Naughty or Nice?

Everyone knows that Santa’s Workshop is at the North Pole.  It’s probably not the most geographically desirable location, but, I’m sure he got a good deal on the real estate.  It just seems to me that if location, location, location is everything then the North Pole may be a little inefficient as a travel hub for him.  I’m theorizing that if Santa wanted to cut his mileage in half and save on some reindeer kibble all he would have to do is spend the Christmas season in Midtown Manhattan.  Recently, I have learned, through personal experience, that about 60% of the world’s population converges on Midtown during the holiday season.  Naughty and nice.  It’s all here.  And it all seems to revolve around one very large spruce tree in Rockefeller Center.

The tree going up in the plaza in November.

The tree going up in the plaza in November.

The holiday season is in full swing here in New York.   And, I’m sure Santa’s fine tuning his naughty and nice list.  Of course, without question, on the nice list is the lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.  The joy of the season all seems to be wrapped up in 30,000 lights, 5 miles of wiring, and one very large Swarovski crystal star.

I was lucky enough to attend this year’s lighting of the tree.  And, as is typical for New York, nothing is done modestly and the tree lighting follows suit.  There is a two hour build up to the tree lighting that is filled with various singers and bands belting out the old standard Christmas songs.  The naughty list of the performers?  Mariah Carey, Kelly Clarkson and Ariana Grande.  Why?  All of their performances were pre-recorded and they weren’t actually there the night of the tree lighting.  On the nice list of performers are Leona Lewis, Jewel (wearing only a very skimpy gold dress), Goo Goo Dolls and The Rockettes.   They were all there to help the crowds celebrate.

What’s the nice (and civil) way to see the Christmas Tree Lighting?  Marry someone whose office overlooks Rock Plaza and then insist to watch it from his office (even if a Frenchman has temporarily occupied it).  Adding to this nice list?  A little wine, some noshies and a few good friends.  My personal thanks go out to Keith and Jeff for always making sure there was wine in my glass!  How very, very nice of them!

The naughty side of the tree lighting?  Having to stand outside in the cold with a 100,000 other people waiting hours for the festivities to commence.  I’m definitely not implying the people aren’t nice because the crowds were on their best behavior. But, I can’t imagine it’s the nicest way to see the tree lighting…standing for hours in one place, no bathrooms and (gasp!) no vino.

The crowds in Rock Plaza.

The crowds in Rock Plaza.


The Christmas tree all lit for the season!

The Christmas tree all lit for the season!

The next day, I continued my occupation of Midtown.  I returned to Rockefeller Center with Keith to see the Christmas Spectacular featuring the Rockettes.  Gen and Jeff were nice enough to join us also.  The nice thing about the Christmas Spectacular?  Santa, 3D movies, and The Rockettes.  And the bonus nice part was the big nativity scene finale.  Nice to be reminded that Santa isn’t running the whole show.  Keith coined the night as “the kick-off to birthday week” for me.  And it was a perfect evening!  Oh yeah, the naughty side of The Christmas Spectacular?  I got nothing.

The next day was my birthday.  Yep, I’m not too vain to admit it was the big 50!  Right at the top of the nice list?  My hubby!!  Keith was quite nice and took the day off work.  In true KAJ form, he had planned a perfect day.  Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t nice at all. It was cold, windy and rainy.  Downright naughty.  No worries, we just got out our brollies and pulled on our wellies and headed outside.  We had lunch at Nice Matin, a quaint French bistro on the Upper West Side.  We split a split of champagne and shared a Croque Monsieur.  And, I got my really nice, I mean really, really nice birthday gift, a show stopping Kunzite ring.

By late afternoon the rain had slowed and we headed back into the chaos of Midtown.  Although, this time we took the B subway which brought us right inside Rockefeller Center.  How nice! No jostling of elbows out on 50th Street.  Our next birthday stop?  Ice skating in Rock Plaza.  Keith splurged for the VIP tickets.  That means we had access to the glassed-in warming hut, complete with hot chocolate and peppermint bark candy.  Also at the top of the nice list?  Skating at Rockefeller Plaza.  I had to take a moment and just look up into the dusky sky.  And there it all was…the buildings, the lights, the people, the tree.  It was New York at the best I’ve seen her yet.  And it was all on the nice list.  I wonder if Santa’s naughty list was washed away that day by the wind and the rain.



Canoodling on the ice. Thanks Jeff Koehler for these great pics!



This was right after our ice dancing short program. The American judge gave us a 10, but, the Russian judge gave us a 4.




I still am in awe at how beautiful the tree is!


Poseidon and me just chilling.

The Neon Lights Are Bright

I don’t run.  Actually, I can’t run. Keith is a big runner and when we started dating he told me “If you can walk, you can run”.  Since we were dating, I did what any logical woman would do, I pretended to love running.  I signed up for 5Ks and I ran on the treadmill at the gym.  All was well with my diabolical plan until one fateful Sunday afternoon at Lakeshore Athletic Club.  I was bent over at 90 degrees trying to “run through” a stitch in my right side, Keith came over and pushed the big red emergency STOP button on the treadmill.  “You’re done.  You were right.  You can’t run.”.  He married me anyway and I blissfully walked down the aisle.  After all, he knew there was no chance I’d be a runaway bride.

So you can imagine my absolute delight this week about all the running in NYC.  It began on Sunday with the New York City marathon.  50,000 people running through all five boroughs of New York.  I comfortably watched it on my couch while eating lox and bagels and sipping on my Kenyan hazelnut coffee.

Then, on Tuesday, the run for NYC mayor was coming to an end.  The mayoral election was finally here: De Blasio or Lhota?  I always love election day.  Not only can we exercise our freedom to vote, but, because dozens of political TV commercials have finally run their course.

So, by Wednesday I felt that I had some pretty good momentum behind me.  Where should I run off to today?  The MoMA?  Bergdorf Goodman’s?  No, too mundane and predictable.  I needed to lace up my arch supporting peggy sue’s and strap on my “I love NY” fanny pack.  I needed something bigger.  So naturally, I decided to go where no “real” New Yorker would ever tread.  I ventured to a spot where only the true tourist would dare go.  I went to Times Square.

I don’t know what made me do it.  I am the anti-tourist.  I don’t do tours.  I don’t take photos.  I don’t buy souvenirs.  But, Times Square is something of a must-see.  It’s the high-wattage beating heart of Manhattan.  It’s the genesis from which all of Manhattan’s energy pulses.

I packed Chelsea into her gold puppy purse and hopped on the 1 train to 42nd and Broadway.  We emerged from the quiet and dark subway, instantly mugged by sensory overload.  The immense crowds were to be expected, but, Times Square is really all about the visual over-stimuli.  I’ve seen it hundreds of times on TV.  I knew what to expect.  But, when I was surrounded on all sides by it I have to admit it was something I have never experienced before.  It actually was kind of cool and even spectacular.

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Besides the blinking lights, changing billboards and scrolling ticker tapes, the other spectacle is the people watching.  Of course, I saw throngs of map clutching tourists with their white sneakers and back packs over-stuffed with who knows what.  But, the really good stuff is everyone “working” Times Square.  There are dozens of Statues of Liberty, several spindly spidermen, and some very mangy, dodgy looking Elmo’s.

I wanted to take a picture of these alleged cherished and trademarked Elmo’s, but, they traveled in pairs, like thugs.  I honestly felt if they saw me snap a picture of them they would shake me down for some loot. If I refused to fork over the moolah I thought I was going to get roughed up on some alley off Sesame Street where the air isn’t so sweet.

However, the crème de la crème was the naked cowboy.  Yep, he’s still here wearing just his whitey tighties and singing away in the crisp November air.  Obamacare be damned if the cowboy catches a sniffle, there is a true American sweetness and honesty to this very odd character.


But honestly, my favorite part of Times Square is Duffy Square.  Here, there is a large red stair case leading to nowhere at all.  Chelsea and I sat on these steps for about a half an hour.  Perched on these stairs, I felt removed from all the chaos, yet, had an intimate view of everything.  This, my friends, is the best seat in all of Times Square.

Finally, C-dog and I took one last look at Times Square and gave it a little nod and wink.  She’s a tough old broad who’s seen a lot.  But, she seems to be winning the race against the times.  Do I need to run back to Times Square any time soon?  No, but remember, I don’t run.IMG_0285IMG_0291


Pictures of the Week…Vote for your favorite!


Chelsea hanging out on the steps of Duffy Square. I think it’s a little ironic that there is the billboard for Chicago behind her.






Chelsea taking a break from her walk in Central Park.









Rock Center Tree

This is a shot from Keith’s office of the Christmas tree being raised in Rock Center.


The rumors are true. There are alligators in the NYC subways. At least there are at 14th and 8th in Chelsea.