Tag Archives: Prune

Desire Under The Elms Part 1-May 16th 2009

A cool foggy Saturday morning in May, I’m sitting in a nearly empty LIRR train on my way to Penn Station to see Eugene O’Neil’s Desire Under The Elms and I can’t resist going back to Prune for what I’m sure will be a fantastic brunch. I have to be careful to avoid a lot of walking, my left foot hurts on the instep, it feels like a pull but it might require a trip to the foot doctor. So of course favoring my left foot has messed up my right foot too so I’ll be using mass transit a lot more than I like, so it’s a subway tour for me I’m afraid.  That’s okay as I need more experience on the subway and with the rain expected today It”ll be okay to be low and dry! When I arrive I do go topside to check the weather, I guess I’ll always feel a little stifled by being underground too long. I see that there is no change so I go back down and head for the 1,2,3 subway line to take me to 42nd St where I can take the 7 across to the 4,5,6 downtown. Sound confusing?, it can be for newbies but I know my way around a little and double check to make sure I’m right before I wind up in nowhere land. The subway stations are hot and stuffy today and I notice mostly young people are riding today, a few families but mostly students and workers.

I stop to help an old man with directions, he’s going to the Yankee game so I help him navigate a little since the young police officer trying to help him didn’t seem to know which subways he should take to get there. I whip out my New York traveler book to show the subway map and we figure it out. Later, the young policeman asks to see the guide again and I strike up a conversation with him about my plans to become a tour guide while I wait for my train. I’m excited about this and can’t help sharing it, maybe he will remember me and someday I might need his help. I have to start making friends and contacts here now, I will need them in the future if I’m going to be successful. I ride down to Spring St where I’ll get my bearings again and maybe buy a hat from a street vendor. I have overshot Prune by a few blocks so I have to walk up and over a little , I find a little butcher shop called the Albanese Meat Market, in the window is a paper clipping showing the shop was once filmed for a documentary called The Last Butcher in Little Italy on IFC (the Independent Film Channel) and is located on Elizabeth Street. I resolve to go back for Memorial Day weekend when I will have a three day holiday and get a real good steak for grilling from this shop before it’s gone too. 

The Last Butcher in Little Italy

The Last Butcher in Little Italy

  My feet feel good So I enjoy my walk to Prune, it’s about 11:00 am and it’s already packed so I wind up at the bar where I sat last time, some kind of karma I guess. To my left a young Asian girl takes photos of the bartender, while waiting for her food. When it arrives I see that she has ordered eggs benedict, she examines it closely lifting the toasted English muffin off the plate peering underneath like she’s searching for something. “What are you looking for? I ask quizzically. (Yes I am nosey!) She says blushingly that she was “trying to see if she could pick it up” She resigns herself to eat it with knife and fork and puts a giant piece in her mouth, not bad for a little girl.

I sip my strong coffee and watch the bartender work till my food comes, I ordered stewed chic peas with tomatoes and Panko covered poached eggs with a side of hand made lamb sausage, it comes with toasted flat bread points and it is super! I will duplicate this at home for dinner, it would be a nice protein rich meal.
I finish my meal with a second cup of coffee while a young Asian couple moves into the space vacated by the girl from out of town who by the way took pictures of her plate before she ate it! The young couple orders, oatmeal with fruit for her and deep fried oyster omelet for him, both get drinks too. I think they are on date judging by the conversation, they question each other about ordinary things between mouthfuls of food. I talk with the bartender while he makes Bloody Mary’s like there’s no tomorrow. But I’m done and the crowd outside tells me it’s time to move on and give someone else a chance. I love this place, I will be back soon but right now I walk slowly trying not to aggravate my feet, I walk up a few blocks and over an avenue or two. I take note of places and things like never before, getting a greater feel as I do for where I am and how to get from place to place. I gravitate down to the Washington Arch by way of Greene St and pass by Edward Hoppers old apartment continuing up to the 1,2,3, line of the subway which I descend into and take back up to the theater district and get off at 42nd St. I walk to the box office and get my ticket and ask about a good bar nearby, the man behind the window tells me to go to the place on the corner. But after walking down there I decide not to go in, too dark and stodgy looking. I can’t see inside and I find a better spot at Smith’s Bar, a landmark and a place I’ve never been before.

A good place for a quick drink before a show.

A good place for a quick drink before a show.

So I go in and find a seat at the bar which is almost empty and order a rum and coke from the cute Spanish waitress. While she makes my drink I head to the loo for a wash-up and when I go back to my seat my drink is ready and I sit down and read The Village Voice and sip my cocktail and relax. This is one of those perfect times when everything is just right, I feel at home here, like I belong in Manhattan at least at this moment and I enjoy every minute. I’ve got about an hour and a half to wait till I have to leave for the show, so I read the articles and soon my peace is broken by an older couple who just sat down asking the waitress about the best places to find New York pizza, They are only two seats away and no one seems to have a clue even though they live here! I guess I’ll have to step in and help these folks, all in a days work for “The Guide Boheme” I guess. I introduce myself and we begin a conversation.
Stay Tuned
Glen
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Filed under Eugene O'Neil, Food, Life, Memories, New York City, NY, Off Broadway, Plays, Theater

Juan Miro’ Exhibit Part 2-Nov 29Th 2008

 I walk to 2nd  Ave up to 3rd but then after a while I start going back up towards midtown, the brisk air is warmer now and my meal has renewed my strength so I walk to Union Square  taking the 6 train back up to 51 St Street then it’s a short walk up to MOMA. I go in and quite frankly I didn’t know what to expect from Miro’s work, I wasn’t a big fan of his work really. I mean the pieces I had seen other days in various shows looked all the same to me, repeated shapes and colors with thin black lines connecting things together. I as a painter would stop short of saying “a kid could paint that” because I know that it’s not true but I have to admit I didn’t get his work and figured the only reason he was famous was because he did it first. But now after seeing the exhibit as a whole I can tell you I was wrong. Miro’ wanted to as he put it “assassinate painting” and he did just that, and although the other Surrealist painters made fun of his childlike symbols and bourgeois reserve, the leader of the movement Andre Breton was quoted as saying “that he might have been the most surreal of us all”  that was high praise from a bullying control freak like Breton.

 When you look at the early works on unprimed canvas you see some very simple shapes, and a few with words painted in and you think to yourself that you might be embarrassed to show these to a gallery.  But then you move on to the paintings called Dutch Interiors you see a man who is taking classic paintings and dis-assembling them in his own fashion. The effect is breathtaking because the thought that went in to breaking down the classic work took much time and effort, seeing them side by side you pick out all the details. Miro’ has left nothing out, nothing to chance so as he said “I create nothing it’s all there” he is correct. I move on to the most impressive part of the exhibit for me which is the collage studies and resulting paintings of 1933. These are a mind blowing exercise in genius I think, he has taken advertisements in newspapers for crutches, telephones, coat racks, medicine bottles, even a political cartoon and he has arranged then in a seemingly senseless collage on paper (senseless to the uninitiated, collage isn’t easy) then working from that collage has transformed the collage shapes into a much larger work. The absolute way in which he made recognizable objects into shapes that hark-en back to their models is when my opinion of Miro’ went through the roof! I can clearly see now why Breton spoke so highly of his work, but what I see too is that he was really in my view the first Abstract Expressionist artist,  I see more of Miro’ in the work of Alexander Calder, Robert Motherwell.  Why even Jackson Pollacks non drip figurative work lends itself to Miro’s trail blazing. The series from 1935-36 painted on Masonite and copper are just astounding in their luminosity, the pieces on copper actually seem to glow from the copper as the Tempera used on Masonite glows from the medium instead of the surface. These small paintings are among my favorite and would love to own one. But these paintings also recall the shapes from the Dutch Interiors and represent a break in style from the Collage Paintings of 33. The exhibit concludes with a series of paintings on Masonite from 1936 that seem to me to recall the simple pieces from the start of the exhibit, all painted without being primed they look very much like the unprimed canvases of 1927 in style as well as lack of background pigment. These pieces leave me a little flat but in no way decrease my respect for what I’ve seen, the exhibit ends with a luminous piece done in 1937, and here Miro’ changes direction wanting to do something different he adopts a figurative style painting the hallucinatory “Still Life with Old Shoe” a dazzling painting that uses a fork, a potato, and an old shoe to tell the story of the war years as this was painted during the civil war in Spain,  he and his family would not see Spain again for four years. 

 So I leave the museum after a walk around the gift shop filed with excited tourists and art students all wandering like kids in a candy store, I mean you want one of everything here no joke, beautiful home accessories from the design collection are available, glassware, cups, mugs, dishes. Books galore for the armchair art historian and toys for the kids, as well as limited edition prints framed professionally and all manner of scarves, brooches and pins for the ladies. too much for me to even try to remember here, take a look if you get a chance. But right now I’m getting hungry and I’m thinking that a cold glass of Harp at Tracks in Penn Station and some oysters with hot sauce would be just the thing right now. But as I leave the museum and start walking towards 7 th Ave I gotta wonder if I can wait that long, there’s alot of street food between here and there and it smells mighty good my friends. Lets see do I want Shish-Ka-Bob or Gyro, Knish with cheese or dirty water dogs with relish and mustard, or how about a pretzel with cheese sauce, or maybe…..

 I finally decide on Harp and oysters on the half shell, I’ve never tried these before and decide that I would be able to eat them so as not to offend a host at a party but I didn’t need to order them again. I make the mistake of starting up a conversation with a guitar teacher at the bar sitting next to me, he goes on and on about how good he is and I should try him as a teacher. I explain that I had to stop lessons because I couldn’t afford the monthly bill anymore but he goes on anyway ignoring what I’m telling him to promote himself. So I finish my beer and hope that he does not follow me out and get on the same train, when he doesn’t I’m relieved, I wouldn’t take lessons with this guy if I won a million dollars, too much talk, too full of himself to be a good teacher.

 I sit later on the homeward bound train and think about what I saw, during his life he created over 2000 paintings! If nothing else Juan Miro’ taught me not to judge a book by it’s cover, a quiet man who said little and thought much did more for art than I ever imagined.

Peace

Glen
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Filed under Art, Art Shows, Food, Juan Miro', MOMA, New York City, NY

All My Sons-Part 1-December 2008

  I’m standing inside the platform waiting room of the Long Island Railroad, as you might have guessed by now, it’s very cold and windy and the small room is pretty packed. There is a large contingent of Asian’s here, they seem to be disabled and are being overseen by a few folks, probably a church group. The group leaders are looking after everyone and one nervous young man in particular counts heads over and over again, maybe it’s his first big assignment. We board the train and I score myself a window seat and take out my pad to begin writing. The nervous church leader seats his people and counts heads again, he is really working hard. Then he passes out chopsticks and starts passing out long styrofoam boxes of food before sitting down next to me and opening one up for himself. He has way too many of these, I guess some people didn’t want any. But he opens his and starts to eat, it’s vegetable sushi and the large rolls are cut into about eight pieces. This is an express train so we stop only twice before getting into Penn Station, a cool thing because I’m a little hot now in my overcoat and there’s no room for me to get up without disturbing this guy’s meal.

 I’m going to see the Arthur Miller play “All My Sons” at the Schoenfeld Theatre tonight but my first destination will be Prune, an East Village landmark for the downscale hipsters but also an upscale place for dinner where I saw Anthony Bourdain eat on his hit show “No Reservations” a year ago. Tony ate upstairs in the kitchen where only chefs are allowed to eat, probably because many of us wouldn’t want to eat what’s served out of fear or culinary knowledge. Thank God the brunch menu is not so scary as that!, I’m really looking forward to this meal. My seat companion is on his second boat of sushi, that’s sixteen pieces and counting folks. The day is bright and mostly clear, I’m warm now so I take off my scarf, hat and open my coat up a little to cool off. This guy next to me is up to twenty four pieces of sushi!, I mean he’s thin…how is he doin it?

 There’s a young guy behind me talking on his cell phone in low, obviously educated hipster tones. He’s talking about snopes.com mentioning an accident of some sorts, he asks the person on the other end if their bone was broken or pulverized, (nice choice of words genius) I think as we roll on into Jamaica Station and then off again.

 When I arrive in Penn Station I waste no time in going topside to seize the day in New York, enjoy the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. There are scores of people walking about as I try to get my bearings and figure out where I need to go. But it’s too cold to do a walkabout, right now at least, so I go down to the subway and take the seven train across to the six downtown, there are alot of people here in the tunnels waiting for a train. Families are just starting to shop for Xmas and the kids are fussing and crying over something already. So many people are shopping today, and it’s not even black friday yet! Makes you wonder where people are getting the money to spend in a bad economic environemnt as ours. Thanks all of you out there in Washington, you too in big business for messing things up, but don’t worry your pretty heads about it, the middle class will pick up the tab for you as usual, we always do… don’t we? Yes, of course we do, the only thing that matters is that you have all you need because God knows, rich people  need their money!

 But  there I wait, in an ever rising body temperature coupled with a growing urgency to relieve myself. Nearby a one man band plays bongos and cymbal and uses pre-recorded tapes to provide the missing band members. The music is temporarily drowned out by the rush of trains coming in, but not mine yet. The train roars out and he begins a different piece, a few minutes later the six train comes in and I get on with the throngs of people. But the trains are stacked and mine  has to go to fourteenth street.  Because of a jam up on the lines, (too many trains I guess) so off we go passing station after station in this underground time travel device we call a subway, I get off at Spring Street and have to double back and over but that’s okay.

 I find Prune easily, located on 54 E. 1St between 1st & 2nd Ave, it’s owner and head chef Gabrielle Hamilton presents with an eclectic menu of childhood memories mixed with favorites turned on their end with ingredients and flair. It is jammed, there’s a 1 1/2 hour wait to get in and by that time brunch will be over. I ask the attractive red headed  hostess if I can use the rest room, and since the upstairs one is occupied I’m allowed downstairs. I descend a spiral staircase, small steps made for a time long ago when people must have been smaller overall, and find myself standing in an anteroom out side the bathroom door, to my left is a kitchen door about three  feet away from a table of five waiting for their food! Down here in this small space is a table? But that’s how good it is here, every available square foot of table space is used for seating-it has to be! I use the loo and then go outside to wait for my spot with others hoping to get in. It’s sunny but cold, and growing colder and after about forty five minutes I decide to move on to my backup destination I begin walking toward Bleeker Street, to my backup eatery A O C.
Bon Nuit
Glen
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Filed under Anthony Bourdain, Arthur Miller, East Village, Food, Greenwich Village, Memories, New York City, Plays, Theater, Theatre