Subway-Stair Stroller Lift (Single, Double and Triple Divisions)
Two-Door, One-Buzz Brownstone Vestibule Dash
Fairway Tetrathlon (Cart Slalom, Appetizing Greco-Roman, Checkout Freestyle, Bag Clean-and-Jerk)
First Avenue Synchronized Light Run (5,000m)
LaGuardia Baggage-Handling Shot-Put
Cyclist’s 4,000m Individual Pursuit of Cabbie Who Sideswiped Him
Rat-Avoidance High Jump
Wall Street 100m Perp Walk (Securities, Commodities and Accounting Divisions)
No. 5 Train Door-Hold
Viagra Pseudo-Equestrian Three-Day Event, Team
Individual Epée (Theater-District Parking-Space Challenge)
Two-Income Family Child Relay
Delacorte Triathlon (Great Lawn Squat, Ticket-Line Crawl, Performance of Shakespeare by Kevin Kline and Phoebe Cates)
Pedestrian Pole Vault (Christian Louboutin and Sergio Rossi Divisions)
Rudolph Giuliani Comb-Over 400m Butterfly
My friend Paul has invented the antidote to Coca-Cola. When you pour this liquid into Coke, a brown powder precipitates out. The rest of the glass becomes clear, pure water.
“What are you going to do with it?” I asked him.
“I can’t decide whether to turn it into an art installation, go on Good Morning America or sell it to Pepsi,” Paul answered.
Maybe If Liza Sings It …
“Writing, for me, is not an intellectual, musical crossword puzzle where I’m trying to tell you how clever I am,” said Frank Wildhorn, the Broadway composer. “Music, for me, is always like fishing. The fish are there, and my job, every day when I go to the piano, is to try to catch them.”
Mr. Wildhorn has landed a lunker. His latest tune, “New York: For the Time of Your Life,” debuted recently at an international tourism conference in Manhattan. The city’s marketing bureau, NYC and Company, commissioned the brassy new number, branded it New York’s latest theme and hopes to feature it in a series of international commercials. Local critics, however, have added their own, nearly unanimous chorus: “Throw it back.”
The vitriolic downpour began a few days before the song’s first public performance, when a demo version was released on CD. “Schlocky Las Vegas nightmare of an anthem” was perhaps the kindest comment in the press.
The lyrics do perhaps fall a bit short of the swinging romance that permeated the Kander and Ebb standard “New York, New York,” belted out by Liza Minnelli in the 1977 Martin Scorsese film New York, New York (after some tinkering by Ms. Minnelli’s co-star, Robert De Niro, who told the songwriters that the song needed to be “stronger”). Frank Sinatra made it into a worldwide sensation when he recorded his version in 1980. In 1985, then-Mayor Ed Koch declared it the city’s theme song.
The new song is more for a city that goes to bed after Seinfeld, not a city that never sleeps. Here’s a sample:
Take the ferry to Staten from lower Manhattan.
It’s a bagel and schmear, it’s a whole other gear.
It’s a hot dog from Coney, a waiter named Tony.
Yellow cabs, limousines. It’s the subway to Queens.
It’s so nice, see it twice, paradise by the slice.
In other words, if you can make it here, you can make it … here! Want a slice of pizza?
It’s not easy to be cheery in a city that puts the “boo” back in boosterism, but Mr. Wildhorn is doing his best. Though the lyrics were penned by his longtime collaborator and friend, Jack Murphy, Mr. Wildhorn has been a lightning rod for most of the criticism. Sitting on a folding chair at Ripley Grier studio two days after the song’s debut, the soft-spoken, bearded composer of Jekyll and Hyde, Dracula, the Musical and The Scarlet Pimpernel tried not to bristle as he took sips from his bottle of Vitamin Water.
“Listen, I’ve done many, many an interview, from 60 Minutes to Forbes, and I know how easy it is to be cynical about anything,” he said. “But the fact of the matter is, when I sit down and write music, whatever it is, I’m just trying to write from my heart the best music I can, and I’m trying to share it with as many people I can share it with.”
Indeed, there are plenty of people who are eager to toast the musical journey of Frank Wildhorn.
“With his talents and creativity, he created a song that speaks to the mission of NYC and Company, which is to promote tourism,” said Cristyne L. Nicholas, the agency’s president and chief executive. Speculating further, she suggested a whole portfolio of promotional possibilities: “You can take these lyrics and then add them to musical genres, like hip-hop or country music. Maybe we could do a rap version, maybe a salsa version. There’s a line in the song that is spoken. We can include different celebrities that may not be musically talented. I’m not sure that Donald Trump can sing, but when he speaks, people listen.”
Ms. Nicholas bravely unveiled “New York: For the Time of Your Life” at the press preview for International Pow Wow, an annual tourism conference. A throng of nearly 600 international journalists was invited to MoMA. Hustled into the museum’s new auditorium, they got to hear the new song, too.
Originally, NYC and Company had booked Danny Aiello to do the honors, but Mr. Aiello cracked his hip during an Atlantic City performance. The intrepid marketers turned to John Pizzarelli, the jazz singer and guitarist best known for marveling at “The Wonder of It All” on behalf of Foxwoods Casino. Mr. Pizzarelli had just one weekend to learn the song, which meant listening to the demo over, and over, and over again.
“Luckily, my wife was out of the house on Sunday,” he joked. “I’m sure my building’s not happy, but they all love New York now. I’m sure they’re all out right now extolling the virtues of the Upper East Side.” His performance, complete with backing brass and percussion, went off without a hitch. It was set against a rapid-fire montage of classic cityscapes, courtesy of Time Warner/HBO, which Mr. Pizzarelli said gave him “goose bumps.”
“It sounds clichéd: You get jaded by running around the city so much, but when you see these amazing shots-well, it’s your city,” he explained. “You get all soapy about it.”
Looking back, Ms. Nicholas felt a little soapy, too. “Oh my, it was terrific,” she said. “They were all clapping and tapping their feet, singing along and clapping. It was a very happy event.”
The city was thrilled with the finished product.
“When somebody comes up to you and says, ‘I want you to mention all five boroughs,’ you’re kind of handcuffed a little bit there,” said lyricist Jack Murphy. “But it was good, it was a good handcuff, and it was fun.”
While writing the lyrics, Mr. Murphy decided to tip his hat to Broadway, the Bronx Zoo, the Yankees, Mets and Knicks, the Rockettes-even the waters of Sheepshead Bay.
“We wanted to make sure that people knew there are a lot of water sports available in New York,” said Ms. Nicholas.
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