Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Regrets of the Day

I didn't know until I walked by.

All these men were picking up pots and putting down pans and talking that fierce kind of talk that involves business and money and making deals and doing it fast.

I knew the place by its TV screens at the bar with every sports game on it and its outdoor seating where the whole neighborhood hung out during the summer with baby strollers and tons of hopeful little dogs under the tables.

I would pass by, looking for one of my favorite friends who often ate there during summer weeknights.   But I never ate there myself.

Perhaps it was fear of the onion rings. Or the noise of the street.  Or getting too involved with the game, or the little dogs.

Or the onion rings.

But just the other day, I looked at those tables outside (the upside of global warming) and thought, why not!  The Mariner and I should have dinner there some night!

Lo.  It is not to be.

Mumbles, after 22 years in the neighborhood, is packing up and another restaurant is moving in.  Lots of reasons, they told Town and Village, including rent and not enough people supporting family-owned/run neighborhood spots.

Well, the Mariner and I do, just below 14th Street.  Perhaps it was time to expand the territory. 

I watched more stuff get picked up and piled high and more men talk fiercely the way they do when they are making deals and talking money.  Then I spied the plants.

Are you taking them, I asked one of the busier guys making piles and deals.

"Oh yes, definitely," he said laughing.

So.  I did walk by too many times, never stopping by.  But who knows?  Perhaps one of those pots or the plants will begin a new life in a neighborhood restaurant.  And perhaps this time I'll stop by.

Related Posts:

Town &Village Blog:  Mumbles Restaurant Closes

EV Grieve: Mumbles Has Closed on 3rd Avenue

You Could Even Hear the Food

Saturday, February 6, 2016

We Regret To Inform: St. Mark's Bookstore
Soon to Become a Sunday Memory

The store closes its doors Wednesday evening.

Everything is 50% off (except cards and consignment books).

Jeremiah's Vanishing New York documents its valiant struggles to remain one of the most important independent bookstores in New York here.

As Jeremiah said so well in his blog, there are no words left that could do justice to such a great loss.

St. Mark's Books
136 East 3rd Street
New York Fucking City

Related Posts:

The End of St. Mark's Books

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Blessed Journey and Safe Travels

That man is getting on the bus because, even though she had just pulled away from the curb, that bus driver opened the door for him.

That's the kind of bus driver she is.

A few seconds of passing forward some good equaled a whole day of goodness for others.  I know.  I watched her the the entire way up from Fulton to 14th Street, saying hello to passengers, telling the man with the cane to take his time, answering the girl who was carrying on a simultaneous conversation on her phone about what stop was best to get to the hospital. 

And the one that meant the most to me - tell the crossing guard at 3rd Street not to rush the elderly man caught as the light changed.  "No, let him cross, let him cross," she called to the crossing guard and then she waited, because a light turning green or red was not as important as an elderly man who clearly couldn't walk faster than really slow but who needed to get to the other side of the street.

And because the bus driver told the crossing guard to let him cross, the crossing guard went out into the middle of the street and guided that old man safely to the corner. 

That meant the most.  All the times people helped Florence as she stumbled through a city she once ruled, suddenly beyond her disappearing capacities... bus drivers, train conductors, other passengers, passer-bys, Maria at the hospital who fed her.   New Yorkers heart and soul.....

"God is good," the bus driver told me as I got off the bus.

So are you, I said.

Related Posts:

A Visit to the Hospital: Part Two

Neither Rain, Nor Sleet, Nor Gloom of Night...Until Suddenly...

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

An Encore of What's the Bottom Line:
The Song Remains The Same, Revisited

At a social event, the Mariner and I found ourselves huddled with a man we had just met, talking in shorthand about the moments where nothing mattered except holding the hand of the person you loved.  

This man was holding his woman's hand a lot these days.  There wasn't much to say except a couple of yes's and fierce nodding.  

In honor of the only moments that matter...

Originally posted August 6, 2013 

I recognized the number of the four missed calls right away.   It was the ER.

Rushing through dark, summer streets was like listening to a familiar song sung by someone new.   Even if it was only a dog bite on the arm and the dog had had its shots, having to step back into old space that had been the many cracks of a broken heart required a calm that wasn't there anymore.

The place was packed.  And the night, just like all those past nights, began.

"We got 160 patients so we're a little behind."
"Full moon."

"Maxwell! Good news!  You don't have an infection."

"Can anyone spare a blanket, miss could I have a blanket oh god bless you..."

"No, it's not broken."
"Sir, it's broken."
"No, it's not broken."

 "Where are my Cantonese, Mandarin speakers?"

"I had him just a minute ago and I lost him."

"Martha?  Martha?  Is Martha here?  Are you Martha?  No?"

"Usually, Monday is the busy day, everybody in for their work notes.  Monday and Tuesday were very quiet this week and I thought, uh oh the storm is coming."

"Oh they have people much worse than me.  They just intubated someone over there a few minutes ago."

"Do you want some chocolate?"

"They were shooting nails at each other, I asked them why were you shooting nails at each other?"

"I stopped telling my parents what I see because then they say, this is what you went to school for?"

 "Can I have a glass a water, miss can you spare a glass of water oh god bless you..."

Related Posts:

The ER Visit - Part One: Begin the Beguine

The ER Visit - Part Two: The Walls Of Jericho

A Visit To The Hospital: Part One

A Visit To The Hospital: Part Two

The ER Visit - Part Three: Welcome to His ER California

The Song Remains The Same
 Days Like This

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Sunday Memories of Being at Home with Fish

After months of summarizing horrifying atrocities and political nightmares, returning home took weeks.  Even if I was already inside the apartment.

It was the gathering of pieces and reconnecting heart and soul molecules that took time.   Sleep helped but only so far.

Sometimes it was watching a British reality show where you could watch babies after babies after babies being born.   Sometimes that worked.

Other times it was watching documentaries about eccentric artists or stand-up comedians or visionaries.

But there was this one time, where the only thing that worked was curling up on a kitchen chair and watching every Barney Miller I could find on youtube. 

Morning coffee in hand, 12 hours would suddenly pass.  I did this for weeks.  Nothing much else happened.  Just heart and soul coming back together into a recognizable sense of self.

I didn't give much thought as to why or how or the deeper meaning.  I just soaked up every second of every story line, every actor, every character actor...

Just recently, in the midst of horrifying atrocities and political nightmares, every day announced another obituary.   It was almost like dominoes falling ... Bowie, Jean Stapleton, Paul Kantner, Glenn Frey, Alan Rickman...

...and then it was Abe Vigoda.  Detective Fish on Barney Miller. 

And why and how I had lived in Barney Miller for all those weeks suddenly became crystal clear.  

That show was filled with the accents, the rhythms, the grammar (or lack thereof) of all the people who were the adults when I was only a kid, the adults when I was only a young adult... the adults I was a peer with... 

It was where I returned to the city I remembered, the streets I ran a little wild in, the friends I missed.

 Like Det. Fish and Yemana (Jack Soo whose voice I knew intimately from my beat-up vinyl record of Flower Drum Song). 

They were where I could hear and see my New York again.  And when I was in pieces, they showed me the way back to that home, back to a heart and soul I grew up with. 

Related Posts:

Happiness Is Where the Heart Is and the Heart Is Always Home

Barney Miller

Sunday Memories: When the City Was A Black and White Photograph

Thursday, January 28, 2016

It Was His New York Story: Ed Hamilton

Ed Hamilton has been telling the story of our city for a long, long time.

If he hadn't started posting about the Chelsea Hotel, its heart and soul would have been destroyed, along with the murals and the art and the stories and the tenants and the mom and pop stores and the affordable housing and the theater and so many, too many independent bookstores.

All those stories were gathered into Legends of the Chelsea Hotel, a book that defied obliteration. 

And he hasn't stopped.   In seven short stories and one novella, Ed's new book, The Chintz Age, goes deep into our heart and soul's attempt to survive in our changed city and our disappearing home.

Last Friday, at Bluestocking Bookstore, one of the last independent, radical bookstores in the United States we got to hear our stories.  At least for me, when I hear such stories, even ones that tell me of my loss or of my struggles, I defy obliteration.

Go here and find out where Ed is reading again or where you can buy online if you are not in where he is.

Or, go to Bluestockings and buy his book and while you are there, get some coffee, sit for a while and remember real New York.

Related Posts:

Ed Hamilton

Bluestockings Bookstore

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Radical Acceptance

This is Bluestockings.  It is one of only 13 radical bookstores left in the United States - 100% volunteer-powered and collectively-owned, fair trade cafe and activist center.

And the best books and reading series in the city!

This is Vittoria repetto, the hardest working guinea butch dyke poet on the lower east side.

Her poems have always stopped me in my tracks and changed my life.  I keep one near my desk to remember how a heart goes on...

She started the Women’s and Trans’ Poetry Jam series in 1999.

And 17 years later it is still going strong.   Once a month on a Tuesday night at 7pm the mike opens (women and trans only) and no matter whether you have been writing for years or just started that afternoon you can face an audience and read your stuff.

And no matter what, that mike is open and it's welcoming.  At least for eight minutes.

And at 8pm two featured writers/artists are invited to step up to that mike.  And no matter what, that mikes is open and it's welcoming.

The series flourishes at Bluestockings.  Only in a radical bookstore could a radical reading series flourish.  And because of that writers so rarely heard from get to step up to that mike and change the world.

This Tuesday, 26 January will be no different.

Women’s & Trans’ Poetry Jam
172 Allen Street (between Stanton and Rivingston)

$5 suggested donation

Open mike at 7pm. 

Featured writers:

C.O. Moed and Alyssa K. Harley

C.O. Moed's WIRE MONKEY: it’s almost the 1980’s and Bets, all of almost nineteen, once again gets jettisoned from the ancestral home on Columbia and Broome. With nowhere to go she returns to her second home – the East Village, determined to start a new life, if you call stealing, getting drunk on St. Patty’s day, selling rings door to door, punching your best friend in the face and selling off the family possessions starting a new life.

Alyssa K. Harley’s project seeks meaning based in the music of the English language. What she has searched for most is how to create a sense of real evidence through art of the absolute smallest of hopes, the ones that matter.

Related Posts: