Wednesday, September 29, 2010


I recently returned from a second trip to the Quad Cities, the only area along the Mississippi River where the water flows East-West, basically consisting of two cities in Iowa (Bettendorf, Davenport) and Illinois (Moline, Rock Island).

Aside from exploring any of the attractions and restaurants that I had not done on my prior trip in 2007, I was looking to see how Iowa was doing in regards to having passed the same sex marriage law. I couldn't believe that it was legal in Iowa and not in New York. Go figure!

Boarding Air Tran Esther, Eunice and I were invited into the cockpit for a photo op with the pilot and co-pilot.

Lunch at Cafe Fresh, in Moline, was the first stop on my itinerary. Basic bistro with soups, sandwiches, salads and dessert. One of their signature foods is a kosher pickle spear rolled up with cream cheese and ham. I had a chicken salad half of a veggie sandwich.

The rest of the afternoon was spent getting info on ceremonies and receptions. I went to Davenport to meet with Pastor Rich Hendricks of the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC)in Davenport. Having had a Gay Pride event in the area, I was also looking to get in touch with some hotels that listed themselves as being "gay friendly". With Illinois so near, I was interested in hearing about those residents coming into Iowa to tie the knot. Rich said that they needed to know that when Illinois passes the law and couple later found themselves filing for divorce that would first have to take up residence in Iowa for a year.

The Clarion Hotel in Davenport and the Holiday Inn in Rock Island were the two hotels that I checked out. Given the short distance between the two cities, couples had the option for holding the reception in either state. With the two hotels giving the "gay friendly" listing, it has boosted their economy even with small receptions.

Dinner was at Johnny's Italian Steakhouse in Moline located near the John Deere Pavilion. Dining with friends allowed me to sample more items on the menu which began with the Bette Bruschetta, focaccia topped with fresh tomatoes, chevre goat cheese and shrimp.

We did a family style salad with spinach and bacon.

When it Rome...I had what was the most tender piece of steak going, Johnny's Bone-in Rib Eye. It was dressed Oscar Style with crabmeat, asparagus and bearnaise sauce. We all saved room to share a dessert of chocolate mousse.

Johnny's is reminiscent of a traditional 40's style nightclub, which may explain the poster of Dean, Sammy and Frank.

As for the hotel, I stayed at the Residence Inn in Moline. The studio is complete with a full kitchen which at times housed my leftovers. There is a fitness center located across a courtyard which has a pit for those cooler nights...the courtyard, not the fitness center.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Let’s start with the brighter side of New York City; the neon lights of Broadway. I recently went to the Quad Cities. Those are four cities located along the Mississippi River where the water flows East and West and consists of two cities in Iowa and two in Illinois.

The Quad Cities Symphony Orchestra was having a Riverfront Pops at LeClaire Park in Davenport. It was comprised of Broadway songs and featured three Broadway stars: Stephanie J. Block (9 to 5), Lisa Vronman (Phantom of the Opera), and Hugh Panaro (Phantom of the Opera). In fact, Hugh had just begun his second Broadway run in the role of the masked phantom the week before. Coincidentally, I was already slated to review the recent two role changes just a few days after this concert. I must admit that having seen this production once on Broadway and once in Toronto, his performance was the most outstanding in regards to both his acting and vocal ability.

Hugh originally took the role of Raoul in 1990 and was later cast as “the man behind the mask” in 1999. He either must have been quite young as Raoul or keeps himself from not looking his age now. I can’t wait for the CD to come out with this cast. That’s not to say that Sarah Jean Ford’s role as Christine produced any less enjoyment.

Mayor Bloomberg and the planting of trees. Perhaps the old ones should have been cut down before these new ones went up. I got one in front of my house. They want me to maintain it. I didn’t ask for it. There are enough trees across the street in Forest Park. We just had a whole bunch of trees knocked down from last week’s storm. If any of Bloomberg’s trees fell down and caused damage, can he be sued? I don’t mean suing the City as he is the one that made the decision to “go green”.

The Department of Transportation has been going around issuing violations regarding the sidewalks. I was told that due to the cracks or whatever in the pavement that it was a hazard. I have choice of applying for a permit and contracting a company to have it repaired (they have decided that 60 square feet of it was necessary), or they will do it for $8 per square foot. I had patchwork done and it is no longer a hazard. However, they have decided that it is not good enough. I can appeal this by first filing a petition of appeal that costs $30. I’m trying to first get that they own the sidewalk but I have to maintain it. What puzzles me is why this is under the jurisdiction of the Department of Transportation. Are they concerned that if someone were to ride on my sidewalk that the cracks would cause the vehicle to skid and go into the street?

I have come across many sidewalks that have a section raised due to the roots of a tree. Patchwork has been done, but it is still a hazard. Perhaps that can raze that tree which will make one less to crash down on a car or pedestrian.

A law gets passed to help homeowners, especially, to not have to deal with fliers, etc. Despite the sign I have in my window, I still get the pesky stuff. What’s more is that if I don’t recycle it, I can be fined by the Dept of Sanitation. They, of course, don’t make it easy to have the City enforce this law and make it extremely difficult for you to complain, as you are responsible for mailing the advertisements along with forms. I would love to know if any company paid the $250 fine.

Quality of Life. Another one from Bloomberg. Noise and not necessarily after 11 p.m. My neighbors blast their music for hours as it echoes throughout the backyards. I tried going to the neighbor and was told that someone else’s music was loud. So, therefore it’s okay to make yours louder to compensate? At first she said that she would lower it. I heard the conversation afterward as that echoed in the backyard. It lowered a bit but then the party attendees basically told her that I should go screw myself and the volume was back. Despite the many times that I called 311 or the local precinct, no one came over.

Water meters. First they were insistent on putting in new meters so they could read them from outside your house. They then decided that the employees feet must have been in pain from so much walking. They came to install yet another gadget so that it could be read my computer or cable, or whatever. DEP came to my house and wanted access to the meter threatening me with “denial of access charges”. What’s the matter, they are having a problem with their new idea or did they forget that they already installed the gadget?

Now, let’s see how this goes. If New York City can make money by giving you a fine or employing them, there are enough employees to enforce the laws. However, if the laws look as if they are on your side (Oh, look what Bloomberg is doing for us), there’s either no one available to enforce them or you’re forced to “give up”. I, personally give up on New York City.