New York City Blog Dec. 20 – Dec. 26

window catChristmas was wonderful and bizarre. A dear friend who has given Christmas dinner for years had to fly to the west coast. She kindly and generously put one of the other members of our gang in charge of hosting the dinner. He did a fine job. It was such a special dinner that one of the cats clung to a door frame gazing at the goodies out of his reach.



Earlier in the week, I got out of a taxi on west 46 Street and thought I’d arrived at a terrorist invasion. Not at all. The terrorists were merely tourists who had decided to dine at Becco which is part of the Lidia Matticchio Bastianich restaurant empire. People overflowed the always crowded sidewalk. Inside, Becco reminded me of the C Train at rush hour. I found my pal tucked in a corner under bottles of preserved foods that looked like illustrations from Gray’s Anatomy. The food was fine and the $29 bottle of wine was great. Eating at Becco’s is like eating in a mall.
We got to Ruby Rims & Friends do the Can Can just in time. The performances were to benefit Rauschenbusch Food Pantry and Judson Memorial Church. John McMahon directs this holiday extravaganza featuring lots of performers from the Broadway and Cabaret world.

On Christmas eve we went to Pesce and Pasta on Bleecker. Complete chaos. Just as you’ve resorted to pray for a table, the chaos clears, and you – yes, you – are given a table. It’s a taste of Italy and I hope you survive.
My friend polished off his cheesecake in record time and we scooted around the corner to IMC. The IMC movie house (né the Waverly) features left wing documentaries and dramas. Even its feature films, such as 45 Years, star old lefties. Tom Courtney and Charlotte Rampling plod gently through a mini drama about his long ago lover.

New York City Blog Dec. 14 – Dec. 19

Al Carmines’s oratorio, Christmas Rappings, was first presented at Judson Memorial Church in 1969. It’s part of Judson’’s DNA, as Rev. Micah Bucey said yesterday at the second of two presentations in Judson’s Meeting Room. There’s nothing like homegrown masterpieces. Russell Treyz directed the 64 (?) member chorus and narrators. Treyz and the ensemble captured it all: the magic and simplicity of the nativity, the music’s bittersweet tone wrapped in the angst and excitement of the 1960’s. There have been many productions of Christmas Rappings. Each successive one carries the memories and voices of the past. As I write this, I’m listening to a YouTube presentation from the original production.

After the performance, a friend and I celebrated a Christmas tradition: We go to Minetta Tavern, sit at the same table, reserved and begged for weeks in advance, and dive into their divine Old Tom Collins and Bone Marrow. Having an ambulance on call is extra.

I attended a forum organized by the Gotham Greens local of the Green Party of New York County, Movement Building – Bernie Sanders and/or the Green Party, held in the LGBT building on Thirteenth Street. It was heartening to be with a group of about sixty people who are adamant about supporting third parties and changing our political system. Eight participants spoke for five minutes. John Baldwin, a long time Green member, spoke cogently about Sanders being a liberal Democrat who will throw his votes to Clinton. Baldwin supports Jill Klein, the Green Party candidate. Other speakers such as Alan Arrives, a member of Socialist Alternative, supports Sanders. After the panelists spoke, there was a Q & A session. Not a whisper of that sad old remark about Ralph Nader botching an election.
Here’s a recent Michael Moore statement:
“Fortunately, Donald, you and your supporters no longer look like what America actually is today. We are not a country of angry white guys. Here’s a statistic that is going to make your hair spin: Eighty-one percent of the electorate who will pick the president next year are either female, people of color, or young people between the ages of 18 and 35.”

Politically, I agree with Michael Moore, but his manner irks me as much as the Donald’s does. Remember Steve Martin’s quib about Michael Moore? Martin made it when he was the Academy Awards host. Moore had won an award for one of his documentaries. Being Moore, he made a business out of it. He insisted that the other nominees accompany him to the stage. Finally he got off the stage, after a great deal of showing off. Martin said, “You know those teamsters are good guys. I just saw them helping Michael Moore into the trunk of his car.”

New York City Blog Dec. 6 – Dec. 12

For the holiday season a friend organizes a dim sum lunch at Jing Fong Restaurant on Elizabeth Street. It’s vast. You ascend to the restaurant by escalators that are at least two stories high. You then enter the dining area that’s at least two football fields long. In a cheerful cacophony, servers bustle around the tables offering bits and pieces of Chinese cuisine.


A Jing Fong Server
A Jing Fong Server

After lunch, some us braved a walk over the Brooklyn Bridge. It was packed with natives and tourists taking selfies of themselves and their large families. Bikers steered their way through the milling crowds. Once on the Brooklyn side, we went down a series of stairs to DUMBO, an acronym for Down Under Manhattan Brooklyn Overpass. I think it was Nancy Mitford who described Venetian tourists as being like ants. They walk in a line. Get away from the line and there are fewer people. This is true of DUMBO. Underneath the Manhattan Bridge there’s a glimpse of old Brooklyn: brick warehouses and cobbled streets. It’s like a movie set and probably is one.