Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Alison & Tommy Love The Kinks ~ Yorkville Radio Tonight

Alison Pryor is my guest tonight on "Yorkville: Stoops to Nuts," radio show @ 9pm @ Centanni link below. It's a Kinks show.

Alison and I are not historians, we're not the musical snobs in Nick Hornby books (OK, sometimes), we simply love the Kinks. We don’t know everything about them, but we do want to tell you why their music is important to us and why its a continual source of joy. We all have damaged heroes, Ray Davies is one of ours. We don't know him personally, and never will, but it’s easy to separate the beauty of his music and his lyrics and let them stand sensationally on their own. I spent a thousand hours sitting on a stoop listening to this nut and I love him. Ray Davies music was an essential fabric in the weave of the neighborhood. He happily haunts many places for Alison & me.

Alison comes to the show with DJ experience. Pictured here, two of her gigs: First, Bay Ridge, 1990, she spun tunes on the turntable and leaned towards Motown, Southside Johnny, Kinks, New Wave and the Boss. In college, she hosted a Saturday night show and played records with her friend, Ollie. During their show, I danced alone in my room to all songs, and kept this to myself. Some of the best times of my life.

Come by tonight, listen to our show at Giovanna's restaurant. We're having a little party before Ali returns to France. All friends are welcome.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Kink Kronikles ~ Alison's Aim is True on Yorkville Radio

Alison Pryor is my guest this week on the radio show. We love the Kinks and we're going to explore why Ray Davies, Dave Davies, Pete Quaife & Mick Avory knock us out, and we'll figure out the Paris and Toulouse equivalent of sitting on a stoop.
Below, an early Kinks experience of mine in Queens. Photo of Eagle Theater @ Andrew Gardner, photographer, Street Level:
Like my fathers' mother, like my father, I love my stuff. I'm no Collyer brother, my place is neat, in it's own way. I still own my first two records, both by Dave Seville and the Chipmunks: "Witch Doctor," in 1958, and 1959, "Alvin's Harmonica." The football is from 1969 and the main reason it's still here: I religiously duct taped it like a car accident victim. When I had no duct tape I used electric tape, this pissed Dad off, since most wires in our apartment and my grandmother's apartment were frayed and Dad kept a roll in his pocket on the weekend.

After 40 years of flying over and bouncing along concrete and asphalt, my friend,"Herman," the football stands by my side.
I was talking with a friend about how much I love Ray Davies and the Kinks music. This reminded me of a frigid November Saturday afternoon in 1965 when I was eleven.
For some reason, I was staying over my Aunt Barbara's apartment in Elmhurst. I
liked to wander around the neighborhood by myself, so I was window shopping along Roosevelt Avenue under the El, breezed past 37th Road and Jackson Avenue. I had a buck, which meant today I would buy one 45 single, and it better be a good one. When I was eleven, no decision carried as much weight and thought as buying a record. There was a small music store near the Eagle movie house. I tired out the clerk looking over the new releases and finally decided on "Till the End of the Day," by the Kinks, because I heard "Where Have All the Good Times Gone?" the flip side once and liked it fine. It was a unexpected gift buying a single when the B side was a good song too.

I ran a half mile to Barbara's apartment on Macnish Street, not breathing, said hi, and went straight to the Victrola. Saw something disturbing.
"Barbara, why is the record player unplugged?"
"It's broke.'
OK now I was in hell. New music with no means of playing it. I dropped into a chair. Barbara saw the shape I was in and made a suggestion.
"Tommy, Joannie's not home, but why don't you go try Betty?"
Barbara, my Aunt Joan, and their friend Betty Mulhern, all lived in the building. Betty Mulhern was Emma Peel, Barbara Feldon and Serena, Samantha's evil cousin all rolled into one. If you didn't like brunettes, and saw Betty, you'd like brunettes. She danced every new dance, and her wild hair flew. She wore tight shorts on long legs, she wore clam diggers, she painted her pretty toes. Her eyes sparkled, her nose twitched. I couldn't make eye contact with her without my belly feeling funny.
I went down the hall and knocked on Betty's door. Music was playing.
"Hey Tommy, what's up?"
"Hmmm, I have a new record, Barbara's player is broken. Can I play it on yours?"
"Sure, come in."
I put it on. Betty was doing the dishes, and she started to sway her hips. All I could do was watch her move back and forth, back and forth.
I played both sides five times. Would have made it six, if Barbara didn't come in to retrieve me.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Elements of Story ~ Then & Now

Here are two pictures of the same corner of 84th Street & York Avenue looking east towards East End Avenue and the river. The top picture is from 1942, the lady in the picture is my grandmother, Anne Pryor. Across the street is Gene's Tavern. Gene's had a two lane bowling alley in the basement and in 1942 my Uncle Tom was the Pin Boy. That year, he turned the job over to his 13 year old brother, my father. Gene's later became Melnicoff's Clothing store where Mom bought white shirts about this time of year for Rory and me for the coming school year at St. Stephen's. The only time I liked going into Melnicoff's was when Mom decided it was time for a new pair of sneakers, which as far as I was concerned didn't happen often enough. Dad made her take it out of the house money, Mom wasn't tight, she was broke.

Hanging over the 84th Street streetbed is the Service Flag that was hung there to support the troops in August 1942 after a parade around Yorkville by hundreds of neighbors up and down the streets and the avenues.

I took the second picture last week. Still a bit strange it's a 7-Eleven.

I want to thank Frank Flaherty, my guest this past Tuesday night on the Yorkville radio show on Centanni Broadcasting. Frank, a Deputy Editor at The New York Times, and author of the splendid writing reference book "The Elements of Story," shared stories on how careful and thoughtful editing and deeper exploration into your subject can take storytelling to a richer level and improve all your writing. The Harper Collins soft cover version of the book comes out in two weeks and we'll be widely available in bookstores and online.

Next Tuesday my radio show guest is Alison Pryor.

Here are the Frank Flaherty show and Centanni links:

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Elements of Story ~ Prexy's vs Shake Shack

Tomorrow night, Tuesday @ Aug 24th @ 9pm on "Yorkville: Stoops to Nuts" radio show, my special guest is Francis Flaherty, Deputy Editor at The New York Times & author of "The Elements of Story," an indispensable guide for all writers, and a must-read for every nonfiction and journalism student. We'll talk neighborhoods, writing, editing, music, and why words rock.

listen live or on archive at the Centanni link below:


Prexy's "The Hamburger with a College Education," versus Shake Shack's burger.

When you are self-employed you can go places normally crowded and enjoy what others wait on long lines for at night and on the weekend. This morning, I went to Gringotts, near Brooklyn's Boro Hall, to check my treasure vault (a.k.a. the NYC pension office).

Mid afternoon, I ate my first Shake Shack burger. Don't know what was on it, but is was very good. So good, it reminded me of Prexy's, "The hamburger with a college education," (Prexy's slogan). It was right up the street on the same side of 86th Street near Lexington Avenue. They had a hamburger on their sign with glasses on and a graduation cap with tassel.

I dreamt of Prexy's more than sports and girls. I wanted a Prexy's hamburger every day when I was young. Once in a blue moon, my parents took Rory and me there, and I wanted to kill Dad when he ordered a second hamburger for himself, and wouldn't get me a second one. He wasn't cheap, he didn't like me chubby, either did I, but that's besides the point, I wanted the burger and let him know it by giving him the silent treatment.

So what burger do I think is better? I'm going to go with Prexy's and here is why: I bought digital music this week online, it gave me pleasure to get some new old music: Classics IV, Bill Withers, Mike Nichols & Elaine May comedy routines, etc. But I did it so easy, too easy. When I was 8 years old, I never had enough money to buy two or more 45s. That decision, to buy what record versus what other records was painstaking. It could take me an hour, it could get me thrown out of the store, and did.

Well, getting a Prexy's hamburger was like buying a 45 single in 1962, and Shake Shack is a delicious treat that doesn't take much effort, like buying digital music with loose coin in your pocket.

Here's to the Hamburger with a College Education!

p.s. that doesn't mean I'm not going back to Shake Shack.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

You Can Have the Apartment, Over Her Dead Body

Last night's storytelling show at Professor Adam Wade's Graduation Soiree was so good, I got up at 6am and rode my bike to Coney Island and did a five mile Boardwalk run. I was four miles into the run, right in front of the Wonder Wheel, when I remembered I had my hips replaced eight years ago, and Doctor Zuckerman told me not to run, and I thought, "he's going to kill me," but I didn't care, because last night's story telling was that good. The six killers last night: Celeste Arias, Chrissy Brown, Dan Diggles, Megan Gray, Erin Kilkenny, Miguel de Leon

I finished the run, now I'm going for a swim, and after the swim I'm going to tell my story to the birds, and if the birds like it, I'm going to repeat it tonight to an audience @ 8pm @ tonight @ Magnet Theater @ 259 West 30th Street, 2nd Floor, with four other terrific storytellers.
Kelly Wallace-Barnhill, Lindsay Gentile, Henry Johnson, & Rachel Pertile.

Come down to the Magnet Theater, hear our tales, throw rotten fruit at our heads if we fail to please. Hit Adam , too.

My story's called, "You Can Have The Apartment, Over Her Dead Body."

"Mercy, Mercy, Mercy," by the Buckinghams, the song playing on the Coney Island Boardwalk during my first visit there in July 1967.


Friday, August 20, 2010

Free Storytelling Shows Tonight & Tomorrow

Free Storytelling shows tonight, Friday & tomorrow, Saturday ~

Professor Adam Wade proudly presents storytelling excellence at Magnet Studio Theater @ 259 West 30th Street, @ 2nd Fl.

Eleven graduating students tell eight minute stories.

Tonight, Friday, August 20
th @ 8:30pm ~ six stories

Tomorrow, Saturday, August 21st @ 8pm ~ five stories

Adam's hosting both ***Free shows*** Here's what you'll hear.

Kidnapping parents sabotage show. Blair Witch goes to Jesus Camp. But I don’t want to date her, do I have to? Prodigy’s fibs sail over the backboard. Body parts stuck together for the main feature, Jackie Brown. Band uniforms disappear, someone’s gonna pay. Blanche
Dubois’s windpipe problem. Private school teachers in trouble ~ film at eleven. Got the number, lost the girl. Why it’s a good idea to keep your iPod library to yourself. It’s your apartment, over her dead body.

Come to both shows, throw fruit if we stink!

Show 1 - Friday @ August 20
th @ 8:30pm

Celeste Arias, Chrissy Brown, Dan
Diggles, Megan Gray, Erin Kilkenny, Miguel de Leon

Show 2 - Saturday @ August 21st @ 8pm

Kelly Wallace-
Barnhill, Lindsay Gentile, Henry Johnson, Rachel Pertile, Tommy Pryor

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Great Radio Last Night ~ Storytelling Shows This Friday & Saturday

Centanni Radio ~ in New York City, had a wonderful Tuesday night at Giovanna's Restaurant, courtesy of Davino, master chef.

Diana Navarro, Johnny Mandolin, Valerie & Betty, and Yorkville Stoops to Nuts all had outstanding shows.

Thank you, Eric Vetter, for being a charming and knowledgeable guest, please come back soon. Many songs to play and slices of life to discuss. Thank you, for re-introducing me to Bill Withers. I wish you continued success with "No Name... & A Bag O' Chips" the super comedy & variety show at Otto's Shrunken Head.

I'm having fun, the radio show is getting better all the time. I think Paul puts my feelings best.

Here is the Centanni archive link for last night's "Yorkville: Stoops to Nuts" show with a Bobby Thomson tribute, "The Giants Won the Pennant!,"

Please listen at your leisure. be well, Tommy

~ Storytelling shows this Friday & Saturday ~

Professor Adam Wade proudly presents storytelling excellence at Magnet Studio Theater @ 259 West 30th Street, @ 2nd Fl.

Eleven graduating students tell eight minute stories.

Friday, August 20
th @ 8:30pm ~ six stories

Saturday, August 21st @ 8pm ~ five stories

Adam's hosting both ***Free shows*** Here's what you'll hear.

Kidnapping parents sabotage show. Blair Witch goes to Jesus Camp. But I don’t want to date her, do I have to? Prodigy’s fibs sail over the backboard. Body parts stuck together for the main feature, Jackie Brown. Band uniforms disappear, someone’s gonna pay. Blanche
Dubois’s windpipe problem. Private school teachers in trouble ~ film at eleven. Got the number, lost the girl. Why it’s a good idea to keep your iPod library to yourself. It’s your apartment, over her dead body.

Come to both shows, throw fruit if we stink!

Show 1 - Friday @ August 20
th @ 8:30pm

Celeste Arias, Chrissy Brown, Dan
Diggles, Megan Gray, Erin Kilkenny, Miguel de Leon

Show 2 - Saturday @ August 21st @ 8pm

Kelly Wallace-
Barnhill, Lindsay Gentile, Henry Johnson, Rachel Pertile, Tommy Pryor

Monday, August 16, 2010

Viola'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 60 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 Lamston's candy aisle with Mom. She manhandled a giant bag of M&M's 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.

They are celebrating their 60th anniversary on First Avenue near 77th Street.
If you have unmentionable needs and hope to ever get that girlish figure back, you best get yourself to Viola's, toots suite! Their lingerie and hosiery sleep in fine boxes folded 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! 60 proud years protecting, hiding and enhancing Yorkville figures.

Tomorrow, Eric Vetter & I are playing tunes and talking: Bill Withers, Al Green & The Classics IV ~ on the "Yorkville Stoops to Nuts" radio show.

My Yorkville radio guests for the next four weeks:

Eric Vetter (Washington Heights ~ Vocalist & Comedy Man)
Frank Flaherty (NY Times Senior Editor & author, "The Elements of Story")
Alison Pryor (coming in from France just to be on the show)
Adam Wade (formerly from New Hampshire, now proudly from Hoboken, Champion storyteller, all weight divisions).

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Hating Dallas, Missing Dad

The Dallas Cowboys losing -- my number #1 Schadenfreude trigger. I love September and football creeping up.

Here's a picture of Dad & me, right after Joe "The Nose" Danelo, kicked the New York Giants into the 1981 NFL playoffs on December 19th, with the Jets help next day beating the Packers. Thanks, Jets.

Best two live "Old Yankee Stadium, we were there," sports days ever with Dad.

1) Giants beat Skins 35-33 ~ Nov 1970 ~ came back from 19 points down with a quarter to go. Stadium rocked and rolled. Dad and I hugged like we were going out. Tucker Fredrickson's best game as a pro, Ron Johnson scored winning sweep right in front of Dad & me seating behind Yankee dugout.

2) Mickey's 500. May 1967. We cried while we hugged after that one. I miss Dad hugging me. I made him take me to the Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Friday night, Hal Reniff gave up 9 earned runs, Yankees got pounded, but we stayed to watch Mick hit.

When Dallas loses, I feel Dad's smile.
Instead of doing what I should be doing, I'm listening to Ray Davies, "Property." What a song.


Friday, August 13, 2010

Final Interview With My Left Hip

In June 2003, I interviewed my left hip for the final time, right before it was scheduled for replacement with a high density ceramic impostor at the Hospital for Joint Diseases.

Regretfully, I didn't get a chance to say goodbye to my right hip (removed in 2002), so I made sure I said farewell to my left one. We sat on a bench facing the Great Lawn in Central Park. I tried to maintain full eye contact with my hip during the interview, which must have looked strange to people passing by ~ me talking down towards my ass.


“How do you feel?”

“Not too swift, I’ve had a nice run and know it, but it is time to turn it over to the robot to take this body to the end of the race.”

“When did you know something was wrong?”

“About two years ago, I was coming out of the subway to make a bus connection about a block away. As I reached the top of the subway stairs, I saw the bus crossing the avenue pulling into the bus stop. I began to do what I’ve done all my life, sent a signal to my legs to start running ~ well, the signal was sent but the unexpected response returned, “can’t do it,” I asked, “won’t do it?” “No, can’t do it.”

“There I was, staring at the bus, looking at my legs staring at the bus. Yet the bus was not moving ~ no one was getting on or off. But, it continued to not move. Was it taunting me? I began to pick up my pace, fast walk at best, and still the bus stayed there. I pushed a little more best I could, and still the bus stayed in place ~ now I got it. What was going on was the same as been going on the savanna in for thousands of years. The bus was the zebra who knew I could no longer pounce. Bye, bye, old lion, I’m going to sit here on my big stripped butt and rub it in real good. It’s over. I see you, and the only thing I'm going to do is stick my fat tongue out at you. So that’s that. The bus hung in a little longer to ensure the message was received.”

“What are going to miss?”

“Well I imagine several of things I am going to miss are many of the reasons I have to come out. When I was very young, young Tommy would use me for a landing pad in the middle of the street on concrete and asphalt. During the summer, the hydrants opened when it is hot and we played in the street under the flow. One of the highlights was catching the blast across the street face so that when you threw your body out to slide on it, like going into third base you would hopefully hit a plane of water between your hip and the asphalt surface. Unfortunately, Tommy was not graceful and usually landed outside the water buffer meaning crushing contact with the asphalt usually tearing the dungarees or shorts along that side of his leg. Another event leading to my premature departure was Johnnie on the Pony.

Johnnie on the Pony was a game of immense endurance and stupidity. One side was the Pony the other the Johnnie. Game’s strategy involved one team forming a long bent row like a Chinese New Year’s dragon while the other team lined up to jump onto the sitting target as hard as possible with the only intention to collapse the Pony. The pony formed with one guy against a fence facing everyone else. He was the chain’s anchor. Next fellow would bend over gripping the anchor’s sides butt in the air. All others would follow suit till the line resembled Hannibal’s’ legions stumbling over the Alps. Once the line formed the Johnnies, the other team would begin to strategize….game usually was at least ten to a side so 10 Johnnies got ready to put their weight and flaring elbows on top of the prone ponies. Game ended when the Pony collapsed or all Johnnies rode without falling off for ten one hundredths. As a hip, this game had the same allure as open battlefield surgery without anesthesia. Matthew Brady was often seen setting up his equipment taking photographic stills of our events. The Johnnies always led with the same strategy, you sent your largest first and aimed for the weakest links. Best area to land was no man’s land between the thoracic and lumbar regions. Hopefully catching no soft tissue and driving you straight into the bony matter.

Much attention was spent on developing jumping technique. Since the teams had ten or more the weakest link might be bent over way up front. Therefore you wanted to attain maximum height and distance. Height was an art. You would study many cartoons trying to learn the secret of freezing in the air for a few seconds or longer at the top of your arch. This is critical to allow gravity to pull your body swiftly back to the earth maximizing impact into your opponent’s neck and back. Once landed you would make grapes with your hienie. Making big rocks into little rocks, grinding away at the millstone pushing into the fellow beneath you as if the chance of a single remaining air bubble between you would bring life as we know it to an end. As the pile grew, the moans and groans filled the air like a children’s orchestra at their first ever practice. From the top of the mountain it played in your head like a beautiful siren song. Someone was going towards the rocks. With a particular strong pony the Johnnies went to the Tower of Babel strategy. With less that three jumpers in the shoot all the Johnnies would begin to gather at one location in the chain usually over he who could use the most relief. Once the spot was chosen the Johnnies would begin their assembly assuming classic Greco-Roman moves the tower would begin to rise at the perceived weak point. Unintelligible orders and exclamations flying out of the ball of human braying and swaying like a deranged fire hose while underneath the ponies began acting like a band of rogue elephants readying a stampede on the defenseless village. As a non participant it became a recurring game to try and grab a sound of the pile and convince others it was English…”I understood that one, that was Billy and he said, “Christ got off my foot and stop grabbing my balls.” The tug of war would roll until the levee broke or the group rode the dragon for the required time…it was hard to watch and not play but if you did you were rewarded with a show that combined all the best elements of a tragic ballet with a really fine car accident. A collapse was beautiful…when it happened, so much detail and attention… you have to imagine that Sam Peckinpah would not have developed his keen eye for transfixing violence into a sumptuous slow motion ballet unless he watched a number of Johnnie on the Pony games end with a collapse.

Another thing I m sure contributed to my demise was the swimming pool games. In water you were invincible. As a kid everything worked better in water, you moved faster, you were stronger. Taking three to four people on top of you was all part of the day. "Hey, I bet one more person on top of me would be just fine, no problem at all, exactly what I need to finish this morning’s swim off." And on would jump the fourth person on your shoulders, neck, and head grabbing you hard trying to get you to crumble into the pool. Four people, who that morning had 13 mission sodas, 11 drake cake products, 3 quarts of juice, 2 boxes of cereal a loaf and a half of bread, 3 sticks of butter, 9 sandwiches and three dollars of penny candy between them.

In my ears their stomachs swished and loudly announced their failure to digest their contents and that if I kept moving around would join us in the pool. Something I didn't want for several reasons but primarily because I didn't to get banned from the pool. The entire summer was built off the expectation and assumption you would get to go in water x amount of times. This expectation must be met or the summer was failure. That's all I can think of right now, but let's just say Tommy, you never gave any of your bones much thought.”

“Well, thank you, left hip, it’s been a great 49 years together.”

“No, thank you, Tommy, it was a good run, I’d not do anything differently, we had lots of fun together, now, its time for the scrap heap.”

“It’s been a pleasure, thank you, old friend, sleep tight.”

The 50,000 mile tune up took place on August 6, 2003. Both artificial hips are peachy keen.

My left hip's favorite song "You Keep Me Hanging On," from 1967 by the Vanilla Fudge:

My left hip's second favorite song "Here Comes My Baby," also from 1967 by Cat Stevens:

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Gotta Get Up ~ The Losers Lounge Show Is On the Centanni Archive

The Losers Lounge history radio show is up on the Centanni archive link for your listening pleasure.

If link above does not open go to Centanni link below and find Yorkville archive on homepage.

Thank you, Nick Danger, Joe McGinty & David Terhune for sharing the story of the glorious eighteen year old musical pile-up that makes countless fans happy and hum like idiots at their desks, days after the show.

The Losers Lounge series is one of New York City's best, not so secret-secrets for making life less tough. I predict: I'll sneak a grand kid into a Losers show before I kick the bucket. The little girl will turn to me and ask , "Hey Pop, I like this Harry Nilsson do you have any of his records?" I'll smile knowing three Lps sit comfortably in my
living room waiting for a new person to take them out and put them on the turntable and be amazed, like we all should be as often as possible.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Losers Lounge History on Yorkville Radio Show Tonight @ 9pm

Ever leave a live music event with a grin frozen on your face? And over the next few days you laugh & smile out of context? I do, every time I see a Losers Lounge show.

Amanda Thorpe, Lianne Smith, Mary Lee Kortes, David Driver, Edward Rogers, Ward White, Claudia Chopek, Debby Schwartz, Eddie Skuller, Joe Hurley, Michael Cerveris, Stew, a few of the many Losers, that opened a creative door for me. They really did. Each one an inspiration along with the three Loser founding fathers below.

Today, listen to the "Yorkville: Stoops to Nuts," radio show and hear Joe McGinty, David Terhune & Nick Danger explore the historic Losers Lounge series now holding class, 4 x @ year @ Joe's Pub. We're playing Losers tunes, too. Joe McGinty is the Dean of the College of Musical Knowledge, my apologies to Peter Wolf.

Radio Show is live today @ 3pm Giovanna's restaurant @ 1567 Lexington Avenue, (bet. 100/101Sts) come by, see the show live!
Or, hear it tonight live streaming on your computer @ Centanni @ 9pm. Here is the link.


It's up on archive tomorrow afternoon, look for
Yorkville Stoops to Nuts link on Centanni's home page.

It will be a great show. be well, Tommy