Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Get Ready For Fashion Week Part 2

This high-end look isn't hard to achieve

This season, fashion should be as unflattering as possible.

Start with a pair of flesh-colored sandals that make your ankles appear thicker than they are. Team them up with shorts that accentuated the stumpy-ness of your legs and make your derriere look almost shapeless.

What to wear on top?

How about an Abercrombie and Fitch t-shirt!

Add a knock-off handbag (have you seen what they're doing with Coach on Canal?) and you're ready for the runway

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Get Ready for Fashion Week

Just because you're getting old and using a walker doesn't mean you have to give up having style.

What I really want to know is, does this woman have tennis balls in colors to match every outfit? Or does she wear pink most of the time? And does she have a pantsuit that matches the standard sickly green tennis balls?
And the most important question: Who was the first person to put tennis balls on the legs of a walker?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

In the Aftermath of the Storm

Is there hope for New York?

Like so many things in New York these days, Hurricane Irene was a disappointment. There was more hype than there was rain. The worst thing was everything was closed because the MTA shut down. I had to cook my own food.
It made me wonder if I've lived in New York too long now. It's been over half my life.
Things used to be exciting. I met fascinating people every day.
Now excitement means going to Bed, Bath and Beyond to buy a new towel. And the people out there? Produced at Kinko's—they all look the same, sound the same (using 'like' several times in every sentence) and are constantly texting each other on the same i-Phone.
I've met everybody worth meeting in New York.
Where have all the cool people gone?
Is New York finally 'over'?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Dream Job

Quite possibly, the best job to have in New York City

The Strand Kiosk on 5th Avenue and 60th Street is a combination of my two favorite things—books and Central Park.
The 'real' Strand—the big one—supposedly has 18 miles of books.  George Will said so in the 70's: "The eight miles worth saving in this city are at the corner of Broadway and 12th Street. They are the crammed shelves of the Strand Bookstore."
Hector, who works at the Kiosk, doesn't think it's quite 18 miles—which would be longer than Manhattan itself. He thinks the Kiosk has about 18meters of books—twenty-three centimeters of that being You Are Here.
I'm jealous of his job. I go by the Kiosk three times a day on the tour bus. I look over the side and there's Hector or John or Chris, in the lovely dappled shade, surrounded by books while I'm in the hot sun surrounded by—at least it seems like it at this time of year—people who don't even know how to read.
Hector and his gang do have a tougher time though when there's a sudden rainstorm—they have to cover all the books with tarps and pack them up into the cute little storage units. I just have to hand out ponchos. I don't really care if the tourists get wet—they won't get ruined, they just won't tip.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Tree Grows in Hell's Kitchen

You'll see this tree while waiting on line to get into Jon Stewart

The tree in Betty Smith's novel is an Ailanthus or Tree-of-heaven. It's a native of China and considered a weed in the US. All an Ailanthus seed needs to grow is a little dirt (cement will do in a pinch) and some spit and it'll grow into a huge tree. Smith used it as a metaphor for a poor Irish family's ability to thrive during tough times in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

This tree outside my building in Hell's Kitchen is a Gingko, also a native of China. They're all over the streets of NYC—easy to spot because of its fan-shaped leaf that turns taxi-cab yellow in the Fall. It's very salt tolerant, so it can stand up to hundreds of dogs pissing on it every day and has a small root system that won't buckle up the sidewalks. Its fleshy berries—that smell like vomit when stepped on—are said to help improve memory.

I loved this tree. There was a little bird house in the branches that somebody had hung back in the 90's. It was a quirky bit of beauty on a cruddy-looking block.

Two years ago, the tree was hit by a truck that was backing up to make a delivery to The Jon Stewart Daily Show next door. The trunk snapped in half and lay on the sidewalk for two weeks, before the city took it away.

But it's not dead. Branches are growing out of the stump. It's quite lush. And perhaps it's a metaphor for what this neighborhood is going through.

I'm just not sure what that metaphor is.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Here is Memories of New York

Memories of New York on 5th Ave and 26th St.

I’ll be the first one to admit that New Yorkers are snobs when it comes to touristy things. We don’t do the Empire, we don’t go to the Statue of Liberty and we don't shop in souvenir stores.

But secretly we love that stuff because we love New York--that’s why we live here paying all that ridiculous rent for an apartment the size of a laundry room in the rest of America.

And we’re thrilled when we Uncle Phil and Aunt Louise come in from Des Moines and stay with us (as long as they don’t stay too long) and we can do the touristy things (but it’ll be Top of the Rock and the Staten Island Ferry instead of the Empire and Statue of Liberty), yet we’re still hesitant about the souvenir shops. There's something about them that…well, that gives us hives. It's a little bit too much like being from Des Moines.

Memories of New York, however is the kind of souvenir store that New Yorkers can actually go into without fear of bumps festering on our epidermis. They stock fabulous, yet useful items baring the symbols of The Center of the Universe.

Bottle openers, pot holders, refrigerator magnets, travel mugs, books.

Books! OMG! They have an amazing selection of books! Beyond the Zagats and Fodors. Beyond The Blue Guide and those coffee-table books that nobody ever reads.

I discovered A Journey into Dorothy Parker's New York there--and I‘d never seen that anywhere in the New York sections of the bookstores that I usually haunt. I squealed with delight as I brought it up to the register.

And Memories of New York carries You Are Here.

So you can buy a copy there. And so can Uncle Phil and Aunt Louise.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Were You There?

April 9th, 2011.Couldn't have asked for a nicer day or a better crowd. Giving a reading of short stories set in New York City on a double-decker tour bus is a perfect combination. Hope to do it again soon.

Started out from Penn Station (Photo by Quilty)

A beautiful spring day. In front of Lincoln Center.

Outside Logos Bookstore.
Harris Healy had the book in the window. Big thanks!

The Strand Books Kiosk on 5th Ave.
Would love to get You Are Here there.

By the Plaza Hotel. Home to Eloise.

In Columbus Circle, reading "Possibilities"--
one of my favorite stories.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

ALWAYS Going Out of Business

Look for this in Men in Black III

When this sign went up on 8th Ave a few days ago, I thought it was pretty funny. There are stores in New York City that have been 'going out of business' for months and even sometimes years. They're usually electronic stores or those place that sell really big, ugly sculptures of horses; Chinese snuff bottles and Faberge eggs.

It turns out this was for just for Men in Black 3—which in a way makes it even funnier. Within 24 hours, the store was returned to its usual state.

It's not the first time I was fooled by a 'set' in the city.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Here is Logos Bookstore

Logos Bookstore on York Ave and 84th St carries You Are Here

Dorothy Parker (a true Westsider) complained that her apartment on First Avenue in Manhattan “was far enough east you can plant tea.”

I am of that same ilk who regard traveling beyond 6th Avenue as quite a chore. It involves much planning—plotting out bus routes, packing a lunch and finding someone to look after your cat.

But once you’re the there, the Eastside has something we sadly no longer have on the Westside—oodles of small businesses. 

A perfect example is Logos Bookstore, owned by Harris Healy—a man who looks like his name, with a slightly askew bowtie.

Logos is about the size of my apartment. It’s cozy. There’re ladders to get to the higher shelves and a small, but amazing selection of books. And there are no mass markets—except Penguin Classics. 

It's a great bookstore for browsing. “This looks interesting.” “Oh, I read that but loaned my copy to Steven and he never gave it back.” “Aunt Lois would love this.” You'll find books you forgot about and ones you didn't realize were in existence.

Logos makes me think how wonderful it’d be to live on the Eastside. I could go to there every week. I could start reading all those classics that would make me a better writer. I could join their 'Kill Your TV Reading Group.'

But then I realize I could never live on the Eastside. I have no desire to plant tea.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

You Are Here Reading/Riding Double Decker Tour Bus

You Could Be Here on April 9th

To celebrate the release of You Are Here, I will give a free reading of short stories on top of a double-decker tour bus on Saturday, April 9th, 2011.

If you've never ridden a double-decker bus in New York (and how many New Yorkers have?), you'll be awe-struck by the pigeon-eye views. You'll feel almost god-like looking down at the city.

Combine that with hearing short stories set in New York and you've got yourself a perfect afternoon.

Bus departs: 1PM from the northwest corner of 7th Avenue and 34th Street. (Copies of You Are Here are available at Penn Books in Penn Station).

1st Stop: Logos Bookstore (York Avenue and 84th Street) at approximately 2PM for a quick signing and to pick up additional passengers.

Reading/tour ends: 3PM outside Perdition on 10th Avenue and 48th Street where $6 You Are Here cocktails will be served.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Here is Penn Books

Penn Books will be carrying You Are Here

It's located in Penn Station. There're two locations, one by New Jersey Transit and one by the LIRR. That's the one I usually go to. It's part of my ritual of going to the beach—buying a book to read on the train and while lying in the sand.

The book you take to the beach is as important as the right sunscreen. And 'beach read' doesn't have to be some trashy mass-market by an author who pumps out fourteen bestsellers a year. I bought Mary Gaitskill's Bad Behavior at Penn Books as a 'beach read.' And Forever by Pete Hamill. Things You Should Know by A.M. Homes. Colum McCann's Let The Great World Spin.

Penn Books has a small, but thoughtful selection of books. That's why it's easy to find something worth reading. You don't have to weed through shelf-after-shelf of trash. And the staff is knowledgeable without being pretentious.   

One of my characters in You Are Here—Alex is a clerk in Penn Books. He describes it as "a world of rushing and waiting." He met his wife, Zoë there when she bought Amanda Davis' Circling the Drain to take out to Montauk.

Zoë likes good fiction—especially short stories. I think she'd by a copy of You Are Here the next time she went out to Long Island.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Here is a Bit of Old New York

"Porno Paradise" by Roudou Dou

When I moved to the city, Times Square was all porn shops, empty theatres and strung-out hookers.
Giuliani started the clean-up. Mayor Mike continued to the point where it's now stores found in any American mall, patio furniture on Broadway and adults dressed as Elmo, Cookie Monster and SpongeBob Square Pants.
There're a few porn shops left like Show World—which is officially part of the Times Square Arts Center featuring stand-up comedy and 'Improv 4 Kids.' And the internet was also a big factor in the clean-up. Now people download porn in the comfort of their own home and hookers work through Craig's List.
There's something sad about the lack of public sleaze in the city. Our only hope is that those Elmos and Cookie Monsters are really hookers trying to turn tricks as they pose for photos with tourists from France.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Best a Man Can Get

This is a billboard on Crosby and Broome in SoHo. It’s Derek Jeter—in case you didn’t recognize him—I didn’t at first—and it was hand-painted last week. Derek had a five o’clock shadow then.

The next day, Derek was lathered up by the painters. The day after he was shaved clean.
And then the stubble appeared again. And he was lathered again. Then shaved.
This will continue until March 6th. Every day two painters will show up and groom the six-story face of the Yankees Captain. Every day they’ll apply black paint, white paint and flesh-colored paint to his upper lip, jaw and chin—carefully matching it to the print-out from BBDO.
The official term for this is ‘advertecture.’
And this is why Gillette blades are so expensive.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

American Standard

It’s ‘Pay What You Wish’ at the Guggenheim on Saturdays from 5:45 to 7:45

My friend Liz Heeden said that it’s impossible to take a bad picture of the Guggenheim Museum. I agree, but I also think it’s impossible to take a photo of the Guggenheim that’s not s cliché.
The Guggenheim is the only Frank Lloyd Wright building in New York City (he hated the place), but the millionaires of Fifth Avenue weren’t happy about it. They thought that Wright (a socialist) designed it to look like a toilet as an elaborate joke on the wealthy.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Vini, Vidi, Venti

You’ll see this and other treasures of the NY’s underworld at MOB Scene.

This is a photo from MOB Scene—a tiny, new museum on Broome Street in what’s left of Little Italy.
That’s Albert Anastasia, the boss of the Gambino Crime Family on the floor. He was getting his haircut in the barber shop at the Park Central Hotel and got whacked.

His murder remains officially unsolved, but it’s widely believed that it was done by Joe Gallo.  Gallo was gunned down years later in Umberto's Clam House—which is still in Little Italy, but at a different location.

The barber shop in the Park Central is now a Starbucks.
You’ll get free admission to MOB Scene if you mention my name. It’s actually free to everyone, but it’ll make you sound connected.

Here is What's Important

Phone kiosk on 3rd Avenue and 29th Street

I don’t own a TV, so I miss out on a lot of what’s going on in the world.
I’d never heard of the Kardashians until a couple of tourists asked me where the Dash store was. They were horrified that I lived in New York but were unaware of their existence.
I know now and my life is much richer.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Modern Canine Art

Dog piss on 5th Avenue—just across from the Guggenheim.

In New York City, even dogs like to show off their creativity. They piss in different colors and create spectacular designs. Winter of course, is the only time of year when we can appreciate this.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Here is the Eden of Rock-n-Roll

Ever stay here?

Here is the guestroom of Marty Boratin and Susan Tanner’s house in Eden, NY (just outside Buffalo).
For years, Marty has been booking bands in the city, then putting them up for the night and cooking them amazing food.

When he and Susan got married, they built this incredible house and upgraded the guest conditions to the level of the Plaza. There’s a Jacuzzi in the bath and the guestroom itself is decorated in vintage souvenirs. There’s also a lovely selection of complimentary postcards and the finest concierge service on the planet.  
Bands that have stayed with Susan and Marty include: Jon Langford, The Fleshtones, Bad Livers, The Drams, The Icicles, The Big Sleep, Cowboy Junkies, Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash, Carolyn Mark, Das Damen and Fugazi

Famous and infamous writers have stayed here as well.

Marty and Susan are currently working on a memoir/cookbook about their adventures.