Best Story of the Week…December 7

There’s a new paperboy on my corner after the old one got a better job, who was at least smart enough to wait inside Starbucks for his paper delivery.

This new fella, however, much shyer, stoically stands outside shivering until the truck pulls up barely at a complete stop, before hurling the bundled New York Times and Post onto the curb.

Picture a sniper shooting, with papers.

It’s been so cold, so one can’t help but to notice him out there under dressed, underpaid, just so commuters can grab a pulp rag en route to work.

When I asked Manuel, why he didn’t wear gloves he said, he can’t make change in them.

Despite understanding, it bothered me that the least these commuters could do was provide exact change. The New York Post a buck and a half, the Times $2.50, and it’s the Upper East Side remember, so a tip wouldn’t hurt either.

The next day I saw him, it was freezing. It had dropped to 18 during the night, so at 6 a.m. before dawn, it was frigid out there, but there he was, waiting, jumping from foot to foot trying to stay warm.

I had a pair of old, ratty fingerless gloves under my mittens, so I gave them to him, explaining, his fingers would still be free to handle money.

“Please take them,” I said, when he hesitated, “please!”

A day or so later, he called to me from across the street.

When I went over, with a big smile, he showed me he was indeed wearing the gloves, that somehow now had green threading along each finger.

“Thank you Miss, thank you. I loove them so much.”

On closer examination, I saw he had sewn them where they were torn and frayed, making them his own.

I can’t say how much this affected me, these cheap 3 dollar gloves I bought from a street vendor, now had such worth to this sweet and noble soul.

Put a lump in my throat, for the rest of that early, you could see your breath, morning as the sun brightly came up. images-1.jpeg

SB

 

 

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Posted in creative writing, Culture, Fashion, grace, humanity, inspiration, Love, media, New York City, Starbucks, words, writing | Tagged , , , , , | 23 Comments

Saying Goodbye To Butter

images.pngIt’s a sad day at Chez Susannah, watching Land O’Lakes pack her fat, yellow bags.

I had my cholesterol unexpectedly checked and it seems lucky, I’m not in the ER.

I know what happened, since I’ve become my own best diagnostician. My fat intake got a little outta’ hand after giving up all added sugar, including the silo I put in my coffee every day. It’s a common practice, like when you first go into the Beverage Program (AA) and are suddenly perking from 200 cups of coffee and enough Entemann’s to entitle you to stock. But then after you get yourself more or less balanced, you merrily tweak that cake and caffeine intake as if you were dating Dr. Oz. (Okay, maybe in the movies).

My old-fashioned doctor who’s 76 and wears sneakers and a bow tie, said I must lower my numbers…OR ELSE.

“Or else what, docta?” I asked, like Scarlett flirting with a no good Yankee.

“You could have a stroke.”

‘”Ah such a stroke of luck, you just SCARING THE LIVIN’ CRAP OUTTA ME.”

“Now now, said Dr. Bow Tie, “just curb your fat, you know, lay off the cookies and chips.”

What’s wrong with this picture?

I’m almost 5’8, after dropping a half inch for posterity’s sake, weighing in at 110. Without my head, my back would look like my front, at times compared to an ironing board, Olive Oyl and a Number 2 pencil.

You would think fat would have turned on its heel and gone elsewhere.

“Any suggestions, Docta?”

“Butter. Anything with butter, cut out.”

“Would that include the Shea Butta’ ah’ use on ma ska’ in’?”

“Call me if you have any chest pain.”

No sense of humor these heart specialists who think of themselves as quite special, along with such heart.

See, I’d let a plumber examine me if he told a good joke, but back to butter.

Yes, guilty as charged, living on scrambled eggs and butter-flavored popcorn. Toss in that Stella D’oro Anisette Toast I love so much and well, I should just be sleeping on a stretcher, to save time.

So, after a final farewell party with 3 eggs swooning in a full stick of Land O’Lakes, and 3 matching bowls of CVS’s famed popcorn that’s made in the Ozarks which is why it’s so cheap, I’m turning green.

Just call me your little Brussels sprout.

As for Stella D’oro, I’m not terribly sure I’m kicking her out. I mean, what kind of an Italian would I be after all? If this were Italy, it would be considered a capital crime…of passion.

She was also my grandfather’s favorite so, take that Docta’ Bow Tie, and let the cookies fall where they may.   images-1.png

SB

Posted in Culture, dessert, food, Health, humanity, humor, words, writing | Tagged , , , , | 25 Comments

I Saw Mommy Smackin’ Santa Claus

The Salvation Army’s army of Santas, are already out, ringin’ their noble bells.

My own Santa on the corner is quite charming. A cross between Will Smith, Bozo and a game show host, plus he sings, and he’s good too, crooning My Girl, by The Temptations, sliding into, We Need a Little Christmas, from the Broadway show Mame. An actor, no doubt, paying the rent.

I see him at least 3 times a day never failing to be asked for a contribution. I finally said, if I give the Salvation Army any more money, I’ll have to ask them for a loan.

“Oh, you’re not foolin’ me,” said Santa. “I know all about you East Side girls. You just don’t wanna dig into that trust fund a’ yours.”

I wish.

This brings me to yesterday. As I got off the train, there he was in his usual spot, ringing his bell, belting out a tune, when a pretty young girl in front of me, flips around like a flapjack in embossed leather and screams, “YOU WHISTLIN’ AT ME?”

It took a second but then realized, she was speaking to Santa.

Not missing a beat, his white teeth gleaming like a Pepsodent ad said, “I just couldn’t help myself, you’re so damned beautiful, you just make me wanna ring my bell.”

“I’LL RING YO BELL, I’LL RING IT SO HARD YO’LL GET A FUCKIN NOSE BLEED.”

What a great line, I thought, write that down Susannah, quick….write it down.

As she left like a gazelle on steroids, I looked over at Santa who I’m guessing, won’t be whistling anytime soon.   images-1.jpeg

🙂

SB

 

 

 

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Writers Courageous

I’m here wallowing, crying in my beer, wishing I actually had one in a nice tall glass.

So what if it’s 7 a.m.

I’m a writer, even if no one else seems to think so in the publishing world.

It’s dawned on me how brave it is to submit your work, something I do consistently, charging into that same wall of, thanks so much, but sorry, not interested. That’s providing of course, they even bother to answer.

At this point, I can’t give my stuff away for free.

Though published in the past, I ask myself if I’ve peaked and it’s time to humbly close shop.

Then of course, I hear my heroes hailing from the ethers, don’t be ridiculous. We writers don’t give up. What’s that Mr. Vonnegut, fuck’em did you say?

Do you think that would help?

Yes, my humor gratefully stays intact.

Everything I’ve known in my life is fading, friendships either from death or indifference. Health is doing the hula. My career, based on my looks is more or less over. I’m not the beauty, who earned a buck, because of it, any longer. That’s more a practical statement than a haughty one, so please perceive it that way.

What doesn’t fade is one’s art.

That’s what I had to tell myself when once again, third time this week, found a rejection letter smirking in the mailbox…one of my self-addressed envelopes they insist upon because God forbid they spring for postage.

I hear Mary Wesley, that noble novelist whisper from the great beyond not published till she was 71. And my favorite part of her story, when she finally made money after being hopelessly broke her whole life, gave much of it away to those who really needed it.

No one wanted those amazing short stories Hemingway wrote we love so much, until he sold Fiesta that became, The Sun Also Rises. Then all bets were off. They wanted everything Papa ever penned short of a laundry list.

Mustn’t forget the powers that be who laughed in the face of J.K. Rowling’s beloved Harry Potter before it was finally sold, going from living on state benefits to being the first billionaire author of her time. You can bet, no one’s laughing now.

These are buoys in the water…signposts signalling, stay your course.

So, let us dry our tears and head for home, onto the next written page.

Thank you for listening.

Susannah Bianchi…

Writer.  images.jpeg

 

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Notes From The Carlyle – November 2018

Unknown.jpeg I came to Bemelmans to pay homage to Tommy, their long time bartender, who passed away at 78. Though retiring after 53 years in 2012, I always thought somehow he’d come back, like it was all a great mistake.

Wishful thinking on my part.

We met in the 80s when I drifted into Bemelmans because some actor stood me up, as crushed as the ice in my glass.

Tommy, having a daughter of his own, dried my tears with his hankie, administering advice and kindness through the healing powers of potato chips and soft Irish ballads, making us fast friends.

“There there Lassie, all will work out.”

I’d see him at least once a week when I’d sit at the bar while he regaled me with stories, how he shook hands with President Kennedy, and waited on Harry Truman, Bobby and Teddy. My favorite tale of course, was how he once helped Jackie into a cab.

“She was so polite, thanking me in but a whisper,” he’d say, every time I asked him to retell it.

There’s even a drink named after him that’s on the menu…A Tommy Rowles made with rum and cognac. “Has to be a good cognac,” Tommy would say with a wink. “Ya always want the real thing there Lassie, don’t forget that.”

As I sit here remembering him, despite, the new barmaid, who no doubt will become a Tommy in her own right, I can still feel his presence presiding with that eternal twinkle in his eye, his cocktail shaker purring over the prattle and grand piano.

I loved what he said when asked, how do you make the perfect martini? He said, just forget the vermouth.

“I don’t know why people put it in. A bottle of vermouth, you should just open it and look at it.” And you know, he was right. Who doesn’t just prefer ice cold gin in a chilled crystal glass.

“So it’s been a while,” said the barmaid when she came to take my order. “How come you’re not sitting at the bar in your usual place?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Just wanted to reflect a bit.”

“So what’ll it be?”

“How bout a Tommy Rowels, on ice, just make sure it’s a good cognac.”

She smiled, then said, “How bout we’ll both have one, on Tommy.”

SB

Unknown-1.jpeg Tommy Rowels (1940-2018)

 

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Things You May Not Know

I love trivia, the stuff that’s not mainstream, but should be since it’s always so fascinating, along with entertaining.

Did you know P.T. Barnum’s initials stood for Phineas Taylor?

Or, that Napoleon insisted his wife, Josephine, didn’t bathe because he liked an earthy smell?

Thomas Jefferson, despite his southern swagger, hated public speaking, begging off whenever possible.

Unknown.jpegElvis dyed his brown hair black, its style inspired by the actor, Robert Mitchum, Unknown-1.jpeg had a black belt in karate and a twin brother who died at birth.

Huckleberry Finn was the first novel to ever be typewritten.

Jennifer Aniston, Anderson Cooper, Tom Cruise, Whoopi Goldberg, Jay Leno and Cher, are all dyslexic.

The term, red tape, comes from the American Civil War years, when soldiers or their widows, showed up in Washington demanding back pay, their records, when finally found, held together with strips of red tape.

John Wilkes Booth was only 27 when he shot Abraham Lincoln, who was the tallest American President at 6’4.

James Madison, the shortest, at 5’4, while William Howard Taft, the fattest, images.jpeg tipping the scales at 350 making it necessary to build him a special bathtub referred to as, the Taft Tank.

Mr. Taft also, on April 14th, 1910 at a game between The Washington Nationals and the Philadelphia Athletics, threw out the very first baseball coined, the ceremonial pitch, and besides JFK, the only other American President buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

President Andrew Jackson taught his pet parrot how to curse. It was funny, until the parrot had to be removed from Jackson’s funeral because he wouldn’t stop. See, I think Andy would have loved that, and the bird should have just given the eulogy.

images.jpeg Jackie Kennedy Onassis used to send her maid to the local resale store to sell her designer clothes, under the maid’s name of course. Encore, one of the first of its kind, still stands more popular than ever a few blocks from Jackie’s old apartment. images

What did Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson and Colleen Dewhurst and George C. Scott have in common? They all married each other twice as unsuccessfully as the first time.

Like a friend of mine said, marrying your ex is like breakin’ back into jail.

Speaking of Elizabeth Taylor who took care of her former daughter-in-law stricken with AIDS and when asked why said, “She’s the mother of my grandchildren, that’s why.”

One in every 38 Americans live in New York City.

A hotdog vendor in Central Park can pay close to $300.000 just to open his buns.

Elephants, despite what Babar may have said, do not like peanuts, and can run faster than any human. Can’t you just see one in shorts and sneaks, winning the New York Marathon. And speaking of such noble beasts, I’ll end with one of my favorites going back to Mr. Barnum.

When the Brooklyn Bridge opened on May 24th, 1833, people were afraid to go across since rumor had it, it wouldn’t hold. Phineas, whose circus was in Brooklyn at the time, collected his band of 21 elephants trunks linked, his star, Jumbo, in the lead, marching them across, proving the bridge was indeed safe.

Crowds roared clapping in approval, while Jumbo, a showman in his own right, hearing the applause, wagged his ears as he led his comrades with great aplomb, over to the Manhattan side.   Unknown-3.jpeg

🙂

SB

 

 

 

 

 

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John F. Kennedy Jr.’s Lost Legacy

I heard a story about John Kennedy Junior I had never heard before. Just when you think you know everything there is to know about someone you admire, something lost gets recovered.

It’s no secret his mother raised her children like Bouviers rather than Kennedys, meaning, they were more grounded, less wild despite the many violent circumstances surrounding them.

Manners and doing what was right, were big with Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy.

She taught both her children, not to ask another to do something you could easily do for yourself, which brings me to my story.

John, while hailing a cab, saw an old friend of his from school, also hailing one on the opposite corner, suggesting they ride together.

He hadn’t seen this fella in a long time, but remembered him and his family fondly, so when the guy said, he was on his way to the hospital to visit his very sick dad, John was at once concerned. Getting out first, he asked what hospital his dad was in, and to make sure to say that he asked for him.

The next day, remembering this man loved Shakespeare, he went to the the rare book section at the old Scribners Books Store, and bought two nice Shakespearean volumes.

After having them wrapped, heeding his mother’s wisdom, rather than having them sent, went to the hospital to hand deliver them.

When his friend’s father saw him walking in, he was stunned.

“What are you doing here John?” Probably thinking there was some mistake.

John said, “I came to see you. Heard you were under the weather.”

The man, when John gave him the books said, “How did you know how much I love Shakespeare?”

“I remember when I used to visit, all the books of his you had in your library.”

I love this story, one because it proves, showing a little effort moves mountains in the simple healing of humanity. How much his presence and that he took the time, meant to this old man.

Just when you think you know everything there is to know about someone you admire, something lost gets recovered.    

John Kennedy Jr. would have been 58 years-old today

(1960-1999)

SB

 

Posted in Books, Family, friendship, grace, Health, History, humanity, Love, men, New York City, parents, Politics, readng, writing | Tagged , , , , | 14 Comments

Best Story of the Week…November 23

It’s early Thanksgiving morning and I can’t sleep, deciding to take a long, loll down Lex to catch a glimpse of the Chrysler Building, the Grace Kelly of Architecture, lit up like she’s coming home from a fancy ball.

It’s freezing, which can account for the streets being empty, not even a can man in sight, when what’s turtling down the block, but a garbage truck with three men, manning it like a smelly ship.

“Happy Thanksgiving,” Pollyanna sings, looking a little like them in my jeans and hoodie though perhaps, smelling a bit better.

One guy nods, another yawns. The third one, driving, smiles and says, “Why you up this earla’ it bein’a holidays’ and all?”

“You’re up,” I say, teasing.

“Yea but, wes’ got no choice.”

My heart opened knowing how true this must be for them, paying the rent by picking up rich people’s trash in this cold, no less.

“Don’t you get time-and-a-half since it’s a holiday?”

“Yeah, we’s get a little mo, but we’d ratha’ be home with ah’ wives and keeds.’.”

Suddenly Pollyanna’s pilot light goes on and remembers there’s a 24 Hour Dunkin Donuts nearby and says, “Would it be okay, if I treated us all to coffee?”

Well, you never saw three men in gloves, perk up so fast.

“It’s right on the corner,” I say, pulling out my trusty 20.

So, after two light and sweets, one regular and a black, and 4 glazed donuts to go, Grace Kelly, gleaming in the distance, Pollyanna, with a little change to spare, heads home to the sweet sound of…

“Happa Thanksgivin’ Miss, and thanks…thanks a whole lot.”

Unknown

🙂

SB

Posted in creative writing, Culture, Family, friendship, grace, Gratitude, humanity, humor, inspiration, New York City, words | Tagged , , , | 28 Comments

My Coffee Cup Runneth Over

Unknown As I sit in bed, spilled Maxwell House all over me, good to the last drop, a phrase Teddy Roosevelt coined by the way, I’m thinking about Thanksgiving waiting patiently in the wings.

It’s the day gratitude is the guest of honor at one’s table, or at least should be.

Giving and receiving, sharing what you have, big or small, rate high on this fine day.

I finally told a friend, who loves to give but can’t receive, it’s high time she made an adjustment.

When you don’t allow someone to give to you, you’re denying them the privilege of doing so.

Like in the St. Francis’s Prayer for Peace...for it is in giving, that we receive, but you need to have the grace to say yes to someone else’s thoughtfulness when it rears its lovely head.

Not easy for my friend who turns scarlet anytime you do anything for her.

But back to gratitude. I’ve made my annual list that bulges with an array of blessings, boons, benefits and gifts…those daily benedictions…strokes of good luck ranging from…sun, shelter, sustenance and that pair’a shoes on sale at Saks.

The fact I’m still running, writing, reading and writhing in good cheer poised where my feet are, armed with grace even though I’m alone and turkey-less, this turkey deserves a round of applause.

Of course, I have pulp guests at my table who show up every year…Huck Finn, the Darcys, Kurt Vonnegut, Anne Lamott and Nora Ephron, all responsible for my eternal desire to write.

Diane Vreeland once told Jackie Kennedy, elegance is refusal.

So, I’ll cut and paste that into my attitude, refusing to be anything but grateful on Thanksgiving Day, even donning my pearls in tribute to all the muses in my life…

Nora, Anne, Jackie, Jane, Audrey, Mr. Vonnegut, Mr. Twain and Carmela the Basset Hound.

Oh yeah, and God, can’t forget him.

🙂

SB

 

 

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Lasting Impressions

Six hardhats holding hands creating a barrier for a group of preschoolers to insure their safety.

The first whiff of spring.

Audrey Hepburn refusing more cancer treatment so she could return to Somalia to complete her work there before she died.  

Kate adopting two one-eyed cats almost identical, leaving but two eyes between them.

Anything Ernest Hemingway ever wrote.

Mimi’s New York memorial service, standing room only. The family renting her place attending when they never even met her.

Mike the Pitbull belonging to a well-off Waspy woman who rescued him in the 11th hour, a fact Mike clearly knows, never leaving her side like a 4-legged Pinkerton Guard.  

Bill Hicks dying at 32.

All alcoholics and addicts who bravely kicked their addictions living one day at a time.

Caroline Kennedy weathering so much loss, still noble, still so like her mom, the last one standing.

 The Freedom Riders fighting for their Civil Rights, who made out their wills before getting on the bus knowing, they might not come back.

My friend David Stewart saying, the only thing Christine Blasey Ford had to gain standing up to Brett Kavanaugh, was to ruin her life

Anthony Bourdain ending his life.

Donald Trump getting elected president.

Robin Williams.

Kids with cancer who smile nonetheless happy in the moment, along with their parents despite knowing how sick they are.

Bobby Kennedy standing at the podium happy, minutes before he was fatally gunned down.

Bambi crying for his mother.

Gurgling babies peeking from their carriages, voices of the future.

Families all dressed up, going to temple on Jewish holidays.

The time the actor, Peter O’Toole, came into the Madison Pub and ate chili in the kitchen while chatting with Manny the cook.   

Rocky Mazzilli, my friend Chris’s elderly chihuahua they said was a goner who, after an operation to clear his lungs, looks 5 again…eating like a teamster, teasing his sister Coco with the heart of a little lion…

hope and love leaving the most lasting impression of all.     

SB

 

 

 

 

 

 

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