CelebriTuesdays: Dreamgirls Edition – Sheryl Lee Ralph & Anika Noni Rose!

It wasn’t a Dream when I saw these Girls! In December, I saw the star of the Broadway version of Dreamgirls – Sheryl Lee Ralph – and today I saw the Dreamgirls star from the movie version – Anika Noni Rose. As lucky as that is, even better was the fact that both pictures came out great!



Normally, I’d be making a weird face in these pictures because I’m a fool that thinks these wonderful performers are just waiting for me to waltz on up and serenade them. The story would have been a whole lot more interesting had I strutted over purring “It’s more than you. It is more than me. No matter what we are, we are a family…” but my wife has finally got it through my thick skull after all these years that no one (and she really stressed the words as she said it) NO ONE wants to hear me sing. Lesson learned, because when I tried to explain that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, she informed me that my singing is actually mutilation, not imitation. The last time I tried to sing for my wife was New Year’s Eve 2001 when I drunkenly convinced the band that I was actually a lounge singer and would love to serenade the love of my life for the crowd. They somehow believed that nonsense and thought it was really romantic until they saw the sea of about 200 blank stares looking up at me as I mangled the first verse of “If You Say My Eyes are Beautiful.” That’s when they abruptly ripped the microphone out of my hand and said “why don’t you guys dance instead of singing” which elicited thunderous applause from the crowd for some reason. True artists are often misunderstood, but in retrospect – maybe a Whitney Houston love Duet wasn’t the right choice for my vocal range. Either way, my wife has instructed me to never, ever, ever sing in public again so the Dreamgirls were spared my Effie imitations…


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When I saw Sheryl Lee Ralph, she was taking pictures of the huge Christmas Tree in the lobby and I felt bad bothering her. She was really trying to get the perfect shot and must have taken ten pictures. Similar to me, the Christmas Tree was overgrown and much too wide to fit in most standard camera frames – so I don’t blame her for trying to get the right angle. . . Since she was so fantastic as Claudette on Ray Donovan, I was dying to ask what Jon Voight is really like and then I wanted to ask her about the anniversary revival of Thoroughly Modern Millie they’re doing, but she was really fixated on getting that shot of the tree. Practice makes perfect because her shots came out great – these are taken from her Instagram:



She was very cool, kind, and patient with me and also with the Christmas Tree, so I stopped myself from asking to try that fur coat on (I know I don’t need to remind you how good I look in fur)!


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When I saw the other Dreamgirl, Anika Noni Rose, she was hobbling around in a walking cast yet still took time to stop and take pictures with everyone. She was such a sweetheart and as a person that’s broken the same ankle two years in a row on the same exact day (both alcohol related), I can tell you how hard it is to get around. For her to stop, chat, and take pictures while she was obviously uncomfortable was seriously awesome and much appreciated!


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Anika is a Broadway veteran who snared the Tony Award for Caroline or Change, but was also in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, A Raisin in the Sun, and the movie version of Dreamgirls with an up-and-comer named Beyonce and Jennifer Hudson. She also made history as Tiana, Disney’s first Black princess, in The Princess and the Frog to the delight of kids everywhere.


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I’m on a Dreamgirls roll here and don’t worry, I’ve started walking around with one shoelace untied for when I see Jennifer Hudson and need to get it off quick; J-HUD throwing a shoe!  Hey J-HUD – Forget The Voice and let’s get a date on the calendar to meet up: I’ll bring and share my imodium and you bring and share your Oscar and extra shoes!



I met my Guardian Angel in Penn Station!!!

me and curtis one


Contrary to popular belief, I’m not a Spiritual Guru like Shri Shri Ravi Shankar or anything. I’m not looking to start an Imodium movement, but I just really believe that if you listen closely the universe will send you a message every now and then to make a dream come true. You just have to be open to it. I’m short, balding, and have been fat for most of my life so I’m not exactly what you’d immediately picture when you say someone is lucky but the universe sent me a sign and that kinda makes me pretty lucky indeed.


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I’m not quite sure if I’ve mentioned it before, but my sister is really crazy. There’s no sugar-coating it –crazy is crazy and she’s crazy! In the past, I‘ve shared some examples of her vigilante antics and differing mindset than pretty much all of the normal, functioning world. For instance, when she sees a drug deal going down, she instinctively hits the gas and grabs her bat! When I see something like that, I dive over the passenger seat into the back and hit the floor screaming like Shirley Maclaine in that hospital scene from Terms of Endearment! People are just different I guess.



For as long as I can remember, we’ve made fun of my sister because her actions made it seem like she was trying to start her own chapter of the Guardian Angels. She rocked that bat more than Negan on The Walking Dead, yet she was a good sport when we teased. Partly because she has a good sense of humor, partly because she seriously thought that her vigilante behavior was the appropriate response to the situations, and partly because, as I’ve said before but it bears repeating – she’s crazy!




Right before her birthday in December, I actually found a hat store in San Francisco that sells the exact red beret Curtis Sliwa – THE GUARDIAN ANGEL HIMSELF – wears! As you can imagine I got express shipping and it was the absolute best birthday gift she’s ever received! Flash forward a month down the line and I’m randomly walking in Penn Station when it was all of a sudden like slow motion in a movie: clear as day through the massive crowd of people, I looked over and saw CURTIS SLIWA walking right past me. CURTIS!!! CURTIS!!! I started screaming and ran over to catch up.


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He stopped and looked at me like I was a lunatic and this is a man used to dealing with lunatics. I screamed “OH MY GOD – I love you! You’re not going to believe it but my sister is a vigilante too!” Cue his look of utter confusion, bewilderment, and I’m sure mild annoyance. Cue my incessant rambling on. (If only the Imodium AD could help with the verbal Diarrhea too!) I’m not sure if he actually thought that I was making fun of him or was just really crazy with the way I was carrying on, but the words were just pouring out of me like chili through a baby! “No joke, my sister really is – she’s crazy – LOOK! This is the picture of her daughter that she literally just sent me yesterday!!!” With that I showed him a picture of my niece that she had texted me the day before WEARING THE EXACT SAME RED BERET HE HAD ON HIS HEAD!!! He smiled and then his face had a hint of confusion and he looked like he thought at first I was making fun of him or about to present him with a long lost love child, but then I could see the exact moment of clarity when it all gelled for him – he knew at that exact moment that I was full-on crazy. I’m sure a lot of lunatics come up to him on the street and talk, but how many stop to show of pictures of their two year old niece on patrol rocking the exact same red beret as him?

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“Curtis, my sister is really crazy and helps people getting jumped and tried to stop drug deals with the bat in her trunk – she doesn’t go anywhere without that bat!” It wasn’t clear and concise, but I felt like if I had a chance to explain he’d really get a kick out of it, but I couldn’t build a coherent sentence to save my life. “She’s really your biggest fan and I got her that beret for her birthday!!!” I wouldn’t say he was flattered with the intel I was delivering and it might have been my over excitement or the fact that I was unfolding my crazy family legacy to a stranger in Penn Station as if this was at all normal. Then it hit me so I had to ask: “Will you FaceTime with my sister? I can call her right now. She’ll die!” “No” he replied and I can’t say that I blame him although he could have taken a second to think it over. Can you imagine if she answered the face time wearing that beret? He would have plotzed! “Curtis, please take a picture with me – I’m serious, she’s going to freak out when she hears that I met you and when she sees this picture – she’s gonna die!” Cue the selfie and just like that he went on his way back to patrol and make us all just a little safer. I stood there smiling ear to ear, mumbling to myself like a mental patient about how awesome that just was.


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Of course, not two seconds after he was out of sight, I call my sister screaming! I wanted to text her the picture but waited so that I could hear her reaction live – which was awesome! She was hysterical and couldn’t believe it – although she did say she would have killed me if he actually FaceTimed with her. When I told my wife, her response was surprisingly less subdued: “Get back to work before you get fired! What the hell are you doing in Penn Station?” “Honey, I’m making dreams come true is what I’m doing…” There I was, literally having an out of body experience and all she could ask is why I’m bothering strangers. That and she was curious as to how I even recognized him on the street, as if he’s just an average Joe. I was like “Honey, let’s break it down: even if you live a very sheltered life and happen to not know what he looks like – he literally wears a red beret and jacket that says Guardian Angels – Helen Keller could identify him in a lineup!” She wasn’t as excited for me as I felt a supportive spouse should be and she didn’t want to encourage any more of my nonsense so I did the only appropriate thing you can do in a situation like that: I called my sister back. Even though she’s a lunatic, she could at least appreciate the significance of the moment!


me and curtis two


When I tell people these things about my sister, there are usually two reactions to it: A) people think there’s really something wrong with her and then feel bad for laughing. She’s crazy, but it’s not like a diagnosed on the meds kind of crazy so it’s OK to laugh at her. The other reaction is that they think I’m exaggerating…UNTIL THEY MEET HER. Don’t make me go hidden camera on her or Facebook Live with her so you can see the cray cray at a safe distance. I’d like to say that she has calmed down and that through the wisdom of age, my sister has settled into a sense of normalcy, but that would be ignoring the aforementioned bat that we moved out of the way to load her groceries into the trunk last weekend! Just like the big wheels that keep on turnin’ – Proud Marlene keeps on burnin!



As a side note to this, I can understand what you’re thinking after hearing about this: why is she keeping the bat all the way back in the trunk? In a street fight, who has time to pop the trunk, run to the back of the car, and then retrieve the bat? Rookie mistake if you ask Curtis. Just for practical purposes, she should keep it in the back seat or have my niece hold it in her car seat on the off chance there’s a drive by and she needs to jump in.



Most people don’t realize this, but my sister was Lemonadin’ way before Bae!



So what is the lesson we learn here folks? Obviously, never get in the car with my sister unless you’re wearing Kevlar, but also – take your Imodium every day and Dream Big! This wasn’t me winning the Powerball Jackpot or my hair growing back kind of dream – but it was still pretty damn awesome!

Say it ain’t so – Weeva’s gonna go???

weeva 2keeva1So my teeny tiny little Weeva is retiring after thirty years so I wanted to repost this as a special tribute to my dear friend!

As a young girl sailing over on The Mayflower, Weeva thought about what she’d do when she got to the new world and set her sights on hospitality. Thirty years is a lifetime in any place to work, but in a hotel that is unheard of. She’s actually so experienced in hotels that she was actually the Innkeeper that told Mary and Joseph there was no room at the Inn before she walked them!

Who could have known the impact Weeva would have had on so many people that she worked with over the past thirty years. Certainly not the foolish young girl that touched the thermostat in the Sales office – once! Weeva shot up like a rocket, pulling off her earrings and grabbing her Vaseline –ready to regulate. You can do anything or say anything, but if you mess with the heat she will pounce!

I met Weeva as most men do – on Jdate! Just kidding, I actually met Weeva way back when she was still performing. It’s not that widely known because she doesn’t like to make a fuss, but Weeva was the original third member of Destiny’s Child before Kelly Rowland. No one could choreograph better dance moves than Weeva and nowhere is it more evident than in their Bootylicious video. Right in the middle of filming said video, Weeva and Beyonce got into a tussle over some autumn sunrise hair extensions from the Raquel Welch Grand Hair Collection and Weeva had enough. She walked right out the door in her blue fringe crop top and booty shorts and has never looked back!

Weeva’s capacity to remain positive through some really tough times in her life has been a source of personal inspiration to me and I know that I’m just one of many people looking back with such fondness today and thinking about this very special woman.

This is not the final act or closing chapter of her book. This is a new beginning and a starting point for so much more. I know that as she leaves here she’ll have a true sense of pride and accomplishment for her many work successes, but I hope that what she takes with her is not only those, but also the thousands of tiny footprints she has left over countless hearts through these past three decades. It’s truly rare that you can say that you’re lucky to have someone so special in your life. Weeva, if the depths of my affection for you aren’t painfully obvious, then shame on me. Love ya Babe!