The Miracles at the Whitney

We all experience miracles both big and small -- some of us more often than others. Whether or not you fully experience them is pretty much up to your own personal level of awareness.

But trust me: it happens.

I have experienced not one but two extraordinary moments of convergence that happened at The Whitney Museum. The old one and the new one.

Miracle #1

One of my closest friends in the world when I was around 17 was Jeff Hessing. We were guitar slinging bad boys together at camp. But as life often sprouts new, often impulsive tracks to follow, especially when you are young, Jeff and I wandered away from each other, distracted no doubt by the dazzling lights of endless possibilities. Life went on for decades without him strumming next to me.

Around 2000ish Jeff posted a note on our camp electronic bulletin board wondering about me.

It turns out that Jeff had become a world class painter now living in Provence, in the south of France.

Wow.

He and I connected and our bromance was rekindled in nanoseconds.
Eventually Jeff's work was about to be shown at The Pucker Gallery in Boston and he invited me to write his catalogue and come up to Boston for a dinner in his honor that I would speak at.

Sadly, our reunion was not meant to be for I was spending as much quality time with another Jeff: Jeff Benjamin who was my best friend and dying of pancreatic cancer. Jeff Benjamin died the day before Jeff Hessing's dinner.

Jeff returned to Provence and life went on for me in New York City where I had relocated after a 30 year weekend in Los Angeles where I staffed or ran sitcoms from Mad About You to Fresh Prince.

Jeff was once again regulated to the distant mist of memory.

One day many years later, my friend Susie, another artist, suggested that we catch the big show at The Whitney. We agreed to get there by noon.

It was such a gorgeous day---with a massive Gatorade blue sky with marshmallow clouds, that we mutually agreed that instead of spending hours inside, we would instead go all the way uptown and wade our way through Central Park en route to the museum.

By the time we go there, it was much, much later than our original agreed upon time. It was now 5:00P and the museum was about to close soon.

We briefly debated whether or not we should even bother...and declared: What the hell. We're here. Let's go.

So in we went. Susie stopped and decided that she should check her bag and so there I stood: waiting...in the museum...HOURS later than I had planned to be there...

And in walked Jeff.

I could hardly breath. Wait. What? He lives in France! Maybe that's not him!

But I had seen his picture online. THAT was him. I KNEW it.

Still...the blood that was no rushing through both ear canals was giving me temporary brain vertigo. So I walked the tightrope that was my quivering balance, walked up to him and said, quietly:

"Jeff?"

Nothing. He did not turn around. Shit. It wasn't him! No. Wait. Maybe he didn't hear me!

So I said in my LOUD inner mother resonating voice:

"JEFF?"

He turned. He had no idea who I was.

I said: "I love you." Then: It's David.

We fell into each other's arms. What were the odds of this happening?

I was supposed to be there HOURS EARLIER and then was momentarily detained while Susie checked her bags.

Eventually we closed a bar that night (I remember in the background the Everybody Loves Raymond actress the great Doris Roberts was holding court telling tales (Doris and I shared the loss of a mutual friend Arlene Grayson years before).

Miracle #2

A few days ago, I arranged to meet out of town friends at the new Whitney museum at 2P on Gansevoort, then hike the twilight lit High Line and then we would have dinner at Sardis. Nice, right?
Even though our pace was languid we finished our Whitney tour in a little over an hour. Not wanting to get high lining too early, I suggested on impulse that we have a cup of tea in the Whitney restaurant.

We ambled in and the hostess told us that tea only could be enjoyed at the communal tables. There were three empty seats next to two dapper, elderly gents and we sat down and ordered.

FREEZE FRAME INFORMATION MOMENT:

I am currently working on a new sitcom project with the great Paul Reiser (I did both Mad About You and My Two Dads). The show involves clips from Johnny Carson's Tonight Show (whose 30 year library exclusive rights the charming, clever Paul was able to secure). Paul asked me to fly out to LA this Monday (12/7) to hang out his house and jam with Jeff Sotzing who is Johnny's nephew and the head of Carson Entertainment). I am due at his house at 11:30A on Tuesday.

UNFREEZE/BACK TO THE WHITNEY RESTAURANT

The two elderly men who were sharing our table, suddenly vacated their chairs and were instantly replaced by two really good looking women: one blonde/one brunette.
Being a chatty man by trade, I effortlessly wormed my way into their conversation in search of any commonality.
When I mentioned "Mad About You," the second Whitney miracle of my life happened.

She asked: do you know Paul Reiser?

Yup. Why?

She said (here it comes......):

I am great friends with his wife Paula and I am staying at their house on Monday.
How is this possible?? Figuring there are 10 million people in NYC, the odds of me meeting Mary Ann were 10,000,00 to 1.

But it happened.

The Whitney Museum has now hosted two of the most extraordinary moments of miraculous convergences in my life.

Art meets heart.

The best kind of unimaginable exhibit imaginable.