in the early 1970's my grandmother would fly south every winter to spend a month in the new Borscht Belt, Miami Beach. there were a number of kosher hotels up and down Collins Avenue, catering mostly to Jewish senior citizens. meals included, social activities, dancing lessons -- a scenario right out of Dirty Dancin', but without Patrick Swayze.
Christmas vacation, 1972. I was 12 (almost 13) and my sister was 11. we went to Miami with our grandma, spent two weeks on the beach, it was the first time I was away from home on a vacation without my parents. it was the first time I flew anywhere on an airplane -- and in those days, people feared being hijacked to Cuba, so I nervously practiced my few words of Spanish (I had been studying the language for a whopping 3 months) as we sat in the airport.
grandma let us wander around on our own all day, returning to the hotel for meals and evening activities. we spent most of our time playing on the beach. I remember listening to the radio -- the Miami Dolphins were having a good year, and there was some novelty song about them on the air."Miami Dolphins, Miami Dolphins, Miami Dolphins number one..."
we went shopping for souvenirs -- all kinds of chatchkas. ashtrays shaped like alligators. change purses with the image of oranges imprinted on them. snow globes with dolphins inside. dolls dressed in straw skirts, with straw hats filled with plastic oranges.
New Year's Eve I wore a floor-length gown, in my favorite lavendar. I wore that dress for my bat mitzvah a few months later. (years later, when I picked out dresses for my bridesmaids .... guess what they looked like?)
Sailor Mickey sits on one marquis on the 34th Street side of the store )click on photos to enlarge):
on the other marquis is a huge Christmas tree:
the 34th street windows always salute "Miracle on 34th Street", the original movie from the 1940's:
the Herald Square windows change every year. This year's theme is "letters to Santa". you can actually enter info into a computer right there on Herald Square as a "letter to santa". for each letter Macy's recieves they will make a donation to Make-A-Wish".
I was never really into Jimmy Buffett's music. I mean, I liked "Margaritaville", but it never made me want to go out and buy his albums or see his concerts.
Then, when Jen's cheer team competed at Universal Studios in Orlando, we had a team dinner in the Margaritaville Restaurant, and of course Jimmy's music played in the background. It was fun.
But it wasn't until the following year that I started downloading Buffett into my iTunes. I have a friend, Mitch, who is a Parrothead, and I was putting a "Secret Santa" gift together for him.
Since it was in my iTunes library anyhow, I started listening to the music.
And I liked it.
And now, with the cruise coming up, I am listening to all sorts of "tropical" stuff.
So when Newsday had a contest to give away tickets to Buffett's concert at Madison Square Garden,I decided to enter.
So last Friday I got an email from the newspaper, advising me that I had won two tickets to the concert!!!!
I was soooooo excited.
Last night was the last performance of his "Summerzcool" tour.
The evening started when we picked up the tickets at the box office. (click to enlarge if you can't read the ticket)
Yes, they gave us FLOOR SEATS!!!!
We left the Garden to grab a bite to eat. When we came back, two men were working the crowd -- they were wearing tropical garg and walking around on stilts, making balloon hats for everyone:
We bought Land shark concert t-shirts, of course.
and there was a guy from Radio Margaritaville interviewing people randomly -- and he talked to me! I don't know if the interview actually aired, but it was fun!
inside the auditorium was like a beach party. many of the fans dressed as if they were actually at a beach party, in Hawaiian shirts, even a few hula skirts. the stilt walkers continued to work the crowd, using mini beach balls in a basketball game, while larger beach balls were being batted around the room. people bring things-- like stuffed parrots, inflatable toys. I especially liked the pirate:
the stage was set:
There was no opening act, Jimmy and the Coral Reefer Band were the only ones to perform.
that picture was hard to get -- as soon as the music began I realized "floor seats" was a misnomer, they really should be called "floor place-to-put-your-coat-and-bag-while-you-dance-and-scream-for-almost-three-hours", and it wasn't until he sang a slow song and everyone sat down for a few minutes that I was actually able to get a picture with my phone. (Drew has better pictures from his camera, he said he'd email them to me.)
Here's the set list from last night:
1. Lage Nom Ai
2. Stars on the Water
4. It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere (w/Mac)
5. Boat Drinks
6. Conky Tonkin’ (w/Nadirah)
7. Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes
9. Cheeseburger in Paradise
10. Come Monday (The Beach Band)
11. Son of a Son of a Sailor
12. Brown Eyed Girl
13. One Particular Harbour
14. A Lot to Drink About (Acoustic)
15. My Head Hurts, My Feet Stink and I Don’t Love Jesus (Ukulele version)
16. Last Mango in Paris
17. Nobody From Nowhere
18. Jamaica Mistaica
19. Let Me Love Again (Ilo Ferreira)
20. Gypsies in the Palace
21. Surfin’ in a Hurricane
22. Southern Cross
23. A Pirate Looks at Forty
26. Last Man Standing
27. We are the People our Parents Warned us About
28. Defying Gravity (Solo)
the concert was absolutely AMAZING.
I can't wait for him to announce his toru dates for 2010, I would love to see him at Jones Beach next summer!!!
And as we approach the holiday season, my mind is NOT on weight loss. I will be happy if I don't see a gain.
but I am doing a lot of walking up stairs. even tackled the 6 flights from the tracks to the street in the Exchange Place PATH station (though that left me quite winded). I keep thinking "Mayan pyramids" as I climb, since I will be climbing Altun Ha in February.
as for the show...
not a very riveting episode, I kept getting distracted by other things at home....
it starts with them finding out they're each about to give a speech to an audience. but first, a makeover.
Rebecca looks good in her little black dress. Loved Danny's blue vest. Allen in a suit....wow! Amanda is amazing. Rudy is remarkable.
and the family reactions..priceless.
then back to the ranch for a challenge.they have to pull themselves from one side of the canyon to the other. the prize is a two week trip to a Biggest Loser resort in Utah. Rudy wins.
workout time. Jillian works on Rudy -- a breakthrough.
6 of them, two spots below the yellow line, who will be in the final 5?
Danny is up first. 12 pounds -- double digits 6 weeks in a row. he's down 126 pounds in 10 weeks.
Next is Rudy. He's down 16 pounds. he's lost 134 altogether, a Biggest Loser record.
Allen's turn. he lost 5 pounds, a disappointment. and Rudy is safe.
it's Rebecca's turn, she wants to get under 200 pounds. she needs more than 7 to be safe. she lost 3.
and Danny is safe.
time for Liz to get on the scale. she needs to lose 4 pounds. she losses 3.
Rebecca falls below the yellow line.
and it's Amanda's turn. she needs 2 pounds, it will take her out of the 200's and keep her safe this week.
she loses 9 pounds!!!!! her biggest loss on the show in 10 weeks.
so Liz and Rebecca are below the yellow line.
and the politicking begins.
and then it's time for the vote.
in the case of a tie Rebecca will go home, since she lost less than Liz.
Amanda votes for Liz. Danny votes for Rebecca. Rudy votes for Rebecca. that's enough to send her home. she's so upset with Rudy because of his remarks about his inability to trust her when she thought he was one of her best friends.
I travel the Long Island Railroad, the NYC subway system, and the PATH trains that connect NYC with New Jersey. It's truly a "delight".
1. LIRR riders are SLOBS. Ever get on a train and have to move someone else's trash in order to sit down? Ewwwwww....
2. The rats in the NYC subway system laugh at the rat poison signs. I don't mind seeing rodents on the tracks every once in awhile, but when the crawl up onto the platform....eek!
3. People are just plain rude. They'll knock you over in order to get to an empty seat.
4. Any time there are two drops of rain, expect major delays on the railroad.
5. Don't you just love it when the conductor using the public address system sounds like an adult in a Peanuts cartoon?
6. People are just plain rude. I know you'd like to hang onto the same pole that I'm holding onto, and I know I'm "vertically challenged"....but please...my shoulder is not your personal armrest.
7. If a staircase is marked "exit only", it means you can't enter the station here!
8. Every time they raise the fare they also cut back on service.
9. If I can hear the music leaking out of your ear buds, your iPod is just too loud! (I bet you'll be deaf by the time you're my age!)
10. People are just plain rude. Please do not sit on the train and talk into your cell phone for the entire ride -- pick yourself up and take your phone to the vestibule.
11. I know you like to walk up or down an escalator, even though I don't. I promise to stand to the right and let you pass, but you have to promise not to hit me with your tote bag or briefcase.
12. When the train pulls into the station, please let the passengers off before you try to get on, it works better that way.
13. If you're young and healthy, please give up your seat to a pregnant woman, someone with a disability or the elderly -- don't hide behind your newspaper and pretend that you don't see.
14. I paid a fare to ride the train, your bag did not....if you don't move your bag so I can sit down, I will be glad to move it for you.
15. Adults should not have to be TOLD to keep their feet off the seat.
16. There is a certain pungency to the restrooms on the LIRR...
17. ....but at least they exist on LIRR trains and in LIRR stations. Try finding a restroom in the NYC subway. Then try finding one you would actually use.
18. I have survived one LIRR strike and one NYC subway strike. Please G-d, never again.
19. I don't care whether you are selling soap or salvation, a crowded subway car is not the place for it -- please do not harangue me on my ride to work.
20. If I wanted to smell like a beer, I'd go to a bar....
21. Don't you just love when the escalator is broken and you have to walk up or down, but that annoying automated voice keeps telling you to "hold the hand rail and exit promptly" and it WON"T SHUT UP!!!
22. I know you'd like to document your entire NYC vacation, but taking flash pictures in a moving subway car is not a good idea.
23. There is a reason for the yellow safety line along the edge of the plat form. Please don't try to squeeze between me and the platform edge, especially when a train is pulling into the station.
24. When the conductor says "please don't hold the doors, or I will discharge this train..." he means it.
I loved the movie with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye. And live theater is my passion.
so when Drew said "let's see 'White Christmas' on Broadway," you know I was so there.
So we saw the matinee today.
We took the train into the city. funny thing happened -- there were four ladies sitting on the train, just across the aisle from us, talking about going to a show. those same four ladies saw "White Christmas" -- and sat nexr to us in the theater.
(as always, click to enlarge the photos)
They've kept the basic story but changed a few details, added a few songs and dropped others, but for the most part it's exactly what you'd expect.
I love the Marquis Theater -- a new theather, but one that loves to salute Broadway history.
After the show I made Drew crazy as I tried to capture a phot of One Times Square -- you know that the New Year's eve ball sits on top of that building 365 days a year now? couldn't get a good shot, I've got a cheap camera.
Dinner was at Ellen's Stardust Diner. Ellen waas a "Miss Subways" back in the 50's, and that's the theme of the place -- the exterior looks like a 1950's subway car. Inside, the singing waitstaff dres 50's -- the guys in bowling shirts, the girls in poodle skirts.
Another wierd occurrence -- the people at the next table at Ellen's wound up sitting behind us on the train going home.
got some weird shots of the Empire State Building too:
Also saw the window's at Macy's --but I will save those photos for another day.
The atmophere -- very modern and sophisticated, but dim lighting make sit very cozy. The wine collection is actually part of the decor, the racks positioned in glass walls so the bottled can be seen. You don't see many children in a place like this.
the place is called "the Melting Pot" because its specialty is fondue, Each table comes equipped with a built-in cooktop to keep the fondue warm.
Rather than order wine, we chose cocktails. Mine was a creme-based concoction served in a martini glass, they call it a chocoate fontini -- Godiva liquer, Bailey's Irish Creme, Kalhua and milk chocolate -- a fondue in a glass . One drink and I was pleasantly buzzed. Drew's been into snagria lately, and this one was light and fruity without being too sweet.
first course was a cheese fondue -- we chose traditional Swiss, cheese mixed with garlic, sherry and seasoned with a little nutmeg, which is served with bits of bread, granny smith apples and raw veggies.
second course was salad. mine was caesar salad -- romaine lettuce, shaved parmesian, croutons and pine nuts in a caesar dressing. Drew chose the house salad with ranch dressing -- his salad included a variety of vegetables and even some hard-cooked egg.
entree -- you choose a coooking style, then simmer your raw food in the pot. we chose coq au vin style, which included red wine, mushrooms, herbs and garlic. our entree included filet mignon, shrimp, lemon chicken and spinach ravioli. this was served with a bowl of raw veggies -- mushrooms, potatoes, broccili.
Dessert was white chocloate fondue served with pound cake, cheese cake, strawberries, bananas, rice crispy treats, brownies, marshmallows...
Honestly, you could probably have a satisfying experience with just a cheese fondue and a chocloate fondue. we ate a ton of very good, but very rich, food.
we will most definitely go back for another visit. in fact, we're bringing friends there next month.
Becca is a high school senior and is currently emmeshed in the college application process.
the process began in earnest last year, when she was a junior -- PSAT, SAT, college visits, writing essays.
in some ways it's easier than it was when I was a student, you can apply to schools on line, order your test scores on line, check the status of your application at the school's website...
but on the other hand, kids tend to apply to many more schools these days than my classmates and I would have....if all you have to do is cut and paste and click through a few web pages, applying is easier...
She applied "early decision" to one school -- I won't name it at this time -- which means that they will let her know by 12/15 if she's been accepted. but it also means she made a commitment to withdraw all her other applications if this school offers her admission.
she's so enamored of this school...I had to push her to apply to other schools "just in case"
she's applied to 5 other schools so far, and has 2-3 more she's interested in.
all of which will be moot if she gets into her first choice.
In the next few weeks Drew and I will venture into Manhattan to attend the theater....
We've got tickets for White Christmas, a stage adaptation of the Bing Crosby/Danny Kaey movie masterpiece. We've got tickets to see John Stamos in the revivial of Bye Bye Birdie. and we've got tickets for the revival of Finian's Rainbow.
wehn the house lights go down, the curtain rises and the music starts, i am in 7th heaven.
You've heard the song...but did you know it was based on a true story?
The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they called 'Gitche Gumee'
The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead
When the skies of November turn gloomy
With a load of iron ore twenty-six thousand tons more
Than the Edmund Fitzgerald weighed empty.
That good ship and true was a bone to be chewed
When the gales of November came early.
The ship was the pride of the American side
Coming back from some mill in Wisconsin
As the big freighters go, it was bigger than most
With a crew and good captain well seasoned
Concluding some terms with a couple of steel firms
When they left fully loaded for Cleveland
And later that night when the ship's bell rang
Could it be the north wind they'd been feelin'?
The wind in the wires made a tattle-tale sound
And a wave broke over the railing
And every man knew, as the captain did too,
T'was the witch of November come stealin'.
The dawn came late and the breakfast had to wait
When the Gales of November came slashin'.
When afternoon came it was freezin' rain
In the face of a hurricane west wind.
When suppertime came, the old cook came on deck sayin'.
Fellas, it's too rough to feed ya.
At Seven P.M. a main hatchway caved in, he said
Fellas, it's been good t'know ya
The captain wired in he had water comin' in
And the good ship and crew was in peril.
And later that night when his lights went outta sight
Came the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.
Does any one know where the love of God goes
When the waves turn the minutes to hours?
The searches all say they'd have made Whitefish Bay
If they'd put fifteen more miles behind her.
They might have split up or they might have capsized;
May have broke deep and took water.
And all that remains is the faces and the names
Of the wives and the sons and the daughters.
Lake Huron rolls, Superior sings
In the rooms of her ice-water mansion.
Old Michigan steams like a young man's dreams;
The islands and bays are for sportsmen.
And farther below Lake Ontario
Takes in what Lake Erie can send her,
And the iron boats go as the mariners all know
With the Gales of November remembered.
In a musty old hall in Detroit they prayed,
In the Maritime Sailors' Cathedral.
The church bell chimed till it rang twenty-nine times
For each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald.
The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they call 'Gitche Gumee'.
Superior, they said, never gives up her dead
When the gales of November come early!
On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month 1918 World War I came to an end -- and since that day we have honored our veterans every November 11.
My father is a member of the Greatest Generation, a veteran of World War II. He served in the Army (which surprised my grandparents, because they thought he couldn't be drafted because of a heart murmer he'd had as a child), he did his basic training in Georgia and served in Italy. Came home and was given many opportunies through the GI bill, including the cahance to go to college and the opportunity to buy a home.
In honor of my father's service, here are a few photos of the WW II Memorial in Washington, DC: