No Parking In A J. Lo Zone

“That Jennifer Lopez is such a …. ” said Eileen Goldblatt, a 60-year-old retiree from Long Island, using an indelicate word.

“I’m going to the Frick,” she explained, “to see the Vermeers-God, they are just wonderful , aren’t they? And I’m trying to park the car.” It was early on Monday, May 6. Ms. Goldblatt had driven into town in her big, maroon 1993 Oldsmobile.

“And what do you know-there’s no parking on the Upper East Side!” she cried. “They have these orange ‘No Parking’ signs everywhere! I had to park in a lot nine blocks away.

“It’s not enough you have to pay 10 bucks to see it,” Ms. Goldblatt said. “Now you have to pay 10 bucks to park your car so they can make it!”

Ms. Goldblatt was walking up Fifth Avenue, past a line of concession stands where movie extras and crew were munching on breakfast. They were getting ready to film The Chambermaid , Pretty in Pink creator John Hughes’ new take on Cinderella , with Ms. Lopez in the bed-making title role and Ralph Fiennes as Prince Charming. It was an exciting day, to be sure. But there was much less free parking on East 64th Street than normal.

A Chambermaid cast trailer was parked in front of the Park East Animal Hospital, next door to The Observer . “Dogs 1 & 2,” it said on one door. “Dogs 2 & 3,” it said on the other.

Paul Fisher and his schnauzer, Mavis, happened by. Mavis barked jealously. “She’d like to be in the movies,” Mr. Fisher, a sales rep, said. “She loves Ralph Fiennes. But you know, I don’t think it’s such a good idea. I mean, look what happened to Spuds MacKenzie … he died .”

Later, Joe Thomas, a chauffeur, parked in front of an orange NO PARKING sticker outside the Plaza Athénée hotel. “I hope you get to see her butt,” he said of Ms. Lopez. “She has like probably the best butt in the world. Aside from my wife. Make sure you put that in there, too.”

But at 10 a.m., neither Ms. Lopez nor her undercarriage had made an appearance. “She’ll come when she’s ready-and you never know when that’s going to be,” said a crew member smoking a Newport at 63rd and Madison.

This news came as a disappointment to Buddy Buell, who was on vacation from Houston. “When I saw those signs last night, I thought, ‘ Whoaaaa, a movie !’

“I’ve been hanging around the Upper East Side for the last four hours,” Mr. Bell said. “There’s like nothing to do here. I’ve had five coffees. Are you hot? I’m hot. I think I saw Wayne Wang before. Is he the director?”

Mr. Wang, director of such films as Eat a Bowl of Tea and Smoke, was, in fact, directing. “Yeah, I think I saw him. He was, you know, walking down the street? But, really, I’d like to see Jennifer Lopez, because-God, did you ever see Money Train ? She is hotter than Hooters.”

Back over by the trailers on Fifth Avenue, members of the supporting cast stood on the sidewalk and swapped war stories. “So, how’d you get this job?” a blond woman said to the brunette behind her in line for food.

“I know James and Anton,” she said. “I didn’t even have to audition.”

“That’s great,” the blonde said.

“I used to date Danny Aiello’s son,” the brunette said. “For a year and a half.”

“Well, I know Danny very well,” the blonde replied.

As they talked, a jogger named Leonard Roberts stopped in his tracks. “Is this food, you know, for anyone?” he asked.

A pause. “I guess not,” Mr. Buell said. He pointed at the brunette in line. “God, is that Jennifer Lopez?”

“I heard she’s on 72nd-in the park,” Mr. Buell said, running away. He disappeared down Fifth Avenue, smiling.

-Ian Blecher

How To Impress Birds In Central Park

Ever since a red-tailed hawk named Pale Male made his home on a cornice above the 12th floor of an apartment building on Fifth Avenue at 74th Street in 1998, bird watchers have been making the pilgrimage to the toy-boat pond across the street in Central Park. On any given clement day, you’re bound to see a handful of bird watchers poised on benches, or hanging out in the shade of a tree, peering through their binoculars or telescopes, following the movements of Pale Male, his mate and their brood.

While most of Pale Male’s followers would probably be happy to share their equipment with curious passers-by, the crowds invariably flock to Lincoln Karim. Mr. Karim is known to have the largest telescope in Central Park-a 350-pound, 12-inch Meade LX200 telescope, which stands over six feet high, has a 3,000-mm. focal length and can be used to view such distant lands as Neptune (2.8 billion miles away), the Orion Nebula or the double cluster in the Pleiades.

Several times a week, the 40-year-old Trinidad-born Mr. Karim packs his Meade and an additional 150 pounds of equipment onto his motorized trolley cart, squeezes out his West 55th Street apartment building and heads to the toy-boat pond, where he sets up shop for the afternoon. “It is by no means drudgery,” Mr. Karim said. “I consider it a form of exercise.” He parks his cart along the granite edge of the pond facing the nest, unfolds the Meade, aligns his portable staircase, positions it under the sight, and then sits back and waits for the action.

On a recent Wednesday afternoon, Mr. Karim was found in his usual spot, peeking into the sight, adjusting knobs. He was dressed in a white Lacoste shirt, shorts, a khaki hat and Timberland walking shoes, and he was munching on Planters Peanuts.

We asked him: What’s the deal with the giant scope?

“Honestly,” Mr. Karim said, gazing up at the nest across the street, “the telescope is a babe magnet .” He added, “Bigger just means better, brighter.” Then he got serious. The Meade helped improve the quality of the close-up photos he took, Mr. Karim said. Was it worth the investment? “Well, you came over, right?” Mr. Karim pointed out.

An older gentleman in a light-blue windbreaker approached tentatively. “Is this open to public?” he asked. Mr. Karim smiled and said, “Take a look.” The man mounted the stairs and peeked through the lens. “It’s a nice socializing tool,” Mr. Karim said. “It’s much better than looking at TV.” He would know. Mr. Karim works the graveyard shift as an engineer for CNN.

It wasn’t long before there was a crowd of onlookers gathered around Mr. Karim and his Meade-though for the moment, not a babe in sight. “Are there eggs?” a child asked. “A miracle!” breathed a middle-aged woman as she got a glimpse of Pale Male and family.

Mr. Karim said he hoped to invest in an even larger telescope-perhaps, he noted, a 16-incher. For the moment, though, he was content to spend his days out by the hawks and his nights at Sheep Meadow, watching the moon and the stars. “That’s an even better babe magnet,” Mr. Karim said, smiling.

-Beth Broome

Wild Party

From Frank Flagan’s Hollywood Hot Sheet:

America’s neverending passion for 1950’s-era street fighting was reaffirmed this weekend as the film Deuces Wild took in a staggering $2.7 million over the May 3-May 5 time period. Deuces Wild ‘s take was only $112.3 million behind the average of weekend winner Spider-Man , and robust enough for seventh place, behind such contenders as The Scorpion King , Changing Lanes , Murder by Numbers , The Rookie , and Life or Something Like It . Deuces Wild reigned superior over films like Jason X , High Crimes , Enigma and National Lampoon’s Van Wilder , and its startling per-screen average of $1,727 was eclipsed only by the likes of Mystic Masseur , Monsoon Wedding , Y Tu Mama Tambien , Spider-Man , and of course, My Big Fat Greek Wedding . Deuces Wild currently stands just $97.3 million away from the fabled $100 million mark. Can Deuces Deux be that far behind?

-Jason Gay