I’m Ok With Cameras Being Installed in the NYC Subway System

Among the many concerns of those of us who ride the NYC subways, safety is at or near the top.

Last week, it was announced that every car in the system will have cameras installed in them by 2025. I’m ok with that.

I understand the arguments about big brother and the long list of fixes that need to be made to the system. However, when riders feel that they can get where they need to go without being assaulted, that can go a long way in bringing back people who are afraid of getting on the train.

About a year and a half ago, I was attacked by someone who clearly had issues. I won’t go into details, but I will say that it left an emotional scar that still exists to this day. I’m ok now, but the memory is burned into my brain. I later saw a story on the news that he went after an elderly couple not far from where he went after me. I don’t know or remember if the police ever caught him. But if the camera had been there, perhaps that couple would have gotten to their destination unmolested.

The only problem is that the cameras will not be live, which I think is a mistake.

There are things in our day-to-day experience that are necessary, as much as we dislike them. One of these things is these cameras, which may end up saving someone’s life or catch a potential criminal before they end up doing greater damage.

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DeSantis and Abbott Should be Charged With Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is both a crime against humanity and a crime in the United States. At the same time, it is not against the law to ask for asylum in this nation. Immigration has been the backbone of this country since its founding. And yet, there are some who want to restrict who can enter the US.

Over the last few weeks, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Texas Governor Greg Abbott have been using tax dollars to ship South American migrants to blue states. Not knowing where they were going, they were expecting that jobs were waiting for them when they reached their final destination. Instead, the locations they arrived in (New York City for the migrants sent from Texas and Martha’s Vineyard for the migrants sent from Florida), the local officials were not aware or prepared for the new arrivals. As of this past weekend, NYC is looking at the possibility of taking legal action against Abbott.

This goes back to what we all know. Serious reform of our immigration policy is necessary. The most recent change was a decade ago with DACA. While DACA was a huge step forward, it does not solve the overall issue. The problem is made worse by our current political climate, which has at best led to mostly partisan legislation and at worst, created a deadlock that cannot be overcome.

I think the answer to the question should be yes. They have broken the law and like anyone who has been accused of a crime, should have their day in court. But only time will tell if this comes to pass.

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P.S.: A woman who was among the over 10,000 migrants bused from Texas to New York killed herself on Monday. Abbott has blood on his hands.

Best Restaurants in New York City, Part II

We all need to eat, that is a fact. But that does not mean our choices have to be limited. In New York City, the possibilities of where to eat are endless.

Burger/Fast Food Restaurants

Schnipper’s

With two locations in Manhattan (Times Square and Midtown East), this restaurant does not disappoint. Though it is fast food, it does not leave you with the cheap, empty calories feeling. The menu is much more than burgers and fries, allowing almost anyone to find something to eat.

Roll n Roaster

Located in the South Brooklyn neighborhood of Sheepshead Bay, Roll n Roaster has been around for fifty years. Famous for its roast beef sandwiches, the menu is fast food in the best sense of the word. There is an old-school feeling to the building that makes you feel like you have gone back in time. It’s a bit of a hike from the city, but the trip is definitely worth it.

Dessert

Lady M

Lady M is a semi-national chain with three different locations in Manhattan. The variety of crepe cakes is enough to make one’s mouth water and force a difficult decision to be made. Regardless of whether you purchase a slice as a special treat or a whole cake for a special occasion, it is worth every bite.

Ample Hills Creamery

Ice cream is one of those types of foods that can be as simple or as complicated as we want it to be. Ample Hills Creamery is one of the most respected ice cream stores in the city. It has 10 scoop shops in three different boroughs (Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens) and sells their products to take home in a handful of retail stores. The variation in flavors is ridiculous in the best way possible.

Gluten-Free

Friedman’s Restaurant

Friedman’s Restaurant with its six locations across Manhattan is a diner, but the food and the experience are a notch above the average diner. There is a level of creativity to the dishes that make this restaurant stand out. What I personally love about Friedman’s Restaurant is that they offer gluten-free options. I’m not on a gluten-free diet, but a good friend of mine is. She was more than pleased with her meal. It’s a perfect place to go for brunch, a pre-theater meal, or just a good cup of coffee.

Tea Time

Alice’s Tea Cup

There is no better break from a busy day (at least in my mind) than a cup of tea and a delicious scone. Alice’s Tea Cup has two restaurants and one to-go location in upper Manhattan. With an Alice in Wonderland theme, the atmosphere is cozy and the food is yummy. Though they can be a bit busy at times, the experience is worth waiting for. Whether you go in for a full meal or just tea and a piece of cake, you will walk out satisfied

Kosher/Kosher Style Deli

2nd Ave Deli

The New York City restaurant scene used to be dotted with kosher/kosher-style delis. While many have gone the way of the dodo, a few remain. Among these is 2nd Ave Deli. There are two locations: Midtown East and Upper East Side. Whichever one you choose, I can guarantee that you won’t be disappointed. The sandwiches alone are a meal unto themselves. They also cater for large events and for Passover. Anyone who has prepared for a Passover Seder knows how much it helps to have some of the food made by a professional.

Ben’s Kosher Deli, Restaurant, and Caterers

This restaurant and its six locations (most of which are either in or close to NYC) is one of my family’s favorite places to eat. I have yet to walk out as an unhappy customer. Both the sandwiches and the potato pancakes are huge. Depending on when you go, there is a line out of the door and very few tables available. Trust me when I say that it is not uncommon to walk out with leftovers or takeout.

Traditional Ukrainian Food

Ukrainian East Village Restaurant

There is something about traditional food of every kind that makes you feel happy. When it’s made right, it feels like it is straight coming out of a mother or grandmother’s kitchen. I came here for dinner with friends a few months ago and was a happy camper. My favorite part of the meal was the pierogies. They offer several kinds and each is delicious. Given what is happening in the world, I felt like I was in a small way, contributing to helping the people who make this food be seen and heard for more than the headlines.

Veselka

Located in the Ukrainian heart of the East Village, Veselka’s two restaurants are a favorite of locals. For me, it is a reminder that this country and the city have been built and maintained by immigrants. It is those unique flavors and meals that have kept the seats filled for years. I cannot think of a time that I have gone to Veselka that I have not walked out feeling satisfied.

Readers, what do you think? Do you have a favorite among them?

Meant to Be Mine: A Novel Book Review

Prophecy is a funny thing. Though it may appear that our fate is set in stone, there is hopefully an opportunity to take control of our destiny.

Meant to Be Mine: A Novel, by Hannah Orenstein, was published last month. Edie Meyer is a twenty-something New Yorker whose grandmother has predicted the romantic future of her family for decades. Upon reaching a certain age, Grandma Gloria has informed each individual as to when they will meet their significant other.

Edie’s date is coming up fast. That morning, she is scheduled to be on a flight for her twin sister’s surprise engagement. It seems that Grandma was right when a handsome musician sits down next to her. Though it seems that he is her person, there are some questions that Edie cannot get out of her head. When a revelation shakes her to her core, she must choose between fate taking control or opening the door to someone completely unexpected.

I enjoyed this book. Edie is the type of protagonist we can all fall in love with. Though she does want love, it is not the defining characteristic of her narrative. I love her humanity, I loved her very unique family, and I wish that everyone would have a grandparent like Grandma Gloria. At the age of 90, she has more energy and chutzpah than others who are decades younger.

What clinched me was the pride in Edie’s Jewish identity. Though her family is far from Orthodox, they do not hide who they are or put up a false front in the name of fitting in.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Meant to be Mine: A Novel is available wherever books are sold.

Flashback Friday: One Fine Day (1996)

Life is hectic. We all have jobs, maybe kids, etc. Some days it feels like we blink and the day is over before we know it.

The 1996 romantic comedy One Fine Day introduces the audience to Melanie Parker (Michelle Pfeiffer) and Jack Taylor (George Clooney). To say that Melanie and Jack have a lot on their respective plates is an understatement. In addition to their busy careers, they are both divorced with young children. Jack’s daughter, Maggie (Mae Whitman) has a penchant for wandering away from the adults who are responsible for looking after her. Melanie’s son Sammy (Alex D. Linz) likes to put things up his nose.

One busy day in New York City will bring Melanie and Jack together in ways that they never expected and force them to see someone they might have missed entirely.

As rom-coms go, this one is not bad. It’s got all of the narrative elements of the genre, but is not entirely predictable or boring. Clooney and Pfeiffer have reasonable chemistry. What makes the film for me is the daily chaos that comes with being a single parent and having to balance a job with raising your child.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

The Best Places to Eat in New York City

It has been said that New York City is foodie heaven. Whatever you are craving, there is always a restaurant to satiate the appetite. When you’re coming from out of town, the obvious places to eat are the national chains that everyone knows. There is nothing wrong with that, but when you are in the greatest city in the world, why not try something new?

L&B Spumoni Gardens

Located in the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Bensonhurst and Dumbo, this old-school Italian restaurant is a local favorite. Every dish is delicious and the portions are huge. I have rarely left this place without a doggie bag and a full stomach. If you’re not going to stay for a traditional entree, at least try the pizza. I guarantee you’ll love it.

Max Brenner

If you’re a chocoholic, you’re going to love this place. Walking into the Union Square restaurant is akin to walking into chocolate heaven. Whether you are there for a meal, dessert, or just a sweet treat, it is the perfect break from a busy day. There are also two other locations: a retail store in Times Square and a sister restaurant in Philadelphia.

Coney’s Cones

Summer is nothing without ice cream. Located on the Coney Island Boardwalk, Coney’s Cones sells the most delicious, creamy, melt-in-your-mouth gelato. Selling half a dozen flavors, the choices are as simple as a scoop in a cone or a cup or as complicated as a full-on dessert. This is one of my personal go-to places on the boardwalk.

Buddha Bodai

NYC is if nothing else, a city of immigrants. This often leads to a melding of dishes that otherwise, would not exist. Located in Chinatown, Buddha Bodai’s dishes are based on traditional Chinese food that is also kosher and vegetarian. I have never been in there when it is not packed or at least partially full. The food is mouthwatering, filling, and has a wide appeal.

Junior’s Cheesecake

Every culture and every city has certain fare that it is known for. One of the dishes that New York City is known for is cheesecake. There is one restaurant that makes the best cheesecake in the city, Junior’s Cheesecake. It has both retail and restaurant locations. All but one is in the city. It is perfect for a meal, a post-theater snack, or just because.

Readers, what do you think? Do you have any other recommendations to add to this list?

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Out of the Corner: A Memoir Book Review

From an audience perspective, it would appear that both starring in a blockbuster movie and coming from a respected performing family guarantees success in Hollywood. Anyone who knows the truth would say otherwise.

Out of the Corner: A Memoir, by Dirty Dancing actress Jennifer Grey, was published last month. Grey is Jewish acting royalty. Her paternal grandfather, Mickey Katz was one of the most famous comedians and musicians of his day. Her parents, Joel Grey (of Cabaret fame)and Jo Wilder followed in her grandfather’s footsteps. Raised in both New York City and Los Angeles, she rose to fame in Dirty Dancing, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and other 1980s classics.

The reader is taken on an emotional journey through her early years, the ups and downs of her personal and private life, and finally, her finding peace with her identity.

This book is amazing. Grey’s tale is emotional, human, honest, and goes straight to the heart. She leaves no stone unturned, revealing her flaws, her mistakes, and the various heartaches that came her way. Within the narrative, there were two stories that stood out. The first was her father publicly coming out almost a decade ago after spending a lifetime in the closet. The second is her wish to speak to co-star Patrick Swayze one last time. It is a heartfelt wish that I think that anyone who has lost a loved one will understand.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was on a “best of” list come the end of the year. It is one of my favorite books of 2022.

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If the Shoe Fits (Meant to Be Series) Book Review

At its heart, Cinderella is the story of finding the good in life and rising about the shit that fate has sent our way.

If the Shoe Fits (Meant to Be Series), by Julie Murphy, was published last year. Cindy Woods is a plus-sized recent college graduate. After spending the last four years in New York City, her career path is stuck in first gear. With no other options, she returns to Los Angeles and her childhood home. She is welcomed with open arms by her stepmother, Erica Tremaine, and her stepsisters.

Cindy is a fashion fanatic. Due to her size, finding the latest and greatest clothing that fits her has always been a problem. When Erica’s Cinderella‘s themed reality dating show, Before Midnight (a la The Bachelor), is down a contestant, Cindy agrees to step in. It was supposed to be a way of getting her designs noticed. It also doesn’t hurt that the guy at the center of the program is good-looking.

Instead of quietly staying in the background, Cindy becomes a fan favorite. She also starts to fall for the guy. She will have to take a jump into the unknown, not knowing if it will end in heartbreak or a happy ending.

I loved this book. Murphy pays homage to the 1950 animated Disney film while writing her own story. In another narrative, Cindy would either have to lose weight to achieve her goals or be forced into the fat and funny sister/best friend role. The cherry on top for me is that Cindy is not looking for a man, her priority is her professional future.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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Macbeth Broadway Play Review

Macbeth is a story of power, bloodlust, and the moral boundaries that will be crossed to remain in power.

The new revival of the infamous Shakespeare play opened on April 28th at the Longacre Theatre in New York City. Starring Daniel Craig as the titular character and Ruth Negga as Lady Macbeth, these two have one goal: the crown. They are not above shedding a little blood to both get to the throne and stay on the throne. As the bodies hit the floor, guilt begins to seep in, forcing the main character to question their actions.

This adaptation is not for the faint of heart, or for the Shakespeare purist. That being said, it is very well done. Set against a spare backdrop with color and gender-neutral actors wearing modern clothing, the story is as influential and potent as it ever has been. It speaks to the dark side of human nature and its consequences.

Among the lead actors, Negga’s performance stands out. Her Lady Macbeth is a woman who has the same ambitions as her husband. But because she is a woman, those ambitions must be hidden behind what is “appropriate” for a female.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Macbeth is playing at the Longacre Theater in New York City until July 10th, 2022. Check the website for tickets and showtimes.

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Laura & Emma Book Review

The relationship between a mother and daughter can be both complicated and interesting.

Laura & Emma, by Kate Greathead, was published in 2019.

In the early 1980s in New York City, Laura has just entered her 30s without much of a plan. The daughter of an old-money, blue blood family, she has a one-night stand. The man whom she slept with has vanished and has left Laura with a parting gift: a child. Instead of ending the pregnancy or giving the baby up for adoption, she decides to raise her daughter as a single parent.

Taking place over a period of 15 years, the book explores the changing dynamic between the characters as they both age and deal with what life throws at them.

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The best way to describe the book is a sort of Gilmore Girls-ish narrative that is set in NYC instead of small-town Connecticut. The best part of the story was the relationship between the main characters. I was able to feel the feels between Laura and Emma.

Overall, it was an ok read. I wasn’t completely underwhelmed, but I came pretty close. What got me was the ending. I did not understand it at all.

Do I recommend it? Maybe

Laura & Emma are available wherever books are sold.

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