It feels like the hundreds of us who have somehow remained connected in some way since the 60s and 70s in the idealistic Reston community, are riding a virtual spaceship, hurtling together through life and time, landing every now and again to share a few memories and cocktails and stay up way past our usual bedtimes.
I am personally very grateful to my friends for making the loved ones I dragged along with me feel so welcome and a part of the gathering. Significant-other, Millie, blended in so comfortably and my son, Charlie, paid the ultimate compliment as he repeatedly stated how fun it was to “hang” with these folks. Even Suki the Dog got her share of love as she cruised the Lake Anne Plaza like many of her canine predecessors have through the years.
A personal highlight for me was to get the opportunity to perform some music together with my good friend, George Pittaway and my son in an informal concert-like setting that turned into a kind of musical passing of the torch from one generation to the next.
Without a doubt, the most hilarious and expensive hug of the weekend occurred between me and childhood buddy, Paul Burneko. Poor Paul had his glasses dangling stylishly from his shirt pocket when the bear hug occurred. They’re missing a lens now and probably bent out of shape as well. If you’re reading this, Paul, I am formally offering to either get you a new pair or take you out to a dinner of equivalent value. I’m hoping you choose the dinner.
So—many heartfelt thanks to all of you guys for being the honest, generous, kind, down-to-earth human beings you are. We are blessed to be able to share life’s journeys like this and you are all looking very beautiful to me right now.
Until next time, dear friends…
The example above, one of the all-time best, comes from infrastructurist.com which has an ongoing series on brilliantly violated street signs.
Perhaps one of the most famous pieces of graffiti humor in history, of course, was born in the Washington, D.C. area. To my knowledge, there is no known picture of it, though the bridge that was used as the spray-paint canvas is to the left. With the Oz-like Mormon Temple behind it, the phrase on the side of the bridge read, “Surrender Dorothy.” It’s such a famous piece of graffiti that it has its own entry in Wikipedia. Not only that, but if you Google, “Surrender Dorothy,” about half the entries relate to the graffiti not the Wizard of Oz.
Another piece of wicked graffiti humor that also has no known picture, was spray-painted on a pedestrian bridge across Whiele Avenue in Reston, Virginia back in the 1970’s. It read: “Welcome to Crime-free Reston.” I think I know who actually did that, but surely after some 36 years, the statute of limitations has run out and I can no longer be subpoenaed.
Here’s a real dry one that is one of my personal favorites:
And this great one from some public restroom somewhere in America:
And finally, just because:
As a public service, I have stopped searching for iconic winter images and am posting a photograph of someone surfing. This is the first of the actions I am taking to ween myself off of my snow addiction.
♦ It’s ok to stop watching the Weather Channel now. I caught myself turning to TWC Thursday even though there was no real reason to and discovered it was snowing in Dallas. Interesting, but that has nothing to do with my life. It will snow four inches today in Atlanta. My son lives there, but it’s only four inches. Goodbye Weather Channel. Until next time.
♦ It’s ok to stop visiting Accuweather.com. But I did discover they have a much better site than Weather Channel. You don’t have to work as hard to find the stuff you really need to know. They also have a wonderful collection of very knowledgeable weather nerds who have all the esoteric details that interest me when all weather-hell is breaking loose.
♦ It’s ok to stop talking to all your friends about the Great Blizzard of 2010. It was really something. The sun is out now and the stuff is finally beginning to melt.
♦ Based on what I heard this morning about the nightmarish commute people have had, it remains ok to bitch about the District of Columbia and its lack of snowplowing prowess.
♥ It is not only appropriate, but perhaps, an absolute necessity to begin thinking about Valentine’s Day and what, precisely, you are going to do for your loved one Sunday. Flower stores are delivering. They have no choice. This is how they make money.
♦ It may snow a little bit on Monday but it’s not expected to be a major winter event. Remember, we may once have been snow-wimps, but we are now grizzled veterans of arctic climate conditions and we now laugh at a mere two inches and move on as if nothing had happened. We are the new Chicago.
Apologies to those of you who could care less about Gotham, but I feel the need to wax poetic about the sights and sounds and stories of one of the most fascinating cities on earth. There have been so many films, TV shows, songs, poems, and books written with New York City as a backdrop that it’s nearly impossible to not feel like you’re walking around on some kind of a movie set when you make your way around this town.
Today for example, I grabbed the B train to Rockefeller Center. The first thing you see as you emerge from the subway station is Radio City Music Hall. The history and tradition of that place; the precision dance-kicking, the famous Christmas shows, the myriad events that occur in there that people don’t even know about, from political debates and movie debuts to big awards shows.
Then you turn the corner and there’s Rockefeller Center. They’ve put up the skating rink already but the floods of Christmas tourists aren’t here yet so you can actually see the first folks to strap on the skates and go for a spin on the ice. I walked a few more blocks and hit the intersection of 49th and Lexington, hung a right, and there, on display in all its architectural majesty was the looming presence of the Chrysler building, once the tallest skyscraper in the city until the Empire State building was constructed. And here’s a real weird fact I bet you never knew. That building was once owned by former Washington Redskins owner, Jack Kent Cooke. Most of you wouldn’t care, but as a former Washingtonian and as a current long-suffering ‘Skins fan, I think that’s kind of cool. Maybe Daniel Snyder should buy it for luck.
A couple more blocks and I passed the Waldorf-Astoria hotel. How many Presidents and Kings and Queens have slept in that storied establishment? Another block down and you’re on Madison Avenue. You look north and see the canyons of high-rise buildings that stand tall like monuments to the nation’s advertising industry. How many familiar jingles, TV ads and marketing campaigns were born on that street?
But New York is more than physical, iconic locales. It’s also about people. If you look for them, or sometimes just flat run into them, there are thousands of tender moments that take place here on a daily basis.
I’ll never forget crossing a street on the Upper West Side about a year ago and seeing what must have been a 95-year-old woman with a shock of white hair struggling to get her grocery cart up the curb. I bent down and lifted it up for her and put it onto the sidewalk. She said nothing but did give me the warmest smile I think I have ever seen. I noticed her incredibly deep blue eyes and for a second, I saw 60 years drop off her face and imagined what a beautiful young woman she had probably been at one time.
This week, while rushing to an appointment, I passed a black nanny pushing a cute little white boy in a stroller. She stopped in front of an apartment building that had a beautiful flower-bed growing around a tree. She picked one of those bright, purple flowers and held it in front of the little boy’s gleaming eyes. And he smiled. Kind of like the 95 year old lady did on the Upper West side a year before.
My mother and father once lived in New York City. They’re gone now but I think of their time spent here and that I am walking the same streets they walked and seeing many of the same sights they saw. I am certain they also experienced many of the same moments of tenderness and acts of human kindness. They probably felt the same awe at the bigness and power of the skyscrapers and the famous streets. They probably marveled as do I, that this place is home to so many rich and poor and black and brown and white; that you can hear five different languages being spoken as you walk down one city block.
When I look at this place through their eyes and think of the smiles of babies and old ladies, I realize that this is the real magic of New York City- it is completely and utterly eternal.