My grandson Zach was surprised when I told him I was a fan of HBO’s American comedy-drama TV series “Entourage.” A bold and edgy show, I wouldn’t have stuck along for eight seasons if there wasn’t something inherently lovable about Vince, a sexy young actor, and his childhood buddies from Queens. I enjoyed those boys, warts and all. To share the fun of Vince’s rise eventually to the top of Hollywood together, they navigated the highs and lows of Hollywood’s fast lane. I liked the male bonding. There was always the brotherhood. “Entourage” covered a new generation of young men on their first heady ride of fame, sex, money and ambition. An additional favorite character was a studio head, Ari Gold, played by Jeremy Piven. In the last episode one was left wondering whether there will be a spin-off or even a movie concerning Ari’s dream job – an offer to be chairman and chief executive of a major film studio. We’ll have to wait and see.
“Heaven can wait. This is paradise.” Well, paradise for me is the Auberge Du Soleil in Napa Valley, Calif. It is an elegant country inn nestled within a thirty-two acre sunlit grove. The resort is located sixty-five miles north of San Francisco. So what was I doing there so far from Bayonne? Lucky for me, my adult children Dorrie and Jim have settled in San Anselmo, a lovely suburb of San Fran and their charming home includes a guest room just right for me. And they suggested (I didn’t protest) on touring the winery area. I became intoxicated (ha!) with the idea. So that’s how I was treated to panoramic views of the Napa Valley and they are spectacular. The extensive wine selections dizzied me. However, I managed to sip quite a few of the sparkling ones (my son Jim was the designated driver who stayed with club soda). The Napa Valley area includes, of course, the winery tours, olive oil tasting, shopping, art galleries, and museums. There’s also hot air ballooning and all the other sports activities one can imagine. It was so great to be there – and yet so great to return home.
You know their names: Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Gertrude Stein. But recently I learned something I never knew. I didn’t know that they were friends and that their first meetings came about when they were all just getting started in their careers. And instrumental in Picasso and Matisse eventually becoming household names was the indefatigable enthusiasm of Gertrude Stein and her family. I learned all this when I went to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art – the west coast’s first museum devoted to modern and contemporary art. There I experienced the Stein family’s historic collection – more than 200 masterpieces by Matisse, Picasso, Cezanne, Toulouse Lautrec, Renoir and others. “The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso, and the Parisian Avant Garde” is not a Picasso or Matisse retrospective. Instead, it tells the story of the Steins and their highly unusual and frequently brilliant collectors and patrons. The story is quite a potboiler: intense sibling rivalry, lesbianism, two world wars, summers in the south of France, and more. The Steins opened their Paris apartment on a weekly basis, welcoming those eager to see and discuss their newest artistic acquisitions. The crows attracted were exceptionally democratic and international. By some it came to “epitomize a societal freak show of bohemia…” When “The Steins Collect…” comes to New York, and it will come, you’ll be richly rewarded if you can get there. I hope to go “one mo’ time.”
You can e-mail June Sturz at firstname.lastname@example.org.