Here are some more fun photos from my Jamestown, New York trip to the Lucy Comedy Fest!
Recognize these from I Love Lucy.
I’ve been an ‘I Love Lucy’ fan for as long as I could remember. As a kid, I wanted to stomp grapes and wrap chocolate. I would hold bottles of cough syrup and pretend to do a Vitameatavegamin commercial (the drunk version). I also wish I had a dollar for everytime I said “Lucy, you got some ‘splainin’ to do’ or ‘Luuuccccy I’m home.’ No, I didn’t know anyone by the name of Lucy. I just made sure to say these famous phrases whenever it fit. I know every word of every episode of I Love Lucy. I only disliked a few episodes (the visit to Scotland is one of them). I wanted to meet Lucille Ball. I wanted to ‘be’ Lucille Ball. She was my idol and I admired all the work she did to pave the way for other female comedians, writers, producers, etc., after her. I read whatever I could on her and saw her on whatever show she was on.
Years ago, when I went to Atlantic City, New Jersey there was an ‘I Love Lucy’ exhibit with memorabilia from the show, including clothes, awards and props. I remember turning a corner at the exhibit and seeing a re-creation of both the Manhattan apartment and the California hotel room. My eyes welled up and I couldn’t control the tears that flowed. I felt that I stepped back in history and right through my television set. It was THAT good. I felt like I was in the Desilu Studios watching a taping of ‘I Love Lucy.’
When I found out that Lucille Ball was born in Jamestown, New York (only a five-hour drive away from my own home), I added a trip to this small town to my must-see list. I wanted to see where my idol was born and raised. Then, I found out about the Lucy Comedy Fest, an annual event in Jamestown where there are comedy shows, grape stomping (yes!), candy wrapping (yes! yes!), tributes to Lucy and tours of “Desilu Studios” which is more of the re-creations and memorabilia.
For several years I tried to get to this Comedy Fest, but the stars didn’t align until this past August when I finally went with my honey (who isn’t an ‘I Love Lucy’ or Lucille Ball superfan per se, but had a great time nonetheless).
I went to a panel where Peter Farrelly (There’s Something About Mary (1998), Me, Myself & Irene (2000) and Dumb & Dumber (1994)) told really funny stories about his career (Bobby was sick with the flu but was scheduled to appear) and then took a lucky winner for a ride in the Mutts Cuts van from the movie ‘Dumb & Dumber.’
I went to both the Babalu Cafe and the Havana Cuban Cafe & Pizzeria (where I had my first Cuban sandwich — YUM! — thanks Ruben!, who also happened to have the best flan around).
I finally lived out my dream of grape stomping and chocolate wrapping too! The volunteers dressed us up similar to what Lucy wore (even my honey let them wrap a ‘skirt’ and a bandanna on him) and we stepped into a basket filled with grapes. Stepping into the bucket felt cold and goopy and absolutely wonderful. I couldn’t wait to start. For two minutes, we stomped in circles and crushed the grapes. The lady next to me really got into it and threw the grapes at me, just like it happened to Lucy in the episode. Can I say ‘so much fun’ too many times?
The chocolate wrapping was a hoot. My honey and I did it together (I’m Lucy, he’s Ethel) and it was much more difficult than I thought it would be. Speed it up a little! they did! and before you know it there were chocolates flying everywhere and we just couldn’t keep up and we kept laughing. I resisted the urge to hide the ‘chocolates’ down my shirt and in my hat.
Recording a Vitameatavegamin commercial was awesome. I want to give props to the Museum because after I recorded my first (non-drunk) commercial, I accidentally deleted it and they let me in again to record it. Afterward, I had some regrets about not doing the drunk one, but hey at least I gave it a shot. Cut me some slack, I got stage fright with others watching me. LOL).
I’ve told so many people about this comedy fest that the attendance should go up next year. Hopefully I’ll come back and see it again. The professional comedians who were there this year included Brian Regan, Trevor Noah, and Lewis Black. There were Lucy & Ethel shows and tours of Jamestown.
We saw the homes where Lucille was born and raised and heard stories about the couple who bought her childhood home just to make sure that nobody remodeled it (they were outside waving to our tour bus). We went to the cemetery where Lucille is buried. I admit that I cried a little. I cried the day she died too.
We were there for her 105th birthday celebration (Lucille died in 1989) and saw the ‘ugly’ Lucille Ball statue. We also saw the unveiling of the beautiful new Lucille Ball statue and sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to her (again, got choked up). I paid homage to the woman who meant so much to me growing up — she made me laugh and thanks to her hard work inspired me to achieve whatever I wanted and not let being a woman stop me.
Jamestown will also become home to the National Comedy Center, which is currently being built. It is a 50 million project funded by public-private partnership and has been awarded more than $3.5 million from New York State, Empire State Development and I Love NY™. Many of the professional comedians who came to the Festival went on a private hard-hat tour of the future site.
“Comedy is one of the most overlooked of all the arts–it’s usually the dramatic stuff that gets all the attention & recognition,” said Peter Farrelly in a release. “So to have a place that will celebrate comedy and the comics of the past is a great thing.”
In case you were wondering, we stayed at the Red Roof Inn in Falconer, New York. A shout out to the manager there because we were accidentally double-billed for our entire stay (if you’re on a tight budget, things like that can hurt). She did everything she could to make sure it was fixed right away, so thanks! This was my first experience with a Red Roof Inn and it was very clean and comfortable. The staff was extremely pleasant as well.
If you’re interested in going to the Lucy Comedy Fest in 2017, go to the website and sign up for the newsletter so you know when they announce the dates. Book your hotel AS SOON AS the dates are announced, but be forewarned that the rates of some of the hotels will double. We got a decent rate and the Red Roof Inn was only about 10 minutes from town so it was very convenient. There was plenty of parking around for every event, so I recommend staying here if you’re going and, if you’re a Lucy fan, GO!
I’ll post more of the Lucy pictures, plus my foodie photos in another.
Are you a Lucy fan???! Tell me about it!
I love Disney — the movies, the cartoons, the parks, the…well, everything. So when I went to San Francisco, California I had to visit The Walt Disney Family Museum. I knew Walt Disney’s background and how he created his company, but I love looking at memorabilia, and seeing notes, sketches and contracts that were signed by the man himself.
Walt Disney received 22 Academy Awards from 59 nominations and won more individual Oscars than anyone else. He was presented with two Golden Globe Special Achievement Awards and one Emmy Award, among other honors. Check these photos out:
The one on the left — can you guess what it’s for? LOL It was specially made for the Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs movie. Look at the adorable little Oscars! Of course, the other Oscars that he received are on the right.
Here are some more photos:
I had the chance to see the Wish Upon A Star: The Art of Pinocchio, but they don’t allow you to take photos or videos. If you’re a Pinocchio fan, you won’t be disappointed. There are movie stills as well as notes and sketches and other memorabilia from the movie. It’s not even my favorite movie and I loved it. The exhibit is in another house out back behind the main center.
Here’s something cool to know: if you have a teen who loves animation, The Walt Disney Family Museum offers teen animation programs and a Teen Animation Festival International, afternoon workshops, summer camps, and volunteer opportunities (for local kids). What a place to learn, right?
One thing: Unless I missed it, there wasn’t much on Minnie Mouse. That made me sad.
Speaking of sad, here is one photo of an entire wall of drawings from when Walt died on December 15, 1966. If you read everything and learn about his life, you’ll definitely shed a few tears about his death.
Check out their website at http://waltdisney.org/ Admission ranges from $12 for ages 6-17, up to $20 to adults. There is a senior discount and kids under 5 are free. Depending on how much you actually read versus scan and walk through, this museum can take you a few hours to look at everything or an hour to take a fast peek. I absolutely loved it. Full disclosure: I received press passes to attend, but would’ve gladly paid the $20.
A record (what’s that? LOL) from Mary Poppins, one of my fave Disney movies ever. What’s your fave?
Thanks to a client of mine, I headed out to San Francisco for a two day meeting and training and took my honey with me. I decided to tack on a few extra days to visit The Golden Gate City before heading back to New York because that’s what a Virgin Traveler does. I can’t quite say that I left my heart in San Francisco (sorry Tony Bennett), but I had a nice time. I only had a couple of days to visit and didn’t get to do everything I wanted to do, but it was still fun and I can add another city to my list.
For my meeting, I stayed at the W in San Francisco. Full disclosure that the client paid for my first three nights at the hotel. I paid for the fourth at the client’s corporate rate. Regardless, I would give this hotel five stars. First, I love the contemporary feel of the whole thing — from the lobby to the rooms. The room was extremely clean and comfortable.
Here is a peek inside my room:
I liked it.
We didn’t eat at the hotel so I can’t vouch for the food, but the staff was nice and helpful, especially making recommendations about where I should go eat. They also are pet friendly and one of the nights we were there they hosted a doggie YAPPY hour — ridiculously cute! Check it out — go to this tweet for an adorable video!
— Sneakers the Corgi (@SneakersCorgi) July 9, 2016
This hotel is located in the downtown San Francisco area, which was perfect because my client was right around the corner. After my training was over, I relocated to another part of San Francisco to stay for a couple of days at the San Remo Hotel, which is completely different from the W.
What did I accomplish:
I took a cruise to the Golden Gate Bridge (saw a whale and a sea lion!).
Went to the San Francisco Dungeon!
Went to Fisherman’s Wharf!
Went on my first war ship!
Went on my first mighty fine ship! (more on that later!)
Went to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Went to the Jewish Contemporary Museum and saw an exhibit on Stanley Kubrick!
Went to the Walt Disney Family Museum!
I’ll break it all down in future posts.
Walking around Atlantic City, New Jersey is a traveler’s bag of mixed emotions. There are a bunch of empty buildings, from the once bustling Showboat Hotel & Casino to the little boarded up retail shops on the boardwalk. Even on a gorgeous spring day, there isn’t a lot of pedestrian traffic cluttering that boardwalk the way there once was, even a decade ago.
Read the rest of my article for Travel Pulse here.
So hello everyone, my name is Ej Garr, and as most of you know (from Lisa’s other posts) I have been with Lisa for the last five years of our lives, and together we take on adventures, while she finally gets to see the world.
Until recently, traveling for Lisa was not something that was easy to do while raising three amazing kids, and dealing with the loss of her husband and the kids’ father too early in life. Luckily, I am fortunate enough to call Lisa and her kids — Nicole, Travis and Sami — my immediate family today and hopefully for years to come.
We use the phrase ‘When one door closes, another one opens’ often around here, because we all know what hardships life has to offer and how paths change, so now Lisa and I take on challenges and adventures that have us traveling all around the United States — so far.
As for me, I have been a lighthouse freak since I was a kid. I’ve always loved the idea of a light overlooking the water, understanding the history of how some lighthouses were used to signal actual wartime events and invasions, and were used to alert the nearby towns and men to prepare for something coming. Today, we know lighthouses are all in peace time, and some, if not most, still offer tours. In fact, I am now a Lighthouse Passport holder, and Holder of the Light.
I told Lisa I wanted to be her Lighthouse Correspondent, obviously biting off the term White House Correspondent, because I have been to about seven lighthouses in my life. I had all my former memorabilia and trinkets lost in transition back to Montana, where I went to college from 1989 – 91, when I returned there in 2004, but that’s another story altogether.
So now, I am going to be giving tours of lighthouses all over the world as we travel and today it starts with the Absecon Lighthouse in Atlantic City, NJ. The Absecon Lighthouse is the tallest lighthouse in New Jersey, and the third tallest lighthouse in the United States. Trust me, Lisa and I know, because we climbed all 228 steps to the top of it, and we shot a three-part series of videos along the way.
There are stops to make as you progress up the stairwell, with window views over Atlantic City from different angles that include guide books and illustrations of the lighthouse, from the building of it, transition of it over the years, etc.
Seeing the world with Lisa has just begun for the most part, although we have certainly gotten to see some pretty happening places in a short time.
We run a radio show together, work from home together, and travel together, so we may drive each other crazy, but I love my life, and am lucky to see all of it with her.
Enjoy the pics and videos from the first lighthouse tour on the list of many to come over the next few years.
From yours truly, Ej Garr, that Rainmaker guy on Sports Palooza Radio, and dude who spends his time with the Virgin Traveler…. What’s next?
What’s your someday? As the Virgin Traveler says….Make it today!
So, how did I get to Paterson, New Jersey? Being a Virgin Traveler means doing things you haven’t done before, and I’ve been to Atlantic City, New Jersey at least a dozen times. But when I was looking for a place to just get away and didn’t want to spend a fortune, Bally’s in Atlantic City, New Jersey came through. One of their specials of being a card holder was a free room for five days and the only thing we had to pay for was that dreaded daily ‘resort fee.’ We just needed a few days away before the summer when the kids are home from college and our schedule changes. Working while we sat at the beach instead of at home and walking the boardwalk just seemed like the perfect fit. More on that part of the trip later…
Of course, the Virgin Traveler knows to look for new things to do along the way and the first thing we did was look in our National Parks passport to see where we could get another stamp. The Paterson Great Falls Park is a National Historic Park in Paterson, New Jersey and it was on the way.
According to their website, the “history of the City of Paterson includes being an ambitious project for Alexander Hamilton and the Society for Establishing Useful Manufacturers (S.U.M.) in 1792 at the Great Falls, the early development of water power systems for industrial use, and the various types of manufacturing that occurred in the District’s mills into the 20th Century. These included cotton fabrics, railroad locomotives, textile machinery, jute, and silk spinning, weaving, and dyeing, among many others.”
(And Yes, that’s THE Alexander Hamilton — you know, from that Broadway musical.)
So we stopped by and got our passport stamp. When we went into the office to do it, they were playing the Hamilton musical soundtrack. Of course, there were tons of Alexander Hamilton souvenirs you could buy.
Outside you can meet Alexander Hamilton! No you can’t silly. But there is this statue of him and it’s the closest you’ll ever get, so I took my photo with him.
And of course there’s the waterfall. Now I’ve seen Niagara Falls now, so of course in comparison this is a baby waterfall, but what I love about seeing places like this is the history attached to it. Boy, I hope my high school history teacher doesn’t see how much I enjoy learning about history now. But if you had sent me on some trips when I was much younger, I might’ve cared a little more about memorizing dates. Right? Okay, stay in school kids and memorize your dates! One day, you’ll be like me — on the road and remembering that you learned about this stuff back then. And then, you’ll actually get how cool it really is.
Now to get to the park you have to go through the city of Paterson. At one point, we thought the GPS had lost its marbles and then just when we thought we’d hit yet another residential section, we turned a corner and there was the entrance to the park. We got another stamp!
On the way down, I also remembered that the famous Lou Costello was born in Paterson! Now, if you don’t know who Lou Costello is, I’m sorry. We can’t be friends anymore. Nah, I’m only kidding. But if you want to know who he is, he was one half of the comedic duo of Abbott & Costello and I was hoping they would have something related to Lou and his career. They did! That’s my next post and it absolutely made my day! In the meantime, you might know of Costello from one of his famous bits with Abbott called “Who’s On First.” (BTW, I have the T-shirt with the entire script on it and a HUGE coffee mug with it too.)
Hotel Pennsylvania is located around the corner from the Empire State Building and directly across the street from Madison Square Garden (MSG) at 401 Seventh Avenue and 33rd Street in New York City. It’s very easily accessible and right in the thick of things. It’s only a short walk to Times Square and a slightly longer walk to Grand Central Terminal. Penn Station is directly across the street with MSG.
I’ve been to Hotel Pennsylvania before, but never stayed overnight. Once or twice a year, I participate as a panelist for the National Publicity Summit and it’s held at Hotel Pennsylvania. According to their website, Hotel Pennsylvania is a landmark hotel that opened in 1919. It was built by the Pennsylvania Railroad and operated by Ellsworth Statler nearly a century ago.
The hotel offers your standard rooms and suites that offer separate seating areas to single, double, triple and quad rooms. There is also the Penn 5000 Club rooms that has extra benefits, including a mini-refrigerator and a flat screen TV. We stayed in a Penn 5000 Club room that was graciously upgraded to us after the manager found out we were there celebrating my honey’s birthday.
We walked down the hall and then down another long hall (okay maybe it wasn’t so long, but remember our legs were sore from our long day that we had) to our room. The room was nice and comfortable and we had the refrigerator and the flat screen TV. It was definitely a suitable accommodation for our night and affordable for us, which is always a plus. Combined with the great location, it’s a good choice for those who are visiting NYC.
A few doors down from the hotel was an all-night store that had a buffet, sandwiches and a wide variety of drinks and snacks.
Virgin Traveler Tip: This is a great hotel to stay at if you’re in town for a sporting event or concert at MSG. It’s also pet friendly!
Virgin Traveler Tip: When you find a hotel you are interested in, follow them on Facebook and Twitter and check their sites on a regular basis for specials. Once, I found a hotel special for a different hotel that was posted for, literally, 90 minutes. By the time I could tell others about it, it was gone. My savings? $300 for the night.
Address: New York’s Hotel Pennsylvania, 401 Seventh Avenue at 33rd Street New York, NY 10001; Toll-free: 1.800.223.8585.
Of course we had to eat while we were in New York City and, since it was my honey’s birthday, we toasted to him!
We ate at Carmine’s location in the theater district at 44th and Broadway. I heard a lot about Carmine’s from friends who had eaten there and I wanted to enjoy a nice birthday dinner there. Unfortunately, while we tried to make reservations for Friday night, we couldn’t get in, so I settled for lunch on Saturday.
According to Carmine’s website, the first Carmine’s location opened August 14, 1990 at 2450 Broadway on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. “The classic decor of this flagship Carmine’s evokes the image of marquee New York restaurants that made this city into what it is today.”
Virgin Traveler Tip: Carmine’s serves family style, which means big bowls of food. Perfect if you’re traveling with a group of people. Order a few different dishes and share! We ordered penne ala vodka — YUM! If you are traveling by yourself, order a dish and take the rest home! That’s pretty much all we ordered because it was lunch and way too early to eat a large amount of food, but again YUM! Will definitely be back!
Virgin Traveler Tip: When we were eating at Carmine’s, I asked about a doggie bag to take back on the train ride home. I was told that if we had been going to see a Broadway show, some of the theaters do not allow that you carry your doggie bag into the theater so keep that in mind. Ask before you go!
200 West 44th Street
New York, NY 10036
Take Out: 212.221.3800
The night before, while walking around the area of the Hotel Pennsylvania, we made our way over to the Empire State Building and found Heartland Brewery, a two-story 450-seat Heartland equipped with two large bars and four giant flat-screen TVs, where we celebrated my honey’s birthday!
Cute place and we had a great conversation with our bartenders while they were in between serving their customers.
Heartland Brewery and Rotisserie
350 5th Avenue, New York NY 10001