April 30, 2017

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!