Monday, May 30, 2016

Coney Island 2016

And you know what? It was fun.

Coney Island is like an old Jaguar XKE that is completely rusted out, no longer runs, and is in a garage filled with rats. There's no reason to see it twice, and yet you can't help it--because it's an old XKE.

I've been going to Coney Island every year or two since 1987, and every time I go I think it will be my last. So here are a few nice things I'm going to say about Coney Island in 2016:

Like NYC as a whole, it is nicer than it has ever been. I should amend that: It's as nice as it's probably been in the last 75 years. 

The Stillwell Avenue subway terminal is still a bit seedy, but no longer scary. It's almost sorta clean in some spots.

Quite a few storefronts along Surf Avenue are still boarded up, including the entire Shore Hotel. But no longer Warriors-like.

Nathan's across the street? It's celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. None the worse for wear...good enough for corn dogs and chili cheese dogs.

The boardwalk was crowded. A few bikers and druggies and seedy looking folks, but for the most part it was families. 

The beach still had some litter and some glass, but nothing like a decade ago when you could literally take a sand pail along the water's edge and fill it in about 5 minutes with shards of glass.  

Fog rolled in as soon as we got there (see top photo, with Wonder Wheel obscured in the background), and the ocean was freezing, so Samuel and I dipped our toes and that was it. (I asked Ethan if he wanted to join us. He said, "Nothing good ever comes from going in the water.")

The new Luna Park amusement area is 10 times nicer than rusty old Astroland, which it replaced a few years back. 

As far as beaches go, there's no reason to go here rather than Jones Beach or Fire Island or the Hamptons. As far as amusements go, there's no reason to go here rather than Six Flags or Rye Playland or Lake Compounce.

So I'm damning with faint praise. But...I've gotta give it a thumbs up this year. We won't be back again in 2016, but...we'll probably be back.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Top 10 Expired Food Items in Our Kitchen Cabinet

I've helpfully added Jennifer's thoughts when purchasing each item.

#10. Goya Black Beans. April 2015. "You never know when a big storm might come that makes it impossible to walk the hundred yards to the deli, and everyone might be craving black beans. I'd better get five cans. No, six. No, wait..."

#9. Betty Crocker Au Gratin Potatoes. August 2014. "You know what? I don't think we have any potato mix-type stuff in the house. Better hide this in the back of the cabinet--if the boys see it it'll be gone by Monday!"

#8. Betty Crocker Three Cheese Potatoes. June 2014. "Hmmm...Au Gratin or Three Cheese? Au Gratin or Three Cheese?" 

#7. Bella Famiglia Cavatappi. October 2013. "Hmmm...this sounds exotic. I'll have Pat make it for the boys this week."

#6. Starkist Tuna, 3 cans. 2015, 2014, 2013. "I think we need more tuna." "I think we need more tuna." "I think we need more tuna."

#5. Capers. April 2013. "We go through capers so quickly."

#4. Jello. March 2013. "I'd like to start getting some healthier deserts for Todd and the boys. And, oh, I like that Bill Cosby."

#3. Kuner's SW Black Beans. September 2012. "You know what sounds good? Black beans. We might already have a few cans at home. But wait--what's this? Cumin? AND chili spices?"

#2. Crystal Light. August 2012. "The boys will need lots of cold drinks when they get home from their playdates this summer."

#1. Goya Chick Peas/Garbanzos. March 2012. "Wouldn't it be funny if I just started randomly tossing shit into the shopping cart? Then, when Todd complains, I'll be all, 'Do YOU wanna buy the groceries?'"

The Aftermath: Top shelf was out of reach. Saving for another day.


#nojudgments #hoardersneedlovetoo

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Little City

I had a reading on Saturday morning at Little City Books in Hoboken.

Just a few folks, but a nice mix of babies, toddlers and slightly bigger kids.

Like most authors, I have to recruit my own friends and family in order to have enough people in the audience to make a baseball team. Even the signage basically said, "Hey, some author is going to be here."

So it's not like they had to hire extra security for crowd control or anything.

But it's a way for an indie bookstore and a modestly known author to promote each other on Facebook and maybe draw a few folks into the store on a Saturday morning or have them linger an extra twenty minutes if they're already there.

For me it's simply a kid fix. I wouldn't even care if it were someone else's books. It makes me happy to hang out with energetic little kids who tumble around on the floor and don't sit still and wander over to slobber on you while you're reading. Never under-estimate the healing powers of baby slobber.

It also makes me happy to be with parents who are thoughtful enough to bring their children to a bookstore on a Saturday morning, and with people who are passionate enough and crazy enough to run a bookstore.

We should all spend more of our short time on Earth hanging out with positive people instead of a-holes, right? If I've learned one thing in life....

As it happens, Fin and Ella came all the way from Pennsylvania. I'm not exactly sure what the actual term is for my mother's sister's husband's sister's daughter's kids, but let's call them my sixteenth cousins twice removed. It is always fun to see them. 

We hung out afterwards at the local pizzeria.

There are much worse ways to begin a weekend.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

What I did this weekend

So a couple of months ago a city inspector came by our building (that is not him with the dog, but use your imagination). He said we had loose terra cotta and we had to get a scaffolding up within a few days, then hire someone to inspect the entire facade and fix the problem.

We had the scaffolding up quickly.

As suspected, the city is better at demanding other people do things quickly than it is at doing things quickly itself.

Now the scaffolding is just sitting there, uglying up our building, while we wait for city permits to be issued so that we can start the work. Here is what that process looks like:

You may recall that my big building project of 2015 was installing flower boxes on all the front windows. You don't recall that? Okay--well it was. We had mums for the fall.

The issue for the past two months: do we wait until the scaffolding is gone to put in flowers? It may be 2017.

So Jen and I spent the weekend buying and planting ivy and impatiens in the fourteen window boxes. I'm sure I screwed something up--wrong soil, not deep enough, too close together, whatever.

And they look very puny at the moment--not the huge, overflowing cornucopia I envisioned.

But we'll see.

The sad thing is that I'm sore from all the gardening. This is like such a totally old person thing in so many ways.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Happy Mother's Day

I didn't marry Jennifer because I thought she'd be a great mom, but because I thought she was a great person.

But she is a great mom. Without her, Samuel and Ethan would've had no clothes, no medical or dental histories, and probably no formal education. 

The "50%" of parenting that I contributed largely consisted of giving them airplane rides at bedtime and telling them they could absolutely have more than one puppy. So I am particularly grateful for the "50%" of parenting that she contributed. As are they.

Happy Mother's Day from the three of us.