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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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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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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At the end of ourselves

Dinner at Antoya BBQ in Koreatown NYC

My college friends and I got together for dinner in KTown the other night at a joint called Antoya BBQ in Koreatown NYC.

Think it was the same place we went to just after Alison died but I’m not 100% sure. It was all a blur from that time and I wasn’t sure I really wanted to know the answer, anywho.

There wasn’t any particular reason but I suspect that they knew that May would be rough for me.

Regardless, it was nice seeing everyone; two guys that weren’t able to come out during the 90s-Themed party were there, so that was good.

The night started off well because the bartender was a rum-fan and had a number of great aged rums to choose from.

Me: Could I get the Diplomatico on the rocks?
Bartender: That’s a great rum! Venezuela rums are the best.
Me: I’m pretty agnostic to all good rums – I’ll take them all.

Ox, whom we call the Mayor of Koreatown because he used to be there practically every night after college, ordered all the food.

Him: What are you all in the mood for?
Me: Meat!

And there was plenty of that.

After about seven years, it was the closest to a regular conversation than we’d had in a while.

We just talked about our lives and kids and partners.

Me: You’re moving just for your kid to go to a good high school?
Him: (shrugging) Yeah. Of course.

One of our group just left his job so we covered his dinner.

It’s really awesome because we all take good care of each other when one of us is struggling with one thing or another.

God knows they did so much for me when shit went down and I was at the end of my rope.

Like I said, I’m pretty sure a major reason we got together during this time in the first place was because they knew how bad May is for me.

I think that our friends and family take over when we’re at the end of ourselves.

I suppose they knew I needed my friends.

Raising the boy, I’m realizing how important it is that he’s surrounded with good influences versus bad ones wherever possible.

We have, amongst others, a financial planner, a couple of lawyers, a couple of doctors, and some entrepreneurs.

They’re all good success models versus failure models but probably most importantly, such good human beings in general.

I’m grateful to call them friends.

Me: …I mainly take it to sleep.
Him: I felt that in college you used to look down on us because we [did it recreationally].
Me: (laughing) Oh no, I looked down on you for a whole buncha reasons. But at least now, I’ve learned that [self-medication] is glorious.

Afterward, Ox and I took the longer walk to Times Square to burn off somea what we ate, before Ox broke off to see his wife.

Me: It was so good seeing you, man.
Him: Yeah, we should do this again soon.
Me: For sure, brother. For sure.

I kept walking home, though, but I suppose that’s another entry altogether.

Location: Grand Central, pitching an idea over a $75 steak and an $18 cocktail
Mood: sotted
Music: I needed a friend when I was at the end of myself (Spotify)
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Tapas for Alison

Dinner on a roof deck

My boss, college friends, the NFL player, some of my business partners, Bryson, CoB, and some other people have all hit me up this month to meet up.

Think everyone that’s remembered the last few Mays have been concerned for my mental well-being, which is entirely understandable.

On that note, met up with the ABFF to “celebrate” Alison’s birthday.

Her: The Firecracker and her kiddo are welcome too, just let me know the head count?
Me: OK, I’ll ask. Thanks!

The Firecracker’s kid was away that day but she agreed to come, which tells you a lot about her right there.

We ended up going up to the ABFF’s roof and ordering a ton of tapas.

Alison always loved tapas – we only had it together a handful of times, although having it in Spain with her remains one of my most cherished memories, as well early in our relationship in DC.

She woulda loved everything the ABFF ordered: Tortilla Española…

…Pan con tomàte, Albondigas en Salsa, Patatas Bravas, and Croquetas.

Everyone, including the kids, seemed to like alla the food. Although one of the ABFF’s kids found out that tapas are no match for a strong gust of wind.

Her: Shoot, they didn’t give us enough napkins.
Me: Use the bread?

And so they did.

Afterwards, we played a game of charades, which Alison would definitely have gotten a kick outta.

Think this was the first time we did something like this that I didn’t have to excuse myself to go to the bathroom and cry.

So, progress?

Afterward, they wrote some messages on some balloons and then set them off into the world.

Like we did last year.

That Alison was and is so loved all these years later means so much to me. I’m glad that the kid sees that he comes from a mom so loved by so many.

The Firecracker was really great with the kid and everyone else.

Afterward, the kid mentioned that he had a really good time.

Boy: (in bed) I think mommy would have liked everything.
Me: (nodding) Yeah, kid. She absolutely would have. 

Location: Govenor’s Island, wondering what I should eat
Mood: exhausted
Music: I’m trying to forget some things you can’t change (Spotify)
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A trip to Queens, Pt 2

Five Tomatoes

My mom drove the three of us back to her place.

The Firecracker explained she grew up in places that looked very similar, although every home was on an acre of land.

Boy: How big is an acre?
Me: 43,560 square feet.
Him: Is that like 10 miles?
Me: Do you know how many feet are in a mile, kid? 5 Tomatoes.
Him: 5 Tomatoes?
Me: Yeah. 5, 2, 8, 0. A mile has five-thousand, two-hundred, eighty feet. “Five Tomatoes.”
Firecracker: I’ve never heard that before!
Me: And…now you have.

Once we got back home, I introduced the Firecracker to my sister and her kids.

Everyone seemed to get along pretty well as my sister and she chatted for a bit, while my mom cooked.

My sister got a bouncy house as a gift and asked we could help set it up for the kiddos.

I figured out how to inflate the thing and set it up while the Firecracker hammered the stakes into the ground.

Afterward, we borrowed my mom’s car for a drive but we only made it two houses when the Firecracker noticed an open house just a few doors down.

Her: Let’s check it out!
Me: Sure, I’ve always wanted to know what other houses looked like inside.

We stepped in and checked it out. Since she’s from the south, she’s much more about big houses with yards than tiny apartments in the concrete jungle.

It was a pretty house but I’m still hoping to stay in my apartment, somehow, despite the massive increase I pay every month.

We got back into the car and we took a drive out in Long Island because the weather was just perfect.

Ended up at a Barnes and Noble that I used to go to every single day to study for the LSATs.

I think that was one area where Alison and I differed on what a perfect day was. She always liked to keep busy while I liked to sit and read in cafe.

Used to spend entire days there reading and having coffee but haven’t done that in over a decade.

Me: Are you ok with sitting here, having a cuppa coffee and reading for a bit?
Her: That’s my love language!

Afterward, we took a slow drive back. My mom had made a bunch more Taiwanese and Chinese dishes, which the Firecracker also loved.

Mom: Do you want to take some home?
Her: Yes! If that’s ok.

We stayed for a little while longer, just lounging around the house, while the kid continued to play with his cousins until it was time to go.

The Firecracker found the note above the aquarium ridic funny.

Before we knew it, it was time to head to the station to catch the train back to the city.

The trains are rarely late but this time, they were delayed some 30-40 mins, so it was pretty late once we got back.

The Firecracker got out at our station but immediately walked home because she had work the next day and a lot to do at home.

So, the kid and I went home.

Me: Did you have a good day?
Him: Yes! What are we doing next weekend?
Me: Not sure yet, I’m sure we’ll think of something.

Location: Koreatown, with some of my oldest friends and a crapton of food – alla which I ate
Mood: stuffed
Music: we should jump right into the personal facts (Spotify)
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A trip to Queens, Pt 1

Lu Rou Fan

Firecracker: Wait, you didn’t mention that I was the one who thought you might have left your phone at Dark Bullet, called them, and found your phone for you?
Me: …no?

The Firecracker really does love to cook.

Mentioned to her that I’d not eaten Taiwanese food in a while so she ended up making me a dish I absolutely love called lu rou fan.

Her: I’ve never had it before so I didn’t know what it should taste like.
Me: (shaking head) It’s still good though. And these endives are killer – how did you cook them?
Her: I blanched the shit outta them.

What she made was good, but it didn’t really taste like lu rou fan – I think the recipe she chose wasn’t the best so I wanted to take her out to try the genuine article.

Now, I’d been meaning to see my mom and sis for a while now but my sister’s the most peripatetic person I know; trying to see her and her kids is a lesson in scheduling.

Mom: You know your sister – she’s like a horse, always running around.
Me: Isn’t that the truth!

But I figured that it was time they met The Firecracker and my sister just happened to be in town last weekend, so I grabbed the kid, met up with the Firecracker, and headed out to the wilds of Queens.

Usually, I can take the train straight to see them but, because of construction, we had to transfer in Woodside.

Her: I think we should be on another track.
Me: Nah, it’s gonna be this one.

It was not.

So, because I didn’t listen to her, we missed the transfer and waited half-an-hour for the next one.

Me: Oh man, I’m so sorry. I was wrong and you were right.
Her: God, I love how that sounds!
Me: (grumble)

Because I screwed up so badly, and because I’ve been dreaming of Taiwanese food non-stop since the Firecracker made me the lu rou fan, I brought them to a Taiwanese restaurant literally right across the street from the Korean joint that Pac brought me to, years ago.

Neither of them ever had Taiwanese food before so I did all the ordering.

I got the classic pork chop on rice with lu rou fan, some pork stuffed crepes, soup dumplings, an egg scallion pancake and a soy milk.

The boy didn’t like the soy milk but loved everything else.

Me: How is it?
Him: Sooooooo good!
Her: Everything is delicious – you’re five-for-five, Lo!

Afterward, my mom came by to pick us up and bring us over to her place for dinner but that’s a story for tomorrow.

Me: Hi, mom! This is [The Firecracker].
Firecracker: Hi! Thank thanks for picking us up!
Mom: Of course, get in!

Location: earlier today, a schoolyard, introducing myself to a parent and asking them what they thought about a school I was thinking about for the kid
Mood: plants are trying to kill me and I don’t like it
Music: I know I always come and go but it’s out of my control (Spotify)
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