Tuesday, March 28, 2017

On Three, Smile ~ City Boy Returns to Ryan's Daughter

This photo taken by my Dad won Our Town Eastsider photo contest.

Hope to see you this Saturday. 

@ Ryans Daughter this Saturday, April 1st @ 7pm.
Our talented storytelling guests: Tricia Alexandro, Joe Dettmore, J.P. Connolly
 and City Boy in a special appearance 







every picture tells a story...  don't it?

“OK, go stand against the wall.” Dad said. “Oh God, another annoying picture.” Mom mumbled. Summer 1961, 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. 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 neck 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 upset 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.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Kenny DeVoe's Magic Nose Live @ Ryan's Daughter April Fool's April 1st @ 7pm @ Ryan's Dughter

Thomas Pryor's April Fools Stoops to Nuts Soiree
next Saturday, April 1st @ 7pm @ Ryans Daughter

"Kenny DeVoe's Magic Nose"

Walking to school the day Mom asked Dad for a house money raise, I smiled, remembering it was Good Friday. That afternoon we’d be doing the Stations of the Cross in the church. Right after lunch, I said, “Sister, can I be excused?” The nun made a face but she had to let me go down to the sacristy to transform into an altar boy. The rest of the class and the whole school assembled in the pews a half hour later. Kids ate the Stations of the Cross up. It was theatre. Two altar boys with gigantic candles would stand to the side of a third boy carrying Jesus on what to me looked like a heavy duty stickball bat with a crucifix on top. You felt like you were in the Roman Legion and you got to leave the altar and walk up and down the church aisles. “Look at me!” Standing right next to your chums and pretty older girls who couldn’t make you go away. That particular afternoon, things got interesting.
Kenny Devoe loved altar wine and for some reason would never drink it directly from the gallon jug. He carefully poured the wine into the cruet, the tiny glass vessel used during the mass. This drove me crazy. First problem was a twelve-year-old drinking wine. Did Kenny think he was going to get in more trouble or less trouble depending on his method for getting it into his stomach? The other problem was his slow wine transfer meant he was tripling the chance of getting caught. We knew if Kenny got busted our indictments were sealed. School rule - If you’re there, you did it.
That day, Kenny drank too much. When the altar bells rang, we led the priest out of the sacristy to the center of the altar to start the procession. I had a candle, Smithy had the cross and Kenny the other candle. At the ninth station, when Jesus carrying the cross falls for the third time, the entire student body cheered him on with practiced sarcasm learned from first grade through eighth grade; they read from their missals, “Jesus – exhausted – in pain – for the third and final time. Long pause here BUT, NO! Jesus rose and struggled on!”
Three hundred little boxing announcers sounding like Don Dunphy at ringside screamed, ‘our Lord had risen from the canvas back into the heat of the battle.’ The nuns flew around the church wanting to thump somebody but really couldn’t do anything, while the getting-away-with-murder insolent children picked up the reading speed leading towards an early dismissal. The nuns tried to slow it down but the three hundred-voice rock was rolling downhill. After a good giggle, I looked around the church for some of my friends, when I noticed Kenny nodding off into the flame at the top of his candle. I nudged Smith carrying the pole, who nudged Kenny, but Kenny was well past that point. He was a sleeping horse standing up in his stall. After a hard nudge, Kenny’s head lifted up with a jolt, he shook his noggin and wiggled his nose. Then he gradually dropped back into the flame. We pulled Kenny along through the rest of the stations. By the end, his nose smelt like skirt steak. Kenny left the altar boys that week. His nose, first purple, and then red for a year became Kenny Devoe’s Magical Nose.

Monday, March 20, 2017

I'm A Lucky Boy

1958 in Apt #4R at 517 E. 83rd Street
Nice surprise for my birthday, Joe Dettmore, Nicole Ferraro, Jeff Rose, Kyle Erickson & Leslie Goshko showed up last night with pepperoni pizza and a chocolate cake from Two Little Red Hens. Thank you, pals! xoxo teepee ~ Today, The New York Times printed my Metro Diary piece on pg A20. I'm a lucky boy.

Storytelling returns to Ryans Daughter ~ Thomas Pryor's April Fools "Stoops to Nuts" soiree ~ we've locked in gifted artists: Tricia Alexandro(actor/writer praised by The New York Times); Joe Dettmore (The Daily Show, Creative Director) & J.P. Connolly (King of The Hill). A swell time with "City Boy" tales, ancient B&W photos, silly movies, great tunes sung by a soon to be named songsmith. Come on down to 350 East 85th St. on 4/1/17 @7pm
FREE SHOW.






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 AmazonBarnes 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! (124 five-star Amazon reviews out of 124 posted)

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Happy St. Joseph Day ~ My Beard Itches!

March 19th is the Feast of St. Joseph. An Upper East Side wide holiday in 1962. The St. Joseph parish on 87th Street began as an orphanage on York Avenue (then known as Avenue A) and 89th Street in the 1800s. The present church’s cornerstone was blessed in 1894. My mother and her sisters went to St. Joe’s school in the 1940s. My affection for the saint was built into me.

In second grade, I was chosen to play St. Joseph in a play in front of the St. Stephen of Hungary's student body. Everything about this excited me right up to the beard but the nun lied. She told us St. Joe was the patron saint for the U.S. Post Office and therefore in heaven he was in charge of the mail between heaven and earth.

I later found out St. Joseph had never been near a post office but had a lot of other patronage responsibilities including patron saint against doubt, for cabinetmakers, Canada, carpenters, China, confectioners, craftsmen, dying people, engineers, families, fathers, a happy death, a holy death, house hunters, Korea, laborers, Mexico, New France, Peru, pioneers, social justice, travelers, Universal Church, Vatican II, Viet Nam, working people.

Alas, I was St. Joseph in charge of Heaven's post office and as my costume got built by the Nun I got happier and happier. First, I got to wear Father Emeric's cool brown priest sandals. The sandals signaled poverty but to me they signaled taking my toes out for a walk in the cool March air. Then, I got to wear his brown robe with rope belt. The priest uniform, I had the whole priest uniform! And I could swing that Franciscan poverty rope around like a beat cop. I nailed a couple of kids in the head as I walked up to the stage. They'd get even later. Who cared?

Sister Lorraine, our teacher, had this thing for the post office and authentic historical scenes and since St. Joe had a beard I was getting a beard. I had no problem until they put the itchy wool choker on my face held on by a thick rubber band over my ears and around my neck that cut off the blood to my brain. I couldn't stand it, and though I knew my lines I had a problem getting them out of my mouth through the beard to the audience. I fixed that. Every time I spoke I lifted the contraption off my face and spoke my lines out of the side of my mouth. It was my last feature role.

Happy Saint Joseph's Day!
Original St. Joseph's on Avenue A & 89th Street, 1890.



**********

Storytelling returns to Ryans Daughter ~ Thomas Pryor's April Fools "Stoops to Nuts" soiree ~ we've locked in gifted artists: Tricia Alexandro (actor/writer praised by The New York Times); Joe Dettmore (The Daily Show, Creative Director) and J.P. Connolly (King of The Hill). A swell time with "City Boy" tales, ancient B&W photos, silly movies, great tunes sung by a soon to be named songsmith. Come on down to 350 East 85th St. on Saturday, April, 1st @7pm

FREE SHOW.

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! (124 five-star Amazon reviews out of 124 posted)

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Skating Away



A few winters ago, I needed cash downtown. Wickedly windy, I ran to the HSBC near Duane Park north of Chambers. After the bank, I jogged down Warren Street towards Whole Foods. In a crystal clear store window, I saw my reflection running, “I know you!” Then I saw myself in the process of falling. Some knucklehead wet down the sidewalk in front of his double-wide building creating 40 feet of icy death under me. The super genius wanted to clear the remaining dirty snow off. It was 15 degrees out.
First, I did a Dorothy Hamill on the frozen sheet. One leg lifted unintentionally towards the sky while the other turned 90 degrees off the ball of my foot. For this part of my program, I imagined the East German judge gave me a “5″ on his card.


Following the Hamill move, I did a James Brown shuffle, where my arms got involved trying to sustain enough balance not to go down, I resembled a kid imitating a steam engine, “Good & Plenty, Good, & Plenty.” Coming to the end of the ice, I tried to slow by pushing both feet down hard, but this spun me around 180 degrees. Now I couldn’t see where I was going, so I moon-walked the rest of the way, left the ice prepared to fall, covered my head and took all of the impact on my bottom. I’m going to a have shiner on my hinny tomorrow.

Storytelling returns to Ryans Daughter ~ Thomas Pryor's April Fools "Stoops to Nuts" soiree ~ we've locked in gifted artists: Tricia Alexandro(actor/writer praised by The New York Times); Joe Dettmore (The Daily Show, Creative Director) & J.P. Connolly (King of The Hill). A swell time with "City Boy" tales, ancient B&W photos, silly movies, great tunes sung by a soon to be named songsmith. Come on down to 350 East 85th St. on 4/1/17 @7pm
FREE SHOW.





This piece appeared in my column in Ask A New Yorker this week.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Thinking Of Dad

Listening to Dean Martin sing “Houston,” I'm thinking about my father. He died 15 years ago today. If he and I were alone in our 83rd Street living room listening to a record, paying attention I started asking questions he’d take me through the door where I’d learn where the artist was from and everyone they played with throughout their career. If they had a stage name Dad gave me their real one - Dean Martin? Dino Paul Crocetti from Steubenville, Ohio. He did the same with film stars, Archie Leach was Cary Grant, Bernard Schwartz was Tony Curtis and Leslie Townes Hope, a.k.a., Bob Hope, he also boxed under the name, Packy East. I’d get an earful about the Manhattan movie houses Dad went to as a kid that weren’t there by the time I showed up. 

At eight, I knew who Edith Head was. He and I studied the rolling credits for each film on Ch 5, 9, and 11 like we were doing homework. As they scrolled, if I told Dad a piece of trivia he put in my head sometime before he’d break into a grin. He did the same with sports, history and most important, neighborhood lore. He went around the world three times in the Navy and Merchant Marines but he came back to old Yorkville, the neighborhood he loved for 72 years. I can’t imagine growing up without a father. It must hurt all the time. I still feel Dad's love. I still ache when a question crosses my mind and he’s not there to answer it.