Showing posts with label New York. Show all posts
Showing posts with label New York. Show all posts

Thursday, November 1

As American as Baseball and Apple Pie

The Giants throw their weight around against the
Detroit Tigers in America's playoffs:  'The World Series'
Back home in Detroit, I had the privilege of seeing the entire city all geared up for Baseball's greatest faceoff:  The World Series.  After growing up with a whole lot of 'winning' teams from the Detroit area, I was thrilled after all this time to see our guys step up to the plate, in more ways than one.  But, one look at the lineup and I couldn't help but think how baseball is truly, the all-American sport.  First, it's the title:  World Series, being played out across these United States.  With few exceptions, even the players come from as far afield as Puerto Rico.  The arrogance.  There are excellent teams in Japan, of course, and I've met many a ball player in Parma; So what's preventing them from either a) making a true 'world series' or b) changing the name.
Next, were the "athletes" (term used as loosely as the outfits that need to fit around their ever-expanding waist lines).  It may be that baseball is losing its standing as far as competitive sports are concerned due to the fact that it's akin to watching sumo wrestlers in funny tights ply their trade.  Or then again, it's the ideal sport for the couch potato:  You, too, can eat bags of chips and down 6 packs of brew and make it to the big leagues!  It's the beer drinker form of American Idol - people practice eating and adjusting their balls in front of the mirror, then spit a few times while squinting into the sun--they may, just maybe, have what it takes.
Seeing these guys up to bat, it was an American dream come true: eat all you want, you don't need to even run to first, we'll just see if you can knock the ball out of the field.  Heck, if your knees feel like they can't hold up your girth, we'll do like we did in little league softball and give you a runner to make their way around the bases for you.  I don't recall body mass making it's way into the Moneyball calculations.  No wonder Boston hasn't made the grade.  They forgot to figure in that the team members were on the New York Policeman diet.  New York's finest couldn't catch a thief if they had to run after one, but they're not paid to do that anyway.  And just like their boys in blue, these guys couldn't catch a ball and make a play if they were paid -- oh. except they're paid millions to do just that.  Like much of America, it's a sport that still thinks it's great, even though it's lost it's footing and is drowning in the gluttony of its ways.  

Sunday, September 25

Back to School

A friend in the USA recently sent me some pictures of her little 5 yr old's departure to his first day of school.  He didn't want to leave home, but there he was, at the end of the driveway, drying his tears...before long he would be a pro at taking the school bus to & from home.  What?!  Taking the bus?!  Did I hear that correctly?
I knew then and there I'd been in Europe too long.  I distinctly recall that parents tend to take their kids to school and pick them up again until they can do trigonometry!  And, on top of that, with the mammas - and sometimes more often the babysitters - dragging their backpacks for them.  Not to mention that in Europe, school starts at 6 to boot.
Granted, my friend no longer lived in New York City where I'm quite certain parents still drop off the kids at the playground.  A friend who lives outside Rome told me there are no school buses --- so the kids either have to take regular city transportation or get toted around by their live-in drivers.
In Switzerland, the public schools are positioned so close to every single neighborhood, no child need walk more than 5 blocks to get there.  And even then, parents often are the official escorts, although they sometimes work in a Pedi-Bus where the kids form a sort of human chain to walk the 3 blocks to the school yard, of course, manned by a parent or two.  Über-efficient Switzerland does have its drawbacks as another friend posted on Facebook, why does school have to start at 8:40???
As for my friend, I was still aghast that parents didn't accompany the kid on the first day of class...She said it was actually discouraged, because then you get the cling-ons and all the rest.  She then reminded me that he did have, in fact, his big sister on the bus with him -- But then again, when she first started school she made it in all on her own, and she hadn't even turned five yet--

How was your first day of school?  Your kids'?  When kids in Europe don't start driving until 18, are we just part of a long tradition of dependency?  Where does it start?  And, perhaps more importantly, where does it end?  
For one Italian family, they've gone to the courts to get their 41 yr old out of the house.  (click here for the link)  [Although they shouldn't hold their breath on this option-the courts have consistently sided with the 48 yr old kiddies-you can see some articles on this in my Notizie column on the right hand side].

Sunday, June 5

Pizza Italiana -vs- New York Pies

Comedian Jon Stewart killed the other night when dissing 'The Donald' for his New York Pizza-eating etiquette...Viewers got a quick & dirty 'user's guide to pizza eating in Manhattan', with an extra topping treat of his short list of the best pizza establishments New York City has to offer, although, I'd go one more:  Artichoke - just under the hi-line at 14th & 10th Ave - pictured here.  Buonissimo.

But what Jon doesn't know are few facts about true pizza eating in its birthplace.   Visitors to Italy are always a bit stunned when ordering their first 'pie' - they get to eat the whole thing!  That's because, they'll soon find a pizza crust so thin (yet so totally deliziosa) you would not be faulted for thinking they had simply forgot it altogether.  [Of course, in Naples you can still find the thick-crusted as well]  But the most important trait?  Look around you - everyone's eating it - with a knife and fork!

One other surprise?  In Italy, you'll be hard-pressed to find Italian pizza-makers (although I must admit, my local trattoria still has the real McCoy - or maybe, Maccari, as the case may be...).  Like the chain in The Daily Show video, many pies are being made by Albanians - but it's the Egyptians spinning your dough by those brick ovens who are the upper crust when it comes to dishing the pies...

And, if you want a nice review on the Home of Pizza - Napoli-style, check out Carbonara's terrific posting of the pizza experience! (click here)

Sunday, November 22

Coming to America

Anyone who says New Yorkers are rude, has clearly never set foot in Milan. From the Customs Officials chirping, well, okay, grunting, ‘Welcome Back Home’ right down to Merl the cool bus driver telling me that “If any other driver tells you you can’t bring the pup, you tell him, ‘Merl said to take good care of me’”, the bon amie has been baffling. And that’s without anyone actually seeing Trevor – America is an extremely dog un-user-friendly place -- who could melt the frigid heart of Torinese widow in about 12 seconds flat.

At Newark Airport -- a place so completely comfy it feels like Milan’s Linate or London’s City Airport – even though it’s three times the size -- I found myself being escorted to the holding pen at immigration. Although I’m an American citizen, I’m on a delinquent list for having had 3 passports stolen when traveling/living in Europe. Combined with my two year hiatus, they wanted to just make sure it was me trying to break the border.

Traveler’s Advisory: Always take the U.S. Embassy recommendations, and leave your passport at the hotel and carry a photocopy. Yes, the cops might get mad, but you won’t end up on the eternal roll of the delinquency list.

At Ground Transportation I felt I had walked into the control tower for JFK. Debra the Manager was handling three customers, two staff and three telephones – not one her own cellphone. “Where you goin’”? She’s calling up the companies for me, negotiating the rates…No, no, no, no, no!– hanging up. “I got $29 and they’re trying to charge you 60.” Next company, 33. “I got 29 (she pipes up, looking annoyed) – “Okay you’re good to go. This gentleman (in the red suitcoat) will be escorting you down to the Welcome Desk where your driver will meet you. Have a great time in Jersey.”

As I left the airport, my thoughts drifting to Debra perhaps telling me $60 only to split the difference with the operator…surrounded by signs reading, ‘If they ask you for a ride, You shouldn’t be taking one’, I thought, ‘No Debra, you’re not in Caltanisetta any more…’

Thursday, November 19

Nuovo Mondo

America. After a two years’ absence, I feel like so many immigrants who came before me. And, although I know the country (I’ve heard the stories from or Jon Stewart), and the language, I will be taking my impending trip with a new perspective… blogging about my experiences in the New World while I’m there…(these two months). It is not the promise of the Yankee Dollar, while my liras keep deflating...zeros added to them time again. Instead, with the strong euro, my American dream appears as a 50% off sale (when compared to European prices) and (relatively) cheap gasoline. Perhaps even 1 day dry cleaning and Tivo. And, as long as I avoid Starbucks, I might even find a bottomless cup of coffee at a local diner, but sadly, no free wireless.

While I do not carry livestock, I have little Trevor in tow, stuffed in a bag for the 16 hours (between take offs and landings) underneath my seat. I do not have to endure the trials of those immigrants stuffed in the bowels of the ships (although Trevor does), so wonderfully portrayed in the movie, Nuovo Mondo (or Golden Door - its name in English). But, traveling in ‘cattle class’ can, at times, feel much the same. Cramped conditions, no leg room, but at least treated to a movie while being served a wonderful grilled chicken dinner with a fudge brownie for dessert.

Stay tuned as I bring you my experiences in America…First stop, Newark Liberty International Airport [that would be, NEWARK LIBERTY all attached and not, Newark Airport or Liberty Airport, to use interchangeably as in the Fiumicino / Leonardo DaVinci debacle…].
Can’t wait to meet the Mother of Exiles as she greets me -- one lowly bit of 'wretched refuse' as described in Emma Lazarus’ epic poem. Of course, most of us being received only after finger-printing and taking shots of the irises of the eyes). And, while we have to claim on a form we've not been in contact with Mad Cows or various Swine (e.g. people), it still beats the health exams of Ellis Island of days of yesteryear.

"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she

with silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

* picture from NIAF - National Italian-American Foundation online banner