Tuesday, July 1, 2014

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York on the first evening of July.

I'll quickly apologize for not having posted in a while, without detailing all sorts of alibis.

Let me quickly upload a photo of a view from my current neighborhood before traveling a bit back in time.

The featured obelisk is not at all attractive to my eye, but it is typical of what is being built in NYC these days.

This evening I would like to remember a time in the mid-1970's when I returned to live in New York after a brief return to my Virginia roots.  I was fortunate to have the opportunity to move into a huge, but spartan loft space in the downtown neighborhood that had been named by real estate interests as SoHo.  South of Houston Street.

By the time I paid a fixture fee to the prior tenant (a model who was moving to Greece) and got the keys to the building from the landlady, with our mutual awareness that the space was not officially residential, galleries and a few restaurants had already set up business in an area that previously had been HQ for a variety of light industries, primarily in the textile trade.

Rents were cheap, one had to know someone to gain access to such places, plumbing was primitive, winters were chilly indoors.  The notion of gentrification was just coming into the lexicon.

I still treasure my years in my Greene Street loft.  A year before I moved into this space, a movie was filmed in a loft across the street and the movie's final scene was actually filmed in the street itself.

The film was and is An Unmarried Woman.

I currently work in a shop in SoHo.  Nowadays, SoHo is mostly an urban shopping area.  The artists have moved.  The galleries have moved.  Still, it's a destination for visitors from all over the world.  Luxury hotels and international luxury retailers have set up business in SoHo.

A year or so ago, on a Sunday afternoon, I spoke with a gentleman who'd entered my workplace.  I am now officially a senior citizen, and he was my elder.  I enquired if I could help him find something, and he wistfully replied, thank you, but I am looking for something that doesn't exist anymore.

I am a curious person, and asked him to tell me more.  It was then that he began to tell me that he'd once made a movie in this area....  I began to blush as I quickly realized that I was speaking with Paul Mazursky.

Mr. Mazursky's obituary has appeared today.  I am doubly, perhaps triply, honored to have had the opportunity to meet him, to tell him how much I loved his movies, particularly An Unmarried Woman, and that I could indeed tell him where his remarkable, still very important movie, was filmed.

We had a lovely chat, and I know my blush deepened with every sentence.  I "directed" Mr. Mazursky to the block of Greene Street that he was looking for.

Perhaps those of you who read this post might have seen the film, or some of the other films that Mr. Mazursky either wrote or directed.  If not, you are in for a treat when you do get around to seeing them.

If you have seen them, then perhaps you will share my thoughts about his talent, and the way in which he was able to translate a very unique New York City time and place into film.

Thank you all for your visits here and your comments.


  1. Frances, this reads to me like a love story and it is - not for a man but for a city. Such a fine read. I shall find out more about the films he made. I hope you will have a great summer and enough time to enjoy it! Hope to hear soon about your 'garden project' or any travel plans :-).

  2. Hello Frances:

    How wonderful are these connections which add a richness and joy to life. We seem to recall at some point in the past your making mention of a film having been shot in the area of SoHo where previously you had lived, and now here are more details which both fascinate and intrigue.

    On the subject of modern architecture it is somewhat disappointing, given today's technology, that rather uninspiring and unsympathetic buildings continue to be erected in cities the world over often bearing little relation to those which surround them and totally out of scale. We sometimes look with sadness at the London skyline which now, at least in our view, is such a hotchpotch.

  3. I never did see this film - and now you make me want to - immediately.
    This post is a fabulous New York story.
    We never know who we will run into next!

  4. What a special encounter. One of life's little gifts.

  5. I think you have spoken before about this meeting? I will have to look up this film, you have made me very curious. As I was reading this the song "woke up it was a Chelsea morning and the first thing that I heard..." was playing in my mind. I think your Chelsea and Soho are close? Gentrification isn't a bad thing to begin with but when ordinary people have to move elsewhere it seems self defeating.

  6. Frances, what a beautiful and poignant post. I loved this glimpse into another past. x

  7. What a lovely memory to share with us and, possibly even more rewarding, with the filmmaker himself.

    We so rarely find people with whom can play the game of “do you remember” and so it must be doubly gratifying to have had this encounter.

    Now I must try and find this film.

  8. I have never seen the film but I loved reading your story. What a thrill for you to meet him.

  9. I thank you all for your comments and really to encourage you to see the film. It holds up very well after all these years. (That was another thing that Mr. Mazursky and I agreed upon.)


  10. I am going to order that film from Lovefilm and any others by same director on you recommendation. A poignant story, thank you.

  11. Dear Frances,

    One of the coincidences in life! Your meeting with mr Mazursky sounds really special. One to cherish along with your memories of Green street. Your loft space must have been lovely, despite the cold. I can see you standing in front of your window, having a look at NYC roof tops :-)

    Wishing you a happy week.

    Madelief x

  12. Oh, Frances, what a story! Even I, in the backwoods of NC, have heard of NY's SoHo. But I haven't seen that film. Shall have to order it and I'll think of you as I watch it.

  13. I love this story. How lucky you were to meet him. I remember going to see that movie when it came out. My mother, who was in her late 60's at the time, was visiting us in Alaska so we took her with us. I think she was a bit shocked, but I thought it was a great movie, and now I think I should see it again as I am now the age my mother was when she blushed at some of the scenes.
    I especially remember a scene with a big painting out on the sidewalk.
    You bring NYC alive for us. Thank you!

  14. My comment above got posted before I could finish my name. Whoops!

  15. This was really a lovely post to read Frances! So interesting!
    I´m so happy for all lovely comments you leave on my blog...it really warms my heart and makes me happy!

  16. wow! i love this!! heading over to netflix now, i can't wait to watch an unmarried woman! what a gift you were to mr. mazursky frances.

    i hope all is well with you and your alibis are just of the creative sort. xxx

  17. From Loft to Apartment, and a delightful gentleman thrown into the mix. Ah, the delights of New York.

    Blessings and Bear hug!

  18. I'd love to see this film, especially with such a special connection.

  19. Frances, once again you've woven a story that has taken me 'right there'. I will treat myself to this movie and report back.

  20. Lovely story...smiling broadly. Was he surprised that you recognised him? :) Like many others here, off to find that movie now.

    Oh, and that megalith? :(

  21. It is nice to come back to blogging and to read your posts again. I kind of remember a Mazursky movie, but I saw it a very long time ago. It was called Bob & Carol and Ted & Alice. How wonderful that you met and talked with him.
    I also admired your latest knitting creations – love the color combination. With the Tour de France starting again, this is the period when I knit or crochet while watching the race on TV. It is hard to think about wool though when it is 90 degree F outdoors.

  22. What a fascinating story of your meeting with Mr Mazursky.....it could be a film too! I love to hear about your life in the Greene St loft....I hope you have a happy summer, Frances.
    Helen xox

  23. "FoakleyArts" has been included in the fifth edition of our Thinking of Christmas Gifts in July 2014. Be assured that we hope this helps to point many new customers in your direction.


  24. I haven't seen the film, but why is it that we always seem to treasure the past more than the present....could it be that our minds edit well and we remember the good times.....but life does seem to move in a less comforting direction...life as a whole that is.... lovely to find your blog through reading your comment on Steohanie's Madame Millefeuilles xx

  25. I knew you were going to name that movie...a great favorite of mine.
    I once sat in a coffee shop on upper Madison avenue and Alan Bates was sitting at the counter.
    I was enthralled.
    Lucky you to have met Paul Mazursky!

  26. Thank you for popping by yesterday Francis, I love passing by and reading about your life too, there is something rather romantic about a loft !!

  27. Gorgeous, I felt as if I was right there in the city with you after reading this!