The Smells of Childhood

Sense.of.smellIt's fascinating how smells can trigger memories from long ago - happy ones as well as bad (the same holds true with music).  The eighteen that I've listed below were part of my 1960s/70s childhood in the town of McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Pittsburgh along the Ohio River.  They are so ingrained on my brain that just the mention of them activates my cerebral cortex and retrieves memories.




The strong scent emitted from magic markers, which I was mostly exposed to at school, was highly intoxicating in small doses, but then I'd eventually develop a headache.  I suppose this was my first experience with a hangover.





There was a time when gas stations were "full service," which meant that attendants pumped your gas and then pulled out their squeegee to clean the windshield and back window of the family car.  They used a liquid in a bucket - or was it just water - that had a distinctive oil-based odor; although not as overpowering as the intoxicating gasoline fumes, it was pleasant nonetheless.





The tinny, clean scent of metal, toy-friction cars isn't quite as rich as the smell of a new car but for a child it added to the play experience.





The smell of Mom's hairspray, spreading out of the bathroom like a fog, meant she and Dad were going out somewhere.  It was somewhat choking and it made sense a few years later when cans of hairspray were cited for playing a role in depleting the ozone layer.




The white paste used in school to make arts and crafts served the same purpose as glue but it was thicker.  There was a sweetness to its scent which is probably why so many kindergartners tried to eat it.  Many years later when I was visiting England clotted cream brought to mind this paste. 





Chalk dust invaded my nostrils whenever I was called upon to do math problems on the blackboard at school, and even more so when I was assigned eraser-cleaning duty.





Play-Dough had a plastic feel and it's fragrant scent and candy-like colors (not unlike Starburst chews) made it very tempting to eat (which my have been the inspiration for 'Incredible Edibles').





Lightning bugs (aka fireflies) emitted a somewhat plant-like scent, especially strong when we kids would pull out their little lights and put them on our fingers to sport as rings. 





The streets and sidewalks after a summer thunderstorm had a scent that was created from a mix of heat, soaked sidewalks, and the scent of earthworms that would appear, then often crushed by car tires or the feet of us marauding kids.





The smell of tree pollen in the morning when I delivered papers is the only scent that I still encounter forty years later and 300 miles away from my hometown.  And speaking of being a paperboy, the smell of newsprint that wafted up from my paper delivery bag had the power to make my eyes sting and water.





Back in the 1960s every family burned their trash out in the open in their backyards, usually in the evening and the air would take on the smell of smoke.





The stiff, pink-colored stick of gum found in a pack of baseball cards had a sugary scent that called out to you even if it was the cards that were of primary interest.





On very cold days, before I left the house to go to school, my mother would rub fragrant Ponds cold cream on my cheeks and forehead to prevent my face from becoming chapped.  As she applied it she'd refer to a place called Canada, a land where the cold air originated.





The smell of sand in my sandbox, either dry or wet, had a distinctive scent.  Since we lived far from the ocean, and didn't take beach vacations, it was my only regular contact with sand until I was an adult.





I associate Vicks VapoRub with having a sore throat and the tender loving care my mother would provide.  She'd prepare an old t-shirt used multiple times for the same purpose by smearing it with VapoRub and then waving it over the open flame on the stove to heat it and then wrap it around my neck. 





By the 1960s and '70s the air was considerably cleaner in Pittsburgh but some factories still pumped out pollutants under cover of night.  Our neighborhood sat on a bluff overlooking the Ohio River and Neville Island (below), which was home to steel mills, steel fabricating plants (my father worked at one) and chemical factories.  They regularly released smoke into the air that had a distinct chemical smell and was full of particulates.  Often we'd wake up in the morning to find fine particles of dust and slivers of metal in the bathtub and on cars. 





The silver metallic toy guns we had for playing 'Cowboys and Indians' had a chamber where you could put "caps", a string of tiny dots that contained something like gun powder.  Safe, mini-explosions were created by a metal mechanism that would slam against the cap when the trigger was pulled.  But you didn't need a gun to activate the caps; you could also make the dots explode by striking them with a rock.  Afterwards the air would smell of gunpowder.




Recalling the Big Snowstorms of My Pittsburgh Childhood

Winter.1960.pittsburgh.robfrydlewiczAs an adult who is six feet tall I often think that if a foot of snow seems like a lot to me just imagine what it seems to a child who is two or three feet shorter (or to a toddler, like me in the photo during the winter of 1960).  Which brings back memories of some of the big snowstorms of my childhood in the Pittsburgh suburb of McKees Rocks, four of which were around 14 inches and are recounted below.


JANUARY 12-13, 1964 (First Grade)

This storm moved in on Sunday night and continued through the next evening.  I remember excitedly turning on the porch light throughout the evening to look out as the snow accumulated on the porch steps.  For the entirety of the storm temperatures never got out of the teens. 

Nearly 16 inches fell and there was no school on Monday.  Then on Tuesday we woke up to a morning low of six below zero.  Despite these frigid conditions I was looking forward to going to school because it meant spending a good amount of time to walk through the mountains of snow along the way.  (My school, Fenton Elementary, was within walking distance.) 


Me (right) with my big brother on our way to school the day after the big snowstorm of Jan. 12-13, 1964


JANUARY 22-23, 1966 (Third Grade)

It was Saturday and me, my brother, sister and mother had our check-up with the dentist that morning.  Afterwards we did some grocery shopping at  Kroger just as the first flakes of snow began falling at a little past 12:00 noon.  When we got home we watched American Bandstand; the Mamas & the Papas were on and they sang Monday Monday and California Dreamin'.  Snow fell heaviest between mid-afternoon and midnight and ended shortly after daybreak on Sunday.  My brother, Darrell, was allowed to go out and help mom and dad shovel but I had to stay inside because it was too much trouble getting me put together.  In total nearly 15 inches fell. 

Although it was a Saturday event and didn't impact school, we didn't go to church or Sunday school (a consolation prize).  On Sunday morning I got to go out and help shovel out the driveway and I remember how high the snow was and what an effort it was to throw the snow up to the side.


MARCH 6-7, 1967 (Fourth Grade)

It was a Monday and rain in the morning changed to heavy, wet snow in the afternoon (the temperature hovered around freezing).  After dark the snow really came down heavily and high winds kicked in - there was even some thunder/lightning.  Amazingly, my parents went out shopping and my brother went to his evening trumpet lesson.  My older sister and I stayed home and watched I Dream of Jeannie and The Monkees.  14 inches piled up and school was cancelled on Tuesday.




DECEMBER 1-2, 1974 (Senior Year)

Snow fell off and on in heavy bursts during late afternoon on Sunday through the evening and into the overnight hours.  The temperature hovered around 33 degrees throughout so it was a heavy, wet snow.  I had a morning paper route at the time and it was a challenge walking up some of the driveways that were on an incline because of a coating of freezing rain/sleet that had fallen on top of the snow. 

School had a delayed opening but there were no buses operating so most of my classmates didn't come in.  (And as he did during the other storms, my dedicated dad drove to his job as a foreman at Pittsburgh-Des Monies Steel Company on Neville Island).  Power outages were widespread because so many tree branches, weighed down by 14 inches of wet snow, snapped and brought down power lines.


The next bit snowstorms came in the winter of 1978 when two big ones came within a few days of each other in mid-January and dumped a total of 27 inches.  At the time I was in my junior year at Penn State in State College.  I've experienced my biggest snowfalls while living in New York City.  Between 1983 and 2011 there were seven storms that dumped 18 inches or more, the biggest being 26.9" in February 2006.


The great blizzard of Jan. 7-8, 1996 buried New York under more than 20" of snow.


Memories of Pittsburgh TV & Radio Personalities from My Childhood


Growing up in the Pittsburgh area in the 1960s and '70s meant that media personalities from KDKA TV/Radio, WTAE and KQV loomed very large in my young life.  (And with no cable channels back then their presence was even more ubiquitous.)  Here, in alphabetical order, are the names and faces from that era that I remember best.  (This is not intended to be a comprehensive list, just the people who made a lasting impression with me.)



She rocked the boat as Pittsburgh's first female TV sports announcer, first appearing on KDKA in 1973.  Not very knowledgeable about sports, she lasted just two years.  She died in 1989 at the age of 49.




Bogut came to Pittsburgh in 1968, working for KDKA Radio.  I listened to his show as I got ready for school and still remember his creepy/comical ode to the "Slithery Dee".  He's still on the radio, now on WJAS, and I listen to his show whenever I visit my mother.  Amazingly, his voice hasn't changed.  I'm not certain about his age, but the fact that he was married in 1961 suggests he's in his early-80s.  (Update: WJAS changed to a Talk format in August 2014 and dropped Bogut.)





The face/voice of radio station KQV during the 1960s.  He vied with KDKA's Clark Race as the city's most popular DJ.  He died in 2018 at the age of 83.




A legend, the Walter Cronkite of Pittsburgh.  He anchored the KDKA news for 36 years.  All business, Burns had a gruff, Lou Grant type persona and was the consummate professional.  He died in 1997 at the age of 84.  His daughter Patti also worked for KDKA and was very popular.  Sadly, she died of lung cancer in 2001 at the age of 49.




Best known for hosting Chiller Theater and Studio Wrestling on Saturdays.  His following from Chiller Theater got "Chilly Billy" a small role in Night of the Living Dead (filmed north of Pittsburgh).  Interestingly, Cardille is the only person on my list from WIIC-Channel 11 (NBC's Pittsburgh affiliate).  Despite undergoing open-heart surgery back in the 1980s, he's still active, with a radio show on WJAS.  Amazingly, at the age of 85, his voice sounds as youthful as it was 50 years ago.  (Update: WJAS changed to a Talk format in August 2014 and dropped Cardille as well as Jack Bogut; sadly, Cardille passed away in the summer of 2016.)




Cope possessed the most distinctive/abrasive voice in Pittsburgh broadcasting, if not the nation (even more so than Howard Cosell).  He was truly a motormouth, but a beloved one.  His proudest achievement was probably the creation of the "Terrible Towel" for the Steelers in the mid-1970s.  He died in 2008 at the age of 79.



Currie was the lead sports announcer for KDKA in the 1970s, coming here from North Carolina where he was known as "The Mouth of the South."  He wore garish, brightly colored sports jackets often with wild patterns.  For me he wore out his welcome rather quickly.  He died in 2008 at the age of 85.





Pittsburgh's most famous meteorologist, De Nardo began his career with KDKA, but is best known for his long career with WTAE from 1969 to 2005.  I saw him a number of times shopping at the K-mart near his home in Moon Township.  Situated close to the airport, he groused about the planes' flight patterns that brought them over his house.  Then shortly after he moved the airport closed and relocated!  He died in the summer of 2018 at the age of 87.





Although Joe De Nardo may have had a higher profile, Bob Kudzma was my favorite weatherman, serving as KDKA's on-air meteorologist for 34 years (1968-2002).  He reminded me of Pat Sajak.  I wrote to him for advice about having a career as a meteorologist and he replied.  He passed way in February 2021 at the age of 81.





Best known for his time as anchor on WTAE from 1969 until 1994.  He was very stern looking, even more so than Bill Burns.  Reminded me of Nikita Khruschev (and my Uncle Joe).  He died in 2002 at the age of 86.





Most famous for a Saturday afternoon bowling show in the 1960s on WTAE (Championship Bowling) and Bowling for Dollars in the 1970s.  (It was a proud day in our neighborhood when our neighbor from across the street appeared on the show and won $500.)  Unfortunately, his reputation was tarnished by a state lottery scandal in the 1980s.  However, since I was no longer living in Pittsburgh when it happened my memory of him is still as a bowling personality.  He died in 2003 at the age of 86.





Prince was the larger-than-life radio/TV play-by-play announcer for the Pittsburgh Pirates until 1975.  "Kiss it Good-bye!" was one of his most famous sayings.  He died in 1985 at the age of 68.  Nellie King was his mild-mannered sidekick from 1967-1975.  He died in 2010 at the age of 82.


Nellie King (L) & Bob Prince (R)


Popular KQV DJ in the late '60s thru early '70s, when he was in his 20s.  In the 1990s he went to the dark side and became a conservative talk-radio host.  He's now in his late 70s (as of 2020).




Clark Race was the Dick Clark of Pittsburgh.  He was probably the market's most popular DJ, on KDKA, and also hosted a popular dance show on KDKA-TV that aired on Saturday afternoon; it ran from 1963 until 1966.  His show would begin with the intro, "Hello Clark Race, hello - and welcome to the show!", which was followed by the instrumental String of Trumpets.  He died in 1999 at the age of 66.





Her signature blonde coif gave her a very glamorous persona.  I remember her best for doing the weather during WTAE's evening news in the late '60s, but she was a constant TV presence with various reporting roles.  Sadly, she died from COVID-19 in November 2020 at the age of 88.


Eleanor schano weather lady





Avuncular KDKA radio personality who was lovingly called "Uncle Ed".  He had already clocked many years with the station when I listened to him give the weather report in the morning while I was getting ready for school.  Often mentioned his wife Gertrude.  I also recall that he used to promote Pappin's restaurant.  He died in 1990 at the age of 77.



Host of the children's show Adventure Time which aired weekday afternoons at 4:00 on WTAE.  He sat among the kids as Dick Clark did on American Bandstand.  Famous for the characters Nosmo King and Knish.  He'd introduce cartoons and shorts by The Three Stooges with the line, "So down goes the curtain - and back up again."  He died in 1990 at the age of 80.





Before he went over to the "network" side Dick Stockton was KDKA TV's sports director from 1967-1971 when he was only in his his 20s.  There was something in his demeanor that suggested that bigger things were in store for him.  He's now 77 (as of 2020).





With her New York pedigree, she was the grand dame of Pittsburgh television.  She was with KDKA from 1962 until 1977.  In my youthful mind she and Bill Burns were the First Couple of Pittsburgh.  Her claim to fame was going to jail for 10 days for refusing to reveal one her sources when she was a newspaper reporter in New York in the 1950s.  She had a charming, sophisticated laugh that brought to mind Kitty Carlyle or Arlene Francis.  She died in 1997 at the age of 73.





I remember her best for hosting Jr. High Quiz which aired on Sunday on WTAE from 1965-1982.  I always wanted to be on that show but our school district (Sto-Rox) wasn't chosen in the years I was in high school.  Before the quiz show she was known for hosting the Ricki & Copper Show, which starred her dog Copper.  What I remember best about the show was the Hostess cupcakes she handed out to kids in the audience who were celebrating their birthdays.  (Although this show and Adventure Time had a live studio audience of kids I never had a desire to be on either.)  She recently died (July 2021) at the age of 86 in Chicago.


Ricki wertz and copper













Remembering My First Job - As the Morning Paper Boy

Paperboy PittsburghpostgazetteNot only newspapers, but the boys and girls who deliver them, are a dying breed.  When I was in high school, between 1972 and 1975, I was a morning paper boy, delivering the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.  Before I was offered the opportunity I couldn't fathom why anyone would want to get up so early in the morning to do this job.  Yet there I was getting up with my father at 5:30 as he got ready for work.  Perhaps I was motivated because my route manager, Mr. Grega, was also my geometry teacher.  (I always thought that this helped me with my grades in his class.) 


I had 35 customers whose homes were scattered over a six-block area; it took me about an hour to complete my route.  (About 1/4 of the houses in the neighborhood subscribed; the afternoon Pittsburgh Press was more popular.)  Each customer had a particular place they wanted their paper placed.  Some liked it inside the screen door, others under the welcome mat, or in the holder under the mailbox, or inside their milk box.  (Nowadays my mother's paper is delivered by an adult in a car and they rarely put it on her porch since they throw it from the car window.)




When I got to the last house on my route I hoped I had no papers left in my bag, otherwise it meant I probably forgot someone - which rarely happened.  When I returned home I'd go back to bed for an hour before getting up for school.


We lived in a suburban neighborhood (10 miles northwest of downtown Pittsburgh) that was surrounded by woods, but despite the early hour my parents never expressed any concerns about my safety - nor was I worried.  That's the way things were back then.  The only danger I encountered was an occasional snarling dog.  (For such encounters I carried a few rocks in the canvas bag hanging around my neck.)




For me, the worst time of year was September and October when the first cold mornings arrived.  Luckily the winters during the three years I delivered weren't severe and no mornings had sub-zero temperatures.  (After I stopped delivering, the next four winters were particularly harsh.)  The biggest snow occurred the first Monday of Dec. 1974 when 14 inches of snow fell, making it very difficult walking up my customers' sloped driveways.  And my route manager delivered the papers to me late.





Because the papers were literally hot off the press the newsprint easily came off onto my hands and gloves.  Also, the fumes from the newsprint would cause my eyes to sting and tear, much like how pollen would do the same.  And speaking of pollen, to this day I still remember the thick scent of tree pollen that hung in the morning air in late May and June.


Despite having a larger circulation, the Pittsburgh Press (now defunct) didn't publish on holidays, so I had twice as many customers on those days.  I'd load the papers into my wagon rather than use my paper bag (sometimes my brother would drive me around.)  Not only were there more papers to deliver, but the papers were much thicker because of advertising inserts touting holiday sales.


Perhaps the most traumatic experience during my years of delivering papers occurred the morning of Jan. 1, 1973.  As I was getting ready for that morning's deliveries I turned on the radio in the kitchen and heard the shocking news that Roberto Clemente of the Pirates had been killed in a plane crash.  I walked my route in a daze.  The craziest thing that happened to me while delivering was being asked to get a crow out of a house after it had fallen down the chimney.


Roberto clemente death_newspaper headline


I delivered papers until the week before I went away to college (Penn State).  After returning from my senior prom, I went to bed for a few hours and then got up to deliver the paper.  That summer between high school and college (gap months?) I'd deliver the paper and then go to my summer job on the road maintenance crew in my town, digging ditches, weed whacking and taking trips to the local dump.


This was my first job.  It was a great way to learn responsibility and gain experience with money management.  Each customer paid between 60 and 75 cents each week, and I'd usually get tips that ranged between fifteen cents and a quarter (today, adjusted for inflation, that would be between 75 cents and a dollar).  I never really enjoyed collecting, which I did on Saturday afternoons, because not everyone was home so it required a number of visits.  The son of one of my customers was Tom Clements, who at the time was the starting quarterback for Notre Dame, and he occasionally answered the door when I collected.  Collecting during Christmas was better because of the tips, which were usually around five dollars. 




Remembering Hall & Oates' 1st Number One Song, "Rich Girl"

BitchI was beginning my sophomore year at Penn State when the song Rich Girl by Hall & Oates became popular.  I was taken aback that a mainstream song used the word "bitch" in it - which probably enhanced its appeal.  However, it wasn't used as a derogatory term towards women (that would come 20 years later with the advent of gangsta rap).  The song slowly climbed the charts during the fall and winter and reached the top of Billboard's Hot 100 at the end of March 1977.  It has the distinction of being the first #1 song to use the word "bitch" in its lyrics. 


Eltonjohn_bitchisbackI marveled that the song received air play.  It followed by three years Elton John's The Bitch is Back, which was the first top-10 song to use the word "bitch" in its title (peaking at #4).   17 years later, Stevie Nicks released a greatest hits album titled TimeSpace, which included a new song, Sometime It's a Bitch.  However, it didn't achieve nearly the popularity of The Bitch is Back, failing to crack the top 40.  And like the others, the word "bitch" wasn't referring to a woman (or a dog).


Rollingstones_stickyfingersBefore Elton, H&O or Stevie Nicks, the Rolling Stones released the album Sticky Fingers in 1971, and one of the songs on it was titled Bitch.  I was a teenager at the time and I remember being in the car with my parents when the song came on and I was absolutely shocked at hearing the word.  Being a somewhat sheltered kid, this was a mind-blowing experience; I was surprised my parents didn't switch stations, but perhaps they weren't listening very closely. 


HalloatesAfter the success of Rich Girl, Hall & Oates went through a fallow period that lasted three years.  Then in 1980 they became a true charts powerhouse, charting a dozen songs in the top 10 over the next four years.  Then it was they who became rich (boys).

A Ho-Hum Night: Commentary on the Commercials of Super Bowl XLVIII

Superbowlxvliii.screenhotI watch the Super Bowl for every facet of it.  The singing of the National Anthem by opera star Renee Fleming was OK, but couldn't compare to past efforts by Beyonce, Cher or Jennifer Hudson.  Bruno Mars' halftime show was a treat (I could have done without the brief appearance by the Red Hot Chili Peppers).  I didn't stick around after the game for the airing of The New Girl but I tuned in later for Brooklyn Nine-Nine.  As for the game itself, I waited for the Broncos' comeback, but it was not to be, but watching the Seahawks pounce on them had some entertainment value. 


SuperbowladsAnd then there is the advertising, a different animal from the game's other components because the ads aren't monolithic.  Each has to be considered separately.  But overall, they were an uninspiring lot.  Rest assured, no ad from this year's lineup of advertisers will be part of any Advertising Hall of Fame induction.  On a scale of 1-10 I would rate none at 8 or higher - even a 7 might be generous.  Nonetheless, I had a few favorites (relatively speaking).


  • Wonderful Pistachios - I've never liked this campaign, which has been running for three years, but with Stephen Colbert featured, I was amused.



  • Doritos - The time capsule made from a cardboard box made me laugh, especially when the fellow thought he had traveled to the future and the angry old neighbor greeting him when he opened the box was the little kid.
  • Chevy Silverado - This ad, showing a bull being taken to stud, got my attention because of the disco song "You Sexy Thing".  It was cute and I thought the photography of the bull and cows was great.



  • Butterfinger - A silly set-up with a couples therapy set up, but it did get my attention because of the product introduced, i.e., peanut butter cups.
  • Toyota - Featuring Terry Crews and the Muppets, Crews is appealing because of his exasperated muscle-hulk persona (somewhat like the Rock).  By coincidence, he also co-stars in the Fox sitcom Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which aired after the Super Bowl. 



  • Subway - Despite its usual uninspired creative, the ad nonetheless gained my attention with news about its Fritos Chicken Enchilada sub.
  • Go Daddy - The swarm of shirtless hulks running (along with a muscle lady) got my attention.  I watched it with interest to see what the ad was for and was, not surprisingly, disappointed by the payoff.
  • Esurance - Airing immediately after the game, it wasn't technically in the Super Bowl, but close enough.  I liked it because of John Krasinski's delivery.


Like all of the Super Bowls, the vast majority of ads were boring, nonsensical, derivative, aimed at the masses.  Rather than go through each one I'll feature just a few to berate (actually, fourteen of them):


  • Coca Cola - Despite it being on of the unofficial sponsors of American obesity not one overweight individual was shown.
  • Audi - Although the "doberhuahua" was somewhat amusing, the ad's tag line, "Compromise scares us too", turned me  off.  I half expected a voice at the end announcing that Audi was official car of the Tea Party.



  • Chrysler - I was told this wasn't a Saturday Night Live parody commercial, but I'm not convinced.  Bob Dylan took the place of Clint Eastwood and Eminem who did similar rah-rah Detroit ads in previous Super Bowls.  Great, someone in their 70s touting a struggling industry.  I wonder if viewers under 30 even know who Dylan was?
  • Anheuser Busch Clydesdales - The "awww" factor stopped working for me years ago.  Now I just roll my eyes as I think of all the easily manipulated misty eyes across America.  A-B should have a tie-in with Hallmark.
  • Chobani Yogurt - So much build up for so little pay-off.  A bear eating yogurt?  Wow.
  • H&M - David Beckham has been featured perhaps one year too many.   Or is H&M planning on showing him every year as he ages?




  • Beats Music - Ellen Degeneres once again milked her tiresome dancing routine.  (And I'm not looking forward to her hosting the Oscars.)  When I started writing about this ad my incorrect recollection was that this was an ad for Beats by Dr Dre. headphones.
  • Carmax - Yes, there were a number of funny aspects but too much of it was ho-hum, including the central character, who was an uncharismatic schlump.  And at the end of the ad I didn't know exactly what Carmax was.
  • Honda/Hugfest - This spot began with an earnest Bruce Willis, but then it turned stupid when the camera panned out to show Fred Armisen hugging him - what was the connection between the two?



  • Hyundai - I like Johnny Galecki but I hardly think of him as a spokesperson - and Richard Lewis?  He was barely recognizable.  And similar to Bruce Willis/Fred Armisen, what was the connection between the two?
  • Jeep/Are You Restless? - Puh-leez, much too pompous and the product pitch came much too late.
  • Volkswagen - A dad tells his uninterested daughter that an angel gets his wings every time a VW reaches 100,000 miles.  Too many examples shown, I got the point the first time.  And why did one of the guys at the urinal have small wings?  Only 50,000 miles?
  • Bud Light/Ian Rappaport's Night on the Town - I hate all mass-market beer commercials, and Anhueser-Busch is the exclusive beer advertiser at the big game. 
  • Crackle.com - Featuring Jerry and George from Seinfeld, I didn't realize this was an ad (for a website that airs Seinfeld's show "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee").  The only thing that went through my mind was how Jerry and George had aged but not Newman (who showed up at the end).



Remembering My Celebrity Sightings in New York City



Living in New York, friends who live elsewhere often ask me about the celebrities I've seen.  This got me thinking about how many sightings I've had in the 40+ years I've lived here.  I'm sure many pass by me unrecognized because they're under hats, behind sunglasses, or I'm just not looking at faces as I go about my business.  (When I walk around my neighborhood in sunglasses during weekday afternoons I often wonder if tourists think I'm a celebrity.)  What follows is a list of nearly 80 celebs I've spotted, who I've grouped into the following categories: My Neighborhood; On the Subway; At Fire Island; At the Gym; Elsewhere in Manhattan; and Those I've Spoken To


- IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD (Greenwich Village) -

Phillip Seymour Hoffman (Actor) - I've probably seen him most since he lives in an apartment building across the street from me.  I've seen him walking with one of his his kids, one time on a bicycle, another time chatting on his cell phone.  The last time he was sitting outside with his family at a restaurant on Hudson St.  (This was written less than a week before his untimely death on Feb. 2 in 2014.)




Matthew Broderick (Actor) I've seen him a number of times, sometimes with his son, and once (in Sept. 2019) with wife Sarah Jessica Parker as they crossed Seventh Ave. South and walked to the Sheridan Square subway station (uptown side).

Susan Sarandon (Actress/activist) - In the winter of 2013 I spotted her shopping for veggies at Citarella, wearing a kerchief and sunglasses.

Jake Gyllenhaal - I spotted him walking down Christopher St. alone at the intersection with Seventh Ave. South.  Others I've passed on this street include Johnny Galecki from the Big Bang Theory, Olympic swimming sensation Michael Phelps and, in separate sightings, SNL alums Seth Meyers and Andy Samberg.




Bebe Neuwirth (Actress) - Three times I've sat across from her at The Village Den restaurant on Greenwich Ave.

Emma Stone (Actress) - She turned onto 6th Ave. from West 10th St. (on the block where Citarella is) and was walking behind me and I recognized her hearty laugh.  It was winter 2012 and she was wearing a very pretty purple-colored coat that contrasted nicely with her auburn hair.  She was with a young man.




I've walked past John Waters, Isaac Mizrahi, Ric Ocasek and Wallace Shawn all in the vicinity of the corner of 6th Ave. and 12th St.  By coincidence, I was going to see Waters' new movie Serial Mom (spring of 1994) when I spotted him.

Aziz Ansari (Comic/actor) - He was rushing somewhere while looking at his cellphone, heading west on W.4th St. after crossing 7th Ave. South.




Jason Sedakis (Sat. Night Live/actor) - He was walking along Bleecker St. (where he used to live).

Willem Dafoe (Actor) - Walking past Gourmet Garage on Seventh Ave. South.

Lauren Bacall (Actress) - She was shopping at Balducci's on 9th St./6th Ave (before it was bought by Citarella).

Leontyne Price (Opera singer) - Spotted just south of Bleecker St./7th Ave. South.

Everett Quinton (Off-Broadway actor) - He's probably only recognizable to a small number of New Yorkers who recognize his work with the Ridiculous Theater Company (which used to be across the street from my apartment).  I've seen him on numerous occasions walking about or having a meal at Manatus on Bleecker St.




Michael Urie (Actor) - He was walking into the CVS at the corner of 6th Ave./Washington Place.  This was in the fall of 2014 and he was finishing up his run in the one-man show Buyer Cellar at the Barrow St. Playhouse and this sighting was about an hour before the curtain.




Barry Diller (Movie/TV executive) - He and a much younger man were eating next to us at Mi Cocina.  This was in the late 1990s.

Mary-Louise Parker (Actress).  I was standing behind her and her daughter in the checkout line at Gristede's.

Harvey Weinstein (Film executive) - He was attending a dance performance at the Joyce Theater.  I also saw him crossing 7th Ave. South near Charles St. heading to the restaurant Morandi.




Anderson Cooper (CNN News Anchor) - On time he was riding a bike, the other time coming out of the David Barton gym in Astor Place.

Tim Robbins (Actor) - In May 2002 I was standing behind him and one of his sons on the up escalator at the Village East movie complex on 3rd Ave./12th St.

Jesse Eisenberg (Actor) - The first time I saw him he was walking into the restaurant Dublin 6 on Hudson St. wearing a ski cap.  The next time he was checking out at Gourmet Garage during the time he was directing/acting in the play The Revisionist (with Vanessa Redgrave) at the Cherry Lane Theater in the Spring of 2013.

Louis CK (Comic/actor) - I was eating dinner in a Thai restaurant at the corner of Cornelia and Bleecker Streets when he walked by alone, hands in pockets.  Then during the summer of 2013 I saw him with his kids on Grove St. in Sheridan Square.  And then in the winter of 2021 I walked by him on Seventh Ave. South where he was eating lunch at an outdoor restaurant.




Liv Tyler (Actress, Steven Tyler's daughter) - She was walking out of my apartment building, and I have no idea who she might have been visiting.

Mark Adsit (30 Rock) - He was strolling through the Union Square Christmas fair with his wife and child in 2012.  Then three years later I saw him, also in December, at the West Village restaurant Gaetana's (corner of Christopher/Greenwich Streets).  This time he was with a woman who may have been his mother and he was sporting a beard.




Gregory Hines (Deceased dancer/actor) - Dining with friends at an outside table at a restaurant on Hudson St.

Lee Delaria (Comedian/actress) - She was walking up 5th Ave. and was dressed like she was shooting a scene from The Hunger Games as she was wearing a long black leather trench coat with black boots and was sporting a severely cut/punk hairstyle.




Malcolm Gladwell (Author, contributor to The New Yorker) - I've seen him a number of times walking in the neighborhood.)

John Cameron Mitchell (Director/actor) - He lives on Greenwich Ave., where I've seem him a number of times.  The last time was in April 2014 when I was going to work and he was in my subway car.




Kyan Douglas (Hair stylist from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy) - I was eating dinner at Bus Stop Cafe with a few friends and I spotted him there with a group of eight guys.

Parker Posey (Actress) - On a Saturday evening n Feb. 2014 she was sitting at the bar chatting with friends at Gene's, an old-school Italian restaurant on W. 11th St. that attracts a neighborhood crowd. 

Zachary Quinto (Actor) - My most recent encounter, in June 2014.  He was wearing a backwards-turned baseball cap, t-shirt and jeans and was walking his two dogs on the main path of Washington Square Park heading in the direction of Sixth Avenue.  And he wasn't wearing glasses.  

Alec Baldwin (Actor) - On the Saturday of Labor Day weekend 2016 he pedaled by on his bike in the middle of the afternoon, turning from Greenwich Ave., east onto West 10th St. heading to 6th Ave.  He may have been coming from Equinox Gym, where a friend of mine has seen him working out.


Alec baldwin on bicycle


Wynton Marsalis (Jazz Musician) - On Election Day 2016 he and one of his children were walking into my polling place at PS 41 on W.10th St. as I was leaving at around 9:30AM.  He was wearing a suit.

Kyle Mooney (SNL writer/actor) - I was walking behind him on Sixth Ave. between Waverly Place and Washington Place on a fall evening in 2017.  I've also seen him at my gym (NY Sports Club).

Andy Cohen (Bravo executive) - As I was taking a run along Hudson River Park on a warm Saturday afternoon in April 2019 I made split-second eye contact with Andy Cohen, who was sitting on a park bench with his baby, a cute dog (which is what got my attention) and a younger woman.




John Mulaney (stand-up comic) - On an unseasonably warm Saturday afternoon in November 2020 (the day Joe Biden was declared the winner of the presidential election) I spotted him strolling with a woman pushing a baby carriage in Hudson River Park across from Christopher St. (I assume they were his wife and child).  I wouldn't have noticed him, but when I heard his distinctive voice I looked behind me and saw him.


John mulaney



Cherry Jones (Tony Award winning actress) - She was seated and chatting with a friend on the downtown #1 train.  Then in April 2014 I saw her entering the West 14th entrance to the #1 train on 7th Avenue.  




Keith Hernandez (New York Mets) - I spotted in my car on the downtown Lexington line during mid-afternoon, standing alone.  This was years after he was Met.

Chris Parnell (Sat. Night Live) - Seated, reading a folded up piece of paper, perhaps a script.




Jack McBrayer (30 Rock) - He was waiting for the uptown Express train with friends at Times Square station late on a Saturday night.  I was heading uptown after seeing Bye Bye Birdie in the winter of 2010.

Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones) - On my way to work one autumn morning in 2015 I saw him going through the turnstile at the West 4th Street subway station.  He was carrying a skateboard.  Because of his height the turnstile was at neck level.   

Norm Lewis (actor) - Coming home from work on the 1 train downtown in the summer of 2017, I got out at 14th St. because the train was skipping my stop (Christopher St./Sheridan Sq.).  Standing next to me on the platform was Broadway actor Norm Lewis, wearing a t-shirt and shorts.  For the life of me I couldn't remember his last name and this, combined me being tired and wilted from the warm platform, kept me from telling him that I enjoyed his performance in Porgy & Bess that I saw in 2012.  We both got on the next train and he got out at my stop and then went to Starbucks in Sheridan Square.


Norm lewis  


David Muir (anchorman, ABC World News Tonight) - I was on the uptown platform at the Christopher St. station on a weekday afternoon in late March 2018 when he came through the turnstile and sat down on a bench.   

Richard Kind (actor, Spin City) - On my way home from work on the evening of Sept. 25, 2018 he passed me on the stairway leading up from the subway platform at the Times Square station.

Fran Leibowitz (author, raconteur) - In May 2021, about half an hour after returning to New York after an extended visit with my mother, I left my apartment to go food shopping, and at the corner of my street and Sixth Ave., Fran Leibowitz walked by, and I thought to myself that I really felt like I was back in New York!


Fran leibowitz



- AT THE GYM (Crunch/Archive Building) -

Dean Winters (The All-State 'Mayhem' guy) - He was working out with a trainer.  Then in the winter he walked by  me at the corner of Greenwich Ave. and West 10th St.

Andrew Sullivan (blogger/political commentator) - On another occasion I was walking behind him, his husband and dog on Bleecker St. near the now-closed Manatus restaurant.  




Rupert Everett (actor) - Saw him on numerous occasions in 2000 and 2001.  He usually wore a cap, white sweatshirt and blue sweatpants.

John Lutz (30 Rock/comedy writer) - A regular on the treadmill beginning two or three years ago.  Over the course of this time he slimmed down noticeably.




Chris Meloni (LA Law/HBO's Oz) - I stood behind him at the water fountain.

Sandra Bernhard (Comedian/actress) - I also spotted her in the checkout line at Citarella where she was dressed all in white (including a hat).

Calvin Klein (fashion designer) - This was my most recent sighting (January 2016) but it wasn't at Crunch, but at the New York Sports Club on Seventh Ave. South, which I switched to in 2013.  During a Saturday afternoon weight workout I saw him working out with a trainer.  I overheard them discussing men's briefs.  Calvin was touting the 2xist label while the trainer was raving about the H&M brand.  This sighting surprised me because I had heard CK was a member of the more exclusive Equinox gym.  After this sighting I saw him at the gym three or four other times.



Neil Sedaka (composer/singer) - He was one of many guests who attended our house's annual Hat Party, in August 2003.




Sam Champion (TV weatherman) - This was in the late 1990s when he was still the local weatherman on Channel 7.  The first time I saw him he was playing in the surf with his dog.  The second time he was sashaying ever so slowly down Fire Island Boulevard with his long haired boyfriend at the time.

Jerry Mitchell (Tony Award winning choreographer) - Saw him at Sip'n Twirl during evening tea dance, summer of 2013.




Andy Cohen (Bravo exec/Real Housewives) - Buying cold cuts at Pines Pantry grocery store, August 2013.

David Geffen (Record executive) - He briefly owned a house at the end of the walk where my house was the was previously owned by Calvin Klein - who I also saw out there.




Carson Kressley (Queer Eye for the Straight Guy) - Mr. Personality, I've passed by him on Fire Island Blvd. and seen him at low tea.




Judd Apatow (Movie director) - During the summer of 2009 Apatow, his actress wife Leslie Mann, and their two daughters were standing behind me in the ticket line for the Titanic artifact exhibition at the Discovery Times Square Exposition Center.  And then very recently (April 2014) I saw him walking with one of his daughters along Bleecker St. near Bank Street tin the West Village.




Brooke Shields (Actress/model) - In the early 1980s, when she was still in her teens, I saw her walking through the first floor of Bloomingdale's with her mother.  She looked very self-conscious, walking quickly, eyes downcast and biting her lip.

Ron Darling (Mets pitcher) - I was walking to work in the late 1980s when I passed by him on East 30s/Madison Ave.  He lived in Manhattan's Murray Hill neighborhood at the time.

BD Wong (Actor) - We walked past each other in the Manhattan Mall a few weeks before Christmas 2008.




Liz Smith (Gossip Columnist) I was having lunch on the outside terrace of El Rio Grande on Third Avenue and East 38th St. in the spring of 2008 when she walked through the tables on the way to her apartment building which was adjacent to the restaurant.

Frank Perdue (Businessman) - I rode in the elevator with him at my office building at 800 Third Ave.  His account was with the ad agency I was working for at the time in 1980 - Scali, McCabe, Sloves.

Al Franken (Comedian, US Senator) - Another elevator encounter, this time in my office building at 3 Park Ave. in 2004.  Franken was on his way to the liberal radio network, Air America.  This was before he was elected to the US Senate.




Buck Henry (Sat. Night Live comedy writer and actor) - He was my first celebrity siting, occurring in July 1979 as I was walking to the big post office on 3rd Ave. between 55th & 56th Streets (FDR Station) with a co-worker at lunchtime. 

Hal Linden (Barney Miller) - Like Buck Henry I spotted him on 3rd Ave. in the 50s while I was out for lunch.  This was during the Spring of 1980.






Andrew Rannells (Broadway and TV actor) - This encounter was on a Friday afternoon in April 2014.  He walked into the Karavas pizza joint in Sheridan Square as I was waiting for a slice I had ordered for a late lunch.  I told him that I had just seen him perform at the Broadway Cares event, "Broadway Backwards", where he sang The Man That Got Away




Victor Garber (Broadway, TV and movie actor)- I was going to a Wednesday matinee of Evita in August 2012 and spotted him waiting for the #1 uptown local at 14th St.  I walked over to him and told him how much I enjoyed him in Showtime's sitcom Web Therapy (in which he plays Lisa Kudrow's gay husband).  I've also seen him walking in front of Gourmet Garage. 




Paul Schneider (Parks & Recreation/the movie The Family Stone) - I saw him on 6th Ave near my apartment as I was exiting the ATM at HSBC.  At first I didn't recognize him because his hair was long.  I told him that I was sorry he was no longer on the show and he told me that he left because his character wasn't developing the way he had hoped.




David Hodo (Construction worker character from the original Village People) - He was a guest at a brunch I attended in March 2013 on the Upper West Side.  He wasn't introduced as the construction worker, but a friend of mine took me aside and told me.

Tanner Cohen (Actor) - In 2008 he starred in a sweet gay-themed film Were the World Mine, which I saw.  Then a few months after I saw it I was walking through H&M on lower 5th Ave. when he walked into the store.  I stopped him and told him how much I enjoyed him and the movie - this was the first time I ever spoke to a celeb.




Cherry Jones (Actor) - In addition to seeing her on the subway, in April 2022 I found myself standing behind her in the checkout line at Westside Market (14th St. and Seventh Ave.).  I told her that I recognized her even thought she was wearing a face mask.  I then mentioned how I liked seeing her in the HBO show Succession.






A Smorgasbord of Super Bowl Facts & Figures: A Game-by-Game Review (1967 - 2023)





Whether it's the game, the high-profile advertising, or its halftime show, the Super Bowl has something for nearly everyone - no wonder it attracts more than 100 million viewers.  (The only thing missing is a red carpet ceremony!)  To salute this all-encompassing event, what follows are brief summaries of each of the fifty-three Super Bowls, a quirky melange of milestones and fun facts - perfect for entertaining friends and family when they gather together for this year's game. 



The first "AFL-NFL World Championship" game aired on two TV networks.  It had the smallest stadium attendance of any Super Bowl - 61,946.





The Packers won for the second year in a row.  "Cheeseheads" would then have to wait until 1997 until their next Super Bowl appearance.  Two weeks after this win the Packers iconic coach, Vince Lombardi, announced his retirement.   


This Super Bowl set a record for the fewest combined touchdowns, two.  The New York Jets' stunning upset of the Colts (who were 18 point favorites) was replicated later that year with the Mets' improbable World Series victory over the Orioles.  





The game was played with wet field conditions and under a threat of tornadoesCarol Channing provided halftime entertainment. 


A field goal with five seconds left in the game broke a tie, giving Baltimore a victory over Dallas.  The cost of a :30 spot was 8% lower than the previous year (only four other years would have a price decrease).  Two years after singing the National Anthem, orange juice queen, Anita Bryant, performed this year's halftime show (this was six years before she became notorious for leading the charge against gay rights legislation in Dade Co.).  The game had the earliest East Coast kick-off time of any Super Bowl - 2 PM. 


At kick-off the temperature at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans was 38°, making it the coldest of all Super Bowls (of those played outdoors).  The Cowboys defeated the Dolphins, who were limited to three points - the fewest points by a Super Bowl participant. 





A year after the coldest playing conditions for a Super Bowl, this year's had the warmest as the temperature was 84° in Los Angeles at kick-off time.  Then the Miami Dolphins completed an undefeated season with a Super Bowl victory.  Their 14 points were the fewest scored by any winning team.  Their opponents, the Redskins, were held scoreless until 2:07 was left in the 4th Quarter.





This was the first Super Bowl to charge $100,000 for a :30 commercial ($480,000 in today's inflation-adjusted dollars). 


At halftime the score was Steelers 2 Vikings 0, the fewest combined points in the first half of any Super Bowl. 


It was a very chilly day in Miami, with a kick-off temperature of only 57°.  The telecast had the highest share of viewing of any Super Bowl - 78%.  A Bicentennial themed halftime show featured the squeaky clean singers and dancers known as "Up With People". 





Super Bowl XI took place on Jan. 9, the earliest date ever.  It was also the first game played before a crowd of 100,000+.  Rather than sing the National Anthem at the start of the game, Vikki Carr sang America the Beautiful.  This was the Vikings fourth, and last, Super Bowl appearance (they lost all four games). 


This was the first Super Bowl played in a domed stadium, New Orleans' Superdome (it would be held there six more times).  It was also the first with a kick-off time after 6 PM on the East Coast (6:17). 


The 31 points scored by the Cowboys was the most by a losing team (the Steelers won with 34 points).  This record was later tied by the 49ers in 2013 (the Ravens won with 35).





Nearly 104,000 attended the game at the LA Coliseum, the largest Super Bowl crowd ever.  One of the game's participants was the Los Angeles Rams, the first Super Bowl participant to play in its own TV market.  For the second time the Steelers won back-to-back Super Bowls (the first time was in 1975 and 1976) - the only team to do so. 


To honor the American hostages in Iran who were released five days earlier, attendees were given yellow bows to hold in the air.  The price of a :30 spot was 45% higher than the previous year - the biggest year-to-year increase of any year. 


This was the highest rated of any Super Bowl, with a 49.1 household rating.  The first Super Bowl to be played in a northern city (Detroit), it was played in a domed stadium, thereby protecting spectators and players from outdoor temperatures that hovered around 20 degrees.






The 1982 NFL season had been shortened by seven games due to a players strike in Sept/October.  Still, interest was quite high for the Super Bowl as the game posted its second highest rating.  After the game NBC premiered The A Team


Apple's famed "1984" commercial aired during the game.  Before the game Barry Manilow sang the National Anthem.





The game was played at Stanford Stadium in foggy conditions.  Featuring the 49ers and Dolphins, it was played just 25 miles from the 49ers stadium - the second Super Bowl participant to have close to a home field advantage (the first was the LA Rams in 1980).  The cost of a :30 commercial was 40% higher than that of 1984's game. 


This was the first Super Bowl appearance by "Da Bears".  It was the last game to get a 70 share of viewing until 2012.





Anheuser-Busch introduced Bud Light mascot Spuds MacKenzie during the game.  And after the game Disney unveiled its "I'm Going to Disneyland!" campaign.






One year after the Giants set the record for most points scored in the second half of a Super Bowl, the Redskins set the mark for most in the first half, with 35.  All of these points were scored in the 2nd quarter - the most for any quarter.  The game's 41.9 household rating was the lowest in 14 years.  Herb Alpert performed the last instrumental version of the National Anthem. 


Coke aired a commercial in 3-D during halftime (glasses were distributed at supermarkets).  Also, Anheuser-Busch aired a series of ads called "The Bud Bowl" between teams of animated bottles of Bud Light and Budweiser.  Hundreds of Elvis impersonators performed during halftime, but no Elvis songs were performed.  (On a personal note, I won $50 in the office pool for the First Quarter score.)


This was the most one-sided Super Bowl as the 49ers crushed the Broncos 55-10.  It was also quarterback Joe Montana's 4th Super Bowl win, tying him with the Steelers' Terry Bradshaw.  This was the third time the Broncos appeared in the past four years - all losses.  The game's 39.0 household rating was the lowest since 1969. 


This game is remembered for Whitney Houston's powerful rendition of the National Anthem.  The game was a heart breaker for Buffalo as their kicker missed a game-winning field goal in the game's final second.  With a final score of 20-19, this is the only Super Bowl decided by one point.





Fox counter programmed the Super Bowl's halftime show with its comedy show In Living Color, and it created a noticeable viewing dip as the game's rating fell 24% from the 2nd quarter (a loss of 22 million viewers).  This was also the first Super Bowl to use a signer during the singing of the National Anthem.





The Cowboys 21 points in the 4th Quarter was the most ever scored in that quarter.  Final score was 52-17.  To prevent counter programming from stealing its halftime audience, Michael Jackson performed - the beginning of high profile acts appearing at halftime.





Despite the Bills' kicker Steve Christie kicking the longest field goal in Super Bowl history (54 yards), Buffalo lost the Super Bowl for the fourth year in a row. 


This was the first Super Bowl to charge $1 million for a :30 ad unit.  As for the game, the 49ers were 18-1/2 point favorites, the biggest spread ever, and won by 23, 49-26.  49ers quarterback Steve Young set a Super Bowl mark by throwing six touchdown passes.  The two teams combined for 75 points, most ever.  This is the only Super Bowl played between two West Coast teams (the San Diego Chargers was the other team).  This was the 49ers' fifth Super Bowl win, and it would their last time at the Big Game until 2013.  During the game the Budweiser frogs, Bud, Wies and Er, were first introduced.





Diana Ross headlined the halftime show and ended her performance with a dramatic exit by helicopter.  An episode of Friends aired after the game and delivered an audience of 52 million, making it the largest Super Bowl lead-out ever. 


The 24 points scored in the 1st quarter (New England 14 Green Bay 10) was the most ever.  This was the Packers first Super Bowl appearance since Super Bowl II. 


The pre-game show was hosted by Sat. Night Live's Phil Hartman, who was murdered by his wife three months later.





Cher, whose latest single Believe was rising on the charts, sang the National Anthem.





The average price of a :30 spot topped $2 million.  Host city, Atlanta, was plagued by two ice storms in the week leading up to the game.  This Super Bowl is often referred to as the "Dot-com Bowl" because nineteen dot-com companies aired commercials (nearly half of them were out of business within a few years, including Pets.com).





Following the game the Season 2 premiere of Survivor aired, and its audience of 47 million was the second largest of any post-game programming. 


The game was played at New Orleans' Superdome for the sixth time, most of any venue (a seventh time would be in 2013).  This Super Bowl had the distinction of having the latest kick-off time (on the East Coast) - 6:40 PM.  As for the game, the Patriots kicked a field goal with seven seconds remaining to win.  President Bush became the first president involved in any part of the game as he participated in the opening coin toss.  As U2 sang Where the Streets Have No Name during halftime, the names of all those who died on 9-11 were displayed on a white sheet behind the stage.  For the second year in a row the price of a :30 ad declined.





In their first Super Bowl appearance, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won.  With a temperature of 82° at kick-off time, this was the second warmest Super Bowl.  This was also the fourth Super Bowl to be played on Jan. 26 - the most of any date. 


This game is known for the "Nipplegate" halftime incident between Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson.  As for the game, the 37 combined points scored in the 4th quarter was the most scored in any quarter of a Super Bowl.  And two years after New England won with seven seconds left, this year they won the game with eight seconds remaining.





Animal Planet aired its first Puppy Bowl opposite the game.  New England won for the second year in a row, the eighth time a team had back-to-back championships.





The Rolling Stones provided the halftime entertainment.  This was the first Super Bowl to use a five-second delay during the show. 


This is the only Super Bowl in which the opening kickoff was returned for a touchdown.  Prince's halftime show took place in a steady rain.  An ad for Snickers created controversy because it showed two kissing after eating a Snickers bar from opposite ends.





In winning the Super Bowl, the Giants handed the Patriots their only loss of the season.  The E-Trade baby made his first appearance during the telecast.





The Steelers came from behind in the final minute to beat the Arizona Cardinals for their sixth Super Bowl victory, the most of any team.  Despite the Great Recession, the price of a :30 saw a price increase. 


The Saints won in their first Super Bowl appearance.  The night's most popular commercial was for Snickers in which Betty White gets tackled during a football game.





Christina Aguilera sang the Star-Spangled Banner and got some of the lyrics wrong.  This was the first time Dallas hosted the Super Bowl. 


Madonna provided the halftime entertainment and perhaps helped make this the Super Bowl with the largest TV audience -111.4 million (not to be confused with highest rating, which was in 1982).





The game's second half was delayed 34 minutes due to a partial power failure.  Nine years after she was tapped to sing the National Anthem, Beyonce provided the halftime entertainment in a fierce get up that was a cross between Victoria's Secret and dominatrix.  The Ravens' Super Bowl victory was the first for the city of Baltimore since 1971 - when its NFL team was the Colts.





This was the first Super Bowl played in an uncovered northern stadium, in northern New Jersey.  In the midst of a harsh/snowy winter the weather turned out not to be an issue as the temperature at game time was 49°.  (Eight inches of snow fell the following day.)  Renee Fleming was the first opera singer to sing the National Anthem.  As for the game, the Broncos gave up a safety on the opening play and it was downhill from there, with the Seattle Seahawks easily winning 44-8.  


The Seahawks appeared in the game for the second year in a row and it appeared as if they were on their way to another victory, but then New England ended their scoring drive by intercepting a pass at the one-yard line with 24 seconds left to play.  Katy Perry  was the primary halftime entertainment which was marked by dancing sharks.  She ended by swinging across the field on a wire.  This was the first game to offer :15 commercials.  The game had the largest audience of any Super Bowl (but not the highest rating, which was posted in 1982), with peaks during halftime and in the game's closing minutes (121 million viewers).





This was the Golden Anniversary of the Super Bowl (i.e., the 50th) and it was also the final game of Denver Bronco quarterback Peyton Manning's 17-year career, and he made it memorable with a victory - Denver's third Super Bowl championship.  This was the first Super Bowl to charge $5 million for a :30 commercial.  Carolina Panther QB, Cam Newton, came across as a sore loser when he walked out of the post-game news conference.


Payton manning super bowl 50


This was the first Super Bowl that went into overtime.  Down 28-3 near the end of the Third Quarter, the Patriots made the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history, beating the Atlanta Falcons, 34-28.  This was the Patriots' fifth Super Bowl victory (one behind the Steelers).  Country singer Luke Bryan was the first male singer to perform the National Anthem in ten years (when Billy Joel sang it).  Halftime entertainment was provided by Lady Gaga.  With the game coming just two weeks after Donald Trump's inauguration, there was speculation about whether she would make some sort of anti-Trump statement since she was known for making political statements.  And while there was nothing overt, it was felt that her choice of two patriotic songs at the beginning of her set, God Bless America and This Land is Your Land, was intended to suggest the need for prayer for the nation, and a reminder of the ideals that were the basis of the nation's founding.


Tom brady super bowl LI



This year a comeback by the Patriots' (appearing in their tenth Super Bowl) was thwarted by a fumble in the closing minutes, enabling the Philadelphia Eagles to win their first Super Bowl.  A very small consolation for New England was the fact that the 33 points it scored was the most to be scored by a losing team.  Despite the game being an exciting one the average viewing audience was the smallest in nine years.  Halftime entertainment was provided by Justin Timberlake, 14 years after his and Janet Jackson's controversial 'Nipplegate' performance during that Super Bowl's halftime.




For the first time in ten years the Super Bowl, which was the lowest scoring ever (Patriots 13 Rams 3), had an average-minute audience of less than 100 million. The halftime show featuring Maroon 5 and some rap stars from Atlanta (which hosted the game) paled in comparison to previous halftimes starring the likes of Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars, Madonna and Katy Perry.  For me the most memorable part of the game was a commercial for Burger King that used footage from a 1960s documentary showing Andy Warhol unwrapping a BK hamburger and putting Heinz ketchup on it.  And although Burger King paid for the :45 ad (estimated cost of $7.8 million), Heinz had equally prominent placement.


Andy warhol


Six weeks before COVID shut down the nation, the Chiefs won Super Bowl LIV after a memorable late-game comeback. Down 21-10 at the start of the 4th Quarer, Kansas City scored three unanswered touchdowns in the game's final seven minutes to defeat the 49er's 31-21.  This comeback somewhat one-upped J-Lo's and Shakira's scintillating halftime show.


J-lo and shakira_2020 super bowl


COVID restrictions were in place for Super Bowl LV, in which defending champions, the Chiefs, were beat by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-9, behind quarterback Tom Brady, his first season playing for Tampa Bay after his storied carrer with the Patriots (this was Brady's tenth Super Bowl appearance, and his seventh Super Bowl ring).   Space restrictions resulted in a crowd of fewer than 25,000 being allowed in (one-third of seats were given to healthcare workers).  The Wkend was the halftime performer and his show had a rather dramatic, sinister feel to it.


Tom brady's seventh super bowl



The Bengals went to 0-3 in Super Bowls after the San Diego Rams scored the winning touchdown with less then two minutes left to the game (final score: 23-20).  Those attending the game in Inglewood, CA were required to show proof of COVID vaccination and a negative PCR test within 48 hours of the game.  The match-up featured the youngest pairing of head coaches in a Super Bowl (both were under 40).  The halftime show was a tribute to legends of hip hop, with appearances by Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blighe, and Kendrick Lamar.  Finally, Super Bowl LIV was referred to as the "Crytocurrency Bowl" because of a perponderance of commercials from crytpo-currency companies, including FTX which shelled out $15 million for a two-minute spot starring Curb Your Enthusiam's Larry David.     

Crypto bowl 2022


Super Bowl LVII was the first to feature starting quarterbacks facing each other who were black - Patrick Mahomes (Chiefs) and Jalen Hurts (Eagles).  In an exciting game that had constant scoring, the Chiefs scored the winning touchdown with about two minutes left to beat the Eagles, 38-35.  The 35 points scored by the Eagles were the most by a losing team.  Singing superstar Rihanna (who was in the early states of pregnancy performed at halftime on a platform suspended over the playing field that rose and dropped.  She sang a dozen of her hits, but didn't include early hits Pon de Replay, Don't Stop the Music, and Shut Up and Drive


Rihanna at 2023 super bowl





Memories of Superstorm Sandy: A First-Person Account




As the monster storm named Sandy approached New York my chief concern, as it was with Hurricane Irene the year before, was my living room window.  Measuring 8 X 8 feet, this large panel of glass shakes whenever strong winds come from out of the east.  With the forecast warning of winds gusting between 60 and 85 miles per hour, I lined the window with cardboard from discarded boxes collected from the supermarket.  I did this the evening before the storm hit while watching the final innings of Game 4 of the World Series (which would be the final game as the Giants swept the Tigers). 


Since Manhattan has no overhead power lines I wasn't overly concerned about losing power; therefore, I was thrown for a loop on Monday afternoon (Oct. 29) when Con Ed sent out a robo-call alerting its customers that power might be turned off as a precautionary measure because of the prospect of flooding where its generators were situated.  I wasn't prepared for this so I scrambled to find a flashlight and the few candles I had in the apartment.




I stayed indoors all day keeping my fingers crossed as gale force winds shook my building and rattled the windows.  Then, early in the evening, perhaps because of cabin fever, I ventured outside with my friend Tom, who lives in the apartment building next door.  Perhaps foolishly, we braved the high winds and walked over to the Hudson River to see what conditions were like, dodging the occasional tree branch or trash can rolling down the sidewalk.  When we got to the Christopher St. pier the river was just beginning to splash and spray over its banks from the storm surge (which meant the water level of the river had risen six or seven feet).  This was at around 6:00.  A few hours later the water had risen high enough to cover the West Side Highway and flood shops adjacent to the highway.






Back in my apartment, the lights flickered a few times as I ate dinner.  Then, shortly after I had finished eating and washed the dishes, the power went out at 8:15 - and stayed off until Saturday morning (a period of four-and-a-half days).  I went on Facebook where I saw status updates from friends reporting on the flooding that had begun in Manhattan.  A bit later I heard police announcements from speakers ordering people to stay indoors.




Because three grocery stores are within walking distance of my apartment I rarely stock up on food.  However, with the impending storm creating panic shopping, on the Sunday before the storm I decided to buy provisions for a few days while there was still food on the store's shelves.  Now with the power off I regretted this decision as I now had a well-stocked fridge.  Luckily, the weather was on the cool side (40s at night, 50s during the day) so I didn't lose anything in my freezer and I ate the perishables I had over the next few days.  (I drank a pint of vanilla ice cream like it was a milkshake.)





I awoke on Tuesday morning and not only was there still no power, but my cell phone and laptop needed recharging.  In my laptop's waning moments I read that most of Manhattan above 38th Street had power, so I called my friends Bob and Audre on E. 43rd St. in Tudor City to ask if I might stop by to recharge my devices.  Before I ventured up to their place I stopped by Tom's apartment to see if he had any interest in walking there with me to do the same.  He was very happy to see me because he had no cell phone service through AT&T and wanted to phone his boss.  Luckily for him, my cell provider was Verizon.  When he called he learned that the hospital he worked at on the East Side was closed because of serious flooding. 


As we walked to Tudor City from the West Village (40 blocks away, the walk took about an hour) we passed by Washington Square Park and surveyed the extensive tree damage there.  Tudor City, too, had large trees blown down. 




Once at my friend's place I heard for the first time the extent of the damage suffered throughout the area.  Walking back home later that evening was a creepy experience because there were no lights south of 38th St., and the streets were eerily quiet.




The next day, Wednesday, was Halloween but Greenwich Village's famous Halloween parade had been cancelled.  However, the gay bar down the street from my apartment, the Monster, was open.  It had a generator along with a plentiful supply of candles and stayed open as long as its supply of ice held out.  The darkness outside made for an appropriately spooky atmosphere.  I went there with my friends Andy, Maury and Tom and we stayed for about half an hour.  Because public transportation was still largely shut down the gathering of patrons was limited to people from the neighborhood, which was nice.




Venturing back out into the pitch black night, we were curious if any restaurants might be open.  We lucked out on Christopher St. where a Peruvian place, Lima's Taste, was open - with a very limited menu.  To provide light the wait staff wore headbands that had small flashlights attached to them!  And although the streets were dark it wasn't too unnerving because very few ghouls or goblins were out - and there was a police presence.


After roughing it on Tuesday and Wednesday, once subway service was partially restored on Thursday, I decided to stay with my friend David who lived in Astoria in Queens.  It was wonderful having power, heat, hot water, and TV once again.  I stayed there until Saturday afternoon when I got a text from Tom telling me the power had been restored to our neighborhood.  Once home, the first thing I did was go to the gym - which I hadn't been to in a week.


Prior to this nearly five-day blackout the longest I'd gone without electricity was 20 hours during the blackout of Aug. 14, 2003.  However, that experience was more trying because it happened on a 90-degree day.  As with that blackout I considered myself fortunate.  Despite the inconveniences Sandy caused, at least I had running water (those living in high-rises weren't so lucky because of water pressure issues), and I only had to walk up five flights of stairs.  And, of course, I was so much more fortunate than those residents who lived near the ocean and had to contend with the loss of more than just their power.








The Death of Fred Astaire (June 22, 1987)

Fred.astaire.leaping Fred.astaire.closeupFred Astaire's death stands out in my mind because it coincided with a career milestone.  After spending nearly six years at ad agency Young & Rubicam I left to take a job as media research manager at NWAyer (at the time, the oldest agency in the country).  My first day on the job, June 22, 1987, was the day Astaire died, at the age of 88.  I heard word of his death after returning from a welcome lunch.  Another memory of that afternoon is that a guest staying at the Warwick Hotel, which was across the street from the office, had jumped to his death.


Years later, this suicide came up in conversation with a boss of mine at another ad agency, and she told me that the same thing happened on her first day at a new job.  We determined that it was the same suicide since her first day was the same as mine - and with a company in the same office building - the Burlington Building on 6th Ave. between 54th and 55th Streets.   


Astaire.hepburnGetting back to Astaire - He didn't get his start in Hollywood until he was in his mid-30s.  Between 1933 and 1957 he appeared in 30 movie musicals with his dance partners including Ginger Rogers (in 10 pictures), Eleanor Powell and Rita Hayworth, among others.  And although he was a remarkably sleek and athletic dancer his sex appeal alluded me (unlike that of Gene Kelly).  I cringed while watching two classic films from 1957 where the 58-year-old Astaire was romantically paired with much younger actresses - 28-year-old Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face and 35-year old Cyd Charisse in Silk Stockings.