Friday, April 28, 2006

Virginia and the Jumper

Yesterday was a beautiful day in the neighborhood. So beautiful, in fact, that I decided to skip the subway and walk all the way from my place on 45th to my audition on 19th.

And it happened again! Twice in one week! I was at the audition and ran into Virginia there (another buddy from the National Comedy Theatre). It's starting to become fun running into friends while I am out and about.

The audition was quick and painless. Virginia had to work in the area at 6:00 so she asked if I'd kill some time with her. We walked up to 32nd so we would be in the general area of where she had to be and I noticed a bunch of people across the street looking up into the air. Some of them were pointing and their attention was drawn to the Empire State Building.

It didn't take long before we heard people murmuring...someone was going to jump! We looked up but couldn't see anything. Soon, though, a guy beside us told us that he wasn't trying to commit suicide up there, he was a base jumper who goes onto places that are illegal to base jump off of and...well...he base jumps off of them. He was the guy who, in the not-too-distant past, jumped off of the Eiffel Tower. I recalled hearing about it.

The Guy said the Base Jumper had been up there for about 45 minutes, so he probably wasn't going to make it. He pointed out to us where to look and we could see a small crowd gathered in one part of the top of the building. Apparently the authorities nabbed him as soon as they saw him scaling the protective railing (which I guess goes to show the security in NY is better than in Paris).

Virginia asked the guy how he knew what was going on and the guy was really coy and finally admitted his friend was part of the Base Jumper's "crew". Whatever. I wasn't 100% sold on the guy's story but it turns out it was true. There are a couple of articles about it here.

About 10 minutes later the crowd on the top of the building disappeared and the Base Jumper's plot had been foiled. While we were there, a heavy set guy (he looked kind of like the live action version of the Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons) walked by and declared "It's a human life, people, not entertainment." How wrong he was. If the guy has a parachute, it is entertainment. I realize he thought the guy was going to commit suicide, but the crowd still loathed him. Party pooper.

So I didn't get to see someone jump off the Empire State Building but I did feel like I was in a movie. The crowd on the street below looking up at the building, the confusion...I was soooo waiting for Spider-Man to swing in and save the day.

But he didn't.

From the New York Daily News:
Cops stop fall guy
Foil Empire State jumper

A dopey daredevil hellbent on parachuting off the Empire State Building was plucked from the brink of disaster yesterday in a breathtaking drama that played out on a narrow ledge more than 1,000 feet above city streets.

As scores of tourists watched in stunned disbelief, TV stunt show star Jeb Corliss ripped off an old fat man disguise - and scaled the 10-foot security fence around the 86th-floor observation deck.

He was precariously perched on a ledge far above 33rd St. and ready to jump, when security guards and cops reached through the fence and handcuffed the dodging dodo to the bars as witnesses gasped, cameras clicked and videotape rolled.

"Dude, you guys are going to kill me!" Corliss screamed as he tried to wriggle free. "You guys are going to kill me right now.

"Let me go!"

The 30-year-old Californian wore a helmet fitted with a camera, likely hoping to film his 1,050-foot plunge - with no regard for the safety of people on the streets below - for "Stunt Junkies," a Discovery Channel show he hosts.
But cops and security guards, who had been tipped the death-wish scheme by someone claiming to be worried about Corliss, weren't going to allow his latest attempt at twisted glory.

He had snuck into the storied skycraper around 4:30 p.m. wearing a $15,000 fat suit, a gray wig and a latex mask with a gray beard.

But once on the observation deck, he went into a bathroom, tore off the suit to reveal a parachute underneath, dashed to the curled railing and climbed it.

But he was slowed down by security guard Kevin Downes, who had chased him from the bathroom, giving cops and other security personnel precious seconds to leap into action.

"He was resistant. He tried to push off with his feet. He was fighting with us to get off," said Timothy Donohue, a building manager.

One unidentified woman was so upset she thrust a fistful of cash at Corliss and tried to bribe him to come back.
Donohue and others finally got a good grip on Corliss' harness before cuffing him.

"He wasn't going without me and I really didn't want to go for the ride," said Donohue. "It's New York City, it's rush hour. It is not the time to jump off buildings."

ESU cops with bolt cutters eventually snapped the cuffs, removed a portion of the fence and pulled Corliss back to safety, ending a 15-minute struggle. He kept his latex mask on until it was clear the only way he was reaching terra firma was in an elevator.

Outside the building, Corliss was grinning like a fool as cops - who had rushed to the top terror target - hauled him away. Meanwhile, Downes was taken to Bellevue Hospital with head and ankle injuries.

Corliss charged last night with a number of crimes including reckless endangerment, assault and resisting arrest.
"I wouldn't describe him as a daredevil," said NYPD Deputy Inspector James McCarthy. "I would describe him as an individual who obviously showed a depraved indifference for human life.

"In the worst case scenario, his parachute doesn't open and he kills a number of people walking by."
Still, the afternoon drama at New York's tallest building gave visitors a show they'll never forget.

Dennis Hook, 68, an English tourist, said, he thought the nail-biting spectacle "was a joke at the beginning. There was someone in a King Kong suit walking around so it looked like a show. It was unbelievable."

Dutch tourists Edu De Neve, 57, his wife, Garda, and sons Mattijs, 27, and Guido, 25, were stunned by the sight of about 20 cops racing onto the observation deck to help subdue Corliss.

"It was something to see," said Garda De Neve, 57, shaking her head in wonder.

Although she had been reluctant to come to the U.S. due to terrorism fears and the incident yesterday was less than a treat for the Dutch family, she said of her first visit to New York, "I love it here."

Corliss is no stranger to risky business.

He's chuted off the Palace Hotel here, the Skylon Tower in Niagara falls as well as the giant Petronas Towers in Malaysia.

His antics on the Empire State may have been timed to bring attention to the 102-story building's 75th birthday Monday.

"It was absolutely unreal," said a visibly shaken Mark Skelton, who is chaperoning a high school band from Cleveland, Ga. on a visit here. "You'd never think this kind of thing would happen."

Skelton's daughter, Erin, 15, couldn't help but giggle: "I think it all was pretty cool."

Towering legacy

The Empire State Building, which turns 75 Monday, has seen its share of triumph, tragedy - and stunts.
Here's a look at some key events:
MAY 1, 1931 - The world's tallest building opens, reaffirming American ingenuity in the depths of the Great Depression.
MARCH 2, 1933 - The blockbuster film "King Kong" seals the skyscraper's place in the world's imagination.
JULY 28, 1945 - A B-25 bomber plows into the 79th floor of the building in dense fog, killing 14 people.
APRIL 24, 1986 - Two British men parachute from the 86th floor observation deck. One got into a taxi, chute and all, but another was caught when he got snagged on a traffic light.
FEB. 23, 1997 - A gunman opens fire on the observation deck, killing one person and wounding six others before turning the weapon on himself.
OCT. 24, 1998 - Two daredevils escape after they parachute from the observation deck.
At least 35 people have killed themselves by plunging from the observation deck.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Fortunately, my writer's block has ended. I went into my room and just cranked this out. I don't know, after reading it, perhaps I should have used the word UNfortunately.
Anyhow, enjoy.



It was a Thursday evening and Saul Friedberg was as nervous as he'd ever been. All his life led up to this moment. The endless hours of watching videotapes of past Apollo performances would now prove to be worth his while.

He stood in the wings as a young woman sang an Alicia Keys tune that brought the crowd to its feet. Hands waved back and forth in unison as her voice did a number of impressive runs.

Saul knew what would happen when it was his turn to walk on stage. People were going to laugh at him. Not with him -- at him. But he was ready for it. Although his mother continually insisted watching and re-watching episodes of "Showtime At The Apollo" was a waste of time, the repeated viewing had mentally prepared him for what was about to happen. Regardless of the clothes they wore, the style of their hair, or the spring in their step it never failed. If the contestant was white, they were laughed at.

The immediate conclusion-jumping always confused Saul but at the same time only served to fuel his passion and drive. He would show them once and for all that white accordion players have soul, too.

Saul missed the days of Sinbad and Steve Harvey hosting the Apollo. They seemed like nice guys and their non-threatening comedy always put Saul at ease. Not like the much-grittier Mo'Nique. She reminded Saul a little too much of the girls who were always standing on the corner of his block. They yelled a lot and Saul had to admit he was a little afraid of them. While Saul thought Sinbad and Steve Harvey were so nice they could be Caucasian (a comment he was smart enough never to say aloud), he knew Mo'Nique would have none of it. Saul had to be good. He wasn't a quick thinker on his feet and was naturally shy so he know Mo'Nique would probably tease him during the interview portion of the show.

That was OK with Saul because he'd watched his tapes. Often times the host would make jokes at the contestants' expense and the audience would have a good laugh. But once the ribbing was over and it was time to get down to business the novice entertainer would turn to the tree trunk on stage and rub it for good luck (and also to acknowledge the history of the Apollo Theater).

Saul wasn't exactly sure how the tradition of the stump rubbing (as he often referred to it) came to be. He imagined a lively and compelling story filled with lumberjacks and unity and the thought of it always calmed him. In times of stress when Saul would find his "happy place" he thought of The Story of the Apollo Stump.

When Saul's name was announced and he stepped on stage, even his years of intense training couldn't prepare him for the instant laughter that swept through the theater. There was whooping. Some people pointed while others repeatedly stood up and sat back down as if they were the largest collection of Jack-In-The-Boxes witnessing the most hilarious sight they could imagine.

Saul raised a hand to ensure his yarmulke was still firmly in place. He hugged his accordion for security, completely forgetting this was what triggered the instrument's sound and the pathetic note that droned from the squeezebox completely upstaged Mo'Nique's diatribe about his thick spectacles.

Mo'Nique introduced Saul and he turned to rub the sacred wooden stump. The accordion clunked against the tree trunk and the crowd quickly inhaled as one. Saul shrugged his shoulders and shook it off as he made his way to center stage.

By this time the audience had regained their collective composure and the giggling commenced again. In the front row three women were standing. Saul hadn't played so much as a single note and already they were making broad, sweeping, get-off-the-stage motions with their arms.

Saul took a deep breath. He looked to his left. There waiting in the wings was The Guy Who Danced. If the crowd's booing and hissing became too loud a siren would sound and The Guy Who Dances would jump on stage, flitter around, and make you leave. Then he would dance a little more and the audience would go nuts.

Saul nodded to The Guy Who Dances. The Guy Who Dances mouthed "Fuck You" in return and shot him the bird.

It didn't phase Saul. Even The Guy Who Dances would soon be eating his words. Saul took another breath and began playing the opening notes of "I Heard It Through The Grapevine."

Saul wasn't sure if it was a cell phone or an iPod but whatever it was, when it struck his face the pain was incredible. Something else whizzed past his head (a compact case?), barely missing him. The Man Who Dances rushed out with a mop handle and began to beat him. As Saul crumpled to the ground Mo'Nique was already there waiting for him (she sure moves fast for such a big girl was Sauls first reaction). She began to lay into him with one of her cream-colored stilettos.

As Saul lost control of his bowels and began to black out all he could think was "I told you I'd make it, Ma." For a few brief moments all eyes were on him and he was the star of the Apollo.

It was the greatest moment of his life.

The Big Blank Page

Last night was a little frustrating. Sometimes I want to write but I don't know what. It's been almost a year since I've written anything new (my series of short stories are still on this blog if you're bored and want to do some digging) and I wanted to put something new on paper.

So I got out my pad and my favorite pen and just stared at the blank page and nothing came. I started to doodle and it made me think about someone telling me about this guy who had an art exhibit based solely on doodles and I wondered how good my doodles would have to be to get an exhibit of my own and then I got mad that I had been doodling this really elaborate doodle but had nothing--nada--to write.

So I just fell asleep.

This morning the itch is still there but I can't figure out how to scratch it.

A Surprise on the Corner

Yesterday I went to the bank to make a deposit (I felt awesome depositing a $6.00 check!) and on the way back I experienced another New York first: I ran into someone on the street that I knew! It's pretty goofy how happy it made me feel. Maybe because it was JT and Amy (fellow improvisers at the National Comedy Theatre), two people I really like being around. It was just really cool and made me feel like I belonged in the city.

They were on their way to get some dinner and asked me to join them. I felt a bit awkward because I didn't want to intrude on their hang time but it's been a long time since I've even seen Amy so they didn't have to ask twice if I wanted to come along.

We ate at a nice Mexican place called Arriba Arriba where our waitress was friendly and cute (it was her first day) and they even had a scary gap-toothed DJ spinning tunes like "It's Raining Men" and other such tunes that were a little less than subtle (a DJ in a restaurant? That was weird).

Without trying to come across as too sappy it was a really nice time. Every time I'm with Amy I realize how cool she is and it makes me bummed we don't get to see her more often. And of course, JT is just the man. Needless to say, many laughs were shared.

After dinner we went to the theater for rehearsal (it was a great rehearsal...we've recently recruited a new bunch of people onto the team and they're all great peoples) and afterward the whole gang--or most of us--went out for drinks. It capped off a really nice day, but when I look back I am grateful for having such great people in my life who, when I bump into them in the street, make me count my blessings.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Um...This Might Be Controversial. But Not On Purpose

My sister Jaime was in town this weekend and we had a great time hanging out. I told her to bring her walking shoes, and it's a good thing I did as we covered a lot of ground. When I showed her a map of how far we actually walked, she couldn't believe it.

I picked her up Saturday morning around 10:30. Her bus arrived at the Port Authority bus terminal which is only about 3 blocks from my place. We dropped off her stuff and began our journey.

We took off for Times Square and from there headed north. We did a quick walkthrough of Toys R Us and went by the Letterman theater. We walked all the way up Broadway and into Central Park. We only got about a third of the way into the park and then turned around (I'm not extremely familiar with the rest of the park and didn't want to get turned around). We headed back south and stopped for lunch at the Jekyll & Hyde Club near 57th. It was a good time, the characters were amusing (almost to the point of being annoying) but all in all it was a lot of fun.

We continued to head south, this time via 5th Avenue so we could pass Trump Plaza, 30 Rock, and get a good view of the Chrysler Building. We zigged to go by Radio City Music Hall on 6th and made our way to Bryant Park. We circled around the park so we could go by the Historic Library and also the home of the original Soup Nazi place.

We continued south and soon made our way to 34th street. We got a great view of the Empire State Building and also went by Madison Square Gardens. We hopped on the subway at Penn Station and made our way south to go to Ground Zero, the former home of the World Trade Center/Twin Towers.

And this is where things may get controversial, depending on who's reading this. Just a disclaimer to let you know I'm not being funny or sarcastic or trying to be controversial. This is just the way I (and it turns out Jaime) felt.

I'd never been to Ground Zero before. A lot of people from out of town ask me if I'd been to see it and to be honest I never had an inclination to go. I'm not a native New Yorker, I'd only visited the city a couple of times briefly before, and prior to my move here in July really felt no connection to the city. Yes, September 11 was a tragedy, but it didn't affect me the same way that it would have had I lived here at the time or if I knew someone who was directly involved.

When Jaime and I arrived at Ground Zero just looked like one of a zillion construction projects going on in the city. Had I not known where we were, I probably wouldn't even have noticed. Needless to say, it wasn't an incredibly moving experience. It was just a bunch of bulldozers and cranes and without trying to be crass, I see that on my walks in the city every day.

Is that cold to say? Maybe it would have been different had I been there right after it happened and the rubble and debris was still there but as it was, I just felt guilty. When people would ask if I've been to Ground Zero it would make me feel guilty that I hadn't. And now I feel guilty that I have and, for lack of a better phrase, it didn't do anything for me.

I can't help but feel it will be different after they have finished completing the memorial buildings and structures. I'd like to go back after it's finished where I can learn a little more about the history, read stories, and feel like I experience it a little more.

Jaime (who was in Iraq in the Army just a couple of months ago) and I talked about this and we talked about the fact although it was a terrible day, things like this happen all over the world every day of the year and we (Americans) could care less. But when it happens to us, then it's important. We weren't belittling people whose lives were lost on 9/11 but found it a little dreary that most Americans only seem to care about it when that happens in the US. I don't know. I would probably have to babble on for much longer than this to really express everything, but I'm already bored, I can't imagine how you, Dear Reader, must feel.

After that we walked South to get a look at the Statue of Liberty and then returned back to the apartment, eager to get out of the rain for an hour or so. That night Jaime went to the theater with me to watch the improv show and she had a great time. She said during the intermission of the first show the guys in the seats next to her were talking and were convinced that we were performing memorized scenes, so I guess that's a pretty good compliment.

All in all, a fun weekend with Jaime. It was her first time in NYC and I asked her what the biggest surprise was about the city. She said it was a lot cleaner than she expected. I don't know if she meant the city or my apartment.

Even though it rained pretty much the whole time she was here, it didn't dampen our spirits or keep us from cracking each other up the entire time. Today she and her family are moving to Seattle so I am glad she was able to visit before they end up on the Left Coast. Good times.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

How Sex Simplifies Things

I have a friend who just slept with a guy for the first time. They've only just recently met, never went out together but it didn't take long for the two of them to hook up. She really likes the guy and is crushing on him., but she mentioned to me the other day that she wished she had the guts to ask him out on a date.

Yes, you read that correctly.

I remember when people went on dates hoping to have sex instead of the other way around.

Coffee Idiots

Coming home from the library today I passed the corner of 7th and 42nd. At that corner is one of the smallest Starbucks I've ever seen. I never go there because there's always a line and nowhere to sit. It's very wee.

As I approached I saw a long line of people stretching out the door and around the corner. Bear in mind there were no special promotions going on, people just wanted coffee. And also bear in mind I am in New York city, not back home in Garrett where the nearest starbucks is like 20 minutes away. In the city the nearest Starbucks is like 20 paces away.

On the way home I passed 4 (count 'em, four) other Starbucks locations. And it only took me about 6 or 7 minutes to get home. I can't imagine needing coffee so bad that I'd wait in a 30-minute line but also being so lazy that I won't walk across the street to get it.

But wait Ed, you might think, maybe they were tourists and didn't know where the nearest Starbucks was.

Maybe they were tourists. In that case, let them stand in line. The longer we can keep them diverted in Starbucks instead of standing in the middle of the sidewalk blocking traffic the better.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Return of the Vampire

I think maybe I've seen the sun a total of 5 or 6 hours this week. I've been living the night life (complete with glo-sticks) and partying all week long. Either that, or I've been standing around the last couple of nights on a movie set waiting for the cameras to roll.

Just finished a 4-day shoot on the movie August Rush. The shoots were all overnight shoots, meaning I had to be there each night at 6:30PM and we got done each day around 6 or 7am. I would get home, watch TV for an hour or so, go to bed, get up at 4, and repeat the process.

I was told by my agent that Robin Williams would be there and good times would be had by all. I forgot that agents are LIARS. Not only was Robin Williams not there but I also wasted 75 dollars on my Mork costume.

In attendance was Jonathan Rhys-British guy (from Match Point), Keri Russell (from Felicity who, in person, looks like a clenched fist) and Freddie SomethingOrOther, the kid from Finding Neverland and the Tim Burton version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

We spent all four nights in Central Park shooting a scene as audience members at a NY Philharmonic performance. And I must admit, I was really impressed with the kid. He had to play like he was conducting the orchestra and in between shots he was the most professional, well-behaved robot of a kid you could ever imagine. My parents could only dream that I would have been that well-mannered when nothing was going on and we had to wait around for the crew to set themselves.

The highlight of the shoot was befriending a girl named Joan. We had a good time making sarcastic comments and remarks about everyone else in attendance who drove us nuts (or just looked funny).

During the shoot I was also able to read Dennis Miller's The Rant Zone. If you're a fan of Dennis Miller and his sense of humor, then you'll really enjoy it. If you're not a fan,'re dumb.*

All in all, a good week. But man, if my sleep schedule was screwed up before....

*This book review brought to you by Ed as his 12-year-old self.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

That's A Very Specific Group of Protesters

Today in my adventures I passed by the Historical Library on 40th & 6th. Outside were 8 or 9 elderly ladies all wearing dark trenchcoats. They were holding a sign that read

Man, I miss my camera.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

No Longer An Accomplice

Weird stuff.

Those of you who have been regular readers of my blog may recall me working with an improvisational tour guide scavenger hunt thing last season. I had a great time playing the role of "homeless guy on the Brooklyn Bridge" and after each show it was fun hanging out with the people who came through and getting to meet them.

In November shows stopped for the winter and I was excited, as the Guy In Charge said he was excited to have me back in the spring. Well, spring has sprung and I saw that last weekend was their return to shows. Since I'd heard nothing from them, I assumed they weren't going to ask me back, which was fine. That happens sometimes. I liked them a lot, and sent them an email wishing them a great season.

I got an email in return stating they were sorry they didn't ask me to return, but I just didn't fit in with the group. I laughed out loud. Definitely not expecting to hear that, especially since they never once came to the Bridge to see my interaction with the people or my performance. So all I could assume is that after the show, hanging out at the bar, I didn't fit in because I usually had Pepsi instead of alcohol. All I ever heard was how well people who took the tour said I was doing, so it seemed to be a little out of left field.

Oh well. Not the first time that's happened, right (hello, Nashville, is this thing on)? Although this time didn't bother me at all. Why? I'm sure you already know the reason. I'm having too much fun at the National Comedy Theatre to let anything else rub me the wrong way. It's kinda like saying, "Hey Ed, you can't have any more Raisin Bran."

"I can't?"


"Oh. Ok, whatever. Can I still have Peanut Butter Cap'n Crunch?"

"Oh yea, as much as you want. And now, due to magic, even though it's still going to taste exactly the same, it'll actually be healthy for you."

"Cool. So what's the downside? I don't see it."

In my opinion, you can't ever get enough breakfast cereal metaphors.


Went to bed last night around 10:30, 11:00. Woke up again at 1. Went back to sleep at 3. Woke up again at 5. And I'm still up.

I wonder if I could get into one of those sleep studies. I might as well make some money from my screwed up sleep schedule.

On the bright side, while I was up I downloaded the latest podcast by Ricky Gervais and laughed my silly head off. So that was cool.

Monday, April 03, 2006

The Wedding Album

My first time on a film shoot in a while and it was nice to be back in the saddle again. Today I was on Wall Street shooting some scenes for a new television pilot (I believe for FOX) entitled The Wedding Album. If I am correct, its a romantic comedy about the ongoing adventures in love of a wedding planner.

We shot in a huge building (used to be a bank, I don't know what they use it for now) that was all set up and decorated for a wedding party. Call time this morning was 7am. YIKES.

I got up extra early to ensure I would find my way there. They gave us the address to check in at but didn't tell us that the actual address was a block and a half away on a different street. Good thing I left early.

The last few times Ive been on a shoot Ive played attendees of high-class occasions so I had to wear a suit and tie. It was nice today to be playing an electrician so I could wear the same crappy jeans and T-shirt Id wear on any other day.

It was an interesting psychological study to see people dressed in cool hip clothing playing floral designers gathering together in one clique and looking down on the people dressed as caterers or servers. The guy who was chosen to be the head Floral Attendant, with his gaudily bleached hair and Im-Jonathan-from-Bravos Blow Out attitude, believed he had been cast as the King of the World (or, more appropriately for him, the Queen) and began to prance about the set ordering people around. I enjoyed watching people roll their eyes at him and defying his power.

The first half of the morning was a little boring, as I didn't do anything. Usually I dont mind doing nothing as its a movie set and nothing is usually what happens, but they had us waiting on set away from the holding area, which means away from my Soduko puzzle book Id brought along.

We broke for lunch and imagine my horror when they announced they werent providing lunch for us. That was a first. And, of course, the reason for my horror was I was carrying zero money. So during the lunch hour I did Soduko puzzles and secretly wondered why the lady in charge of the extras was in such a bad mood.

After lunch they put me in the background of a scene featuring a rigged table that crashed to the floor (with wedding cake on top of it). I don't care if I am ruining the storyline or giving something away by revealing the cake doesn't make it to the end of the show. Maybe next time they'll think twice about not getting me a sandwich for lunch.

After that, they grabbed me out of the bunch to carry some flowers in a scene. According to the onlookers I got some good screen time in that scene so that was nice. After that they had me in a scene working on a speaker and in another scene working on a table.

All in all it was a good day. I was a little grumpy for a bit because I was hungry but I still enjoyed myself. I was on the set until 8:30PM and I didn't mind a bit. A lot of people were ready and eager to leave, but since we get paid overtime I didnt see what the big rush was.

Needless to say I came home exhausted. I have a 3-day shoot coming up next week for the new Robin Williams movie, August Rush. I don't know if hell be in any of the scenes were shooting but they are overnight shoots and take place in Central Park. I wonder if anyone will be there to walk me home.