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Hearth And Home

October 23, 2012

When the cab rounded the corner on 4th Street and revealed the lights that illuminate the entrance to our building, it was an elevating moment. And I was ready for it, after a six-hour flight from JFK, much of it with our doggie in my arms because she simply could not endure the beneath-the-seat backpack any longer. We dragged our bags into the creaky old elevator, turned the key in the lock, flicked on the lights and looked around. Everything in its place. Mitzi’s collection of teddy bears staring back at us in mute welcome. An overripe apple in the fruit bowl. Our plants adroop, begging for an overdue watering. Penny, freed from her leash, began to race around the apartment joyously, in search of long-lost treats. A glass of wine each, we settled onto the couch and gave each other a hug. There are myriad books filled with catchphrases extolling the many virtues of travel. One so often forgotten is the simple pleasure of returning to that place we call home.

Manny’s

October 16, 2012

Founded by Manny Goldrich in the early 30s, it was the most renowned music store in the world. Manny’s reached its peak some 30 years later, when the likes of the Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, Bob Dylan, et al, would drop by regularly. All of which is not to mention the perennial parade of wannabes like me, who would haunt the aisles, sneaking a quick pick-and-a-strum or a trill on a keyboard. Nowadays, a large nationwide chain called Sam Ash Music (also an eponymously-named operation) occupies the space and boasts an admirable collection of guitars, basses and keyboards, with drums and orchestral instruments in another shop across 48th Street. The salespeople are amiable and well-trained, and I spent a pleasant hour or so perusing the inventory. But somehow the experience was not quite the same, especially for a guy who bought his first pair of drumsticks from Mr. Goldrich himself, admonishing me on the way out, “Practice, young man, practice. That’s how you get good.” Truer words, sir, truer words.

The Glimmer And The Glory

October 16, 2012

Part of the rationale for traveling to New York this week was to do a deal for a feature film; actually, a package of three feature films. It now appears the deal will not happen. The reasons are myriad, but suffice it to say that when I read the fine print I could not approve the details. Disappointing? Of course. Every director, especially those working in the short-form milieu, dreams of the opportunity to tell a story that spans 90 pages or more. But I’ve learned the hard way that balance is everything in life; the pros must offset the cons. And in this case, they didn’t. As much as supposed creative types like me tend to think of themselves as impulsive and willing to jump-off-the-cliff-for-the-thrill-of-it, in the end life’s big decisions usually come down to due consideration and the application of common sense. A revelation? Not really. My mother used to warn me, “That crazy mind of yours will get you into trouble one day.” And she was right. Trouble, indeed, has been a regular visitor at my doorstep over the years. But on this day, common sense somehow managed to come out on top. And so for now, while my dream seems to have dissipated, my life is intact. Glory be.

On A Sunday Afternoon

October 14, 2012

In the words of Felix Cavaliere, who wrote them for his band the Rascals 45 years ago, today was a day for “groovin'” and “doin’ anything we like to do.” Mitzi, Penny and I took advantage of just such an opportunity this afternoon in Central Park. Quite a few other folks had a similar idea, it seemed. Perfect fall weather had native New Yorkers and tourists alike out in droves. Mitzi and I wolfed down our hot dogs and shared a Coke, while the little doggie charmed passerby and strained at the leash to chase squirrels. Quite a hike back to the 6 line on Lexington, but worth every step. “Ain’t a place I’d like to be instead,” indeed.Image

His Kind of Town

October 14, 2012

Walking these streets, I’m reminded of my father’s love for this city. He knew the ups and downs of Manhattan, and the idiosyncrasies of every neighborhood therein. One bright summer day when I was about 12 or so, I took the train in from our home in Cos Cob, CT, to meet my father for lunch at Young & Rubicam, the ad agency where he worked. After introducing me to his Mad Men (and a couple of Mad Women) colleagues, we set off down 5th Avenue. Walking at my dad’s brisk pace, we passed the Empire State Building, and then Madison Square Park. He kept up a running commentary the entire way, as I struggled to match his stride. We reached the Village, and walked through Washington Square Park. I wondered where we were going to stop for lunch, the ostensible purpose of my visit. But we marched ever southward, down Broadway and through what years later would be called Soho and then Tribeca. I soldiered on, two steps behind my dad. The World Trade Center complex hadn’t been built yet, and neither of us could foresee the terrible events that would occur some forty years later, as we traversed westward on Vesey Street. Our jaunt continued, until Battery Park appeared before us. My dad proceeded to the nearest hot dog cart, bought us both a Polish and said, “This is one great city, isn’t it?” Catching my breath, I could only respond, “Sure is, Dad.”Image

Penny Checks In

October 12, 2012

After a five-hour flight, plus an hour’s shuttle ride into Manhattan from JFK, our gal does what anyone else would do: Have a look around the accommodations. Finding everything to her satisfaction, she settles in for the evening. Come tomorrow, there’ll be myriad hydrants and light poles to sniff on Lexington Avenue, but for now, it seems the Affinia Shelburne Hotel will do. A bit loud, perhaps, but then 4th Street in San Francisco is home to its own brand of cacophony. Life is good, and the Ngim/Donald party of three wishes all a good night.Image

My New Favorite Band

July 29, 2012

Long live Le Dud Memes. Of course, given that their average age is about ten years, that seems likely. I encountered these young rockers today while biking alongside the San Francisco Marathon route on Illinois Street. Playin’ loud, playin’ proud. If the fledgling guitarist occasionally swings her hand a little too far up the fretboard and happens to hit the wrong barre chord, hey, it’s only rock and roll. And yes, I like it.