Saturday, January 25, 2014

Take Me Out to the Ballgame - from Santo Domingo to NYC

Play ball! The baseball fields of Inwood Hill Park come alive during the summer months when local Little League and adult teams hit the diamond. The Inwood Little League sponsors a team from the Dominican Republic each summer and this talented group enthralled the crowds that gathered to watch. Once the season ends, the baseball fields stand empty and ghostly in the fog. Enjoy this salute to summer!

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Take Me Out to the Ballgame - William Mulligan Sings!

This timeless song is sung by none other than William Mulligan who brings a unique spin to this classic song. Shot on location in Inwood Hill Park in upper Manhattan and featuring the vocals of the Inwood Geese.

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Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Inwood's Second Annual Three Kings Day Parade

There were sheep, camels, a donkey named Ted, the I.S. 52 marching band, toys, one restaurant, three kings, one senator, grilled cheese sandwiches, one small bridge, and a suggestion by one local (cough) to add a queen to the Three Kings Day festivities next year. Why not? We're uptown, where you get to write your own story.

Landon plotting his great escape to a rent stabilized apartment on Dyckman Street

Due to the rain, the parade was moved indoors to La Marina. The very photogenic four-legged creatures remained outdoors and gamely posed for photos in front of the George Washington Bridge. I was reunited with Landon the sheep who stars on my iPhone screensaver, a friendly face from our walk together from one end of Dyckman to the other in last year's parade. His sheepish companion, Nikki, was agreeable to posing with two of my woolen scarves.

This was the closest most of us - adults and kids alike - have been to sheep, camels, and Ted this year. They traveled all the way from an upstate sanctuary to La Marina. The crowd received toys (the kids only), lunch, several musical selections from the band which gets better every year, an opportunity to meet Senator Adriano Espaillat, visit a local restaurant, have their faces painted, and best of all, meet and greet the animals. The camels were a little snippy, Ted seemed a bit aloof, and the sheep seemed ready to follow anyone and huddled together for warmth at the end of the event.

Senator Adriano Espaillat and friends

Dromedary ready for his closeup

Looking natty!

Before he started nibbling on my bag. . .

Two kings (Fernando Mateo, Adriano Espaillat), a flock of sheep and a disco king

Well, someone had to do it.

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Monday, January 06, 2014

Come On Over to My House, Bill and Chirlane

Dear Bill and Chirlane,

I just wanted to say thank you so much for the invitation to your new home at Gracie Mansion – and welcome to the island of Manhattan!

While I did stop by and enjoyed seeing my fellow New Yorkers of different shapes, sizes, styles, and colors, unfortunately, I’m not someone who enjoys standing on line. I did take some very nice photos of others who did but two hours is just not my thing. My favorite part of my visit to the promenade outside of the mansion was having the slippery walkway salted by a city worker who gamely threw the salt at my feet as if he were throwing rose petals. While maybe not romantic it was certainly thoughtful. I missed the opportunity to check out what’s in your medicine cabinet, find out who will be taking out the garbage, and rummaging through the refrigerator for a snack. Next time.

So after walking around a bit, I removed myself from the festivities and walked over to Chickie’s on 86 Street for a chicken gyro. Have been going there for years and the chicken is really pretty good. They have a Super Bowl special, too. You may want to check them out.

Since we’re practically neighbors, the only mannerly thing to do is to return the invitation and invite you over to my home for a visit. Why don’t you get settled in and then head uptown? Hopefully, my obsessive-compulsive neighbor will have cleaned the entranceway to my building and the elevator will have stopped lurching and jumping each time it stops. The good news is that there’s no waiting on line in mi casa except for the fact that I have one bathroom. We can all cope with this, I’m sure. And lucky for you, I’ve just about finished my yearly housecleaning so my home is spic and span and ready for company.

The one thing is, though, you can’t visit my home without being fed. I’ll do a brisket from Bob the Butcher (he sounds like a mob boss but the only thing he executes is meat) if you guys bring the salad. I’ve just figured out how my slow cooker works and what the “warm” button does. We’ll manage. I hope you like good old New York City tap water (does it taste the same in Brooklyn?) and I can get some root beer, if you'd like. If you have any dietary requests, please let me know. Not sure what side dish to prepare but I'll think of something. Everything goes better with feta cheese so I’ll pick some up.

I presume you'll be traveling with bodyguards who will have vetted this letter (references available upon request) so just let me know how many to expect. My apartment is egalitarian (translated: small) which means everyone eats together. My chairs, plates, and silverware don't all match and my vintage red formica kitchen table is a little wobbly but you must have other concerns..

While my humble rent stabilized apartment is not decorated with the antiques of Gracie Mansion, I guarantee that you will be riveted by my growing collection of tchotchkes; books about boxing and James Thurber; sculptures from Africa, the Museum of American Folk Art and my own;  and numerous finds from neighbors, thrifts shops, and Etsy craftspeople. You’ll love the carved wooden pig wearing pearls which gives new meaning to pearls before swine, robotic cats made of recycled materials, and the antique barbershop chair covered in Marimekko fabric. A warning: Please don't touch the handmade clothing rack made of pipes in the bedroom. It might fall over. You’ll see that I have many books but they are not available for lending, should you be inclined to ask. No, I don’t have any cats. We’ll watch some of my videos on YouTube after the Jiffy Pop has popped and I’ve prepared my outstanding chocolate malteds. When you watch the videos, you’ll find out more about the people who live in our two cities. There's one with a young man who's a guidance counselor by day/drag queen by night and a Holocaust survivor from Washington Heights. You know, when I think about it, there's more than two cities here.

Allow me to let you get back to the business of running our city. On a final note, the last time I had people over, someone removed a rare spoon into their possession, a fight ensued, and the strawberry shortcake landed behind my desk. I know this won’t happen when you’re here. Your security team will take care of any squabbles, I'm sure, and I won't be serving strawberry shortcake.

So let me know when you're free!

Oh, and one other thing. Please remove your shoes at the door. 

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