Smoke from a Distant Fire

Canadian wildfires in NYC

Dentist: (70 minutes late) Sorry to keep you waiting. What’s going on?
Me: I still have a lot of pain in that tooth you repaired last week.
Her: Let me see. (peers closely, runs some tests) The problem is that the crack was so close to your nerve. Let me drill down the tooth a bit and see if that helps. (40 seconds later) Bite down and tell me how that feels.
Me: (complies) No pain!
Her: (laughs) OK, you’re all done then.

So, repairing my tooth took two visits, $120 of copay, almost six hours of total time, and 40 seconds to fix the initial repair.

That seems on brand for me.

Her: My hair smells like smoke now. Yuck!
Me: Well, you are “The Firecracker.”
Her: (laughs) Please use that in the blog.

If you’re not from NYC, then you may or may not know that there are these MASSIVE wildfires – 150 to be exact – burning in Canada, with their smoke hitting NYC and hard.

Yesterday, the boy’s school had a pizza party in the school yard when the boy started screaming something and pointing at the sky; right after he started, the rest of his friends joined in.

What were they pointing at, at 6PM? The sun, which looked like an orange fireball.

This picture really doesn’t do it justice.

Everything was normal until about then, when he started coughing and I did as well and a thick smog came down on top of us with the whole yard smelling like a campfire.

We quickly left and went home – this is what it looked like at 6:48 last night.

The next morning, this is what it looked like in the Upper West Side.

Made the kid wear two masks to school while I wore an N95 mask.

I’m heading away with the Firecracker and the kid this week so I figured I should hit up the gym while I could, so off I went.

When I got there, I was already breathing heavily. This is what it looked like when I arrived.

Chad had, smartly, kept the windows and doors shut and the ACs running so we were able to get in a good workout.

But after just three rolls, I was completely spent and left.

Union Square looked like the first or second circle of hell – this is it at 1:49PM.

Hightailed it home to grab the kid from school.

Normally, I try to spend at least an hour outside with him so he gets some fresh air and exercise but there was no fresh air to be had.

I – like almost all of the other parents – quickly grabbed the kid and headed home.

Kept him indoors until it was time for his afterschool, took the bus there (we usually walk), took the train back alone, then did the same thing again 90 minutes later when his class was done.

Both he and I felt pretty run-down the entire day. I had an itchy throat and eyes while he kept complaining his chest and stomach hurt.

Hopefully, by the time you read this, things are much better.

Location: my pad, wondering if tomorrow will be better or worse
Mood: cough-y
Music: your eyes had a mist from the smoke of a distant fire (Spotify)
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Gird your loins, Logan

What does it mean to be human?

Me: Shoot, he got sick again. Gotta do another load of laundry. I’m exhausted.
Her: Gird your loins, Logan.
Me: Wait, wha?
Her: Gird your loins, Logan!

It was a super busy weekend with the kid because he had a birthday party to go to as well as a class spring fair, like last year.

During onea those two things, he musta caught a stomach bug because the rest of the weekend was pretty gross.

And by that, I mean it was really gross. Did like five or six loads of laundry in two days.

The Firecracker was over working on a few things so she gave us a lotta advice and moral support, both of which were greatly appreciated.

While walking the other day, I saw a firefighter walking a dalmatian.

Me: Dude, I’m sorry but do you mind if I take a photo of you? I’ve never seen a firefighter with an actual dalmatian.
Him: Sure!

Not something you see every day, here in the big city.

The kid had a field trip to the Museum of Natural History the other day and I volunteered to be a chaperone.

I came across that sign that you see above and it really made me think.

If this blog is about anything, it’s about what it means to be human.

There was a lot more I wanted to write about this but I suppose I’ll do that some other time.

Speaking of being human and gross things, gotta say that humans are pretty darn gross.

Case-in-point, the Firecracker loves trashy reality show television and her latest viewing pleasure is that of Dr. Pimple Popper, which – if you’ve never seen it – don’t start now.

Her: (searches for the right episode) OK, this guy…yeah that’s exactly what I had in mind. (presses play)
Me: OK…doesn’t seem…is that guy…OH MY GOD!
Her: It gets worse. Wait for it…
Me: Why are we watching this?! Oh my god, it got worse!
Her: It’s like a train wreck you just can’t stop.
Me: Make it stop!

I think I’ll skip eating entirely tomorrow.

Location: her place, watching something super, super gross
Mood: grossed out
Music: Ain’t nothing gonna stop me in my pursuit (Spotify)
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A Double Date

In the Upper Best Side

Him: Hey, Logan, how are things on your end? I can leave any time – will take me 15 mins [to get to you].
Me: Just smashed a coffee glass. Let’s meet there at 5:20? So if you leave in 10 mins that would be a 15 min travel time? I cannot be left alone, clearly.
Him: (laughs) OK for 5:20.

The boy was away for a few days so I ended up meeting with the Frenchman at Playa Betty‘s the other night.

I’ve said many times that the food there isn’t good but the drinks are so we went mainly so I could get a drink or four into me over a happy hour.

Which is not to say that we didn’t eat.

He and I chatted about something that I’ll probably talk to you about later but that’s a longer discussion.

In any case, after about an hour of catching up, his wife, Tess, came by to join us and the Firecracker and her showed up almost exactly at the same time.

Everyone seemed to get along really well.

Him: My son just roams New York City now.
Me: I’m so unprepared for that right now.

It’s weird because for the past few years, I was hanging out with a buncha people much younger than me.

Hanging out with peers and old friends again has been refreshing for me.

Tess and the Frenchman were talking about potentially leaving the Upper East Side so the Firecracker and I tried to convince them to move into our area.

Firecracker: It’s the Upper BEST Side.
Me: It really is!

So, when we left, I walked them by this gorgeous bank that converted to condominiums.

Me: Just think about it.
Him: (laughs) Sure.

After they took off, I walked the Firecracker home.

Her: Your friends are great – I really like Tess! (later) Thanks for a nice night, Lo.
Me: Same, Firecracker. Same.

Location: West 66th Street Post Office, after the gym today
Mood: pensive
Music: kinda want this night to change right now (Spotify)
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My 2023 Memorial Day with friends


Me: You know, when I’m free at night, I’m usually just sitting around reading IP law or something equally dorky. It’s not like I’m out cavorting with women
Her: (look of disgust) You better not be cavorting, because if you’re cavorting, I’m aborting [this relationship].
Me: Oh my!

Like last year, I spent part of Memorial Day with my college friends at their pad out in Long Island.

The last time I was there, was almost a year ago – man, how quickly time flies these days – for the BJJ competition that I was part of.

This time, though, things were pretty different. For one, the kid was away in NJ with my in-laws but the Firecracker and her kid joined us.

The Firecracker’s kid wanted to check out the new LIRR station at Grand Central, so we went there first…

…it was enormous.

We got to the train without issue and, some 90 minutes later, we were at my friends’ place.

Most of them met her during the 90s party but this time, we were out for most of the day so everyone had a lot of time to get to know each other.

The kids all got along great.

Most of the people there were Asian so there was an educational portion of the BBQ, which was teaching them how to play beer pong.

Sans beer of course. We’re not monsters.

Well, they’re not.

One buddy Bill and I were the only adults that went into the pool.

While I was doing that, my buddy Rick was prepping the branzino for the grill…

…he did a really good job…

…although the kids were only interested in the prototypical Memorial Day BBQ fare.

Which I ate as well…but with the low-carb wraps I brought.

Him: Logan, you know all the chips that you’re eating have carbs in them too, right?
Me: I’m offsetting, dude!

I was mainly waiting for the serious meats to make an appearance…

…which they did…

…and then some.

By the time the soup came out, I was beyond stuffed.

But, in my defense, I didn’t have any dessert.

I didn’t have any of the dessert because one of the people there had a peanut allergy and I can’t eat sweets without offsetting the impact of them with peanut butter.

(No, seriously, it does – peanut butter is my secret weapon to stay slim while eating sweets).

Her: This is called a “lobster tail,” Logan.
Me: I could go for a real lobster tail right about now, to be honest.

It was a great and long day; it was so nice to see my friends so regularly and with the Firecracker in tow.

Me: So, what do you think kid? Did you have a good time?
Her kid: Yes!
Me: Maybe we’ll go again next year if they invite us?
Her kid: (nods, smiles)

By the time you read this, May will be over.

I’m still here. This is a pleasant surprise. At least, to me.

Location: my gate today, realizing someone ripped the lock off of it because of sheer stupidity
Mood: so, so, so, so, so irritated
Music: happy, like the first day of summer (Spotify)
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Two parades, two bars, two medical visits

And one Scenic Fights shoot

It’s been a weird few weeks.

It all started when I was rolling with my friend Lau, who’s a smaller female in my gym class. Because she’s so much smaller than me, I try to just focus on technique rather than brute strength to win.

One day, we had this exchange:

Me: I left my mouth guard at home so let’s go easy today, ok?
Her: Sure, sure.

Welp, that didn’t happen at all and she went full on aggro, ended up with her accidentally slamming her head up my jaw and cracking a molar.

Was in pain for a while because I had to wait a few days to see the dentist and then lost an entire afternoon to get it repaired.

Unfortunately, it’s still pretty painful so I’m guessing I’m gonna have to see the dentist again.

Dentist: Now how did this even happen?
Me: Well, my female friend slammed her head into my jaw and cracked it.
Her: (shocked) Does that happen a lot to you?
Me: (shrugging) More than you might imagine.

Oh, and it cost me $120 of copay. So. Annoyed.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t the only person in our two-person-family that had a medical issue come up; the kid was coughing consistently for a short spell.

One night, he was coughing so much that I got so worried – because of what happened with both Alison and my dad – that I couldn’t sleep.

So, the next day I had him skip the morning of school for him to get checked out.

But everything turned out fine.

Doc: His lungs sound congested but fine. You can give him some allergy pills, some hot steam baths, or do nothing.
Me: I tend to lean toward the last one.
Her: (laughs) That’s a totally valid response here. He’ll be fine.

Did manage to have a nice night out with the Firecracker at an upscale bar BUT some loudmouth started screaming at his friend at the top of his lungs right next to us.

I found it particularly annoying because the last time I was in that bar was with Alison almost a decade ago.

I’d avoided going in all this time just because I didn’t think I could handle it; it was one of the very last times we had gone out for a celebration.

But the Firecracker was super cool about everything and insisted we go to another – much more mellow – a dive bar around the way.

It was much better for a number of reasons, least of which was that it was sans loudmouth.

Completely randomly, I found myself blocked by two different parades on two different days.

One was the Japanese Day parade, where I had to go up two more blocks than I wanted to get into the park and then four more blocks than I wanted to get out of the park.

The other was another parade outside of Paxibellum after we did a Scenic Fights shoot.

Like I said, it’s been a weird few weeks.

But, I did manage to have a nice Memorial Day weekend.

Suppose I’ll tell you about that in the next entry.

Location: a California beach taco joint, having some rum and chatting about living above a bank or a converted department store in Union Square
Mood: slightly drunk
Music: don’t you know, life’s too short to take it slow (Spotify)
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A celebration and then karaoke

So funny and great

After the Hudson Yards, the Firecracker invited my brother and his girl to a celebration that she was having.

I got there first, where I met a whole buncha her friends, including another lawyer.

Him: …Yale. You?
Me: Cornell. Which, in the original Algonquin, I believe means, “Couldn’t make it into Yale.”

It was a pretty low-key thing at a local bar that I’d been to tons of times before.

Had my fill of bar food. Well, I had bar food. I coulda eaten more.

The Egyptian boyfriend of one of her friends and I got to talking about food.

Him: It’s not Egyptian but if you like shawarmas the best places are in Astoria.
Me: Way ahead of you, man.

I would honestly go to Europe just to eat shawarmas/gyros everywhere.

It was fun and everyone was nice but then it was time for us to leave.

I expected to head home afterward but my brother and his girl wanted to go to karaoke so who was I to tell them not to?

Brother: Wait, do you wanna come?
Me: Well, I don’t *want* to come but…
Firecracker: Karaoke!
Me: Yes?

So, the Firecracker and I went with them to midtown.

After just a few minutes, we found ourselves at a joint called Duet 53 where everyone sang a song and I tried to finish a huge bottle of sake.

Couldn’t do it.

My brother and his girl hung out until 6AM – hoo-boy – but the Firecracker and I called it by 1AM.

Although, she would probably had stayed out if given the option.

Her: Ready to go home, old man?
Me: God, yes…

Interestingly, on the way back home – in the middle of the night – met another couple who saw my cousin’s show on Broadway, Shucked.

She raved about it.

Woman: You have to see it now, before it wins a buncha awards and tickets are sold out everywhere.
Me: Oh, that’s high praise, I’ll definitely need to tell my cousin.
Her: And watch it! It’s so funny and great.
Firecracker: We should go see it!
Me: (laughing) Ok, ok, I’ll try to get us some tickets.

Like I always say, New York City’s like a small town a lot.

Location: Janovic paints, buying new paint for my apartment.
Mood: grateful I survived another May
Music: I’ve never lived a simple life (Spotify)
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Catching lunch at the Hudson Yards

A last-minute get-together

Her: At least you can drive.
Me: Drive? I’ve been driving for 35 years.
Her: (laughing) I was barely alive when you started driving! (laughing harder) I’m dead, I’m dead.
Me: (grumble)

My brother was in town again with his new girl…

…so, the Firecracker and I met up with the two of them at Hudson Yards, along with KTO.

It was a very last minute thing since we weren’t planning on meeting up until later in the week but everyone just happened to be free that day so off we went.

Haven’t been to Hudson Yards in a while for a buncha reasons but I was looking forward to going for the first time in a long while.

We met up at Mercado Little Spain there and had some tapas, again.

I’d never been before but it was essentially the entire basement area in one of the buildings so that was surprising.

Ended up having some mussels

…and a killer mushroom, onion, and date sammie.

Afterward, we all piled into a bus that brought everyone to another restaurant directly across the street from the Firecracker – which was totally by happenstance.

Later on that week, the Firecracker had a small celebration of her own for personal reasons and my brother and his girl came out for that.

But I’ll tell you about that tomorrow.

May’s almost over. I’m relieved.

Location: My basement, taking measurements and hoping for the best
Mood: hating today
Music: I will love you until my dying day (Spotify)
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Capital Grille and Woolworths

Reinventing ourselves

My particular area of the law has been busy lately so I met up with my boss to just talk shop.

He had reservations for us at Capital Grille; I’d never been before.

The ribeye was calling out to me…

…along with a drink…

…or two.

Can’t really discuss what we talked about due to the nature of the work but I suppose I could tell you story instead.

Him: Let me bring you back 15 years, Logan…
Me: Oh, sweet! Storytime!

(c) Francis Gaffney

When I was a kid, there was a Woolworth’s in Flushing Queens that I used to go to alla time.

It was one of the bigger ones out there, so it had the full diner inside, complete with the classic counter stools. Think I ate there a few times, when I had a couple of bucks.

It wasn’t bad but it definitely wasn’t no Capital Grille, lemme tell ya…

In the basement was a petstore, with some of the most ratty and messed up animals you’d ever see.

I remembered that there was once a one-eyed parakeet for sale, and I remember thinking, who on earth would want that?

Turns out, no one did, which is why they’re not around anymore.

It closed in 1997.

Actually, that’s not true.

Woolworths is still around, if you know where to look. In fact, you might have been in one recently.

See, the company is still around, they just changed their name to: Foot Locker.

It’s funny.

Woolworth started in 1879, bought Kinny Shoes in 1963, and created Foot Locker outta that in 1974, and then – because it was its only division doing gangbusters – just decided to change their name from Woolworth to Foot Locker.

That’s kinda how I feel.

I assume you know me because of this blog I’ve had for close to 20 years, so maybe you think of me first as a writer.

And my former clients and coworkers know me as a pretty good lawyer.

But 423,000 people know me as the guy that teaches people how to fight with weapons on Scenic Fights.

And I’m alla those things and more.

After all, we reinvent ourselves over and over again.

But, I like to think that the core of who we are is consistent.

Boss: …anyway, that’s what I thinking. So, how’s your son?
Me: (big smile) He’s…great. So great. We’re a family of two. It’s not what I planned but he makes it all worthwhile.

Location: being pulled out of a bar on Amsterdam by the Firecracker because someone was asking to see what I could do
Mood: complex
Music: Had me at hello, 你好 (Spotify)
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A trip to Govenors Island

A Mother’s Day trip for the Lowes

Her: What are your Mother’s Day plans?
Me: The usual, try to take over the world. Why?

The Firecracker was going to Govenors Island with her kid for Mother’s Day and invited us to join them. It was supposed to be a gorgeous day and I’d never been before, so I agreed.

Sunday, I woke up earlier than usual – and also broke my fast earlier than usual – to bring the kid down Manhattan on the Greenway. Google said it would only take 30 mins so I budgeted 45 minutes for myself.

What neither Google nor I adequately factored in was just how many people would be out and about for a beautiful Sunday; trying to pass countless clueless people taking up the entirety of the pathway was trying.

By the time we got downtown, it was already 10:57 and the line seemed ginormous.

Me: The line for the ferry is ridonk. Not sure we’ll make the 11AM ferry.
Her: Uh oh. It usually leaves right on time, too.

But, we managed to get on at the tail end.

It was a gorgeous day to be on the water and out and about.

The boy’d been to Govenors Island before with his sitter and some other care takers but this was my first time.

We got off the ferry and immediately hopped onto the bike to make our way to where the Firecracker was.

Because the island is so small, we were there in no time.

She and her kid had their electric scooter and we had our bike so navigating around the island was pretty easy.

It was nice watching the two of them play.

Considering how many people were there on the gorgeous holiday, it was still pretty spare compared to our normal crazy Manhattan Sundays.

She made lunch for everyone so we found a nice place to eat first before finding activities for the kiddos.

We went to Slide Hill and the kid tried out the longest slide in NYC at three stories tall!

I might have also tried it once…

That’s the kid asking, “How was that?”

Afterwards, the kids played in a place called The Yard, where no parents are allowed…

…while the Firecracker and I found a nice shady porch in one of the many abandoned buildings and just chatted.

Her: The picture of you with long hair? Fire!
Me: Yea? Maybe I’ll grow out the top and keep the sides short. Can’t do the opposite, that would be a mullet.
Her: I know what a mullet is, Lo. I’m from the South.

The kid and I explored the island a bit more…

…before we hopped the ferry back.

She took her scooter up the Greenway while I took the bike up; we lost each other because idiots kept taking up the entire lane and holding everyone back.

Everyone was so exhausted so I offered to pick up McDonalds for everyone and we just ate it at the local playground before calling it a day.

Him: That was fun. Did you have fun?
Me: Were you there?
Him: (puzzled) Yes?
Me: Then I had fun. Because I was with you.

Location: earlier today, West 72nd Street and Broadway, watching a homeless man smash a chair and trip and old lady for no apparent reason
Mood: chilly
Music: There’s a hole in my soul, can you fill it? (Spotify)
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Blogarama - Observations Blogs

Wanting a Bahn Mi

Been growing mushrooms

Her: I want a banh mi.
Me: I want to banh *you* right now.
Her: (laughs)

Was in the mood for Vietnamese the other day so the lady and I hit up the local joint.

I’d not eaten inside the place in years because of COVID so it was weird sitting inside at a table.

So weird what normalcy feels like these days.

We got a pork belly sandwich with two coffees. She wanted to treat so I agreed.

The coffee was great – I’ve always liked Cafe Du Monde’s Chicory Coffee, which is what some of my fave Vietnamese joints serve but it’s definitely an acquired taste.

This place had a whole wall of the stuff.

I shoulda taken a pic. Next time.

Me: God, that sandwich was so ridonk good.
Her: Do you want another one?
Me: I *want* another one but I won’t get another one. I’m 50. I gotta start trying to eat a little less.

Try, being the operative word here.

Been on a weird kick of growing my own mushrooms lately, for both health and food in general.

Mainly Lion’s Mane because (a) it has a consistency and look that’s pretty similar to lobster, which is wild, and (b) it’s been linked to good brain health, and oyster mushrooms.

As the kid gets older, I’m always thinking of ways to keep him and his brain protected.

To wit, the blue and pink oyster mushrooms are part of a science project that is both fascinating and delicious; the lion’s mane I’ve been growing myself from some I got at a local famer’s market near the gym.

The hope is that he just gets used to things in his life – like turmeric, mushrooms, and green tea – that are overall protective of his health.

Of course, he likes none of it now but the hope is that he will someday as he gets older.

Him: (makes a face) No. I don’t like it.
Me: Welp, you tried it and I appreciate that. You might like it in the future.
Him: If you say so….

Location: earlier today, chatting with my therapist at a white desk
Mood: hungry
Music: I was starving when I met you (Spotify)
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