Dancing in the Rain

Dear Diary:

A late July evening, 2010. My young Czech friend Pavel, who never travels without a huge camera hanging from his neck, was making his first visit to New York.

I took him to the Sheep Meadow, where he began snapping pictures of the skyline as night fell. The air was heavy and a strong wind rose. Lightning and thunder cracked the air. Almost instantly there was a huge downpour. I remembered the brick hot-dog stand, so we ran for cover. The hot-dog stand had turned into Le Pain Quotidien, and we joined a growing crowd of refugees from the storm, huddled on the covered patio.

Quite a mixed crowd — lithe blond women, Latino delivery bikers, muscle men with tiny dogs. The staff of Le Pain Quotidien began to remove the chairs, and it was clear they wanted to close up and go home. But the rain got even heavier.

Then we could hear people laughing some distance away, and nine young people, guys and girls around 19 or 20, ran under the cover, laughing, shrieking, evidently enjoying themselves. It was clear they were performers of some kind. Then the tallest of them stepped out into the rain and performed an amazing ballet routine. This brought much applause. This inspired one of the girls to perform her ballet in the rain.

After two more solos, and much crowd approval, they danced an ensemble, in the pouring rain, to great applause. I was thinking, Pavel probably thinks this happens in New York all the time. The dancers wore themselves out, and with more laughter returned to the shelter. And then, to everyone’s surprise, the manager and staff of Le Pain Quotidien marched out carrying trays of croissants, muffins and bread, urging us all to take as much as we pleased.

Everyone seemed very happy, and went home with a treat. Gradually the rain lessened and the crowd dispersed.

Read all recent entries and our updated submissions guidelines. Reach us via e-mail: [email protected] or telephone: (212) 556-1333. Follow @NYTMetro on Twitter using the hashtag #MetDiary.

Powered By WizardRSS.com | Full Text RSS Feed | Amazon Plugin WordPress | Android Forums | WordPress Tutorials
Go to Source

An Irish Revolutionary Checks Out the Sights 90 Years After His Death

The other day, Richard Teahan was strolling down Fifth Avenue with Michael Collins under his arm when a woman covered fully by a burqa approached him near 65th Street and asked for directions to the Port Authority Bus Terminal.

Mr. Teahan, 23, has been in New York City only since late May, when he came over from Ireland to land a summer job. But he was able to adequately direct the woman, Rani Niazi, a Pakistani immigrant living in Newark. She then asked about Michael Collins – actually a cardboard cutout of a life-size photograph of Michael Collins, the Irish revolutionary leader killed in 1922.

“His name is Michael Collins and he is one of the leading protagonists in the Irish battle for independence,” said Mr. Teahan, who was with Mike Coleman, a real-life friend.

The two and four other friends, also here on summer work-study visas known as J-1 visas, have been touring New York and other cities with the cutout, which they found several years ago at a St. Patrick’s Day parade in Tipperary, Mr. Coleman’s hometown.

The cutout fell off a float, and the young men snatched it up and began carrying it with them while traveling in Ireland, partly to educate people about Collins and partly “for the craic” — or fun — of it, said Mr. Teahan, who is from Glenbeigh, a village in County Kerry.

The six friends became obsessed with introducing the cardboard Collins to the actor Liam Neeson, who played Collins in the 1996 film “Michael Collins.”

Each of them found a job. Mr. Coleman, 23, works at a Midtown movie theater and Mr. Teahan tends bar at the Stout bar and restaurant on West 33rd Street. The six men settled with four other Irish “J-1ers” in an apartment above a hookah shop in Astoria, with most of them sleeping on mattresses on the floor.

So far they have taken the cutout to Washington, Boston and Atlantic City. In New York, they have posed it on a Coney Island lifeguard stand, attended a Mets game with it, and crashed an enormous public yoga session with it in Times Square.

Last month, they brought it to the Manhattan premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises,” in which Mr. Neeson has a small role, but they did not see him.

They did see Morgan Freeman, whom they managed to capture in a snapshot with the cutout. Anne Hathaway did not stop for a picture, but offered words of encouragement, Mr. Teahan said as he and Mr. Coleman approached the Central Park Zoo and posed the cutout in front of the Dancing Goat fountain.

There, a tourist from England, Joel Smith, 30, asked if the cutout was Adolf Hitler. Mr. Teahan told Mr. Smith it was Collins in a military uniform (Collins was, among many other things, commander in chief of the Irish Free State Army).

“A lot of people think it’s Hitler,” Mr. Coleman said. “It’s the uniform.”

Mr. Teahan added, “Sometimes I see someone looking at it strangely, and I’ll just say, ‘It’s not who you think it is.’” To help distinguish the cutout from Hitler, they tied an Irish flag around its neck.

On 59th Street, a hansom-cab driver, Brian Northam, from Long Island, stopped the men and told them he had read about them in the Irish press.

Mr. Northam let Mr. Teahan climb up in the carriage so Mr. Coleman could take a photograph for their “Michael Collins Adventures” Facebook page, on which the cardboard leader notes, “I’ve been laying low the last 90 years after faking my death, but have decided to go on a J1 to New York in hope of finding Liam Neeson. Still feeling a bit stiff though!”

The Collins crew said they had no idea where Mr. Neeson lived. They also seemed to have little inclination to be bothered with any research or serious pursuit of him.

“We’re hoping he’ll hear about us and get in touch,” Mr. Teahan said.

From there, they hopped the subway to Times Square, drawing stares. On Broadway, they ran into Jeff Boss, who is running for president on a “9/11 was a government conspiracy” platform, and Mamadou Bah, 45, a Guinean immigrant who works holding his own cardboard sign, an advertisement for O’Donoghue’s Pub on West 44th Street.

Mr. Coleman ran off to his cinema job, and a police officer beckoned Mr. Teahan over and asked what he was carrying.

“He’s the first Irish cop,” Mr. Teahan told the officer. He explained who Collins was, and the officer agreed to pose with Collins for a photograph with Times Square in the background.

Powered By WizardRSS.com | Full Text RSS Feed | Amazon Plugin WordPress | Android Forums | WordPress Tutorials
Go to Source