Tag Archives: celebrity sighting

Lame Adventure 427: Can we complain?

About two months ago I saw the Broadway play Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill with my friend, Milton. He stood in line at the crack of dawn to snag a pair of terrific $40 rush ticket seats that were very close to the stage. These seats were so incredible that when Audra MacDonald, who transformed herself into Billie Holiday, took her bow at the end of the show, Milton threw caution to the wind and committed a cardinal sin of theater going: he snapped a shot with his iPhone. You’re not supposed to sneak pictures inside a theater, but more and more people are doing that these days with the proliferation of smart phones.

When everyone was applauding, Milton snapped this shot.

When everyone was applauding, Milton snapped this shot.

As we were waiting for Lady Day to start, I noticed that Joan Rivers was sitting across from us toward the back of the theater. Normally, Milton is the one with the celebrity spotting radar. He was very impressed that I noticed Joan. I was stunned because I hardly ever notice anyone. My natural inclination is to observe urban wildlife, bags stuck in trees, gum blots on the sidewalk or clouds. But sometimes, even when I attempt to photograph those sights, I get it wrong.

"Hey, this isn't the clouds above!"

Unintended selfie.

Fluffy clouds I was intending to take.

Fluffy clouds I was intending to take first.

As the crowd was exiting the theater at the end of Lady Day, a guy shouted:

Guy: Joan Rivers!

That alert prompted everyone to recognize her. She was besieged like metal to magnet. Milton was surprised that I didn’t join the masses that were photographing her, but I was on a Billie Holiday high. Later, I regretted not taking a picture. How often do I get to see a living comedy legend?

This past weekend, I volunteer ushered a very entertaining play at Second Stage Theater written by Laura Eason and directed by David Schwimmer called Sex with Strangers. When the house manager emailed the volunteers about accepting requests to usher this production, I leaped headfirst through my computer screen to get a slot, somewhat inspired by the thought provoking title.

There are four ushering slots per performance, three in the front of the house and one in the back, where I was assigned. The back can be a no man’s land if the box balcony is not busy, and there were only four people sitting in that section. They were offered a free upgrade to better seats, but three were content to stay in their assigned seats. I thought that was odd because they didn’t look brain damaged. Two explained to me that they like sitting in a section that was essentially all to themselves because they wanted to spread out. Extra legroom took priority over a better view.

As I was watching audience members file into the theater, my usually defective celebrity spotting radar activated for the only celebrity I can recognize: Joan Rivers. Yes, Joan and I were in the same theater at the same time once again. The play’s 3 pm Sunday curtain was delayed due to technical difficulties, something that can happen on occasion in live theater. Audience members were offered free wine at the concession stand. This induced a slight stampede.

Before heading to the concession stand, Joan glad-handed the ushers working in the front of the house, oblivious to the one working in the back. She went to the concession stand where she graciously mingled and took selfies with audience members. I snuck a few crummy shots of her from my post with my iPhone.

The best of my crummy Joan shots.

The best of my crummy Joan shots.

After the play ended and the audience had left, I was working clean up towards the front of the house when Joan returned with her entourage via the back of the house. She was meeting the cast, Anna Gunn and Billy Magnussen, back stage. And, once again, I got to miss meeting Joan.

Having the thrill of seeing this living comedy legend twice in two months, I have concluded that she is a celebrity who sincerely welcomes meeting with the public. I think that’s very stand up of her. If I have a third opportunity to be in the right place at the right time to see her again, and I probably have a better shot at winning the Triple Crown riding a saw horse, I’ll refrain from blurting, “Joan Rivers!” But, if she were on board, I would love to take a selfie with her.

Lame Adventure 393: Cheap Special Thrills

It is no secret that I have been riding on the fast track to get rich slow my entire life. Recently, when I had the opportunity to purchase one of the two last row coffin corner partial view $20 tickets to the hit musical, Fun Home, currently staged at the Public Theater, I pounced. I reasoned:

Me (reasoning): Better to see some of this show than none.

Below, is an image of my irresistible view.

This equipment console sure makes a better door than window.

This equipment console makes a much better door than window.

I could see about a third of the stage. The woman sitting next to me, who paid the $45 membership rate price, had a full view, but was not happy. She also felt sympathy for me. An Alpha New Yorker, she complained to someone. I figured that when the show would start, I would stand for the 105-minute duration. But the woman’s complaining reaped results. Shortly before the play began, an usher informed everyone in the back row that we could have better seats. I was moved to the center of the seventh row as if I paid full price for my ticket. I thought:

Me (thinking): Sweet! This is a great day!

Then my iPhone vibrated in my pocket and I was gob smacked back to reality. I had an alert from the New York Times announcing that Lou Reed had died. Even though he was 71 and had liver disease, I felt sucker punched. Lou was one of the reasons why I moved to New York City in 1982. He was one of my heroes when I was growing up in San Francisco. He was cool, he was smart, he was talented, he had attitude and he was a Brooklyn born New Yorker. He was the real deal.

My sitting in the cheap seats has a connection to him. When I was a high school senior attending Our Lady of Perpetual Misery School or, Our Lady of PMS, Lou was on tour promoting his latest album, Rock & Roll Heart. He was playing in the East Bay at the Berkeley Community Theatre on November 30, 1976. I told my best friend and  fellow Lou-fan, a girl named Faith, that we had to see him. We agreed that we would sit in the $4.50 seats. We deemed the $6.50 seat price too steep. We were sitting so far away at this sold out show it was as if we were watching Lou sing from another galaxy. I brought my super 8 mm Minolta movie camera with me. Somewhere in my father’s house today is a reel of silent, anything but super, super 8 mm film of a gnat-sized Lou Reed performing.

The Minolta super 8 mm movie camera that filmed Lou Reed in concert.

The Minolta super 8 mm movie camera that filmed Lou Reed in concert.

Fast-forward 35 years to October 15, 2011. Milton and I are attending a screening at the New York Film Festival of a documentary film called Pina directed by Wim Wenders. As I approach Milton at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, he is giddy with excitement. Milton recognized Lou standing outside the theater. Quick thinking Milton, whipped out his iPhone and immediately took a photograph.

That's Lou Reed's foot and Milton's finger.

That’s Lou Reed’s foot and Milton’s finger.

Then, he took more images finger obscuring-free.

Lou in long shot just standing on Broadway talking to a friend.

Lou in long shot just standing on Broadway outside Alice Tully Hall talking to a friend.

Lou closer.

Lou maybe confiding, “Don’t look, but there’s a guy with an iPhone breathing down my neck.”

I was very happy that Milton took the pictures, and we were both amazed when it turned out that Lou was sitting in our row just a few seats away from us. Lou probably felt like he was being stalked. Lou made a quick escape before the Q&A ended, but when we were leaving, we saw him again in the theater lobby talking to Wim Wenders. Milton took more pictures and Lou, to his credit, did not file a restraining order.

"Wim, I cannot escape that guy with an iPhone. Help me, please!"

“Wim, I cannot escape that guy with the iPhone. I’m begging you, help me, please!”

One of the many great things about living in New York City is that you never know when you might run into a legend on the street. Unfortunately, there is now one less legend around town to glimpse by chance. Embedded below is the title song from Rock & Roll Heart that I heard Lou sing live back in the day.

Lame Adventure 342: Pia Lindstrom and Beer Trucks

On the second to last day of summer, Milton and I attended our last theater production before the advent of fall.  We took advantage of the 20 at 20 discount, a discount that allows theatergoers to get tickets to select off-Broadway shows for $20 twenty minutes before curtain.  The show we chose to see was Forbidden Broadway: Alive and Kicking!, a satirical send-up of Broadway musicals.

A hilarious spoof on Broadway musicals from Wicked to Once to The Book of Morman and many other shows in-between.

Milton arrived at the theater ahead of me so he went to the box office and added his name to the list of people that were hoping to score seats at about 75% off the regular $79 ticket price.  As we were waiting, he recognized a gay male porn star and Pia Lindstrom, daughter of Hollywood legend Ingrid Bergman.  The porn star was not attending the show, and Pia was not trying to score a deeply discounted ducat.  In fact, when I checked her out on Wikipedia, I learned that we were all seeing this revue on her 74th birthday.

When Milton said to me sotto voce, “Pia Lindstrom,” I had my usual reaction:

Me:  Huh? Who? What? Where?

Then, we scored our cheap tickets, seats in the middle of the last row of the mezzanine (a fancy name for the balcony).

View from the rafters – nephew of Max Headroom did sink in his seat once the show got underway.

Milton went to the restroom.  When he returned he reported:

Milton:  Pia’s sitting in the fifth row of the orchestra.

Me:  Thank you Pia stalker.

While we were watching from the rafters and Pia Lindstrom from the premium orchestra, everyone laughed uproariously, Milton got wheezy, and then the show ended and everyone left.  Barely five steps outside the theater Milton mutters in a confidential tone:

Milton:  Plaid shirt — that guy from Saturday Night Live.

My head becomes a periscope, I don’t know where I’m looking, I don’t see any guy in a plaid shirt, much less anyone from Saturday Night Live.  I bleat:

Me:  Who?  Andy Samberg?

Milton:  No.  You missed him.  He’s gone.  You know, the fat one.

Me:  Horatio Sanz?

I realize that Horatio’s been off the show for close to a decade.

Milton:  He plays women.

Me:  Bobby Moynihan?  He plays Snooki.

Milton:  I think that’s who it was.

Whenever I am out with Milton, rarely is there ever a time when he does not spot some celebrity on the street that I often miss even after he points them out.  Milton has an excellent eye for noticing famous people.  I don’t.  At all.  I’m almost celebrity sighting blind.

These are the types of sights that catch my eye:

Fallout shelter sign — who knew that these are still around, much less still around the Upper West Side?

1965 Ford Mustang parked on East 66th Street.

Purple stuffed ape in garbage can with wild thing sign.

Wimpy cloud.

Beer truck.

Me if I were a balloon in this past sweltering summer.

Mixed message, “Do I stay or do I go?”