Winter in New York

The tourists are now out clogging the streets of our fair city. I’ve always loved the tourists even though others joke about them.

Whenever you go there Times Square is as crowded as if it’s noon. With the fluorescent lights it’s like an eternal noontime on 42nd Street. Even at nine o’clock in the evening it’s bustling and bright with people and lights.

I dipped into Sephora and bought Fresh Sugar lip scrub. This beauty emporium played alternative holiday music. You’ve got to love Sephora.

Ten of us took our seats in the theater. The words quickly popped out of my mouth as I eyed the women in the seats in back of us.

“We’re the opening act.” I laughed as my family coordinated where to sit. You need to have a sense of humor about things.

We saw Circ du Soleil perform Paramour and the play was exceptional. It featured the amazing acrobatics and a great story.

I recommend seeing Paramour if you’re a tourist in New York City. Even if the cost of the tickets will set you back a pretty penny.

Winter in New York IS a magical time.

Here’s to you, Verna from South Bend, Indiana!

All-American Social Club

July 9, 2016

All-American Social Club

This was my America inside the club:

A dreadlocked Adonis in Nike trainers chatted up a chica.

An Asian woman in Breton striped danced with a lightning-haired guy.

An African American woman in a purple shirt danced magnificent with a white woman to the cover band.

This is the America I know: free souls at the social club choosing to buck the system that divides us.

We keep on rockin’ in the real world.

 

A Tale of Two Citizens

The events I talk about below are as different as night and day.

They point to the reality that stereotyping people isn’t the way to go.

Late One Summer:

I’m standing on a street corner in an Orthodox neighborhood talking on my cell phone. A guy in his black suit walks by and turns to look at me:

“Have a Great Day Miss–it’s a beautiful morning–a Great Day to you!” He smiled.

“Have a great day too!” I smiled back and marveled at the guy’s sunny good humor to want to welcome an outsider like me.

This stands in contrast to 15 years ago. In an Orthodox neighborhood I’m closing a building and the last guy is leaving. It’s another summer and he’s wearing his black suit too.

“Are you Jewish?” he asked me. “No.” “So you’re Italian.” He figured it out. “Yes.”

“Well you don’t hate us yet you don’t like us,” he continued.

I hadn’t ever met this guy before in my life and within five minutes he was accusing me of being anti-Semitic. I always remembered this.

It reminded me of the Depeche Mode song “People Are People” from the 1980s. Their lead singer crooned that he didn’t understand what could make a man hate another man.

To stereotype another person is not something I want to do. It would be like changing my eyes from brown to blue–impossible.

As an author I’m entranced with difference–with the passions and peculiarities of human beings that make good characters in a book as well as in real life.

Days later “It’s a beautiful morning” kept ringing out in my head. I can see that cheerful man even now telling me: “Have a great day miss!”

I urge readers to understand that hate is not the way to go–violence is not the way to go–killing is not the way to go. Not even in response to hate racism or any other stigma.

Does it really feel good to simmer in a stew of anger? Is that how we should live our lives–hating and attacking each other?

As a writer if I were going to write an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times I know what I’d write about: compassionate people making a difference.

In this life I know who impresses me more: the guy with a heart as big as the Montana sky.

Urban Tribes

Years ago I read the book Urban Tribes.

I remembered from the book only the author’s takeaway that single people in America are forming tribes that are their own version of a chosen family not a birth family. It wasn’t that great a book except for his premise about creating a tribe of kindred spirits to stand in as a family.

A friend and I went to hear live music. I started to fall asleep on the banquette we sat on in the back of the club. Then I got a cup of water from the bar. We went outside for fresh air.

I perked up when the featured act started to perform–a fake-jet-black-haired guitarist who’d been touring for 30 years–not all at once that is over the years.

We ate in a fabulous diner at midnight. To get home we has to cross “The Boulevard of Death”–the term for a street where numerous people get run over trying to cross it every day. As I started to cross no kidding a car was speeding down the road.

My friend’s friend had run across the street to flag down a cab to take us home. We followed him like blind chickens crossing the road because we had to get to the other side.

When I was in Rome the tour guide remarked about crossing Rome’s streets: “The drivers are speedy–they’re not going to stop. Just run across the street and don’t look–just run across the street.”

I doubt that outside of New York City people jaywalk and cross the street when the light is green. People who were born in and live in New York City like I was and have do not wait for a red light to cross the street.

Only I cross the street when no car is coming my way. The drivers here are dangerous. They don’t stop at stop signs. They don’t stop for red lights and keep going through the intersection when the light is red.

I take my life in my hands crossing the street every day. No kidding.

I’ll end here with a photo of our divine lemon meringue from the diner:

 

nevada diner

Sagra del Libro

I sold copies of Left of the Dial at the Italian American Sagra del Libro or sale of the book.

It was early so I ducked into Angelo’s of Mulberry Street.

“Soltanto uno,” I told the white coat waiter. “Only me.”

“To drink?” He ushered me to a table.

“Aqua.” I unwrapped my thick pink boucle scarf and eased out of my coat.

CNN was playing on a TV on the ceiling. I ordered the mezza luna and escarole.

The waiter asked: “Italiano?” “Si,” I told him.

“Dove?” he asked. “Sicily. Naples.” I said. He shook his head.

“Calabria,” I continued. “Mi paesan!” He smiled.

Doppo cena / after supper I bought a pink scarf from a street vendor with the ubiquitous “cashmere” label even though it’s not likely cashmere for $5.

I was the first to read at the Sagra open reading. I read the Chills concert scene from the memoir.

You know it’s too cold when you wear the new scarf inside the coat and the old scarf outside the collar.

Spring is here in three weeks so hopefully the cold will be another season’s memory soon.

The event was filmed so stay tuned for where you can view the video where I’m reading from the book.

Mille grazie to all who stopped by.

Stunned is the Word

Stunned is the word for what happened to me when I did a good deed this weekend.

I was entering a market and a woman sitting outside belted out: “Spare a couple dollars for a sandwich.”

“Come inside and pick something,” I quickly ushered her in. Luckily the vegetable pannini was only five dollars. “Can I get a soda?” she asked.

“Okay,” I said and she came back with a San Pellegrino.

“How much?” I queried the cashier. “Seven dollars,” she said. I paid and started my own shopping.

“Thank you, thank you.” The woman hurried outside to her perch in front of the store.

As I exited with my own provisions I thought the woman might have a mental illness. She might collect SSI and not have money this far along in the month to buy food. She was not skeletal like a heroin addict and did not wear long sleeves. Her hair was immaculate and she wore a tee shirt and pants.

I have a good nature so I didn’t think the woman had money and was too cheap to want to buy her own food. She might have been on the cusp of becoming homeless.

Kelly Cutrone in her book Normal Gets You Nowhere excoriates Christians and other shoppers who go in and out of stores buying $19.99 junk gifts and step around homeless people in front of the stores. No one gives these subway grate fixtures money or offers to buy them a slice of pizza.

Today I was tested: I bought a woman begging for change a meal. My intuition tells me she might have had a mental illness and couldn’t afford food this far along in the month.

I do not like to think she was an ordinary woman too cheap to buy her own meals. A song title claims the singer “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” and this might have been talking about the scraps of love he wanted a woman to give him. Yet it would astound me if the woman had no pride and was too cheap to buy her own food.

This is a great mystery to me right now.

The trains were running late and it took me two hours to get home. By then my broccoli rabe was wilted. The delice soft cheese was melted.

It was another hot night in a cool city.

Tambourine Music

Exit 15 on the Belt Parkway in Brooklyn takes you to the Gateway Shopping Center. A wildlife crossing sign still exists on the Belt Parkway.

We ate in the Red Lobster there. The restaurant was cool and dim. New York City was experiencing a heatwave outside.

Going home I urged that we listen to music instead of the wavering Jersey radio talk show. Mom chose a Bob Dylan CD. “Hey Mr. Tambourine Man” serenaded us as we passed the wildlife crossing sign.

Mom gave me three silver bracelets. They were a gift from a woman who read my memoir Left of the Dial and thought I write well. The bracelets have charms and are inscribed (one sentiment for each) with:

Follow Your Heart. Believe in Yourself. Anything is Possible.

I write the woman a hand-written thank you note.

It comes to pass that when you get the right treatment you can get to 50 and life is a song you listen to.

I recommend the Red Lobster at the Gateway Shopping Center. A TJ Maxx and JC Penney are there too.

You’ve got to love your life even though it isn’t easy. You can find pockets of joy like tucking into the Bar Harbor Lobster Bake.

If you can’t travel to Maine for a seafood supper the next best thing is a meal at Red Lobster. The Red Lobster in Times Square is also exceptional as you’ll see in a scene at the end of Left of the Dial.

Live. Love. Lobster. Repeat.