Wednesday, April 30, 2014

All the Things You Are

Dad, 10, Yorkville newspaper article, 1939
My father, Robert Pryor, was an intelligent, self-educated man and artist. He was also a terrific dreamer. Dad showed great promise in early education, but he drifted away from the classroom to follow two passions, film and live music. He lived in moviehouses, theatres and ballrooms. With no dad, a mom working two jobs, and a brother in the army ~ for Dad at 15, school was out. Forever.

In January 1945, hanging over a mezzanine box at the Paramount Theatre on Broadway, Dad swayed dreamily side to side listening to Helen Forrest sing, "All the Things You Are," fronting the Artie Shaw Orchestra. In mid swoon while admiring his new blue suit, Dad flipped over the railing landing headfirst on an usher who was flirting with a floozy in the orchestra’s tenth row. Luckily neither was killed. The floozy, unhurt but stunned, disentangled herself and her torn stocking from the ball of men on the floor.

Bleeding and dazed, Dad and the usher were taken to French Polyclinic Hospital for stitches and X-rays. Dad begged the theatre’s manager for a rain check as the medics led him through the lobby on a stretcher.

Dad and Nan, Yorkville Casino, 1945
The usher later invented the Etch-A-Sketch. Unfortunately, Dad sustained a permanent brain injury that became apparent as the years unfolded. He no longer could make a decision or form an opinion, who’s basis did not derive from something that happened in 1945 or earlier. He remained this way to the day he died.

Our next "City Stories: Stoops to Nuts" storytelling show is Tuesday, May 13 @ 6pm @ Cornelia Street Cafe. This month's artists: Alfonso Colasuonno, Robin Eisgrau, John Lewis and Marie Sabatino. I'll host and tell a yarn.  Admission is $8 and includes a free drink.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Mom Throws a One-Hitter

In 1961, around this time of year, Mom and I had a wicked baseball game. She had an amazing right arm that threw nasty strikes at stationary and moving objects (you know, like incorrigible children). That day in Central Park, she stood near the bandshell and whipped the ball to me somewhere near Cleopatra's Needle... it was a hell of a game. She threw a one-hitter.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

"I Hate the Dallas Cowboys" ~ this Fall From YBK Publishers

This October, YBK Publishers will release my book: 

I Hate The Dallas Cowboys -
 tales of a scrappy New York boyhood

The book contains 53 stories with related photographs - my memories of growing up in 1960s' Yorkville, New York. A neighborhood any urban kid who ran the streets and used a tenement stoop as his or her own living room will find familiar. If you liked TV's "The Wonder Years," move it to a city, add a subway and you'll slip right into my world. Francis Flaherty, thank you, for your stellar editing, friendship, and warm support on this project. YBK, thank you, for your faith in this book and steady encouragement in my work. Thank you, all my friends, who have followed my writing and photography and given me inspiration.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Shy Spring Arrives in New York

Here are photos of New York City's shy spring taken in Central Park, the West Village and around Manhattan this past week.

The past two days blossoms have begun to appear on the trees. Peeks here soon.  

If you enjoy my photographs, I sell inexpensive prints at:

8 x 10's @ $25 ~ 11 x 14's @ $40

Bethesda Angel Limbo

"Save The Last Frank for Me"

Bethesda Terrace

Central Park near Bethesda Fountain

Sheridan Sqaure

Gay Street

Waverly Place

Gay Street

"Bye, Bye, Papaya" @ 8 St & 6th Ave.

U.N. Building

First Ave 52 to 53 Sts. 120 year old buildings readying for Demolition

Loose shoes @ 19 St. & Second Avenue

Bikes @ Gay St.

Gay St.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Brylcreem, A Little Dab Will Do Ya

Got into a sparkling new cab this morning. The seats, dashboard and windows shined. Riding my finger along the metal detail on the passenger door, I thought, the only time my brother Rory and I were ever this clean was for one lone hour at a photography studio on Third Avenue in spring 1960.

I repel wool. I can’t even look at someone wearing it without itching. That morning, Mom made us put on wool pants and red wool vests. Having a shirt under the vest was useless. In my mind, the wool was right on my skin just like the pants. Mom scrubbed our necks and washed our ears and put Brylcreem in our hair. I hate oil on me.
On the way over, Rory was in the stroller and I was about a half block behind them trying to walk in such a way that my legs centered in the pants so there was no wool making contact with my skin. To do so, every step was calculated. Since we were late for the appointment, Mom left Rory unattended a few times to come back and drag me. When she did, Rory climbed out of the stroller and ran back towards us. Part of the trip was uphill between Second and Third Avenue and when Rory left the stroller the brake slipped. Mom had to leave us alone to run after the stroller rolling down the hill towards 2nd Avenue, off the sidewalk and into the street. Reminded me of a Western movie I had recently seen on TV’s Channel 5.

When we got there 25 minutes late, Otto the photographer was livid. His baldhead was loaded with sweat and he was breathing heavy like Mr. Fields, the landlord in the “Abbott and Costello” TV show. This didn’t stop Rory and me from having a fight over who’d ride one of those horses with four springs that you go up and down on and also get a little bit of side to side action. Mom took me off the horse in a headlock. When he saw this happen to me Rory immediately cheered up. Otto and Mom quickly combed our hair and moved us into the position.
Mom said, “Smile nice, not stupid, or I’ll kill you.” Rory, always photogenic, nailed his pose. Somehow, I didn’t screw it up. After Otto snapped the picture, I saw Mom smile and look at us like the last hour never happened.

My column this week in  Ask A New Yorker

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Seeing An Old Friend

Things are leaving that give our life meaning. Everyday. So look around at the people and places that occupy a room in your heart and recognize their value.

Last night at Cornelia Street Cafe we had a wonderful show. Doctor Kurt Gerstmann, a life force and one of our scheduled guests for April, died suddenly earlier this year, but thanks to Dean Dacian's warm and beautiful film tribute Kurt was there along with a room full of his family of friends rooting him on.  I thank our storytelling guests, Robin Gelfenbien, David Noven, Barbara Aliprantis and Robin Hirsch for doing what Kurt enjoyed best, telling a good one. Thank you, to an appreciative audience that overflowed the Cafe with their love.

Kurt Gerstmann

Thank you, Paul And Mike for keeping the customers and artists satisfied with your splendid professional service. Thank you, Angelo, Robin, Josh and Tom for letting us play in your house.

Thank you, Sandra Lerner, for letting us borrow Kurt's memories for the evening, and thank you, Dean, for a brilliant and loving film in Kurt's honor. Great job, my friend.

Here are photos from the show last night, and from my walk downtown to the West Village past many places that give my life meaning. Some of them will not be here for long.

Barbara Aliprantis

Robin Hirsch

Robin Gelfenbien

David Noven

Dean Dacian & Tom Pryor

Shoes on corner of Second & 19th

east side of First Ave bet 52 & 53 Streets

Looking west on Bleecker

Northern Dispensary

Dean Dacian in Central Park

Gay Street off Waverly Place

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Stoops to Nuts Storytelling Tonight @ Cornelia Street Cafe

Weegee a.k.a. my Dad said he'll have plenty of flash bulbs at tonight's "City Stories: Stoops to Nuts ~ a tribute to Kurt Gertsmann" - join us @ 6pm at Cornelia Street Cafe, stories by Robin Gelfenbien, David Gandhi Noven, Robin Hirsch and a Dean Dacian film featuring Dr. Kurt Gertsmann telling one of his wonderful tales. Admission $8 includes a free drink.

Doesn't my grandfather in the rear of the photo look like he's doing a perp walk?

Me eyeing my first hamburger in 1955.  Cornelia Street Cafe has delicious hamburgers. I plan to have one at tonight's "City Stories: Stoops to Nuts ~ a tribute to Kurt Gertsmann."

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Losers Lounge ~ Safe and Sound

David Driver
Here are photographs from The The Losers Lounge Carly Simon ~ Linda Ronstadt April 4th late show at Joe's Pub. As always, a musical delight. The Losers Lounge is a NYC destination treasure. To keep the mood going I added other NYC golden spots to this album. Go to this Facebook link to see more photos from the Losers show and other NYC photographs.

Come hear Dr. Kurt Gertsmann tell a good one in Dean Dacian's short film, part of this coming Tuesday's show, "City Stories: Stoops to Nuts ~ a tribute to Kurt Gertsmann" April 8th at Cornelia Street Cafe with guests artists, Robin Gelfenbien, David Gandhi Noven, Robin Hirsch and other friends of Kurt. 

I love Carly Simon's Safe & Sound.

Seth Berkowitz and Cici James
Linda Ronstadt

The Losers Lounge

Carly Simon

Katia Floreska

Joe McGinty

David Milone & Mimi Oz

Julia Joseph

David Terhune

Alyson Greenfield

Nick Danger & Anna Callegari

Shannon Conley

Jack Skuller & Sean Altman

Mike Fornatale

Jed Parish