Tuesday, January 29, 2013

New York Scenes from a Bicycle - 7 Days Away!

West 4th Street & Sixth Ave@ 8pm  Looking North in July
7 days to "New York Scenes from a Bicycle," photography exhibition. The frames are ready for hanging.

Please drop by Cornelia Street Cafe on Tues, Feb 5th @ 530pm for the opening reception. Wine and food, yes!

"River to River: New York Scenes from a Bicycle," my photography book @ $12.95 @ Amazon. 

"River to River" will also be sold at Cornelia Street Cafe during the two month exhibition.  Contact the Cafe's host when you visit Cornelia Street.  

The exhibit runs through March 31, 2013.

My first two wheeler, Christmas Day 1960, me & Rory

Ruthie  on 23rd St west of 6th Avenue - 2012

Friday, January 25, 2013

Someone Told Me It's All Happening at the Zoo

Tommy & Rory @ Central Park Children's Zoo @ 1962
Born in 1954 and 1956, Rory and I were a perfect age to enjoy the opening of Central Park's Children Zoo. My affection for this spot never wavers and its always a treat to slide by on a bike or a walkabout to see the place with a fresh eye.

At my Cornelia Street Cafe photo exhibit (Opening February 5th @ 5:30pm) I'll merge old New York images with my new photography and give you a visual ride around our beautiful ever changing city, New York.

Please come to "New York Scenes from a Bicycle," opening Tuesday, February 5th @ 5:30pm @ Cornelia Street Cafe. I promise a lovely time, because, "Someone told me it's all happening at the Zoo."
Central Park Children's Zoo entrance 2011

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Every Picture Tells a Story

"Dad, watch, I'm going all the way up!"
I believe most actions called courageous are triggered by fear, stupidity or both. I've never weighed the laws of self preservation with the appropriate balance. I either over think a situation until my head spins ceaselessly or I recklessly dive in without checking the quick set up "might be thin ice here" brochure that comes with most dilemmas.

Tommy scared of horses sings away his fear
As a boy, I'd climb trees in Central Park never looking down, go up as far as I could, then I'd look down. My heart relocated to the outside of my chest and I'd freeze with fear. Rory, a half monkey, climbed over me, under me and around me, telling me I was going to fall and die, and then, I'd be sorry. I'd stay up there overlooking the Great Lawn, Sheep's Meadow or Poet's Walk until Mom a little worried, bored or tired sitting on the bench below told Dad "go get him."

While Rory continued to circle me like I was a prize banana, Dad ascended the height easily as if he was an Indian who's day job was building expansion bridges over great rivers. Forcefully, he unhinged my arms wrapped around the tree limb I didn't want to leave. Ever. He'd start down carrying me like a beer barrel tucked into his chest with his right arm. Back on Earth, he'd say don't do it again, I'd lie and say OK, as Rory giggled above us and Mom shook her head slowly side to side lighting a Marlboro from her soft pack.

I fear heights, riding a bike (early on), diving, horseback riding, flash bulbs, singing in public, getting my breath cut off, dark spaces, needles and certain vegetables. On occasion, I muscle through blindly to get it over with or to avert the shame of having someone push me. I'm confused but grateful when my actions are mistakenly identified as courageous.

As you see from my facial expressions in the photographs on this page:   Every Picture Tells a Story.

I'm still that clumsy anxious boy but I've learned it's safety first!  Going forward, I wear my "William Holden Drinking Helmet" all the time.

Cornelia Street Cafe is mounting my first photography exhibit, "New York Scenes from a Bicycle." It opens February 5th and runs through March 31, 2013. All my Stoops to Nuts friends are invited to the opening reception on February 5th @ 5:30pm.

Hope you can make it! We'll have fun.

My book of photography, "River to River: New York Scenes from a Bicycle," is available at Amazon @ $12.95.

Tommy's first two-wheeler ride on Xmas Day 1960
Wee Gee visits Pryor family with flash bulb

Tommy recovering he lost head at beach

Tommy wearing his "William Holden Drinking Helmet."

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

An Historical Record in Photos & Motion

Carl Schurz Park 1961 @ 86th St entrance
I'm back, and thinking about October 1961, I'm at the 86th Street entrance to Carl Schurz Park with my first bike. Dad takes my picture with the sun in my eyes. My love for photography started that year. Dad and I rode Manhattan Island weekend in, weekend out.  Here are photos from these trips.

Sometimes, Dad would take Rory along in a seat behind his seat on his three speed Raleigh. Usually, it was just Dad, me and his Yaschica 44 camera. Sometimes, Dad would finish the trip by taking a photo of Mom when we came back like you see here.
Mom is on the northeast corner of 83rd Street and York Avenue. The camera is facing East End Avenue. If you show me a black and white photo from my Dad's collection I could probably tell you what we ate for lunch and what was coming for dinner. These rides, these days, are locked away in my memory vault.
Rory resting, me cleaning Dad's bike @ 1961

My love for cycling, New York City and photos are alive and well. Cornelia Street Cafe is mounting my first. photography exhibit, "New York Scenes from a Bicycle." It opens February 5th and runs through March 31, 2013.  All my Stoops to Nuts friends are invited to the opening reception on February 5th @ 5:30pm.  

Hope you can make it.

My book of photography, "River to River: New York Scenes from a Bicycle," is available at Amazon @ $12.95.

Xmas Day 1960 my first day with first two wheeler @ 1582 York Ave.

Mom on n/e cor of 83rd St & York @1966

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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Everything That Touches You

A friend, Lorraine, brought up her favorite film, "Pollyanna," this morning.  That brought back my massive crush on Hayley Mills, the film's star. Each time I hear "Everything That Touches You," by The Association, I think of Hayley and why Sunday nights on 83rd Street in the 1960s were not so dreadful (Weekend's Over Blues). Odds were high, Hayley Mills was on Disney. I was nuts for her.

Sunday was an introspective night in the Pryor apartment. Except for the TV blasting, low or no conversation was the norm. Dad insisted we play his favorite game, "Mum." We all suffered intense "Weekend's Over Blues. "

Start with Rory and me, we loved to play. Early on, we both liked school but we were fidgety and lets face it, early to mid 1960s Catholic education was slow and boring except for a decent Nun that made math, reading or history fun. Minimal art, minimal music, no trips, School dragged. 

On the weekend, Rory a good artist, and me, a decorated shit collector, we'd organize and reorganize our few things and stay down Carl Schurz Park or on the street or in the vestibules as long as allowed in any weather we were allowed to be out in. If we were driving Mom nuts, and it was raining, she'd give us each an umbrella, throw us out into the hall and tell us to "have a good time." Every time she did this we deserved, we were champion ballbusters. Rory and I had our possessions spread out in three locations: our small 517 E. 83rd Street bunk bed room and cookie tins and cigar boxes at our two sets of grandparents railroad apartments - one and three blocks away at 1582 and 1616 York Avenue. On the weekend, we could visit our Nans and Pops freely (nicknames: Nan and Pop Cuckoo at 1582 had a Cuckoo clock and Nan and Pop Dutchie had a neighbor with a German shepherd called Dutchess). Or Murray Parker under 1582.

Without a parent, after 6 years old, we'd just stop in, sit a spell or hang out on 1616's long stoop or the backyard facing East End Avenue drinking ginger ale or eating vanilla Junket custard. The weekday grandparents visits were rare.  Sunday through Thursday night we were stuck in our telephone booth with the bunk bed.

Dad had deep Weekend Blues too. A terrific artist, he hated his day job, 30 years selling container space for major shipping companies.  It was not a job, it was a Faustian trap. In the 1950s and 1960s there was more product leaving and coming into New York Harbor than there was room on the containers. The competition for sales was a joke. You had your clients, and that was that. Then Saturday and Sunday, usually local bars after a catch, bike ride or a trip to Carl Schurz Park, Yankee Stadium, Madison Square Garden or Central Park.  Dad participated in the cycle but wanted something else, (he repeatedly told me how bored he was) and he fought it by focusing on his sketching, painting and miniature house construction. When he did, he sold work, houses and furniture to FAO Schwartz and the small antique stores on Lexington in the low 70s that favored miniatures. Sold sketches, too. But he never quit the day job though I believe his charm on top of his talent would have gotten his work noticed and fueled a career switch. Dad hated Sunday night, this desire to draw or paint full-time running through his mind while doing it with his family around him.  Tomorrow, back to the easy cycle. Even when we were pissed at him, we enjoyed watching him work, especially on the sketches but Monday the only skill he called on was his charm. He had bags full of that but lots of fury in there, too. Clients got the charm.

When I was about 9, I saw Danny Kaye play Walter Mitty, I couldn't separate many of the character's attributes from my father's "three times around the world imagination" (he remembered all naval knots and knew every joke every told and never blew a punch line). Like Mitty, Dad had unbridled passions and deep talents but unfortunately, he locked them away during the week.

Mom hated Sunday night, she wanted her own room, our crap was killing her, three pigs in a sty she called us. She hated waking us up Monday to Friday, then Sunday for mass. After a restless start we each slept like someone slipped us a Mickey Finn at closing time, especially Dad. Several times, Mom honestly thought he was dead after shaking him. But watching Rory, Dad and me in the living room, Mom saw a slight resemblance to the family she wanted us to be: four of us gathered, talking, laughing, enjoying each other's company, long meals, no judging, no barked orders, just loving each other the way she unconditionally loved a number of people in her life, but mostly we sat in silence. Rory and I watching Rocky and Bullwinkle, Disney, Ed Sullivan, doing our homework from Friday during the commercials. Dad sitting with us and drawing and Mom thought, tomorrow this turns to vapor. 

Sunday night in front of the loud TV, the four of us thinking about what should be and wasn't.

My escape, Hayley Mills takes my hand in hers and walks down the park with me. We stroll and kiss goodbye.

When I look at the old Yorkville photographs, I always stop and look at the bicycle trips shots. Alone with Dad, he'd calm down on me and listening to him didn't bother me. I knew how to handle him. Outside was freedom. The love in our house was immeasurable but its expression struggled.

Here is a link to my NBC interview this past Monday on the "New York Nonstop" show regarding my book, "River to River: New York Scenes from a Bicycle," and my upcoming photo exhibit at Cornelia Street Cafe beginning Feb 5th @ 530pm.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Cornelia Street Stoytelling on a Mild Winter Night

A wonderful storytelling show at Cornelia Street Cafe last night on a mild winter evening in the West Village.  These terrific artists brought their best work to the stage: Barbara Aliprantis, Phillip Giambri, Cici James, Ethan, Coree Spencer and Nick Zaharakos. Thank you, my friends. The audience: a sweet mix of new and old "City Stories: Stoops to Nuts"chums. Thank you, everyone for coming.

Thank you, Steve Northeast and Paul Jones for your professional and courteous attention to all details. We always feel at home in your room.  Thank you, Robin Hirsch, Angelo Verga and Josh Rebell for letting us gather in your playground.

Here are photos from the show and the corner of Bleecker and Sixth Avenue at twilight.

Our next "City Stories: Stoops to Nuts" show is Tuesday, February 12th @ 6pm.

My two month photography exhibition "New York Scenes from a Bicycle" @ Cornelia Street Cafe kicks off with a wine reception on February 5th @ 530pm to 7pm.  All friends are welcome.

"River to River: New York Scenes from a Bicycle" my book is available at Amazon for $12.95.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Yorkville Interview on NBC TV Last Night

Thomas Pryor & Erika Tarantal @ 30 Rock NBC studio 

Erica, guest hosting for Chuck Scarborough, was wonderful and thoroughly prepared. Before the show she read "Spotless Cleaners" and two of my NYTimes stories at my blog. She told me she loved them, that felt good. I needed her support. I showed up to the show sick. Felt woozy in the chair. I don't recommend doing your first live TV interview with a weak immune system.

The studio was straight out Kubrick's "Space Odyssey," Four huge cameras with no operators, all controlled from a far off booth.

In the studio, one charming and efficient director, Erika and me. That's it.

"Just look at Erika," the director said after putting me in a seat, but the cameras fascinated me. They each had a mind of their own.

I'm not your most attentive student. Ask the nuns at St. Stephen of Hungary and brothers at LaSalle Academy.

Kept expecting to hear from HAL. After the interview on the way out of the studio I thought I heard a low voice slowly reciting, "Mary Had a Little Lamb."

Gordon Balkcom & Thomas Pryor @ 30 Rock NBC studio
Thank you, Gordon Balkcom, for making this interview happen, promoting our storytelling work at Cornelia Street and my book, "River to River: New York Scenes from a Bicycle" (YBK Publishers). You're the best, Gordon.


Our next "City Stories: Stoops to Nuts" show is tonight, Tuesday, Jan 8th @ 6pm. Our artists are Phillip Giambri, Cici James, Coree Spencer and Nick Zaharakos. Admission is $8 and includes a free drink. We'll entertain you with yarns and tunes. A fine time guaranteed.


Coming up, Cornelia Street Cafe will host a two month exhibition of my photography, "New York Scenes from a Bicycle." The opening reception is Tuesday, February 5th @ 5:30p to 7pm, all my friends are welcome.

The photos will be on display in the restaurant until the end of March.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Stoops to Nuts on TV Tonight on Ch 161 @ 7pm

Tonight I'm scheduled to appear on Chuck Scarborough's NBC show "New York Nonstop" on Time Warner's Channel 161 @ 7pm.

Here is a link to other local cable stations that carry the show.

My segment should run live around 7:30pm. NBC likes my book, "River to River: New York Scenes from a Bicycle"(released by YBK Publishers) and wants to hear about our monthly "City Stories: Stoops to Nuts" storytelling show at Cornelia Street Cafe and the Cafe's upcoming exhibition of my photography (opening reception: Feb 5th).

Thank you, Gordon Balkcom, for making this happen.

Our next "Stoops to Nuts" show is tomorrow, Tuesday, Jan 8th @ 6pm. Our artists are Phillip Giambri, Cici James, Coree Spencer and Nick Zaharakos. Admission is $8 and includes a free drink.

Here are more photos from Central Park on a cold clear morning.