10 Year Reunion

It was a gathering of minds I had not felt in ages.

Years, ages, times were long forgotten in the ignorance of youth.

Today we stood, sat, and spoke like men, proud reflections of our inner selves.

And what did we talk about in the wake of their shadows?

The same old things we kept so close between ourselves.

Two became musicians, one a bachelor savant, another a lawyer;

I looked at the records and we spoke about our lessons learned so far.

The electronic artist played his beats through the area speakers,

entertaining us all with his natural and original material.

The original beat boxers began flowing anew, ten years long, ten years strong.

How A Capricorn Felt Last Weekend

Last weekend, I was feeling especially down. I still do (sort of) – it’s only Monday. I feel like I got something done today (ran a 5K around Somerville, cooked lunch for the next couple days), despite this awkward feeling of procrastination inside. Today, of all days, I decided to check my horoscope.

Things should be flowing quite well for you today, Capricorn. Take this opportunity and use the energy to its full potential. Center yourself and look at the weeks ahead. Where do you want to be in two months? Where do you want to be in two years? Now is the time to take stock of what you’ve got and plan for future growth. You have a great deal going for you, so don’t waste your time on frivolity.
www.horoscope.com – July 26th, 2010

And I did. I spent the next thirty some-odd minutes thinking about it all. I cut through all the crap in my head and came up with some clear visions of myself in the now and in the near future. I pictured my current living situation, grim and dire in the eyes of Laura and Zach, impatient and anxious with Noah. I balanced my checkbook, and made plans to invest money wisely. I had so much to work with from square one, being tomorrow.

And then I looked at Sunday’s horoscope, and lost control of it all.

It’s OK to change your opinion, Capricorn. You may pride yourself on being the solid one who always has an answer or knows exactly where to go. You may look upon others as flaky, indecisive, or fickle. It’s important that you not shut down your thinking after making a decision about something. Keep your mind open to changes that occur around you and maybe you’ll have a change of heart.
www.horoscope.com – July 25th, 2010

I was invited to a Big 25 party at Lansdowne Pub in Fenway Friday, and I didn’t go. I was so knocked out from the night before (Thursday was when it all began), and in the end all I wanted was to go to sleep. When I make points to do something and not follow through with them, I feel guilt and regret.

I shouldn’t feel bad. I should stand tall as I look forward. We must all change our footing (from time to time) when climbing the great mountain of life. Friends will always be there to cheer you on.

Central Park South & 5th – Chapter 4

Central Park South & 5th
Chapter Four – Respect Reflected

My cab ride to Bowery Bar on 40 East 4th Street would have been a lot faster if the cab driver knew where he was going, but thankfully for me, I was the first to arrive. I thought I was late since we shot for 11:00pm; the bar did not have a lot of patrons because it was raining outside. I walked in, bought a drink, and sat down in the lounge area past the bar to dry off.

He must have been drinking with his friends, because when Petar walked through the door, he was extremely festive. He was also very wet.

“Zucker, so good to see you!” He had the biggest smile I had ever seen. He walked with his fiancé alongside, followed by three guys speaking another language, possibly Croatian, laughing at something while another was upset. “Were you waiting long?”

“No, only a couple of minutes. I got a whiskey sour and was checking out the scene.” I was also checking out the more provocative side of Bowery Bar’s ‘Naked’ New Year party promo. A nice lined halftone pattern filtered through the image on recycled cardboard paper. It acted double as a coaster.

“Ah, yes, my kind of drink,” said one of his friends in broken English.

“Zucker, these are my friends…”

“Nice to meet you guys.” Their looks were welcoming and friendly, and yet their names escape me upon hearing them.

“And this is Irena, my fiancé.”

“It’s so nice to meet you.”

“Hi, I’m sorry we’re late,” she said it with a cool and casual voice. I expected her to have an accent, but she didn’t.

“Oh, you’re not late, it’s cool. It’s great to meet you at last. Petar’s told me a lot about you.”

She shoots Petar a look, but he cuts her off. “Not bad things, Honey. I told him you worked in Publishing.”

“I’m so glad I can finally put a face to the name.” She smiled and gave Petar and a look. He smiled back and said, “I’ve told her about you too – your writing and your magazine.” I give her an interested look.

“Yeah, I think what you’re doing is really great. Have you been writing for long time?”

“Yeah, since I was a kid.”

“What do you write about?” A lot of this was lost in the drunken happenings of the night. At this point in time, however, I felt accepted in the group. For the next hour or so, we really made the most of an empty rained-out bar garden.

Everything was great, but then the Bowery Bar closed. It was 12:45am, and I called “shenanigans” on the joint for not living up to New York’s “all night” nightlife. They didn’t understand, but agreed that we should move on. I didn’t feel as drunk as everyone else, maybe; there was no stumbling into the cab and no head-hanging on the windowsill.

Seven bucks took us to La Esquina, a reclusive hot spot on 106 Kenmare Street in Soho.

La Esquina is a taqueria that runs all night, offering up delicious tacos and tasty beers and spirits for parties to go the extra step. Doubling as a pick-up food stop for late-nighters on the front, patrons can also walk inside, downstairs past the ‘employees only’ sign, and through the kitchen to a cozy bistro lounge, aptly filled with hipsters and couples who know about the “other part” of La Esquina.

When we got there, there was a group of people waiting for them. They all spoke in accents, and picked out friends immediately upon our arrival, talking in Italian, French, and Croatian amidst English, the language of choice for international translation. I felt like an mono-lingual jackass half-following the English parts to conversations around me, drinking extremely good beer offerings, trying to collect my thoughts in a strange new place and time.

“Let’s take a picture!” Petar had the camera in his hand, standing with Irena at his side. “Zucker, can you take this?”

“Yeah buddy.” I was standing back about five feet at this point. Aiming the camera at them, drunk, I move around to crop the picture. Click! And I capture the two of them. It was like capturing a special moment for them, together, when they were so young and happy. It may be a picture they come back to years from now and smile at in reflection.

“Yeah, that’s a great shot. Check it out.” And I hand them back the camera. They look at it and smile together.

“Thank you,” she said. Petar and I exchange a look of respect and appreciation.

“You’re welcome.” I smiled at them both, happy and relieved that they saw what I saw. I kept on drinking, and I half-connected with the other group we joined.

“I’m a graphic designer,” said this Italian guy who wore big designer glasses next to me, and we started talking about art design. I thought about how difficult it must be for him to see right now with those glasses on. I mentioned my magazine idea, and he liked it. He talked about the work he put up at his college’s gallery recently. I think he went to Pratt, but I wasn’t sure. I talked about the Picasso exhibit I saw in Chelsea a few months back, and how that exhibit was the first of its kind in over fifteen years. We talked about the thought of living in New York, the costs, and the benefits. He was not interested in it.

It was 3:00am, and the group decided to leave for another bar. Some of the new group came with us.

After deliberation and twelve bucks, the group decided on some random bar in Little Italy, and it was just about to call the last round. We walked in and ordered a quick double order of drinks and had introspective conversations with one another as we downed our drinks. At this point, the Croatians were buying me drinks. Neno, one of Petar’s friends, had left his luggage in the taxi he took to the Bowery Bar. Things did not go over well for him; talking to his friends and me about the things he lost, calling the taxi company for lost and found updates, cancelling his cards and such. We bought him drinks that night too since he didn’t have his wallet. He had his passport, thankfully, safely tucked in his back pocket, along with around $200 bucks. Who keeps that kind of cash in their pocket?

“Neno, there is some good to all this situation,” I actually tried consoling him when we were in this last bar, “you’ll get to go shopping!” By that point, nobody cared about anything, and yet he smiled and lifted his spirits. The Italian and his friend listened to us talk, and two of Petar’s friends were chatting up the female bartender, who apparently was from Boston. Petar and Irena were outside with another friend who was smoking a cigarette.

It was raining outside. I joined them to see what was going on.

“I think we’re going to get out of here soon,” said Irena. She was holding Petar, who seemed too drunk to stand. He was still smiling, like a child enjoying the party, and he was getting wet in the rain.

“It was so good to see you Zucker, I’m glad we got to hang out.”

“Yeah man, me too, and in New York of all places!”

“This would make a good story, right?”

“Yeah man, this would make a great story.”

“Yeah,” he looked away with satisfaction. Irena was holding him up as they looked for approaching cabs, and I smiled at her holding him around the waist with his arm around her shoulders. He was bigger than her, but she could handle him. They looked like a great couple.

“I’ll be right back,” I said, and I go back inside, telling the others that people were leaving. I chug my beers and say my goodbyes. They all followed me out though, so everyone began hailing cabs. People in the bar get the message, and in no time, the street was mobbed with people looking to get a ride home. Watching them drift into the night, people dispersed on foot and wheel , and I watched as my friends from the night got in cab after cab.

“Where are you heading to?”

“Central Park South and 5th.”

“Cool, what’s there?”

“The Plaza.”

“Wow, you’re staying the Plaza?

“Yeah, it’s pretty great.” I left it at that. I felt like I mentioned it earlier in the night, but I can’t remember. It’s really hard to explain the extravagance of it all at 4:00am.

“Unfortunately, it’s in the opposite direction to where we’re heading. Are you cool with taking a separate cab?”

“Yeah, I’ll be alright.” They were relieved I had a way home.

“It was great to meet you again.”

“You too.” The doors closed and they sped off into the night; their fluorescent tail lights streaming distance in the darkened streets. The rain was still coming down, and no more cabs were in the area. I found myself alone on the end of a sidewalk between a closed bar and a pizza parlor packed with late night drunks. I couldn’t help but go in and buy some pizza.

“One slice of pepperoni and one slice of bacon chicken, please.”

“You got it.” It was like a factory line, always moving, slowly and surely, looking at all the colorful slices they had. While they had ten offerings on display, I chose my two favorite. I didn’t think when I bought them. They were huge slices, and I was in no shape to eat them both. They had Kiss on the radio, and people slurped away at their soda cups, talking and laughing about things they talked and laughed about in the bars. It was a quiet moment for me, observing the people, trying not to draw attention to my solitary silence.

The pizza was hot and ready and by fortune the cabs were around and vacant. It was a twenty dollar cab ride back to the Plaza, a blurry tour of Times Square and Central Park. I looked out the window with pizza in my mouth as people tried to open my cab thinking it was vacant. Some people were really pissed off that I was relishing the experience so much.

I ended up finishing the slices in the hotel, in one of the comfy lounge chairs that sat at the foot of the bed, next to a small nightstand that had the New York Times and my brother’s Nikon D700 camera laying on it. My brother was sleeping, but woke up when I got back. Our vibrations nearing 5:00am were faint, and yet it did not stop the sky from changing its color from black to blue. I closed the blinds and hopped into bed, falling into a deep, drunken sleep within minutes of the rising sun.

Waking up five or six hours later, I had a light breakfast with my family and packed up my things. I had a train to catch at 1:15pm, and that left me mere hours to clean up and enjoy the remaining time there with my family. They drove me to Penn Station and gave me some money for the Acela Express ticket ($100), wishing me the best on my way back home. I spent the remaining free time I had in the waiting area with a copy of the Sunday New York Times, reading the Book Review, brushing up on styles of writing that were capturing people’s attention. Twenty minutes would go by before I made my way down to the train, back to my everyday life in Boston.

Central Park South & 5th – Chapter 1

Central Park South & 5th
Chapter One – Family Matters


I just got off the phone with my parents…

A funny thing happened to me just now. I was opening up my bottle of wine for the week, packed my bowl full and drank a big gulp. The air had just left my body as the taste was recognized, and then my phone rings.

Mom Cell – apprehension does not overcome me like it does at other times. I reach for my phone with a confidence in cohesion. I can talk to them right now. I’m not too far gone…

‘Hey, Alex!’ My mother’s distinctive greeting welcomes me again, and a sigh of comfort is exhumed.
“Hey Mom, how you doing?”

‘I’m good. I just got back home. I ended up going for a walk with Lynn when the weather got better today.’ She was thinking of coming into Boston with Lynn to window shop and walk around, but the weather turned foul and rained out the plan.

We talked on. My cognition and flow were still quite able, despite a definite shot to the brain. She wanted to talk about her recent walk with Lynn, and confided in me about the conversation they had about Nick, her son and close friend of mine.

Nick has been a fitness enthusiast for a long time. He has a high metabolism. He surfs, and yeah, and he plays a mean game of golf. All things considered, his family is closer to him than anyone, and for them to feel concerned about his health over this lifestyle brings immediate concern to my folks and I. It was only natural she’d want to tell me about the discussion. She thought Nick was a completely different person since she last saw him, two years earlier.

‘It seems extreme,’ my mother went on to say, ‘it is possible for a fitness routine to be unhealthy… it shows in his face.’ She would say something like that, and it would always be true. Our face is our mirror, for good and for worse. If something is wrong, we show it in our eyes, and our smiles. We smell when we’re stressed, and glow when we’re happy. Our body language is everything, but I digress…

By the end of that conversation, my mother handed the phone off to my dad. Talking with him is just as easy, as long as the conversations are mutually understood.

‘Heya, Alex.’
“Heya Dad, how you doing?”
‘I’m doing alright. You?’
“I’m good, I just got back from the gym.”
‘Good for you, Alex.’ Sincerity assured. ‘I won’t ask you all the same questions as mom, but how was your trip home?’ I took a trip back to Boston from New York after spending a weekend with them and my brother at the Plaza Hotel. It was their 30th wedding anniversary.

“It was alright, as much as you could expect on a busy travel day.” I told him more. I told him about the little British girl who couldn’t stop talking in the seats across from mine. All the way to Boston. It was quite and experience, and the group I sat with showed signs of understanding and relief when she walked off to sit with her dad in another car.

‘I just wanted to say thanks for coming out there with us, and for being a part of something this special.’ We both expressed our gratitude to one another for being there in New York on such an important milestone.

“Ah, Dad, I wouldn’t miss something like that. I mean, come on, The Plaza! Thank you for putting that all together, it was such a wonderful experience! You certainly know how to treat us well.”

‘This is true!’ I think he had been waiting for someone to say that for a long time. ‘And I like to treat you guys well, so hopefully there’s more to come as time goes on.’

“I’m looking forward to it.” A moment of comfortable silence hangs over the phone.

‘Well, I’ll let you go, you just got back.’

“Thanks, it was great talking to you.”

‘You too, my boy. Have a goodnight.’
*Goodnight!* I hear my mother yell in the distance as I ready to say it. I laugh into the phone.

“Ah, goodnight you guys! I love you.”

‘Love you too, Alex. Bye.’


The conversation lasted thirteen minutes, and following the conversation, things had gone their course. The flow of blood to my brain caused a euphoric chain reaction. I saw read vibrations as I sat and laid back on my bed, staring up at an abstract painting of an apple tree; oil on canvas by a college friend’s sister. I felt something in those vibrating apples. It was love. I felt love for my family emanating from its root and its marrow. It’s a feeling I know so well, and cherish now even more, like the fine wines we all imbibe. Age defines quality. The quality of my love for my family has matured and grown stronger, stronger than the days of my childhood when bed-time was fixed and allowances were given. Now is the time when I give my love back to them, and remind them of how much they mean to me.

In a phone conversation like this, the simplest of talks can bring overpowering love and compassion. I feel like the luckiest guy in the world.

And then there was New York…