Monday, November 23, 2009

The first and last days of Billy the Kid

I didn't realize until now that today, Nov. 23, may have been the birthday of Billy The Kid -- who may have been born in New York City. If true, puts the last verse of Billy Joel's "Ballad of Billy the Kid" into a different light with the potential for an Empire State connection.

But what's certain is that he was killed on July 14, 1881, which sent me back to The Archives for the account of my 1998 cross-country trip to see when I visited family in Silver City, New Mexico -- where Billy spent some time up to and during the the Lincoln County War until he was killed. I wrote little of Billy the Kid during that trip -- though I did mention him a couple of times -- and apparently didn't realize I was in Silver City on July 14, 1998, the 117th anniversary of his death. Even though one of my American history courses in college touched on Billy and the war, and I was intrigued enough to explore a little of downtown Silver City and the nearby nearby one-horse outpost of Pinos Altos, I didn't delve into the local history of the Bonney boys as I might were I to go back there today.

A wild West showdown —
It happened here for Billy,
Lincoln County War.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

And the harried holidays start ... now

In some ways, it feels like we're about a week from Christmas, because the stores began putting out the displays before Halloween, the commercials started airing shortly thereafter and Santa was already taking requests at the Short Hills mall during the first week of November.

In reality, we're still four days from Thanksgiving, the weather has remained mild and I have yet to shift my polos and other short-sleeved shirts from the front of my closet to the back, replaced with the flannels and their long-sleeved cousins. And Thursday will be here before I know it. Casey already began preparations for the biggest gathering we've hosted -- 14 people this year -- and I've got three errand-filled days and two work-required nights before my mother-in-law and her friend arrive on Wednesday afternoon.

Should it all go to plan, I expect to have accomplished the following by the time we sit down to dinner on Wednesday night:

  • Taken the car to have the tires rotated and oil changed. Clearly not holiday-related, but it's overdue. Plus, I always time the trip to the Hackensack Sears for late morning, so I can hit White Manna, take a seat and get my order in before the lunch rush arrives.
  • Cleaned the house, top to bottom. This is Tuesday's task, which Casey and I will team up to handle. We've put off some sweeping and vacuuming for about two weeks knowing we'd just be doing it again before the holiday.
  • Put up the Christmas lights. Yep, breaking a small tradition of mine, which was to pencil in this task for one of the days of the long Thanksgiving weekend. However, with Thankgiving falling later in November this year (which I suspect is the reason for some of the early signs of the season noted in the intro to this post), I feel justified in putting up the lights on Wednesday, which is Nov. 25 -- one month before Christmas. Plus, I'm eager to have them up for all to see in person on Thursday night.
  • Squeeze in one more minor, but not necessary task. I'd hoped to have accomplished more by now, but barring the acquisition of a DeLorean equiped with a Flux Capacitor, I'll have to settle for hoping I get the previous tasks done with time to spare on either Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday to give me a chance to create a mix for Thursday, organize the basement room into something less obviously a haphazard rec room or fully get the office in order.
And with Friday most likely our usual day in NYC with the visiting family, it looks like any resumption to running and, oh, more than six hours of sleep won't come until Saturday, at the earliest.

Friday, November 13, 2009

So long, Cheyenne

So I had no idea that the Cheyenne Diner was shipped off to Alabama. To be more accurate -- I had no idea that it had been bought with plans to move it down south. Somehow that all managed to happen without me catching word of it or someone mentioning it in conversation. I'd never been there, and I'm not a diner aficionado by any means, but I always appreciated the classic look of it. I just wish I'd gotten a shot of that neon at night.

And now the Empire Diner on 10th Ave. in Chelsea is changing hands and, inevitably, names. I see that one every time I head home that way, which is three or four nights out of five a week. (Incidentally, I am now addicted to Google Reader. Casey was right about how invaluable it is. I never would've seen these things if I didn't have these New York blogs among my growing list of things to read -- or at least scan -- each day.)

So in a weird coincidence, part of the reason I'd taken this picture of the Cheyenne Diner a couple of years ago was because I had seen a photo challenge that sought contemporary images of the places in the opening scene of Woody Allen's Manhattan. There's a diner in that montage, and my first thought was that it was the Cheyenne, because I didn't recall seeing the name on it. As you watch the intro to the movie, you'll see why that little recall would've helped me -- it's the Empire Diner that's among the images of Woody's Manhattan. Those scenes are a scrapbook of late-70s New York, from the old yellow cabs to the seedy Times Square to another now-lost sliver, Washington Square Park with the old fountain at its off-center alignment with the arch.

Upon rewatching that clip, it also occurred to me that he goes off the island to show Yankee Stadium for nearly 10 seconds, beginning at the 2:51 mark. The ballpark, of course, is not in Manhattan. They're the Bronx Bombers, not the Manhattan Maulers. And that now, too, is disappearing.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

New tags in New York

New York is getting new license plates.

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with cars and, by extension, license plates. I'm nothing close to the collector and historian my mom's cousin (I think that makes him my first cousin once removed) in California is, but I'm still drawn to them, both for the design of the clever or unique and for the amusement of reading an owner's choice for personalization.

But after a visit to Geddy's in Bar Harbor, Maine, last year, the bug bit me again. The store beneath the restaurant sold used plates and with a whole basement (well, a half-finished basement) to myself in our house, I flipped through the offerings and bought a few that I had always enjoyed, like Utah's Delicate Arch and Arizona's desert colors. We dug up Casey's various Pennsylvania plates, a few random ones I'd had in my bedroom as a kid (the old orange-and-blue New York, Vermont, various Maine tags) and I started planning how they'd hang in the basement.

I also started a new quest to collect as many license plates from states that feature lighthouses as an option. Most of those direct a portion of the cost to beach or seashore preservation, like New Jersey's -- which I've had on my car, in three letter/number combinations, since I got my first set of wheels in college.

So the news of New York's new tags piqued my curiosity. But the funny thing about the change New York is making next year is that my first thought -- after noticing their resemblance to the old plates -- was how would people react to the shift away from the red, white and blue of the Statue of Liberty plates. And then I remembered that those were nearly a decade ago, and they've had the blue and white -- from Niagra Falls to the City -- since 2001.

Guess those didn't make much of an impression on me.