Celeste Martin: Holiday Generosity at its Best

Celeste Martin & Noel Tursi

In The Pass Musical, I speak about my guardian angel, Celeste Martin. She owned the carriage house building in the West Village from 1810 that I live in. She passed on December 13, 2018. I have a vignette in my show, about the apartment, aptly titled # 5 My West Village Apartment, and the first time I stepped into this very charming space and started my life in NYC as an artist.

Today I remembered how every holiday Ms. Martin would leave bags of treats for every tenant. She had 36 apartments and 3 commercial spaces at one time all filled, and everyone got gifts! Every year she went to Macy’s and filled up bags and dropped them off at the door of every tenant with a personalized card. And there was always champagne and it was always Veuve Clicquot. I still have a 1999 bottle unopened, because of the date!

Memories can be very special if they are good ones. I like to focus on good ones and when the not-so-good ones come into my head, I whisked them away. No need as these days, are challenging enough. However recalling the holidays with Celeste Martin and the joy she brought to me and all her tenants, well that may keep me warm for days!

How lucky am I to have a memory such as this?

Here’s a story I penned, and West View News shared. A Requiem for Celeste

To generosity.

Matza Ball Soup

As a Jewish woman, it is in my blood to nurture. I was surrounded by nuturing women my entire childhood and my teen years. Some might say, a bit too nurturing leaning towards bossy, at times. Whatever. The intent was/is always to care for those we love. The Yiddish saying Balabusta (Yiddishבעל־הביתטע‎) is a Yiddish expression describing a good homemaker. And I was called that by my dad, during his final years on earth. He thought it meant bossy. Yup, I got a bit bossy with my dad (desperate times call for concise measures!) –I wanted to be sure he was comfy during his final years. Love.

I believe I started writing songs out of love, to nuture listeners or to bring a respite from everyday life, to express feelings in a song to those that might not be able to expess themselves as freely. To entertain. That is how I started my singing career, as Baby June in Gypsy, with the famed song “Let Me Entertain You.” Well I guess I took it literally! Thank you Jule Styne (music) Stephen Sondheim (lyrics) for the inspiration.

Now you may be wondering why the title of this blog is Matza Ball Soup, well here we are with the answer. Today I sent a sick friend in Los Angeles, Matza Ball soup, from Canter’s in LA and delivered feverishly by Uber Eats (Odi) and ordered from my West Village apartment. Nurturing has never been easier and if I could, I’d send a quart of Matza Ball soup to allthe people I am close to. It is good for the soul. We all need some nurturing these days!!

And check out my next performance where I share all kinds of stories and songs during the United Solo Theatre Festvial 2021 of THE PASS Musical: https://unitedsolo.org/shows/the-pass-musical/

Time for some soup…

A West Village Original, ha! Living Large in Small Spaces

Michael D. Minichiello and I spoke over the phone and he summed up my life, career and THE PASS in 7 paragraphs! Now that’s some fine tuning! Really enjoyed speaking with him.

And I think the most charming part of New York is The West Village, hands down. Everything is smaller so maybe smaller is charming. But the people themselves live large lives in small spaces.” read Michael’s fun interview

Requiem For Celeste

 A Requiem For Celeste
 July 13, 2019
      ArticlesPeople
Celeste Martin: November 11, 1927—December 13, 2018
By Denise Marsa  
How many times have you heard about a New York City landlady giving every tenant in her multiple landmark rental buildings a special gift bag filled with Christmas goodies? Every year Celeste Martin looked forward to taking her staff, including her driver, carpenter and super, shopping at Macy’s Herald Square to help her fill 39 gift bags for her tenants. These were no ordinary gift bags, just as she was no ordinary landlady. As a tenant in one of her buildings, I was always thrilled with my gift bag’s content. One year I received a 1999 Perrier–Jouët (which I still have) and another year a 2011 Rose Veuve Clicquot. Yes, champagne! Accompanying the champagne was a bottle of Johnny Walker Black or a Johnny Walker variety pack. There were also always imported sweets and chocolates along with the spirits. read full article

Herbes De Provence & a way with seasoning

I love cooking.

There was one special person in my life a long time ago that actually said to me while he was enjoying the dinner I had made, “You have a way with seasoning.” The way he said it it was as if I was seducing the salt, pepper, rosemary, tarragon, and whatever I could get my hands on! And it kept me interested in cooking. I related seduction to cooking.

One item I will always have now, is Herbes De Provence. I am not sure when we first met, when I first laid my hands on the very special blend of herbs, all I know is it is an enduring relationship. And not all glassed HDP are the same, not by a long shot. My favorite these days is Citarella, and it is close to where I live in the West Village, NYC.

Spring 2019 & Herbes De Provence

Make no mistake about it, the art of cooking is alive and well in my most tiny kitchen. You have no idea…

Writing Producing Recording Strangers No More

I love all 3 and have been working over the past few months on a new song I wrote with a new young male artist Tobe Baer singing it. He and I and his brother in Germany are producing the track. The song is being recorded in my apartment in the West Village, NYC, Tobe’s apartment in Brooklyn and in his brother’s Janosch Roth’s studio in Germany Lautstumm. It has been a great experience so far, we are diving into the track full steam ahead, it gets better and better as it grows and our creative collaboration has been pretty extraordinary. Strangers in the music…music in strangers. After all we were once strangers. No more.

I feel good about it. Feeling Good. In honor of Black History month…Ms Simone expressing good, in a perfect way.

Action, Take 2 & How Do I Look?

Had a great 4 hours today working with Grumpy Films’s Daniel Sears and Jason Jude on a sizzle reel to promote THE PASS. I answered questions, played a few pieces from a few songs featured in the show. I even read a vignette about the time I walked out on a London stage, the first performance of the LUCKY STARS tour with Dean Friedman, in 5 inch heels! Talk about shaking in my knees.

We walked around my neighborhood in the West Village and in particular the corner of Gay & Christopher Street. I was pointing out points of interest including a former neighbor’s home Ruth McKenney where she worked on My Sister Eileen which later turned into the Broadway musical Wonderful Town.  Ruth and her sister Eileen, an actress, lived in one of my landlady’s building’s when her father owned it. I also shared how friendly all the neighbors were when I first moved in, this very intense guy always said hello to me as I anxiously walked down Gay Street to the NYU piano rooms to practice. Turns out it was the radical lawyer and civil rights activist William Kunstler.

The funny thing is writing THE PASS has given me a 90 minute look at my life with an original soundtrack score to add to the drama & laughter.

G&CMap2

Blue Bird Leaving the Nest

Lately I have been thinking a lot about home, and the role it plays in giving us a spiritual center. The apartment where I live in the West Village of NYC has been my dwelling for over thirty years; I have come to think of it almost as an extension of myself–like my arm or the shell a turtle carries on its back. As I think of performing my show THE PASS in different venues around the country, and maybe even in London, I know I must leave my Village sanctuary, if only for brief periods of time. Right now I can see a beautiful blue jay from my window, speaking loud and clear, perched on a bare tree.

My little apartment–it is one big room like a French artist’s studio–is so cozy and arranged to my liking: an antique Oriental rug, a comfy bed, closets packed with my favorite possessions in cupboards that are painted beautiful colors; my musical equipment including my keyboard; computers that I use for my PR work. Outside my window wind chimes blow a song with the wind and I often see the communal cats prowling around. They keep the mice away. It’s all idyllic, complete.

18christnyc1

Yet I contemplate deserting my home and going forth into the world, performing for strangers and staying in hotels, or inns or apartments. The vagabond, the gypsy in me is on and ready. The sailor is looking to find ways to tear up the anchor in celebration of my musical journey through the years.

I might spend some time in Tucson–awesome desert air, a pool, a living room with a fireplace! Or I can hang out in L.A., to experience the scene in West Hollywood. Oh what a scene!

No doubt, after I travel I will long to come back to my little nest in NYC.  Or will I outgrow my little pad, as I have before and leave it only for a time. It is where I have written so many of my songs. I know that I will always love my home in the Village, my place in which I have invested my heart. But there may right now be empty places, just waiting for my heart to fill them too.