This weekend, under the guise of visiting Friends M and D in NYC (happy birthday, M!), I prepared for myself some literary pilgrimages.
I met up with Friend D on the Upper West Side, and we went to see…. Madeline!
Madeline. You KNOW about my… thing about Madeline. The New York Historical Society has an exhibit about the art of Ludwig Bemelmans, so naturally I couldn’t miss it. (And Friend D was generously tolerant of my continued squeeeeeeeing.)
Here’s the entrance:
There was a lot of original art; some was about Miss Clavel.
Some of it was painted pottery by Herr Bemelmans himself.
While the exhibit was fabulous, I was equally excited to get to the gift shop. Right outside was this, where I pretended to be Miss Clavel:
I tried not to buy out the entire gift shop, and restrained myself quite well, buying a makeup bag (they didn’t have it in stock; I’ll post a photo when I get it in the mail) and some postcards. I wanted the Madeline pajamas, but those only came in children’s sizes. There was a Madeline HAT!! Didn’t buy that either. Should have.
After Madeline, we continued our literary journey by going a few blocks to Alice’s Tea Cup, where we had tea with scones and clotted cream and sandwiches and cookies and tarts, and stuffed ourselves full.
(I had wanted to go to the Bemelmans Bar at the Carlyle, but they didn’t open till 5:30. Rats. But it was just as well since I didn’t know if I could really pay $21 for a martini.)
Finally, Friend D and I went to The Plaza to pay our respects to Eloise. One must always, always, say hello to Eloise, in her oil painting glory.
I had no idea there was an Eloise STORE (!!!) and I would have liked to have bought everything there too. The t-shirts were for children, sadly, or else I would have bought the one that said “My mother knows Coco Chanel.”
There were a few Hilary Knight original drawings for sale, less than the price of a room there for the night, which I seriously considered picking up, and now I’m kicking myself.
And that was all for Day 1. Day 2, after brunch with friends and a little walk, it was time for me to visit The Strand. I had never been. And I was fully reconciled to spending a buttload of money. I was prepared, and I’d given myself permission. After all, it’s NYC’s premier bookstore.
But I couldn’t. I wasn’t in love with any of the tees (except the Out of Print “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” one, and I wasn’t going to spend $30 on it, honestly), and I have a million totes (though I should have gotten this one), so I came away with three books, and spent less than $20.
I’m kind of disappointed in myself. I could, and should, have done MUCH better.
With an hour to go till I had to set off for my train, I sat in Union Square Park and read. It was lovely, and I almost wished that the Humans of New York guy would have come around – I would have had a lot to say about books and reading outside and bookstores and culture and Madeline and Eloise.
They’re all awesome, honestly.
Never really loved the book, but this sounds interesting. Or maybe it’s just another way to make a buck… er, Euro.
Our libraries can do more. They have to. All libraries have to.
I truly hope this guy is just a shit-stirrer and he’s deliberately provoking us. Because this is an awful idea that makes no sense.
Some more fan-fun of the Babysitters Club.
From Friend D:
When I buy a condo, this shall be all my art.
I think the horse is out of the barn on this one.
Again, Harper Lee and the fiasco of the bio.
From Sister A:
I’m sure we have some of these at home.
I must round out this post with the only acceptable closing, the same way that Bemelmans closes the original Madeline and the New York Historical Society closes the exhibit: