Wednesday, June 01, 2011
As regular readers well know, I am a habitué of Washington Square Park, my front and back yard. Here, I have met many remarkable people, some of whom have been featured on the website. It has, for a number of us who live in the neighborhood, become a veritable social club.
However, this environment is certainly not for the average palate and admittedly, as is often the case in New York City, one must tolerate a spectrum of people - the violent, hostile, drug addicts and dealers, crusties, homeless, and every manner of misfit, social outcast and criminal known to humankind. Any park regular will by necessity, at least occasionally, encounter, or should I say be accosted by, very unsavory individuals, particularly late at night, which will certainly remove any doubt that werewolves, zombies or vampires do in fact exist.
Building a social life in such an environment tests one's ability to maintain a balance, giving all the benefit of the doubt - being polite and respectful yet cautious. It is a harsh educational experience - one of the many courses for those attending New York's Sidewalk University. The trials and tribulations of being homeless are clearly illuminated - I have learned what this really means on a day to day basis.
Some time ago I had conversation about these matters with Myra, a neighborhood resident, who owns an apartment with one of the finest locations I have ever seen in the Village - a four bedroom corner duplex penthouse that fronts both Fifth Avenue and Washington Square North with a private 1,400 square foot outdoor roof deck and additional terraces in front. You can virtually touch the Washington Square arch from nearly every window and space. At night, the illuminated monument is absolutely stunning.
Myra is well aware of the privileged residence she has. In fact, she expressed her desire to share it more with others. This, in tandem with conversations about taking our park social group indoors from time to time, led Myra to graciously offer her place as venue for a party. The conversation was recently further explored with another local resident, Hellen. Our mutual enthusiasms knew no bounds and in short order, a three person party planning committee was formed.
A spreadsheet was created to manage the names and RSVPs. As any party planner will attest, managing the number of invitees becomes a big challenge - there is no end to who should rightfully be invited and soon our party list numbered 47. Individuals of every imaginable background were in attendance with a heavy representation of musicians, important to all those attending. Music is one of the best loved features of the park's culture.
Initially, the party was to wish a friend farewell who was leaving for the summer - an NYU student who has befriended our group, particularly the musicians (herself a guitarist and singer). Coincidentally, this was also the birthday for Harvey, Hellen's husband, and a celebration for Steve who had just started a new job. Remarkably, Sally, with whom I had a chance encounter in 2010, was coming to New York the very same weekend with her family. It was also the first time I had ever actually planned and cohosted a party, a cause for celebration in its own right. Hellen provided celebratory tags and placed them on dessert cakes for this amazing serendipitous occurrence of five events.
Among the attendees whom I have written about previously were: Sally Darling, Gaby Lampkey, Ferris Butler, Susan Goren and Sage. George Vellonakis, a noted landscape architect responsible for the park redesign was also aboard. Ferris was accompanied by Beverly Ross, singer-songwriter responsible for the hit song "Lollipop."
Unbeknownst to us, George brought a friend, Tina Louise, an actress who is best known for her role as the movie star Ginger on the TV series Gilligan's Island - quite appropriate to round out our own cast of characters. We now had a professor (Steve), Mary, a millionaire and his wife, a movie star (the real Ginger), even a Tiny Louise. Two members of our party planning group certainly qualified as skipper and mate and did their very best to make our group of 47 castaways in self exile very happy and comfortable in Myra's Isle :)
Related Posts: Ferris Butler, Gaby Lampkey Part 2, When Brian Met Sally, Curse of the Mouth Trumpet, Impossible, On the Road, The Bathroom Closes in 20 Minutes, Pockets of Joy, Just Like Old Times, Dave, Smile, The Conductor, Sounds of Summer, Spinning, Park Night