16 January 1998

There hasn't been any snow in New York this winter yet. A flurry the other day didn't stick and turned to rain.

So I was surprised to walk down Fifth Avenue today and find piles of snow along the street curb from 8th Street down to Washington Square Park. Perfect snow that upon closer inspection was synthetic, some kind of cotton wad discarded yet obviously carefully placed for some sort of effect.

Closer to the park I noticed trucks and crowds of people milling around and the familiar presence of the film crew. "The Stepmother" with the actress Julia Roberts someone said to somebody else who asked, though I wanted to know as well. You grow accustomed to film crews in my neighborhood whether they are students from NYU with a camera and some reflectors or the massive entourage of NYPD Blue that comes twice a year to shoot exteriors at the Police Station on 5th. They always have food somewhere and people picking at it. These intrusions should be irritating but they're not.

The fake fake snow stopped a half block from the park replaced by real fake snow that covered the park and Washington Square North. The real fake snow was dirty and melting and I suppose that was the reason to use it -- the validating patina of history -- fake fake snow does't melt attractively. I wondered what they would do with it after the shoot and if some homeless people had already managed to smuggle some of it away to line where ever they find to sleep that night.

Even though film crews seem to have a large number of people who are simply hanging around they always seem too busy to answer questions. Or maybe the people who are hired to interface with the public are worried about their jobs and so hesitant to take any sort of personal commitment. Maybe they just don't know anything. It was enough for me anyway to know that it was a film starring the actress Julia Roberts and I stood for a few moments on the corner of the Park and the end of 5th Avenue (outside the building where both the AIDS activist Larry Kramer and his enemy the former mayor Ed Koch now live) with real fake snow crunching under my feet waiting for a glimpse of the actress. But I soon grew impatient and moved on so didn't see her. If I had I'm not sure what my reaction would have been. Perhaps waving my arms above my head and yelling "hey Julia, it's me" is one possibility but not likely given my profile.

Many years ago I spotted Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis walking uptown and shortly after that a friend of a friend introduced me on the street to an actress who at one time played the former first lady in a movie (I don't remember her name, unfortunately). I would often see Andy Warhol leaving The Factory when it was on Union Square on my way to the gym, but that was a long time ago and I never spoke to him. That's about it for my brushes with fame. I would like to meet the actor Matt Damon after seeing him on Charlie Rose the other night. He's an attractive young man, of course, but he's also smart and articulate -- sort of like the me I should have been twenty years ago.