life in and around NYC is insane

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

songbird salutes the 70's: iconic headline

1975.  NYC was in crisis and in need of a bailout by the federal government.  The federal government refused to give financial assitance to the city.  An iconic headline was born.

And you could read all about it for $.15!

Here's the story.

FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD: President's snub inspired, not discouraged, ex-Gov. Hugh Carey

Felix Rohatyn, the financier who helped Hugh Carey save New York from bankruptcy, was at Elaine's with the governor when someone walked in with the first edition of the next day's Daily News.
FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD, the paper said, in what became an iconic headline.
It was Oct. 29, 1975, and President Ford had just nixed a bailout for the city.
"I thought it was the end of us," Rohatyn remembered Sunday. "But he thought it was the beginning of winning. He was right."
Carey said the federal snub meant the state would have to step in - and the unions, the banks and City Hall would have to deal.
"There was so much upheaval - he saw the fact that we had to win, there was just no alternative," Rohatyn said.
He said Carey never wavered in his fight to save the city.
"It inspired everyone. He kept on saying, 'Don't worry about my politics, just worry about our finances, we'll win this one,'" Rohatyn said.
"He didn't really care whether you were a Republican or Democrat, labor union or bank - as long as you were committed to the city and survival," he said.
Rohatyn said today's fractious, stubborn Washington pols should look to Carey's example.
"I think they should heed the lesson that you have to ... reach out to other people," he said.
"You can't always say, 'We are going to do it the way (I) want and nothing else.' You just can't live that way."

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Billy Joel

So last night we saw Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden.

He's doing a residency at the Garden, one concert each month from now until whenever.

We sat behind the stage, in nosebleed territory. It was the best I could do from Ticketmaster. In hindsight we should have bought better seats from Stub Hub. The folks in our section . . .if you're going to drink that much beer, maybe you should pick an aisle seat so you don't keep stepping over other people. If you leave your beer on the steps in the aisle, don't be surprised if someone kicks it over. And if you want to take a selfie, that's fine, but don't let the flash blind the people behind you.

And I am not crazy about the MSG makeover. The new box seats. . .those of us in the bleachers are lucky we are not claustrophobic.

Food choices in our section were limited. We wound up with hot dogs.

The opening act was . . . Meh. First song was decent, last song ok, but everything in between - including the Beatles cover - was boring.

But Billy . . . He sang for two hours, without intermission. A nice mix of hits and lesser known album cuts. I think he sang at least one song from every album he recorded. Here's the set list:

Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway)
Summer, Highland Falls
The Longest Time
Blonde Over Blue
Everybody Loves You Now
All for Leyna
Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)
Where's the Orchestra?
Big Man on Mulberry Street
New York State of Mind
The Entertainer
She's Always a Woman
Don't Ask Me Why
The River of Dreams
Scenes From an Italian Restaurant
Piano Man
(preceded by Layla piano outro)
Big Shot
It's Still Rock and Roll to Me
You May Be Right
Only the Good Die Young

When he sings in NY he's home.  He's a Long Islander.  Born in da Bronx, raised in Hicksville, he's one of us.  We have been to Cold Spring Harbor and Hackensack, we've cruised the Miracle Mile, and no one needs to explain to us why it was crazy for Billy to walk through Bedford-Stuy alone in 1980.

The two quintessential New York songs are always on his set list.

"Miami 2017".  Written in response to a NY Daily News headline (remember "Ford to NY: Drop Dead"?), the song is full of references we understand.  And 'New York State of Mind", a song that touched this homesick college girl.  Those songs were a soothing balm to a wounded city after 9/11 and again after Superstorm Sandy.

Great concert.  I didn't want it to end.

As many hits as he sang, there are so many more he didn't play. Guess that means we have to see him again eventually.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Dinner and a movie

The polar vortex is not going to ruin our good time!
Tonight we ventured out, into the cold and snow, and made our way to the local movie theater to see "Her". It's a sappy, bittersweet relationship story with a science fiction premise. The protagonist falls in love with his computer operating system, or rather, the artificial intelligence behind the operating system. The movie has a lot to say about relationships, especially about our relationships with our computers versus real humans. It's a bit too long, got a little boring in the middle, but overall I liked it.
Dinner afterwards at the Empress Diner. The decor is very retro, what in the 1960's would have been called "modern". Lots of burnt orange . . . The menu here is somewhat limited in comparison to other local diners, but the food is excellent. We ordered burgers, which came with huge servings of cole slaw and pickles. Both burgers and buns were nicely grilled. French fries were crisp and tasty. Onion rings were merely ok, the batter was very heavy, service was pleasant and efficient.

Empress Diner on Urbanspoon

Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, January 24, 2014

Superbowl season!

No, I'm not a football fan.  But I'm still getting caught up in the excitement. 

The game will be played on February 2 in Metlife Stadium.  But most of the pregame excitement will take place on this side of the Hudson, in NYC.  There will be fireworks over the Hudson Monday night.  Broadway has modified its schedule for next weekend, with most shows going dark Sunday night, and  added performances Friday and Saturday.  You can't walk through Penn Station without seeing the huge Pepsi/Superbowl ads.

People in my office are a bit excited, the Denver Broncos are staying at the Hyatt in Jersey City, just across the street from our offices.  The Seattle Seahawks are also in Jersey City, but at the Weston, a mile or so away from  our offices.

The weather is becoming a concern, with the polar vortex bringing extreme cold and high amounts of snow. 

No, I don't plan to watch the game.  Maybe the halftime show, but as I said, I'm not really a football fan.  Still, the excitement is infectious.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

winter, ugh

Well, the good news is that the producer will allow us to exchange the Matilda tickets.

Now I have another concern:  Billy Joel.  We have tickets for Monday night at the Garden.

Guess what the weather report says?

Really hating winter right now.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Hating this winter weather!

Drew periodically visits a website where charitable causes auction off great prizes.    In the past he's successfully bid on Mets tickets and Broadway shows.

Well, there were tickets for "Matilda" offered on the site.  House seats, meaning prime orchestra viewing.

We discussed it, and agreed he would bid on the tickets, and if he won, I'd pay for them and consider it his birthday present.

Well, he won.  And the person who arranged for the tickets told him "Once I submit the date, you can't change your mind.  You have  to go on that date.  You can't exchange the tickets for a later date."

Long Island is about to  get hit with another major storm  This one came  out of the blue, all of a sudden we were getting winter storm warnings yesterday.  The snow is expected to start by noon and get increasinly worse, so that the evening commute will be at the height of the storm.  Coupled with bone chilling cold and high winds, the storm could bring as much as a foot of snow by tomorrow morning.

Thank the polar vortex.

Drew is going to call the theater anyhow, see if the can do something for us, but I think we just said goodbye to our "Matilda" tickets.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

the delicate balance

Sharing a bathroom is a "joy". Especially when you have more than one person who has to get out of the house in the morning for work/school. Jen and I (and Becca, when she was home from school and working last summer) had to negotiate a time frame for each of us to do our morning routine. It works. Usually. Unless my mother throws a monkey wrench into the works and upsets the balance. My mother retired 11 years ago, and she no longer remembers the urgency of having to make a train and/or get to work on time. And she could try the patience of a saint. Last week she wandered into the bathroom when Jen was trying to get ready for work. Mom has her own bathroom adjacent to the master bedroom, but for some reason she likes to use the scale/shower/etc. in the larger bathroom the rest of us share. Jen was...well, not polite...about throwing her out of the bathroom. And she took offense at Jen's tone...and I found myself intervening, trying to get my mother to wait a few minutes until Jen was out of the bathroom.... This week, it was my turn. It's 6:30 in the morning, I have to leave by 7:00 to make my train, and I need some privacy in the bathroom ...and my mother ignored my 6 polite but insistent requests that she get out and leave me to my tasks...and, of course, I'm a terrible person because when she FINALLY left I slammed the bathroom door and woke everyone up.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

can you believe it's been five years?

Front row seat to the news I remember standing at the window, straining to see the plane in the river. We were too far away to see the passengers standing on the wings, but we could see the plane in the water and all the other traffic on the river. Truly a Miracle on the Hudson.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Turnpike Bagels

Turnpike Bagels Deli & Bakery on Urbanspoon
Bagels are soul food.  No, really, they are.  They speak to the same part of me that loves pastrami and matzo ball soup and those big, square knishes.  My uncle Louie, who was married to my father's sister Gittel, was a bagel man.  I am somewhat of a traditionalist when it comes to bagels.
Because bagel bakeries traditionally followed kosher laws, they could sell only baked goods, fish and dairy products.  Turnpike Bagels has no such limitations, and serves both bagels and deli items.  There are a handful of tables, but we ordered our food "to go".
First visit was at breakfast time.  I had an "everything" bagel with cream cheese.  The bagel was fresh, chewy but not tough.  Toppings were flavorful.  The cream cheese portion was generous but not overwhelming.  Coffee was freshly brewed and not too strong.  They wrap hot food and drinks in Saran wrap to retain the heat.  There are also egg dishes, pancakes, etc.  They have a nice selection of baked goods, including oversized muffins.  Not much in the way of "appetizing", i. e., lox, whitefish, herring . . .
Our second visit was at lunch time.  Midafternoon, actually, and there were several other customers -- a good sign.    The lunch menu is very extensive -- a variety of sandwiches (they use Boar's Head cold cuts), wraps, panini, salad platters and burgers.
Drew had a Texas Melt, a huge hero with roast beef, bacon, mozarella and bbq sauce.  I ordered a Texas burger -- a 5 oz.  burger served with bacon, muenster cheese, bbq sauce, lettuce and tomato.  Both sandwiches were excellent.  The one complaint I had was that the burger was so juicy and saucy that it dripped all over my shirt.  Steak fries were ok but not outstanding.
They carry some unusual varieties of packaged goods, too.  Pretzels coated in pieces of  Butterfinger candy bars.  Guacamole flavored tortilla chips.  Didn't buy anything this time around,but I plan to go back and do some exploring.

End of life issues

Jahi McMath.  Marlise Munoz.  Ariel Sharon.  Three names that have been in the news these past few days.
Jahi was a 13 year old girl who died last month as a result of a complicated surgical procedure.  She has surgery to address her sleep apnea.  Shortly after the surgery she began to bleed heavily, suffered cardiac arrest and brain death.  The hospital wanted to remove her from a vent and let her go.  Her mother and family members refused, and began a court battle and media circus to keep her "alive".
Marlise was 33 when she suffered a pulmonary embolism in November. Her husband and family assert that she is brain dead and want to remove her from life support.  The hospital asserts she must be kept "alive" because she is pregnant.  The family plans to sue.
Ariel Sharon died two days ago.  I suppose many people forgot he was still alive.  He's been in a persistent vegetative state for 8 years as a result of a stroke.  He was 85.  I read that his sons had insisted on very aggressive treatment.
It all brings to mind the Terri Schiavo, who lived in a persistent vegetative state for 15 years, the legal battle between her husband and her parents over whether her husband could have her feeding tube removed.  The final battle played out in March 2005, when I was home recovering from surgery.  I watched it all on MSNBC every afternoon.
Scary to think your brain could cease to function, that you could lose all of the higher functions, the essence of your personality, your sense of self, and yet your heart could go on beating.
The last few months before his father died, Drew kept using the phrase "quality of life".  So long as Emil was able to interact with his environment and take some pleasure from it, Drew was reluctant to agree to a DNR order.  If circumstances were to change . . .but in the end, it didn't matter. 
Right now my father is as well as can be expected, comfortable in his own home and his own bed.  Who knows when that will change?  I fear that my sisters, like Sharon's sons, will insist upon aggressive treatment until the very end.
Not for me. . .please.  Please don't make me live like Terry Schiavo or Ariel Sharon.  If it gets to that point, please know it's ok to let me go.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Saturday afternoon at the laundromat

Lately I feel like a gypsy, wandering between my parents' house and Drew's.    Officially I live at my parents' house, but spend more time at Drew's.

For the most part I enjoy la vie boheme. But I have one serious problem:  laundry.

My mother has a pretty standard laundry room, a top loading washing machine and a matching dryer.  Only problem is the number of people living in that house and the amount of laundry they produce.  I got tired of fighting, arguing over who gets to use the machines.

Doing laundry at Drew's is also problematic. He has a washer but not a dryer.  The washer is somewhat inaccessible.  And he's got two roommates.

So. . .welcome to the laundromat.  I bring my bags of laundry and my Tide pods, and in under 2 hours I can do a week's worth of laundry.

I usually go at off hours, when the place isn't particularly busy.  Made a huge mistake today, showed up at a peak time, Saturday afternoon.

Never again.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


Yes, that's my current obsession. My lips aren't just chapped, they are painfully chapped. Seriously, they hurt!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Yea or nay?

Do you like the gold glitter accent nail?

A few moments of panic, part two

They're flying from JFK to Orlando today.

Problem at JFK this morning. Plane skidded off the runway.  Airport was closed for two hours.  significant delays. 

But they are on the plane and on their way.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Good news!

Drew's roommate got a new job.  It's in his field, working for a major tech company.  Decent salary, twice what he was earning as sales help at the discount chain. 

The only down side is that he has to commute into the city, his job location is lower Manhattan.

Friday, January 3, 2014

A few moments of panic, but her Disney trip is a "go"

 Becca is, without question, my "Disney princess".    She and her boyfriend have done a couple of trips to WDW, including one with his parents and his sister.

They have a trip planned for next week, a short Disney cruise to the Bahamas bracketed by a couple of overnight stays at WDW.  Becca has been looking forward to it for months.

Meanwhile, boyfriend and his buddy decided that December would be a perfect time for  their Birthright trip to Israel. That's a 10 day trip.  Boyfriend figured he'd fly home on the 2nd (arriving on the 3rd) and fly to Orlando with Becca on the 5th, and that there'd be no problem.

Boyfriend never considered the weather.

We had a major snowstorm here in the northeast last night, blizzard conditions here on Long Island.

My daughter spent the better part of yesterday on the phone with Disney, El Al, Jetblue, the travel insurance people...

But the good news is, the plane took off from Tel Aviv and is due to arrive at the post-storm-reopened Newark Airport today.

Vacation is saved!

Thursday, January 2, 2014


My family has always been involved in the theatrical arts.  My maternal grandmother wanted to be an actress in the Yiddish theater.  My father harbored dreams of becoming a successful playwright.   My sisters and I all participated in drama club, chorus, orchestra, piano lessons . . . the twins even took it so far as to take BFA degrees in musical theater and attempted a career in "show business". 

Ditto Drew's family.   His parents were members of a community theater organization, performing in Gilbert & Sullivan productions, and he and his sister are current members.  He was a drama club member in high school. 

And, of course, our children have been involved in various performing arts, including chorus, dance, theater....

So of course we have to create drama in our lives.

Current issue is Becca's upcoming graduation.  All I want to do is make a nice luncheon for my daughter in honor of her receiving her degree from a fine university.  So of course there is drama...nothing in this family is ever simple.


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year's Eve at La Novella

We're a small group, looking to go out and have a good time for New Year's but not spend outrageous amounts of money to do so.  And someone suggests La Novella, where they'd had dinner a week or so ago.  I'd never been there.

The offer was a prix fixe dinner -- choice of appetizer, salad, pasta, choice of entree, coffee and dessert, champagne toast. Live entertainment, party favors.  Cash bar.  reasonable rpice.

It's a small, cozy restaurant.  Very old school Italian.

Meal began with a bruschetta -- a flavorful tomato mixture on artisan Italian bread.  The appetizers included baked clams, mussels, tomato and mozzarella or stuffed mushrooms.  I chose the stuffed mushrooms -- four mushrooms stuffed with breadcrumbs and served with a marinara sauce.    I think I would have been happier with the mussels or the tomato and mozzarella, the stuffing was a bit bland and the sauce a bit overpowering.

Next was a chopped salad in vinaigrette   -- didn't care for it because some of the greens were very bitter.

The pasta course was rigatoni in  a vodka sauce -- really liked that.  The entrees included chicken, fish and veal dishes.  I had veal piccata, think slices of veal in a lemon-capers sauce.  Excellent.  Drew loved his veal marsala.

Dessert, served family style, included chocolate cake, tiramisu and cannoli.  Of the three, the one I'd likely order again was the cannoli.

The live entertainment -- a singer who was very much in the "Rat Pack" mode, he sang "That's Amore", "Volare" (in Italian!), lots of songs in the style of Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, etc.  Perfect  for the crowd, we all had fun.

The staff was friendly and efficient, the owner Mike circulated among the party-goers at the end of the evening to make sure everyone was satisfied.

Thoroughly enjoyable evening, I am sure we will be back to try the restaurant on a regular night.

La Novella Ristorante of East Meadow on Urbanspoon

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