NYC Secret: 6½ Avenue!


Between 51st and 57th St in Midtown is a funny thing: a walkway that cuts through the belly of office buildings and leads off to sidewalks past stop signs, where vehicles must stop for you footfall. The signed “6½ Avenue” had been, according to this New York Times article, an “open secret” for years — but last year it became a city-sanctioned  legit “street.” … Continue reading

Is it “Spring Break” or “break in spring”?

Screen shot 2013-03-12 at 10.06.32 AM

Spring Break turns 53 this year, well sort of. A few years ago, while wondering if Spring Break is “travel” or not for an episode of the “76-Second Travel Show,” I tracked down Barbara Keith, one of the many college-age girls who went to Ft Lauderdale because, as the 1960 movie put it, it’s Where the Boys Are. She ended up staying for good, though … Continue reading

Chuck Berry live in St Louis


The leader of the band has forgotten what song he’s playing. He hits a few notes on his guitar, but they are the wrong ones. And they are too loud. He either doesn’t notice or doesn’t care. A balding guitarist in glasses, his son, leans in and says something, and the leader nods back. He lets his guitar hang unplayed and sings some … Continue reading

NYC Secret: Hispanic Society of America


            Next time you’re at 156th and Broadway — not that many New Yorkers or visitors to New York ever are — look west. The Audubon Terrace is a group of eight Beaux Art buildings that come as quite a shock. They’re home to a few institutions like the Hispanic Society of America, founded in 1904. It’s fun. … Continue reading

My dad’s ‘bucket list’: Black Hills, South Dakota


Last year, on the 10th anniversary of my dad’s death, I wrote about taking my dad to one his ‘bucket list’ destinations — before that term was in use: the Black Hills of South Dakota. As I wrote last April: Lonely Planet sent me on a research trip around the Great Plains, and I cajoled him away from work for a few days … Continue reading

The 30-minute Harrisburg Experiment

Aerial view of Harrisburg, 1855 (courtesy of the LIbrary of Congress)

I’m usually interested in towns big enough to have a downtown, particularly when they’re capitals. A few years ago I zipped through Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (shown above; courtesy of the Library of Congress), and didn’t stop. It had a distressed, morning-after air, and in fact declared bankruptcy a couple years ago. Later, I once said anything place can be interesting — except for Harrisburg. … Continue reading