Saturday, December 18, 2010

EASY STREET

On Roxbury Drive,
In Beverly Hills, there's an air of
Leafy radiance that settles in and
Lingers until the bewitching hour
When the dusk comes and trances
These special swells into some
Hypnotic splendor.

The dark arrives as usual
And everybody settles in as usual
And there is nothing unusual
In these perfumed rooms.

And then the morning arrives,
The sun rises on this street
Shining a sharp light letting
All those who live on other streets
Know they don't live on easy street.

© 2010 Marjorie Levine

REMEMBERING AN OLD STREET

On Main Street,
On Martha's Vineyard, I am
Filled with bittersweet memories.
I remember Main Street...
I was there, so long ago.

I can still smell that ocean air,
So briny and salty and
All those summers come
Flooding back.

The day we ate in the diner
And how the jukebox blared all
The songs we loved.

In spite of all the quaintness
Of that lovely and charming place
I longed with desperation
To be some place else.

I suppose we are what we carry
Inside us and in spite of that
Heady beauty, whenever I was there
I longed to be somewhere else.

I suppose there are places that always
Make us want to go home.

© 2010 Marjorie Levine

THESE DAYS

On the Promenade,
In Blackpool, exquisite wonder
And bright colors create an intense
Kaleidoscope of magical fun.

There's a high tower and
Amusements and prizes and
Horse drawn carriages riding next to
Modern cars.

On the pier, there's a Ferris Wheel with
Rotating gondolas perfectly suited for
Grand and glorious views
Of luminous illuminations.

Luminous illuminations
All right by the sea
By the sea, so all the children
Who come here
Will remember these days.

© 2010 Marjorie Levine

Friday, December 17, 2010

PRETTY WALK

On East Guenther Street,
In San Antonio, I felt I should
Be wearing fancy ribbons in my hair
Because the houses are so pretty.

I passed by houses that are
Treasures with artistically sculptured
Facades and stunning lace screened
Verandas where guests might dine
On tea cakes spread out on crisp white
Doilies and later when the sun goes
Down, talk of small things that matter
And rinse their hands in dainty
Finger bowls to keep things fresh.

There's a place to stand to view the
Spot where the breathless
Flowing river passes through
Bringing a sense of sameness.

I got lost on this intoxicating street,
Longed to stay, and knew I could return.
There's a sense of serenity in this old
Comfort as the sunlight falls on this same
Street as it has fallen on this street forever.

© 2010 Marjorie Levine

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

GOING THE OTHER WAY

On Larimer Street,
In Denver, I went the wrong way
Because the sun was endlessly bright
And my eyes hurt.

So, I winced and decided to turn
Around and see a different view
And go the other way.
I longed for night, so the darkness
Might blur the vision.

In sunlight, there were too many new
Things and I longed for the
Old buildings; these pieces didn't fit.

This music is too now,
And the haircuts are too today.
These silvery parked bicycles
Have taken short trips.
The billiard club fills me with despair
For times gone by so I go over
And look at all the hanging beads for
Making necklaces, as if they held a key to
Some magical thinking and wearing beads
Could bring back what once was.

I wondered if this pawn shop
Accepts memories,
And keeps them safe
Until later when the memories
Are bought back.

Nobody finds places long gone.
But, taking back memories
Makes me smile.
On this street,
It would be fitting.

© 2010 Marjorie Levine

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

ORDINARY THINGS

On Main Street,
In Northport, there is a
Guy standing in the middle of the street
Wearing an orange helmet
And a lady, riding a bicycle on the sidewalk,
Wearing a pale straw sun hat
And two children walking home from school
Wearing book bags and carrying skateboards.

A beautiful house proudly displays the flag,
There are two churches on both sides
When you reach Church Street
And one has lovely pink flowers in front.
There's a post office, a bank,
The fire department announcing
The "Fireman's Fair"...

In front of pristine houses on a crisp clear
Day ordinary things are happening
Where extraordinary things happened.
Nothing remarkable here at all
To speak of the remarkable man that
Once lived here.

Pass through this town, keep driving
Keep going, don't look over your shoulder
Keep going until you read the end:
The water with the boats and the looming
Hill on the other side
And you know you can't turn back.

© 2010 Marjorie Levine

SET IN STONE

On Pineview Street,
In Rocky Mount, there is an old cemetery:
The place where the dead go.
One grave had nice fresh pink flowers
To whisper that somebody is missed.

Not many graves, but very old stones
Broken and chipped stones set in tired dirt
Seen through windows of houses that
Line that still street.

Some houses set way back
As if to separate the living
From the dead.

And then, I saw a children's swing set,
And the sun trying to peek through
To perhaps lift a sense of deep gloom.

© 2010 Marjorie Levine

THE SWANKY PLACE

On Cherry Street,
In Denver, I suppose nothing
Much has changed.

Maybe some things.
There's a liquor store on one corner
And a Mexican restaurant on the other.
With one breath,
The street is inside of me.

The beckoning street that held
The door through which he left to
Go up to the mountains, see an
Opera, and eat swell food:
The swanky place.

There is comfort in knowing
That not much changes:
In some places, time may indeed
Stand still.

The street is quiet now;
I think nobody is home.
And it does look like it will soon rain.

© 2010 Marjorie Levine

SEEING ALMOST NOTHING

On Repatriation Road,
In Pickering Brook, I drove
For a long time
And saw almost nothing
Except the narrow road
Ahead and trees on both sides
With nothing behind me
And nothing ahead of me.
Then, I saw a tractor on one side
And a low gate on the other and
I knew I was reaching a place.
Some place.

Then, I saw a tiny little house
All alone there behind some flowers.
It had a front porch with old chairs
And some other muted things.
In front of the house was a tree,
Three times taller than the house!
I kept going.
I kept going
Chasing the end of that road.
Until I reached the end of the road.
Literally.
And then I went back home.

© 2010 Marjorie Levine

Saturday, December 11, 2010

WHAT REMAINS

On Merrimack Street,
In Lowell, there's a signpost
That says: Detour.

Maybe he never should have
Taken the other road,
Maybe he should have gone
Back, gone the other way
And stayed on these roads.

The air at the end of these
Roads becomes thick and
Dense and there is fog.

Here, on lonely low bleak cloudy days
There are quiet somber and grey
Places: big old several storied houses
With many front steps and slanted roofs
And lots of windows for eye prints.

The houses on University Avenue
From long ago are comforting with
Stubborn intoxicating attics whispering
Secrets obsessed with what
Was, so returning to this street
Reveals air like a strange pentimento.

Old stores with faded signs, corner
Places that never ever yielded or
Changed and they don't bend, they
Remain strong, proud, and solid.

If he stayed for more than a short
Time he always heard the swing
Music; drizzling so he could remember.
At night, in dreams, when
The way became lost, he
Soon realized he never left.
All that time, all those years
His eyes were just closed.
The boarded up windows gave
Him reasons to cry.

Now, this is the end of the seductive
Road, his forever destination:
A place that always surfaced
When sad dreams and deep
Longing finally fell away...
And he had to return to this place
Like a traveler who finally uses his
Return trip ticket.
Home.

© 2010 Marjorie Levine

Friday, December 10, 2010

HOT WATERCOLORS

At Plaja Jupiter,
On Strada Brindisi, look at the
Wonderful things and colorful things:

Rich green and pink stuff to take home
And even more stuff to chew and eat
So the sense of wonder is remembered.

Blue water on one side of the sandy heat
And huge proud swans wait on the water
On the other side, and never move.

Later, the day perhaps will become
Fragmented but the sense of wonder
Might never become blurred.

© 2010 Marjorie Levine

NOBODY HOME

Between Muirfield Road and Culduthel Road,
In Inverness, there is a street with no name.
But, you can get there.

An old stone building is quietly hidden
Surrounded by a low iron gate
In a lush green fragrant forest.
All sad sounds have fallen away
The many footprints are gone
And all that is left is the still.

The now boarded up windows
Allow no lights from inside to
Show the way home
And I think
Nobody is home
In this long ago forgotten home.

© 2010 Marjorie Levine

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

THE LITTLE FLOWER SHOP

On Sternwartstrade,
In Munich, there is a charming little
Flower shop in a tiny little building
With a green and white
Striped awning.

It was tempting to stand and
Gaze at the technicolor flattered
Flowers.

But, I spun around to also see
Red flowers on tall stems
In front of a house covered in
Gorgeous green ivy.

© 2010 Marjorie Levine

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

BECAUSE I COULD

On Saatwinkler Damm,
In Berlin, I stood on the far sidewalk
And watched.

With lush green trees behind me,
No traffic in front of me, only parked cars
I gazed at the canal in in the distance.

And the little white boat passed by
With a high carefree rider whose back was
To me, so he didn't see me.

I waited and watched and
Watched and watched for some time
Because I could.

© 2010 Marjorie Levine

Sunday, December 5, 2010

TO GET TO THIS PLACE

On Aleppo Road,
In New Freeport, there are wonderful
things, rich and wonderful things.

Old houses made of dark crumbling
Wood that remembers what was,
A dry waterless sandy creek
And an old and tired bench
Where an old grandmother sat
And turned, with bent and gnarled
Fingers, the pages of a book
While whispering magical words
That filled a child's imagination.

Keep moving past a graveyard where
Old and broken and long forgotten cars
That yesterday were shiny new cars that
Once took children to faraway colorful fairs.

And past some jumping deer going up a
Steep hill to get back to the forest to hide,
To get back to familiar safe places.

A shiny white gazebo stands alone on
The grand grass where dolls sit
Wearing fancy hats and having sweet tea.

To get to this place you will need to
Go the other way, go that other way,
Go a different way to be taken away.

© 2010 Marjorie Levine

THE GHOSTS OF GAY STREET

On Gay Street,
In New York City, there are quaint
Red and white and orange houses that are
Intoxicating because they are so old and little.

There is a building with turquoise shutters and
There are pinks and red and white flowers in
Lovely window pots and green trees
To the left and to the right.

The facade is frozen, but not the living...
Or the dead.

It is said that number 12 is...
Haunted. Maybe so.

But,
It is the house across the street where I see
A ghost.
She is peeking out from the second floor window
On the left side of an orange brick building.

She has bushy eyebrows and one hair roller
Sits on the top of her head.

Her mouth is open as if she is startled and
She appears to be more frightened than the
Tourists who down below night and day
Haunt the street looking for the
Ghosts of Gay Street.

© 2010 Marjorie Levine

Friday, December 3, 2010

NARROW STREET

On Villa Silla,
In Scanno, the low and narrow street
Has a quiet outdoor cafe with tables
Covered in yellow tablecloths.

One man dines alone
Next to and under purple
Red and pink flowers.
Gorgeous proud balconies are
Set into buildings with old grey
Chipped and broken stone.

A little store down the path displays
Colorful children's clocks:
Bunnies and elephants and angels
Designed to make the children laugh.

From another high window, freshly washed
Towels hang and down below mothers
Gather to talk and soon walk with their babies.

Flower pots sit on small steps,
Leading up to a home where another woman
Is standing above the street looking down
From a wide open window near a bird feed
And she too is hanging the wash out to dry.

And then nothing moves and all is frozen.
Only the wash; the wash flying in front of that
Large foreboding mountain under a crisp
And clear blue and white sky.

© 2010 Marjorie Levine

THIS HEADY ELIXIR

On Clifton Hill,
In Niagara Falls, there is a soft intoxicating
Smell in the air of sweet and heady nostalgia.
Walkers cross the street to a bright lush green
Park and the water is then behind them as a
Light mist sprays their backs and the
Visuals turn into blurred memories
Set in stone.

All the excitement is about to begin.
There is a turquoise haunted house,
A beckoning moving theater,
The wax museum,
And a souvenir shop:
It's a massive swirling kaleidoscope of
Dreamlike and almost surreal color.

Then, in the center of all this heady elixir
Is a glorious and perfect SkyWheel,
Where I imagine children sit with parents
High up above it all, setting the graphics into
What will years later seem almost
Hallucinogenic.

© 2010 Marjorie Levine

Thursday, December 2, 2010

SCENES FROM LONG AGO

On Beard Street,
In Kernersville, there are colorful
Wall murals which give glimpses
Into what was, long ago.

I saw ladies in billowing long
Red and white dresses standing
With gentlemen wearing tall hats
All waiting at the railroad station
For family arriving from faraway places.
Soon, they would all step into a horse
Drawn carriage to take a short ride home.

Nobody looked up to see the child
Perched high above who on bleak days
After school would climb to the flat roof
To wait for the trains to pass.

The trains were carrying weary passengers
Traveling to faraway places, and they were
Also going home.

Many years later, she would remember
The sound of the whistle as the trains
Passed and she would speak of the sound
As both sad and mournful,
Perhaps because it always
Strangely reminded
Her of all times past.

© 2010 Marjorie Levine
for Frances Slade

BY THE SEA

On Coast Road,
in Larne, two people stand
Between the purple rocky cliffs and the
Pale colorless sea on the other side of
Yellow and purple flowers.

Cars pass by with drivers and passengers
Whose faces I will never see.
There is an open gate with a path that
Leads to an unseen place.

And soon, there is a sign that says,
"Boats," and then the sky turns magically blue.
But, in the distance the clouds are so low that
They touch the water.

© 2010 Marjorie Levine

Monday, November 29, 2010

PICTURE PERFECT

On Tazewell Avenue Southeast,
In Roanoke, some houses sit very high
Above the street under a bleak grey sky.
The trees are suffering and bent and leafless
And the air appears to be chillingly cold.

I wonder who climbs those long steep
Staircases to sit closer to that foreboding
Sky, where clouds cling together trying hard
Not to let thin patches of blue peek through
Because the view might be less mysterious.

© 2010 Marjorie Levine

Thursday, November 25, 2010

OPTICAL ILLUSION

On Edinburgh Street,
In Winnipeg, parts of the ground were still
Covered in snow under a crisp blue and
White sky that almost crackled with sharp
Definition and clarity.

It was there that I turned a corner
And stopped at a driveway and saw
In the icy cold snow carved footprints
That finally reached an almost
Tropically lighted home.

© 2010 Marjorie Levine

STANDING STILL

On Højdevangs Allé,
In Copenhagen, the flowers
That line the street
Are so fragrant that two
Women stopped walking.

They stood between two buildings
To look at small blue flowers on
One side while purple and white
Flowers flourished without moving
Behind them, on the other side.

© 2010 Marjorie Levine

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

THIS PENTIMENTO

Via Comandante Simone Guli,
In Palermo, a street so old that
High above wives still hang the wash
Out over the black iron balcony gates
Next to green leaves and blue and white
Striped curtains falling out of windows.

Once children stood there with mothers,
Waiting for fathers to return home.
The red flowers now sit high over sad
Graffiti and a tobacco shop which
Serves as some reminder not
To obscure the view.

© 2010 Marjorie Levine

Monday, November 22, 2010

NAKED AMNESIAC



DAWN ON SEVENTH AVENUE

There is a moment of quiet stillness
Right before sunrise, before light;
When a clammy breeze passes
Through Manhattan
And nothing moves, nothing stirs.
My pristine gown clings in the humidity
Like translucent second skin.

I awaken, not knowing if it is evening...
Or morning.
See my reflection
In the haze of this smoky cracked mirror:
This is all I have ever been,
And all I will never be.


SPINSTERS AND GHOSTS

It is murky and dim down the street
Where an unforgiving lonely spinster
Lives almost protected under blankets
Of carefully crocheted elixirs.

Here- where the ghosts of ancestors,
Sitting on the moss of invisible oaks,
Offer kind words of encouragement
Adding seconds to midnight
When dreams turn to film noir.

There- where starry-eyed children
With handsome fathers
Would spin until dusk... or dawn
On a forgotten Ferris wheel
Left behind by the carnival
After roadsters skidded home along
Slippery highways.

Now- up on a vacant fifth floor
The weariest is carefully coifed and rouged,
Sitting on the other side of gold brocade.
Bloodless thighs wrapped in an opaque afghan,
She is clinging to a teacup of cold chamomile.

Later, she shares ambrosia with gods.
Then in a final gesture,
She scrapes and scrapes the bottom of her dish
Searching for one last drop.


OBSESSIVE-COMPULSIVE DISORDER

I catch a subtle whiff of dried lavender
As the director, a wiry-haired widow,
Lights a cigarette and with a simple single
Gesture flicks the ashes into the palm of her
Fashionably tattooed and manicured left hand.

“There is no need to state your full name;
Just speak of the fear, the constant fear,”
The director coaches.
Behind us, the steady swing and flutter of
Gold diaphanous curtains as a clammy, familiar breeze
Passes through the old chartreuse theater.

We describe strange, tormenting, ritualistic behavior:
Washing, checking, hoarding... mental anguish so
Exquisite the weariest sheds mellifluous tears:
“I’ve shared ambrosia with gods;
At midnight, demons turn my terror to film noir.”

That evening, I dream of solitude
And the transmigration of souls...
One lonely soul wishing to return
Washed in amnesia, hypnotized and untainted.

When I awaken, it is still dark-
Down below, the street is eternally bathed
In disconsolate orange moonlight...
Trapped in an endless maze of mirrors.


THE BOARDER

Long ago...
A child rested on a maroon sofa
In the still musty living room
Of her grandmother’s house.
The house was decorated with gold tassels
And white lace and starched doilies...
And it trapped a scent of burnt potato pancakes.
At night, the ghosts of ancestors sucked the juice
From the peaches of a backyard tree.

A fake fireplace electrically glowed
Orange-yellowish and whispered in
All seasons the child was home.
On a maroon table, sat an
Incandescent pink seashell...
“Hold it to your ear and you can hear
The sounds of the ocean,” ventriloquists urged.

The steady whir and flutter of the slats
Of off-white Venetian blinds lulled her
As chill winds passed through Brooklyn.

At dusk, the front door opened and
A man, wearing gray and gray,
Silently traipsed through the house
To “his room” and he closed “his door.”
He was home, too.

The grandmother called the man
Just “the boarder.”
The child only glanced up as he passed and
He never spoke to her... nor she to him.

On the clearest of days she cannot even recall
His face... yet she stares at him whenever chill
Winds pass through Manhattan.


NAP TIME

At dusk, a dream through stained glass:
In a hazy deciduous forest, I am almost naked-
Pristine gown clinging like translucent second skin,
Chartreuse satin slippers, cheeks pale porcelain rose,
And humidity turning my hair burnt sienna.
The scent of dried lavender drifts through trees-
“Alone in nature, by nature,” ventriloquists murmur.
Bejeweled spiders, resting on carefully crocheted cobwebs,
Melancholy widows, eyes green tourmaline,
A soldier seduced by indifference...
Haunted beauty washed forever in soft pink light.

A fading fragrant French cologne-
Earlier a sweet intoxicating elixir- melting and melted.
An elusive black-throated warbler,
Pausing on a great oak, bears witness:
An icon is shedding mellifluous silver tears,
Reflecting my grandfather, wrapped in his tallit
Stirring, turning, saying, “You look very familiar to me.”

A clammy breeze passes through Manhattan.
I awaken this time, awakened last time,
Acquiescent and still, not knowing
If it is evening... or morning.


TWO DAYS

One hot sunny Sunday, in July, at Long Beach:
An amnesiac sat on the boardwalk watching
A strolling lady who was carrying a pearl-handled parasol.
A handsome soldier passed holding a love letter that was
Written on a faded lace white doily and a lonely spinster
Stared at vague images in the sand...
Lines soon to be scattered by an insouciant breeze.

An innocent, guileless, sienna-haired child
Paddled to shore in a teacup.

This is what happened on a hazy sunless Sunday,
In mid-August, at Westhampton.
A spiritual man, who once posed as an amnesiac,
Conducted past life regression sessions
In an old chartreuse theater and
A tattooed director, with wild cinematic aspirations,
Filmed the event in shades of mysterious gray.

Later, I rested on sands
And watched one lost kittiwake fly
In circles overhead while an organ played
Music from an invisible carousel.

I listened to the ocean and
Imagined mermaids swimming painlessly
In peaceful and seductive warm waters.

A sienna-haired child
Stepped out of a floating teacup,
And walked with sea legs
Along colorless sands.

Sometimes before twilight,
I think of those two days.


SWEATING MADNESS

Speak to me in hushed tones
And tell me who stole the peaches
From the old backyard tree
The night I danced the fandango
In front of a closed automat.
As the humidity of that evening
Turned my hair a burnt sienna
An elastic lady teased, “Tsk tsk,”
Because the chartreuse slippers I wore
Were not even my own.

Siamese twins took turns
Stroking the belly of an insect
That rested on the sterling silver tray
I held in my outstretched left hand.
A fading fragrant French cologne-
Earlier a sweet elixir-
Melted under the neon lights
At the very moment
The tattooed film director
Held a lit match to her cigarette
And started a small fire.

And the charlatan I once loved
Did a few fancy smart steps and knew,
As usual, I would forget.


MURMURS IN THE DARKNESS

She is not the first tenant who weeps
Into that stained pillow at night.

She limps to the window
And peeks out to face the pale moon
Jumping from one side to the other
While the heat of the evening
Becomes even more oppressive.

So! That bright star is not a star, after all!
“It is Jupiter,” she murmurs.
The strange sound of a fog horn,
In the clear night, seems to place
Her in one moment and then another.

She tries to remember what
Passed from there to here,
From one time to this time...
But she is lost now like a
Prisoner in this nightmare,
This fantasy...

This fantasy or nightmare
In a thick veil of darkness.


THE WAY I LIVE

My memories have always been vague-
Arriving at dawn on Seventh Avenue
Or at the beach on a sunny hot Sunday,
Visible as peculiar visions in colorless sands.

In an old chartreuse theater, a wiry-haired
Director captured a slight shadowy piece
In muted shades of gray and gray.
But, I danced the wild fandango
In front of a closed automat
To try to forget.

Then one day I remembered
Everything, just like that...
Just as smooth as slipping into
Second skin.

But whether I remember
Or choose to forget,

The forgotten has always determined
The way in which I have lived.


KIDDIE RIDES

I awakened and longed with desperation
To return to Brooklyn.
I wanted to ride until dawn on a creaky
Ferris wheel left behind by a carnival and
To visit the still standing luminous
Chartreuse home of my grandmother.
Memories behind stained glass windows
Beckoned like some naked amnesiac
Who struggles to reach home.

In the air, I could still smell the fullbodied scent
Of burnt potato pancakes that wafted through that
House and I often glimpsed the ghosts of ancestors
Lurking and sucking juice from the backyard peach tree.
I longed with desperation to return to old Brooklyn.

At 5 P.M. I slipped into my car
And drove south through Manhattan.
The pink sun soon sizzled on the Hudson River
And set, to my right, in bright blazing Technicolor.
In the distance, one kittiwake
Seemed to have found the way.

I headed for the elixir of the spinning
Teacups: the kiddie rides at intoxicating
Coney Island... in the most haunted and
Haunting of places: Brooklyn.

© 2010 Marjorie Levine

from The New York Sun

Letter to the Editor, July 20, 2004

Letters to the Editor
July 20, 2004

After I read "Education By Smoke and Mirrors," I sadly concluded that a discussion of the problems in the New York City schools has "jumped the shark" [Andrew Wolf, Opinion, July 9, 2004].

In Region 9's "Third Grade Summer Success Academy," the teachers were given a manual that has been adapted from the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project 2004.

The Balanced Literacy Program consists of a 95-minute Reading Workshop and a 55-minute Writing Workshop.

The components of the program include a read-aloud, independent reading, conferences, shared reading, guided reading, writing minilessons, independent writing, and word work.

The 2 1/2-hour block is so micromanaged that it includes prepared dialogue for the instruction of the children. When teachers help students choose a "just-right" nonfiction book, they are told what to say in order to model thinking:

"Hmm. Here's a book titled 'My Farm.' I've already read a lot about farms, and I don't want to learn more about farms right now. This is not a just-right book for me. It's not interesting."

Then, "Hmm. Here's a book called spiders. I've always been interested in spiders. Let me try reading a page. (Teacher reads page 10 fluently.) I'm used to reading a book with more words on a page and even some harder words. I think I won't learn enough. This is not a just-right book for me. It's too easy."

The teacher goes through a scripted process and then randomly distributes one nonfiction book to each student. She says, "Take a look at the book I just gave you. Decide if it is a just-right book for you by deciding if it's interesting, and checking a page to see that it's not too easy or too hard - a book you can make sense of while you're reading. Then turn and tell your partner what you were thinking.

At first glance, the lessons in the summer curriculum may be impressive and seem effectively crafted for successful results.

But, experienced traditional teachers would consider this learning model to be a major farce, where education has moved into the surreal world of "The Stepford Wives."

As more time passes, the articles on education seem to have deteriorated into redundant pieces "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." I shake my head in disbelief and I am glad I am retired.

MARJORIE J. LEVINE
Manhattan



Letter to the Editor, October 10, 2006

Letters to the Editor
October 10, 2006

‘The Spin Doctors'

Andrew Wolf states [Op-ed, "The Spin Doctors," September 29-October 1, 2006], "This prevalent teaching methodology is the common thread that directs our national march to mediocrity."

At almost the end of my thirty-four year long teaching career, I was directed to change the seating arrangement in my classroom from rows to groups, develop an atmosphere of "productive noise," and construct mini-lessons. The new "balanced literacy" model was filled with layered components and the classroom was mandated to be have visual and heady appeal.

A student shortly pleaded to "go back to the old way of learning," which was a more no-frills and basic textbook approach. I discussed this with my supervisor, and I was told it was my fault my students didn't like the new style. I had not properly motivated the students or successfully implemented the model. The whole system has become like scenes in "Alice Through the Looking Glass."

MARJORIE LEVINE
New York, N.Y.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Two Schools, a teaching career

These were the two schools where I spent most of my teaching career. The first school literally was on the other side of the tracks... in "Hell's Kitchen." The other school was on the Lower East Side, "on the D." The parents loved me... they said "Miss Levine is the only teacher that can handle a class."
I was quite innovative. I kept the students seated in rows and I taught with a piece of chalk at the board. And I kept a quiet classroom where you could hear a pin drop. The students had basal readers and textbooks and notebooks filled with material. And I actually gave spelling tests on Fridays.


A Manhattan Ghost Town, a "sunken corridor"

When I was a teacher at the pink school in the above photo, the low area in the photo was just simply called "the train tracks." I used to tell people that there were days the teachers and students had to walk over dead bodies to get into the school. I was often misunderstood. My listeners believed that I was telling them in some obtuse way that corpses blocked the entrance to the school. That was not the case. The bodies were found as they lay forgotten along these railroad tracks. They were often discovered by some "hobo" or other "drifter" as they wandered along these winding paths rummaging with long sticks through the piles of debris that were strewn along the way.

These days the "sunken corridor" exists in stark contrast to the much discussed more southern "highline." These tracks are between 10th and 11th Avenues and are visible on both 44th and 45th Street through the cracks of the silver fences. I looked north and I looked south through those openings, and I took photos of this amazing sight last year. I was even able to catch a shot of a train down below as it traveled south and whizzed by under the overpass on which I was standing. But, the photo could not be developed for some bizarre technical reasons. They are totally blank.
I returned the next day and took more photos, but unfortunately no train passed through. After waiting for quite some time for another locomotive photo op, I was told by a young teacher exiting the school that no trains even use those tracks any longer. I was confused, but I relished my eery moment and I left with a great sense of glee: my wonderful shot of that "phantom train" will now exist only in my memory as it sped quickly south on a rainy Thursday afternoon. It carried invisible passengers to some unknown downtown destination in... "The Twilight Zone."
Please enjoy these photos of the "sunken corridor" which still sits on a vista that now resembles a forgotten and neglected and worn out Manhattan ghost town.



These tracks pass from a "sunken corridor" to the famous "highline" as they stretch south through Manhattan.


That day, I visited the Allen Sheppard Gallery on West 25th Street and viewed the amazing photos of this highline by James Bleeker. And here is my photo of the highline that I took on West 25th Street as I left the gallery.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Francis Cape, The Other End of the Line



At the High Line: outside the trailer





At the High Line: inside the trailer





Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Helen Weaver, writer

an encore, from April 2010:


Shortly after I read the heartfelt and bittersweet memoir, "The Awakener," I contacted Helen Weaver. I was enthralled with her memories of her love affair with Jack Kerouac. We began to communicate in E-mails... and today, I am happy to call Helen my friend.
Helen met Jack Kerouac 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 after I read the book. Helen was delighted with the photo, and she told me her window can be seen on the left, right behind the blue balloon.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Gallery Henoch

Gallery Henoch

Max Ferguson, "My Father at Katz's"



Max Ferguson, "Central Park Nocturne"



Max Ferguson, "Late in the Day"

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Angelino Heights

East Kensington Road



Carroll Avenue





from Wikipedia:

The Jewish Museum

The Jewish Museum: Houdini: Art and Magic.


from the NY Times

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Museum Visits

Museum of the City of New York: SAMURAI IN NEW YORK: THE FIRST JAPANESE DELEGATION, 1860.

Museum of the City of New York: NOTORIOUS AND NOTABLE: 20TH CENTURY WOMEN OF STYLE.

Time Warner Center: “Dalí: Vision of a Genius,” “Persistence of Memory” and “Woman Aflame.”



Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Melancholy

I had dined on sweet baklava at Gulluoglu
Every week for years
Feeling this way... or that way.

On one cold January melancholy day,
Under threatening skies, I wore my balaclava.

And in the distance, I imagined or imagined not
That I heard Chopin's Nocturne Op. 55 No. 1.

© 2010 Marjorie Levine


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Lonely Little Red Building

These are photos that I took of the building located on West 63rd Street.





33 West 63rd Street

And here is the little house on East 60th Street, across from Bloomingdale's, where a resident was also a "holdout." The large modern building was built around her home when she refused to leave.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Open House New York

I visited the residence of the architects Fairfax and Sammons, located at 183-185 West 4th St near 7th Ave South. These are two carriage houses that are fused together.

Open House New York

Friday, October 8, 2010

Nathan Wasserberger, painter

an encore, from 2009:

I was going to interview Nathan Wasserberger for this blog on Wednesday, April 15th, 2009. He called a few days before that date to cancel the interview and told me that he wanted to postpone for a month our project because he had some unfinished business. He said he wanted to remain in touch and work it out.

It is now October 2009, and I am very disappointed that this much anticipated interview did not happen as planned. Nathan Wasserberger has not contacted me to pursue an interview and while we did speak today on the phone, it appears an interview will not happen.

With good intentions, I post these paintings done by Mr. Wasserberger. You can learn a bit more about Nathan Wasserberger here. Nathan told me "literature lasts forever." And so does the impeccable and magnificent beauty of his work. Many of Nathan Wasserberger's color plates of his paintings are in the permanent archives of American Art in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.

"Sandra," 1957

"Old Man," 1964

"Girl in White Robe," 1982

Nathan Wasserberger is aware that his paintings appear at this blog.

Eva Deutsch Costabel, painter/author

an encore, from 2009:


I first met Eva Deutsch Costabel on the evening of Wednesday, April 27th, at a 10th police precinct community meeting. I was there to speak about bicycles and pedestrian safety. As I spoke, Eva cheered me on, and after the meeting she approached me and said she wanted to "team up" with me to call the issue to the attention of Mayor Bloomberg. I gave Eva my contact information and she called me the next morning. We spoke and discussed a plan regarding how to have the matter effectively addressed... and during that conversation she invited me to visit her on a Saturday afternoon. I had no idea I would become a community activist with such a talented and accomplished woman who has been the subject of so many interviews.

Eva Deutsch Costabel was born in Yugoslavia and she grew up in an upper middle class Viennese family. Her mother was a liberated woman who owned a children's store and her father was in the chemical business. In 1941, the Nazis invaded Yugoslavia. Eva's father was arrested and he was accused of sabotage and he was killed at Treblinka in Poland. Later, the Nazis came and Eva and her mother and sister had half an hour to leave their home. Eva told me that when the Nazis were in her home she accidentally knocked over a vase and a Nazi wanted to shoot her. She had to beg for her life because the Nazi told her that "broken glass brings bad luck." Eva felt like a helpless victim and this was the first experience that motivated her to later become an activist. Eva and her mother and sister were sent to an Italian concentration camp in Croatia. Eva told me that none of the Jews in that camp were killed because "Italians don't kill Jews." During WW II, Eva did drawings of peasants. After the camp was closed, she joined the partisan army and after the war her family lived in one room in Rome. Eventually, they came to the United States in 1949.

In America, Eva got a job painting roses on make-up compacts.... for one penny a rose. And she learned English. She worked on window displays and became a package designer, which was her career for thirty-four years. And years later, she taught graphics at FIT and at the Parsons School of Design.

Eva has written many children's books and they are in libraries in schools because they are historically accurate as Eva is an impeccable researcher. Her books include "New England Village," published by Scribner in 1981, "The Pennsylvania Dutch Farmers and Craftsman," published by MacMillan in 1983, "The Jews of New Amsterdam," published by MacMillan in 1986, and "The Early People of Florida," published by MacMillan in 1993. Eva has visited all of the places she has written about. She did the cover art, the stories, and all of the inside illustrations for her books.

Eva is an ardent supporter of Israel and she is involved in many projects. She balances her literary career with her paintings and projects and she has written a memoir. This article appeared in "Chelsea Now".

I took Eva's photo, but she kept asking to take mine... telling me she is an excellent photographer. Well, it came time to say "good-bye" and Eva kissed me and said "Shalom." Yes, "hello" Eva and thank-you for sharing part of your Saturday afternoon with me. You are an inspiration.

The above painting, "Self Portrait after Klimt," by Eva Deutsch Costabel appears at this blog with her written permission.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Old Photos

These four photos below were taken when I was about 30 years old.










And this was taken at my 60th birthday celebration at NYC's The Water Club.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The New York Film Festival




I went today to The New York Film Festival at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall to see, "Translating Edwin Honig: A Poet's Alzheimer's," a short documentary film by Alan Berliner. It is an excellent, remarkable, and very touching and moving film.

"Remember how to forget. No more."

Edwin Honig: eight poems

A View from the Street

This is a view of the street, looking south, in front of Lincoln Center. My pool is on the top floor of the building on the left. The views all the way up there of the Hudson River are amazing and the sunsets are glorious.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Me and Alice Quinn

In the early 1990s, I submitted many poems for consideration to THE NEW YORKER magazine. They were all rejected. This was a form rejection from Alice Quinn, who until 2007 was the poetry editor of THE NEW YORKER.




I was persistent, and the rejections began to have a personal touch. This was a rejection that was different from the generic form rejection. It was in 1991, and was for my poem, "April's Dance." I wanted to believe that the poem reached the next level and "the decision" then involved several opinions. It filled me with hope because I thought it indicated a few editors wanted to accept and publish my poem.




My notes indicate this rejection was for "Sweating Madness," which originally had the title "Shvitzin' Meshugas." The original poem had a joke about fallopian tubes, but after subsequent changes to that poem the reference was removed. Alice Quinn called my poem, "charming!" Then she added, "Always feel free to try us with your work." This rejection actually said my poem had "evident merit." I was deliriously happy and excited.




This rejection came in 1994 and was for the poem, "Nap Time." Alice Quinn said, "I appreciate seeing your work."




It did not matter that my poems were not accepted. Ms. Quinn validated the merit of my work. And for her grace and kindness, I will always be thankful. Many of the poems that were submitted to THE NEW YORKER appear in the memoir, "marjorie-pentimenti."

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Beyond COLOR: Color in American Photography 1950-1970

Yesterday, I went to the Bruce Silverstein Gallery to view:
Beyond COLOR: Color in American Photography 1950-1970.

Eliot Porter (1901 - 1990)



Marie Cosindas



Pete Turner (b. 1934)



Ruth Orkin (1921 - 1985)



Ernst Hass (1921 - 1986)



Harry Callahan (1912 - 1999)



Inge Morath (1923 - 2002)