I don't know, maybe it's that time of the year. The leaves are just starting to turn to various colors, there was a slight nip in the morning air the other day, and a young man's thought's turn to love...Oh, wait, that's spring. Besides, I'm middle aged. The only thoughts that are turning in my head about this time of year are how I am going to afford a new snow blower for the coming winter.
But I digress.
Love songs. they come in all types, from the sappy, to the profound, to the downright silly. Now, I suppose this is going to take the flavor of a small meme, but I thought I would list those loves songs that still get to me. Here's the catch: They're not usually the ones that you find played on everyday radio. They're the ones that were on the albums that you discovered on your own; little gems that just struck you right where you live. Now, "Unchained Melody" is a fine love song, I daresay a magnificent one. However, the ones that I love best are those that drive deeper. So, here is my list of the love songs that just blow me away:
1. "It Makes No Difference." - The Band - 40 years on, this song still never fails to disappoint. Rick Danko's plaintive wail, and the pain in his voice tear at your soul. Robbie Robertson wrote the words, but Danko's voice and Garth Hudson's searing sax just burn through me every time:
"It makes no diff'rence how far I go Like a scar the hurt will always show It makes no diff'rence who I meet They're just a face in the crowd On a dead-end street And the sun don't shine anymore And the rains fall down on my door" 2. "Sweet Fire Of Love."- Robbie Robertson- The Band's main songwriter penned this beautiful, erotic piece of work from his 1986 solo album. He recorded it with U2, when they were still hungry. His duet with Bono is just an incredible testament to unbridled passion:
"Didn't we break the silence Didn't we fear the storm Didn't we move the earth Didn't we shoot for the sky And didn't we catch the fire And didn't we call upon the spirits And didn't we fall together And didn't we die for love
Days on the run, Nights in hiding Hoping that you were, The healing inside me
Breathe in the sweet fire of love"
3. A Little Is Enough - Pete Townshend - England's answer to Bob Dylan, IMHO. Townshend can be direct, pretentious, but never boring; and that's just his opinion. (It's mine too.) He is probably my favorite songwriter, and this one off of "Empty Glass" just cuts through all the bullshit of most love songs and tells it like it is. If you've ever been in a long distance relationship, or one that doesn't allow you to be with the person you really want in your life, this will just cut right through you:
"I'm a connoisseur of champagne cognac The perfume nearly beats the taste I eat an oyster and I feel the contact But more than one would be a waste Some people want an endless line that's true But all I have's a little time with you A smile sets me reeling A kiss feels like stealing Your love is like heroin The addict is mellowing I can't pretend that I'm tough Just a little is enough"
4. "Blood of Eden." - Peter Gabriel - What can I say about this song? Gabriel wrote it at the time of his divorce. Pain and confusion, mixed with a longing for what once was hits hard. It did with me:
"My grip is surely slipping I think I've lost my hold Yes, I think I've lost my hold I cannot get insurance anymore They don't take credit, only gold Is that a dagger or a crucifix I see You hold so tightly in your hand And all the while the distance grows between you and me I do not understand
In the blood of Eden Lie the woman and the man With the man in the woman And the woman in the man."
5. "One" - U2 - I hesitated adding this to the list, as it had tremendous airplay, and just about everyone on the planet knows this song. That said, it is still a magnificent piece of work. While not originally written as a love song, per se, the lyrics, open to interpretation, can certainly go in that direction:
"Have you come here for forgiveness, Have you come to raise the dead Have you come here to play Jesus to the lepers in your head Did I ask too much, more than a lot You gave me nothing, now it's all I got. We're one, but we're not the same. Well, we hurt each other, then we do it again. You say love is a temple, love a higher law Love is a temple, love the higher law. You ask me to enter, but then you make me crawl And I can't be holding on to what you got, when all you got is hurt."
So. What songs do it for you? List 'em on your blog, or just tell me about them.
I can feel my heart pounding as I make my way underneath the portico of my former building towards the front entrance. More memories come flooding back. The day I moved in; October 19, 1970. We were one of the first families to occupy the building, as they started having the top floor, the 33rd, move in first. We came in a week or so after, living on the 29th floor. I still remember the moving truck, Vermont Movers and Storage, a silver truck with red lettering. (We weren't moving from Vermont, so how they got that name is beyond me. Go figure.) Amazing how I can remember that after all these years and not remember what I had for lunch yesterday, or if I even had lunch. I remember the chaos in the main lobby, with different movers coming and going. The walls of the lobby were unfinished, still exposing their stone finish, and all over them the movers had written the names of families and their apartment numbers that were being moved in that day.
The main entrance to the lobby is locked by a magnetic security system, so I wonder how I am going to get in. As luck would prevail, there is a person coming out of the building, and they hold the door open for me. I don't recognize her. She is older, but not someone I even remotely remember from my days when I lived there. The lobby seems frozen in time to a degree, as it really hasn't changed. The faux wood paneling is still the same, the banks of mailboxes, and the four elevators that, like the NYC subway, have express and local service. I grab one of the express elevators that run directly from the lobby to the 18th floor, and then locally to every floor up to 33. I am alone in it, and press the button marked "29." Another deep breath as the door closes, a smooth movement upwards, and I am speeding towards the source of my anxiety. This is a new elevator, the old one finally replaced only about 4 years prior.
The computer announces my floor as the elevator car eases its upwards flight. It stops, the door opens, and I step out into the familiar; or the not so familiar. Was the hallway always this narrow? Maybe it was, but for some reason, it always seemed wider in my memory.
So I now have a choice: Move on, or get back into the elevator. Luke Skywalker faced his fears in the cave with the image of Darth Vader before him. I could use a lightsaber about now, but I'm sure Yoda would admonish me. I want to try to do this, to face it. Then again, Yoda's words are ringing in my ears; "Do. Or do not. There is no try."
I do. (Yeah, and I remember what happened the last time I said that!)
I make the left turn towards apartment 29B. I'm trying to remember the neighbors names. The Willams's, the Adelberg's, the Albert's (No, that's not right. The Albert's lived on 12.) The Bloom's. (My mom's best friend and mah jong partner was Mrs. Bloom.) The others, I just can't seem to recall. Suddenly, there it is: I start laughing inside my head, really loudly. I can't believe what I am seeing in front of the door. A shopping cart! A folding, shopping cart, the kind that I would use as a kid when I would go shopping for my mom, or what she would use when she went shopping. They are as much a part of NYC as yellow cabs, and I have never seen one here in Rochester, ever. Now, when I was growing up, they were always silver, and didn't have front wheels, so this was a much sleeker version of the ones I used. Boy, if you wanted to plan to bring back some really great memories, you couldn't have picked a better device. Of course, we kids would use them to race around the hallways as well, much to mom's consternation.
I was tempted to ring the bell on the door, introduce myself, and ask to come in to see the old place, but common sense got the better of me. It probably would have been inappropriate anyway. I got a little closer, just touched the door, and turned around.
As I made my way back, I saw this on the wall near the stairwell: It took me a second to realize what that plate was covering. That was the old fire alarm pull box that each floor had, and was a source of aggravation to the local fire station, as false alarms were plentiful way back then. You see, as a right of adolescent passage, you were goaded on by your friends to pull the fire alarm, then run away. this had the effect of having these very loud clanging bells going off in the hallway, with all the residents of said floor coming out of their apartments to see if there really was a fire. (Which did happen from time-to-time.) Once you performed this act of anti-social behavior, you were accepted into the fold as "one of the gang." God help you if your parents caught you.
I made my way back to the elevator, and decided that maybe my blog friends would like a picture of me on this grand adventure into the past. Nyah, nyah...A little game of hide and seek.
While standing there, I am flooded with emotion, almost breaking down. My last memories of here were of moving my mom out, and as I mentioned before, of my father's death. I think though, that this was a catharsis of sorts. and as I called for the elevator, I left feeling better that I did come and let these bitter memories go.
I went back downstairs, exited the front of the building, and looking to my left, spotted the small rise on the side of the building that led to the main thoroughfare that looped all around the development. the hill was once populated by tall poplar trees that were beautiful to look at, but in the spring set my allergies off the chart. Fortunately, It would only last a week, and at that time, they were the only seasonal allergies I would get. Also set into this small hill are the graves of two parakeets, two hamsters, and a guinea pig. Of course, they had to be buried at night, as the private security officers took a dim view of grave diggers. Hey, it's not like we're the Mafia, you know!
I took off back towards my mom's building, and along the way, found a sign of hope.
One interesting thing about going home is that it affords me a sense of perspective. The lens that we use to view the places where we grew up becomes altered as we become adults. I suspect that we tend to become more jaded with time. I know that this has happened to me. I'm sure of it. Change is an inexorable part of progress, and either you accept that and move on, or you wallow in the past. Still, I am always taken aback by what is an apparent contradiction in what I see when I arrive home, what I expect, and what the reality of life in Co-op City, the Bronx, and NYC in general is these days.
I had a pretty restful night's sleep on the air mattress on my mom's living room floor the day I arrived. She only has one bedroom, and the couch is not an option. While it is not all that uncomfortable from a padding perspective, it simply isn't long enough to accommodate my 6'2" frame, and sleeping in a perpetual fetal position for 3 nights was not something I wanted to do. Since mom is a diabetic like me, she had a variety of foods that I could have for breakfast that would not cause my blood sugar too many problems. Screw that, I'm on vacation. I jabbed myself with some extra insulin prior to eating, and wolfed down the bagel and lox like it was manna from heaven.
The blood sugar didn't budge. I learned some time ago that control is the key. Pre-medicate with insulin from time-to-time, and you can cheat a little bit.
As I was not going to be getting together with my brother and niece until the afternoon, I decided to take a walk in the morning around some old haunts. I specifically had been avoiding it in the past. I simply did not want to relive certain memories. Then again, there were certain things I never came completely to terms with either. As Bina recently blogged about, bullying was a huge issue for me growing up. Oh I wasn't the bully; I was the bullied. While I eventually learned to stand up for myself and not put up with it, there was a lot of bruising along the way, both physically and mentally. Seeing some of the old haunts, while it flooded me with a lot of good memories, were peppered with bad ones that I would just as soon have erased. My "Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind" was not to be, so I simply needed to deal with it on my own terms.
"I was stunned and amazed/My childhood memories..." Mom no longer lives in the building I grew up in. She moved out in 1990 to another building in the complex, a smaller apartment. After dad died in 1988, it made no sense for her to live in the 3-bedroom apartment we had since 1970, especially since my brother and I were out on our own at that point. In all that time, I think I had gone back to that building maybe once. It was too painful. The last memories of that place were filled with sadness and loss. There was also no one there anymore that I knew. Still for some reason this time, I felt myself drawn there. I think I finally decided this was my Linda Blair moment. The sun was shining bright, it was warm outside.
It was an excellent day for an exorcism.
I made my way from her building towards mine, first coming to the shopping center that serviced my area of the complex. (There are 3 that were built to provide shopping and other stores, as this place is huge.) The first couple of things I came across made me smile.
Is there anything more NYC than a pizza shop and a diner? They are the ubiquitous hangouts for everything that makes a neighborhood a neighborhood. You had Sunday morning breakfasts there, or simply breakfast anytime if the diner was a 24 hour one. You took your date for pizza after the movie, and you showed what a gentleman you were by paying for that extra slice if she wanted one. The pizza was always the best. Thin crust that cracked down the bottom when you folded it. If you were in the mood, you had the Sicilian-style slice; big, square, and doughy. The diner always made home fries the right way, with the right amount of paprika and onions, and the potatoes always had just the right amount of crispness. These were staple foods that were an art form, and demanded that they be done the right way every time.
When I started working on my volunteer ambulance corps in 1976, the diner was the place to go to after the calls that were the toughest. A cup of coffee with your crew, discuss what happened on the call in between bites of bagel with a schmeer of cream cheese was the best decompression session one could have. The only thing that was more stressful was dividing up the bill at the end of the meal. Leaving those two places behind, I walked on, past the old ambulance corps headquarters in another building, (they folded about 9-10 years ago) and came to one of my sacred hangouts.
You could find me here on just about any summer's day, and some winter's days as well. The basketball court was the city kid's equivalent of the Roman Coliseum. Battles were waged there for neighborhood dominance. Kids would come from various other neighborhoods in our complex to challenge us, to lay claim to being the best b-ball players in Co-op City. On weekends after school in the spring, it was not unusual for these games to start at nine in the morning, break for lunch and dinner, and go on into the night. They were played with a passion, and everyone there wanted to be a NY Knick. Our heroes had names like Dave DeBusschure, Willis Reed, Walt "Clyde" Frazier, and Bill Bradley. Before Air Jordan, before Shaq, when the game was played more like a team sport than an ego contest, these were our heroes.
The structure next to the court is one of the now renovated parking garages. Long before rock climbing walls, we had these. While it might be hard to see in this picture, the bottom level of the garage had cinder block walls, and the challenge for every kid was to see who was brave enough (or stupid enough) to scale all 6 floors in a free climb. I made it as far as the second floor, and then common sense, but mostly fear told me not to go any further. The renovation removed the cinder blocks from all but the bottom level, so I don't know if kids today have the guts to try what we did.
While reminiscing, I suddenly remembered that the big field that was just adjacent to the courts used to have an enormous willow tree that I would hang out under. My "thinking tree," as I called it, it was the place of calm for me. If I was upset I would sit underneath it while I calmed down. It was also the place, in the dead of night in the summer of 76, that I was first introduced to the joys that a girl could give to a guy. She showed me that mouths were good for other things besides kissing. You do the math.
Sadly, the tree was cut down many years ago, after I had moved out. I wondered if perhaps there was something, a remnant of it that might still be there. I looked around in the area that I seemed to remember where it was, and there below my feet, I found it: If you look very carefully, you can see the round outline of where the stump was pulled out of the ground. While saddened a little, the memories of the good times spent underneath its blanket of branches made me smile.
I then turned my attention to my old building, that was just across the street from both of these places. I walked up to the rear entrance of the building, and found the marker amongst the scaffolding that surrounded the bottom of it: I also glanced around and found the thing that kept groups of kids warm on cold winter nights. What is it, you may ask? Was it the opening to a hidden missile silo? A wishing well? Nope. It is the heater vents from the dryers located in the laundry room of the basement of the building. There were several of these, each with a heavy metal grating bolted just under the rim of them It was not unusual to see groups of kids sitting on top of them in the dead of winter, getting some needed warmth that would shoot up through them.
After snapping this picture, I took a deep breath, and moved on to the main entrance of the building. Once more unto the breach...
It always takes a bit of mental preparation to make this trip. There is this transition that needs to be made that the road affords the time to make. Flying is more brash. One minute I'm in my familiar element, then an hour later, BOOM! I'm slammed down into a maelstrom of humanity, all hell bent on getting to where they need to be faster than me. Driving allows me to adjust, to cope, and to be put into the right frame of mind.
Who thought that the simple act of going home would ever be so complex?
I hit the road on I-390 south towards Corning at 9:30 in the AM, stopping first by Tim Horton's to pick up a bite to eat and a large coffee. (Tim Horton's is a Canadian doughnut/sandwich outlet, like Dunkin', only better, imho.) Large coffee is needed for this first part of the journey. I always marvel at the beauty of this part of the state. No large mountains, like in the Adirondacks, but the rolling hills and farmland are quite stunning.
Suddenly, off to my left about 1/4 to 1/2 of the way to Corning, this comes over the horizon, and I am struck by how it stands out from the tranquility that surrounds it: A wind farm! I heard about this on the news, but didn't realize how close to the highway it was. I am not sure what to think about this. it is great that there is an alternate energy source being built there, but, there is also something disturbing about having these man-made monstrosities defiling what I view as a very beautiful landscape. Is this trade-off worth it? I suppose when they come on-line, which they are not currently, we'll find out.
Transitioning onto I-86 (NY 17), I breezed through Corning, home of the Corning Museum of Glass, a requisite trip for anyone within a hundred miles of it. Binghamton is my goal, where I can gas up, get some more coffee and continue on. I make it there about noon, and call my friend Sherri, who I grew up with. She lives in Pine Bush, about 90 min. further east in the Catskills. We're going to meet for lunch, and she is a prospective topic for an article, as she is a three-time thyroid cancer survivor. We meet at a nearby diner, with her 11 year-old daughter in tow. She is okay about talking in front of her about her experience, and we also catch up on things, and the doings of some mutual friends. She is quite the fighter. She is also damned lucky, as the type of thyroid cancer she had was the treatable variety.
With my car fueled up and now my body, I start the final leg home. I'm tuning the radio to the two all news, AM stations for NYC and the region. Old habit. Traffic is an all consuming passion with New Yorkers, and with good reason, as it sucks most days. So far, so good, as there are no reports of anything that is in my path. Of course, that could all change in a NY minute.
I make it down to my mother's at about 5 PM, and then starts the great parking spot hunt. Remember the one "Seinfeld" episode dedicated to discussion of parking? Well, that is about as accurate as it gets. Parking in NYC is an art form, a game, and a battle to the death all at once. after about 15 minutes of circling the block in a game of musical cars, I get lucky, and dive into a spot that another person was eying. You snooze, you lose buddy. Better luck next time. It is a little bit of a walk to the building, but it is mine all mine. I drag my suitcase and laptop into the elevator to the 24th floor, and knock on my mom's apartment door. I am greeted with a loving smile, and a typical NYC salutation:
Washing, packing, re-packing, charging phone, charging PDA, charging laptop, charging my credit card for my oil change and serpentine belt, checking the weather here, checking the weather on the way, checking the weather there, checking my checkbook (BREATHE!)
Ok, I think I am almost together. Going home to see the family for a short, but much needed respite, and soak in the kind of energy that only NYC can provide. I'll have the laptop with me, but I don't know how much in the way of posting I'll be able to do. Mom doesn't have a computer, and I'm not sure if my brother has a wireless router, so I will be forced to scour my old neighborhood in search of a WiFi signal that I can pilfer from somewhere. Of course, I could just go into Manhattan, where there are hotspots just about everywhere you walk these days.
I will have the camera to take as many pictures as I can because, if I don't post any NYC photos, I shall feel the sting of Claudia's lash. (Wear the boots baby, please... ;-) )
While this will be a short visit, only until Tuesday, it will be nice to see the family, especially my little niece, (well, not so little these days) who was born 36 hours before my transplant. ("Mr. Nighttime's Good Luck Charm.")
So at 9 am tomorrow, it is on the road again for the 6 1/2 hour journey to the land of my birth, real pizza, bagels that matter, and where people speak my language. ("Cawfee, light no sugar!) Oh, and now that I think of it, I might just need to get to Katz's Deli on Delancey Street for a decent kosher corned beef sandwich.
Oh, and if anyone wonders, below is where I grew up: It's massive, and there are times it reminds me of Soviet-style housing, but hey, it's home.
While I have my favorite coffee hangout, I do like to mix things up. There is another coffee shop in downtown Rochester, in the East End district, that I stopped hanging at for a time. Their internet access was spotty at best, but they seemed to have gotten things straightened out, and for the past week, I have been visiting them. The East End was the first part of downtown to undergo a rejuvenation back in the late 90's, and continues to this day. It is amazing what can do with an old car dealership, and give it new life:
They still retained the Chevrolet signs, but the real name of the place marks the "spot:"
The coffee is not bad, could be better, though the espresso drinks are far superior. They make great sandwiches, (the chicken foccacia is my favorite) and they have live music on weekends. It is a "coffee cathedral" of sorts, as it is a cavernous place:
If you're into people watching, this is the perfect place for it, especially with the large picture window/doors that are open on hot days, and the outside seating. I have many a meeting here in my duties as PR director for my theatre.
Come on down, join me for a spot o'coffee, and some good conversation...
I don't know what it is about this summer, but we have been getting the most violent thunderstorms through here. In the 9 years I've lived here, I have not seen a summer like this. Last night was the latest in a series of them over the past week, and while working, there was a brief flash of my work computer's screen, then it rebooted. (I already shut down my PC when I saw the storms coming.) Of course, I just had to hope that if something hit, that my headset wouldn't be fried to my skull.
I called into my supervisor, told him what happened, and that it will be a few minutes getting back while I checked everything out. Just as I was on the phone with him, the power went totally out in the house. This is actually a rarity here, and I can't even remember the last time we lost power for any length of time.
Grabbing my flashlight, I went through the house and disconnected some electronics, lest things fry when the power comes back. The violence outside continued, and at one point there was a lightning strike really close to the house. I mean like so close, the windows moved in and out. As long as it didn't hit the house, I was happy. (See here.) I went into the basement after about half an hour, checked the sump pump, made sure no water was leeching into the basement, and settled in. We pulled out the candles, (Mrs. N. came home a short while later.) and as we sat around in the dim light, I thought, "So, this is what it was like during the Revolution." ( I had just watched the HBO series "John Adams" about 2 weeks ago.) Trying to read a magazine via candlelight was an interesting experience. We curled up on the couch, she was exhausted, and fell asleep in short order.
I however, was still awake, as I normally work from 9 pm-3 am. I honestly didn't mind the unintended night off, though I will need to make up the hours during the week. (Not hard to do, really.) On the upside, I actually got a good night's sleep, as I crashed around midnight.
Now we had some other storms earlier that day, and though violent, they did leave a present in their wake: I am taking this as a good omen. Hmm...Maybe getting a little break from work last night was the start? Hmm...
As an actor, I can appreciate a good monologue. Just you up on stage or screen. There is a great story that Anthony Hopkins told of when he was a young actor at the Old Vic, understudying and acting alongside the great Sir Laurence Olivier. Olivier told Hopkins that when you are delivering a line, "You're the star of the show." Slightly puzzled, Hopkins asked, "Why?" "Well," replied Olivier, "You're the only one speaking at the time."
When Blade Runner first came out, it was derided by many as all special effects, and no substance. It was only until many years later that critics began to reverse that opinion and see the film for what it is: a flat out masterpiece, not only of sci-fi, but just in general It influenced so many things that came after it.
It also asks the central question; "What does it mean to be human?" Rutger Hauer's monologue near the end of the movie has been generally recognized as one of the most poignant moments ever placed on film. It also wasn't in the script. Hauer improvised the scene in his trailer, showed it to Ridley Scott, who wisely decided that it was better than what was in the script, so he let Hauer run with it. The result is pure magic:
Life, death, morality, ethics, spirituality, meaning, humanism, it is all covered in this movie. This one scene compresses so much of that into a magical moment.
This cut is from the most recent Blade Runner, "The Final Cut" (There are several versions of the movie - long story about that.) In the original theatrical release however, Harrison Ford ("Deckard") has a voice over for this scene, that was one of several in the movie. While many Blade Runner purists like myself don't really care for the voice overs', this one has stayed with me, and is the one I actually enjoy:
Deckard: "I don't know why he saved my life. Maybe in those last moments, he loved life more than he ever had before. Not just his life. Anybody's life. My life. All he wanted was the same answers the rest of us want. Where do I come from? Where am I going? How long have I got? All I could do was sit there and watch him die."
While sitting in my favorite coffee shop today, it started to rain hard outside, and this scene flashed into my head. Whenever I worked rainy summer nights in Brooklyn, it always reminded me of Blade Runner. Whenever I dealt with death, I thought of Roy Batty. (Hauer's character.)
When I dealt with my own death, I was Deckard. I don't know why I was spared, but then again, who does?
The Bronx will always be my hometown, but Rochester is my home. Throughout the 9 years I have been here, I have truly come to enjoy all this place has to offer. We made the decision to live in the suburbs, as I wanted some breathing space, amongst other reasons, but I drive into the city practically every day. Mind you, this takes about 10-15 minutes to get into downtown Rochester, a little longer to get to the neighborhood that I enjoy hanging out in, the Park Ave. area. It reminds me a lot of certain places in Brooklyn, and is an absolutely gorgeous area of the city. If I were to consider becoming a city dweller again, this is where I would want to move. My fav coffee shop is here, and it has some of the most gorgeous homes in the area.
So put your walking shoes on as we take a brief tour...
So here is where we start:
Park and Berkley, my main hangout.
The houses and other buildings in this area are beautiful, and most have a hefty price tag. Renting an apartment in this neck in the woods can be pricey as well, but if you can afford it, it is worth it. Many of the homes go back to the first part of the 20th century.
Like I said, it is one beautiful place to walk around in.
Of course, once your done walking, a nice place to eat and drink always helps: Jine's is one of my favorite places. It is a Rochester institution.
Feeling Mediterranean? Sinbad's is your place...
Abbott's is another Rochester institution, and I have yet to find a better custard anywhere. They even have a shop in Tokyo, if I recall. (Hey Julia, dontcha miss this stuff down in the hinterlands of Jamestown? ;-) )
Still have a sweet tooth? Try stopping by Steever's...
.....and if you feel the need to get a new body orifice, or become a walking piece of art, we can satisfy that urge as well.........
Well, there you are for now. More walking tours to follow.
...as it doesn't take much to make her wet. (Ugh, bad pun, I know, couldn't help it.) I mentioned to her that I will be visiting NYC shortly to see my mom and brother, and I promised her some pictures, as she is a bona fide NYC'ophile. I remembered that I had some pictures from my last trip down, so, below is a small (and I do mean small, as in 4 tables.) Turkish restaurant in Greenwich Village that I have been frequenting since I was 19. I always go there when I go home to visit. They make the best doners on the planet, imho.
Mmmmm........I can taste the lamb and pita, and all the other stuff now. Location? MacDougal and Bleecker, just up the block from The Olive Tree Cafe/Comedy Cellar.
Wow, and wow. The lovely gemmak has given me a blog award. It really spurs me on, and gives me confidence. As I am in the process of trying to become a full-time freelance writer, I decided to blog as a way to get into the habit of writing on a regular basis.
I am ever so grateful, and as she requested, here are my 5 choices for an award:
These first two are the first blogs I ever read, and really helped me gravitate towards this brave new world. I still read them regularly.
1. Petite Anglaise - A francophone ex-pat Brit, living in Paris for over a decade. A newly married cradle robber, with her precocious daughter "Tadpole" by way of her ex-lover, ("Mr. Frog") her prose is lyrical, imaginative, and she is pretty damn gutsy as well. (Not to mention soft on the eyes. ;-) ) After being dooced from the uptight British firm she worked for, she took on the suits and won a monetary award from them for being unlawfully fired. Now a best selling author, she has become something of an international blogging star. C'est magnifique!
2. My Boyfriend Is A Twat - Another ex-pat Brit, this time in Brussels, Zoe chronicles life with the twat she loves best, Andy, a.k.a "Quarsan." (Read the blog to find out the origin of his nom de plume.) She descirbes her family as a cross between "Absolutely Fabulous," "My Family," and "The Osbournes," and that is on good days. Tell her she's gorgeous, how much you love her book, and she will be your friend. Just don't mention sheds, or death awaits ye with nasty, sharp pointy teeth. Her podcasts are a hoot as well.
...and now for the remaining 3:
3. Random Acts Of Reality - Tom Reynolds, an EMT with the London Ambulance Service, presents the good, the bad, and the totally absurd world of emergency medical services. As an ex-paramedic from NYC myself, it is always nice to see that no matter where the lights and sirens are going off, some universal constants remain. Overcrowded ER's. system abusers, drunks, and all manner of patients; Reynolds paints an accurate picture of the daily life of the EMT, and why this job can take its toll.
4. Dragonfly Dreaming - As Bugs Bunny would say, "What a woman!" A woman of uncommon talents, I am consistently awed at her ability to write prose that is akin to taking a turn in the electric chair; it will make your hair stand on end with its uncompromising take on life, sex, her kids, sex, her job, sex...well, you get the picture. ;-) If more people were this open and honest, the world might be a better place. I only wish I had more of her audacious nature.
5. Antwerp Calling - From his home base in Antwerp, Belgium, Peter gives us slices of life in a country suffering from multiple personality disorder. Half French speaking, half Dutch speaking, with a little German speaking region thrown in for good measure, Belgium always appears to be coming apart at the seams. Its chocolate entices us, its beer makes us envious, its architecture is gorgeous, but it is a country that can take things to extremes. From hedonistic gay pride festivals, to consistently rainy weather, to tourist invasions, Peter chronicles it all with humor and sharp insights. Now if we can only get him and his SO over here...
So there you have it. It is a shame I only had to choose 5, as there are others I would love to have mentioned, but that will be next time.