Monthly Archives: January 2009

This Post has Nothing to do with Anything

Sometimes, the internets (and friends) deliver exactly what you need, when you need it most. The below appeared in my inbox during a day week (this one) where I wasn’t feeling particularly awesome .

Dear [Downtown]

Q: How hard do you rock? How frequently?

A: Very hard. Very frequently.

sb

SnOw-Bama 3 of 3

Central Park, New York, NY       January 20, 2009

Central Park, New York, NY January 20, 2009

A new day dawns as the sun sets over Central Park on the day the 44th President of the United States was sworn into office.

SnOw-Bama Man

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SnOw-Bama man smiles proudly overlooking Low Library Plaza as Columbia University students, faculty, staff and alumni celebrated the inauguration of the school’s first graduate to become president.

SnOw-Bama Part I

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On a day filled with hope, frigid uptown temperatures allowed New Yorkers to shout out to President O in the snow.

New York Moments

This is one of those posts where I’ll admit nothing much as happened outside of work and sleep. Between the day job and looming writing deadlines, I’m a bit overwhelmed at the moment (though THRILLED the money’s coming in and making its way into my savings account). But, I have managed to sneak some fun in.

Last week found me at a book party hosted by the son of the 99th richest person in the world. The book party was for a client of mine and I was thrilled at the opportunity to toast her writing semple-cover-image-w-text2achievement on this coast. I didn’t actually think I’d know anyone at the party, but ended up knowing a bunch of film/television people, writers and even the bartender! The brownstone was, of course, awesome, but it was the artwork and photography that really thrilled me. From Brillo Boxes and an Elvis Warhol (or is that Warhol Elvis?) to Maira Kalman, Karl Lagerfeld and Man Ray, Weegee, Diane Arbus and Elizabeth Peyton. Gorgeous stuff, thoughtfully placed and still managed to make the place feel like a home and not a gallery of over-sized fancy art. A fun night with an eclectic group of uptowners, downtowners and Aspen-ers.

Today was a little more low-key as I headed up to B’way and 95th to check out a friend’s newly purchased apartment, a beautiful penthouse with terraces and tons of light. We spent the afternoon105753 making a late breakfast and catching up, while her boyfriend played DJ for us with his iPod. Then, I headed down to the Lincoln Center area to cash in a gift card for a massage (lovely!) After an hour of total bliss, I was asked if I wanted a courtesy shampoo and blow dry in their new salon. Umm, YES, please! As I headed out of the spa and to the subway, a light snow began to fall and for a single moment, I felt completely calm and at peace and simply happy to be exactly where I was. All of the chaos of New York fell away … until an Evangelical Christian and his associate interrupted my moment and attempted to preach “the word of God” to me. From bliss to religious salvation in less than a block. Only in New York.

Now back to the grind.

–Downtown

Service Call

Who knew that the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, signed into law thanks to the efforts of Katie Hall (D-IN) and others in 1983, was transformed in 1994 by Congress into “a national day of community service to further commemorate a man who lived his life in service to others?”

Fifteen years later, the internet savvy Presidential Inaugural Committee established a website USAservice.org for Americans who seek a way/place to volunteer in service to their communities.

According to the USAservice.org, “As a tribute to that legacy and the very real needs of our nation, the President-elect and Vice President-elect have launched a national organizing effort on the eve of their Inauguration to engage Americans in service.”

The site gives users an opportunity to find and view events by zip code AND sign up. One stop shop to serve others. Start with a day and see what happens…

A cursory glance for service activities in my zip code listed volunteer opportunities with Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Roosevelt Island and Central Park CleanUp, ChangeNYC food drive, Big Brother and Big Sisters, City Meals on Wheels, Women of Islam Inc., Up2Us = Service Through Sports, Asian Americans for Obama/Latinos for Obama and South Asians for Obama to deliver food to the Homebound Elderly, New York Cares and many, many more.

So…we’ve got the day off. Let’s do something.

Ah, Life IS Good.

There’s something quite luxurious about the services offered to me as an Upper East Side matron. When I first arrived in NYC in my second life as an adult (grew up in NY, moved to LA where I really grew up, now back in NY) in September 2007, I was struck by the convenience of the telephone call to have almost anything delivered, usually for a fee. Grocery shopping is done with the click of a mouse, thanks to Fresh Direct but over time, I’ve come to learn that advance planning is a must and I’m bugged by the amount of packaging the company uses to protect and pack their consumables.

Just across the Park from our apartment, in the Time Warner Center underground, Whole Foods provides shoppers a beautiful assortment of fresh foods and vegetables and a wide array of prepared foods, including julienne carrots and sliced cucumbers. Early on, I came to appreciate the “best times to shop” sticker that greeted the shopper as she reached the cashier. You know, so as to avoid the crowds next time. While one might think that the crowds would have dwindled given premium prices in an economic downturn, the store maintains the best times to shop stickers and for additional ease, like most retailers, offers to deliver your goods within a four-hour window for a fee based on location. Suffice it to say, 8:30am on a Monday morning is a great time to market. 7p Monday evening is not, unless you want to wait in line for 10 minutes (which for some single New Yorkers might be of interest).

The delivery fee for our east side address is $8.95, nearly $3 more than the cost of cab fare. Last week, I lugged three bags of groceries, in my own reusable bags (good thinking ahead, ms. eco-friendly), hopped in a cab, one of several that conveniently awaits the burdened shopper, and was chauferred to my door front. Our doorman, perhaps my favorite in a group of four who rotated shifts, greeted me as I exited the cab, “You hold on to your coffee, Mrs. S,” kills me everytime, the Mrs. label, aye yaye yaye and he instructed me as he carried the bags to the elevator, pushed my floor and sent me on my merry way.

I’m continually struck by my adult-indulged lifestyle. I am grateful and hope that at some point today, and for the duration, I can do something to make someone else’s day easier and/or better. Cheers.

All My Sons

imagesWhen it comes to celebrity, people tend to get excited and push and shove and even pay (pinkie swear) for prime viewing spots/shots.. So when the 14-year old, my husband and I exited the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre after a Saturday matinee last month, rather than hit the sidewalk and proceed on our merry way, we found ourselves corraled into a rectangular formation of metal barriers, in place to ogle over the actors as they, too, exited.

The Arthur Miller play closes it’s Broadway run on January 11. Cast members include John Lithgow (Joe Keller), Diane Wiest, (Kate Keller), Patrick Wilson (Chris Keller) and Katie Holmes (Ann Deaver).

We three enjoyed the performance, it’s poignant truths and a reference to the inherent value of General Motors stock. Although the preliminary instruction from the stage tells the audience it is “set in our era,” the play was written in 1947 at a time when a GM share would have been worth tk compared to today’s value of 4.13 +0.19 (4.82%) Jan 7, 4:00PM EST

Suffice it to say, when in Rome post-theatre, I snapped away and this is what I got… Katie Holmes and Suri Cruise outside stage doors after a Saturday afternoon performance of Arthur Miller's "All My Sons"

It’s Always Something

The 11 year old and I headed to the Washington Heights Armory late this afternoon to watch a high school track meet img_3533 in which the 14 year old did her thing.

It’s a quick ride north to 168th Street on the No. 1 train during which the 11 year old noted that everyone in the subway spoke Spanish. Everyone but the two of us, of course, which is only fodder for the school kid to continue his language studies. He proceeded to conjugate ir/to go for me and told me how to say 168th Street in Spanish. In less than 20 minutes, we arrived at the designated subway station, with it’s high ceilings, globe lanterns img_3517, wall mounted lighting, AND an overpass (rather than the underpass to traverse the tracks, all of which looked quite different from midtown and downtown stations. One of the highlights as we headed toward the station exit was an obligatory elevator ride up to ground level. An “operator” sat on a stool nestled behind a yellow barricade of sorts while he pushed buttons. He played a recording of latin music for our listening enjoyment. No head phones, the real deal.

Once above ground, it’s hard not to notice NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center as it covers most of the surrounding blocks. Historically, Washington Heights was a refuge for eastern European Jews and for all I know, my paternal grandparents lived there before they “made it” in the garment industry and moved to Lawrence, NY. I’ll never know since there’s no one around to ask… Today, it’s said to have a heavy concentration of Dominicans but a Starbucks on a corner overshadowed any obvious ethnicity. Of course, our mission was to find The Armory, an indoor track and field situation for high schoolers. Who knew? The 100 year old building charged $5 for spectator admission but it was well worth the price to see the interior and cheer for the home team. When I asked the 11 year old, if he was enjoying our adventure north, he replied “every minute of it,” and smiled sincerely. It helped that his school had athletes racing in the boys’ heats.

Legwork complete, we headed homeward. Again, though in reverse, it was easy to ride the No. 1 train south from 168th street. We hopped off at Columbus Circle to catch the No. 5 bus across town. During the transfer, a series of police cars lined the circle, in formation, img_3542 red lights flashing. The officers informed us that “occasionally they are stationed at random points for surveillance.” Sure. Whatever. The bus came, we rode across town in time to see Bergdorf Goodman’s creepy holiday window decorations img_3553 being dismantled. The snowflake twinkling above the intersection of 57th Street on Fifth Avenue, however, still shines bright, img_35472 as a reminder of UNICEF’s efforts to help save, protect and improve the lives of children around the world through immunization, education, health care, nutrition, clean water and sanitation. There’s so much to be done…

Salaam, City Dwellers

No sooner had I dodged nearly 15 black clad male paparazzi who were hot on the trail of Kate Hudson as she, together with two friends, exited Barneys on Madison Ave at 61st Street did I hear the chants of men img_3509 marching northbound on Park Avenue between 61st and 65th Streets.

I recalled a similar procession this time last year, when a group of Shiite observers, both men and women, gathered together, albeit the fairer sex stands at the tail end or along the perimeter, in memory of the death of Hussein, the grandson of Islamic prophet, Mohammed. Many of the male participants beat their chests as a display of their devotion to Imam Husayn and in remembrance of his suffering during the Battle of Karbala. Most of the people are dressed in black for mourning, there is a ceremonial white horse clad in colorful regalia and young boys carry signs and ceremonial banners. img_3484

A group of four or five men offered me a cup of tea from their truck img_3479when I asked what was in their cauldron. I accepted and learned that the procession takes place in Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar and serves as a way to remember the loss of a leader.

Bystanders from the toney upper east side neighborhood are used to seeing parades that flow along Fifth Avenue. There’s the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the Puerto Rican Day Parade and last year, we watched the Pope in his Pope Mobile roll merrily along.

Because the procession spanned a space of four blocks, the police cars and their blinking red lights could be seen at the beginning and the end of the gathering. Larger gatherings, like the ones that residents from the tony upper east side are more familiar with, are also led and concluded by squad cars. Similarly, we watch the parades and observe differences, as in the German Day parade where Alpine men where lederhosen march to the tune of an oompah band.

One lady in her 70’s, who wasn’t Muslim, remarked that she’d never seen anything like this before in all her years in the ‘hood. A man in his 50’s explained that it wasn’t new, that they were Shias and that in other parts of the world, processions like the one today happen with regularity. A doorman told me that the procession ran along the Avenue up to the Pakistani consul’s office on East 65th Street. I didn’t stick around to follow the trail. Suffice it to say, for some the sight is new. For our children, it is their multi-dimensional, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic world.

May we all live together in peace and prosperity.