Friday, September 11, 2009

Brushes with Fame

I was going to talk about all of the automobiles that I have had in my life, but last night I was talking with some friends about "brushes with fame." These are the times when you talk to or interact with someone famous. I figure mine are more interesting than talking about the Chevy Beretta that I totaled in college.
The greatest opportunity that I had to meet famous people was when I worked at Smith and Wollensky in Boston. Because we were a high-profile restaurant, lots of rich and famous people wanted to come in for dinner. Some of these interactions were pretty funny. For example, Rick Schroeder came in (yep- the blonde kid from Silver Spoons, and later NYPD Blue) with his manager. They were eating dinner, and all of the sudden the manager approaches me and Jim, the GM of the restaurant. He came right up to us, and asked "Hey guys, do you want me to set up a photo op with you and Rick?" I looked at Jim, tried to control my laughter, looked at him, and said "Nope, I think we're okay." The manager sulked off.
I did have the chance to meet Green Day. They were really pretty cool guys. I talked to their keyboardist for quite a while, and he was pretty humble for a rock star. George Wendt (Norm on Cheers) was a good guy, as was Matt Pinfield (they bald guy that used to host Headbanger's Ball on MTV). Justin Guarini, of American Idol fame was kind of a dork, and Jack Welch was pretty quiet. The wildest experience though that I had there was managing the rookie dinner for the New England Patriots.
It's often a ritual that the newly drafted rookies have to buy dinner for an NFL team. After the Patriots won the Super Bowl in early 2005, they had this dinner at our restaurant. I have never seen such an example of excess and wanton waste in my life. There were about 60 guys, with one PR rep and no coaches at the dinner. In just under 3 hours, they spent almost $46,000 on dinner, booze, and wine. The problem came when the rookies said that they would only cover $40,000 of the tab. I had to go to Tom Brady, Wilie McGinnest, and Ty Law (team captains), and ask them to pony up $6,000. Willie looked at me, and said "you look nervous man, don't you do these things alot?", not really. If they didn't pay up, I would lose my job! Finally, Tom Brady threw his Amex black card down, and said just to take care of it. I did, and handed his card back to him. About 1/2 hour later, he came up to me, asking about his card. I told him that I had given it back to him.
"No you didn't"
"Yes, sir I did"
"Man, you didn't"
"Mr Brady, I assure you I handed you your card back"
"Dude, I don't have the card"
"TOM. Look in your wallet."
"Oh, here it is. Sorry, man."
One thing that I learned is that most of the veteran players were pretty cool. The younger guys were the drunken idiots.

Well, this weekend, go open a bottle of 2007 Saintsbury Carneros Pinot Noir. The '07 wines out of Carneros (and cabs out of Napa) are really proving to be good wines. This particular one comes from a 28 year old winery. I have heard that aged Saintsbury wines literally drink like fruit forward Burgundy. This wine should cost you in the mid-20's.


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