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Stars and the City: Matthew Modine’s New York

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|by Jeryl Brunner |

A prolific and gifted actor, Matthew Modine recently earned rave reviews as the terrifying Dr. Brenner in the hit Netflix series 'Stranger Things.' He also stars in the upcoming films '47 Meters Down,’ 'Hippopotamus' and 'Army of One' with Nicholas Cage

I came to New York City without any financial support from my family. Which meant I was pretty much broke all the time. I was dating a young woman who was gainfully employed, which meant she had money. I wanted to take her to see a movie and get maybe a slice of pizza, but as I said, I was broke. The deli under my apartment had a sale on lemons which reminded me of the old axiom. So, I made lemonade.

Matthew Modine

Matthew Modine

It was August and very hot. I set up my stand on Lexington and 42nd street hoping to catch the commuters on their way to Grand Central and the suburbs beyond. Business was good. I was halfway through the five-gallon jug I’d mixed up when a guy on an orange beach cruiser jumped the curb, threw down the bicycle and ran.

I looked up Lexington Avenue, expecting to see someone pursuing him but there was no one. The bike lay on the sidewalk and its rider was nowhere in sight. I stood the bicycle up beside my stand and made a decision that if the rider didn’t return by the time I’d finished selling the remains of my lemonade, then the bicycle could be adopted by me. He never returned and the orange beach cruiser became my mode of transportation for almost two dozen years.

In many ways, I feel that bicycle helped me to start my acting career. It allowed me to quickly get to auditions, kept me fit and saved me money on subway tokens. Oh, and the lemonade I sold provided me with enough money to take that young lady I was seeing to a movie, popcorn and a couple slices after the show. I think she was impressed with my entrepreneurial skills because she married me.

What do you love about New York City? 

1. I love that you don’t need a car to enjoy the many aspects of the city. I often ride my bike to Yankee Stadium. I can comfortably walk to Madison Square Garden for Knicks and Ranger games.

2. If I want to go to the theater, it’s a short subway ride to the best shows in the country.

3. I love randomly bumping into friends on the bike paths or walking down the streets. While it’s a very big city with millions of people, it is, at the same time, a rather small community of like-minded, ambitious people.

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