Sunday, January 31, 2016

Sunday Memories of Being at Home with Fish

After months of summarizing horrifying atrocities and political nightmares, returning home took weeks.  Even if I was already inside the apartment.

It was the gathering of pieces and reconnecting heart and soul molecules that took time.   Sleep helped but only so far.

Sometimes it was watching a British reality show where you could watch babies after babies after babies being born.   Sometimes that worked.

Other times it was watching documentaries about eccentric artists or stand-up comedians or visionaries.

But there was this one time, where the only thing that worked was curling up on a kitchen chair and watching every Barney Miller I could find on youtube. 

Morning coffee in hand, 12 hours would suddenly pass.  I did this for weeks.  Nothing much else happened.  Just heart and soul coming back together into a recognizable sense of self.

I didn't give much thought as to why or how or the deeper meaning.  I just soaked up every second of every story line, every actor, every character actor...

Just recently, in the midst of horrifying atrocities and political nightmares, every day announced another obituary.   It was almost like dominoes falling ... Bowie, Jean Stapleton, Paul Kantner, Glenn Frey, Alan Rickman...

...and then it was Abe Vigoda.  Detective Fish on Barney Miller. 

And why and how I had lived in Barney Miller for all those weeks suddenly became crystal clear.  

That show was filled with the accents, the rhythms, the grammar (or lack thereof) of all the people who were the adults when I was only a kid, the adults when I was only a young adult... the adults I was a peer with... 

It was where I returned to the city I remembered, the streets I ran a little wild in, the friends I missed.

 Like Det. Fish and Yemana (Jack Soo whose voice I knew intimately from my beat-up vinyl record of Flower Drum Song). 

They were where I could hear and see my New York again.  And when I was in pieces, they showed me the way back to that home, back to a heart and soul I grew up with. 

Related Posts:

Happiness Is Where the Heart Is and the Heart Is Always Home

Barney Miller

Sunday Memories: When the City Was A Black and White Photograph

Thursday, January 28, 2016

It Was His New York Story: Ed Hamilton

Ed Hamilton has been telling the story of our city for a long, long time.

If he hadn't started posting about the Chelsea Hotel, its heart and soul would have been destroyed, along with the murals and the art and the stories and the tenants and the mom and pop stores and the affordable housing and the theater and so many, too many independent bookstores.

All those stories were gathered into Legends of the Chelsea Hotel, a book that defied obliteration. 

And he hasn't stopped.   In seven short stories and one novella, Ed's new book, The Chintz Age, goes deep into our heart and soul's attempt to survive in our changed city and our disappearing home.

Last Friday, at Bluestocking Bookstore, one of the last independent, radical bookstores in the United States we got to hear our stories.  At least for me, when I hear such stories, even ones that tell me of my loss or of my struggles, I defy obliteration.

Go here and find out where Ed is reading again or where you can buy online if you are not in where he is.

Or, go to Bluestockings and buy his book and while you are there, get some coffee, sit for a while and remember real New York.

Related Posts:

Ed Hamilton

Bluestockings Bookstore

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Radical Acceptance

This is Bluestockings.  It is one of only 13 radical bookstores left in the United States - 100% volunteer-powered and collectively-owned, fair trade cafe and activist center.

And the best books and reading series in the city!

This is Vittoria repetto, the hardest working guinea butch dyke poet on the lower east side.

Her poems have always stopped me in my tracks and changed my life.  I keep one near my desk to remember how a heart goes on...

She started the Women’s and Trans’ Poetry Jam series in 1999.

And 17 years later it is still going strong.   Once a month on a Tuesday night at 7pm the mike opens (women and trans only) and no matter whether you have been writing for years or just started that afternoon you can face an audience and read your stuff.

And no matter what, that mike is open and it's welcoming.  At least for eight minutes.

And at 8pm two featured writers/artists are invited to step up to that mike.  And no matter what, that mikes is open and it's welcoming.

The series flourishes at Bluestockings.  Only in a radical bookstore could a radical reading series flourish.  And because of that writers so rarely heard from get to step up to that mike and change the world.

This Tuesday, 26 January will be no different.

Women’s & Trans’ Poetry Jam
172 Allen Street (between Stanton and Rivingston)

$5 suggested donation

Open mike at 7pm. 

Featured writers:

C.O. Moed and Alyssa K. Harley

C.O. Moed's WIRE MONKEY: it’s almost the 1980’s and Bets, all of almost nineteen, once again gets jettisoned from the ancestral home on Columbia and Broome. With nowhere to go she returns to her second home – the East Village, determined to start a new life, if you call stealing, getting drunk on St. Patty’s day, selling rings door to door, punching your best friend in the face and selling off the family possessions starting a new life.

Alyssa K. Harley’s project seeks meaning based in the music of the English language. What she has searched for most is how to create a sense of real evidence through art of the absolute smallest of hopes, the ones that matter.

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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Sunday Memories: Snow Day!

 The Blizzard of 2016

We always hoped snow days landed on a school day.

Our folks always hoped snow days landed on a day they wouldn't lose any pay staying home to watch us.   Or in Florence's case, lose her rare time alone or her mercurial sanity.

But we didn't care, this ragtag bunch of kids living in the Quartchyard - religious, not religious didn't matter.  Snow days meant liberation from strict rules of where we could or could not run, touch, walk, and stomp, or how loud or not loud we could shout, woop, squeal, scream and laugh.

All year round we carefully didn't touch anything like the grass or the bushes or the tree trunks.  This was nature and it was proof that you didn't need to be rich to have nice stuff.  Just like Cindy's mother's couch which was encased in plastic, those natures thingies were meant to be looked at but never touched.

But the minute that snow hit the grass of the Quartchyard we were running, stomping, wooping laughing screaming not just on the stone walkway, but EVERYWHERE.

There were no fancy outdoors clothes in those days.  There was wool.  In layers. And when those layers and layers got wet we got cold.

En masse, all of us would rush into one of the buildings ringing the Quartchyard and with more screaming and squealing and stomping and wooping, we would throw our wet wool mittens and hats and scarves onto the big iron radiator spitting out steam heat.

The smell of wet wool on those radiators was the smell of happy as we hopped up and down hoping things would dry as quickly as possible so we could get outside and run rampant all over again.

Snow days are different today.  There is no running and jumping and squealing and wool.  Instead, it is, from a safe distance, watching and worrying that the oil tanker stuck in a snow drift won't be able to get his truck out and away from our home before it blows up.


Related Posts:

Sunday Memories: Traveling Through

In Memory of Cindy: The Land Of The Quartchyard 

Neither Rain, Nor Sleet, Nor Gloom of Night...Until Suddenly...

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Special Announcement:
Wire Monkey Reads Again! At Bluestockings!

From the trilogy, WIRE MONKEY comes a couple of chapters from its namesake novella!

It’s almost the 1980’s and Bets all of almost nineteen, once again, get jettisoned from the ancestral home on Columbia and Broome. With nowhere to go she returns to her ‘second home’ – the East Village, determined to start a new life, if you call stealing, getting drunk on St. Patty’s day, selling rings door to door, punching your best friend in the face and selling off the family possessions starting a new life.


The Women’s Trans’ Poetry Jam at Bluestockings, started in 1999, is hosted by Vittoria repetto – the hardest working guinea butch dyke poet on the lower east side

Open Mike starts at 7PM!  Bring your stuff!

C.O. Moed and Alyssa K. Harley are featured readers, starting around 8pm

C.O. Moed was born on the Lower East Side of New York City when it was still a tough neighborhood. A recipient of the Elizabeth George Grant for fiction and a Rockefeller Media Arts nominee, her short stories and dramatic works have been published in several anthologies and literary reviews. She writes, shoots and works a day job in New York City. (

Alyssa K. Harley’s project seeks meaning based in the music of the English language. What she has searched for most is how to create a sense of real evidence through art of the absolute smallest of hopes, the ones that matter.

Bluestockings Bookstore
172 Allen St.
(between Staton and Rivington)
1 1/2 blocks south from E.Houston

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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Even as Twilight Fills the Room,
What Dana Says Bursts Open Our Hearts

Dana's visits to other places deep under water or far, far away now filled her days and her nights.

Yet, still, when we least expected it, her brilliant light exploded into clarity and words that change the world.

Today was no different.

The fading afternoon wasn't one of her better days.  The mushroom-barley soup from Veselka's perked her up but after a few spoonfuls she requested she not be rushed to eat more.

We sat and visited with one another, Dana occasionally returning to say a word or two.

Kathleen murmured to us that after those slips under deep water, Dana sometimes "felt like shit."

She leaned into Dana and gently asked, "How do you feel, Dana?"

And without missing a bit, Dana answered, "Like shit,"

What Dana Says is worth pulling close and holding tight.


Related Posts:

What Dana Says Starts the New Year Right

What Dana Says Is a Blessing for the Future

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, January 17, 2016

Sunday Memories: Remembering a Determined Hope in the Face
of Such Daily Awfulness

A friend came to dinner, sharing our shock and pain at more horrific news about what a government was doing to its own people, what so many governments were doing so many things to their own people, that people were committing so many atrocities against so many people...

...all over the world.
And a bright future that once beckoned change, a change that welcomed all of us to the table, seemed to fade more and more from sight each day.

How, how to continue on.  How.

Yet, for 16 years, no matter what city she is in, Jossie opens her home to honour Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday...

...and welcomes us all to remember no matter what, no matter, to allow ourselves to be lifted "from the fatigue of despair to the buoyancy of hope and transform dark and desolate valleys into sunlit paths of inner peace."*

*Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Eulogy for the Martyred Children
September 18, 1963. Birmingham, Ala.

Related Posts:

"... That God is Able To..."

"Breathe. Look at your feet. That is where you are." - Vee at The Celebration of Martin Luther King Jr at Jossie's Home

The Power And The Powerless Of The First Step

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Cold-Snap Encores:
Sunday Memories of St. Marks Place

Baby, it's cold out there.  A warmer memory to stay the while. 

Originally posted 27 September 2009

That street was normal to me. It's where folks crashed either from drugs, booze or too much fucking.

It's also where people went to get the drugs, the booze, the fucking from which to crash.

If those buildings were beautiful you couldn't tell because everything was, well, normal which meant real people lived there and there were florescent lights in the hallways and if there was graffiti I didn't notice because graffiti was all over the place so how could you notice anything different?

It was part of the world we owned, from Avenue A all the way to the Nedicks on Sixth Avenue, from Washington Square Park to the youth center on 12th Street, and sometimes 14th Street when the rich merchant marine, who lived with his aunt and had really good pot, was back in town.

This street was our through-way and it's where we sauntered and stomped. It's where, before there was any way to instantly call or write or text to find a friend or a boy or a boyfriend, we had to actually show up, hang out on a favorite stoop and hope to run into whoever it was we were hoping to run into. And sometimes we did and some weeks we just waited.

In this picture on this stoop is my second boyfriend (my first was in 7th grade like years earlier). He was homeless and a runaway and crashing at Gypsy's on 4th Street. He came to New York to become a famous folk song artist. The new Bob Dylan. He was peppy and sweet and voted seriously most ugly. One night he and his best friend (also in the picture) went to Club 82 on 4th street and he thought he was kissing a woman but really it was a man who just knew how to look prettier than any of the girls we knew. He and I were already going out but I didn't care.

Years later I saw him running down our through-way screaming as some drug deal went south.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

We'll Always Have the Watertower

The view has always been the same and probably will stay that way for a while since the theater across the street is landmarked. 

Still, life has been known to change unexpectedly.  Exclusive silvery high-rises could appear at the horizon.  Disasters of so many kinds could rob us of our home.  Illness could diminish sight, relegating the kitchen view to a dim memory. Birthdays loom.

Nothing is forever.

All you got is what is right in front of you.

Que sera sera. 

So when the clouds parted, I grabbed my water tower so I could have it forever.

At least until the internet or the world blow up.


Related Posts:

Sunday Memories: Part Nine - A View From A Kitchen

Art and Life: A Love Story

You Got Your Nature, I Got Mine

What is Normal

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Sunday Memories: Cornering Joy

The famous actress's memoir had people in it I had gone to school with.  It had stories of success.  It had big names that were her best friends.  Even the lowest moments of uncertainty and failure were more fun and successful than anything I could remember.

But that wasn't what annoyed me.  But what annoyed me proved elusive.

So, I did the laundry.  That's what Florence always did when things got murky.

And, sure enough, things came out in the wash.

That famous actress was writing joy.  Didn't matter if it was the good times, the bad, the failures, the successes... the rejections.  She had joy.

Where the hell was joy?

I can count on one or two fingers...


Well, it happened a long, long time ago.  Almost 18 years.  When in a tornado of failure I said I would commit to attempting to trying to believing there might be a possibility of... joy.

It was all so last minute, I didn't have time to find the one thing I needed - a special cabinet called a Budsadan - a home for the Buddha.

Rushing home after hours of going from shop to shop, I glanced by the stairwell.

And there it was.  A perfect cabinet.  Waiting for me. 

Tonight, coming back from late-night shopping (because that's when Trader Joe's is empty), I glanced by the stairwell.

And there was Joy.

Where it was supposed to be.

In unexpected corners.  Just waiting to be openned.

Related Posts:

Mi Butsadan Es Su Butsadan

The Walk to Hope Is a Leap of Faith

The Corners of My Mind

Ode to Food

My Mama Done Told Me

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Denial Isn't a River in Egypt.

The grim news left the world more beat up than yesterday.

It was time to remember the most beautiful harbor in the world.

And have a cup of coffee with Mimi at one of our favorite stores for a brief reprieve from fear and worry, except perhaps that the curtains wouldn't work out and require a trip to return things.  Which meant maybe more shopping.

Several cups and many hours later, now with a heavy bag but a lighter heart, the harbor felt like Florence's ghost reminding me a little denial was not a bad thing.  And she was right.  When there wasn't enough bucks for a vacation or a flight off the planet, all you needed was a hearty cup of coffee, some shopping and the company of a good friend.


Related Posts:

Eating Out

It Was Also Her City College.  It Was Always Her New York

The Promise

Mishpocheh Across Time and Place

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Jupiter's New Year's Day

Checked clock to make sure it really was 4:00 am.

Sat on human face.

Sat by empty food bowl.

Stared at empty food bowl.

Bumped into legs to get the can opened faster.

Stared at full food bowl.

Humped Goldie.

Stared at Goldie eating from full food bowl.

Pushed Goldie out of the way.

Stared at full food bowl.


Humped Goldie.

Ate what Goldie left over.

Sat by front door.

Stared at front door.


Sat on newspapers.

Bit human's arm.

Made human check food bowl.

Stared at human.

Stared at full food bowl.

Stared at new food in food bowl.

Humped Goldie.


Curled up near human.

Licked arm.

Allowed human to kiss face and scratch ear.


Best day ever.

Related Posts:

Walkin' After Midnight

Another Night Home on the Range

On the Way to Get the Cat Shaved

Goldie's Dog Days of Summer

Sunday, January 3, 2016

An Encore of Sunday Memories
For New Year's Day:
"I...I will begin again..."

Originally posted January 1, 2012

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