Tuesday, July 22, 2014

dear mr. mayor...

Dear Mayor de Blasio:

I live on 79th and First.  A couple of years ago, a bike lane was added to the east side of 79th  street.  It has been a nightmare.

It is only a matter of time before someone is badly injured or worse.  The bicyclists do not abide by the rules of the road.  I use the intersection of First and 79th as an example, but I have seen this problem all over the city.

Bicyclists zoom up First Avenue in total disregard for the light at the intersection of 79th and First.

They may slow down, but only enough to make sure they won’t get hit, and then they will go right through the red light.

They will make right turns on a red.

The delivery people are the worst offenders.

I often see bicyclists going the wrong way down one-way streets. This is particularly dangerous for pedestrians.

And not once have I ever seen a bicyclist who is breaking the law get ticketed, or held accountable in any way. 


  • Make it mandatory that all bikes with drivers over age 17 be registered.
  • Make the registration fee nominal: say $10/yr. or $10 every two years.
  • Require a license plate or something similar for all bikes —some way for the biker to be identified.
  • Ticket offenders.
  • Require delivery people to wear something that clearly identifies the name of the establishment they represent; fine the restaurant if they don’t.
  • Hold restaurants liable for the behavior of their delivery people 

I eagerly await your response.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

lunch with a long-ago friend

I met Ellen when I was living in Chicago. She was (and is) one cool girl.

We used to live in the same building overlooking Lincoln Park.  She, and her husband at the time, removed all the inner walls from their all-white apartment, something no one did back then.  She was, and is, the only person I ever knew who could make a living selling her art.  She is immensely talented.

I last saw Ellen when I left Chicago 33 years ago.  Here we are just doing who-knows-what.

summer 1978
About a year ago we reconnected, and now Ellen is visiting NY with her boyfriend Evan.  She and I are meeting for brunch.  I am a little nervous, as it’s been 33 years since we last saw each other; I moved to Boston from Chicago in 1981.

I arrive at the diner near Columbus Circle a few minutes before Ellen.  She walks in the door, and I know it’s her right away.  She hasn’t changed at all.  Still stylish, beautiful, curly-haired, tall and thin.

It’s comfortable and easy from the start.  We catch up quickly on the last 30 plus years, but find ourselves talking more about the present.  I like that.  It’s clear that the past connects us, but if I were to meet Ellen today, I would again want to be her friend.

After brunch, we walk up to 86th Street to meet Evan and his two kids.  Not surprising, he is adorable, as are his son and daughter. 

I am hopeful it won’t be another 33 years before we get together again. It's more than a little frightening to think how old we'll be by then.  

my first love

I wake up to the news that James Garner has died.  He was 86, and my first crush.

I was only 6 when Maverick debuted on ABC.  I can’t remember the time slot of shows I watch today, but I do remember that Maverick aired from 7:30 to 8:30 every Sunday night.  And though this was past my normal bedtime, my parents would always let me stay up and watch my favorite show.

Bret Maverick was my hero.

I was too young to imagine him my boyfriend, so instead, I imagined him my father.  Not that I didn’t love my own father, but I liked to fantasize growing up in a home where James Garner was always there.

When my friend Marcie went to summer camp in Maine, she befriended a girl named Kim; she was James Garner’s stepdaughter. My hope was that Marcie would be invited to LA to visit Kim, and be told she could bring a friend.  That of course never happened.

I would even create ideas for Maverick episodes, where I would appear as Bret’s daughter.  I was more than a little obsessed.  In fact, it was perhaps around this time I developed an interest in becoming a film star.  That, too, never quite materialized.

But boy, did I love that show, and its 29-year old star. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

day with M, night with a different M

Today is one of those rare days when so much seems to happen.

By nine, M and are out of her perfect parking space and into another perfect space in front of Sam’s building in the East Village.  Sam’s nice but tiny apartment barely fits the two boys who live there— but a third friend is in-between apartments and is camping out there for a few weeks.

The place is an absolute wreck.  Not an open space anywhere.  My friend John meets us there at ten and M takes care of getting Sam and his roommate great blinds.

Next, we enlist the help of some workers who are renovating the apartment next door. They  help hang some hooks, using an amazing tool I've never seen, a laser leveler. They also sweep up the floors and lend us an industrial size vacuum.   Best Buy comes and hangs the TV.  M and I straighten and clean.  By the time we leave, the place is transformed.

It’s after two when we are done. M says, “Let’s go somewhere nice for lunch.”  We are dressed in what I’d call cleaning clothes.  M has on a long shirt and leggings.  That’s a lot nicer than the cut-offs and white tee with dryer holes that I am wearing.  Still, M suggests a great place, Balthazar in Soho.  It’s a Friday afternoon.  The city empties on summer Fridays.  And, it’s the middle of the afternoon.  How busy can it me?  Not very, we wrongly assume.

We cannot get a table, unless we feel like waiting 45 minutes. So we eat at the bar.  Our waiter is adorable and talkative.  

The food is sumptuous.  We split fries (among the best I’ve had) and I get a Salad Ni├žoise (also excellent).

I love when M comes.  Being with her is always an adventure.  And now that her son lives here, she comes often.

We walk a bit after lunch, and then I take a bus home. (M is driving back to Boston tonight).  I quickly shower. Change clothes.  And leave.  

I meet Gail and Robyn for a BAFTA screening of Get on Up (a biopic about James Brown).  After the film, the stars and director come on stage for a Q&A, along with one of the producers,  Mick Jagger.  I am sitting only five feet away.  He is charming, self-effacing, and smart.  When we leave, there are photographers everywhere.

It's a perfect ending to a perfect day.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

the perfect space

M arrives from Boston around three.  I go out to help her unload.  As I approach her car, she suddenly screeches, “There’s a space.”  Three cars down from the front of my building she finds, without looking, the perfect parking spot.

Now she doesn’t want to move her car.

This, in a nutshell, is the problem of having a car in the city without paying for a garage.  Once you find a spot, you never want to leave it.

The rest of the afternoon and evening is planned around moving or not moving the car.

M needs to go to her son Sam’s new apartment.  She's brought him a carload full of stuff. Big stuff in big boxes.  But what will happen to the space?  She thinks she can bribe a doorman.  She doesn’t know NYC well enough to know that he’d be risking his life if he said to a would-be parker,  “No, sorry, you can’t park here; this space is taken.”

We even contemplate taking a cab, or calling Uber, though we doubt all the stuff can fit in a normal-sized trunk.  Not to mention the fact that a cab/Uber would cost about the same as  overnight parking in a garage.

But we are lucky; the parking gods are on our side.  My doorman hears us talking and says, “Hey, I’m leaving at 8 and I have a spot right across the street.”  So now our plans revolve around being back from Sam's to claim the new space at 8.

This presents a new set of challenges.

Do we go to Sam’s first and have dinner later?  No, that would be too late.  

So we find ourselves eating a very early dinner.  We go to Maya, an upscale Mexican place.  It is packed.  At least the bar area is.  And that makes the restaurant unpleasantly loud. It's impossible to have a conversation.  

While there, M gets a text from Sam; he  can't be home before 9 to let us in.  

At some point, we consider and dismiss the idea of borrowing an orange cone we see on the street and using it to reserve our space.  Not neighborly.  And not legal.

We leave around 9 for Sam’s apartment in the East Village. We make a few trips to unload M's double-parked car, and have an ice-cream after at the Big Gay Ice-Cream Shop, deserving of its line.

We get back to the UES around 11:30.  “What do you think we should do?” M asks.  “Well, let’s try my block first,” I respond. 

And there, exactly two cars in front of our original perfect space, is yet another perfect space.  Thank-you parking gods, wherever you are.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

a few good deals

I buy a Sonicare electric toothbrush on Amazon in October 2012.  The charge no longer holds.  My dentist insists I get a new one.  I decide to let Amazon know.  “I’m sorry,” nice Ivan C says, “But you can only return things in the first 90 days.”  “Yes, but it was working then,” I say, not really expecting anything to come of it. “I'm sorry.  All I can do is send you a pre-paid label, and you can send the toothbrush back.  The original shipping cost and a $15 re-stocking fee will have to be deducted from your refund.”  The offer seems more than generous; I don't even argue the logic of deducting a re-stocking fee for an item that won't be re-stocked.

I go to one of my favorite local restaurants, 83 ½, with my friend Mary who was visiting from Chicago.  We split the bill, and each add a $13 tip.  Later I look at amex online and see I’ve been charged a tip of $23.  I call the restaurant and they apologize, “We have no idea how that happened.”  I believe them. Then the manager adds, “It’s really a pain to reverse and change the amount.  How about instead if I give you a gift certificate for $20?”

I love good paper.  At least 28 pound.  Even if I just use if for notes and to-do lists, I don’t like writing on flimsy pads.  Last year when I was at M’s, she was using these great pads from American Stationery (http://www.americanstationery.com/personalized-desk-memos-6600.html).  The weight is great and I’ve since bought them as gifts.  So for no reason other than I love them, and they cost only $30, I'm including them in today's post.