f*ck

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.

My comment on my friend’s post? “Everyone should say ‘fuck’ on the Today show.” Continue reading “f*ck”

gray’s papaya lights go out on 8th street

grayspapaya

Eater.com has spent the past few days celebrating the life and death of Gray’s Papaya at the corner of Eighth Street and Sixth Avenue, with photos of its bright orange lettering being removed from its awning and reminiscent post from followers about drunken munchies and Gray’s goofy signage.

I, myself, best remember Gray’s Papaya, and the Famous Ray’s Pizza of Greenwich Village a few blocks up Sixth Avenue (which also recently closed for the second and final time), on my late-night walks home from Bob’s NYU dorm during our first year in New York, when he lived in graduate student housing on Third Avenue and I lived in the Jesuit Community on 17th Street. Continue reading “gray’s papaya lights go out on 8th street”

love songs to blue skies

With art school, parish duties, and New York at my doorstep, I barely had time to be homesick for California, that first autumn in 1989. But I was. I missed Berkeley’s temperate climate and dramatic landscape, the way nature entered everyday life, how people treated one another, the forward-thinking politics, and my friends. Oh, my friends. And the deep, clear blue West Coast sky that saturated Berkeley’s daylight, the shadows, and my mood most of the year.

Having in the past only visited New York during its damp springs and hazy summers, I had no idea that crystal blue skies were a trademark of New York autumns. Continue reading “love songs to blue skies”

faces

After half a century,
every face looks like one I’ve seen before:
this one like that sweet girl from grade school;
that one like this teacher from college;
another like that actress…or waitress…or both;
or like my childhood dentist,
or high school crush.
I catch myself about to speak,
and then remember
they, too, would be several decades older, by now.

Continue reading “faces”

the hole story: waiting for cronut

So, cut to the chase. Would I stand for three hours in line for a cronut ever again? No. Was it an adventure? Yes. Did we have fun? Yes. Was it fun for all the reasons I expected. Not exactly.

At about 6:30 this morning, Bob and I both woke up and couldn’t fall back to sleep. We’ve been talking about queuing up for cronuts for a while. For the uninitiated, a cronut is a cross between a croissant and a donut, introduced back in May of this year by Pastry Chef Dominique Ansel at his SoHo bakery. Since the first deep-fried buzz began to hit the food blogs, people began camping out on the bakery’s doorstep to be among the first lucky 150 to 250 people to snag a cronut or two before the day’s supply runs out. (Ansel makes them only once a day, and there is a two-cronut limit per customer.)

Continue reading “the hole story: waiting for cronut”

rembrandt’s gaze

Self-Portrait_MET_DP152808I’ve visited, off and on over the past 35 years, this self portrait Rembrandt painted as an older man. It hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art here in New York.

He has always stared just past my left ear, as if he has something on his mind, sometimes concerned about me, sometimes engrossed in his own thoughts.At times he has seemed wistful, other times melancholic. When I was young, I imagined more than a few times that he was perturbed with me for not putting enough time into the painting studio. His younger portraits were more playful, confident, self-possessed, proud. This one looks resigned to the current situation…whatever it may be. Continue reading “rembrandt’s gaze”

one more for the new york time capsule

Years ago, when one of my sisters and her husband were visiting New York, she returned after a long day of tourist activity still wearing the little tin Met button from her morning visit to the museum.

“Do you know what the ‘M’ stands for?” I asked.

“Metropolitan Museum of Art,” she replied cautiously, aware that the question was too elementary.

“No, that’s inside the museum,” I insisted, “but do you know what it means outside?”

She stared at me curiously.

Continue reading “one more for the new york time capsule”