“Snoopy! Join the parade!”

Manhattan User’s Guide.com – whose e-newsletters I get and love – had a helpful history of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which we five attended, overlooking it from our 4th floor office space at 36th and Broadway (doesn’t get much better than that except for 34th and Broadway…):

Thanksgiving Day Parade
November 21, 2007
The first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was in 1924, a long route that started at 145th and Convent and stretched to 34th Street. They borrowed some animals from the Central Park Zoo to liven things up. The giraffe had to stay home because it wouldn’t fit under the elevated tracks.After the first couple of parades, when it became apparent that the animals weren’t as kid-friendly as Macy’smight have liked, they asked theatrical designer Tony Sarg to come up with some animal-shaped balloons. Felix the Cat, one of the first, was made at the Goodyear Tire company in Akron, Ohio in 1927.For a few years the balloons were released after the parade and anyone who found one was entitled to a reward at Macy’s. But this was stopped in 1933 after a student pilot stalled her engine over Jamaica Bay trying to snag a cat balloon and two tugboats in the East River tore the dachshund balloon apart.By 1934, Walt Disney characters such as Mickey Mouse and Pluto joined the parade. During WWII, the rubber balloons were donated to the war effort and the parade didn’t resume until 1947. It then began to develop as we know it: floats, celebrities, bigger and better balloons, and national TV coverage.

The boys, who had spent all of one night in Manhattan after a six-hour trip from Massachusetts the day before, were arisen at 6:50 a.m. to be able to leave the apartment at 7:30, no later, so we could get down to midtown and work our way through the huddled masses whose strollers often blocked the way and where Dunkin’ Donuts coffee cups littered the streets and flowered atop the garbage cans.112507pabloprdr.jpg

The weather was unseasonably warm (mid-50s), so windows were opened in our office and on floors above and in buildings around us.  This also made for perfect paper airplane conditions (read:  “temptations”), yet most launches did hyperspace dives down to the ground and crowds, and one skinned the blushing cheek of a teenage girl with the 150-strong National Cheerleading Association who was waving her pom-poms at a Hispanic couple from Bayside standing behind the police barricades.  (I had seen a couple of these visiting cheerers and their coach on the subway a day earlier; the older lady was clutching the subway map…smiling…or terrified…not sure which.)

So before long the police came to our floor to tell us to close all windows, that having no child-safety window guards was an administrative breach in itself blahblahblah, as Cousin Martin from Texas would say.  (My landlord has installed window guards in our apartment because of the kids and apparently already complained to the neighbors downstairs about the cost.  I would smell a rent increase next November, except that our lease has the option to renew at the same rate.)

The previous night, Wednesday, we had walked down to Big Nick’s Burger Joint/Pizza Joint at 77th and Broadway, which is about nine blocks from home and to which I was duly impressed that the boys ventured with minimum complaint; I had expected groans and moans like those of the Israelites having been “liberated” from Egypt only to find that the desert was not all that the brochure had made it out to be.  But we arrived and found a table outside for five, last one available, and ordered cheeseburgers and pizza.  We were served by no fewer than three harried waiters, none of whom actually seemed to care that after three of us were served, the other two were not for some time, neither had we ketchup, mustard or salt.  We put on some attitude (just enough) and a little volume and were promptly served the remainder of our victuals.

The big news is:  the Freeman boys like New York pizza.  And Big Nick’s pizza at that.  Were this not the case, not only would we have a culinary emergency on our hands – for the boys’ standard menu of PB&J by Mom and pizza from Essex Pizza would be dramatically reduced, like by 50% – but also there would be a scandal that My Heirs would not like New York pizza.  I would not be able to frequent the same social places.  Barbers might sharpen their scissors a little too closely.  Dogs would growl at me on the street.  Ladies would faint, and stars would collapse into black holes.

Yet, the boys liked it.  So normal celestial orbits and equilibrium are maintained.112507blackholecnn.jpg

On the way home we stopped at H&H Bagels – cash only – to pick up breakfast, and I was in time to stop in also at Zabar’s to get a 1/4 pound of Novo salmon for my bagel-and-cream-cheese.  (To tell the truth, it was good, but a little too fishy for my tastes first thing in the morning.  I much preferred Big Nick’s pizza.)

photos:  pabloprdr, CNN


Noisy neighbors

The apartment we rented as of November 1 has no curtains yet (Karen and the boys have not moved in, and K has not put her feminine touch on things), and so I have been changing clothes in the dark.

I also am walking very carefully, without shoes, as every footstep on the bare wood floors most certainly would have echoing effects.  The vents that allow forced air throughout the apartment birthed the landlord’s policy of no pets and no smoking inside the building (the latter which is a good thing since cigarette smoke smells much worse than a wet basset hound), and it also means that conversation and piano scales practiced by the ten-year-old one floor below carry quite liberally to our place.349-w-84.jpg

This is all fine by me.

The jury is out, though, how the Lovely K will find this arrangement and how our neighbors will find the arrangement of three young boys above them.  (The boys do have the top floor of this duplex, so their wrestling and antics will be mainly over our heads.)  As I said, there are one if not two children below, and this is a blessing, for whatever sounds of internecine war or parental murderous rage coming from above will be interpreted with more of a knowing mind by the parents below than if there was – say – a middle-aged bachelor postal worker who hated loud noises and had a cabinet filled with semi-automatic weapons.

At 50 East 96th Street, Mrs. Robinson in 5B apparently always called up to my parents in 6B to tell us to hush up.  Honestly, I don’t know what she expected my mom to do in colder months, when we couldn’t go to Central Park or play baseball in the alley that separated us from 60 East.  We’d play in the hall next to the elevator, with tennis balls that no doubt bounced off the heavy but resonating doors of 6A, 6C and 6D, or we’d wrestle in the 50-foot long hallway in our apartment.  Boys are like Jack Russell Terriers:  you have to give them an outlet for their energy.  Our next door neighbors were all more accommodating than Mrs. Robinson, but then again she was about 120 years old at the time and probably wanted to live out her remaining 30 years in relative peace and quiet.

The man who moved into 6D once Mr. Gorman died or moved out was a former top executive at Outside magazine who went into M&As in the publishing field.  He let me come to his office when I was fresh out of college and helped me send out resumes to companies, one of which – Wiley – ultimately hired me.  I don’t remember his name but only that he was a handsome brunette fellow, his wife was a beautiful blonde, and they had two kids and a golden retriever.  Basically, your family photo from Outside.

Our pet, a cat named Oreo, did not make the cut with the new policy we’re living under.  This caused no small consternation – understandably – in our family, even five minutes after I signed our lease and committed $12,300 to secure the apartment.  (This is a combination of a certain number of months’ worth of rent and security deposit.  I’ll let you do the math.)

In the end, we agreed that it would be best that Oreo have a different home from a NYC apartment.  One from which he can escape from time to time, hunt for birds, or at least look out the window and pretend he is a hunter taking a rest.