Friday, July 31, 2009

Returning the Beast

I finally did it. I had wanted to do it for some time, but was oddly afraid. Cannot explain why. Fear of the unknown maybe. What would it be like? Would I feel too uncomfortable? What would my friends say? Not about me, but to me - since I would no longer be able to talk about "The D List" or Don Draper in his 3rd season.

Yes, that is right. I did it. I returned my cable box. I not longer have television. A medium I supposedly work in and care about.


It is so FREEING ! Maybe I will read the classics. Who knows what I will do!

Budget cuts necessitated this move. I can no longer afford to pay for this (now) luxury item.

And the funny thing is I want to work in digital media so I will watch content on my computer and it will be good training for me to live this way. I will view and watch Daily Show on-line. Even Miss Marple is there! Oh JOY!! And all those DVDs that I have and there is even Netflix or dare I say it, the library!

I thought I would "nip in" to Time Warner on 23rd Street and drop this puppy off. When I walked in I saw was a place that "was a combination of a welfare office and an airport with oversold, delayed flights and angry people..." (quote is from my friend Jon who had the same experience in California.) But that is what it was! I got a number with an "estimated wait time of 44 minutes" printed on it.

Seems I am not alone is letting go of this luxury item. There were simply LOADS of people there returning boxes.

I should have organized a hiking group or book club then and there.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

WNYC - Uncommon Economic Indicators Contest -Brian Lehrer Meets Sean McGee

Brian Lehrer and Sean McGee

My pal Sean McGee entered his 1 minute video about shops that have closed on his walk to work in WNYC's Uncommon Economic Indicators Contest. There were 100s of entries and he got 3rd Place! And...he will be in The Blackout Film Festival in New York.

Sean is now a filmmaker in a film festival! That is stuff I would dream about. And instead of sitting on a bar stool talking about it, he did it. We are very proud of our boy from the Dakotas!

A boy with a dream and a blank canvas.

Sean's world premier on the Brian Lehrer Show. Judges watch Sean's film intently.

Team McGee: Teddy, Sean, Pat, Frank

Journalist of Man.Hat In. with Filmmaker

He invited us to come to Brian Lehrer's Radio Show in Tribeca to witness history.

It was really exciting to be there and support a pal.

With 3rd you get totebag!

And watch the winning videos and their makers...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tale of Two Cities

Pat and Joe taken on his phone

Ah my jettsetting life.

On Monday I was in San Francisco ready to ship out to New York and crashed into my friend Joe whom I know from Los Angeles BUT we went to the same high school in San Francisco. (Got that?) Small world as usual. It was GREAT to see him and we had an impromptu coffee to catch up. He and his partner Stu recently moved from Los Angeles to Marin County after I left for New York. (Let me take this moment to plug Joe's new bakery "Applebaum Bakery." If you are in the Bay Area order from him. He is good. I know first hand. My lovehandles even know. )

But before departing La La, Joe hooked me up with his friend Tony in New York who was so helpful in my entry into life here. And then I got to see Tony tonight in New York. So really hours and 3000 miles apart these photos were taken.

Tony and Pat taken on his iphone by shaky cameraman.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Coming HOME!

Wow, I came HOME to New York. THIS is where I live. I was visiting home in San Francisco and then I came home here. How is that possible?

Everyone has a different take on "HOME." See: where hat is, where heart is, where grew up, where born, where you feel most at, etc.

I don't feel torn about all of this for probably like the first time ever. I always seemed to live somewhere and want to be somewhere else or feel I couldn't stay where I wanted to be. And now not. What a fantastic breakthrough to achieve so early in life...late 40's!

My heart will always be in San Francisco in some capacity, but New York City is where I live baby and I LOVE it. It fuels me and I am so excited for the future here. In under 2 years, this city has really embraced me. Okay, not professionally or romantically, but in every way else!

Just being back on the subway late last night with other bleary-eyed types and standing in the humidity on the platform made me glad. When I emerged at my stop it was so familiar I was wondering if I had even been away. San Francisco was but a Brigadoon. How odd to feel that.

But it was a good and true Brigadoon and I am forever enriched because of it. I am back and better than ever.

Bring it on, NYC. You are gonna love me if it kills you.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Funny Photos at the River

The best thing I can give my nieces and nephews is my time. (And I must say it is pretty easy as I just get such a kick out of being with them.) But I am not handy like my brother-in-law and I am not their dad like my brother and other-brother-in-law. I am their one odd, single uncle from the East with special gifts!

But I am nothing without my Mac!

This visit we shot a mini film on Flip Video and we did funny photos on "Photo Booth." So much fun to see the wonderment and creativity they have and how technically flexible they are. This "new world' is just "world" to them. Talking on Skype, watching videos on You Tube of a animated frog racing in a car or an eagle eating a snake. And I get to be part of introducing them doing all this stuff. Great fun. Better enjoy it while it lasts before they are way ahead of me with this stuff! That will be soon.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Playing with Pipes

Jeff plays, Oonagh accompanies.

If we had to choose a "Prince" in our family -meaning someone who can play multiple instruments, it would be my brother-in-law Jeff. He plays the flute and bongos and loads of Ren Fair type instruments so it is fitting that he would have some proficiency on the bagpipes. He was quite good and had a unique Middle Eastern flare to his music. I am surprised no snakes were summoned.

Playing well.
Blowing hard!

Playing with Frogs

One of the great things lost and then often re-found as an adult is the joy of having a pet. Early on it is for discovery and later for companionship. The kids captured a frog up at the river and named it Boing! An excellent name and a departure from the usual alliterative tack at that age like naming it Freddy the Frog or Fiona the Frog.

Boing will be released back to the wild, but what fun to learn about feeding it (crickets from the pet store) and cleaning a cage and putting in fresh leaves and water. Is this all in preparation for taking care of ourselves and others that we have pets at young ages? Oh and they are cute and it is fun.

The kids are not squeamish at all about Boing's slimy exterior (acceptance of those different than ourselves?) and penchant for live crickets (preparation for an adult trip to Thailand?)

Time to go!!!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

My Birthday.

Today I turned another year older. And today I am fine with that. I celebrated at a camp playing bagpipes with friends. What could be better than that? I mean up in the redwoods with my brother and pals I grew up with playing bagpipes. It was really fun.

I even enjoyed playing pipes.

I could write a whole essay today on how I love and loathe playing the pipes and how I am teetering on retiring from playing, but how I am "afraid" to stop and risk "losing" my identity. I suppose I should write something on this instead of being so cryptic, but it is my birthday and I can't be bothered!!!

Coincidentally I received an email today from my old bagpiping teacher. He was going through photos and found this one of me playing in his kitchen. What was this piper thinking back then? I must have been 19!!!

Friday, July 24, 2009

California Dreamin'

There was something about being a kid in the Bay Area (Northern California, San Francisco-region) in the 1970's. Too young for the Haight-Ashbury 60's and not old enough for the drug scene/disco clubs of the 70s. To my mind it was stingray bikes and skateboards and Golden Gate Park and the Russian River. With a little Doobie Brothers and Fleetwood Mac thrown in.

Thank God memory usually leaves room for only the happy residue (save for those key life-chaning moments of evil that can happen) and we mentally float down a lazy river on an inner tube in our minds.

The Russian River is emblematic of this time-period for me. I know if I delved I was a scared, confused kid. But also a happy and engaged one. We used to come up here with the family or friends and float in the river or canoe. It was a very Bay Area local scene and hair was long and puka shells were out in full force. I remember loads of sun which you didn't get in foggy town and even some nudists in the Trowbridge canoe rentals!

(not a nudist, but a canoe!)

And here we are all these years later and there are new generations that have taken over the place. My little sister is no longer skipping off with her friends telling girl secrets to each other, but is now a homeowner here a that River with two kids and I know they they will "grow up" here and have many happy memories. What great joy to be a part of that.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Russian River

We grew up coming up here and now all this time and people have passed and my sister and her husband have bought a place at the river and a NEW tradition begins. We were all here for Christmas and now I get to spend some stolen time with the family enjoying the summer.

I have FIVE (count 'em) nieces and nephews now and the 4 who are of walking age! went on a hike with their uncle today. I cannot tell you how great it is to be in these kids' lives in any way. And Senior Cousin, Mitch used my flip video and shot a movie of our hike!

"Back at the ranch" we had BBQ's burgers and hot dogs and potato salad. Just the greatest summer food fun with my family. Fantastic.

Believe it or not, this is actually a text book! My brother-in-law Jeff is studying for his Home Brew Judges License!

Director Mitch and reality star John review the dailies

And now...Mitch's first film "The Forest of Events"

Mom 1935 - 7/23/2004

Mom died 5 years ago today. That is amazing to me. Isn't it? Aren't we supposed to go, "Wow, I can't believe it has been (______) years!" But I guess I don't know if I really feel any of that.

Do I miss her? Yes, my heart aches with sadness still over her not being here. That will never transfer properly to paper, but it is like I am permanently altered in a way that before this day 5 years ago I was not.

What does amaze me is what has happened in the last 5 years that Mom was not here for. She missed out on so much! But that is death. Yes, I could go with the "she is watching down on us" as her grandchildren (two of whom she never met) grow and I moved to New York and technology moved on and newstories happened and films premiered. I want to believe that, but I don't. The woman I talk to "up there" is me mixed with some of the energy I ascribe to her. I wish she could hear me. In fact I even asked her to send me a sign before she died!

I was fortunate to be here in SF for a day, well Colma (the town where SF goes to after death!) really, on the eve of the anniversary of her death. I know that the headstone is just a marker where her bones lie, but I allow myself the comfort of using this place here as a quiet place in which to think of my parents.

But then again they are everywhere in me. Dad is with me always in New York and mom in my bagpipes and both of them in my expressions and siblings. I have a cup of tea and Mum is there. I go in front of a crowd and there is Dad. They will never be gone, yet they will never return.

I miss them. And I am glad I knew them.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Impromptu Perfect

By accident I was in San Francisco for one evening. We were supposed to drive up to the Russian River today, but plans changed.

Jon and Marjorie came over and Eileen threw together a great meal. It was all easy and last minute and perfect. I ended being up for 24 hours from the time I got up in New York and went to bed in San Francisco. And I feel so at home in both places which I find so satisfying.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

American Folk Art Museum

I was on the phone all day doing my consulting job. I have to say convincing people to do stuff and selling them on it WHILE complimenting them sincerely on their phone message or name is rewarding. You don't know how much until you have been out of the game a while like I have.

It is FUN to work! And it is easy when it is not a con.

I just miss engaging with people on a project and knowing that I will get paid for it. Simple as that. Maybe I should sell vacuums over the phone. Or peanut butter makers. Who isn't happier with warm peanut butter all over their hands, kids and carpet?

Done for the day.

Now time to change hats. I am going home to San Francisco in the morning to see the family. Truly excited about this. But what do you get kids who have an uncle who is underemployed? I ask you.

I know this place on W. 53rd. It is the American Folk Art Museum Store. And it shares space with an actual museum! They have the coolest stuff in this place. Random folksy, silly, fun stuff. I went there to find somethings New Yorky, fun and affordable. I have to keep up my quirky uncle from far away image. "Mommy, why doesn't Uncle Pat have a wife?"

New York has more museums (and ostensibly more museum stores) than any other city in the world. (I am just assuming that statistic, but I am sure I am not far wrong.) There is a museum for everything here. The Museum of the Moving Van. The American Museum of the Monkey Flying Out of My Butt. The Victoria and David Museum. Even the Museum of the Underwear You Only Wear When Everything Else Is Dirty Museum. I kid you not.


Anyway, I love the volunteer ladies at the AmFoArMu Store. They are always sweet and they ring up your sale on a computer that should itself be in the Smithsonian Museum. I got some cool trinkets for my siblings' wee progeny here. Come I'll show you...

On the upper left is a quilted pot holder. This is for Rita. She is like 1. It can't break and she can chew on it. Below the pot holder is a doggy pencil sharpener. You stick the pencil in its mouth and turn its tail. That is for Oonagh. To the dog's right is a Pinocchio measuring tape. You pull his nose and a tape measure keeps coming out - longer and longer! That's for Mitch. And right to the right is a chocolate chip cookie purse with a zipper for Claire. And up top in green is a tin of band-aids shaped like PICKLES for Johnny! I hope they like them.

Here are the 3 possible scenarios out of all this:

1. They will all be broken and forgotten in minutes.
2. They will be remembered years from now when one becomes an engineer (measure tape), doctor (bandaids), chef (pot holder), graphic artist (pencil sharpener), and President of the United States (cookie purse!) all because I gave them these gifts. Me, Me ME. I was the major influence in all their lives!! Mwahhaahhaahh!


3. 37 year old on therapist's couch. "Well, it all started when I was a kid and my strange uncle Pat who never got married gave me this thing that I hated, but my cousin got this other thing that I loved. I always felt he never got me and it started a life of feeling misunderstood and rejected. All over a cookie purse. Why didn't I get the cookie purse?

Monday, July 20, 2009

John Peterson at the Triad

The Cabaret crowd all settled and waiting. Jinnie, Ellie, Pat, Joan, Bud and Kim

My friend Ellie, the knower and exposer of much talent in New York City, arranged for us to see her friend John Peterson perform at The Triad on West 72nd Street. He is a performer from England who, if one had to pigeonhole for expediency, is a "song and dance man" - a throwback to a softer, shoe-ier time when men were fleet of foot and carried canes for props and not for support.

Wow, he was terrific. He took us through a kind of travelogue of the best including George M. Cohan, Anthony Newley, Fred Astaire and my favorite, Gene Kelly.

I would say he is the Bruce Springsteen of Song and Dance men in that he puts on a show that does not let up and keeps going. Like Bruce, he is pure energy and possesses genuine love for his material. He puts his all into to it and if you were to amortize your money over the evening you would have done well!

Here we are with John after the show.

You can still see him through November. For more info click on his name above.

Frank McCourt (1930 - 2009)

Frank McCourt died at the age of his street address, 78. I hope I live until at least mine.

Frank McCourt is dead.

This leaves me with two regrets and a gratitude.

Funny how death and blogs are a perfect petri dish to make his passing all about me.

Here goes.

1. Regret #1. He lived around the corner from me on 78th Street, staring distance from the Museum of Natural History. I would see him often standing outside his building. I now wish as a semi-professional blogger I asked for his photo with me. It would have been dead good blogging material. But I also felt a connection to him. But I have this "off limits" policy when it comes to celebrities. But I am a blogger and owe "the get" to my readers. And what writer hates being noticed? Except for JD Salinger, perhaps it is okay? But in this case too late. It would have been nice to have me next to Frank on 78th St. to include in my published book down the road.

Too late.

2. Regret #2 Frank and his brother, Malachy, toured long before either was famous in a two-man play called "A Couple of Blaguards." They were performing for a long while in San Francisco and I knew this was the perfect vehicle to take my dad to. We would both have loved it and it would have been a way to bond. I didn't ever do it. Not sure why, but I think it was "easier" not to.

Too late.

3. Gratitude #1

Frank didn't "become" a writer until in his 60's. I suffer from a "too late" infection that attacks the brain and the hand. But this man taught school all his life and then sat down to write and he did it in his 60's. He is an inspiration to me. He is Irish, American and Irish/American and his book spoke so deeply to me. I have yet to read the others though my partner-in-Mick, Maureen, did give me "'Tis." Thanks Frank for living your life and writing. I shall try and do the same.

Never too late.