Dreaming of a (non)White Christmas

Posted by Steve on Mon, 12/15/2008 - 6:14pm

Judging by how prolific they've become in recent years a lot of people seem to like white Christmas lights. I know I'm gonna get mail about this.

I'm not real big on Christmas. I need to be coaxed (okay, dragged and beaten) into something resembling yuletide spirit. For me, white mini-lights just don't cut it. They have the holiday charm of a corporate office park or a South Beach mojito bar, and about as much comfort and joy as my 60-watt desk lamp. They don't say Christmas to me. They say, "Co-op Sales Office: Suite 300".

White Christmas lights tell me "Like, I was at Saks this weekend and they had the most totally delicious winter display of Ferragamo anaconda leather boots..."

White Christmas bulbs are the lighting equivalent of dropping "Merry Christmas" in favor of the PC generic, "Happy Holidays". Is this is how we celebrate the rich cultural diversity of our country during glad tidings season? With a soulless white light bulb?  By making our houses look like Tavern On The Green?

Back from Nantucket

Posted by Steve on Tue, 12/09/2008 - 1:55pm

As we do every year, Karen and I packed up the dogs and headed off to Nantucket for Christmas Stroll. It's a tedious trip involving 6.5 hours of boring driving and 2.5 hours of even more boring sailing. With stops and check-in at the Hyannis Steamship terminal, we generally leave Brooklyn at 8am and arrive at Karen's house near town in Nantucket around 6pm. Or about the same time it would take to leave NY and check into a hotel in Moscow.

If it wasn't for this annual break from my work schedule, my Christmas spirit would last as long as the buzz from two Christmas Eve margaritas. But as soon as you step off the dock in Nantucket, the town envelopes you with the sights, sounds and smells of a 19th century Christmas. Which, of course, is what it's intended to do.

While I always bring my ubiquitous electronic leashes -- my cellphone and laptop -- I rarely use them. It's basically five days of rest, relaxation and sore feet from negotiating Nantucket's slippery cobblestone streets. And unending heartburn from the gallon of quahog chowder, five pounds of prime rib and the hot eggnogs I scarf during the trip with no regard for the consequences.

It also gives me a chance to get away from the often ostentatious and overly precious rehabs and restorations of Brooklyn to study the subtlety of understated Nantucket architecture and to possibly steal a few ideas I can use for myself.

Love it or hate it, Nantucket's strict architecture codes have resulted in an island where you won't find five different kinds of siding and three different styles of modern windows on the same house. Nor a beautiful old Victorian obliterated with vinyl siding, a Home Depot metal entry door and a stainless steel fence surrounding a concrete slab where a lawn is supposed to be. Even the island restorations are made to look like they were done twenty years ago.

As a result, you won't find a single example of "eyesore" on Nantucket.

As promised: Dyker Heights Extreme Christmas

Posted by Steve on Mon, 11/27/2006 - 11:05pm

Forgive two blog posts in one day but I'll be off the air for a few days and I know that some of you are cursing the knots in your string of outside Christmas lights right about now. Prepare to be overwhelmed.

Dyker Heights is next to my beloved Bay Ridge here in Brooklyn. In most respects, it's pretty much indistinguishable from Bay Ridge except during the Christmas holidays, when you can spot it from the moon. I don't know what they put it in the water over on 11th Avenue but subtlety ain't it.

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