BOGGLING MAY MAGIC
Good old Mays discount store, excellent commercial jingle, at Union Square and 14th Street. Bradlee's recently lived in that spot for a short while, and Whole Foods is moving in any day now. But many moons ago, President Theodore Roosevelt's grandfather, Cornelius Van Schaack Roosevelt (1794-1871), lived in a mansion in that same location. Photos of Abraham Lincoln's 1865 NYC funeral procession show the mansion in the background. Cornelius, one of the city's 10 or so millionaires at the time, made his riches as a plate glass merchant and real-estate investor, and was also a founder of Chemical Bank. He purchased a house at 28 East 20th Street in 1853 as a wedding present for the youngest of his five sons, Theodore Sr. (father of President Theodore Roosevelt), where all four Roosevelt children were born. The house was demolished in 1916, but was replicated in 1923, and made a museum and National Historic Site in 1962. It is open to public and is very fun to visit. That's where I learned that the Teddy Bear is named in honor of Teddy Roosevelt.
Y'see, in 1902 Teddy Roosevelt was down south, settling a land dispute between Mississippi and Louisiana. He went hunting. Since there wasn't much to shoot, his hunting hosts captured a cub and tied it to tree to make it an easy target. Roosevelt refused to shoot the bear. Political cartoonist Clifford Berryman depicted this scene in a Washington newspaper, in a cartoon titled "Drawing the Line in Mississippi," which was meant to signify that he knew how to negotiate border disputes as well as make the right decisions in cases involving shooting helpless animals tied to trees. This inspired Brooklyn candy shop owners Rose and Morris Michtom to make "Teddy's Bear" in honor of Roosevelt's actions. They used the likeness of the bear from the cartoon as the model, and displayed the handmade bear in their shop window. It caught on, Roosevelt's popularity soared, Teddy Bears were highly sought after, and the Michtom's closed their shop and opened the Ideal Toy Company, which became one of the largest toy companies in America. Teddy Bears are now the third most collectible item, after stamps and coins.
While we're discussing being nice to creatures, let me fill you in on the 3rd month of the MAGIC GARDEN's voluntary "Be Nice" Campaign, which supports a different cause/charity/fund. On Monday, you will have the opportunity, if you so desire, to contribute to The Neighborhood School (121 East 3rd, in Manhattan, www.theneighborhoodschool.org). The MAGIC GARDEN's support at the May party will directly help the arts education program at the school." This month's fund brought to you by Theresa Locklear (McBurney).
We're spicing things up this month with a raffle! Not a waffle. Now when you donate, you will not only be supporting a worthy cause, but you will also have a chance to win a fabulous prize! This month, every donation of $2 or more will give you a chance to win two excellent City Passes Booklets (www.citypass.com), which will give you free entry into 6 excellent attractions MOMA, Guggenheim, Empire State Building, Circle Line Cruise, The Intrepid, and the Museum of Natural History. It's fun to act like a tourist! Use a British accent for the day and say "blimey." Or say "y'all" while wearing a purple sweatsuit, and walk very slowly during rush hour. And don't forget to mispronounce Houston Street.
Winners and losers can also take part in the free tour of Union Square every Saturday at 2pm. It meets at the Lincoln Statue at 16th Street. Check out the Union Square Partnership at 212-460-1200 or www.unionsquarenyc.org.
Check the classifieds section of www.nycmagicgarden.com for more information about the Be Nice Campaign.
If you have a cause that is of personal significance to you and would like to be the monthly recipient of the MAGIC GARDEN's voluntary donation, please email me the details. Everyone is welcomed and encouraged to participate.
More about Union Square
In September 1882, union workers in NYC took an unpaid day off and marched around Union Square in the city's first Labor Day parade, fighting for an eight hour workday.
Union Square Park was designated a national landmark in 1998.
You know what was in Union Square in the 1960s and 70s? Not Walgreen's. Not Starbucks. Not Virgin Megatore. Yes, Andy Warhol's "Factory." 33 Union Square West. Bloody good. Andy Warhol was born Andrew Warhola in Pittsburgh in 1928, the son of Slovak immigrants. After graduating from the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University), he moved to NYC and worked as a commercial artist for magazines like Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, and The New Yorker, and did advertising and window displays for fancy stores.
In 1952, he had his first individual show at the Hugo Gallery, exhibiting Fifteen Drawings Based on the Writings of Truman Capote. His first group show at the MOMA was in 1956. Blah blah blah about Cambell's Soup and Marilyn Monroe imagery let's be a tad more interesting.
Warhol was commissioned to do a mural for New York City's 1964 World's Fair American pavilion. He made a 20 x 20 foot work called "The Thirteen Most Wanted Men," featuring the police mug-shots of criminals. NY Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller ordered it removed. Warhol's idea for a substitution, a painting with panels of a public official named Robert Moses, was not accepted either.
In 1968, Valerie Solanis, founder and sole member of SCUM (Society for Cutting Up Men), shot Warhol at the Factory. Thus the 1996 film, "I Shot Andy Warhol." He almost died. He never fully recovered and supposedly had to wear a bandage around his waist for the rest of his life about 20 years.
Warhol made over 300 "experimental" films. His first one, "Sleep," showed a man sleeping for six hours.
He created the TV show "Andy Warhol's Fifteen Minutes" for MTV in 1986, which unfortunately lasted 30 minutes, due to commercials.
In 1985, Warhol appeared as himself on the 200th episode of "The Love Boat." Bernie Koppell (Doctor Adam Bricker on "The Love Boat") was born and raised in Brooklyn. He went to Erasmus High School and then majored in Dramatic Arts at NYU. He was "discovered" while driving a taxi in 1958.
Andy Warhol died in 1987 after routine gall bladder surgery. He was buried in Pittsburgh and more than 2,000 people attended the memorial mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral. Yoko Ono read the eulogy.
Warhol's estate brought
a wrongful-death lawsuit against the hospital, which was settled out of
court for three million dollars. The money went to Warhol's two brothers
as part of a deal to guarantee that they would not contest Andy's will
in which he left them $250,000.00. Warhol's estate was worth over half
a billion dollars. Wowza! That kind of money makes me want to party!