Thursday, April 29, 2010

Part Eight: A View From A Kitchen

A View From A Kitchen is a series on what meets our eye when we look up from our dirty dishes or half-full coffee cup.

Rebecca and Tim*

When I was ten or 11 years old, I became obsessed with the movie "Crossing Delancey." I'd never been to New York, and my only knowledge of the Lower East Side came from how it was portrayed in the film: as a gray, sooty place crowded with old Jews and handball courts. It didn't look particularly pretty, but it fascinated me, a kid growing up in the leafy confines of a Midwestern college town. Shortly after watching the movie, I drew a picture of a woman buying oranges from a neighborhood sidewalk vendor. She was dressed like the film's protagonist, but in my mind, she was me, or the me I someday hoped to be.

Shortly after I moved into my apartment, I realized that I'd moved into the picture I'd drawn over two decades earlier. I'm reminded of this every time I look out my kitchen window, which provides an unfettered view of the Williamsburg Bridge, the streets and trees that crowd below it, and the yellow brick towers that loom above it. That view places me unequivocally on the Lower East Side, and, as with the movie, allows me to observe New York through a heavily edited filter. I forecast the day's weather based upon the number of people on the bridge, know it's the Sabbath by the crowds of Hasidic families pushing strollers against an oncoming tide of fitness enthusiasts, and at night am reminded of the city's relentless, mysterious energy by the sight of the train rumbling to Brooklyn and back, lit up like an incandescent caterpillar against the darkening sky. On rainy days, the view from my kitchen window allows me to imagine I'm in a New York that otherwise only exists to me in Steiglitz photographs.

It is, in other words, my link to the past, both one that I never experienced and one in which I dreamed that my future would somehow be made in this city that at the time was as unreachable as a movie set, as alluring as tropical fruit glimpsed from a busy sidewalk.


*Post Script: Rebecca and Tim are the new eyes who look out the old windows of Florence's apartment. Those windows couldn't have been luckier.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Part Seven: A View From A Kitchen

A View From A Kitchen is a series on what meets our eye when we look up from our dirty dishes or half-full coffee cup.


You mean the Empire State Building?

Then there’s the bridge.

And the blue bottles – they’re European water bottles.

And the people rushing across the bridge.

At night it’s spectacular. They [at the Empire State Building] observe all the holidays.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sunday Memories: Part Six: A View From A Kitchen

A View From A Kitchen is a series on what meets our eye when we look up from our dirty dishes or half-full coffee cup.

Riverside Drive

I have been visiting this home for 38 years. I didn't realize that until I pulled out the calculator.

It was just a home I was often invited into and one time when I was 17 or 18 I lived here caring for the youngest daughter, one of my closest friends then, while she was sick and her parents had to go away. I did the shopping and the cleaning and, although I can't remember this, I must have done the cooking because I remember doing the dishes by this view as intimately as I remember doing the dishes by the view at Florence's.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Des Becker Roses

This Sunday, six artists will gather in an old parlor of a beautiful turn-of-the-century home to sell some of their most beautiful works.

Hand Dyed Silk Scarves, by Colin Houlder Designs

One-of-a-kind jewelry of precious, semi-precious gems, gold, silver, austrian crystals, antique pen nibs & pearls by Alina Neganova

Amulet bags with crystals, stones and beads molded from hand dyed batik fabric by Barbara Zernov

Lilly Recht (age 11) sells fashionable and recyclable duct tape bags.

Porcelain dinner ware, serving pieces, oversized coffee and tea mugs, iridescent glass bird baths and other ceramic marvels by Claire Des Becker

Haramaki (belly warmers), yoga cushions, tick repellent and hand-made lip balms for all seasons by Sharon Kimmelman

Des Becker Birdbath

I asked Claire Des Becker about the origins of her parlor sales:

I held successful yearly artists' sales, twice a year for 10 years in my large ceramics studio. The parlor sales began after my husband and I move into our 120 year old house in Manhattan.

Artists like and need to educate people about their work. In a world of mass produced goods people need to understand why the handmade item is special.

Now, with money less available for extra things people are delighted to be able to buy often museum quality items, at the artists' best prices. These same items may be found in department stores and galleries, but there is a huge markup in the stores and galleries because the overheard is high.

Artists and and clients enjoy each others' company and have a good time in the non-pressured comfort of my parlor twice a year. I am truly pleased to host this event.

(Mothers’ and Special Others’ Sale)

Date: Sunday, April 25

Time: 1:30 pm.-5:30pm.

Location: 126 Manhattan Avenue, between 105th and 106th Street
(just off Central Park West and behind the chateau)

Refreshments served.

Des Becker Roses #3

Part Five: A View From A Kitchen

A View From A Kitchen is a series on what meets our eye when we look up from our dirty dishes or half-full coffee cup.


I don't often sit at my kitchen window in the morning with my coffee--if I'm imbibing caffeine I'm either writing, working at the latest editing gig, or catching up with My Private Coney and other blogs. What I will do is when stuck on a scene, or tired from squinting at commas, I walk restlessly through my apartment, and I will stand at my kitchen window and look out, catching the drift of the clouds, the look of the newest green shoots on the garden below, the cheery red-headed whatever-they-are birds at the feeder on the fire escape. It's my way to leave my body and get some peace. To fugeddabout myself.

Seeing sky is crucial for me--just as I feel closed in by something, panicked or unhappy, a scan of clouds or blue blueness or the distant Empire State Building keeps me, well, nicer. Note the new fucking condo to the left, which cut into my sky. MY sky! Anyway, at least it's a light color. If I squint my eyes, it looks like a desert bluff.

The growing garden below. I pretend to be God and make flowers and plants grow where I want them. There's a stray cat down there sleeping because he has sex nightly. Go forth and multiply, saith the Lord.

The birds also cheer me up--some kind of sparrow that's scrappy but melodious, with a bright red head that becomes almost fluorescent red in the summer. Writing, a compulsion, can be dismal or incandescent, but it's solitary. These birds remind me there are beings who exist, happily, to eat, drink, and fornicate. Amen.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Part Four: A View From A Kitchen

A View From A Kitchen is a series on what meets our eye when we look up from our dirty dishes or half-full coffee cup.

Smoke and Gaslight

I like to call it the mystery window. The cut of my apartment house limits the full view so I can only get partial views of people coming and going. It actually helps with the imagination. A quick glimpse of a sleeve or an echo of a voice can tell me which of my neighbors are walking out on their way to who knows where. Or if I see the rake of my neighbor propped against the opposite wall, I know that spring is here and she is about to replant the garden with a skill and mastery perfected over 50 years that I could never get right. Kids running a hundred miles an hour as they race to the center of the courtyard bounce by as I sit at my kitchen table.

One of my first memories moving into my home was of the bright stream of sunshine that starts as a peek through the blinds in the early morning, gradually growing till it spills into my living room. Light in other parts of my home doesn’t radiate that way. And it is a welcome start to the day as I race out to whatever surprises await me once I open my door.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sunday Memories: Part Three: A View From A Kitchen

A View From A Kitchen is a series on what meets our eye when we look up from our dirty dishes or half-full coffee cup.


What possessed me at 9 or 12 to snap square pictures of our home?

But a brief moment and quick snap of a mundane occurrence now remembers how Florence practiced her cello in the kitchen by the old radiator in front of the view that looked out on tougher projects and the playground under the old bridge.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Part Two: A View From A Kitchen

A View From A Kitchen is a series on what meets our eye when we look up from our dirty dishes or half-full coffee cup.

City Of Strangers

The kitchen itself is amazing, but the view is not.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Part One: A View From A Kitchen

A View From A Kitchen is a series on what meets our eye when we look up from our dirty dishes or half-full coffee cup.


I've looked out my windows for eleven years and watched piece after piece fall from the solar frame. Some hung on by rust alone but withstood a guy with a metal saw who tried for a day to cut them down. The buildings behind and to the left of the panels have grown by two illegal floors, one shut down and leaving hanging streamers of blue tape and open windows, the other legally required to demolish but still renting unimpeded.

The tragedy is that the flock of pigeons no longer wheel and swoop in to roost on the cross-bars, too many predators in the sky. One day last summer there were an unbelievable five hawks circling above, barely visible.

When that structure comes down I may have to leave, it's the last abstraction in my view.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sunday Memories: All Roads Lead To...

A rare destination, once in a while my father would shepherd us over for one small piece of a cannoli.

The pastry is still utterly exquisite and now I can go as often as I want.

Caffe Roma Pastry‎
385 Broome Street
New York, NY 10013-3961
(212) 226-8413‎

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Sunday In The Park With Springtime

The kids fed the pigeons.

We fed ourselves.

The daphadils attempted surival

And while the men gambled below, yet another fight scene for yet another student film got rehearsed.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

It Was Our New York

All four of us from different corners. Still, even if the streets barely look the same anymore, the feeling of returning home to landsmannes words pouring out most of them 'fuck' and crossing wherever we want against the light at Olympic paced charges that were barely a stroll in our childhood neighborhoods.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Sunday Memories: A Cup Full Of No Memory

It's not the cup reminding me of the home I thought I was going to share with a promise of marriage.

It's not the cup reminding me Florence never went beyond Grand Street with her dreams.

It's not the cup reminding me of my own diaspora.

It's not the the cup reminding me of the shot in the dark at the possibility of new.

It's a new cup with a cartoon character I rarely saw as a kid who lived in a neighborhood I've never been to and all it reminds me of is a wonderful friendship that always opens up into doubled over laughing so hard while stumbling through the hell of words often referred to as the Joy of Writing.

Friday, April 2, 2010


Mike Thomas, of The Blog Interviewer was kind enough to invite MY PRIVATE CONEY PRESENTS IT WAS HER NEW YORK to answer questions about the blog and about blogging in general.

Thank you, Mike!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Luke Wouldn't Have Been Invited To The Tea Party But He Would Have Been Welcomed Here

On a rainy, cold Sunday afternoon in Williamsburg, strangers trundled down a staircase to the Sandbox's very comfortable basement, and ate mint jelly candies and unsalted popcorn while sitting patiently through technical difficulties. It was worth it. Because for a couple of hours we all felt hope for our country.

Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled.

Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man.

But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry. Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep.

Capitalism: A Love Story