Saturday, September 17, 2016

the six easy flavors of Gion Kobu 祇園甲部

Try to find Kyo Kinana ice cream in Kyoto without an iPAD and you are screwed.

With active maps and real-time guidance, Selina actually found an ice cream parlor so lost on a back alley off the main drag in Gion, we grew confused in our sense of direction.
With a brochure, a Fodor’s and a hotel map like in the old days, this place would not have been found.

But she found it. Amazing. We went in.

The ice cream here is an art.
Roast soybean, sweet red bean, black sesame, black sugar syrup, powdered green tea and mugwort. Six flavors.

So fine. With hot tea.
You might wonder how the Geishas can eat this insanely rich and delicious product and still stay kimono slim. That’s easy.

They take the stairs.

Friday, September 16, 2016


As irony would have it, a helicopter crashed in the East River yesterday only a couple hours after Selina and I took a fantastic helicopter ride over Manhattan. Both pilots and helicopters left from the same airport. Seriously.

The one that crashed was a privately owned, multi-seat BELL. Ours was a tiny thing called the Robinson R44 based out in Linden New Jersey. It was barely large enough to hold us, like sitting in a little glass egg with a massive engine strapped to it.

The airport is home to all the NYC news copters.

Our pilot Erik had about 1500 hours piloting helicopters, roughly four years experience. (only 4? Um.) 

“READY?” he shouted into his headset. And whoooosh! we shot up like a cork through water. Freaky!

He angled forward, thundering East over New Jersey, heading for the city. Whooooooooaaaaaaaa!!!

We zoomed over the Staten Island Ferry terminal with the Verrazano Narrows Bridge on the horizon...

...then we turned North up into the harbor.

Ellis Island

Governor’s Island

Looking up the East River.

Then around BatteryPark and we headed up the Hudson River.

The Freedom Tower and reflecting pools.

The Intrepid and cruise ships at 42nd Street.

Central Park and the reservoir! The views at this low ceiling are just superb.

And then we swung out West over the Hudson River, that’s the GWB upstream.

Erik was very good; stable, always informing and confident. It’s amazing how something so thin and light and flighty can be so enormously noisy and loud. Without the headsets and microphones we’d have been deaf.
We completed our turn-around over the muddy water---remnants of Hurricane Irene---and headed back downriver.

But cool stuff still lie ahead!

The Goldman Sachs Tower, tallest building in New Jersey.

Erik turned us inland, over the Lincoln Tunnel ramp.

And then the port of Newark. Those Legos are shipping containers!

And then a huge cemetery.

And one last thrill. RIGHT THROUGH Newark Airport! YES!! He threaded us through take off’s and landing aircraft coming in from both sides! Wow!

So very cool.

A minute later and little Linden Airport appeared...

...and boom! we were down. Right where we started. Pretty darn fantastic.

I wanna do this again, sometime. Thanks Selina!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

everybody here is out of sight

And everybody remembers the smash international hit “Dancin’ in the Moonlight.” If the name doesn’t ring a bell the feel-good audio surely will.

That song was recorded by the band King Harvest, lead guitar and vocals by Ed Tuleja (too-lay-uh), and Eddie is an old family pal.

After years of session work with Springsteen and Ringo Starr, Todd Rundgren and Orleans and touring with the Beach Boys, Ed and his family settled in Tasmania so I went downunder and visited a few years ago. 

But he also stopped into New York on his way back from picking up a custom guitar made for him in Los Angeles, and it was a real pleasure watching an old pro take his first steps with a new instrument.

Click the video and feel good all day!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016