Category Archives: culture

Old Westbury Gardens Winter Holiday – Now & Then

From LONG ISLAND – by Ann Parry (ann-parry.com)
December 23, 2017

Last Sunday, while entering the snowy grounds of Old Westbury Gardens with my friend Bob, I thought back to 2007, when I visited the Gold Coast estate during a biting, heavy snowfall.

Past

That day 10 Decembers ago, I stayed outside capturing photos until I absolutely had to go to Westbury House, beg mercy from staff in the Entrance Hall, take off my gloves and boots, and stand toasty close to the fireplace.

Old Westbury, New York, USA. Dec. 5, 2007. At Westbury House, the Entrance Hall window with black wrought iron grill gives hazy glimpse of snowstorm. (Ann Parry/Ann Parry, Ann-Parry.com)

Old Westbury, New York, USA. December 5, 2007. At Westbury House, the Entrance Hall window with black wrought iron grill gives hazy glimpse of snowstorm. (© 2007 Ann Parry/Ann-Parry.com)

Slowly defrosting in the impressively elegant wood and marble hall, I imagined myself back outside the mansion, but during the Great Blizzard of 1947, when the John and Margarita Phipps family lived there….

Fantasy ’47

I was a trespasser with a noble mission – wielding my Kodak in the snowstorm to capture ghostlike images of trees – and, alas, flirting with hypothermia.

Without warning, a tall stranger swept me off my numb feet and whisked me to the mansion. As we took off our coats, I noticed he, too, had a camera strapped around his neck.

We sat in front a fireplace surrounded by books, and he put his hand to his chest. “Victor, Victor Hasselblad – a… a husgäst of Phipps,” he said softly and with a melodic accent. “And you, lilla frusen lövsångare?”   

“Oh my,” “I said, “You’re THE Victor Hasselblad!” The genius nodded. “You’ve just GOT to develop a Hasselblad camera for civilians!” I said, then started to tell him why….

Old Westbury, New York, USA. December 17, 2017. A lighted Christmas tree decorates the formal dining room of Westbury House at Old Westbury Gardens during its Winter Holiday event. (Ann Parry/˙ 2017 Ann-Parry.com)

Old Westbury, New York, USA. December 17, 2017. A lighted Christmas tree decorates the elegant dining room of Westbury House at Old Westbury Gardens during its Winter Holiday event. (© 2017 Ann Parry/Ann-Parry.com)

Present

Now I’m at times better about coming in from the cold before losing feeling in my extremities.

But I always do my best to protect my camera. So last weekend when Bob and I arrived at Old Westbury Gardens and stepped out of the car on to slippery icy snow-covered grounds, we headed straight to Westbury House.

Once inside, we heard what sounded like live music coming from the Ballroom just ahead. We were right, for in a far corner of the vast room, pianist ANGELINA FUSCO was playing traditional Christmas music on a Steinway grand piano, backlit by large windows. Capturing the atmospheric scene was a fun challenge.

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Old Westbury, New York, USA. December 17, 2017. Pianist ANGELINA FUSCO plays Christmas music on Steinway grand piano to entertain visitors at Old Westbury Gardens museum, a former estate of John Shaffer Phipps, during snowy winter holiday weekend on Long Island's Gold Coast. (© 2017 Ann Parry/Ann-Parry.com)


Old Westbury, New York, USA. Dec. 17, 2017. Pianist ANGELINA FUSCO plays Christmas music on Steinway grand piano at Old Westbury Gardens museum during Winter Holiday weekend. (© 2017 Ann Parry/Ann-Parry.com)

The Main Hall was not to be missed, especially for families with children, since that’s where Santa sat surrounded by a Christmas tree, fireplace that was a great setting for holiday photos, and stairway strewn with stuffed animals looking as if they’d spilled out of Santa’s bag as he made his way up to the Children’s Quarters on the Third floor.

Old Westbury, New York, USA. December 17, 2017. Santa sits ready for visitors next to a Christmas tree on second floor of Westbury House at Old Westbury Gardens museum during snowy winter holiday weekend. (© 2017 Ann Parry/Ann-Parry.com)

Old Westbury, New York, USA. December 17, 2017. Santa sits ready for visitors next to a Christmas tree on second floor of Westbury House at Old Westbury Gardens museum during winter holiday weekend. (© 2017 Ann Parry/Ann-Parry.com)

Bob lingered longest in the bedroom with a large-scale model train traveling around the room, disappearing for a while each lap as it followed tracks under the bed.

Children (of all ages) also enjoyed the charming scene in Mrs. Phipps’s bathroom, where deer and penguins watched a fawn take a bubble bath in the green and white bathtub.

Old Westbury, New York, USA. December 17, 2017. In the Westbury House children's sunny bathroom of Old Westbury Gardens museum, deer and penguins watch over fawn taking a bubble bath. (Ann Parry/Ann Parry, ann-parry.com)

Old Westbury, New York, USA. December 17, 2017. Deer family and penguins watch over a fawn taking a bubble bath in Mrs. Phipps’s bathroom at Westbury House at Old Westbury Gardens, a Long Island Gold Coast estate. (© 2017 Ann Parry/Ann-Parry.com)

As closing time neared, we visited the Porch facing West, with its three walls of windows, and enjoyed hot cider and the panoramic, ungilded dusk view.

Old Westbury, New York, USA. December 17, 2017. At Westbury House, two Christmas trees flank the Porch facing West, with panoramic view of snowy grounds during Winter Holiday event at Old Westbury Gardens. (© 2017, Ann Parry/Ann-Parry.com)

Old Westbury, New York, USA. December 17, 2017. At Westbury House, two Christmas trees flank the Porch facing West, with panoramic view of snowy grounds during Winter Holiday event at Old Westbury Gardens. (© 2017 Ann Parry/Ann-Parry.com)

And when it was time to go, we made our way through the snow once again.

Old Westbury Gardens Winter 2017:  SLIDESHOW | GALLERY

LIIFE 2017 Long Island International Film Expo

From LONG ISLAND – by Ann Parry (ann-parry.com)
July 22, 2017

“Laugh about it, Shout about it….”

Wednesday afternoon I visited the Filmmaker’s Lounge and the Bellmore Movies theater, where the Long Island International Film Expo was in full swing. LIIFE was celebrating its 20th Anniversary!


After capturing photos and a short video of MAGGIE WAGNER, the vivacious actor who plays Mom in the short film MOM, I spoke with TRISH APPELLO, the festival Coordinator and Secretary of the non-profit LITV/Film Foundation, which, along with the Nassau County Film Commission, presents the Festival.

When Appello told me about the feature documentary Where Have You Been, Lou DiMaggio? – the last filmed being screened that last night of the festival – I decided to return after dinner to catch it.

“MARIAM’S DAY OFF”

That night I arrived in time to first watch Mariam’s Day Off, a foreign film by Director ARSHAK AMIRBEKYAN, who filmed it in Armenia.

“Look around you, all you see are sympathetic eyes….”

I found the placid-on-the-surface story about a young prostitute who ends up spending a day with an artist and his family at his art studio so emotionally compelling and poignant that it wasn’t until about half way into the short film (0:44:22 min) that I thought to myself, “Oh, it’s in black and white!”

Bellmore, New York, USA. 19th July 2017. Director and writer ARSHAK AMIRBEKYAN speaks during a Q&A at the Long Island International Film Expo LIIFE 2017. (© 2017 Ann Parry)

Bellmore, NY, USA. 19th July 2017. ARSHAK AMIRBEKYAN, Director of “Mariam’s Day Off” short film, speaks at LIIFE 2017. (© 2017 Ann Parry/Ann-Parry.com)

“WHERE HAVE YOU GONE, LOU DiMAGGIO?”

The next and final screening was the documentary Where Have You Gone, Lou DiMaggio? – a feature film (75 min) directed by BRAD KUHLMAN about comedian LOU DiMAGGIO considering returning to comedy after being away from the stage for 20 years.

For more than one reason, I was glad Appello had enthusiastically recommended seeing, Where Have You Gone, Lou DiMaggio?

For starters, it was fun to see so many of DiMaggio’s fellow comedians – including Joy Behar, Richard Belzer, Rebecca Corry, Larry David, Susie Essman, Jeff Garlin, Howie Mandel, Colin Quinn, Chris Rock, Ray Romano, Jerry Seinfeld.

And Lou DiMaggio’s stand up comedy sets on his road to comeback were certainly memorable, and for wildly different reasons.

“We’d like to help you learn to help yourself….”

And what likely made the strongest impression on me in Where Have You Gone, Lou DiMaggio? was cautionary advice DiMaggio’s fellow comedian gave him about returning to stand up comedy – for it reminded me, in a way, of advice my late mom, an opera singer, gave her voice students, including my talented younger brother:

The world has more outstanding singers than it can afford to support. And the difference between the best and next best in a major competition or audition can be imperceptible even to an expert – so luck will play a big part in the career each has.

When choosing if you’ll pursue a living in the arts, follow that path only if you’re absolutely driven to AND you can handle the competition and pressure.

Bellmore, New York, USA. 19th July 2017. L-R, HENRY STAMPFEL, BRAD KUHLMAN, LOU DiMAGGIO, TRISH APPELLO, woman, and ANNE STAMPFEL pose during final Screening Night of Long Island International Film Expo 2017 at Bellmore Movies. The last film screened was the feature documentary

Bellmore, NY, USA. 19th July 2017. L-R, HENRY STAMPFEL, BRAD KUHLMAN, LOU DiMAGGIO, TRISH APPELLO, MARIA PUSATERI, and ANNE STAMPFEL pose during final Screening Night of Long Island International Film Expo 2017 at Bellmore Movies. (© 2017 Ann Parry/Ann-Parry.com)

FILMMAKERS Q&A

“We’d like to know a little bit about you for our files….”

For the Q&A, eight filmmakers associated with the films screened that night participated. After hearing the candid, detailed answers to the audience’s thought-provoking questions, I wished I’d arrived in time to watch all the films.

  • View VIDEO of comedian Lou DiMaggio at the Q&A to hear behind-the-scenes info, including what the biggest obstacle was he faced making the documentary:

VIDEO above: Lou DiMaggio answers Q&A question at LIIFE 2017. [Q&A did not take place aboard a ship on stormy seas, despite appearances to contrary.] 

“And here’s to you….”

The next night at the Long Island International Film Expo Awards Ceremony, LIIFE celebrated its 20th Anniversary and 2017 winners, including the Best Documentary Feature:  “Where Have You Gone Lou DiMaggio?”

“Wo, wo, wo….”

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