My birthday is next Sunday, November 19th. And when I'm into celebrating it (as the pix from the previous years demonstrate), I celebrate it all through the month - a bit before the actual day and all the way through to Christmas Eve. Last Friday, after I had just returned from the west coast, I got less than a day to have some general 'party' time before an early Saturday morning flight. But my friends Ern and Tina invited me to hang out with them in the city to begin the 'natal anniversary' festivities. Since I was getting right back on the road for another week and change, all I needed to really do was switch out my suitcase (used underwear for clean underwear) and voila! Everything else could be dry cleaned. So, I decided to forego sleep and quiet reflection to instead paint the town random with my friends in tow. We didn't really have a plan as much as we wanted to have a cocktail or two, and perhaps get our groove thing on the dancefloor (after all, "it's my birthday". Well, it will be...). Tina's friend Devon owns a car service and was scheduled to be chauffeuring David Hasselhoff around the city. Strangely, we all wanted to meet him. Admittedly, I was never a "Knight Rider" or "Baywatch" fan, but I do remember watching him play Dr. Snapper Foster on "Young & The Restless" in the '70s (You recall, I grew up on 'the stories'). But our search was for not. We were never quite able to hook up with the current "America's Got Talent" judge, but in New York City, you never know who else you might run into. Tina, Ern, and I met a couple of their friends Geva and Noem, who asked us to meet them at a club in Chelsea called "ULTRA", the new Flatiron cocktail lounge in New York City. In addition to a great mix of top 40 and house music, we sipped on nice drinks (actually just Coca Cola this time for me vs. my usual Kir Royale [champagne and light on the chambord]. I didn't want to be hungover). And though no David Hasselhoff, we ran into Hollywood actor and sometimes "bad boy" Mickey Rourke hanging out at the club. As he held court with lots of lovely model-looking ladies surrounding him, he looked my way and gave me a shout out. Before night's end (as he was exiting the club), he came over to where we all stood and gave me a high-five/handshake as if he knew me. I just played along. And inside my all-roads-lead-back-to-pop-culture-and-nostalgia mind, I considered this moment one big honor. I thought of senior year in high school. It was June 1988 and close to graduation. We called it "senior skip day", but it was more like "leave early day" as we did attend our "senior breakfast", then deciding to take the rest of the day off. After all, we were graduates at this point. The ceremony was just a formality. We decided to sneak to my best friend Natalie's home (a good 50 or so of us as her parents were at work) to watch - for the time - our American sweetheart Lisa Bonet in the racy film (or so we thought) "Angel Heart". Mickey plays a grungy detective hired by a mysterious man (Robert De Niro) to find a missing person, only to discover dead bodies and a bizarre revelation. Our "Denise Huxtable" plays a voodoo priestess in the film and enjoys a sex scene (chockful of bloody, dead, sacrificing chickens) with Mickey. Hot stuff (or so we thought). This decision along with her inclusion on the cover of the still best-selling "Rolling Stone"s HOT issue would create a wedge between she and 'righteous' Cosby that would never quite get settled (though she did spin off to launch "A Different World" and before "Cosby Show"s end, she did return for a large part of the final season). Lisa Bonet would go on to live her life under the radar, first as Lenny Kravitz's wife, soon thereafter as the mother of Zoe. And from time to time, she comes out to play "actress". Still, my sighting of Mickey Rourke, sparked my appreciation for who Lisa Bonet has been as a pop culture presence and icon to me. Meanwhile, as the night progressed, we stumbled into another fixture from our 'pop culture' conscience. It was one of American Idol reject William Hung's contemporaries. It was the sassy, African American guy (with a pierced tongue) who cussed Randy, Paula, and Simon out after they told him he wasn't going to Hollywood. I didn't ask him his name, but I recognized him immediately. He was working at "Ultra" as a server and seemed to be in good spirits. From there, Noem led us to "Millionaire's Club" and "After Hours" - two way-downtown Manhattan spots that he co-owns. We received V.I.P. treatment in the way of our respective entries to these spots (no lines or velvet rope issues here). But the not-exactly-top shelf liquor (and coke) left a bad taste in Tina and Ern's mouth (I just didn't drink the fountain's excuse for Coca-Cola). Still joyful, I sang along to the stellar DJ's selects as the late night/early morning edged on. We would have had some after-hours breakfast at Cafeteria, but my chariot awaited. My night of random sightings and memories were done and the hour was 4:00 am. So, Ern and I instead picked up some "White Castle" burgers to assuage our hunger. With Ern driving us in "Mahogany" (his dark red Range Sport), we pulled into the parking lot of my home in Ridgefield Park, New Jersey where my driver Owen was parked, waiting to take me to the Newark airport for my 6:30 am flight to Cleveland. I splashed some water on my face, grabbed my suitcase, and -- all in a New York City night -- segued to the beginning of my day. It was a festive night that made for an exhausting morning, but in the spirit of "my birthday", I let it ride joyfully (while I crashed to sleep on the plane).