Thursday, May 28, 2009
A World Premier
Our apartment and garden on Jane Street
Three years ago when we moved out of the apartment we'd lived in for fifteen years on Jane Street in the Village, our young friend Josh who is a filmmaker followed us around with his camera filming the proceedings including a neighborhood going away party and a street sale where we unloaded a lot of possessions. Last Tuesday night he showed us the finished work, an 18 minute movie about our move on a dvd. Josh did a great job interviewing us and our neighbors and capturing the moment. It was quite a thing for us to watch, and it brought back the whole experience.
When I met Ted, he lived on Jane Street and was already part of quite an extraordinary group of neighbors who were close friends. I’ve never seen anything like it in New York; these neighbors had parties, took trips, went through life’s ups and downs together. It was largely centered around a gay couple, Gerard Mutsaers and Richard Chandler, now both deceased. After a while I became part of the group too. In fact, we took a trip together in October to Amsterdam to visit Gerard’s sister Ton.
Ted and I moved together into one apartment on Jane Street, and then into the one which we left three years ago. It was an amazing apartment in an 1847 brownstone house with two floors plus a basement and a garden in the back. It had two non-working marble fireplaces, wood floors, and on the parlor floor extremely high ceilings with original plaster decoration and floor-to-ceiling windows. We loved the quiet, verdant garden. In the summertime we slept with the back door to the garden open and it was like we lived in the country. It was an amazing place and we loved it dearly for fifteen years.
Then abruptly and with no warning at the height of the West Village real estate feeding frenzy the owners who lived in California decided to sell the brownstone house and gave us four months to move. It was challenging, not only to find a new apartment but to leave our neighbors who really were like family.
And Josh made a film about it.
We viewed it on Tuesday, and on Thursday there was a party on Jane Street, and I tucked the dvd into my messenger bag. This is classic Jane Street: though Richard Chandler died four years ago, each year we get together to celebrate his May birthday. This year Gerard’s sister Ton came for the party from Amsterdam and his nephew Matthijs flew in from Minneapolis. We all met in the garden apartment where Richard and Gerard lived, now the most charming B and B in New York.
After dinner I said, “We have a movie and some of you are in it.”
We all trundled up to the B and B’s parlor floor where the dvd player purred. We turned down the lights and I popped it in. It was such a pleasure to watch the film again in the dark surrounded by our great, great friends. They loved it. When it was over since I had invited everyone upstairs I thought I should dismiss everyone back downstairs but I didn’t say anything. And what happened was people started telling stories about the old days, way before I arrived on the scene. In the glow of the blue tv screen light there were stories about first meeting each other, Christmas pageants in the street and birthday parties with bagpipe players. It was spontaneous, magical, priceless -- a New York moment to remember forever.
I’ve said this before (I say it in the movie!) – thanks to Ted for bringing me to Jane Street. And thanks to Josh for the gift of the movie.
Here is short clip. I’m not looking very happy, with my knee in a bandage from a meniscus tear, but then moving is never the most attractive moment, is it?
The good ending to the story is we found a nice apartment on 15th Street.
Josh is going to try to place this movie somewhere like Logo; any thoughts?