Books and Arts
Don’t believe it when you read that Oscar Niemeyer, the Brazilian architect who died this week only days before he would have turned 105, was the one who took the chill off modernist design with his flamboyantly curving, white thin-shell concrete buildings. That’s the sort of nonsense that gets peddled in obituaries and haigiographies, particularly when a charismatic charmer distorts the historical record to inflate his own contribution, takes credit for the innovations of others, and outlives—by decades!—his competitors.
IN SEPTEMBER 1966, a reading took place at New York University’s Loeb Center, near Washington Square. Less than two months had passed since Frank O’Hara’s death on Fire Island, and the event took on the flavor of a memorial for the recently departed poet. In his memoir, the poet’s longtime roommate Joe LeSueur recalled listening in shock as Kenneth Koch read a remarkable poem of O’Hara’s, which, until that moment, it seemed no one had ever heard. “We were not only moved by the poem,” LeSueur wrote, “but mystified as well.
Few sons have the chance Bill Charlap has had, a chance to watch his mother grow up. Charlap, the jazz pianist, is appropriately revered as an interpretive musician of rare taste and sensitivity. On and off since 2005, he has performed and recorded with Sandy Stewart, the veteran singer of popular standards—who is also one of Charlap’s parents.
For the past twenty-plus years, The Martha Stewart Empire (not its real name, of course, but who doesn’t think of it that way?)—led by their taupe pant-suited leader—has dutifully monitored the cult of domesticity. The media has gleefully followed Martha’s ups and downs. With recent news of major financial blunders, Martha Stewart may be down, but don’t count her out.