Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My Friend Bobby

Lady Gaga's meat dress at the VMA show Sunday made me hungry. Animal rights didn't cross my mind when I saw her wrapped in beef, but puff pastry did. Beef WELLINGTON!! yes, that's what I want!

When I think of beef wellington I immediately envision Gordon Ramsay (wellington is always on the menu at Hell's Kitchen) and Bobby Van's. I am a regular at Bobby's or BV, as I call it, and while I usually have a glass of Red Red at the bar and devour all the olive loaf sourdough bread they have, on Monday night it was raining, and I was not in a hurry to get I had dinner.

My first pass at the menu tempted me because they had black bean soup - I LOVE their black bean soup and my affinity for it is so well known among the staff that I actually get a call at my office when they have it. They know I will come running and they always save me a bowl, but with Gaga fresh in mind I was not dreaming of soup - I was thinking of meat headdresses.

Initially I was disappointed because wellington was was not on the menu - but like I said, I'm a regular - so I mentioned that I was craving wellington and the top notch staff made it happen. Only the visitors order from the menu :) I'm part of the BV family.

It is hard to review BV, it would be like reviewing a favorite Aunts dinner she made just for me, so if your experience with BV is anything but wonderful its because you have not yet joined the inner circle, but once you are there - look out! Not only will your every meat fantasy be fulfilled and your wine glass never empty but you will get to know a great group of hard working staff that gets to watch finance guys throw their money around and have the amazing ability to seem impressed by people they really are not impressed by.

Bobby's is a steakhouse - you don't eat at a steakhouse by the stock exchange unless you have a desire for a power trippin' ego (hello I'm there). But Bobby's is not exactly current. It's not new money it's old money or the mid level money (which is still rich by my standards) the Gordon Gekko wanna-be or has-been's fill the tables. This is the original Wall Street, not the sequel. But stop by and watch the power lunch at noon or power drinks at five. You can have a man meal of slab bacon and the salad is not healthy. I'll be there with my Red Red watching the dynamic and enjoying the fact that while I am not a finance wiz who attends the Robin Hood Foundation gala, I am treated like one by Bobby.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Yesterday was Broadway on Broadway and as the annual live theatre commercial commences in Times Square a show from last season comes to mind. It comes to mind because I’m still disappointed by it. Come Fly Away should have been my favorite theatre experience; it had all the ingredients that I cherish – dance, great music, a sexy cast and a vintage look. When I bought the ticket I remember anxiously placing it on my mantel positioned to be seen every time I walked in the door. Music by Sinatra, dance by Twyla – this is a woman who made Billy Joel songs make theatrical sense - I could not contain my excitement thinking about how powerful the show was going to be with songs already ripe for the Broadway stage.

Come Fly Away ended up being an example of a great idea on paper that never lived up to the concept. What was it, what has left such a bad taste in my memory? I still feel the disappointment in my theatre/dance fan soul.

The story – was there one? Lets first acknowledge that dance is the hardest medium to communicate story because without words the clarity must come from exposed inner emotion and physical presence and that is…well…on the verge of impossible. It is easy to say; “I love you”, but try and dance “I love you” so clearly that an audience watching can see and feel and essentially hear “I love you”.

Thinking about this show and pondering the disappointment it left me with I’ve come to believe that it went wrong with the very songs I was excited to hear. Twyla leaned too much on the songs to tell the story and not enough on the dance.

Sinatra music is not cryptic. His songs mean what they are saying and say what they mean…much like the man himself. His catalogue is not ripe with metaphor rather it’s as sharp as a pinpoint. And that may have been the problem. Mixing songs that define themselves by their clarity with modern dance that is inherently obtuse is a noble challenge but the dance must be so competitive with the music that it can match all the familiarity a popular song automatically brings otherwise the song will naturally out perform or at the very least out entertain the movement, which happened.

Sinatra gives you meaning on a vocal silver platter where Twyla’s style is to be more of an artistic challenge, giving the audience the control to interpret meaning. Sinatra does not like to be interpreted he likes to be complemented.

Sinatra and Twyla would only have come together after his death. I can’t imagine her artistic nature and lifestyle jiving with his women, fame, drinks and play. They both worked hard, but their process to art is opposite and that difference is evident even though Sinatra was long gone long before this show came to life.

I hope that in the future Twyla or whomever gets the rights to work with the Sinatra catalog can enhance the legend rather then bow in reverence to it. Sinatra liked people who could keep up…keep that in mind when you work with him.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

To enjoy the Paley Center for Media you need to be the type of person who would pass up a perfect blue-skied summer Saturday to watch TV pilots. You need to have memories from childhood where you would turn down trips to the zoo because Hello Dolly was on A&E (they used to play arts and entertainment on that channel). Did you get a subscription to TV Guide for your 12th birthday and think it was a great gift? Did you cry for hours when your Dad canceled the cable? If so, come join me at our temple the house of worship for all things television (ok, now it’s media, but when I started going there it was a television and radio museum).

I am this type of person and for me and my fellow TV junkies this is our club house our home to congregate and discuss the varied television acting career of Bill Smitrovich and the hits and misses of Jim Burrows. We are people who bought Alan Alda’s biography (it was in the bargain bin, so sue me it was good) and are willing to sacrifice an entire weekend watching every single Oscar nominated documentary for a given year. We are the nomads going from channel to channel in search of greatness!

We are a crazy but dedicated bunch, dedicated to the American art form of television. To laugh track or not to laugh track – that is the question.

I retreat to the Paley Center when I want to feel enveloped by history, story or culture. I guess you could say it’s my security blanket – always comfortable and inviting. It is darkened screening rooms, big chairs and a library that you have to experience to believe.

I recommend visiting the Paley Center because most of the time television is bad, but when it’s good it is magical and this center is dedicated to preserving and showcasing that magic.

At the Paley Center there is always something good on TV.