You may think I’m blogging about The Living Theatre organization, down on Clinton Street, founded as a commercial theatre alternative by Judith Malina in 1947. The group once had a temporary home at Cherry Lane Theatre, a venue both literally and figuratively near to my heart. But nope, for once, I’m speaking strictly in the literal sense.
New York apartment politics have been rearing their heady ugliness this week—it’s been particularly stressful for the dwindling middle class of rent stabilized apartmentus personae—if Albany doesn’t make quick work of it, landlords will be able to de-stabilize lots of units like mine. On top of all that, my landlord has grown pretty frugal in the post-dog lady-era. You know her, the woman who moves into your residential building and decides that it’s the perfect locale to run a doggie boarding business out of the fourth floor. Up to eleven dogs in a small studio who take over the backyard… who would possibly object?
Well, thankfully, her lease was not renewed by the powers-that-be; however, these same powers-that-be sank zero dollars into the yard that was all but a sandlot after so many dogs used it regularly for unsavory purposes, up to five times a day. I was hoping her security deposit would be commandeered for reconstruction of the garden, but after my piteous e-mail to the building manager went unanswered, I knew I had to take matters into my own hands. Alas, two trips to Home Depot, two more to Manhattan’s lovely garden district on West 28th between 6th and 7th Avenues, and lots of friend-power (Maria, Sue, Billy & Brad, I am forever in your debt and will be throwing you birthday barbecues until we all turn 30—or beyond!), I have finally, more-or-less, aside from some mulching and tweaking, managed to restore my third of the yard.
I’ll post some more pics when it’s 100% complete, but above are a few of the progression from Guatemala sinkhole to near-lovely cottage garden. I can’t wait to lay down some of the volcanic-colored mulch so the greens and whites (and pinks) pop even more! Also, so much muddy work had me pondering some of my favorite shows that feature things of the photosynthesizing variety. And because I’m ME and you’re YOU, I figured we’d do a Top 3 List (I love lists almost as much as my new garden).
Okay, technically, ‘Grey Gardens’ is the name of an East Hampton estate and the story is more about the dilapidated house, perhaps, than surrounding vegetation that is all but consuming the decrepit building and the lives of Big and Little Edie. They are Bouvier-Beales—Jackie Kennedy’s Aunt and Cousin, and also, tremendous hoarders, who are quite out of their minds, if we’re being frank. Their fall from socialite status to near homelessness and insanity is one of the freshest new musicals to come out of the early 2000s, based, of course, on the 1975 documentary of the same name. It opened at my favorite Broadway theater, The Walter Kerr, in 2006, and starred Christine Ebersole, who played the young Big Edie, and then Little Edie in Act II. I thought it was the performance of a lifetime, and so did the Times.
THE SECRET GARDEN
I remember taking acting classes with little Daisy Eagan (not to be confused with the aforementioned Little Edie), who was so delightful and flawlessly cast in the lead role of this musical, based on a novel from 1911. You know how I love stage adaptions of novels. After being orphaned following a cholera epidemic during the time of the British Raj, ten-year-old Mary Lennox is sent to live with mysterious relatives in Yorkshire—no pudding. Daisy was the youngest female Tony winner at the time. The set was comprised of life size paper dolls and overgrown toys—I loved the set, it was fittingly magical, like a Victorian theater playset.
LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS
I spent last week prancing about the Bushwick Arts Festival—it’s so good to remind people to get out of Manhattan to younger BK neighborhoods where artists actually live and work and create the kind of risky and experimental art that you’ll never see in a Chelsea gallery. Check out these mobile art galleries in the backs of trucks! (up top) And… as I was strolling by a street stand with old vinyl records, my eye was immediately drawn to this somewhat rare copy of the original LITTLE SHOP… album. I must have looked all googly-eyed because the sweetest Bushwick resident in the whole world bought it for me ☺. How can we even talk about plants and theatre without bringing this classic into the potting mix? I don’t think a greater role has been written for a plant since.