Birthdays and Social Media

Posted by: on Jan 30, 2014 | 2 Comments

Yesterday was my birthday. At 54, I choose to do my best to treat my birthday pretty much like every other day. My birthday celebration consisted of normal day at work, an hour at the gym followed by wings, pizza and beer at The Landmark Tavern with Linda. To top it off, I watched my favorite basketball team win another game. After the game, well you can use your imagination. Was a good day.

If you look at my facebook profile, my birthday is not listed. I like to keep it private, sort of a social media experiment. I know that someone is going to out me by wishing me a happy birthday.  I just like to see who it is and than watch the chain reaction.

Sure enough, yesterday afternoon around 2:50, the big event went public thanks to  a facebook post by non-other than Allie Berkowitz.  Yes, I was outed by my own child. About 2 minutes later, my phone starts buzzing as the good news had spread to twitter thanks to the master of all things Orange in Social Media, the loverly Kim Brown (a.k.a. @kimincuse).  The well wishers from near and far came out in force. New new friends, some not so new friends, old friends and digital friends, proving that you really can’t keep a secret for too long in today’s instant information world.

Actually, my birthday celebration this year is going to be very special, if a couple of days after the actual date of my birth. The aforementioned Allie is hours away from hoping on a red-eye from LA to Newark. Linda and I will pick her up in the morning, pick-up her little sister from TriDelt along the way, and head north to the frozen tundra that is Syracuse, which means my family will be together for the weekend (at least the part where Allie and Zach aren’t sleeping). Dinner tomorrow at Phoebe’s with my friend of 40+ years Caryl Shapiro (it’s a whole Great Neck, Syracuse thing) and her family. Saturday will be a day with friends, Middle Ages and Dinosaurs. The big game Saturday where I will be one of 35,000+ in The Dome to witness the historic SU v Duke basketball game. Throw in some drinks at Faegen’s, maybe a slice at the Varsity, possibly a THB and you’ve got one hell of a birthday weekend.

And with all weekends at SU, my body maybe 54 years old but will feel 35 years younger. At least until Monday morning when I wake up and my first thought will be “what the hell was I thinking?”

Do Over AC

Posted by: on Jan 17, 2014 | One Comment

The weekend after Christmas, Linda and I took the kids on an overnight down to the Revel Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City. Very nice rooms, very nice views, very nice restaurant and and very bankrupt at the moment. Just seems to be the way things are going in AC these daze. Despite it’s breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean, most of Atlantic City seems to be lost in some sort of post-depression time warp…but it wasn’t supposed to be this way anymore.

On May 26, 1978, Resorts International opened in Atlantic City bringing legalized gambling to New Jersey and the hope of renewal to a once bustling beach community that had fallen on hard times. Today there are 11 casino hotels in AC, 5 of which some form of bankruptcy. The Atlantic Club Casino Hotel (formerly the AC Hilton) closed up shop last week.  Instead of becoming Las Vegas meets South Beach, AC has become a cruel version of broken down slum where the magic fairy dust inside the casinos never reaches the ground or catches the breeze of the ocean nearby.

Some of the hotel casinos are nice places to visit, especially the newer ones such as the Borgata and Revel. Unfortunately for AC, the world outside the casino doors remains the same. Boarded up buildings, empty lots, honky tonk stores line the boardwalk, homelessness and poverty. In Vegas you can walk The Strip at all hours of the day and night. In AC, there is no strip to walk on…only dimly lit, deserted streets where you can’t help but feel that this might not be the safest place to take a walk.

The irony is that much of this can be blamed on the game that made Atlantic City famous…monopoly. Not the game itself but the fact that for many years, AC had a monopoly on east coast gambling. Other than going to Las Vegas, there was nowhere else in the US that offered legalized casino gambling. If you build it, they will come and come they did. Into the shiny, bright and lavish casino hotels came the gamblers, the partyers and those looking for a bit of excitement. They walked through the doors one day and out another never seeing the real AC. And what did the powers that be do to AC to make it more attractive on the outside? They did nothing because they had a monopoly and when you have monopoly, you do nothing except count your winnings.

But the monopoly didn’t last forever. First came the Indian casinos, some closer to NYC than AC was. Those were followed by legalized gambling in other states, including our next door neighbor Pennsylvania, which actually has more casinos than New Jersey. Now other states want a piece of the pie and the monopoly, and the opportunity it offered to truly re-invent AC, is gone, quite probably forever.

It’s really too bad. AC could have been Las Vegas by the ocean, our version of Monte Carlo.  A world class beachside resort where the beautiful come to play and lose their money. When you are in AC these days, you run the risk of losing your money outside the casino almost as much as inside, only it’s not by playing a game of chance.

Dysfunction Junction

Posted by: on Jan 10, 2014 | No Comments

Anyone seen August: Osage County? Talk about your dysfunctional families. I would love to meet the folks who were the inspiration for Tracy Letts who wrote the screenplay as well as the original Broadway show. These people are totally fucked up!

I have stated loudly and frequently that I believe that every family operates at some level of dysfunction, which brings me to one of my most favorite IraSez moments (before I even called them that), which I am happy to share with you. About 10 or 11 years ago, Zach was playing little league and I was one of those idiots who was a little league coach. I could write a whole bunch of blog posts about those years but let’s stick with this one moment.

One afternoon, I was chatting with some of the ladies at the snack bar in Gero Park, where we play our little league games here in Millburn/Short Hills. Someone mentioned that they had just seen Home For The Holidays, another movie that delves deeply into dysfunctional families. When one of the snack bar ladies asked what the movie was about I responded “It’s about dysfunctional families in America and I believe that all families operate at some level of dysfunction.”

Listening in on this conversation was Lily von Mayflower (not her real name in case you can’t figure that one out). Lily is so named for her oh so pink and green Lily Pulitzer outfits and the fact that she can probably trace her roots back to the Mayflower (and her other roots to some expensive salon in NYC). In her mind, she’s a Native American. Lily’s family life consists of her money mongering…I mean managing hubby, 4 perfect little cherubs, 2 dogs, 2 Volvos and ye big ass house in Old Short Hills – where there are no blacks, no Jews and no gays…at least on her block. She lives in her perfect little WASPY world, just like her ancestors hoped life would be.

Upon hearing my thoughts on family life in America, her reaction was “Ira, I don’t know why you say that. My family is perfectly functional.”
And I, without missing a beat, calmly responded “And that’s what makes you so dysfunctional.”

At which point, Lily turned a perfect shade of Pulitzer pink (more like a bright red), pirouetted and pranced away, leaving the snack bar ladies and I to quietly chuckle. When one of the ladies asked me why I would say such a thing to Madam Mayflower, my response was typical me, “Because it’s my job to say what other people are thinking but don’t have the nerve to say out loud.”

Despite the fact that I coached her son the rest of that season and the one after that, Lily never spoke to me again. I don’t even think she could look at me without turning all pink. Not that I missed her.  After all, I’ve always gotten bad reactions to insect stings and wasps are no exception.