The Great Plotnik

Friday, September 30, 2011

Sunny Day in New Shmork

You can be a homer at a ballgame but it's hard to do at a poetry reading. Plot and Duck wanted to stand up and cheer for the Great Dance-Nik, maybe even display a banner for the cameras, and certainly cheer obscenely loudly for her when her name was brought up again at the end, but, seeing as they were in the small basement of a cafe in the Village, Dance-Nik would have been embarrassed by such a show of hometown favoritism.

Her poems were great and so were those of many of the other readers. Nothing this time about teeth. It was a fun evening.

Earlier in the day Plot and Duck took Isabella on the wrong day to The Natural History Museum. The Jewish holidays closed all the schools in New Shmork, so every child's caregiver brought him to the museum. It took half an hour just to stand in line and get a ticket, and once inside -- well, Belly just wanted to get outside. She is having a little trouble adjusting to sharing Mom and Dad, but in a few days she'll have her normal routine back.

She knows how to sit on the arm of the subway bench, waiting for the G to the A to the C.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Muscle Training and a List of Holidays

Even God has trouble finding a place to park in NYC. These are the holidays when New York City officially suspends its Alternate Side of the Street Parking enforcement.

New Years Day*Saturday, January 1
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Monday, January 17
Asian Lunar New Year Thursday, February 3
Lincoln's Birthday Saturday, February 12
Washington's Birthday (Presidents' Day)Monday, February 21
Ash Wednesday Wednesday, March 9
Purim Sunday, March 20
Passover Tuesday, April 19–Wednesday, April 20
Holy Thursday (Western and Orthodox) Thursday, April 21
Good Friday (Western and Orthodox) Friday, April 22
Passover (7th & 8th Days) Monday, April 25–Tuesday, April 26
Memorial Day*Monday, May 30
Solemnity of the Ascension Thursday, June 2
Shavuot Wednesday, June 8 - Thursday, June 9
Independence Day*Monday, July 4
Feast of the Assumption Monday, August 15
Idul-Fitr Tuesday, August 30–Thursday, September 1
Labor Day*Monday, September 5
Rosh Hashanah Thursday, September 29–Friday, September 30
Yom Kippur Saturday, October 8
Columbus Day Monday, October 10
Succoth Thursday, October 13–Friday, October 14
Shemini Atzereth Thursday, October 20
Simchas Torah Friday, October 21
Diwali Wednesday, October 26
All Saints Day Tuesday, November 1
Idul-Adha Sunday, November 6–Tuesday, November 8
Election DayTuesday, November 8
Veterans Day Friday, November 11
Thanksgiving Day*Thursday, November 24
Immaculate Conception Thursday, December 8
Christmas Day*Sunday, December 25
Christmas Day (Observed)*Monday, December 26

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Kindergarten and Ground Zero

Isabella still isn't completely sure about leaving Dad's knee in the morning to go into her Kindergarten class. But by the afternoon she's forgotten all about it and is having a ball at the playground with her friend Leila.

Plot and Duck rode the A train in from Brooklyn to walk around the Ground Zero Memorial, but the fact is there is so much construction going on you can't get in to see the reflecting pond without a reservation made three months in advance.

But it doesn't really matter. The new tower going up is very, very beautiful.

It will, by itself, take the place of the old towers, and the memorial will be there to keep the events alive. But it is not the building nor the political events that stun you down here. It's the juxtaposition of this enormous tribute to man's technological prowess in early 21st Century America next to St. Paul's Church, the oldest continually occupied building in Manhattan, where George Washington went to worship right after he was elected President.

The old tombstones are weathered and for the most part illegible, but the ones you can still make out are their own memorials -- John, son of John and Jane, age 1 year 7 months. General Lapideaux, Hero of The War of Liberation. His wife Ann. Many others whose names can no longer be read. The markers are still there, but for who?

Imagine a time when all of Manhattan looked like this. And here is how it looked a month or so after the attacks.

The construction noise is just about overwhelming. Imagine the loudest street sounds you've ever heard -- this is the sonic base line at Ground Zero now. It never gets quieter, probably not even at 4am. There are a few protesters singing songs out on Broadway, but nobody really seems to understand why they are there are what they are protesting. Meanwhile, it's business as usual along the old cobblestones of Wall Steet and Liberty Street and John Street and Ann Street and Broad Street and Maiden Lane, and down by the river where they've built new financial towers. Business as usual is strangely reassuring down here.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Dan's Birthday Part Two: Cheeses!

There was a time when the San Gennaro Feast in Little Italy was the highlight of the year for The Great Plotnik, who reveled in the Southern Italian craziness of the scene...the fried onions, the sausages, the cannoli...

Now, maybe not so much. The trash, New York's finest, the lack of much Italian about the whole scene anymore. It's pretty much like a far bigger multiiculti event now.

Still, it was a fun Sunday afternoon with Belly, 5H and PD...

...which led to a ride on the L Train to The Great PD's birthday dinner, in a restaurant less like Manhattan than anything you could imagine.

You get off the train in Bushwick -- the land that gentrification forgot.

Or did it? When you walk in this door at concrete block Roberta's it's the Twilight Zone again. Outside: graffitti, homeless people, the roll of the dice.

Inside: Chaos. An hour and a half wait for a table, a holding pen out in the back near the vegetable gardens where you sit on picnic benches inside a yurt and drink your damson plum cocktails and craft beer that was brewed around the corner, while you wait for your name to be called. This place could not exist in Shmalifornia. And it would have perhaps been a little bit too much, except for the Cheeses Christ.

Yes, it's a pizza. And it is phenomenal, especially when you add honey to it, which makes it the Cheeses H. Christ. It was so good we had one CHC and then ordered another, to go with the calzone and the seventeen other things.

Isabella went into her I LOVE THIS BREAD AND BUTTER dance. Soon she was standing on her chair. You've got to love a restaurant where they let a five year old sit at the bar.

DC Niecey and the artist formerly known as the Kazakh Desert Princess got taken to Roberta's when they were in Brooklyn a few months ago, and are said to have loved it. It's so -- so -- impossible. Hipsters in Bushwick serving pork jowl and damson plum gin. Maybe you have to know Bushwick to see how insane this is. And yet. What a blast. Cheeses H!!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

PD's Birthday: Doughnuts

For your birthday you get whatever you want. The Great P-D decided he wanted doughnuts.

The irony is thicker than the glaze. "Dough," the $2 doughnut shop, is on the corner across the street from the projects. Think about it.

They're very good doughnuts for sure. Belly went straight for the chocolate. Plottie liked the fruit glaze and the coconut. The dulce de leche was great. All glazed, all the time, store busy,

Hats look good on pretty girls.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

It's Brooklyn, Baby. SO MANY PEOPLE!

This morning's beginner's ballet class at the Mark Morris Dance Academy was jam-slat-packed to the rafters with little girls, moms, a few dads and one grandma and grandpa that we know of. Ballet Bone and her friend Sophia ran around the room with the other girls, doing circles like Indy cars, then falling on the ground.

How would Plotnik know this, as onlookers were discouraged? The key word was 'discrete.' He couldn't stare straight through the little window, because the kids would be able to see him, but he could stare from the side, where the kids couldn't see him, at the mirror on the wall inside, and thereby see the reflection of everything that was happening, which was, as he said, they were all running around in circles, then falling on the ground, then running around in circles again. This is called Transition to Ballet.

How do you like those tutus?

It's humid -- large rainstorm rolled through yesterday and more are forecast for the weekend. It's hot when the sun comes out -- Plotnik remembers Hot and Humid from the Bad Old Days. As far as he can make out, there is no advantage to running into both Hot and Humid at the same time, unless you're at the beach.

Brooklyn! So many people! The bagel store is packed. The muffin shop is packed. The ballet class academy is packed. There is a line of, no exaggeration, at least 1,000 people and probably a lot more, mostly middle school age kids and their parents, stretching at least four city blocks. The people in this line are waiting to get into the High School Fair, participation at which is mandatory for anyone who doesn't want to go to his or her assigned High School, which appears to be everybody. The Crap Shoot for school kids is probably no worse in NYC than in other cities, but there are SO MANY PEOPLE!

It's still wonderful here.

Plotnik learned something yesterday on the Virgin America flight from SFO. Once people get involved with those little touch-em screens on the seatbacks in front of them they zombie out and become completely docile. If terrorists had tried to hijack that airplane they would have had to make an announcement that people could read on their screens or nobody would have noticed.

"Hello. We hope you enjoyink Tirty Rock. Please to place hands on head. No, dis not hokey pokey."

Friday, September 23, 2011

Nobody's Superstitious Around Here

Two suitcases zipped up ahead of time. This probably means the plane is delayed. Not that Plotnik pays any attention to omens anymore when it comes to air travel.

He's taking his heavy leather jacket, which guarantees a heat wave in Brooklyn, and he's taking his computer, which means power outages up and down the East Coast. He and Duck finished off a good bottle of wine last night to erase the possibility of the upcoming Saint Plotniko earthquake getting ALL the wine.

Not that Plotnik is superstitious.

He was thinking back this morning to October of 2001, when he and Duck flew back to NYC to see BZWZ and make sure the world was still spinning in its familiar orbit. It was only one month after 9-11 and the airport was pretty empty, except for that kid Plotnik convinced himself was a terrorist. He outed the kid to the woman at the ticket counter and the feds came over and really put that poor guy through the wringer. His crime was that Plotnik was scared to fly that day.

Who was that Plotnik? Is this Plotnik that Plotnik?

Not really. Too many long plane flights in the interim, which make flying to NYC like a rabbit hopping from berry bush to berry bush.

Speaking of bush, Plotnik surfed onto the Republican debate last night. Perry is scary, but not so much for what he says (he's probably not much different than any of the others at heart -- a politician who would like to win above all and will do or say whatever he thinks he should to accomplish that purpose).

His scariness comes from the realization that he may be another George Bush -- but better looking and younger. He cannot string together two sentences. He can't think or speak on the fly. He mumbles and spews out things he memorized, but didn't memorize very well. Criminy. Is this what the Republican party has become: the haven for the average?

Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free? Sorry. No room. Give instead your average, your inconsistent, your simplistic, your jingoistic, your bible-belters, your education-ignorers. Give us your angry. Your fearful. Give us your average and let them lead us.

Here's a thought: You've got Bill Clinton and Barack Obama on one side, and you've got George Bush and Rick Perry on the other. Who do you feel most comfortable with as your leaders?

Can it be any more obvious? Well, apparently.

These pizzas were consumed almost exactly one year ago in Brooklyn. Here we come again.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Bikes and Tykes

Plotnik hasn't used his automatic watering system all year. There was so much rain early this season and he wouldn't use it now either except when he and Duck go back East he doesn't want his plants to die.

What plants? They're all dying anyway. Why is he doing this? No reason.

Plottie bought padded shorts yesterday (no, not to buff out his Great PlotParts, but because when you take a long bike tour you're supposed to wear shorts padded on the bottom to save yourself from saddle sores). If you want to see the route that Plot, PD and old friend Chris are planning to take, see Great Allegheny Bike Trail.

The fall colors should be beginning -- it sounds like a wonderful weekend. This means Plottie will stay East a week longer than Duck, who has classes she can't miss.

But last night he was surfing the Dumb-o-sphere and found this wonderful movie called Gigantic with Paul Dano and Zoey Deschanelle and John Goodman playing basically the same character he played in Treme, only even larger. Man, he is getting HUGE! Ed Asner is in the movie too, and at the very end he gives a toast to his new granddaughter and says: "To Mae -- many happy birthdays and I will be at every one!"

Plot realized with a thump that he is missing Isabella's birthday this year by three weeks -- for the second time. This is not a good precedent to set. It just isn't. Some day they won't care whether or not Grandpa and Grandma live or die -- no, they will care if they die. But as far as living -- not so much. It makes no sense not to take advantage of all the sweet hours you get, before you turn into an obligation.

Who, Plotnik? Feeling a little stressed because his mom said she fell off her stool while talking to Duck on the phone the other night? Turns out she didn't fall, she just dropped her phone. She got confused. Quality of life, you know? Do it while we can.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Elsu and Nova

This posting is primarily for The Great PD and the Great 5H. They were sadly missed and constantly talked about yesterday at Elsu and Nova's wedding.

The Plotniks have known Elsu a long time and Nova for quite a few years now. Yesterday they decided to make it all legit -- and what a wedding it was.

For one thing, they held the party on some funky farm down below Pescadero -- the opposite of flash and the essence of a good time. An eight piece Cuban salsa band didn't hurt.

When the ceremony was over, Ishaan got to promenade out with his mom.

For someone who said he was really nervous, Elsu seems like the Godfather of Cool here.

(Lots of folks at this party have names that defy Spellcheck. Apologies in advance.)

Elsu's sister Cheyenna flew in from Japan.

Plot and Duck had been proud to be included, but they figured they wouldn't know anyone at the party except Elsu and Nova. How wrong they were. Many of The Great PD's UC Santa Cruz friends were there, most of whom spent significant time with their feet under the dining table at Great Plotnik World Headquarters. And all of them seem to have babies themselves now.

Old friends Maggie and Seba were there with their little boy Lucas. (Yes, NotThat, Captain Crow and JL -- yet ANOTHER Lucas.)

The flower girls. Trish's Kawayan is in the middle. Isabella would have felt right at home.

And what does a sensible caterer serve with so many kids at a party? Grilled cheese sandwiches and peanut butter sandwiches. (Plus other delicious stuff.)

This is Jen's daughter Naya on Maggie's shoulders -- Jen's arms are dancing with her.

Plot and Duck are sorry not to have more contact with so many of these great people, but that's the way it goes. Just like with Nick and Jade's wedding in LA a few months ago, it is always an amazement to Plotnik that his kids have such cool friends.

Everyone has babies. Everyone has new memories to go with the old ones. And everyone seems to have shot a little pool and eaten a little food with Plot and Duck. And now they're all getting married. The party's just getting started.

Friday, September 16, 2011

It's Too Sweet

Mummy P. kept saying she didn't like that Thai Iced Tea because it was too sweet, but she drank it all anyway and Plotnik, who had ordered it, didn't get any.

If you've never seen Marga Gomez perform her one-woman shows, what are you waiting for? "Not Getting Any Younger" opened last night at the SF Marsh and runs Thu-Sun through October. Plottie sat in back of a certain Bird Wrap Theater Reviewer (yes, he uses a pen with a little light on it and shields his neighbors from the light with the back of his hand), and he and his wife were in hysterics too.

Much of the show is about Marga's mom. Moms seem to be on all our minds these days -- Marga Gomez has already done two solo shows about hers, and the segment in "Not Getting any Younger" about Máma Gomez and the Chubby Checker Twist Contest is a classic.

Plotnik's show about his mom would have to be called "It's Too Sweet. (Slurp.)"

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The hearing Test

The ear doctor asked questions (Do you turn your television up REALLY loud?), Mummy P. said 'no' and Plotnik wrote 'yes' on the checklist. They were ready for people who are in denial about their hearing and were extremely understanding during the examination. And we were only ten minutes late.

Yes, indeed, Costco has a hearing center just like they have a vision center, and though Plottie has never been convinced about the Costco eye doctor, the ear exam was thorough and state-of-the-art. It was way nicer than old Dr. Earbottle down the street.

Different for sure than Plotnik's abortive army physical all these years ago -- when he tried so hard to fail the hearing test and all the other tests too, but all were unfailable. You only had to answer "yes" to the question: "Are you breathing at this very moment?" and you were in.

So now, Mummy P. knows she needs hearing aids. Her high end is gone (women's voices, music, anything soft). We will try to convince her to follow through. But the most important thing the doctor said was "If the patient doesn't really want these, you are wasting your money. She won't wear them and she'll never get used to them." By last night she had already forgotten much of the test and was saying, once again, that she didn't think she had a hearing problem and didn't understand why everybody else kept telling her she did.

One thing is certain: if she gets hearing aids, the quality of her life will go 'way up and that will lead to better health. She'll be able to do things like listen to music that she has stopped doing. She says she understands all that. So, all right then.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

All This in One Hour? Ha ha ha.

Plotnik is walking in with his mom from the back patio, which is where she is exiled when she wants to smoke. We have an appointment at the ear doctor in one hour. The ear doctor is fifteen minutes away by car. But Mummy P. is still in her pajamas. She needs to use the bathroom again so Plottie is helping her maneuver herself to her walker, which she can push towards her goal.

She stops in the middle of the living room. Plotnik is standing next to her. He waits for her to continue.

"Mom, could you walk a little slower?" he says. (He thinks this is funny.)

"My hip hurts," she says.

Plotnik looks at his watch.


Mummy P.'s night helper quit suddenly yesterday. She got into an argument of some kind over money with Mummy P., but no one else was here and M.P. cannot remember exactly what transpired.

Fortunately, Plottie is in town and will be here until tomorrow, and it is also clear that the terrible storm of the last few months has passed. She does not need help at night anymore. We only need someone here "in case."

This will all resolve itself. But it has to start with Plottie's mom moving her walker from the middle of the living room towards the powder room and then out of the powder room towards her clothing and then out the front door to the garage and into the car and then out of the car and into Costco where the ear doctor is but she'll have to find the bathroom at Costco first.

Can all this possibly be done in an hour?

Ha ha ha ha ha, no way Jose. But we're trying.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9-11 Funnies

This one was the cartoon Plotnik liked best today -- baby Wren builds towers with her blocks as everyone else watches, knowing what happens to towers built out of blocks when the baby gets done with them.

The Sunday Comics all had a 9-11 theme. Most were the same -- like Wanda here, most characters had their heads bowed and hand over their hearts, except for Charlie Brown who just trailed along behind everyone else as always. But Charles Schulz died in 2000. It's a good thing Snoopy never found out about it.

For the most part, Plotnik can't stand the militarism of this day. It may as well be St. Army Day. So now we've got November 11 and September 11 and Memorial Day and don't forget December 7. He just looked up to see four Blue Angels jets buzzing Giants Stadium. He heard it here and then saw it on TV. But there are still places like Arizona who don't want to celebrate Martin Luther King's birthday. It's a sickness.

Of course, Plotnik feels a nostalgic sadness too, like everyone else, for the world that existed before Osama and the Shoe Bomber and Tim McVeigh and the Unibomber and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. But, hey. It's gone, baby. In our lifetimes we won't have any more simplicity, nor innocence. We will have a police and army presence at all times, a barely concealed hatred for Muslims and an inability to grow beyond it.

Plotnik is not immune. He saw a one-woman show Friday night, in which the Muslim performer played five different roles, in each one her head covered by a hijab. In his review, Plotnik had to admit the hijab was a turnoff for him. How can a performer reach out to an audience if her clothing is meant to keep them away?

He would probably feel the same away if an Orthodox Jew or a nun was on stage trying to be funny. They'd have to be REALLY funny. But here on September 11, 2011, Plotnik freely admits he finds little humorous about Muslims.

But militarism and singing choirs and the Blue Angels and speeches about America Number One and skinheads wrapped up in the flag aren't a barrel of laughs either, are they?

It's OK. There are people to honor. They need remembering and we need to remember. We couldn't forget if we wanted to.