Photo of the day: THE ‘BITTER’ COLD – On today’s front page of many papers is a picture of police officer, Larry DePrimo in the bitter cold, buying a homeless man a pair of shoes. The photo was taken on cell phone by a passing Arizona tourist and has gone viral world wide. While it is a beautiful and touching story – I have a contrasting one I posted over a year ago here on Facebook.
On Tuesday February 11, 2011 that night it was 22 degrees freezing with wind chills below zero, this man seemed frozen over his cart. He did not have gloves and his hands had turned brown from frostbite. He did not move. No one helped him. Notice his left hand, his fingers are straight together, it is an unnatural way for your hand to be if you are ‘sleeping’. His hand was frozen. I stepped near the grate, the so called ‘warm air’ was at best minimal. I have been told to freeze to death is somewhat merciful, you numb and fall asleep. Whether he survived the night I don’t know. I am conflicted to hope he survived or if the merciful wish was for him to ‘fall asleep.’ It took me a long time to flag a police car, they said he is on top of a grate and therefor “warm and fine”. I called 911 & 311 repeatedly, because supposedly the NYC law is that if it goes below freezing it is manadatory for the homeless to be brought to a shelter – but no one came. The traffic cop on the corner said there is nothing he could do. I went home with tears in my eyes and could not sleep that night.
It truly is a ‘bitter’ cold.
THE PERSIAN ROOM AT THE PLAZA HOTEL, 1974: Where were you 38 years ago on November 29, Friday night, 1974? I was 18 years old and took my friend Amy Hernandez to see a drag revue at the Plaza Hotel’s Persian Room, one of the most magical places within the Plaza. For more than forty years, from 1934 to 1975, the Persian Room was the place to be in New York City. An unparalleled array of performers graced its stage—everyone from the incomparable Hildegarde Shirley Bassey, Ethel Merman, The Mills Brothers, Kay Thompson (mother to Eloise), Eartha Kitt, Bob Hope, Liberace, Diahann Carroll, Julie Wilson, Andy Williams, Josephine Baker, my dear Celeste Holm and Marlene Dietrich’s last New York appearance.
It was done in high Persian style in deep iridescent tones of blues, greens and purples – nowadays we would view the decor as high camp/kitsch, but it was divine! The entrance looked like a golden gate to a palace. Today it is where the main lobby of the hotel is on the left side as you enter the Plaza Hotel, with sadly not a hint of it’s decadent past.
Amy Hernandez’s mother owned an east side townhouse bar and restaurant called ‘The Beef & Bourbon’ and the bourbon, her mom’s (and Amy’s) favorite drink of choice, flowed freely. Amy had an uppity twin sister named Carol who never liked anything I had to say and would just say “Oh Hans…”.
‘Manhattan Follies’ was the talk of the nightclub world and I just had to go! Impersonated that night were the then staples: Dietrich, Garland, Ross, Channing, Marilyn and Mae and that new sensation Bette Midler. The headliner was up and coming drag star Craig Russell who would go on to make the hit 1977 film called “Outrageous!”
The room still had a ‘cigar & cigarette girl’, a shapely woman with a tray strapped under her bosom selling smokes for high prices (Lena Horne started out as one). A Weegee-like man went from table to table with a huge old fashioned flash camera an offered souvenir photographs.
Some of the photo’s fun details: I am wearing a black and white polyester Marilyn Monroe print dress shirt with an awfully huge white poly tie. The suit is black velvet bell bottomed and huge platform shoes (that you can’t see here) that had silver stars on them. The program pictured here on the right, is next to me by my seat. Amy’s polyester print blouse was black and white to match me. Note my index finger is extended on my lap because I am trying to show off a silver ring in the shape of a man’s head wearing a turban which I felt was appropriate for the evening’s occasion. Amy and I didn’t know we were partaking in history because sadly the ‘Manhattan Follies’ was the last and final show to play at The Persian Room.
The 1970’s was a glorious era. My era. A decadent era of nightclubbing, dancing, glitz and glamour. Studio 54, Xenon, 12 West, Ice Palace and the Paradise Garage. Huge shoes, hair sprayed hair, big eye glasses, bell bottoms and that wonderful disco music.
Where where you November 29, Friday night 1974?…
NEW YORK GLITTER:What is more shiny and bright than New York?
New York and Christmas just go perfectly together just like the glass ornaments in my tree, I love they way they reflect light and shine – just as New York City does.
And what is more New York than a bright yellow shiny taxi cab or bagels and cream cheese from your favorite delicatessen? The iconic I Love New York logo or the silhouette of the beautiful Flatiron building?
Christmas trees and New York – two big extravaganzas filled with colorful ornaments.
Big, shiny and bright! HAPPY HOLIDAZE !
All these ornaments are for sale on my EBAY page, seller ID: VONRITT
MEETING OF THE ‘M’ CLUB: The great painter Edouard Manet said: “There is only one true thing – instantly paint what you see. When you’ve got it, you’ve got it. When you haven’t, you begin again. All the rest is humbug.”
I as a photographer say: “Life is art = Art is life. If you have life in your eyes, you see the art.”
On one of the last warm days last week I came across this endearing scene. It is under the elevated ‘7’ train that heads towards Shea Stadium.
The meeting of ‘The M Club’. Mini Matisse, mini Mondrian, mini Manet and mini Monet.
A local day school teacher brings his little “M’s” to various spots here in Sunnyside Queens to inspire them to paint what they see and feel.
Matisse is in her blue period. Mondrian is being very colorful. Manet is feeling very precise and Monet is just going wild with his expressionism. Who knows what paths lie ahead for these four adorable children, one may be a lawyer, one our next president, one may be a psychiatrist and one may have their paintings hanging in the Museum of Modern Art!
Paint on dear children, paint on . . .
CAMERA GLOVES !: My dear friend Nana Kuatto’s godmother Elina in Finland has made me ‘camera gloves’!
Mittens always keep your hands the warmest and nothing is warmer than 100% wool. Well, Elina Kiviniemi has combined the two ideas and created “Camera Gloves”!
It’s freezing cold outside and you’re taking pictures. Having to take off your gloves will leave your finger frozen in minutes. No need to worry. The right hand camera glove leaves the thumb and index finger free for you to securely hold you camera while your free warm index finger snaps the picture. Leave it to the Fin’s to come up with this idea! Elina Kiviniemi has also made wool socks for President Clinton and his family and she has received a personal handwritten thank you note from Bill himself!
My picture taking this winter will be warmer thanks to Nana and Elina’s thoughtfulness and my warm “CAMERA GLOVES from FINLAND”!
If they’re good enough for the Clintons – they’re good enough for me!
CONFUSED SMURF FOUND WANDERING IN TIMES SQUARE . . .
“Didn’t the parade used to come through Times Square? I’m confused, I’ve got to find the parade –
before the parade passes by
before it goes on, and I’m the only Smurf left
before the parade passes by.
I’ve gotta get in step while there’s still time left
I’m ready to move out in front
Life without life has no reason or rhyme left
With the rest of them
With the best of them
I wanna hold my head up high
I need to get a goal again I need to get a drive again
I wanna feel my heart coming alive again
Before the parade passes by…
Before the parade passes by
I’ve gotta go and taste Saturday’s high life ! “
Lyric from CHER’s 1979 album “Prisoner”
I’m shoppin’, gonna buy my blues away
Shoppin’, I’m walking up to the counter and say
I want this sweater, I sure feel better
Shoppin’, gonna take my troubles to town
Shoppin’, you don’t need money down
Charge it, wrap it, send it shoppin’
Ever since my mother took me to a big department store
My heartbeat escalated all the way to the second floor
I couldn’t hide my passion for the latest fashion craze
My mama told me that’s just another phase I’m going through
Whatcha got that’s new?
Shoppin’, gonna buy my blues away
Shoppin’, I got bad news today
Instead of eating ’cause my man’s cheating
Shoppin’, I’m gonna take my troubles to town
Shoppin’, while everyone else is smokin’, token’, coken’
Well, I’ll be shoppin’, hit it, boys
Excuse me Miss, see that, the dress over there?
How many colors does it come in?
Yes, all right, no, I’d like every one
No, I’m not going to try it, I know it’ll fit
Ooh, you know what?
Let’s go up, oh, they’re having a sale
My God, I love salesNo, I don’t have a last name
It’s just Cher, just plain Cher
Ooh, I like the shoes
Do you think you could wrap this thing
It’s all pink and wrinkly it’s…
What a darling little bag
Shoppin’, I’m gonna buy itShoppin’,
I never try it on for size
Shoppin, will I like it
Shoppin’, does the color match my eyes?
Folks say I’m daring for what I’m wearing
I’m always scaring the people’s staring
So I’m declaring, I’m tired of swearing
I’m just shoppin’
Shoppin’, I’m gonna but my blues away
Shoppin’, I got bad news todayShoppin’, I’m gonna take my troubles to town
Shoppin’, don’t need money down
Shoppin’, gonna buy my blues away
Shoppin’, walking up to the counter and say
I want that sweater, I sure feel betterShoppin’, charge it, wrap it, send it
Shoppin’, instead of eating ’cause my man’s cheating
I’ve been shoppin
‘While other people may be smokin’, token’, coken’
I’ll be shoppin’