Nancy and Sue Eynon Lark have created a special B&B in Olney, MD. I recommend a visit there, soon. They’ll make you feel at home!
Here’s a link to a video I made during a recent visit to RowanLark.
This week’s excursion brought me to the New York Botanical Gardens for the Chihuly Exhibit, which will be on display until October 29. 2017. This site-attuned exhibit will bring the ooh’s and ahh’s to your lips. Colors and shapes, each more dramatic than the one before–Seuss-like Chandeliers, Spikes, Flora, Geological formations that tease the fountain sculptures–this is a rich experience for all ages. I spent the most time at the Fountain, where I found the beautiful icy rock-like sculptures were so organically integrated with the metal sculptures, as if they had always been there. Alas, they won’t, so go soon! If you are without a car, there are two convenient transit ways to go on the Gardens’ Directions Page here. There is plenty of nature to enjoy at the Gardens–the water lilies are in beautiful bloom right now–plan for a long visit so you can see it all!
Not far away, I made the pilgrimage to New York’s northern “Little Italy,” Arthur Avenue, rewards the pilgrim with tasty fresh foods, made the old-fashioned way–fresh mozzarella, pasta, vegetables–markets and specialized shops to take home some. I went in quest of that creamier mozzarella, Burratta, but, alas Calabria’s (home of the famous “meat chandelier”) only begins to make it on Tuesday so it wasn’t going to be ready on Thursday…a weekend trip back sometime will be necessary if the fresh mozzarella I had to buy is any indication of what to expect.
I dined in high deli style at Mike’s Deli in the Arthur Avenue Retail Market, surrounded by all manner of Italian delicacies. Huge portions. They wrap to go!
Afterwards, I took a stroll to find bread and at least look at beautiful pastries. Purchases done, I relaxed with an iced latte at the pleasant café, The Prince Coffee House (air-conditioned or sidewalk seating). The ceiling is covered with latte pitchers–great atmosphere for this coffee lover! Sorry, I cannot tell you about the pastries.
The Arthur Avenue neighborhood is a brief sliver of New York, so you could pass through quickly or have a leisurely lunch and an excellent stroll in and out of the stores. A New York gem to visit.
July 12–Chadds Ford, PA–The day began with huge crowds for the opening of the Brandywine River Museum for the occasion of Andrew Wyeth’s 100th birthday. The museum and tours of Wyeth country, mobbed and sold out, respectively, but I did manage to get my first-day Wyeth stamp. Three generations of family painting, men, women, children, and grandchildren are amply represented in the collection. You can see an ample representation of the other people in their lives–the mysterious Christina demystified in her elder world, and more of the Helga series. In the alternate galleries, you’ll find a great selection from the works of the other family members. I was particularly struck by a portrait of Andy Warhol by Jamie Wyeth, who continues to live and paint in this beautiful countryside that inspired his family. The beautifully curated Centennial exhibit runs until September 17, 2017.
Well, the state parks of New Jersey, along with many other services, are mostly shut down due to a budget dispute, so on Sunday, I was looking for some holiday weekend fun. Last week when I was driving out of Woodbridge Center, I noticed circus tents in the parking lot proclaiming—”Cirque Italia.” A traveling circus with a European flair. I had to find out what that was about, so I bought a ticket.
In a state that doesn’t shock easily, it would be a good thing to get a dose of humorous awe, and Cirque Italia does not disappoint. It delights. From the first release of low fog clouds to the last contortions of a Cuban contortionist, the Gold Unit international players of “America’s First Water Circus” do a tremendous job of reminding us of what it’s like to play and be amazed. There’s something for everyone in this one-ring extravaganza with high production values, and, yes, a lot of water. 35,000 gallons in magically appearing fountains and pools. Did somebody say “send in the clowns”? They’re there, and they’re funny–and they can dance! All the good things you remember about high wire, juggling, and acrobatics persist, and the focus is on action. There’s only one non-human animal—a large and photogenic green dinosaur, who affably poses with families through the entire intermission.
I was sad about the end of Ringling Brothers, so I’m especially glad I found this show, created by Italian entrepreneur, Manuel Rebecchi beginning in 2012. Tickets range $45-$50 for these talented players hailing from, among other places, Bulgaria, Romania, Italy, the U.S., Argentina, and Cuba. The troupe I saw (Gold Unit) is headed down the shore later this week, so you can still catch them in Mays Landing, July 6-9, and after that in other mid-Atlantic States. The Silver Unit is appearing in the mid-West, July 6-16. The website’s videos for the gold and silver highlight similar shows. Seats were full in Woodbridge, so get a ticket before you go if location is important. Bring plenty of cash for cotton candy, face-painting, popcorn, fluorescent drinks, led toys! Plus, it’s a day away from our media circus in the intimacy of the Big Top—priceless!
I always approach tribute concerts for elder musicians with a some trepidation—don’t ask me about the last time I saw Brian Wilson—but last night’s performance at Jazz at Lincoln Center, featuring the belated 80th Birthday Celebration for Eddie Palmieri (continuing tonight at JALC and then on tour) transcended any hopeful expectations I might have entertained. Mr. Palmieri, who turned 80 in December, took to the stage at the Rose Theater just after 8 pm, and the self-described “frustrated percussionist” delivered two hours of muscular performance energy in a dazzling array of styles, each infused with the Latin Jazz of the moment. Happy Birthday! I am celebrating, still. I sometimes like to sit behind the band to watch the organization, and last night, it was fun to watch the collaboration between Palmieri and trumpeter Brian Lynch—a former member of Eddie’s Afro-Caribbean Jazz group—corralling their joyful anarchy into smooth sound. You can catch some of the energy at this link to a rehearsal, and I’d say run to get a ticket to some event on this tour, which is also promoting Palmieri’s newest release: Sabiduría. An apt title, the music celebrates the wisdom the Spanish Harlem-born virtuoso has gathered in a 50-year career.
My day began with a trip to the Museum of Modern Art highlighted by an exhibit on 1960s artists. I particularly appreciated the photography sections, led by the works of Diane Arbus. I appreciated the Picabia exhibit though sometimes the put-on’s taxed my patience. I was glad for the exhibits on the Ourslers and their interest in the occult. Strange museum site—the great hall surrounded with photographs of people from birth to age 100, hardly anyone was looking at the photos. In the center of the hall a huge, inviting seating area beckoned, and nearly everyone on it was engaged with a cell phone. We are never where we are anymore, are we? Maybe these are “un-happenings,” and we should consider the artistic moments? Still pondering that, but I can’t beat back the tide anymore.
Later on, since I planned to attend the pre-concert lecture at JALC, I savored an early dinner at Maison Kayser on Broadway and Columbus Circle. A quite reasonably priced and delicious prix fixe menu gave me that feeling of being in Paris for an hour and a half. Dining room or take-out to Central Park when the weather is better—this beautiful store is a find, open 7 am to 10 pm. Dinner begins at 4, and no one will rush you. Almond croissants, desserts with names like Adagio and Moccacino were irresistible. Several locations in New York City, 100 shops in 20 countries. Do not ignore!
I needed to escape the election noise today, and, November not usually being flower-full, the road took me to Longwood Gardens, a guaranteed Chrysanthemum Festival. Thousands of chrysanthemums–an early birthday treat for me. So I “rolled down the window and let the wind blow back my hair” to get there. Now, as I go through my photos of the day, I’m listening to the Boss, and feeling full of hope about tomorrow. Don’t tell the roses it isn’t summer any more. There’s something about a rose beside the topiary. The blooms never end at Longwood–open all year.
In a tower monument that you could easily miss, near the Menlo Park Mall, hidden uphill in a wooded area of Edison, NJ, at 37 Christie Street, the turn marked by a tiny sign (thank goodness for GPS), sits a testament to human ingenuity: Edison’s first incandescent bulb, invented in 1879 (patented 1880): The Menlo Park Museum, home of the Thomas Edison Center at Menlo Park.
With other more energy-efficient bulbs or lights eclipsing this once universal symbol of progress, it may soon get lost in our memory. Not wanting this to be the secret known only by school children whose districts still fund field trips, I decided to visit to see what all the fuss was once about. I once wrote about Edison’s contribution to the mechanical toy industry for the Encyclopedia of New Jersey (Edited by Maxine Lurie and Marc Mappen), and it felt like time to check in with my topic again. Dancing Uncle Sam atop the phonograph did not disappoint.
The 131-foot high deco tower and neighboring tiny museum structure do not disappoint. Edison’s friend Henry Ford moved some of Edison’s buildings to his Greenfield Village museum in 1929 to recreate the lab and the Thomas Edison National Park in West Orange, NJ houses Edison’s equipment, but a genuine feeling for the late nineteenth and early twentieth century life of an American inventor unfolds at this little museum that can in New Jersey.
My highlights: Listening to the sounds of the first phonograph in the museum and trying to capture the eerie presence of an “Eternal Light” lit by Thomas himself in 1929 that has been glowing ever since at the tower site, even through a 1937 lightning storm that destroyed the earlier tower around it.
The docents are excellent, and the adjoining Edison State Park provides a woodland retreat to savor all those lively thoughts you’ll be having about invention and creativity in the eleventh American colony. Make some time for inspiration! #MenloParkMuseum #ThomasEdison