Monday, November 24, 2014

As Good As It Gets

with Prof. Robert White @ Hunter College, December 2010
My favorite teacher of all-time, Professor Robert White from Hunter College showed up unannounced at my Barnes & Noble event on Oct 17th.  I let out a high pitch yelp when I saw him from the podium. It was the second time I had seen Prof. White in 37 years (we briefly met at Hunter in 2010).

As lucky as I am to have Robert Lipsyte, Kevin Baker, Dave Hill, Barbara Turner & Thomas Beller say nice things about the book, and to have 35 five star reviews on Amazon, nothing makes me grin like the email I received from Professor White today.

Dr. Robert White to tp:

Dear Tom,

I will start this e-mail by telling you how much I enjoyed your Barnes & Noble reading. You were terrific. But as wonderful as that evening was, it paled before the pure joy I received from actually reading your book. It was wonderful to recall Rheingold beer (I still remember casting countless ballots for Miss Rheingold, in the grocery store rather than in a bar, as well as all the winners from the mid-forties to the mid-fifties), the Miss Subways, Horn and Hardart mac and cheese (which my family consumed every meatless Friday night), Spaldeens, and Brylcreem (a tube of which I kept next to my tube of Colgate until one evening in 1959 when I had a date and, in my haste to get ready, I grabbed the wrong one--Brylcreem on your teeth is disgusting beyond belief). Since I went to Regis High School from 1953 to 1957, I remember with fondness that strange orange drink they served at the Nedicks near the 86th Street Lexington Avenue No. 6 subway line, the Loew's Orpheum, and the RKO. My father, who boxed in the Golden Gloves, never missed Friday Night at the Fights unless he was playing pinochle with his buddies. I haven't thought about that for years.

I, too, had a Jerry Mahoney ventriloquist dummy. It was amazing how many of them were in American households from the early 50s on. But enough about me. Let me tell you my favorite chapters. I found "The Third Beer" and the account of your meeting with Luis Arroyo extremely moving, as I did the Sparky Lyle "Back in the Bullpen" chapter. It was fun to read "The Headlock That Won for the Giants" after hearing your reading of it at Barnes & Noble. "Beans in My Pocket" was a blast. My other favorite chapters (and, as you can tell, there were many of them) were "Trading Cards," especially your encounter with Carl Yastrzemski, since it justified the inordinate pleasure I derived from Derek Jeter's passing him in the 3000-hit club, "The Holy Cart" and "My First Area Rug," from which I gained an insight into your entrepreneurial side, "A Valentine for Nan" (remind me to tell you of the fight I had with Jackie Whittle which landed me in the hospital with a severed tendon when I was 13 years old), "His Master's Voice," and my two absolute favorites--"The Playtex Chapel" and "Mamma Mia."

"I Hate the Dallas Cowboys" has everything--humor, nostalgia, love. Thank you for writing this excellent book.

Fondly, Bob White


Thank you, to everyone who's left a comment at Amazon on the book, I deeply appreciate your time and thoughts. If you have read the book or will read the book and have not left a comment it would mean much to me if you do, just a few honest words. hugs, tommy


"Yorkville: Stoops to Nuts" is coming home to the old neighborhood on Thursday, December 4th for a terrific Holiday Show @ Ryans Daughter 350 East 85th Street @ 7 to 10pm. Our artists: Eric Vetter & his unplugged band, Michele Carlo, Lincoln C. Chinnery, Abbi Crutchfield, Walter Michael DeForest & Colin Dempsey.  FREE show, come on down!

If you can't make Yorkville on December 4th, Monday, December 1st I'm be telling a story in the East Village at We Three Productions Reading at 2A, 25 Ave A @ 2nd St. - Upstairs ~ FREE 
Tuesday, December 9th we have our next monthly "Stoops to Nuts" storytelling show at Cornelia Street Cafe with with these fine artists: Muneesh Jain; Margarita Pracatan; Elizabeth Rowe; Jeff Rose

Reviews on the book:

“Thomas R. Pryor has written a sweet, funny, loving memoir of growing up old-school in a colorful New York neighborhood. A story of sports, family, and boyhood, you’ll be able to all but taste, smell, and feel this vanished world.” 
 —Kevin Baker, author of the novels Dreamland, Paradise Alley, and Strivers Row

“Tommy Pryor’s New York boyhood…was the mid-century coming of age of all of us. A rousing read.” 
—Robert Lipsyte, author and former city and sports columnist, The New York Times

“Pryor could take a felt hat and make it funny.” 
—Barbara Turner-Vesselago, author of Writing Without A Parachute: The Art of Freefall

“Pryor burrows into the terrain of his childhood with a longing and obsessiveness so powerful it feels like you are reading a memoir about his first great love.” 
—Thomas Beller, author of J.D. Salinger: The Escape Artist

“I wasn’t alive for the New York Thomas Pryor writes about, but thanks to his brilliant, honest, and hilarious book, I feel like I was there.” 
—Dave Hill, comedian and author of Tasteful Nudes

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tales of a Scrappy New York Boyhood ~ On the Radio Tonight @ 6pm & 9pm

I'm rocking twice on the radio tonight.

Tonight @ 6pm on The Healing Artist - Internet Radio Show we're talking about The Pineapple Bowl aka 1973-1974 Yorkville Football Championship at The Asphalt Plant. At 9pm on Mia's World we're talking about the after party at the 80th Street Yorkville Bowling Alley.

Listen in live at 6pm and 9pm on City Wide Radio.

I believe my new book, "I Hate the Dallas Cowboys tales of a scrappy New York boyhood" will come up in the conversations.

Read a good review from on the book here.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Strong Winning Review for the Book From reviewed my book and gave it a strong thumbs up.

A memoir by Thomas R. Pryor; I Hate the Dallas Cowboys - tales of a scrappy New York boyhood

Review by Kareena Maxwell 

In Thomas Pryor’s memoir, “I Hate the Dallas Cowboys tales of a scrappy New York boyhood, (YBK Publishers, NY, ©2014),” the journey is in the details.

“I Hate the Dallas Cowboys…,” is a culmination of Pryor’s early life experiences. He roams as a kid through canyons of family, school, and friends. He hunts; he plays, he has a lot of fun. He remembers floating his boats in the toilet tank above his head, and getting pushed out of his brother’s stroller at six-years-old while his mother, “Swept her leg at me judo-style, trying to knock me off,” toward the hot New York City sidewalk. On New York City stoops he watches his world go by: The sky is the clock and the sidewalks are the society.

The episodes pop up like flashback memories. Often, he sniffs out his past, seemingly with a veil of holding on to family loyalty, or of not wanting to reveal his real feelings. “Hate,” is a resonating word, however we spin around in his memoir with his opposite presentation of love.

We also bounce down tenement stairs – in the gloom of closing the door to his parents arguing as he sprints to the safety of one of his grandmother’s apartments. There was always a place to go where he could eat, sleep, and even shop for his Nan with a specific shopping list…survival skills were par for the course in his childhood.

Holding hands across the family, for a time his grandfather met him after school and as he kept his paw gently nuzzled into the Papa bear’s clasp; Pryor remembers and invites us in to his early life in New York City’s Yorkville district during the early 1950’s to 1972. Behind the curtain in Pop Ryan’s four room railroad apartment into the cool air conditioned room, Pryor still lives. He pees into drinking glasses for fear of upsetting Pop Ryan as to open any part of the sealed off by curtains air conditioned room to go to the bathroom, he thought, would be the worst thing he could do.

We are excited with him, and run down the hallway stairs into the June 21st 1964 date of freedom when forth grade officially ended and his summer life began. He ran from stick ball games to the local grocer like a boy should. Amid the somewhat discordant family life Pryor always felt wanted at either of the other two homes that were available to him as he navigated the Yorkville streets, like a soaring rocket.

He writes about baseball and girls and his first grade teacher, Sister Beatrice. The comfort and excitement is relatable; the transference of the love of his mother to the nurturing nun, as he cradles against her scent, while she ties his shoelaces, is a well described moment. In fact, when he writes about love and sex the scenes are especially alive. Nice.

As his bond grows with his father with the New York sports games that include the New York Yankees and NY Giants as a vehicle, we can feel the catcher’s mitt in our hands. His life skills of managing what he wants are developed at an early age as he knows he should ask his father to take him to the Yankee game in between his father’s 3rd and 4th beers: And it works.

In the game of life in “I Hate the Dallas Cowboys…” Pryor catches the dynamics of a family during the fifties and sixties in the Yorkville section of New York City with a football helmet, and a shrewd brain to steer a family. He has messages of endearment from grandparents Pop Ryan and Nan that make it clear that it was a combination of protection and no protection; freedom and constraints in a “do as I say,” family.

In the collective profiles of his life… we connect; we remember our own lives as we did similar things but probably not in Yorkville, New York City. Pryor throws a pass and we can easily get it. He invites us up the stairs to the ritual of a jumping washing machine, (that he giddy-ups on), and tuna sandwiches that should be mashed and cut to perfection; and the Eskimo room where Pop Ryan escapes the New York City summers.

We are voyeurs into his life. This memoir is written like an open window with a curtain that blows from an occasional summer wind and we peek in; we want more. Pryor’s book is about the love that abounds from his father and mother to the stoop where he transitioned from a day’s end with Pop Ryan. Running from family to family in the blocks where his Irish and Italian relatives served a healthy family experience, and an oasis where he could restore himself without an invitation. The family conflicts are there: Dad drank too much, mom threw important toys into the garbage, and his Nan barely heard him when he told her that he was developing a friendship with Sparky Lyle.

During America’s post WW ll period in New York City his father put their TV on the roof of their building and he read comics with his brother, Rory. At times the reader may feel like they are on sitting on the back of Pryor’s hover board as he soars around the Yorkville New York City life during this time period. Especially poignant was the time when he was jumping over the snow with his father’s suit from the dry cleaners, only to discover that the pants were missing when he got home. His concern was blown down York Avenue when his father told him that he had a second pair.

His struggle to raise $37 for a used portable record player and his entrepreneurial spirit heightened as he sold every religious item he could at his Catholic school for a percentage of the profits, at times touting healing properties from the saints to the troubled buyer. He fell short of the cash needed and his mother sacrificed meat out of the evening meal and gave the $8.00 to him so he could buy the coveted equipment.

The unkind act of his toys and models ending up in the trash, because his mother saw the treasures as dust collectors, is haunting. A pivotal moment in his relationship with her was when he had a cane from his deceased grandfather and his mother wanted to throw it out in exchange for a photograph of the grandfather to keep in the young Pryor’s wallet, is moving when she lends her understanding.

Pryor still lives in Yorkville and much to our delight has taken time to step into his early years. He places a camcorder on our foreheads, presses play and we can’t stop watching. One of the questions is will there be a "I Hate the Dallas Cowboys tales of a scrappy adult? If there is, I will be watching and probably pressing rewind…often.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

It's Autumn in New York ~ Stoops to Nuts 11.11.14

It's autumn in New York and yesterday's  "City Stories: Stoops to Nuts Storytelling Show ~ Couples Night" was a blast. Thank you, Natasha Gural-Maiello, Michael Gural-Maiello, Ellen Mandel and Michael Lydon for lighting up the Cafe with stories and songs. Thank you, to a fine audience who stayed with us all the way, and thank you, Cornelia Street Cafe. Paul Jones and Josh, thank you for keeping the customers satisfied with your stellar professional service. Our next "Stoops to Nuts" show is Tuesday, December 9th @ 6pm.

My new book, "I Hate the Dallas Cowboys tales of a scrappy New York boyhood," is on sale at Amazon @ $16.95. If you enjoy my writing and photography work I promise you'll enjoy my memoir, best wishes, Tommy.

The photos on this page are from last night's show, Central Park, the East River and the 1961 Macy's Thanksgiving Parade. 

Here is a link to a photograph album at Facebook.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Coming Home, Visiting Professor Wade & Cornelia Street Soiree

With Adam at radio show 2010
It's tonight!

Telling a good one at Professor Wade's classroom. Come down to the Easy Village for a great show and super duper bang for buck ($5 smackers)

"The Adam Wade from New Hampshire Show" *
Monday, November 10 @ 7pm
Under St Marks Theatre
94 St Marks

*New York Times Pick*
*Time Out New York Critic's Pick*

Cornelia St Cafe
Tomorrow, "City Stories: Stoops to Nuts" storytelling show, Tuesday, November 11th @ 6pm Cornelia Street Cafe. It's couples night with our smashing artists: Michael Lydon, Ellen Mandel, Natasha Gural-Maiello & Michael Gural-Maiello. $ 8 bucks gets you a front row seat and a free drink. I'm telling a 1961 goody from my new book, "I Hate the Dallas Cowboys: tales of a scrappy New York boyhood." The book has 29 five star reviews out of 29 on Amazon. Please keep your honest words coming after you read my memoir.

with Rachelle Bijou & Harris Healy 
This past Friday at "Tommy's Coming Home!" to Logos Book Store Local Artists Event, I looked out Logos Book Store's window at 1575 York Avenue. Across the way I saw the Pryors' front room windows. My family moved to 1582 York Avenue in 1932. For 56 years, They lived there, laughed there, fought there, made up, and died there. Reading from my book "I Hate the Dallas Cowboys" at a wonderful Art & Literature event in a bookshop across the street from my family's home raised the spirits of many of my York Avenue ghosts: Joes' Candy Store, Mayo's Butchers, Old Timer's Tavern, Parker's Grocery, Spotless Cleaners, Lee's Laundry, Mickey Mouse Barbershop, Turf Cheesecake & Reliable Meats.

Thank you, Harris Healy, for allowing me to present my work along with Paul Morin and Rachelle Bijou on my Yorkville block.


Here's one of the 29 five star Amazon reviews for "I Hate the Dallas Cowboys."

5.0 out of 5 stars Fasten Your Seat BeltsNovember 4, 2014
JC (Brooklyn, NY) - See all my reviews
This review is from: I Hate the Dallas Cowboys: Tales of a Scrappy New York Boyhood (Paperback)
Hop into the jump seat of a Checker cab and get ready to rock and roll. This is simply a wonderful and entertaining telling of a city boy's early years, bouncing us along for the ride as we view the world from a Yorkville, Manhattan tenement and its surrounding stoops and nuts.

These stories are imbued with the influences of music and games and junk food and barkeeps and store-owners that define our lives. Where I grew up, two degrees of separation and a few subway stops to the north, a song of the neighborhood at the time described a bright red rose that was, against the odds, ".. growing in the street, right up through the concrete, but soft and sweet and dreamin'." In the vivid memories of "I Hate the Dallas Cowboys" we learn how Tommy similarly roots and grows. And we are the richer because along the way he found his voice and has shared this journey with us.

It is an effortless read, written from the perspective of a child with a strong eye for detail and time and place . My one quibble is with the title, because this is not a story about hate but about love: love of family, love of life, the unconditional love of each new day and adventure as an effervescent merry prankster of a boy careens his way through adolescence.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

"Tommy's Coming Home!"

Thomas Pryor is coming home to York Avenue tomorrow to read from "I Hate the Dallas Cowboys tales of a scrappy New York boyhood," #1 New Release on Amazon in its category.

28 five star reviews out of 28 Amazon reviews. Pryor regularly commits social suicide so he has very few friends.

Tomorrow, Friday, November 7th @ 6:30pm Thomas is part of a Local Artists event at Logos Book Store and he's happy to be back on York Avenue yapping again - the avenue of his family back to 1896 (1403 Avenue A was their first stop). Thomas will sign books after the reading. The show's free, there will be refreshments, hope you can make it. If you cannot get there tomorrow, you can buy the book at the Amazon link below.

A flashback: Eighth grade towards the end of the year at Saint Stephen of Hungary School, Sister Mercedes put her hand firmly on Thomas's shoulder and said, "You're the smartest idiot I've ever taught." 

He was so proud! 

Read about Sister Mercedes in this historic book.

Monday, November 3, 2014

"I'm Starting To Show!"

I'm having a baby here! "I Hate the Dallas Cowboys - tales of a scrappy New York boyhood" has 23 five star reviews on Amazon. Thank you, for your generous feedback.

For my friends and acquaintances who own the book by mail or through my hands, please leave a few honest words about it at Amazon under reviews. It's important to me. And if you've done so already, thank you.
Here are (3) links to read, hear or watch video about the book:

The Goddamn Dave Hill radio show from 10.28.14. I come in at 1:21 but I recommend you listen from the start if you have the time - Dave's nuts and hilarious. (Thank you, Jaime Nelson, for making this happen)

Our Town newspaper piece and a video of my Barnes & Noble event.

Fun stuff coming up:

Friday, Nov. 7th @ 630pm, Reading & Art Show @ Logos Bookstore at 1575 York Avenue.

Monday, November 10th @ 7pm The Adam Wade Show

Tuesday, Nov 11th "City Stories Stoops to Nuts" @ Cornelia Street Cafe

New book reviews:

The Jean Shepherd of Yorkville has a book - you should get! - Adam Wade
I've been a HUGE fan of Thomas Pryor's stories for a long time. It's so great to read so many of them in this fantastic book. Pryor pours his heart and soul into each and everyone of them. Some gut wrenching, others laugh out loud funny. And you don't have to be a NY Giants fan or a Cowboys hater to enjoy this book (though that will help). You just have to have a heart and love fun, authentic stories. Buy this book, I promise you'll enjoy it!

Dave Hill "The Goddamn Dave Hill Show" ~ WFMU radio
I wasn't alive for the New York Thomas Pryor writes about, but thanks to his brilliant, honest, and hilarious book, I feel like I was there."

Great writers are supposed to transport you to their world - Nicole Ferraro
Thomas Pryor is one of those unique writers who can grab your heart and make you laugh and cry in a single sentence. The portrait he paints of growing up in New York City -- in Yorkville, specifically -- in the 60s is so vivid that you'll feel yourself there with him in every single scene, and every single memory. Great writers are supposed to transport you to their world, and Thomas Pryor does this exceptionally well. You'll walk away from this book feeling like you know intimately every butcher and bartender in town, every Sister at St. Stephens, and certainly every member of Thomas's family. Even more than that, though, this is a book about being a kid, growing up, loving people and losing them, losing people and loving them even more, and finding one's way. Basically, it's a book for anyone who's ever experienced the sheer pleasure and pain of being alive and growing up. Buy it today. It will leave you feeling enriched, touched, entertained, and eager to turn to page one all over again.

Wonderful Storytelling with a Time Machine Effect! - Leslie Gosko
Heart-warming, hilarious, and wonderfully quirky, "I Hate the Dallas Cowboys" has something for everyone. Thomas Pryor does a fantastic job of transporting you to 1960's New York where you feel like one of the characters in his Yorkville neighborhood. Stylistically reminiscent of Jean Shepherd's "A Christmas Story," this book, too, becomes an instant classic!

David Terhune - The Losers Lounge
After reading "I Hate The Dallas Cowboys", I felt as if I had grown up with author Thomas Pryor. His stories of a childhood in New York City, punctuated by family photographs, drew me into his world and took me on a personal tour of the streets and neighborhoods of his youth. Living there were a host of vivid and eccentric characters - his parents, brother Rory, grandmother Nan, Joe from the candy store, Sister Mercedes, stewardesses Marie and Justine, and his many friends and co-conspirators with whom he shared his adventures and dreams. Mr. Pryor’s humor is gentle and infectious, his memories animated and engrossing. These essays are both historically valuable as well as entertaining in a way that befits the unique voice of New York City.

Jerry Salama - gave me my first copy of Strunk & White four hundred years ago
The writing is beautiful. It is crisp, sharp and moving. I laughed out loud and cried. This author has really found his voice as a wonderful storyteller. It is incredibly hard to pour out stories and emotions in a thoughtful and consistent way but this book achieves it. I highly recommend it.