after the flood

Cutting to the chase, the Goose is ok after the flooding. Bill went out and checked yesterday, and while the water came well up, it didn't get in—to his river house or mine.  Below are two videos I made of the flooding in 2011. The really big one (that DID get into the Goose) was in, I believe, 92 or 93. Anyway, when I leave next year I am going to stash some handy sandbags.


now at whole foods

Calm-a-Mama (and calmababy, calmayourself and etc) is now carried in New England's   Whole Foods stores. Different products (Focus, Sleep, Calm, Teeth and Tummy) are carried in different parts of the stores. Go into your local Whole Paycheck store and hunt some down or ask for some, if they don't have any. We want to make this a groundswell to roll out nationwide. Many of the first stores have reordered several times. I can personally attest that the Sleep drops work.


back to the big city

and the skyline keeps changing


God bless us every one!

YouTube Video

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


letters to santa

One could write

Two went to the Post Office

Three dropped the letters in the mail.

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sometimes you get the breaks

So we were walking up the subway stairs and who should be walking down but famous fotog Ferrato, en route from a radio show (air date to follow). Sometimes you catch a break an run into a friend from the other end of New York City.



Bubba Richard and Bubba Merrell came to the Big City all the way from Alabama. Well, they aren't really bubbas, they are actually my cousins. One of them is even lactose intolerant. He used to be gluten-free but has lost the faith. Too bad, I wanted him to have a call-in show. Anyway, we went from the Upper White Side all the way downtown to the Staten Island ferry, with a stop in Chinatown for lunch. And then we rode the Seaglass carousel, which was a trip, and took the subway home. A big outing.
  Most of my friends and family can't believe I went along as the native guide.


as promised: the roundup

Well, one former classmate of Hannah's at Hunter did the musical of the year, Hamilton, and the other is the scumbag who buys drugs and raises their prices. I think he might be crazy, as you can read here about his recent arrest for fraud.
Another Hunter alum—who did not go to the dark side—Hannah's best hs bud Mira Silverman, has a child's herbal reader, Angelica to Zingiber for sale.
And speaking of A to Z, here's a guide to food in Rhode Island from Allie's Donuts to Zeppoles
Speaking of childhood friends, bluegrass musician Paul Brown (you may recognize his voice as NPR's news reader from Washington), has a show Across the Blue Ridge being aired January 2 and 3 and via podcast on West Virginia station WFDD. Supposed to be fab.
 Chien-Chi Chang's Jet Lag was selected as one of the year's top photo books by Time.
And speaking of photo books, Jamie's new best friend in France, Louis Stettner, has a book out of vintage pictures of the old Penn Station.
Speaking of magazines—you didn't know there were any left, did you?—here is a selection of the covers of the year.
Speaking of photographers,  Christina Amanpour CNN series called Conflict features Donna Ferrato. You can watch the series on the Atlantic. Also, if you are in Venice, you can catch her work in "Through Women's Eyes," along with that of Yoko Ono. Here is a NYT review of the show.
And speaking of old friends, my college bf, filmmaker Wesley Strick, and his wife made a short film about a Planned Parenthood clinic which won some awards. They put it up on line after the Planned Parenthood bombing in Colorado, and you can see Watching, Waiting here. He is also a writer for Amazon's series The Man in the High Castle, which has been renewed.
And speaking of violence, here is a map  How Many People Have Been Shot Near You? And another, How Many Hate Groups Are Based Near You?  And while we're at it, you are seven times more likely to be killed by a conservative extremist than a Muslim terrorist. I am just being nice not to say that most of them call themselves Christians. I know, Merry Christmas!
However, in better holiday news, Robert Bobrow's last Huffington Post column explains why low fat diets are bad for you. So enjoy the festive boards!
As for the rest of my roundup, I can't even. . .


not quite winter in the city

98 in its glory

Presents to wrap
The temperature is still the same as my age, but Christmas is almost here. The evening light—at 4 pm!—is amazing. For some reason, maybe the lack of light, I have been staying up until like 3 ayem and sleeping in. However, last night there was a reason: The Household Chef prepared dinner for four. He made duck breast with cherry sauce, roasted brussel sprouts with grapes, and it was finished with a fine Camebert and amazing baguette from Otra Rubia.And cupcakes!
The Chef at work; Peter in the trenches


coming attractions

There are a bunch of links I want to put up. Maybe later today.


selfies at 65

The Jewel in the Lotus, August 15, 2015
This is not the Facebook version. I am not telling my faithful readers (all  20 of you) anything y’all don’t know. But to recap.

It has been an awful year.
My father died.  I got depressed for the first time ever.
Seeking reassurance from my lover, I got dumped.
Since the “I have to be free” speech my heart pounds so loudly it wakes me up.
And the dreams.
My hair fell out and came in white.
And don’t even start with me about the news!
I am no longer depressed.
No one else has died or fallen ill this year.
My amour propre (conceit) has protected me from believing I am as repugnant as charged.
I have many people to love—friends to crack me up, family to share the little things, grandchildren to jump on me, exes to adore me (since they no longer have to live with me).
And Medicare.

Thank you all! 65 promises to be a much better year.
Though, um, the presidential race.

I know what the jewel in the lotus, endlessly reflected, really is. And so do you. Thank you. What I'd like to say is in this poem by Naomi Shihab Nye called "Kindness."

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.

The Jewel in the Lotus, December 13, 2015


man of the hour

House of the Flying Lobster was awash with photographers and their admirers. Chien-Chi sold out his stock—or as much as he was able to carry and "sign." Each signing seems to take about an hour and require heavy use of stamps and different color ink pads, so since we arrived at 5 and left at 11, you do the math. . .
A fine time was had by all, mostly on Ed and CC's tab, including Kathleen and the bartender (left).


my all-time favorite xmas card

Brilliant! And a  samx yrrem to you, too, Bill Dugan!


the lobster and the photographer

 The adopted lobster peruses Chien-Chi Chang's new book, Jet Lag, which I helped to edit (the words, that is). Little did Lobster know that he was about to be adopted again. It so happens that Chien-Chi is having a book signing tomorrow, Thursday, at House of the Flying Lobster at 144 Union Street in Brooklyn. (For how that venue got its name, see this NYT article.) So it seemed only appropriate, Ed thought, that the lobster go to Ed's friend Neil, the patron and chef of flying lobster fame who had agreed to host Chien-Chi in his mission to sell a few collectors' copies. Just don't attempt to take CCC's picture if you go. Photographers don't like that much. Lobsters, however, don't mind.
Chien-Chi hopes that no one will attempt to read his palm.


too far above sea level

Sometimes the elevator is sooo slowwww. . .


festival of lights

Twas the first night of Hanukkah and all through 98
People were thinking about what to put on their plate.
Toby had made the latkes with care
(Though of course way too soon, she said, I dare swear)
The family had gathered on the sixteenth floor
And as soon as Matt had come in the door [from parking the car]
Deb lit the candles, and we all sang the prayer
And thought of some others we wished could be there.
And then—oh the pancakes, the meatloaf, the gelt
We left quite replete. I had to loosen my belt.


the march of time

Fom Time magazine's "office," the Chrismas-ready Freedom Tower and 9/11 memorial.

Otra Rubia in one of Time Inc's lobbies.
She looks happy, but maybe she was just glad to see us. The last of the Time Inc. magazines has relocated from the "Time-Life" Building at Rockefeller Center in midtown Manhattan to the World Trade tower area. The office itself is one big bullpen with some super weird privacy chairs, soundproof glass booths, opaque crying rooms and killer views. Outside it looks like Chicago or someplace. All new glass towers, waterfront parks, public sculpture, high end malls and food courts. Unlike the New York or Time Inc. of my experience.


the sheikh and the coquette

Miriam and her admirer, back in the day
Back in the day, when Miriam was just a slip of a thing in her early twenties, she was already a world traveler. (I may have some of this story wrong; Doro or Miriam, if you read this, pls correct!)
   She had blown through Turkey on the back of the motorcycle of some chance-met man, when she decided to take passage to India through the Suez Canal. On board ship, the crown prince of a small country set up a serious flirtation with her. So serious that he wrote asking for her hand in marriage—although, he said, he realized that American women didn't care for multiple marriages and he already had a wife. But, he assured Miriam, his other marriage was obligatory and Miriam would be the wife of his heart.
   "What did you say?" I asked.
   "Well I said no, of course!"
   Years later she saw that his father had been assassinated and that her suitor had become sheikh, and then that he had been assassinated and his son had assumed the title.
   Now, at 80-something, she regards the picture of herself with the sheikh on her computer and tries to convince herself to write about the experience. I surely hope she does. She could straighten out my facts.


decking the halls

Frankie and Johnny prep the Salami Lobby for the upcoming holidays.

Lulu and Milla await Thanksgiving dinner.
The holiday tradition at 98 is that "the men" trim the tree, light the menorah and put out holiday greeting cards with all of their names, whereupon you are meant to give them magnificent tips.
   There is something to be said for continuity, however, and the tips do help with that. A third generation is now celebrating holidays at 98, coming through what Milla observantly calls "the salami lobby" to observe festivities in their grandmothers' houses.


some things endure

Eva, Thanksgiving 2007

Eva, Thanksgiving 2015
It's nice to have certain touchstones. Like Eva will do the annual family portrait and the place cards for Thanksgiving.  At a certain point I thought it might be good to start keeping the placecards for the next year, anticipating that doing a whole new set would at some point become onerous. That point was reached this year. She managed to switch out many of the 27 but we reused some from olden times.
   I hope Eva keeps going til we can train up Camilla.
Place cards through the ages.


the day after

We had another Thanksgiving that couldn't be beat. Many of the same people came back for seconds. And we had some new folks too. Hannah's brother, Simon, and his mom. Gil and the gf. About four more pies were consumed, and we're half a pot of gravy down. Though the fridge is still full. Hint hint.
   Isaac and Camilla brightened everyone's day with their costumes, or lack thereof, and variety shows that involved a lot of singing and jumping around.
  And Hannah bought yet another new stroller. 

Isaac Sings "Frozen"below

        Check this out on Chirbit


it was a very GREAT american eating ceremony

I dunno. They will keep on getting married and having kids and the thing has just gotten wholly out of hand! Even the leftovers were out of hand.
The turkey soup (that's bone broth to you modern youngsters) is on the stove.
Going back to bed.
But listening to Alice's Restaurant first.



Well, the green beans won't be a casserole, and there are turnips instead of squash, but we got the rest covered. And how!


guess who's coming to dinner?

Hints: A pair of sisters. A pair of twins. A pair of newlyweds. A pair of two-year-olds. Seven people from Massachusetts. Seven people who used to live in the building. Three people associated with Hunter High. One shrink. Five photographers. One actor. One Shakespeare scholar. One Syrian.  Three people who worked in the Time-Life building.
Total: 31
Age range: -1 to 75+.
Turkeys: 2
Appetites: Hopefully hearty.


the amazing purple sky

The buildings in the background lit up as if by stage direction. Then the color spread out until the sky was purple. It was the only time I have seen this color bloom of an evening, and I finally understood the song lyric "When the deep purple falls over sleepy garden walls. . .. " And it was so evident that a city is as subject to natural forces as any rural retreat.


one room at a time

Not exactly Tnxgvng-ready

Getting there.
Yes, The Great American Eating Ceremony (according to Mr. Li) is coming up. Oh shit.


the end of time

End of an era
The following came in from Otra Rubia (that's her, with glass, above):
"They rolled around a drinks cart an hour ago. Yep, an old fashioned drinks cart pushed by a handsome, meticulously attired bartender (bow tie, starched white shirt, starched white apron).  It's Time magazine's last close in the Time-Life building before we move downtown. I'm sipping my martini as I fact-check how many terrorist attacks France has suffered this year alone. (Seven—I think. I have to call the embassy to be sure since we don't have a Paris bureau anymore.) Oh well…  Here's mud in your eye."
   Explanation: The times they are a changing in the magazine world, but this is a trip into the wayback machine. In the bad old days when editors were emperors and price was no object, there was always a drinks cart and sometimes even someone playing piano. By the time I arrived in the Time-Life Building for the first issue of People magazine in 1974 (cover: Mia Farrow) there was no drinks cart, but there was a refrigerator full of Heineken and wine. Later on at People, there were lines of cocaine on desks, catered gourmet meals and free massages on closing nights. And you wonder that some of us (not Otra Rubia, however) wound up with drinking problems!
   And a Vanity Fair article.


as the days grow shorter

Getting chilly
The bears need warmer fur these days. How recently have you dressed a toddler for winter? It is SO FUN! By the time you get out of the house you will be totally frazzed. And holidays are the time for Calm-a-Mama, which just got a great writeup (as well as interview with the company's princpal) on Hippie in Disguise.


guess who came to dinner

aka "the beady-eyed cruet set"
Is is doubtful that any of you remember Mr. Li, who courted me relentlessly with repugnant gifts and threats to his rival Ed (who he called, as I recollect, "Dangerfleece"). Should you wish to see the course of this courtship, I recommend that you go to the search bar on this site (top left), search Mr. Li and read all comments.
   Here, however is the link that shows the above couple in their original form when I received them, entitled "What is this, Mr. Li?" He called it a beady-eyed cruet set, but in actuality it was a shit-brown set of salt-and-pepper shakers with a mustard pot. Hideous.
   For ten years, I moved the thing to increasingly hidden locales where my eye wouldn't fall on them unwarned. Somehow the mustard pot got broken—I swear not on purpose. This spring I took the big step: I gave them away.
   Judy has a kitchy shop on Block Island, and she took the ugly things off my hands. "I hope CBA doesn't see these," I said. "She'll kill me. But she hasn't been on the island in a couple years, so I doubt she will."
   Naturally the things didn't sell over the summer, and of course CBA showed up in the fall and became best buds with Judy, stopping in at the shop so often that she came to know the goods as well as the shopowner herself. She found the beady-eyed cruet set. (Sans beady eyes, as Judy had hoped they would sell better as the blind originals.) Irate, CBA decided that rather than hoping a serial killer would punish me for my ingratitude, she and Judy would face me with the truth. And when we gathered at Claudia's Surf City for dinner, they produced this loathsome couple. Ack!

"Ingrate," CBA (left) accused me as Judy looked on. "You thought I would never know! But your karma is to never be rid of the beady-eyed cruets!"


wear your musician

Hannah and Ani DiFranco
Although she deals with famous musicians (well, their people, mostly) all the time, Hannah has always passed up the backstage passes, the free concerts—hell, when Jason Mraz wanted to stop by her house to give her some guitar strings, she said she was too busy! However, she said she was returned to her 16-year-old self when she met Ani DiFranco after a concert last night.  Thrilled! Even though it's busy Christmas shopping season at Wear Your Music (see the back story from her partner in Hong Kong and their new website), she got a babysitter to put the kids to bed (for the first time!) and headed off to see a real live guitar hero.


without whom it would not be possible

As a last hurrah before leaving Block Island, Ana (at left, with her eyes shut in maroon) and her beautiful family came to dinner. It was her son Waldyn's birthday, and her daughter Abra (above) is looking at a forthcoming birth day number three. Ana's husband Jose started cleaning Claudia's Surf City 15 years ago, and when Ana decided that at $35 an hour they could make more money with a cleaning company than she could make working at the Pharmacy, she made it a family biz.
   Ana and Jose winter over in the Dominican Republic, but Abra's kids go to the Block Island school and most of the rest of the kids live in the U.S. Thank goodness, as it makes Ana keep coming back.