New York City, November 2000

The highlight of the trip — other than seeing Andy and being with good friends, seeing the three shows, and eating great food — would be the excitement of watching some of the shooting of a new movie called “Vanilla Sky,” written and directed by Cameron Crowe, with assistant (son) Andrew Fischer. Of course, being able to watch Tom Cruise in action was a big plus.

We left Tampa on Wednesday the 8th, arriving in New York with just enough time to have dinner at one of our favorite Asian restaurants called Dish of Salt, which is right around the corner from the Doubletree, where we were to stay.

The view from our 29th floor window looked right onto Times Square, and its garden of incredible colors, signs, crowds of people and a sea of yellow cabs. Even on the 29th floor we could hear the harsh sounds of horns honking, and almost always a siren trying to get itself through the tangle of traffic.
We were lucky to catch up with Andy on Thursday morning, when he came to the hotel for a late breakfast. He looked a little tired — the hours for his work on this movie seem to be endless, but he enjoys it nevertheless.
Andy headed back to work and we retired to read the paper and catch up with our friends Bob and Marilyn Hosenfelt, for a lunch at the Stage Deli. On the way there we passed some strange, cabbage-looking flowers that turned out to be just that — kale. What a useful and beautiful display. I was surprised some of the street people weren’t harvesting them for their dinners. Perhaps they didn’t know the flowers were really vegetables.
Ken, with Bob and Marilyn Hosenfelt
Ken and Shannon, resting among the cabbages
We had early dinner at a place called Vince and Eddie’s, an Italian restaurant supposedly just three blocks from the Lincoln Center and the Vivian Beaumont theater, where we would see our first show — Contact. It was raining lightly when we started our walk to the theater (none of us had brought umbrellas), and it was more than sprinkling when we got there. The Lincoln Center may have been three blocks from the restaurant, but the theater was way across an open rotunda and we were wet by the time we got there. The show was “interesting,” — a three-act series of stories around dance. The last third was the longest and the dancing was swing. Ken enjoyed the show the most; the rest of us liked the last part.

Leaving the theater was tough — the rain was pelting everyone and cabs were nowhere to behold. Ken found a fellow selling cheap umbrellas for $10, and I was grateful to have it. We had arranged for a driver to pick us up, and he was there, thank goodness, though we probably had to walk four blocks to get where he could park. We were mostly soaked. You can see how the rain wrinkled the playbill.

We planned an early lunch for Friday, since we would be going to a wonderful restaurant for dinner and then another show. We chose Katz deli, on Houston St. near the Orchard Street shopping area. Andy took the subway and met us there. After lunch the five of us shopped Orchard street, where I was happy to find a lined coat. Ken bought gloves. Andy, who is expert at getting around the city, guided us back to our hotel by subway. We split at one juncture and he headed back to his hotel and more work, hoping to join us for dinner.
At this Katz’s deli, the famous line from “When Harry Met Sally,” — “I’ll have what she’s having,” — was shot. Lots of famous people have been here, and pictures line the walls.
At the subway station, happy to have figured out how to get back to Times Square.
Andy and his friend Scott Martin had been invited to join us at one of our favorite steak houses — Ben Benson’s. Due to circumstances beyond their control (work), neither could make it. So, the four of us enjoyed a great meal. Both Bob and Ken had fried chicken, of all things, one of their specialties.
We had tried to get tickets for Aida, but had been told it was sold out. Once in New York, we discovered hotels have their own cache, and the hotel concierge was able to get us four seats for Friday night.

This is the story of Aida, taken from Verdi’s opera, with the songs written by Elton John and the words by Tim Rice. The settings were spectacular, the story good, and the music enjoyable but not memorable.

If you know Aida, it’s the story of a general (white) who is betrothed to a princess, the daughter of Pharoah, but falls in love with a captured Nubian slave (black), who is herself a princess and daughter of the king of Nubia. Of course, the story does not go well, and the two lovers are ultimately buried alive together. In this American version, they meet again in current times at an Egyptian exhibit (probably in New York).

Veteran's Day Parade

Saturday morning was to be a time of shopping. We headed East and almost immediately encountered the Veteran’s Day parade. Seems as if every time we’re in NYC, there is a parade. We stopped and watched for awhile.
Bagpipes are in every parade, I think. St. Pat's in the background.
The Mayor himself!
New York's Finest — the NYPD
On the way back to the hotel, to get ready for our afternoon show, I bought a telephone for my car. In case you ever think you need to get me and I am likely to be in my car, the number is
941 928-0423.

We also saw the beginning of the decorating of the Christmas tree at Rockerfeller Center. It really is just one great big tree. (I’m always surprised at how small the ice skating rink is.)

In the afternoon on Saturday we saw a show called Dirty Blonde, which is about Mae West. It was written by the lady who played Mae, and acted only by two other fellows. It was very well done. If it had not been for my gracious husband who switched places with me, however, I would not have seen the show, since a 700-pound giant (seemed to me), was sitting in front of me.
Dinner was at Sammy’s, in the Bowry — one of our favorites that Bob and Marilyn introduced us to several years ago. It’s a wonderful traditional Jewish restaurant, using chicken fat to make an absolutely delicious chopped liver, with pickles, pickled tomatoes, grilled green peppers, a wonderful and large breaded veal chop, latkes, and, of course, egg cremes. All of this is washed down with ice-cold vodka from a bottle nestled in its own block of ice. The menu is larger than I just described, but those are my favorites. Tough for the heart, but great for the spirit.

"The Shoot"

Sunday was to be an exciting day. Andy told us that the police would be blocking off the streets in Times Square at about 6 a.m. (still dark), so that they could do some run-throughs .
The four of us appeared on the street at about 6:30 and met Andy, who told us what was going to happen and where to stand. (I had always thought people were kept away from the scene because they didn’t want stray folks to suddenly appear in the shot. That is one reason, but the big one is that the actors really do not need to have the distractions of people, cameras clicking, etc.; in fact flash pictures are prohibited because the flash is picked up by their delicate cameras).

We didn’t get to say hello to Cameron Crowe, whom we met when they were filming “Almost Famous” in LA, but we did say hi to Scott, Andy’s friend, who is an associate producer.

Scott Martin, associate producer, Cameron Crowe, writer, director, Andy Fischer, Assistant to Cameron Crowe
The thought of the streets at Times Square being totally deserted was mind boggling, but they did it. In fact, when we woke around 5:30, the sounds of the street that never go away, went away! Spooky.
As we arrived they were shooting some stills for early advertising, of Tom Cruise and Penelope Cruiz. She left soon after and it was all Tom’s show.
Andy introduced us to Danny Bramson, who is a music editor, and was the music editor for “Almost Famous,” as well as this new film. He is a good friend of Cameron’s.
Close-up and long shot of the crane that would raise the camera to get the long shots.
We weren't that close to seeing Tom Cruise, but this is a monitor that was set up on the sidelines. Here Tom has gotten out of his car and is looking down Broadway, trying to understand what has happened.
The Broadway scene starts with Tom driving slowly in his Ferari.
He eventually gets out of his car and runs toward the Nasdaq building. This is a picture of him running back to the car for a second take. He's really in good shape and runs like a rabbit!
The shoot lasted a lot longer than we did. Our feet and hands were cold and so we gave it up when I ran out of film in my camera. According to Andy, the shoot continued throughout the morning, getting some interesting footage at the Nasdaq building.

Places we visited in Manhatten

The Hosenfelts left on Sunday, so we just rested the remainder of the day. We were lucky to be able to have dinner with Andy at our hotel that last evening. He looked pooped, but said they were pleased with the day’s efforts.

Monday a.m. it was up and packing, to return to Tampa where our car would pick us up. As usual, Missy was at the helm. She and Krikit both were glad to see us at home; they had missed us. A great trip in a great city.