Category Archives: New York City

700K are Dead from Covid. Vaccine Mandates are Still Being Questioned.

After everything that we have been through in the nearly two years, I would think that we would use our heads. But logic still seems elusive, even when the facts are right in front of our eyes.

The United States reached a grim milestone this week, 700,000 people have lost their lives to Covid-19. In spite of the proof that the vaccine prevents hospitalization, severe illness, and (most importantly) death, there many who refuse to get the jab. In New York City, teachers and other school personnel had until today at 5PM to get the first shot. If the choice was made to remained unvaccinated on Monday morning, those who made that decision will be forced to go on unpaid leave. Statewide, a similar mandate has been put into place for healthcare workers. The only exemption is for religious purposes. Those wishing to file have until October 12th to do so.

I don’t get it. We are all entitled to our rights. But, we also have to realize that the vaccine requirement is not being done for shits and giggles. It is the only way to defeat this virus. What is frustrating to me is that teachers and healthcare staff work with those who are the most vulnerable to Covid-19. The reason I was vaccinated earlier this year was not just for selfish reasons. G-d forbid I get sick, the last thing I want is to spread it.

We know what we need to do. The science is clear. But instead of getting it done and returning to normal, we continue to be foolish and let our fellow Americans die for no good reason.

May G-d have mercy on all of us and one day, forgive us for what we have done.

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The Great Kosher Meat War of 1902: Immigrant Housewives and the Riots That Shook New York City Book Review

Food is more than the nourishment our body needs to survive. It tells the story of the people who prepared it.

The Great Kosher Meat War of 1902: Immigrant Housewives and the Riots That Shook New York City by Scott Seligman was published last year. One of the major tenets of traditional Judaism is keeping kosher. That means that certain foods are off limits. Meat and dairy dishes cannot be combined in the same meal. There must be two sets of dishes and two sets of preparation tools. Most of all, the only acceptable meat is kosher. The problem with kosher meat is that it is more expensive than its non-kosher counterpart.

In May of 1902, many Jewish families who resided in New York City were poor immigrants, barely struggling to get by. But in spite of the hardships, they were determined to maintain their traditions. That included the food they purchased and consumed. When the price of the animal based proteins rose beyond what many could afford, women took to the streets, believing that price gouges were responsible for the increase. What started out as a non-violent movement turned into a battle for the hearts and minds of the community. Led by women who lacked the education and opportunities of their uptown peers, it is a story of not just economic survival, but the average person fighting against the powerful.

This book is obviously a niche subject and right up my alley. This is my history and the women I come from. Instead of keeping silent, they stood up for themselves and their community. In doing so, these women blazed a path and helped to created the blueprint for the modern non-violent protest that we see today.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Feminism, History, New York City, Politics

This Will All Be Over Soon: A Memoir Book Review

When one reaches the peak of success in Hollywood, the assumption maybe that the problems this person had when they were not famous disappear. Their life is nothing short of perfection. The truth is that their pre-fame issues remain the same (or may even be magnified) with the harsh spotlight that comes with being in the public eye.

Saturday Night Live‘s Cecily Strong released her new memoir in August. Entitled This Will All Be Over Soon: A Memoir, the book tells her story of losing her beloved cousin, Owen, to cancer and the emotional destruction that Covid-19 has left in its wake. When he passed away in early 2020, Strong was devastated. Her grief was compounded when New York City became the epicenter of the virus a few months later. Needing a break from everything, she left the city, took refuge in a house upstate and began to write.

I like that it is set in a diary format. Strong reveals a personal side of herself that television viewers have not seen of her. She lays her mental health cards on the table, talking about emotions that are private, deep, and a little bit uncomfortable. My problem is that I expected to feel everything that she puts on the page. Unfortunately, I was not, which a dam shame.

Do I recommend it? Not really.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Mental Health, New York City, Television

Showstoppers! Spectacular Costumes from Stage & Screen Review

Costumes are more than clothes on a performer. They communicate as much about the character as the words that come out of the actor’s mouth.

The new exhibit, Showstoppers! Spectacular Costumes from Stage & Screen, is open until the end of next month. Visitors are able to get up close and personal with some of the most lavish and beautiful costumes from their favorite stage shows, movies, and television programs. They are also able to have conversations with the experts in the field as they talk about their craft and the work that goes into the finished product.

This is the type of experience one can only have in New York City. The ability to see the detail and the effort it takes to create these masterpieces is not one that occurs very often. As an audience member, it makes me appreciate the artisans and artists who job it is to bring these masterpieces to life.

My problem is that I wish there was more to it. While it is entertaining and a bit of a learning experience, it falls short of fulfilling the promises it makes.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

Showstoppers! Spectacular Costumes from Stage & Screen will be open until October 31st. It is located at 234 West 42nd Street in New York. More information can be found on the first link above.

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Flashback Friday: The Parent Trap II (1986)

Divorce is a hard thing on a kid. You want your parents to be happy, but their happiness is no longer dependent on one another.

The 1986 TV movie, The Parent Trap II, is the sequel to the 1961 movie, The Parent Trap. Nikki Ferris (Carrie Kei Heim) and Mary Grand (Bridgette Andersen) both have divorced parents. Being best friends, they plan on bringing Nikki’s mother Sharon Ferris (Hayley Mills) and Mary’s father Bill Grand (Tom Skerritt) together. Their goal is to prevent Sharon and Nikki from uprooting and moving to New York City. But the girls are not doing it alone. Sharon’s twin sister, Susan Carey (also Haley Mills) is more than eager to provide help in whatever ways she can.

I haven’t seen this movie in thirty plus years. I remember watching it countless times when I was young. Its a cute movie and overall, a nice extension to the narrative of the original film. With films like these, important thing is the balance between nostalgia and moving the story forward. Granted, I have only seen it it through a child’s eyes, but as sequels go, I have seen much worse.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Filed under Flashback Friday, Movie Review, New York City, Television, TV Review

Anne of Manhattan: A Novel Book Review

I remember the first time I met Anne Shirley. I was a young girl not knowing that I was looking for a heroine. This spunky, dramatic, and orphaned redhead who just wanted to be loved struck a cord with me. Though decades have passed, she is still one of my favorite literary characters.

Author Brina Starler‘s new novel, Anne of Manhattan, transports Anne of Green Gables from Prince Edward Island in the late 19th century to New York City and the fictional town of Green Gables on the East End of Long Island. Anne Shirley is now a twenty something graduate student living with friends and balancing school and part time work. She is not looking for romance. But it comes to her in the form of Gilbert Blythe. Back in the day, Anne and Gilbert used to play the game of academic “top that”, in addition to the question of “will they or won’t they”.

This book is easily one of my favorite books of the year. It is the perfect blend of the original text and what it is to be a modern woman in 2021. I’ve read many modern reboots of classic novels. This is how it should be done every time. It would have been easy for the author to do a literal cut and paste, replacing a horse and buggy with a car. What she did so brilliantly was to transport the soul and the voice of Montgomery’s work into our time while still retaining the magic that continues to enchant readers generations after its initial publishing.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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Innocence Lost: 9/11 Twenty Years Later

There are two ways to lose our innocence. The first is the slow and gradual growth to maturity when old ideas begin to be replaced with new ideas. The second is when a single event forever changes the way we see the world.

Today is the 20th anniversary of September 11th. It was an ordinary day. The sky was blue and bright, a perfect early fall day. Offices, schools, and stores opened as normal. Then the first place hit the Twin Towers and everything changed.

I was in college back then, part of the younger generation. It’s amazing how fast two decades can go. Though it seems like it will take forever for the time to pass, it goes in the blink of an eye. Those of us who were young then are now adults with adult responsibilities. Some of the the kids who were too young to know what was going on or not yet born are now on the verge of adulthood themselves.

On Thursday, The Brian Lehrer Show asked listeners what the term “never forget” meant to them. What I remember is that for a brief time, the divisions that normally kept us apart disappeared. We were all Americans and we were all grieving. It was a communal loss that knew no boundaries or labels.

Last month, I visited the 9/11 Museum with a couple of friends. It was my second visit. Walking into the building is akin to a ten pound weight being thrust on your shoulders. There is an energy that is emotional, heavy, and sometimes difficult to bear. The energy of the day and the souls of the innocent people whose lives were taken that day are all around you, a solemn reminder of what was lost on that beautiful September day.

It was if nothing else, a potent reminder of how important it is to not only live while you can, but tell the ones you love how you feel before it is too late.

May the memories of the nearly 3000 people who were taken us from forever be a blessing. Z”L.

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Filed under History, International News, Music, National News, New York City, WNYC, World News

Worth Movie Review

What is a human life worth? Is it the emotions we create in others? Is it the experiences that define our lives? Or is it in a check that is given to our loved ones when we are gone?

The new Netflix movie, Worth, follows the story of real life lawyer Kenneth Feinberg (Michael Keaton) as he tries to help the victims of 9/11. He has been assigned to help the survivors and the families of the nearly 3000 people who died that day. His job is to lead the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund, but it will not be easy. With the help of associate Camille Biros (Amy Ryan), he and his team must determine what each person was worth.

Challenging Kenneth are two surviving spouses. Charles Wolf (Stanley Tucci) lost his wife when the Twin Towers fell. A community organizer, he is continually nipping at the team’s feet, pushing them to think with their heart and not with their calculators. Karen Donato (Laura Benanti) is torn between her needs and what she is hearing from her brother-in-law.

Kenneth knows that the task he has ahead of him will be grueling, in every sense of the word. Money can never replace the ones we love. Whatever happens, he knows that he must succeed, even with the difficulties that lay before him.

This movie is riveting and powerful. Based on a true story, it is a reminder that the souls who died that day were not just names on a spreadsheet. They were human beings whose loss represent a black hole that can never be filled. It also a reminder that there is still hope in this world. Kenneth starts the film as the typical cynical bureaucrat who is just doing his job. By the end of the film, he understands the grief and heartache of those who he is trying to help.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Worth is available for streaming on Netflix.

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Filed under History, Movie Review, Movies, Netflix, New York City

Now Can We Believe in Climate Change?

Some say that climate change does not exist. It is just part of the natural cycle of life and nature.

After the damage that Hurricane Ida wrought on multiple parts of the country, millions of American are still suffering. In Louisiana, there are some parts of the state that may not have full power back until the end of the month. The return of full infrastructure and normal life (well, as normal as it can be with Covid-19), is going to take some time).

In my hometown of New York City, the destruction Ida left behind is much more than any of us in this part of the country could have imagined. Between flooding, fires, and tornadoes, it was storm that was dangerously underestimated. Approximately 40 people lost their lives to Ida.

I don’t know what it is going to take for all of us to believe that climate change is both real and dangerous. We cannot undo what has already happened. But I believe there is still time, if we are willing to do the work. The question is, can we face up to reality and do what needs to be done?

If we don’t, then we are dooming ourselves, our children, our grandchildren, and further generations to an Earth and a fate that will eventually kill us all.

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Clueless Character Review: Mel Horowitz

*The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday the latest from now on).

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the movie Clueless. Read at your own risk if you have not seen the movie. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations. Being the father of a teenage daughter is a curious and complicated thing. It is obvious that your little girl is no longer a little girl. As much you want to protect them, there comes a point in which they have to be set free.

In Clueless, Mel Horowitz (Dan Hedaya) is the father of Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone). A widower and a high priced lawyer who has had several relationships since the death of his first wife, he is also the former step-father of Josh Lucas (Paul Rudd).Though he is none too pleased with some of his daughter’s outfits, he is proud of Cher’s unconventional academic achievements, and her striving to be a better person.

Mel also encourages Josh in his professional future as an environmental lawyer by inviting him to join him on work related projects when additional hands are needed. He also lets Cher get involved, but he gets frustrated by her inability to follow directions.

To sum it up: Mel is no different than any father. He wants the best for his daughter, but he gets aggravated by some of her actions, which to be perfectly frank, are normal for her age. Though he is far from the main character, he is not as clueless (get it?;)) as other parents in the genre.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

P.S. As New York accents go, his is old school in the best way possible.

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Filed under Books, Character Review, Emma, Jane Austen, New York City