December 31, 2013

I was thinking that what cocaine & money have in common is greed: The more you have, the more you want, even if you have no liking/use for them.

Fast away the old year passes

December 30, 2013

Another one bites the dust.

And we're still here.

Here's to art, joy, adventure, the highwire, croissants, love, & lots more.

Buster Maurice Stanton Nauen

December 29, 2013

Bad bad Buster Nauen
Fattest cat in the whole downtown

Karate musings

December 27, 2013

They say that being a black belt means you enough to start training. I really felt that today in Nidaime's class. His pointers were illuminating & I finally knew what to do with them. Whether or not I can demonstrate them accurately and elegantly is another story, but I no longer (after 2 years as a black belt, almost 7 years of training) feel like I'm in a foreign country. A few subjects—poetry, Judaism—have stayed interesting but karate is the first with a physical component that has continued to absorb me.

Barbara Stanwyck

December 26, 2013

What a pleasure to see Barbara Stanwyck & Fred MacMurray in a 1940 film called Remember the Night (but why that title?), with a screenplay by Preston Sturges. Stanwyck plays her usual smart, sexy, knowing dame, & FMacM is attractive except I guess you're cultured if you can manage not to be reminded of him as the hapless dad in My Three Sons. Fun to be at Film Forum on a sleepy Christmas. And the reason non-celebrators eat Chinese food is because nothing else is open, that's all.

Fall on your knees

December 25, 2013

Winter in Sioux Falls, the Cathedral in the background
If you can't be homesick on Christmas, when can you? Like many (most? all?) Jews, I love the holiday lights, the music (although I didn't go caroling this year), eggnog, parties, the smell of fir .... uncomplicated by family melodrama. Christmas: our most perfect holiday.


December 23, 2013

The north wall of Donostia
Had breakfast at Donostia, a brand-new Basque restaurant on Ave B between 9th & 10th, right across from the park, where a pet food store used to be with an ugly green awning. Dunno why they are open for breakfast but we were happy (funny how many breakfast-type diners are not open in the morning). I had a tortilla, which is sort of a potato omelet, filled with leeks. We learned a lot about the area his family is from: the isolation; the language that's not like any others, which leads experts to think it might be Europe's oldest: "It has no structural relationship with the Romance languages nor with the Germanic ones"; the many hidden Jews, forced to convert 500 years ago. He only didn't know about Basque poetry.


December 23, 2013

December 23, 1991
& counting


December 22, 2013

Johnny left at 5:30 to be at work at 6. At 7, his job called—where was he?


I called half an hour later: have you heard from him?

Oh, he's right here.

Put him on!

The snow chronicles VI

December 19, 2013

Tags: snow

Ice ribbon aka frost flower
51° isn't really putting me in the white mood.

But random facts do, like knowing that Saturn's rings are up to 99% ice. And thinking about cold things like polar bears, penguins, & ice ribbons.

The snow chronicles V

December 19, 2013

Tags: snow, ice

Precipitate is a 1528 word that means hurl headlong, probably related to precipice via Latin. Precipitation is 50 years older—the act of casting down. It took till the mid 1600s for precipitous to make its appearance.

We fling ourselves recklessly into the joy of snow.

The snow chronicles IV: bad neighbor

December 18, 2013

Tags: snow, Rite-Aid

A third of the mural. See the door to gauge its size.
I remember something I don't like about snow, and that is when businesses don't bother to clear it away; eventually—predictably!—the snow turns to slush turns to bumpy, slippy, dangerous ice. The worst offender near me is the Rite-Aid on my corner. They usually manage to clear in front of their store on First Avenue but neglect the long 5th Street sidewalk.

I've been trying to get them to be responsible about it for years. Sometimes they lie: It's not our responsibility (wrong); no one told us (no one told you you're not two-dimensional? no one told you if you're on a corner you have two sidewalks?) (more…)

The snow chronicles III: the real thing

December 17, 2013

2 p.m. on 5th St
It's kind of hard to think abstractly when it's actually falling. So often in the city we don't get snow till January, so I'm optimistic that I'm going to be happy this whole season. It wasn't a lot today, & it's stopped for the time being, but who knows? I might be happy again this very afternoon. It doesn't take much.

I mean, I could move to Churchill, Manitoba, or to Buffalo or back to Sioux Falls. New York's got more than snow so I guess it's not the only thing I care about.

That picture's a little underwhelming, isn't it? How come it can snow all day & that's all there is?

Sibling rivalry

December 16, 2013

JF & OdH
Seeing that Joan Fontaine died (at 96) made me think of the lifetime estrangement between her & her sister Olivia de Havilland (who is still alive, at age 97). Are famous sisters more likely to be estranged than famous brothers or siblings of different sexes? Dear Abby & Ann Landers. A.S. Byatt & Margaret Drabble. Is it because these three pairs were all in the same profession?

Eric & Julia Roberts come up as a brother-sister pair, and (more…)

The snow chronicles II: my hobby

December 15, 2013

I dream all year of snow: I guess that makes it my hobby. Yesterday, it snowed all day in the city, very nicely, although it didn't really stick till the evening. (No pictures, cuz I don't do that on the sabbath.) I walked for miles, joy tamped only by the rude shitfacers of santacon, who like nothing more than walking 5 abreast & right through anyonegoing the other way (that would be me). I felt like throwing an uppercut or 2 but instead I watched the snow fall & got all gooey-serene again.

The snow chronicles I

December 13, 2013

Tags: snow, ice

Whosoever will be an enquirer into Nature let him resort to a conservatory of Snow or Ice. —Francis Bacon

I am an enquirer into Art! Can I get there through Snow just as much as a naturalist?

We'll see....


December 12, 2013

Photo taken at Christie & Rivington, looking west
What the heck is this? It seems too elaborate for an art project but it pretty clearly isn't a residential or commercial building. I am going to try to find it closer up & maybe the answer will be revealed....

Update: I finally saw it facing east, & realized t's on top of the New Museum on the Bowery. It is art.


December 11, 2013

"The ranks of the poor have risen, with almost half of New Yorkers living near or below the poverty line. Their traditional anchors—affordable housing and jobs that pay a living wage—have weakened as the city reorders itself around the whims of the wealthy.... One in five American children is now living in poverty, giving the United States the highest child poverty rate of any developed nation except for Romania." (more…)

English novelists

December 10, 2013

Tags: Angela Thirkell, E.F. Benson, Barbara Pym

A few writers I really like are of the same ilk, descendants of Trollope, I guess you could say.

Angela Thirkell (1890-1961) is explicitly related: Her novels, which she turned out once a year for around 40 years, were set in Trollope's Barsetshire. Her books are light and gently satiric, but literary too: middlebrow. Her grandfather was the Pre-Raphaelite painter Edward Burne-Jones, & she was a first cousin of Rudyard Kipling & (more…)

East Village sights

December 9, 2013

So often, strolling around my nabe, I will suddenly see something I've never seen before or at least never noticed. This church is on 13th just west of B. It's hard to tell but on either side of the sign are tile crosses—the whole thing a little Mexican. Like the old shtiebls of the Lower East Side where the Orthodox once prayed, I imagine these storefront evangelical churches are losing ground to expensive condos & fancy bars.

When I was a driver

December 8, 2013

After my last car got stolen in 1998, I became sensible & didn't replace it. Being a pedestrian sucked & I felt infantilized, even though I was free of tickets, alternate-side parking, and the glass tax (how I referred to replacing windows that people broke in the hopes you'd left something valuable in your vehicle) .

Eventually, I began to see that my bicycle gave me equivalent mobility, just in a smaller area.

Now I'm back to wishing I had a car, not that we go anywhere, & the parking and traffic are worse than ever. It's supposed to snow this afternoon. I want this truck, in the snow, festooned with holiday lights. Instead, I'm going home for tea & to read a book. That's just as good, right?

Steve or Dave?

December 6, 2013

Tags: Steve, Dave

I have at least 2 acquaintances that I can't remember if their name is Steve or Dave.

Come to think of it, it's probably Dave, because I automatically rename most Steves I know, or the ones I like in any event: One Steve, who I've known since I was 19, is known as Willis (his last name, to be sure). There's a Cookie (he calls me Steve) & a Frankie. It's gotten so (more…)


December 5, 2013

Tags: Alyssa Ettinger

My old colleague Alyssa made these, and much other beautiful pottery.

If you're looking for holiday gifts, you can click on the photo caption to go to her site.

She also was a great help last summer by taking me shopping at IKEA in Brooklyn. Thanks to her, Johnny came home from rehab to nice pillows, a down comforter, good drinking glasses—a refurbished home, a home we are happy in.

The young Stanton

December 4, 2013

Tags: Johnny

Johnny texting at his first communion
When I met Johnny's mother, I told her I'd love to hear stories about him from when he was young.

"I don't remember any," she said.

"I'd love to see photos of him as a kid."

"I don't have any," she said.

That was pretty much our only conversation ever. Where could I go from there?

I've only seen a handful of pictures of him from before I knew him. I get a glimpse of the young Johnny when he's with his first wife—he dances and teases in a teenage way that harks to them meeting in the '50s as kids.

I know him now & that will have to be enough.

Oooh, fun

December 3, 2013

Just about to start prepping for tomorrow's "procedure," & why does that sound worse than "colonoscopy"? It's not so bad—I've had yogurt, tea, pudding, & I'm about to swing by B&H for broth. Last time, 10 years ago, I only remember the IV v-al-ium/di/lau'did was so nice I only came to enough to demand "keep looking!"

Wednesday Update: Everything was fine in my colon, all 25 feet of it. ''
Update (Nov 3, 2018): For some reason, I keep getting spam comments to this post, every few weeks. Oh, I bet they are flagging the two drugs I praised, so I will rewrite them & see if that fools 'em into leaving this alone.

Dinner with friends

December 2, 2013

Tags: Alisa, Daphne, Grace, Robyn, Tracie, Angelica's, snow

The first miracle was that it was so easy for the six of us to pick a date & time.

The second is nothing more & nothing less than the great enjoyment of being together.

Angelica's is a little less than miraculous these days, although a couple of us remember when it was the first & only vegetarian place in the neighborhood. The walnut-lentil paté is still good: "vegetarian chopped liver!" Alisa exclaimed.

The only thing missing was snow, but that's usually missing.

A recruit!

December 1, 2013

Tags: Varda, Bingelbumpf

At synagogue yesterday, I sat in the balcony. Two boys were playing cards & I said, Do you want to learn a game?

One said no, the other beamed Yes!

I taught him the GGoBB® (aka the Great Game of Bingelbumpf™). He loved it, and even contributed an appropriately elaborate new rule, to which (more…)