I had the chance to time-travel about 90 years back today and join the Algonquin Round Table where Dorothy Parker’s Vicious Circle met.
To be honest I just joined the Algonquin Round Table Walking Tour but it took us back in Dorothy Parker’s time and we had lunch at the Round Table afterwards.
The Algonquin Round Table Walking Tour is offered by the Dorothy Parker Society and lead by the society’s president, Kevin C. Fitzpatrick. It started in the hotel at 12pm. I was there early as usual and used the time to have a glimpse into the Blue Bar, at the Round Table – that isn’t round any more – and tried to spot Matilda, the Algonquin cat. She is hiding, the receptionist told me.
Kevin took us to several places in Midtown that played a role in Dorothy Parker’s life and career. She had dropped out from high school and started her professional life with not much more than a sharp tongue and her first poems when she was hired by Vogue as an editorial assistant. She stayed there for two years and then moved to Vanity Fair where she became the famous theater critic she was besides being a great poet and writer. In the 1920s she published about 300 poems. When the New Yorker was founded in 1925 she published Short Stories there. The Round Table started as a lunch circle of newspaper people and became an institution of what then was called the Vicious Circle.
The table they have in the hotel today beneath a copy of the painting of the Round Table members is not the original one and it is not round but oval. Nevertheless it was great to sit there and have lunch. I had Reuben Sliders served with fries. The fries were served in a cone shaped metal dish and were very good as well as the sliders. The glass of wine I had with my lunch was probably the most expensive one I ever had in a restaurant. But the setting was worth it.
I met interesting people on the tour. Kevin gave me some recommendations what I should do while I am still here: City Island, Woodlawn Cemetery and The New York Historic Society. I will check it all out and try to fit in in my “tight schedule”.
There was a novel writer who features Dorothy Parker in her books.
There was a high school English teacher who is a great Dorothy Parker fan and was fascinated by what I am doing here.
And there was a German scholar who writes her PhD about literary hotels. Great idea I think. We exchanged contacts to maybe meet up next week.
After lunch I returned to Brooklyn to take my third attempt to see Photoville. I took a 4 train from Grand Central to Borough Hall to get there. The first one arriving was so packed that I let it go and waited for the next one. From Borough Hall I walked down to Brooklyn Bridge Park through Brooklyn Heights.
Down there today was life at Photoville. I walked through most of the containers and found some really interesting pictures.
There was a landscape mirrored in a lake giving the shape of a guitar. There was a series about metropoles, scenes from big cities in several continents. There was a series about Sandy on the Rockaways. and one about beach houses in New Jersey before and after Sandy.
The photos are displayed in containers set on an area between pier and street. There is as well a beer garden and food court.
I was tired and took a bus home, or almost home. I got off at Court Street and got a bottle of wine, bagels for breakfast and some fruit.
At home the cats were happy to see me. I put on some leisure clothes, sat down on the sofa between them and practised cat sitting, what will be my task next week when Priya is travelling.