“Her legacy of grand romance and grander loyalties lives on”

This obituary in the Sunday NYTimes caught my eye: Countess Viviana Stokes Crespi. Born in D.C., died in Switzerland 91 years later. Per her photo, she was a beautiful woman who is “remembered with great love by those who were captivated not only by her intelligence, sharp wit and humor, but also by the sentimental softness resting always within her eyes.” For all you novelists looking for fodder, I bet there’s an interesting life story here.

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CRESPI—Countess Viviana Stokes died peacefully in her sleep in Vevey, Switzerland early on Wednesday morning, June 11, 2014. Friends of many years were with her. Countess Crespi was born in Washington, DC in 1923. Her parents were Margaret Drummond-Wolff and Sylvanus Stokes, Jr. and her grandparents were Carolyn Snowden Andrews and Gibson Fahnestock of Washington, DC and Newport, RI. Educated at Miss Hewitt’s Classes in New York City and abroad, Countess Crespi lived an international life in Washington, Newport, New York, Morocco, Italy, Switzerland and Grenada. Countess Crespi’s husband, Count Marco Fabio Crespi, pre-deceased her. Countess Crespi’s only child, her beloved son Marcantonio Crespi, died in 2005. Countess Crespi will be remembered with great love by those who were captivated not only by her intelligence, sharp wit and humor, but also by the sentimental softness resting always within her eyes. Her legacy of grand romance and grander loyalties lives on. Contributions may be made in Countess Viviana Crespi’s name to the existing “Professor Marcantonio Crespi Scholarship Fund” at Lafayette College, 307 Markle Hall, Easton, PA 18042 (attention Mrs. Susan Bradlau).

Feeling hot and bothered?

Get some vicarious beach time in with these 15 funny/sweet past beach covers from The New Yorker, plus the latest: “Coney Island” by Mark Ulriksen.

http://nyr.kr/1oVqL4N 

How we celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary

#TBT Got married 20 years ago on a Sunday in NYC, so celebrated this past Sunday with another great day in the city.

Sunday, July 6

  • 8:30 am: Grab the Sunday paper to read on the drive down to the city. Good biz story on the Ann Arbor favorite Zingermans, which is apparently a very nicely run company. I know they have THE best sandwiches.
  • 9 am: Listening to the catchy “Begin Again” soundtrack on the drive down to the city (despite all the skips on my bad homemade disc).
  • 9:30 am: Find easy, free street parking right on 11th Ave and 50th. Yay for Sundays!
  • Rent our Citibikes (after some “how do we do this??” travails) and head down the west side “Greenway” bike path.
  • Goal #1: For my new website MyFirstApartmentNYC.com (work in progress still; will be asking for people to contribute their own memories) I want to get a photo of me near my first place in Tribeca from (gulp) 29 years ago—if I can remember where it is!
  • 10:30 am: Turns out there’s a Citibike docking station right by my old building! That would have been nice, back in the day, instead of the wretched subway.

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  • So we dock our bikes—or try to. The docking station is “offline” and the 30-minute clock is ticking. We just kickstand our bikes and make our way to the building that was (I’m pretty sure) my first NYC apartment from 1985.
  • Boy, things sure look better down here (with still a Disneyesque historic patina). There’s lots of construction/improvement going on on this street, such as the repair of the ancient cobblestones in front of the building, and new cafes and spas on the block that certainly weren’t there when I lived there.
  • The Sunday morning street is totally empty except for 2 guys talking by a car right in front of the building we want to shoot. We stand across the street waiting for them to leave before I can go across and pose for the photo.
  • Warren then mutters, “Don’t look, but I’m pretty sure that the guy on the left with the baseball cap is Edward Norton. It looks like him.” The guy takes off his cap and it’s definitely Edward Norton, the actor. We can even hear his distinctive voice.

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{This was NOT taken by us but similar to what we saw, sans sunglasses.}

  • It strikes us that it would not be cool to take a photo of me standing in front of my “old building” while (inadvertently) also standing next to Ed Norton—although it would be funny. Not sure that he would buy my “But I lived here 30 years ago…” story while punching Warren out (see “Edward Norton Gets in Fight with Amateur Photographer.”)
  • So we wait around for a while, trying not to look at Ed Norton while standing directly across the street from him as the two guys continue their chat. I don’t know what they make of the pair of sweaty, middle-aged folks across the street from them holding an iPhone while studiously ignoring them, but they continue to ignore us.
  • 10:45 am: We walk away in frustration to take our bikes to another docking station down the street. (The Citibikes experience is also a bit frustrating—I end up on the phone with a service rep about all the docking troubles we were having.)
  • 11 am: When we return to take the photo, Edward Norton and friend are gone, although another ugly car is parked in the way of the building (why not down the block??).
  • Safely absolved from being arrested as paparazzi, we take our nostalgia photos in front of the building, and walk back down to the faraway docking station to pick up our bikes and resume our ride. 

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  • 11:10 am: We continue on our bike trek around the bottom of Manhattan. I have a high noon lunch date with my old work colleague Paula Marchese, in the east village at 3rd Ave. & 13th Street. Can we make it over there on time?
  • OUR PATH

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  • 11:45 pm: The answer is hell, no. We have taken the long way around, riding by the Staten Isle ferry and all the East River bridges. Amazingly picturesque!! But also clogged with tourists and we are making bad time. (Notice how the above map can’t spell “financial.” Fate of an editor to see all the world’s typos.)

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  • 12:05 pm: Now we are officially late, and are still on the East River bikeway, looking for an overpass to get across the FDR Drive. Finally find one near 10th St. “Fun” running the bikes up the steepest ramp ever.
  • “I forgot about all the alphabet avenues!” cries Warren, as we pump the bike pedals like crazy trying to get over from the East River to 3rd Ave.
  • We pause briefly to consult the Citibikes iPhone app to find nearby docking stations. Yay, there is one only a block away from the restaurant.
  • 12:20: After docking our bikes successfully, Warren and I part company. He to find a lunch place and head uptown to get Sunday matinée Broadway tix, me to find Feast restaurant and Paula.
  • 12:25 pm: I arrive at Feast sweaty and breathless—my preferred look for meeting old friends. Paula is chatting happily with the hostess. Paula tells me, “She’s from Michigan like you!” The young woman and I eye each other, having heard this before, as if all people from Michigan know each other, of course. A little conversation, however, reveals that the woman is not only from my hometown of Grosse Pointe but grew up on the same street as me (albeit 30 years later and at the ritzy end of the street by the lake). “That never happens,” she exclaims. I have to agree. 
  • The hostess seats us, and Paula and I proceed to have a great catch up while experiencing a delicious brunch at this breezy restaurant. I plan to return Feast and sample more of their “American nouveau” cuisine.

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Now I turn the story over to Warren while Paula and I chat.

  • Warren at 12:30: While Laura “feasts” with Paula, I stroll through the East Village and stop at a sidewalk café for eggs benedict. There is a cool breeze, and a couple of friendly neighborhood dogs stop by my table (with their owners following).
  • After my $10 brunch I hop on the subway to Lex and 50th, then take a stroll west to Broadway.
  • Laura and I had agreed we might see Rocky if the price was right (I see you sneering but I don’t care; I’d read that the staging of the big fight is an experience).
  • I arrive at the theater and get the scoop on available tickets. Before pulling the trigger on the purchase I decide to step outside the lobby & call Laura, to see what she thinks of the seats.
  • Laura doesn’t answer. She almost never answers when called on a cell phone, I don’t know why. But in this case it works out because…
  • I overhear a guy, standing right near me, talking about having extra tickets.
  • I approach him and say, “Are you selling tickets?” He says, “No. I’m giving them away.” Being a suspicious New Yorker, my automatic response is to grill him: “Why would you do that?”
  • Turns out he’s in the military and has a couple of extra comp tickets, which he gives to me. No longer suspicious, I now behave more appropriately—by thanking him profusely.
  • 2:35: When Laura arrives at the theater, she asks if I’d decided to buy tickets for the show or not. I say, “No, I didn’t exactly buy them…” and explain our sweet deal.

I’ll turn it back over to L. now…  

  • L: So we’re at Rocky at the huge Winter Garden theater, which turns out to be a splendid piece of air-conditioned entertainment, all the more so because it’s free! We have great far-right orchestra seats.
  • The actors playing Rocky Balboa and Adrian are really good (“making it their own”), and have beautiful voices.
  • When it’s time for the big fight scene towards the end, all the people in the first 10 rows of the center orchestra seats get up and climb up on stage to bleacher seats which have suddenly appeared. Then a boxing ring rises up and moves on rails into the middle of the theater. This means we now have a ringside seat!
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  • 5:30 pm: Rocky Balboa wins, by not losing (but you knew that already). Standing ovation (per usual on B’way). We again thank the young military guy sitting next to us (“This is my first Broadway show!”) for our free tix.
  • We make our way back out to the hot streets of Broadway, and decide to keep using our 24-hour Citibike pass by doing a little more biking before dinner. We walk over to 11th and 52nd and take out two more bikes. This time we head north instead of south.
  • We have a great ride up the Hudson greenway, passing by parks, cafes, boat marinas, music and lots of Sunday flâneurs enjoying a stroll—while getting in our wobbly way.
  • 6:15 pm: We stop for a break and to take in the pretty scene.

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{Obligatory selfie}

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{It was hard riding against the wind}

  • Now it’s back down the island, against the wind the whole time, to get the bikes back to the dock on time! It’s 90 degrees out so we’re sweatin’ it.
  • 6:30 pm: The day is not done yet. Now it’s time to find dinner. We wrangle over which favorite nearby Mexican place to go to (Añejo or Hell’s Kitchen) and Hell’s Kitchen wins, even though it’s a longer walk over to 9th Ave. It’s hard to beat their “Margarita Sampler.” 

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{This is a borrowed photo from their site. We did not drink 6(!) margaritas.}

  • 8 pm: We make dinner out of their best appetizers, and finish off with a Banana Empanada (decadent) and Mexican coffee.
  • 8:30: 12 hours after we drove into the city, it’s getting dark and it’s finally time to head home. A nice drive back up to Mount Kisco with a beautiful sunset, miles of greenery, and blissfully empty roads. Only bad note is that the driving music I choose—my new purchase of Ray LaMontagne’s latest groovy album—proves to be a dud.

For us, a fun way to end the holiday weekend, and a nice, informal way to mark the 20th wedding anniversary of our great NYC wedding two short decades ago! (I also marked it by being surprised and grateful that I have somehow not managed to lose my rings, as this woman did.)

Greatly enjoyed “Begin Again,” by the writer/director of my all-time fave “Once.” If you’re looking for something tuneful, intelligent, and romantic (yes, it’s a bit of fantasy), this is your summer movie.

Opened my July 4 issue of @ew and this ad spread made me burst out laughing. Could it be any more ridiculous? Look at how the actresses are dressed and posing. What has Lifetime TV come to?
Pass.

Opened my July 4 issue of @ew and this ad spread made me burst out laughing. Could it be any more ridiculous? Look at how the actresses are dressed and posing. What has Lifetime TV come to?

Pass.

The closer I look at this illo by Oliver Schrauwen from the @NYTimes article “Why You Hate Work” the more it makes me smile. http://nyti.ms/1mAkSr2 
It also makes me happy I work from home.

The closer I look at this illo by Oliver Schrauwen from the @NYTimes article “Why You Hate Work” the more it makes me smile. http://nyti.ms/1mAkSr2 

It also makes me happy I work from home.

Wish I had a bookshelf like this kooky one. 

Wish I had a bookshelf like this kooky one. 

jimllpaintit:

It’s World Book Night tonight and good friend and thoroughly nice chap Andy Miller has just written a book called The Year of Reading Dangerously. As I owe him one big time I offered to paint whatever he wanted and this is what he came up with…
Dear Jim,

Please could you paint Dan Brown sinking to his knees in despair after being humiliated in a game of crazy golf by Herman Melville, author of ‘Moby-Dick’, much to the appreciation of a crowd of spectators including Jane Austen, T.S. Eliot, William Shakespeare and Michel Houellebecq. 


Thank you,


Andy Miller

Visit Jim’s blog. He takes on some truly lunatic commissions!!

jimllpaintit:

It’s World Book Night tonight and good friend and thoroughly nice chap Andy Miller has just written a book called The Year of Reading Dangerously. As I owe him one big time I offered to paint whatever he wanted and this is what he came up with…


Dear Jim,



Please could you paint Dan Brown sinking to his knees in despair after being humiliated in a game of crazy golf by Herman Melville, author of ‘Moby-Dick’, much to the appreciation of a crowd of spectators including Jane Austen, T.S. Eliot, William Shakespeare and Michel Houellebecq. 



Thank you,



Andy Miller

Visit Jim’s blog. He takes on some truly lunatic commissions!!

Tumblr just informed me that my little tumblr blog is ready for kindergarten. “Happy to Share turned 5 today!”

Tumblr just informed me that my little tumblr blog is ready for kindergarten. “Happy to Share turned 5 today!”

Reading in bed? Another entry in my sporadic "book decor" series.

Reading in bed? Another entry in my sporadic "book decor" series.

"Celebrities are just like us"

Saw this funny tweet by Neil Diamond. 

Books and a cute, floppy-eared dog—two of my favorite things!

Books and a cute, floppy-eared dog—two of my favorite things!

Four years ago—pre-smartphones—I posted a graphic "12 excuses for not reading." Here’s my rather satirical 2014 update on the situation via YouTube: “‘I don’t have time to read a book’—The Slippery Social Media Slope” http://youtu.be/zLWfzUsgCdo

From the popular Fast Company article by Warren Berger: “Find Your Passion with These 8 Thought-Provoking Questions.”  http://www.fastcodesign.com/3028946/find-your-passion-with-these-8-thought-provoking-questions

From the popular Fast Company article by Warren Berger: “Find Your Passion with These 8 Thought-Provoking Questions.”  http://www.fastcodesign.com/3028946/find-your-passion-with-these-8-thought-provoking-questions

Nobody Said That Then!

Funny essay about all the anachronisms on TV and in the movies. http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/hendrikhertzberg/2014/02/nobody-said-that-then-continued.html?utm_source=www&utm_medium=tw&utm_campaign=20140225 via newyorker

And don’t miss the first half of the essay, mostly about “Masters of Sex”s script faux pas:  http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/hendrikhertzberg/2014/02/masters-of-sex-nobody-said-that-then.html

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