Jerry Garcia Band at the Capitol Theatre

Courtesy of Bill Graham’s archive and WNEW FM-NY, we have a wonderful, full-concert video of the Jerry Garcia Band, live at the Capitol Theatre in Passaic, NJ.

From March 1, 1980: a time when local radio stations would broadcast entire live concerts to the people! This is the early show from a 2-show evening, both of which are included on the album, Garcia Live: Volume One.

June is Bustin’ Out

Sitting in Shanghai Pudong airport before our flight
New York City bound!

When my wife said her company had to send her to New York to get some documents for her visa, there was no way I was going to miss that trip!

We landed at JFK on a Friday night and took a cab to a hotel in Midtown East. It was eerily quiet the next morning as we walked around our old office neighborhoods, and we had a comfortable brunch at one of those large places that are full of besuited businessfolk during the week, and took our pictures in a wide and empty Fifth Avenue, under a clear, blue sky.

We took the subway downtown and met some friends, wandering the streets with them and stopping in a bookstore to browse away the afternoon. In the evening, after we’d checked out of the hotel, we took a cab to my brother’s apartment uptown, where my mother and sister met us for dinner, and then we drove home with Mom to stay at her place a few days.

Happy Father’s Day!

Sunday was Father’s Day, and we spent it grilling out with Dad. 🙂

We took the train into the city on Monday and Tuesday, and went from one office to another to get X’s documents. She needed things from university as well as a “clean record” statement from the NYPD, as China requires for foreigners seeking work visas. The weather was absolutely perfect for June in New York City, as we walked the streets where we lived just a year ago, and which we had come to love.

Back in Prospect Park

Leaving our suitcase at Mom’s, we moved back into the city and stayed at two very cool hotels that X found, one in Manhattan, and one in Brooklyn, and spent our days in coffeeshops and our nights in restaurants with friends. We ate pink gelato by the azaleas outside the New York Public Library, and watched the people flocking by.

Saturday was the real coup, for me. This short, idyllic trip was already a perfect “vacation back home”, but it was also in tune with the touring Dead & Company, who were playing Citi Field that night. I was grateful for the friends who had already secured tickets and arranged travel, and all the sunny day I felt the incredible vibe of the Grateful Dead are coming to New York City and I am HERE to be part of it!

After the show, the fun continued, because Sunday was Mom’s birthday! Some of her sisters came over for the day and we all celebrated together. I am truly so lucky for the family that I have. They bring me such joy.

My wife, mother, and aunt, in front of the house
Lakeview Drive

I spent most of Monday outside Mom’s house doing yardwork. The huge hedge out front was well overgrown and spilling out every which way. I needed a step-ladder to reach the top of it. Vines were growing up the electric wire and I carefully cut them all off.

Mom’s neighbor was out, and she and I talked for awhile about the history of the street and the people who had come and gone. This women herself was preparing to move out – after having lived in her house over 50 years – to an assisted-living type of situation. It was her own choice, she said. She’d lived alone long enough, over a decade since her husband had died, and she preferred to join a community where she had friends, and would surely make others, and would have a staff at hand to help her through the day, and to be there in case anything should happen. We shared a few laughs together about this and that, and she thanked me for cleaning up the brush, and went back inside.

I piled the vines and branches in the backyard and explored a little further. The path is obscured now by a large fallen tree, but Mom said it had been possible to walk all the way back, down to a little stream. I started to cut away some of the overgrowth along the path, and I was able to climb over the tree, so I kept on and cleared the brush further, moving down a small slope to where I could hear the water burbling softly. Access to the stream itself was mostly blocked by large bushes at this point, but there was one small clearing, and I ventured closer. I could now see the water, but I could not walk closer than ten feet to it. Considering how I could advance, I looked up, and there, across the narrow stream, was a large doe, staring right at me, chewing her food. I froze.

We were eye to eye for ten seconds or more, as I went from startled panic, to swallowing my heartbeat, to realizing that my phone was back in the house (no photo!). She bent her head to the ground, coming up with another mouthful of veggies. Although most of her body was hidden in the foliage, her full head and neck were exposed, and she was close enough to see the ripple of her shoulder muscle, and the fine, white-tipped hairs of her ears. She was magnificent, and after another moment, she gracefully disappeared into the woods behind her.

Mayor of Hoboken Arrested

Peter Cammarano arrested

Oops! Just 23 days into his term, 31-year-old Peter Cammarano was arrested by the FBI as part of a long investigation into money-laundering and corruption in New Jersey and New York. Apparently, when he wasn’t posing with his wife and toddler daughter for campaign posters, Cammarano was meeting with a Hudson County official and a real estate developer, picking up envelopes stuffed with cash – five grand at a time, five times. The meetings took place at the Malibu Diner on 14th St, which is hands-down the worst diner I’ve ever been too, and I love diners. The place is a disgrace to the culinary traditions of New Jersey, and hopefully this bit of free press is not going to increase their business…

…but I digress. Continue reading Mayor of Hoboken Arrested

Of dogs and birds

Last week during the Christmas holiday I woke up and went to check on the garden. Our little fire-escape garden out the kitchen window had done well for us over the season, producing thyme, rosemary, and even a few cherry tomatoes as well as a bunch of nice plants and flowers. Of course, when the weather started getting cold we started moving everything inside that hadn’t died yet. I wanted to save all the excess dirt and dead leaves and roots, because I had a crazy vision that it would be even more fertile next year. I even bought a bucket from the hardware store and put all this dirt and organic material in it and left it out on the fire escape to serve as a sort of compost heap.

My first indication that this wouldn’t really work was last week when I checked it and found it had first filled with rainwater and then frozen. Continue reading Of dogs and birds

Pros vs. Joes

The annual golfing tradition known as Pros vs. Joes took place recently, and it was not pretty for the Joes.

The pros – Pete and Remy – were looking to avenge their losses in the first two installments of the Fall Finish last year, when Johnny cakes and I destroyed them twice – first at Hackensack, then at Ridgewood.

One of the benefits of being a looper is that you can play top notch courses for free, by virtue of your friendships to the people who run these places. When the fancy clubs are closed to members, there are opportunities for the workingmen to enjoy themselves on the fairways and greens.

This time, sadly, it was more often the rough and the sand for me and my partner. It started off with a bad sign: I lost an entire brand new sleeve of Titleists on the first hole. Two in the water off the tee, and a third, dropped behind the pond, also failed to clear the drink. All day, the Joes won 2 holes, I think. The final verdict was a $36 dollar defeat.

We had a beautiful day for it, though. Late October, leaves changing color, a crisp breeze but sunny skies that meant the sweaters could stay off most of the day. Afterwards, three of us went down to the Hudson Tavern for a kingly feast. The pros were gracious enough to pick up the tab.

State vs Almerindo G Portfolio

Yesterday was my day in court.

I appeared before Judge Scott Bennion of the Clifton Municipal Court, and I should say, I think he’s a fine judge. He would get my vote, had I one in Clifton, Passaic Count. His manner of churning through case after case to get the job done appealed to me – after all, the majority of his cases that morning were traffic violations. There are apparently a number of things he must say, a procedure he must go through, legally (one assumes), before allowing one to plea-bargain, say, an “80 in a 55” to a “69 in a 55.”

Which is what I did, saving myself about $30 and two points on my license. Not much, but it was worth it to see how democracy, justice and Western Society At Large were playing out on this particular day in this particular community. Continue reading State vs Almerindo G Portfolio