Raging Bull(s***)

One percenters gone wild.

That’s what happened recently at the New York Athletic Club.  You know, that Central Park South bastion of white shoe, keep-the-pesky-Jews-out, Ivy League douchery.

A fight broke out.  Well, not exactly a fight.  A wild melee, straight out of Gangs of New York, replete with head butting, broken bottles and broken noses, women thrown to the floor, 20-somethings throwing haymakers at 40-somethings, the bartender trying to stop the fight and getting flattened and frantic calls to 9-1-1.

Check out this classic account of the donnybrook here:


and here


Best of all was the letter to members sent by one S. Colin Neill, the club president, who warned recipients about showcasing photos and written accounts on social networking sites and advising all — in effect — “what happens at NYAC, stays at NYAC.”

Well, jeepers, when the cops are called and arrests are made, then it becomes public and all bets are off.  No doubt some will point to their arriviste members and/or “guests.”  Others will speculate as to the ethnicity of those involved (hmmm, Muffy, it says here that those involved included a Doran, an O’Grady and a Drowica — from Long Island’s North Shore, reports The New York Times).  Were these cretins financial types?  From old money?  Scions of baby furniture magnates?  Hopefully we’ll soon find out.

And who were the lovely damsels allegedly at the center of the festivities?

In this time of Citizens United, “corporations-as-people” and the worst looking Lorenz curve in 60 years, all we Real New Yorkers  can say is:

“Stay classy, one-percenters!”

Catskill Mountain Music


It’s been a sad week for Catskill Mountain memories.  Levon Helm died hours ago.  His music, from backing Dylan, to his work with The Band and in decades after with his Midnight Rambles and regular touring, is a key part of my inner soundtrack.  When Music From Big Pink was released, it was the anti-Sergeant Pepper.  Simple, pure, elegant in its simplicity. And yet, it had the same roundhouse impact on our fevered little teenaged brains.  Now it’s called Roots Music, or Americana.  Then, it was just The Band.  And the music was written, with Dylan, in that little rented house, Big Pink, in West Saugerties, NY — in the Catskill Mountains, three hours north of New York City .

Some of my earliest and favorite memories are from my summer experiences in the Catskills.  To the West and South of the Woodstock/West Saugerties area, in Ulster County, was the Borscht Belt region of the Catskills, in towns such as Monticello, Liberty, Loch Sheldrake, Ellenville, Parksville, Livingston Manor, South Fallsburg, White Lake and,  to the East, Kerhonksen.  Here, we’d enjoy our summer idyll, year after year, at bungalows such as the one pictured above.

Bungalow colony life…us kids would think, ah, some day, our parents would strike it rich and we’d eat with the swells at glamorous hotels featured on the roadside billboards.  My favorite was for Brown’s Hotel.  “My Favorite Resort,” says Jerry Lewis — when we saw that billboard on the Quickway, we knew it wouldn’t be long before we saw Ritchie, Butchie, Yussie, Luby and the gang.

This past week, the Brown’s Hotel — converted to a residence and cited for numerous code violations — burned in the biggest fire in Sullivan County history.  Weeks before, the Tamarack in Warwarsing, burned.

The list of derelict Catskill resorts goes on: Concord, Nevele, Grossinger’s, The PInes.  Speaking of Grossinger’s, Lou Goldstein, the so-called Master of Simon Sez, and tummler extraordinaire of that hotel (closed in ’86), died this week at 90.

The good news on all accounts is that the memories live on.  Right, Levon?  We just saw you and your daughter Amy and band at Tarrytown Music Hall only weeks ago and you were a magnificent point guard, leading your team to one rollicking tune after another. 

Real New Yorkers understand the salt-of-the-earth goodness of Levon, a guy from Arkansas who left home in the 11th grade to tour with Ronnie Hawkins.  I don’t know what he would have made of the Borscht Belt in its heyday, but on some level, it would have been a fit.  Good, honest, downhome fun — and to those who would think it declasse, well, TFB.

And you know what? Real New Yorkers still dig the Catskills — the Ulster County, Woodstock/Saugerties side, and the schmaltzier, western Sullivan County side.  The air remains sweet.  The tall trees sway.  The grass is dewy and the lakes full of pickerel.  The area remains a great place to be a kid — no matter how old you are.

RIP, Levon, Lou, Brown’s and Tamarack.  See you on the other side of the bridge.