A Kung Fu Christmas at the Algonquin

After years of saying “someday,” I finally celebrated Christmas in New York City. No shows, no museums, no shopping. Just hanging out with Mom, Dad and youngest brother Peter at a few favorite haunts, including the historic Algonquin Hotel—a literature-lover’s oasis in Midtown Manhattan.

The Algonquin serves a $10,000 martini (over “ice” from the hotel’s in-house jeweler) and has been home to some of the world’s most colorful women, including Tallulah Bankhead, Angela Lansbury, and Dorothy Parker.

I like to have a martini. Two at the very most.
At three, I’m under the table. At four, I’m under the host!

—Dorothy Parker
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An evening in Antarctica couldn't have been warmer!

What kind of birthday gift is right for an adventure-seeking, ever-curious friend who is determined to run a marathon at the bottom of the earth? An evening in Antarctica, of course—compliments of Minneapolis photographer Stuart Klipper, whose stunning photographs of ice shelves and penguins are on display right now at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art.

Having seen his work at MoMA on a recent trip, I thought I’d find a catalog for sale at the gift shop, but there isn’t one. Rumor has it that a certain San Francisco-based publisher has signed Mr. Klipper, but book deals can take 12 months or more to result in something gift-able.

Struck by the serendipity of finding a local artist’s work up at MoMA, I was determined that my friend Carol should hear not just any Antarctica story, but his story, and I wanted her to see his pictures. She had heard Ann Bancroft speak at an event just days before, and I was hoping to continue the Antarctica theme in my gift. So I went to the source. I called up Stuart Klipper and I asked if I might bring my friend in for a private studio tour.  read more »

Art at the airport: O'Hare turns corridors into galleries worth seeing

I’ve been in and out of Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport at least a dozen times in my life, and yet I had never seen it. Not really. Not until a recent business trip that included a lengthy layover, which afforded me the time. Usually I’m sprinting from Terminal 1 to the far end of Terminal 5 en route to China or some other faraway place. And trust me, that takes a good 20 minutes (even longer in heels), plus a shuttle ride. My apologies to passengers who’ve shared a row with sweaty me for 13 hours after that.

This trip, though, I got to walk slowly. This time, I looked up, down and sideways, and was delighted by each and every view, from the perforated aluminum ribcage of the ceilings to the simulated ribcage of a dinosaur skeleton promoting the Museum of Natural History. What impressed me the most was an exhibit called The Abstract Mind Mural: Exploring Mental Health, sponsored by the Neuman Association. This is a series of paintings and prints in the corridors between terminals 2 and 3. If you’re changing planes, you can’t miss it (unless you are breathlessly lunging toward your gate with no time to spare, of course).  read more »

Art imitates...the artist!

Seen at the Halloween party of friends Emily and Bix on Saturday: a couple in costume as Minneapolis painter and self-made objet d’art Scott Seekins (in black for fall and winter, and in white for spring and summer). Life may imitate art, and art may imitate life, but in the case of these clever costumes, art very convincingly imitates the artist!

Above, Mod Mama Em spanks Big Baby Bix. At left, Scott’s Halloween party clone. At right, Scott himself, in the Night & Day radio studio.

Of course, with all of that black and white going on, I felt rather conspicuous…. (Click “Read More” to see my significantly more colorful costume.)  read more »

A New York weekend

French press coffee,
Moving stairs
descend to subways,
Asian girl escaping;
Little sweater dogs in threes,
Picasso,
Mighty willow trees;
The Brooklyn Bridge,

Hotel amenities,
A hip-hop show,
Veselka cabbage rolls;
Designer bags I can’t afford,
A patch of sunlight
outside Russ & Daughters 1914;
Sikh stares from a taxi
idling alongside Central Park;

The shimmering uncertain dark.

"One never knows, DO one?"

That classic line from the Fats Waller musical revue Ain’t Misbehavin’ makes me smile every time I hear it, especially rumbling out of a baritone throat. No, one never knows what might befall one…so why not celebrate, preferably with music, whenever one can?!

Ain’t Misbehavin’ plays at Penumbra Theatre in St. Paul through October 22. EXTENDED THRU NOV. 5! Please, please see it if you can.

See it for the trip back in time, to Harlem in the 1920s and ’30s. See it for Sanford Moore’s musical arrangements that’ll have you jumpin’ and jivin’ in your seat (or, after songs like Black and Blue, dabbing a tear). See it for the dapper and daring costumes by Reggie Ray, and for the passion and purpose of director Patdro Harris. And see it for the sheer magnitude of talent appearing together on Penumbra’s stage: Thomasina Petrus, Jevetta Steele, Austene Van, T. Mychael Rambo, Dennis Spears, and Aimee K. Bryant, who was absent on opening night but whose name is on the program.  read more »

May your teapots be tarnished....

A fastidious friend visited my rather ramshackle abode the other day. I made him tea. When I poured the boiling water from my tiny aluminum kettle, he said, “Omigosh! What happened to your teapot?”

Holding the kettle aloft so that my friend could see its blackened bottom, I explained. “I let my son take it camping. It’s all bronzy from sitting over wood fires.”

“Why?” my friend queried.

“Why what?” I asked, confused.

“Why would you let him take your stuff to go camping? He wrecked it.”

“This kettle was ten dollars at Target,” I said. “And anyway, I like it this way. Every time I heat it up, I smell the forest. I’m a camper, too, y’know.”

My friend just smiled, shook his head, and sipped his tea, clearly thinking that I’m much too lax in the parenting-and-property department. I was smiling, too. When I die, I want my teapots to be tarnished. I want books to be open on the tables. I want surviving siblings to find leftovers from Morton’s in the fridge. And I want them to pop the cork on wines I paid too much for in Australia.

Life is short, is what I’m saying. Let your children take your teapot to the forest. Let there be evidence that you—and they—have lived!

New mag, new club, great party!

I’ve been to magazine launch parties before—New York Woman, Minnesota Ventures (may it rest in peace), and Minneapolis Woman and Women’s Business Minnesota (RIP on both counts), as well as a couple of parenting titles that I don’t recall at the moment—and usually I go home and read the magazine, or at least page through it at the party. But I forgot to grab my copy of METRO Magazine after Friday night’s launch party at Viságe. No matter—it was too dark to read in the club, and I’m still too wiped out from two all-night parties in a row to think about focusing on any printed page.

The METRO staff threw a smashing soirée. Having snagged VIP passes from friends at KSTP-TV, my girl-group shared a free bottle of bubbly (or was it two?) and it didn’t take us long to get happy!  read more »

An Unforgettable Foursome at the Fringe


Before I write a word about the Fringe Festival, let me first admit to feelings of guilt. I saw four productions. Four. That’s like taking four small bites of a chocolate fudge sundae with bananas and a cherry on top—and then watching the rest of it melt. Next year I hope to see more, because after just a spoonful of sugar, the adrenaline goes down.

Here, then, were the highs that I experienced this weekend, accompanied on Friday by friends Jill and Leah, and on Saturday by fun-loving Pi Press A&E team lead Kathy Berdan:

The Depth of the Ocean by Derek Miller, presented by Perpetual Motion Theatre Company in (yes, IN) the swimming pool at the Downtown YWCA. Somehow, inside of 60 minutes, five actors got me to care about five characters from four different periods in time, inexplicably landing in a lifeboat together, and then, one by one, fading away.  read more »

An Unforgettable Foursome at the Fringe

Before I write a word about the Fringe Festival, let me first admit to feelings of guilt. I saw four productions. Four. That’s like taking four small bites of a chocolate fudge sundae with bananas and a cherry on top—and then watching the rest of it melt. Next year I hope to see more, because after just a spoonful of sugar, the adrenaline goes down.

Here, then, were the highs that I experienced this weekend, accompanied on Friday by friends Jill and Leah, and on Saturday by fun-loving Pi Press A&E team lead Kathy Berdan:

The Depth of the Ocean by Derek Miller, presented by Perpetual Motion Theatre Company in (yes, IN) the swimming pool at the Downtown YWCA. Somehow, inside of 60 minutes, five actors got me to care about five characters from four different periods in time, inexplicably landing in a lifeboat together, and then, one by one, fading away.  read more »

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