Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tuesday - April in Paris

On Wednesday evening I will fly out of JFK headed to Paris to spend 8 days there with my former law school roommate David West, of Gainesville, FL, and Paris, France. My exact schedule and details are:

Wednesday - April 22 07:00pm - depart JFK - Delta #8581
Thursday - April 23 08:35am - arrive Paris - Charles De Gaulle

David West
55 Quai des Grands Augustins
Apartment 1, Building 2
Paris, 75006 France

Telephone when dialing from Paris: 01-77-1054-01
When dialing from outside France: 33-1-77-1054-01

Thursday - April 30 01:35pm - depart Paris - Delta #8550
Thursday - April 30 03:35pm - arrive JFK (hopefully)

I will have my laptop with me and my iPhone, but the iPhone won’t work once I leave the US of A.

On Thursday the 23rd I will celebrate my 75th birthday (barf and double barf - I hate being old).

David has planned a lot of things and stuff for us to do, including some out-of-Paris day trips, the details of which he hasn’t shared with me. I will also have plenty of on-my-own time to revisit some of my favorite museums and art galleries.

I am very pumped about the trip.

Tonight student/bartender/manager Scott Reed is taking me to Randall’s Island for an early birthday party. We will be seeing Cirque du Soleil’s newest show called “Kooza.” Really pumped about this.

And, speaking of being pumped - the past week was really one of the most interesting I have had in a long long time. It was full of towering highs and gut-wrenching lows, experiences of a once-in-a-lifetime nature.

So, my loyal and faithful reader, here are the details --

On Monday the 13th was an outstanding benefit concert called “BROADWAY FOR A NEW AMERICA - Standing Up for Marriage Equality and A Progressive Agenda for Change,” and featured numerous broadway and TV performers including: Stockard Channing, Jim Dale, Kathleen Turner, Rosie Perez, Richard Belzer, Anne Meara, Tovah Feldshuh and Norm Lewis. It was performed at Symphony Space at 95th and Broadway, on the next block from The Williams Residence where I would check in later on in the week for my “introductory visit."

Tuesday was the taping of The Colbert Report at his studio located on West 54th Street, as I mentioned in the last posting. It was quite an experience. The studio seats only 106 people but there were only 25 people ahead of me when I arrived around 4:30 for the 5:30 door-opening. About 5:15 my friends Ben Sears and Justin Pifer arrived. They had also gotten tickets. I was able to sneak them in line with me so we were able to sit together once we finally were admitted into the studio.

I have to comment at this point that the security system was very tight, which included bag/briefcase/etc. searches and walking though a metal detector. Once we passed that we were all crowded into a smallish waiting area, and wait we did for a long time while the rehearsal process was completed. When we finally were let in we were directed to our seats and given instructions about laughing loudly and clapping fast so it would sound like a larger audience.

A semi-funny comedian did a warmup bit and then Colbert came out and talked with us, not in character. He is soooooooo funny. Then it was time for the taping. They had to reshoot his introductory monologue because he made a slip but that was the only “glitch.”

I didn’t check the time when the show began, but once it got started it zipped through. We were outta there at 8:00. As I said it was a very interesting experience and I look forward to seeing the taping of The Jon Stewart Show on July 13th.

Ben, Justin and I walked over to Restaurant Row on 46th Street where we had a great dinner at Joe Allen.

Wednesday night was an outstanding New York Philharmonic concert at Lincoln Center. The program was: Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G; and, Shubert’s Symphony No. 9.

Thursday was Opening Day at the new Yankee Stadium, something I had been anxiously awaiting. Two preseason games were played there but I opted not to get tickets because I wanted my first experience to be at a game that really mattered. The game was against the Cleveland Indians and first pitch was at 1:05 with the Opening Ceremony at noon. I got to the stadium at 11:00 so I would have plenty of time to walk around and check things out. I took lots and lots of pictures on my iPhone which I will share in a later posting.

Now about the stadium - it is as awesome as I expected with the Great Hall being jaw-dropping. My seat location is satisfactory but ... and a huge but ... despite all of the pre-season hype about larger seats and more leg room - not true in my $70 section, in fact, my seat seems to be smaller and more crowded than my comparable Loge seat in the old stadium. Now, I know what some of you are thinking, and, no, I haven’t gotten bigger, in fact, I weigh the same as I did this time last year, the usual 162 pounds.

Everyone around me in my section are season ticket holders and they were all bitching about the seat size and lack of additional leg room. Thank you Yankee Management, thank you so very f-ing much.

But, I was still pumped about the start of the home season until the Yankees tanked, losing 2-10. The one place I would not have wanted to be was in the Owner’s Suite with GeorgeS. Oh well ...

On Friday around 2:00 I checked myself into The Williams Residence for my “introductory visit” to help me make a decision regarding where I will live for the next several years. I will post my thoughts, mostly positive, about this facility when I get back from Paris.

Saturday afternoon was the 2nd game of my 41-game package and the weather was terrific. It took me a little longer to reach The Bronx from my Westside location because of weekend service changes. No matter, I was in my seat in plenty of time to watch ace pitcher Chien-Ming Wang make his 3rd start of the season - he lost the first two starts and pretty much sucked. It felt good when he had an easy first inning and the Yankees took the lead ... then ... OH MY F**KING GOD - what happened next is still difficult for me to process even 3 days later.

If you are a baseball fan you know that Cleveland scored 14 (yes that is the number) runs in the top of the 2nd inning, a record in the history of the Yankee franchise. It was a nightmare that cannot be described. I kept thinking that I had died and was in purgatory, or that someone had slipped LSD into my diet coke - I wish. I stayed in my seat through the end of the 5th inning and then I left it and wandered around the stadium and then left at the end of the 7th inning. To say that the remaining fans were upset is a gross understatement. So, bottom line -- the Yankees lost in record fashion, 4-22, F**K!!

Sunday night was an excellent Off Broadway show called “Offices,” 3 one-act comedies written by Ethan Coen and starring Oscar winner F. Murray Abraham. It was funny and very well performed.

Monday morning I checked out of The Williams Residence and returned to Midtown East, and you know what? It really felt good to be back in my ‘hood, in my building and in my apartment, alcove studio that it may be.

Last night was a special benefit concert at Lincoln Center by the New York Philharmonic, with guest conductor Marvin Hamlisch, called “New York Moments” and featuring Joel Grey, Jennifer Holliday, Kelli O’Hara, Paulo Szot, and ending with Liza Minnelli, who looked and sounded great.

So, my loyal and faithful readers, this is what has been going on in my life in the Big Apple. I need to post this and then get ready to head out with Scott to the Circus, so ...

Paris - here I come.

Billi Pod

PS: I just got back from the Circus and had a great time. Thank you Scott. You are a good and caring friend!!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tuesday - Billi Pod Is Alive And Well In The Big Apple.

I know that it has been a long time since I posted to this blog and I do appreciate the emails and telephone calls from you, my loyal and faithful readers, about what is going on in my life.

Why haven’t I posted? Well, the simple truth is - I have had a lot of “stuff” going on, mostly in my head, and I just haven’t felt like writing about it until I sorted through most of it and made some tentative decisions. Rest assured - it has nothing to do with either my physical or mental health, that I promise you.

OK - this is it - I have decided not to renew my lease on my alcove studio. My lease is up on July 31st and I have been here for 8 years. Before moving to 51st Street I was in a studio (known as the “dorm room”) on the 4th floor of a walkup building on 53rd Street, for 2 years. This means I have been in a studio apartment for the last 10 years.

I love the location of my current apartment, the building and the staff. The apartment itself is in need of some major upgrading, which will be a huge pain in the ass for whoever is occupying it.

The main reason for making a change, however, is my determination that I am no longer in NYC on “vacation.” I admitted to myself that I am a full-time resident of the Big Apple and as a resident I need more space. I have grown tired of living in a motel room/suite. I also acknowledged to myself that I really want to stay in NYC for the remainder of my life, however long (or short) that may be.

So, I have been 1 BR apartment hunting and have pretty much narrowed down my choices to: apartments in a new high-rise building located on West 42nd Street, in the heart of the theater district, or a Senior facility known as The Williams Memorial Residence, located at the corner of West 95th Street and West End Avenue and run by the Salvation Army. No 1 BR’s are available in my current building.

OK - stop it - take a deep breath and go to the website:

I am considering a very nice and large 1 BR located on the 15th floor, the top floor. The rent includes: 2 meals a day (required); all utilities; weekly maid service; security; and, many in-house activities.

I have been approved by this facility, having passed the examination by the Admission’s Committee and passed the physical exam requirements. This coming Friday through Monday morning I will be staying there as part of what is called “an introductory visit.” This will be in one of their guest rooms and will include 3 meals a day.

I think I need to emphasize - this is not, repeat NOT, a nursing home. It is a well-maintained facility directed at healthy and financially secure seniors who are at least 50 years old.

Yes, I know this would be a MAJOR lifestyle change but it is what I am considering under circumstances where I will be making the final decision, not someone else (read between the lines). Luckily I have some time before I have to make my final decision(s). However, next week I am going to notify my landlord that I will not be renewing my lease.

Now, on to other stuff, briefly. Of course, I have been going and doing lots of things. So far the highlight for this month was a wonderful Easter Dinner Sunday with my theater buddies Michael Pederson and Dennis Dohman, and some of their longtime friends, at M & D’s apartment in Chelsea. Thank you guys!!
Today I will see a taping of The Colbert Report. I am really pumped over this. I have to be at the studio not later than 5:15. To be safe I plan to get there around 4:30 because it is still on a first-come-first-served basis even though I have a "reservation."

Thursday afternoon is the Opening Day at the new Yankee Stadium - awesome!! I will take lots of pics and will post some of them here.

In closing - on Wednesday, April 22 I will leave JFK to fly to Paris to spend 8 days with my former law school roommate David West, in his new apartment across the Seine from The Louvre - awesome, again!! My 75th birthday (damn and double damn - I hate being old) is on the 23rd.

When I return I will make the final decision(s) about where Billi Pod’s next pad will be.

Go Yankees!!

Billi Pod