Saturday, November 30, 2013

Greetings From Asbury Park

Casino Sundae
Saw Casino Sundae open for The Smithereens last night at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, N.J. Brian Stabile and his band members nailed a terrific set, I'll add band member names later today. I listened to their album on the way down there with my chum, Barry Stabile, and it was a blast hearing all the tunes live. Thank you, Brian and Jennifer Stabile for inviting me to the show, it was my first time inside The Stone Pony, and all you need to do is ask Barry what that means to me. Only one shrine on earth is more important to me musically and that's in Liverpool. I'll see The Cavern someday soon, but feeling pretty good about my visit to the spot The Boss called home.

My framed photographs are on display at the Yorkville Creperie through the end of the year. Please drop by and see them when you can.

hosted by Yorkville Creperie through December 31, 2013

1586 York Avenue (bet 83rd & 84th Street)

More Central Park Indian Summer photos at this link.

The Stone Pony

Brian Stabile

Casino Sundae

The Stone Pony

Casino Sundae

The Smithereens

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Giving Thanks to Mom

83rd Street backyard
So I walk into the house, I’m 10, and the first thing I see is a pair of bare legs on the inside of a closed window and the rest of the body isn’t in the apartment. I’m praying to God whoever it is doesn’t fall, the soapy glass prevents a clean identification of the person sitting on the outside sill, but I kind of figure it’s my mother by the unmistakable fluffy slippers dangling from her toes. Now I’m flipping out because I’m scared of heights. She’s four stories up, 50 feet smack over the concrete backyard. My heart’s outside my chest doing a Mexican Bean dance on my T-Shirt. Finally an arm starts swirling away the soapy water and I see Mom’s face through the glass and she smiles at me. I love that smile, and for a brief moment I was not frightened for her I was just amazed at how hard she worked to keep our small apartment clean. 
Mom with dish towel attached over her shoulder

When I was boy right through my teens, if I was away a day or longer from the house she’d surprise me and cleaned my room like something out of a movie. It looked so good I thought I was in Beaver Cleaver’s bedroom. This blew my mind, I’d run through the apartment and grab my mother and kiss her over and over and shower her with thank yous.  All Mom said while I tackled her, “Watch my head, I don’t like people touching my head.”

This morning I washed ten windows, five storms windows and two screens. When I got to my daughter’s room that’s when Mom’s spirit swept through me, I felt it, I felt her, and she made several passes. As I cleaned my daughter’s space (dusted the knick-knacks, too) Mom stayed with me for two hours and I began to feel the love and enjoyment she experienced doing this for me countless times many years ago.
Mother & Spaghetti - What a Surprise Dinner
Growing up, my family and all my friends lived in small spaces, most with two or more kids. A New York tenement mother has a wicked tough job.  Keeping a home when the challenges to clean and organized it are near insurmountable.  I don’t know about you, but from what I saw, I think most tenement moms had a brittle grip on their sanity.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. No gifts, no religion (at least not in my family) just people gathered because they love each other. I’m thankful that so many people in my lifetime loved me crazy, told me, showed me, then did it again.  Though a lot of them are gone, their love was so sturdy it’s never left. I pull it out whenever I need to and it never fails to ease an ache.

Earlier today, while I was I polishing my mother’s bone china pieces and her Aries statute, behind me I felt that same smile I saw through the soapy window when I was 10.

Thank you, Mom, Happy Thanksgiving.

Mom with the Smile I love

A blessed mouse event during this holiday season

Work to do

Daughter''s room after I cleaned it.

My room after Mom cleaned it @ 1973.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

November 22, 1963, A City Boy's Reaction

St. Stephen's Steeple @ Thomas R. Pryor 2011
After lunch on Friday, November 22, 1963, St. Stephen of Hungary's student body assembled in the auditorium for our once in a blue moon movie. That day our feature was, "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 company was tempered by my concern for Bambi.

Half way into the film, an upset solemn 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.
St. Stephen's 4th grade - Sept 63 to June 64

"Our President has been shot. Go back 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 Curtin, 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 near East End Avenue. 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 to no end, 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.

Below are the front and back covers of the New York Daily News on the day following the assassination. I also included the ads for the films playing up 86th Street at Loews and the RKO. George Clark’s “The Neighborhoods,” was a featured cartoon in the paper. Shortly thereafter George Clark was drinking in Loftus Tavern on York Avenue and 85th Street, my parents, Rory and I were in there too on a Sunday afternoon. Clark asked my father could he draw Rory, then he drew Mom, here are those two sketches. I also threw in an article on the New York Giants.

Rory Pryor @ George Clark

Patricia Pryor @ George Clark

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Central Park Indian Summer

Yesterday, I created a museum scavenger hunt for a friend and her family with hints leading to the art pieces based on Beatle lyrics. I had a lot of work to do at home but after the hunt was over I left the Met and ran into Central Park to see what all this nice weather was about. Strolling the Great Lawn in a short sleeve shirt with my jacket wrapped around my waist in mid-November made me feel like a thief. The park was showing off and it was all good.

My framed photographs are on display at the Yorkville Creperie through the end of the year. Please drop by and see them when you can.

hosted by Yorkville Creperie through December 31, 2013

1586 York Avenue (bet 83rd & 84th Street)

More Central Park Indian Summer photos at this link.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Stoops to Nuts Storytelling on Cornelia Street

Deni Robey
Thank you, Paul Jones, Eli Reiter, Deni Robey, Don Rosler and Elizabeth Rowe for a wonderful City Stories: Stoops to Nuts show at Cornelia Street Cafe last night. Thank you, everyone who came out on a cold night and joined us downstairs and cheered us on. Thank you, Matt. Laureen and Lola for keeping the customers satisfied, and thank you, Robin Hirsch, Angelo Verga and Joshua Rebell for opening your home to our antics.

Here's a link to more photos from last night @ Facebook.

Our next City Stories: Stoops to Nuts show is Tuesday, December 10th with your guest host, Barbara Aliprantis, leading the band of tellers.

Don Rosler

Fourteen of my framed photographs are on display at the delicious Yorkville Creperie through the end of the year. Please drop by and see them when you can.

hosted by Yorkville Creperie through December 31, 2013

1586 York Avenue (bet 83rd & 84th Street)

Paul Jones

Eli Reiter

Elizabeth Rowe

Cornelia Street

Thomas Pryor, Maria Gorshin, Kennedy Moore

pre show smooze

6th Ave looking south at West 4 St.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Central Park 6:45am

Early this morning, Central Park was cold and beautiful.

Our next "City Stories: Stoops to Nuts," show is Tuesday, November 12th @ 6pm @ Cornelia Street Cafe. Our talented artists are: Paul Jones, Eli Reiter, Deni Robay, Don Rosler, and Elizabeth Rowe, with your host, Thomas Pryor. $8 admission includes a free drink. Time Out Magazine says, "Stoops to Nuts," is a positive experience not to be missed, no they didn't, but they do say it's a cool thing to do.

If you visit the Upper Eastside sometime soon, my framed photographs are on display at Yorkville Creperie through the end of the year. Please drop in and see my work and enjoy their excellent food and service.

hosted by Yorkville Creperie through December 31, 2013

1586 York Avenue (bet. 83 & 84 St.)