Sunday, November 30, 2008

The SHARP Aquos Experience: LCD TV Christmas Tree in GRAND CENTRAL

SHARP displays a giant Christmas tree that is covered with AQUOS LCD TVs in GRAND CENTRAL TERMINAL near Vanderbilt Hall. The tree has 43 TVs starting from very large 52″ units and progressively getting smaller as you go up with 19″ units at the top. All of the 43 AQUOS LCD TVs are connected and show a coordinated video show: waterfall, snowfall, flowers, etc. The video show was a creation of TSUYOSHI TAKASHIRO, a Japanese video artist. This display is SHARP’s way of making people aware of THE HOPE PROGRAM, a non-profit organization that provides job training and career counseling to those who are less fortunate and help them to get out of poverty. People can sign up at LCD kiosks nearby for a chance to win one of the AQUOS LCD TVs on the Christmas tree. One registration equals one dollar to The Hope Program’s Green Collar Project, which trains people to work in environmental jobs such as solar panel installation. Sharp will donate a minimum of US$50,000 and up to $100,000. This year, SHARP sponsors the Grand Central Kaleidoscope Light Show which will debut on December 1.
I made these images without a tripod yesterday near the Oyster Bar below the passageway where the Tree is installed. Tripod photography is not permitted inside Grand Central without a permit.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


Gerry Garcia and Dolphy
Gerry Garcia with one of his paintings on exhibit

Last night I attended the art exhibit opening of Filipino artist GERRY GARCIA at the PHILIPPINE CENTER on Fifth Avenue. The beloved Philippine movie actor dubbed the "King of Comedy" was on hand for the ribbon cutting. The exhibit called ICONS OF FAITH is presented by GK777 and ANCOP Foundation, and features Gerry Garcia’s iconic and visceral paintings, etchings and animation art to benefit GAWAD KALINGA. Also in attendance was Dolphy's son, ERIC QUIZON. The Philippine Center is located at 556 Fifth Avenue between 46th and 47th Streets in Manhattan. I also made images of some of the artworks by Gerry Garcia on exhibit at the Philippine Center.

Dolphy was born Rodolfo Vera Quizon on July 25, 1928 in Pampanga and grew up in Tondo, Manila. At 80, Dolphy's career has spanned for more than five decades. He has made countless films, mostly comedy. In 2001, Dolphy and his sons Eric and Jeffrey Quizon all won the Prix de la Meilleure Interpretation (the equivalent of a Best Actress Award) in Brussels, Belgium for playing Walterina Markova in the movie Markova: Comfort Gay.

Gerry Garcia is not only a painter but also pioneering artist who single handedly created the Filipino animation industry. It was him, according to Filipino animators, who made Filipino animation possible. In the 80’s the first ever Philippine- made cartoon for television was ‘Panday,’ a creation of Gerry Garcia. In 1997, Garcia cemented his legacy as he made the first ever-Filipino full-length animated feature film– ‘Adarna.’
From Gawad Kalinga website:
Gawad Kalinga translated in English means to “to give care”, and it is an alternative solution to the blatant problem of poverty not just in the Philippines but in the world. GK’s vision for the Philippines is a slum-free, squatter-free nation through a simple strategy of providing land for the landless, homes for the homeless, food for the hungry and as a result providing dignity and peace for every Filipino.
What started in 1995 as a daring initiative by Couples for Christ to rehabilitate juvenile gang members and help out-of-school youth in Bagong Silang, Caloocan City, then the biggest squatters’ relocation area in the Philippines, has now evolved into a movement for nation-building. Together with its partners, Gawad Kalinga is now in the process of transforming poverty stricken areas with the goal of building 700,000 homes in 7,000 in 7 years (2003-2010). To date Gawad Kalinga is in over 900 communities all over the Philippines and in other developing countries. (establish link to GK ABROAD, write-ups on GK Communities outside the Philippines)
Gawad Kalinga is more than about building houses for the poorest of the poor. Providing a decent home is just the beginning of the transformation of the people and the community.

Friday, November 28, 2008


Bloomingdales at Third Avenue between 59th and 60th Streets

Shoppers at Saks Fifth Avenue

From wikipedia:
Black Friday is the Friday after Thanksgiving in the United States, where it is the beginning of the traditional Christmas shopping season. Because Thanksgiving falls on the fourth Thursday in November in the United States, Black Friday occurs between the 23rd and the 29th of November.
Black Friday is not an official holiday, but many employees have the day off, which increases the number of potential shoppers. Retailers often decorate for the Christmas season weeks beforehand. Many retailers open very early (typically 5 am or even earlier) and offer doorbuster deals and loss leaders to draw people to their stores. Although Black Friday, as the first shopping day after Thanksgiving, has served as the unofficial beginning of the Christmas season at least since the start of the modern Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1924, the term "Black Friday" has been traced back only to the 1960s.
The term "Black Friday" originated in Philadelphia in reference to the heavy traffic on that day. (see Origin of the name below) More recently, merchants and the media have used it instead to refer to the beginning of the period in which retailers are in the black (i.e., turning a profit).
The news media frequently refer to Black Friday as the busiest retail shopping day of the year, but this is not always accurate. While it has been one of the busiest days in terms of customer traffic, in terms of actual sales volume, from 1993 through 2001 Black Friday was usually the fifth to tenth busiest day. In 2002 and 2004, however, Black Friday ranked second place, and in 2003 and 2005, Black Friday actually did reach first place. The busiest retail shopping day of the year in the United States (in terms of both sales and customer traffic) usually has been the Saturday before Christmas.
In many cities it is not uncommon to see shoppers lined up hours before stores with big sales open. Once inside, the stores shoppers often rush and grab, as many stores have only a few of the big draw items. Often many fatalities may occur in the process. In 2008, a worker at a Wal-Mart on Long Island, New York was apparently trampled to death by shoppers just minutes after the store's opening at 5:00 am; a pregnant mother was hospitalized and claimed miscarriage from injuries in the same human "stampede". There even one case in Palm Springs, Calfornia in which two people shot each other at a Toys R Us to obtain an item.
Electronics and popular toys are often the most sought-after items and may be sharply discounted. Because of the shoulder-to-shoulder crowds, many choose to stay home and avoid the hectic shopping experience. The local media often will cover the event, mentioning how early the shoppers began lining up at various stores and providing video of the shoppers standing in line and later leaving with their purchased items. Traditionally Black Friday sales were intended for those shopping for Christmas gifts. For some particularly popular items, some people shop at these sales in order to get deep discounts on items they can then resell, typically online.

BARRY MANILOW sings the 80's hits on the TODAY SHOW

Earlier this morning, I made these images from the TODAY SHOW concert series at Rockefeller Plaza outside the NBC studio featuring BARRY MANILOW who sang some pop songs from the '80s. Barry Manilow (born June 17, 1943) is an American singer-songwriter, musician, arranger, producer and conductor, best known for such recordings as "I Write the Songs, Mandy, Weekend in New England and Copacabana." This morning's TODAY SHOW program was hosted by DAVID GREGORY, AMY ROBACH and PETER ALEXANDER.
From Manilow's official website:
"Among the few things one can count on in life: the taste of McDonald's cheeseburgers, "I Love Lucy" reruns are still funny—and Barry Manilow never wearing out his welcome at the top of the charts", Billboard Magazine.
With worldwide sales of more than 75 million records, Barry Manilow’s success is a benchmark in popular music. His concerts and night-club performances sell out instantly. He is ranked as the top Adult Contemporary chart artist of all time, according to R&R (Radio&Records) and Billboard magazines. Rolling Stone crowned him “a giant among entertainers… the showman of our generation,” and Frank Sinatra summed up Manilow best when Ol’ Blue Eyes told the British press, “He’s next.”
Manilow calls Las Vegas his home away from home where he performs to sell-out crowds at the Las Vegas Hilton, which he has done for three years now. He opened in 2005 with huge success with Manilow: Music and Passion and recently, changed things up and has taken the show to next level. ULTIMATE MANILOW: The Hits opened in September of 2008 to rave reviews, calling it ‘the perfect mix of Manilow’s hits’ ( where Manilow opens up his expansive catalog of hits and expertly takes us on a journey that lets us know that ‘This One’s for You.’
Manilow has given the gift of collections in the best-selling series of tributes to popular music. RIAA platinum The Greatest Songs Of The Fifties released January 31, 2006, which incidentally became his first #1 debut on the Billboard 200 album chart and first #1 album since the 1977 triple-platinum double-LP Barry Manilow/Live; RIAA platinum The Greatest Songs Of The Sixties released October 31, 2006, entering the chart at #2 and was the all-time highest first sales week debut chart entry of Manilow’s career. With those two albums, Manilow became the first artist since 1981 to have two albums in the top two positions in one calendar year on the Billboard chart. Next came The Greatest Songs Of The Seventies, released September 18, 2007, entering the Billboard charts at #4, making The Greatest Songs of the Seventies Manilow’s 33rd charting album, his 11th Top 10 and his 10th Top 10 debut and the only artist to have three Top four debuts on the Billboard 200 chart in two years.
Recently, Manilow's mellow music is now the cornerstone of a bizarre but apparently effective new plan of justice masterminded by Colorado judge Paul Sacco. Judge Sacco is punishing people who land in court for noise violations (blasting their stereos, rehearsing with bands, hosting raging parties) by sentencing then to an hour-long, high-volume Barry Manilow listening session. For most violators who wind up in Sacco's courtroom, it's a cruel and unusual punishment indeed. And just in case any of the offenders emerge from this experience with a new appreciation for Manilow, it seems law officials take surveys after each punishing session. That way, if any of the lawbreakers actually like a particular Barry song, that song is removed from the court-ordered playlist.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Giving Thanks...for HOPE

Youtube from WatchMovieTrailers2
On this Thanksgiving Day, I saw a wonderful GUS VAN SANT movie called MILK starring SEAN PENN as the gay activist Harvey Milk.
"There is hope for a better world, there is hope for a better tomorrow. Without hope, not only gays, but those blacks, and the Asians, the diasabled, the seniors...the us's, without hope, the us's give up. I know that you cannot live on hope alone, but without it, life is not worth living. And you, and you and you... gotta give them hope." - Harvey Milk

Review from the New York Times (A. O. Scott):
One of the first scenes in “Milk” is of a pick-up in a New York subway station. It’s 1970, and an insurance executive in a suit and tie catches sight of a beautiful, scruffy younger man — the phrase “angel-headed hipster” comes to mind — and banters with him on the stairs. The mood of the moment, which ends up with the two men eating birthday cake in bed, is casual and sexy, and its flirtatious playfulness is somewhat disarming, given our expectation of a serious and important movie grounded in historical events. “Milk,” directed by Gus Van Sant from a script by Dustin Lance Black, is certainly such a film, but it manages to evade many of the traps and compromises of the period biopic with a grace and tenacity worthy of its title character.

That would be Harvey Milk (played by Sean Penn), a neighborhood activist elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977 and murdered, along with the city’s mayor, George Moscone (Victor Garber), by a former supervisor named Dan White (Josh Brolin) the next year. Notwithstanding the modesty of his office and the tragic foreshortening of his tenure, Milk, among the first openly gay elected officials in the country, had a profound impact on national politics, and his rich afterlife in American culture has affirmed his status as pioneer and martyr. His brief career has inspired an opera by Stewart Wallace, an excellent documentary film (“The Times of Harvey Milk,” by Rob Epstein, from 1984) and now “Milk,” which is the best live-action mainstream American movie that I have seen this year. This is not faint praise, by the way, even though 2008 has been a middling year for Hollywood. “Milk” is accessible and instructive, an astute chronicle of big-city politics and the portrait of a warrior whose passion was equaled by his generosity and good humor. Mr. Penn, an actor of unmatched emotional intensity and physical discipline, outdoes himself here, playing a character different from any he has portrayed before.

This is less a matter of sexuality — there is no longer much novelty in a straight actor’s “playing gay” — than of temperament. Unlike, say, Jimmy Markum, Mr. Penn’s brooding ex-convict in Clint Eastwood’s “Mystic River,” Harvey Milk is an extrovert and an ironist, a man whose expansive, sometimes sloppy self-presentation camouflages an incisive mind and a ferociously stubborn will. All of this Mr. Penn captures effortlessly through voice and gesture, but what is most arresting is the sense he conveys of Milk’s fundamental kindness, a personal virtue that also functions as a political principle.

Which is not to say that “Milk” is an easy, sunny, feel-good movie, or that its hero is a shiny liberal saint. There is righteous anger in this movie, and also an arresting, moody lyricism. Mr. Van Sant has frequently practiced a kind of detached romanticism, letting his stories unfold matter-of-factly while infusing them with touches of melancholy beauty. (He is helped here by Danny Elfman’s elegant score and by the expressive cinematography of Harris Savides, whose touch when it comes to framing and focus could more aptly be called a caress.)

In the years since the earnest and commercial “Finding Forrester” (2000), Mr. Van Sant has devoted himself to smaller-scale projects, some of them (like the Palme d’Or-winning provocation “Elephant”) employing nonprofessional actors, and none of them much concerned with soliciting the approval of the mass audience. “Gerry,” “Elephant,” “Last Days” and “Paranoid Park” are linked by a spirit of formal exploration — elements of Mr. Van Sant’s experimental style include long tracking shots; oblique, fractured narratives; and a way of composing scenes that emphasizes visual and aural texture over conventional dramatic exposition — and also by a preoccupation with death.

Like “Elephant” (suggested by the Columbine High shootings) and “Last Days” (by the suicide of Kurt Cobain), “Milk” is the chronicle of a death foretold. Before that subway station encounter, we have already seen real-life news video of the aftermath of Milk’s assassination, as well as grainy photographs of gay men being rounded up by the police. These images don’t spoil the intimacy between Harvey the buttoned-up businessman and Scott Smith (James Franco), the hippie who becomes his live-in lover and first campaign manager. Rather, the constant risk of harassment, humiliation and violence is the defining context of that intimacy.

And his refusal to accept this as a fact of life, his insistence on being who he is without secrecy or shame, is what turns Milk from a bohemian camera store owner (after his flight from New York and the insurance business) into a political leader.

“My name is Harvey Milk, and I want to recruit you.” That was an opening line that the real Milk often used in his speeches to break the tension with straight audiences, but the film shows him deploying it with mostly gay crowds as well, with a slightly different inflection. He wants to recruit them into the politics of democracy, to persuade them that the stigma and discrimination they are used to enduring quietly and even guiltily can be addressed by voting, by demonstrating, by claiming the share of power that is every citizen’s birthright and responsibility.

The strength of Mr. Black’s script is that it grasps both the radicalism of Milk’s political ambition and the pragmatism of his methods. “Milk” understands that modern politics thrive at the messy, sometimes glorious intersection of grubby interests and noble ideals. Shortly after moving with Scott from New York to the Castro section of San Francisco, Milk begins organizing the gay residents of that neighborhood, seeking out allies among businessmen, labor unions and other groups.

The city’s gay elite, discomfited by his confrontational tactics, keeps Milk at a distance, leaving him to build a movement from the ground up with the help of a young rabble-rouser and ex-hustler named Cleve Jones (Emile Hirsch).

For more than two lively, eventful hours, “Milk” conforms to many of the conventions of biographical filmmaking, if not always to the precise details of the hero’s biography. Milk’s inexhaustible political commitment takes its toll on his relationships, first with Scott and then with Jack Lira, an impulsive, unstable young man played by Diego Luna with an operatic verve that stops just short of camp.

Meanwhile, local San Francisco issues are overshadowed by a statewide anti-gay-rights referendum and the national crusade, led by the orange-juice spokesmodel Anita Bryant, to repeal municipal antidiscrimination laws. The culture war is unfolding, and Milk is in the middle of it. (And so, 30 years later, in the wake of Proposition 8, is “Milk.”)

“Milk” is a fascinating, multi-layered history lesson. In its scale and visual variety it feels almost like a calmed-down Oliver Stone movie, stripped of hyperbole and Oedipal melodrama. But it is also a film that like Mr. Van Sant’s other recent work — and also, curiously, like David Fincher’s “Zodiac,” another San Francisco-based tale of the 1970s — respects the limits of psychological and sociological explanation.

Dan White, Milk’s erstwhile colleague and eventual assassin, haunts the edges of the movie, representing both the banality and the enigma of evil. Mr. Brolin makes him seem at once pitiable and scary without making him look like a monster or a clown. Motives for White’s crime are suggested in the film, but too neat an accounting of them would distort the awful truth of the story and undermine the power of the movie.

That power lies in its uncanny balancing of nuance and scale, its ability to be about nearly everything — love, death, politics, sex, modernity — without losing sight of the intimate particulars of its story. Harvey Milk was an intriguing, inspiring figure. “Milk” is a marvel.

“Milk” is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian). It has some profanity, brief violence and a few discreet sex scenes.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


On view at the WHITNEY MUSEUM are the works of ALEXANDER CALDER. Among the displayed works of art, I found Calder's wire portraits most fascinating. The exhibit runs through February 15, 2009. The Whitney Museum is located at 945 Madison Avenue (Madison Avenue and 75th Street).
From the official website:
"For decades [Calder's] Circus, lent by the artist in 1970 to the Whitney Museum of American Art, has set flight to the imaginations of visiting children and adults. Now the museum is celebrating its genesis in "Alexander Calder: The Paris Years, 1926-1933," an exhibition opening on Thursday that brings the young Calder and the giddy ferment of his artistic circle to life." 
--The New York Times, October 12, 2008

When Alexander "Sandy" Calder (1898–1976), arrived in Paris in 1926, he aspired to be a painter; when he left in 1933, he had evolved into the artist we know today: an international figure and defining force in twentieth-century sculpture. In these seven years Calder's fluid, animating drawn line transformed from two dimensions to three, from ink and paint to wire, and his radical innovations included openform wire caricature portraits, a bestiary of wire animals, his beloved and critically important miniature Circus (1926–31), abstract and figurative sculptures, and his paradigm-shifting "mobiles."

The Whitney has the largest body of work by Alexander Calder in any museum and is proud to be the exclusive American venue for this landmark exhibition, co-organized with the Centre Pompidou.

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Burst of Color

The vibrant colors of tissue paper enhances these tulips at a flower shop on the Upper Westside. Beautiful flowers like these tulips certainly brighten even a cold and gloomy autumn day. Image was taken last November 16 at a flower shop on Amsterdam Avenue between 73rd and 74th Streets.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

@ the stagedoor: JOHN LEGUIZAMO and HALEY JOEL OSMENT after the final performance of AMERICAN BUFFALO

John Leguizamo
John Leguizamo
Haley Joel Osment
Haley Joel Osment

Earlier today, I took photos at the stagedoor of the BELASCO THEATRE where the revival of David Mamet's play AMERICAN BUFFALO played its final performance, a week after it opened. The downward spiraling state of the national economy has become evident in the theatre industry recently. More shows have announced closure, some of which are premature including "American Buffalo" which starred JOHN LEGUIZAMO, CEDRIC THE ENTERTAINER and "Sixth Sense" Oscar nominee HALEY JOEL OSMENT. The Chicago-set tale was directed by ROBERT FALLS.
American Buffalo, according to press notes, "follows three small-time crooks who wax philosophically about society while conspiring to steal a rare and valuable coin from a neighborhood collector. Volcanic and motor mouthed Teach (Leguizamo) schemes and spars with fatherly, street-smart junk shop owner Donny (Cedric the Entertainer) enlisting Bobby (Osment), a slow-witted and desperate young delinquent, to carry out their misbegotten robbery."
The creative team also includes set and costumer designer Santo Loquasto, lighting designer Brian MacDevitt, fight director Rick Sordelet, technical supervisor Larry Morley and production stage manager Robert Bennett.
David Mamet's 1976 Obie Award-winning play, American Buffalo, originally opened at Chicago's Goodman Theatre. The play established Mamet's reputation when it ran on Broadway in 1977 with a cast that featured Robert Duvall, John Savage and Kenneth MacMillan. It was revived by Al Pacino at the Booth Theatre in 1983. A 2000 Off-Broadway revival at Atlantic Theater Company starred William H. Macy as Teach. A 1996 film starred Dustin Hoffman and Dennis Franz.
A founder of the Atlantic Theater Company, David Mamet's principal works include The Duck Variations, Sexual Perversity in Chicago, American Buffalo, Glengarry Glen Ross (Pulitzer Prize), Boston Marriage, Edmond, Oleanna, Speed-the-Plow and The Cryptogram (Obie Award). He recently adapted The Voysey Inheritance for the Atlantic and was represented on Broadway last season with the political comedy November. A Broadway revival of Mamet's Speed-the-Plow, which co-stars Jeremy Piven, Raúl Esparza and Elisabeth Moss, recently opened at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre.
Falls is the artistic director of the Goodman Theatre. His Broadway directorial credits include The Speed of Darkness, The Rose Tattoo, The Night of the Iguana, The Young Man from Atlanta, Death of a Salesman, Aida, Long Day's Journey Into Night, Shining City and Talk Radio. He won a 1999 Tony Award for his direction of the Salesman revival.
Leguizamo's one-man shows include Mambo Mouth, the Tony-nominated Sexaholix (later taped for HBO; Emmy Award) and Freak: A Semi Demi Quasi Pseudo Autobiography, which also garnered the actor a Tony nomination. Also a film star, Leguizamo appeared as Toulouse Lautrec in Baz Luhrmann's "Moulin Rouge"; in "To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar" in drag as Miss Chi-Chi Rodriguez; and in Luhrmann's "Romeo + Juliet" as a Virgin Mary gun-toting Tybalt. His biggest role came in the 1999 Spike Lee film "The Summer of Sam." Leguizamo also starred in the HBO drama "Undefeated," which he also directed, and was seen in the independent film "Sueno."
Cedric the Entertainer (Missouri-born Cedric Kyles) is an actor-comedian whose film credits include "The Original Kings of Comedy," "Be Cool," "Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins," "The Honeymooners," "Madagascar," "Ice Age," "Man of the House," "Barbershop" and "Barbershop 2," among others.
Haley Joel Osment, who was Academy Award-nominated for his performance in "The Sixth Sense," is making his Broadway debut in American Buffalo. Osment has also been seen on screen in "A.I.," "Forrest Gump" and "Secondhand Lions."

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Last Sunday, we visited the METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART to check out the new exhibit called ART AND LOVE IN RENAISSANCE ITALY. This fascinating exhibit will run through February 16, 2009.
From the Met's official website: 
This exhibition explores the various exceptional objects created to celebrate love and marriage in the Italian Renaissance. The approximately 150 objects, which date from about 1400 to the mid-16th century, range from exquisite examples of maiolica and jewelry given as gifts to the couple, to marriage portraits and paintings that extol sensual love and fecundity, such as the Metropolitan’s Venus and Cupid by the great Venetian artist Lorenzo Lotto. The exhibition also includes some of the rarest and most significant pieces of Renaissance glassware, cassone panels, birth trays, and drawings and prints of amorous subjects.

Friday, November 21, 2008


PATTI LUPONE's name in lights at the St. James Theater on 44th Street
Last night, we attended a performance of the new revival of GYPSY starring the legendary PATTI LUPONE as Mama Rose in GYPSY. Ms. Lupone won a Tony Award for Best Performance by a leading actress in a musical this year. She was marvelous! For some reason I liked this production much better than the last revival with Bernadette Peters. reports that Gypsy will end its run at the St. James Theatre March 1, 2009, at the conclusion of LuPone's original contract.
Directed by the musical's librettist, Arthur Laurents, Gypsy will have played 388 performances and 27 previews when it closes. Following an acclaimed run at City Center, Gypsy began previews on Broadway March 3, 2008, with an official opening March 27, 2008. In a statement lead producer Roger Berlind said, "I know I speak on behalf of my partners when I say that this production has been one of the most gratifying endeavors of our professional careers. Legendary director Arthur Laurents assembled a superb company lead by the incomparable Patti LuPone. And, while we wish Gypsy could entertain us all much longer, it has become clear to us that there is no way to replace the irreplaceable." A consummate show-biz musical suggested by the memoirs of stripper Gypsy Rose Lee. She was once just plain Louise, the awkward daughter of an unstoppably ambitious stage mother. When her pretty sister runs away from the family's minor vaudeville act, Louise tries to fulfill her mother's dreams. But it's not until trouping with Mama dwindles to appearing in burlesque, that Louise finally finds pleasure in the spotlight. The vibrant score includes “Some People,” “Let Me Entertain You,” “Together,” “Everything's Coming Up Roses” and “Rose's Turn.”

Review from the New York Times (Ben Brantley):
Watch out, New York. Patti LuPone has found her focus. And when Ms. LuPone is truly focused, she’s a laser, she incinerates. Especially when she’s playing someone as dangerously obsessed as Momma Rose in the wallop-packing revival of the musical “Gypsy,” which opened on Thursday night at the St. James Theater.
Watching that balance shift is a source of wonder, amusement and even pity and terror. If in the Encores! version of “Gypsy,” Ms. LuPone seemed to be trying on and discarding different aspects of Rose as if they were party hats, she has now settled on a single, highly disciplined interpretation that combines explosively contradictory elements into a single, deceptively ordinary-looking package.
It’s as if the new wig she wears here — a ’30s-style mop of recalcitrant curls that is a vast improvement on her blunt bowl cut of last summer — had forced her to internalize her many ideas about what makes Rose run. And while Rose may be a dauntingly single-minded creature, Ms. LuPone now plays her less on one note than any actress I’ve seen.
This Rose begins as a busy, energetic, excited woman, and you can’t help being infected by her liveliness. You understand why Herbie would be smitten with her, and for once, his description of her as looking “like a pioneer woman without a frontier” fits perfectly. But every so often a darker, creepier willpower erupts, as involuntary as a hiccup.
In Rose’s two great curtain numbers, “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” and “Rose’s Turn,” the darkness takes over so completely that you feel that you’re watching a woman who has been peeled down to her unadorned id. In “Rose’s Turn,” in particular, Ms. LuPone takes you on a guided tour of all Rose’s inner demons, from sexual succubus to shivering infant. (Be warned: they will live in your head for a while.)
A great Momma Rose is usually enough for a thoroughly compelling “Gypsy.” But this one has so much more. Mr. Laurents and his cast have applied the same careful analysis to all the major characters. As a result we become newly sensitized to “Gypsy” as a sad story of colliding desires, of people within an extended family vainly longing for love, for security, for recognition from one another. And this production makes us painfully aware of the toll exacted by repeatedly missed connections.
I have never, for example, seen a Herbie as palpably in love or in pain as the one the excellent Mr. Gaines provides.
When Ms. LuPone delivers “Rose’s Turn,” she’s building a bridge for an audience to walk right into one woman’s nervous breakdown. There is no separation at all between song and character, which is what happens in those uncommon moments when musicals reach upward to achieve their ideal reasons to be. This “Gypsy” spends much of its time in such intoxicating air.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Autumnal Ginkgo biloba

Some streets in Manhattan are lined by different kinds of trees such as Ginkgo biloba. These are images of the ginkgo leaves which turn bright yellow in the Fall, taken on the Upper Westside.
From Wikipedia:
Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba; in Chinese 銀杏, pinyin romanization, yín xìng), frequently misspelled as "Gingko", and also known as the Maidenhair Tree after Adiantum, is a unique species of tree with no close living relatives. The ginkgo is classified in its own division, the Ginkgophyta, comprising the single class Ginkgoopsida, order Ginkgoales, family Ginkgoaceae, genus Ginkgo and is the only extant species within this group. During autumn, the leaves turn a bright yellow, then fall, sometimes within a short space of time (1–15 days). A 2004 conference paper summarizes how various trials indicate that Ginkgo shows promise in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, though a 2008 study found it ineffective at treating dementia.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

Once in a while I see a movie that is so powerful and memorable. This movie that I saw at the AMC Theaters on 68th Street and Broadway is one of them. leaves Set during World War II, a story seen through the innocent eyes of Bruno, the eight-year-old son of the commandant at a concentration camp, whose forbidden friendship with a Jewish boy on the other side of the camp fence has startling and unexpected consequences.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Flowers and Wreaths from Union Square Farmers' Market

The Union Square Farmers' Market showcases a variety of produce, greens, fruits and berries, seedlings, herbs, fresh cut flowers as well as baked goods and crafts. The popular market transforms Union Square in Lower Manhattan into a truly eclectic market and neighborhood gathering experience all year round. I made these images of bouquets of dried flowers and red berry wreath at the market two weeks ago. The River Garden's booth features bunches of fresh cut flowers, many of which are not readily found in a regular flower shop. In late fall through winter, then again in early spring, The River Garden offers an amazing selection of dried flowers like the ones pictured above.

 The River Garden is based in Catskill, New York.

Union Square is bounded by 14th Street to the south, Union Square West on the west side, 17th Street on the north, and on the east Union Square East, which links together Broadway and Park Avenue South to Fourth Avenue and the continuation of Broadway.


One of the little things that I've always wanted to do while living in this city is to take the Roosevelt Island Tramway. I captured this image on Second Avenue, not far from where I live.
From wikipedia:
The Roosevelt Island Tramway is an aerial tramway in New York City that spans the East River and connects Roosevelt Island to Manhattan. Prior to the completion of the Portland Aerial Tram in December 2006, it was the only commuter aerial tramway in North America. Over 26 million passengers have used the tram since it began operation in 1976. Each cabin has a capacity of up to 125 people and makes approximately 115 trips per day. The tram moves at about 16 mph (26 km/h) and travels 3,100 feet (940 m) in 4.5 minutes. At its peak it climbs to 250 feet (76 m) above the East River as it follows its route on the north side of the Queensboro Bridge, providing views of the East Side of midtown Manhattan. Two cabins make the run at fifteen minute intervals from 6:00 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. (3:30 a.m. on weekends) and continuously during rush hours.
The tram is operated by Interfac on behalf of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation of the State of New York, a state public benefit corporation created in 1984 to run services on the island.
The tramway was featured prominently in a climactic battle in the 2002 film Spider-Man. The Spider-Man film was not the first appearance of the tramway; The House on the Edge of the Park (1980) shows the tram at 6:07 minutes into the film as how it appeared in the late 1970s. The Sylvester Stallone thriller Nighthawks (1981) depicted the tramway as a terrorist target where United Nations delegates were taken hostage. It was used in the opening credits of City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly's Gold (1994). In the 1994 film Léon (The Professional) it can be seen when Natalie Portman's character, Mathilda, is traveling on it alone. It also appeared in the 2005 horror movie Dark Water. In the comic Kingdom Come, the climactic battle of Volume 1 takes place on and around a similar system in downtown Metropolis.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Purple Bell Pepper at the Union Square Farmers' Market

The last time I visited the Union Square Farmers' Market, I made this image of gorgeous and colorful bell pepper, including a rare purple variety. This beautiful purple bell pepper begins as emerald green and mature to a stunning eggplant purple in color. Purple Beauty is the best open pollinated purple bell pepper on the seed market due to its beauty, reliability, high yield and disease resistance. This bell pepper variety is resistant to TMV (Tobacco MosaicVirus) and is very easy to grow in virtually any climate. The peppers are produced in great numbers on compact bushy plants reaching approximately 45 centimeters in height. The peppers are produced, not only the crown of the plant, but also on each limb of the pepper plant. Having very thick, meaty walls, this bell pepper is ideal for slicing, stir fry or adding color to salads.
From wikipedia:
Bell pepper is a cultivar group of the species Capsicum annuum. Cultivars of the plant produce peppercorns which develop into fruits in different colors, including red, yellow, green and orange. Bell peppers are sometimes grouped with less pungent pepper varieties as "sweet peppers". Peppers are native to Mexico, Central America and northern South America. Pepper seeds were later carried to Spain in 1493 and from there spread to other European and Asian countries. Today, Mexico remains one of the major pepper producers in the world. The color depends on when they are harvested and the specific cultivar. Green peppers are less sweet and slightly more bitter than red, yellow or orange peppers. The taste of ripe peppers can also vary with growing conditions and post-harvest storage treatment; the sweetest are fruit allowed to ripen fully on the plant in full sunshine, while fruit harvested green and after-ripened in storage are less sweet.

The Union Square farmers' market is held every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 8 AM to 6 PM. Saturdays are the busiest day of the four. The market is served by a number of farmers in the New England area. During peak seasons, the market serves more than 250,000 customers per week. More than 1,000 varieties of fruits and vegetables can be found at the market.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Madame Tussauds Museum: MORGAN FREEMAN

On display outside MADAME TUSSAUDS MUSEUM on 42nd Street is a wax figure of Academy Award-winning American actor MORGAN FREEMAN. Madame Tussauds wax museum is a famous wax museum originally set up by wax sculptor Marie Tussaud in London. Now a major tourist attraction in London, it has expanded with branches in Amsterdam, Berlin, Las Vegas, New York City, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Washington DC, with an additional location scheduled to open in Hollywood in 2009. Today's wax figures at Tussauds include historical and royal figures, film stars, sports stars and famous murderers. Known as "Madame Tussauds" museums (no apostrophe), they are owned by a leisure company called Merlin Entertainments, following the acquisition of The Tussauds Group in May 2007.
Morgan Freeman, Jr. (born June 1, 1937) is a remarkable film and stage actor, film director and narrator. He is known for his reserved demeanor and authoritative speaking voice, and is one of Hollywood's most popular and respected actors.

Monday, November 10, 2008

PORTER HOUSE New York at TIME WARNER CENTER: Restaurant With a View

This is the panoramic view from the PORTER HOUSE New York at Time Warner Center. I took this when we had brunch at this wonderful restaurant two weeks ago. At the bottom left of the photos is the Trump Tower globe, and in the background is Central Park and Eastside skyline.
About the restaurant from the official website:
With spacious seating for 140, the room is as ample as teh food is in its sense of welcome and luxurious modern casualness. Created by Jeffrey Beers, designer of Daniel Boulud Brasserie at the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas, Daniel Boulud's DB Bistro Moderne in New York, and Jeffrey Chodorow's Ono at the Hotel Gansevoort, the dining room has been critically praised for its handsome, polished design and panoramic views of Central Park. Dominating the entry is a long, sleekly gleaming cherry wood bar. Deep butter-soft leather banquettes range along the opposite wall with comfortable caféseating in-between. The wide-grained wood floor runs the length of the bar into the formal dining room. Diners relax beneath beams of warm, slatted cherry wood and mellow, meal enhancing lighting. Wooden tables are draped with crisp white tablecloths and encircled by big, roomy arm chairs that mix American clubhouse with American opulence. The private dining room seats and additional 50, and can be divided into two more intimate and quiet spaces, providing a perfect venue for a variety of events and activities.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

THE POND at BRYANT PARK: NYC's Only Free Admission Skating Rink

The Pond is the centerpiece of Bryant Park's winter season. Last week, I made these images at the new skating rink at the Pond. The 170' x 100' rink features free admission ice skating, in addition to high quality rental skates, skating shows, special events, and activities. The Pond at Bryant Park, presented by Citi® is Manhattan's first and only free admission ice skating rink. Back for its fourth season, The Pond has become one of the city's favorite winter destinations. The Pond, although not as iconic as the Rockefeller skating rink truly offers a bit of magic for everyone. During the holiday season, the Pond also features the annual Holiday Shops. Bryant Park is situated behind the New York Public Library in midtown Manhattan, between 40th and 42nd Streets & Fifth and Sixth Avenues.