Archive for the ‘Celebrity Points’ category

Papal Ankling – Part 2 of 2

April 21, 2008

This is the second and last of my Papal visit to St. Patrick’s Cathedral ankle. That is, this is the second post about me ankling to the Papal motorcade down Fifth Avenue. The Cathedral is very impressive, but it doesn’t have an ankle that I’m aware of.

So, I got to Fifth Avenue and 56th Street and was standing amidst the crowd. The line to the barricade was two or three people deep and this crowd had made a lot of home-made signs. The picture below shows the big banner they had. It was supported by some sort of long cardboard tubes. I feared for my chance to view Pope Benedict XVI once these people had all picked up their banners. But, he was supposed to come in the Popemobile and I figured I’d see at least a part of him.

Over the few minutes that I had been there, the dancers had grown in number and were doing their song and dance in a long line. As I said before, the crowd would occasionally join in on the chorus. To call this pleasant is a huge understatement. It was, at least to a very small extent, sublime.

At about 8:50am, I noticed a Secret Service guy walking just inside the street, looking very carefully at the crowd. In the distance, the number of flashing lights grew in number and then the motorcycles came. This is only one of four pictures of the motorcycles that I got. And my camera has a long delay between pictures. There were perhaps 30 of them.

Then the standard black SUV. I’ve no idea if it was staff or cops or both in it. Doesn’t matter.

Then a limo.

And another SUV followed by a limo.

And another limo. Actually, three of them.

Or was it a total of four limos after that second SUV?

At about this time, the woman next to me started yelling, “That was him! He looked right at me!”

But I hadn’t seen the Popemobile. No bubble-top. No standing,sitting, or propped up figure in ancient garb. Just a bunch of limos with no sign as to who was in which.

The limos were followed by this vehicle. Probably an emergency truck, maybe it was an ambulance.

And it was followed by this cop car.

Strangely, at that point helicopters appeared in the distance. Four of them. (Three are just specks in the next picture, but they were certainly up there.)

The helicopters had all of us wondering if the Pope was coming now. There was virtually no movement for a few minutes and then the cops started to let traffic start flowing east-west.

And I went home.

So, did I see the Pope? I’d have to say No. Did the Pope see me? I’d have to go with the woman and say, Yes.

The Pope got the lesser of the deal.

-H

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Papal Ankling – Part 1 of 2

April 20, 2008

On Saturday, I woke up early and said to myself: “Maybe I’ll go see the Pope.” So, off I went.

I live on the East Side and the Pope was going to St. Patrick’s Cathedral in mid-town on Fifth Avenue. For days, we’d been plastered with notices as to what streets are open/closed and the like. So, my target was to get as close to Fifth Avenue and 51st Street as I possibly could.

I had heard they were issuing 5,000 tickets for St. Patrick’s, but I’m not Roman Catholic and I figured that there was quite a crush for them. But I had heard that the Pope’s route down Fifth Avenue was open to the public and I just viewed it as another sort of parade.

And off I went. I heard that security was going to be high, but (and I say this as someone who has seen a number of presidential motorcades and appearances) Wow! Oodles of security.

Madison Avenue is just to the east of Fifth Avenue. Security had cut off everything on Madison north of 47th Street. Here are those dumptrucks again. Papal Dumptrucks! There oughta be a marketing tie-in somehow on this.

If you could prove you worked/lived north of there, you could go through. But probably only a block or two. And you saw a cop every 10 feet or so.

The rest of us they told to go over to Sixth Avenue. And so we walked over there, but had to go to 46th Street to do so. On Sixth, I found a huge line of people apparently waiting to be let to go onto Fifth Avenue. (When I walked past Fifth, I saw that they had empty barricades waiting for people to be let into the area.)

I first walked across the street and took a picture of the Sixth Avenue line. I joined it at 45th street and in less than 2 minutes had at least 100 people behind me. They were coming in droves.

Here’s a picture from within the line. The crowd was quite jovial and excited and I was delighted to be in it. A couple of people around me mentioned that they had their tickets and I thought that it was interesting that they hadn’t segregated out the ticket holders from the rest of us rabble.

Sirius Radio hired a number of pretty, young ladies to hand out placards. The placards were very popular. I got one of the hander-outers to pose for me.

And, of course, there were a number of people selling, as best as I can describe it, Pope Junk.

When the line got to 47th Street, the police had set up a line of cops to shunt people coming out of the subway stop to get in our line. By this time, I figured the line was back to 40th Street or so. For people going to see a moral leader, they had no qualms about cutting into line. No one denounced them. Just about the only ones who didn’t cut into line were the ones trying to cut into line further ahead. Oh, and ones trying to get the cops to give them a break and let them go down 47th. Apparently, people who could prove they worked/lived there were let through.

A common sight, a number of people would just caaaassssuuuuuaaaaalllllllyyyyy duck under the barricades and start walking down the street with the cops running up to them and throwing them out. The people were utterly bewildered, or seemingly so.

Once past 47th, the speed of the line going over to Fifth picked up. And so did the bad news. Just as I was nearly past 47th, a cop called out that the line was only for people with tickets. I didn’t believe him. It was 8:18am and I had joined the line about 7:20. I started wondering why no one had said anything earlier if it were true. Maybe they had segregated the ticket holders from the rabble and I, rabble indeed, had overstepped my bounds. I just kinda laughed about it and figured that maybe I wouldn’t get to see Pope Benedict XVI after all.

But there were others who weren’t going to see the Pope either. This fun little group of protestors tried to provoke people. I think once they passed us, they did get called names by people further back. Folks, that’s what they want.

Mostly, they were ignored by our group. Actually, it may have been inadvertent and the protest group was moving fast and most of the people around me were all deep in conversation with each other.

And the protestors did love getting their pictures taken. You just have to wonder about their priorities in this life and their willingness to make unfounded/provocative statements. No explanation as to why or what or how. Just a denouncement. (Maybe they were pro-Pope provocateurs trying to ferret out the unfaithful. Yes, that must be true. The young people below are doubtless Opus Dei insiders! Ha! I found you out! Don’t try to deny it.)

And when I got to 49th Street, a cop came by calling out that we needed to pull out our tickets or we needed to get out of line! I called out to her that I would get out of line and the cop started laughing. I had known I wouldn’t make it in, but had enjoyed the experience. The picture below is right at the spot where most of the line-waiters were directed to the right. And about 10 feet from where I was thrown out of line. I had been in the line for an hour and five minutes. It was 8:25 and the Pope was coming down Fifth Avenue for a 9am mass.

I decided that I’d head north and see where I could cut east. I just wanted to see how close I could get. I had to go all the way to 57th Street, which is a major east-west thoroughfare, before I could go east. And I did.

Once I got to 5th Avenue, I could see that the route was open for standing and watching. And people had apparently been waiting for a while. I ended up at 56th Street right across from Trump Tower. Most of the people in the area were Hispanic. If I had to bet, they were South Americans and they were having a good time singing and dancing.

And they didn’t mind having their picture taken.

Below is the musical source, just a little band without any sort of amplifiers. It was wonderful. Every so often, they’d break into a chorus that the whole crowd would join in. It wasn’t Choir-like, just a bunch of people doing a familiar song.

Tomorrow, I’ll show you how close I got.

-H

Pearl Theatre Company and the LES Handprints of Fame

March 29, 2008

St. Mark’s Place (aka, 8th Street between 3rd Avenue and Avenue A) has some of the most interesting places in the Lower East Side.  I really enjoy it down there.

Recently, I was walking past a place I’ve seen a number of times, Pearl Theatre, and looked down and saw that they’ve got a sort of Mann’s Chinese Theater handprints and footprints thing going on.

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Below are Dom DeLuise and Joan Crawford.  Now, that’s a strange twosome.

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Next are Hildegard(?) and Myrna Loy.

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Next are Gloria Swanson and Lillian Roth.

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The next hold the prints for Ruby Keeler and Joan Blondell.

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Next, Kitty Carlisle Hart (who recently died and was a NYC theater/opera/philanthropic legend).

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Next Allan Jones (an actor and the father of singer Jack Jones).

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I just can’t read the next one.

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There are two names on the next, but the only one I can read, sort of, is “Wimi Shawn” or “Shaw” or “Shaun”.  It almost certainly is not “William Shawn” as he was the famed editor of the New Yorker and it is hard to believe he’d put his handprints alongside people he may have covered.  It could be “Wallace Shawn” (son of William Shawn) as he has some association with the Pearl Theatre, but it sure looks like there’s an “i” or two in the name.

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Of course, it is likely there’s only one name (the Shaw/Shawn/Shaun one) and a mysterious message.  Well, what’s life without some mystery?  (EDITED TO ADD:  thanks to reader “Brian”, it appears to be Winifred “Wini” Shaw.)

Under any circumstances, they haven’t taken great care with these names and prints. Too bad.

-H

Movie Shoot in Greenwich Village

March 18, 2008

If you’re in NYC for any length of time, you start to see these sorts of signs all over the place.  And the prettier/grittier the place, the more often you see them.

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It’s a notice that, if you had parked on this street (Greenwich Street) on Sunday, March 16th, you’d have been towed away.  They’re making a movie called “New York, I Love You”.

Hey, I sympathize with the sentiment.  I checked IMDB and they have this.  At this time, the entry is pretty bare, but it says that 12 filmmakers are making an anthology based on the title’s premise.  The directors and actors seem like a pretty first-rate crew, too.  But, then, I don’t go to movies that often so I only recognized about a third of the names.

But, like I said, I like the sentiment of the title.

I still have a problem with the sentiment of the notice, though.  NYC really lets the movie/TV industry have their way on everything.  I don’t know if I really like giving these guys the right to block off entire streets for hours/days.  But, it does let people see NYC in its best light.

I don’t know where they’re filming, as these signs go up not only next to the location of the shots, but to areas they are going to be parking all of the vehicles used in carrying cameras and food and actors and all.  But, I did see some photogenic looking buildings here.

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Yeah, that’s the same sign.

-H

Theater Row in Hell’s Kitchen…and a bit ‘o the Bard

March 17, 2008

A co-worker alerted me to a new production of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. 

So, I thought I ought to go.  And when I heard who was doing it, I really knew I must, absolutely must, go.

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It was TBTB, the acronym for Theater Breaking Through Barriers.  It used to be called the Theater for the Blind.  I’ve never seen any of their productions, but I figured it would be an interesting interpretation.

And it was.  It was more than that.  It was terrific.  I’m not that fond of the play itself (I just don’t enjoy the storyline that much), but their production was nicely done.  You see, they didn’t really play off the idea of the disabilities, but their real gimmick is that they were only going to have four actors playing all of the parts.  That meant that each actor would handle eight or more rolls.  And, on occasion, both rolls are on stage at the same time.  Talking with each other.

And you ain’t seen nothing til you’ve seen a blind actor doing quick costume changes to talk with himself…and one of “himselves” is a woman.  Kudos.

The show is at Theater Row in Hell’s Kitchen, 42nd Street between 9th and 10th Avenues.  It is my favorite off-off-Broadway venue.  It holds a number of separate smaller theaters (kind of a live theater multiplex) and this play was in The Kirk.  It holds about 100 seats.

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I could only tell disabilities in two of the actors, there was only one blind guy and one who has cerebal palsy.  Another great part is that there was no quarter given to them on account of the disability.  The actor with CP (Gregg Mozgala) had to jump about the stage in his role as Romeo.  The blind actor had to wander the stage and pick up stuff at one point and sword fight at other points.

The Kirk’s inside before the beginning.

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If you look carefully, you may see the wires across the stage floor.  They were used as marks for the blind actor (George Ashiotis).  When he did his switching of roles, it was great.  He did conversations with his off-stage self and would go back and change during it.

But the best switching was done by the lone female (Emily Young).  For a long conversation between Juliet and Paris (she playing both parts), she kept walking back and forth behind a barrier (just behind the small box at the center in the picture above) and putting up her hood to show that she was Paris, or down to show that she was Juliet.  And she kept them straight.  I think we were all at the edge of our seats waiting for a slip, but there was none.

And I say all of this and Nicholas Viselli and Emily Young are probably amazed/amused that I didn’t spot their disabilities (if they have any).  But disabilities weren’t part of the play (although I kept hearing lines about blindness and light that I hadn’t noticed before).  And that was the great thing.  I went to the play expecting to have them put out the lights for a large portion of it to force the audience to “see” the play the way a blind person would, but got a straight-out production of Shakespeare that ignored any limitations.

Oh, and another gimmick that I liked was the idea that they kept putting up Southern and Western accents (and occasional other ones that didn’t work quite as well) into the play.  No British accents, but American ones.  (Viselli’s Texan Mr. Capulet was the best accent.)

Well done.

-H

Yiddish Theater Walk of Fame on 2nd Avenue

February 20, 2008

The Lower East Side was heavily Jewish and German for a long time in the 1800s-1900s.  The people there created their own theater where they spoke and performed in Yiddish.  I don’t know how many theaters there were, but apparently enough to sustain a number of performers throughout their professional lives.

I was on a tour of the LES when, just walking along a part of 2nd Avenue I’ve been on a dozen or more times and the guide pointed out that we were at the Yiddish Theater Walk of Fame.  It’s on the corner of 10th Street right at the Chase Bank.  Apparently it was the site of the famed 2nd Avenue Deli.  Notice the plaques on the ground.

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I did some searching on names and couldn’t find a listing of the “famed”.  So, I’ve decided to put them here for a little bit of posterity.  There’s only one performer that I’ve remember having heard of, but all are of importance in NYC theater history.  I’ve done my best to find appropriate links for the names.  When I wasn’t sure, I made a note of it, but I think they’re pretty solid.  Whether the links will change/vanish over time is a different question.

First, Fyvush Finkel is the only one of a few who has a “solo” star.  His is also one of the most readable.

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Next is the way the rest of them are:  two names sharing a star.  Here’s Jennie Goldstein and Ida Kaminska (she was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar).  I’m going to do these as thumbnails because of the volume.  Click on the picture to see the actual star.

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Then Lillian Lux and Pesack Burstein (a wife and husband team, respectively).

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The next star is for Joseph Buloff and Luba Kadison.

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The next star is for Abraham Goldfaden and Michal Michalesko:

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The next star is for Miriam Kressyn and Seymour Rexite (alternative spelling of Seymour Rechzeit):

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Abraham Goldfaden gets a second star, this time for being the founder of the Yiddish Theater in 1876.

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The next star is for “Alt Raymond” and Barry Sisters.  I’m not sure about the spelling of the first name.

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The next star is for Jack Rechtzeit and Mike Burstyn (I couldn’t find anything on Rechtzeit, but Burstyn has his own website).  Of course, it’s possible that “Jack Rechtzeit” and “Seymour Rechtzeit” (cited above) are the same person:

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The next star is for Max Bozyk and Rose Bozyk:

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The next star is for Boris Thomashevsky and Bessie Thomashevsky:

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The next is for Ed Fuchs and Rebecca Richman (I can’t find anything I’m certain is a link for either of them but I suspect this is Rebecca and I wonder about a link I can find for Leo Fuchs and Rebecca Richman and who might “Ed” be if not “Leo”):

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The next star is for Shulon Seckoa (possibly Sholum Secunda) and Peretz Sandler:

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This next one was completely unreadable by me:

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The next is for Molly Picon and Jacob Kalich (Jacob was Molly’s husband, but that’s all I know):

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The next star is for Leon Liebgold and Lilly Lilyana (Leon was a Holocaust survivor):

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The next star is for Mary Sureanu (thanks to reader Elise, the spelling is now corrected) Mary Soreanu and Lucy Levine:

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The next star is for Irving Jacobson and an “unknown” Jacobson:

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The next star is for Ben Bonas/Ben Donus and Mina Bern (it looks like Ben Bonas was Mina’s husband, but that’s a guess as I can find a “Bonas” link to Mina, but it looks like “Donus” on the star but there was a “Ben Bonus” that is also linked to Bern – this was a man of how many names?!):

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The next star is for Ludwig Satz and Moishe Oysher:

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The next star is for David Kessler and Zvi Scooler (also spelled Zvee Scooler, at least so it seems):

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The next star is for Herman Yablokoff and Bella Meisel:

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I’m sad to say that I cannot read the next star:

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The next star is for Alexander Olshanetsky and Abe Ellstein:

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The next star is for Mischa Gehrman and Lucy Gehrman:

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The next star is for Joseph Rumshinsky and Arnold Perlmutter:

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The next star is for Jacob Jacobs and Betty Jacobs:

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The next star is for Maurice Schwartz and an unreadable person’s name:

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The next star is for Henrietta Jacobson and Julius Adler  (wife and husband, respectively.  Their son is Bruce Adler who was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Actor two years in a row):

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The next star was unreadable:

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And the one after that was unreadable:

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The final star on the Yiddish Theater Walk of Fame is another single-person-on-a-star, Daniel Libeskind, the architect, with the interesting suffix “Friend of Folksbiene” which was the/a theater:

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-H

The 9th Precinct

February 3, 2008

When I was a kid, I enjoyed the old TV show “Kojak” with Telly Savalas.  Recently, I was down in the East Village and ran across the old precinct house that he was supposedly based out of:  the 9th Precinct.

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It’s located on 5th Street between 1st Avenue and 2nd Avenue.  In the bad-old-days, this area was one of the toughest and most crime ridden places in Manhattan, being right next to Alphabet City.

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I always find it interesting that the police cars are typically parked in the streets instead of a discreet parking lot someplace near.  Of course, a “discrete parking lot” would cost the city about a bazillion dollars, but they don’t even risk parking tickets by just pulling up front.

Below is the entire station house, or at least the front of it.

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The old exterior was also used for the “NYPD Blue” TV show, so it does have even more “history”.  (The Blues was actually supposedly set in the 15th Precinct, but I understand that was a ficticious precinct number.) 

It just went through a lot of recent renovations.  It looks sharp.

-H