The 4th of July

I spent the 4th of July in the city, NYC, we usually spend it family-style, which we did, but we did that on July 3, which was unfortunate, because it rained all day on July 3, but the 4th was perfect. It was 75 and sunny all day.

Every year, for some reason, we do the 4th on the 3rd or 2nd or something like that. So a bunch of us drove out to my cousins’ house (n the rain) in The Hamptons on Saturday, July 3rd, but about 20 of us ended up just hanging out inside the house. I usually sleep over and spend the weekend but some of us drove back to the city that night and then enjoyed the beautiful July 4th in the city.

As is the case often, a couple of us headed to Coney Island, we were late for the Hot Dog Eating Contest, but it was still very fun and enjoyable. From there we stopped at Prospect Park in Brooklyn and then Washington Square Park in Manhattan.

Everywhere was packed, there was lots of music and lots of happy people. People have been longing to get out for so long. In New York, street musicians, or I should say park musicians are a big part of life. It was so great hearing them and then hearing loud applause, which never happens, but everyone is so happy this year.

Back home in Miami, they are facing a Tropical storm, but I think it is bypassing my area. So I’m not that concerned.

July 4th ended with a hug fireworks show in the East River and New Jersey had one in the Hudson River, so the city was surrounded with it.

One things that bugs me is that people in NY say, “Have a happy holiday!” Rather than “Happy July 4th!” Since when is the country’s birthday a politically correct thing? I gave money to a guy on the street and he said, “Thank you, happy holiday.”

Anyway, it ended up being a perfect day, after a soggy time the day before.

Now – the fireworks – the best part. Not so much the fireworks themselves, although, they are fantastic, but it’s the ritual before and after that I love.

About a half hour, maybe 45 minutes before the fireworks, people start showing up at the rivers. They walk to the east and west sides as close to the water as possible – that is where the fireworks are. Soon there are tens of thousands of people, all over the place. The streets are closed, there are cops all over and it’s a big party.

I ended up at the UN area this year. Other years I’ve been in other areas. I was right across from the big red Pepsi sign on the Manhattan side from Long Island City.

And then the fireworks start. But wait. When it’s done – all these thousands of people have to leave. And therein lies the fun. Thousands of people start walking up the streets, in an orderly fashion. Thousands of people! They are walking sort of like zombies – determined, yet slowly.

As they reach the Avenues, cars are trying to drive, but they can’t. :People just keep walking. And there are bicycles, mopeds, scooter and rickshaws in the crowd. Thousands of these people moving methodically across the city. It takes a long time, maybe an hour for this to end. And it’s something to see. It’s unreal to see. It’s so calm and methodical and everyone is in a cheerful mood., It’s a great thing to partake in, if you ever get the chance.

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New York Summer

Manhattanhenge

I’ve been in New York. Did a lot so far in a week. The worst part was the flight. From the time I left my house until I got to the door here in NY, it took 10 hours. The flight was delayed and then we didn’t have a pilot! We literally sat on the plane for an hour waiting for him to arrive!

But I’m here and all is well.

Hamptons eats


Been to The Hamptons with my family and friends, we were at an outdoor bar listening to one of my cousins perform., He’s an entertainer and he was doing his thing out at the waterfront. It was a perfect day.

Did a bunch of other things – ate at one of our favorite Italian restaurants in Brooklyn. Did Hoboken and saw Manhattanhenge.

Little Island

On Wednesday, a friend and I did the Little Island. It was beautiful and a lot of fun, but the temperature was 96 degrees with a heat index of 105 degrees. Oppressive! I even passed up Mr. Softee – I was too nauseous to eat.

A perfect egg cream



Thursday a friend and I did the MET Museum. It rained all day, so that was a good indoor thing to do.

Been to diners, had an egg cream. Did all my usual stuff.

The MET
Walk like an Egyptian – The MET

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What’s in a word?

Today’s Tomversation cartoon was influenced by the word, “orbisculate.” I got the idea from CBS Sunday Morning.

Growing up, Jonathan and Hilary Krieger’s vocabulary was enriched with a word their dad, Neil, used whenever a citrus fruit squirted you in the eye – a word they couldn’t find in a dictionary. Turns out he’d made it up! But with his passing last year from COVID, the Kriegers have set out to honor Neil by getting his word officially recognized by the publishers of dictionaries.

Their idea is to get the word used enough so as to make it become part of the English language. There is a list of uses they hope for and one was a comic strip. So I decided to accommodate them.

Here is the short story about it on CBS Sunday Morning.

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Eating in the time of pandemic

I put on 15 pounds this year. I attribute it to not going the gym.

When I was at the doctor’s last week, he said to me sort of shyly, “I don’t want to insult you or say anything out of line, but you need to take off some weight. You need to push yourself away from the table.”

I noticed that the doctor likes to throw shade, he does it ever so subtly quite often.

I said to the doc, “I am usually 186 lbs. Never 187 or 185, always 186 for some strange reason.”

That day I am 201 lbs. Which of course freaks me out, as I never thought I would reach 200 lbs in my life!

I explained to the doc, that I am not over-eating, I am just not going to the gym. Since muscle burns fat, I attribute it to that. I’m not big eater and I mostly eat vegetarian. I have a friend that gets annoyed that I always leave food on the plate and don’t basically lick it clean like he does. I attribute that to not over-eating. When I’m full, I stop.

The doc was surprised and said, “Most people don’t know that muscle burns fat.” And I thought that strange since I thought everyone, especially gym people knew that. He said, “People think muscle burns sugar.” Which seemed a strange thing to say.

I’ve been craving getting back to the gym, but I still don’t feel safe.

But alas, I think I lost the 15 pounds in a few days. I threw it all up! That and the fact that I have not eaten much for the past three days.

On Sunday, I was sick all day. I woke up light headed and for the next 8 hours I vomited on and off and had dry heaves because my body was so cleaned out!

At first I thought it was covid, but I didn’t have any of the symptoms – fever, loss of taste, smell, headaches, etc. None of that, just light headedness and nausea.

Anyway, by the next day, I was 90% well, just a bit stuffy in the ears, which made me still a bit light headed but today I am 99% well.

I don’t know what it is, but I think it was something I ate. I think it was mushrooms I bought on Saturday. I got them at the hot bar at Whole Foods with a bunch of other stuff – roasted peppers, broccoli, etc. So it was one of those things and I suspect the mushrooms.

It was a dumb idea to get anything from an open food bar in this time of pandemic but luckily it was just food poisoning and not something worse. I ended up throwing all the rest of the prepared food out from the food bar – a big salad, pizza, etc.

The good news – I took the 15 lbs. off. The doc will be happy.

Spicy (and mean) food

Today’s comic, above, reminds me of this comic which was published earlier this year, with Dan Souza from America’s Test Kitchen.

I noticed this weekend that American’s Test Kitchen started the new season and it’s from everyone’s own kitchen. In other words, they are working from home. It works, but I miss the interaction between the people.

Friends in my head

Bridget and Julia on the set.

I was talking about how much I love Life Below Zero, but I would never consider living like that on the frozen Tundra. I watch these shows over and over again and enjoy them so much, I feel as if some of the people are friends in my head.

Another thing I love is cooking shows. Mostly on weekends I have taken to watching them all. And yet, I don’t even like to boil water. Yet, like Life Below Zero, I find them very relaxing.

I know what roux is and I know how to caramelize onions. I just don’t do that. I love eating it all, but I don’t care to prepare it. I know what stone fruit is and I love all of it, I just don’t bake. I know where capers come from and how to make chicken in a Moroccan tagine; and I know not to turn fish on the grill, it will release itself when ready.

Dan and friends in the kitchen

I know what Sara Moulton is up to and what recipes Jacques Pepin‘s mother used to make. I know how Bridget and Julia like to brown a turkey and how Dan Souza prepares his Indonesian-Style Fried Rice, and when Martha Bakes, watch out!

I know what size oysters should be before they are harvested and how to kill a caribou and ptarmigan in the Arctic. I don’t put any of it to use, but it’s all in my head!

It’s all about tofu

I saw a great episode of tasteMAKERS this weekend – about tofu, which I never liked, but after seeing this episode it looks pretty good.

There was a time when my mother tried sneaking tofu into things. She is a gourmet cook and has recipes that she’s used all our lives – mostly Italian stuff, like meatballs, lasagna, etc. So when we started seeing strange things in the meatballs, we threw a fit. “What is this?” I asked, “You’ve been making these all your life and you’re known for your meatballs and now you’re changing the recipe?”

She said she was trying to hide the tofu in the meatballs, it was a funny scene.

Anyway, this lady, Jenny Yang bought a tofu store/factory in Chicago after the owners closed it down. Jenny depended on their products and the only way to keep getting them was to buy the business. While doing that, she ended up supporting so many other local businesses.

It’s a great story and as I said, the tofu looks pretty good, too, in it’s many incarnations.

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The affogato cartoon

Today’s cartoon may be a flop. Not sure. If you don’t know what an affogato is, it makes no sense. I think I only learned about an affogato a few years ago at a local gelato shop. I loved them and had them often.

I just laugh when I see this one. You either know or you don’t.

An affogato is gelato with espresso poured over it. I usually would get chocolate gelato with this. You get them separately usually and you pour the espresso over the gelato yourself. Try it. The mix between the cold and the hot and the espresso and the gelato is so great.

It’s all about the coffee

The last two comics published yesterday and today are coffee related. I guess I have coffee on my mind. Maybe it’s because I gave up drinking coffee a couple of months ago. I’ve been drinking green tea instead of my usual two or more cups of coffee a day!

The rough. Yes, this is a comic idea from a few years back.
That’s Jacomo diving into the coffee and Tombo asking, “How does he do that?”

The above comic was originally planned for Jacomo and Tombo, remember them? The mole and the rabbit comic I used to have called “Paws?” Jacomo was swimming in the coffee and Tombo was reacting. In theory anyway, I had this old scribble on my desk and I drew it as the comic above rather than having Jacomo doing the swimming.

This other one which is running today was also a scribble I had on my desk. I actually have hundreds of scribbles on scraps of paper. People ask me where I get my ideas from, I don’t really know, but I do scribble them down when they cross my mind. Sometimes they marinate for years until I use them.

Today’s comic

Menacing in the shadows

I don’t like to judge people when I first see them, but it’s human nature.

I go to this place in town for lunch often, maybe two or three times a week. You can’t eat inside, but you can eat out in the closed off street or you can take-out at the window. I’ve mostly go alone for take-out, but I’ve eaten there with friends sitting at tables, too.

From the first day I started going during the pandemic, months ago, I’ve seen these two guys there – every single time. No matter when I go, at lunchtime, there they are. Sort of near the take-out window, in the shadows, drinking beer. They usually have dark masks on or they are holding them and for some reason, they look at me and I look at them and no one says anything. I find them menacing.

I live in a small village, and everyone knows everyone else, but these two guys are strangers to me. But there they are, every single day at lunchtime, menacing in the corner, drinking beer.

Well, the other day as I parked my car nearby and got out, one of the guys was walking toward me on the sidewalk. I didn’t realize who it was until he said, “Hello.” When I looked up I realized he was one of the menacing ones.

But there he was, he was a harmless, skinny, gray haired guy in his 60s and didn’t look very menacing. I stopped him and said, “Tell me, what are you guys about? I see you every time I’m at the restaurant.”

He tells me he is a college professor and his friend is a computer IT guy or something like that. They are working from home these days (zooming as he called it) and they take a daily break to meet up for lunch/beer. He told me his name, so next time I go by, I’ll call out, “Hi so-and-so,” and I’m sure his friend will get a kick out it.

But it’s interesting how we judge people and how they are different in different locations and situations. They never said anything to me before, but I never said anything to them. We were just there. Seen but not heard.