New York City Blog August 19 – August 25

 

 Hands up everyone who has wanted to take an axe to the computer, smartphone or Kindle. I lost my Kindle on one of the seven planes I took this past July. Never put anything into those plane pockets on the back of the seat in front of you. Well, I did. I have replaced it with a paper white in Japanese, I think – unless it’s Korean. I don’t think it’s Chinese. Since everything is in Japanese, Korean, or Chinese it’s difficult to follow directions. Help! Amazon! Welcome to my Kindle…
  Welcome to my Kindle
The Dickens of Detroit, Elmore Leonard, died this week. Anybody who reads American crime fiction knows what a fine writer he is. Some of his distinctive features are:  snappy dialogue, wit, ordinary but unusual settings, characters below the fashionable radar screen. He was known for being cool and that’s what his writing is. It will be interesting to see if his work weathers well.

This past Thursday a friend and I invested most of our 401Ks in a meal at Locanda Verde. It was worth it. The restaurant is south of Canal. Who goes there? Apparently, buffed, toned and successful people. On Sunday I took this photo in a Brooklyn butcher shop. Isn’t meat glorious?  Aren’t those #10 cans cute? To prove I do have a conscience (I’m thinking of all the cows, pigs, and chickens I’ve eaten) I’m posting a cottage in Portland, OR. that was built with recycled materials including #10 cans.

Meat Glorious Meat

Meat Glorious Meat

#10 Cans
#10 Cans

Recycled Cottage
Recycled Cottage

 

 

NYC Blog August 12 – August 18

I flew back to NYC from Portland,OR. in under six hours, took a taxi and headed from Newark to Manhattan. After being away, isn’t it a thrill to see the jagged skyline? The old beauties were there: the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building; the newer, less lovely Citigroup Center and MetLife Building and the newest, Bloomberg Tower and New York Times Building. What a hodgepodge! Gotham City, Big Apple, Megalopolis: home.

The latitudes of Rome and of NYC are about 40 degrees north. Having lived in both cities, I concur with the Italian saying, autumn begins in August. NYC harkens back to pre-WWII images of women in dresses, hats and gloves and men in suits and fedoras, all because of the slanting light I associate with 30’s movies and NYC in August. And jazz.

 

On Tuesday, a friend and I attended the Baha’i Center at 53 East 11th Street, dedicated to Dizzy Gillespie who became a Baha’i in 1968 soon after Martin Luther King’s death. It is a small auditorium that sponsors, on a shoestring, wonderful Jazz Tuesdays. Mike Longo, the jazz pianist and composer who played with Gillespie, and the tireless Dorothy Longo, run it. For more about Jazz Tuesdays visit the website: www.jazzbeat.com.

 That evening we heard The Makanda Project, a Boston jazz group. 14 – Fourteen members -14 on that tiny stage. The place burst with the compositions of the late Makanda Ken McIntyre.  Some members of the audience, knowing the players, cheered them on.

Jazz Tuesday: The Makanda Project

Jazz Tuesday: The Makanda Project

Autumn light, looking toward the West Side.

Autumn light, looking toward the West Side.

What a way to come back to NYC : supper in a nearby Italian restaurant,  a jazz session and then a stroll home in the balmy evening.

 

Out of New York City Monday, Aug. 5 – Sunday, Aug. 11

Portland, Oregon could be in the land of  OZ.  On a wallIMG_0287IMG_0289IMG_0273in Fred Meyer Supermarket these words are quoted from the London Times:  Portland is a bracing mixture, vital without being precious, laid-back without being starry-eyed. More than that, Portland is funky, not in a self-conscious way but as a reflection of how the locals choose to live.
Remember the wonderful Oz characters: Jack Pumpkinhead,  a jack-o’lantern, and his live Sawhorse, Tick-Tock, the Nome King and of course the Cowardly Lion, Tin Woodman and the Scarecrow, Dorothy, Toto, the Wizard and Ozma of Oz? They’re unique and sometimes weird but always appealing. Their modern day counterparts live in Portland. Here’s a photo of Toto who’s known as Indie in Portland. She’s going on a bike ride with Ozma of Oz.
Benson Bubblers and Roundabouts are unique Portland features.

 

Out of New York City Monday, July 29 – Sunday, August 4

On Monday I arrived in Portland, went to the Warren; that’s what my landlady calls her charming basement apartment. It has three windows looking out onto the hedges and garden. I feel as if I’m in an Impressionist painting. Unlike Santa Fe, bikers wear helmets. I also noticed people reading books. Remember those? Dear friends took me to one of their favorite haunts, Jimmy Mak’s, to hear the Dan Balmer trio. While Balmer made hay with the guitar, I tucked into a divine chorizo and beef hamburger, carefully avoiding the n. g. designation. If Santa Fe represents opera for me, in Portland it’s jazz and folk. Next day we went to Jantzen Beach to visit a floating house. Unlike a houseboat, a floating house is moored to its site.

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That evening we went to a leafy Dawson Park picnic to hear the singers, Lorranda Steele and Linda Hornbuckle. Ever use a salt block? Me either, but after Powell’s City of Books hosted a cook talking about the magic of salt, I’m sorely tempted. The next day we had a wonderful party at my friends’ enchanting house which they bought when north-west Portland had not been developed.  On my daily walk to the Portman pool I saw a sweet and sad message that I photographed. “Whoever stole my skateboard you suck that was my bday present”.

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IMG_0257 Our latest adventure was to Mount Hood.

IMG_0255We went to Timberline, the WPA lodge built in 1937. It’s a timber framed structure that reminds you of the glories of native woods, stone and murals. As a kid I Ioved the Oz books. With its quirky charm and singular pleasure in its own identity,  Portland could be a town in Oz.