New York 6/17 – 6/23/09
I always said I wanted to make it to NY and I wanted to do the following:
• See a Broadway show (check I got to see 2 – Tony & Tina’s Wedding and Rock of Ages)
• See Times Square (check)
• Ride a NY subway (check)
• See Grand Central Station (check)
• Go into Saks Fifth Ave (check – I even got a make-over!)
• See Empire State Building (check)
• See Central Park (check)
• Ride in a NY cab (check)
And not only did I get to do that but I did so much more. It was an awesome trip. Grazia Bueti was my tour guide and hostess. She had always told me that if I were to come to NY, I had to stay with her. We had worked together at BMG, but at different locations, so we never met face to face. However, we had spoken and written to each other so often we both felt like we knew each other. She invited me to stay in her beautiful home in the country of Dutchess County with her, her Mom (Gina) and her sister (Polsia). A wonderful, loving Italian family. I could not have asked for a better place to stay or have a better tour guide.
My adventure began on Wed. night when I arrived at JFK airport. They were both sweet enough to meet me at baggage claim. I won’t tell you that the 2 of them were so busy with a soap star sighting that neither of them saw me come down the ramp until I walked up on them! I thought I would add this picture as it shows my HUGE suitcase for future reference. We then took a cab ($45+toll & tip) to the “city” and dropped my suitcase off at Polsia’s office. Just to go upstairs to her office and drop off my bag after hours mind you, I had to show a picture ID, pose for a picture, sign in and promise to give them my first born child! Geesh Ny’ers!! We walked across the street to Jack’s which is a very nice little place. We had a great dinner and I actually managed to steal the check and pay for the entire thing. The only reason I mention this, is I think this was one of three times while I was in NY that I was able to pay for a meal. Grazia didn’t want me to pay for anything. It seemed we were always “fighting” over the bills. But in a good way. I tell you those stubborn Italian New Yorkers!! Ha ha OK so now we walk back to Polsia’s office and get my luggage. The only reason I am going into such detail is because it became a joke. The night Grazia almost killed me! They are so used to the “city” and running from train to subway to shuttle to cab to running around and carrying a ton of shit with them it is nothing to them… well not to this California girl!! We have to walk to the subway. Actually it isn’t that far but with a 52lb suitcase anything is far, right? If you are not familiar, you go down several steps to catch the subway and then once you are down there you still may have to go up and down more and walk how far. Grazia says we only walked a ½ block to the subway (I swear it felt like 100), then we took the subway and had to come out and go upstairs and walk to the parking garage. I think she said that was only 2-3 small blocks, again it felt like I walked to NY from LA! However, Grazia being the great friend, good hostess that she is insisted on helping me carry the suitcase (from hell). Still it was crazy. By the time we got to the garage, I think I could have laid down there and not even cared. My whole body was shaking so much, pain was like I had not experienced in a long while, sweat was too gross to even mention, oh and it started raining on us on our way to the parking garage! Unlike in CA, all garages are valet. They brought the car down, they got in, I think I crawled in and then we drove to the house. I was praying that by the time we would get to the house I would be able to move. Because I knew at that point, if I would have had to get out of that car in an emergency, there was no way in hell I would have been able to do it. So as Grazia tells the story – This is the night she almost killed me!!!
The funny part is on the drive home I called my mom to tell her that we made it ok and are in the car driving home. She could tell by the way I sounded that I had had it! So I tried to explain to her how we took a cab – walked – ate – walked – took a subway – oh yeah! (I am all excited about this part). We took a subway already and I have already been through Queens, Yonkers, Harlem, and Brooklyn. Before I could finish I think my mom was ready to have a heart attack! She was like what!!! OMG!! I kept trying to explain to her that there were 3 of us together and we were all ok and blah, blah, blah, blah – but she was so worried. I mean I get it, but being here and seeing how it is – it is a little funny. You have to admit, right?
I tried to take as many pictures as possible. I don’t think I took enough. Grazia NEVER wanted her picture taken. I knew she was like that to begin with, but it was so like pulling teeth every time! She was always willing to take a picture of me – sometimes it felt weird always having a picture of me, ya know? Sometimes I would be so exhausted and in so much pain I knew I was not going to look decent in the picture. I wasn’t hoping for great or good, just decent, you know so the camera wouldn’t break! I walked more than I have probably in the last 2 years. At times I thought OMG – What the hell am I doing to myself? This is supposed to be a vacation not a torture camp! And by that I mean – I literally had to push myself to get up, stay awake and keep moving and keep walking. Trust me there were 3 times that I seriously thought I might have to forego or cancel the plans because I was just in so much pain and was so exhausted I did not know how I was going to do it. Then I was afraid that if I did do it, I might not be able to make thru the whole event and then what? It is not like California where you just hop in your car and go home. NOPE – you gotta walk it to a subway or cab it to a subway. Thank GOD for prednisone, pain pills and provigil. If it weren’t for those I am just about positive I would not have done as well as I did do. Thinking about it, it still surprises me. Grazia said on one of the days that we walked over 20 blocks!!!! To most people that would be nothing. For me when I was healthy, it would have been nothing, I mean heck, when I lived in Glendale, I use to walk to the Glendale Galleria and it was at least that far there if not more and then I would walk all around the place and then back home! We did have to stop and take rests for me so I did tend to slow Grazia down.
I reached out to many BMG’ers to see if we could get together and meet. Some were able to, and to those I truly am grateful. Jenn Press, Brenda Crawley and Jackie Post, you guys were great to take time out of your hectic schedules to have lunch and dinner with me and Grazia. More on this later. I had a good time at everything that we did – whether it was shopping, eating, sightseeing, commuting or being at her home with the familia!
We were fortunate enough to be able to get together with Jackie Post twice while I was there. Thursday night we met at Balthazar's (in SOHO) for dinner and drinks. It was great. Of course I ended up having a slight “run in” with a nice little NY’er. Ha ha Here it is my real first night in NY and I come across a drunk NY’er… what a surprise, eh? It was funny really, after all is said and done. I mean Grazia and I are at the bar waiting for Jackie to get there. The place was crowded like no other. There were 3 men on my right side and a couple on my left side. I was sitting on a stool at the bar, because I cannot stand for long and Grazia being the great friend she is made sure I had a seat. The 3 guys were pretty well on their way to no land of return if you get what I mean. The couple on my other side, well it was hard to tell if they were “really” together or just together, ya know? So before you know it one of the 3 amigos decides he is interested in the chic next to me. Which would have been fine, if he wouldn’t have draped his drunken old ass across me. I mean seriously? We couldn’t eve reach our drinks, let alone hear each other talk now. So after a short while, I smile (no seriously, I did), and I looked at the 2 of them and asked them if they would like to trade seats with me. They looked at me as if I was speaking another freaking language and said no, we are fine. I know I had to have a look of shock. I was like, funny, I am not. I said look guys I don’t mind you talking and all, but you are practically, no you are draped over me and I can’t even get to my freaking drink and I can barely sit on the stool because you are so draped across me and practically leaning on me. He tells me he is just fine. OMG!!! I was fuming. The lady turned and looked at us and smiled as if she was thanking us. He sat back on his seat and went back to talking with his 2 buddies. Jackie arrived and we told her what happened. She couldn’t believe it. Then all of a sudden he asks her if she minds him talking to her and she says very loudly no one can tell me who I can talk to. I just started laughing. Jackie and I were like what Fuck Faces!! So we finally got seated at a booth. This drunken old fart proceeds to come on to just about any 2 legged female that walked by him and even continued to oogle us!! UGH!! Grazia asked our waiter about him. Our waiter said, yeah, some older men with a lot of money come in here so they can pick up young good looking women... I replied with yeah he is not doing too well, now is he!!
On Monday night we met Jackie for dinner at Virgil's for BBQ. The dinner was good. However, the bathroom was on the 2nd floor (it seems usually it is on the 3rd floor) and they were playing great music!! You know – COUNTRY Baby!! I would have liked to sit up there and maybe hear some good music but instead we had to sit downstairs with all the loud noise. I am not complaining b/c all in all; I really enjoyed the company and conversation!
Can someone please tell me why NY has 3 story restaurants? I mean you enter on the 1st floor and have to wait there, then if you need the bathroom that is on the 3rd floor and if you are going to get seated that is on the 2nd floor. I mean is there really any logic to any of this? You all know a man (and not a bright one) came up with this idea. I mean who in their right might would put all of the damn bathrooms on the frickin 3rd floor? Let me tell you when ya got to go, ya gotta go. And not all of these places have escalators let alone a damn elevator! I came to find out that NY is not a very handicap friendly place in the US. Has anyone noticed this?? Come on anyone? Oh and since we are on the topics of bathrooms…can someone please tell me why NY places do NOT stock their bathrooms with toilet seat covers? I came across 3 places the entire time I was in NY – JFK airport, Grazia’s office and the 3rd place I can’t remember for the life of me, and I should considering I just about jumped for joy! Seriously, why in God’s name would there not be toilet seat covers? That is just so wrong on so many levels!!!
Monday lunch we had planned to meet Brenda Crawley and Jenn Press from BMG. Oh yeah, Claude Lewin was suppose to go too, but I guess someone else more important came along. Is that rude or what? Humph!! LOL So we met at Burger Heaven on 49nd St. It was so nice to finally meet the faces behind the voices / emails that I worked with for so many years. I felt like I already knew them. It was only an hour lunch and it went by so darn fast. I am so glad that they were able to fit me into their schedule. As you will be able to see from the pictures, the waiter has no camera experience at all!!
I got to see St. Patrick's Cathedral I was in awe, I have to admit. You hear about it and see pictures but it is so different when you are there, inside. It brought tears to my eyes and chills to my skin. They say if it is the first time in a church you should make a wish. You can bet your bottom dollar, I made a wish. I also lit a candle and said a prayer for all of my loved ones.
Grand Central Station is HUGE! I know I know I was in shock yet again. It is like a city inside that place. I mean seriously. I have seen it on TV. and have heard about it, but now I was here, actually here, inside this historical place. There are several levels – trains & subways and restaurants and newsstands and show shines and shops and markets and you name it, it is there!! I couldn’t believe all what was in there.
We went to the Metro Museum Now this was an interesting visit. Grazia will probably never have another museum visit like this again, that is unless we go together to another museum! So we arrive at the Met Museum at 4pm and find out that it closes at 5pm sharp! That means we have an hour to see this HUGE museum, we know that isn’t going to happen. So we decide that we will see the Egypt part and then fit in whatever else. So off we go…that is until we come across a tomb. This tomb is huge and strangely enough happens to be just sitting in the room. It is not behind glass or roped off or anything. I say to Grazia, check this out; you would think they would have this protected? Maybe it isn’t real? I mean (as we look around) everything else is behind glass or roped off – (so here I go, in my usual self) I lay my hand on this huge tomb (see attached pic) and say you have to feel this, wow! I still can’t believe this is out in the open and we can touch it. Yes you know it... that is right... at that very moment, a security in a loud BOOMING voice says “DON’T TOUCH THE EXHIBITS”. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud and then say well why isn’t it protected then. So she gave us a look like we were 3 or something. So we move onto the next room and there were 3 guards in that room and they were watching us like hawks. One even literally followed me the entire time in that room. So... I almost got us thrown out of the Met Museum. OOPs!!
I had originally said to Grazia that I wanted to see Empire State Building ; I mean what is a trip to NYC without that right? So after talking to many people, everyone seemed to think I would like the Rockefeller Center (Top of the Rock ) much better. Thank goodness we listened. It was AMAZING! We went up 70 floors in this elevator that flies up there. We had great weather. We lucked out yet another time. You could see everything. I got to see St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Central Park, Ernst & Young building, Empire State Building and the Hudson and so many other well known buildings that I can’t even remember the names of. Grazia… please help me out here. So another story to go with this one, because you know I have one. We are waiting in line to take the elevator down to earth (level 1 that is). There is this nice handsome gentleman working there who tells us when we can get into the elevator. Of course we start chatting about where to eat and what are the best places and blah blah blah and before you know it (I swear to GOD on this one), He asked Grazia to marry him. I wanted to take a picture of the 2 of them. But NO, we all know how she does NOT like, ok HATES having her picture taken. I think the made an adorable couple. She seemed to believe he was a bit young, not that young, my goodness!! Here I go on vacation and she gets the damn marriage proposal… what is wrong with that picture? LOL
Little Italy is too small! I learned while I was there that Chinatown is taking over Little Italy. Little Italy is only about 2 blocks, I think. I couldn’t believe all of the “Roccos” and “Brunos” are letting this happen. I mean NY is filled with Italians, have you noticed? Grazia, her friend Jenn (from college) and I went to a few places together. We went to Positano's for lunch. It was the BEST Chicken Parm I have ever had in my life. We also had fried mozzarella, none of us had ever had it prepared this way, but it was very good and light. It was actually a piece of mozzarella sandwiched between 2 pieces of bread. It was very light. Still very good. I could go on and on about how yummy the food was but I won’t because I will just make everyone HUNGRY!! HA HA Then we walked around the corner to Ferrara's for dessert. It was so hard to decide on something. I chose the trio sample (éclair-cream puff-napoleon); it was so yummy in my tummy!! We stuffed ourselves silly. We then bought pastries for Sunday family dinner at home. I bought 4 chocolate covered strawberries. So good! No complaints.
China town was interesting. It reminded me of Chinatown in Ca – a little bit of downtown LA. They have lots of places to eat, shop and etc and they are all cramped in such teeny tiny places. The big things in Chinatown are the imitation designer bags. You can get them really cheap. Some have stores, some have where you have to go into a back room, and some have them in a car. The ones without a store are doing this without a seller’s permit and it is therefore illegal, so they are always looking for the police. They also have a lot of their fruits and veggies and herbs and fish (fried-dried-fresh-frozen and stinky!). One place even sold live frogs for $3!
Times Square is big! We walked all of it thought, so I guess it is not too big, right, especially if I can walk it? Ha ha To see all of the huge signs lit up and all of the mass herds of people walking around it kind of gets you at first or it did me. With all of the street vendors, musicians, shows on the street, it kind of reminded me of our W. Hollywood. Some of the stores are colossal. Toys R Us is 4 stories and with a working Ferris wheel inside. Grazia wouldn’t go on it with me. I even cried but she still wouldn’t give in. ha ha We went into FAO Schwartz, Toys R US, M&M store and Hershey store. I have to let everyone out there know that FAO has the BEST and I mean the BEST Gummy Bears I have ever tasted. Yummy!! All of these places were huge, except the Hershey store (strange, but true). It was amazing, did I say that already?
Hilton in Times Square – We stayed in the city on separate nights. On the nights that we had tickets to see shows. Grazia figured it would be so much easier than having to commute on those days, and she was right. I think she enjoyed herself as well. At least I sure hope she did!
Tony and Tina's Wedding was like a dinner cruise. We were supposed to be the guests to the wedding. It was a big Italian wedding; Grazia was surely related to this family! It was very funny no doubt about that. The bride’s brother, Joey was gay and he did an excellent job at his part. Joey ended up liking on e of the male guests at our table and all bets were off! This gentleman was married and he and his wife were really good sports. Joey was always trying to get this guy and get him to dance with him, that of which he did succeed a few times.
After the show, we went to a bar that Jackie Post suggested, Faces and Names or as Grazia liked to call it, Places and Faces. I will probably always tease her about that one! The place had a great atmosphere and nice people. It was within a block or so of the hotel so we could have easily crawled to the hotel if necessary. Don’t worry it wasn’t… we drug Grazia, we wouldn’t let her crawl! Kidding! Ok... so there are tons of people of Face book and Grazia is one of the few people that are still not on Face book. She says she doesn’t have time, I say once she tried it, she would be addicted and that is what she is afraid of! Anyway, we are in the bar talking and I ask the bartender to take some pictures of us, for memories, I mean this is my trip, right? Well, there is this young kid that is sitting about 3 barstools down from us (he barely looked old enough to drive let alone drink) and we are chatting about face book and how you tag a photo and other things, well Jenn and I are giving him the eye to not explain all of this to Grazia. Then Grazia asks him what he does for living. So he pauses, takes a deep breath in, and decides to tell us what he does as if he has been doing it for the last 40 yrs of his life when in reality it might have only be a year tops because the boy is only 22 yrs old. It was really funny to listen to him tell us about his “career” and all. I know that may sound horrible, and maybe because we were all a little tipsy but it sure was funny as hell at the time!!
Rock of Ages was a great musical. Grazia had picked this one and I had never heard of it. She kept saying Constantine is in it. I was like who? She says you know from American Idol. Ok – truth be told, I don’t watch that damn show. When I worked I found out everything from everyone in the office. The show was great. Here we are in NY and the setting for the show is Sunset Blvd and The Bourbon Room! I thought that was pretty funny. It was all about the 80’s and 90’s music, so that was really right up our alley! It was a very action packed, lively musical. Grazia was worried if I was going to like it or not, I would’ve had to have been a total dud not to like it.
Ground Zero gave me chills. It was raining the day we went. I don’t know why I note this; because it rained just about every day I was in NY! They are doing a lot of building there and have almost too many chain link fences up to even see anything or get a decent photo. There is just something about being there and knowing what happened.
Central Park Zoo is cute. I had no idea it was that small. I wanted to see Central Park. I saw it from Top of the Rock and from inside. The weather was decent while we were there, luckily. A cute little story or course. So we are at the Polar Bears and I am reading about them. It says that Ida is only allowed 7,000-11,000 calories a day since she gains weight so easily. Doesn’t that figure, us women always get the raw end of the deal. It goes on to state that Gus is allowed 24,000 calories a day. And without missing a beat Grazia says she is coming back as make polar bear in her next life. I don’t think we laughed any harder than we did then. It was hilarious!!
This blog took longer then I wanted to get published because I kept trying to get all of the pictures inserted within the text where they should be, well after tons of trying, I decided to give up if I was ever going to get it published at all. So you will see all of the pictures at the end in a slideshow... I hope that it will be as good as I imagined!!
Before I go, I have to say Thank you to Jackie Post for setting up the Balthazar get together. That meant a lot to me. For taking the time to hang with us on 2 separate occasions. I want to Thank Brenda Crawley and Jenn Press for taking time out of their busy work day to have lunch with us, and so that we could finally meet face to face.
Most of all I know that I cannot thank Grazia and her family enough for allowing me to stay at their beautiful home in the country. We had only worked together, and had never met face to face, but it seemed like we got along like long time pals. She is a true friend. She is what you call “good peeps”. Thank Miss Grazia for spoiling me the entire time I was in NY. You made it so wonderful.
I hope you enjoy reading about NY as much as I did visiting it.