When Lisa and I first moved to NYC (in 1996), we were walking towards Washington Square Park when we heard a shot. (I was born in New York and visited it often as a kid. I had just been telling Lisa, who was new to the city, how safe it was, nowadays.) Suddenly, all these people were running towards us as if a maniac was after them. Then we heard a couple of more shots and people started screaming.
We ducked into a restaurant and moved as far to the back as we could. Then, we realized that since we were hungry, we might as well stay there and eat. We’d wait out whatever craziness was going on outside. So we sat at one of the tables, and pretty soon a waiter came and took our order.
Forty-five minutes later, we left, and when we got outside, we saw the police had put yellow tape up on both ends of the block, keeping everyone out. We were inside the tape. We shrugged and ducked under the tape to get out of the cordoned-off block.
A cop started yelling at us, “Get back!”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“You can’t go under the tape like that!”
“Well how are we supposed to get out?”
“You shouldn’t have been inside a crime scene to begin with. How did you get in there?
“We were just eating in a restaurant, and you put the tape up while we were inside.”
“That’s impossible. We checked all the businesses on the block before we put up the tape.”
“Well, you couldn’t have checked all that carefully. We were right there, inside that building.”
“No you weren’t. We checked!”
“Whatever. How can we get out of here?”
“Get out the way you came in.”
“That is the way we got in,” I said, pointing at the tape.
“No it’s not,” he said.
At that point, I lost it. I started screaming at him while Lisa tried to calm me down. He got tired of arguing with me and walked away. We slipped under the tape and went home. Lisa has had to remind me several times to not argue with people who are carrying guns.
Back in 2000 I was working at an e-consulting firm in Silicon Alley that, even before 9/11, everyone knew was going under. A friend of mine and I would sneak out early to grab drinks at a local bar called Ciel Rouge, which was just around the corner – there was no work coming in and there was nothing to do anyway, so we didn’t feel too guilty about playing hooky.
One day I walked in and noticed a new bartender at the bar. This place had very good Mojitos, but when I ordered one, the new bartender said: “I don’t know how to make one. Have a beer.”
I was a bit put off, but grabbed a beer from a six-pack sitting on the bar. I took out my wallet to pay, but the man behind the bar said: “Forget about it, buddy. It’s an open bar.”
In FRONT of the bar was a VERY attractive blonde woman. She turned to me and said, in a thick New York accent: “So… who are you?” In a moment of luck or great genius, I said the first thing that popped into my head: “I’m a producer.” She smiled and said: “I thought I recognized you.”
I spoke to her for a few more minutes, made everyone laugh, and then went back to meet my friend, assuming that we were crashing somebody’s private function.
When I found my friend at her seat, she was sitting there, slack jawed, and shaking like a tuning fork: “DO YOU KNOW WHO THESE PEOPLE ARE?” she whispered.
“I have no idea,” I said, honestly.
Now, understand, at the time, I was living in a part of Greenwich Village that didn’t have cable service. (It seems hard to believe now, but many parts did not get cable until 2000 / 2001.)
“THIS IS THE CAST OF THE SOPRANOS” she said.
Like I said, I didn’t have cable, so I had no idea what that was and didn’t much care.
“Cool,” I said.
As it turns out, the very attractive woman I was chatting with at the bar was Drea De Matteo, who played Adrianna on the show, and the guy at the bar was Michael Imperioli, who played Christopher. I was so blase about the interaction that, apparently, they all bought my story and thought I really was a producer.
As a side-note: I finally got cable a few months after this meeting and, like everyone else in America, became addicted to the show. Obviously, if I had run into these people at THAT point, I would have been a drooling, gibbering mess. But at that moment I was Mister Cool, crashing the Season 3 wrap party for the Sopranos.
I had a few more drinks and talked to more people and, eventually, Michael – are we on a first-name basis now? – came over and said, “Hey, we have tickets to Miracle on 34th Street (this was a Christmas concert that included Michael Jackson and others at Madison Square Garden) and we have a tour-bus outside. Why don’t you come with us?”
I felt like I had mislead them long enough and explained we had really just wandered in off the street. I half expected to get thrown out of the bar, but Michael – a really, really nice guy, as it turns out – said: “Ha – that’s cool. Come along anyway.”
I got in the tour bus and sat in between Drea – I HOPE we are on a first name basis now – and Annabella Sciorra in the bus and went to the concert.
On the way in, I called my wife, and said: “Guess who just gave me tickets to Miracle on 34th Street – THE CAST OF THE SOPRANOS!!!”
She replied: “What’s The Sopranos?”