Mondays on Memory Lane: HAPPY 89th BIRTHDAY LAUREN BACALL ! – On a cold night in May 2000, I waited by the stage door of Broadway’s Eugene O’Neill Theater in hopes of getting an autograph from one of Hollywood’s lasting screen icons, Bogie’s Baby – Lauren Bacall. Noel Coward’s “Waiting In The Wings” had drawn Bacall to the stage one last time. She still had the sleek smokey elegance, that high society feel, and of course, we were all hoping to hear the infamous smokey voice.
She commanded huge crowds, still after all these years. Rosemary Harris was her co-star but Bacall caused the stir on the sidewalk and stopped traffic.
My absolute goal was to have her sign my Blackglama ‘What Becomes A Legend Most?’ poster. She and her security guards made sure that only your Playbill were being presented to her. No matter how much you begged and pleaded, Playbill only…
At the time she was also doing a voice over for a “Fancy Feast” cat food commercial on TV. Coincidentally the ad also ran in the Playbill and many fans would ask her sign the picture of the cat. She absolutely refused, “that cat is going to haunt me,” she said.
I’ve grown up with Bacall, seduced by her demure coolness on my old black and white TV set in 1944’s “Key Largo” with Humphrey Bogart (‘You know how to whistle, don’t you?’) , seeing her request a rabbit dinner in a Bugs Bunny cartoon and then finally in 1981 on Broadway at the Palace Theatre as Margo Channing in the musical version of ‘All About Eve’, the sensational “Applause.” Who will ever forget her bellowing her opening lines, “Welcome to the theatah!”
In 1987, I lived at 160 Columbia Heights on the promenade in Brooklyn Heights, and Lauren had bought the upstairs penthouse apartment for Jason Robard’s father. I had no idea she owned the upstairs apartment, it was all hush-hush. One night, I had stayed out till the early morning hours at a night club and was coming home at around 6:00 am. I took my 3 little strays onto the elevator and pushed “L” for lobby. The elevator went up, allll the way to the penthouse level. I was so pissed that at this early hour, when my dogs were in need, that we were being hijacked “up”, I decided to refuse to acknowledge the person and kept my eyes closed. As we are going down I hear a knee crack and then all of a sudden, one of the most famous smokey voices on the planet, “oh they’re so cute!“ No one else has that voice, it couldn’t be. I opened my eyes and there was Lauren Bacall playing with my dogs on the elevator floor. “Wuuwhat??” It was totally surreal! After our first ‘meeting’, Bacall and I would often meet in the elevator and she would play with my 3 dogs regularly. I would always try to coax her to come to my apartment to sign some of my Bacall posters, she always politely declined. “One day…” I thought.
Now that time has passed, I have become a NYC tour guide and often pass her famed apartment in the legendary Dakota Apartment building on 72nd Street and Central Park West, each time holding on to the hope that I will one day get her to free willingly sign my poster.
In 2011 she fell and fractured her hip. It is rumored she has made one last film at age 89 to be released in 2013 called “Trouble is my Business”. We may have to settle seeing her for the last time on the big screen, since she has become a recluse and is seldom seen in public, only seldomly seen as she sometimes comes and goes with the other luminaries from her Dakota apartment building.
A plea – to Lauren Bacall and anyone who knows how to somehow get in touch with her, “Please grace my first Blackglama ad with your signature! It will be treasured on my wall forever.” Lauren . . . you listening??
The first ‘Legend’ ad Lauren Bacall, 1968
(I am a passionate collector of the advertising “What Becomes A Legend Most?” campaign and own almost all of the 70+ posters ever done, ending with Tommy Tune in 1994 and Janet Jackson in 2011. Many are signed. But – Bacall was the first in 1968, followed by Garland, Streisand, Dietrich, Cher, Crawford, Davis, Liza, Callas, Stanwyck, all the greats. To think the first legend is still alive, when so many have passed is thrilling to me and my ultimate autograph to receive.)
Photo of the day: REMEMBERING, 9/11 NEVER GETS EASIER – The mood was still very somber ‘the day after’ on September 12. Standing by the side of the south waterfall was this survivor who just simply stood there for hours with his hand touching his loved ones name. One of 2,998 names officially counted. It never gets easier.
Photo of the day: 9/11/2013 SO MANY LOSES / SO MANY GAINS (and…karma is a bitch!) – On this day in New York when we remember the over 3,000 loses of loved ones at The World Trade, a work place I once called home on the 102nd floor, we also last night gained so very much back! A dedicated group of individuals who sought to stop the hemorrhaging of this city, banded together and defeated one of the most corrupt, cold hearted, and scheming politicians since Boss Tweed in 1853, councilwoman Christine Quinn last night.
Donny Moss and 91 year old Natasha
The mighty Quinn: For the past twelve years, Quinn and Bloomberg have systematically destroyed New York City as the city has become a city of the über rich and the very poor, 45+% now live near or at the poverty level. We have lost over 12 hospitals during their term in office, glass luxury apartments replace them. Quinn ruled the city and controlled the zoning laws with her slush funds making the city open season for the greedy real estate developers as zoning law changes have become the norm. South Street Seaport’s Pier 17 is being torn down, neighborhoods like Harlem, Greenwich Village and Soho are loosing their soul. Her tearing down of St. Vincent’s Hospital, it’s church and the 9/11 memorial is the most egregious. As the years passed, she became the most powerful politician only second to Bloomberg, a power that was had by vitriolic temper outbursts and control of the city funds.
How much is that doggie in the window? To show her lack of character, she was against all animal rights activists to the point of refusing to pass a bill that would now make it mandatory to require sprinkler systems in pet shops. Let the puppies and kittens burn, along with the workers.
Daniela and ABQ friends
Karma is a bitch! In 2011, I lost my Gray Line tour guide job of seven years thanks to Quinn. She single handedly destroyed the double decker tour guide industry by pushing through a ‘headset bill’ in order to please a few well heeled residents of Greenwich Village who had complained that tour guides on the open mics were “too loud”. The original bill did not provide for the headsets to be connected to a live tour guide, me. Councilwoman Gail Brewer added the proviso in the bill that a live guide must be giving the tour. Since Twin America the monopoly that owns the double decker tour bus companies City Sights and Gray Line are heavy contributors to her Christine Quinn’s campaign, miraculously the ‘live guide’ proviso was taken out of the bill in the middle of the night. No sound tests were ever done as required. I headed a group called “Keep New York Live” and protested at every TV station and at city hall with the help of my fellow tour guides. On the final day of our fight we had a twelve noon rally planned on the steps of city hall. No press showed up. At 12:15 I called friend and transit reporter Greg Mocker of WPIX11 and asked ‘where you all?’ Greg’s response “well it’s canceled isn’t it? Quinn said it was canceled.” The bill passed with Quinn’s single authority. Over 200 tour guides were no longer ‘allowed’ to come to work or were given insulting low buy out packages. No work, no health care, nothing.
Well Ms. Christine Quinn – karma is a fierce bitch. YOU took MY job away in 2011 and now I have taken YOUR job away in 2013 ! ! !
2011 TOUR GUIDE PROTEST at NBC STUDIOS
The heir to the throne: With an arrogant sense of entitlement as covered in the New York Times, she also had the ’empty chair syndrome.’ At many of the local mayoral forums chairs were set up on stage for all the mayoral candidates, hers – was usually empty. If she did deem to show up, her head never looked up from her blacberry.
NEW YORK TIMES AND PRESS COVERAGE
The cowardly lioness: Donny Moss became the monkey on Christine Quinn’s back, she could not leave her house without Donny trailing her as he held up his signs and calling out the truth about her record. No matter what camera angle she tried, there were either Donny or the ‘ABQ’ people behind her. It came to the point that Quinn would not enter any venue through the front door, she had security sneak in her the back door for fear of bad publicity photos and press. What sort of beginning is it to your term as office when you run and hide from your public? Too yellow, spineless and cowardly to face your constituents.
The awesome DONNY MOSS & DANIELA watching DeBLASSIO’S victory
Rag tag group takes down Quinn – Crazy cat ladies, people who dress up their dogs, horse lovers, gay activists, passionate New Yorkers like the incredible Donny Moss, Arthur Cheliotes, Allie Feldman & Wendy Kelman Neu formed groups “Defeat Christine Quinn” and “NYC Is Not For Sale” respectively which then morphed into the “ABQ – Anybody But Quinn” campaign, unprecedented in New York’s political history. We canvassed subway stations every night, manned phone banks and hounded Quinn wherever she made and appearance, Donny Moss being the most wonderfully persistent of all of us! In that time Quinn went from leading in the polls by wide margins to plummeting weekly. No greater plummet than election night when, as other candidates percentages went up….hers went down from 26% to 18% to an embarrassing 15%.
Brian Gari “cat calls” republican mayoral candidate Catsimatidis
Picture election night: Each candidate had their large expensive venues filled with their high paying donors and political strategists in their expensive suits with the media tripping over them. Yet here we were, in a little bar called Mustang Sally’s on the west side, fifty of us in the back room, in our sweaty t-shirts and jeans, none of us rich, only rich in passion and conviction. It wasn’t the Bloomberg/Romney-like dollars that Quinn had, it wasn’t all the New York newspaper’s endorsements, it wasn’t the political pundits who said she would win, no, it was the people with pet hair on their now iconic red ABQ (Anyone But Quinn) t-shirts that had all the might. It was volunteers like 91 year old Natasha and my 87 year old mother Ursula. We have changed the course of New York’s history. Never underestimate the passion and the anger of the crazy old cat lady!
AUNT MIA AND HANS
DONNY MOSS AND HANS VON RITTERN
87 year old Ursula Von Rittern, defiant voter!
Photo of the day: 87 YEAR OLD MOM DARES TO STRIP AND VOTE IN HER BRA! – Today in election district 29, Sunnyside, Queens my mother walked into the voting station Queen of Angels Center and was stopped at the door for wearing an “ANYBODY BUT QUINN” T-shirt. We were met by a barrage of volunteers and police who said there is to be no “electioneering” inside the voting area. Mom argued she wasn’t saying anything, or handing out any literature, simply expressing her freedom of speech in the shirt she chose to wear.
The angry old white woman who seemed to be the woman in charge said “You’ll have to take it off or leave.” “I thought this was a free country?!” mom angrily argued. “I came here from Nazi Germany where I could not say or do as I pleased, nor vote. Now YOU are going to tell me what to do?! Well, I am not walking all that way home again, then I’ll take it off!” (I had a t-shirt under mine, mom didn’t. The photo here is not from today.) Mom asked me to hold her cane and then to hold her steady. Her hat came off first, then her shoulder bag. She fumbled to look for a place to place her hat and bag.
Uncomfortable curious stares went around the room. Was this woman about to flash the room?! It looked like she would as she asked me to help her lift her shirt over head. As the first signs of an 87 year old woman’s midriff made an appearance, one of the other volunteers ran over and yelled, “Ok, ok, don’t take off your shirt, just lift the bottom part so you can’t see the name Quinn.” (As IF that would sway anyone’s vote at that moment!) So . . . in a very ‘I Dream of Jeannie’ fashion, mom flashed her midsection as she walked slowly across the floor to her voting station to the high five signs from the black volunteers in the rooms, some giving her a hug before she entered the booth. Mom pulled the levers, DeBlassio all the way, turned, pulled the t-shirt down to reveal the name Quinn, exited the booth and defiantly said, “what are you going to do, throw me out?!” and slowly with her cane walked across the room to the cheers and applause of the people inside! (Unfortunately the police made sure I took no pictures.) That’s MY mom! GO MOM !
IN THE 2009 PRIMARY ELECTION – 11% OF NYers VOTED !
IN THE 2009 MAYORAL ELECTION ONLY 26% OF NYers VOTED!
YO HAVE NO RIGHT TO UTTER EVEN A WORD ABOUT POLITICS IF YOU DO NOT VOTE TODAY!
VOTE – OR PUT UP!
V O T E ! V O T E ! V O T E !
ANYBODY BUT QUINN !
(deBlasio happens to be my choice)
Premier issue July 28, 1983
Mondays on Memory Lane: SOUTH STREET SEAPORT, A PROUD VON RITTERN HERITAGE – In 1983 my mother was the private assistant to Clifford Day Mallory of the Mallory’s of Mystic. It is the Mallory family that established Mystic Seaport in Connecticut and has 3 museums named after them there. As a proud New Yorker Mr. Mallory greatly believed in preserving the sea faring heritage in New York’s harbor and helped establish South Street Seaport. Mr. Mallory and my mother Ursula worked with Frank O. Braynard one of the founders of South Street in arranging the design, funding and publicity. They even elicited the help of famed oceanographer Jacques Cousteau. For my mother, working on this project was a matter of great pride in her heritage – my great, great and great grandfathers were sea mrchants, traveling to the far east and Africa to bring back riches to Germany. (My grandmother had the only pineapple anyone had ever seen in 1905 Hamburg, Germany!) Therefore opening day on July 28, 1983 was a proud day for our family and for New York.
It is today, thirty years later, that is a horrible unthinkable day as Pier 17, the steel pavilion that has greeted millions of visitors since opening day, will be torn down thanks to developer greed aided and assisted by our destructive Mayor Bloomberg. A modern sleek glass box soul-less shopping mall will replace it.
He has destroyed more historical districts through zoning variances and under the table deals during Bloomberg’s term in office than with any other mayor in this city’s history. He has done more damage than 911. His crony and ambitious puppet councilwoman Christine Quinn wants to be voted in as Mayoral candidate in our local primary tomorrow.
ANYBODY BUT QUINN – HELP SAVE NEW YORK !
September 9, 2013: The last day of South Street Seaport’s Pier 17
Photo of the day: ENJOYING THE LAST DAY OF SOUTH STREET SEAPORT’S PIER 17 – Due to the destructive re-zoning laws that have blanketed New York, today is the last day to enjoy the rustic building that was built to blend in with the charm of what once was South Street Seaport. The gabled roofs, the cast iron railings designed with industrial wire, the rustic red paint on the wavy (mirroring the ocean) sheet metal walls, the wooden decks from which you can promenade along, the weathered gray wooden deck chairs that silently sit awaiting for you to put your feet up and relax and watch the world go by.
Perhaps you’ll eat your Nathan’s fries and hot dog while strolling around the three decks, or go the Beekman Bear Garden Beach Club to watch the sunset on the North Side of the pier. Today will be the last sunset from Pier 17. The last hot dog from the food court, the last souvenir bought by the myriad of shops and the last beer at sunset.
You can thank our despicable greedy Mayor Bloomberg and his councilwoman Christine Quinn who re-zoned the South Street Seaport area and have given the greedy callous go-ahead to have it all torn down in favor of a glass box mall.
ANYBODY BUT QUINN FOR MAYOR !
Photo of the day: MILLION YOUTH MARCH FOR TRAYVON MARTIN SEPT. 7 HARLEM –
Sept. 7 is the 15th anniversary of the Million Youth March. This year, the march is being held in Harlem in front of the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building on the corner of Adam Clayton Powell St. and 125th Street. The National Black Family Convention is also being held from Sept. 5-8 in Harlem. This year’s march will honor the memory of Trayvon Martin.
South Street Seaport 2013
Photo of the day: THE DESTRUCTION OF SOUTH STREET SEAPORT – The ever changing skyline of Manhattan is about to change again, the beloved South Street Seaport also known as Pier 17, thanks to the ever greedy Mayor Michael Bloomberg, is about to be torn down at the end of September. FINAL DAY OPEN IS THIS MONDAY SEPT. 9th.
What will replace it? A big soulless glass box (mall) with a red letter sign atop of it “South Street Seaport”. You wouldn’t need big lit red letters screaming “Seaport” to remind people of where you are if you have removed any vestige of our once great seaport’s history. One of our old sailing ships the Peking will soon cease to exist for lack of funds to repair it, that will leave us with on single solitary ship in what once was the greatest and busiest harbor in the world. Our Mayor Bloomberg and his cohort councilwoman Christine Quinn should be tarred and feathered and drummed out of New York for destroying our seaport’s heritage.
Anyone But Quinn for mayor!
HANS VON RITTERN 10,000 HITS 9-3-13 at 12:00PM
10,000 VIEWS ON MY WEB SITE! I
t happened at precisely 12:00 noon today
THANK YOU, THANK YOU ONE AND ALL !