Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Spirit of New York City

2nd Day of the Transit Strike.

Yesterday and today I got to witness the true Spirit of New York. I wasn’t here for 9-11 or the massive black out last year. But with the Strike throwing everyone into confusion, New Yorker everywhere – me included – are making the best of a bad situation.

As I was looking for a cab or at least a small group of people waiting to ride together in a cab on 116 this morning, a guy in a small Toyota waved to get my attention. He motioned to the backseat of his car and mouthed the words, “Do you need a ride?”

I got in the back. He’d just picked up someone else who was riding shotgun. We just needed one more person to get through the police barricade at 96th Street. With the strike in full swing only cars with 4 or more people were allowed into the city. I needed a ride and he needed another body in the car to get him through.

The driver let me off at 80th and Lexington Avenue. I then walked across the island of Manhattan. I went through Park Avenue…Madison Avenue…Fifth Avenue…then through Central Park…across Central Park West…Columbus Circle…Amsterdam…then finally to Broadway. The walk wouldn’t have been that bad – it was the fact that it was 22 degrees. Even with gloves it was hard to feel my hands when I got to work.

When I got to work and settled in, I thought about the Spirit of New York. Everywhere people were carpooling with strangers – making do in whatever situation arises. Riding home tonight I was in a cab with 3 other people, all strangers - to me and to each other.
But we made it. You do what you have to do.
It’s only life.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The NYC Tranist Strike

The transit strike began today sending New York City into chaos. We have no buses or subways. Literally millions of people are stranded on and off the island of Manhattan.

It took me 2 hours in a cab and then walking over 10 blocks in freezing weather to get to work today.

The cabs have abandoned the meter and are using a zone system and charging passengers a flat rate per zone. As many people as possible are suppose to ride – so Elizabeth and I (after 10 minutes) hailed a cab and crept across town. A few blocks over we picked up another passenger who was heading in the same general direction.

The cab ride wouldn’t have been so bad except that the window was broken and wouldn’t roll up. So, besides being incredibly late to work and frustrations rising, we were also freezing.

Not having fun.

The View from the Corner Nearest to My Apartment. Millions Trying to get to Work WITHOUT the Aid of Mass Transit.

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A Picture Taken Out of the Broken Cab Window. Traffic at a Stand Still on Central Park West

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Sunday, December 18, 2005

Brokeback Mountain - A Love Story

After trying several times last weekend and this, Elizabeth and I finally got to see the film, Brokeback Mountain. It’s only opened in limited release – New York, DC and L.A. – and even here it is only in 3 or 4 theaters. But we finally saw it.

We got our ticket in advance and there was a long, long line waiting to get in. When we did get in, the theater was packed. The movie started, with the hollow haunting strums of a guitar from the film’s soundtrack, and the theater feel silent and everyone was taken in by it.

The film was…




As I was walking to the bus stop with Elizabeth after the movie let out, I tried to find the right words to describe it. I don’t think I ever did.

I thought back to several of the many glowing reviews that I’ve read. So many honest reviewers have acknowledged that the film really is a gay love story. It is just a love story. It just happens to be a love story between to men. It isn’t the first or the only honest love story between two men – it is, however, the first mainstream, big-budget Hollywood motion picture to be released and praised internationally.

That’s what it is…a love story.

As I’ve written before, I read the novella on the train down to Richmond, VA. The film completely embodied the spirit and work of the novella. There were several moments where my breath was taken away while reading – it was a pleasant surprise to be swept away again at those same points in the movie.

I can’t want to be swept away again.


Brokeback Mountain

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A Beautiful, Complicated Love Story...Two Men Fall in Love on Brokeback Mountain

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When the Hiding Begins...The Cowboys Come Down from Brokeback Mountain

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Saturday, December 17, 2005

CeCe's Here and a Souvenir

My friend CeCe (Thomas) arrived last night. He’s passing through on his way back to Georgia for Christmas. We jumped on a bus late and headed down to the Upper East Side. We got off the bus and started walking back uptown checking out different restaurants, bars, and pubs. We settled on a small hole-in-the-wall BBQ place and enjoyed catching up.

Today Elizabeth, CeCe and I took in the Broadway play, Souvenir. We had amazing seats on the second row of the Mezzanine. I saw the show a couple months ago and loved it. I was pretty sure that Elizabeth and CeCe would like it. They LOVED it.

The show is based on the life of New York socialite, Ms. Florence Foster Jenkins. She became somewhat of a celebrity in the 30’s and 40’s. She had an incredible passion for singing though she was probably completely tone deaf. Her performances for her friends at small recitals became huge draws in New York City. She even ended up selling out the famous venue, Carnegie Hall. She believed that music is what the singer hears in his or her head - that was what was most important to her. She sang completely with her heart and never heard the laughter. People would weep as they laughed, stuffing handkerchiefs into their mouths as she butchered pieces by Mozart and Brahms, among others – but she only saw people being moved by the music. Horrifically recorded albums sold briskly, she was impersonated at parties and she died never knowing that her voice was the city’s biggest joke.

I really love the play and I’m so glad I got to see it again – this time with friends. It was especially a lot of fun seeing it with Elizabeth. I glanced over and several times saw her mouth hanging opened and her sitting there in shock as Ms. Foster Jenkins proclaimed that she was blessed with Perfect Pitch and would then turn around and sing a song with great (off-key) passion.


Souvenir's PLAYBILL featuring Judy Kaye as Ms. Florence Foster Jenkins

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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Bidding at Sotheby's

Today was a full, full day.

I was at the site and in meetings for most of the morning and then went to Sotheby's. Sotheby's is the world famous auction house that was established in 1744. I've been to Sotheby's one other time, but only to pick some things up. Today I was sent to bid. I spent the afternoon in and out of auctions spending money that isn't mine.

After bidding and winning the first item, I hit the street and started running errands. Today was, by far, the coldest day since I've been here. I don't think it went above 25 degrees today. I walked over from York to 2nd Ave. and the from 72nd Street down to 65th to pick up some vintage drapes. Then I walked over one more long block to 3rd Ave. and down to 59th Street. I ran through the D & D building to pick up a sample that wasn't there. Instead of risking frost bite I decided to take a cab back to Sotheby's.

I got back in time to bid and win the last two items.

It was a lot of fun watching the whole bidding proccess. So many beautiful pieces. So many collectors out for blood to get the items they want.

More good times...

The World Famous auction house, Sotheby's.

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Friday, December 09, 2005

Winter Wonderland

Today was AMAZING. I woke up to snow pouring down outside my window.
I take the M79 bus to work in the morning. It cuts across town through Central Park. As we were riding through Central Park I was speechless looking at the park. It was absolutely gorgeous. It looked like a fairytale come to life. The whole park had a magical glow to it. I thought to myself...



"All those years of singing Winter Wonderland...always without any real conviction. Those days are over, my friend."


"Yes, self. Really."


So...this Christmas that song will be in regular rotation on my fake iPod - which is a Dell Jukebox.

Good times.

A beautiful photo of Central Park...a photo I didn't take but one that shows the park in Snowy Splendor

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Another photo I didn't take...

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The 3rd picture I didn't take...but one of my favorite spots in NYC...the Bethseda Fountain

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The 4th and final picture I didn't take...this one show just how DEEP it got. FUN!

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Monday, December 05, 2005

The Holiday's With Chelsea Clinton, Dan Rather, Cindy Adams, and MANY

Tonight was Liz Robbin's holiday party hosted at a beautiful mansion on the Upper East Side. The guest list read like the Who's Who in the world on politics, film, television, and media. I was honored to be invited.

Though I was working on and off throughout the night, it was a lot of fun to celebrate the season with Presidental daughter Chelsea Clinton, news anchor Dan Rather, famed gossip columinist Cindy Adams, Peter Boyle (the Dad from the television show, Raymond), Frank McCourt (author or Angela's Ashes) and many, many others.

It was a great evening but I am worn this will be a short post.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

My First Snow in NYC!!

First SNOW!

I woke up this morning to chalky skies and close to 4 inches of snow on each step of the fire escape. It was beautiful. Like a little kid I ran into the other room and woke Elizabeth up to tell her it had snowed. Then I whipped out my Christmas CDs and started a rotation of holiday music.

Don’t know if it was because of the snow or what, but today was a quiet day today.

The highlight of the day: grocery shopping with Elizabeth and talking to my mom in Africa.

That’s about it. Perfect.

The View from the back of the Apartment

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My Christmas Tree - If you look outside you can see the snow in the trees

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Another shot of the tree...this time with the Flash ON so more of the ornaments show up

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The footprints of New York Neighbors...People and Pigeons

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Elizabeth stopping to standing in a small snow pile on our way to the grocery store

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Saturday, December 03, 2005

- R E N T -

10 years ago the musical RENT opened on Broadway. I was captivated by the show from the moment I heard about it. I remember the show’s creator died on my birthday, before the show even opened Off-Broadway. After years and years of writing and dreaming, Jonathan Larson died on the eve of seeing his dreams realized. The show ended up moving to Broadway and went on to wink every major away – including the Pulitzer Prize.

It was almost two years after it opened before I got to see it (purchasing a Standing Room Only ticket for $25 and standing at the back of the theater throughout the show) but I thought it was incredible. The show was staged on almost a completely bare stage with the power and the strength of the show lying solely on the shoulders of the actors. I laughed, sang, danced and cried through the whole show. When the show hit the road on tour I ended up seeing it every time it came through Atlanta. It remains one of my favorites. It has amazing music and is laced throughout with power of love and connecting your life with others.

A little more than a year ago production began on the film version of the show. Everyone in the New York theater community was wondering what Hollywood would do with the story. Would they water it down, take away the edge to the subject matter, try and make a story about living out of the mainstream comfortable for the mainstream?

Hollywood gave all theater fans something to believe in when it was announced that the director of the film was using almost all of the show’s original cast – most of whom had no film experience at all.

The movie opened on Thanksgiving. I still hadn’t seen it, so tonight Elizabeth and I headed down to Times Square to see the Rent. The theater was packed and there was a great energy in the room.

I really liked the film a lot. I left looking forward to seeing it again. I loved the way they choose to present different songs. The spirit of the stage show was captured beautifully on film. I knew, when the movie started, and the song “Rent” began that movie would be great. The opening scene set in the Village of New York came on and struggling artists were protesting the rent. The guys set fire to unfinished screenplays and songs to warm their apartment. Neighbors are warming themselves anyway they can. The song ends with New Yorkers burning their eviction notices that had papered their neighborhood and dumping them off the fire escapes and into the street. It was an amazing opening to the film and set the whole tone of the film.

The film opened well…#5 in the Top 10. People all over America are experiencing Jonathan Larson’s passion. Whether people agree or disagree with the choices, lives, work, desires, dreams, decisions, etc. that people in the film live – this film will be the first time many see a completely different side of life. A life of artists and addicts who are all searching for their place in the world and in the lives of the ones they love.

I've been very fortunate to sing several songs from the show on different occasions. In my last cabaret show we sang a medley of songs from the Rent and it ended with the show's anthem, "Seasons of Love." People still mention that part of the show - even as recently as last week when I was at my brother's for Thanksgiving - he said that that was one of his favorite songs. There are so many powerful songs in the show/film. I hope more people discover this wonderful piece of theater - either on Broadway, on tour or at movie theater.

Visit: and the film’s site:

The Original Broadway Poster for the stage musical, RENT

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The NEW poster for the new film version of the stage musical, RENT

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Friday, December 02, 2005

The Reviews Are In...

The Color Purple opened on Broadway last night. It has been a long journey (8 years) for this show to make it here. I was in line yesterday to get one of the few tickets that were released back to the public for sale.

As I stepped up to the window the agent told me there was one ticket left. She went to select the purchase on screen and it was gone. So close, yet so far away…

I hate that I couldn’t be there last night but I was there in spirit.

The reviews are in!

"BLESSED WITH TALENT. A bright odyssey of survival and triumph with a fairy-tale sense of wonder, 'Purple' strikes sparks." - Ben Brantley, The New York Times

"VIBRANT & WINNING! Oprah Winfrey's favorite new musical is blessed by glowing performances from a sisterhood of talent." - Clive Barnes, New York Post

"PURE HEART! It celebrates inspiring relationships of faith and love. LaChanze is A MARVEL! A BROADWAY HIT!" - Elysa Gardner, USA Today

"A sweeping story that's impressively intimate and EXCEPTIONALLY MOVING,with DYNAMITE PERFORMANCES. 'The Color Purple' SINGS TO THE SOUL!A WINNER!" - Roma Torre, NY1 News

LaChanze as "Celie" in the musical, The Color Purple

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Friday, November 25, 2005

Thanksgiving...Turkey, Golden Girls and Naps

Happy Thanksgiving!

Yesterday I took the train down to Richmond, VA to spend the holiday with my brother, his wife Janet and my Grandmother (who flew up from Atlanta, GA).

It was a 6 hour trek down but very easy way to travel. I was a little disappointed not to hear someone yell, “All aboard!” but over all it was a good trip. It was my first time riding long distance on a train. There was a lot of room to spread out and settle in. I may not have heard someone say, “All aboard!” but I was able to keep my tray down the entire time.

On the ride down I worked on Christmas cards, watched DVDs, and read more of Wanda Sykes’ hilarious collection, Yeah, I Said It. Her book was just as funny as listening to her stand-up. I want to be her New Best Friend. She's so smart and funny. She lives in NYC, so maybe I'll run into her some time.

I also read the tender short story Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx. It was a beautiful. So delicate and honest. This touching story is the basis for the new film by Ang Lee. It only took 30 minutes to read the whole story but I was really taken in by the way the story was crafted. Within the first few pages I was drawn into the story. The balance of passion and responsibilities.

There has been a lot of buzz around the film. I was very proud of Heath Ledger, one of the actors in the film, who said he was attracted to the film because it was a story that hadn’t been told. So many magazines and newspapers tried, in the beginning, to trivialize the story by calling it a "gay cowboy story." Now that critics are seeing the finished film and the actors choose only to take the high road when discussing it, people are seeing it for what it is - the story of an endearing love and connection between two men. I can't wait to see the film for myself and experience it from page to screen.

Today we watched some of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. It was interesting watching the parade as a New Yorker. Maybe next year I can have Thanksgiving here and take in the parade in person.

Thanksgiving dinner was wonderful. Janet and Grandmother worked up quite a feast in the kitchen. Janet’s brother joined us and Tim & Janet’s dog, Reagan, was never too far away – hoping to join us. The meal was followed by episodes of The Golden Girls on DVD then naps all around.
Perfect Thanksgiving.

Wanda Sykes hilarious collection, Yeah, I Said It

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The movie poster from the upcoming love story, Brokeback Mountain. The poster's tag line reads: Love Is A Force Of Nature.

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That's my brother...I'm so...proud.

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Tim helps get the Thanksgiving turkey ready.

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Grandmother oversees the cooking of the Thanksgiving dinner - her macaroni just behind her.

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