Saturday, May 28, 2011

Twilight on Orchard Street




Walked down Orchard Street last night on my way to Broome Street for a reading. Lazy holiday light hung over the Lower Eastside at 7:45pm.

Friday, May 27, 2011

It's My Job ~ Cheer the Puppy Up!


Ted, my friend's dog, did something bad, very bad. But that was last week and Ted still has his "I'm sorry" face on.

Well, I'm bringing Ted with me tonight so he can listen to me read a funny story. I promise to cheer him up, and you, too, if you make it down to Mr. Beller's Reading Series @ Happy Ending Lounge @ 302 Broome Street @ 8pm... It's free!

See area map below for closest subway lines. The # 6 train is also close by. Get off at Spring Street stop. Walk south to Broome Street then walk east on Broome until you get to 302.

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Flight to Manhattan








Celebrating successful dental work I biked to Coney to tell the birds about the reading tomorrow night. Yelling up to them from the parking lot next to Vinny’s house with the rooftop pigeon coop, I said, “Hope you’re all coming down to Happy Ending Lounge… ,”

Before I could finish my sentence the birds took flight for the city to get a good seat for Mr. Beller’s Neighborhood reading series. Friday, May 27 at Happy Ending Lounge, 302 Broome Street, between Forsyth and Eldridge Streets at 8 p.m.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Ronzoni Asylum



Dad called Mom once a day on the nights he came home from work.

“Hi, How’s it going?”

“Hectic. They’re driving me crazy.”

“What are we eating?”

“Surprise, #9.”

“Great, see you later.”

If you look carefully at the bag of garbage in the photo on top you see an empty box of Ronzoni pasta. It’s a square box so for a change we weren’t eating Ronzoni #9 Spaghetti. My guess, it was Rigatoni. If you opened Mom’s pantry you'd find at least ten boxes of different styles of Ronzoni pasta. Rory’s eyes and my eyes were bloodshot from eating Mom’s Marinara sauce. Dad controlled dinner and anything but Ronzoni was cause for a parade around the kitchen table.

Friday night, I’ll read a story from inside the Ronzoni asylum.

Please come down to the reading.

Friday, May 27 at Happy Ending Lounge, 302 Broome Street, between Forsyth and Eldridge Streets at 8 p.m. This is part of Mr. Beller's Neighborhood's Reading Series.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Spooky Central Park

When the light fades, Central Park gets frightful. If you want to be terrified, come hear me read "Murder by Dusting," a story about childrens toys vanishing at an alarming rate.

This coming Friday, May 27th @ Happy Ending Lounge @ 302 Broome Street @ 8pm. Part of Mr. Beller's Neighborhood's Reading Series. Scary stuff.

http://www.happyendinglounge.com/

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More spooky Central Park pix here.

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Monday, May 23, 2011

Keith Moon's in the Loo


Eddie Ekis, the great Yorkville rock drummer practiced daily in his 82nd Street basement. He had an inside line on the space with the building’s superintendent, his mother. One day, the boiler blew up. Luckily, Eddie and his drums weren’t there, but he needed to practice and the basement was off limits. Setting the drums up in his apartment drove the neighbors crazy, so resourceful Eddie decided to set up his kit in his bathroom with the door closed. Being windowless, the bathroom was a perfect little recording studio. Eddie brought in his tape player with headphones, sat on the bowl and practiced to his heart’s content. Here's a picture of Eddie at work. Keith Moon smiled down on Edward.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Holy Ghost Visits Coney Island


Yesterday, I rode out to Coney Island just in case trouble started at 6pm. Well, the weather cleared up and The Rapture took a rain check.

Waiting on a sunny day paid off.

But to my surprise, the Holy Ghost appeared. I was thrilled because I hadn't seen my old friend since 8th grade at St. Stephen's in 1968. He was my liturgical partner on my Friday rounds selling religious articles door to door. Moving catechisms, rosaries and statues was a fine way to get out of class and earn money.

Traveling the school’s halls, I reminded everyone to save their pennies till Friday, when the Holy Cart rolled into town with gifts and notions for every occasion. I assured my fellow altar boys that the Holy Ghost loved making sales calls with me.

“Each Friday he leaves his perch on the side of the altar to fly alongside the Holy Cart on its rounds. We’re a liturgical team!”

My colleagues made circles around the sides of their heads while whistling.

Read more about hanging with the Holy Ghost in "The Holy Cart."

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Friday, May 20, 2011

Yorkville Stickball Champ at 73


Catching and throwing a ball is a communion between two people. There is something deeply satisfying in sending a ball from one glove to another. You share a sixth sense with your partner and it makes you closer than you realize.

Two months ago, I spent an afternoon with Ron Weiss, a 73 year old baseball player. We walked around Yorkville and Ron showed me his playing fields from the 1940s and 1950s. It was a great trip through the neighborhood's past.

Our Town and The Westside Spirit ran my "City Stories: Stoops to Nuts,"column on Ron today.

Pictures below: Ron in 1949 on 82nd Street between 2nd & 3rd Avenue. Below that is Ron in same spot on 82nd Street in 2011. Third picture is Ron sliding in Central Park in 1949.

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Son of A Son of A Sailor





In February 1941, on a Saturday morning, my father woke up and found his father drinking coffee alone in the kitchen with only the winter light coming in through the backyard window. My grandmother and uncle had left for work. Dad, 11, talked baseball with his Dad for an hour while eating three bowls of cereal. My 40 year old grandfather, ill with Potts Disease, a late stage Tuberculosis, told his son he needed to rest and suggested Dad go out and play. Dad got dressed took his mother’s scarf on his father’s suggestion, then he got a long hug and a wet kiss from his father and a good bye in his ear, twice.

After my father left, my grandfather pushed himself up from the table, grabbed a bunch of towels and stuck them under the front door and all around the two windows. He closed the door between the rooms pulled a chair over to the oven, stuck his head in it and killed himself. My father found his father dead an hour later.

Today is Dad’s birthday, if he were here he’d be 82 and he’d still be expecting a call a day and a kiss on the lips, hello and goodbye. When I was young I didn’t understand his strong grip on Rory and my life. He was a suffocating son of a bitch but I guess he wanted to make sure we didn’t leave him.

Lucky for me, he was the most interesting pain in the ass I’ve ever known, and I miss him every day. His artistic and mechanical talent was boundless, barely owning an education (his early schooling was movies and music at the Paramount) he read everything and could talk any subject intelligently. He knew every joke ever told, and told them well. Most of all he was a sailor, in his heart and in his soul. No conversation was ever far away from a reference to the sea, the Navy, the Merchant Marines, or his three trips around the world.

Dad joined the Navy on his 17th birthday in 1946 after a failed attempt the previous year to get in before the war ended. They caught him lying about his age. After two years in the Navy he spent three in the Merchant Marines.

If Dad didn’t meet Mom, he would have made a career at sea. He loved us dearly but never lost his yearning to be a sailor. We often heard at home, “if it wasn’t for you I’d be on the ocean.” He told me his father’s fondest wish was to be a sailor. Maybe in his heart that’s what my grandfather was. Being a sailor must have been a dreamy place to go to when he was a boy in the Staten Island orphanage and later when the disease sent him to Tuberculosis Sanatoriums for 7 of his 10 years. Maybe my Dad wanted to finish his Dad’s dream. For five years, he got the chance.

That makes me a Son of a Son of a Sailor.

Happy birthday, Dad.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

"On Three, Make a Stupid Face" ~ Freedomland 1962


“OK, go stand against the wall.” Dad said.

“Oh God, another friggin picture.” Mom mumbled down towards the top of Rory and my head.

We just stepped off the Lexington Avenue local at the end of the line: the Pelham Bay Park El subway stop. With his Yashica 44 camera hanging from his neck, Dad was gathering us for our first group shot before the train we got off, pulled out. On our way to Freedomland, the terrific new amusement park in the north Bronx, Dad thought he'd capture every step of the way. Every step. The three of us took a vote and Dad won “biggest pain in the ass of all time,” and we didn’t even get to the ticket booth yet.

“No, no, Tommy on the left, Patty, you in the middle, Rory on the right.” Dad said.

“I want to be in the middle!”

“Rory, be quiet.”

After the three of us were placed in dog show positions, Dad said, “Hold still, and smile when I count to three.”

Mom said through her tight lips,”On three, make a stupid face.”

“One, two… three!”

And here it is. The most revealing photo in my family history. Mom and I in cahoots make stupid faces, Rory is still pissed off at Dad for not letting him stand in the middle.

Because we ruined Dad’s photo, he walked ahead of us and didn’t talk to us for an hour. Which was just fine with Rory, since he was always mad at Dad, and vice versa. Mom was thrilled she pushed Dad’s button. My stomach hurt from being caught in the middle.

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Two events coming up: I'm reading at "Mr. Beller's Neighborhood Reading Series" on Friday, May 27th @ 8pm @ Happy Ending Lounge on Broome Street **** our next "City Stories: Stoops to Nuts Storytelling show" @ Cornelia Street Cafe @ Tuesday, June 14th @ 6pm. Details to follow on both events.


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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Horn & Hardart ~ The Original NYC Fast Food


“My family was on the dole when I was a kid,” Mom said in the steaming street.

“What’s that?” Rory asked me.

“Means you’re on a special pineapple diet,” I told him.

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It was the middle of May and the temperature was 82 degrees at 11 in the morning. After getting thrown out of the cool bank for loitering, Mom pushed Rory & me down 86th Street in the stroller and told us a story. “It’s not like the old days. When I was a kid you could spend the whole day in the Horn & Hardart coin-mat with a few nickels in your pocket. Steaming coffee came out of the mouth of a brass dolphin. Best baked beans on earth. Macaroni & cheese from God.

My knucklehead cousin, John, once put a nickel in a machine to get a glass of milk. Then he yelled train wreck, and showed me his open mouth full of lemon meringue pie. He was so proud of himself he forgot to stick a glass under the milk spout. Quick thinking, he stuck his hat underneath the spout and collected the milk the hard way.”

Mom rubbed the sweat off the back of her neck and said, “It’s a scorcher. Let’s go find me some shoes.

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Monday, May 16, 2011

Up On The Roof







One way to see the rarified heights of New York City on a fixed income is to join a writing group that rotates meeting places.

As spring edges towards summer the odds are high that someone hosting a meeting will live in a nice place with roof access. Don't miss this meeting!

Rain or shine, tar beach will provide views to make your socks go up and down.

I highly recommend you join a writing group ~ and I'll meet you up on the roof.

See other roof pix here.