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I think America’s love affair with the automobile has less do to with the romance of the open road and everything to do with the grossness of the shared travel experience.

In your car, you’re the master of your destiny. Sure, getting stuck in traffic can mess up a schedule. But you can control your departure time. No need to plan around catching the 10:03 train out of Penn Station. And you have complete control over who rides with you. Your seat mates are hand-picked. You know, before you invite someone into your car, if they have suspicious hygiene habits. You might even appreciate your passenger’s annoying quirks and because you’re friends (or family) you can tell them to “cut it out” if they become too much.

You’re not locked in a hurtling tin missile full of cell phone chatting, coughing, seat hogs who can’t spell etiquette let along display the graciousness required for group harmony.

You can probably tell that I’m bitter because I’m car-less.

Yes, I’m a mass transit user. I take at least one plane trip each month. I ride the subway and I’ve taken a few MegaBus trips. In the last several weeks, I’ve jumped on Amtrak for several round trips. I’ve had lots of experience. I’ve had hours to endure and lots of time to think.

My last Amtrak trip was especially hideous. I fought my baser instincts (as I always do) and didn’t try to protect the empty seat next to me. As much as I’d like a buffer, everyone has a right to a seat and they shouldn’t have to work hard to get one. I don’t need the conductor announcement asking riders to be courteous. I am the picture of courtesy. So when a Converse clad hipster asked if the seat next to me was taken, I beamed, “It’s all yours!”

It was a beautiful moment. He was polite, I was polite. The possibilities stretched before us. Maybe we’d strike up a conversation about the latest must-have plaid shirt or about which Brooklyn restaurants are curing artisanal bacon in their basements.

And then it hit me. The smell. His smell.  He had a dank and stale dirty hair, over-worn clothes smell.

Between his foul odor and his gurgling – yes, he had a rumbling, wet cough, I felt as if he’d unzipped his chest, plucked out a lung and pulled it down over my head. The train ride was four hours long.

Maybe Amtrak could increase ridership over night if they took a page from Soul Cycle’s book. Soul Cycle, a popular spin class, felt the need to put a list of rules up in their gyms reminding riders that nobody wants to share their odor. Check out #3.

Soul Etiquette SoulCycle 1024x695 Soulcycle brands spinning and spirituality

Maybe we’re all a bit bonkers and need to be told to leave our phone out of an exercise class and to be kind. Maybe odor control isn’t just an automatic, well-of-course-I-don’t-want-to-stink kind of thing. Soul Cycle is on to something (and I’m deeply sorry I giggled at the list and I swear, that will never happen again).  It seems we need rules. We do better when we have standards to live up to and guidelines to follow.

And so here I am with… drum roll please …  margagogo’s Official Rules for Harmonious Travel.

The first few apply to all Transit Options (Trains, Planes, Subways, Buses and even Taxis)

Be clean. This includes hair, teeth, clothes – everything on or about you should be spiffy. Once, on a plane trip back from Istanbul, I sat next to a young man who smelled so bad that every time he shifted enough to accidentally air out his pits, I nearly suffocated. When he lifted his arm to take his drink from the flight attendant, I feared I’d faint. I think he was an exchange student off on his first big adventure. I wanted to tell him that the hero, the guy who gets the girl (or the guy), is never smelly. If you think of it from a purely selfish point of view, you never know who you’re going to sit next to – your future spouse, your future boss … or the person who doesn’t speak to you and hates you because they have to share your air.

Smiles Everyone, Smiles! Though it’s a risk, it’s possible to say “hello” without being obligated to chat for the duration of the trip. And I’ve heard (I’m sure I should quote a study here) that being nice in general is not only a good thing for other people but it makes you feel happier. So, when we’re all in it together, being nice is a win/win.

Make an Effort! Make an effort to keep your germs to yourself. Even if you believe that coughing into your elbow doesn’t make a bit of difference, everyone appreciates the effort. Same goes with crying babies. Effort gets you sympathy. Apathy, even due to complete exhaustion, earns ire.

Air Travel:

- If you’re sitting in Row 28, don’t put your luggage in the overhead at Row 5. That just messes everyone up and causes a giant traffic jam when the person in Row 5 has to fight against the tide to get the stuff they had to store in the space above your seat.

- Board as your row is called. As tempting as it is to try to board first, you just gum up the works.

- Please leave your beer soaked rabbit and cabbage curry hot pepper surprise at home. Nobody cares that it was your dear Grandmother’s special recipe. They just care how it smells.

Subway Travel:

- There is a special place in heaven for the subway rider who willingly gives up their position in the car to step out when it isn’t their stop so they can clear the path for people getting off. Please do this.

- Don’t lean on the pole. People need something to hold on to when standing on a moving train. Nobody wants that thing to be your belt loop or any part of you.

- Please take your backpack off. Believe me, you have no idea how big that thing is.

Bus & Train Travel:

- Shhhhhh. I might want to know what you’re having for dinner so if you stand up and make a general announcement, something like, “If anyone wants to swap recipes, meet me in the café car in 10,” I might join you. But, I don’t want to hear a lengthy cell phone discussion about peas, or roast beef or what your Aunt Jane did at dinner the night before.

And finally, always share. I’m not woman enough to tackle the age-old problem of who gets the arm rest. But, I do know that you shouldn’t try to save the seat next to you for an imaginary friend. Share the aisle space. Don’t hang out in the bathroom, tuck stuff under the seat in front of you if it will fit. Put it on your lap if your ride is short. When you get your private plane or train or bus, you can do whatever you want. (And when you do get that private ride, please invite me along. I’m an excellent passenger.)

See, isn’t everyone feeling happy now? (Did I leave anything out? Feel free to share – sharing’s good!)

If you want to feel happier – or even happiest (and at this point you’re not afraid of a subway ride) go check out the new bar on 121 West 10th street, NYC called The Happiest Hour.  They smile, they’re kind and the only odor I detected was from the free french fries they kept bringing out and setting on the bar. Yes, I said free french fries – could they get any more friendly?

The vibe is tropical retreat meets old school diner meets high-end cocktail bar. Picture getting a grilled cheese in Havana. And you should get the grilled cheese – it was warm, buttery, cheesy goodness and it came with tomato soup. The fries were bottomless. The margarita was excellent.

The Happiest Hour was worth the trip. There was harmony. The Happiest Hour lives up to its name … and they haven’t even published a list of rules.

 

 

 

 

 

Shit Is About to Happen

“Shit is about to happen”  –  an Ode to unstructured time. It’s not exactly a lyric poem but epic stuff can happen when you least expect.

Margagogo.com’s Marketing Director met his wife (the margagogo West Coast Correspondent) in a bar on a random night. Of all the saloons in all the world, they both walked into that one.

Years ago, just before a long weekend in Maine with my family, my then boyfriend and I broke up. So instead of entertaining him while my family looked him over, my mother and I went out looking at houses. I bought one.

Life isn’t a Jane Austin novel so every story can’t end with secured real estate and a wedding. Sometimes the prize is more subtle; it’s the adventure itself and the memories you tuck away with the experience.

A few weeks ago on a very raw and rainy Saturday, my friends (and margagogo correspondents) left the warmth of the wood stove and central heating to see what we could see. We braved the drippy sky and dropping temperatures and were rewarded with ocean views. That tends to happen when you’re on the coast but the view wasn’t just “ocean” – it was awesome, rocky cliff, churning ocean! And we found color. Bright red and green popping up to give the finger to the oppressive grey sky.

And then my Brooklyn Correspondent needed a bathroom. A great view can have that effect.

If you’re going to stop into a restaurant to use the facilities, you should probably get a drink. It’s only polite. And if we’re anything other than polite, we’re thirsty. So hitting Cook’s Lobster House was a win/win.

In all the years I’ve hung out in this part of Maine, I’ve never crossed the threshold of Cook’s. I decided it’s too touristy. My New York-living, Maine-visiting self is not a tourist unless there’s a festival, fair, parade, strong man contest, pancake breakfast, national landmark, museum or maybe leaf peeping involved. Cook’s has lobster and it has crowds. Big, giant bus loads of people looking for seafood and salt air. No pie eating contest, no biggest ball of twine, no reason for me to go. Until now.

Stepping into the bar is like taking a trip to 1958 on a WayBack Machine (without Peabody and his pet boy.) It’s the kind of place where hanging out is encouraged and I bet Cook’s has it’s share of friends who sit and stay a while. On this icky November Saturday the crowds were gone. It was just us and some locals who were probably wondering why we were there and wishing we’d go anyplace else. (Tourists!) The thing is, one of them was wearing a t-shirt that said “The drinking will continue until morale improves.” I think that makes us kindred spirits so like us or not, he’s our people.

Cook’s has a Bloody Mary with a lobster tail and bourbon with Maine blueberry and of course, they made me a margarita. As the bartender was mixing our drinks, a string of Christmas lights jumped off the wall (where it surely hangs year-round) and swung into his face. He looked at the lights and looked at us and said. “Shit is about to happen.”

Well, yes indeed it is.

Drinks at Cook's Lobster House. Check out the lobster tail hanging off the drink at the end!

Drinks at Cook’s Lobster House. Check out the lobster tail hanging off the drink at the end!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If it’s possible to miss the signs of Halloween – the chill in the air, red and yellow leaves crunching under your feet and the costume and fun-size candy ads that have clogged the airwaves since August, I’d still know the holiday’s upon us.

Yes, I have a calendar. I also have an official Halloween Correspondent for margagogo.com. As a former colleague, she was endlessly disappointed with the Halloween spirit in our office. We are always in for candy but our energy wanes well before the costume stage. So she left her job behind to build a Halloween empire. As you can see, she’s been hugely successful.

Her Halloween flock is ready to go – they were ready a week ago.

All the feathers are hand cut and stitched. The little boy bird is wearing knitted legs. Yes, yellow, hand-knit bird pants. I think there are real feathers involved with the hats – I mean beaks. Last week they marched in a parade and costume tweaks are being made based on that test run. The trick-or-treat route is mapped. Halloween 2014 is almost in the books for margagogo.com‘s Halloween expert.

When she asked how I’m celebrating the holiday, I told her I’m dressing up like a “Candy-scarfing Lady” and eating Butterfingers till the candy cakes in my teeth and I’m loopy on sugar. No costumes or Halloween parties for me.

There was a time when I put a lot of effort into Halloween. I turned my creativity dial to “genius” and poured all of it into my costumes.

The problem is that “genius” sits on a narrow, precarious point. Success and disaster are just a teeter apart.

I once dressed up as a band-aid box. To make the box shape, I put a head hole in a board and let it rest across my shoulders to make the frame of the box. I painted the logo and art from a band-aid box into a sheet and attached it. Genius! But the execution didn’t hold up to real world demands. The frame was too wide so trick-or-treating became an obstacle course. I couldn’t walk next to anyone on the sidewalk and had to turn to the side to let people pass. Worst of all, I was too wide to get through porch doors, thus putting my candy haul in jeopardy.

One year I marched in my hometown Halloween parade dressed as a garbage bag. It was so great that the local paper took my name down for consideration in the costume contest. I made my costume out of a round plastic laundry basket. I cut out the bottom so I could step through, covered it with a heavy green garbage bag and then attached carefully select (and clean) trash all around the opening. Clever, right? You can be sure there wasn’t another person at the parade in a garbage bag costume. I had it in the bag! (Get it?) But nothing says “fail” like people stuffing their actual trash – dirty coffee cups and soiled food wrappers into my costume as I walked home from the parade route. And I didn’t win the contest. Not even an honorable mention. Maybe if I’d been a sexy garbage bag ….

Then there was the toothpaste tube. Yes, I dressed up as Crest. I’m proud to say I learned from earlier years. The toothpaste tube frame fit exactly on the span of my shoulders. No way I was going to be in my own way on the candy hunt. The costume was roomy enough to hide a puffy coat so cold weather wasn’t a hinderance to getting massive amounts of candy. But my cap was. The bucket I used for the tube cap rattled and jumped when I walked. It turned with each bump so I had to hold it steady with my hand or I couldn’t see. And, it seems I forgot to taper the bottom of the tube which might explain the tripping. (I’m only now enjoying the irony of dressing up like a tool for cavity prevention so I could go out begging for tooth decay.)

Possibly my favorite childhood costume was the Tootsie Pop. My father got some local college students to make it for me. They made the Tootsie Pop top out of a beer ball and drained said ball at a party while guests colored the giant Tootsie wrapper. I was cherry flavored and I wore all white for the stick. It was amazing. The height of genius! But, I was on the older range of trick-or-treaters and fair game for trouble-makers … and the face cut out in the beer ball didn’t allow for any peripheral vision. I couldn’t see the shaving cream coming and had no chance for evasive maneuvers. Have you ever seen a giant Tootsie Pop careen down the street? It’s not pretty.

Nearly all photographic evidence is missing so I can’t show you the band-aid box, garbage bag or Tootsie Pop. Please use your imagination. The people who made margagogo possible promise the pictures aren’t lost and they’ll keep looking.

So no dressing up for me. I’ve spent the last several Halloween’s in Maine with food, a fire in the stove and friends. And of course, Butterfingers and trick-or-treaters.

The first year, I was super excited for kids to come. I waited and waited and waited and then waited some more. Finally, I backed off the door sort of following the “watched pot” theory. So my friends rang the bell just to watch me dash from the kitchen, grab the candy bowl and skid to a halt in front of a door with no kids on the other side. Later my friends made knocking sounds and I fell for it again … and again.

The kids finally showed and I lucked out with more candy than kids so I didn’t have to share my Butterfingers. My carved pumpkin was the best ever made in the entire world, my friends were funny, nobody chased me with shaving cream or stuffed garbage in my shirt. I didn’t trip, I could see and I fit through all my doors. It was pretty perfect.

New York City is of course, Halloween central. Nobody does it better if you like that sort of thing. I got into the spirit this week by heading to the West Village for dinner at Extra Virgin (West 4th St, NYC). Extra Virgin is a Village classic. The American, Comfort, Classic and Inspired food is always amazing. The bartender can mix a drink, the staff is friendly and Sunday night is Spaghetti and Meatballs night. Yum. So please go to Extra Virgin (or don’t so there will be more room for me).

And order a margarita. In honor of Halloween, I had them make mine extra spooky.

 

Happy Halloween to all and to all a good night!

 

 

 

Keep Your Head Up

As a recovering smartphone addict, I’ve needed my next text so badly that I’ve neglected friends, dropped out of conversation, let vacation scenery wiz by unnoticed and walked entire blocks without seeing where I was going.

For me, distracted walking is guaranteed to lead to disaster. With eyes wide open and no obstacles in my way, I’ve managed to damage my property and my body.

I’ve misjudged the curb and ended up in tears more times than I can count. Once, playing soccer, I broke my ankle and cracked my tibia. I wasn’t doing fancy tricks or going in for a tackle. There was no collision; no heart-stopping, breath-holding moment of impact. I just tripped myself.

Turtle_On_Its_Back_Cartoon_Royalty_Free_Clipart_Picture_090122-130120-872048And then there was the 42nd street Incident. One cold night, crossing 42nd Street with a large and weighty backpack strapped to my shoulders, I tipped over. I landed on my back, smack in the middle of the street, arms and legs flailing. It took a team of coordinated and shocked New Yorker’s to hoist me to my feet. It was humiliating, life-endangering and to top it off, even though I landed on my back, I managed to put a hole in the knee of my brand new jeans.

All of this without any “help” from a smart phone.

People should be taking tumbles and trips of the most un-fun kind.  There should be more broken ankles, bruised shins and skinned knees. I don’t wish pain on anyone. I just don’t see how we can routinely cross the street like this and come out unscathed.

And, we are in fact, hurting ourselves. I read an estimate that at least 10% of injuries landing people in the ER are caused by cell phone distraction. The number may be bigger. People tend not to self report embarrassing things like falling through an open manhole while playing Cut The Rope.

The problem of distracted walking is so bad that in London, they’ve installed bumpers around light poles. Really? Yes. You can read about it here.

I hope New York City won’t resort to bubble wrapping light posts, mail boxes and the few remaining pay phone stands to keep us safe from ourselves. But these obstacles are very real – as are pot holes, traffic, uneven sidewalks and surly, surging crowds.

For me, getting my nose out of my phone was a survival imperative. Let’s face it, I need all my faculties synched and focused when I’m walking. So I put myself on a 12 Step Program: 12 steps without looking at my phone … then another 12 steps with no phone and then another. Now I make it to and fro without a tweet or a text.

Once I picked up my head, I noticed all the people around me walking with their heads down. For these shots, I held my phone up and allowed distracted walkers to move themselves into my frame. Not a single person noticed a stranger taking their picture. I was sure I’d have some explaining to do. I was sure that in New York City, a city where there’s so much to see, that someone would look up.

Paying more attention to my phone than my feet isn’t just physically hazardous. It’s also socially awkward and stifles the senses.

I know, I know. I’m like the friend who finds their soul mate and can’t believe anyone lives single or the person who reads about Chia Seeds or tries Boot Camp – completely drinks the Kool-Aid and wants you love it as much as they do. I think I’m on to something though and I’ve discovered more than just how to avoid a visit to Roosevelt Hospital’s ER.

I came to Candy Crush late in the craze but made up for it with lots of enthusiastic play time. One Christmas, my mother and I spent so much time blowing up sugary confections that my then 7-year-old niece apologized for introducing us to the game. I’ve sat at dinner and pulled my phone out of my purse because I think I hear my text ping or because I haven’t and I wonder why nobody is texting.

And New York City (any city, any place) has a lot to offer or a lot to be missed. There’s architecture and art and love isn’t just in the air, it’s on the street right in front of you! You just have to look up, look around, pay attention.

So come on everyone, give it a try. Save your ankle bones, protect your knees and lift your spirits. Put your phones down and pick your eyes up.

If you don’t want to listen to me, listen to Tupac.

"Hollar If Ya Hear Me" closed but keep your eyes open - it will be back!

“Hollar If Ya Hear Me” closed but keep your eyes open – it will be back!

Or listen to Annie Lennox … or if you don’t know that musical reference, don’t worry. Just know this: The streets where I walk are a little safer now that I’m phone free. It could be argued that I’ve lost my chance to “bump” into someone interesting but I’ve increased my chance to make eye contact. I still slip when out with a group of friends. Social media sometimes sucks me back, but I try to stay in the moment – ready and present for potential magic.

We found some magic at The Spyglass Rooftop Bar at the Archer Hotel (38th St, NYC). Rooftop bars in NYC are crowded and magic can be tough to spot in a packed room. But the bouncer hooked us up with comfy seats and an amazing view of the Empire State Building and the Eternal Lights from the 9/11 Memorial. And they serve Cakebread Cellars Sauvignon Blanc. (It’s much too busy to order a margarita here. Stick with something simple.)

Cakebread Cellars believes that life’s occasions are elevated by good wine, good food and good people – and I couldn’t agree more.

Life’s occasions are also elevated by keeping your head up and your phone stowed so you see more than you miss and you have the chance to capture every, single, magic moment.

Magic captured at the rooftop of the Archer Hotel

Magic captured at the rooftop of the Archer Hotel

 

 

 

UPDATE: August 27, 2014: Subway Inn wins another stay of eviction. Maybe they will find a stone big enough? More updates to follow!

 

The Subway Inn; dive bar, landmark, home of the $6 draft, is closing.

Maybe I’m too hasty. The last word isn’t out yet. But there are some David and Goliath fights where it’s impossible for David to find a stone big enough to bring Goliath down. And the fight between a New York City real estate developer and a tenant is one of those.

Bummer.

The Subway Inn brings people of all stripes together. Regulars mix with tourists who mix with 20-somethings looking for a bargain. Stepping across the threshold turns strangers into friends.

My friends gathered there. We showed up late night and early evening (though I never made it at 10:00 AM when the bar opens) and after a formal function or two. I remember my flouncy, blue velvet dress against a red upholstered booth, rhinestone earrings glittering in the bar light and waiters in white coats bringing bottled beer and stepping out-of-the-way when a good song got us up dancing.

And the story-telling was excellent. A regular, tucked into the bar was happy to make room for me and tell me about his days delivering beer. He once dropped a keg right through the floor of the Subway Inn. He meant to heave it on the bar but the keg skidded by the bar top, gained momentum and crashed through the bar floor to lodge its edge in the actual subway platform below. He said it took years for the city to make a repair so “6 Train” riders had to step over the dent as they got on and off the train.

The Subway Inn is a time capsule. It appears as if nothing has changed since the bar opened in 1937. Not a single speck of dust has been disturbed in 77 years and now a wrecking ball is going to take care of clean-up.

Change is inevitable and often hard. Even when we’ll be better off for it, change can throw us off. The thing is, there’s no part of me – not even a teensy part, which can see how this will make New York City a better, more vibrant or more interesting place to live. And what’s happening to the Subway Inn is happening to independent shops all over the city. Landlords can get higher rent from chain stores and earn more money if they raze the old and replace it with luxury living opportunities.

If big names like Bobby Flay can’t win the rent wars (Mesa Grill is closed) what chance do the little guys have? Pearl Paint, after 50 years, is gone. Bowlmor, the oldest alley in the city and where I celebrated my 30th birthday, is closed as are all the businesses in that building. Luxury condos are moving in.

Union Square Café, a Danny Meyer restaurant, is on its way out and Chat ‘N Chew, where my friends and I have done exactly as the name requests, is gone. (There are more, lots more. Don’t even get me started on the book stores and newsstands. If you’re interested, check out Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York, which chronicles the goings around town.)

The Subway Inn and independent places like it, make the fabric of New York City. They might not always contribute the finest thread to the tapestry but they’re the part of the pattern that makes you look twice. They’re the zing of interest, the beat of the street, the thing that makes you smile even if you don’t quite know why.

And they’re melting away as rent inflates and we march toward the sameness of big chain stores, banks, luxury buildings and super high-end restaurants with menus and prices that all look the same.

We are bleaching the tapestry of the city. We are turning New York beige.

I need a great drink and food to make myself feel better. Unfortunately, The Marrow (Bank St, NYC) didn’t sooth my nerves. Instead, my visit reinforced my worry that newer isn’t better.

A fair and balanced review requires several visits so let me admit straight off: My review will never be fair and balanced. My snarky tone could be the result of low blood sugar since the staff cleared and tossed my full plate before I could eat my fill and my request to wrap it fell on deaf ears. The Marrow might make the best pork chop in the entire world but I will never, ever know.

The margarita was “juicy” and out of balance. But it was a hot day so the citrus and ice was refreshing and Vitamin C is a good thing – keeps scurvy at bay.

Some advice if you decide to go: First, eat fast and don’t be afraid to slap any hand that makes a grab for your plate. And second, plan your outfit around the wallpaper. Yes, I said wallpaper. It’s so busy, it clashed with patron’s shirts. Between the fussy walls and beat up floors and booths, the vibe at The Marrow is confusing – something between eating at Versailles or in your Grandfather’s basement in Queens. 

Not beige but still a bummer.

Refreshing Scurvy Cure at The Marrow

Refreshing “Juicy” Scurvy Cure (Margarita) at The Marrow

 

 

 

So it happened again. And again. In fact, it has happened about once a week since Sandy Hook.

Huffingtonpost.com lays out the stats. They report that, “including Tuesday’s incident at a high school in Troutdale, Oregon, 74 school shootings have taken place in the approximately 18 months since the Dec. 14, 2012, Newtown shooting. The average school year typically lasts about 180 days, which means there have been roughly 270 school days, or 54 weeks, of class since the shooting at Newtown. With 74 total incidents over that period, the nation is averaging well over a shooting per school week.”

The data indicates that school shootings drop in the summer when regular classes let out so maybe we won’t have desperate, tragic headlines about school shootings in the coming weeks. But any reduction in violence won’t be the result of political action or a cultural shift, it will be because there are fewer kids and teachers in schools and therefore fewer targets.

Shall we declare the opening of each school year the official opening of Hunting Season on our children and educators?

Anyone offended?

More than a year ago, after Boston and after relatively flimsy gun legislation was defeated, I used my little blog as a soap box and pointed out that the people who show the most grace in the face of violence are the victims and not our elected leaders. (Post here.)

Mr. Richard Martinez, after his son was killed in a mass shooting in Santa Barbara a few weeks ago, bared his raw anguish to the world and said, “Not One More.” He didn’t ask for the spotlight. He didn’t want that moment but when it came upon him, he faced it. His talk is plain and his point is clear. He’s a hero though this accolade is surely meaningless and infuriating to him as he mourns and lives devastated in the aftermath of his son’s murder.

I live in New York so I turned to Senator Chuck Schumer, a democrat from New York and funneled a bit of Mr. Martinez’s outrage. I asked Mr. Schumer to “do something.” And I received a response! Chuck Schumer tells me that he shares my anger and has in fact acted! But thinking yourself an agent for change because you introduced a bill that went nowhere is as effective as any of us sharing Mr. Martinez’s grief with a hashtag on social media. The difference, and what makes Mr. Schumer’s self-promotion intolerable, is that Chuck Schumer and all of our elected officials have The Standing and The Office and The Access to do something now.

In his remarks yesterday on gun violence, our “Yes We Can” President sounded more like a “I Can’t Do This” President. Is there no one who can lead our country to a future where it’s safe for our children to go to school?

Maybe the next Rose Garden press conference should be on the issue of gun violence. All of our elected officials who want to be part of the solution can stand behind President Obama, chins up, faces in the sun and on camera. Maybe everyone with a seat at the table can put their Big Boy/Big Girl Pants on, calibrate their moral compass and do something.

So here we are, many months and 74 school shootings later and we are asking the same questions and engulfed in the same outrage.  All those months ago I wrote:

“I think mass killings are acts of terror and the person who carries out the carnage is a terrorist.  And you, our elected helpers, must act with the same urgency and solution based thought to prevent the next school shooting as you do to prevent other acts of terror.  You asked us to make you leaders.  You can’t be less heroic than innocent bystanders who never asked for the role.  It can’t be too much to ask for you to be honest, to engage in fair dialog and to put your personal interest after the interest of the country.”

And I’m back at it. I will hashtag and share and blog till my fingers are blue. I don’t profess to have the answers. But I believe without a doubt there’s a solution if our leaders follow the example of the victims and are brave enough to face the moment.

Will what I wrote here make any difference? Maybe not. But maybe it will move a reader or two to write a letter or two. And if you’re moved, I want to help!

Here’s a handy tool to find the contact information for your representatives and any representative in the country: http://www.contactingthecongress.org/

The USPS has tools and options to automate the messaging and mailing of postcards: https://www.usps.com/send/create-mail-and-postage.htm

With my next post, margagogo.com will return to its regularly scheduled programming and be back to the business of drinking margaritas and eating and laughing. But today is for a pause and a plea to our elected officials (Republicans and Democrats): Do something.

Please.

 

 

 

 

 

I learned long ago that when life hands me limes, it’s up to me to figure out how to turn them into something tasty.

So when this sunny Cinco de Mayo crept up on me – and me, a margarita aficionado had no plans, I had to spring into recovery mode to turn limes into margaritas.

5 Ideas for Cinco de Mayo Fun (for people like me who lack planning skills)

1. Make Guacamole and cry tears of joy. You can pick up all the ingredients on your way home and whip up a little love in a bowl. Since Guacamole is avocado mixed with anything, recipes vary. I like the simple set up that lets the ingredients stand out. My guacamole/guacrackole/crackamole recipe is:

  • 2 Avocados, mashed but chunky
  • 1 medium onion, white, chopped, about a cup
  • 1 medium tomato, juice and seeds removed, chopped
  • Cilantro to taste
  • Jalapeno to taste
  • Sea Salt to taste
  • Liberal dash of love
  • Mix but don’t mush!
  • Eat fast so you don’t have to share!

2. Make Scarlet Margaritas! I found this recipe on myrecipe.com. We have recipe/taste tested and my independent panel of judges approve. The drinks are festive and a taste sensation. Win/Win.

Scarlet Margs!

Scarlet Margs!

 

3. Make Margaritas from Mix! Ok, I said it. Don’t hate me. Sometimes cutting corners is the only way to celebrate a holiday without adding stress. So if picking up all the ingredients for a fresh-made drink is too much, you can get by with a bottle of tequila and a bottle of mix. For the tequila, I still suggest Milagro. For the mix, you’re on your own. But what ever you do, do not follow the instructions on the mix bottle. Those recipes usually suggest a 3 to 1 ratio of mix to tequila. If you’re looking for a spike in blood sugar, this is the way to go. If you want a reasonable drink, experiment and cut back on the mix and increase the tequila (I suggest a ratio of 1 to 1). Add lots of ice and … a message from my Dad … drink responsibly.

4. Margarita Ice Cream! This is so easy to make you’ll almost feel guilty when your friends worship you for your ice cream making skills.  This recipe is from Nigella Lawson so it makes sense that it’s called Nigella Lawson’s No Churn Margarita Ice Cream. After a rough year that included being choked by her husband, publically outed for a cocaine habit, banned from travelling to the US and getting divorced (well maybe that last one is a good thing) Nigella is someone who needs to turn her limes into something great. So thank goodness she has this recipe!

And this recipe is universally loved. When I made it, I got raves from someone who doesn’t like margaritas (gasp!), someone who doesn’t like ice cream (double gasp!) and someone who doesn’t drink at all (huh?). Everyone loves Margarita Ice Cream.

So check out Nigella Lawson’s site for all sorts of good stuff. I copied her recipe here (and did my best to convert measurements but please check them!)

  • 125ml lime juice (1/2 Cup)
  • 2 x 15ml tablespoons Tequila (2T)
  • 3 x 15ml tablespoons Cointreau or Triple sec (3T)
  • 150g icing sugar or powdered sugar (1 1/4 Cups)
  • 500ml double cream (2 Cups Heavy Cream)

 

Margarita Ice Cream

Margarita Ice Cream – I swear this picture doesn’t do this treat justice

 

5. Celebrate at a Place known for something other than Margaritas.  I’m turning my limes into an outing to Butter (NYC). Butter in Midtown is a cool space. It’s set underground and its high ceilings reach the street to let light shine into the restaurant. And they have Parker House Rolls – or at least what I remember as slightly sweet rolls, with a little salt on the top that were amazing (but maybe not Parker House shaped). And while I don’t exactly equate drinking margaritas with eating rolls, anything goes for this non-traditional Cinco de Mayo celebration!

Butter NYC

Margarita & Flowers, Butter NYC

 

Here’s wishing you turn all the limes in your life into the best margaritas ever!

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

 

 

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