Sunday, June 24, 2018

Ultimate Doo-Wop

I took Jo and the boys to the Ultimate Doo-Wop Show at the Beacon Theater this weekend.

There are very few original members of the old Doo-Wop groups from the late '50s and early '60s still performing, and that's kind of why I wanted to go. I suspected Samuel and Ethan would be the youngest people there. (They were. I think Jo and I were second youngest.)

In order of appearance:

The Harptones. They didn't have any big hits in the '50s; their claim to fame is that they have one surviving original member, who is probably 90, and he still sings!

Willie Rogers from the Soul Stirrers. They were a Gospel/Doo-Wop group. Their claim to fame was that Sam Cooke was a member in the early '50s before he went solo. Not sure how old Willie is, but his voice is still great--he sang an old Sam Cooke song, "A Change is Gonna Come." A+.

The Spaniels sang "Goodnight, Sweetheart," but there are no original members in the group, so it was more like a tribute band.

Shades of Blue sang "Oh How Happy," their sole hit from the '60s. Like The Spaniels, they had no original members.

The Marvelettes sang "Mr. Postman." They had one original member, who walked slowly with a cane and had to be helped on and offstage by the others. Not much left of her voice, but she got a loud round of applause.

The Tokens sang "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" with their original lead singer, Jay Siegel. He was great--they were great. This was the highlight of the show. A+

Joey Dee sang "Peppermint Twist." It was entertaining--he even showed some dance moves--but I don't consider him Doo-Wop.

The Coasters sang "Poison Ivy" and "Charlie Brown," but with no original members.

Finally, Lou Christie sang "Lightning Strikes." He can still hit the high notes, but, like Joey Dee, it would be a stretch to call him Doo-Wop!

Ethan hated it. Samuel tolerated it. Jo was smiling and clapping the whole show, even doing the hand motions along with the dancers. She definitely gets the "Good Sport" prize. 

I doubt if we'll be back next year, but I'm glad we went.

Monday, June 18, 2018


When people think of the Central Park reservoir, they think of this:

But there was a smaller reservoir just to the south--where the softball fields are in the picture above. It extended from 86th Street to Belvedere Castle, just north of 79th Street. 

It became obsolete and was drained in 1930. But by then the Depression had set in, and the dry lake bed became a "Hooverville"--a community for the unemployed and homeless.

Here's a Then and Now:

What a difference 90 years makes.

Is this a great city or what?

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Every day is Father's Day

When I'm on my deathbed looking back at life, these two boys sitting across from me at EJ's are what I'll be most proud of.

Most of us aren't going to cure cancer. (Which would be impossible anyway, because once somebody does it, by definition the rest of us can't.) What I mean is, if we measure the worth of our lives by worldly accomplishments, most of us are going to be disappointed. Those who are most driven to accomplish lofty goals are going to be the most disappointed, because they are perfectionists. They will be upset that they only cured a mild form of cancer. And they may be so driven by external goals that they may suck at personal relationships--being a husband, a dad, a decent human being.

I'm blessed to write books that make toddlers laugh. That's as lofty as it's going to get for me in terms of external accomplishments.

But in terms of what I've really done for the world, it's these two boys. I hope they will spend their lives loving other people and making the world better by being here.

I feel like I moved humanity forward by twenty baby steps, and I'm not a perfectionist, so that's good enough for me.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Flushing, Queens

Jo and I went on an adventure to Flushing yesterday. Flushing's Chinatown is even larger than Manhattan's Chinatown. According to Jo, Flushing is mostly first generation, and growing, whereas Manhattan's Chinatown is third generation, and shrinking.

It was fun hearing Jo speak Mandarin to shopkeepers.

We did not buy pig heads or duck heads, but I took pictures for Samuel and Ethan.

And guess what we found at the Flushing library?

Back on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, we celebrated the day (and Ethan's ACT test completion) guessed it...Italian.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Times Square BBQ

Perfect Friday night for BBQ. Ethan was staying with his mom to study for the ACT the next day, so it was just me, Jo, and Samuel. We opted for Virgil's, in Times Square.

This is our "We ate too much" look.

In the Times Square subway station we saw a Beatles cover band that looked like they'd escaped from a senior citizen's center, and they were so good that we danced a few calories off.