Friday, September 13, 2019

Eddie Money RIP

As a kid in the 1980s, listening to the now-gone radio station WPLJ, I loved the songs of Eddie Money. 

The child of an NYPD family from Brooklyn, Money went his own way, breaking into the music biz and moving to California, then turning out a string of big hit songs like "Think I'm in Love," "Two Tickets to Paradise", "I Wanna Go Back" and -- my two favorites -- "Walk on Water" and "Take Me Home Tonight."

These were rousing, musically dense, and heart-wrenching songs. Money's voice was full of longing, anguish, love, and determination. He was a crooner, a balladeer, the kind of popular singer who don't really have today but was big once upon a time. After a run of huge success, Money's fame receded but he kept touring, kept performing, and even appeared earlier this year on the new Netflix show "The Kominsky Method." 

Eddie Money died today from cancer at the age of 70. I couldn't find out much about his life since it appears that he was married to the same woman for 30 years, had 5 kids, and never got arrested or sued or into some big accident. He seems to have lived a stunningly normal life for someone who was such a talented singer and big star. But he was part of my childhood that is sadly gone and, both as a son of NYC and a singer, he'll be missed. 

Take your ticket to paradise, Eddie. You earned it. 

NYC 2019 Timelapse

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Remembering Windows on the World

Today is the 18th anniversary of the 9/11/2001 attacks and, as always, solemness reigns. The names of those killed are published and read out, tributes are paid to the first responders who saved lives and recovered bodies and cleared the massive debris, and people are forced to reflect  on how NYC, the country, the world, and the course of history was forever altered.

And in remembering 9/11, particularly nearly two decades on, it helps to remember the tangential casualties, the places and things that ceased to exist in the wake of nearly 3000 deaths. 

One of them was Windows of the World, the fashionable restaurant at the top of the towers.

On 9/10 it was thriving and on 9/11 it was gone, vaporized into history. Windows on the World, or WOW, was a popular and famous eatery where the food was secondary to the experience of dining a quarter mile into the sky, the entire city at its patrons feet. WOW was actually the highest grossing restaurant in the country until 9/11, and people clamored to take the long, head rushing elevator trip to eat overpriced food against an amazing view. As I recounted once before, I went to a party there once and the food was forgettable but the views were memorable. This was about two years before the tragedy and, in the years afterward, I couldn't believe that a place where I had once been was now totally and violently erased. 

This article recounts the story of WOW, it's beginning and its sudden end. Interestingly, WOW didn't open until 1976, about three or four years after the World Trade Centers opened. It was created, in part, to generate visitors and business to the towers. It worked -- big time. Amongst the tragedies, WOW was planning to celebrate its 25th anniversary in October, 2001 -- an anniversary that never happened, along with all the almost 3000 birthdays and life milestones that were also extinguished that day. 

It might be easy to say, "Well, who really cares about a restaurant?" when so many people died . But it's important to remember that some of the people who died worked and ate at WOW. Also, WOW wasn't just a business but a community of employees and patrons -- people loved going there and people loved working there. It was a unique place and a unique experience, one that can never quite be replicated -- just the like the World Trade Centers, just like NYC before 9/11/2001, and just like the past itself. 

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Classic Mr NYC

Once upon a time, as social media was becoming more and more prevalent in our lives, the concept of "crashing" -- people invading events they weren't invited to, then posting these escapades online in order to get clicks, attention, media coverage -- seemed to be a hot topic. A weird couple had crashed a White House state dinner, then posted their pictures of it on Facebook -- and all hell broke loose.

Well, like many things, what once seemed outrageous today now seems normal.

People are always crashing and disrupting events, then putting it on social media -- and no one really cares. It happens all the time. It's boring. But in 2010, I wrote what I thought was one of this blog's better posts about the topic of "crashing", it was still somewhat novel.

To me, people who "crash" are pathetic. As I said in the post, why go somewhere you aren't wanted only to look like the very kind of desperate, pathetic loser that would naturally not get invited to such events? Why announce to the world, "I'm an outcast! No one likes me!" Do people think they're going to win sympathy from people doing this? They just look like jerks.    

Gillibrand Drops Out

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

The Passing of Giants

In the last couple of weeks, two giants of NYC passed on -- the radio DJ Paco Navarro and the midtown movie theater The Paris.

Both defined an NYC that, as always, is vanishing.

So who was Paco?

He was an old-school personality DJ. He was also, in his small way, a transformative radio DJ. See, in the late 1970s he became a DJ at WKTU and made the suggestion that it switch to full-time disco music. The ratings for KTU exploded and the ratings for WABC -- up until then the king of music radio in NYC -- plunged. By 1982, WABC ceased to be a music station altogether, instead becoming a talk station, paving the way for the likes of Rush Limbaugh and the revolution of Republican talk radio. Of course, by 1982, disco had also withered so KTU became a classic rock station -- WXRK or K-ROCK -- and soon became the home to Howard Stern for 20 years. So Paco was unintentionally responsible for much of the shape of NYC radio for the last four decades. He was also notorious -- in the late 1980s, he was busted for drugs and spent some time in jail before getting out and triumphantly ending his career in Spanish language radio. He was a trailblazer, an icon, and he'll be missed.

Granted, the Paris movie theater was not person but its closing feels like a death to me.

Unlike most movie theaters that are big spaceship like multiplexes, the Paris was a modest single-screen theater that reflected its upscale setting (59th street and Fifth Avenue, across from the Plaza Hotel, Central Park, and Bergdorfs). It was beautiful, elegant, understated. It had a velvet screen that would rise just before showtime, and it showed art and foreign films (Merchant Ivory, etc.) for an affluent and cultured crowed. You don't remember most of the theaters you see movies in but you never forgot seeing a movie at the Paris -- I saw Howard's End, The Remains of the Day, Life is Beautiful, and The Company there. It was always great to see a movie there at night and walk out of this magnificent theater into the starry and light-filled world of modtown Manhattan. It made you feel great to be alive. But, alas, rising rents and changing viewer habits wrecked havoc on the Paris' business model. It couldn't keep up. And so, another giant of NYC, has passed into history.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Steve Winwood - "Talking Back to the Night"

1619 Project on NYC

The massive 1619 project that looks at how the legacy of slavery is central to the American identity is one of the most amazing feats of journalism I've ever seen?

And you should also read this to learn about how the legacy of slavery relates to NYC. 

It's both awful and fascinating, and you feel richer learning about it. 

Classic Mr NYC

Over the years I've blogged A LOT about the various islands that make up the archipelago of NYC. In fact, my coverage of this great topic has been exhaustive as can be seen here.

Well, as usual, Mr NYC  was ahead of his time because New York Magazine has just released a huuuuge article about the various islands of NYC -- complete with histories of each, pictures, and video. It's a great, deep dive that makes you look at NYC in a new way.

Just proud I thought of it first!