vaya con pance

and then i was gone January 30, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — gogopance @ 11:57 pm

“I had come from out of town, and to me New York was a hive. You could not just live here. You had to be somebody, do something, it didn’t matter what. You were not a part of the city unless you were on a bus or a subway and on your way to an office or a factory or a schoolroom. How could you know New York if you had not bolted your lunch in a coffee shop or had not had your subway stall under the East River or had not had to stand on a the bus for 30 blocks because it was rush hour? You could not. The best way to know New York, to learn to love New York, was to let it wear you out.”

– Mary Cantwell, “Manhattan, When I Was Young”


felony melanie receives parole papers

Filed under: Uncategorized — gogopance @ 9:53 am

(To Gregg: notice unintentional time of screen grab)


new york moment #10 January 29, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — gogopance @ 10:26 am


My big city sea legs firmed up after my first year in NYC and it came time to leave the two boys in Greenpoint, Brooklyn and get my own big-girl apartment on the island of Manhattan. I found a studio on 82nd Street between First and York avenues for $1100/month and moved in with nothing, having just vacated a glorified closet. I bought a new mattress and a desk and eventually retrieved the rest of my furniture that was lying in wait all this time in Virginia.

But I really needed a couch.

Thankfully BFF and fellow city-dwelling Blacksburgian Suzanne, was upgrading her upholstery and had a love seat to get rid of. DIBS! But figuring out how to get it from Murray Hill to the Upper East Side without access to a car was causing pause.

“No problem,” she mused, “I think Justin has his truck here, I’m sure he’ll help us.” Justin, another BHS alumni who calls NYC home, did in fact come through to help us. I had never actually met him before, but that didn’t seem to matter at all.

So Justin pulls up in his well-used pick-up truck and double parks so we can quickly shove the love seat onto the back bed. Then we all pile together in the front cab space and without so much as a blink he peels out onto First Avenue. We bounce up along the edge of Manhattan, the couch bouncing in the back, loud country music plays on the radio; all of us from the same hometown, now in the same big city. We already knew how to honk often and unapologetically and how to speed up at each intersection to keep up with the string of timed green lights.

I marveled at the ridiculous image of us, suddenly awash in homesickness. As the streets ticked by I felt like the life that I had always known, was now carrying me to a life I had no idea about. I was instantly lonely, scared and doubting my decision to be in the city. Justin was going to push me and my couch out of the truck and then drive away, taking everyone and everything I knew with him.

But I did stay in New York, for eight more years. I moved about in a happy bubble, floating around different groups of people, sometimes settling long enough to let them in. I wasn’t really aware I was collecting them until it came time to say goodbye. Without my noticing they had all become friends overnight. Friends that as a team became the foundation of my home, the furniture I was missing. Without them my bubble would have surely popped.

The compulsion I feel to seal in one last memory with each and every one of them is so much more powerful than what our individual relationships were to begin with. They weren’t part of my daily or even monthly life, yet I can’t let them go. I want to throw them in the back of the pick-up so they’ll come with me. I think as long as the lights stay green we’ll get there together. But if the lights turn red I might stop long enough to admit it’s likely I’ll never see them again.


new york moment #9 January 28, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — gogopance @ 3:42 am


Ryan Adams’ music was brought to my attention when I still lived in Atlanta and the first time I saw him live was at The Tabernacle, a church-turned-concert-venue located downtown. The show was just a few weeks shy of my move to New York. The Tabernacle is built for standing audiences only but Ryan had folding chairs set up in rows, presumably so we could sit comfortably and quietly to enjoy his, then infamous, acoustic set awash in plenty of red wine. His glass was always more full than mine, as I recall.

Ryan hails from North Carolina and that particular show was also the first time I heard his signature ballad, “Sweet Carolina.” When he strummed the opening chords the crowd went immediately silent. You could hear sins being forgiven. This must be some tune, I thought, while sitting comfortably and quietly in my folding chair.

Midway through the song his voice dropped as he whispered the line “the sweetest winds, they blow across the South.” At that the silence cracked and all my good Southern neighbors proudly, but subtly, start clapping and uttering shy, conservative “Wooooooos.” That celebration – that teeny bit of geographic solidarity which teetered on singer-songwriter cliche – made me second guess my well-planned move North. Even though I had never heard the song before, I clapped and I woo’ed. Yeahyeah… I was moving to New York City in a few days, but I was born in the South, dammit! I belong in the South. I just do.

Flash forward to my first summer in the city… Ryan is playing a free concert in Battery Park. Since I was a paid-in-full fan at that point I was front and center. I remember it being 100 million degrees outside and lest we forget there was no AC in my abode, shy of me sitting in front of an open refrigerator door. To get away from all the sweaty bodies after the show I started walking along the riverfront, when I actually SEE Ryan clumsily climbing on a random statue (he hadn’t given up the red wine quite yet).

Oh my goodness! Oh my goodness! Oh my goodness! (Real life exclamation was more like HOLY SHIT! HOLY SHIT! HOLY SHIT!) He was pretty much all alone so I walked right up to him and introduced myself, gushing about the one thing I knew we could connect on.

“I just moved here! Yeah, NYC is cool… but whatever. blah blah blah. I’m from Virginia… I LOVE the South!!!”

The picture doesn’t show it, but I’m wearing my very first “I Heart NY” apparel.

Years later I was at a friend-of-a-friend’s show at CBGBs (R.I.P.) and Ryan showed up in the audience. By request he performed one song to the crowd of at most fifteen. Our respective every-day New York Citys were overlapping. And even more years later – last December actually – I bought a ticket to see him play at Carnegie Hall. The venue was on my NYC bucket list and Mr. Adams, who somehow kept me rooted in my roots all these years, opened with “Sweet Carolina.”

I had already made the decision to move back to Virginia, away from New York City. Plans were in motion. And when he came to the line, “the sweetest winds, they blow across the South,” no one clapped and no one woo’ed. There was only comfortable silence.


new york moment #8 January 27, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — gogopance @ 2:23 am


The famous Plaza Hotel, home of Eloise and Kevin McAllister and backdrop to countless scenes in cinema and television. One of New York’s more recognizable buildings, it’s commanded the Southeast corner of Central Park for over a century. An Apple store has recently gone in across the street, also famous in a contrasting “new money” way for its glass cube entrance loosely [poorly?] resembling The Louvre pyramid in Paris.

I imagine, though I have no proof, that not too long ago there was a blurred division of priorities when half of the city said, “The new Apple store? You know, it’s across the street from The Plaza.” While the other half said, “The Plaza Hotel? You know, it’s that building across the street from the Apple store.”

ANYwho. Back in 2005 The Plaza Hotel was set to completely close down for renovations. No commerce would pass in or out whatsoever for the next few years. Under *much* local controversy the improvements called for half the building to be redesigned as big-ticket condo space while the other half would remain good ol’ original hotel space.

That same year I had a tight group of friends that I watched The OC with every week. The OC = Fox’s trashy answer for filling the teen drama hole left by Dawson’s Creek the previous year. (One Tree Hill just didn’t cut it.) We gave ourselves ridiculous nicknames (yours truly was P. Body), we had inside jokes, we had favorite bars for pre-drinking (Rodeo Bar) and most importantly we had one dedicated night a week to get drunk, silly, loud and gossipy.

It was OC Night. No one could penetrate our posse. We were our own teen drama.

One drunken OC Night toward the end of the first season someone (that’s the brilliance of a drunken night – there is no accountability – good or bad) had the idea to book a room in The Plaza Hotel on the same evening The OC finale would air. It would be perfect! A respectable farewell homage to both a New York landmark and a season of quality television programming.

Two OC Night members walk into The Plaza:

We decided to dress up, have our pre-drinks in the famed Oak Room lobby bar and all crash slumber-party style in the reknowned digs. The thing is… that Thursday night ended up to be the-next-to-the-last-night The Plaza was open for business at all. I think we were the only guests in the entire building. Furniture was already stacked in the hallways, common spaces were dark and locked off… think The Shining. Yeah. Creepy. And not only that, when it came time to settle in and watch Marissa, Summer, Ryan and Seth, President Bush came on to speak instead! NO!

So what did we do? We acted like a teenagers.

Our lone male OC Night member picked up the room phone and called The White House to assertively, but kindly, complain about how inconsiderate it was for President Bush to supersede The OC season finale… we had booked a room in THE Plaza Hotel after all! Surely you’ve heard of it! It’s across the street from the Apple store!

Alas. In the end there was no teen drama cliffhanger. There was only muted Presidential hoo-hah, bottom-shelf whiskey, top-shelf friends and lots and lots of pictures. Best OC Night ever.


new york moment #7 January 26, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — gogopance @ 1:28 am


Moment #7 on this list of favorite New York times is when I unintentionally happened upon my first film shoot. I think the city is one of Hollywood’s favorite backdrops; however, in my opinion, there are way too many movies set on destroying it (ahem, Day After Tomorrow & Cloverfield, to name a measly two).

Since that inaugural moment I’ve watched MTV film out my apartment window (I Just Want My Pants Back), walked by fake destruction on the streets of Midtown (I Am Legend), saw July 4th banners hung in my neighborhood in April (The Bounty Hunter), snooped by a manufactured Atlantic City boardwalk 6 blocks from my house (Boardwalk Empire), left work early at the chance of meeting Joshua Jackson at a local bar (Fringe) and passed by live sets of various Law & Order productions at least half-a-dozen times. I watched Jerry Orbach sleuth his way down Indian Row. R.I.P.

But the first flick I witnessed filming live was set on the edge of Washington Square Park. I walked by at night (What are all those bright lights for?!?), slowed to stop and realized, with the unapologetic dingdingding(!) of a kid on Christmas morning… it’s a MOOOOOOVIE! I stood and watched the same scene film over and over and over again. The back of the director’s chairs said Synergy (They actually use director’s chairs in real life!) and the scene at hand consisted of a guy driving up to an apartment building in a schmancy sports car to pick up his smokin’ hot date.

Guy = Topher Grace

Smokin’ Hot Date = Scarlett Johansson

Okay. Okay. So I never actually saw Topher and Scarlett. I saw their stand-ins marking the scene for proper dimensions and lighting and what-not. (This is necessary, ya see, it’s part of the real, professional process.). But, if truth be told, I didn’t actually realize they were the leading stars until the movie trailer was released months and months later. And I even had a hard time recognizing that because at some point between filming and release they changed the title from Synergy to In Good Company.

But on that one random weeknight I got to watch plenty of bored movie assistants guard the set, ignore their walkie talkies, chain smoke and eyeball the catered late-night spread. I stood in the cold gawking at unimportant minions work on a movie I knew nothing about, starring people that sure didn’t look like anyone famous to me… and it was awesome.

Look closely at minute 1:47 below. Scarlett, looking well-put-together and warm in her red coat, is walking toward Topher’s car (off camera). THAT’s the scene I watched for over an hour. THAT’s the scene that had me star struck without stars. But once again my VIP seats to the New York City show were awfully comfy. I could sure get used to this.


new york moment #6 January 24, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — gogopance @ 5:50 pm


Weather. I am a part of the weather at all times. We of a carless class don’t travel from house to garage to car to parking garage to office, never without some sort of cover overhead. Whatever the skies decide to unleash on any given day, we’re right there to receive it – for better or worse, for wetter or drier. I actually own rain boots and multiple umbrellas for purpose, not just because they’re cute. I own snow boots, too, and have worn them day after day after day for weeks at a time, knowing regular shoes will never survive climbing over the banks of snow that get dumped at sidewalk crossings. For a place I wouldn’t necessarily call outdoorsy, I sure am outdoors a lot.

It can all feel like quite a mess, really… with one exception. Snow Accumulation Day #1. It’s the only time you’ll find the city humbled down to a hush. The effect is amazing. You walk outside and it’s actually quiet, like the city has been caught being rambunctious again, so it tucked its tail, retreated to a closet and can be found pouting under a pile of white laundry. “Fine. I won’t honk my horns… until tomorrow. Mwah ah ah.”

Snow is magical.

Therefore, moment numero six is when I went sledding in Central Park for the first time along with a bazillion other folks who shared my backyard. I threw snowballs at statue butts, borrowed a stranger’s inner tube for a different thrill and went sledding down the Bethesda Fountain stairs. Snow turns the park into a level playing field of fun.

For that matter, another popular/famous/well-silver-screened winter activity in the park is ice skating. I finally got around to checking that off the list last winter. Now all that’s missing from my wonderland of white is John Cusack.