Dying Around Thanksgiving

Dying Around Thanksgiving

“There is no death. People only die when we forget them,” my mother explained shortly before she left me. “If you can remember me, I will be with you always.” Isabel Allende

My mother died the weekend before Thanksgiving. Now I always associate the planning for Thanksgiving with the helplessness I felt knowing that my mother was dying. I need a constructive way to get through the day.  It involves lighting a memorial candle,  going to temple and saying the prayer honoring the dead.  I do something she loved in nature or in culture and I talk to her in my head.

I was supposed to be ready when my mother died. She was ninety-one when she went into the hospital for the first time since the birth of her children. She had a long life.  “Who is the president?,” they ask to check her mental capacity. The correct answer was Bush. Her answer was “Don’t get me started.” I should have been ready, but I wasn’t.

When we lose a parent as an adult, we are supposed to be prepared for this normal life passage, or at least be  more ready to accept it when it does happen. We are expected to pick ourselves up, close the wound quickly and move on. We should not require so much time to “get over it.” This loss is expected and in the natural order of things.

Losing a parent is extremely difficult for most adult children if you have had a good relationship with your parent and even if you haven’t. (That is harder) My husband had left a couple of years before that so loss was becoming a theme in my life. My mother was my best friend and my support system throughout that time.

She was not religious.  But she went to temple one day a year to say the Prayer of Remembrance for her parents. When I was twelve I started offering to go with her. She replied that  she didn’t need company. She was going to say  “Yiska”.  It sounded very mysterious. Yizkor is the Jewish memorial prayer for the dead. The word means remember.

My mother  didn’t believe in celebrating death. She would say, “Do for people while they are alive.” She had stopped going to funerals  for her dying friends many years before. She must have done a lot because one hundred and fifty people who I did not know showed up for her memorial service and many spoke. They were her theatre community.  They were the people she had met and given theatre tickets to throughout her life. She opened their world or she shared their love for the arts right up to the end. They became her friends and ranged in age from thirty five to a hundred. 

My mother had requested that her ashes be spread over Lincoln Center and Broadway, so she did not miss anything. ‘When you come and visit me, see a play, ballet or an opera”, she said. None of us knew when we said yes, that it was illegal, but we did it.

I sit in temple feeling a weird kind of peace.  “Who is in the first seven days of mourning?”, asks the rabbi.   “Who is in the first eleven months of mourning?  Who is celebrating a yortzheit today?” I stand and say her name.  The ritual seems to help me. As we start the prayer, “yit gadal va yit gadash….  I struggle to keep up with the words in Aramaic. I have the same conversation with my mom every time I say the prayer.  “What are you doing in temple on such a beautiful day?” she asks.

I leave the temple thinking of  a conversation that I recently had with my children. “Can you get us Hamilton tickets in NY?” asks my son. “No,” I reply.  “If Nana was alive, we would have seen it already,“ said my daughter. “If Nana was alive, we would have seen it in preview, at the Public Theatre for half price,” he answered. My son said that he would try for the day of show ticket lottery when he is in New York. The legacy lives on. 

Happy Thanksgiving and Fly Safe Mom

JAZ

Ten Places In The United States That I Have Been To And Will Return

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Ten Places In The United States That I Have Been To And Will Return

“America ….. is the land of the richness of life, of the fullness of every hour in the day, the country which gives you the sense of carrying out a huge amount of activity, even though in fact you achieve very little, the country where solitude is impossible.” Italo Calvino

America is big and there is so much to see in the land of the free and home of the brave. The geography, climate, wildlife and people are extremely diverse. We have a brief history compared to Europe and the UK but it is interesting. Here are ten places in no particular order that I love to visit.

Washington DC is the capital of the country and our political center. That might not sound like the place to be be right now but it’s beautiful in the spring with the cherry blossoms in bloom, and in the fall with the leaves changing color. DC is a walkable city if you stay downtown.You have to do the basics. First there are the monuments – Lincoln, Washington, Martin Luther King, Jefferson and WWll. You can see them at night as well. Get your Capitol and White House Tour tickets before you come. It’s fun to just walk down the National Mall and see all the museums and monuments. The Smithsonian Institution has 19 museums all over the city. I also like Newseum, the Holocaust Museum, National Portrait Gallery and my favorite the National Gallery Of Art. Union Market has an amazing food scene and the food in DC is eclectic and delicious. If you have kids, the FBI and the Mint are fun to see.

People from Los Angeles love San Francisco. Their rich people are techies not Hollywood types. It is geographically tiny and you can walk everywhere.  Walking across the Golden Gate Bridge is cool.  Riding the cable car is an excellent way to see the city.  Taking the ferry to Alcatraz Island is interesting.  You can walk along Fisherman’s Wharf which is really touristy. I dont recommend eating there.  Swan Oyster Depot is better for seafood. San Francisco is a foodie city so there are many  great restaurants. Go to the largest Chinatown in the US for dim sum and Japantown for sushi. The Ferry Building which has been converted to a market and food court is a great place for lunch. I love the newly renovated San Francisco Museum Of Modern Art. There are many interesting neighborhoods with walking tours. Bring a jacket- even in summer.

Amelia Island is a quiet barrier island, located in the Northernmost portion of Florida, not too far from the Georgia border. The island is one of the Sea Islands, a chain of coastal barrier islands stretching from Northeast Florida to South Carolina. It is great place to relax with southern hospitality. Amelia Island offers 13 miles of quiet, secluded beaches. The setting is quaint and beautiful, with many historical inns, beautiful seaside homes, hiking trails and a few resorts.The weather is mild year-round with an average winter temperature in the 60’s. You will find that the area is not overdeveloped, but rather reminiscent of the old days in Florida.

Chicago, Illinois has the the hospitality of a midwestern city with the  famous architecture and multiculturalism of New York. The food in Chicago is first class and the Art Institute is one of my favorite museums. The elevated Bloomingdale Trail and the Lake Michigan bike paths are fun when the weather is nice. I also liked the Architecture Cruise given by the Architectural Foundation which is a fun way to see the famous buildings. Chicago is home to the comedy club Second City (think SNL) and Steppenwolf Theatre Company (think Broadway). The best time to visit is spring and fall. 

The Big Island is also called Hawaii. I love the Kona side with its volcanic landscape and black sand beaches. The Hilo side has a lush tropical landscape and is definitely a day trip. Yes Hawaii is expensive because it is an island and everything has to be shipped in. If you have never seen an active volcano, go to Hawaii Volcano National Park. Stay after dark to see the glow from the Caldera. I usually never leave the black sand beach.

 As an ex New Yorker, when I visit New York City, I want to see and do it all. It’s a frantic schedule even for a New Yorker. It’s impossible to see it in one visit and you have to resign yourself to see and do what you can. The lines for the ferry to the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and the Empire State Building are long so get there early. If you are interested in the World Trade Memorial, get your tickets before you go.Times Square is always crowded with tourists. Get tickets for you shows in advance or go to TKTS booth in Times Square for discount tickets to day of shows. See a concert or ballet at Lincoln Center. There are walking tours in every neighborhood so pick neighborhoods that interest you. I grew up in Central Park in Manhattan and Prospect Park in Brooklyn and recommend both as a way to relax in the city. The HIghline is an urban walking park which runs from 34th Street to the Meatpacking District, built on old elevated train tracks, is lovely on a nice day. NY is filled with excellent museums so budget some time for those. The Met is one of the biggest museums in the world and  has something for everyone so I recommend that. I love the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim. Food is a whole blog. NYC is filled with amazing restaurants and many different immigrant cultures who bring along great food. When I return, I must have pizza and egg rolls from any family run place, cannoli from Venero’s, bagels from Ess A Bagel and a hot dog from Grey’s Papaya . NYC was my last plane trip in the old world so I am particularly nostalgic. 

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Plan to be amazed by the intense color of the red rocks and the night skies filled with stars. There is a magical , spiritual quality to Sedona, Arizona . Sedona has a moderate climate and though it is hotter in summer and snowy in winter, you can really visit anytime. The natural beauty and energy vortexes make hiking, dining, spa and  personal growth experiences even better.

Boston, Massachusetts is one of the most historic cities in the United States. I have been there many times and love the food, museums and the fact that is a slower paced city than New York.The Freedom Trail is a 2.5-mile walk through historic Boston. It takes you through all the major sites and monuments relating to the city’s founding and the Revolutionary War. The trail passes through Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall so plan to stop for lunch.There are beautiful neighborhoods with their own vibe and history to walk through. I love the North End which is the heart of Boston’s Italian community. It involves waiting on a line for cannoli at MIke’s Pastry. You might also want to see a Red Sox game or visit Harvard. Museums in Boston are free to students which is another thing I love about the city.

A new England summer vacation had never occurred to me until my daughter went to camp in Maine. Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts is not actually a place to lie out on the beach for eight hours with a drink in hand.The weather can be iffy. There are great restaurants especially if you are a fan of lobster and sea food. The Vineyard is divided into six towns each with their personal vibe, so explore them all, by foot, bike or if it’s raining –  car. If you bring a car, make sure to have a car reservation for the ferry in advance or purchased from a resident. 

I love skiing in Park City, Utah. Growing up as an East Coast skier, the incredible Utah powder is so wonderful. Whatever your level of skiing, you will find runs in Park City. I love Deer Valley. The resort is consistently ranked at the top when it comes to grooming, service, access, on-mountain food, lodging, dining, and kid friendliness. Park City was founded in 1884 after the silver boom of the 1860s, and its mining heritage plays a strong role in defining the Western flavor of the charming little downtown scene. There is an abundance of restaurants and bars to choose from. It is also the host of the world famous Sundance Film Festival which takes place in January every year. 

Sty safe,

JAZ

Ten Hamilton Quotes

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Ten Hamilton Quotes

“ What (you might be asking) can a Broadway musical possibly add to the legacy of a Founding Father–a giant of our national life, a war hero, a scholar, a statesman? What’s one little play, or even one very big play, next to all that? 

But there is more than one way to change the world. To secure their freedom, the polyglot American colonists had to come together, and stick together, in the face of enormous adversity. To live in a new way, they first had to think and feel in a new way. It took guns and ships to win the American Revolution, but it also required pamphlets and speeches–and at least one play.” Jeremy McCarter, Hamilton -The Revolution

Watching Hamilton from my bedroom during a pandemic was very different than seeing it on Broadway.  Broadway will remain closed for the rest of the year. I can’t imagine what my mother who went to the theatre six nights a week after her kids grew up, would have done during this. She loved to be in the “room where it happened” and passed that love on to her family.  She certainly would have been enjoying all the “live theatre” on TV and would have loved this production.

 Hamilton was as innovative as it was traditional. It wasn’t a reinvention but a reminder of the character of the American people. It is a work that celebrates patriotism and diversity. Right now pride in America and optimism is at an all time low. When the world has turned upside down, you have to figure out what comes next. “Who will tell our story?”

Here are ten life quotes from Hamilton by Lin Manuel Miranda. 

“Talk less. Smile more.”

“I’m not throwing away my shot.”

“How on earth did you do that with the same 24 hours a day that everyone else gets?” 

“Legacy. What is a legacy? It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see” 

“I’ll make the world safe and sound for you. You will come of age with our young nation. We’ll bleed and fight for you, we’ll make it right for you. If we lay a strong enough foundation, we’ll pass it on to you. We’ll give the world to you.” 

“We’re immigrants. We get the job done”

“Change requires hope.” 

“We push away what we can never understand. We push away the unimaginable.”

“I stop wasting time on tears. I live another fifty years. It’s not enough!”

“You have no control. Who lives, who dies, who tells your story.” 

Stay safe,

JAZ

Best Meals That I Ate In NYC This Time

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Best Meals That I Ate in NYC This Time

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” J. R. R. Tolkien

Incredible food is one of the best parts about visiting NYC. It is funny being a tourist in a city that you grew up in which is now completely different. I feel it most with restaurants. I do not know where the best places to eat are and have to research. Here is what we did this time.

Flora Bar

Flora Bar is located in the former home of the Whitney Museum. It is now the Met Breuer and is the Metropolitan Museum Of Art’s space dedicated to modern and contemporary art. The room is attractive with a modern, industrial feel. The floor to ceilings windows bring in lots of natural light and let you look out into the outdoor garden seating area. I thought that it was the best meal we had in NY. The food feels simple but it is inventive and complex. The shrimp cocktail is sweet and flavorful with homemade cocktail sauce. It is Sunday night and the waiter suggests the Sunday night roast chicken dinner which turns out to be the best roast chicken I have ever eaten. it is accompanied by potatoes au gratin, roasted squash, chicory salad and Parker House rolls.

Little Spain

Mercado Little Spain is the Spanish Food Mall created by Jose Andres and Ferran and Albert Adria at the new Chelsea Mall, Hudson Yards. Think Eataly but Spanish. We ate at the Spanish Diner where I had an egg dish direct from Bar Pinxto at La Boqueria Market in Barcelona. The BF had the perfect Barcelona sandwich of Iberian ham, olive oil and tomato on a flauta The market part has many crowded stalls, selling gazpacho, Iberian ham, octopus, churros dipped in chocolate, paella, patatas brava, bread, olive oil, and of course tapas.

Momofuku Saam Bar

For a few years, whenever someone went to NYC, the question was, did you eat at Momofuku Saam Bar? It was interesting food, a lot of pork belly and no reservations. This new version of the restaurant takes reservations (which didnt seem hard to get) and the food was inventive and delicious. We had pork buns, fried brussel sprouts and a whole roasted fish. It was an amazing meal and though there are now many Momofukus and imitations, it lived up to the hype.

Momofuku Nishi

Clearly we were on the David Chang NY tour. We had to cancel our reservations at Noodle Bar but we made it to Nishi. The restaurant is small but we had a great corner table and the service was friendly and efficient. The smoked tomato fusilli, roast chicken, beef carpaccio and bread were all delicious. The picky four year old ate as much as we did. It was the largest amount of food I had seen her eat all week.

Joe’s Pizza

New York had such a large Italian immigrant population that pizza places were everywhere. Everyone had their favorite but they were all good. High gluten flour and NY water are credited with giving the crust its unique taste. It is made with tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella cheese and traditionally cut into eight slices. The New York way to eat a slice of pizza is to pick it up and eat it flat to get the full flavor. You can fold it when it gets messy but a knife and fork will immediately peg you as an out of towner. We got Joe’s Pizza delivered to the hotel. Joe’s Pizza has been in the village since the seventies. There are other locations now but it is an independent business and Joe still personally supervises the Greenwich Village location. I immediately eat three pieces and another one later on for dessert. It is the taste of home.

Butter

Butter is owned by the sometimes thin and sometimes fat celebrity chef Alex Guarnaschelli. She is one of those celebrity food judges who’s appearance changes drastically from season to season. The menu is seasonal as well. It’s a great space with intimate booths and high ceilings. Butter is in the theatre district so its a delicious option on a night that you have tickets for a show. It was an odd choice for someone like me who isn’t eating dairy at the moment but the BF loved it. They were totally willing to accommodate us with a perfectly cooked pan seared branzino on wilted spinach and side of grilled broccoli The Bf enjoyed the home made rolls with butter (Get it?)

Nomad Hotel

Chef Daniel Humm from Eleven Madison Park left to open the Nomad Hotel. We stayed there for a week and had the opportunity to taste many delicious meals. We were told to get the fried chicken, the roast chicken, the weekend brunch and the hot dog. We did (on different days) and it was all great. We ate and drank in the restaurant, the room, the bar and the library. We loved everything about the hotel including the food.

Fly safe,

JAZ

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