They’ve gone, they’ve skedaddled. So huzzah! Let the joybells ring, because those indeterminate world-leaders, tub-thumpers and Foreign Office types who’ve been in New York for the United Nations’ Annual General Assembly, have finally left the building. Allow me to explain. The Colmans happen to live in Turtle Bay, a delightful little neighourhood that is within spitting distance of the United Nations complex. Popular spots include the Katharine Hepburn Memorial Garden, an array of fine restaurants, and a magnificent vista of the East River. Unfortunately, these delights became out of bounds at the end of September. That’s because the corps diplomatique’s in-session timetable, which usually lasts between twelve and fourteen days, necessitated the blocking-off and shutting down of large swathes of Midtown. It goes without saying, that abject chaos was going to be the result. During this year’s hiatus, the presence of the NYPD could be gauged by its bulging muscle. Stone barriers were erected, police cruisers threatened to take over the populace, and the thought of off-street parking was a laughable consideration. Residential entry could only be gained if some form of I.D. was shown. So, under the circumstances, I had no option but to dig out my ‘access-no-areas’ business card which states, “Stuart Colman: records produced, blogs written, wedding cakes a specialty”. Despite a few disturbing looks from Officer Krupke, it did the trick.
Regardless of the NYPD’s constitutional commitments, there was no reduction in the ranks of security men and uniformed cops on duty outside the Nederlander Theatre the night that Jerry Lee Lewis joined the cast of the “Million Dollar Quartet”. There was a very good reason for this, as a phalanx of patrolmen were out in force to clear the way for no less a personage than Bill Clinton. The ex-President with the rock & roll attitude was in the house to honour his hero, along with daughter Chelsea and his new son-in-law, Marc Mezvinsky. Acting as if he was a regular member of the audience, Bill and his gathering gave Jerry Lee a ‘last-man-standing’ ovation when he made his entrance. Taking over the piano stool from Levi Kreis (the Tony Award-winning actor who portrays the man when he was a rookie at Sun Records), Jerry Lee dispensed his calling-cards, ‘Great Balls of Fire’ and ‘Whole Lotta Shakin’, along with an impromptu version of ‘Rockin’ My Life Away’. The vibe was such that ‘Teflon Bill’ was given to confirm his true métier by mouthing all the words to the songs. For the fortunate few it was a night to remember, and demand for tickets was heavy enough for Jerry to sell the place out for weeks to come. The show has become so successful that a U.K. version is now on the cards, and rehearsals are already underway for a newly-formed stateside company to head out on tour. As a last word on the subject, Brad Pitt is set to portray Jerry Lee in a new Hollywood biography, with Natalie Portman being tipped to play Myra, and Terrence Malick getting named as the director.
Because of the many detours and diversions that had been put in place during the U.N. Assembly, it took forever and a day to drive the one-and three-quarter miles that separates Turtle Bay from the Columbus Citizen’s Foundation on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Under normal conditions we would have been happy to use Shank’s pony to get there, but Miss Ann had on her best cocktail dress and the kind of heels that don’t function too well on city sidewalks. The occasion was the launch of The Private Journey, a glossy new magazine that is being targeted at the high end of the travel market. Apart from its sharp editorial, which aims to capture ‘the conquest of the journey and the spirit of the luxury consumer’, the P. J. is different in that it appears in a lustrous broadsheet form. Along with features that cover every aspect of opulence, the first edition has an intriguing feature on the early days of Van Morrison and Them. Whilst Van the Man remains a force to be reckoned with, the group that he sang with during the early sixties has undeservedly become isolated on ‘rock’s back burner. The article manages to redress the balance by examining the musical roots and shoots that influenced the Belfast six-piece. Jim Kerwin, the man behind the mag, knows exactly what’s going down, as he has devoted nearly four decades to luxury advertising and destination marketing. But there’s just one thing. If you fancy soaking up the contents you will have to board a corporate jet in one of fifty private terminals throughout the United States, because that’s where the magazine is being exclusively distributed.
Whilst Miss Ann and myself were hoping for the traffic problems to ease, there was no let up the night we went to see “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps”. Fortunately our nearest movie theatre, the AMC Loews at Kips Bay, is just a hop, skip and a jump along 2nd Avenue, so we decided to hoof it and cock a snook at the lingering envoys in one fell swoop. The heavily-hyped sequel (and a heavily-delayed one at that) to 1987’s “Wall Street”, had opened the day before to mixed reviews but that didn’t curtail our curiosity. In the lead up to the premiere, writer, producer and director Oliver Stone did the P.R. thing on behalf of Michael Douglas who is currently undergoing treatment for throat cancer. Although the title of the movie is pretty much self-evident, romance and domestic indifference both dominate the essence of the plot. Once you get past the ’sub-prime’ and ‘toxic debt’ speak, the action hits a decent level of intrigue. Yet, at the same time, there is a disturbing surfeit of flaws, improbables and far too much poetic license for the film’s own good. In the first instance we are made party to a Wall Street meeting, which takes place in an office overlooking the ‘Lipstick’ building that was once the real life domain of Bernard Madoff’s Investment Securities scheme. Now this was taking location liberties too far. The building is nowhere near Wall Street. It is six miles away at the junction of 53rd and Third. Any local would know that. However, the real insult to the integrity was to see the action shift across the Atlantic, where a long-shot of Tower Bridge was accompanied by a caption telling us that this was ‘London, England’.
Whether the geographically-challenged Oliver Stone intended it or not, the real stars to come out of the exercise weren’t Michael Douglas as the ex-con and ex-corporate trader Gordon Gekko, nor Shia LaBeouf as his upstart nemesis, Jack Moore. They were Eli Wallach and Frank Langella. When I say Eli Wallach, I mean that Eli Wallach; the guy who fifty years ago played the Mexican bandit chief Calvera in ‘The Magnificent Seven’. He is now 95 years old, and still playing the bad guy. Yet it was Frank Langella (who comes in at a mere 72) who delivered the film’s champagne performance as the senior investment founder, Louis Zabel. One surprise that brought a gasp from the audience, was the brief cameo of Charlie Sheen reprising his role as stockbroker Bud Fox. Not quite so well-received, but just as fleeting, was Susan Sarandon’s ditzy and largely forgettable performance as Shia’s mother. With its central thread of a global economy teetering on the brink of disaster, Stone’s tale of wide-awake wealth is about as topical as it gets: Greed, greed and more greed…in perpetuity. On the subject of wampum, the film cost around $70 million to make. After just a few days, “Wall Street the Second” looks as if it will recoup every nickel and dime of the investment. In Wall Street-parlance it’s all down to Securities. Which, of course, is where we came in.