Monday, December 27, 2010

Blizzard, New York City

Jeff and I came home from Christmas in Poughkeepsie.  We left early because, like everyone else, we heard a storm was a brewin'.  I immediately thought of a movie I had never seen  - "Twister"   But instead of racing from the eye of the storm we were driving into it. Still, Jeff thought of me as Helen Hunt and he as Bill Paxton.  This time I didn't argue as we had to make tracks.

As we rolled into Astoria to Jeff's, the flurries were not yet furies (I just made that up right here on this spot. Damn!) so we had time to shop for pork tenderloin with baby spinach in sesame oil.  What. A. Relief.

What a night. My first blizzard. I was so excited. As caramel swirls of Haagaen Daz Caramel Cone reached my lips I could see swirls of sideways snow passing by the window.

We downed two movies and some maple cookies and headed for a long winter's nap.  As I drew the sash and pulled open the shudders in the morning, my wandering eyes saw a s*#t-load of snow!  I was in love. Again.

While Jeff's car was buried outside we had scrambled eggs and coffee and downed another Beverly Hills Housewives ON DEMAND. That Camille is doing my head in! But Kyle! I thought she had way more sense than to argue back, especially with a drunk psychic at the dinner party. Disaster of blizzard proportions in Malibu I tell you.

 It was time to say adios to Jeffy and head into the big city. I delighted in all the snow around me.

 Because I don't have to shovel or dig I love the snow and a good blizzard for me is a good thing.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Pipes of Christmas Past

My friend Merri from California invited me to see her perform in "The Pipes of Christmas" at the Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church at 73rd.  It was SOLD OUT and got listed as one of the MUST DO Christmas things to do in New York.  Well I did it. 

First, what a venue.  The place was decked like an Upper East Side deb and just shone. 

And the show was wonderful. A lovely blend of pipes and organ and song and brass.  I think I could be moved by a kazoo in this church, but wow, this was moving. And Merri is such a lovely person it filled me with even more joy.  Joy, I tell you, Joy! 

 After the concert there was a reception with Robert Burns' "Address to a Haggis"  It was wonderful. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

You Better, You Better La Bête

What a fantastic New York night.  A night where I am in the 1940s and the city is buzzing and I am a three dot journalist...Met Cooper and Paul-Louis in from LA...Jeff got to meet them which I loved.  Cooper and PL have a great deal to do with why Jeff and I even met...Job and all.  We went to the Music Box Theatre to see our friend (well theirs and he knows who I am and he is totally a lovely guy) David Hyde Pierce in La Bête.  A modern Molieresque play all in couplets.  Harder sell than "Cop Rock"

I digress.  I really enjoyed the play and David was excellent. Other David and Charlie met us there.  I adore both of them and it had been a long while since I had seen them...Sitting in the row back were Cooper and PL's neighbors from LA.  Small world.  And Jeff and I saw our friends Henry, Peter and Charles... How does that always happen here?

The core group went backstage and I introduced Jeff to David and we hung out for a while. I peed in the same toilet as Lionel Barrymore, I imagined. Or at least Bert Lahr... Unfortunately David could not make dinner as planned and the 8 of us went to Orso for a late apres theatre supper like they did in the old days in my mind  And next table over was Stockard Channing...Perfect...I wanted to tell her the last time I saw her (in that dreadful production of Pal Joey at Studio 54) was the night I got sick and got Bell's Palsy and Vertigo, but I think she might have taken it more wrong than historical...

Another grand night in Gotham.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


As my meagre cadre of fans of this blog know, I lost it about 5 months ago and stopped writing daily here for the first time in almost 3 years.

I have missed this forum, but could not get back into it.  I felt like a blogger stuck in a bog in a fog and my computer was just out of reach.  I could not bring myself to write here.  Part of it was depression and joy.  Both good writing moods! But I just could not.

I also wanted to start a new blog ABOUT SOMETHING! But that eludes me still. WHAT could I possibly be the expert on that I could write about and attach my blog to my Linked In and sell advertising and gather a HUGE following?  Food? Too many do it better.  New York City?  Maybe, but I would need an angle.  Fish out of water?  Nah.  Tucked away places?  I am not consistent enough and would probably steal from Time Out New York.   My take on NYC? Maybe, but I think I should be a celebrity first. Just Dunno.

But the more I work and ponder the more I realize I want to write professionally.  I have heard so often "the secret to writing is writing."  Of course I ignore that and use the procrastinator's mantra: "the secret to writing is doing research on writing and throwing money at it: computer, classes,

So I bought two books.  They are here at my beside. Bindings intact.  Apparently "the secret to reading is reading. "  They are "The Right to Wright"  by Julia Cameron.  Yes, Virginia, I still have permission issues and I am hoping this book gives me that.  The secret to writing is permission?   I also got "Eats, Shoots and Leaves" by Lynn Truss. A person I greatly respect who is not a writer, but a doctor and great procrastinator likes this book very much.

So now I have more books on writing, a blog that is aimless, and the desire to have the desire. 


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

67 Burger, Brooklyn

Just to make sure I could not jump up on stage at "The Hard Nut" and join in la danse I went to 67 Burger  some few paces away from BAM to have a burger, fries and a chocolate shake.  And I am working the Lose It App.  This was my daily take to be sure.

But what a great find.  67 Burger, if you are going to lose it over Lose It, is a great place to commit calorie crime.  The burger was perfection.

I may have this wrong, but New York is way more obsessed with burgers than California.  Way more into eating and talking about burgers.  There seem to be burger places everywhere and it is the default choice at every diner in town. "Burger deluxe (lettuce, tomato, fries) please."

The ordering process was somewhat confusing even though they have a Steps 1, 2, 3 ordering system.  But still it was not good.  And the woman taking the order at the register was not pleasant.  "Not pleasant" in the service business (aka "the USA") is just not acceptable.  She was not interested.  Just unpleasant. And I saw her be that way with others.  I did not leave a tip in her jar just because of her "dourosity."  Shame because the wait staff were great.

And that burger!  Excellent. So charbroiled and excellent served just with a wheezy, gasping "Moo" as I like it.  The milkshake (sadly the extra in the metal canister seems long gone) came in a generous pint class and was delish.  And the fries (too many) were adequate, but for me fine, but unmemorable.

I would go back.  I would eat a burger there again anytime  But I think I need to wait for 35 pounds to go off my body.  Perhaps I should walk to Brooklyn next time to go to 67 Burger.

Oh and they have that napkin dispenser on each table that operates like a tissue box and you use as many napkins as you would tissues crying over a breakup.

The Hard Nut

 My friend  Frank took me as his guest to see Mark Morris Dance Group's production of "The Hard Nut" at The Brooklyn Academy of Music, more familiarly known as BAM.
I had only seen the production on PBS many years ago and remember loving it, but just like basketball it is oodles better seeing it live.   For dance it is the live orchestra, the 3-D immediacy of it and the shared audience experience.  I love the packed lobby at BAM.  People everywhere.  Who are they all and how can I meet them? 
I love dance more than most things and I love the theatre and I love Christmas events and the chill and the lights and the bundling up and the letting go.

December is magical mostly.   And seeing this production made it moreso. Go see live dance where you are.  Anything.  Just go.  You will be amazed.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Cold and Magic.

Though we often think of magic as FIRE and SPARKLE and wands that ZAP things into frogs or bunnies, magic occurs in the cold for me.  A sunset on a beach is stunning and pretty, but walking in the snow in a large city with Christmas lights everywhere and hearing the silence all around, that is magic.  Being under loads of covers with a lover while the temps outside are in the 20's, that is magic.  Skiing down a hillside and knowing that you are forced to be in the present and one with the mountain, that is magic.  There is no time to create TO-DO list whilst careening! 

Noticing people scurrying and kids throwing snowballs and Currier and Ives-style sleading in Central Park. That is SO magic.  I have seen it and I wept.  I feel alive in the cold. I feel exhilarated with the chill and the promise of warmth and home and hearth and soup.  SOUP is magic. It just is!  Lovers are magic.  A tree with lights to me is simple joy.  I feel so blessed to have experinced all of this.  And being alive is magic in itself. 

Bundle up.  Put on gloves and a hat and a scarf and notice things.  Really notice. Celebrate the magic.  Take a lover. Get some soup!  Marvel at lights.  Wonder.  Ski.  Sled.  Watch the snow outside the window of the Met. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Drone on....

Today I like being a drone in New York City. By that I mean one of the many ants who funnel down the subway stairwells and huddle onto a sardine cansiter of a train car and reappear out of some other stairwell elsewhere to scurry into a building, flash a card and pack into an elevator to finally have some individuality in a cubicle overlooking a sea of other buildings with other individuals in cubes.

"Another Hundred People Just Got Off of the Train."  Indeed.

By droning lately I feel part of the Manhattan (wait for it)...zeitgeist.  I feel like saying to my subway neighbor who has her purse pressing into my thigh, "Hey neighbor, I commute too!  Isn't it great?!"  But she is listening to her ipod and reading a kindle. But I know, I KNOW we would have a great conversation if we met and her story of getting here to NYC would make me laugh and she would like mine. That is comforting.

Today right after we got to the 28th Street stop and newbies boarded, I heard "Hey Joe!!"  I tell you New York City is a small town. It happens to me all the time. And I am a real newbie. 

So today I will work in my cube and try to make eye contact with someone from another department in the break room and regardless of whether I am successful or not I will relish this day as part of the hive that is this buzzing, vibrant, thrilling Manhattan.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Put Up a Parking Lot

Coming home from band practice on Monday night on the Southern State Parkway.   Eddie driving. Me looking at my iphone and tapping on it like an obsessive monkey.  The traffic comes to a halt.  And that is where it stayed.

Usually there is a halt, then inching, then more inching and then you see that someone in a really short skirt is standing by while her boyfriend is changing a tire and that was the whole mishegas.  But this night was different.  There was no movement, like a cadaver.   Finally some alpha car turns its engine off and eventually we all do.  People get out of their cars to "see what they can see" and it looks like the setting of a sci-fi film. 

I step out and look around. I see nothing but more and more cars all dark like we are in the Hollywood Bowl stacked parking.  I call Jeff.  We chat. He is in a comfy bed in a hotel in Chicago. I am standing indefintely on the Soithern State Parkway about to write a ballad about the whole thing.

Eddie is in the car talking to his girlfriend.  When he gets off the phone I decide we need a photo so I can immediately Facebook it as if sending out a Bat Signal to be rescued as this incident has been totally ignored on the traffic report on the radio and we are in something with the dimensions of true carnage. 

 Why we are smiling I do not know. 

Finally the police have everyone REVERSE on the parkway and drive down all the wrong ways and wrong entrances and we get back to dry land. 

But now my 7 train is closed. Eddie drives me around like we are in the film AFTER HOURS and nothing.  The poor guy who has to get up and teach early in the morning finally just drives me all the way home to Manhattan. 

I get to bed at 1:30am.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

White Christmas. Swellegant!

Hello Folks.  INCHING back into blog writing.  I do miss it. And I miss YOU!

Tonight I had another "I Love this damn town where I live" moment.  Through my friend David in LA I was invited to Philippe Lamesch's art exhibit at the Luxembourg Consulate on Beekman Place.  Very, veddy posh address.  It is the former mansion of Irving Berlin.

It was absolutely bucketing rain when I left my temp job at the law firm. Since I do not seem to check, I had no idea to even bring an umbrella. And I certainly could not bring the one I bought just the other day for such an occasion as I left it in a friend's car. Where it would be safe and I dry I am guessing.  Nonetheless it settled down a bit and I made it across town to the swanky Beekman Place neighborhood.

Philippe is from Luxembourg but lives in Northern California.  We became Facebook friends before we actually met tonight.  So modern. What a lovely guy and talented.  It was a great event all around. He introduced me to two other of David's friends, Jim and Carlos.  We really hit it off and exchanged info. Carlos is even going to set me up with a work intro! How fantastic it is here!

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Best Night

OMG. I just had the best night. I go to my friend Ed's 40th birthday. And I say friend because he is, but we only met once a few months ago at an Anti-violence fundraiser.  (The pro-violence ones just gouge you at the bar, and the takeaway bags are shite.)  Anyway, he is the cousin of a good friend of mine and it turns out he is an animation writer (Emmy nominated) and we know a lot of people in common including his agent. Today he got off a cruise ship with his partner and his parents and then he has this party at a restaurant tonight which I missed but I came for the after party at their apartment (they are bi-coastal) and there is a huge grand piano in this place and loads of people and it is not huge, but it is just a blast. I knew only Jorge, his partne, and Jeff. Jorge is a terrific host and my seltzer water is never low in the glass.  We all get to talking and one of their friends has this condition where she can't forget anything. She remembers everything!  Like the weather on June 7, 1983.  She is going to be on 60 Minutes next month with 4 other people who have this "condition" (including Marylou Henner) and they are interviewed by Leslie Stahl.  Can't wait. She was so nice and patient and interesting.  Then a woman played this song that this guy sings about IKEA and her husband did voiceover work for Tippi Hedren and then we talked about speed dating and I explained how I met Jeff and about this small world story where his mother's best childhood friend was my mother's best high school friend.  There was this guy named Chance and I told him that my sister always wanted to name her son Chance, but when she grew up and had a son she named him Mitch.  He said Chance has been hard and he goes by his middle name David at restaurants because it is easier. And then I meet this woman who was in Alaska and Poland and is unemployed like me and we talk about spas in Arizona.  The two of us leave the party together and run into this poet Rives in the subway whom she knows and we talk about poetry and that he is big in the poetry world (who knew?! ) and  she was let go from TED and lives in Brooklyn and has no idea what she wants to do next, but she is funny as hell and pretty and I am convinced that she can do just about anything.  The we get to my stop and I leave.  Fin.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Cagney and Lacey Conundrum

Using "Cagney and Lacey" as an example of anything certainly dates one.  (But then why doesn't quoting Shakespeare date one?)

Thou digresseth too much...

Cagney and Lacey was cancelled in 1983 and there was such a huge letter writing campaign by viewers (Yes, Virginia, there was no email/internet) that CBS brought it back for 5 more successful years. 

As I mentioned I had thought to stop this blog as I wanted to go onto another as yet not thought up, more directed, more marketable, about something blog.

I got an outpouring of letters from my 13 readers and this helped convince me to keep going.  I have no idea if I will write every day as before, but I still want to talk about New York and New Media and New Me. 

Thank you for the input all.  And I value whatever else you got! 

Remember, however, I am only one man, and Cagney and Lacey were two.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Thank you, Peter Brown

It is a funny thing "giving up."  It can go many ways. Just when Al Pacino is about to give up the mafia life in Godfather III he is "dragged back in."  When Jimmy Stewart is about to jump off that bridge in "It's a Wonderful Life" and end it all, Clarence the Angel comes along and saves him from himself.

And just as I was about to throw away "Man.Hat.In" entirely after many years of daily posts I got a note from Peter Brown, author and writing instructor, whom I do not know from a farthing who said he liked my piece on The Irish American Historical Society. (Okay he didn't say he "liked it" he thanked me for my description of it, but still, SOMEONE READ MY BLOG and it had an effect. ) I was about to leap off the cyber bridge and Clarence in the form of Peter Brown saved me.   

I do not want to give up blogging. I do not want to give up being an "incfluencer" in my small way.  I want to get better at it and bigger at it. 

So thank you, Peter Brown, for pulling my keyboard from the ledge and finding me in Google search and reacting to something I wrote. 

"I love you old Irish American Historical Society!"

I am going to come back bigger and stronger and more focussed.

But on what? And when?

Dear 13 Readers

Since September 2007 I have written every single day on this blog. Then this past month I just started to flag and feel lost in where to go with it.  I really want to start a blog about something more specific, something more marketable that I could sink my teeth into and be an expert on.  Any ideas?  For some reason I think it will involve digital media and/or New York.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Rockland County Feis

The pipe band I play(ed) in became Eastern United States Pipe Band Champions in Grade 3 yesterday. I wasn't there.  I am only champion adjacent.  But I was really happy to hear it.

Today they competed at the Rockland County Feis and won by a landslide let's say.  They played really well. I was there. But on the sidelines.  I am having medical difficulties - I can't blow.  (Insert all your jokes here and let's move on.)

I could write a whole blog entry on the psychology of playing music and competition and group sports, etc.  There is something in my brain that cannot get on board at this moment. It was so odd being here today and being on the team, but not really.  No one made me feel not included except myself.  They really are a bunch of great people who are truly keen. I admire that.

I think everyone should have to check back in with themselves every 5 years to see they are still wanting to stay in their job, marriage, pipe band, city, blazer with the different-colored lapels, etc.  Sometimes we forget to check back in and sometimes we forget to leave.

I will always love the pipes, but I don't know if I can play with pleasure any more.  That is a though one to get my ahead around. Am I just having a hard 15 years or do I really not want to play anymore?

Oh, here is their winning performance:

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Census and Sensibilities

Hot as hell in NYC today.  Others are jumping in rivers and lakes and doing pagan dances around fire hydrants spaying water joyously.

I am sitting in a US Census meeting.  One fan. And it isn't me.  Drenched. My t-shirt looks like I entered a contest in a bar sponsored by Jagermeister.   There is droning about Form #49283XBF and the matter of the RUV-83DE project.   I just want my answer what do about the asshole doorman on 21st Street who is ruining my life. Instead I sit and fester and marinate.

Census work is not for the weak of heart. It is for the unemployed.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Thursday, July 15, 2010

From Hand Wringing to Hand Holding.

Holding hands in the movies should be the right of all people the world o'er.  Holding someone else's hand, I mean. 

Probably one of the lovliest things I have experienced in recent memory.

I looked down and noticed his hand in mine and all felt right with the world for that moment.  Except for the film, frankly.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Jimmy Webb

Went with my friend Ellie to see Jimmy Webb tonight as part of the wonderful River to River Festival that is put on every summer here in New York.  It is one of those corporate-sponsored free summer concert series that cities put on to keep middle-aged white people off the streets and out of trouble during the hot months.

I had never heard of Jimmy Webb but I found out he wrote "Up, Up and Away" and "MacArthur Park."  Wow.  A bajillion people recorded him and he was fantastic. I crashed into my BAFTA colleague Gillian who was sitting with Jimmy's wife.  Who knew?

Ellie and I then stole away for a fantastic dinner and post-game chat at The Palm in Tribeca.  Wow, what a summer night.  I didn't know I needed it, but I did.

Thanks, Ellie.

Up, Up and Away...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Limelight

Joni Mitchell wrote about paving paradise and putting up a parking lot and it was very strange to walk by the Limelight Marketplace on 6th Avenue and 20th Street in Chelsea.  I had read that they had turned this former church into a shopping arcade and wanted to just go in and see for myself. I got an odd vibration that was not spiritual.

The place is full of coffee and pasta and cute rubber rain boots and probably candles and some handmade $7 greeting cards, but no batik.  Lot of wee stalls that I will probably never need/use.  But that is me.  (If you want a tin of biscuits for $36 dollars or a handmade tailored shirt to get you over the hump until you finally get a job go here I guess. )

It was not weird because I use to worship here, but because I used to dance here!  Okay, I danced here once.

Long before it was a shopping arcade this deconsecrated church was a popular nightclub called The Limelight.  And long before I knew I was gay, I remember dancing here with my shirt off.  And this was long before I knew I should not dance with my shirt off ever.   It was full of disco music and sweaty men and probably Grace Jones.   Much like my ipod is today.

Now it sells gelato.  Which is far better than it being torn down for parking.

But boy looking up at the vaulted ceiling and remembering sipping a madras on a pew, I thought "What was I thinking?!"

Trader Joes Comes to Chelsea

As a California boy and one who went to university in Los Angeles, Trader Joe's and I have been together a long time. In fact my CA friends and I call it "Trader Gods" because we kind of worship it.  Moving to Manhattan was a SHOCKER when I found out there was only one on the ENN-TIRE, SEE-MENT island!  Now there is another and what a welcome sight.

I went in and marvelled at the widest aisles I have seen in years and the high ceilings and the no snaking lines throughout the store.  I will have affection for 14th Street, but I think Chelsea TJ's is my trophy wife.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Fire in the Hole

Loads of firetrucks came to my corner this afternoon. Smoke was billowing. Okay, really maybe just wafting. Frankly it was simply rising out of the grills coming from the subway below.  They sprayed and I think that did the trick.  Jaded new New Yorker that I am I didn't hang out long enough to find out.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

I am a CNN Talking Head. Finally

Last week I was playing my pipes along the Hudson River (or trying to play them - this is a related story to my PANIC attacks.) and this CNN van pulls over and a guy comes at me with a microphone and a cameraman. (How MANY erotic dreams have I had over and over about this very scenario?!  It so beats the dirty French maid or Caveman meets Octopus.  Have a shared too much? ) 

Anyway, it is Richard Roth and it seems he wants to interview me about Queen Elizabeth coming to New York to speak at the UN and tour Ground Zero.  I have to tell him I had no idea that the Queen is coming to New York.  He is nonplussed about my cluelessness and procedes to ask me quesitons about my heritage, my bagpipes, the Queen, why I am so scruffy and wearing an Iowa Hawkeyes t-shirt and how I could possibly be single and unemployed with my movie star looks and clear talent.

Okay he didn't ask me all those things, but this is what ended up in the piece - my queeny wave.


Thanks Sean for shooting and editing this with iphone 4.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Panic in Penn Station

I am in Penn Station waiting to take the train to band practice on Long Island.  There are people swirling around like "Another 100 people just got offa the train" and my heart goes into my mouth, my head starts spinning, I feel like the right side of my face is falling back to January 2009 levels of Bell's Palsy sunkeness and I realize I cannot get on that train.  I stagger like a drunk man holding a bagpipe case (this is not an unusual sight at all in Glasgow Central) and I make it back to the subway and home.  Shaken. And stirred.

New York is getting under my skin.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Day & Night - Pixar Short

Sean and I went to see "Toy Story 3" on a hot summer night in New York.  They showed this short before the film (which is Pixarific, by the way) called "Day and Night."  It was initially confusing to see where they were going with it and then it blossomed into just a lovely, lovely short. Wow. A major achievement.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Fireworks Along the Hudson

Got home to New York to watch the awesome fireworks from my roof.   I think this is the first time I have been in the city for this. Which seems impossible, but I think it is true.  Loved it.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Snow Globes

Getting on an airplane at LaGuardia and this was the sign. 

My friend Pat wrote on my Facebook wall when I posted this: "If they don't let us take our snow globes on airplanes, the terrorists have won."

Just sucks for all those tourists who carry on and collect snow globes.  Oh and the snow globe industry.  That has got to suck.  But there is a silver lining. You can buy snow globes in the airport stores once you have passed the security check. 

My globe is always half full. 

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Central Park

I went to visit my friend Mary in hospital and passed through the northeast part of Central Park.  This is the part I am in the least.  What a beautiful day out and what a great feeling it was to be part of it. And the icing was seeing Mary recovering so nicely.  All is well today in my New York.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Kids Are All Right

Went to a screening of "The Kids Are All Right" tonight.  Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo and the director Lisa Cholodenko were there for a Q &A afterwards.  I cannot remember a film I liked so much in recent history.  It was really well done and did not go to the eye-rolling areas it could have.  It was so good in fact that it made me miss Los Angeles!  That is really saying something.