New Years Eve In NYC With A Four Year Old

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New Years Eve In New York With A Four Year Old

“Everyone should have kids. They are the greatest joy in the world. But they are also terrorists. You’ll realize this as soon as they are born and they start using sleep deprivation to break you.-” Ray Romano

 I have always hated New Year’s Eve. Even when I was really young, I hated the exhaustive energy and resources spent on Dec 31. The overwhelming social pressure to go out and have the best night of your life in a skin tight, can’t breathe dress and painful heels in the freezing cold  (yes even in LA) was never my thing. 

Children are the best excuse to stay home on Dec 31. Throughout their childhood, I used my children as human shields to avoid what I considered the worst, most overpriced night of the year to go out. Therefore I jumped at the chance to babysit for my god daughter in NYC on New Years Eve. 

We were staying at the fabulous Nomad Hotel. They had a library room for guests only which served drinks and food. There was a beautiful Christmas tree in the middle. We thought that would be perfect for dinner with a four year old.  It meant getting a bit more dressed up. The four year old  was not as intimidated as I was and said her sweats would be perfect. The hotel definitely felt festive with people decked out in a lot of glitter and glam. 

The evening started in our room with caviar and champagne and a giant lollipop from our recent trip to Dylan’s Candy Store.  Dinner with kids requires a different mindset. They get bored easily and ask a lot of questions. As a god mother and no longer a real parent I downloaded some new kid apps on my Ipad and let her wear sweatpants. Dinner was easy. We shared the famous Nomad fried chicken and had ham and cheese pretzel sandwiches.

We went back to the room and watched Andy and Anderson on CNN who clearly loved the fact that they were famous enough to host the celebration.They threw back way too many shots while we waited for our favorite part – the after show with drunk Don Lemon. He did not disappoint. We love to see this annual classic.

Every year, CNN force-feeds all of their normally serious, news-reporting anchors gallons of alcohol for their live New Year’s broadcast, and Don Lemon never disappoints. This year, we watched his drunken descent into insanity, which included him singing along with a live band and maybe getting a tattoo, and just getting absolutely, undeniably wasted.

 I got her into the bath and then began the long process of getting her out. She negotiates like a polished divorce lawyer. I eventually give in to some of the demands. Her tiny naked body streaks through the hotel room with glee. Wasn’t the bath supposed to calm her down?  

She has seriously good oral hygiene and brushing her teeth can take fifteen minutes.  A  rollaway bed was at the foot of our bed. I crawl into bed with her to tell her some stories. It is one AM. The four year is a child who has always had difficulty falling asleep. I assumed that everyone who has been a parent knows that quiet down time can lead to success.  I answer every random question she can think of to ask.

 The boyfriend climbs into bed with us and starts making us laugh and suddenly he jumps up and says “You know what I like to do before bedtime? I like to twist.” The four year old can not believe her luck. She jumps up and says “You know what I like to do, I like to jump on the bed.”They are twisting and jumping and I am in shock.  His child raising theory is that she will wear herself out and fall asleep. He says that is what happened to his kids. I still don’t know where in the Raising Children Manual it says that. 

Somehow i get her down and we are reading…and reading…and reading. I now hate the Berenstein Bears. It is 2:!5. She says, “I think I need to run around to get rid of some more energy.” I am not falling for that. The BF pops his head up and says ”Go to sleep, This is my mess. I will deal with it.”

He continues with the Berenstein Bears horrified by the meals they are preparing.- with a running commentary on the recipes. Then he changes tactics.

.”The Pilgrims came to America on a big boat. Many of them died on the way.”

 “Is this a bedtime story?”  I ask.

 “The Pilgrims came to America in search of a religious utopia.” 

“ What do the Pilgrim’s look like?,’ asks the four year old in a sleepy voice. 

Then there is silence. I’m afraid to move but I know that when she is out-she is out. I wait a few minutes. She is fast asleep in our bed with both arms around his neck. I laugh to myself about how naive people are before they have children. It is her first time sleeping out. We did it. Happy New Year.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Visiting My Friends At The Museum Of Modern Art, New York

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Visiting My Friends At the Museum Of Modern Art, New York

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”Pablo Picasso

I didn’t know until I was in Junior High School that everyone did not grow up looking at Van Gogh’s Starry Night and Monet’s Water Lillies. For whatever reason my family spent a lot of time at the Museum Of Modern Art. I don’t know if it was because we loved it or because my mother was legally blind and could see the bright splashes of color. It was our museum.

MOMA was a lot smaller and has been through several renovations but some of the paintings that I loved are still there. I never go to NY without a trip to MOMA to say hello to my paintings.

My first memory is of Henri Rousseau’s Sleeping Gypsy which was located at the beginning of the gallery. I was looking at a fantasy world more magical then anything I could have imagined.

Picasso’s Dancers, Three Musicians and Matisse’s Dance always put a smile on my face, even if I was not in a good mood.

Jackson Pollack and Yves Klein’s Blue made me question the sanity of the adults in charge of the museum when I was very young. “I could do that,” I would say and my mother would laugh.

 I would stand in front of Picasso’s Guernica and focus on a different part each time. It was from Guernica that I learned about war. The painting was returned to Spain in 1980 which was the year I left New York. I’ve stood in front of it at the Reina Sofia and was surprised at how much smaller it was now that I am an adult. As a kid, it felt like the largest, loudest painting, I had ever seen.

The new MOMA is much bigger and very beautiful. Walking through the building  is disorienting to me. and finding my friends is a lot harder.

  But, the white walls filled with art are as calming to me now as they were in my childhood.

 I look at the crowd of people and security guard in front of Starry Night and remember how many times  I stood in front of it alone. “This is a very  famous painting  and we are so lucky that we get to see it so often,” my mother would say.

I smile at the Picassos, Cezannes and Matisses.  I find familiar Mark Rothkos, Mondrians, and my favorite childhood sculpture Brancusi’s Fish.

We miss the Water Lillies. and go back-just because. 

It is still a wonderful modern art museum and I leave thinking how much the city had changed. I swear that Magritte’s Eye winked at me on the way out. 

Fly safe,

JAZ 

Things To Do With A Four Year Old At Christmas In NYC

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Things To Do With A Four Year Old At Christmas In NYC

“These wonderful things are the things we remember all through our livesJohnny Mathis, Sleigh Ride

I’m babysitting for my four year old god daughter in NYC for a week during Christmas. Her mom is performing in a Tap Nutcracker at the Joyce Theatre to the music arranged by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn Dec 17-January 5. It looks great if you happen to be in New York.

She lives in Tel Aviv so she is a tourist as well. I grew up in New York so  I want to do the things I’ve done as a kid and taken my kids to do. There are so many new things as well. Here is my plan. 

See Frozen the Musical. Frozen is a phenomena. My favorite Frozen story is the one about Idina Menzel’s son (she is the voice of Elsa in the movie). He says, “My mom sings “Let It Go”. “So does mine,” his friend replies.  Elsa, the slightly flawed, princess is everyone’s favorite including my goddaughter who is into robots  and vintage Ninja  Turtles. 

 I loved  going to the Central Park Children’s Zoo. There weren’t a lot of places that were just for kids back then but this one was. It had a castle to climb and a blue whale to go inside.  The zoo was redone by the time I took my kids there and I’m sure it is even better now.

FAO Schwartz opened its doors in 1862. It was the oldest and largest toy store in NY specializing in unique well made toys.There was only the Fifth Avenue store. My mother called it Schwartz’s Toy Store and told us that it was like a museum. Everything was very expensive for us but we could go and play on the five floors of toys for hours. It has reopened in Rockefeller Plaza and though now owned by Toys R Us still hopefully has some innovative and iconic toys.  

As someone who is not so good in math (huge understatement), I am a little nervous about seeing the National Museum Of Mathematics. Will I be able to answer the questions of a four year  old? I look at the website.There are robots, square wheeled tricycles, motion detector activities, digital painting etc.  It looks really cool. 

 Going to see the Nutcracker Ballet is always a great way to kick off the holiday season. I know it is ambitious to take a four year old. You forget how long the Waltz of the Flowers can be. But I think she  is up to the challenge.

  I was visiting with my god daughter when she was a year and half. We were sitting outside looking at the lights around the pool in the desert in Eilat. “Mapita” she said . I assumed she was speaking Hebrew. She kept repeating it. We went back in the room and she put a piece of the now cold pizza in her mouth. More pizza are words I have heard often from her. I cant wait for her to taste NY Pizza. Im hoping someone still throws the pies up in the air. I will also introduce her to a hot dog from Grey’s Papaya and a pretzel from a street vendor. 

Childrens Museum Of The Arts has a drop in morning art class for three to five year olds. The Children’s Museum of Manhattan is a 38,000 sq.ft facility full of fun and learning experiences. it will be perfect for cold weather.  Sugar Hill Children’s Museum Of Art And Storytelling focuses  on children three to eight with art and story telling workshops.We will do at least one of these.

When I was a kid in NY we went  ice skating every Saturday in the winter. It was either the rink in Prospect Park or Central Park. There is also Rockefeller Center and Bryant Park. Hopefully it will be like riding a bicycle and not super cold. 

The Big Apple Circus has been in New York for forty years. My kids have seen it on their many visits to New York to see their grandparents. The circus tent is set up at Lincoln Center. It’s good for the whole family and children of all ages.

The Sloomoo Institute is a pop up slime museum that with be in NYC for six months before moving on to another city. It is all things slime. That’s all I know and with a four year old- that’s all I need to know.

NYC during the holidays is filed with timeless traditions, festivities on every corner and lots of lights and memories. The magical feeling of the city reminds me to live in optimistic expectation. – especially if is snowing. 

Happy Holidays and Fly Safe,

JAZ

Going To The Library

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Going To The Library

“The only thing that you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library.” Albert Einstein

Towering bookcases. Shelves for miles. That smell I will never forget as long as I live. I spent a ton of time in many beautiful libraries in New York which was odd considering my mother was legally blind. 

There were so many books and worlds on those shelves. I think it is one of the reasons I know how to entertain myself. I wasn’t allowed to watch TV and  beautiful old libraries were our winter or bad weather “family field trips.’ 

My father would go off somewhere and read. My mother went to the record section and listened to something she would always say was amazing. We were left to roam freely around the children’s section by ourselves, picking up books, reading a few pages and putting them back until we found the one that we couldn’t put down.

 The first time I ever walked anywhere without a parent besides school, was to the small neighborhood library. I was ten or eleven years old and I walked with two friends. It was  sixteen blocks.  I felt very scared and very grownup. I didn’t know that my mother was walking several paces behind us.  She let me be so proud of my independence and didn’t tell me till many years later. 

My children always did the summer reading program at the Beverly Hills Library. I wanted them to be as comfortable in a library as I was.  One day, my four year old daughter wanted to stay in the library by herself and work on her project.  I remembered my mom and hid in the back of the children section for an hour so she could have that alone in the library feeling.

 Growing up in the library, you learn to be observant. You also learn there are creeps hanging around the library — like everywhere else (ever been to a Starbucks mid-afternoon?) Through your superhuman power of observation, you know when someone is sketchy and you follow your instincts. You know when to hop over to a more crowded section of stacks, or to let a librarian know someone’s being a weirdo.

The library was  where I could check out as many books as I wanted, so naturally, it was one of my favorite spots in the world. I believe I still have a few overdue ones. 

No matter what was happening at school or at home, I knew once I walked into that place of quiet and organization, my thoughts would calm and my mood would lift. It was a way to leave the real world outside.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Things I Lost In The Fire

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Things I Lost In the Fire

“So that’s how we live our lives. No matter how deep and fatal the loss, no matter how important the thing that’s stolen from us–that’s snatched right out of our hands–even if we are left completely changed, with only the outer layer of skin from before, we continue to play out our lives this way, in silence” Haruki Murukami. 

When I was a teenager my house burned down in an electrical fire. It was a controlled fire by most standards and we didn’t lose everything.  We moved to the top floor of an apartment building and a few years later during a bad storm, it was hit by lightning. Another fire. 

I never thought about how it affected me. No one was home during the first one and I was away at grad school for the second. I hadn’t lost my room in the first fire. Most of my things were on the roof and covered in soot and ash. It took a long time to get that smell out. 

 I happened to sit next to a woman in a restaurant who had just lost her house in the Malibu fire and was still in shock.  She was telling me about her lost photos. I remembered that I kept my albums and photos in fireproof boxes in a downstairs closet close to a door. They could be dumped in a nearby garbage can and rolled away quickly. I’m not normally that organized. I realized as I spoke to her that I have always lived my adult life with the knowledge that things can be lost instantaneously. 

We all process events differently. What I remember most about the first fire is the dream. The night before I had a very vivid dream that I was walking in debris in my new shoes. I kept wondering why I had worn the shoes. There was a hole in the right shoe from the debris. The next morning I got up and put the new shoes on with trepidation, wondering if I should wear them. Hours later I was walking in what was left of the downstairs and looked down at the wet burned wood  and there was the hole in the right shoe. I never really processed anything but the fact that I had a premonition about it.    

 I thought at the time  that it was just stuff. Kids don’t think a lot about memories.  I  listened to the woman tell me about her lost mementos.  I understand now why I saved every toy and all my children’s schoolwork from birth through high school. I didn’t have anything like that from my own childhood after two fires.  

 She started talking about her books.  Every once in a while throughout my life, I remember a book that I am sure I have. I don’t have it because that library was gone. I think this is what happens after a fire. You don’t remember everything you lost all at once.

Our homes should be places of safety.  Because so many strong memories are formed in our homes, they are very special places to us. House fires can never take those memories away but we lose the feeling of safety which is more of a loss than the stuff. I never dwelt on why this happened to my family twice. We just stayed in the moment and did things one step at a time. Life is busy after a fire and not always in a good way. The best thing is not to stay in the past. It was strange to look back and reflect on that time in my life. I know that this woman, her family and the people who were affected by the California wildfires will get through it also.

Fly safe,

JAZ 

9/11 Memorial

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9/11 Memorial

“What separates us from the animals, what separates us from the chaos, is our ability to mourn people we’ve never met.” David Levithan

Maybe it was from a sense of obligation, to pay tribute to the lives lost; or a need to see the site of the World Trade Center tragedy to try to comprehend something that 17 years later is still hard to grasp. Maybe it was because I had just come from seeing Auschwitz in Poland. Maybe it was because I worked in Lower Manhattan when the World Trade Center was being built. But while planning a visit to New York, there was never a moment I considered not going to the 9/11 memorial and museum.

Inside this immense expanse of the museum, you’ll find various artifacts on display such as pieces from the planes that struck the Twin Towers, one of many fire trucks which assisted in rescue efforts, a three-story metal beam covered with missing posters, photographs, and messages of resilience named the ‘Last Column’, as well as a retaining wall that survived the destruction of the original World Trade Center.

There are the smaller but just as significant artifacts like damaged fireman’s helmets, World Trade Center ID’s, faded subway cards, police uniforms, and dust-covered shoes.

The museum is thoughtfully divided into several exhibits, with the main two being the Historical Exhibition in the North Tower and the Memorial Exhibition in the South Tower.

The Historical Exhibition is filled with artifacts, photographs, first-person accounts, and archival audio and video recordings. This exhibit is made up of three sequential parts: the Events of the Day, Before 9/11, and After 9/11.

The Memorial Exhibition is situated within the original footprint of the South Tower, and contains portrait photographs of the almost 3000 people who lost their lives in result of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 and the bombing of the World Trade Center on February 26, 1993.

The Memorial is located where the Twin Towers once stood. There are now two large grey chasms in the ground from which water cascades down all four sides before gathering in a pool and finally plunging into a dark void in the middle.

On the brass rims around these twin pools you’ll find stencil-cut names of every person who died in the terrorist attacks of February 26, 1993 and September 11, 2001.

you are encouraged to touch them.

I did not know anyone personally who died that day. My son had just been dropped off for his freshman year in college in Boston. His father had taken that flight back to LA on American Airlines the week before. My mother who lived nearby had gone to a concert at the World Trade Center that Sunday. On September 11 at six am Los Angeles time, I was in the airport at American Airlines (three hours earlier than New York) waiting to get on a seven AM flight from LA to Boston because I had gotten a call a few hours before that my son was in the hospital about to have his appendix out.

“There but for fortune go you or I” Phil Oaks.

Fly safe,

JAZ

My Anthony Bourdain Day

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My Anthony Bourdain Day

“There comes a time when you look into the mirror and you realize that what you see is all that you will ever be. And then you accept it. Or you kill yourself. Or you stop looking in mirrors. Tennessee Williams

There has been a lot written about the death of Anthony Bourdain.  He inspired those of us who travel, cook or are foodies. i wrote one of my earliest blogs about him. https://travelwellflysafe.com/2013/09/04/anthony-bourdain-i-love-you/ .  Anthony Bourdain’s vulnerability and openness about his past struggles with drugs and depression were part of the fascination that I had with his show. He visibly carried so much darkness and yet, seemed to have the life that everyone wanted. He inspired a lot of people to cook and travel. He taught us to eat differently when we traveled. Everyone is a travel foodie now. I carry Immodium on every trip like he did, just in case a chief from a tribe offers me food and I am too polite to say no. Anthony Bourdain saw the amazing in the small everyday things that people did around the world and he shared them with us. 

Bourdain worked hard, took risks, and craved authenticity.  All of those traits are to be admired but it doesn’t make him a perfect person (none of us are perfect).  Admiration can be a dangerous thing. Make sure you’re admiring the values while maintaining a healthy and realistic understanding that everyone has flaws, even your heroes. 

We decided to have an Anthony Bourdain day in NYC. We started at the 9/11 Memorial downtown. Bourdain always included recent historical events.

We had lunch at Le Bernadin the three-star Michelin restaurant. The chef Eric Ripert, was his best friend.  

Chef Ripert is talented, crafting an elegant and tasteful lunch menu. It is a seafood restaurant and the fish courses are delicious and filleted to perfection.

  We laugh through lunch certain Bourdain would want us to enjoy it.

 Our dinner was hot dogs at Gray’s Papaya. It was a New York hot dog chain that is down to one store on Eighth Avenue and Fortieth St. The hot dog was the original NYC street food.

It is the classic New York Sabrett hot dog with mustard and sauerkraut. We lean up on a ledge and wash it down with a Papaya drink.

Afterward, we go to the Blue Note in the village and listen to some Jazz. He often ended his shows with local music. 

 It turns out that travel can’t fix you. Having your dream job does not make it better. I think he fought hard to stay alive and battle his demons. In the end, he needed to stop the darkness and pain that made him so compelling to watch. If this sounds like you, get help. 

Fly Safe Anthony Bourdain,

JAZ