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Fleet's in

It's fleet week in NYC and there are white-clad sailors all over the city. On Thursday, from the cab on the way to the convention at the Javits Center), I saw the USS Iwo Jima coming up the Hudson, looking huge, with sailors lined up-side-by-side along the starboard and bow of the ship. Pretty spectacular.
Quiz: this photo could be from the '40s, World War II-time, except for what item?

One more NYC at night 28 May 2010

NYC at night about an hour ago

Last night, across from hotel

Air was fresh after rain, wispy clouds, nice temperature for being outside…

The Reverend Horton Heat

The Rev is a mean guitar player, a master gunslinger and this 3-piece band sounds like a 5-piece. High energy,kick-out-the-jams, funny, rockin hillbilly/punk/blues and oh yes, rock and roll. I wandered into the Highline Ballroom last night having no idea what the band was like and I had a great time.

Stairwell, red bannister

Pod hotel, hipped-up remodel of Pickwick Arms

Lobby of Pod Hotel in Manhattan. They say: "High style and high tech converge at the Pod Hotel, which offers hip, convenient accommodations for the stylish and spendthrifty traveler. Formerly the Pickwick Arms, the hotel is located in the heart of New York City’s Midtown East neighborhood."
I used to stay at the Pickwick Arms, it was inexpensive and just around the corner from Random House, my distributor for 30 years. The rooms are small.

NYC garbage truck

Caffe Reggio

At the Apple Store on Park Ave.

It's an elegant store and it was mobbed (Monday afternoon). Throngs of people at the iPad tables. This pic is looking up at the bottom of the glass spiral staircase, shadows of people's shoes. The 2nd shadows down from top right are high heels.
I bought a v. cool tiny set of speakers to run off the MacBook and iPad: iHome Model iHM79 Portable Rechargeable Speakers: http://www.ihomeaudio.com/
Right now listening to BB King's Bluesville station on the internet through Sirius satellite radio. Am I tech savvy or what?
These little speakers put out big sound. Unique!

Nice little Vespa in Manhattan

Check the snazzy mirrors.

Wachovia — yeah, sure they do…

Watch over ya, right?

Slugfest at the Stadium

The Mills Brothers and Fats Domino

These were my biggest two musical influences.

Ready to hit Lexington Ave

Getting ready to hit NYC streets yesterday morning. My little Canon PowerShot S-90 is awesome. I carry it in my fanny pack. As opposed to a big camera hanging on my shoulder.

Squid pasta in New York City

Where else could this happen? I headed down E. 51st and turned right on 2nd Ave, looking for an Italian restaurant the hotel doorman recommended. I didn't find it, but spotted Pescatore, at 955 2nd Ave. Went in and had Linguine Nero: pasta stained black with squid ink, and shrimp, calamari, arugula, spicy tomato sauce. Salad, glass of chianti, preceded by little bowl of warm olives in olive oil, crusty whole wheat bread. It was about the best pasta I've ever had. I've been admonished about my frequent superlatives, but this was in the category of foods that transport you. Alchemy. Told waiter to tell chef it was a brilliant dish, pretty soon the chef came out, George Bermeo, and he beamed. Chefs love praise, it's such a hard job, and if they are true artists they appreciate being appreciated. I ended up getting gelato, a glass of sambuca and an espresso on the house. As my friend Rod Lundquist said in 1955 after a great meal with the O'Neill family and their 6 kids, "Life is rich!"

Lake in Central Park

Can you believe this is in the heart of one of the most densely-populated cities on the planet? Yesterday afternoon, at the southern end of the park, on 58th.

PS: Thanks to Rick Gordon, wizard of all things Macintosh, for the new look of this blog.

When she's good, she's very, very…

Lord, just stepping out of the hotel is like going into another dimension. Overdrive, baby. People here are so on-the-ball,  so alert. (This ain't southern California.) There's also a special chemistry when the weather is good. The city has its moods, and right now, good vibes are enhanced by comfortable weather. Once I was here in August on a Monday after a big parade; it was 95, high humidity, and the entire park smelled like piss. I went back to my hotel every hour or two to take a cold shower. Miserable. Locals were cranky. Another time I went for a run in slushy snow (at night) in January (my serious running days). Today, though, was sit-on-the-stoop or at an outdoor cafe weather.
Last night I went to Trattoria della Arte, across the street from Carnegie Hall, and sat at the bar, masterfully tended by Cynthia, whose judgment I invariably trust in what to order and drink. A woman was on the next stool and we started talking. She told Cynthia to bring me a plate and gave me a piece of her thin-crust pizza. She was from Amish country in Pennsylvania, on vacation from her 3 teenagers. The guy on the other side of me hears us talking and he's also from Pennsylvania. A designer of stores and stage sets. The guy next to him has an iPad, and soon the 4 of us are yakkin it up like old friends. There's an intimacy in NYC due to proximity, especially in restaurants, and many times I've had wonderful random encounters like this.
Afterwards walked down to the village and had vanilla ice cream and an espresso at Cafe Riggio (left).
I just got back from a massage with an extraordinary bodyworker. I've, yes, injured my left ankle, right hamstring in running, and needed some unlocking of scar tissue. I looked up "sports massage NYC" online and found Robin Rubenstein (646-337-8634) and as soon as she touched me I knew I was in good hands. I've been to tons of bodybworkers over the years, a necessity from a lifetime of physical activity, and Robin loosened tight muscles and got the chi flowing. Now it's 10 PM and I'm going out into the warm night to find an Italian restaurant.
I think they'll keep me down on the farm, but I sure do like Paree.

Kickin ass and buffed cowboy in Times Square last night

Cross-cultural skateboard connection on sunny afternoon

It was a bright beautiful clear Sunday afternoon yesterday, and I was killing time until going to the airport, riding my skateboard on the streets near Ocean Beach in San Francisco. I was using a Big Kahuna stick, a kind of paddle with rubber stoppers on the bottom so that you propel yourself along, like paddling a canoe. It often amuses people who see this device in operation. I passed a young oriental woman on the sidewalk and she broke into a grin and said, "You have..." and than ran to catch up. She didn't speak much English but she was just delighted with the whole setup. (There aren't actually that many people out in the world who see what's going on around them.) So I got her on the board and had her hold my arm while we went down the sidewalk. She loved it.

I pulled her along and she gradually got her balance and I had her let go of me and she was laughing in glee at her first skateboarding solo. We did this for a while. I taught her how to jump off when she lost her balance, before falling. After a while I retrieved the board and started skating again, and she said, "I run...," and she started running alongside me. We were like two kids playing.

She said she had just recently come from China and was on the way to visit her auntie. I asked how old she was. How old you think?" she asked. I told her I didn't guess ages. She insisted. "22," I said. "24."

She ran along for a while, I mean, really ran, then we parted ways. It was so much fun. Just out of the blue.

Go to the post page…

In the San Francisco airport International Terminal about 7 PM last night

Ooh wah, ooh wah, cool, cool kitty,

Tell us about the boy from New York City
Whoo-eee! Ain't nothin like it. After a restless red-eye flight, no sleep (in fact about 3 hours sleep in 2 nights), got a $20 van ride from JFK in to the hotel, Lexington and E 51st, and voila, the room was ready at 9 AM, so I'm now set up at Shelter Publications East Coast headquarters for the next 7 days.
I got cleaned up, checked email, got B. B. Kings Bluesville station (Sirius satellite radio) playing on my MacBook, and I am stylin…
I took a 30-40-min walk to check out the immediate hood. The people. The people. There are so many more people of substance on the streets than you see in California. They're low on lame-os. A huge black guy, maybe 6'-9," 285 lbs of muscle; an elegantly dressed guy speaking Italian; a 12--year-old girl dressed to the nines, walking down the street with her Dad, talking like a college grad; great-looking women of all persuasions, exotic tattooed punks…
The great depth of cafes and restaurants, the killer traffic, an ambulance went screaming down 3rd, bagel and hot dog stands, a lot of street food, the weather is actually perfect, overcast, maybe 70 with a breeze and a few refreshing raindrops. When she's good, she's very, very…
I'm about to set out for some reconnoitering…Oh boy!

Bruno Atkey's home gym

Take a length of sturdy rope, a sanded-down section of a tree branch, and hang from ceiling hook. You can do lots of stretches and exercises with this simple device. I sometimes do it while watching TV. I also have one in the office. The invention of Bruno Atkey (see pp. 90, Builders of the Pacific Coast).

Huge shade tree in India

Godfrey Stephens wrote: "I took this pic at about 50 mph from a car entering Cochin (Malabar Coast), India, in April 2010. Imported by the Portugese as shade trees way way back."

They call me Big Mama

They call me Big Mama
'Cause I weigh 300 pounds.
I can rock and I can roll,
And I can really go to town.

              -Big Mama Thornton


Seals hauled up on sandbar in lagoon

Sittin' in the morning sun,
I'll be sittin' when morning comes…