This is the view from my window tonite during this year’s “Tribute In Light,” which I’ve always felt to be a wonderful idea. I used to be able to see the World Trade Center from here, and I saw it on fire shortly after the first plane hit the morning of 9/11.
I took this from Jersey City, NJ tonite You can see that the lights are actually a bit south of where the Towers stood. The new “Freedom Tower” is directly west of where the North Tower stood (it would be directly behind it in this photo, to the left of it in the first pic).
“How I wish, how I wish you were here.”*
*Soundtrack to this post- “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd written by Roger Waters & David Gilmour, published by Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.
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Denizen of all things late at night that I am, of course I’m watching the first episode of the “Late Show with Stephen Colbert” as we speak and I’m struck by the feeling that one of the biggest changes from “Late Night with David Letterman” is the New York-Centric attitude is apparently being left behind for a more national approach. One look at the show’s intro seemed to make this clear right “off the bat”, with Colbert singing the National Anthem, first at a baseball field in Central Park, and then at different spots all around the country.
Well, if this is indeed his approach, it’s his choice. I wish him good luck. Really.
It gave me pause to reflect on what Dave meant to New York.
Behind the famous awning David Letterman is taping his final “Late Night” as the media scrums on Broadway, 5:30pm, May 20.
Yes, I am a “Letterman guy” of long standing, going all the way back to the early days of “Late Night.” It’s hard to explain why, and what he means to me. Maybe one day I’ll try. He was on the air here beginning in 1982 and throughout all the changes, and the renaissance NYC underwent right up to his final Show this past May 20. The City was as much a part of his show as it was for any local TV News show. Who will forget his opening monologue when his show come back on the air after 9/11, one of the first shows to return. It remains one of his finest moments. Watching it again, almost exactly 14 years later, I was taken by the many levels on which he expressed how he felt about New York.
Then it struck me that David Letterman was here when we needed him, from the early ’80’s through the dot com boom and 9/11…to make us laugh in face of what life was like here at the time, to remind us why we were here, why we stayed here no matter the danger, hardships, absurdity of life here at times, and to show us parts of what is, eternally, even in bad times, great about New York City. Now? The whole world wants to come here, and many want to live here at seemingly any cost.
He played a part in that.
Dave would point out things from the most banal to the most extraordinary about NYC and life in it, then he’d go out to the street and do the most outrageous things that none of us could ever get away with (or get someone like Rupert Gee or Larry “Bud” Melman to). He gave you the feeling that he not only knew what we were all going through, he also knew the way to over come it- by laughing at it, or the absurdity of it. You had the feeling he saw through everything- no matter what. He also would do magical things. Things that you could only see in NYC, right there on 53rd Street, like play tennis with Serena Williams or take a stroll down it with Lady GaGa and Billy Murray (you can see both on youtube). It all spoke of “other possibilities” for our lives, and our lives in NYC. You never know- ANYTHING could happen, around any corner, at any moment! Dave reminded you that THAT is one of the greatest things about being in NYC.
Maybe now we in NYC don’t “need” Dave as much as we did then- I don’t know. I’ll miss him.
A little piece of New York left when Dave drove by me after that last May 20th Show. I’m not sure how many others who live here felt it. It’s one of those small changes life brings every day that’ll hit us one day in the future. But, one by one, as they happen, the place changes. A small piece of it is gone. The question becomes…”What’s next?”
I was standing there in the midst of that very large crowd one minute,
A tiny part of the crowd on May 20, 2015. It extends 200 feet to the right.
and as soon as that van went past, I remember feeling that an era ended and then there was this space, this hole, for whatever the next thing would be that would be part of New, New York.
Change happens in a New York Minute. Dave leaves for the last time as he is driven past me and hundreds of fans. West 53rd Street, May 20.
Only it wasn’t here yet. (Or, is it?)
I wondered about the effect Dave leaving will have on those “little” New Yorkers he thrust into the national spotlight…Rupert Gee of the Hello Deli, right there on 53rd, downstairs at the Ed Sullivan Theater, and the others. You can still go into Hello Deli every day (except Sunday) and Rupert will take your order. He’s a very down to earth, salt of New York kinda guy. Good luck to him and all of them.
We all leave, eventually, whether it’s after a day, a year, 20 years in Derek Jeter’s case, 32 years in Letterman’s, or after our whole life. Not many become a piece of the fabric of New York City, and a reason to be proud to live here.
David Letterman was one of both, and one of those who had a role in making New York City what it is today. I hope the City doesn’t forget that.
As one New Yorker? I say, “From New York, to wherever you are, Thanks, Dave.”
(Soundtrack for this post, “Late Night with David Letterman Theme” by Paul Shaffer. I loved the old opening to the show, like the “Nighthawk in flight,” which changed many times. You can see it here, with poor sound, after 15 seconds of junk…)
PS- If you watched Stephen Colbert’s first show tonite, check out Dave’s first “Late Show.” It’s very interesting to see the similarities and the differences-