I take pride in not being a tourist. Technically I’m not, but then everybody in New York is a tourist of one kind or another. There’s so much to do and see that it’s overwhelming, even for New Yorkers. So you end up marveling and staring just like the people from Indiana. But I have managed to retain that quintessential New York attitude of not being impressed by anything or anyone. When your third grade class trip is to the UN General Assembly, not a whole lot impresses you. Of course, I may have taken this attitude a bit too far. I’ve never been to the Statute of Liberty. For years, I thought it was a bar.
However, I do take pictures. I take them with my phone and have been telling myself for years that I am going to buy a camera and take real pictures. I think I may be procrastinating, because it would move me three steps closer to Indiana, not to mention being worried about dropping it off the Staten Island ferry. I took pictures with my phone the other night. Two of them are included here. One is the marquee of the Ed Sullivan Theatre, where a friend and I went to see the Late Show with David Letterman.
My friend, a native New Yorker living in California and huge Dave Letterman fan, came to visit. So we went to the show, which was about an hour and-a-half with taping compared to the four hours or so of TSA-like security that we had to go through beforehand. Of course, that also involved a couple of very stiff martinis, so I’m not complaining. Letterman’s been involved in a couple of scandals of his own including extramarital affairs, an intern, kidnapping threats, and murder. Thus, the security. With all that going on, you wouldn’t think he’d need stupid human tricks, but I guess we’re all guilty of those.
His guests were Jerry Seinfeld and a dance troupe from Cirque du Soleil. In addition, there were Paul Shaffer, Alan Kalter, and the usual Top Ten list. Overall, a nice lineup, although Letterman seemed tired and not very interested. I hear he’s going through a divorce. That and thirty years pretending to be interested in guests have taken their toll, I suppose. I don’t blame him.
Seinfeld wasn’t nasty at all, which is what I expected after hearing stories about him. Sure, he was funny, but what really impressed me was that he didn’t do gutter humor or talk about masturbating in hotel rooms on the road, which I’ve heard other comedians do. He had class and wit. He actually seemed happy to be there, like a kid playing on the couch. They don’t have couches anymore, by the way.
But what really got me thinking was the camera guy. Yes, the camera guy. He made the biggest impression on me. You’ll notice him in the picture below, which is out of focus and dark. To the right you can barely make out Letterman and to the left is Seinfeld. That was my view from the audience. I didn’t mind. The studio was beautiful, the band was just to my left, and television monitors were overhead so we could see everything up close.
Now, here’s the thing. We were prepared for Letterman and having a great time. And, until he was announced, we didn’t even know Seinfeld was a guest (something about comedians in cars). So, we had spent all that time going through security and the bar talking about Letterman and his travails, then Seinfeld. What we hadn’t counted on was the camera guy. And it was the camera guy who had the greatest impact on us, because he was the one in control. He was the one who dictated how much of my time was spent watching the overhead monitor. He was the one who determined the quality of the experience, depending on whether he stood with his right or left hip thrust out. He was in charge.
So, of course, I started thinking. Martinis will do that. And here’s what came to me: it’s the camera guy in life who sets the stage for what we experience and how we view life. It’s not our plans or expectations. It’s not what we have been promised or think we deserve. It’s not the star, the professor, the politician, the big shot. It’s the camera guy. The camera guy, plain and simple
Think I’ll go out and buy that camera after all.