Filed under: Ode

My Saddest Day as a New Yorker. Grays Papaya in the Village is no more . . .

Truly a sad, sad day. The cultural and gastronomical landmark Gray’s Papaya in the Village is no more.


  • No more of my favorite guilty pleasure.
  • No more burning the roof of your mouth with steaming hot doggy wonderfulness, only to cool it seconds later with the cool sweet rush of yummy papaya juice from a plain styrofoam cup.
  • No more “snappy” service.
  • No more feeling superior to tourists who don’t know how to order.
  • No more positioning yourself at just the right angle so as to have your own private counter space no matter how crowded.
  • No more catching the flipped nickel from the cashier after getting the “Recession Special” and paying with a five.
  • No more scowling at the horrid people who put ketchup on a hot dog.
  • grays-papaya

    Go on my old friend! Viva Gray’s Papaya! You will live forever in our hearts . . .

    Leave a Comment January 8, 2014

    Rosie “The Cat” (2001-2013) R.I.P.

    Rosie The Cat (2001-2013)

    I’m sad to report that just before noon today my dear friend Rosie “The Cat” passed away.

    A few weeks ago I began to notice Rosie wasn’t eating much but still drinking water. She seemed lethargic, but I knew something was up when I opened a can of Fancy Feast and she took all day to eat it.

    I took her to the vet a few days later and the Doc gave me the bad news that she was showing signs of kidney failure. He gave me some medication and in his thick Eastern European accent said, “Either she’ll come back or she won’t.” His face told me not to get my hopes up.

    Over the next few days she was quiet and slept a lot, but the drugs didn’t look like they were helping. A few nights ago I couldn’t find her and when I did, I knew that she knew. I looked into euthanization and resolved to go that route if she seemed to be suffering.

    In the interim I did my best to keep her comfortable, but last night she had labored breathing and I knew it was close. This morning she stayed close to me, curling up around my feet as I worked at my desk. Looking at her, she seemed peaceful, resigned.

    Around eleven o’clock I carried her into the living room swaddled in a blanket where she passed away peacefully in my arms.

    She will be missed . . .

    Rosie The Cat in 2002

    Vinny (~~)

    Leave a Comment April 12, 2013

    Ode To The Cat

    by Pablo Neruda

    Rosie The Cat

    There was something wrong
    with the animals:
    their tails were too long, and they had
    unfortunate heads.
    Then they started coming together,
    little by little
    fitting together to make a landscape,
    developing birthmarks, grace, pep.
    But the cat,
    only the cat
    turned out finished, and proud:
    born in a state of total completion,
    it sticks to itself and knows exactly what it wants.
    Men would like to be fish or fowl,
    snakes would rather have wings,
    and dogs are would-be lions.
    Engineers want to be poets,
    flies emulate swallows,
    and poets try hard to act like flies.
    But the cat
    wants nothing more than to be a cat,
    and every cat is pure cat
    from its whiskers to its tail,
    from sixth sense to squirming rat,
    from nighttime to its golden eyes.
    Nothing hangs together
    quite like a cat.

    Leave a Comment December 4, 2012

    Self Portrait by David Whyte

    It doesn’t interest me if there is one God
    Or many gods.

    I want to know if you belong — or feel abandoned;
    If you know despair
    Or can see it in others.

    I want to know
    If you are prepared to live in the world
    With its harsh need to change you;
    If you can look back with firm eyes
    Saying “this is where I stand.”

    I want to know if you know how to melt
    Into that fierce heat of living
    Falling toward the center of your longing.

    I want to know if you are willing
    To live day by day
    With the consequence of love
    And the bitter unwanted passion
    Of your sure defeat.

    I have been told
    In that fierce embrace
    Even the gods
    Speak of God.

    by David Whyte

    Leave a Comment January 2, 2012

    Rebecca the Blackberry Angel

    At first I thought the situation called for an ode, “Ode to Rebecca”, but our entire relationship consists of two emails and a phone call. An ode might be a bit much.

    Maybe I should explain:

    Friday night I went over to my friend Dee’s place in Crown Heights. She had somehow come into possession of a wild bird, and she wanted me to help her set it free in Prospect Park. It’s a whole other story. Our original plan for the day was to meet up in Manhattan, have a few drinks, and then go to see the new Indiana Jones movie. So after the bird was free and happy in the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, we hopped on a 3 train heading into Lower Manhattan.

    Street level somewhere near City Hall I pulled out my trusty Blackberry and hit the Google Maps Button. Within seconds it told me where we were and where we needed to go. I love my Blackberry. I’m almost obsessed with it. It holds everything, numbers, emails, to do lists, music, and lectures on mp3. And of course I have it all tricked out just the way I like it, in the picture you can see I even created a Negril Notes theme for it. Okay, I could be a little obsessed.

    The map on my Blackberry said we were too far away to meet up with our friends before the movie started so I hailed a cab and we hopped in. And that’s when it must have happened! My Blackberry fell out of the pocket of my jacket. I always wear that jacket and I hop in and out of cabs, subways, busses, you name it, and that Blackberry has stayed with me every time.

    When we met up with our movie companion we found out the nine-thirty showing was sold out and that we were on for ten o’clock. We walked to Chevy’s around the corner to kill some time, ordered Margaritas, and made chit-chat. Dee’s friend was very nice though she was obviously crazy for me, Dee pretended not to notice. Sometimes it’s not easy being me. Anyway, After only one round we walked over to the Regal Battery Park, found decent seats, and settled in to watch Harrison Ford do what he does so well.

    I reached for my phone to make sure it was on vibrate, and it wasn’t there! I checked my other pockets; nothing. I stood up and looked around my seat; nada. I raised me arms and screamed “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!!” Okay I didn’t really do that, but I was pretty upset. I headed back to Chevy’s to see if maybe I took it out and laid it on the bar for some reason.

    Indiana Jones was playing in five of the theater’s eleven screens, and we were in theater number eleven on the top floor. Some other showing had just gotten out and the down escalator was jammed. My stress began to build, the escalator moved glacially, and I felt like a trapped animal. I checked my pockets for duct tape to wrap around my head to keep it from exploding, but I had none! Instead I took a deep breath and tried to relax. When I was calm and still several floors from street level I realized all the people around me were talking about the movie, discussing in detail things like the plot, and the ending!

    Finally back at the bar the pretty yet vacant doe-eyed bartender, who made us the shitty margaritas, disappeared for several minutes finding a manager. Meanwhile I found the bus boys and asked them in Spanish if they found a phone, I didn’t know how to say Blackberry in their native tongue. “Si Si,” the taller one said and my stress just deflated, I hadn’t realized how hard my heart was beating. “Thanks Guys,” I said as I started counting out twenties as a reward for their honesty, but I nearly broke into tears when they handed me a scuffed up Motorola Razor.

    Walking back into the theater I began to think philosophically. “It’s not like I lost a kidney.” “I have almost everything backed-up.” “I’m just going to look like an ass at work on Tuesday.” “I don’t mind looking like an ass.” “Who cares what those bastard think!” “Who needs that f*****ng job anyway!!” Now back on the escalator I asked the big football player type ahead of me if he had any duct tape. He just looked confused, and began walking more quickly up the moving steel stairs.

    I plopped into my seat in failure and disgust. My companions were sweet and consoling, which made me feel better, and by the time the myriad previews were over I was able to let go and really enjoy the film. Indy Rocked!

    The rest of the night I kept calling the phone hoping the evil bastard who had it would pick it up. I was planning to threaten that I could track them on the GPS, though I never actually loaded the friggin’ program.

    Saturday morning I had my spare cell phone charged up and working, and I sent the number to all the people who might need to get a hold of me over the weekend. I kept calling the Blackberry which I keep on vibrate. I pictured it buzzing under the seat of some cab never to be found. But life goes on.

    I took the 63 bus through Park Slope to the Food Co-Op, and as I sat there I rang the Blackberry again.

    “Hello” Holy shit! Someone answered, and she didn’t sound evil at all! She’d found the Blackberry in a taxi the previous night and was waiting for me to call and claim it. I must have sounded like an idiot on the phone, I was so excited, and happy, and exuberant, and relieved that I almost didn’t write down her address.

    She was like a Blackberry finding angel, she seemed as happy that I found my phone as I was. Whoever stereotypes New Yorkers as uncaring troglodytes are just as wrong as they can be. I’ve only been living here a year and the people have been great. Rebecca the Blackberry Angel is just another example.

    I blew off food shopping for the time being and took the 63 all the way to the Atlantic Avenue Train Station. In minutes I was on a 4 Express train to the Upper East Side. From Eighty-Sixth and Lexington, I all but ran to the address Rebecca had given me, and that I’d written on the palm of my hand. The doorman seemed a bit suspicious as I trundled through the revolving door almost out of breath.

    But, as I yanked out my wallet to show him my identification, he handed me the grey envelope that held my beloved Blackberry. I think I actually caressed it as I gently pulled it from the envelope and removed the bubble wrap. Yeah, she actually used bubble wrap! This is a woman of substance!

    Before leaving I asked the doorman, that if I sent flowers or a gift basket to the building with her first name on the card, would she get it. He assured me it would.

    Later that day I looked around the web for some token of thanks to send to Rebecca the Blackberry Angel, but I couldn’t make up my mind. Flowers seemed corny. A fruit or cheese basket seemed too, I don’t know. I went to Harry & David’s to send a Moose Munch basket, but again it didn’t hit the mark. So I did what I always do in times like this, I called my daughter Kristine for advice. She suggested I make a donation to New York Cares in our heroine’s name. Kristine and I are recent members. We believe in the cause, and they do great work.

    I emailed Rebecca the Blackberry Angel to say thanks again, and to tell her in lieu of flowers or some such thing that I was making a donation in her name.

    The next morning she emailed back saying it was a nice thought but not to make the donation in her name, but in the name of:

    “all of us who will loose a cell phone or need a hand, and appreciate the kindness of strangers.”

    She went on to say that she has been the beneficiary of annonymous efforts, and if I wanted to give something towards the “Big Karma bank in the sky,” that I should go for it.

    And I did.

    Thank you again Rebecca. Words can not describe my appreciation.


    Vinny (~~)

    Leave a Comment May 26, 2008

    Why do the windows have to be broken?

    The answer comes back, “they have to be.”

    I always notice this same building, next to the train tracks, abandoned, a five story walk up close to the “bad” part of town. Just past the Temple Train Station heading into Center City, a block from a beautiful gold domed church, or maybe its a mosque. A well built brick structure, old, but not ancient. Wood framed broken windows, flat roof intact, no apparent fire damage, standing like a bored centurion at the edge of blighted North Philly.

    I noticed how I always ask the same curious question, “Why do the windows have to be broken?”

    Why not, “Why are the windows broken?” or even, “Who broke them windows?”

    I wonder if the question stems from residual institutional racism, abandoned broken windowed buildings are usually on the wrong side of the tracks.” I pondered that for a moment.

    Maybe it was some self window breaking guilt. I was raised Catholic, guilt is a part of the doctrine (I even feel guilty writing that).

    I grew up in rural suburban New Jersey, as a kid my friends and I would break windows in abandoned houses, we never asked why. Did those windows have to be broken? I guess so. They just had to be, and it fell upon us to break them, though usually by the time we discovered the house the windows were already broken.

    Someone should board them up.You can learn more at Toolerant

    Vinny :)Â

    Leave a Comment January 9, 2007

    All My Bags Are Packed…

    All My Bags Are Packed, I’m ready to go
    I’m standing here just by de doe (waiting for a cab)
    Kris just called me up, to say goodbye.

    But the dawn is breakin’ it’s early morn
    Leaving Rosie has me emotionally torn
    Already I’m so excited, Jah Rastafar – I

    So Kiss me and smile for me
    Tell me that you envy me
    Don’t cha wish you were going to Negril

    I’m leaving on a jet plane
    AJ cancelled my flight again
    Oh Babe, Can’t wait to go

    There’s so many times I’ve gone to town
    All I do is play around
    I’ll tell you now, I can’t wait to get some Ting

    Every place I go I’ll think of you
    Every beer I’ll drink I’ll drink for you
    When I get back I’ll bring your Christmas thing

    So Kiss me and smile for me
    Tell me that you envy me
    Don’t cha wish you were going to Negril

    I’m leaving on a jet plane
    Shuttle bus to Newark; A big-ass pain
    I wish they would have let me know

    I’m leaving on a jet plane
    Gonna get really drunk ‘pon de plane

    Leaving on a jet plane
    My buddy Clive, will pick me up again

    Leaving on a jet plane
    To stare ‘pon de Caribbean

    Peace :)

    Leave a Comment December 15, 2006

    It was Twenty Years Ago Today . . .

    My daughter Kristine was born twenty years ago today! WOW!

    I remember like it was yesterday! Meeting Kris for the first time, I knew right away she was cool! Her mom was there too, making a lot of noise if I remember correctly, but I did most of the work. It’s stressful in them delivery rooms!

    I have to admit to getting a bit misty looking through her photos, I think I feel an ode coming on!

    Kristine’s Twentieth Birthday Ode

    O’ Kristine, O’ Kristine
    O’ How I love thee
    You looked like this when you were about three

    Kristine on the beach in the 80's

    Once such a cutie

    Kristine with Annie hair with her dog Lady

    You’ve grown into a beauty!

    Kris at 17 her website shoot

    You play, You sing, You dance

    Kris looks like a rock star

    OK, and occasionally you prance

    You cain't git a may'un with a guuun!

    Your look has changed year by year

    Redish Brunette with glasses

    But there were no facial piercings for Dad to fear

    Blondie for Michael's wedding

    You work so hard, and you play the same

    Kris and roomie Olivia drinking like college students should

    It amazes me how you win your game!
    Although below you’re looking a tad bit lame, but I don’t mean to flame :)

    I have no idea?

    So take today and try to chill,
    I send you my love, my heart it does fill

    Chillin' on de beech in Negril May 2005

    Just think, in six months we’ll be back in Negril!!

    Happy Birthday Kris!


    1 Comment May 14, 2006

    Odious . . . (AKA Ode Reload)

    Let it be knowed, no one may freeload uponst my ode, caustic words cannot corrode, witty emails will not erode.

    Why? Because I liked my ode! I glowed as I strode from my abode, never mellowed or sorrowed by anonymous ode goads.

    Continue Leave a Comment September 29, 2005

    Ode to Waffle House (and a discussion of odes in general)

    I was stranded off I-77, one of those lonely crossroads where the interstate crosses a somewhat more prominent county two lane. A very common thing outside the northeast.

    I was about two miles out if town, and not much of a town at that, Statesville, North Carolina population 23,846. The only things there were a couple of budget motels, a GMC Truck dealership and a Waffle House.

    I love Waffle House, it’s one of my foremost guilty pleasures! Anytime I travel in the south, I have my eyes peeled for that bright yellow sign. It’s the first place heading south from Philly where you can get real, non-instant grits, and where else can you get Steak & Eggs with juice and coffee for a measly six bucks?

    MMMMM Steak & Eggs.

    Most Waffle Houses (Waffle Housi) have personality, but the one in Statesville was oozing with the stuff. Open 24 hours, there is always at least one customer who knows everyone in the place, and who loudly converses with all of them, often about matters best kept private. There was a sign with a .357 Magnum circled in red with a line through it, I guess it’s the international anti-domestic violence symbol.

    Bradford the Manager who was usually the waiter and/or the cook was there every time I came in, and I went there a lot. I wouldn’t call him a happy fellow, but he was polite enough and seemed resigned to his place as the Waffleman, dispensing waffley wonderfulness to his fellow mountain folk.

    When I really like a place or a thing, I say to myself, Self, You should write a poem about this place or thing, but not just any poem, no no, an ode. I believe an ode is the best way to show your affection or fascination with any said place or thing.

    Problem is I have no idea what an ode is, so I figured I’d do a little research. OK, very little research.

    I illegally downloaded a Bobbi Gentry song from my childhood called An Ode to Billy Joe, hey it’s an ode. It goes something like, La la la When Billy Joe McAlister jumped off the Tallahatchie bridge and what a disturbing piece of childhood nostalgia it was!

    I looked up The Tallahatchie Bridge on Google and it was none too impressive, but I digress.

    Though my ode research was cut short when Billy Joe McAlister and his bridge jumping depressed the shit out of me, but to me an ode should go something like this:

    Ode to Waffle House

    O’ Waffle House, O’ Waffle House
    How I love thee
    Faithfully at every crossroads south of DC
    Your grease and your charm fill me with glee
    As you old lady waitress fill me with grits and coff-ee

    When I’m far from home you are a welcomed site
    Oh How your big yellow sign brightens the night
    O’ Waffle House, O Waffle House
    To you this I say
    Shine On, Shine On
    Lo’ till judgment day

    I should be in a straight jacket.


    Leave a Comment September 23, 2005


    Procrastination is truly the thief of time
    It takes Now and puts it off
    To where? When?
    Another Now?
    But it is all a construct of mind
    Not real
    It Kills Now, takes it, wastes it
    Takes without leaving anything behind
    Empty waves in time
    Simply missed

    Leave a Comment February 22, 2005

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