Thursday, April 30, 2009

New York Dolls

Bronx Babes Behind Glass. Quasi-suburban expression of hip edginess.

Or Dusting of the Bureau Day.

World of Darkness - CLOSED

Went to the Bronx Zoo with Susan to see the exhibits before many animals get the sack as it were in this economic downtown. Yes, you heard it right, the largest metropolitan zoo in the United States is relocating animals to other zoos due to budget cuts. Pinks slips as bright as flamingos for certain species.

We were especially excited to see the famous "World of Darkness" exhibit which house loads of nocturnal creatures such as bats and perhaps some New York club owners. When we got out of Africa and came to it we saw this sign:

You guessed it, shut due to budget cuts. Sadly, I think the real world of darkness will only expand because of this economy.

Gratuitous cute animal photo.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

39 Facebook Friends

This is how many Facebook friends Orly Ravid and I share. So far.

Many times I get a friend request on Facebook from someone with whom I share a large number of friends even though we don't know each other. Most often I don't think this is enough to accept the friendship! Hey, just my thing... But Orly (this is how I remember it) wrote to me and said "Hey we have so many friends in common we need to know each other." I was taken by this and said YES.

She is a native New Yorker living in LA and I am a native Californian living in New York. We're both gay. It is a love story!

Orly is co-president of New American Vision a company that works with film festivals and indie filmmakers to brand and promote their fests and films. Her partner in business is the wonderful Jeffrey Winter whom I worked with at Outfest. Small flippin' world. She has worked with Newfest, Outfest, and Sundance Film Fest among others and it seems we have been dancing around each other for years.

She is in NYC on business and we began our affair at Caffe Reggio in the Village. I have to say on my part it was love at first sight.

What a great, great meet up and visit. She is friendly, funny, fascinating and fun! I really had such a great breakfast with her. I hope we can do this again!

But how not to make a good first impression is to bring no cash and stiff your new BFF with the bill. This is what I ended up doing. I put this out to the world to signal that I aim to make it up should she deem to see me again!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Cinnabon It

I learned a valuable lesson walking into Port Authority Bus Terminal tonight: If you are going to have a place that is ugly and depressing, Cinnabon It!!! Yes, that's right, just pump in that smell of sugar and cinnamon and all is right with the world. Like baking bread to sell you house, Cinnabon smell just makes places as skanky at the Port Authority much better. I think they should just pump that smell right into Penn Station while they are at it. That place is so ugly and depressing it screams for frosted goo smell. (Click on the link and see how beautiful the original was. It needed no Cinnabon smell. Crime they tore it right down.)

Walking Al Fresco in Manhattan

Another stunning spring day today in New York.

I was walking up my block on the Upper West Side and all the restaurants had tables and chairs outside. The places were packed with diners enjoying food, wine and the weather. It was a glorious feeling just to see them. I had great music on my headphones and I was carrying grocery bags that felt weightless, I felt that good. Sure my gums were throbbing from the pain of surgery this morning, but I didn't care. It was spring and people were dining outside and I was alive.

For some reason (it is the headphones, I am convinced) I felt like all the diners were looking at this glorious me being so alive and they ogled me. On Amsterdam and 80th, I felt like this:

But in reality, the diners didn't notice me at all and I was just some middle-aged guy carrying plastic bags while they ate pasta and sipped Chianti. No matter, I felt great.

Gum Job

This morning I had an appointment at the dentist. It was a follow up to the gum graft I had last year where they took skin (is that what you call it up there?) off the roof of my mouth and grafted it onto the front of my lower teeth to prevent further recession. (Recession? It was an omen!).

I was told that the procedure (did we always call everything a "procedure"? I hear it A LOT these days. Or maybe it is the aging company I now keep?) would just be a "lift." A gum lift, as in face lift. A minor "tug" as if they were yanking up bedding or pulling a table cloth out from under dishes to impress guests. He told me the last two times I was there that this would be quick. "No big deal."

So I pop in to the dentists on my way to the gym for my quickie only to wait 45 minutes. At least the time in the chair would be like having my name signed on a cake and then out the door. Well, he said he would have to shoot me up with Novocaine. What? This was just a quick gum lift. And then the stitches came out and all the tugging and sewing and the time and the two people it took and the me choking on blood and having to spit twice.

This was no quickie.

I couldn't even go to the gym and had to take an ice pack and Advil for the swelling and pain. I felt I should have been entitled to steal away to one of the fine hotels right along on Central Park South to recover like I had my eyes done.

I asked the doc if "the procedure" would take years off my look. He looked at me not like he had heard that joke a thousand times, but more like "What? You're a dude! Get outta here!"

Monday, April 27, 2009

My Beautiful Wonderful Launderette

When I first moved to New York I fully intended to so my own wash. I bought a tiny box of soap powder, found a laundry place right by my house and went in. It was packed and all the machines were being used. Then I saw "Wash and Fold" and KNEW it was over. Once I handed over my rags to be washed and folded (perfectly, I might add) by another I knew I would never wash again.

This has ended due to budget cuts. While I am not working full time I have to do my own clothes. The place I go for wash and fold is just too small so I had to find another location. Though I never have had kids I felt that looking for a new launderette was like finding a good school for my dependents: How much would it cost? Is it clean? Would my clothes be happy there?

I found a place nearby and went this morning. Wow, the familiar roller baskets that I used in LA and the industrial washers and dryers and the change machine. There was a bulletin board that had fliers for guitar lessons, moving vans and nude yoga. I guess this was the place.

Like on the first day of school I had to ask questions. I felt lost, but I knew I would be taken care of. The guy got me set up with the machines and he even fished out the quarters I claimed were swallowed without being registered. A good sign.

And I had big plans to use this place to read my books, magazines and maybe even meditate. Somehow I forgot to bring my cell phone and had a wee panic. Then I realized this was my place for quiet. It would be okay. And it was. I sat and I read quietly with the tumble dryers creating a nice "Ommmmmm."

The book I was reading "Never Eat Alone" was lying on the bench when I went to put some more quarters in the dryers. This woman asked me if she could look at it. Her name is Julia. She is a masseuse and a Buddhist. We got to talking and just had the best time. She does not have a computer, TV or a cell phone. We did not have a lot in common in that area, but we talked a lot about meditation and communication. She ran back up to her apartment to lend me her Pema Chödrön "When Things Fall Apart." I have made a new friend.

So far so good in my new place.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Was up on SOHA today. That is "South of Harlem" on the Upper West Side. Pretty soon every block will have its own cute anagram. What a beautiful area. People are happy there.

John threw Charlie's birthday at his place and we had the MOST AMAZING hamburgers BBQ'd in the backyard. I rarely type "backyard" when I am writing about Manhattan, but I actually sat out in one and ate a BBQ'd hamburger. It was incredible weather today and I wore shorts out for the first time this year.

Charlie is a great guy whom I met in NYC. He is President and CEO of World Leaders Entertainment. They do commercial, web and television animation. We never met through the animation biz, but we know so many people in common. Small world once again.

After Charlie's do, I went to the gym and people were using the wee park by Lincoln Center. I alwasy marvel at masses sitting on benches in nice weather for some reason. There is something that defies age or economic status about it. Life is in BLOOM once again.

I am so thrilled to live somewhere where there are such distinct seasons as I feel the pulse and thrill of anticipation in the air that does not come with year round beautiful weather. It is stirring quite frankly.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Après Good Deeds

After our day of volunteering, Sean and I got on a bus in Harlem heading south to see what we could see. We got off around around 110th Street and Amsterdam and decided to go to The Cathedral of St. John the Divine. It is an imposing and amazing structure and is the largest cathedral in the world based on cathedral-measuring techniques. Construction was begun in 1892 and it remains unfinished.

There was a fire in December 2001 (as if New York City had not had enough that year) which caused a good portion of the church to be partitioned off. Today was the first time I saw it completely opened and it was magnificent.

For some reason the way the lighting was today, the outside of the church against the sky made it look like a 2 dimensional matte painting for a Hollywood movie. Quite surreal to behold. The sculpture here depicts heaven and hell and is surrounded by mini sculptures of Noah's Arc.

We also rewarded ourselves with a stroll through Morningside Park. It is an amazingly beautiful park and I have always loved the backdrop of it and do not go there often enough. But it does also possess a melancholy memory for me and I was surprised how it made me sad today as well! Oy vey NOOOO!


Sean in front of beautiful Morningside Park

New York Cares. So Do I

My pal Sean asked me to join his work team from EuroRSCG for "Hands on New York Day 2009" where people from all over New York go all over New York and make it a better place. I had a dance class conflict, but weighed my karmic options and deemed this a good reason not to jive to my usual Saturday morning African beats.

Our assignment should we accept it was at Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem at 124th and 5th. There were options to paint playgrounds, paint concrete bleachers at the massive outdoor swimming pool or garden. I decided I wanted to be a gardener. What a brilliant choice! Our most excellent leader Eric from the Credit Suisse team lead us into dappled sunlight, got us hooked up with the wonderful lead gardener Jose and surrounded us with tulip bulbs direct from Mother Nature. It was bliss, Eden even, and I worked with an excellent group whose origins were from all over the US, and from Sweden and Switzerland to boot. It was very gratifying work and I feel I want to go back to Marcus Garvey in a few weeks and check on my tulip rows and shrub creations.

Garden leader, Eric, posing like he's working, or waiting for the starting gun to go off.

Mike from Gannett and the UWS.
Me in gardening gloves. There is hope.

At the break, Sean asked me to help them at the pool. Sounds glamourous, but I knew quickly this was the assignment from hell, the short straw, but I knew he needed help and of course I would go.

Painting by a pool sounds wonderful, but this was the Sahara. No shade and an empty pool that allowed for no ocean breeze sensation. There were miles of crusted over Soviet-era concrete slabs with chipping sea foam green that we had to convert into all grey that would make the thing look like the Giants Causeway and an aircraft carrier landing strip had a baby. (Okay that was a long way to go for a really confusing image.)

Imagine this photo times 4 of 5 lengths.

It was a high of 88 degrees out there and the paint fumes bubbled up. We had rollers and brushes and weird lamb-like mittens to get into all the hard to reach places. With those dark places and the ooze of the paint I felt like I was birthing a calf in the middle of the Gobi.

It was a truly wonderful day, all in. I met some great folk, got out of myself and touched earth and helped out in whatever small way. Volunteer work is key to world peace if you ask me. It is a constructive way to get stuck on a elevator with strangers and realize that we are all really okay and have something to contribute.

Friday, April 24, 2009

My Breakfast with Brian

I just had the most fantastic time this morning.

Nothing remarkable in that we just had breakfast at a diner and yakked, but it was so much fun.

(BTW: Brian had two hard boiled eggs and a bran muffin. I had two poached ON toast and turkey sausage. )

We used to be in a book club in Los Angeles together and now we live mere blocks away in New York City. A few months back we ran into each other at an East Village party (I mention the location as it ups my hip factor, but the fact that I comment on it just lowers it right back. ie "hip replacement" factor. ). We planned to meet up for breakfast on the Upper West Side, and this lovely, sunny full of promise for the weekend day was the day.

We talked about writing which I love talking about (Maybe now I should actually do some of it?), and our friends back in LA and life in NYC. We both love New York and I was inspired to hear why he loves it, which is a good part of why I love it: inspiration.

Plain and simple, New York is an inspiring place. I notice it in the buildings and the trees and the people. I notice it in the friends I have made and the possibilities. I notice it in the theatre and the museums and the delis. I see it in the tourists' faces.

It gets administered in many ways.


Brian is a writer and wrote a lot of TV and has some plays going as well as a full blown musical he is sending out. I wish him great success.

I have to say as if this is some HUGE anecdote, but I guess it is in my life: Brian is the only author of a book I already had on my shelf to actually have been in my apartment. (Think about it, how many authors have you had in your place? See?) I realized this one evening when I hosted book club that he wrote "My Life As a Dog" and I had it in my collection. I made him sign it of course.

(N.B. next time my friend Bob comes over I will have two!)

Great start to the day. The weekend. Thanks, Brian.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

French Class

French class is finished. And not a moment too soon. You see this 10 week course has been the source of all my problems. The laundry is piled high. I am running out of toothpaste and dish washing liquid. Why? French class.

I am unemployed. French class.

I am single. French class.

I have gained 5 pounds and my apartment needs a scrubbing. You guessed it.

But now everything will come together because I don't have all that intolerable homework hanging over me each week. What was that about? I mean I paid good money to speak this damn language and the teacher had me listening to recordings of a family of 5 talk rapidly in heavily accented French about soccer practice and the young little sister's upcoming birthday party. I mean, who could understand that?

I want to talk about the past dammit!

So far I have used this class twice. I spoke to a woman on the bus and a group of 5 young guys in odd bathing suits in the locker room at the Y. You might laugh and think they weren't even French, but they were. So far if I were to amortize my tuition that was $100 a conversation. Too much. And for what? Foreign condescension? Who needs it?

Steve Martin said, "Those French. They have a word for everything!" Actually they don't. They use one sentence to stand in place for like 5 of ours. They just have a load of exceptions. Count me as one of them.

And I can't say I didn't learn anything. I did. But if one of my friends comes up to me and fires away in French I will get defensive and shut down. I will be like a deer standing in front of a Renault at night. I hate that. I mean in that one little room on 21st Street I am brilliant and speak away to the other 5 like I was Jeanne Moreau after 50 cigarettes. But to use it in the real world requires just too much. I will wait to speak until I am fluent.

[No French was harmed in the making of this posting.]

Another of episode of...

"Everything you have in the Village we have here on the Upper West Side."

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

New York, New York. It's a Hell of a (small) Town

The most densely populated major US city. A concrete jungle. Another 100 people just got off of the train. This place is just a zoo. Oh and I think there are like 5 of those alone. Argggh. A sardine tin with extra sprinkles.

But then why do I feel like I live in a tiny village where the inhabitants are played by a repertory company?

When I first moved here I crashed into an old friend from LA on the subway. This requires us not to just be taking the same line, but we have to get on the actual same car. And the yoga instructor that you had this morning will end up playing a theatre patron in Row F at "Desire Under the Elms" this evening. I have been at events where people from distinctly other parts of my life show up as if there were a call for extras. If I were so inclined (and so in demand) to have an affair I would take it to a motel in Paramus. I wouldn't risk Inwood as being remote enough.

And everyone is so damned nice. This is not your father's New York. (Actually my father's New York was Irish, Italian and Jewish gangs all vying for someones bicycle. But boy could they all jeté.) When I walk down the street I nod to the guy on the stoop with the dog and that woman with the cigarette always dangling out of her mouth like that cartoon strip broad. And there is that lovely commercial actress who is always so pleasant and says hello to me every time like she operates the fruit stand in the square. I always get a warm grin-as-a-second-lauguage from the guy who does my laundry. The only unhappy people in New York are the check out girls at Zabars. Poor things. I DO NOT know what is the source of their sadness.

My friend Ron told me soon after I arrived on these shores that this town was too small for me, but I really think this is most peoples' pleasant experience here. There is just this small town thing. Even if I tried to hide (which I have no desire to) in a mahjong game in a back alley in Chinatown, I am sure I would be sitting in between my 8th grade teacher and the receptionist from the Ear Nose and Throat doctor.

Nicolas Cage and The Sorcerer's Apprentice

My friend Dave is in town from Los Angeles on business. He is an exec producer for a very cool multi-media design studio and production company called Blind. They do a lot of good work and I am really happy for his success.

We decided to go for an adventure and leave our respective neighborhoods. (my keyword for me in New York is sadly "provincial.") We went to deepest darkest Chinatown to go to Dim Sum Go Go which was very good. Filled with white people - always a good sign. JOKE. But it was really good. And Chinese people know to not eat dim sum at night anyway.

Afterwards we took a stroll through a neighborhood where if we weren't so long in the tooth we could easily be hooded and thrown into the back of a van and sold in all of 5 seconds. But instead of working in the flesh trade in South America we walked by the movie set of "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" starring Nicolas Cage. It was a BEEEE-U-TEE-FUL set full of red Chinese lanterns and lovely bright lights. The way you want your Chinatown served to you. The way it should be!

No flash allowed, "We're shooting."

Dave outside the street scene.

The confetti blower. (a machine, not a person, silly!)

Bright lights. Big City. ...Little China.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Men in Media Mixer

Marc and Jerry and Chris

In another battle of "War on Unemployment" I organized a mixer of guys who work in TV, film, digital, advertising etc. I did not start this event, just resurrected it from a slump and added Evite! We had it at Ate Ave. in Chelsea and it turned out to be a great night.

I met some new people and got reacquainted with old ones and hung with friends and introduced folk (always my fave thing to do!) and it was just fun. Amazing what you can do with a computer, some labels, a bar and a few sharpie pens.

Rick and Eric and Jim
Andy and Sean
Me and my pal Sean

Ranger Pat

Every day I battle on the War on Unemployment. Today was no different. But I tried a different tack. Today I applied to be a Park Ranger. This is for a position in Lower Manhattan giving tours at the African Burial Ground National Monument. How cool would that be? I love to talk to groups, I adore history and I can walk backwards and do like Bonnie Hunt did in that move Dave: "We're walking, we're walking."

But seriously, that uniform. How hot would that be? I mean, especially in the summers, right? That Smokey the Bear hat and those trousers. I would be fighting them off with a stick.

And the material I would get to write a play or novel later. It could be my Elf in my own Santaland Diaries. This could help me really go places. OMG, I want this job.

Of course the application asked for contact numbers and salary figures for all my previous jobs. I did not want to do that so I applied MY way. The government loves individual expression like this. I am certain of it.

But just you wait. I will have been barking up the wrong tree all this time and then SNAP, I am a Park Ranger in New York City strolling through Union Square park tipping my hat and saying "Howdy, Ma'am" and rubbing two sticks together to light the cigarette for a teenager standing outside Port Authority. I will probably chuckle a lot and make some forest fire jokes. I could speak to schools! Too much!

Where there's smoke, there's Ranger Pat.

Monday, April 20, 2009

la Nouvelle York Ville est ma ville, Monsieur

Il a plu aujourd'hui.

It rained today.

Fort even.

French. English. I can do 'em both now because I took 10 weeks of French and a vie-time of English.

I have an exposé due in French class this week. Not like a gossip thing where I say in French who I heard Jennifer Aniston is sleeping with, but just a report on something of my choosing. Like about the dude who redid Paris or Angelina Jolie's humanitarian work. Mostly in present tense. Like covering a game or making a 911 call: "He is breathing but not heavily. He is bleeding and there is a knife in his back. The chemise is soaked in sang.Mon Dieu!"

Maybe I can do this. I have to get up in front of the whole class and speak for 5 minutes on a topic in French. You cannot shut me up for hours in English, but this seems daunting.

For now, I burry ma tête dans l'oreiller. Je ponce. Et ponce. Et ponce.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Joe Turner's Come and Gone

Saw "Joe Turner's Come and Gone" with Bob today at a matinee at the Belasco. How I get to sit where I sit and see what I see and feel what I feel is amazing to me. I am so grateful. Times IS tough and theatre has not made the budget cuts so thank you, Bob, for this.

Bartlett Sher directed this play and adds this to a cap full of amazing feathers: "South Pacific" at Lincoln Center, "Light in the Piazza," "Awake and Sing," "Cymbeline." He is quite a theatre director and, no thanks to me, he went to my high school. He was called Bart then. Perhaps he still is, by his friends.

I loved the play so much. August Wilson seems to be such a lyrical writer and this play really sang about loss, displacement, finding home, and the post-slavery plight of African American's post turn of last century. Great characters and great dialogue.

The sets and staging worked so seemlessly together. I wish there was a YouTube video of the opening when actors effortlessly hit their marks just as a piece of the set comes in or down or up. It was elegant and spiritul, really.

I think if I wrote my own version it would just be whiney. More work ahead...

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Green Pastures, Grey Gardens

I've seen the documentary. I've seen the Broadway show. Now I have seen the HBO Special starring Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange about this odd and sad mother/daughter team living in squalor in the Hamptons.

Just waiting for Disney to release an animated version complete with singing raccoons and dancing cats. I can feel it coming.

Sean and I watched it at his swank West Village pad with the real lights of New York just beyond the flat screen: the city where little Edie Beale dreamt of becoming a singing and dancing star.

It was all really quite good. I have to give the main kudos to a note perfect, multi-faceted performance from Jessica Lange. It was amazing. Drew was good too, but Jessica really hit is out of the park. I enjoyed the whole thing. Quite sad, however.

New York, like Los Angeles, is a city of dreams. It can make you; it can break you. It is no wonder I have lived in both. And I am still waiting for my big moment.

But when I looked at the Beales and I think about my life, I feel very fortunate to live here. And live here as I do.

There is time enough for newspapers piled high and housedresses and loads of cats.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Top of the World

Flowers at the fountain in Madison Square Park

A stunning spring day in NYC. Eileen and I headed for the Flatiron district to meet up with Andy Schiff, Eileen's dear friend from the year abroad program in Padova, Italy. She had not seen him in 15 years or so and I had not seen him in about 23.

Really nice, nice guy. His brother is Dr. Doom who predicted the financial crisis and the video is kind of amazing.

Pat, Eileen and Andy in Madison Square Park

Andy is also licensed tour guide and gave a quick tour of this historic area. It was great to see him and have lunch al fresco just like in the old Italia days.

Afterwards it was up to the top of the Empire State Building right around the corner from where our dad grew up.

The evening was pre-theatre dinner with our friend Nancy on Restaurant Row.
Eileen and Nancy are old friends and Nancy and I are now good NYC pals thanks to my sis.

Eileen and I then dashed to the Manhattan Theatre Club to see David Hyde Pierce in "Accent on Youth." He really is a fantastic actor and he brought this old chestnut to life wonderfully. He is also a friend of friends of mine and we got to go backstage and hang for a bit in his dressing room while he took off his make-up. What a truly nice man. He was so gracious to Eileen and me. Just a capper to a fine visit. But wait.....

We then ascended the new RED STAIRCASE in Times Square and looked out over all the people and the lights and knew that this brother and sister act was big time lucky and still on top of the world.

grazie dio