Archive for March, 2010

YOU’RE AT THE THEATRE, NOT YOUR LIVING ROOM – BROADWAY ETIQUETTE – PART IV….

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

*  If you’d like the sun to come out tomorrow for you and yours, take special pains to make sure your six-year-old
utters not one word from that song from that show.

* Even the intellectually challenged among us can figure out the difference between a Broadway theatre lobby and Macy’s Cellar.  Do you really need souvenirs?  Is this a class trip?  Your life will proceed just as nicely without that “Phantom” sweatshirt or coffee mug.  The average Malawian earns $596 per year and if he weren’t so busy, you know, starving to death, even he would mock you for
spending $25 on a “Jersey Boys” program.


*  When you were young, you had dreams
of being a Broadway gypsy?  Well, now you’re old and wear support-hose knee-
highs and rubber hands around your wrists for no goddamned reason.  Shhhh!

BEHAVE YOURSELF AT THE THEATRE – PART 3. YOU NEED IT.

Friday, March 26th, 2010


Manners matter.
Manners matter when you go to a Broadway show.  Manners matter when you go to a Broadway show and I am at the same Broadway show.  Hopefully, you have taken notes from the first two important installments and now have pen and paper ready.  When you behave yourself, you make other people happy…


*  You’re not as interesting as you think you are,
particularly to anyone sitting within earshot of you.  Don’t reminisce out loud.  The only person interested in knowing that the last time you saw a Broadway show you could ride the subway for a quarter is dead by now.  And
you probably killed him with all your boring stories.

*  Let us once and for all understand
the concept of the verb “to need.”  You need to pay your rent or mortgage.  You need to put gas in your car if you expect it to run.  You need to drink water to survive.  No one, with perhaps the exception of a heroin addict, (and even he is smart enough to save all his money for heroin), needs a seven-dollar Hershey bar.  Why are you eating during intermission?  Didn’t you just have your pre-theatre dinner?  More to the point, why aren’t you embarrassed to be holding a giant box of Sno-Caps?

* You’re at a play – not standing in the front of a lecture hall, or on the steps of a double-decker bus with a microphone in your hand – therefore, you should not be explaining anything to anyone.   And you – yes, you with all the questions – stop!  Now!  If you don’t understand that “Les Miserables” is set during the Paris uprisings of the early 19th century and not during the French Revolution and keep asking your date, “I don’t get it – where’s Marie Antoinette?”, then perhaps you are also unfamiliar with the fact that the Guillotine was primarily created for people who ask asinine questions at the theatre.

BROADWAY ETIQUETTE. PART 2 OF MANY….

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Where should you behave yourself?  Everywhere.  But especially if you’re sitting anywhere near me at the theatre…

*  Here’s the skinny – CATS closed years ago. Therefore the drinking of Scotch and water out of a plastic tumbler during intermission is now inexcusable.  What’s that? Oh…you’re right.  “Mamma Mia!” is still running.  Pass the Dewar’s.

*Your three-year-old daughter Isabella does not have to see“Peer Gynt.”  Really. It won’t help her get into Yale.  Or Pre-K.  What it will do is invite complete strangers, i.e., me, to want to do terrible things to you and your child. If perhaps you spent as much time teaching her that she’s not the center of the universe as you do stocking up on Baby Einstein DVDs and pre-computer computers, the world
would most certainly be a less irritating place.  Forget about saving the planet or making it “greener” –I’d gladly settle for your kid not kicking the back of my chair because you thought his first theatre experience should be “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.”

If you dare take your small child to a play he won’t understand because you are convinced he will, or because you think the
experience will be “broadening,” clearly your parents didn’t hit you enough when you were small.  Don’t make the same mistake with your children or they will be disturbing some unwitting theatre patron 30 years from now by lugging your assuredly overly-indulged grandchildren to “Eugene Onegin.”

But allow me to give you the benefit of the doubt.  Maybe you don’t know whether a play is or isn’t appropriate for your young child.  Ask yourself the following:

a)    are all musical numbers performed by actors dressed as animals, orphans or inanimate objects?

b)    do they serve punch and cookies in the lobby?

c)  would most of the audience fit comfortably into booster seats?

If you cannot nod “yes” to at least two out of three of these, surely you can find another activity to share with little Ethan or Charlotte or Hannah.  Stay home and bake a brioche together.  Help your kid study for the pre-pre-pre-SATs.  Or stick him in front of the television and
put on “Nickelodeon” like you usually do when no one else is watching.  It’s okay.  I won’t tell.

BROADWAY ETIQUETTE — YES, THERE ARE RULES. PART I…

Friday, March 19th, 2010

New York.  The definitive city for style, food, fashion and, of course, theatre.  Be it a musical revival,  a classical play, a Mel Brooks comedy or Shakespearean tragedy, there’s only one Broadway.  And, whether you’re a native New Yorker or visit our theatres from the tri-state area, from across the country or across the pond, it’s crucial to remember the importance of rules.  Though I possess the good manners to not ask, “Where do you think you are – your living room?”, trust me, I’m thinking it, as is everyone else in your vicinity. Whatever your particular transgression, lack of thought or consideration might be, from this point forward, you shall have no more excuses.  So get your damn foot off my arm-est and take note…


*  Study your theatre ticket
.  Closely.  Does it state  anywhere, perhaps in the finest of print that other well-heeled, better-dressed patrons may have missed, “keg party” or “luau” or “B.Y.O.B.”?  You are going to the theatre.  I implore you – dress appropriately.  “Casual Fridays” is, at best, a bad option at work during the summer months.  Do not bring this ill-conceived concept into my town and
especially not into our theatres.  Stained khaki Dockers are still stained and Dockers, a double-negative if ever there were one.  Be considerate.  Don’t be an eyesore.  I  Just paid $125 for an orchestra seat – I want to look at your Harley T and stretch denims about as much as I want to see James Gandolfini in a Speedo.  And please remember that “informal” is but one way to err here.  I’m sorry you only got one wear out of that aquamarine sparkly halter prom gown.  Sequins, beading and chiffon are frightful enough to look at on a mother-of-the-bride – don’t subject me to it in the rear mezzanine of the Helen Hayes Theatre.

* Don’t ever use “Avenue Q” and “theatrical experience” in the same sentence.  Ever.

* Don’t pretend to be so engrossed
in your Playbill that you’re oblivious to the fact that I’m trying to get to my seat and, much as I’d like to accommodate you, it’s simply not possible to vault over your Yao Ming-like legs.  I know that you see me.  You know that you see me.  And though nothing would make me happier – truly – than stepping on your Bally loafers or Manolo peep-toes, or tripping over
them and directly onto your date’s lap, it’ simply not practical.  I could tear a ligament or tendon, though whata small price to pay to stop you from reading “Who’s Who in the Cast?” as though you were cramming for your MCATs…

…MORE WHEN YOU DESERVE IT….

THE SEVEN HABITS OF ANNOYING NEW YORKERS – #7…FOR NOW…

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

DOCTOR-BOASTING

My doctor has just retired and I’m afraid to tell you because you will then be dying to tell me something I  already know – you have the best doctor in town.I don’t know why you believe this to be true, but you do.  Perhaps it is because you are so very special that no one other than the best doctor in town would treat you.  In fact, he probably sought you out. But here’s the funny thing – everyone in New York has the same doctor, logistically and practically impossible, or – everyone can’t have the best doctor. So, despite your facts, figures, and war stories, I just don’t believe you, and here are just some of the reasons I am dubious….

1)  Human beings are, by nature, selfish creatures when not in life-threatening situations.

Yes, if there’s an avalanche or flood, people can be pretty nice.  Other than that, “sharing” is a behavior that more or less goes out the door by middle school.   You’re not giving me your stock tips or your place in line at the supermarket.  You don’t pass your feedbag-size tub of popcorn down to me at the movies or hand over the “Arts” section of your New York Times when I’m seated next to you on the “F” train.  Why would I believe you’d want to share the “best” doctor with me?  What makes more sense is that you are sharing the name of a perfectly average-okay-probably-went-to-med-school-in-Puerta-Vallarta-but-leaves-that-off-his-C.V. doctor.  You very well may have the best doctor in town, but you’d sooner give up one of your kidneys than his name to me.

2)  You don’t seem to have the “best” of anything else.

Okay, there’s a slight chance that this is the one “best” thing you have, but detectives and scientists do well by examining patterns and,
judging by your 1998 Kia Sedona and Applebee’s Visa card, I’m going out on a limb here and guessingI’d do better by picking an M.D. from the “Physicians” section of the Yellow Pages while wearing a Pin-The-Tail-On-The-Donkey blindfold.

3)     I want to believe you, but I question your sincerity.

Why are you trying to help me?  I’ve never really done anything for you.  If makes me think that you’re getting something out of recommending your gastroenterologist to me.  Maybe he’s shaving ten percent off your bill, or throwing in a free colonoscopy for every ten patients you send his way.

4)     I think it’s all a ruse.

It’s all a ploy to give you and your doctor something to talk about – namely me.  I imagine it goes something like this:

YOU:  I recommended you to Sandy Friedman.
YOUR DOCTOR:  Yes.  She’s a rather heavyset woman and her LDL is a tad on the high side.
YOU:  She’s my age.
YOUR DOCTOR:  No way!
YOU:  Way.  Actually, (whispering), I’m a year older.
YOUR DOCTOR:  She has age spots on her hands.
YOU:  She tells everyone that they’re freckles.
YOUR DOCTOR:  She asked me to take her insurance, but I told her, “payment is expected when services are
rendered.”
YOU:  Good for you!  She still owes me $20 from lunch
last April.

5)I’m less impressed than you think.

The best otolaryngologist?  I’d much prefer the best cheesecake.

6) It’s too much pressure.

I just want a doctor.  I don’t want to explain to the office secretary how my expectations were raised pre-maturely and unnecessarily.  And even if he is the “best” doctor, what if the consensus  around the office is that you’re not exactly the “best” patient?  So I walk into the office and say, “Hi – I’m here to see Dr. Stevens.  I’m a friend of Jane Mulligan’s,” and watch the entire office staff stick their respective
fingers down their respective throats.  Thanks for the recommendation.

#6 OF THE SEVEN HABITS OF HIGHLY ANNOYING NEW YORKERS

Saturday, March 6th, 2010

Ah, if there were only seven….

PERFUME-BASTING

I know.  It’s a billion-dollar industry, and it’s a tempting purchase because, after all, it usually comes with a free overnight bag, guest soaps or scented candles – all items you either have none of and/or would find life rather unfulfilling to live without.  So, I understand, as I do
your innate need to smell like a rain forest, fruit salad or a dozen long-stemmed roses.  Further, I promise not to make fun of you, (to your face), just because you really believe that your perfume or cologne will communicate to the world that you are “playful,” “adventurous,” “flirty,” or “virile.”  But this is a quid pro quo offer.  You need to stop soaking yourself in the stuff before a date, before a night on the town, before a day at the office.  Perfume does not make you sexy, ladies.  Looking like Angelina Jolie makes you sexy.  And fellas, cologne is not a babe-magnet.  Donald Trump gets to keep marrying Eastern European models because he smells like hundred dollar bills, so until they start bottling those, give up the illusion.  You want women to think you’re virile?  Stop wearing stuff called “Joop!” and “Eternity for Men by Calvin Klein.”  If you feel like you must bathe in something, especially if you are leaving the privacy of your own space and invading mine, please make it bath water, not Shalimar.  Or shower daily.  Use soap. Wash those areas that most need washing.  That should do it.  I’d really like to not have to flee a subway car, restaurant banquette or cocktail party for fear of a migraine from your eau de stink-water

ANOTHER OF THE SEVEN HABITS OF HIGHLY ANNOYING NEW YORKERS — #4, BUT WHO’S COUNTING?

Monday, March 1st, 2010

LITERARY PREENING

I see you on the bus with your magazine.  If the magazine were sitting on your lap, I wouldn’t know what you were reading. Could be a Harry and David catalogue, could be French Vogue.  But that’s not part of your game plan.  You’re holding the publication up like one grips a steering wheel during a road test, in classic three o’clock/nine o’clock position so that every passenger and even the bus driver, through his rear-view mirror, can see that you’re reading The New Yorker.   “Wow!, you’re hoping we’re thinking, “she must be really intelligent and sophisticated and erudite.”  But we’re not, though we are impressed that you have the stamina and attention span to get through the “Talk of the Town” column without nodding out like an o.d.ing junkie.  And I for one am hoping the bus stops short so the steaming latte I’m drinking splatters onto your lap, searing through your Eileen Fisher wool crepe skirt, scarring your thigh for life.

I’ve had my eye on you since East 48th Street, when you pulled that magazine out of your PBS tote bag, a tote bag you carry logo-side out so that everyone knows you not only pledged at least $75 to Channel 13, but made good on your pledge.  What else do you have in that tote bag?  Let me go out on a limb and guess there’s a bag of raw almonds, a liter of spring water and maybe some of that revolting Japanese snack mix of sesame sticks, wasabe dried green peas and nori-wrapped rice crackers.  And of course, you intellectual, you – there’s other reading matter to pull rom that tote bag like an arrow from its quiver just in case some other passenger also pulls out the current issue
of The New Yorker, thereby forcing you to up the ante. Perhaps you’ll “sweeten the pot” with a volume of Anne Sexton poems or John Cheever short stories.  Maybe a Cynthia Ozick novel or Pushkin novella.   But I know like you know that the Sue Grafton and Nicholas Sparks books are at home, on your night-table.  Next to the Snickers bar and Taco Bell Gordita wrappers.  And empty Diet Coke can.