Big Apple Captured By Loose Canon

UPDATED: Friday was the first day of spring, a great day to be in the “greatest city in the world,” as they say each night on Letterman, New York City. Had some time to kill while waiting to head to the set of Rescue Me (see previous post), so did the usual midtown walkabout.
A favorite stop is the Ed Sullivan Theater on Broadway (between W 53rd and 54th), home since 1993 to Late Show with David Letterman. The official New York heritage theater has been used by CBS since 1936, dating back to radio broadcasts. In the ’60s, tapings of panel shows What’s My Line? and To Tell The Truth took place at the Sullivan, which was built in the ’20s and originally called Hammerstein’s Theater.
There was no Letterman taping last Friday afternoon, as the sign on the front door clearly indicated. Another sign, this time just a photocopied 8 x 10, stated that there would be no tapings last Wednesday or Thursday, either. I thought that was a bit odd–to tape only on Monday and Tuesday and ditch the rest of the week–until I remembered about CBS’s coverage of the March Madness college basketball tournament, which always bumps a few Late Show‘s each year.

Today news broke that Letterman had used to forced timeout to do the unthinkable–he got married! Last Thursday, the talk show host and long time girl friend Regina Lasko, mother of his son Harry, tied the knot on his Montana ranch. It’s the second marriage for Letterman, 61, who always jokes that the wedding pictures from his first marriage “were the biggest waste of film since “Ishtar.”

Anyway, back to New York and the Sullivan. Hard to believe it has been 45 years since The Beatles stormed that theatre and conquered America. Thought about that week in February of 1964 when the Beatles landed at JFK. I landed at the same airport Friday morning. The Dash jet from Syracuse was so small, passengers de-plane and walk the tarmac just like the Beatles did back in ’64. (Although I’m pretty sure they were flying not via Delta but long-defunct airline BOAC). There was no cheering throng there for me, however, just a weird flash snow blizzard. Fortunately, the snow was gone before it hit the ground.

It is a short walk from JFK to the “Sky Train,” a raised rail connection to the New York subway system. Damn, why can’t Toronto ever figure this out for getting to a fro Pearson? For seven bucks you are downtown, or, rather, midtown, with Rockefeller Plaza (still in its Winter ice skating mode), the Rainbow Room and the NBC Studio tour as well as Radio City Music Hall all just steps from each other.
Other old and new sights on a bright March day in Manhattan: The Plaza (another Beatle stop in ’64), in all its condo glory, the bright colours of FAO Schwarz, the carriages along Central Park South and that wacky new Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle (where, ironically, pennants heralding the Empire State Building wave as if to show the new kid who’s boss).

Stopped by Prime Burger on 51st across from 30 Rock for lunch. Place was jumping as always. Has those funky wooden school desk-like lunch booths. Plenty of waiters. All those displaced stock traders seem to have discovered the joint since their tabs were all cancelled at the Rainbow Room.

Was also nice to stroll the stores down Fifth and Park avenues and see the elaborate window displays, including this salute to the Jonas Brothers. Seems to capture their essence.Stayed at a joint called Hotel 57, well situated and worth checking out if you are New York bound. It is being renovated into a Renaissance hotel, and several inconveniences–including no access to the main floor stairway–aren’t that big a deal given it will be cheaper today than in a few months. Look for Pernell at the concierge desk, he’s seen five owners during his 23 years at the address and knows where the best eats and treats are in all directions.

Finally, a glimpse down Lexington at the ever-majestic Chrysler Building, a Manhattan icon more durable than any automobile. That sight never gets old.

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