– 6:30 a.m. I wake without prompting, having slept for just five hours–not uncommon for me on days when I have a morning deadline. I descend from the loft, fix and eat a low-fat multi-grain English muffin and a bowl of cereal with skim milk, and start writing my drama column for Friday’s The Wall Street Journal, a review of The History Boys, Lestat, and The Wedding Singer.
– 10:35 a.m. The column is done. I e-mail it to my editor, change clothes, and go to the gym for a session with my trainer.
– 12:05 p.m. Dripping with sweat, I return to the apartment and check my e-mail. My editor isn’t finished with the column, but I find in the box an e-mail from Shellwood, a new British record label based in Surrey whose Web site says it is “dedicated to recording light music, mostly from the 1920-40s.” To my amazement, they’ve released a Cy Walter CD called The Park Avenue Tatum and want to know if I’d like a review copy. I respond in the aggressive affirmative. Walter was a legendary cabaret pianist who is now remembered (if at all) for having played two-piano accompaniments with Stan Freeman on a couple of albums recorded in the Fifties by Mabel Mercer and Lee Wiley. I’ve never heard any of his solo recordings, none of which has previously been reissued in any format, and I’m curious, to put it very mildly.
– 12:35 p.m. No word yet from the Journal, so I take a shower and go out a second time. I stop by the post office (where I hear a man use the expressions “Hel-lo?” and “I don’t think so!” in consecutive sentences) to mail my mother a souvenir menu from the White House mess, at which I dined last month. Next comes lunch at Good Enough to Eat (where I hear a woman use the words “condescending,” “colonialist,” and “eco-variety” in a single sentence). Then I go to the bank, the drugstore, and the grocery store. My hands twitch as I stroll past a short stack of three boxes of Mallomars, to which my attention is drawn by a handwritten sign: “Last batch of the season!!” The spasm passes and I fill my cart with low-calorie foods instead, feeling virtuous as I pay the cashier.
– 2:25 p.m. Back to the apartment again, where Tuesday’s snail mail (none of it worth reading) has arrived, as has the edited version of my column, lightly salted with the usual editorial queries, all of them helpful. I make the necessary fixes and e-mail the revised column back to the Journal.
– 2:45 p.m. I decide to spend the rest of the afternoon looking at art. Acting on a tip from an “About Last Night” reader, I take a crosstown bus to the Metropolitan Museum to see a small but choice-sounding show of Stieglitz-period American works on paper. Alas, it’s no longer on display (though the signs are still up) and I’m not in the mood to look at anything else. Even a wallful of mostly unfamiliar Arthur Doves fails to do the trick. I depart in a state of moderate dudgeon, immediately dispelled by the beautiful spring weather (it was supposed to rain today, but didn’t).
– 4:20 p.m. I watch a BBC documentary on Bette Davis
stored on my DVR. What on earth do people see in her? I mean, I like All About Eve as much as the next guy, but who cares about those other movies she made in the Thirties and Forties? I’d take Ida Lupino any day. In search of insight, I consult David Thomson, who answers my question with his usual pithiness: “Davis was a vulgar, bullying actress, who made mannerism a virtue by showing us how it expresses the emotion of the self.”
– 5:50 p.m. No show tonight! I wrestle briefly with the compulsion to spend the evening tinkering with Hotter Than That: A Life of Louis Armstrong. Inspired by Thomson, I choose instead to pop a Mikl