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Do I want to blog about my Mom’s health, surgery? 12:48 AM Oct 10th
Can’t sleep tonight. Too many things. Mind is racing. 3:40 AM Oct 14th
Doctor just gave us the good news! First time I’ve seen my Dad cry in years. 12:28 PM Oct 14th
Just saw Mom in CICU 1:21 PM Oct 14th
Had lunch with Kirsten. So good seeing her again. Asks if I Twitter? 2:19 PM Oct 16th
Mom finally moved to her recovery room. Time for me to breathe again. 12:34 PM Oct 17th
Heading back to NYC, but will be back in another week. 12:28 AM Oct 20th
Auditions, auditions, auditions. If I have to play “Part Of Your World” one more time… 1:20 PM Oct 21st
Has it really been a month since my last blog entry? 2:43 PM Oct 22nd
Just “re-lived” the Bernstein “Mass” at Carnegie Hall. So proud of my friends. So moved by the music. 10:22 PM Oct 24th
Well, I guess DST is next weekend after all. 11:52 AM Oct 26th
Carnegie Hall: Pollini playing Beethoven, Schumann and Chopin. How classic(al). 2:34 PM Oct 26th
Hint #2: Last row of CH = leg room and behind-the-seat storage. 3:01 PM Oct 26th
Four encores! Including the G-minor Ballade! Grazie! 5:39 PM Oct 26th
Walking through Central Park.. Guess it has been a few weeks, there’s color on the trees and on the ground. 6:06 PM Oct 26th
Little girl, age 9 – “It smells like popcorn and horses.” 6:34 PM Oct 26th
Thank You, Matthew Weiner! -Can’t wait for Season 3! 10:55 PM Oct 26th
Pack-a-little, Post-a-little… Getting to head back down to Richmond for the week. 11:24 AM Oct 27th
The wheels on the bus keep going round and round. 100 miles to go. 8:37 PM Oct 27th
Being a ‘rent to the ‘rents today. 1:36 PM Oct 28th
Over at Steve’s right now taking a break from the parents. Soup’s On! 6:28 PM Oct 29th
Pumpkin & Coconut Brownie Ice Cream from Bev’s Ice Cream http://snipurl.com/4uzsi 8:07 PM Oct 30th
Happiness is a non-sold-out Bolt Bus. Two seats for the price of one. 7:31 PM Oct 31st
Off to MoMA for the last Member Preview Day of the new Miró exhibit. 2:06 PM Nov 1st
This exhibit keeps going and going and going… “Man and Woman in Front of a Pile of Excrement” 4:50 PM Nov 1st
Tracking a couple of friends in today’s marathon, and wondering how delayed the online results are. 11:58 AM Nov 2nd
Standing amid a sea of Silver, Blue, White and splashes of Orange! Inspiring!! 4:05 PM Nov 2nd
About to head out for some post-Marathon sushi with my brother and Maria. 5:58 PM Nov 2nd
Off to meet some friends for a morning-after-the-marathon breakfast. Could be interesting. 10:01 AM Nov 3rd
Times Square at 2:28pm EST – CNN Central http://snipurl.com/53wod 2:29 PM Nov 4th
Overwhelmed, but in a good way. The sense of Purpose and Hope was palpable in the midtown air (regardless of who you voted for). 6:14 PM Nov 4th
Just listening to the Cheering and Car Horns outside my apartment in Harlem!!!!!!!!!! 11:11 PM Nov 4th
OOPS! HA!!! ABC (in NYC at least) just interrupted their coverage for a Flomax commercial?!?!?!?!? 12:26 AM Nov 5th
Magnolia, Levain and Shake Shack all within seven blocks of each other… Is that a good or bad thing to know? 1:56 PM Nov 5th
At Lincoln Center about to experience Doctor Atomic.. And watching a lot of people trying to sell their tickets on the plaza… 7:30 PM Nov 5th
Intermission at The Met: People eating,drinking, chatting… leaving… 9:43 PM Nov 5th
Back at MoMA to catch the Kirchner once again before it closes… And the Van Gogh and Miró, of course 3:33 PM Nov 6th
Back at The Met tonight for the Berlioz. Technology and Art striving for their potential. I hope. 7:15 PM Nov 7th
Ah… The (Bittersweet) Hot Chocolate – with Marshmallow – from ‘wichcraft in Bryant Park http://snipurl.com/59hf1 3:52 PM Nov 9th
At Zankel Hall tonight for Jeremy Denk playing Ives Concord & Beethoven Hammerklavier. Monster program! 7:13 PM Nov 11th
Bravo, Jeremy Denk! Bravo! 9:52 PM Nov 11th
I was looking for an excuse to be lazy today: Thank You, Rain. 1:26 PM Nov 13th
Coolness in progress at MoMA http://twitpic.com/lrk1 3:43 PM Nov 14th
I wonder if they’ll have the Basil Hot Chocolate in Bryant Park today… 1:34 PM Nov 16th
More cupcakes coming to midtown Bway & 53rd… (Magnolia recently opened in Rock Center) http://snipurl.com/5n42q 2:45 PM Nov 16th
Thank you, Mr. Carfizzi and Mr. & Mrs. (Grant) Murphy for a wonderful recital. http://snipurl.com/5nlok 6:27 PM Nov 16th
Well, I thought I got here early enough to get in line for the movie. Probably #100ish, and still 30 minutes till they open 7:54 PM Nov 16th
“Slumdog Millionaire” – SEE THIS MOVIE! Thank You, Danny Boyle 10:35 PM Nov 16th
Everyone seems to be seeing snow this morning except for me – and I like snow!?!? 9:31 AM Nov 18th
ReTweet: @BravoTopChef Get ready! Spike is back and so are his shenanigans. Make sure to follow our boy tomorrow during the show 2:12 AM Nov 19th
Best lunch deal in Chinatown – 5 dumplings for $1 http://twitpic.com/mqr2 4:39 PM Nov 19th
Warming up with a Café Mocha at Abraço http://twitpic.com/mr4z 5:35 PM Nov 19th
Hmmm… No line… very tempting… http://twitpic.com/mra7 5:55 PM Nov 19th
What I’m playing this afternoon.. http://twitpic.com/mxqr 5:14 PM Nov 20th
Dinner at El Toro Partido – Torta! http://twitpic.com/ne8e 4:54 PM Nov 22nd
O Christmas Tree Stand, O Christmas Tree Stand… (145th & Broadway) http://twitpic.com/nvns 9:15 PM Nov 24th
On the Acela down to DC for the holiday weekend http://twitpic.com/o4xg 7:13 AM Nov 26th
@BravoTopChef Thanks, Andrew! 11:02 PM Nov 26th
Eat Well. Stay Safe. Happy Thanksgiving! 11:31 AM Nov 27th
Horse-Drawn Carriage rides in Carytown this weekend http://twitpic.com/osvq 5:21 PM Nov 28th
Then down to Cafe Gutenberg for dessert http://twitpic.com/ouyl 9:05 PM Nov 28th
My dessert: Oatmeal Stout Chocolate Float http://twitpic.com/ouz6 Yes! Beer (stout) and Ice Cream (chocolate gelato) 9:08 PM Nov 28th
Back at Bev’s Ice Cream – http://twitpic.com/p3kx Chocolate Chai with… 7:30 PM Nov 29th
With a Cranberry chaser – http://twitpic.com/p3lk 7:31 PM Nov 29th
My parents’ church actually has TWO late seating breaks during the mass. 12:22 PM Nov 30th
Who knew that my parents liked Vietnamese food? http://twitpic.com/p928 12:49 PM Nov 30th
Anderson Cooper swimming against Michael Phelps on “60 Minutes” tonight. 7:44 PM Nov 30th
Back on the bus back to NYC. Thankfully no one got trampled once the driver opened the doors, but there was definitely a throng. 7:29 AM Dec 1st
Take a Moment to Remember – World AIDS Day 2008. 9:44 AM Dec 1st
Happiness is a D (or A) Train across the platform. 3:49 PM Dec 1st
Anyone else going to the World AIDS Day “Bacharach to the Future” Benefit at New World Stages tonight? http://tinyurl.com/5jrv2j 3:54 PM Dec 1st
Condee Rice playing Brahms? I knew she was a good pianist, but… The Quintet is a LOT of notes! http://tinyurl.com/5q96px about 16 hours ago
Just saw a cop tie an elderly man’s shoes – I love New York City! about 11 hours ago
It’s beginning to look a lot… http://twitpic.com/ps3q about 8 hours ago
I really should be asleep by now, but just came up with an idea for a new – and long overdue – blog entry. about two hours ago
Well, I guess I am going to finish this blog entry tonight, well, this morning. -Who needs sleep? 27 minutes ago
Done! Publish. less than 5 seconds ago
Just an hour before I arrived at the rehearsal studio, I was still slumbering away in my bed on my still somewhat comfortable mattress, cocooned in my still surprisingly insulating comforter. I could hear the muffled vibration of my cell phone buried in the pocket of my winter coat which was across the room. Of course, by the time I had put my feet on the floor, stepped over some stray laundry, and fumbled through the pockets of my coat, the vibrating had stopped, but now the little red light was flashing. You have voicemail.
I didn’t even bother checking the message, I just went ahead and called back the "Missed Call". I had suspected why I was getting that call at 9:00 on a Sunday morning, and sure enough, my suspicions were correct. Someone was sick, and they needed someone else to come in and cover the day of auditions. Sure, I can come in. See you soon.
In retrospect, I’m not really sure just why I said, "Yes." Under normal circumstances, I would have just let the phone ring, and checked to see if someone left a message later on; but since WQXR had been quietly sounding in the background since 8:30, I was already coming out of my slumber to the strains of some Bach and Elgar. When I called back, I may have just been too tired to say anything but "Yes". A pianistic Pavlovian response – Work equals Money, Money equals Rent. I guess I could have said, "No. I’m sorry, I already have other plans today," then gone back to bed for a few more hours. Or, at the very least, "I’ll come in today, but only if I’m paid double the usual rate due to the last minute notice." Hindsight is 20/20. But I just hung up, and started getting ready.
It wasn’t until the D Train reached Rockefeller Center that I realized I had not brought my laptop with me. No book. Not even a magazine. Nothing to help me pass the time, nothing to keep me company. I stopped by one newsstand in search of the Sunday New York Times… We only carry the weekday. What?!?! I passed a Starbucks – one of the twenty (at least) that bask directly in the neon glow of Times Square – and thought about getting a coffee, but then remembered that they carry the New York Times. I was able to grab one of the last two copies they had, and the barista/clerk even let me cut into line since she could tell I just wanted to buy the paper. Nothing Tall, Grande or Venti for me at that time. Another block or two later, I realized that I should have at least have gotten a Mocha.
The day was quite leisurely paced. I had plenty of breaks, plenty of time to read. Plenty of time to text silly messages to some of my friends – although, I had to step out of the studio into the hallway to do so since the signal was pretty week behind the closed doors. Plenty of time to give a listen to the audio-feed of the show that was running in the theatre next door.
The studio itself was very conducive to reading, if not ideal for reading. High ceilings, one wall lined with mirrors, a decent grand piano, but despite the number of recessed lighting fixtures, the general lighting was surprisingly dim. It was just The Room and I and the Times for most of the day. No distractions. It was an interior room, so there were no windows which made me feel better about not having my camera with me since there was really nothing to take pictures of. Even the two big, round windows in the hallway were frosted – they were there to let light in, not to let one’s gaze out.
Every couple of minutes my reading would be interrupted by a familiar face coming through the door. Some I knew by name and greeted with a hug; others I recognized from a Playbill bio, a television appearance, a movie role, and greeted with a smile, keeping a professional distance. Each person was taught a few short sequences of steps, and some were asked to improvise some movement accompanied by my own improvisations at the piano in the designated, requested style. It was during those brief exercises that I really wished I had not forgone the caffeine that morning.
That was pretty much the routine for day, interrupted only by a very quick lunch break. Work, work, work. Read, read, read. By the time the casting director informed me that I was done for the day, I had managed to make my way through the Sunday Times. Consequently, I was brought up to date on matters International, National, Local, Arts & Leisure, Style and Magazine. Even Real Estate.
I bundled myself and my newspaper up – I would take it home with me and put it in the recycling bin – and headed back down to the street. As I stepped out of the stage door, I realized it was the first time I had been outside since rushing to the studio that morning. That first intake of the cold, NYC-fresh air into my lungs finally cleared away the bits of my interrupted morning slumber. Just a few feet later I found myself in the middle of Times Square. Like most New Yorkers – native and otherwise – I have a love/hate relationship with Times Square. Sometimes all the people, the noise, the lights, the smells are just too much to deal with, something to be avoided. Other times – and this was turning out to be the case this evening – it feels great to be a part of all the fabled and infamous hustle and bustle of those few blocks of midtown. To be both and Observer and Participant. Native and Tourist.
As I navigated the crowded sidewalks, I noticed a couple trying to take a picture of themselves with the lights of Times Square as their background. Would you like me to take your picture? They kindly refused stating that they had perfected the art of the outstretched-arm-point-and-shoot self-portrait. However, they did ask where I had picked up my copy of the Times. I told them that I had picked it up earlier that morning, and had managed to read all of it during the course of my work day. I then offered it to them. At first I could sense that they were waiting for me to attach some sort of catch to my offer, but they eventually accepted my gently-used newspaper. They even said they would make sure to put it in a recycling bin. Nice catch.
Well, the other night, we finally had some true, real snow fall here in New York City. Alas, it was not a record-setting storm like we had two years ago around this time, but it was snow, and it did not melt when it made contact with the sidewalks. Yes, it did eventually turn into sleet and freezing rain, and then into basically an all-day rain event the following day, but for a few hours, the City was covered in a layer of frozen white fluffy stuff. And I was smiling and happy.
Trust me, I’m smiling in that picture.
While walking the snow-covered sidewalks of the Upper West Side, I just happened to come across the recently opened branch of Magnolia Bakery. Needless to say, Cupcakes and Snow made for a very nice Winter Evening.
Truth be told, I passed on the cupcakes this visit. However, the slice of Coconut Layer Cake was a more than worthy substitute.
Oh… If you happen to observe, celebrate such things… Happy Valentine’s Day!
I had actually tried to come up with some sort of narrative to accompany the following set of pictures. I had experimented with some sort of fictional account of my stroll in Central Park, but after the first paragraph, I realized it was too hard to keep track of my use of "he" and "I" for the protagonist. Then I tried to adopt a Travelogue Tone, but that didn’t work either. Other styles were considered, other first sentences were typed out and then promptly deleted. Instead, I think I will just let the pictures speak for themselves. More or less.
I’ve always had a fondness for New York City in Winter. There’s just something about the Light, and today was no exception. After allowing myself to indulge in a Chocolate Chip Walnut cookie from Levain, I walked over to the Park. I noticed a couple reading the plaque on the building on the northwest corner of 74th and Central Park West – it was the San Remo. -So that’s where it is. Which, of course – to me, at least – meant that The Dakota was the building down at 72nd Street. -And, yes, lyrics from Jason Robert Brown’s The Last Five Years started going through my head.
So, I headed down to 72nd Street to enter the Park. A couple hundred feet into the Park is where Strawberry Fields is located along with the Imagine Memorial. Each time I pass this spot, the first thought, the first memory that comes to my mind is one from grade school. I went to a Catholic, parochial grade school, and each morning, the school day started with prayers led by the principal over the PA system. Part of the morning prayers included a chance for anyone to speak up, and ask for prayers for someone or some cause. The day after John Lennon was shot, John R. spoke up, "For the peaceful and eternal rest of the soul of John Lennon. Pray for him." Even though we all knew he was quite the Beatles fan, that didn’t stop a couple of us from giggling. I believe I even saw a slight grin come across the face of the nun who was standing behind her desk at the front of the room.
After admiring how the memorial had been decorated this day, I made my way down the path, and decided to walk up the western side of the Park. Again, the Light today was quite amazing. There was this bright bluish-gray cast to everything in addition to the warm oranges and golds provided by the setting sun. Another set of lyrics – this time courtesy of Stephen Sondheim started going through my head as I passed these:
…The ones who stay
Can find each other in the crowded streets and the guarded parks,
By the rusty fountains and the dusty trees with the battered barks…
I don’t think I’ve every really seen a rusty fountain Central Park, but at least now I know that there are indeed dusty trees with battered barks.
I continued northward until I reached 96th Street. Along the way…
What is the announcement they’re making? I can barely hear it….
"This train will be bypassing 145th Street…"
Oh, guess I need to get off here and walk the rest of the way home. No biggie, it’s not that far.
Come up to street level. Notice two abuelitas doing pretty good business selling their tamales de Oaxaca from their (shopping) carts. Champurrado? Nah, I just had dessert.
Start walking up Broadway… Hear a commotion, a fight in the near distance… Finally see the fight: a "crack ho’" and her "man". Wow! That’s a lot of expletives.
Pass the "man" who is still yelling at his "ho’" who has walked up the block.
Call my friend, "Well, see what I get for riding the train home with you?…"
Pass the "ho’" as she goes to a pay phone. There are still payphones in New York City? Can see that she’s dialed 9-1-1.
Can still hear the fight behind me as I continue walking.
Notice that the Puerto Rican/Dominican restaurant that opened last summer has changed names again. For a third time. Hmmm, the menu and decor still look the same.
Sounds like the fight is still going on, but fading in the distance. Should I be hearing police sirens by now?
Pass another restaurant that has just closed for the night. Sort of surprised to see the staff counting out their money on the front table by the window.
Turn onto 145th. Oh, I guess the abuelita that is normally here went down to 137th.
Notice that a woman is locking up her hair salon. Her five(?)-year old daughter really wants to go home.
Pass the Tacos Express truck. Sopes? Carnitas? Nevermind…
Cross Amsterdam. Still wondering if "Jesus’ Taco" is pronounced GEE-zuss or hay-ZOOSE. And why is it paired with a Twin Donut?
Pass the Cajun restaurant. Members of the band still on the sidewalk, talking… "Well, he grew up lovin’ white women all his life…"
Turn onto St. Nicholas.
Enter building. Enter apartment. Yes, the radiators are working.
God, I Love New York!
Oh the weather outside is frightful
But the fire is so delightful,
And since we’ve no place to go,
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
Yes, Let It Snow! However, I suspect that my sentiment – well, my inflection – is a bit different from what the great lyricist, Sammy Cahn, had in mind when he penned that tune with Jule Styne. “Frightful" weather – Check! “Delightful" fire – Check! "No place to go" – Check! So… Let. It. Snow!
We’re about halfway through Winter right now, and we have yet to experience any significant snowfall here in New York City. Yes, we did have some snow back in December, but when I mean significant, I mean significant.
Remember back in 2006, how it went from this:
And then about 14 hours later, to this:
I like Snow. It’s Winter. I am in New York City. And I want My Snow. I want it blanketing Central Park, capping the Angel in Bethesda Fountain. I want it covering the sidewalks. I want it to look like some picture postcard from days gone by, or at least like those framed color laser copies the street vendors sell. However, I’ll even take an image from the Metro section of the New York Times. Yes, snow is pretty when it’s all white and fluffy, but even I know – I remember – that it’s gotta melt sometime. Does all that slush get messy? Yes. Does it make you watch your step as you descend into the depths of the MTA? Yes.
It’s Nature. It’s Winter. It’s Cold. It’s Snow. There should be no surprises there.
I know my fondness for Snow and Winter may not be shared by everyone, and I will admit that if I had happened to grow up in colder and snowier – or warmer and sunnier – climes, then my current state of mind might be different. In the meantime, I really am hoping for some Snow. Heck, I took those snow pictures two years ago. In February. And we’re not even through January yet.
Now, to be fair, I do like the other seasons too. And in the spirit of equal time, here a few pics from Warmer Months Past.
But I have to say, those trees in Central Park and the fountain in Columbus Circle also look pretty darn good with some Snow on them.
Do Not Look In The Window! Do Not Drool On The Glass!
Over the past couple of months, the area around 72nd Street & Broadway has become a Dieter’s Temptation Island. Anyone planning on sticking to their New Year’s Resolution to cut out "The White" (sugar, flour and shortening) is strongly advised to keep walking past some of the new store fronts that have opened in this portion of the Upper West Side. However, if you do wish to test your resolve and/or carb-butterfat-consumption limit, have I got a Walking Tour for you!
The recent opening of Magnolia Bakery’s UWS branch seems to have signaled some sort of truce in the Cupcake Wars of years past. Or not. In any case, having Magnolia so close to one of it’s many offspring, Buttercup Bakery, means that UWS-ers no longer have to head down to Bleecker Street in order to get their originally-fueled-by-"Sex & The City" sugar fix.
This CupCake & Cookie & Chocolate (oh, yes, there’s Chocolate too!) Walk starts at Magnolia Bakery’s new location. The remaining stops may be taken in order as you zig-zag up and over to 72nd, up Amsterdam, and then over to Broadway, or you may wish to circle a block two between gobs of buttercream. Of course, whether you choose to stop-in and consume or not is totally up to you. And possibly your cardiologist.
You can start this CC&C&C Walk at 72nd Street at Broadway (1/2/3 trains) or at Central Park West (B/C). Either way, you can get a nice warm-up walk on your way to Magnolia Bakery. After your CC&C&C Walk is completed – and mind you, you don’t have to complete this all in one day – it’s probably best to walk back down Broadway to Columbus Circle to catch your train at 59th Street. (Just be sure not stop by Bouchon Bakery on the third floor of the Time-Warner Center.)
Magnolia Bakery – 200 Columbus Ave. (at 69th St.)
Buttercup Bake Shop – 141 W. 72nd St. (between Amsterdam & Columbus)
Grandaisy Bakery – 176 W. 72nd St. (Amsterdam & Columbus)
Jacques Torres Chocolate – 285 Amsterdam Ave. (73rd & 74th)
Levain Bakery – 167 W. 74th St. (Amsterdam & Columbus) – COOKIES!
Crumbs – 321 1/2 Amsterdam Avenue (75th & 76th)
Grom – 2165 Broadway (76th & 77th) – Gelato (and Hot Chocolate).
Beard Papa Cream Puffs – 2167 Broadway (76th & 77th)
If you would like to pick up a bottle of something red to counteract the effects of all that buttercream, I recommend stopping into Pour (Amsterdam at 75th). If you time your trek right, you might end up stopping by during one of their daily wine-tastings. And sometimes they even serve hor d’oeuvres. Salty ones.
Part of one of Levain’s Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies