by Alan Page & ***[Sharon Best]
IN THE BEGINNING...
It's been 9 years since I first stepped into the Ed Sullivan Theater. That trip was on September 22, 1993...Dave's show #18 with CBS with guests Tony Randall, Elizabeth Perkins & Aaron Neville.
My second LSwDL was episode #160 in Los Angeles with Bette Midler & Traffic as guests. Johnny Carson made his only cameo appearance since leaving the Tonight Show.
This trip started in July, 2002 when I was contacted by the Late Show. I was asked when I wanted to attend and how many tickets were being requested. I then asked Sharon to accompany me. Sharon agreed that she was ready to see the big show, her first time.
***[Alan called on the phone. It took me a moment to realize who the person was on the phone. I have been to New York before...back in the early l970's. I guess the answer to the question all are dying to know...Yes, I told Alan I was a virgin. I will put that in up front.]
After finding out what weeks the show was dark, I choose October 30, the first Wednesday back from a dark week, the day before Halloween. Planning for a return to New York City included visiting the site of the World Trade Center as a priority. Other sightseeing stops would be planned and filled in as time became available. Having lived in NYC for the most part of 1980, I knew my way around and how to get to various places. Only 3 months to get it all together.
***[I checked on boarding for Wuff, for the period, and it was available.]
Plane reservations were made to meet Sharon in St. Louis. We would fly to Baltimore/Washington airport and take Amtrak, from the BWI train station, into Manhattan at Pennsylvania Station.
The Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel, on 8th Avenue, was chosen as our place to stay. With more communication between us, we made the list of places to visit and when to do each one. The only time we reserved was to pick up the tickets for the show by 4:30 PM and the show itself. We would leave on Saturday, November 2, traveling back to BWI on Amtrak.
***[My first train ride! Well...except for the little trains in Disney World and Dogpatch USA.]
Sharon would fly home and I would stay in Maryland. I would visit Philadelphia and DC then continue to St. Louis on Thursday, November 7. With all this in mind...we decided to keep our trip a secret from our friends in the alt.fan.letterman newsgroup. They can be such an inquisitive bunch. I did drop vague (SMP [Secret Message Post]) hints from time-to-time in posts...as in one thread about picking the date that the celebrity marriage of Lisa Marie Presley & Nicholas Cage would end. I posted, "I'm going October 30th, just in time for the Halloween" with the implication that I was "picking" that date for the breakup. They did not breakup that day, by the way. Their announcement of the filing for divorce did happen on November 26.
Having the tickets for October 30 and knowing when we would be in NYC, I filled out the ticket request form on the LS website. In mid-October, a message was on my answering machine asking me to call for tickets to a taping on Thursday, October 31. I returned the call, left a message and Rose called the next day. Rose asked me the trivia question to make sure I watched the show. She informed me when I was to pick them up and we were set for a second show.
The circle of people we told about the trip grew. Being fans of the "Tony Mendez Show" and Tony Mendez, I contacted him and mentioned that it would be nice to meet him after the show. He agreed and I told him that I would call when we got to New York. Sharon had no idea that I had done this. My plan was to surprise her after the show. All went well until a month before when she was suspecting something was up. Nobody in afl knew about our trip until Sharon said she "just had to tell Renee (EZMAMA1D)" in September. I said go ahead. Renee promised to keep the secret, but "just had to tell" a couple of her close friends. She did & they kept the secret in confidence.
***[This is the point that it was starting to become real. I was really going to go to see the show. I wanted to meet Renee. We had visited in private email for some time along with the newsgroup. She had been the one to extend an invitation to me in the past to attend 'group' visits to the Late Show. Here is also where the Women of Worldnet (WOW) would find out I was going to the big city. For over five years they have been with me sharing daily on the Internet. Attending the Late Show was something I had never expected to be able to do. Immediately, Renee was sooo thrilled. We visited on the phone. WOW was excited about my upcoming adventure. One NY WOW invited us to tour JPMorganChase trading area. She worked for the company. She also offered a private plane tour down the Hudson, weather permitting. Meeting Renee and Peggy became part of the plans. I started work on their tote bags. Cross-stitching to help pass the time--the bags would be used to hold the special gifts from us.]
Time went by quickly. The travel day of October 29 soon approached. On September 12, Warren Zevon announced that he had terminal lung cancer. The news was devastating. He had substituted for CBS Orchestra bandleader Paul Shaffer many times and had a repoire with Dave that showed they were friends. Warren was scheduled to be on the show in early October promoting his new CD. We knew that this appearance would most likely be changed.
In mid-October, it was announced Warren would be on the October 30 show. Thinking back to July...something seemed to be guiding me when I choose the date. From "Just another LSwDL" it was to become a very extraordinary and memorable day.
One of another SMPs on October 14 was..."Seeing Warren at the Ed on October 30th should turn out to be one of the top 5 LSwDL." I was having fun with the newsgroup.
***[I did my best to not even think about going to NY. At one point, Renee sent us an email asking if we had shared with the afl group that we were going. Alan had posted about "Seeing Warren" and Renee thought he had spilled the beans about our trip. He had not.]
New York City & Late Show Visit
Back to Top
My truck's engine had a major failure on Sunday, October 27 on my way to work. I was picked up by the second vehicle that passed and made it to work on time. Luckily, this didn't happen on the way to the airport the next night. I caught a ride into work on Monday...only 2 hours before I had to come to work. I was able to take off work at noon. I rented a car to drive to the airport that night. I would save on parking for 11 days, but I'd need another car to get me home. I was able to get the truck to a mechanic that would eventually let me know what the damage was. I mentioned that I would be totally out of town for a few days. I would not worry about the truck for the duration of the trip.
***[I knew I was making the trip on this day - really knew it. I took Wuff to the vet for boarding. I returned home to clean house - something to keep my mind occupied. Alan was headed to the airport. He would really upset if I did not meet him in St. Louis. The late news shared that fog would be expected that night, lifting by noon the next day. The stress level rose...]
Having made a couple of round trips back home (30 miles one way) I was ready to head to Sacramento International Airport (SMF). My flight was to leave at 12:15 AM early Tuesday morning. I was finally let up to the boarding level just before 11 PM. I immediately found the bar with the news on TV. KOVR has news at 10, with Dave following at 11. The bad news was that the bartender said they close at 11. The good news was I would be able to watch Dave for 10-15 minutes. I was able to enjoy the show through Biff Henderson's Fun With A Bullhorn segment. The stranger next to me had a few good laughs during the segment.
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 29...
Travel, meeting, Arrival in NYC
My flight from Sacramento took off on time. The pilot pointed out the blackness of Lake Tahoe surrounded on one side by the casino lights as we passed above. With a couple hours of near-sleep, arrival at Dallas/Ft. Worth airport was smooth. Arriving at 5:30 in the morning provides only vending machine snacks until the first Starbuck's opens.
It would be a short wait until the flight to St. Louis where I would meet Sharon. I had a couple of hours, in St. Louis, before her little turboprop would roll up to the stairs leading to the terminal. Sharon's flight arrived on time and I saw her as she stepped off. Meeting her in the terminal was short and sweet as we needed to get to another gate, about 5 minutes away. Of course, instead of gate 2, it was changed to gate 22, near the end of the terminal.
***[The arrival at the top of the stairs to see Alan was pure relief. I had decided once I made it to Alan then I would actually be on the way to the show. I had not flown in a few years, but knew I would need luggage with wheels. A back injury would not allow me to be totin' stuff far. Well...I loaded the car and headed up the mountain to the new NorthWest Arkansas Regional Airport. The plane was to depart at 8:27AM. I needed to be at the airport at 7:27 minimum. I woke early and got on the road around 5:00. I planned to have a relaxed breakfast somewhere up on the mountain. It appeared to be a good drive until I hit the "Scenic Highway to Hell." This Scenic Highway has been designed to not have guardrails blocking the view of the mountaintops. The route also has new high bridges spanning the peaks. It is normally a 45 minute drive to the airport. Normally. Just before Devils Den, a state park, the fog appeared. For the next hour, I am driving with only a view of three little dots on the road to my left and a little fog blurred road line to my right. Oh...did I mention that the road designer deliberately made it to be driven in a constant turn? There are minimal straight stretches.
The thought of getting off the "Scenic Highway to Hell" crossed my mind. I could go up the old way...one which I knew from years of working the area. No...I needed to stay on the expected route. If something happened, this is where I was supposed to be. I continued on. I go through the only tunnel in Arkansas and the fog clears a few miles on the other side. I finally reach the airport, park, and head to the terminal. I am one hour early. Exactly what I was supposed to be per the airline instructions. There was no time for breakfast. I was glad I had the toast before I left the house.
I was seated for only a few moments when my flight was called. They were boarding it early. Next thing I know I am on the plane and we are taking off. The pilot announced the flight took off early because all the booked passengers were onboard and there were weather concerns in St. Louis. "Weather concerns" in St. Louis. Oh Boy...I sat watching the prop turn on the plane. I was thinking about the Twilight Zone, with the thing on the wing of the plane, and "weather concerns." The plane flew in a holding pattern for three laps over the city before it landed, on time. Getting off the plane, I had my carryon bag and purse. Thankful for the wheels on the bag - I head to the door. There...in front of me...is a huge flight of steps. I have to pick up the bag and carry it to the top of the stairs. After all the crap I had been through - I was gonna make it to the top of the steps. Alan would be up there waiting, somewhere.
I get to the top of the stairs...lowering the luggage to its wheels and there stands Alan. Everything was a blur as he tried to explain we needed to go to a certain place...I had done my part. I made it to St. Louis - we would make it to the Late Show.]
After boarding the plane, we became acquainted with each other and found the flight to be rather quick. We picked up our bags and waited a short time for the shuttle to the train station. After arriving there, I noticed that the tickets I had purchased were for July 29 and not October 29. After a quick check of IDs, the agent believed me when I told her I wasn't in Baltimore in July to use them.
The train ride was relaxing and it was an easy time to finish our plans for NYC. Traveling over bridges and watching the trees with their fall colors passing, made for a pleasant trip. Seeing the Manhattan skyline from New Jersey brought the excitement level up a notch...but the absence of the World Trade Center was very noticeable to me. Seeing previous pictures of the skyline without the towers lessened the affect it had on me...it was still dramatic...still hard to believe.
***[The train ride was a wonderful idea...I was pleased Alan planned it that way - It gave us time to visit and relax before getting to NYC. The countryside zoomed by at times...other times my focus was in the distance and it seemed to be slow and relaxed. It was nice...really nice. I enjoyed my first ride on a train.]
Through the tunnel under the Hudson, we exit on the underground platform and go up to the main terminal floor. It was the same as I had remembered when I first went to NYC in 1980. Up the final escalator to the ground floor and out the doors to the taxi stand.
***[Alan knew exactly where we were going. He just led me right through all the hustle. There I was...standing on a sidewalk in New York City. I was getting ready to take my first cab ride.]
Only now, the taxi stand had been replaced by police cars & vans in a blocked-off street. Around the corner we stood in line and after a few minutes, got into taxi # 2Y44. This was Sharon's first ride in a taxi. Not just an NYC taxi...ANY taxi. It was 5:30 PM and the rush hour was in full swing. Our driver gave us an extraordinary ride to our hotel. He was a master of his craft. He went a couple of extra blocks to get around the buses that were blocking 3 lanes to service the Port Authority Terminal. He slipped through spaces that weren't as wide as the car. There were times I was sure he would hit other vehicle. He had the typical cabbie nerve for the job. A remarkable ride that earned him a good tip. Something Sharon will never forget.
***[I never want to forget it either. It was amazing. The entire time I kept thinking there was not a mark on his cab. He shared with us that we were his last fare for the day. I shared that is was my first ride in a cab. Alan and the driver then seem to start speaking a secret language. I drifted off into the surroundings. I came back inside the cab when the driver started showing Alan a clipboard. The driver had only ONE complaint filed against him on record. He also has only given a ride to one person twice in his entire time in the business. Those were two facts I did process just before the cab driver zipped directly behind a siren blaring firetruck...its passage opened the traffic jam that had us stalled. The driver had timed his move perfectly.]
We check into the hotel. We then head out to get our bearings, as this will be our home base for the next 4 days.
Deli Remote, First sightings of Staff & Dave, Computer time.
We walked up 2 blocks to 53rd Street, then past a lot of production trucks parked at Roseland for some MTV taping. We noticed bright lights coming out of Rupert's Hello Deli. There was a camera crew with Rupert, Andrea, Nadine (Hi-Ho Babes) and the Intuitive. The timing was right for the end-of-show shot.
***[Corky and other fast moving staffers were in and out of the Deli. I was thinking the entire time as we stood outside the Deli... this is a dream. All the times I have watched that shot of Rupert going out and getting someone or something--and I was right there watching it happen.]
We started setting up for pictures. We were asked to make sure the flashes were turned off so they could not be seen on the broadcast. The production staff was there and the camera was turned on and the end shot was done. I expected the audience to exit out the 53rd Street doors but that did not happen. I noticed that there were a lot of people on Broadway and surmised they were exiting from the front doors. We went to the marquee to take some pictures of people taking pictures of others under the Late Show sign.
As we were standing around, there was a couple looking for someone to take a picture with their camera. I offered and they quickly stood in place. We talked to them about the show and they were very helpful in filling in what happened during the show. I was able to do a better Psychic LSQG that night because of their information. They were headed to an Alice Cooper show but we talked for some time. She had just gotten an intern job with Conan O'Brien.
We then started to look around for the Kinko's. We couldn't see it right away since they don't have a lighted sign. We first saw Will Lee (bass player) outside the LS office entrance. He was talking with another couple. Will walked up on our right side headed to cross the street. Sharon saw his face in front of her and said, "I don't care what anyone in AFL says...I like all your hair colors." We did not cross the street when we could have with the light. I quickly asked him where Kinko's was...he pointed & thanked him. Nice guy.
***[What can I say...I live in this world where Will Lee is a person I have watch on television. I have watched him for years. There he was standing beside me on a street corner in New York City. I was thrilled to see him--to not have spoken to him would have been down right Southern rude. In the South, you say hi to people that touch your life. He was the first of many people that didn't appear to really mind a brief "Southern Invasion." During our visit with Will, he shared that a VH1 crew would be taping the rehearsal with Warren Zevon the next day. Annette...I spoke with Will Lee. (Annette is a huge fan of his that posts in the afl newsgroup.) All I could think of while he stood there talking with Alan was Annette would be sooo tickled.]
Next, our first visit (of many) to Kinko's and "our" computer that would be the link to the Wonderful Web We Weave for the next 3 days.
Slip in a credit card or Kinko's ExpressPay Card (available from a kiosk for cash) and you are hooked up. The store was clean and quiet. It costs $.30 per minute for the computer. We learned to surf fast and organize our fun and work. There are cheaper places, but not in the neighborhood. CyberCafe (world's largest) on 42nd Street is $1 per hour. It is more like a sweatshop type set-up. Kinko's gave us the ability to plug in headphones and listen to the Tony Mendez Show, a big plus. We posted the PLSQG, checked afl & e-mail.
***[I really enjoyed this Kinko's time. We would catch up on what was happening with the AFL gang. I sent a brief message to a WOW friend, Cindy, to pass on to the wow-list. "I was going to be okay." You see...the ladies had made it perfectly clear...I only had to call if I needed anything while in NYC. The first night in New York and I knew I was going to have the time of my life.]
Leaving Kinko's, we strolled to Broadway passing in front of the Ed. Bill DeLace (head of security) was there and Dave was walking to a waiting car. A woman spoke to Dave about that night's show. He turned to respond to her and looked at us.
After he got in the car, I asked Bill, "Tough job Bill?" He smiled and said, "Yes" with a laugh. I mentioned that we would see him the next night...I was sure he didn't know what I was talking about. (We would continue to talk to Bill over the next 3 days appearing as if we were stalking him.)
***[It was reassuring knowing Bill was around when there was a crowd. I could see him flowing, checking and observing. From the Tony Mendez Show, I knew he was armed and prepared to take care of anything. He handles a broom pretty good too. I actually enjoyed watching him pitch in to help clean the streets outside the Ed after a taping session we watched.]
Dave's car drove away and we were able to follow it to the corner of 53rd. The car turned in front of us. We paused and let the driver turn and be on his way. We strolled up Broadway and checked out Times Square. Exhausted from traveling, we stopped at a pizza joint and brought back 4 calzones for dinner.
***[Okay...I had never had a calzone. They were wonderful. Spinach & cheese with sauce. The day in New York was full of firsts. I was really happy seeing the Late Show team during the remote at Rupert's. I EVEN saw David Letterman right in front of me. The walking around time allowed me to not be so star struck next day. I was able to focus on their actions, not on the fact I was seeing them for the first time in person.]
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 30, 2002
Station 54 NYFD, More Touring of NYC sights, Meeting with Renee
Our day started with a trip to Kinko's and then the F.D.N.Y. station on 8th Avenue. Engine 54, Truck 4, Battalion 9. The crew from this station had helped Dave with many segments on the show. On September 11, they lost 15 members. Sharon knocked on the door and explained why we were there. We were let into the station to take pictures of their pole that was used in a Top Ten List. There were several memorials. I took a picture of one and was ready to take a picture of the another when Sharon showed me a handwritten sign on the side. The sign read simply: "No Photos Please." I was able to keep from taking what was not meant to be. Near the end of our visit, the ladder truck returned with a large crew. Pictures all around with some other tourists. The generosity of time and interest by the men was amazing. We will never forget.
***[Alan seemed to attract people with cameras. As time passed, it was not unusual to see someone handing him a camera. Alan joked I was bold in meeting people. Alan had this thing about him though. It was like people would seek him out..."Hi, would you please take our picture."]
The next "first" for Sharon was a subway ride to the General Post Office across the street from Madison Square Garden. I had used tokens 22 years ago, but they had been replaced by a MetroCard system. We bought the $4 all day pass that would give us unlimited rides. We stopped at the Post Office and mailed the obligatory post cards. Next was Greenwich Village and Washington Square Park. There was a dog play area in the park that provided us with entertainment. About 10-15 dogs were running around while their guardians watched. The dogs knew where they are and made the most of playtime.
***[I have watched stuff from the Garden. I never knew it was located right over Penn Station. We posted cards to friends. The kids down the street were expecting something in the mail from me. One of the Post Office employees at home is from Brooklyn. I sent him a card showing the Brooklyn Bridge. I was able to make it home before any of the cards arrived. Rural living has its drawbacks sometimes.]
Next stop is Rockefeller Center. We watched the Zamboni machine grooming the ice for the skating rink that wasn't open yet. Floral displays on the small mall were nice. Back to the hotel to freshen up for our meeting with Renee for lunch. The Manhattan Chili Company is located next to the Ed and the perfect spot to meet Renee for lunch. We entered and told the host that we were meeting someone for lunch. He said she was already here and from above, we see Renee waving at us. Upstairs we had our formal meeting of another afl'er. One of her first things she said was, "I think that's Paul Shaffer" sitting at the bar. Sharon and Renee went over and soon called me over to take pictures with Paul. He had been sitting there reading with his headphones on, obviously "working." He was very gracious about the photo opportunity and we then left him alone.
Lunch with Renee was gossip time about many other afl'ers and what was going on with her. She reinforced the things to do & notice while at the show. Renee's brother, David, was having a book signing Thursday and we let her know that we would like to attend the lecture. Her son Matthew helped put the book together and was going to be there. Just another thing to do while in town. The book, "The Chrysler Building --Creating a New York Icon Day by Day," by David Stravitz, is a collection of photographs taken with a hundred-pound camera during the construction of the Chrysler Building in the 1920's. He found the negatives just before they were to be destroyed.
After a long conversation, the lunch ended and we went out to take pictures under the marquee of the Ed. We said goodbye to Renee & her rat with the understanding that she would get back to us with the book signing information. Next stop was at the souvenir shop attended by Mujibur & Sirajul. Mujibur was in and we visited for some time. We would return later to pick up items. Back to Kinko's and then the hotel to get ready for the big show. I called Tony to let him know we were there and that we would meet him after the show. I left a message and he called back within 15 minutes. We were all set up for the night.
***[So very casually, Alan mentions he called Tony. I was in a state of shock. Alan has been visiting with Tony since the beginning. I am realizing at that moment I would get to meet Tony... it was all planned. When the phone rang so quickly after Alan placed the call to Tony....I stood there amazed. He was visiting with Tony Mendez on the phone. Tony was actually chatting with Alan. I went back into a, "this has to be a dream" mode.]
The Late Show with David Letterman - Guest Warren Zevon
The time had come to pick up our tickets. We were advised to get them no later than 4:30. Outside the doors, we were greeted by Christina & Hanni. They checked our IDs and gave us tickets with the notation of "CBS GUEST." There were people standing in line on the sidewalk that had already picked up their tickets, waiting to get in. We went into the Manhattan Chili Company again for a bathroom stop and drinks. After sitting down, another couple sat next to us and we talked about going to the show. They had "dots" on their tickets, which would allow them to get in earlier than the "regular" audience. The CBS pages "dot" audience members who are enthusiastic or have been previously designated. We explained they were to receive special treatment during the pre-show. Basically, they would enter early and have front area seats.
***[ While we were seated upstairs in the restaurant, We were located above the Ed Sullivan Theater entrance lobby. The Chili Company and outer lobby interlock, like a Lego piece, inside the brick exterior. ]
At 4:30, we went to the front doors and were directly shown to the inner lobby, just outside the theater. "CBS Guests" are lined up ahead of the dotted ones. I could tell by the looks of people, that there were some industry people and possible friends of Warren in the CBS guest line. After a little wait, a couple of energetic staffers stood on chairs to give us instructions for the show. It was explained that we were to be let in before the other audience members. Our reaction to Dave and the jokes would help set the tone for the night. The rest of the audience would pick up from our example. The reaction would flow back to them and create a better atmosphere for the broadcast. After about a 5 minute talk, they left and we were entertained by various security people and staffers going in and out of the theater and up & down the stairs.
***[Alan checked us in and I visited with Hanni, CBS page, who was armed with a clipboard. She was bright eyed, cheery and friendly. We immediately entered the theater and were escorted near the stairway to the balcony. I was pleased there was an audience prep. The two that presented the information about the show, the audience role and the taboo points, did so with skill. I have read otherwise, in other reports, but stood listening with minimal mind drift. The content shared was information that I did need to know about the show. Basically, the role the audience would play during the taping. We already knew where we would be seated. In the background, we could hear the band playing and Warren singing. A rehearsal was taking place just before the audience was allowed to be seated.]
We were led upstairs to the balcony. Our time had come to enter the Ed Sullivan Theater proper. It was like I had remembered it back in 1993. We were led down the stage right aisle and seated to our left with a couple of men that were already seated. Our front row balcony seats were fantastic. That is an understatement. I was able to see all the stage with the exception of the front below me, where Sid would be standing. I was able to view him later in the show by moving forward a bit and looking around a stage light. There was taped music playing and the excitement rose as more people started filling the seats behind us. The stagehands were busy setting up the stage, buffing the floor and moving equipment.
***[For me, the balcony was the best location to see the show. There was nothing to distract me while watching the stage and the Late Show team. The entire audience including those in the balcony were not a factor. We were seated in the balcony front row stage right. That also was a perfect location. I didn't have to keep moving my head side to side to see the stage content.
The balcony position did have one drawback--Sid was out of view. Alan and Renee had prepared me for the opening moments. Seeing many of the Late Show team, the night before, enabled me to focus on what was happening and not be star struck. I focused on what they were doing and NOT on the monitors. That is what Alan and Renee said to do. I could always watch the show later.
I was not cold. The set colors were warm and soft. I remember focusing on the stage and the view. The set looked alive. Okay--I may have been having a Farrah moment. The set was better in person than I had viewed on television. People were beginning to move about slowly on the stage. Kenny grabbed his buffer and another man, I didn't know, was busy with another. The one I didn't know was doing the area where Dave stands for the opening. Pat Farmer appeared center stage and started speaking to the man. He glances down and I see him touch the tape on the floor with his foot. He then bends over and smoothes the tape flat with his hand and finger tips. I was struck by the fact such a detail was important to Pat. At that moment, I knew the show was going to be good. Pat had made sure the light hit the floor without a glare. (Later, I was able to mention the moment directly to Pat. He sort of tilted his head, thinking. He shared that the tape was up off the floor. When the lights would be brought across the dark floor for the opening, the camera would have picked up the edge and altered the view.
The floor starts to fill with people. Two standing at the front of the stage as the downstairs audience is being seated. I start to recognize more and more people. It was sort of like someone had opened a door and the time had started. The countdown began for the start of the show. A person stood, in the middle of the stage, with finger counts to keep track of the timed elements. I remember seeing Will Lee tossing something out to the audience seated below.]
Eddie Brill finally came out and introduced the tape of Dave with kids. After the tape ended, Eddie came back and gave his speech.
***[Eddie Brill appeared center stage. I needed to hear what he shared...including the cussing. (Eddie's speech put me on notice there may be strong language during the show taping. It did happen at one point. Strong language was used and not bleeped. David's reaction was part of the skit.) Eddie explains about the need to push the sound at times. At certain points, we needed to increase the intensity and the volume of our response when he signaled. I understood the reason for the push. It allowed the sound to have dimension. It made sense to me--so I did as he instructed. At times, Eddie would stand back, other times he would move to the center of the stage and signal. There was one ugly moment. Eddie motioned to get out of the studio at the prompting of Tony Mendez .]
Eddie continued as he introduced the band members and finally Paul who played a couple of short songs. Also introduced were Alan Kalter and Biff Henderson.
***[Felicia arrived a touch late...Eddie Brill sang a line or two. Then someone came down and spoke to the man seated to my right. He was busy taking notes. Prior, he had pointed to the mike in front of me and Alan saying, "Everything you say can be heard." Alan had already showed me the mike. The person that came down the stairs told him, "Please, no talking. The mike was picking up the sound." Of course, Alan asked me what was said. I had to whispered... "they told him not to talk." At some point the man got up and left the seat open. He returned a while later. He was probably someone really important.]
Finally, without a coat, Dave comes running out with a bound upon his desk platform and then to the middle camera.
***[Dave Letterman came out on that stage owning it. My mind went from a stage full of prep people...to David. It took me a few moments to get used to the fact Dave was there. Another few moments to realize there were other people in the world. The gathering of all those people on the stage was for the moment Dave took the camera. I was in the Ed getting ready to see the show live.]
Dave talks to the audience and asks for a couple of questions. He exits and the band starts playing the opening theme song. Alan announced the guests and other opening lines. Dave comes out, delivers his monologue and moves over to the desk.
***[I don't remember any of the jokes. I remember thinking..."it is supposed to be cold in here and it isn't." I remember thinking how very still everyone was on the stage. Every tiny movement stood out so very much. I was watching Dave in person.]
The show was the standard format with the exception that the only guest was Warren Zevon. After the first segment, Warren came out and sat at the desk with Dave for a discussion. There were some moments that seemed a bit awkward, but with the subject matter of Warren's terminal cancer, it was to be expected. "Enjoy every sandwich" is the most memorable line & advice that Warren gave us.
During a commercial break, Warren got up and slowly made his way to the piano that was quickly set up by the stagehands. The CBS Orchestra horn section stood behind the grand piano. Tony scanned the balcony and we waved to him as he looked our way. He waved back with a big grin on his face. He turned to Dave Dorsett, the cameraman, and points back up to us. With a big gesture, Tony motions us to leave the theater. Between laughter, I shake my finger at him in a "no way" motion. Dave also gives us the heave-ho sign. We still won't leave.
***[After Tony "found" us in the balcony, my focus remained on him for a while. When Tony was not showing the cards to Dave, Tony positioned his body to be in the least 'blocking' position as possible to the audience. He became a shadow to Dave Dorsett. Tony had long pants on. Laurie Diamond would turn and look up at the monitor watching the show. The Stangel Brothers appeared on stage...as did Wahoo Mike. Faces I knew from the Late Show and the Tony Mendez Internet show just flowed in front of me. When Warren was performing, Dave would glance every so often to his monitor. Dave would almost vanished in the change of lighting. As Warren sang, people gathered on stage left to watch. Their movements were slow and careful.]
Warren sang "Mutineer." Next commercial break, Tony is talking to Eddie and points up to us again. Same old "get out" motion by both and I respond again with the no way signal. As we found out later from another trip report, there were people around us that were wondering what the heck was going on between Tony and us. Nobody asked at the time. The next set-up was with a string section and Warren standing playing guitar. He sang "Genius" and conducted the strings in the end.
***[The strings were set up in advance...then quickly lifted and moved out to the front of the stage. I was taken by how quickly everyone did their job and the lack of sound while they were doing it. Yes, there was music playing...but there were no needless motions or stray sounds happening. The lights went on and a light shined right in our face. During the song the lights moved and paused on our seating location. I will never see that spot light type look without thinking of Warren singing. Those lights shining up through the blueness...I thought at that moment, I would miss Warren. The discussion with David helped set the tone. Warren Zevon lived hard. He was going to end this life in a creative burst that let me know he valued his life. Always when the camera was off, Warren was drinking water that was just a reach away in his support person's hand. Warren didn't seem to be feeling pain...no wincing motions on his face. He did seem to be moving in a slower world. The only word I know to use is 'medicated.' David slowed also. His movements and speed were deliberate and showed care. David exited the stage proper at one point behind his desk. There were times I knew it was a very special thing Alan and I were being allowed to see in person. In the middle of all the "knowing" stood Tony telling us to get out of the theater. Tony became big--larger than life. Tony helped me alter my focus away from the thought Warren was saying goodbye. I didn't want to be sad... I wanted to remember.]
The final segment he sang "Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner" a favorite of Dave's. Dave came to Warren at the end and each thanked one another for the night. The audience was totally focused throughout the evening on every word and move that Warren made. Everybody knew what a night it had been.
***[As Warren turned around completely the last time Dave came to him, I realized that is the motion David uses when he is closing a segment or stunt. A quick circle movement. Warren's was slow and a touch awkward. Warren Zevon was standing there next to David and if you could have separated the applause...you could have heard a pin drop. It was not a time for words. David and Warren just stood there for what seemed like a long time but I know now it was only a moment. It seemed so very much longer live. Watching Dave leave Warren center stage was hard. A public moment that made me want to just give them some privacy. I looked around the stage and everyone was focused. Silent. I don't remember Dave saying goodnight. I don't remember how the show ended. I remember Alan standing up next to me. That is how I knew it was over. Going up the balcony stairs to exit...a man stepped in behind me. I felt him touch my back a couple of times. Alan thankfully took my hand and walked in front of me. Going down the stairs to the lobby, Alan walked directly in front of me. The man behind me...I never turned to look at him--had pushed me hard a couple of times. Alan in front of me took the worry of falling away.]
THE OTHER SHOW (TMS)...
Tony Mendez Tour of The Ed Sullivan Theater and Taping of TMS
We exit back up the aisle and down the stairs to the lobby. The audience is led through the theater and out the side doors onto 53rd street. We turn right, instead of left, and tell the page that is blocking the route, Tony wants to see us. She lets us pass by and I drag Sharon down the aisle towards Tony with (TMS Producer) Walter Kim on the digital video camera shooting the Tony Mendez Show. Tony begins talking to us and Sharon is speechless. Tony has fun and shows her when to talk, when the microphone is in front of her. I pull out a gift for Tony. (I had decided while planning the trip that Tony could use a genuine Tony Mendez Show mug. It could be used on the TMS to hold the microphone.) I told him that he could place the microphone in his new mug and his mug lit up. We had totally surprised him. The screen shot of the mug was used to promote our appearance on the TMS. We proceeded onstage and took the required pictures of us behind the desk. Sharon sat in the guest seat that Warren had occupied during the panel segment. I sat behind the desk and acted like I was interviewing her.
***[ I see a CBS page. I know Alan is talking to her....the next thing I know we are going to the right instead of the left with the rest of the audience. Halfway down the aisle I see Tony...I see Walter...we are on camera. Tony is talking to me but holding the mike to my face...then back at his. This is a stunt he pulled on the TMS show many times with guests. I see Alan showing Tony the surprise Mug. Tony loved it. I could see it on his face as he turned around and showed the mug to the camera. I don't remember walking up on stage. I don't remember sitting behind the desk. I remember thinking I want to sit where Warren sat. I do. Alan is seated behind the desk. Tony and Walter are a blur. I remember Tony sharing the details of the new section of the set. My dog Wuff is actually represented there. Okay...prove me wrong. Always that little dog will be Wuff. The "Will It Float Tank?" is up in storage. Tony still wants to get even with Pat, Kenny and Walter for a TMS stunt. They threw Tony in the tank. He had some stuff damaged in his wallet and swore he would get revenge. Tony shares the stage with us and then we are headed to see another area... well--almost. I sort of had a request. I wanted to see the shack. See...Wahoo Mike works there. I have had this image of it in my mind and I needed to see it. I had it the size of a closet. A computer crammed to one side of the door and barely room for a chair. Well...off to the shack we went. Alan took the photo...the darn room even has its own window INSIDE the theater.]
We shift around on the stage and Tony points out the scenery behind the desk and the parts he really likes. A dog, a vodka bottle and other items that the camera doesn't pick up due to their size. Each light on the set is actually the end of a fiber optic line from a light box instead of individual lights...Tony seems amazed by this fact. There are hundreds of lights done this way. We go into the area off stage left where the props are kept in a locker. The coffee counter is located next to the locker. Kenny Sheehan greets us and so does Pat Farmer. We are shown the coffee dispensers that Dave's assistant, Laurie Diamond uses. Pat said, "This is how Laurie gets Dave's coffee." He then furiously pumps many times down on the dispenser without actually getting coffee. Apparently, she thinks it's unbreakable. Pat offers Sharon some of Dave's coffee and fills a cup.
***[ I first decline the offer of coffee. I was already so excited I told them I would never sleep if I had coffee. Pat and Tony shared it was indeed decaf. Sipping it, I realized I was actually drinking the same exact brew Dave had for the show. Alan takes a sip. It placed us in a very small group in time, at least, for the moment. Okay...special for the Dave is "god" group. Hey, Dave does have this thing about lists of ten and the coffee sharing may rate as communion.]
We are introduced to Corky Ramirez while in the green room. Pat shows Tony something new. It's a wall located within a closet where mannequins are stored. We have seen these body parts on the TMS. Pat informs us there used to be a door Jackie Gleason used for access to Studio 54 a number of years ago. Tony is impressed by this bit of information. It's cinder-blocked now, done when the renovation of the Ed was made for the Dave. Next stop is the control room with dozens of monitors, switching boards and computers.
***[Somewhere on the flow of the tour...Tony shares the supports that have been added to the floor to insure whatever walks out on the stage of the Ed doesn't fall through. Me included. I remember walking down a hallway and thinking this is where Dave hit his head. Alan had to duck a couple of times...two ducks. We see where the sound is mixed for the show--a techy looking room. I noticed on the monitors that the stage was still on camera in the control room. Tony hands me a stack of papers. "10-30-02 Gossip." It appears there is someone in charge of gathering all the gossip and putting it in a nice little packet. Copies are made for whatever purpose it is needed. Humor data...I would have never thought it would take that form. I remember thinking how dark and old some areas were...and then again...how new and high tech some of the others were.
I asked Alan to take a photo of the Hal plaque. His camera has all these settings and we wanted one that showed the engraving. I remember seeing photos...history and secrets being shared. Pat Farmer stayed with us on much of the tour. People just kept appearing in front of me that I knew from the shows.]
Tony explains who gets to sit in each seat. We go out to the lobby where we take pictures of the various changes in the theater's outside. The line drawing of Ed Sullivan is prominently displayed in the inner lobby. Back inside the theater, Tony points out the chandelier that hangs in the center of the theater. The Ed is on the Historical Register of New York. Some of the windows remain because of the historical landmark status.
***[We tour back to the main lobby and into the theater again. Up on stage I am thinking I am standing on the stage of the Ed SullivanTheater and this was where David was just standing. This was where Warren needed to be tonight. I had touched things...all over the theater. It was real. I needed to leave a mark. I ask Pat if I could mark on the floor...in a secret place. He looked at me with a tilt of his eyebrow and said sure..."We do buff them." I told him I wanted to put it where the buffer wouldn't go. I did. He knows where...as does Tony, Walter and Alan. I did it and then said it is sort of like fingerprints. I wanted to make sure my mark was in the Ed. Pat smiled at me. We walked towards the side exit...and people started appearing again.]
Going towards the stage door exit, we pause outside another green room
***[George makes his second appearance. He shared he didn't mean to leave so quickly earlier in the tour. I look up and there is a band member. Sid...right there on my left is... Sid. It was like the moment I realized Will Lee was standing next to me on the curb. I no sooner shake his hand than Anton appears right behind him. Anton. Zippy was right there in front of me too. It was just something that didn't seem real. These people would just seem to pop up right in front of me. Chez stops in and visits every so often in alt.fan.letterman. Alan talked with him about the newsgroup.]
Sid is there and we are introduced to Anton. Sharon talks to him. Alan Cheznovitz appears and I thank him for his insights and answers he provides us in afl. He makes a comment about how he doesn't have a life because he posts there. I tell him that we are worse, we post every day. Felicia comes out of the green room with a small posse and Tony goes in and brings a basket of cookies. He offers us some, I touch one and put it back and he yells at me about doing that & makes me take it back. Just before Tony heads us out the door, Pat said to wait one minute, he wants to get something to give us. He returns with a script from the show.
***[Before we go through the door, leaving the big Ed area, I ask Tony if I may touch him. He is a real "Untouchable Host" on the "TMS." He grants permission and gives me a wonderful, real hug. He tells me the tour is not over just yet. We then go through a door. A tiny little room outside the second green room. I forgot that Walter has the camera running. At some point, Walter said he was almost out of tape. He had been recording most of the tour. It is time to go back to the world outside. There are still guests in the room. Tony grabs the basket and treats us to cookie time. Pat returns with a show script and hands it to me. I look at Pat and thank him. I then hand it to Alan, telling Pat...I will give it to Alan because he has people to share it with. Pat then raised his eyebrows and tells Alan he had better not see it on eBay. Good-byes were said and out the door we go...I throw a kiss to Walter. I know there is a crowd of people outside the door. I know this because we exit around them--they are all very quiet. Tony yells at us to get a life...I yell back, "You too." I am in a daze.]
Tony says goodbye to us and as we go out the door, notices that it is raining and asks if we have umbrellas. We don't and he says to just get in the limo that is waiting to take Warren. I protect the script from the precipitation and leave, thanking Tony for the experience. The door closes behind us and as we walk towards the fans waiting behind the barricades, Tony shouts out "Get a life" to our laughter and confusion of those waiting in the rain. I must say,Tony Mendez is truly an extremely fine human being, no matter what the staff says. He made our trip to the show one that will never be forgotten and we truly appreciate all that he did. It was an extraordinary experience.
***[Everyday I remember something else that happened...something that was said or a moment that crossed my mind. There was no hurry in the tour. I look back at the photo of the Ed stage and I see Pat Farmer there. He is touching something on the floor as he was setting up the ghost light. No dark theaters allowed. I don't remember Pat leaving us on the tour. He had to have left us, because he was there on the stage in the photo.]
We go past the office door and Dorothy of Security (from a TMS episode) is there. We pass by and stroll to Kinko's to post the Psychic LSQG. With that, our secret will be out that we were at the show.
Posting Fun, Kinko's, Bumpers, & making plans with Don (Donz5)
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I had set up the afl to think that the Psychic LSQGs were due to an employment situation…I posted…
"Due to my employer's repurposing of my work hours, I will be unable to view the "Late Show with David Letterman" for the next couple of weeks in a timely manner in order to post the "Late Show Quick Guide".
This is a temporary situation that will be rectified once said employer understands my priorities.
As a replacement, and, just for the fun of it, I'll go the way of Micah and provide a "Psychic LSQG" in advance of each broadcast for the next 2 weeks of shows. You are advised to not print these out and place with your tapes for reference. That will only confuse you (more).
I will make a complete posting of real LSQGs upon review of what the VCR saves for me, sometime in early November, for the archives."
There were a few posted replies…
"Doesn't that job thing just suck? I swear...
Take care of yourself, Alan’
"The LSQG is excellent and my first stop in the evening's entertainment.
I hope your job realises the sacrifices that you make. Ask for a pay raise."
And we all know how painful that is...Oh no!! [okay, remember the drill: deep breaths... inhale...1, 2, 3;exhale...1, 2, 3]
I got a guy in Jersey (name's Scafitti) who could "help" this process along.
(If 'ya know what I mean...)
Nope. I can't get any more confused than I am already.
Thanks, Alan. You're a swell guy! :-)
Kate, who appreciates all the *real* work you do for afl"
"Didn't you tell your boss about coming off a dark week and it would have
been better to do this last week?
Should we make a phone call to your boss?:)"
It appeared that I had set them up for good.
We strolled again to Kinko’s and posted the Psychic LSQG through Google.
***[We go directly to the Kinko's. I was as excited as Alan about getting the data on the afl about the show. The fun had been we were there and only Renee and a couple of others knew...and had kept the secret. Renee told us we would really miss not meeting Don (donz5). She said we should at least see if a visit could be arranged. Alan would try after we copied the script. We had decided that if anyone on the face of the earth would appreciate and like to have a copy, it would be Don. The show had been special. As Alan read some of the stuff in the script...we knew it was the type of information Don would put in that great big storage system of his. Alan made a copy for me to read also.]
I sent an e-mail to Micah with the song information from the show so he could post a "Bumper Music" thread from our notes and the script. We checked e-mail and then did what no one should do without warning…we Instant Messaged Donz. Donz actually replied back and we set up a meeting under the marquee for the next day, before we were to pick up tickets for the late Thursday taping.
***[Donz was right there on the computer and I was reading the visit between him and Alan. After various questions about the show and the secret journey, I was tickled that Don agreed to meet us. I had thought of Don during the tour. It happened when we visited the Shack. There was a phone by the computer. I remember at some point there had been information sought from Don about the show in the past. I guess that helped me understand why Don might not be watching the show with afl in the audience--he may be needed to provide some sort of data. Gotta make Dave look good.]
He begged us to take a couple of his CDs off his hands…I figured it wouldn’t hurt. We went back to the Manhattan Chili Company for dinner. The host there was beginning to remember us. We sat upstairs for dinner and noticed a few staffers in a corner. After dinner, we went downstairs to exit and ran into Pat, Kenny, Corky, Bill & some other staffers. We chatted again, they were talking about the show with Warren. He obviously had a very strong effect on them…he was like family. We had just been on a tour of the Ed with these people popping in and out. We left, again thanking Pat for the script and promised that he would never see it on eBay. We pass by the office entrance and there is Dorothy. A security staffer that was once the subject of a TMS episode. Tony had commented that she "packs heat" and not to mess with her. Sharon explains we are fans of the TMS and she laughs that we remember her from her appearance.
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 31...
World Trade Center, Brooklyn Bridge, Book signing, & AFL Friends
Another day, another wake-up call. Renee let us know where her brother and son were to be for the book signing and lecture. We go to Kinko’s and check out the newsgroup. The questions were already in full force. Donz posted he was being brave and meeting us. We go to breakfast at Leo Lindy’s across from Martini’s at 53rd Street & 9th Avenue.
***[We were seated in the window where we could see Martini's on the corner. Hey...the seats were warm. Good food---and warmed seats in a booth. It was nice.]
This was our start to the World Trade Center site & Brooklyn Bridge.
We take the subway to Rector Street station. I had lived on Governor’s Island for most of 1980 and the area was very familiar to me. We walked a couple of blocks north...there it wasn’t. I could tell by the void in the sky that I was in the right place. There were a couple of buildings on the perimeter still undergoing repair, but the neighborhood seemed to be back at work for the most part. Construction was going on in the pit for the substructure and subway station that is being replaced. There was a fence surrounding the site with plaques describing what had happened and what was going on. We walked across the catwalk over the West Side Highway for a better look. We returned to the church.Banners, cards and other memorial notes & signs surrounded it. They still had the smell of smoke permeating from them.
***[I was glad the station at the WTC was not open. We went a touch south and then walked back to the area. A neighborhood area. I had watched a show on CNN about the neighborhood. How people that call the area home are hoping that it gets the support it needs to maintain that nature. Small businesses all around. Then we got to the corner and there it was to the left--the hole. The buildings around still held the markings and damage. Some had been scrubbed. I was not sad. I walked down the side to the photos on the board to my left. The void was being altered but that fine dusty powder could still be seen everywhere. There will be justice for what was done. Nothing that evil and painful will go without balance. Nothing. That is what I kept thinking as I saw people speaking various languages, snapping photos, and looking stunned at the view.]
Our next list item is the Brooklyn Bridge. We walk through the financial area and start our trek on the bridge. It was a beautiful day and the sights were great. We walked to just past the middle of the bridge. On our way, we see Governor's Island, the Statue of Liberty and a blimp. The wooden sidewalk is split in half. The west side is for pedestrians and the east side is for bicycles. We are passed occasionally by a few skaters, also. We head back towards City Hall.
***[From the bridge, we took photos. We would later be looking back at the point we stopped at on the bridge when we returned to the area in a visit Battery Park. Manhattan Bridge, Brooklyn, Staten Island and New Jersey were also visible. The East River was busy with maritime traffic. The geometric designs produced by the cables were ever changing.]
Renee's Brother & Matthew's Uncle--David Stravitz Book Signing
Back on the subway to ride up to the North Wing of the Villard Houses on Madison Avenue. This is where Renee’s brother, David, was holding a lecture and book signing for his newly-released book "The Chrysler Building, Creating A New York Icon, Day By Day." We arrive a bit late, but get into the standing-room-only lecture. Renee’s son, Matt, recognizes us and gives up his seat to Sharon. David was in the middle of a very good discussion of the pictures that are his book. He was able to quickly point out the old and new buildings that are shown in the photos. The photos are incredible. The equipment used to take them weighed 100 pounds. The photographers had to carry this gear to many heights in different buildings to document the construction. David was able to save the negatives just before they were to be destroyed. There isn’t any other documentation on the construction, of what was for 7 months, the tallest building on earth. The Empire State Building was under construction at the same time.
***[Renee has a nice young man for a son. The photos and explanation that David shared was really interesting. Inside information about the construction. I really enjoyed the parts where he pointed out the position of the ones taking the photos. The eye behind the camera on those shots really had to be dedicated to documenting the views.]
I bought the book and David personalized it. I had Matt sign on the page where he was thanked for his work on the project. I think it was his first book signing. Having this piece of New York City architectural history is an added delight .
Visit with Donz and Karen Pre-Show
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We headed back to the hotel to freshen up for our visit with the Donz.
The Donz. What can one say? Not enough, that’s for sure. We were standing in front of the Manhattan Chili Company, keeping an eye out for him. I finally spotted him talking to a staffer…he was wearing his Late Night coat. I don’t think he has another coat. We greeted him and went around the corner to catch the action. We gave Donz a copy of the script from the Warren show and a copy of Biff’s stage production notes. I included an Apple computer watch, which runs backwards. It and reads, "Think Different" on the faceplate. I get to see what he uses for time checks…a digital clock kept in his pocket. It looks as though it’s gone through a couple of wars. We continue to visit and Donz seems to pull staffer attention. Shecky, Maria and others pass by, from the office doors to the theater doors. Rupert yells something about keeping him out of the Hello Deli, but comes out and talks to us for quite some time. Steve Young, the writer/bartender, not the football player, also comes out and talks to us. As he left, I shared with him that I was not "Alan Page" football player either. There are some pictures of all taken. A lot of handholding in them.
***[ I was just mostly an observer. (Well, there was that moment when Don tried to grab me and run off. I won't really go into it but I was sure glad the NYPD had just pulled up.) I was amazed how staffers would see Don and stop to visit. I must admit Don was a pretty good sport when doing my "Dave sittin' in the van" thing. I watched Rupert reach for Don's hand and hold it without any hesitation. Rupert also lifted the counter cover and "showed" Marilyn that it appears the counter is about due for another painting. He laughed when I shared that Marilyn has this need for that part to look nice too. I told him next time she came to town I would remind her to go in and check it.]
Sharon & I go around to get our tickets. We retrieve Donz and go into the Manhattan Chili Company for something to eat and drink. The host isn’t getting tired of us, just notices that it’s not the first time we are there again. We sit in the front window and continue visiting.
***[Here a funny thing happened. Don and I were seated opposite each other and both of us saw this woman out on the sidewalk. She looked familiar to me. Why would I know this woman? Oh well...it appeared Don was doing the same thing in his head. My thought was confirmed when in a moment, the woman appeared standing between Don and Alan. It was the one and only Karen. Don didn't recognize her. He kept mumbling something about twiggy. Slender and smiling she stepped up between the men. She had been told to come and find us by Renee. A little surprise. It was a good one. We visited. I sipped my iced tea. Don sipped his water. Alan had his beer and Karen? Well...let me just say things were gonna get ugly if the lite beer didn't get there. The crowd slowly started to gather outside as we visited.]
At some point, there’s some lady coming in to be with us. I have no idea who she is, but I should, it seems. I was doing something else when Donz & Sharon had noticed that she was someone from the group. After being introduced to Karen, I got a chair for her from another table. I offered her a drink and she said she just wanted water. This couldn’t be the Karen from the group. *That* Karen is supposed to be a drinker. I talked her into a beer…well, not a beer, a lite beer. We ordered the beer and it didn’t come after a few minutes. Karen was thirsty so I went over to our waitress…she had forgotten about it. The beer was finally delivered and we continued visiting until it was time to get in line. Karen & Donz made plans for the night and we went to get in line.
THE SECOND SHOW...
The Late Show with David Letterman
Guests: Don Rickles & Jim Gaffigan
We were numbered 28 & 29 so we found our place near the front of the line. A few minutes later, we went into the outer lobby with the 300 or so others.
***[This number 28 & 29 is such a nice thing...until you know that the access point to walk to the front of the line was way back down the street. We checked the numbers and entered UNDER the restraining rope thingie. It would have been fine except my back was not exactly supposed to be moving like that. I didn't even think about it. I did not realize it was bothering me until later. All the exercise walking was a good thing. There was a delay in the pain until the next day. As we entered the theater, to be seated, it was not so bad being in the line. We were on the edge and I spent some time visiting with Dorothy, the security guard and another page. It was then time for the prep and I actually wanted to see a couple get tossed out on their ear.]
Our talk here was near the same as the night before, but for the general audience, without the "you’re the start of laughter" parts. During one point, some person in the group made some groans and comments and they were quickly shut-up by a frightful stare by the page. At this point, I saw what they were expecting. People not paying attention to what was going on. Each pep talk is used for the purpose of making sure the audience is in the correct frame of mind and they won’t need to be thrown out due to behavior. I’m sure the person that made the comment was at least warned about what he had done.
We enter the theater and were seated in the center section, 4th row from the front, 3rd & 4th seats from the stage right aisle. We’d be in front of Dave for his monologue and for Jim Gaffigan’s stand-up. The opening band introduction, tape and comments were the same as Wednesday night. Dave came running out again, the same way.
After his monologue, the lights went dark while Dave was at the desk. One of a couple technical goofs that happened. The next was when the scrim was raised too early before the Will It Float? segment. Don Rickles was typical Don Rickles. He’s much shorter in person. Tom Cavanaugh came out during Paul’s solo and caped him. Being a Friday taping, there would be no audience sweep. Jim Gaffigan had a funny stand-up segment and I was surprised that he was so close to the camera while doing it.
***[This show can best be described as "more" by me. More distractions from the massive audience around me, and more people on the stage. There was motion everywhere and my eyes went with it. It was almost as if I was looking through a busy crowd doing stuff and had to try and find the core of the show. I was bored during Rickles' part of the show. He had said almost the very same thing on his last appearance. There appeared to be some revisions happening at one point. Tony was busy with the cards...the 'brothers' busy talking with each other. Dave stood a moment and seemed to be editing a card with Eddie Brill standing close to his left. The only way I can try and explain the way this show felt to me was like being at a football game and standing behind the bench. All the players etc. flowing in front. You can see the quarterback, but really can't watch anything much without quickly being distracted. I really don't remember much of the content. I remember none of Gaffigan's jokes. I do remember thinking that he was taller than I thought he should be. The show was over quickly. Everyone seemed in a hurry to shut down and get out. Made sense. It was the last show of the week.]
This show seemed to be over faster than the Warren show, but it did take the same amount of time. As we left the theater, I spotted Wahoo Mike sitting in the guest chair with Alan Kalter next to him. I decided not to try to get his attention…he works way too hard on the show as it is. We went back to Kinko’s and posted the PLSQGs for the Thursday & Friday shows. Dinner that night was at a restaurant on Broadway. Ellen's had singing wait staff and being Halloween, it made for a bit of a different show.
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 1...
Tour with Peggy- JPMorganChase, More Sightseeing locations
Late Show Remote Taping
This day was going to be different. No Late Show to see. We had made plans to visit with a friend (Peggy) of Sharon’s and go flying around on her private plane around the Statue of Liberty in the late afternoon. The corridor down the Hudson River had been reopened recently since 9/11/01 and if the weather held, it would make for an incredible view of NYC from the air. We went to Peggy’s workplace on Park Avenue in the morning. She supported software for JPMorganChase trading center in 5 overseas sites. Peggy offered us a tour of a trading floor across the street from her office. We met her and got our passes. What we saw was amazing to the casual viewer. It was a very large floor, filled with rows of workstations with 5-8 flat screen monitors at each station. There were hundreds of these stations. This floor was for international trading of just about everything in the world.
***[It was a neat experience. I followed Peggy's instructions and we went up the escalator to the second floor and went to the desk. Only problem, we had gone up the Employee Only entrance. They tell us how to get over where we needed to be and after a few moments, we are told Peggy is on her way. I give her the gift Alan and I got for her and her husband. Matching hats with the tail number of their private plane on them. The hats also matched the color of their plane. They were in a "gift" bag. A friend in the past collected everything that had anything to do with flying... the saying "I would rather be flying..." was special. I stitched it on her bag with the tail number and the nickname of her plane, Romeo. Alan and I seemed to have been able to find the right gift for people along the way.]
There was another floor above that was identical. Another "executive" floor was elsewhere. Peggy explained that it was relatively calm, because the world was calm and the U.S. stock markets weren’t open yet. I could tell our tour was special by the way that the traders looked at us. We were circling around the center of the floor and at each row, eyes would look up at us in a "Who are these special people to be walking around here?" type of glance. We also saw the large cafeteria on another floor which had a very wide selection for the thousands of workers in the building. It was a unique visit that wouldn’t be duplicated.
More Sightseeing Locations
After leaving Peggy to her work, we went to Grand Central Station and took pictures of the area that Paul & the CBSO were seated in the opening LS sequence. We took the subway from there and went south to Battery Park. The world sculpture that had been recovered from the WTC was there with an eternal flame. It was beaten up, but not destroyed. We walk around and find the other war memorials that have been a major part of the park. Across the river, I point out Governor’s Island.
We go down to the old ferry building that I used while stationed in the Coast Guard, It is located next to the Staten Island Ferry building. Both buildings are being renovated. Governor’s Island is deserted but will be developed eventually. Back on the subway to the upper west side to continue the tour. We walk to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Then up to the Guggenheim Museum. Inside, I explain to Sharon how the spiral walkway makes for an easy tour through the exhibit.
***[Before going into the Guggenheim I wanted to walk in Central Park. Well...Alan set that up for me. We entered and took a photo of the sign located at the gate and the lovely green plants. We then turned around and exited. I sort of laughed when it happened. I CAN say I was in Central Park twice. Once on foot and then on the bus. The bus? Oh--that is another first. My first ride on public transportation like that. It was quick and easy with the little metro cards. The path through Central Park is a blur--there is photo proof. The bus made only a few stops on our way to Broadway.
At this point, my back is hurting me. I needed something to interrupt the feeling. As long as I was standing, I was okay...getting up and sitting were becoming more difficult. Try and find a pharmacy when you need one. Alan finally found one. Then...all we could see were pharmacies.]
We catch a bus to cross through Central Park to the upper east side. We had made a promise to take pictures of Tom’s Restaurant (Broadway & 112th Street)…the one in the "Sienfeld" show that is used for the outside shots.
***[One of my neighbors is a big Sienfeld fan. The goal was to get photographs of the place and if I could, a menu for her. Alan did the planning and my neighbor had neat things to share with her fellow employees at work. It appears she was rather disappointed because there was not a "BIG" salad on the menu. It's a Sienfeld thing.]
Sharon went in for a couple of souvenir menus and said that it was a place where she didn’t want to eat. We took the obligatory pictures and ate pizza for lunch. The weather was the only thing that would keep us from flying and it was looking darker as the forecasters had predicted. After lunch, we call Peggy and travel towards mid-town to finally discuss the situation. It didn’t look good. The clouds were coming in dark and low. By the time we got back to 42nd street, Peggy was in touch with the weather forecaster at her airport and there didn’t seem to be a way for us to do the flying. It was a disappointment, but when safety was concerned, I didn’t need any more thinking about it.
Late Show Remote Taping
We returned to the hotel and decided to go to Kinko’s.
***[We also had to deliver Rupert's shirt to him. He likes to fish so we got him a fishing shirt. A nice cabin representing Alan...and the word "Arkansas" under the picture for me. Rupert looked at the shirt and touched the picture..."Oh nice.. a fishin' shirt."]
Our normal route was up 8th to 53rd. When we got to 53rd, we found the street blocked off. There was something going on with contestants from the New York Marathon that was going to happen in 2 days. Upon walking further, we find it’s not really people from the Marathon, but staffers from the Late Show in running gear, a cab with a running number and a camera filming. We proceed to watch, after getting out of the camera shot to the south side of the street. Pat, Kenny, Bill, director Jerry Foley and a few other stage people were around. Writer Steve Young was there and we talked his ear off for quite a while.
***[Steve explained that when they filmed something like the thing they were doing, a writer was usually present. Their purpose was to fine-tune the presentation. I do believe what I enjoyed most, was standing back on that step watching all of them do their job. When there was work to be done, everyone pitched in. The wind was blowing very hard. Paper cups were being used to make it appear as race day. It was taking a bunch of the staff to keep the cups in the street. Over and over, the runners ran down the street. At one point two women stood beside me and asked what was happening. They were going to be running in the real race on Sunday. JPMorganChase, the place we toured with Peggy, was sponsor of the race. The final times would be at the business. After the filming was done...we went on to Kinko's. On returning, the street was clear and clean. The Late Show team had left it in better shape than it had been all week.]
The cab was trying to take over the runners as they ran up the street. The street was littered with white water cups that Pat & Kenny had thrown out and stepped on. They stepped on them because the wind would keep blowing them out of the street and into the gutter. They would get them swept out again, the scene was reset and the cups would blow back to the gutter. This went on a number of times. Finally near the end, Kenny got a dustpan and broom and started to pick them all up. There were over 10 takes of the cab sequence that we saw. Steve showed us a runner’s label that was another joke…something like there were so many runners that they had one that was number 19,024,135,753,094,700,236,185,320.
Yeah, over 19 septillion entered. As the crew cleaned up we went on to Kinko’s, to post,as planned. We then went up to Times Square and took a few more photos of the nightlife.
***[On the way back, from Times Square, I noticed him again. The man that sleeps in the box outside the side entrance to the Ed Sullivan Theater. He waited to set up his box sleep area until everyone was gone. He placed it under the light near the door. Plastic over the cardboard. I wondered if this was the one that Dave mentions. The one that stands across the street and flips him the bird. I know he probably doesn't really flip him the bird...but I am sure that David and the staff know of this one. Everyday he packed it up... and every night he put it back out. He appeared to be a fixture while we were there.]
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 2...
Good-bye NYC, Travel to DC & visit with Sister,
Return to Arkansas & Wuff
Our last wake-up call in NYC. We said goodbye to Renee and she wished us a safe trip out of town. We checked out and took Sharon’s second ride in a cab to Penn Station. Traffic was light early this morning and we got there in no time. We boarded the Amtrak train and had a noisy ride to BWI due to some drunk New Jersey Net fans traveling to a game in D.C. My sister met us at the train station and drove the short distance to the airport.
***[Alan forgot to mention that his sister got a new car. Brand spankin' new. When it came time to park at the airport, a parking place just happened to be right beside the elevators.]
The counter person advised us that Sharon’s plane flight didn’t exist anymore. She placed her on one that would leave in 10 minutes, getting her home faster.
***[He says that so casually...she calmly told me my flight didn't exist and then paused. I turn back to look at Alan and his sister. I am thinking great. No flight and Wuff is expecting me to pick her up. I guess something bad had to happen to what had been an almost perfect trip. Alan stepped forward and before I knew it, I have tickets in hand for a plane that was about to board. A direct flight to St. Louis then home.]
We said our good-byes and Sharon walked through the maze that led to the security checkpoint. My sister took me to her house in Maryland.
***[ I did get a full body search and scan at this airport. The rush ticket made me a marked person. Even the shoes had to come off. I took it it stride. The one checking me said she was sorry it would take a little time--the plane would not leave without me. I told her I had visited the WTC. After seeing that hole in the ground and fine dust everywhere, she just needed to tell me what she wanted me to do. At that point, the next person pulled out of line started complaining. Seated next to me, the woman was really upset about being checked. The security checker said,"So...you saw the World Trade Center Ground Zero while you were visiting?" She glanced at the woman to my left as she spoke. I told her yes and I would never forget what I saw. The thought that all those people died because, "we didn't have time to do what you are doing right now makes me sick." The woman that was complaining went silent.
On the flight home I had a window seat. I had to switch planes in St. Louis and it appeared I had missed my flight. I finally arrived at the gate and it was empty. The woman behind the desk then pointed me to another gate. They had moved the flight and set it back a half-hour. I was going to make it home with no problem. Well, there was those twilight zone flash backs again...Time passed quickly and I landed to find that it had rained in Arkansas the entire time I was gone. As I exited the airport parking at NWA, I realized it was going to be a long wet ride down the mountain and probably fog in front of me. Wet it was. No fog this time. Wuff was ready to see me. I had arrived 2 hours earlier than expected with the new plane tickets. I will not board her again. It appears that the one I trusted with her did not follow through with the instruction I had given. It took me a week to get her back to normal. The part that bothered me most was that her voice was gone. She had been put outside and would bark to be let in. They would not let her in. I lived for almost two weeks with a dog that didn't sound like my dog. Yes--I did have a long "discussion" with the caregiver.
Alan called while at dinner to make sure I made it home okay. His family had taken him out for seafood. Wuff got left over rib bones from Alan's meal in New York. She really didn't stay mad at me for leaving her long.
The balance of Alan's report about DC, Philadelphia and St. Louis will be added soon! HOME
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