That would be me.
Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I flew back east and spent four days in New York City. Last Saturday, I stood in the TKTS line in Times Square to purchase discount tickets for myself and three friends to attend an evening Broadway show. Tickets go on sale at 3 p.m. for the 8 p.m. performances.
I didn’t do much research on it. I figured my friend Chris knew what to get. Chris warned that we should have a backup plan, but if you don’t know anything to begin with, what’s the point of a backup plan?
We get to the front of the line. The Producers is still on the ticket board. Good. Decision made. At the ticket window, the guy tells us all he’s got left is obstructed view. Shoot. Chris recommends Slava’s Snowshow as an alternative.
“What’s that about?”
“Slava’s this Russian clown who used to perform with Cirque … “
“I hate clowns.”
The people behind us are getting fidgety. The guy behind the counter is sour and impatient. I look at the ticket board again. Nothing speaks to me. But wait. In My Life. I’ve heard of that. Why have I heard of that? Oh. Because they’d been running four page ad spreads in the Sunday New York Times for weeks, and I’d noticed them, and the reviews seemed positive, so …
I ordered four tickets.
“Are you sure?” said Chris. Of course not. How could I be sure? I’m completely ignorant. And I can’t read minds either, so I didn’t know what Chris was really saying was “Are you nuts?”
The tickets were $50 apiece (half price). As we’re leaving the ticket area, a woman hands us a free CD of the “In My Life” soundtrack.
“Sh#@!” says Chris. I read the CD cover. It says In My Life is the new musical by Joe Brooks, the Academy Award and Grammy Award-winning composer of You Light Up My Life.
“Sh#@!” I reply. For two reasons. 1.) You Light Up My Life could be the lousiest song ever written, and 2.) The song was written, like, 25 years ago. I doubted Brooks had improved since.
I finally go and do what I should have done before I got into line, which is purchase the latest issue of “Time Out: New York.” My heart sank as I read the review.
“God is a jingle writer in Joseph Brooks’s deeply weird, painfully amateurish romantic fable. The concept would be disturbing enough on its own, but if you consider that Brooks – who wrote, composed, produced and directed this turkey – once had a lucrative career penning themes for automobiles and soda pop, the joke seems creepy. Among Brooks’s bizarre creations are a queeny angel, a singer-songwriter with Tourette’s syndrome and an insufferable child actor who seems to be auditioning for American Idol. Those who decry shows made by committee should be careful what they wish for: In My Life is the sound of one man flopping.”
I learn afterwards from my friend Shafe that after the initial poor reviews, producers of the show faced two choices. 1.) Close immediately, or 2.) Spend an immense amount of money on a media blitz to try and save the show. They chose the latter strategy. And the latter strategy is obviously working. It netted me anyway.
The other interesting part of my New York trip was learning about the rapid transformation of the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn (just across the river from the Lower East side). It all sounded familiar.
Williamsburg was “rediscovered” in the 1990’s by the artistic community and became a popular, cheap convenient place for people to live, just one subway stop on the L-Train from lower Manhattan. And then not-so-cheap. And then, given the population pressure on the area, developers proposed rezoning the industrial waterfront neighborhoods in order to build 15-35 story residential high-rise buildings. In exchange for zoning concessions (mostly for increased density and building heights), developers offered to dedicate 33% of all units as affordable housing and to preserve 54 acres of land for parks and open space.
The redevelopment proposal, spearheaded by City Planning Commission Chair Amanda Burden (daughter of Standard Oil heir Stanley Mortimer) was approved in August
Longtime resident (and personal friend since the age of four) Tim Allred said that one of the impacts of the development will be a further strain upon the subway system. Already, he said, boarding a morning train into Manhattan from the Bedford stop (last stop in Brooklyn) is like boarding a train in Tokyo, and in fct, some residents have taken to walking to outlying stops to have a better chance of getting on. He has no idea how the city will accommodate the anticipated 50,000 extra people who will live on the Waterfront.
As for Thanksgiving on the home front, MMSA Communications Director Joani Lynch said that MMSA entertained 6,000 skiers on both Thursday and Friday and about 8,500 on Saturday. Behind last year, but not bad considering. Meanwhile. Kathleen Rudder said businesses in the Sierra Center and Luxury Outlet Malls set records on Friday. Lulu’s Boutique Owner Jeanne Eberts said her business was double of what it was last year. In the Village, Tony Barrett of Gallerie Barjur said his numbers were up, even with the gondola not running.