3:30am: I'm awake. I'm supposed to wake up to an alarm in another half hour, but my body, despite being on sleep aids has decided I need an extra half hour to get ready for the day. After a moment I decide my body is right. I have to shave my head and face and be very very thorough about so the extra time takes the sense of being rushed off the table. I am suddenly aware that I am waking up at the time I usually go to sleep. This is weird and it hits me just how long this day is going to be.
I get up, shower and do the shave thing. I'm excited. Today constitutes what is my first paying acting gig in many years, and even though its not a full on production, just a promo stunt, it feels really good.
5:00am. I am out the door in my new Jos.A. Bank suit and my charcoal grey longcoat. I haven't dressed this well in years and I am suddenly very aware that the neighborhood I live in isn't that great and its 5am and I am looking damned upscale. I walk cautiously and even cross the street when I see a couple of teenagers coming up the block toward me. Jeez. When did I become THIS guy?
5:15am: The A train arrives, running local. This is fine as it will take me right to the F. So far so good. I have to be at the hotel at 6am sharp to have my eyebrows covered. I'm excited and amazed to be upright. I listen to Dan Savage's podcast to stay awake. Nothing like listening to people's sexual issues and Savage's awesome if sometimes snarky advice before sunrise.
5:55am: I arrive at Stay..a new hotel on 47th street. I'm right near where I used to go to High School. It's the first of many moments of walking by significant areas of my past. The day is going to have an element of weirdness I hadn't anticipated.
6:20: I am in a small hotel room with 10 other guys with shaved heads in suits and two make up artists. I've had to get my own coffee as there is none provided. That irks me a little as coffee and pastries at gigs this early is pretty much SOP, but since I'm getting a free suit out of the deal, I get over it really fast and get my own coffee.
My eyebrows get spirit gummed, waxed and covered. I'm really looking like an Observer now. My inner actor is excited and dancing with my inner fan boy. The only thing better would be actually playing an Observer in an actual episode of Fringe. But this is damned fun.
7:00am: We are split into two groups of 5. One group is to go to the Today Show, the other, Fox & Friends. I am really hoping for the Today Show as those three morons on Fox & Friends really bug me. I am of course chosen to go to Fox. But I'm getting a free suit and $250 so I get over it.
7:15am to 8:40am: I am standing outside the Newscorp Building in Rockefeller Center doing the Observer thing. (Silent, watching, creepy) The show is broadcast and I am forced to remain stoic while Steve Doocy, Gretchen Carlson (her credentials according to their website is that she is the first classical violinist to be crowned Miss America.) and Brian Kilmeade kiss Rudy Giuliani's ass while he lies up and down and up and down. As I listen though I am relieved to realize that this scumbag won't be running for Governor of New York, which I think he has a shot at winning, but is instead running for President again, which will help him succeed in travelling from being America's Mayor to being America's least liked scumbag. Later Brian Kilmeade says “Not all Muslims are terrorists, but certainly all terrorists are Muslims” I nearly vomit. But I remain stoic and scare the hell out of passersby. Despite the 3 Blind Idiots in the background I am having fun...and at about 8:30 the show goes to break filming me and 3 of the other Observers on the street.
The first time I am on television since my episode of Law & Order 15 years ago and its on Fox & Friends. I'd be unhappy, but I'm on television and I'm getting $250 for the day and a free Jos.A.Bank wool and cashmere suit. I get over it real fast.
9:00am: Grand Central Station. Here the fun really kicks in as people are milling about and stopping and staring. Some of the other guys end up having pictures taken with passersby. I am just stared at, I love it.
10:00am: Times Square. We are in the area that has been closed off to traffic. I'm sitting at one of the chairs with a circular table. This is a major relief. My shoes are very bad shoes and I have been on my feet since 6:30 this morning and I have an artificial hip. I'm actually in a great deal of agony. It makes being stoic a bit easier.
The sitting helps a lot though I am still achy.
School children come by. They are about 9 years old or thereabouts and very excited by what they see.
“Hey that bald man moved” “so what stupid, they're not statues” “can I have a picture Mrs. Jones, with them?” “What are they doing” “It's a TV show, I think my mom watches it.”
They are adorable.
A pretty girl of about 20 is staring around with 2 friends of hers. She gets one of the folks who hand out Tabasco sauce and say “Watch Fringe on Fox tonight at 9” to take a picture. The girl sits in the chair next to mine and her friends stands behind her. I am “observing” facing away from her. I hear her say “Dude, don't look over at me, ok?”
Now to me, that just means, “Please look right at me” so I slowly turn my head and give her a wondering, quizzical stare. She jumps. “DUDE” and her friends laugh. I turn back and look across the street, she settles in and has the picture taken. The Tabasco girl is laughing and so are the pretty girl's friends. The walk off and I hear her say to her friends “I want to crack one of them up”. This almost cracks me up.
More tourists come by, more pictures are taken.
In the walks between sites we are working, I have passed by 10 different places where I've once worked and also where I am currently working. And of course, where I went to High School. Later today I will be attending the memorial Jerry Eskow. There seems to be a real symmetry to the day and I am glad that this is a day that I am working as an actor. Jerry would be pleased I think
11:30am: I am finally eating breakfast at Andrew's Coffee Shop and stopping to get vitamins at The Vitamin Shoppe. I wolf down the eggs and bacon and coffee...ahhhhhhhh. Then head over to Macy's for the second half of the event.
11:50am: Herald Square, lots of passersby. We are basically all together in another part where traffic is no longer allowed. But it is part of a crosswalk so there are plenty of people to creep out. And creep out we do. I stand at the edge and stare into the windows of passing buses which are slowed by traffic. I gaze at every passenger I can. Inside I am grinning at the reactions even though on the outside I show nothing more than an otherworldly curiosity. My back and hip and feet are aching again. So much walking. So much fun.
Twice I am asked what is going on by passersby. I silently direct them to one of the Tabasco people. Some are fans already and shout OH YEAH. Others say weird.
We are being filmed for the promo. Some genius walks up to the cameraman who is gazing intently into his viewfinder to set up a shot.
GENIUS: Excuse me, are you filming something?
CAMERAMAN: Calmly and nicely tells him what's going on.
INNERJOHN: No, moron, he's fucking the camera right here in the middle of Herald Square.
Really, I am exercising delicious self restraint today. $250 and a free suit. Did I mention its a $600 suit?
1:00pm: Union Square. The last site. We are all pretty exhausted actually but still having fun. There are benches and a couple of us sit and do our creepy resty thing. But there are few passersby in this part of the Square.
It starts to rain, so we go down into a subway entrance and scatter among the stairs and turnstiles. This affords a fantastic opportunity to stand at the gate and observe commuters who are unnerved by what is happening.
At a certain point a very drunk woman comes down the stairs...talking out loud about some craziness. I watch her out of the corner of my eye because she might be trouble. She's that drunk.
She pauses for a moment before the turnstile and looks around, stumbling a bit as she sees 10 men of varying ages, all baldheaded, all very well dressed. She shakes her head “Oh no no no. I need to get right the fuck home now. I can NOT deal with this. No no no sir” We are all desperately trying not to crack up.
1:50pm: A cameraman from the local Fox News station comes down to shoot us for awhile. He seems to be having a great time with it all and it turns out he's a Fringe fan. He says this should be on the news tonight, but a friend on Facebook tells me the next day that she saw me that morning. It creeped her out. I get very pleased.
I pass by so many places I used to work today, its like my past is sort of surrounding me. I decide its a way of saying goodbye to all those old non acting jobs while I am acting. I like it.
2:10pm: We are done. I am exhausted, but I have a memorial and then work later. So I grab more coffee, some spicy cinnamon gum and head to the office where I work to use the Men's Room to take off the wax and gum from my eyebrows. And get some rest. My body is really aching pretty badly.
I'm not even half done with the day yet.
To be continued...
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