Tuesday, September 27, 2016

"Getting to Know You, Getting to Know All About You"

Today is my parents wedding anniversary or as I refer to it the anniversary of the opening volley at Fort Sumter. My parents battled over anything. The 1954 New York story below depicts one of their classic brawls. It’s an excerpt from my memoir, “I Hate the Dallas Cowboys: tales of a scrappy New York boyhood.”

The apartment in Woodside overlooked the No. 7 El and the Long Island Rail Road. The two train lines crisscrossed, and one train rattled over another train all day long.  It was March 1954, a year after Mom’s ketchup-smeared death on the kitchen floor.
“I need food!” Patty pleaded, rubbing her big belly in the kitchen.
“There’s plenty of food,” Bob answered, playing with the bunny ears on top of the living room TV.
“YOU’RE A LIAR!” Patty opened the refrigerator and eyed the contents for the fifth time in five minutes.
“There’s no food-food, only junk. I want bread, I want bacon, I want Hellman’s mayonnaise!”
Disregarding her request, Bob shook ice into the spaghetti pot that was chilling his six bottles of Rheingold. Wiping his hands on a dish towel, he definitely heard Patty’s next statement: “Get off your bony ass and get me food!”
Bob ignored this, too. It was “Friday Night at the Fights” and he’d just settled in – first round, first beer. Desiring perfect comfort, Bob moved a hassock over to put his feet up. While doing this, he missed the left hook that sent one of the boxers to the canvas with a thud. Unfortunately, Bob’s man was down. So was Bob, $20. After the stiff was counted out, the telecast went to a commercial. Disappointed, but now available for chores, Bob wrapped his arm around his extremely pregnant wife’s head.
She pushed him away. “Get off. You know I hate anyone touching my head.”
Bob bent over, kissed Patty’s cheek and asked her softly, “What do you need, Hon?”
Patty reeled off five items, and aimed her lips up to kiss Bob on the mouth.
Back from the store, Bob put his beers in the fridge, washed the pot and put water on for spaghetti. Grabbing a black frying pan, he made two bacon sandwiches with extra mayo on Silvercup bread. After serving Patty both sandwiches, he took a beer and joined her at the kitchen table.
“So, we’re decided on baby names, right?” Bob said. “Marc Anthony if he’s a boy, and Alison Leigh if she’s a girl.”
Bob smiled. Patty did not.
“You’re so full of shit. The girl’s name is fine. When you name the boy Marc Anthony, be sure you walk carefully over my dead body. Because that’s the only way that stupid guinea name will ever appear on my son’s birth certificate.”
Bob’s expression fell.
“Oh, cut the crap and get that stupid puss off your face.”
“So what name do you want?”
“Rory,” she said.
 “Huh?”
“R-O-R-Y, Rory.”
“Like Calhoun, the movie cowboy?”
“Yes, it’s an old Gaelic name meaning Red King.”
“Red? Our hair is black. It’s a girly name – you’re guaranteeing he’ll get the shit kicked out of him.”
It grew quiet. The only sound in the room was Patty’s low hum. She loved bacon.
Fracturing the silence, Bob said, “It’ll be Rory when Brooklyn wins the World Series.”
“I’ll alert the press.”
Bob said, “Give me an alternative.”
“Nope,” Patty said in between bites.
“Then I’ll give you one: Thomas.”
“That’s inspired.” Patty pointed her sandwich at Bob. “I thought we agreed, no fathers’ names?”
“It’s my brother’s name, too.”
“You mean we’re going to name him after Stone Face?”
“That’s my compromise. You’ll get to name the next baby.”
Patty swallowed a large bite of mayo, with a little bit of bacon and bread attached to it. She chewed slowly, wiped her mouth, and said, “OK.”
On March 20th, Patty gave birth to an eight-pound boy. When the nurse let Bob into the recovery room and he saw Patty cradling the baby, he started to cry. 
“Oh stop your blubbering and give me a kiss.”
“How do you feel?”
“Not too swift,” Patty said, wiping sweat from her brow.
Bob, lightly rubbing the baby’s dark hair, asked, “How’s Tommy?”
“Doctor said he’s fine. Isn’t he beautiful?”
Bob picked up the wrinkled, red-faced boy. He thought the baby’s head looked like a grapefruit. A gorgeous grapefruit. Bob held the baby for a long time, then returned him to Patty.
“I have to fill out the birth certificate. I was thinking about Robert as a middle name,” Bob said.
“No,” she answered.
“Why not?”
“You picked the first name. I pick the middle name.”
“No, no, no, you get to name the next baby.”
            “No, I get to name the next baby’s first name, and you get to name the next baby’s second name.”
“But…” Bob said, uselessly.
“No buts.” Patty closed the discussion. “Tommy’s middle name is Rory.”
That night, Bob temporarily parked his anger over Mom’s choice of middle name, and hailed a cab to his old Manhattan neighborhood. He celebrated his first son by dancing on the bar in Loftus Tavern on 85th Street and York Avenue. A month later, the boy was christened, Thomas Rory. When the priest repeated the boy’s second name, Bob rolled his eyes.
A year and a half later, Thanksgiving 1955, Bob and Patty told their families they were expecting again. Throughout the pregnancy, Patty kept Bob in the dark about names. He begged and whined for hints. Late in Patty’s term, Bob tried to bribe her by hiding candy bars around the apartment, promising to reveal locations only if she told him the name. Patty never cracked.
On June 20th, Patty gave birth to a perfect boy. Bob dropped Tommy off with Bob’s mother and went directly to the hospital. The room was dimly lit; the baby was sleeping in Patty’s arms. She gave Bob a weak wave. He went over to kiss mother and son. Patty gently held Bob’s arm, keeping him close. She tilted her head, signaling him to lean in so she could whisper something. Bob pressed his ear to Patty’s dry lips.
“Rory, his name is Rory,” she said.
Bob backed away. “That’s nuts – we’ve already got a Rory.”
“Shush! Middle names don’t count. You promised.”
Bob knew he’d been had. In desperation, he blurted, “His middle name is Robert.”
“Who cares?” she said.
Patty settled back into bed, gave Bob a sly smile and squeezed her Rory tight.



************************


Wed, Sept 28 @11am 

@ Big Six Towers @ 60-10 Queens Blvd


I'm bringing my "City Boy" show to Queens, tomorrow, Wed, Sept 28 @ 11am @ Big Six Towers @ 60-10 Queens Blvd @ Woodside.  One block away from my dead relatives across the street in Calvary Cemetery. Our Host, the Big Six Short Story Group, is serving a light lunch and there will be a discussion after the show. The Public is welcome, suggested donation $10.





Directions: take the Q60 Bus to 60th street and Queens Blvd or #7 train to 61 St/ Woodside then walk across Roosevelt Ave towards Queens Blvd and keep walking in that direction until you cross Queens Blvd than. Go the entrance to 99 cent store/pharmacy (up the steps that are INSIDE the shopping center). When you get up the steps go through the hallway on the left to the first door on the right. (There is also an elevator) If lost, ask where are the NORC Offices. My phone number is 917-648-2414.
Poster for the "City Boy" premiere 7/21/16

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 and online.

The book has 121 Amazon five star reviews out of 121 total reviews posted. We're pitching a perfect game. My old world echoes TV's "The Wonder Years" ~ just add taverns, subways and Checker cabs.

I'll also sell copies of my book at the Sept 28th "City Boy" show 





praise for the book:

“Thomas R. Pryor has written a sweet, funny, loving memoir of growing up old-school in a colorful New York neighborhood. A story of sports, family, and boyhood, you’ll be able to all but taste, smell, and feel this vanished world.”

Kevin Baker, author of the novels “Dreamland,” Paradise Alley,” and “Strivers Row,” as well as other works of fiction and nonfiction


“Tommy Pryor’s New York City boyhood was nothing like mine, a few miles and a borough away, and yet in its heart, tenderness, and tough teachable moments around Dad and ball, it was the mid-century coming of age of all of us. A rousing read.”

Robert Lipsyte, former city and sports columnist, The New York Times


“Pryor could take a felt hat and make it funny.”

Barbara Turner-Vesselago, author of “Writing Without A Parachute: The Art of Freefall”


“Pryor burrows into the terrain of his childhood with a longing and obsessiveness so powerful it feels like you are reading a memoir about his first great love.”

Thomas Beller, author of “J.D. Salinger: The Escape Artist”

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Chauffeur Service for a Second-String QB in The New York Times

Bronx Warriors 1974
Two days ago, my 1974 Bronx Warriors story was on


page A23 in The New York Times, 9.20.16, hard copy.

City Boy's in Queens next Wednesday.

"City Boy" @ Wed, Sept 28 @ 11am
@ Big Six Towers @ 60-10 Queens Blvd

Barnes & Noble book release for "I Hate The Cowboys - tales of a scrappy New York Boyhood."

Thank you,  Joe Dettmore, for this wonderful three minute "City Boy" promo short.

Doug blocking, I cut inside when he pushed LB right


Poster for the "City Boy" premiere 7/21/16

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 and online.

The book has 121 Amazon five star reviews out of 121 total reviews posted. We're pitching a perfect game. My old world echoes TV's "The Wonder Years" ~ just add taverns, subways and Checker cabs.

I'll also sell copies of my book at the Sept 28th "City Boy" show 



Wednesday, September 21, 2016

City Boy ~ On The Road to Queens Sept 28 @ 11am

art work by Joe Dettmore
I'm bringing my "City Boy" show to Queens, next Wed, Sept 28 @ 11am @ Big Six Towers @ 60-10 Queens Blvd @ Woodside.  One block away from my dead relatives across the street in Calvary Cemetery. Our Host, the Big Six Short Story Group, is serving a light lunch and there will be a discussion after the show. The Public is welcome, suggested donation $10.

This show premiered at Cornelia Street Cafe July 21, 2016 to a packed house. This will be my second time performing City Boy.


Wed, Sept 28 @11am 
@ Big Six Towers @ 60-10 Queens Blvd



Directions: take the Q60 Bus to 60th street and Queens Blvd or #7 train to 61 St/ Woodside then walk across Roosevelt Ave towards Queens Blvd and keep walking in that direction until you cross Queens Blvd than. Go the entrance to 99 cent store/pharmacy (up the steps that are INSIDE the shopping center). When you get up the steps go through the hallway on the left to the first door on the right. (There is also an elevator) If lost, ask where are the NORC Offices. My phone number is 917-648-2414.

Poster for the "City Boy" premiere 7/21/16

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 and online.

The book has 121 Amazon five star reviews out of 121 total reviews posted. We're pitching a perfect game. My old world echoes TV's "The Wonder Years" ~ just add taverns, subways and Checker cabs.

I'll also sell copies of my book at the Sept 28th "City Boy" show 



Friday, September 16, 2016

Rory's Smile

My passion for New York City and it's neighborhoods developed a long time ago when Dad and Mom dragged us all over town walking, biking, subways, cabs, boats and buses. We had no car so we never got anywhere quickly. This left a lot of time to think about what we were seeing and where we were going, and view things more slowly than if you flew by in a Buick. As a kid you tend to pick something visual to focus on to avoid boredom and my brother, Rory, and I had lots of targets. Add Dad's obsessive photo taking, and I ended up with a broad pictorial record of most of our trips around the city in the 1950s and 1960s. In most of these photographs, Rory is front and center, the lead player in the scene. My powerful memories revive the action.

Looking at these pictures, Rory's engaged photogenic face always makes me think we had a better time than we really did. I never mind this delusion.

Rory passed away eighteen years ago today. He was 42. Rory was a terrific artist. He sketched, sculpted and painted. When Rory wasn't doing his art, he struggled. Each day was hard for him. I wish it was otherwise, and I miss him. My photos give me comfort, but it'd be more fun doing it with Rory. Making art together. I wish he was here.







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.

The book has 121 Amazon five star reviews out of 121 total reviews posted. We're pitching a perfect game. My old world echoes TV's "The Wonder Years" ~ just add taverns, subways and Checker cabs.



Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Past Creeps In

1599 York Ave @2016
Over the last three months, I've spent too much time indoors inside a hot run down railroad apartment that is one block away from where both my grandparents lived. It's crooked floors from the sunken wood beams and cracked walls from the building's hundred years of settling, brings back mixed memories. Here's an early draft from a scene in my memoir, "I Hate The Dallas Cowboys - tales of a scrappy New York boyhood."

Being with my parents together meant entering a war zone. The space was negotiated rather than shared. Rory and I played an assortment of survival games. It was always better to spend time with them separate and alone. We prayed for it. Dad was more interesting but impossible to please. He left his best on the walls and shelves of our apartment. He was an artist. Beautiful ink sketches and perfect miniature furniture that filled the dollhouses he sold out of the antique stores along Lexington Avenue. I never understood how he did focused exacting work, but had slim tolerance or patience with most other things. His nerves were shot. My nerves were shot. We were alike. This drove us crazy and apart. He loved me deeply but always approached my activities with a morbid expectation that something was going to go wrong. I attributed his sense of dread about my brother and me to his finding his father dead with his head in the kitchen’s oven when he was 11 years old in 1941. Dad was a multi-talented, interesting, time bomb.
1616 York Ave. @1961

Mom was a trip to Rye Beach. If we could have fun - why not? Dad was out every Friday night and that was our time. I was Mom’s Cow-Cow Boogie, and she was my Uncle Mommy, the best uncle I ever had, and younger Rory would be in bed by nine. Then heaven. The Twilight Zone and Hitchcock. Bliss. Our apartment was small, our couch tiny. Mom and I barely fit on it together but some how we always settled in. Nothing ever replaced it.


When I was sick and home from school I'd lay on the couch. Real bored I developed a torture/tickle sequence for Mom. For torture I’d move the art. If Mom was in the kitchen or doing anything I felt left me enough time, I’d move the art. Leaving the couch quietly I’d carefully skew every frame holding Dad’s art on the wall, moving them just enough to confuse anyone that cared they were no longer perfectly straight. My art was to intuitively know when enough was enough because many times my opportunity was fragile. When Mom left the room, it was critical that I return to the couch and resume my Camille death scene before Mom came back. The tower’s light in my head took only so many seconds to circle the prisoners' courtyard. When she returned I measured my success by the number of face twitches I counted on Mom’s face as her eyes rolled around and around the room. She never wanted to give in, and acknowledge I did it, because it drove her crazy. She’d give me a pathetic look that said,

Please don’t do this to me?
Did you do this to me?”
Why do you do this to me?
Don’t you know what this does to me?


And when she could no longer bear it she’d chase me and beg me to never do it again. I’d promise to stop but never meant it.

The tickle mommy part happened deep in the day I was home sick. Mom would be exhausted, and I was bored stiff. We’d reversed places. She took to the couch and I started going through my drawers looking for something new to do. Or at least repeat something worth repeating. I'd wait till Mom was either in a foggy coma or out like a light. In my room I'd put a sock over each of my ears snug. Then I'd work a 45 record single onto each ear pulling the sock through the record’s center hole, bend my ear over like a taco and also pull it through the record’s hole. Now the socks were proper puppy ears. Crawling through my room I’d work my way to the back of the couch. Continuing on my belly, I'd round the couch coming face to face with sleeping Mom. In a whisper I’d slowly build a doggy bark, “woof, woof, woof,” never to frighten her just slowly bring Mom to. She’d start laughing, lean over and pull my head up to hers’ kissing my crew cut and nuzzling me good. We’d rock together. It was our perfect moment.

Dad and I never had such moments.  His ride was the Coney Island variety. Loose bolts, broken safety belts and people getting sick in front and the back of you. We loved each other, shared major interests but approached these interests from different points of view that usually led to multi-car accidents. Dad had an uncanny skill. We'd be having a conversation, and I knew it was a conversation and without knowing when or how that conversation became an argument… What did I miss?
 Did someone get the license plate number? Frantically I'd search for the point we flipped over but rarely could I even come close to guessing when and why we switched streams. Always felt like we were going through Hell Gate in a canoe with a wino at the oar. I'd love to give you an example but I swear I can't. How this happened still eludes me.

Lake @1963


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.

The book has 121 Amazon five star reviews out of 121 total reviews posted. We're pitching a perfect game. My old world echoes TV's "The Wonder Years" ~ just add taverns, subways and Checker cabs.



 



Saturday, September 10, 2016

Rejuvenating with Peter Wolf @ City Winery

Ain't Nothing But A House Party, every time I see Peter Wolf kick ass with his terrific band, The Midnight Travelers. Been doing it to it since 1973 at The Academy of Music on 14th Street. Making it better is seeing the Wolfman at City Winery last night with my pals, Kyle, Joe & Adam.

Here's a link to lots more photos from the Wolfman show.





Tuesday, August 23, 2016

My Hero, Kennedy Moore

The best real estate agent on the Upper Eastside? Kennedy Moore. Last winter, Kennedy found a one bedroom well lit apt in an elevated building on 88St, a hundred feet from Carl Schurz Park for $1900 a month.
My all time champ indecisive 92 yr old buddy, Walter, declined. Leaving him on the fourth floor of a walk-up he moved into in 1942. Yes, he could have afforded the $1900 for many years.

Funny, how life delivers ties that bind you never see coming. Walter was my Dad's best friend. Mom loved Walter. Treated him a brother.


Walter has unopened bottles of Old Spice, English Leather & Hai Karate. Clearly, he's never been lonely for female companionship.
Three cheers for Kennedy, you rock, my friend.








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.

The book has 121 Amazon five star reviews out of 121 total reviews posted. We're pitching a perfect game. My old world echoes TV's "The Wonder Years" ~ just add taverns, subways and Checker cabs.




Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Volia's... For Your Unmentionable Needs



Viola's, Yorkville's premier Lingerie Shop, has supplied bras, girdles, rear lifters, and other support products to the women in my family for 66 years! (anniversary sign's been in the window for six years) How do you think the ladies look so good in the old pictures?

Viola helped the girls keep it in, when they didn't want it out.



I remember being in the Five & Ten's candy aisle with Mom. She manhandled a giant bag of M&M's out of my hands and said to no one in particular, "Jeez! This bra's killing me!" I waved bye to the candy as she pushed Rory and me in the stroller a few stores down to Viola's for a purchase.



If you have unmentionable needs and hope to ever get that girlish figure back, you best get yourself to Viola's, tout suite! Their lingerie and hosiery sleep in fine boxes folded tidy like Mom folded your things in the small suitcase when you were young and she was sending you away with a big smile on her face. Don't you miss that smile? Well, if you go to Viola's and the ladder's in place, and the lady goes up the ladder, and pulls down a few boxes and opens them carefully for you, the memories will flood back. Yes, they will. Viola's!  66 proud years protecting, hiding and enhancing Yorkville figures.




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.

The book has 120 Amazon five star reviews out of 120 total reviews posted. We're pitching a perfect game. My old world echoes TV's "The Wonder Years" ~ just add taverns, subways and Checker cabs.






Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Kevin Baker Praises "I Hate The Dallas Cowboys"

Tommy & NY Giants Chaplain Fr. Benedict Dudley O.F.C
"Thomas R. Pryor has written a sweet, funny, loving memoir of growing up old-school in a colorful New York neighborhood. A story of sports, family, and boyhood, you'll be able to all but taste, smell, and feel this vanished world."

Kevin Baker, author of "Dreamland," "Luna Park," "Sometimes You See It Coming," "Strivers Row," "Paradise Alley," and other works of fiction and non-fiction.








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.

The book has 120 Amazon five star reviews out of 120 total reviews posted. We're pitching a perfect game. My old world echoes TV's "The Wonder Years" ~ just add taverns, subways and Checker cabs.





Sunday, August 14, 2016

Spaldeen

I never felt lonely,
even on a dead summer day,
if I had a Spaldeen in my pocket.
The possibilities for a game were boundless.




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.

The book has 120 Amazon five star reviews out of 120 total reviews posted. We're pitching a perfect game. My old world echoes TV's "The Wonder Years" ~ just add taverns, subways and Checker cabs.