Monday, December 14, 2009

Dan Wakefield, author and screenwriter


Dan Wakefield has written the novels, "Going All the Way," and "Starting Over." Both of those books were made into major motion pictures. Now, he writes books on spirituality. "How Do We Know When It's God?" is his spiritual memoir. This link is his website.
Dan lives in Florida, so I sent him a list of questions for this interview and today he replied in an E-mail.

Q: Many baby boomers who grew up all over the country during the 50s are fascinated with that time period and have a general feeling of nostalgia for all things connected to those years. Do you think all children are sentimental about the years during which they grew up, or was there something special about the 50s?
A: I don't think all people are sentimental about their youth- especially those who grew up as Jews during WWII, as well as all children whose homes were bombed or (those who had) parents or family members killed in wartime- and probably many who grew up in our Depression of the '30s. The '50s was a time of peace, except for Korea and there were no new wars when Ike was president (1952-1960.)

Q: What year did you leave Boston? And please speak a little about your decision to move to Florida and about your present life there.
A: I left Boston in 1992, lived back in NYC until I went to Florida in 1994- for the reason I was offered a good position as Writer in Residence at Florida International University.

Q: You have said you believe in "putting aside the 'numbing' distractions of television and music." Do you watch any television or go to the movies... and are there any recent television shows or films you have seen that you enjoyed?
A: I go to movies and I think "Mad Men" is the best thing I've ever seen on TV and the only accurate description of the '50s on TV or film. I also watch "The Good Wife" and "Glee."

Q: Do you think there has been a general "dumbing down" of American culture in the past few decades?
A: Yes.

Q: Helen Weaver, in "The Awakener," suggests that today's Village may be just a facade and that the real Village may still be there underneath... just like it used to be. Do you think time creates a sort of pentimenti that drives imaginations to dream of time travel?
A: Helen Weaver said that in my book, "New York in the Fifties." "The Awakener" is a terrific book and a great remembrance of Kerouac and the era!

Q: If you believe in reincarnation, do you think it is possible to be reborn into the past?
A: I don't believe or disbelieve in reincarnation. I am open to anything, but I just don't know. I'd like to come back as Babe Ruth.

Thanks, Dan Wakefield!

Here is more on Dan, a writer from Indianapolis, Indiana.

Dan Wakefield has approved the use of the above photo at this blog.

Holiday Party at The Comic Strip Live, 2009

Hello Bob and Gladys and Dean Obeidallah!


Who is this? Why it's Bob and Gladys and Howard Feller!


This is the very funny Michele Balan.


This is the inimitable Robin Byrd.


This is the great and talented Nore Davis.


See ya next year!


These photos are from the 2008 holiday party at The Comic Strip.










These photos are from a 2008 event at the Drama Book Shop:



These were taken in November 2008, at an event at the Drama Book Shop with Ilene Kristen and Brian Gari. I am holding Brian's book "We Bombed in New London." I also got his mother's book "Don't Wear Silver in the Winter" which is about her relationship with her own mother. I could not put it down and read it in one sitting.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

'Tis the Season

In 1897, Virginia O'Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of The New York Sun. This was her letter:

Dear Editor:
I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, "If you see it in THE SUN it's so." Please tell me the truth. Is there a Santa Claus?
Virginia O'Hanlon
115 West 95th Street

These are photos of 115 West 95th Street that I took today.


Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus.

And this is a photo I took around the holidays that I call "Cute in NY."

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Beat Poetry Contest

My poem, "WHAT WAY TO GO TODAY," was chosen as the first place winner of the Beat Poetry Contest at: The Daily Beat. Please go to Rick Dale's website to read my poem. And thank-you, Rick!

Here, as well, is my Jack Kerouac inspired poem.

WHAT WAY TO GO TODAY
by Marjorie J. Levine

Almost dusk:
Last summer on one Wednesday, in July,
I sat on a bench, a grey wooden tired
Bench on a boardwalk out at old Long Beach.
In the sky a lonely and lost grey kittiwake tipped
As the hot pink sun set in blazing technicolor over
Hot pinkish sand and the fading blue ocean water.

That morning:
I had thought about seeing great art...
Vermeer, or Courbet, or maybe Monet.
But, I drove to the beach instead to think
To think about everything creative that had been
Created before I got here, and when I was here,
And what will be created when I leave this place.
When one day I leave my place and all places in my
Consciousness that is now in this time and was
At a past time and will be in some next time;
Maybe all time exists at the same time.
The great minds of theoretical physicists search
For the "Theory of Everything" as they sit
In their cluttered rooms, their great thinking rooms.
In universities, they ponder the mathematical equations
And Schrodinger's cat and all those mysteries.

In the evening:
It is during the quiet and still and sad night when
I miss most the people I never met:
Edie Beale, and the Rat Pack, and even Rod Serling
Who made me want to time travel: to go back to simpler places
Like Nedick's, or the Belmore, or Bickford's, and Willoughby.
Then the longing, a longing when distant sounds and faraway
Foghorns drive thoughts to reflect on a life visible through some
Smoky cracked mirror, a haunted and haunting steamy mirror.
As I am sort of old now and getting older
There is a vague and odd feeling that I,
Like the kittiwake, somehow must have lost the way.

© 2009 Marjorie Levine

WHAT WAY TO GO TODAY


Here's my poem that won Rick Dale's Beat Poetry Contest on December 3, 2009.

WHAT WAY TO GO TODAY

Almost dusk:
Last summer on one Wednesday, in July,
I sat on a bench, a grey wooden tired
Bench on a boardwalk out at old Long Beach.
In the sky a lonely and lost grey kittiwake tipped
As the hot pink sun set in blazing technicolor over
Hot pinkish sand and the fading blue ocean water.

That morning:
I had thought about seeing great art...
Vermeer, or Courbet, or maybe Monet.
But, I drove to the beach instead to think
To think about everything creative that had been
Created before I got here, and when I was here,
And what will be created when I leave this place.
When one day I leave my place and all places in my
Consciousness that is now in this time and was
At a past time and will be in some next time;
Maybe all time exists at the same time.
The great minds of theoretical physicists search
For the "Theory of Everything" as they sit
In their cluttered rooms, their great thinking rooms.
In universities, they ponder the mathematical equations
And Schrodinger's cat and all those mysteries.

In the evening:
It is during the quiet and still and sad night when
I miss most the people I never met:
Edie Beale, and the Rat Pack, and even Rod Serling
Who made me want to time travel: to go back to simpler places
Like Nedick's, or the Belmore, or Bickford's, and Willoughby.
Then the longing, a longing when distant sounds and faraway
Foghorns drive thoughts to reflect on a life visible through some
Smoky cracked mirror, a haunted and haunting steamy mirror.
As I am sort of old now and getting older
There is a vague and odd feeling that I,
Like the kittiwake, somehow must have lost the way.

© Marjorie Levine 2009

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A literary tour, Chelsea/Greenwich Village/Morningside Heights

This is 454 West 20th Street, where Jack Kerouac, in 1951, wrote "On The Road."


I stood in front of the door through which he must have passed so many times.


And this is the southwest corner of West 20th Street where: "Dean, ragged in a motheaten overcoat he bought specially for the freezing temperatures of the East, walked off alone..."


"and the last I saw of him he rounded the corner of Seventh Avenue, eyes on the street ahead, and bent to it again."


In her heartfelt memoir, "The Awakener," Helen Weaver writes about her love affair with Jack Kerouac. She met him in November 1956, when at 7:00 on a Sunday morning he arrived with Allen Ginsberg at her apartment in 307 West 11th Street. This is a photo of that building that I took today.


After Helen Weaver viewed the above photo, she told me at her website in her own blog (in a reply to one of my comments) that her "window was on the lefthand side above the picture frame." I had actually taken several photos, so here is one that I believe gives a view of her window... which I think is either right behind the blue bag dangling from that tree or the window to the right of that blue bag. You can see the windows more clearly if you click on the photo to enlarge it.


This is a view of the White Horse Tavern from the front of 307 West 11th Street.


This is now 325 West 13th Street, which is the location where Helen lived when she met Lenny Bruce. I do not know when this building was built... and it looks fairly new. The building where Helen lived may have been torn down for the construction of this newer apartment house.


This is 346 West 15th Street and it is where Allen Ginsberg lived from 1951 to 1952. It is where Jack Kerouac was introduced to Gregory Corso.


And this is a view of the block.


This is 149 West 21st Street and it was where Lucien Carr lived from 1950 to 1951. He and Jack Kerouac were friends and Jack visited him often. Bill Cannastra also lived in a nearby building that is now a parking lot.


And this is a view of the block.


added on January 21, 2010:
This is the front door of 421 West 118th Street, where Jack Kerouac lived with Edie Parker in the early 1940s.


This is 421 West 118th Street.


This is West 118th Street, looking toward Morningside Drive.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

On the Street Where I Live, a movie set

It was bleak and rainy in NYC today so when I finally left my apartment at about 4:30 PM to go downstairs to run some errands, I was surprised to walk out of my building and onto the set of "The Other Guys," starring Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Wahlberg, and Will Ferrell. All the trailers were lined up in front of my buidling. They were filming a scene in Peter McManus Cafe which is on the corner of my block. I saw a few good exterior photo ops, but when they started to shoot the outdoor scene some set guy said I couldn't take any pictures with a flash. So, I went upstairs and listened to some Bessie Smith and had a cup of coffee with a danish. Every day is an adventure in this naked city...




Monday, November 16, 2009

Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt, reality TV couple



I was in the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle and decided to go up to Borders. I saw a notice saying Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt would be doing a signing for their new book, "How to be Famous." I smelled a photo op and got a few pictures before I decided to take a hike down to Godiva Chocolatier for my free monthly truffle. I chose raspberry dark chocolate. I am always health conscious!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Storme DeLarverie, of the Jewel Box Review


I was more than excited today when I bumped into the legendary Storme DeLarverie as I was exiting the Clearview's Chelsea Cinema after seeing "2012." I have known Storme for years and years... because at one time she lived in my apartment building. I was rushed and Storme was going home... so we did not have time for an interview. But, I did have time to take her photo and it appears above at this blog with a photo taken in 1958.

The photo from 1958 appears below and is a photo of my family on the night we went to Ben Maksik's Town and Country Club, on Flatbush Avenue and Avenue V in Brooklyn, NY. We went that night with the Parkers and the Cranes to see the "Jewel Box Revue." The infamous Jewel Box Revue was a popular "drag" performance group which toured America and the ensemble was composed of about 24 males dressed beautifully as females and one biological female dressed in a suit as a man. That man was Storme and she was in the show that evening as the MC and male impersonator.

I had no idea at the time that so many years later I would meet the star of the show, Storme DeLarverie, and that 51 years after that night I would be walking in Chelsea and hear the wonderful and recognizeable voice of Storme calling, "Hey, doll." In so many imaginative and wonderful ways, bumping into Storme tonight helped me end the day with a smile.

I am hoping to interview Storme soon, but until that time please learn more about her here:

WOMEN MAKE MOVIES

Storme: Lady of the Jewel Box

Jewel Box Revue

even more Jewel Box Revue

interview with Terry

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Friends of Old-Time Radio, a convention

October 24, 2009: The Holiday Inn in Newark, NJ
Wow! RadioLovers.com



This is the very talented, Brian Gari. He is an outstanding panel host who is exceedingly knowledgeable and he moves things along with a huge amount of enthusiasm and contagious joy. He and Stu Weiss moderated a discussion with guests Clay Cole, Eugene Pitt, Tracey Dey, and Billy Goldenberg. The hour included film and audio clips.
Brian is the grandson of Eddie Cantor.
Here is my interview from last April with Brian Gari.


This is the very beautiful Janet Cantor Gari, the daughter of the phenomenal entertainer, Eddie Cantor. She is Brian Gari's mother.


This is the infamous hoaxer, Alan Abel.


This is Tracey Dey, Clay Cole, and Brian Gari.


This is the legendary Joe Franklin. At the convention, he was the host of the Joe Franklin Show with Mary Owen, Lillian Murphy (Harvest of the Stars) and Cherie Becker (wife of Sandy Becker).


This is "Billy" Goldenberg. He is the composer who wrote the scores for many of Steven Spielberg's films and also for the TV series Kojak and the TV series Columbo.


This is the great Eugene Sampson Pitt who sang with "The Jive Five."


I had the pleasure of meeting Mary Owen, the daughter of Donna Reed, at the convention. She told me about letters she found that were written to her mother. Mary Owen speaks in the NYTimes about the G.I. letters sent to her mother, Donna Reed, during WW II.