Sandy’s Travel Blog #3 — From Fort Worth to NYC to Portland!

The Woodshed Smokehouse Menu
The Woodshed Smokehouse Menu

The muggy thundery weather that greeted my on my arrival in DFW soon gave way to a gorgeous late-spring evening. By the time David Weuste and his lovely wife Emily had picked me up at my hotel and navigated the dense and hair-raising traffic from the mid-cities to downtown Fort Worth, it had set up for a plain delightful night out. Our destination turned out to be a favorite of theirs, the Woodshed Smokehouse. The atmosphere was super relaxed and very convivial. We found a perfect table in the indoor/outdoor spacious dining room very close to a TV screen where seemingly every sports match being played concurrently in the state of Texas was on the playlist. TCU’s own baseball team was playing only a couple of miles away and fortunately by the time we had finished dining, they had wrestled a win away from a poor underdog and in due course, the restaurant began to fill up with lots of happy hometown fans and maybe a few culinarily well-advised fans of the losing team too! Meanwhile on the superb menu were too many options to tempt me. Specials of the day include at least two wild animals and all are supplemented by a vast array of fine beers and wines, most all of them available on tap. I sampled two fine IPAs while feasting on tapas-style samplings including wild boar tostadas, brisket-stuffed piquillo peppers, smoked hummus and improbably delicious roast rutabaga with goat cheese and several add-ons. The peach cobbler we shared and squeezed in to finish was just superb. My only regret was that I missed out on the rabbit/rattlesnake sausage. That has to be on the destination hits next visit. We had a great opportunity to visit with each other and to discuss some strategies going forward and laugh over some funny near misses in our recent history. The confusing of Yuja Wang’s and Joyce Yang’s name in a recent (and very nice review) by one writer was especially amusing, especially since it led to further confusion over the name of our producer, Judy (not Joyce) Sherman. The fact that Joyce had just stood in for Yuja in Kansas City led to some diverting hypotheses on the permutations that might yield for a critic on hand there. We continued our evening in downtown Fort Worth exploring and admiring some of the new and older architecture, as well as some of the grand newly developed or restored open recreational spaces that are tempting locals and tourists alike out into the arts district with children in tow to help curate and enjoy some of the exciting and vibrant local offerings. A particular fascination was to follow two municipal employees around the central district as they “beat” their way armed with laser-light guns and wooden whip-slashes, making as much noise and distraction as possible to unseat the masses of flocking birds in the avenues of downtown trees. It was diverting to watch and meanwhile, apparently completely ineffective since the birds simply moved noisily from block to block, keeping just a few trees ahead of the beaters. In much more relaxed traffic I was gratefully delivered back to my remarkable comfortable and recently completely updated hotel for a quiet and comfortable if very short night in Euless on the southern parameter of the DFW airport.

The Singer's New Chandelier
The latest Chandelier at the Singer’s home

My 4am shuttle arrived right on time and delivered me to the United terminal a full two and 3/4 hours before my departure. My ASQ colleague Fred would have been more than happy, but I was frankly concerned that I’d fall asleep again and miss the darned plane. Fortunately I found a Red Carpet lounge right next to my gate and with some trepidation, I took on some very early morning coffee and a bagel and did a lot of reading and some screening of audition tapes of some fine cellists and mixed ensembles. These are all potential semi-finalists in the forthcoming Concert Artists Guild Competition in the Fall of 2014. It was a delicate balance to consume just enough coffee to stay awake and alert, but not so much that I’d be too buzzed to sleep on my continuing flight to NYC. I knew I had a very long day ahead and needed to be rested. I slept like a baby when the time came and arrived at Newark airport about a half hour early. A quick shirt over to pick up my car rental and I was on my way to Tenafly, with “Siri” as my guide, to visit Robert Besen, the ASQ’s manager for some 15 years. Robert has recently relocated to a new home for his family and his office to the leafy NJ suburbs and this was my first visit with him in his new digs. It was a comfortable drive and the weather was quite mild. We spent an hour catching up on family news and then walked into downtown Tenafly for a working lunch that moved back to his office with a detour to pickup his 8 y.o. son Leo from his neighboring school. Then, after another 30 minutes or so, visiting over a cello consult (Leo has a fine new 1/4 size instrument) and a quick catchup with Robert’s wife Dena who was just returning from a long day working at her nearby university, Robert and I returned to work. We continued until 8pm reviewing and strategizing, tweaking how to address and fine-tune the forthcoming seasons, including programming, travel, visas, work permits, and communications logistics and much more besides. I began my drive over to Westchester County and after a quick bite to eat in a tiny authentic little Mexican restaurant in Mamaroneck, I rolled up to spend the night with dear friends, Sid and Shirley Singer and their beautiful waterside home. Although it was late and everyone was tired, there was no way I could fall into bed before being introduced to the latest installation in their spectacular art collection. Connoisseurs and collectors of wonderful contemporary art, sculpture and furnishings, the Singers always have something new to be contemplated, admired and loved, but this latest chandelier at more than 10 feet high and 600+ pounds weight is overwhelming, both exquisite and awe-inspiring in its beauty as a sculpture and a technical feat of ingenuity, manufacturing and engineering. The chandelier was created by glass-blowing artist, sculptress-engineer, Beverly Albrets from Naples, FL.

Wednesday was a day off. I spent it mostly on the phone when not chatting with our dear and sage friend and a frequent presenter of the ASQ’s, Sid Singer. We did some errands and enjoyed lunch at a favorite Asian/fusion restaurant in Mamaroneck. Meanwhile I caught up with some old Yale friends, sent some emails and phoned refinements to our forthcoming touring plans for Europe in Spring 2015 and chatted with Max Horowitz, our crossover radio wizard. I also mapped out with Joyce Yang who was in transit to NYC, the outline of our agenda for Thursday’s breakfast meeting. All this before heading into Manhattan where I enjoyed a birthday drink and snack with our dear friend and Baruch College’s Associate Provost, Dennis Slavin — (his birthday, not mine)! I was back in Westchester by 8:30 and unusually for me, in bed by 9:30 with some tea and my laptop to dig further into my audition screening chores.

Sandy's mobile office in Manhattan, site of many a phone call and much emailing.
Standstill on the Cross-Bronx Espressway

Sandy’s mobile office in Manhattan, site of many a phone call and much emailing.Thursday began with a traditional neighborhood walkabout with my hostess, and portrait photographer par excellence, Shirley Singer. The two of us have made a habit of striking out for quasi-vigorous early morning walkabouts on Graecen Point. We chat about our families, travel and vacation plans, favorite restaurants and recipes, artists, our health and anything else that comes to mind. We love to catch up like this while taking in the beautiful neighborhood and keeping up with the local gossip. My plan to leave at 9:30 for my meeting with Joyce and Richard at our preordained breakfast destination started out well but after an “on time” departure, things quickly snared-up when the Cross Bronx Thruway ground to a complete halt. Had I listened to the traffic radio in advance, I would have known that there had been a fatal collision between two tractor trailers on the upper deck of the George Washington Bridge. That said, there would have been few options since all the alternative routes were experiencing related 60+ minute delays on account of redirected traffic. It was quickly clear that there was no possibility of getting into Manhattan and in fact, a good chance that I’d not make it to Newark for my 2:30 flight to Portland, OR. Once things came to a total standstill, I simply turned off the engine, got out my files and got on the phone. Joyce and I talked for nearly 50 minutes covering our whole agenda and then some, during all of which time, I didn’t move an inch (see my pics). Gradually I learned via radio that the wrecks had been moved and very slowly, things began to move. It occurred to me that I was glad I’d held the line at one cup of coffee. I picked up some time after the still vey slow bridge and made it to Newark by 1:15 with enough time miraculously to gas up the car and make my way by very encumbered shuttle bus to my terminal (the EWR sky train is currently inoperative).

In Route to PortlandMy continuing flight to Portland (via SFO) is on-time and I’m going to take a little break from listening and blogging to read and sleep. Tomorrow is my last day on the road and I’ll be looking forward to visiting with some of the people at Allegro Media who help distribute our FoghornClassics label in its various formats to our many listeners and fans. We have an intricate and extensive agenda to tackle and once more, I’m looking forward to meeting some people who we deal with and depend on day in and day out but who until now, we have yet to meet.

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