Friday Flashback #192

I have a tough time remembering what I did yesterday.

Fred Cantor knows where he was exactly 50 years ago today: Friday, May 8, 1970.

The alert “06880” reader/amateur historian/attorney/documentary producer was with several Staples High School classmates, watching his beloved New York Knicks win their 1st NBA title.

The other day, he emailed several detailed paragraphs about that night. They’re not germane here — though in this sports-less world, ESPN should interview him ASAP.

The reason Fred contacted me is because 3 years later — when the Knicks won their 2nd (and only other) crown — David Levine created a famous 4-page poster for New York magazine.

Fred feels a particular connection to that piece, because that summer he worked at the Longshore tennis courts. There he met Levine — a summer resident here from 1956 to 1977.

In 2011, the Westport Library featured an exhibit of the famed illustrator’s work. That was one of many. He had shows across the US and Europe. Levine’s caricatures were featured in Time, Newsweek, Esquire, Playboy, The New Yorker, New York Magazine, The Nation and for over 40 years, The New York Review of Books.

One of David Levine’s most noted caricatures was of President Lyndon Johnson, in 1966. He had revealed a gall bladder operation scar to the public (photo). The artist envisioned it as a map of Vietnam — and added a Pinocchio nose.

Levine’s son Matthew now lives here. He’s an artist too. His works have been featured often on “06880,” and he manages his father’s art estate. David Levine died in 2009.

In 1988, David Levine drew New York real estate developer Donald Trump wearing a suit — and diapers. In 2015, as Trump was beginning his run for the presidency, it sold at auction for $1,500.

As for that Knicks poster that Cantor remembers so well?

He’s not the only one. It hangs today in the Museum of the City of New York, part of an exhibition on basketball.

Known mostly for his caricatures, David Levine also painted watercolors. This is “Compo Beach, Low Tide.”

8 responses to “Friday Flashback #192

  1. Talented….

  2. Caryl Beatus


  3. Don’t forget that during that same era Jack Frost of Marion Road also redesigned the Republican Elephant with the 3 stars and the look was contemporary for those times. It remains the icon for the Republican Party today. .

  4. K.F.Spearen

    Wow .. Very Talented .. I just love the one of the Orange Hared One , wearing his Diapers … Sure seems Quite Fitting .. lol

  5. David Squires

    Love it all! Another Great Artist with an 06880 connection.
    As for the Knicks, i’ve been saying; “Maybe Next Year” for too many years!
    And…. The Nut don’t fall far from The Tree. Matthew Levine IS a Very Talented Artist (as mentioned), and his wife Patricia is an amazing Photog (as seen many times in this blog)! Keep up the Groovy Works Y’all!

  6. David Grant

    I remember David Levine well. During the 60’s I worked at the Doubleday tennis courts. Doc Marshall was the pro there. I’d get the clay courts ready for play, take reservations, sell balls, drinks and racquets which I’d string and fill in as a forth when asked. David Levine often played at Doubleday and one day he asked me to hit with him. He told me if I could beat him, which I did, I could come to his studio in Brooklyn and pick out one of his prints which I did and still treasure.

  7. Being a big Knick fan (unfortunately I still am), I was pleased to hear the story behind the artist who created the iconic Knick poster and the Westport connection.

    Like Fred Cantor, I have a vivid memory of what I was doing 50 years ago tonight and it was NOT watching my Knicks win their first NBA championship. The game was blacked out in NYC, only available on TV in a handful of bars that had access to the nascent cable television.

    What I WAS doing was attending a post-rehearsal dinner that my dear soon-to-be mother-in-law was throwing at her home in Brooklyn a week ahead of my wedding to her lovely daughter, Cathe. I was limited in following the game to sporadic and discrete visits to the kitchen where the radio was and I could listen to Marv Albert’s vivid play-by-play.

    While I could be faulted for not considering the NBA schedule when planning our wedding, all is well that ends well. The Knicks won and more importantly a week later I married my sweetheart.

  8. Wendy Newton

    First event I remember when starting at the World Affairs Center in 1970 was a high school poster contest with an ecology/Earth Day theme. Contestants hung and judges judged from clotheslines in then-Sherwood Square.
    Chris Browne won the contest, and the prize was a David Levine characature. Can’t remember the subject. Everybody wanted to win it!