Monthly Archives: February 2008

Just Another Manic Monday: Downtown Edition

There are some things that are quintessentially New York: Elaine’s, the (now defunct) CBGBs, Central Park, Washington Square Park and of course, the ubiquitous sounds of upstairs neighbors in your pre-war apartment. I used to joke that the woman above me had a pony running around up there. I heard her at all hours of the day and night, convinced she wore hooker heels to bed at night. There are also the occasional funky sounds of music scales being practiced and some DJ mixing. Nothing too overbearing, as there would be long stretches of silence in between the pony-clodding, but enough that anyone who comes over makes a joke about it.

Well, dear Uptown, I finally met my neighbor this evening when I noticed a sudden rainstorm had begun … coming from my bathroom ceiling. This has happened once before, luckily this time the water was (somewhat) clear. I heard water running from above me and quickly ran upstairs to find out what my neighbor was doing to cause such gushing.

My NeighborI knocked. And a woman of an undetermined age (ranging widely from early 40s-early 50s) answered the door. She had a punk rock meets Rizzo and the Pink Ladies look, spandex leggings, a black fitted cotton polo shirt with a hand-stitched leopard fur collar that was offset by her wildly frizzy hair and olive skin. The first thing she said to me was, “you have water leaking into your apartment too, don’t you?” and opened her door wide enough for me to enter and follow her into the bathroom.

Forget the water for a minute, I know I did. I love looking in people’s apartments, but hers now tops my fascination list. I stepped into the Culture Club circa 1984. The living room walls were neon green, which contrasted nicely with two electric blue bookcases, dingy white shag rug and white Formica console table fashioned to hold her DJ turntables and vast record collection. The small glimpse I got of the kitchen revealed hot pink walls and framed music posters and album covers, all featuring a younger version of the woman standing before me. As we made our way into the bathroom, I saw a closet full of crazy neon colored outfits and a wardrobe of what can be best described as costumes — I don’t think a cross-dresser or a stripper would wear most of the stuff in that closet. The bathroom itself had red walls and black-painted cabinets. Oh, and her ceiling was gushing like a tropical storm that happened to be fixed in one spot. We inspected the damage, lamented on the state of the building and the super and then, I left to wait for someone to come and open up my ceiling to inspect the damage — not before noticing the name “Lady Miss Keir,” written on the various posters and records hanging on the apartment walls.

Immediately upon returning to my apartment, I did what any other human being would do, I Googled “Lady Miss Keir.” Here’s what I got from our friends at Wikipedia:

Lady Miss Keir was the lead singer of pop band, Deee-Lite, a House and Club/Dance group formed in New York City. Their best known single is “Groove Is in the Heart“, from their 1990 debut album, World Clique. However, Deee-Lite achieved longer lasting success on the U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart, where they scored six number-one hits. Lady Miss Keir still tours the world today as both a solo act and International DJ.”

Clearly the next thing that popped into my head was:

The chills that you/Spill up my back/Keep me filled with/Satisfaction when we’re done/Satisfaction of what’s to come/I couldn’t ask for another/No I couldn’t ask for another/Your groove I do deeply dig/No walls only the bridge/My supperdish, my succotash wish/(Sing it baby)/I couldn’t ask for another/No I couldn’t ask for another/Groove is in the heart/Ah-ah-ah-ah/Groove is in the heart/Ah-ah-ah-ah/Groove is in the heart/Groove is in the heart/Ah-ah-ah

I also found her website, where it occurred to me there was something I could do about all of the noise … I could click on her Tour page and see when she’d be out of town next to know, in advance, when I could expect silence. And what do you know, in two weeks she’ll be in Russia! Then, Helsinki and Vegas and on and on. It also occurred to me this is a great way to keep track of your neighbor’s schedule. I can now anticipate when I should expect the vocal exercises and DJ-ing to increase (before upcoming concerts) and when I can look forward to not being awakened at 3 am to sounds of high heels stamping in the bedroom above. I’ve now bookmarked the website to keep tabs on her. And, since I’m sure she has a Google alert set to any mentions of her name, a special shout out from your downstairs neighbor: Lady Miss Keir, I’ve downloaded “Groove is in the Heart,” and have just single-handedly increased your royalty check by 12 cents. After all, what are neighbors for?

-Downtown

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What’s for Supper?

Hi snowy suburban friend,

After four inches of fluffy snow this morning, the central part of the city is super slushy. Spent the day uptown, crossing the Park three of four times by cab and the fourth on the cross-town bus. Intended to walk, boots and all, but ran short of time since I also had to visit the 10-year old’s school with boots for his after-school activity.

I’m “officially” consulting for the Center for Curatorial Leadership and the offices are on east 80th street one half block from Eli’s.

eli’sWowie. To think we’ve lived here for nearly 18 months without entering this fancy food emporium. (ok, I did once at some point in the time but it was a blur and I was distracted by and on a mission in search of decorative paper goods (which are in abundance). From the outside, the joint doesn’t look tremendously inviting. A passerby catches a glimpse of the flower “market” on the corner but continuing north on Third Ave, Eli’s café offers drab atmosphere but the food is grrrrrreat. And just north of that, enter THE market which is greater than great. Jars and foods are beautifully displayed floor to ceiling. I shopped in anticipation of the ten-year old and friends who were to come to the apartment after sledding in the Park. While an initial invite for hot chocolate was extended, I added gorgeous marshmallows, cheese puffs, veggie chicken soup and grilled cheese on brioche to the mix. And then I discovered the balls of pizza dough, uncooked chocolate chippers and oatmeal raisin cookies good for slicing and baking. Since it was snowy, the market wasn’t crowded, it was lots of fun simply looking at the displays.

As I waited in what was a three person check out line, I remembered my early years spent across town on the Upper West side. My parents loved Zabar’s where they’d pick up bagels and nova scotia salmon for weekend morning. The guys behind the counter were always a bit gruff with their New Yawk accents. The orange lettering of the Aabar’s logo remains the same on that side of town. Every now and then I wander into that location in the hope that I’ll find healthy dinner-fare to serve the family. Revisiting the folks’ past doesn’t make me feel as sad as it did initially upon our return. Instead, I’m slowly coming to recall the happy memories. In today’s food indulgence, I suspect the gratitude for the parents has to do with their sharing with me an appreciation of food, of good design, of color

eli’s

By the way, I rarely find anything “healthy” to serve the family from Zabars (uws). It always strikes me as fatty, gross and no one ever eats the stuff anyway. The kids like Zabars egg salad and sliced mangos. Picky picky picky. Which brings me back to the eastside.

The boys opted out of sledding which meant that they stayed west for play ergo my second east-west-east trip. Guess what we’re having for dinner?

More Tales From the ‘burbs

Sitting in my childhood bedroom, trying to do work, make calls, be productive while distractions abound: my dad knocks on the door to inform me there’s a deer in the backyard and I should come and take a look (didn’t even notice I was on a conference call); my mom yells upstairs for me to email her an address of a mutual friend; then shortly after calls my cell to ask if I would edit her real estate listing for her right now because it needs to be sent out in ten minutes. All of this, of course, leads to me unloading the dishwasher, setting the table for tonight’s dinner party and then getting ready for said dinner party.

5040.jpgAs I try to get in a free hour of work before the guests arrive, I hear the thumping of a microphone coming from the living room below me. Then, the first few bars of an electronic version of a Billy Joel song. And finally, my sister’s half speaking-half singing voice trying to keep up with the lyrics to “It’s Still Rock ‘n Roll to Me,” as they flash across the TV screen. Most families have cocktail hour on Friday evenings, mine has Karaoke hour. Let the ear-bleeding begin!

P.S. She scored a 25 out of a possible 100 on her rendition of that tune. I’m sure Billy Joel would be super proud.

-Downtown

Tales from the ‘burbs

I left downtown last night to hop a train to the ‘burbs in anticipation of a morning meeting with a client in NJ. Things did not go quite as planned this morning when I woke up to the following scene outside my childhood bedroom window
Snow day
My client called shortly thereafter to cancel our meeting. Snow day! Well, not quite. I am taking advantage of the day and cuddling up on the couch doing work in my sweats, surrounded by window-paned views of a winter wonderland — and the occasional snuggle from the pup.

Now back to work!

-Downtown

and another thing, on Parenting Teens, this just in…maybe I…

Ueban Baby

Following is a second and final set of answers from Erin Sheehan, the community editor for UrbanBaby, who took questions from readers this week about parenting in New York City and other urban areas. A previous set of answers was posted on Feb. 13.

All of these questions bring back a lot of memories. But as a mother of a 15-year-old, I’d love to see a blog or column address raising teenagers in the city — limits, money, friends, Internet access – all the good stuff. New York Times, take me up on this!

Benita

Your sentiments echo some of UrbanBaby’s message board users. We have users of all ages and in different life stages. Some join the community because they are still interested in connecting with other mothers on issues that all women continue to face regardless of the ages of their children. We’ve even had members admit that they do not have children, but they continue to tap into the UrbanBaby community for advice, support, entertainment and the sharing of life experience. After a quick search, I found numerous blogs dedicated to parents raising teenagers, but I was not able to find one specifically for New York City moms. Perhaps you have thought about staring one yourself?

A Night Uptown

Uptown,

I spent the evening in your neck of the Manhattan woods, at Columbus Circle’s Jazz at Lincoln Center in the beautiful Allen Room. I met KW there to see the Punch Brothers play — a group of good-looking and extremely talented 20-something musicians. I have a small crush on Noam, the banjo player, but an even larger crush on the Allen Room itself. There’s something both intimate and vast about the space. It’s like your brain can’t decide how to classify the size because of the incredible view of Columbus Circle, Central Park, the uptown skyline. The “spectacular-ness” of the night increased when, just as the music slowed down, the evening’s special guest, the eclipse, covered the moon.

Nature, music and the urban energy all combined to create a truly magical moment, where only the lights of the city and rose glow of the stage spots looked like candles in the ink black night. One of those moments that reminds me of why I love New York.

-Downtown

Talkin’ About No Generation

“I don’t have a generation,” stated Suzanne Vale in Carrie Fisher’s autobiographical film, Postcards From the Edge. “Well then I think you’d better get one,” her agent, Marty Wiener, answered with a smile.

The generation label has a lot to do with identity. You’re given a label: The Greatest Generation, The Silent Generation, The Lost Generation, Generation Jones, The Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y. But then there are those like me, and perhaps, Suzanne Vale, caught in the middle — on the cusp of two generations.

I was born in 1981, under a new president, a new decade and a few years before MTV hit the airwaves. I can identify with most everything that falls under Generation X, but they seem to scoff at the notion of including any children of the 80s in their club. On the other hand, I can’t really relate to Generation Y, my sister’s generation (1982-1997), because I didn’t spend my ultra-formative years on a computer, watching reality tv or thinking I didn’t have to work as hard as my parents to succeed.

At our multi-generational gathering in the Meatpacking District the other evening, I talked with Jeff Gordinier, author of the upcoming book, X Saves the World: How Generation X Got the Shaft but Can Still Keep Everything From Sucking. When defining Generation X, Jeff turned to what most other Gen Xers would, Wikipedia.com and averaged it out from about 1962-1977. What happens to those in the middle? They’re just hanging out on the cusp?

Which leads me to the idea that perhaps people in these “cusp years,” are more likely to wonder about their identity and feel without focus throughout their lives. Are we a part of the generation that’s making a difference? Or are we “all about Me?” And if we are truly in the middle, how do you strike a balance between the two, giving back, but still thinking about yourself? Perhaps that’s just part of the eternal struggle in every individual and not a generational thing at all. Still, it would be nice to not always feel like I’m on the edge. I’d like it if someone handed me one of the many road maps we use to navigate in a lifetime. It might make the trip feel a little more Hollywood and a little less like a Robert Frost poem.

-Downtown