Friday, April 22, 2011

Before & After

The foot surgery has been over for two and a half months now, and until I can walk without pain or lurching, I am going to take comfort from the things that made it almost worthwhile. Chief among those was:

Taxis. Taking taxis is an expensive habit and, once acquired, hard to break. The commute to Times Square cost anywhere from eight to twelve dollars (including tip). The best, most efficient drivers got screwed, because I calculated the tip from the meter. Only one driver asked me what route I wanted to take. Coincidentally, he was also the only driver who was a native-born American, and the only one who asked me what happened to my foot. Others were Greek and Egyptian and Indian and Algerian and Tibetan and Pakistani and Bangladeshi. One driver took me straight up Park to 42nd and then couldn’t make a left turn, so I had to take a crosstown bus the rest of the way. Another took me to Herald Square instead of Times Square, and then had to go over to Eighth Avenue to get uptown and couldn’t make a right turn onto 42nd, so I had to limp from there. For some reason, I thought he was Samoan.

The scooter was a big hit around the office. I tried taking it out on the street, but it had no shock absorbers, and rattling over the city sidewalks was pretty bone-jarring. I soon learned to use it only for essential errands, like exchanging cat food when Petco delivered a case of the wrong stuff.

Home delivery is one of the things I had been saving for extreme old age, but no longer. I don’t know if I can be bothered to carry home my own groceries ever again. It’s so easy: I call, give my order to a surprisingly smart girl, she picks out the biggest bunch of bananas in the store, the guy shows up with a twenty-pound bag of cat litter, I tip him, and I end up saving money because if I went to the store myself, even if I picked out a smaller bunch of bananas and bought only a ten-pound bag of litter, I’d end up spending more because I'd buy all kinds of things that weren’t on my list. Home delivery from Petco did not work out that well (see above, under Scooter). You know how the cashiers are always on the phone when you’re trying to check out? Well, it wasn't with me. I was on hold in the hamster department.

Sneakers: Before this winter, I had never worn sneakers to the office. I have never been one to overdress for work, but under doctor's orders to wear sneakers, I found myself sinking to new sartorial lows to make the sneakers blend in. I observed not only Casual Friday but also Casual February, March, and April.

It is almost impossible to get a taxi in Times Square, so to get home from work I have had to resort to buses—another thing that, like home delivery and matinees, I was saving for old age. Now that I can take the subway again, guess what: I prefer not to. I like the bus. I like to sit up front in one of the seats reserved for the handicapped and look out the window. I used to think buses were too slow, but if you're not going far, it doesn't take that long, and a bus ride is blissfully quiet compared with the subway. Once, my bus got rerouted from Fifth to Seventh, and instead of getting irritable I realized I could transfer to a crosstown bus that would let me off even closer to home. A woman with her leg in a cast got on at Fifth Avenue and sat down next to me, and I recognized her: she was a friend of a friend—I'd been to her place for dinner, and I'd heard that she had killer shin splints or something. We thought it was hilarious that our various ailments had landed us both on the same bus. She'd been on a Fifth Avenue bus, and knew that my bus had been rerouted because of a fire—flames were shooting out of the top of a building. You would never find this kind of camaraderie in the subway.

Baby Dee's Spring Tour

Baby Dee's new CD "Regifted LIght" was recorded at her home in Cleveland, Ohio, on the Steinway grand on loan from Andrew W.K., who produced the album. Also with Matthew Robinson on cello and members of Mucca Pazza, the fabulous Chicago-based marching band, on bassoon, glockenspiel, melodica, sousaphone, and more. The lovely cover art, by Christina de Vos (above), was inspired by Dee's slug songs. For interviews and photos, visit Baby Dee's Official Web Site (link at left).

I am looking forward to the show at Joe's Pub, on May 10th. The house concert in Cleveland, on May 12th, is going to be the event of the season. I don't know where Nelsonville, Ohio, is, but all ye in the Columbus area, put it on your calendars: "Baby Dee—May 14th!" Dee is talking about playing the whole album, straight through. Members of Mucca Pazza will be along on the tour.

Hooray for Baby Dee!

May 04 The Strutt Kalamazoo MI
May 05 The Hideout Chicago IL
May 06 Andy Warhol Museum Pittsburgh PA
May 07 The Music Gallery Toronto Ontario Canada
May 08 Casa Del Popolo Montreal Canada
May 09 Cafe 939 Boston MA
May 10 Joe's Pub New York NY
May 11 First Unitarian Side Chapel Philadelphia, PA
May 12 House Concert Cleveland, Ohio
May 13 Cliff Bell's Detroit MI w/ Raw Truth Ensemble
May 14 Nelsonville Music Festival Nelsonville OH

Monday, April 18, 2011


In the spirit of Tax Day, my New Hampshire friend points out that I miscalculated the amount she spent on parking back in February, when she devised her own parking strategies, independent of my hectoring. Metered parking on my street costs 50 cents for 12 minutes. That’s $2.50 an hour (or ten quarters)—not, as I wrote, $5 an hour. So for four hours of metered parking—one hour the first morning and three hours on the morning she left, running down to feed the meter hourly between episodes of “Top Chef”—the grand total came to ten dollars (or forty quarters), half the amount I reported. I stand corrected.

She would also like me to point out that it was well worth that amount—and the trouble of collecting quarters and watching the clock—not to have to schlep her luggage to a free parking spot several blocks away. (She does not travel light.) I could have countered that it would have been possible, if she had parked at some distance, to drive back to my street and pack the car before getting on the road. I saved my breath, however, because I knew she might not be able to find a spot on her return, and then I’d never hear the end of it.

Alternate side parking is suspended for the rest of the week and on into next week, for Passover and Easter. Spring is in the air, the price of gas has shot way up, and it’s time to bring the Éclair back to the city.