All Dressed Up on the Lower East Side
Getting all dressed up on a freezing winter day isn’t easy, but my one-time Lower East Side neighbors Andi Burnett and Jane Yeomans managed just beautifully.
Andi took the M.O. of dressing up to heart, wearing a sweeping wool dress from the 1970s that belonged to her mother. Fabulous! Andi remembers her mother wearing it to go out with her father, a somewhat harrowing experience as a very young Andi was left alone to care for her baby brother in her hometown of Konstanz, Germany. The brilliant purple Catherine hat is an old standby from the 1990s.
Andi is a model maker for movies and television, and one of the handiest people I know. I have always admired her ability to transform items she has found on the street into delightful assemblages, ingeniously rig a lamp with what's at hand and some wire, or nurse an abandoned plant back to life.
Jane is a photo editor and photographer with an unerring eye. She wore a white sheepskin hat bought several years ago at the Union Square Greenmarket. I though the hat was very Lara from Doctor Zhivago, though Jane insists the influence is the white majorette boots she had as a child. The long down coat has a story, too. She bought it nineteen years ago, soon after her son was born as she and her husband spent much of their time strolling in the city. She meant to donate it, but this winter it has had a new life as she spends plenty of time outdoors during Covid. It serves as a coat-slash-blanket for outdoor coffee, drinks, and walks.
We drank tea spiked with rum on Andi’s rooftop, enjoying the incredible view of the city. In the background you can see the Forward Newspaper Building, the onetime home of the famed Yiddish Socialist newspaper and one of my favorite Lower East Side landmarks. Check out the façade which bears the Forward name in both English and Yiddish, and the terra-cotta banding above the entry where you can find carved reliefs of early Socialist leaders including Marx and Engels.
Jane, Andi and I, along with our partners and one other couple, have had a Saturday night Zoom cocktail call since the second week of the shutdown in March 2020. This weekly ritual with people I find inspiring is one of the things that has brought companionship and sanity to my life during Covid.
Andi and Jane: What has helped you get through Covid?
“The Beach. During my first months, I stayed in my bungalow in Far Rockaway and the first thing I would do every morning was walk on the beach. Also, friends. Seeing them in whatever way is possible.“
“Our weekly Zoom calls. Socially distanced time with friends. Cooking. Running along the East River.”