Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Launch into Festival Season

“One of the things I learned the hard way was that it doesn’t pay to get discouraged.  Keeping busy and making optimism a way of life can restore your faith in yourself.”
                                                                                                                          Lucille Ball

Fall is gearing up to be fast, furious, and incredibly busy.  I now realize that “being busy” is what I do best.  As that famous Lady, Mom, has always said, “A busy person is a happy person,” which actually does bode true for me, most of the time..

Bernie teaching Geology
Iconic Views Tour
Keeping very busy with my new career/job, spending a lot of time in my Central Park (the kiosks), and always learning is good for me. Taking two different tours in the Park this weekend; one on geology where we learned about the last Ice age;  the Laurentian Ice Sheet’s (Glacier) move down North America; and seeing the striations it formed in the Park’s native Manhattan schist (the prevalent rock that Manhattan is built on) with familiar faces at both tours was a boon to my mind and soul.  The second tour was the Iconic Views of Central Park, which simply continued to reinforce my love of it! 

With my “small” world/six degrees of separation life, I will be working for a dear Friend’s niece at the Food Network’s Wine and Food Festival in mid-October.  That is the festival that kicked off my NYC life last year, and truly launched me into my life as a “Festie” (think “carnie”-carnival worker- but mine involves food, wine, or the arts of some sort; sometimes combining all of the above).  I’ll be spending the weekend on the Rooftop on Pier 92 on the Hudson River (another new constant in my NYC life, Rooftops, which I also love) as the volunteer coordinator (yet another new constant) for the Parties on the Roof: Ronzoni's La Sagra Slices hosted by Bongiovi (as in Jon’s family!); Brand Pasta Sauces & Adam Richman presented by Time Out New York;  Blue Moon Burger Bash presented by Pat LaFrieda Meats hosted by Rachael Ray; CASAMIGOS Tequila presents Tacos & Tequila: A Late Night Fiesta hosted by Bobby Flay; and finally  Meatopia X: The Carnivore’s Ball hosted by Michael Symon.

My diligence, passion, and work ethic is reaping in more rewards for me as I am on the team for the NYC Food Festival at the end of October this year as the Volunteer and Production Coordinator.  Already been hitting the road running for it exploring and getting tours of hotels, etc.

Gorgeous sky above Belvedere Castle

"Pink Floyd" Tribute Band
Using my Theater Extras, a dear Sojourn friend and I traveled “back to high school and college” by going to B.B. King’s to see a Pink Floyd tribute band.  Great fun.  And the food was pretty good as well!  My Library friend won tickets in the virtual lottery for the Public’s Delacorte Theatre in my Central Park for a wonderful presentation of the Fall for Dance Festival featuring New York City BalletHubbard Street Dance Chicago, and Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company!   Preceding it we had a delightful and relaxing picnic by Turtle Pond, under Belvedere Castle.  Meeting a friend in the East Village led to a late night with more music at Anyway Café , a small Russian café, on E 2nd Street.  More perfect NYC evenings.
Delacorte Theatre
Mitch with our10 lb lobster prepared 2 ways for us by Chef Ben!

An amazing long, leisurely dinner hosted by my Boss at Oceana in Midtown allowed me to meet and get to know Family members, co-workers and more associated with Initiate Care and rounded out a great week.  Executive Chef Ben Pollinger prepared an almost limitless supply of fresh seafood prepared in a myriad of ways.  Another thing learned:  I was always under impression that large lobsters were tough and not very tasty.  Untrue. Our 10 lb. Baby was tender and delicious, prepared two ways!  Executive Pastry Chef Colleen Grapes (a friend from the Food Film Festival) absolutely spoiled us with an amazing array of her desserts.  It was one of the most perfect evenings I've had in a long time.
 This wonderful early autumn (technically still summer) week finally ended on another high note with my Philosophy Friend at another street fair for the 92 Street Y, and lupper (late lunch/early dinner) at a great Argentinian restaurant, Liberatador, close by on 2nd Avenue.  Life is good.

Monday, September 8, 2014

End of Summer

"Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day."  —Henri J.M. Nouwen

Why are summers so fleeting?  I have absolutely loved this one, my first “Summer in the City.”  Continuing my explorations, having great experiences, I am blessed and so grateful.

Summit Rock (the highest pint in Central Park)
The Ladies Pavillion
Wanting (and being expected to) continue my learning of Central Park, I take full advantage.  Every time I am there, I learn and love it.  At the first of two tours recently, I learned much about Seneca Village.   From the CPC’s website:  Seneca Village may possibly have been Manhattan's first stable community of African American property owners. Located from 81st to 89th Streets between Seventh and Eighth Avenues in what is now a section of Central Park, the village is important part of the history of New York City…By the 1850s, Seneca Village had also gained many Irish and German immigrant families…In 1853, the state legislature authorized the use of "eminent domain," the taking of private property for public purposes…In total, approximately 1,600 people who owned, lived, or worked on the 843-acre tract of land had to move when the Park was created.”  What is really interesting is that is has never been fully determined where all the Villagers went.  Did you know that “Gotham” meant goat?  Washington Irving has been given the credit for giving NYC one of its most famous, and long-lasting nicknames.  (The nickname has also been attributed to Batman lore, of course.)  The highest natural point in Central Park was part of Seneca Village, now called Summit Rock, and home to goats during the times of Seneca Village. The Art of the Park tour took us from The Dairy to Belvedere Castle exploring the pastoral, formal, and picturesque forms of parkland that Olmstead and Vaux designed for America’s first public park.

CPC Film Festival
The piano scene in "Big"
It’s interesting to me how much of my NYC life involves Films.  It was not planned, and I’m learning more and more, that “planning” doesn’t work in (my) life anyway.  As they say “Life happens.”  It’s what I chose to do with life when it happens makes all the difference I’m realizing.  So on that deep note, I took advantage of Central Park Conservancy’s Film Festival on a couple of perfect summer evenings.  No volunteer help was needed, so I went to simply enjoy.  The first night I went solo, and who couldn’t be happy and smile with Tom Hanks in “Big”?!  It was on my walk home through the Park (surrounded by many, so perfectly safe), surrounded by the tress, the soft summer air, the twinkling of lights shining down from the towers of skyscrapers, that I felt an overwhelming sense of “peace”, of knowing that I am exactly where I am supposed to be, for now at least.  It was wonderful.

Evening #2 was with a dear Sojourn Friend.  We had a lovely picnic supper, watching “The Royal Tenenbaums” which I must be honest and say I didn’t love, thought it bizarre (but I guess that may be the point), but the atmosphere, the cast of the film, and my Friend, kept me there.  Then we went to our social living room, Sojourn for music!

From The Sky Room @ dusk
From The Sky Room @ dark
Rooftop bars and restaurants are huge and such a treat in NYC.  The outdoor space, most offering great views are yet another boon to NYC life.  My good Library friend invited me to a Yelp event at such a rooftop recently.  The Sky Room at the Fairfield Inn & Suites on W 40th Street is comfortable with great munchies (and you can never go wrong with bubbly.)  My friendship with this great Lady always guarantees a pleasant and enjoyable time.  (She prepared and shared a lovely lunch on Labor Day weekend with me where I had the pleasure of finally meeting her Boyfriend.  Hated to leave her great new apartment!)

"My" Boathouse
One of my favorites from the Food Film Festival (actually, Everyone there is a favorite), and I met at yet another favorite, The Boathouse in Central Park for a meeting.  I’m finding that in NYC, People meet at many interesting locations to conduct business. Yet another “dream came true.”  Not really wanting a full-time job, I was thinking I’d love to “freelance”, something I see many are now doing.  Well, it’s starting to happen for me.  Along with my CPR/First Aid teaching (remember I met my Boss at FFF last October!), I am now the Volunteer Coordinator/Production Coordinator for the Food Film Festival (a paid gig!).  Not only to I get to play with some favorites, I am trusted to be on their management team!

Speaking of some favs from the Food Film Festival, one of the hottest young chefs in the city (He was on Conan last week!), Keizo Simamoto’s Ramen Burgers  have been the rage since they premiered at Brooklyn’s Smorgasburg last summer.  Well, the founders of Smorgasburg and Brooklyn Flea have opened yet another brilliant spot, a Brooklyn Beer Hall, and Keizo is one of the four chefs who were invited to be part of Berg’n in the Prospect Heights neighborhood.  I joined many of my FFF friends and thoroughly enjoyed the soft opening.
Keizo and his Ramen Burgers! (from his website)

Our Social Living Room (Sojourn)
Getting my UES Friends out of the neighborhood can be tough.  But one of my Sojourn Friends loves to explore our city with me.  So, on a balmy Saturday night we headed down to the Village to enjoy some live music.  We started at my Marie’s Crisis for Show tunes by the piano.  And, my friend’s recommendation was right next door at Arthur’s Tavern, where we rocked to jazz, rhythm, and blues.  Jumping into a cab to Chinatown we had a great, cheap dinner at Wo Hop.  My friend relived her college years, while I was shot back to memories of “beef and rice” in Boston’s Chinatown from my college years.  Sharing a nightcap at our Sojourn was the perfect end to a perfect evening. 

Jeff Koon's piece at Rock. Center
My need to be a Tour Guide was fulfilled on a very balmy Summer Tuesday recently when a new Friend I made when home in July came down with another Lady.  My new Friends had not really spent much time in NYC, and asked for help.  I delightedly did.  If I say so myself, we saw just about “everything” there is to see in Midtown, managed to have a nice leisurely lunch at Rockefeller Center, and even “bar-hopped” around Central Park (newly re-opened Tavern on the Green and “my” Boathouse.)  I’m assuming, and hoping, they slept the whole bus ride home, as I barely made it home to my bed.  It was a special day with new special friends.

Having joined a new seat filler organization, Theaterextras, I took advantage and saw a great play about Bert Berns, “Piece of my Heart.”  We always know so much about “the songs” and the artists who made them famous by singing them, but we so often know anything about the writers of the songs.  Think: “Cry Baby” and “Piece of my Heart” made famous by Janis Joplin, and “Twist and Shout” of course made famous by the Beatles.  Preceding that wonderful theatre experience I thoroughly enjoyed lovely dinner alfresco (want to do that as much as possible, ‘cause we all know this weather will be changing too soon…) at the Café in Bryant Park.

Yet another NYC bucket list item was checked off recently when Kristi and I went to Yankee Stadium to see the Red Sox beat the Yanks!  I wanted to see the Stadium (and realized that night the only major league stadium I had ever been in was Fenway Park) and see Derek Jeter one more time before he retires.  The icing on the cake?!  Seeing Rich Hill, a Milton “boy” pitch at Yankee Stadium! (The fact that he was wearing pin-stripes was almost besides the point!)

The Frying Pan (from it's website)
Dinner and movies with Friends, dinner at The Frying Pan and an Upright Citizen Brigade show with Rooftop Friends, teaching, working with my new Boss, simply walking, volunteering at a neighborhood Church’s soup kitchen, being and loving my City have rounded out my first Summer in the City.