bdgs at gramercy park and eataly at the flatiron district


This past Sunday found Emi and Jessie having six carefully chosen and funny comics for their show Bad Date Great Story at Gramercy Theatre. Are you thinking: Of course they’re “funny”? Well then, I’m asking: Have you ever watched an unfunny comic? I have, and it’s a rather agonizing experience because you feel for the struggling unfunny comic. Happily, that wasn’t the case this past Sunday. Which is the reason I want to say thank you! for the laughs, and fun, to: Joe DeVito, Katina Corraro, MadDog, Charla, Christie Walsh, and Matt Mercier.

My cousins, Pauline and Diane, came from New Hampshire to watch and enjoy the BDGS show. They decided to drive to the outskirts of NYC on Saturday, find a hotel there, and come into the city Sunday morning. I met them then, and we meandered around waiting for the theatre doors to open at 1:00pm. Though while waiting for me to come in from Philly, they saw a street festival on Broadway between 23rd and 14th Streets, and thoroughly loved eating their way to 14th Street – and back. If you met them you’d wish they were your relatives, too.

And as we were meandering around the neighborhoods, I said to my cousins: “The show is a little on the risqué side; are you all right with that? Their uproarious laughter was followed by Pauline’s tongue-in-cheek humor: “No, we’re not; we’re two virginal sisters, and you’ll have to explain everything to us.” – the laughter continued. And I know in my bones that that question of mine will haunt me, and bring lots of laughter to our family. Whatever was I thinking? I’m prepared; it’s okay, laughter is good for mind body spirit.

It’s not possible to be in the Flatiron District and not go to Eataly, at 200 Fifth Avenue. it’s an impressive “50,000 sq. ft. Italian marketplace.” And to say it’s impressive is an understatement. For this we have to thank Mario Batali, and his business partner Joe Bastianich, along with their partners, Lidia Bastianich and Oscar Farinetti.


I made a mental note that, sometime during the day of the next Bad Date Great Story show in June, I’ll meander over to Eataly to take in a little more of the eating and shopping experience. That sounds like a wonderful plan to me.

I’m wishing everyone a lovely full-of-laughter and fun kind of day.

“The Gig” a Collaboration of musicians and dancers at Steps

I just went to a brilliant event constructed by Whitney G-Bowley, a dancer who while dating a drummer back in college, was inspired to see dance and music live onstage together. Cut to now. January 2011, Steps dance studio on Broadway between 74th and 75th Street in Manhattan. Caleb Hawley is singer/composer/musician of the night whose work is performed on a stage in the large studio. Caleb was on “American Idol” last week, and his songs are beyond clever and hysterical, a perfect fit for the dancers who brought each lyric to life and kicked and flipped through every piece. It was a super idea of Whitney to bring so many gifted artists together! Caleb and his band were energetic and had fun while playing a great show, and the five trained dancers visually entertained and wowed us all on this very freezing NYC night, in the airy creative womb of a supportive excited crowd.

“The Gig” is aimed to show at The Highline Ballroom in March. I will post the details when they become available. For now here’s the event’s website:

a new yorker

If you live in Manhattan long enough you easily become a food snob. And often you’ll hear a New Yorker say that the pizza, the bagels, the coffee shops, the fine dining are better in Manhattan than anywhere else . . . in the world. Of course, many people would like to argue this point, but the truth is that it’s useless to argue this point with a Manhattanite. Somehow in the course of living in Manhattan, a person slowly becomes brainwashed. I’ve seen it happen time and time again. In fact, if you argue the point long enough, you’ll be treated to another list of what’s “better in New York than anywhere else.” I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but that it’s rather peculiar, and, at the same time, funny. Funny because a New Yorker takes it all so seriously. How do I know? I know because I was there once upon a time, and I understand how it all happens

When a New Yorker travels almost invariably someone can say without hesitation that that person is from New York because there’s an edge one develops after living there a while. It’s not good; it’s not bad. It just is. I’ve heard that it takes a good two weeks for a New Yorker to calm down when away on vacation.

Than again, as I think more on this subject, it’s certainly true that things have changed, and the category of food snob has widened to include many other cities — large and small. Indeed, New Yorkers, move over and make room for the others.

And enjoy the day.

park slope, brooklyn

Every so often I spend time in Brooklyn because Sumi, Toshi, and Sophie are there, and Emi comes whenever she can. Park Slope is a haven for raising children in a fairly stressless environment. Big chain stores haven’t found Park Slope. Thank God! Small restaurants, friendly charming cafes, small specialty clothing shops, alongside the existing excellent restaurants and shops, are opening. I’m beginning to realize that there are a lot of creative people living in Brooklyn.

When I think of Park Slope, Brooklyn I think of “It takes a village. . .” because the support is there for families – there are many child-friendly restaurants and cafes (and they really are that), entertainment for children, bookshops, small toy stores having toys mom and dad played with, friendly, helpful neighbors, and lots of character. And it has lovely Prospect Park.

Sometimes I feel a pang of sorts for the long-time residents who are seeing an influx of Manhattanites, and people from other areas, enter their what was once a rather quiet and private Park Slope. But then the pang disappears because that’s life, and the same thing is happening in Manhattan. Only in Manhattan it takes place just about every decade.

When the subway stops at the Park Slope station, and passengers climb the steps leading to the outside world, there’s a feeling of relief to see Park Slope. The stress of Manhattan can now be shed, a deep breath can be taken, no one scrambles to rush ahead of another, or to cut in front within inches of another. Definitely it’s a life lived with thoughtfulness, and this thoughtfulness tends to trickle into many other areas.

This is not to say that people in Manhattan are not thoughtful. No. It’s just that the extremely high energy can push anyone off center if they’re not mindful of the ease at which this can happen. I will always keep my love affair with Manhattan intact. It’s similar to any love affair though – there are always changes one would like to make, if one only could.

here and there

I put on a comfortable pair of shoes and walk the two miles to the train station and from the platform I stand facing the beautiful Hudson River. It’s the 5th of October and sweat can already be seen on the faces of people. No one is wearing a jacket. How nice it would be, I think, if we could all leap into the glistening water before us. And how funny that would be at the same time. Don’t you wish life could be that way every so often? You say to yourself, and perhaps to a few people standing next to you on the platform, “I’m not going to take the train today. Instead I’m going to strip down to my underwear, leave everything by the riverfront and swim today. What about you?” Hmm!

The train is ten minutes late (something about the tracks). Ahh, we arrive at grand Grand Central Terminal, and I walk-flitting between pedestrians-to my dentist’s office across from St. Patrick’s Cathedral. After that easy appointment I take a 5th Avenue bus to 23rd Street, get off the bus and walk west between 5th and 6th Avenues to Universal News and its big selection of magazines. Wonderful decisions to be made at this shop. With three magazines in hand, I walk over to 18th Street and Fifth Avenue then a little west to City Bakery. It’s packed, and one never knows how much food is left after lunch hour has come and gone. I head for the back area and see an assortment of nicely sauteed foods. Ahh, yes, there’s still enough left to fill a plate with all the delicious vegetables and fruits from the Farmers’ Market. I eat upstairs. Emi arrives. Her big purchase is a bottle of water. We wait at the check-out counter with its usually long line and where all the goodies are on display. Always there’s a dialogue here with oneself that goes like this, “No. you don’t need that. But, I’ve not really had any dessert lately. No? What about that chocolate bar two days ago? You know how you’ll feel after eating that baker’s muffin, or that enormous melted chocolate cookie. We’ve had this discussion before. Now stop it. Look at something else.”

We leave the goodies behind and walk to Union Square and hop on a train to Chinatown to see our much appreciated herbalist/acupuncturist. Again we happily leave with a bag of herbs tucked into a tote bag, and meander along the streets. The crowds in Chinatown can sometimes take your breath away. We don’t stay. It’s easy to slip into Little Italy from Chinatown. We marvel at the line already formed waiting to get into Ferrara’s on Grand Street, and we wander into DiPaola admiring its fresh cheeses and sausages, breads, pasta, bottles of olive oil, and much more. The temptation to buy is great, but schlepping it around is another matter. It seems just walking is the order of the day-to Mott Street, sometimes Mulberry Street, finally arriving at Dean and DeLuca at 560 Broadway to purchase a bar of soap for laundry and two bottles of water (we’re the last of the big spenders). That done we walk east then north looking at all the small fashionable shops, going in and out to survey the merchandise. <

Conversation begins to center on where to have dinner. We walk up and down the most interesting streets and somehow arrive at good ole reliable Veselka on 9th Street and 2nd Avenue. It’s very casual; we were thinking Italian but Ukranian is fine too. The food is good and dependable. As we leave we notice it’s an absolutely beautiful evening in Manhattan; people are out walking in full force. We continue onward toward 42nd Street and Park Avenue. Emi is heading in another direction, but not before we listen to a gathering of musicians perched on the steps. Their music fills Grand Central Terminal and many people have come to a full stop, standing, enjoying the music. A most unusual and delightful sight at GCT. Good night, Emi. It was a beautiful day.

On the train I take out Ode Magazine and read about what’s happening in other countries. In between pages I have to say a silent thank you for the lovely day I had.

a crowd at the station

This week an early evening train was late leaving Grand Central Terminal. The scheduled time to depart had arrived and gone, and the train was nowhere in sight. Trains at GCT sometimes have mechanical problems, from what I’ve experienced though, they’re not late. The crowd was growing bigger and bigger. As I looked at all the people standing in front of the track, I realized that people show their trust in others on a daily basis.

Not knowing what usually happens when a train is late, I stayed at the tail end of the crowd thinking that maybe the track number would change, and the crowd would rush en masse to a different location. The group of people next to me were not at all annoyed by the lateness of the train. Someone made a comment about the expected snowstorm this week. We noticed the woman with a beautiful tan and beautiful vacationer’s glow standing with us and looked in her direction. Someone asked her where she’d been. She said she was in Mexico, and we all wanted to know where in Mexico. “The Yucatan”, she said, and began talking about the Mayan culture, and then about the catholic church’s presence in Mexico, and about the many Mexican catholics who know little about the Mayan culture. A practicing catholic probably would have slipped away right about now. What could one say? We began our personal stories of growing up catholic. Oh, yes, it was interesting and strangely funny at the same time. And unusual in that there stood at that moment a random group of catholics waiting together and talking about their expereinces of g up c.

The train came and off we went in different directions.

a ride along the hudson river

The river changes all the time, and when you take the Metro Hudson train from Manhattan either at 125th Street or Grand Central, you’ll see it in all its splendor. Watch as you travel; it’s a perfect winter scene. If you have to walk through all the cars to get a seat by the river, it’s worth the effort. Perhaps there’s an artist in you waiting to be discovered, and perhaps the river will uncover it. Trying to make a decision? Think only of the river’s beauty as you ride along, forget everything else. That grand river changes from stop to stop. Closer to Manhattan it flows slowly, continue on and it’s rushing, then suddenly there are large blocks of ice all askew on the Hudson’s surface. What a grand site. It leaves a lot to the rider’s imagination. Let nature work its magic on you.

Poughkeepsie is the last stop on the Hudson Line. When you get off at any one of the towns you can either take a $5.00 (usually) taxi ride to the main area, or, if you want to walk, ask someone to direct you to the main part of town, depending on the town, buses are not always around. There are times when it’s nice to stay around the river, and that depends on the design of the town. You might want to get off at Cold Spring, or Beacon for the galleries, antique shops, charming restaurants or to simply take in a new place. The trains run fairly often as you’ll see on the Hudson Line schedule. No need to rush though. If you’ve bought a ticket to one destination and want to go to another, then just get off and explore. And the bonus – you begin to shake off the stress of the big city. Feeling more relaxed yet? Notice no one is rushing? You’ve left all that behind. Ah, take a big deep breath and enjoy. Perhaps you’ll see a B&B, and who knows, you’ll decide to walk in and stay the night. No toothbrush, no toothpaste, no stress – just an exquisite feeling of freedom.

it’s the people

People from all over the world visit NYC and think they’re seeing the real USA. How can that be? People from all over the world are living in NYC, it belongs to the world, or so it seems.

Yes, there are the museums, the top-notch restaurants, the ethnic markets, the shopping, Central Park, Rockefeller Center, the clubs, the opportunities, the money, the fashion, the many forms of entertainment, the businesses, the galleries, the beautiful skyline, the colorful neighborhoods, the bagels, the East River, the Hudson River, etc. etc., but the energy of the people from all over the world is what makes it what it is.

If you’ve been living in NYC, and you decide to move away, there’s a chance you’ll be lost, for awhile. For one thing, you’ll be wandering the streets searching for a New York style restaurant, bistro, coffee shop, that feel good place that stays open 24 hours. And you’ll miss the daytime walking, and you’ll miss the absence of people walking at 3am.

If you’re getting a little bored wherever you are, find the nearest mode of transportation that will get you lickety split to NYC. When you arrive, walk the busiest street, disappear into the crowd and feel the energy. All sense of boredom will be banished.

Stay for awhile until you hear the call for quiet time.

grand central terminal

Grand Central terminal, New York City, what a place. Action is what it’s all about. Get into the rhythm of the walk and you’ll be just fine. Meeting someone? Not a chance of missing each other if you meet under the clock. Looking for food? Food is everywhere – upstairs, downstairs, all around the Station.

Find the Market on the Lexington Avenue side, and buy a meal, or groceries, at any number of inviting take-out places. Ah, which way to go after leaving the Market? That is the question. To the left is the subway entrance. But wait, stay awhile, don’t miss the speciality stores parallel to where you are. After that, you might want to walk towards the clock, but notice O for your olive oil. See the big clock? To the left are the ticket counters where you can purchase a ticket for Connecticut, Westchester, or the Hudson River Valley towns. Look above the ticket counters at the signs for gate number and time of departure.

Backtrack east for a moment along the ticket counters to a small window where pamphlets are waiting for the taking, along with a knowledgeable person ready to answer your questions about what-to-do around town. Found interesting information? Good. Now as you walk toward the Park Avenue side notice on your left the exist to exciting 42nd Street.

But don’t leave yet, we’ve only just begun. Are you in the middle of Grand Central? Look up. Now you’re facing the Park Avenue side. Walk up the steps, for a leisurely drink, wine perhaps, in a pleasant, relaxing setting. Oh, my, there’s so much happening at Grand Central. Have time for the New York Transit Museum? It’s also straight ahead, same level as the big clock. Get acquainted with this landmark building, look at the ceiling, walk around. Beautiful. Isn’t it? You can’t get lost here. Take in the energy, slip in and out of the crowd. You’ll pass Starbuck’s, Orens, Zaro for coffee and a quick something.

Ready for downstairs? Hope you’re hungry, there’s lots of tasty choices. But first the Restroom. Take the escalator in front of the New York Transit Museum. At the bottom of the escalator-left is the women’s, right the men’s restrooms. The restrooms at the other end are being renovated. Usually there’s a line for the women’s room, but it’s fast. (Of course, we all know no one has ever seen a line for the men’s room. Oh, well.)

You probaby don’t know at this point what you want to eat. Check it out. Take in the array of enticing foods. The many places to sit. Don’t worry someone is always getting up or sitting down. Chances are by the time you have your food someone will be getting up.

Can’t decide? Want to confuse yourself just a little bit more? The famous Oyster Bar& Restaurant is very close to where you are. Look for the sign. Found it? You’re getting good. Open the doors, to the right is a sit down counter where you can be entertained watching oysters being shucked, soup being made-perhaps a stool is waiting for you. Like coffee shop style? You can choose to eat at one of the circular counters nearby, or check out the Saloon. To the left of the entrance where you came in is the informal dining room. Perhaps you want to sit in the lounge between the two sections, sip a drink, talk to the bartender-take in the scene. If you find the Oyster Bar&Restaurant doors closed, it must be Saturday or Sunday. One less decision you’ll have to make, but do return during a weekday. There are more restaurants, upstairs and downstairs. Whatever, wherever you choose; it’s all good. There’s more, but you’re going to find that out for yourself. Don’t rush. Never rush. It’s not good for the digestion. Check it all out, pay attention to the signs and you’ll be just fine.

Pace yourself, enjoy. Grand Central Terminal – it’s a grand old building.

along the hudson river

In Cold Spring only a handful of people walk around at any given time. It’s a quiet town, and those living there seem to like it that way. There are a few good restaurants, a few shops and some antique stores. There’s a lovely inn by the river, and a new park, and biking and hiking paths. It reminds me of a movie set.

Right next door to Cold Spring is Beacon. Beacon has a good mix of ethnic groups, many artists, two cafes (good coffee), speciality shops, galleries, a nice choice of eating establishments, and there’s DIA. Tourists come on the Hudson Line from Grand Central and meander over to DIA, and after DIA, board the shuttle bus (on weekends) to Main Street for eating and shopping. Some stores close on monday, tuesday and wednesday. And there’s no shuttle bus on the weekdays, but it’s an easy walk to DIA and to Main Street.

If you stay long enough you tend to hear over and over that the Hudson River towns are “in the process of changing.” Change doesn’t occur quickly or easily. Newcomers arrive with their ideas and enthusiasm, and, at times, change happens. Sometimes it doesn’t and places close. Either way it seems not to matter to those who live here. They appreciate the slow pace and enjoy the way of life the towns offer. I heard that after 9/ll many people moved from Manhattan to the Hudson River towns and the Catskills. Manhattan though is ever on the move, growing differently year after year as people from all over the world decide to make “the city” their home. It’s Manhattan’s nature to be always changing while remaining vibrant. And it seems to be Beacon’s nature to just be.