An Alternative Outlaw and Michelangelo Metropolitan Style
Being in New York for one week to spend Thanksgiving with family started with a very inexpensive fare on Norwegian Airlines, to which I am eternally grateful. The experience has been an event-filled and enlightening one — the kind that makes for memories the rest of one’s life, and in this case, mine and my daughter’s as well as the others we touched.
In last week’s Parler Paris Nouvellettre®, you got a glimpse of the onset of the week, and today’s Nouvellettre® is a report of what the rest of the week was like, now coming to an end as I board the flight back to Paris tonight.
While there’s a lot of alternative medicine in France, certain cities in the U.S. — the ones that welcome free thinking — attract alternative-alternative thinking, too. New York is one of those cities and as a result, my daughter has sought out the alternative thinkers. This time, she talked me into seeing her “ortho-bionomoist” to put my “inner body into alignment.” I thought she was a bit whacky, but she’s known to be resourceful in a homeopathic way, and so I agreed to see him in spite of not having any real complaints.
“‘Ortho-Bionomy’ is a gentle, non-invasive, osteopathically-based form of body therapy which is highly effective in working with chronic stress, injuries and pains or problems associated with postural and structural imbalances” (Wikipedia.org). Think of this practitioner as a kind of osteopath, but thanks to the developer of the practice, British Dr. Arthur Lincoln Pauls, “he found ways of working with the body by exaggerating the body’s preferred postures, thereby permitting the body’s self-healing process to create greater balance and alignment.” I had never heard of it before, but it seems that Ortho-Bionomy has also been taught extensively throughout Europe.
Gary Lee Williams, Erica’s Ortho-Bionomist, took one look at me (fully clothed) and told me that one hip was higher than the other and that my entire body was out of alignment, which is why I couldn’t tilt my head to one side very easily (and this was his diagnosis without me uttering a word about any problems I was having or not). I wouldn’t have had a clue myself about such a misalignment except that one knee was giving me grief walking the streets of New York, about which I did confess.
Gary very gently moved my body into different positions “which facilitated the change of stress and pain patterns.” Within one hour of lying on his table, having fallen asleep fully relaxed while he worked his magic, my entire body felt different as a result. Joints were moving more fluidly. My knee ceased to ache. I felt lighter and more “on my toes.” I didn’t think I needed it before having gone in, but now that I’ve experienced “the magic,” I think a regular “tune-up” would do me good.
I intend to seek it out, and as it turns out, there’s an association in Paris, just in case you are interested in a “tune up,” too.
After Gary’s realignment, Erica and I took the Path Train to Hoboken, New Jersey where we picked up a rental car at Avis (which was one-third the price of a rental car picked up in Manhattan), and drove to Woodstock, about two hours away upstate. Woodstock is where my “outlaws” live — this is what we call each other — the sister of my ex-husband and her husband, Erica’s aunt and uncle. They have lived here for the last 14 or so years, having moved from Los Angeles, where they worked in the film industry until semi-retiring and going for the “good life” in the woods of upstate New York. My ex-husband’s brother from San Francisco joined the party, so for me, it was a family reunion with the “outlaws” — a way of reconnecting with people who were very much family for the 20 years of our marriage, 20 years ago.
While Erica’s aunt was “slaving away” in the kitchen that morning, making a big organic turkey with all the “fixin’s,” alongside another friend of theirs visiting for the holidays, Erica, her uncle and I visited with close Parisian/New York friends who recently purchased a big home in Woodstock…this by coincidence. Once an old remodeled barn, the massive 11,000 square foot abode is currently under renovation to become a multi-purpose facility for rent. With space on several levels, it’s in the midst of becoming a very fine space as a home and perfect venue for weddings, art exhibitions, and other events. I could see how it would make an excellent retreat for something…alternative, or alternative-alternative…or not.
Dinner that afternoon and into the evening was like any other Thanksgiving affair, with a myriad of their friends, an over-abundance of food and a ridiculous array of desserts. Like we always do on such a holiday, we stuffed ourselves silly with everything there was on offering and applauded the chefs. I was introduced, of course, as “the outlaw.” My inclusion there with a family that’s been estranged for 20 years was a very special gift indeed.
The next morning we said our tearful good-byes and hopped in the car to head south to Pawling, New York, to meet with relatives we’d never met before, nor even knew existed until a couple of months ago (facebook.com/slaqueur/videos). They are half-cousins, thanks to a bigamist grandfather who abandoned his Lower East Side New York family with six children (four stepchildren and two of his own), moved west to Texas and began a new family in which he fathered eight children, my father being one of them. He changed his name twice along the way, making it difficult to be traced. Twenty years of research by my half-cousin in Pawling coupled with Ancestry.com that matched Erica’s DNA with the cousins led to and confirmed the unbelievable story.
We were the first of the cousins from the second family to connect with the first family and it was an emotional experience for all of us, particularly for the grandson, Bernie, whose father shares the same name as my father. This means that grandfather Abe fathered a son named David with his first wife, Regina, and another one with his second wife, Esther. One knew nothing about the other…nor did any of us till this recent discovery. Over lunch we shared photos and stories and remarked about the uncanny resemblances among us — the Bierman/Beerman genes obviously quite powerful as our fathers and uncles clearly looked like brothers. I was told that I greatly resembled Bernie’s sister, Evelyn, who we did not meet.
That afternoon, on what is known as “Black Friday,” while everyone else was out shopping, we headed south back to Hoboken to return the rental car and spend the rest of the weekend in The City meeting up with friends, eating out, shopping and enjoying the beautifully sunny days in New York. We lunched with ex-Parisian Kein Cross, who once owned Club Rayé in Paris. He gave it up after there were too many hurdles keeping a business alive in France. He’s back to his brilliant interior design work and marketing a line of champagne under the name of Zebra, while working on a new club idea in New York…quite happily without the French administration on his back. We aficionados of Club Rayé quite miss him and his elegant night club in the 2nd arrondissement.
One dinner in the West Village was with The Fabulous LuLu LoLo, a.k.a. Lois Evans, a New York actress and performance artist who has a special affinity for Paris and with whom we have come to adore. LuLu’s been on a campaign for the last few years to increase the number of public monuments named after women. She pops up around New York dressed as Jeanne d’Arc while asking people to nominate women who they think should be memorialized with a public monument. People have suggested everyone from Bella Abzug to Dorothy Day to Fannie Lou Hamer and Patti LaBelle…and even me (thanks to my daughter).
While Erica and I were shopping along Broadway Saturday afternoon, she got word that Madonna (yes, THE MADONNA) personally Instagrammed a couple of the photos Erica had taken for her new line of cosmetics! The photos will be appearing in Marie Claire and a number of other fashion magazines in the near future, some two-page spreads. That news gave her impetus to splurge on a couple of new things for herself and glow with pride the rest of the day…well deserved after so much hard work as a freelance photographer trying to “make it” in New York.
Sunday was the perfect day to meet up with old friends from New Orleans, New York and Paris to visit the “Michelangelo at The Met – Divine Draftsman & Designer?” exhibition at the The Metropolitan Museum of Art, which is known as just “The Met” by every New Yorker and beyond. Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel was reproduced in glass, backlit and hung as a false ceiling. I had just seen the real thing in Rome just a month earlier, but the 133 drawings, several of his marble sculptures, his earliest painting, his wood architectural model for a chapel vault, as well as a substantial body of complementary works by other artists on display were overwhelmingly magnificent and well worth battling the hordes of people in The Met on a Sunday afternoon.
The David Hockney exhibition that was recently at the Centre Pompidou in Paris officially opened today at The Met, but my press pass was granted a special preview so we wandered through it after the “sensory overload” of seeing the Michelangelo works. That wasn’t enough — as one cannot help, but wander through the galleries of 19th and Early 20th-Century European Paintings and Sculpture — The Met’s world-famed collection of European paintings from Giotto to Gauguin. It’s collection of French painting between neo-Classicism and post-Impressionism is second only to Paris, with extensive holdings of the work of Corot, Courbet, Manet, Monet, Degas, Cézanne, and Van Gogh.
It was then that I realized how much I missed Paris and look forward to being home in the City of Light…as soon as tomorrow morning.
A la prochaine…
(with Erica in Woodstock)
P.S. Get ready for a special Après Midi December 12. Our guests will be Joanne and David Burke discussing their latest documentary, “PARIS NOIR, African Americans in the City of Light.” Deatails on our Après Midi page. We’ll see you there!