Saturday, January 31, 2009


Mary just watched the movie "Manhattan" for, oh, about the 500th time. The first time she saw it was in the theater, when she was in high school. She went back and saw it a second time and has been in love with the movie ever since.

If you are one of the few people on the planet who hasn't seen it, you must. It's such a beautiful depiction of the city itself; Woody Allen's love for Manhattan shows in every frame.

There are times when the city feels pretty gritty and not so beautiful (for Mary, it has had that quality lately), and it helps to take a step back from it and see it through an artist's lens. For example, last night Mary went to a movie with her friend Pierre at the AMC Empire, on 42nd Street. While not exactly "gritty," that area of the city is really tough to take: overwhelming and flashy and artificial. It's always a shame when someone visiting the city spends so much time in that part of town, because it's just not what New York really is.

Then you watch a film like "Manhattan" and you see the magnificent skyline, the lights, the parks, the streets with their interesting storefronts ... the place hasn't changed much since the movie was released in 1977. And then you can step outside and look, really look, at what's around you with a new appreciation for it.

So today when she takes a trip downtown to see Rachel, Mary will bring her camera and catch a few shots of the real Manhattan. Stay tuned for this "artist's" point of view on the city this weekend.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Arianna Huffington, Nora Ephron, Gwen Ifill ...

Over the past few days, we have attended two events at the 92nd Street Y. Now, if you clicked on the link, you'll notice that this is no ordinary Y. This place has amazing events all year long: guest speakers, for example, on any and every topic you can imagine.

Last week, we attended a panel discussion led by Arianna Huffington, who brought along several of her most popular bloggers, including Nora Ephron, Erica Jong, Craig (of craigslist) and others. It was an interesting discussion of current events, and Mary even asked a question of Arianna: what did she think of the future of traditional media? Her answer wasn't surprising, which was that traditional media will survive ... but only if they have a significant online presence. Overall, it was a fun evening, rather light in tone--Nora Ephron had a few zingers.

Last night, however, was really great: Gwen Ifill was interviewed by (her best friend!) Michelle Norris, of NPR. We have admired Gwen Ifill for a long time, and it was wonderful to see her in person and hear her perspectives on current events and the future of minority politicians, specifically those she wrote about in her new book, The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama.

Anyway, she has a funny sense of humor and responded wonderfully to many questions--had some pithy, but non-critical, comments about the debate she moderated between Biden and Palin! You may recall she had a broken ankle at the time. Her favorite moment occurred before the debate, she said, when Sarah Palin's father came up to her and said, "I hear you've got a bum hoof!"

It's exciting to be in NYC and have access to events like this (tickets are relatively cheap, too). We intend to see more at the 92nd Street Y!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Obama and the Steelers!

It's almost too good to be true. Obama's in the White House and my Pittsburgh Steelers are in the Super Bowl. Granted, the first one actually matters to each of us, the entire country and perhaps every other living thing on the planet.

Just so we don't get too caught up in Obamamania that we harbor unrealistic expectations of what he can do with the colossal mess Bush has left us with, let's not forget that the new president is a real human being. The photo above of Obama's early cycling days is proof, eh, and worth a grin

I found this on Copenhagen Cycle Chic, a very cool Web site dedicated to "Streetstyle and bike advocacy from the world's bike capital." The Steelers photo is from ESPN's story, Are the Steelers the greatest franchise?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Busy week!

The blog got put by the wayside this week. Aside from being a busy workweek, Rachel was still at home and very sick, so no time for blogging! Fortunately, she is doing better now and will be able to move into her dorm this weekend, since school starts Tuesday.

It has been bitterly cold in NYC this week, and of course, there was the crash of the airplane into the Hudson River. Thank God everyone survived! Great photo here by the AP. Click on the photo to read the latest story.

Friday, January 9, 2009


This morning, when Mary was about to board the subway (which makes its final stop at 242nd Street, where she boards), the first 4 cars each had 2 homeless men sleeping in them. She went to the 5th car and found "only" one sleeping there.

Yes, we routinely see homeless people on the subway, and we did last winter, too. But not this many, this often.

Last week, Mary saw a man on the subway without shoes, when it was probably 20 degrees outside. If her feet had been the same size as his ...

One of Mary's co-workers said that Penn Station has really started having a problem with homeless people, and the police have had to crack down. More and more of them beg for food as opposed to money, as well.

Our theory is that the shelters are becoming more crowded because of the economic disaster, forcing the "career homeless" into public view. Here's a lede from a NY Times article from October 2008: "More families entered New York City’s homeless shelter system in September than in any other month since data has been collected." The article says that in Sept. 2008, nearly 1500 families entered shelters in NYC: a record since they started keeping track 25 years ago.

The city feels as if it's walking a tightrope right now, teetering on the brink of falling back into the destitution of recent decades. If that happens, frankly I hope all three of us are able to move somewhere else.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

A good start to the new year

Rachel gave us a wonderful gift for Christmas: lunch at L'Ecole, the restaurant of the French Culinary Institute in NY. The meals are prepared by the student chefs and served in a lovely setting in the SoHo area of downtown.

Here are some photos of the food, just to make your mouth water. Jeff started with smoked salmon, Mary with a squash terrine. Main course: Jeff, a beautifully prepared pork chop, while Mary chose the monkfish with lentil side dish. Dessert was a chocolate souffle with vanilla sauce and a creme brulee made with pistachios and chocolate. Highly recommended, especially for the price. It truly was a gourmet meal.

In the evening, we had a lovely dinner at Pisticci with Rachel's dear friend Katelyn and her mom, Carla.,who had been in NYC all week. Rachel and Katelyn have been friends since they were 5! (Carla's mother also made the trip but unfortunately was a bit tired and couldn't join us for dinner.) Katelyn now attends UCSB and wants to spend her life working with animals. Carla lives in SLO and works for a company that runs 42 blood banks throughout the country. It was so wonderful to see them.
Happy New Year, everyone!