Took A Bite of the Big Apple

Well, it was fun, but we’ve come to the end in NYC and classes start tomorrow morning.

Here’s just a small jotted list of what I’ve done with my August in NYC…

(in no particular order…)

Subway

Bus

Broadway

Off-Broadway

Central Park

Carl Schurz park

National Night Out

Yankees game v. Red Sox

Crashed a public wake on Madison Ave.

Attended my first Jewish Funeral

Saw a live taping of Late Night w Jimmy Fallon

A 3-hour Boat Tour

Rode in, navigated & refilled in rush hour traffic, a rented a Budget truck

Brooklyn Bridge

Battery Tunnel 

Food Emporium runs

Community laundry

Mani pedi for $22

Johns Pizza

Yoga for 12 days straight @ YogaWorks

Diner breakfasts

Figure4 @ Pure Yoga

9/11 Memorial

MoMA

Will & Grace’s Apartment

Westside lululemon Grand Opening

London Olympics 2012

& last but not least got stuck in a torrential downpour while walking 50 blocks!

Call me crazy, but I’d do it all over again, too!  

Have I mentioned I love my job?

Thanks for taggin’ along on this Adventure, I could go into much detail on all of these fun pieces of the Adventure, but now I have a train to catch…

LES Goes to Late Night with Jimmy Fallon!

I thought that August 14th could not be topped.  I was wrong!

Thank goodness for my new best friend, Joshua J. Bennett, and his uncanny ability to do the splits!

As we checked in for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, they were looking for “dancers”.  Needless to say Josh was recruited.

It sort of went like this at “try outs”:  “Show us what you can do”  and BAM!  Josh did the splits right there in the black granite hallway of NBC Studios.  He was in!

Nevermind that Ricky Martin was on the show, that may have helped in his excitement and energy, but he was fabulous, Jimmy was great, his warm up comedian was fun, it was just a great fun day and night.

We went out to dinner afterwards, after walking 4+ blocks in the wrong direction, and it was some yummy Thai food!

A fun day in the Big City!

Here is the link to the hulu blip of Josh in “The Caution Crue“!

And here are some fun pics….

Celebrating Marvin…Act 2

So…today… cannot be topped.  Period.  It was by far my best day in the City so far!

ACT II

Remember how I said the Queen loves all things “fine arts”?  Well, I failed to mention how big a fan she is of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington.  What does this have to do with Marvin, you might ask?  Well, follow me here.

Mom’s favorite member of the Chorus, Joshua Bennett, recently moved from DC to NYC.  Being that it is 2012 and we’re all really close (i.e. Facebook) friends, Josh and I connected and I suggested he (a musical theater guy himself) should join me in attending Marvin’s funeral service with me.  Note well that he’s never laid eyes on me before, just the Queen after numerous shows of his over the past few years.  I think I won him when I said “it’ll be better than Broadway – come on!”

I digress, I talked him into meeting me at the Temple, no matter how he’d get there or what he’d wear, it’d be fine, “just meet me at 10:30!”  So, I jumped on the bus down from 86th to 65th and walked right over to the 5th Avenue entrance as if I belonged in there.

Sure to his word, and following my specific texted instructions: “Walk in, go all the way left. I’m 5 rows in & turning phone off,” and he did!  OK – now I felt like I belonged.  Josh belonged.  Queenie’s “kids” were all together and as she texted: “Marvin would have appreciated Josh’s talent for sure!”  So there we were.

We were among greatness, but didn’t even know it because New York’s rich and famous had already arrived and were already seated.  There was no processional, we just had to fill the house – and we did.  It was a Marvin show after all, never an empty seat.

First up was former President of the United States, William Jefferson Clinton.  Being a New Yorker, he was not introduced as a “former,” however.  And he spoke like nothing but the Bill Clinton we know and love.  He called Marvin a “great, giving genius,” and went on to say that this is truly a rare find these days.  Well said, Mr. President.

Then, a lot of other famous people spoke, so famous I didn’t even know them or recognize them, but just Google Marvin Hamlisch funeral, or watch the news tonight and you’ll see who I mean.

Terre, Marvin’s wife of almost 26 years, said very profound and poignant things both to Marvin and about Marvin.  After seeing her greet so many last night, I’m very impressed with how well she spoke today.

A gentleman read a letter of condolence from Nancy Reagan and Michelle & Barack Obama.

Idina Menzel (RENT and Wizard star) sang Marvin’s “At The Ballet” – beautifully, of course.

Joe Torre served as a pallbearer, escorting “the final out” for Marvin.  Fitting.

It rained (some would say God cried) during the service, but was just a gentle sprinkle by the time Josh & I exited and proceeded to take it all in (and by that I mean I looked at a few NYPD uniformed officers & Josh watched Liza depart).

From the Temple we walked downtown, past Central Park Zoo & 5th Avenue shops and enjoyed a fun lunch clinking our glasses and celebrating Marvin’s life at Arriba, Arriba! in Hell’s Kitchen.  Here’s to new fun friends, funerals and all…

On the way home, I stopped at FAO Schwarz to see “The Big Piano” in honor of Marvin.  He’s tickling the keys on Heaven’s Big Piano right about now, I’m sure!

The Big Piano!

“Nobody does it better” 

…you’re right, Marvin.  Nobody.

LES & Josh

Celebrating Marvin…Act 1

The last two days have been amazing days to be in New York City.

ACT I

A little backstory:  My mother (Queenie) is a big fan of the arts.  Theater, the Symphony, and most of all, Broadway.  She’s such a fan of Marvin Hamlisch that she has only referred to him by his first name for years and chatted with “the Maestro” once in Georgetown.  “Hey, I’m off to see Marvin at Wolf Trap, wanna come?”  That most recently occurred on July 13th – just a month ago yesterday.  Turns out, that was the last time she would ever see Marvin Hamlisch perform.  And, regrettably, I declined her invitation.

Marvin passed away on August 6, 2012 in LA, but was brought back to NYC to the place of his birth, training and performing for so many years, to be remembered and honored. And that he was.

As was stated in his eulogy today, he was often referred to as “the people’s composer.”   (But, I’m getting ahead of myself.)

So much a man of the people, in fact, that upon his passing, family and friends saw to it that everything celebrating his life was open to the public.  So, seeing that the visitation was seven blocks from “my house” in NYC, I had to go.  It’s what the Queen wanted, so it’s what I did.

Now picture it, OK, it’s Monday night, August 13th and I find myself walking up to a funeral home on Madison Avenue.  Of course, I have no real-life connection to this man and I was ten minutes early, BUT… I saw a nice man walking in with a backpack on that was all black and read “A Chorus Line” across the middle.  “Ah!  He must be going to the same place I am, so I’ll follow him,” I thought.  So I did.  The doormen weren’t letting us in as of yet because family hadn’t arrived, so I chatted it up with this nice man, like only my mother has taught me to do.  I said, “So, umm, (like duh, I’m thinking to myself) were you in “A Chorus Line?”  “Oh, yes, ma’am, I was.  Marvin gave me my first job out of college.  He kept me from being a starving artist!”  WOW!  Cool! OK This guy has reason to be here (and is also on a first name basis) and I still, clearly, do not.  So I tried to top that with “Oh, yeah, well, I can say Al Gore gave me my first job out of college, but…you can have your victory!”  I said it lovingly and very ha ha ha and he laughed.  Then he tried to make it all better by saying, “Honey, neither is one to turn your nose up at on our resumes, huh?!”

I went on to tell him that I was here because my summer job is close by and my mom wanted me to be here in her stead and yadda yadda.  He was very nice.

Then – it was time to go in.  I hate funerals.  OK, yeah, the flowers are pretty, but the tears were plenty.  There were 8, count ‘em, 4 guest books on each side as you enter.  I paraded in right behind Chris Matthews and signed my mother’s name (I was her surrogate) right underneath “Chris & Kathleen Matthews, Chevy Chase, MD”.  So, that was cool, then I just helped myself to a pew and sat right next to Chris and just watched and took it all in.

Can’t quite paint a picture of what it was like for you, but let’s put it to you straight:  Liza Minnelli was directly in front of me by a mere 2 pews.  Roberta Flack walked in.  Jessye Norman came in very sad and extravagantly. Idina Menzel was there looking as beautiful as ever.  Paul Shaffer was there in his signature pinstripes and cute round classes.  Last but not least, the great Joe Torre “of the Yankees” (as Terre introduced him to Idina) was there with pictures for Terre.  A kind, talented man agreed to play tunes that Marvin had written and composed on the grand piano in the corner the entire time that the visitors came thru.  As it turned out, it was the guest pianist at that last concert my mother saw that hot July 13th evening at Wolf Trap just a few weeks ago. That was an all Gershwin concert and this man, David Cole, is a  Gershwin family favorite. He was phenomenal. Mom got to see Marvin and David playing Gershwin simultaneously, but last night, David was the lone pianist, playing Hamlisch.

As I was leaving, I said farewell to my new friend from “A Chorus Line.”  I overheard him telling someone he started in 1977.  I told him, “good year, my man, that’s the year I was born.”  His response:  “You’ve done your momma proud by being here, Honey, see you tomorrow!”

… (to be continued) …

INTERMISSION

Saturday in the Big City!

Yesterday was Saturday in the Big City and I made the most of it.

Follow me here:

I started on E. 88th.

I boarded a “crosstown” bus on E. 86th.

I disembarked said bus after traversing Central Park on W. 86th & Broadway.

I walked down to 75th & Broadway and attended a very fun event as a VIP at the newest lululemon location.

See, a friend who I went to high school with (whose brother went to grade school with my brother) works at Pure Yoga and is one of lulu’s newest “Ambassadors”.  After she kicked my butt at Figure 4 on Wednesday, (which she created!) I earned “the golden ticket!”  I got a full fitting and a whole new outfit (2 for 1) at lulu.

From lulu I walked down Broadway, merged right onto Columbus, walking right in front of Lincoln Center, and walked down through Hell’s Kitchen to W. 50th.

I had a ticket to the Saturday matinee show of RENT at the New World Stages Theater.  Very cool place that shows at least three shows simultaneously in the same space!  Very cool!  If I remember it correctly, this was my third, tho maybe fourth, time seeing RENT and it was just as great this time around as ever.  My poor neighbors had to suffer me singing every word, but it was fun, and I don’t care – I’ll never see those poor people again!

After the show, I walked across 50th, past Mamma Mia & through Times Square, to “The Avenue of the Americas” & Radio City Music Hall where I boarded the subway home.   Whew, I’m tired again, just retelling all of this!

Maza was happy to see me and ready to tear up the town himself, so we went to Carl Schurz Park again and this is how he ended the day….

…dog tired!

I may just be getting the hang of this place!

Just another “ruff” day at the Park…

Central Park, that is!

Yesterday, with my Yoga class not being til 7:30 p.m. – Maza and I took a lazy afternoon stroll over to Central Park & 85th Street.  I relaxed and wrote some postcards but he had a blast!  The captions say it all.

Classic, well said.

Our view across the Jackie Onassis Reservoir

Ahhh, so relaxed after the long walk over here….

“What? You’re bothering me….”

“Look, see, I almost missed that dog over there….”

“Ha Ha, serves you right, stole your blanket!”

“Now THIS is why I came here, thank you!”


Probably pretty fair to say he misses his family, but we’re making do!

What are you doing with your summer?

National Night Out – NYC Style!

Well, while it’s hard not to be in Alexandria on a night like the first Tuesday in August for National Night Out, it is a nation-wide event after all, hence the name, so I found the party on the Upper East Side of Manhattan last night!

Straight out E. 88th Street (my home away from home) you dead end at Carl Schurz Park.  The park is the eleven acres of property that Gracie Mansion sits on at the East River.  Gracie Mansion is where the sitting Mayor of New York City “lives”.  No Mayor has resided there since Rudy Giuliani moved out in 2002, tho.  Bloomberg is a “man of the people,” you know!

Anyway, the Carl Schurz Park was hoppin’ last night.  I forgot it was a night when all the police come out.
WOW – NYPD Officers in uniform….. Hello!!!!

Maza and I went down to partake in the fun.  I snapped a few pics, while Maza sniffed around and peed on just about every nook and cranny.  I’m afraid to walk by a person just standing there because I am afraid he’ll lift a leg!

A member of the CERT team here gave me an “emergency prepare yourself” card for my wallet and the Shake Shack staff were passing out free samples of their famous “concrete” (milkshake).  Yum!  It was no Dairy Godmother, but was nice on a hot summer night in the Big City!