June 27, 2012 will be a day I’ll never forget. I had such a blast by myself in New York City. I thought it would be less enjoyable, not hanging out with friends, those great conversations and all that. In the end, it was still an absolute blast. Of course that could all just be clouded by all the success that I enjoyed, but I’m still riding high after yesterday.
My day started at 6am to catch the 8am train. My normal tag team partner, DJKnightRida was kind of enough to take me to the train station before he headed to work. I have stated many times before just how much I truly enjoy riding the trains. Fun, relaxing and comfortable. Harrisburg to New York is the best. Get on the train and when it stops and everyone has left….you get off and vice a versa. I put the headphones on, music playing from the iPod and layed back and relaxed.
Got into NY right around 11am. Shockingly, I am finding myself more comfortable in the big city, as far as navigating it goes. After I was off the train, I knew where to go to go upstairs, hit the head and head outside. I went directly to MSG doors to catch a cab to my first destination. I got in the line and got a cab within 5 mins. Got to my first location….the theatre for my first target and # 1 want…Tom Pelphrey. I waited by the staging door and growing anticipation. It was about 11:20 and my head remained on a swivel for the next 2+ hours. A lot of people were going in and out of the door, but no Tom Pelphrey. By 1pm, I had noticed I hadnt seen any of the other actors either. Now, I am bad with faces….and names. If its not someone I am REALLY familiar with….forget it. But still, I havent even seen someone that resembles these folks. The growing anticipation was slowly being replaced with nervous fright. SO CLOSE and yet SO far away. No Tom Pelphrey? Really?
As 1:30pm passed and a 2pm curtain time…..I knew they had to be inside already. Did I really miss Tom? Did I really miss all these people? Was the sign on the door “Staging Entrance” a double cross? I was about ready to pack it in and then decided to call an audible and go for the Hail Mary. What do I have to lose? While waiting there 2 hours I had seen this gentlemen come in and out a few times of the staging entrance. He was standing in front of me and just got off his phone. I decided to hike the ball and let it rip. I went up to the guy and introduced myself. I explained I had traveled 4+hours, a tiny exaggeration, to meet Tom Pelphrey. John introduced himself and asked me, “who’s Tom Pelphrey?” Dear John, pun intended. After I told him about Tom, he immediately knew who I was speaking of. I asked if there was anyway possible that I could meet Tom. John said he would go inside and see what he could do. Not 5 minutes later….TOM PELPHREY!!!!! Touchdown…prayer answered. Tom opened the door and came out to meet me. I gave Tom a gift, a custom action figure I made for him from his famous fountain scene from his days on Guiding Light. That scene was the driving force behind his first Daytime Emmy….at least I think so. Tom looked it over and thought it was pretty cool. He asked me how long I had been out here waiting for him? I told him over 2 hours and he asked why I didnt ask someone to come get him earlier? I’ve met some nice celebrities. I most definitely have. But “come get you”? This would a first time and completely unheard of. I asked Tom for an autograph, but he explained that he had to get on stage. My heart was in my throat and now it was sinking like a runny bowel movement. He asked me if I could come back? HELL YEAH I CAN COME BACK! We agreed on 7:20 and I would ensure I was back early.
Never count the eggs before they hatch, but I was stoked. Next on the list was Channing Tatum. Jumped in a cab and whizzed on over to Letterman. As I got dropped off and approached, I saw a large crowd across the street. Being that Tatum shouldnt be arriving for another 2.5hrs…..I couldnt figure out what this crowd was for. There had to be 50 people there; fan girls, cougars and ebayers….OH MY! As I got closer, my fear was confirmed…..this indeed WAS for Channing Tatum. I got here about an hour earlier than I had planned too and this?!?! I joined the crowd and was about 4 rows back, with the ebayers behind me. This was NOT looking good. My prime objective was to get a picture. How would this happen, unless Channing was planning to hop over the rail and join me 4 rows back. Stage diving looked out of the question. Crowd surfing didnt seem realistic. At least I had some time to think of a new strategy. This hobby is one that requires a lot of thinking on the fly. 90% of the crowd were chicks. One thing I know about women…..they dont like to sit or stand still. As the girls in the 3rd row turned to talk to their friends, I took a step forward. Cool….I’m one row closer. A few mins later, the girl in the second row took a seat on the ground, I took a step forward. Cool….one row closer. So on and so forth, until I was dead center, on the rail and in the first row. MUCH BETTER!!!!
As I was getting settled in, I started so idle chit chat and had some good conversation with a couple of the fan girls around and even talked to this dude. He told me that Tatum would be arriving earlier due to a change in tv time. There was no mention on the website about the time changing. Now he was supposed to be here at 3:30pm. That means……he should be arriving any minute. WHOAH! A couple of quick text messages to a buddy, who did the footwork and confirmed…it was indeed true. Channing Tatum wasnt coming in a few hours…..he is coming RIGHT….NOW.
Got my poster out and my Deco prepped. Camera is working, check. Ok. The calm before the rush is settling in. Now, while I say I was there Tatum….he was the main event. There were still other gets to be got, including a band that I really like their music; Gaslight Anthem. Not a gigantic fan by any means. But I do have a few songs on my iPod and like I said….I like their music. So they definitely were a want. In addition, Scott Pelley from 60 Minutes was scheduled on. But my first get was Biff Henderson. I’ve never done Letterman before, so getting a picture with the iconic Biff Henderson was a must. Biff was nice enough to come over, even after several of the fan girls screamed for him to come over. None of them wanted anything, just heard me say I wanted a picture. But hey, Biff came over and all was good. Pic turned out good and he became my first meet of the day, technically. A few minutes later, Scott Epplley arrived. His car parked near the door and stayed there. He came out and I called out to him, as no one else in the crowd knew who he was. He said he would take care of me after the show. Turned out to be But could have been an honest mistake. More on that later.
As a NYC police officer came strolling in on his bicycle, looking like he was looking for his opportunity to get off park duty by arresting One Percenters (21 Jump Street humor), I knew the time had arrived. Shakacon! Letterman’s staff came out and were standing by the door. The SUV pulled up and Channing Tatum was here! Picture first, auto second. Tatum came out and girls shrieked…..and 1 dude to my left. With nothing by 10 minutes left before Letterman starts, Tatum comes over and start to his left, my right. He starts at the first person and takes a photo and then another and another and….another? Hmmm…..trend developing. People have pictures, magazines, dvds, etc and yet nothing is being signed. Hmmmm. Initially, I was ready to self blast. Been practicing and was extremely confident. However, the crowd is unruly. I got people from my left pushing towards me, towards Channing and ebayers from behind with 8x10s flapping against my head. Sticking my arm out and trying to self blast seemed like it might be a bad idea. There was a lady, whom I think was from Letterman that was shooting pictures of Channing taking pictures with fans. She might have been with Tatum, but didnt see her get out of the SUV. She stopped for a moment right in front of me. So I quickly asked if she didnt mind taking my picture when he gets to me. She was very gracious and took my camera. When Tatum got to me, I pointed to her and got a FANTASTIC photo! Tatum moved to the next person, as I got my marker out and had my poster out now. Channing just kept moving down the line. I screamed out for him and told him I came 5 hours, slight embellishment, to meet him and get my poster signed. Tatum turned and backtracked to me. I asked him to personalize it, but he said he was in a rush and quickly signed it. He went back down the line and kept taking photos. He definitely was not out there the 10 mins. before tv time, but it was close. Once Tatum went inside, the crowd disbursed……leaving only about 20 people remaining. A few people came up to me questioning how I got him to sign it for me. One other person claimed to have gotten something signed, but everyone else was bewildered.
Knowing how fan friendly Tatum is, I wasnt giving up my spot. With less people and him having more time after the show, I would guess he would come back down for round 2. Then it dawned on me….whats the best thing I could have him sign? My other Retaliation poster? My 21 Jump Street Blu Ray cover? My Retaliation Duke figure? A $20 bill? Oh no. I wonder….just how far is the closest place to print an 8×10? After some info gathering…..I found out it was up the street and 2 blocks down. I asked one of the girls I was talking to if she wanted to make some money. Before I could finish the sentence, she said yes. Wonder if she has done this before Anyway, I told her I’d pay her $20 …..let me finish. I’d pay her $20 to run down to this place and get my photo printed on an 8×10. I wasnt about to give up my spot in case Gaslight Anthem came out or Tatum reappeared. I at least have my phone as a backup camera and something for Tatum to sign. So for $20, she took me up on my offer and was gone. Of course, I didnt pay her up front and she would have to fork out the payment for the 8×10, with me holding her $20 till she returned. She took off and in the time she left and the time she returned….the crowd had doubled.
In what seemed to be no time at all, she was back and the photo turned out awesome. She was paid her money and I had something crazy to get signed. And lucky for me, it was but another 5 minutes and the Blue Blood returned. The SUV pulled up and the bell sounded. Round 2 was gonna begin. Tatum came out, this time dressed in his suit. Headed right over to us. The crowd, which seemed to be larger than before and definitely more animalistic than before almost toppled the barricades over. The police officer warned everyone that it was gonna be over if that barricade was flipped. The ebayers were much more vicious, knowing this was the last round. And once again….picture, picture, picture….there was no signing. An ebayer screamed out “Channing why wont you sign? Dont you care about your fans?” He was just a couple people from me. The ebayer screamed out “your fans are what made you, you should sign this for me.”. Channing got to me and saw my photo, that not an hour ago we had taken. He stopped and said….”This is a fan.” He signed my photo and gave me a really nice Channing Tatum auto. And continued his way down the line. Once again….less than 10 mins, he was gone.
Extra animated silly bananas!
With Tatum leaving, the crowd of 60 became a crowd of 5. Some of the folks started heading to 1 theater next to Letterman and some others to right behind us where Raven Simone was performing for Sister Act. I was waiting around for Gaslight and Scott Ep….AW MAN!!!! I looked across the street and evidently in the melee for Channing Tatum, Eppley’s car was gone. No Scott Epplley.
Now from down the street where many had gathered, I heard a roar. I look over and this guy comes running out and begins signing. Wonder who that is. I look at the theatre sign…….JIM PARSONS!!!!! Yes…the same Jim Parsons from Big Bang Theory. BAZINGA!!! I scurry over, but this crowd was huge and I was no where near the rail. Jammed in like sardines in a can, there was but 1 hope. The hungry ebayers coming up empty on Tatum, were out for blood. I bypassed the rails and tried to intercept Parsons on the end right on the street in hopes of a pic. Sadly, a security guard was standing there and told me to get off the street. Parsons was done and left. I was later told that after each show, he comes out and signs. Thats pretty cool. Wonder if thats standard operating procedure for Broadway plays? If you know…feel free to hit me up.
I walked back up the street, this time right to Letterman’s door. There I found a girl wearing a Gaslight Anthem shirt. Nice to see a fellow fan. I asked if I missed any of the band and she said no. Cool. And just as I said it…..Alex Levine, Guitarist for Gaslight Anthem. I asked him to sign my picture, which coincidentally I had a Shawn Michaels promo in a top loader underneath it to secure it in my backpack. He saw the HBK promo and that led us into a 15 minute chat about wrestling, Bouncing Souls and him being good friends with CM Punk. He grabbed his jacket and showed me the back where it says; “Its Clobber’n Time!” He said he went to Survivor Series and loved it. Big wrestling fan. So we exchanged info. and you never know where Gaslight Anthem might be next.
A few minutes later, Benny Horowitz…..Barry Horowitz’s nephew came and drummer for Gaslight Anthem came out. He was the quietest of the bunch, but more than obliging to sign my photo and take a picture with me. On top of that, he isnt really Barry Horowitz’s nephew, just curious to see if anyone would believe it for the brief second you read it until now. And for those who dont know who Barry Horowitz is…..you’re not missing anything.
Another 10 minutes and the lead singer, Brian Fallon was out. Brian came out with some friends and they were talking for awhile, as we patiently waited. 2 more fans joined us and now there were 4 of us. 15 minutes or so later, he finished up and came right over to us. In what became bad timing, the 4th and final member of Gaslight came out and immediately went the other way. Brian was super cool. He signed my photo and took a pic with me. He stayed around for I dont know how long, as I had to leave after about 15 minutes. He was really down to earth, super cool and loved to talk and listen to his fans. He talked about how the band was on the way to becoming big, playing on Letterman, the new album, major labels, what he loves about his music and how fans deserve better. He even talked about his favorite band and how he is still a fan of music and why, even on a major label…..Gaslight Anthem will continue to be ultra fan friendly. Thats why they were doing this free concert here tonight. They must be doing something right, cuz I heard some people were paying $175 and $200 for tickets to sold out Boston shows from the fans that were there. I apologized for having to leave and thanked Brian for the auto and photo and left.
I started walking down Broadway to hit the head at McDonalds. Besides, I figured, it would be easier to get a cab on the busy street. Couldnt have been more wrong. 9 cabs went by and they all had people in them. So I kept walking and stopped over at one of the side streets and tried to catch a cab there. 4 went by and no luck. Ok…..I think I am better off walking, I’m only about 6 blocks away now.
As I am strolling down through Times Square, I see…………… NAKED COWGIRL!!!! Its a site to see…..from a distance. Blue haired, cowgirl hat, guitar and all but nekkid. No pics, no proof? Scroll down for pictures of drooping boobs over a guitar.
It was but 6:15…..over an hour early for my appointed #1 want meet. When I got to the spot, I saw John waiting outside. I told him I couldnt thank him enough. Told him that Tom told me to meet him here at 7:20 and John said he knew. Cool. He told me Tom went out for a run around the city and would be back. While waiting for Tom to return, John and I chit chatted about NYC, the theatre, Tom, Pennsylvania, his hobby of building things by hand and my hobbies of celeb hunting and building websites. John is a very talented set designer and has worked on some of the biggest shows on Hippo. He said he would be moving onto Tyson’s show very soon and met Tyson just the other day at a press conference they had. $250 gets you front row seats and meet n greets with Tyson at his show. Not too bad of a deal, while nosebleeds are $75. Some of the other crew came out and started to talk to John. I stepped away to wait for Tom and one of the guys asked who I was and John had said, this was the guy that came all the way from PA to meet Tom.
It was still a ways away from 7:20, so I just continued to patiently wait till I heard what sounded like thunder coming. I looked up and saw Tom Pelphrey charging up the street. John said he was out on a jog….but Tom was coming like a speeding locomotive with the ability to leap tall building in a single bound…..ok, he was coming fast. I thought at first he was simply trying to scare the crew, but he was just doing his thing. He ran to the top of the block and then walked back down. He greeted me and thanked me for coming back. He asked what I had for him to sign. I pulled out my first piece, an 12×18 studio shot from Guiding Light. Tom signed it and even inscribed a message to me. Just like my Paul Wesley meet from Wizard World…..I love the little inscriptions. Tom talked with me for about 15 minutes about where I came from and me following his career and wishing he had more internet presence. I told him I didnt even know about him doing this play till the other day. I explained I had won the Excuse Me For Living FB contest and got an 8×10 signed by him from the movie and then I saw they were doing an autograph signing with Melissa Archer coming up and I had asked if there was any chance he would be doing the signing with Melissa. They told me you were doing Hippo, so you wouldnt be available. So I did my internet research and found the theatre and voila! Tom told me he had a FB account, but never used it. I told him I knew….I got a message from him before. He said than I was like 1 of 2 people, cuz he just never seemed to have time to get back on. We talked about his lack of internet presence and how social networking is a huge advertising stream that reaches so many people. He asked for my contact info and I gladly gave it to him. Tom signed my other 2 photos, including a pic. he never saw before and asked where it was from. I told him it was a shot from Guiding Light when Lizzie went into labor in the snow storm while Jonathan was trying to take her to the hospital and Lizzie had to give her birth in the storm. I asked Tom for a photo and Tom asked John to take it for us. John was happy to do and took one full shot and then said lets do an up close one and did that as well. Both turned out awesome. Tom said he had to go and get a bite to eat before the next show and was off. I thanked him for his time and for coming out to meet me when he didnt have to. I thanked John for his help once again and told him I hope to see him again.
The meets were done and day was wrapping up. Beautiful weather, slight breeze in the air and smell of success loomed about me. I went to hail a cab, but was now having no luck with this. Two went by and both were full. This dude rides up on a bicycle with a carriage attached. He asked me where I was going. I said Penn Station. He said he would take me over for $20. Knowing I spent like $15 earlier with tip….I told him I would pass. I spotted a cab dropping some people off and figured I would hit that guy up. He dropped his price to $15. I said for $15, the cab would be faster. He stops me again…..$10 and I’ll get you there quicker. I said how and he said he could go where no cab can go. Ok Starship Enterprise…..lets do it. I jump in the carriage and he begans peddling up the street. Instrad of heading to the light and turning, he ducks into a parking garage and begins to cut through the middle of the block. Peddling around parked cars and almost running over someone, he comes out the other end to find a HUGE amount of traffic in the road. Instead of waiting, he decides to peddle down the sidewalk and crosses into Broadway traffic. OMG!!! I’m gonna die.
Sitting at a red light. A taxi next to me with a driver staring at us and a big truck behind us, we waited and then peddled on when the light turned green. I took a picture while on this ride so you could see what I see. We were almost struck twice more, before he made it to MSG. He pulled right into the cab lane, I had earlier taken a cab from, cutting right in front of a cab pulling in to drop off, me with my eyes covered saying a prayer…..and a Cop screaming at him. I paid the man $12….$2 tip and grabbed my bag. The cop gave the biker a tongue lashing, all the while he biker ignored him and thanked me for the tip. I headed inside MSG to Penn Station.
My adventurous and miraculous day was wrapping up. Had dinner at Fridays before my train took off. After eating dinner, it was great to know there was no long drive ahead. It was slap the headphones on….crank the music, read some comics, take a nap and enjoy the ride home. Put another homerun in the books, today was a grandslam win!