Friday, April 17, 2015

"Hey Ma, 100 Five Star Amazon Book Reviews out of 100"

Today, “I Hate the Dallas Cowboys – tales of a scrappy New York boyhood,” received its one hundredth five star Amazon review. 100 reviews, 100 five stars. That’s a perfect game, Jim Bunning.  

My quirky memoir is available in Yorkville at Logos Book Store, 1595 York Avenue and online at AmazonBarnes and Noble and other booksellers. “I Hate the Dallas Cowboys – tales of a scrappy New York boyhood,”  is dedicated to my mother, Patricia Ryan Pryor, who never lost faith in me.  "The upcoming 'Stoops to Nuts' show is for you, Ma. "



Saturday, May 9th @ 7pm to 10pm 

Ryan’s Daughter, 350 East 85th Street (between First & Second Avenue).

Our Stoops to Nuts artists: Abbi Crutchfield, Walter Michael DeForest, Joe Dettmore, Apryl Miller, Liz Phillips, Luke Thayer and Eric Vetter and musical guests. I'll host and tell a good one. Free storytelling, free music, free comedy, a beer special and real prizes. I’m giving good stuff away. I’m 61, what’s my daughter going to do with this crap?


My nickname for my mother was "Uncle Mommy" because I told her she was the best uncle I ever had. Come out and celebrate your Momma at Ryan's Daughter on Saturday, May 9th @ 7pm. If you are a mother, we'll celebrate you!







Tuesday, April 14, 2015

"Gang Way!"

You know you’re old when you remember being stuck inside a discarded locked refrigerator.

In 1963, the thrown-out fridge with an intact door and functional handle was on the sidewalk in front of the Sullivan McNamara house on 83rd Street. We wanted to see how many kids could get in there and still lock it. After we took the metal trays out, four guys did fit inside when everyone pulled their stomachs in. You only played this game with close friends.

Everyone understood this was fun only if the door reopened quickly. We knew that a few years back on 80th Street, kids were locked in a fridge and when the guys on the outside tried to open it, the door handle broke off and the kids were trapped (Parents like to repeat horror stories). A Con Ed worker was watching the action from his hole in the street. He grabbed a sledge hammer and gave the side of the refrigerator a few good whacks. The door popped open, the kids got out but spent the rest of the day with the shakes.

Old refrigerators provided hours of pleasure, but new ones did too, or at least the boxes they came in did. The fridge box was huge, taller than any kid and made of sturdy heavy-duty cardboard. There were three games.

When the box was intact, a guy would get in and the guys on the outside would rattle the box and knock it over a few times, then each guy would take a turn getting in and slammed around. It was preferable not to go last, since you probably pissed someone off for playing too rough and they were looking to get even. This game would eventually knock out the bottom of the box.

When the bottom fell out, the box became a tank. We turned it on its side, and as many kids as possible would crawl in it and we’d begin to roll down the street, screaming, “Gang way! Gang way! Coming Through!” No one could see what was in front of them. Most of the time, people cleared the sidewalk and gave us room. We rolled over my brother Rory once, but he had on double winter clothes and hardly felt a thing. After a few trips up and down the block the tank would blow a gasket and tear.

We no longer had a cylinder, just a long wide strip of cardboard that was perfect for a sliding pond down the longer stoops in the neighborhood. The closest tall stoops were on the east side of York Avenue between 85th Street and 86th Street. We dragged the box over to one of those babies and played until the box blew its last breath.

If you like my work check out my memoir, "I Hate the Dallas Cowboys - tales of a scrappy New York boyhood." Available at Logos Book Store or online at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

art by Joe Dettmore

Mark your calendar, we're doing a special Mother's Day Eve "Stoops to Nuts" storytelling show on Saturday, May 9th from 7-10 pm, at Ryan's Daughter, 350 East 85th Street. 

FREE w/ COOL PRIZES






Monday, April 6, 2015

"Where's Kodak?"

Imagine you are a life-long Yorkville resident born in 1949 and you've spent 39 years in Mary Manning Walsh nursing home on York Avenue due to a life-altering brain injury suffered when you were mugged in John Jay Park walking your dog in 1976. You were twenty-seven when you became trapped to the wheelchair and you never have been outside the 72nd Street institutional building. Your family's gone. It's only you and because you are shy and have difficulty talking, people are put off and it's impossible to make one friend in the home.

But a young nun, a new nun notices you, she sees the intelligence in your eyes and begins a conversation with you through furiously written penciled notes passed back and forth. She's funny, street smart and she cares about who you are and what you like.

Once the comfort of connection sets in, Sister Beatrice asks, "How about I wheel you down to the river at the edge of 72nd Street and we watch the boats?" You force together the best grin you can manage with your uncooperative face muscles. She sees it, and smiles back. That's all you need. As she pushes your wheelchair through the York Avenue entrance for the first time in 39 years you look up at the strange images across the street and your first thought is, "Where's Kodak?"

Here are photos of scenes you would see from your wheelchair if an understanding nun took you down to the East River and along York Avenue. Here's a link to more photos.

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If you like my work check out my memoir, "I Hate the Dallas Cowboys - tales of a scrappy New York boyhood." Available locally at Logos Book Store or online at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.


Mark your calendar, we're doing a special Mother's Day Eve "Stoops to Nuts" storytelling show on Saturday, May 9th from 7-10 pm, at Ryan's Daughter, 350 East 85th Street.

FREE w/ COOL PRIZES

ps Kodak was across the street from the Home from 1929 to the late 70s. Sotheby bought the building and opened in 1980.




Sunday, April 5, 2015

Bunny Giganticus

Mom's center piece
"It's bigger than Nan's turkey!" Rory said.
"Leave me alone, it's too early."
"Tommy, I swear it's huge. Get up!"

I tried to punch Rory but missed and my momentum carried me out of the bunk bed onto the bedroom floor.  I got up and scratched my butt through my PJ's' on the short walk to the kitchen. 

"Holy crap!"

Rory was right. This was the largest chocolate bunny I'd ever seen. It took up half the space on the dinner table. Nearly twice the size of the big one in the window at Woolworth's on 86th Street. This monster rabbit was surrounded by painted Easter eggs and cream-filled chickadees. Mom out did herself, but this was no surprise with Mom when it came to chocolate and sweets. 

When she was 13, her class at St. Joseph's visited a candy factory in New Jersey owned by Father Heidi's family. When the kids were leaving the factory, the nun pulled Mom aside and patted her down. Mom had bars of chocolate stuck in various spots on her clothing and body. The nun grew suspicious when Mom kept her winter coat on for the whole trip despite the fact it was an unusually warm April day.

Ma, third from left on bottom,  St. Joe's 8th grade @1944



When I got home from school, I knew Mom was having a good afternoon if she had chocolate stuck between her teeth. She smiled a lot after chocolate, and smiled harder when Dad hit his thumb with a hammer.  Happy Easter, Ma. 

Rory, Tom, Rabbit, Upstate @1960


If you like my work check out my memoir, "I Hate the Dallas Cowboys - tales of a scrappy New York boyhood." Available locally at Logos Book Store or online at Amazon or B&N.


Mark your calendar, we're doing a special Mother's Day "Stoops to Nuts" storytelling show @ Saturday, May 9th @ 7-10pm, @ Ryan's Daughter on East 85th Street.



Wednesday, April 1, 2015

April Twilight On the East River

Approaching East End Avenue at twilight on 80th Street, passing the old East End Lanes bowling alley location, then further down the block, the spot where I bought my one and only, live then dead chicken for my grandmother who said "go get me a fresh chicken," but I didn't know the guy would kill my little buddy right in front of me.

After that horror review, I thought about my 1960s evenings on our 83rd Street roof in summer watching the sunset shadows creep across the face of the tall buildings on East End where the rich people lived. Rory, Dad and I viewed sports on our portable b&w TV on a card table with several extension cords via the fire escape from our 4th floor apt. Dad was a master planner. Then a short walk along the Drive after my dream watching the river flow up to 84th Street, followed by a peek at the Hockey Field and a walk out of the park up to York Avenue. I hate moving, but if I was loaded, I'd buy a townhouse on the 500 block of East 84th Street and live there happily the rest of my life.

If you like my work check out my memoir, "I Hate the Dallas Cowboys - tales of a scrappy New York boyhood."  Available locally at Logos Book Store or online at Amazon or B&N.


Here's a link to more photos from tonight.


East River from 81 St.
East River looking towards Triboro.
East River towards 59th St Bridge from 81 St.
Hockey Field
Playground
 lighthouse from 84th St.
84th St











Saturday, March 28, 2015

Yorkville Road Trip 1978

You're upstate New York in 1978 and you missed your exit on the Thruway so you made a U turn where you weren't supposed to because you didn't want to drive 22 extra miles to the next exit. You're with ten close friends (2 cars). Reaching Worchester, you buy enough Genesee Cream Ale & ice to make more trips to the store unnecessary over the long July 4th weekend. Well in to it, your friend Eddie runs out of cigarettes. Even he knows he shouldn't drive, and no one will drive him to the store 3 miles away. What does he do? He smokes four packs of firecrackers.

If you enjoy my work, check out my memoir, "I Hate the Dallas Cowboys - tales of a scrappy New York boyhood." It's available at Logos Bookstore, 1575 York Avenue, or buy it online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble or other booksellers. If you do read it, please leave a few honest words about the book on Amazon and B&N. Thank you.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Spring Sprung Broken ~ Winter's Final Hours in Central Park on the First Day of Spring

Last Friday, during winter's final hours on the first day of spring I took a long walk through Central Park in the snow. North of the Reservoir a brisk wind made swirly drifts here and there. Geese searched for food under the white blanket covering the rolling field between 97th Street and 100th Street. Same spot my Our Lady of Good Counsel's Yorkville football team practiced at in 1969. Half sleet was coming down by the time I reached the Botanical Gardens entrance. I discovered this beautiful oasis late in my life. My curled numb fingers inside my wet gloves told me this visit would not include twilight strolling.

I headed for Harlem Meer on the edge of the park and saw a nutty boy muscling his way through the snow on a small bike. Every half minute he stopped to clean his chain.  I enjoy how kids defy logic when it comes to things like what to do when it starts snowing? Of course, get my new bike out. That clash of need between using your new toy on the wrong battlefield. You gotta do it.

Children's defiance brought me back to sleigh riding on 79th Street on what we called Cherry Hill in the mid 1960s. My shivering brother, Rory, and I after countless rides rushed home to wrap our soaked clothing around the steam pipes and on top of radiators to get them dry (they stunk the place up) so we could go out a second time if Mom didn't tackle us at the doorway. We threw our clothes out the door down the landing and dressed in the hall to not give Mom a heads up we were on our way out. Because we never waited until everything was dry we usually got sick. And Mom loved the newsprint all over our asses and long johns from sticking newspaper down our dungarees and inside our boots.

March 24th is Mom's birthday. She loved snow. My family would have enjoyed the walk with me. Mom wearing her Babuska hat, Dad in his Elmer Fudd hat, and Rory sporting our Boy Scout Troop 654 approved yellow and green rubber boots we bought at Arbee's Army & Navy store on Second Avenue. A store that sold a majority of Yorkville kids' play clothing.

Want to see other Central Park photographs taken during the March 20th snowfall?

Here is a public album.

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If you enjoy my work, check out my memoir, "I Hate the Dallas Cowboys - tales of a scrappy New York boyhood." It's available at Logos Bookstore, 1575 York Avenue, or buy it online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble or other booksellers. If you do read it, please leave a few honest words about the book on Amazon and B&N. Thank you.

Babushka Mom & Rory.

 Dad & Rory















90 St & Fifth ~ same spot as above 2013