Monday, May 31, 2010

And on your left, Obsession...

You ever think about someone you don't want to think about because it causes pain and then you are out and about and hit all the spots that remind you of that person as if you are on a bus tour of their life?  (Gosh, I hope you do, because I always do and I don't want to feel like a freak out here!)

Like "Oh here is the place where we had that pizza and then right on this corner we kissed when that guy was arguing with this wife and here is the Moroccan restaurant where he said that thing that I thought meant....."

Anyway, I had one of those days and it sucked, but I know from many previous obsessions that it passes. 

Like gallstones.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sweet Smell of Success

Sunday night alone in the big city. A dog, a cat, me. The city shimmering at dusk outside my window. I pulled out the DVD "Sweet Smell of Success" as I had never seen it and it was wonderful. Great music, great lines, great acting and just awful people!

But the thing I loved the most was it was shot on the streets of New York. Real New York. Not backlot Burbank New York. And in 1957! Times Square never looked better. Burt Lancaster's character lived in the famous Brill Building which is still there. I am continually seduced by jazzy B & W New York. There were a bunch of scenes at 21 with its figures outside which still stand today. Fancy.  I will go there someday.

It was all a rush and I loved it.

Then I took my teeth out and went to bed. Alone. In the big, mean city.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Bridge of Sighs, Chelsea New York

This bridge I know little about, but it connects the Chelsea Market to something else and the lights inside change color! 

Friday, May 28, 2010

I Love New York #2498

This young, freshly married couple were on the A train taking their wedding photos with a photographer friend. I asked if I could take one as well.  I wish I took a picture of her faux Swarovski-encrusted 5 inch spiked shoes.  But it was just a fun collective moment in our car. 

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Sex and the City 2

I guess it warrants writing about this film here since the series is so iconically seemingly "New York."  I went with friends to the 10pm screening opening night in Chelsea. The demo was clear: single straight women, gay guys, women with poor unsuspecting boyfriends. 

I ended up just a poor unsuspecting single gay guy. 

Where the series covered in a very over the top, but fun way, the lives of 4 young single women trying to make it in New York,  this film had 3 of four of the leads married and two dealing with kids.   (No offense readers, but who wants to see that?!)

It was dreadful and leaden and just long and BAD.  No amount of beading could save this film from its meandering hopelessness. Talk about lost in the desert (The women go to Abu Dhabi - the new Palm Springs.)

Sarah Jessica Parker is a producer on the series and she had some really bad, haggard shots. Let's face it we are all getting older, but still there is proper lighting and angles. Especially when you are a producer.  Barbra Streisand would never have allowed it.

I did see Michael Patrick King, the writer/director, in the health food store on 6th Avenue last week.  I wonder what he was thinking.

I could go on, but then I would be as endless as the film itself.   As I wrote on my Facebook, this film was not "Sex and the City" but more "Spanks and Self Pity." 

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

6th Street Kitchen

As one of the most oft-read blogs in New York (remember: create your own perception!),  I am a go-to guy for plugging what is hot and new in this town.

After my appearance at the Producer's Guild party, Ron and I headed to the East Village to the former sight of the popular OG Restaurant.  Chris Genoversa who was co-owner of the shuttered (and wonderful) Pan-Asian bistro has opened an easy-going yet lovely comfort food emporium in the same space called 6th Street Kitchen.

The name and the food are straight forward.  It is the kind of place you "pop in" to to have a burger or a Chorizo Manchego Slider with Aioli!  (Now that sounds amazing! I want that the next time I am in.)

Chris is an affable and easy-going fella who is excited about his new venture.   It was great to talk to him about it like we were neighbors chatting over the fence.  The staff is youthful, the food is comfortable, yet inventive, but not precious.

I loved LOVED the Deviled Eggs with Lardon and the Calabrese Pork and Veal Meatballs.  The brownie with coffee ice cream really hit the spot.  Excellent coffee too.

I will be back.

"I Want to be a Producer..."

Ron and I were at the Producer's Guild's "Night of the Producer" event tonight. It was a conversation with Denis Leary and Jonathan Demme.   I love them both and they were great together.  Denis Leary is really a brilliant writer and actor.  I love, love "The Ref" and "Rescue Me" and "The Job."  Jonathan Demme is an Oscar winning director.  Not only did he direct "Silence of the Lambs' but also probably my all time fave concert film "Stop Making Sense" featuring The Talking Heads, on of my fave bands.

This was held at theatre in the Scholastic offices on Broadway.  Yes, Scholastic from your youth - Clifford the Big Red Dog and, of course, Harry Potter. There was a FABU reception afterwards on the rooftop. Of course I should have had my camera, but imagine a southern Manhattan downtowny view with water towers and sky scrapers of yore.  Sort of like a David Letterman background.  It was amazing. 

Emma "Friggin'" Lazarus

I walking in my neighborhood minding my own business and passed by 18 W. 10th Street and lo and behold Emma Lazarus lived there!  We could have borrowed sugar, kvetched, dated brothers. Wow.

For those of you who may think she is the brand name behind a line of skin care products, she is not. She is the poet who wrote the lines at the base of the Statue of Liberty:

"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

I wonder if she would have to wait in those huge ferry lines to go see her work today?  I bet she would have made a good Upper West Side therapist.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

US Census

As a semi-professional US Census Enumerator, I ask a lot of questions. Like "Are you Male or Female?" Or "What is your race and don't say Hispanic because we're not accepting that this year." But one of the questions I get asked most of often by people in deference to all my training and knowledge on this job is, "Hey man, have you seen that Christopher Walken sketch on SNL?" It always warms me when people see beyond the professionalism and seriousness of what I do and know I am a kidder at heart.

I have hundreds of doors to knock on after I speak to you, but I always have time for a Christopher Walken question.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Caffe Ferrara

As touristy and overrun as Little Italy can be, it is the closest to Christmas and a state fair as you can get if you need a quick fix of either.  And stepping into Ferrara for a coffee and cannoli is just living.  Touristy or no. 

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Top 3 Favorite New York Foods

My friend Lana took me to Barbuto last night in the West Village/Meatpacking District and I had Jonathan Waxman's signature roast chicken that was SO good I imagined myself finishing an article for the New Yorker and sending it to my editor and then strolling down to Barbuto and sitting at the bar and eating this thing alone to celebrate.

No, I cannot just eat a chicken, I seemingly have to publish an article and walk to deserve this level of succulency.  It was divine.

This made me think: Ahoy! I have a New York Top 3 foods piece in the making.

Here are my Top 3 New York Foods to date. (not in any order)

1.  JW Signature Roast Chicken at Barbuto

2.  Sheeps’ Milk Ricotta with sea salt and herbs at Locanda Verde 

Eating this was a meal in itself. It was a textural, sublime, heavenly moment.  You can publish an article and eat this too. Or write an article while eating it.  Or just sit there and gaze and eat this and feel all good about life.  Your pick. 

3. Chocolate Chip Cookie at Jacques Torres

This cookie is by far one of the best I have ever had. There are bagel wars and pizza wars and cookie wars and this is one of the victors in town I declare.  They serve it room temp or warmed.  Amazing.  And with many locations you can have a private moment with the dough cradling chocolate piece of heaven all over town.  Forget cupcake wars and surrender to this cookie.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

View from my Roof

Farmer's Market - Union Square.

I walk by bison and lamb (dead but treated well in life)  and eggs that were allowed to roam free.  I see peonies and radishes as large as an elephant's eye and apples bursting with colors as if plucked from a painter's palette.  And think "Someday I should shop in the morning and host a dinner party with my bounty in the evening."  Then I buy a muffin made in New Jersey 4 hours ago and get past the notion. Ah, city life and its bounty.

Friday, May 21, 2010


My friend Jeff explains where we are in Brooklyn to me. The knife is Manhattan, the fork is Queens and the spoon is Brooklyn. Where he is pointing is CLEARLY Sunset Park.

St. Vincent's Hospital

St. Vincent's Hospital has been a block away from where I live for 160 years and now it is closed due to mismanagement and the economy.  There are no other hospitals in this area to serve this community. Sad, sad, sad.

This was the hospital that treated the Titanic survivors and those injured in 9/11.  It was also a major AIDS treatment center at the height of the epidemic. 

It is now a shrine.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Night and the Census

As a semi-professional enumerator in this decennial census, my job is get out and get people counted.  These people tend to be all sorts of places least of which is home.   

In terms of being counted, New York City is a different beast as it is all about walls and buzzers and mistrust and privacy and "if you ain't delivering Chinese or pizza I gonna shoot ya." 

I go by in the day and early evening, but New Yorkers, if they are home tend to be home around 9pm.  This is when to catch this rarest of beasts, the at home New Yorker. Then you have to get them to let you in. 

This is where my seductive buzzer dance and giving good intercom comes in.  I flash my badge and my #2 pencil and soon you tell me if you are Hispanic or not.  You tell me your gender and we've just met.  You tell me if you rent or own - something every New Yorker seems to ask anyway.   And I keep it all private. Your race is just between you and me, buddy.

I have to say people (who answer) are really nice and it is such a joy to get out there and work. 

I want to count all of you!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


I applied for another job yesterday on-line. One that I could do no problem. I have the experience, etc. The good thing about it was it would take me back "over the walls of the castle" and back to work with bennies and a shot at moving up.  Plus it was a place I wouldn't mind working. They gotta hire me. 

And since I am from the "What Would Lucy Do?" school of getting ahead. When she climbs a wall or whatever to get to William Holden, I use all my contacts to find the decision maker and get right to that person.  Certainly impressive.

I did all that and got this back:

Hi Steadman, (not my real name)
Thanks for your interest in our open position.  I have reviewed your resume and qualifications and unfortunately believe that you are over-qualified for the position we are looking to fill.  Thanks again for your interest and best of luck to you.

Chauncy  (not his real name)

"unfortunately believe." That is rich.  The way I did with the Catholic Church all these years? The way I did when Lacy Peterson went missing?  I need to take one of my anti-bitter pills. 

What would Lucy do now?  Would she re-do her resume so it matches what they were looking for even though it is lies?  Would she get botox?  Would she just marry William Holden and not worry about a job? Or would she just go in a different direction?  And if she did what is that?

I am going to say it and I say it quick, like the removal of a band-aid - I cannot get arrested in the this town.   (That cannot be said for LA, but that is another story...) 

Afterward I got an email that my star panelist on a panel I am producing is backing out.  Then my unemployment ended and finally they head of my pipe band wrote me an email with some ultimatum about making practice or else.

I am at rock bottom. This is the part in the movie where the protagonist gets divine inspiration and ends up with the top job and in bed with a young Harrison Ford. 

Or he just stands there as the conveyor belt goes faster and faster and faster and tilts his head back like Lucy and goes "WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!"

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

"There's Nothing Sexier Than a Lapsed Catholic"

This quote is from Woody Allen's Alice.  If that is true, I am Brad Pitt turning in his collar as he leaves the seminary! 

I had never seen this film and watched it tonight.  It is raining outside and I am full of the cold and what could be better than to be on the couch under a blanket with the cut-out skyline of Manhattan out my window as I watch a Woody Allen film shot in New York?  Perfection. 

I really, really liked it a lot.  It hit some of my themes. I shan't get into them.

I remember seeing Hitchcock's "Rear Window" at an arthouse cinema in San Francisco in 1983 and Mamet's "Glengarry Glenross" at the Curran Theatre in SF with my dad in 1985.  Those were two moments in my life where I felt inspired to write and create and actually thought it was possible.

Tonight was the same.  So it was 25 years later, so what.  (Alice wanted to be a writer, but she went to India to work with Mother Theresa instead.  MT is dead so I will have to write.) 

Tonight was perfect and I was perfect it in it. 

Even if like Alice, I have to lose 10 pounds....

Martine, à tout à l'heure. Okay?

Skipper and I walked Martine to the subway.

Martine will submerge and come out somewhere in Connecticut.  I will miss her.  It was a joy to have her. 

New York is always enhanced by those who come to visit and have that light of excitement in their eyes. I feed off of that. I don't suck it out like a vampire, rather it reignites my own fire for New York. 

(I am sick and stupid, but happy.)

I thank Martine for the great chats and that smile and the honesty. I feel inspired and challenged,  and... re-lit. I hope we see each again soon. 

But where?

Oh, and I think Skipper misses her too.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Hopes and Dreams and Visions

I have been back in New York just over a week and I have really tried to just get back into action.  And then I got landed with this dreadful cold.  I had real plans for today.  I have bagpipe practice tonight and I planned to blow my pipes at Pier 54 as I usually do. I just started as a US Census Enumerator and I planned to get some hours in counting people.  I was going to go to MOMA with Martine.

Dashed all. Woah is me.  Sean gave me some roomie/friend tough love and here I sit, frustrated, restless, anxious and sick.  I see all the other kids playing outside and I cannot.

But this cough and could are doozies. 

Instead of accomplishment, participation and earning money, I am under a blanket watching Rebecca.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


My friend Martine said the only reason why she was coming to New York was to make it into my blog.

I believe her.

I suspect there are many others like her.

Well, this lovely lady has made it.  She is "blogworthy." She is a TOPIC and TAGGED in "Manhatin."

Martine and I have known each other since the heady (meaning lots of boozing good times) San Francisco daze and then she and her husband Adam put me up when I first moved to LA to become a writer (meaning get an assistant job.) We all lived in LA for a long while until I moved EAST.  It was so sad to say goodbye.  We cried.

And here I am having Martine staying at my swank Village pad! It is so exciting.  I think we have that friendship where 12 years pass and the first thing you say is ""oh and then she..." as if the sentence no longer needed starting.

Had breakfast at Cafe Gitane at the Jane Hotel with Cheline and Sean.  Cheline texted the owner in Paris and got us a table during the packed brunch scene. Quite amazing.  This again is in the hotel where the survivors of the Titanic were put up.  (At the risk of sounding snarky I bet their waitress was nicer.)

We had great day of walking and chatting and loving life, no, valuing life.  A day of valuing life.  It was great.

Saw the Renaissance Street Singers perform.

And hung out in Washington Square Park.  Should go here more.

This evening we both cried while dining at Picolo Angolo on Hudson Street. It was perfect.  Right out of a movie.  She was played by Michelle Pfeiffer and I was, of course, by some dreamy intellectual actor. Oh and we laughed.  Actually we laughed and cried.  Laughing and crying I find is best when New York is your backdrop.  You imagine Henry James and Edith Wharton laughed and cried here.

Oh and I hacked because I am now officially sick.  But still having Martine visit is a ray oh sunshine.  A cough drop and tea with honey.  A Kleenex box with aloe. 

I hope she comes back so we can laugh and cry some more.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

My good pal Cheline is in town from Austin for business and I met up for a West Village /Chelsea adventure.  After all these years we still never run out of inanity to say to each to other. THAT, my friends is a relationship.   What a great day.

We brunched at Cafe Cluny on West 4th and had great coffee and food. Cheline even walked out with their homemade granola. (This time she paid for it.)

We walked on the Highline and dropped down into Chelsea to see the Andy Goldsworthy show at the
Gallerie Lelong.

It was a quick duck into the space age Comme des Garçons store on W. 22nd to apply unisex cologne before walking to The Frying Pan on the Hudson.  This is a GREAT place for drinks and burgers on a glorious day in NYC.  

We then had a wonderful lunch at The Park on 10th Avenue.  Another place I had never been to and suggested by an out of towner and I loved it.  Such a lovely setting and good prices. We even had wonderful service. The pancakes looked good, but I had the tuna niçoise instead!  Yay, me! But they do give you a complementary loaf of banana bread with butter. I had some.

Then a stroll through the Chelsea Market which I love more and more.   Now that I have stopped comparing it to the Ferry Building Marketplace in San Francisco. (Nothing beats it.)

We passed by Frank Gehry's place and some other architectural wonderments.

Afterward, coffee at the Jane Hotel where the Titanic Survivors stayed...

We then met Sean and Skipper along the river walk and walked home. 

Another perfect day in New York City.  Gosh, I love it here...

Friday, May 14, 2010

Viet Cafe

Ate with Cheline at Viet Cafe in Tribeca.   It was very good Vietnamese food I thought, being an expert on such things.  If you mix chicken, shrimp, lime, lemongrass and peanuts I am your man.  I love this kind of food.  I think Vietnamese is the new Thai, but I thought that for a while and I am sure I am not alone, so I guess it is not so new. So you really didn't hear it here first.

But you did hear this here first:  Albania is the new Croatia. 

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Bagels in the Gutter

If New York produced country western music, this would SO be a song title.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Census Training - Mormon Church Style

I am in the Church of Latter Day Saints on Columbus doing census training.  This a place that one usually protests in front of, not goes into.  And inside it is all nice and clean and bland.  Like Utah.

There are loads of pretty white, tidy-beard Jesus paintings all over the place with Joseph Smith Mormonian overtones.  It seems nice, but you are creeped at the same time.  The same way I felt when I was in Temple Square in Salt Lake City.

As if that weren't odd enough we are training in the multi-propose room where they put on Brigham Young knows what kind of plays and they play basketball.  The din in there is incredible as there are several groups in various pockets being trained at once so you cannot hear a thing and THEN they scheduled OPERA SINGER AUDITIONS right next store.  Someone is belting an aria while 4 crew leaders yell out about what to do if someone is away in the military but lives in the housing unit most of the year.  It was crazy.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Giant's Causeway - New York City

I walk by these old bits of pier along the Hudson River whenever I am down here to play my bagpipes and they always remind me of the Giant's Causeway in Ireland.  I know they are nothing like, but let's just say that for me they are evocative.

And the real deal:

Monday, May 10, 2010

Back in the Neighborhood.

Going away affords one distance on one's take it for granted surroundings.  I just got in last night and this afternoon I walked by my local fountain (doesn't everyone have one?).  For the winter the water was stopped and these sort of beautiful reeds were put in to create this feather look.  I can't explain it because I am jet lagged.

Well, I come by today and here is the flow o water and I am thrilled! I feel a sense of welcome back and good energy ahead! 

Hello old fountain!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Vienna Waits for You.

My 13 readers have all but left.  My blog is in tatters. For over 2 years I have never missed a day of blogging until now.  I was on a ship and the internet costs were crazy.  Much like the Oscars or the Olympics during the war years, I had to sign off.   But I have now gone back and plugged in what I can. So if you like have a wee gaze back.

Now I am back and more confused than ever.  What am I blogging for? What is this blog about?  If you answer "Myself" and "Me" respectively I guess you would be right, but I say "Ouch.  Truth hurts.

Had a FANTASTIC trip with my friend Ellie through the Mediterranean and over the Alps ending in Vienna before heading home.    I saw so many incredible places.  Travel is more important to me than I previously thought.  It awakens me, I guess.

That having been said, coming back to New York awakens me too.  As if having a trial separation with a city I was married to, I realize I want to renew my vows.   The feeling of being back here is wonderful.  I love the buildings, the taxis, the steam, the bodegas and of course my apartment and my roommate and my step cat and dog.  

To be able to have breakfast in Vienna and go to sleep in New York is to be alive and fortunate. 

Even more so, to have totally enjoyed a trip and also be completely happy to be home is bliss.