Thursday, August 30, 2012


On August 29, 2012, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer presented Eugene Lang with his long-awaited Purple Heart award that he earned due to injuries he suffered in combat over 40 years ago during the Vietnam War.  Following outreach from sources such as Mr. Lang, his attorney and the news media that brought this attention, Schumer and staff member Caroline Wekselbaum successfully petitioned the US Army to approve Mr. Lang's long-overdue Purple Heart.

The ceremony took place at the home of  Eugene Lang along with his wife Enid (they have been happily married for 33 years), daughter Erica and son Matthews as Schumer presented the medal in person.  Joining them were Lang's attorney Don Singer, his commanding officer Joe Carpenter, local VA veterans, as well as friends and family.

Gene actually received 4 medals this day.  Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal with "V" device, Vietnam Campaign ribbon with a Silver Star and Good conduct Medal.

Three Boys From Italy aka Gaudio's Italian Family in Yorktown Hts. provided two 6-foot long sandwiches, one American and one Italian, while another local store Turco's sent over a gift basket of fresh fruit.  Less work for Enid to do. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


My friend Laurie and I pondered over where to have dinner.  Searching on the internet got us looking at a restaurant that I haven't been to in years.  Prima Pasta, located at 161-50B Crossbay Blvd. in Howard Beach.  What I recall about this Southern Italian restaurant is that one of there "things" is that you pick a pasta and you pick a sauce for a low price.  I think that 20 years ago it was $5.99.   Now it's still low at a price of $8.95 and if you opt for the fresh pasta, it's only a buck more!

Hey wait!  For the $9.95 you're looking at: gnocchi, lasagna, stuffed shells, cheese tortellini, cavatelli, manicotti, cheese ravioli, and baked zita!

That is not even the hype there!  Owner Antonetta Modica had put in coal brick ovens for the pizza.  A one-person size (if you're not sharing) costs $6.  Okay, you pay extra for toppings for both the pizza and pasta.  Your basic pizza is made with fresh mozzarella!  I even took one home. Antonetta told me where she got them from (not made on the premises) and it's someone who makes it starting with the milk, rather than from the milk curd.  Sampling it had me tasting a fresh mozzarella with an almost consistency of the inside of a burrata. 

So, we're ready to choose our pasta and sauce when our waiter, Pablo, tells us about the All Day Tuesday prixe fixe menu a modo mio.  You choose soup or salad.  We both ordered the Ceasar Salad. Then a pasta of either Penne Vodka...we both opted for this...or Marinara.  Entree choices: Chicken Parmigiana or Frances; Veal Marsala or Cacciatore; Tilapia Oreganata; Eggplant Parmigiana; and Shrimp Parmigiana.  Veal Marsala for me; Tilapia Oreganata for Laurie.   Then you also get coffee or tea and a mini-cannoli.  Are you ready for the price?  $16.95.

The meal began with Pablo bringing out a pitcher of water with limes in it...there is always some fruit in the water.  Bread basket consists of garlic knots and what would be described as strips of pizza with sauce.  I recalled that when people our outside waiting on line to get in, they bring out the strips for people to nosh on.

Salad dressing for the Caesar Salad made me recollect how much I loved their dressing!  Pasta course gave me a remember that delicious sauce.   Both entrees came with fresh string beans, carrots, and a piece of potato that I think was cooked in a broth.  

There is certainly a great deal more to their menu.  What both Antonetta and chef Felix pride themselves on is that they use fresh ingredients.  Check it out on   Parking?'s free!


"We support sustainability - from the food we buy, the wine we serve to the finishes and furniture in the restaurant".  That's what you'll see at the bottom of Amaili's menu, just a glimpse into their Mediterranean fare, that combines a sort of Greek and Italian style cuisine.

In the Mediterranean area it is much known that people will shop locally just for their day meals.  Markets are set up with produce of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as cheese and meats.  At Amali (www., chef Borges, Jr. makes his purchases at the farmer's market in Manhattan's Union Square, the market in the Bronx, and partner with local fisherman from Long Island.  They will even get cuts of meat from locally raised animals and do the butchering at the restaurant.  You can find the summer months roasting while animals and large cuts of meat outdoors on Fridays and Saturdays.

Amali's is all about using the fresh products with a twist on tastes so that the exact cuisine is not recognizable.  I would be best to talk about the tasting, so let's get into the appetizers.  Heirloom Tomatoes with basil, basil seeds, sea salt and olive oil (imported).  Heirloom tomatoes are meant for a salad as they are a combination of both size and color that vary in taste.

Bake eggplant, roll the slices and add Calabrian chili, honey vinaigrette, a bit a sesame, cilantro and place atop yogurt.  The yogurt cools down kick of the chili, even though I didn't find it to be that spicy.  Good call on  something different!

Burrata di Campagna is imported.  The harden part of this really flavorful mozzarella lends way to the whey in the middle. Sprinkle on some Greek olive oil and maldon sea salt, a special kind of sea salt that flakes but doesn't exactly melt if you use it in cooking.

Pastas are made in-house such as the Cappelletti.  Char some figs, make a pear puree and fold it in the pasta with mascarpone.  Top it with a bit chili, butter and dandelion greens for a unique savory flavor.

You can expect to find lamb on the menu ( the entree choices, not the animal itself).  We had slices of lamb from the leg. I don't even remember what it was cooked in or topped was just mouth watering.

Then there was the Seared Scallops with a pistachio puree and crumble, roasted beets, pickled blueberries and greens.  I need to crumble up some pistachios and make a few things.  This entree was certainly a great combination of flavors.

We're on to dessert.  Most interesting was the Katafi Cannoli that certainly combines both the Italian and Greek cuisine.  The cannoli shells are made from a cut up filo dough that makes it look at if the filling is in a nest.  The stuffing is a sheep's milk ricotta, honey comb and fennel pollen.

Various flavored gelatos are also offered as well as one panna cotta dessert called "Mavrotragano Vin Cotto".  The glass of a wonderfully delicious panna cotta (cooked cream with gelatin) is topped with cooked Mavrotragano grapes.

Did I forget to tell you about their making syrups for their own sodas?  It is a combo of a fruit and an herb.  

Saturday, August 18, 2012


It’s been a running thing for years that my friend Susan Liben, who has been more than an avid fan of Dean Martin, wants to team up with me, an avid fan, but not necessarily a follower, of Jerry Lewis.   Susan knows all of Dean’s songs and life.   I can do a pretty good imitation of Jerry Lewis…really.  

Dean Martin has “passed on” some years ago leaving his legacy to his daughter, Deana, a singer and performer.    I did meet her when Susan and I attended an annual Dean Martin festival in Steubenville, OH.   Now here she was performing at Feinstein’s at the Regency Hotel, which may be the last of the legit nightclubs in New York City.  

Deana was joined by her talented band: Vincent Falcone conducting and at the piano; Lincoln Millman on the bass; Ted Sommer on drums and Bucky Pizzarelli on the guitar. 

The night brought songs such as Mack The Knife, Volare, Return To Me, Ain’t That A Kick In The Head, That’s Amore and The Lady Is A Tramp.   Deana talked about her father and members of “The Rack Pack”.   Memories Are Made Of This…and yes, that was sung as well.  

She came out into the audience to have us participate in That’s Amore and brought up three women from the crowd to join her in Memories Are Made of This as they sung the line, “sweet, sweet, the memories you gave to me”.

Her father’s humor came through during her banter.    No, she doesn’t sound like Dean and that’s okay. However, she does do his schtick of taking a sip of what is supposed to look like a martini.   

Deana had written a book entitled, “Memories Are Made Of This”, Dean Martin through his daughter’s eyes, soon to be movie.    It looks as if Jennifer Love Hewitt will portray Deana and rumor has it that Johnny Depp will take the Dean role although Deana said that it was still open. 

We also got a glimpse into a future recording of her singing a duet with her father.  Dean Martin was on screen singing, “True Love”  as Deana sang her part.  

Some celebs were there that evening including Pia Zadora and Sal Scognamillo, chef of the famous Patsy’s restaurant.   Sal brought sample bottles  of his sauces.   

Photos:  Susan and Deana;  Deana and her husband, John; Bucky Pizzarelli;  Pia Isadora; Sal Scognamillo

You can check out the schedule of entertainment at Feinstien’s by going to     


Bring It On, the Musical has been transported from screen to Broadway and is certainly something to cheer about.  Think of it as Glee with cheerleading as the main subject. In fact, not only are most of the cast debuting on stage but the main cheerleaders were actually sought all over for their cheerleading ability. So, expect some high flying and professional stunts.

The story begins at the last day of the school year at Truman High School with Cambell (Taylor Loudermann) asking the higher power to assist in becoming the Captain of the cheerleading squad as she becomes a senior.  Lunchtime that day will determine the outcome. Taylor believes that she can lead Truman High to the Nationals.

Before I continue, here are the basic characters.  At Truman we have:  Campbell, our heroine; Skylar (Kate Rockwell), her outspoken best friend; Kylar (Janet Krupin), Skylar’s protégée;  Bridget (Ryann Redmond), chubby and portraying the school master;  Steven (Neil Haskell), Campbell’s boyfriend; Eva (Elle McLemore), a sweet and innocent freshman.

At Jackson High: Danielle (Adrienne Warren), head of a fierce dance crew; La Cienega (Gergory Haney), her transgender female friend on the crew; Nautica (Ariana DeBose), buddy to both and also on the crew; Randall (Jason Gotay), an aspiring dj; Cameron (Dominique Johnson), Danielle’s boyfriend; and Twig (Nicolas Womack), Cameron’s buddy. 

Back to the script.  Skylar is vying for the Captain position as well.  Taylor gets the position but loses it as she is being transferred to Jackson High due to her residence suddenly being in another district.  That may be due to the succession of Captains – Cambell, Skylar, Kylar, Eva.

Jackson does not have a cheerleading squad, rather, a “hip hop crew”.  There’s no point in saying that there will be a vying to include both Jackson and Truman. Oh, the only other person transferred is Bridget.

Bring It On, the Musical, just by the title, tells you that there will be singing and choreography.  Here is where we get to acknowledge the behind the scenes crew, too many to mention. Let’s just thank them all for giving us such a play that provides great music, a good story and thrills in both the dancing and cheerleading.

I loved the entire show and all of its talented cast…a true piece of entertaining theatre.  As Bridget says, “Shut the front door and slap my ass with the screen”. 

Bring It On, the Musical is being performed at the St. James Theatre at 246 W. 44 St.


When it comes to entertainment in Queens you can always count on Queens Performing Arts Center, located at Queensborough Community College, 222-05 56th Avenue in Bayside.   The lineup of talent for this season is so great. It includes the Professional  Series, Movies, and Spotlights.

Sunday, September, 30th brings international music legend Dionne Warwick as she enters her 50th year in show business with her latest cd of Sammy Cahn standards.   Pasquale Caputo, aka Pat Cooper, who will be joined with two other comedians for even more laughs, appears on Oct. 7th.  On Oct. 14th, Tony Orlando stars with comedian Elayne Boosler, which is sure to be an evening of great songs and laughter.

The Capitol Steps will make an appearance on Oct. 21st as they spoof the upcoming candidacy with their latest show, Take The Money And Run For President.   More comedy as former SNL and emmy-nominated  Rob Schneider performs on Nov. 17th.  

Three of the most admired and legendary Broadway superstars Donna McKechnie,  Ken Page and Leroy Bean take us on a musical journey celebrating their illustrious careers on the Great White Way. Performing the show-stopping songs for which they are best known, these three icons have starred in some of the greatest musicals of all time including Cats, Ain't Misbehavin', A Chorus Line, 42nd Street, State Fair, Company, On The Town, Promises, Promises, The Wiz, Guys and Dolls, Hello Dolly, Beauty And The Beast and Sweet Charity.

QPAC’s Movie Series is fabulous for folks who love to sing along with the soundtrack.  If you haven’t gotten enough of the Wizard Of Oz (I can act out three scenes on my own) join fans on Oct. 20th. 

The season doesn’t just include 2012.   Stay tuned for names such as Tommy Tune, Tommy James, Rich Little, Charo, Hal Linden as well as a performance of the play, You’ve Got Hate Mail, as well as their Children’s Series.

One thing you can count on at QPAC is paying much lower prices than Broadway and free parking.  Box office: 718-631-6311. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012


There are so many stupid commercials on television.  I was aware of one in the background about toilet paper.  It's not enough to buy just the toilet paper but they want you to buy a "wipe" along with it, in case you can't fully wipe your ass, I suppose.  A husband and wife are giving a name to the duo as the daughter enters by telling them that it is called, "The freshy fresh" and making the parents feel stupid because they weren't up on the "word".  What really makes this commercial even more stupid is that you can go to the Cottonelle's website and get to name the way you wipe your ass.  I can't imagine that you would need a whole care for either sex's genitals.  I came up with two:  End Zone Touchdown and Double Doody. 

Anyone seen the one about Tortino's Pizza Rolls?   Two teenage boys are at one of their house, looking in the freezer where we can obviously see a box of Tortino's Pizza Rolls.  One calls him mother who is out shopping.  He uses his cellphone to call.  Heaven forbid that he might have to use a land line.  Okay...he says, "Mom, we're dying" to which she answers, "No your not. Your just hungry".  She tells him to take out a box of Tortino's Pizza Rolls, to which he replies, "There aren't any", despite the box being so obvious.  She say, "front...left".  The kids are a bit surprised and as they take it, this mom's son lays down his cellphone on top of something in the freezer.  I'm guessing that both of the teenage boys have been playing hookie from school since day one as they have not learned to read.  Mom also needs to take away the cell phone in case he is in the bathroom for fear that he will drop it in the toilet bowl as he is about to put his weiner back into his pants. 

I will continue this as I think of others. 


Atraking to Albany I arrived in the morning, giving me much of the day to explore some of the main attractions, the first being Albany Institute of History and Art, located in the downtown area.  "Step inside one of the oldest museums in North America for a glimpse of what life was like in old Albany and the Upper Hudson Valley through an amazing collection of furniture, clothing, paintings, silver and photographs, all celebrating the importance of this region in American history".

Accompanied by Schuyler Bull, we took a tour through the museum beginning with some recent acquisitions to include works of art and decorative furniture such as an oak table from the early 20th century.

One room featured an exhibit called "First in the Hearts of His Countrymen" exploring the impact of George Washington, whose likeness both during life and since his death has adorned and inspired thousands of artists, sculptors, and craftspeople. 

Another exhibition, Great, Strange, and Rarely Seen places on view the little known collections from the Albany Institute.  Chinese lacquer, intricately carved Japanese netsuke, and eighteenth-century English porcelain statuettes.  Then there are other collections like patent models and human hair jewelry.   The exhibition also includes panoramic photographs, unusual clocks,  British and American fortepianos, and riches from the Library.

The most interesting of the collection is in the room displaying Ancient Egypt through art and objects to include two mummies.  

A quick lunch at Melvile's Mug a specialty coffee cafe named for Herman Melville.  The cafe is located in Clinton Square across the way from the Palace Theater.  

Albany Visitors Center, located in Quackenbush Square, gave me the opportunity to view a 10-minute video presentation with an orientation of the city.  

The New York State Museum was the next stop. It is difficult to give a full description of this massive museum, the largest museum of this sort in the US.  I'm guessing that the goal it to tell the story of New York State, both cultural and natural with many galleries.  "The World Trade Center: Rescue, Recovery, Response", is one of the most recent exhibit to a major museum regarding the 911 disaster. 

A gallery devoted to Harlem is another.  We took in a depiction of a Mohawk Iroquois village longhouse and up on the 5th floor, a functioning 36-hourse carousel that was hand-carved in Brooklyn in the 1980s.  

Last stop was the Capitol Building one of only a few in the US that does not have a dome. Located at Empire State Plaza, architecture is a main topic here that not only emphasize the exterior but also the ceilings, walls and major staircases. The Great Western Staircase, also known as the Million Dollar Staircase, took an unheard of 14 years to construct, from 1883-1897 and cost, more than one million dollars. Most of the work was accomplished by stone cutters that came from Italy.  We did view the large Senate Chamber.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


My memories of going to baseball games puts me at Yankee Stadium and seeing players such as Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Clete Boyer, Bobby Richardson, Moose Skowron, Whitey Ford and Yogi Berra.  When I left The Bronx, baseball didn't seem to be as much fun.

I recently had the opportunity to take a trip to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown for the 2012 inductions of Barry Larkin and Ron Santo via a company called Sports Travel and Tours. This HOF Weekend included: Two nights hotel accommodations at the Comfort Inn and Suites in Albany (free breakfast); round trip motorcoach transfers to and from Cooperstown;  membership to the National Baseball Hall of Fame; admission to the Induction Ceremony; a trip reception and dinner the first evening; plus a few souvenirs of which one was an engraved collectable mini bat. 

Baseball fans came from afar to experience the weekend events.  I made my way to Albany via Amtrak. I must say that the ride was quite comfortable as well as scenic. Inside information tells me that Amtrak now has an E-ticket.  Check it out on

There were two bus loads.  John Werner was the ever knowledgeable tour guide on our bus as we were off Saturday morning to Cooperstown.  Main Street, the main street, was crowded with baseball fans looking for souvenirs and autographs.  Many famed baseball players were signing at a cost.  Many fans were happy enough just to see and say "hello" to their heroes.  I missed being able to chat with Yogi Berra.

The Baseball Hall of Fame was my first stop but with too much to see, I focused on two exhibits: Diamond Dreams: Women In Baseball; and the old Yankee players.  Across the street the post office was issuing stamps with the players who were being inducted.  You could buy stamps, or get a one of those artistic envelopes with a canceled stamp.

Over at Doubleday Field an awards presentation took place in the afternoon. 

Early evening brought the Hall of Fame Parade of Legends that featured the famed players as they would each be seated in the back of a truck waving to the fans lining Main Street.  Yogi Berra was not able to make an appearance but Whitey Ford did.

Sunday morning got us back to Cooperstown for the induction ceremony.  The sun was beaming (I forgot to wear my cap and sunscreen that Sports Travel and Tours provided) as each of the living legendary HOF players were introduced and seated.  Yogi Berra was introduced and Willy Mays helped Yogi to his seat.  Willy was the next to be acknowledged.

If you weren't seated close enough there were big screens to view instead.  In fact there was much more to see on the screens involving each of their careers.  It was then time for Barry Larkin and Ron Santo's induction.  Ron's wife accepted the plaque.

Back on the bus, a few more souvenirs, and we're at the hotel.  Some of us decided to have dinner at the mall across the way from the hotel.  Great job, John!  You can check out the upcoming sports tours at