life in and around NYC is insane

Thursday, October 31, 2013


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Thriller

Halloween.  Scary fun.  Crazy, scary fun.

Michael Jackson in the early 80's, at the height of his talent.  The golden age of MTV and music videos.

John Landis.  Vincent Price.

The best 13 minutes of Halloween fun....





Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Sandy, a year later

It was a devastating storm, the worst storm I had ever seen on Long Island.

No electricity for days, gas shortages/lines, no public transportation...

"Refugees" in my office because their work locations were inaccessible.

A second storm, a nor'easter, hitting us before we even had a chance to catch our breath.

for most of us, life eventually returned to normal.

Not for all of us.

Remember J?  She and her sons and their pets took refuge with us in the immediate aftermath of the storm.

Sandy isn't over for her.  And won't be, for a long time.

Her house sits near a canal on the south shore.  She had five feet of water on the first floor.  House was totally uninhabitable.

She stayed with us for about a week, then moved in with a friend for several months.  She thought it would only take a few weeks or perhaps a couple of months to get the repairs done.

In the spring she moved back into her house.  Her uninhabitable house.  they've been living on the second floor of the house, they have electricity and running water but no heat, and they're cooking in the crockpot and microwave because they have no kitchen.

Just the other day she found yet another treasured possession, a photo of her grandmother, covered in mold -- it was still damp when it was wrapped up and placed in storage.

They'll be moving to a temporary home in the next week or so, they can't spend the winter in the house with no heat.

She's still dealing with FEMA and her insurance company and the bank that holds her mortgage.  Then, when the red tape finally disappears,  she has to find a reputable contractor -- the last one she hired was incompetent.

And just the other day her "lovely" neighbors  started all sorts of nasty rumors about why her house isn't fixed yet.


I wish I could say J was unique, but there are so many other people still dealing with this disaster.

Sigh.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The evolution of my favorite gray pants

Alas, poor pants. . .
I bought an outfit several years ago (I'm almost embarassed to say just how long ago. . . )   Soft gray jersey pants, matching mock turtlebeck, and a gray, red and white argyle vest.  Great outfit for the office .
And so comfy and cozy.
I don't know what happened to the top and the vest, but the pants . . . they became a bit shabby, so they became "weekend" pants, sort of like sweatpants, paired with a tee or a  sweatshirt.  As I said, soft and cozy.
Thought I'd wear them forever.  Until this weekend.
The pants have a hole.  The kind of hole you can't really fix.
I will hold onto them awhile longer, though.  As pajama pants.
Sigh.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Songbird Salutes the 70's

Operation Sail 1976.
The Bicentennial was a really big deal.  All sorts of specials on tv.  All sorts of Bicentennial merchandise -- we had a set of placemats with a Bicentennial theme.  Displays of patriotism were celebrated all over this country.
And it culminated in a super-special 4th of July celebration.  Operation Sail.  16 tall ships in New York Harbor.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Driveway issues

These days we play "move the car" on a regular basis.
We have a large, U- shaped driveway.  More than enough space for all the cars.
My mom has two cars, a Camry that my sister A  drives, and an older Camry that Becca drives.  I've got my Corolla and Jen has her Camry Solara. And my sister H drives a Honda -- she has to be different.
But since we park single file . . . Since I leave for work before Jen does, I have to park closer to the street and let her park closer to the house. 
If we don't park in the right order, someone will inevitable hear "come move your car, you blocked me in", usually at the most inopportune time.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Saving Mr. Banks

I am so excited for this movie.  It doesn't open until December.  But I saw a trailer for it a few weeks ago.  And this week it premiered at the Lindon Film Festival to rave reviews.


I was born at the tail end of a generation that grew up watching Uncle Walt on tv every Sunday night.  Black and white reruns of "The Mickey Mouse Club"  were also part of my tv routine. 



The strongest memory I have of the 1964-1965 World's Fair is riding "It's A Small World".


And the very first movie I every saw in a real, honest-to-goodness movie theater was "Mary Poppins".
Of course we owned the soundtrack album.  Of course I had it committed to memory.  That wonderful score by the Sherman Brothers!


But this was long before VCR's and DVD's were part of our life.  So the movie itself. . .well, you either had to see it in a theater or hope it would show up on tv.  Though I am sure we own a copy of it now.

(And I've even seen the Broadway production . . .sacrilegious though it may be. Drew loves Mary Poppins even more than I do!)


So Tom Hanks is playing Uncle Walt.  Yes, I like that casting. 


And I read that they wrote him as a real person, not as the demi-god some Disney fans think he was.
Should be interesting to see Uncle Walt in action.


And I will be reveling in the recreation of the early 1960's.


So you know where I will be in December.


 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Bubba meinster time

Sometimes I have a hard time reconciling the woman I knew with the child who was the heroine of my grandmother's stories.  But there are reasons...

The young girl in the village, the one who jumped in the lake and swam away, leaving her "frenemy" stranded in the boat, grew up to be a woman who was afraid of deep water.  Seems that she went to Coney Island once and swam in the ocean, and was knocked over by a big wave...


A lot of what I know about my grandmother isn't from her stories.  It's from information my mother and aunts gave me, about things my grandmother rarely talked about.

Despite my grandmother's charming story about eloping to City Hall, I don't know what year my grandparents got married.  I know that when I searched on ancestry.com I found my grandparents in the 1930 Census, living in the Bronx.

I know that they had heartbreak early on.  Whenever we'd go to the cemetery to pay our respects, my grandmother would visit the grave of her eldest child, an unnamed baby boy who died the day he was born.  And I heard that she was terrified when she was expecting my mother.

My mother was about 10 years old, and her sisters were 8 and 3, when my grandfather died.    It was 1943.  He had a stroke one morning and my grandmother had to run to a neighbor's house to call an ambulance, in those days a lot of people didn't have a phone in their home.  My mother tells me that he knew he had high blood pressure, that he discovered his condition when he applied to go to Greenland or Alaska or wherever as a civilian construction worker and he couldn't pass the physical.

My grandmother didn't speak about those years, raising three young girls on her own.  I know she was on welfare for awhile, and that she also worked off the books as a cook occasionally.  I know she went off welfare when my mother graduated from high school --- the social worker told her that my mother could not go to college, that my mother had to go to work to help support the family.  (My mother went to Hunter College and worked part time.)

I think my grandmother's proudest moment was when she became a US citizen.  March 1, 1948 (yes, I have the records).    She had applied before but was turned down, as the INS couldn't find a record of her legally entering the country -- there was a mix up on Ellis Island, and the records had her younger sister entering the country twice.  My mother had to unravel the records so that my grandmother could become naturalized.

My grandmother would tell the story:

The judge asked me, "Who was Abraham Lincoln?"  

And I said, "He was President of the United States."  

The judge said, "And what did he do for the people?"  

I said, "He freed the slaves."

And then she was sworn is as a citizen of this country.

And she never missed an opportunity to exercise her right to vote.  Even when she was old and nearly blind and unable to go to the polling place, she'd make sure she got an absentee ballot, and she'd tell my  aunt "Make sure you put my mark next to the Democrat's name."

Yes, I think my politics are part of my inheritance.

Thanks, Grandma.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Jake's Wayback

We hadn't been to Jake's in 6 months, so it was time for a revisit.
The menu has been tweaked a bit, but the basics are still the same.  Hamburgers are the mainstay, but you can also get a hot dog, a chicken sandwich or even a veggie burger.  There are even salads on the menu. . . Why would you go to a burger joint for a salad?
To each his own.
We each ordered the Double Bacon Jake, two patties, 4 slices of bacon, American cheese and any toppings you desire.  Made to order, of course.  Onion rings were light and crispy and not the least bit greasy.    Huge portions, very tasty.  No wonder this is one of our favorites. 
I won't wait 6 months until my next visit. Jake's Wayback Burgers on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

guilt

So a few weeks ago I posted that I was going to participate in Making Strides Against Breast Cancer.

But I never signed up, and didn't participate in the walk.

No excuse, just my own inertia.

I didn't participate in 2012, I had a commitment for a charitable event at my snyagogue the very same day.

But before that...well, I've done the walk every year since...

Well, since 2006.  When I did the walk out of gratitude for being alive.  To prove that I could do the walk.  To raise money for the American Cancer Society, an organization that helped me through the dark days of 2005...my uterine cancer diagnosis and successful treatment.

So when I saw the photos pooping up on Facebook, on the news websites...

Guilt.

I will try to do better next year.

Monday, October 21, 2013

bucket list

Do you have one?

I really haven't thought about mine.


Except....

A propos of yesterday's rant...

I have gone to many, many concerts over the years.  But I have never seen Billy Joel in concert.  The closest I ever came was when we saw Paul McCartney at Citi Field.  Billy showed up and sang a duet with Paul.  That was because when Billy did his "Last Play at Shea", Paul showed up to sing with him. 

I would have loved to have gone to one of those concerts at Shea, or to those 12 concerts he did at the Garden.  Or any one of the tours he did with Elton John.

Somehow it never happened.

Billy has always been one of my favorite performers.  I've loved him since the first time I heard "Piano Man".

Every Long Islander "of a certain age" has a Billy Joel story -- if you don't know billy, you know someone who knows him.

I have two Billy stories.  I didn't know him when he was growing up here, I'm too young.  But...

My 12th grade English teacher graduated from Hicksville High School.  She was in the same year as Billy.  She told us that no one really knew Billy well, that he was hardly ever in school because he was hanging out in Oyster Bay all the time.

In the late 60's Drew and his older sister used to hang out at a candy store in Hicksville.  Billy used to hang out in the same candy store.  They weren't friends or anything, but Drew and his sister knew who Billy was.

Here's one of my favorite Billy Joel videos.


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Disgusted

Scalping tickets used to be illegal. Now it's big business.


What happened last week... absolutely repulsive. I took a vacation day Tuesday to get some stuff done around the house. I decided to read the morning headlines on my tablet while enjoying my first cup of coffee. And I saw something absolutely wonderful. Billy Joel was planning to do a surprise concert at the Paramount, in Huntington, NY. The concert would be the following night, October 16, and would benefit Long Island Cares.


Long Island Cares was founded by the late Harry Chapin, one of my favorite performers  Its mission is to end hunger on Long Island.  (If you remember Harry and what he was all about, you didn't need to ask what the charity's mission is.)

So what could be better, a charity concert for a cause I care about, right in my proverbial back yard, with one of my favorite performers?  And I've never seen Billy in concert, except for his guest appearance at the Paul McCartney concert in Citi Field.

 Billy chose the Paramount because he and the band have been rehearing there in anticipation of his upcoming European tour.  Yes, Billy still lives and works on Long Island, and we are proud to claim him as one of our own.

Tickets went on sale Tuesday at noon, with a price range of $80-$150, and a limit of 2 tickets per household.  You could get the tickets only by calling Ticketmaster or by using the Ticketmaster website.  The Paramount is a very small venue, seats about 1500, so getting tickets was going to be luck of the draw, but at least everyone had a shot...

Or did they?

The concert sold out within minutes, as expected.

But by mid-afternoon, Stubhub and Ticket Liquidators and all the other brokers on the secondary market had tickets for sale.  Lots of tickets.  Blocks of tickets.  Selling for hundreds and even thousands of dollars.    At one point I saw over 100 tickets available on the Stubhub site, with the lowest ticket price listed as $800.  And you know that the profit on those tickets is going to the broker, not to the charity.

In other words, the real fans never had a shot at tickets, the event has become a party for the rich at the expense of Long Island's poor.

What truly irks me about all of this...Ticketmaster has two mechanisms at its disposal which could have prevented this fiasco.

The first is called "credit card entry".  The patron cannot enter the venue unless he or she produces a photo ID and the credit card which was used to purchase the tickets.

The second is Ticketmaster's ability to resell tickets purchased by a patron.  If, for some reason, you cannot attend the event, you can sell your ticket on the Ticketmaster website.

So why are brokers even needed anymore?

I admit, I have an account at Stubhub, I've sold unwanted tickets as well as shopped for tickets I couldn't get elsewhere.

But after what happened this time around...a noble impulse to entertain the fans, a generous effort on behalf of a charity, has turned into a horrible, disastrous, display of greed.

Yes, I am disgusted.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Ayhan's redux

Ayhan's Shish-Kebab on Urbanspoon


Ayhan Hassan has made it his mission to bring bits and pieces of Cyprus to Long Island.  And I love it!

We usually go to the Westbury location. But occasionally we find ourselves here in Baldwin.  It's a different experience, being here.  Same menu, more or less, but a very different atmosphere.This location is very pretty, very rustic, lots of greenery.   


The tzatsiki is thick and creamy here, served with a soft, eggy bread -- a bit different from what we get in Westbury, but just as yummy.


We had a coupon for the lobster special -- a whole steamed lobster, served with seasoned rice and peas.  Reasonably priced at $14.95 per person, a little bit of heaven on a plate.  The lobster was steamed to perfection, so succulent . . .


Yes, their strength is kebabs, but yes, they do seafood.  Ayhan's is definitely one of my favorites.

Friday, October 18, 2013

songbird salutes the 70's: Carrie

They are releasing the new version of Stephen King's Carrie today.  I'm not sure I will see this film.

This is what I think of when I hear "Carrie":


I saw the film in the 76 cent theater.  (Remember those? The blockbuster movies were all being shown in the brand new multiplexes, and the single-screen neighborhood theaters were showing 3rd or 4th run movies at significantly discounted prices, and the big gimmick was to charge 76 cents in 1976, and raise the price to 77 cents the following year ... those theaters died out when everyone got cable.)

Scary film, with fine performances by Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie, Amy Irving and John Travolta.

Spoiler alert -- if you haven't seen the 1976 movie and don't want the ending spoiled, stop reading now.















I'd read the book, so I thought I knew what to expect.  I was wrong.   That very last scene in the movie, the one where she sees Carrie's hand reaching out of the grave to grab her, isn't it the book.

And my boyfriend was pure  evil.  He had one of his friends, a guy I didn't know, sit in the row behind us...and grab me when Carrie's hand came out...

They had to peel me off the ceiling.
















Thursday, October 17, 2013

How long does it take you to fall asleep at night?

You'd think, with my busy days, that I'd fall asleep the moment my head hits the pillow.

That was true when I was younger...but as I get older...not so much.

My nightly ritual...get into bed, find something decent on TV...use the "sleep" function on the remote so that the TV will eventually turn itself off...and spend about an hour playing with my tablet as I wind down.

And these days, 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep is...not happening.  If I don't get up at least once during the night, it's a miracle.


And even when I don't set my alarm clock, my internal clock gets me up fairly early in the morning.  No such thing as "sleeping in".

Sigh....

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Captain Phillips

Spoiler alert.











Although....When a movie is based on someone's real life experiences, and the person whose story is portrayed makes the rounds of talk shows to promote the movie, you kind of know how the movie is going to end...

The Maersk Alabama was hijacked by Somali pirates in 2009.  The ship's captain, Richard Phillips, was taken hostage when the pirates fled the ship in a lifeboat, and was rescued by the US Navy.

The movie, starring Tom Hanks, is a dramatization of Captain Phillips' story.  It is a tense, neat drama.  It pulls you in and holds your attention to the very end.  It doesn't portray Phillips as a superhero, but rather, as a man who rose to the occasion when confronted with a threat to the safety of his crew. 

The last scenes of the movie -- where he writes the letter to his family, and where, after he is rescued and brought to the medical facility he is visibly in shock and emotional -- show Phillips as a real person reacting to extraordinary circumstances.

Tom Hanks is a fine actor, and he never disappoints. 

Definitely worth seeing.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

quirky wedding

We went to my cousin's wedding Saturday afternoon.

My cousin and his new bride have an quirky sense of humor.  To quote my cousin G, "Halloween isn't a holiday, it's a lifestyle."  So although most of the wedding was standard fare, they did manage to incorporate  Halloween into the festivities.  The recessional music was "This Is Halloween" from Nightmare Before Christmas.  The table with the seating cards for the reception had a Halloween theme, and the wedding cake...yes, it was a Nightmare Before Christmas wedding cake. And they are honeymooning in...you guessed it ... Salem, Massachusetts.






Really, it was a beautiful  wedding, warm and loving.  And it was wonderful to see the cousins from that branch of the family.  We don't get together very often, and if it weren't for Facebook...well, you know...

Monday, October 14, 2013

Space, the final frontier

Yes, I know, a hackneyed phrase from a 1960's cult classic.

(Happens to be one of my favorite shows, but still...)

Scott Carpenter died last week.  That leaves John Glenn as the sole surviving Mercury astronaut.  I'm a bit too young to remember the Mercury days, I became aware of the space program in the Apollo days, but I just wanted to recognize Carpenter as a hero.

Back then, real space travel was a major deal.  The world stopped while there was a NASA manned space mission in progress, so that we could watch the launch, reentry and everything in between on our television sets.  the astronauts were celebrities, everyone knew all their names.

Nowadays space travel has become almost mundane.  You don't know when a mission will be flown or who will be on it, unless you're a fan of NASA and follow it on social media like Twitter or Facebook. 

Pity, really, when there's so much of the universe we haven't seen.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Darlene

Drew spoke to her the other day.  He spent 45 minutes on the phone with her.  And afterwards, when he told me about it, I had to pretend to care.
The sad part is, we used to be friends.
I don't think Darlene and I would have become friends if not for our husbands;  Drew and Tommy were friends since childhood.  But she was smart, witty, outgoing, warm . . .we became close friends.
She and Tommy were never blessed wuth children of their own.  They loved Jen and Becca, though.  It was like having another aunt and uncle for my girls.
And then came the divorce.
Drew and I had a very nasty divorce and inflicted a lot of pain on each other.  Even though we have long since reconciled, there are still things that crop up from time to time that hearken back to the "dark days".    Yet the essential truth of it is that we have forgiven each other and have rediscovered what we both believed to have been lost.
But yet, I cannot forgive Darlene.
In the dark time, when my marriage was falling apart, Darlene and I would have long, serious talks.  She would tell me that getting a divorce was probably best for me and for the children, that I should leave my husband.
But when I made the decision and walked out the door . . .
Somehow I knew Drew would "get custody of the friends" -- as I said, Tommy and Drew were lifelong friends, going back to a time long before Drew and I met or Tommy met Darlene.
But I never expected her to stab me in the back.
That terrible night when it all came crashing down, I took the children and moved into my parents' house.  (It was supposed to be temporary.  19 years is "temporary" I suppose.)  So I had my mother, my father and two of my sisters looking after my children while I was at work.  A safe, secure, family environment.
Drew sued for custody, of course.  I knew he would.    His request was denied, as I expected.
Darlene submitted an affidavit in support of Drew's request, indicating that she would become the children's nanny and look after them while Drew was at work.
She was going to raise my children?????
I just can't forgive and forget.
Tommy died about 10 years ago.  Darlene eventually remarried and moved to North Carolina. 
She told Drew that her life is miserable right now.  Her health is completely shot and ger only source of income is SSI.  Her husband is chronically unemployed and is in danger of going to jail because he hasn't paid child support.  They lost their condo and are now living in a trailer in the middle of nowhere.  The power company turned off service for 10 days when they didn't pay the bill.  She had to borrow money from relatives to get it turned back on, and she's afraid it will happen again but she can't borrow any more from relatives . . .the money she borrowed from Drew will never be repaid . . .
I listened to this tale of woe and felt . . .indifferent.  I mean, it's sad that anyone has to live like that . . .but I felt no sympathy for Darlene, no motivation to offer my help or even my good wishes.
I felt . . .nothing.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Dining Out

How often do you dine out?  What types of restaurants do you like?

If you've been reading this blog for awhile, you will have seen my many restaurant reviews, all linked to Urbanspoon.   Drew and I have dinner together 2-3 times a week.  We tend to eat at diners or mid-priced chains and local restaurants, though we also like fast food restaurants for a quick bite, and we enjoy fine dining on special occasions.  When I'm at work I tend to buy my lunch rather than bring it from home.  And occasionally I have business lunches or dinners.  And I blog about my dining experiences from both ends of the spectrum.

Now my good friend Suzanne also blogs about her dining experiences, and also posts on Urbanspoon.  I know she sometimes eats at chains and fast food places -- she's the one who told us to try Biscuitville in North Carolina.  But she reserves her blogging for interesting local restaurants with exotic menu items.  If you want good food in Central Florida, check out her blog.

It was Urbanspoon that led me to The Art of The Buffet.  The blogger and his wife dine out frequently and always choose buffett restaurants.  They live on Long Island, apparently not too far from Drew, and travel frequently to Virginia and Pennsylvania.  I like his descriptions of the offerings at each restaurant.  I've chosen a few buffetts at his recommendation.

Even my friend Larry, who seldom dines out, seems to be blogging about his wonderful experiences at his favorite food joints.

And then there is Springs . . .I won't give you a link, if you want to see the brand of crazy she's been spouting all over the internet since at least 2005, just google "Springs1 ranch".  (In fact, as you type her name, Google will autofill the word "ranch" as a search term.)  Rather than write about her positive dining experiences, this poor, unfortunate soul is obsessed with her less than wonderful encounters with servers in the various chain restaurants she frequents.  She has no understanding of the hospitality industry or the marketing research relied on by restaurant chains.  She has no grasp of proper service techniques or appropriate dining etiquette, not to mention the concept of delayed gratification.  And yet everyone who disagrees with her is "stupid."  It becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy -- she expects bad service and so she gets it.  It's amusing to read, so long as you don't take her seriously.

I was thinking about Springs the last night, when we grabbed a late dinner at Denny's.    We had a few minor mishaps, the kind of stuff that would have sent Springs running to her keyboard.  But the manager made things right, and the server who rang up our bill at the cash register apologized because "we're understaffed tonight".  You either roll with it or you get all tangled up in your negative reaction.

Bottom line is, I liked my fish and chips.  Fish was very crispy, the fries were incredible.  Hadn't had fish in a long time, and this really hit the spot.  Drew ordered breakfast for dinner -- he built his own slam, and he found the grits to be a bit on the dry side until he added some butter and milk.  It's a nice place for a fash, inexpensive meal.



Denny's on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 11, 2013

relationships

The other day my mother asked me "Are you going to go back to Drew?  I mean, marry him again?"

I gave her a noncommittal response, because I really didn't want to discuss it with her at that moment.

But the relationship Drew and I have had over the years has been...well, truth is stranger than fiction sometimes.  I've known him since I was 19 years old.  We broke up and got back together several times before we got engaged and married.  We had a very bitter, nasty divorce.  And then we reconciled. 

So I'm dating the man I divorced, the man with whom I had two beautiful children. I'm here, at his house, more than I am at my own home.  Sounds like a plot from a soap opera, doesn't it?

I don't know where this relationship is going.  I don't know where it will lead. but I am enjoying what I have, I am enjoying the moment.

And for now, that's enough.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A fiddler on the roof...

So we saw Fiddler the other night.  Not bad for community theater .

Ben told me "I told the cast  that one of my friends who really knows the show was coming, so they had to be good.

And I told Ben "You captured me, pulled me in, made me cry."

The story has universal themes -- the  Fiddler is a metaphor for survival, through tradition and joyfulness, in a life of uncertainty and imbalance, and that's something everyone can relate to.  But the story is told through a Jewish family, through cultural touchstones to which I can relate.

There were things some of the actors did in this production that I saw so clearly, yet probably went over the heads  of many audience members.  Kissing the mezuzah when entering a house.  Tearing one's clothes when going into mourning.

And what was truly scary?  Drew tells me that during the wedding sequence, he wasn't seeing the actors, he was seeing Becca and her boyfriend...

Scary thought, that.  She's only 21, after all, but she and David have been together since...well, they've known each other since kindergarten, but they were never friends...until they "found" each other just before high school graduation.  So it's a possibility down the road...hopefully not too soon, but...

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

You never know who you will meet. . .

. . .on an internet message board.

Yesterday's blog post was inspired, in part, by something that happened last week.

Wednesday morning I was in the 34th St. Station, waiting for the downtown "E" train.  This is a fairly large and busy station, with separate tracks and platforms for local and express trains, and it services the commuters who come into the city via LIRR or NJ Transit.

As I said, I was waiting for a downtown train, when all of a sudden there was a commotion on the uptown "E" platform.  People were running and screaming. 

Part of me wanted to get out of there as fast as I could, but another part of me wanted to stay and find out what caused the commotion.

Then my train came, and I decided discretion is the better part of valor.  I got on the train.

There was no indication that the transit authority suspended service on the line and no media soundbite about an incident on the subway.  So I figured it couldn't have been anything serious.

So I posted about it on one of the message boards I like to visit.

And the next day another board member told me "The screaming freaked me out too.  Be glad you didn't see what happened.  A woman was standing on the tracks just as the uptown train was pulling into the station. Fortunately the train was able to stop in time.  And two men climbed down to get her and bring her up to the platform.  It was horrible.  Be glad you didn't see it."

When she posted this, I realized that  yes, the uptown train had stopped just outside the station.  I'd looked out the window of the downtown train as we were leaving, but I hadn't placed any significance on the location of the uptown train . . .

That is, until I'd met a fellow commuter on an internet message board.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Commuting

Becca attends college in "the city" (when a Long Islander says "the city", it's understood that he or she is referring to NYC).  Over the last four years she has learned to travel on the subways, commuter railroads, buses, and (her favorite) taxis.

Periodically I will be treated to a rant about how the trains are expensive, dirty, noisy and full of rude people.  I think she's looking for sympathy.   Darling daughter, you'll get no sympathy from me.
I am an intrepid commuter.  I have my train schedule memorized.   I know the best place to stand while waiting for a train to enhance the possibility of getting a seat.  My LIRR ticket and Metrocard are constant companions.

I can figure out  at least one alternate route for every train that unexpectedly goes out of service.  No "E" trains to the World Trade Center"?  Take the "2" or the "3" instead.  No train service on the Ronkonkoma branch this morning?  Take the bus to Babylon or cab it to Hicksville.  No service in Penn Station tonight?  Take the subway to Jamaica.  No PATH service to New Jersey?  It's water taxi time.

Transit strikes. . .there was an LIRR strike back in the 80's, I dealt with it by moving in with my grandma for two weeks so I could take the subway to work.  The NYC subway strike a few years ago?  I took the PATH from 33rd St. to my office in Jersey City, and found myself surrounded by commuters traveling from 33rd St. to New Jersey and then to the World Trade Center.

I survived:

--  having to take a bus from Jersey City to Port Authority when there was no PATH service after the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center

-- the major re-routing of all subway lines in lower Manhattan after 9/11

-- walking from Wall Street to Penn Station (about 4 miles) in the summer heat during the 2003 blackout
-- the utter devastation of our transit system after Superstorm Sandy

And there were the smaller moments that brought me such joy:

-- afflicted with horrible morning sickness, I once had to get off the "E" train at an unfamiliar station so that I wouldn't throw up all over the train

-- the fight that broke out on the stairway in the Wall Street station was kind of scary, but what was even worse was my friend Mindy panicking over it -- a few months earlier she'd seen a man get stabbed while waiting for the Light Rail in Jersey City -- and Alan and I had to calm her down

-- the woman who was angry that I got the seat she wanted, who was going to "accidentally on purpose" step on my foot with her stiletto  heel -- until she realized the foot she was about to clobber was inside a plaster cast (and by the way, hobbling through the subways in a cast was no fun at all)

-- I have no problem seeing rodents on the tracks, but when a large rat came up onto the platform of the "A" train . . .

But the worst moment of my commuting life . . . Becca must have been about 4 years old, maybe 5.   My sisters and I had taken Becca and Jen into the city for the day.  We were in the process of boarding the train to go home.  I was holding Becca's hand when she slipped into the gap between  the train and the platform.    If I had not been holding her hand, if I had not been able to grab her, she would have fallen to the tracks below.  I am grateful that all I lost that day was her left shoe.


Funny how Becca was a part of my worst commuting moment.


So, darling child of mine, welcome to my world.  If you plan to continue to live and/or work in the city, you'll just have to deal with our wonderful transit system.


And may it never become a true horror for you.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Songbird Salutes the 70's

He was like nothing I'd ever seen before.  The wild outfits, the oversized glasses, the glitter...like Liberace on steroids.

But the music...ah, the music...

 Here's Elton John on the Muppet Show, singing his classic...



Sunday, October 6, 2013

Gravity

Saw an interesting movie the other night.  George Clooney and Sandra Bullock in Gravity.


The movie is set in space.  Clooney and Bullock are astronauts on a mission when disaster strikes and they have to rescue themselves.    It's an intense story, similar to Castaway.

What I really liked about the movie -- if you see it in IMAX 3D, you really get the feeling you're in space. The visuals are incredible.    There's no soundtrack, the only sounds you hear are the conversations between the actors.    Worth the extra $$$ to see it in this format.

Intense.


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Blast from the past

Jen joined her middle school cheer leading team in 6th grade, and never looked back.  In high school she was on j.v., then varsity, and also the competition squad.  She tried out for the cheer squad in college, and was devastated when she didn't make the team.

But cheer leading is back in her life now.  Last year she was the j.v. coach at her old high school, this year she's the varsity coach.  There's been some major drama about that, which she weathered like a pro (and earned many brownie points from the school administrators in the process).

Back in the day, I went to all the football games, I went to all the competitions.  These days she's the coach, so I don't go to watch...and I miss it.


Here's a blast from the past, my flyer:


 photo cheer.jpg

Friday, October 4, 2013

A Fiddler on the Roof...

If you've been reading this blog for awhile, you know how I feel about Fiddler.  It was the very first show I ever saw on Broadway.  I saw it in 1972, at the tail end of its original run, and again when there was a revival a few years ago.  Saw a touring company at the Tilles Center two years ago.  I own the cast albums from three theatrical productions of the show, as well as a DVD of the movie.

I think one of the reasons I have such an affinity for this musical is because the music is interwoven into my life.  If you grew up Jewish in the 1960's, you heard music from Fiddler at every wedding and bar mitzvah, the major life cycle events.    It was because our grandparents and great grandparents grew up in the shtetl, we felt we had a link to the past in that show.  My grandmother's stories, many of the bubba meinsters I am repeating in this blog, took place in a village that was not so very different from the fictional Anatevka ("Tumble-down, work-a-day Anatevka. Dear little village, little town of mine.")


We've got tickets to see a community theater production of the show tomorrow night.  A friend is in the production, he plays numerous minor roles.  When Ben was at Drew's Labor Day BBQ, he and I found ourselves singing bits of the score and reciting parts of the dialogue, so it was inevitable that Drew and I purchase tickets.

Yes, I am excited.    I've seen this show many times, but I still love it!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Will you dress up for Halloween? What will you be?

I still like to wear costumes, to indulge my imagination and my fantasies and become something, or someone, that I'm not.


My two favorite Halloween costumes...

One year in college we went to a Halloween party at a club.  We all wore and I dressed as a medieval lady, complete with long dress and a veil.  I even had a key ring hanging from a belt around my waist. Tom was an 1930's style gangster,  but without a gun -- he wanted to borrow the fake .45 Kenny had, but after that gun almost got us kicked off campus...

In law school I went to a party dressed as a space alien (some would say as my "true self").  I started with black shirt, black pants, black boots.  I had a short cape, aqua chiffon with gold sequins at the collar and hem.  A headband with a pair on antennae, topped with gold balls.  I wrapped sections of my air with tin foil, like they do in salons when you get highlights.    And I used green eyeshadow all over my face.  Weird, but I loved it.

But I haven't dressed up for Halloween in ages.

The last time I wore a costume for anything was...well, about five-six years ago, for the Jewish holiday of Purim.  Purim, a spring holiday,  is like Mardi Gras, it's about carnivals and dressing up and having fun.  Our synagogue had a party, the theme was "Purim, pirates and pasta", the Rabbi dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow, and I found the perfect pirate costume...

Maybe I'll resurrect the pirate costume for Halloween this year...

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Bubba meinster time

Theatrical talent runs in my family.  My grandmother wanted to be a singer/ actress on the Yiddish stage, but her father objected.  So she worked various mundane jobs.


After they got married, my grandparents owned a small business.  But they lost it in the Great Depression.  My grandfather worked as a roofer for mist of his life.

But my grandmother . . .the family scandal. 


Grandma was a numbers runner.


I'm not sure when or for how long, but yes, she ran numbers.  Collected bets from the bars, barbershops, etc. and brought the money to the bookies. 

And was scared to death to be caught, because she feared her children would be taken away from her.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

What is your favourite thing about autumn?

Ah, October...the real start of autumn.

September is a transitional month, the lingering summer gradually giving way to the cool crispness of autumn.  But by October, there is no more pretense, it is truly fall.

I live in a suburb that likes to pretend it's still a rural farming community.  Right behind my house is a "nature preserve", 18 undeveloped acres of woodlands, landlocked, that separate one neighborhood from another.  In the summer I can hear the neighbors on the other side of the woods but cannot see them; their houses become visible only when winter sets in and the trees are bare. 

In the next few weeks those woods will come alive, the fall foliage will peak around the end of this month.  Brilliant, beautiful colors.  There's a photo of me somewhere, taken in October 1990, just before Jen was born, standing in the back yard, the crisp autumn leaves a perfect backdrop for my ripening body.

Most of the commercial farms that were in the area have closed and moved on, but there's still a family-owned farm selling produce from a stand...I go there for apples, for varieties you can't find in the supermarket.

Halloween decorations are starting to appear.  There's a house I know, about halfway between my house and Drew's, where the owners take Halloween very seriously.  They actually started putting up their elaborate display at the end of September -- the yard is haunted by zombies and vampires and jack o'lanterns.  I remember being a child, going to one of the farmstands and picking pumpkins to decorate for our front porch.  I remember taking my children to those same farmstands so they could pick their pumpkins.

Such a wonderful season...if I ever moved south, to Florida or whatever, I'd never miss winter, but I'd pine for fall...

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