September 25, 2017

OUT OF MY MIND

Just got back to Florida after 10 days in NYC with Kyle…The night I landed I ran over to Elaine’s on 2nd Avenue for their farewell dinner before shutting down. The place was packed but Frank Morano scored a table in the back (thanks Frank!). I was not a regular but I had eaten at Elaine’s numerous times over the years. The first time I went there I was with MORTON DOWNEY! The last time with Mark Simone. Across the room a beautiful blonde waved to me and as I approached her table I realized it was Nancy Pearson, a gal I dated briefly decades ago! The last time I saw her she was wearing a glitter mini-dress and we were dancing on the stage of STUDIO 54 with the big coke spoon rocking above us. She introduced me as ‘Richard Bey from 2 on the Town’. (I co-hosted that show on WCBS from 1981-82)Elaine’s regulars weren’t the only ones skipping over good memories that night!…ICHIUMI is now one of my favorite restaurants in the city. It’s a gigantic Japanese buffet on 32nd and Madison. The main table must be 60 feet long with hot food, salads, sushi, soups and sashimi. Even raw oysters and cooked crab. They have a table devoted solely to desserts and a soup area as well. Everything is mouthwatering fresh and delicious and, of course, all you can eat. At 18 bucks for lunch M-Thurs its also a steal (dinner is about twice that price) I could eat 18 dollars worth of those glistening Northwest oysters alone! Check out ICHIUMI….I just noticed that John Kerry always pronounces ‘idea’ like ‘idear’, exactly like my friends from Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn…I saw Kung Fu Panda 2 and X-men: First Class with Kyle. I thought X-men was the best of the entire series although it was disappointing to finally see proof for what I’ve long suspected. January Jones, ravishingly beautiful as always, was not blessed with other talents. The director wisely keeps us distracted by keeping her in lingerie most of the time. She was so good on ‘Mad Men’; kudos to the casting director and the directors who knew how to manipulate a shallow bitchiness and making it appear like a fascinating, complex neurosis. As for KFPanda, Kyle liked it, but I can’t honestly tell you what I thought of it: I enjoyed a $13.50 nap! I woke up long enough to see a mean peacock die… I listen to the Sunday news shows on I-pod and that offers advantages and disadvantages. The disadvantage is that I hear them a day or two late but an advantage is that I can run the interview back if I’m not completely certain what was said (and a lot of what is said is unbelievable these days!) Another advantage is that by the time I listen breaking news from the shows has been placed in media context. I was belatedly listening to the Meet the Press where Gingrich called Ryan’s plan ‘right wing social engineering’ and ‘radical change’. Not one person in the final segment’s pundit panel, including David Gregory, acknowledged the importance of his statements or predicted the damage done to Newt’s campaign. Not one mentioned it! They cited other parts of his interview (his third wife, his Tiffany account) but they were oblivious to the statements that would dominate the news cycle for the next days … Katie Couric is not worth this much fuss. She is okay but she is NOT Oprah 2.0 Now that she is back in daytime will she be ‘perky’ again after spending years trying to ditch that label on the Evening News?…I shake my head in disbelief every time I see Ellen Degeneris’ face on a CoverGirl commercial. Is there any celebrity LESS like a covergirl?!? Is that the point?…Rosanne Barr (the next Covergirl spokesmodel?!?) had a frank and powerful piece in New York Magazine about what its like to be packaged as a TV celebrity. Its worth reading. Here’s a link: http://nymag.com/arts/tv/upfronts/2011/roseanne-barr-2011-5/
I saw two plays on my trip. JERUSALEM contains a memorable performance by Mark Rylance, one of my favorite actors. THE MOTHERFUCKER IN THE HAT was a searing, funny, dangerous, unforgettable night in the theater. These plays reflect similar themes and I want to write more about them so I’ll save comments until then but if you can score a ticket for MOTHERFUCKER, go see it! And Chris Rock’s presence in the cast is the LEAST important reason…In 2002, I predicted Kerry/Edwards as the ticket for ’04. No such luck this time around. Although I kept it to myself I had a feeling the Repub ticket would be Daniels/Rubio. Some days you turn over that magic 8 ball and what floats up is ‘TRY AGAIN!…CLICK HERE ….My brother, Jeff flew in from Japan and we had a great time together. Drove down to Key West, visited Hemingway’s house, Mel Fischer’s treasure museum, the most southern point in the continental US, watched the sunset in Mallory Square and had an incredible dinner at Café Sole, a fabulous French restaurant with fresh seafood. Miss ya, Jeff!…I haven’t had a blood pressure reading in years and was visiting my uncle the other day. After the nurse took his BP I asked if she would take mine. It was a moderately high shock to find it moderately high at 150/90. Could it be thefour cups of coffee I have each morning?!?! Or should this be the final straw that makes me give up smoking? Guess I must see a doctor….Anthony Weiner, well, what can you say? An outstanding audition for HANGOVER 3? We adore grown men acting like horny kids in our movies and we love clucking our tongues when they do so in real life… I sat in on Curtis Sliwa‘s show for an hour the morning I left town. As always it was fun. Curtis is quite thin after prostate surgery but looks good and his energy hasn’t diminished a whit… Another gorgeous day on the beach but why are the days in Florida so short?

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NYC DIARY

Just got back from 10 days in NYC where one day had weather like Florida…I filled in three nights for Mark Thompson on Sirius Left. As always the Sirius callers were the best informed, most articulate of any callers I’ve ever worked with in any medium—talk about military procurement and an ex-Navy man calls with expert info on the F-35 or the Ford super carriers, talk about the Wisconsin debacle and a Wisconsin teacher calls in, talk about Teabaggers and they dial in to complain about taxes stolen at the barrel of a gun. Its always a joy to work there…I took Kyle to the Pompeii exhibit at the Discovery Museum on 44th street, a spectacular show, movingly, dramatically presented. Kyle was excited by the remarkably preserved gladiator’s helmet and shin guards and (eye roll) the recreation of a Roman brothel room. When he read the plaque that rooms like this were a hotbed of sexual diseases he was too scared to go inside. “Am I going to get AIDS if I go in there?” he asked. Midway through the exhibit there is a breathtaking moment when a SURROUNDSOUND CGI film of the city rattles the walls while recreating the hourly progression of destruction over the course of the day. As you stand shaken, with billowing black smoke roaring to engulf you, smothering all in its way, doors slide open and you enter the room with the plaster casts of actual Romans contorted and frozen in time, clutching their loved ones, their heads, their mouths in the final moments of life. The complete frescoes, the gold jewelry work, the pottery and sculpture—it’s all well worth the $25 entrance fee…I really enjoyed two Broadway plays: WAR HORSE at Lincoln Center and THE BOOK OF MORMON created by the team from South Park. Both plays received standing ovations. The ovation for WAR HORSE was perfunctory and dutiful. The one for BOOK OF MORMON was enthusiastic and irrisistable…. WARHORSE, about the cavalry horses of World War I has life size horse puppets that are so intricate they make THE LION KING figurines look like sock puppets. It’s a production that is awe inspiring in its theatricality and imagination. Unfortunately, the production is a bit precious and displays an awareness of its own magnificence. This self-conscious grandiosity saps intimacy from the central story and as impressed as I was by the stagecraft, it was the simple straightforward performance of one little girl, an orphan of war, that was most moving. That, and the PLAYBILL notes informing that out of 1 million horses shipped from Britain to the battlefields of France only 68,000 returned…. THE BOOK OF MORMON, on the other hand is as raunchy, as offensive and as hilarious as you would expect considering its source. It’s the story of two Mormon missionaries assigned to Uganda where life is so hopeless and miserable the natives curse G-d for their existence. One number is so outrageously sacrilegious (and funny!) that I expected a New Testament thunderbolt might strike the theater. I’m a guy who, out of habit, still hyphenates the word G-d, the way I was taught in Hebrew School (don’t use His name in vain), but when the woman next to me sneezed during intermission it felt inappropriate to say ‘G-d bless you” amidst such blasphemy! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a play where the audience so enthusiastically and uproariously supported the show from beginning to end, engaging with every comic twist and nuance (yeah, there are a few!). This is powerful, relentlessly funny stuff. The theater was sold out FOR THE PREVIEW and Joan Rivers, Penn and Teller and Mike Meyers were sitting all around me. Try to get a ticket now before it opens, if you can. (I waited for cancellations at the theater a half hour before curtain and got a fifth row orchestra seat on the aisle.)…Just as sacrilegious, just as outrageous, but far less entertaining and more than slightly pathetic was the ugly mess known as St. Patrick’s day; drunken rowdy teenagers, burly tattooed girls bulging from skin tight t-shirts and shorts, red-faced gray-haired men in uniforms stumbling across the sidewalks. Worst of all there was no cross town transportation. Getting from the East Side to the West involved a hike uptown to 86th street. They wouldn’t even allow MTA busses cross the park on 68th, 72nd or 79th Is that necessary?!?!…Had lunch with Dr. Judy (Kuriansky) from the Richard Bey Show at the Friar’s Club. It was great to see her again and she hasn’t aged a day!…Frank Morano and Curtis Sliwa invited me to join them on air at 970THE APPLE for two hours on Saturday . We called my brother Jeff in Japan for an update and he stole the show!…One night Kyle and I walked by Milos Estiatorio on 55th and he began pointing and shouting: ‘Hey, that’s the girl from ‘Full House!’ I looked over to see a mass of hair puffing nervously on a cigarette attached to two skinny ostrich legs extending from a big ball of fur. Thinking he meant it was one of the older girls from the show I said ‘No, Kyle that’s not her’ and apologized to the girl for the scene. She turned fully towards us and said ‘Oh, that’s okay. It’s not a problem’ and, of course it WAS Mary Kate (or Ashley Olson)!… In other places you do one or two things a day and feel content that you’ve accomplished something. In NYC you do fifteen things a day and kick yourself because you didn’t get more done…Had fondue, great Indian food and for the first time tried a (not so) GOODBURGER. Nothing beats Shake Shack… Saw the movie LIMITLESS with Kyle. I always repeat to him: “Cursing is a limited mind trying to express itself.” So when he asked why Bradley Cooper continued cursing even when his brain capacity was ‘limitless’, what could I say?…Also took him to MARS NEEDS MOMS in IMAX 3D, although it contained satires of ‘60’s and 80’s mindsets and a Martian topography, that needed a lot less explaining. Despite its hydrogen bomb at the B.O. and the steep IMAX 3D ($16.50 for a child!) ticket prices, I enjoyed it!… One evening I ate with an old actor friend at an outdoor restaurant (on that 75 degree day) and as often happens in NYC we began talking with the couple at the next table. He was a law professor, an expert on the post war prosecution of Nazis and an assistant Watergate prosecutor. She was a legal specialist on consumer protection. Serendipity leads to the most interesting people and the most engaging conservations when you eat out in NYC. If you can afford to eat out!…And, yes, all of that and more in just 10 days. The days are actually longer in NYC!

NEW YORK DIARY

It was relentlessly cold for most of my ten days in NYC. By the end of the trip I was looking forward to a swim in Florida!….I walked out of four different STARBUCKS in one afternoon without buying coffee when not one seat was available. Most were filled by patrons using the store as an office with computers and cold, long- empty cups. How can this be a good business model? STARBUCKS is supposed to feel like your living room, not BE your living room….I saw “Lost in the Stars” at ENCORES when I was in NYC. It was a beautiful production and if you missed it because of the NYT’s sour review you missed something you may not see again in your lifetime. Although its only been produced twice in sixty years it has a beautiful score by Kurt Weil and a moving libretto by Maxwell Anderson based upon ‘Cry The Beloved Country’. I was crying by the big intermission finale…I was struck by the number and variety of fast food cafes that have replaced pricey waiter serviced restaurants around town. There were so many new Japanese, Middle Eastern, Mexican fast food places all steps up from Taco Bell or Udon. One place even promoted its carbon-footprint as a selling point informing diners of the carbon expenditure on each selection!…The Soup Nazi is back! (Okay, he calls himself the soupMAN)….The scandal of the week in NYC was Mayor Bloomberg‘s comments about ‘drunken Irishmen’. Being half Irish that didn’t offend me. Being Jewish, what offended me was when he said all Jews think what he thinks!…While I was in NYC the SEC finally did something about my investment fund, filing four new charges against officers and suggesting that the court appoint a monitor for the fund. I first met with the SEC with my information last March 2009, with a subsequent meeting in September and continuous correspondence. (The mills of the gods grind slowly, but they grind exceeding fine). The GP of the fund tried an end run against the SEC by appointing his OWN independent monitor. The SEC vigorously fired back actually quoting my allegations in the court memorandum. The GP returned fire , defaming me in court documents. There was an email from him stating that I ‘was a very Limited Partner’ and ‘should get my head out of my ass’. I was preparing to travel down to Pearl Street at 2PM for the court date. At noon I received an email the date was off. The GP of the fund had caved to all SEC demands and a monitor was installed for the fund. Even a little guy with his head up his ass can get something done…Ate at ATLANTIC GRILLE and CIRCO (the owner’s father owns LE CIRQUE) Restaurant Week and had a great burger at THE BURGER JOINT in the Parker Meridian Hotel. The Joint is a little dive of a place behind a velvet curtain in the lobby. Also tried out the burgers at much praised 5 GUYS on W55th street which left me Meh. SHAKE SHACK remains my favorite burger in NYC. The shakes must have a zillion calories but taste incredible too…I took Kyle to see Miranda Cosgrove (Nickleodeon’s ICARLY) at the Beacon Theater. A group was going backstage to meet her and Kyle was upset he couldn’t do the same (“Tell them you were on TV! Let’s sneak in!”). A woman approached us in our seats, told me that she and her husband were big fans and asked to take a picture. Kyle was whining about backstage while we took the shot. She asked if Kyle was my son and when I said yes she handed us 2 extra backstage passes! Kyle was so nervous when we met Miranda Cosgrove he couldn’t bring himself to look at her face! Once outside he exclaimed: ‘She’s so hot!’ Now he wants to be an actor!…On my last day in the city I was a guest for an hour and a half on Curtis Sliwa’s show on 970AM THE APPLE. Curtis was going strong despite a weekday morning show, a weekday afternoon show and now a Saturday morning show. He looks great and fit, with perhaps a bit less hair than I remember. I’ve done long radio schedules but just thinking about his schedule makes me tired. Had lunch with Frank Morano who keeps pace with Sliwa. If you could harness their energy there would be no crisis!….And the days WERE longer in NYC

And Frank and Curtis’ days are even longer than that!