Archive for November, 2007

A Table Talks About the Writers Guild Strike

November 16, 2007

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Not a table! The table! For I am the table everyone is talking about. “Come back to the table!” That’s what everyone wants the AMPTP and the WGA to do: COME BACK TO ME! Come back, sit down, let’s discuss your differences. Come back! For I am lonely. Someone turned out the lights, and it is dark and cold in here, and I am scared.

(Disclaimer: Don’t be confused, as the table pictured above is not me, but a fair representation of my clean lines and heft. I will not reveal my exact appearance or location; I do not want paparazzi bursting in with flashbulbs blaring, possibly dulling my finish.)

Come back to the table! Everyone is talking about me. Did I mention that I am bereft? The chairs are giving me the silent treatment because I have been getting all the attention. I’m sorry! I never intended to be a player on the national scene. I was happy to provide a smooth surface for elbow resting and support for an array of yellow legal pads. But then things got out of hand.

I remained calm when Lorna Doone crumbs were spat onto my surface—a result of disbelief at the stubbornness of management. But I had a calling: to bring sides together, to promote understanding, to separate enemies (I mean….uh…friendly adversaries) when bilateral strangulation seemed inevitable. Yes, I was a bit disturbed when Nick Counter jumped on top of me and started beating his chest like a wild chimp. But I kept my cool, even when Patric Verrone’s tears of frustration resulted in irreversible surface staining.

It’s been weeks since a fresh pitcher of crystal cool water has graced my faux-wood grain. I beg of you, AMPTP and WGA, come back to the table. Because the table misses you very much.

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Surreal Slumber Party

November 15, 2007

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Turner Classic Movies recently aired Woody Allen’s Sleeper. A post-view Googling session followed, and I learned two things. One: the voices of the Jewish Robot Tailors were performed by Jackie Mason (uncredited). Two: you can now rent the Sleeper House for one night at the rate of $2700-3900, depending on the number of guests. They throw in a limo ride, a screening of Sleeper, and a gourmet meal. Orgasmatron not included. (Or is it? Seems Woody Allen appropriated an existing elevator to serve as the Orgasmatron and it is still there. I’m sure that endless naughty jokes have been made in its presence.) There are other opportunities to visit this madly modernist mansion, as it is often rented out for parties. In early 2007, a yogathon was held on the property.

The house is located in the foothills just outside Denver, Colorado. It was designed by self-taught architect Charles Deaton and completed in 1966, but Deaton never lived in it. Woody Allen leased it out in May 1973 to serve as the home of earnestly pretentious poet and greeting card composer Luna Schlosser (played by Diane Keaton). In 1991, Deaton sold the quirky pad to California investor Larry Polhill for $800,000. At first Polhill was an enthusiastic owner, but he quickly lost interest and the place fell into disrepair. In 1999—after sitting vacant for years with broken windows and desert creatures taking up residence in its cozy curves—Polhill sold it to John Huggins, Denver’s director of economic development and a former streaming media honcho, for about $1.3 million. Huggins spent several million dollars on renovations, which included a 5,000 square foot addition, based on plans drawn up by Deaton. Huggins then put it on the market in 2002 for $10 million. When it wasn’t snatched up, he sold off 10 acres and re-listed it for $4.85 million. After four years on the market, a vacation entrepreneur and time-share reseller named Michael Dunahay finally bought it for $3.45 million…and actually moved in! He now lives there with his cat, Puff.

If you would like to learn more about the history of the “Sculptured House”, here are some handy links:

Article with lots of information about initial design and construction

San Diego Union-Tribune piece with history summary

Forbes article about John Huggins buying the house

Article about the restoration and expansion done by John Huggins

Flashy site marketing the house when it was for sale by Kentwood Realty

Article about sale to Michael Dunahay

Denver Daily News article about current owner Michael Dunahay

A Scarf’s View of the Writers Guild Strike

November 9, 2007

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I am Anne D. Bernstein’s scarf and I am one pissed-off accessory! Why? Well, I’ve been out on the Writers Guild picket lines in New York City this week, freezing my fibers off. And I have a big beef with the way the media has been portraying the writers. You see, the very first article in the New York Times to cover the pickets said that “…instead of hard hats and work boots, the people on the pickets had arty glasses and fancy scarves.” I would like to say that I was purchased at Century 21, and although I do not recall my exact price, as the receipt is long gone, I am quite sure that it was approximately six bucks. (In the interest of full disclosure, I believe she also picked up some black opaque knee-highs at the time.)

The point I am making is that I am not a fancy scarf; I am a modest scarf. I truly believe that the New York Times reporter had a preconceived angle: to portray the writers as rich, but how to do so? The reporter looked around. Now, writers are pretty schlubby dressers, in general. Lots of sneakers, and not the limited edition kind that go for thousands of dollars. No obvious trapping of wealth like fur coats and bling bling. A flash of insight! “I know! I will call their scarves FANCY! Thus implying that the writers are effete and spoiled and should not be demanding their share of new media revenues because they have enough money already.” (Since my owner does not wear glasses, someone else will have to step in to address the false and perhaps libelous portrayal of eye-wear.)

Now, there may have been some scarves in the crowd that embody an understated elegance, perhaps even a cushy cashmere in the bunch. But my point is that most writers in the WGA are not rich. It’s nice that some of them are, because they give everyone hope, and sometimes throw a party with cheese sticks or pick up a bar tab. But most WGA writers simply want to be compensated fairly. To make a decent living, collect some residuals during slow times, qualify for health insurance and a pension. The trying-to-make-ends-meet writers are out there walking alongside the writers who are actually recognized by the general public and some of whom are…um…well…rolling in the dough! Should we snub Larry David because he can afford a walk-in closet full of Nat Nast? Even vintage Nat Nast? I say nay! Unfortunately, the fact that some writers have a nice chunk of change in the bank has been used to unfairly categorized the whole sore-footed gang as fancy-scarf-wearing, latte-sipping potentates.

Well, enough from me for now. I will continue to report from the picket lines. If this strikes goes on for a while, I will be joined by co-commentators including a warm wool/poly hat and a pair of snow boots from Marty’s.

Manhattan More-Than-Survival Guide (#1)

November 1, 2007

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This is where I share my deep knowledge of the ins and outs and nooks and crannies of Manhattan Isle. It’s true that Gotham is adding more chain restaurants and flashy reflective condos every day, but it still manages to retain lovely eccentricities if you know where to look. So here goes:

HOW TO EAT A CHEAP LUNCH AT THE GRAND CENTRAL OYSTER BAR: Sit at one of the horseshoe-shaped Formica counters. Ask the harried-yet-kindly waitress for the “sandwich menu”. They will not offer you the “sandwich menu” unless you ask for it; they will hand you the giant-sized regular menu. So make this insider’s request and take pride in the fact that you are not a tourist. It is like saying “swordfish” and getting into a speakeasy. (By the way, swordfish runs $28.95.) Order the Oyster Po Boy, which only costs $8.25. (The bouillabaisse sandwich and fried fish sandwiches are even cheaper.) It is delicious and filling and possibly aphrodisiacal. If you are really broke, don’t order anything else and you can get out of there for ten bucks including a decent-but-not-great tip. I usually have an ice tea and that makes it $13 total. You will get a biscuit, some flatbread, and butter as a bonus. If you want to plan for the future, take advantage of the fact that they always toss many tiny bags of crackers on the counter for soup patrons, so you can grab some discretely on the way out and you’ll probably get away with it. Ladies: be sure to check out the powder room where there’s a couch that’s shaped like a pair of gigantic red lips. Very mod!

And while you’re in the neighborhood…

BEST PLACE TO BUY SHAMROCK STUFF IN AN OFFICE BUILDING LOBBY: If you have a hankering for Irish-themed gifties, exit Grand Central on the 42nd Street side, and pop over to visit CELTIC CROSSROADS in the Lincoln Building lobby at 60 East 42nd Street. This is also a good lobby to know about if you are one of those Luddites without a cel phone because they have a handy bank of pay phones for your use, as well as convenient Fed Ex and DHL self-serve drop boxes. And be sure to admire the Abraham Lincoln statue, cast from Daniel Chester French’s original model for the Lincoln Memorial. This building also houses Monohan Custom Tailors, which makes suits for such hard-to-fit celebs such as the towering Manute Bol.

NEXT TIME: Some particularly nice places to go to the bathroom on the Upper East Side!