Hominy & Hash
MATT DAMON, FRANK GORSHIN AND THE NEW YORK ZONE
by Constance Daley
American Reporter Correspondent
St. Simons Island, Ga.
NEW YORK, N.Y. -- If I were to write an article a week in, or about, New York City, I wouldn't touch the same corner twice. This week, I'm writing one article in and about New York City and I'll touch upon many corners.
Thanksgiving with friends in the borough of Queens was as we predicted: warm, loving, filled with laugher and our appreciation for a feast prepared with hands experienced in knowing exactly what it means to add a dash of this and a dash of that.
I'm writing from Times Square where it is very cold and blustery today. The inside of the ESPN Zone is at least warm, if not inviting to a non-sports enthusiast like me. Imagine, John and our daughter Wendy will spend three hours here rather than miss a Sunday afternoon of football!
The waiter said, "Welcome to the Zone." I have never been so out of my zone. There are television sets suspended from the ceiling or anchored to the wall for ease in viewing whichever team strikes you. We are interested in the Pittsburgh Steelers vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars but the Buffalo Bills vs. the Miami Dolphins grabs our attention.
"Buffalo is being creamed," says one fan nearby. A blizzard is stealing the show. My knowledge is limited but with a little common sense I offer "Buffalo has the home field advantage in these conditions. they may pull it off." Not spoken like a true sports fan so the words were lost in the din.
In this Zone, very new to me in concept as well as location, you could stay at your table for the full game for a $30 minimum. Just lunch? $10 each for ample portions of exactly what kids would enjoy before going to the upper level for the games arena. Along with hardened sports fans guzzling Corona beer (complete with lime half-wedged into the bottle) are mothers and dads with baby strollers and car seats.
At first glance you'd say everyone here is a New Yorker, what with their Yankee baseball caps and Fire Department New York hooded sweatshirts, but, no. It's more likely there are native New Yorkers next to the supportive tourists spending a weekend and stopping here to root for their home teams.
Earlier today we went to Ground Zero, sad as we knew it would be. Hundreds of people milled about aimlessly. Occasionally, the voice of someone giving a walking tour of the site could be heard above the crowds leaning against the tall cyclone fences: "There are 16 acres ... and ... " we heard as we kept walking.
These were tourists. They didn't mourn for New Yorkers sharing their personal grief. Rather, they felt the magnitude of what happened to us all, as one. I'm reminded of President John F. Kennedy when he looked into the crowd of Berliners and showed his empathy by saying in their language Ich bin ein Berliner, I am a Berliner.
The most startling thing in the area is the region in and around St. Paul's Cathedral where the dead and dying were placed in the immediate hours following the World Trade Center Terrorist Attack. It's quiet. There is no guard protecting it and yet it's like a shrine as "mourners" pass by reading what was written in the aftermath.
I say startling because no one has touched a ribbon, a picture, nor a handwritten note; and there is no evidence of graffiti, spray paint, defacement. In its very absence, you see only respect. Those notes, the signed tee shirts, the ribbons from flowers, the prayers, the pictures, the drawings, the banners prepared by school children, and every form of expression that poured from the minds and hearts of those who rushed to the scene.
There are vendors, but they are needed. Those visitors want to take something away with them, "lest we forget." The postcards, banners, caps, photographs, flags ... are all done with the deepest respect, and there is no loud hawking of wares.
Very few visitors to New York don't arrive a little star-struck, and I'm no exception. I'm sitting in the Zone but bored to the extreme. There is no sound from the television sets. The viewers don't need sound to know which team holds the ball and what yard they're on. The music is not my kind of sound and the cacophonous din is more than I can take for more than an hour.
I walk to the back of the room deciding to go to Duane Reed's next door for some gum or ... whatever, when I bump into popular actor Matt Damon. He's either coming or going by the adjustment of his scarf and I smile. He smiles back, knowing I won't alarm the crowds. As we shuffle left and right for me to pass, I said (pay attention, now, it's a real gaff) "Well, this is nice. Last night I ran into George Gershwin, and now you. Oh, I mean Frank Gorshin. Giggle giggle."
Well, there you have it. I have never lost my cool before. Last night I did indeed have a lengthy conversation with Frank Gorshin at Sardi's. He's in "Good night, Gracie," and he's a one man show playing George Burns - and I must say, admirably. You cannot tell them apart.
I introduced my daughter and behind his back she shrugged, as if to say who is this.... I mouthed "the Riddler," and she continued as if on cue. "Oh, are you in town to see a show?"
"No, I'm in a show. 'Good night, Gracie.'"
Exactly how many gaffs can Daley women make in one weekend? It turns out we were invited to his show today, followed by meeting at Sardi's again tonight. Yet, here we are in the Zone. Nothing, it appears can compete with Sunday afternoon football for those in the know - and I'm not.
The return trip from anyplace is usually exhausting. This return trip from New York is equally so of course, but there is a difference. I'm invigorated, not exhausted, after four days in New York City. I would go again on a moment's notice. There's something else between New York City and any place else in the world.
I'm not sure what it is but I know it when I see it. However you might define it, it puts me where mind, heart and body come together.
"Miami got robbed, robbed without a gun," a Dolphins fan commented. "You'll read about that play in the paper. That was abysmal."
And, so it might have been - but for me it's time to go into a zone of my own, into Times Square - with a tip of my hat to the statue of George M. Cohan and forever my best regards to Broadway.