A Capitol Idea
Q: The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester is a beautiful structure. I know it has been rehabbed. Can you tell me what it was originally built for?
—Norah Maloney, Pelham
A: The grand opening of the theater, on August 18, 1926, drew 2,000 folks and turned away hundreds more for a showing of the motion picture Sea Wolf. Later, it was the spot to see classics like Casablanca, Gone With the Wind and The Taming of the Shrew. Double features were the favorite weekend activity back then, and going to the movies cost as little as a nickel.
By the late ’60s, people stayed home, glued to the tube, and the popularity of The Capitol waned. But once America discovered rock ‘n’ roll later in the decade and well into the ’70s, the Capitol was “where it was at” for acts like The Grateful Dead, Traffic, Janis Joplin, Bruce Springsteen, Pink Floyd, and just about anyone else you could think of. That’s until 1970, when Port Chester passed an ordinance that no live music could be played after 1 am, and that meant the party was over at The Cap.
After that, the building was left to rot, with only pigeons attending the theater, mostly making a home out of the dilapidated roof. In 1984, it was reopened to show plays and musicals. For a brief period in the ’90s, the bands came back, but the economy at the time made it difficult to make a profit. In 1997, the floor seats were removed and the venue was used for events, catering, and even professional boxing.
In 2011, Peter Shapiro took over The Cap and did yet another round of major renovations. As the owner of the Brooklyn Bowl in Williamsburg, a successful live-music venue, Shapiro has brought The Cap back as a premier spot for entertainment. Today, The Cap has a full schedule again and this month will host The B-52s, Wilco, The Wailers, and Foreigner, as well as many other marquee acts booked to appear throughout the year.
Q: Why do the people in your county refer to a sub sandwich as a“wedge”?
—Geoff Madnick, Wells, NY
A: I kinda feel like you’re pointing a finger at me.
I could turn the question around and ask why you mountain people named something edible after a weapon of mass destruction. How much sense does that make? Just because more people call something by a certain name doesn’t make it right! Didn’t your mother ever ask you if all your friends were going to jump off a bridge, would you, too? Now that I got that off my chest, let me catch my breath.
I got your back, Westchester. No one’s going to make fun of our “wedge.”
The fact is, we’re not 100 percent sure why we call it that. Some say the shape of the sandwich is wedge-like because of the diagonal cut made to the bread or that because, in some cases, a wedge is cut out of the bread to fit more stuff in it. Another popular suburban legend says it came into being in Yonkers in the 1930s, reflecting the thickly accented pronunciation of “sand-wich” by the Italian wife of Landi’s Grocery owner Antonio Landi, who wound up putting on his menu as “wedge.”
How’s that? Satisfied? Good, now go peddle your regional bias elsewhere, Geoff!
In Godin We Trust
Q: What can you tell me about Seth Godin’s Alternative MBA program in Hastings on the Hudson? Is it a real degree?
—Jennifer Amanto, Pleasantville
A: For those who may not know, the Westchester-based iconoclast and all-around big thinker—who has been offering out-of-the-box advice to individuals and businesses for years on how to think, conceive and create—decided to offer what he dubbed his “altMBA.”
The program’s first session attracted 350 applicants for 27 finalist slots. The finalists spent three hours interviewing each other, then voted on who they thought were the most promising of the group; the top nine vote-getters were selected. Those nine then participated in a free-of-charge residential program for six months, held at Godin’s offices in Hastings-on-Hudson.
The candidates read over a hundred books, and Godin lectured between 5 and 20 hours a week. He stated that due to the advanced nature of the students, the books were far less productive than the experience of working one’s own projects and processing them with one’s peers.
Today, the altMBA program is a four-week online course designed by Godin but taught by professional “coaches.” It is capped at 100 participants and is described as “intensive,” focusing on things like learning to be decisive and the ability to take a stand. The program gets rave reviews from its participants.
It is probably important to note that it is not an accredited Masters of Business Administration nor does it claim to be. Critics of Seth Godin often throw terms like “cult” around because of his unique vocabulary and the fervent devotion of his followers. His books on business, marketing, and management are bestsellers, and his blog is one of the most popular on the Internet.