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Our 2011 Road Trip, Part 6: “Today” is the Greatest

Today Show!

Back in my day, we woke up every morning to Bryant Gumbel and Indiana’s own Jane Pauley, and we liked it.

[The very special miniseries continues! See Part One for the official intro and context.]

DAY THREE — Monday, July 11, 2011.

Monday morning was our first time aboard a genuine NYC subway. Indianapolis fails in its lack of public transportation options, but we were no strangers to the concept. I first rode the Chicago El back in 1993, and the three of us had a pleasant experience aboard Washington DC’s Metro in 2003. Based on our experiences throughout our stay, the MTA has done a fine job of keeping the lines safe, clean, and consistently running. Rarely did we find any station approaching the level of cesspool squalor that movies, TV, and comics promise as the status quo.

First scheduled stop: Rockefeller Center, As Seen On TV!


Atlas!

Atlas bids you welcome along 5th Ave.

Rockefeller Center is a complex of several buildings, some of which contain neat things to visit, though its wintertime skating rink appears in more movies than any other section.

Rockefeller Center!

Or it used to be, anyway, before kids stopped going outside and everyone probably forgot ice skating was a thing.

We arrived around 8:40. We stopped for breakfast at the Bouchon Bakery, with its fancied-up baked goods. While I waited patiently for them to heat up my pear-and-goat-cheese quiche, Anne grabbed her goods and sped outside to bear witness to The Today Show, live and in progress. She was thiiiis close to cohost Ann Curry.

Ann Curry!

…whoever that is. None of us had ever heard of her prior to just now.

The last time I watched Today on any regular basis, I was in high school. I’d read somewhere that Meredith Vieira was cohosting at one point, so that’s who I thought this was at first. I was later informed that my information was obsolete and this is actually Natalie Morales.

Natalie Morales!

…whoever that is. None of us had ever heard of her prior to just now.

Still, live TV is live TV. I entered the appropriate cordon and caught up with Anne in the part of the crowd that was perfectly positioned within the path of the camera. If you were watching Today on Monday, July 11, 2011, right at 9:00 a.m., for one grand split-second you might have caught sight of my son’s head and the several tall people standing in front of poor Anne. By my reckoning, if the camera had swung to its left, just past a woman hefting a picket-sign ad for her fruit-drink stand, you could’ve seen the remains of my hairline perched above all the bubbly, mostly female fans blocking my chance at stardom. I don’t suppose anyone taped it or archival purposes, did they? Because that would be really cool. If my son ever becomes famous I’m totally adding it to his WikiPedia entry.

Natalie Morales!

The crew walked up and down the length of their makeshift outdoor studio as they needed, while we gawkers stood alongside and waited for our shot at split-second stardom like a more dignified yet futile version of Let’s Make a Deal.

Ann and Natalie!

Ann and Natalie work hard at memorizing spontaneous witty banter on the fly.

Our brush with greatness sustained us for a few minutes till we got bored. As we attempted to cross from one side of the complex to the other, we were accosted by a friendly guy accepting donations for a homeless soup kitchen and offering NYC tourist caps in exchange.

Hare Krishna!

Photo #1 in Anne’s “People of New York” miniseries.

He gave us two such caps in response to Anne’s outrageous donation, which she made partly because she’s very generous, and possibly also because he referred to her as my “daughter”. He also gave my son a free book as a reward for being the “heaviest thinker” in our family. That book: Beyond Birth and Death by one A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. So my wife can give freely to Hare Krishnas, but I can’t accept free CDs from aspiring street musicians. Check.

Here’s Anne’s version of events, presented without rebuttal:

We had just come out of the Today Show crowd when this guy approaches us and begins literally putting the hats on our heads. My guard was down! Also, my first thought was that this was free NBC swag for the crowd. Apparently, earlier in the day, there had been stuff handed out.

Then came the pitch for the soup kitchen. C’mon now, we’re wealthy (relatively speaking) tourists and we can’t spare money for a soup kitchen? You see my dilemma and I do consider myself a decent person, so I took out a couple of bills and gave them to the guy.

I do, however, hope that the Hare Krishna guy did actually use the money for a soup kitchen. Bottom line, we got three ugly ball caps with New York City on them and I had three less souvenirs to buy for my three little nephews!

You be the judge!

Either way: to be continued!

[Historical notes:

1. We weren’t fans of 30 Rock at the time. Still aren’t. Might’ve missed some opportunities there.

2. Still don’t watch Today regularly, either.

3. And still don’t know who Ann Curry is. Or Natalie Morales. We’re excellent TV experts. But the internet says Ann left the show a year later, and NBC altogether in 2015. Natalie is still with the show as of this writing.

4. This wasn’t our first time attending the making of a TV show. The first time was on our 2008 road trip to Virginia Beach, which is dead last on the list for the MCC Road Trip Remasters project. Someday, eventually.]

* * * * *

[Link enclosed here to handy checklist for future chapters, and for our complete road trip history to date. Follow us on Facebook or via email signup for new-entry alerts, or over on Twitter if you want to track my TV live-tweeting and other signs of life between entries. Thanks for reading!]

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About Randall A. Golden
Hoosier since birth, geek since age 6, father at 22, Christian at 30; launched Midlife Crisis Crossover at 39. Full-time service rep; part-time internet contributor; former message board admin; inhabits Twitter as @RandallGolden. Views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of any other corporation, being, or party line.

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