Thursday, December 30, 2004

The Morning After

Again with the coat and tie. This time for lunch at the renowned Four Seasons Restaurant. (Only in NYC would the Four Seasons Restaurant and the Four Seasons Hotel be two, unrelated businesses.) Designed by Philip Johnson and housed in the revolutionary Seagram Building, I had one of the all-time great lunches today. Humbly describing itself as “America’s Premier Restaurant” – this actually may not be an overstatement.

Though I was seated in the “less desirable” Pool Room, I was treated like a King. I loved the way the room was perfectly designed to see who else was eating there. No wonder Esquire Magazine coined the term “power lunch” to describe the daily ritual at the Four Seasons.

I went way out on the culinary edge and ordered a Caesar Salad, Steak and a Baked Potato. Very daring. Desert was an excellent “Velvet Chocolate Cake” that even my chocoholic friend, Cary Davidson, would approve of. (Cary, tell them to hold the strawberries.)

I was so taken by lunch that I actually bought the book telling the 40 year history of the restaurant. Fortunately, the captain put the book and a lovely carrying bag discreetly on the seat next to me, rather than on the table, so I didn’t look like a TOTAL tourist.

This afternoon I saw “Little Women – the Musical” which is currently in previews. It was very enjoyable and Sutton Foster turns in another dazzling performance, as a follow-up to her Tony winning turn in “Thoroughly Modern Mille. (I saw her brother, Hunter Foster, currently starring in “The Producers” hanging out on a sidewalk talking to some folks last night. I really like the idea of a bother and sister both starring on Broadway at the same time.) Maureen McGovern as Marmee is wonderful and sings as beautifully as ever.

“Little Women” could win the Tony for Best New Musical next summer. (When I saw “Hairspray” in Seattle in June of 2002 I KNEW it was going to win the Tony the following summer. I called folks during intermission to tell them so.) I don’t feel as strongly about Little Women’s chances – but it’s possible.

The battle over public behavior continues. During intermission I had to let the woman across the aisle from me know how loud her constant knuckle-cracking was (at least she apologized and stopped.) Then I watched the House Matron tell a bunch of teenagers in the front row to take their feet down from the partition between them and the orchestra. She finished by telling them, “We’re on Broadway!” in the most disgusted voice I’ve ever heard. I gave her a “Well Done” as she walked triumphantly by.

Back on the subway I made the mistake of entering the station on the Uptown side of the tracks when I wanted to go Downtown. The only way to get to the other side at 8th and 50th is to go back upstairs, cross the street and re-enter the station on the other side. I pleaded my case that I shouldn’t have to pay twice to the guy in the tollbooth. You can imagine how well that went. He didn’t seem to agree with my advice that they should improve their signage. So I guess this story cost me about 30 cents a sentence. Maybe I should have told him I know Vinnie Noto.

In the evening I saw “Twelve Angry Men,” an excellent play about jury deliberations over a murder case. Great acting, gripping drama and a crackerjack production means “Twelve Angry Men” will win the 2005 Tony for Best New Play. And Philip Bosco will win the Tony for Best Actor in a Play – although this is such an ensemble piece that it’s a little unfair to single out one particular performance. Fair, shmair – he’s going to win.

My New York trip was capped off with a great dinner with my friends Cliff Smith and Dan Conrad at Diner 24 in Chelsea. This new restaurant features upscale comfort food (I had the turkey dinner.) It’s a fun place and a nice way to end my visit.

Tomorrow I’m going from NYC to South Florida via Los Angeles. Don’t ask. So this is probably my last entry in ’04. Happy New Year to everyone. See you in ’05.

They Stand Alone

Put on a coat and tie for lunch yesterday at the famed restaurant "21." I recently read an article about the Washroom Attendant at 21 being one of the best in the NYC. He didn't disappoint. His patter went something like this:

"Hello, young man...I don't even remember being as young as you are...You see, I crossed the Red Sea with Moses...I knew Adam...I warned him about Eve...I said the same thing to Kobe...Did either of them listen?" Hilarious! Oh, lunch was real good too.

Saw two one-person shows yesterday -- Billy Crystal's "700 Sundays" in the afternoon and "Whoopi" in the evening.

700 Sundays is about Crystal's relationship with his Mother and Father and family of characters. It's good, but dragged on. At one point the audience thought it was over and stood for a standing ovation but Crystal silenced the crowd because there was "more." Oy!

Whoppi's show actually had signs posted outside the theater warning the audience that the show contains "strong political satire." Hello! Are we such a nation of idiots that that's really necessary. (Probably, yes.) Well, Whoopi let it rip from the get-go and I loved it. It was very political and Whoppi had the adoring audience in the palm of her hand. Yesterday's New York Times reported her show was having trouble selling tickets. Last night's show, at least, looked sold-out to me. I like the symmetry that this show is presented in the same theater, the Lyceum, as her original star-making show 20 years ago.

(The Lyceum is also famous because the original owner of the theater had an apartment above the auditorium with a secret peephole looking towards the stage. He used to reach through and wave a hankie at his wife when she was overacting on stage.)

Dinner was at "Nanni" on the recommendation of Karen Kapler and Joe Schneider -- it's one of their NYC favorites. My dinner was excellent and the tiramasu was THE BEST I've ever had.

But "the cherry" for the day was meeting Renee and Harvey Rose for a drink at Sardi's after the theater. They'd been in Baltimore for a family wedding and came up to see "Avenue Q." Renee's been taking some medication and reported that she slept through the first act, but really liked the second one. That's kind of ironic because from what I've heard, it's normally Harvey who takes the $80 nap.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Christmas Still in the Air?

Went to Brooklyn yesterday for lunch at the famous Peter Luger Steakhouse. It was pretty good. More of a “working stiff” steakhouse than you find in Manhattan. It’s also been around for more than 100 years.

After the war my Grandparents lived in Brooklyn where my Mother was born. I wonder if they ever ate at Peter Luger? Maybe for a special occasion.

Even though I’m in NYC, I’m still working on seeing Golden Globe nominated movies. On Monday I saw “Vera Drake,” which is about underground abortions in London during the 40s and 50s. An excellent movie.

Then yesterday I saw “The Sea Inside,” about a quadriplegic who seeks permission from the Spanish government to kill himself. It’s a good movie, but not exactly light holiday fare.

In the evening I saw “Night, Mother,” about a daughter (Edie Falco) who tells her mother (Brenda Blethyn) that she’s going to commit suicide within the next two hours (hint: the show runs about 90 minutes long.) Again, with the holiday cheer.

Maybe I need to go see the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular……

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

The Cold Slap of Reality

Every now and then I get wrapped up in a fantasy of how great it would be to live in New York City. Then I come here and it's 18 degrees and I remember -- THAT'S why I live in Southern California.

But I don't mind the cold when I'm visiting -- because I know at the end of the week I get to get on an airplane and leave it behind. I had enough of living through 4 months of winter when I was in DC.

Had a great dinner last night at Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse. I had a little trouble finding the restaurant and stepped into the Fox News Building for help. Fortunately, the directions they gave me were "fair and balanced."

Del Frisco's has a great view of Sixth Avenue at the south end of Rockefeller Center. I was starting to think it was a little too touristy, but then I saw former Mets manager Bobby Valentine coming in as I was leaving so I figure that's a pretty good endorsement. (It may not be the same as seeing Tommy Lasorda coming in to eat, in which case you know you're in for a fine meal.)

Caught the revival of Stephen Sondheim's "Pacific Overtures" last night. It's a musical about the tension between Japanese isolationism and Western commercialism. The conclusion that they beat us at our own game seems pretty sound to me. But it's not my favorite Sondheim musical. (That would be "Follies.")

Monday, December 27, 2004

Katz's -- Now and Forever

Had a great pastrami sandwich yesterday at Katz's Deli on the Lower East Side. Katz's (that's how they spell it) has been open since 1888 as is famous for two things:

1) Their slogan "Senda Salami to Your Boy in the Army." (Senda is one word)

2) This is where they filmed the "I'll have what she's having" scene from "When Harry Met Sally."

Their business practices haven't seemed to change much since the nineteenth century. Upon entry you're given a little pink ticket. Then you go from counter to counter getting what you want. Pastrami sandwich? Over there. You want potato salad? Over there. Chicken Noodle Soup? Over there. A soda? Over there.

All the while your trundling a little tray carrying all the items you've ordered while fighting the crowd and trying to snag a seat. (Was this where the word "schlep" was created?) The food is great and it's all worth it.

I saw the matinee performance of Michael Fryn's new play "Democracy" which examines Willie Brandt's time as the Prime Minister of West Germany. It's an intriguing play that has less to do with German politics and more about the universal qualities of democratically elected leaders, why they are who they are, what we expect of them and what that does.

I had an excellent seat -- front row in the center. I normally like sitting as close as I can, but yesterday I found myself obsessing over questions not related to the play.

For instance, Why is the right leg of Richard Thomas' costume business suit hemmed a full one inch higher than his left leg? Lazy tailor or costumers trick? (Since his was the only costume so-hemmed I decided L.T.)

Why does James Naughton's right thumb have a band-aid? (Unanswered mystery.)

What's going to happen when one actor pouring a glass of wine misses the glass and pours it over the other actor's hand? (The other actor wipes it off on his properly hemmed pants.)

Then I saw the evening performance of the revival of "La Cage aux Folles." I have to admit I was dubious about seeing it. I was worried that it would be dated and full of stereotypes. I was blown away. It's a lavish production and the show is more relevant than ever. Strong performances all around -- and great choreography.

It snowed last night. Not much, just enough to be pretty. It reminds me of the powdered sugar on my Aunt Helen's Christmas Cookies.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Do You Know Who I Think I Am?

It's 21 degrees in New York City! That's a real shock to my Southern California, weather-baby system. But at least it was dry out tonight -- so it's not so bad.

Saw Mario Cantone's (Anthony Marentino on Sex and the City) show "Laugh Whore" tonight. It's hilarious, with Mario's rapid-fire neurosis well on display. Most touching on Christmas Night were his stories about his crazy Italian family from Boston and how they celebrated the holidays.

Not too long ago I saw Cantone in "The Crumple Zone" where he famously wrestled a Christmas tree to the ground -- so tonight seemed like an appropriate night to go.

I figured out today that by the end of this week I will have spent 3 months (literally 90 nights) staying in Hilton Hotels this year. My room at the Millenium Hilton is perfectly fine -- but not befitting a guest who has spent one night out of four staying with this hotel chain this year.

Obviously, they do not think I am as important as I do.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Vote Early and Often

I've now seen the 6 movies nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture -- Drama, so it's time to vote:

* The Aviator
* Closer
* Finding Neverland
* Hotel Rwanda
* Kinsey
* Million Dollar Baby

Other than "Closer," I liked them all. But "Million Dollar Baby" gets my vote (actually my pretend vote since I'm not one of the 92 voting members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association). But this is my blog, so I get to vote.

It's a touching, gripping story with Major League performances turned in by Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman and Hillary Swank.

Watching the girl-vs.-girl boxing scenes was a bit tough, but there's much more to the movie than that.

Also tonight I saw the preview for the new"Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" starring Johnny Depp for the first time. I can't wait until it comes out next summer. That was one of my favorite childhood books. It was only topped by "James and the Giant Peach" by the same author, Rohl Dahl.

Christmas Flicks

Enjoyed seeing "Hotel Rwanda" last night. It's the gripping look at the 1994 war between the Hutus and the Tutsis in Rwanda. Don Cheadle gives an amazing performance. But Jamie Foxx is still going to win the Best Actor Oscar.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

It's All About the Ticks

Saw "The Aviator" tonight in San Francisco. Martin Scorsese's new film traces Howard Hughes' long and slow descent into mental illness. Emphasis on "slow."

And now I've seen enough close-up shots of long fingernails and toenails to last me a lifetime.

But, I got 6 ticks on my Golden Globe list -- so I'm happy.

Monday, December 20, 2004

The Land of Limited Options

Working on seeing the list of Golden Globe nominated movies, I completely expected to go see "The Aviator" tonight. So you can imagine my surprise when I figured out it's not showing in Sacramento (where I'm spending the night) yet.

So instead I saw "The Incredibles" which is nominated for Best Motion Picture -- Musical or Comedy. It's cute. But most importantly, it's another checkmark on my list.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

We Want a Spectacular Spectacular

Enjoyed seeing Jon Robin Baitz' new play "The Paris Letter" this afternoon at the new Kirk Douglas Theater in Culver City. It's about a successful man's unsuccessful attempt to suppress his homosexuality in New York City during the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s.

Ron Rifkin is great in the lead role. And Neil Patrick Harris turns in a fine performance as well. (Now I know why he was hanging around this theater when I was there a month ago.)

During one of the two intermissions I spotted Bob Balaban (Gosford Park, A Mighty Wind and Best In Show).

It'll be interesting to see how this show does in New York next year. Much has been written about the difficulty so-called "straight plays" recently have had selling tickets on Broadway.

Nowadays audiences seem to want to be wowed by a musical spectacular that includes a large object coming at them from the stage (chandelier, dragon, Audrey II, flying car, helicopter, little boy who won't grow up, etc.)

I'm afraid Doogie's nude scene might not cut it.

Too Dull for Comfort

Last night I endured "Les Miserables" -- the world's most boring musical -- at Hollywood's Pantages Theater. The music is repetitive, the story uninspired and the staging is dusty.

Having seen both "Urinetown" and "Forbidden Broadway" make fun of "Les Mis'" overuse of the on-stage turntable, it was hard not to chuckle when they sang "Turning" while the mighty turntable spun.

Even Dame Edna calls the audience in the Mezzanine her "Mezzies."

I certainly was miserable -- so I guess you can call the show's title "truth in advertising."

But the evening was saved when I saw Jm J. Bullock at the grocery store. I'm going out of town today, so shopping at 11:30 on a Saturday night was my only option. What's his excuse?

Friday, December 17, 2004

Working On My To-Do List

With the Golden Globe nominations out I've been busy this week seeing nominated movies. I don't think I'll get to see all of them before I leave the country, but I want to get as far down the list as I can. Here's what I saw this week:

Closer -- I liked it better as a play. It was more shocking as live theater, but I still don't get the point.

Finding Neverland -- A touching, sweet movie. It was all the better because I saw "Peter Pan" for the first time last month.

Ray -- Great music (of course). And I learned a lot about Ray Charles' career. I'm really glad I got to see him perform at the Hollywood Bowl a couple of summers ago.

Kinsey -- They did a good job of dramatizing an academic story. And I enjoyed the cameos by Jeffrey Epperson (aka Lypsinka) and Jonathan Mays, the star of "I Am My Own Wife."

But the best movie I saw this week -- Pedro Almodovar's "Bad Education" didn't even get a nomination. As Julie Andrews would say, it was "egregiously overlooked."

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Nice Chattin' With Ya!

Went by the Brazilian Consulate this afternoon to pick-up my Entry Visa (which only took them a month to process!)

The Consulate is located in the Flynt Publications Office Tower in Beverly Hills. Despite what you might think of their named tenant, it's actually a pretty nice building.

Anyway, as I was dropping off my car at the valet I noticed Larry Flynt being helped into his car. He was actually pretty easy to spot. How often do you see a Bentley Limousine with a gold-plated wheelchair next to it and a guard standing in front?

Larry Flynt's been on my mind for much of the past year. Nearly every speech I gave during the No on 68 campaign cited him as the Evil Mastermind behind the initiative, which would have placed 1,000 slot machines at his Hustler Casino along with other card clubs and race tracks throughout the state.

I really wanted to ask Larry for his analysis of why his initiative only got 16% of the vote in one of the worst trouncings of any measure in the nearly 100-year history of initiatives in California.

Sadly, by the time I was out of my car Larry was all packed-up in the passenger seat and his car was moving. I waved at him as he went by. But I didn't get a thumbs up or even a glance. He just sort of stared straight ahead like a drugged-out zombie.

Now I wish I still had my No on 68 sticker on my bumper. I could have at least pointed to it whilst waving.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Putting My Best Foot Forward

Had a nice time last night at the annual Wheelspinners Party at the Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. It was fun seeing so many familiar faces at this annual gathering of Southern California political types. I can't say I get the same charge out of it as the first time I went when I was 18-years old. But since I've only missed it twice in the last 23 years (once for a college final and once when I was living in DC) it's clear I always enjoy going.

I was most impressed to see journalist Lou Cannon at the party. I've never noticed him at one before. But given the Spencer - Roberts/Ronald Reagan connection, Cannon is a natural to attend.

Then I caught a late night flight to Sacramento and really pissed-off the guy sitting next to me when I asked him to put his bag under his own feet rather than mine. I mean the guy just flew off the handle. I didn't lose my cool, but I didn't back down either. And, yes, I got my legroom back.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Quiet Back There

Saw "The School for Scandal" tonight at the Mark Taper Forum. Written in 1777, the play skewers society's fascination with gossip and the troubles of others. While the topic remains timely, the show unfortunately, does not.

Sadly, I had a loud breather in my left ear and a gum popper in my right ear. I'm so glad the Klawdiddlehopper Family had a night out on the town.

Friday, December 10, 2004

A Wrinkle-Free Flight

Flew home today from SFO sitting across the aisle for former Secretary of State Warren Christopher. It was hard not to notice that even though it was the end of the day, Christopher was perfectly dressed without a crease or wrinkle anywhere.

It was actually the second time I've been with him on an airplane and once I saw him at the grocery store. It's a little bizarre seeing the former head diplomat of the United States pushing his cart down Aisle 7.

Several passengers recognized him on the airplane today, but I watched him as he walked undisturbed through the concourse at LAX, pulling his rollerboard with one hand and carrying his briefcase in the other.

I wonder if he realizes that four years ago from this coming Sunday the Supreme Court overturned the Florida Supreme Court and elected George Bush as president.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

The Sports Arena Becomes a Dog House

It's a little hard to imagine USC having to "gear up" to play the Fresno State Bulldogs in basketball. But with USC's intense coach, Henry Bibby, being fired two days ago, only four games into the season, the program is having a tough time right now.

You can imagine how happy the Fresno State Fans, known as "The Dog Pound," were when their team won tonight 71 to 68. It was a good game, and now the Trojans are underway with the next phase of their program -- which will include a new arena across the street from campus in two years.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

No Serenity for Bruins

Yesterday the USC Trojans defeated the UCLA Bruins 29 to 24 in one of the all-time great football games. With the mighty Trojans coming into the game ranked Number One in the country, with the opportunity to play for the National Championship at the Orange Bowl on the line, the stakes were high.

It's the only football game I've ever been to where the fans (all of them) stood for the entire game. The Trojans dominated from the start with a touchdown on the game's second play. But they never ran away with it.

My seats were right by the Trojan Band and I had a great view of our quarterback Matt Leinart, and Reggie Bush who rushed for 204 yards, conducting the band during the victory celebration.

What an afternoon! And my favorite Bruin, Debbie Calvo, gets to buy me lunch yet again.

Celebrity Sighting: Saw Jerry Stiller in the audience of "Paint Your Wagon" at the Brentwood Theater. I held my self back from rushing up to him during intermission to yell, "Serenity Now!"

The show wasn't very good. But most productions by the Geffen Playhouse aren't very good. But "They Call the Wind Mariah" is a pretty song.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Yes, I'm Coming At You

I cut it a little close last night catching my 7:54 p.m. flight from Oakland to LAX after the Junior Statesmen Foundation Board of Trustees meeting.

I guess the first bad sign was when the automatic check-in machines switched off as I was walking up to one when the clock clicked from 7:30 to 7:31.

I hadn't really been too concerned about being late because I figured I could simply take the next flight out. Imagine my shock when I found out the 7:54 flight was the last United flight out of Oakland ANYWHERE!

Of course, the desk agent told me it was too late to check-in. I asked to speak to a supervisor. She talked to the supervisor and he told her no. I asked to SPEAK to the supervisor. So she called and told me he'd be right out. I waited one minute and then expressed my concern that he was going to wait until after the flight had left to come out. So she called him again and at that point I got my boarding pass (7:40).

I rushed to security to find a LONG line. There's no way I would make it if I waited in the line. So I had to sweet-talk my way into the front of the line. I was a little shocked at how nice and understanding the people at the front of the line were. (Note to self: Remember that the next time someone asks to get in front of me at security.)

I was through security by 7:45 -- 9 minutes to go. But I still had to get to my gate before they closed the door. At this point I humped it through the crowded concourse running full-speed straight ahead. You should have seem some of the looks people's faces when they saw me coming right at them. But I'll tell you what: they got out of my way.

I made it on the plane in time to see them move someone in coach into "my" seat upfront. But I didn't care -- I made it.

And, best of all, I saved $100 over flying out of SFO.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Bette Midler is a Sit Down Concert

Really loved Bette Midler's concert last night at the Arrowhead Pond in Orange County.

But you know you have an aging fan base when I'm one of the youngest people in the audience.

The Divine Miss M didn't shy away from political comments even though she was behind the Orange Curtain, at one point commenting, "this sure is a Blue audience for such a little Red county."

Delores DeLargo, the mermaid freak-show performer who just wants to star on Broadway, was back as was the salty mouthed, elderly Soph. The dirty jokes were funny, but what is it about a perfectly-timed rim-shot that makes comedy even funnier?

Bette made her entrance by flying in on an aerial carousel horse. Very cool.

Midler was surprised near the end of the show with a birthday cake and a celebration of her birthday. I was glad to learn that today really is her birthday. Not that I'm cynical, but I assumed that every concert was "on" her birthday so the audience would feel like they had witnessed something special.

But the biggest relief was that the audience sat down during the show. My days of happily standing through a concert are behind me. Other than during "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" my fellow-concertgoers stayed seated -- loving the show -- but seated.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

When Irish Eyes Are Crying

The Number One ranked USC Trojans defeated the Irish of Notre Dame tonight 41 to 10. Only one more game stands between the Trojans and an invitation to the National Championship Orange Bowl Game -- next Saturday's game against UCLA at the Rose Bowl.

Tonight's game was the wettest game I've ever been to at the Coliseum. But even though it rained off and on throughout the entire game, very few of the 92,000 fans on hand left early (other than a few Irish fans who I figured would consider this a pleasant evening compared to the late November weather in South Bend.)

It actually rained hard enough I wished I was wearing a poncho. But I made do without.

The Irish football program clearly is suffering a loss of spirit over the last few years. They didn't bring any members of their band along for the trip. (At least two years ago they invited the local Notre Dame High School band to play their fight song.) And this year the student dressed up as a leprechaun was the lamest I've ever seen. He just sulked up and down the in front of the Irish section and didn't dance a single jig. What does it say about a team when even the mascot's not excited about them?

A New Perspective

Enjoyed seeing Tony Kushner's new musical "Caroline, or Change" at the Ahmanson Theater last night.

I originally saw this show when I was in NYC to attend the Tony Awards. I was part of a group of five seeing the show in June. Unfortunately, I was the only one of the five who enjoyed it.

And seeing it for the second time tonight (with apologies to Renee and Myrna who REALLY disliked it in June) I enjoyed it even more. The struggle of two broken families -- one white and one black -- is very touching.

The lead actress, Tonya Pinkins', voice was even stronger tonight than in June. And Anika Noni Rose, who won a Tony for Best Featured Actress in a Musical, proved herself as deserving as ever.

But I think the real reason I enjoyed it even more was, after six years, I finally got new eyeglasses this week. It really makes a difference when you can see the actors on stage.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Anteaters Anonymous

Saw the Trojan men's basketball team rout the UC Irvine Anteaters tonight, 90 to 70. That's a good way to start the season. The Trojans started out slow, but poured it on in the second half.

The Los Angeles Sports Arena remains a dump and it's embarrassing the Trojans have to play there. I'm glad to see USC has started moving some dirt where they're going to build a new Events Center -- which will be the new home court for the mighty Trojans. Can't wait until it opens in 2006 (supposedly).

What a Cook!

Enjoyed seeing Barbara Cook, who originated the role of Marian the Librarian in The Music Man, in concert last night at the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

It was my first visit to Disney Hall and I was very impressed. It's beautiful and the acoustics are wonderful.

Cook was sublime. Her voice is as beautiful as ever and she told some wonderful stories about her time treading the boards on Broadway.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

A Dog-On Good Time

Saw "Peter Pan" at the Pantages Theater last night. Cathy Rigby was impressive in the lead role. Her gymnast background certainly showed in her moves while flying above the stage. And they certainly didn't stint on the glitter he/she threw when flying.

But how have I grown up in America and missed the part about the kids' nanny being a dog? What's up with that?

Saturday, November 20, 2004

What Did She Say?

Spent all day yesterday at the Los Angeles County Criminal Courts Building -- for a good reason: Jury Duty. I'm so happy Los Angeles County has finally adopted the One Day/One Trial system of Jury Duty. I spent all day sitting in the Jury Assembly Room without being put on a panel -- but in one day I met my Jury Duty responsibilities.

And of course the people-watching opportunities were great. Most notable was the young woman who sat next to me talking on her cellphone during one set of "complicated" instructions from our supervisor. When the announcement was over the young woman asked me, "What did she say?" I suggested she go to the counter and find out for herself because they said a lot. This prompted another phone call to her boyfriend, when she got back, about how rude they were at the counter when she asked them to repeat what they had just said.

My guess is she was also talking through the announcement at the beginning of the day about not using your cellphone in the Jury Assembly Room.

The best part about being downtown was I got to have lunch at one of my favorite places, Phillipe, for a french dip sandwich. They are one of two downtown restaurants that claim to have invented the french dip.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Walking the Doogie

Celebrity Sighting: Yesterday I saw Neil Patrick Harris walking outside of a Starbucks in Culver City. I was in Culver City to see the opening production, "A Perfect Wedding," at the brand new Kirk Douglas Theater. The Center Theater Group did a great job on turning a classic movie theater into a legitimate stage auditorium. And I enjoyed the show which played with a lot of taboos to make its point.

Friday, November 12, 2004

The Dry Spell Ends

Finally! A Celebrity Sighting to report from here in LaLa Land. It's been a bit of a dry spell lately. Well tonight at my local grocery store I saw Alec Mapa at one of the check-out stands. Mapa is best known (I didn't say widely known) for starring opposite Jason Bateman in the TV sitcom "One of My Best Friends." I didn't think to look at what he was buying. Elizabeth Taylor and I would have looked.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

I'm Still Here Too

Enjoyed seeing "Side by Side by Sondheim" last night at the Pasadena Playhouse. Listening to this compilation of pre-1977 Stephen Sondheim songs I couldn't help but think about the great productions of Sondheim shows I've seen over the years.

"Follies" a couple of years ago in New York with Blythe Danner crushing my heart as "Sally." Bernadette Peters last year as Mama Rose in "Gypsy" reminding us all to "sing out, Louise." A really wonderful production earlier this year of "Company" by Reprise. Carol Burnett singing "Getting Married Today" in "Putting It Together" at the Mark Taper Forum. Sitting in the Founders Circle at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion to see "A Little Night Music" this past summer. The troubled "Bounce" at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC that never did make it to Broadway -- so far, anyway.

And how many great renditions of "I'm Still Here" have I heard over the years? Polly Bergan in "Follies" in NYC. Elaine Stritch in her one-woman show both in NYC and here in LA. Teri Ralston, who appeared in the original productions of both "Company" and "A Little Night Music" belted it out last night. I only wish I could have seen Yvonne de Carlo sing it in the original production of "Follies." I used to only know of her as Lily from "The Munsters" but now I've learned there was so much to her career (and much more to be proud of).

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Da Mayor?

Spotted Los Angeles City Councilmember (and Mayoral Candidate) Antonio Villaraigosa having lunch today at Langer's -- the best Jewish deli in Los Angeles.

Evelyn -- our favorite crazy, Scottish waitress -- reports Villaraigosa is a good tipper and she'd happily vote for him for Mayor next year.

As GeezBob pointed out, if Villaraigosa ever wants to run for Mayor of Glendale he'll have at least one vote.

The Permanent Campaign

Flying home from Sacramento yesterday I was seated next to State Senator (and soon to be Assemblywoman) Betty Karnette. Tuesday was a good day for Karnette -- she won her race for the State Assembly in a tight contest against a former Republican legislator. I guess I expected her to be tired and relieved her campaign was over. But she was as peppy as ever and actually seemed disappointed the campaign had come to an end. She's clearly a natural.

Karnette pointed out that Assemblyman-elect Mike Gordon was seated across the isle from us. (There must have been a freshmen orientation in Sacramento.) Gordon, the former Mayor of El Segundo, is one of the lead critics of the expansion of LAX. I didn't have a chance to ask him if he's against the plans for LAX shouldn't he stop flying into it?

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Another Sweet Victory!

Last night Proposition 68 went down to a smashing defeat -- losing by 83.7% of the vote. All 58 of California's counties voted to oppose 68. In fact, our "worst" county opposed 68 by 73% of the vote.

Sounds like there is other political news today as well. I guess I need to catch up with the newspaper.

My elation of Prop. 68's defeat was lessened a little today when I realized I'm one General Election away (2006) from the 30 year anniversary of the first election I volunteered on. I remember riding my 5-speed, red Schwin bicycle to check voter turnout at the polls in Pacific Palisades, followed by an exciting Election Night party.

We had a few young people at our Election Night party at the Sacramento Sheraton. I don't know if any of them will be working on political campaigns in 30 years. But I hope we threw an Election Night bash they'll remember fondly.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

My Pen, I Am

Yesterday's 6 a.m. appearance in Santa Maria on KSMA's Doug and Hoot show went well. Doug and Hoot were kind to me, Hoot especially.

For this on-the-air election forum, their show was broadcast from a meeting room in the historic Santa Maria Inn, in downtown Santa Maria. Apparently the Santa Maria Rotary has met at this hotel since 1922.

They invited a local elected official to join in the questioning of their guests discussing various issues on the ballot. I couldn't tell if she was playing Devil's Advocate or not, but she gave me a tough time. She wanted to know, since they have an Indian casino in Santa Barbara County, what's wrong with spreading casinos throughout the rest of the state. After my first answer, she said I hadn't answered her question and asked it again.

After our exchange as I was leaving, you can imagine my surprise when the local elected official asked if she could have my pen. (She had been trying to make do with a thick-tipped Marks-A-Lot pen.) I told her she should have thought of that before she hassled me on the air.

OK, not really. So I spent the rest of the day reaching for the pen that no longer existed in my pocket. I'm a creature of habit. I always carry a pen. I always carry a hanky. For twenty years I carried a pocket comb. I guess I finally accepted being folliclly-challenged when I didn't buy a new one after I lost my last pocket comb a few years ago.

Where does that little charge I get come from when a sales clerk offers me a pen to sign for something and I'm standing there -- Bob Dole-like -- with my own pen ready to sign?

Fortunately, I now have a new pen and am ready to face the day.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Not Like a Virgin

I'm spending tonight in San Luis Obispo to be in place for a 6 a.m. (oy!) interview tomorrow morning on the radio in Santa Maria.

I had a late lunch at the coffee shop at the venerable Madonna Inn. The M.I.'s kitschy decorative style remains in full display. (They're famous for their uniquely decorated rooms, like the Stone Age Room, the Valentine Room, etc.) The men's urinal where the water runs automatically (which was amazing in the 70s) still works. Since Alex Madonna recently passed away, I don't know how much longer the Madonna Inn will remain open. Seems like our culture is trending towards "sameness" in our experiences -- how different is one Starbucks from another? How much longer will the quirky decorations at the Madonna Inn pull travelers off the freeway. They may stop by for a nostalgic visit -- but will they stay there?

I remember visiting the Madonna Inn with my parents when I was little. Back then they had a few buffalo in a stable on display. I was terrified when my Father wanted to open the sliding glass door in the back of our room for some fresh air. I knew the buffalo would get out and come and get us! I don't remember exactly what I did, but I know the sliding glass door remained closed. And that was the last night I slept at the Madonna Inn.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Oops...I Did It Again

Another early morning today -- this time for a 6:30 a.m. (!) interview on The Beat 100.3 FM, L.A.'s leading hip-hop station. I like the way the host, The Poetist, introduced me twice with, "Ted Green is in the house." I don't know how many listeners there were up at that hour -- but they all heard my key points against Prop. 68.

After two very early mornings this weekend, maybe I'll sleep in until 7 tomorrow.

Celebrity Sighting: Britney Spears was hanging out on the sidelines yesterday at the USC vs. Washington football game. (The Trojans shut out the Huskies 38 to nuttin'.) They kept putting her picture on Jumbotron and she'd act like she didn't want to be noticed. But she certainly didn't try moving away from the cameras and then exited the long way through the stands causing a little bit of a commotion. I would say she's at 14:30 on the 15-minute stopwatch of fame.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Keeping Up With the Joneses

Up early this morning -- this time for a breakfast speech to the California State NAACP convention in Sacramento on Proposition 68. I did my best to be lively -- even got some laughs from the crowd.

I'm just glad I didn't have to follow their President, Alice Huffman, who got most of the crowd on their feet with her stirring defense of the economic justice of Indian Gaming which crescendoed with her declaration, "if they were sovereign when they were poor, then they are sovereign when they are rich!" It was a relief to have already made my presentation -- because I know I would have been a "whimper" to her "bang."

Celebrity Sighting: At breakfast I sat next to former California Secretary of State and current U.S. Senate candidate Bill Jones. He also addressed the breakfast. (Boxer is the luncheon speaker.) With the current sad state of his campaign it was hard for me to come up with much small talk beyond, "you must be real busy these days." He seemed happy to sit silently and stew, anyway.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Crossing All the Ts in China

I stopped by the Chinese Consulate this morning to request a visa for my trip in January to Shanghai. The woman behind the window (she didn't look like a Godless Communist) was concerned that I was requesting a visa too early. She explained you have to enter China within three months of receiving it. We did the calendar math together and she relented.

It felt a little odd leaving my passport behind for "processing." But I have a reciept in Chinese -- so I guess I can rest easy that it'll be there when I go back next week.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Don't Spit On Me From Your Rooftop

Since the Dodgers won the National League Western Division, Dave Fogarty had to take me to lunch today and I got to pick the restaurant. I'd heard about the Carnellian Room which I thought used to be the Executive Dining Room at the top of the former headquarters of Bank of America in downtown San Francisco.

It turns out the Executive Dining Room was on the 51st floor and the 52nd floor is the Carnellian Room at night, but during the day it's the down-on-it's-luck Bankers Club of San Francisco. Apparently they've recently opened their doors to the public during the day.

As you can imagine -- the view is spectacular. But when Dave and I were shown to the worst table in the place, Dave asked for one with a better view. It was then the maitre'd, with his nose held high, informed us we were stinking up a private club and the best views were for members only.

Well, we still had a nice lunch and I was pleased to see the "best" tables remained vacant throughout lunch -- producing no revenue for the club. (And the truth be told, the view was pretty amazing from where we were sitting.)

Celebrity Sighting: It was nice seeing former California Assembly Republican Leader Carol Hallett on my flight home to LAX. Mrs. Hallett reports she is semi-retired, but continues to work two days a week for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Of course, I'll always remember her for her 1982 campaign for Lieutenant Governor when, at every campaign stop, she tormented her primary opponent Marz Garcia with the fact she was leading in the polls, "5 to 1."

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Bridging the North-South Divide

A personal first today: I attended both the Los Angeles City Council meeting and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors meeting. The L.A. City Council voted unanimously to oppose Proposition 68. And the S.F. Board listened to my plea to pass a similar resolution next week.

It's raining in California -- so the flight up was very turbulent. Personally, I like it when it's bumpy. It seems more dramatic.

Had dinner tonight at one of my favorite San Francisco restaurants -- Original Joe's on Taylor Street. The City (as people from San Francisco modestly call it) seems to have several "Original" Joe's -- but this one is the real McCoy.

In fact, Jack McDowell's WW II -era Pulitzer Prize winning article about the revolutionary delivery of blood from the Bay Area to the battlefront describes one soldier's plan to have a hamburger steak at Original Joe's on Taylor Street after the war was over.

I hope he made it -- I know he had a good meal if he did.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

When It Rains It Pours

USC trounced Arizona State 45 to 7 this afternoon. What a great game! Everyone loves a winner. I was blown away at how many people were on campus before kick-off. And as my friend, Greg Gloede, said "they all have an extra bounce in their step."

After the game I dashed off to be a guest on Barbara Simpson's KSFO radio show -- the Babe in the Bunker. I guess the show went well -- Barbara asked me to stay on 15 minutes longer then the original 60 minutes.

In order to make this live radio show after the Trojans football game I used a room at the Hilton Checkers hotel in downtown Los Angeles. Sadly, I can't recommend this hotel for visitors to L.A. I asked for a quiet room -- they put me next to the elevator. I asked for turndown service -- it didn't happen. Their television package doesn't include KTLA -- so I couldn't watch my favorite 10 o'clock news. And while I was impressed with their car service to the Music Center -- you can imagine my reaction to waiting 20 minutes in the pouring rain while waiting for a ride back to the hotel after the show. What are the chances it'd rain in L.A. at the same time I have to wait outside for a ride!

And what did I see at the Music Center? John Kani's touching play Nothing But The Truth -- about a modern day black family in South Africa coming to grips with the aftermath of the country's apartheid policies.

I might have more to write about the three good actors in the show -- except my program is soaked.

Take Me Out...Again

Enjoyed seeing Take Me Out at the Brentwood Theater tonight. Unfortunately, this show has been trimmed down from the three hour, two intermission version I saw at the Donmar Warehouse a couple of years ago in London. The show lost some of its power while being edited to a length suitable to American audiences' short attention spans.

It was nice seeing former colleagues Chris and Kathy Lucker in the audience. It's hard to believe I left the Dolphin Group 20 years ago this December to move to Washington, D. C.

Celebrity Sighting: Thanks to GeezBob for spotting Terence Stamp having dinner alone at the counter at the Daily Grill in Brentwood. I would have noticed him if he had been wearing his Priscilla get-up.

Thursday, October 14, 2004