Guess I picked the wrong month to brag about not being a snowbird, to revel in staying home in New York, with the glory of the seasons, which would include winter.
I was so proud of having all that culture and entertainment a few miles to the west. We have tickets to Symphony Space to see the film of the Bennett play from the National Theatre.
It’s around 10 degrees outside.
I don’t think we’re getting out of our driveway.
# # #
(My little riff on snowbirding the other day)
We read in the Times the other day that Florida is supplanting New York as the third most populous state.
I can exclusively reveal here that I am not joining the exodus. We tried snowbirding in Florida 20 years ago, and it didn’t take. My wife made a splendid discovery of a low-slung condo in Boca Raton with a gorgeous view of the blue-green ocean, on the theory that it was halfway between the Yankee spring camp in Fort Lauderdale and the Mets’ camp in that wasteland of Port St. Lucie.
I would get up in the morning, take a delightful jog and then have breakfast and read the paper and take a shower and notice it was 10 o’clock in the morning, and what the hell was I going to do with the rest of the day? I never did figure it out.
Maybe we were too young. Fifty. We found concerts in Miami and an Indian restaurant in Coral Gables and strong coffee on Calle Ocho and a Thai restaurant in Boca.
One night in a restaurant my son-in-law pointed out a well-known gangster, warily sitting with a view of the front door. I thought he was in hiding. Most people we met had a murky story – new name, new face, new fingerprints, new spouse. Everybody seemed to come from somewhere else.
Many of the people in our complex were from Ohio, Michigan and Ontario. I found myself hanging out at the guardhouse with a Cuban guard from Miami and an Italian guard from Brooklyn. We told stories and laughed. Sal the handyman had coached Craig Biggio in Little League back on Long Island. We talked baseball.
My wife and I kept the blinds open at night because of the direct view of the ocean. But I would be awakened by the reflection in the mirror of the blinking red lights of ambulances visiting the complex. Ask not for whom the light blinks.
Commuting from work in New York, I began to have vivid dreams of slush and sleet and snow and fog and drizzle. The plane home would emerge from the clouds and screech to a landing at dank gelid LaGuardia and I would go, Yessssss!
So we sold. I still love Florida to visit – the Vietnamese restaurant in Orlando, rice and beans in Ybor City, funky downtown St. Pete, looking for Casey Stengel. But I’m paying the horrendous taxes in New York. It’s home. Everybody needs to know where home is.
I know Florida for its election scandal of 2000 and its unsavory Gov. Scott and the Trayvon Martin tragedy. But I’m not worried if Florida gains a seat in the House and New York loses one.
I turn on the tube and I hear Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who sounds like all the girls in my junior high school in Rego Park, Queens -- and no wonder, she’s originally from Forest Hills -- and Rep. Alan Grayson, who reminds me of classmates at Jamaica High -- and no wonder, Grayson is from Bronx Science. Billy Donovan coaches at Florida. Donna Shalala runs the University of Miami. We are exporting clear-thinking strong personalities just to help our friends in Florida. Some of us are staying behind.
12/29/2013 05:53:23 pm
GV - The rest of the country can't fathom what it's like here (until they move here full time and then you can never get rid of them). It is a combination roller coaster, fun house, pickpocket convention and emergency ward, along with a conveniently attached junior one-bedroom. Everywhere else, they need guns to feel safe. Here, we just need a good barber and a reliable butcher and we're set.
12/30/2013 01:11:45 am
Charlie, thanks. Florida did have its moments...I think it would have helped if I had any interest in golf. St. Pete felt more like home....Boca felt like a witness-protection area. Let's talk again when the weather gets worse in NY late this week -- or for the great Super Bowl blizzard in a month. GV
12/30/2013 04:39:17 am
Hey, I'm with you George, and here in the Connecticut River Valley the November-March weather is even more inhospitable than it is in NY metro area. That said, a Florida sojourn in February is restoring. Let me add a couple of favorites to your highlights list, both in Coral Gables: Books & Books (bookstore, what else?) and Hotel St. Michel, a 1920s European style hotel. Used to feature live jazz during the cocktail hour and the best croissants and dark, rich coffee this side of Paris. Haven't been in years. Wonder if it's still charming. Happy New Year, George.
12/30/2013 05:12:17 am
Pete, thanks, had I known....we did find a movie theatre in Coral Gables that had the occasional art or foreign film....Fact is, we had a pretty good circle in south Florida....but not like being "home."
12/30/2013 11:41:37 am
Cool -- and funny! I kinda agree. We were "west coast" Florida visitors (Sarasota). Selby Garden, cool (never hot) sand, Long Boat Key, Europa on Armand Key, Ringling Museum, the Van Wezel. When the house was left to us, we sold out. No point. Nice area, but not enough without the loved ones. Happy with the memories, but don't need the hassle. Too crowded. Still, I wish the snowbirds well.
12/30/2013 01:21:36 pm
That horrible socialistic health-care? Had they no pride?
Thor A. Larsen
12/30/2013 02:46:05 pm
In the 1980's we spent two weeks a year visiting family in the Fort Lauderdale area generally around the Christmas Holdiay Season and particularly enjoyed the Deerfield Beach area, including the 'mechanical water skiing system they had on a lake near the coast. Weather was almost always warm, although humid except for one year. One year we went in February and enjoyed Yankees training (before they moved to the West Coast). This year will be the first year we will escape Fishkill, NY for some warmth and we will head to Scottsdale, AR for six weeks. Having been in Scottsdale before, the area has much more to offer for us than Florida. The many scenic parks, perfect for plein air painting, hiking, Scottsdale's art galleries, museums and general culture in Phoenix, several baseball team's training sites as well as charming small towns of Sedona, Flagstaff make the area irresistable for us.The dry, warm climate seems ideal in Feb/March when we will be there. In addition, the population density is considerably lower than Florida.I hate traffic and driving there is much easier than Florida in the 1980's. The one concern we have is this will be longest time we will be away from the New York area for more than 3 weeks in 30 years, so we may suffer some NY withdrawal pains. Aside from this escape and shorter international trips during the year, we MUST BE within 2 hours of the Big Apple and we LOVE every time we go. To us, the greater expenses to reside in New York is well worth it.
12/31/2013 01:57:59 am
Thor, good trip. I've taken some good walks (wouldn't call them hikes) in those parks. Once almost ran into -- or vice versa -- a small herd of javelinas snorting their way through the underbrush near Sedona. Those rock formations are supernatural. We've all got our comfort zones. I consider Port Washington to be East Queens -- as far from Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan as I can stand. Happy New Year. GV
12/31/2013 06:11:56 am
My only experience with Florida was the few times we visited my mother-in-law in Miami Beach when our children were young. It was great doing all the kid things including the beach and the Monkey Jungle. My favorite was the several trips up the inland coastal water way by small boat.
12/31/2013 12:24:43 pm
First, thank you George for your kind wishes and a Very Happy New Year to you and Marianne! Alan, since you pass us on the way to Massachusetts, it would be a pleasure to have you stop by and spend some time with us in Fishkill. (When the weather improves!). We also enjoy Cold Spring and could meet you there if you preferred. There is of course, River View in Cold Spring which offers fine Italian food and overlooks the Hudson and perhaps this is the restaurant you were referring to.
1/4/2014 06:34:17 am
12/31/2013 07:25:49 am
Et tu, Giorgio? We had no interest in Florida, but wanted to: 1. stop falling down after ice storms, 2. Stop 90 minute rides from NYC to Albertson, 3. Live somewhere near sea, (Gulf counts) and 4. Have arts, music, plays available handily.
1/4/2014 07:53:04 am
1/4/2014 08:58:16 am
Alan, we did not go last night. The possibility of the LIRR doing something hideous near midnight in zero weather convinced us. Our son had to walk home from Douglaston when the LIRR quit during a snowstorm last winter. We love Bennett -- once saw him do a monologue when Maggie Smith turned up sick in London. Love Symphony Space. Saw the McGarrigles there. And once saw Colleen Dewhurst do Molly Bloom's soliloquy on Bloomsday. Best, GV
1/6/2014 07:22:41 am
I'll stay away from politics and religion - this time - but not the weather. I have some responsibility at my Manhattan office for deciding whether or not we are open for business, i.e., whether or not folks are expected to report to work, whether from East 34th Street, Horse Country, NJ or Off-Shore, CT. I decided (via E-mail) we'd be open on Friday and thus felt obliged to report. LIRR was on a weakened schedule, and my branch does not run on the weekend. So I trudged about a mile south in the morning to an operative branch, got on a mostly empty train which was running on time and arrived to a mostly empty office. I was appreciative that I had to trudge south because I could feel the blizzard at my back.
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From the great Maureen Dowd:
As I write this, I’m in a deserted newsroom in The Times’s D.C. office. After working at home for two years during Covid, I was elated to get back, so I could wander around and pick up the latest scoop.
But in the last year, there has been only a smattering of people whenever I’m here, with row upon row of empty desks. Sometimes a larger group gets lured in for a meeting with a platter of bagels."
--- Dowd writes about the lost world of journalists clustered in newsrooms at all hours, smoking, drinking, gossipping, making phone calls, typing, editing.
"Putting out the paper," we called it.
Much more than nostalgia.