Showing posts from 2018

New York City TourGuide Business Wans as Tourism Booms

I've been a licensed New York City tourguide for over 20 years and (if I do say so myself), a pretty darned good guide. I've collected a file of wonderful letters and comments from grateful tourists over the years. My 5-Star reviews on Trip Advisor are dream reviews that many people would LOVE to have.

So what's the problem? NYC tourism is BOOMING, with over 62.8 million tourists a year (up from 30 million a year when I started guiding. The problems are multiple:

1. Double-decker bus chains....these sightseeing companies that offer the constant "hop-on, hop-off"
 bus tours that continually cruise around town picking up tourists popped up 10 years ago and have steadily increased. There are now 3 companies with dozens of buses in their fleets!  People line up on street corners, packing these buses!  Their guides are "low-information" a…

DAHLINGS! Went to the Zsa Zsa Estate Sale! Also met Lisa Vanderpump and Giggy (Jiggy?) from Real Housewives of Beverly Hills

DAHLINGS! Anybody remember Zsa Zsa Gabor? She was one of the first “stars” to be more famous for being famous than her actual acting talent. Even though she died over 2 years ago at age 99, the estate sale was held recently so I attended. The best part was the “open house”…for two days prior to the sale, you were permitted to walk thru her palatial Bel Air home to view all the items up for auction. 
Her home was 1001 Bel Air Road near the top of the hill with a killer view of L.A.  Her 9th and last husband, Frederic Von Anhalt who claimed he was a Prince, held the auction and he was there giving interviews to all the media that showed up. As we entered, there was a long red carpet from the valet parking stand.  I overheard him telling a reporter “I wanted to give Zsa Zsa her last red carpet.” I thought it was fitting because she made a career of marrying wealthy men and then divorcing them and getting outrageously generous financial settlements of cash, artwork, real estate and jewelr…

World's Most Expensive Divorce!!

TRACEY HEJAILAN-AMON, the socialite who alledgedly took a blowtorch to her husband Maurice Alain Amon's safe, ruining his priceless art collection, has been awarded $122,858 a month in spousal support in their divorce, plus a lump-sum payment of $1,262,121-- but she still insists that isn't enough to support her lifestyle.
A Monaco court awarded Tracey 100,000 euros in monthly interim support, plus a back payment of 1,027,301 euros, as she continues to battle with her estranged husband, the 64-year old heir to a Swiss currency printing fortune. His family supplies the link for bank notes for many countries, including the U.S. Yes, they literally print money!
Things got off to a fiery start last year when Tracey lost the key to their safe in Paris and went at it with a blowtorch, allegedly leaving art worth $25 million coated in toxic dust.
The support payment was based on Tracey's lifestyle as his wife, which included year-round private plane and yacht travel, homes in Swi…

Vic Damone, crooner dies at 89; I met him years ago and he was a truly nice guy!

When I was in my 20's I worked backstage on Night of 100 Stars and several other extravaganzas produced by Alexander Cohen. I met so many legendary stars....many very nice and a few NOT.
Night of 100 Stars was held at Radio City Music Hall where I once worked and was familiar with the backstage areas because I had been a backstage tour guide. This was helpful to me when I talked myself into a parttime job with Mr. Cohen's office.

I remember working Night of 100 Stars, a taping filled with legendary stars from all over. My head was swimming as I bopped around backstage, mixing with Grace Kelly, Beverly Sills, Jimmy Stewart, Lana Turner, Gregory Peck and SO MANY MORE....many more than "100." One of these blogs, I'll print my backstage dressing room list....dozens of stars lumped together in small "Rockette" dressing rooms because there was litterally NO PLACE to put them all. It was all for a good cause, to raise money for the Screen Actor's Guild reti…

President's Day Means More to Me This Year Since I Discovered I'm Related to a BUNCH of Presidents from Washington, Adams & Madison to Obama!

President's Day means more to me this year since I discovered I'm related to a BUNCH of Presidents including George Washington, John Adams, James Madison, Theodore Roosevelt, Zachary Taylor, Ulysses S. Grant, both Bushes and even Obama (12th cousin on his Mother's side).

Growing up, I knew my great-grandparents and grandparents and we always heard family stories and legends about famous people in the bloodline but other than scraps of paper from the Family Bible there was no proof. Awhile back my good friend and TV star Alison Arngrim (Little House on the Prairie's Nellie) was visiting from Los Angeles and we were up late chatting about various things. She'd just had her Family Tree done  by an "expert"...Mark Friedrich from Princeton, Illinois. Mark used and other sites to do Alison's Family Tree...she provided some names and birthdates and Mark began the research. He traced her family on both sides (her parents were Canadian) and fo…

Rest in Peace to my kind neighbor Louis Cardona, our local St. Francis of Assisi who took care of the unwanted animals

My neighbor and friend and fellow cat-lover Louis Cardona passed away this morning after an extended cancer battle. He's finally pain-free and back with his lovely wife Toni, who he missed so much. His devoted daughters Deborah and Leslie took wonderful care of him until the end.

F.Y.I.--Our neighborhood has many stray cats and Louis would go out every night with catfood and walk the streets to feed these unwanted animals. Sometimes I would stroll with him and help him and we would talk.  At one point, he had over 20 stray cats & kittens in his apartment! Exasperated, his wife Toni said "Louis, I've had it! Make your choice! It's either ME or these damn cats!"

Louis said "Toni, baby you know I love you....but I can't get rid of my cats! They are my family too!"

Louis loved his music and played vinyl on radio-station quality turntables. He had been a young genius and attended New York's prestigious Stuyvesant High School (smart kids). Later he w…

Gruesome Midtown Murder Revealed by tiny drops of Blood scattered through Radio City Apartments on West 49th Street as told by Jim Dykes

Here in New York City, residential trash is picked up twice a week and recyclables on other days. There are almost NO alleys in Manhattan (the island isn't big enough) so everyone from Hell's Kitchen to Park Avenue must pile up their trash on the sidewalks at night in front of their apartment buildings for pickup.  Every time I walk by Radio City Apartments on Trash Day I remember that horrendous front page murder of several years ago.
A young woman on the 9th floor murdered her boyfriend, chopped him up in the bathtub and hauled him out in hefty garbage bags on trash day, where the bags were piled high on the sidewalk.
She almost escaped detection but it seems there were microscopic red dots of blood that had leaked onto the floors of the building as she dragged the bags outside. In most cases you couldn't see them unless you got down on the floor and looked closely, but dog walkers in the building noticed that their dogs went crazy sniffing and pawing at the same places …

Jennifer Aniston supposedly "hates" New York City...??

So recently the NY Post gossip column Page Six reported the marriage of Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux was "doomed" because of Jennifer's "hatred of New York City." The actress tried moving back to Manhattan where she had lived as a teen after she fell for Theroux, 46, who owns an apt. in Greenwich Village but Aniston couldn't deal with the constant paparazzi and the nosey neighbors and retreated back to the walls of her sprawling Bel Air estate.

"Jennifer is more comfortable in LA with her close-knit group of friends like Courtney Cox," said a source, adding "But Justin doesn't feel as at home in LA, nor with Jenn's friends. He loves New York and the edgier crowd." Putting further strain on their relationship, Theroux's career is booming with 3 movies coming out this year as he works on more. Jennifer is 49 and her career is slowing down.Men in their 40's and 50's work a LOT while women stars in their 40's a…

Celebrities in the City....from Lady GaGa to the Jim Dykes, NYC "celebrity" tourguide

LADY GAGA?? KIM KARDASHIAN?? As a tourguide in New York these days, we are constantly changing our information especially concerning celebrity names and movie references. With the constant flow of reality shows, internet news and pop culture information spewing out PLUS younger tourists, celebrity names that used to mean something no longer spark interest from most groups.
Gilda Radner (long dead) means nothing, Meg Ryan (career dead...means nothing), Madonna (has-been, gets mild interest), Tom Hanks (mildly interesting), Barbara Walters (might as well be dead), and many other names which I used to mention in my tour 5 years ago get very little eyebrows raised on the tour these days.
Young, hip celebrity names are the answer! I recently did a tour where every young person on the bus dozed thru celebrity names like Tom Hanks, Kelly Ripa, Regis Philbin…even Madonna got a few yawns…they are yesterday’s headlines.
As soon as I mentioned Lady Gaga and Kim Kardashian.…the bus erupted…they lov…

New York City's "Celebrity" Tourguide Jim Dykes spots celebs all over New York City!

Since New York is a city of celebrities EVERYwhere, it’s undeniable that celebs pop up on our tours. Sometimes as a passenger on the bus, sometimes as a “sight” on the tour, sometimes they become PART of the tour! I recently put out a request to guides on the Facebook site for guides and people came forward with personal stories. Marc Landman said that he saw both Katie Courie and Savannah Guthrie but years ago his most famous celebrity sighting was SPUDS MacKenzie, the bull terrier from the Bud Light commercials.  Guide Stan O’Connor contributed: “ I was in Midtown, standing in the stairwell of the double-decker bus, giving a tour. As we went past the Four Seasons Hotel, I told the people that I. M. Pei designed it.  Continuing, I went on to say that "he'd also designed the Javits  Convention Center, the big gold pyramid on the National Mall in Washington and a similar pyramid at the Louvre in Paris" and he..." I looked down to my right, where Pei happened to be s…

Natalie Wood's unfortunate death (murder?) is back in the news; My late acquaintance Robert Osborne (Turner Classic Movies) told me about his first meeting with Natalie.

Robert Osborne, who recently passed away, was the star of the TURNER CLASSIC MOVIES channel and knew just about EVERYBODY from classic Hollywood. He started in Hollywood as an actor but after his friend Lucille Ball advised him to be a writer, he changed course. He got a job at the Hollywood Reporter and one day was assigned to interview the young star Natalie Wood, who was one of the hottest box office stars in Hollywood.

Robert said when he showed up at her Beverly Hills home, he was visibly nervous and had made note cards with questions numbered which he kept dropping on the floor. He was perspiring and when he sat down with Natalie she could tell right away. "Is this your first interview?"  He said that it was and she said "Let me see your note cards."  She shuffled thru the questions, marked things, re-numbered the sequence, replaced some questions with others and then said "Let's go out to the pool and relax"...she made them drinks and they sat d…