Monday, 17 September 2012

New York in characters...

No, not letters or digits - I mean real live (and some dead) characters. There are millions of them in New York, much as there are in any big city but somehow, in Noo Yoik, they seem to have that little bit more chutzpah  than anywhere else.  

One notable New York character was 
Dorothy Parker 
who was a renowned wit, poet, writer and depressive.  She formed part of the famed Round Table at the Algonquin Hotel in New York from the summer of 1919 until its demise in the late 1920s/early 1930s.  The Round Table - which also called itself 'The Vicious Circle' for a while (a name I much prefer) was formed of a fairly fluid group of authors, columnists, poets and actors and as well as Parker, the group included at any time (amongst many others) Robert Benchley, 

Harpo Marx 

although he probably didn't have a lot to say for himself.

Parker wrote articles, short stories, plays and poetry.  One poem which may well reflect her suicidal tendencies and frequent depressions is called 'You Might As Well Live' and goes like this:-

Razors pain you
Rivers are damp
Acids stain you
Drugs cause cramp
Guns aren't lawful
Nooses give
Gas smells awful
You might as well live

She was equally well known for her witty one-liners - for example when reviewing a performance by the actress Katherine Hepburn, Parker commented acidly that "she runs the gamut of emotions from A to B." Other sayings of hers are "Take care of the luxuries and the necessities will take care of themselves" and "If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to. (I couldn't agree more with both of those!)

Anyway, the point of all this is that I have a cousin who has married an American and now lives in New York State with her family. Unfortunately, on this trip, we only had time to meet up for Brunch one Sunday but she said on the phone that she would book somewhere and where would we like to go?  Maybe somewhere typically New York? Sounds good, I said and was thrilled to find ourselves, a couple of days later, sitting at a table at the site of the actual Round Table in the Algonquin Hotel (sadly the original is long gone).  I would like to think my conversation was up to the sparkling repartee of those long-dead New York characters but, sadly, I know my limitations.  I know my cousin reads my blog - so thank you again K - it was an inspired idea to take us there!

The lobby of the Algonquin
And you don't get away without a couple of (slightly out of focus) photos of the place of worship...
The Round Table (after we'd eaten, so a bit messy!) The painting is of the original Round Table membership including St Dorothy of Parker.
Of course, there are probably still literary salons, overflowing with intelligentsia and oddballs  in existence in the Big Apple.  Unfortunately, we didn't find any.  What we did find, however, was a couple of characters who called themselves the Naked Cowboy and the Naked Cowgirl.  This pair of lovelies hung out in Times Square (where else?) and seemed to make their living by getting punters to give them money for photo ops.

I had to sneak a photo of the Cowboy from behind because I was mightily a-feared of a wardrobe malfunction, given that he was wearing just a pair of flimsy budgie-smugglers...

His oppo was even more gorgeous...ahem...

The Naked Cowgirl.  Note the charming finger gesture...
I have to admit that I sneaked both these snaps without paying.  I got the Cowgirl just after a punter had given her the dollar bills that are shoved down her (substantial) cleavage.  There followed this conversation:-

Punter (excited):  Hey - can I take your picture?  I've heard all about you, my best friend, Caesar, knows you really well!
Naked Cowgirl (deadpan):  Caesar Salad?
Punter (puzzled): Erm no.  Caesar Chavez...

She was a sight to behold.  Clearly she had taken to heart of one of Dorothy Parker's more famous aphorisms - "Brevity is the soul of lingerie".


  1. Almost naked, I'd say.

    The hotel looks lovely, I hope the food was up to the reputation of its clients (you, natch).


    1. Far too close to naked actually Sarah! The hotel was fab. - very grand and atmospheric. I'd love to go back and stay there.

  2. Yup, that was my thought too: not naked! There were people offering this sort of service all over Rome too, though they tended to be 'statues', many of them 'headless' rather than 'naked'.

  3. Thankfully not naked, HF! To be honest, she wasn't a pretty sight with (minimal) clothing so gawd help us if she'd have stripped off completely. And let's face it, spring chicken she was not. I'd be surprised if she saw 50 again *shudder*

  4. Well I've seen the 'entertainers' in Times square, but that Hotel looks fab...what a great idea.....I bet the talk that night was just as witty and entertaining!

    1. The hotel was wonderful Libby, but I don't think Ms Parker needs to be worried about any competition from me on the wittiness front!

  5. Oh my gosh, I know you could have gone toe to tongue with the fabulous Dorothy Parker at the Round Table. Great to see my daughter's namesake (Tallulah) was there as well boozing it up no doubt - Your NY posts take the apple martinis.

    1. Tallulah Bankhead was a real girl! I'm not at all surprised she consorted with Dorothy Parker - I think they were cut from the same cloth. I'm sure your Tallulah will be much better behaved when she grows up....!

  6. What an experience to have lunch at such an iconic venue! Looks gorgeous.

    1. It was such An inspired idea and one I would never have thought of - which made it all the nicer!


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