Tagged: New York City


All around the web, people are reminiscing about Hurricane Sandy a year after it devastated Lower Manhattan. A decade and a bit after the same neighborhood took another critical blow from 9/11,  it was just as hard for a lot of businesses to cope. The South Street Seaport, particularly the Fulton Street strip and Pier 17, were  still ghost towns when we visited this past March


Fulton Street, still boarded up.

One of our favorite downtown pubs, the Heartland Brewery, was a cosy unpretentious destination for excellent craft beers and high-class finger foods, tucked underneath the overpasses of downtown. A flight of beers and some luridly multicolored nachos were an excellent way to pass a rainy afternoon.

Your hostess outside the Heartland on a rainy day in 2010.

Heartland beer flight.

Garish nachos, plus Heartland’s famous and addictive Buffalo chicken spring rolls.

Post-Sandy, the wreckage was extreme.

The unrecognizable restaurant area.


The hopeless chaos of the main bar.

There are other Heartland locations throughout Manhattan, with similar menus and the same first-rate beers (try the Red Rooster Ale or the Not Tonight, Honey Porter) but they all fee more corporate and touristy, and none have the intimate neighborhood gathering-place feel of the Fulton Street one.

Thankfully, development has begun on resuscitating the Seaport, so perhaps some day it will be back its old glory.

You know what my favorite thing to do at the Seaport was? Sit and mellow out. On the upper deck was a row of lounge chairs, and you could veg there all day if you were so inclined. Reading, listening to music, or just watching the boats, the birds, and the Brooklyn Bridge. It was a small outpost of peace amid the commerce and touristing.

Brooklyn Bridge with seagull.

Brooklyn Bridge with seagull.


New York City Opera, RIP.


Your humble hostess with Samuel Ramey in New York City Opera’s Anna Bolena, 1980. Photo Credit: Beth Bergman

On 11 September (yes, really), 1980. I made my professional stage debut in the mute and uncredited role of Elizabeth in Donizetti’s Anna Bolena, at the New York City Opera. I was six, and on stage with me were Olivia Stapp, Samuel Ramey, and Rockwell Blake. For the entire run of performances and rehearsals, I earned a princely fee of $ 39.45, after taxes. It was to alter the course of my life in ways I couldn’t even comprehend back then.

After a glorious 70-year history of triumphs, tragedies, iconic performances, some rotten luck, some labor difficulties, and a whole heap of boneheaded decisions, City Opera is filing for bankruptcy.

Kinda depressed about this right now. If my thoughts coalesce into anything rational I’ll write them down. I might also try and get my scanner working so I can share a bit of NYCO memories and ephemera.

And always remember that there are lots of other small opera companies, projects and competitions in the New York area that are worthy of  your patronage.

Going to stalk YouTube for a while. See ya’s.

Wafels and Dinges.



I was reminded of the marvelous Wafels and Dinges earlier today. It’s a Belgian snack truck in New York City that sells waffles, of course, in two styles, and other acoutrements thereto. You can get them sweet or savory or any combination. The version pictured above is topped with spekuloos, a peanut-butter textured paste made of crushed ginger biscuits and quite the most craveable sweet goo since Nutella.

On the day this photograph was taken, the truck was down in the Financial District. I took my hot, fluffy, fragrant waffle and walked over to Zuccotti Park, where I savored it while making ostentatiously loud lip-smacking noises in front of the Occupy Wall Street campers.

They had their tie-dyed t-shirts and protest signs and righteous indignation.

I had a Belgian waffle.

I won.

Self stuff.

I have updated my About page with some FAQ, which I will edit from time to time. I hope you find them useful or at least moderately interesting.

Also, if anyone gets the urge to buy me a gift, my Amazon wish list now has its own tab. There are lots of digital Kindle items if you don’t want to pay extortionate Amazon shipping for solid stuff.

Big Nick’s.

Last month a true New York institution closed its doors for the last time.


Big Nick’s Burger Joint and Pizza Joint were the kind of old-school eatery to whom the phrase “greasy spoon” barely begins to apply. There was a palpable griminess to the tables, benches, and countertops. The  encyclopedic menus bore the stains of countless thousands of diners past. Grumpy waitresses would take your order, sometimes snorting with disdain if they disapproved of your choices. Not long afterward, you’d be presented with one of the finest burgers in the five boroughs, or perhaps a perfect pizza of the old-school Neapolitan-American variety.


The best thing about Nick’s was it was open 24 hours a day. If the urge for solid food hit you after a night of ferocious drinking, you could go in there at 4:30AM and get a meal as soul-satisfying as any to be had in town. A pizza, a burger, a grilled-cheese sandwich, a gyro, or an omelette. All at the least tasty, at the most sublime.

A rent hike has forced their closure after 50 years of serving drunks, insomniacs, and plain old lovers of good cheap food. Rumor has it that they may be relocating uptown. Until that day, I thank Nick for the great food and the memories.

Shawn has more reminiscences.