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Remembering My Favorite Episode of "Seinfeld" (October 28, 1992)

Seinfeld panties episode

 

Although Seinfeld aired 180 episodes in its nine seasons on NBC I can easily say which is my favorite of them all.  No, it's not the "Master of Your Domain" episode, not the one about "The Soup Nazi", or even "The Bubble Boy".  Rather, it was the episode known as "The Cheever Letters", which I think of as the 'Panties' episode.  It aired on October 28, 1992 during the sitcom's fourth season.  The episode is filled with hilarious moments discussed below: 

 

The episode opens with George and his fiance Susan informing her parents that their cabin, which Susan's dad was very attached to, had burnt to the ground.  Her tipsy mother gets a kick out of this news and upon her laughing uproariously, Susan's dad looks at her with disdain and tells her to "put on more lipstick".

 

Susan's mom laughing at news about cabin on seinfeld

 

Upon finding muddy wheelchair tracks on the living room carpet Susan's mother scolds her wheelchair-bound sister-in-law with the exasperated comment, "It's just a matter of common courtesy, when you come into the house you wipe your wheels!" 

 

Wheel chair bound

 

Letters in a strong box found in the debris of the destroyed cabin reveal that Susan's father had carried on an affair with author John Cheever.  Susan begins reading one of the letters out loud in front of the family, as well as George and Jerry.  One sentence reads, "I fear my orgasm has left me a cripple."  Susan's wheel bound aunt exclaims triumphantly, "I knew it!" 

 

Cheevers love letters

 

Meanwhile Kramer visits the Cuban embassy to get cigars and does a comical double take of a mysterious, elderly woman wearing sunglasses sitting silently in the reception area.

 

Seinfeld woman at cuban embassy
 

However, what made this my favorite episode is the storyline in which Jerry makes, what he thought was, an innocent comment during foreplay while on a date with Elaine's secretary: "You mean, the panties your mother laid out for you?"  However, it offended her and she storms out of his apartment.  The next day Jerry tells George about his date and how it progressed to "dirty talk", which enthralls George, but upon hearing Jerry's comment he looks puzzled, responding, "It's not offensive, abnormal perhaps, but not offensive."

 

Seinfeld panties episode2

 

And then come the closing minutes of the episode.  Jerry had been worried that Elaine's secretary might confide in her about their date and asks Elaine if she mentioned anything to her and Elaine says no.  But then, as Elaine leaves Jerry's apartment, she casually tells him that she has to stop by her mother's apartment because her mom bought her some new panties, which she has "all laid out" for her!  This was such a wicked surprise because up until then Jerry was under the impression that Elaine had no idea what had occurred during his date.

 

Seinfeld - panties laid out


Memories of Pittsburgh TV & Radio Personalities from My Childhood

Clark.race.kdkaradio

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.)

 

LEE ARTHUR

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.

 

Lee.arthur.kdka

JACK BOGUT

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.)

 

Jack.bogut.kdka

 

CHUCK BRINKMAN

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.

 

Chuck.brinkman.kqv

BILL BURNS

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.

 

Bill.burns.kdka

BILL CARDILLE

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.)

 

Bill.cardille   

MYRON COPE

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.

Myron.cope

BILL CURRIE

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.

 

Bill.currie.kdka

 

JOE DE NARDO

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.

 

Joe.dinardo.wtae

 

BOB KUDZMA

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.

 

Bob.kudzma.weatherman

 

PAUL LONG

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.

 

Paul.long.wtae

 

NICK PERRY

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.

 

Nick.perry.bowling

 

BOB PRINCE & NELLIE KING

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.

 

Bobprince.nellieking.pittsburghpirates
Nellie King (L) & Bob Prince (R)

JIM QUINN

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).

 

Jimquinn.kqv

CLARK RACE

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.

 

Clark.race

 

ELEANOR SCHANO

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

 

Eleanor.schano.wtae

 

ED SCHAUGHENCY

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.

 

PAUL SHANNON

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.

 

Paul.shannon

 

DICK STOCKTON

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).

 

Dick.stockton

 

MARIE TORRE

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.

 

Marie.torre.kdka

 

RICKI WERTZ

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

Ricki.wertz.juniorhighquiz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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).


Recalling Celebrity Sightings in New York City

LeonardodecaprioSubway-celebs-1 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.)

 

Philipseymourhoffman.newyork

 

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.

 

Jake-gyllenhaal-night-crawler-night-reporter-02

 

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.

 

Emmastone

 

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.

 

Aziz.ansari

 

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

Willem Dafoe (Actor) - Walking in front of Gourmet Garage.

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.

 

Everett.quinton

 

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.

 

Michael.urie_buyerandcellar

 

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.

 

Harvey.weinstein

 

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.

 

Louisck

 

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.

 

Mark.adsit

 

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.

 

Lee.delaria

 

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.

 

John.cameron.mitchell

 

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.

 

Andy-cohen-baby-benjamin

 

John Mulaney (stand-up comic) - On an unseasonably warm Saturday afternoon in November 2020 (it was 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

 

- ON THE SUBWAY -

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.

 

Cherry.jones

 

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.

 

Chris.parnell

 

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 (anchor, 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.

 

- AT THE GYM (Crunch/Archive Building) -

Dean Winters (The All-State 'Mayhem' guy) - Working out with a trainer.

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.

 

Andrew.sullivan

 

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.

 

John.lutz

 

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.

 

- FIRE ISLAND -

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

 

Neilsedaka

 

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.

 

Jerry.mitchell

 

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.

 

David.geffen

 

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.

 

- MANHATTAN, NORTH OF 23rd ST. -

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.

 

Juddapatow.lesliemann

 

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.

 

Bdwong

 

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.

 

Alfranken

 

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.

 

Hal.linden

 

- CELEBS I'VE SPOKEN TO -

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

 

Andrew.rannells

 

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. 

 

Victor_garber_webtherapy

 

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.

 

Paul.schneider

 

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.

 

Tanner.cohen

 

 

 

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OJ Simpson Freeway Chase Mesmerizes The Nation (June 17, 1994)

White-bronco The evening of June 17, 1994, a Friday, was warm and muggy and I had just returned to my apartment in Greenwich Village after a five-mile run in Hudson River Park.  Before showering I turned on the TV to check the score of Game 5 of the NBA Finals between the New York Knicks and Houston Rockets.  Instead, what appeared on the screen was a white SUV speeding along a highway.  I thought that perhaps it was a scene from a repeat of NBC's Law & Order, but when I changed channels it was also on ABC, CBS and CNN. 

 

I soon learned that the white Bronco was carrying OJ Simpson on LA’s 405 Freeway, and it was being pursued by a phalanx of LAPD police cruisers.  It seems OJ, who was the prime suspect in the murder of his 35-year-old wife, Nicole, and her male friend earlier in the week, didn't turn himself in, as he had agreed, and was now sitting in the back of the vehicle holding a gun to his head and threatening to shoot himself.

 

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The chase was so mesmerizing I couldn’t pull myself away to go to the grocery store to get dinner.  I watched for at least two hours waiting for the moment when, befitting this perfect Greek tragedy, OJ was going to end it all.  What sticks with me was the circus-like atmosphere as cars pulled over on the freeway and crowds lined the road and overpasses cheering (or jeering) as he drove by.  And when the Bronco finally pulled into the driveway of OJ’s home another surreal thing happened.  An eyewitness claiming to be across the street from OJ’s house was interviewed on the phone by ABC News’ Peter Jennings but he turned out to be a crank caller who made an inane comment about his allegiance to Howard Stern.

 

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In happier days ...

 

 

Fast forward sixteen months to Oct. 3, 1995, the day of the verdict in OJ’s murder trial.  I was eating lunch in my office (at ad agency Foote, Cone & Belding) and turned on the radio to listen to the live coverage of the jury’s verdict.  I had decided not to watch the coverage on TV in the conference room with others because I didn’t want to see which co-workers might be happy if he was found innocent.  When I heard the not-guilty verdict I got up and closed the door to my office and sat for a while with my eyes closed trying to process the jury's decision before continuing with the rest of my day.

 


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Johnny Carson Steps Down As "Tonight Show" Host (May 22, 1992)

Bette_midler_johnny_carsonJohnny Carson's final week as host of the Tonight Show in May 1992 coincided with me packing and moving into the Greenwich Village apartment (where I still live in 2014).  My official move-in date wasn't until June 1, but the apartment had been vacant for a number of months so I was permitted to move in early.  While packing during the first half of the week, I tuned in to Tonight and watched a stream of honored celebs pay tribute to Johnny.  On the penultimate telecast, and the first night living at my new address, I watched Bette Midler sing her charming version of You Made Me Watch You to Johnny while she sat on his desk. 

 

 

These episodes were more uplifting than the last somewhat somber telecast that simply had Johnny reminiscing about his 30 years as host - with no guests.  Not surprisingly, it delivered a stupendous (for the Late Night time period) Nielsen household rating of 28 and a 63 share of viewing; 41 million persons tuned in (compared to a typical 6.7 million). 
 

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After Johnny left Tonight, it was almost as if he had died as he largely disappeared from public view until his death in 2005.  the Tonight Show's Jay Leno era began three days later on May 25.  Leno remained host until February 2014 when Jimmy Fallon took over the helm (Leno's reign was interrupted briefly in 2009 when Conan O'Brien was appointed host and Leno moved to primetime).  An enjoyable book about Carson's Tonight Show reign is Here's Johnny: 30 Years as America's Favorite Late Night Entertainer.

 

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Three other notable TV events occurred that week in May 1992.  First, Vice President Dan Quayle castigated actress Candice Bergen's Murphy Brown character for having a baby without the benefit of marriage in the show's last episode of the season (Monday, 5/18).


 

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The following day, the names Joey Buttafuoco and Amy Fisher became part of the nation's zeitgeist after 17-year-old Amy (aka "The Long Island Lolita") shot Buttafuoco's wife Mary Jo in the face at the front door of her home.  This tawdry affair was made into three TV movies that aired within weeks of each other at the end of the year (one starred 18-year old Drew Barrymore).  Finally, on Thursday MTV premiered The Real World, which started TV's "reality" craze.

 

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One more thing I remember about this week is that New York experienced an early heat wave - including a sizzling 93° on the day of Carson's last show.  It turned out to be one of the few hot spells during an unseasonably mild summer - apparently, the result of the cooling effect of clouds of ash from the eruption of the Mount Pinatubo volcano in the Philippines the year before.

 

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Final Episode of "Newhart" Airs - One of the Best Ever (May 21, 1990)

Newhart_opening Final episodes of long-running shows often get high ratings, but rarely do they have memorable storylines.  For instance, the final episode of Seinfeld was derided for being a huge disappointment (especially considering the hype).  And although they delivered huge ratings, does anyone recall much that was memorable about the last episodes of M*A*S*H, Cheers or Friends?  However, the final episode of the Mary Tyler Moore Show was an exception - as was the sendoff for Newhart which aired the night of May 21, 1990.

 

Earlier that afternoon I had attended ABC-TV's "upfront" presentation.  (I worked in TV research for ad agency NWAyer, so attending it was part of my job.)  The big news was about Twin Peaks, which had become a sensation the previous month.  It was renewed for next season and was scheduled on Saturday at 10:00 (what a different world it was back then).  At the party held afterwards I had my photo taken with one of the show's stars, Madchen Anick. 

 

Newhart_final_episode After taking my leave from the raw bar, I rushed home to watch Newhart.  Like everyone else, I was taken completely by surprise by the delightfully zany ending in which Bob (after being hit in the head with a golf ball) wakes up in bed with his wife, Emily (played by Suzanne Pleshette) from his classic Bob Newhart Show from the 1970s - it turned out the Newhart Show was a dream!  This topped the episode's other surprise when the silent brothers "Darrell and the other Darrell" finally spoke.  The telecast posted an 18.9 household rating/29 share (7 share points above the series' season average). 

 

   

 

Tom_poston Suzanne_pleshette Mary_frann Twenty-five years later Bob Newhart is still with us at the age of 85.  Sadly, cast members Mary Frann, Pleshette and Tom Poston have all passed away.  As have the careers of Julia Duffy and Peter Scolari (although he has had a recurring role on HBO's Girls as Hannah's father and Duffy as the mother of the lead character in Looking, another HBO series).

 


Final Episode of "Seinfeld" Airs, Frank Sinatra Dies (May 14, 1998)

Seinfeld_characterture FranksinatraUntil today the biggest event to occur on my birthday was in 1967 when Mickey Mantle hit his 500th home run.  And in 1981 I feared the pope might die on my birthday after he was shot the day before (happily, he survived.)  But then on May 14, 1998 two big pop culture events occurred: the final episode of Seinfeld and the death of Frank Sinatra.  I watched the disappointing one-hour finale (from a mostly dissatisfying last season) with my friends Matthew and Gary at Matthew's apartment on West 57th St.  Although it was my birthday they weren't aware of it, so when our Chinese take-out arrived I felt odd saying "hey, it's my birthday, are you expecting me to contribute?", so I kept quiet.  (A week earlier I figured I'd be spending this day with my boyfriend, but that relationship suddenly unraveled during a rainy weekend out at Fire Island.)  When I woke up the next morning is when I heard the news that Sinatra had died the previous evening. 

 

This episode of Seinfeld telecast delivered a 41.3 household rating/58 share, making it the second highest rated show of the season (behind the Super Bowl).  A powerhouse performance for sure, but it was 9% below the last episode of Cheers five years earlier. 

 

 

 

Bing_family_ties Moonlighting Other shows that aired their final episodes on my birthday include Family Ties (1989); West Wing (2004); and Moonlighting (1990).  However, only Family Ties had much of a ratings sendoff (20.8 rating/35 share).  

 

Rita_hayworth 220px-B_ward01 1939-glinda In addition to Sinatra, some other notable deaths on May 14 were those of Billie Burke (Glinda the Good Witch from The Wizard of Oz) in 1970; Hugh Beaumont (the father in Leave it to Beaver) in 1982; and 1940s va-va-voom actress Rita Hayworth in 1987.

 

(If you're a Seinfeld fan but have overdosed from watching it in syndication, a refreshing change might be reading about the show in Seinfeld, Master of its Domain: Revisiting TV's Greatest Sitcom.)  

 


Kent State Shootings: 4 Dead in Ohio (May 4, 1970)

Kentstate_shootings It was a mild but sort of hazy Tuesday afternoon.  Rather than take the bus home from school (7th grade at Sto-Rox Middle School) I walked because I stopped off for a haircut.  When I got home I saw that morning's paper, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, on the hassock in the living room.  On the front page was a photo (now iconic) of an overwrought young woman kneeling over the body of a student shot dead at Kent State University by the Ohio National Guard.  The shootings occurred the day before during an anti-war demonstration protesting the US invasion of Cambodia at the end of April.  Guardsmen opened fire on students, killing four and wounding nine.  Although it was in neighboring Ohio, I had never heard of the university. 

 

 

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The four students who were shot dead

 

Perhaps because I was just 12 at the time (and somewhat preoccupied by the onset of puberty) I don't recall there being much talk about this incident among schoolmates or teachers, and at home we usually didn't discuss news events at the dinner table.  But the constant coverage of the Vietnam War was plenty worrisome for my parents since my brother, Darrell, was nearing draft age.  (A lasting memory of the war was hearing the weekly casualty report on the radio while I was getting ready for school.)  

 

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However, once the anti-war song Ohio by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young became popular during the summer the shootings had more resonance with me.  The song begins with the line: "Tin soldiers and Nixon's coming, we're finally on our own.  This summer I hear the drumming. Four dead in Ohio." (The CD Steal This Record provides a collection of some other notable protest songs from the 1960s).  By the time I turned 18 in 1975 the US was out of Vietnam (the fall of South Vietnam to the Communists occurred two weeks before my birthday) and teen boys were no longer required to register for the draft.

 

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Rodney King Verdict Sparks Deadly L.A. Riots (April 29, 1992)

Time_la_riots1992 With our lease up for renewal at the end of May 1992, my roommate had decided to move in with his boyfriend and take a new apartment.  Although I didn't want another roommate situation, I couldn't afford to keep the apartment on my own, so I decided to look for a new apartment.  On April 29, a Wednesday, I left work at 4:00 to see two apartments, one a garden apartment on Christopher St., the other a small one-bedroom in the Sheridan Square area of Greenwich Village, both a few short blocks from where I lived.  Largely because of the amount of light it got (it was on the top floor), I decided to take the second apartment (where I still live).

 

 

After seeing the apartments I got a haircut and then arrived home shortly before 6:00.  I switched on the evening news and heard the breaking story that the LAPD officers involved in last year's Rodney King beating had been acquitted.  The verdict was met with frightening fury by Los Angeles' black community and rioting began shortly thereafter. 

 

Rodney_king_cant_we_allgetalong Later that evening a news-copter showed a truck driver being pulled from the cab of his semi at an intersection in South Central LA.  He was kicked repeatedly in the head and bashed with a cinder block.  Like the beating of King, this video clip was aired endlessly.  Two days later an overwrought Rodney King addressed the media and delivered one of the decade's most quotable lines, "Can't we all just get along?"

 

 

 

Two days later, a Friday, I signed my new lease before going to work.  Then later in the day as I was walking back to work after lunch it seemed that everyone from my office (ad agency NW Ayer, located on West 50th St. at Worldwide Plaza) was walking in the opposite direction.  It turned out the office (like many others) had closed early because of wild stories of looting and transit disruptions. 

 

These rumors turned out to be untrue (e.g., Macy's was being looted, the Brooklyn Bridge had been blocked by rioters), but since no one knew it at the time, my commute home on the subway was made with trepidation as riders wondered what might be occurring above ground.  Indeed, some of the stores in my neighborhood were closed and a few had boarded up their windows. 

 

Later that afternoon I was curious to see if there had been any further problems in my neighborhood so I went for a run but found nothing out of the ordinary except for a larger police presence.  That night President Bush addressed the nation to assess the situation and assure viewers that calm would prevail and justice served.  

 

La_riot_fire The inconvenience suffered by New Yorkers on that day paled by comparison to Angelenos who struggled through nearly a week of unrest.  More than 50 persons were killed, thousands were injured or jailed and property damage was close to $1 billion.  Since the turmoil threatened to spread to affluent neighborhoods, some residents there stood on rooftops with guns.  Sporting events were cancelled, freeway and air traffic was disrupted and restricted.  It was the worst rioting in the U.S. since the assassination of Martin Luther King 24 years earlier.

 

 

Bill_cosby_showThis unrest coincided with the final episode of the Cosby Show on Thursday.  NBC considered postponing the telecast until the following week, but Cosby was against the idea because he felt airing it as scheduled would maintain a semblance of normalcy.  (He asked NBC if he could address viewers in Los Angeles to plead for calm.)  The episode posted a 28 household rating/45 share (nearly double its season average), making it the 6th highest rated telecast of the 1991/92 season.

 

 

 

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