Tuesday, October 28, 2014

#36 A Tree Grows Outside of Brooklyn...lots of them, actually

Trees! I saw lots of trees this month, and I have pictures to back up that statement, but the kick in the pants to sit down and write this blog, about The Fall Colors Drive Around, was when I was walking by Radio City Music Hall today and saw that they have ALREADY put up the full Chri$$ma$$ Tree Lights! That annoyed me sooooooo much, I got out the laptop and began to type.
It's still 3 days before Halloween. Why don't we just do away with Halloween and Thanksgiving! Who needs funny costumes, WITCHES (and this year lots of Frozen Elsas), zombies and candy or delicious dinners with turkey, dressing, green beans, sweet potatoes w/marshmallows, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie....just not as important as making money on Chri$$ma$$, right?  NO!!!!
So before I rant too much and offend everyone in America, I will report on what the other part of New York looks like. Yes, there is a really pretty state out there.
I drove back from Chicago on the Northern Route. That was just below the Canadian Border. Couldn't risk driving in Canada, as the car is not in my name and I don't look like a Robert. They are evidently very particular at those boarder crossings, about things being 100% in order. When I got to the far Western part of NY, I was just delighted to find The Finger Lakes District. My friend Lindsay suggested the route, and she should know, she is from Buffalo. It was an area of small towns and long finger like lakes that were surrounded by trees and hills. Photo heaven. I also drove through Ithaca and had lunch near Cornell. I do love a college town. Such energy and interesting restaurants.
There was much pulling over on the side of the road and acting like a tourist...well, I was one. I really was looking for RED. I did find lots of yellow, orange, purple, brown and green, of course, but I was unable to find really deep good reds. I don't think it was the time of the month or the cold, I just found the wrong trees. I was in New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut and fraking Vermont, and while it was all gorgeous, there was little RED. Oh, well, it was still beautiful.
Now, to the little surprise I threw into the mix after all that driving...I drove 3 hours up to the middle of Vermont, to have a 20 minute tour of the Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Factory...and I didn't even have any ice cream! Yes, I do crazy things like that.
I had spent a really ugly night in a terrible motel in Massachusetts, and I decided to give myself a treat. It was a long drive, but that in itself was interesting and come on, those 2 guys are real good guys. Guess what? I felt as though there were more people at that factory, in some tiny town in VT, than in all of Times Square NYC. I really felt that was true. You know when there is a policeman  directing traffic out in the boonies, that there will be masses of people. The line for a cone was 45 minutes long. Of course there was a Gift Shoppe, but even though it was a TouristTrap, there was such an atmosphere of good will and kindness. It mattered not at all that I had added 6 hours of driving to my trip. I loved the place (specially the area that told of the good works and charitable deeds the company fosters...good people inside and out).
So I drove back hours into the night and had had enough of trees and sights. I was glad I did it, but it felt wonderful to get back into traffic. TheCity was an even more beautiful sight....although I must say that my new companion, Magdalena Magellan (Maggie, for short and Meg, when she pleases me a lot) tried to guide me back into New York via the $13 MidTown Tunnel. I turned her off and avoided all tolls. I now consider myself a seasoned NY driver. Next trip....Salem to see WITCHES. BOO!
PS: For those who don't get the joke in the title of today's blog...there was a book and film in the 40's & a musical in the 50's called A Tree Grows In Brooklyn. Google it. I'm tired and am going to bed!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

#35 The Great Drive Around - Part 2 (or should that be Act 2?)

"Hello Darlings", again! As I mentioned last post, I listened to the revival of CABARET CD at least 50 plus times (I exaggerate or maybe I don't). It just always gets better. Perhaps I listen to have Natasha Richardson wipe Liza with a Z out of my memory. Then again, I also picture Alan Cumming walking around my local dog-walking spot (Tompkins SqPk) in his PJs with his pup. We do not talk.
The other music I listened to was a collection of 27 CDs that my brother compiled of favorite folk music tunes from Chicago's Midnight Special radio show on WFMT. Woody Guthrie singing "This Land Is Your Land" and me weeping big tears over the music and the beauty I watched go by me, at just slightly over the posted speed limit. It was a most charming way to pass through the vastness of this wonderful country.
You ever drive through Texas? Don't. Well, if you have to, drive very carefully! I have first hand knowledge of troubles there. You do not want to be stopped by the Texas Rangers. There is this terrible tension of wanting to speed towards the boarder, but fear that to do so, will be a disaster. Luckily, this trip, I was able to pass through unscathed. I did notice the lowest gas prices of my journey ($3.01), but didn't need to purchase any. I didn't even stop at a SONIC for TaterTots and a Dr Pepper. That was a small joke, as I can't drink the stuff, since having some warm Pep back in my days at Oklahoma University and retching miserably. The mind never forgets. There is a beer story, too, but not for today.
I did make a side trip to visit my girl Georgia in Santa Fe. There was tea and some yummy treats. Did you know TheArtist was also a cook? Who knew. Here is her cookbook shelf. Notice that she was a fan of Julia Child:

So the return trip was an OU reunion. I stopped in Tucson, Phoenix and Tulsa. Lots of laughing, eating and tall tales. Next time I will divert down to Austin, Big D & Houston.
I did try to move to Houston in the 70's but chickened out. Something about my date, one night, jumping up on our table and singing "The Eyes of Texas" at a very loud volume, just made me miss Chicago enough to return for 9 more years. How different would life be, had I done that move. It is natural to think that, but as I am very happy with where I am, and who I am, at this very moment. I would change nothing in the past...the good, the bad or the stupid. It all lead to right now...sitting in a tiny studio, typing thoughts of a wonderful adventure, only a few days over.
What happens next? I've already got things lined up, but there is plenty of room for the unexpected.
This last Great Drive Around was perfect, except for the damage it did to my figure and my foot. Both will recover, as soon as I get some miles in of walking. I missed walking. I promised my friend Dale I would walk around TheCentralParkPond and donate to the Alzheimer's Association. Wouldn't hurt any of you to do the same. None of us are too far from that fate.
Off now to thank my friends for BDay greetings and to enjoy September in NYC. It is the perfect time here. The summer lingers, without the "nine circles of Hades" heat, and the Fall Theatre season is about to begin. Perfect, right?
Oh, I forgot to mention the thousands of very tall ladies in town for NYFW (NewYorkFashionWeek). For a person with NO fashion sense at all, I must say it is pretty exciting. I went to the Ralph Lauren show in ThePark last night. Holograms! Not one real model! But it was tons of fun. Here is a pic of the Brooklyn Bridge used as a backdrop for the show (fuzzy, as the holograms were projected on a film of water from the pond:

Cool, right? I love this town!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

#34 The Great Drive Around - Part 1

"HELLO DARLINGS!" That's not me, that's Sally Bowels from CABARET, the CD I have been listening to since I left NYC (well, that is not quite accurate, but more on that later). I am on a journey and it is most delightful and adventurous, but as it is not nearly over, I thought it best to jot down some ramblings before they go completely out of my head, as does happen sometimes.
This was my primary object:
Yes, it is a beach. Yes, that is the Pacific Ocean. Yes, I am standing in 3 feet of water, and most fearful that I will drop my brand new cel phone in the foaming sea. Yes, it is Oceanside, CA. 

I left the perfect place to spend a summer, NYC of 85 to 95 humid degrees, to take Uncle Bob's car on a spin around the country. Really true. I departed early on a Wednesday morning for Detroit to visit my much missed Jill, next to Chicago, for 8 hours, to sleep and pick up the mail, on to Colorado to visit Dale & Art and also the new mommies Robyn & Jennie, then Cali. Now there the list gets complicated. Daughter Barbara was first, as she has been deprived of one on one mommy-time for far too long, then Jan, CarolLee, Linda, Babs, Nanette/Steve & Faye. As I type this, I know I didn't get to many friends I love to pieces and will make amends next time. I was only in Oakland 2 days and one of those days I was not particularly coherent. It does take some stamina to drive across country in 3 days. Did I mention the outrageously gorgeous Glenwood Canyon in Colorado or the High Desert at 5am? (not one car on the road...yes, I am an idiot)

There is so much beauty in this country. I think the politicians have lost touch with the magic of this land. 

Anyway, back to the journey. Barbara and I ate at Zachary's Pizza and guess what New York? You lose that contest! Shopping for gifts on Park Street in Alameda did not in any way tempt me to cancel my next year in NYC, but it was fun to see how things are progressing on "my street". Actually, I can make myself happy anywhere. I just prefer to be closer to theater people. I did see some of that "species" up in Sonoma, at a great evening of song and dance with my pal Babs. Then some excellent quality time with my sissie-in-law, a quickie visit to AngelsCamp to laugh with my Pod Faye(inside joke)...then LaLa and the cuzzies, and Duckie. Yes, I give my peeps, nicknames. That's a sign of love! I've got tons of nicknames and I dole them out liberally. Love, I say!

So the final destination was Oceanside and the wonderful retreat my pal MaryElena has on the beach, that she inherited from her parents, a real house with rooms and windows on the ocean. I love the beach, the water, the waves, the sun, the sound of the surf...I just hate sand! There was a full house of old friends and family and the talking, eating and laughing never ended. Relaxing, but yet exhausting....a perfect 4 days. There was the added excitement of huge waves from Hurricaine Marie. Thanks Mexico! 
I have one more afternoon in Cali, then Part 2 of The Great Drive Around begins. More adventures await and more interesting encounters with friends and strangers. Stay tuned......lots of good things planned and unplanned. That's what makes it an adventure. 

Oh, did anyone pick up on the fact that I drove from The BayArea to LA without getting a speeding ticket? My living in NYC without a car, and avoiding those tickets may be the reason California is in dire financial trouble. Tough luck CA, I'm only going 8 mph over the posted limit. I need my $$$ for theater tickets......and GAS. Jeez, the prices ranges from $4.89 to $3.19. Don't get me on that subject!


Friday, July 18, 2014

#33 Life - I plan to comment on this word

"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an
attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, bourbon in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO what a ride!"     "after" Hunter S Thompson

Now, I don't read the above mentioned Mr. Thompson, he was a bit too drunken and hateful
towards women for my taste, but that amended quote is pretty damn good. As Elaine Stritch died yesterday and my brother passed away a few months ago, quite unexpectedly, death has been on my mind. I was on a marathon car trip the other day and there was time to ponder at 70 mph.

I often say that you should live every day to the fullest, because a house could fall on your head tomorrow. Well, it happens! Hug those you like and tell the ones you love that, too. You just never know and every day really is an adventure. Well, it's up to you to find the magic in the day. I had a topsy turvy week (and it's only Friday), and I refuse to have it turn out terrible. I will, however, accept it as a learning experience and squeeze some joy out of those crushed lemons. 

So, Elaine Stritch, let's start there. I've seen her shows, talked with her afterwards and at StageDoors, but I did have one truly special encounter with her. On a very pleasant Sunday, 2 years ago, I think, I was walking down Madison Avenue with my bestie Jill. We were on the tail end of a marathon walk through CentralPark and beyond. It was around 4ish.  The legs were giving out. We are waiting for the light to change, to cross at 79th, and I see, standing on the far corner that very familiar face and those long skinny legs. The light changes. Halfway across, I call out, "Hi, Stritchie, how'ya been?" All action stops as we have a brief but cheerful exchange in the middle of the intersection. She is on the arm of a tall blonde young man. She thinks she knows me because I was so friendly. Huge smiles on all parts, and we wonder where we all are walking and how great the day had been in the city we both love. The light goes yellow. Not wanting to be responsible for her possibly being hit by a car & having the world hate me, toodeloos are said and off we go. She away from The Carlyle and we towards. All the tiredness has gone. Her vivacity and radiance boosted our energy. The woman exuded life. Jill and I happily talked about her from what we knew from living in TheCity. Isn't it funny how New Yorkers think any other New Yorker, even the famous ones, are family? Tonight they dim the lights on Broadway. She really was one of the top tiered Divas.

So, truth be told, I'm not over my brother's death from last April. Perhaps I am a bit angry with him, as well. He and I were a team; as kids, the two of us against the world of adults and as adults, against the idiots we encountered. The guy was smart. Really, he was much smarter than I am, and I'm not too dumb if I passed the "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" test 7 times! (not selected, I think because I am unphotogenic and hide under my hat, but that's for another conversation.) So, I need to say this about my brother. He is a hero to me. He went through life on his own terms. Got everything he wanted with his own dime. While our parents did give him a top notch education, they didn't help him one bit out of college, because he dropped out of Law School. You know, I think it was brave and wise to leave a path that was not suited to your personality. He would have been a terrible lawyer. No bullshit in that man and he hated to compromise his values. He had lovely friends and they miss him, but none more than I. I still think of thousands of things I need to call him up about every week. He NEVER called me. That's the truth. He was just funny that way. The other thing he did that was hero worthy was to break away from the toxic relationship that my mother fostered. She was ruthlessly mean to him because he didn't conform to her standards of dress and association. While I dutifully kept dealing with an aging parent who just couldn't stop mean things from coming out of her mouth, he said, "ENOUGH!" He is hero for that in my eyes. Someday, get me drunk enough and I will tell you some of the ugly words that were spewed. I am an easy drunk. It will only take 2 Cosmos and I will tell all the family secrets.

So we come back to the quote at the top. Love life to the max and do it in your own style. Both of these people did that. Both will be missed for that reason, because most of us give in and secretly long to be braver and freer. I wish my cel phone could reach Heaven. I could ask Uncle Bob some things and get his perspective on history. As to Elaine, she may not be there. I do believe she was a bit on the bawdier side. Wherever she is, I am sure she is laughing and drinking her own Cosmo (but only one a day).

Friday, June 27, 2014

#32 Hot Time/Summer in TheCity .........and a PS

"Hot town, summer in the city
Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty
Been down, isn't it a pity?
Doesn't seem to be a shadow in the city
All around, people looking half dead
Walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a match head"

You know the song, or you should know the song. I am musing about summer in NYC and it makes me happy. I noticed today that I was walking down the street with a big grin on my face. That needs to be discussed.
I have frequently said, to anyone who will listen, that I love summer in NY. BitchFaceLandlord (she from the first apartment, ThePowderBlue Palace) once asked me, "Will you go to The Hamptons for the summer?" You can guess my response and it was not without swear words.
Discounting the tourist hoards and the steamy subway stations, I love June to September.
First and foremost, there are tons and tons of FREE events everywhere. The concerts, movies, yoga classes, juggling lessons, Broadway events, museum days, street closures, kayaking on The Hudson, parades, outdoor cafes...the list goes on and THERE IS MUSIC EVERYWHERE.
The theater madness of the Tonys is over and there are lots of new shows to see and off Broadway plays to go to. Walking home from them at night is fun because the sidewalks cool off, and I can ensure to log-in my 6 to 7 miles a day. That's important, because I do go to The Big Gay Ice Cream Store on 7th Street more frequently in the summer. I also eat outside a lot: Shake Shack Chicago Hot Dogs are more fun sitting on the grass, watching people taking pictures of The Flatiron Building in Madison Sq Park.
Next, of course, there is the physical side of summer. Sandals are an everyday item and tank tops come out of the back of the closet (if I had a closet). By the end of September I will have zebra feet from the suntan on my tootsies, and I will have seen far too many naked body parts of my fellow New Yorkers. I refer to the tattoos which all those tank tops and short shorts reveal. Some are gorgeous. Well, the pretty bodies usually have pretty ink. Then there are the soft flabby bodies which are a bit harder on the eyes and can sometimes cause retching. "People, some of you need to not be so brazen in your flaunting of arms, legs, bellies and butts! I know it's hot out there, but COME ON HAVE SOME DIGNITY!"
I never have to pay for a Spa Sauna in NYC. I just spend quality time on the Subway Platform and sweat to death. True, the trains are air conditioned perfectly, but sometimes you have to wait up to half an hour in DeathValleylike heat (factor in 98% humidity) for one to come along. Breathing becomes an issue. OH, NEVER BREATHE THROUGH YOUR NOSE IN THE SUBWAY. That is a given, for the entire year.
Also, walking & stair climbing is wonderful exercise anytime, but during the summer there is the added joy of music and movies; tons of free movies in parks, vacant lots (still some in Brooklyn),  beaches and rooftops. The colorful humanity of TheCity gathers to relax and laugh, cry, scream or swoon. Folks are friendly and sometimes share in the picnic goodies. I can have a nice conversation with almost anyone while waiting for a film to start. I'll even bring something to nosh.
The music venues are found everywhere, too. Office buildings open up their atriums. LincolnCenter and CentralPark have free operas and performances. You are only limited by the creativity of your computer's e-mail listings in locating things. I could manage none of this without my computer! That's a fact!
I will mention 2 unpleasant summer factors: tourists walking 4 abreast and bums sleeping on my street in their underwear, but if I say if quickly, perhaps it will leave my brain without doing any damage. (nope, didn't work)
So, forget all you have ever heard about NYC in the summer. Come and visit. June isn't even over yet. There is still time. It might rain, true, but that will be a blessing, as I always walk around in the rain and cool off.

Now, the most important part of today's blog.....
PS: Last week, my son wrote in an email to his wife and also said to me out loud, "I miss New York."
My work here is done.

Friday, April 25, 2014

#31 I'm Fine...The Muse Is Back

After many pleading e-mails, my blog continues, not because of the requests & inquiries as to my well being, but because I feel the need to write. I miss putting my thoughts down and real life will just have to slow down for 1 day, so I can do so.
I have been busy: trudging through the drifts of snow and slush for months, finding ways to keep the cold out of my adorable tiny tenement studio, reconnecting with friends from my last stay here, figuring out the Off & OffOff Broadway Theaters, seeing almost all of the Spring "shows" (except Hedwig - I WILL win that lottery!) and tooling around town with visitors from the other side of the Hudson River.
Yes, busy!
Yesterday was the PERFECT example of why I love this city. 5 days ago, I was planning my week. I am a good planner. I was a City Planner for the Real Mayor Daley, after all. There was an event I wanted to go to: Meryl Streep, Julianna Margulies, Kevin Kline, Patrick Stewart, Parker Posey, Rosie Perez Billy Crudup, Tina Fey and other artsy fartsy people, reading their selected poems on National Poetry Day at Lincoln Center. Tickets were $75. Pooh, I decided, too expensive, even for La Streep! So what happens at 10AM yesterday? I get an e-mail offering tix for $25. Bought one in 2 nano seconds!
The event lived up to everything I had hoped for. All the "celebs" were present, as advertised, and were outstanding. The crowd was elegant. The Hall was resplendent with "posh", but there were 3 people who were clueless dolts. When Julianna M. was reading a perfect poem about loss, her face was wet with tears (and mine, too, because my brother had passed away 2 weeks before), someone's phone went off. She paused, waited for the damn thing to stop, and then beautifully continued. Next Meryl steps to the podium. She is speaking. Another phone rings. She smiles wryly, then continues. She begins her second reading and ANOTHER phone blares. She stops, waits and when silence returns, repeats the poem from where she was interrupted. Well done Meryl. As she starts her next poem, she says so sweetly, but with all her acting chops blaring down on the offenders, "This will be the final poem. Please silence your phones, NOW." Of course, there was pandemonium in the audience. Patti LuPone would have handled it differently, but no less dramatically. It was "live theater" heaven.
I was so energized, that I walked all the way home from 68th to 5th Street and over 9 Avenues East. Took about an hour. I was really pumped.
That's all...more sooner, rather than later.