Just one of the many interesting things about living in Manhattan is the way your life casually weaves in and out of the lives of various hyper-famous people who live here. Last Friday evening was the second occasion in recent times that I found myself in the same time and place as Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson – one of our more iconic local celebrity couples. The first time was several years ago while at dinner with my friend Idit in a Japanese restaurant on the Lower East sSde.

Lou Reed has a very unique voice. Even when he’s speaking at low volume, his powerful bass timbre has a way of cutting through the din of even a crowded Manhattan restaurant. It was fun to pinpoint the precise moment when the diners at each table realized that Lou and Laurie were in the house, sharing a quiet meal and a bottle of wine. This being New York, nobody looked at them or talked about them aloud. Instead, the transition in each case was from genuinely not knowing they were there to carefully pretending to not know they were there.

We New Yorkers are very protective of the privacy of our celebrities.

Pretty much the same thing happened this last Friday evening. Sophie and I were seeing the experimental play “London” at the Chelsea Art Museum. The play calls for the audience to follow the actors around on foot as they perform different parts of the drama in various galleries of the museum. Once again, it was fascinating to observe the exact moment when each theatre goer realized that the couple in our midst was Lou and Laurie. In every case that I observed, it took only a fraction of a second for the newly aware individual’s gaze and body language to adjust so as to resolutely avoid appearing aware of their presence.

By the end of the performance it was clear – if you were watching carefully – that pretty much everybody knew. But I don’t think I saw a single person actually look in their direction the entire evening. God, I love New Yorkers.

But it doesn’t always happen like that. Today I was speaking with my good friend Cynthia and she reminded me of the time we were watching “Babe, a Pig in the City” together at the $3 discount movie theatre (the film broke after 20 minutes and they couldn’t get it fixed, so I only ever saw the first 20 minutes of that movie. I guess that’s why it’s a $3 discount movie theatre).

Sitting in the seat next to us was the great independent film director John Sayles. We didn’t realize this until Cynthia accidentally spilled her bag of jumbo sized popcorn and it poured all over him. Mr. Sayles was quite gracious about it, and we ended up having a lovely conversation with him about the state of independent cinema, while we were waiting for the movie to start.

To this day, Cynthia still speaks of that day with a fond starry eyed look and a dreamy smile that borders on school-girl crush – the time she spilled popcorn all over John Sayles.

4 thoughts on “Popcorn”

  1. ROFL – I thought it would be pretty normal to behave like a New Yorker

    But on the other hand – a school-girl crush on directors seems to be pretty normal too. I am having such a crush for Peter Greenaway.
    So reading this reminds me of my friend Randy. She is in her sixties. I adore her. She told me, you know Dagmar, when I was young, the only poster I had in my room was the one of Peter Greenaway.
    And even now we both are down on our knees for Peter and enjoy Peters work.

    LOL – My partner Mike just came in and said, you thought of Randy as you read Kens post, right?

    So thank you Ken for making our day and giving us some great laughs!

  2. Are you sure the film was BABE? It may be THAT film, but it does seem the type of film that John Sayles would go to see at a movie theate?. And would go to the $3.00 theater? If you remember the year, I actually have all my calendar journals in my study and I could look up the exact film (ah, yes, the BLOG audience is sighing — it is a “remembrance of stories past” — but then I am a quasi-archivist and enjoy the detail and accuracy 🙂

  3. Ah, you might be right – I can’t say for sure it was the day we went to see that film, that’s just how I remember it. But in any case, I do think we might want to give John Sayles credit for being open minded in his tastes.

    The one time I ever had a great conversation with Matthew Mcconaughey, we spent most of the evening talking about Mr. Sayles (MM had just starred in “Lonestar” the previous year). So here’s an actor that people don’t generally think of as “highbrow” who not only delivered a superb performance in a Sayles film but also (I can attest) really understood the complexity of the character.

    That’s one of the things I like about John Sayles – he maintains, and in fact revels in, that common touch. I can well imagine him watching “Babe, A Pig in the City” and enjoying it. I would have been far more surprised if we had been watching that particular film and you’d ended up spilling your popcorn all over Peter Greenaway. 🙂

  4. ROFL – I always think, if you do films like Peter Greenaway, you need to have a decent sense of humour or your life has to be a complete nightmare…

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