Farewell, Bill Withers

I recently saw Still Bill, the documentary about the life of Bill Withers, who died today at 81. “Some people are just born cool—they’ve been cool all their lives. Well, I hadn’t been cool all my life. I was an asthmatic stutterer as a kid,” he said with a laugh, discussing his childhood in Slab Forth, West Virginia.

It was such a touching portrayal of a humble man with a super talent, who maintained a fairly ordinary life despite his early fame and success. Stuttering played a big role in shaping who he was and there is a part where he goes to visit a group of kids who stutter. That, and several other parts in the film brought me to tears.

“Lovely Day” is one of my favorite 70s songs, and it carries such a sweet and simple sentiment during this dark time.

May we all have someone or something to look toward and know that lovely days are ahead…

When I wake up in the morning, love
And the sunlight hurts my eyes
And something without warning, love
Bears heavy on my mind
Then I look at you
And the world’s alright with me
Just one look at you
And I know it’s gonna be
A lovely day

RIP Bill Withers ❤️


Even The Angels Are Crying, Election 2016

I didn’t post a picture last night, as I have done so for the past 2 ½ years. It didn’t seem right in the midst of one of the biggest election nights in our history. Earlier in the day I voted and then tried to avoid the news media all together. I didn’t want to hear any more negativity and I knew that whatever was to be at that point would be. Instead I spent a lot of time on Pantsuit Nation—an invite-only Facebook page dedicated to supporting Hillary Clinton through hopeful and inspiring messages from real voters.

I didn’t turn on the T.V. until after 8 PM, close to when most polls around the country were closing. It quickly became apparent that Trump was in the lead. I took my sinking feeling with me to a local bar to watch the rest of the election results roll out. It felt good to be among people, as opposed to being glued to my T.V., alone and horrified. Luckily, I am in New York—a blue state, and a liberal neighborhood so I knew I would be among friends. As the results became more and more dire people began to leave, in disgust, but mostly, in shock. I left around midnight, walked home, and went to bed, knowing that Trump would likely be our next president.

Crying Angel, Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, NY  © Grace Cavallo

I woke up this morning and cried, even though I can’t say I was entirely surprised. For months I imagined what it would feel like to wake up to this day. It would feel like the end of the world, I thought…and it does.

I cried for all of the hard work of our forefathers, our grandparents, and our parents—who came to this country to build better lives—that has been undone. I cried that hatred and fear won over love and harmony. I cried for the uncertainty of our future and that of the world.

In part we are to blame. This country has been asleep, and the wily powers of Trump to motivate the masses have been sorely underestimated. This act was an uprising, and it is now painfully clear that the level of hate, bigotry, and ignorance is very real.

I just happened to watch “American History X” (1998) two days ago. I had never seen it before, but I couldn’t help notice how similar the diatribes of the white supremacist, played by Edward Norton, were to modern-day Trump and his supporters. In one scene, Norton gives a rousing speech to his hooligans just before they raid a market and assault the minority owners:

We’re here tonight ‘cause we got immigration problems spiraling out of control. We got Asians up the ass…taking over our land with their fucking Yen. Mexicans…flocking into this place like some giant fucking Piñata was shattered.

…It’s tragic. On the Statue of Liberty it says “Give me your tired, your hungry, your poor, your huddled masses…yearning to be free.” It does not say give me your shiftless, your greedy, your indolent, your criminals, looking for a free ticket.

We’re here tonight to show the government how we feel about minorities taking over our country. They treat us like criminals while they reward them with jobs and fucking welfare checks. And it’s only getting worse…

It is a sad day for this country, and for the world at large. I can only hope that justice will prevail, and the virtues this country was founded upon will eventually triumph. May God bless us all.


Quote from

New Yorkers Don’t Quit

<em>Light underground © Grace Cavallo</em>

Light underground © Grace Cavallo

I don’t often come through this subway station but the trains run wonky on weekends and I discovered (too late) that my normal train wasn’t running. It’s a long walk underground to connect with the in-service train, and I was pissed that I had to transfer and that it was making me late. As a New Yorker, subways are a huge part of my day-to-day, for better or worse. I don’t need no stinking Uber when I got an unlimited MetroCard!

I was barreling through, weaving my way in and out of slowpokes and mumbling under my breath about “Sunday drivers” as I came upon this seen. I am a sucker for light streaming in through unusual (or usual) places. I knew I was late, but how long does it really take to get my camera out, turn it on, and snap a picture? As I stood there weighing my options, clock ticking, slowpokes passing me by, I decide an extra 10 seconds is not gonna kill me. However, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, might.

I am not heading to the 23rd and 6th Avenue station today, even though I am almost out of eggs and plantain chips from Trader Joe’s. Besides Trader Joe’s, there is a Home Depot, Bed, Bath, and Beyond, Harmon’s, the gym where I take yoga classes, and my camera shop. It is my spot—I am there more often than I care to admit. In fact, my #TodayinNY of the Siegel-Cooper building, which houses Bed, Bath, and Beyond was taken from there just this week. I found a wallet on the corner of 23rd and 7th Avenue a few weeks ago. I was able to return it to the rightful owner who was super-grateful, even though it had no money in it (I kept apologizing and saying, I swear, I am a good person and I found it that way). If I have to choose what street to walk down when I’m there I will always choose 23rd Street—it’s a main thoroughfare and it’s always full of people, no matter the time of day.

No, I’m not headed there today because I can’t—it’s CLOSED because some asshole decided to detonate a bomb there yesterday, and another one a few blocks away (that didn’t go off). Although 29 people were injured, it could have been much worse—as all reports indicate that the bombs “were built for carnage.” I can’t predict there will not be a homemade bomb the next time I do my food shopping, as much as I can’t predict an anvil won’t fall on my head as I’m walking down the street. Life is a crapshoot and I, along with my fellow New Yorkers, will continue to live it to the best of our ability #youlose #onward #TodayinNY

False Alarm

Freedom Tower

Freedom Tower © Grace Cavallo

My carbon monoxide detector started chirping on Friday night. It’s happened before; maybe a few months ago, and I changed the battery so I didn’t think it could be that. The alert is intermittent, but it’s so loud and jarring that it’s hard to ignore (which I guess is the point).

So I did the usual…I checked the stove, the burners, made sure everything was off and seemed copacetic. I opened the windows and doors and aired out the place. It stopped but then started again later on. It was late at night so I finally got up on the ladder and took the battery out. The next day, I bought a new battery and installed it. The chirping started again at once.

Am I slowly being poisoned by carbon monoxide and don’t even know it? 

I decided it was time to call Con Edison. After a 10-minute hold, I get a representative and explain the story.

REP: Do you have any symptoms…a headache…do you feel nauseous…lightheaded?

[Am I lightheaded?]

ME: Um, no, I don’t think so…

REP: Ma’am, you need to call 911 immediately.

ME: What…really?

REP: Yes.

ME: I mean, it’s been going off since last night and I’m still walking around so it’s probably fine…

REP: Ma’am, you need to leave the premises right now and call 911.

I’m a little freaked out now.

ME: Are you sure that’s really necessary?

REP: Yes, I’m sure.

I remembered there was a horrific case of a residential building that blew up in the East Village over a year ago due to a gas main leak…which probably explains why Con Edison is not messing around.

I hang up and call the super of my building. I mean…I’m not really sure what I expect him to do, but I’m feeling like I need a second opinion.

No answer.

I walk down the hall to open my front door. I turn on the light.


No turning on lights…lighting matches…(using cell phones?)…nothing that can trigger a spark.

Okay, deep breath.

No! No deep breaths ‘cause poison!

I dial 911.

911: Yes, what’s your emergency?

ME: Well, I’m not sure it’s an emergency, but…

I recount the story…chirps…loud…batteries…Con Edison.

911: The fire department is on the way.

Minutes later, I hear sirens in the distance. Oh, sweet baby Jesus…really?

The buzzer rings. (Trigger!)

There is a cavalry of good-looking men at my door. In FULL firemen regalia…I’m talking hats, boots, jackets, tanks, axes…WTF?! There are lights and sirens going mental outside my building. I can feel my neighbors at their peepholes.

ME: Thank you guys so much for coming.

CUTE FIREMAN #1: What’s the problem ma’am.

I tell the story for the twelfth time.

CUTE FIREMAN #1: Do you feel nauseous? Lightheaded?

ME: Um, I don’t think so…

Within seconds six strapping guys are piled into my tiny apartment with their abundance of gear and manliness. I point them towards the kitchen.

CUTE FIREMAN #2 forges ahead holding a contraption in the air. He gets to the kitchen and yells back, “Zero.”

Now, I’m no carbon monoxide air specialist, but I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess that means I just called these guys out here for nothin’.

Maybe it’s my imagination but I could almost feel the breeze from the collective eye rolls going on under their hats.

I can’t stop apologizing and tripping over myself.

CUTE FIREMAN #1: It’s okay ma’am, you did the right thing. It could just be a malfunction. You know these should be replaced every 5-7 years.

Which makes sense since I’ve been living here over 6 years and have never thought to replace anything beyond the batteries.

ME: I’ll definitely do that. And thank you. Thank you all again for coming out here. I really appreciate it. And sorry, again…I’m really, really, sorry.

And just like that, they are gone—in and out in 30 seconds (not to be confused with my love life).

The whole thing was surreal. You mean, I don’t need to do anything else? Sign anything? I was half expecting a bill for life-saving-services-rendered.

Personally, I haven’t had a whole lot of experience with cops and firemen in the real world (I suppose that’s a good thing and I’ve been lucky). It just kind of hit home how they just showed up at my door like a bunch of handsome angels and came barreling in my home, not knowing what the heck they were going to encounter inside. What if my apartment was only seconds away from being blown to smithereens?

I know we’ve all heard it a million times…that these guys are brave, that they are heroes, that they have the hardest job in the world and they do it selflessly. From a kitten in a tree, to a malfunctioning carbon monoxide detector, to twin skyscraper infernos—they answer the call.

It’s hard to believe that today marked the 15th anniversary of the September 11th attacks. Every year in the weeks leading up to the anniversary there are news stories, recaps, and remembrances of one of the most painful periods in U.S. history. I dread this time of year. It’s difficult not to go back to that day in my mind and relive the heartache that is forever seared in my consciousness, and that of much of the rest of the world.

I am grateful for these men and women who answered the call then, and continue to answer it everyday. I was reminded of the toll it takes to do just that when I passed this makeshift memorial today in front of a firehouse on 19th street.

Thank you for all you do for our great city, FDNY, NYPD. Never forget.

Engine Co. 3, Ladder Co. 12, 7th Battalion

Engine Co. 3, Ladder Co. 12, 7th Battalion © Grace Cavallo

My Friend Corey

I met Corey six years ago at a bus stop. I am not usually one to meet people at bus stops. I am more likely to have my headphones on, some sort of reading material, and my bus stop face, just focused on getting where I’m going and getting the heck out as painlessly as possible (i.e. bus stop face = don’t mess). It was the day after New Year’s. I had recently moved into a new apartment and there were some things I needed to get my place in order. It was a new year, and I resolved to get it done! I discovered there was a Home Goods store just outside Manhattan.

Port Authority bus terminal is a dismal hole of a place, favorited by shady characters milling around asking if you “need help” (I’m good, thanks!) I tried to avoid it if I didn’t absolutely have to but it was the easiest route and only a 15-minute bus ride to the store. So I put my blinders on and power walked through the station to get in line for the bus. I arrived early, and Corey and his friend, Jeff, got in line behind me. They were young and cute and were chatting excitedly about something.

Jeff was dark, good-looking, and the more outgoing of the two. Corey was tall and thin with light blue eyes and strawberry blonde hair. He had an easy smile and was boyishly handsome. I especially remember how he was dressed. He had on a trench coat, black cap, and skinny jeans. Underneath he wore a white button-down shirt with a black tie, cardigan, and a beautiful watch. He looked like a dapper, rock-and-roll pageboy, I thought…it made me smile.

I had my nose in a magazine, trying to mind my business, but then 15 minutes went by, then 20, and then 40. I turned to ask if they knew what was going on with the bus but they were equally perplexed. We commiserated over our absent bus and the crappy terminal that is Port Authority. And when the bus finally did show, an hour late, I’d learned that Corey was in New York on vacation with his family and his bus companion, Jeff. They were from California and were staying in a hotel near the Home Goods. They asked if I’d like to meet up after shopping, perhaps to take the bus back to the city later on. We exchanged information once we arrived, and went our separate ways.  Continue reading

We Are Diamonds


Coldplay, Adventure Of A Lifetime ArtworkI can’t quite understand people losing their shit over the release of the new Adele album, yet there’s not been much attention paid to new Coldplay, coming out this week. I mean, you have a lovely voice and all Adele, but HELLO…I am no longer in the mood to cry in my soup over past loves [that was so last year].


Screen Shot 2015-12-03 at 2.02.05 PM

I’d much prefer to TURN MY MAGIC ON and dance in my living room…because EVERYTHING I WANT’S A DREAM AWAY.








Pope Francis Arrives in New York City

Pope Francis Arrives in New York City
Pope Francis arrives in New York City. View from the Brooklyn Bridge.

Pope Francis arrives in New York City. View from the Brooklyn Bridge © Grace Cavallo

There is such a buzz in New York City, the East Coast, and perhaps the whole of America, surrounding the arrival of Pope Francis. I wouldn’t say that I’m a terribly religious person, but I come from a Colombian-Italian family (can’t get much more Catholic than that!) and I retain a certain peace and comfort in some of the traditions I grew up with. I still accompany my elderly aunt to church every Sunday, I “light candles” for my deceased loved ones, I “say grace” on occasion before meals, and I pray for guidance when I need it. And I can say that I have never been prouder to be a Catholic under the reign of Pope Francis, and especially during this papal visit. Watching the coverage of this event has been equal parts exciting, comforting, and inspirational. He is a welcome respite amidst the noise of mudslinging political debates and nonsensical agendas. He has been the voice of reason and an advocate for the common good and of “doing the right thing.” He’s discussed climate change, war, and the basic rights and freedoms of our people. His message is clear and simple—remember where you came from, be tolerant, and above all, be kind.

Hearing Pope Francis close with “God bless America” after each of his speeches has brought me to tears—even though it’s something we’ve grown up hearing, it has become a trite statement. But his delivery and the sincerity of his words is a great reassurance against the fear and uncertainty of our future, and a gentle reminder of the greatness of this country and the hope that it was built upon. But it’s not just his words that have resonated with me and so many, it’s watching him stop and interact with people on the street, especially children and the sick. It’s hearing him turn down dinner with politicians in favor of dining with the homeless. It’s listening to him say what’s right in favor of what’s popular.

I’ve heard people say many times over these past few days, “I am not a religious person but I love this pope.” And at the end of the day it’s because this really has nothing to do with religion; it has to do with being a decent and just human being. As my aunt always says, the best religion is simply to be a good person.

‪#‎PopeFrancisArrival‬ ‪#‎GodBlessAmerica‬ ‪#‎TodayinNY‬

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