Holy Shit! I'm going to attempt to run down my last 72 hour whirlwind in New York City. Ready? Here we go...
Wednesday, September 3
My associate Richard and his wife arrive to pick me up at my apartment in Studio City. Things are tense because we're running late. The Mr. Toad's Wild Ride is accompanied (appropriately) by the RNC speech by Sarah Palin. As we hurtle down La Cienega through seedier neighborhoods, she continues with her measured, rehearsed, nasal cadenced diatribe about 'Community Organizers' and Washington status quo and by the time we arrive at the Delta Check in Curb I want to vomit. We make it onto the 9:35PM flight and my plan to sleep instead turns to whiling away several hours playing the s-l-o-w-e-s-t trivia game known to man, which Richard wins. BTW, nothing is free on airplanes anymore. I'm positive that soon they will install pay toilets.
Thursday, September 4
We land, on time at 5:45AM. No sleep. Cab it into the city as the sun comes up and we ruefully realize that this is the very shot we never got in our last movie. About 7:30AM we pull up to the Paramount Hotel at 235 W. 46th St. A 'boutique' type hotel, the lobby is all hammered steel, eclectic seating (a tree stump, really?) and club music. At the check- in desk, under the suitably dimmed lighting, we look at each other and laugh. It feels for all the world like crawling in from an all nighter filled with debauchery. Oooh-Ooooh! I thankfully enter my room. It's the size of one of J-Lo's overflow closets. And it smells like smoke. Richard changes rooms because of this. I decide I don't care because we're only staying here for a few days. We briefly refresh, change clothes and head downstairs to meet our Assistant Director, Dave for breakfast. Next, we meet with Mabel, our broker. Mabel is one of the hardest working, kind and positive people I have ever met. She has diligently scoured the city to find us decent affordable short term housing. 'Affordable' is the fly in the ointment here. Affordable in NYC is not cute. And pictures lie. First stop Bridge Street Apartments on 60th St - in the shadow of the Queensboro Bridge. These are furnished studio apartments in a grouping of pre war buildings. The neighborhood is great. There's a Scores next door - always a plus for crew! We are optimistic. It's short lived. At least for me. All are 4th or 5th floor walk ups - only a few have been refurbished and one building smells like rotting celery. The building's owner condescendingly tells me that when people of different cultures cook there are exotic cooking smells. No culture I know of cooks with rotting celery. We move on. On foot. For blocks and blocks. It's hot. It's Africa hot. And steamy. The fore effects of Hanna. I haven't walked anywhere beyond car to apartment, car to store, car to...you get it. Suddenly I feel like I've been kidnapped by insurgents and am being marched to their cave.
As you can see, there are LOADS of CABS!
Mabel meets us at another building at 38th between 1st and 2nd. Lovely tree lined street. Stretch Limo idling out front. Things are looking up. While we wait for Mabel to join us, we watch as a cab pulls up and a good looking, toned and tan blonde in a short Pucci-esque print dress and CFM stillettos gets out. It's 12 Noon. She carries a small overnight bag. Hands it to the waiting limo driver and slinks into the back of the car. Hmmmm. Hooker. A woman who looks like one of Marge Simpson's sisters, returns to the building with her mangy looking poodle and sneers at us - all sweaty and casually dressed - as if we're indigents. Finally Mabel arrives and we go inside. One shit apartment after another. I'm not kidding. For $3700, $3800 and $4000 per month! Crappy, crappy, crappy. Good Lord. Mabel calls the broker for these gems on speaker phone. Madeline. She sounds as ugly as her apartments look. When Mabel suggests we come by to meet her she says "I don't want to meet them, I don't even want to SEE them!" It makes me want to drive to her office and punch her in the face. Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō!
And then something serendipitous happens. Frederic, another rental agent I'd been having trouble connecting with called me back. We arrange to go and see his building. Mabel feels her commission slipping away. We walk to 650 W. 42nd St. to River Place. Nirvana! Views of the Hudson River, spotless, beautiful apartments for less than the the draconian Madeline is extorting from people. Richard and I refrain from jumping up and down. As I realize that living in this building for the next 2 months is a possibility I want to weep for joy. Frederic is a charming, good looking Frenchman. We talk about the Sarah Palin speech and energy renewal around the globe and I daydream about introducing him to my daughter. It's now 1:45PM. I beg Richard to return to the hotel momentarily so that I can shower (again!) and change (again!) I threaten to hold my breath until we get in a cab. Thank the Lord he agrees. Our driver buys his lunch from a curb side vendor at the red light. The transaction is timed perfectly! It smells heavenly and I wonder why we don't have curb side vendors in L.A. I'd so much rather do that than drive through McDonald's when I'm on the run. We have an appointment in Brooklyn at 3PM with the CPA who is handing over some incorporation paperwork for the single purpose production company we need to have formed to begin doing business on our project.
Slightly refreshed and energized, we head out. We're going to take the subway. I hate to sound like an elitist but I just didn't grow up with public transportation. I'm from L.A. yo! But Richard is an unstoppable force and now he has the carrot of the beautiful River Place apartments to hold over my head. "If we save money on cabs, I can justify the apartments". Dammit. So we head to the subway station near our hotel. We manage to navigate buying a 1 month pass (Jeez, that means there will be more of this????) and after a brief incident with the turnstiles we're off. Richard is a great navigator. Literally, if he were to ditch me, I wouldn't know my way around. I just follow him like he's a guide dog. Although if he ever DID ditch me, I'd just get in a freaking CAB! We find our platform, no problem. We're New Yorkers! HAHAHAHAHA! It's a long ride out to Bensonhurst. It's delicious people watching though. The rhythm of the train is lulling and it's nice to not speak and just watch. New York rolls by through the windows etched with graffiti. I witness small acts of kindness. Mashing cultures - shoulder to shoulder. This city really works. And best of all? The subway cars are air conditioned! We arrive in Bensonhurst over an hour late (our bad, not the subway system's) and I point out that this wouldn't have happened if we'd taken a CAB! It's now almost 5PM and I'm walking around in Bensonhurst in capri pants and flip flops. Seems weird. Bensonhurst was once a bastion of Italians. Now, it's a Russian stronghold. We ask the CPA where all the Italians went. Jersey. He takes us to the local bank to open our business account where a charming Russian woman named Angela took very good care of us. Another person, born elsewhere who came here looking for opportunity and found it. America really is the land of milk and honey. Weird that it takes foreigners to remind us of this. You really can be/do anything you want if you set your mind to it and work your ass off. Now it's after 6PM and we head back to the subway. Another chance to catch my breath and zone out for a bit. Back at the hotel we meet up with another member of our production team, Per. We sit and talk shop while the dance club music chugs away. I have to say, it DOES make it seem like we're having more fun than we are. We decide it's time for dinner since we haven't eaten since 8:30AM excepting a small bag of cashews (between us) on the train. So, I schlep to my postage stamp room to shower (again!) and change (again!). We head down the street one block to a plethora of restaurants. It's still very warm but a bit breezy now. Richard has one vice. Fine dining and fine wine. He doesn't do drugs, he doesn't gamble, he's no fashionista - so this is his thing. We peruse the menus and then the wine lists of several places, several times. I'm about to pass out. He settles on Joe Allen's where we have a tasty dinner. I have Duck Breast over Polenta. What is it about being out of town that compels us to eat things we'd never order at home? Not that I have anything against duck but it's not something in my regular diet at home. FINALLY, we stroll back up the street to the hotel and consider stopping in the bar for a drink but thankfully cooler heads prevail and we go to our rooms and to sleep.
Friday, September 5th
I wake up still tired. Feeling bloated, fuzzy and oddly disbelieving that I'm here. I need coffee. Dean & Deluca is downstairs so I dress and wear the biggest sunglasses I brought. Get coffee and scuttle back upstairs. We have an appointment at Deluxe Post down off of Hudson. It's a gorgeous facility and I actually enjoy the tour. I learn stuff about film processing (!). It's a beautiful neighborhood with cobblestone streets. We grab a bite with another producer in a little deli. Nothing fancy but he buys! Always a treat. We then sneak across the street and tour Technicolor too. They have a great production space that I'd love to afford. We walk back to our hotel. By the end of this job I'll either be in terrific shape...or dead. Richard annoyingly reminds me that I said I wanted to get back into shape and I crankily advise him that I didn't mean all in one day. We meet Pere in the lobby of Disco Central and I rush upstairs to shower (again!) and change (again!) Once downstairs again, we're also joined by Dave and we head over to Bar Centrale - a little lounge with no sign above Joe Allen's. I had a sublime Dirty Martini there. One of the best I've had. We have reservations at Angelo on Mulberry St. It's an iconic Italian restaurant known for it's colorful patrons. It also happens to be on the route for the San Gennaro Parade (commemorated in Godfather 2). What fine food and wine is to Richard, people watching is to me. And I am having fun! Angelo's was hilarious. I'm pretty sure our waiter was an extra on The Sopranos. Seriously. Richard and Dave scoffed but I think I know. I will always have a soft spot in my heart for old school Italian men. They are courtly and charming. I am offered a bunch of grapes from the Maitre D's home garden. They were grown from seeds direct from Naples. I love that. They tasted wonderful. Dave was disgruntled that they had seeds. Dude. By now, it has begun to rain. Hanna is in town - full force . Dave wants to show us the hovel he's been staying in. For sympathy? We start walking (for the love of God!) and it starts pouring. I'm in little leather flats and duck into a doorway as Richard and Dave speed walk on without me. It's a monsoon and they've abandoned me. Bastards. Mulberry isn't a very busy street and cabs don't come by that much - at least in the block I was in. I call Richard who tell me he'll meet me back at the hotel. What? I'm resigned to spending the night in this doorway when I spot a cab pulling up a few doors away. I make a break for it and get in - almost before the really drunk girl can get out. Two blocks later, I spot Richard hunched over walking across the street. I take pity and call him over. HA! We are soaking wet. Another day ends. Back at the hotel by midnight. The hotel bar - which on Thursday night had a cool vibe now looks like loser Euro trash central with some drunk Slavic looking woman lap dancing some swarthy mother fucker as everyone else looks on in a bored desultory kind of way. Ick. We wisely go to our rooms.
Saturday, September 6
Thankfully, a later morning. I go get a bagel and coffee downstairs and wade through my emails. It is pouring outside still and super humid. My room is the perfect storm of muggy condensation. The A/C is cranking but the temp gage reads 84! In my room! We have a few back to back meetings in the Disco lobby in the afternoon and then Richard decides we should check out a couple of other hotels since we can't move into River Place until the 15th and the Paramount won't give us a deal (WTF?). They're under construction - literally shrouded in scaffolding but doing a brisk tourist business so they don't give a shit about us. SOOOOOO, we buy umbrellas from the Ethiopian Umbrella Network (my theory : they are subsidizing their country with worldwide umbrella sales) and head off. Imagine my joy. It's amazing how many people are out - refusing to succumb to the weather. Thousands of people, thousands of umbrellas. It's umbrella gridlock! I get into a brief umbrella standoff with a small shriveled Asian woman. She wins. Bitch! After a round trip of 20 or so blocks my pants are sopping from the knees down, I'm hot, sweaty and soaking wet and I'm harboring secret plans to impale Richard with the tip of my $10 Ethiopian umbrella. I talk to my daughter who I love on so many levels for so many reasons (duh) and she imparts this wisdom on me as I lament about how crazy it's been. "Just surrender to it Mom." .....What can I say. So, this time I DID not shower (again!) nor do anything to fix the mess that is my hair. I change into something dry but don't put on any make up and off we go to meet Per at a friend's restaurant in the East Village. Paprika is a small Italian restaurant on St. Mark's Place. At 9:15PM it was packed and noisy. The table we were seated at reminded me of a high school science desk rather than a table for 4. But the service was excellent. We were definitely showed some love by the staff (thanks Per!) and the food was divine. I had grilled Rosemary lamb chops. Yum. We toasted with complimentary Prosecco and said good night. And so ended my first 72 hours in NYC. I love it here and if I were going to be uprooted from my hermit-like existence and plopped anywhere - I'd want it to be here.
Stay tuned for the further adventures...and a diatribe about Sarah Palin and that Ebay bullshit!