Monday, December 31, 2007


This is the actual TIMES SQUARE NEW YEAR'S EVE BALL that will descend from a pole atop One Times Square tonight, seconds before midnight to welcome 2008. This year is the New Year's Eve Ball's 100th birthday. I took some photos of the ball last November when it was displayed at the ground floor of MACY'S at HEARALD SQUARE. To celebrate it's 100th birthday, this new ball was created and it features a "greener" technology, the use of multicolored energy-efficient light-emitting diodes or LED, and the capability of "color-morphing" as captured in the images above.

On October 4, 2007, the co-organizers of New Year’s Eve in Times Square (Times Square Alliance and Countdown Entertainment) unveiled the new LED Crystal Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball at a press conference at Hudson Scenic Studio in Yonkers, New York. 2008 year marks the 100th birthday of the New Year’s Eve Ball, a universal symbol of celebration and renewal.
The new Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball is more than twice as bright as the old one, with enhanced color capabilities and state-of-the-art LED lighting effects. Waterford Crystal crafted a beautiful new design for the crystal triangles on the Ball. Philips Lighting provided new solid state lighting technology that substantially increased the brightness, energy efficiency, and color capabilities of the Ball. And Focus Lighting developed a spectacular and unique lighting design for the new Ball on its 100th birthday.
“We should all look this spectacular at our 100th birthday party” said Jeff Straus, President of Countdown Entertainment, “The combination of Waterford Crystal and Philips LED technology have created a dazzling new look for this world-wide tradition of celebrating the New Year.”
“Times Square has always been an arena where the latest and greatest cutting-edge technology is unveiled and showcased. It’s also a neighborhood that’s rich in tradition – from Broadway to Tin Pan Alley to Restaurant Row,” said Tim Tompkins, President of the Times Square Alliance, “and the New Year’s Eve Ball, like Times Square, is an exciting blend of technology and tradition. This year, the Ball has been re-envisioned and re-invented, just as Times Square is constantly re-inventing itself. It’s that same spirit of renewal and new beginnings that brings people here from across the globe, in person or in spirit while watching from home, on New Year’s Eve every year.”
WATERFORD CRYSTAL created an exclusive “Let There Be Light” design for the crystal triangles on the new Ball. Designed and crafted by Waterford artisans in Ireland, “Let There Be Light” features a dramatically stylized, radiating sunburst on each of the 672 crystal triangles. Due to the new design and technical innovations, this represents an increase of 168 crystal triangles from last year’s Ball. And, for the first time, the crystal triangles will feature cutting on both sides. The double cutting maximizes the light refraction within the crystal triangles.
“Waterford Crystal is once again extremely proud to join our Times Square partners, Countdown Entertainment and the Times Square Alliance, as an integral part one of the world's most iconic symbols, the Times Square News Year's Eve Ball,” says John Foley, Waterford Crystal Chief Executive Officer. “Our craftsmen and artisans have blended the time-honored traditions that have defined Waterford through the centuries with cutting edge technology to create the magnificent crystal panels that have adorned the Ball since the Millennium. With this year's theme of ‘Let There Be Light,’ we continue to spread light and harmony to the millions who watch the Ball descend at midnight through the art of crystal.”
PHILIPS LIGHTING provided the new solid state lighting technology for the Ball resulting in an astounding increase in brightness, energy efficiency, and color capabilities. The 9,576 Philips Luxeon LEDs replaced the 600 incandescent and halogen bulbs of the previous Ball. The new Ball is more than twice as bright and capable of creating a palette of more than 16 million vibrant colors and billions of patterns. Yet, the entire Times Square Ball will be lit with approximately the same amount of electricity as it takes to power ten toasters or a single oven/range.
"Philips is extremely delighted to once again light the Times Square Ball and to be a part of this year's revolutionary makeover in celebration of the Ball's 100th birthday," said Philips Lighting Company Director of Corporate Communications Susan Bloom. "In keeping with Philips Lighting's mission to deliver innovative and energy-efficient lighting solutions to the world, the globally-recognized Times Square Ball represents an outstanding platform to demonstrate the powerful, high-performing, and highly sustainable qualities of LED technology."
FOCUS LIGHTING created a spectacular and unique lighting design that fully leverages the brilliant facets of the Waterford crystal triangles and Philips solid-state lighting technology. The lighting design skillfully illuminates the beauty of each individual triangle as well as the colorful moving patterns of light radiating from the Ball. In addition, for the first time ever, Focus Lighting designed a second layer of LEDs to showcase the geodesic structure of the Ball.
“Our goal for this year’s re-design of the New Year’s Eve Ball was to create a shining gem in the sky, equally stunning from various distances,” says Focus Lighting principal lighting designer Paul Gregory. “Working with these new lighting methods, combined with the advanced crystal cutting technique, and the flexibility of the e-cue control systems, we created a look that is vibrant and unique. This year the Ball will be brighter and more brilliant then ever before, each crystal gleaming like a diamond in the sky.”
The companies listed below also provided essential contributions to the development of the new Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball:
Dickmann Manufacturing – provided pyramid mirrors
E:Cue Lighting Control – provided lighting control system
Hudson Scenic Studio – structural engineering design and development
Landmark Signs – assembles and operates the Ball
Lapp Group – provided power and control cabling
L.E.D. Effects – integrated LED technology

History of the Times Square New Year's Eve Ball
Revelers began celebrating New Year's Eve in Times Square as early as 1904, but it was in 1907 that the New Year's Eve Ball made its maiden descent from the flagpole atop One Times Square. This original Ball, constructed of iron and wood and adorned with 100 25-watt light bulbs, was 5 feet in diameter and weighed 700 pounds. In 1920, a 400 pound ball made entirely of iron replaced the original.
The Ball has been lowered every year since 1907, with the exceptions of 1942 and 1943, when its use was suspended due to the wartime "dimout" of lights in New York City. The crowds who still gathered in Times Square in those years greeted the New Year with a moment of silence followed by chimes ringing out from One Times Square.

In 1955, the iron ball was replaced with an aluminum ball weighing a mere 150 pounds. This aluminum Ball remained unchanged until the 1980s, when red light bulbs and the addition of a green stem converted the Ball into an apple for the "I Love New York" marketing campaign from 1981 until 1988. After seven years, the traditional Ball with white light bulbs and without the green stem returned to brightly light the sky above Times Square. In 1995, the Ball was upgraded with aluminum skin, rhinestones, strobes, and computer controls, but the aluminum ball was lowered for the last time in 1998.

For Times Square 2000, the millennium celebration at the Crossroads of the World, the New Year's Eve Ball was completely redesigned by Waterford Crystal. The new crystal Ball combined the latest in technology with the most traditional of materials, reminding us of our past as we gazed into the future and the beginning of a new millenium.
About "Time-Balls"
The actual notion of a ball "dropping" to signal the passage of time dates back long before New Year's Eve was ever celebrated in Times Square. The first "time-ball" was installed atop England's Royal Observatory at Greenwich in 1833. This ball would drop at one o'clock every afternoon, allowing the captains of nearby ships to precisely set their chronometers (a vital navigational instrument).
Around 150 public time-balls are believed to have been installed around the world after the success at Greenwich, though few survive and still work. The tradition is carried on today in places like the United States Naval Observatory in Washington, DC, where a time-ball descends from a flagpole at noon each day - and of course, once a year in Times Square, where it marks the stroke of midnight not for a few ships' captains, but for over one billion people watching worldwide.

Sunday, December 30, 2007


On rare occasions, the main entrance of ST. PATRICK'S CATHEDRAL is seen open. This is an image of the scene outside the cathedral earlier this afternoon after mass. 
St. Patrick's Cathedral is the largest decorated Neo-Gothic-style Catholic cathedral in North America. It is the seat of the archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, and a parish church, located at 51st Street and Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, just across the street from Rockefeller Center.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

New KINOKUNIYA Flagship Store in NEW YORK

This is a photo of the holiday window display of the new KINOKUNIYA flagship store taken from the inside. Kinokuniya, the largest bookstore chain in Japan, opened a 24,000 sq.-ft. flagship store last fall in New York City. Kay Ngee Tan Architects designed the bookstore, which occupies three floors and include a café overlooking Bryant Park on the Avenue of Americas between 40th & 41st streets. The new store is Kinokuniya’s largest U.S. outlet (a title previously held by the 13,700 sq.-ft. bookstore inside New York City’s Rockefeller Center that opened in 1981). 
Kinokuniya’s philosophy is that bookstores should function as centers for the promotion of culture and the arts, and not merely as outlets for selling books. “The new store will focus on Japanese arts and culture; Anime; fashion and cooking,” said spokesperson Brent O'Connor. The new store carries books, magazines, comics, DVDs and CDs (in both Japanese and English) as well as stationery, candy and collectibles.
The Kinokuniya bookstore chain is operated by Kinokuniya Company Ltd.

Thursday, December 27, 2007


CONFIGURATIONS (oil on canvas) Francoise Gilot
ARIZONA RED (etching) Francoise Gilot
These are two pieces of recently acquired art work that I truly enjoy and value. The one on top is called CONFIGURATIONS, oil on canvas, and the other is an etching called ARIZONA RED, both created by French artist, FRANCOISE GILOT. Born in Paris in 1921, Françoise Gilot is a highly esteemed international artist who has exhibited her work for more than 50 years in major art institutions in Europe and North America. She divides her time between New York City and Paris. She is regarded as a significant link between the School of Paris of the early 1940s and the contemporary art world. Her vibrant and colorful paintings, drawings, and original prints are part of permanent collections of museums and art institutions as well as private collections throughout Europe and North America.
At 21, Françoise met Spanish painter Pablo Picasso and would ultimately raise both their children, Claude and Paloma. Their relationship which lasted from 1944 through 1953 is the subject of a Merchant-Ivory movie, “Surviving Picasso.” The passionate drama tells the story of Françoise, "the only lover of Picasso (played by Anthony Hopkins) who was strong enough to withstand his ferocious cruelty and move on with her life." Eleven years after their separation Françoise wrote “Life with Picasso,” a book that sold over a million copies in dozens of languages. She also authored other books including “Matisse and Picasso: a Friendship in Art.” In 1955, she married Luc Simon but they separated in 1961. Nine years later, Françoise married renowned scientist and polio vaccine pioneer, Dr. Jonas Salk in Paris who died in 1995. At 86, Françoise continues to paint and express her thoughts on nature, time, symbols and signs.


The day after Christmas, retailers opened earlier than ever and slashed prices with hopes of salvaging a holiday season that is falling short of modest expectations.

Above is a capture of a still Christmasy scene outside the flagship boutique of CARTIER, located at 653 Fifth Avenue at 52nd Street in Manhattan two days after Christmas. The boutique is situated in a private mansion built between 1903 and 1905. In 1917, Pierre Cartier bought the mansion for $100 and a pearl necklace worth a million dollars.

Monday, December 24, 2007


The theme of this year's holiday window display at Barney's New York is "Green Christmas." The eco-friendly holiday window displays, conceptualized by Creative Director Simon Doonan features Rudolph the Recycling Reindeer, faces of Bette Midler, Bono and Al Gore, as well as scenes from the Twelve Green Days of Christmas in the shop fronts. The earth's watercolor portrait as seen through the eyes of New York City school kids are also featured in the display. Sales of designer items by Fendi, Marc Jacob's and Edun will give a donation to environmental charities.

Sunday, December 23, 2007


These are photos of the Christmas decoration at the sunken plaza in front of 1251 Avenue of the Americas (Sixth Avenue). The building itself was constructed from 1967 through 1971 as the second building in the Rockefeller Center Extension across Sixth Avenue. The main occupant of the building is the Exxon Oil Company.

Friday, December 21, 2007

SWEENEY TODD the movie opening at the ZIEGFELD THEATRE

The new movie "SWEENEY TODD: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" opened at the ZIEGFELD THEATRE today. It was a nice moviegoing experience because of the contagious excitement and enthusiasm of audience members (clearly Sondheim fans) who wildly applauded even before the opening credits appear on the screen. Starring JOHNNY DEPP and HELENA BONHAM CARTER, and directed by TIM BURTON, this visually gorgeous but dark and gruesome movie is based on the Stephen Sondheim Broadway musical of the same name. I was very unfamiliar with the Broadway musical, and did not see the last Broadway revival, but I loved the movie and even appreciated Stephen Sondheim's music in this movie.
The Ziegfeld Theatre which opened in 1969, is arguably the last "movie palace" still showing films in Manhattan. The theatre has 1,131 seats with a raised balcony section in the rear. The interior has red carpeting and is decorated with abundant gold trim. The Ziegfeld is often the venue for a movie premiere in Manhattan. The theatre is located at 141 West 54th Street. Theatre Office Number: 212-307-1862. Pricing:General Admission $12.00, Seniors $8.00,Children $8.00. The theatre is not handicap accessible.
Review from the New York Times (A. O. Scott):
Tim Burton makes fantasy movies. Stephen Sondheim writes musicals. It is hard to think of two more optimistic genres of popular art, or of two popular artists who have so systematically subverted that optimism. Mr. Sondheim has always gravitated toward the dissonance lurking in hummable tunes, and has threaded his song-and-dance spectaculars with subtexts of anxiety and alienation. Mr. Burton, for his part, dwells most naturally (if somewhat uneasily) in the realms of the gothic and the grotesque, turning comic books and children’s tales into scary, nightmarish shadow plays.
And so it should not be surprising that “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” Mr. Burton’s film adaptation of Mr. Sondheim’s musical, is as dark and terrifying as any motion picture in recent memory, not excluding the bloody installments in the “Saw” franchise. Indeed, “Sweeney” is as much a horror film as a musical: It is cruel in its effects and radical in its misanthropy, expressing a breathtakingly, rigorously pessimistic view of human nature. It is also something close to a masterpiece, a work of extreme — I am tempted to say evil — genius.
As it was originally performed onstage, with all the songs Mr. Sondheim composed for it, “Sweeney Todd” balanced its inherent grisliness with a whimsical vitality. The basic story is a revenger’s tragedy more Jacobean than Victorian, but Mr. Sondheim nonetheless wrings some grim, boisterous comedy out of both the impulse for vengeance and the bustling spirit of commerce. A barber, wronged by a powerful judge, returns to London and sets up shop, cutting throats as well as hair. The bodies of his victims are turned into savory meat pies by Mrs. Lovett, his energetic partner in business and crime. Cannibalism and mass murder as the basis for a hit show — what a perverse and delicious joke.
It seemed a lot less funny in the recent revival, which starred Michael Cerveris and Patti Lupone in roles originated on Broadway by Len Cariou and Angela Lansbury in 1979. Mr. Burton’s film, in spite of the participation of Sacha Baron Cohen (as a mountebank barber in a skin-tight costume) and Timothy Spall (as a louche bailiff) pretty much casts out frivolity altogether. Mr. Burton’s London is a dark, smoky oil slick of a city. Dante Ferretti’s production design, which owes something to the Victorian city confected for Carol Reed’s “Oliver!,” can make even daylight look sinister. Innocence, represented by a pair of young would-be lovers (Jayne Wisener and Jamie Campbell Bower) has virtually no chance in this place; it is a joke played by fate, something to be corrupted, imprisoned or destroyed.
Mrs. Lovett the pie maker is played by Helena Bonham Carter, a witchy fixture of Mr. Burton’s cinematic universe as well as the mother of his children. If the director has an alter ego, or at least an actor consistently able to embody his ideas on screen, it would have to be Johnny Depp. He was the hurt, misunderstood man-child in “Edward Scissorhands,” the cracked visionary in “Ed Wood” and the cold, creepy candy mogul in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” in each case giving form to an emotional equation that had never quite been seen on film before. As Sweeney, his hair streaked with white and his eyes rimmed in black, he is an avatar of rage.
Mr. Depp’s singing voice is harsh and thin, but amazingly forceful. He brings the unpolished urgency of rock ’n’ roll to an idiom accustomed to more refinement, and in doing so awakens the violence of Mr. Sondheim’s lyrics and melodies. Some of the crowd-pleasing numbers, like “The Ballad of Sweeney Todd,” have been pared away, but their absence only contributes to the diabolical coherence of the film, which moves with a furious momentum toward its sanguinary conclusion.
Like nearly every other horror-film serial killer — the outcast teenager abused by the cool kids; the decent man whose suffering has been ignored or mocked — Sweeney starts out as a sympathetic figure. Once upon a time, he was a happy husband and father, until his lovely wife (Laura Michelle Kelly) caught the eye of a malignant judge (Alan Rickman), who transported the poor barber to Australia. Now, after many years, he has returned to find that his daughter, now a teenager, has become the judge’s ward. Finding his old straight razors — “my friends” — under the floorboards of his former shop, Sweeney sets out to ensnare the judge, a project that requires the deaths of quite a few customers along the way.
“They’ll never be missed,” sings the practical Mrs. Lovett. Sweeney’s view is harsher, almost genocidal. “They all deserve to die,” he says, looking out over the rooftops of the city. And Mr. Burton depicts those deaths ruthlessly. The initial geyser of blood may seem artificially bright, but when the bodies slide head first from the chair down a chute into the cellar, they crash and crumple with sickening literalness. You are watching human beings turned into meat.
It may seem strange that I am praising a work of such unremitting savagery. I confess that I’m a little startled myself, but it’s been a long time since a movie gave me nightmares. And the unsettling power of “Sweeney Todd” comes above all from its bracing refusal of any sentimental consolation, from Mr. Burton’s willingness to push the most dreadful implications of Mr. Sondheim’s story to their blackest conclusions.
“Sweeney Todd” is a fable about a world from which the possibility of justice has vanished, replaced on one hand by vain and arbitrary power, on the other by a righteous fury that quickly spirals into madness. There may be a suggestion of hopefulness near the end, but you don’t see hope on the screen. What you see is as dark as the grave. What you hear — some of the finest stage music of the past 40 years — is equally infernal, except that you might just as well call it heavenly.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


These are some of the images that I captured of the Penny Harvest Field at Rockefeller Center, just a block north of the Rockefeller Christmas Tree. This is an extraordinary installation that holds every penny that students in New York City have collected during the first phase of the PENNY HARVEST. The Penny Harvest is an educational program created by the not-for-profit COMMON CENTS to engage students in Youth Philanthropy – fundraising, grant-making and service – with the goal of developing their generosity and moral character as well as their understanding of democratic participation. These pennies will be later used by students to help their communities. Common Cents, the non-profit sponsor of the program believes that even our youngest citizens can spark extraordinary social change – if we simply give them the support they deserve. More information about Common Cents can be found at the following link:

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


One of my favorite movies this year is THE KITE RUNNER, which I saw last Saturday at the AMC Loews Lincoln Square, 1998 Broadway (68th Street) on the Upper Westside. Based on the best-selling novel by KHALED HOSSEINI, the story spans from the final days of Afghanistan's monarchy to the atrocities of the Taliban reign. It is an epic tale of fathers and sons, of friendship and betrayal, an unlikely friendship develops between Amir, the son of a wealthy Afghan businessman, and Hassan, a servant to Amir and his father. During a kite-flying tournament, an unspeakable event changes the nature of their relationship forever. As an adult haunted by the childhood betrayal, Amir seeks redemption by returning to his war-torn native land to make peace with himself, reconcile his cowardice, and take the opportunity "to be good again." The wonderful cast includes Khalid Abdalla, Homayoun Ershadi, Zekiria Ebrahimi, Ahmad Khan Mahmoodzada, and Shaun Toub
Review from The New York Times (Manohla Dargis):
Much like the best-selling novel on which it’s based, “The Kite Runner” tells the story of an Afghan refugee who, long after arriving in America, sifts through memories of his cosseted childhood, his emotionally remote father, his devoted best friend, the kites they flew and the stories they shared. The back of my paperback copy of this Khaled Hosseini novel is sprinkled with words like “powerful” and “haunting” and “riveting” and “unforgettable.” It’s a good guess that this film will be rolled around in a similarly large helping of lard.
There’s another word on the back of my copy: “genuine.” The portrait of Afghan culture broadly painted by its narrator, a 38-year-old novelist known as Amir (played in the film by the Scottish-born Khalid Abdalla), certainly seems like the real deal, a sense of authenticity underscored by the book’s evocation of the Afghan diaspora in America, its descriptions of traditions and rituals and the numerous italicized words like “Kocheh-Morgha” (“Chicken Bazaar”) and “Shirini-khori” (“ ‘Eating of the Sweets’ ceremony”). That said, it is difficult to believe in the authenticity of any book (and its author) in which a born and bred Afghan narrator asks of the Taliban — as this one does in June 2001 — “Is it as bad as I hear?” David Benioff’s clumsy screenplay doesn’t broadcast its political naïveté as openly, but only because the filmmakers seem to assume that unlike the book’s readers, the movie audience doesn’t care about such matters. Mr. Benioff gestures in the direction of Communists and mullahs, the Soviet invaders and the Taliban insurgents, but none of these players figure into the story in any meaningful fashion. The director Marc Forster, following the script’s lead, scrupulously avoids politics and history — there are no causes or positions, just villains and horrors — and instead offers us a succession of atmospheric, realistic landscapes, colorful sights and smiling boys. And kites. Lots and lots of bobbing, darting, high-flying kites.
Like the recent film version of Ian McEwan’s novel “Atonement,” another story ignited by the destructive behavior of a pubescent child, “The Kite Runner” presents a world informed by a variant of original sin. In both, a child’s damaging words and deeds give way to — and seem to foreshadow and somehow even to incite — the larger violence of war. The two stories register very differently, both on the page and on screen, yet what’s curious is how each presents childhood as an already corrupted state that is redeemed only by adult grace. In these stories war becomes a kind of cleansing agent for the destructive child, who, after enduring hardships, matures into a properly contrite adult (and a fiction writer to boot).
It takes a while for that contrition to surface in “The Kite Runner.” First the adult Amir has to conjure up a leisurely flashback during which his 12-year-old self (Zekiria Ebrahimi) rushes through the dust and the exotica — past the woman in a burka and the severed animal heads — pausing to read, write and fly kites. He worships his gruff father, Baba (Homayoun Ershadi), a businessman who swills alcohol and dismisses the mullahs as “monkeys.” Amir, in turn, is adored by the illiterate servant boy Hassan (Ahmad Khan Mahmoodzada), whose father has worked for Baba his entire life. Amir loves his younger friend in his selfish fashion, but because Baba favors Hassan (if not enough to educate the boy), Amir also betrays him.
Mr. Forster, who previously directed “Monster’s Ball” and “Finding Neverland,” has been soundly defeated by “The Kite Runner.” Despite the film’s far-flung locations (it was shot primarily in China), there is remarkably little of visual interest here; the setups are banal, and the scenes lack tension, which no amount of editing can provide. With the exception of Mr. Ershadi, whom art-house audiences may remember from Abbas Kiarostami’s “Taste of Cherry,” it also lacks credible performances. The two lead child actors, both nonprofessionals, are predictably appealing, but only because they’re children. Unlike Mr. Kiarostami, who has a genius for translating the natural rhythms of nonprofessional performers to the screen, who siphons real life and bottles it, Mr. Forster never makes you believe in these children or their woes.
In both novel and film form, “The Kite Runner” recounts a simple yet shrewd story about that favorite American pastime: self-improvement. Amir’s childhood mistake isn’t a careless juvenile offense; it’s a human stain that must be scrubbed out through self-abnegation, confession and personal transformation. Yet, watching this film, you are left to wonder whom precisely is all this suffering for — is it for Amir? Hassan? Afghanistan? Or do Hassan and the story’s other sad children — especially those hollow-eyed boys and girls glimpsed during the preposterous climax in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan — suffer because it’s possible to package other people’s pain and turn it into a commercial diversion? It’s no surprise that for all its foreign trappings, “The Kite Runner” tells the same old comforting story. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
The Kite Runner” is rated PG-13 (Parents strongly cautioned). There is a discreetly shot if entirely unnecessary scene of a child’s rape and an extended bloody fight involving punches and a slingshot.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

CHRISTMAS TREES IN MANHATTAN: 731 Lexington Avenue/One Beacon Court

Here is another gorgeous Christmas Tree located at 731 Lexington Avenue/One Beacon Court. The building is a mixed-use glass skyscraper development on the old Alexander's Department Store site between 58th and 59th streets and 3rd Avenue to Lexington Avenue.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


Earlier today, we attended this year's concert of one of the oldest and most renowned musical institutions in the world, the VIENNA BOYS' CHOIR at the Stern Auditorium of CARNEGIE HALL. The concert has become a staple on New York's festive calendar along with Radio City's Christmas Spectacular and Handel's Messiah. The concert was conducted by NIKOLAUS MULLER while GERALD WIRTH was artistic director. The programme included traditional sacred music and folk songs from around the world, and a selection of popular Christmas carols like Hark the Herald Angels Sing, The First Nowell, White Christmas, I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus, and Jingle Bell Rock. One of my favorites was ECHO by ORLANDO DI LASSO. The choir ended the concert with their famous rendition of SILENT NIGHT.
From Carnegie Hall and Vienna Boy's Choir websites:
The Vienna Boys' Choir was founded by Imperial decree of Hapsburg Emperor Maximilian I in 1498 to fulfil his wish to have choristers in the Imperial Chapel. Such luminaries as Mozart and Gluck composed music for the Chapel choirboys, Franz Schubert sang in the choir from 1808-1813 and Anton Bruckner became the organist in 1867.
Today, those who wish to join the choir attend a special preparatory school and must pass an exam when they are nine years old. While in the choir, the boys range in age from ten to 14 and number about 24 while on tour. They have made more than 20 Carnegie Hall appearances since 1937 and have performed annual holiday concerts since 1990.
Built with money mostly donated by the Scottish-born industrialist Andrew Carnegie, Carnegie Hall opened in 1891, when a visiting Russian pianist/composer called Peter Ilyich Tchaikovksy was the guest of honour. Originally called Music Hall, it was renamed after Carnegie in 1898 and has hosted the world's top artists and orchestras for over 100 years.
The main hall - seating 2800 -is now called the Isaac Stern Auditorium, and there are two smaller venues: the Judy and Arthur Zankel Hall, seating up to 644 (which reopened in September 2003, after being a theatre, then a cinema for most of the building's history) and the Joan and Sanford L Weill Recital Hall, seating 268.
Until 1962 it was also home to the annual New York Philharmonic Orchestra season (before Avery Fisher Hall in the Lincoln Center opened). Now it hosts a number of series by home-based ensembles such as the American Composers Orchestra, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, as well as an unbelievable host of visiting artists and ensembles.
Carnegie Hall is located at 881 Seventh Avenue at 57th Street.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Youtube posted by Roag3
Last night, we caught a performance of the new musical called YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN which is based on the Oscar-nominated smash hit 1974 film of the same title. It is a wickedly inspired re-imagining of the Mary Shelley classic from the comic genius of Mel Brooks, who also created the Broadway hit, "The Producers." When Frederick Frankenstein, an esteemed New York brain surgeon and professor, inherits a castle and laboratory in Transylvania from his grandfather, deranged genius Victor Von Frankenstein, he faces a dilemma. Does he continue to run from his family's tortured past or does he stay in Transylvania to carry on his grandfather's mad experiments reanimating the dead and, in the process, fall in love with his sexy lab assistant Inga?," state press notes. "Unfolding in the forbidding Castle Frankenstein and the foggy moors of Transylvania Heights, the show's raucous score includes 'The Transylvania Mania,' 'He Vas My Boyfriend' and the unforgettable treatment of Irving Berlin's 'Puttin' On the Ritz.' The performances of the cast members were memorable, especially SUTTON FOSTER, ANDREA MARTIN, MEGAN MULLALY and CHRISTOPHER FITZGERALD. Young Frankenstein plays the Hilton Theatre on 42nd Street.
From the New York Times (Ben Brantley):
No, it is not nearly as good as “The Producers,” Mr. Brooks’s previous Broadway musical. No, it is not as much fun as the 1974 Mel Brooks movie, also called “Young Frankenstein,” on which it is based. No, it does not provide $450 worth of pleasure (that being its record-setting price for “premier seating”).
Well, unless you measure your pleasure in decibels. Even by the blaring standards of Broadway, “Young Frankenstein,” directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman, stands out for its loudness — in its ear-splitting amplification, eye-splitting visual effects and would-be side-splitting jokes. It’s as if the production had been built on the premise that its audiences would be slow on the uptake and hard of hearing, the sort of folks who would say: “That pun flew right by me. Could you repeat it a couple of times, louder?”
There’s no denying that this hopped-up stage version of Mr. Brooks’s movie, about a brilliant American doctor who finds his heart (among other body parts) in Transylvania, looks like it cost every penny of its reported $16 million-plus budget. Much of Robin Wagner’s comic-book gothic set could fit right into that gold standard of family-friendly scariness, the Haunted Mansion at Disney World.
Still, as newly rich New Yorkers learn every day, money can’t buy you flair. It can’t even buy you laughs. “Young Frankenstein” — which features songs by Mr. Brooks and a book by Mr. Brooks and Thomas Meehan, his collaborator on “The Producers” — certainly has a high density of talent. It also surely has the hardest-working supersize ensemble, led by an amiable but overwhelmed Roger Bart, and the largest percentage of gags per scene.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


On exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art are the works of artist MARTIN PURYEAR. I made an image of some of the sculptures including “Ladder for Booker T. Washington,” 1996, ash and maple (top photo). The exhibit runs through January 14, 2008 at MOMA which is located at 11 West 53rd Street, between 5th and 6th Avenues.
Martin Puryear (b. 1941) is an acclaimed American artist. The MOMA exhibit features about 45 pieces of sculpture, following the development of Puryear's artistic career, from his first solo museum show in 1977 to the present day. Puryear began his career in the 1970s alongside other members of the Post-Minimalist generation. He uses wood primarily, and he remains committed to manual skill and traditional building methods. His sculptures are rich with psychological and intellectual references, examining issues of identity, culture, and history.
“I value the referential quality of art, the fact that a work can allude to things or states of being without in any way representing them. The ideas that give rise to a work can be quite diffuse, so I would describe my usual working process as a kind of distillation – trying to make coherence out of things that can seem contradictory. But coherence is not the same as resoution The most interesting art for me retains a flickering quality, where opposed ideas can be held in tense coexistence.” - Martin Puryear, 2007

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is located in the center of the complex of buildings between 47th and 50th Streets and 5th and 7th Avenues. It is illuminated from 5:30 a.m. until 11:30 p.m. daily, except on Christmas and New Year's Eve. On Christmas, the tree is illuminated for 24 hours and on New Year's Eve the lights are turned off at 9:00 p.m. The Christmas tree is an 84-foot-tall Norway Spruce. This year, all the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lights are "green." The light bulbs used are energy-efficient. The tree is adorned with 5 miles of wire and 30,000 multicolored bulbs known as light emitting diodes, or LEDs. Using the new lights is expected to reduce the energy consumption of the holiday display from 3,510 to 1,297 kilowatt hours per day. That daily savings would be equal to the amount of energy used to power a 2,000-square-foot home for a month.
Organizers plan to recycle the tree by using it as lumber for Habitat For Humanity projects in New York, the Gulf Coast, India and Brazil. The tree's topper can sparkle even without any lights: The Swarovski star is adorned with 25,000 crystals. It's almost 10 feet in diameter. The tree used at the Rockefeller Center tends to be one that was ornamentally planted in someone's front or back yard, and not obtained from forests. There is no compensation offered in exchange for the tree, other than the pride of having donated the tree.
Top photo was taken from the 8th Floor of the Saks Fifth Avenue Cafe.

Sunday, December 9, 2007


Former Beatle JOHN LENNON continues to be mourned in Strawberry Fields, a memorial garden area in Central Park, across the street from the Dakota building where Lennon and Yoko Ono lived. Shortly after his death, Yoko Ono donated $1 million for its maintenance. Strawberry Fields has become a gathering place for tributes on Lennon's birthday and on the anniversary of his death. Captured above is the scene on the night of December 8. Young and old alike, fans and admirers of Lennon gathered around the IMAGINE mosaic which is filled with flowers, photos, candles, and offerings.
On December 8, 1980, John Lennon was shot four times in the back by Mark Chapman who had asked the former Beatle for his autograph only hours before he laid in wait and killed him.
Chapman pleaded guilty to gunning down Mr Lennon and is currently serving life in Attica prison near New York. In October 2004 he failed for the third time to secure his release.
He said he had heard voices in his head telling him to kill the world-famous musician. Twenty years after his death millions of fans paid tribute to Mr Lennon in his home town of Liverpool and in New York.
His widow launched a campaign against gun violence in the United States to mark the anniversary.

Saturday, December 8, 2007


MARC GUECO, Ginoong Pilipinas USA 2008 (Pageant Program Photo)

MARC GUECO, Ginoong Pilipinas USA 2008

Event host, KRISTINE JOHNSON (CBS 2 News)

Guest Performer, ALI EWOLDT (Cosette, Les Miserables Broadway Revival)
The Fifth Annual Ginoong Pilipinas USA pageant and fundraiser was held last night, Friday, Dec. 7, 2007 at the Kalayaan Hall of the Philippine Center on 556 Fifth Avenue between 45th and 46th Streets in Manhattan. Previous pageants were held in California. Last night's event was more than a celebration of the Philippine culture and Filipino men in America. Ginoong Pilipinas USA is a service-based organization known for its humanitarian efforts. This year, the organization will donate the event’s proceeds to the widlfire victims of California through the Southern California Wildfire Relief Efforts of the American Red Cross. Two months ago, wildfires threatened thousands of Southern California homes, destroying structures and forcing thousands to evacuate. The lovely CBS 2 News anchor Kristine Johnson hosted the program. Broadway star Ali Ewoldt, who played “Cosette” in the Broadway revival of Les Miserables was the evening's delightful guest performer. During the program, Johnson and Ewoldt who are both half-Filipino, indicated their interest in reconnecting with their roots.
MARC GUECO, the tall and handsome 27 year-old model from Los Angeles emerged as the winner besting other finalists that included Francis Aquino (Hollywood), Paul Askedall (New York), Ryan Enriquez (New Jersey), Bernabe Fernandez (San Diego), Brian Fernando (San Francisco), Marlon Flores (New York), Amando Ibanez (San Francisco), Kapono Kobylanski (Honolulu), Moses Mata (Washington, DC), Jason Regis (Florida), John Sandiego (Connecticut), John San Juan (New York), Michael Turner (New York) and Roger Wingfield (Michigan). Mr. Gueco, who believes that respecting others marks a Filipino gentleman, received $1,000 cash, in addition to the trophy and sash and the honor to represent the country to the annual Mr. International event in Asia. Previous winners have participated in international competitions and earned accolades. Ginoong Pilipinas-USA 2006 winner CHRIS FRIEL bested 30 other Asian-Americans in the Mr. Asia-USA 2007 pageant.

Friday, December 7, 2007


A capture of the Lincoln Center Christmas Tree at night. The tree is a Colorado Blue Spruce, around 50 feet. The Colorado Blue Spruce holds its needles more than the other spruces, providing a beautiful Christmas tree look.
From the Lincoln Center website:
Lincoln Center is the world’s leading performing arts center. Located on 16.3 acres in New York City, the Lincoln Center complex is comprised of 
12 Resident Organizations, and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc. is one of those 12. The 11 other organizations are The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, The Film Society of Lincoln Center, 
Jazz at Lincoln Center, The Juilliard School, Lincoln Center Theater, 
The Metropolitan Opera, New York City Ballet, New York City Opera, 
New York Philharmonic, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, and the School of American Ballet. Each organization has its own administration and its own board of directors. Together, these twelve institutions present thousands of performances, educational programs, tours and other events each year in 22 separate performance venues on the Lincoln Center campus.
Since Lincoln Center first opened its doors, it has been a major contributor to New York City’s cultural and intellectual life, with an internationally recognized dedication to artistic excellence.
Perhaps less apparent is the extent to which Lincoln Center serves as a dynamic economic engine for the region, hosting some five million visitors annually and transforming the Upper West Side into an exciting neighborhood that is now one of New York’s most desirable places in which to live and work.

Thursday, December 6, 2007


These are the pretty holiday lights at the TIME WARNER CENTER with a view of Columbus Circle as backdrop.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


On display at the Time Warner Center from December 3 to December 29 is the ILLY CUP COLLECTION CHANDELIER. It is made of limited edition coffee cups in collaboration with some of the top names in the arts from 1992 to 2005. The work features approximately 330 cups designed by Julian Schnabel, James Rosenquist, Robert Rauschenberg, David Byrne, Francis Ford Coppola and others. The spiral chandelier is valued at $60,000 and one of two in existence. One is in illy caffè's home town of Trieste, Italy. The other will be offered for auction at illy's Annual Cup of Kindness event to be held at Per Se on December 4, 2007, hosted by Martha Stewart and Andrea Illy, with co-hosts James Rosenquist and Thomas Keller. The evening's auction benefits Share our Strength. Tickets to this event are $1500, and all proceeds raised will be used for schools in Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


Last Sunday, the first snowfall of the season in the Northeast blanketed the city with one to two inches of the white stuff. I went to Central Park that morning and took photos at the spots that I usually visit.

Sunday, December 2, 2007


These are snapshots of the breath-taking Kaleidoscope Light Show at Grand Central Terminal's main concourse which I took on December 1. The walls of the Main Concourse of the train station are transformed with bursts of colored lights and sound into a popular holiday spectacle. The choreographed audiovisual shows run every half hour from 11 AM through 9 PM daily until January 1st.