Tag Archives: New York City

The Room on Rue Amelie Book Review

When we make a choice, we never know what the consequences of that decision will be. We can only hope that it will turn out for the best.

In Kristin Harmel‘s 2018 book, The Room on Rue Amelie, Ruby is a young woman in the late 1930’s. Attending college in New York City, she meets and instantly falls in love with Marcel, a Frenchman from Paris. After the wedding, they move to Marcel’s hometown. At first it seems as they are in newlywedded bliss. But then World War II starts and their marriage is forever altered. The man she married and the man who stands in front of her are two different people.

After he is killed, Ruby discovers that her husband was part of the resistance. Picking up where he left off, she hides Allied soldiers who have landed in enemy territory. One of them is a RAF pilot who Ruby immediately connects with. She also takes in Charlotte, the young daughter of her Jewish neighbors who have been arrested. As the war continues on, the level of danger grows tenfold. They know they want to survive, but fate may have other plans.

I really enjoyed this book. Harmel’s story of love, resistance, fate, and hope is emotional and powerful. The relationship that kept me going was the one between Ruby and Charlotte. Their sisterly bond was the strongest among the characters, keeping them both going in a time when their circumstances could have easily broken them.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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

The Parting Glass Book Review

Within an upper-class or aristocratic household, the relationship between a member of the family and their valet or lady’s maid is a unique one. Though they are employer and employee, there is an emotional and physical bond that has the potential to go beyond the traditional bounds of the relationship.

The Parting Glass, by Gina Marie Guadagnino, was published in 2019. In the 1830s, in New York City, Mary Ballard’s job is that of lady’s maid to Charlotte Walden, one of the most sought-after young women in society. But Mary is not who she says she is. Her real name is Maire O’Farren. Maire is an Irish immigrant who was forced to leave her homeland after being caught in a compromising position. On her nights off, she frequents the unseemly parts of the city, where she gets involved with a prostitute and drinks with friends who are part of an underground society.

Maire/Mary is caught in a bind. She is in love with her mistress, who is having an affair with Maire/Mary’s brother. When the shit hits the fan, she has a choice to make, which has the potential to result in heartbreak.

Starts at 13:22

I have mixed feelings about this book. I love the concept of the narrative, blending a traditional historical novel with an LGBTQ protagonist and the reality of what it was to be an Irish immigrant during that time period. Though the middle of the story lags at moments, the ending is fantastic, and the details are nothing short of perfection.

Do I recommend it? I am leaning toward yes.

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The Vandalization of Those Synagogues in NYC Will Not Change My Faith

Hate is akin to an insidious disease. It takes over you, changing everything about your world and how you see it.

Over the weekend, four different synagogues were vandalized in the Bronx in New York City.

Whomever these people are, if they think that this act will scare me into changing my faith, they have another thing coming. I could go on, but I am going to let two wise men speak instead. Their truths are more powerful than anything I could ever write.

Pin by Cheryl Harris-dowling on Inspirational quotes | Yoda quotes, Fear  leads to anger, Fear quotes

Though I am sure that the justice system will do it’s job, it may not be enough to change the perspective of the perpetrators. I say, drop them in Auschwitz for a night. Let the spirits of those who were murdered teach the ultimate lesson.

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15 People Were Shot in NYC This Weekend

When we talk about gun control, we generally talk about mass shootings. We don’t talk about individuals were injured or killed in this same manner.

This weekend, there were 15 people shot in 14 separate incidents in New York City. It is only Sunday morning. We still have another 12 hours or so before it is over.

In my mind, there are two equally important questions in this case.
  1. Where is Mayor de Blasio? What is he doing to keep us safe? Apparently nothing. Anyone living in the city knows that this is his last term in office. But that does not mean that he can be a limp noodle and rest on his laurels. He is still in charge and can affect change. Between sharp uptick of violent crimes and the attacks on the AAPI community, it makes me wonder if my sense of safety is nothing more than one incident away from being destroyed completely.
  2. Where are these weapons coming from? Most of them do not originate within NYC borders. Due to the fact that gun control laws vary from state to state, they can be transported from another part of the country. Which is another reason why a nationally recognized standard of vetting who can own a gun is vitally important.

I wish that I lived in a city and a country in which I would not turn on the news and be told that someone else in the hospital or in the morgue because they were killed by a gun. But until we have the balls to finally do something about it, this will continue to be a regular headline.

P.S. I hope this post does not deter any future visitors from spending time here, it is merely written out of frustration.

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In Five Years Book Review

One of the most common questions that come up during an interview is following: “Where would you like to be in five years?”. Some people would answer with a general idea of where they would like to be. Others have a very specific plan and follow it through to a T.

Rebecca Serle’s book, In Five Years, was published last year. Dannie Kohan’s life is just about perfect. She is newly engaged and has just accepted her dream job at one of New York’s most prestigious law firm. Her best friend, Bella is yin to Dannie’s yang. Bella lives for the moment while Dannie thrives on order.

The night after she has achieved it all, Dannie falls asleep on the couch. When she wakes up, she is in bed with another man and is living in another apartment. Though this dream only lasts an hour, she cannot shake the the feeling that the future she is planning will not pan out as she thinks it will.

I have heard nothing but good things about this book. It is easily one of best novels I have read in a long time. I was immediately hooked. It’s sort of a romantic dramady, but it goes beyond the cookie cutter narrative and characters. I loved how real the story felt, especially when Dannie realizes that when mortals plan, the creator above laughs.

Do I recommend it?

Absolutely.

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Ask Dr. Ruth Movie Review

Though sex and sexuality is part and parcel of human nature, it is often viewed as something dangerous and wrong.

For decades, Dr. Ruth Westheimer (aka Dr. Ruth), has been America’s sex therapist. The 2019 Hulu documentary movie, Ask Dr. Ruth, tells her story. Born in 1928 to an Orthodox Jewish family in Germany, everything was normal for the first ten years of her life. When it became clear that being a Jew in Germany was dangerous, Ruth (then known by her first name, Karola) was sent to Switzerland on the Kindertransport.

At the age of 17, she emigrated to what was then British controlled Palestine (pre-Independence Israel) and joined the Haganah. Years later, she again emigrated to the United States. Living in New York City, she married, raised her two children and became the woman we know her to be today.

The thing I love about her is that at nearly 100 years old, she has the energy of a woman half her age. She represents hope, life, change, and that a woman can never be limited to what she can do because she is “female”. Her presence first on the radio and then on television, helped to open the door to long overdue conversations about sex and sexuality.

I absolutely recommend it.

Ask Dr. Ruth is available for streaming on Hulu.

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Closing NYC Public Schools Due to Covid-19: Damned if You do, Damned if You Don’t

There are some situations which come down to one phrase: damned if you do, damned if you don’t. One of these is Covid-19.

In New York City, the threshold for closing schools due to a rise in Covid-19 cases is 3%. That threshold was met this week. As of today, all public school students and teachers will switch to remote learning until the Monday after Thanksgiving. The response from students, parents, and educators was swift and furious.

I can’t disagree with their anger. Though the city has been watching the numbers with concern this week, the Covid figures coming from inside the schools system have been lower than the city overall. The announcement seemed to come out of nowhere, creating chaos and confusion. The anger also comes from the fact that some businesses are still open (at least for the time being).

This is a problem in which there are no easy answers and many opinions. There will always be someone who is unhappy with whatever path officials choose to take. What we all have to realize is that for now, this is our normal. It sucks to say the least, but until we are all vaccinated, we must the cards we are dealt.

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I Am Woman Movie Review

It’s easy to get on a soapbox and rail against whatever one feels is wrong with the world. But sometimes, it takes art and music to give that needed change life.

I Am Woman premiered last year. Starring Tilda Cobham-Hervey, Evan Peters, and Danielle Macdonald, the movie tells the story of the late singer Helen Reddy. The narrative begins in 1963. Helen (Tilda Cobham-Hervey) is a single mother with a dream of signing a recording contract. Originally from Australia, she is currently living in New York City. Making a living as a lounge singer, it looks like her dream is just that.

Her fate changes when she meets music journalist Lillian Roxon (Danielle Macdonald) and wannabe talent manager Jeff Wald (Evan Peters). Lillian inspires Helen to write her iconic song “I Am Woman“. Jeff straddles to the dual role of husband and manager.

It looks like Helen has everything she has ever wanted. But fame and the constant grind of work begins to take a toll on her private life. Jeff becomes an addict, forcing Helen to take a hard look at her life.

The thing about a movie or television biopic is that it can feel dry and predictable. The womb to tomb story arc has been done to death. But this movie is neither dry or predictable. It is entertaining, charming, and most of all inspiring. I love that the filmmakers wove in their protagonist’s story with the burgeoning second wave of feminism in the 1970’s.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

I Am Woman is streaming on Netflix.

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WFH Office on the East River is Brilliant

Before Covid-19, working from home for some of us happened only occasionally. Since March, those of us who are still employed and can work from home have adjusted to a much shorter commute.

But, there is a catch. Parents have had to balance their jobs while making sure that their children continue to receive a decent education. Which as any number of parents have attested to over the last few months, is far from easy.

The comedy group Improv Everywhere decided to do their own spin on the topic on New York City’s East River.

This is a brilliant idea. Whomever came up with it is a genius. It’s nice to know that even in these difficult times, we can still laugh and find a reason to smile.

Thanks, Improv Everywhere.

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The Debate on Thursday Did Not Change My Mind

As we get ever close the November 3rd, the question of who wins the election looms ever larger. As early voting has begun, the debate on Thursday was aimed at the voter who has not yet entered the ballot box and/or remains undecided.

I can say that as one who voted today, my mind has not changed. Though you know who made some semi-decent arguments, their power was diminished. Biden owning up to his imperfect past took some of the air out of the accusations. Unlike you know who, he is both willing and able to be a man and admit that in hindsight, some decisions were not wise.

If there was anything that stood out to me, it was the way both candidates spoke. Biden spoke to the camera and to the American people. It was not about him and what he has or has not done. It was about us and what he would do for us as President.

You know who made more than enough “I” statements. If he was not whining about the supposed mistreatment he has received, he boasted about his “accomplishments”.

The one thing that made me laugh was his comment about his “beloved” NYC. Though he left in a huff last year, he now claims that he loves the city.

My hope (and my fervent prayer) is that in January, this country starts on the path to a state of semi-normalcy. That path can only be created when Joe Biden is President.

#BidenHarris2020

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