Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Operative Word Was "AND"

On the eve Of Dana's 91st year Chinese food was ordered up.

There was no choosing this OR that. There was only AND.

So curry shrimp AND eggplant, dumplings AND spareribs, hot and sour soup AND wonton. And when they offered a free dish or soda, we all voted for the dish. AND sesame chicken. AND two kinds of apple pastries. AND rugelah....


So we ate as we wished, as much as we wanted and in the case of the spare ribs as much as we could.

The ridiculous OR and the arbitrary NO, that stupid CAN'T - all those inconsiderate words that pushed delight and pleasure into tiny boxes and corseted moments were finally defeated. This birthday year would be the year of the AND.

AND Polly the cat agreed.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sunday Memories: It Was Their New York

Bleeker Street

Where in 1975 he found he had a sharp wit hanging with his buddy from the bookstore they both worked at.

The Lincoln Center Library for the Performing Arts

Where I hid from everyone in 1972 and 1973 and 1974, listening to records on industrial record players with thick, heavy headphones.

The Bohemian National Hall

What we found on an adventure through a city we grew up in but at different times and in different neighborhoods.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Treasure Hunting

On a rare walk around the Upper East Side, there it was.

Just like the many once scattered across Manhattan, it was filled with hundreds of nooks and crannies filled with thousands of possibilities.

Found tonight in the Mystery Shop was a pretty pink and orange satchel stuffed with two glass canisters all for $10, a pair of much needed oxfords for $10, two ties, both silk, one a Ralph Lauren the other a Calvin Klein, $3 each, a pair of metal framed reading glasses that wouldn't break like the plastic ones for $3 and a green leather belt with real leather for $7.

Even the pet carrier for $10 was worth the risk Jupiter wouldn't fit in it (he didn't) and how, if he didn't, it could then be donated to the shelter that just moved to 2nd Street. No matter what you didn't know you needed, it was there waiting to be discovered and uncovered.

While we divided up our new belongings, neighbors came and went, saying hello to Grant the owner and asking questions about the lamp they hoped was still there or if he had any coins to sell for a collector's birthday present. I knew it was time to leave when I had to fight the impulse to buy the naked Barbies for $3 each.

Later, in the the local bar next door, the three patrons and the barkeep talked about what they had tucked away at the Mystery Shop and how they needed to get back there one day to pick up their treasures.

The Mystery Shop
1672 First Avenue
between 87th and 88th Street

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Year Of The Dragon

A student, probably one of the Chinese students from the Baruch Houses on the other side of the bridge, gave this dragon to Florence one year.

Word had gotten around in that immigrant enclave in the projects that an elderly teacher in Amalgamated on Broome Street gave $5 piano lessons to children and adults. By the end of her life, the majority of her student were Chinese-born or their children who were Chinese-American.

She offered the dragon to me at some point in the decline of her teaching. The ability to remember what each and every student was working on that week without reviewing her notes was no longer reliable and her knowledge of each family member and sibling terrifyingly erratic. It was OK to call me 'Louise' or 'Seymour' or 'YOU!' but to not remember a student's name was unacceptable.

There is a favorite Buddhist Gosho that states the call of the Sutra is like the roar of the lion. Therefore, what obstacle can't be overcome? This little dragon, which has resided on my alter since the day she gave it to me, is as close to a lion as I have. It reminds me not just to roar with fearlessness at the many real and imagined obstacles I face, but to roar in honor of Florence.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sunday Memories: A Tale Of Two Brothers

From different cities and different worlds, the four daughters of the two brothers have all taken turns visiting, each one of us stepping into quiet worlds of indeterminate memories, bringing whatever gift we have left to give.

My sister attempting to celebrate our father's birthday, one rarely reached without people applauding, flew all night, strategizing paper plates, store bought cake and a car ride up and down a single hill, while I once again became a daily audience to his fading looped attempts to hold onto his daily life.

And hours away, one daughter sends weekly emails from the other side of a day, read aloud by a nurse to her father, my uncle ...

...while his other daughter hours and miles from her home was briefly remembered by him when he saw the shape of her nose.

Yet somehow, through the haze of a descending night, these two brothers still remember that they call each other 'bro' and that they both love cars. My father remembers his brother lives in a nursing home and my uncle remembers they took his watch away once he settled there.

They remember birthdays with a ferociousness that defy the fact one told me that joke two minutes ago and the other said he visited with a beloved brother-in-law dead for decades just the other week.

And still remembered, bedridden and fed institutional meals, is Kashrut and the choice to have chicken and milk because "I don't observe the laws".

In this silent devastation, minds leaving bodies that hold fiercely to the idea of another meal or another joke, an unexpected blessing unfolds. The brutal childhood, the broken marriages, the raging tempers, the failed attempts at love, the heartbreak of a disappointing life occasionally become the old world, a distant shore, a vague memory.

So we four daughters of two brothers from different cities and different worlds hold the memories once spat out in pain or fear or rage or lectures, while the two brothers may or may not remember our visits.

Related posts:

It Was His California

Sunday Memories: The First Home

Sunday Memories: A Winter Coat

Thursday, January 19, 2012

RAIN DELAY: Thursday Post

Due to travel, there will be no Thursday post. Stay tune for Sunday Memories this coming January 22nd. Meanwhile, enjoy Tuesday's post of Guest Blogger Ted Krever's Staten Island. And if you are in the neighborhood, hop the ferry and enjoy the most beautiful harbor in the world.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Guest Artist: Ted - The Subway In The Parking Lot

They took the subway car out of Golden’s Deli today.

Golden’s wasn’t Katz’s, where Smitty took me a couple of months ago. But it was a real kosher deli on Staten Island, where knishes and pastrami aren’t as automatic as in the rest of New York City. And Golden’s was a family business that was thriving on Staten Island when I first got here, which is more than twenty years ago.

Their food was good but the magic, when my son was growing up, was the subway car – an ancient monstrosity with 200 coats of icky tan paint, overhead fans, wicker seats and tables inset under posters for Virginia Slims cigarettes, Ali vs. Frazier on Pay Per View television (!) and Elvis in Concert.

A quick online search suggests it’s an IND R1-R9 train, built (it says here) between 1930-1940, a line that soldiered on until the 70′s.

I remember both the cars and the posters. My son had no such memories—the car might as well have been built for Charlemagne, as far as he was concerned. What he knew was he could get a really good burger and thick crinkle-cut fries and sit in a subway car while eating them! The thrill was there when he was 10 and coping with his parent’s divorce and it was there a year or two ago, when he was 6’5″, in college and into video games and filmmaking.

So it was dizzying on several levels to see that subway car in the middle of a parking lot at 9 this morning. It was a piece of my life yanked out of place.

The crew attached chains to pull the thing onto a flatbed truck. Where’s it going? I asked the foreman. Brooklyn, he said. To storage. The family is looking for another location but, in the meantime, have to have a place for it. Is this the biggest thing you’ve ever moved? No way, he said, voice rising, we move everything. You name it, we move it. We move whole buildings, jack ‘em up, move ‘em all over.

the chain broke a second later

A minute later, the chain pulling at the nose of the car snapped and thick metal pieces flew Godknowswhere. The crewman started laughing and pointing at the driver. ‘You said it wouldn’t hold!’ he said and the driver puffed up a bit, being right and all.

They replaced the chains with stronger ones and pulled again and this time, got the job done. As I was walking away, the foreman was on the phone to someone, saying ‘You’re escorting us, right? Okay, a few minutes, you’re escorting us.’

The owner of the Deli walked by – I asked him if he wanted to be in the photo. He shook his head. “It’s not a happy day for us,” he said. It’s an old story—the strip mall raised the rent so now the Deli’s just another empty storefront, to be replaced, surely, by some chain store that will shrug off the cost and add to the creeping sameness of America.

But what I felt, watching them haul that subway car onto the flatbed, is my son living now in Virginia while another of the places I connected with him is on a flatbed truck, heading for storage.


Originally posted on January 11, 2012 at tedkrever.com/blog.

tedkrever.com is participating in the internet strike on January 18, 2012. His site will resume normal function January 19, 2012.


Ted Krever writes books and was once accused of attempting to blow up Ethel Kennedy with a Super-8 projector.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Guest Artist: Rob - Sunday Memories - The Look Of Love

While my private coney pictures is on the road this week, Rob Pappagallo will Guest Artist It Was Her New York with occasional writings from mpc. Thank you, Rob!!!

Robert Pappagallo is a native New Yorker who goes around shooting his city.

This photo may not be used without permission from Robert Pappagallo

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Guest Artist: Rob - Perseverance

While my private coney pictures is on the road this week, Rob Pappagallo will Guest Artist It Was Her New York with occasional writings from mpc. Thank you, Rob!!!

Robert Pappagallo is a native New Yorker who goes around shooting his city.

This photo may not be used without permission from Robert Pappagallo

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Guest Artist: Rob - Proof That There Is...

While my private coney pictures is on the road this week, Rob Pappagallo will Guest Artist It Was Her New York with occasional writings from mpc. Thank you, Rob!!!

Robert Pappagallo is a native New Yorker who goes around shooting his city.

This photo may not be used without permission from Robert Pappagallo

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sunday Memories: The Greatest Gift Of All

We met when we were young but thought we were old, me 28, him 31, both of us going through the throes of what we thought were world-weary adulthood-ness like divorce and break-ups and love and children and responsibility and dreams and writing. Always writing.

We managed to stay friends even though the sentence he heard most from me was "you're wrong". Being a black belt in karate, he was grounded and sane and very much at peace so he'd just smile, laugh and go "Ok". That's what black belt karate guys do - they shrug you off because they don't need to prove how many different ways they can kick your ass in.

But it wasn't just his gentle acceptance of my furious little Lower East Side verbal fists that just had to be punching something. It was his gentle welcome into his life and thus life itself, asking me to stand witness to new marriages and new homes and then one day new life itself.

I got to watch that rare moment that happens a billion times a day but when you're watching it is the only time it ever happened ever. I got to witness the birth of his daughter. I got to see that moment when that little being appeared and I suddenly knew her, knew her fully as a person, there was a perfect, full person inside that itty bitty baby body.

I carry that moment around as a talisman, like the words of a song by Iron and Wine that paints in words the moment our heart opens - "like babies want God's love". Even as a Buddhist these words are the only ones that could possible describe the second we met.

And here years later over tea and a noticeable decrease of me telling him he's wrong, I watch him talk to that perfect girl, now 15 and dressing in clothes from the worst era of all fashion, the 1980s and I hear song words in my head of a gift, just like babies that want God's love.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Writer Cat

He has become a bit too big to jump up on the desk so now I have to pick him. He is on a diet even if he doesn't know it.

However, once there he does what he always has done since he moved in.

Makes himself comfortable.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Sunday Memories: "I...I will begin again..."*

My father, me and Florence on New Year's Day at Coney Island

Was going to Coney Island on New Year's Day a regular tradition? I can't quite remember, but I remember this one in particular. I was in fifth grade and had broken my arm. So only one arm was in the coat sleeve. The other was stuffed inside my coat.

We took the F train from either Delancey Street or East Broadway and rode the hour out to Coney Island.

It was brutal cold. There were definitely other people out on the boardwalk. But the picture Louise took captured only us. Braving the elements the way we each hoped to brave the new year.

*New Year's Day/ U2

All is quiet on New Year's day
A world in white gets underway
I want to be with you, be with you, night and day
Nothing changes on New Year's day
On New Year's day

I will be with you again
I will be with you again

Under a blood red sky
A crowd has gathered, black and white
Arms entwined, the chosen few
The newspapers says, says
Say it's true, it's true
And we can break through
Though torn in two
We can be one

I, I will begin again
I, I will begin again

Ah, maybe the time is right
Oh, maybe tonight

I will be with you again
I will be with you again

And so we're told this is the golden age
And gold is the reason for the wars we wage
Though I want to be with you
Be with you night and day
Nothing changes on New Year's day
On New Year's day
On New Year's day