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New York Stories

I couldn't make these stories up if I tried

 
 
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It started as a simple favor, to help my boyfriend sell his remaining furniture to pre-scheduled Craigslist buyers after he moved out of his apartment. The night quickly got very interesting as I couldn't get into the apartment. My key, for the first time in over six months of use, would not fit into the deadbolt lock. After struggling with it for what felt like hours, I eventually had to knock on an upstairs neighbor’s door and climb—over her pure white bed—through her window onto the disgusting, little-used back alley fire escape and “break into” the apartment by wrenching the window up and open. Thank god we hadn't locked it earlier. I was out of trouble–or so I thought!

Once inside the apt, I went to open the door from the inside and I still couldn’t get the deadbolt to work from there either. The lock wouldn't turn. Now real panic ensued because I was locked inside the apartment. Oh, and did I mention, when I went to the neighbor's, I left my bag and laptop behind in front of the door. I even left the key jammed inside the lock, which I now thought was blocking my exit! What to do!?!

Luckily I had my phone and so I placed a seamless delivery from the diner across the street hoping the delivery man could come and pull the key out of the lock thus freeing me. Before he delivered my very-quick-to-make milkshake and bottle of water (required to reach the minimum delivery amount), a neighbor in the building walked by and heard me scream for assistance from inside the apartment. Once I explained through the door that I was locked inside the apartment, he pulled the key out of the door and I STILL couldn't get it opened. 

At this point, I did what I always do when I am in an emergency, I called my Dad! He laughed at my ridiculous predicament and then smartly asked me to look around the barren apartment to see if there were any tools left behind that I could use to remove the lock from the door. I searched in desperation and luckily found a random piece of metal that should probably been inside the wall guiding wires to the outlet box holder. It was literally the only small object in the apartment and it had a pointy edge! I was in luck! Welding it against the four screws of the deadbolt, I was able to unscrew them and break the lock free from the door, thus granting my freedom! 

Once free, I retrieved my now well deserved milkshake (which had been delivered by a bewildered delivery man I never met, only yelled out to from behind the door) and personal items. Maybe an hour had gone by, and for once in my life, I was actually thrilled when none of my Craigslist buyers ended up showing up on time.

 


My job search in 2014 could only be defined as frustrating. For too many months to count, I applied, applied, applied, finding nothing that was the right fit. Exasperated, I tried to focus on other fun challenges while I continued my hunt. 

One such project was helping Jose raise money in order to run the New York City Marathon with Team for Kids. In order to participate with TFK, runners have to raise $2,620 to guarantee their entry into the race. Jose had no clue how he was going to accomplish this and expected to have to pay a large portion of it himself. I didn't like that idea, so I started brainstorming how he could build some momentum around the fundraising process. 

My idea, untested but full of potential, was to take a photo of him running alone in Central Park. Every week, I would Photoshop everyone who had donated the previous week into an evolving version of the original shot. He'd post the new picture each Monday morning, tagging and thanking all those in it. For nine weeks, I added friends and family to the picture as the donations came in. The silhouettes I chose were hilarious—people doing yoga, hanging from the trapeze, singing karaoke, riding vespas, etc.

The picture garnered a lot of buzz and we handily reached the fundraising goal. After he posted the final picture, Jose called me and said, "Jennifer, we have a problem!" "What?" I questioned, "We raised all the money!" He shot back, "People are STILL donating! They want to be in the picture!" 

I was floored. Not only did the idea to capitalize on Jose's large Facebook friend pool work, the popularity of the posting took on a life of its own—he was no longer that annoying friend asking for donations. Now participating was about being part of the cool crowd who had already donated. About seeing what random pic we were going to choose to add into the collage. 

On marathon morning we posted the new final image to which I added a healthy dose of confetti. We had done it! 

Fast forward to a mere week later, I had my first phone interview with New York Road Runners! It went well especially when I complimented Karina on the marathon mobile app which I had just used to follow Jose around the five boroughs. Turns out she was the Project Manager on it. Score! 

Three days later, I went into the offices for an in person interview with the IT team. After a panel interview, I was whisked into the COO, Michael Capiraso's office. There, one on one, I told him why I wanted the job and while we were talking, I said that my boyfriend had just run with TFK and I had helped him raise the money. I asked if he wanted to see how I did it. He looked at me incredulously, but said, "Sure, show me."

I had the photos from each week queued up on my phone and when he saw them, his face lit up with amazement! He was so excited that he pulled me from his office across the open floor plan office into a conference room where Emily, TFK's Director, was sitting. He told her the story I had just told him and made me flick through the photos once more. She was less exuberant, but I knew at that moment that this interview had gone REALLY well.

Less than a month later, I was hired at NYRR and one of my first projects was none other than relaunching the Team for Kids website. I had come full circle.

 


 
 

Having never experienced an art auction in person, it was on my to-do list for a while before I registered with Christie's for their First Impression Prints and Multiples sale on July 16, 2013. Knowing he'd be super into it, I invited my dad to come up for the day and we spent it checking out art at MoMA, the Guggenheim, and Christies. 

Because I registered in advance—and gave them my bank account information(!)—once we arrived at the Rockefeller Plaza salesroom, I received a paddle with which to do my bidding. I was number 916 and I was nervous but excited to experience and participate in the auction first hand. I watched a few pieces come and go to get the lay of the land before bidding on Lot 58: a Tom Wesselmann which sold for $3,000, well over the estimate they set for it. 

Feeling a rush from bidding, I decided to up the ante. Following the auction on my phone to see what was coming up, I set my sites on a Picasso. A few came and went before I threw my paddled in the air, caught up in the energy of the frenzy of bidders. As the auctioneer yelled out the bids in rapid succession, my bid quickly landed at $7,000. I just bid on a Picasso print! My dad turned and looked at me with horror. The bidding immediately slowed and as the seconds ticked by we both were filled with dread until finally someone else behind me made the final $7,500 winning bid. From that moment on, the paddle sat in the chair next to me. My arm felt like jelly and my dad's near heart attack scared us both enough to eventually call it a day and proceed to see much safer, not-for-sale art at the museums. 

The auction raised over $1.9 million in sales. I was just thankful to not be personally contributing to that sum!

 


 Date's selfie vs Allen all bundled up for winter.

Date's selfie vs Allen all bundled up for winter.

Some Thursday nights I used to swim. On some, I'd go on dates. Never had I combined the two... Until one Thurs night in August 2013 when I snuck a new guy into the Chelsea Rec Center.

You see, they only let members use the facilities, so when I called and they refused to make a concession for me—a regular volunteer there for the past eight years—I had to dig deep and come up with a Plan B for this stranger I was meeting. 

I figured it out! Dress the 20-something guy up as Allen, my 84 year-old friend/neighbor who graciously let me borrow both his ID card and some choice pieces of clothing--a "Two Scoops" Raisin Bran baseball cap and ratty spring jacket with holes in the elbows--both staples in his wardrobe. 

Once adorned outside the center, my date added a stoop to his stance and avoided eye contact when scanning Allen's photo ID to gain admittance. My heart was beating out of my chest, but it was a success! He got in! Then we proceeded to conduct 80% of our date in Speedos! Me swimming 42 laps (over a mile, whoo!), and he—a pretty buff personal trainer—swimming eight. 

I felt kinda bad for him standing at the end of the lane most of the hour we were in the water, but I also felt some pride that my unathletic self was seriously lapping the self-proclaimed super athlete. Afterwards we got a quick bite to eat and then I returned the "props" to Allen and then went home and passed out, I was wiped. 

 


File this story under, "How the hell did that just happen?!" 

The premise: a second date with Jason (this was before I started numbering them, but he would have been the original Jason #1) on a Wednesday night, March 14, 2012 which I was feeling meh about. I was just not sure about him, but he picked a location that was convenient and cultural—The Rubin Museum of Himalayan Art which I had been to once before. (I don't think I'm only speaking for myself when I say, once you've seen some Himalayan art, you've basically seen it all, but irregardless, back to the story...)

So, we meet at the museum and I convince him to visit the bar first in an attempt to skip the actual art. We notice that a private event is happening, and being that we were both dressed up, we are able to sneak in and join in on the open bar! For about an hour we drink and blend in without incident. We even ask who the party is for and look for Bob, the man of the hour. Eventually some young-ish guys join us at our table and ask us how we knew Bob. I was prepared to keep the ruse up, but not Jason—he immediately spills the beans. "We're crashing," he blurts out! The one guy gets really upset and says, "You're crashing a FUNERAL?!!??!" We look at each other mortified and look back at him with fear stricken faces. Luckily the guy standing next to him jumps in and says, "Oh my goodness, Bob would have LOVED THIS!" And just like that, it is all smoothed over. We clink our glasses and give a hearty "cheers" to Bob and they explain to us how he was childhood friends with Mr. Rubin and had owned a Chinese art gallery on the UES until his death. 

Phew, we survived the night, but that was unfortunately the nails in the coffin for Jason. 

 


My first major accident of my life happened when I was 28 on April 16, 2010 in the late morning when I was riding my bike across 26th St between 7th and 8th Aves. The traffic was waiting patiently for the light to change as I zipped to the corner in the empty shoulder lane.

Suddenly, a girl jaywalking was only a blur in front of me. I immediately found my self bouncing on my helmeted head on the ground landing right under the exhaust pipe of an idling FedEx truck. I quickly got up and out from under the running truck. First thing I noticed was that I couldn't see. I thought my glasses were broken, but it was actually my glasses that broke my face! I had blood all over them and it continued to drip down from above my eye as I collected myself. 

I looked at the girl who I hit, neither of us said a word, she looked panicked. She picked up my bike light which had flown off on impact and handed it to me. Then she slowly walked away. I am sure she was in much more pain than me having been knocked over my me, but I looked A LOT worst and I am sure she didn’t want to be blamed for my bloody face. 

I pulled my bike over to the sidewalk and pulled my phone out. I took a selfie to see what I actually looked like and then decided there is no way a cab would take me in the condition I was in. I called 911 and then proceeded to post the picture on Facebook. Then I called my dad and to my surprise, he had already seen the picture on Facebook and was like, “Where are your priorities?!” I said, don’t worry, the ambulance is coming, I can hear it.” Then I heard the sirens fading away. I received a call from an unknown number. 911 called me back because they couldn’t find me! I told them I was mid block and they looped around and came back for me. I folded my bike up and we were loaded into the back.  

After getting cleaned up and waiting for hours, I received seven stitches above my right eye—my first ever. Luckily the scar has mostly faded, but I do wear it and my helmet every time I am on a bike!

 


 The invitation I received for the party.

The invitation I received for the party.

It was a Tuesday night in late July 2010 and I had agreed to go to my friend Anita 's friend's friend's 30th birthday party at the Ace Hotel Lobby Bar. The birthday girl was from Paris and apparently did not have a lot of friends in NYC, so Anita's friend was trying to get everyone and anyone to go to help celebrate. I'd never been before and it's basically in my neighborhood, so I told her I would definitely be there, but I had to come and go early because Tuesday nights I volunteer teaching computers to seniors. 

The night of, I got my brother to go with me and we headed in to order a drink at the bar in the back. I didn't see Anita anywhere so we just ordered and hung by the bar keeping an eye out for them. 

Once we received our drinks, one guy standing next to us spoke up and asked, "What did you two get?" We got a vodka soda and Jameson on the rocks respectively. "Wow," he said, "You ordered such simple drinks!" I responded without missing a beat, "Yes, and I have to drink it quickly because I have be at my volunteering gig in 45 minutes!" He countered, "Oh, what do you do for volunteering?" "I teach computers to senior citizens." "Oh, really! I work at Grandparents.com," he said. I did a double take!  "Grandparents.com, what's that?" I asked thoroughly intrigued. Shortly there after, I texted my co-team leader Dana, "I'm going to be late, but it's a good story!" The four of us proceeded to talk for another hour or so. At the end, I asked Matt for his card and said goodbye to him and Servan. 

The next day I emailed him expressing interest in the possibly of working for Grandparents.com in a multitude of capacities depending upon what they needed. He emailed back saying they were in a hiring freeze, but to email him at the end of August to follow up. I marked my calendar for August 25th, the middle of the last week of the month. On August 6th he emailed me and asked me if I was still interested in the company. I was! We set up the first of two interview/meetings and in a completely overwhelming turn of events, on August 25th I was hired, and started work at my first full time job in years a mere five days later!

Fast forward three years, almost to the day, and I post this now while sitting across from Matt in his office, as we've become good friends and enjoy each other's company for both solid co-working time and the occasional extended happy hour. I'll leave it up to you whether the moral of the story is to always volunteer or always be social, or both! 

 


 
 
 You can see an example of my work in this New York Times article featuring David and his transformative photographs.

You can see an example of my work in this New York Times article featuring David and his transformative photographs.

For about a year between 2009-2010, I worked for David Paler a high-end real estate photographer. I would ride my bike to meet him at the first apartment of the day, fold it up, pop it in the trunk, hop in the driver's seat and find a parking spot while he took pics. Later in the day I'd be retouching on a laptop while avoiding cops if parked in an illegal spot. Each day was an adventure and I loved always being in different parts of the city (and seeing inside rich people's apartments)!

One morning he rolled up to our designated meeting spot, not in his car, but his wife's Rav 4. Ah, this could be different and fun I thought for a split sec until he got out and said cheerily, "You know how to drive stick, right?" 

I looked at him with horror. I DO NOT know how to drive stick!! I managed to keep the car put during the first job of the day, but when we had a little time before the second shoot, David decided he'd teach me how to drive it. After all, it was easy! 

So we're on the UWS in the 70s near West End Ave--only one of the hilliest parts of the entire island of Manhattan, and my right leg is shaking uncontrollably as I attempt to drive this stupid Jeep-knockoff. At one point the car is sliding backwards down the hill as we wait at a red light. The car behind me is honking like crazy and I am freaking out. 

Despite understanding the concept, watching YouTube videos on my phone and his lesson, eventually we gave up with the training and decided if a cop asked me to move the car, I'd just explain, we'd all be better off if I didn't.

Incidentally my dad remembers me calling him that day while he was on his lunch break. He tried to teach me what to do and asked if I could go to a quiet street. "No!" I said, "I'm in Times Square!" I must have blocked that traumatic detail out of my memory. 

 


How can I forget the scary day on Sept 12, 2009 when I got punched on the N train by a crazy woman because I "laughed at her". She left not only a bruise, but also a lingering sense of fear—I was suspicious of anyone seeming a little off for many months after the incident. 

Let me fill in the details... it was one of the very few times Raymond was in the city. It all started with him actually because while the three of us were holding on to the same pole, in a very deep, odd sounding voice she asked him what he liked to read and then asked me the same question. Our answers were not sufficing—she was into sci-fi! When I let out a nervous laugh (and I should mention, aside from the weird voice, the woman had huge scars on the side of her neck I could see and big bruises on the side he could see), she snapped, punched and then luckily he stepped in between us and firmly asked her to sit down. She apologized profusely and obsessively. Then when she heard me let out a nervous giggle a few moments later, she was again set into a rage. She lunged toward me just as the doors were opening at Prince Street. I leapt off the train as fast as I could and ran down the platform only to watch her through the doors screaming at the top of her lungs while the train sped by. I feel scared for the people left on there with her. This is one experience I am thankful to never have to repeat.

 


 Me at a happier, incident free, blood donation session.

Me at a happier, incident free, blood donation session.

I really like being able to donate blood. As an O+ blood type, I try to do it as frequently as I can. One summer day I was squeezing a donation into my freelancer's schedule and I left Port Authority (40th St) post-donation and decided to power-walk-it home the quick 20 blocks down 8th Avenue. I should mention it was about 90 degrees out and I hadn't eaten much that morning. Can you see where this story is going?

I made it to 24th Street before I started feeling lightheaded. I felt like I needed to sit down, so I sat on the curb for a moment before I rallied myself to get up, walk into the RiteAid on the corner and buy a bottle of water. I made it just steps into the store before I realized, I was losing all control of my body. I very politely raised my hand and announced to the cashiers, "Excuse me, but I am about to pass out," before grabbing ahold of a magazine rack next to the checkout line and pulling the entire thing down with me, splashing the rack and its contents all over me and the floor. It was quite dramatic and not the least bit graceful.

The manager helped me up and to a chair where he gave me some water. Luckily my brother had just moved to the city and was able to come and sit with me before we crept home together. It took over an hour for me to get through the rest of the four blocks and up four flights of stairs to my apt, but eventually I made it. 

 


In the summer of 2008, I was working for CouchKarma, the side project blog from ARRAY Magazine. On June 11th, I set up an appointment to meet with interior designer Robert Passal's assistant Austin to conduct a guest blogger training session. I was working from home in the morning and got dressed up to go over to their office only one and a half blocks over and one up on West 22nd Street. Like most women who don’t wear heels every day, I wear flats and bring heels to switch into upon arriving at my destination. Because this was such a short walk, I decided just to wear the nice shoes. Well that was a mistake! As I was walking over, the thong of my strappy heel broke and I had no choice but to hobble back home with my bare foot actually touching the grimy NYC sidewalk—I had no choice!  

To top it off, my iPhone had an iOS update that morning which rendered it a complete brick so I couldn't even let this guy know I was going to be late. Not knowing him, I was super stressed out by all of this. I managed to get home. I sent him the following harried email and then proceeded to head back out. 

"Hi Austin,

 I was just on my way over just now when my shoe completely broke rendering it unwalkable. I've managed to get back home and replace it with a new pair. I'll be there in 15min. Sorry for the delay,

Jennifer"

When I arrived, I met Austin and realized he was a super cool dude! My age! Totally friendly! Smart! Creative! The training went off without a hitch and we had a great laugh over my fashion snafu. We proceeded to meet up a few days later for a beer and I learned all about his life, girlfriend Mary, and more. And that sealed the deal, I officially became Austin's first NYC friend he acquired outside of his Atlanta contingency leading to years of friendship still going strong today!

 


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Everyone knows I HATE Halloween. It's my least favorite holiday. But back in 2008, I was invited to multiple Halloween functions, including one for work. I had to do something to stop being such a scrooge and have fun with it. I decided it was time to finally live out my childhood dream of being… wait for it… a corn on the cob! I was in middle school or high school when I saw a young girl dressed as a corn on the cob trick or treating around the Ocean County Mall back in Toms River, NJ and ever since, I wanted to dress up as an ear of corn someday too! It was a crazy idea, but I knew with a little help, I could pull it off.

I went home to my parents' place, 15 minutes away from where my inspiration first appeared so many years ago and enlisted them to help me out. They allowed me cut up and use a fake plant to create my leaves. My dad airbrushed kernels on a yellow hoodie. I had green tights, brown heels and even sliced sheets of lamination plastic to create husk on top of my head. I was ready! 

Now I must admit that part of the draw for dressing up was that I could do it in tandem with Raymond. I really wanted him to be a stick of butter, but as you can imagine like most men would do, he flatly refused. "Okay, okay, I protested! How about a farmer?" That, he got on board with, and soon enough, we were farmer and corn hailing cabs, riding subways, and visiting Williamsburg where I met Jason, Danny and a bunch of other friends of Austin and Mary's for the first time. (Little did I know, they all called me Corn Cob Girl for months (if not years?) afterwards until they thankfully got to know the real me. 

On our way back from Brooklyn, the night took an interesting turn when a pair of Boy Scouts invited us, simply because of our costumes, to join them for a rooftop party at the Chelsea Hotel. (Note to self, if you look the part, it doesn't really ever matter if you're on the list. Too bad this is the only time I've been lucky enough to pull that off!) Anyway, we took in the amazing views, hung out with a whole cast of characters including a tranny Tina Turner, a geisha girl, the aforementioned Boy Scouts, and a female penis(!) before calling a night and a very successful holiday—one that I haven't even attempted to top since.

 


"Jennifer, you're always up for anything, want to shoot a gun with me," Mary K. asked in June 2006 as she invited me to join her at the Westside Shooting Range which ironically was only two blocks from my apartment in the Flatiron District on 20th between 5th and 6th. If you can recall, 2006, it was well before the days of Groupon and LivingSocial and people didn't just do random activities like this with the frequency they do with the discounted packages of today.

On June 25th, I was a total nervous wreck leading up to our 2pm appointment. My stomach was in knots as I ate lunch with my parents who were visiting. I tried to let them distract me, but it was no use. I was petrified, there was no way around it, but to face my fear and get it over with. 

Once at the range, we entered a “classroom” where we handled .22 caliber rifles and reviewed how to load and shoot them correctly. Our instructor had to rush through the class because they were closing shortly. Which is ironic seeing is how they let Mary schedule our session at this time. 

The instructor breezed through the whole lesson like shooting a gun for the first time ever was no big deal. I tried to appear calm but I was a bundle of nerves on the inside. We each loaded our five magazines with shiny new bullets—no rubber pellets here! I was noticeably a little slower than everyone else. Why? Because my hands were shaking uncontrollably, each bullet was a challenge to wedge into the magazine. 

We learned all Westside wanted to quickly teach us, were lead into the shooting range—clad in protective eye and ear wear—and we began. This was the moment of truth. Not only was I mentally shaking in my boots, but as I began shooting, my back leg, which is suppose to act as a shooter’s support, was shaking violently and involuntarily. The entire 50 rounds were painful to shoot. I had surprisingly terrific aim although I never came close to warming up to the gun or the process. I loaded each consecutive magazine wishing it were the last. After 15 agonizing minutes I was finally done and so relieved.

"I've got a surprise for you girls," our instructor said, seemly forgetting what time it was. He was holding a gigantic completely black rifle. My heart sank, "Oh no! Not that." My worst fears were confirmed. We received one magazine each to use with a .9mm rifle. I went first. It was much louder and had a considerable kickback. I shot well again but was never happier than when I finished shooting those 10 bullets.

A lot of people think shooting ranges are fun. I guess I can now say I am intrinsically anti-gun. Not only do am I a strong proponent of gun control, but also I now know physiologically I am not a fan either. 

I am glad I experienced shooting at least once in my life, and I proudly tucked away my targets with their bull's eye punctures with the rest of my ephemera stash, thinking, “Thank god I do not have to do that ever again!” 

 


 The Killers portrait for their SNL debut. Keenan and Maya on Weekend Update as Cliff & Clair Huxtable. Topher's opening monologue.

The Killers portrait for their SNL debut. Keenan and Maya on Weekend Update as Cliff & Clair Huxtable. Topher's opening monologue.

The date was Jan 15, 2005, or really Jan 16 when I met Brittany and her friend James at 1:15am at the Playwright Tavern on West 49th Street. Her friend was James Genus, the bass player in the Saturday Night Live Band and we were going with him to the after-party for the 30th season episode #9 with host Topher Grace and musical guests The Killers. Normally I cannot rally to start a night at 11pm if I am not already out, but when you're partying with SNL, since it really IS live, your night is going to start LATE. I watched the show as I got ready and then met them to see where the evening would take us. 

The after-party on this particular night was at The Lemon on Park Ave in the Flatiron District. It was the first and only time I've been as it closed shortly afterwards. At the party, I worked up the courage to speak to both Brandon Flowers and Topher. I was working on a music video treatment for The Killers at the time at Danny Clinch's so I chatted, albeit nervously, with Brandon about that. With Topher I remember making some awful joke that he didn't understand—I think it had something to do with Star Wars, about which I know NOTHING . I remember wanting to run away pretty quickly after whatever I said. But, thankfully, those weren't the highlights of the night... 

After a couple of hours drinking and scoping out the cast while trying to play it cool—and likely failing, who am I kidding—we moved on to the after-after-party! It was at a French Vietnamese place in the West Village called Hue (pronounced WHEY). We went through the restaurant, down some weird fluorescent-lit hallways and landed in a private room which was really dark. But it was there, despite being fully intoxicated and borderline blind, I saw one celebrity that totally had me starstruck. Someone who I could not work up the nerve to speak to, Keenan Thompson! Some context: I grew up on All That and my brother and I couldn't get enough of Everyday French with Pierre Escargot, emulating the character still to this day! The party continued for a few hours and I never did speak to him. By the time we exited, the sun was out, and when I arrived home I took the only picture from the entire experience—my microwave clock that said 6:30am. Then, exhausted, I went to bed for the day. 

 


My high school friend John was visiting me as he occasionally did after I moved here and we were looking for a place to get dinner as we walked from the West Village north towards the Meatpacking District. I decided that we needed to go to Pastis! I'd never been, but knew if I ordered correctly, despite its trendiness, I could afford it. (Incidentally, I still follow this trick!) 

As we were coming up upon the restaurant, I saw a woman sitting at one of the outside tables and said to him, "Oh my goodness, that woman totally looks like Steven Tyler!" He looked and nodded in agreement. Then I looked at her dining companions... "Wait," I said, "That's Liv Tyler and Theodora Richards [Keith Richards' daughter]. That IS Steven Tyler!" Needless to say he was impressed with my restaurant choice, and I ordered the fried green tomato appetizer for my meal. 

 


 Two polaroids taped together show the four stand-ins for Nas. Below is the entire crew with the man of the hour and then the final album cover with 13 Nases.

Two polaroids taped together show the four stand-ins for Nas. Below is the entire crew with the man of the hour and then the final album cover with 13 Nases.

Now for a happier albeit wacky story: the time I hung out and drank Cristal with Nas in the crypt in Harlem. It was 2004, and I was asked to leave my regular workload as Danny Clinch's Special Projects Coordinator/Retoucher for the day and assist for him in shooting the album art for Street Disciple. I was the stand in for each of the Nas's on the cover. He was actually toasting me, passing me the blunt, pouring me a drink, I just of course got completely Photoshopped out in the actual album cover. 
He was a little cold to everyone at first, but once he actually started smoking the blunt, that he was passing to "himself", he became a lot more easy going. Also snacking on the birthday cake and other delicious food on the table proved to be a good pairing for the Cristal. No Craft Services needed at this shoot!  

 


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When I was a student at SVA, school was not my main focus. (Dad, close your eyes!) I was instead focused on the jobs I had at the time. I learned much more from the real-world experiences and generally had more fun working with photos of famous musicians at Danny's and with the contemporary art of up-and-coming artists at Lombard-Freid Projects. 

On the anniversary of my first month living here, Danny asked me to assist him in shooting Dave Matthews Band's free Central Park concert. September 24, 2003, I had English class that day when Lisa messengered me my backstage pass for the show. I know I did not want to, want to brag about it, but I just had to tell my friend in the class what was about to happen. I turned to Kevin and showed him the pass which I had just retrieved from the doorman on our break. He was impressed and a little bit envious. "You have such a cool job! I wish I could work for Danny Clinch." I said, "Yeah, I am super lucky and fortunate," and then followed up with, "Let me see if they need more interns after the holidays, maybe I can get you in there for an interview."

That night I met Danny at the show. I remember not the show so much—luckily there is a DVD of the performance for that—but I distinctly remember having sushi backstage and being around the hubbub of everyone working to get the show off without a hitch. 

Afterwards, we were by the band's trailers and first Boyd Tinsley came over. "Hey Danny! How's it going man?" Danny proceeded to introduce me, "I'd like you to meet my friend Jen." Boyd looked at me, did not shake my hand, but reached down (waaay down, he is TALL) and wrapped me in a sweaty, dreadlocks swatting bear hug. I was shocked and all smiles. 

Next Dave came over. Again Danny introduced me and Dave turned to me and put his hand out and said, "Hi Jen, I'm Dave." I wanted to say, "I KNOW!" But just smiled and mumbled something like, "Nice to meet you." Then he said to us, "Isn't it sad about Johnny?" (Johnny Cash had died only 12 days earlier.) And as soon as he said it, he started singing Ring of Fire a cappella to us. We were getting a private concert from Dave Matthews himself! If this was how my first month was going to play out, I knew I was in for a treat living and working in New York City!

And now, most importantly, to go back to the beginning of the story... I kept my word to Kevin and in January he started as Danny's new intern. He didn't stay an intern for long—Kevin quickly rose through the ranks, to become Danny's 1st Assistant, completely outlasting me there, and still working for DCP to this day! I know he has hundreds of stories like this one that he could share!

 


 The setlist from the concert that night.

The setlist from the concert that night.

On August 25, 2003, my first full day living in New York City, I found out that one of my favorite bands, The New Pornographers, were playing a show at the Bowery Ballroom. For the first time ever, I could see a concert in New York without having to drive the hour+ distance to get to and from NJ. I didn't have a ticket and the show was sold out, but I did not care, I could get there and back by riding the subway a mere four stops! I decided to go down and attempt to scalp a ticket.

Once down on Delancey, people were lined up to get in and I was looking for the stereotypical big black men that certainly were not there for the music. I was nervous, but before I had to test my luck with a big bad scalper, I had the most miraculous thing happened. A group of people saw me looking for someone selling tickets and called me over. They said, "You need a ticket? Here!" They handed me a ticket and I asked, "How much?" (I had a budget, after all!) "It's free, don't worry about it." !!!! I was flabbergasted and thanked them profusely. Smiling ear to ear, I went in and thoroughly enjoyed my first of many impromptu shows on a "school night". I thought to myself, "What an auspicious start to my life here. Could it be a sign of a promising future ahead?"

Turns out, that couldn't have been more true. I am overwhelmed by the wealth of experiences I've had and the generous friends I've made. Wouldn't give up something this good for the world. So thank you, everyone who's become part of my New York Family and thanks to all the real family members who pay me regular visits and indulge me in my love of this city.