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No. 398, January 17, 2010

Sherlocking in New York City 2010
By Don Hobbs

Joyce and I hit the ground running on Wednesday and never slowed down. The bitter cold slapped us in the face as we exited the American Airlines terminal at La Guardia airport, but we were prepared. Our taxi deposited us at our midtown Manhattan hotel around ten o’clock and surprisingly our room was ready. After a quick inspection of the room, we left out bags and headed to the Ed Sullivan Theater; home of the Late Night Show with David Letterman. We jumped through all of the required hoops and eventually ended up on the third row and watched the taping of the show. Kieffer Sutherland was the guest and appeared on the show wearing a dress due to losing a football related bet with a friend. I found the dynamics of the show to be like the activity inside a beehive, with everything revolving around, in the instance, the king bee.

Joyce and Don

Ben Vizoskie; Billy Fields; Sue Vizoskie

The show’s taping was finished in plenty of time for Joyce and I to make it O’Casey’s restaurant for the ASH (Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes) Wednesday Dinner. This event has become the unofficial kick-off event of the Sherlock Holmes Birthday Celebration Weekend Susan Rice is the sparking plug behind this event and she due a tipping of the deerstalker for her tireless effort to make it a success, which, by the way, it is. Joyce has not been with me to New York since 2003 and was finally able to meet many Sherlockians that I have talked about for years. Some of the others she knew like Marilynne McKay and was able to catch up with on matters Sherlockian and non-Sherlockian alike. Cynthia and Richard Wien were also our tablemates. By the end of the night, they had become Joyce’s long, lost best friends.

The Christopher Morley Memorial Walk inside the Woolworth Building

Fortified by a Red Flame breakfast on Thursday morning, we joined with a group of fearless Sherlockians for the Christopher Morley Memorial Walk. Jim Cox and Dore Nash lead this event. It follows the haunts of Christopher Morley around the city. This year’s stop at the Woolworth Building had an extra treat. The building superintendent, Roy Suskin, came down and gave us behind the scenes information about the building. His insight was a special treat for us. It is our hope that this relationship will allow us upon the observation deck. The deck closed to the public during WWII. Mr. Suskin accepted our invitation and joined us at McSorley’s for lunch. The concept of Sherlockians intrigued Mr. Suskin and because of this intrigue, reaching the observation deck is not so farfetched. One can always hope.

Joyce stayed with the tour from the Woolworth Building as I headed off the Mysterious Book, just four blocks away. I happened to be looking at a Strand magazine when Otto Penzler, the owner, took it out of my hand. Otto told me I could not buy this as he put it back on the table because it was in English. Then he apologized to me for not having any new foreign translation since last year. I have made my mark as the foreign language collector of the Canon. This year was the first time ever I left Otto’s empty handed. The weather cooperated kindly on Thursday afternoon and I walked across lower Manhattan to McSorely’s Pub. I ended up strolling through Chinatown, a part of the city I had not been to before, and getting thoroughly lost. I continued tacking north and east, north and east, finally getting to Canel Street near 2nd Avenue. Once I reached 2nd, I knew McSorley’s was at 7th Street. I arrived well ahead of the Morley group. Joyce and the rest of the gang arrived and had lunch. Corned Beef sandwiches, hot mustard, crackers, onions and cheese, our standard fare there, along with the double glasses of beer and a room full of Sherlockians made it the perfect afternoon in New York City. Joyce had arranged to meet a college friend that lives and teaches in the City. We met him for coffee before eating a quite dinner at John’s Pizzeria in West 45th.

Friday dawn was a semi-Sherlockian day, meaning I promised Joyce we would skip the William Gillette Memorial Luncheon and explore parts of the city that she wanted. Our first stop was Murray’s Bagels on 8th Avenue between 22nd and 23rd Street. Murray’s was fabulous. After that we visited Chelsea Market and the over the Stella McCartney’s Boutique. Joyce thought it a bit ironic that Stella is a vegetarian and her shop is located in the former Meat Packing District. Bill’s Bar & Burger at 22 9th Avenue had the best hamburger I have ever eaten east of the Mississippi. That was enough non-Sherlockian-ing for the day. We headed back to the hotel, changed into our evening dress and headed to the Manhattan Club for the Gaslight Gala. This was the third year for the renamed event. This year’s theme was poisons of the Canon. The gathered Sherlockians witnessed many wonderful performances before thing fell apart during Donny’s Zeldin’s strange but true slideshow quiz. I will leave it to any curious readers to find out the meaning of it all.

Don & Joyce at the Gaslight Gala

Billy Fields; Ron Fish; Jim Hawkins

The evening’s fun continued at O’Lunney’s Irish Pub where the O’Lunneytics held their meeting. Sebastian LePage bought shots of tequila for everyone in order to toast our late founder and inspiration, Paul Smedegaard. The rest of the night somehow became a blur. As the evening wore on, more and more Sherlockians joined us. There were new rounds of toasts to the newly invested irregulars. By this time, most Sherlockian already know who they were.

30 shots of Tequila at O’Lunney’s Irish Pub

Lyndsay Faye & Elyse Locurto.

At some point, I made it back to the hotel where I found Joyce already there and sound asleep. I remember going to O’Lunney’s together but she slipped past me during one of my many distractions. I took a short four-hour nap before heading back to the Red Flame to meet up with Kate Karlson. Michael Quigley and eventually by Joyce joined us before we finished our breakfast. We finished breakfast and walked next door to the Algonquin, where the Huckster’s Room, full of Sherlockian purveyors was in full swing. I picked a few new treasures. Next, on the agenda was the BSI Reception, once called the Cocktail Party but now only beer and wine. This is the event open to all Sherlockians and guests.

Ron Fish; Jeffry Bradway; Scott Monty; Michael Quigly; Don Hobbs; Richard Oklen.

Don Hobbs & Philip Cunningham. Lisa, Don Hobbs,
Sebastian LePage; Elyse Locurto.

The reception is where Sherlockians can mill around a catch up with other Sherlockians. The weekend has so many different events, it is nearly impossible to see everyone. The reception is really the highlight of the entire weekend. The New York City Bar Association is conveniently located across the street from the Algonquin. It has hosted the Reception since it moved from the National Arts Club three years ago. The finale this year was a surprise performance by Raymond Jessel, the lyricist from Baker Street, The Musical. He delighted everyone with his piano playing and singing.

Kennedy’s Restaurant has become an annual event and has grown from just a few attendees to more than forty. It is now know as The One Fixed Point Dinner. Jerry and Chrys Keagley, who normally sponsor this event, were absent this year but Lyndsay Faye stepped in and filled their shoes marvelously. At evenings end Joyce and I took a cab back to the hotel for a quick nap before our 4:30 wake-up call in order to catch an early flight back to Texas. We may have a world speed record on Sunday however. We left our hotel in Midtown Manhattan at 5:15 Sunday morning; hailed a passing cab; made it to La Guardia; checked-in; got through security and were setting in our seats on the airplane at 5:45!! Unbelievable, but true.

Happy Collecting!!

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Past 2009 Columns

January 3, 2010
Happy New Year! A Sherlockian Potpourri

January 10, 2010
Sherlockian Nirvana

January 17, 2010
Sherlocking in New York City 2010