Monday, July 31, 2006

Manhattan Snapshot: Riverside Park

Someday when I sell my apartment somewhere in the realtor's ad will surely be the words "steps from Riverside Park." Now in the language of Manhattan realty that could mean anything from 3 blocks and a subway ride to 3 steps. In my particular case it is less than half a block. I am also lucky enough to have an entrance to the park right at the end of my street. Riverside Park will always have a special meaning to me because my Jack Russell Terrier, Sadie, used to make sure I got there every single day. You'd think it might be the other way around, but believe me, I had little choice in the matter. I was well acquainted with the daily progress of the bulb flowers in spring, the cherry trees, the hydrangea and in the fall watched the gradual turning of the leaves every day. Sadie is gone a year and a half now and I must confess I get to the park maybe once a month. Anyway, today being a beautiful summer day, I got out there with my camera to take a couple snapshots for the blog.

Riverside Park was the brainchild of Robert Moses who is responsible for many of the public works projects in New York City and its environs from the 1920s through the '50s. The park was designed to conceal the Harlem line railroad tracks which run along the west side of Manhattan. An embankment was built over them and a park was planned which included a boat basin at 79th street and the Henry Hudson Parkway. One might think it odd to plan what is essentially a highway right through the middle of a park, but Robert Moses was in love with automobiles and was quite famous for his "parkways." These were beautifully designed roads through park-like settings built at a time when driving was considered a pleasurable leisure time activity rather than a workaday necessity. Moses was often criticized as being classist as these parkways were (and are still) for private passenger cars only, no commercial traffic allowed. This means of course that any poor slob having to take mass transportation was not able to take advantage of these lovely scenic roads.

Labels: ,

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Email from Sicily

An excerpt from an email sent back home my first week on the Seven Seas Voyager:
We're in Sicily today. Or rather, the passengers are in Sicily (Taormina) and I'm on the ship rehearsing and having costume fittings. I managed to reward myself with about a half hour of deck time with my book and my camera. I snapped a few pictures which I'll upload on to the computer later. It's truly beautiful here. There is a breathtaking view of Mt. Aetna which is still snow capped just off the ship and all the hill towns and villages lining the coast.
Below is the first email I sent home to family and friends containing some of the much requested photos of my travels:

Hello all--forgive the mass email. Even though we have internet access on the ship, it's not the fastest so it's easier to send pictures a few at a time to everyone. Below are pictures I took from the deck the first week I was on the ship. Enjoy!

Sicily with Mt. Aetna in the background.

Outside Taormina
Taormina, Sicily
Sorrento, Italy


Friday, July 28, 2006

Golden Ticket

"Travel is only glamorous in retrospect." --Paul Theroux

This blog came about as a result of a trip I took recently. I had the opportunity to work as an entertainer aboard a cruise ship, the Seven Seas Voyager. ( The contract was seven weeks in the Mediterranean and Baltic Seas. While I was away I wrote newsy and informative emails back home to friends and family. People enjoyed them so much that I promised to post them all in a blog when I got home. So here we are. I will be chronicling the trip through various posts over the next few weeks.

But first, getting there was half the battle. Here is an excerpt from an email I sent home:

"So far the hardest thing was the flight here which was delayed leaving JFK partly from the weather and partly due to a "maintenance issue". The flight was overbooked and there was a long standby list, so imagine my surprise when the seat next to me remained empty all through the boarding process. I was seated in the center section of the plane on an aisle seat and the girl on the other aisle seat and I could not believe our great good fortune until the flight attendant came by at 8:20 (20 minuntes after our departure time) and asked if our center seat was empty. I said yes. (Doh!) If only I had thought before I answered that question... So, at 8:30 PM, a full 30 minutes after our departure time, on walks a woman with what appeared to be a toddler of at least 18 to 20 months. GREAT! So down she plops in the center seat with her enormous child on her lap. The child started to fuss and I began to seethe. At this point the captain comes on the PA and announces that we are fifteenth in line for take off. FABULOUS! We finally took off at 9:40 PM.

Meanwhile, Mama sitting next to me decides to nurse baby Huey. (The baby was actually a girl--but you get the idea) So I'm figuring, good, she'll nurse and then the kid will pass out. Right? WRONG! The kid nursed 4 times before dinner,
her head bumping me while she nursed the left boob and her feet kicking me while she nursed the right. Then dinner arrives and the little girl eats half her mom's dinner. Meanwhile, there are no signs of the child getting sleepy and mom has apparently not brought anything to amuse the child which is not surprising for a woman who chooses to fly standby to Rome with an 18 month old. Baby starts to fuss so mom tries to distract her by thumbing through the in-flight magazine. Brilliant. That'll do it--those things are riveting. Finally I suggest that mom walk up and down the aisle with the kid which will hopefully help her to sleep. This works and mom and baby fall asleep after they return to their seat. At this point though, the cabin is stuffy and turbulent and I'm getting claustrophobic.

The turbulence eventually wakes the baby up and mom goes back to nursing two more times. Breakfast arrives and baby eats half of moms meal. And for desert? You guessed it--more boob. All in all the kid nursed 7 times in 7.5 hours and ate half of both her Mom's inflight meals. I think I slept a total of 10 minutes the entire flight. I have to say though that the kid wasn't that bad considering the situation. Mostly it was the lack of room in the seats (Delta SUCKS) that made everything uncomfortable. And she was an angel compared to the 3 year old about 5 rows in front of me who HOWLED the entire flight. Thank God for my Ipod I could tune most of it out. I couldn't tell you what the ride from Rome to Civitavecchia looks like because I passed out the moment I got in the van.

Our ship, the Voyager, is fabulous. Quite elegant if a little contemporary for my taste. They recently went from Being a Raddison Seven Seas ship to Regent Seven Seas because their service has gone from 5 to 6 stars and believe me it shows. This is a pretty swanky establishment, even for the crew. I haven't been off the ship yet due to my rehearsal schedule, but I did get on deck to look at Sorrento from afar. We will "Torna a Sorrento" next week as the old song says and I will be sure to venture off--maybe even into Positano with one of the excursion tours."

Labels: ,

Thursday, July 27, 2006

What's in a name?

So today I joined the world of blogging. Me and millions of others I discovered in my attempt to name this blog. Nearly every name I typed into the blogger search engine was taken. So much for original thought or point of view. I agonized for days over just the right word or phrase. Something that would define me and my point of view. Something that would encompass the many facets of my unique and complicated personality. Something that was sophisticated yet fun. Something that would give me license to blog about a wide range of subjects. I was at a loss. In my depression I lamented to my therapist that perhaps I couldn't think of a name for my blog because I was lost; in the midst of an identity crisis not knowing who I was or where I was going.

It just so happened today that my mother was in the city having her hair done. We met for dinner at EJ's Luncheonette on Amsterdam and 81st after my therapy appointment. I began to tell her of the quandary that has troubled me for well over a week now. I described exactly what I wanted the name of this blog to convey, exactly the write combination of sophistication and wit, something specific yet broad at the same time.

"Manhattan Chowder" she spits out between bites of her salad.


After dinner I ran home and typed it into the search engine and lo and behold, it was a available. So here we are. Post No. 1. Thanks Mom.

Labels: ,