New York City/New Years math

New York City + New Year’s Eve = RUN AWAY!
Taken about :30 minutes ago near Times Square during my escape.

I spent New Year’s Eve in Times Square exactly ONCE. There were four of us and it took me all of :15 minutes to get separated from my friends. I was pushed into a coral by the police and stood there by myself and froze my ass off. Nobody would talk to me because I looked like the lone loser who wandered into a party by himself. Midnight struck and while it was a pretty spectacular moment, I can’t say it was worth the hassle. By 12:15 all of Times Square was deserted.

Happy New Year, everyone. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to hide under my bed from all the amateur drunks.

Incidentally, as a point of clarification, tomorrow is the first day of “twenty-eleven,” not “two thousand eleven.” When it was 1999, we didn’t call it “one thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine,” did we?

Is it just me? You can tell me. I can take it.

That Goddamn Ethan Hawke

I saw The New Group’s production of Blood From a Stone. It’s billed as a dark comedy/drama about a dysfunctional family but let me tell you, it’s about 10 parts comedy to 90 parts drama. And “dysfunctional” is too gentle, too clinical a term, to describe the goings on.


It’s in previews and the word on the street is that, at a bit over three hours, it runs too long and they’re trying to pare it down before opening night. I have no idea what people are complaining about. It was so well acted and so compelling that I didn’t look at my watch once. It’s down to about 2:45 and it makes me wonder what I missed.

Comparisons to the horrible family in Tracy Letts’ August: Osage County are inevitable but this sort of thing goes back to Tennessee Williams and even further than that. This family is vintage blue collar bankrupt, living in a house that is, quite literally, falling apart. It’s a different spin on an often-told story.

The entire cast is strong although as the insane ball of anger father, Gordon Clapp (of NYPD Blue) seemed like he was acting at times. Daphne Rubin-Vega (Rent original cast) has exactly one scene but it’s so sexually charged that it impacts the rest of the story. As the scene opens, she’s sans clothes but the lights are so dim that you don’t see any of her goodies, which I’m a little upset about.

But that goddamn Ethan Hawke. That son-of-a-bitch is The Man. He was on stage for pretty much the entire 2:45 and he drove that bus just where it needed to go. He’s a master of dialog and reaction. During the intermission, I read the playbill and his credits include two Academy Award nominations, one of them as a writer. Also, he directed a play that was based on one of his two novels. Oh, and the ladies seem to like his look. (Edit: see first comment, for instance). Bastard. That guy makes me question my choices and feel like an underachiever.

* * *

This is the last play I’ll see this year. 12 months. 41 plays. It could be worse. It could be whiskey and whores.

Waking up on Hoth

From Wikipedia:

In the fictional universe of Star Wars, Hoth is the sixth planet of a remote system of the same name. It is a world blanketed by snow and ice.

Hoth Schmoth. That place has nothing on New Jersey. We were hammered with a major blizzard last night. A state of emergency has been declared. The word is that New York City is also buried but I haven’t been able to get there to confirm. I couldn’t get to work and since I’m only a consultant—not a full time employee—I won’t be paid for today. They’d better get this mess cleaned up. I don’t want to miss another day of work. Also, I have tickets to an off-Broadway dark comedy/drama about a dysfunctional family starring Ethan Hawke and I don’t want to eat the tickets.

Here are the drifts that were right outside our door. It’s as though I moved to Colorado overnight, for cryin’ out loud!


I had to dig us out. This photo has a soft blur to it because Mrs. Wife took it from the warm side of our windowed storm door. It’s the most snow I’ve ever cleared in a single session. I popped my earbuds in, cued up Sandinista! by the Clash and got the job done. It was easy! It only took a four hours.

Daughter came out and “helped” me shovel but, of course, it didn’t last long. Her heart was in the right place but what 9-year old can resist the swansong of a deep snow drift?

This is the halfway point. Hour two. It was an astonishing amount of work. My neighbor in that house across the street owns a snow plow but in the nine years we’ve lived here he has never once offered to help clear my driveway or lend it to me. One time when I was stuck in the city, Mrs. Wife had to shovel the driveway. She had our then year-old daughter wrapped up in her stroller in the garage. After he finished his driveway, did he offer to help her? Nay. He did not.

I texted this photo to a friend of mine who lives in a tony apartment in Tribeca. I wanted him to see what moving to the suburbs could lead to. He texted me back from the warmth of the Dominican Republic, having escaped the city just before JFK was shut down. He was en rout to a small island in the Mediterranean with his heartbreakingly beautiful/smart Dominican girlfriend.

I will conclude this post without further comment.

NYC Christmas photo blast

I should have been posting these throughout the month but I got lazy. Here’s a whole pack of holiday images from New York.

It’s so easy to embrace Christmas in the city. There really are chestnuts roasting on an open fire! Turn a corner and you’re hit with the scent of pine from trees and wreaths beings sold on the sidewalks (seven foot trees are +/- $70). The big tree at 30 Rock and the big star over 5th Avenue. The Cartier building wrapped like a pretty package. ALL the windows are dressed; not just the ones at Lord & Taylor. A lot of people (most?) think it’s overkill and that it starts too early, but not me. I love it.

We still have these Salvation Army guys. This one was standing right in the middle of Times Square chaos playing Christmas carols on a baritone horn. You wouldn’t expect to hear such a soft, warm sound rise above the cacophony. Comfort and joy!

Macy’s: It’s not just for Thanksgiving parades.

NOT a shopping mall Santa.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself.
Nothing says Feliz Navidad like a festive holiday street meat cart.

If you’re coming to town and want to ice skate, forget Rockefeller Center. Get down to Battery Park. [Edit: This is Bryant Park. Not Battery Park. Some expert I turned out to be! THANKS, Sasho!] The rink there is larger, generally not a s crowded and the park is lined with stores selling fun holiday gifts. There’s also a cool little restaurant/bar (the structure on the left side of the pic). I took Miss Daisyfae there and we had a fine time. That’s the big public library behind the tree.

Streetlamps dressed with red bows and the Chrysler Building.
The Rockettes as ornaments. Step! Kick!
Truer words were never spoken.


It’s Christmastime in the city

Here’s my annual photo blast of the holiday windows at Lord & Taylor’s flagship store on 39th and 5th. They’ve been dressing their windows with special Christmas displays since 1914. The work is done below street level on platforms that raise into place. Lord & Taylor employees are allowed into the basement to preview the displays prior to the public unveiling. It’s nice that some prime retail window real estate isn’t used for product placement during the holiday season.

This year, they had the peculiar idea of having people submit their favorite Christmas memories and turned a select few into window displays. A pretty cool idea if you’re memory is chosen, but unless you’re Charles Dickens, I don’t give a fart how you spent Christmas in your youth.

The displays have a mostly contemporary look to them and are, for me, a bit of a disappointment as compared to displays of the past. I miss the detailed work and ambiance of the usual visions of Ye Olde Victorian Christmas. You can click on these to blow them up for a closer look.

Here’s the left half of a carriage house that’s right out of Architectural Digest.

Here’s the right half that includes the living space.

If you look upstairs, there’s a big 70s disco party in progress. Mirror ball and all! Remember when people use to remove the grill cloth from their stereo speakers to watch the woofers dance around? I looked closely for an authentic ’70s era bong but didn’t see one. Nor a lava lamp.

This is a brownstone exterior. It’s the kind of home I would love to live in, so I swooned and my knees got weak when it came into view.

The left half swivels opens to reveal the house interior. These displays always seem to have a disproportionate number of white people in them!

Here’s the left half of an apartment building with art deco flourishes on the façade. Downstairs is a 1950’s kitchen with vintage appliances and a mom cooking dinner while wearing a dress. See what I mean? White people!

Here’s the right half of the apartment building.

Here’s a short film that shows a 50’s family marveling at a wonderful new invention: television! Rabbit ears and all. The entire scene pivots to a contemporary family watching Rodolph on a big flatscreen TV. Finally! Integration takes root. Above them, Santa dive-bombs onto 5th Avenue.