Monday, November 30, 2009

Ciao UWS. I will Always Love You!

Today I walked out of my apartment for the last time ala "A Doll's House." I loved that place and my landlords and life there. That is a good feeling to have. And now I am excited and ready for the next chapter in the West Village.

The photo I took on my first day in the apartment.

My last photo in the apartment 2+ years later that I took today.


Woke up, got out of bed, dragged a comb across my head.

Walked outside on this excellent and gorgeous day today in the West Village. I was in a different Oz! Albeit a very friendly or friendful one.

Had breakfast with a friend, watched a movie with other friends, worked out and then met a friend for a lovely dinner and then back to have a late night chat with another friend.

I am RICH!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Moving Day in NYC

I moved from the Upper West Side to the West Village today. I am excited and sad and happy and tired and ready and wanting.

Back up...

I had two amazing years in a beautiful brownstone right by the Museum of Natural History and Central Park with an outdoor terrace and lovely wood and beautiful furniture. And more importantly two GREAT landlords and now friends and wonderful neighbors. To move to New York with nothing and land sight unseen where I did, I landed the jackpot. I really did. And I am so grateful to John and Aris for this.

And when I was sad a the idea of moving I thought, "You just had the best entry into New York ever and you now need to experience other lands on this wonderfully exotic island. It is a good thing." So Solomon and his towncar whisked me and my possessions past Zabar's and Fairway and took me downstream past midtown and Chelsea to the exotic West Village. My earth tones UWS self was wide-eyed at the West Villagers all villagey-like. "They will never acccept me. My clothes look like Maria made them from curtains," I thought.

But there was my roommate and friend Sean welcoming me and helping me move in. We are roommates now and I will keep our domestic life away from the eyes of this blog (it is going to kill me, but I will!) But I just have to say being here with him as my roommate and his dog Skipper and cat Harry, just makes me feels so at home.

OMG, I thought I would never quote the musical Annie, EVER, but "I think I'm gonna like it here."

Thank you HP, et al.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Last Day in My UWS Apartment

All my STUFF ready to be moved.

You place you! You welcomed me day one into New York society and I fell in love with you! Your beautiful wood and your amazing outdoor space and your lovely brownstoniness! And your mirrors and your reds and yellows! And your neighbors. And your amazing owners whom I will always feel warm feelings and gratitude for. I feel like you knew you would only hold me for two years and then send me on my way. Yes, I am going to a good place, thank you, but I will miss you hugely.

I Can't Imagine the Absence of You

As wonderful a Thanksgiving as I did have, I was struck when I called my family last night in California. All my siblings and in-laws and nieces and nephews were gathered at my sister Seona's house in Morro Bay for the Thanksgiving weekend. I knew this; that's why I was calling!

I spoke to my brother-in-law Jeff whose warm greeting upon picking up the phone made me feel happy and welcome and home. Then my sister Seona got on the line and we spoke about the stuffing. It was a hit she said and I was so glad. And then to my brother-in-law Rick whose crazy "Papa Walton barely made it home for Thanksgiving" work saga warmed my heart that he shared it with me and then I spoke to my nephew Mitch who was excited about marshmallows and bagpipe lessons and talks to me lately like he is a grown up young person man-boy. And then I got to talk to my brother Sean and we spoke for a minute about what I want to get the kids for Christmas and he was on board! He mentioned that our friend Goodie was on the phone from Virginia with my sister Eileen and then I spoke to my nephew Johnnie who broke my heart when he was fed the line "I miss you Uncka Pat, I love you Uncka Pat." I spoke to his mom Leiyan whom I adore and she was going to get her daughter, my niece Oonagh, on the phone but they were all calling for the marshmallow roast on the deck upstairs and the line was hung up as if mid-sentence. Mid-sentiment. Mid- "I miss you guys!"

I returned downstairs to the beautiful Thanksgiving table with my friends and was so heartsick. I felt so homesick and was just sad, but in that deep, painful kind of good way as it is was an acknowledgment that my family means something deep to me and that they are under my skin embedded like armor lined with fur - strong and comfortable - protecting me. I was so surprised that I felt this pain so deeply.

Today I got an email that a guy with whom I play in the bagpipe band's daughter's boyfriend was in a horrible car accident the day before Thanksgiving and they pulled the plug on his twentysomething body today. He is dead. He is not going for his degree any more. He is done.

I have no kids. I have no connection to that in that way, but I can't imagine his parents ever imagined the absence of him. I didn't know him. I do not know his parents, but I feel some associative horrible gasping pain where they must be grasping at what-ifs and filled with rage and fury and roiling with keening paralysis right now.

We move away, we break up, we get older, we terminate friendships, and we know that people older than us will eventually die, and we deal. But with a child it is a glossed-over absolute acceptance I would think (and what else should it be?) that they will be in a parent's life until the elder's last drawn breath though we all know there is evidence to the contrary.

My God, the pain of that loss. I feel it like the phone just going dead, but the killer is they cannot redial. Ever.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Last Issue of Gourmet Magazine Thanksgiving

The recession and and the annihilation of the publishing industry opens up such despair in many and creativity in others. ( I think I am somewhere in the middle.)

Due to the recent demis of Gourmet Magazine Jay and Ron came up with the idea of cooking our entire Thanksgiving meal out of the final issue. The publication which was unceremoniously shuttered right after the November 2009 issue was put to bed. It had been around since 1941.

But like a turkey-shaped phoenix rising out of the oven, we had a meal that was gonzo good and gourmetalicious.

Here was the menu:


Creole Crab Dip

Roederer Estate NV, Anderson Valley Brut

Beet Pickled Deviled Eggs

Propriete Marie-Antoinette Vincent, Pouille-Fuisse 2005

Zwiebelkuchen (Golden Onion Pie)

Benzinger Family Winery, Carneros Chardonnay 2001

Scarlet Carrot Soup

Oyster Casserole

Steiner-Phaffenberg, Riesling-Auslese 1995

Cider Glazed Turkey with Giblet Gravy
Braised Turnip Greens with Turnips and Apples
Sauteed Green Beans and Brussels Sprouts
with Hot Red Pepper Flakes
Brown Sugar Baked Sweet Potatoes and Acorn Squash
Rye Bread Stuffing
Cranberry Orange Relish/Holiday Sauce
Cheddar Corn Muffins with Jalapeno Butter and White Bread Rolls

Navarro Vineyards, Pinot Noir 2002

Mesclun and Shaved Beet Salad
with Celery Seed Vinaigrette

Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle
Lemon Custard Pie
Fig Crostada
Pear and Cranberry Crisp with Cardamom Ice Cream
Pindar, Johannisberg Riesling Ice Wine 2005

Mmmm. Glazed turkey
Me mugging whilst other toil.

Der Feast.

The excellent Stephen, Ron and Jay. I have such a good time with these guys.

One of my faves the Alsatian onion pie. Wow, it was good.

This photo cannot capture the colorful brilliance of the Scarlet carrot soup. The secret it beets! This was also a fave of mine. No stock. Just earthy, rooty goodness. Truly a keeper.

The oyster custard.
Does this look like a Gourmet cover or what?

Blurry, but so was my vision at this point. I especially loved the ginger bread with pumpkin mousse and whipped cream. Ron made them all including the cardamom ice cream from scratch.

Voila. The boys. As if we had been eating for charity! But even though we have all had our hard times this year, it was nice to gather and be reminded of our blessings.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Out on the Farm

One of the thrills of coming "Out East" for Thanksgiving is going to the farm for produce. Rona and I fetched all the Brussel's sprouts and yams and whatnot from this place.

I think part of me is really a country boy. Not ALL of me by any stretch, but part of me. Looking out on the fields and smelling the fresh dirt and seeing what the season really produces rather than year 'round strawberries at the market.

Thanksgiving Eve - Upper West Side

My last Thanksgiving in the UWS. The balloons for the Macy's Day Parade are blown up right by my house. It is a tourist attraction in itself.

I pass by just the beginning as I set off to Long Island for the holiday.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sleep Upright

I went to the neurologist for my balance therapy since I am still struggling with vertigo. He made me lie on a table and stare for about a minute on both sides. Like I was a rotisserie. I did as instructed. I have been looking forward to this therapy to "fix me" for a long time. And it was so simple seeming.

Then he told me to not lie down for over 24 hours or else it would not work! I was not sure if this was a practical joke for my forgetting my last appointment, but what was I to do.

So tonight I sleep in a chair sitting up like I am waiting for burglars.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Mary and the Chocolate Factory

Blurry photo of Veruca Salt, Violet Beauregard, Frau Gloop und Ellie. (Grandpa George in bg)

The central event of our mission in Rhode Island was to see the Jamestown Community Theatre production of "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory"directed by Ellie daughter, Mary Wright. And featuring Mary's husband, Tot, as the hard of hearing grandpa.

I have always loved community theatre for exactly what it is - a place for the community. Mary turns no one away in her productions (20 plus so far) and if you show up to practice you are an Oompa Loompa at the very least ( and I don't mean it like that because these Oompa Loompas were fantastic!)

I thoroughly enjoyed it and loved Mary as Mrs. Gloop, greedy Augustus' Mutter.

It was also Mary's birthday! A great evening all around.

Wheaton College, MA

Ellie attended Wheaton College in Massachusetts in 1943. It was not much fun she tells me: the windows had to be covered with black curtains, the boys were off at war, it was desolate. Yet she wanted to go back and check it out all these years later. What fun it was!

We took the student tour led by a sophomore who is doing everything I didn't: getting involved in all his school has to offer, and by what we heard it is a lot. What an amazing place this was.

The big goal was to find Ellie's dorm room: Emerson 110. Understandably security is tight, but also understandably we are tenacious. We got some students to get us in and we found Ellie's old room #110.

What we hadn't planned on was for the current occupant to emerge. The very lovely Graham. He was as blown away by meeting Ellie as she was him! Both of them occupants of the same dorm room, but 66 years apart. Pretty amazing.

Graham and Ellie in "their" dorm room.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Breakers, Newport, RI

Ellie and I dashed off to Newport to drive around the manses, beautiful relics of the gilded age. There are SO many mansions in Newport along the bluff it is like a planned community, but with gianormous, one-off mansion. You can tour them like wineries. We went to one of the most glorious, The Breakers, which was the Vanderbilt's wee summer getaway.

It is so ornate and fabu one can just imagine the dresses and parties and upstairs/downstairs of it all. The headset tour does an excellent job of evoking this gilded age for the camera-toting jeans and t-shirt pedestrians who amble through the place today.

Front lawn looks out to the ocean. Perfect for parties.

Family Feud - SETTLED

I like to play this up, but apparently Tot has been trying to get Ellie to the Redwood Library in Newport for years and today it happened. I was on hand for this historic moment when son-in-law and mother-in-law came together in peace and harmony on the steps of this amazing institution.

Today's historical event was only one in a long line of history making days in the life of the Redwood Library. To steal directly from their website:

The Redwood Library and Athenæum is the oldest lending library in America, and the oldest library building in continuous use in the country.

(fire pulls have been added)

Now that is impressive. And what is also impressive is the name "Redwood" is in Tot's family line and he was on the board of this institution and is still active. It was a thrill to be shown around the place by him. We saw Gilbert Stuart's and the original library collection and well as an impressive Dying Gaul sculpture.

I am so glad Ellie and Tot will always have this place to share with each other.

Providence, RI

Brown U
John Brown's house. Private tour.

Tot drove us around the state capital and we saw Brown University and the famous Rhode Island School of Design where the Talking Heads went to school. Ellie nephew is the head of the Rhode Island Historical Society and he met us and took us around as well. It pays to be hooked up and connected!

Sarah, Mary, Tot, Ellie and Bud, head of RI Historical Soc.

My favorite thing of all was when Mary stopped this student Sarah (far left in photo) because she was wearing a "Horace Mann School" t-shirt as this was where Ellie went to school when she was a kid. Sarah is now pre-med at Brown. We had such a delightful conversation on the pavement wonderfully charming co-ed! And it takes Marys of the world to make that happen. She reminds me of my dad that way. Good for them! And Mary is hooking Sarah up with a doctor to intern with in Jamestown.

Moral of the story:

It always pays to wearing writing of some sort on your clothing!

Community Prep, Providence, RI

Tot, Mary's excellent husband and bard/wry wit of Jamestown, took us to Providence to visit the Community Preparatory School where he serves proudly on the board.

Here is their
Mission Statement

While serving students from across Rhode Island, Community Preparatory School's primary commitment is to minority and low-income students from Providence. The school's goal is to help its students succeed in college preparatory high school programs and to become community leaders. Moreover, the school is committed to developing and sharing its vision, programs, and resources with the local neighborhood as well as the broader educational community.

We got to tour classrooms and meet the students. It was so mind-blowingly excellent and progressive. The kids were so polite and genuinely nice. I was very impressed.

We stood and observed in a math class and I had tears roll down my cheeks. This blew me away. I guess from serving a month recently on a grand jury where it felt like there was no hope, here we were standing in a room that was chock FULL of hope. I cried because I was hopeful and that was amazing.

Kudos to Tot and the staff and faculty at Community Prep.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Rhode Trip!!

Ellie and I drove to Rhode Island to celebrate her and daughter and my friend Mary's birthday. We stayed in Mary's town of Jamestown. It is right on the water and is stun-ning! We had a fantastic meal and GREAT cake made by a local baker.

Jamestown as seen through mesh.

Mary's excellent cake.

Mary and Ellie

The whole gang.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

My Song for Today

ARTIST: Stephen Sondheim
TITLE: Agony

[Into the Woods]

Did I abuse her or show her disdain
Why does she run from me
If I should lose her how shall I regain
The heart she has won from me
Agony, beyond power of speech
When the one thing you want
Is the only thing out of your reach

High in her tower she sits by the hour
Maintaining her hair
Blithe and becoming and frequently humming
A light-hearted air
Agony, far more painful than yours
When you know she would go with you
If there only were doors
Agony, all the torture they teach
What's as intriguing or half so fatiguing
As what's out of reach

Am I not sensitive, clever
Well-mannered, considerate
Passionate, charming
As kind as I'm handsome
And heir to a throne?
You are everything maidens could wish for
Then why "No"?
Do I know?
The girl must be mad
You know nothing of madness
'Til you're climbing her hair
And you see her up there as you're nearing her
And all the while hearing her
Agony, misery, though it's different for each
Always ten steps behind, always ten feet below
And she's just out of reach
Agony, that can cut like a knife
I must have her to wife

High in a tower like yours was but higher
A beauty asleep
All 'round the tower a thicket of briar
A hundred feet deep
Agony, no frustration more keen
When the one thing you want
Is a thing that you've not even seen

I've found a casket entirely of glass
No, it's unbreakable
Inside, don't ask it, a maiden alas
Just as unwakeable
What unmistakable
Agony, is the way always hard
She has skin white as snow
Did you learn her name, no
There's a dwarf standing guard
Agony such that princes must weep
Always in thrall 'most to anything almost
Or something asleep

If it were not for the thicket
A thicket's no trick, is it thick
It's the thickest
The quickest is pick it apart with a stick
Yes but even one prick, it's my thing about blood
Well it's sick
It's no sicker than your thing about dwarfs
Dwarves are very upsetting
Not forgetting
The task's unachievable, mountains unscalable
If it's conceivable but unavailable
Agony, misery, woe not to know what you miss
While they lie there for years
And you cry on their biers
What unbearable bliss
Agony that can cut like a knife
Ah well, back to my wife

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

NINE the Movie

Tonight on the stage on 57th Street in New York were three Oscar-winning actors, an Oscar-nominated Director and a guy who won a bunny drawing contest in grade school. What wattage!

I had the good fortune to be able to interview Daniel Day-Lewis, Rob Marshall, Dame Judi Dench and Marion Cotillard after a screening of the movie NINE. Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz and Kate Hudson were scheduled to show, but could not make it. Still it was an amazing night and they were all courteous, game and great. Because of the subject matter of the film I asked the all their "hooker names" (your first pet's name + the street where you grew up) and they all complied so well! Marion's was all in French of course!

Rob Marshall is modeled after a guy I want to be: calm, nice and so smart.

Me, Daniel Day-Lewis, Rob Marshall, Judi Dench, Marion Cotillard

But the best part of all was having my own Fellini cast of characters here tonight who have shaped my life in New York to share the evening with me. It was just great knowing they were there. A perfect evening of mega stars and mega pals.

All I needed was a Vespa and some Italian hunk in sunglasses waiting for me outside to take me a casa.

Pat, Sean, Sue, Ellie, Me, John.

Dino and Michael and Paralyzed with Fear

Dino and Michael

Met my pal Dino from LA who is here on Ad Web business. I haven't seen him in over two years and he hears bagpipes playing the park and calls me. Whatever it takes. (It wasn't me playing. Who is on my turf?!)

We met at Joe, The Art of Coffee on Columbus (Yes, Virginia, there is one by my new place in the West Village.)

Dino brought his grade school friend Michael with him. (Michael is now all grown up, it is just where they met in time.) What a nice guy. He is a musical theatre composer/writer. Did I get that right, Michael? One friend went to movies in LA and the other to the theatre in New York. (Why was "Merrily We Roll Along" already written?!)

It was a hoot. Topics covered: New York, LA, Interactive as the NEW term for digital, emerging, new media, Glendale, DV8 and being paralyzed with fear.

It was a comprehensive morning.