Category Archives: Photos

New York City is Back!

You may recall that when the pandemic struck in 2020 with its epicenter at New York City, people, especially the well-to-do, fled the city in droves. Like many other predictions about the long-term effects of the pandemic, many observers declared the city permanently “dead.”

Turns out, like many a political poll, those doomsayers were wrong. To paraphrase the misquote attributed to Mark Twain, the reports of New York City’s demise were exaggerated. Recent data indicates large in-migration to the great city. While it’s not scientific, we can testify that the Big Apple is indeed back in business.

We took Amtrak from Washington for Memorial Day weekend and what a weekend it was! We arrived late Friday afternoon and were confronted with the usual late afternoon bedlam around the no-longer-new Moynihan Penn station. We rushed in a bone-jarring taxi ride up 8th Avenue to our hotel to change, met a dear friend for dinner at PJ Clarke’s, then walked with her to Dizzy’s Club to see the 9:30 performance of the Bill Charlap Trio. Because we were among the first to arrive, they seated us in the second tier of tables directly in front of the piano (the first row of tables is reserved for couples).

We have seen Charlap several times, and considered him the quintessential New York piano jazzman, playing tunes like Autumn in New York with somewhat mellow tones redolent of a moody late-night experience in the one of the world’s greatest cities. His music typically creates a sense of leaning into the vibe of the city, a kind of calm within a storm.

This night, however, Charlap was in a different zone, on full tilt from the first note and usually ending each song with a dramatic crashing of the keys, reminiscent of the great Cyrus Chestnut. It was a spectacular virtuoso performance from start to finish, accompanied by two of New York’s most in-demand sidemen: Peter Washington on bass and Kenny Washington on drums. We’ve seen both many times with different leaders, and they never disappoint. We were blown away by the power and musical drama of a world-class jazz trio, one of the greatest nights of jazz we’ve ever seen.

An additional treat we didn’t expect – Charlap rose from the bench several times to talk about the history of the music and the composers, something rare among jazz artists who mostly just want to play.

The final surprise occurred in the men’s room as I was leaving. Charlap and I ended up there together. I could not avoid engaging him, so I told him how spectacular we thought the performance had been. Characteristically, I think, he seemed genuinely moved and, after asking my name, thanked me profusely. No sign of artistic hubris, just happy that he had succeeded in making us happy.

We stumbled back to our hotel and collapsed, wasted, over-stimulated and completely thrilled by what we had seen.

Saturday arrived with some of the most spectacular Spring weather New York City has ever experienced. We met another friend at the Tavern-on-the-Green where the walkers, bikers, scooters, pedi-cabs, and runners were thronging on the main road around Central Park. People were everywhere soaking up the sun and blessedly mild temperature and humidity.

After brunch, we subwayed to Astoria and visited the Museum of the Moving Image, a surprisingly interesting place where my wife practiced her puppetry skills with one of the Muppet characters. The place is like many specialty museums – overwhelming in its scope and depth. Three learning experiences stood out to me: (1) most of the dialogue in movies is added after the filming of the (typically) multiple takes of each scene; (2) in televised baseball games, the camera shots (and dialogue of the broadcasters) are coordinated by a person who constantly directs which camera is live on the TV screen, often changing every few seconds, and the announcers have to keep up extemporaneously; and (3) the technology behind the Muppets is extraordinarily sophisticated and complex, remarkable to see in action.

We highly recommend this museum to everyone interested in how things work and the illusions that television and movies create.

We taxied to 31st Avenue for the Asia & Pacific Islander Festival, a smallish gathering on a closed-off street where my wife’s New York hula troupe was performing. She had a joyous reunion with some old friends not seen since 2019, before the pandemic shut everything down. The aloha was strong in this group.

We raced back to Manhattan on the subway, changed clothes, had dinner at The Smith and walked across the street to the always spectacular Lincoln Center. We had great orchestra seats to what became one of the most exciting ballet evenings we have ever experienced.

New York City Ballet never disappoints and often just takes your breath away with the precision, stamina and virtuosic moves that are their trademark. This night was no exception.

Fancy Free was first up and surprised me with its energy and interest. The concept is that a trio of sailors are in town at a bar looking for companionship (it was in fact Fleet Week in NYC, so this made sense). A competition ensues when they meet just two women and, after a brief encounter with a third, end up with no one. The ladies are simply not having it. The contest for the females’ allegiance is sometimes intense, but in the end the young men are drawn back to their comradeship. Fancy Free is not my favorite style of ballet, but the dancers were amazing, and the choreography kept my attention throughout.

The music is by Leonard Bernstein with choreography by Jerome Robbins, whose work is, of course, brilliant. The musical and dancing style connection with West Side Story soon became very clear. Familiar but not distracting.

We knew this was the teaser for what followed: Agon, which means “struggle” or “conflict” in Greek. Music by Igor Stravinsky, choreography by, who else, George Balanchine. We did not know what to expect but had seen a video about the famous pas de deux narrated by Maria Kowroski [] that helped us understand what was going on. Agon was described in the Playbill this way:

The dance critic Alistair McCauley says that many who saw the first performance of Agon were struck by how the music and movement created an impression of “shapes, phrases, rhythms and sounds that hadn’t been encountered before, but embodied New York modernism itself.” The ballet is more than 60 years old but seems completely modern in style and costumes. Remarkable in every way, and, as usual, NYCB was at the top of its game. We both were entranced by the spectacle.

The evening was completed with Brandenburg, music by Johann Sebastian Bach and choreography by Jerome Robbins. Performed to excerpts from four of the Brandenburg Concertos with a large ensemble, the dancing was joyous. We were delighted to see Mira Nadon, who was promoted to the rank of soloist dancer in January 2022, and to principal just a year later. She is the first Asian-American female principal dancer at NYCB and a delight to watch. Brandenburg is long, maybe too much for us, although we were exhausted after our busy Friday and Saturday. There is, however, no denying the exceptional quality of the dancing throughout.

The next morning, we subwayed to Brooklyn to have brunch with another couple, also dear friends, and enjoyed, as always, a lively discussion of many things New York and beyond. We then walked together to the riverfront where the view of the Statue of Liberty was stunning in the late morning sun.

Sunday afternoon was, for me, yet another wonderful surprise. We had front row tickets at the Shubert Theatre for the matinee performance of Some Like It Hot, the updated adaptation of the Tony Curtis-Jack Lemon 1959 movie. Two down-on-their-luck musicians witness a mob hit and must flee for their lives. They disguise as women and join a newly formed, also struggling, all-female band.

I had given little thought to this show and expected an overly loud rock-music-based show. Wrong in every aspect. This was one of the funniest shows we have ever seen, and we’ve seen most of the great Broadway musicals. The music, dancing, acting were spectacular in every way. We both thought sitting so close might be problematic, but it was fascinating to see the dancers so close, performing incredibly high-energy moves in a somewhat constrained space and never missing a beat. Each dancer attending to his or her own space and actions with the result reminiscent of whirling dervishes. I noticed particularly the racial expressions and eye contact the dancers had with the audience – subtle but essential to the overall effect of the action. Perfect synchrony and stunning to see up close.

Each of the primary actor/singers was exceptional but note must be made of the role of Sugar played this day by the understudy, Kayla Pecchioni, who was remarkable in every way. Returning to my earlier mention of an updated adaptation, for this show, one of the two musicians is a Black man, played to perfection by J. Harrison Ghee. His facial expressions alone were worth the price of admission, but the man can also sing, dance and act. The updated show touches issues of race and gender, both handled with great humor in, for example, the song, You Can’t Have Me (If You Don’t Have Him), that gave the show a modern relevance.

While obviously presenting a very different vibe than masterpieces like Miss Saigon that have moved me to tears, Some Like It Hot is one of the most entertaining shows I have ever seen. It was, we both thought, flawless. If you get the chance to see it, don’t miss the opportunity. You will not be disappointed.

Our weekend escapade ended that evening with dinner at a wonderful New York style red-sauce Italian restaurant called Il Corso at 54 West 55th Street. The waiters were extremely attentive and helpful, and the food was phenomenal, especially the soup of the day, a puree of chickpeas and potatoes with some special spices. Remarkable and highly recommended.

Overall, then, our weekend in New York City was a smash hit in every way. Spectacular weather and phenomenal entertainment by the best-of-the-best. Unforgettable. Can’t wait to return.

White House Tour – A Great Comfort

We were privileged last week to tour the People’s House, courtesy of Rep. Don Beyer. While it was sunny, it was probably the second coldest day of the winter so far. But we braved it with a stop at the White House Visitors Center first. There, curiously, we underwent security checks that rival anything you would experience at an airport. Then, at the White House itself, to which we walked on the street unguarded, it was just empty your pockets of metals and step through magnetometer. We were, however, sniffed by a guard dog on the grounds after we entered the final stretch to the main House.

I am delighted to say that the public portions of the White House revealed very little evidence that the Trumps had ever occupied it. Most of the photos and other artwork feature other presidents – you know, the real ones.

The tour surprisingly was self-guided, but people moved along without issue, taking many photos. We too did our share of gawking and photographing. A sample follows. When we moved back outside to leave and turned to photo the portico, who should appear but Senator Tammy Duckworth and an aide, moving fast to escape the cold.

The final charm occurred after we left the grounds. A youngish tourist couple with a child stopped us to ask if we had taken the tour and was it wonderful. We exclaimed about the experience and explained how to get on the list. They remarked how lucky we were to have done this. Indeed.

A Night to Remember

Long before the final curtain dropped, you could sense what was coming. It was in the tone of the applause that broke out periodically In appreciation of virtuosic solo performances, not unlike the applause of knowledgeable jazz audiences for solos in the middle of longer pieces.

Last evening, we were privileged to witness the stunning performance of Giselle by the United Ukrainian Ballet company in its United States premiere. The core story, set in medieval times, is simple enough. A peasant girl with a weak heart is fooled by a desirous nobleman passing himself off as an ordinary man. The man is already engaged to marry the daughter of the Prince. A woodsman, also smitten by Giselle, discovers the nobleman’s sword and reveals his identity to Giselle. The girl cannot believe the revelation at first but, as the truth sinks in, she descends into despair and dances herself to death as her heart gives out.

In Act Two, the nobleman finds Giselle’s grave in the woods. He too is in despair at the loss of his love. The Wilis then appear, all in white. They are apparitions of girls who have died when betrayed by their lovers on the eve of their weddings.Any man caught by them between midnight and dawn will be forced to dance until he dies.  Giselle is now one of them, but she saves the nobleman, whom she still loves, by delaying his death until sunrise forces the Wilis to withdraw. She, of course, disappears with them.

Last night, Giselle’s (Iriyna Zhalovska) descent from joyous dancing maiden into overwhelming grief was portrayed with astonishing changes in her appearance and demeanor as she danced furiously in the growing realization that she had been betrayed. The stage presence of Kateryna Derechnya was stunning as the cold-hearted Myrtha, Queen of the Wilis. The corps de ballet created a perfect illusion of joyous country dancing in the village and later as the ethereal and intimidating Wilis.

As said at the beginning of this post, the momentum to inevitable conclusion grew as the ballet unfolded. When the curtain fell, there was a short period of silent anticipation. When it rose again, the audience went crazy, immediately on their feet, yelling, whistling, and applauding with enthusiasm appropriate to the remarkable performance we had seen.

First on stage were the two principals. They produced a now familiar blue and gold Ukrainian flag. Then as the entire cast and crew assembled on stage, there was mostly silent respect as they dancers and crew sang, hands on hearts, the Ukrainian national anthem.  One of the flags they held had writing on it: Make Dance Not War. When they finished, more extravagant applause.


Tragically, the genocidal attack by Russia on Ukraine continues. The appearance of the United Ukrainian Ballet company in Washington is nothing short of a miracle. You can, for a short time, read about the company and its dancers, its history, and their extraordinary survival story here: Don’t skip over the “Message from the Producers” that tells the story of the company’s escape from the Russian attack.

Other reviews are here:  Unfortunately, by the time you read this, there likely will be only one performance remaining at the Kennedy Center and it is, I am happy to note, Sold Out, as well it should be.

I have not found a list of future performances but surely there will be more. If you can, don’t miss it. It may break your heart as it did Giselle’s, but you will be better for it.

Memes Again — Devoted to Guns

WARNING: many of the images here are disturbing to anyone who is not enamored of guns. DO NOT LOOK further if you think you may be emotionally damaged by these images. They tell a story but it is the saddest story I know. PLEASE be careful.

This first set of images was selected from the suddenly archived website of Daniel Defense, the company that made/sold the weapon used by the Uvalde, Texas school shooter.

The caption on this one read: “He is Risen.” Followed by a hands-in-prayer emoji:

Caption: Don’t miss the chance to spoil mom this Mother’s Day! Take 25% off all ladies’ tees and save on gifts that will have mom feeling like #1. Valid through May 9, 2022. Shop for mom today at
This one advocates using sound suppressors:

Finally, and most remarkable, with this caption: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it. 🙏”

The remaining images are from Twitter & Facebook posts.

You likely know that we lead the world in gun deaths. You also know that every effort to address the issues has been stymied by Republican politicians. You know what to do.

What a Picture is Worth ….

Island Paradise

We returned recently from our twice-postponed [COVID] celebration of my wife’s birthday and our wedding anniversary. We have generally visited one or the other Hawaiian islands at least every other year. My wife lived there for eight years, and I have traveled there for business and pleasure many times. Hawaii remains one of the great travel experiences in the world.

The pandemic disrupted the rhythm of our visits and at a bad time. The second postponement was necessary because the Governor and health chief publicly announced that the islands could not handle a wave of COVID cases in visitors and, therefore, no one should come for a while. Extraordinary and sad for everyone.

Then the situation improved and off we went. The actual going and coming had some issues but we’ll just leave them unsaid. We want to share a few of the reasons Hawaii is special – photos of the birds, the flowers, the extraordinary trees and the “scenes.” These are a very small sample so, by all means, book yourself a dream trip. And while you’re there, book a birding tour with Oahu Nature Tours. It’s run by Michael Walther who is extremely knowledgeable about the wildlife and t geography/geology/history of the islands. He and his delightful partner Cecilia took on a great ride around the island in a Mercedes sedan. We went places you would never know about on your own and had a great day’s unique experience.

Ballet in Hawaii – Oh Yes!!

You probably recall the experience of being invited to the home of a relative or friend to see the “slides” of their vacation somewhere. If you were fortunate, enough alcohol was served to get you through the seemingly interminable photos of places you hadn’t been and people you didn’t know, but you were sure a grand time was had by all. And how can I gracefully get out of here? If the internet had existed back then, the “slide show” would surely have been a popular meme.

I recall that because I did it, mostly to relatives who, I had convinced myself, were interested in what we had seen and done on the many trips I took for business and pleasure. I now doubt they were interested but tolerant enough.

That said, if you have followed this blog for long, you know that I occasionally post photos of places and sights that I think are worth sharing. The good news is you don’t have to look.

But I hope you will look at these few shots because they represent the future of ballet in Hawaii and these young people are genuinely amazing and deserving of support. What? Ballet in Hawaii? Indeed.

Our recent, twice postponed (pandemic) vacation/anniversary/wife’s birthday trip to Honolulu let to a surprising and inspiring discovery. As usual, we had planned many elements of the trip, but we found ourselves on the first day with … no plan! We had expected to be jet-lagged and not much into activity, but upon looking for something to do, we came upon Their final studio performance was the next day, so we bought tickets and took an Uber to the studio.

What a wonderful surprise! These young and gifted people put on a show to remember. Short pieces involving different members of the group and covering the full range of classical and modern themes. Their commitment to the discipline of ballet was evident in the quality of their dancing and their obvious enthusiasm for this difficult art form.

These are two professional shots of the group that they kindly shared with us.

Below are a few of the shots I took. I wanted to capture some of the dancing, but the setting was too intimate for me to be clicking away while they did their thing.

You can see the Performing Ensemble up close here:  Note them well. Someday, we’re sure, we’ll be seeing some of these names in major dance companies around the country.

Strong At Every Position

The title of this post is a phrase often used in sports journalism to describe a team that has highly rate players in every position on the starting team. It is a gross understatement as it applies to the American Ballet Theater dancers and others involved in producing Don Quixote last night at the Kennedy Center. The program can be seen here:

The evening began when Devon Teuscher, principal dancer with ABT, emerged on stage to announce that the evening’s performance was dedicated to Ukraine and its fight for independence. She then invited “those who are able” to stand for the playing of the Ukraine national anthem. The audience roared its approval and virtually everyone was on their feet. A wonderful moment.

The performance that followed was extraordinary as well. From the spectacular stagecraft to the dancing itself, words almost fail. The ballet has three acts, the middle one being somewhat slow but with elegance that reminded me of scenes from Swan Lake. The first and third acts were just high-energy explosive displays of artistry, discipline and skill. The unison of the dancing groups was surreal.

The leading role of Kitri, the heroine whose affections are the subject of the main “contest” for her hand in marriage, was performed by Christine Shevchenko, a native of Ukraine, making the evening’s dedication even more poignant. Her extraordinary biography is here: and last night she lived up to her credits, dominating every scene in which she appeared. Phenomenal in every way. That is not to take away from the other dancers. Everyone was exceptional in their assigned parts.

The evening ended with another surprise. Shevchenko, having taken her bows with the others, ran off stage and returned with the Ukraine flag, producing another roar of approval from the standing crowd. This is the photo, hurriedly taken with a cell phone to capture the unexpected moment.

New York City Ballet company is coming to the Kennedy Center in June. That too will be spectacular. There are likely seats left. Get yours before it’s too late!


No Words Needed