Category Archives: Culture

Mickey and Me

We were sitting in a box at Saratoga one fine August afternoon. I know that sounds fancy, but if you’ve ever sat in one those boxes you know it’s more cramped than glamorous. And if you’re like me you’d rather be at a picnic table with a cooler full of beer.

It was hard not to notice the activity behind us as a stream of people stopped to say hello to an older man in nearby box. We almost fell off our uncomfortable chairs when it dawned on us that it was Mickey Rooney.

Rooney was sitting alone with his racing form, about as far away from the finish line as you could get and still be in one of the “exclusive” boxes.

Now, working in TV I’d met tons of well-known people — the most famous of whom was Oprah Winfrey. But Mickey Rooney? He was a freakin’ legend. Regardless, we did our best to play it cool, acknowledging him without seeming like amateurs. We inquired with our waiter about sending over a drink, not knowing he’d knocked off the booze years before.

So we went back and forth with a little small talk about the races and such, without being intrusive. Today I would have invited him to sit at our box; it didn’t occur to me at the time that he actually might have joined us.

Eventually, Mr. Rooney let on that he had a well placed tip on one of the races. A tip? From Mickey Rooney? This we must bet, and not just our small time $2 wagers — no, at 10-1, this was more of a $20 or $30 to win sort of bet.

Naturally, we all lost money on that one.

Nothing was said about the sure thing that was not so sure. If only we could have had a preview of Mickey Rooney’s obituary we would have known that he’d visited many racetracks in his lifetime, and more often than not, made impressive contributions to the sport of kings.

So, here’s to Mickey Rooney. He never lost his taste for the ponies — or his ability to charm an audience.

The Roar of the Greasepaint

Do people have no idea how to act any more?

For example, I went to see Romeo and Juliet on Broadway. Not my first choice, but my wife has always wanted to see the Shakespeare classic performed — and since this production involved Orlando Bloom removing his shirt… well, you get the idea.

Anyhow, the family in front of us spent the entire first act busily rustling around with their snacks. I don’t know what they were into — pretzels, crackers, cookies — but it was feckin’ noisy.  My ears ain’t what they used to be, so the distraction made it hard for me to focus on the play. And it doesn’t help that I have a mild case of misophonia.

Now, everybody knows you should unwrap your snacks before the lights go down, so not to annoy the other patrons. That’s a theatre rule, rather like never mentioning the name of the Scottish play. You just don’t do it!

They quieted down, thank God,  in the second act. Maybe the parents — well-heeled Connecticut types — remembered their manners. Or maybe they caught wind of us grumbling during intermission.

Either way, were able to enjoy all the dying with a little peace and quiet. And the rippling abbs, too, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Calling All Hipsters?

It’s only takes a couple of hours to get from Albany to New York City — but sometimes it seems a lot farther away.

I nearly fell out of my chair when I saw this:

Seriously? Hipsters? Apparently, the people at the paper just heard of these exotic PBR drinking, ironic t-shirt wearing, eccentrically eyeglassed creative-types in Brooklyn. And it’s so exciting, they want to see if they can dig up some real live hipsters around here. I’m betting they’re in Troy!

Look, the hipster trend was so firmly established in 2003 that it was already being roundly mocked — and if you care what New York magazine has to say, hipsterism was already dead by 2010. I’m not saying that the hipster sensibility has disappeared, just that it’s really, really (really) old news.

At this stage of the game, doing a story about hipsters makes you seem like… well, rubes. Or at the very least, a tiny bit clueless.

Anyway, I look forward to next month, when the Times Union will be doing a big feature on punk rockers.