Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Inwood Haiku

From the Inwood Kids Yahoo Group a Haiku thread has arisen. I will try to remember to credit where poets have signed their name. I will not use email handles:

What is this I hear?
A community garden?
Hope springs eternal!

The April spring thaw
Reveals dog poop on sidewalk
Curb your animal

I like your haiku
Would that we could make all posts
in this form of verse
-Amy (me)

Bird Nerd = Good
Crazy Bird Guy = Bad
life is in balance
- Keith

Rogue Mr. Softee
Has just been taught a lesson
Now back to my nap

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Farewell, My Friends

Oh, Lucy
Oh, Ricky
Oh Ethel & Fred
You’ve given me such joy these the past several months
No matter what the weather
No matter what my mood
I could always count on the four of you to be there
In your spot on the bank
Unafraid of human proximity
In fact, seeming to court it.

Sometimes I fed you,
Mostly I just marveled at how
Among dozens of ducks and geese
You four were unique.
White feathers set you apart from a sea of brown and grey.
Lucy and Ricky with your red-flecked bills,
And Fred and Ethel with your touches of black—
Two couples, forever together
You meandered about with seeming contentment.

But now I find you do not belong here.
Park rangers with nets plot your capture.
It’s for your own good, of course.
Domesticated ducks not meant for the wilds of our park,
You were left to fend for yourselves
By some “Live Poultry” villain.
And soon they will take you away
To Animal Control.

I watch as a ranger
Sneaks through the reeds.
He silently swings his net
But you all sputter away,
Eluding captivity--
At least for now,
But it’s only a matter of time.
In fact, I think, perhaps you are already gone.

I thought this would be your home for good.
I thought I would see my son chase after you next summer—
He toddling, you waddling—
But I guess that’s not meant to be.
We'll miss you, my friends.
Quack, quack and adieu.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Musings on Merchants

Since I got some grief for my last posting because I mentioned a couple of chain stores I’d like to see in Inwood, I thought I’d dedicate this post to our local merchants—the ones I like, the ones I LOVE and the ones that deserve an honorable mention.

Grandpa’s—as I said in my last post, we are just crazy about their pizza. I favor the meatball topping. And I love how they get into the holiday spirit with their elaborate displays.

Park Terrace Deli—A great bodega with neat, orderly shelves and a friendly, helpful staff who will go out of their way to help you find what you are looking for. Also, their deli sandwiches for delivery are delicious!

John’s Doo Wop Deli—while I don’t patronize this deli as often as the Park Terrace, it’s always a treat to stop by…mostly because I have a crush on John. At least I think it’s John the proprietor who is always singing to himself and who greets me warmly. One of these days I must try one of those specialty party subs!

Ray’s Barber Shop—I don’t get my haircut there but hubbie does and he really enjoys Ray and the other fellow who works in the shop. He also gets a kick out of one of the neighborhood characters we have dubbed “Flat top Barbershop Guy” who we see all over Inwood but who spends a lot of time hanging out at Ray’s.

The Piper’s Kilt—Sadly, my days of taking up stool space in bars are ending but if they weren’t, the Kilt is where I’d be. The burgers are as yummy as their boastful signs say and the atmosphere is undeniably inviting—especially around Christmas when those over-the-top decorations come out!

Apex Hardware—Hubbie goes here for supplies for his various household projects. And while they don’t always have everything he needs, he keeps going back because the guys who work there are so amiable and they always remember who he is (and what he’s working on this week!)

JC World—You may not recognize the name (I didn’t know it until just last week) but this is the tiny little Stationery store on Broadway. A neighbor told us that that literally every time she has gone in there looking for something, they’ve had it. So far, I’ve found that to be true—from thank you notes to photo paper to finger paints, they’ve helped me out. And now that I no longer have an office, it’s where I do my copying & faxing!

Park Terrace Bistro—I still don’t understand how the name conjures up Mediterranean food (it doesn’t) but the cous cous can’t be beat. In fact, all the dishes I’ve had there have been wonderful and it’s so warm and romantic. Hubbie & I had a Valentine’s dinner there one year and there was a fresh rose on each table. Very sweet.

Garden Café/Park View Café—The food at the Garden Café isn’t as good as at Park Terrace, but it’s stroller friendly and who doesn’t love out door dining? Plus, the live music they often have is a nice touch. I’ve only eaten once at its sister restaurant, the Park View Cafe on Dyckman (same owners I’ve been told) but it was a terrific place to have breakfast (and it was packed!) Sadly they couldn’t satisfy my craving for Belgian waffles when I was pregnant though.

Inwood Pharmacy—frankly, the display of Christian paraphernalia in front of the pharmacist’s counter terrifies me and I continue to use Rite Aid as my main drug store. But twice now I’ve needed medicine right away (different kinds) and Rite Aid was going to make me wait several days. Inwood Pharmacy had the medicines in stock and filled my prescriptions immediately. They were quick and efficient. If I didn’t have to have a little Jesus with my pharmaceuticals I would go there first.

K&R Florist—they were really helpful when hubbie wanted to surprise me with an apartment filled with roses upon returning from our honeymoon. They’ve also bailed me out when I needed bouquets for actresses in the Broadway shows I’ve worked on because they’re open on Sundays. Oh, and I like the little bird that lives in there!

Ctown—the only chain store on this list. I used to whine that Ctown doesn’t carry some of the gourmet and organic products I like and I have often wished for a Fairway or a Whole Foods to come to Inwood. But the managers of this Ctown are so kind and conscientious that they’ve really won me over. If you ask for something they don’t carry, they may even order it for you (they did for us!)

Of course, there are plenry of other excellent local businesses in Inwood. Perhaps later on I’ll post a Part 2 of this list. In the meantime, what are your faves?

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Saturday, September 29, 2007

What We're Lacking

There’s a new Papa John’s Pizza on Broadway here in Inwood. So, I’ll admit, I like Papa John’s. It’s my favorite of the big pizza chains. They have that garlic butter to dip your crusts in…yum. But I don’t think this is what Inwood most needed at this point in time, especially since we already have a really great pizza place—Grandpa’s! If I were more of a pizza connoisseur, I’m sure I could devote a whole blog to the pleasures of Grandpa’s, but suffice it to say that it deserves to be ranked among the best establishments in the city. I certainly won’t be patronizing the new Papa John’s very often (if at all) in an effort to remain loyal to our local patriarchal pizza place. It would be a crime if the new “Papa” in the ‘hood caused our tried and true Mom & Pop business to suffer.

But all of this leads me to the real question at hand, which is, if Inwood doesn’t need a new pizza joint, what does it need? Well, here (in no particular order) are a few ideas:

1. A yoga studio. Inwood Peace Yoga opened at the Good Shepherd Convent on Isham about a month before I moved up here in 2004 and it immediately became an integral part of my Inwood life. When the church kicked them out and then shortly thereafter Michael (the proprietor) and his wife Sofia moved away, it was a real blow to me, one from which I have yet to recover. I now have to take the subway 100+ blocks to take a yoga class! There’s a new pilates studio getting ready to open on 215th and Broadway, so maybe I’ll give that a try, but we yogis really miss having a place to practice nearby.

2. A gym. I am not a gym person, but I am sure many of my neighbors would be thrilled to have somewhere to work out in Inwood.

3. A Starbucks. Alright, I deserve some grief for this one, but really I am just aching for a pleasant place to linger over a good cup of coffee. Hopefully, the forthcoming Indian Road Café (see previous posting) will ultimately fulfill this need, but I also wish for Starbucks as a sort of symbol that Inwood has “arrived.” It’s not that I necessarily need my neighborhood validated in that way, but I have property values to consider!

4. More restaurants. We definitely have some gems here and it was wonderful to see the Park Terrace Bistro recently receive a favorable review in the New York Times, but we can never have too many decent places to eat. My hubby is especially hankering for some good Thai food.

5. A bookstore. Ok, now I am entering the realm of “don’t hold your breath” but here’s the thing: I love Inwood so much, that I really cherish my “All Inwood” days when I have no need to travel below Dyckman Street. So, in formulating this list of businesses we could really use, I’ve been thinking of the kinds of things I have to get on the subway to acquire. While I have promised myself to start utilizing the Inwood library more often, I love to buy books and sadly, I cannot do that without a train ride. Of course, in my imagination the Inwood bookstore is independent and quirky, but I’d even settle for a Border’s.

6. A movie theatre. This one is REALLY wishful thinking, but if we had a movie theatre in Inwood, then perhaps I truly would never leave. That dumpy theatre in Washington Heights is always a disappointment. Perhaps there’s room in the Target complex over there in the Bronx for a couple of screens or else somewhere on this side of the bridge East of Broadway?

I have other favorite stores on my fantasy list (The Body Shop, anyone?) but I’m not that deluded. I know we are a ways away from becoming the Upper West Side and thankfully so. But I think if a few of the businesses listed above opened Inwood outposts, the quality of living here could be even better than it already is. Does anyone have any others to add?

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Inwood Culture

At a recent lunch with a dear friend we once again had that conversation, the same one I have with my husband every few months--the “how long are we going to stay in New York City” conversation. I imagine that all New Yorkers have this conversation with themselves and their loved ones from time to time, for as we all know, while the love affair with New York is passionate and fulfilling it is often fraught. I have very few items on my “life list” but one is to one day have a house with a porch and a yard…something that my beloved city cannot really offer me. And so I talk about departing one day, to the suburbs or somewhere beyond. And then, I open up the paper and casually glance at a listing of things for families to do on one random Sunday in the city—a jazz concert at the North end of Central Park, storybook readings at the south end, performance art in Chelsea, etc. —and I think, how can I possibly leave? Where else can I raise my son where he will be exposed to such a proliferation of arts & culture?

Which brings me to another reason why I love Inwood. Sure, we have access to dozens of eminent art institutions and presentations every day that are just a train ride away, but I have been astonished to find our share of little arty events within walking distance from my door. Just last week, I strapped on the Baby Bjorn and crossed the street to tiny Isham park where I was treated to a performance by Taikoza, a Japanese music and dance ensemble who filled the Inwood air with the sounds of their joyful drumming. Neighborhood children ran giddily about to the boisterous beat. In this same small park earlier this summer, my husband and I picnicked as we listened to the Manhattan soloists—a merry group of probably local, definitely professional musicians who played a series of lovely, themed programs on four successive Monday nights. Was it as stirring an experience as the New York Philharmonic playing Central Park? Not exactly, but it was ours, and these and other events really strengthen the feeling that Inwood is almost like a small town, rather than a neighborhood within the mighty city.

The same goes for the Moose Hall Theatre Company’s Shakespeare productions in Inwood Hill Park. The quality doesn’t match what you’d find downtown at the Delacorte, but the show I saw was quite good and moreover I didn’t have to wait in line for hours for a ticket! I admit I have not seen as much of the Uptown Arts Stroll as I would like, but I have admired the few pieces I’ve come across on display in local businesses. Hopefully, this tradition will continue and I can own some authentic “Inwoodian” art soon. Plus, we have full-blown festivals within walking distance too—I have enjoyed the “Drums on the Hudson” festival in the past, and next week I plan on attending the Renaissance Fair in Fort Tryon Park.

My husband and I have even made our own contribution to the Inwood Arts scene. In 2005, hubby got it into his head that the soccer posts in Inwood Hill Park would make a great place to mount a movie screen. So after much planning and wrangling and schlepping, we were able to host a screening of “E.T.” for about 200 or so of our neighbors one summer night. We’d love to do it again some day… if we can find someone to fund us, that is!

These are just a sampling of the arts happenings up here. But honestly, where else but New York can I go hear a concert at Carnegie Hall one night, and in the park across the street from me the next? Having access to these events right here in Inwood make leaving New York even more impossible to imagine.

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Ode to the Indian Road Cafe

Oh Indian Road Cafe
Please open soon.
I know the restaurant business is hard,
But so is being a new mom.

Now when I am lonely
When my husband's at work
I take baby boy to the park.

We look at the water,
Feed the ducks
Read the Times...

But soon it will be too cold for baby and me.
Where will we go when we need to escape?

We want to come to your cafe
Eat your food
Drink your coffee
Buy your cheeses
Maybe even use your wifi tho' we have our own

And perhaps have a chat with another lonely mom?

If you build it we will come.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Inwood Population increased by One

Hello blogosphere and my apologies for my long absence. I went in to labor 2 days after my last post and have since been consumed with tending to my new son! As I should have predicted, my goal to blog twice weekly has been seriously compromised by the little guy's needs, but I intend to continue singing the praises of Inwood here in Cyberspace as regularly as possible. My next substantial post shall be on the topic of Inwood Culture, but in the meantime, here's my Inwood moment for today:

Our baby boy didn't cry much when he came home from the hospital, but in recent days he has started doing that thing that I understand all new babies do...crying for no apparent reason. He's not hungry, not tired, doesn't need a change, and yet he's cranky. He started fussing an hour ago and I was at a loss as to how to make him happy. It happened to be time for my 6 o'clock coffee (a very important part of my new job as mommy) so I poured the coffee in a travel mug, popped Mr. Man into his stroller and headed to Inwood Hill Park. It quieted him down (temporarily) and I headed home, walking East on 218th. As I approached Seaman I came to a halt by Baker Field, stopped in my tracks by a glorious chorus of birds. Now I happen to be fascinated by birds and all types of birdsong, but this was a veritabe avian symphony! I was amazed at how so many birds could be gathered together in one place and singing with such gusto. And in Manhattan! It was quite beautiful. I took a few more sips of my coffee and pushed onward with my stroller, once again tickled to be living in Inwood.