My nightmare plane trip

NY Comic Con week was great. My favorite week of the year, but coming up was not fun. I got back to Miami on Monday, but the trip was not as easy as it usually is.

For one thing, I got to the airport very early because they have been working on the bridge and tunnel in and out of the city, when I arrived last Saturday, there was a half hour delay at the Midtown tunnel, traffic was at a standstill. And with all the major construction at La Guardia, I didn’t want to miss my flight, so I added extra time, but too much extra time, as I left the hotel at 6 am for a 9:30 flight, which ended up leaving at about 11 am because of planes backed up on the tarmac.

But the worst part was this little kid, maybe 2 years old, who cried and screamed from inside the terminal, through the whole tarmac wait and for the three hour trip to Miami.

He was a spiteful little creep because he knew what he was doing – screeching, at high decibles. He would cry and then SCREECH, where it went right through you. He knew what he was doing. I don’t know what he wanted or why he was crying non-stop, but his parents ignored it.

Everyone on the plane was going nuts and saying things under their breath, but no one said anything to the parents or the airline crew. We were all afraid to say anything for fear of being thrown off the plane. You know how that goes. Say something and they turn the plane around.

So it was basically six hours of non stop, screaming, crying and throwing a tantrum, he stopped for a bit, maybe to eat, but 99% of the trip was him carrying on.

I took a video, but it does not do the six hour tantrum justice so I won’t post it here, as you may think I am exaggerating.

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From skyline to brick wall

My first couple of days in New York sort of suck. But things are better now. I got to see the 30th season premiere episode of The Amazing Race today, and that was a lot of fun. I took a little film of that, you can see that below.

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This is the usual view from my favorite hotel in NYC, the Affinia Dumont, which is now closed and turning into condos. I pay for this view, but it’s worth it.

But to start out, I have this favorite hotel in New York, the Affinia Dumont, where the views are spectacular, you think you are living in a postcard. It’s amazing.

Well, after all these years, they were sold and  becoming condos, the Murry Hill Marquis, so the hotel company put me at another one of their Affinias up the street, the Shelburne. I stayed there once, and didn’t like it, but figured what the hell, it can’t be that bad.

It is.

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This was my view when they changed me from the Affinia Dumont to the Affinia Shelburne.

They gave me a room facing a brick wall. You can see it here! Then they charged me $25 a day for “incidentals,” like wine at the wine bar, $10 worth of things at the gift shop, internet, etc. I’m here 10 days, do the math. I would only use the internet, and possibly the gift shop for a bottle of water and maybe the newspapers. I don’t drink wine, and I don’t mix with total strangers and free wine socials at hotels.

I asked for them not to charge me the $25 and they said that’s the way it is. I could do nothing about it. This was one of the managers who said this to me. Basically, that’s tough, you’re stuck with the bill. Then I asked to change my room from the dungeon that it is and I was told there were no other rooms! The two little bitches at the front desk were quite rude. The manager literally told me that they stuck me in the dungeon room because they wanted to give me an inside room which is more quiet and preferred. I guess she thought I was a mental patient, who need to calm my nerves.

The coup de gras was the next morning when I got stuck in the elevator! A couple from England and I got stuck. This changed everything. I’m not sure why, because it wasn’t long and I didn’t complain, that sort of thing doesn’t phase me, but they were now falling all over themselves at the front desk, the manager called me, he removed some of my $25 “incidental” charges and they moved me to a room with a view. There is sunlight coming in the window as we speak!

The hotel is surley and not friendly, I asked one of the ladies from housekeeping if I could have a bar of soap, Her response – “Call 64 and they’ll bring you the soap.” In quality hotels, she would have brought me the soap herself when she had a chance.

Anyway, I went to Washington Square Park at about noon for the filming of season 30 of The Amazing Race. There were quite a few reality starts there like Cody and Jessica from the recent Big Brother season which only ended a few weeks ago, that was quite fast signing them up. It was fun to watch, Phil Keoghan is a really nice guy, you’ll see in the film below that he approached a little boy, about four years old, who has a sign that says he wants to be on The Amazing Race. Phil is cracking up. He asked the little boy how he know about the show at such a young age.

I think this will show this winter, probably February. They had the little boy’s mother sign a release, so I guess that interaction will be on tv.

Street art in the form of crochet trees

tree8I was walking down Christopher Street in Greenwich Village, NYC on July 4 and noticed these cool tree cozies. They are sort of vigilante art, where they just appear in the middle of the night.

Most were on Christopher at Bedford. The first one I noticed was the barber pole made from the crocheted yarn, but then I noticed the barber pole, which is usually red and white, had blue in it, then realized it was a perfect red, white and blue for July 4th.

I particularly like the tree with the crocheted roses on it. So cool.

Governors Island; a trip back through history

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Governors Island, where do I start?

I thought I knew all of New York City. I’m amazed that I am often finding myself in areas that I had never been before and this past weekend was no exception. A few of us went on an adventure, to another land, which was only 800 yards from downtown Manhattan. It’s so close, yet is its own world.

Governors Island was settled briefly by the Dutch in 1624 but its main claim to fame is being a military base from 1794 to 1996, when it closed. It was home to the US Army and then the US Coast Guard. In 2001, President Clinton established the 22-acre as a national park and in 2003, President Bush transferred the remaining 150 acres to the people of New York.

From being used as a base in the American Revolutionary War to a National Park today, is some transformation, yet so much of it is like going back in time. It remains like it has for 200 years or so.

The island is open from May 1 to October 1 each year and it’s a pity because Governors Island would be a perfect place for a pumpkin patch and Christmas village. It’s a bit Williamsburg, VA and a bit of old Boston. There’s a meadow you come upon and you swear you are in “Little House on the Prairie,” as you see no surrounding buildings. All at once, you come upon an old movie theater where you think you are on the back lot of “The Waltons,” and the houses – the colonial houses which surround a sort of green square takes you back to a simpler time – all this mere feet from Brooklyn.

And the fantasy of the whole thing is that you have to arrive by ferry! There are ferries from different areas of the city, so hop on one and head over. The ferry ride itself is a beautiful experience as you glide by New York’s skyscrapers and cruise under its many bridges.

Once you get to the island, there is more than enough to do. Take in the greenery and quaintness and history. This is real history all surrounded by nature.

There is free kayaking and picnic lunches and biking and food trucks and hammocks and mini golf and so much more; and the best part has to be what they call “The Hills.” There is one hill, which seems like a mini-mountain, it is 70 feet above sea level. It is sort of like climbing a pyramid. There are large pyramid-style rocks piled up and you climb to the top – the only way to get there. Once at the top the first thing you see is the Statue of Liberty right in front of you in the harbor, you feel as if you can reach out and touch her.

Turn around and there, sparkling in the distance is downtown Manhattan and Jersey City. The view is spectacular. I sat there on a large rock and just watched people’s reactions as they turned and saw the view for the first time. Amazing.

There are events throughout the summer like the Poetry Festival and the Scavenger Hunt, there are art exhibits and so much more.

You can spend each weekend there during the season and find something new to do each weekend. For more info, check out their website at: https://govisland.com

Free subway library

subwayI noticed on the New York subways that they have a Free Subway Library which is provided by the New York Public Library system along with the Brooklyn Library and Queens Library. It started in June. The MTA and Transit Wireless provide riders with access to hundreds of e-books and short stories.

Basically only the first chapters are available, enough to read on a train ride and then you can download the whole book at the library’s app.

Now when you’re on the trains you see so many people staring down at their phones either reading or playing games. I usually go through the photos I took during the day.

It’s a far cry from the days, not too long ago (10, 12 years?) where everyone seemed to have their heads buried in a newspaper or paperback book. Tabloid sized newspapers were created for subways and buses, their smaller size than the broadsheet made it easier to manage.

I’m not such a fan of MoMA anymore

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I wondered how families and poor people enjoyed museums in New York City as the entry fees are so expensive.  I had written a story in April about New York museums taking donations, rather than the marked price at the door. But MoMA wasn’t having it last Friday.

I told the bearded hipster at the front desk that I wanted to pay $10. He told me that was not possible, that I had to pay the $25 fee. Now I could have probably gotten a free press pass but I just wanted to see if this donation bit was true. I guess not. I paid the full fee and entered and wondered how a single mother of three could do that.

I had been to two other museums in New York City earlier in the week and they both suggested donations at the door, but I paid the regular entrance fees because I do want to support the institutions and I didn’t have the courage yet to try to get in with just a donation.

It does get pricey visiting museums and going to the theater in New York City. It’s a shame that not everyone can afford it. I think the world would be a better place if more people had more and easy access to the arts.

But here is the rub – if you want to imagine being in the New York City subway or CitiField or Yankee Stadium when the game is over and everyone is storming in one direction, that is how you get free access to MoMA! They offer a Free Friday Nights for everyone. And trust me, everyone comes out. Check out my video below. This was 6:00 pm on Friday, inside MoMA. Free Fridays are from 4 to 8 pm. It’s like ants!

I sort of don’t appreciate the attitude at MoMA. When I entered at about 3 pm and tried to pay $10; the hipster with the beard at the front desk gave me a hard time. Rather than explain, “Sir, if you wait one hour, it is free.” But no, he had me pay the full $25 and then witness this mess where the rest of the city entered free. Not cool. I may not be back for a long time (like they care). I’ll miss Starry Night.

Ballerina looms over New York

I try to mostly write about art in this blog and when I’m in New York City, there is no absence of inspiration for that. My favorite thing this summer is the Jeff Koons “Sitting Ballerina” sculpture right outside 30 Rock. It’s impressive day and night. The light shimmers off of her. Amazing.

She is such a large scale. As you turn the corner, boom, there she is!  She is 45 feet high, made of nylon.

The last time I was here at 30 Rock, there was a hug Christmas tree there. Now in the same space is this elegant ballerina. She almost looks like a shiny Christmas ornament.

The ballarina was to be there until June 2, 2017, but she is still there.