Thursday, September 27, 2012

John Hiatt's Slow Turning

Certain songwriters inspire me to the bone. Last night, I saw John Hiatt at the City Winery on Varick Street.  This venue made sense since long ago the space was the dance hall known as Heartbreak, a subject Hiatt lyrically majors in with a minor in regret.

Hiatt has a new record out, "Mystic Pinball," he played four songs from it last night and nothing reflects the quality of an artist like the seamless integration of new work into a show that knocks out the audience. Listening to the new tunes now and I love them.

But I do admit I snuck in Paper Thin, Drive South and Slow Turning  (lyrics below).

When I was a boy
I thought it just came to you
But I never could tell what's mine
So it didn't matter anyway
My only pride and joy
Was this racket down here
Bangin' on an old guitar
Singin' what I had to say
I always thought our house was haunted
'Cuz nobody said boo to me
I never did get what I wanted
But now I get what I need
It's been a slow turnin
'From the inside out
A slow turnin' baby
Spring St. & West Broadway looking south
But you come about
A slow learnin
'But you learn to sway-ah-hay-hay-hay
A slow turnin', baby
Not fade away, not fade away, not fade away
Now I'm in my car
Ooh, I got the radio down
Now I'm yellin' at the kids in the back
'Cuz they're bangin' like Charlie Watts
You think you've come so far
In this one horse town
Then she's laughin' that crazy laugh
'Cuz you haven't left the parkin' lot
Time is short and here's the damn thing about it
You're gonna die, gonna die for sure
And you can learn to live with love or without it
But there ain't no cure
It's just a slow turnin'
From the inside out
A slow turnin'
But you come about, ya
A slow turnin', baby
But you learn to sway-ah-hay-hay-hay
A slow turnin'
Not fade away, not fade away, not fade away...

My first book of photos, "River to River ~ New York Scenes from a Bicycle," is on sale for $12.95 @ Amazon. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Country Road

Here are a few more photos from the shore this past weekend. The island was eerie quiet giving the place the sense of a long time ago. Listened to James Taylor while I tooled around.

My first book of photos, "River to River ~ New York Scenes from a Bicycle," is on sale for $12.95 @ Amazon. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Summer's Last Kiss

Spent the last weekend of summer on Long Beach Island in New Jersey. Biked the barrier island up and down. Not much in life is better than a few daybreaks and sunsets at the beach. Here is a peek, more photos later in the week.

Indian Summer by The Doors

My first book of photos,  "River to River ~ New York Scenes from a Bicycle," is on sale for $12.95 @ Amazon.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Happy Half-Birthday to Me

Did you get the half-birthday card I sent you? You should have, I sent it a week ago. No matter how old I am, I never forget September 20th is my half-birthday. Reason is Uncle Norman, read below.
Mom had this thing with shoe stores. She always complained her feet hurt. We’d go in and out of Yorkville’s many shoe stores looking for the perfect comfortable shoe that she never found. Rory and I played on the store’s big ladder on wheels flying it back and forth across the floor with one of us hanging off with one arm free in front of the customers. This usually stopped when the clerk or Mom threw something at us. Then we’d pick up the foot-measuring device. It was all metal and looked like it held some secret code with its side measuring knobs. It must have been expensive because the clerk went bananas when we threw it. Rory tried on spiked heels he grabbed from the store’s front window display. He’d wobble up and down the carpet smiling from side to side. I studied him with one hand to my chin and my elbow to my leg. Involuntarily, my head swayed with him as he traveled back and forth, back and forth.
Rory and I liked two shoe stores best. One was “Salamander Shoes” on 86thStreet. The other was “Yorkville Shoes” on 83rd Street. Each store had a kid gimmick. Uncle Norman in “Yorkville Shoes” always made sure he knew your birthday. Then he’d send you a birthday card. Six months later, he’d send you another card wishing you a happy half-birthday. I’d get my half-birthday card and say out loud, “Boy that Uncle Norman is one swell guy. Hey Mom, I need a new pair of shoes. What do you think?”
Mom delivered her look. First of all, I never cared whether I had any shoes much less new ones. I only cared about new sneakers. The only thing that triggered me getting a new pair of shoes was a good rainstorm after a hole in my shoe’s sole developed. Either, I’d get home from school and Mom would notice my socks were wet, or I’d take off my blue socks and Mom would notice my feet were blue from the sock’s dye. Only then, Mom said, “Tomorrow we go for new shoes.”
The other store’s gimmick was a beauty. Salamander was the high-end shoe store in the neighborhood. If you had orthopedic needs, this was the place. I tested the laws of gravity by dropping my body from rarefied heights. My feet took most of the damage and had orthopedic needs. Here’s the gimmick. Salamander gave you a balloon with every pair of new shoes. What the cheapskates failed to give you was helium. The balloon was nice but filled with mere air; to hold it aloft Salamander’s management decided to put it on a straightened out metal shirt hanger. You left the store flying your balloon majestically above the stick of metal. Most kids never made it a full block before the metal punctured the balloon. This left an extremely disappointed kid carrying a straightened out hanger with a shred of rubber dangling from its tip. Most times, the kid took his frustration out on another kid.
If you were lucky, you might witness two kids leaving the store with their balloons at the same time. Walking in the same direction, smiles on their faces, arms outstretched, hoisting their balloons toward the clouds, screaming without sound, “Hey look at me!” “No, look at me!”
Suddenly one of the balloons burst. With no pause, the victim turned toward the still breathing balloon delivering a deathblow. The two aggrieved parties ~ a midget reenactment of the Hamilton-Burr incident, with hangers replacing traditional pistols, dueling to the death or stopping when a parent carefully intervened.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Yorkville's Secret Place

My brother, Rory loved adventures. In 1966, He joined Freddy Muller and me on one. Not sure who first discovered it, but starting at 70th Street near the FDR Drive down by the East River, you could enter the New York Hospital complex down a flight of stairs into a sub-basement that had a series of walking tunnels that led through many areas of the hospital.  The hair on the back of our necks stood up when we passed through the pathology area where every conceivable human body part was floating in liquid in huge glass jars. At first we went down the eerie tunnels because we could, but eventually found they led to the sub-basement of Olin Hall at 69th Street and York Avenue where we found a regulation size wood floor basketball court.

This made Freddy and me very happy and made Rory indifferent. He liked getting spooked and had no interest in sports. Next time Freddy and I brought a basketball and Rory wandered around until it was time for us to leave or we got chased by doctors playing a pick-up game. Eventually, the whole neighborhood found out the secret of the buried court at Olin Hall. That blew it for everyone, security now kept an eye out for us. Looking back, this was one of Rory and my best times together.

Here's one of Rory's favorite songs,  "Baker Street," by Jerry Rafferty.

And when you wake up, it's a new morning
The sun is shining, it's a new morning
You're going, You're going home.

My first book of photos,  "River to River ~ New York Scenes from a Bicycle," is on sale for $12.95 @ Amazon.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Rory Works Out

Rory working on his first six pack
Was thinking about my brother, Rory, this weekend. When we were kids on 83rd Street our tiny apartment was a space challenged back yard facing claustrophobic nightmare. Possessions were guarded carefully to avert Mom's frequent murder by dusting incidents. Our parents state of war over mess versus clean had no truce. Getting anything new into the place was harder than having your wife sneak Sears tools into a prison. Therefore, how did the next thing happen?

I assume my mother's shock temporarily cut off the air to her brain. If you want to hear the full story, come to Bar 82 tonight for We Three Productions Reading Event, I'm spilling the beans on "Bender's Barbell."

Story teaser:  June 1961, during one of our infrequent midweek on time dinners with all four of us at the kitchen table the doorbell rang. After we exchanged "a nobody rings our bell at this time" look, Mom said,"Who the hell is that?" Up comes Dad's friend, Al Bender, holding a barbell at his side that looks like it was made by the bearded lady while drunk on hootch as a birthday gift for her sweetie the circus strongman. Al says hello, softly places the barbell on the linoleum, and says before walking out, "Bob, I was bored at work and made this for your boys."
Tommy, 55 lbs, makes believe he will lift the 47 lb barbell

Here you see the barbell, Rory and me, three prisoners of 83rd Street working out. Come by tonight and hear our full tale. Rory is gone 14 years, but his spirit will float over Second Avenue tonight.

We Three Productions  
Mon, Sept 17th @ 8pm
free literary show
@ Bar 82 
136 2nd Avenue @ St. Marks


Book Event

Friday, October 5th @ 6:30pm

1607 York Avenue

All fans of "Yorkville: Stoops to Nuts" are welcome!

Mom, Rory's Tee Shirt, "What were you thinking?"

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Beautiful Day in Yorkville

Third Grade 
I'm heading to the St. Stephen of Hungary's Fair on East 82nd Street in an hour.

Later, I'll join the Yorkville Reunion at Ryan's Daughter on 85th Street.

To celebrate the neighborhood I'm selling my book, "River to River:  New York Scenes from a Bicycle," for $10 bucks.

I hope to see many of you on this gorgeous Saturday.

be well, Tommy

517 East 83rd Street

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Storytelling Breezes Cornelia Street

Storytelling breezed through Cornelia Street Cafe last night at the "City Stories: Stoops to Nuts" show.  A marvelous group of artists told, sang, played about love, loss, infidelity and Billy's Topless Bar.   Thank you, Leif Arntzen, Jennifer Demeritt, Rob Gorden, Lianne Smith and Tami Yellin for bringing your best to the Cafe.

Thank you, Steve Northeast, for your generous hosting, professional service and technical expertise. Everybody sounded terrific. Paul, thank you for keeping the customers satisfied. Robin, Angelo and Josh, thank you, for your warm support.

Thank you, everyone who came out last night and cheered us on.  Our next Stoops to Nuts show is Tuesday, October 9th. Thank you for buying my book last night!

I need your help if you have bought my first book of photographs, "River to River ~ New York Scenes from a Bicycle" online.  Could you let me know if you were happy with the shipping process by Amazon or YBK.  Some say the book arrived quickly, others have reported slow delivery.  The Publisher is trying to figure out if there is a glitch.  Thank you, Tommy.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Church of All Souls

On Lexington Avenue at the corner of 80th Street stands The Church of All Souls.

Last night circling the beautiful old structure and its grounds, thinking of today, I dwelled on the fact that keeping the memories of the dead in my heart is critical to my well being.  Storytelling relieves the pain of loss and generates comfort and warmth.

Later today, Tuesday, September 11th @ 6pm @ Cornelia Street Café we present our end of summer storytelling show, “City Stories: Stoops to Nuts.” Our artists: Jennifer Demeritt,  Rob Gorden,  Thomas Pryor,  Lianne Smith and  Tami Yellin.  Stories and songs will flourish. Admission is $ 8 and that includes a free drink.

If you do come to our show, want to let you know, I'm selling my first book of photographs, "River to River ~ New York Scenes from a Bicycle" tonight at a bargain price.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Groovin' On A Sunday Afternoon

It's a beautiful morning and I have the Young Rascals on my mind. The weather, my bicycle, and my parks were all good to me this weekend."Groovin's" lyrics were inspired by a Sunday hanging out at Bethesda Fountain in Central Park. I hit Central Park and Carl Schurz Park twice each this weekend. Life is good. Here are a few photos.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, September 11th @ 6pm @ Cornelia Street Café we present our end of summer storytelling show, “City Stories: Stoops to Nuts.” Our artists: Jennifer Demeritt,  Rob Gorden,  Thomas Pryor,  Lianne Smith and Tami Yellin. Unbelievably, you will be transported to each of their own planets where stories and songs flourish. Admission is $ 8 and that includes a free drink.

My first book of photographs, "River to River ~ New York Scenes from a Bicycle" was published by YBK Publishers. Photos, captions and an essay in an 8 x 11 format.

The book is available at Amazon for $12.95.