Category Archives: 2011 NYC Christmas

Phantom, 25 years

Yes, we’ve seen Phantom of the Opera many times, I think I’ve seen at least ten performances, three on Broadway, but it never gets boring.

We got great seats in the second row center, here’s the unauthorized photo from our seats:

Or, at a different time during the show,

So after 25 years, Phantom can still fill a theatre in New York, and Hugh Panaro as The Phantom, Trista Moldovan as Christine Daaé, and Kyle Barisich as Raoul carried the show in its tradition of excellence. I further really enjoyed Cristin J Hubbard as Madame Giry!

Callie says it was awesome sitting right under the chandelier.

Anachronism fun!


Tonight was like a book or a movie plot, as if Rod Serling himself was standing in the corner of the room smoking a cigarette talking about us in hushed tones.


This Manhattan fairy tale started innocently enough, with a piece of paper shoved under the door of our room at the Hotel Edison. The building still has many touches left over from it’s heyday which started with Prohibition well underway in 1931, and well, I’m getting a little ahead of myself…

So Callie and Rusty and I had been talking about getting some grub after a long day when this slip of paper came under the door. Callie was standing right there when it happened, and she even opened the door and nobody was in sight down the long corridor. But that didn’t seem remarkable…

So anyway, this slip of paper was drawn or printed on bright yellow paper. A real attention getter!


So we decided to check it out–you know, some authentic New York night life, and after all, they said they had food. So we walked down to Sofia’s, a slightly upscale looking Italian place. We walked right in like we knew what we were doing, but for some reason the maître d’ seemed skeptical. Now I think he saw the yellow paper, but I don’t know. So the guy says, “youse don’t wanna be here, you’re looking for downstairs”. So he directed us to a small, narrow unmarked black steel door with a deadbolt lock, tucked away in the foyer of the restaurant. Looked for all the world like a mop closet. We walked past it twice looking for the right door, and it was Callie who walked over to the door and gave it a tug. What happened after that, I scarcely believe myself, and I was there! We found a wide set of gaudily carpeted stairs going steeply down into the basement of this old hotel.

What we found was a pretty large club-type room, with lots of tables with white linen table cloths and a big dance floor and an empty bandstand. People started to gather–an interesting group of young and old, some dressed casually, but many dressed the part of Manhattan socialites, quite an interesting mix.

So Rusty and Callie and I talked about lots of things, including how this room was almost certainly a speakeasy in that era…

And then the band assembled and started to play…


I don’t know if they spiked my drinks, or if we just walked around too much during the day, but I started feeling woozy, you know–not really bad, just a little fuzzy. That’s when I started really looking around, and wondered if I was really where I thought I was. Before long, to coin a phrase, the joint was jumping. A broadway hoofer stopped by and just started tap dancing like crazy! He was great! Do people still do that? Next thing you know, this guy named Sol Yaged stopped by and played the licorice stick. Sol Yaged? He was playing clarinet in the 1930s! Professionally since probably ’42!

He played in all the legendary jazz clubs like Jimmy Ryan’s, the Metropole, the original Birdland, Jimmy Weston’s, the Onyx club, the Three Deuces and a bunch of others. He played opening night at Birdland, lending Charlie Parker his clarinet so Bird could sit in at Arthur’s Tavern on 7th Avenue! And now he’s in this basement speakeasy!

So the night is young, and out of the audience steps the legendary pianist Ed Clute to pound out a red hot version of Sweet Georgia Brown! Ed has been performing professional jazz and bluegrass for over 30 years, and has even written a few songs. So naturally he’s sitting in the audience and agrees to play with the band!

So this just goes on and on

There were a bunch of couples really tearing up the dance floor, some of them were pretty clearly professional dancers. They were dancing the Charleston!

So I looked up and Rusty had disappeared. Never saw him again…


and I walked up the steps and walked out, blinking in the harsh electric lights. For a minute I was sure I saw this:


But then I realized that it was late, and that I probably imagined it. But I did go back to that door the next day and it was locked.

New York Priorities

Well, we braved massive crowds including herds of Santas to get here

So where do you go for your first night at the crossroad of America? Junior’s at Times Square, of course! Famous purveyor of (real) New York cheesecake, egg creams, and the best burgers in the US, (sorry KC),it’s a must eat highlight.

Since the 1950’s, Junior’s has been famous for great food, great fun, great service, and, of course, the best cheesecake. Their original location in Brooklyn on Flatbush Avenue is still thriving. Or you can visit Junior’s in some of their more recent additions—in New York’s famous Grand Central Terminal or in the heart of the theater district on Broadway in Times Square (our favorite). With a full menu ranging from steaks to seafood and sandwiches to salads and cheesecake, you’ll have a fabulous dining experience at any of Junior’s locations!