Sunday, June 18, 2017

City Days: The Hunt for Tiks to Julius Caesar, NAACP Debate on Charter Moratorium, Puerto Rico FMPR Teachers

I've got a story to tell about my quest for tickets to Julius Caesar in Central Park --but you have to wade through my day by day account of last week - skip ahead when you get bored.

My passions right now are local/union/national politics and sports and gardening.

I've been dealing with some health issues due to an infection and having to take IV antibiotics and spending most of the week days over the past two weeks in the city, coming home to Rockaway for the weekends. (I may dump Ed Notes on Mike Schirtzer sooner than he thinks.) It's so much easier in the city than in Rockaway. A year ago I had one doctor. Now I have 5, all of whom I can walk to in the city.

Last Monday, June 12, I came into the city taking the ferry from Rockaway to Wall St and then changing (free transfer if you ask on the ferry) to the East River ferry that makes 5 stops in Brooklyn and Long Island City before getting to my stop at East 34 St. All for $2.75, the cheapest boat ride you can get and something tourists and non-Rockaway residents are discovering. So it took about 2 hours door to door, but who's in a hurry?

I met a guy on the ferry who came down from upstate just for the ride back and forth to Rockaway. He told me he was a chief investigator for SCI and worked for Stancik and Condon and worked the Board of Ed beat for 20 years and in fact was in on the raid of my district 14 offices after $7 million disappeared. I mentioned how no one went to jail on that caper (due to more than a little political influence by the Hassidic community of Williamsburg). I didn't catch his answer -- must have missed it due to traffic noise. Seemed like a nice guy but just hearing SCI gave me the woolies -- but one interesting factoid - he trashed OSI.

When I spend time in the city I am energized. Monday I had to wait all evening for a delivery of some meds so it was a wasted night -- but it was hot out so I spend the evening watching the Mets and then the Yankee games, with some cable TV politics interspersed.

Tuesday I headed over to Bryant Park in the afternoon to do some reading but ended up seeing a mini-opera. That night I went to see Carol Burris challenge two charter slugs at an NAACP sponsored debate at the NYC Bar Association. I had considered going to a movie instead but was glad I went. Carol, as usual, was excellent. The Politico ed reporter, Eliza Shapiro who was moderating, was pretty bad and often clueless. The charter slugs were shameless. I need to write this up in a separate post.

Wednesday, I spent the early part of the day checking out the scene at Shakespeare in the Park before signing up as a member of the Museum of Natural History and the NY Historical Society before heading over  to the Delegate Assembly and then to the Dark Horse for the MORE session with the amazing FMPR teachers from Puerto Rico, (see Arthur - Homophobes Yes, ATRs and FMPR No and James - who brought up the MORE ATR reso), followed by the MORE event for the Puerto Rico teachers from the FMPR, which attracted almost 50 people. The story told by the 3 teachers from PR, a few of whom we've met before, is an astounding one of battle by a militant union and betrayal. There were so many lessons, this needs a separate post.

Thursday was spent in a hunt for tiks for Julius Caesar at Shakespeare in the Park, which I describe below. My wife came into town to join me. Friday we headed back to Rockaway for the weekend.

I'm actually feeling pretty chipper, even more so in the city than in Rockaway. Being car-less, I have to walk and take public transportation. I walked over 5 miles a few days last week. When I get back to Rockaway I laze around like a slug.

But I want to talk about Thursday's hunt for Julius Caesar tickets, which was the hottest ticked in town. [See links below to interesting articles on the production.]

On Wednesday (June 14) I wanted to scout out the scene so I took the subway up to E. 86th street and walked cross Central Park to check out the situation at the Delacorte Theater and what time I would have to be there on Thursday to get tickets. The guy I spoke to looked at me and said -- for the senior line, maybe around 9 AM. The other line, earlier, like 7AM. So I figured I'd get to the senior line around 8:15.

When I joined the line on Thursday, my fellow line mates informed me we had no chance to get in -- she pointed to a tree and said no one past there gets in. But I got to meet a whole bunch of interesting people, including a retired teacher who taught in District 27 - we knew a lot of people. At 9:45, a rep came over and said there was no chance - some people began arriving at 5:30AM). He said they give out to the first 40 or so people which is 80 tickets. (He said the regular non-senior line had 500 people and only about 250 would get tiks -- the first person on line arrived about 1:30AM.) Some refused to give up and leave. I was reluctant but what was the point? I did talk to him and he suggested other options - they hold lotteries in all the boroughs - he said the Bronx was a good shot -- but also that if you get your name in the lottery before noon at the Public Theater at Lafayette Street -- of course there would be a lot more people there than in the Bronx.

So I headed over to the Public and got on a very long line at 11:15 but it moved fast. So many people kept pouring in. At noon they closed the lottery and started drawing for tickets. My wife was about to leave Rockaway and head for the half price ticket line so we could see some show that night and laughed when I told her to wait for the drawing.

The lobby was packed with hundreds of people and it looked like they were going to draw about 20 names.




The first raffle was 2 digits away from mine. Others got close to. They must have been close to 20 when BINGO -- my number came up -- one of my few lucky days - and we also won the lottery for Hamilton -- I guess politically tinged plays are my lucky charm.

I had read James Shapiro's book on the year 1599 when Shakespeare wrote Julius Caesar and put it in context of the political events in England when an aging Queen Elizabeth was rumored in danger of a coup. I also saw the 4 plays (shortened to an hour each) at Irondale last year, so I was familiar with the political context of the play. Basically Shakespeare was condemning political violence -- look what you will end up with -- and this production makes exactly that point and does not promote the assassination of Trump.

I will write up my impressions of the play, which I loved, in another post.

Before I bore you with details of my upcoming week in the city, here are a few links

A the guy stood outside yelling the entire play and continued to protest and shout Kill Chuck Schumer as we left -- people yelled back at him about an American production of “Julius Caesar,” in 2012 in Minneapolis, which depicted Caesar as President Barack Obama. He was surrounded by cops protecting him -- hmmm, wasn't he threatening a US Senator?

Upcoming week

I've got a busy upcoming week planned. I'm going in early by ferry on Monday morning with some Rockaway friends - a nurse is coming at 3PM to change my dressing and draw blood. Monday night I'm going to see the original King Kong in Bryant Park.

Tuesday I have a doctor appointment where I'm hoping for some good news. That night is Leonie Haimson's Skinny Awards dinner -- which by the way, we were informed last night that due to the restaurant's sudden closing, has been moved: here is her message:
Miraculously, I found a lovely Egyptian restaurant in Greenwich Village which the owner generously offered to me for the event.  Here are the details:
Casa La Femme, 140 Charles St.,  New York 10014
Map here: https://goo.gl/maps/NiQiePw2vLS2
Wednesday my wife is coming in and we're seeing Sweat at the matinee. It is also the day of the summer solstice - and international Yoga day - I actually registered for a 1PM hot yoga class in Times Square but will have to miss that.

Thursday my wife's cousin is coming into town bearing tickets to the Yankee game that night. We're going to hang out at the WFAN celebration at Grand Central Station. He may come with me to stop by at the MORE 5PM party at the Dark Horse, before we head up to the stadium.

Friday I'm coming home to Rockaway -- rehearsals for this summer's production of "The Producers" where I play the judge --

Someone suggested I should be sitting in the Here Comes the Judge seats for the Yankee game.

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