Fulbright riffs, 1991 — day 79, Friday August 16th

Feeling disoriented waking up to city sounds. Time for another review progress this month and prioritise what’s left to be done before Jayne arrives next week. I manage to fix an appointment with the TV and Radio Museum but a lot of people I wanted to meet, especially from the record industry, such as Ahmet Ertegun and Bruce Lundvall, are out of town for their summer break.

I wander around to the post office to collect some parcels for Howard and Kitty then shop for essentials, plus one inessential but obligatory purchase of cheesecake ($1) from Veniero’s pasticceria.

Brunch back in the apartment is ruined by the discovery that the butter I’ve just purchased is mouldy, so I have to dash back out to change it.

Hot and bothered, I decide to rest up awhile and listen to some of Howard Mandel’s CD collection, diving in at Butch Morris whose ‘conductions’ (a combination of conducting and improvisation) are a revelation, blurring the boundary between composed and improvised orchestral music.

Butch Morris 1984. Photograph by Lona Foote (www.artsjournal.com)

Mid-afternoon, I take a walk down to South Seaport to re-stock on Body Shop stuff (later that day I’d find another branch just around the corner on Broadway). Doubling back from there I view some of the older parts around Wall Street, including the Trinity Churchyard Cemetery.

18th-Century tombstones in Trinity Churchyard

The walk back endangers my already exhausted funds, but clothes are good and cheap in America. The Levi’s store, OMG on Broadway, has most of the styles for $17 but not, of course, the one I want. A suit sale tempts me in [my only suit having been lost or ‘stolen’ just before I left England]. I try on several, alarmed to discover that my time here has added two inches to my chest measurement. I come out empty-handed and head for Fanelli’s to cool down.

Gap is next — a new shirt, then Tower Records where I find the new Kenny Barron album Quickstep I’ve been looking out for, plus CDs of Kurtag, Volans and Busoni (2nd Violin Sonata).


That has to be it for spending on me today and I pause at the enticing Pageant Book & Print Shop only to take a photo. [Pageant features as a location in Woody Allen’s Hannah and and her sisters and its closure in 1994 seems to have been much mourned. It’s now a bar].

After a quick supper back at Howard’s apartment I call Michael Cogswell, who I met the day before yesterday at the Armstrong Archive. He’s still looking for somewhere permanent to live: at the moment he’s staying at the famous Chelsea Hotel [think Bob Dylan, Dylan Thomas, Sid Vicious & Nancy Spungen], not far away on West 23rd. We meet up at the New Music Cafe on Broadway, my tour of New York jazz clubs ending as it began, with Andrew Cyrille, Oliver Lake and Reggie Workman. The club’s echoey acoustic doesn’t do much for the shrillness of Lake’s tone but Workman does some remarkable stuff, especially on Fables of Faubus.

Michael and I take a walk around the Village, along Bleecker Street, and so forth. Friends of mine back in London were right: if you think Soho and the West End are busy after dark, wait until you see Manhattan. The colour and busy-ness of the streets has a lot to do with the large number of young people who are resident rather than just visiting or chilling after work. We pass several jazz clubs I’ve not had time to visit, such as Visiones and the Village Gate. Boutiques abound, selling all manner of strange apparel and junk catering for all tastes.

We carry on walking, passing through Washington Square, near where Grandpa (Al Lewis) from The Munsters has a restaurant called Grampa’s.

We stop at a coffee bar in St Marks where Michael bumps into his friend, Donna Jewell, a writer and performer who lives on East 7th just a few doors away from where I’m staying. She’s a larger than life character. We talk about the Tompkins Square Park situation and she tells me how good an alto player Michael is: he hadn’t mentioned this. Michael’s wife Adele is a psychologist in Denton, Texas, and will join Michael next month, by which time he expects to have found a home for them. I’ve been drinking a local brew, Double Almond Soda.

I arrive back at the apartment around 1.30 and listen to a few tracks from my newly-acquired CDs before turning in.