Wednesday, May 11, 2011

This Is Why I Don't Work for TMZ

Image credit: Huffman, Todd. "Paparazzi." April 23, 2010
Recently my wife Pat and I received a rare treat: sitting in the live studio audience for the May 7th Saturday Night Live show, where Pat's daughter works as a writer. We were able to shake the shackles loose for four days and have a great NYC experience. The SNL show - which is rumored to be the second-hardest ticket to get in town - was amazing. Even those who may be down on the current season as television viewers would have found the experience really rewarding, especially those of us who dabble in the technical theater side of things.

There were a lot of great moments during the trip, from a very cool Sunday AM in
Washington Square
in Greenwich Village, people watching and listening to a great NYU jazz combo, to riding bikes on a very crowded Hudson River Greenway. We ate our weight in great food, and I even took a half hour to sail one of the remote control sailboats in the Conservancy Waters in Central Park while taking pointers from a three-year old Polish boy. (I'm sure his instructions were crystal clear. I just didn't understand Polish.) The last main event was a fantastic dinner at Spice Market in Manhattan's Meatpacking District, which is what I will use for today's point:

Know thy culture, know thy surroundings.

First, if you ever do NYC and want to really treat yourself to an amazing dining experience, make two things: 1) reservations well in advance, and 2) additional room on your credit card. (It'll be worth it - trust me.) When you get there, keep your eyes open. We didn't know until about halfway through our dinner that this restaurant is a destination for those who are well-known, dare I say, even famous. I happened to look up as a series of strobe flashes went off outside of the main entrance for about three seconds. It took me a moment to know what this meant - paparazzi - before a trio walked in: a large body guard type, leading a pair who were wearing trendy fedoras. There was something vaguely familiar about the woman - an attractive blonde - but I figured that if this couple were REALLY FAMOUS, I would have recognized one or both of them. Since I didn't, I figured she was a socialite or someone who was nearly famous. The pair was ushered down stairs to a private room, and that was the last I saw of them. I should mention that my wife, who was sitting next to me, and her daughter and her boyfriend, sitting across from us, were in the middle of a discussion, so they didn't see any of this. I brought this to their attention when there was a break in the talk, but when they asked me what they looked like, I said "an attractive blonde woman and a guy in a goatee, wearing trendy fedoras." (That description merely eliminated only half of the population in Greenwich Village.) I assured them that I didn't think that they were REALLY FAMOUS, because if they were REALLY FAMOUS, I would have recognized them. We finished our meal while talking about other more important things.

At this point, I should mention that when there are reports of nearly famous to REALLY FAMOUS people out and about, there is a smaller band of alternative paparazzi that hang around with cameras at the rumored locations to catch a pic that they can keep for themselves or perhaps even sell for profit. I should also mention that they are about a step-and-a-half away from being full-fledged stalkers. To be polite, not all of them are in the best of mental health. It was one of this alternative paparazzo that plays a key role in this story, because of the question he asked us (more like shouted) as we left the restaurant:


See, I thought she looked familiar, but apparently she is not REALLY FAMOUS, because if she was REALLY FAMOUS, I would have ... recognized ...

Ah, I got nothin' at this point.

Apparently I need to relax my stance of never watching reality TV or paying attention to trendy things ... and perhaps listening to current music would assist me as well ... and reading the entertainment news might help, too ...

We laughed in the cab ride home that we had to rely upon a near-stalker to tell us that I saw Christina Aguilera and didn't know it. I wasn't certain that he was correct, considering the volume of his voice and the slurred speech, but we thought it was amusing.

The next morning, as we were waiting at the airport, I decided to see if I was really that vacuous. I Googled "Christina Aguilera dinner Monday May 9." Here is what I got:

From, May 9, 2011

Yup. That's them. That's who I saw.

I suppose there is something comforting about the fact that I don't drop everything when I see someone famous. You can also argue that if I would have recognized her, I may have come completely unglued and looked like a raving lunatic. The fact that I didn't gives me said earlier comfort.

I am also well over the fact that this lack of recognition of Ms. Aguilera makes me anything between "just shy of being hip" to "old geezer." (This freedom occurred many years ago when I dropped a "Captain Kangaroo" reference in my 9th grade class and not a single student knew who the hell I was talking about.) I can live with not being hip. When you teach high school, you're hip for about your first three or four months of your career. After that, no matter how you dress, what you listen to, or the references you drop in class, you're beyond hip. There's no great ceremony that comes with that, by the way. It just oozes over you, it's irreversable, and you're usually the last one to know about it.

So, when you go to NYC, spend a few weeks ahead of time boning up on the latest REALLY FAMOUS folks and their trade. Hopefully you'll come off looking better than I did.

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