Thursday, February 28, 2008


Too Funny! For 5 months now I have come into work most often before anyone else and left one of the latest. The job was just a heck of a lot and I was getting up to speed and all. I worked hard and the long hours were necessary for me to get it all in.

Now that I am finishing up I can truly feel that it is harder to get out of bed in the morning. I am having a hell of a time. It is as if I have been drugged. Though I still get there before 9am and work past 6, I am not the first there anymore. This has not been lost on my co-worker Jordan who is now the first person there! He is the other one in my area that comes in early. We are usually the only two for a while so he can track my habits as if he were a specialist on a nature program. And I his. He is a great guy with a dry sense of humor and I have enjoyed working with him since I started. He is quiet, but sly!
I left on Monday evening earlier than usual so I could get the train to the Bronx for band practice. Though I worked an 8 hour day, Jordan mock-looked at his wrist and offered a "tsk-tsk." He noted so perfectly that I was checking out. It is TRUE! OH MY GOD it is TRUE! I love this company, and love the product, but I am not on the team and I must go. They have been so great to me and I really have worked with some terrific people. I told myself I had 8 shows a week still to do, but it has been hard to keep my head in it. I guess it has something to do with ownership. As a semi-professional consultant I should know better.

I came in this morning to the office at 8:53am. And the above Post-It was on my door! JORDAAAAAANNN!!! I will miss him.

Redwood City Transinfatuation

7364 Steps

Where we ate and places along the way in the EV.

Why does performance art seem so RETRO? And if so, what is au courant these days? I am not the Mr. Blackwell of what is hip and happening I will confess, yet I am not in a fox hole next to a Walmart either. I applaud people who are out there doing their thing. And I also applaud people who are just out there. And I applaud people who are out there being their thing.

Ron and I went PS 122 in the East Village to see Justin Bond's show called "Lustre: A Midwinter Trans-Fest." Now Justin isn't exactly some unknown up and comer. He is a Tony nominee. That ain't obscure. And he, as Kiki, along with Herb played for years in San Francisco and were just at Carnegie Hall. Not so underground. But I guess this was his/her own thing and s/he was trying it on. It was a gender-f*ck cabaret theatre thing. Here I am in the East Village in this boite with trannies and those who love them and I am wearing a cardigan. A safe blue starched shirt, tan corduroy trousers and a cardigan like I just put down my pipe and put the kids to bed. WHO is the real trannie? I was horrified when I saw myself in the mirror of the multi-gendered bathroom.

I have to say the show was rough, but I really appreciated where it was going to with the idea of sexual fluidity. Not a path I am on, just thought it was interesting. There were the tired drag queens, but the womyn at the piano whom I could not TELL for sure and Justin were great. There was also a tap dancing obese dyke/chick in a tux who took her clothes off, sat in a chair in all her floppy post-breasted cottage cheese glory and then shimmied effortfully into a unitard. Quite moving. Justin sang a song about being in the I Magnin dressing room in San Francisco and how he is able to get his bearings when he is in that dressing room. He only knows where he is in New York and the I Magnin's dressing room in San Francisco. (which, of course, is no longer there.) There was a lyric about Market St. and Church St. and the white trash in Redwood City. Ron and I were the only two who laughed at that. And not because of any white trash connotation with Redwood City. Only the pure randomness of hearing someone sing about Redwood City in New York City. To me that was the most random thing of the evening. Until the guy sitting next to me leaned over and whispered in my ear "I live in Redwood City." He was here on business. I loved that.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Tribeca in the Rain

I was at the Tribeca Grand Hotel tonight for a screening of a doc about a photographer. I had seen the film before and really enjoyed it. I got to chat a bit with the photog at the reception and she was as wonderful as she is in the film. A photog came by and took my picture and I had to say/spell my name into a little recorder knowing this was getting published nowhere. But, hey it is practice. And I remembered Vanessa Williams talking about the 3/4 turn. I met a lot of filmmakers and general documentary/artist types there. As I was chatting, I was thinking of the poached salmon and the lentil salad I just ate washed down by sparkling water from Estonia. I wanted more.

I had another event so I left. The streets in Tribeca (Triangle Below Canal) were wet like they do them in the movies. There were the lofts and the cool restaurants and boutiques that one would expect. It was so great I have to say. I felt like it was my first time there. Lighting is important to me for some reason and the night was perfectly lit and the light was perfectly placed.

I was in a Manhattan Cliche Moment and it felt fine.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Once Upon a Time There Was This Daily Occurance to Be Had

Another Monday in Gotham. Another glorious, That Girl/MTM Monday in New York City.

I walked to work again along the park. The snow is still on the ground and it all looks amazing. The sun reflects off the windows and walls of the Maybe I Will Live There Someday apartment buildings on Central Park West. The tall buildings of 59th Street and below jut up dramatically just beyond the trees as if they are this magnificent destination - waiting. Joggers and dogs and coffee drinkers and little old ladies and bundled kids and statues and regal street lamps and town cars. Just for this incredible morning moment, just now, I live in a fairytale. There may even be a big bad wolf lurking in the park, but New York's finest are patrolling the beat as one would expect. This whole stretch of my day, my life, is from a perfectly illustrated 1950's children's book.

I am not naive. I am not gullible. I know that those tall buildings beyond the park shelter homeless in their doorways and protect the haves upstairs. I know people are stabbed and hit by cars and there is probably a guy with a needle in his arm somewhere on a bench strung out. But for this moment in time on the way to the office I am captivated. I am awakened and mystified and honored and challenged and happy. Every day there is at least one bright shining moment. And it is real too.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

3 Angelenos Abroad on the Holiest Day of the Year

16821 Steps

Brooklyn: Glasgow with better coffee and better pizza.

Lexa, Robin and I met on 79th and Broadway to begin out trek to Brooklyn. The plan was to get to the Village, dine and then take the subway to Park Slope for the day. And the plan worked. We had brunch at Les Deux Gamins on the corner of 4th and 10th then it was off to Brooklyn. If everything is relative, Brooklyn is the Home of trees and open sky. We landed in the Park Slope area and did the walk on 7th Avenue- the High Street of that area.

Robin and Lexa with the Good coffee.

Brooklyn has such a different vibe to Manhattan. It felt to me like I could have been a lot of different places and I was not necessarily in a New York City borough. This is not a negative comment; I loved the buildings and the commercial streets were really pleasant to walk on and window shop. It seems very livable. There is parking and nice restaurants and parks. I thought that if I lived somewhere that was not New York City, I wouldn't mind it looking like this. But I guess right now I want to live in New York City. Even though Brooklyn cares not a fig, I am keeping it in my back pocket. I was only a little disturbed when I heard a mother crossing the street with her kids shout "India, don't cross until I tell you. 'Punzle! 'Punzle!!, you get over here now."

How I long to see Jane run.

Every quaint main drag has to have a Starbucks and Barnes & Noble to take the place of the local bookshop and cafe it choked out of business. The good thing is about this Barnes & Noble is it happens to be where Robin is signing her book. We went there and I bought a copy of Cindy Ella. Robin did a personal book signing for me right in the store. All very, very fun.

The author signs my copy.

But to see the author happen upon a sign in the window with her picture on it announcing her signing, that was priceless. I can only hope one day to know that thrill. How proud I am of Robin!

How GREAT is this moment!

Back to town on the Q Train across the Manhattan Bridge which affords a spectacular, if filthy, subway window view of the Brooklyn Bridge, Lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. All without even trying. I love spectacularness that just happens while you are out buying oven cleaner.

It was sad to wish Lexa farewell back to LA at 59th Street. I will really miss her. As I left my travel companions I headed back to play my pipes in the park. The place where I play was covered in snow and looked like Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening." I had a quick blow and met a Breton guy and his Chinese girlfriend. They invited me to a Fez Nos they are having in April. Always happens. Yawn.

So happy she won Best Actress. Amazing performance.

Then it was back home and down to the Village to watch the Oscars with Sean, John, Pat, and Frank. Excellent Chinese and a Frank-from scratch cake that was so good. Sean did an excellent job with the TIVO controls. and I was pleased with most of the winners. I was thinking this was my first Oscars out of LA, but usually I have been in San Francisco at Oscars time. I would love to say I always leave LA at Oscar time because it is just too crazy, but that is just plain not true.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Practicing the Arts

16245 Steps
207.6 lbs.

Today I planned to change the sheets on my bed. Necessary, somewhere between vital and a tree falling in the woods, but worthy. I got up made coffee and did some writing. Then I remembered I promised myself even after a wacky carbo-binge week (i.e. it took half a lemon pound cake to process that my job was going end.) that I would go to Weight Watchers no matter what. Grrrrr. Off I went

Then I worked on my practice chanter to learn some of the music for the new pipe band I joined. But I wanted to walk through the park and go to MOMA. Rush, rush for leisure! Cram, cram all that loveliness in or it is all crap!

Out the door into the park. Ahhhh. The Choir of Angels (via i-pod) sang in this heavenly place all doused with snow. Branches and heads of statues alike. Glorious. I think Central Park is the go to place for all seasons/reasons. I walked across the park and down 5th Avenue to MOMA. "Being a local with a corporate card that gets me for free" I stroll through a few exhibits and make sure to see the Lucien Freud etchings on more time. Picassos there are great, but I gotta fly. I did see Billy Crudup an his baby there which was odd because I saw the baby's mother, Mary-Louise Parker in a play the night before. So odd/crepy/happensallthetime to think this stranger/semi-voyeur is seeing this woman, then the man who dumped her before that kid in the stroller was born and they have no clue who I am or that I exist. Before I get a 3 name psycho-killer mindset I leave and head west on 55th.

MOMA. Look at stuff. Look at People. People look back. Art too sometimes.

I arrived at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre on 55th and 9th. I felt as if I was going into a forbidden naughty place and circled. I had heard a woman in Weight Watchers that morning talk about a class she took at the Ailey School. "You can do that?" I thought. Then I did the "I am going take a class there. (beat, beat) SOME DAY. " So I decided to push myself and go today. My dad had taken me to City Center in New York when I was 19 to see Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre. It was amazing. And here I am about to take a class at the school. Personally very cool.

I have not taken a dance class in 25 years. Seriously. I took an Intro Horton class. It was in a studio with a mirror, ballet bar and TWO HUGE entire wall windows in the corner of the 6th floor that looked out of over the city. It was amazing. The teacher worked us hard and I did okay for an old guy. Save for the drummer I was the only guy old or young in the room! Duh. We worked on a combination and it was fun. I am going to go back. I am sure I will feel pain tomorrow!

Piping, Painting, Art, Sculpture, Photography, and Dance. All in one day. But no bed change.

Friday, February 22, 2008

A Winter Garden

11300 Steps

It finally snowed the way I asked it to. Here is the view from my front steps:

While others were shoveling, scraping, and probably exfoliating, I put on my headphones, ear muffs, parka, snow shoes and walked to work. I was a mobile cacoon with snow falling heavily all around me. The feeling was of being safe/protected and engaged at the same time. My happiness scale was an 11.

Oh look over there it's the world famous

The apartment-side pavement of Central Park West was salted, but I chose the woolly road less travelled Central Park side. Except for yellow snow left by the dog walkers (dogs themselves actually) it was pristine over there. I was not alone in my enthusiasm for fresh snow. I stopped a kindred spirit, this really happy woman, and we photographed each other in the park.

View from my office in Times Square

After work I met Robin and Lexa at the Theatre Row Diner on 42nd Street. We were having dinner before going to Playwrights Horizons to see Mary-Louise Parker in "Dead Man's Cell Phone." These tickets were so hard to get I, of every angle/scam I know school of operating, could not get them. Lexa came in from LA ( It is SO fantastic to see her beautiful smiling face!) and she got them from her pal who is an editor at The New Yorker. (He came into the diner with the comped tickets. What a nice guy he was. On his way home from a book party in a 5th Avenue New York Penthouse like you would imagine when listening to those radio plays about the Manhattan swells on the wireless.) His wife is a curator at the Museum of Natural History. Robin is a published author starting her book tour and Lexa is a writer for a world-famous catalogue. I asked at dinner "Does anyone in New York just work at Walgreen's?" Apparently not.

Robin, Lexa, and a guy who used to work in the film department at Walgreens

I have never been to Playwrights Horizons before, but I know it is a key place in New York where so many plays and musicals are workshopped. The crowd looked to be made up of at least 50% theatre folk. Every other person looked like a stage actor. I am probably right. I sat next to two friends of the playwright, Sarah Ruhl. I offered them an Altoid. They declined. But politely.

Here is my lifelong issue/frustration with theatre: I go to a play after a full day of work. It is the first time all day I have sat down and been completely quiet. The lights go down. What was initially a wedged-in my seat between two people feeling becomes "cozy." I fall asleep. Immediately. And I am one of those people who goes straight into a dream, an alternate reality that I accept straight away, so I have NO IDEA that I am asleep! I did this throughout classes in high school and college. (Editors at The New Yorker probably never fell asleep in school.) I don't remember any of my dreams from last night's 1st Act, but they might have been something like I am standing on a moor in England with the woman down the hall in my office, whom I created a report for earlier today, SCREAMING at me about the amount of pie I ate. I get this and I feel remorseful. But the wind on the moor is howling and I cannot seem to explain to her that the pie I had to eat or her child was going to die but I could not tell her because the dancing llamas forbade it. Then I come to and Mary-Louise Parker is standing on a table kissing a man who's brother has just died. And I wonder if the friends of the playwright have HEARD me sleeping. And if they think that I am not OF THE THEATRE because only a drowsy HO-DAD would offer Altoids like he was in the local township's barn seeing yet another production of "Bus Stop" starring the woman who actually does work at Walgreens opposite the post man. I try to quiet my mind and pay attention to MLP.

(Here, gentle reader, I make a plug. I know I have a vast YA (Young Adult) readership and published author, Robin Palmer's book is for YOU. Please check it out and buy it. It is called Cindy Ella and you can get it by clicking on the title. She was also commissioned to write an original essay for Powells Books. Check it out. Great prom photo, Robin!)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Barrick O'Bama, A Good Irish Name.

Walked to work this morning. A clear, sunny, cold wonderful winter morning in New York. Loads of meetings at the office today. I will pay for this with loads of backed up work. Went for drinks with co-workers for a bit after work and then headed up the road to practice bagpipe music that I got from my new band. I then pulled up a chair and watched the Obama/Hilary debate on CNN via my computer as I have no TV (shhhhh!). I was struck at how civil it all was. They debated issues not personalities. It was unifying for the party and the questions for the most part were pretty good. I have to say that Obama seemed more confident and seemd to assume the nod. Hilary seemed gracious and concilatory. That is just the way I read it. (She reminded me a lot Shirley Jones as Mrs. Partridge tonight. I mean nothing by that, I just saw a little Shirley in her.) I would love to believe that if either got in some real change would happen, but that remains to be seen. I just hope that some change for the better does happen once Bush is out. He and his regime have been terrible for this country and it breaks my heart. Instead of being tried for murder and war crimes he will get a library!

Maybe all the books will be shelved upsidedown.

Sometimes You Can Be So Bulghar!

I was in Zabar's last night between 7 and 7:30pm. Alone this is not noteworthy, but it is significant when combined with a murder. A murder that happened between 7 and 7:30pm NOT in Zabar's. And this would be meaningless as well unless I was a suspect in this murder. This murder I COULD NOT have committed because I was in Zabar's between 7 and 7:30pm.

Just in case, I have this alibi. And I have someone to corroborate my story. The woman who had #57 at the deli counter. She got a tandoori chicken breast, spinach with garlic, and the artichoke hearts with white beans. I know this because this is EXACTLY what I got. I got it with no knowledge of her order save the breast which I was already gunning for well in advance of our association though I could not prove this part in court as I was #58.

People meet in all sorts of ways and we met because of the Tandoori chicken breast. She was swithering between the breast a l'orange and this more exotic one. I told her the Tandoori was excellent and she would be very pleased. When she heard the rest of my order she turned with a J'accuse! I was stunned that we got the exact same three items as they so don't really go together. I wanted to ask her, being of like mind to myself, if she, being older, had a housedress, cats and stacks of newspapers at home - since this is where I think I am heading. I refrained and we laughed over our cosmic counter connection. Later she came by holding an apple in her hand. That organic temptress!, I mused. She said that these particular apples were excellent and I should really get some. She is my twin so I got one to try. God love her. I wonder where she is this morning after our shared meal and I pray God she flossed.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

"New York. It Shits AND You Pay a Lot of Money for It"

Met a guy at a function tonight who couldn't understand why I would move from LA to New York. He had lived in Santa Monica for four years about 9 years ago. He came back for job and family. He said he wanted to have t-shirts designed that read: "New York. It Shits AND You Pay a Lot of Money for It." It was hard to argue with a native and being so new I am easily dismissed as still in my honeymoon phase. And, this, of course, is very true. But I have talked to many, many longtime residents here and I have never heard any group of people be still in love with their city as much as New Yorkers. Stubborn pride, maybe, but many of them are not natives and do not have that level of ownership. Like for me, San Francisco will always, always be home no matter where I go in the world. And I wouldn't have it any other way. Anymore.

Yes, I am in my honeymoon phase. I have not been tested except for when I was first arrived in town and was dropped off by the cabbie 8 blocks from where my flat was and I had 300 lbs of luggage and a set of bagpipes. Oh and the mice in my apartment who were eating my food and not paying rent. But I have not been through the worst of weather. That will be summer I am sure. And I still have employment and a flat. These are both temporary. So the bowels of this city may just be gurggling for me yet. But the buildings and the parks and the rivers and bridges will all be here and that gives me comfort. Columbus Circle will still invite me to look up. And Broadway will still invite me to look down. And I can spin in Grand Central and caffeinate in the Village and illuminate at St. Pat's and ambulate across the Brooklyn Bridge and stroll up 5th Avenue and ferry for free to Staten Island and pay a buck at the Met for one of the best collections in the world and sit in the park and see the guy with the bird on his head.

Sure is shits and costs a lot of money, but you get what you pay for. If it's what you want to buy.

Pipes, Precipitation and Pottering.

A great day in Gotham. I got up and puttered with coffee, music and light coming through the window. I had no true agenda and it was fantastic. The first order of the day was to get my pipes into shape. I had my first band practice with the Monaghan Pipe Band tonight. I fixed up my pipes and worked on the music on the chanter. It was a staggering 65 degrees out so I decided to go play pipes in the park as I did a while back before it got super cold.

The air outside was humid and the smell reminded me of Scotland. This could only mean rain.

The park is a magical place to me and I love playing there. I have a spot that I usually go to but there was a guy sleeping on a rock with his head resting on a milk crate so I decided to give him his space.

I went down this lane a bit and played there. The sky was getting black. The Heavens opened. There were two women watching me with their umbrellas and wellie boots. As it just bucketed rain I kept playing while they danced in the lane with their umbrellas over their heads. Pure joy for me. They had a dance, I had a tune and we waived goodbye as I packed up and got out of the onslaught.

I took the #1 train tonight to the end of the line in the Bronx. Byrne the P/M picked me up and I went to Something, Something Kelly Something Pub where we practice. Yes, we practice in a bar. Well, the posh banquet hall of a pub, actually. I met a lot of the guys and we had practice. I got some uniform parts and a pipe bag cover that says "Monaghan Pipe Band - New York City." How cool is that?

And St. Pat's season is just around the corner. I will be busy.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Let It Begin With Me.

When a Sunday feels like a Saturday, you are either in good shape or denial. In the case of this day, I am in good shape as tomorrow is a holiday. As it should be. Three day weekends of the minor set (i.e. no BBQ traditions, RV outings or bagpipe competitions) are bones thrown to lazy dogs. They are unexpected freebies meant to be chewed on and enjoyed. Or discarded if you like. And with them you feel no pressure to recreate or marinate.

Today I was volunteering down by Gramercy Park at Washington Irving High School. This beautiful high school building done in the Gothic style was completed in 1913 and has a lovely wooden two-story entry and central stone fireplace. Claudette Colbert went to school here and the exterior was used in "Head of the Class." The school is directly across from the house that Washington Irving supposedly lived in, but that has been in dispute for years thus the unofficial plaque. There is a sushi restaurant in the basement that is not original.

On a break I walked up Irving Place towards Gramercy Park and decided I wanted to live here. There is the pub where O'Henry wrote Gift of the Magi at the front table. The neighborhood and old photos in the pub suggest something really gentile in the midst of insane urban life. Gramercy Park has lovely townhouses and a club where Theodore Roosevelt was a member.

Afterwards whilst sitting in the high school lobby and looking at the grand fireplace and wooden staircase offset by the metal detector machine used for the students funneling in every morning and this sign:

I thought to myself that I am a looker backer not a looker forwarder. I want a time when education was valued, proper manners were expected and extended, and kids didn't shoot each other. I want people to dress nicely and tip their hats. But I also want the internet, modern medicine, civil rights for all and teeth whitener. A bit of a problem.

What has happened in our world where kids just don't see the value of an education, let alone a future? If I didn't fall so short myself, I would want to tell every kid in that school the truth of what they have access to and what they are throwing away. There is a place for Pride: in oneself, one's school and one's appearance. The list could go on. I have to feel a part of, some ownership, some responsibility to feel this pride. Is this what kids lack?

The time I want is now. And as eye-rolling 1970's PSA folk-fervor as it sounds, it begins with me. I must be a part of making it a better place, a cleaner place and a dressier place. I can tuck my shirt in, clean up my entry way and say hello to the neighbors for starters. And a blinding white, sparkly smile is a necessity before I can do any of this...

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Poached Eggs and Turkey Hash

A twofer day to be sure. I got to hang with a friend who was in town and go to a major piping contest all in the one day. How many people would kill for a pal and pipes!

My friend Sam was in town for the Kidscreen conference and we met for breakfast by my flat. I was waiting for him outside the restaurant and there he appeared in all his glory dragging his wheely suitcase. It was such a pleasure to see him. He made me feel like I was homesick and hadn't realized it. I admire him greatly. He is the guy who is forever with the ideas and the angles, but listens to you and your ideas as well. He always has an obsession/passion thing going like golf, tennis, collecting French village ornaments to bring home to his wife. Right now it is yoga. He taught me many things professionally but also about taking photos and truly enjoying life, especially while travelling. He took me to Brasserie Lipp in Paris when we were working there. Fantastique. I love that he loves his kids so much and encourages them to become their own people. He always has photos of them, but not in an annoying way (this time a video news clip of his son Cavan shirtless in the college cheering section with his chest painted for the team that landed on Fox Sports.) He has been a great mentor to me and a friend. Merci, Sam.

We had breakfast at this place by my house on Amsterdam that was excellent. It is now on my roster of local places. Then we took a long walk in the park and talked politics of the day. That's what people do in parks. They stroll, take it in and talk about items of the day. Not to elevate to such levels, but it is like the Seurat painting I was talking about earlier. Okay, I elevated.

This evening my new pipe major Byrne and another band mate Paul picked me up at my flat and we drove to the swanky Newark, New Jersey Airport Holiday Inn for the Metro Cup contest. This is a professional invitational solo piping contest put on by the Eastern United States Pipe Band Association. Some of the best players from Scotland, Canada and Ireland were there. It was great to be able to listen to some of the best. Willie McCallum won the overall and Jack Lee won the Piobaireachd contest. It was good to see Jack. I went up and said hello. He wondered what I was doing all the way across the country. I was especially impressed with Alastair Dunn in the light music. He is going to be a major dude!

So as I see friends, walk in the park, listen to pipes and get home safely to my own bed I have to be grateful no matter what.


Tá Mo Bhríste Trí Thine!

Went to a bagpipe recital in deepest darkest Brooklyn. Not trendy, hip Brooklyn, but end of the line subway and then 6 miles on a bus Brooklyn. I departed the Oz of Manhattan by miles and headed to The Baile Na Gael AOH Hall on Gerritsen Ave. I met Lev on the bus. A Russian on his way to hear pipes for the first time. As I suspected, his bagpiping Chinese Medicine teacher was behind it. Save for Lev, the Hall was filled with central casting Irish faces and beer. Copious amounts of cigarette smoking was confined to the bar area. Not only had I gone out of my urban comfort zone, I had headed back in time. This hall is like so many of these halls around the world: a bit run down, lots of old ticky/tacky memorabilia mixed with flags and beforethedevilknowsyourdead tiles. The white ceiling had a recessed shamrock in it that was painted green and underlit! So incongrious, but quite apt.

I am thinking about joining a Grade II band from the Bronx. I met the P/M there. I asked if anyone knew Byrne O'Sullivan and one lady said, "I'm a Sullivan, but we were too poor to affored the O!" I quite liked that. I met a bunch of the guys from the band and got the music. Quite excited about it.

Gordon Walker from Scotland and Alen Tully from Ireland were featured players. They were both excellent.

As I sat in that room and listened to that playing and looked at all the faces, I knew I was home. These ARE my people. I am them. There is such a strong immigrant part of me that cannot be erased ever. And the pipes will seemingly always frustrate me, but will always feed my soul as well. So many fathers with their sons. My heart ached a little. But it was really, really great. If I ever calm down, I really know who I am.
As if that weren't enough I am going to a solo piping competition in New Jersey tomorrow night!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Cupcake Walk.

11301 Steps

Met Frank for dinner tonight. Went to Burger Heaven before he caught Rufus Wainwright at Radio City. I took my computer-blinded and hunched-over carcass for a much-needed stroll home. So nice to see the lights and walk along Central Park West and look in the grand apartment building windows and make up stories or dream about what it must be like to live there. I love seeing those library bookshelves that go from floor to high ceiling and gorgeous paintings hanging on the walls. Going past the gothic-vibed Dakota Apartment Building and realizing John Lennon was only 40 when he died right there on W. 72nd Street is chilling on a few levels. I also realized his son Sean is opening for Rufus tonight. I guess he may come back there afterwards. I would.

I stopped in at the Buttercup Bakeshop down the street from Mr. & Mrs. Lennon's house and got a red velvet cupcake for myself. 7 Weight Watchers points, but I had lentil soup and a turkey patty on a slice of dry wheat toast with a tomato so I felt okay about it.

Red Velvet. Mmmmm.

I got home to my apartment that I LOVE and made some tea, ate my cupcake and watched a doc about Karl Lagerfeld.

All in all a good day was redeemed and enjoyed.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Wednesday in Studio 54 with Ron

Today was a blur at work in anticiapation of going to Studio 54 with Ron to see the London revival production of "Sunday in the Park with George." I saw the original in 1984 when I LAST lived in New York. I bought an orchestra ticket back then which was a big splurge. Have no idea how much but thinking about $40. Worth every penny to see Mandy Pantinkin and Bernadette Peters originate the roles of George and Dot. I even queued at Sam Goody's afterwards where Steven Sondheim, Mandy and Bernadette signed my record album.

I had never been to Studio 54 before. Heydey or otherwise. Admittedly I have been fascinated with the Liza/Halston era of the place and could feel the ghosts of the 70's there. It is a beautiful place and once again restored to a theatre.

The revival had some excellent technical updates and the cast were mostly good, but I just was not moved or carried over like I was the first time. The second act was better because Mandy did have a little too much anger in his performance about how much an artist has to do to get his work seen. Take a number, "Mandy as George".

Ron and I ate at a diner on the Upper Westside after the show. I had soup and poached eggs with spinach. Isn't that a genius order? I love the diner culture in New York. The people are nice, the places have good grub and they are open at all hours. So much to love.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

SNOW Ahoy!!!

6820 Steps. Hey, it was snowing!

Looking out my window at my wee piece of outdoor wilderness

There is a saying something like "There is no bad weather, just poor clothing choices." I happen to agree with that. It finally really and truly snowed tonight in New York City. I even got up from my desk to go outside in it and frolic as best as a desk jockey can. There were big, vibrant, wonderful flakes and they rested on my nose and tongue and I didn't care who saw me. Which was a lot of people as I am in Times Square. I figure these moments are to be celebrated. Truly.

Me so Happy!
Just thrilled to bits with the snow. When it first began I pressed my nose up against my office window and looked out. Someone said, "He's from California" to excuse my behavior. I didn't care. M.E. Those New York girls know how to pose! I love it!

I dragged my co-worker M.E. out in it. We went out the revolving doors, past the gauntlet of really dedicated smokers and into the elements.
M. E. explains to me that guys salk the pavement.

Tomorrow Kidscreen, the big Children's Television convention, begins in New York. My friend Olivier came in today from Paris for it. He is a bigwig now and I am thrilled for his success. Such a good, good guy. We worked together on a cartoon show many years ago and have remained friends ever since. We have seen each other in Paris, New York previously and Los Angeles. I am happy that we remain friends over all these years as he is one of those up guys who is always great to see. We trundled through the snow to 9th Avenue to a Greek restaurant. The service was slow, but the food was good. If I could only speak French like he speaks English I would move to Paris in a heartbeat.
Olivier just off the plane from France in the elements.
We are both heading uptown.

No disrespect to New York, but part of me secretly hopes I end up in London. And don't tell London, but I really, really want to live in Paris. Of all the places in the world, that is probably my favourite. It is the big city that just knows how to do it right. I appreciate every detail there. The architecure, the food and the people watching and the parks and even the birds. I throw it out there into the etherblogosphere. Who knows? But there is that pesky language barrier. "Barrie-ay?"

But tonight New York is my kinda town. Walking across Broadway to catch my train and looking down the street at the lights of Times Squre with all the snow on the ground just made my heart sing. I am home in so many ways. Home is where I hang my parka?

Monday, February 11, 2008

Brrrrrrrrrr, As In Raymond

10,849 Steps

I walked to work this morning along the park as I love to do and I was all bundled up in my parka, scarf, gloves and parka hood. At work I discovered what I was walking in was 11 degrees F and with wind-chill it is -6 degrees F! Where I come from that is bloody cold. And it was.

I have wanted cold for a while and now I got it and I don't love. I want fluffy, billowy snow with sun and no wind. I want Currier and Ives meets Susie Chaffee, but with cool buildings and a park. I don't want bitter cold that slices right through you. I don't want expedition, eat your best friend to survive weather, I want winter wonderland amusing weather.

Now for the time difference. I loved being able to talk to my friend Alexandra in London and my cousin Fidelma in Dublin this weekend. Both calls were planned in advance. There was no spontaneity involved. As my friend Lisa said, "We liked it better when you were unemployed in the same time zone because we could always get you." Or something like that. And this was left on a message I have not yet returned. I am discovering that she is really right. With the 3 hour time difference and me working full time I find it very hard to return calls. I can do it when I plop into bed because California is just washing the dinner dishes, but often I am pooped. Having great friends whom you don't seem to be able to chat with is a good problem to have in the pantheon of problems, but I really do want to say hello. But now I am too tired. Don't give up on me out there. I am here and I am thinking of you!

I have whined about cold and calls, but not cold calls. Ar, ar.

Tomorrow it is supposed to SNOW! Like 1 inch on the ground snow. So excited. I just hope the wind keeps its cool.

My blogging of late lacks photos and pizzazz. I feel like a blahhhhhger. I need to get my on-line mojo back. I am proud that I have written everyday, but now I gotta get some fun going.

Thanks readers who have stuck with. Why do I hear an echo?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Wool, Cinema, Coffee, Sunday Afternoon.

9184 Steps
There is this group called ImprovEverywhere in New York City that I just LOVE. My friend Charlotte turned me on to them and I was truly set to wear my boxers on the subway with them, but TOTALLY blanked and missed the date. They do some amazing stunts all over the city. One of my faves was when about 100 of them walked into a Best Buy all wearing khakis and blue shirts just like the workers and freaked the whole place out. You can click on their name above and check out a video of this and some of their other stunts. Here is a brill one of them all standing like statues in Grand Central Station. It is theatre on a scale I love. Check this out:

Went with my pal Sean to the Film Forum on the Soho side of Houston to see Sidney Lumet's "Network." Has been one of my top 5 fave films since it came out and even today I marvelled at how eerily NOT out of date it is. It was made in 1975 I believe and what it has to say about network television, America, etc. is scary. How could it know 30 years ago? And it is not even sci-fi! The other thing that is scary is how brilliantly articulate it is compared to most movies today. Plus the director lets scenes play out rather than all the short attention span quick editing there is now. Rent this film if you have never seen it. Great performances by William Holden, Peter Finch, Faye Dunaway, Robert Duvall and Beatrice Straight.

I am still such a New York tourist geek that being at the Film Forum, an art house here in Soho as I mentioned, made me feel like I was in a 1970s Woody Allen film - in a good way. It was amazing to notice how many people in the audieince were reading books or the New York Times in the low lighting in advance of the film beginning. I never saw this in Los Angeles. Never. If I were to make a real turncoat cheap shot I would say books are merely source materials for films in LA.

When we got out of the theatre it was SNOWING! I mean how arthouse, New York, Woody Allen could it get?! I love the snow and not had enough of it here. It was only flurries and not enough to really make an impact, but just added to a great Sunday afternoon.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

A Walk in the Park

15,551 Steps

208.8 lbs./14.9 Stone

15,551 Steps

Today was one of those driech New York days, all drizzly and grey. The kind of day that makes my heart sing and my soul feel nourished. I wouldn't want this all the time, mind you, but sometimes it is just perfection. Today was that for me.

I took a walk in my beloved Central Park. Just a wander for an hour or so. It is like Napa Valley in California to me: one of those places that is beautiful no matter what the weather. I ended up across the park on the Upper East Side. There I wandered into Lascoff's Pharmacy at Lexington and E 82nd, the first licensed pharmacy in New York State. It is very old style and still has many of the original bottles and mixtures on display. There are wooden drawers in the walls and an old leather couch to sit upon. I felt like there was magic in there. And there better be when bars of soap are priced at $11.50. If I ever get insurance I am filling my prescriptions here. I think J.K. Rowling would like it here as well.

The Upper East Side is a whole different beast. There are precious children's clothing boutiques, ladies who get coiffed in fancy salons, and gourmet everything. This is a world where money is no object and people have places in the country. Or in other countries.

I got a coffee at Dean and Deluca on Madison Av3nue. That place always cracks me up. The prices are so crazy. Tangerines are priced by "each" and not by the pound. The cupcakes (again with the cupcakes, why is New York so mad for cupcakes?) are labeled by their various bakeries like wines or cheeses would be by their regions. They are around $5 a cupcake and a donut is around $3. People are paying these prices. They have to be. I got a coffee which was perhaps the most reasonable thing in the place. Maybe they see it as a Dean and Deluca "entry drug" and before you know it your caffeinated self is buying Cornish Game Hens at $20 a piece.

I took my java elixir and meandered back across the park past the Met and the Jackie O Pond to the Upper West Side where everything is of normal expensiveness.
I want to be in the picture. Me at the Jackie O Reservoir

The walk and the rain were free.

Friday, February 8, 2008

You Got to -- Accentuate the Posterior

14,038 Steps Brown Rice. Good. Mmmm.
Magnolia Bakery Banana Pudding. Gooder. Mmmm-er. And Nilla Wafers have fiber?

Wow, what a Friday. I can't write about it, but watch this space. Got out of work and went to dinner in the Village with friends. Exactly what the doctor ordered. My friend Tony came in to Mama Buddha where Sean and Frank and I were eating. He was with friends who know Frank and Sean and it was like the set for a television series where all the characters happen upon each other in the local village pub except this is New York City and the Village is not a village and I am not a local. Yet. Small world 2008. Which is great unless you are having an affair or on the lam. I am not having or on either so I loved it.
Mama Buddha is a great place to eat well and love life. I don't know why I say that save that is affordable, well lit, in a great location, no attitude, comfortable and has brown rice. Good times AND brown rice! The healthy plate I ordered was somewhat cancelled out by the banana pudding (SMALL size) I got at Magnolia Bakery afterwards. Oh and the DELISH basil pancake starter. Key word "Basil"? And I am weighing in at WW tomorrow morning. Boy am I playing with fire. OR "Boy am I playing with fibre." (Ar-ar. Those in Weight Watchers are rolling (sadly, still with the rolling) on the floor right now at my hefty humour.)

Must get some sleep. It is clear. I am working off of under 5 hours. Too little for this carcass. Night.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Year of the Dog in the Year of the Rat

8153 Steps
Tonight I saw "Year of the Dog" and "Interview" at the Tribeca Film Center with my friend Lisa. She is a Spirit Awards voter and took me. These were both films I did not see at Sundance last year so it was good to see them.

The first one stars Molly Shannon playing a lonely, single woman in her 40's who loses her dog and then loses her mind. She was great in it, and I really enjoyed the film. I enjoyed it partially because it was uncomfortable in that it hit close to bones I didn't want to admit were in my body. She has a dead end cubicle office job. She only finds love with animals and does not trust humans. She falls for a guy who cannot fall for her. She has no real connection with her married brother and wife who over-protect their kids - All things she doesn’t have. I am not saying these are all me, but there were elements and that possibility of ending up alone in a housedress with loads of stacked newspapers and cats is always just right there.

There are many films that hit that uncomfortable "there is some of that in me" nerve. Like "Notes on a Scandal" made me squirm and creeped me out because I knew I was no better potentially than either of the characters. I liked that film so much because there is the Judy Dench character and the Kate Blanchett character in each one of us though we would never admit it. (There! Painted you in a corner!)

"Interview" was a two-hander with Steve Buscemi and an excellent Sienna Miller playing journalist and celeb-of-the-minute. Sort of a play in a way, a situation as if two people unknown to each other were stuck on an elevator and what unfolded.

I dig these films too because I know there is a potential relationship with about every stranger in New York City. The only reason why we don't one is timing and no broken elevator.

All in all a great night at the cinema.

And I am reading a book of short stories right now. Just finished this great one called "Applause, Applause" by Jean Thompson. It is about two college friends who get together for a weekend in the country years later with their wives. And envy. "A weekend in the country" is another version of "stuck on an elevator." Another lovely painful truth was this bit: "Like the high school loser who dreams of driving to the class reunion in a custom-made sports car. As if only those who knew your earlier weakness could verify your success." Ka-Blam!

I remember when I graduated from high school I had this Scarlett O'Hara "as God is my witness" moment where I swore in 10 years time I would fly in from someplace like New York or London for my high school reunion having been.... Never was able to complete the rest of that sentence, but I did know I was going to fly in. Cut to 10 years later and this former grammar school valedictorian was living at home, working as a bank teller and had to borrow his parents' car to attend the reunion thinking all along how "snobby" all the doctors and lawyers were going to be when he was really the snob.