That Martini must have played a larger role because it took a little longer to get myself together and I didn't get going until well after Helene woke up, thus waking up the entire house, she has the effect. It was going to be another big day in my Boardwalk-to-Boardwalk adventure and I had to get on the road early so I could be in Brooklyn for my appointed haircut. I was slightly perturbed, I had been growing out my hair for this event but I hadn't counted on having to make the extra trip up, seriously cutting into my travel fund for this little (probably unnecessary) adventure.
After the harrowing decision of what to wear for the trip, I finally decided on my black jeans, "Fashion Kills" white button-down, red "London" zip-up, black skinny tie and my "priest" jacket, which is actually a vintage American Legion chaplain's jacket, with 13 silver buttons on the front and red crosses stitched into each cuff. It was a bit over-the-top but I was going to New York after all and needed to look fashion forward, natch.
I actually left the flat on time and didn't wait too long for a Jitney bus to whisk me uptown to the bus terminal. The lovely woman at the Greyhound counter was very nice and helpful, telling me the bus was running fifteen minutes behind and suggesting I go to Caesars bus station to catch it there. That's where it starts it's trip to Port Authority and I would have a better chance of getting a seat if I ran there. Off I went, running into the lobby to take a quick splash in the loo and then wait in the long line for boarding. The bus finally rolled up a little earlier than expected and the driver came out complaining about this being his second bus and this one wasn't working right, either. Just what I wanted to hear.
We boarded and I saw that the bus didn't have the back-of-the-seat outlets for charging mobiles and such. Perfect, with my new mobile eating energy like M&M's, I wouldn't be able to use it much during the trip. Oh well, I thought, I have my faux-Kindle and some New Yorker's to read to pass the time. On top of it, I had a seat partner sitting next to me crowding my space which was turning this trip into a minor fiasco. I kept my spirits up, focussing on the day ahead and we left to pick up those waiting at the bus terminal, even more people to add to an already busy bus.
They interminably filed in and we were on our way.
Only to suddenly pull off the Atlantic City Expressway and stop at the Greyhound bus yard where the driver finally announced that we had to switch buses. UGH! This trip was turning into a comedy of errors. I had planned on taking the nine o'clock bus to give me enough time to get through Manhattan and to Brooklyn by my appointment and now we were running very late, eating up the time I padded on to ensure I made it there on time.
I switched buses and lo and behold, I ended up losing my "partner" and this new bus had the outlets! Success! I could listen to music and play on Facebook with abandon. I opened my Ben Sherman shoulder bag and searched and searched and quickly realized I had left my earphones home (on the coffee table, actually). Drat. God giveth, God taketh away.
The ride up was uneventful from then on, except for the increasing cloud cover which looked rather ominous. A quick check of the weather report calmed my slightly frayed nerves, the rains weren't due until late afternoon/early evening. We pulled into Port Authority and the driver announced that we were 22 minutes late of our scheduled arrival. I was suspicious but I didn't have a schedule on-hand to verify his facts. I made my way through the station and up and out onto the streets of mid-town Manhattan, once again marvelling at the incredible mass of humanity wandering through the streets and avenues. My years and years of working in crowded casinos trained me to bob-and-weave through the crowds and I quickly made my way downtown, crossing from Eighth to Seventh and working my way to the Brooklyn Bridge.
Suddenly, I stopped short. Walking right towards me, directly in my path was Adam Mucci, who plays Deputy Halloran on "Boardwalk Empire"! I was flabbergasted! Here I am on my way to the studio to be on the very same show and standing right in front of me, in a city full of over eight million people, is an actor from that show!!! I wanted to stop him, act the fan and maybe grab a picture of us but common sense, and the crowds rushing by, stopped me and I went on my way, laughing to myself at the unlikely coincidence.
As I wandered, I kept crossing over to get to Broadway, passing by some familiar landmarks like the Chelsea Hotel and the Limelight nightclub (now a mall, of all things). Memories of my past visits to New York filled my head and before I knew it, I was at Washington Square Park. I snapped a quick shot of the memorial arch and wandered through, singing "Easy To Be Hard" from "Hair" in my head as I did so.
I had figured a new route through the city using my maps app on my new Android and I made great time, getting to the bridge quicker than expected but once I did a time check, I realized I was probably going to be late getting over to the studio. I plodded on, dodging through the crowded walk-way over the bridge, taking yet another new route through Brooklyn (only having to ask the helpful policewoman once for directions to clarify I was going the right way) and I made it to the Steiner Studios twenty-two minutes late for my appointment, the exact amount of time we were late getting to the city.
The less said about Brooklyn, the better. It's South Philly, without the cheesesteaks.
I walked up to the gate and got my pass from the guard, I smiled to myself when my name was already on the entry list, and he guided me to Stage Three. I wandered along the row of sound stages, looking at the support trucks lined up outside with cables running everywhere and oversized limousines were waiting to take people to-and-fro and found myself at the door, where they buzzed me in and I saw my "handler" and had a seat. She was taking care of an older gentleman (whom I later found out is actually credited on IMDB's website for "Empire" as "Gray-Haired Man" in the cast listings) and she had me fill out some paperwork whilst she escorted him up to get done. When she returned, we chatted about the weather and I asked her a few questions and come to find out, she grew up in Brigantine during the summers as a child. We instantly became best friends and talked each other's heads off. During the conversation, a guy came in and she said hi to him and it wasn't until he opened his mouth that I realized it was Stephan DeRosa, who plays the singer/comedian Eddie Cantor on the show. I suppressed yet another shit-eating grin and played it cool, although the inner me was freaking out that all of this was actually happening.
About a half-hour later, "Gray-Haired Man" came back and she sent him on his way and she escorted me up the slow elevator to the second floor. I confessed to her that I was having a very hard time resisting the urge to document everything with my camera. With one simple look, I could see that it would be seriously frowned upon and I kept my camera tucked away in my pocket. The elevator doors opened and directly in front of us were signs denoting directions to the various productions that are scattered throughout the building. We quickly travelled down a long hallway, with me peeking in every room I could to see what was going on and she introduced me to the woman who would cut my barely tamed red afro. I had another laugh when she looked at me all confused and said, "Why are you already in wardrobe? I can't cut your hair in your costume!" and I had to assure her that I dressed like that normally and proceeded to take everything off so she could do her business.
Surprisingly, the room was incredibly plain, unadorned except for some framed "Empire" posters stacked against one wall and over in another corner and two large plain mirrors, one in front of me and one to the left.. She had the tools of her trade laid out directly in front of me on a towel, no frills just two electric clippers, scissors, a comb, thinning scissors and some different contemporary pomades lined up in back. She put on the cowl and gave me an overview of what she was going to do and I told her I didn't care, just cut it. We chatted about this and that and I looked around (in the mirror) and saw white boxes I failed to notice before, since they blended into the plain white painted walls, that were labelled "Wig Box 4" and "Wig Box 7" but they had lids on them and I had no clue what sort of wigs they could possibly contain.
We talked about a lot of things, my being from Atlantic City, acting, a little stage gossip, the fact that they were shooting a party scene right now and some other shop talk, I felt so comfortable and relaxed that my adrenaline rush was tempered, momentarily.
She had a confession to make, later in our conversation, which kind of shocked me. She has never seen "Empire". Not a single show. She doesn't even have HBO. I found that interesting and told her she needs to watch it and see her wonderful work.
She said I had great hair to work with, perfect for this show and once she was done she declared I looked like a 1920's barbershop quartet member, which I must admit, with the moustache, I did. She also said I'll do well on the production, which was nice to say since I'm only going to be in the background.
I put back on my clothing and said my good-byes and found a bathroom, where I gave myself the once-over and had an alone-moment, a chance to just drink in this entire experience and get a few emotions out that I wouldn't dare do in front of anyone there. I quickly collected myself, went downstairs and got my pay slip and said my good-byes to my "handler" (who's name I need to find out!).
I walked back to the gate, passing the soundstages I had wandered by before and caught a glimpse of the scene being filmed, everyone in costume and the lights and props, I was completely awestruck but kept my emotions in check until I passed through the Steiner Studios gate and was on the streets outside the Navy Yard. There I had the biggest grin on my face and my emotions caught me all at once. I stopped for a few minutes in the middle of Washington Avenue, right there in the middle of Brooklyn, once again revelling in the moment, not believing this is actually happening to me.
I rounded the corner to Myrtle Street, making my way back to the bridge and I passed this black guy, just hanging out in front of the local barber shop, and he said to me, "When you were walking up, I thought you were Charlie Chaplin!", I busted out laughing and continued on my way. School had just let out and the streets were busy with the urban kids predominate in big cities. The basketball courts and the baseball diamonds were packed, fenced in by ten foot high chain link fence which I find bizarre and there was the cacophony of city life all around me. I drank it all in. I was stopped on the bridge by two guys with indeterminate accents, who wanted me to take their picture next to one of the plaques on the bridge, and I obliged, and I made my way back through Manhattan, following a similar route but ducking down different side streets just to check out the sights. Once I hit mid-town, the pedestrian traffic was unbearable, tens of thousands of people rushing everywhere, and I was so relieved when I finally made it to Port Authority, running downstairs to the gate for Atlantic City and the bus was leaving at that exact moment. I boarded, made my way to the back and sat down in a heap, the exhaustion of the entire day hit me at that moment and I passed out before we hit the tunnel leaving the former New Amsterdam.
I woke up to a curious smell and saw this girl across the isle eating chicken wings, another joy of public transportation, and she had a full spread of food in front of her, with her ear-phones on and watching hip-hop videos on her smart phone. I turned on my faux-Kindle and read a few chapters of "The Picture of Dorian Gray" and got home safe and sound, only a little wet from the rain that eventually hit the island of love.