Sunday, May 13, 2018

The Last Saturday Night at the Bull and Bear

She lives!

And by "she," I mean me.  Dear old blog, still waiting here for me to show up and care for it.  Sorry for the neglect. I have no excuse.

I was driven back because it occurred to me the other day that I might just have been a witness to history recently and I should probably write that down. Somewhere. Like here. So, here goes.

For the last four years, my daughter and I have traveled down to NYC for one weekend in February with another mother-daughter paid. We have been doing this just long enough for a few traditions to have developed.  The main one is that we have stayed at the Waldorf-Astoria.

You may have taken note of the news that the Waldorf has closed for three years for renovations. Most of the enormous building (it was the biggest hotel in the world when it opened in 1931) will be made over into condos by its owner, a Chinese insurance company.  The outside of the building has landmark status and can't be monkeyed with.  The inside - at least some of the public spaces - are (as I understand things) a topic of discussion. The last guests checked out on Wednesday, Wednesday March 1. 2017.   We checked out on Sunday, February 26, 2017. Which mean, of course, we were guests at the Waldorf Astoria for the last Saturday night of its operation.

We had made our reservations months before which was a good thing because the impending closure filled the place. It was mobbed the whole weekend. Lots of people seemed to be taking guided tours of the public spaces. The wait at check-in was painful.  The crowd (and in this I include myself) was not glamorous.  I saw one guest checking in wearing a faded sweat shirt that said "Rebels 85" on it).

The big money hotel consumers and celebrities are at  newer, sleeker places - hence the renovation. The Waldorf was owned by Hilton before the Chinese bought it and, being a Hilton, it was affordable for us. The place had been panned by more than one Trip Advisor review for being past its prime and shop worn, but I didn't mind that the chair cushions in the room were a little spavined and the base boards scuffed. I still loved it - built like a fortress enormous rooms, by NYC standards.  We have rented three rooms that connected and had a kind of mini palace.  It has atmosphere that can only come with having been around as a Park Avenue landmark since before World War II.  It is the product of imagination and of people who were doing their best to make something extraordinary.

Just off the lobby of the Waldorf-Astoria before the doors slammed shut - something kind of "The Shining" about this. Blame the photographer.

On that last Saturday night, my friend and I went for a cocktail at the storied Bull and Bear Restaurant. We had been cadging cocktail certificates all weekend. The Front Desk was looking after us... 

The Bull and Bear was crowded and a little chaotic. We managed to find a table and order something. First drink requests were not available. The bar was using up its stocks.  We had our drinks and took in the atmosphere - the fabulous square bar with a sculpture in its center, the milling crowd. It was dark and you could practically feel the old money that was being chased out by the new.  When we were done we went back to our big rooms for the last night in the Waldorf.

This year we went back and stayed at a perfectly serviceable Omni in midtown. It was fine. It was even nice - but it was just a hotel. 

Tchaikovsky String Quartet Op. 11 - II. Andante cantabile (Kontras Quartet)

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Mom's Vulgar Little Sandwich

I just came home after a morning out at church and the annual meeting at church.  I had planned to go from there to the Old Last House, which is about an hour to the north, but these last three days of wild weather (snow, thaw + melt, followed by subzero temperatures) had left many treacherous stretches on Vt Route 100.

I got as far as the Morrisville Price Chopper and decided to retreat back home after provisioning a bit.

There's nothing more pure as a Vermont experience than the Morrisville Price Chopper at noon on a freezing, bright sunny Sunday in January.  We, the rubber-booted, ball-capped, fat coated (or no coated) shoppers of northern Lamoille County were a Vermont reality that doesn't get into the brochures. It was all bad hair, cheap clothes, dry skin, all highlighted by the supermarket lighting. No.  We were not Vermont life material - maybe not even open casket material - but we are the reality. A bit of a sad one.

My daughter, who turns twenty years old today and who now lives in Montreal, has a complicated relationship with Morrisville.  She grew up in the vicinity and she likes the Chinese buffet and the McDonalds (blessedly, for her purposes, there's a drive-thru).

I bought things that were on sale and drove home carefully. The sun was doing its thing for route 100, but icy stretches will need  I came in and made a vulgar little sandwich.

I had this particular sandwich in mind as I passed up the McDonald's in Morrisville.

I had bought the "Buffalo chicken breast" deli meat that my son likes in preparation for the storm (at the Shaws in Waterbury - happier place to shop). In the Price Chopper I added some American cheese, though at least this was made in Vermont. I skipped the 99 cent version of near-American cheese food slices, so I guess it could have been worse.  I had a loaf of "hearty white" waiting on the counter - another concession to my son. I'm not sure what made it "hearty."  It looked like the white bread of my childhood.  Not an artisanal molecule - except maybe the Polish mustard by husband brought from Montreal.

I will use the Uber Eats app on my phone shortly to send my daughter something from a middle eastern restaurant in her neighborhood for her birthday.  I'm sorry not to be seeing her today but I'm glad she's up there.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Scribble, Scribble, Scribble (A Play, A Menu, And a Top Tip).

Everybody Sing!


Hello there! Sorry I've been away - mostly sorry for myself.   I'm not sure how much this writing drought of mine has mattered to other people.  I have missed it, however.

So, what's the problem, you ask? Last year I had to give up half-time work for full-time work.  (Read, "kid going to college").  Like the song says, you gotta serve somebody, and for money.

If I were sturdier and not so lazy I wouldn't be making excuses of this sort, but you can't get words from a turnip. My brain is crowded with work stuff.  Also, we bought a couch that reclines and I have a Roku.

The Play

But enough about me. Except for about that Play.  That is also about me. I wrote one! A radio play, for a contest, that I was intending to win. But I did not win, place, or show.

This was the last project I could really dig into in my part time idyll.  BBC didn't like the play, apparently, but I kind of did and I really enjoyed writing it.  So I have put it up on Figment , which is a website  for high school girls with Aspirations,  but also Margaret Atwood.  I posted the first two scenes tonight but the rest will appear within the week.  It's called "Daughter of a Brave Country" if that link doesn't you have to go hunting for it.  (I'm really sorry if that happens.  I'm honored by your willingness to click.  If the play is performed in even one head I'll be happy).

In one or two of my brighter moments lately I have had thoughts for new stories etc.  These moments are fugitive, however, (see supra note, "work-crowded brain").  All I have for you tonight that is really new is the Halloween Meal Menu I've been mentally concocting this week.

The Menu

The main dish will be "Slathery Jack."  I'm not exactly sure what this is but it's horrible.  It was served to a writer I admire during a sea voyage because the Captain had sold the actually edible provisions.

So we'll have that, along with apple solids, pumpkin spears, and German lashings for dessert!  The mulled zinc will also be flowing.   Halloween party at my house!

The Top Tip

Speaking of writers I admire, I have been thinking lately about how simple it is for really wonderful work to be invisible.  If you click the link to my Amazon review of the Slathery-Jack-eater's book, you'll get a sense of what I mean.  (Katherine Everett is her name and she was an amazing person and a really good writer).  This is not a back door way of promoting my obscure self.  I've accepted obscurity.  But I routinely run into things that I think are wonderful that no one seems to know about.

Granted what follows is a pretty crap example of this because in England the song I'm about to recommend and the band responsible for it are HUGE stars.  The band is Elbow (awful name, I agree) and the song is "One Day Like This."

Michael Caine introduced this song to me in his Desert Island Discs interview, (DID was an earlier top tip here, as you'll know if you're an old friend).   I had never heard of the band or this song before stumbling into Caine's interview.  There must be an issue with US distribution for Elbow or some other stupid reason why it took Michael Caine to play this for me instead of my local radio station.  So here's the song.  FYI, I bought the record and I play this song on Fridays, on my way home from work.

Thanks for stopping in and for reading to the end.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Come to our Fark! (Someday)

Hold on a minute while I hoist the banner.

There we go. Hello!  I'm here!

And before you ask, rest assured that the paucity of posts here on ye olde blogge has not been due to anything worse than the Roku my sister got me for Christmas two years ago.  Now - no matter what - there is always good TV to be had, or at least a good-TV search effort in which to engage.

Also there is social media. I stare at my phone all the time like the rest of us. (Except for you high quality individuals who still read blogs and  probably listen to CDs and don't have internet TV or Twitter accounts).  Query- is there a relationship between this (tedious) vogue for zombies and phone-staring?

My old blogging friend Nan recently decamped from Facebook and retreated to her own dear old blogging project.  I don't know if I'm ready to cut the FB cord, but I must say that there is something in the rhythm of this that is nice and actually it feels like the Library of Congress in terms of stability and substance next to Twitter and FB.

Enough about that now. I actually sat down to write here tonight because I had a thought that wouldn't fit into 140 characters.  The thought doesn't deserve much more than that but I write things down.

I was driving home from work today and thinking that someday, perhaps, as a retirement project we might actually farm the old farm that we have owned, lo these many years (since 1993).

We have always rented the farm land to an actual farmer and made do with our catastrophic (mostly) gardening and lawn mowing or crouched in the old house there.  But who knows?  Maybe I'm a future farmer.  My next thought was, "well, I wouldn't really want all the land to be fields - I'd like some of it to be landscaped, like a park.  This is what I will do with my lottery winnings."  Then I thought, "well, maybe some farming and some parkland is what my future (rich) self should aim to achieve.  A 'fark' that's what I'm after." That will make you want to come visit, won't it?

Here's a picture of the old fark as it currently appears.  Not bad.

Cheers.  Thanks for not completely abandoning the last house.  (By the way, my Twitter handle is @woolfoot if you want to follow along there...)