Shades of Sunday Morning
You know those mornings when you wake up in the dark of the early hours, can't get back to sleep but not sure what to do next? Then there are those days you think wouldn't it be lovely to get out and explore the city, the woods, the moors whatever, before the full light of day hits to bring everyone out? Normally I avoid Fifth Avenue and Times Square but a recent Sunday morning grabbed me by the hand and took me wondering - no set agenda, no particular destination and without the crowds you can find yourself in Times Square before you know it. One of my earliest memories of New York is the fun I had exploring through the racks and racks of CD's (wishing they were vinyl but too late . . .) and sheet music at Colony Records - for all your Karaoke, Sheet Music and Broadway needs! It was the closest I was ever going to get to smelling the grease paint and the saw dust of all the backstage drama etc. Plus, sitting on that corner of 49th and Broadway it was right next door to the Brill Building, that hit factory which churned out the soundtrack for teenagers in love everywhere. One of the men who worked there, pale complexion, smooth dark hair and spectacles thick of glass and heavy of frame, was always my favourite go-to for my queries. He didn't just know where the Julie London hits were buried, he "adored Julie. She was just so beautiful . . ." he said, with almost tears in his eyes. Then there was the time I was after a recording of Yvonne de Carlo singing "I'm Still Here" from Stephen Sondheim's Follies. "Oh my God," he took down his heavy eyeglasses to wipe away a tear or two, "she's such an incredible woman, and how she cared for her husband." It was such a sad shock to discover that Colony Records went out of business and closed its doors. The landlord hiked the rent all the way from $1 million to a reported $5 million. Per month. No longer still here. But where has it all gone? The famed motto, "I found it at the Colony" has gone the way of the music business and will eventually be liquidated on the internet. I felt bad and I felt sad about Colony Records, and Larry Hagman who will forever be Major Anthony to me, as I wondered down lonely Broadway but then I ran into the only other person on the block, my first encounter of the day. Tim Gunn! I asked, ever so kindly, if I could take his photo. "Of course," he replied, "can you take one of us together?" I screamed inside, noooooo, please don't make me do that and please, no offense to bag ladies everywhere but I was looking like the best/worst of them and besides, gay men at make-up counters are always ticking me off for not exfoliating enough. So I fudged it and told him I didn't have the technical expertise, as in "I don't know how . . ." He thanked me for taking his photo, as indeed I thanked him for the privilege. He then held out his hand and introduced himself. "My name is Tim." What an absolute gentleman. . . and the reason for his very early Sunday dapperness was that he was on his way to the studio where they were taping the show, Project Runway. Please, I thought, take me with you. I'll do anything, iron costumes, sweep the floors, turn out the lights . . . But then we parted ways, he to the studio while I made my way to the Chelsea Hotel down on 23rd St for coffee and a donut/doughnut. It was by no means the end of the morning but more of that later. I needed a break before the next chapter came out of nowhere and hit me on the streets!