I spent July 4th alone

I spent July 4th alone. I don’t think I have ever done that before. In my whole life I was always with people. It reminded me of a few years ago when I did New Year’s Eve alone. I had never done that before, I was always with family or friends or at parties, but one year I was alone. And I liked it!

I didn’t like being alone for July 4th though. I normally would be in NYC, actually, The Hamptons, with my cousins. These photos are from a couple of years past in NY. I usually do the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest and at times have watched the fireworks from Manhattan when not in the Hamptons.  This one picture of Molly and me, in the car, on our way to The Hamptons last July 4th, is one of my favorite pictures. Molly is my aunt and uncle’s dog.

On Facebook yesterday, one of my memories popped up from three years ago – it was a little video I posted from a crowd at Long Island City, where I went to watch the fireworks over the East River, with Manhattan in the background. I don’t know how to save it and post it here or I would. There were literally tens of thousands of people there – all on top of each other. Wonder if that will ever happen again. I remember all of us trying to get on the subway back to the city after the fireworks – the crowds were backed up all the way up the stairs into the street. The same thing happened one year in lower Manhattan, near city hall, where the fireworks were over the Brooklyn Bridge.

Will we ever be in crowds like that again?

Anyway, one of my cousins called me early yesterday morning to tell me that it was still on – that everyone was driving out for the day. No one was sleeping over. They are all being quite careful in New York due to the coronavirus and that’s why New York went from having the highest rate, down to the lowest.

I guess I didn’t have to be alone, but I chose to be. I could have been with family, as our town and even my neighbors weren’t doing anything, but I know my family was doing things – boating, barbecuing, etc. Yesterday was the 14th day of me sort of self-quarantining after being at a family party 14 days before.

I didn’t want to say anything, but I was at this party for my nephew’s 2-year-old daughter along with maybe 50 other people. And not one person had a mask on and there was no social distancing. While it was all family, a lot of the people I didn’t know from his wife’s side of the family, maybe 50% of the people there – and they insisted on shaking my hand – even when I would pull it away, they would grab my hand! And my sister-in-law’s mother, who sees me all the time, insisted on hugging me – three times throughout the day!

So for 14 days I was freaking out – counting down the days until I was safe. Last week, a week after the party, my family had pizza night. I didn’t go and I explained why and they respected that, which was surprising, because in the past they would have said something like, “Get off your ass and get over here!” But they respected my decision.

Anyway, I spent July 4th alone. I didn’t like it. Hopefully next year it will be back to normal. Not the “new normal,” the old normal.

We made it to July 4th!

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So it’s July 4th weekend. Hard to believe we all made it to this date. I remember starting to shelter in place in March. I thought it would all be over by now. But I guess I was just fooling myself. This year July 4th will be different for so many of us.

Normally I would be in New York at this time – probably at my cousin’s house in the Hamptons for the actual July 4th holiday with the family. Many times I would be there for the weekend, but on the actual day, July 4th, I would be in the City watching fireworks over the river.

But for many years I did stay home and was part of big celebrations in our town. We did so much here from hot dog eating contests to fireworks with so much in between.

For a few years we had a coconut hunt! What we did was have painting parties for a month or two before. Usually on a Friday night at one of the local galleries, we had painting parties with wine and pizza. Anyone could come by and paint – and people did. By July 4th we ended up with hundreds of coconuts.

At a given time, we would have the contest. We would hand out clues to people and they would run out into the village trying to find coconuts. Certain coconuts were winners – for instance, the golden coconut was the grand prize coconut, then there were others. We had numbers on all the coconuts and they were called randomly at the end and people would win all sorts of prizes.

We even had Lucie and Desi Arnaz Jr. one year for July 4th. They recreated a famous Lucy and Desi Sr. photo at City Hall here in the village. Fun times.

Christmas in July

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Miss Phryne Fisher

I was watching Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries the other night and it was Christmas in July. The show takes place in Australia and it turns out that Australia has two Christmases. They have the regular one on December 25 and another in July.

You see, in December, it’s summer in the southern hemisphere, so to have a snowy and cold Christmas, they do it again in July, which is the coldest month. I never heard that before. Imagine having two Christmases. It’s hard enough having two!

Missing the holidays in small town America

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I had to come home to Miami from NYC a few days early, due to a Nor’easter or something similar coming this weekend. I left early Saturday morning and the storm is coming Sunday and Monday and possibly Tuesday. I had planned to come home Monday morning, which is no big deal except for the fact that I am going to miss the Christmas parade and event this year in Southampton. I have many pictures here from last year.

It’s such a great event, I looked forward to it for months. I drive out there from the city with some of my cousins and we make a nice day of it – eating, shopping, the Christmas parade, the tree lighting and fireworks, all in small town America!

I was lucky to be able to change my flight so easily. I had choices, too, so I wasn’t stuck with some awful flight. I got an early 8:00 am flight and by noon I was at Publix, home in Miami, food shopping!

One funny thing is that my aunt told me she understood that I was leaving early and hated to see me go, but snow can be scary. I think she thinks I’m scared of snow. First off, it’s a storm, where the weather lady on tv said don’t leave the house all day Sunday, and secondly, and mainly, ever see that chaos at the airports where flights are canceled and people are waiting around for hours, sometimes days, for a flight home? That’s what I wanted to avoid. And I did. Glad to be home, but I miss NY.

Fall in Central Park

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I have been busy, pumping out Hal and High Water strips. I’m almost ready to send them in to the syndicate. I’m going to NY at the end of the week for Thanksgiving week, so I hope to have the strips submitted by then.

I found this photo from last year. It’s the Bow Bridge in Central Park. You can’t see him him very well, but at the very end of the bridge is a guy playing an instrument. He’s all in black, see him just before you enter the bridge? I think it was a flute or a saxophone, I can’t remember. What I do remember is that I was trying to take a short video of him to put on Instagram and he kept turning his back to me. At first I thought it was coincidence, but then I realized, he didn’t want to be taped.

I usually tip these street/park musicians, especially when I take pictures or tape them, but I didn’t in this instance. So I never got him playing, but you can imagine being on the other side of the bridge and hearing his music in the distance, which brings me to this next photo.

This is incredible; the photo, but the experience.

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It was November 2015. I was in Central Park and saw this view in front of me. Amazing. As I sat there on a park bench, I heard Adele singing “Hello” faintly in the distance. It almost sounded like angels! I looked around and didn’t see anyone. “Hello” was released a month before, in October 2015, so it was played all over. So to hear it in the park was strange, but not so strange, but the strange part was hearing it in the distance on a cool Autumn day, with this beautiful scene before me, with no other people around.

After I took the picture and was leaving, as I turned a bend on the path, there was a hot dog vendor with his radio blaring “Hello.” That’s where it was coming from, wafting through the park. Sort of disappointing at that moment, knowing where Adele was coming from!

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Last Train Home

My favorite all time Publix commercial.

This commercial ran for a few years from 1987 to 1996 and every time it came on, I would stop what I was doing and watch. It’s part of my Christmas memories of my youth and it’s just one of those things – a song, just like a smell, that brings you back to another time.

The music in Last Train Home is from Still Life Talking an album by Pat Metheny Group, released in 1987.

To this day, when Pat Metheny is performing, he’ll refer to the song as, “The Publix song.”

A Charlie Brown Christmas

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I was watching “A Charlie Brown Christmas” last night and as I watched, I scrolled through social media and I could see so many others watching, too. It’s amazing how this 1965 cartoon is Christmas.

I’m sure we know all the words by heart. My two favorite parts are where they are dancing on the stage and the end where they sing “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.” I love the way Charlie Brown jumps back when he sees the tree.

It’s comforting knowing millions of people are watching the show along with me and enjoying it and making it part of their holiday season.

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Holidays in Small Town America

We spent Saturday in Southhampton, NY, one of the Hamptons at the eastern end of Long Island. They had a Christmas parade and tree lighting with fireworks. Something so special in this small, quint town. 

People crowded the parade route by the thousands, they hung out of bars with drinks, all bundled up from the cold, mind you.

At the end of the parade, just like clockwork, everyone moved to the end of the block to a park where the tree was ready to be lit. After a few speeches, there was a countdown and the tree was lit.

Then there were fireworks behind the tree for about 15-20 minutes. So much fun. Small town America during the holidays!

Thanksgiving week in NYC

I’m back in NYC for Thanksgiving week. I noticed that one of my best friends, Santi, is in town from Miami, I saw his posts on Instagram, not sure why he didn’t notify me but we’ll hang out and have fun. This video above is last night’s ice skating at Bryant Park, it’s a little long, but I had hoped the music could be heard because the skating is so in sync with the music – Barry White singing, “Can’t Get Enough of You.” It was so loud, filling up the park, but for some reason, it is not very loud here.

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A few Octobers ago, Santi and I ended up here together, too. His wife was coming but she got sick and there was a Nor’easter or hurricane or something on the way, so she never made it. Luckily neither did the hurricane.

So Santi and I and some of his friends had a ball. We were all over the city every hour of the day.He showed me so many things I had not seen or known before, and I thought I knew every inch of the city. I saw the Lady in Gold at the Neue Galerie, which I had never seen before, the painting or the gallery. I remember him getting into an argument with some tourists who were from a country who as supposedly communist at the time, he just started yelling at them in the museum when he heard they were from whatever country it was.

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Since it was October, four of us went to this Oktoberfest at a German restaurant in the east 80s, I believe. We drank a lot of beer and ordered this pile of meat. It was a huge platter full of everything you can imagine – pork chops, steak, knockwurst, whatever, tons of meat! And I try not to eat much meat in my daily life, so it was something for all of us to get through the pile of that meat.

It was a fun week, he had stayed at a friend’s in Greenwich Village so we spent a lot of time down there. I’m hoping for a repeat of all that this time. We’ll see. I may drag him to one of my favorite museums today – the Museum of the City of New York, which is in Spanish Harlem, a quirky neighborhood I think he would love. 

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Happy New Year!

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I’m looking forward to 2018. I don’t know why, I just feel good about it. For one thing, the numbers add up to 11, which is very good and 18 is very good in Jewish/Hebrew. It’s “Chai,” which means “life.”

I feel and see good things coming for me, us and the country. I get premonitions and I feel strong about this.

I will finally get my new comic strip going and that’s probably the best thing for me right now. Stay tooned.