Jumel Terrace Confidential, Sept. 12, 2017

Spent the morning with the painter Henry Taylor, two friends’ best friend and the present tenant. I’m an admirer, now more than ever. He came in early morning with a young Haitian painter from Brooklyn, Andy Robert, who’s in a group show – his first at a major venue – that opens Thursday at the Studio Museum.   A former studio assistant (“He didn’t know how to use a broom but I liked to hear him talk”), Henry’s come East just to lend the young man some support.

The artist made his early afternoon entrance to my library in the very new white pajamas he wore to the garden.  Cigarette’s and coffee al fresco, we talked about autism and the time he worked in a psychiatric ward, The Enlightenment, the Whitney Biennial, home-owning, women & children.  We talked about watching people paint and reading. We concluded it makes sense to read about people painting but not to watch people reading.  It took two cups of coffee.

“I never get to do this,” he says to me, “Just come to New York and hang out.  It’s always work or business.  I like this.”   It’s perfect weather for it.  The garden’s overgrown and about to go into that graceful decline we all aspire to.

After his ablutions Mister Taylor changed into blue shorts.  Luminous blue shorts.  Looking very much the California guy in Harlem, he got into a very heated conversation with Andy, who’d complained about how the show was hung:  “It’s a group show. You didn’t hang it.  You can’t care about such things.”  I mollified, “Not everyone can be well hung” and got back about cleaning up after the half-dozen Chinese kids here this past week filming themselves filming Fashion Week in New York.

On their way out they shot a laser printed faux foamboard sign hanging on the garden apartment’s front window under WORD reading Museo Romantico, leading me to believe their stay will show in a good light.  Making beds I listened to, first, Ozzie Bailey, accompanied by Duke Ellington, sing The Autumn Leaves in French (from my James Baldwin’s Harlem playlist), then “South Africa’s Songbird,”  Sathima Bea Benjamin same-so with Duke Ellington, adding a light torch to my afternoon.

Henry’s right.  I like this, too.  Only in New York, kiddies, Only in New York.

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