Tag Archives: New York City

➤ Fond farewells to Joe Allen who revolutionised London’s restaurant scene

Joe Allen, obituaries,Covent Garden, New York City, Orso, restaurants, tributes, theatreland,

Joe Allen at his regular spot at Joe Allen NYC, opened in 1965, before his block was christened Restaurant Row. (Photo: Todd Heisler/The New York Times)

❚ JOE ALLEN, THE RESTAURATEUR who splashed bazzazz across theatreland, has died aged 87. His photograph confirms the memory of him being a double for Humphrey Bogart, who as Rick also sat alone at his own table in the film Casablanca – though Lauren Bacall always denied any similarity! He pioneered his empire in 1965 with two outlets in New York City on a strip of West 46th Street that would become known as Restaurant Row. Then in 1972 he took the Joe Allen brand to Paris and in 1977 to London, opening both Joe Allen’s in a former orchid warehouse, as well as Orso’s Italian brasserie, during the revival of Covent Garden which had idled since 1974 when the vegetable market moved out.

Immediately lunchtimes became social hubs for publishers from Bloomsbury and newspaper hacks from Fleet Street, both a short walk away. By night both places were packed with stars coming on from their West End shows and I only ever managed to sit on star table No 1 once which was in 1984 when I met Hollywood’s legendary Dorian Gray, the actor Hurd Hatfield, visiting from his home in Ireland, who told a very bawdy joke (sorry, unrepeatable)! On Saturday nights Andrew Neil, editor of The Sunday Times from 1983 to 1994, held court round a large table at Orso with his top team awaiting a courier bringing first-edition proofs for the next day’s paper.

Joe Allen’s personal style was laconic, his restaurants unpretentious and clublike, from red brick walls to an inexpensive hamburger-led menu, and waiting staff who were invariably resting actors. Most famously the walls were lined with theatre posters – of productions that had flopped. Notable patrons have included A-listers such as Al Pacino, Stephen Sondheim, Elaine Stritch, Elizabeth Taylor, Sean Connery and Sir Ian McKellen, while the restaurants maintained a strict no-photograph policy to protect the privacy of its high-profile guests.

Though Joe himself was very visible during the first year in London, often sitting at the table beside the kitchen, in fact the day-to-day operation was run by the baker Richard Polo as a partner, who died in 2019.

❏ Joseph Campbell Allen, born 20 Feb 1933, died 7 Feb 2021.

Joe Allen, Covent Garden, New York City, Orso, restaurants, tributes, theatreland,

Informality the keynote: Joe Allen’s restaurant on West 46th Street. (Photo: Robert Stolarik/The New York Times)


➢ Less about the food than about the atmosphere – Obituary by Joyce Purnick in the NY Times: “West 46th Street’s proximity to New York’s theater district made it viable, and Mr Allen, concluding that actors, directors, writers and theater patrons would always want to eat, created a relaxed pub aimed at attracting the theater crowd. There was nothing quite like the restaurant in the mid-1960s, and it took off.”

➢ Remembering Joe Allen, who fed Broadway in untheatrical style – by Peter Khoury in the NY Times: “Even before Joe opened Joe Allen, he was a partner in an Upper East Side restaurant called Allen’s. If you watch the 1965 Jack Lemmon comedy How to Murder Your Wife, you’ll see a few shots of a handsome, dark-haired bartender there. That’s Joe.”

➢ A magnet for actors, journalists and royalty – Obituary in The Times of London: “Allen kept a flat in Chelsea, visiting London several times a year. Business meetings occupied his mornings. At night he perched at the end of the bar quietly draining a case of his favourite American imported beers and observing more than conversing with a studied determination not to “inflict myself on the customers”. If he sat at a table it was always the worst one in the house.”

Joe Allen, Covent Garden, New York City, Orso, restaurants, theatreland,

Poster wall of flop shows at Joe Allen’s: at centre, “Got Tu Go Disco” a short-lived musical from 1979. (Photo: Sara Krulwich)

FRONT PAGE

➤ A personal tale about the genius staring out from a painting expected to sell for £30m tonight

David Hockney, Henry Geldzahler, Christopher Scott, Photography, painting, auction, Christie's London,

Being auctioned tonight at Christie’s: Henry Geldzahler and Christopher Scott by David Hockney (1969, acrylic on canvas). Private collection. © David Hockney

THIS MESMERISING HUGE CANVAS TITLED Henry Geldzahler and Christopher Scott was painted by David Hockney in 1969 and is expected to sell at Christie’s tonight for at least £30million and today is the public’s last chance to view it until 4pm. It creates an intense dialogue between Hockney and his soulmate Henry, whose hairline is the picture’s vanishing point. By chance I got to know Henry in 1977, later stayed at his house in Greenwich Village and of course had to try-out the by then fabled pale mauve sofa pictured here.

We’d met during the best holiday of my life that summer at a house party hosted by the painter Teddy Millington-Drake at his vast 17th-century villa on Patmos, the Greek Island where St John had his apocalyptic Revelation. Two dozen guests, several with their kids, had arrived either like me on the weekly boat from Athens or on their own yachts (there were no direct flights to Patmos) for what proved to be a conclave of amusing, clever and influential movers and shakers from across the international art scene who utterly changed my understanding of life, the universe etcetera.

Henry himself, a three-in-one wit, wag and Svengali, undoubtedly changed the course of modern art by shifting its centre from Paris to New York, and affirmed the credibility of the term Pop Art. While only in his 30s he became the Metropolitan Museum’s first curator for 20th-century art and in 1969 mounted the landmark exhibition of 408 contemporary American works executed between 1940 and 1970 by artists he called “deflectors” of prevailing trends, such as Warhol, Gorky, Pollock, Rothko, Rauschenberg, Stella, Johns, Hopper. It was an immediate sensation. A new canon.

David Hockney, Henry Geldzahler, Christopher Scott, Irving Penn, Photography, painting, Andy Warhol

My photo of Henry Geldzahler in 1981: taking receipt of Irving Penn’s new portrait of him, in his NYC cultural commissioner’s office

I met Henry again in 1981 the very day he took receipt of a new portrait of him by photographer Irving Penn. I was in NYC that May during the First Blitz Invasion of the USA when I accompanied the 21 Blitz Kids who included the synth-led Spandau Ballet and Jon (Mole) Baker’s Axiom design collective who played a gig and staged a runway fashion show to introduce Manhattan to the new stars of Swinging London.

By then Henry had become New York’s first Commissioner of Cultural Affairs, appointed by the mayor Ed Koch. I visited his office at Columbus Circle and he played along when I suggested taking a souvenir snap so that my portrait of him cunningly captures him four times over: Henry in life reclining on his chaise, holding the Penn portrait, in the glass of which we see reflected the Warhol lithograph of him from 1979. Behind on an easel stands a further 1973 head-and-shoulders by Hockney (savagely cropped to maximise impact in this post).

Henry, who died in 1994, was described as the world’s “most powerful and controversial art curator”. He must also have been one of the most painted and photographed curators ever. “There are lots of pictures of Henry,” said Hockney. “He didn’t have many mirrors in his home. He knew what he looked like just by asking people to make portraits of him.”

David Hockney, Henry Geldzahler, Christopher Scott, art, painting,

Masterpiece of pictorial drama (detail): the central subject in Hockney’s painting of Geldzahler and Scott stares back, evaluating the painter’s every move. (My photo)

➢ Henry Geldzahler and Christopher Scott is Lot 8 in the sale An American Place: The Barney A. Ebsworth Collection at Christie’s London, 6 March 2019, from 7pm. Update: the painting went in three minutes flat for £33million.

FRONT PAGE

➤ £41 buys no diploma in Bowie-ana but you will be ready to compete on Mastermind


◼ STARMAN: HOW DAVID BOWIE LIT UP THE 1970s is the title of a two-session course coming up next month at London’s premiere adult-education institute, the City Lit. But you will have to get out of bed on two Sunday mornings to attend. The course costs £41 and its tutor, the music writer Toby Manning whose specialist subject is Pink Floyd, aims it at “music lovers generally” who will find out “how David Bowie’s songs, persona and style broke with 60s values and aesthetics and largely ‘invented’ the 70s”.

Toby promises lots of videos and says: “Watch how, through constant reinvention, Bowie’s relentless creativity set and reset the agenda for rock music throughout the 1970s and beyond.” Test your tutor’s mettle by viewing the stupendous Young Americans video from 1973 [above] and asking why Bowie is wearing those fabulous shoulders and what agenda did they set?

Afterwards, Toby promises, you should be able to “hold your own in any discussion about David Bowie”. So you’ll be ready to impress Mastermind’s 1.74 million viewers. Howzaboutthatthen!

➢ Details of the City Lit’s FE course in Bowie-ana and many more

OCT 19 POSTSCRIPT: BOWIE ‘STILL ALIVE’ CLAIMS

David Bowie , New York, paparazzi,

Daily Telegraph: “David Bowie after collecting food from a cafe, bearing little resemblance to the fashion icon of the 1970s” (© Splash News)

➢ Update Oct 18, 2012 — “David Bowie: singer’s pale appearance reignites health fears” … Relentlessly downbeat report at The Telegraph online about “the polymorphic rocker’s” health beneath this genial paparazzi pic taken after picking up a takeaway lunch from the Italian Bottega Falai Café in New York.

David Bowie , New York, paparazzi

Daily Mail: “A grinning David Bowie has a wide smile as he joins Coco Schwab for lunch at Sant Umbroeus in New York” (© Splash News)

➢ Update Oct 19 — Reclusive David Bowie heads for lunch in New York… and he’s smiling again … Today’s Daily Mail follows up with five more pix from Splash News showing a very relaxed Bowie heading off to lunch: “Judging by the wide grin on his face, Bowie was feeling great.”

Between the two national newspaper reports accompanying these snaps of Bowie as a “hoodie”, neither offers one new piece of information and all the pix are completely undated. Eagle-eyed fashionistas will notice in the first “takeaway lunch” shot without his zebra print scarf he sports different shoes from today’s pix taken en route to a restaurant. So either David has scoffed two lunches, or, let’s guess, they were taken on different days.

FRONT PAGE

➤ Godlike Bowie proves mortal by hailing cab in NYC — but colour coordination flawless

David Bowie, New York City, cab, paparazzi

Bowie papped as he hails a cab in New York City, April 13, 2012. How cool is that silhouette (hashtag_unpolished_shoes)

David Bowie, New York City, cab, paparazzi

Papped in sequence: Bowie hails a cab in New York City, seemingly on April 13, 2012, though online source is unclear

Remember Bowie’s 1997 paranoia about America, when Trent Reznor played his stalker?

+++

➢ Jagger, Bowie were an “item”, biographer claims
— Huffington Post, July 30

FRONT PAGE

2011 ➤ Leee Childers interviewed: risqué tales of Warhol, glitter and Iggy’s best feature

+++

❚ LAST NIGHT BRITISH PARTY PROMOTER Chris Sullivan sat in a new London gallery cafe to ask Leee Black Childers about his formative years leaving Kentucky for New York City and getting drawn into Andy Warhol’s Factory crowd of the late 60s and 70s. For more than an hour at The Society Club in Soho, Childers confessed all about his formative years when Warhol encouraged him to “say” he was a photographer, after which he snapped many informal early pix of David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Debbie Harry, Lou Reed, New York Dolls, Patti Smith, Jayne County. All the photographs on display are on sale for the next week.

Our two videos catch a few ribald moments verbatim. Other landmarks included Danny Fields and Andy Warhol taking him to see this “terrific new band”. Using the camera his brother had given him on his 17th birthday, Leee produced sensational pix of the young misfit Iggy Pop at the Stooges’ first New York concert. Leee lived for a year with Iggy. “You should know that he had a really great mind. He would talk about Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, and kept me awake talking about philosophy all night. He was also a very kind person and had one of the best penises I’ve seen.”

Lee attributes the birth of the glitter phenomenon in 1970 to Theatre of the Ridiculous director John Vaccaro’s production of Heaven Grand in Amber Orbit which was set in a circus, to which he brought “giant, huge barrels of glitter and he said, Put it everywhere, and everyone onstage was covered in glitter”.

Linda Clark, Leee, Nancy Spungen, Sid Vicious, Dee Dee Ramone. (Photo by Danny Fields)

In 1971 Leee visited London when Andy Warhol’s ground-breaking show Pork took over the Roundhouse with nude scenes that revelled in the recent abolition of theatre censorship in the UK. During this trip he met David Bowie performing at the Country Cousins nightspot in Fulham: “I’d never heard of him but I went because they said he wore a dress, but he wasn’t wearing a dress. We also met Angie Bowie who was not wearing a dress either. That show was pretty lame.” Yet when Bowie later came to play in New York, Leee was asked to be the vice-president of his US company. He subsequently travelled with Bowie through Russia in 1973 and was tour manager for Johnny Thunders and The Heartbreakers when they supported the Sex Pistols on their 1976 Anarchy tour across the UK.

Leee hung out with the Sex Pistols in both London and New York. Asked from the floor “Who killed Nancy?”, Leee replied: “Nancy killed Nancy. She created the situation where it was impossible to go on” — referring to her fractious relationship with Sid Vicious. Though Vicious was charged with her murder in 1978, Leee says: “We all know it was not Sid.”

+++
➢ Last week’s report: Leee Childers brings his slice of 70s New York to London

+++
❏ iPAD, TABLET & MOBILE USERS PLEASE NOTE — You may see only a tiny selection of items from this wide-ranging website about the 1980s, not chosen by the author. To access fuller background features and site index either click on “Standard view” or visit Shapersofthe80s.com on a desktop computer. ➢ Click here to visit a different random item every time you click

FRONT PAGE