Wednesday, July 25, 2007

MEMORY LANE #2: Much Ado About Nothing

Shall quips and sentences and these paper bullets of
the brain awe a man from the career of his humour?
No, the world must be peopled. When I said I would
die a bachelor, I did not think I should live till I were married.
-Benedick, Much Ado, Act II, Scene 3

In the summer of 2004, I worked as a part-time Box Office Treasurer at the Public Theater, New York’s largest Off-Broadway Theaters. During that time, they produced “Much Ado About Nothing,” starring Jimmy Smits, at Shakespeare in the Park, which played at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park.

I recall commenting that the show was “a gas.”

For the most part, the production ran smoothly. However, the occasional incident occurred. After every show, a Theater Manager Report was written, summing up the evening’s activity.

Here are two of those Reports that I smuggled out of the Box Office.


Day: Thursday Date: June 24, 2004
Performance: Much Ado About Nothing

Curtain: 8:09p Final: 11:03p
Weather: Clear, 75 degrees, gentle breeze

We had some interesting incidents this evening. A woman patron, before the show, demanded to speak with the person in charge. [The] Theater Manager introduced himself. The woman emphatically demanded that we produce Hamlet in the Delacorte this summer. [Theater Manager] explained that it would not happen this summer, but offered to pass along her suggestion.

She demanded, “You mark my words, you will do Hamlet this summer!” She then offered a litany of famous people and politicians she was friendly with. She seemed rather “touched” and [Theater Manager] advised Security inside the house to keep and eye on her.

Sure enough, once inside the house during seating, the woman demanded a new seat. It seemed she believed the man sitting next to her was an alien. [Theater Manager] entered the house with relocation tickets and offered to move her (close to the gate exit, near security). She insisted she would pick her own seat. [Theater Manager] told her no and she proceeded to look for her own seat just the same. [Theater Manager] followed her and she turned around, called him a “fucking Nazi pig” and proceeded to spit on him several times.

At this point, [Theater Manager] asked the Box Office to call Central Park police. With assistance from 2 security staff, [Theater Manager] was able to coax the woman out of the house.She screamed about Chinese people, Carnegie Hall and Nazis and spat the whole was out. Several other patrons watching the scene applauded [Theater Manager] and Security as they escorted her out. We then cancelled the call for police.


Day: Monday Date: June 27, 2004
Performance: Much Ado About Nothing

Curtain: 8:05p Final: 11:01p
Weather: Breezy, dry and clean with a luscious breeze

The lady who spat and cursed at house staff, mentioned in an earlier report, returned tonight. She was barefoot and wanted entrance without a ticket. We told her no. She then headed to the Belvedere Castle (a quarter mile east of the theater in the Park). A few minutes later, a Hasidic man came down from the castle and told Security that the lady had approached him at the Castle, asked him to disrobe and began to disrobe herself. We called Central Park police and they sent a car.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Randall's & Ward's Island: New York's Dumping Ground

Today, I took my bike, ½ sleeve of graham crackers, and my camera to explore one of New York's dozen islands: Randall’s/Ward’s Island.

This island, formerly two separate islands, is now joined by a landfill and located smack in the middle of the East River. It is separated from Manhattan by the river’s west channel, from Queens by the Hell Gate (a narrow tidal straight and site of the 1904 General Slocum ferry disaster that—up until 9/11—was the worst disaster in NYC history), and from the Bronx by the Bronx Kill (another narrow tidal straight that connects the Harlem River to the East River). Rikers Island, LaGuardia, the NY Post processing facility, and a major ConEd station are just on the northernly and easternly shores.

Nuts and Bolts look like Braille. Don't you think?

Below, sunbathers lie in the shadow of the Triborough Bridge in Astoria Park.

Signs, signs everywhere!

What isn’t on Randall’s Island? Well, residential housing or stores of any kind don’t exist there, but it used to be called “a dumping ground for everything unwanted in New York City.”

Here’s what is on the Island today:

-Manhattan Psychiatric Center (formerly the Manhattan State Hospital/NY City Asylum for the Insane)

-Kirby Forensic Psychiatric Center (for the criminally insane) -255 acres of city parks (thank you, Robert Moses)

-Dozens of Athletic Fields (inhabited by multitudes of Intramural Athletes)

-FDNY Training Academy

-Sewage Treatment Plant

-Random homeless people/junkies lurking in the bushes

-A horse stable

-Many, many families BBQ-ing to the sounds of Reggeaton

-And, a little history research taught me that in the 1880s, hundreds of thousands of bodies were relocated to Ward’s Island from Manhattan cemeteries. Nice!

Above, a Latin family gathers in their minivans around a cluster of tress, just like a pride of lions on the mightly Serengeti. The Hells Gate, the Triborough, and the CitiBank building loom in the background.

Above, this dog was amazing. He loyaly retrieved that huge, huge stick, that his owners kept throwing into the East River, at least a dozen times. Every time he trotted by, I chuckled. Heh heh heh...

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

MEMORY LANE #1: Guiding Light

As I attempt to bring to light (no pun intended) some old stories, it's a great reminder to see where I was and what I was putting myself through (and being put through). It's all part of that life goal to figure out where I'm at now, in order to know where I'm headed.

Anyway, I'm gonna delve into my past correspondences and post the ones I think are worthy. Here's a nice one to get the ball rolling. From an email to the girls...

Date: Monday, November 8, 2004, 11:14am


If someone would kill me right now, I would very much appreciate it.

I am temping at the production office for the Guiding Light. There is such mundane conversation happening all around me that I can only sit in wonder at the way the minds work behind those who create mundane tv for mundane viewers. Sweet!

Here's a small snipit of a conversation from this afternoon:

Lead GL actor (watching backlogged episodes of GL to find a clip to send to NAACP Image Awards, which he was just nominated for because he is half Spanish/half Italian ): I am so ethnic!

Assitant to Executive Producer: I wish I was more ehtnic!

Actor: Just do something funky with your look.

Production Coordinator: Yeah, dye your skin.

Assistant: Uck. I just look so American.

Actor: But you're Jewish.

Assistant: Well, I look so American and so Jewish. How boring!

Actor: Oh! I just bought a Hummer this weekend!

GL Producer: Oh! I want one! I want a yellow one!

For more suicidally ridiculous conversations, just check in with me tomorrow for another episode of "What the Fuck has my Life Come to?" starring me living it up as a temp in the big city.

Keepin' it Real.


Date: Monday, November 8, 2004, 4:45pm


one last thing.

fans call the production line (that i answer, "guiding light, this is meg") and tell us what they think of the show. but no one here cares. a fan called long distance from italy this afternoon and the intern, nicole, answered, then hung up and kept working at the computer. we're like the dead letter office for fans.

then, i answered a call from some fan from the south (i could tell from her accent). she wanted to let me know that today's episode was "the best gl i've seen in years! why, philip has just lost it and harly is hanging on by a thread! wonderful, thanks!" i said proudly, "thanks!" and we hung up.







Date: Monday, November 8, 2004, 10:41pm

This is from My Twin, To Me

Dear Guiding Light, I love your show!

I watch it everyday after I pacify my toddlers with heavy doses of children's cough medicine.

My, my, that exciting Reva-is-a-clone storyline really got me thinking: can this happen to me? Even though I live in the middle of a state where no minorities live, in the middle of a country whose military capabilities are many times stronger than those of it's weaker, evil neighboring countries, I still feel vulnerable to a clone attack. How should I protect myself?

Please write back soon, as I hear the impending march of the Dark Clone Army.


Skipper Johnson

Monday, July 16, 2007

Hitchin' a Ride

"Rock rock Rockaway Beach/
We can hitch a ride to Rockaway Beach/
It's not far/
Not hard to reach/
We can hitch a ride to Rockaway Beach"
- The Ramones

I think Joey and the gang were starting their "ride" in Brooklyn, because I decided to "get out of the city" and spend this past Sunday (one helluva hot windless New York summer day) at the aforementioned beach. I was coming from Northwest Queens, Rockaway Beach is in Southwest Queens: a distance of roughly 12 miles. If you look at the route I laid out on a subway map, I look like a bit of a genius. However, like Communism, it shall forever look better on paper.

The round trip was 4 hours and took 10 trains.

That's right. 10 trains. Going there (2 hours): N to the 7 to the F to the E to two different Air Trains to the A. Going home (2 hours, minus dinner detour to The Burger Joint): A to the L (which wasn't running so I had to wait another 20 mintues for another A) to the F to the N.

Right when I got off the A train, the temperature seemed to drop to a nippy 72 degrees, accompanied by what felt like 20 mph winds. Winds that were moving just fast enough off the Atlantic waves to convert the sand into 1,000 thousands of dagger of pain into soft, exposed "city" legs. I walked past the many red lifeguard flags, rapidly flapping a warning to keep play far from the reaches of the fierce waves, found a debrit-free spot, managed to pin the blanket down and immediatley ate the sandy sandwich that blew in a steady shelf off the Ocean.

Two minutes ticked by and I uttered, hidden under the beach towel that doubled as protection
from the Sirocco I found myself in, "Ready to go home?" Less than an hour later, I was on the train. The good thing is, the cold beach made me really appreciate NOT living near Rockaway. And, I captured some great video of the sea foam shaking in the wind, which is
pretty funny. Not sure how to post that yet...

First Post


I have a blog.

It's true, anyone can get one! I'm not sure why I thought you had to have some technical degree in order to keep one. I bet it helps. But. Well. Here we are.

I guess I'd like to take this initial post to write a little mission statement and take some responsibility for why I am choosing to spill myself all over the internet.

Mission Statement: For why?

First, Grandma Sargent always told me to write stuff down. Even when we were little (after Grandpa would grab my elbow and warn me I had to "get some meat on those bones"), she'd urge me to never forget to write down all our ideas and adventures; that way, when we get older we can look back at all the fun we had. I kept some childhood/adolescent diaries that still get pulled out from under the bed or dusted off from the top shelf of the bookshelf for kicks every once and a while. I have an "adult diary" (not unlike adult diabetes: it takes time to develop), but it's mostly filled with the thoughts I'm trying to keep out of my head so I can sleep, instead of hilarious stories and brilliant ideas. Grandma is still alive, but developed Dementia about a decade ago. I'm not sure if, somewhere deep down, she knew her words would be a premonition, or if it's just really, really ironic advice. Regardless, this one's for you, Grandma.

Next, Dad always asks me if I'm "writing this stuff down". Which, for the most part, I am not; most of the stories I regale he and Mom with are told orally, thus becoming cataloged in the great oral history tradition. Yet, when I am encouraged to retell the one about this or that, I can't quite get all the details correct...because I didn't write it down. So, this one's for you, Dad.

Finally, every once and a while, I get myself into an absurd situation or my eye will frame something in an interesting way that I'd love to be able to share that with a homies, who isn't by my side at that particular moment. I have been awful about sending out emails retelling the stories or forwarding the picture, and I'd like to be better about it. So, this one's for you, homie.

Ok. I think that's about it.


More soon.