Friday, July 2, 2010

The Ghostbusters

Hook & Ladder 8 in TriBeCa, home of the Ghostbusters.
14 North Moore St. at Varick St., the Ghostbusters firehouse..
The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man stepped on Holy Trinity Church on 65th St. & CPW.
Dan Aykroyd drank to friend John Belushi, who was supposed to be in the film, at the White Horse Tavern on the night he died in 1982.
Dana and Louis' building on Central Park West and 65th Street.
After filming Ghostbusters II was completed, the sign was given to the station.
Hook & Ladder 8's logo painted on the ground in front of the building.
Firefighters waiting for the truck to return.
I saw Ghostbusters on VH1 the other day. It's one of their latest "Movies That Rock". To be honest, they're right. Ghostbusters does rock. I used to love that movie as a kid. My father said, "I'd rent that movie, and I really got my money's worth, because you'd watch it all weekend." And the thing is, as an adult, I enjoy it on a whole other level. It wasn't until about fifteen years later that I even noticed most of the things Bill Murray says.

Not to get too over-analytical about it, but I think that the four comedians who play the Ghostbusters portray their characters perfectly. Ray is kind of over-excited when he's optimistic and worries too much when he has doubts, with an almost child-like enthusiasm about what they've discovered. Egon's very serious and studious, and it's kind of hard to have a regular conversation with him because he seems to not have much of a sense of humor. Peter deals with these personalities by being very mellow and laid back, and cracking jokes all the time. While Winston comes along, and, as a blue-collar type, he really has the most down-to-earth and unpretentious personality.

After watching this movie for years, I only very recently found out that like me, Dana and Louis also lived on 65th Street, which I thought was pretty cool, but on the West Side, and so I figure it's time for an all-out Ghostbusters tour. Not exactly an easy task. On this day I realized that this movie really does take place all over Manhattan. So I walk across 65th Street, from 1st Avenue, through the park, to Central Park West, where on the corner is the church that the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man stepped on, and next to it, Dana and Louis' apartment building, with a strange peak on the roof that serves as Gozer's temple. A few other bloggers and webmasters I've come across have mentioned, and it's true, the building really is a lot smaller than it appears in the movie, which I also later see with the firehouse. A couple even mentioned that they thought the church was simply made to look like it was right there through camera tricks, and were surprised to see a church really was right next to the building, but someone like me, who truly studied the movie, can see the church in the background in a number of different scenes. They say anybody can be a blogger these days. Boy, they're not kidding.

On a side note, I visited the church a couple months earlier, and came across the choir rehearsing the Bach Vespers. Rehearsals are open to the public, and I must say, they're quite good. It's kind of funny to see these young hipster types with these operatic voices. The church also features cushioned seats, something I've seen often in Protestant churches I've visited, but not once in the many, many Catholic churches I've been inside of. I guess cushions are too ritzy for the Catholics.

Well, the next step is on to the firehouse -- Varick Street and North Moore Street in TriBeCa. I told you this movie was all over the place. Oh, well, better get going before it get's dark. I've done this kind of long walk before, but I've got to get used to doing it on these hot, muggy summer days. As I make my way first down 8th Avenue and then Hudson Street, I pass by the White Horse Tavern, an English style pub that's been around since 1880, and is a virtual shrine to the heavy-drinking poet Dylan Thomas. But it was a popular hangout for many writers and actors. The house Jack Kerouac used to live in is across the street, and John Belushi, who had a heavy drug problem, would come here often. When Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis wrote the script, they originally had John Belushi in mind for Peter, but he died when the movie was still early in production. Slimer, actually, is kind of supposed to be the ghost of Belushi. On the night he died in March 1982, Aykroyd is said to have come here during last call, have the doors locked, and bought everyone there a round in his memory.

Finally, I make it down to the firehouse, and almost regret bothering to walk all this distance. I've been down there a lot at this point, so I've gotten pretty used to it, but for a while, I always got a real kick out of seeing it, because the building is so iconic. While most firehouses are connected to the neighboring buildings along the street, this one is independant, and after seeing it again and again, in the movies, the cartoon, and even made into a "doll house for boys" of sorts, it looks almost exactly the same with only a couple of changes. The two black doors with mini-doors for walking through were replaced by a red door that comes down, which I think is standard in the fire department, and a much nicer steel-iron fence replaced the chain-linked one that was there before to the left. The door happened to be opened this day (it usually isn't) showing off the Ghostbusters 2 sign that was donated to them, just on the inside by the door, but I especially like how a version of the crossed out ghost is incorporated into the Hook & Ladder 8 logo, painted on the ground in front of the building.

So, it's time to start heading up north again. I still can't believe I'm doing this. After sitting for a while in Cavala Park, watching a couple young kids and one music major, who was clearly showing off, play the two pianos open to the public, I keep on going, desperate for the first drink of water I could find, which unfortunately wasn't until the old reliable Shake Shack in Madison Square. (The fountain in Union Square was occupied by a group of rowdy teens filling up water balloons.)

Believe it or not, I made it home, though my dogs were barking and I was dripping in sweat. Oh, yeah, along the way I take note of the New York Public Library main branch on 42nd and 5th. I suppose I could head uptown to Columbia University on 116th and Broadway, but ... no I couldn't. Maybe some other time.

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