Tuesday, February 15, 2005

The Nomi Song, The Gates, and Taking The A-Train With Ron Burgundy

I had a ball Sunday afternoon in the city. It was one of those days that makes you wonder why anyone would want to live anywhere else.

I started with a haircut at Astor Place Haircutters, the place I've been getting my haircut since I was old enough to wander the city by myself. My barber was Alberto, known to city soccer fans and his customers as "The Greatest Juventus Fan in America". This guy is super-fanatical about his love for Juve, and is so well known on both sides of the Atlantic that Juventus players stop by to pay homage to him. He's got a great photo over his station of him and Edgar Davids together in the barber shop. If you know David's hairstyle, you know he's there only to see Alberto, not to get a trim.

Newly shorn and calcio'd-out, I walked over to the Cinema Village to see The Nomi Song, a documentary about this weird German guy I used to see knocking around downtown who was sort of a hybrid opera singer/popstar/alien. Most new wave fans know Klaus Nomi as the weird guy in white makeup who sang the song "Total Eclipse" in the movie "URGH! A Music War" in the early 80's. It was a pretty compelling film, but I'm not sure it would be really interesting to those not familiar with the NY Downtown scene from '78-'82 or so. I liked it.

After the film, I grabbed the subway up to 59th Street to see "The Gates", Christo's enormous installation around Central Park. Up close as you walk under them, the gates themselves kind of look like trade-show booth bunting, but from a distance (and especially from some of the higher points in the park) they really are amazing to see as a group spread around the expanse of land. The bright orange against the winter grey of the bare trees and bushes of the park is pretty striking. The park really does look transformed. Even more amazing was the fact that the park was mobbed on a chilly February afternoon. Here's a bit of how it looked to me on the South end of the park:

As I left the park, I walked over to the Columbus Circle station to take the A back downtown. At the turnstile, I got stuck behind an older fellow obviously using a MetroCard for the first time and having trouble. As the old guy was swiping and swiping with no success, I noticed on the other side a guy in a Dodgers cap was waiting for him. I gave the old guy some advice on swiping the card faster to it would read properly, and he eventually got it through. I followed, and on the other side he and his pal thanked me for the help. I recognized the guy in the cap as Owen Wilson...That guy's crooked schnozz is unmistakable.

I walked down the steps to the platform, found a spot, and noticed Wilson and the old guy were also taking my train, and had met up with a few people who I guess were quicker with their MetroCards. One of the guys they were with was a tall guy, vaguely familiar even while wearing a ski cap and sports sunglasses. When the train pulled up I got on, grabbed a pole to hang on, and Wilson's crew followed. Wilson and the tall guy also grabbed the pole I was on since it was crowded, and as they started talking to each other I realized the other guy was Will Ferrell! He was sporting the perfect getup to be incognito without looking like a disguise. The car was packed, and though a few people seemed to notice Wilson, not a sole noticed Ferrell.

Having seen "Anchorman" the night before, I couldn't help but be amazed at the odds of riding the subway with a guy that I laughed out loud at on my big screen mere hours ago.

I got off the car at Penn Station, Wilson gave me a "see ya", and I started my way home thinking again for the millionth-time in my life how lucky I am to live where I do.

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