Thursday, March 13, 2014


Spring was such a big tease today. It's actually sad when the thermometer straddles the fifty-degree mark and we're so winter weary that's enough to make us feel like we can actually smell the Hyacinth. My mind is willing to create groves of forsythia up and down Fifth Avenue while I'm fully aware it is only a mirage. With such a beautiful day I had made a plan that included getting out to enjoy as much of the heat wave as I could stand and then catch a movie in the late afternoon.
The Grand Budapest Hotel had just opened and I had been waiting to snag a ticket. I'm a sucker for any Wes Anderson film. They could play like silent movies with only a pipe-organ as accompaniment and I'd be happy with the visuals alone. It was playing at two movie theaters at the same movie house on Broadway. I figured if I got a ticket for the 4:15 I'd beat the crowds thinking most everyone would still be out enjoying the outdoors. I had a few errands to run all in and around Chelsea. I thought that would pretty much fill out my day, at least until the movie was over. So with a smile on my face a lite three-season sport coat and a dapper scarf knotted exactly three inches below my neck so that the collar of my Banana Republic white shirt could be seen I made the trek downtown.
As I've mentioned so many times before if I get anywhere near the flea market on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon it's like a magnet. It casts its magnetic field on me and won't let go. On my last trip I was able to walk the aisles with the mantra, "I need nothing, I need nothing", but this trip the mantra wasn't doing its job. I only made it to the entrance of the first aisle on the second level when a distant light locked eye to eye with my resolve. There on a raised shelf was a handmade fabric globe lit from within and wired to an old iron base. It was just the kind of thing I couldn't resist. Pieces like this I see as comfort food for the home. They make me feel warm and happy and oh so trite (I resisted the word - fuzzy).
It has been a real weakness for me, those objects that tend to sit on the back shelf for what appear to be years in need of repair and some tender loving care. It explains why we have a wire basket filled with stuffed toys I've collected over the years with broken arms or stains you can't wash out, Teddy Bears with two different button eyes or an oil-cloth elephant with a torn ear.
The owner of the booth came over feeling the need to explain to me that it was a globe.
"Most people think it's supposed to be a hot air balloon but it's a globe. See right down there's Africa and here's Australia, I think. I had it in my bedroom and it casts cool lines of light all over the room."
I fell for a hand-sewn ottoman of the world at this same market several years ago. In my over productive imagination it spun a tale of a gray-haired twenty-six year old Appalachian grandmother saving scrapes of canvas and old feed sacks then sewing them together by candle light after the kids have all been put in the corn crib to sleep and the old man has passed out his arms wrapped around the prize sow in the backyard pig sty. A year later while touring the Gift Fair I saw the same ottoman sold in quantities of six or more and made in China. I still loved that globe and I kept my fantasy.
Not worrying if I was being tricked again but concerned about what my family would say. I left the market and left text messages with those closest to me and most likely to object if I bought it. By three in the afternoon and at this point all the way down in Soho I got a response giving me permission to go ahead and buy the globe. It was kind of a mute point any way, I knew it was going to be mine if no one else had purchased it. I hopped the subway and made my way up to the market passing the bank for enough money to make the vendor happy. The minute I entered the market I could see the beam from "my" globe casting a beacon and beckoning me on. I bought the globe at approximately 3:45. The guy wrapped it in an oversized dark green garbage bag and I was off. I had thirty minutes, too little time to take the globe back home so I decided the globe would just have to be my date wrapped in its dark green plastic coat. I figured I could put it in the seat next to me and I'd be okay. How full could a 4:15 movie be on the first spring-like day in the city? I arrived at the theater with five minutes to spare before the endless line-up of trailers was to start. They took my ticket and I walked in to one of their larger screens, globe in hand. The theater was packed. Even the mezzanine was packed. Not only wasn't I going to have an extra seat for the "globe", my date, but I wasn't going to have a seat for my own seat. They had oversold the movie. It was an older crowd and apparently the geriatric set like an early film like they like an early dinner. No matter what the weather their legs are going to give out and they need a seat by early afternoon. I looked east, west, north and south with no luck before I left the theater and went to the service desk thinking I'd just wait until the next showing that was about an hour away. This, unfortunately, was not only my idea but the idea of a dozen other people. We all stood there as the agent behind the desk began telling each of us the next movie was also sold out and so was every other showing all the way to ten. Four women from Manhasset threw a perfect Long Island fit demanding he bump four people from the next show and get them seats or they were going to rip the hair off his chest one hair at a time. He told them and the rest of us he would find us seats but for those who came in a group they wouldn't be able to sit together. Huge screams foamed from the Manhasset quarter. I, being alone, grabbed at the chance until I remembered my globe. The agent said he'd hold it behind the counter if I still wanted him to find me a seat. Low and behold, he spotted a seat almost center center next to two huge women with very short hair who because of their size had an extra seat that you couldn't really see unless you knew it was there. It was perfect as long as I didn't have to get up for a pee break. And that's how I got to see Wes Anderson's, The Grand Budapest Hotel.

I have no idea of how this movie will play outside of New York or maybe LA. The movie is quirky beyond belief and belief is one thing you need to leave at the door.
The characters are drawn almost as cartoons. The story is filled with impossibilities.
The screen is filled with magical imagery sketched against a theatrical painted backdrop.
The result is a total delight for anyone willing to suspend reality and be swept away in a fairytale as sweet as the desserts being served at the movie's fictitious Mendel's
or as fragrant as a spritz of L'air Panache, Gustave H's must have scent.

I had other plans for the globe but when our daughter saw it, it pointed out that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. She took full possession of the globe. It now graces her bedside table and casts marvelous rays of magical light across her walls and ceiling.

The Hotel Series
Willem van den Hoed, photographer

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