The Broadway Itch

Musical theatre makes every campy bone in my body, sing and dance. It soothes my soul and stimulates my creative nerves.

Upon returning home to New York from my California holiday, I caught a dreadful cold. I opted to stay in my apartment and feast on Wonton soup. While noshing the night away on the Chinese comfort staple, I kept sneezing and coughing. “Oy, this cold has me all sorts of light headed. Something has to revitalize my aching self,” said I.

“Consider yourself at home. Consider yourself part of the family,” sang the familiar voice. “Oh it’s Oliver, I love that musical, declared I. Rather than dwelling on my cooties, I reveled in evening full of famous Tony awards performances and Broadway musical soundtracks. Book of Mormon, Cabaret, A Chorus Line, Fiddler on the Roof, Little Shop of Horrors and Kinky Boots, I heard at least one number from all those delightful musicals, while sick in bed.

The next day, I developed a serious condition. I was able to make it into the office, but I had an itch. As I listened to even more show tunes, I realized, “oy, I know what I have. It’s the Broadway Itch. The itch derives from a severe craving to watch a wonderful Broadway show.

That day, the craving intensified, as my cold subsided. I eventually finished the day, listening to the Hedwig & The Angry Inch soundtrack. “Oy, this music is just wonderful. Maybe, I should just go to the box office and pray they have a cheap ticket for Hedwig. That’s it, I’ll just live on the edge for once,” said I.

I dashed crosstown to the Belasco theatre. “Hi, what’s the cheapest ticket for Hedwig tonight? I asked the gentleman at the box office. “Our cheapest ticket is rear balcony at $50 dollars, he replied. “I’ll take it, declared I with great excitement.

While sitting in the zoo, which is Times Square (waiting for the show), I stared at my ticket. “Gee, I really do love spontaneity,” said I. Excitedly, I walked back to the theatre. Audiences lined outside the theatre with great anticipation. I stared at a sea of fancy dresses and ties. “Opps, I am wearing a polo, sneakers and black jeans. I feel awkward,” said I.

With a touch of cheekiness, I shrugged off my casual outfit. “I am here. I am queer and ready to see a wonderful show. Besides, I am wearing all black; nobody will notice, said I. Journeying to the top balcony, my eyes twinkled in the ornate old world theatre. Thanks to my show-tunes loving condition, I am about to have a memorable life experience.

Our main actor arrived with great grandeur on stage, as the band played. “Oh this show is so much better than I expected, said I with the music intensifying. Suddenly, I felt an itch. This wasn’t the campy kind of itch. “Oy, my throat, I want to cough,” said I.

The stage went silent. “Oy, don’t cough. It’s one of those interactive shows. This actor will probably call me out for coughing in the midst of a monologue, ” said I internally. I became fixated as the itch in the back of my throat became increasingly unbearable. “Happy thoughts Annie, Oliver, the Phantom of the Opera, don’t cough, warned I.

On stage, the loud music returned after a touching monologue. I let out a small cough then cleared my throat. The itch slowly subsided. After clearing my throat one more time, I survived a possible coughing spree. The show ended.

While the actors took a bow, everyone stood up to give them a proper standing ovation. “I survived a night at the theatre without coughing up a lung. Go me,” I declared.

I power walked toward Times Square. My heart went piter patter as Broadway Marquis blinded the pupil. “This is why I love living in New York. I could have spontaneous evening at the theatre,” said. Not even the overcrowded subway could diminish my Broadway high.

Even after curing my Broadway itch, a craving to see more shows was cemented. Naturally my campy spirit yearns for more show tunes to sooth the creative soul.

Pocketful of Show Tunes

Trekking through the snow-covered peaks wasn’t quite climbing Mount Everest, but remained an expedition, nonetheless. Was this a trip to Tibet? Or even Switzerland, you ask? No, this was schlepping it from my apartment to the subway in New York City.

It was truly an adventure, as the sidewalks drowned in a sea of ice and snow. The city had the feel of an Antarctica-like wonderland. Though, the snow was a challenge, it also beautified neighborhoods.

Trees, which lost their leaves in the dead of winter, were re-born. Snow magically painted the deadness with charm. However, the snow would soon play a significant role in my next New York adventure. Like any good New Yorker, I headed to work regardless of weather. I barely made into my train and miraculously found a seat.

My dilemma of the morning was quite intense. “Do I want to listen to Rent?” or should I go with ” Chicago?” Rent it is, I said myself. The 3 train went express, somewhere between from “Out Tonight” and “Today 4 U” (from Rent, naturally), The train stopped. “Oh well, I thought, I have a seat and shit happens. There’s probably train traffic. “Moving on,” I said to myself.

“Uh-oh, something doesn’t feel right,” I proclaimed. The train stood at a standstill. As New Yorkers stared at each other bewildered. My therapist’s voice came to visit me, “just relax and focus on things that make you happy.” I quickly changed songs.

I’ve always loved listening to Carol Channing. Like any good musical theatre aficionado, I put “Hello Dolly” on repeat. “Happy thoughts, happy thoughts,” I said to myself.

“Ladies and gentlemen this train is down due to electrical malfunction. We are trying to figure out a way to get back to 96th street, said the conductor.” There I sat bewildered. “Oh my, the only thing that could make this tolerable would be Carol Channing magically appearing to sing “Hello Dolly” in my honor. Yeah, that didn’t happen.

However, if you’re going to get stuck on the subway with very little ventilation, it’s good to have eye candy.  There they were, the archetype for attractive gay male couples. Of course, they kept they train entertained with their every witty one-liners. They were cute, until reality set in. I was stuck on the subway.

Miraculously, the train returned to 96th street and we were all evacuated. Both the Seventh Avenue lines (downtown/uptown) were down. I decided to bus it crosstown. I navigated through the Upper West Side, which was filled with Ice, snow and slush, oh my. ” Then, while waiting to cross the street. “Splash,” I was covered in ice water. Thanks to a very large SUV.

Nevertheless, I continued the great schlep to 86th street. I found solid snow to walk on, but inevitably there were nice puddle to fall into. I made it to the bus stop. ” Shit, no bus,” I couldn’t wait around, since I was headed to the office. With reluctance, I walked on 86th toward Central Park West.  I jumped on a B train to Rockefeller Center. Quickly, (or as quick as a local train moves) I arrived at (surprise) close to my destination.

I had never been so thrilled to see Midtown and bolted east. After being splashed again with icy/slushy water on Park Avenue, I made it to the office in one piece.

Drawing With Crayons

In autumn, the brightly colored pumpkins lining brownstones from the West Village to Harlem liven up the grey infused sidewalks of New York. As cold winds rush through the canyons of skyscrapers, a new season is marked.

No other place exhibits the theatrical change of season better experienced than (shockingly), Central Park. When Mother Nature takes a magical crayon and paints the park in orange hues, it not only changes the verdant green grounds, but also represents a new chapter in life.

For the New York singleton, the cold front signifies the special need for a cuddle buddy to make the cold nights cozier. This New York singleton (yours truly) only had one thing on his mind.

“I’d like a large hazelnut coffee, hot, said I on the first day, where temperatures dipped into the low 50’s. The transition from cold to hot coffee has always marked the welcoming of the fall season.

On a typical weekday morning at the deli, I put on my earphones and drifted into the land of musical melodies. “I want you to want me” by Cheap Trick randomly played. “Wow, this is one of the best songs ever,” was my initial reaction.

I glanced up, as the song played and in walked “Mr. Matinee Idol, a beautiful serving of beef cake. He was traditionally handsome. Although I wandered as he strolled in. What is his personality like? He didn’t have smiling eyes, but a stern demeanor.

In my head it didn’t matter. To me, he walked in, while one of the best love songs of all time played. “Wow, is this is some sort of coincidence? Or is life throwing me signs? I pondered while scarfing down a bagel.

The next morning, I was at the same deli (eating the same bagel/coffee combo), when “mad about you” by Belinda Carlisle played. “What happened, while this song played?” you ask? As predicted, Mr. Matinee Idol strolled in. I was mentally dumbfounded. He kept walking in, every time I jammed to a romantic song.

“That’s it, tomorrow, if he walks in while another love song plays, it really is a sign” was my analytical assumption and secret hope of what would happen next.

“Isn’t it ironic? Don’t you think?” He walked in, while that “Ironic” (by Alanis Morisette) song played on my iPod. That was life just having a laugh. Although, I didn’t pursue a budding romance, the musical accompaniment to his appearances delighted me.

 

 

Pop Music State Of Mind

My evening walks are legendary. I freely walk the streets of New York. With a comfortable pair of sneakers and an iPod full of tunes, I have many amazing and whimsical moments while strolling the pavements.

There’s the jazz band serenading pedestrians in the Village. Fur, real and faux dominating the narrow & gritty sidewalks of the East Village. The smell of hot dogs, street meat and chestnuts dominate the corporate landscape of Union Square. While on the Upper West Side, older intellectual types stroll stylishly, seeking the next great opera performance at Lincoln Center.

Then there are the walks out of necessity. Trying to save a couple bucks a month, I decided to walk from my apartment in the east 20’s to work in Midtown(I’ve always taken the subway to the office). Everything was quite charming.

There were old senior citizens off for their morning bagel & coffee. School kids rushing from the perfectly manicured apartment blocks of Gramercy Park. New Yorkers rushing in and out of the subway, making their way into office buildings in the shadow of Grand Central Station. However, I loved the feeling of quickly arriving at work, rather than taking a leisurely stroll.

Therefore, I buckled down & bought a metro card. My first day not walking reminded that “wow, the subway is really a sardine can.” However, nothing could prepare me for what happened next. After grabbing the L train and transferring to the 4 express train at Union Square, The unthinkable happened. “Oh no, I am on a downtown train. I am supposed to go uptown to Grand Central.”

I was secretly hoping that the doors would open and could escape quickly. However, as the train pulled away, I huffed and puffed. I was nervous about running late. After all, I’ve never been tardy for anything (ok, not including Spanish class one time in high school). My breathing intensified. I got a couple of stares, as I appeared to be giving birth to a proper meltdown.

In order to keep myself in happy, pretend “I am strolling the West Village mood,” I used my secret relaxation tool. Pop music has always put a smile on my face. Hence, to make my life campier than a Doris Day movie, I actually played Taylor Swift on my iPod.

I don’t know any of her songs. There’s one song of hers I adore. So, I drifted away into a world of poppy land, where stress only occurs after breaking up with an insanely hot guy. Slowly, I felt less intense.

After a couple unexpected stops on the express train to Brooklyn Bridge, I finally arrived at the subway station. I quickly changed trains and made my way back to Union Square, where my journey began. Not only did I make it to work on time, I re-discovered the beauty of cheesy music. My new life motto, rock out to cheesy pop tunes, it’ll take the stress always.

The 6 Train Symphony

Union Square station is zing zag of subway lines, power walkers and outdoor advertisements. In the midst of busy meets busy is a bit of relief. Radiohead serenades me as I schlep my heavy grocery bags through the subway station. The unthinkable happens. ” Fuck, shit, fuck,” I proclaim. “My iPod is out of juice.” This is a crisis, which faces many New Yorkers on a daily basis.

Then an angel descends. Appearing like David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust alter ego and old school Madonna from the 80’s, this angel is highly androgynous. He/she walks toward me. ” No child of mine will ever be without musical stimulation,” says the androgynous angel who sounds very much like Louis Armstrong. Radiohead fades, but something magical romances my ears.

As Union Square station becomes more frenetically pace, as does the beating of drums. The sound compliments the environment like Simon to Garfunkel. The drums beat louder and louder. I walk down to the 6-train platform to investigate. The most jaded of New Yorkers are gathered and equally intrigued by the beating of drums. However, these aren’t you’re ordinary rock n’ roll drums, but buckets.

They beat the buckets creating an extraordinary soundtrack. I stare intrigued. “Buckets, why didn’t I think of that?” The sound also compliments the roar of the subway and the unexpectedly musical sound of the train beating against the tracks. “Wow, for once I’m glad my iPod ran out of juice,” I thought to myself, while almost dancing to the pulsating rhythms.

The New York City subway has it’s own soundtrack. There is the Doo-wop band at the 51st street station. The morning Mariachi band serenade commuters with tales of old Mexico. A jazz musician plays George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in blue” providing a more quintessentially New York sounds.

Not enjoying our favorite song on the iPod can be near tragic. However, New York will never have a day without music, thanks to the city’s street musicians. They keep musical tastes diverse and even bring an avant-garde quality to a see that’s seen it all. The androgynous musical angel smiles brightly above Gotham.

Preppy Couture

Lincoln Center is New York’s high culture nerve. However, twice a year, celebrities, fashionistas, photographers, socialites and journalists turn the Manhattan legend upside down for fashion week.

The ballet and opera take a back seat for thumping rhythms of tribal, rock and even hip-hop music. Models strut the runway with the styles, which not only influences New York, but the world.

However, I’ve never been to fashion week, only read about it via the New York Times style section. Whether, I’m shopping for groceries or going to a museum, creating my own style is fundamental to my character.

I love strolling, the plaid friendly streets of the Lower East Side & East Village, in a tie and cardigan. Bringing a bit of Uptown preppy is always a delight in even the most trendy of neighborhoods.

I thought so one-day “”Is one fashion item too preppy?”  In New York’s unpredictable weather, I tried something daring. While strolling on the Upper West Side wearing my usual cardigan get up, I felt quite warm. I took off my cardigan, but didn’t know where to place it. I always thought that the sweater/cardigan over the shoulder look was too preppy. With muggy weather looming, I took a risk.

I put the cardigan over my shoulder and tied it up. Then realized that I was walking along 66th & Broadway where preppy is perfectly accepted. I looked at my reflection at a shop window and thought “ok, I avoided this look for a long time, but it’s actually quite charming.”

In the shadow of fashion week’s home (Lincoln Center), I created a new style for myself. I looked like the world’s most preppy boy, but loved every minute of it. Soon, I wore the style more often.

Fashion is about taking risks & also embracing traditional looks. Though, I’m not the edgiest dresser, I certainly found my own style on the sidewalks of New York.

Underground Show

Music is the lifeblood for my right-sided brain. David Bowie, Blondie, Velvet Underground, Elvis Costello, the Ramones and Madonna supply stimulation while I work on creative endeavors.

New York rock bands from the early 60’s and the 70’s capture my interest. I was always sad that I never had the chance to visit CBGB’s, while it was still a piece of Downtown Manhattan’s quirky collage. However, the bands that emerged from the legendary venue live in my music collection.

While CBGB’s has been replaced with a pricey, John Varvatos shop, life south of 14th street still has a great music scene. For the longest time, I spent all my time downtown and didn’t walk into any music venues. One faithful Saturday night that changed.

Gino phoned me and asked, “Do you wanna see a show in the Lower East Side tonight?” I replied “I’m already in my pajamas.” With a little laughter, he said ” there are going to be half well off drinks.” I walked to my closet to pick out an outfit. “I’ll see you in 30 minutes.”

I took the subway to the Lower East Side and waited for Gino outside the Cake Shop (a coffee shop with an underground concert space). Waiting outside the venue was a parade of hip people. Black rim glasses, quirky style and a bit of irony were the fabric tied to the scene that night. I looked down at the horse at the left hand side of my shirt. “Oh, I’m definitely bringing preppy back.”

Gino met me and we walked downstairs to the show. It was packed, thanks to the drink specials, but I actually was excited to see the band. I hadn’t gone too many concerts.

After, Gino picked us up drinks, the band played. They had a distinctive New York rock band sound. It was Julian Casablanca meets Vampire Weekend. Thanks to my half off drink, I found myself jamming, even with my little horsey, distinguishing me as the lone prep.

I might have missed CBGB, but wow, this was truly fun entertainment. After the show, I felt excited. Not only did I have a fun time, but also did something out of the ordinary. I haven’t gone to many concerts since, but would be open for more fun.

Today, I have a concert playing in my head almost hourly. My favorite music listening experience revolves around ordering a chai latte, blasting Bjork on my iPOD and freely strolling the Lower East Side. It’s my form of creative therapy. Cheers to more loud music and booze.

Ear Candy

When I slip in the runway of life, music is there to pick me up. Amazing tunes can make a gloomy day, bright and cheerful.

My ears revel in the sweet sounds of pop, rock, new wave, jazz and even hip-hop. Something finally inspired me to drop the earphones.

It was a chilly autumn evening in New York. The leaves were a distinct hue of gold and orange. While, the city reveled in a cold front, I took a walk on the Upper West Side.

That evening, I too enjoyed the chill, but felt blue. My walk was an attempt to elevate my low mood levels. As, I walked on Amsterdam Avenue ; my ears were mesmerized by the sound of piano playing. The persistent melody grew stronger, the closer I was to it.

Revelers had their ears glued to the back of the Beacon theatre. The voice sound familiar. “I wonder who it is?” I thought to myself. Walking to the Beacon’s Broadway entrance, I looked up at the marquis. It was Elton John.

A simple stroll led to unexpectedly hearing a music icon play live. The experience brightened up my mood. I returned to my apartment with a craving to hear “tiny dancer” on my iPOD. When one has a tough day, listening to music is better than candy.

Mixtape

Friday nights growing up in the 90’s revolved around trips to Costco with my parents. We always bought a huge pizza and brought it home. I’d eat pizza, put on some funky film like Pulp Fiction and lower the volume on the TV down to zero.

I’d then turn on the radio. Friday nights were special. It was the 80’s music marathon on the local radio station. I took out a fresh blank tape from my backpack, slipped it into the radio and waited for a cool song to come on. When that special song came on, I waited for the announcer to stop talking and boom, hit record.

I would then close my eyes as Durran Durran, the Pet Shop Boys, Thompson Twins and Adam Ant would take me away to London in the 80’s. In my head, I was on the top of a double-decker bus in the grey. With the only color being that of the funky hairdos and outrageous outfits of 80’s London. As the song faded, there were commercial breaks. This meant I could sneak in a slice of pizza.

When the music returned it played even more fun tunes. Dramarama’s “anything anything,” “living on video” by Trans-X and Blondie’s “heart of glass” were some of my all time favorite songs, featured on my mix tape. These songs along with all the British new wave, 90’s staples like the Cranberries and hip-hop were a part of the soundtrack of my youth.

In my junior year of college, my friend Holly introduced me to the iPod. I marveled at it and quickly purchased one of my own. I still had the mix tapes at home. However, after a year I gave them up and recreated the soundtrack of my youth through the iPod.

Today, tapes like vinyl records are a source of fascination. Many youngsters will never understand the magic behind the rewind button. However, those of us who grew up with mix tapes, will forever remember the joy found when that song we longed for finally came on the radio and with the record button, it became ours.

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