The Little Byte Line-Up of Movies
Hoparound Tour
#1
(now playing)
Crossing Manhattan at
46th Street
(you're here)
         

Crossing Manhattan at 46th Street
written and conceived by Robert Westfield
filmed and edited by Cayce Crown

Twelfth Avenue—Part One
"Ladies and Gentlemen, the USS Intrepid"
(CLICK FOR CREDITS AND MOVIE NOTES)
Twelfth Avenue—Part Two
"Okay, Now What?"
(CLICK FOR CREDITS AND MOVIE NOTES)
Eleventh Avenue
Hell's Kitchen
(CLICK FOR CREDITS AND MOVIE NOTES)

Tenth Avenue
The Concrete Jungle

(CLICK FOR CREDITS AND MOVIE NOTES)

Ninth Avenue
Good Eatin'
(CLICK FOR CREDITS AND MOVIE NOTES)
Eighth Avenue
The New Skyscraper Canyon
(CLICK FOR CREDITS AND MOVIE NOTES)
Times Square—Part One
Broadway with Marta
(CLICK FOR CREDITS AND MOVIE NOTES)
Times Square—Part Two
Behind the Billboards
(CLICK FOR CREDITS AND MOVIE NOTES)
Times Square—Part Three
A One-Block Specialist
(CLICK FOR CREDITS AND MOVIE NOTES)
Fifth Avenue
"And then you can buy more copies of Suspension..."
(CLICK FOR CREDITS AND MOVIE NOTES)
Madison Avenue
(Or Perhaps Crockett)
(CLICK FOR CREDITS AND MOVIE NOTES)

Park Avenue—Part One
Death Avenue
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Park Avenue—Part Two
Things That Fall from the Sky
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Lexington and Third Avenues
"I'm standing right here!"
(CLICK FOR CREDITS AND MOVIE NOTES)
Third and Second Avenues
Meat, Meat, Meat
(CLICK FOR CREDITS AND MOVIE NOTES)
First Avenue/U.N.—Part One
Blood Alley
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First Avenue/U.N.—Part Two
The First Flag at the U.N.
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First Avenue/U.N.—Part Three
Questions from the Home Viewer
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First Avenue/U.N.—Part Four
The Obscene Elephant
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Outtakes
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1—Twelfth Avenue—Part One
“Ladies and Gentlemen, the USS Intrepid…”

For over thirty years, the Intrepid fought in wars and recovered spacecraft for NASA, but for the last two decadees the Intrepid has been a museum and peculiar party venue.  My first visit was in 1994 as part of Columbia's Senior Week when hundreds (maybe thousands, I don't remember) danced on the flight deck between A-12 Blackbird spy plane and a Polish MiG-21, both powerless to stop the relentless beat that was Ace of Base.

My favorite visit took place in 1997 when I worked as a guide on an award-winning program designed by Tony Napoli at what was then Briggs Red Carpet.  (Now just Briggs.)  The owner of a successful temp agency in the Netherlands wanted to celebrate his company's silver anniversary in style.  He brought over six hundred of his employees (most in their twenties) as well as six hundred guests of those employees.  There were Broadway shows, tours, and a gala party held in the ballroom of the Marriott Marquis hosted by one of their own local television personalities.  Then came the surprise.

Months earlier, when the client was asked for the first thing to pop to mind when he thought of New York City, his answer was emphatic:  "Aerobics."  Aerobics?  Not one to argue, Napoli set to work, and so on the Sunday morning after the gala, twelve hundred drunk or hungover Dutch and Belgian twenty-somethings wearing identical blue shorts and white t-shirts were bussed over from the Marriott to the Intrepid where five of the city's best aerobics instructors were waiting.  I climbed to one of the balconies (to use the nautical term) and watched below me as twelve hundred temps in unison stretched, waved their arms, squatted, and bounced up and down.  And just as there are now over a thousand more Europeans who associate Manhattan with aerobics, I will forever link aerobics with aircraft carriers.

This segment was directed by Peter Flynn.   Nina Kane was the woman who gave me dirt.

Cayce Crown is the brilliant videographer and editor and my partner in crime in this Little Bytes endeavor.  She owns and operates the Crown View, Inc. where she promises to shoot your family so you don’t have to.  www.thecrownview.com

Peter Flynn is one of my most trusted friends and directors.  As an actor, he has appeared on Broadway as the Scarlet Pimpernel and most recently as Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast.  He’s also the author of Lily, a musical adaptation of

The House of Mirth.  www.peter-flynn.com

Nina Kane wanders daily along the shoreline of Manhattan dispensing trivia about the waterfront.

 

2Twelfth Avenue—Part Two
“Okay, Now What?”

As we walk across Forty-sixth Street these next few months, we'll be tallying Starbucks, Duane Reades, banks, public bathrooms, and restaurants.  We'll start by pointing out that this great street of eateries--home to Restaurant Row (thirty on the single block between Eighth and Ninth) as well as steakhouses like Sparks--kicks off with a McDonalds.  Big surprise.  However, this isn't just any McDonalds:  because of its affiliation with the Intrepid, its arches are not golden but battleship gray!!  It might be the only such McDonalds in the world.  For the sake of sightseeing drama, let's say it is:  Here, at the western end of Forty-sixth Street, stands the only McDonalds on the planet that does not incorporate the Golden Arches!!!! 

Goose bumps.  Cameras flash.

This segment was directed by Peter Flynn.  Nicole Stefonek was Giovanni da Verrazzano as well as the woman with the sad dinner parties.  Nina Kane was Esteban Gomez and Tessa Leigh Derfner was Henry Hudson.  Two hundred stunt drivers participated in the action sequence that closed the byte.

Cayce Crown is the brilliant videographer and editor and my partner in crime in this Little Bytes endeavor.  She owns and operates the Crown View, Inc. where she promises to shoot your family so you don’t have to.  www.thecrownview.com

Tessa Leigh Derfner is a writer and director in New York City.  She is currently in the midst of life as a New York Teaching Fellow!

Peter Flynn is one of my most trusted friends and directors.  As an actor, he has appeared on Broadway as the Scarlet Pimpernel and most recently as Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast.  He’s also the author of Lily, a musical adaptation of

The House of Mirth.  www.peter-flynn.com

Nina Kane wanders daily along the shoreline of Manhattan volunteering to hold flags of various countries.

Nicole Stefonek is a singer/actor/bartender currently "living the dream" in NYC.  She enjoys singing, comic improv, and good tippers.  Keep an eye out for her next off-off Broadway or cabaret presentation.

 

3Eleventh Avenue
Hell’s Kitchen

First of all, we made sure to post this byte (which features a sandwich board of Suspension) this week because August 1st is the anniversary of the day my first novel went on sale.  It's been a wonderful year traveling to promote the book, reading in stores, meeting with book clubs, speaking at high schools and colleges, and I'm still not over the surprise of winning two awards back at the end of May.  I was thrilled just two weeks ago to enter the Barnes and Noble at Union Square to find a huge stack of Suspension on a front table of Contemporary Fiction in the middle of novels by Nicole Krauss, Zadie Smith, and Umberto Eco.  The book is out there, having its life, and I have the good people at Harper Perennial to thank for that.

So why do you make fun of them in the video?

Because it's funny.  It's funnier for a novelist to be annoyed with his publicity department.  It's funnier for a novelist to walk down Eleventh Avenue and find a drunkard who can't find Times Square wearing a sandwich board of his book.  Two of my favorite New Yorker cartoons this year had to do with an author's dismay.  The first shows a man and a woman sitting behind a meet-the-author table on the side of the road in the middle of the desert.  He turns to her and says:  "You are, without a doubt, the worst publicist I've ever had."  The other is set in a book store.  An employee is stocking books when a writer, kneeling on the floor studying the bottom shelf, turns and says, "I'd just like to congratulate you on how skillfully you've hidden my novel!"

The fact is that this month Harper Perennial launches a promotion called Take a Stranger Home which is encouraging shoppers to purchase their debut authors.  They're taking out front tables in book stores across the country and stocking them with their debut books (Suspension among them).  As part of this, I'll be on a panel on August 6th at McNally Robinson on Prince Street with fellow Perennelians, Josh Kilmer-Purcell (I Am Not Myself These Days) and Grant Stoddard (Working Stiff).  And, contrary to the byte, they are Internet savvy, using Myspace and viral videos on youtube to spread the word about their books.  Carrie Kania, Amy Baker, Jeff Yamaguchi, and others at HP really are at the forefront of the publishing movement's innovative use of new Internet technologies.

But it's funnier if sandwich boards are the linchpins of their marketing campaigns.

"So why was the neighborhood called Hell's Kitchen?"

Oh, right.  Thank you.   Well, the answers the passersby give are taken from reliable sources, but my feeling is that the neighborhood was given the name by people who didn't live there and who saw the poor immigrant neighborhood as a place where logically, in their minds, vice would simmer and boil over.  Not that there wasn't crime in the district.  There were frequent gang fights and years when there were more train robberies on the west side of Manhattan than there were out in the Wild West.  But it's a tendency in cities to give crime-ridden nicknames to their poorer districts where bad things are expected to happen.  There was a Hell's Kitchen in London with social similarities and the name may have been imported.

This segment was directed by Peter Flynn.  Nicole Stefonek was the jogger, Tessa Leigh Derfner was the passerby the purse, and Nina Kane was the New Yorker on the phone.  Marc Wolf was the guy hired by HarperCollins to wear a sandwich board on Eleventh Avenue and Steven Devall was our authority on Hell's Kitchen.

Cayce Crown is the brilliant videographer and editor and my partner in crime in this Little Bytes endeavor.  She owns and operates the Crown View, Inc. where she promises to shoot your family so you don’t have to.  www.thecrownview.com

Tessa Leigh Derfner is a writer and director in New York City.  She is currently in the midst of life as a New York Teaching Fellow!

Steven Devall is a voiceover actor in NYC--you could probably tell while listening to him speak of Mr. Irving.  He is currently looking for representation, so if you're an agent, or play one on TV, check out his reel at his website.

Peter Flynn is one of my most trusted friends and directors.  As an actor, he has appeared on Broadway as the Scarlet Pimpernel and most recently as Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast.  He’s also the author of Lily, a musical adaptation of

The House of Mirth.  www.peter-flynn.com

Nina Kane wanders aimlessly every day through Hell's Kitchen cold calling people and telling them to read Suspension by Robert Westfield.

Nicole Stefonek is a singer/actor/bartender currently "living the dream" in NYC.  She enjoys singing, comic improv, and good tippers.  Keep an eye out for her next off-off Broadway or cabaret presentation.

Marc Wolf recently performed the world premiere of his new solo-show The Road Home: Re-Membering America at Huntington Theatre and Geva Theatre, directed by David Schweizer.  He received an OBIE and was nominated for the Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for his brilliant Off-Broadway performance of Another American: Asking and Telling at The New Group, directed by Joe Mantello.  www.marcwolf.com

 

4Tenth Avenue
The Concrete Jungle

For more information on the Capeman murders, here's a link to the smokinggun.com's Capeman files, which includes the D.A.'s original case report, a police evidence report, confessions, and a social worker's report on Salvador Agron six years before the murders.

Click here, for more information on the May Matthews Playground, which has photographs the mural by Arnold Belkin and some of the handcast tiles.  (This site also has a great article on the Capeman Murders by George Spiegler for The Clinton Chronicle.)  By the way, we chose to discuss the Concrete Jungle on this block, because of the 1959 murders, but I should point out that this playground is one of midtown's peaceful havens and that the block between 9th and 10th is one of the most beautiful on the entire walk across 46th.

Finally, after writing this byte and shooting on the west side, we realized there was going to be a long narration without footage.  I passed on this concern to Colin Winterbottom, who provided pictures of Central Park for one of our very first bytes, and he walked down to 46th one night in early July and took a series of photographs of the playground, the street, the fence and the gate, which miraculously fit the narration as if we'd given him a storyboard.  There is something misleading, however, in the way we cut the sequence and that would be the implication that the attack took place on a particular bench in the playground.

This segment was directed by Peter Flynn.  The black-and-white photographs were taken by Colin Winterbottom.  Tessa Leigh Derfner was the off-camera tourist and Marc Wolf was the guy napping on the bench.  (Confused by this?  It was part of the previous byte.  Almost all of the bytes on this tour were broken into two parts.)

Cayce Crown is the brilliant videographer and editor and my partner in crime in this Little Bytes endeavor.  She owns and operates the Crown View, Inc. where she promises to shoot your family so you don’t have to.  www.thecrownview.com

Tessa Leigh Derfner is a writer and director in New York City.  She is currently in the midst of life as a New York Teaching Fellow!

Peter Flynn is one of my most trusted friends and directors.  As an actor, he has appeared on Broadway as the Scarlet Pimpernel and most recently as Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast.  He’s also the author of Lily, a musical adaptation of

The House of Mirth.  www.peter-flynn.com

Marc Wolf recently performed the world premiere of his new solo-show The Road Home: Re-Membering America at Huntington Theatre and Geva Theatre, directed by David Schweizer.  He received an OBIE and was nominated for the Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for his brilliant Off-Broadway performance of Another American: Asking and Telling at The New Group, directed by Joe Mantello.  www.marcwolf.com

Colin Winterbottom, a brilliant photographer of New York and D.C. among other places.  You can see more of his work in A Cathedral in Central Park, Part Two, and at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel at Columbus Circle.  His photograph of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Twin Towers hung above my desk as I wrote Suspension.  Visit his Web site to see more at www.colinwinterbottom.com.

 

5Ninth Avenue
Good Eatin’

There are two special places on this block between 9th and 10th.

The first is St. Clement's Church, which we show in the opening photos.  Originally built in 1870 for West Presbyterian Church, it's now home to St. Clement's which is an Episcopalian church founded in 1830.  In 1962, the church built a theater, which is the oldest off-Broadway theater in continual use.  For several years, The New Group produced plays here, including the 1999 world premiere of Marc Wolf's phenomenal Another American:  Asking and Telling, directed by Joe Mantello.  I'm biased--I worked on it a bit as a dramaturge and traveled with it to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, etc.  There's no play I've seen more frequently than this one and I couldn't be more fortunate.  A provacative tour de force of theatricality, intelligence, hilarity and deep pathos, it has no doubt influenced my playwriting and I owe this education to that theater at St. Clement's.   Another American was published, along with Tennessee Williams and Tony Kushner, in Emily Mann's anthology Political Stages:  Plays That Shaped a Century.  Technically, since Another American premiered in December of 1999, it shaped a very tiny part of the twentieth century, but there is the twenty-first to look forward to.  Marc can be seen in several of the Little Bytes (including this one) arguing with me, hanging dead from a fence or wearing a sandwich board.

The second special place on this block is the remarkable Hartley House located at 413 W. 46th, which has been helping the Hell's Kitchen community since 1897.  They have programs for youth, adults and senior citizens, with multiple programs for immigrants, so if anyone is looking for opportunities to volunteer or make a donation, here's an organization that comes highly recommended.

To read more about the Westies, I recommend T.J. English's book, The Westies:  Inside New York's Irish Mob, which was reissued last October.  English covered the trial in the late eighties for the The Irish Voice.  He's also the author of Paddy Whacked:  The Untold Story of the Irish American Gangster.

This segment was shot in three parts--one scene was directed by Peter Flynn, one by Tessa Leigh Derfner, and the rest picked up by Cayce and myself early one morning.  The car poolers were played by Tessa Leigh Derfner, Nicole Stefonek, and Nina Kane.  The man in the sandwich board was Marc Wolf.

Cayce Crown is the brilliant videographer and editor and my partner in crime in this Little Bytes endeavor.  She owns and operates the Crown View, Inc. where she promises to shoot your family so you don’t have to.  www.thecrownview.com.

Tessa Leigh Derfner is a writer and director in New York City.  She is currently in the midst of life as a New York Teaching Fellow!

Peter Flynn is one of my most trusted friends and directors.  As an actor, he has appeared on Broadway as the Scarlet Pimpernel and most recently as Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast.  He’s also the author of Lily, a musical adaptation of

The House of Mirth.  www.peter-flynn.com

Nina Kane dances up and down the side streets of Hell's Kitchen almost every day.

Nicole Stefonek is a singer/actor/bartender currently "living the dream" in NYC.  She enjoys singing, comic improv, and good tippers.  Keep an eye out for her next off-off Broadway or cabaret presentation.

Marc Wolf recently performed the world premiere of his new solo-show The Road Home: Re-Membering America at Huntington Theatre and Geva Theatre, directed by David Schweizer.  He received an OBIE and was nominated for the Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for his brilliant Off-Broadway performance of Another American: Asking and Telling at The New Group, directed by Joe Mantello.  www.marcwolf.com

 

6Eighth Avenue
The New Skyscraper Canyon

The block between 8th and 9th is Restaurant Row, which caters to the theater district.  There are more than thirty restaurants that line this one block.  My three personal favorites are The Hourglass Tavern, a VERY intimate dining experience, FireBird, an extravagent Russian restaurant whose decor is Zagat-rated as one of the best in the city, and the fantastic theater hangout, Joe Allen, where you might not recognize a single show advertised on their walls--all of the posters are from shows that have flopped.

A bit of trivia: Orso, which has some of the best food on the block, appears on page two of Suspension, as the restaurant where Sonia Obolensky works coat check before being fired and turning to massage.

Another bit of trivia:  332 W. 46th is where Rhoda Morgenstern lived after she left Mary (Tyler Moore) Richards back in Minneapolis.  So Rhoda lived here, in Hell's Kitchen, during the fiscal crisis of the 1970's, alone, a single woman...Maybe.  She was a tough broad.

One last recommendation: Don't Tell Mama Cabaret and Piano Bar.  Speaking of Sonia, this is exactly the kind of space where Sonia would be singing...in fact, the Moonbeam Room in Suspension is a cross between the cabaret space here and the one at the Firebird...as well as another one on 46th which I'm not sure exists any more.  My favorite event at Don't Tell Mama is Seth Rudetsky's Chatterbox.  Every Thursday at 6pm (for a mere ten dollars which goes directly to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS plus a two-drink minimum) you get to listen to Broadway stars (guests have included Audra McDonald, Nathan Lane, Christine Ebersole, and Victoria Clark) sing a couple songs after talking about their childhoods, their humiliating auditions, onstage disasters, and various highs and lows.  HIGHLY recommended.  A great way to impress an out-of-town visitor on a Thursday evening.

This segment was directed by Peter Flynn.  And I have no idea who the man was who attacked my group with such violence. 

Cayce Crown is the brilliant videographer and editor and my partner in crime in this Little Bytes endeavor.  She owns and operates the Crown View, Inc. where she promises to shoot your family so you don’t have to.  www.thecrownview.com.

Peter Flynn is one of my most trusted friends and directors.  As an actor, he has appeared on Broadway as the Scarlet Pimpernel and most recently as Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast.  He’s also the author of Lily, a musical adaptation of

The House of Mirth.  www.peter-flynn.com.

Doug Nervik is an actor, musician, and entertainer in New York City.  He's also a licensed tour guide of New York.

 

7Times Square—Part One
Broadway with Marta

The Helen Hayes Theater, which was torn down in 1982, began life as the Folies Bergere in 1911.  It was a dinner theater like few others with a gourmet kitchen beneath the stage and tables and chairs, as well as theater seats, in the auditorium.  This venture proved far too costly and ran only three months before they renovated.  Years later, the theater was home to A Long Day's Journey into Night and Arsenic and Old Lace.  Henry Fonda and Audrey Hepburn were two of the actors who performed on its stage.  It was named after the beloved Helen Hayes in 1955 to celebrate her fifty years in the theater--she had begun performing six years before this theater even opened. After her namesake was torn down for the Marriott Marquis, Helen Hayes did not allow her name to be attached to the theater built inside the hotel.  In 1983, the Little Theater on 44th Street was renamed the Helen Hayes.

There are three books I highly recommend for anyone interested in the history of New York theaters.  The first is At This Theater:  100 Years of Broadway Shows, Stories and Stars by Louis Botto.  If you're like me, you might engage in heated arguments with fellow theatergoers before the show starts, almost coming to blows when someone claims to have seen a certain play in this theater when you KNOW it played three blocks south.  You'll open your Playbill to the At This Theater page and thrust it into the face of your neighbors.  They might have the audacity to say, "Well, it's not listed here, but it played here."  If you own this book, which is an extended history of all the theaters (with fabulous photos), you can pull it out of your bag and turn to the page of the theater where the show did play.  If they still argue, the book is heavy enough to be brought down on their heads.  (It's your responsibility then to turn off their cell phones.)  Owning the book also allows you to take it on the subway and pick fights with fellow straphangers.

The second book I recommend is Lost Broadway Theaters by Nicholas van Hoogstraten.  (This is not the British businessman and property owner sentenced to prison for manslaughter--see Nicholas van Hoogstraten:  Millionaire Killer.  At least I don't think it is.)  This book is full of wonderful pictures (all black and white) and full of interesting trivia.  Example:  The Eltinge 42nd Street Theater (now the AMC Empire 25) was built for, and named after, Julian Eltinge, in 1912.  Eltinge was a nationally known female impersonator, one of the "early twentieth century's most popular male interpreter of female roles."  The third book is Broadway:  the American Musical by Michael Kantor and Laurence Maslon.  This is the companion to the 6-part PBS documentary series.   

For those of you who are trying to find the other Marta clips used in this byte, she appears in Hoparound Tour #1 (The Cathedral in Central Park, Part Two) and A Walk Across Wall Street (Tranquilizing a Tourist).

This segment was directed by Peter Flynn.  Marta Sanders played herself.  Well, some form of herself.

Cayce Crown is the brilliant videographer and editor and my partner in crime in this Little Bytes endeavor.  She owns and operates the Crown View, Inc. where she promises to shoot your family so you don’t have to.  www.thecrownview.com.

Peter Flynn is one of my most trusted friends and directors.  As an actor, he has appeared on Broadway as the Scarlet Pimpernel and most recently as Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast.  He’s also the author of Lily, a musical adaptation of

The House of Mirth.  www.peter-flynn.com.

Marta Sanders is a Broadway (original company The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas) and award winning cabaret singer ("Outstanding Female Vocalist" Manhattan Assoc. of Cabarets and Backstage " Bistro" award).  Her most recent recording:  Marta Sanders:  Corazon del Alma.  (Trivia:  Marta Sanders appears in Suspension as an acquaintance of chanteuse/masseuse, Sonia Obolensky.)  www.martasanders.com

 

8Times Square—Part Two
Behind the Billboards

For a blog with photos about the last days of the icon in Times Square, click HoJoLand.

TKTS, the discount ticket booth which sells about a third of all Broadway and off-Broadway tickets, has two locations.  The first is in Times Square, or just north in Duffy Square to be precise.  They first set up shop on this spot in 1973; however, during the renovation of Duffy Square, they are selling tickets out of a hollow half column at the Marriott Marquis on 46th. 

The second booth opened in 1974 downtown on William Street, before heading to 2 World Trade in 1983.  They moved to 4 World Trade after the 1993 WTC bombing and to Bowling Green after the attacks of September eleventh.  They are now at the South Street Seaport and unlike their uptown neighbor, they offer matinee tickets the day before performance.  They are run by the Theater Development Fund (TDF).  On the TDF website, you can find what shows were "on the board" the previous week.  You can also find out if you're eligible for cheap theater seats all year long.

This segment was directed by Peter Flynn.

Cayce Crown is the brilliant videographer and editor and my partner in crime in this Little Bytes endeavor.  She owns and operates the Crown View, Inc. where she promises to shoot your family so you don’t have to.  www.thecrownview.com.

Peter Flynn is one of my most trusted friends and directors.  As an actor, he has appeared on Broadway as the Scarlet Pimpernel and most recently as Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast.  He’s also the author of Lily, a musical adaptation of

The House of Mirth.  www.peter-flynn.com.

 

9Times Square—Part Three
A One-Block Specialist

Movie trivia:  This is the block used in the movie Fame when the cab driver stops his taxi in the middle of the street and blasts the Irene Cara tune.  The students pour out of the school and begin dancing on top of cars.  To remind yourself of the scene, click here:  FAME.  You'll notice that the kids run into the traffic from the wrong side of the street.  They're supposed to be coming out of the School of the Performing Arts, which is farther down the block on the south side.  The filmmakers used the Church of St. Mary the Virgin on the north side to double as the school and were able to get more of Times Square in the shot.  So in the clip, you'll also see the I. Miller Building (Times Square, Part Two) as well as an overexposed glimpse or two of the buildings that predated the Marriott Marquis (Times Square Part One).

For more information on the School of the Performing Arts, (and the High School of Music and Art), visit LaGuardia Arts.   (The Milton Glaser who designed their logo, by the way, is most famous for his I [HEART] NY campaign.)

For more information on the Roundabout Theater, click here.

This segment was directed by Peter Flynn.  Doug Nervik played Doug McCain.

Cayce Crown is the brilliant videographer and editor and my partner in crime in this Little Bytes endeavor.  She owns and operates the Crown View, Inc. where she promises to shoot your family so you don’t have to.  www.thecrownview.com.

Peter Flynn is one of my most trusted friends and directors.  As an actor, he has appeared on Broadway as the Scarlet Pimpernel and most recently as Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast.  He’s also the author of Lily, a musical adaptation of

The House of Mirth.  www.peter-flynn.com.

Doug Nervik is an actor, musician, and entertainer in New York City.  He's also a licensed tour guide of New York.


10Fifth Avenue
"And then you can buy more copies of Suspension."

First off, the percussion you hear during the Little Brazil opening is not indigenous to that country.  Those are Polynesian drums and those were used because that's what we had on our Sound Effects CD.  Apologies for any confusion this may have caused.

Just as the American Radiator Building is the building most puzzled over by visitors to the Empire State Building ("What's the building with the gold top?  It's next to a park that's pretty dark, which you can see from the side that's just to the right of the real windy side where you can see Macy's?"), the Bear Stearns Building   has become a disproportionately significant feature of the skyline since the reopening of the observatory deck at Rockefeller Center.  Bear Stearns blends in with all the other midtown office buildings from most vantage points, but because of its proximity to the Top of the Rock and its steaming, illuminated glass crown which is best seen from above, it's one of the first buildings noticed by nighttime visitors.  ("Robert, what's the building...?"  "Bear Stearns.")

The building is also a perfect example of a skyscraper New Yorkers might know only in parts.  In the crowded blocks of midtown, it frequently happens that someone who works in the neighborhood walks by the building at street level (a square podium for the first eight floors) and admires the building from his or her office window (the rest of Bear Stearns is an octagonal tower) without realizing that it's the same structure.  There's a world on the sidewalk and a world in the sky and the disconnect is one of the stranger features of life in the city.

A final note.  I deliberately chose not to discuss the Gotham Book Mart on the 46th Street tour.  For one reason, the Gotham Book Mart really belonged on 47th Street, in the Diamond District, where it had been for decades, and not at this fake location.  The other reason was that I knew by the time we posted the video, the venerable legend would likely be gone.  Little did I know that the day we shot our footage of the block would coincide with the liquidation of all the merchandise.

Within two hours... ...the contents of this legendary store...
...from first editions to lamps... ...would be sold.

The Gotham Book Mart (1920-2007)

The crowd of bibliophiles lined up on Tuesday to partake in a court-mandated auction of all the stock, some of it dating back to the twenties.  The store was forced to close its doors "temporarily" last August because the owner, Andreas Brown, had fallen behind on his rent payments ($51,000/month).  He owed the landlord over $500,000 and the court ordered the abrupt sale of everything inside--tens of thousands of books, including valuable first editions, boxes of photos, and various knick-knacks.  The book lovers had less than an hour to inspect the lots (after laying down $1000 just to enter) but that didn't matter, because--and this is where you might throw up--a lawyer for the landlord purchased everything in a $400,000 single bid.

This segment was directed by Tessa Leigh Derfner.  Berda Gilmore was BOTH the officer at passport control and Cindy Cooper.  April Ortiz was the voice who made the preposterous claim that the group had enough copies of Suspension and Travis Stroessenreuther was the voice of the man whose wife worked at Bear Stearns.  April Ortiz was also the commuter who supported my thesis about investment bankers and waiters.  Sworn enemies.

Cayce Crown is the brilliant videographer and editor and my partner in crime in this Little Bytes endeavor.  She owns and operates the Crown View, Inc. where she promises to shoot your family so you don’t have to.  www.thecrownview.com.

Tessa Leigh Derfner is a writer and director in New York City.  She is currently in the midst of life as a New York Teaching Fellow!

Berda Gilmore enjoys reading, waitressing, and scaring up acting work in her spare time.  Anything you need to know about her can be found at http://resumes.actorsaccess.com/berda.

April Ortiz is one funny Latina with a mean career in voiceovers who grew up in LA after bolting across the border in June of 1948.  (I'll leave this date here until April finds this bio and frantically calls me.)

Travis Stroessenreuther spends much of his time spelling his name.  From the state of Wisconsin, Travis is an actor, improv trouper, and comic.   Check out his new Web site:  www.travistravistravis.com

 

11Madison Avenue
(Or Perhaps Crockett)

Madison Avenue was named in 1836, the year the president died.  The street may have been named after its place of origin, the southeast corner of Madison Square, but that park itself was named in 1814 after the president when he was in the White House.   Good timing all around, James.

Regarding the Ritz-Carlton, a dubious entry at Wikipedia claims their first property in the U.S. was in Boston in 1927.  I don't know what to make of that as I'm currently looking at a photo from 1911 of New York's Ritz-Carlton on the corner of 46th and Madison.  And according to NY Songlines, a kindred site of Manhattan perambulation, the Ritz-Carlton "opened in 1910, designed by Charles Wetmore and financed by real estate scion Robert Walton Goelet.  (It) featured Castle House, the dance school run by Vernon and Irene Castle.  This was the site of lush coming-out parties for "Poor Little Rich Girl" Barbara Hutton, in 1930, and Brenda Frazier, "Glamour Girl No. 1," in 1938.  It was home to singer Al Jolson, editor Harold Ross and gambler Arnold Rothstein. Closed in 1951, the hotel was torn down in 1957."

Irving Berlin wrote the song, "Puttin' on the Ritz" just a block away in 1929.  The Ritz name, by the way, comes from the European hotelier, Cesar Ritz, who opened the Hotel Ritz in Paris in 1898 and the Ritz Hotel in London in 1905.

This byte was directed by Tessa Leigh Derfner.  Travis Stoessenreuther played the mind-blowing double role of the man-on-theeet reenacting Governor Dewey and Berda Gilmore played the page bearing the dreadful news of a second defeat.  They also played the part of my tour group starving for Pringles.

Cayce Crown is the brilliant videographer and editor and my partner in crime in this Little Bytes endeavor.  She owns and operates the Crown View, Inc. where she promises to shoot your family so you don’t have to.  www.thecrownview.com.

Tessa Leigh Derfner is a writer and director in New York City.  She is currently in the midst of life as a New York Teaching Fellow!

Berda Gilmore enjoys reading, waitressing, and scaring up acting work in her spare time.  Anything you need to know about her can be found at http://resumes.actorsaccess.com/berda.

Travis Stroessenreuther spends much of his time spelling his name.  From the state of Wisconsin, Travis is an actor, improv trouper, and comic.   Check out his new Web site:  www.travistravistravis.com

 

12Park Avenue-Part One   

Death Avenue

This byte was directed by Tessa Leigh Derfner.  Travis Stoessenreuther was the bully on the street.

Cayce Crown is the brilliant videographer and editor and my partner in crime in this Little Bytes endeavor.  She owns and operates the Crown View, Inc. where she promises to shoot your family so you don’t have to.  www.thecrownview.com.

Tessa Leigh Derfner is a writer and director in New York City.  She is currently in the midst of life as a New York Teaching Fellow!

Travis Stroessenreuther spends much of his time spelling his name.  From the state of Wisconsin, Travis is an actor, improv trouper, and comic.   Check out his new Web site:  www.travistravistravis.com



13Park Avenue-Part Two
Things That Fall from the Sky

Today, as I'm finally getting around to writing the notes for this byte, there are two articles about things that fall from the sky.  One is from the Associated Press about the rise in fatality of NYC construction.  Forty-three people died in 2006 while working construction on the countless projects around the city.  Click here to read.

The second is about the hail of debris (click here to read) that rained down from the 53rd floor of the Bank of America Tower, which is still under construction at 42nd and Sixth.  It started as a "bathtub-size steel bucket" hitting the side of the building as it fell and then "trailing a shower of glass and metal."  Four pedestrians and four constuction workers were injured.  Incredibly, it's the fourth time since January 2006 that something has fallen from the construction site of what will be the second tallest skyscraper in New York, only fifty feet shorter than the Empire State Building.  The construction has halted as the city awaits some explanation. 

This byte was directed by Tessa Leigh Derfner.

Cayce Crown is the brilliant videographer and editor and my partner in crime in this Little Bytes endeavor.  She owns and operates the Crown View, Inc. where she promises to shoot your family so you don’t have to.  www.thecrownview.com.

Tessa Leigh Derfner is a writer and director in New York City.  She is currently in the midst of life as a New York Teaching Fellow!

 

14Lexington and Third Avenues
"I'm standing right here!"

 

I should explain the opening and the ending.  The foreign language you hear over the credits is a Cherokee reading of the Bible.  We couldn't find an appropriate sound effect during the editing of this byte and had often come across "Cherokee reading the Bible," the specificity of which had always prompted one of us to ask, "Who would ever use this sound effect?"  Well, on this day in our search for something applicable to Turtle Bay or Lexington Avenue, we decided that if anyone was going to use this sound effect, we would.  If there ever came a time for a Cherokee reading of the Bible, Byte 14 of the third tour was it.   What chapter, what verses is he reading?  No idea.

And then came Susan.  So convincing was Susan as an irate resident of Third Avenue--crowds were staring and people seemed ready to intervene on my behalf--that we had to stop shooting a few times and explain to passersby that we knew Susan and that she was in on the joke.  All of that was planned.  What wasn't planned was the (perhaps) confusing ending regarding her pharmacological hallucinations.   What you were supposed to see as I talked about Turtle Bay was a series of vintage photographs of the neighborhood that I was describing which would then become a series of photos of the famous residents.  Well, I forgot I needed these photographs and so there we were, in the editing room, looking at strange footage and wondering what we were supposed to have instead.  All we had was footage of Susan standing by and listening to me talk about Turtle Bay.  How to make do with what we had?  How to explain why I'm there and then why I'm not?  How to explain how Susan nods along and smiles at something she hears but we don't see?  Just a hop, skip, and a jump to a chemical imbalance.

While we're at it, I'll also explain a moment right after the opening titles.  The post-it I adhere to the box below the Lexington Avenue street sign says, "Approved."  You might remember it from the Madison Avenue byte where the post-it is much easier to read and the joke lands without a stumble.  Here there are a lot of people crossing in front of the post-it, the sun is shining a little too brightly on the post-it and we cut away too quickly before someone who had not seen the Madison Avenue byte could read what was written on that post-it.

What can I say?  We were editing this while in the midst of writing the fifth tour and shooting the fourth and things here got slippery.  Apologies to you and thanks to Susan who let us turn her into a lady who had forgotten to take her meds.

This byte was directed by Tessa Leigh Derfner.  Susan Burns played the woman on the street.

Susan Burns is a comic and a founding member of the Seaside Shakespeare Festival in Nantucket. 

Cayce Crown is the brilliant videographer and editor and my partner in crime in this Little Bytes endeavor.  She owns and operates the Crown View, Inc. where she promises to shoot your family so you don’t have to.  www.thecrownview.com.

Tessa Leigh Derfner is a writer and director in New York City.  She is currently in the midst of life as a New York Teaching Fellow!

 

15Third and Second Avenues
Meat, Meat, Meat

Much of the information for this byte comes from New York City Food by Arthur Schwartz, aka The Food Maven who came out with this "opinionated history and more than 100 legendary recipes" in 2004.  It's a hardcover book with almost 400 pages filled with color photos and essays on topics ranging from classic establishments (e.g., Delmonico's, Childs', and Horn & Hardart) and culinary trends (e.g., steakhouses, lobster palaces, corner bakeries, and grand hotel dining) to ethnic traditions (of the Germans, Irish, Jews, Italians, French...) and profiles including Charles Ranhofer, Alfredo Viazzi, and Barbara Kafka who, among many of her accomplishments, wrote the first real microwave cookbook.

(Sidebar:  I served several parties at Barbara Kafka's during my catering years after college and I remember her instructions to rip the bread instead of cutting it.  That was my kind of kitchen:  tear the bread and throw everything in the microwave.  Truth be told I don't even remember a microwave in her kitchen.  I'm sure there was.)

Among the recipes in New York City Food:  egg creams, Lundy's Biscuits, Lobster Newberg, Eggs Benedict, the Manhattan (and The Bronx), Irish Soda Bread, Matzoh Balls, knishes, Reuben's Russian dressing (and Thousand Island) Manicotti Crepes, Cold Noodles with Sesame Sauce, Truffled Waldorf Salad, Curried Goat, White Borscht, Hot Dog Onion Sauce, Patricia Murphy's Popovers, Junior's Cheesecake, Babka, The Four Seasons' Crisp Duck, and Union Square Cafe's Grilled Filet Mignon of Tuna. 

This byte was directed by Tessa Leigh Derfner.  The "Meatheads" were played, in order of appearance, by Walter Hershman, Nicole Stefonek, Nanette Drazic, and Travis Stroessenreuther.

Cayce Crown is the brilliant videographer and editor and my partner in crime in this Little Bytes endeavor.  She owns and operates the Crown View, Inc. where she promises to shoot your family so you don’t have to.  www.thecrownview.com.

Tessa Leigh Derfner is a writer and director in New York City.  She is currently in the midst of life as a New York Teaching Fellow!

Nanette Drazic is an actress hailing from Holland.  She currently has a singing gig at The American (235 Mulberry between Spring and Prince) every Thursday from 8:30-10:30.

Walter Hershman has made his home in New York since 1991. He came as a young actor ready to take on the world. Now he's...an old actor ready to take on the world.

Nicole Stefonek is a singer/actor/bartender currently "living the dream" in NYC.  She enjoys singing, comic improv, and good tippers.  Keep an eye out for her next off-off Broadway or cabaret presentation.

Travis Stroessenreuther spends much of his time spelling his name.  From the state of Wisconsin, Travis is an actor, improv trouper, and comic.  Check out his new site:  www.travistravistravis.com

 

16First Avenue/U.N.-Part One
Blood Alley

 

I'm astonished as well at how fast I'm speaking in these last few bytes.  We shot the entire walk across 46th Street in two days.  That's about ten videos per mile and from Park Avenue on, it was a race against the sun.  Fortunately, it was May, so we had some time.  If we were shooting in December, the last few videos would consist of a rush of vowels and spitting consonants coming from a darkened frame.   

...thisisinternationalsoilwithitsownsecurityfiredepartmentandpostofficeanddoesnotoperateunderuslaw...

Anyway.

For more information on unpaid parking tickets, here are a few humorous and interesting articles:

CNN, 1997--the year the U.N. threatened to leave New York over the parking tickets and developers began to drool over the condo potential.

These two articles are about a study finding a correlation between unpaid parking tickets and cultural corruption.

Forbes, May 2006

"Our conclusion: A certain amount of corruption is grounded in culture and immune to carrots and sticks.

Scandinavian countries, which perennially rank among the least corrupt in the corruption index, had the fewest unpaid tickets. There were just 12 from the 66 diplomats from Finland, Norway, Denmark and Sweden. Almost all of these tickets went to one bad Finn.

Chad and Bangladesh, at the bottom of the corruption index, were among the worst scofflaws. They shirked 1,243 and 1,319 tickets, respectively, in spite of the fact that their UN missions were many times smaller than those of the Scandinavians."

The Economist, August 2006

"In 2002 Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton, New York's senators, added an amendment to a foreign-aid bill that allowed the city to recoup unpaid parking tickets from foreign-aid disbursements to offending countries."

 

This byte was directed by Tessa Leigh Derfner. Susan Burns was the woman on the street scraping cow pies from her shoe and Travis Stroessenreuther was the man seeking "Sanctuary!"

Susan Burns is a comic and a founding member of the Seaside Shakespeare Festival in Nantucket.

Cayce Crown is the brilliant videographer and editor and my partner in crime in this Little Bytes endeavor. She owns and operates the Crown View, Inc. where she promises to shoot your family so you don’t have to. www.thecrownview.com

Tessa Leigh Derfner is a writer and director in New York City. She is currently in the midst of life as a New York Teaching Fellow!

Travis Stroessenreuther spends much of his time spelling his name. From the state of Wisconsin, Travis is an actor, improv trouper, and comic.

17First Avenue/U.N.-Part Two
The First Flag at the U.N.

 

I highly recommend the tours at the United Nations.  Not only do you get to walk through the time capsule that is the architecture of the U.N.--you feel you're in an Alfred Hitchcock movie--but you're shown one of the finest collections of art in the city.  The tours are given by men and women from all over the world.  When the tours began at the U.N., the docents were all young, international women giving tours to American businessmen interested in global affairs.  Men began giving tours in the 1970's.

If you're confused by the "cow" joke at the end of this byte, you should realize that the joke was set up in the last two videos.  Along with coal docks and breweries, slaughterhouses used to line the East River here.  I pretended that after the slaughterhouses were demolished, the cows were homeless (as if they weren't eaten and digested decades ago) and wandering aimlessly up and down First Avenue, leaving manure on the sidewalks.  Initially, this byte was part of the previous one, so the joke was contained, but then we butchered it, cutting it in half and leaving a dismembered moo where an explanation should have been.   What can I say?  It pays to watch them all.

This byte was directed by Tessa Leigh Derfner.  Jeff Plunkett played the flabbergasted tour guide.

Cayce Crown is the brilliant videographer and editor and my partner in crime in this Little Bytes endeavor. She owns and operates the Crown View, Inc. where she promises to shoot your family so you don’t have to. www.thecrownview.com

Tessa Leigh Derfner is a writer and director in New York City. She is currently in the midst of life as a New York Teaching Fellow!  This is her first year as a teacher which means she is afflicted with a cold or some other nefarious illness on a weekly basis as her immune system tries to keep up with the viral village otherwise known as a public school.

Jeff Plunkett is a very talented actor as well as a licensed guide whose hilarious anecdotes are often posted in the blog section of this Web site.  

 

 

18First Avenue/U.N.-Part Three
Questions from the Home Viewer

 

Workers began moving into the Secretariat Building (the administrative offices) in August of 1950, and the U.N. had their first meeting in the General Assembly Building that October.

A few bits of trivia:

The United Nations had been meeting in Flushing Meadows in Queens, covering an ice skating rink and using that as their temporary headquarters.  On this ice skating rink, the modern state of Israel was born.

New York City is the only American city with a U.S. embassy--the American embassy to the United Nations.  The ambassador often resides in the Waldorf Towers.  Former ambassadors include Madeleine Albright, Jeane Kirkpatrick, and George H.W. Bush.

Random trivia:  While researching Suspension, I looked up, out of curiosity, the news in the Times from September 11, 1972, the year I was born.  To my surprise, on the front page was a photo of George H.W. Bush, ambassador to the U.N., vetoing a cease-fire resolution in the Middle East.  It was part of the lead story.  The headlines:  "U.N. Casts a Veto on Mideast, Citing Terrorism"/ "Opposes Call for a Cease-Fire That Does Not Mention Munich Attack"/"An Emergency Session."  1972 was also the year that tenants first occupied both Twin Towers in Lower Manhattan.  The official ribbon cutting ceremony would take place six months later.

This byte was directed by Tessa Leigh Derfner.

Cayce Crown is the brilliant videographer and editor and my partner in crime in this Little Bytes endeavor. She owns and operates the Crown View, Inc. where she promises to shoot your family so you don’t have to. www.thecrownview.com

Tessa Leigh Derfner is a writer and director in New York City. She is currently in the midst of life as a New York Teaching Fellow!  This is her first year as a teacher which means she is afflicted with a cold or some other nefarious illness on a weekly basis as her immune system tries to keep up with the viral village otherwise known as a public school.

 

19First Avenue/U.N.-Part Four
The Obscene Elephant

 

Need I say more?

 

This byte was directed by Tessa Leigh Derfner.  Elizabeth Meadows Rouse played Elizabeth Rousie, PhD.

Cayce Crown is the brilliant videographer and editor and my partner in crime in this Little Bytes endeavor. She owns and operates the Crown View, Inc. where she promises to shoot your family so you don’t have to. www.thecrownview.com

Tessa Leigh Derfner is a writer and director in New York City. She is currently in the midst of life as a New York Teaching Fellow!  This is her first year as a teacher which means she is afflicted with a cold or some other nefarious illness on a weekly basis as her immune system tries to keep up with the viral village otherwise known as a public school.

Elizabeth Meadows Rouse has been acting professionally for 20 years. She has worked all over the United States in top regional theaters and television. She was also was one of two American women to be invited to perform during the inaugural season of Shakespeare's Globe in London.  Elizabeth can be seen in more Little Bytes as the "Melville addict" in A Walk across Wall Street who has her book vandalized before she's tranquilized before she takes part in the first  Little Bytes kiss.

 

20Outtakes

 

Shortly after we finished posting the 46th Street tour, I walked the two miles again, and came up with the following unscientific tally.  I counted only buildings that touched 46th Street, and ignored stores and restaurants that weren't on the ground floor.  So, as of December 9, 2007:

 

Bank branches:                                         9            (additional bank branches visible during walk:  13.  According to New York

                                                                                     Magazine, there are 1,552 bank branches in the city.)

 

Starbucks:                                                  2            (additional Starbucks visible during walk:  4)

 

Duane Reade:                                             1            (additional Duane Reades visible during walk:  5)

Restaurants:                                              94          (over 30 on Restaurant Row alone...the block between Eighth and Ninth)

 

Public spaces:                                           5            (playgrounds and seating areas…I didn't include breezeways or the park                                                                                      at the U.N., because it's technically international soil and frequently                                                                                       roped-off anyway.)

 

Churches:                                                  4             (including the world's first steel frame church)

 

Schools:                                                     1

Laundry/Dry Cleaners:                            5

 

Stores:                                                      41

 

Corner delis:                                            2            (only 2 out of 60 corners!!)

 

U.N.-related organizations:                  6            (Consulates, missions, centers, etc:  Turkey, Venezuela, Bahamas,                                                                                   Hong Kong, Botswana, Colombia...not including the U.N. itself.)

 

Office Buildings:                                      67        (From the sidewalk, it’s difficult to tell if a building is residential                                                                                  or commercial.)

                         

Apt. Buildings:                                         130       (Many of these are townhouses.)

 

Hotels:                                                       9

 

Nail, Hair Salon, Spa:                             11

 

Theaters:                                                  6

Scaffolding:                                             10          (These blend into the background for me so it's likely I missed half a

                                                                                  dozen.)

                                                                                   

Construction sites:                                  4

 

Storefronts CLOSED for business:    17

Parking lots or garages:                       21          (just on 46th!!)

 

 
 

 

©2007 Robert Westfield