Tag Archives: joan rivers

Lame Adventure 321: Sunday in the Park with Lola

It’s been a brutally hot summer in the city thus far this year.  Since I live in digs that are not wired for air conditioning, my queen-sized pillow-topped mattress that usually feels like the comfiest of clouds feels more like a grill pan over high heat these days. Yet who am I to complain about not having had a restful night’s sleep since May?  At least I reside walking distance from the oasis that is Central Park.

On Sunday, when the heat and humidity were a millimeter below sweltering, I visited the park with my friend, Lola.  We entered, took a wrong turn, almost crossed a triathlon’s finish line, reversed course, grabbed lemonade for her and iced tea for me at the Le Pain Quotidian near Sheep’s Meadow, exchanged yak about how that LPQ must be a goldmine, and then made a beeline for a shady tree where we promptly suffered that familiar middle age malady, CRS (Can’t Remember Shit).

Sheep’s Meadow sun bathers dotting Great Lawn.

Both of us blanked on the name of the famous landscape architect who designed the park.  Lola tried in vain to find the answer that was on the tips of our frozen brains on her iPhone but the Gods of wifi were against us.  Later, while I was batting away a bug the size of a hornet, Frederick Law Olmstead’s name popped out from one of the holes in my head.  Actually, Olmstead co-designed the park with Calvert Vaux, whose name I did not know until now, but I’m confident that I’ll be brain freezing on him as soon as I finish writing this sentence.

Sheep’s Meadow has often been a sea of sun worshippers.  The sheep were relocated in 1934 because (according to Wikipedia):

“There was fear for the sheep’s safety by hungry folk during the great depression. Officials were concerned that starving men would turn the sheep into lunch.”

On this hot and humid afternoon the meadow was not only sheep-less but also relatively empty.  It seemed that the shade had more appeal than the pursuit of skin cancer.

Sheep’s Meadow shade worshippers clustered under trees.

While we were sheltered under our tree we discussed the recent death of writer-director-humorist, Nora Ephron.

Me:  All that’s left is Joan Rivers and Tina Fey.

Lola: What about Kristin Wiig?

Me: Yes, I do believe I’ve just insulted her and Amy Poehler and Sarah Silverman among others.

Lola: One of my favorite books is Joan’s I Hate Everyone … Starting With Me.  The title reminds me of you.

Me:  I love that title.  I love Joan.  I feel honored that you think that.

While we were heading over to watch the players playing in the bocce ball courts, we encountered signs that free comedy was happening very near.

“Let’s find the bocce courts so we can find the comedy!”

Bocce ball is a very slow game prompting me to suggest:

Me:  This is almost as riveting as curling.

Bocce: a game that doubles as a sleep aid.

We then headed over to catch some free comedy.

Shade loving comedy audience.

The searing heat occupied the best seats, but we did stick around long enough to hear Ophira Eisenberg, a comedian that I had read about in The New York Times in April.  Getting to hear her perform her witty brand of topical standup in Central Park was very entertaining.  I particularly enjoyed her take about people getting her name wrong and guests visiting her in her fifth floor walk-up in Brooklyn gasping when they reach her door, “Do you do this every day?”  Performers like Ophira give me hope that the ranks of funny women are growing.

I left the park with Lola feeling good.  When we reached 72nd and Broadway my friend traveled south and I north.  Just as I was considering that I’m being a wimp about the heat — summer in New York can be truly wonderful, I crash landed back to reality.

Going commando.

Hopefully, it will cool down soon for all of us out here.

Lame Adventure 172: The Burden of Bearing Bad News

Shortly after I arrived at work on Wednesday, Greg, my sidekick, told me that he just heard on the radio that Elizabeth Taylor had died.  I waited about an hour before casually mentioning it to Ling and our boss, Elsbeth.  Neither of them knew and both felt a twinge of sadness for the passing of this Hollywood legend.

12-year-old Liz with the original Lassie in 1944.

The only others I would be inclined to tell would be Milton and Coco.

In the case of Coco, one of her minions is a chap that’s so gay, he is practically the rainbow flag on feet.  I deduced that he was a likely source of spreading this news her way.  If not, she doesn’t live under a rock so she could have easily figured it out for herself a million other ways from taking a glance at CNN on her iPhone or overhearing someone talking about it at work since her desk is right next to the bathroom.  It seemed highly likely that when someone was not asphyxiating her with a heavy finger on the Oust, she could just have easily overheard someone talking about this event.  Therefore, instinct told me that Coco knowing was not a problem.

Yet Milton … That had potential problem written all over it.

Whenever there is the “bring out your dead” segment at an awards show, Milton often remarks how he was unaware that someone had died, and I will say:

Me:  You didn’t know that [insert name of dead person] died?

Milton:  No, I didn’t.  You did?

Me:  Yeah.

Milton:  Where was I?  How did I miss that?

It’s simple.  I read the obits.  Milton doesn’t.

Unlike my grandmother who was the type that would shout from the rooftop the second she heard that anyone had kicked, I always found her exuberance as Allan Greenspan would say, irrational. I am glad that a guy as subdued as Greg told me about ET this morning.  He knows when news is big whereas my grandmother would have made a career out of being the blatherer of bad news 24/7 if she could. She lived to talk about who died daily; even if it was someone she had never heard of in her life such as Terry Kath, a member of the band Chicago.  Since she knew I was a huge music fan she thought she had reeled in a fat fish of disappointment for me when she told me he had committed suicide.  I tossed that fish right back at her when I said:

Me: I’m not into that band. I have no idea who that guy is.

I later learned that he did the guitar solo in their hit 25 or 6 to 4.

This is not from my 45 collection.

I have no idea what that song is about.  I have never owned a Chicago record in my life.

Yet, I knew that Liz Taylor checking out would be monumental to Milton, but I was hoping that somehow he’d find out through someone else or Facebook.  After a few hours I forwarded him her obit in The New York Times and by then everyone else he knew had contacted him.  I felt immense relief.

That evening Milton met me as I was leaving work.  He had spent the weekend integrating New Hampshire, so I asked him how his trip went.  This was the first time he had flown in a plane since the nineties.  He enjoyed seeing his friends, but was apoplectic over the aircraft, describing it as follows:

Milton:  It was so small; it couldn’t even fit Diana Ross’s luggage.

Me:  It was a propeller plane, right?

Milton:  It was a propeller plane!

Me:  Albee told me that.

Milton:  Albee knew I would be flying on a propeller plane and you didn’t tell me!

Me:  He told me I shouldn’t tell you because then you’d probably cancel your trip.

Milton:  Yes, I would have canceled had I known I would be flying in a propeller plane!

Thanks to Albee urging me to keep the bad news about Milton’s first flight a secret, coupled with Milton surviving that flight, Milton has a new appreciation for jets and might actually fly again in less than fifteen years.  Maybe he’ll even fly to wherever Liz is buried to eat a donut in her honor at her grave.  As Joan Rivers once quipped about Liz’s frequently high weight once she reached her middle years,”Is Elizabeth Taylor fat?  Her favorite food is seconds.”  On Wednesday, Joan was Tweeting about feeling as lousy as the rest of us knowing that Liz is gone.