1874: That Was the Year That Was

February 3rd, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

One-hundred forty years old, that’s how old Gertrude Stein will be today,  February 3rd or would have been, were many of the magical, medical, longevity miracles that are beginning to surface been around fifty years ago. But then the question is, does anyone really want or need to live that long?

I’d be 140 in 2089 , only 20 years from the 22nd Century and not sure if I’d like to be there, there!

A miniature of the house Gertrude was born in at 850 Beech Ave., Allegheny, PA.

A miniature of the house Gertrude was born in at 850 Beech Ave., Allegheny, PA.

But let’s go back to 1874,  the year of Gertrude’s birth to see what was happening.

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A poem as the new year begins

January 13th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

In the previous post, I, as Alice, wrote a spoof of “Twas the Night Before Christmas.”  Now, as an antidote to that disrespectful take on the All-American holiday classic, I’ve written a “legitimate” poem inspired by a press photo that has long fascinated me of Alice B. Toklas, Janet Flanner and the Picasso portrait.

In 1955, there was a major Picasso retrospective in Paris.  Among the works shown was his 1906 portrait of Gertrude Stein, which had been shipped to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York per her will, but was returned to Paris for the exhibition.  For Alice to see the portrait again must have been an emotional experience.

My poem alludes both to the famous Picasso quote after someone, seeing the finished painting, had said to him that the portrait looked nothing like Gertrude, as well as Alice’s conversion to Catholicism in 1957. (And Janet and Alice’s love of their cigarettes!)

Janet Flanner was a longtime friend of GertrudeandAlice and would regularly include items about them in her Letter from Paris in The New Yorker magazine writing under the name “Genêt.”


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‘Twas the Week After Christmas: A Faux Poem by Alice

December 31st, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink


Because of the number of GertrudeandAlice anniversaries happening in 2014 (see previous post) , I thought it would be fun to speculate that hidden in the bottom of one of the archive boxes at Yale, there was a journal with a number of pieces that Alice had written, unbeknownst to Gertrude. Among them was Alice’s take on the Clement Moore Christmas standard in which she anticipates the activities of the new year 1934.


[As with many of Gertrude’s notebooks in the Yale collection, Alice’s notebook also contains marginalia which is noted following the poem.]

‘Twas the week after Christmas, when all through the rue

There was so much excitement and so much to do.

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Arosing for the Occasion: Holiday Wishes from GertrudeandAlice

December 17th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink


“Lo, how a rose, a rose, a rose, a rose e’r blooming,” Gertrude’s  take on the 16th century Christmas hymn.  Or in its original German: “Es ist ein Ros, ein Ros, ein Ros, ein Ros entsprungen.”

220px-Speyerer_Gesangbuch_Es_ist_ein_Ros_entsprungenAs another year ends, these steinized lyrics usher in the 14th year of the 21st century as GertrudeandAlice and Basket II pose with  an oversized rose sculpture created by the German artist Isa Genzken. (Genzken, coincidentally, currently has a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.)


And what is in the boxes? Embellishments for the sensible Balmain suits, a bedazzled collar  for Basket or maybe the latest cooking gadget for Alice’s kitchen?

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Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose…at 100 !

August 29th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

The question often is “How many roses are there in “it?”  The “it” being Gertrude Stein’s most famous phrase about the proverbial bloom so popular on Mother’s Day, weddings, the Bachelorette,  or just when you need to convince that special someone that you spoke out of place and need a full-bodied tasty wine and wonderful Italian dinner and a crystal vase for the long-stemmed beauties that you are holding penitently!

To be precise,  there are four “roses” in it (and no “a” at the beginning,) as opposed to more than four saints in Four Saints in Three Acts, which, to digress for a moment, was a super-hit and crowd favorite in it’s most recent incarnation as Gertrude Stein’s SAINTS  at the just ended New York International Fringe Festival. (See previous post.)

St. Therese of the Roses: Roses and Saints, full-circle

St. Therese of the Roses: Roses and Saints, full-circle

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“Oh, when the SAINTS….!”

July 16th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

The year was 1934. FDR was in the second year of his first term as President.  The top movie of the year was “It Happened One Night” with Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert. And the theater and opera world were agog about FOUR SAINTS IN THREE ACTS!

The agogism wasn’t because the opera’s title was a lie, as there were more than four saints and more than three acts in the piece. Neither was the music by a not too well-known composer, Virgil Thomson,  particularly revolutionary.  Yes, it had an all-black cast, a first for an opera or theater work on Broadway (this was pre-Porgy and Bess), but what raised eyebrows and caused agogamania was the libretto by Gertrude Stein, that little read, but very much in the public eye, personality and transplanted American from “artsy-fartsy Paris!”

a few of the original Four Saints, standing, not marching, at this point

a few of the original Four Saints, standing, not marching, at this point

Why with lyrics from one of its most well-known refrains, why wouldn’t there be Steinmania across America?

“Pigeons on the grass alas.
  Pigeons on the grass alas.
  Short longer grass short longer longer shorter yellow grass. Pigeons


large pigeons on the shorter longer yellow grass alas pigeons on the
  If they were not pigeons what were they.”

When Gertrude’s editor for the book version of the opera, Saxe Commins at Random House, raised questions about the libretto, she turned to him, stared him in the eyes and said “My dear, you simply don’t understand!”

Now, almost 80 years later, an exciting, new version of  FOUR SAINTS, Gertrude Stein SAINTS!,  comes to New York in a few weeks to the La MaMa Theatre, the  historic off-off Broadway theater (it’s where the musical HAIR was created and performed in 1968), as part of this year’s New York International Fringe Festival.

These SAINTS! are marching in to the beat of a different drummer in more ways than one!

"Oh Lord I want to be in that number...!"

“Oh Lord I want to be in that number…!”

Here’s a bit of history and background:

“Our initial investigation into Stein’s work began with an all-male production of Four Saints in Three Acts at Carnegie Mellon University in February of 2013. Stein’s libretto offers no plot, no characters, and no conflict; it is a non-narrative text that can best be described as linguistic gymnastics.  In all this absence, anything becomes possible and what we have discovered is a Theatre of Joy. The response to the original production was overwhelmingly positive and became an invitation for more. We have since added an all-female Saints and Singing, also featuring an original musical score inspired by American music created by insanely talented performers. The two works are combined to create Gertrude Stein SAINTS!, powerhouse that explores gender, a theatre that replaces conflict with joy, and America.

Under the guidance of director Michelle Sutherland, this production has also tapped in to the 21st century’s answer to the patronage of the Medicis or the generosity of the Rockefellers, Guggenheims, or Fords, by raising funds through kickstarter.com. The goal of the 21 day campaign is $9,000, of which more than two-thirds has been pledged and there is one week to go!

Lorenzo de Medici looking like a saint. Right?!

Lorenzo de Medici looking like a saint. Right?!

Be a part of this! Haven’t you always wanted to be a Medici or Rockefeller? And if you’re in or near New York City next month, get your tickets soon.


If they were not pigeons, what were they? My dear,  SAINTS!, of course! Now you understand!


The Long Hot Summer…

July 2nd, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Sorry about the lack of GertrudeandAliciana, but something will hit this page soon.

In the meantime, enjoy these posters which have nothing to do with GertrudeandAlice.






Till soon, your friend in GertrudeandAlice!


The Autobiography by Any Other Name(s)…and Two Birthdays

April 29th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas was published 80 years ago this fall.  What better way to celebrate this anniversary and Alice’s birthday on April 30th (Happy 136 !),  than with another autobiography, but not just any autobiography would do and it hasn’t!

The 1933 Autobiography:"May I come in, Pussy?"

The 1933 Autobiography:
“Bedtime, Pussy?”

Just a few weeks ago THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF DANIEL J. ISENGART by Filip Noterdaeme was published by Outpost19. Honoring the style of Stein’s faux-biography, Noterdaeme writes about his partner and their life together.  They are the new expats, one from Belgium, one from Germany, and their Paris is Brooklyn, New York City, the Hamptons and beyond.

But who are FilipandDaniel, the GertrudeandAlice of the 21st century, whose book ushers in the 80th anniversary year of THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY?

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Fritz Peters at 100: A Tribute by Any Other Name…

March 2nd, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

There are certain people, both real or imaginary, who will always remain children in our memory.

From Peter Pan and his followers in Neverland, to Christopher Robin dragging Winnie the Pooh behind him, to the precocious rascals of the Our Gang comedies and the Depression-era tap dancing and ever-smiling Shirley Temple, these young ‘uns are ageless!

The ageless Peter Pan

The ageless Peter Pan

A bumpy ride for Mr. Pooh.

A bumpy ride for Mr. Pooh.

All together now rascals!

All together now rascals!

Miss Temple tapping the blues away!

Miss Temple tapping the blues away!

I’m adding to this menagerie of Shangrila cuties, Arthur Anderson Peters, who wrote under the name Fritz Peters.  Fritz would have turned 100 years old today.

Fritz at the age he was in Gertrude and Alice and Fritz and Tom

Fritz at the age he was in Gertrude and Alice and Fritz and Tom

It was the wonderful chapter in his memoir, BOYHOOD WITH GURDJIEFF, which inspired me to write my picture book GERTRUDE AND ALICE AND FRITZ AND TOM.  I just couldn’t resist retelling the story of two young boys, Fritz and his brother Tom, reveling under the tutelage of GertrudeandAlice in 1920s Paris.  (Woody Allen, there’s a Paris sequel for you!)  And Fritz’s quote about his years at the boarding school outside of Paris helped to make the decision to do the book even easier:

 “I have never forgotten that winter.  The long evenings of reading and study in our warm rooms [and] looking forward to my visits to Paris with Gertrude and Alice.”

On his 100th birthday, I pay tribute to Fritz Peters, a tribute that is long overdue.

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Auf Wiedersehen Papst Benedikt XVI

February 11th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Just a timely, mini- post:

“Come and say what prints all day. A whole few watermelon. There is no pope.”-Gertrude Stein, TENDER BUTTONS (1914)



Some big Pradamelon shoes to fill:


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