life in and around NYC is insane

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Daydream Believer

It was a big deal, in 1966, to actually have a color TV.  But we did.  A huge TV, in its own cabinet, sitting in the den.

It was such a big deal, with all the network shows starting to switch over to color.  The NBC peacock was new and novel.

It was such a big deal that my best friend and her brother would come to my house to watch Adam West as Batman.

It was the year The Monkees premiered on TV.

And it was the year I fell in love with Davy Jones.

I liked all of them - Mike Nesmith, Peter Tork, Mickey Dolenz.  But my heart belonged to the cute guy with the incredible British accent.

I watched the show, I played the albums on my portable phonograph. I memorized lyrics that I didn't really understand.

Later, when Davy did a guest spot on The Brady Bunch, I was so jealous of Marcia.

As an adult I got to fulfill a childhood fantasy and attend a Monkees concert. Several, actually.  The most recent was last June.

What an entertainer Davy was!  You could see how he thrived on the audience reaction to his music.

A part of me died today.

Rest in peace, Davy.  And thank you for all the joy your music gave me.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

so here we go again

Our Weight Watchers at Work program fell apart months ago. And so did my participation in the program. Lately I have been feeling uncomfortable, weighed down, sluggish. Totally lacking in energy. And totally out of control regarding my food choices. Tonight I signed up for Weight Watchers On Line. Wish me luck.

Monday, February 27, 2012

perspective

It w a typical, sucky Monday morning. Until I arrived at Penn Station. Got off the train, turned right so that I could go to the staircase that leads up from the platform to the main level of the station. And saw cops. Several cops. All telling us to walk to the left, to a different staircase. And on the ground, in front of the stairs, was a man. Lying on the concrtee, face down, with his briefcase beside him. Not moving. And to the left, the ambulance crew, walking towards him. Guess my Monday morning wasn't so bad after all.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Mama Mia!

One of the joys of living near NYC is the opportunity to experience live theater.  Yes, other cities offer a theatrical experience -- Boston has a theater district, and Washington has the Kennedy Center.  And every year at the Tony's they give out awards for regional theater.

But nothing compares to Broadway.

And you know I love live performances.

So for my birthday Drew bought tickets to see Mama Mia.  Can you believe the show's been running on Broadway since 2001 but I had never seen it?

So after work yesterday I met him for dinner and a show.

Times Square was bustling, as usual.  Wednesday is matinee day, so at the dinner hour you have two large groups -- those who are dining after seeing a show, and those who are grabbing a bite to eat before heading to the t.heater.  School is out this week here in NY, so there were lots of locals mingling with the tourists.

Not to mention, the street vendors with food carts and souvenirs . . .the hawkers trying to get you into their show or restaurant . . .performers trying to make a buck by dressing as Mickey Mouse or Elmo and posing for pictures.  Last night I saw a guy with a guitar sit down next to a guy playing drums for an impromptu concert.

I was supposed to meet up with Drew at the restaurant, but we found each other in front of the Winter Garden Theater.  You know, Mama Mia has been playing there for over 10 years, but when I look at the marquee I still half expect to see two yellow-gold eyes staring back at me -- Cats was there for 19 years, you know.

Our original plan was to eat at Ellen's Stardust Diner.  You know I love that place, more for the entertainment than for the food.  And it's on the same block as the theater.  But on Monday Drew saw one of those shows on the Food Network or the Travel Channel, not sure which, and asked me if I'd mind going to a place featured on that show instead.

Good thing we changed our plan.  Ellen's has become so popular that there was a long line to get into the restaurant, probably a good 20-30 minute wait for a table.

So instead we tried a place neither of us had been before, the Stage Deli on 7th and 53rd.  It's a Jewish deli but not a kosher one, so you can get cheese on your corned beef if you so desire.  The triple decker sandwiches are all named after celebrities, such as Mel Brooks or Howard Stern.  It's called "Sid's Caesar Salad" and "Kevin Bacon, lettuce and tomato."  I had pastrami on rye, Drew had tongue.  Each was plated with pickles -- cole slaw, etc. isn't included and we didn't need it.  We each brought home half a sandwich.  We also shared a baby cheesecake -- abd brought some of that home as well.  The portions are huge!

Let's talk movies for a moment.  Usually when I see a movie based on a Broadway musical, I've already seen the stage production and the movie doesn't measure up.  This time I saw the movie first.  Really liked it. 

It still doesn't measure up.  The show is so much better.  They lost a lot of humor and silliness in the movie, not to mention subplots, minor characters and additional music.

Yes, I loved the show.

Afterwards we discussed whether to walk to Penn Station -- we were on 50th and Penn is on 34th -- or whether to just hop onto the subway.  It was a relatively warm night, after all.
So we decided to walk.

We actually didn't have a choice, as it turns out.  When we walked past the subway station we saw that the police and fire department were blocking access.  I think it was a track fire.

We walked past the Marriott Marquis Theater.  They're already advertising Evita even though the show doesn't start previews until next month.  The marquee and posters are up and the music from the cast album comes streaming out of sidewalk speakers.  We have tickets for April.  I can't wait.

The only downer of the night was Penn Station.  A group of happy Knicks fans, having just witnessed a Linn-tastic performance, had celebrated with too much beer, and were just a bit too loud.  As in, shouting.  Inside the train station. At 11:00 at night.

Sigh.

Overall, though, a fantastic night.

Last night in TIMES SQUARE

Street vendor.  Sells photos and souvenirs.  Set up behind his table is this replica of a sculpture.   It depicts the construction workers who built Rockefeller Center during the Depression. You can buy a table top version from him.


Monday, February 20, 2012

Icing on the cake

Sometimes just being yourself and having a good time . . .

Yesterday Drew and I went to the theater to see a touring company of Fiddler on the Roof.  You know it's one of my favorite shows, I have seen it on Broadway twice, I love the movie, have cast albums from the movie and from three different theatrical incarnations of the show.

We saw the show at the Tilles Center, the performing arts building located at CW Post College.  It's the same facility where we saw the Boston Pops concert back in December.

Production values for regional theater and touring companies are not the same as for Broadway, of course.   But given the limits of their budget this company produced an excellent show.

There were great performances by almost all the actors and an 8 piece pit band. Sparse sets to evoke a feeling of time and place.    The costuming of the Fiddler in Chagall-like colors.

Heaven under the house lights.

And the icing on the cake?

I admit it was a bit petty.

You know that my sisters are grown women who act like teenagers, that there's some sort if clique and they are the mean girls who want me isolated from everyone in the clique.

It doesn't work at home and it certainly won't work in public.

My sisters have a friend E.  They've known her since junior high.  Over the years E's family and ours have become close.

My sisters were at the show yesterday, as guests of E and her parents.

My sisters tried to ignore me, but how could I possibly ignore old friends?  I would have spent time chatting with these people if I saw them anywhere else, so why should I ignore these folks because my sisters were with them?

Yet, given all the aggravation those two tried to cause me over the last few days, it was very satisfying to hear my sister A say something along the lines of "Go away, nobody wants to here."  Nice to know that my talking to family friends irritated her that much.

Of course, I didn't overstay my welcome either.  Chatted with the family during intermission but didn't seek them out again after the show.

Besides, Drew and I had dinner reservations.  He took me out for lobster.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Birthday dinner

Last night was spent at an Italian restaurant. Drew, Jen and Becca took me out for my birthday.

Who were those two poised, charming young women who chatted with me without drama? And what did they do with my babies?

Jen is 21 now and in her last semester of college.  She sipped her Zinfandel and conversed about job interviews and grad school applications.  And friends who were getting married and/or having babies.   And one friend who is managing a band and hopes for a record deal. 

Becca, at 19, talked about her summer internship and how she's looking forward to living off campus next year.   And the vacation she wants to take with her boyfriend.

Had to laugh when Becca told me "Mom, you have to book hotel rooms soon for Jen's graduation."  A little role reversal there?  (Rooms were booked months ago.) 

Truly the world does not stand still.  So many changes coming.

Sigh.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

October 25, 1986

It was a Saturday night, and Drew and I and his buddy Marc were in the basement of his parents' house.

Game 6 of the World Series was on, live from Shea Stadium.  We were watching, of course, but the game wasn't going well, so we were also chatting about all sorts of things.

In the bottom of the 9th the Mets tied the game on a Gary Carter sacrifice fly.

Top of the 10th inning, and the Red Sox took a 5-3 lead.

Bottom of the 10th.  Backman and Hernandez were retired, and the Red Sox can practically taste the champagne.  The scoreboard actually congratulated them as world champions.

Congrats that proved to be premature.

Gary Carter hit a single to left and began the greatest rally of all time.

Kevin Mitchell singled to center.

By now the game had our undivided attention.

Ray Knight singled to center and Carter scored.

By now we were on our feet, standing in front of the TV.

Mookie Wilson came up to bat.  Mitchell scored on a wild pitch and tied the game.

You know that feeling when everything is so tense that you just can't breathe?

With a full count, Wilson hit a slow ground ball that rolled between the legs of first baseman Bill Buckner.

Knight scored, and the Mets won the game.

Game 7, two nights later, was almost anticlimatic. But the Curse of the Bambino struck again, and the Mets became world champs.

I will always remember that iconic photo of Jesse Orosco and Carter enbracing on the mound.

My office at the time was in lower Manhattan, right on Broadway.  We had a front seat for the ticker tape parade on the 28th.

Rest in peace, Gary Carter.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

At least he's honest

Generally speaking, the homeless who hang out in Penn Station looking for a handout aren't asking to be fed.  They'll tell you they want money to get something to eat, but if you try to give them a sandwich instead of a dollar, they'll give you a strange look and walk away.

Beer is plentiful at Penn.  Every deli and pizza place and burger joint has a cooler of beer at the front of the store. You know where your money will go if you give it to one of the people asking for a handout.

But the other day . . .well, the guy was sitting on the floor, with a makeshift cardboard sign . . .you'd expect to read his tale of woe, you'd expect to read about how he's homeless and hungry.

Your expectations would not be met.

Or would they?

The sign said "I really need a beer!"

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Pimp

This morning as I was headed into the PATH station I saw a very unusual site. The guy was dressed all in red - bright red pants, bright red shirt, bright red faux fur coat, bright red boa, bright red wide-brimmed hat with a bright red feather tucked into the band.

There was a guy following him, trying to capture the image on his cell phone camera.  Frankly if my phone had been handy I would have tried to take a picture too.

I overheard one of the cops call him "the pimp".  And yes, the outfit does look like what a pimp might have worn in the Blacksploitation films of the 70's.  And the guy wearing it was okd enough to have worn this get-up in the 70's.

A friend tells me that he wears clothes like this every day, usually monochromatic.  Can't wait to see him "pimped out" in green for St. Patrick's Day.

My Valentine

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Movie review -- "The Descendants"

It's Oscar season. That means some of the "best picture" contenders have bee re-released for a limited run.

I could be happy watching George Clooney read a phone book.  But of course, this movie is so much more.

There are two seemingly unrelated story lines.  Clooney plays Matt King, husband and father to 10 year olf and 17 year old daughters. His wife is in a coma and there is lots of family drama.

The second story line involves King's family business affairs.  King and his cousins are descended from Hawaiian royalty.  King is the sole trustee of the family inheritance, which includes a huge parcel of land which the family plans to sell to a developer.

It's a film about relationships, very emotional, very intense.

The film isn't about Hawaii per se, yet the beauty of the islands serves as an interesting backdrop.  At first I thought "this story could be set anywhere".  But no, it could not be just "anywhere".  Hawaii itself is a character in the storyline.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Theft at the bar mitzvah

Last Saturday night Drew and I went to a bar mitzvah.  The young man's mother is Drew's co-worker and friend.  The service was at the synagogue where the family has its membership.  The party was at another synagogue, a 20 minute drive away.

The ceremony was beautiful.  The party, like most Long Island bar and bat mitzvahs, was a bit over the top - black tie invited, cocktail hour with open bar followed by a sit-down dinner.

I'd say there were about 100 kids and 100 adults. The adults had table assignments (We sat with the "work friends") and the kids had a separate lounge area and a more kid-friendly menu.

I didn't know a soul except Drew, and a party with loud music makes conversation difficult.  But I had a great time.  Drew and I got to dance a bit -- the DJ made sure to play music for the older crowd.

I will never forget Drew singing along to "Mac the Knife".  The MC put his mike in front of Drew and let him go . . . I hope the videographer got it on tape, our hosts will get a laugh out of that.

I have to say, though, that this group of "work friends" are party poopers -- they all left at least an hour before the party ended.

Overall a fun party.

Now for the "theft" part.

During the party the DJ, MC and their assistants give out lots of little tchotckes.  You know, glow sticks, sunglasses, mardi gras type beads.  Fun, inexpensive swag.  This DJ brought some goofy wool hats, the kind that are very popular this winter.  Drew kept hoping he'd get a hat.  Sure enough, the MC threw one at him.

He left the hat at our table when we got up to dance.  By then we were the only couple left at our table.  When we came back, the hat was gone.

We figured someone thought the hat had been left behind when the table's occupants went home.

Later, just before we left, we saw an older gentleman with about six of those hats.  We figured that he must have been the one who tok Drew's hat.  Looked like he was collecting swag for his grandchildren.

Drew didn't say anything at the party.

But at work yesterday . . .the hostess said that the guy was a friend of her parents.  He took whatever he could lay his hands on . . .went up to the kids' lounge area and took stuff off their chairs while they were on the dance floor.

And she was very upset, because he took more than just the DJ tchotckes.

One of the features of a Long Island bar/bat mitzvah is the party favor that the kids get -- usually a hat, or a t shirt or some other article of clothing that are imprinted with the date and the phrase "so-and-so's bar (or bat) mitzvah". You're supposed to wear the garment to school the following Monday.  At Saturday's bar mitzvah, the kids all got sweatpants.

Yes. You guessed it.  Mr. Sticky Fingers swiped a few pair of sweatpants.

Songbird Salutes the '70s

"Part-radio and part-fashion accessory, the Toot-A-Loop was wearable technology. Worn around the wrist like a bracelet, or carried like a purse, the Toot-A-Loop was shaped like a tapered doughnut, twisting open to reveal the tuning dial on the inside. The AM-only radio also came with fun stickers so users could customise it."
-- Flashback Fridays
I had one in red. I'd wear it on my wrist. Sort of like a prehistoric iPod. It was my way of taking all my friends at WABC with me. I can still here the jingle -- "77, WABC". Simple and direct. Later the station began to refer to itself as "Musicradio". Radio was personality-driven then. Harry Harrison, the Morning Mayor. Ron Lundy, who thought NYC was the greatest city in the world. Dan Ingram, who every summer reminded you to "roll your bod." (Hey, Kemosabe.)And of course, Bruce Morrow -- Cousin Brucie. Even if you didn't grow up in the NYC area, you know cousin Brucie -- you saw him in the movie Dirty Dancing. And of course there were sports reports from Howard Cosell. WABC was the dominant sound in NYC until 1978, when FM and disco became more popular.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Ticker tape parade

I would be remiss if I didn't mention this NYC phenomenon.

I didn't attend today's parade for the Giants.  But I've been to others -- the 86 Mets, the Vietnam Vets, John Glenn, and a few in the 90's for the Yankees.

The Canyon of Heroes . . . Broadway looks like a canyon as it winds through the skyscrapers.

Embedded in the sidewalk along lower Broadway are plaques memorializing every Pope, president and dignitary honored with a ticker tape parade.

Ticker tape is really a misnomer. The market hasn't used tickers in decades.  These days people throw shredded newspaper, copy paper, even toilet paper.

If you work in the area . . .barricades go up hours before parade time, so you will face detours as you head to your job.

Stake out your parade spot early, one million people take up a lot of space, and you won't get close enough to see much if you arrive late.  Bring earplugs, one million people screaming . . .the noise echoes through the manmade canyon . . .

Parades usually happen around midday.  By 5 PM the sanitation department will have cleaned up every scrap of confetti.  I guess they're heroes, too.

Monday, February 6, 2012

dinner with my daughter

"mom. I'm out of money. I don't even have enough to buy lunch today." "OK, I'll make a deposit...hey, why don't I come over there and we can grab a bite to eat?" Yes, Becca is a poor, struggling college student. Though I suspect the "lunch" comment was a bit of an exaggeration... It's great that she lives away from home, but close enough that I can visit rather easily. We went to the diner, ordered cheeseburgers...chatted about her classes, her friends, her boyfriend, her summer plans. Who is this beautiful young woman sitting across from me, and what did she do with my baby girl?

Back to the grind

The first few days back at work, I hardly noticed my commute.
Since then, I have had train doors close in my face (preventing me from boarding), subway cars so packed I felt like a sardine, broken escalators, a river of spilled coffee racing past my feet, unexplained track changes in Penn Station, a homeless guy trying to con me out of $$$ so he could buy beer, music so loud it leaked out of the listener's earbuds, and a guy who cursed at me in two languages for daring to sit in the empty seat next to him.
Business as usual, I suppose.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

It is a puzzlement

Yes, that is a garden hose sitting on the sidewalk. On the sidewalk by the parking lot at the train station. In the middle of the winter. It's been there for days. I have no idea why it's there or where it came from. Makes no sense at all.

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Susan G. Komen fiasco

I generally don't comment about politics in this blog.  In real life, and on many internet sites -message boards, Facebook - I wear my political heart on my sleeve.  But here?  I focus on other matters.

Today I cannot remain silent.

I must agree with Christina, who wrote an excellent blog post on the subject.

Yes, I was one of those  people . . .posting news articles on Facebook, signing petitions, donating money to Planned Parenthood.

SGK committed two sins.  First, in "defunding" PP.  And second, when they knew they were going to take this step, they didn't take control of the media or even try to put a positive, apolitical spin on their actions.

Of course they had to backpedal.  They "re-branded" their organization to give negative, controversial vibes whenever SGK is mentioned.  They got so far off message that it will be hard for them to recover.

And PP actually benefitted from all of this, monetarily and via publicity.

Not to mention, the poor and indigent population served by PP.

The power of the people cannot be ignored.

The power of social media cannot be underestimated.

I am seeing a glimmer of hope for our future.

Wear Red Day.

I am wearing red today. Are you? here's why you should: Go Red for Women

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Groundhog Day

If he spots his shadow and returns to his hole, it means winter will last six more weeks. If the groundhog does not see his shadow, an early spring is sure to come. So says the legend. Given the mild winter we've had so far...I don't know what to wish for. Drew seems to think February will prove to be extremely cold and snowy. I hope he's wrong. Time will tell.

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