Posted by: Catadromy | June 29, 2020

I ♥ NY

Milton Glaser died recently. He was a well-known graphic designer, most famous for his design of I♥NY. He created this logo—possibly the first emoji—at a time when the city was at its lowest. We were living with white flight, urban decay, graffiti-drenched subways, garbage-strewn streets, landlords torching their own buildings to collect the insurance money, and New York teetering on the edge of bankruptcy—a situation epitomized by the headline in the New York Daily News: “Ford to City: Drop Dead.”

You gotta give the headline writers at the Daily News credit; they’ve come up with some beauts: “Pee Brain”, accompanied by a picture of Trump; “I’m With Stupid”, Trump and Sarah Palin; “Drop Dead, Ted”, featuring Ted Cruz; “Kicked In The Balls”, Tom Brady. But the best headline of all belongs to the New York Post: “Headless Body In Topless Bar.”

Two years later, in 1977, the city was plunged into darkness, courtesy of a blackout that lasted over a day on one of the hottest days (and nights) in memory. I watched as one apartment building after another went dark in a rolling wave and chaos descended. There was widespread mayhem and looting; many fires were set. The fear and violence were out of control. It was the final insult; a coup de grace.

But then, this:

 

But what does Glaser’s logo really mean? To me, it means that New York is forever eternal, forever here, forever my heart, forever my love. It’s easy to love New York when she’s doing well, when she’s booming, happy, one big loud party that everyone wants to be a guest at. But it’s not so easy to love her when she’s down and out. That’s what Glaser was getting at with this logo.

He created the logo in the back of a taxi, a few simple scratches on the back of an envelope (the envelope is now in MOMA’s permanent collection). He gave it away, because he thought it was ‘a little simple, nothing of an idea.’ How wrong he was.

Far from nothing, I♥NY has come to embody the very heart and soul of the city and those of us who love her.

It’s true that I no longer live in the city of my birth, but she will always be my home.

In the middle of a home renovation project, I purchased a lamp to go on the bedroom dresser. It’s mercury glass, with an Edison bulb and it’s paired with a large, round silver mesh shade. It’s beautiful and suits the décor in the room perfectly. My husband says that it serves no function, as it doesn’t cast sufficient light. I told him that it’s art and it’s beautiful and that art doesn’t necessarily have a function, other than its visual one, i.e., to delight the eye and stimulate the senses.

Why is art important? Humans are hardwired to decode and prioritize visual stimuli. What is important is that the viewer is receptive to the possibility of a response that will take them out of themselves into a whole new and unexpected place. All art does this.

As I see it, art may take seven different forms. There are sub-categories within these forms, but these are the ones I see:

  1. Architecture
  2. Film
  3. Literature
  4. Music
  5. Painting/Drawing
  6. Performing
  7. Sculpture

The question at hand is, which of these is animation closest to? Since there are no right or wrong answers, I’m going to crawl way, waaaaay far out on that limb and say all of them.  Ooh, a copout.

When it comes to Architecture, Louis Sullivan was famously quoted as saying, ‘form follows function’, which when talking about a building makes a good deal of sense. When it comes to animation, though, it’s a bit of a stretch. Still, going all the way back to the earliest beginnings of animation, it was all about form; the use of mechanical devices to simulate motion, such as the zoetrope, phenakistiscope, praxiniscope, zoopraxiniscope, and kinetoscope.

When discussing Film, the similarities are most obvious.   In the modern era of animation, the vast majority of output is viewed on film, rather than via a mechanical device. As animation has evolved and the techniques gotten more sophisticated and the use of CGI become more prevalent, animation has moved beyond its roots in hand-drawn, children’s entertainment to sophisticated multi-target appeal. CGI allows animation to create on film sequences and special effects that would be impossible and/or cost-prohibitive to film using live actors.

Literature tells a story. And every story that is told has a foundation and a structure. It may not be linear, as in; this is the starting point, this happened, and then it ended. The story may weave around, use flashbacks/flashforwards. But, eventually, it will get to the endpoint. Animation may be based on story and myth—fairy tales, epic adventures, classic literature. Or the story may be written just for the animation being created.

Not all animation tells a story, whether linear or non-linear, some of it just is. Some animation is used in documentaries as explanatory pieces to demonstrate timelines. Some animation is used in gaming. Some animation is used in local news for mapping and in weather forecasts.

To compare animation to Music, I look no further than An Optical Poem. This piece is music made visual, specifically, Liszt’s Second Hungarian Rhapsody. Each instrument is represented by a different series of shapes and colors and they way they react/interact on the screen. In Fantasia, each section is set to a different piece of classical, symphonic music to great effect. The animation style is matched to the musical style. The very beginnings of animation had a musical accompaniment, with a soundtrack added in later on, as technology permitted. Many of the songs written for animated features have gone on to become enormously popular and entrenched in pop culture.

Animation has its roots in Painting and Drawing, going back to simple line art sketching in black and white and moving through hand-drawn, full-color 2D cel animation in which the cels were painted by hand. Some of it was simple and some of it was incredibly complex and multi-layered, via the use of the multiplane camera.

If an animated piece is story-driven, then it is all about Performing. The characters are brought to life, via the animators’ art, given personalities and motives and set free to bring the story to the viewer, via their actions on the screen, just as if they were human actors. The primary difference, though, is that the animator is in total control of the performance, rather than the actor. The voice actors, in this case, are the real draw for the audience; think Tom Hanks and Tim Allen in Toy Story.

Yes, animation is even close to Sculpture. Modern CGI/3D animation creates a digital sculptural base and uses that to create an armature on which to build the characters and objects used in films and, especially, gaming today.

The task at hand was to compare animation to another art form. I chose to compare animation to seven different forms of art. If, as Bucchanieri said, “Art is in the eye of the beholder, and everyone will have their own interpretation”; then, to my eye, animation is all forms of art and cannot be broken out, one from the other.

Posted by: Catadromy | April 24, 2020

We’ll Always Have Paris

This year marks a milestone wedding anniversary. We had planned a trip to Europe, which was to culminate with a stay in Paris, complete with a grand celebratory dinner at a romantic restaurant (is there any other type of restaurant in the City of Light?) and then participating in the annual Bastille Day celebrations. In all our visits to Paris, we’ve never been there for Bastille Day.

Allons enfants de la Patrie
Le jour de gloire est arrivé!
Contre nous de la tyrannie
L’étendard sanglant est levé!

I hear it’s glorious in Paris during the Bastille Day celebrations.

I have always loved Paris; it’s long been my favorite non-US city (New York, don’t worry. You’ll always be my Number One). From the very first visit in 1968 to my most recent time there in 2018, I always discover something wonderful and new. My goal in life (at least where Paris is concerned) is to be un flâneur. Someone who walks for the sake of walking, without aim or purpose. I suppose, technically, since I am a woman, I should describe myself as une flâneuse. Either way, this describes the bulk of my behavior when I’m in Paris. I walk and walk and walk, discovering new sights and vistas and shops along the way. I have no idea what this is but look how beautiful. Not me, the setting. Down some random alley that we saw somewhere near Le Marais.

Or sometimes, we sit at a café and take in the other flâneurs going about their walks. This was at a café in St. Germain.

I finally made it to Shakespeare & Co. and bought a book on…Walking by Rebecca Solnit. What other title would une flâneuse purchase?

Or this. Walking back from Ile de Cité one rainy afternoon, I ducked into a doorway, turned around, looked up and saw the name of this fleuriste. Rosebud! My nickname in college. I burst into the shop and told the owner of the shop all about it. She was nearly as excited as I was and furnished me with this business card.

My first visit, frankly, I was a bum. It was the tail end of a 3-month trip to Europe that began with a 6-week time in Israel and the Middle East. At that time, the Israelis would stamp your entrance visa on a separate piece of paper, so that you could go to Jordan or Lebanon or Egypt and not have an issue with the authorities. Ah, those were the days! Anyway, I worked my way west from Tel Aviv, landing in Athens, then Italy (many tales to be told about my time there, but for another time) then Switzerland, where I spent just about the last of my cash on a sweater because it was that cold; finally ending in Paris. If I hadn’t a pre-paid ticket back to JFK, I’d still be there, I think. Not that that would be a bad thing. I befriended a waiter in a café who gave me a place to stay and free meals. To occupy my days, I walked the city and got to know her. It was the beginning of my romance with the City of Light.

Even way back in the ‘70s on our first trip to Paris as a couple, the city was special. Most memorably for me, a woman came up to me in the street and asked for directions, in French, which she received from me—also in French. My husband, whose French consists of bad Charles Boyer impressions and asking for the check, was quite impressed. I studied the language in high school and had a French minor in college, so ce n’était pas un gros problème.

I am forever thankful that we managed to visit Notre Dame on our last visit. My heart broke when I watched her burn last year. Even though I am not a Catholic, to me, she represents the beating heart of Paris, of France. She is Mile Zéro for the French; the starting point for all distances in France.

There will be no trip to Europe or to Paris this year. Milestone anniversary or not, I will be missing Paris, as I do always.

A Bientôt, mon amour.

Posted by: Catadromy | May 19, 2019

Pain Is A Bear

Pain is a bear. A bear with yellow, fear-stained teeth and slashing, bloody claws that rip you open when you least expect. The bear could be a brown bear or black or even a grizzly bear. But the bear sneaks up on you and grabs you completely unaware. You’re in the bear’s clutches, trying to get free; yet, the more you struggle, the harder the grip.

The bear fights to pull you under and you try to fight back, strongly at first. Then, the bear tightens its grip and your resistance falters, weakens. You fight your way to the surface, grab a lungful of air and whirl around to do battle with the bear again. The bear never weakens, never loses focus. The bear knows what it wants. It wants—YOU. It wants to own you. It wants to possess you. It wants to subsume you—all of you.

But you gather yourself up and face the bear. You will win this fight, even if it takes every last bit of your remaining strength. You whirl around, pull yourself up to your full height and tell the bear, “Not today. Not now. You are not going to win this one.”

The bear, vanquished, turns away. But when he’s facing away from you, the corners of his mouth turn up in a knowing grin. He’ll be back, just when you least expect. And just when you’re not prepared. But he’ll be back, just the same.

Posted by: Catadromy | February 13, 2019

Blew By You

Recently, I saw an interview with Linda Ronstadt, whom I have loved for years. From afar, of course. Although I’ve been to her concerts and purchased her albums, we’ve never met. Love her, just the same.

She has Parkinson’s Disease and her crystal-clear soprano is stilled forever. She said in the interview that she can’t even sing in the shower. One other thing she said in the interview really stuck with me. The interviewer asked her if she was afraid to die. She replied that she wasn’t afraid of dying; she was afraid of suffering.

I am a devoted reader of the paid obituaries in the New York Times, as I’ve posted before. I take note of the ages of the ‘honorees’, read a few salient details of their lives and move on. Lately, though, I’ve noticed a very disturbing trend. I see the ages of the deceased (or figure them out, based on birth year) and realize they weren’t that much older than I am currently. I think, well, he was [this age], he had a good run. Then I do a bit of math and realize he was only 10 or 12 years older than I am now. Ten years is the blink of an eye to me now. The thought that I only have 10 years left on this earth is dismaying, to say the least. I still have goals, I have things I want to do, accomplish. I have a bucket list that’s not finished!

Time is a river—a metaphor that means time flows only forward. When I was younger, time stretched out before me in an endless stream, uninterrupted by any ordinary concerns. Marcel Proust famously insisted that the remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were. But I’m talking about the future and not the past, an appreciably foreshortened future from my perspective.

I’m facing major surgery next month. Perhaps that’s the reason for all this introspection. I’ve always lived too much of my life in my head; it’s not a healthy place to be most of the time. It’s crowded up there with regret, ghosts of memory and lists of things I always mean to do, but never seem to get around to actually doing.

“Do not fear death, but rather the unlived life. You don’t have to live forever. You just have to live.” — Natalie Babbitt

I have always tried to live my best life and to live so as to have no regrets.

As Old Lodge Skins (Chief Dan George’s character in Little Big Man) so memorably said, ‘Sometimes the magic works, sometimes it doesn’t.’

Hocus Pocus.

Posted by: Catadromy | November 28, 2018

To Sleep, Perchance To Dream (with apologies to W. Shakespeare)

To the surprise of absolutely no one who really knows me, my passion is sleeping.  I believe sleeping to be vastly underrated. Did you know that a good night’s sleep can help you to improve your memory, curb inflammation, boost creativity, improve your grades, sharpen your attention, maintain a healthy weight, lower stress, avoid accidents and avoid depression?

There are two types of people, when it comes to sleeping habits—larks and night owls. Or morning people and night people. “Larks” are up and at it early in the morning and tend to hit the sack at a respectable evening hour; “owls” are most alert at night, and typically turn in long after dark. We’re really talking about a spectrum, rather than either/or and people may start out as one and become the other. Or, stay the same their entire lives.

Contrary to what Benjamin Franklin may have written, ‘early to bed and early to bed makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise’ hasn’t been proven via statistical research. What has been shown, is that night owls are, on the whole, a bit smarter. Researchers measured mechanical and electrical engineering knowledge, general math and reading ability, working memory and processing speed and concluded that night owls were smarter than larks. Night owls are also more prone to infidelity.

Night owls are partial to bad habits—namely smoking and drinking. Well, they stay up late, go out. What does one do when one goes out? One smokes and drinks, of course.

But larks are persistent, co-operative, agreeable, conscientious and proactive. Well, if you like that sort of thing.

Larks also procrastinate less. Hmm.

I proudly declare my membership in the night owl group. My daughter, as well. She is known around my house as the Vampire Princess.

Back to my passion for sleeping. I am extremely particular about my sleep environment. Even the smallest of elements must be just perfect. A few years ago, we were at the Hotel Jerome in Aspen, Colorado and had the best nights’ sleep imaginable. So, the final morning of our stay, I ripped off all the sheets and blankets and searched the mattress, looking for the name of the manufacturer. I found it and proceeded to search the internet for a retail store close to me. It took some time, but I found a store that sold the same type of mattress. The names on retail and hotel/commercial mattresses are a bit different. The day it was delivered and set up was a very memorable one.

This mattress is quite thick and I had to buy all new sheets. I only buy 100% Egyptian cotton sheets, minimum thread count of 600. The last time we were in Paris, we stayed at a 4-star hotel and the bedlinens were like sleeping on a cloud. Of course, I had turned the air conditioning down to 19° centigrade, so that might have had something to do with it. But the sheets were pure bliss. I located the name of the manufacturer and looked for them online, only to find out that they aren’t sold at retail…yet. So I wrote to them, asking when they might be available to consumers (instead of only to hotels) and was told that they are planning to open a storefront on Amazon and will let me know when they do.

I have a winter blanket and a summer blanket. The winter blanket is goose down and floats over me like a warm, fluffy cloud. The summer blanket is a cotton quilt and looks like it was made by someone’s grandmother. (Not mine, however.)

I have two pillows and they are identical. Both are king-size pillows, stuffed with the finest goose down. They are covered in pillow protectors and then pillow cases. One pillow goes under my arm and I wrap myself around the other one. I also have a third, smaller pillow that goes in-between my knees.

There is no light in the bedroom at all. The windows have blackout shades on each one. They were specially-made to not allow in any light. Even the lights on the cable box and the television are covered up. I also have a rule about no electronics in the bedroom at all. No iPad, phone or gaming devices.

There is also one window that is always open, because my bedroom must be cold or I cannot fall asleep. See earlier comment about Paris hotel room.

Once the conditions in the room are absolutely perfect, I snuggle under the blankets, arrange my pillows just so, close my eyes and drift off to sleep, only to wake up 7 hours later, fully refreshed and ready to begin another day.

 

Posted by: Catadromy | July 10, 2017

Sometimes, I Thinks and Sets. Sometimes, I Just Sets

There’s something so anodyne for me about being at the beach. I set up an encampment, complete with chair, beach blanket, water, spray bottle, music and a book (which I almost never open); settle in and watch the water lap the sand.

At times, the heat will get to me and I’ll go into the water, dodging the accumulation of small shells and bits of sharp coral that wash up in the unceasing waves. The first few steps into the water are always the hardest, especially when I’ve been sitting on the shore for a while and I’m overheated from the sun. Gradually I wade into the sea, until I gather up my courage and duck beneath the ocean. Emerging, I wipe the salt water from my eyes and begin to swim parallel to the shore, enjoying the cool water flowing along my sunburnt skin.

Out here, among the waves, it’s possible to be alone and away from the mundanities of the everyday. Nothing bothers me. There are no daily annoyances. No phone calls. No emails. Just me, the endless sky, the limitless Pacific Ocean.  I paddle back and forth, using a variety of strokes, sometimes on my back, sometimes not, always at one with the water and the sky.

Then I swim back to shore, go back to my encampment and the cycle begins anew.

My favorite time of day at the beach is around 4:30, when the beach empties, the air temperature drops a bit and the sun sparkles on the water.  Sometimes, a sailboat will run across the water, dodging in and out of the sparkles, creating an image in my mind’s eye that I carry with me.

There’s a cycle, a rhythm to being at the beach. People come, people go. The tide rolls in, the tide rolls out. The sun rises and sets. Sitting there, I feel at once a part of the Universe and entirely insignificant. I ponder the imponderable. I float high, among the clouds, soaring on an updraft, swimming through the air, as if it was the water beneath. I turn off my mind and just watch the water as it moves along the shoreline.

And I sit there on the sand and take it all in.

Posted by: Catadromy | July 10, 2017

O Maple Lake, O Maple Lake!

It’s a ritual for upper middle class children in the Northeast to go to what’s fondly known as sleep-away camp for the months of July and August.  Parents load their children onto yellow schoolbuses, complete with their suitcases and bedrolls and ship them off to the wildernesses of the Catskills or the Adirondacks or the Poconos.

Throughout my younger days, I attended these camps as a camper. But it wasn’t until I was hired on to work as a counselor at one that my eyes were opened to the true reality of life at a Camp For Overprivileged Children.

For that is indeed what these camps are (or were—for like many things from my youth, I don’t know if they still exist, at least, not in the same form).  The campers were from upper middle class families, the counselors were college students and the waitstaff were generally still in high school.

I got my job through a family connection the summer between my freshman and sophomore years of college. This particular camp was in the Catskills, very near to Grossinger’s.  Originally, I was assigned a bunk of 10 year-old girls. When the camp’s Director found out I had my WSI (Water Safety Instructor), I was made the Waterfront Counselor (in addition to my bunk). Meant I was the pool lifeguard, taught swimming and had the keys to the boathouse. All for only $125 for the entire 8 weeks. Not per week—all 8 weeks total. That and all the tips we were able to extort on Palm Sunday. (More on that later.)

The pool wasn’t heated. I hate cold water. Most days found me poolside, wearing a sweatshirt over my swimsuit, bamboo pole in hand, watching the kids in the pool. When I gave lessons, I lay down on the diving board to show them the basics of the strokes. Swimming for the campers was mandatory—big selling point to the parents—so even if they didn’t want to get in the pool, they received a gentle nudge from my bamboo pole.  All of the campers who didn’t already know how to swim, learned. And I’m happy to report not a single drowning occurred that summer.

The cabins or bunks at this camp were essentially made out of tissue paper. Needless to say, smoking in the bunks was totally forbidden, due to the extreme fire hazard.  Unlike today, smoking wasn’t seen in so evil a light; we could smoke, we just couldn’t smoke in the bunks. I, of course, did just that. I couldn’t be bothered to go outside or into the dining hall or sit by the pool. I wanted to smoke and I wanted to smoke now.

I got fired.

But, wait. You can’t fire the only lifeguard. What about the pool? Swimming lessons?

I got re-hired.

At the time, the legal drinking age in New York was 18. There was a small town near the camp that the counselors would go to on our nights off to drink. Lord knows, we needed to drink. There was one particular bar we liked, known as Art’s Blue Room. Quite popular among us.  Monday nights were all-camp meetings, led by the Director.  She was passive-aggressive to the utmost. She would never call people out by name, but rather by the clothing they were wearing. One Monday, it was my turn.

‘You there, in the yellow sweater.’ A roomful of eyes swiveled in my direction. ‘The cream of the crop of Livingston Manor does not frequent Art’s Blue Room.’ In my defense, I wasn’t the only one of us there that night. Maybe it was the sweater that caught her eye. Maybe she was still unhappy about the smoking incident.

I got fired again.

But, I’m the only lifeguard. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

This camp shared a lake with a much larger, fancier and richer camp. With much better waiters. I mean, I had a waiter of my own (wink, wink) but I wanted something better. So, I and several of my friends took out a rowboat (keys to the boathouse, remember?) and rowed across the lake to this other camp for a Night to Remember.  Ah, yes.

I got fired for the third time.

Lifeguard? Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

After all, there’s still Palm Sunday and Color War to get through.

I promised an explanation of Palm Sunday. Palm Sunday is formally known as Visiting Day. It’s the second Sunday in August and the day the parents come up to see how their precious little darlings are doing, after having been entrusted to the care of a bunch of drunken, hormonal college students. It’s called Palm Sunday because the counselors (metaphorically) stand with their palms outstretched, waiting to receive their tips from the parents of their charges. For some strange reason, my 10 year-olds loved me. I cleaned up.  It’s nice to have rich parents. Not me—them.

Color War comes after Palm Sunday. It’s the Big Finish, if you will. The entire camp is divided into two teams, assigned to either one of the camp’s two colors—in this case, green or white.

I was the water sports coach for the Green team.  Needless to say, we won our events. There’s a point-scoring system; I don’t recall which team won the war. There weren’t trophies or certificates. Back in those days, there were no awards for just showing up, unlike today.

At the end of August, the yellow schoolbuses returned and the process was reversed. Happy, suntanned campers packed up their suitcases, swore to write to everyone in their respective bunks (and their beloved counselors!) forever and went back to New York, secure in their happy little lives, knowing that nothing would ever happen to them to change that.

The counselors swore off working for slave wages ever again and vowed to get a better job someplace, anyplace rather than spend another summer catering to the whims of Overprivileged Children (no matter how well-behaved).

 

Posted by: Catadromy | July 12, 2015

Above The Clouds, It’s Always Sunny

Spending time in a speeding cigar tube full of people, generally on their worst behavior, is generally not my idea of a good time.  First, as most of you know, I hate people.  Secondly, I’m old and I remember when air travel used to be an occasion.  People would dress up to get on a plane—it was an event.  It was glamorous.  It was also incredibly expensive.

Today, air travel has been democratized.  Prices are low, people rarely give a second thought to hopping on a plane.  Of course, there’s the whole situation with the TSA.  This is not the place to discuss that.  I’m more interested in talking about what goes on inside the plane, after we’ve all boarded.

Lately, every flight I’ve been on is full.  Not just full, but FULL, as in every seat is occupied.  Gone are the days when I would get onto a plane after a hard week’s work in New York, and the flight attendant would take one look at me and gently guide me to an entire row of seats and hand me enough blankets and pillows to make a nest for myself so that I could sleep the whole way home to Los Angeles.

Nowadays, I find myself sitting bolt upright in one seat, hopefully on the aisle, praying that the middle seat next to me won’t be occupied by a manspreader or a fat person.  Before you condemn me for that last comment, please understand.  I paid for one seat.  I wish to have the entirety of that one seat to myself.  When the seat next to me is taken by someone who spills over into my space, then I don’t get the benefit of what I have paid for.  If you take up more than one seat, for whatever reason, then prepared to pay for more than one seat.  That’s all that I ask.  Life isn’t fair.  It was never meant to be.

Way back when, people would get dressed up to fly.  I remember wearing a dress, hose, heels to get on a plane, because flying was an occasion.  It wasn’t just transportation from Point A to Point B.  Flying was the point of it all. Today, flying is nothing like that.  It hasn’t been for some time.  And that’s all for the better.  I can’t imagine taking an overnight flight to Europe dressed as if I’m going to a formal business meeting.  Nope, I want to wear something I can stretch out and sleep in.  Of course, things can go to extremes.  Back in the days of the old Western Airlines, I saw people get on the flight to Hawaii with live poultry—in the passenger cabin.  But that’s a story for another time and place.

Even older people aren’t immune from behaving badly in the air.  It’s as if, when up in the sky (or about to be) all the normal behavioral constraints fly out the proverbial window.  Case in point: Flying back from a long stay in Hawaii, seated on the plane, waiting for takeoff, when there’s an unexplained delay.  I had noticed two couples in the departure lounge, the men wearing matching Hawaiian shirts. Slightly obnoxious, but kind of cute, in a mature way. It turns out that these two couples were traveling with some teenagers and had booked the six of them into an exit row.  Airline regulations do not allow teenagers to be seated in an exit row, something that was explained to one of these couples at some length.  She objected, loudly and repeatedly, and refused to accept being reseated.  At one point, the police came and escorted her off the plane, only to allow her back on, after extracting a promise of further good behavior..  She and her long-suffering husband were eventually seated next to my husband across the aisle from me.  Her husband was furious at her for being so ridiculous about the seating assignment (the seats they were moved to were premium seats—I know because I paid the premium to sit in one) and he pouted the entire 6 hours back to Los Angeles.  She was given two free drinks and then cut off for the rest of the flight.  The flight attendant and I had a good gossip about the whole thing after we hit the half-way point back in the galley. I even got an extra cookie out of the deal.  Yay, me.

plane

Over a two week span in April, I was on 8 different planes, making a total of 2 round trip flights.  While sitting and waiting for one of these, I encountered something I’ve seen before. Two total strangers, sitting next to each other.  One says to the other, ‘Would you please watch my stuff while I hit the restroom?’  I don’t get this.  These two guys had never met before, never spoken while they were sitting next to each other and had zero connection, yet somehow, there’s this implied contract between them that one is going to leave all his stuff under the guardianship of the other for the brief time that he’s going to be spending in the men’s room at LaGuardia.  I (who never talk to strangers) even asked the guy about it.  I mean, I just don’t get it.  I would rather take my stuff with me, before I would ask a total stranger to watch it for me.  What makes this one guy more trustworthy than any other guy in the airport waiting area?  Why him?

Maybe it’s my cynical Brooklyn self talking.  But I would never do this.

After all, I hate people.

 

Posted by: Catadromy | January 6, 2015

The Call Of The Native

I’m currently reading a collection of essays that have been written by writers who once lived in New York, but felt compelled by circumstance and fate to move out of the city.  The compilation is called Goodbye To All That: Writers On Loving And Leaving New York.  With a very few exceptions, the essay writers came from someplace to New York, spent some time there and then left.

Can you be a New Yorker, a true New Yorker, by any way other than birth?

I was a contestant on Jeopardy! not long ago.  The contestants provide some biographical information, either where you were born or where you live currently, and it gets used in your intro.  In my case, I chose to use the city of my birth—Brooklyn, as in, ‘originally from Brooklyn, New York.’  Being from Brooklyn seems to be quite a trend on Jeopardy!.  I was speaking with the current champion in the green room prior to taping.  He was also from Brooklyn.  So, of course, I asked him where in Brooklyn he was from.  When he replied, ‘Park Slope’, I thought, Oh, you’re one of thoseThose being hipsters, trend seekers, nouveaux, arrivistes.  You know, new-comers.

I, on the other hand, am OG.  Brooklyn born and bred.  I was from Brooklyn well before it was cool, hip or trendy.  We lived in Borough Park (still not a hot area, probably never will be).  My grandmother lived in Bensonhurst.  My parents married at the Masonic Temple on 13th Avenue.  My mother went to New Utrecht High School; my father to James Madison.  I was born in what was called at the time Israel Zion Hospital; it’s Maimonides now.

I used to roller skate (skates that attached to my shoes with a skate key) on uneven sidewalks, go to the candy store, hang out with my friends from the building, visit my cousins.  Got into occasional kid trouble.

But back to my moment in the Jeopardy! green room. When the current champion told me he lived in Park Slope, I asked him where he was from.  When he replied, ‘Woodland Hills’, I had my answer.  He wasn’t from Brooklyn.  He just lives there now.  He’s not a New Yorker.

A New Yorker is something you are, not something you become.

I may live in Los Angeles, but I’m from New York.

Older Posts »

Categories