A New York Weekend

In reviewing my book in the American Alpine Journal, Peter Hahn “wonder[s] what happened ‘after the Nose’ and why he [me] ended up a dedicated New York City dweller.” So do I, sometimes. The short answer for after the Nose is sex and then twice, love. A longer answer would trot out other interests and the unlikeliness of a livelihood in climbing. As to New York, it was love again (and still again), and New York City is a great city for other interests. Which gets me to recent days.

Thursday night, after dinner in a cozy French restaurant (Rosamond, lamb chops, me, a big bowl of mussels) we went to see a production of Tennessee Williams’ “The Two Character Play,” a late work not often produced. It is unusually dense for a Williams play. Continue reading

Blue Jasmine

We went to see Woody Allen’s new film, Blue Jasmine. There are some laughs, but it isn’t a comedy. Cate Blanchett plays Jasmine who once was driven around Manhattan in a stretch limo by her own driver, who was bedecked in jewels and furs and Hermes bags. Then, her husband was sent to prison for some sort of financial fraud. Now she has no money and no prospects and has moved to San Francisco to live with her sister—sort of sister since they were both adopted and couldn’t be more different from each other.

The range of Blanchett’s acting is amazing. In the New York scenes she is the epitome of hauteur whose sense of the good life includes some charity enterprises as well as support of the arts and culture. With her sister she displays her middle class roots even though she hasn’t fully adjusted to her drop in station or her sister’s life style. And then she starts talking to herself. She loses it because beneath all of her plans and patter and surface mannerisms there is no core, no center. One thinks of Yeats. “Things fall apart; the center cannot hold, / Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.” She manufactures whatever she thinks the current situation demands. Even her name. She was formerly called Janette, but that didn’t evoke a glamorous Manhattanite . But regardless of the face Jasmine presents (and there are many), Blanchett is utterly convincing. Continue reading

Belgrade, Serbia

Last year, Rosamond received a grant from the NIH to run a program in research ethics for the Balkan and Black Sea countries. The structure of the program involves intensive course work (9 am to 4 pm) for two weeks, followed by a year of online courses, and then a final week of on-site course work. So we went to Belgrade.

The teaching faculty was Dan, Henry, Nada (a native Serbian), and Rosamond from Mt. Sinai Medical School, and then an assortment of doctors and professors from Balkan medical schools. Nada stayed with her mother, but the rest of us, including Henry’s wife, Jill, rented apartments in a building across the street from the St. Seva cathedral. It was only after a day or two that we realized that the façade of our building looked like it was slated for demolition, but the apartments had been recently renovated and even came with bottles of Scotch and gin and assorted liquors left by previous renters. Continue reading

Paris in the spring

No news is not good news. As if only bad news was worth the three-cent stamp it cost to mail a letter when I was young.  Good news ought to be worth a lot more than three cents. And if you merely want to have a say you can for two cents. Whatever it’s worth. No, no news is no news.

All of which is a way of saying I have been absent from this site for too long (for me, if not for a reader). Toward the end of May I broke a few bones in my left foot. The foot guy was in Scotland, so I had to wait a week until he returned, looked at the x-rays, and then operated to put the ice cream back on the cone as he quaintly put it. Ten days after the surgery an assistant took out the stitches, and two days after that Rosamond and I flew to Paris. Two days later I found that the incision had opened up. It looked rather ugly, a gaping maw surrounded by dark and swollen tissue, but doctors (who were also friends) were attending the conference that was our reason for being in Paris, and one of them determined that there was no infection. “It’ll fill up,” he said (and it has, mostly). Granulation, they call it.

We had rented a funky garret kind of apartment on the Ile Saint Louis. Across the street was a church whose bells tolled from time to time (but not for me). A bakery with Continue reading