Counting the days until summer

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

I came across this photo, which I originally posted in July 2019.

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 one day in the summer, in July 2019, and headed back to the city, and there they are at a restaurant some of my cousins were at the night I left.

My cousin Matt took this picture at the restaurant. He texted it and said, “Is this the thing you’re always talking about?” And it was.

I watched the recent episode last night. This year they are quarantined in the house in the Hamptons and they can’t leave. Usually they are out and about and they have big parties and hang out at the bars and beach, etc. and they go back and forth to the city each week and then hit the summer house on the weekends.


I made my plans again for this summer. I had missed last summer due to the pandemic – first time in years, and hopefully I’ll be there this summer. I’m not sure why I like the show so much, but I think it has to do with the fact that I am there when they are there and I am at places they are going to, so it sort of brings the summer back to me. They usually show the episodes six months or so later, so summer is long over by the time it’s on tv, and it is a little nostalgic for the past summer.

I used to like the Fall best, and I guess I still do, but these days I really love summers. I’m not sure why, all of a sudden, but it could be due to New York. New York has a certain vibe in the summer. While it seems like everyone is gone – up to the mountains or out to the Hamptons and Montauk it’s really not like that and the city comes alive. I like tagging my Instagram pics as #summerinthecity, it has a nice ring to it.

Everyone is out on the streets – at sidewalk tables, in the parks – everywhere. It’s alive. The farmer’s market at Union Square has a special feel to it, although I love the pumpkins and eventually Christmas trees and stuff in the fall and winter. But summer is special. We spend July 4th in the Hamptons and there is always someone at the house, so it’s easy to go back and forth at any time from the city, there is always someone driving back and forth at any given time.

I do a lot of walking in New York, on this particular day, on July 1, 2019, I walked 11.1 miles! Those “flights climbed” are probably up and down the subway steps, which isn’t part of this total walking tabulation, so add whatever miles I rode on the subway to the 11.1 miles and you can see I rally got around. I remember this one day because I was flabbergasted at at all the miles I covered in one day.

I’m really looking forward to this summer. It’s hard to believe it is only a few months away. I’m dying to get vaccinated, which will be the first step to some sort of normalcy.

Visiting the past in old photos

I love this photo because most of these buildings are there today. This image is Union Square, NYC, 1904. It’s such a great shot. Notice the horses and at the other side of the picture is a trolley.

This other image is a couple of summers ago. If you notice the buildings to the right of the top photo, you’ll see they are the same ones that are there today.

A lot of times I’ll have an old photo, like the one above, in my phone and when I’m at a place in the city, I’ll try to compare the image to see what is still there.

I may have told you this story – One time I was at Union Square and I was holding up a photo, not too far from the are where the top photo is taken. I held the camera up and was trying to line up the shot to the similar buildings on my phone. But as I held the camera up, I was holding it right at a guy’s head. It looked as if I was taking a close-up of his face!

He looked at me and I got embarrassed and said, “Oh, I’m sorry,” and I explained to him what I was doing and I showed him the image on my phone. We both got a good laugh out of that.

Looking forward to normalcy

I made a bunch of travel plans and reservations for later in the year – from the summer on. Hopefully things will be great then and we can travel without concern.

Things seem to be going back to normal little by little. I can sort of tell by the bay activity. What I mean is, I live on the bay, and I remember seeing so much activity in the water during the early days of the pandemic – people kayaking, paddle boarding and so much more, on a daily basis. Now I don’t see that much anymore. I guess now that people are out and about, they aren’t feeling trapped and bored, although all that fun and healthy activity seemed to do them good when they were feeling trapped and bored.

I did create a lot of cartoons which were covid-based – regarding masks, social distancing, working from home, and so on.

I keep seeing on the news that covid infections are dropping dramatically while vaccines are moving along. Many people I know were vaccinated, almost all getting both shots already, including my parents. I am anxious to get vaccinated. I have friends who are against it. But if the numbers of infections are dropping, something good is happening.

I’ve been asked many times if I got my shots. I am not quite sure how old people think I am. But I am nowhere near the age group that is being vaccinated currently.

I did sign up for a few waiting lists – like at Walgreens and CVS, so that when it opens up for the general public, I can get on the appointment list. My own doctor says he won’t have the vaccine for some reason, even though he always has the yearly flu shot.

Anyway, I am anxious to get on a plane again and get away. While last year seemed to fly by, it still was a long, anxious year. We are coming up on a year from when things started getting bad/serious. I remember watching Gov. Cuomo on tv every day, feeling calmed by his demeanor. I remember being afraid to leave the house for a month or so – getting food deliveries all the time.

I’m glad I blogged and cartooned a lot about it. I have it all recorded here in the archives and hopefully it will only live there and never in real life again.

You can see my comics at TomFalco.com, there are links to social media there, too, if you care to follow on a daily basis.

Thanks, but I’ve moved on

Me with my friend Michelle, celebrating the Grapevine, about 10 years ago.

This week, a year ago, I ended the Coconut Grove Grapevine, which was the daily news of our little village. The last post was exactly a year ago today.

I published it for 15 years and in that time covered everything that went on in town. I covered events, village council meetings, I fought with politicians, I did it all. After 15 long years, I ended it. I gave fair warning – a few months in advance. It was time.

But people are still mourning it. It’s almost like a tv show that ended, where people want more. You know – like Friends – people keep asking, “When is the reunion?”

I bring this all up because it’s hard to believe that people still want to send me stories to publish or want me to get involved in causes. Close friends. Just this week alone, four people asked me to publish things! I’m shocked. I quit my job guys, I retired from it, and you still want me to go back to the daily grind.

One friend called and wanted me to get involved with something at City Hall, I can’t remember what, but I was shocked that he asked. The other day I got a call out of the blue from my lawyer – a friend – who is concerned with tree issues in the village – he was reading old stories in the Grapevine and wanted me to get involved in saving the trees again, by covering the destruction around the town, caused by real estate developers, who would rather pay the fines than follow the law. You know, do it, then ask for forgiveness later.

Speaking of trees, one of my best friends called the other night – he too was concerned about a single tree in front of his former house, and he wanted me to do a story on it, to try and stop it from being taken down!

I was at a community event this weekend, sort of a mini arts festival. One of the organizers, a good friend of mine, asked me if she should send me photos that she took, you know, to help promote the event! I would post them on the social media pages, which I sometimes still dabble in, just to keep them alive.

I told her no, that I didn’t want to go there and start that again, besides, I deleted all the emails associated with the Grapevine and I certainly didn’t want her to text me the pics and I don’t want to be pressured or obligated, like I was for 15 long years.

I am proud that people still miss the publication. But it’s all about Tomversation now! Read this blog instead!! You can subscribe here: Click here. 

Today is ‘Tom Falco Day’

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Last year – February 14, 2020, was declared “Tom Falco Day” in the City of Miami. It’s hard to believe it has only been a year. While this past year seemed to fly by, in some instances it felt like 10 years in one! It is hard to believe this was only 12 months ago.

Last Feb. 14, I received a proclamation that says this date is mine! It may be Valentine’s Day to you, but to me it’s this. It may be just that one day last year, but I am claiming it in perpetuity so every February 14 is Tom Falco Day! That’s me at left with one of our City Commissioners, Ken Russell.

For 15 years I published the news and was an activist in our little village and I decided to end the publication that month. And it was so great of Ken and the local government, including the BID, to do this for me. So many of my friends and townspeople came out, such memories. It was bittersweet. It was so nice to see so many faces.

It was sort of a surprise, so I didn’t invite family or anyone. I was just told to show up Friday afternoon at 4 pm. I knew something was up, but not what, I knew enough to throw a jacket in the back of my car, just in case.

Not publishing the news every day is a lot off my shoulders, it was a big responsibility. Ending that responsibility felt like it was the last day of school. Forever! I remember that feeling.

I’m still around, I see the same people every day, but I’m part of the community now, I blend in, I’m not in everyone’s business. I like it this way.

Anyway, Happy Valentine’s Day Tom Falco Day!

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The Brooklyn t-shirt

This Travels With Farley comic strip appeared on January 31, 1978. I follow the old strips on Facebook.

I laughed when I saw it because, well, because I always laugh at Farley, but also, it reminded me of an old t-shirt I had that said in big bold letters, “BROOKLYN.” I bought it at a local Gap store here in Miami and every time I wore it, strangers would come up to me and want to talk about Brooklyn! Sort of like Beethoven here.

Once I wore it to the mall. I was at the food court at International Mall in Miami, with my friend Jorge, and people kept coming up to me separately asking me about Brooklyn – where was I from, where was I born in Brooklyn, how is it today, they hadn’t been back in a long time, etc. Crazy!

I don’t remember what I told them, I think I said, “I’m not from Brooklyn, I got the shirt at The Gap.” Funny thing is I wear a lot of shirts that say, “New York” but no one comments – but this one Brooklyn shirt – fugetaboutit!

Truth is, I WAS born in Brooklyn, but we left when I was three! Yes, I’ve been back 100 times since then, but I didn’t really feel like talking about it with strangers who saw the word on a t-shirt.

The Beethoven reference here always reminds me of comic ideas I have but they have already been used by so many people. Like “Beethoven’s Fifth” and having a bottle of liquor and Beethoven lying drunk over it, or something like that.

I’m making travel plans

I started making travel plans for the year. It’s been so long since I’ve been on a plane. Heck, it’s been so long since I left my city, I hardly left the zip code, this past year!

I made plans for NY for this upcoming summer. I usually spend part of June and July there, I miss my cousins and aunt and uncle. We do a lot together in the summer, actually we do a lot all during the year. We’ve been on the phone and face time a lot this year, compensating for lost time.

We spend time in the city, The Hamptons and Montauk.

Some of us were planning on spending time in Italy during the upcoming summer, but I think it might be best to wait before heading out of the country. Baby steps.

I also am in the process of making my Thanksgiving plans. Yes, already. I’d like to visit Boston and then take the train down to New York after a few days. Love that train trip, I wrote about it here one time.

Molly and me on our way to The Hamptons.

I am still up in the air about October and ComicCon. I’m not sure if it’s on this year, although I assume by October it will be ok to attend and I do love going apple and pumpkin picking in the Hudson Valley in October, so maybe I’ll plan that trip next.

Crossing my fingers that nothing has to be cancelled. But my premonitions are telling me that things will go well this year.

Weird Thanksgiving this year

Central Park, Nov. 2016

So I was alone for Thanksgiving! First time ever. It was weird, sort of like the first time I ever spent New Year’s Eve alone. That I have grown to like, I don’t think I’ll ever grow to like being alone on Thanksgiving. But this year I did it.

I’m usually in New York for Thanksgiving. This year I was going to do my Boston thing and take the train down to NY, but it was not to be. My family was at my nephew’s house. He and his wife moved in to a big new house recently and they sort of took over family holidays I think, so I should have been there, but I kept hearing on tv that we should be mindful of others and not go to family gatherings unless we physically live with the people.

I had been to their house earlier in the year and to my other nephew’s house earlier this year, too, when we should not have been. They both had birthday parties for their young daughters who I don’t think will ever remember the parties, they are too young, and these parties had upwards of 50 people each! And each time I went, I regretted it later.

So regarding Thanksgiving, I felt that even if there were only going to be a few of us, maybe 15 people or less, it wasn’t a good idea to go. I get premonitions and I got one that told me not to go. My gut was telling me not to tempt fate. Thankfully I made it through those two birthday parties unscathed,and it’s not a good idea to play with mother nature or question your gut feelings.

I spoke with my cousins and aunt and uncle in New York earlier in the day. I really miss our yearly tradition. It’s been a thing since I have been in high school – almost every year in New York. My mother always would complain that I was the only person who left their family for the holidays, meaning I would leave them here to go up north. And I would say, “Mom, I am here for every other holiday!”

I would go to the Macy’s parade; a few years ago it was 17 degrees! I was proud of that one, reminds me of when my cousins and I would go as kids – we would get cocoa at McDonald’s to warm up those days. Anyway, now I have the same routine – I would go to the parade, leave that a bit early, maybe 11:30 or so, get on the train at Grand Central and one of my cousins would pick me up at the next stop in Queens – Vernon-Jackson – in Long Island City.

We would go to her house and have bagels, pastries and coffee, then we would watch the dog show which comes on after the parade. I find the dog show boring, but I would get into it and watch with them. At 2 pm, we would head over to my other cousin’s house for Thanksgiving dinner and everyone else would be there, there would be maybe 20 of us in total. I miss that. All of it, even the boring dog show.

But this year I was at neither place for Thanksgiving. And I didn’t mind. I am counting the days until next year. But for now I’m content.

Last year at the end of November, I had to leave NY early – a nor’easter was coming and I had to get out three days earlier than I had planned. The airline contacted me and had me reschedule. Seems like yesterday, and that sort of consoles me thinking that next year will be here before you know it. Although I’m sure I don’t want to the year to rush by, but I do wish 2020 would end already.

It’s funny because last year, a friend of mine in New York missed Thanksgiving. He said his family left for their relatives without him because he overslept. I don’t understand that, but I said to him, “How did you miss Thanksgiving? Who does that?” And here we are a year later, and I did it!

I did have McDonald’s this year – but it wasn’t cocoa – it was burgers. That was my Thanksgiving dinner, instead of turkey. Life is strange.

Hanging coffees

I give money to people who ask for it when I’m walking around New York and I have also bought meals for people who look like they need it, and this Hanging Coffee idea from Suspended Coffees on Facebook is a great idea, especially with winter coming on.

There is a little coffee shop, where two people arrive and approached the counter.
“Five coffees ☕️ please. Two for us and three hanging.”
They paid, they took their two coffees and left.
I asked the waiter. “What’s this about hanging coffees?”
“Wait and you’ll see.”
Some more people came in.
Two girls asked for a coffee each, they paid & left.
The following order was for seven coffees and it was made by three women – ‘three for them and four hanging coffees.’
I was left wondering…what is the meaning of the hanging coffees, they leave.
Then, a man dressed in worn clothes, who looks like he might be homeless, arrives at the counter and asks sincerely…
“Do you have a coffee hanging?”
“Yes we do, sir.”
They serve him a coffee…. I got my answer.
People pay in advance for a coffee that will be served to whoever can’t afford a hot drink.
This tradition started in Naples.
Amazingly, it has spread throughout the world’s cities and towns.
It’s also possible to order not only “hanging coffees” but also a sandwich or a full low cost meal.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could all start doing this in the cities and towns where we live?

Small kindnesses like this can impact so many lives, in ways we could never imagine.

Maybe we should all try it. 😊

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