Friday, December 31, 2010

NYC: Happy New Year!

I popped into a super market called the Vinegar Factory ( I know, awful name) in the early evening to pick up some bagels so I could wake in the New Year with a proper NY bagel for breakfast.

Let me just say, New Yorkers do NOT screw around with their December holidays. It's the equivalent of Los Angeles and Halloween. Serious enthusiasm abounds.

I walk in just wanting a bagel, but instead am accosted by this in a SUPERMARKET, people:

and this:

Note the salad bar sign in the background

Have to love it. 

Happy Happy New Year from NYC!!!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

NYC: Well, well, well, I am officially here, aren't I?

There are markers that signify progress in life; In NY there are few basic ones. I am living one of them.

But first, let me share this:

Last night I went to the dog park, and lo and behold I met a man who had moved here from California; I asked him from where - he told me Palm Springs, then said well, actually Indio.  (which is about 35 miles east of P.S.) I asked him WHY would you move from Indio to NYC? (Indio has two things it's known for: A Polo Field and Coachella Music Festival, and that pretty much sums it up)

He told me there was a hiring freeze on his company and he could either move to Raleigh, NC  or NYC - he chose NYC.

I asked him how he liked it. 

Now I am in the dog run, with SERIOUS New Yorkers. We're within spitting distance of Gracie Mansion (Yes, I know the Mayor doesn't live there, but, still ...)

He spoke a little too loudly for my taste and was nice enough, but then he said this:

"New York's just like Vegas but without the Casinos."

HUH? Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa. 

I started to slink away slowly, refusing to make eye contact with the other dog people- I didn't want them to ever recognize me again as being the woman that was talking to the idiot who THINKS NY IS LIKE VEGAS.

Mortification. Just sheer mortification.

I wanted to stop him and say have you no respect, son? Are you insane? You could possibly, possibly whisper that to someone, but to say it with that kind of matter of factness in a social setting is downright blasphemous.

I mean, really.

Oh, his job transfer here? Was with a granite company of some sort  - working on a large project.  But his dog was sweet. So, there's that.


I have been without heat or hot water since yesterday morning. I got through the night, but today is getting tougher. Any residual heat in the apartment has gone; my dog who is not much of a snuggler, refused to go the park this morning, and has been under a fleece blanket all day.

I slept with 5 layers on top (3 of those are sweaters) and two layers on the bottom.

I am dirty and gross. I have dirty dishes that are begging to be washed. I have very little interest in going out even though I know it would be best to get the blood going to aide in keeping me warm - but the superficial side says if you go out looking like this the odds are that YOU WILL see someone you haven't seen in years or someone from your youth, and before you know it there will be those stories floating around... You know who I saw the other day? OMG, she looked awful and smelled a little too... Not happening.

My friend, a born and bred New Yorker told me to call 311 to complain about the heat. Let me tell you something about 311.   311 has commercials that run ALL the time on television -  Wanna quit smoking? Call 311. Stub your toe? Call 311. Need a job? Call 311. You don't like the way the sun is shining? Call 311. 311 is basically your Mother, therapist, attorney. personal assistant, and handyman all rolled into one. Seriously. I swear I could call them about the guy that I met in the park last night, and they would offer words of advice on how to gracefully extract oneself when in a siutation such as that.

Ha! It worked. I knew if I bitched long enough, the heat would come back on. Hurrah! It's on! See, a NY tradition. Works like a charm every time.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

NYC: Blizzard 2010- CONSPIRACY!


So we had a blizzard. A pretty magnificent blizzard. We had snow thunder, and non-stop snow.

I'm on the east coast, right? NYC, right? It's not like I'm in Houston.


The local ABC channel has preempted Oprah, for crying out loud.

Last night on the news there was a woman in Mineola, Long Island -  white woman, mid fifties, give or take; long grey curly hair, long down coat, perma-furrowed-brow and perma-scowl and called the blizzard just horrible, just awful, she couldn't believe it, what's the city doing about it? she said:  "I mean, this is CATASTROPHIC!"

I wanted to reach through the TV and throttle her neck.


The Haitian Earthquake?  Catastrophic.

The Indonesian Tsunami?  Catastrophic.

Hurricane Katrina?  Catastrophic.

This is NOT catastrophic.

Mayor Bloomberg's press conference yesterday had him a little annoyed by the pesky reporters and their questions - he sort of responded with an attitude of "that's' a dumb question, and I don't have time for this nonsense."

Today he had longer answers.

I know I am in a bit of a bubble for  where I live; the streets are manageable - not to drive, but to walk. You just have to be careful.

I understand the issues with the ambulances getting stuck. I understand the hardships of getting to work

But  the city is getting seriously wound up. We are fortunate that this happened during a holiday week.

I came in a little while ago and turned on the TV, and here was this guy bellowing across the airwaves on the local news. I did a double take, because seriously, if Hollywood put two actors dressed like these guys and gave the one guy the title he has, New Yorkers would be screaming FOUL!

New Yorkers would say: "you Hollywood people always portray us in such a cliché manner"

Really? But this is exactly how a writer in Hollywood would get the idea.

Let's take a look, shall we?

Mr Marty Markowitz, AKA Brooklyn Borough President looks like he just came up from the basement rec room to deliver his rant.

And rant he did.

I mean, who's the henchman in the background?

Mr. Brooklyn President talked about the "curve that was dropped sometime between the hours of midnight and 5 in the morning of the blizzard" "Why wasn't salt put down on Sunday night?" "Why are there cars still stranded?" 

By the way, what the hell does he mean by the "curve was dropped" ?  Did he mean ball? 

Henchman chewed gum throughout the whole rant.

Mr Marty Markowitz was on FIRE.

The little girl in Pink stared at the Brooklyn President the whole time she walked past them.

I think her expression says it all.

Rant, rant. Marty said: "I don't wanna get involved with the unions and all that, but after this is all done then we can sit down and quarterback this." He thinks he knows what happened. But, he ain't talking right now.

He made a plea, for anyone with vehicles that had the capability to tow, or healthy men and women who were strong and could shovel -  Brooklyn needed their help

He said $12.00 an hour. 

Here he is rubbing his fingers together, saying "that's a lotta money!"
And in typical politician style, not five seconds later he upped it to $15.00 an hour.

But you know if you went down it would be changed back to $12.00 an hour, and you would be told that the Brooklyn President "misspoke".

And henchman would be standing there smacking his gum with a look that said: "I dare ya" 

I later found out that Mr Borough President was upset (amongst a gazillion other things - this man is a professional bitcher) about the bike lanes in Brooklyn. Said the enforcement was ruining Prospect Park West and turning it  into a "mini Amsterdam" 

Apparently he youtubes a lot of his commentary, sings at times, and has no editing machine installed in the brain. 

Oh, and according to his bio: Marty married his wife, Jamie, in 1999, and they recently celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary. They are the proud parents of Beep, a nine-year-old African Grey Parrot.

Get this man a show STAT.   A&E, are you listening?

Monday, December 27, 2010

NYC: Waking up to Winter Wonderland

I opened my door to the "backyard"  and this greeted me:

the view from the floor looking out
and this:

standing upright looking out the backdoor

then there was the matter of my car. I had been scheduled to move it to NJ this morning; Obviously that wasn't going to happen.

But I really forgot about the idea of being 
"snowed in"


And it appeared the motorcycle that had been parked behind my car for days had to lean due to the weight of the snow.

Tomorrow, I believe is dedicated to shoveling to get my car out and safely to NJ.
I mean, I think it is. 
Shoveling? Really? 

Sunday, December 26, 2010

NYC: Re-Entry and the Winter Wonderland.

I finally moved into my sublet 2 days before Christmas; As I got closer to the city, I got more excited. When I saw the skyline, and the red and green lights,  I knew I was where I was supposed to be. The Grey Gardens had been exorcised.

My sublandlord told me she had been cleaning for three days, and that she was leaving apartment in "spit shine clean" condition.

I thought there was going to be a flower arrangement waiting for me. I was thrilled.

Instead, I found a clogged toilet, a crusted filthy refrigerator, and floors that looked as if they hadn't been washed in YEARS. Fur balls of brown hair from her labs. And btw, the tiles in the kitchen? Black tiles. When you can see dirt on black tiles you know it's bad. I guess "spit shine clean" is subjective.

I spent the past two days cleaning. But, I was home.  In the meantime, my camera broke. It didn't matter -  I was in the city and down the street from a beautiful park. Around the corner from every kind of shop you could imagine.

I spent Christmas evening at an old friends home who hosted a dinner party. My first social outing, and after three weeks of a Grey Gardens existance I was the deer in headlights amongst the 12 other guests.

At least I didn't break out in some dance or song. Nor did I wear a bathing suit on my head. So there's that.

This morning I woke up to headlines screaming BLIZZARD! My dog and I went out in the morning, and it was fine. Light flurries. No Big Deal. Typical hysterical headline. Whatever.

Then, more flurries. By 1:30 PM I thought, oh, they're not kidding. The search for proper winter boots turned futile. Every shop was sold out in my neighborhood. My groovy aubergine patent leather Cole Haan boots were about as good as ballet slippers in this weather.

A friend offered to loan me a North Face jacket.

This was serious business. I started to put layer upon layer on to walk to her place, and decided against it.

My dog and I opted to stay in and watch the winter wonderland progress:
(note the table in the left part of the pictures)

By 1:30, it was quaint, non?

By 4:30, the sun was going down, it had gotten a lot colder, and I felt like a bear and just wanted to hibernate. 
I understood why they do:

7:00, still snowing...

My dog's REAL first taste of snow.

Around 9:00

Look!  A snow drift on the fence in my "backyard"

Did I mention SNOW THUNDER
Never heard of that before. 
We had it. Added ambience I must say.

And here at 12:30 AM

A subtle difference, but it's still growing.
Before bed snapshot:

Tonight, as I watched the snow fall, I remembered doing the exact same thing as a teenager. Staying up to all hours just watching the snow fall silently to the ground. The silence gave me a feeling of safety. The streets were empty, all was quiet. Nothing bad could happen when the city was like this.

And this time around, I still feel the same way. 

Southampton: Shaking off that Grey-ish feeling.

There really was only one thing to do. Get out of the house.

The Backyard was lovely, 

but it was time to get out and explore.

Thankfully, the beach was a 1/2 block away. 

I never said I was a big explorer.

This is my dog on one of the two dedicated benches as you gain access to the beach.  

Each bench has its own plaque. 
One says: 
"In Loving Memory of... 
but the other one, the one my dog is NOT sitting on, says: 

"Dedicated to.... the Love of My Life"
I started to get weepy.

We started to walk;  it was a tad windy.

Pretty Beautiful, huh?

During the season, I think this activity is highly illegal

As is this:

And this...
As well as this

I was suddenly overwhelmed with thoughts of My Mother. I thought how much she loved the ocean, from the days of her childhood to the day she died.

When you're on the West Coast, the thought of going to Europe is daunting;  the travel time discourages many a trip. Standing here on the eastern portion of Long Island, I think how "it" - France, is within arms reach.

And, again, I thought about turning back. I mean, what was I doing? I'm idling in Southampton. It's Los Angeles all over again. Just a different locale.

And then, I thought about moving forward -  and really, France was so close.

I started running on the beach, and I could hear my Mother talking about her memories in France, running and doing gymnastics at the seaside. Do you know how difficult it is to run on the beach? Let me tell you something, it's HARD. I  tried to focus on the stories My Mother told me and remember the way her face would light up to keep me going. The breathing thing was getting a little tricky though, and I seriously didn't know how much longer I could go on. 

And I wondered at the same time if I did pass out, would anyone EVER discover me? I mean, it IS off season. The tide was coming in. OMG. Did anyone ever come out here?? I should stop. No, I need to keep going. This is crazy, just stop. 

I was interrupted by a text. 

A text from the city. 

The apartment was mine.

Southampton: Days of Grey Gardens

I was surrounded by beauty, but not knowing my fate. As the days wore on, and I settled into limbo-ville, I had a greater, deeper, and more profound understanding of Grey Gardens. 

And listen, that was 35 years ago, when NOTHING was open (and yes, I realize that was in East Hampton), but I now fully understood why you would think a bathing suit would make a lovely hat, or think it's okay to have holes in the walls, and have cats urinating all over heirlooms. I GOT IT.

I understood how Big Edie 
could go from that,

to this:

I Understood. I was Grey Gardens adjacent at this point. 

Southampton: Gin Lane, Tide's End, and Cidiots

Every morning, weather permitting, I would run on the beach. 

This is the street I was staying on

Which was two houses up from Gin Lane.

Now, if you don't know Gin Lane, then click here.  

One morning, I exited at Old Town Road. When I made the left on Gin Lane to go home, I saw this:

At the end of this plot of land is the ocean. 

Close ups of the entrance markers - The left marker

The right marker

I loved the entrance, the name of the house that once stood there; the surname. 
So VERY New England-ish.  I thought oh some über wealthy ego centric schmuck bought the house and had it ripped down, just because they could.

I thought about who lived there and imagined they had many, many summers filled with joy and laughter.
I wondered what happened to the Walker family.

So, I looked it up.

Here is how the house looked:

Gorgeous, right?

Here is what I found out:

(courtesey of )

Estate of Grenville Kane-Walker, 450 Gin Lane: demolish historic carriage/caretaker's house. This house and property (near Old Towne beach) has been on the market for awhile but has not sold. The theory is that it would sell easier if the lot were empty. This is an old horse barn or carriage house that became a caretaker’s house, and then when the main house (by J. Searle Barclay, whose style is evoked by the surviving caretaker’s house) was washed away in the hurricane of 1938, it became the principal house. It was built prior to 1916 and has been added onto and modified but it has vernacular charm and contributes to the narrative of the Village’s history and evolution. Only four people were notified officially about this demolition request. It needs a little tweaking (like removing some of the additions) and some ‘TLC,’ but then it would be a gem. The house is listed on the 1977 Inventory as “Tides End” and looks the same now as the photo on that inventory. There are great interior and exterior photos in the file at the building department.

And then there was this:

The Southampton Village Review Board approved a controversial tear-down request at 450 Gin Lane on Monday. The circa 1900 carriage house named Tide's End is part of the estate of Grenville Kane Walker, which is being sold by his daughter for $19.9 million.  The main house was washed away during the Hurricane of 1938, and only a few structures remain on the coveted land. The oceanfront property near Old Towne Beach reportedly has a buyer lined up on the condition that the house is torn down, according to the SH Village Review Blog. That site also reveals that board members were inclined to approve the proposal on the grounds that the carriage house is 'visually incoherent' without the original structure in place. ..

The following day, I exited through the Bath and Tennis Club 
and made a right to go home.

I stopped in front of a vulgar structure. The White House on Steroids.

Not on the beach side. 

I said out loud:

WHY? WHY did you build a house this large? (and not to mention aesthetically unappealing) WHY? I thought well, maybe they have a large family. And those children are grown and have children of their own, and the house is utilized. Maybe they house victims of domestic abuse and their children.

I saw the name : "Fox Hall" 

Again, I looked it up. I mean, fishermen, yes. Fox hunting, really? In 2010. In Southampton? Along a road that runs parallel to the beach? REALLY?

Turns out the home has 12 bedrooms. The doors and windows alone cost a little over one million dollars.

The home was built by a Banker from London. 

He uses it for the month of August, and that's it. My friend pointed out that, yes, there are many homes in LA that re this large, but at least people use them year round. Yes, I suppose there is that.

I now understood the nickname that many of the locals give the vacation homeowners: 


Saturday, December 18, 2010

NYC: Diva Birthdays

The night after Elaine's I was due back in the city for a friends birthday soiree. My friend was in town from Los Angeles, and every year he celebrates his birthday here.

So, again, it was the two hour travel time - on the way there I saw a Carvel. Decided I needed to stop in - I hadn't been to a Carvel since I was a teenager.

I didn't have a gift, and really, what do you give to a Diva living in a Diva world? The items a Diva wants are out of my budget.

So, I bought a Fudgy the Whale cake.

Cute, non?

When I arrived, I told the birthday diva I thought Fudgy the Whale was the best gift since I had traveled from Southampton - it was either that or a bucket of steamers. 

The Birthday Diva as a 19 year old. Photographed By Robert Mapplethorpe

The Birthday Diva today celebrating his birthday:

The Birthday Diva asked me how NYC was coming along; I told Diva about my concerns with the sublet. Another person joined in on the conversation: "NY's not what it used to be - easy sublets don't happen anymore" and the Diva echoed that: "You knew this was going to be HARD. You KNOW New York" and then he turned to the fellow, and said "You do know where she's staying? She's the only person I know that'll bitch about having to stay in Southampton" 

Shut up Diva.

The party was fine. Filled with a lot of bold faced names that I recognized.

From a very long time ago.

Some had aged not so well.

Some had just gotten plain ole' fat.

My mood was definitely darkening.

What's with the New Yorkers? Why don't they take care of themselves? OMG listen to me. I am turning into that California chick from a Woody Allen movie.

I took my leave around midnight; I rode down with a stylist for THE movie star A list couple, she told me I was the grooviest one there.

Okay, there's that. I'll take it.

On my way back to Southampton, I just kept thinking, OMG I am homeless in NY. I don't know, I don't know, maybe I should go back. If this sublet doesn't come through, then what? I'm going to travel back and forth each day to  look at sublets? This isn't exactly cheap, you know. Maybe I should go back. 

But, back to what? Back to my apartment? Back to my canyons? Back to...?  I really had nothing to return to. Or, for.

This was not in the plan, not in the plan at all.

Friday, December 17, 2010

NYC: Full Circle: Elaine's

I had scheduled a semi business dinner in the city at Elaine's. Elaine's holds a special place in my heart as it was here that I celebrated one of the best and most memorable birthdays I ever had.

Over ten years ago, I was in NYC from Los Angeles on my birthday weekend. Friends of mine had been out of town and when they returned they decided to take me to Elaine's for a celebratory birthday dinner.

Being a Sunday in August, Elaine's was a ghost town. The literati and glitterati set were all out of the city or out of the country. My friends and I had dinner and in the end, there were only two other tables left.

One held Ahmet Ertegun, and a very pretty young companion.

Ahmet Ertegun

The other held Elaine.
Elaine Kaufman

When dessert arrived with birthday candles blazing, my friends started to sing; Elaine and Ahmet Ertegun joined in.

Two iconic New Yorkers singing Happy Birthday in one of the most Iconic NY institutions.

I was in Heaven.

So here I was over 10 years later, back at Elaine's. Around the corner from the apartment I was allegedly subletting.

Prior to today I had been excited about living down the street from Gracie Mansion, up the road from Elaine's. I did downtown. I could give a hoot about downtown. Anyway, uptown was going to give me more bang for my buck.

Except the prospective apartment might not be happening. 

I needed documents according to my sub-landlord. W2's for the past two years. Bank Statements . Local Personal References. Letter from employer.

FOR A SUBLET? This is a rental building. This isn't a coop sublet. This is insane. OMG NY, you are testing me. I forgot what NY was like. It didn't help that my prospective sub-landlord had a better command of Portuguese than English.

This was supposed to be easy breezy. We had agreed that it would be a two month sublet with the option to sublet one more, and a lease takeover if I decided I wanted the place permanently. 

After a two hour travel time from Southampton to the Upper East Side which gave me waaaaay too much time to think about the sublet, I tried my best to be upbeat. when I walked into Elaine's at the appointed time: 9:00 PM,  the place was crazy busy.  A waiter approached me and told him who I was to meet. No last name necessary, and he said AH! Yes! right this way, and showed me to the front and center table.

Oh, I love Elaine's.

The upperwall while waiting for the loo in  the back of Elaine's

Dinner was animated, and later we moved to a bar table -- 11:30 and the place is packed. This ain't LA, that's for sure. Lawyers, stockbrokers, writers, politician types, actors  - all co-mingling. Drinking. Yelling. Kissing. Hugging. Having FUN.

My dining companions with Elaine's portrait in the background

A woman fell off her bar stool (and really how she stayed on is beyond me, it was THAT crowded) and hardly a person blinked. She laughed, others joined in propping her back up. A gentleman at my table commented on the fact that she looked like she was having fun. I told him in LA chances are that would not be perceived as fun; it would be looked down upon.  "she's a drunk" "pathetic" He looked at me in horror. Absolute horror. 

The waiter was called over to discuss Elaine's prognosis. My friend had told me earlier that Elaine had been in the hospital for two weeks with pneumonia; the waiter said it didn't look good. "She's been in ICU for 2 weeks"

My friend was upset. Afterall, she had been coming here for over 30 years.  Even after leaving NYC years ago, she returns four times a year, and this is her first stop. This is her home away from home. Elaine was a friend.

Originally my friend was thrilled that my sublet would be so close to her home away from home. 

Now, I was having my doubts about the apartment; For a variety of reasons; the sub-landlord was insisting I had to meet with the landlord, and bring all sorts of paperwork. Then, it wasn't the landlord, but the management company. Why was a simple sublet turning into a big to-do? The sub-landord rescheduled the meeting it seemed a thousand times; I wouldn't know until the following Monday if I had the sublet or not. I was confused and frustrated.

Elaine was critically ill.

The next morning my friend called to tell me Elaine had passed away. She was returning that night to Elaine's with loads of other regulars to toast Elaine. 

She told me, "That's it, it's the end of an era. No more. A part of NY has just died along with her."