Archive for the ‘NEW YORK’ Tag

CHRISTMAS IN NEW YORK PART 1   Leave a comment


I have lost my diaries from the mid 1970s so most of this is from memory and a few things may be wrong but one thing I am certain of is that it was the most perfect ten days of my life.

It started off as a disaster because I knew that since the personal relationship with Bernie was over the business relationship was going to sink also and I didn’t know what I was going to do. I needed to get away and I wanted to run back to where I had escaped from just 5 years before. As Bernie would remind me I left Manhattan with very little and was now a big fish in a small pond.

I had money now so I booked a first class ticket to New York city and booked a room at the Plaza, across from Central Park and facing 5th avenue, both of which were hard to get two days before Christmas Eve. I checked into the hotel, unpacked and decided before I called anyone or did anything I would go down to the Oak bar and restaurant and have a drink. I know what follows sounds like a Hollywood movie script but it did happen. We met ‘cute’.

Sitting at the bar drinking my Haig and Haig Pinch on the rocks a guy sat on the stool next to me and ordered a Haig and Haig Pinch on the rocks. I wouldn’t have stopped myself even if I could but I told the bartender to put it on my tab and the guy and I started to talk. This may sound crazy but I can remember some very intimate details but I have no recollection of his name! Not for any particular reason let’s call him Herb.

Herb and I talked for awhile his telling me he was here for 2 weeks from the mid-west and it was his first trip to New York. I told I had been born and raised here but was now living in Memphis and had lived in Miami Beach during the late 1950s, early 1960s, returned to New York in the 60s and left in 1969. I believe he worked in the automobile industry if I remember correctly. I offered to show him around the city and he thought that would be great.

We decided to have dinner in the Oak Room and afterwards I suggested we take a walk to, what I remember was called the Hampshire Bar on 57th Street down the block from the Plaza. It was known for the recreation of a NorthEastern Storm with all the lighting and noise effects with lightning, snow, rain, thunder, etc., every hour on the hour, on the wall behind the bar. Herb was delighted.

We walked back to the hotel and made plans to get together for a late breakfast and then I would take him sightseeing. Without going into details–that’s another post!–we spent the night together and the next day he checked out of his room and stayed in mine.
(To be continued)

Posted December 21, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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‘COMING OUT’ AT THE AGE OF 12 IN 1948–BRAVE OR STUPID?   Leave a comment

 

‘COMING OUT’ AT 12 IN 1948–BRAVE OR STUPID?

 

“Wow, you came out in the 40’s. You must be a very brave and self-confident person.
I do know that would of been mostly unheard of. Though I think you must of had a better life than those who didn’t come out, in that you led an authentic life. I know you must of suffered in other ways though. I don’t know many people who would of been that brave.”

I received the above email from a new friend and it immediately set off a chain of thoughts. I have written about my coming out and teen years in my books “The Free Prisoner” and “Letting It All Hang Out” and as years go by—66 years now–I see those days as if it was happening today.

Brave? Or stupid? At 12-13 I really think it was stupid as I didn’t have to come out. I wasn’t ’effeminate’ or ’acted gay’ and I was a good looking kid and girls started to be ’interested’ in me and I know that was the road to deceit–and I did go down that road a couple of times which a few years later I was ashamed of doing and said ’never again’. In many ways that experience helped me understand why a gay man married and had a family–it was (and still is–sadly) a good way to hide.

Heck I wasn’t about to be bullied for either being a Jew (I lived in an Italian Catholic neighborhood—got to celebrate all the holidays!!) or being gay–luckily I lived in New York and was able to step by step discover the gay life in Manhattan and was mentored by many–and to gays today just want you to know we had a very gay life in the 40s and 50s though it was more secret (and in some ways more fun)–I learned in my teens to stand up for myself or my life would be Hell and I had enough problems at home (nothing to do with being gay) that I didn’t want them outside of home.

I did become an activist in my teens in many little ways until I reached 16, ‘divorced’ my family, went to live on my own, get a job, rent a room, pay bills and finish school but at the age of 20—1956–I really started to be active in the very small gay movement back then–never regretted it!

Brave? Possibly. Stupid? Definitely. Regretful? NOT AT ALL!

 

Posted January 20, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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To me the Nativity scene, Santa Claus, the Rockettes, St. Patrick’s cathedral, Carols, Jingle Bells, snow, cold weather, horse and carriage rides in Central Park, the skating rinks in Rockefeller Center and Central Park, decorated store windows, hot chestnuts, etc., just to name a few things–ALL make up Christmas.

        

It’s 79 degrees outside but I can walk into a South Florida mall and see a Christmas tree, a kid sitting on Santa’s lap, watch another kid throw a fake snowball, hear “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” on the loudspeaker and it is Christmas for me!!!

       

Now my Christmas may not acknowledge Christ or any religious aspect that a Christian may but I feel as warm, as moved, surrounded by cheers of “Merry Christmas” or seeing pins on women’s clothes of lit up Santa Clauses as anyone can. I look around and I think of “Peace on earth, good will to men” whether it is looking at a Christmas wreath or a Hanuka bush.

       

   

I was 16 and saw myself as a sophisticated man of the world with my cashmere leather trimmed, falling just below the knee, overcoat, leather gloves, brown fur earmuffs and a cashmere scarf thrown around my neck in cavalier fashion about to take my first horse and carriage ride through Central Park with someone I had just met in the Oak Room of the Plaza hotel. I can tell you every inch of that ride and the beauty of being in the park in the middle of Manhattan surrounded by towering buildings sparkling like many colored jewels on  a dark, snowy night three days before Christmas but I couldn’t tell you a thing about the person I was with.

        

      

       

I started this series off by saying I probably will never experience another Christmas season in New York but my memories of such magical times in my life will be with me forever. Whether I hear a choir singing carols or “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” or “All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth” heard on the speakers in a mall or see and/or smell holly, mistletoe, a pine tree or a nativity scene or a menorah or Santa Claus or watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” an unforgettable time will come rushing to me.

     

 It is never too early for

“Peace on earth and good will towards men”

I hope that each of you who have never experienced the magic, the wonder, the awe, the excitement, the meaning of the holiday, get at least one chance to have Christmas in New York City.

Posted December 24, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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A JEW LOOKS AT CHRISTMAS PART 2   Leave a comment

 

     

The last time I was in New York City was in September 1985 and the last time I lived in New York City was 1969. I don’t see myself ever going back but there are certain times, certain memories I have of life in the city that will never go away and they all revolve around Christmas time, the week before, the day of and the week after. No where in any city of the world is there the combination of magic in New York City especially if there are snow flurries or, maybe, an inch of snow blanketing the city and turning the lights into diamonds in the evening.

  

I still feel the cold nipping at my ears, my nose being red and my being on my butt more than on my feet, not to mention my mittens NOT keeping my hands warm but the wonder of ice skating in the Rockefeller Center, in the middle of Manhattan, under the glow and warmth of one of the tallest decorated Christmas (not holiday!!) trees standing in the shadow of one of New York’s most impressive buildings not to forget on the opposite side rows and rows of uncountable poinsettia plants. You are surrounded by people looking down at you from atop the perimeter of the rink plus all the people eating and drinking inside the restaurant that the rink is in the middle of and which you can’t wait to get a table, have a hot chocolate and look at the skaters falling on their butts and/or those gracefully doing spin after spin and all enjoying themselves as much as you did.

      

There is the afternoon you wait on line with thousands of other people to get into the cavernous and awe inspiring Radio City Music Hall where you not only saw a movie like Doris Day in “I’ll See You In My Dreams” but an even more awe inspiring stage show where there is the Christmas pageant featuring live camels, the Wise Men, a live reenactment of the Nativity that doesn’t fail to affect people of all religions or none at all. That is then followed by the amazing Rockettes who go from being wooden play soldiers to rocking to Jingle Bells and, of course, a visit from Santa Claus.

      

 

There is so much to do so what do you do next? Maybe buy a bag of roasted chestnuts and walk along Fifth Avenue looking in the store windows all decorated with to die for fashions and jewels? Oh, I know, I remember, walk down to Herald Square (I was able to walk in those days) where Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s try to outdo each other with season decorations and you relive “The Miracle on 34th Street” or wait, wouldn’t it be better to walk along Lexington and Madison avenues where you can buy flowers from outside stalls and look at the Christmas trees for sale while the cold goes through you and you stop for another hot chocolate? Hey we can go to the New Hampshire bar on 57th Street and watch a ‘Northeasterner’ recreated behind the bar and stop by Carnegie Hall and see what/who is playing.

     

It’s early evening and it is still light enough to walk in Central Park where the snow covers the din of the city and makes everything feel pure, soft and, yes, Christmas like. It’s magic time in a city that at times can be cruel, unfeeling and devoid of magic but for two weeks in late December it is as if Tinkerbell cast her spell and fairy dust over the city and its people. It is two weeks that EVERYONE should experience at least once in their lifetime and I was lucky to experience it many times as I reached adult hood.

Don’t even get me started about experiencing falling in love for the first time during Christmas in New York—oh, get me started–let’s talk about going to the Plaza for a drink, having dinner in the middle of Central Park, taking a carriage ride–let’s talk about it in Part 3.

Posted December 23, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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IS THIS REALLY HOW THE WORLD SEES THE USA?   Leave a comment

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I sent this out this afternoon to my personal e-mail list and I received the following response from Peter who use to post here
 
 
 
This is fairly long but a great salute to New Yorkers and what needs to done and what has been done.
 

http://janefonda.com/category/my-blog

Look for “Letters from ground zero IV”

(PLEASE READ THE ABOVE FIRST!)

 

I will send Peter any commnets you would like to make to him.

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Don’t USA Americans realise how totally ridiculous they look to the rest of the world? Whole cities and their infrastructure have been, and are being totally destroyed throughout the Middle East by American bombs. Governments have been overthrown and vile civil wars ensued because of USA meddling, murdering and sending in CIA assassination squads. Hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians have been and are being killed by USA drones and bombs and worse. Citizens of some cities have been without water, sewerage, electricity for years thanks to USA petroleum wars… and yet these people survive without complaining. The hurricanes and floods in Queensland were much worse than the recent storm in the USA, but we cleaned up in a few weeks and got on with our lives – Americans still haven’t cleaned up after Katrina! They’re still moaning. The whole world had to know about ‘Sandy’ as if because there was a bit of a flood in mighty USA the universewasaboutto collapse. No one here can believe that after a week there are still thousands without electricity, that you guys can’t get your arses into gear and fix anything! It really is pathetic to watch the most militarily powerful country, weeping and wailing because something a little bit bad has happened to them. Have they even completed the Twin towers replacement after eleven years? No wonder USA society and economy is on the brink of total collapse. All you guys know how to do is go to war and kill everyone who doesn’t do as you want them to. 

You can post this if you want. 

🙂 P.

Posted November 5, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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7 DECADES SERIES NEW YORK THEATRE PART 17 B   Leave a comment

As many others who travel to New York I saw a lot of other shows besides “A Chorus Line” and looking at my comments brings back a lot of memories and a few smiles.

The special performance of “A Chorus Line” took place the evening after I arrived in New York. The first show I saw was Harvey Fierstein’s “Torch Song Trilogy”. He had left the show by then and a favorite actor of mine, Jonathan Hadary, was in the role of Arnold.

“September 27, Tuesday, 1983–Went to see “Torch Song Trilogy”–LOVED it–cried a lot–laughed a lot–former with Arnold’s pain and hurt–his breakup with Ed–his interplay with his mother–Sue picked us up in a limo. “

“September 28, Wednesday–Chuck and I went to see “Dreamgirls”–Buddy was one of the very few white faces in the show–“And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” as the first act curtain song blew me away–WOW! That evening Bob and I went to see “A Chorus Line”–none of it’s power has diminished”

I’ve already did the post of THE great “A Chorus Line” performance and went to see it the following evening again and the euphoria made me see it through the eyes of the previous day’s performance.

“October 1, Saturday, 1983  Bill, Chuck, Tommy and I went to see the first matinee performance of “La Cage Aux Folles”–the first act curtain song sung by George Hearn, “I Am What I Am” was as shattering as the “Dreamgirls” “And I Am Telling You I Am Not Going”

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“September 18, Wednesday 1985–arrived in city and went to see “As Is” starring Jonathan Hardary–first AIDS play on Broadway–touching especially brother’s scene (A movie was eventually made starring Hardary and Robert Carradine which I bought on tape and I believe is available on DVD–it is certainly worth seeing as it is very true to the stage play)–that evening I saw Lily Tomlin in “In Search of Intelligent Life in the Universe” and she was a knock out!”

“September 20, Friday  1985–Kingsbery came in and he went to see “A Chorus Line” while I went to see Bernadette Peters in “Song and Dance”–she was the Song part and Christopher d’Ambroise was the Dance–it had officially opened two nights before–the show was really not entertaining but Peters sparkled”

“September 21, Saturday  1985–Bob and I went to see “A Chorus Line”–still the best”

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“September 22, Thursday  1988  Eleanor, Andy and I went to see “A Chorus Line” –it was good but maybe I was tired–don’t know–didn’t have the usual ‘chills and thrills’

“September 23, Friday–Andy and I went to see a revue at the Actor’s Playhouse in the Village called “10%”–cute but I don’t think anyone will remember it 10 weeks from today–and, yes, if the title didn’t tell you, it was a revue about gays”

“September 24, Saturday–went to see “A Chorus Line”–much better tonight– reminded me why I fell in love with it the first time–(Though I didn’t know it at the time it would be the last show I would ever see on Broadway)”

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It is unexplainable but there is something about seeing a show in New York that gives you a feeling you don’t get anywhere else. It is something that everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime like going to Rockefeller Center Christmas week–it can never, will never, be duplicated anywhere else.

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Posted October 31, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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7 DECADES SERIES “A CHORUS LINE” PART 17 A   Leave a comment

September 28 Wednesday 1983 Arrived in New York and that evening Kingsbery, Bill and I went to see “A Chorus Line”.

September 29 Thursday 1983 Kingsbery and I went to the performance of “A Chorus Line” becoming the longest running show on Broadway -unbelievable

September 30 Friday 1983 Kingsbery, John Connolly, Tommy, Chuck, Bill and I went to see “A Chorus Line”.

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September 20 Friday 1985 Kingsbery and I went to see “A Chorus Line”.

September 21 Saturday 1985 Kingsbery and I went to matinee of “A Chorus Line” and in the evening Kathy, Margie, Kingsbery, Buddy Vest and I went to see “A Chorus Line”.

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September 22 Thursday 1988 Arrived in city–Eleanor, Andy and I went to see “A Chorus Line”

September 24 Saturday 1988 Spent afternoon at Feast of St. Gennero with Andy then I went to see “A Chorus Line”; in the evening

September 25 Sunday 1988 Went to a matinee of “A Chorus Line”–the last time I would see it in New York and the last time I was in New York.

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I had 2 more opportunities to see “A Chorus Line” in New York with the first being the closing of its run after 15 years in April, 1990, and next when the first revival opened up on October 5, 2006, when Gene said she could get me a ticket. Aside from not being able to afford the trip to either I, also, knew that nothing would ever surpass that performance of September 29, 1983. I could handle seeing it in other venues but felt no need to return to the Big Apple. My last impression of the city, in 1988, was that it is filled with gray buildings and gray people. Times Square and the surrounding areas had really turned dirty, sleazy and, to a certain extent, scary, though I never felt unsafe in the city I was born in.

Something else that shocked me were the prices of things, especially at restaurants, such as an ordinary Chef’s Salad was $25 at Tavern on the Green and a half a dozen oysters at the Oak Plaza was $15. Where I had paid $7.50 for a ticket to see “A Chorus Line” in 1976 they were $51 in 1988. (Now in 2012 they would probably be $140 each!) I did get to see the touring company of the revival at the Broward Performing Arts Center February 17 and 19, 2009. I said goodbye to the Big Apple and I know I won’t ever be going back.

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I saw many other shows those 3 Autumns I was in New York and I have seen thousands of musicals, dramas and comedies on stage (including 101 productions of “A Chorus Line”) but that performance on September 29, 1983, was the greatest I have ever seen on stage. Over the years, especially in the 40s to the 60s, I have seen the best actors and shows that have become legend but nothing will ever come close to that performance. I have written about it many times but here are some notes from my diary of that week.

Wednesday September 28, 1983 Chuck and I went to see “Dreamgirls”which Buddy Vest is in and later, not knowing if he could, Buddy told Kingsbery he got 2 tickets!! We are going to the show tomorrow. Bob and I ran out and rented tuxes for $85 each and before I knew it we were walking into the Shubert Theatre and sitting in row S, seats 17 and 19 in the rear orchestra which turned out to be a dividend! The show was unbelievable!! 6 Cassies, 10 Pauls, “Nothing” sung by the Japanese cast, over 400, including Buddy, on the stage for the finale. How Michael Bennett in one week redid the whole show using the original and current Broadway cast plus the National touring company and the Japanese cast had the whole audience shouting an d applauding. Then there was a bonus when Joseph Papp, the producer, and Bennett came out to take bows the former asked if we would mind staying as NBC wanted to film the finale for television. He couldn’t have gotten us out if he wanted us to leave.

Waiting for everything to get set up the cast filled the aisles and next to our seats were a couple of the Pauls and Vals. We started talking to them, asking how they made such a quick change at the end and one of the Pauls showed us how they were Velcro in the back which made the change fast as it was needed. I WAS TALKING TO PAUL!!!! The actor(s) that brought me to tears every time he did his monologue, there was a Val who would say to the audience, “You’re looking at my tits now, aren’t you?” and cracking everyone up. And then the music started up for the finale and from the downbeat until the end the noise from us watching them was deafening. I know they had to mute it down somehow for the taping, which I had set my VCR up before I left, as it was announced they would be doing a salute to “A Chorus Line” that night and it was perfect.

I walked out of the Shubert unable to talk as my throat was aching from shouting “Bravo!” and it would be a couple of days before by hands were unswollen from all the applauding I did. It is now 29 years later and I have seen a lot of shows since then but though I may have been moved, and enjoyed, by other shows there will never be an equal to that one singular performance, not even the first time I saw it sitting in the mezzanine of the Shubert Theatre 7 years before.

http://www.achorusline.org/ for more about the show and the people in it.

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Posted October 30, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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7 DECADES THE BIG APPLE MARCHI’S 16A   Leave a comment

 

Sept. 28-Oct. 3, 1983               Sept. 17-23, 1985                Sept. 22-27, 1988

What do all these dates have in common?

1) They were spent in New York.

2) Had dinner at Marchi’s, my most favorite restaurant ever!

3) Attended the San Genarro’s festival in Little Italy.

4) Saw “A Chorus Line”.

I have been going to Marchi’s for over 50 years and the place continues to amaze me. They claim to serve only 5 courses but don’t believe them! Anytime I returned  to NYC after I left in 1969 I would have dinner one evening at Marchi’s. The restaurant is an all night affair so there is no sense in planning to go to the theatre. Each time I visited New York with someone, or I was meeting someone there or connecting with an old friend, time was made for Marchi’s.  I could take 6 posts to talk about the place but go to http://www.marchirestaurant.com/ if for nothing else to see the menu.

Briefly, Marchi’s was opened in the 1930s in a town house on a tree lined East 31st Street. They have no menu as the meal is already made up and you have no decisions to make. Below is ‘phamphlet’ that I have had for 40 years and little has changed since then except the price has gone up and, from what I could tell on the web site, they have expanded the patio dining area.

The following are just some notes I made over the years in my diary about these 3 trips in particular.

September 29, 1983  A most memorable day for me but more about that later. The dinner at Marchi’s lived up to all the praise I had been telling the guys about. There was Tommy, Chuck, Bill, Bob, John and myself. Also joining us was Sue (one of my past 100 pound losers) who brought her friend Michael, very young, and Sylvia Miles, the actress who had appeared in “Midnight Cowboy” and “Farewell My Lovely” receiving supporting role Oscar nominations  for both. Sylvia brought a friend of hers whose I never did get. She seemed very disoriented during the first hour but then started to tell us ‘amusing’ behind the Hollywood and Broadway scenes which dissipated the disappointed feeling I had meeting her. She and her escort left, neither offering to pay their share, though I did pick up the whole check. Sue took a cab to friend’s bar called The Polo bar where we would meet her as we had decided to walk the 21 blocks to get there.

September 19, 1985  Buddy Vest and I went down to the World Trade Center then walked over to the Seaport finally going for dinner at Marchi’s. It was due to Buddy playing the role of Zach in “A Chorus Line” on tour that made it possible for him to get Dr. K and me tickets to that show 2 years before whe Michael Bennett celebrated “ACL” became the longest running musical on Broadway. At that time he was, also, appearing in “Dreamgirls” and got us house seats. There was no way I could ever repay Buddy for that performance of “ACL” but I certainly tried every time I saw him! Now, 2 years later, in 1985, he was talking about giving up the theatre. He had quit the “ACL” tour in St. Louis because of a guy he fell in love with.  Buddy had come to my twelfth Leap Year birthday in 1984 and the following year he had AIDS. Sadly he died but he will never be forgotten!

September 26, 1988  I am meeting George Chauncey, Jr., who was writing a book about gay life in New York starting in the 19th century up to the current day, at Marchi’s. He had done a few interviews with me and I had sent him some material. (He would use my material and quote me here and there in the book. For the record I always recommend the book to young teenagers as it tells a lot about gay history that they should know.) I brought along Robert Lee and it upset George. I don’t know why but my ego tells me it was because he had other plans for us. At one point he remembered that he had to go meet his lover and left! Never heard from or saw him again and even though my name is referenced through the book I had to buy my own copy when it was finally published. From what I have read he has had a very good career in education and I believe, not sure, that he introduced a course in gay history at the University of Chicago where he was a professor for a long time. He nowteaches in New York. Wonder if he still is with his lover–will have to google him to find out. I believe Robert Lee was in “M. Butterfly” on Broadway. I haven’t heard from him since but I do have an autographed picture he gave me the day after the Marchi’s dinner.

If I ever go back to New York, which I doubt, I would definitely go to Marchi’s and I suggest anyone who does travel to the Big Apple plan to spend an evening at this great restaurant. When you get a chance check out their menu at http://www.marchirestaurant.com  Out of curiosity I emailed them asking what they are charging for their dinner these days–back in 1988 it was, if I remember correctly, $30 each.

 

(TO BE CONTINUED–NEXT SAN GENNARO’S FESTIVAL AND MORE)

Posted October 3, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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7 DECADES ADVENTURES/DISCOVERIES CALLED LIFE PART 4D   Leave a comment

     

It was my first night of work at The Brass Rail, which was on the corner of 49th Street and 7th Avenue just north of the Palace Theatre, and the manager called a waiter over, told him to train me and then introduced me to Ronnie. We immediately hit it off and it was only an hour later that he told the manager that I was ready to have my own station though I wasn’t quite sure of the menu, that I handled the front of the house as the pro I obviously was. I’m not exactly sure of the date I started there but it was probably right after the World’s Fair which would make it 1965. Over the next 4 years Ronnie and I were like brothers doing everything together except having sex. We got drunk, ate out in the best restaurants in New York, went cruising up to a point at which we would separate.

After work a group of us servers would go around the corner to a Chinese restaurant, have a few drinks and some appetizers up until about 11 PM when Mary would leave to go back to her family in Queens, Durinka would leave, Joe, who was in the closet would some times go cruising with us and the rest would do whatever they did after work. Most times Ronnie and I would go over to Downey’s put $5 each on the bar and Frank, the bartender, an ‘old’ Irishman with throat cancer, would serve us drinks, not charging us and then taking our 5 dollar bills and thanking us for the tips.

Ronnie and I were both theatre geeks and we saw so many shows–back then previews cost $5-7 and we went to those on our days off–that unless I google them I can’t tell you the year I saw them or with Pepe or Ronnie but I think the majority were with the latter . Some of the shows we saw were: Fiddler on the Roof, How To Succeed in Business, Man of La Mancha, Hair, Funny Girl, Cabaret, I Do, I Do, Sweet Charity, Stop The World I want to Get Off, Mame, Hello Dolly, Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf and, remember this title, Persecution and Prosecution of Marat as performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under The Direction of the Marat De Sade–more about the shows we saw in a future blog about 1967!

Ronnie lived in an old apartment building in the 50s off 8th avenue, where Paul Newman and Piper Laurie filmed scenes for The Hustler, that was called The House Of Pansies–bet you can figure out why!! There was one New Year’s Eve that he threw a party for a motorcycle club that would make you blush if I went into details–it still makes me blush!

One night walking home from work to where I lived on West 75th Street off Central Park so I could change before we went out Ronnie and I heard what we thought were Barbra Streisand records. We knew she was doing a concert the next night there and we figured it was fans getting there early to get up close to the stage and we decided to walk in. There was Streisand rehearsing, making sure everything was just right including the flow of her dress, exactly where she was on stage and every step she took. It was amazing and though we weren’t thinking of fighting the crowd to see her we were there the next day!

We were both working the night of the first big blackout in New York in 1965. The Brass Rail closed early as they sold out all their food very quickly. Ronnie and I left, stopping at a few bars which were just pouring free drinks for all the customers. It was a fun, calm night in the city nothing like what happened almost a decade later when there was city wide looting and crimes

I have so many memories Of Ronnie sharing moments like that with me but since he was also involved, very much so, in the beginning of my 4th decade I’ll leave some of the rest for the next chapter.


 

(To be continued)

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“Wake at dawn

with a winged heart

and give thanks

for another day of loving.”

Rumi

(Maria’s cards)

Posted May 30, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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A JEW LOOKS AT CHRISTMAS—PART 3   Leave a comment

To me the Nativity scene, Santa Claus, the Rockettes, St. Patrick’s cathedral, Carols, Jingle Bells, snow, cold weather, horse and carriage rides in Central Park, the skating rinks in Rockefeller Center and Central Park, decorated store windows, hot chestnuts, etc., just to name a few things–ALL make up Christmas.

        

It’s 79 degrees outside but I can walk into a South Florida mall and see a Christmas tree, a kid sitting on Santa’s lap, watch another kid throw a fake snowball, hear “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” on the loudspeaker and it is Christmas for me!!!

       

Now my Christmas may not acknowledge Christ or any religious aspect that a Christian may but I feel as warm, as moved, surrounded by cheers of “Merry Christmas” or seeing pins on women’s clothes of lit up Santa Clauses as anyone can. I look around and I think of “Peace on earth, good will to men” whether it is looking as a Christmas wreath or a Hanuka bush.

       

   

I was 16 and saw myself as a sophisticated man of the world with my cashmere leather trimmed, falling just below the knee, overcoat, leather gloves, brown fur earmuffs and a cashmere scarf thrown around my neck in cavalier fashion about to take my first horse and carriage ride through Central Park with someone I had just met in the Oak Room of the Plaza hotel. I can tell you every inch of that ride and the beauty of being in the park in the middle of Manhattan surrounded by towering buildings sparkling like many colored jewels on  a dark, snowy night three days before Christmas but I couldn’t tell you a thing about the person I was with.

        

      

       

I started this series off by saying I probably will never experience another Christmas season in New York but my memories of such magical times in my life will be with me forever. Whether I hear a choir singing carols or “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” or “All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth” heard on the speakers in a mall or see and/or smell holly, mistletoe, a pine tree or a nativity scene or a menorah or Santa Claus or watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” an unforgettable time will come rushing to me.

     

 It is never too early for

“Peace on earth and good will towards men”

I hope that each of you who have never experienced the magic, the wonder, the awe, the excitement, the meaning of the holiday, get at least one chance to have Christmas in New York City.

Posted December 24, 2011 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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