29 September 2005

progress?

one of the many miseries of getting old is that each time I visit a favorite city some landmark is gone. sometimes I know in advance but other times I head to a favorite place & finding it vanishd is a sit-on-the-curb-&-weep shock. like the time I was walking down Hollywood Blvd with the intention of savoring a hot fudge sundae at C.C. Brown's & it was no longer there.

this is on my mind because of recent news of some changes on the horizon. in Chicago the flagship Marshall Field store that has been on State St for 130 years will become another Macy's. the only good news here is that the building already has landmark status. so one presumes the Tiffany mosaic ceiling is safe.

however in NYC there are plans underfoot for half a block of West 45th to be wreckd to make way for a Disney hotel. among the spots on this block which will disappear are a pair of Broadway hangouts full of personal memories.

the last time I was in Manhattan (2 years ago) I had lunches at both restaurants. I met David McDaniel at Sam's. I first knew the place back in my drinking days. it was calld Charlie's then. I met James Robert Parish at the bar there 29 years ago. I shared meals there with friends now dead including Peter Burnell & Dennis Hrlic.

next door is Barrymore's. on that last visit I had cheeseburgers there with Ira Joel Haber. one Thxgiving I had turkey dinner there. I shared meals there with friends now dead including Gerald Mast & Richard Martin.

other theater haunts of my past -- Backstage & Jimmy Ray's -- are long gone. when the Disney folk dismantle the restaurants of West 45th the only spot left in that district with history will be Joe Allen. I hope I'm dead when Joe Allen closes.

3 comments:

jeff w said...

TO WEI PA, A RETIRED SCHOLAR

The lives of many men are
Shorter than the years since we have
Seen each other. Aldebaran
And Antares move as we have.
And now, what night is this? We sit
Here together in the candle
Light. How much longer will our prime
Last? Our temples are already
Grey. I visit my old friends.
Half of them have become ghosts.
Fear and sorrow choke me and burn
My bowels. I never dreamed I would
Come this way, after twenty years,
A wayfarer to your parlor.
When we parted years ago,
You were unmarried. Now you have
A row of boys and girls, who smile
And ask me about my travels.
How have I reached this time and place?
Before I can come to the end
Of an endless tale, the children
Have brought out the wine. We go
Out in the night and cut young
Onions in the rainy darkness.
We eat them with hot, steaming,
Yellow millet. You say, “It is
Sad, meeting each other again.”
We drink ten toasts rapidly from
The rhinoceros horn cups.
Ten cups, and still we are not drunk.
We still love each other as
We did when we were schoolboys.
Tomorrow morning mountain peaks
Will come between us, and with them
The endless, oblivious
Business of the world

Tu-Fu (712-770)

AlexG said...

many thx Jeff for posting such a bittersweet poem.

may we share young onions on my next visit.

Blanche-1 said...

Hello, I know it's late to be posting for September, but I just saw your blog and a mention of my old friend and neighbor, Peter Burnell. He lived on the next block in New York, on West 11th Street. I saw him in many different plays and of course remember him from "The Doctors." I saw him at Provincetown Playhouse as Jamie in "Long Day's Journey" and as Shannon in "Night of the Iguana" which costarred his friend, Linda Kampley, a magnificent actress. Peter was fantastic in all of his performances, but those performances were especially wonderful. Thank you for letting me take a moment to write and think about my friend.