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Thursday, December 31, 2009

NYRR Emerald Nuts Midnight Run: Cheers to Good Health in 2010

Above: NYC Artist Pedro Silva, Monkey Bars, Public Art

Left: Robert Rooney, Monkey Bars, (National Gallery of Australia)

     Growing up during the 60's, early 70's in NYC forced one to fish in the pool of imagination and invention regularly after school, during summer, winter and spring breaks. We called on one another to play, and knocked on doors throughout the complex of apartment buildings in Astoria like Christmas Carolers forming a nice sized group along the way. Then on the largest empty patch of grass or cement we opened the floor to vote on what to do next. "Any ideas?" "What do you wanna to do?" "I donno. What to you wanna do?" "I donno!" "How about..." "Lets..." 

     Unlike today where many children are huddled in doors in front of PC's and Wii's and PS 3's and... we huddled to play touch football. "Hut 1." "Hut 2." "Hut 3." "Hike! Hike! Hike!" We pretended  to be superheros, villains, monsters and fair maidens. We went on quests. Like transformers the stoops, alleys, playground monkey bars, garage and trees we could climb became spaceships and dungeons, castles and the Amazon jungle. We fitted metal skates to our sneakers and shoes with a key and grated down the pebbled sidewalk, sharing in laughter and good vibrations that rushed to our brains. And we ran! We ran and we ran and we ran until we were red-faced and out of breath. Winner takes all! High-fives and cheers. We started out with a half block race, then a full block down to the mailbox, then around the block, passing the quiet stretch of single family homes.
     In Spanish we have a great expression for going around a city block it is "Dar una vuelta a la manzana." Translated literally it means to "Take a spin around the apple." What wonderful imagery for a kid. I don't know the origin of the expression. The word manzana which means apple is used instead of the word "cuadra," pronounced [qua-dra] which means a city block, only in this phrase. When asked of my whereabouts instead of saying I was running around the block with the other kids I said, "Di una vuelta a la manzana" (I went around the block). Translated properly "Dar una vuelta a la manzana" means to take a stroll NOT RUN around the block, but the neighbors on the quiet side didn't take kindly to our running past their houses so it was just as well to say we just walked around the block to avoid getting into more trouble. I was in first or second grade and loved running ever since though at several points in my life I have taken some long hiatuses. But I'm back.
     There are so many things to do in the Big Apple on New Years Eve from taking a spin around it in one of the many party boats offering dining and dancing to watching the ball drop at Times Square or the fireworks display at Brooklyn's Grand Army Plaza. For those of us who want to bring in the year with "Cheers to Good Health!" the city offers these:

New Year's Eve Bike Ride 
(Meet at Washington Square Park under the Arch at 10:30PM)- Free

15th Annual Brooklyn Bridge Walk Into The New Year- Fee
Jivamukti Yoga School 21st Annual New Year's Eve Celebration
9PM to Midnight- Free 
(Mauna- the practice of being silent, broken by chanting 12-12:30AM)
NYRR: Emerald Nuts Midnight Run- Fee

     I can't run around the Big Apple, yet. But I have advanced from running around the block ("Dando vueltas a la manzana corriendo") and look forward to ringing in 2010 running with my Daughter and the other Emerald Nuts.     

Only 15 hours and 14 minutes to go!

What ever you do be SAFE,

Cheers to Good Health to all in 2010!!

New York City's 10 Best New Year's Eve Events

Hut! The Story Behind a Football Interjection, Ben Zimmer, 9/14/2009
 More on Robert Rooney's art at the NGA
BTW: Old strap on skates sell from between $4.99 to $99.00 (Wow!) 
Wish I kept Mine.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Blizzard 2009, Just an Apparition

Bayside Diner's Snowman holds parking spot for guests.  

     Last weekend, winter's first blast kept many New Yorkers, like others in the N.E region, cozied-up in doors, and yesterday the second day of the long Holiday weekend 30+ mph wind gusts and heavy rains took center stage; belting, pelting us with more of the same in your face force. Off and on throughout the day shrilling sirens, sounds of muffled jets and the chatter of a few passersby joined the duo's jam, while mounds of snow eroded like cotton candy on a child's eager tongue. How the birds survive the storms and remain on post to welcome and announce the rise of the sun to man is one of natures great mysteries.     
     While bringing us comfort, the sun finishes taking care of business it has with the rain. The streets are drying up. I can hear the planes and the trains just passing through, loud and clear. The remnants of Winter 2009's first big snowstorm got a licking!
     Early in the morning, while the storm was in naissance my daughter got me out of bed to go down to the Flushing Library on Main Street to take out books, graphic novels and an assortment of DVD's of almost every genre. Why can't I just roll back to sleep? It's only 8:30! Having spent the 25th indoors due to a cold that continues to haunt me I agree. The fresh air can do me good.
     Most Saturday's there is a crowd waiting for the doors to open at the Flushing Library and quite a bit of hustle and bustling going on on all floors, but as with last weekend it was quiet and we had rows and rows of DVD's to select from without bumping elbows except when we wanted to show one another a pick; TV series, International Films, Sci-Fi, Comedy, Drama and more. Most of the movies in our selection were good, The Truman Show, Push, Be Kind Rewind. Guy-X was ehh and Shutter intense.

 Movie Bite: Shutter (2008/I)
Left: Rachel Taylor (Jane Shaw), Right: Joshua Jackson (Ben Shaw) 
     Shutter directed by Masayuki Ochiai, is a  thriller, horror, mystery about New York City photographer Ben Shaw and his wife Jane who are spirited off to Japan right after their wedding so he can work a fashion shoot with two old friends Bruno (David Denman) and Adam (John Hensley). The Shaw's decide to take a short honeymoon in a cabin in the scenic Japanese countryside before Ben's assignment begins. However, their newly-wedded bliss is disrupted and a shadow hangs over them after a car crash renders them unconscious. What really happened? Jane obsesses about the mysterious woman she claims to have run over before the car went off the road. "Did someone come to her aide?" "Why wasn't a body or blood found?" The pain in Ben's injured shoulder keeps intensifying and the couple start to pick up a weird vibe. Ben brushes it all off as he busies himself with work but Jane remains daunted by the experience as she explores Tokyo on her own. Shutter-bugging like every good tourist.
     Is Jane seeing things? What's that strange blob of light gracing the couple's pictures at the cabin? A defect in the film? A light leak? Was the camera broken? Or, are they strong emotions waiting to be heard? Konichiwa!! Say, "Chiizu!" "Mou ichido onegai shimasu." One more time please. And Adam, Jane senses there is something not all right with him when the couple meet up with him and Bruno for dinner.
     The story unfolds like the petals opening on a rose layer by layer until the mystery woman's identity and fate come to light and her brand of just dessert is served.

"You don't have a library card? No way!"

If you live, work, go to school 
or own property in NYC 
you can apply for a card in person or online.

Flushing Library 


Queens Public Library  
Brooklyn Public Library  
New York Public Library (Manhattan, Bronx, Staten Island) 

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Holidays' Spirit: Remembering Children

Top Left: A Bite of Holiday Laser Light Show at Grand Central Terminal
Top Right and Center: Bryant Park, December at Night

The biggest bow ever. Watch your step as you go out side. The smallest box ever hiding among the needles of the pine. Lot's of "ooo-ing" and "ahh-ing" and "awh-ing" and "WOW!" NO PEEKING. "I'm not peeking!" HoHoHo. HaHaHa, HeHeHe. "Far out!" "Oh my God... Gag gift!" PSYCH. The real gift is back logged. "Do you know how hard it is to get a Nook in time for the Holidays? Who would've guessed it would've been so popular? The sweet smells of the kitchen waltz with the fragrances of the cinnamon candles burning softly in the living room. There is a frantic rush as the first guests come in. Bags aren't as ladened as Holidays past, we all know too well the reason why. So what gives, why bother?

It doesn't matter when or why a Holiday started; remembrance of a person, an event or other. And while some find fault in all the commercialization and profiteering, registers ringing, credit cards swiping, heads spinning, remember we all can control our exposure. So, let us not forget the why behind it all, the Holidays' SPIRIT. Families and Love.

When I think of Holidays I think of children. Children still filled with the light of hope in tomorrows, filled with eagerness, willingness and great anticipation. Curious. Engaging. Innocent. We all remember getting untold numbers of hats, and scarves and gloves, and sweaters from the circus from well meaning relatives, instead of the Matchbox or Electronic train sets, the Barbie Dream House or Easy Bake Ovens, but give thanks that we are here in the today, in the know, in the now, with our loved ones, many do not have that fortune and what a fortune it is!

Everyday untold number of children are reported missing. Some make it back. Many never do. But their families never give up hope and would give everything they own for their child's safe return.

Wishing everyone a safe and 
happy holiday season!

For more information on how you can help, tips for educating yourself and children go to:

New York Missing Children

Left to Right:

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

New York Cares!!

As the snow of winter's first blast is still among us, let us not forget that many New Yorkers are unequipped with the winter basic to be safe and warm- A Coat.

We all get into the spirit of Spring Cleaning and periodic spurts of getting rid of closet clutter. Take a moment to check and see if you have a coat to spare and bring it to one of the many pick up locations throughout the city.
***ONLY 1 DAYS LEFT!!***

Weekdays 7:30 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.* (Morning commute only)
Grand Central Terminal (Graybar Passage)
New York Penn Station (LIRR and Amtrak concourses)
New York Port Authority Bus Terminal (Main concourse, 42nd Street entrance)
*Transportation terminals cannot accept coat donations on weekends or after 9:30 a.m. on weekdays.

Weekdays 7:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

U.S. Coast Guard Recruiting and Service Center (next to Staten Island Ferry, Manhattan side)


New York City Police Precincts
Janovic Paint & Decorating Centers
Oz Moving and Storage Locations
The Pond at Bryant Park (42nd Street and 6th Ave.)
Time Warner Cable Stores

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sno-thing to do

     We had lots to do and sno-thing to do this weekend in NYC under a foot of snow, except chill indoors instead of being chilly outdoors, unless you were into the whole play in the snow or I have to dig out my car bits. Besides enjoying reading and music and ticking of items on to do lists it was a great weekend for a Family Film-Pick Film Fest. Scan the cable listings, instant queue your Netflix, arm yourselves with DVD's from the library, Blockbuster or local video store, check your shelves for old favorites, plan the sequence of play, get the popcorn ready, plant your keister down and enjoy the show.
     We watched umpteen movies and shows on Netflix and DVD: The Ugly Truth, Gossip, With Nail and I, Darkness Falls, Serendipity, South Park Season III, Cherished, Fired Up!, Ping Pong Playa, Martian Child, Rocket Science...
Movie Bite: 
Rocket Science (2007)

Hal played by Reece Thompson (right) with his mother's Korean Judge boyfriend's son Heston played by Aaron Yoo (left)
Two families from contrasting cultural backgrounds in Plainsboro, New Jersey are joined temporarily in the midst of Hal's soul mate, soul searching odyssey, to rise and fall and rise again from their miseries.
     Rocket Science is a great coming of age flick written and directed by Jeffrey Blitz, about a stuttering teen named Hal whose life is cha cha changed when a beauty named Ginny ferrets his talent out for the debating team. In his journey of self discovery and realization Hal learns about the meaning of passion, determination, loyalty, expectations, acceptance, family, friendship, girls and women, the difference between love and lusting, kissing, the Kama Sutra, broken cellos and glass windows, becoming a man and more.
     The dialogue was rich and subtly injected with pearly words of wisdom. Among some notable quotes: "All we have are Sloppy Joes, but they aren't so terrible if you haven't had them before." "The fights you fight today are the fights you fight to the day you die." And my favorite, "Deformed people are the best perhaps because they have a deep resource of anger to draw upon." All true if you really think about it. What spurs one to push to succeed, to change, to better oneself and ones situation if one is content with things as they are.
     As children we can pretend to be superhero's like Flash Gordon, but you can do that only so long, as Hal is told, "You can only pretend as long as you can until the forces of be take that away from you." You don't have to be a rocket scientist like Einstein to be successful. How often we all forget to just be ourselves. Just be.

Great soundtracks:

"Blister In The Sun," "Kiss Off" - Violet Femmes
"Blister In The Sun"- Sam Matthews and Houfei Yang
"The Blob"- Guy Klucevsek and David Garland
"Fight Song Melodies," "Promise of Love," "Do You Love Me?"
"Failed to Open" and more by Eef Barzelay
Score Clem Snide

NYC First Snow Fun

     Wooooo!! Wooooo!! 9Am Sunday, 12 inches of snow later. The kids across the street are up early and away from their PS3's, X-Boxes, Ninentendo's and TV's, swapping  joy-sticks and remotes for snow balls and sledding down the driveways. Bang, bang, thuck, crack, crack, cruck, scrape, scrape, chop, chop sound the shoveling crews juiced by Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama," Bobby "Blue" Bland's "Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone," The Trogg's "Wild Thing," Joel's "Uptown Girl," and other hits. No match for the metal and muscle, the snow relinquishes the fight and gets piled high, off the curb to be salted then mashed by steel belted radials. "Eeeee, yaaah, you got me!" "Ha ha ha" the children shout as they run down the block armed with snowballs to uncleared sidewalks and driveways.
     Friday night the supermarket was packed as everyone stock piled for the weekend. By 8:30AM Saturday the Corner Deli was almost sold out of Crystal Salt and Newspapers. Apparently I wasn't the only one up early getting last minute fixes for the weekend, a copy of the Financial Times for me, a pint of Haagen-Daz chocolate chip cookie dough for my daughter. Yeah, sure, real clever.. The real clever one's were my neighbors who were purchasing not one or two but three bags of Crystal Salt or four to put around their cars, the sidewalks and steps to their homes as precautionary measures.
     We are all enjoying a pause this weekend from the daunting news of "the economy stupid," embracing the icy cool calm that fills the streets, catching up with chores at home, tackling piles of laundry, piles of unread books, magazines, graphic novels, mail, resting, talking, playing, etc., while others enjoy the carry over effect of Chanukah celebrations. Tourists on holiday for the holiday's got to enjoy the beauty that is NYC dressed in an elegant, flowing gown of white instead of the gray suit it sports most days.

Children and snow
Dogs and snow 
Were the weekend's spectaculars!!

Right: Maisel/ News

Left: Cool snow action shot by

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Etch A Sketch Solution

"Every time I move I throw things out and 
start brand new, like an Etch A Sketch."
- A New Yorker Dude

Salvador Deli by Jeff Gagliardi

New Yorkers walk fast, talk fast and think fast. There just never seems to be enough time to get from point A to B to C to D to E to F, back to D and F and C with a full swing back to A. Time, time, there is never enough time. So we rush. RUSH. RUSH. RUSH. And in the process we dodge one another like hockey players cradling and handling a puck to the goal. It is an amazing feet, with all the rushing around that we can find time to keep in touch with others.

Where would we be without cell phones that facilitate our ability to reach out and touch someone? Walking, running to our goal while texting, e-mailing and talking."Watch out for that cab!" "What cab?!"

We plan dates with everyone for every available slot in our days. No time for a dinner date, how about a lunch date? No time for a lunch date, how about we meet and talk while we grab breakfast? And let the game of the fast talking fast thinking begin! You have 5 minutes before running up to the office! Tick-tock! Tick-tock! Can you take talking of the mundane with your friend to level 10?

1-2-3-START! Two young men are catching up. Like all NY'ers closet space is an issue. Architects of many buildings fail to realize that you have to dress for four seasons. Closet space only allows for ONE. It shouldn't matter if you live in a studio, a 1 BR or 2BR apt, one person clothes for four seasons. We must love summer because everyone seems to have more than their fair share of tee-shirts. The promo-tee from work, the free-bee-tee you got when exiting the subway station, promoting some product, brand, event, cause or other, the concert-tee, the team-tee, the crazy slogan-tee, "People like you are why people like me need medication," and the picture tees, "Yes, that's my grand baby," VP grandpa beams. "Dude, why you still wear that shirt? I thought you guys broke up." What a conundrum. The answer: Move. Move a lot. As the young man consoling the other in dilemma summed it up so profoundly, "Every time I move I throw things out and start brand new, like an Etch A Sketch." Ding-ding-ding, we got ourselves a winner.

But finding affordable housing isn't easy in The Big Apple which is why so many people stay put, while others get roommates, who hopefully wear the same shoe, pant and/or dress size so they can share clothes and have room in the closets for hockey, skiing, hiking and other gear. If not, it's time to get ready to play, the "I'm Moving" game. Grab some boxes, a bunch of 30lb Hefty's and some willing family member or friend participants. Set your goal and begin. Game tip: Take Friday off so you have time to rest on Sunday before Monday drops the puck and the new rush begins.

Left: Mohammed Ali by George Vlosich
Top and bottom right: Andy Warhol, John Lennon by Nicole Falzone

"Life is like an Etch A Sketch. 
Every once in a while you have to 
shake things up and start fresh."
- NYC Bites 

Empire State Building by Tim George

Want to Etch A Sketch but you don't own one? Play online.

Check out more Etch A Sketch Art 
by Nicole Falzone and Tim George

by George Vlosich

 Etch A Sketch Cartoon

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Coney Island Dreams

Children screaming,
gulls  screeching,
people passing drinks
and sandy sandwiches.
Chit chat, chit chat. 

Delicious, warm salty water.
Splish, splish, SPLASH!

Cool Breeze blow drying my hair.


Children's rides.
Boardwalk Karaoke.
One-two-three, one-two-three.
Un-dos-tres, un-dos-tres.
Fingers locking.
Click. Click. Clicking.
Click in.

Watermelon, mango smoothies.
Fatty fast food stands.
Cotton candy.
Candied apples.
Funnel cakes.
Nathan's franks and a cold beer.




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