Mad Women of Opera

This is one of the most random things ever. In mid-October Alex, Wally and I were walking back from an evening river run when we ran into a Russian opera singer looking lost in front of Holy Apostles Church on 9th Avenue. She had an hour between rehearsal for "Mad Women of Opera" in which she starred as crazy Salome from Richard Strauss' opera (apparently derived from Oscar Wilde's rendering of the loose-cannon seductress from the Bible). John the Baptiste's severed head on a platter not withstanding, Alla (Markovich) was looking for a place to grab a quick bite to eat with her sister. She lives in Idaho and doesn't know the neighborhood. We led them down to the adorable block between 24th and 25th chock full of amazing restaurant --Grand Sichuan (one of 2 best Chinese places in the city), Co. (Pizza place owned by Sullivan Street Bakery guy), a Thai place, a Tapas place, and a few diners too. We left them on the corner in front of Co., fake fireplace burning in the background. 

Before we parted ways, Alla gave me two comp tickets to the Halloween show.  I went with my friend KH, back in NYC after a 10-year leave of absence. Quite a big payoff for such a tiny favor. But back to the night when we met Alla in front of Holy Apostles. We had to go further south to get something at Rite Aid. When we walked back up 9th we peeked in various restaurant windows to see which one Alla and her sister had picked. We ended up seeing them at that crappy Dunkin' Donuts on the West side of the street next to the dingy magazine/lotto store with the prohibitively narrow aisle. Guess being an opera singer doesn't pay much. Plus they didn't have much time. We laughed at how off the mark we'd been, with our recommendations. She really just wanted something, anything to eat. We could have directed her to Luigi's pizza at least. From where she stood in front of Holy Apostles Church, with the public health building across the street, bounded by PS 33 on one side and the weird post office building that's always dark on the other, our hood must have looked so gray and lifeless, like total no man's land. To the East, it's the Penn Station circus with dive bars, adult video store and giant photos of Beef Chow Mein and Hunan Pork plastered in the window. West to the river, crazy industrial stuff. But a few blocks south, and you're in the booming heart of Chelsea.   

She sent me this picture (above) yesterday, and said she’s coming back for another show in March, Legends from the North. 

In other news: AKA and I finished the first draft of our romance/thriller/satirical take on NYC parenting. We are almost ready to “shop it around” as they say. Do they say that?

Hope you are enjoying this mostly cloudy day. Soon enough, the calendar will catch up with the weather. 

"In winter it's supposed to snow," Wally keeps telling me. His teacher apparently doesn't have the right velcro picture for the weather board. They need one for gray, too cold to enjoy the playground, too warm to stay inside, lots of annoying wind. In the mornings he wakes up and runs to the window. Just like for my grandmother Miriam, there is no pause, no transition, between first blinking awake and maximum horsepower. (Other similarities--she could drink boiling water and never used oven mitts.) He stares out at the gray sky, gray trees, gray pavement, not only disappointed, but surprised. In his dreams, lately, there is always snow.


  1. What's the other best Chinese restaurant in the city?

  2. Chelsea Cottage!!!
    Chelsea Cottage's Viet Grill
    206 9th Avenue, New York, NY 10011
    (212) 366-4881 ‎

    Get the pineapple fried rice and the curry tofu.

    They used to give free wine with dinner. Not sure if they still do.

  3. that is a riot! she just wanted some doughnuts. no oven mitts sounds painful...

  4. you must try it instantly!
    it's just below 23rd street on 9th
    great cold peanut noodles, too. wally likes them -- not too spicy. city's best scallion pancakes, tho the dipping sauce for the dumplings is better than the one they give you for the scallion panca

  5. accidentally erased Bearette's second comment about never trying Chelsea Cottage. sorry! alex was standing over me with a knife.

    (asking me how much garlic he should cut)

  6. Here it is.

    Bearette has left a new comment on your post " This is one of the most random things ever. In m...":

    y'know, i've never tried chelsea cottage. i should order from them sometime.


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