“I didn’t go to the moon. I went much further — for time is the longest distance between places.” — Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie”
As we approach the halfway point in our year of fascination — hard to believe it’s June already — our annual “Journeys” issue plays with the idea of time as defined in the closing speech of Williams’ poetic play.
“Seasons and places are two sides of the same coin,” pianist George Winston tells Gregg. “A place has to have a season and a season’s got to be in a place….”
The seasons provide the framework for the place that is Block Island, Rhode Island — or at least for the poems Alice Feeley has written about it — as you’ll see in our story about the Dobbs Ferry resident’s new book. Few places were not touched by the four seasons that made up 1969, as we note in our opening essay, but particularly by a summer that embraced triumph (the Apollo 11 moon landing, Woodstock) and tragedy (Charles Manson, Stonewall, Chappaquiddick).
The summer of ’69 also belonged to the New York Mets and a young pitcher whose name would become as synonymous with the Amazins’ as Joe Namath’s was with the Super Bowl Champion Jets earlier that year — former Greenwich resident Tom Seaver. Sadly, he has now withdrawn from public life to his vineyard home in his native California, a victim of dementia. He may not remember us, but we remember him and what he meant to the Big Apple as a Mets’ supernova and Yankees broadcaster as well.
Seaver is just one of the legendary figures we look back on in this issue. Earlier in that decade — the spring of 1961 — two cultural titans were poised to make break- throughs. That April Rudolf Nureyev leapt from behind the Iron Curtain to bring a new animal magnetism and excitement to male dancing in the West. Two months later, Luciano Pavarotti made his profes- sional debut in what would become a sig- nature role, as Rodolfo in Giacomo Puccini’s “La Bohème.” Both are the subject of new films — Nureyev, Ralph Fiennes’ feature “The White Crow” and the documentary “Nureyev”; and Pavarotti, Ron Howard’s documentary “Pavarotti: Genius is Forever,” opening June 7.
We wonder what Rudi and Lucianissimo would have made of “Camp: Notes on Fashion,” The Met Costume Institute’s offering, which includes ballet and opera in a sweeping definition of the subject that plays fast and loose with history in the process.
Our other major theme this month is the Mediterranean. Moving West to East, new Wagger Adam Jacot de Boinod visits the Portuguese island of Madeira while longtime freelancer Jeremy — who has joined our staff in White Plains — visits Portugal’s capital, Lisbon (on the Atlantic but Mediterranean in feel). (Jeremy also resumes his former duties as Wonderful Dining columnist with a review of the French-accented restaurant The Gramercy in Yorktown Heights, then weighs in with pieces on globetrotting journalist Fareed Zakaria and purposeful boutique travel companies. We can’t say enough about how happy we are to have him in a greater capacity.)
Barbara sails the Mediterranean and three of the other Seven Seas, while we consider Thames & Hudson’s new travel tome “New Map Italy.” And then we speak with Neil Bieff, one of our favorite fashion designers, for our cover story, his take on son Gwyn’s marriage to Turkish native Ikbal Bozkaya. Turns out, Neil hasn’t lost a son, he’s gained a whole other culture.
Ever intrepid, we travel on to trending Thailand before turning closer to home for Gina’s stories on Indian-born chef Rajni Menon and Connecticut day trips; Robin’s look at upcoming cultural overlooks on the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge; Jena’s profile of Scarsdale lawyer Sean Cohen, who’s helping the people of Botswana take greater control of their diamond industry, and her visit to wedding/meeting venue LaKota Oaks in Norwalk.
Not every journey ends in a wedding or the dream destinations of this month’s Wits. Phil revisits the poignant tale of the Old Leatherman, a vagabond who crisscrossed WAG country in the 19th century, leaving an impression on those he nevertheless eluded.
Life has its heartaches and joys, its frivolity and peril. Yet it remains a journey of hope. As Daniel L. Reardon once put it, “In the long run the pessimist may be proven right, but the optimist has a better time on the trip.”