Letitia James and Fani Willis may be the Ones Who Save Us From You Know Who

It has been said that where there is smoke, there is fire. If that is true, there has been smoke coming out of a famous NYC building owned by you know who for a very long time.

Earlier this week, New York state Attorney General Letitia “Tish” James announced that she has filed a lawsuit against he who shall not be named, and his three eldest children. In short, it claims that their namesake organization and its leadership have been committing financial fraud as a standard business model for years.

Of course, his response was a racist slur. Which we have learned over the years is par for the course.

In Georgia, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has pulled together a grand jury investigation. The purpose is to determine if he and his supporters violated state laws in an effort to overturn the results of the 2020 Presidential election.

Starts at 1:15

As pointed out in yesterday’s episode of the podcast The New Abnormal (which starts at 5:19), both James and Willis are African American women. I think it speaks to where this country is going politically. These women understand that if they don’t stand up for what is right and the rule of law, there is a chance that no one will.

The only way to shut down a bully is to beat them at their own game. The former President is a bully. Until it is made crystal clear that he and his cronies are not above the law, they will continue to act with impunity.

Not Okay Movie Review

Social media is a wonderful thing. It connects us with like-minded individuals and opens the door to meeting people that we wouldn’t meet otherwise. The problem, however, with it is that it often creates an image that may not reflect reality.

The new Hulu movie, Not Okay, takes on this concept. Danni (Zoe Deutsch) is an NYC-based wannabe writer whose romantic and social life, in addition to her career is in the toilet. Adding insult to injury, she has zero Instagram followers.

Faking a trip to Paris, she suddenly has the attention she has been wanting. That attention grows tenfold after a terrorist attack. Danni has to pretend that she survived it. Labeled a hero upon her “return” home, she becomes friends with Rowan (Mia Isaac). Rowan is a young woman who is a true survivor. While dealing with her own trauma, she is trying to create a better world. She also attracts the attention of her long-time crush, Colin (Dylan O’Brien).

The facade has to be come down eventually. When it does, the fallout is spectacular and reveals the truth of our current-day culture.

I really liked this movie. It speaks to the need for approbation via the Internet and the truth that this approval is not always real. Though it took a little too long to get to the end, it was overall, an enjoyable film. I also enjoyed Danni as a character. Though she is inherently unlikeable, I still wanted to follow her story.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Not Okay is available for steaming on Hulu.

By the Book (Meant to Be Series) Book Review

The haters to lovers trope is one that had been used many times, by many authors, in many different ways. The figurative beauty of this well-known narrative arc is its ability to be dynamic and uniquely moldable to a new perspective.

By the Book is the second book in the Meant to Be Series. Written by Jasmine Guillory and published in May, it is essentially a modern-day rom-com version of Beauty and The Beast. For the last three years, Isabelle has been working at her NYC-based publishing company, hoping to be noticed by her manager. In her mid-twenties, she is one of the few African American employees and starting to become disillusioned.

While on a work trip to California, she finally seizes upon an opportunity to get the appreciation she deserves. Beau is a well-known author who has been radio silent on the status of his manuscript. She decides to try to talk to him in person. When Isabelle finally meets Beau, she discovers that his reputation of being impersonal and hard-headed is not too far off from reality.

Getting Beau to open up is a bigger task than Isabelle initially expected it to be. But as they spend time together, both Beau and Isabelle learn that each of them is lost in their own way and may find what they are looking for in one another.

This book had me at hello. It was delicious, romantic, funny, and held me by the lapels from beginning to end. Guillory holds tight to the Disney narrative while remaking it in her own image. I loved Isabelle’s spunkiness, Intelligence, and drive. Beau, as the leading man, has his own troubles, making him relatable and enough of an asshole to challenge both the reader and his future other half.

Do I recommend it? Of course.

By the Book (Meant to Be Series) is available wherever books are sold.

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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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Things to do in NYC That are Not on the First Page of the Tourist Guide Book

Imagine the following, if you can: your coming to NYC for a vacation. You’ve consulted the various tourist guide books, but you want to see a little more of the city. You may or may not have taken the obligatory pictures at Times Square or gotten tickets to a Broadway show. As a local, trust me when I say there is much more to see and do.

  • One of my favorite things to do in the summer is to go to a Brooklyn Cyclones game in Coney Island. MCU Park is an easy walking distance from the train station. Tickets prices range anywhere from $10 to $20 a seat. Unlike the larger stadiums, every seat is a good seat. And if one is to get there early enough, there is a free goodie that corresponds with the night’s theme.
  • The Museum at Eldridge Street is both a museum and a working synagogue. Built in 1887, this absolutely beautiful building is a reminder that America is a land of immigrants. Though the original worshippers are long gone, the soul of that generation and the belief in one’s faith are part and parcel of the structure.
  • The Brooklyn Promenade is one of the most picturesque parts of the borough. On a clear day, you can see across the river to lower Manhattan and all the way to the Statue of Liberty.
  • If you’re looking for a good meal and then a walk to burn it off, head to Chelsea Piers and the Highline. Anyone who loves to eat will have a hard time choosing where to dine.
  • After spending all day inside, a day at Prospect Park and the Prospect Park Zoo in Brooklyn is the perfect antidote. The park is perfect for picnicking, taking a walk, getting some exercise, and learning about the wild world around us.
  • If you are willing to try something new, take the Q train to Emmons Avenue. Foodies will be in heaven.
  • The Morgan Library is one of my favorite museums. Originally the home of J.P. Morgan, it hosts a variety of exhibits. My favorite room is his personal library. It is a bookworm‘s wet dream.
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MCU Park

Readers, what do you think? Do you have any suggestions?

How to Save Money in NYC

We all know that NYC is an expensive place to live. As much as I love this city, I am fully aware that the cost of everything is higher. But, if you know where the look, there are ways of saving a few dollars.

  1. Take public transportation. Like anyone who lives there, I am fully aware of the downsides of using the MTA to get around. But even with those problems, there is no beating that for one fare, you can go from one end of the city to another, 24/7/365.
  2. The dollar store is your best friend. Not everything is cheaper than the big box stores, but the deals may be surprising.
  3. Not everyone can afford to live alone. Though the roommate experience is sometimes hit or miss (as I painfully remember), it is the most economical way to reside here if you cannot afford an apartment on your own.
  4. If you need furniture, there are multiple options: local stores, Craigslist, various apps, etc. If you must buy new and prefer to go to a name brand store, hit up Target or Ikea. They are a pain in the ass to put together (even if you have to pay someone), but overall, it is worth it. The pieces I bought from Ikea more than a decade ago are still in good condition.
  5. When it comes time to get a haircut, find a local salon. Their work is just as good as the expensive salons and many will throw in a free blowout. In my experience, the ones owned by AAPI owners provide a pretty good service at a price that will not break the bank.
  6. Buy in bulk, large sizes, and store brands. If you do have access to a car, stores like Sam’s Club and Costco are worth the drive and the membership fee.
  7. Take advantage of the opportunities to be outdoors. Most, if not all of the parks and beaches are free to enter.
  8. If you are a bookworm like me, I highly recommend that you take advantage of the public library. If you must buy a book, hit up a local bookstore or 2nd hand store/thrift shop. This is also good if you are looking for a gift for someone. Now granted, you might not find exactly what you are looking for. But you never know what you may find. My favorite bookstores are the Strand Bookstore in Manhattan (great for browsing), Books Are Magic in Brooklyn, and of course, Housing Works.
  9. If you have a New York State driver’s license, you can get into some museums for nothing or almost nothing.
  10. Use Yelp and Time Out. Yelp is great because the reviews come from customers. Time Out has listings for things to do that will please almost anyone.
  11. If you can, purchase your produce from a street vendor. The quality is just as good as a traditional retailer and the price is just a tad cheaper.
  12. Finally, if you want to see a Broadway show, there are ways to have this experience that will not empty your wallet. If you are willing and/or able to climb stairs, seats on the upper levels of the theaters are always cheaper. For me, it’s about the experience. I don’t mind going up a few flights. Organizations like TKTS sell tickets at discounted prices. However, not every show is listed (especially the popular shows) and the desired seats are not always available. There is also the option of going to one of the booths. The primary one is located in Times Square. Just prepared to be waiting in a very long line.
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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.

A League of Their Own Character Review: Doris Murphy

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

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the movieĀ A League of Their Own. Read at your own risk if you have not watched 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.

Every era has its own ideal of female beauty. Though the external images change, the expectations of how to be a “proper woman” remain the same. This, of course, does not include playing sports in either a formal or informal team. In A League of Their Own, Doris Murphy (Rosie O’Donnell) is far from the idealized 1940’s pinup (unlike her best friend Mae Mordabito). A resident of New York City, Doris has a zaftig figure and speaks with a stereotypical NYC accent.

Joining the AAGBPL gives her the opportunity to feel like an insider. After spending years feeling like an outsider due to her physical appearance and her love of baseball, Doris has finally found her people. She also finds the confidence to believe that she is worthy of being loved and not forced to be with someone for the sake of being with someone.

But she also has a temper. When Kit Keller (Lori Petty) has an argument with her sister Dottie Hinson (Geena Davis), Doris makes a joke at Kit’s expense, which leads to a fight that changes the course of their relationship. Doris does not just talk the talk. She walks the walk. When pushed, she is not one to be messed with.

To sum it up: Then and now, seeing women who are not a size 2 is still revolutionary. In both the character and actor looking like the average woman, it allows those of us who are not modelesque to see themselves on screen.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

The Antisemitic Graffiti at Miriam’s Restaurant Should Spur All of Us to Act

When the members of my family left Eastern Europe for America more than a century ago, they hoped that the antisemitism that forced them out of their homelands would not follow them.

They were wrong.

Last week, Miriam’s Restaurant, located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, was tagged via graffiti with the following line “Fuck Jews“.

As of Friday, the perpetrator(s) remain at large.

The message is clear. We are not welcome in New York City.

To say that I am scared shitless is an understatement. I was born and raised in NYC, as was most of my family. I shouldn’t be afraid to express who I am without fear of being attacked, but I am.
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Whoever did this wants us to be afraid. They want us to cower in the corner, watching every shadow that goes by with heart-pounding anxiety.

I have every confidence that officials will do everything in their power to find whoever did this and make them pay. I also know that I will always be proud to be Jewish, regardless of someone else’s opinion.

What I love about this city is how colorful it is. We have everyone from everywhere. Our diversity makes us beautiful and powerful. But until we face this monster head-on, it will continue to nip at our heels.

The Murder of Christina Lee Scares the Shit Out of Me

One of the rights that a woman should have is the ability to be outside after dark without fear of being attacked or killed. That right is still being fought for, even in 2022.

On Sunday, Christina Lee was heading home to her apartment in New York City‘s Chinatown. Unbeknownst to her, a man was following her. He is accused of killing her in her own home.

As of yesterday, the murder is not based on Ms. Lee’s Korean-American heritage. But that does not mean that the police will find evidence to prove otherwise.

What scares the shit out of me is that this is every woman’s worst nightmare. Ask any female and she will tell you the same story. Carry your keys in your hands, mace in your bag, be aware of your surroundings, walk-on brightly light streets with lots of other people, etc. We shouldn’t have to follow these rules, but they could mean the difference between life and death.

What is even scarier is that this is not the first time that the accused (who shall not be named here) has gone after a random stranger. Last September, he punched another man for no reason at all. According to reports, he has a history of mental illness and should not have been on the streets to begin with.

One of my concerns is that this one heinous act creates a perception of an entire community. Like millions of others around the world, I live with depression. The difference between this man and myself is that I have access to getting the help I need. I am lucky enough that I have health insurance via my job which allows me to see a therapist and take medication. Not everyone has the same opportunity. This creates a vacuum and opens the door for people like the accused to hurt and kill others.

My heart breaks for those who knew Ms. Lee. No one should know this type of grief. I can only hope that this unnecessary loss of life spurs those in power to do something (and not just throw someone in jail, which is another topic for another time).

May her memory be a blessing. Z”L.

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