Alexis and I are in New York City visiting our daughter, Jeanie. We’re staying at her apartment in Queens. We woke up to a sparkly sunny day and went to eat some breakfast at a Moroccan place near Crescent and 30th Street. I don’t remember the name of it. It’s something like Montreaux. As we sat in this relatively small establishment waiting for our food, we watched Moroccan TV. More specifically, we watched Moroccan music videos. One of the women in one of the videos must be a huge star in Morocco. She did a song about a guy really wanting her. There’s a line that she lip synchs –
This extremely sultry star of Moroccan TV winks at the camera as she says it. This certainly wasn’t the highlight of the day, but it was a really good moment. Alexis, my wife, and I haven’t been together with our daughter, Jeanie, for months. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and moved to the The Big Apple. This was, in the beginning, completely distressing.
It is actually the repeat of an earlier distress. My little sister, Allison, who is 10 years younger than I am, went to Northwestern, where she met a guy from Long Island, John Mark Kovacs. After graduation and a couple years in Chicago, they moved to Long Island. They have been there ever since.
“New York guys don’t leave New York,” my wife reminds me. Whether this is true or not, I don’t know. But I rarely see my sister. She and I at one time were very close, despite the age difference. She has three kids that I miss with all of my heart. Don’t get me wrong. I am a completely fortunate radio guy. I talk on the radio every day on the same street that my ancestors walked down 140 years ago. I am not making this up. But one of the few misgivings in this life of local radio is that I rarely get to spend any moments with my youngest sister and her family.
Further, my sister rarely brings her husband and the three kids – Alex, Lisa and Marie - anywhere near the Dedelow compound in the Region. This is a sore spot to me and every other relative who lives in or near the Calumet Region. I accept it. My other sister does not.
So let’s get back to the topic at hand – what was the highlight of the day?
After Moroccan breakfast with Jeanie, we walked around Queens on a sunny morning. We walked under two huge bridges in Astoria Park. One is the Triboro Bridge. I know that much. But I don’t know what the other bridge is called. Alexis and I and our oldest daughter walked along this huge, fast-moving river. There’s an island on the other bank. We talked and laughed and that could easily be the highlight of the day.
Later, however, we took the train into Manhattan. We picked up her boyfriend, Daniel, at his job. He works at Bloomberg, which is one of the coolest buildings in all of New York. I took a couple pictures in the circular driveway in the middle of Bloomberg. Jeanie and Alexis and I got an iced coffee at the Starbucks there and we laughed some more.
The four of us - Jeanie, Daniel, Alexis and I – crammed into a subway and took it up to Yankee Stadium. It was an express train that went north through Manhattan and then into the Bronx. It was crowded as hell. I was okay until these two women, at the last second, jammed in to the train. I literally could have lifted my legs and still been held up. It was that crowded.
It stayed that way all the way to 171st Street, which is where Yankee Stadium is. I’m pretty sure that I haven’t been that packed in to a small area since I traded at the Chicago Board of Trade. I stopped trading there 14 years ago.
It wouldn’t have been so bad except for these two women kept talking loud in my ear. They were talking about their jobs. They were both second-year attorneys.
“That’s the kind of job they leave for first-year associates, not for me,” one of them kept saying. It wouldn’t have been so bad if they were at least attractive. But they weren’t. Back in the day, I wouldn’t have slept with either one of them. They both talked out of their noses instead of their mouths, which is a New York thing to do and is acceptable from some women. But not these two.
I usually don’t write to the three or four of you when I’m this baked. And since I am in this condition, I forgot to tell you one of the other possible highlights to the day. We were walking around Queens after the Moroccan breakfast – served to us by a guy named “Jimmy” – and I stopped to get a haircut. This in and of itself isn’t that much of a highlight. But I did get a haircut from the same guy I got one from last time I was in New York. That was for a conference called “Streaming Media East.” It’s for people who believe that streaming video is taking over the world. I’m one of them.
For the past few weeks, Alexis has been bugging me to get a haircut. I have refused. I knew that we were coming to New York. I wanted the guy with the one-man shop across from the Indian restaurant to cut my hair. I don’t know why other than I thought that if it did happen, it could quite possible be a highlight of the day. I don’t know if it was or not, but I do have a pretty nice haircut. To show it off, Alexis, Jeanie and I got a pretty good picture on a corner in front of a fruit market.
I even got a good selfie with the guy who is now my favorite barber. I couldn’t get him to smile, as the three or four of you can see from the picture above, but I did get him to smile afterwards. There must be a no-smile-in-pictures dictum with barbers in Queens. Either that or I’m not that funny.
Anyways… you get off the subway in the Bronx - that’s why they call it the “Subway Series” – and there’s Gate 6 of Yankee Stadium staring you in the face. We tried to go into a bar called “Stan’s Sports Bar,” but it was too crowded. So I remembered that from that crowded as hell train I saw a bunch of people standing on a terrace. That, too, was a sports bar. We found it and wound up standing in the sun drinking Coronas and Bud Lights until game time. Those moments on the terrace of the unnamed sports bar certainly contend as a highlight of the day. I miss my daughter every day. She lives in this enormous city that I am begrudgingly starting to take a liking to.
We hiked up ten ramps to section 415, row 5, of Yankee Stadium. Daniel and I noticed that we were so high that when someone hit an arching popup, we were eye level with the apex of the trajectory. It’s an eerie feeling being up that high. When you first get to your seat, you feel as if you’re going to fall forward on to the fans below. But after a while, that feeling dissipates and you enjoy the game.
An interesting part of the “Subway Series,” which is when the New York Mets play the New York Yankees, is that Noah Skeersigard was pitching for the Mets. He’s a great pitcher with really long hair. The Mets jumped out to a 6-1 lead. In the 7th inning, we caught a cab back to Astoria. We went to their apartment then went back out. We first tried to go into a bar with picnic tables in back, but that was too crowded. We wound up at a bar called “Halsey’s” near 31st Street and 31st Avenue. There was a guy named “Ramon” in there who went to Lawrence North High School. He said that he worked at Microsoft and a bunch of other tech companies but that now he works at Salesforce.com. I believed all of his stories except maybe for the final one.
“I dated a Punjabi girl for 10 years,” he said.
Ramon is a black man, and maybe that explains why he never got to marry the Punjabi girl. Maybe her dad wouldn’t let her marry a black man. Or maybe she held her own prejudices. Whatever happened, it still rang fresh to Ramon, the fellow Hoosier. On the way out, I tried to make a connection.
“Lawrence North,” I said to Ramon. We hugged, for some reason. “I’ve announced enough games that I should know this. The Tigers, right?”
Oh well. I got it wrong. I was making up “Tigers” anyways. I make stuff up sometimes. I’m even making it up when I tell the three or four of you that I can tell what the highlight of the day was. Often, I can’t tell what happening is more important than another. It’s a great weakness derived from this weird form of disylexia that I got going. Much of the time, everything seems equal.
Talking to my daughter and wife over a Moroccan omelette
Taking a picture outside a barber shop
Walking through Astoria Park
Hanging out in the apartment
Jamming into a train
Drinking on the terrace outside Yankees Stadium
Having a nightcap at Halsey’s in Queens
Walking back past the big food truck
Laughing in the apartment on the way to sleep
These are all highlights. I can’t decide which is the biggest. What I do know, though, is that I miss my daughter very much – and my sister – and every moment that I get with them in New York makes me want to break down and cry. That’s all for tonight, folks. Bye.