Nov 24, 2023 – This is my favorite float of New York’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, a charming snowflake train trailed by clowns. I like it not just because of the elegance, but because it is not selling something. Not a kids cartoon show or movie. Not fast food or bad food.
Nov 1, 2023 – The annual Greenwich Village Halloween Parade is like a movie you’ve liked a lot, repeatedly. Maybe the “Casablanca” of parades. It is led by the giant skeleton stick puppets created by the late Ralph Lee, who started the parade as a small event in the 1970s. From the artists’ residence Westbeth at Bank Street and the Hudson River, it flowed out into the streets and took over the Village. Alongside the skeletons are just as giant billowy puppets.
May 21, 2023 – It rained on their parade, but the show went on for gutsy dance companies in this year’s New York City street dance event that moves from 17th Street down Sixth Avenue, east across 8th Street for performances on stages at Tompkins Square Park. It had stopped raining by then!
April 16, 2023 – The Bahama Village exhibit is one of the best I’ve seen at the Key West Museum of Art & History. The village is a charming area of the town, famous for the restaurant “Blue Heaven” where chickens walk among the diners and sometimes there is live jazz or country music.
There is sometimes a surreal disconnect between what the political class and the artistic class say. The Whitney Museum’s Puerto Rico exhibit, on till April 23, is an attack on American colonialism. The U.S. annexed the island as booty after victory in the Spanish-American War of 1898, and these artists’ works say it oppress the people who live there.
Rodney Zelenka is an artist from Panama whose exhibit now in New York shows stunning colorful realistic/fantastic paintings that comment on how abusive power by major governments has caused suffering among peoples worldwide.
I choose to lead my parade with the Women in STEM float. It means science, technology, engineering and mathematics. It was the only float I saw (maybe I missed earlier ones) that dealt with serious issues of the time.
What’s better than seeing an artist’s work at a museum? There are some event promoters who would like to persuade you that it’s even better to experience an “immersive” event, meaning you are surrounded by huge blow-ups of the painter’s works as in this exhibit of Claude Monet’s art.
That doesn’t cancel out museums, but it has some advantages.
We know Edward Hopper’s iconic “Early Sunday Morning,” the low red buildings. But at the Whitney Museum’s Hopper exhibit, there are paintings most of us have never seen before.
Nov 1, 2022 – Some things stay the same in this 49th year of the Halloween Parade, started by Ralph Lee and his iconic skeleton puppets in the courtyard of Westbeth artists’ housing in the West Village. It was moved to the street when it got too big, now Sixth Avenue from Canal to 15th Street. Thousands line up behind police barriers, many don costumes and participate, others just hang out in the streets and local restaurants. The whole neighborhood is filled with Halloween revelers.
Oct 15, 2022 – It takes a long time to raise consciousness! Americans have been celebrating Columbus Day since October 12, 1792. Organized by the Society of St. Tammany, also known as the Columbian Order, it commemorated the 300th anniversary of Columbus’ landing. Not mentioned it was the anniversary of the American genocide of the people who happened to be living there. For a long time called “Indians” because Columbus though he had fought a route to India’s riches, but now known as Native Americans. Meaning they were there before most “Americans'” ancestors.
The McKittrick Hotel is known since 2011 as the home of “Sleep No More,” the interactive “Macbeth” in which the audience wanders through rooms in which scenes of the play are enacted. But it also has a rooftop restaurant, Gallow Green, a place of rustic elegance and five-star ambience on Manhattan’s West 27th Street, steps from The High Line.
Taking a sunset cruise is a terrific way to get a sense of Key West as an island . You pick up a Sebago catamarin sailboat on the Harbor Walk in the north of town, and as it moves out, you see people lined up on shore to see the sunset from a less exotic angle. Later on the two-hour trip, you pass near Sunset Key, a private island you can visit if you reserve at the restaurant, Latitudes.
It’s interesting to see how political art changes. This year’s Whitney Biennial, rather than in-your-face commentary on American injustice here and abroad (including at the 2019 biennial black football players taking the knee), my favorites here were more subtle takes, one on the consumer culture, another on the military and a third that rivets your eyes on U.S. corporate destruction abroad.
St. Patrick’s Day 2022 – It was a bit chill in New York in spite of March 17th being a few days before the start of spring, but the marchers on Fifth Avenue didn’t seem to care. Even if many were bare legged with kilts. I loved the bagpipers, especially the ones in red jackets.
New York’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was started in 1924 by immigrant workers at Macy’s Department Store. They had escaped repressive conditions in Russia and elsewhere and had a workers’ sense of solidarity and appreciation. They wanted to celebrate this American holiday with a European-style festival of the sort their parents had enjoyed. What would they think of the current parades that replace culture with advertising to “watch this” and “buy this”!
It’s back, along with the iconic white spider that hangs from the Jefferson Market (Courthouse) Library at Sixth Avenue and 10th Street.
And the big cutout figures, held so high that even people behind the crowded barriers can see them.
People are traveling again, and the best choices for destinations are outdoors. Be safe! Feel safe! Key West is perfect for that. On the list of what I like to do best are to take a sunset cruise and visit the Botanical Gardens.
Three of my favorite things are wine, art and jazz. In Key West, you can have them all, and at the best times together.
Starting with natural art, I mean the gorgeous sunsets that splash vivid colors into the sky if you are lucky and the weather and clouds are right.
You could have been, literally, blown away by this year’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Winds of 20mph and higher gusts forced the high-flying balloons to dip low. You could see the cord-handlers struggling. Here‘s low-flying Nutcracker and Smokey Bear.
This is the best annual party for New Yorkers. And price of entry is only your costume which depends on imagination, or a trip to a costume store if you lack the former.
The sky has to be just right for a Key West sunset. Some clouds to capture and spread the rays, but not so many that the sunset is blocked. The wind has to be good, too, enough to push sailboats through the waves, but not so wild as to rock passengers too roughly and disturb people on land. If the stars are in alignment, ie the weather is right, a Key West sunset is a gorgeous thing to watch.
It was the coldest Thanksgiving ever in New York, in the low 20s with real feel half that. I wish I had the wool hat and wraparound earmuff concession for the marchers and balloon handlers for this year‘s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
A marvelous new Paris art place to visit is the Giacometti Institute‘s recreation of sculptor Alberto Giacometti’s studio, with exhibits of important works. It‘s in the 14th arrondissement neighborhood where he worked, though this art deco townhouse was the studio and apartment of designer Paul Follot.
The Key West Botanical Garden is a gorgeous gem unknown to many visitors because it is on the adjacent Stock Island. But it‘s easy to get to by car or bus. It is a brilliantly organized garden of local vegetation, with signs to point out important and sometimes dangerous plants and an audio setup where you can use a cell phone to get voice explanations at numbered stops.