Sunday, October 24, 2021

Fragrance

Do you wear a fragrance? What kind? How often?

In an effort to improve myself, I identify areas previously neglected and study them. One such area is fragrance. I've worn scents in the past but it's been a few decades since I last applied one regularly. I'm looking for an attractive cologne/perfume and wondering what others are using. Please share!

Monday, October 18, 2021

More New Art

When you start looking for something, you see it everywhere.

I recently started collecting fine art. Two weeks ago I spotted something appealing through an art studio window. I contacted the artist, a talented local woman, and met her over the weekend (Melissa Maiello). Melissa creates beautiful large charcoal drawings that evoke emotion. The drawings have rough, torn edges which add to their power and surreality.

I acquired two of her drawings today. They're large: one is over five feet wide and the other is over seven feet tall. Fortunately I'll have room for them in my future playhouse/office/art-museum/global-headquarters/Batcave/evil-villain-lair. 

Here are the drawings. What do you think?





Saturday, October 16, 2021

New Artwork & Hockey


I went into NYC yesterday and bought my second work by famed glass-blower, Lino Tagliapietra. It's a dramatic piece four feet tall. In person, it's even more impressive as you closely examine the technique and coloration used. I'm thrilled to acquire the work.

This art was made in 2016 when Lino was 82 years old. That same year a terrific documentary was made about Lino; it's on YouTube and I strongly encourage you to watch it: "Lino Tagliapietra: The Making of a Maestro." During the film Lino is shown making THE VERY WORK I PURCHASED. Lino and his art have real historical importance; I'm a lucky sap to be able to own a piece of that history.

After my gallery-visit, we went to Newark and saw our favorite hockey team (New Jersey Devils) win their season home-opener in an exciting game against the Chicago Blackhawks (4-3). The Devils won in overtime when young Jack Hughes scored his second goal of the night. The place went nuts.





Friday, October 15, 2021

Motorcycles and Glass Art Together!


Motorcycles and glass art -- the perfect marriage!

The Corning Museum of Glass is amazing. I've been there twice in the past two years. It stimulated my interest in glass art. 

Museum officials there are as hip as the exhibits -- they just allowed a motorcycle stunt-rider to ride an (electric) motorcycle through the museum, right past rows of fragile glass sculptures. You can see him wheelie through the museum -- using no hands! Although the video is 25 minutes long, the ride in the museum is shown during the last three minutes so feel free to jump to 22:00. Pretty cool. :)

Go here: Link

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

The Many Saints of Newark


David Chase is a brilliant, odd man who creates compelling stories. He wrote "The Sopranos" and kept that show interesting. It mesmerized us with unexpected surprises instead of devolving into gangster cliches.

We saw "The Many Saints of Newark" yesterday, after binge-ing the entire Sopranos' series. Again, Chase surprises us. The film is nothing like the show, differing in both content and presentation. It achieves Chase's stated goal of making cinematic art instead of television. 

While there's a little "fan service," the bulk of the story is about a character not shown in the TV series (Dickie Moltisanti, Christopher's father). His struggles in racially-torn Newark bear little connection to mob activities later on.

My verdict is that Chase achieved something special here. I don't believe the movie will be popular; many will be disappointed it doesn't recycle what they liked about the Sopranos show. But, truly, Chase never cared about pleasing us; his goal is higher than that. He's exploring and commenting on the human condition.


Saturday, October 9, 2021

New Art Show

Famous glass artist Lino Tagliapietra, whose work I've started to collect, is having a big show this month at the Heller Gallery in NYC. Over thirty pieces are on display.

I'm heading in again on Friday to enjoy the show and buy another work. If you're anywhere near the City, I encourage you to visit the gallery. You'll be stunned by the beauty of this art -- in person it's much more dramatic and impressive than in pictures.









Thursday, September 30, 2021

When I'm Sixty-Four


A month from now I'll turn 64. I find that impossible to believe but my driver's license says it's true. Fortunately, The Beatles wrote a song for me over fifty years ago; it goes...

When I get older losing my hair
Many years from now
Will you still be sending me a Valentine?
Birthday greetings, bottle of wine

If I'd been out till quarter to three
Would you lock the door?
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I'm sixty-four?

You'll be older too
And if you say the word
I could stay with you

I could be handy, mending a fuse
When your lights have gone
You can knit a sweater by the fireside
Sunday mornings go for a ride
Doing the garden, digging the weeds
Who could ask for more?

Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I'm sixty-four?

Every summer we can rent a cottage
In the Isle of Wight, if it's not too dear
We shall scrimp and save
Grandchildren on your knee
Vera, Chuck and Dave

Send me a postcard, drop me a line
Stating point of view
Indicate precisely what you mean to say
Yours sincerely, wasting away

Give me your answer, fill in a form
Mine for evermore
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I'm sixty-four?

("When I'm Sixty-Four," The Beatles, 1967)

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Glass Art

I collected my first truly major work of art today. It's spectacular.

The piece was crafted by the greatest glass artist in the world, Lino Tagliapietra. Now 86, Lino retired last year after seventy years of making glass art. His work is internationally renowned and exhibited by more than 50 museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Lino not only made great art, he invented new techniques of Venetian glass-blowing. Several documentaries have been made about him and he's taught at the highest level.

Lino is having a show next month at the most prestigious glass art gallery in New York (Heller Gallery). I was given a private preview of the offered work. I eagerly bought an amazing piece that elates me every time I look at it. I plan to enjoy this art-work for years to come.







Thursday, September 16, 2021

Cool Watch


Old objects possess history, a story, and the more you learn about their history, the more interesting they become.

I recently discovered a "pocket watch" that is unlike any you know. The watch is not round; it's rectangular. The watch is manual but doesn't wind by twisting a wheel. And, very smartly, the watch is covered with a selection of exotic materials like crocodile skin, precious metal (platinum, gold, silver) or polished ceramic.

This watch is the "Ermeto" and was invented by Movado, a famous Swiss watch-maker. Movado began making watches in 1881 and, in 1926, created the Ermeto. The Ermeto was designed to be carried in either a man's pocket or a woman's purse. Unlike previous pocket watches made exclusively for men, this one was expressly unisex and was advertised heavily toward women. It came in four different sizes including a "Baby Ermeto" which is small enough for a tiny clutch purse.

The Ermeto achieved horological and commercial success. Its mechanics are top-notch and the design was sold for four decades. The Ermeto bridges the gap between pocket watches and wrist-watches: it can use a chain but doesn't have to and its square shape distinguishes it from round pocket watches. A protective case slides open to expose the watch-face and the watch is attached to the case so it can withstand any mishandling.

For me, the coolest thing about the Ermeto is how it works. You wind it not by twisting a wheel but instead by opening and closing its case. Doing that physically winds the inner mechanism for four hours time. Opening the watch a few times is enough to keep it running all day.

Many famous people owned Ermetos, like Pope Pius XI, Andy Warhol, Albert Einstein and Queen Elizabeth. What else unites such a motley crew?!











Sunday, September 12, 2021

Pocket Watches

Did you know that before World War I wristwatches were worn exclusively by women? They were considered feminine jewelry. Manufacturers didn't make wristwatches for men.

So how did men keep time? With pocket watches. For several hundred years (17th-20th Centuries) men carried pocket watches. Today men wear wristwatches: when and why did that change?

It was World War I. In that conflict the military realized soldiers could do their jobs better if they could keep track of time without digging into pockets. A glance at a wrist told them the time while keeping their hands free to carry and use weapons. Not insignificantly WWI was the first modern conflict to use precise timing in military operations so this change in watches offered important strategic advantage. After the War, soldiers continued wearing wristwatches and sellers saw a lucrative new market.

When I was a teenager I carried a pocket watch in homage to horological history. I'm currently acquiring a new antique pocket watch and have found a rare, unusual example. It'll be a subject for future conversation.

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Heirloom Tomatoes

Heirloom tomatoes are delicious. They taste better than ordinary tomatoes and are more nutritious. If you go to local farms, you can find some as big as pumpkins!



Thursday, September 2, 2021

Great Book

The best book I’ve read in years was just published: “About Time,” by British historian David Rooney (Norton; 2021).

It’s an entertaining, educational walk through history using time as its prism. The book examines how the concept and recording of time (with, e.g., clocks) changed societies, built empires, enabled commerce, spread religion and deeply affected our lives. I recommend it highly.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

New Shirt

Most men's clothing, to use a term popular among transwomen long ago, is drab. The clothes usually lack style and color.

I just found a terrific men's shirt from my favorite shirt-maker (Paul Fredrick). It's made of linen and, contrary to practically all men's shirts, has an asymmetrical design. It just arrived and looks great on me.

What do you think?

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Old Photo

One of my parents' friends, Eleanor, died this year. Eleanor's daughter is sorting through her things and found some old photographs of my father. They show him right after he came to this country and before he got married (1952). Here's my favorite one.

I guess this explains my interest in cars. It's genetic.



Monday, August 30, 2021

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Fine Art


I've always wanted to collect art and finally started the process. 

As much as I know about art itself, there's plenty more to learn on the collecting process. Buying museum-level pieces of fine art involves figuring out where to go to buy the work (e.g., art gallery, auction house, art fair), what's reasonable to pay, how to transport expensive pieces, whether you need specific insurance, and ways to display art with sufficient protection against drunk guests who might stumble into it. Fortunately I like to learn!


Saturday, August 28, 2021

Choosing The Right Tools

The best way to met your needs is to pick the right tool for the job. That principle applies to vehicular transportation.

Through trial-and-error I discovered that different motorcycles and cars serve different purposes. Trying to use them outside those purposes -- like bringing a station wagon to the racetrack -- is a mistake.

If your budget allows, you should get separate vehicles for different needs. I've learned I need two motorcycles: not ten, not one, but two. A sport-bike for riding fast with excellent handling and a touring bike to travel far in comfort. I wouldn't want to take the sport-bike on an uncomfortable long trip nor would it be fun to lean the heavy touring bike far over on a race-track.

I ride my bikes; they weren't bought for display so all my needs are met by these two. Unlike some motorcyclists, I don't need to collect a half dozen bikes simply to show them off.

I'm figuring out what my needs are for car transportation and that education is continuing. I need a "daily driver" (something reliable and modestly fun). The Fiat Abarth used to fulfill that role but it's starting to have mechanical problems; it doesn't give me the confidence I want not to break down on a trip far from home. So I picked up the new Mazda Miata and find it's PERFECT for this purpose. Not expensive but lots of fun; not fancy but garners compliments; and has great handling (due to low weight) despite an engine that's not powerful.

Like with motorcycles, I need two cars: one for daily driving and another, crappy one for nasty weather and bad neighborhoods. I won't take the Miata out in snow and am keeping the Fiat around for ugly Winter driving.

Unlike with motorcycles, I have a desire to add a third car. It isn't a necessity but will improve my emotional health. In the near future when I figure out what my final finances are (after selling investments), I'll get a "super-car" or "hyper-car." If you don't know what these terms mean, suffice it to say they translate to "SERIOUS MONEY."

The goal of this last vehicle is not whether it drives well in snow or has a trunk big enough for groceries; the question is: does the car raise my spirits? Will it make me happy as a reward for a lifetime of grueling work? In truth, that's a need, too, and someday I hope to satisfy it.

Friday, August 27, 2021

The Sopranos


Over the past few weeks I re-watched the entire "The Sopranos" series from beginning to end, all six seasons. Last night was its conclusion.

The way the show ended is famous for how viewers reacted. Do you have a theory on what it meant? What happened? Why the show's creator (David Chase) chose that?


Wednesday, August 25, 2021

The Right Gift

Contemplating an anniversary gift for Robin I wanted something special -- an object that's not only stylish but also serves as a metaphor. I found one that does such double duty.

I bought her an antique radio from the 1940s. It works perfectly and even has Bluetooth added so she can listen to digital music in her phone/computer. The radio was restored by a terrific radio technician who sells dozens of cool vintage radios. His company website is Retro Radio Farm. Check it out.

The metaphor of the gift is that just because something is old doesn't mean it doesn't work. The radio, like our relationship, endures after decades and decades.



Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Anniversary Trip


To celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary, I took Robin to the Finger Lakes this weekend. We visited its chief attraction (Corning Museum of Glass) and nicest town (Skaneateles).

The photo above is at the Museum. The floating pieces are made of glass. This institution is one of the best museums I've ever visited; I've gone there twice now and will return again.

A waiter surprised us with a free dessert. Robin started eating it before realizing she wanted a picture which explains the smudge.  :-)










Saturday, August 14, 2021

A New Generation

A birth just occurred in my family. Honestly, I didn't expect it to affect me as intensely as it's doing. Not because of the baby herself (all babies are wonderful) but because what her birth represents in my family's history.

My brother's son Johnathan and his wife Jessica just had baby Ella, the first of a new generation. Ella carries our family's name forward to a level beyond my adult nephew and nieces. I wasn't sure what my relation to the child is called so I had to look it up: she's my "grand-niece" or "great-niece," depending on the term you prefer.

When I was growing up, there were four of us: my mother, my father, my brother Richard and myself. My parents had harsh childhoods during rough times (e.g., World War II). They were immigrants struggling to make viable lives in a new country -- which explains how feverishly they clung to the idea of family. Lacking other support, they tried and succeeded at creating their own family. My mother, especially.

My mother, Barbara Jo, was a serious woman. She ruled our family with an iron fist. Grown men quivered at her approach. You learned quickly that, despite her size (under 5-ft tall), Barbara Jo always got what she wanted. As they say in Star Trek, resistance was futile. She grabbed your ankle with bulldog grip and wouldn't let go until you surrendered. We always did.

What made my mother's control palatable was its motivation -- love. You instinctively knew she was devoting her life and all her effort toward building and maintaining a family. A real one with strong bonds. A family that didn't exist before her.

I was the first born. I was taught the importance of my life -- I represented my family to the outside world. Our success, not merely mine, was reflected in every accomplishment I achieved. Scholastic scores, athletic victories, they were all lauded by my parents as evidence of the family's strength. I was considered more than an individual, I was held up as the chief team-player on whom huge hope and expectation was laid. That was drilled into me daily. I didn't have a choice so objecting to it was pointless. 

My brother Richard was only one year younger which made our family unit very compact. The four of us did everything together, from eating dinner every day to camping on cheap vacations. "The boys" were treated the same even though Richard's experience of life differed dramatically from mine.

Richard was troubled in several ways. When he didn't measure up to my parents' expectations, they came down hard on him. Which caused a deep rift between them and him. I tried to support Richard and advised him repeatedly not to compare himself to me or replicate my successes; I urged him to forge his own path in other directions. He had trouble doing that; he kept banging against the same wall. Eventually Richard's misbehavior got worse, out of frustration at his lack of achievement and my parents' unrelenting pressure. Ironically, Richard ended up imitating my parents in striking ways while I quietly detached myself from their influence.

Richard had three small children, the oldest of whom, Johnathan, was three when Richard died. Those children grew up not knowing or remembering their father.

My mother died in 1990 at the young age of 54 (breast cancer). Richard died in 1991 at the tender age of 33 (heart defect). My father is still alive, at age 91, but in declining mental ability. He's comfortable but in some ways already gone.

I'm jubilant at the birth of a new generation for my family. But... it comes with a sense of loss. For the loved ones no longer here, for the life now gone. For my connections to family who exist only in my memory.

Welcome, Ella.



Saturday, August 7, 2021

Skordalia

I love garlic so when I see "garlic dip" in Greek restaurants I always try it. It's called Skordalia and served with pita bread.

I never knew what else is in the dish so I looked it up. And made some today. Delicious!

In addition to garlic, Skordalia has potatoes (lots of 'em, boiled and mashed), lemon juice and olive oil. For spice, I add small chunks of fresh jalapenos which are optional, of course.

Skordalia is a simple dish easy to make and perfect for Summer meals. Try it!

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Adirondack Mountains

The Adirondack High Peaks are 46 mountains spread over 5,000 square miles. There are peaks of every size and shape.

Many, like Coney Mountain, have beautiful views. Here I am on the summit of Coney Mountain. The 360-degree view is magnificent, sweetened by the satisfaction of having trekked long and hard to get there.

My good friend Aimee promised me there was a Starbucks cafe at the summit. She lied. :)







Friday, July 30, 2021

Weekend Hike


Led by my good friend Aimee (a quasi-Sherpa), we're gonna hike a mountain this weekend.

Aimee lives in Potsdam (so far north you can see Canada from her window) and I'm down south on Long Island. We're meeting in the Adirondacks, a large region of mountains in the northeast part of New York State. The area is full of mountains of varying height and difficulty. Being more familiar, Aimee will select the particular hill for our ascent. I'm requesting mountain lions, rustic cabins and views from "The Sound of Music." Hope my suburban background isn't showing...

There will, of course, be pictures. Probably of the summit, hopefully not of me falling off a cliff. :)

What are you doing this weekend?

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Tower Records

Tower Records is back! Sort of...

The music-selling giant began in California in 1960. From 1970-90 it grew into the largest music retailer in the country and became a cultural icon. Then, during the Nineties, the company evervated, heading south. By 2006 the company was finally bankrupt: all stores were closed, all assets sold.

Over the past winter, Tower Records resurrected as an online website where it now sells vinyl records and CDs. Broad collection, reasonably priced. The yellow/red colors are there, along with its "Pulse" magazine (online).

Do you have any Tower Records memories?

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Cassettes

In the odd history of music technology, some devices emerged that became inexplicably popular -- and are now set for nostalgic re-boot. No, I'm not talking about vinyl records; I'm talking about cassettes.

When I read recently that enthusiasts are returning to cassettes, I couldn't understand the news. Cassette tapes are, by everyone's admission, vastly inferior to vinyl, CDs and streaming. Why resurrect a bad technology?

Well, there are reasons. One is their connection to the automobile. In the Sixties-Eighties, if you wanted to listen to tunes in your car, you were limited to the radio or cassettes. You couldn't play records in a jostling vehicle.

Second, mix-tapes. With cassettes, you can create your own mix of songs from any artist/album. A custom mix-tape is wonderful, giving you music you like without stuff you don't.

Third, they're cheap. In record-stores today, cassettes are the unwanted step-children being practically given away. For decades nobody wanted them so their market value was zilch. Today you can build an entire collection for the price of one newly-minted LP.

Did you ever listen to cassettes?

Friday, July 16, 2021

Dueling Banjos

Fifty years ago I saw a good, award-winning movie ("Deliverance"). Despite its quality, the film terrified me. I'm glad I saw it but I never want to see it again.

The movie contains a song that became hugely popular at the time ("Dueling Banjos"). It's a musical duel between a banjo and a guitar. The result is impressive and amusing. 

I thought since I have fond memory of the song I'd look for it at my local record-store. I found it for $3. Three bucks! Not only does the song hold up but the rest of the album has lively banjo-music guaranteed to make you smile. Come on over and I'll put it on the turntable. :)

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Harry Chapin

It's hard to believe but it was exactly forty years ago (July 1981) that Harry Chapin died. In a tragic, fiery accident on the Long Island Expressway.

He was 38 but had packed a lifetime into those years. Harry not only wrote and sang popular songs, he found meaning in life. He worked hard to feed LI's hungry, donated most of his earnings to charity and gave more benefit concerts than anyone else. In fact, he was on his way to one when his VW got hit by a tractor-trailer.

Harry's songs, like "Taxi" and "Cat's in the Cradle," were in the air of my youth. They tell poignant, poetic stories that resonate to our common experience. A new documentary about Harry has just been released; it's called "Harry Chapin: When in Doubt, Do Something."

Harry lived in my hometown (Huntington) and is buried here. Last year I visited his grave in the cemetery on New York Avenue. Here are some pics of it, with proof that Harry's fans still adore him.









Saturday, July 10, 2021

Getting Around

I own four vehicles (BMW touring motorcycle; BMW sport-bike; Mazda Miata; Fiat Abarth). Each is essential and performs a necessary function in my life. I wouldn't want to cope with fewer. Each gets used regularly and washed/maintained with care.

In the future I plan to add two more vehicles but, honestly, those will be frivolous (McLaren super-car; Janus Halcyon 450 motorcycle). I don't need those toys; I just want to enjoy them as rewards from a long, hard career.

When I was young I had no interest in motor vehicles. I was widely known for driving old pieces of crap I got as gifts or bought for less than $500. I cared nothing about what those cars looked like; I just used them for basic transportation. Then in 1997 I got my first motorcycle and discovered the pleasures of nice bikes and cars.

What do you drive/ride?