New York Travelogue March 2014 – Because I will want to remember this

Mom and Miriam

I just had an excellent four day vacation in NYC with my mom and Miriam Kelen. I am lifting some of the copy from my mom’s writing. Hopefully she won’t mind! ūüėČ

Thursday March 27th 

benjamin hotel

After landing at various airports at various times, we all met up at the Benjamin Hotel. This was my second stay at the Benjamin. The service is excellent, the rooms are large, and bedbug free! After quickly getting unpacked, we headed out for dinner.

Dinner for the evening was hosted by The New York Arts & Sciences Salon at the Spain Restaurant. Follow the link above for more pictures from the event.


Spain is a New York institution. They serve some of the yummiest Spanish fare in town. We enjoyed a feast from paellas to merluza in herb sauce and more. The painter Monica Rose Song presented her work and spoke about her inspiration which evokes fairy tales and imaginary creatures. Here is how she describes it:
My work for the past two years has been rooted in the narratives, allegory, and illustrations of Fairy Tale and Folk literature.

With my current work, I am investigating the landscapes, mythical creatures, curses, love, and magic that have persisted through centuries of storytelling.


It was a great evening. We made it back to the Benjamin by midnight.


NTL_Image_0006_The National_Croque Madame_SM

We started with breakfast at the The National. Mom and Miriam had oatmeal. I had the croque madam. Then we went up to the Guggenheim to see two exhibits:


The exhibits were an interesting juxtaposition. From what I saw, it wasn’t a far stretch from the the extreme and absolute thinking of the futurist to many of the tragedies of 20th Century Europe including Fascism and the Holocaust. Weems was an excellent contrast. Her work is concerned with the those who have been subjugated because of their race, gender or class.

After seeing the exhibits we stopped for a small lunch at the Wright restaurant.


before heading over to the Neue Galerie


to see Degenerate Art: The Attack on Modern Art in Nazi Germany, 1937


As describe by the Neue:

The term "degenerate" was adopted by the National Socialist regime as part of its campaign against modern art. Many works branded as such by the Nazis were seized from museums and private collections. Following the showing on these works in a three-year traveling exhibition that criss-crossed Germany and Austria, most were sold, lost, or presumed destroyed. In this light, the recent discovery in Munich of the Gurlitt trove of such artwork has attracted considerable attention.

Degenerate Art was yet another excellent exhibit. When the Nazis labeled certain art as degenerate, they also labeled some art exemplary. The Neue Gallery showed some of the “approved” Nazi art. To my eye, It was technically adept but lifeless and uninteresting. On the other hand the so-called “degenerate” was weird and mysterious. It drew me in. It had power. Some artists I remember and liked were Paul Klee and Lasar Segall. Miriam was a fan of Max Beckmann’s triptych Departure. The exhibit was “framed” exceedingly well. The walls where the art hung were printed with images of Jews trying to emigrate out of Europe, town book burnings and rail cars at concentration camps. It was an important reminder of the larger events going on in Nazi controlled society at that time.

After the Neue Gallery, we walked down Madison Avenue to Bemelman’s Bar at 76th for some well deserved refreshments. I was wearing the tag from the museum centered on the collar of my black shirt, so we started calling me “Father Kehle”. At the bar, the well-known Earl Rose was at the piano. He was improvising on Erik Satie’s Gymnopedie No. 1¬†. We had some refreshing non-alcoholic drinks (looking like a priest made this easy!), enjoyed resting our feet and looking at the murals.


Ludwig Bemelman, author of the Madeline children’s books, hand painted all the murals in the 1940’s. He did this in exchange for a room at the hotel.

After our brief respite, it was back on our feet to walk down to Columbus Circle for dinner at “Robert @ MAD Museum” . It’s a little hard to do *THAT* particular event justice because so much was going on. For well over 20 years my close friend and ex-boyfriend Scot (aka Big Scot, aka Scox) has wanted to meet my mom. The meeting was finally going to happen. This was also Scot’s husband Patrick’s birthday dinner. Patrick has had a rather difficult year with multiple life threatening health challenges which he has thankfully beat. Nothing quite says “Happy Birthday” like remission. And then there is the restaurant itself. Originally I had planned to take Scot and Patrick to their favorite rib place. However a good friend of ours, the lovely Dr. Brian Saltzman, suggested we celebrate as his restaurant, Robert, which overlooks Columbus Circle. Instead of dining coach, we were going first class…


Oh – I had also warned my mom that Scot, like many artists I know, is very emotional. I told her that he would probably cry upon meeting her. What I forgot to mention is that he is a 6 foot 6 inches tall and frequently mistaken for “The Undertaker”, a world famous professional wrestler. When we walked up to the MAD building, Scot and Patrick were sitting by the door. Scot got up and gave me a big hug. My mom and Miriam stopped in a dead shock. They thought that someone was mugging me!

Once we made it past the introductions, we went up to Robert, checked-in and sat in the cocktail lounge. After our first cocktail, Brian came over and introduced the chef. It was her birthday too!


A drink later, our table was ready. Our waiter escorted us to a private, all glass room!

It was a marvelous dinner.


We drank, ate and chatted the night away.


Mom and Scot got acquainted.


I think Miriam had a great time too!

The ever generous Brian gifted the table with the entire dessert selection which we promptly ate.  Patrick said it was the best birthday he has every had. It was truly a magical evening.


Saturday proved to be another great day except for the weather. It rained off and on making available taxis rare and valuable. The day started with a good meal with friends. Where can you have brunch for six easily in NYC on the weekend? The Smith Midtown.

The Smith Midtown

My friend’s Dennis Swaim and Susan Sloves met us for an early brunch. Ann Friedman, a friend of Miriam’s, ¬†happened to be visiting from Florida and was fortunately able to join us as well. I think my mom hadn’t seen Dennis since the mid-80s. I caught up with Susan, my mom caught up with Dennis and Miriam caught up with Ann. My memories of the food are: good bacon and good french fries. The main course has slipped my mind but a good french fry is hard to find. I would go again, especially with a larger party.

Fortified for the day, we walked over to the Gauguin ‘Metamorphoses’ exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art. The exhibit featured lesser well-known aspects of Gauguin’s work across multiple techniques including wood carving, ceramics, lithography, woodcut printing, monotype, and oil transfer drawing. Honestly, I didn’t love the exhibit. That probably had more to do with my state than the quality of the exhibit. When we arrived I was feeling a little off. Almost dizzy. Miriam and my mom also felt off. Fortunately Miriam produced a small tin of multi-colored, fruit flavored hard candy as a pick-me-up. The exhibition was more edifying than satisfying to me. I must have been a little off since it totally slipped my mind to visit van Gogh’s The Starry Night while we were there. Anthony said it was like visiting the Louvre and forgetting to see the Mona Lisa. Oops. All was made better at the end of the exhibit by having a real Coke with sugar and caffeine.

After MOMA, we caught a cab to see the The Frick Collection housed in “One of New York City’s few remaining Gilded Age mansions.” I love the building; especially the Garden Court. Miriam was especially fond a self portrait of Rembrandt. It is quite a magnificent piece. I enjoyed being surrounded by so much good art including Goya’s The Forge, Jean-Baptist Greuze’s The Wool Winder, and Vermeer’s Mistress and Maid.¬†

When we asked one of the docents, an elderly gentleman from India, how many people originally lived in the house, he informed us that there were three – Mr. and Mrs. Frick and their daughter, plus 27 servants – nine apiece. “Why today an American household can only afford one servant!” he exclaimed.

While looking at the few final paintings Miriam and my mom had an understandable giggle over the codpiece worn by Lodovico Capponi in Agnolo Bronzino’s portrait.¬†Miriam and mom made some comment like “Oh great. This is the last piece we got to see before leaving” so I just had to include it in my notes.

After we left the warm, dry building, catching a cab was a bit of an adventure. I finally got one by sprinting a block down Fifth avenue. The driver kindly waited for Mom and Miriam and off we went to the Morgan Library and Museum.



The Morgan was an unassuming little gem. The exterior looked like a beta version of an Apple store. The inside was something different entirely.

Our first stop was The Little Prince: A New York Story.

Since its publication seventy years ago, Antoine de Saint-Exup√©ry’s¬†The Little Prince¬†has captivated millions of readers throughout the world. It may come as a surprise that this French tale of an interstellar traveler who comes to Earth in search of friendship and understanding was written and first published in New York City, during the two years the author spent here at the height of the Second World War.


The show exhibited many sketches used in the development of The Little Prince along with notes and correspondence by Antoine de Saint-Exupery.  The collection gave better insight into how the story and its characters came to be. It was also a great reminder to re-read the book!

After the exhibit we had maybe an hour and a half before dinner so we went to see the original library. Now that was a surprise!



The library was constructed from 1902-1907. The architect created a structure in the style of a villa of the Italian Renaissance. It was gorgeous! The library has three rooms built off a marble rotunda.  Each room is opulently furnished. The library is a treasury of rare books and manuscripts including three Gutenberg Bibles.




Before we knew it, and much too soon, it was time to head south for dinner at Morandi.



Morandi was a suggestion of Miriam’s friend Robert Goff. Robert has great taste. The staff at Morandi was warm, welcoming, and happy. It felt good just to sit in the restaurant and soak up the energy of the staff. The food was perfection but the fun of the meal was enjoying everyone’s company. It was a great New York experience where everyone is connecting.



After the meal we went to see the play “Hand To God” The Lucille Lortel Theatre. Robert had made several restaurant suggestions. I picked Morandi because it was a six minute walk from the theater. If it’s raining, six minutes is a long way to walk. ūüôĀ

What to say about the play? (This will contain some plot spoilers). “Hand To God” takes place ‘Somewhere in Texas where the country meets the city’. More specifically the bulk of the place takes place in a Sunday School where a young window is teaching puppetry to her adolescent son and two other teenagers. For me, the first act felt a little abrupt – like you were dropped into a situation too suddenly for the characters behavior to be believable. However the second act was much stronger and contained some powerful moments. At one point a character questions a culture that is failing her. She questions Southern (probably) Baptist bible belt living. I’ve also recently seen this theme briefly explored by Julianne Moore’s character in A Single Man¬†and less recently in the film Avalon. I have to confess that I’m a sucker for this sort of thing.¬†In most cultures there is no space to question or to criticize. I love it when theater explores the truth behind the story. Returning to “Hand to God” the second act also had (of course) rated-X puppet sex. What’s not to like?

After the show we were briefly tempted to walk over to Marie’s Crisis, a piano bar in the West Village but Mom’s and my energy was flagging and the appearance of a taxi (it was raining hard) was just too tempting.

In what seemed to me like thirty minutes later we were back at the hotel and in bed.


Sunday morning we went back for another round of breakfast at the National and discussed what to do during the morning. Miriam had to catch a 2:30 flight so we didn’t have a lot of time. Miriam suggested we go to a gallery on 58th street that represented Henry Darger. I almost fell over in my chair! One snowy winter about ten years ago I saw “In The Realms of the Unreal” with my friend Eric Sakas. It’s about Henry Darger; a janitor whose fantastical art and writing were discovered after his death. The movie starts out with quotes from people that don’t know how to say Henry Darger’s name. Ever since seeing the movie, Eric and I had been calling each other different variations of “Darger” (e.g. ‘Archibald Darger’ or ‘Dargerium’) – any funny sounding phrase that came into our minds. It was such long running inside joke that it was jarring to be reminded that other people knew about Darger and his work. We decided that catching a glimpse of the Vivian Girls (One of Darger’s subjects) would be a great idea and off we went.

It was about a 20 minute walk. Fortunately Sunday was not rainy but it was a little chilly. Still it felt good to walk. When we made it to the gallery, we discovered that galleries are closed on Sunday. The Vivian Girls will have to wait. We settled for walking up 7th ave to 59th and walking back to 5th. On 59th there was a “gallery” that was open. We stopped in, mostly to get warm. The artwork, to my eye, was dreadful. There’s a certain style of art that I often see in touristy places that looks gaudy to me. It usually involves images of harlequins, teddy bears or celebrities; overpriced kitsch. But what do I know? Maybe some of it will wind up in MoMA someday.¬†20 minutes later we were back at the hotel. Miriam got off without incident and we headed to JFK a little later.

A week or two later, my mom asked me what my favorite part of the trip was. I thought of the sumptuous homes and beautiful art we had seen, the exceptional meals eaten and the play we watched. I answered that the best part of the trip was spending time talking with my Mom and Miriam. Mom agreed and asked “Do you realize how much we laughed?” To which I say:

on ne voit bien qu’avec le cŇďur. L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux.

(The essential things in life are seen not with the eyes, but with the heart.)




Stop Censorship

Today is the day!

While the House of Representatives discusses America’s first system for censoring the internet, sites everywhere are sending their users to contact Congress to stop this bill.

Click here to write Congress now

Huge sites like Boing Boing, 4chan, Reddit, Mozilla (on the Firefox start page!) are participating, and more are joining fast. If you have a blog, a Tumblr page or a YouTube channel, black out your logo in protest. If you have a website you can also run a splash page asking your visitors to contact Congress.

Visit to write your representatives.

Joel Kehle

P.S. If you haven’t heard already, there’s a new bill in Congress called ‚ÄėSOPA‚Äô that could pass *this month*. It would let the US government shut down websites, and jail users for posting harmless copyrighted clips to sites like YouTube or Tumblr. The bill would chill innovation, create huge liability for startups, and would set a terrible global precedent for government censorship of the internet. There’s a video at the link above if you’d like to learn more. After you take action, keep spreading the word!

Etymology of Quadratic Equation

I’ve always wondered why an equation with a squared variable was called a quadratic equation. Since ‘quad’ means four in Latin, shouldn’t a quadratic equation have cubed variables? Also consider quadrilateral and quadrant: both involve four elements. In case this has been keeping you up at night, Wikipedia has the answer!

The adjective quadratic comes from the Latin word quadratum for square. A term like x2 is called a square in algebra because it is the area of a square with side x. Quadratum is the Latin word for square because a square has four sides.

Whew! Now I can sleep at night.

If I only had paid more attention in my Latin class in Gymnasium (but that’s another story…)

It’s Not Far to My Heart

I’m pleased to finally have a my best song uploaded to the interwebs.

Click the link to listen to It’s Not Far to My Heart

In wrote this song in the early 90’s and recorded it over a weekend with the help of the masterful Fred Drake.

Listening to it brings back so many memories – Leaving Quorum Software in the middle of the day to walk around San Francisco and cement the song in my mind, hanging with Fred in the studio in Hollywood which had all the mythical and magical overtones of Francesca Lia Block’s Weeztie Bat, writing the song’s interlude during a dream… I’m very proud of this particular piece of work and feel exceedingly lucky to have spent a weekend recording with such a gifted and lovely musician.


My 44th Birthday

I turned 44 on Tuesday March 9th 2010.

Anthony and I were going to celebrate on the Saturday prior by going to dinner at our friend Lauren’s new restaurant on Highland, but Anthony was under the weather. A strong antibiotic was giving him and the infection a rough time. Instead we went to the Come On In Cafe for lunch, walked over and saw Crazy Heart at the arclight and then bought a copy of BioShock for the PS3. It’s an old and popular game, so we had to go to two different GameStops to purchase the game. The rest of the day was spent at home with Anthony napping will I got my geek on blowing monsters up in an underwater Ayn Rand fantasy gone very wrong. I’m not much of a first person shooter guy but the game conception was smart and the graphic design was evocative, ironic and beautiful.

On Sunday I finally opened my mail which includes two cards – one from my mom and one from my dad and Sylvia. Both had checks. It’s so funny that I’m old enough to have kids in college and my parents are sending me checks. I think I will always be their child no matter how old I get.

On Monday I started working out with a personal trainer at work. Yet another Qualcomm perk. Great trainer. Qualcomm gym. Very good rates. My birthday gift to myself. I need to invest some time on the machine. The trainer seems like a perfect fit. A guy named Gabriel who does free weights and yoga. He also trains people of all ages (up to the 80s) so he knows not to train me like a 20 year old. Exactly what I want right now.

On the actual birthday I was floored by the amount of Facebook love I was experiencing. So many well wishes! Work itself was fun. I got some great news (that I will discuss at another time.) After work I had a great cardio kick boxing class. For some reason the teacher played an “old” tape that had some of my favorite music: Lady Gaga, Pink, Katie Perry… It’s so funny to think hits from the spring of 2009 as old but that’s pop for you. I capped off the day by dining with Jopsy at Ono Sushi. The most excellent host Tony sat us at the sushi bar where chef Kato served his own choice of mouth watering sashimi, Mark made an equally delicious dirty sapphire martini (3 olives. Up.) with a birthday shot of his own devising thrown in for good measure. The staff at Ono is so cool! Since Jopys is lactose intolerant we passed on the ice cream and had frozen yogurt down the street. Not as high brow or hip but tasty nonetheless.

Later when asked how my day was going, I replied “The universe has been blowing copious amounts of rainbows and unicorns up my ass all day long. I like it! ”

Life is good.

Notes to Myself

I changed the tagline for my blog today. Instead of “I wonder if I can make soup out of this” (which is a joke that only about three people will get), the tagline is “Notes to Myself”. I don’t consider myself “a blogger”. I don’t write with enough frequency and I’m not really writing for others. Instead I’m writing to remember. My partner Anthony and I both find that we are having trouble remembering what happened during “milestone” events in our life. What did we do for that anniversary? That birthday? New Years? With so many memories from my teens and twenties crystallized in my brain, its odd to find that my 30s are a blur… or at least not very well organized in my head. So enter the blog. It’s time to start writing little notes about events like anniversaries, birthdays and holidays. Yes – this could be called a diary but I also like to post things that I think are interesting at a particular point in time. I think we are living through an exciting period of history and it’s fun to document from my own point of view. So not quite a diary. More like notes to myself… which of course anyone is welcome to read.

Music Page

I’ve added a music reference page to my site at This is a reference page for all of the pop music that I‚Äôve either been involved in creating or performing. Some of the recordings on this page were used for live performances and won‚Äôt contain a vocal track. I am putting the reference page up first but plan on writing blog entries to go with each of the bands. The reference page will link back to the blog postings for more detailed information about the songs.

Songs that I have written are “Escape with Me”, “Give it up to Rhythm” and “It’s Not Far to My Heart”*. All the other songs were written by other artist.

*due to technical details I can’t upload “It’s Not Far to My Heart” yet – which is a shame because it is my best work. As soon as I get the technical issue worked out, it will get a post of its own. In the meantime, enjoy the music.