For the love of it
Robert Genn

October 20, 2009

Dear Rodney,

I'm laptopping you from Table 6 in an intimate restaurant in the Carlisle 
Hotel in New York City's Upper East Side. Just a few feet away there's a small 
stage where seven seasoned musicians, including Woody Allan, are energetically 
belting out a Dixie version of "Midnight Train to Georgia." We're getting the 
moisture from their instruments all over us. 

We've just emerged from the adjoining bar; a genuine period piece if there 
ever was one. Here are the murals and decorations of Ludwig Bemelmans--the 
adventures of Madeline--a character from seven of his books written for 
children. Bemelmans, born in Austria, was a restaurateur and gourmet. He had a 
compulsion to decorate every bar and restaurant he ever entered. This one, 
right down to the table lampshades, was a commission executed in 1947. The 
dark corners of the Bemelmans Bar has become a crossroads for the literary and 
artistic glitterati. Decades of smokers have not dulled the charm of his 

Ludwig Bemelmans (1898-1962) took to writing children's stories rather late in 
life. The "Madeline" books, first published in 1939, all began with, "In an old 
house in Paris, that was covered in vines, lived twelve little girls, in two 
straight lines. The smallest one was Madeline." Propelled by love and as an 
entertainment for his daughter, Bemelmans parlayed his passion into green 
feedback. Plays and movies followed. He became a serious painter and was 
represented in both public and commercial galleries. The rich and famous 
sought his childlike fantasies. So you can get an idea of Bemelmans' work, 
we've posted a few at the top of the current clickback.

Bemelmans was not attached to any of his works. Like food, they were to be 
enjoyed in the making and eating. 

Creative people often build their steam in a private and current world of 
their own devising. Complexity and difficulty demand focus and attention, 
modifying personality. Passion is the coal that becomes the greater part of 
talent. The locomotive is unstoppable when powered by love. 

Best regards,


PS: "I don't keep my books around... they would embarrass me. When I finish 
writing my books, I kick them in the belly, and have done with them." (Ludwig 

Esoterica: Woody Allen and his colleagues are swept up in the joy of 
Dixieland. Living a lifelong passion, Woody is a picture of humility and 
vulnerability. With charming internal repartee and knowing glances among band 
members, he toots his clarinet tolerably well. Why is he here? He certainly 
doesn't need the money. In a way, it's a private jam with a few chosen guests. 
The room feels his love. In the current clickback we've also put up a few 
shots I took during this remarkable evening.