Friday, August 10, 2007

Was that thirty years that just flew by?

On July 18 Marti & I travelled to New York on a trip that commemorated the thirtieth anniversary of our first date.

That historic event was a concert at Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, in Lenox MA. It's a couple of hours north of Manhattan. This time we'd be spending the weekend, attending three concerts.

We tried a new airline on this vacation: l'Avion, a low-cost all-business-class carrier. One route: Orly to Newark & back again, perfect for folks like Marti & me who fly from Paris to NYC two or three times a year. A B757-200 outfitted with 90 seats instead of the usual 220. Real food. Socket to plug in the iPod & laptop. (We watched several episodes of All My Children & 30 Rock during the flight.) Twice the price of Air France torture coach; one-third of Air France business. It rocked.

The first two days & nights in NYC were action-packed. At the last minute, problems at our customary base at Jody & Emmett's on W. 46th Street resulted in our bunking at the Edison Hotel; happily it was just two blocks away. We went with our pal Ted to see John Waite at B.B. King's. Jody joined us at the Metropolitan Museum for an exhibition of fashion designer Paul Poiret (1879–1944), many of whose early 20th Century creations were so advanced that they still look contemporary. The three of us also took in a show of Jerome Liebling's photography at our longtime friend Howard Greenberg's gallery.

That night we hooked up at an Indian restaurant in the Village with our buds from the Widespread Panic scene: Bry, Laurie, Meryl, & their Krews. Then Marti & I hit the open mic at Ashford & Simpson's Sugar Bar on W. 72nd. Our favorite was Lady Laura, whom I told afterward that she'd won the night on Costume Design & Choreography. Her version of "Proud Mary" was replete with fringe & handstands!

On Friday morning Marti & I drove up to the Berkshires. We checked into a favorite B&B, the chef-run Turning Point Inn in Great Barrington. We met my brother Jamie & his wife Pam for late lunch at the nearby Aegean Breeze. Great Greek food. That evening the four of us froze our asses off at the first of three BSO Beethoven concerts at Tanglewood. It was wonderful to be back there, though; it's such a marvelous setting. I have treasured snapshots of my parents at Tanglewood in the 1940s. Marti & I arrived early enough to enjoy the Prelude concert in Ozawa Hall, a recent addition to the complex. After those two performances the four of us went for a nightcap at the Lion's Den in Stockbridge, which features live local bands nightly.

Next morning we rendezvoused with Pam & Jamie on the porch of the Red Lion Inn. After Bloody Marys & iced coffees, they headed home to Cape Cod, while my bride & I went outlet shopping in Lee. I always do well there. Timberland. The Gap. Geoffrey Beene. Brooks Brothers. All in one corner for the convenience of the male power shopper. Saturday night we were joined for a picnic on the lawn at Tanglewood by maple syrup producer & online friends Tom & Judy McCrumm. Google South Face Farm & order some 100% Massachusetts maple syrup today!

Marti & I went by ourselves to Sunday's concert: Beethoven's 7th Symphony was the highlight. Sublime. And a wonderful conclusion to our Return To The Scene Of The Crime anniversary. I'm sure glad I asked Marti out thirty years ago! After the concert we drove to Springfield, my birthplace, to have dinner with two of my late mom's gal pals (& our longtime friends), Rena & Sally.

On Monday morning Marti & I checked out of our motel room in West Springfield & paid a visit to the East Longmeadow cemetery where my brother Peter & my parents are buried. We placed flowers at the gravesite. It was the first time I'd returned to E. L. since my mom passed away in April 2004. Sad duty.

We left the Springfield area & drove through rainy traffic to New York. Our dear friends Debbie & Ted had offered us the use of their lovely condo on the Upper West Side for the coming week; they were vacationing on Nantucket. That evening Marti & I hosted a New York Krew Party at Lucille's Bar at B.B. King's.

It's a great place to gather our friends on a Monday night. Jon Paris hosts an open blues jam; our musician pals come & sit in while we civilians hang at the bar. We were heartened to see so many of our Krew: Amy Madden (Jon's bass player), Alan Merrill, Susan & Marc Black, longtime friend Bob Hefley, producer-guitarist extraordinaire Kirk Yano, Teri (our friend Jerry Joseph's fiancee, who brought along her pal Craig) . . . & Lady Laura, who came at my invitation with her posse (K. Lamonté & Miles).

Laura brought the house down with "Proud Mary," then sang a couple of blues tunes with Jon's trio. Alan favored us with his legacy -- "I Love Rock 'N Roll" (I danced with Laura to that one) -- plus some great blues & rock classics. Marc sang "Gloria" & dedicated his beautiful ballad "Moonstruck Love" to Marti & me. Kirk strapped on a guitar & shredded a bit. Andy Bigard sat in on drums. Teri's friend Craig took a turn as well. It was so much fun to hang out with our NYC homies. As usual, Marti & I helped close the joint, stumbling out onto 42nd Street in the wee hours with Alan & Kirk & a woman friend of Kirk's whose name escapes me.

Next morning Marti was off to see her folks in Charlottesville VA. She spent a relaxing week with them, saw a number of their (& our) friends, did a bit of shopping. Before her return to Dulles airport on Saturday for the flight back to New York, she & her gal pals Cathy, Evelyn & Gina enjoyed lunch in nearby Reston.

Meanwhile I settled into Bachelor Week in Maximum City. Heat averse & high-speed connected at Deb & Ted's, I chilled during the days & went out every night. Our bud Mikey was in town; he & I went to dinner & then cabbed uptown to a jazz club called Smoke to see the Eric Alexander quartet. On Wednesday night I joined Alan & Kirk at Kirk's Planet2Planet recording studio on 30th Street. They were working on Alan's cover of the Left Banke's "Pretty Ballerina." These two have been at this tribute project for two years. (Apparently many of the creative sessions are being conducted at the corner bar.)

I hung out with Lady Laura at the Sugar Bar open mic on Thursday night, then went down to the Blender Theater on Gramercy on Friday evening to see Lez Zeppelin. (Mikey helped set this up.) This all-women tribute band has just released its Eddie Kramer-produced debut CD. Sarah McClellan, an Aussie, is the lead singer. They are amazing.

I went out to breakfast & a stroll around Deb & Ted's hood on Saturday morning. Did some shopping at Duane Reade, Barnes & Noble, Circuit City & Radio Shack. Marti was due in that evening. I started packing for our Sunday evening flight home.

Saturday night we cabbed across Central Park to Nancy Lee's Pig Heaven Chinese Restaurant on 2nd Avenue & 80th Street (Yorkville). Jon Paris, Amy Madden & drummer Kirk Driscoll were doing a jazz gig there; that changed after Alan strolled in & went up to the mic. He accompanied cute bartender Jamie on a couple of tunes, did a slowed-down version of "I Love Rock 'N Roll," then kicked down a few other choice rockers. A woman named Bonnie Kaye sat in on electric violin. Terrific. One last rockin' night in NYC!

On Sunday afternoon Jody joined Marti & me for brunch at the Neptune Room on Amsterdam Ave. I had Lobster Benedict. Super! We promised Jody that we'd be back in the City in October (enroute to & following a wedding in Chicago) & that we'd probably stay with her & Emmett. Back at the condo Deb & Ted had just returned home from Nantucket. We spoke briefly with them, thanked them for their kind hospitality. Then the car service arrived to take us to our l'Avion flight home.
I never regret having to return to the City of Light after vacation. And for once I was even looking forward to the airplane ride.

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