The Year in Celebrity Pictures: Pete Seeger

Celebrity: Pete Seeger, best known for being awesome
Photos taken: (1) March 19, 2011, at the Kleinert/James Arts Center, Woodstock, NY
(2) September 11, 2011, NYU Kimmel Center, NYC

An official 2011 Sigman Holiday Greeting, and the first-ever two-photo split of the same person (historic!). The first was taken after a benefit show Mr. Seeger did with his half-sister Peggy in Woodstock. I saw an article that mentioned the show while visiting friends in Oneonta, NY (and delivering the Weird Al book as a matter of fact), and, because I knew the show was in a small space, assumed the show was sold out, or at least the $100 VIP tickets, which included seats in the first five rows and a postshow meet and greet. When I found out tickets were still available, I told my friend and he and I went all in for the VIP seats. I began hoping there wasn't going to be a surprise appearance from Princess Wow.

When we took our seats, the woman to my left seemed stunned that I was in the VIP section and, in fact, made a point of asking how I got the tickets. When she asked me, I assumed she was saying something because she was as surprised as I was that it didn't sell out immediately. But I soon realized that she was completely baffled as to how someone who looked like me would be sitting next to her in the VIP section. This was confirmed when she said, "This is the VIP section, you know." And during intermission, my slowly accepting rowmate turned to me and said, "It's so nice to see someone your age enjoying the show" before rattling off her protester cred and bemoaning the state of today's wayward youth. I thought Woodstock was supposed to be kind to people with long hair.

Anyway, the show was good, but as it got later, we began to wonder if Mr. Seeger would, in fact, be up for meeting and greeting. It took him awhile to come out, but he eventually set up shop next to the snacks and began taking pictures and signing autographs. One dude must have brought about 25 things for him to sign, which seemed to be a little bit of overkill ( I brought two, and I felt bad about even bringing that much). He was at least breaking it down into small groups of items, so we had time to sneak in and get our stuff done. I got my photo done first, but then we lost our place in line when the other guy brought more stuff over to sign. Finally, as the clock inched toward midnight, I took my friend's picture with Mr. Seeger and we were on our way. Unfortunately, we were in such a rush to get going and let the nice 91-year-old man get his rest, that we didn't realize Mr. Seeger's eyes were closed in the picture. But thanks to the magic of Photoshop (and thanks, Karin!), we saved that photo.

The second photo was taken after another benefit (that's pretty much all Mr. Seeger prefers to play anymore), this one for first responders and their children, on the 10th anniversary of the events of September 11, 2001. I generally spend the day sitting at home and watching the names being read (and crying), but after I did some of that in the morning, I headed into the city. It was an interesting event. They started by showing video of interviews with first responders that was completely heartbreaking and just emotionally crushing and then, whee, it was time for music. It was awkward. And it got more awkward when the woman with Parrots for Peace got up to speak. And then there was a guy dressed as a pirate who sang a song. And then there were two guys running around the room twirling giant flags. So after trying to fight back tears for a half hour, I was now trying not to laugh at people as they performed on stage. And dodging the stuffed globes being thrown into the audience. (You'll be pleased to know I caught one.)

I wasn't planning on getting another photo with Mr. Seeger, but once I saw him seemingly happily taking photos with people, I figured I might as well. Of course, because I am not wont to interject myself into people's conversations and crowd people, I wound up getting up to Mr. Seeger just as the woman who was with him told him to tell her when he'd had enough, and he replied, "Um, I think I'm about ready." But I quickly handed my camera off to the woman and, voila, Pete Seeger photo #2 is born. I prefer standing shots to the squatting variety, so I'm pleased with the retake, though I like the first one just fine.

Actually, it's Pete Seeger photo #3, as the first one was taken by my sister in Bryant Park about 15 years ago at a tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. at which there were I'd say about 20 people. And now, since my sister recently gave me the photo, here's another shot of Pete and me, meeting for the first time.

Ah, memories. Bonus Sigman trivia fact: I was on local Ithaca TV getting Arlo Guthrie to sign the very same album I'm holding in the photo. I would also like to note Mr. Seeger's love of the paisley blue shirt through the years. And, finally, I would like to declare that I will no longer bother Pete Seeger for an autograph or photo. He has given me enough.

So that's it for the Year in Celebrity Pictures 2011. Onward!

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