Archive for Blog

Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers fighting against gun violence, against concentration camps for children, against climate change. To fathers not in the fight: look at your children, and ask yourselves how they’ll feel about the world you’re leaving them.

I Love New York

In NYC, when you’re doing a construction job, you post a copy of the Building Department-approved façade drawing. One of my neighbors did, and another neighbor seems to have found it boring, and thus enhanced it. I love New York.

Anthony Bourdain, RIP

Anthony Bourdain’s Twitter bio is one word: “Enthusiast.”

photo by David Scott Holloway

Many, many times I’ve found myself wishing I were living another life instead of the one I have. If you asked me, though, of all the actual people I knew or knew about, whose life would I want, there are few. At the top of that short list was Anthony Bourdain. His love of adventure, food, culture, people, and his access to them all, made me acutely conscious, as I watched “No Reservations” and later “Parts Unknown,” that I was sitting on my couch in my living room while he was Out There.

I don’t know what happened. But typically, he handled it his way, went out on his own terms. I’m so, so sorry it came to that. And I’m grateful he was here.

In his spirit I offer this week’s Food-friendly events from Eating in Translation.

Bourdain said, “If I’m an advocate for anything, it’s to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. Walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food.” So let’s get out and move!

Where I stand

“These aren’t people. They’re animals.”
Trail of Tears.
“These aren’t people. They’re animals.”
Auschwitz.
“These aren’t people. They’re animals.”
Cambodia.
“These aren’t people. They’re animals.”
Rwanda.

If this is what my country has come to, I stand with the animals.

Clarifying on the US Embassy move to Jerusalem

Israel has always claimed Jerusalem was its capital; this is not new. The Knesset meets there, government is centered there.

It has also always accepted foreign embassies being based in Tel Aviv because the situation of Jerusalem is so precarious. No one but hardline Israelis and their hardline American Jewish supporters — like Jared Kushner — was ever pressing for the US to move the embassy. Because everyone could see what that would mean: more death, more hate, and the hardening of positions on both sides.

Kushner’s self-satisfied, self-righteous, and self-centered Judaism is not mine, and not the Judaism of anyone I know.

The people behind this evil move would do well to remember the story of the rabbi who, in a vision, was afforded a glimpse of the afterlife. His students crowded around him. “What is the punishment in the afterlife for the sins of youth?”

“There is no punishment for the sins of youth.”

“None? And what is the punishment for the sin of breaking the Laws?”

“There is no punishment for the sin of breaking the Laws.”

“There is not? And what — ”

“My students, in the afterlife, there is punishment for one sin and one sin only.”

“What sin is that?” the students cried.

And he told them, “False piety.”

 

About that baby goat…

The following is the story of my weekend.

Many of you know I have Four Fabulous Nephews. The bad news part of the story is that the oldest of them, a JetBlue pilot in his 40’s, has colon cancer. The good news part of the bad news is that the type he has was found early and is apparently eminently curable, though the cure involves a long, unpleasant process: heavy duty chemo, which he recently finished, followed by lighter chemo and radiation, followed by surgery, followed by more surgery to finish the repair. So, very unpleasant, but successful some huge percentage of the time.

He’s sweet, friendly, frank, and generous, this nephew. In short, Fabulous. In typical fashion, he didn’t keep his illness a secret, thinking knowing about it might push other people to get exams, help, etc. When his friends found out they wanted to do something for him. There’s not a lot one can do — he has good health insurance, so he doesn’t need a fundraiser, even — but a bunch of them decided to put on a concert honoring him and raising money for cancer care.

More on the friends later. This nephew lives in Saratoga Springs, so the concert venue chosen was the Proctor Theater in Schenectady. (Proctor jokes re: colon cancer are acceptable but I believe they’ve all been made.) My sister Debby from Philadelphia and I decided to go up, and Debby’s friend Alice came along.

First up, I met them in Newark because Debby refused to drive into NYC. When I got to the parking lot meeting place I saw this:

because after all Debby and Alice met in circus class.

Next, the drive to Saratoga, where we joined a bunch of family for bbq dinner and a little hula hooping.

 

Then Debby, Alice, and I went on to our evening’s accommodation: a yurt on the Mariaville Goat Farm. Debby found it online. She sent me a couple of B&B options, but this looked so much like Mongolia I couldn’t resist.

It has glass in the door and it has windows, neither of which a Himalayan yurt/ger will have, and it’s built a little differently. But the coziness of a yurt at night, especially with the rain falling softly around; and the sounds of goats in goat conversation, are exactly the same. In the early morning, tea outside, birds chirping in the mist; then breakfast, supplied by the lovely Ed and Rick, who run the place — it was heavenly. Yes, before you ask, a yurt has no plumbing, there’s a outhouse. I promise you it’s cleaner, brighter, and more welcoming than most of the public bathrooms you use.

So there we were, waking in our tranquil yurt in the morning, hanging out, but we had to pack up our stuff and put it on the shelves by 10:00 because it was time for — goat yoga! Yes, Yoga for the Journey offers yoga in the yurt. With goats. This was something I’d never heard of, but it seems to be a thing (google it, go on) and it was great! The perfect thing for stretching out and, well, petting baby goats at the same time. Which you know you always wanted to do, right?

Finally, we had to leave the farm, sigh, and head down to Schenectady for the concert. So, as I said, the concert was organized by the nephew’s friends. Who are they? Well, Nephew is a bagpiper. Yes he is. The concert was bagpipe soloists and bagpipe-and-drum bands, from near and far, all donating their time and talent —  and renting the hall — so the ticket revenue could go to a cancer charity of Nephew’s choice. I love piping and this concert was just great. Also, great to see how the piping community came out to support one of their own.

After it was all over, we headed happily south, back home. We drove through pouring rain — that was my part of the drive — then Debby and Alice dropped me in Newark and continued on in clearer weather. I took the PATH to the subway and got home just about midnight. I jumped in the shower before Bella the Cat even noticed I smelled like goat. Though, for all I know, she wouldn’t have cared. What a great weekend!

Rain rain rain rain rain

Boy is it raining here in NYC. It’s so dark in my usually-bright apartment that I seem to be wearing an olive shirt instead of the gray one I thought I’d taken from the drawer. Thunder and lightning, even. April showers, indeed.

But it’s okay. Saturday was gorgeous and I was out most of the day. And yesterday the rain didn’t start until evening, so after basketball I had time for a good walk through northwest Harlem to meet JL for a performance by Lotus Music and Dance at the United Palace Theater. Besides the fact that Lotus performances are among my favorite things, there’s the thrill of the theater itself. It was built as one of Loew’s huge movie palaces and is the only one never to fall into bad disrepair, owning to its second owner. After it closed as a theater in 1969 — showing “2001” as its final show — it was bought by a gent known as the Reverend Ike. He was a prosperity theology preacher, known for saying such things as,

“The best thing you can do for the poor is not be one of them.”

His place had to look prosperous, so Rev. Ike fixed what needed fixing and preached in the theater for years. After he died in 2009 his son made it over into a community cultural center.

So on this rainy day, I present to you the glories of the interior of the United Palace Theater. The exterior is spectacular, too, but I only managed one shot of that before we had to go take our seats, and when the performance was over the rain had started. You’ll just have to get up to 175th and Broadway on a sunny day and see for yourselves.

Lobby lighting fixtures

 

Auditorium interior

 

 

Auditorium interior

 

Balcony painted decoration

 

Exterior — and this is the rear

 

 

Very large ladies’ room

 

Detail, stair landing decorative element

 

Pilasters

 

Another lobby fixture

 

 

I Love New York

For some reason unknown to me — as the reasons for most things are — yesterday morning’s walk to the basketball gym was rife with discarded items that practically wrote their own captions. Here are mine; you’re welcome to send yours.

Honey… About the dog…

 

Whee! First-class flatbed from now on!

 

It should’ve set off warning bells when he insisted on hanging that stupid self-portrait in the living room.

 

Take this messenger job and shove it!

 

Do you think he’ll get it if I leave TWO behind?

 

 

 

Come study with me in Assisi!

I know you all want to come to my writing workshop in Assisi at Art Workshop International and I want you all there! So to that end, please note that the early bird registration discount has been extended until April 20. Take advantage! Come to Italy!

 

 

I Love New York

Yesterday, walking down a midtown street, I hear this behind me: “Now you have to keep your eyes absolutely shut for the next five minutes. Either that or you can stay here and I’ll come back for you.” The answer: “Okay, I will.” Both voices sound cheerful but this is odd so naturally I turn to see what’s up. A young black man with an enormous grin is leading his eyes-shut girlfriend by the hand. They come to a shop; he takes her in and positions her in the narrow window by the door, facing the street so that even if she peeks she won’t know where they are. But I’m watching from the sidewalk and she’s doing exactly as she promised.

They’re in a jewelry store. Still grinning, he goes to the ring counter. He’s obviously been there before because he knows exactly what he wants. The salesperson brings out the ring he’s pointed to. They have a brief discussion which by the way he rubs his knuckle I surmise is about re-sizing after purchase. Satisfied with the answer, he glances over at his girlfriend, still with her eyes squeezed shut, which he can’t see but I can. He catches sight of me watching. I give him a thumbs-up, both about her not peeking and about the whole business.

He goes to the register, takes out his credit card, buys the ring, and walks over to her. Right there in the window, open box on his palm, he says something and she turns, opening her eyes.  First she looks around and realizes where they are. Then she sees what he’s holding out to her. She bursts into tears. His grin has gotten so enormous it’s sparkling off all the other rings and bracelets in the store. I give them another thumbs-up and leave.

Romance is not dead. And I love New York.