Child Prodigy Lost His Way, Sold Out, Got Bent
CBS's 'How I Met Your Mother'
I totally missed this show during the 2005-2006 TV season. Sitcoms are rarely any damn good anymore. Maybe its just my current disposition, but this is a strangely addictive television programme (verily). I hate everyone on the show, make no mistake, but I can't seem to look away. Strike that; midget-lover Bob Saget narrates and Neil Patrick Harris is pretty hilarious as smarmy Barney Stinson. The star-crossed lovers stuff is fairly predictable, and the protagonist is the kind of guy you want to shove into traffic during rush hour.
I will probably TiVO it next season nonetheless, if only to get a little more Alyson Hannigan into my life and to see if Barney emerges as more than just a sidekick. For those who've skipped it (I don't blame you) - mix Vince Vaughn from 'Swingers' with that average-looking, slightly annoying swinger at work who gets by on his chuptzah - and you got Barney. "Haaaaave you met Ted?" The awful/brilliant wingman you look good next to by comparison. I'm glad to see him overcome the child-star label. I wonder what Wanda - Lisa Dean Ryan - has done lately... Hey, she was born in Ireland! She was an early crush. Vinny had a supporting role on the Sopranos.
"Doogie Likes to Air Dry?"
Funny story - I saw N.P.H. at the Equinox/Columbus Circle back when I was a member. I found myself changing at the same time as him for about two weeks, with a locker directly next to his no matter where I moved (yeah, exactly). This was around the time of 'Assassins' was in rehearsals and I'd heard some stories. When you feel like you're being followed by several sets of piercing eyes in the men's dressing room, it's good to keep your head down, change quickly and have a couple extra towels at all times.
Long story short, I did end up mistakenly catching a glimpse of "the 'Doog" - he's the type who walks to the scale sans covering. Not that I intentionally looked, believe me; I've peed at urinals next to Anthony Hopkins and Leonard Nimoy and kept my eyes on the prize, so I'm used to that sort of weird moment. But accidents happen.
On a completely unrelated note: I saw N.P.H. on Celebrity Poker Showdown lose to Mekhi Phifer. He gave it a good run, but he simply didn't have the cards to compete.
Let's see, who else did I encounter at Equinox from January 2004 to March 2005?
Through a colleague, I managed to secure an Equinox membership during the very first week they were issuing them; they had yet to schedule dump trucks for 10 Columbus Circle and AOL still had a bright future. We'd just begun the war with Iraq. I hadn't yet considered switching jobs. They were offering introductory memberships for $79/mo. for a year, which given the newness and high-profile nature of the place was reasonable, but required fewer Starbucks runs. I won't lie; I was intrigued by the preppy-fabulousness of it all. Isn't this why I left Jacksonville? The gym was designed to be their corporate flagship and it showed. Two colleagues joined thereafter with me as a reference, resulting in two things:
1. Netted me two free months of membership (thru 3/05) and two free 60-minute deep-tissue massages, which convinced me that true euphoria can be attained without the aid of alternative substances;
2. My sales rep, to whom I referred those colleagues, sought me out to tell me who was/had been in the gym that day, asking me to explain the structure of Lincoln Center and whether Jazz at Lincoln Center had teeth (I told him they absolutely did). I threw him some cultural references and (even at the time, public via the NYT) info about the LC renovation - which I heard him dutifully drop into casual conversation when I was around. I got free weeklong memberships for everybody I brought in there (15 people?), even friends from out-of-state. I felt somehow important and connected.
He invited me to a couple parties and I went to neither. One was at the launch party for a restaunrant at the Mandarin (I know, I was a fool - I think it was Asiate, and I've been back there with houseguests since, this story a nice anecdote and egg-on-face cautionary tale); the other at the Central Park West private residence of someone who referred something like 50 clients. Clearly these were bad decisions. My twisted thinking at the time was that they were duds, and he only told me to get bodies in the room. Also, my thoughts at the time were centered on one thing; an unhealthy, dead-end concept as it turns out - and that clouded everything. I heard that guy is currently in the Las Vegas hospitality business, so, you know, take those opportunities as they come. You never know who you might meet, and who might hook you up with a weekend of Texas Hold'Em in Vegas.
Several lessons learned - 1. Don't look at Neil Patrick Harris no matter how many times he coughs and clears his throat; 2. Go to the weird party with the shiny people if you have nothing better to do; and, 3. Always tell Elizabeth Berkeley you admire her body of work if presented with the opportunity.
Astoria is My Home: Pssst... Stop Patronizing Our Beer Garden
Recalling the circumstances of the Equinox experience brings me back to those first two years in NYC. I can admit now that I didn't really know what I was doing. I'm truly lucky everything worked out the way it did. My Manhattan-envy was strong at the time - not really knowing anybody in Astoria - and a couple times I very nearly scrapped the whole thing and tried to find roommates on Craigslist. Stupid idea. In most cases, I was just overreacting to the snobbery.
To wit: I went on a horrible pseudo-date back then with a lawyer-to-be who asked me if I was done with the Stairclimber by touching me on the arm and flaring her eyes. My confidence was at an all time high. Drinks after work at the sort of place someone has to show you to have any idea it exists. She all but but asked for the check when she found out what I did for a living, unimpressed with my pedigree and especially my Astoria address. "Yeah, I work in the performing arts... uhhh, no, not an actor... fundraising... one-bedroom in Astoria... Queens... yeah... yup, the Beer Garden... Never been? To Queens? At all? Ten years in the City? Wow..." I suggested a second drink, to her amazement, and tried to convince her. Came home that night and started looking on Craiglist. How lame, to let some snooty chick ruin my good vibes.
Worse was the temptation to head south to the "sanctioned" borough. I know most people my age covet the Brooklyn lifestyle, with its hipster enclaves, underground music scene, and... and... look, I'll be honest, I don't know crap about Brooklyn. I've been there, sure, but it's a big, spread-out borough and I could really care less about it. I don't look down on anyone for choosing to live wherever the hell he/she wants to. If you can find affordable rent (by whatever standards you choose) in a neighborhood that brings you joy, God bless ya. The attitude of many Manhattanites and Brooklynites I've met, though, is that the very notion of living in Queens is somehow deplorable, lowly and beneath them. "Ohhh, you live in Astooooria... is it temporary?"
Give me a break. I think every neighborhood in the greater metropolitan area pales in comparison to mine. We all feel this way, no matter where you live. Or you don't and you move. When you find where you want to be, you own your neighborhood and want to protect it and defend it. It's the New York experience.
Happy August. Long live Elvis.