Tag Archives: No Reservations

A Recital With Rasputina-Feb 26th 2011

Sunny and cool today on Long Island as we crawl painfully to the promise of Spring as February draws to a close. I am waiting with a few others on the long Island Railroad platform for a train into New York City. I am going to see another eclectic indie band tonight at the Highline Ballroom called Rasputina. They are a cello based band. That’s right… See Eee Ell Ell Oh! Melora Craeger has created a trio of classically trained musicians, a drummer and two cellists who play original music and rock covers. They are steeped in history as they are dressed in bawdy period costume from the 1800’s, and much of the songwriting is rooted in history which Melora relishes in presenting in unique ways. The new cd is out but I haven’t heard it yet, I will be buying it at the show I’m sure. This is the seventh cd for the band which has been around for twenty years and has seen a few lineup changes and solo projects from various members.

But throughout it all the music has remained the same. Classical – but not stuffy and pompous, folksy – but not annoyingly so, at times hard-edged but never heavy. One could say they are a happy marriage of The Dresden Dolls and a chamber music quartet. So as the express rain heads into NY I write with chilled fingers and listen to students talking about school life and current events. They talk in that modern post valley-girl twang that seems so attractive to young people these days. Several people are sleeping in this mostly quiet car and I find myself envious of them, but tired as I am after a busy day – I never sleep on the train. I just don’t trust the world well enough for that, it’s my suspicious Taurean nature.

Speaking of such things as the world, it seems to me that we are hurtling toward destruction at an alarming rate these days. I try to stay apolitical in my writing but it’s hard not to side with any people interested in free speech and personal liberty, as long as they are not blowing up buildings to get their point across. I am scared for the future of the planet, in my darkest thoughts I imagine how much some people want to use nuclear weapons against us and other U.S. allies, and what it could do to the face of the globe. What surprises me is how easily the same people could find their own lands adversely affected from such actions and yet are going on with the planning and other activities like it won’t go down that way. They seem to me like children playing with matches who haven’t been burned yet. We can only hope that cooler heads will prevail, but right now it feels like too many Darth Vaders are cutting the hand off too few Luke Skywalkers. The next few weeks will be very interesting.

I am considering the merits of a long walkabout as opposed to the subway. I need the fresh air and exercise but I also want to make some time after getting a later train. The Highline Ballroom is on W 16th St at 9th Ave which is eighteen blocks away and two avenues over as the crow flies or in this case pigeon flies and I don’t want to rush through dinner to get to the show on time. I guess I’ll just play it by ear when I get off. I am also thinking about tonight’s meal, I had a late breakfast so this will be an early supper, and I’m undecided about the choice. It will either be French or Vietnamese, and damn if I can’t find both within a few blocks of here! I just need to get a pen to write more, the two I have are both low on ink. My ears pop as we begin to descend and people begin to pack up and prepare to disembark. No nerves this time after a long absence, I’m ready for New York like a man is ready for a woman…it takes a lot out of you but oh so worth it.

I come up in Penn Station and am immediately greeted by color and movement, people on the move. Walking briskly the commuters go about their business, you see little scenes – a dad and his little boy sit on the floor sharing snacks-couples walk close oblivious to the world around them – a homeless man searches in the garbage can. Cold blasts of wind rise up from the tracks below each stairwell as you pass carrying the faint smell of machinery replaced quickly by cooking food. Grilled meats, pizza, strong coffee, bread. A quartet of musicians plays pop songs on classical instruments at one end of the station while a rhythm and blues band plays at the other end. I grab a pen at a kiosk and go up to 8th Avenue and quickly find a pub called the Irish Times for a quick beer and a loo.

The pub is a nice but typical place with wood tables and bar, well-lit for lunch and playing sports on the tv’s and mix radio, I settle for a Spaten instead of a Harp, huh some Irish pub – at least the bartender was Irish. So I rush to the loo and wash up and go back to my spot where I’m listening to a German man talk with his American handler about business and wax philosophic about the economy, I imagine he’s here for a meeting as he is asking the American about what to do nearby at night. I don’t have time to put my two nosey cents in and besides the guys getting paid to be a fixer for the man anyway so I finish my brew and go outside. Walking down 9th Ave I note again how relatively quiet it is compared to others like 7th or 8th, and that’s not for lack of businesses here, there is a whole bunch of pizza places, vegan eateries of all kinds and sizes – from nice restaurants to a guy in a kitchen the size of a closet boasting the fastest vegan food in town, you get your food in 30 seconds or less or it’s free! Just kidding. I quickly make the walk downtown, it’s nice here and the weather is fine. Soon I’m standing outside Co Ba only to find it’s closed, the waiter comes as I enter and tells me to come back at 5:30 for dinner but I need a loo again and I ask if I can and reluctantly he lets me in after I promise to be back for dinner.

So with 45 minutes to kill I walk down to the Highline and go in to the box office to get my ticket but they are not giving them out till 6:00 pm! I mean come on, can I get a break here or what? The only consolation is the Chelsea Market is a block away so I walk down to check it out. The studios above the market is where Emeril Lagasse’s show Emeril Live was filmed for many years and the market was featured a bunch of times. I walk in and am greeted with a welcome sight, there is a Anthropologie store here! Let me explain, Anthropologie is a womans clothing store, at least 60% of it is clothing for women and girls which means that there is plenty of eye candy for a man here to see. But the rest is an interesting eclectic mix of housewares and decorative items that you will not find anywhere else, as well as books and a fantastic selection of music playing . Which I would buy on CD if I could, I have heard songs that I wanted while in the store but no one knew the band. The buyers go all over the world and bring back pieces of furniture too that are used for display but are also for sale! There are dressers and marble-topped kitchen cabinets with drawers and they are beat up and look as if they were purchased at an estate sale in Provence, Tuscany or Barcelona! Did I mention the beautiful girls? This store is twice the size of the one near my house which is becoming all clothing gradually so I am absorbed as they have two floors. I walk out into the market and see a wonderful array of bread on racks at Amy’s Breads, a huge bakery with glass walls so you can see the operation, opposite that is a butcher shop I won’t even walk into, the smell alone would have me blacking out from the pleasure. The selection of charcuterie is jaw-dropping! I have never seen so many types of bacon and the terrines, pate’s and rillettes make me want to get a baguette and a bottle of wine and make a picnic lunch on the floor. I don’t even bother to go in the wine and cheese shop…I would have to be carried out on a stretcher. Besides I’m hungry and it is time to eat dinner, I will be back and make a proper expedition here again, armed with a cooler bag or perhaps a mule team to take it all back home!

I come back to Co Ba and the young waiter waves me in as I stand outside looking in and sits me properly, after I go to the loo again. I advise him to enjoy being able to drink gallons of beer and hold it while he’s young because it won’t last, he laughs and I study the menu. This is an extensive menu for a small place and they are doing God’s work (as Anthony Bourdain would say)! They have twelve small plates, six Banh Mi sandwiches, six noodle dishes, beef three ways, a fish of the day, and four clay pot meals. I ask the waiter how much food you get with the small plates and explain that I want to eat as much as I can without being a pig because we don’t have Vietnamese food by me anymore. So he advises on portions and I go with Chim cut roti: five spice quail roasted with small rice cakes as an appetizer, a small Pho Bo, the ubiquitous noodle soup that I first learned about in a book called “Rougue Warrior” by the former leader of seal team six, and for my main the much-loved French inspired Banh Mi, a toasted baguette with an assortment of luncheon meat, house made pickles, honey plum – glazed pork, cilantro, jalapeno, and mayo and a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.

I gaze out at the street and wait while I write about the day so far, my waiter brings my wine which is good and soon another brings my quail. I wanted to try this because of my experience with it at a Spanish tapas place last year, to compare flavors and textures. This is far superior, this is tender and spiced just right. Next my piping hot Pho comes and is just what I expected, good ox tail broth with shaved eye round, noodles, bean shoots and mint leaves, with Hoisin Sauce and Sirrachi to taste and a twist of lime. I relish every drop. But the jaw – dropping taste of the Banh Mi is what I came here for and I wasn’t disappointed. The crunchy baguette (which is cut in three pieces and served on end) filled with the different textures and flavors of meat and veg is a revelation another dimension of good, now I know why Tony went nuts over it in Saigon on No Reservations a few years ago. This is needs no other accompaniment, I could have eaten just this and been perfectly happy. If you eat this…you’ll never want a ham and swiss on white with mayo again!

My waiter was a gem of a guy, I made conversation with him about the food and how people who wouldn’t try this (like the guys I work with) are missing out on flavors you can’t find in any other cuisine. I ask about his accent and find he is of German/Swiss origin and we talk about his father in Germany, growing Heirloom tomatoes, and he tells me of the ease to travel in Europe where three hours in any direction can take you to a whole different country! He listens with interest about my writing and later will ask me for the web address to read some. A solitary traveller like myself really appreciates the momentary friendship of one such as he, and even though he and his co-workers probably joked about the strange guy later, it’s okay I was much the same myself. It’s important to treat your waiters and waitresses as friends rather than servants, the first glass of wine I got was a typical house pour, the second was much larger. The point is treat well and tip well and you will enjoy the experience of dinning much more, and will be remembered when you go back. I pay my bill and shake hands and grab a paper menu to take with me and go off towards the Highline.

I am surprised to see a line still, but when I try to go to the front and get my ticket at will call I am stopped and told to wait at the end of the line. So I wait and freeze a little in the windy street for about 45 minutes. Finally we get in, and can enjoy the zany music and antics of Voltaire, a top hat wearing, guitar playing Goth troubadour with a flair for comedy. He is the opening act and explains at one point that it was Rasputina that first inspired him to buy a guitar and learn how to play.  He was actually using his old student guitar that night!

He is very entertaining and as there are tables right up to the stage for those who want to sit all night, he does play with the audience including a beautiful black transsexual? ( I don’t know if she was or Voltaire was just joking) that provides comic material for us. Just as a sidenote, the he or she (as the case may be) was asked to leave because of her drunkenness. So her tall, bald, white Vin Diesel looking boyfriend had to help her out of the ballroom followed by a phalanx of security.

While I wait for Rasputina to go on I buy the new CD and also a live CD that I don’t have, then I make my way to a good spot to stand and scan the crowd. There is an eclectic mix of types here, a few that dress a little period like the band, men in top hats and 3/4 huntsman’s coats, girls in bodices and floor length dresses, a few “Johnny Depp” types in overcoats with the appropriate facial hair and glasses with hat, and some who look like they got dressed in a costume shop in the dark! The mix is fascinating to me and I am more than a little envious of the cool look that some guys can pull off that I couldn’t even when I was young.

Finally the band comes out and the lineup is yet again different from on previous albums. The fans roar with enthusiasm as they take the stage and two cellists and a drummer begin the play some of the most unusual music you could ever hear. I know they use effects to add to the music just like guitarists do, but you wouldn’t believe the blinding speed that they can move their hand up and down those strings while the bow must hit every string while the pressure is on the string at the same instant. These cello’s sound like heavy metal guitars at times and other times like synthesizers, they play soft and classically on some songs and others like Jimi at Woodstock! Melora runs a tight ship as she calls it and the “Recital” is fantastic, they even played “Barracuda” by Heart! Then after a three song encore they go off and I wait around hoping to get an autograph from Melora but she doesn’t show up at the tables. I do however shake Voltaire’s hand as he walks about selling CD’s and making new friends. I move downstairs through the crowds and outside the clubbers are lineing up to go down to the basement club for the night life. Their evening is just starting as mine is ending, which is good for me because if I make good time I can be home in time to watch Saturday Night Live and get to bed half-way early, and let me tell you that’s a great plus for me these days. Isn’t it funny how time can shift your priorities to sleeping all night instead of being out all night!

I walk back along 9th Avenue at a brisk pace and at one point hear the sound of a loud gunshot somewhere nearby, in the city such noises echo through the canyon like walls of the skyscrapers. No one seemed to take any notice so I didn’t either, if it was actually a gun I’ll never know but otherwise the trip back to Penn was uneventful, I grab a beer and dash for the train that is leaving in three minutes. Not much time but I make it OK and even find a seat, I could have waited for the next train but that was an hour wait. So I sit and write and sip my beer entirely thrilled with my trip and all I experienced. Everything went off without a hitch, another great meal and more great music. I’m lovin life right now, the way it should be. I am excited to see what the summer concert and play season brings as I drift off on cello harmonies.

Banh Mi


MyFreeCopyright.com Registered & Protected



Filed under Anthropologie, Chelsea Market, Concerts, French Food, Life, New York City, Travel, Vietnamese Food, Wine, Writing

Anthony Bourdain in N.Y.C – June 8Th 2010 – Part II

  I join the conversation around me after actually starting to read the book on-line. One woman is from Florida on vacation and her daughter is moving toward French cooking, an Indian girl who adores Tony, and a middle-aged woman who has a drawing her husband bought her on EBAY years before allegedly done by Tony that she wants to authenticate. I grow more excited as we get closer to his appearance, and then I hear people say “There he is!” and I look down into the ground floor to see Tony striding along in his dark jeans, graphic t-shirt and suit jacket carrying a Brooklyn Lager and wearing dark glasses. He looks just he does on TV loping along tall and relaxed, quintessential cool. In a few minutes he walks in and sits down at the desk and the signing begins, they speed the process by taking your book from you and your camera, you walk up to the table shake hands, talk a little while he signs the book he has been handed by the staff, and then you lean in and get your photo taken, he hands you the book and then you move on and let the next person go. It’s very efficient and rushed and by the time my turn comes I am a cross between a gushing schoolgirl and a stuttering awkward teenage boy. My turn comes and I walk up shake hands and place my folder on the table. Tony says “How you doin” and I stupidly say “Alright” without even asking him in return I blurt out “This is a gift” as I open my folder and say “It’s a little of my amateur writing” He says OK and takes it and puts it under the table then while he signs my book I say to him “Two questions…Is there any place in New York to get Singapore chicken rice?” and he says “No” Then I ask “How is the $26 Black Label Burger at the Minetta Tavern?”  He smiles and says “It’s really good, I mean really good” So I say “Really!” (another great reply and as he hands me my book back after the picture) and I say “Uh cool uhh I’ll have to try it” and the conversation trailed off in nodding and smiling uhhs and yeahs and I don’t think I even thanked him for signing the books ( I also brought my copy of his excellent fictional novel “Bone In The Throat”) as I walked away feeling stupid and wishing I could have had a do-over and feeling like I need a social etiquette class.

 I guess people will always wish they had done a little better in these situations, at least I do now in retrospect I could have talked more and been a little more engaging. I should have said something more meaningful, but I thought I’d let my writing speak for itself. The trouble is I don’t know if he even read my stuff, I put my address and phone numbers on the inside cover just in case he wanted to get in touch with me. I mean he probably gets this all the time and it might even piss him off so there’s a good chance he threw it away. It’s my nature to be self-critical and I know I’m not a great writer I just wanted to sound more intelligent than I did, but hopefully he will read my work and read abut the positive influence he has had in my life in the story “1st Anniversary on WordPress” How he has changed me in positive ways and made me a better cook and consumer. I leave with regret, the whole thing was over in less than two minutes. I go downstairs and outside to find my friends and we gather together to talk excitedly about our shared experience. The Indian girl says that he told her he is definitely having too much fun and the show will go on for a few more years! The woman who owned the drawing had it confirmed by Tony that he remembered doing it on a beach in Long Beach, Long Island, NY many years back and that a friend that was not doing well stole it and waited to sell it when Tony was at the height of his popularity. Tony being the good man that he is did not ask for it back and felt that it had a good home with the woman who was thrilled to pieces. We talk for a few minutes and then go our separate ways.

 I walk back to the park feeling a little better about things and sit on the wall and call my mom and tell her my news, she is thrilled and suggests I find a nice place to eat. So I walk back to the subway and head uptown to more familiar surroundings. My mind is muddled with a hundred thoughts about my experience so my usual observations are lost in that sauce and I get out at Bleeker St and begin to search for a meal. I walk around checking menus and decide to settle down in Chez Jaqueline, a French place that has been in New York a while, I have walked by it many times. I sit down facing the street with the louver doos and curtains open and I order a glass of pastis and watch the kids in the playground across the street. They are actually playing kickball! I didn’t think anyone did that anymore. I order Bacalau brandade, a mix of salt cod and garlic mashed potatoes baked till golden, and for my main a pork chop Milanaise. I sit and watch the kids and adults enjoy the cool weather and listen to a mix of cool jazz and cafe Paris thrown in for good measure. This is a Cote d’Azur themed menu featuring southern French food with a few traditional dishes such a Daube de Boeuf, Duck  Rilletes and the ubiquitous French onion soup w/Gruyère cheese on top. I have the place to myself as it’s actually quite late for lunch and not yet dinner. The Brandade comes and is good but a little dry and over browned making me wish I had ordered a celery remoulade instead. The pork chop comes and has been butterflied and coated with seasoned bread crumbs and pan-fried, it is served with field greens vinaigrette and a lemon wedge. It is tasty and healthish and I enjoy a glass of wine with it while the afternoons grows late. I decline dessert and pay the check and head for the subway, it is alternately warm and cool depending on the wind and shade. Soon I see some familiar sights and as I make my way to Bleeker St station I find the Monk Thrift Shop where a new comer to New York City (me) came years before and bought the old army travel bag that has been all over the city as well as Paris and London. I look around at all the stuff, clothes, shoes, handbags, books, records, nick naks, lamps, glassware, all kinds of stuff. I show the guy at the counter the bag I bought here years ago with its hand drawn destinations and he is impressed and says that its history now-my history, and he is right.

 The trip home was uneventful and I walked to an area easy for my mom to get to and called her to pick me up as I will be without my car for two days. I tell her all about my adventure and my hopes and feelings of dis-appointment about the experience and as always mom tries to get me to be more positive about things. Now what I didn’t know until about six weeks later is that Tony is holding a contest, for one of the fans of the show who are registered on the No Reservations website to write a 500 word essay on Why is it important to cook well? The contest will go on till November when Tony (who will be checking in and reading people’s work and commenting ) will pick the winner who will win $10,000 and get their essay put in as the new forward to the paperback version of his new book Medium Raw. you can enter as many times as you want to try to win and I have already entered once a piece called “I Cook Well” and am working on a second at this time. I can’t help thinking that it was me and anyone else who gave him their writing that brought this contest about so now I feel a whole lot better about the book signing debacle and how I came off.

 I hope I win but my story at last count was like 914 out of 1047 entries so it’s a long shot, but at least I met Tony and the next time I meet him I’ll be a lot more confident and self-assured and maybe it’ll be because he’s delivering my prize in which case after a sit down with the family I will take him to Cassis, my local piece of France with food that I am certain will pass his muster and over a good meal and many drinks I will ask him all the questions I thought of later and pitch some ideas to him for a book I’d like to write but need help with and some ideas for his show that I think he would like very much, nothing big just goofy themes like “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” that he used for his Nevada trip, along those lines. But of course “The Sit Down” with Tony is a dream that all his fans have and I’m sure very few will ever get that but it’s good to want and it’s nice to dream.



MyFreeCopyright.com Registered & Protected


Filed under Anthony Bourdain, Food, France, French Food, Life, Medium Raw, Memories, Minetta Tavern, My Truth, New York City, No Reservations, NY, Travel

Anthony Bourdain In N.Y.C-June 8Th 2010-Part 1

 Today is a very special day for me, one that I never saw coming. I put my car in the shop to get some work done on it before my front end falls off, so after hearing that Anthony Bourdain ( famous for his Emmy Award winning show “No Reservations” on the Travel Channel) will be signing copies of his new book “Medium Raw” at the Borders bookstore location on Broadway near Wall St in New York City. I walk to the train station which is a bit of a hike and after stopping for a cold drink at a convenience store, make my way to the platform of the Long Island Railroad and gather with the waiting workers. They are all going in later than the rush hour and seem to take it in stride that the train is ten minutes late, they read papers or just stare off into space occasionally stifling a yawn or staring at a cellphone while texting. I on the other hand am in a rush I want to get this mission going so I can be assured of a good spot on-line, I expect it to be a mob scene. Soon though I hear the clanging cow bell of an approaching train and look up to see it’s a double-decker! I know I sound like a geek but these are really nice trains and like Tony’s brother, I have always been fascinated by trains, especially old ones. I have only been on one of these twice before so I am stoked.

 I have to admit I’m a little nervous about this, I mean I don’t know what to expect, will I like him?(What am I a schoolgirl going on a blind date?) Will the line be so long that I’ll miss him? I have brought with me a sample of my writing for him to read as a gift. Will he like it? Will he even read it or just toss it away? He probably gets all kinds of peoples written work as gifts, everyone secretly hoping that Tony will like it so much that he will send an e-mail or something. I would bet even in this age of electronics he still has thousands of fan letters to deal with, some from psycho’s and other’s from people like me who have been enriched by his show and his writing. I also feel a little guilty about and sorry for my mom who would have liked to go with me if she was able, but is going to the eye doctor for a shot in the eye that keeps her from losing her sight. She has to get them every six-ouch-weeks, wear your sunglasses people or wind up with Macular degeneration. Then also I guess I’m a little like a kid who’s going to see Santa for the first time, for me Anthony Bourdain is larger than life, and this is big for me.  I’m so mad at myself for forgetting my camera in my haste to get the car to the shop, call in, and get to the train. I’ll have to buy a disposable one in Penn Station so at least I can get a picture with him.

 Lately I have been feeling like the forces are gathering against me, maybe it’s the bad karma from my negative thoughts about the future. My car is going to set me back a few hundred bucks and I’m worried about what happens when the well dries up, the cushion of money I got when I took out a loan against my 401k is slowly being used mostly on making high payments to pay off credit card debt. But when that cushion is gone I’ll be unable to keep those payments up and will have to either break contracts I made or file bankruptcy, which is a last resort. The only other option is to close my 401K, take the tax hit on that and get the leftover money out which combined with my tax refund could get me into next year and hopefully a better economy. So my joy over this adventured is tempered by the stress of my life, I have to try to overcome it or I’ll have a bad day. I sit and write while a young asian guy in a suit stares intently at his Mac laptop, while across the aisle from me a middle-aged woman in stockings and heels studies her college notes. Opposite her  a woman in her sixties watches the student pack up as we near the station and I see a smile creep across her face, possibly remembering being a career woman in her younger days when everything had to be perfect, teeth, nails, makeup, hair, clothes, everything.  I was lucky to get a seat on this busy train, I walked back three cars to get my seat and am happy to have had a sit down, now it will be a quick march to get to the subway and down into parts unknown. I actually haven’t seen this area I’m going to on foot yet, only by car in the days when there was time for me and a friend to drive around all night smoking ciggy’s and talking about life, the universe, and everything. Those days found me trying to escape from my parents and the confines of our house,  my friend was escaping a loveless “arrangement” with the mother of his child. That all  seems very far away now. But enough about the past, that’s a story in itself.  I am starting to get excitedly nervous as we descend and slow to arrive at Penn Station and I make my way slowly topside in the crowds.

 The city is throbbing with energy for me as I start to walk to Park Ave via 33rd St. I walk briskly while the sound and color of the city speeds by me, 33rd is a strange and amusing mix of cheap eats, upscale shops and sterile looking businesses, stretches of boring steel doors and service only entrances are suddenly broken up by a colorful Bodega or take-out joint. When I come to Madison Ave I realize how different the city is during the week, more hustle, lots more noise, less relaxed. You can tell the vacationers from everyone else easily…they are the ones sitting down. Everyone else is haulin ass.  I get to the 6 subway and descend to find myself in a hot and stuffy station with no air, luckily the train comes in a few minutes.  I sit in the air-conditioned car with an interesting group representing every color and country, a young couple on vacation, a tired worker from Jamaica, a Asian girl with her ancient grandma, and many others all riding it seems  to the end.  I get out at the Brooklyn Bridge City Hall station and find it isn’t as quaint or clean as I thought it might be, I mean with all the money Bloomberg is spending you’d think the nearest subway station to City Hall would have been done years ago. Then again I don’t have to live here so I go up and start my walk to Borders, I come upon a nice view of the Brooklyn Bridge and take a few pics and sit on a low wall and drink some water, there’s a few people sitting at some tables set up against a fence that surrounds the City Hall Park behind me as I watch cars go up and down the massive bridge towards the horizon. I begin walking to Broadway but stop to take a picture of a guy in his late fifties un-chaining an old time push bike wearing a very nice grey suit! I marvel at people like that, you gotta see this bike it’s a full size bike not a kiddie toy, but I guess that’s how he keeps in shape. It’s so nice today a high of only 75 degrees after so many hot days well above 80.  I’m a happy camper as I come to Broadway, I take some photos of Trinity Church and cross Broadway and I take it down a block or two and suddenly find myself standing facing Borders across the street. I made it with plenty of time to spare and am surprised to see no line outside.

 When I get inside I am shocked to see no crowds, in fact the store isn’t crowded at all! I’m a little puzzled but ask where I can purchase my book and where to go after that. So I make my way up to the mezzanine and find about 40 or so people waiting ahead of me, staff will be on hand to take pictures of each of us that brought cameras, and we are all checked to see that we paid for the book, so all is good –  and now – we wait. I’ve got about two hours to kill before the signing starts. I haven’t eaten a thing all day but strangely I’m not hungry. I am looking forward to a meal afterward, maybe I’ll head back up to the Village and find a place to eat I haven’t been before. I stand in the line and actually begin to read my new book while I wait and already I’m loving this book, I hope he writes a whole lot more of books like this and more fiction. I just like his style…hopefully someday I’ll be able to rub elbows with him at some writers shindig as a published writer myself. I start to feel my feet barking at me with an hour left to go… I wish I had a Cafe Creme and a chair.



MyFreeCopyright.com Registered & Protected


Filed under Anthony Bourdain, Borders, Life, Medium Raw, Memories, New York City, No Reservations, Travel

1st Aniversary On WordPress!

 Well it’s an auspicious occasion for me tonight, I am six days away from my one year anniversary on WordPress.  To coin a well-worn phrase it’s “been a long strange trip” but really not so strange and actually it has been wonderful!  When I started this BLOG a year ago I was home sick from my many wanderings in New York City, burning the candle at both ends as it were. But when I wrote my “About” page and my first post “Now with Subtitles” I couldn’t have imagined where it would lead and how it would change me as an artist and as a writer.

 While I always knew that I could write pretty good at least as far as my school teachers grades indicated, it wasn’t till I attended college that my English 101 teacher Prof. Wigetow told me when asked that I could be a writer, he said it with conviction and without hesitation. But it was on a cool night on Oct 22nd 2008 that my world was changed when I; waiting for Duffy to take to the stage, was questioned by a woman asking what I was writing in my notebook. While I told her she was joined by her brother W.B.Wilkins, Wilkins (a former english teacher and actor) upon finding out that I intended to wait until the winter to start writing, gave me a lesson I’ll never forget. He covered how one goes about writing, but more importantly how I should go about writing about my experiences. He told me to do this in two days not two months!,and to try to convey what I’m feeling and what others are feeling. If I can write a piece that speaks to 80% of the people then I turn writing into saleable art.

 But he warns me not to expect to make money at it, just like painting the pleasure is in the doing, the experience of the work and the love of the written word. If you are very lucky, people will pay you for it! This is all punctuated by light taps on my chest, a rub to my arm and a squeeze of my bicep. It’s done in a fatherly reinforcing way and with a handshake he and his sister who is also a teacher, moved off to get a good spot for the concert that was starting.

 I left that episode out of the Duffy piece because I thought it broke the flow of the story but now give the credit where it is due, I have tried to convey in all my NY travel stories exactly what he said, how it feels to be there at that moment. To give my readers the sights, smells, and tastes around me and also the people moving around me and how they might feel too. I feel as if I’ve done a good job of  this but there is always room for improvement. I also have to acknowledge the influence of Jack Kerouack, his hand written notebooks and in the moment style have had immeasurable influence on me. The sheer brilliance of his raw novelist as reporter approach to his writing have served me very well and I really don’t think I would be this far along if it wasn’t for him. But I also have to give as much credit to William Burroughs, his loose yet careful words have shown me how a writer can be like a jazz musician, light and dark, fast and slow, all at once or each emotion on it’s own terms. There is also room to mention Tolkien and James P. Blaylock both created antediluvian worlds that made me want to live there, where good quiet folk found themselves fighting evil and having adventures. They are still favorite reads for me and the work never gets old even after multiple readings of  Tolkiens “The Hobbit” and Blaylocks best “The Disappearing Dwarf” and “The Elven Ship” they will be read again and again till I am gone from this world.

 The influence of another figure who is not only a writer but also a well-known former executive chef and star of two hit shows, one for the food network (which is no longer on the air) and currently an Emmy Award winning show for the Travel Channel. I’m talking about the loveably snarky and iconoclastic Anthony Bourdain. He has been my mentor, my man-crush, and my pick-me-up on Monday nights at the beginning of a long week of work. I listen closely especially to the voice over at the end of the show where he tries to sum up his experience in a particular place or country. While images of the trip flash by he recites his words, the liquid wisdom he has written in the moment. Very often the insight about the world and the human condition become (for me at least) the best part of an already excellent show. These programs have fired my imagination and along with my trip to England and France in 2005, have given me a wanderlust that right now…I can’t satisfy. The lack of expendable cash and responsibilities on the home front  have kept me from journeying away.  But I know that someday Tony, I too will swing in my hammock on the edge of the lake in Indonesia, in my little house and wait for “pancake man” to come in his boat on a sunny morning to give me breakfast. Yes, this at least I’ve promised to myself.

 But since I will probably never get to meet you face to face and tell you this story I’ll write it now, and maybe you’ll read this someday. I have never been a great lover of seafood, even though I have Swedish and Norwegian blood and my Great Grandfather was a sea capitan I have never much liked the water and could only stomach a few kinds of fish even into my twenties and thirties. In grammar school of course I ate tunafish sandwich and I liked fish sticks as long as it was all white, no discoloration please! Frozen deep-fried Howard Johnson’s clam strips or shrimp were a favorite too…thanks Mom.

 But I could not stomach the real hardcore seafood, I’m talking about the shellfish. On a good day I could handle a lobster tail (when I was older) but drew the line at a whole lobster or even crab legs, I had no desire at all to perform an autopsy on my dinner! The humble Mussel was enough to make me hurl, the sight of the chambered form inside with its Lovecraftian appendages, bubbling and blaspheming in a pot of Cioppino at my cousin Chrissy’s house, could send me screaming about the “Old Ones” into the night, and don’t even get me started on snails! But in 2006 things would change in a special way.

 My aforementioned cousin Chrissy had been battling cancer since 2003, and had survived an operation that would have killed most people, they are probably still studying her case. The cancer had spread from the intestines to the liver and ovaries, kidneys, stomach-the lot. They removed so much tissue from her body it was a miracle she lived, but live she did. She would live to vacation in Jamaica and take many other trips away with her husband and two girls, and I living nearby would drop in to see her without notice just to sit and tell her of my adventures or problems, you could always count on honesty with Chrissy, even if she didn’t always tell you what you wanted to hear.

 We had a special bond as painters but had gone to only one art show together since I started to paint in 1999,she was raising a family and I was busy with my own life. So in 2006 Chrissy and her husband Bruce decided to host Christmas for all the family, these were always happy times for me, I loved sitting at the table with my cousin Chrissy and her sister Donna, Bruce and Pat their husbands, my cousins daughters Sharon, Michelle, and Jennifer and my brother Chris as well as all the parents of our tribe. We would go off telling war stories and riffing on each other in a friendly way that would be punctuated by the raucous laugh of Chrissy and high-pitched guffaw of Donna and my own explosive laugh. So on this night things were a little more subdued but not much and when the hot food was served I saw that there was many seafood items to be eaten tonight. I realized that this may be Chrissy’s last Xmas with us and when I had already tried the other dishes of chicken, various pastas, eggplant, zucchini, roasted peppers and mushrooms. I went to the table of freshly laid out seafood and scanned the offerings, there was Cioppino, small snails in tomato and garlic tapenade, crab legs with butter, stuffed clams in garlic butter, seafood stew, a feast of garlicy tomato Italian tradition. 

  I took it all back to the table and bravely tucked right in with my cousin sitting across from me beaming as I discovered that some of this was actually very good! I ate and talked with her enjoying the face time with her and for a while it was not very obvious that she was sick. There was no way I wasn’t going to do so, like Tony says on the show when people are giving till it hurts, even if you don’t like it-you eat it and you smile and you ask for more, to do anything else would be an insult.

 My cousin died eleven months later in November of 2007 and it was touching that she seemed to wait until Stanly Kramer, her old art teacher in grammar school, now the school principal. Had to come to see her before she would let go, that’s how strong her bond was with him and with her art. We get together now without her and it’s cool to see how her daughter Jennifer has taken over Chrissy’s role as the raucous storyteller, regaling us with her tales of working in the fashion industry in New York City and Donna too seems to have joined her as well filling the gap left by Chrissy’s passing, and Chrissy’s other daughter Michelle, (a photographer who looks like her mother) quietly takes embarrassing pictures of all of us-yes we will get you for it too Michelle just wait.

 I did some growing up that night and since then I have found myself trying more foods that take me out of my comfort zone, even though I might not like them at least I try them now, veal, seafood, unfamilair meats, blood sausage, lagastino lobster, and anything else offered to me I eat without hesitation. I no longer sit on the sidelines and watch as others enjoy and encourage me to do the same and refuse, too caught up in myself to be polite and join in. I learned there is a big difference between taking a stand against a certain type of food for health reasons or moral obligation, and not trying a certain food out of immaturity.

 So thank you Anthony Bourdain for helping me to grow a lot, and for putting a smile on my dying cousin’s heart. Indeed with your own writing not just for your show (and it’s accompanying books) but also your fiction, which I have also enjoyed very much. You have informed my writing too, just like the master writers of this century and I hope you stay here in New York and keep doing No Reservations for many more years to come. This viewer will never grow tired of it.

 But I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the one thing that my writing has given me, the most important thing…a friend. When I started reading others work I came across the blog of Maureenj aka White Orchid and after commenting on something she wrote, found her also looking at my page and since then we have become good friends. The fact is that only a few other people have bothered to comment on my posts and the comments have all been good, but no one follows my blog like Maureen.  This past year we have weathered many storms in our own life but still find time and energy to encourage each other and comment on each others blog posts. She has become the older sister I was supposed to have in many ways and although I have not shared some of my deeper problems and fears with her, (especially since she had a medical scare this year and a death in the family) I have come to realize she is my true friend. We talk of our desire to meet one day and I often find myself day dreaming about my trip to Australia or hers to New York, where I would undoubtedly be the personal tour guide for her that I want to be in the near future, and was with my relatives from England in April of this past year.

 Mark and Sharon came over and changed my life without even knowing it at the time, the days spent showing them the Village and Midtown Manhattan were the happiest this year, and led to my realizing that this might be my true calling. This was reinforced by meeting Robert Fogelnest; a former tour guide and Village authority whose book I bought and study along with many others on all things good and bad about New York City.

 So right now while I weather the storm of debt consolidation and zero credit available to me I cannot indulge in the finer things in New York City. I have to learn to write about other topics anyway, still have some story’s to tell about New York and some experiences I had before all this blogging, theater-going, tour guiding study and hardcore foodie stuff started. The very first story I wrote as an intentional piece of journalism was a story about street art that I wrote in 2007 when I was so wrapped up in my story that I didn’t even review the food I was eating in a now closed Sri Lankan restaurant, which is strange because I remember it was good. The story of our trip to England and Paris is all a blur now but I can try to look at pictures and piece it together to make it live. I also have the hope of coming into some money soon, by legal means I assure you which will be enough to pay off a few bills not covered by the debt consolidation in which case I could be in a few months very close to breathing a sigh of relief and able to continue my adventures.

 So right now after watching Paradise Found with Keifer Sutherland last night I am also trying to become an artist again, and trying to meld both my writing and my art into switches I can throw on or off depending on my mood instead of one or the other, which is the way it’s been since early 2007, I haven’t painted a thing in two years,why…I don’t know.  

 I am grateful to Word Press for their support and presence on the web, and to Cheru Jackson of  Alphainventions for helping me to promote my page, and to my Mom, whose diary writing, and her repeatedly showing and speaking aloud the first three letters of the alphabet to me as a baby, have undoubtedly had a lasting effect on me as a writer and reader. As always it’s the little things like this that mean the most.

It has been a great ride and I hope to continue this for the rest of my life, even if I never make it as a writer or an artist it’s OK. The most important thing is that while I write or paint I’m alive, doing what I enjoy and not wasting time with mindless activities or destructive behavior. Thanks to all the cast of characters in my life, which is my work of art, as I am in others casts…so may all of us grow. Thanks for reading and influencing my life and art, and if your ever in New York City drop me a line and we’ll have a drink or two, and one more thing…try the veal at Le Rivage on W. 46th St…it’s really good.



Long Island, NY 2009

MyFreeCopyright.com Registered & Protected


Filed under Anthony Bourdain, Art, Family, Food, France, French, French Food, Greenwich Village, Hicksville, Life, Memories, My Truth, New York City, No Reservations, NY, Theater, Travel

Brit Brunch-Part 1-Apr 10th 2009

In the bright sun of a new day I find myself walking from my car to Hicksville station to catch the next train west. Even with sunglasses on I’m getting blinded by the light coming right at my eyes. I found a legal parking space easily this time but I literally have 3 minutes to get my ticket from the machine, grab a coffee and run up the escalator to get the train I hear pulling in as I approach the station building.
 But somehow I manage to accomplish all and find a window seat, I see the clouds are rolling in and it’s supposed to rain today and tomorrow too, I feel bad for my relatives from England, Mark and Sharon had only one nice day yesterday when I wasn’t with them, on their own to explore the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and Central Park. They asked me the other day (see The British Invasion story) to come in today to help them navigate around midtown, they want to see Times Square, Rockefeller Center and the Plaza. I also thought St Patricks Cathedral would be nice but England is loaded with those so maybe not. The thing is their hotel on 44Th St is close to all of these places so they don’t really need me, they just want to share my company and I’m flattered by that. It would have been a boring vacation if they didn’t come to New York, I actually took this week off to be available to do whatever I could for them and to get my parents in to see them before they go back. I get on and again find myself in packed rush hour trains but this time I get a seat and this is an express train so only two stops before Penn Station is just what I need.

 I get out at the station and immediately head for Duane Reed to get a gift bag for the knit cap and tweed hat I bought then last night at Sears, these are from the hipster section in the young men’s and girls dept’s and are “Right out of the fridge”- that’s Village talk for cool for all you squares out there. I walk down to 44TH St in the fading sunlight hoping for no rain today. I pass by Macy’s Herald Square, they are having a show today, flowers decorate the famous windows outside and I look through the door to see thousands of flowers decorating the store which is not open yet. I know they want to see Macy’s and this will be perfect! I already feel great about today, I feel like one of those people that are contacted by the Travel Channel when Anthony Bourdain needs to be shown around somewhere for his No Reservation’s series on cable TV. I feel like I’m a “contact” even though it’s my first time doing this I’m growing more confident about my ability to do this for a living and I’m starting to wonder if this is my true calling. I arrive at  9:00 AM and go inside to have the concierge phone up to Mark and Sharon’s to tell them I’m here. They come down after a while smiling and ready but first I present them with their gifts which are appreciated and the first thing they want to do is go to Central Park because they didn’t make it there yesterday so we pile into a cab and off we go to the top of 6TH Ave. During the ride they tell me that I would have been proud of them, they made their way by subway all the way to Battery Park and took the boat to Lady Liberty and Ellis Island and navigated themselves to Ground Zero and Chinatown and made it back by subway without getting lost or missing a stop. We are dropped off at the base of the park and walk towards the entrance where the horse drawn carriages park. Which is good because they want to have a carriage ride around Central Park so I say OK I’ll find a shop or a coffee while your gone but they insist that I come too! I tell them it’s a couples thing but Mark says that they’re not going to make out in the back of the carriage and I must come too. The only problem is…there isn’t a horse in sight and it’s ten o’clock, so are we in the right place? maybe they don’t start up till noon because of some law we don’t know about. I can’t answer the speculations but just then I see a groundskeeper down below so I dash down the stairs into the park itself and ask when the carriages come, the man looks at his watch and says “soon, very soon .”  So I run back up to my friends and tell them it’s OK we’ll be riding shortly and just then Mark say “Here we go then” and I turn around to see them across the traffic circle cuing up and taking passengers already. We cross the street and miss the first coach and wait just a minute to get the second one and then we are off on a pleasant ride around the park, stopping at key points for the horse to drink water and to take pictures of certain views that our driver points out to us along the route. It’s a nice ride I recommend to anyone visiting New York and not expensive at all, about $34 plus tip for a thirty minute ride. We stop where we started from and the driver takes our picture in the carriage together and then gives Sharon a carrot to feed to the horse who swallows it whole and we pet the horse and move off to find a loo for Sharon and myself. We go down the stairs of the Apple store right across from The Plaza Hotel and use the bathrooms, the store is amazingly arrayed with all manner of IPOD products and computers. People are running about like ants in a nest  chattering like monkeys about the products and God only knows.   It’s making me wish for fresh air however so I take them down the street to a hot/cold buffet deli and grocery store for some coffee and muffins. They are amazed to see all the different kinds of food here, deli sandwiches, burgers, wraps, burritos all made to order and the hot table with Chinese, Italian, American, Soup, Salad, Chilli’s and more than I can remember now. There is nothing like this in England they tell me and I suggest they should open one and start a new craze, but we get our coffee and sit down at a table in front of the store to talk about all the family history some more. This is real nice time for me but unfortunately they are asking me questions I cannot answer such as the time-line of the passing of several relatives that I miss, I guess my memory for much is shot, too many things running round my head for too long or maybe it’s just that I block out the unhappy memories. But I find Sharon’s talk of her medium like experiences fascinating as she has a connection with the other side like my mother but way stronger, it’s the same intuition that has saved me from a few near accidents when the little voice tells me to keep away from that car next to me and I back off just in time to not be hit by a wreck-less driver who’s cut me off.

 We leave now and it’s incredible how the weather changes in New York so rapidly, one moment we are warm and opening coats and the next a damp breeze blows and reminds us that April is a wet and muddy month. We walk down from Central Park area to Herald Square so they can see the city, it’s people and places, stopping to look at huge diamonds in a store window, taking some video or pictures and generally sharing tales and laughs over this and that. The streets are alive, tourists and stressed out workers, students and lovers all moving toward something unknown by you until you see what they are after.  You hear  family disputes one minute then raucous laughter the next depending on where you look and listen, always changing the city reminds us of how big it’s pull is for the people of the world and we finally arrive at Macy’s Herald Square to see the flower show.  It’s a mob scene that would make old Mr. Macy happy, we look at the window display and see the fictitious flight of a huge pink flamingo being depicted going to various countries, some window panels show only his long legs and others part of his body in flight and his huge head is shown in yet another. You have to go to the Macy’s web site to see it for yourself it’s unbelievable! We go inside and it’s a zoo, people crowd every inch of space and it’s just beautiful, there are pink flowering plants that have been grown into flamingo topiary surrounded by all manner of flowering trees, plants and bulbs. There are over 1 million bulbs and 30,000 plants and trees. We walk through dazed crowds to get to the old wooden escalators to go down for a loo stop again, after we men talk over the mystery of handbags and shoes while Sharon shops till she’s had enough and slowly make our way back to the exit. They are hungry for a little lunch and so am I, last night I took the time to research a few meal suggestions for their dinner tonight so I pull out a short list and suggest maybe Brazilian, Tapas, and Greek. But they love curry so I ask if they like Thai and bingo! the magic word so it’s off to find Thai, only problem is I don’t have any written down, so as we move back up towards restaurant row I suddenly duck into a shop or two and come back almost before they realize I’m gone, I ask store employees for a good Thai place and finally I hit on a guy who knows. We have to head over to 46Th between 8Th & 9TH Ave so we march along not caring for the time just enjoying the easy camaraderie of the three musketeers we have become.


MyFreeCopyright.com Registered & Protected


Filed under Anthony Bourdain, Central Park, Family, Food, Life, Memories, New York City, No Reservations, Thai Food, Travel

Winter Medley – Jan 11 Th 2008

 It’s a sunny cool day as I sit waiting for my brother to come out of the house, I have to drive him to work before I head into Manhattan today to see the new pieces of Abstract art in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection. The weather has been strange lately, we had a few warmer days so it’s not too bad weather wise.  I’m off this week so I don’t care that I’m getting a late start, my brother finally comes out and we go to his job. The two of us joke around in the car a little on the ride there but I feel bad that he has to work and can’t join me today. I drop him off and make my way to the train station and search for a place to park, I try to park under the lights so I can feel safe we I come back at night, this isn’t a bad neighborhood but it’s better to be safe.

 I board the train and am happy to find it’s an express-good deal, so I sit looking out the window and and listen to the people around me, as an artist and writer I find that this kind of voyeurism is good for my creativity. I write this poem by looking and listening…

 Old places glass and steel.

Bricks with black lettering.

Pools of water on rooftops.

Shinning rails of travel, momentary blindness.

A man sleeps seeing nothing

A man sighs behind me.

Sleeping man passing gas oblivious to the

Smoke billowing black from chimneys.

A man sighs again alone.

A lone flag flies in the distance.

Is it all nothing to you?

Copyright  G. Henley 2008

 We are going into the tunnels now and I feel the creative energy coming back, must keep it turned on always I think as the train stops and I head out into the stuffy platform and walk upstairs to Penn Station and up to the street. I grab a taxi to the Met, I will walk later but right now I just want to get in and see the exhibit, later I will head to the Village for some Hong Kong style Octopus balls, which I will explain later.

  This is a collection of 55 new works given by Muriel Kallis Steinberg Newman, an astute collector of art who collected works of both the old guard of Abstract Expressionism, but also the work of younger artists that proved to be worth her attention years later. This is an exceptional show, many new pieces by some of my boys, I am happy to see a Robert Motherwell. I am lucky to own a large hand signed print by him, it’s not in great shape but at least I got one-too bad it’s so big I can’t frame it. There’s also a few by Jasper Johns and Robert Rauchenberg (god rest his soul) that I hadn’t seen before, there’s a Pollack, a Kline I especially like, a DeKooning and work by David Smith, Helen Frankenthaler, Larry Rivers, and Anne Ryan. But it was a smallish exhibit so it doesn’t take me long to see it all and I make my way to a special exhibit of African Reliquary Art.

 The word reliquary means literally container or vessel where religious relics or artifacts are stored.  Some held the remains of  tribal people who had died, say a finger bone or a piece of the skull which were thought to be magical andwere used with carved guardian figures on top in tribal rituals. Many reliquaries were used used in Christian ritual from the 4th century and have been venerated by Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches. These carved figures are fantastic, detailed and so finely made, the most famous of these is The Pahouin or Black Venus made by a member of the Fang people, Betsi group; Gabon. Many of the most famous artists in Paris collected and studied tribal art including Pablo Picasso, Andre’ Derain, Henri Matisse, and Maurice de Vlaminck just to name a few. There are also beautiful statues made by the Punu and Kota peoples, the fascinating thing was the Gothic ones made from metals, a finely wrought hand in a magical gesture kept my attention for twenty minutes, the only time I really wanted to steal a museum piece in my life. I then watched a short film taken in the 30’s by an Anthropologist, a burial of a huge reliquary. The dead person was sewn inside a huge stuffed Golem like doll which was carried and buried in a huge grave with much crying, singing, and ceremony and the TV on which this was viewed was about 5ft away from the actual reliquary in the museum!  This thing was bigger than a Volkswagen Bug standing on it’s end, I won’t forget this exhibit anytime soon…I just wish I had the money and the proper space to collect African art myself like my old friends in Paris, now we know where the influence for Cubism came from!

 I leave the Met and take the subway all the way down to the East Village, I’m on a kind of pilgrimage you see, after watching Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations where he ate them in Osaka, I just have to try the Takoyaki at Otafuku. Located on 235 E. 9th St (Btwn 2nd& 3rd Ave) this place is the real deal, it’s tiny-I mean there is enough room for about three people to stand inside and place orders. The two young men that run the place are cramped in front of a tiny grill, a special device for making octopus or squid balls sits next to the take out window. But what are they? you ask puzzled. Well it’s a seasoned batter witha piece of octopus inside which is cooked in a grill that has dozens of  holes the size of a golf ball, as they cook crispy they are turned crispy sideup so that more raw batter hits the hot grill until they are crispy on the outside-gooey on the inside, they even turn a switch and the grill shakes to help loosen the hot treats so they come out easier, they also make a great batter pancake with veggies and your choice of toppings. Everything is covered with sqeeze bottles of Japanese mayo, thick soy sauce and dried flaked pork or fish, they also serve yakisoba noodles and a good assortment of teas or soda.

 I take my hot food and go to find someplace to eat, finding a little park at E.6th St and Cooper Square I settle down to try my food, it’s magical and delicious, crispy then chewy then gooey describes the balls, the pancake is savory and sweet and the hot tea is welcome as it’s getting colder. I see a group of people coming down the sidewalk and wonder what’s going on, but I am surprised when the group stops and the guide begins to talk about the building behind me. This is strange because I can see that everyone is not watching the guide, they are all watching me eat! Here I am, dressed in many layers of clothes looking like a bum dinning Al fresco on a bench using chopsticks no less!  They move off and are replaced by a group of young goofs with thier girlfriends who come inside the park apparently to throw pennies at the Pigeons, a boom crane moves slowly nearb, sirens, traffic, the bang and boom of work being done and people walk by. I go on enjoying my meal and ignore the world for a while…It’ll still be there when I get back.

  I ride home on the train enjoying a young redheads reflection in the window, she is facing me and I can see her even though a seat separates us(a miracle of refraction or reflection?) and enjoy being a voyeur, I wish I had a drawing tablet with me, she looks like the actress in “Lady In The Water” when we come topside I can’t see her anymore, the glare of the setting sun robs me of the view, so I write and remember the day and hope to do this again real soon.


MyFreeCopyright.com Registered & Protected

1 Comment

Filed under Art, Art Shows, East Village, Food, Greenwich Village, Japanese Food, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

All My Sons-Part 1-December 2008

  I’m standing inside the platform waiting room of the Long Island Railroad, as you might have guessed by now, it’s very cold and windy and the small room is pretty packed. There is a large contingent of Asian’s here, they seem to be disabled and are being overseen by a few folks, probably a church group. The group leaders are looking after everyone and one nervous young man in particular counts heads over and over again, maybe it’s his first big assignment. We board the train and I score myself a window seat and take out my pad to begin writing. The nervous church leader seats his people and counts heads again, he is really working hard. Then he passes out chopsticks and starts passing out long styrofoam boxes of food before sitting down next to me and opening one up for himself. He has way too many of these, I guess some people didn’t want any. But he opens his and starts to eat, it’s vegetable sushi and the large rolls are cut into about eight pieces. This is an express train so we stop only twice before getting into Penn Station, a cool thing because I’m a little hot now in my overcoat and there’s no room for me to get up without disturbing this guy’s meal.

 I’m going to see the Arthur Miller play “All My Sons” at the Schoenfeld Theatre tonight but my first destination will be Prune, an East Village landmark for the downscale hipsters but also an upscale place for dinner where I saw Anthony Bourdain eat on his hit show “No Reservations” a year ago. Tony ate upstairs in the kitchen where only chefs are allowed to eat, probably because many of us wouldn’t want to eat what’s served out of fear or culinary knowledge. Thank God the brunch menu is not so scary as that!, I’m really looking forward to this meal. My seat companion is on his second boat of sushi, that’s sixteen pieces and counting folks. The day is bright and mostly clear, I’m warm now so I take off my scarf, hat and open my coat up a little to cool off. This guy next to me is up to twenty four pieces of sushi!, I mean he’s thin…how is he doin it?

 There’s a young guy behind me talking on his cell phone in low, obviously educated hipster tones. He’s talking about snopes.com mentioning an accident of some sorts, he asks the person on the other end if their bone was broken or pulverized, (nice choice of words genius) I think as we roll on into Jamaica Station and then off again.

 When I arrive in Penn Station I waste no time in going topside to seize the day in New York, enjoy the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. There are scores of people walking about as I try to get my bearings and figure out where I need to go. But it’s too cold to do a walkabout, right now at least, so I go down to the subway and take the seven train across to the six downtown, there are alot of people here in the tunnels waiting for a train. Families are just starting to shop for Xmas and the kids are fussing and crying over something already. So many people are shopping today, and it’s not even black friday yet! Makes you wonder where people are getting the money to spend in a bad economic environemnt as ours. Thanks all of you out there in Washington, you too in big business for messing things up, but don’t worry your pretty heads about it, the middle class will pick up the tab for you as usual, we always do… don’t we? Yes, of course we do, the only thing that matters is that you have all you need because God knows, rich people  need their money!

 But  there I wait, in an ever rising body temperature coupled with a growing urgency to relieve myself. Nearby a one man band plays bongos and cymbal and uses pre-recorded tapes to provide the missing band members. The music is temporarily drowned out by the rush of trains coming in, but not mine yet. The train roars out and he begins a different piece, a few minutes later the six train comes in and I get on with the throngs of people. But the trains are stacked and mine  has to go to fourteenth street.  Because of a jam up on the lines, (too many trains I guess) so off we go passing station after station in this underground time travel device we call a subway, I get off at Spring Street and have to double back and over but that’s okay.

 I find Prune easily, located on 54 E. 1St between 1st & 2nd Ave, it’s owner and head chef Gabrielle Hamilton presents with an eclectic menu of childhood memories mixed with favorites turned on their end with ingredients and flair. It is jammed, there’s a 1 1/2 hour wait to get in and by that time brunch will be over. I ask the attractive red headed  hostess if I can use the rest room, and since the upstairs one is occupied I’m allowed downstairs. I descend a spiral staircase, small steps made for a time long ago when people must have been smaller overall, and find myself standing in an anteroom out side the bathroom door, to my left is a kitchen door about three  feet away from a table of five waiting for their food! Down here in this small space is a table? But that’s how good it is here, every available square foot of table space is used for seating-it has to be! I use the loo and then go outside to wait for my spot with others hoping to get in. It’s sunny but cold, and growing colder and after about forty five minutes I decide to move on to my backup destination I begin walking toward Bleeker Street, to my backup eatery A O C.
Bon Nuit
MyFreeCopyright.com Registered & Protected


Filed under Anthony Bourdain, Arthur Miller, East Village, Food, Greenwich Village, Memories, New York City, Plays, Theater, Theatre