I finally visited Wegmans. It’s a super market, but it’s a super super market.

My mother spoke about it for years. Whenever she went upstate NY to visit my nephew in college, she returned with reports about Wegmans. It was never about the trip itself or of my nephew, it was about Wegmans.

A few years ago, they opened a Wegmans at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in Brooklyn, NY and I’ve been meaning to visit, but I would forget about it. But yesterday, I remembered, so I took the F train from the city and visited.

It’s right next to the King’s County Distillery and there among a lot of the old navy yard.

They are opening a Wegmans in the city, at Astor Place, in about a year, so NYC will have two now.

It’s hard to describe Wegmans, it’s a supermarket, but huge. It has restaurants inside and a coffee shop, a pizza place and loads and loads of groceries. It’s almost like a Costco but with just food, no clothing or books or anything like that.

It’s an experience, sort of like the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building.

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Green paint and the city

So I’m in NY for a bit.

My flight left Miami on time, actually a half hour late, which is incredible since it seems that thousands of flights have been delayed or canceled all over the U.S. this summer. The whole flight was uneventful, which is the best kind of flight.

I finally remembered to try out my new technique to getting to Manhattan from LaGuardia Airport. I always think of it when we’re on the way stuck in traffic.

What I did was, I got the Uber at the airport, but instead of the driver taking me all the way to the city, I had him drop me off at the Vernon-Jackson subway station in Long Island City. I’m very familiar with this site as it’s where my cousins usually pick me up when I’m going to their houses in Queens or we are heading out to the Hamptons or even if I am just going to Long Island City for anything.

The Vernon Jackson station is one stop from Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan.

This saves a lot of time and money as it shortens the trip by a lot. The driver was even appreciative. He was glad not to have to go all the way into the city and sit in tunnel traffic for a long time. Even on a Saturday, getting into the Midtown Tunnel and getting to the city is a project.

So I hopped on and off the train in no time and was in the city in no time flat. I even used the new OMNY system that I wrote about recently, it worked like a charm.

Some first world problems I had – my first Mr. Softee ice cream of the summer, actually of the year melted all over my hand so I threw it out. The prices keep going up, but they still give you one thin napkin to maneuver the melt.

I also managed to get green paint on me in the subway somewhere. Later on I had gone to Union Square, which is my usual thing and as I came up from down under, I must have touched the paint on the railing or something and for the rest of the day I looked like a slob as I walked around the city and also Hoboken, NJ.

The paint was fresh from the signs they were painting for the SCOTUS protest at Union Square.

All in all, it’s been an interesting start to summer. But it’s been hot and humid, very hot and humid.

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Land crabs and tourists

Land crabs looked like this after it rained a few decades ago.

I’ve noticed something – but maybe it’s nothing.

When I was a kid, come winter, every other car on the road was a foreign plate – you know, from a different state. It seemed that everyone drove down to Florida.

Over the years, that disappeared, I didn’t notice it until the last couple of years when the foreign plates showed up again. In droves (no pun intended).

I am guessing that maybe it had to do with the pandemic, and maybe people felt safer driving their own cars than being crammed up together in an airplane and I noticed it even more during the period when flights were being delayed or canceled by the thousands, I guess people felt they could depend on their own cars rather than the airlines. Also, I know it was very hard finding a rental, I tried, so I guess bringing your own car along was the thing to do.

Now I notice the cars with the out of state plates are gone. But the airlines are starting to cancel flights again, so who knows. But then again, it’s summer, so there really aren’t tourists here in summer.

Another thing I noticed when I was driving today was a large sign that warned people about land crabs. I don’t know if it was warning them not to drive over them or not to pick them up.

When I was a kid, that was an issue. After it rained, the streets were full of land crabs who were flooded out of their holes/homes. You had to be careful not to drive over them or they might puncture a tire. These crabs were all over – by the hundreds – they even appeared in back yard pools. They would break the screening around the pool areas and just end up in the water.

I have not seen that for years because of all the over-development. I thought the crabs disappeared due to that, so it was interesting seeing the sign today, warning people of the crabs. The sign might be left over from the big rains/tropical storm thing we had a couple of weeks ago. But again, I didn’t even know there were any land crabs to be warned about, I haven’t seen any in decades.

So far, as of today, I haven’t seen any tourists or land crabs. Things a good thing.

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The OMNY card for the NYC Subway system

I joined OMNY – the click and pay method on the NY Subway system. They’ve had it for a few years now, but I’ve always bought a weekly pass which allows you unlimited rides for a set fee, rather than paying for each trip, which is $2.75. I think the weekly pass is $33.00 now, but it adds up fast, $33.00 is 12 trips, which do go fast. Round trip is two trips right there!

The advantage to the weekly pass is that you don’t have to always think, “Is this trip necessary?” I think that’s a saying from World War II days, but with the weekly pass you can travel to your heart’s content.

Another plus is that people “swipe” for people. Like you are leaving a station and someone says, “Hey man, can you swipe for me?” And you swipe for them to let them in, and you’re not wasting any trips that way.

The good part about the OMNY system now is that you swipe for each individual trip, but once you reach the $33.00 limit within 7 days, you automatically get unlimited rides for that week. Clever. So now everyone gets a weekly pass as long as they end up paying for it. It’s called the “Weekly Fare Cap.”

I remember the days of tokens, all those coins in your pocket, and then I remember when the MetroCard started, now they will phase the MetroCard out by 2024 and it will all be tap and pay.

You don’t have to sign up for the OMNY card, you can tap your credit card at turnstiles if the card has a chip and you can also use Apple Pay. But if you want the unlimited ride thing, you need to sign up for the OMNY card, which is actually just signing up a credit card and every time you tape that card – Visa, AmEx, etc., it registers the trips on your OMNY account.

So you can have an actual OMNY card if you wish, or just use the actual credit card that is activated and linked to the system.

All the OMNY info is here.

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Vintage history

I came across this picture online. It’s Coney Island, one day in 1906. It’s crazy, seeing all these people crammed in together at the beach, and so many of them in black suits.

My favorite part is these little guys at the left, if you look to the left of the guys walking, there is a smaller guy digging in the sand. He’s very intent on doing what he’s doing. Does he have to go back to a labor shop the next day, was he a newsboy working 6 days a week selling newspapers? Kids didn’t have it easy back then, but these three looked happy on this day.

I wonder what the two kids that are walking are talking about? They seem deep in conversation.

The one guy at the very bottom, where his head is partly cut off looks like a time traveler – but I always see some sort of time traveler in old pictures, that probably aren’t. I guess it’s his haircut that looks very modern.

I colorized this image below. Makes you feel like you’re almost there, doesn’t it? If you click oh the two large images above and below, they will open much larger.

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Returning to the 1980s

I’m always wanting to return to the 1980s – my favorite decade.

I always imagine that when we die, we can return to any time period we like – mine would be to relive Jan 1, 1980 to Dec. 31, 1989 and then do it over and over again – sort of like a 10 year version of Ground Hog Day.

I saw this picture recently, the Kevin Bacon poster. it’s from 1986 and it’s still hanging in the subway – at one particular station in NYC. Still there, 36 years later!

I’d like to visit it and sort of be in a picture in front of it, transporting myself to 1986. It’s at the 71st and Continental subway station in Forest Hills Queens. I am always at that station, too. I get off at that stop (and get on) when I’m coming and going from the city when I meet my cousins in Queens. I will visit this when I get to NY in a couple of months. Look for it here!

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Arranging meet ups with friends

I’m planning my trips for New York this year. From June until the end of the year I spend a lot of time there.

I was talking to a friend the other day, we were talking about all the meet-ups I had in New York over the years, you know, with friends from Miami, who happened to be in NY at the same time.

What’s interesting is that in the 1980s and 1990s, I did this a lot. I would meet friends from home/Miami and we would hang out in NYC for the day or whatever. But how did we do it? We didn’t have cell phones and I can’t remember how we arranged it.

I just know that on such and such date, at such and such time, we would meet up. I remember meeting my friend Albert in front of the Empire State Building and my friend Vincent came by my hotel and so many others would meet up with me.

I’m wondering if I made an announcement -” I will be in NY from Nov. 10 to 30. If anyone is going to be there, let me know.” I mean we didn’t have social media, did I just announce it to everyone at once? Did I tell people one-by-one over time? Whatever the case, we were at the appointed location, date and time. Always. I can’t imagine that happening now. Now we would text each other 20 times before we would ever end up meeting up.

Back then I would stay at my cousins’ house or at hotels but I don’t remember people calling either place to arrange to meet for lunch or hang out or whatever. So I am guessing we made the plans way in advance.

I’m just flabbergasted that we met at the exact place and appointed time. And I guess I made it known when I was going to be out of town. I had a lot of friends back then, so I really think I must have told each one of them one at a time what my plans were and if they were going to be in town at the same time, we arranged our meet up date. Amazing.

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How to catch a smuggler

I was watching How To Catch a Smuggler the other day. Ever see that? I’ve seen so many episodes, they are almost repetitive now. It’s a reality show where they show people trying to smuggle drugs or illegal food or packages and things like that into various countries around the world, including the United States.

One time recently, I was coming through the JFK airport in New York and they flagged my carry on bag. The TSA guy called me over, “Whose luggage is this?” he yelled. “Mine,” I said, putting my hand up.

“Come over here,” he said. “And don’t touch anything!”

I replied, “I know, I know, I watch ‘How to Catch a Smuggler.” He laughed and said, “So do I.”

It ended up being a small pair of scissors in my luggage which set off their machine. He let me keep them and I was on my way.

I used to get nervous about being stopped at the airport, but it’s happened so much to me, I’m used to it now. These days, it’s getting my hands swabbed for explosives. Now I know the drill and when they start swabbing, I ask, “What are you doing, swabbing for explosives?” And they are taken aback and look at me.

Many years ago, I was traveling to Cleveland for a wedding. I had to stop in Atlanta. For some strange reason I was wearing cowboy boots. This was the first and only time I ever wore them. Again, I don’t know why.

I had my wallet in one boot, it was easier to carry and I didn’t have to sit on it, if it was in my back pocket.

In Atlanta, I was sitting, reading the newspaper, waiting for my connecting flight, and two big guys in suits came up to me. They said, “Sir, we have been watching you. Can you please reach into your boot slowly and take out whatever it is you have in there.”

So I reached down and took out my wallet. They looked it over. And I don’t remember the rest of the conversation, but they said something about wanting to check my luggage. I told them that if they went to get my checked luggage they would make me miss my flight to Cleveland, but they were more than welcome to check it in Cleveland.

Their last words to me were, “Maybe we will.” And they walked away. I always remember those words as if it was yesterday, “Maybe we will.”

This was long before 9-11, it was in the 1980s in fact, so it was strange that they were keeping such a close watch on me traveling to the midwest of all places.

They never did meet up with me in Cleveland. I didn’t fly back home to Miami from Cleveland, I drove with my cousins after the wedding, back to New York and I flew back to Miami from NY later that summer.

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News from around the country

There are places I want to be. I don’t mean to visit, I mean to live. So I watch their tv news. My Roku tv allows me to do this – live, as it’s happening.

For years I followed the newspapers and tv news channels of places all over the US on Facebook. And now I watch the tv news. I watch Albuquerque, New Mexico; Connecticut and Charlotte, North Carolina. I don’t even know how to spell Albuquerque or Connecticut, I had to use the spellcheck, but I love these areas.

I started loving Albuquerque, thanks to Breaking Bad. I thought I wanted to be in Phoenix, AZ all these years, but I realized I like the climate in New Mexico better. It’s actually cooler. When it’s 108 degrees in Arizona, it’s 89 in New Mexico, when the low is 70 in Arizona, it’s 40 in New Mexico. I guess it has to do with the elevation.

When I was a kid, I used to imagine that I lived in a trailer in the desert. Not sure why, was that were I lived in a previous life? And then I saw Breaking Bad and there it all was – the desert – the trailer!

According to their news, Albuquerque and Connecticut are boring. There’s nothing happening in either place. New Mexico has a lot of wildfires and for the first half of the news the other night all they talked about was wildfires. And both New Mexico and Connecticut don’t have major league teams, so they talk about high school and college sports when the sports report comes on. But that is all charming in a way.

I love the southern shore of Connecticut and would love to live their except for their rough winters. I like that you can take a ferry from New London, CT to Long Island, NY and be in The Hamptons quite quickly. Not so much that I want to be out of Connecticut so quickly, but I spend time in The Hamptons with my cousins and this would make it easy to get there and even better, to the North Fork of Long Island, which I love, too. And also, with Connecticut, it’s easier to get to Upstate New York where I like to visit, especially in the fall.

North Carolina – well, there’s a big lake I like, where I would like to live in a big green forested area. I love Asheville, but it gets too cold in the winter, and it’s too far from the airport. So a nice lake in the suburbs of Charlotte is what I like.

An interesting thing with Connecticut news is that I watch the NBC channel, but there is no number attached to it. I think the whole state gets it on channel 30 from New Britain, CT. But they just call it NBC Connecticut. I watch NBC4 – KOB in Albuquerque and ABC9, WSOC in Charlotte, NC. And I watch WNBC, NBC4 from New York City, but usually only if there is a major New York story that I want to see like the Frank James subway shooter. BTW, Frank James was Jesse James’ brother’s name, wasn’t it?

I also dream of living in Tuscany, Italy, can I get their live tv news? I guess I’ll have to learn to speak Italian first to appreciate it.

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Art curated by museum guards

I saw this piece on CBS Sunday morning. It’s about the security guards at the Baltimore Museum of Art curating the art.

It’s fascinating because they are usually shadows. I totally ignore them when I’m at a museum. For one thing, I always feel they are watching me. They have asked me to stop filming more than once – snapshots are ok, filming not so much, I’m still not sure why, but usually because of that reason, I avoid them.

As one lady says in the piece above, the guards are around the art more than anyone else – day and night. And they know about the art. If you have a question, they probably know the answer. The question I most ask them is, “Where is the exit,” because I’m always getting lost.

But I see them in a whole new light and next time at a museum, I won’t ignore them, I’ll say, “Hello!”

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