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A New York Minute: It’s All Greek To Me

9 Oct

October 9, 2015


Hey! We’re back with a New York Minute for you. Some of you out there may still remember those. Anyway, buckle up and away we go.

They’re filming a movie a couple of blocks away from me. I never did find out if it was a movie or TV show, but it was filmed at a Greek diner and the scene they shot over the course of a week was a police standoff. The actors were not familiar to me, and judging by the lack of autograph seekers or publicity they weren’t big names. There was your standard plainclothes cop with a shoulder holster, your standard female FBI agent in a severe black suit, and one- and only one- member of a SWAT team in full camouflage and armor. (I later found out that it was The Blacklist. I’ve never seen the show, but I understand that as of today the episode hasn’t aired yet.)

For about a week there were movie trailers and equipment littering the area and taking up a lot of valuable parking spots, and then one day they were all gone.

This isn’t the first time they’ve filmed a movie in my area. Aside from Saturday Night Fever, which I covered in a very early New York Minute, they also filmed a Steven Seagal film around here in the early 90’s, Out for Justice, I think. I’m pretty sure it was the one where Seagal wore a beret and a sleeveless vest and sleeveless shirt combo. That was the outfit that best showed off his, um, acting skills, I believe. Anyway, please don’t ask me to go back and watch it.

out for justiceWhile that was filming, I ended up with my Dad in Williamsburg, which is about as far from my end of Brooklyn as you can get and still be in the borough. Another movie was filming there at the same time as the Seagal opus, and whatever it was, it was a small indie effort. My dad, with a little superior smirk, gave the crew a dig and said “not like the Steven Seagal movie they’re shooting by me, huh?” That may be the strangest piece of reflected glory I ever heard.

But back to the present, and the Greek diner. The diner isn’t very good, which is why I won’t give them any free publicity, but it is a great example of 1970’s architecture. It looks now the same way it looked when I was a kid, right down to the ripped carpets and stained seats. Greek diners are a New York staple. In fact, the official NYC store sells ceramic copies of the iconic Greek blue coffee cups, the one with the Greek urns on it. In fact, I once worked with a guy who called every diner “that Greek place.” This caused a lot of confusion when he wanted to meet me at the “that Greek place” and I never found it, despite actually standing right in front of it. Why was it so hard to find? The “Greek” diner proudly had a big red Albanian flag waving in the window.

Greek diners have been New York staples since the 1950’s, and they are distinct from the tin clad railroad car looking diners you see all across America. They are noted for the large rotating pastry displays you can usually find right as you walk in. According to the New York Times, so you may want to take this with a grain of salt, most New York diners are owned by people of Greek decent. And while you can always get a range of Greek food, they serve it all, from Matzoh ball soup to cheeseburgers. Come to think of it, I can’t count the number of times I’ve had that exact combination.

From my part of Bensonhurst, I am just 10 minutes away from two very good Greek diners, and 5 minutes away from the not-so-hot one where the movie was just filmed. And that may be a touch ironic, since the Greek population of Brooklyn has been on the decline for years. But the diners are still going strong.

This has been your New York Minute. All this diner talk has made me hungry. Maybe I’ll watch Out for Justice to lose my appetite.


This post is, by a happy coincidence, appearing on my father’s birthday. Happy Birthday Dad! We all miss you.

An audio version of this story recently appeared in the amazing FlashPulp website. Check them out for awesomeness and goodies!

I found Brooklyn in the Caribbean (Part 2): “On Watch”

19 Jun

June 19, 2015

So there I was, eating breakfast in the cruise ship buffet dining room. What did I have for breakfast? What didn’t I have for breakfast! Cruise ship + buffet = passengers too fat to get into a lifeboat in case of an emergency. Seriously, if the boat did go down, there would be a significant number of people clinging to the omelet station in rough seas.

So the four of us were sitting at a table next to the floor-to ceiling windows. We were in the back of the ship and I had an amazing view of the sea.


I had to take this without the flash. My first attempt with the flash blinded half the dining room when it reflected off all that glass. The Captain thought we were torpedoed.

Somehow the conversation came around to watches. There was a watch sale onboard, and the prices really were good- 75% off Invictus watches, for example, and no tax. My brother was showing off the expensive watch he was wearing (NOTE TO WOULD-BE THIEVES: He keeps the watch locked in a safe, so back off!) and I showed off the classy watch I picked up a couple of days before at the $10 sale. OK, it was no Invictus, but the painted-on day and date dials saved the trouble of actually having to set the day and date. And I think Cruise Club is a pretty swanky name because hey, it tells people “I bought this $10 piece of junk on a cruise!”

There was a lull in the conversation as we all took in the majesty of the sea, Neptune’s Kingdom, Poseidon’s Paradise, the place my Uncle Lou peed, when from the next table came an unfamiliar voice in a very familiar Brooklyn accent saying “so you like watches, huh?”

This was directed at my brother, not me. Or maybe it was directed at me, I don’t know. My plan (and I implemented it beautifully) was to ignore people I didn’t want to talk to, which was anyone who was not handing me a dry towel as I got out of the pool.

It turned out the Brooklyn accent came from a woman sitting at the next table, another very senior senior citizen. She was there with her companion, who turned out to also have a very thick Brooklyn accent. Their names were Lorena and Robyn, and I know this because Lorena went around the table third-grade style and made us introduce ourselves, herself and Robyn included. And guess what? She was a former third-grade teacher. (Ever “see” a word in your mind’s eye? Even though Robyn never spelled out her name, I saw it spelled with a “y” as soon as she said it, hanging there in midair in front of her.)

The conversation was actually kind of not unpleasant. We talked for a few minutes and of course the talk turned to where everyone came from. And not only did Lorena and Robyn come from Brooklyn, and not only the same part of Brooklyn (Bensonhurst), but from 2 damn blocks away from me. Two blocks! We talked about stores in the neighborhood, schools, all kinds of stuff that I talk about at home, not a thousand miles away from home.

I traveled to the Caribbean to talk to a pair of people who live 2 blocks away from me.

I haven’t seen them since I’ve been home. I’ve been spending a lot of time in my apartment just in case they walk past my door.


TO BE CONTINUED IN PART 3: My Review of Saturday Night Fever: The Musical, at Sea.

You can find Part 1 right here! Click! You know you want to.



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