Friday, February 28, 2014

Walking in a Winter Wonderland, My Ass

I reluctantly, hopefully, looked up the ten day NYC weather forecast. After viewing lots more 20s and friggin teens, I discovered we're in hell and it's nothing to do with fire or brimstone.

I used to make so much fun of my father for wearing wool socks indoors in the summer, for banging the radiator to let Quentin the Super know he better send up some heat in late April.

This moment, I sit chilled in my apartment with too many clothes on thinking about putting a warmer sweater on and hearing my dead father laughing his ass off. 

May God have mercy on our frozen toes.

This coming Tues, March 4th @ 7pm I'm part of the No Name Word Up Paranormal show and I'm telling a spooky story, weather permitting.

Word Up: Community Bookshop - Libreria Comunitaria
Tuesday, March 4th, at 7:00 pm SHARP
2113 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, New York @ corner of 176 Street

Thinking ahead, I highly recommend "City Stories: Stoops to Nuts" on March 11th a FREE show at Cornelia Street Cafe featuring Barbara Aliprantis, Cris Beam, Francis Flaherty, Robin Hirsch, Tim O'Mara, Author, Joshua Rebell, Angelo Verga & Adam Wade. We're celebrating our friends and a "Holy Crap!" birthday.


Thursday, February 27, 2014

No Name Turns 20 on Broadway

No Name TURNS 20 last night at The United Palace Theatre on Broadway in Washington Heights was a blast. Eric Vetter, founder of No Name, led a star filled cast of performers paying tribute to a class act, No Name & A Bag O’Chips Variety Show ~ happy 20, may the next 20 be better than the first, a tough assignment. It’s a remarkable feat doing anything in New York for 20 straight years but putting on a show that has given countless artists opportunities to try their work out in front of a hungry and appreciative audience is a wonder.

As a boy, Eric Vetter saw his first film at Loews 175th Street Theatre aka “The Palace” so it was a genuine homecoming for the boy and the space. The dazzling theatre was opened in January 1930. It has 3,293 seats, more than half the size of Radio City Music Hall. The former movie palace was designed by Thomas W. Lamb (a legend in theatre architecture) and built as one of the Loew’s Wonder Theatres for vaudeville and movies. After a dry run as a large movie house the theatre was purchased by TV Evangelist Reverend Ike in 1969 and lovingly restored to its prime. As of late, the space has been rented out for music events such as Vampire Weekend, Bob Dylan, Neil Young and others. The good news? Artistic life is thriving on Broadway in Washington Heights.

This piece first appeared in Ask a New Yorker.

Here is a link to a public Facebook photo album with 114 photographs from the No Name show at The Palace.

Next Tuesday, March 4th come hear me tell a spooky story @ NoName @ WordUp Super Storytellers Edition: PARA…NORMAL? FREE SHOW @ Word Up: Community Bookshop – Libreria Comunitaria @ 2113 Amsterdam Avenue, (corner of 176 Street)

Monday, February 24, 2014

Spring's A Coming ~ Adam Wade's Storytelling Graduation Show & Central Park

Joe Dettmore
Great show yesterday at Adam Wade's Storytelling 2 class graduation at Magnet Theater. Ryan Looper, Terrence Gray, Eric Sepe, Elizabeth Phillips, Steve Whyte & Joe Dettmore kicked ass with great stories developed over our six week class with Professor Wade. Ivailo Dimov, Laura Weinblatt & John Lin, you were missed.

I walked through Central Park on my way to the show. Spring ain't sprung but it certainly tried yesterday. A beautiful day with a beautiful group of storytellers and a fine audience rooting us on. Thank you, all for letting me play with you. hugs, Tommy.

Here is a link to an album from show and Central Park.

I will put up more photos from the show and the park tomorrow.

Next Stoops to Nuts show @ Cornelia Street Cafe on Tuesday, March 11th is FREE.

Steve Whyte

Elizabeth Phillips

Prof. Wade

Eric Sepe

Ryan Looper

Terrence Gray

A lefty

79 St Hill formerly Cherry Hill
Bethesda Terrace

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Winter Shadows ~ 330pm, Today, Free Storytelling at Magnet Theatre

84 St from 507 looking towards East End Ave
I'm telling an ol' Yorkville yarn today, Sunday, February 23rd at a FREE show concluding Adam Wade's Level 2 Storytelling class. That's 3:30pm, TODAY at Magnet Theater's TRAINING CENTER - 259 W. 30th Street in the Playtex Chapel on the 2nd floor.

Yesterday, I walked along 2nd Avenue from the high 70s to the mid 80s as the sun dropped across the east side of the avenue. I walked down a number of blocks to catch the shadows of the trees against the tenements. Here's one shot of 2nd Avenue and two from the inside blocks.

2nd Ave & 85 St looking southwest

85 St from 321 looking towards First Ave

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Storytelling Show at Magnet Theatre Tomorrow ~ Luke Kicking Ass in Brooklyn

Did I ever tell you the story involving 2 Air Canada stewardesses, 4 bras, Reggie Fleming & the 1960s Rock & Roll show Hullabaloo? I was 11, Steve was 12, it was Feb 1966 when all these things delightfully converged... Believe It or Not! 

I'm telling the whole story, tomorrow, Sunday, February 23rd at a FREE show concluding Adam Wade's Level 2 Storytelling class. That's 3:30pm, Sunday, Feb 23rd at Magnet Theater's TRAINING CENTER - 259 W. 30th Street in the Playtex Chapel on the 2nd floor.

Last night, I attended Luke Thayer's sold out late show at the Postmark Cafe in Park Slope. Luke was terrific, Abbi Crutchfield's opening set the table perfectly.

Everything works better with a solid partner in crime, Great show,Luke, super duper MC-ing, Abbi. Your crowd loved you.

Postmark Cafe, Brooklyn

Luke Thayer

Abbi Crutchfield

a happy customer

Friday, February 21, 2014

Ghost Girls Sleigh ~ Yorkville Town Meeting ~ Two Shows!

Fog, snow, and four girls on two sleds. I saw this scene from the street and ran into Owls Head Park to take a few pictures. The kids were giddy with pleasure from owning the space.

There was no one else there but these four ghost girls.

They were "Queens of the Hill."

Last night, Mayor DeVivo called a Yorkville Town Hall Meeting.  We met at Fetch on 92nd Street and Third Avenue. Chief of Staff, Jimmy O'Brien called the meeting to order. much was accomplish

Hi, I'm the "Columbus Circle Kid" and I highly recommend "City Stories: Stoops to Nuts" on March 11th at Cornelia Street Cafe featuring Barbara AliprantisCris BeamFrancis Flaherty, Robin Hirsch, Tim O'Mara, AuthorJoshua RebellAngelo Verga & Adam Wade.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Let 'em In

Mr. Beller's Neighborhood published "Instantly, Life Got Better," my story about The Beatles appearance on Ed Sullivan in 1964. The piece conveys what happened that night but doesn't explore a deeper connection the event had in countless households.

It was less than three months after the Kennedy assassination, Pope John XXIII died in June 1963 (even if you weren't religious, you would've loved this guy) and the country's nerves were still rattled by the upper case, bold, 24 point newspaper headlines and frantic news coverage of the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962.

Children, particularily in Catholic households, saw one or both parents lose it. I mean really lose it. Cuba, The Pope and JFK knocked them for a loop and the younger children were at a total loss understanding what was happening in Mom and Dad's heads - they were crying out of context, drinking when they shouldn't and not making the usual "I'm all there" eye contact. Felt like there was no chance things were going to be OK and the parents lost their license as kid protectors.

In February 1964, The Beatles appearance on Ed Sullivan offered families a bit of salvation, a path out of waywardness and grief. If they let 'em in. The younger audience's reaction telegraphed to the older audience, "we have joy." Like or hate them, The Beatles rallied hope.

This Sunday, February 23rd come hear Tommy Pryor tell a long one along with his fellow students at their FREE show concluding Adam Wade's Level 2 Storytelling class. That's 3:30pm, Sunday, Feb 23rd at THE Magnet Theater TRAINING CENTER - 259 W. 30th St (2nd floor)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

I Can't Go!

Four years ago today, I left my affordable housing job to write full-time. In 1992, I had to pass a medical exam in the Woolworth Building for the old  job. It wasn't easy.

"Jeez, I hope he hurries." The doctor said to his nurse. "I don't want to miss my train."
"Me, too. I've got to get my kid by 5:30pm." Her answer tinged with aggravation.

Hearing this exchange through the bathroom door, my bladder shut down. I was on the 60th floor of the Woolworth Building, the world's tallest building from 1914 to 1930. My medical exam for the New York City Housing Authority hiring process was concluding with the traditional urine sample.

"Everything OK in there?"

He didn't care if everything was OK, he was telling me to get out of there, asap, so he could escape his eerie dark office. I stuck my head under the sink's spout and began drinking lots of water. Flushed the bowl a few times, and took off my shirt and pants for good luck.

"I hope he's not pee shy," came loud and clear through the door.

I couldn't believe she said it. The pressure already peaking, I drank more water and opened the small window, high over the sink to let in fresh air, and started pacing the tiny bathroom in my bare feet on the checkered marble floor. The socks followed my pants.

"For Christ's sake, it's been twenty minutes, did he die in there?" She said, then one of them fell dramatically into a chair based on the sound I heard of a sizable ass hitting a seat.

I couldn't possibly drink more water, and I couldn't go. My last recourse was sticking my head directly out the window over the sink. I figured I'd rock my bare belly on the ledge, while the rarefied air hit me in the face. Climbing on the sink, I got most of my upper body through the petite opening. Once I got my arms through, I leaned on my elbows and looked left and saw the beautiful Hudson River all the way up to the Bridge. Then I looked right, and screamed like a girl, "Aaaaaahhhhh!"

Face to face with a stone gargoyle, not a funny gargoyle, a hideous gargoyle that comes to you in a nightmare after eating Mexican food way too late. My scream made me lose my footing and I fell forward. The snug window and my chubby stomach kept me from falling all the way out. The cars below looked like toys. I thought about the Post's headline, "Boxer Shorts Suicide Dives Off Woolworth Building."

Hyperventilating, stuck in the window, I heard, "Hey, what the hell is going on?"

"Nothing, nothing..." I lied, pulled myself out of the window, got off the sink, went over to the toilet and peed like a horse. I got dressed and came out of the bathroom with the specimen cup, refused to make eye contact with my medical providers, somehow found one of their hands to pass it off, and ran out the door and down twenty flights of fire stairs before I felt the urge to pee again. Took the elevator to the lobby with my legs crossed.

Hello, "Bethesda Angel" here, you think you're sick of snow? How would you like to be out here 24 hours a day in this crap? I've had it, but I will be doing a road trip this coming Sunday, February 23rd to hear Tommy Pryor tell a long one along with his fellow students at their FREE show concluding Adam Wade's Level 2 Storytelling class. That's 3:30pm, Sunday, Feb 23rd at THE Magnet Theater TRAINING CENTER - 259 W. 30th St (2nd floor)

Friday, February 14, 2014

Is it Mudder's Day?

Hockey Field from Oval in Carl Schurz Park
There was a certain age, when anything over a four inch snowfall drove all the teen boys down to the Hockey Field in Carl Schurz Park for some of the best tackle football in the Yorkville neighborhood. If you were lucky, you had on those great $6 dollar tan and brown rubber boots with the yellow laces you bought from Arbee's Army Navy store on 83rd and Second (mandatory footwear for all Troop 654 ~ St. Stephen of Hungary's Boy Scouts) ~ if you weren't lucky, you had sneakers on, and said, "Uncle," when your feet froze and you lost your feeling in them.

The trick to staying out in the snow forever, was keeping the snow from getting inside the boot (if you had them on ~ half the guys did have sneakers), everybody had their own method. I tucked my two long johns inside the boot than wore my dungarees outside the boot and put a big rubber band around the dungarees half way up the boot. This kept me dry for a long time, and also put my foot to sleep cutting off my circulation, better than getting wet.

The tackle games in the snow were wild. We had “mudders,” like at the race track on rainy days. Guys who were useless at football when it wasn’t snowing, but as soon as they got down the Hockey Field in a pile of snow they turned into super heroes. You lost your traction in the stuff and certain guys knew how to adjust and some danced the night away, poorly. Nimble turned into the leading talent down the Hockey Field. Best snow tackle player of all-time, Freddy Muller, and he had sneakers on.

Before the game, we'd sneak back up our houses to get extra clothing to act as padding. Dad was permanently pissed off at me for ruining all his sweatshirts. I'd throw a pair of his house pants over my dungarees and belt them up for good luck. Getting stuff back in the house was a treacherous art.

Carl Schurz playground @ 6am