ARCHITECTURE | Exploring Don Hisaka

Hikasa_leadThe Owen D. Young Library at St. Lawrence University. The main wing, designed by Don Hisaka, was completed in 1980.

More than 30 years after it opened, the Owen D. Young Library at St. Lawrence University continues to be a polarizing building. Set amid a campus that developed in two bursts — the first between 1856 and 1915 and the second between 1925 and 1930 — the international-style, cement behemoth seems incongruous to many. Indeed, its brutalist exterior is a stark contrast to its gothic and neocolonial neighbors.

Once inside, though, one can realize that architect Don Hisaka wanted the library to complement its neighbors. Windows on the second floor frame terrific views of Richardson Hall, Gunnison Chapel and other older campus buildings. Hisaka also intended the building to stimulate — its original furnishings included a spectrum of primary colors. In the 1999-2000 renovation, those were replaced with more muted and earthy tones. Among the library’s other features are a massive indoor garden and raised study carrels known as treehouses.

While ODY can be interpreted to be severe and uninviting, Hisaka’s houses are charming. Based in Cleveland in the 1960s and 1970s and later in Massachusetts and California, Hisaka’s work pays heavy tribute to the international style. Again, though, I find his domestic work very approachable. Check out this house, built as a summer residence in Peninsula, Ohio, in 1965:


And this is the courtyard of Hisaka’s Shaker Heights home, built in the late 1960s:

More Hisaka here.

CLIP | Nina Simone, ‘I wish I knew …,’ 1976

CLIP | ‘I wish I knew,’ 1980s

TRAILER | ‘The Getaway,’ 1972

CLIP | Sammy Davis Jr. and Suntory, 1970s

CLIP | Oscar Peterson and Dick Cavett, 1980s

CLIP | ‘Big Chief,’ 1970s

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LIVES | Bill Evans, piano genius, 1929-1980

Bill Evans, the noted jazz pianist, would have been 81 years old today had he not died on Sept. 15, 1980. Astute readers already know I’m a huge devotee of Evans’ as his work is often featured in the Clips section of

I’ve been aware of Evans since I made a poor effort of playing piano for the Morristown-Beard jazz ensemble, but I never really focused on his terrific oeuvre until I lived in Lake Placid. There, over the course of several dinner parties at the home of contributor Steve Reynolds, I rediscovered Evans.

William John Evans was born Aug. 16, 1929 in Plainfield, N.J. He attended Southern Louisiana University on a music scholarship, was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1950. Active in New York after his service, he back Miles Davis for part of 1958. Shortly thereafter, he recorded “Everybody Digs Bill Evans, but returned to Davis to record “Kind of Blue,” for which he apparently penned “Blue in Green.”

Evans started his own trio in 1959 and the rest, as the saying goes, is history. Among his many collaborators were Monica Zetterlund and Stan Getz. Evans was a master. His life was cut short by more than 20 years of heroin and then cocaine abuse.

Here’s a little selection of some of my favorite Evans tracks:

COCKTAILS | This Bastard hardly suffers

The Suffering Bastard, a new fascination.

First concocted as a hangover cure at the old Shepheard’s Hotel in Cairo during World War II by Joe Scialom, the Suffering Bastard is a classic cocktail I stumbled across in the realm of Robert Hess earlier this week.

The eyeopener, originally dubbed the Suffering Bar Steward by its progenitor, calls for either brandy or bourbon, lime juice, Angostura and ginger ale. Scialom (pronounced Shalom) explained the drink’s origins to the Winnipeg Free Press in 1972:

“During the bleak war days, Shepheard’s ran short of cognac, gin and most imported liquors. “We had to make do with stuff that wasn’t so smooth,” he said, “and the British officers began to complain that they were getting bad hangovers”.

“I decided to seek a cure, and I finally dreamed up a drink that I named The Suffering Bar Steward. It consisted of gin we borrowed from the South African post exchange, brandy from Cyprus and bitters made by a chemist across the street from the hotel. To this we added lime juice made in Cairo and a local ginger ale provided by a Greek merchant of dubious character.

“The result was a drink with an unexpectedly pleasant taste and a delayed action effect.”

Scialom is something of a cocktail legend: his name pops up all over the Times’ archive. In 1957, when the new Shepheard Hotel opened (the original was torched during the fire riots of 1952), it was lamented that Scialom, who had decamped to Caribbean parts, would not be tending the plank. In 1971, a letter to the editor clarified that Scialom had invented the bastard and that he was working as the head of beverage service at The Four Seasons. In 1980, a lengthy piece on the origins of the Bloody Mary has him retired from Windows on the World and living in Fort Lauderdale.

But the drink. It’s a tasty one that gets billed as having tiki heritage, as Hess suggests in his presentation. Hess calls for bourbon, not the brandy I’ve found recommended elsewhere. The lime juice is a big player here and would probably temper the brandy in much the same way it does the bourbon. I can’t trace the gin, but it’s in there somewhere.

• 3/4 ounces of bourbon or brandy
• 1 ounce gin
• 1 ounce lime juice
• Dashes of Angostura bitters
• Ginger ale or beer

Combine the gin, bourbon (or brandy) and lime juice in a highball glass. Add ice and top with ginger ale. Stir and garnish with an orange slice (or other citrus — I used a lime) and a cherry. A mint sprig wouldn’t hurt either. Enjoy.

MAPS | A cartographic artifact of Lake Placid in 1980

SchweitzMapA detail of the famous map of Lake Placid drawn by Pittsford, N.Y. artist Duane A. Schweitz in 1980.

There are more coveted Lake Placid relics: The poster created for the 1980 Games that shows mascot Roni Racoon clinging to the Olympic Rings, an image that had to be altered after a dustup with the IOC; tickets to the Miracle on Ice; and even original china from the Lake Placid Club.

Still, the elaborate pen-and-ink map created by Pittsford, N.Y. artist Duane A. Schweitz is a rare and valuable find. Schweitz’s map, which he billed as a cartographic artifact, shows every major structure that was standing in Lake Placid in 1979 and 1980. Schweitz gives us a view of each house, hotel, church, school and commercial building from the most modest houses of Averyville Road to the grand, hipped-roof wonders of Signal Hill.

I splurged and bought myself a copy to honor my recent 30th birthday. Its frame was shattered in shipping and I’ve just agreed to spend a little more to right that wrong. It’ll be well-worth the expense, but I already miss having the piece in the house. We had it propped up on the kitchen table the last few weeks and after checking the day’s papers every morning, I’d look at the map. It’s remarkable how little my adopted hometown has changed since 1980. Good friends’ houses all appear. The home I rented while living up there, a little raised ranch that overlooked Mill Pond, is present. Most of the Main Street corridor is accounted for. Some icons, of course, are gone: the Lake Placid Club, the Brewster Building parts of the harbor complex and a few others.

Schweitz, for his part, is still practicing his craft in Pittsford, focusing on the seasonal beauty of that village.

Here’s a gallery of images from his Lake Placid map:

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