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

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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Losing my phone

And then finding it

Me: Shoot…
Her: What?
Me: I can’t find my phone!

The Firecracker cooked me dinner the other night…

…and I wanted to return the favour so, later on that week, I took her out for some drinks and food around the way at a place called Dark Bullet.

I told you about the place few times, like when I went with the mothers I met early on when the kid had just started going to school, and also when I went with my cousin.

It was like I was seeing it for the first time, though.

The first time I’d been there, I was a basket case. The second time, was over COVID and it was a ghost town and, thus, very different.

This time, I was closer to normal – whatever that means – than I’d been in years, and the place was normal again too.

Of course, normal for me means that I’m ever forgetful and clumsy.

You see, after The Dark Bullet, we went to another bar that she liked, called The Dead Poet where she had a stout and I had a light beer.

While there, I realized that I left my phone at Dark Bullet – she called them and they said they found it and I could go back any time to get it.

So, we just slowly enjoyed our drinks, I walked her home, and then headed back to Dark Bullet to claim my phone.

Bartender: What can I…oh, you were here earlier.
Me: Yup, I left my phone here?
Him: Ah, yes, hold on, lemme get it for you.

Honestly, New York City is such a great little town sometimes.

I need to ring up the ladies from the mother’s group to see how they’re doing.

Location: hanging out with the ABFF and her fam, plus the Firecracker and the kid, to wish Alison had the best birthday somewhere in the multiverse
Mood: tipsy
Music: I know I always come and go but it’s out of my control (Spotify)
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A walk up Broadway

I hate May a little less now

Me: The hardest thing about being an adult is relationships, because we all have our quirks.
Her: (laughing) *snort*… yeah, especially with you.
Me: Wait, what?

The weather was really nice the other day so the Firecracker met me outside the gym for a walk up Broadway.

We spent most of our time checking out stores.

We barely got three blocks from the gym when we stepped into a home goods store.

I’d mentioned that I wanted a new carpet for my room and we spent some time checking them out…

…although, I gotta admit, the ones we were looking at were a little outta my price range.

I mean, even the cooking utensils were outta my price range…

…for real.

It felt really domestic, though, to be checking things like home furnishings out.

It’s almost like we’re playing house or something like that, except we’re both adult parents that have seen way too much of life as it is.

Which is not to say, she wasn’t down to check out some less-than-adult things like the local Harry Potter store.

Her: Do you want a Butterbeer?
Me: I have no idea what that is but I like butter and I like beer.

We ended up at a Chik-Fil-A and having some sandwiches before we went to a few other places and called it a day.

There’s more but that’s really all I wanted to tell you.

It’s May again.

I’ve hated May with a passion ever since Alison died. I still don’t like May but it feels better this year.

It’s not just that so much time has passed since she died, it’s also that I’ve cut out so much negativity and toxicity around me, which – coupled with the Firecracker and my therapist – has been really good for my overall mental health.

And I’ve got a super busy month ahead of me, most of which is my friends, family, and the Firecracker trying to keep me busy and sane.

I’m grateful.

Him: Why don’t you like May, papa?
Me: (sighing) Well, it’s because your mom’s birthday is in May and I wish she was here to celebrate it. And Mother’s Day is in May and I’m reminded again that she’s not here. And she died in May so…
Him: Oh…I’m sorry. I wish she was here.
Me: (nodding) You and me both, kid. You and me both.

Location: earlier tonight, going to yet another open house, but this time, two doors from my family’s home.
Mood: pretty good, all things considered
Music: I stuck by ya, you’re the sunflower (Spotify)
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The dead girl that beat the Nazis

Sharing secrets

A young girl: [Your son] says you’re a fighter.
Me: Heavens! Now, do I look like a fighter, little miss?
Her: (laughs) Noooo!
Me: Well, there you go. I’m just a lawyer. And his dad.
Son: (afterward, annoyed) Why didn’t you say you’re a fighter?!
Me: Because I’m not, I’m someone that can fight but I’m not a fighter. There’s a difference.
Him: Papa!
Me: (shrugging) Besides, no one needs to know what we do in our private lives, kid. I want you to learn something here: People don’t look like they really are inside. Our insides don’t often match our outsides, for better for worse. The less people know about what you can do, the better.
Him: Then why do you spend so much time [learning how to fight]?
Me: Because…sometimes you have to show people what you can do.

This girl named Betty was running to catch a train about a 100 years ago when her science teacher saw her.

The science teacher was also the running coach of the school and never saw anyone run that fast – and he was the coach!

So, he convinced her to run for him and soon, she found herself in the 1928 Olympics at just 16 years old, breaking a whole buncha records.

Almost 100 years later, she remains the youngest athlete to win an Olympic 100-meter gold.

That’s not the most remarkable thing about her, though.

Just three years later, in 1931, she was in a plane crash where she was so messed up that they were sure she was dead. They didn’t send her to the hospital, they sent her to the morgue.

Luckily the undertaker realized she was alive and she, somehow, survived.

Unfortunately, the doctors said she’d never walk again, let alone race again. She spent six months in a wheelchair and didn’t walk normally for two whole years.

But she somehow did walk again and then run again – and she actually ran in the 1946 summer Olympics against the heavily-favoured Germans in the relay race.

The kicker is that she beat them.

Not my pic, obvs. Click here for more info. Man, look how happy this kid is.

The thing is, if you pull up a picture of Betty Robinson, she just looks like any other chick from that time.

You’d never know she was a beast in her lane.

I’ve met so many people in my half-century here. But the ones I always value the most, are the ones with their secret lives that no one would ever suspect.

I’ve met beasts that you wouldn’t believe.

Suppose I hope this for my son, for him to have secrets that keep him safe and happy until and unless he has to show the world what he can do.

Son: So, you do fight, right, papa?
Me: Not if I can help it, kid. Remember that, too.

Speaking of meeting up with people, I met up with the Firecracker for drinks the other day at a place that a buddy from my gym told me he loves that’s all decked out as if it were still the Victorian age.

Super cool and ornate, plus it’s right around the gym.

I’d been walking past it for months without realizing what was inside.

Just like with people, the City has alla these hidden secrets that I like finding out about.

Then again, I usually tell you about them when I find about them, so we can share the secret, yeah?

After all, secrets are special things shared between people.

Oh, silly little editorial note, but in this entry about the Firecracker’s bday, I was supposed to have this picture in the entry.

I only realized today that I wasn’t up. These types of mistakes annoy me more than I can express.

Location: in my apartment all day, upset about a broken picture I loved
Mood: complex
Music: I’ve been on the brink, so tell me what you wanna hear (Spotify)
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Two taco joints and a ride down Manhattan

A small adventure

Me: Do you wanna go on a small adventure?
Her: With you? Yes!

After celebrating my birthday numerous times over the past few weeks, the Firecracker had a slow week so I asked if she wanted to have a really long lunch one weekday.

She’d been wanting to head over to Los Tacos #1 at the Chelsea Market for some time and it was a gorgeous day so I suggested that we both hop onto my electric bike, which is actually a two-seater.

Unfortunately, we only made it a couple of blocks before the tire came off of the rim.

Her: Do we have to head back?
Me: (shaking head) Nah, I think I can fix it. I inflated the bike on its tires but I shoulda flipped it over. I can fix this.

While she watched the bike, I ran back to my pad, got what I needed and came back to fix the bike.

After a few minutes, we were back on track.

Me: How you doing back there?
Her: OK…I think.

The weather could, honestly, not have been nicer. We actually went down to the tip of Manhattan to the Financial District and took a walk around.

After a bit, we both got hungry and headed up to Los Tacos #1 at the Chelsea Market.

I found a seat…

…while she went to grab food.

Of course, it wasn’t enough food for me but there was ANOTHER taco joint right next door – owned by the same people – called Los Mariscos, which was their fish taco place so I ordered more food there.

Me: Do you want anything else?
Her: No, I’m stuffed.
Me: More for me, then.

So, she sat and people watched while I continued to eat.

Afterward, we hopped back on the bike and went up to the Winter Garden, which I’ve always loved.

She’d never been.

We got her a coffee there and looked at the crowds of business people there, out for happy hours drinks.

She managed to ring her mom to tell her all about it too. I thought that was cute.

I told her that I was there when it first opened…

Her: I was like one or two then, Logan!

…and I was there again after they repaired it after 9/11.

It was one of the more fun mid-day trips I’ve had in my life.

Although, there were some unexpected things that put a slight damper on things.

Me: That was so much fun! It woulda been perfect except, man, my butt is sore.
Her: Me too!
Me: Worth it though.
Her: (nodding) Totally worth it.

Location: picking up the boy from the Lincoln Center movie theater. He kept wanting to toss popcorn into things.
Mood: exhausted
Music: baby…time’s passing by (Spotify)
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Japanese BBQ for Linner

Mixed feelings

The Firecracker was away down south visiting family for a few days but flew back early to spend some time with me while she was still off.

Me: If you’re gonna do that, I’ll meet you at the airport when you get back.
Her: You don’t have to do that.
Me: I know. I want to.

The plan was to take a cab back to her pad, drop of her luggage and then go get a late lunch/early dinner.

But, as always in NYC, traffic was at a crawl.

Her: I’m starving.
Me: You know me, I’m always hungry.
Her: We’re [kind of near the restaurant]. Should we just tell the driver to head straight there?
Me: Heck, yeah!

So, after just a couple of minutes, we hopped outta the cab and walked a few shorts blocks there.

The weather was great so the walk was nice but it wasn’t far so, before we knew it, we were already at the restaurant, quickly ordered some drinks, and then our food came.

I’d actually been to the restaurant once before with a friend, but this was the first time I did the barbeque version of it.

We started off with the salad and veggies…

…before turning to the meat…

…which the Firecracker was nice enough to cook.

We were pretty full but not completely when the waitress came by to inform us that they only brought half the meat we ordered.

There were three more trays of meat to be had.

Me: Yes!

Our birthdays are pretty close to each other so she did the same thing that I did when we went up to Legoland, and had the waitstaff come by with dessert and sing me a happy birthday song.

I think it was the first time anyone did something like for me. It was sweet.

Me: I can’t remember the last time I had regular ice cream.
Her: I’m not sure it’s regular ice cream, it tastes more like gelatto.
Me: No, I mean full fat, non-keto ice cream.

It’s been on my mind a lot, my birthday. It’s coming up in like less than a week.

I’ll be turning 50. Half-a-century old.

For me, it gives me all sortsa mixed feelings.

For the Firecracker, it just gives her something to amuse herself with.

Me: (on phone) It’s asking for my birthday. Hold on…
Her: (a few moments later) You know you’re really getting old when you have to spend forever on the click wheel [to get to your birth year].
Me: I’m at the 80s now, almost there…

Location: earlier today, having a picnic with her by the river
Mood: allergic to all this damn pollen
Music: Let’s get out of this town. Drive out of the city, away from the crowds (Spotify)
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