Archives For Brooklyn

Bob Saget just filmed a TV special in Brooklyn at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. There has been a recent surge in stand-up comedy yielding big paydays; Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock just scored separate deals worth $20 million a special for their work. But Saget swears he isn’t doing this for the money.

Matter-of-fact, to drive his point home, the actor told me he’s almost never had a major check in mind when seeking out or accepting a gig.

“When I got ‘Full House,’ I just needed a job,” he recalled. “I got fired from a CBS show and I took the money that was offered. And then when I got (America’s Funniest Home Videos) I took the money that was offered and then it became number one and then you find out you get money.

“I have never made money for the reason that I do (projects)… that has nothing to do with how I operate and that’s probably been against my better judgment.”

Saget’s career has sustained regardless of the motivation. That’s evident in the varying reactions he receives while walking around New York City.

“It really varies,” he explained. “It’s ‘Full House,’ it’s ‘Fuller House,’ it’s ‘Aristocrats,’ it’s a line ‘Half Baked’ I can’t repeat.”

The comedian summed it up as “bizarre” and a “bipolar existence” in that people seem to enjoy both his family programs and his “soft-R” material. Saget loves doing both, and perhaps that’s all the motivation he needs.

I spent all of last week silent on Facebook, which no one probably noticed for a number of reasons: I was active on other social networks, I was still frequently in touch with family and friends and of course I was on live on the radio every weeknight.

To me, it felt weird. Last weekend I returned to Syracuse to catch the Orange (don’t get me started on the tournament snub) beat Georgia Tech and attend the annual WJPZ reunion dinner. On Monday I joined my friends on TV at “Chasing News” to talk about my Vinny Guadagnino interview. Wednesday I made the trek down to Brooklyn to watch the Orange lose in the first round of the ACC Tournament (and probably cement that aforementioned snub). And of course, I spent the week counting down the days until my trip to Las Vegas Tuesday, which yes I know might not even happen now with this pending blizzard.

But guess what? None of it mattered this week.

Saturday I was leaving the bookstore inside the Schine Student Center on SU’s campus when I looked down to see a new text notification on my BlackBerry. It was from a coworker with a link to an article on Billboard’s website.

My former colleague, Tommy Page, was found dead in an apparent suicide. I immediately felt numb.

I first met Tommy in May of 2009. I lived in Wilkes Barre, and was as Tommy would later refer to me, “a baby DJ.” At the time, Page was working A&R at Warner Bros. Records. He was so excited about his new act, a boy-band called V-Factory, that he decided to personally bring them by the studio for an interview.

Tommy and I hit it off right away, but to be honest a lot of it was more circumstantial; I think he immediately took a liking to me or at least gave me the benefit of the doubt because he was close with my Program Director at the time, A.J. He also was a bit fan of 97 BHT, particularly the station’s position in the market as the younger, hipper pop station that wasn’t afraid to lean rhythmic or electronic (example: WBHT broke Lady Gaga in the metro when other stations across the country declared that “Just Dance” was “too dance-y” – whatever that jargon means).

And of course, Tommy loved Northeastern Pennsylvania. He raved about his vacation home in East Stroudsburg, and also had recently purchased a fixer-upper in Jim Thorpe.

Tommy and I would spend 2010 through 2014 crossing paths at various events, either in New York or out in Los Angeles. I remember my first GRAMMYs; I attended Billboard’s after-party at The London in West Hollywood. Tommy was its publisher at the time, and immediately left his conversation when he saw me just to come over and say hello. That meant a lot.

Then in 2015, he joined our company as a Senior Vice President of Brand Partnerships. I enjoyed this because not only would I see Tommy in our building occasionally, but I’d get to work with him at some of our signature backstage broadcast events, including the Billboard Music Awards and the American Music Awards in addition to the aforementioned GRAMMYs.

The weekend after our first BBMAs working together in Vegas, Tommy and I both headed down the shore to Point Pleasant for 95.5 PLJ’s Summer Kick-Off. We sat down at the client party and talked about where the company was moving before he tasked me to help write a spec promo for an upcoming event we were working on called “Malibu Mansion Live.”

I’ll never forget, while music played and people partook in the open bar, Tommy and I sat alone in a corner of the room and wrote the script; Tommy throwing out ideas followed by me feverishly typing away on my BlackBerry and reading lines out loud to see what if any changes he wanted.

After a few more revisions, that promo was eventually voiced, produced and presented to company executives and our marketing department. The following November, Tommy and I were in Malibu for the two-night promotion that featured country singer Cam (who he sang “Happy Birthday” to while I walked out with a makeshift cake/candle for her), Nick Jonas, Tori Kelly and Fall Out Boy.

As the second, successful night winded down, Tommy pulled me aside.

“Remember when we first started talking about this and we wrote that promo in Point Pleasant?” he asked. “The whole thing came to life. It was like you and I wrote a hit record together.”

Of course, it was Tommy and his team that did all of the hard work. But coming from a guy who scored a number one hit in 1990 with the single, “I’ll Be Your Everything,” that compliment really struck a chord with me.

That was a unique trait of Tommy’s; working with others and making them feel like they belonged. It’s one of the reasons he was adored by so many, and certainly it’s one of the reasons why I and many others will miss him.

“So You Think You Can Dance” is returning for season 14 to the 18-30 age group with an old friend of the show’s back in the mix: Mary Murphy.

“We’re putting people on the Hot Tamale Train!” an exuberant Nigel Lythgoe commented on my radio show last Friday. The show’s co-creator and judge called from Los Angeles in what is now seemingly an annual tradition after the competition’s renewal. “I’ve got to say, I’ve supported Mary. I’ve got a great chemistry with Mary that I love. She can beat me up and hurt me and I can be rude to her, and that’s all part of the fun of the show.”

Both Lythgoe and Murphy were in Brooklyn earlier this month for auditions alongside Vanessa Hudgens, the former Disney star who as of late saw herself star both on Broadway and in “Grease: Live”.

“She’s just the triple-threat,” gushed Lythgoe about Hudgens. “They can act, they can sing, they can dance. Therefore for a start, they recognize the amount of work that goes in to being a great performer, and number two the talent that is required.”

The former “American Idol” producer was pleased with the talent he saw in Brooklyn, going as far as to make a rather bold prediction.

“I would suggest, and I’m not going to name names, that one of the kids we saw there is going to be the overall winner,” Lythgoe said. “There was a young man there that was outstanding.”

There have only been two other contestants that made Lythgoe feel that way: Carrie Underwood and Season 11 “Dance” winner Ricky Ubeda. Not a bad group to join.

The week of Thanksgiving has turned in to one of my favorite times of the year. It starts in Los Angeles, covering the American Music Awards. A trip to In-N-Out Burger and red-eye flight later, I’m back east and for the next two days, my show airs at its normal time. Then Thursday morning, I’m up at 6 am so I can shower, grab a hot chocolate and walk over to the start of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I stay on the parade route until Santa passes me, which is usually about 10 am. Then I head back to my apartment, edit all of the celebrity interviews and videos I recorded from the morning and begin to figure out what the rest of my evening looks like.


Clearly, this week isn’t busy enough, so this year I added a new wrinkle: after the parade, I was going to fly home to Niagara Falls to see my family for Thanksgiving. It would be the first time in nine years that I was eating turkey in Western New York for the holiday.

This wasn’t my idea; my Mom was adamant on me returning home for the holiday. I think part of the reason is because she felt bad that for the first time in three years she and/or the rest of my squad wasn’t trekking to New York for Thanksgiving.


Back to my now-crazier day: I settled back in to my apartment and started to edit, (temporarily) wrapped at 11, finished packing at 11:30 and called a car to take me to LaGuardia.

There would be no editing at 30,000 feet because our Wifi wasn’t working. But there was this!


My sister picked me up from Buffalo-Niagara International Airport and drove me home. I spent the rest of the evening (sans a break for turkey) finishing the social media updates and editing necessary for both 95.5 PLJ and our sister station, NASH FM 94.7. A coffee and amaretto or three later and I was done for the night.

On Friday I slept in before running 5 miles through my old neighborhood and linking up with my cousin Anthony for some drinks and leftover antipasto at my house. Then I headed down to Buffalo, where I met some old high school friends at a spot called Buffalo Proper. It’s a dimly-lit cocktail lounge with a full kitchen and pretty fantastic vibe. I would recommend the Tatanka and this, the Smoke Break, served on an ash tray.


The trip home was a quick one, as I flew out Saturday morning because I wanted to catch Syracuse play South Carolina at Barclays Center, a game they would lose. But with friends in town for the weekend, I ended up having a fun Saturday night (slash Sunday morning) out, along with a solid Football Sunday that saw my Bills notch a win.

A photo posted by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


And then, in a new Thanksgiving week tradition (because it’s the second year it happened), my Christmas tree went up.


After all, I clearly didn’t have enough going on this week.

The common thread between my last two weekends lies in the spectacular, breathtaking views I took in. It’s one of the many benefits living in the world’s greatest city, with so many great places to travel to an hour or two away.

But that’s where the similarities begin and end. When I drove up the Hudson Valley a few weeks ago, it was part of a free-and-open weekend I had following a party that was cancelled. This past weekend, it was a 9 am wake-up call to get down to Battery Park City by 10 am so that I could interview Charlie Huston, a star in Netflix’s “Stranger Things” and the new Naomi Watts thriller “Shut In.”

Like I said though, the view… still fantastic.


I attempted to get a quick jog in afterwards but my body was a bit worse-for-the-wear given my early call time and lack-of-sleep. Plus, I had to meet my friend Shaina at The Pennsy for a 3 p.m. lunch. We munched on delicious vegan sandwiches from The Cinnamon Snail before setting off on an impromptu walk. We started in midtown, went through Chelsea to the West Village, over to Greenwich Village and in to NoHo, then down to SoHo and back to Battery Park City. On my second trip downtown of the day, I actually walked the park in addition to seeing Brookfield Place Mall and The Oculus for my first time.


And, that sunset… the final one before Daylight Saving Time kicked in. My goodness.


Shaina was off to screen the new Harry Potter spinoff, and I ended up at a couple of my favorite downtown sports bars: Warren 77 in TriBeCa and Kelly’s in the East Village, drinking a few Blue Lights and cheering my Sabres on to victory.

The sports-theme poured in to Sunday, when John Foxx and I hopped over the George Washington Bridge and over to MetLife Stadium. The tailgate in the non-permit lot awaited us, followed by a long walk to the Stadium, where we watched the Giants beat the Eagles in a pivotal division game.


It was a great game… and the view wasn’t so bad either.

Paul Jason Klein, Les Priest and Jake Goss comprise LANY, a trio that formed in Nashville but is the namesake of combining the initials for Los Angeles and New York. Klein, in his other job as a model, lived in Brooklyn for 6 months.

The group stopped by to chat with me about how they met, the band’s headlining tour and what their plans are for a debut, full-length album.

The weekend was such a whirlwind that it spilled in to Monday.

It started Friday when I decided to celebrate the birthday of the Pumpkin Spice Latte. Yes, everyone’s favorite seasonal beverage turned 13 according to Starbucks, who I envision still counting up the sales from that day as I type this. Was it basic? Of course it was! Why else would so many people double-tap it?


To be fair, it’s also an excellent photo that my super-patient colleague Mia took for me on our way back from the Starbucks a block over from the studio.

After Friday night’s show, I headed right home to sleep because I had an early and long Saturday afternoon ahead. The fine folks at the John Lennon Songwriting Contest and John Lennon Educational Bus were holding a block party in Jackson Heights, Queens. Sunday would have been Lennon’s 76th birthday and so the non-profit decided to throw the party on Saturday in what has been dubbed, “the most diverse neighborhood in the world.”


That isn’t just a tagline, either. It was beautiful to see all ages, all ethnicities, all colors come out on a gloomy Saturday to tour the bus, listen to live music and enjoy each other’s company.


I showed up to Queens a little after 11 am and left just before 6. I had enough time to get back to my apartment, change and meet a colleague who was in town and staying near Times Square. I thought we were going to dinner.

Well, we were. But first, we were sitting fifth row at Blake Shelton’s show inside Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.


Dinner did follow at my favorite restaurant, the West Village’s Monument Lane, before drinks and obligatory late-night pizza ensued.

On Sunday I brunched and watched the 1 o’clock game with a friend, went back home to change and then met another friend for drinks at his hotel before heading to Kettle of Fish – the NYC Packers Backers bar – for the Sunday night game.


Look, the colleague is a Packers fan and while I don’t mind the Giants, my Bills won earlier so I was rather indifferent.

Green Bay cruised to victory and shortly thereafter, I cruised back uptown so I could grab some shuteye before interviewing Rachel Platten and Joe Jonas at “Good Morning America.”


Trust me, whirlwinds become much less fun on Monday mornings with short sleep.

Michael Grubbs, the lead man of the indie pop outfit Wakey Wakey, stopped by to chat about the album “Overreactivist” he released in February and how he sometimes lives vicariously through others to write music.
wakey

It was a Sunday Funday for the books.

First stop: The World’s Most Famous Arena. I’ve been to countless Knicks games, Syracuse University basketball matchups, concerts and press opportunities at Madison Square Garden. But from my earliest visit (1998, WWE Summerslam) to this weekend, I had never attended a Rangers game.

On Friday night, I knew that was going to change as soon as I mentioned to my friend who is from Pittsburgh that the Penguins were playing the Blueshirts in Sunday matinee matchup. We purchased two tickets in 308 about 40 minutes before the puck dropped, and I raced down to MSG.

Section 308 is in an area that The Garden calls “The Lounges.” It’s like a suite, built for groups with inclusive food and non-alcoholic beverages, but it isn’t enclosed by walls. It’s on the same level as the equally-new Chase Bridge and offers a nice view of the rink. We were behind the net that the Pens shot on twice, so we had a nice vantage point as Sidney Crosby banged home an empty-netter to seal a 5-3 victory for the bad guys.

A photo posted by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


The assorted sandwiches and couple Bloody Marys did not slow me down; I headed back uptown, fit in a 4 mile run in Central Park and hopped back on StubHub. The Nets were home in Brooklyn against the Milwaukee Bucks. I really don’t care for either team but two former Syracuse stars, Tyler Ennis and Michael Carter-Williams, play on the Bucks. Not to mention, despite the countless events I have attended at Barclays Center including the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards and a New York Islanders game, I had never been to see the Nets!

That changed as well.

My buddy and I scored lower sideline tickets for this game but what really stood out besides our nice view and the padded seats were the extra amenities. As part of our ticket, we had access to the “Happy Half-Hour,” which commences an hour before tip-off and wraps up 30 minutes before game time.


The special? Free domestic beer and wine in the Honda Club. Deal!

Our tickets also included a special pre-game buffet on the suite level and an all-access pass to the food vendors: we could buy anything we wanted from any stand. The cashier simply scanned our ticket and it was free.

Brooklyn played a good game but Barclays Center played a better host. The Nets fell to the Bucks; to be honest, I was a bit too full to notice.

A weird combination of events led to a string of nights out for me. In perhaps the most evident sign that a good time was had: the amount of photos I have from the weekend is scarce. But regardless, here are a few with context.

So when I signed off the air on Friday night, I headed to the East Village. There is a bar there that I’ve been wanting to have a drink at called Kelly’s. The pub positions itself as a “hockey bar” and specifically as a drinking establishment that supports the Buffalo Bills and Sabres along with the Chicago Bulls and Cubs.

Interesting mix, but I didn’t ask questions. The deep fryers stay on late, the Labatt Blue Light is cold and the Sabres were on a west coast trip – meaning the game didn’t start until 10:30p p.m.


Of course I showed up to support my team, and they even won! A great time along with a few chicken wings were had, and I’m looking forward to returning soon. Afterwards, I bounced around the East Village with a friend before making my way back uptown with a pit-stop at a go-to of mine, Jimmy’s Corner. It’s a dive bar in Times Square and it is fantastic.

It also wouldn’t be the last time I visited that spot over the weekend, although I did finally get to meet THE Jimmy.

On Saturday I made a rare appearance in Brooklyn. I ate thai food in Williamsburg with my old college roommate who I hadn’t seen in forever and his girlfriend who I hadn’t seen period. They have dated now for about two-and-a-half years but due to a number of circumstances, namely travel and schedule, I didn’t meet her until Saturday. She was lovely and it was great to catch up with both of them.

Then I literally walked around the corner from the restaurant to a house party my friend was having for her birthday. The plan? Stay for an hour or so, then head back to the East Village because the Sabres were still on the west coast.

What actually happened? I hailed a cab home around 4 a.m.

Sunday I made my way back to Brooklyn (who am I at this point?) to grab dinner with the birthday girl. We ate at this cozy little spot in Brooklyn Heights called Armando’s; the place has been around since the 20’s and Marilyn Monroe and some of the Dodgers were known to hang out there. We left the restaurant just as the Academy Awards were starting; the fine folks at OK! TV invited us to their viewing party in midtown at Refinery Rooftop, so we obliged.


That is the second and final picture that made its way to the Internet from my weekend. Although after the party I did have yet another opportunity to snap a picture in Jimmy’s Corner, but taking pictures in dive bars usually isn’t my style.