Wednesday, September 26, 2012

'Twas a Dark and Stormy Night

No, really it was. It was 9:30pm and pouring down rain when we gathered on West 3rd just south of Washington Square for a 90-minute Ghosts of New York walking tour. I'd picked up a discount ticket online several months ago, and as the expiration date neared, I cashed it in for the tour "Edgar Allan Poe and His Ghostly Neighbors of Greenwich Village."

I'm a lover of walking tours. Have been ever since a friend and I signed up for a London Pub Crawl Tour back in 1977. We only survived two pubs. But that's a story for another day. Anyway, back to the present. New York is a perfect walking town and has more history than you can shake a very large booty at, so I'm in. Though if I did a New York Pub Crawl Tour, I'd still probably only make it through two pubs.

Our tour guide was decked out in a sort Bestoink Dooley-ish outfit (sorry, only Atlantans of a certain age will know who that is) in a top hat, black cape, frilly shirt.There were about 20 of us, mostly couples, plus 4-5 NYU students that crashed the tour for about an hour. Everyone one was friendly and looking forward to hearing stories and getting a little spooked.

We did hear a couple of stories about Poe in New York (I was expecting more) and about various murders and suicides in the area. (Did I mention it was pissing down rain, with thunder and lightening?) The guide tromped us through puddles and mud to Washington Square, which started out as a big ol' burial ground and site of many a hangin' before it got a lovely fountain, massive arch, and ubiquitous chess tables. Dem bones, dem bones.

The site of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire curiously has very little ghostly phenomena on record. I hope it's because the souls of those girls went straightaway to Heaven and had no reason to roam the earth thereafter.

Sanford White, Harry Thaw, and Evelyn Nesbit haunt several locations around Greenwich Village. Sex, murder, money. Well, I would hope these three still roam the area. Also, Aaron Burr has one or two haunting haunts in the Village. Must be feeling a little guilty over killing Alexander Hamilton.

Well, lots of little stories and worth the tour. I must say I was a little disappointed that it wasn't - I don't know - scarier. The guide was pleasant enough, though he sometimes seemed to be grasping for more stuff to tell, but I was expecting a tour de force ghost walk. With all the out of work actors in this town, you'd think there'd be a better ghoulish tour guide. Ah, well.

The rain stopped a few minutes before the tour ended, which made hoofing through the Village and Washington Square to get to my subway station a little easier. In fact, heading to the #6 was the scariest part of the night.

Ever made your way through Greenwich Village near midnight on a Saturday? Oooooooooooo!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Where the Boys (and Girls) Are

Picture it: Mulberry Street, New York City, The Feast of San Gennaro (Saturday). Connie Francis music blarring (yes, blarring) from loudspeakers at the corner of Grand and Mulberry. Little Italy at its best.

Amazingly tantalizing smells from sausages, onions, and peppers smoking on grills. Pastry vendors, Kiss Me I'm Italian badges, carnival games and rides. And Connie Francis singing her heart out over the whole scene. Everybody's somebody's fool.

I saw my venture as an opportunity to grab a perfectly smoked hot Italian sausage on a roll and pick up a block of made-in-Little-Italy torrone, the nougat and almond delicacy that's indescribably yummy. Yeah, it's always about the food with me, stupid cupid.

Added bonuses: great street view of the San Gennaro parade - complete with the famed statue, marching bands, and Connie Francis herself riding in a red convertible. (OK, now I get why the Connie Francis songs were cranked up.)

Oh, yes, and I nabbed a perfect strawberry gelato, too. It is all about the food. Who's sorry now (that you weren't there)?

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Hope from the Bright Side

Between Honey Boo Boo and the political conventions, the entire country seems to be swirling in some weird, wound-up vortex of, well, I don't know what. Bad taste? Boredom? Anger? Exhaustion? Help me out here. Or, no. Don't. I really don't want to hear your opinion. I'm fed up with opinions.

I'm on the look-out for the fun. The joyful. The uplifting. Honey Boo Boo ain't it. I suggest looking on the bright side for a while. Let's start here:

The vast expanse of intersteller space. I may be showing my age here, but space exploration is still the most intriguing thing earthlings are doing. What/who is out there? Why are we here? Fortunately, there's a lot of great stuff happening right now. The Mars rover is busy exploring that planet on our behalf.  Voyager I, launched 35 years ago, is set to leave our solar system and show us what's happening beyond. Is there anything cooler than that? No, there is not. And during this exciting time, we pause to honor the life and achievements of the first man to plant a foot on our moon, Neil Armstrong. He's seeing a whole different side of the moon now. My point is, if you're discouraged with some of the slime hitting you from all sides here on earth, just look up. The possibilities and inspiration are limitless.

Impending autumnal awesomeness. For me, Autumn is the season of hope. Cooler weather, new beginnings, Halloween, colorful trees, sweaters and corduroy, the smell of dry leaves, Thanksgiving. Humidity and heat give way to crisp, breathable air that clears away summer's lazy sluggishness. It's a time of energy, clear thinking, creativity. Suddenly, I have the gumption to attack my lengthy to-do list. Buh-bye sticky Summer. Hello, awesome Autumn! You can't get here fast enough for me.

Great books in a million different ways. My little summer reading self-challenge has led to my discovery of some wonderful, weird, challenging books available for my reading (via old school real live book or Kindle) and listening (thanks, New York Public Library, for free audiobooks!) pleasure. I've fallen in love with biographies and autobiographies again. I've rediscovered non-fiction, at least the kind that is well-written, non-academic. I've gotten great recommendations from friends, both in real time and via Goodreads. Friends, there is some great stuff out there. Stay away from the political, but seek out something that will pique an old interest or spark a new one. You don't need reality TV or battling news commentators. Life is so much bigger than that.

Food. In general. Preferably with Family and Friends. Beef stew. A smoothie of fresh fruits and berries. Lobster roll. The perfect hamburger. Apples (in any form). Grilled cheese sandwich. Pie (in any form). Well, I could go on and on. Insert your favorite food here. Yeah, yeah. Obesity, blah-blah. Shouldn't live to eat, etc. And I am not advocating constant, unhealthy pigging out. But, oh rational souls, you know the thrill of a first bite of premium ice cream or a loaded baked potato. Especially if you're sharing your food-fix with loved ones. It gives hope that all things are possible. Life can continue. Why use reality TV as a guilty pleasure? That's what chocolate is for. Need ideas? Get thee to Pinterest.

There. That's enough to get me on the road to the Bright Side. It might work for you, too. Add in some family love and faith in whoever your Creator may be, and you're on your way.  Eschew (see how I work that word in once in a while?) the soul-sucking and opt for the life-lifting. Give it a try. Eschew. Opt.

And always look on the bright side of life.