ATTICA…MOM’S BIRTHDAY…TORONTO…NYC AND NEWARK 2007

  April of 2007, while visiting Mom to celebrate her birthday, I
took my first trip to Toronto in over 30 years.  I had a great day visiting Casa Loma

and the Elgin and Winter Garden Theaters. 

It is rare to have two theaters together with one a top of the other. NYC has two theaters like that…I think one is the Amsterdam. I enjoy old theaters…especially to see a show in them. I remember the Colonial Theater in Boston when I saw Les Miserables.

Yesterday, I caught the view from the top of  the CNN Tower

and the Sky Pod. It snowed all day today but nothing stuck to the ground.  I was in McVeigh’s Irish Pub
to hear Bill Craig,
a great Irish singer and entertainer, who also plays at the Dubliner in Phoenix. I met  the chef from Jamaica, that traveled the world, gave me his card.  He might come to Phoenix to open his own place. I think he was gay and had a partner.  Graham from Ireland, that I thought was Bill’s manager, invited me to his table then when I left to return to Bill’s fan club he kissed me on both cheeks before I knew what was happening. He was defiantly gay.  David Higgins, from Ireland , was with Graham.  I took a photo on the way out but Graham avoided it and made me erase it from the camera just in case.  He said he was there to study Penguins…IRA.  


Joan, who gave me a cigarette, was from Montreal. Outside I met a guy from Florida that was a computer guru. He was trying to decide between Toronto or Austin for his new job.  He goes to the Jazz Fest in NO every year and I recommended the International Fest in Lafayette instead. Trying to score a gram of grass. Two retired Amtrak employees from Long Island came to Canada to buy meds.  The Canadian from England drove me crazy with his knowledge of  America. Two brothers from Dublin were on holiday with their wives.  Last year they vacationed in Torremolinos Spain on the Mediterranean and  said you could rent a boat for $10 a day. Another couple was from Brittany, all and all a very European crowd.

Bill’s  fans that knew every song he played and got up on stage with him once to sing a song.  The bartender took care of the whole place and waited on tables. Bill had been at McVeigh’s for over 20 years and had his photo on the wall when his beard was black and he had hair.  2am and I’m back at the Hostel getting ready to depart in the morning.
It was Good Friday when I left to return home.  There was a two hour back up at the border, so I caught up on some reading. I made record time out of Toronto with no problem and no traffic.    This sitting in the car for so long and going no where was a nightmare. I burned a quarter of a tank of gas to go less than a mile. 
The grandchildren and their adopt parents David and Kathy came to visit Mom with
Alexis’s first child, a blond handsome boy named Gavon. We all enjoyed the visit.

        I went out a couple nights later in hopes of meeting someone I know. I met Jim Wheeler at the Attica Bar and Grill and we drank a lot of beer reminiscing about our lives in Attica. He had been a successful realtor, Letterman in High School, came from a great family…but got caught us in Coke then lost all but is clean and maybe not so sober but back on his feet again. The Police arrived and wanted to know whose call was blocking the drive. It was mine…so I went to move it when the police asked for my keys and gave me a ride home.

ATTICA BAR AND GRILL

Mom and I walked down to pick-up the car Sunday morning and stopped at the Masonic Temple for Pancake Breakfast while she told everyone how her son was driven home by the local police last night and now we had to get the car. That’s my Mom.
Upon my return to Toronto, in June, I met Paul, the owner of McVeigh’s….the oldest Irish Pub in North America.  He had a Texas Hold’em game going upstairs over the Pub where Bill Craig was playing that night.  The game was illegal and closed but he said if an opening came up, they would invite me…it never did.  Paul said he could arrange a room for me in the dorms for the summer if I called him in advance and could arrange an invite to poker if I let him know when I came up.  As usual I stayed in the Youth Hostel on Church St just down from the same Irish Pub…where I also park my car…but this time the rate was $52.50 instead of $48 for two days.  I made a note to check with the other lots in the neighborhood the next time. 
In between the Pub and the Hostel, was an upstairs Pub or Dance joint called Goodhandy’s that catered to Horney guys interested in She-Males.  If you got there before 11pm the entrance fee was $5 and $15 after.  I ran to an ATM after taking out a $11 order of wings from the Pub to my room and getting some food in me.  The BBQ the hostel had on the Patio was OK…especially the free drinks provided, but the Kebobs weren’t cooked all the way and ending in the trash. 
I  arrived at the she-male joint 5 minutes and $10 late so went back home.  The dance floor was small with a large projection screen displaying an XXX rated she-male orgy .  Most of the “girls” were outside with clients taking a smoke break before the main show.  There were about 10 all decked out in sexy dresses and another 10-20 upstairs.  Some were extremely attractive.  The clients appeared to be young attractive well heeled men.

Early that day I walked the city and down to the Harbor front to visit some museums.  I walked well over 15 miles and my feet were killing me but I recovered after two days.   I visited the St Lawrence Market too.  It had been my plan to take a bus tour and had bought the ticket but after the bus passed me by and I waited another hour or more without seeing another, I got my ticket refunded and took off on the PATH. It is 16  miles of underground shops that comb the city.

The prior night I had a ticket to Gore Vidal at the Elgin Theater.  It was open seating so I arrived an hour early to find a loooonnnnggg line at the door.  I walked and walked, wondering if all these people were going to fit into the theater…having seen it at a tour the month before.  As I was approaching what I thought was the end of the line with relief…I suddenly realized the line went around the corner and down the street.  I took my place and watched others with looks of astonishment follow in my steps.  They had lots of Ascots and Bowties.  Many looked like William Buckley with their Blue Blazers, grey pants, and Blue button  down shirts. Very well heeled crowd. Anyway, some passerby’s were wondering why the long lines….I told them we were to see a Rolling Stones Concert….Wow…then I told them the truth and they said…Gore who???  I sat in the balcony and had a good seat but couldn’t hear the conversation because of my hearing impairment.  

  Toronto has a lot of money and most of it is downtown and along the water front with condos at a half million dollars  and up.   Next door to the Hostel were some new ones going up and when Bill introduced me to David Taylor, a film producer that lived nearby, I inquired if he lived in one of those new condos? He replied his was over 2 million.  My last day I was to meet Bill at the Beaches near where he lives before leaving to drive home.  I checked out after a COLD shower.  The water heater broke.  I found the Beaches. It is miles of boardwalk along Lake Ontario with shops and parks.  It was very popular and I enjoyed it but Bill never answered his phone so I left after a short walk.  The ride home was uneventful except that I missed a turn and found a new section of Buffalo.  I decided to try a new restaurant and discovered Anderson’s Beef on Wick and Custard that was excellent.
The day of reckoning came and I packed early then had breakfast with Mom.  Gary Fredericks was to pick me up at 9:30am for the airport.  Around 9am I was double checking everything to make sure I was alright, when I realized I had set out my Euro Rail Pass and Ticket from Madrid to Rome on Air Comet so I wouldn’t forget to pack it in my computer case to carry aboard the plane in case my bags were misplaced.  I couldn’t find it anywhere and Gary was in the drive waiting.  I frantically searched everywhere then left thinking it must be in the luggage or carry on bag and it would turn up on arrival in Newark N.J. but it didn’t.   I ate $700 and still had to get another ticket in Madrid when I arrived to Rome.  The Rail Pass I didn’t need as it would probably be cheaper to buy 2nd Class tickets as I go but EuroRail offers to sell me another and deliver it in Madrid.
David met me in the Airport and we went to New Brunswick in Philie, where Jenny was performing in a Dance show at the Performing Arts theater.   This was her 5th and last night but everyone was tired of watching it so after meeting Barbara, Helen, Arjay, and Ralph, we all went to dinner at an outdoor Zagat rated Bistro and I had some wine, a Bacon Lobster and Tomato sandwich and we shared a Chocolate Bread Pudding.  Ralph went to see the performance with Arjay (who is going to Korea in a few weeks to compete in some Karate tournament ) .  We arrived back and I went to bed early.  Barbara stayed over and was to meet her step son Eric the next day.  He was taking the bus in from the upper west side of NYC to visit with me and spend the night. 
He arrived the next day and we spent the afternoon talking travel and looking at my photos of Europe.  He is writing a book about Jamestown and planning his next trip back to Africa in October to visit the Sudan and another area he has yet to see.  He is taking Penny again.  She is in California at Davis attending  school now.  That afternoon Dawn and Tina, Helen’s daughters stopped by after Eric, Tina’s ex was over with his daughter to visit Grandma Helen. 
Then after David arrived we prepared a BBQ and friends David and Kathy showed up so everyone was outside enjoying a  family picnic and beer. Dave and Kathy related a very interesting travel story about their vacation to the Dominican Republic.  The day before their departure, they were walking the deserted beach and discovered a large package along the shore about the size of a large telephone book that ended up to be 5 kilos of marijuana wrapped in tape that floated ashore.  They opened it and Dave grabbed a handful and was inspecting it so Kathy took a photo of him with the bag and handful.  Then she posed with it while he took a photo.  Then they noticed someone in the distance coming so hid the bag but still he had the handful when the couple approached.  Kathy immediately said to Dave that the man was a policeman.  She had worked with NJ State Police and could tell by his walk, demeanor and haircut.  They asked if they could take a photo for them of them together.  Kathy said…you are a policeman aren’t you?  Both looked at each other with surprise and admitted he was an undercover police narcotics investigator from Philadelphia and they were on vacation .  After chatting a bit, Dave felt confident that if he related the story to the man it would be no problem.  He still had the dope in his hand  while talking to them so presented it to the guy and told his story.  They laughed when he showed them the brick of marijuana.  He put his handful back in the bag and replaced the brick behind the rock and started walking back to the hotel.  Both were chiding each other about departing then the other return to pick up the dope.  They had a drink together in the hotel and each couple retired to the room for the night.  The thought of returning to pick up the bag and try and take it back to NJ was out of the question but to bring it back to the hotel and maybe have some of it wasn’t.  They decided to return with a shopping bag and retrieve the brick.  Before getting too close, Dave asked Kathy to remain in the distance in case it was a trap and he got caught, she would be free to bail him out.  He waited  near the spot then pretended to pick up something and place it in the bag then wait.  Just in case someone was watching and it was a  trap.  Just at that moment, headlights came on in the jungle and a ATV was coming through the trees right at him .  He froze as two guys that run the ATV rental passed by him and went on down the beach.  He quickly put the brick in the bag and return to Kathy and the room.  They hid the bag in the closet then started arguing about something as they were getting ready for dinner.  She wouldn’t go so he left and had a few drinks at the bar before having dinner.  As he was leaving, he noticed another couple they had met earlier and couldn’t resist sitting with them and relating the story.  They suggested he get some and they had a pipe so the three of them could share a high in their room.  He returned to get Kathy and the pot but she had order room service and a few drinks and was passed out asleep on the bed so he took the bag to the couples room and they got high.  He told them to keep the bag since they would be there a few more days and he and Kathy were leaving in the morning.  They could pass it on to someone else on there way out and so on and so forth so maybe 6 months from now all these visitors would have had a free high and the pot wouldn’t have gone to waste.  
The next morning David and Kathy were still not talking but went down for breakfast and after were returning to the room when they saw a uniformed policeman and the maid coming out of their room.  They waited in the hall for them to leave before trying the key to check out the room and see what they were doing.  As they approached the room, the police returned and asked him to step inside for questioning.  Kathy panicked thinking the dope was still in the room.  She went out to the balcony while the police was questioning Dave.  She started hyperventilating and throwing up.  She thought they would be in jail in the Dominican Republic, on the news., lose  her job, have her children taken away, be denied bail etc.  She didn’t know the pot was not there.  The maid came in to clean the room while they were at breakfast and discovered the safe open.  She had to report it to protect herself and the police came to the room to do an inventory of everything in the safe before closing it and then needed to verify with David that everything was still there.  Relieved they hadn’t been arrested, they decided to walk the beach before leaving and while walking they discovered a bread bag full of coke or heroin near the same spot they had discovered the pot.  They ran back to the hotel packed and headed for the airport.

Tuesday, Eric and I took our first travel trip together.  The bus from Freehold to the Port Authority on 42nd Ave in downtown NYC.  I took the train to Grand Central Station and met Shaa from the Village under the clock.

We returned to her apartment and she fixed some broiled fresh Salmon in wine sauce and a salad with Chardonnay on the patio. 

After we toured the village then when it started to rain, stopped in a Peruvian Restaurant for Mussels Lima some wine and a break. 


Then we left for Staten Island and a turn around on the ferry to China Town.  There it started a downpour and I purchased an umbrella for a dollar.  We had dinner at a Vietnamese Restaurant called the New Pasteur.

I called Helen and took the train then bus back to arrive in Freehold about ten after ten in the evening.

Helen and I went to the Turning point Restaurant for Eggs Benedict the next morning.  The place was full of little children and their parents and grandparents.  It was loud and hectic.  Helen said it was Nursery School graduation.  They have tents with hordurves and a big ceremony with the relatives coming and DVD’s of their child’s year in Nursery school.  There are lots of these schools all over this neighborhood.  When they graduate from 8th grade they have a huge party and send letters to the parents not to bring Helicopters or Limos.   H.S. graduation parties are everywhere and cost up to $80,000 dollars.  The student parking lot in HS is full of Hummers, BMW’s, sports cars, etc.  
Helen took me to Newark terminal but I got the  time wrong and  it was 12:30 when I arrived but the plane that I thought was leaving at 4:30pm didn’t leave until 6:30pm so I sat there for 6 hours. A disappointing end to a wonderful beginning. Off to Heathrow for connecting flight to Madrid.
  

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