Here’s a fun swimming pool activity you might want to try:
Swim over to the deep end and blow all the air out of your lungs. You’ll sink like a stone. Sit on the bottom of the pool and don’t move. Do you know what you hear underneath 10 feet of water? Nothing. You can’t hear a 2-Year Old screech or the unrelenting demands of a 6-Year Old or the gentle “suggestions” from a caring in-law. It’s a really peaceful moment until you need air. Then it gets a bit uncomfortable.
We took a short drive out to Sea Bright early Saturday morning to look at about a dozen bottlenose dolphins who took a wrong turn. Instead of going out to sea, they wound up swimming in circles in the Navesink River. Nobody knows if they’ll make it back out to sea or not. So sad. The Daughters were thrilled, though. It might not be such a big deal if you live in Miami, but if you live along the Jersey shore you don’t get to see a school of dolphins all that often. They’re big beautiful fish.
The really angry part was watching the local moron boating and jet ski community run roughshod over the area and hassle the dolphins trying to get a closer look. People never fail to disappoint me with their stupidity and selfishness.
There’s no heat in hell to match midtown Manhattan during a summer scorcher. The sun’s blister bounces off the steel and glass and is magnified down to the street. The subway keeps the sidewalks cooking from underneath. It’s like taking a casual stroll on the surface of Mercury. It’s humid and bad for your hair and unless you enjoy the feeling of your underwear sticking to your ass, there’s not much to like about it. It smells pretty bad and people walk with a bit more head-down determination than normal.
Fortunately, there is refuge. Dotted all over town are quiet, cool rooftop bars. Check the nicer hotels. There, you can watch the sun set over New Jersey and sip a Ketel One and cranberry (or three) which, I admit, is a bit of a girly drink, but they’re so refreshing that I can’t resist. J and I paid a visit to the High Top, a rooftop on 8th Avenue and 48th Street, and ordered some (very expensive) hamburgers. We talked about the surface stuff first and by the third round we finally got to the good stuff. I like it when she slaps me around and calls me a big whiner. It’s sobering. And I think she enjoys it. I believe it’s a warm-up for her husband. After that, we took a trip to the Cosmic Diner on 52nd Street. Apple pie and a cup o’ decaf for me, chocolate cake and a tall glass of cold milk for her. It’s the fuel you need to survive the heat.
I keep a running list of books that I read throughout the year. My memory chips have been scorched by my early years of overzealous weed consumption and keeping a list prevents me from reading the same book twice. That would be funny if it weren’t true. Looking back, I see that in 2005 I made it through 23 books. Not too bad. Then, in 2006, a friend gave me an iPod as a birthday gift. Thanks to that new addiction, the number of books I read for that year was reduced to 16.
Here we are in 2008 and I have introduced this idiot blog into the mix. Add to that the New York Times every day and two daughters who are getting old enough to require ever-increasing amounts of my time and I am struggling to keep up the pace. I look up at my bookshelf, see the unread copy of Crime and Punishment and realize that if I started it this evening, I might not finish it until sometime in 2010. I miss getting lost in a story.
If you’re not vigilant, it will slip away.
In the summer, the theater community here in NYC takes a holiday. The only plays in town until the Fall are stale Broadway productions that have been grinding on year after year. Casts change and although the show is still running, it’s often just a shadow of what it was on opening night. One of the greatest shows I’ve ever seen, August: Osage County, just lost their principal actors, so that’s that. Many shows start gimmick casting. They hire B-list actors and TV sit com stars to draw the out-of-towners and the morbidly curious. “Taylor Hicks to Make Broadway Debut in Grease!” Barf.
The exceptions to this rule are the small, intimate, experimental plays. These are shows that barely find financing and are produced in non-traditional theaters that are off the beaten path. They can either be an unexpected delight or so bad that they’re painful to watch. CB and I saw one last night, Still The River Runs, at the Center Stage theater. The Center Stage is a black box (an actual term) on 21st Street that you access by taking a tiny elevator to the 4th floor of a building that has more to do with light industry than it does theater. It’s not terribly comfortable. You sit in folding chairs, the lights are bare and hang just above your head, but it’s a pure form of theater.
I’m relieved to report that the show was a lot of fun. CB and I both enjoyed it. (I should mention that he has higher standards than I do and is harder to please. I’m a pushover.) It’s a dark comedy about two rednecks and a stolen corpse. Two very fine actors do the entire show themselves, including the set changes during the scene intervals. They manage to do an awful lot of storytelling with little more at their disposal than a few props and some raw talent and energy.
The little shows are nice, but it’s also interesting to go to Broadway and see what can be done with a bloated budget. And I don’t mean tossing money away on Taylor Hicks.