Take a Walk on the Wild Side: Making Cosmopolis Come Alive at 3rd Ave. & 47th St.Art in Cosmopolis: Rothko and Pollock BuckyW Don DeLillo Original Series: "Take a Walk on the Wild Side: 47th St. NYC Photo Diary and Novel Tour
The story at 3rd Ave. & 47th St.
Eric is proceeding across town, not taking seriously Torval’s concern about doing so with a credible threat looming. Michael Chin is in the jump seat of the limo, trying to caution Eric about “leveraging too rashly” on the yen. They have a clever, wise-guy type exchange about “the rat becoming the unit of currency.” In the novel, Eric ruminates about the meaning of data, his love of data. We hear Shiner do this in the film.
At the corner are the first of two haircutting salons that Torval would rather he visit. Eric does exit the limo, but it is to visit Didi Fancher’s apartment for a tryst and conversation. Didi is Eric’s art consultant/buyer.
We’ll look at two things today- the encounter between Eric and Didi, and the neighborhood hair salons I saw on my walking tour and a funny thing I noticed there.
Eric and Didi
At the northwest corner of 3rd and 47th, Eric leaves the limo to go down a tunneled passage to his lover Didi Fancher’s apartment. Didi is a 47-year-old “scorched blonde”; she is played in the film by the accomplished (and brunette) actress Juliette Binoche. As we see in the trailer, this tryst scene appears elsewhere, and quite graphically so, in Eric’s limo. In the book, there’s a long conversation between the two about money, art, and what Eric is doing with his reckless trading that day.
|Not a passage way, nor “cross-vaulted arch of white lattice” as described;
but adjacent to salons and like to think similar to Didi’s building
We don’t know about other readers of the novel, but we felt that Eric’s conversation with Didi, and the one with Benno, bookended his day. They were similar in that they were both real, back-and-forth conversations, with the individuals exploring what drives Eric to do what he does. They were also both able to reach Eric a bit, to achieve some human connection, to probe at his weaknesses.
|Didi asking Eric her question
Eric tells Didi about how he’s losing enormous sums of money betting on the yen, and they talk about her progress in acquiring a Rothko painting for him. Like the Lay’s potato chip slogan, Eric can’t stop at just one, he wants to buy the Rothko Chapel. Bolded dialogue is in the trailer:
Eric: “How much?”
Didi: “What does it mean to spend money? A dollar? A million.”
Eric: “For a painting?
Didi: “For anything.”
|Many readers likely recognize the painter’s signature
style of floating rectangles of color
So how much does a Rothko cost?
Edit 11/23/12: Here’s a more recent story, record take at a Southby’s auction with a $75m bid for a Rothko contributing greatly to the outcome: entertainment.time.com
|Source: Southby story Link|
A Rothko slideshow can be viewed at:
At this website: National Gallery of Art, Washington DC. I encourage a visit to this link. The Guggenheim’s collection online of Rothko’s paintings are here: Guggenheim, New York, NY
“The Rothko Chapel, founded by Houston philanthropists John and Dominique de Menil, was dedicated in 1971 as an intimate sanctuary available to people of every belief. A tranquil meditative environment inspired by the mural canvases of Russian born American painter Mark Rothko (1903-1970), the Chapel welcomes over 60,000 visitors each year, people of every faith and from all parts of the world.”
“The mission of the Rothko Chapel is to inspire people to action through art and contemplation, to nuture reverence for the highest aspirations of humanity, and to provide a forum to explore matters of worldwide concern.”
On to a missed opportunity….
Eric’s Neighborhood Hair Salons
This is the location where Torval encourages Eric to get a haircut and abort his cross-town mission to get one at his childhood barbershop in Hell’s Kitchen. Eric is having none of this talk. Walking the actual route, sure enough, there are two haircutting salons in this area. Likely their names have changed since the novel was written, but here are photos.
|Salon and barbershop is up the stairs;
(this is to the right of the white residence above)
|Second salon to the right of the first|
This is where I broke out into a smile on my walk–when I read the name of the bar in between. So apropos to the story of Eric’s wild ride, it’s the SNAFU bar. SNAFU is a sarcastic acronym for “situation normal, all f***ed up.” The acronym is believed to have a US military origin around World War II.
Eric had a chance to make his day simple and get the haircut here, but he persists in pursuing his cross-town trek, as we heard in the trailer:
“We want what we want, and we want a haircut.”
So on they continued to Lexington Avenue. Just think, there was a psychic Eric could have consulted…
|…just to the right of the SNAFU bar.|
Where Eric’s head is at:
- Eric makes both a physical and a bit of an emotional connection with Didi Fancher.
- Eric is rejecting all reasonable recommendations of his bodyguard, Torval, to avoid danger.
- Eric is conversing with Michael Chin and Didi about his wild leveraging that day, but neither can get him to change his direction.
Where the story’s at:
- Eric’s trek across Manhattan for his haircut is secured. He’s going, come hell or high-water.
- He sees Arthur Rapp’s assassination on the Money Channel as he inches towards Lexington Ave.
- Eric shows us his love of art, but also his love of throwing a lot of money around. A recurring theme in this novel, DeLillo questions: what is the meaning of money anymore?
- Didi tells Eric he needs to have the Rothko, as it speaks to something in him that is “receptive to the mysteries.” Again, art is prominent in a DeLillo novel. We are speculating, but perhaps Didi understands that art stops time, it enters human consciousness, prompting contemplation. It’s not data, it’s not formulas, it’s a different experience for Eric.