Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Angry Geese and Giant Bunnies

I've never seen a pond in as beautiful a setting as the one in Domont. Like an idyllique Dogpatch with angry territorial geese the size of raptor dinosaurs, giant bunnies, goats, chickens, ducks, and a donkey who acted like he was the mayor of the village. He bit my pocket hoping for a grain based treat.

Rode a bike for half a day around Paris, I'd share more pictures but I'm struggling on a French keyboard on a laptop with no photo program to edit or compress the size of the shots.

Stayed first two days with Alison's boyfriend, Guillaume's family in Domont outside Paris. The Desjardins are charming and generous hosts and huge New York Yankee fans as you see from Juliet (sunglasses) and Anne Sabine's caps.

The bike ride yesterday? I love the Hudson River path ride but... Wow!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Drive South

Picture on the left: George and Emery on 83rd Street with their banana seat bikes in 1969.

Above George's head, to the left, is a piece of my wall art. My drawings earned me a hard smack to the head from my grandmother. She easily identified my doodles on the wall at the 1st Avenue corner. "Do not embarrass me." One shot was enough to silence my graffiti.

A new section on the Hudson River bike path opened this week from about 96th to 110th Street. You can stay on the river path from the Battery to the George Washington Bridge without detours. Cool!


Off to France for two weeks in one hour. Hope to write here while I'm away.

Bye, bye, Tommy

Drive South/John Hiatt

I didn't say we wouldn't hurt anymore
That's how you learn,
you just get burned
But we don't have to feel like dirt anymore
Though love's not earned,
Baby it's our turn
We were always looking for true north
With our heads in the clouds,
just a little off courseI left the motor running,
now if you're feeling down and out
CHORUS:Come on Baby drive south, with the one you love
Come on Baby drive south, with the one you love
I'm not talkin' 'bout retreatin' little girl
Gonna take our stand, in this Chevy van
Windows open on the rest of the world
Holdin' hands, all the way to Dixieland
We've been tryin' to turn our lives around
Since we were little kids, it's been wearin' us down
Don't turn away now Darlin' lets fire it up and wind it out
CHORUS BRIDGE:I heard your mama callin', I think she was just stallin'
Don't know who she was talkin' to, baby me and you
We could go down with a smile on,
don't bother to pack your nylons
Just keep them pretty legs showin', it gets hot down where we're goin'
We were always looking for true north
With our heads in the clouds, just a little off course
I left the motor running, now if you're feeling down and out
Come on baby drive,
come on baby drive south,
come on baby drive south

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Yorkville on the Radio

The urinals in the bathroom of the 86th Street RKO were so big, we hid inside them when we played hide & seek after we watched the film too many times. On a regular basis, I went to the Loew's or RKO in Yorkville for the first show around 11 am and didn't come out of the theatre until it was dark.

In the RKO, Steve Murphy and I made a human ball wrapping ourselves around each other, and threw ourselves down the three-story high horseshoe staircase, we rolled like a barrel. The carpet on the stairs was so thick it hardly hurt. No evidence, till the next day when black and blues sprung up all over our bodies. This was not a big hit with RKO personnel.

Last night, I was Valerie Pepe's guest on her terrific radio show on the Centanni Broadcasting Network. Thank you, Valerie, Betty & Johnny Anello. We told Yorkville & Staten Island neighborhood stories, you can listen by going to the link below ~ go the "The Valerie & Betty Show 5/19/10" ~ click and the show should open in your media player. After you listen, take your kid to a movie and leave them there for the day.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Happy Birthday, Dad

Today would be Dad's 81st birthday. He sung Yorkville's praises. Thought the neighborhood was all you could ask for in a place to live. His stories are the source of many of mine. He drew the neighborhood, painted, sculpted, and sketched. He never bored me, tortured me, but never bored me. I have thin skin and he constantly broke it. But that's the father son relationship ~ a roller coaster ride that starts and ends with gigantic love.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Whole of the Moon

I need a new Waterboys experience. Summer 1990, a friend gave me a tape filled with their songs. My first listen through "The Whole of the Moon," I nearly ran through a tree in Central Park. After the run, I stretched my hamstrings on the stones at the 85th Street Reservoir station. "A Man Is In Love" played in my ears, the sun sunk and tension left my body like counting off before going under general anesthesia.

How could I forgot them? I need a new Waterboys experience. It's out there, I'll find it.



Monday, May 17, 2010

"Don't Tell Me What to Do, or I'll Have My Mustache Eat Your Beard."'

YouTube is a time tunnel to youthful idiocy. Films like "What's Up Tiger Lily?" destroyed my scholastic potential.

It came out when I was 12. At 12, I'd laugh at a milk box. Then, Woody Allen dubs a horrible Japanese spy film with his own story line and dialogue and I'm spending good money to see the film three times down on 57th Street bringing different friends each time building a fan club.

Japanese detective, Phil Moscowitz, battles gangster, Shepherd Wong, yelling "Saracen Pig! Spartan Dog!" with each punch. Wing Fat desperate to locate the secret Egg Salad recipe warns Shepherd Wong, "Don't Tell Me What to Do, or I'll Have My Mustache Eat Your Beard." And he'd do it!

My favorite threat in the film: "Back off! My secret spy camera has taken pictures of you all through your clothes. Unless you release me, your naked photos will be sold in every school yard in Tokyo within the hour. Unless you are totally comfortable with your body, you must release me."

Here are a few scenes from the film. I must say, I'd be a big fan of this picture strictly because it champions Mayonnaise (Hellman's blue label, please) over Miracle Whip.


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Yorkville Reunion ~ American Woman

American Woman is a current exhibit at the Met Museum. 40 years ago, American Woman was the #1 song on the radio.
Yesterday there was a Yorkville reunion. Despite many wayward husbands, most Yorkville moms led their children to the the right path. Many of those kids were at the reunion today.

A good time was had by all.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Boys Will be Boys

Yorkville lost one its all-time great Moms this week. Denise Menesick from York Avenue and 84th Street passed away peacefully in Florida. Denise grew up in Yorkville, loved its parks, married Joe Sr., and had three boys: Joseph, Dennis and John, and she loved them fiercely.
We played rough. Denise was always there with a comforting smile when we beat the crap out of each other. Tolerant Mrs. Menesick was the only shred of civilization in the middle of our unusual way of expressing affection for each other that included bruises, cuts, breaks and/or stitches. One of Denise's favorite sayings was "Boys will be boys." She was our Florence Nightingale, a sturdy supplier of ace bandages, Mercurochrome, liniment and band aids. Mrs. Menesick was a sweet, charming lady, always polite, never judging, always glad to see you. Denise will be remembered and missed.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Sister Beatrice ~ Let's Go Fly A Kite!

"Thomas, you have a big voice, you need a place for it," Sister Beatrice said as she separated me from a headlock with Kevin Murphy.


"I think you should join the choir, they need you."

Based on Dad's position on things and the other boys, I thought the choir was for sissies, but if Sister Beatrice said it was OK, then it was all right by me. Fall 1961, in second grade, I joined a band of pretty pussycats and two other boys in the choir.

Yesterday, I learned Sister Beatrice Kerezsi, my first grade teacher at St. Stephen's on 82nd Street, passed away last month at St. Leos' Convent in Elmwood Park, N.J. I was shocked to learn she 82, it was the first time I saw her last name. How could she be 26 years older than me?
She played punch ball with us, running from chalk base to chalk base in the street holding her thick black skirt up revealing big clunky black shoes perfect for kicking field goals. I figured she was two years older then my babysitter, tops! She could belt a tune better than the Singing Nun, she was prettier than Ingrid Bergman in The Bells of Saint Mary, and she was smarter than any Mother Superior. I still want to make her proud of me. She knew she was doing this to you, it was her talent. And she smelled great! Everybody wanted to please Sister Beatrice. She did not take cell phone calls when she was talking to you, and she didn't check her Blackberry during class.

Sister Beatrice was smart, tough, right there, always in your face. I knew she was glad to see me. She was my friend and I loved her. First grade was 50 years ago, she's still on mind every day. Sister Beatrice was Mary Poppins.

photo above, 1961, courtesy of Stephanie Varga Grove, my classmate. Sister Beatrice is the first nun on the left.

a link to my story about Sister Beatrice, "Developing A Habit," is on the upper left side of this page

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Uncle Mommy

Fridays after work, Dad stayed downtown. Rory was in bed by eight-thirty, then heaven: The Twilight Zone and Hitchcock. TV bliss.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Found Money

Found money and my bicycle ~ tools for a good day. Thirsty, it was easy to raise funds. Walking my bike up 83rd Street towards York Avenue, I'd scavenge garbage cans for empty soda bottles. If I failed to raise the required monies, I'd go to the front of the tavern where the older guys pitched pennies. If there weren't any on the sidewalk near the wall, there was always a few just off the curb where they rolled back. After buying a Pepsi-Cola or a Mission Cream, I'd head for Carl Schurz Park but never much further. I'd get killed for riding in the street (spies were all over the neighborhood) and how else to get to Central Park or the Hudson River? Then if I got there, there were always the older kids to deal with. You could do this in a pack but not alone, it was dumb to push your luck. I had three prized possessions, bike, baseball glove and 45 singles, in that order.

Yesterday, I had a chore downtown that took me through City Hall Park. On a bench, some Richie Rich left 10 pennies just sitting there. Only a few pennies short of a soda, when I was 8. I took a picture of the pennies and left them there for another thirsty kid.

What a gift for kids: the new bike paths around Manhattan Island like Hudson River Park.