Tag Archive: nyc


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I watch as:
Someone’s tragic windblown umbrella;

Ambles the edge of concrete and asphalt,

Like a drunk crab trolling along

The beach tidal borderline.

Imagine I am not at the bus stop.

 

I close my eyes on the commuter train.

Dreaming a snow crab voice-over

I once read for Red Lobster.

A beach bird, umbrella and then me at the

Bus stop again trying not to get,

Blown down the curb of life’s boulevard;
Walking the best that I can,
Often lost, alone and crabby.
Pushing to catch that last wave

Towards the needed pot of gold.

 

These mercurial March mornings,

I awaken to a new bird-call of spring daily

In this old and new former place.

Where I exist in spite of failure’s frustration;

In the temporary solitude of the barrel of many Indies,

Among those of you who I do not want to see.

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It is not every day that a man survives to become sixty years old in these days and times. Ok, maybe it is “everyday”, but not for me. It is once in a lifetime and I never thought I’d be this age! lol
In-fact, one could argue that it is increasingly rare for we, the single Baby Boomers to do so. So, as part of my “big six-oh” [60] birthday “me time” hideaway, I wanted to do something significant since my fiancée`, Inna and I are still financially separated by the Atlantic ocean and part of this mission was to distract myself from that briefly and satisfy a “pasta attack” (craving/yearning) that I’d endured for a couple of months.
I went online and searched the neighborhood where my “secret” weekend room was located and I found Saggio Restaurant, 829 W 181st Street, New York, NY 10033 (212) 795-3080. From the “Google maps” analysis, it looked to be an about five to seven block walk away and so I decided to find it the next day, a Sunday, January 20th. Isn’t the internet “wonderful” for making us even lazier about finding places?! In this case, it was a laptop convenience!

It was a sunny and blustery day as I struck out on foot with Saggio in my sights. I walked north on St. Nicholas Avenue until 181st Street, where I turned left to walk west, up growing hills. New York City is amazing because of how the complexion of the neighborhoods can change almost block-by-block. I walked from a mostly Dominican hood into a new Russian and then Italian area by the time I found Saggio and heard all of the languages along the way (which is my “deal” these days – linguistics).
The adventure was in the discovery in an area that I’d never hunted in by foot before! When I finally found the numerical address of Saggio, I was pleasantly satisfied that I found a place that not “everybody” would know about; truly in-keeping with my sixtieth “hideaway” theme.
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Saggio has an outer door shield against the cold this season. I can only imagine that they probably have outdoor “café” tables with umbrellas during the warmer months. Once inside, the bar is on the right as I was greeted by the seating femme maitre d’. I declined her choice of table, preferring the “window seat” near the 181st Street entrance I had walked to and from which I could see the majestic Manhattan stanchion of the George Washington bridge that I saw from the street.
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It was only moments until I was greeted by “Emily” my smiling and attentive authentic Italian waitress, who even brought me the lunch specials on the big black chalkboard as well as the regular table menu for dinner! She really fit the mold for this setting and in-fact she suggested that I do this review when I mentioned my past experience as a food critic!
I was torn between the steamed Mussels and a Pasta dish called “Rigatoni grandma’s recipe of slow cooked ragu with meatballs and Italian sausage”. I chose the latter with a side of sautéed spinach (“yum in garlic, olive oil and butter!) and a glass of their house red vino, but let Emily know that when we return, she’ll already know I am having the Mussels next time! The sauce was not as “Marinara” as I would make, but authentic; the meatballs and sausage just what I craved that early afternoon and I savored every bit amongst private thoughts and plans I have for the rest of my days and to incorporate my lady who has awaited [my] kiss for longer than many would overseas I think. “Yes, we will dine here…” I thought with confidence.
No overpowering music, just enough din and friendly patrons and service made my Saggio choice an excellent one that will make this anniversary all the more memorable.

upon leaving, a second look back and thoughts of you

upon leaving, a second look back and thoughts of you


I used to review restaurants and produce them in audio as part of my chores manning the “Awl Nyte Flyte” radio show on WFTQ AM, Worcester, MA thirty years ago. If I were still in that capacity, I would give Saggio four out of five stars only because I had to ask for bread to mop-up the great pasta sauce left after all the pasta, sausage and meatballs were gone.
Check out Saggio Italian restaurant, between Lafayette and Cabrini Boulevard. Please note that they have an extra-tasty and unique brunch menu! I made a mental note to definitely return here – it is that intimate…and special a place.

LenaHorne-SongsByBurkeVanHeusen.jpg image by millerwindy

I figure since there is such a plethora of Lena Horne posts, that I will chime-in  to drop science on how I came to know Lena after my Dad won her albums as part of an RCA Records collection and “brand new RCA COLOR TV” ( back when they had vacuum tubes inside) on “The Price Is Right” back in 1962.  Therefore, I offer you some friendly cheerfulness via my vinyl Lena Horne tribute.  Here is an album cover that is amongst the ones he won. 

 My Aunts and Uncles’ conversations at family gatherings, always mentioned that Lena was “passing” [for a white woman] sometimes [ light-skinned blacks did that back then to gain acceptance in the general market ] and yet, there was a grudging respect and envy of her by my Aunts, especially.  According to Lena’s daughter, Gail Lumet Buckley, her mother never tried to do that, but was often a frustrated forerunner of the movement to equality as she tried to navigate her career while staying true to herself and the mentoring of Paul Robeson.  My most recent memory is when she shook my hand and autographed my program for the 1994 Impact Radio Music Convention in Atlantic City shortly after she was on the dais introducing radio icon Hal Jackson at the radio Legends Dinner – in fact I have her lovely voice on one of my “on-location diary” tapes from that evening.  I promptly gave that autographed piece to my Mum – who doesn’t really know where it is now – and which most likely was destroyed in a house fire back there where I grew up,  in 2000.   Here is another my Dad won in the collection:

 Nevertheless, I was Sooo surprised and thrilled to meet and talk to her garcious presence one-on-one as if she was a member of the family,  on my older family’s behalf that evening at the convention!

Annd here’s another cover of a great Lena album my family has:

Ms. Horne was always a beautiful and classy lady and performer/advocate for civil rights and equality for Black Americans when there was none and even  she  was ushered through the back door to perform in front of predominately Caucasian audiences.  I am glad it outraged her, inspiring her to achieve change, and current “stars” like Whitney Houston (who I used to admire with a crush) would serve themselves well to mold their images in Lena’s likeness.  Here is her house which still stands near my parents’ house in St. Albans, Queens :

And so NOW…again, “for something completely different” and upon whose beautiful and progressive shoulders many performers who are “darker than blue” stand …I reviewed Heather Johnson‘s CD  for the dance music web column several weeks back, and it is my Mid-May 2010 gift to you, on behalf of Ms. Horne. 

I always know a smash when after reviewing it, I keep playing it weeks and months later while outside on my front porch in “chill/research/study mode”. 

You’ll probably come back to this track a few times until you are hooked – it’s alright; it is infectious!  “May I have this dance?”

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