New York Moments in a New York Minute
Your real estate cousin coming in from “The
Island” to help you find an apartment, and parking right
in front of The Plaza for a couple of hours during the search
and an ensuing lunch. (The doorman: “Don’t worry,
I’ll watch the car for you. No problem.”) She
gives him a humongous tip but still cheaper than any parking
garage in the city in mid-day… finding
THE apartment on the first day in just the second try…the
very first stranger you talk to after signing your lease,
signaling an official return home, is the great granddaughter
of the iconic American “March King,” John Philip
Sousa. She has had two bouts with cancer and a story that
makes both your former cancer and tales of woe, pale by comparison.
An instant friend. A couch to sleep on for a couple of nights
over the next couple of weeks while waiting for your apartment
to be ready… walking through
Central Park with her at night in 23° weather, taking
snapshots of a sculpture along the way…a
free Coca Cola sponsored jazz violinist concert, breaking
out suddenly in the Time Warner Center where you went for
a quick bite with a friend…24
sheep made out of cardboard—not to mention a huge bronze
mouse—suddenly appearing in Times Square for a week
to promote the Armory Art Show (also of only a week’s
duration) opened by Mayor Bloomberg and heralded as the foremost
art fair in America… passing by the
house Teddy Roosevelt was born in, while you search for a
furniture store in the area. Discovering it for the first
time in all the years lived here and visited, though refraining
from taking a tour as that would be too “touristy”…a
disabled man in a wheelchair with a blanket over his legs
and wearing gloves in the sub-freezing temperature at 10 am
on the street, playing a mean sax in a haunting rendition
of a song from The Little Mermaid, of all things…St.
Patrick’s Cathedral triptych: 1) Lines out the door
and down the block on Ash Wednesday 2) A priest while dispensing
ashes—a solemn rite of the Catholic church— upon
hearing a cell phone go off, breaking out of clerical character,
and reeking of New York attitude, addresses the offender:
“If that is a call from God, take it. If it’s
from anyone else take it outside!" And then returning
to his solemnity in dispensing of ashes upon your forehead
3) Archbishop Dolan in full regalia coming down the center
aisle to celebrate Sunday mass, looking for all the world
like a chess piece…having
legendary New York newsman Gabe Pressman, tripping over a
sidewalk and falling almost at your feet. And before you could
even reach him, three others already had him upright. He saying:
“I’m alright.” You saying: ”Gabe Pressman!”
while taking a picture of the poor shaken man with your iPhone…
…having your umbrella break in a pouring
rain and a minute later having an “umbrella man”
coming up the block directly in front of you on Central Park
South, wheeling his wares—selling you a new one for
$5 and taking the old broken one off your hands to dispose
of later…a new restaurant
Robert, atop the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD)
at a window table, looking out over Columbus Circle in the
rain… a Central Park hansom cab horse
sharing his feed from a pail with a small flock of pigeons;
each courteous of the other. The pigeons knowing that horses
are not carnivorous; the horse knowing that pigeons are a
fact of life in the city …having
a morning coffee at a Starbucks beneath Rockefeller Center
while watching ice skaters at eye level…a
glass of Pinot Noire at the Oak Bar at The Plaza…having
a former girlfriend of 48 years past, offering you an air
mattress until your bed is delivered…a
one night only Randy Newman concert at historic Town Hall
and you have orchestra seats…lunch
at P.J. Clarke’s near Lincoln Center with an old boss
from 40 years ago from the “Mad Men” days…and
the ultimate New York moment, the St. Paddy’s Day Parade.
Scenes from the St. Paddy’s Day Parade
We had missed the first 249 St. Patrick’s
Day Parades up 5th Avenue. And a question struck us as a native
New Yorker who had now come back home: why do we who live
in cities, especially ones with such a rich history, leave
the enjoyment that they have to offer to the tourists?
And with that we entrenched ourselves at the corner of 57th
and 5th across the street from Tiffany’s to
view the proceedings. We weren’t about to miss the 250th.
Nor were the other 1,999,999 onlookers, comprising one of
the biggest crowds ever for this event, helped in no small
part by the unseasonably balmy weather.
The New York version of the St. Patrick’s
Parade—which lays claim to being “the oldest,
biggest and best in the world”—began on March
17, 1760; sixteen years before the adoption of the Declaration
of Independence. But what caught our attention, was not its
rich history nor its impressive stats, but its simplicity.
It is not a parade about floats (especially
the obsessive/compulsive kind adorned with flowers and seeds)…not
about giant balloons (in the likeness of Rocket J. Squirrel
or Bullwinkle Moose)… not about batons being tossed
by girls in sparkling orthodontics and in even “sparklinger”
costumes… but about people. People walking and marching
up the avenue; some with instruments, others proudly carrying
the colors. Still others, empty handed. And that’s it!
Kilts and bagpipes are about as exotic as it gets.
And yes, among the throngs of people on the
sidelines, are the inevitable bands of college kids, skipping
classes and drinking themselves into a coma. We don’t
know how many we “high-fived,” and we wanted to
ask what exactly any of us had won? Other than the right to
take to the streets in celebration? Which come to think of
it, is a pretty big victory in itself. And don’t we
need even more reasons, excuses and events to enjoy the thrill
of being alive?
At the Hotel Ansonia: 1920
|In the lobby
of this grand old dame
of turrets and stone
in raccoon coats
|One coming; one going—“Reek”
Ruth calls out:
“Gonna hit one tomorra’
just for you.”
|Equally at home in verismo and bel canto
he sings his great music
of the Great Home Run.
|And the great Caruso
departs with a tip of his hat.
Saving Face on Facebook
We recently quit Facebook. No we
don’t mean “stopped going on Facebook,”
or refused to be friends with people we never heard of, or
never wanted to be friends with in real life much less in
cyberspace. (Is that term still used to describe this ethereal
realm?). What we do mean is that we literally, willingly and
with some malice aforethought, have removed ourselves from
the ranks of their membership. Its 600 million active users,
will have to carry on in our self-imposed absence.
We have always been ambivalent about this
service, as it always seemed to border on invasion of privacy.
Suddenly, your friends became our friends; our friends and
their friends of friends became your friends and there we
were, being made privy to pictures of someone’s fat
aunt Nettie at her nephew’s Bar Mitzvah. And a word
here about “friends” is irresistible.
It has always amused us to see a member claiming
to have, say 452 “friends.” We want to shout out
in capital letters: THOSE ARE NOT FRIENDS; THOSE ARE NAMES.
A friend is someone you can call while stranded somewhere
out in Poughkeepsie at two o’clock in the morning in
the dead of winter. And a friend wouldn’t send you a
picture of aunt Nettie… even at gunpoint!
Further, not being particularly tech savvy,
we always felt that we were but one click away from sending
the right people the wrong message or the wrong people the
right message. But being the lemming we sometimes can be when
the occasion arises, we decided that since everybody is doing
it, why not us? Thus, we became a member a few years ago.
Facebook, as most know, is a company
of only about seven years duration. Yet, it has become entrenched
in the social dynamic of, literally, the immediate world.
And last year they made a pretty good movie of its spectacular
rise from the brainchild of a college student, to the phenomenal
enterprise it has become— “Social Network.”
And who doesn’t love a story about successful entrepreneurship,
except say maybe Fidel Castro? (Who has been around in those
battle fatigues—which given his age are starting to
look like pajamas—through 11 U.S. Presidents, and it’s
starting to piss us off…but we digress).
Anyway, good movie… evil company. And
in bullet point summation, here’s what we discovered
that led us to this conclusion and why we are no longer members.
• If someone sends you a picture,
one that you never even requested, you cannot remove it
without their permission. Swear! And in our case, that
permission wasn’t granted, for reasons absurdly
misunderstood, but that’s neither here nor there.
• You cannot change your marital
status from “Married” to “Single”
without the knowledge of “the ex,” who must
be informed of your doing so.
We learned this when we tried to update
our profile, essentially, for the hell of it. We have
no intention now entering the world of “singlehood,”
of seeking out dates on line. (See aforementioned comments
on privacy). Also, since we hadn’t checked it out
since day one, we were curious to see what we had said
about ourselves upon joining.
You can however, designate yourself as “Separated”
without the ex needing to be being informed of it. But
to list oneself as “Separated” is tantamount
to saying: “My life is a mess. I’m going through
much upheaval…associate with at your own risk.”
As our life is actually very well “heavaled,”
this implicit descriptive is one we could do without.
• Where’s the “I Quit”
button? Certainly we couldn’t find it. Where does
one click to immediately discontinue membership? So we
had to contact our daughter for some direction on this,
and she gave us this precious and little known link. http://www.wikihow.com/Permanently-Delete-a-Facebook-Account
And now, presumably, we will have to be killed.
• They give you two weeks to change your mind!
So while putting you in limbo in which you are inaccessible—one
woman thought we had “de-friended” her when
she tried to contact us and there was nothing indicating
that we were in the act of quitting altogether—they
give you 14 days before making it final. As if you will
come to your senses and not do something this drastic
without proper counsel. (We even got a five day extension
if we’re not mistaken). They do this BECAUSE…
• Once you leave Facebook
you can NEVER rejoin. (Unless under a pseudonym).
So let’s see… Roman Polanski
can come back into the country, but one can never be let
back into the nation of Facebook? Fair enough.
And it came to pass that the two weeks
were up and we were free. And while it may be hard to
believe, there have been no withdrawal symptoms. And this
in the “face” of the fact that there aren’t
any 12-step Facebook Anonymous programs to help
you get through this. You’ve gotta’ go it
Shockingly perhaps, we are still leading
productive lives. And even if we might have to resort
to the old fashioned way of meeting women—like picking
them up in bars with nifty opening lines—we’re
ok with that. The point is, we had to save face. And no
longer on Facebook… we can look at ourselves
in the mirror each morning while shaving.
Brevity is the
We live in an age of texting
with all it’s attendant typos
and lack of proper punctuation
u knw what I mean