Monday, November 29, 2010

Something In the Air ~ Tuesday Night On Yorkville Radio

Something magical's in the air.

Long ago, once the holiday season commenced, things appeared on TV & radio that sent our spirits soaring. Rarely seen movies, cartoons, specials, & Top 45's for the year flooded the air between
Thanksgiving and New Year's. Across the pond, they got an early start on Guy Fawkes Day (November 5th).

Tuesday night on "Yorkville Stoops to Nuts," radio @ Centanni Broadcasting Network, Edward Rogers, Don Piper, Joe Hurley & I present: your favorite memories of TV & radio in the 50s, 60s & 70s during the holiday season.

This ain't no party, this ain't no disco, this ain't no Yule Log,

Something In the Air.

Mighty Joe Young ~ Beautiful Dreamer

Wile E Coyote, Super Genius

Marvin the Martian

Listen to the show at the Centanni Broadcasting Network link below, @ Tuesday @ 9pm

Or listen to the archive at your convenience at the link below the day after the show :

Saturday, November 27, 2010

25 Miles to Go ~ Under The El

Late December 1969, Sunnyside, Queens, I got off the #7 at the Bliss Street Station at 46th Street at 2:45pm on the afternoon going into the high school Christmas break. I was 15, alone, had zero to do and wished I was in Yorkville. I have no intention of going home to Sunnyside Gardens with the parents until much later and needed a plan.
I decided two destinations. I hit White Castle, bought 12 belly bombers and a chocolate shake, put them in my plastic LaSalle school bag and snuck them past the ticket taker at the Center Movie House at 43rd Street & Queens Boulevard for the 3:30pm "Wild Bunch" showing.

The slow motion Peckinpah violence scenes reminded me of my own clumsy accidents where the whole thing played out slowly, one frame at a time, so I got to think about the consequences coming. Morbidly, I watched the film twice and got out of the movie house at eight o'clock. My stomach didn't feel so good.

But... there was five to seven inches of snow on the ground and barely any traffic on Queens Boulevard. I was on another planet and it felt magical. I had school shoes on and figured if I went across the street and walked down the center under the El I could avoid a couple of blocks of winter wonderland deep snow on my way home. I had my transistor radio on me and put it on, the first song I heard was Edwin Starr "25 Miles to Go," when I started singing along I noticed a terrific echo under the concave concrete El. Not only was there a dynamic echo, but when I sung along I didn't sound that bad, sort of like I sounded singing Chicago Transit Authority's "Beginnings," in the shower.

The "25 Miles" echo was so good, I walked down to Rawson Street at 33rd Street
and started walking back to 46th Street, echoing my ass off under the El, swinging my school bag to the music. Without the car traffic on Queens Boulevard it sounded otherworldly.

I wish It snowed more, and I was in Sunnyside under the El with my radio on and 25 miles to go.

EDWIN STARR "25 Miles"

Hey hey uh huh huh huh huh oh Uh huh huh huh huh huh yeah It's twenty five miles from home Girl, my feet are hurting mighty bad Now I've been walking a three day, two lonely nights You know that I'm mighty mad But I got a woman waiting for me That's gonna make this trip worthwhile You see she's got the kind of lovin' and a kissing A make a man go stone wild So I got to keep on walkin' I got to walk on, oh ho ho I, I, I, I'm so tired But I just can't lose my stride

I got fifteen miles to go now And I can hear my baby calling my name It's as if as though I'm standing at her front door I can hear that doggone plain Now I'll be so glad to see my baby And hold her in my arms Now when I kiss her lips I turn a back over flip and I'll forget these feet of mine I got to keep on walkin' I got to walk on oh ho ho I, I, I, I, I'm so tired but I just can't lose my stride Walk on let me tell you ya'll I, I, I, I, I, I'm so tired But I just can't lose my stride Come on feet don't fail me now I got ten more miles to go I got nine, eight, seven, six, eight, six I got a five more miles to go Now over the hill just around the bend Huh although my feet are tired I can't lose my stride

Friday, November 26, 2010

83rd Street Chocolate Milk Tasting Contest

The day after Thanksgiving 1961, Mom picked Rory & me up at my grandparents (we had stayed over) and took us shopping at Sloan's Supermarket on York & 86th Street, looking for sales on leftovers from the holiday.  Inside the store, Rory and I began torture.   I loved Cocoa Marsh. Rory loved Bosco.  We fought in the aisle over which chocolate syrup to throw in the cart to take home.  Mom said, "Throw them both in, or you die now."  Then, Mom grabbed one of her comfort foods, Hersey's Chocolate Syrup.
That afternoon, we egged Mom into a chocolate milk tasting contest adding Hershey as the third choice despite its weak appearance in a tin can rather than the other two brands’ fancy glass containers. Cocoa Marsh had a lion on top of its push squirt spout. Bosco had a clown. I was scared of clowns. Even little ones on top of food products. I think a Twilight Zone episode spooked me.
The three of us took turns wearing blindfolds and made three glasses of chocolate milk using the three types of syrup. Rory cheated and peeked. He loved Bosco. I cheated. I loved Cocoa Marsh. Mom didn't cheat. She loved chocolate milk. Mom drained her three glasses in three gulps leaving nothing but her smile and a chocolate mustache.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving 1961

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Think of those without and do something about it when you can.

Did you hear about the suicidal turkey on York Avenue? Mr. Beller's did, and here's the scoop.
Thanksgivings can be quite eventful for families, to say the least. For Thomas Pryor's family, Thanksgiving 1961 was one for the ages, complete with a dropped turkey.

This was on TV every Thanksgiving when I was a kid. Each time, Mom saw the cartoon, she said, "We're were as poor as those kids." Each time, Dad heard Mom say that, he said,"Liar." Despite the commentary, I still enjoyed it and Rory and I sang along into the ears of our sleeping grandfather.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Don't Sleep in the Subway

"Want a bite?"
I looked at his purple gums plastered with coconuts flakes, felt my stomach roll, and declined Gully's offer. We stood in between the subway cars as the train pulled out of the Bliss Street station of the #7 line in Sunnyside where it never rained (a lie). We always stood in between cars on our way into Grand Central to catch the # 6 local downtown to LaSalle Academy. When the train curved, I had one leg on the platform of one car and my other leg on the second car. I'd be pulled apart then brought back together.

Gully's morning breakfast: Hostess Sno Balls and Nehi Grape Soda. Inside the cake was chocolate wood shavings. With his rotten teeth, purple gums plastered with feathers he looked like Sasquatch. I was sure he ate the combo to make sure no one would ask him to share. I was also sure that my odds of making new friends in Sunnyside were dim. My heart remained in Yorkville. But that first year of high school, September 1968 to June 1969, I rode the rails with these guys.

The subway is a large part of our life in New York City, Tonight @ 9pm on the Yorkville radio show at this Centanni link:

My guest is Heidi Kole, the author of "The Subway Diaries."

Read a terrific review below, go to her link above, Heidi & I are going to have a great show. And I will read a Thanksgiving story, "Over the River, and Through the Potatoes," being published tomorrow.

"Heidi leads you on a guided tour through a subterranean world peopled by creative artists and sidewalk visionaries. Down winding tunnels and across gritty subway platforms, through her writing, both gritty and raw, she introduces you to an unforgettable
cast of characters, not the least of whom is Heidi herself..”

~ Pete Kennedy; guitarist, songwriter, and producer of The Kennedys


Don't Sleep in the Subway!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Yorkville ~ November 22, 1963

On Friday, November 22, 1963, St. Stephen of Hungary's student body assembled in the auditorium for our once in a blue moon movie, "The Yearling." A kid adopts a baby deer and his father played by Gregory Peck gives him the business. I was happy and not happy. Happy, because the film started off pretty good. I was not happy because Dad had just shot a rabbit (his first, and last) and seeing the doe made me think this might not turn out so good for the deer. The running commentary I normally did at school movie events to entertain my friends was tempered by my concern for Bambi.

Half way into the film, an upset voice came out of the loudspeaker nailed to the wall near the opening where the projectionist (probably Mr. Varga, the school custodian) was running the film to the screen on the stage.

"Our President has been shot. Go to your classrooms, pick up your coats and school bags, you are immediately dismissed."

6 to 13 year olds with their 8 teachers went up the stairs to get their stuff, and that was that. No call to the parents, no holding the younger kids until someone picked them up. 300 kids staggered out of the doors into the street like they just left an after hours club at six in the morning.

I was 9, in 4th grade. My brother, Rory was 7, in 2nd grade. Reluctantly, I located him and dragged him down the block by his cardboard school bag attached to one of his hands trying to go in the other direction. We headed home in a small pack with some of our classmates. Everyone was quiet but occasionally a voice would pipe up.

"Who did it?"
""I don't know, who do you think did it?"
"I don't know."
A wise guy 6th grader, Johnny Curtain, stuck his head into our group with his finger up to his lip and said mysteriously, "The Russians did it."

Home on 83rd Street, Mom was crying on the couch watching Walter Cronkite and an American Flag that kept popping up on the screen. I went over to kiss Mom and smelled her favorite drink "a highball." This was not a normal day.

Rory and I sat around doing nothing until Dad came in. Though his mood fit, he was no where near as upset as Mom and seemed a little annoyed at Mom when she started crying again. I thought he was going to say something to her but he didn't, only using body language that delivered a million words.

I don't remember the next day, Saturday, but I do remember Sunday, November 24, 1963.

Billy Majorrosey and I were playing catch with a football around noon in the street. Suddenly, windows flew open like it was summer and Mantle had just hit a grand slam. Voices screamed.

"They killed the son of a bitch!"
"They shot Oswald!"
My first and only reaction, "Good. Glad he's dead."

Upsetting my mother very much, Dad took me to the Old Madison Garden that night to see the New York Rangers skate to a 3-3 tie with the Toronto Maple Leafs. After the game, hailing a cab north on Eighth Avenue, we bought a one star late edition Daily Mirror, with a photo of Oswald getting shot on the front and back page, with a four inch headline. Again, I had one reaction, "Good."

That night, on my way to sleep I heard my parents bickering about us going to the game but then it stopped. Mom was exhausted from crying and she didn't have her usual vinegar to go at Dad.

Half way through the night, I woke up when I heard a giant crash outside in the hallway and the sound of loud footsteps coming up the stairs from the third to our fourth floor. When the noise reached our door, there was a moment of silence, then it sounded like the air was being sucked out of the hall and dragging the air in our apartment with it. I fought to breath, the door swung open and in came a giant, a giant in a white T-shirt and grey pants, and when he lifted his head near the night light plugged into the wall I saw it was Lee Harvey Oswald. He lurched towards me in the top bunk and said, "You wished me dead!" He tried to grab me, and I hit my head against the bedroom wall as I woke from the nightmare. Scared out of my mind, I didn't bother rubbing my throbbing head. Going forward, I revised what I wish for.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Midnight Mover

Tommy Pryor’s storytelling events grow near!

Excellent Student (early on...)

December 10th @ 7pm @ Otto's Shrunken Head @ Bag O' Chips & No Name Storytelling Extravaganza

(14th Street near Avenue A)

December 14th @ 6pm @ Cornelia Street Café @ December Storytelling Festival

(bet. Bleecker St. & West 4th St, off most westside subway lines, West 4th St. stop)

Tommy’s work has appeared on loose-leaf & construction paper (all colors) in P.S.77 kindergarten; St. Stephen of Hungary's classrooms, Yorkville streets & building walls (his wall art on 401 East 83rd Street earned a smack from his grandmother); LaSalle Academy’s cafeteria; Hunter College blackboards, desk blotters at the NYC Comptroller’s Office & Daitch Shopwell store #16, all over the place.

Tommy performed in front of the St. Stephen’s student body and memorized and sung Mindem Vagyam Visszaszallin front of four hundred hooting Hungarians, Father Emeric’s favorite Hungarian Folk Song at his Silver Jubilee as a priest. Tommy’s made other appearances at Joe’s Candy Store, Spotless Cleaners, Parker’s Grocery, Reliable Meats, Loftus Tavern and other Yorkville gin mills.

A Midnight Mover, All Night Groover.

Happy Birthday, Ali, My Aim is True, love, Dad

Saturday, November 20, 2010

By The Light of The Silvery Moon

Yesterday, I was biking on the 102nd Street transverse from the West Side to the East Side. A friend called, I stopped, we spoke for 30 minutes and twilight set in. The full moon lit up the Fifth Avenue sky over the park.

This reminded me of my favorite film, The Producers with Zero Mostel & Gene Wilder.

Boating in Central Park, they plotted their plan for the worst play ever. Opening night, they retired to the tavern across the street from the theatre where there was only one other customer, Willam Hickey, deeply drunk.

Figuring the flop is in the bag, Zero Mostel said to Frank Campanella, the bartender, "Barkeep, Barkeep, another drink for myself, my associate, Mr. Bloom, and don't forget our good natured inebriate over here."

Their initial toast, " "Here's to failure!"

Hickey, the good natured inebriate down the bar answers the toast, "Oh, thank you. It's very kind of you."

After the toast, Max Bailystock dropped a dime in the juke box and the three of them launched into a dancing rendition of By The Light of the Silvery Moon.

By the light, of the silvery moon,
I want to spoon,
To my honey I'll croon love's tune.
Honey moon, keep a-shinin' in June.
Your silv'ry beams will bring love's dreams,
We'll be cuddlin' soon,
By the silvery moon.
By the light (not the dark but the light)
Of the silvery moon (not the sun but the moon)
I wanna spoon (not croon, but spoon)
To my honey I'll croon love's tune
Honey moon, honey moon, honey moon
Keep a-shinin' in June
Your silv'ry beams will bring love's dreams
We'll be cuddlin' soon
By the silvery moon
The silv'ry moon...
The music was written by Gus Edwards, the lyrics by Edward Madden. The song was published in 1909. It was one of a series of moonrelated Tin Pan Alley songs of the era.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Defendant Exhibit #1 ~ The People of the State of New York vs. Patricia Pryor on the Charge of Murder

If Mom had murdered Dad, I'm positive she could have walked by presenting this photograph as evidence to the jury.

The picture from Davies Lake features a can of Pepsi, a Spaulding and my sneaker. But Dad didn't care about snapping those things, he thought it was hilarious to frame this shot focusing on Mom's ass. You can see Dad crouched down so his camera was practically level with Mom's butt.

When Mom saw this photo (Dad was hiding it), she threw a black plastic Copacabana ash tray at his head (Mom had slipped the ashtray into her pocketbook on the way out of the Vic Damone show). The ash tray nearly missed the bird cage on it's way towards the open window, passing through clean, it plummeted four stories into our 83rd Street backyard.

Lots of stuff went out our windows. Pillows, balls, my grandfather's guitar, our toys, and Dad's expensive shoes when Mom was in a special mood. Dad had an agreement with Mrs. Hauser on the first floor in our building, if her family wasn't having dinner she'd let Dad come in and climb out her back window and let himself down into the backyard so he could pick up the Pryor stuff laying around.

Dad took many other hysterical photos. Mom never did kill him, but she wanted to, more than most kids want a pony. If she had killed him, you know who she would have called, "Can I speak to Mr. Mason? It's urgent!"

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wild In The Streets

On Lexington Avenue last night, inside Giovanna's Restaurant near the parish of St. Lucy's in East Harlem, Michele Carlo & I read from her terrific memoir, "Fish Out Of Agua." Michele's rich neighborhood tales are drenched in humor and pathos. We went back to 1944, and forward to the recent past. Always present in Michele's stories are family, friends, and characters, and the places we live that connect us all.

Thank you, Michele, for a great show, come back to Yorkville soon, Tommy

ps. a Garland Jeffreys song, "Wild In The Streets." Garland channels the spirit of New York City with ease and passion.

photo above: 102st looking north on Lexington, all photos below Michele & I are bike ride scenes at or near the Battery this past Sunday.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Ekis's Friday Night ~ 1969 ~ 1976

Having Michele Carlo on the Yorkville radio show tonight @ 9pm, reading Michele’s terrific memoir, “Fish Out of Agua,” brought back a strong Friday night memory.

Eddie Ekis’s mom worked at the local Five & Ten store, you know the ones with the mechanical jalopies and wild horses outside the store, a dime a ride. Friday night, Mrs. Ekis had to close the store at 9pm, that put Mrs. Ekis home at about 9:15pm.

Starting in 1969, every Friday the cocktail lamp was lit at 5pm and the first wave would roll in. There were eight to ten regulars, a poker game always got going, and the music blasted. J Geils, “Looking For a Love,” “Floyd’s Hotel,” Jeff Beck, "Truth," Humble Pie, “Thirty Days In The Hole,” Black Sabbath, “Paranoid,” Black Oak Arkansas, “Jim Dandy,” Jacksons, “Never Can Say Goodbye,” Led Zep, “Everything,” The Who, “Who’s Next,” “Quad,” Beatles, “Rubber Soul & Revolver”, Sly, “Everything, “Billy Preston, “Outer Space,” and every worth while 45 single from 1962 through the mid 70s.

Ekis had two monkeys, Chiquita & Toto. They loved beer and lived in the kitchen and had a terrace out the window when the weather was nice. Eddie fenced in the small tar roof of the beauty parlor under his second floor apartment that extended out the window about six by five feet towards York Avenue. A fine little terrace for everybody. If the weather was right we’d move the chairs out there and hang out with the monkeys, but if they didn’t like the music they went a little nuts and started pulling hair, so we had to watch what we played (they were not big fans of Black Oak Arkansas).

Most of the guys in the football team photo were regulars up Ekis’s. At five to nine everyone knew the drill. The brown bags came out, all the empties into the garbage, Ekis would move to the turntable for the “Go out,” song and we'd march out of the building on our way to somewhere never as much fun as Ekis's apartment.

I'm looking, I'm looking, I'm looking,

Somebody help me find my baby!

You go, Wolfman...


If you enjoy this blog please vote for it in Category #5 "Best Neighborhood Blog, " in the Village Voice 2010 Web Awards at this link:

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Scenes From a Yorkville Stroller

My early trips through Central Park I was the passenger in a stroller. From this vantage point I saw things high in the sky, upside down or sideways. Sometimes, the stroller stopped and I could take things apart with my eyes and put them back together. I leaned forward and saw leaves raining over an avenue of tall buildings but the sky was blue.
I had an excellent chauffeur who always pointed me to the best places. If I live five hundred years, these pictures will still be in my head.
The Waterboys always cheer me.
This Tuesday @ 9pm on the Yorkville radio show my guest is Michele Carlo, an extraordinary storyteller and author of the terrific book "Fish Out Of Agua." Michele's memoir has received exceptional reviews. I love the book and the only thing better is hearing Michele tell her stories live. Tune in Tuesday @ 9pm on the Centanni link below, or listen to the show on my archive at your leisure.
If you enjoy this story blog please nominate under Category #5 ~ Best Neighborhood Blog ~ in the Village Voice's 2010 Web Awards.