Tag Archives: New York City

24 Hour Plays on Broadway: Morning Times

After we had a round table of idea sharing, Adam Bock, a playwright who is “on staff” for the night, went upstairs to write his play.  We all hung around and chatted, ate food and eventually we were all getting pretty tired.  At 4:30AM  I went upstairs to the writer’s lair where Ellen Maddow was looking for a story about the ocean, and Adam B was nearly finished.  He laughed that all the assistants were now sleeping on cots while the writers were still busy typing away.  I heard Adam laughing to himself.  I couldn’t really sleep, so I asked to see what he thought was so funny.  Tina Fallon (the producer) told me not to give anything away about any of the plays, so I won’t.  But my oh my, Adam put some of my stories in his play.  So perhaps before my official Broadway debut as a playwright, two of my shinning delightful (and hilarious) stories made it into a play that is going up on Broadway tonight.  It’s pretty funny that Adam just ran downstairs and asked us for stories and then wove them into his characters.  He’s a pretty talented fellow. We are both from San Francisco originally, so we talked about that for awhile.  I already liked his work (Five Flights) but now I really like him as a person too.  He’s a social butterfly.  I can’t wait to see the plays tonight.

Questions for 5AM: I don’t know what to ask.

I asked Adam what his favorite play that he ever wrote. Without thinking he said:The Typographer’s Dream.

A quote from Tina: “We have too much amazing.”

I’m tired.  I don’t even know what to write.  But obviously I thought this experience would be fun.  I get home at nearly 5:30AM, jump into my cozy bed.  As I drift off into my real sleep, I tell my husband, who is used to my goofy stories about my day.

One last good one: Bullets, Bums and Barack

Hope. Now I have it.  I’m so excited to see what Barack Obama is going to do with his presidency!  I feel proud for the first time that I am an American; that I had the chance to vote, to make a difference.
My interview project is nearly complete.   From September 17th – November 4th, I attempted to interview one person a day as an exercise to keep me writing.  The result is pretty amazing.  It’s a journal of New York City as we prepared to elect the first Black president.   On September 17th, the day after I arrived  in New York after spending two weeks in California, I was suddenly overwhelmed by the beauty of the city in the fall.  It was as if someone had put V-juice in my coffee.  Or, I was in love again with New York.  The trees, the air, the people…everything was cracking with change.

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Wonder Woman in a Cat Suit

Sadly, today at midnight I am going to end my “project” which has been to interview one person a day until the election.  Today when I went to vote I stood next to Patricia Keaton in line.  She is very nice and civic minded, but she really didn’t want to be interviewed for the blog.  Meanwhile, I am quite behind in my interviews and will be spending election night writing about the many cool people I met with instead of focusing on any poll numbers.  People are coming over to watch election results around seven.   My house is usually some sort of center of activity….

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At Least We Have Paris (and New York)

I am so behind on my interviews it’s not even funny.  My mom, her best friend Ginny and my brother Curt visited me in NYC for a week.   It was non-stop eating, drinking, plays, shopping and parties.  It’s so fun to have visitors, but life kind of stopped while they were visiting, which is both good and bad.  Now that they are gone, it’s very sad and I wish I had more of them hanging out at my house like a dorm room…
While they were here, though, I felt a little bit removed from normal life.  It just so happened that I took a copywriting job right before they got here and started a Russian class, uh and I have my blog to write…so it felt weird to spend so much time just hanging out.
Virgina and my mom Starr have been friends since they were ten years old. They grew up in Indiana together and share memories of having sleepovers at each others houses when they were kids.  They are the cutest best friends I think I’ve ever seen.  My mom’s middle name should be “everything is so hard” – while Virgina is very chill and easy going. “Ginny” as we call her spent her first four days in NYC going to Aikido – she’s studying for her 3rd degree black belt.  She’s in amazing shape.
My mom on the other hand missed the “Jane Fonda” movement in the eighties. After having two kids back-to-back, she gained weight and never really lost it.
When I was growing up, I used to look at old pictures of my mom when she was young and think she was a model.  She was the most beautiful young woman I’ve ever seen.  Being the daughter of Dale Messick, who created Brenda Starr Reporter, she must have had a lot to live up to.
Even though she’s curbed her eating habits, working out is not her thing; even walking these days is cumbersome.  She has bad knees.  So the two of them together, Ginny and my mom are a little like a comedy show.

Who:“Ginny” my mom’s best friend
Where: NYC
Occupation:  Tourist and Aikido Master (studying for her 3rd Black Belt).
“Ginny” lived in NYC for twenty years during the seventies and eighties while she worked as an executive at IBM.  She sold her apartment on 93rd and Lex at a really bad time @1989.   She just heard her apartment is on the market again for 1.2 MM, so Ginny was set on telling me that she has “bad timing when it comes to real estate.” I told her to “stop that,” and then I saw the apartment in question.  Wow, I can’t believe she gave up a two bedroom, two bathroom in NYC.  No wonder she has regrets.
In 1989, while I was still in high school, Ginny was once again off for an adventure.  She fell in love with her Paris born and raised Aikido instructor and impetuously ran off to Paris and married him.  Her story reminds me of Carrie Bradshaw kissing New York goodbye for a shot at Paris; except unlike TV, Ginny really did sell her NYC apartment and she hasn’t been able to move back to her favorite city.
Since Michele (the French guy) didn’t want to learn English, she had to adopt her entire life around his; she learned to speak French and became a Parisian as best she could; which is not exactly an easy task. She suffered from loneliness and had trouble making friends because her French never got better than functional.  Therefore, talking about deep feelings became impossible, and well, the French are sort of, uh, French and her husband was no different – he was “uh” French – proud and impossible.
When I moved to Paris for a working internship in 1994, I remember thinking it was odd that Ginny technically knew French better than I did; but she stumbled when speaking, when I soared. While I spoke quickly sans accent, just like the French, Ginny’s words were tentative, like a little bird. I wanted to speak so I found a way I guess. Ginny doesn’t need to talk a lot; she is the quiet observer and a  great listener.   No wonder why men like her so much!  It’s nice, I suppose, for awhile anyway, to not speak and not to be heard.
Ginny had enough of “quiet times” and divorced the “French guy” and moved back to the states (to Florida) in 2002, but she hasn’t been able to afford to live in NYC again, which I think makes her a little sad.  See, for all of us who want to leave, we should remember that we might not get to come back — ever.  This is our time, right now.  I love Paris, and always thought I’d live there again, but in fact, I’ve been back only a few times since living there in 1994.
At least Ginny and I will always have memories of walking near the Seine in Paris; and for as long as I live here, and she likes to visit, we have New York.

Old New York

Lately I’ve been running into people who have been openly telling me about vintage New York City.  From my mom’s best friend who sold her apartment and still regrets it, to an ex-convict who is just happy to be free.  Old New York was a city full of large two bedroom apartments “with a room for a maid”, a place where gangs were stabbing people as part of a right of passage, a city where cabs cost .85 cents, a city where “all my friends died of AIDS” — a city where “I hung out in the theater all day.” Some of these things are still true, some have changed.

I’m behind in my interviews.  So I’m playing a little catch up here.

Who: Alan Brown
Where: Grounded, NYC
Occupation: Screenwriter
Alan has lived in New York City since 1981, but he left in 1987 and lived in Japan for seven years.
“It was good that I got to leave,” he says.  “I learned to appreciate it.”
“Wasn’t it bad when you came back in 1995?” I say.
“No, it was much better.  New York went through such a dark time, you have no idea,” he says.
“My first real trip to New York City was in 1997.  I saw some plays and went to Times Square – I took photos,” I say.
“See, that was after Disney and Giuliani came in.”  Before Giuliani Broadway was dark – it was gloom and doom,” he says.
I hear differing opinions of the pre-Disney post Disney Broadway, but one common theme I hear is that New York is cleaner and safer than it ever was in the eighties.
“I left right in the middle of one of the worst times – it was the Crack and AIDS epidemic, there were many places you couldn’t go.”
“So many people hate Giuliani, but he really cleaned up New York,” I say.
“Yes, he did.”
Alan Brown is very political.  In fact, he was just in Pennsylvania campaigning for Obama this past weekend.  He’s from Scranton.
“Just like Joe Biden and Hillary,” he says.
Alan was a Hillary fan (like me) but has jumped over to Obama’s camp (like me).
“Hillary will be fine,” he says. “I’m very happy with Obama as our candidate.”
“So what’s your favorite thing about New York?” I say
He thinks about it for a little bit.
“Everything.”
I laugh.
“New York is the only place in the world where your life might change depending on which way you walk, or who you walk into.”
“Isn’t that true for everywhere,” I say.
“No, nothing is like New York, this is the place where dreams really can come true.”

“Jumping on Board” to Obama’s Campaign

Thursday I noticed I was repeating things I’d done two, three weeks ago.  But now the air is cooler and the trees rustle more as the leaves fall off.  I had lunch at Doma and when I looked out the window, there was the painter I’d interviewed a few weeks ago. 

Now his painting had morphed, just like he said it would.  I think I liked it better in the earlier version.  I read some of my book, which is research for my new play.  It’s depressing.
The older couple who had sat down next to me were speaking a language I didn’t recognize.  I speak French, Russian and a little German, so I am good at recognizing most languages, but this didn’t sound familiar.


Who: Henriette and Vagn Kondsen
Where: Doma, NYC
Occupation: Tourists  and parents (today)
Henriette and Vagn tell me that they are visiting New York for two weeks and today they have already been uptown and all over Soho.
“It’s exhausting isn’t it?” I say.
“Oh yes, we are glad to sit down.”
“Do you live here?” Vagn asks me.
“Yes, just over there,” I point.
“You are so lucky.  We love the village,” he tells me.
“We are visiting our daughter, but she’s working so much that we barely see her.”
“What does she do?” I say.
“She’s here working on the Obama campaign,” says her mother proudly.
Emma Kondsen came over from Demark to work as a volunteer to get my (crossing fingers) president elected. She’s been here for four months.
“You must be very proud,” I say.
Her parents looked so proud that I think I see tears in their eyes.
“It must be a wonderful thing being a parent,” I say.
“It’s so wonderful,” says her mom.

After pointing them to my favorite neighborhood book store “Three Lives” I went home.  My phone rang and it was unknown number.
“Hello,” I say.

“Hi, my name is Michelle and I’m calling from Barack Omama’s campaign.”

No, it wasn’t Michelle Obama, it was just someone named Michelle.
They were looking to see if my husband, who had donated money wanted to volunteer.
“He’s probably too busy,” I say.  “But, I’ll do it.”

The last time I helped out with a campaign, the guy won.

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Seeing the World Through New Goggles

Gay Street

I am trying to give myself a little break from interviewing one person a day, but Sunday proved to have some kick to it.

My purpose for the day was to buy new swimming goggles; I needed a new pair. So I made a day trip to Paragon in Union Square. Paragon has a testing area just for swimming goggles; I’ve never seen such a sight.  I decided to buy one rather fancy pair, and one cheap pair “just in case.”  So I will have a back up. This should last me for 10 years! I’m so excited for my next swim.  I also recently bought a new suit, the first one in five years!

I walked out of Paragon with my new goggles in my purse and I decided to stop in Barnes and Noble.  Another big errand– I am doing research for a new play.  The play is a taboo subject, so I thought I’d see what Barnes and Noble might have in stock on the subject.  Turns out, not much.  I can’t say what the subject is, but, it’s bad.

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