Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Waking To A New Year

Way past the time I was her "daughter" Florence would come visit, sit in the kitchen because that's where the booze usually was and there was a chair in the corner.  I'd lean against the sink and listen to her ruminate about her life.

I was asleep, she'd say.  I was asleep all my life.

I didn't quite understand.  To me, she was always awake.  Just someplace else.  Especially in those kitchen-visit days.  She was running wild like a 65, 70 year-old teenager, dancing with girls and having high-drama love.

I didn't quite understand that she was trying to wake up and rebuild a life she had slept through.  

The thing about sleeping is you don't know you are until you aren't.

Related Posts:

Letters At The Speed Of...

Yizkor (Remember) For Florence

The Old Bag

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Sunday Memories Of Jutta's Kitchen:
This Is What The Journey Looks Like

 Oh, let me take a picture of your hands, I beg Jutta.

No!  They're so... Look at them, she says.

They're incredible.  They're beautiful, I tell her.  I've always loved taking pictures of them.  They are the genesis, the beginning of everything...

Oh, well then, she says, giving the best girlish giggle in the world, they got this way from painting.

Related Posts:

Jutta's Kitchen:  So You Say This Is Christmas

Friday, December 26, 2014

Friday's Child Is Loving And Giving
And What You Really Wanted For Christmas

You unpacked all the presents and yet.... 

You wanted Santa to bring you

This spry little man is 15 years old but looks like a puppy. He was recently rescued from a high kill shelter in Los Angeles.

Sadly, like so many senior pooches he lost his home, his family, and life as he knew it when his former owner passed away. When nobody stepped up to take him in, he ended up at the kill shelter. Social Tees fell for him the moment they met him and brought him to the east coast with the help of Wings of Rescue a few weeks ago. 

Max is now living it up in the Big Apple, eagerly searching for just the right forever family. Max is a classy yet very spunky old boy. He's got all of the pluses of being a mature gentleman, but he's also retained the best of his younger years. 

He is wise, well mannered, loving with everyone, and generally very mellow but he also has an energy and liveliness you wouldn't believe unless you saw it. He's got so much youthful sweetness, it's hard to imagine he's a senior. 

Max is in great shape for his age, he's friendly with everyone he meets and great with other dogs, and he needs a loving, playful home where he can live out the rest of his golden years. He is crate trained, quiet, and hypoallergenic, but he comes on a little too strong for cats so he would do best in a home without any kitties. 

Interested in adopting him? Complete an application at socialteesnyc.org, and please spread the word!!!!



Lotus's story has been told on Friday's Child . Now this girl has the loving family she has always deserved, just in time for the holidays.

We could not have asked for a better gift... for her or for us. We hope to keep you all updated on her adventures as she grows and learns through her new life. Thank you to everyone who provided her with the incredible support, care, and encouragement she needed to heal and blossom!!!!


Social Tees needs to restock their supply of dog and cat food... and need all the help they can get!

If you have a little extra and offer some assistance, please donate!  They go through pet food, cleaning supplies, and chew toys like we breathe oxygen.

This holiday season visit their Amazon Wish List below. (All donations are TAX DEDUCTIBLE)





Come Volunteer!!!

Come Visit!!!!

 Come On In!!!!! 
Social Tees  
325 East 5th Street, NY, NY 10003  

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Jutta's Kitchen: So You Say This Is Christmas...

Xavi, V.'s son, on the look-out for Santa
Photo:  Amina Balley
V. said one of her biggest accomplishments was giving her son a proper Christmas.  She's not Jewish, so that's important. And it was still easy to wrap his presents because all she had to do was put him in the high chair and turn it the other way.

We started reminiscing about holidays, especially Christmas, that treacherous time when all that is missing becomes bright and clear and vicious and in front of you.

Do you have family and if so, can you visit with them and if so, do you want to and if so would buying presents break the bank and if not do you have a lover that you get to be with instead and if not do you have a friend who would include you in and if not how are you going to get through that loneliness...

Each year late November heralded the beginning of that obstacle course made from those questions that only left me wishing February 15th would finally show up so there could be a break from feeling like an utter failure at life, especially each time I saw a goddamn commercial filled with people who loved one another and I just couldn't figure how, how to get into that commercial and, really there's nothing more annoying that sobbing through a Coca-Cola commercial with no where to go.

V. fared a bit better.  She had some great times.  There was her friend's Gramma who, heading into her 90's and still sharp as a tack, would throw a Christmas Eve party to end all parties, with everyone, in V.'s own words, showing up with moonshine and having a blast of joy.  V. always meant to head to Mass after Gramma, but with all that love and family and happiness, more prayer would only be like gilding the lily.  She loved that Gramma and her friends and being home with them.

Her description of that party jogged something tucked away.

I must have been 17, maybe 18, maybe more... but not by much.  None of those questions had been answered until Jutta invited me up to spend Christmas Eve with her and the small group of friends that made her neighborhood home.

I don't remember where we drank and ate and celebrated.  But, as the evening drew to a close, Jutta shoved a small envelope into my hands.  It was a Christmas card with $10 in it.  A lot of money for a single mother working as a clerk in the 1970s to give and a lot of money for a kid supporting herself to get.

I don't remember how I got home that night.  But, as I walked up Broadway or down Broadway, about to make the trek from the upper west side to the east village, I remembering feeling something I hadn't ever before, but I would have recognized it any where and I didn't even need to be in a soda commercial.

It was joy that can only come from being home with the people you love the most.

Related Posts:

Jutta's Kitchen: Painting From The Inside

Remembering Sunday Memories On Monday: Christmas/Time

You Got Your North Star, I Got Mine

Encore Of A Sunday Memory: Visiting Santa

Ghosts Of Christmas Past

Sunday Memories: His New York His California His Home - Christmas In July

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Jutta's Kitchen: Painting From The Inside

Jutta continues to paint and to amaze.  

This week begins a series heralding the solstice and art that can only emerge out of an internal spring. 

A rare dinner at Jutta's.  Fay joins us.

The kitchen table pulled into the living room and the canvases carefully tucked away so that the Chinese food doesn't spill on them.  Her son, sick with the flu, has left two good bottles of wine, one of which we drink.

The hearing aid, being what it is, doesn't always direct her to who is speaking.  It has no subtlety.   She has to ask at times, "Which one of you is speaking?"

But, in the long run, it doesn't matter.  The ideas do.

And they don't flow out.   They don't explode out.  Its more like they burst out, like a ton of Christmas lights bursting out in the dark.

It gets later and later and soon it is just me, the Mariner and Jutta.  The food is put away, the table returned to the kitchen, the chairs back in their spots so she doesn't bump into anything.

The long weeks have caught up with everyone and home beckons.

But wait, I say.  We have to look at your paintings.

Suddenly, it is as if we had just arrived minutes ago.

Curiosity does that.  Because we are all bouncing like baby goats, as Jutta starts pulling out canvases.

"This painting is just beginning," Jutta says. 

She doesn't know what it is and where it is going, but she is following something here.

It's what writers are going through, what artists are going through, this return, she explains.  Getting in touch with that root self, that primitive being within, that "caveman".

With sight now relegated to a corner of her right eye, she is no longer looking at a landscape outside her window or a still life on her table.

She is returning her gaze to  her soul, that universe moving beyond the speed of light that was in her from the moment she emerged into the world.

 And when she does, she sees everything

Related Posts:

Sunday Memories:  All Together Again In Jutta's Kitchen

Jutta's Kitchen: Part One

Jutta's Kitchen: Part Two

Jutta's Kitchen: Part Three

Jutta's Kitchen Revisited

Jutta's Kitchen Blooms

Jutta's Kitchen Meets The Internet

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Sunday Memories Of
Jutta's Kitchen That Stops For Nothing
And Other Solstice Miracles

Jutta continues to paint and to amaze.  

This week begins a series heralding the solstice and art that can only emerge out of an internal spring. 

Originally post February 21, 2012.

Even after getting hit by a car, even after years of litigation, even after failed cataract surgery...

...even after finding herself legally blind, even after her hearing got worse and worse and worse, even after....

... Jutta still paints.

And you, with your dreams and your passions, what did you do today?


Jutta's Kitchen: Part One

Jutta's Kitchen: Part Two

Jutta's Kitchen: Part Three

Jutta's Kitchen Revisited

Jutta's Kitchen Blooms

Jutta's Kitchen Meets The Internet

Friday, December 19, 2014

Friday's Child Is Loving And Giving
And Thinks You're Amazing


Jupiter and Goldie think I'm amazing.

That or they're waiting for the good chicken.


Chico wears his heart on his nose! 

He's about 7 years old and 15 lbs. He is a shy boy at first but warms up quickly now and is very aware, affectionate, wonderfully connected, and adoring with his special people. 

Social Tees recently rescued him from a high-kill shelter in Los Angeles, and it has been so cool to watch this little guy blossom! The very smart dogs are often the ones that suffer the most during stressful transitions. At first he could barely stand up he was so afraid, but now he walks happily with a gentle wag in his tail. 

He is good with other dogs and friendly with everyone he meets! Interested in adopting? Complete an application at socialteesnyc.org!!


Puppies, puppies, puppies!!!!!

And they would love for the chance to adore you.




Come Volunteer!!! 

Come Visit!!!!

 Come On In!!!!! 

Social Tees   
325 East 5th Street, NY, NY 10003  

Thursday, December 18, 2014

You Can't Hurry Love

photo: Cam Patterson  

Having watched them make out at a wedding like a pair of teenagers, I could not help but ask Carola to tell me more about a love that has spanned four decades. 

In Carola's own words:

Bob and I met in the old Ratner's Second Avenue in June 1970.

The guy I was sort of seeing had a breakfast date with Bob, and I tagged along. Over borscht and eggs, Bob and I got into a big fight about Jean Luc Godard and the Dziga Vertov collective. I thought he was obnoxious. He liked the way I fought. Later, discovering a shared passion for Dreiser, we became friends, but not lovers till 1972.  

I can't totally explain what happened after that. I went off to an ashram, did the things you do there, quit, came home, and it was like a bubble floated to the top of my mind and out popped this idea: spend the rest of my life with Bob.

It was a very, very good idea. How I knew Bob would go for it is another story. You can read it in his forthcoming memoir, Going Into The City.

The decision to get married came a few years later. I think I thought that for us marriage was essentially a chapter in a story already in progress, but Bob approached it from a somewhat different place, and before long, we ended up in the same place.

This was 1974, and the idea of a feminist marriage was subject to debate, to say the least. For our ceremony, we rewrote the Book of Common Prayer to include the words "erotic" and "struggle."

Although we used to argue a lot, we've always been very compatible—apparently one thing we had in common was that we liked to argue a lot. Our personalities are very different, but our values actually quite similar.

Luck comes into these things, too. We had the luck to recognize what we could have together.

We had some hard times, of course, one of them a real doozy. But we were the people we wanted to spend our lives with.

And we knew it.

Related Posts:


Big Leaps And Little Steps In The March To Commitment

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Remembering Sunday Memories on Monday: Christmas/Time

Gathering again, the lobby, for a brief moment, reminded us, like Dorian Gray's portrait...

...that there were holes in between one another.... missing neighbors heralded time fleeing.

Yet, Wallace still pranced with optimism.

This was his feast, knowing dozens of hands would reach down and slip a holiday treat.  Worth it to wear the bow.

And old friends, constant neighbors, traveling comrades still had things to say.

After all, there were still things to discover.

But, as the familiar walls echoed all our decades together...

... there were new neighbors, making their own memories of early times when they were young in the old building.

Related Posts:

Sunday Memories: Ghosts Of Christmas Past, Present And Future

Sunday Memories: It's A Wonderful Lobby

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Rain Delay for Sunday's Memories

Blame it on the Christmas party...

Friday, December 12, 2014

Friday's Child Is Loving And Giving
And T'Is The Season To Be That Way

The Goldie Report

(o.k., maybe not.  maybe just waiting for more chicken)

It's hard to believe that over a year ago, she was a waaaay-too-skinny kitten that Social Tees rescued from a backyard on East Fourth Street.

Now she is our 'Little Girl' who plays fetch with us, cuddles up while we write and when she wants food at 5 a.m., she gets it. 



These two magnificent mugs, both adopted from Social Tees, now have their own Instagram account! 

It's addictive!! Check out this cuter-than-cute pair via @titusandstella

Ruby is 9 years old, extremely affectionate, and needs to get out of her cage so she can stretch her stripey legs and lose some weight... She's a little hefty, and the vet says she needs to drop a few pounds. Ruby is low maintenance and chirps when she wants attention, would be best as the only pet in the home. Email samantha@socialteesnyc.org now if you can give her a temporary home!




Social Tees have lots of adoptable kittens and more on the way!!! Come meet them!! 

325 East 5th Street, NY, NY 10003
5-7pm weekdays
12-4pm weekends



Come Volunteer!!! 

Come Visit!!!!

 Come On In!!!!! 

Social Tees   
325 East 5th Street, NY, NY 10003  

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Going Forward Glancing Back

The 'wine' store has more hard booze bottles then wine in its half-a-block window.   O.K., so some of them are made of plastic and have nothing in them.  But, they and the rows of florescent lights lay bare what the real deal is inside the big store.

This place is the place of ye olde cocktail hour, when people actually mixed drinks at the end of a long day.  Since the neighborhood surrounding it still has those folks, perhaps now retire, business is still brisk.

I went in once - young and brokenhearted, facing the holidays alone - and stumbled out with a pint in the back pocket of my jeans.  It was the only paint-stroke I could think of that looked like how I felt.   Obviously, the rest of the evening didn't go well.

The next 36 years passing that brightly-lit window was like rushing past a furious smear of white light, as if graffiti had been blasted  away but lettering in the shape of bottles still peered through, insisting their permanency.

It was only on a walk down to make necessary peace in an old beloved bar that a new eye looked into the doorway.

How long had that fish been there?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Arbitrary Snapshots of Changes
At The Speed Of Life

Preparing for everything

Disappearing at a party

Rushing through rain

Building relentlessly

Staring at food on the other side of a locked door

Hoping for a clearer picture

Stopping for nothing

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Saying Goodbye To De Robertis - Sunday Memories: Back To The Future

On that last night, we suddenly saw the wedding dollies.  Had never seen them before.  They could have been there, but sometimes you don't see something until you are ready to see it.

Doug had already convinced John that he was also marrying the Mariner and me and that the three of us were all off to marital bliss. 

Doug about to make trouble

So, as I stared at the dollies, John offered to take an extra man off one the others. He thought Doug was serious.

"It's New York so you never know," he said politely.  

I let the Mariner pick out the one we wanted.  We wanted the same one.

Doug said he was thrilled John thought that because he, Doug, was worthy of me, but I think Doug was just being sweet and diplomatic.

And maybe the Wedding sign had always been there...

 ...but the pastries were on the other side, so I never saw it until that last night.

The Pasticceria would have been a perfect place to celebrate getting married.  

And yet with the dollies safely home, it feels no matter where we end up and no matter if the dollies are on top of a cupcake or a pile of latkes, we will be, as we always have been coming for sweets and coffee at De Robertis, home.

Long Live the Pasticceria. And good night, De Robertis, wherever you are.

Related Posts:

Saying Goodbye to De Robertis-Part Two: Snapshots of Parting, Such A Sweet Sorrow

Saying Goodbye to De Robertis-Part One: "Life Is Uncertain - Eat Dessert First"

Friday, December 5, 2014

Friday's Child Is Loving And Giving
And The Perfect Gift To Give And To Receive

Jupiter and Goldie rest up for the holidays

All the many times, sick in bed or curled up on the couch writing or at the desk working, they hang out with me.  So what if they are just making sure I don't get anywhere unless I feed, pet, brush, adore them.  Their company comforts and gives solace.  And all I have to do is open a can of cat food.


Social Tees Animal Rescue "Stray Pride!" tote bags for sale! 

They make awesome presents for animal lovers... Great for carrying pet supplies, groceries, school books, etc. Heavy canvas, $20 donation each, stop by Social Tees during regular hours to get yours!


JD is a Great Pyranees/Lab mix, five yrs old and 110 lbs. 

Woah! He's super sweet and puppy like, good with people and other dogs, and a total babe -- 

He was featured by @thedogist yesterday!!! Please foster him!!! Fostering lasts two to four weeks, unless you want him for like FOREVER!!

Email samantha@socialteesnyc.org AND be the COOOLEST SANTA AROUND!!


Come Volunteer!!!
Come Visit!!!!
 Come On In!!!!!

 Social Tees 
325 East 5th Street, NY, NY 10003  

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Saying Goodbye to De Robertis-Part Two: Snapshots of Parting, Such A Sweet Sorrow

The front door...

... worn from 106 years of people staring in at all the cookies and staring out waiting for friends and family and business associates and lovers to arrive....

Not sure what world series it was made for, but that cake waited a long, long time to be eaten until...

... it was way past edible.  That's the way it goes when some De Robertis are Mets fans and some are the other guys'.


The Mariner was on jury duty so he got home before too late and the day was called early enough for me to leave work in time and Doug was actually free and join us after he made dinner for Shawn and in the middle of stuffing our faces with cannoli ...

... there was Maureen who was getting semolina cookies and she called Kosky and just as we had for years and years and years and years and years we forgot everything except the joy of being with friends.




Kosky and I decided one day that we would meet a couple of mornings a week away from our internet connections or any place we wrote that had an internet connection because rather than writing, we kept checking our email or facebook or gawker or....

I know! I said.  Let's go to De Robertis! They don't have internet!

Great, said Kosky.  Meet you there Wednesday.  On Tuesday, I walked by and there was a sign:  De Robertis has WIFI. 

We met there anyway.

How long are you going to stay open this week? I asked them.

Until everything is gone.

John De Robertis

I remember the booths.
I used to sleep in the first one.  We'd get here early and my father would make me wash the dishes by hand, not a machine, and help out and then after I'd take a nap in the first booth.

What do you do other than this?
Nothing.  I've been doing this 60, 80 hours a week.

[We somehow end up talking about cooking]

I hate cooking.
Really?  You want a personal chef?
Do you like cooking?
I went to culinary school.

Taking flight...

John: Everybody has been coming in to say goodbye.  Ninety-year olds coming in with their walkers and canes, yeah everybody has been coming in.  It's been really ....

[An entire family with a billion kids come in.  "I just saw the sign you're closing!  Thank you.  Thank you for everything you've done for the community...."]


Michael:  I'm 69 years old.   I've been working here since I was nine.

He says nothing much after that.


Upon reflection....

...of all the pictures taken over all the years in that mirror... 
...this is the one most filled with love and the best chocolate mousse tart in the world.

The 100th anniversary cake knife

Signed by Dana, John and Michael De Robertis


Michael, Dana, Michael, and cousin Anthony Abramo 
(whose mother's maiden name was 
Lanza as in the restaurant next door)
 Hey, you all look like a strip of paint chips, I tell them.

Their faces, like their mirrors I watched myself age in, reflect back...

...the faces of their parents, their aunts and uncles and grandparents and great-uncles and great-great... the faces that greeted me long ago and for years after... the woman who was then just the daughter and then the mother and then the grandmother, telling me on Thanksgiving Day decades ago that she was going back and forth from upstairs to stir the 'gravy' - the sauce for the pasta. 

Even knowing the old adage that heartbreak is just the heart breaking open into bigger.... 

 .. still, that first moment, that first moment, stepping out, snapping pictures furiously as if it would make time stop and sweets stay longer, finally turning back onto the street and beginning the brief walk home, in that first moment the heart breaks.

And it becomes impossible not to weep.

Related Posts:

Saying Goodbye to De Robertis-Part One: "Life Is Uncertain - Eat Dessert First"

Sunday Memories: Play Ball

Sunday Memories: Lets Go Mets Or Something...

Sunday Memories: Hot Lunch

Part Five: Home Work

First In The Eyes Of God, Then In The Eyes Of New York And Now By The Law Of The Land!!!