Tuesday, December 28, 2010

#9 - The Blizzard and I

I love that title! Those who know me, know why. To those just on the fringe.....it's a WICKED reference. Deal with it or leave.
So, there has been a weather emergency in NYC (well the entire East Coast)
It is being called snowmageddon. A phrase coined by The Bama on February 7th. This is the 4th snowmageddon this year. 20 inches in Central Park and 18 on the streets on Manhattan. Worse out in the boroughs.
Something like this does not stop me. I still was in the Theater District Sunday night when the bitch storm was blowing old ladies over in the street. Then again on Monday I was back on Times Square watching hapless tourists and furious locals curse Mayor Bloomberg for not getting the shovels and plows out to the most important part of town....more people on their asses trying to hurdle piles of snow. It does no good to plow the streets, if you make huge walls of snow no one can get over. If that happened in Chicago, the entire administration would be out of office. No joke. I have seen it happen. I was a City Planner for the Real Mayor Daley you know. Anyway, the storm provided lots of drama and plenty of photo ops.

 owners out of town
from apt Monday morning
17th Street car under there somewhere


If you're not in a rush to get from Pt. A to Pt. B, it's especially nice outside now. Sun's out, wind's gone, snow's still white." 

The NYC Twitter site says it's over. It is for now. This is winter and actually it is only Day 8 of the season. More slush to follow. I hate slush!

While I am on the subject of snow....there were some really fun Christmas decorations and trees this year. Well, as I was never here before in the Xmas season, that is a dumb thing for me to say, but I have seen pictures and film of the twinkly magic Manhattan has to offer. The FENDI store in Fifth Avenue was a liquid wall of blinking icicles. I was not able to capture it adequately, but it was just outstanding. Here are some highlights from the tree category:
Rock Center
EmpireStateBldg City'sTree

Martha's Tree RadioCityMusicHall

New Years Eve is next......Oye Vey!

Friday, December 24, 2010

#8 - Rockettes

You know how things sometimes never live up to expectations. The house you remember as a child is some how smaller than you recall...the historic place you always wanted to visit is actually surrounded by a gross parking lot...you know what I mean. Let me state with out reservation or even one bit of exaggeration, that the Rockettes Christmas show was something well worth waiting a very long lifetime to see.
First, is it in the most magnificent building (read here: Rockefeller Center/Radio City Music Hall ArtDeco masterpiece of architecture). The stunning interior of the building and the theater is glorious enough...than add that Martha Stewart (no gagging, please) very spectacularly decorated the lobby and the inside of the theater. simple but grand. You know it's true, the woman has a knack.
no camera can capture the magic
The Rockettes...what can I say...Barbara and I counted 31 dancers. that's 62 long graceful and perfect legs, kicking and strutting for really long sets. I was exhausted watching, and I never lifted my foot off the floor, other than to bounce along with the music. I was blown away with enthusiasm, as though I was a 8 year old child, and that's just how I felt. Tears, of course, you already know I cry all the time when presented with beauty or joy. The highlight wasn't even the kicking and glam, they did the Toy Soldier routine: tiny steps and precision, in long lines and patterns, culminating with all 32 falling down in slow motion onto a red pillow! Just ...just...I don't have the words
Add to the evening, 6 sheep, 2 camels and a white donkey, well I was dead from happiness. Oh, and the Ol'Fat Boy was in the house. How does he do it all?
Also, there was 3D, but that was silly....and the Gershwin camera /cel phone police would have hauled 90% of the audience off to jail. Everyone was recording and walking up and down the aisles. My theater going self was in turmoil. It took great Zen powers to let it go and enjoy those legs. I did, and I must say, if you have the chance go see them in NYC. It is the treat of a lifetime!
That's all. Barbara and I are out an about today & looking for Ebenezer Scrooge tonight.

Monday, December 13, 2010

#7 - The Blue Flower (Cambridge): TWickie Trek To T Town

Now, I titled this The Blue Flower (Cambridge), because I fully expect this show to move on to other places and the different cities may be important in the future.
Poster in Harvard Yard

Monumental weekend, on so many levels. Jacqueline and Chris were here to trek to Boston (tea town, get it?) We started off bright and early Saturday (before even the garbage men were out and about), to get the 6:30AM bus to Boston. 4 hours of snoozing were welcomed. It's hard to get a full night's sleep when a journey is about to commence, and we were all pumped up; Jacqueline being the Founding Mother of the TWickies and Chris, a stalwart member, we were going to check out the new offering of The Blue Flower at The American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, a Tony winning company of great reputation. Now, I love a new musical, and I equally love the time in History this show is predominantly set: Europe Pre WWI Paris, Berlin & Zurich, and LOVE the artists of German Expressionism, so that would be enough for me, but just so that I make full disclosure....we were there to see Teal Wicks!
Teal portrays Maria, a VERY LOOSLY drawn version of Marie Curie. Also in the mix are Franz Marc, Max Beckmann and Hannah Hoch, the 2 men, painters who have extensive representation in the best galleries and museums of Modern Art and Hannah, influential in the art of photomontage/collage and DADA. Google all this, I can't stop for ArtHistory 101 (although I'd like to).
The show is about the love between the characters, the values of the times and war. It is a complicated and multi-layered work. I will admit to really seeing all the full depth of the piece only after several viewings. So much happens and the visuals are constantly shifting, much like the madness DADA emulates. There are actors moving furniture, putting up paintings, changing clothes, climbing ladders, knocking over chairs, jumping in and out of trenches, rape, puppets, movies and marvelous mayhem. Oh, I should say that the musicians are stellar and were part of the action.
I don't want to give too much away as to plot. Hopefully, you will see this wonder someday, but it should come as no surprise to Teal lovers that she plays the love interest to both men, and her love for Franz is pivotal to the emotion of the story. She sings a song titled Eiffel Tower, and is so poignant and sad, that at each time I heard it, I cried. I never cry in the theater (movies, yes, buckets, but something about the distance of the actors in the theater keeps me from tears...but not when she sings this song). It has such beautiful lyrics (read them here: http://www.americanrepertorytheater.org/node/5472). The crystal quality of Teal's voice sets them off just perfectly. She acts each word, but still manages to soar vocally. How does a young person convey such sadness? I don't know how she does it. There is a moment where she is just so overwhelmingly sad and leans into a column. She has no strength to stand, and if possible she would like to melt into the wood and vanish, like her lost lover. She sings of the closeness they shared, of looking over the roof tops of Paris, and when she speaks of angels you can't help think that she knows the angels have him and she doesn't. The end of the song and the act finds her high above the stage, not flying, but definitely illuminated and soaring above all of us, and she sings "things will never be the same", and she is right. This woman should sing on Broadway. If all goes well, she will.
See how I get hung up on that song...I rambled on, didn't I?
Well, Jacqueline and I saw the show twice on Saturday and then again Sunday Matinee. Chris had to get back to NYC, 'cuz I told her she couldn't miss the Scottsboro Boys (I already told you 'bout that show). The best part of seeing shows several times is to see the nuance and progressions of the acting. This proved to be such a wise choice. So much is revealed with multiple viewings. We also got to spend some quality time after the show with the actors at a "talk back" on Saturday and got to schmooz them in the lobby(no Stage Door there). They recognized us after a while. We represented the Left Coast well. One of the leads even said Teal had told him about the TWickies. We felt most proud. Of course, talking with Teal after the show was wonderful. She remains the same delightful person we knew in SF. She looks great (no duh), and we had the pleasure of talking with her dad who was there on Saturday. Talk about proud, well, we all had that in common.
Oh, I forgot to say that Teal does a crazy Texas accent...how wild is that?
Speaking of wild, the ride back was wet and hair raising. There was lots of rain, and I don't think the Massachusetts roads have the same size lanes we do in California. I was sure we were  going to sideswipe quite a few vehicles. Lousy weather, but a wonderful weekend. I'm going back on January 8th for the closing show. There will be more tears, for lots of reasons.
Tonight the Broadway South Africa event...so many delightful people will be singing...and there is free booze.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

#6 - More reflection and some gushing

Yesterday was the 30th anniversary of John Lennon's murder. I don't know why, but I was knocked down all day. Couldn't concentrate. I had wanted to write about all the really great things I had experienced in the past few days, yet I just couldn't get past the loss of that man. I suppose that finally being in New York only a few miles away from where he was killed was the cause. I went to the Place in Central Park where they had named Strawberry Fields and placed a stunning mosaic in the sidewalk to commemorate his existence in The City. even got an autograph
He loved New York. He lived in the strangely dark and Gothic Dakota Apartments. A Pre-War massive structure on Central Park West. There were people on TV all day telling of his relationship with the city and their encounters with either him or Yoko. The bastard Mark David Chapman even got an autograph the afternoon he did his crime. The word was that John was accessible to his fans. Too much, it turned out.
I went to the 10:15 candle light gathering. There were at least 400 people. People were singing. Tears were flowing. I was freezing, but glad to be there.  I came home and couldn't sleep. I was up at 3. Quite a day.

I must now get back into NYC mode, 'cuz lots has happened and I have been a very lucky lady.
I went to 3 book/CD signings. Love those. Free and up close and personal with Scott Allen, Portia de Rossi, and Crystal Chappell. Tam came up from Bltmo to see 2 shows which are closing far too early, Women on the Verge and Scottsboro Boys. Women was a bit weak on the Book side, but the cast is just 100% perfect. I've already given my rant about SBoys. I might have to go again it is THAT good.

So, if that wasn't enough, there are 2 more highlights that must be told. Monday, I was supposed to go to Patti LuPone's book signing...a legend of a Diva if there ever was one. I got a call from my friend Neal that he had an extra ticket from a friend who was not able to go to the Broadway Inspirational Voices. Now, if that sounds religious, you would be sort of right. It is a gospel choir composed of Bdwy singers, who just enjoy singing so much they have to work on their days off. Imagine a magnificent old church on Park Avenue, filled with glamorous people and Broadway luminaries (JM was there, but I didn't bother her) and holiday decorations to knock your eyes out. In walk 40 stunningly talented people who proceed to belt Christmas songs, so powerful and beautifully, that even I was ready to sign up to convert.
Sad songs, joyful songs, songs that shook the rafters. There were singers in the choir that are just the biggest Bdwy stars: Gavin Creel, Shoshana Bean, Celisse Henderson, Montego Glover, Marva Hicks, Phylicia Rashad, C.E. Smith, all people I know from shows...all stars...singing so sweet and loud that the angels were put to shame. I'm still drawing good memories from that night....holy moly it was wonderful!
Then Tuesday, Gypsy. Not that Gypsy, I mean the Gypsy of the Year. I was generously gifted a ticket to the biggest Broadway event of the season. Tom Flynn, the BEST Dr Dillamond ever to walk on a WICKED stage, had an extra ticket to the part contest, part fund raising event. They judge the Bdwy casts on non show acts and also announce which shows have raised the most $$$ for Broadway Cares/ Equity Fights AIDS' Fall  drive. The highlight of this year's show was the legendary Carol Channing. Frail from her terrible struggles with hip surgery and cancer, she had a strong man to guide her by the waist.
Damn it if she didn't gain strength right in front of us. She did a little dance and kick and stood in the center of the stage and soaked in the screams, applause and love of the 1400 some people in attendance. But no, she didn't keep that love bottled up inside to take home and enjoy, no, she gave it back in the form of a smile so big and bright that you needed sunglasses, she glowed like the star she is! I cried, so did everyone I sat with. We were privileged to be in the presence of a legend, a Divine Diva.
What a week. Thanks for reading, it was long, but I don't think I conveyed a tenth of the happy.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

#5 - A Day To Reflect

Wednesday was World AIDS Day. New York, having the largest population of people suffering from the disease in the US, goes all out to spread the word, raise money and give comfort.
The morning started in a most frightening way...the Empire State Building was missing!  LOOK!

The reason for this disaster was fog! Do you believe that?  FOG  I thought I had left that all behind on the West Coast, but no, there was a fog bank here, yesterday, that swallowed up an entire 102 story building. Of course, that bad weather continued through out the whole day; rain and 60 mile per hour winds. Great day to have out door events. I chose 2 things to do, so I could suffer the onslaught of Winter.
The first was a book reading and performance of a few songs by the totally wonderful Chely Wright. 

She was promoting her new book and is an out spoken advocate for gay rights, having just come out to the entire world via that memoir. She is also a wonderful country singer, although I think her songs transcend that genre. She was funny, poignant and smart as hell (she remembered my name and knows me from Twitter). There were about 50 people at Borders, and she was very personable with everyone. People in the audience told of their stories relating to coming out, and it was just an intimate gathering of strangers. I know that sounds unlikely, but she made it work.  I love going to book/CD signings. They are free, and they allow close access to people that are usually "behind the red rope".
So, after all that warmth and coziness, I got myself down to the other end of town to Washington Square Park. The AIDS rememberance light was to be turned on by Liza Minnelli. Accompanying her in that task was Kenneth Cole, Tyson Beckford, and the most special Stockard Channing.

Well that's the Trifecta in my book!
Liza tripped going UP the stairs and was very incoherent in her presentation. She was supposed to come back out for the lighting set up, but Kenneth Cole (who is very personable, btw) said she had to leave unexpectedly).

Stockard read a letter from a woman in Europe who has been forced into being a sex worker. There were no dry eyes in the crowd of about 100 people.
If it had been just 3 degrees colder, we would have all had frozen tears on our faces. It was COLD, but also very moving. There were UN honchos as well, but I was glamming on the pretty.
The lights on buildings and monuments throughout The City were turned off at 7:30, to make the world take notice of the people we have lost to AIDS. It was powerful. The event was concluded with a monster good chorus of Broadway singers doing a gospel like song about fallen angels. More tears.
I then proceeded to go back to my apartment and collapse from the cold and emotions. 
Oh, and the ESB was back, all red at the top to commemorate the day, but I was too tired to even snap a pic. I fail. Don't judge!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

#4 - This is why I came here...

Two things happened this weekend that represent why I came to this Mecca. Perhaps if I put it down in words, some of my motivation for this upheaval to my life will be apparent.
Some of you know that I have a beloved cousin in LA who is "in the business". Well, Stuart Gordon got his start doing theater in Wisconsin (where he met his bride of a gazillion years Caroline, but I digress) and then moved to Chicago, where he started The Organic Theater, and I did some time working where ever non-acting help was needed. That struggling troop of players birthed many names from TV and film that you would recognize, but the man of the moment I want to tell you about is Andre De Shields. He was a formidable force on the stage those 30 years ago, and nothing has diminished his skills. He sings, dances and can act the skin off a lemon...but there were no lemons on that stage Sunday. I went to an off off (probably another off) Broadway theater down in the lower East Side (remember Henry Street from Funny Girl, that part of the tenements) to see Knock Me A Kiss. This is a play about W.E.B. DuBois. Andre plays the Black icon who tries to further the cause of "the Negro" by arranging his daughter's marriage to a more suitable man of letters than the jazzman she loves. Well, drama abounds. I have been looking forward to seeing Andre perform on stage for years. The tingling magic of sitting up close in a tiny theater, feeling the vibrations of talent that exuded from actors inhabiting their characters, is why I came here. It is fun seeing a musical or a show that has great press on Broadway, but seeing actors do their thing close up...that's breathtaking.
After the show, we talked about the old days; of counting the evening's take and divvying  it up amongst the players in a circle on the floor, old friends from the Chicago days and of changing clothes back stage (I have seen lots of famous actors "butt nekked"). Even a seasoned actor, like Andre De Shields respects the roots that must be developed, so that they can stand on today's stage. It was a wonderful day.
The next day, Monday, being the day most actors have off, they rest by singing at night in concerts or fund raisers. Last night was filled with at least 3 events I would have liked to have gone to, but I chose to go to Broadway Speaks Out's "A Very Mary Holiday". Marty Gould Cummings (a very funny and glam fellow) was the host to so many great singers and to Laura Benanti (just one of the most beautiful and talented actresses EVER), who got an award for her good works for issues of equality. No room now to go into the talent I saw, but the focus for me was going with a friend, the very interesting and connected Elisa Schneider (who is very funny and smart about theater people), schmoozing with people I was meeting for the first time, and laughing (and trying new concoctions from the bar). The event made lots of $$$, and I got to watch the theater people work the room, networking and air kissing. The sociology of the charity party is worth a full semester of credit at any good acting school. It was a fascinating evening. I will go to lots of these Mondays. They are magic too, because all the participants are gifted and happy to perform for fun.
A long but necessary post. Thanks for staying with me....tonight maybe the Rockefeller Center's Tree lighting and Brief Encounters with Susan. 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

#3 - Macy's Parade, Finally!

I finally got to go to the Macy's Parade. I will not say out loud how long I have been waiting to say those words. Everything about the event lived up to expectation, from the crowds, the floats/balloons, the weather, spirit and good vibes of the people, the bands and screams of excitement of the kids (and adults), the horses!, to the good spirited police officers guarding and blocking the streets.
I couldn't sleep all night with the anticipation. I laid out a plan to select the best spot...all that was for nothing, because there were throngs everywhere I turned.  Being one of the short people did not help at all! I did find a perfect vantage place near 36th and Broadway. Near Harold Square. The people were fun and we kibitzed the entire 2 hours. There was one annoying woman who had no concept of "personal space", but in the spirit of the day, I didn't behave poorly (but I wanted to).
When Snoopy came around the corner of the building, I cried copious tears of joy, which were only stopped by the necessity of taking pictures. I always cry at parades. Spidyman and KungFuPanda were really cool. The celebrity that got the biggest roar was Gladys Knight, with Joan Rivers a close second, but she couldn't smile through all the Botox.
I will put on a pic of Spidy and will do a gallery later of all the best shots.
Have a Happy thanksgiving. I know I have a lot to be thankful for, believe me, I do.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

#2 - A Brief Overview (The Powder Blue Palace)

I am a very lucky person. Through the good thinking of my friend Nancy, I was introduced to a friend of a friend, who just happened to have a place in NYC, that she never went to, but for which she still had to pay a "monthly maintenance". I, being a kind and generous person, volunteered to assume that fee for a year (with an option to renew for another, next October), and we all are very happy.
This wonderful apartment is a one bed-room, in a 30 story building, 2 blocks off Union Square and right on bus and subway lines that reach out everywhere. Perfect location, nice door men, maintenance people who fix broken anything, and a view of the Empire State Building that could stop your heart every time you look out the window.
There is only one negative...it's powder blue! Well, everything is powder blue: the walls, the ceiling, the carpet, the sheets and towels, well not the dishes, they are floral. Now, I know you are saying to yourself, "What a silly thing to even mention. This is not the practical and easy going Bettie I know and love.", but you don't know that I hate powder blue. This comes from the 9 years I was forced to wear that abominable color in my school uniform EVERY DAY. I have loathed that color since forever.
Will I let that deeply ingrained prejudice ruin my stay here? NO FRAKING WAY. I'm not here to look at walls, anyway. I'm here to go to the theater, meet people and have adventures. I keep the shades open and let the city flood in with that stunning view. Huge rain clouds sail by the skyline. Gorgeous sunsets pour into this place, and it is magical how I don't see the blue any more. I only see out, and that's what I'll write about next. Until then....

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Please forgive the delay in starting this blog, but I have been distracted....by NYC. There has been much exploring, poking around the neighborhood and hanging around in Times Square.
I am setting up this blog with absolutely no confidence in my computer skills, but as my friend Kathy says, if it stays in your mind, it is not happening. So here I am, fumbling around, making changes and fiddling with photos and colors. This will eventually be the place to check in with me and read of my adventures and thoughts. Well, only I care about my thoughts, but I do know how to embellish an adventure.
Please join in the fun....