Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Flippin' Out on Flip Flops

I was reminded this morning by a story on GMA of the country's current fascination with that ultimate beach accessory, the flip flop. The story was not about the appropriateness of when and where to wear such footwear, a subject that someone must address soon, particularly after last month's fashion faux pas when the Women's Lacrosse Team from Northwestern visited the White House and an astonishing number of them trekked through the Rose Garden and had their picture taken with the president while wearing flip flops. The incident caused a bit of a scandal back home in the sensible mid-west where apparently they still understand that flip flops are not appropriate for every situation. I wish the same were true here in fashion-forward New York City.

Don't get me wrong. Personally, I love flip flops--always have. But not the kind with that thing between your toes. That drives me nuts. I wear that sports kind that were popular 5 years ago from Nike or whoever. The sole actually has some support and there is a band of vented plastic or rubber that exposes your toes, but covers most of the front of your foot. Despite my love of flip flops I have always understood when and where it is appropriate to wear them. Let's start with the beach--flip flops are always a safe bet there. A pool, a lake, maybe a taking the dog for a quick walk, around the corner to pick up coffee or a newspaper, and of course the shower at the gym. That's about it for me.

They should not be worn for long walks through the grimy streets of New York or for any lengthy walk at all. They should not be worn on the subway. They should not be worn on escalators. They should not be worn to a wedding unless the couple is being married on the beach. They should not be worn to the theatre, opera, symphony, ballet or church. And they should certainly not be worn with business attire. Ladies, nothing says "I just drove in from my trailer in eastern PA." like a pair of feet, filthy from the ankle down, in flip flops while wearing a business suit. And that steady accompanying beat of rubber slapping against your heels as you schlep your way through the city streets completely defeats the affect of a "power suit."

The story on tv this morning was about the dangerous affects flip flops can have on your feet. I am constantly reminded of this by my sister, a sports medicine physician, who chastises her patients regularly for showing up for their appointments in flip flops. The story was riddled with warnings from doctors and the sob stories from stupid women who had broken ankles or toes from slipping on cottage cheese or banana peels all while wearing flip flops. Apparently flip flops offer no support and the open exposure of the foot can leave one vulnerable to injury. What a shocker. This is news.


Friday, August 17, 2007

Life after Merv

At the risk of making my blog read like an obituary page, you'll notice I didn't give Merv Griffin an "In Memoriam" post. Actually, I only do those posts for people I like. Although I missed Beverly Sills, but that was because I was having computer drama, not because I don't like her. (Don't take it personally, Bubbles.) But as for Merv, I've been mulling over the decision on whether or not I like him.

I am a bit too young to really remember his show as anything but an adult talk show, over my head when it was in its heyday. But what would life be without Jeopardy (a show I still watch daily) not to mention the Jeopardy theme song? And would American pop-culture be quite the same without Pat and Vanna? While these are important (ahem) contributions to Americana, one wonders what the face of our struggle for human rights in the gay community or the treatment of AIDS might have looked like if Merv Griffin, whose gay lifestyle was an unspoken "secret" in both private and public circles, might have used his considerable money and power in those areas. But sadly, he remained silent. Ironically The Merv Griffin Show served as a prototype and its closeted homosexual host, a mentor, to such talk show successes as Rosie O'Donnell and Ellen DeGeneres, two out, proud lesbians.

Apparently, I'm a not alone with my mixed feelings about Merv. Joe.My.God also wrote a post that more succinctly expresses both my views and his on the subject. Click here to read his post.

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In Memoriam: Phil Rizzuto

This week New York mourns the loss of one of its native sons and most iconic figures. The former New York Yankees' shortstop Phil Rizzuto died of pneumonia Wednesday. His voice and trade mark "Holy Cow!" had become synonymous with the Yankees during his long career as the team announcer. He played for the Yankees during the glory days of 1941 to 1956. I remember him mostly for this Money Store commercials in the 1970s. When Yankees owner George Steinbrenner learned of Rizzuto's death, he said "Heaven must have needed a shortstop." Phil Rizzuto was 89.

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Monday, August 13, 2007

In Memoriam: Brook Astor

Today marked the death of New York socialite and philanthropist, Brook Astor. Many of New York's venerable institutions such as the The New York Public Library, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and even the Bronx Zoo owe a debt of gratitude to the generosity of Mrs. Astor. Her contributions came at a time when many had given up on New York as crime soared and the city's coffers were near bankruptcy. She also made sizable donations to The Fresh Air Fund, charities for the blind and maternity care for inner-city women. Her husband, Vincent Astor, once joked that his wife would have a ball giving away his money after his death, and indeed all told Mrs. Astor gave away close to $200 million. She was quoted as saying "Money is like manure--it should be spread around."

Coincidentally, I met a friend of my sister's down in Asbury Park a couple weeks ago who served as Mrs. Astor's butler for a time while she was in her 90's. He had nothing but praise and kind words for her and said she treated every one of the staff with the utmost empathy and respect. Mrs. Astor was 105.

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Sunday, August 12, 2007


Indulge a proud uncle as I post this picture of what I'm sure will be the start of a beautiful friendship. Big sister Charlotte has been doting on little Julia, her real live doll, ever since she came home from the hospital this week, cuddling, kissing and comforting her every chance she gets. Such precious innocence.

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Monday, August 06, 2007

Welcome Julia

Early this morning, at 5:17 to be exact, my sister Diane gave birth to her second born, little Julia, 6 lbs, 10 oz, 19" long, making me an uncle for the fifth time. Julia was delivered in record time making the trip to the hospital from Brooklyn to Manhattan a wild ride for her parents. But both mother and daughter are resting happy and healthy now. Big sister, two-year-old Charlotte, could not have been more thrilled to welcome her new sister “Baby Julliiiaaaaaaaa!”

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The Grom Phenomenon

While I was in Italy I couldn't help but partake in a daily custom there: gelato. It's Italian ice cream, somehow better and creamier than American ice cream and Italians love to enjoy it around 4:00 PM. There are gelato stands everywhere, sometimes big fancy ice cream parlors, other times modest mom and pop groceries, but no matter where you go it's hard to find bad gelato in Italy.

Well, now, I can enjoy real, honest to goodness, Italian gelato in America. The Italian gelato chain, Grom, has opened it's very first American store right in my neighborhood on Broadway between 76th and 77th Streets. Shortly after it opened a couple months ago I noticed lines forming outside the store almost every day. And still, lines for the creamy goodness snake along the block toward 77th street almost every night.

What makes gelato different from American ice cream is that the formula is slightly different. For one thing it's made with milk, not cream, and in the case of Grom, they import all the ingredients from Italy. Whether the dairy is processed differently there or not, I'm not sure, but anyone who has ever had Italian gelato can tell you it's different than our ice cream. Of course all those imported ingredients will cost you--a small cup or cone at Grom starts at around $5.50. But judging from the lines coming from the store, it's worth every penny.

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Asbury Getaway

Ever since I was invited down to Asbury Park for a weekend by a friend three summers ago, I have been one of the town's biggest cheerleaders. (Click on the Jersey Shore link below to see some of my previous posts on the subject.) Once one of the most popular destinations on the Jersey Shore, Asbury Park fell on hard times in the 70s and 80s due to racial tensions and corrupt local government. That is, until the gays found it in the late '90s. Imagine it--grand old Victorian beach houses just blocks from the ocean at rock-bottom prices. Sure, the neighborhood around them was pretty shabby, but nothing a few gay urban pioneers couldn't conquer with some fresh paint, perennials and a flair for design. Fast forward a few years and the town is now in full-scale renovation, homes are being bought and sold, new condominiums are being built and a movement to restore the waterfront to its former grandeur is underway.

This past weekend I was invited by my sister, whom I encouraged to buy a home in Asbury almost three years ago, for Road Trip 6, the town's biggest gay and lesbian event all Summer. There are beach parties, big name DJs and headline entertainers. (We saw Judy Gold at the newly renovated Paramount Theatre--hilarous!) Despite gloomy weather reports, Saturday turned out to be a perfect day for the beach and the rain stayed away long enough on Sunday for my sister's house full of guests to enjoy brunch on the patio.

The community pride in Asbury is such that celebrations are called for almost every weekend. Earlier this summer the town celebrated its 110 anniversary of the incorporation of the city. A grand and memorable party was planned for the occasion featuring among other things, a cake designed by Ace of Cakes' chef Duff Goldman modeled on Asbury Park's storied carousel. The episode featuring the cake and the town's anniversary party will air on the Food Network tomorrow night (August 2) at 10 PM Eastern. I am told that my two-year-old niece, Charlotte, who was visiting that weekend might be seen getting her groove on to one of the bands playing at the festivities. Catch the episode if you can!

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