Thursday, May 25, 2017

A WALK ON THE WILD SIDE



Location, location, location
Manhattan is not simply a mega metropolis.
Rather it is an interconnected network of
neighborhoods. Where one lives depends
on who they are, their economic situation,
and luck. Along with snobbery, chic, and
other forms of foolishness. Proximity helps
define one's "hood" meaning that just a few
blocks can limit one's sphere of influence.
Most hipsters live downtown in supercool
enclaves like Soho, Nolita, Tribeca, and the
West Village. Others choose Union Square,
the Flat Iron, Gramercy Park, Hells Kitchen,
Harlem and the upper east and west sides.


To each their own
All exude their own individual and unique vibes.
However gentrification has swept this city until
there are honestly so many sweet spots that it is
impossible to categorize them in one blog entry.
Frank and I have always been drawn to midtown.
The city's core sits south of Central Park from
Bergdorf Goodman to the venerable Empire State
building. Most consider this area a bit too touristy
given visitors consider this part of town to be the
essence of New York. Fleece clad crowds aside,
we find it incredibly convenient. Providing easy
access to all parts of the city. Thus the best of the
big apple is ours within minutes. It's all too easy.

Parking space
However one thing is different than before.
Our new apartment lies a block away from
Central Park (our building's rooftop view
on left). Meaning a stroll through the park
is much too easy not to take advantage of.
Hence I now often commune with nature.
And honestly, I'm rather enjoying having
such a posh playground afoot. Please don't
assume it's mine alone. Central Park is just
as packed with visitors and locals as Fifth
Avenue. However by it's very nature this
green space provides a respite from urban
life. Thus for many it is truly an oasis.

Rest stop
Last Sunday was absolutely beautiful. Forcing
even this rather sedentary soul to venture out
after breakfast. Upon entering the park one is
not only struck by it's natural beauty but also
the diversity of this city's populace. Rarely do
you hear English. Rather along with chirping
birds one is serenaded by a global symphony
of languages. It's rather crowded immediately
adjacent to the Park's southern boundary. Yet
once one ventures uptown, the masses thin to
a manageable scale. One is never alone which
is both a good and bad thing. And sharing such
a beautiful place makes us all the better for it.



Parade ground
Along with communing with nature, most park
goers participate in the greatest of urban sports -
people watching. Thus much of one's focus is
on finding the best spot on the best park bench.
A vantage point from which to view the passing
parade. Some like to sit and bask in the sun but
others prefer throwing shade. I try to be perched
in front of something inspiring. Thus on Sunday
I opted to settle down with an expansive view of
the Conservatory Water pond. This wide open
space not only provides a respite from the milieu.
Once ensconced and watching the miniature sail
boats one can almost forget where they are...

Urbane oasis
Another of my favorite spots is the Mall - that
grand promenade which ends at the Bethesda
Fountain. It's lovely to sit beneath the boughs
of it's spreading elms. Rare in today's world,
somehow these antique gems survived. What
most people don't realize is that Central Park
is home to a plethora of exotic flora. Most of
which burst into bloom within the last month.
While my dear readers probably consider grass
to be mundane, here in Manhattan it's a valuable
commodity. Which is why many urbanites love
to lie upon it's verdant glory. Thus in Central
Park the grass absolutely is ALWAYS greener.

Free and easy
What I enjoy most about Central Park is that
I have NO responsibility beyond enjoying my
time there. No mowing, weeding, pruning, or
mulching is required. However after reveling
in nature's beauty I'm tempted to place some
potted plants out on the balcony. It would be
rather nice to have a secret hideaway just off
my living room. However whatever pleasure
derived would require watering said posies.
And somehow the payoff doesn't seem worth
the hassle. So instead whenever I need a break
I'll take a walk on the wild side. Where else
can such a free for all be FREE FOR ALL?

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

CHEMISTRY TEST




Love connection
I'm counting the days. It won't be long
before I see Frank again. There's just
about nothing better than that moment
when we reconnect after a long hiatus.
Instantaneously the the reason we're a
pair is confirmed via our "chemistry."
I can't explain what makes us... US.
Whether it's DNA, kismet, or the fact
that our souls knew each other long
ago in a former life. All I do know is
that we belong together. A fact that we
have known that since the day we first
met. Proof that two are better than one.

Hey "fox"...
That same "chemistry" also happens with
friends. "T" and I are enjoying our close
proximity. Simply savoring each other's
company and little else. We met in 1976
a Art School. On that day our connection
was instantaneous and immediate. Over
the years distance often separated us. Yet
our "chemistry" remained strong and thus
over forty years later, our relationship is
as close as ever. While neither of us can
explain the alchemy that makes a friend
a soulmate, we are if nothing else simply
simpatico. And what's better than that?
Some enchanted evening
Every one of us has experienced a love
connection. You walk into a room full
of strangers and rarely, not always, one
falls in love or experiences intense like
with another player. Theres no rational
explanation for that phenomena. Two
strangers who seem to have nothing in
common connect as lovers or friends.
And the only reason it happens is due
to  "chemistry". Don't you wish that we
could bottle the damn stuff?! Not only
would we be richer than Midas - the
world would be a much happier place!
Can't get enough
You see, the problem with "chemistry" is
that it's beyond capricious. While specific
in it's formulation - such a combination
only happens when it wants to happen. The
alchemy of relationships is something you
can't force. Hence there is no magic pill that
enables one to meet or greet your long lost,
life-long soul mate at will. The art of dating
is a perfect example. Wouldn't it be lovely
if you could just decide to meet Mr. Right
and it would happen? Sadly that isn't how it
works. True love is the culmination of
much trial and error. Plus a dash of magic.
Perfect formula
At this point I accept that the only
thing I control is my ability to let
happenstance take it's course. Post
a lifetime of forcing things I know
it's ALL far beyond my control.
Convincing oneself that they can
circumvent nature's "chemistry" is
akin to fool's gold. That's because
happiness is all mixed up. When or
if "chemistry" occurs - celebrate it.
And if it doesn't - keep searching
until you find the perfect mix. That's
the proven formula for SUCCESS!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT


Five degrees of separation
The city of New York consists of five boroughs,
each with it's own individual identity. While in
theory one entity, in reality this town consists of
five diverse communities. Within each of which
lie a plethora of neighborhoods that each strive
to differentiate themselves from the other. Given
this metropolis is home to over eight million four
hundred thousand individuals, one might assume
it's rather overwhelming. However for those who
live here, it's rather a small town. Meaning that
much like any limited sphere of influence, you
never know who is watching or... listening. So
it's best to be on good behavior at ALL times.
Familiar territory
Last night I walked over to one of my favorite
haunts - Donohue's Steak House. Situated on
Lexington Avenue just above Sixty Fourth it's
the public equivalent of a private club. Hence
most nights it's cozy red pleather booths are
filled with a collection of "regulars." By the
time I saddled up to the bar it was still over
ninety degrees outside. Yet all I wanted was a
dose of comfort food. Soon I had a drink in my
hand and a turkey dinner with all the trimmings
on it's way. That's when I noticed that the lady
sitting next to me was oddly familiar. And was
obviously over served to the point of no return.
The lady is a tramp?
After about fifteen minutes of listening to said
lady's slurred lamentations to her friend on the
other side - I realized who she was. Beside me
sat Sonja Morgan one of the Real Housewives
of New York. The beleaguered ex-wife of the
great grandson of J.P.Morgan, she lives around
the corner from Donohue's and thus must be a
"regular." While she may be a television star
the Chanel clad mess in crisis next to me was
obviously an all too real and quite desperate
housewife. Frankly she was a pathetic wreck
of a woman. One who has seen much better
days and is quite unhappy as a result of it.
Pre existing conditions
Sonja met her blue blooded billionaire in her
role as hostess at San Pietro - another of my
favorite joints on Fifty Fourth off Madison.
When there my attention tends to focus on
their linguine with truffles. However Sonja
was laser focused on herding the plethora of
fat cats who dined in said pricey eatery. Fired
post garnering too much attention, Sonja ran
into John Quincy Morgan later on in Aspen.
And the rest is history. However she has now
hit upon hard times. Hence it seems that no
amount of self-medication can change the fact
that she's down and out and semi comatose.
Like a bump in the night
Ms. Morgan isn't the only one of her clan
I've seen. Frank and I have often bumped
into Countess Luann. The last time she
almost literally ran into us. While I've not
met Ramona Singer, we share quite a few
acquaintances given she started out as a
buyer at Macy's. Later becoming a rather
aggressive "jobber" in the off-price market.
The truth is that here in Manhattan it can
be virtually impossible to avoid one's past.
Like it or not, chances are that few if any
prior sins go unnoticed. Thus even the best
may be rotten to the core in the Big Apple.
Rat race
Encountering celebrities is everyday fare in
this city that never sleeps. Public exposure
teaches one that no matter how famous one
is we're all too human. And that the rise to
the top may be easy but the subsequent trip
down is often devastating. Money seems to
be the root of most evil. As proven by the
plethora of has beens who wander this city's
streets in search of ways to leverage their
few remaining assets. Only to discover that
fame and fortune are fleeting at best. And
that there may be no lonelier place than a
city full of millions of fellow competitors.
As real as it gets
Some consider the bump and grind of urban
living a rat race. Surviving in a place that is
not only highly competitive but exorbitantly
expensive is not for the faint of heart. There
is a pecking order within every strata of New
York society. And if one slides off their perch
it's virtually impossible to rise above the muck
of failure and shame. No wonder I felt so sorry
for sodden Sonja. Part of me wanted to reach
out a helping hand. However I wisely chose
to focus on the turkey before me rather than
the one to my right. Better to avoid a heaping
helping of CRAZY with all the dressing!

Monday, May 22, 2017

OPEN AND SHUT CASE



Open minded?
Rumors of anti-gay Bible thumping aside,
I find HGTV's "Fixer Upper" charming.
I'm as enamored with those Canadian twins
who rehab on "Property Brothers". I'll admit
that even the bantering duo on" Love It or
List It" can be entertaining. However I can't
abide their predilection to rip down walls,
mount massive beams, and create gigantic
"open" living spaces. That's because while
everything looks fine and dandy during their
reveals, I wonder what it's like to be in those
rooms post cooking a batch of fried chicken.
Chances are said wide open spaces... STINK.
Home, home on the range
For years we've watched experts knock down
walls to "open things up." In theory it seems
like a good idea. In fact that was one of the
reasons that we chose our Dallas apartment.
It's living, dining, and kitchen area spanned
over thirty feet. With a floor to ceiling wall
of glass overlooking the city below. Given
this was all the rage, we couldn't wait to dish
it out in the open. However, after hosting just
a few soirees I came to the conclusion that
I absolutely LOATHE open kitchens. Living
in a custom kitchen showroom seems to work
only if you don't cook. Otherwise it's a mess!
Closed for business
In reality this cultural phenomena makes no
sense. It simply doesn't work. That is unless
you never cook, frequently dine out, or only
microwave take out. I understand the need
to watch your kids play as you prepare their
sustenance. But do they have to frolic in a
space big enough to seat fifty? Everybody
seems to end up in the kitchen. However in
my house, that's the LAST place I want to
entertain in. I'd much rather be seen throwing
out bon mots rather than slinging hash.Thus
by the time you arrive, I've got dinner ready
and waiting so I can enjoy your company.
Alice doesn't live here
What I can't understand is how anybody can
possibly enjoy a lovely repast amidst a sea
of debris. Why set a beautiful table only to
have your guests view the evidence of your
crimes as they sip and sup? What happens
if you simply don't want to cook? At times
I like to hire an expert to prepare and serve.
However if they do so in a glamorous open
kitchen, where do they hide? Of course they
can stand and stare at you from behind the
counter, or chat up your guests, or clang the
pots in full view! But honestly, isn't that's
akin to airing your dirty laundry in public.
I'm old fashioned.
Our Lewistown kitchen is an open and shut
case. First because an open kitchen has no
place in a historic house. Back then servants
stayed in the background along with bacon
grease and mess. Today we do the dirty
work ourselves in the private of a lovely
enclave. We have an island that only seats
two. Occasionally close friends and family
are allowed to sit and sip as I stir the soup.
However such familiarity only happens far
behind closed doors. Pampering our guests
requires a bit of time and energy. And how
we feed your ego is none of your business.
Civil behavior
While we enjoy mixing it up, what happens in
our Montana kitchen stays there. As our guest
your job is to enjoy yourself. Hence once you
are comfortably ensconced in our living room
we'll deliver the cocktail of your choice on a
silver tray. After a brief respite dinner is called.
Next we'll adjourn to the dining room. One that
has walls, doors, and the proper accoutrements.
The table is set in a manner to which we are
accustomed. Each course is properly served,
hopefully savored, and quietly cleared. All
sans a view of mounds of dirty porcelain or
near the sound of a gurgling disposal. 
Open season.
Obviously one must maintain an open mind.
However I've no intention of changing my
approach no matter my limitations. Here in
Manhattan we once again have a wide open
kitchen. While lovely, it makes my job as
host all the harder. By the time you arrive
I've prepared the way. Everything will be in
it's place. From cocktails to dinner I'll hide
the evidence. After all, you took the time to
come and visit. So the least I can do is treat
you with the respect that you deserve. Hence
sans doors or walls I'll do my best to maintain
that delicate balance still known as hospitality. 


Sermon over.  
Now go back to sipping your cup of coffee 
in your fabulous and pristine open kitchen!


Sunday, May 21, 2017

7th Day Surprise: Hot off the grill



What's at steak?

The meat of the matter
is that once warm weather arrives
most Americans hit the grill.
Some throw their shrimp on the barbie.
However true grill masters
opt for beef or pork or... chicken.

So go ahead and
light it up.
Flip it.
Smoke it.
Slather it.

Grill and chill!