Monday, August 27, 2012

Bailey the Beach 108 Puppy Endorses "River to River"

Yesterday at Rockaway Beach, I met my first book customer, Bailey the Puppy being cuddled by two Beach 108th Street boys.

Bailey told me he ordered "River to River ~ New York Scenes from a Bicycle," a moment after YBK published it last Thursday. He confirmed his purchase with a printout of his Amazon receipt.  Bailey paid for the book with Greenies. I was touched and gave him a hug for giving up his tasty treats.

After a nice visit with Bailey and his two buddies, I headed down to Surf City at Beach 96th Street.  I watched many Dudes and Dudettes hang ten, riding waves all the way in on their surf boards. Sold five books to the band playing under the boardwalk, literally.  Sold one copy to the guy in the hammock.  Said it was for his sick mother.

All in all, another groovy day in the Rockaways.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Night & Day in Yorkville ~ End of Summer

East River & 94th Street

It's a cool morning, a reminder the summer is closing down. Here are pictures of a Yorkville night and day.

My first book of photographs "River to River ~ New York Scenes from a Bicycle" was published yesterday by YBK Publishers.

Photos, captions and an essay in an 8 x 11 format.

The book is available at YBK and Amazon for $12.95. Other sellers will be added in a month.

This photography portfolio is a small sample of my work that YBK wanted to put out there. They did a terrific job and I’m honored they asked me. I hope you buy the book and enjoy the pictures.

If you like my stories and my photos there is a lot more coming.  Be well, Tommy

Happy Birthday, Christine!!!

East River rowboat
York & 83rd Street

Friday, August 24, 2012

"'River to River ~ New York Scenes from a Bicycle" is Published

My first book of photographs "River to River ~ New York Scenes from a Bicycle" was published yesterday by YBK Publishers.

Photos, captions and an essay in an 8 x 11 format.

The book is available at YBK and Amazon for $12.95. Other sellers will be added in a month.

This photography portfolio is a small sample of my work that YBK wanted to put out there. They did a terrific job and I’m honored they asked me. I hope you buy the book and enjoy the pictures.

If you like my stories and my photos there is a lot more coming.

My next project: "Yorkville: A Century Through the Looking Glass," will include over 100 photos from my family's collection dating back to 1906 and my current pictures. I'll weave these black & white and color photographs together through my neighborhood stories tying Yorkville's present to its past. I will take you on a cinematic journey, promise.

In late September, there will be a release party in Yorkville and you are all invited. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Bergino Baseball Clubhouse Honors Gil Hodges

Art Shamsky's 1969 World Series Championship ring
Last Thursday, I had a memorable night at Bergino's Baseball Clubhouse in the Landmark Cast Iron Building on East 11th Street just west of Grace Church.  The Clubhouse’s owner, Jay Goldberg, hosted a wonderful event celebrating Gil Hodges, the Brooklyn Dodgers and the 1969 Gil Hodges led World Champion New York Mets. 

There to speak about Gil was Danny Peary, the co-author of the terrific new book, “Gil Hodges: The Brooklyn Bums, the Miracle Mets and the Extraordinary Life of a Baseball Legend.”  (Danny wrote the book with Tom Clancy).  

Jay, never one to disappoint, surprised the full house of Gil’s fans with a special guest, Art Shamsky, who played for Gil from his first game as Mets manager to his last game.  Art’s love and respect for the man remains steadfast and abundant. Art was exceedingly charming and engaging with the fans in the audience during and after the event.

I’m a life long Yankee fan. This did not stop me from thoroughly enjoying the development and construction of the Met team that won in 1969. I respected Grote because of his hard play and his catching intelligence. Jerry Koosman was my secret favorite pitcher. I was at his first shutout at Shea in 1968 (7 shutouts in his first full season).  Being a lefty and a baseball nut at 14, my world revolved around good lefties like Koosman and soon to be ace Fritz Peterson on the Yankees. Mel Stottlemyre remained a hero. I was at Mel’s first game in August 1964. Snuck up to the Stadium alone on the #4 train. But Mel was righty, understand?

When the Mets hired Hodges in 1968 my gut knew the team would improve and compete.  Hodges represented everything right about baseball and sportsmanship in general.  As example, if Gil played football for the New York Giants after he scored a touchdown he would toss the ball cleanly to the referee. I had no doubt.

Hearing Danny Peary talk passionately about the man as a player, family man, war hero, all my feelings for Gil were reinforced.  Listening to Art Shamsky tell us about Hodges as a manager and father figure to many of the young Met players doubled my opinion that Gil always walked the walk. The man should be in Cooperstown.

Thank you, Jay Goldberg, for bringing the best times of our youth packed inside our baseball memories to East 11th Street and lighting up the neighborhood with your amazing Clubhouse.

67 East 11 Street • The landmark Cast Iron Building • NYC • 212-226-7150

Grace Church facing the St. Denis Hotel

from left to right, a Fan, Danny Peary, Jay Goldberg & Art Shamsky

Art Shamsky

Monday, August 20, 2012

St. Stephen's Headline Story in New York Times

Shadow of St. Stephen's steeple
Today, The New York Times published an honest wonderful story on my old grammar school, St. Stephen of Hungary. Front and center on page A1 of the New York edition.

The story delves into the school's survival depended on the recognition that the neighborhood had changed and their competition was not the few struggling Catholic schools in the area but the independent schools scattered around the Yorkville neighborhood for the last 50 years (or more). Understanding this and doing something about it was the challenge. The compromise allowed St. Stephen's to remain open when it was targeted for closing. There were consequences. The school tuition of $8,000 is out reach to many locals but it is a quarter of the tuition at the private schools while offering a similar eclectic curriculum.

Principal Katherine Peck's professional development and implementation of the new diverse educational program while maintaining the Franciscan ideals embraced by the church and school's parishioners is outstanding. Rev. Angelo Gambatese, Pastor of St, Stephen's generously supports the school in all it's activities and has made the church into an embracing home during his long helmsmanship.

Mrs. Peck's energetic leadership is evident in every classroom. Her talented staff of teachers, assistants and administrators are deeply engaged with the students (I visited the school and kids this past year to talk about my time at the school 1960-1968).

Jenny Anderson, of The New York Times, did a great job telling the current St. Stephen’s story.

Things change, Yorkville's still here, and sometimes it's hard to find the old tucked inside the new. My memories are comforting, but it's silly and a waste of time to not find good in the new and if you are lucky tie it to your past.

I intended to write about Bergino's Baseball Clubhouse today, that story will appear here tomorrow.

Here is one of my stories that involves my time at St. Stephen's in the 1960s.

My parents wedding Sept 1952

Folder & Freddy Muller @ 1968

Father Edward marries my parents 1952

Rory First Grade

Church from the choir 2011

Tommy Third Grade ~ Mom made me wear the jacket

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Rain, the Park and Other Things

The rain, the park, and other things, that cheer me up.

Enjoy the day, wet or dry.

Some photos from now and then for a soggy day in NYC.

Rory kissing his ass goodbye in Carl Schurz Park

Mom with bump up and Rory on Confirmation Day

Patty Loves Joannie Baloney

42nd Street about to go End of World like

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Lifting the Sail at Cornelia Street Cafe

Music and storytelling lifted the sail at Cornelia Street Cafe last night. The packed house cheered. I thank you all for coming inside on a lovely summer evening.

Thank you, Robert Conroy, Michael Harren, Claire Jeffreys, Garland Jeffreys and Savannah Jeffreys for a rich melodic cruise through your telling and song. Thank you, Jon Calvert for capturing the event on film.

The Jeffreys Family night was a long time in the making and Robert and Michael's set was a perfect compliment to the evening's mood. Robert's gorgeous song, "Gloria Grahame," about the ghosts in film reminded me of the images in Garland's "35 Millimeter Dreams." Michael's piano playing was outstanding. Claire's story was wonderful, true and from the heart. Savannah's talent, voice and confidence reminds me of a young Carole King mixed in with Norah Jones and Amy Winehouse. Her songs lyrics reflect an old soul.

Garland Jeffreys more than any other artist captures best the thematic spirit of "City Stories: Stoops to Nuts" storytelling. You cannot top a New York City lyric like  -- "I used to live down on Ludlow Street, 1964, then I was so innocent, but now I know the score." Garland explores and takes apart neighborhoods, stoops, characters, nuts in each of his poignant compositions. Two of his selections last night, "New York Skyline," and "Coney Island Winter" are touchstones that make your New York heart leap. His new record, "The King of In Between," one of his best.  Garland is alive!

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.

photo by Jon Calvert

photo by Gordon Balkcom