April 2011


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 Plazahaving 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” daysand 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
Enrico Caruso
                      George Herman Ruth
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.


                         —Ron Vazzano





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.

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 alone.

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 Soul Of


We live in an age of texting
with all it’s attendant typos
and lack of proper punctuation
u knw what I mean
and so

          —Ron Vazzano





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