Sunday, February 16, 2014

New York City and the Beatles 50th Anniversary

      Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! I am back from my journey to Manhattan. Spent a week with the Missus visiting friends and family. We co-produced an off-off Broadway show starring our good friend Micah McCain (of "Bonjour, Girl" fame) at the Duplex in the Village. The performance was hilarious and fantastic; and I am very proud of what Micah is accomplishing in NYC. You may remember him from my Huckleberry Finn video - he is part of the "We Are Weightless" sequence.

     On Sunday, February 9th, we managed to hit a grip of Beatle-related locations in honor of the 50th Anniversary of their American debut on the Ed Sullivan show. We started with a visit to the Ed Sullivan Theater, currently the home of the Late Show with David Letterman. It was just a short walk from our hotel and I was quite surprised that other than a quartet of European tourists no one else was taking photos of the cool commemoration there. The clever folks at CBS had wrapped the current marquee with a mock-up banner to recreate the vintage marquee announcing the Beatles' appearance; along with Georgia Brown & Tessie O'Shea. Get back to 1964!

     From there it was on to Central Park and the Dakota, still the residence of Yoko Ono. We waved and blew kisses to Yoko, even if she wasn't home. I, for one, love Yoko - I am a fool for her latest single/video Bad Dancer featuring the Beastie Boys.

     There was snow on the greens of Central Park but the sidewalks and the memorial of Strawberry Fields were clear. So we spent time there taking pictures and breathing in the air. It was a frosty day, but very peaceful for walking meditation. We bookended two visits to Strawberry Fields that afternoon with tea at Alice's Tea Shop down the road from the Dakota. Of course, there was tea.

     Our path took us next to the Plaza, where the Beatles were encamped during their first US visit. On several occasions I took faithfully geeked-out pictures with my new Beatles US album CD of Meet The Beatles. It had crossed my mind to take along my 12" 1965 vinyl pressing of MTB as a prop, but with the threat of inclement weather (and it did snow that afternoon; large, damp flakes) and the cumbersome size of the LP, not to mention the sentimental value; I left the record at home. The CD fit neatly in my pocket and served as a nice proxy.

     With the snow coming down, we strolled back to our digs and watched the Beatles TV special. On the whole the show was alright. The highlight was watching Paul and Ringo do their thing together on Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band/With A Little Help From My Friends. It was a gas watching Yoko and Sean Lennon grooving to the performances. They looked like they were having a ball. Stevie Wonder's version of We Can Work It Out is still a mover. The additional performers left something to be desired and I imagine some will be forgotten in a few years time. But those songs won't be forgotten in our lifetimes.

     Thank you, Beatles!

     The rest of the vacation was spent taking tea; taking in monuments and museums (the Met was displaying Eric Clapton's Martin guitar featured on Layla from MTV Unplugged); theatre (meeting Sir Ian McKellen & Sir Patrick Stewart); checking out great restaurants and Top Chefs (Marcus Samuelsson's Red Rooster in Harlem and the Carnegie Deli). We also attended the final dress rehearsal for the Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon at 30 Rock. His house band the Roots were also the "musical guests." I have met Questlove a few times in the past 20 years and it's always fun to see him do his musical thing.

     We encountered many cool New Yorkers. Better, I caught up with relatives young, old and in-between; and not a few celebrities that accented the trip in strange and wonderful ways. Can't wait to go back to my ancestral home. Something fascinating around every corner, not including the slush.

     Peace, NYC.

      p.s. For photos that accompany this blog, please check out my Facebook page. You will see me at the Ed Sullivan Theater, The Met and Strawberry Fields.