Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Vanishing New York & Mr NYC -- Blogs of a Feather

Once upon a time (2007, actually), two New Yorkers got brilliant ideas for blogs about their favorite city ...  one was called Mr NYC; the other, Vanishing New York

Unlike Mr NYC, Vanishing New York hit the big time. The eponymous Jeremiah's blog about the demise of Old New York City has attracted vastly more readers than Mr NYC ever did (and now a legit book deal and lots of media attention too). 

I bear no umbrage; Vanishing New York deserves its success. Its single-minded, determined effort to chronicle the changes of the NYC landscape is impressive and, especially these days, badly needed. It's a beautifully presented and extremely well-written blog.

Mr NYC has always been more general-interest and ramshackle. It's about everything and anything NYC. It has no specific focus. It has no specific theme. That's both its virtue and, I suppose, its shortcoming. 

But both blogs were born of a love for NYC and everything it means to people.

I do take some pride, however, that, while both Vanishing New York and Mr NYC started in 2007, mine started in March of that year and Jeremiah's began in July -- so this blog, technically, has some seniority. 

And yet, to quote Christopher Walken in "True Romance", that's of minor importance. What's of major effing importance is that both blogs started within months of each other at what was, in retrospect, an inflection point in NYC's history. Back then, the city was still recovering from the trauma of 9/11, the psychological wounds still raw, a sense of inertia still intact. But things were changing -- slowly at first, then faster and faster. NYC was, to quote then-Mayor Bloomberg, going from "open to business" to "back in business." The buildings were getting bigger and glassier, the mom and pop stores and old neighborhood businesses were disappearing at a quicker rate, and the already hot real estate market was turbo-charging thanks to the influx of foreign money. It was, many of us felt at the time, going to be a very different city in the years ahead. 

How right (unfortunately) we were. 

NYC in 2017 looks quite different than 2007. There are more and more big buildings, more and more chain stores, and less and less neighborhoods that look and feel like actual neighborhoods. This is still a great city but its spirit has been enervated by gentrification. 

Still, that spirit has not died completely. That spirit is reflected, in part, by Mr NYC and Vanishing New York and the fact that both blogs have lasted more than a decade. That fact should be a point of pride for both of us. So kudos to to both of us. May both blogs last another decade -- and more.

P.S. Grubstreet has a good list of some old school bars and restaurants that have yet to vanish. Go before they do! http://www.grubstreet.com/2017/08/22-low-key-bars-and-restaurants-in-nyc.html

Monday, August 14, 2017

"Electric Car" - They Might Be Giants @ Central Park Summerstage 8/12/2017


Great family show this past weekend. When there's so much sadness in the world, it's important to remember that there's still lots of beauty and joy. 

Friday, July 28, 2017

Naughty Nostalgia: Robin and Al

My favorite new show of the summer is the Netflix series GLOW (a.k.a the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling), a fictional comedy/drama about the crazy, off-the-wall syndicated show of the same name that ran on Saturday mornings from 1986 to 1990. If you haven't seen GLOW, you must! It's really good nostalgia.

Shows that look back several decades, to a specific time/place/scene, appears to be a new trend. Hence, the new HBO show The Deuce that'll premiere in September, about the 1970s NYC porn scene. I blogged about this  show recently and can't wait to see it. 

I don't remember the 1970s, and I sure don't remember the porn scene, but (Mom - if you're reading this, STOP NOW), I do remember Channel 35, the nasty after midnight cable channel that showed, well ... not porn exactly but the next best thing.

Namely, Al Goldstein's Midnight Blue, the only "porn" news show that's ever existed, and The Robin Byrd Show, where the host would interview various strippers and porn stars and they'd dance. 

Both shows were very bizarre and lots of fun. If you were a teenager in NYC in the last 20th century, it was paradise.  

Of course, today, in the age of the Internet, they shows are long gone. Al Goldstein is dead and Robin Byrd is doing live shows (I've blogged about both Al and Robin in the past, go to a Search for more). But the ways in which NYC has changed isn't just in the buildings that've been built and torn downs or the stores and restaurants that have closed, it's also what's on TV or on the radio or in the newspapers (see Liz Smith). They exist today only in our memories.

P.S. Robin Byrd is on Facebook and I sent her a message, asking for an interview, but she still hasn't responded. Robin, if you're reading, or if you're someone who knows her, please tell her to respond. I REALLY want to interview her!

Where have you gone, Liz Smith?

One of the reasons Donald Trump is (ugh yak puke) the President of these United States is because he became a so-called "tabloid darling" in 1980s NYC. He was "good copy" and sold papers (today it would "get clicks") and the city tabloids couldn't get enough of him. He got publicity, the papers got sales, and The Donald rose to become a reality star and finally POTUS. (I'm not happy about, it's just what happened.)

Perhaps his biggest chronicler and cheerleader was Liz Smith whose column appeared in the New York Post and other tabloids for decades. Liz Smith was the gossip columnist in NYC, no name was bigger, no one else got the biggest scoops -- in a city of 8 million people, no one knew more than her.

Liz Smith is now 94 and hasn't had a regular column in a city paper since 2009. And, as this article makes clear, as she watches her Frankenstein monster wreck havoc on the whole country, Liz Smith realizes that she's a relic of a different time, another city and another country. She bemoans these changes and wishes she was still in the game.

Everything changes.

P.S. When I'm 94, if I'm lucky to live that long, I don't think I'm going to want to work so God Bless her.  

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Studio 54@40


The legendary disco club Studio 54 opened in NYC forty years ago. Here is its story.

The Facelifts of NYC

The definition of plastic surgery is, "the process of reconstructing or repairing parts of the body ... either in the treatment of injury or for cosmetic reasons."

As this definition indicates, sometimes plastic surgery is necessary -- when people get disfigured, it helps them restore their appearance and improve their lives. But most of the time, plastic surgery is just tinkering, an attempt by people to "improve" their appearance even if they look fine to begin with. And, of course, the fact that it's plastic surgery means that they look less than natural, their appearance is no longer organic. The reality is that people who get plastic surgery usually look worse than they did originally. Most people who get plastic surgery do so because they want to look younger than they are -- but, in reality, they don't look younger, just weirder.

NYC has never been this boring -- or this weird. 

Boring, because the city is getting gutted and homogenized, the businesses and buildings that made them unique are being destroyed and replaced by mega chains and uninteresting glass constructions. Weird, because there's something unnatural about this transformation, about how the city no longer feels like a special place but some kind of McCity. We talk a lot about "gentrification" but really, in my mind, it's the equivalent of urban plastic surgery -- tinkering with the face of NYC in an attempt to improve it but that really just ruins it.

And there's a reason for this beyond the usual complaint about gentrification -- tourism. As this exhaustive article from VICE indicates, the bending over backwards to tourists in NYC is one of the reasons why this city feels less and less like it belongs to the people who actually live here.

Of course, the face of NYC has always been changing -- just in a more organic way.

Once upon a time, on Riverside Drive, there used to be amazing mansions lining this most beautiful of boulevards. However, as these mansions became more and more expensive for their residents to maintain, and as the demands for housing exploded, these mansions were torn down and made way for apartment buildings (the building I grew up in used to be the site of an old mansion). This article is about one of those mansions that, before it was destroyed, was touted to become the official residence for the Mayor of New York City (the plan fell through when Mayor LaGuardia quashed it and, instead, Gracie Mansion was chosen). So the face of NYC has always changed -- but it used to be for the benefit of the people, not the visitors.

That said, some wrinkles of the past still appear on the face of NYC today. Take, for instance, the Ear Inn, the watering hole in Lower Manhattan. It's over 200 years old and still in business. I recently went there with a friend and it's still a vibrant, busy place. We quite enjoyed ourselves and felt, for once, at home in our hometown.

As long as we preserve some aspects of the past, NYC won't be entirely plastic -- and its soul will never die.

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Fate of Diners in NYC

I love diners. Always have. I've dined at Per Se, Jean Georges, Nobu, and 11 Madison Park -- some of the fanciest restaurants in NYC -- but a good diner will always be my favorite place to eat in this town. If heaven had a restaurant, it would be a diner: phone book menus, big portions, refills, padded booths, you name it, I love everything about the taste and feel and vibe of diners. 

How can you not love a place that serves breakfast all day?

But like so many old-school institutions in NYC, places that provide comfort instead of glamour, diners are vanishing. They are being displaced, as is common now, by flashier "cafes" -- if they are being replaced at all (many are simply being closed down and replaced by retail stores). A great diner is like what NYC used to be -- affordable and inclusive -- and, as diners are pushed out by high rents and gentrification, they are replaced by what it's become -- expensive and exclusive. There are still some diners in NYC here and there but, more and more, they are becoming curiosities of the past, not stable parts of our present. As the current President might Tweet, "Sad!"
The withering of diners in NYC has not gone unnoticed. Grubstreet recently published an article and WNYC recently had a segment about the vanishing diners of NYC.  

And this is not a recent development. Back in 2007, in 2007, during the first months of this blog, I noted that the old Moondance Diner on lower 6th Avenue had been sold and literally moved out to a small town in Wyoming (this is the same diner where Jonathan Larson, creator of the musical Rent, used to work). I worked right near the Moondance in 2007 and I remember seeing this once thriving diner close, get uprooted out of the ground, and disappear. (Now some fancy building with an expensive restaurant exists there.) Anyway, I did a little research on what happened to the Moondance in its Western incarnation and it appears that it closed in 2012 and went up for sale. I can't find any more info about whether or not it was ever bought for the $300K asking price so, if you have any further info on the fate of this NYC institution, let me know! 

As for some of my favorite diner in NYC: the Neptune in Astoria. It's right on the corner of Astoria Boulevard, right after the Grand Central, next to the N/W train station. Everything about it's great: the location, the layout, you can always get a table, the service is great, the portions are big, and it's open 24 hours. It's still there and, for the ultimate NYC diner experience, the best place to go. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017


Forty years ago tonight NYC was plunged into darkness and the city was never quite the same again. Here are some memories that historic night.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

"Ford to City: Drop Dead" Redux

If I didn't have two little kids to raise, I would probably be spending every night this month at Film Forum. Until July 27, you can see some of the greatest movies made in NYC during the 1970s in a series called Ford to City: Drop Dead (inspired by the infamous 1975 Daily News headline).  

NYC in the 1970s has become an almost mythical place: a cauldron of crime and sleaze and deterioration but also a wellspring of excitement and creative activity, especially when it came to movies. The movies made in that decade and in this town are extraordinary: Panic in Needle Park, Serpico, The French Connection, Klute, Saturday Night Fever, Dog Day Afternoon, Where's Poppa?, Shaft, Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, Three Days of the Condor, Marathon Man, Annie Hall, Manhattan, The Warriors, Super Fly -- and that's just some of them! 

Almost all these movies are playing in this retrospective and it's truly a New York and movie junky's dream. Go see it and be immersed. 

Here's an article about the real life August, 1972 bank robbery that inspired the 1975 movie Dog Day Afternoon and the infamous line "Attica! Attica! Attica!"  

Friday, July 7, 2017

"Leaving New York" - Now only $0.99!

You can now download your copy of Leaving New York for only $0.99! Get it today!

Only on Amazon!

 

Thursday, July 6, 2017

The WNYC Municipal Archives

If you want to know what NYC looked like in earlier eras, there are countless photos you can find online and elsewhere of the city in the 19th and 20th century. You can see pictures of workers building the subways and the city's famous buildings, you can see the old-fashioned streets and lamp posts and street cars, you can see the old storefront signs and billboards, you can see famous New Yorkers of the past like Fiorello LaGuardia or Robert Moses, you can even watch old TV shows set in NYC like the original Tonight Show. When it comes to NYC's past, its visual legacy is secure. 

But what about the sounds? Old pictures can show was what the city looked like but what did it sound like?  

Well, WNYC has the answer. You can check out its amazing vault of radio broadcasts from the 1920s to today. You can hear famous New Yorkers giving speeches, getting interviewed, debating, and so much more. Listen to William F. Buckley debate Ramsay Clark. Listen to Ed Koch host a forum on drugs in 1969, long before he was mayor. Listen to a broadcast from January 1, 1950, where people wonder what the next 50 years of the 20th century will be like. Listen to a pastor bemoan the tawdry state of Times Square.

It's all here at the WNYC Municipal Archives website. Listen to the past, then contemplate our future.  

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

For City & Country

What's the difference between a city and a country? The answer to this question is obvious -- and not. Both are places of some geographic size with boundaries (either natural or not) where people live. The main difference is that a city is an urban, somewhat-to-very densely populated area that usually is no more than several miles from end to end while countries are (or can be)  vastly larger spaces with various and multiple geographies and populations living in it.

A lot of this affects how they're governed. Cities are usually run by mayors, people who run their governments to deliver basic services to their populations, a day-to-day manager who keeps a going-concern going (some cities don't even have mayors, they have "city managers"). Countries, on the other hand, are led by people for whom the day-to-day delivery of services of part of the job but mostly a county's leader is to shape its future and establish its place in the world. In short, mayors play small ball but a country's leaders necessarily play large ball. Small picture vs. big picture, mirco vs. macro, etc. you get the idea.

So what happens when a man with a small ball, small picture, micro mentality assumes the leadership of the greatest nation in the world?

That brings us, inevitably and depressingly, to Donald Trump, currently inhabiting the White House as the 45th President of the United States. As this article notes, Trump is not treating the White House and the Presidency with the reverence and sense of overarching mission that most presidents do -- he's treating it like a jumped up City Hall.

In order to assert their authority and get stuff done, mayors spend a lot of time, as we in NYC politely put it,  "breaking balls" -- of the press, of political opponents, of the bureaucracy, of anyone holding up, or making the business of, the city more difficult. Presidents, on the other hand, leave the ball breaking to others and spend their time leading the government and the people into a vision of progress.

If you look at a mayor like Ed Koch, he was effective because he constantly broke balls. But could you have imagined him the White House? Would you want to? Similarly, presidents like Reagan or Obama successfully inspired and led their nations -- but could you imagine them dealing with the day-to-day nastiness of leading NYC? Me neither. Don't think so.

Trump is a very bad president because he thinks that he can somehow lead the government and his country by breaking balls, like he's the mayor of a city of 300+ million people -- and this just doesn't work. Never has. Think of the presidents who inspired America, like FDR and Reagan, and how effectively they motivated and led the nation. Then think of someone like Rudy Giuliani, who broke balls constantly as mayor and was effective at it but failed to translate that into the presidency. The job of mayor and president are very, very different, and Trump just doesn't seem to understand that.

There's a reason why we want our presidents to be "presidential", why we hold them to a higher standard in terms of comportment, why their vision and leadership is so important -- it's about our future as a nation and our role in the world. Mayors aren't expected to do that or be like this; if anything, we like that they're people on the ground who get us through the day -- and hey, if they gotta crack a few skulls, so be it.

But there's another very interesting thing in this article comparing the Trump presidency to a mayoralty. Unlike previous presidents, mayors in the past have had no problem being, like Trump, openly racist, hate-mongering vulgarians who sparked division and fostered an atmosphere of ethnic tension. Ethnic politics, after all, has been the staple of city politics since the beginning of time but presidents have, mostly, avoided ethnic politics. But Trump doubles down on white racist ethnic politics.

Why?

Because, in the past, Trump-like mayors usually exposed the death-rattle of white ethnic dominance. In the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, cities like LA, Chicago, Philadelphia and, of course, NYC, had openly racist, hate-mongering vulgar mayors like Sam Yorty, Frank Rizzo and our own Ed Koch and Rudy Giuliani. In their day, they represented and governed in the interest of white voters who were petrified that their cities were "changing" i.e. becoming less white, more tolerant, more progressive, etc. etc. etc. These racist mayors aimed to protect the white population and spent all their time talking about "fighting crime" (i.e. arresting blacks), "ending dependency" (i.e. welfare for blacks), "restoring order" (i.e. more arresting blacks), trashing the media (i.e. Jews), protecting our neighborhoods (i.e. keeping non-white people out) -- you get the idea.

This kind of politics worked for a while but, in the end, it failed. As the saying goes, demographics is destiny. These mayors went away and  were replaced either by black mayors or by a new generation of white mayors governing in very different cities in very different times and in very different (i.e. less racist) ways. The cities changed and the politics followed. Today, in big cities, white ethnics are still around, they still make noise, they vote, but they simply don't have power they once did because they are outnumbered by non-white (I'm a white guy in NYC so I know). Most big cities are majority-minority now. Bloomberg and De Blasio, as different as they may be, simply could not be the same kind of hate-mongers like Koch and Giuliani were and expect to stay in office. The USA is expected to be a majority-minority in the next few decades so, one day, a president like Trump will be impossible. He'll simply be a curiosity of history, a to another time and place, a man of the past who fought but ultimately lost the battle to keep the future away.

P.S. Here's another great article about that time and place where Trump came from, namely the NYC of the 1970s and 80s.  

Friday, June 23, 2017

Gabe Pressman, RIP

The legendary NYC reporter Gabe Pressman died today at the age of 93. Pressman was an institution in this city, covering every mayor from William O'Dwyer in the early 1950s to Bill De Blasio today. If you wanted to know what was going on this town, Pressman knew. A TV reporter, he was as comfortable reporting form the streets as he was interviewing the powerful from a studio. He knew every inch of this city, understood its complexities, and helped New Yorkers learn more about their hometown than anyone else. He'll be missed.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Mr NYC in Denver

It's been a while since yours truly hit the road -- working full time and raising two kids will cramp your wanderlust -- but last month some friends and I did just that and headed west. We ventured to the capital of the Rocky Mountain region, the Mile High City, better known as Denver, Colorado.



Despite traveling a lot in my younger days, including living in the Midwest for college and going to the West Coast several times in my teens and twenties, I'd never been to the Central Time Zone region of these United States. We settled on Denver because most of us had either never been there or hadn't gone for a long time. Denver reminded me of two other cities I've blogged about on here: the hipster-ish Portland, OR and the industrial Kansas City, MO. Like those cities, Denver is a repository for a certain kind of person, someone with ambition but someone who also values beauty and fun. People from all over the country settle in Denver. At one point, someone overhead me speaking and asked if I was from the East Coast. When I confirmed that I was, he said he was a transplant from Boston -- so there you go.



On our first night, we went to the Fillmore Auditorium and saw a great, rocking Irish band called Flogging Molly. This was one of the most crazy, out of control shows I've ever seen. Just as impressive was the Fillmore itself. It's a massive concert venue like the Bowery Ballroom or Irving Plaza but even bigger.  The only word to describe it is cavernous. There are maybe half a dozen bars (or more) inside the hall and there are big chandeliers that hang from the ceiling. If you ever get to Denver, I strongly suggest seeing a show there -- it's quite a scene.



Next day, after beating jet lag, we saw a baseball game at Coors Field in downtown Denver. There's nothing particularly special or distinct about this stadium but, when you're used to seeing baseball games either in the Bronx or Flushing, there's something very cool about seeing the Rocky Mountains right beyond the bleachers. After the game, we strolled along the main street (I believe it was called Market) and went to Union Station. Unlike train stations in other cities (the Union Station in DC comes to mind) this one is very small. However, if you sneak upstairs, there's an almost secret bar area where you can get some amazingly good cocktails. If you're ever in Denver, and want to find a nice quiet spot to hang, this one is perfect. More strolling followed, where went walked around Confluence Park. It's a not a particularly beautiful park but there are two small rivers that merge here -- hence the "confluence." This area is where, if the signs are to be believed, the city of Denver was founded.



The next day consisted mostly of strolling. Denver is the capital of the state of Colorado so we walked around the impressive capitol building. The seat of Colorado government borders the main downtown area and another neighborhood that can only be called "funky" -- lots of bars, restaurants, bookstores, and people walking around with long hair, ripped jeans, and tattoos. The capitol is right across the street from city hall, the two buildings almost in a face off, as these two photos taken from each vantage point will attest. Nearby are some contemporary art museums and the massive public library. On the streets are some quite interesting public art displays. 



A few blocks away is the American Museum of Western Art. From the outside, it looks quite small, basically a converted townhouse. But inside it's a multiple story museum with an incredible array of paintings by Western artists both past and present. Western art is true genre unto itself and, not surprisingly, it's highly influenced by the Renaissance and Hudson River styles. There are paintings of cowboys, Native Americans, settlers, land wars, even people making movies in the desert. Again, this is a place I highly recommend if you ever get to Denver.



We spent most of our final full day out of town in Rocky Mountain National Park. I'm not much of an outdoors/hiking/nature type but, I must say, venturing around this gorgeous preserve was a religious experience pour moi. The mountains and valleys, the glaciers, the lakes and forests combine to create an milieu and experience where you see and feel the true beauty of this world, God's handiwork (if you believe in God), the veil between heaven and earth worn thin. I've never felt more at peace, more mellow, than seeing this place. I hope these photos due it some justice. One day I hope to go back.



 




Finally, on our way to the airport, we checked out the Molly Brown Museum. If you ever saw Titanic or The Unsinkable Molly Brown, you know the story of this woman who married money and made something of it. Unlike the vulgarian in the aforementioned movie or the singing/dancing lady in the latter, Molly Brown was a woman ahead of her time: a feminist, a humanitarian, a passionate believer in education and civil rights; she was a pioneer woman with a pioneer spirit. Her house, located in a residential downtown neighborhood, is a tasteful and elegantly preserved home. It was one of the first historic houses that I've seen that had "modern" features i.e. a telephone, electricity, refrigeration.  Like its namesake, the Molly Brown house is a link from the past that stretches into our present and future.



One more thing about Denver that some of you might be curious about: I can confirm that, as one of our cab drivers said, people in this town "Love dat weed!" Colorado is one of a small handful of states in the union where recreational marijuana is legal and, as you might imagine, it's quite popular. There are dispensaries all over and the smell of "dat weed" is all over the city. Go to Denver and, if you wish, go get yourself some legal pot -- and realize why it's so dumb that it's still illegal in most of the rest of the country, including here in NY.


I enjoyed Denver and hope to return one day. We ate in lots of great restaurants and did lots of walking. If you're a New Yorker, that makes it an especially great town to visit.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

"Leaving New York" - Extra Excerpt!

Excerpt from Leaving New York by Tony Dunlap:

 “G-Spot uncorked the bottle and held it up. “Care to sniff the product?” They did so. Smells like paint thinner, thought Tommy. G-Spot got out three shot glasses and poured a small amount of Scotch into each. He asked Tommy, “What do you think of our establishment?”

“Very cool. I didn’t think the place would be so huge.”

“Not only that, but the acoustics are great. Good feature for a karaoke bar.”

“And I love the Asian theme. I guess that’s typical of most karaoke bars but you guys really pulled it off here. It’s elegant instead of tacky.”

“Eric deserves the credit for that.” G-Spot handed a full shot glass each to Tommy and Eric. “My skills are mostly related to the dispensing of alcohol and the occasional oversight of personnel. Mr. Steinberg is the one who put this place together.”

“I love everything Asian,” said Eric. “And everyone Asian!"

“May I propose a toast then,” said G-Spot. The three men held their shot glasses aloft. “To profit! And to Tommy’s arrival. May your time with us be joyful.”

“Cheers!” shouted Eric.

Tommy agreed. “Cheers!”

They all clinked and took a shot. The fire-smoked wood liquor burned Tommy’s throat and stomach yet had a wonderfully strong aftertaste. Eric grabbed the bottle, re-filled the glasses, and proposed another toast. “To the Japanese ...”

“Clink. G-Spot added, “They make such bloody good cameras.”

Get it today at  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0727QQ7FX for only $3.99!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Updates to Mr NYC

If you look to your right, you might notice a couple of things:

1. There is now a permanent link to my recently published novel Leaving New York -- download your copy today!

2. A Mr NYC Facebook page is currently under construction but you can link to it right now just to see what it is (or will be) all about. 

3. I'm currently working on creating a Mr NYC podcast -- more on that soon!

MTA: 2017 Summer of Hell


Thursday, June 8, 2017

"Leaving New York" - Even More Excerpts!

Excerpt from Leaving New York by Tony Dunlap:

“As they moved north to begin Jacob’s ghastly “witness” tour, numbness took hold of Tommy. Time ceased its feeling. The neat division of days, the predictable emotional chart of the week—the excitement of Fridays and Saturdays, the melancholy of Sundays and Mondays, the neutral arc of Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays—collapsed into sameness. The night no longer felt separate from the daytime, just a continuation of a blank temporal plane, much like the Texas landscape they drove through, an expanse of flatlands and desert, civilization hiding, nothing to see except the occasional batch of oil rigs and desolate towns. The car became less a mode of transport and more a lifeline to the familiar, to sanity. They drove constantly yet seemed to get nowhere, on and on, and on and on. And so they drifted . . .

. . . and drifted . . .

. . . drifting along Highway 90, bypassing Houston completely, as Tommy and Eric alternated driving duties, talking little, Jacob losing himself in his iPod, his white ear buds occasionally falling out, stopping for gas and food at rests stops . . .

. . . drifting onto Highway 45, passing through places called The Woodlands, Conroe, Willis . . . cutting through a patch of Sam Houston National Forest—finally some greenery!—then plunging back again into the barrenness, unceasing, relentless, the sun boiling the car in daytime, the air conditioner blasted “high, the nighttime dropping into sudden cold . . . hours and hours of silence, fiddling with the radio, trying to find a decent radio station, avoiding the country music and religious programming that predominated, listening to Eric’s iPod on occasion, giving him a needed dose of rap music, jiving to the Wu-Tang Clan, followed by the endless, endless, endless strains of “November Rain” by Gun’s’Roses . . .

. . . drifting by several more towns, including several “-villes”: Huntsville, Madisonville, Centerville—stopping, as always, for more food and gas, Eric calling his karaoke bar back in Portland, getting updates on how business was faring in his absence, agreeing with his manager to make this or that purchase, allowing such and such a person to be hired, one to be fired, yelling when he heard that his accountant hadn’t completed his taxes on time and he would have to pay for an extension, the delivery of an important piece of equipment that had been delayed . . .

. . . drifting further, everyone sleeping heavily at night in a bland motel, waking up early, awkwardly lingering around the “cramped room, watching TV while one or the other of them showered (the only real privacy any of them got was in the bathroom), all conversation between them exhausted, their laundry bulging in their bags, their supply of clean clothes dwindling, their hair getting longer, no barber shops in sight, their nerves jangling, close to fraying . . .

. . . drifting, inching more like it, towards Dallas . . .”

Get it today at  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0727QQ7FX for only $3.99!

What's the Best Broadway Song of the Last 40 Years?

I'm not a big fan of "best" lists -- you know, those intentionally provocative lists that attempt to compile, in some determinate order, what is the best of this and that when any such "best" conclusions are purely subjective. So I read this "30 Best Broadway Songs of the Past 40 Years" with a bit of skepticism -- and it justifies my skepticism. Some of the songs on the list are spot on - "Memory" from Cats, "Don't Cry for Me "Argentina" from Evita, "Sunday" and "Our Time" from Sondheim musicals. But "Beauty and the Beast?" Which is originally from a movie? "One Day More" from Les Miz but not "I Dreamed a Dreamed?" Come on! And no "Tomorrow" from Annie? As my five-year old daughter would say, "Are you kidding me?"
My favorite musical from the last few years, The Book of Mormon, shows up on this list with "I Believe" but that's not really the best song from that musical -- there several, like "You and Me (But Mostly Me)", "All-American Prophet" and several others that are quite better. My favorite is "Hassa Diga Eibowai" which is the funniest song I've ever heard. As this list and my observations prove, there's no "best" of anything -- just the continuing effort to make great work. That's what we should be celebrating.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

"The Deuce" - Upcoming HBO Show Set in 1970s NYC!


"Leaving New York" - Yet Another Excerpt

Excerpt from Leaving New York by Tony Dunlap:

“A truck zoomed past, the driver wearing a giant black cowboy hat, a bumper sticker on the back of the truck reading: SOMEWHERE IN KENYA, A VILLAGE IS MISSING AN IDIOT.
 
Tommy said, “I’ve never felt more like a Jew than at this very moment.”
 
“We gotta be careful,” said Eric. “We’re a bunch of New York Jews in a nasty Republican state. Everyone in Texas has a gun. I mean everyone. If you’re a Democrat here, it’s legal for them to shoot you. Don’t piss anyone off by saying the word ‘Obama.’ Watch ... out.” 

Get it today at  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0727QQ7FX for only $3.99!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

"Leaving New York" - Another Excerpt

Excerpt from Leaving New York by Tony Dunlap:

“Brandy looked flummoxed. “You guys are ... weird,” she said after a pregnant pause. She pointed at Arjun. “I thought he was cute, but—Jen, let’s go.” She rose up with Jenna following.

She looked back at Tommy. “Maybe I’ll see you in New “York.” 

Slightly inebriated, Tommy felt bold. He told Jenna, dead on, “Let me give you some advice, totally unsolicited. Don’t move to New York. New York isn’t what you think it is. Not anymore. It’s a parody of itself, and not even a very good parody. Stay here, or find another city to fall in love with. Go to Dubuque or someplace and make that cool. New York hasn’t been cool since 1978.”

Get it today at  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0727QQ7FX for only $3.99!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

"Leaving New York" - Now only $3.99!

To paraphrase Wally Brando from the new "Twin Peaks" series: "My dharma is the road. Your dharma ... is Leaving New York!"

Okay, just kidding. Still, if you like a good road story, or if you're into your dharma, read it today!

Got to https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0727QQ7FX to get your newly reduced priced copy! Now only $3.99!

You can also visit and Like the Leaving New York Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/leavingny/

Excerpt from Leaving New York by Tony Dunlap:

“You’re really high.” Eric grabbed Tommy’s shoulder again.

“What’re you doing?”


“Just come with me a sec.” They crossed the street and came to the edge of Riverside Park. Eric pointed towards the Hudson River and the twinkling lights of the mainland, quietly noble in the night air. “What do you see there?”


Exhausted, Tommy groaned, “Eric, what is this about?”


“Just tell me what you see, dude!”


“New Jersey!”


“No, dude. See, that’s your limited thinking right there. You imprison your own imagination, your view of the world. You’re just seeing what’s in front of you, not what’s beyond it. You don’t get what it means. You know what’s over there, T?”


“What?”


“Everything!”


“Oh dear God . . .”


“The future, dude. Manifest destiny! The whole . . . country. All of it's right there, just across the river. It’s like . . . we’re on the doorstep of America, right? And that river is the threshold. All you have to do is cross it and the rest of your life begins. Get off this tiny cramped island, get out of this cluster-fuck of a city, and go out into the great beyond. Just like our ancestors did. Re-blaze the trail, dude. Liberate yourself! Excelsior!”

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The History and the Power of 1977

Almost fifty years ago, the journalist Gay Talese published an explosive book about The New York Times called The Kingdom and the Power: The Story of The Men Who Influence The Institution That Influences the World. It was an expose about the people behind the mighty newspaper, the power behind the power, the rulers of this informational kingdom. Who were these people? Where did they come from? What did they do? How did it affect us?

In the mid-aughts, another journalist named Jonathan Mahler published a book about New York City in the pivotal year of 1977 called Ladies and Gentleman, the Bronx is Burning. It summed up how, in that one year, Rupert Murdoch took over the New York Post, Ed Koch got elected mayor, the cultural powerhouse Studio 54 opened, the Son of Sam killer was caught, the quintessential New York movies Annie Hall and Saturday Night Fever were released, and the Yankees capped the year by winning the World Series. It was an amazing year, the first full years of my life, and it profoundly affected how NYC was governed and perceived in the decades ahead. I blogged about it extensively here in 2007. 

But that year, and that time, was even more extraordinary than we realized even as late as 2007. Because back then the seeds that would come to rule not only NYC but our entire country were being planted.

As previously mentioned, the movie Annie Hall was released. The impact of that movie on our culture, the entire genre of late 20th and early 21st century romantic comedy -- ironic, revisionist, and sometimes even non-romantic -- was born. Who could have guessed, back then, the impact that movie would have on American culture? Who could have guessed that Woody Allen would still be making movies and winning Oscars 40 years later? And yet here we are.

This was also the year that a young radio DJ named Howard Stern began his broadcasting career. He wasn't in NYC yet, he was stuck at a little radio station in Westchester, but 40 years later he is the absolute King of All Media and one of the most powerful people in American culture.

But there was a dark side to accompany this cultural excitement. In 1977, NYC was still reeling from the 1975 fiscal crises when the city nearly went bankrupt. Never shy to seize an opportunity, this was the time when the rich took back control of NYC. No longer did the unions, the working people, and the political clubs run this town, at least not absolutely; instead, the financiers and the real estate developers asserted their clout, and austerity policies were forced upon the city's populace along with more lenient rules for the aforementioned financiers and real estate developers -- one of who was named Donald Trump. He was a product of that time, a time when the rich brushed away the impediments to their greed while the common people were trampled underneath it. Today, NYC and America are more economically unequal than ever -- and Donald Trump is, horrifyingly, president of the country.

The power of today started here in NYC in 1977. In many ways, that year, that time, has never ended. History is forever present. 

Friday, April 28, 2017

Now Available: "Leaving New York" on Amazon KDP

As previously announced, the big day has arrived! Yes, after four years of intermittent toil, yours truly, Mr NYC, has published his first novel. 

It's called "Leaving New York" and it's a road trip story about two friends set in the spring of 2011. So, if you're in the mood for an entertaining story and a little early nostalgia for the Obama era, this novel's for you!

Here's the little advertising spiel that better describes the book:

Calculating route . . .

Newly thirty, newly single, stuck in a boring job, and living with his father, Tommy Sayles is in the fast lane to nowhere.

But when his pal Eric Steinberg blows into town, unexpected events lead them to toss aside their lives and go on a wild road trip. Along the way, the friends encounter old acquaintances, new lovers, strange characters, big challenges, and unexpected joys. And yet, as they travel into an exciting future, the past isn’t far behind.

Journeying from the streets of New York City to the rolling terrain of the Midwest, barreling through the haunted underbelly of the South and the alluring danger of the West, going all the way to the sexy outrageousness of the Coast, Leaving New York is an unforgettable ride into the soul of America.

Friends can take you anywhere. 

You can buy it now on Amazon KDP at Leaving New York. Thanks! Hope you enjoy!