Friday, March 27, 2015

love saves the day

Since yesterday's explosion on Second Avenue at Seventh Street in the East Village, I've been thinking about this photograph.

I took it about a month ago while sitting at a window table in San Marzano restaurant, looking up Second, during one of our February snow storms.

The building on the left, the former home of the quintessential East Village vintage clothing and novelty shop Love Saves The Day, is one of the buildings that collapsed. The woman with the white umbrella is passing in front of the restaurant that was the source of the explosion.

I've also been thinking about the staff at Pomme Frites, Sushi Park, Paul's Burger, San Marzano and the other shops along this avenue. And especially about the residents who lost their homes. We're anxious to check on acquaintances who work at the restaurants.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

howdy valentine...i wish i could quit you

Hi There, Pardner! I wish I could quit you.
Valentine's Day was always troubling for me as a gay grade schooler. 

I was expected to share giggly little messages of love with my classmates—that is, of course, girl classmates.

The messages were corny puns and all about the boy-meets-girl romances of the 1950s and '60s.

It was indeed a confusing exercise in futility.

I have wondered what it would have been like to hand a valentine to a boy I had liked back then, or even now in this brave new world where children are supported by loving parents who encourage them to express their feelings.

So, I found a few vintage valentines online and tweaked them slightly into something that I could have passed to any of my real crushes at the time.

Just for the fun of it.

And, at this point, just for Bob, who has been my only playmate, crush, and valentine for a very long time now.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

real christmas stories

true lies

Santa came to our house on the eve of Christmas Eve each year, the night before December 24th, a whole day earlier than for everyone else I knew. My mom explained to us that there were way too many people in the world for Santa to visit on one night, so he had a special Christmas Eve list and we were on it. We also opened our presents ahead of tradition on Christmas Eve night, right after dinner, not the next morning like everyone else. But we didn't ask for an explanation for that difference, not after waiting an entire day, from dawn to dusk, with unopened Christmas presents in the house.

Yes, later when we were older we learned that mom had practical reasons for breaking with tradition. She wanted to avoid squirmy children at church on Christmas morning. She had learned that, whether presents were opened right before or immediately after church, they danced too much in the eight wee little heads she needed to keep calm through Christmas morning mass.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

silver linings

This week, I've had a couple different people attempt to sell a "silver lining" to me or someone else that they've hurt—to convince us of a positive outcome to the negative situation they themselves created for us.

We all know what that is about: they feel bad for what they've done and rather than say, "I know this doesn't make things right, but I'm sorry," they try to convince the other person that somehow he or she will or has already come out on the other side better for it:

"Maybe that was never meant to be. Something better will come along."

"You never would have discovered [A] about yourself, if you hadn't gone through [B]."

"You look like a sexy pirate with that eye patch."

It reminded me of when I was a young Jesuit seminarian and our superiors were assigning us to our first teaching gigs.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

how susceptible to facebook quizzes are you?

74%: I got Fois Gras!

Or some such nonsense.

Sure they're fun and seem to reveal the depth of how seasoned a Kansas City Royals fan or what beloved Saved by the Bell character you are.

But did you know that the online quizzes you see regularly on Facebook and other social media are actually marketing tools designed to gather consumer information?

Saturday, June 7, 2014

sidewalks of new york

a field guide for taming the wild pedestrian

When I arrived in New York 25 years ago, there was a shared sense on the street that if you didn't follow the rules you could get hurt.

Figuring out the correct side of the sidewalk and how to navigate taxis, bike messengers, and loose mental patients was part of survival in this tough City. It was also part of being a good fellow New Yorker. You felt proud of yourself as you accomplished the ways of the City. Similar to stepping confidently onto a "people mover" at the airport, you learned what "regular coffee" really meant at a street cart, how to fold your Times so as not to annoy fellow subway passengers, how brief a question needed to be for a New Yorker to answer it, and that you always stayed to the right and moved attentively on the sidewalk.

True New Yorkers knew these things. New New Yorkers wanted to learn them quickly. Visitors wanted to know so as not to draw attention to themselves. We were all in it together. And if you hadn't figured that out yet, you quickly did, or risked being run off the curb.

But today, there is an epidemic of untamed pedestrians roving the sidewalks as if none of this was ever necessary. Whether they were raised without socialization, came to NYC fooled by the promise of a Lego or Disney store on every corner, or simply are disconnected from the real world by their digital devices, too many pedestrians have become stubborn obstacles on a maddening course, unaware of the danger they put themselves in, or the disruption they are to the City's flow.

Sunday, March 2, 2014


Last week a friend posted a Gawker video of consummate New York actress Elaine Stritch saying "fuck" while on the Today show to promote Shoot Me, the new documentary about her life.

I actually don't understand why hosts Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford were so surprised, except to fain chagrin for anyone in the home audience who was offended by it. But I suspect most people would have been more surprised if Stritch had not said "fuck." She has built a long career on being herself—a crusty New York broad who speaks her mind with unapologetic gusto and humor—and everyone knows it.