Good morning and greetings, August fans. Well, July 2010 is now history, and it will not go down as the warmest month of my life. Officially, that would have been November of 1952, when I spent the month perfecting my back stroke in the amniotic fluid. Which reminds me of the old joke, “waiter, there’s a fly in my soup. Force of habit, sir. Our chef used to be a tailor.” Or “don’t worry, the spider on your bread will get him.”
Anyway, I was at my daughter’s championship softball game last Wednesday night, and I don’t want to say it was chilly, but my electric blanket was shivering. Now, while we’ve been experiencing frigid summer weather, folks on the east coast have been sweating like Levi Johnston alone with Sarah Palin on a moose hunting trip.
I bring up this meteorological data up because my wife, children and various nannies just left on a ten day trip to New York City. Now, my bride has spent some time back east enjoying the wonders of the heat and humidity, but my son and daughter have never enjoyed that special feeling of extreme discomfort one gets from being in an summer sauna. As the slogan says, I love New York, especially when the humidity is over 100 percent.
Back in the old country, on those days of stifling heat and unbearable humidity, we would just lock down the compound, turn on the air conditioning and wait for Yankee baseball. And of course, there would be runs to the sacred Pizza King for a slice or a chicken parmesan sandwich. As I used to tell our family psychiatrist, “a slice a day keeps the doctor away.”
Which brings us back to New York, New York, the insomniac city that never sleeps. So much to do and see and be afraid of. The Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, Wall Street, the Museum of Unnatural History, Yankee Stadium, Hell’s Kitchen, Times Square, Madison Square Garden, Ground Zero, Little Italy, Big Italy and of course, Chinatown, featuring Hop Kee at 21 Mott Street, a true Cantonese experience that’s open till 4am on weekends. Reports are that the lo mein and wor shu gui chicken are still why God created chopsticks.
Throw in the Disunited Nations, Late Night with David Letterman, Rockefeller Front and Center and riding the New York City subways and you’ve had yourself quite a day. I would love to have gone on this trip and visited my ancestor’s sacred burial grounds, but Tommy Wolfe called to remind me that “you can’t go home again,” so I had to pass.
So for those of you who’ve never been to New York or who just love Derek Jeter, here are a few fun facts about the city they say is the greatest in the world. It was once said, if you stand at Times Square long enough, you’ll see the entire world walk or crawl by.
The Dutch purchased the island of Manhattan (really its southern tip) from the Algonquin tribe for trinkets, tools and some duct tape worth about $24. With that they built the Holland Tunnel. More than 60 percent of NYC’s residents do not own a car, a percentage higher than in any other city in the United States. Of the 60 percent who do own cars, 50 percent have had them stolen. The New York subway system is the largest mass transit system in the world with 468 stations and 842 miles of track that runs 24 hours a day. An average of 4.9 million people ride the New York City subway each weekday, with 3.9 million wishing the person next to them would move over a little bit.
New York City has 4,000 street food vendors selling hot dogs, pretzels, falafel, kebobs, and fake Rolexes. The first pizzeria in the United States was opened in NYC in 1895 by Gennaro Lombardi and his brother Pepperoni. Toilet paper was invented by NYC resident Joseph C. Gayetty in 1857, after enjoying a desert of plum pudding. America’s first vending machines were installed in the subways of New York City in 1888, and were broken into for the first time later that same day.
New York’s Yellow Cabs are yellow because John Hertz, the company’s founder, craved daffodils and learned from a study that yellow was the easiest color for the eye to spot. The “New York Post,” established in 1803 by Alexander Hamilton, is the oldest running newspaper in the United States and the place were my thoughts about the NBA could be consistently read by inquiring minds throughout the 1990′s. And finally, New York City is the most populated city in the USA with more than 8.2 million people. 37 percent of the city’s population is foreign-born, which makes this the U.S. city with people utterering obscenities in the most foreign languages at 170.
Moving on to our photo festivities, I like to start out each new month with some color and play-by play. Now, I shoot sunrises and sunsets in August about as often as I admire what the Republicans are doing in Washington, so it came as a bigger surprise than my SAT scores when this sunset hit the skies back on August 5, 2008.
I was shooting this parade of clouds from Stockton Avenue along West Cliff Drive. What added to the drama were the unending chains of pelicans flying thru this glowing festival of light, with some more than sixty strong, adding a Nature Channel bonus to this blessed event. And if that wasn’t enough, a rainbow appeared in the eastern sky, making this the most photographically spectacular August evening since Chelsea Clinton’s bachelorette party.
On to the late night. “Vice President Joe Biden has declared that the heavy lifting is over for the year, and it’s time to begin campaigning and talking about the White House’s accomplishments. The heavy lifting might be over, but it sounds like the heavy shoveling is just beginning.” –Jay Leno “WikiLeaks has posted over 90,000 classified documents about the war in Afghanistan. The Pentagon is outraged, the White House is furious, but British Petroleum is relieved: ‘Finally, a leak we had nothing to do with.’” –Jay Leno “Leaked documents show that Pakistan has been taking American money and using it to fund the Taliban. The Pakistanis are denying it, and they’re like, ‘The Taliban bought those iPods with their own money.’” –Craig Ferguson
“Congress’ approval rating has hit an all-time low of 11 percent. To give you an idea of how bad that is, the BP oil spill is at 12 percent.” –Jay Leno “BP is firing its CEO, Tony Hayward. They’re negotiating a settlement for $18 million. Boy, that’ll teach him.” –David Letterman “BP CEO Tony Hayward complained that he was unfairly ‘demonized’ in the U.S. over his handling of the Gulf oil spill. In response, demons complained that they were unfairly compared to BP CEO Tony Hayward.” –Jimmy Fallon
“Continental announced a new feature called ‘self boarding.’ There’s no ticket agent taking your boarding pass anymore, and you scan it yourself as you board the plane. It’s part of Continental’s ‘Terrorists Fly Hassel-free’ program.” –Jay Leno “A federal judge has blocked Arizona’s immigration law. Immigrants have been celebrating and throwing confetti. The governor of Arizona said, ‘Sure, now they’re showing us their papers.’” –Craig Ferguson Starbucks’ profits went up 37 percent in the third quarter of this year. They say they owe the increase to their new strategy of opening a Starbucks inside an existing Starbucks.” –Jimmy Fallon
So Jeb Bush is running for president. I don’t know about the rest of the country, but thank God, ladies and gentlemen, the comedy recession is over! “A lot of security at the Chelsea Clinton wedding, a huge security detail, and that’s just to keep Bill from the bridesmaids.” -David Letterman “Facebook now has 500 million users. The previous record holder was heroin.” –Jimmy Kimmel
So that’s our first blast for of the new month. Special birthday wishes on August 7 go out to my favorite daughter Aimee, who’s turning sweet 13 and growing more beautiful and entertaining every day. Celebrating on this same day is my old Hermosa Beach pal Bruce Meyers, who when he hears the word “strand,” doesn’t think hair. Also joining the parade this day is my old Syracuse partner in crime, Rhonda Starer, who first turned me on to the the wonders of Hop Kee and chow fun. Then on the 8th, my favorite microbiologist, Dr. Charlotte Borgeson, celebrates her special day with cake, ice cream and a lecture on the wonders of mozzarella cheese.
Reports from the Big Apple say the humidity is on hold, so my family got luckier than Heat fans in Miami. So enjoy the good moments of the day. And if you know someone who’s not doing so well on the health front, say a little prayer for them. We’ll catch you down the left field line. Aloha, mahalo and later, Lance Berkman fans.