April, 2012 Archives

Who’s Who?

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April 5th, 2012

NOTES FROM LONDON Taylor and I get our picture taken with Zach Braff and by Zach Braff. I don’t know what’s come over us. Normally, as a family, we’re a pretty level-headed bunch (that time when a bat got into our house notwithstanding). Around London, and in particular the West End, we find ourselves as […]

NOTES FROM LONDON

https://readthespirit.com/rodney-curtis/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2013/03/wpid-rcBraff1.jpgTaylor and I get our picture taken with Zach Braff and by Zach Braff.

I don’t know what’s come over us. Normally, as a family, we’re a pretty level-headed bunch (that time when a bat got into our house notwithstanding). Around London, and in particular the West End, we find ourselves as giddy as school girls — which is fine for actual school girls like Skye and Taylor, but Marci and I, not so much.

Meeting famous celebrities didn’t used to be a big deal back when we were working journalists. Snoop Dog and Bill Clinton were just everyday guys (and gangsta rappers). But now, on vacation, it’s just smashing to see actors in their natural habitat.

Meeting Zach Braff after his incredible new play, All New People, was great fun. His show is a comedy about depression, suicide and heavy drug use; it was one of the best, most honest things I’ve seen in a long time. As he was thanking us fans afterward for coming, I thanked him for writing such a powerful piece. He politely said, “you’re welcome.”

At intermission during another play, the Sweeney Todd revival, the girls ran into Megan Hilty, who currently stars on NBC’s SMASH. She was wonderfully gracious and talked to my ladies about acting, how to break into the business and how much fun she’s having on her press junket to London. Since her show hasn’t made it to TV here just yet, she could walk around incognito, without being harassed, except by a dopey American family that is.

The icing on the celebrity cake had to be seeing Imelda Staunton, who starred in Sweeney Todd. My daughters know her as Professor Umbridge from Harry Potter, so that cemented her in the galaxy’s firmament.

Lest you think, dear reader, that we are all about taking and not giving. Skye ran after a little old lady who was tottering out the late night stage door. She recognized her as a minor character, years ago on Doctor Who. Oh, was she pleased to be noticed! For several minutes she stood there asking questions of us, happily telling us about her background and thanking us profusely for knowing who she was.

The little added cool factor for Skye is that in every play we’ve seen — four so far — there’s been someone who has been on Doctor Who. Apparently, you’re no one in British acting until you’ve accompanied the good Doctor on some sort of science fiction voyage.

The little added cool factor for me would be meeting someone who was in The Who.

https://readthespirit.com/rodney-curtis/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2013/03/wpid-rcHilty.jpgTaylor and Skye take a Smashing photo with a gracious Megan Hilty.

Making Connections

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April 3rd, 2012

NOTES FROM LONDON The owner of “Porky’s” gave us free posters from plays we’ve seen and was upset with our too-large tip.It seems the Brits have taken a shine to my ladies. Let me clarify; British restaurant owners love our daughters. I’m not sure why, maybe it’s our girls’ accents. As a family of outgoing […]

NOTES FROM LONDON

https://readthespirit.com/rodney-curtis/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2013/03/wpid-rcRestaurant1.jpgThe owner of “Porky’s” gave us free posters from plays we’ve seen and was upset with our too-large tip.It seems the Brits have taken a shine to my ladies. Let me clarify; British restaurant owners love our daughters. I’m not sure why, maybe it’s our girls’ accents. As a family of outgoing people, we tend to get into conversations with those around us if we’re sitting still for more than a few minutes.

You know that if a restauranteur chases you outside because he thinks you tipped too much, or if another one insists on you emailing him a photo, then you’ve made a certain connection.

We heard stories about America from wonderful shop owners who told us their cousins lived in New Jersey (is that close to Michigan?). We’ve heard about family in Vegas, Louisiana and have seen pictures of friends who “look just like us.” At one restaurant we’ve been to in the past, the owner actually remembered Marci from years ago.

It’s a far cry from the warning we received on the way out the door by a funny friend, “Don’t get pick-pocketed.” It seems his sum total of knowledge about London is based on the musical, Oliver.

We were lucky enough to be the last diners in Rimon’s restaurant on Brick Lane. They decided to close up shop and sell their building. Bloody shame too; their kormas were the best we’ve ever tasted. But we heard about his plans to become a freelance IT guy and go to concerts every weekend when in the past, he had to work 70-80 hours weeks.

I think people are always searching for connections, whether their gruff exteriors or our haggard looks may throw up walls at first. It’s human nature to look for commonality. And yet there’s the dichotomy of familiarity. Our family can get real snippy with one and other; long days walking around and unfamiliar sleeping patterns can mess with you. But with others, we make the effort and take time to find out where they’re coming from.

I guess that’s human nature too.

We just need a little bit of time and space built into our go-go-go travels. So we’re taking a nice little morning break from family togetherness. Taylor’s doing homework; I’m blogging; Marci’s checking out TK Maxx (which looks exactly like the identical sounding American store) and Skye’s down getting a free haircut at a punk salon because she — you guessed it — spent time talking with them. Am I a bit worried about what shape and color her coif will be? Absolutely.

Am I worried about her getting ripped off? Nah. This ain’t Oliver.

(Nor is it like Doctor Who, which disappoints Skye to no end.)

https://readthespirit.com/rodney-curtis/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2013/03/wpid-rcRestaurant2.jpgThe girls wished Rimon well as he closed up his Indian restaurant and looked forward to a new path.

Dissimilitude

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April 1st, 2012

NOTES FROM LONDON Photo by Rodney CurtisContrast. A striking exhibition of unlikeness. That’s how our good friends over at dictionary.com describe things that are wholly different than each other. London’s Tower Bridge and City Hall were built more than 100 years apart. The design differences — from boxy to bulbous — show how a city […]

NOTES FROM LONDON

https://readthespirit.com/rodney-curtis/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2013/03/wpid-rcTowerBridge.jpgPhoto by Rodney CurtisContrast. A striking exhibition of unlikeness.

That’s how our good friends over at dictionary.com describe things that are wholly different than each other.

London’s Tower Bridge and City Hall were built more than 100 years apart. The design differences — from boxy to bulbous — show how a city shifts through phases and ages.

It seems they have figured out how to make new friends yet keep the old. Classics share the skyline with contemporaries. There’s room for everyone as long as royally approved sight lines to St. Paul’s remain in tact.

Seriously. According to a very knowledgeable friend, new construction can be as tall as it wants, as long as it doesn’t block traditional views of the famous cathedral. That’s why a new building — still being erected and the highest structure in the EU — has taken on the shape of a pointy shard of glass. Otherwise, it would have blocked views of the dome which have been seen above the city for 300 years.

Ah, London. Urban renewal with a keen eye toward modern aesthetics.

And tradition.