TBT: Of Elevators, the 80s, a Legendary Watch and a Legendary Hip Hop Band

In looking through my Google alerts for blog material, I noticed a “Coffee Talk Wednesdays” segment by an Oklahoma City FOX news team in which the three hosts revealed their choices — Stevie Wonder, (comic actress) Mindy Kaling and (comic actor) Will Ferrell — for who they would like to be stuck in an elevator with, and went on to conduct an audience poll. My work and, at times, personal life has brought me face to face with a few famous people. One such encounter took place in a hotel elevator in New Orleans in 1987. While the elevator was not “stuck” (it was simply traveling from floor to floor), it gave a just-out-of-high school goth/Madonna wannabe a chance to attempt to strike up a conversation with the celebrity in the elevator with me: Joseph Simmons, aka Run, Rev. Run and DJ Run of the groundbreaking hip hop band Run DMC. Noticing we sported the same “X” Swatch watch, I said, “Hey, nice watch!” To which, Rev. Run replied, “……” In other words, silence. He just stared deeply into the wall. Oh, well. He could probably tell from my attire I wasn’t exactly a hip hop fan.

(l-r) Jason Mizzell, Darry McDaniels and Joseph Simmons in an early Run DMC publicity photo

I have since learned that the “X” Swatch in question went on to be embraced by the “straight edge” punk movement that eschews alcohol and drugs. That wasn’t why I was wearing it — I simply liked the letter and the Los Angeles band, X. Anyway, original “X” Swatches became legendary and some have even sold on sites like eBay for hundreds, or even a thousand, dollars. No — I have no idea what happened to mine.

The legendary “X” Swatch, circa 1987
“Hey, nice watch!” Your author around the time of the incident

“Heathrobots” Join COVID-19 Fight at London’s Heathrow

Robots delivering food and supplies to quarantined COVID-19 patients in Chinese hotels, while indisputably strange and sci-fi, makes perfect sense. Now robots, outfitted with virus-killing ultraviolet (UV) light systems, have been enlisted at London Heathrow airport in the fight against the spread of COVID-19, the BBC reports. Here, the short, rounded robots — which bring to mind R2D2 — cruise the terminals and enter areas like restrooms (when unoccupied, of course) to disinfect them with powerful UV light (which is also harmful to human skin, hence the provision restrooms be unoccupied.) In the video below, the host describes the airport’s other virus-fighting measures, including retrofitting escalators with UV-light sanitation systems and placing anti-viral coatings on high-touch areas such as escalator handrails and lift buttons.

“You think you’re better than me???”

The above is a quote by Izzy Mandelbaum, an 80-year-old fitness enthusiast portrayed on Seinfeld by the late, great Lloyd Bridges. Mandelbaum, along with his elderly son, Izzy Jr., and even more elderly father, Izzy Sr…loved weightlifting and lived in the same retirement community — the fictional Del Boca Vista — as Jerry Seinfeld’s parents. The Mandelbaums were fierce when it came to physical training and competition, and Mandelbaum techniques landed them in the hospital. Twice.

I couldn’t help but think of the Mandelbaums when I read the story and saw the video on CBS affiliate Channel 12 News of a misunderstanding between two senior citizen neighbors in a condo high rise in Miami Beach, Florida. With property managers limiting elevator capacity to two in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19, an 86-year-old gentleman attempted to enter an elevator already carrying a 72-year-old man and his wife. The elder man misunderstood the 72-year-old’s holding up two fingers. He meant “two passengers only,” but the older man interpreted the gesture as a “peace” sign. What ensued was anything but peaceful, as the younger man shoved the older one to prevent him from entering the elevator and is now facing assault charges.

Nerves are frayed in the COVID-19 era, and it’s a shame these longtime neighbors clashed in such an unpleasant way. Here’s hoping the situation comes to an amicable conclusion.