The Witty Wordsmith

New York, late winter, the sky is an intense shade of grey. The trees remained bare of any lively bright leaves. In the midst of the eerie grey, a remarkable bit of sunshine played peek-a-boo behind a rainy cloud.

On such an idyllic winter’s day, I set off on foot for St. Nicholas Park in Harlem. It’s a most wonderful park, which fades into hilly fields of green. Regardless of the cold, I’ve always adored sitting on a park bench and reading a good book. Quality time with a book is my ideal form of therapy. I fade into a character’s shoes and forget any of the day troubles.

On one riveting expedition, I sought a most wonderful park bench. As, I picked a perfect little spot for literary madness, the cold winds penetrated through my layers, and pea coat.

For once in my life, I shivered. The goose bumps on my arm grew more sensitive. At that point, I had to look elsewhere for a romantic date with my used book from the Strand bookstore.

I wandered through Harlem’s Hamilton’s Heights neighborhood. It’s the perfect backdrop for any quirky film (Wes Anderson’s Royal Tenenbaums was filmed there). The brownstones are eccentric yet sophisticated characters in their own right.

The hills have provided an escape from the quintessentially Manhattan painting. Bay windows, dramatic stoops and old world charm could inspire poets, painters and playwrights of life to create a proper work of art.

While heading up the hill toward Broadway, I was craving a hot chocolate from the Chipped Cup (my favorite coffee shop, uptown). On that pleasantly quiet Sunday, everyone had the same idea.

The quaint coffee shop was filled with patrons. I was disappointed, since I just wanted was to read a good book. So, I headed back down to 145 street.

To my disappointed, Dunkin Donuts was also filled to the brim with people. I didn’t want to go back to my apartment, since I was really craving a coffee shop. Instead of giving up hope, I took an unexpected turn.

The Eighth avenue subway provided the ears with a classic sound, which only a raspy record player could rival. I found my reading spot, a seat on the subway platform. Even though, the subway has many distractions, I’ve always found it an easy place to concentrate on a book there.

When the A train arrived, I boarded it merrily. I even found a seat. However, distraction found me. “Why don’t you put a chip in me, so you know where I am at all times, said a girlfriend to an equally angry boyfriend. They fought. They whole train watched. Trying to hold back laughter, I tried very hard to not loose concentration on my book.

The arguing heightened into theatrical satire. “Fuck it, I can’t think with this racket going on. At least, there aren’t break-dancers on this train, ” said I. “Showtime,” yelled a boy with a boom box.” Break-dancers with a giant boom box appeared from the blue to everyone’s annoyance.

My eyes didn’t leave my book. Anyhow, my brain was completely distracted. I made it to West 4th Street. Randomly, I decided a cannoli would be amazing.

So, I boarded the F train to Second Avenue and ended up in the East Village. I headed up First Avenue and into the old world charm of Veniero’s (legendary dessert restaurant in the East Village). I ordered a cannoli and opted for a cappuccino rather than a hot chocolate.

I took out my book and found a swell place to concentrate. It only took a long walk, two trains and another somewhat long walk to find my literary Zen. Regardless, my literary Zen was a whole lot better with a delicious cannoli accompanying it.

Film School Nerd

Every great civilization and individual, experiences the dreadful dark ages. From this time of recession, a renissance of art & self-expression is typically cultivated. In the dark ages, otherwise known as high school, I underwent my own time of recession.

On a simply gorgeous spring day, my mom uttered the words, which would change my life. “You’re grounded. I saw your report card. Are you daydreaming too much again?” I shook my head. “No.” In actuality, I was jet setting into the land of daydreams, where fashion, interesting people and cappuccinos ran wild.

“No TV, no movies and absolutely no music,” said mom. My eyes grew wide open with fear. What’s my life without a riveting CD collection to keep my right brain in creative/arty mod? I read books, which luckily were not banned. However, I had to find a way to keep my stimulation away from Bermuda Triangle of boredom.

In the common world of American high-school students, I grew up in a cluster of track homes. I took my walks after school along an undeveloped land. It was a little hostess cupcake of nature, until I stared to the left of me. Freeways and more track homes reminded me, ” oh yes, I really do live in suburbia, tear, tear.” As the dust flowed into skies of grey, I decided to say  “Fuck it, I am going to write a movie.”

Not yet acclimated to lap tops, my father took me to the drug store. I bought a pair of inexpensive notebooks and a few magazines. Turning the dull notebooks into a lively piece of art, I cut out high fashion advertisements from the magazines. I then started working on my screenplay.

“Breakfast in New York, Lunch in London, Dinner in Tokyo,” was the title. It was a witty romantic comedy about a journalist doing a story on a jet setting Central Park West socialite. Act I was the typical “boy meets girl” fare. I plugged away with my pen, turning the white bland pages into a world filled with glamour and wit.

While suburban surroundings left me with a lack of stimuli, I turned to my characters’ lives for escapism. There were escapades in Madrid, polo matches in England. Quickly, my characters arrived in ACT II. The story progressed in Paris. In a most cliché manner, the journalist and socialite fell in love with the twinkling lights of the Eiffel Tower bursting into romance.

By act III, the story hit a less than fabulous speed bump. While digging through my backpack, I noticed act I went missing. It was nothing, but a silly notebook. However, as I writer it was though a body organ had gone into oblivion. I cried and realized the emotional connection I had with my work.

The next morning, I bravely asked my Spanish professor if I had left my notebook in class. He nodded “yes.” Fireworks exploded from my head in joyful glee. By the look on his face, I could tell he didn’t approve of the Versace ad adorning the cover, which made me feel very, very hip. The saga of “Breakfast in New York, Lunch in London, Dinner in Tokyo” commenced.

Act III took place in Tokyo, where the journalist loses the socialite’s love. He regains and they live happily ever after. At the end, they both ride camels into the sunset with a backdrop of Egyptian pyramids. After writing an entire 3 act film in long hand, I considered my fete, a huge accomplishment. I thought it was a film that could be made and change the world, even though it was formulaic romantic comedy.

Eventually, I was let go from being grounded. The whole screenwriting experience led me to film school, where I received a BA in film. I didn’t grow up to be the next Quentin Tarantino, Wes Anderson or Sophia Coppola. Instead, I found my calling in advertising.

Today, I work in the creative department of an advertising firm, with the goal of becoming a copywriter. I live in my own New York City apartment and enjoy the very stimulating environment. While my teachers and mom complained about my daydreaming, as I grew into a writer, I realized it’s called “being creative.”

My Very Own Mary Poppins Bag

Marie Antoinette’s lavish wig collection, traveling banjo players and a used copy of Catcher in the Rye, would fit perfectly in Mary Poppin’s bag. The unique fashion item, featured in both the film and book are a hoarder’s dream. You could fit your whole life in there, then take a magical umbrella and fly around London.

Years ago, I wandered around New York with my Pan Am messenger bag. Like Mary Poppins bag, I too thought that everything including the kitchen sink could fit in. Old copies of the New York Times, snacks, a notebook, a couple books and an iPod charger were placed in strategically. Then one day, I found out that bags break.

While walking in SoHo, I felt my bag lower and then rip. I nearly cried. I ended up with a new bag and decided to make it a shrine to organizational thinking, which lasted 15 minutes, just like fame. After years, with a messenger bag, I switched over to having a backpack again. I felt like a college kid again. Then my backpack felt like an elephant was living in its tight quarters.

Therefore, I wondered New York without a bag. Then one day, after coming home from gay bingo, I noticed my pockets. They were filled to the brim with crap. “So, I decided the time had come to invest in a bag.

One afternoon, I stopped by the Strand. It’s one of my favorite bookstores in the city. I wanted one of their easy to carry, colorful tote bags, which they are renowned for. The smell of old books welcomed me into the old shop, like lavender on a spring’s day. A particular bag stood out from the rest.

William Shakespeare, Emily Bronte, Jane Austen, Oscar Wilde, Homer, Herman Melville looked more like mighty super heroes, than dead writers. Growing up, their words inspired me to not only drift away into imagination land, but also take on writing. Emily Bronte and Jane Austen spoke to me “Love, buy the bag, it might inspire you having writers tagging along on your every New York adventure.”

“You might be inspired to write the next Pride Prejudice,” said Jane. ” Or Wuthering Heights, dear,” replied Emily. “Ye ol boy, buy the bag and then a notebook to write a saucy sonnet.” said dearest William. ” Just buy the bloody bag and don’t go before the wallpaper,” said Oscar. Herman and Homer simply zapped me. Soon, I bought the bag. The literary superheroes cheered.

I took my tote bag everywhere with me. They adored the New York adventures as much as I did. Having a smaller bag also meant, I was forced to only put a few items in. Sorry Mary Poppins you can keep your magical bag, I love life with my tote.

The Leaves Of Central Park

Gold leaves, brown leaves, fiery red leaves

buried in snow, covered in dirt.

Sun shining over a pristine lake, sledding the impossible terrain.

Red leaves, gold leaves, dirt covered brown leaves

floating through the sky.

Looking for a home in the wind.

Brown leaves, red leaves, solid gold leaves wondering in New York.

Flying toward the pavement, but eventually falling into green grass.

59th And Lex

The New York City subway is a collection of memories, personalities and plenty of active germs. Unlike most American cities, the subway provides quality time away from being alone and feeling encapsulated in a car. Instead, we not only catch up on the latest news and fun tunes, but leave high stress levels and honking horns to our very own cab drivers.

Throughout my time riding the subway, I have read wonderful books, shared plenty of laughs with friends & even made eye contact with the most adorable men. However, there are those times when the subway is filled with unexpected moments.

I would catch the N train at 59th & Lex below Bloomingdale’s. It was always a mad dash down the staircase and into the N train to Queens. I usually arrived at the station in time to walk toward the end of the train, which featured a plentiful amount of seats. One evening, I ran down the staircase only to see the train had arrived and I quickly dashed into the middle of the train before it left.

There wasn’t a seat or available pole to grab onto. Thanks to the evening rush hour. Utilizing my tippy toes, I supported myself by placing my hand on the subway’s ceiling. “This shouldn’t be too bad,” I thought to myself. I cranked up the Violent Femmes and away I went into charming Queens. The first couple seconds were a piece of cheesecake.

Euphoria didn’t last long, as the subway went under the East River. There were many twists and turns, soon I was struggling to keep a hold of my balance and not fall into the crowd.  I squinted my eyes and increased my hand to ceiling hold as the train emerged onto the Queensboro Bridge. Manhattan looked like OZ from a distance, dazzling and austere.

Not so austere was the final descent into the Queensboro Plaza station. I nearly lost my grip and fell. When the train let out passengers, who then bolted into the awaiting 7 train, I quickly took a seat. Never had a subway seat felt so amazing. Off, I went into Astoria. A few minutes ago, I was in agony and then my subway adventure just turned into “New York moment # 1,250, 200 and counting.

Sidewalks Of London

London has some of the world’s most memorable streets. The hilly streets of Hampstead, money infused Knightsbridge and gritty Whitechapel provide the eye with a distinct polaroid of time gone by and the capital’s modern hustle bustle. The ride into London from Heathrow has always provided me with an air of excitement.

On my trips to London as a teenager, red brick buildings lined the streets of Marylebone. The hues of green from London’s many parks gave the city love of rouge hues a bit of extraordinary character. I remember the excitement, I felt surrounded by a land, which looks so different from my own. The Georgian architecture, roaring double decker buses and a melting pot of faces wearing the most edgy and proper outfits.

My feet almost smiled in delight. When I would arrive at my hotel, the euphoria kicked in. I would jump out of the cab and step into London soil. Breathing in, the icy air was the equivalent of taking nostalgia of time gone by. I wasted no time in exploring the city.

As a twenty-something, my love affair with London never diminished. Though my temporary neighborhood changed, the thrill of being in the capital remained. In Notting Hill with its many cafes, post-card worthy squares and the distinct white stucco architecture inspired my inner writer for a week’s time.

The streets of London had inspired many of the world’s literary greats. Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde & Virginia Woolf breathed that same icy, but creative air and were inspired by the maze of sidewalks.

Through they’re writing old London still lives in libraries and bookshelves around the world. For me, walking through the capital is the equivalent of listening to both classical and rock music. There will always be a proper & grungy aspect, which tickles the inspiration nerve giving way to great art of all forms.

Calles De Madrid

For years, I dreamed of traveling to Spain. It interested me greatly. However, I couldn’t afford it. One day, my dad surprised me and said “let’s go to Madrid” for Christmas. I beamed in excitement from ear to ear.

After buying my tickets, I daydreamed of Spain. I would go to the library and read up on the land of Don Quixote, Pedro Almodovar, flamenco dancing, tapas and siestas (naps in the middle of the day).

When we finally arrived in Madrid, feeling jet lagged. We tried keeping the romance flame alive. “You’re room is not ready yet,” said the handsome man at the hotel’s front desk. “What? No nap,” then it dawned on me. I can nap in America. This is Madrid. My dad was equally exhausted. However, we marched out of the hotel and into the streets of the Spanish capital.

Madrid felt like a glamorous old city. The buildings were ornate and taller than I anticipated. A hazy sun played along the sidewalk. Even the walls lining El Parque del Retiro (Madrid’s Central Park) had an old cosmopolitan feel to them. I suggested we go to El Prado Museum. My dad thought it was too early, but I convinced him other wise. Walking from our hotel on Calle de Goya to the Prado was an experience.

The sidewalks were filled with women in lavish fur coats, men dressed in traditional suits and street-fashion clad young people. Hair salons were covered in blue lighting, which flashed brightly against the equally ocean hued covered skies. We reached the Prado.

As expected, it was a wonderland of Spanish art. After our visit, book- stands were set up. Volumes of books from Spanish, American and British authors lined the sidewalks like organized pigeons looking for breadcrumbs.

The roar of traffic progressed as the city was further awaken. While the car horns provided a soundtrack, people traffic increased. We forgot about our jet lag. Our hotel room was finally ready, but we wanted to explore more.

We took our first Madrid metro ride to Puerta del Sol, had a delicious Cuban dinner and then ended up in Madrid’s gay heart, Chueca. As we roamed the streets of Chueca, my dad looked at his watch. It was 3 am and we officially earned our title as night owls. It was a great bonding experience, not so lovely was trying to catch a cab at that hour.

After staying up nearly 24 hours, I had a difficult time getting used to the Spanish schedule. Being American everything is not so late night. However, in Spain, my inner insomniac wandered around and had a marvelous time, drinking sangria under the moonlight. I haven’t been back to Madrid in years, but have fond memories of our family journey.

The Pleasant Frontier

In New York, relaxation is an absolute joke. Who wants to take it easy? There’s tons of work to do, friends to meet, plays to write, operas to see, restaurants to try and books to read. New York is no French Rivera. However, for a few minutes a day that city transforms into St. Tropez.

From Bryant Park to Tompkins Square Park lies New York’s rendition of a five star resort, the park bench. For a brief moment in time, New Yorkers exhale from the daily grind. They sip on some coffee, read the Times and forget about the intense sounds of car horns and sirens.

I always enjoyed my park benches. Whenever, I wanted to drown out the world around me, I put on some music, took out a note pad and just doodled. Real world stresses went out the window for the few precious minutes. After a short holiday on the city’s many benches, the overwhelming feeling of relaxation permeated as I head to work.

My park bench retreat often followed me on holiday as well. I’d find quiet little corners in Tokyo away from the music videos on the big screens, people traffic and metro.

In London, I would typically take the tube up to Hampstead. On Hampstead high street, which resembles a hilly village with upmarket shops, I lounged on a favorite bench. I loved the calm and how enchanting the cold winds felt against my face. It was especially nice being away from busy tourist spots.

Holidays are typically expensive and require car/air travel. Finding a nice bench with book, newspaper and coffee has a momentary sense of escapism. It’s free relaxation without a yoga mat or passport needed.

The Playwright’s Muse

From London’s West End to New York’s Broadway, theatre marquis represent escapism. Delving into an alternate universe where the lyrics of Stephen Sondheim, Agatha Christie’s words and Patti LuPone’s singing voice provide the memories, which sculpt the theatre going experience.

I’ve written various short three act plays in my day. In university, I studied the plays of Lorraine Hansberry, Oscar Wilde and Neil Simon. I loved the art of writing dialogue, but most of all; creating a world for my beloved neurotic and colorful characters.

My settings were diverse. A psychologist’s Murray Hill office, driving in a London highway and even the white wig spawns of Marie Antoinette were all been born from my brain cells and brought to life via 8.5 x 11 inch paper. I love delving into the character, creating their early life, neurosis, medical conditions and even what their fart smells like. Pairing them with antagonists who oppose their world is truly remarkable. Unlike French drama, the American in me loves a witty and happy ending.

I prefer plays. The rush of the curtains rising, audience members’ eyes glowing with anticipation and the thunder of the music indicating a show’s start have brought me to the balcony of theaters from Madrid to New York.

Musicals are that form of theatre, which I have a love/hate relationship with. Singing about a lost turkey sandwich isn’t for me. I’ve always wanted to learn how to write musical. I secretly moonlighted the idea of writing a small and non-lavish musical. Cabaret, Avenue Q and Fiddler on the Roof are those select musicals, which I adore. Therefore, I fancy the creativity behind Avenue Q’s foul-mouthed puppets and the historical value behind Cabaret and Fiddler.

As I grow older and walk past the old theatre marquis, the desire to write plays persists. Writing a play is a holiday from the norm. While life may seem monotonous, predictable and regimented, with playwriting I could go as bizarre as I desire. If I want to drift into 1950’s New York, the Italian Renaissance and French Revolution, my imagination can take me there, no passport or airline ticket required.

Traffic Jam Of The Poetic Mind

Haiku, narrative, soliloquies make my heart pound with beautifully illustrated words. Poetry is therapy for the grid locked brain. This is a form of writing which is expressive and all around fun. Like most interesting experiences in life, I fell into poetry rather than seeking it out.

As a high school student, my mom grounded me for a month. Due to a bad report card, I could not watch TV or listen to music. Home became a four-wall hellhole. In order break free, I had to rely on my own creativity to substitute for cool tunes. During that time, we were studying poetry in school.

During my month confinement, I discovered the Harlem renaissance through Langston Hughes’ eloquent words. The Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman and Maya Angelou’s poetry opened up my senses like spicy Indian curry on a rainy London night. Not only, did I admire many poets I also wanted to write my own poetry.

Growing up in a very traditional American home, I had a curiosity about the world outside my own community. It inspired my poetry. I wrote about Paris, Cubism, cigarette smoking, the Mediterranean and even homoerotic thoughts. I kept all my poetry quietly hidden in a three whole notebook with a Versace advertisement as the cover.

My goal was to share my poetry. I went to my first open mic night in college. The poets were grand. It was in the basement of this old independent coffee house. In the middle of summer, it was a gathering place for humidity and intense heat along with free thinkers.

However, poetry served as an exodus for the uncomfortable conditions. The poets were very talented and even performed free-style rap and songs they wrote, which intensified the poetic experience.

They were a tough act to follow up, but I gave it a shot. I went up on stage and was schvitizing (sweating) under the bright spot light. The crowd had faded into the darkness.

The first couple seconds of my story of rhymes was intimidating, but then I warmed up to the idea and soon my confidence grew. I made it through my first poetry reading. The audience applauded as I whipped the sweat off my brow.

From then on I continued with poetry readings. The open mic stages of obscure basements felt as cozy as my modest New York apartment.

As I grew older, I also expanded my appreciation for poets, reading the works of Allen Ginsberg, Sylvia Plath and Gertrude Stein. The four wall confinement I experienced as a youth brought a revival of creative thinking. Therefore bringing my mind from traffic jammed Fifth Avenue to a speedy Downtown 4 express train.

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