A few street scenes:
Across the way from the Plaza Hotel (which, by the way, is closed and being converted into condos or apartments–no more Oak Room for those of you who remember it) we marveled at what I call “The Temple of Apple”.
(A friend who lives in Manhattan told us that the Apple people had the toughest time getting their architectural plans passed for this ultra-super tourist store).
Note: Gotta go–when I return I have more fun pix to upload. Meet me back here.
Before the exciting encounter with the UN entourage in Midtown Manhattan (see post below) there was an unusual anti-war protest taking place on Fifth Avenue, near the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Protestors stood silently, each one holding a sheet of paper with the name, age, and home town of a fallen soldier.
Reporters rushing to cover the story
I’m back from a short visit to New York—and it never fails to stun me with it’s you-never-know-what’s-going-to-happeness.
Take Sunday night (Sept 17)– we were dining at Milos, a delicious Midtown Manhattan Greek seafood restaurant, when the street grew noisier than normal outside and the darkness was punctuated with strobe lights… Cop cars with lights flashing trailed by an imposing line of black SUVS and limos….obviously something very hot was going on because the moving entourage stopped outside my restaurant.
The cop cars that were at the head of the line closed the street at one end where earlier in the day a movie starring Will Smith (“I Am Legend”) was being filmed.
Now it was very dark outside.
Out of the SUVS stepped the highly professional security guys—grey suited & beefy– walking every which way– but it soon became clear that the focus of their attention was the Italian restaurant directly across the street. Colorful tent-like umbrellas hung from the ceiling. Was it called Coco?
I saw the backs of a small group of people, men and women, escorted quickly through the doors.
Right away I knew it was related to the big and controversial United Nations meeting about to take place.
Soon the SUVs pulled over and parked—even though it was a deep black outside I could see the guys holding the big weapons.
I dashed out of the restaurant to do research. I had to know what was going on. I did shoot some photos out of Milos’ windows– but the hoopla outside, the flashing lights, was too much competition.
On the street I found out security was polite but they weren’t talking.
“I’m just hired to work here; I don’t know what the job is” one muscular guy told me. He was wearing a beautiful suit with the little button on the collar—like the one they wear in the movies—and maybe talk into.
Meanwhile, curious onlookers had gathered and were talking among themselves. I joined them to find out what they knew.
“Who is it?”
“I heard it’s the President of Lebanon,” one man said.
“It’s the head of Italy,” said another.
“What kind of restaurant is that?” a woman asked pointing across the street.
Somebody said, “Italian”.
“It’s over-priced,” said another.
“We pay for it.” Was I the one who said that?
It made us all laugh.
(In fact, when I later walked over to check out the menu, I discovered that it was not an expensive restaurant at all; the entrees were moderately priced).
With too many unanswered questions, I walked over to one of the guys holding what might have been an AK-47 type weapon–he was sitting in the back of an SUV, with the back down. Actually pretty scary but I couldn’t resist.
“What’s going on?”
“I’m not in a position to answer you,” he said.
“But I gotta know; just tell me this, is it UN-related?” I can be very persuasive.
He nodded. Ahhhh…a second of satisfaction. I took a deep breath. Part of the mystery had been solved–bit was it?
I was on a roll and moments later I got the real scoop. I found someone willing to answer my question.
“What’s going on?” I asked again.
“It’s the President of Iraq. He’s eating dinner in there right now.”
Triple Ahhhhh…..My curiosity was sated, I could finally relax.
More New York City
When I was in New York City recently, shooting had begun on the Nanny Diaries, based on the book by the same name, and starring Scarlett Johansson, Laura Linney and Alicia Keys. I didn’t see any of the stars but I did get a shot of the fancy Bentley featured in the film—across the street I saw a stand-in for the movie nanny and a “little person”.
All the trappings of the movie industry were there—the tables covered with catered food and parked on the street, I was amused by trailers with hastily scrawled names on the doors including “Luci”, “Desi ” & “Single mom”.
When I was in New York City a few weeks ago I saw a crowd gathering in front of a hotel.
They looked friendly so I walked over to see what was happening.
“What’s up?” I asked a young woman.
She pointed to a shiny new black SUV that was double-parked. “We’re waiting for Tom Cruise to come out, ” she said.
Didn’t take long for me to learn that Tom Cruise’s latest thriller, Mission Impossible 3, was hitting the big screen that week and he was in the midst of a whirlwind promotional tour.
(In New York the locals see celebrities all the time. They make movies on the streets there everyday. But I had just flown in from El Granada– and when I open the front door “I see trees and a cat”. That’s how our big city friends in New York expressed it… )
Suddenly I was on another plane and the energy was over-powering. I wouldn’t pass as paparazzi but I had my little digital with me.
The role was new to me; I’d never taken a photo of a real “movie star” before. I was so caught up in the moment that I forgot something very important.
I was staying at the same hotel as Tom Cruise. Unlike the crowd standing on the sidewalk, I had a room at the Carlyle. Surely, I’d have a better chance of snapping a hot photo.
The lady standing beside said, “If you’re a guest at the hotel, why don’t you back in. They won’t let any of us in but they’ll you in.”
“Yes, that’s right; I am a guest”, I reminded myself—as I made a beeline for the lobby, pausing for a second to peer into the room where the elevators were. Except for security, and an efficient woman who looked like one of Tom Cruise’s people, there was nobody else in the room.
I edged in, testing the boundaries. “Can I come in this far?” I said, “I’m a guest at the hotel.”
Nothing happened. I guess it’s okay, I thought, but there was tension in the room. They were more worried about the famous Hollywood star.
I slithered in further, finally settling down on a bench in front of the elevators. I noticed that the numbers above the elevator furthest from me indicated that my man was heading down.
By that time I was so excited I couldn’t think clearly. For example, did I really believe Cruise would walk toward me when he exited the elevator? The SUV was waiting for him at the other entrance to the hotel.
I’m the only person with a camera here, I kept thinking. I’m gonna get a hot photo. (I’ll be selling my picture to the National Enquirer for $10,000).
My finger was glued to the button on the camera. I was poised; I was ready. And when the elevator door opened, I pressed the button—and the image I got was not of Tom Cruise but two people in front of him, part of his entourage.
Recovering quickly, I tried to snap another picture but the camera wasn’t responding. Finally, after Tom Cruise and his entourage left the elevator, and didn’t come any where near me, the camera’s flash went off, leaving me with a photo of the ceiling.
(The other picture I got shows a guy holding something that looks like a communication device—but later I wondered if it was. Could it have had something to do with my camera not working?)
I had lost my chance but I was still game, so I dashed out of the lobby and back onto the street where the crowd stood– just in time to see Tom Cruise wave goodbye from his shiny black SUV.
I was a bit drained when I dragged myself back into the lobby. But as soon as I saw the concierge, I said: “Are there any more celebrities in the hotel? Are any more coming?”
The elevator door opened and I snapped a picture of Tom Cruise’s people–the actor himself walked out seconds later.