This week New York has bid farewell to two icons. Along with the rest of America, and probably the world, the city has seen the last Oprah Winfrey show. On Wednesday, the last of her daytime chatshows, one of the most watched tv programmes in America, was broadcast. There have been round 4,560 episodes of the programme, with memorable moments like Tom Cruise jumping up and down on her sofa declaring his love for Katie Holmes, and actress Ellen Degeneres coming out.

Back home, Oprah Winfrey’s show was one of those that was broadcast on those strange ‘other’ channels you have in your cable package, or on Channel 4! Never having been a fan of chatshows, or daytime tv, I can’t say I’ve ever watched a whole episode, but there’s no denying the persona she created.

Now that chapter in her life is over, there’s a lot of discussion about what’s she’s achieved. And of course as an African-American woman, a lot of those discussions revolve around whether she advanced the role of women - and black people in America, or whether she reduced both to stereotypes and soap opera. On the Access Hollywood website the headline is “Oprah Tells Fans to Channel Sadness into Hopeful Energy” http://www.accesshollywood.com/oprah-tells-fans-to-channel-sadness-into-hopeful-energy-reveals-her-tasty-post-show-indulgences_article_48601  Whereas the New York Times is a little more intellectual in its analysis of her ‘cult’http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/28/us/28beliefs.html

Aside from Oprah, there was also a goodbye for a little piece of Upper East Side history. The Italian restaurant and bar Elaine’s, on 2nd Avenue between 88th and 89th Street, just by the busstop to work, in ‘my’ neighbourhood of Yorkville, closed its doors this week. You probably haven’t heard of it, I hadn’t, but if you take a look at the opening shots of Woody Allen’s ‘Manhattan, you will see its woodpanelled walls. However, that was by no means its only claim to fame. Aparently Elaine, the motherly woman who ran it, who died last year, was confidente and protector to many a New York big name, including Woody Allen himself, who (it’s claimed) was introduced to Mia Farrow there http://www.vanityfair.com/online/daily/2011/05/ahead-of-last-call-at-elaines-celebrity-patrons-remember-the-beloved-nyc-saloon.html Michael Caine, Norman Mailer, Andy Warhol and many others.

According to the guidebook, (and the Queen of Manhattan), the food wasn’t actually all that great, and was definitely over-priced. And if you look in the comments at the end of that Vanity Fair piece you will see a cutting analysis of Elaine’s importance. But I had a notion to go there and see this piece of New York history on my doorstep. But I wasn’t quick enough!

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110526/ap_en_ot/us_last_call_at_elaine_s

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