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Take Me Back To Manhattan

Flight 329 had 38 passengers and was an uneventful journey across the country. The red eye departs just 30 minutes after midnight and from Las Vegas that means you arrive in New York around 8 a.m. I would have killed for a cup of coffee, but I know I'm on America West Airlines which means you have to beg, so I went without. Now, to Manhattan, and this once resident is now playing tourist so I have to figure this out because I'm on a budget.

The Carey bus is twelve bucks and drops you off at Grand Central. Not bad. It only took an hour and fifteen minutes for the first bus to arrive. Uneventful ride. Driver had a big sign informing passengers that tips were not included in the fare. I gave him a buck, though I don't know what for.

The ad in last Sunday's New York Times says the Hampshire Ambassador Hotel on W. 45th had single or double rooms for $79.00. Cheap enough. As long as it's clean and safe and don't rent by the hour, it'll be fine and it's about 50 yards from Broadway so that's perfect. I arrive around 10, check in is at 3. I'm jetlagged and irritable and still no coffee. And then the most un-New Yorkish thing happened.

The lovely girl at the check-in smiles at me, looks at her watch and says to me. "Well, I see you're early, why not join us in the dining room for some breakfast and coffee and I'll have your room ready in 15 minutes." Stunned. I asked for the New York Times and this angel hands me a copy. Where am I? Am I in a dream? Coffee was like manna from heaven. Now, the room, I figure, is where they are going to get me. Guess what? It's lovely. Nice carpet and 18th century mahogany furniture. Double bed, desk and recliner. All I need.

Okay, now what? I'm bored. In New York for two hours and I don't know what to do. Like a guided missile I headed over to the Ford Center where there was a line on 43rd Street for tickets to Ragtime. I stood in line just to hear the buzz. "Oh, it's about three families, but they have no names." "I read the book and I hear this is closer than the movie was." "The Times didn't like it, but they don't like anything."

Chuckling to myself as if I were eavesdropping, I stood there for 30 minutes and the next thing I knew, I was at the window. Do I really want to see Ragtime for the third time? You betcha. And it's just the beginning of a long needed theater fix.

After the matinee, I'll be heading over to see The Last Session. Tomorrow, it's the Phantom 10th and the get together at Barrymores, Tuesday is the press opening of The Capeman, Wednesday...Wednesday, what shall I do on Wednesday? Lion King, 1776? Who knows? I'll wing it. In any event, we'll have some special reports for you this week as well as the usual stuff.

Tidbits: The New York Times review wasn't bad enough for Ragtime. Vincent Canby follows up in todays Arts and Leisure section with his column titled, "Big and Beautiful 'Ragtime' Never Quite Sings." I think it's like pouring salt. Even so, there's a huge full color two page ad in the Times for Ragtime with all the glorious quotes of the rave reviews. One paper was not even mentioned. Not a hard one to figure out.

Phantom fans should run out and get the Sunday New York Times and turn to page 3 in the Arts and Leisure section. A full page ad in glorious color with the mask, a rose and a shadowed "10"'s almost framable.

Well, it's almost curtain and I gotta run. We'll have a special report coming at you on Tuesday covering Ragtime 3 and Phantom 10. Christina will have The Capeman for you on Thursday, and Saturday will be a very special day for us. It's our birthday. One year on the web! Whew, how time flies when you're having fun!

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