A comic on the subway wall

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I took this photo on the NY subway on Saturday. Do you see what I see? No. Not the girl, not the filthy walls outside the window, either. I’m talking about the comic strip on the wall. It’s an ad, but still, it’s a comic.

For years I’ve had this idea of a comic panel, or possibly strip, on this square box ad space on the subways. I always imagined my own comic, Tomversation, in that space. It would be changed out a couple of times a week, maybe weekly, I don’t know how convenient or inconvenient it would be to change the image regularly.

I also had an idea about Amazon. What if there was a daily comic strip panel on their homepage? It would give people a reason to visit the site daily.  I love Amazon and I shop there all the time, but I haven’t been on the site in weeks (yes, even with their Amazon Prime Days). I can picture it now, a daily Tomversation comic panel, right at the top of the Amazon home page. I wonder how I could pitch this to Jeff Bezos. Hmmm.

Revisiting the NY Times

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See this Starbucks coffee and NY Times? What’s interesting is that this Starbucks is in the lobby of a building on Park Row, right next to the original NY Times which was in the building starting in 1889.

Park Row, across from City Hall, is where many NY newspapers were in the 1800s – The Times, The Sun, The Tribune, The Herald. Most buildings are gone now.

The newspapers eventually moved uptown. The Times to Times Square, The Herald to Herald Square and The Sun just a block away, into the old A.T. Stewart Dry Goods Store which moved there in 1846. The Sun took the building over in 1917.

The clocks are still on the corners of the building. It’s hard to read it all but they say, “The Sun. It shines for all.”

 

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The Times building is the light color building on the left.

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The entrance to The Sun building, still there at 280 Broadway (the building, not the newspaper).

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The Sun building today.

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Newsboys. 100 years ago.

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“The Sun. It shines for all.” These clocks are still on each corner of the building today.

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Joseph Pulitzer’s World building, The Sun (the small building), The Tribune and the Times.

Manhattanhenge

So tonight was Manhattenhenge in NYC. Over the years I would just notice it as I walked down the street or stepped outside a bar or something, there wasn’t really a fuss over it. But now, it’s all over the news, they tell you what streets to go to and the best places to see it so tonight, I found myself among hundreds, if not 1000 people on the corner of 34th Street and Park Avenue.

The best part was the people. We would get into the street when the light turned red and look for it, counting the minutes down and when the light changed green, we ran back to the sidewalks, so that traffic could pass. And then repeat that same thing every time the light changed.

As the sun began to take it’s place in the center of the street, between the buildings, everyone just ran into the middle of the street and no car could get by, it was a standstill. Cars beeped their horns, but what were they going to do, run over 1000 people?

Soon a cop showed up in a little car, I thought that was the end of that. But you know what he did? He stopped the traffic. He just stopped all vehicled where they were, it just stopped in all directions and people took over the intersetion and we took our fill of pictures!

So here’s what I got on my iphone – Manhattanhenge July 2019.

Enjoyed the play, ‘Ink’

inkWe went to see “Ink” over the weekend at the Samuel J. Friedman theater in NYC.

It was closing, night, but hopefully it will come back. Ink is about The Sun, the British newspaper and the play stars Bertie Carvel and Johnny Lee Miller. Bertie plays Rupert Murdoch, who purchased The Sun in 1969 and changed the whole format of news and newspapers with Johnny playing Larry Lamb, the editor.

I really enjoyed it. There is a bit of musical in it and I enjoyed the part where the whole newspaper-making process is described and shown on stage.

Stalking the Summer House

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I see Carl and Kyle and that looks like Amanda next to Kyle and Paige next to her.

Every year when I’m in The Hamptons I look for the filming of Summer House, a tv show I watch. When I watch the show they seem to always be at bars and restaurants we go to so I’m always checking around for them. I left The Hamptons today & there they are at a restaurant some of my cousins are at tonight.

My cousin Matt took this picture at the restaurant. So I may go back and stalk then next week. But since I’m in the city, guess I’ll go stalk the Real Housewives for the time being. Ramotional.

Naked and afraid

iphoneNaked and afraid, that’s how I felt when I lost my cell phone. I didn’t actually lose it, I left it in my cousin’s car. The problem is I didn’t have her contact info. No one has a home phone anymore and I didn’t have her address or cell phone number.

This past holiday, we all went to another cousin’s house in The Hamptons for a few days for July 4th. A few of us drove back to the city after a couple of days. One cousin dropped me off at the train station to take the number 7 train back to Grand Central Terminal. As soon as I got out of the car, I realized I had left my phone on the seat, but I turned around and they were gone, already heading home. I panicked.

I started to think, how will I reach anyone? I do remember my aunt and uncle’s home phone number, but they were in the Hamptons, not at their house. Luckily I found a pay phone that worked and I called information, but nothing came up, they could not find anyone’s numbers. So there’s a lesson, keep a couple of contact numbers in writing somewhere where you can access them easily. Or memorize them – like the old days!

As I rode the subway back to the city, I thought of calling my father back in Miami and having him contact one of my relatives and then have them call me at the hotel, but then it dawned on me that I could contact my cousins through Facebook messenger. And that’s what I did. So for all the problems with Facebook these days, that was a life saver.

I arranged to meet one of my cousins tomorrow at his office and I’ll get my phone.

I know it seems like a first world problem, but everything is in that phone. I need it for work, my office number rings through to that and also I need it for Uber, for Apple Pay, for Google Maps, for living! Cell phones, Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft – they control our lives these days. I did write this blog post on my computer back at the hotel, but still, I needed my phone.

I wanted to Uber to my cousins’ house to get the phone last night, but how could I get Uber when I was stranded in a street in Queens? They dropped me off in a neighborhood I was not really familiar with because the usual place was too hard to get to due to the fireworks and all the people. Normally, they would drive me into the city, but again, due to the crowds it was not a good idea to drive in last night.

Think for a moment, if you did not have access to your cell phone today and you were dropped off somewhere that you were not familiar with, where it’s impossible to get a working pay phone, where you can’t just ask a stranger to use their cell phone. But even if you had access to a borrowed phone or a  pay phone, how would you call someone when all their contact info was lost? Other than your parents, whose number do you have memorized? I bet you don’t know your own brothers’s phone number by memory.

You could possibly sign into an email account through someone else’s cell phone, and contact people that way, or through Facebook messenger, which is what I did on my computer when I got back to the hotel. But life is quite difficult without our own cell phones these days. It’s something to think about. Where would I get people’s contact info, a working pay phone, a paper map, a GPS if needed or even access to Uber, without my cell phone if I am just lost (and afraid) in a strange area, on a strange street?

Even waving down a cab last night would get me nowhere since I don’t know any of my relatives and friends addresses even though I’ve been to their houses 100 times. I do know my aunt and uncle’s house phone number (not their cell phone numbers) and street address because they have had that house phone number and lived in that house for so many years, but they were in the Hamptons, not at their house in Queens so that info did me no good. I needed the contact info of people who were nearby and in town and that I didn’t have.

One more thing – the NY subway system is transitioning to a system where you would use your cell phone to access the subway. They will do away with Metrocards totally in a few years, so without my cell phone, I could not get through the turnstiles and get onto a train.

But anyway, all’s well that ends well. I’ll be back part of the world by noon today once I go to a cousin’s office to pick up my life, I mean my phone.

Oh, and the ironic part is that if I had just gotten on the train last night, came back to my hotel and went to bed, it would be like it was 20 years ago. The whole thing about not having the phone and trying to locate people to get my phone back was all entwined in the phone. In other words, what if I didn’t have a phone. What if I didn’t leave it in the car, what if I just came back to the city and went to bed and woke up today and went on with my life. Without a phone?  I mean if I just lived my life without the phone, and didn’t let it control me. then I wouldn’t have been in such a panic last night.

Beach life

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At the Bay side on Key Biscayne

Went to the beach today. According to my car, it was 105 degrees! You know for about 25 years, I went to the beach almost daily. When I was growing up, it never got past the mid 80s. Never.

I stopped by Key Biscayne today, which is/was one of my usual spots, along with Miami Beach. Usually I would go alone on weekdays and with my friends on weekends. Sometimes for an hour, sometimes for eight hours. Sometimes I would meet my friends and we would walk or run on the boardwalk on South Beach and then go drinking at Mac’s Club Deuce or places like that. Other times I would go to Crandon on Key Biscayne alone; sometimes Matheson Hammock. I have an alligator story about Matheson hammock that I’ll tell you some time.

There was a period where I would go to Key Biscayne alone and I made myself stay on the beach until I came up with two or three comic strip ideas, then I could go home.

I would stay until it got dark many times, then come home, shower, change and go to happy hour with my friends. Most of my life I lived as if I was on vacation or retired. I didn’t work many hours in a day, most days I worked an hour or two in the morning and was free the rest of the day. So many days I was done with work by 10 am. I want to go back to living like that again. Sometimes, when I stopped going daily, I would still go for maybe an hour once in awhile. I would grab lunch somewhere and sit at at picnic table at the shore and have lunch.

I now live near the beach, it’s a quick drive. Back then I had to drive sometimes long distances, but I would make that trek daily. Summer and winter. All times of the year.

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There was a period where I would go to 16th and Collins, right on the beach in front of the St. Moritz Hotel, the Loews Hotel is part of The St. Mortiz now and 16th Street is closed and part of the Loews property. The Loews wasn’t built then and 16th Street was open, so you could park there. It was so derelict that you would put money in any one of the parking meters and it would fall out at the bottom. It was just a regular street like the South Beach side streets are today. A street that ended at the edge of the sand/beach, on either side there were parking spaces and meter. Broken meters. My car got broken into there one time. It usually was only me at that beach and a few older people from the Charles Hotel which was nearby.

This old postcard above is how I remember the St. Moritz from the back, the beach side. It was desolate at the time, closed in the mid-80s. I don’t remember the pool, but I guess it was empty and covered. For some reason I just remember the hotel. I guess it was so far back from the shore that that is all I would see, the tall hotel. If you look at this second photo below, that is the same color blue I would see. This smaller image is from the front. I would park my car to the left of the front, which was 16th Street. Today it is closed and part of the Loews Hotel.

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My best friend Franco talked about buying the St. Moritz. It was just a dream of his. When I would lay at the beach at the shore but facing up at that hotel, I would notice that the two top windows had tinfoil on them, so I would imagine laying on the beach, looking up and seeing the tinfoil sparkle in the sun. That was Franco opening and closing the jalousies so that he could get my attention – sort of like a Bat signal, we didn’t have cell phones back then. That was my cue to come in from the beach to work my shift at the front desk. This of course all in my head, Franco never bought the hotel and I would just imagine it as I lay on the sand. If you look at the larger photo above, the one on the postcard, you can see the two top center windows I was speaking about.

One time as I was leaving the beach, I was in my car, and a traffic cop came up to me and said, “Do you want to be in a movie? If you do, drive naturally when the light changes.” They were filming the opening credits on Collins Avenue to the movie, “Making Mr. Right.” The movie came out in 1987, so this may have been one of my hey day years, 1986.

There really was no traffic in South Beach, which I don’t think was even called South Beach at that time, so they could just film a movie without really disturbing anything. It was the same with Miami Vice at the time. They would just shoot the show right there, mere feet from you. Even car chases on Ocean Drive were just a few feet away, I’m not sure how they got away with it.

One time they were filming at the Hare Krishna hotel, just off the boardwalk. I walked over with my friend jak and we were watching. I was leaning on a director’s chair watching, and my friend jak says, to me, “Isn’t that Karen Black?” I asked, “Where?” He said, “You’re leaning on her chair!” And it was Karen Black. It was that small of a town and homespun at that time period. Whenever I see the rerun of that episode I think of the Karen Black incident. It was an episode called, “Victims of Circumstance.”

If you look at the opening credits of Making Mr. Right you’ll see that car scene, that very day I was asked to be part of the traffic in the opening. I didn’t make the cut, but you can see that moment in time. The whole movie takes place during that period, so I like to watch it sometimes just for that. Speaking of credits, on the Miami Vice shot, it was the closing credits they were filming that time. At the very end, the Hare Krishnas come out from behind a wall as Crockett and Tubbs walk by them. When the last image is shown on tv, they literally froze the scene at the moment the Krishnas were coming out from behind the wall. The directors/producers whomever, screwed them out of their moment in the sun!

Crandon and Key Biscayne, was another world. It was like being on a tropical island. It was never busy during weekdays and the water was gin clear. There was hundreds, possibly thousands of palm trees. Key Biscayne or parts of it were a coconut plantation around the turn of the century, so it was paradise. I used to break open coconuts and rub the coconut milk on my body. Sometimes when I’m watching the tv shows Survivor or Naked and Afraid, it reminds me so much of that time and period.

South Beach, which wasn’t South Beach yet, was run down and old, just the way I loved it. We all knew each other before all the New Yorkers and party people came and overtook it in the 90s. Back in the 80s it was a small village, rundown and all ours, no tourists or wanna bes.

I was at a party once at the Versace mansion only it was not a mansion, it was a rundown apartment building. It was long before Gianni Versaci, there was an open courtyard surrounded by apartments where people lived. As you entered, there was a wrought iron spiral staircase where the big wooden door is now. There were no gates and no big door at the entrance, you would just enter the courtyard and go to the apartment you lived in.

I can go on and on, we had the run of Miami Beach, we were all over the place, we went to every dive bar on every side street, we hung out at the beach, Flamingo Park and everywhere in between. Lincoln Road was desolate then. You wouldn’t go there after dark, but during the day we hung out there. So many memories, I’m not sure why they are all flooding back now, but I’ll tell you more next time.

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