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: 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