Another “Only in NYC” Story

Two weeks ago I went to a pre-premiere of the movie “Detroit” the week before its NYC premiere.  The showing, which took place on a Friday afternoon at 4:30, was announced in the NY Times that day hence the theater was only about half full. Just before the movie started I noticed a very tall couple sit down in the row directly across the aisle from me. I remember vaguely thinking it odd that they didn’t sit down right in front of me since this is what usually happens!

This  blog however is not about the movie, I will let you decide for yourself which of the diverse critical reviews you agree with. I will tell you that I thought it was a very raw & disturbing chronicle of events  masterfully told. A must see for anyone interested in a closer look at how hyperbole can escalate into a series of deadly events.  Sadly we seem to have learned nothing from the past- just open today’s newspaper or turn on the TV, history is tragically repeating itself in Charlottesville VA.

But back to my “Only in NYC Story” which includes the very tall couple across the aisle from me (notice a “very tall” theme here?!).  When the movie ended I was emotionally drained. I was after all born and raised in Detroit and although  Aaron and I moved to Akron 4 years before the riots we keenly felt the pull of invisible threads connecting us  to every reported moment of those horrifying events in August of 1967.

When the movie ended I remained seated throughout most of the credits, I needed the time to compose myself.  I slowly stood up as the house lights came on and  was startled by a voice next to me asking what I thought of the movie. I was so riveted to the screen I hadn’t noticed that the “very tall” man had gotten up and was standing next to me and I stumbled through some sort of answer. He then told me he was born in Detroit and had attended Mumford High School-HUH???… was he clairvoyant, was he actually my very tall 30 years younger African American alter ego or was he really who he said he was and merely trying to engage in meaningful conversation? Since we were both transplanted Detroiters I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt plus I was glad to be able to have a dialogue about the troubling movie we had both just seen.  He told me he had gotten his business start at Motown records just after Berry Gordy left for L.A. OK, I was interested but still too caught up in the events I had just witnessed onscreen to start my usual 20 questions (someone once asked me if I had ever considered hosting  game show!) But not to worry, this man not only seemed like a pro but he also radiated pure charisma and was determined to hear my opinions.

By the time we moved out to the lobby  at least 15 minutes had passed and it was  time for me to relinquish him to his very patient wife. As we said goodbye he stuck out his hand and introduced himself. I shook his hand, gave him my name and told him I was now inspired to resume my blogging career 🙂

When I got back to my apartment I did just what you would do, I googled him. Well friends let me tell you about this charmer, he was indeed born in Detroit and did indeed go to Mumford High School (where he played football and was in ROTC), and he did indeed work at Motown records among many other top recording companies. The part we never managed to discuss is that he is the founder of one of the biggest entertainment and brand marketing companies in the world. BWP Marketing’s clients, as listed on his website, include some of the biggest brands and stars in the entertainment world, including Beyonce .

I can personally attest to this man’s ability to charm the birds out of the trees but just in case you have doubts I’ve pasted the following paragraph from his bio:

“As an analytical brand builder who specializes in lifestyle and consumer brands he delves deeply into consumers’ mindsets, analyzing insights to understand the customer journey:  what makes a target interested in, try, fall in love with, and then become loyal to a brand. His experience spans categories including music, tobacco, telco, spirits and other beverages, and apparel”

Like I said, Only in NYC!!!

 

Musings

It seems that every time I would sit down to try to write something lighthearted words failed me. I realized that my previous ability to focus on the fun and colorful NYC  appearing in my world almost daily had deserted me after November 8th (and especially after January 20th).  I’ve decided, however, to make a determined effort to recapture the magic. Here goes….

Having to admit that I’ve lost my subway card twice over the past month (along with 3 right gloves) is not easy! I chalk it up to my bad habit of jamming everything in my coat pockets for easy access rather than taking an extra second to put things safely in my purse. You may or may not be amazed to hear that total strangers tracked me down both times and returned my card, unused! A tribute to my adopted city (or maybe to the Upper West Side?!). The card is now safely tucked away in my wallet despite the fact that it adds a few extra seconds to my frequent mad dash to catch a train.

Although this  next story has nothing to do with  NYC I think it is much too special not to share. It involves one of my children (no eye rolling please, he is very grown up)and his color blindness . Those of us who see the full rainbow spectrum cannot possibly  understand the limitations this condition presents.

Danny managed to get along ok until he entered medical school when not being able to see the color red, as you might imagine, became a real problem. We were able to find  glasses that helped a little but the bright red lenses were startling and caused him to become the center of attention every time he put them on. Needless to say, he wore them only when absolutely necessary.

Happily, thanks to recent technology  a company called Enchroma introduced  color blind correction glasses that look totally normal (no red lenses!) and have the magic ability to correct the most common red/green colorblind issues. Danny received a pair for his birthday which allowed incorporation of his prescription lenses along with the magic paintbrush. He recently sent me a link to a Youtube video of a child bursting into tears as he dons his new Enchroma glasses and sees flowers in full color for the first time!

As his email continues Danny describes own experience (pasted with his permission of course!)

These are the same glasses I got for my birthday but with a different frame.  Biggest thing for me so far is that green traffic lights look green, not white.  It makes me giggle (honest), because each time a light turns green it’s a total surprise!  I haven’t cried yet, but I’m hoping spring flowers will bring a tear to my eye!    

Right up there with Harry Chapin in his ballad “Flowers are Red”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 “…………But the little boy said
There are so many colors in the rainbow
So many colors in the morning sun
So many colors in the flowers and I see every one……..”

Bravo for seeing all the colors in the rainbow, especially today when we have to try so much harder considering our current political climate!

Lets Play “Jeopardy”

You may notice I am changing the tone of my previous blogs  but considering the times we are living through who can blame me?! Now for our game….

Category:  Word Definitions  Question:  to which president elect’s plan to govern can the terms “Idiocracy” and “Abrogate” most likely be applied?

I suspect many people here in the U.S and most likely around the world are, like me, trying to reconcile the fact that our future and the future of our children, grandchildren and possibly that of many generations to come will be in the hands of a man who, up to now, has had no government experience and is best known as a reality TV star with a gold plated lifestyle.  A man who, due to an archaic system of voting prevailing over the popular election, will soon become the U.S President and leader of the free world.

For anyone paying attention (closely or not) Donald Trump seems to have a unique ability to rearrange and at times completely ignore the facts-perhaps life as a reality TV star requires this unique relationship with the truth.

With deference to Joan Didion I wonder if the advent of the Trump administration signals the beginning of 4-8 years of “magical thinking”.  Pointing to this possibility his supporters, many of them at or below the poverty line, seem to believe his vision that he will “Make America Great Again” by taking away their only option for affordable healthcare, defunding Planned Parenthood, which among its many benefits, provides free cancer screening to women, by casting aside all scientific proof and appointing, as head of the EPA, an environmental skeptic who has repeatedly sued that very agency as well as  other government entities over the very environmental rules and regulations it was formed to protect and that his plan to cut taxes for the wealthy will provide some sort of personal benefit to the rest of us.

To take the premise of magical thinking a few steps further we are also asked to believe that the Trump children, who will be running his empire, will not benefit by attending meetings discussing high level cabinet selections or that because he is “very smart” he doesn’t need to attend intelligence briefings ( perhaps he has a crystal ball as well as magical powers!) and to support his supposition that, because he is an “outsider”, he is entitled to ignore rules pertaining to conflicts of interest.Enough! I am depressing myself!

Let’s get back to my Jeopardy question which, you may have forgotten by now, was “to which President-elect do the terms idiocracy and abrogate apply?”  Let me offer a few clues, “idiocracy” is a noun describing a government based on abstract theory and “abrogate” is a transitive verb meaning to abolish or annul by authoritative action….AHA, I am sure that helped you arrive at the answer no magical thinking needed!

Watching the Sausage Making

The challenges, anxieties, second guessing and overall emotional roller coaster I have been on since purchasing a co-op apartment in NYC in June are hard to explain to anyone who has not actually walked the walk.

“Stepping down” as executive director of a non-profit 16 months ago meant I was spending more time in my apartment and because I love having friends and family visit (and visit they do!!) living in a small one bedroom was becoming more and more challenging. After carefully weighing the benefits of renting vs purchasing the choice seemed clear.  Multiple daily visits to the website StreetEasy became my hobby (still is!). Not only does StreetEasy post the details about all the apartments for sale or rent in any NYC area you choose (Upper West Side for me) but I learned as I honed my hobby, it also provides a snapshot of the NYC economy.

I quickly came to the conclusion that the word “real” in Real Estate is an extreme misnomer, instead I  suggest  “Unreal” or “Outrageous” estate when talking about New York City . What could possibly be “real” about paying up to $1,985 per square foot (I didn’t)!   After awhile I knew my love affair with NYC meant I would either have to accept the craziness of the Outrageous Unreal Estate market here or continue to pay a kings ransom in rent every month!

Not to overtax all three or four of you loyal readers, the process took many months and  an inordinate amount of wild goose chases.  I quickly developed such a strong intuitive sense about the possibility of me actually living in the space I was about to see that my intrepid Unreal Estate Broker Carolyn Joy started begging me to at least walk all the way into an apartment before rejecting it! My discouragement in seeing unbelievably expensive apartments requiring complete gut renovation is impossible describe. I also felt I was seeing the same cookie cutter apartment in almost every building I visited.

Although I’m sure you are fascinated with my saga I will put both of us out of our misery and tell you  I bought an apartment that had none of my cast-in-stone prerequisites! Two terraces, 10’3” ceilings, good storage and great built-ins did it for me!

My new apartment however did need some renovating, a process I have come to learn is not for the feint of heart!  Mere words cannot express my gratitude to Jennifer Lissner Kranitz an incredibly talented designer affiliated with Project Interiors in Chicago who also happens to be married to my son Mitch!  Her willingness to oversee the project via long distance while offering her talent, unconditional support, endless encouragement and even more endless patience has (sort of) saved my sanity! I guess “thank you” will have to do for now!!

Throughout this process I have learned, once again, that there are tradeoffs to everything in life and also that watching the sausage being made is definitely not for me. The upside is that I am thrilled to anticipate moving into  my very own apartment in the best city in the world, and now that I will have two bedrooms and two bathrooms please come visit soon!!

I Think I’ve Become A Real New Yorker!

The signs were faint at first and my earliest suspicions were directional. The first one may have been when I was stopped by a tourist asking me which subway line she should take,  after inquiring about where she was going I actually knew how to direct her!  The next indication came a few weeks later when I overheard two people discussing how they planned to get from the Upper West side to Lower Manhattan on public transportation and realized it no longer sounded like they were speaking an exotic language everyone in the City but me understood !  I’ve also mastered the art of boarding an MTA bus (almost) and am no longer confused about  how to insert my card into the mechanical swiper. This is very important to know because not only is there usually a long line waiting to board behind me but also because everyone on the bus becomes privy to my embarrassing attempts  (with no help from anyone, including the driver).

According to a list posted on the  website   www.spareroom.com I am happy to report that my instincts were correct, I really may have become a real NYer!

So, with gratitude to http://www.spareroom.com I’ve pasted a few of the telltale signs and some of my personal comments in italics. (*The list ends with this warning “Of course, now that you’re an official New Yorker, you’ll need some serious therapy to integrate back into any other city.. ” probably very true!)  Here’s the list, you be the judge

You Know You are A Real New Yorker When…..

  1. You can climb out of a subway exit and immediately know which way to walk – based purely on the direction of traffic. Not in this lifetime!!
  2. You know the difference between lox and smoked salmon – and you know which one you want on your bagel. HAH, I was born knowing that!
  3. You laugh if anyone says the G train is their nearest line. It does not serve Manhattan and suffers frequent disruptions and poor service! See!
  4. You know what alternate side parking is all about.
  5. You know all the ‘pay what you wish’ days for the museums and galleries.
  6. You tut when walking past anywhere listing “Grade Pending”.
  7. You know how to pronounce Houston.
  8. You choose shoes according to two criteria only: comfort and durability. SPOT ON!
  9. You deserve to be on a home decor show for the way you’ve made use of apartment space. (Shoes on a rack above the cooker? Perfect). Actually my sneakers are neatly placed on a wine rack in my closet.
  10. Going to Times Square on New Year’s Eve seems like the most terrible idea ever.
  11. You describe lining up for something as “waiting on line”, and you can’t understand why anyone finds that in the slightest bit weird.
  12. A movie being filmed in the street is no longer an exciting novelty, just another damn obstacle between you and your destination. So TRUE!
  13. When you see the skyline, you know you’re home!

 

A Fascinating Tale About Tom & The Chives

In case you were worried, I am still living in NYC and still loving it!

Full disclosure, a few days ago I spent hours writing and editing a very witty and erudite (take my word for it !) post about an unusual experience I had in the grocery store…..here’s a word of advice, remember to always save your documents before exiting!

So… this is my best recollection of that story!  On a recent Sunday afternoon I zipped across the street to the Gourmet Garage to buy some fruit. As I was checking out the cashier looked over my shoulder and said “Tom, your wife needs chives”…huh?! Everyone within ear shot stopped in their tracks to wonder about this unusual reminder from a cashier to a customer. The checkout girl on the next register asked her if she was clairvoyant, (exactly what I was thinking, which gave me an eerie suspicion that mindreading skills might be a prerequisite for Gourmet Garage employment). Being a very clever “girl” I heard myself asking her if she knew if I had forgotten anything!

My question actually elicited a smile, a huge achievement since the GG employees often make me feel like an unwelcome interruption in their busy day. But now that we were buddies she confessed that Tom had forgotten his cell phone and since chives were a crucial ingredient for the dinner party they were having that evening and since Tom was wearing a bright orange shirt and had an Aussie accent his wife assumed, correctly, that if she called the store and explained her plight it would eliminate the need for Tom to have to  head back to the store:-) …voila, problem and mystery solved!  As Tom left the long line to find chives I mused that I wasn’t the only clever “girl” in NYC!

P.S. Notice I saved my work this time!

 

 

 

Only on an elevator in NYC !

The bank of 4 elevators at the Manhattan JCC are notoriously capricious. Usually 3 of them are out of service at once which means I am often riding the 7 floors to my weekly foreign policy discussion group with way too many people crammed in the same car (which, I might add, speaks to my personal growth after a lifetime fight with severe claustrophobia). Add to these issues the mechanical glitch that forces the elevator to respond to every button pushed on individual floors, e.g. when someone on the 3rd floor presses the button for the elevator it immediately overrides any buttons pressed inside the elevator and heads to the 3rd floor. This mechanical inefficiency means a ride from the lobby (or any floor) can take a frustratingly long time as you travel up and down hoping no one will call for the elevator until you arrive at your floor. My usual strategy is to ride up and walk down.

Last Friday as I was leaving my discussion group the elevator magically appeared! No way could I resist such a rare opportunity so I boarded with 4 other classmates. We pressed the lobby button and, as you probably guessed, headed straight up to the roof! The doors opened and Jim, one of my classmates said very warmly, “get on, there’s plenty of room”. An invisible voice answered ”but there are 20 of us” !! Just to clarify, I was standing off to the side so I couldn’t see anyone but obviously heard there were 20 of them! “No problem” assured Jim as 18 three and four year olds and their 2 teachers filed in. My immediate thought of bolting from what appeared to have suddenly become a clown car was impossible because I was quickly blocked in by the little ones who had taken the elevator from their nursery school on the second floor to their rooftop playground. Only in NYC would kids take an elevator to their playground!

But wait, there’s more…. the teachers kept expressing their gratitude – “no one ever lets us all get on with them” they exclaimed (really? I can’t imagine why!). Next Mr. Jim, our newly appointed elevator/camp counselor, suggested we sing a song. The kids were not so sure about this (me either) but with Mr. Jim enthusiastically leading soon all 23 or 24 of us were happily singing “The Wheels on the Bus”. We got through at least 6 verses as we rode up and down stopping at almost every floor (some of them twice) and amazingly managed to get to the lobby without anyone else joining our sing along!! As we filed out I enthusiastically informed everyone that this was the best elevator ride I ever had!!