Monday, August 31, 2015

The "It's All Relative" Cast Brunch at City Crab

Sooooo…..After spending all day Friday getting my nephew settled in at college, I had oh like….a 4 hour catnap and then I had to be back up at 6am to make the drive back to Newport Centre Mall to return my rental truck by 8am.  I got out of the house at about 6:45am and drove down the West Side Highway to go through the Holland Tunnel to get to Jersey.  I pulled up to the rental place at about 7:30am and all was well.  I got a credit (which is always nice) because I paid for an E-Z pass reader and then got to the GWB and realized that they forgot to put it in my car.  I walked back through the empty mall and sleepily made my way to the PATH train.  I picked up what looked to be a very delicious breakfast creation fresh out of the oven and a cup of coffee and settled in for the train ride back to NYC.  I excitedly opened my breakfast creation and took a bite only to find it was dry and tasteless as hell.  I took a second bite just make sure I wasn’t dreaming (I wasn’t) and put it away to dispose of when I got back to NYC.  Is it me or do the PATH stations deliberately not have trash receptacles because eating is prohibited? (Um…I found this out when I saw the sign posted at the 33rd Street station).  Anywhoo…my coffee was delicious.  I took an uptown bound D train and was truly dreaming of the EPIC NAP I was going to take when I got back home.  I got in around 9am, set my alarm for 12 noon and quickly fell asleep.

My alarm went off and I got up and jumped in the shower to try to wake myself up for the cast brunch that playwright Kimberly “Q” was hosting for the cast of her new play “It’s All Relative”.  The Brunch was being held at City Crab, one of my favorite NYC seafood spots downtown on Park Avenue South. 
I took the back of the A Train to 14th Street, took the 16th Street exit and was immediately jolted back into time by the memory of all of the fantastic birthday parties I had for myself at Rebar Lounge back in the day.  That whole block of old buildings was razed and I barely recognized it now.  But the memories still came anyway.  I took a brief taxi ride across town and when I arrived, Q was waiting at the bar for me.  She informed me that most of the cast had canceled due to prior commitments, so it was just going to be me, her & my cast mate (and fellow Pisces) Gha’il.  We decided to take the booth in the back on the main level and Q ordered a carafe of Grapefruit Mimosas
while we waited for Gha’il & surprise guest WRKS-FM Quiet Storm Host Lenny Green who was coming through for a few late birthday cocktails. Gha’il arrived shortly after we were seated and we just drank, feasted on Lobster Mac & Cheese (SO GOOD) and talked until Lenny arrived.  Q hit me over the head with the news that my beloved City Crab was closing on Sunday (WHAT???) and The Bubble Lounge downtown had already gone out of business a few months earlier.  We both agreed that NYC was (is) steadily losing its “flavor” and for the first in my life I have actually contemplated living somewhere else.

Lenny finally arrived and joined us at our booth.  I think we may have been working on our second carafe of Mimosa’s when he sat down.  I watched him as he greeted Gha’il for the first time and I just KNEW he was going to extend his hand to me like we had never met before (because he NEVER recognizes me without my makeup and when I am wearing my glasses) I gave him the evil eye and smacked his hand away and gave him a hug.  When he sat down I quickly brought him up to speed on how many times he’s met me and how many mutual friends we have….lol.  

The four of us had a lively discussion over more Lobster Mac & Cheese, Seared Ahi Tuna (You KNOW that was mine right?) Calamari and a Lobster (or crab…I can’t remember) Burger (Gha’il) and a Lobster Omelet (which ol Bougie azz Q ordered…lol).

It was a really wonderful afternoon….so wonderful that we didn’t want to leave and tried to order a FOURTH carafe of mimosas AFTER we had already paid our bill.  The Manager bribed us by offering to buy us another round of mimosas if we gave up our booth and moved to the bar (which we did).  Lenny had already left us by the time we got to the bar. 

Gha' fell in love with the bracelet I was wearing and I fell in love with this beautiful butterfly ring that she was wearing.  She suggested that we switch accessories and we could switch back the next time we were together.  I agreed and the ring quickly became my new favorite piece of jewelry!  Gha’il left after that last mimosa at the bar and Q and I sat at the bar making new friends with the ladies seated to our right.  One of them gifted me with a drink that had Gin, Lemonade & Prosecco in it (it was yummy!) when I looked up it was 7:00pm and I knew I had to get out of there to get home, get changed and make my way back downtown for the final event of the evening….Gwen DeVoe’s Private Birthday Celebration at Studio Arte. 

Q and I took a taxi uptown and I dropped her off….and I won’t deny it….I was LIT!!! I haven’t hung out with Q in a very long time and I am going to make sure that it won’t happen again (as in taking years to get together).

Thanks Q for a wonderful afternoon mama, I really enjoyed hanging out with you again!  PISCES RULE!!! Love you!

My Devin heads off to College....

So I had a pretty good but very busy weekend.  I rented a car and drove my nephew Devin up to Broome County Community College.  Devin is my brother’s oldest son and the only child I have ever claimed as my own (Don’t ask).  I picked up a Kia Soul and took my sister & my niece Sam along for the ride.  I had to get up at 6am to take the Path Train to the Newport Center Mall in New Jersey to pick up my car.  After walking around the daggone parking lot for like 20 minutes, I finally found the car rental place.  I was going to get a full sized car but I heard one of the workers mention a Kia Soul so I asked if I could have that one.  I love the Kia Soul but I realized almost immediately that it doesn’t have a whole lot of trunk space if you have 4 people in the car.  We made it work though and at about 10:45 or so the rest of family said their goodbyes to Devin and we pulled off.

I hadn’t had breakfast and apparently neither had anyone else so after about an hour & a half of driving we stopped at a quick mart and purchased sandwiches and snacks for the remainder of the trip.  My sister and I both ordered these 6 inch Italian subs for $2.99 and I must tell you that was the best damn sandwich that I have had in a minute….really.  It was absolutely delicious.

We pulled up to the campus at a little before 2pm got him registered and then drove to his new off campus housing digs (cuz somebody waited till the last minute to do EVERYTHING and all of the dorm space was gone).   After a nice little wait for keys (the realtor got tied up and was delayed for like an hour or so) she finally arrived and we got him settled into his room.   He decided that he needed to take a nap so he passed on going shopping with us for food & basic necessities.  So the three of us got in the truck and first stop at Family Dollar for the necessities….I really should NOT go into Family Dollar because my first impulse is to buy EVERYTHING I SEE (lol).  We shopped for about 40 minutes and then made our way to Wal-Mart for everything else.  If you know me at ALL….then you already know how I feel about Wal-Mart (yup.  I could stay all day).  We passed my Alma Mater Binghamton University on the way to Wal-Mart and I didn't even recognize has expanded and it's HUGE now!  When I was there back in 1979 the only option we had for food within walking distance was Denny's and Sambo's (Yup, Sambo's...don't ask).  Now there are food chains everywhere! By the time we left Wal-Mart he had enough food to last him at least a month and an emergency phone.

We got back to the house to find him refreshed after his “nap” (that I don’t think he ever really took).  We got everything put away and by then it was almost 11pm and we definitely needed to get back on the road, since I was the only one driving.  We took a couple of photos for posterity and give him plenty hugs and kisses (and a few tears from Sam) before we left.  

We made one stop for gas and for the rest of the ride it was pretty much me and my music since my sister was snoring next to me and my niece was so quiet in the back that I don’t even know if she was awake for the trip.

We crossed the GWB at about 1am, I dropped my sister off first and then my niece.  I headed back to Harlem praying that a parking spot would be available.  After circling the block a few times, I actually found a spot right across the street from my house.  Dead tired and knowing I had to be up in the next 4 hours to return the car back to New Jersey and then try to get in a quick nap before my next event...The It's All Relative Cast Brunch at City Crab.

It was a wonderful day and I am very proud of the young man that my nephew has become.  I was a little concerned about him being away from home on his own for the very first time but I realized that like me when I left home for school…he’s very excited about being on his own.  He’s gonna be just fine.

College is the best time of your life.  When else are your parents going to spend several thousand dollars a year just for you to go to a strange town and get drunk every night?  ~David Wood

Sunday, August 23, 2015


Yesterday, I decided to ring up my mom and see if she was interested in attending a screening of a documentary film about Harlem with me.  The film is called "Changing Face of Harlem" and it was directed and produced by my neighbor (and friend) Shawn Batey.

Mom said yes and we decided that we would meet at the venue, which was All Souls Episcopalian Church on St. Nicholas Avenue.  I selected a cute pair of summer slacks in a black/white/yellow print that I had recently copped from an Ashley Stewart Sample Sale and I paired that with a yellow v-neck tee shirt and my old reliable pewter sandals.  Mom arrived via taxi all done up in pale pink and white.  

We made our way to the basement (mom rode the lift and I walked down carrying her walker) and took our seats.  The film which I think was a little over an hour long covered the early beginnings of Harlem and her heyday, the white flight, the heroin years and eventually the black flight during the crack cocaine years.  It brought us all the way up to 2012 when the film ended with the battle to keep the culture and the color in Harlem and the eventual gentrification that's happening currently.

After the film there was a lively discussion about what we watched and how folks felt about what they viewed and what is happening today.  There was quite a bit of diversity in the group that viewed the film with us and the Q&A segment was most enjoyable for both me and my mom.  It's a really great film and if you get a moment, please try to get out and see it, I guarantee you will enjoy it.  Check out their website for info on upcoming screenings and dvd information here:  

Nice work Shawn!  Thanks for inviting us, i'm glad I could finally make it!

Here is the trailer for the film:

Mom was getting antsy because she was hungry so we decided to make our way outside to look for a place to eat.  We narrowed our choices down to Amy Ruth's and Billie's Black.  My mom had never been to Billie's Black before so I suggested she try something new because I have been frequently and I always enjoy myself there.

The owner Adriane Ferguson was outside when our taxi pulled up and she greeted us with a smile and a hug once we got seated.  My mom remembered her instantly from us all being seated at the same table at Eda Francois & Crystal Smith's wedding reception last September.  We also passed on our condolences as we had learned just before arriving that she (Adriane) had recently lost her father.
We chatted for a few moments and then she had to leave.  We decided to go with the Sampler Platter with a side of mac & cheese and collard greens and the Ox Tails.  I am really funny about potato salad (not everyone makes it in a manner that I find to be edible) so I asked our server if I could have a spoonful to taste....(I have done this many times in the past when potato salad is on the menu and I NEVER have a problem with the chef allowing me to taste it first rather wasting a whole order by sending it back because I don't like it).  This did not happen on this particular occasion and I will only say that this particular chef/cook absolutely ruined our dining experience with her horrible attitude and I will leave it at that.  

After we paid our bill, we caught a taxi to the Bronx where we chatted for a bit, I made sure mom was comfortable and resting then I made my way back to Manhattan via the bus (I LOVE the bus y'all....don't ask me why....I just do!) as I was waiting for the connecting bus to take me home, I got a text from my friend Tonya alerting me that she was in my hood and I should come by and get a plate of food and birthday cake from Make My Cake to take home.  So I took a taxi over to 136th Street and met Tonya at the most FABU townhouse near the Schomburg Museum.  I met her family, had a nightcap and hung out for bit..... all the while salivating over of all things....their refrigerator (don't ask).  Tonya dropped me off at home where I had a glass of Sweet Red and wound up watching James Bond movies until about 2am....when I finally made myself go to sleep.

It was a great Saturday afternoon and I love hanging out with my mama!

"My mother's wonderful. To me she's perfection." - Michael Jackson

Thursday, August 20, 2015

My beloved Hudson River Cafe has closed.....

This news comes via the Harlem + Bespoke Blog

Word on the street has it that The Hudson River Cafe (located behind the Fairway Market) has closed.  This is most unfortunate as I loved the brunches & the live bands that played there....I even sang there once (courtesy of Petawane & Bill Foster pulling a fast one on  There was always a really cool vibe there.  The last time I was there I was with Marco Mays & Morris Grey....we had a blast.

Perhaps another restaurant will open was (is) a really cool location....sigh....

For the full deets go here:

All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.    ~Anatole France

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

And from a velvet sky.....A SUMMER COLD!!!!

Just for the record....these "Wiz" references may be around for a prepare yourself. Anywhoo....I think that I may be catching a daggone summer cold.... here are my symptoms and my thoughts:

  • Scratchy throat (could be allergies...taking a shot of echinacea)
  • Sneezing (could also be allergies..another a shot of echinacea)
  • Post Nasal Drip (Yup.  Could be allergies too)
  • Clogged Nose (mmm hmm....pesky allergies perhaps?)
  • Coughing repetitively from the DEPTHS OF MY SOUL???  (HUH? .... AW HELL NO!!!!)


We'll see how it goes.....sigh....NO one wants a cold...but a cold in the middle of Summer during a HEAT WAVE???  Just miserable.....


I tried to write a poem last night
But my head was too foggy
And my eyes too watery
Then my nose started running
I still haven't caught it
- Erin Lewis