Posts Tagged ‘Upper East Side’

Some of my readers know all about my Magical Mystery Tours because they have been included on them.  However, for those of you who are thinking “Whoa there, is this about LSD or shroom tea”, the answer is no, nothing of the sort.  A Magical Mystery Tour is an adventure,  a trip to a place you never knew about and it could practically be in your back yard.  An MMT is guaranteed to be a surprise to those invited along and sure to please.

My first Magical Mystery Tour was to take my husband on a trip to Journal Square in Jersey City.  I told him to meet me at Macy’s on 34th St.  Then I led him down a side street and into a large building that housed (of all things) The Manhattan Mall. That was his first shock because he had never heard of this place sitting around the corner from Herald Square. It was merely a decoy trip – we went up an escalator, walked past some stores that you couldn’t imagine being there and then down another escalator to the first floor and down again!  The second escalator down brought us into a subway station.  I led him over to the PATH train section and we bought ticket to board a train to New Jersey.  At this point he was getting nervous;  after all, it was night time and I was taking him to New Jersey!  We got off the train at Journal Square and the station looked large and unfamiliar – not like the subway stations we were used to in Manhattan.  I led him out of the station, across a large open  space where all the stores were closed (it was a little off-putting) and then across a wide main street.  He still didn’t “see” where we were headed until we were almost on top of it.  There, in all its faded glory stood a Loew’s Movie Palace.  We paid a mere $6.00 each and entered in a world of glory days gone by.  I had never been in a movie palace before, they didn’t exist where I grew up.  It was magnificent even in its state of disheveled rehabilitation.  Peter marveled that this treasure still existed and that it was slowly and painstakingly being brought  back to its former glory.

Lowe's Jersey Movie Palace

Lowe’s Jersey Movie Palace

We repeated that trip a few times, bringing unsuspecting friends on their own MMT and relishing their surprise and joy at discovering this treasure.  Since then over the years I’ve taken Peter on other Magical Mystery Tours and we just returned home  from the latest;

Today we went to a secret bookshop in Manhattan!  And it was in our neighborhood and who knew?  Well actually I knew  about it because Gail, my own secret sourcer-er, sent me an article about a secret bookshop about a year ago.  She even suggested that it would make a great Magical Mystery Tour. A man was running a bookshop out of an apartment.  It was on the Upper East Side and not exactly legal.  It was his own apartment at one time, that is until the books began to overrun the place;  he had owned a book store down the street but lost the lease and moved his inventory into his home.  He also continued to indulge in one of his passions – buying books!  Eventually the apartment became a warehouse for his books and his continued purchases.

I did research and finally found out his name but not his address.  I looked up a couple of articles written about him but they  always omitted his name and whereabouts WHICH is exactly what I’m going to do!  I found a phone number and periodically called and left messages to no avail – I never got a return call.  I tracked down the author of one of the articles and she gave me his email address, so of course I wrote, but never got a reply.  A month or so ago, Gail found out that he was on FB and I should look up his page and “LIKE” it and maybe send him a message there.  I did and WOWIE – after a month I received a reply.  I was shocked and thrilled!  He gave me his hours, his address and his cell phone number!  Oh boy, I was in business now!



I made an appointment for this afternoon and marked our calendar with MMT so Peter would keep the afternoon free!  Well, walking over there and not knowing exactly what to expect was a little scary.  But I rang the bell with unmarked (yes) name and we were buzzed in.  This is what we saw!  We were warmly greeted by _______ and welcomed to his idiosyncratic bookshop.  Books, books, books and more books!  Books on shelves, books in bookcases, books piled on tables, books piled on the floor, books on top of books – it was a melange of mysteries, a passel of paperbacks, a bounty of biographies, and chock full of fiction!  A literary paradise, a candy store for bibliophiles. 

We spent over an hour just gazing at shelves and grazing through the titles.  We didn’t buy anything today but will certainly return, perhaps even to participate in one of his “salons”.  There’s no need for advertising, this place is strictly WOM.

I’m sure you’re intrigued and are dying to know where this secret place is but I have to tell you, my lips are sealed!



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English: A man sleeping on the street of The B...

A man sleeping on the street of The Bowery in Manhattan. The sign is for luxury condos. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are worse places to be homeless, cold and hungry than New York.  While it’s true that the City has thousands of homeless, we also have hundreds of soup kitchens and shelters.  On the coldest of nights the Department of Homeless Services sends out vans seeking homeless on the streets and offering to take them to a shelter.  A surprising number refuse assistance preferring to spend nights on subway platforms, in Penn Station or the Port Authority.  

However, on a cold February night, a hot meal can be very inviting.  Every Saturday night, Holy Trinity Church on the Upper East Side feeds anywhere from 100 to 150 homeless or near homeless men and women a delicious hot meal.  I’m not a member of this congregation but I admire their commitment to the neighborhood so much that I try to support their programs.  I’ve been to a couple of their fund-raisers and today I volunteered to work in the soup kitchen. You can learn more about all that they do at https://www.facebook.com/groups/542527365780030/ which is the Holy Trinity Neighborhood Center Facebook page.

This is the second time I’ve done this and it is quite an experience.  I wonder who and how many people does it take just to organize such an undertaking?  Where does the all the food come from?  How do these volunteers know how to prepare and cook for so many people?  Where do all the volunteers come from?  Today there were many high school kids working with a couple of their mothers.  I just strolled over and announced I was here to help.

My first task was to cut up loaves of bread and fill bread baskets.  Thankfully, the church has reached out to local merchants such as Eli’s Bread which is located nearby.  Eli Zabar makes great bread and apparently donates a LOT of bread.  Even after filling 18 baskets, there were many loaves left over.  Then I helped set the tables.  There were 17 tables set for six people each.  I folded napkins and some of the kids put them out along with the silverware.  I couldn’t help myself – I told one of the girls that the folded edge of the napkin had to be facing the dish and that the knives should have the serrated edge facing the plate.  I think they thought I was a bit OCD – of course they’re right BUT I also think that there is no reason not to have the table set properly.

The people who come to eat are treated with great respect by everyone and in return we are rewarded with many sincere “thank-you’s” and compliments about the food.  The men and women who come are not all homeless  but all are in need.  Tonight, because it was so cold out, many of them kept their coats on, some shed three and four layers of sweaters and jackets.  

This evening the meal was shredded chicken breast served over rice and with fresh broccoli, carrots, onions and red peppers in a light soy sauce.  Many of the volunteers are regulars and they set about cooking the chicken breasts, steaming the vegetables…things just kept humming along.  

Dinner was served around 5:15 and there is a huge core regular “guests”.  I can’t remember when I last volunteered but it was many months ago and I recognized several of the diners.  As soon as they sat down, they dove into the bread and we poured coffee.  I noted how many only wanted a half a cup – because they fill the rest of the cup with half and half and at least 5 people asked me if I could find real sugar;  They didn’t want the Sweet and Low.   Along with their plate of food which is served to each person, dessert was also served.  Chocolate cheese cakes and mini cupcakes and since Valentine’s Day is coming up, each place setting had a York peppermint heart and a Dove chocolate heart.  

The cold actually kept people away or perhaps they were ensconced in some shelter for the night because we served slightly less than 100 people and had a lot of food left over.  Seconds were offered and the line was long.  Some of the men and women had containers with them and they stashed away bread, butter, food and dessert.  I watched men put bread in their pockets.  The people who come to Holy Trinity on a Saturday night are very appreciative of the meal  and the work that goes into serving them.  Everyone was very polite and said thank you even when you just refilled their coffee cup.  

We made up 12 plates, a basket of bread and desserts for the twelve people who are registered and allowed to spend the night in church basement.  Holy Trinity is such an integral part of the community!  Every Tuesday afternoon, they feed the elderly in the neighborhood a lovely lunch.  All are welcome, no questions are asked and the occasion provides much-needed socialization for some in the neighborhood who don’t get out much and don’t have family watching over them.

I’m so glad I went this evening;  It helps me put my life in perspective.  I went because I made a commitment to myself that this year  I would:  “Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”  Actually that quote from John Wesley was posted by my friend Dave Liston who is very involved with Holy Trinity’s Neighborhood Center programs. I read it and it just got to me.  I’m trying  anyway!

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After a night of howling wind, slashing rain and rattling windows, I woke up this morning to a new world.  The sidewalks of the Upper East Side were covered with leaves, large branches and in some cases whole trees were on the street.  People were out in huge numbers as the result of yet another day with no public transportation and most non-essential businesses closed!  Going out for breakfast in New York on the weekend or in this case a day off is practically a national pastime.  This morning we joined our friend, Gail for a late breakfast/lunch at Gracie’s, a coffee shop across the street.  The line to get in was out the door and to the end of the block!  Luckily Gail had gotten there before us and we were able to go right in and get a table.  I ordered one of my usual breakfast.  I said, “I’ll have scrambled egg whites on a toasted bialy with one slice of turkey bacon”.  The waiter said, “Just white or rye”.  I said, “Ok, I’ll have two poached eggs in a cup and…” at which point he interrupted me and said, “we only have scrambled eggs”.  So I laughed and said perhaps he ought to just write out the order himself!!!  So scrambled eggs, turkey sausage, rye toast and home fries was breakfast du jour.

Walked over to 87th St to watch the trees being fed into an automated garbage truck, not something you see around town.

Once back home an online, the horrors wrought by Sandy the night before began to reveal themselves.  Between fielding phone calls from friends around the country who were checking in on our safety and well-being and trying to access the internet to see what was written on Blogfinger, I watched the news.  Switching from NBC to ABC to CNN I was horrified by what I saw.  Massive destruction of the Jersey Shore!  Subway tunnels flooded and our own Eastside #6 line under water.  The crane still dangling over West 57th St.  My cousin Marian called me and asked if they could stay at our apartment on Wednesday as she is still banned from her building due to the threatening crane.

Extel, Billionaires building, Manhattan, W. 57th sT

How ONE Crane Ate A Neighborhood

Another telling photo, this one from Hoboken, NJ

Hoboken, NJ, fleet of taxis, Hurricane Sandy

The Yellow Submarines

Every borough was severely affected by Sandy. Below is a freak incident brought about by high winds and a stupendous storm surge.

Sandy took a wrong turn on Staten Island

Photo courtesy of (AP Photo/Sean Sweeney)

Late in the afternoon, I was able to go online at a friend’s house and view Blogfinger – THE DAY AFTER: Assessing the Damage

The following photos are from Blogfinger, a great source of community information.  If you read the comments, you will see how many home-owners such as myself rely heavily on the blog to find out what is happening in the town when we’re not there.  The bad news was right there in black and white. No power, more trees down, the board walk a twisted and buckled wreck, a former restaurant ripped open by the sea.

Ocean Grove NJ, boardwalk, Hurricane Sandy

Ocean Grove boardwalk covered in sand, benches strewn around like toys,

Photo by Paul Goldfinger

And then I called Jane at the Lillagaard to find out what damage had been done.  The news was NOT GOOD.  The storm surge broke the entry door to the Tea Room, not only pushing the door open but also bending the door frame.  Can you imagine the forces of nature at play with this ferocious Frankenstorm?  As of tonight the kitchen was still flooded and the Tea Room is closed till further notice 😦

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Duane Reade

Image by SpecialKRB via Flickr

Well that’s a mouthful!  But wait…Duane Reade, New York’s very own born-in-Lower Manhattan, all grown-up-now and all over the City  chain of stores REALLY is a prime example of retail natural selection, evolution and adaptation.

It started out as a three store health  and beauty chain in 1960   and look where they are today. 

Others came and went, they stayed and grew – natural selection. As retail outlets failed and left a consumer void, Duane Reade came along and filled each gap – evolution.  Duane Reade started out as a drug store and has morphed into a consumer’s mecca, carrying everything from greeting cards to gum, cosmetics to candy, cleaning products to cat food,   milk to mops, school supplies to sushi and some even serve alcohol – adaptation.  They are all things to all people. a market place where you can get what you want and what you need when you want it and when you need it.

When Duane Reade located on the corner of my street, a whole new world opened up for me!  OMG!  Here was the answer.  YES!

 Need to buy a birthday card on my way to the office? Duane Reade is right downstairs.  Husband coughing a lot, run down and get some cough medicine-Duane Reade!  Oops, no more cat food-Duane Reade!  Cleaning lady coming and I’m out of floor wax and furniture polish-Duane Reade! Milk for breakfast tomorrow morning-Duane Reade! Open 24 hours!  Granddaughter visiting,  gummy bears and cookies-Duane Reade!

And I could go on and on and on…but really, surely you get the picture!!  Duane Reade is there for me (and you) for just about everything and anything I need at all hours.  And there’s more…

The stores look amazing with their new jazzed-up color scheme, I  love the lavender and they’re always clean and well-lit.  I can’t tell you how many times I come home late after a long hard and sometimes bad day at work and before I go into my apartment building, I stop in the store, sometimes just to walk around.  Looking at the nail polish colors makes me feel good and while I’m there, maybe I should buy some soy chips.

I’m lucky in that I have my own personal Duane Reade right downstairs in my building which means the most convenient ATM in the City is at my fingertips.   Thank you Duane Reade.

And lucky for the rest of you, Duane Reade has about 257 stores in the New York Metropolitan area so you should never be too far from finding what you need when you need it! 

Stay tuned readers, there’s more DR forthcoming…that is as soon as they designate me as one of their ten VIP bloggers!  After all, I tell it the way I see it, share my City with all of my readers and probably would be the ONLY blogger whose name consists of products sold in Duane Reade!!!   #DReade

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Postcard: "St. Patrick's Day Souvenir&quo...

1912 St. Patrick's Day Souvenir

The twelflth reason to celebrate this year is connected to last week’s when I suggested we should celebrate going on a diet  so we could all eat and drink like it was our last meal.  Today’s suggested reason(s) for a celebration are two-fold; Breaking the Diet – we eat and drink like it’s our first meal in a week!  Silly I know, but if you really need a reason to celebrate this is as good as any.   Personally one of my main dieting issues is that I often fantasize about the meal that I’m going to have once I’m off the diet. And that is exactly how you lose 10 pounds and then gain 10 pounds and the yo-yo merry-go-round continues!

Ahhh, but wait this week is a double-barreled opportunity to enjoy yourself;  celebrate with friends, family, and even with strangers as this holiday brings us all  together in the spirit of Erin Go Braugh.

St.Patrick’s Day – Celebration begins around sunrise in Manhattan –  I swear that’s when I hear the first mournful sounds of a bagpipe.  New York City with its 5 boroughs is heavily populated with Irish residents as well as a lot of wannbe Irish (at least for one day a year).  Many of them converge upon Manhattan to march in one of the nation’s most well-attended and colorful parades.   The parade goes on all day and as it ends in the Upper East Side, that particular neighborhood is replete with New York’s Bravest, New York’s Finest, and New York’s Strongest;  bagpipers and marchers – celebrating Erin in a well-lubricated style.

This is the day of the “wearin o’ the green”; Shamrocks and  Sheleighleigh pins, Irish wool cable-knit sweaters, Tam o’ Shanters (originally a Scottish style cap but not when knit in Irish wool),  Tartans, honorary green sashes and the ubiquitous Kiss Me I’m Irish buttons!

It’s a night for partying hard well into the night and of course indulging in a great meal of Irish Stew or Corned Beef and Cabbage, Shepherd’s or Cottage Pie washed down with a pint or two of Guiness or Harp’s

This year I’m not going to be in the City on St. Patrick’s Day and will miss the glorious parade – I LOVE the bagpipes.  But Faith and Begorrah I’m sure I’ll find an Irish bar where I can raise a mug and toast the motherland and eat some corned beef and cabbage.

2010 St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City.

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There’s no question or denying that nine years later, we have NOT forgotten but the raw wounds have healed into white scars.  I’m sure every blogger planned on writing a post about 9-11 and many started with the question; Where were you on 9-11? I know where I was; walking back from the primary polls with  my husband in the Upper East Side when a car stopped to speak to our Assemblyman and shouted out, “Did you hear? A plane hit Grand Central”.  We looked at each other and said, well that’s seems pretty crazy-how could  a plane hit a building that is much lower than the ones  surrounding  it.  When we reached the corner, I got on the bus to go to work and then I heard people talking on their cell phones-it wasn’t GCT, it was WTC!

September 11 2001, WTC, twin towers,
With The Smoke Came the Smell of Destruction

From that point on, I’m sure my story is similar to thousands of New Yorkers who were on their way to work; what to do? how to get there? I was afraid to go into the subway.  The buses were mobbed.  Two other women (strangers) and I shared a taxi to midtown.  My cell phone wouldn’t work.  From my office I called Peter, the horror unfolding.  We couldn’t get internet access to a TV station….I walked home from 55th Street along with thousands of scared, worried New Yorkers.  The Avenues were thronged with people heading north, the smell of smoke was in the air, the fear was palpable.  I had the presence of mind to get some cash out of an ATM machine before that too was impossible and I walked on.  I stopped at pay phone to tell Peter I was on my way.

That afternoon, my friend Helen and I walked to Lenox Hill Hospital to give blood – they didn’t need any;  because blood is ONLY needed for survivors!

That night, my friend Gail, and my cousin Christine stayed at our house, there were TV’s on in every room and like zombies we watched the towers fall over and over and over again, as if perhaps the next time they wouldn’t crumble.

The rest of September was spent in mourning, anxiety and fear.  The only comfort I remember was the sound of the fighter jets as they zoomed around Manhattan for several days after 9-11.  I thought, ‘we are an island, they are protecting us’.  October was worse as the New York Times began to publish a brief bio for each of the thousands of victims.  Each day there was a full-page of death; the Portraits of Grief – I remember crying on the bus on my way to work.  I was so depressed, I thought maybe I needed to go to therapy.

I purchased some photos taken by amateur photographers that horrific day and those that followed as new revelations of the wreckage became known and were recorded for posterity.  I framed the pictures, hung them in my office and gave one to each of the kids because we should never forget!

World Trade center, September 11th attack, New York City, 9-11, Twin Towers
You Can’t Believe What You Are Seeing

Nine years are a very long time and I have not forgotten.  However,  I am at peace with my memories and I keep one special victim in my heart and mind every day; Captain Timothy Stackpole, Division 11, father of 4 children, husband and hero.  He died that day along with hundreds of other  members of New York’s Bravest and New York’s Finest.  With very few exceptions (two weddings), I have worn his name and rank on my wrist for nine years.

September 11th, 9-11, New York's Bravest, WTC
Captain Timothy Stackpole

September 11th 2010: I ‘m working at a Flea Market in New Jersey, the bells toll, we are all silent for several moments while the memories of that sunny day in September flood back into our collective minds.  We have not forgotten.

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