Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Reporting from New York

It’s been awhile since my last travelogue. I had trips planned to Ferguson, Syria, and West Africa but couldn’t get bonus miles so what’s the point?

Spent a long weekend in New York City. Was there to attend a family Bat Mitzvah, see some shows, and sweat. Took Virgin American going. It was my first time on that airline. Never been in a cabin with soft purple club lighting before. Or seen emergency instructions delivered as a hip hop video. (Yo! Evacuate bitches and children first.) I was expecting a bouncer and velvet rope in front of the lavatories. We took off late. There was a mechanical problem. I think the fog machine was on the fritz. But the Flight Ho’s were very nice. They went down the aisle offering headphones and iced out jewelry.

First thing I learned upon landing was that Joan Rivers had passed away. She was a giant, a trailblazer – the Jackie Robinson of women comediennes. I especially felt the loss being in her town. My first thought though – and I imagine Joan herself would not say “too soon” – was that for next year’s Emmys they should air the In Memoriam segment during the red carpet show.

If they gave away free iPhones, the line wouldn’t be as long as the one at JFK trying to get a taxi. Had to be a thousand people. Even if the nearest Uber cab is in Philadelphia book it.

Stayed at the Shelburne in the Murray Hill district. It wants the public to think of them as chic and are as successful in that goal as Buick is.

First night my wife and I went to see BEAUTIFUL: THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL. Jesse Mueller won a Tony for playing Carole King. Sure wish we had seen her. We got the understudy. Rebecca LaChance. But she was actually quite good. Hey, it’s not like she had to duplicate Barbra Streisand’s voice. Of course you wonder – how exceptional is a Tony-winning performance when the understudy can pull it off? By the way, you can only get a refund if the star’s name is above the title, although you can still get your money back if the night you attend the title is BEAUTIFUL: THE CAROL O’CONNER MUSICAL.

It was a lovely warm night so we walked through Times Square. Tourists were taking pictures of the guy dressed as Spiderman, two Cookie Monsters, and the girl in patriotic body paint who was completely naked but for panties. The Jennifer Lawrence nudes were less revealing. Star Spangled Girl might still be there in the winter. But hurry. After October she paints herself wearing a coat.

The U.S. Open tennis tournament was going on at Flushing. I didn’t attend but to show my allegiance to this great country of ours I did take a photo of the naked girl in red, white, and blue body paint.

There is scaffolding around St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Either they’re refurbishing or converting it into a shrine for Derek Jeter.

Don’t sleep in the Subway. Bed bugs have been reported on four major lines.  And NY subways are usually so sterile. 

Had lunch with comedy writing royalty – Bob Ellison. Afterwards we took a stroll. 55th Street was blocked for some film production. Bob said, “They’re shooting GAME OF THRONES.”

I took a photo of a police booth on Lexington and posted it on Facebook saying I was in town to pitch a new low budget cop show, POLICE KIOSK. My Facebook friend Pamela Pettler, suggested even better titles. KIOSK 54 WHERE ARE YOU?, HILL STREET BOOTHS, and KIOSKJAK.

But New York’s Finest was on the case. “Squeegee Man” was arrested for the 226th time. Citizens are breathing much easier now that the serial windshield washer is off the streets.

Of course the big commotion was at 61st Street outside Joan Rivers’ building. Every TV news van, satellite dish, searchlight, and camera was out there along with a thousand paparazzi. What were they hoping to see? I can almost hear Joan calling down from the heavens, “Where were you bastards when I was alive?”

Saw IF/THEN, which should be called IF/ONLY (I had seen anything else). Navajo Code Breakers couldn’t decipher this convoluted story. The only reason to go is to see Idina Menzel belt every song so loud that one night she’s going to projectile vomit her liver right into the balcony.

It was Fashion Week in New York although you’d never know it from walking the streets. The Carole King schlump look is still very much in.

For all its craziness, New York always wins me over because WPIX, Channel 11 still airs the original 39 episodes of THE HONEYMOONERS. Saturdays at 11. Ralph, Norton, Alice – baby you’re still the greatest. And Trixie.

The Kramden’s one bedroom apartment in Bensonhurst with just a table, two chairs, and 1943 ice box today is renting for $3,000 a month.

On Sunday everyone in New York was not just in mourning, they were inconsolable as they said goodbye to one of their own. The Derek Jeter retirement ceremony was held at Yankee Stadium. Oh, and there was the Joan Rivers memorial too.

Returned home via American Airlines so we had not one but two mechanical problems that delayed us. The second one after an hour on line on the tarmac. Fortunately our flight wasn’t cancelled. That should be their new slogan: “American Airlines: You’re lucky we fly at all.

My guess is mechanical problem number two was the windows in the cockpit were smeared. Where is "Squeegee Man" when you need him???

41 comments:

Mark Stout said...

Maybe that kiosk was for an Americanized, dumbed down Doctor Who.

Brian Phillips said...

That's "Adele Dazeem", isn't it?

Dan Ball said...

LAW & ORDER: TO-GO UNIT. (Originally called the Take-Out Unit until the Special Victims Unit had to be called for the middle-aged gentleman who misinterpreted "Take-Out".)



Dan Ball said...

@Mark Stout:

That's a fine profile pic of that Tri-Motor. I think I've flown on it before (if it's the one that belongs to the EAA). Looks almost like my LinkedIn profile pic where I'm standing in front of the B-17 "Aluminum Overcast" right before I got to fly on it. Both were very nice rides. Couldn't BELIEVE the power those four old workhorse engines had. Didn't think something that old had enough power to throw me back in my seat like that!

Dan Ball said...

@Mark Stout:

That's a fine profile pic of that Tri-Motor. I think I've flown on it before (if it's the one that belongs to the EAA). Looks almost like my LinkedIn profile pic where I'm standing in front of the B-17 "Aluminum Overcast" right before I got to fly on it. Both were very nice rides. Couldn't BELIEVE the power those four old workhorse engines had. Didn't think something that old had enough power to push me into my seat like that! That thing was built to last a while.

Anonymous said...

Joan Rivers- perhaps the Willie Mays, but not the Jackie Robinson. The Robinson metaphor implies she was first, Phyllis Diller and a couple others predated her. They broke the ground she excelled in.
She may be the best woman comic, but certainly not the first.

Anthony said...

Ken, I believe I recall you saying you saw PIPPIN but I don't remember hearing if you had seen A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO LOVE & MURDER....if not, you should've definitely seen that over IF/THEN. I do know Jessie Mueller has been out on a brief vacation.

Stoney said...

Another forerunner of Joan Rivers worth mentioning would be Rusty Warren.

The mention of WPIX makes me nostalgic for the days when they, along with WNEW and WOR, were the big draw to cable TV. Remember Bob MacAllister and Pixanne? WPIX also aired "Sesame Street" in it's early years.

Anonymous said...

And no one remembers Totie Fields anymore!

Fran in NYC

Eric J said...

You probably meant Navajo Code Talkers. They didn't break codes. They simply spoke over the radio in Navajo, a difficult, little known language that was unlikely to be known by the other side. It was never broken.

No robot would know that, but I STILL have to prove I'm not a robot?

blinky said...

Great read. You should do a travelogue when you go to Starbucks and the dry cleaner. Seriously.

Paul Duca said...

That is renovation at St. Patrick's cathedral..which the "Catholic" CEO of Home Depot says he won't cough up for unless Pope Francis cools it about how wealthy people are bad.

Carson said...

No one suggested NYPD: Booth?

Daniel said...

I would seriously watch Police Kiosk. Cast Rebecca LaChance. You can do a musical episode.

Anonymous said...

Fran in NYC

I remember Totie Fields. It was Moms Mably, Totie Fields, Joan Rivers, and strangely, Rip Taylor that I would chance incurring my parent's wrath to stay up late and watch Carson. There is so little of Totie on youtube.

Pam in St.Louis

Todd Everett said...

So FXX is doing a remake of "Star-Spangled Girl" and NBC is promoting a new "Dr. Who," set in NYC?

David said...

Policehut

The policeman in the glass booth.

If it's near the docks it might be the Portapolice

David

LouOCNY said...

gotta love how on the police booth, the Con Ed meter is almost as big as the booth...

Wilton said...

cop in the box.
Boxcops

norm said...

Now that is GOOD photography!
No, not the kiosk of cops.

Bill said...

Friday question. Just learned about this documentary on Susan Oliver http://shop.thegreengirlmovie.com/ . I recognized her but had no idea about her accomplishments. Since she directed an episode of MASH, I wonder if you have any stories about her and, in general, your thoughts about women directing and the challenges they face.

Scooter Schechtman said...

Norm... are you implying that the cop kiosk didn't have perky nipples?

Name/URL said...

Law and Order: SRO

Steve said...

As a Virgin America employee and longtime follower of this blog, I just wish I had been there to board Ken.

"Welcome to Virgin America, and enjoy your flight ... Beaver."

Howard Hoffman said...

The Joan Rivers analogy is precise. Phyllis Diller, Moms Mabley, et al, predated Joan Rivers, but they all played a character in costume. Joan was the first to dress contemporarily and not be anyone other than herself. She flawlessly transitioned from the NY comedy underground to television and became the female equivalent to Lenny Bruce (Bruce, to refresh your memory, knew how to behave for a TV audience, and so did Joan). She was the first breakthrough pure female standup comic.

MikeK.Pa. said...

Friday Question: When pitching a series (one-hour drama or half-hour sitcom) how thorough do the character arcs and plot lines need to be and how many pages does the requisite "bible" usually run? I'm thinking of Vince Gilligan's pitch for "Breaking Bad" as Mr. Chips evolves into Scarface. Wondering how many characters he profiled in is bible and how many were created along the way?

RCP said...

Loved your line about the Kramden's $3,000 apartment, which would probably be marketed today with its "cozy great room, original hardwood flooring, vintage kitchen, glorious natural light, and conversation piece fire escape." I always wanted to see their bedroom.

Pam in St. Louis: Perhaps the fact that Rip Taylor was/is a roaring queen was the reason your parents didn't want you staying up late to watch him?

Anonymous said...

Will Idina Menzel flash another boob, use the F-word, or pee herself AGAIN for pervert publicity when she performs her Christmas album live or will she simply pretend to have class just long enough to exploit the Christmas season in order to reap well over 100 times the pay of a firefighter? If she truly cares about 'equality', then why does she deliberately concentrate so much wealth thereby causing more hardship for others, more poverty and more economic instability? Doesn't the bi-partisan CBO report stating that the rich have become too rich and that more government stimulus will be necessary from now on in order to compensate for the OUTRAGEOUS gap between rich and poor mean anything to her?

Idina Menzel. Filthy rich already. But why pay for more ad space? Just flash a boob, make an obscene joke and pee yourself. All done for publicity. Ch'Ching!

http://idinamenzelisjustanothercelebritypig.blogspot.com/

Would you rather I simply ignore profound economic injustice and stand by as so many of those responsible go on dumbing down America relentlessly for their own obscene profit? Should I hold my tongue out of fear that Menzel's reps or naive fans may jump to small minded conclusions regarding 'jealousy' 'self-esteem' or some other grade-school psychological crap? Should I hold my tongue out of fear that one or more of those trying desperately to determine my identity and location may finally succeed and come to do me harm? The answer is no. I type the truth, I've prepared for every possibility and I will not be phased. If ANYONE hopes to break my will then it will be necessary to break my neck first.

D Markell said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Buttermilk Sky said...

What the hell was that?

Next time you're in Murray Hill, Ken, check out the police kiosk at Lexington and 38th. The sidewalk has been closed for like thirty years because terrorists -- sorry, I mean freedom fighters -- threaten to bomb the Cuban consulate. There's got to be a sitcom there. "Car 54, Donde esta?"

mmryan314 said...

@anonymous- lighten the F up. No one comes to this entertaining blog to be preached to about economic injustice and a celebrity`s exploitation of Christmas.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dixon Steele said...

Anonymous=Menzel's former manager?

Mike McCann said...

@Howard... do you remember Betty Walker, another contemporary of Totie Fields? Very Jewish, very funny, almost exclusively an Ed Sullivan artist.

Tats said...

If only The Odd Couple were still on WPIX at night. Another New York institution gone. Sacrilege I know but I would easily take that over The Honeymooners - I really can't watch the latter anymore, whereas The Odd Couple to me holds up remarkably well.

Is The Shelburne the Hotel on Lex that is over RARE? That's still my favorite burger place, although they're way too huge for me to not get major food coma afterward. Whereas Melon's burgers aren't nearly as decadent but they don't leave me uncomfortably full at all.

Do you have favorite New York burger places?

Ken Levine said...

It is indeed where RARE is located and as a big burger fan I always have one there. It remains terrific. Also, try the burger place in the lobby of the Parker-Meridian. You won't be disappointed.

jbryant said...

Police Kiosk -- We'll solve your crimes in about an hour.

Adam 12 Square Feet

And I hear Dick Wolfis developing a show about park rangers called Law and Order: Criminals in Tents.

DrBOP said...

"Well, that Levine kid was rippin' them to shreds out there today folks.....two spit-takes.....a knuckle-dragger.....and that late-inning projectile liver was a classic! Yep, pitched a nice game.

Surprised that he hasn't heard from the NYTimes entertainment editor to be their new theater critic.....can't quite decide which would sound better......Broadway Beav(er)......or Beaver On Broadway..."

( PS = LIKE it when you get a bit scathing :+)

Storm said...

Props and a big "KNOCKERS UP!" to Stoney for the Rusty Warren shout-out! God, I love that brassy broad.

Cheers, thanks a lot,

Storm

Jabroniville said...

I found "If/Then" to be rather mediocre in story as well (the core "unique" bit of the plot is actually the musical's weakest point)- the main appeal is the star power of Idina. She's a good actress (funnier than I'd imagined), and of course, the power-belting that hits you in the chest.

Some of the songs felt a bit too... designed entirely for her voice, I guess. Like it was there just to prove that she can sing loudly, and there's not to much to the songs BESIDES loud-singing. It's like those heavy metal songs that are JUST loud, instead of having slower, quieter points to make the loud bits more impressive.

-b said...

Hawaii 5X0. Policesquashed. Phones. Starkey in Hutch. The Ringtone Cops. Okay I'm done now :)