>> I am a "native" New Yorker, and have spent most of my life in Yorkville-the east 80s, formerly referred to as Germantown because of the heavy German influence. It used to be a colorful neighborhood with lots of character…German restaurants, bakeries, and even a German dance hall. Now, it is like living in the middle of a gigantic mall surrounded by high-rises.
On the side streets, however, there still remain old brownstones and a hint of times gone by. The combination of old and new, I think, is why the east 80s in Manhattan is chosen so often for location scenes in movies.
It's a hot summer evening in 1991. A crowd has gathered on the corner of 84th Street and 1st Avenue. Necks are craned and all eyes are looking up at a high-rise. Suddenly, a shower of money rains down on the crowd. "What's going on?" I ask. "Oh, they're shooting a movie, One Good Cop with Michael Keaton. He's up there on that terrace." Of course I have to see the movie so I can say, "I was there when they shot that scene!"
It's a hot summer day in 2002. I walk outside of my building on east 83rd Street in Manhattan and see cameras and cables everywhere. Parking has been suspended on my street, and next door the gold lettering that used to say "Wintercorn" (an orthopedic shoes manufacturer) on the big plate-glass window now says "Legal Aid." I am told they are shooting a movie called Two Weeks Notice. I pass Wintercorn (now Legal Aid) and glance in. Sandra Bullock is actually in there shooting a scene.
I proceed to the supermarket, but run into trouble on my way back. A young lady with a walkie-talkie stops me on the corner of 2nd Avenue and 83rd Street and informs me that I have to wait. They are doing a "pan shot" of the block. Fifteen minutes later, with ice cream melting, I beg her to let me go home. I promise not to attract any undue attention and she lets me go. As I approach my building, Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant are kissing. Of course I have to see the movie so during the last scene I can say, "That's where I live!"
It's a beautiful spring day in 1964. I am strolling down 5th Avenue when the most handsome man I have ever seen comes running out of Central Park. It is Gregory Peck, who is shooting a scene from Mirage. Of course I have to see the movie so I can...
It's another hot summer day in 2002. More cameras and cables on east 83rd Street. This time it's the fire in a brownstone scene from Spiderman. Of course I have to…
It's the late 1970s. My best friend (who is also my business partner) and I are having dinner at P.J. Clarke's on East 55th. Street. The comedian, David Frye (best known for his impersonation of Richard Nixon) is at a nearby table. He overhears us talking about ballroom dancing (we have a dance studio in New York City, in Manhattan) and asks us for a business card and suggests that he and his friends join us. We say OK, but soon realize he is very drunk. He becomes very loud and obnoxious, and we suggest that he go home. He won't, so we do. The next day he calls us at the studio and apologizes.
Again the late 70s, We are eating dinner at Martells (83rd St. and 3rd Ave.), and at the next table is a very young Brooke Shields with her mother. We exchange opinions about the food. Twenty years later, at Tokubei (86th St. between 1st and 2nd) a more mature Brooke dines with a girlfriend. We try, but fail, to eavesdrop on their conversation.
It is still the late 1970s. My best friend and I are having dinner at Agora on 87th Street and 3rd Avenue. It is a combination restaurant and boutique, and sadly, is no longer in existence. Marvin Hamlisch (the composer) strolls in and has dinner. On his way out, he sits down at a piano and plays for a while. Then he leaves.
I'm having dinner at Shun Lee Dynasty. Alan Alda is at the next table with his wife. No one bothers him.
I'm strolling down Madison Avenue. Gene Wilder is walking towards me. I smile and he smiles back.
I'm strolling down Park Avenue. Chuck Scarborough (Channel 4 News anchorman) is walking toward me. I smile, and he smiles back.
On other occasions: Stevie Wonder on a plane to Los Angeles, Anthony Quinn in a sweatsuit jogging in the east 80s, Abe Vigoda (Fish, on Barney Miller) having coffee outdoors at Agata & Valentinos (79th and 1st), Mary Tyler Moore and Gloria Vanderbilt in the theater audience of Whose Life Is It Anyway, Burt Lancaster and Robert Redford (who were/are much shorter in person than they appear on the screen), Paul Simon, Robert Klein, Pernell Roberts (Adam Cartwright, on Bonanza), David Brenner, Tony Roberts, and Fyvush Finkel (Picket Fences and Boston Public).
And Hermione Gingold (GIGI) wore a flask in her garter. I saw it myself during the shooting of a TV show where she was the guest star.
I never know whom I'm going to encounter in this exciting city. The wonderful thing is that even during the day, the stars can come out in New York City.
CARLA SHEINKOPF, AUTHOR OF THIS ARTICLE, IS A COLLAGE ARTIST WHO HAS LIVED IN NEW YORK CITY ALL HER LIFE.
HER WORK INCLUDES COMMISSIONNED PIECES OF ASTROLOGICAL SIGNIFICANCE AS WELL AS DESIGNS DERIVED FROM MEDITATIVE REFLECTION. YOU CAN SEE HER WORK ON www.Yessy.com/Carla
RECENTLY, SHE EXPANDED HER COLLAGE ART TO INCLUDE JEWELRY.
CARLA ALSO CO-OWNS THE AEQUUS DANCE STUDIO IN NEW YORK AND HAS TAUGHT BALLROOM DANCING FOR MANY YEARS.
KAREN LITTLE'S NOTE:
CARLA IS A BIT OF A CELEB HERSELF, WINNING BALLROOM CONTESTS AND TEACHING OTHER WINNERS.
HER JEWELRY COLLECTION FEATURES BIG, BOLD EARRINGS THAT ARE FEATHER-LIGHT. THESE MARVELS DO NOT PULL ON EAR LOBES. YOU CAN'T, IN FACT, EVEN FEEL THAT THEY ARE ON!
HER BROACHES ARE SO LIGHT WEIGHT THAT THEY CAN BE WORN ON SILK WITHOUT PULLING THE FABRIC. LOOK FOR HER COLLECTION ON LITTLEVIEWS.COM IN OCTOBER 2004.
CARLA IS SEATED IN FRONT OF A WATERFALL WHICH GRACES A SMALL, MARVELOUS, TREE-FILLED PARK ON 51ST STREET BETWEEN 2ND AND 3RD AVENUE.