Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Aren't you whoozis?

You guys! You guys! A few nights ago I was crossing 57th Street at 8th Avenue, which I do at least once a day -- by the way, memo to whoever's responsible for traffic-law enforcement: that would be a really great intersection to have somebody ticketing drivers for running red lights, because they could catch at least one offender every single time the lights change. It would be easier than giving out parking tickets, and a much greater service to the city. But I digress. I was crossing 57th Street at a trot, because the "Don't Walk" hand was flashing, and mentally commending the folks on the other side of the street for noticing when it stopped flashing and deciding to wait for the next "Walk" signal, rather than venture out into intersection and snarl traffic even more. And then I realized that one of those people was - no kidding - Stephen Sondheim! The man himself!

"Did you say anything to him?" the fiance wanted to know, when I told him about my super-exciting "celebrity" sighting (I was on my way to his place at the time). But no, I didn't bother him, because while passing him on the street was the highlight of my day, I figure he doesn't need (or want) to know that. My guess is that he'd prefer to study the zigzaggy Hearst Tower (which he and his companion did as they waited for the light to change) in peace. Of course, I stared -- from a discreet distance -- and I'm blogging about it now, so I'm not saying I'm cool or anything.

Once, years ago, Jason Robert Brown passed me on the street, and that was pretty exciting. I'd actually met him a few years before that (at Yale), which was much more exciting. I didn't have anything for him to sign but my copy of Audra McDonald's album Way Back to Paradise -- in those days I was still listening to Parade on a dubbed tape (which I eventually wore out and replaced with the legit CD) and any other appropriate paraphernalia was in my bedroom at home. But he graciously signed the booklet from Audra's CD on the "Stars and the Moon" lyrics page, and I skipped off looking for someone to show it to. Of course, all the other people on campus who would have been impressed were in line behind me for autographs of their own. But still: exciting, right? And this year I topped even that, as you know, when I had the privilege of interviewing him (via phone) about 13. I mention all this because I just now read this little essay he posted on his blog back in July, about the peculiar experience of being "anonymous to the vast majority of the planet Earth" but, at the same time, "really famous to about four hundred people." It's an entertaining read, with all the insight and candor you expect from JRB.

What about you: Have you ever met/run into anybody who was a major celebrity in your eyes (but less so in the world at large)? Did you say hello, or merely squee internally? Did you regret your decision later?

And speaking of reasons to visit jasonrobertbrown.com: a friend now in London emailed me to ask what theatre I would recommend seeing. (How jealous am I?) Naturally, I told her I'd drop everything to see the Donmar Warehouse production of Parade. If you'd have said the same thing, you should read JRB's latest blog post, which details the revisions they've made to the show.


Pop Greene said...

Back in the early 1970s, while walking on Park Avenue, I passed Howard Cosell. This was at the time he was doing Monday Night Football for ABC. I couldn't believe how tall he was--somehow that kept me from even managing to say a simple hello as he walked quickly by me.

Now here's the tie in to the Restricted View blogger. It was the same Howard Cosell who announced at 9:30 PM on 12/8/80, while broadcasting MNF, that John Lennon had been killed.

And another tie, the game was the Miami Dolphins against, you guessed it, the New England Patriots!

Sarah said...

How too exciting -- I can't believe you didn't at least say hello, or give him a nod of acknowledgement (or invite him to your wedding!)
As far as celebs go, aside from underwhelming sightings of Janine Garofalo in the East Village or Matthew Broderick in a cafe near his apartment, my only real "encounter" was the morning I was crossing 49th and 8th on my way to work and looked up at a passing woman just in time to notice that she was carrying the infamous Mr. Winkle. (If I knew how to insert a hyperlink here, I would. All photographs of him are utterly ridiculous and worth sharing with your readers.) The sighting tickled me to no end, as I'd been given Winkle's World calendars by friends for years (did I have one on Roosevelt Island?) and still refused to believe that he was an actual, living, breathing dog -- even after his guest spot on Sex and the City! My excitement had died down by the time I reached my office and shared the elevator with a man who sadly informed me that his family was currently stranded as a result of the ongoing Hurricane Katrina. Yikes.


P.S. On a completely un-related note, I visited your Alma Mater this past weekend! I waved to Saybrook for you during my informal tour. It was lovely.

Carol Diehl said...

I've had occasion to work with a lot of celebrities and thought I was immune, but several years ago I went away (to near Worcester, MA, of all places)for a week of ayurvedic health treatments found that, among only 10 or so other guests, George Harrison was there too. I have to admit to being barely able to sleep, knowing he was upstairs. I passed him in the hallway a couple of times, both of us wrapped in white terry bathrobes with towel turbans, and managed to say "Hello" in what I hoped was a normal voice. He said, "Hello" back. It was major.

Mollie said...

You saw George Harrison!!! Major is EXACTLY what that is. My sweet lord. George Harrison is one of a very small number of people I'd be even more excited to share sidewalk space with than I was about Stephen Sondheim... And now I'll never get to. That means you win!

Mary Pat said...

My best celebrity encounter was Derek Jeter! I was at a friend's bachelorette party a couple of weeks before my own wedding at a bar downtown and Derek Jeter was there. My other friend with me was not shy and kept trying to talk to him while I was just frozen since he was standing 2 feet away from me (I am a HUUUGE Yankees fan being from the Bronx and all). Finally, my talkative friend says to him, "this is my friend Mary Pat. She's getting married in 2 weeks!" He turned to me with a big smile and said "congratulations! I think you need a drink!" He turned to his "private table", mixed me a drink and handed it to me. I barely got "thank you" out and he just said "congratulations again!" I have a feeling he was so nice to me because I was the only girl within a 5 foot radius not actively trying to get his attention. And the coolest part was that he didn't make anyone else any drinks! That was the coolest celebrity encounter I will probably ever have!