Thursday, October 29, 2015

Heaven on Earth Feels Like Home

Eight years running up First Avenue, this was just part of a long stretch of chain link covering a long black iron fence that hid mysterious doors and shaded windows.

Until this morning when in the middle of what had seemed like an unbreakable fortress a gate was suddenly there. 


And all around it were things like china bowls and wind chimes and a straw basket and a bizarre red robe.

And right past the gate was a door.


And inside that door was a block long treasure chest of just about everything and anything and what you used to see all the time in tons of shops on every avenue and street but now barely ever unless it was in a movie about a New York that wasn't anymore.  Or you were out of town.

But this was real. 

You open? I shouted to the guy in the back.

"Yeah we're open. "

How much for the basket?

"How much you do you want it for?"

2 bucks.

"Gimme 5."

I was late so I didn't insist on 3.

"I got lots of designer stuff..." he said.  "I got this guy and that guy and her and them and..."

Nah, I told him.  I wasn't interested in all that.  I was interested in a two dollar basket I paid five for.

"I got books that will blow you away..."

NO.  No more books allowed.  That and bags.  And maybe boots.

I gotta go.  I gotta get to work.   Can I take a picture?

"Yeah, take whatever you want" he shouted after me as he answered the phone.

Snapping away but unable to stop looking at all the nooks and crannies that had promises and secrets and things you didn't see anymore unless you were in a movie or out of town.

"Are you still here?" he shouted from the back.   "Get outta here!"

"I'm going! I'm going!"

But I'm coming back.  I'm coming back.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

If Emily Dickinson Had Lived in New York

If Emily Dickinsons had lived in New York, maybe she would have written....

 "a pigeon came down my window sill; 
he did not know I saw 
he pushed his sibling out into air
so he could have the nest..."

or  ...

"Hope is the thing in my shopping cart, 
packed with veggies from Union Square...."


 "I'm somebody, who are you? 
are you somebody too? 
Then there's a pair of us -- too cool for school.."

Still.. I cannot imagine the poem she'd write of the young man...

...who, when no one was watching, snuck into the back doors of the movie theater.

on the other hand...

"Because I could not afford the movie
The Movie kindly afforded me
The doors held open but just a second
and I got to see the Intern for free! "

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Sunday, October 25, 2015

Sunday Memories: Gotta Dance

When I watched Doug swing his friend around, I remembered what joy and celebration looked like when given the space to dance.

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Following in Florence's Footsteps

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Going to the Game, New York Style

No cable TV at home, a shitty transistor radio in my pocket and another 10 hour day finally ending just as the Game began.

But keeping score wasn't hard at all.

Because all down the avenue, from bar.... bar.... pizzeria.... another bar but this one served sushi.... another bar... everyone was watching the game.


Together.   Eating, drinking... and all of us, inside pressed against the bar or outside pressed against the window, all of us were holding our breath ...

...three-two count, two outs, two men on base, here's the pitch and he ...


Related Posts:

Hope For the Future

Old School High Tech

Sunday Memories: Lets Go Mets!! Or Something....

Sunday Memories: Play Ball!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

What Dana Says is a Blessing for the Future

Bits and pieces of Dana are slowly beginning to visit other places.   

Yet, she is like a lighthouse.   

When you least expect it, her brilliant light explodes into clarity and words that change the world.  David, her son takes as many down as he can and shares them with me.

Over the next while, old stories and new moments of Dana will be noted.  What Dana Says is worth pulling close and holding tight. 


Dana and David gave us a little apres-wedding celebration with Veselka's mushroom barley soup and borscht and apple pie with vanilla ice cream

We showed off happy pictures and regaled them with stories of the wedding and the party.

Dana listened intently.

But she didn't say much.  That gave Polly plenty of chances to take a gander at the vanilla ice cream melting on Dana's plate.

They spoke privately to one another at some point.

And then Dana surrendered the plate and returned to our babbling and gossiping.

"Give them a blessing," David asked his mother.

She rose to her feet and we all held hands.

What was said next was so beautiful, we all knew we'd never remember every word.

Sometime the purest of love is like that.  You just get to be in it for a moment, like standing in soft wind and knowing autumn was slowly going away.  You still grab at the air.  You still try to keep it forever.

You can keep time.  But you can't keep it.

The few words we caught in our sticky fingers were these:

"My memory, which I have lost most of, lives inside you.  The future ahead needs much work.  So go into it with my memories..."

She would insist on walking us to the door ("how would you find it otherwise?") but not before she and Polly looked ahead into a new memory.


Related Posts;

You Never Expect What Dana Says

The First and the Last

A Visit to Dana

Sunday Memories:  Two! Two! Two Memories In One!!

Sunday Memories of the Boy Next Door

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Suddenly Everything Became
A Sunday Memory

I really wanted a martini.

I had only one in the last eight years and that was two months ago and the olives were disappointing.

So after a long week, the Mariner said he'd take me out on a real date and get me a good martini.

The fancy bar next door that disguised itself as the neighborhood "Cheers" seemed the best bet.

And it was.

No TV.   So you could actually look around without a lot of hyperactive flickering lights of the eight billion different sports events and commercials that shot out of multi-screens in other bars.

Good jukebox.  O.K., it probably wasn't a jukebox; it was probably a satellite prepaid, preordered music selection being piped in over a computer but SOUNDING like someone really hip was standing over a glass cover, perusing the names of 45's (those are vinyl records, just in case you didn't know) and then popping in quarters and dazzling everyone with such good taste.

There were people over 40, maybe even over 50 in the bar.

Bar food.  So what if the chips were handmade and personally seasoned with spices that you don't find in glass jars in supermarkets and yes there was mint artisan jelly on the lamb sliders.  (Already there are two many words in those sentences to deny hipsterness but those sliders tasted good.)

And the martini.... dirty as all hell and three FAT olives that rounded out dinner.

It was almost like being at the old bar-home almost forty years ago.

Except... Even though I ate all the olives, I could barely make a dent in the martini itself.

Except... A gaggle of adorable (they were laughing and giggling and really having fun)  young (they were under 40) tourists (shopping bags of stores I don't go to) came in and sat next to us and asked us to take pictures of them with their phones.

Except... when I asked to take their picture with my camera....

...and they asked what I did and I told them... they got all excited oh that's so cool and oh a New York writer that is so interesting!

And I remember when there was nothing cool about New York or being a writer or being interesting.

Suddenly becoming a tourist's memorable moment of meeting an authentic old part of the city , I had no choice but to gulp the rest of my martini.

Related Posts:

Sunday Memories: The Bar

Sunday Memories:  Good Times, Good Times

Sunday Memories:  Last Call

The First and the Last

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Hope for the Future

I was listening to Game Four Mets vs. Dodgers.

She was watching the Democratic debate.

Perhaps there was hope for the future, I thought, peering into the bar packed with the youth of America.

Then again, I had a better idea how the primaries would turn out.

The Mets?  Never.

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Sunday Memories: Play Ball

Sunday Memories:  Let's Go Mets!  Or Something...

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A Hundred Million Miracles
Are Happening Everyday

The old staircase seeing the light of day
after 20 years of being boarded up

I always hated 13th Street.  The sidewalk was too narrow.  Since the laundrymat was close to the corner I didn't really have to walk far along it.

One time in 1977 or maybe 78, we had a handsome Dutch visitor and we all took the Radical Walking Tour through the East Village (it was posted in the Village Voice and sounded really fun).

It rained the entire time but we dutifully followed the "tour guide" who really just loved history and gave the $5 a head to the Peace Building War Resistant League on Lafayette and Bleeker.

On 13th Street there was a nice enough building where Emma Goldman once lived.   There was something about her being naked but I don't quite remember.

the program of the Radical Walking Tour seeing the light of day after 37ish years in a folder

Near enough to her doorstep was the hell-hole building and even someone dumb like me knew it was not a nice place and there was no need to walk past it.

Then it got boarded up in the 1990s and that was that.  The pigeons and rats were happy.  The people moving into the condos across the street, I don't know.

One could only assume that boarded-up building would one day house very rich people living in very rich apartments and telling their friends the building used to be an SRO, a crack house, a whore house and very very dangerous.  As if they were the ones walking on the wild side.

So I didn't give the old building much thought.  I still hated walking down 13th Street, but did anyway - a friend lived there and sometimes the Mariner insisted it was shorter than walking home another way.

And then EV Grieve posted something surprising.

That hell-hole wasn't going to the highest bidder.

It was going to become a haven, a safe place, a home for LBGT kids who didn't have a haven, a safe place, a home.  It was going to become the Bea Arthur Residence for LGBT kids.

After so many years watching everything turn into something none of us could afford...

Suddenly 13th Street looked so beautiful.

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Cooper Square and the Bea Arthur Residence

EV Grieve: Abandoned 13th Street Building Becoming Residence

Emma Goldman: The Most Dangerous Woman in America

How Bea Arthur Became a Champion for Homeless LGBT Kids

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Sunday Memories: Up the Down Escalator

 The old wooden escalator at Macy's still clacking away

Well, it seemed like a reasonable thing to do at the time. 

And looking back over fifty years I very much admire my maybe five, maybe six, possibly seven year old self for thinking oh what the hell, why not. 

Which is why I made a running dash up the Macy's down escalator.  And I think I would have made it to the top if my father hadn't dashed after me and tackled me down and dragged me off. 

There was damage to assess.  Not me.  I was fine.  Pissed I hadn't experienced my own personal Coney Island ride right there in the middle of  Macy's.

No.  The damage was much more serious than my disappointment.  My father, the kind of dandy one becomes when you can finally afford nice clothes after abject poverty, was furious.  The pants of his suit, a very nice one thank you, had gotten ripped on the moving steps.

And getting them carefully rewoven cost mightily and I did not hear the end of it for years.  Especially when we went shopping at Macy's.

My adulthood budget didn't allow for buying much new.   So my visits to Macy's were far and few between.  But recently with gift certificates and wedding money, new towels beckoned. 

And so did my old adventure...

 So tempting, so tempting....

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Sunday Memories: Visiting Santa

In His California the Time Is Now

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Real to Reel

When my father headed out of New York with hopes for a better life in a different climate,  he left behind an entire life in reel-to-reel tapes - the audio history of the dreams he had kept for Florence and the possibility of her artistry having a stage in this world - and the Beatles recording made off a borrowed record that became my refuge from the failure of those dreams.

The boxes, tucked high away in a cupboard for about thirty years, were finally brought down recently.  Technology could now make them into little bits of bits.

But under all the tapes was a record. 

In those long, long ago days - before digital was in a sci-fi movie, before voice mail was invented, before youtube was youtube and not a tube for you - before all that, if you wanted to send your voice to someone you loved or let the world hear your thoughts, you made a record in a booth in a record store and talked of dreams and hopes for a better life.

Like my father did for his public speaking course.

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In California the Time Is Now

Summer Reruns of Sunday Memories: Where I Still Could Find Her

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

"Slow Down.
Now What Do You See?"

John got all of us to breathe.

He also got us to look.

Then he got us to breathe again.

Then he got us to tell each other what we saw.  (But we had to keep breathing.)

And when that happened we saw things we would have never seen if we had still been rushing by.

Then he sent us off to breathe and look.

And if I hadn't done that, this wouldn't have happened.

Agnes Varda on Sixth Avenue

Of course the minute this happened, I stopped breathing immediately.

Then I babbled incoherently.

Then I went back to John and wept.

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MDS Films

Agnes Varda

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Sunday Memories Turn into New Announcements

This is Karla P. skyping from Gdansk, Poland.

This is me taking a picture for Adrian while laughing really hard. 

This is proof that a broken heart years ago could lead to joy today.

Announcing "Fucking Him" as the Grand Prix winner in the found footage category of the 2015 Interference Festival,  Gdansk, Poland.


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Sunday Memories of the Millions of Burgers and the Millions of Moments

Special Announcement: Hands Across the Waters

Sunday Memories: Autumn in New York

The First and the Last

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Traveling at the Speed of Time

Francisco came to visit again, daughter and granddaughters in tow. 

Francisco in 2011

He wanted to show them that spot on 12th Street where his adventure began. 

He wanted to show them the city that had allowed an 18 year old kid, literally fresh off a boat, not knowing a soul, to build a life he had only dreamed of.

Francisco in 2013

He wanted to show them how they became what they became, extraordinary people who spoke several languages and had traveled the world, now working in professions that called forth the greatest of talents and the sharpest of minds.

Francisco in 2014

He wanted to show them... him.

Francisco began here.  And when he returns to where he began...

Francisco in 2015 sitting in an apartment that may have been 

... he travels at the speed of time.  

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Francisco's Sunday Memories In His New York With An Addendum Of Grace

Sometimes You Get to Go Back to Your New York

Lightening Strikes Again and It Becomes Deja Vue All Over Again