Well, we’re back. We’ve been back since Monday night, but as so often happens when you take time off, work falls on your head the minute you walk back through the door.

Also, laundry. Also, snow and ice and more snow.

So now there’s a moment, and here I am. Back! We went here:

That’s an architectural detail outside the Dakota, John Lennon’s old apartment building on Central Park West, in New York. This was a spur-of-the-moment trip, which we threw together at the last minute and lucked into, with a good Airbnb, a decent flight and four days away from Detroit. It was cold, but not as cold as here. We wandered here and there, shopped a little, and did the two NYC museums I’d somehow not seen — MoMA and the Whitney. We went to this show at the Whitney:

The permanent collection was more impressive. With Warhol, you see one, you’ve seen …most of them, anyway.

The true revelation of the trip came Friday night, when we went to the cabaret space at the Public Theater to see Salty Brine, a performer whose Living Record Collection is a series of shows that mash together contemporary albums with other stories. We saw “And If You Listen Very Hard,” a combination of personal stories, Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island” and “Led Zeppelin IV.”

It was truly one of the most original, entertaining, funny, poignant and moving nights at the theater I’ve had in years, probably because it was so unexpected. Alan found the listing in Time Out, the seats were dirt cheap ($20), and we got the last ones. Write down the name; you don’t want to miss it if you can.

Otherwise, it was just walking and the subway and eating and all that. It’s been a while since I’ve been to New York; I should go more often.

And now we’re back, with the snow and ice and misery of mid-to-late winter. Good to keep up with all your stories via the comments.

As I continue to cough. Yes. It’s fully tuberculosis now, I figure. So I’m heading to bed.

Here’s a column I wrote. Read it. Traffic is important.

I’ll try to be back Friday. Thanks for holding the place up in my absence.

Posted at 9:49 pm in Same ol' same ol' |

58 responses to “Returned.”

  1. basset said on February 13, 2019 at 10:20 pm

    I deliberately avoided New York for as long as I could, finally had to change planes there a couple of years ago but I’m not going back if I can help it. Enough dirt and crowding and rudeness in my life already, and I’m not qualified to go to the museums.

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  2. Deborah said on February 13, 2019 at 10:31 pm

    We had a regular NYC trip to NYC every year for many years in early Feb. Last year we went in mid Jan because the Michael Angelo drawing exhibit at the Met was about over. It’s always cold then but no worse than Chicago and the airfare and hotel prices are excellent. We usually take what we can find on Broadway when we get there and we’re usually not disappointed.

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  3. beb said on February 13, 2019 at 10:42 pm

    Welcome home.

    Dingell is a good argument against term limits. Mitch McConnell is a good argument for them.

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  4. Deborah said on February 13, 2019 at 10:45 pm

    Yikes, lots of embarrassing redundancy in that comment. I’m tired and I had a martini earlier.

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  5. David C. said on February 14, 2019 at 6:17 am

    I haven’t been to NYC since 1983. Back then Times Square was seedy and full of porn shops and just the most amazing place to look at for the rube from Grand Rapids. Manhattan was a place where someone like my uncle who was a copy writer for an ad agency could actually live. Now his apartment building on 81st and Lexington Ave, that had 8 apartments when he lived there, is a single family house that sold a couple of years ago for something like $10 million. I’d like to go back some day, but I doubt that I find it so interesting.

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  6. Julie Robinson said on February 14, 2019 at 6:19 am

    I also find NYC dirty and crowded, but I feel that way about most cities. I like to visit for short times and take advantage of their best. We’re planning to go there for our 40th anniversary this summer.

    On the plane getting ready to go back home today and wishing I could stay in Orlando. Winter: bah humbug.

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  7. alex said on February 14, 2019 at 8:08 am

    Sometimes the best big-city theater is found in the smallest of venues. One of the things I adored in Chicago was a gay piano bar where a rotating roster of acts always kept things fresh and funny. These people would improvise on songs, making them bawdy or giving them the Weird Al treatment, and could do it to any song on request from the audience.

    I still remember a political spoof show from the ’80s that cast a drag queen as Marilyn Quayle and a Fozzy Bear muppet puppet as David Gergen.

    In all the years I lived there and went out for live entertainment I seldom saw a dud.

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  8. Bitter Scribe said on February 14, 2019 at 8:09 am

    One thing I like about N.Y. museums is they don’t do that bullshit of charging you extra to see featured exhibits, like Chicago’s Art Institute.

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  9. Suzanne said on February 14, 2019 at 8:10 am

    I love NYC! I am always amazed at how big everything is. Yes, it’s dirty, busy, and congested but there is a vibe there that I haven’t experienced anywhere else. The food is fabulous and the views exquisite. We always come back exhausted.

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  10. Deborah said on February 14, 2019 at 8:59 am

    I was always surprised about the mess of garbage bags by the curbs of the streets of Manhattan until my husband explained to me it was because they mostly don’t have alleys. It’s ugly though. Also the mob ran the waste pickup businesses for generations.

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  11. Snarkworth said on February 14, 2019 at 9:08 am

    bassett, I don’t know where you changed planes, but it wasn’t New York.

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  12. Icarus said on February 14, 2019 at 9:32 am

    NYC is a nice place to visit but I cannot afford to live there. Last time I was there was for the NYC Marathon in 2003. My running mates and I put into the lottery thinking we’d get in the following year but most of us got in on the first try. It’s impossible to do that today, I’m told.

    It was also one of those rare warm November and race day was in the 70s versus the usual 30s or 40s. I have to say the crowd support was awesome, they guys in Brooklyn yell like you actually have a chance to win it or something.

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  13. susan said on February 14, 2019 at 10:27 am

    Deborah@10 – Speaking of New York City alleys, listen to the first story in this episode of 99% Invisible. It’s about Cortland Alley in NYC. I never knew that! Turns out most people didn’t know that. By the way, you might really enjoy 99% Invisible podcast. It’s one of my very favorites. It’s about design in the world—design that goes mostly unnoticed, which is often the point.

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  14. Heather said on February 14, 2019 at 11:20 am

    Love NYC, would love it even more with about 1/3 fewer people. I’d also miss the easy access to the water that we have here in Chicago. In NYC you’re literally surrounded by it but it’s so hard to get to for recreation.

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  15. Deborah said on February 14, 2019 at 11:31 am

    susan, wow, thanks for that link and the recommendation for that podcast. Definitely on my favorites list now.

    Heather, if climate change goes unabated in a couple of decades the water around NYC will come to the people, won’t have to go far to get to it.

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  16. Sherri said on February 14, 2019 at 12:15 pm

    Here’s a browser app that matches a current city with its 2080 global warming equivalent:

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  17. Sherri said on February 14, 2019 at 12:19 pm

    Funny how all the Never Trumpers who have left the Republican Party are also u happy that the Democrats won’t turn themselves into Reagan Republicans to accommodate them:

    Here’s a hint, guys: it’s not about you.

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  18. Suzanne said on February 14, 2019 at 12:32 pm

    Amazon is not going to NYC

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  19. Connie said on February 14, 2019 at 1:47 pm

    My around the country travels to big and biggish cities has been dependent on the various locations visited by American Library Association conferences. I would never have been to NYC, Seattle, Portland, OR, Boston, or many other places if ALA and PLA hadn’t brought me there. I expect to visit Nashville in March 2020. (I’ve been there before.) Unfortunately in recent years ALA has been switching between New Orleans, Chicago, and DC. Two of those places are too hot to be comfortable at a late June convention.

    So I have been to NYC for ALA twice. The first time I was six months pregnant, brought my husband along, and spent several days afterward with one of my husband’s veteran buddies at his home on Staten Island. High point? Lili Tomlin’s one woman show, “The Search for Intelligent Life in the Universe.”

    I ate in several then famous restaurants that no longer exist, including the Russian Tea Room, the Carnegie Deli and the Stage Deli. (Stage door deli maybe).

    The second time it was just me. I had tea at the plaza with a complete stranger librarian I had just met on the shuttle bus. Best moment? There were two. My sixth row center seat to see Julie Andrews in Victor/Victoria. And the fabric shoppers half day guided tour of the garment district, I spent a couple of hundred dollars that day.

    We are thinking of a long weekend out of town in the next month or two, but somewhere easy to drive. I am thinking Cleveland.

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  20. Dorothy said on February 14, 2019 at 2:49 pm

    I’m glad you’re back. It’s a tad lonesome here without you to steer the conversation!

    I had such a marvelous time in NYC in December that I find myself yearning an awful lot to go back. I’d prefer to go when it’s warmer, though, as New York in December had some challenges. I’m sorry and I mean no disrespect to any readers here, but to complain that New York is dirty is like complaining that the Earth is round. There’s a lot of humanity there. Humans create a mess. NYC seems to do the best it can to keep up. And I encountered no rudeness at all. That’s the truth. Now that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen but we spent four days and nights there and had a terrific time. If I could afford it I’d go several times a year. There’s so much to see and I feel like I would find something exciting or interesting every day if I lived there.

    Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

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  21. Sherri said on February 14, 2019 at 3:22 pm

    Maybe you should move a little quicker on that retirement home, basset.

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  22. susan said on February 14, 2019 at 3:35 pm

    Deborah, this is one of my favorite pieces from 99% Invisible, about the bus station in Tel Aviv. But there are so many really interesting stories they do.

    I guess since I rave so much about that podcast, I should donate to it…

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  23. Deborah said on February 14, 2019 at 5:03 pm

    Susan, since I’m at Uncle J’s and there’s not that much for me to do here as I’ve said before, I’ve spent a lot of time on that website. If I was home or somewhere else where I’d have lots of stuff to do I’d call it a day wrecker.

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  24. brian stouder said on February 14, 2019 at 5:45 pm

    If you’ve not yet read Nancy’s excellent (as usual!) piece on Dingell – run (don’t walk!) right over there and check it out.

    Experience, and not just wisdom or passion or sincerity, is essential for successful political (not to say interpersonal) success.

    In fact, the Trumply Commentariat is expressly AGAINST experience or wisdom – witness the whole “Deep State” canard that the talk-radio crowd keeps inveighing against. They seem to sincerely believe that ignorance is not just bliss, but the pathway to righteousness.

    Anyway – happy Valentine’s day, y’all

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  25. basset said on February 14, 2019 at 8:10 pm

    OK Dorothy, and Sherri, and Snarkworth… NY is a wonderful place and I’m some kind of Neanderthal because I didn’t enjoy going through Kennedy and dealing with delays and rude customs people, my first and only experience with a city where people pride themselves on being aggressive and superior. Guess I’m just not hip enough, sorry.

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  26. Dorothy said on February 14, 2019 at 8:16 pm

    Basset I’m not sure why you feel defensive. We just stressed that our experiences in NYC varied vastly from yours. I’m sorry you had a rough go, truly. I have found plenty to bitch about on plenty of other trips believe me.

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  27. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 14, 2019 at 9:49 pm

    Basset, for what it’s worth my wife, her cousin, and I spent Thanksgiving week a year ago in Manhattan, and we were stunned by just how friendly and congenial everyone we met were. Spent most of our time in Midtown, a half day down around 9-11/World Trade Memorial and Wall Street (subway from Grand Central and back), but walking around Empire State, Pierpont Morgan, Ed Sullivan Theatre, and over into Hell’s Kitchen and back across to the UN . . . it was almost scary how nice everyone is. And they all said: this is a tourist week, we’re set for y’all, but if you come in general and get in our way as people are going to or leaving work, you’ll get the bulldozer attitude. Full disclosure: we went in and out of Newark Airport, which was also full of friendly, conversational people. I’d been to Manhattan three times before, but always with 40 high school youth, and the experience was intensely touristy, and we were cogs in the machine but expected no less.

    My wife and I can’t wait to get back and test this out, but we never could have imagined going to the Macy’s at Herald Square on the day after Thanksgiving, twice, and surviving with smiles. And lots of great interactions with clerks and wait staff and cashiers and such — the restaurant that’s behind the “Late Night” marquee has a wonderful pizza oven upstairs and the nicest staff we’ve ever had in any pizza joint anywhere. Angelo’s, I think was the name.

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  28. LAMary said on February 14, 2019 at 10:25 pm

    I lived in Manhattan for a few years and I grew up not far from there and visited often. I’ve been back several times since I moved to NYC and I found people very friendly. When I was there with my kids, when they were small, people helped me get the kids and the stroller onto the bus, held doors for me. When they were a little older, around 8 and 4, I found people were so patient with them in restaurants. Last time I was in NYC I didn’t have the kids with me and still, people were nice. Nice in an NYC way. I used to say that in LA people smiled a lot and are superficially friendly. In NYC people will tell you their life story on the subway and ask you about yours.

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  29. basset said on February 15, 2019 at 6:46 am

    We all seem to like travel, and we live in different worlds. I just don’t have any desire to visit most of the NYC places you all have mentioned, not tea at an expensive hotel, not the fabric tour, and I’m uncomfortable in art museums even out here in middle America. Go, enjoy, I wish you the best but it’s not for me… maybe I’d visit briefly if I could get an armored helicopter straight to the Dakota, don’t feel any attraction to the city though.

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  30. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 15, 2019 at 7:47 am

    “Charter your own private helicopter starting at $1,325 – to or from an area airport – in just minutes notice.” Too pricey for me! I recall a helicopter landing on the roof of the Met in “The Thomas Crown Affair” but it didn’t end well. Anyhow, I just wanted you to know, Basset, that this Midwestern couple dreaded four days in Manhattan and got a pleasant surprise. But we went because our son was in the Macy’s Parade, and band parents gotta do what band parents gotta do . . .

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  31. alex said on February 15, 2019 at 7:52 am

    Forgot to wish everyone a happy VD! We celebrated by getting crabs — Alaskan king!

    Bummed to see the Jussie Smollett story unraveling but I had the feeling early on that it seemed a bit too contrived. It’s hard to fathom muggers in MAGA swag walking around with a noose and a bottle of bleach in downtown Chicago. Unfortunately it’s not so hard to fathom how people will take real hate crimes even less seriously than they already do. I live in a state — one of only five — where they haven’t passed hate crimes legislation because people like to believe that crimes are alleged out of animus but never motivated by it.

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  32. Suzanne said on February 15, 2019 at 8:15 am

    I have always found people in NYC friendly as well. I even got two nice NYC cops to pose with me for a picture! If I need directions or something, I always start the conversation with “I am from out of town…” and always get an answer. I have learned, though, not to stand in the middle of the sidewalk and look at the GPS on my phone, trying to figure out where to go. Move to the edge.

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  33. Dorothy said on February 15, 2019 at 9:03 am

    Suzanne that advice about using the GPS (or any other phone related issue) is applicable anywhere, not just in New York. I’ve been known to mutter things at the grocery store, walking on campus where I work, etc. when someone is blocking my and everyone else’s egress in a busy place. Sometimes I don’t even mutter – I just say what needs to be said: “Can you please step aside? You’re not alone on this planet!” Mike thinks it’s going to backfire in an awful way someday (someone might punch me) but I don’t give a rat’s ass.

    My favorite thing to happen in New York happened twice – someone asked me for directions once, and another person asked how to find the FAO Schwartz store because I was carrying an FAO Schwartz bag. Okay so the second episode might not qualify as feeling like a NY native. But when two women asked me how to find such-and-such street, it was a pretty cool feeling to be able to tell them correctly how to find it. I’m weird that way.

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  34. Suzanne said on February 15, 2019 at 9:17 am

    I am losing hope daily.
    In a comment on Twitter re: the National Emergency a woman wrote: “It’s what we voted for, it’s what his supporters wanted as part of his election. We live in border states, and these caravans of people are headed into our country with crappy laws.”
    In another thread regarding IN Sen Braun’s bringing forth a bill to end Congrssional pensions, I had to explain to another Trumper that Congress is made up of the Senate and the House. But she knew the Constitution, by gawd, and the founders didn’t want career politicians, she knew.

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  35. alex said on February 15, 2019 at 9:24 am

    My fave NY story is from the summer I spent there with a college boyfriend. We stayed with a friend of his who owned a skinny four-flat in Brooklyn. We got the top floor to ourselves. Some friends from Fort Wayne had moved to NYC and I promised I’d get in touch. They gave me their address, but I had no idea where it was, other than that their street ran parallel to ours, but the house numbers were so vastly different that I figured they were a fair distance away. Turns out the numbering there doesn’t go by the same logic as the grid system you see in most places. We discovered that our houses were exactly back to back!

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  36. beb said on February 15, 2019 at 1:25 pm

    suzanne, all is not lost. That was one person on Twitter. At the same time as they are ranting about walls and caravans, etc, the governors of border states like California and Arizona are withdrawing their national guard troops because there is no crisis.

    I’m not surprised that some many Naller found NYC polite and friendly. I’d say 90% of people are naturally polite and friendly.

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  37. Deborah said on February 15, 2019 at 2:14 pm

    I had a comment ready to type and then I found out we’re in a national emergency so I need to save my energy to fight off the hoards of criminals charging across our borders, who knows when they will arrive in Chicago, any minute now. Scary.

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  38. Mary Ann said on February 15, 2019 at 4:15 pm

    I read Nancy’s posts and the comments every day but have only commented once or twice in all the years I’ve been lurking. But today I have to share one of my earliest memories of NYC back in the 70’s. I was in cab downtown during morning rush hour. The cab stopped at a light,and I saw a man in a three piece suit, carrying a fancy briefcase, wearing a clown face, orange wig, and huge clown shoes. I gaped like the tourist I was, but nobody else, and I mean nobody else even glanced at the guy. As we pulled away the cabbie grinned and said, “You’ll get used to it.” Fell in love with the place at that moment.

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  39. Sherri said on February 15, 2019 at 4:26 pm

    The national emergency is that Republicans are trying to create a minority rule state. Given that the blue states foot the bill for the red states, despite the red states’ belief in their own self-sufficiency, this doesn’t seem like a stable situation.

    I’ve actually had a conservative tell me that his side was going to win because they had all the guns. I thought that demonstrated a lack of imagination and knowledge of what really matters in a fight…

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  40. David C. said on February 15, 2019 at 4:27 pm

    When the current occupant stands up there and says “I didn’t have to this” about his national emergency, his lawyers who have to go to court to defend it must have just buried their heads in their hand and said “oh, shit”.

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  41. john (not mccain) said on February 15, 2019 at 4:53 pm

    “Bummed to see the Jussie Smollett story unraveling”

    Not unraveling. Two men have been arrested.

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  42. Deborah said on February 15, 2019 at 5:00 pm

    Scout, what happened to your Twitter account?

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  43. David C. said on February 15, 2019 at 5:32 pm

    Deborah, I follow Scout and she tweeted just a couple of hours ago.

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  44. alex said on February 15, 2019 at 5:47 pm

    The two guys arrested in the Smollett case are 1) black and 2) worked on “Empire” with Smollett. Doesn’t sound like this will end well.

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  45. Deborah said on February 15, 2019 at 6:30 pm

    I don’t follow anyone on Twitter because then I have to join, I just connect through the Internet (often through google) and then I bookmark the sites. When I go to Scout’s site from my bookmark for it, it says the site doesn’t exist, but the other Twitter accounts I bookmark are fine?

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  46. David C. said on February 15, 2019 at 8:00 pm

    It looks like maybe Scout changed her handle. Try this, Deborah.

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  47. dorothy said on February 15, 2019 at 8:54 pm

    You need to comment more often Mary Ann!!

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  48. basset said on February 15, 2019 at 8:55 pm

    Went to the turkey hunters’ national convention today. Everyone I talked with was really nice. Only saw one Trump t-shirt, which is a good thing. New York City was approximately one million miles away.

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  49. Dexter Friend said on February 16, 2019 at 12:34 am

    A few years ago a lady from the midwest won a giant lotto prize, and the first thing she did was book plans for New York and buy an apartment in Manhattan. I was sort of jealous, because that is the first thing I’d do also. Bobby Short has passed and I missed ever seeing him at The Carlyle Hotel piano lounge, and I never took the time to walk or bike over the Brooklyn Bridge, but there’s plenty left to do. I guess when I hit it big and get my AMEX Black Card, unlimited high end, I’ll fly out there and have one of those big steak dinners at Peter Luger’s in Billyburg, Brooklyn. I keep hearing how great it is.

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  50. beb said on February 16, 2019 at 1:32 am

    This post from the even level-headed Kevin Drum on Trump press conference where he announced he would be signing the emergency declaration is a hoot. He quotes the many reporters live-twitting the announcement and their increasing disbelief at everything coming out of Trump’s mouth.

    His dementia is becoming ever more evident.

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  51. ROGirl said on February 16, 2019 at 8:20 am

    I visited a cousin in NY state last summer and went into the city one day to go to the Met Museum. As I was standing on the subway platform a very midwestern-looking woman – blond, tall, in sensible shorts, with her tall gray-haired husband – asked me whether some store was nearby. I told her I didn’t know, I’m from Detroit. I have been asked for directions in France and Italy. I shop at a middle eastern grocery store in my area, and a few weeks ago a woman asked me a question in Arabic. I shrugged, and she asked me in accented English, “Are you Iraqi?”

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  52. Deborah said on February 16, 2019 at 10:23 am

    Chicagoans, I got a notice from Move-on this morning that there will be a rally/protest of Trump’s so called emergency, at Federal Plaza on Monday, Feb 18th at noon (ironically President’s Day). Weather prediction is not so great but not supposed to snow that day. My husband and I are going, hope to see you there.

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  53. Deborah said on February 16, 2019 at 11:29 am

    R.I.P. Bruno Ganz, Wings of Desire is one of my favorite movies.

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  54. Heather said on February 16, 2019 at 11:45 am

    Oh no, Bruno Ganz! One of my favorite actors.

    I agree that New Yorkers are friendly–you just have to appreciate that they are in a rush. As long as you are direct and concise, they will stop to help you. I have friends that have lived in the East Village for 20+ years and they say it is like a small town.

    Speaking of cities, I just booked a short trip to New Orleans in April. I’ve had a jones to go back there for a while and found out some friends were going for a music fest, so I hopped on. It’s a perfect combo–I’ll get to do what I want but meet up with them for dinner, etc.

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  55. Deborah said on February 16, 2019 at 3:17 pm

    Is this really Trump? And is that really in the Mar-A-Lago Golf Club? If it is, how cheezy can you get. Read the comments too.

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  56. beb said on February 16, 2019 at 3:58 pm

    Returning to Trump Rose Garden presser yesterday, TPM has a long analysis of it that is fascinating if you just read the sub-headings.
    The sub-headings are a road map of the many twists and turns in the speech, the digressions and moments when Trump appears to be confused about what he was going to say. It’s a portrait of a man who has lost his marbles,

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  57. Mary Ann said on February 16, 2019 at 6:17 pm

    Dexter Friend, decades ago my husband and I were in NYC and we were able to see Bobby Short at the Carlyle. He was wonderful, and we’ve never forgotten that evening. We play his albums a lot.

    Thank you for the kind words, Dorothy.

    I have lots of “I love NYC” stories but I’ll shut up now.

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  58. Dexter Friend said on February 17, 2019 at 1:20 am

    That must have been a wonderful evening, Mary Ann. Well, 51 years ago we just missed the late Carol Channing in her signature role at the Saint James Theater, but we saw Martha Raye as “Dolly”. I have since been to New York maybe 15 times and seen a few plays but you never forget your first New York play. We’ve seen a few plays at the Blackstone and the Arie Crown Theaters in Chicago, long time ago. Art Carney in “The Prisoner of Second Avenue” was a good , funny one, and soon after Richard Harris simply bought “Camelot” and played King Arthur, we saw that production at Arie Crown. Trib critic Richard Christensen blasted Harris’s work as Arthur, and wrote a vicious review. It made Harris so mad between acts he startled us as he came out solo, in a robe, and paper in hand began screaming about the review. I remember distinctly “Who IS this Richard Christensen?!” He ranted a good 6, maybe 7 minutes and went behind the curtain to change. That was something I did not know happened. That was Richard Harris.

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