street Tree Branches Awaiting Removal

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The Bacchae at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park

Events, Lily's notes, Theater

Euripides’ complex and disturbing ancient play, The Bacchae,  about disrupting the so-called “natural” order in society, personal delusion vs reality,  and the consequences is produced movingly by the Public Theatre in Central Park as the second play for this season of  “Shakespeare in the Park”.

The score is by Philip Glass and  the play is given its bone-chilling, gripping life by a spectacular women’s chorus.  The score and chorus would be reason enough to see the play, and there is a very fine cast and production, as well. Try not to miss this production.

As a reminder if you haven’t read your classics in a while, the Bacchae are women who have entered a state of ecstasy and delusion by following the charismatic, seductive, handsome, pitiless, vengeful, god Dionysus. They destroy society by leaving their so-called natural subservient place in society and going up into the mountains for the “worship” of Dionysus: that is Bacchanalia which are orgies with hideous and murderous details. This is quite something for a summer play in the park.    

Do not miss the excellent notes and explanations in the Playbill about the  Bacchae, Euripides and His Times, and the Royal House of  Thebes, which will make you very appreciative that you are not a relative of the Royal House of  Thebes expected at up-coming  holiday dinners.

We left the park discussing the production and the complex issues raised by the play itself. There is plenty for all points of  view to discuss. That is the mark of a terrific production.

We saw this last night, in the open air of the Delacorte Theater, and as the actors invoked Dionysus, the god of Thunder, we were surrounded by nature’s spectacular lightning and  an approaching intense summer thunder storm.  The audience remained gripped by the play and left the park quickly due to the impending weather. Shortly after the end of the play, this storm hit Manhattan with terrific force, even toppling mature trees  into the streets as on West 88th St,  throwing branches onto the streets, sidewalks and cars,  sent cafe chairs sliding up Columbus Avenue,  and wrecked awnings around the Upper West Side.     

How to get your FREE TICKETS: arrive early in the day and wait on line (BTW: New Yorkers wait “on line”, it is a localism, the rest of you wait “in line”).  Seniors  65 and above have their own line, and there is now a Virtual Line. See the Public’s website for full details.

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Yoo-Hoo Mrs Goldberg, an Excellent Documentary


Yoo-Hoo Mrs Goldberg,is an excellent documentary by Aviva Kemptner about the beloved radio and television pioneer Gertrude Berg. This film is beautiful! It tells the story of Ms Berg with class and insight about Ms Berg, the early days of American media,  the America that was, and spans the years before the Great Depression through WWII and through the McCarthy era witch hunts.

Aviva Kemptner described her film this way : ”Gertrude Berg was the was the creator, principal writer, and star of “The Goldbergs,” a popular radio show for 17 years, which became television’s very first character-driven domestic sitcom in 1949. Berg received the first Best Actress Emmy in history, and paved the way for women in the entertainment industry.” 

Ms Berg wrote over 12,000 scripts and her lead character,  Molly Goldberg,  was beloved across America. Ask anyone of a certain age if they watched this show and their faces glow and through a broad smile  they say, “of course! We loved her”. 

If you are interested accomplished women in society, media, America, sit-coms, interviews with a wonderfully surprising list of people, the Catskills great gifts to our culture, wry family comedy, sweet family comedy, and getting to know a women of great talent with the strength of all of her convictions, then this is a film for you.

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Will Sarah Palin leave Alaska for New York?

Lily's notes

Sarah Palin has been looking at houses to buy around Hampton Bays (Long Island) according to a  “very reliable source” who knows real estate in the area .

It seems that she started looking at smaller houses and has now graduated to looking at larger homes. Her husband is said to like the good fishing on Long Island. Perhaps the speculation about her planning a possition with right wing  Fox news is correct too.

Just a friendly note for a potential new New Yorker: In New York State, we do not hunt animals from airplanes. And Montauk may be the better fishing area.

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Elie Wiesel at the Zamir Choral Festival 2009

Concert, Events, Lily's notes

As Elie Wiesel the novelist, journalist and Nobel Prize for Peace winner was honored at the final event of the Zamir Choral Festival 2009, and he did much more than merely accept  an award of recognition from the Zamir Choral - he stood on the stage and sang alone.

He sang a few niggunim from his hometown of Sighet to the 450 participants in the Festival.

The participants had learned these niggunim during the festival and then sang with him in four part harmony. It was very moving to hear him sing, and then to sing together…it was an emotional musical bridge from the Europe of the past to the Jewish community of the present  in America.

He stayed afterwards and very graciously shook people’s hands and accepted their good wishes and thanks. It felt like a visit from a respected, beloved, close relative.

Dr Ruth Westheimer had arrived at the Festival and was honored as well.

Dear tiny dynamo Dr Ruth, is now a film-maker and had her new film about Bedouin women with her; her ongoing creativity is an inspiration.

There are many so many ways to be a witness.

The Festival was an exciting and fulfilling experience: so many fine musically talented and knowledgeable people, such all-over good spirit, excellent workshops and classes, late night jam sessions,  schmoozing laughter-filled meals with new and old friends, and wonderful choral concerts!

At one late night jam, the terrifically talented singer, Magda Fishman, sang and played the trumpet(!) with 2 guitars, a piano and several flutes. Fun!

We returned home happily exhausted and would attend again next year.

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Hudson Valley Resort and Zamir Choral

Concert, Events, Lily's notes

We drove up the  NY State Thruway through the Hudson Valley to the Catskill Mountains on this glorious, sunny day…finally the month of rains has ended. We have arrived at the Hudson Valley Resort for the 20th annual Zamir Choral Festival, July 12-16.

The mountains are glorious, we drove past  the Mohonk Mountain Preserve with it’s rough ridge; it has a wall of stone like the Palisades. At the foot of the ridge, we stopped and watched rock climbers getting ready to ascend the cliffs.

But our destination is the Zamir Choral Festival and here the rooms, hallways and dining room are all filled with truly fine music, and nice company.

The entire atmosphere is lovely. If you are reading this because you are considering attending a future Zamir Choral Festival, I would encourage you to attend. See their site  for program specifics.

The resort is run by very helpful and pleasant staff, the pools are lovely, and the rooms are pleasant and very adequate.

We met participants who have come from, Australia, Toronto, Milwaukee, and from the greater New York City area. Nice mix of people, different ages and life-styles. I think that there are about 450 participants, not sure.

I attended a class given by Velvel Pasternak of  Tara Music on the history of Jewish music which was absolutely fun and excellent. He is a great authority on Jewish music and funny story-teller.

Tonight we will attened a choral concert.

More on the specifics later…I want to take another walk around the grounds and through the shuk of vendors with my doggie who has come along.

Yes, this resort is both pet-friendly and it is people friendly.

Very unusual.

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Oceans of Comments!!


GothamGirl has been inundated with many thousands of comments over just a few days.

An ocean of comments. An avalanche of comments.

I think that this is now resolved but I will not re-open the site to readers comments until I am sure this flood is over.

Hmmm….maybe it was writing about the Golem that did it…..

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