Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sunday Memories: Neither Snow nor Rain nor Heat nor Gloom of Night ...Until Suddenly...

None of us really understood that things were changing for Florence.   She seemed as she always had been.

Teaching cooking walking arguing fuming eating investigating practicing devouring life intrepidly…sallying forth into the world as the force of nature that she was.

The rare cracks were easy to ignore.  More often than not they looked like the mishaps and mistakes we all make.

Until suddenly…

This was the first crack I wanted to ignore.

On the corner of 6th Street and Avenue A.  Heading home after teaching a piano student.  Between her and the curb a pile of snow dumped high from the recent storm.

Suddenly she couldn't traverse it. Suddenly she didn't know what to do.

Suddenly she was old.

And then suddenly some young men came up behind her, picked her up, carried her over the mound and gently placed her on solid sidewalk before vanishing into the crowd.

Telling me this on the phone after, she laughed and laughed and laughed about it because the joy of that sudden flight erased the sudden reality she could not longer climb her own mountains.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

"Welcome to my place...."

Just like those long ago days when Florence brought in a crowd to her living room to try new things test old work play just play because it was all that matter... in a walk-up apartment on the upper West Side, chairs were put out... was devoured

...neighbors, friends, strangers gathered...

...and the host welcomed us to a night of music.

Then the singer began to sing...

...all those songs Florence listened to during dissolving afternoons and that very last night.

For a brief moment I was home. Back in Her New York.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sunday Memories: Stairway to Heaven

This was the stairway to friends' homes. This was the stairway to where art was attempted. This was the stairway to normal get-togethers. This was the stairways to places that sold what we needed to buy to accomplish what we were attempting to accomplish. This was the stairway to what we all struggled to accomplish. This was the stairway that was normal to climb to wherever we were going.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

In Search Of Great Hotels

City Of Strangers returned to Hotel 17 and those days of home and haven that had a texture now rarely found in most neighborhoods.

Several weeks ago, walking back from a job I never thought I'd excel at, I saw where I had once hoped to live.

It was called the Pioneer. It didn't look this good then.

My father bought a car when we were teenagers so he could keep his job which had been transfered to Long Island, a place people moved to but didn't work in.

Occassionally we used the car for family outings which produced as much dread as staying home. As the car would bump across Broome Street toward some portal out of Manhattan I'd stare at the Pioneer Hotel sign wondering if I could run away there. Close enough to home that I could escape to the hotel by foot but offering a promise of my own portal out of one place and into hope.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Thank You East Village Corner!

Because of a barrage of spammers I created moderator approval on all comments. I still received comments but made sure they weren't offering to do different things to different body parts I didn't have.

I'm not sure how, but within the last week or so "post a comment" was removed entirely. Melanie of East Village Corner pointed this out to me which explained the total silence and did relieved me a bit of the fear I had grown stale and boring. Perhaps there might be some truth in that, but the lack of comments was due to a technical glitch.

I've corrected this so please feel free to comment, say hello, muse, reminisce, or say nothing at all. And I shall go back to worrying about everything I write and do.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Times Square On Valentine's Day

Everyone was snapping pictures.

Trying, like me, to capture smoke in their hands.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sunday Memories: The Hand That Fed

Thirty years ago I met Morgan. She wasn't from New York but she moved through my city as its eyes, a witness to its private corners and secret worlds and painful revolution that soon became joyous mainstream. Her hands danced a ballet with her cameras and when decades later I got up enough nerve to pick up a camera my hands danced as hers did. After all, her hands had, for a long long time, been the only role models I ever had.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Like Florence, I was never very comfortable with shiny lobbies and pretty marble granite stone fronts. They always felt like an insincere compliment from someone who didn't even care enough to really dislike me. Instead, in the back, admidst the sculpture of fire escapes, air ducts and bare brick was the relief of being told the truth.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Picture I Could Take, The Pictures I Couldn't

The children looked old enough to be grandparents but each face was a younger mirror of the elderly person clinging to their arm. There was no way I could ask to take a picture ...

...the tall patrician woman with her equally independent mother,no matter how she tried, now unable to walk a few steps without help,

...the man, still looking like an eight year old, but now encased in middle aged weight and wear and tear, his mother now tinier, more frightened than he ever was sitting next to each other her feet not touching the floor.

... the man, sitting alone, maybe didn't have children or did but they didn't know that thousand of miles away his comfort was the hellos of the nursing staff who knew him well and asked how his day was as he waited to be seen.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sunday Memories: Memory Lane

Old enough to be her mother, I watched the illusion of being cutting edge and all the booze being sold for too much money, while listening to many decades of my life in her smug self-loathing and complaints of life having passed her by at age 24.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

A Day In The Life


another surprise another loss

men meet in afternoon hallways

brief breath at end of day

evening parking strategies


five New Yorker waiting for dinner

deep morning

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Guest Artist Dana: The Gift That Kept On Giving

PLEASE NOTE: A dress cost $25 in 1949.


An old friend sent my husband a holiday gift of two somber neckties from Sulka, the prestigious menswear store on Park Avenue. George wouldn’t wear either of them, even to a funeral, for fear of looking like the chief pall bearer.

So I decided to return them and cash them in. But Sulka, gracious to accept the return, would not give me cash. “We do not handle cash, Madame, just credit cards,” they explained. Instead, they gave me a gift certificate for $60.

I gave George the gift certificate and suggested he visit Sulka himself and choose something else.

“You choose,” he said. So I tried.

But polo shirts were $80 each and other items were equally above the value of the certificate. Then we decided to give the gift certificate to my father on his 55th birthday. He was flattered, but he in turn gave it to my brother on his 35th birthday.

When George’s birthday came around, the next September – lo and behold – my brother sent him the Sulka certificate, by now a bit ragged from age. One certificate had solved everyone’s gift problem.

So once again, I went back to Sulka’s and only had to add $20 to the certificate to buy my husband two pairs of woollen socks from Scotland. They were by far the most beautiful luxurious and warm socks he would ever own.

That is, until the moths got into them. The moths had good taste.


Other short works by Dana:

Wisdom of the Ages