Thoughts From Places: Turtles All the Way Down Tour

Thursday, January 11, 2018

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My Trip to New York City's Nerdfighteria

In October I went to New York City for a couple days to go to the Turtles All the Way Down tour with Hank and John Green. I left on a Monday night at about 10:30pm (by Megabus which was late. It's always late because it comes from Toronto and it always gets stuck at the border.) I got into the city at about 8:30am or so and started the long walk to my Hostel from 27th to 88th. I could have taken the subway but I love walking the city as I never know what I'll find. I did take a break in Times Square to people watch and around 62nd where I went to Lincoln Plaza Cinema to see Loving Vincent that movie that is completely painted in the style of Van Gogh! That wasn't a spur of the moment thing though. I have been following it's progress since they announced the movie years ago. Originally it wasn't coming to Buffalo and I thought I'd never see it but it just so happens that it was still playing in New York so I couldn't not go see it! I love seeing movies by myself. The first time I did was last year when I went to see Alice Through the Looking Glass while backpacking.
I love NYC!

I went by myself, but I met a bunch of nerdfighter friends, old and new, for a gathering before the show. I belong to the New York Nerdfighter group on Facebook. I joined it years ago when I went to the NYC stop of the Tour Because Awesome! In line for the concert I met some awesome people! Some of whom I met up with at NerdCon and again here! It was like a mini reunion! Seamus set up a pre-show gathering that I went to, but was late for! By the time I got there they had already written a bunch of nerdfighter notes and were just about to put them in John's (and Maureen Johnson's) books! One of the coolest parts of this was that Lori Earl, Esther Earl's mom was there. I had forgotten my TSWGO bracelet and she noticed and gave me one!! Lori is the mom of Nerdfighteria and is the loveliest person.

A bunch of us got food and then went to Bryant Park for a couple hours to kill time before making our way over to the Town Hall. We all sat in a circle and just talked about all sorts of nerdy things. There was about 20 or so of us. What was great though was that halfway through this other group of people came behind us and just started juggling? It must have been an agreed upon spot to practice or something, but either way it was really cool. One of our group actually abandoned us and they taught him how to juggle. I love how spontaneous NYC is. The venue was only a couple blocks away and I met up with Marie (who had my ticket, she bought us front row because she is amazing!) out front near the tour bus! We actually got to meet Rosianna Halse Rojas before we went in!
John and Hank Green!

The show itself was great. It was like watching a Vlogbrothers video live. John came out first and read a selection from Turtles. And then Dr. Lawrence Turtleman came out and gave a powerpoint presentation on Monotypic Taxa as windows into Modern Phylogeny (aka Hank in a turtle costume wearing a suit jacket). They took questions from the audience in the form of a mock Dear Hank and John episode, wherein they both forgot the format of the podcast. Hank brought out his guitar and sang a few songs. John did a tribute to Amy Krouse Rosenthal in the form of “We are here because we are here because we are here” to the tune of Auld Lang Syne that we all sang together which was sad and moving. Hank came back out and they both sang the Anglerfish song (which by the way is my favorite Hank song), All Star (because of course) and the first verse and chorus of Sweet Caroline BUT we couldn’t sing the BAH BAH BAH or the SO GOOD. It was so hard. John was so excited by the silence in the part that he literally jumped up and down around the stage. It was like his entire life was completed. As an encore they came out and sang the Mountain Goats.

As if just seeing John and Hank the night before wasn't enough, I was also invited to be in the audience for John's segment on Good Morning America the next morning. My friend Seamus was contacted by the producer to have him and 20 or so “mega Nerdfighters” come and welcome John. Seamus invited me and Marie along with a bunch of others! I had to get up at 5am, I fought with the 86th street station turnstyle, but I did get to the studio. We waited in the VIP line and got our IDs checked (to make sure we were on the list, how cool?!), and got bracelets to wear. Once in we were led to the studio. We could see Times Square out the window. Basically, taping GMA was incredibly boring and kind of annoying. Commercials are forever long. There is this guy there who is supposedly a comedian that is in charge of keeping the audience under control or whatever. He “taught” us how to clap and how to smile and made fun of us. He was actually horrible. One of the serious segments was about that horrible Weinstein or whatever his name is and the comedian fellow literally said, “and remember big smiles.” We all looked at him like he was nuts and he said, “you know appropriate smiles though.” I was so mad that this man was telling me to smile during a segment about sexual assault that I told him to eff off.
The GMA Green Room!

He must hear that a lot though or I didn't say it loud enough because he still chose me to be one of the ten that went backstage to the green room to film a commercial spot with John. That was fun. I can officially say that I met him. I was the closest to where he was sitting (about 5 feet away from him) wearing my Pizza John shirt and he said “Thanks for wearing my torso on your face. Wait, no. You know what I mean!” and he looked around and saw all of us wearing DFTBA merch and was excited that we were all real nerdfighters. He asked me if I liked the book and I responded that since I got it last night from the event that I hadn't started yet. He was excited that all of us were at the show and asked if we liked the “Sweet Caroline” bit because he wasn't quite sure. I especially assured him that it was fantastic and that I loved how excited he got over silence and that it was surprisingly satisfying.

When the 10 of us who were picked came back to the main stage the cast of Goodbye, Christopher Robin was there! Domhall Gleeson, Bill Weasley himself, was there along with Margot Robbie, Kelly MacDonald, and Will Tiltson. The show gave everyone in the audience a ticket to Goodbye Christopher Robin's Director's screening of his film that night. Originally, I was going to try to see Aladdin on Broadway (well actually I tried to win the Hamilton lottery and of course did not get it), but I had already wanted to see the movie so I couldn't pass up a free ticket.

After the taping of GMA, some of us went to a diner on 9th Ave for breakfast. It was so nice to spend time with other nerdfighters. From there a few of us went to Central Park with the intention of reading some of Turtles, but it was such a nice day so we sat at the top of this GIANT rock in near the children's playground. We sat there for what seemed like several hours but was only a few. Because we had all gotten up so freakin' early time seemed to be moving way too slow because of those extra hours. Eventually, we went to a Starbucks and actually read for a few hours before we made our way to Paris Theatre to use our free tickets. Goodbye, Christopher Robin is an amazing movie and I highly recommend it! What was cool was that the Director was there and introduced the movie! It was an incredible experience, the whole 2 days in New York was just bananas.

I'm so thankful for John and Hank for creating such an awesome and welcoming community. Even though I'm not from NYC the nerdfighters there are so kind and invite me to events even though I can't always attend. 

Best Wishes and DFTBA,