Saturday, January 31, 2009

State Bedroom

On exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is this state bedroom (English, ca. 1698) featuring the bed with blue silk damask hangings. The bed was made for Thomas Baron Coningsby (1656-1729), a friend of William III (1650-1702). The bed was ordered for one of the two state bedrooms at Hampton Court, Herefordshire, where it remained until 1925.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Filipino film SERBIS opens at the ANGELIKA Film Center

Featured in the Arts and Leisure section of last Sunday's The New York Times is an article about the Filipino movie called SERBIS directed by Brillante Mendoza. The film was an official selection at this year's Cannes Film Festival. This controversial film, starring Gina Pareno, Jaclyn Jose and Julio Diaz, tells the story of the Pineda family who operates a run-down movie house showing dated, sexy double-feature films. Preoccupied with their personal demons, the family is unaware of the transactions taking place in their theater between the patrons and "serbis" (service) boys. 
The movie opens today at the Angelika Film Center, located at 18 West Houston Street (at Mercer Street). 
3:30 PM 5:45 PM 8:05 PM 10:20 PM 
12:30 AM 11:00 AM 1:15 PM 3:30 PM 5:45 PM 8:05 PM 10:20 PM 
11:00 AM 1:15 PM 3:30 PM 5:45 PM 8:05 PM 10:20 PM 
11:00 AM 1:15 PM 3:30 PM 5:45 PM 8:05 PM 10:20 PM 
11:00 AM 1:15 PM 3:30 PM 5:45 PM 8:05 PM 10:20 PM 
11:00 AM 1:15 PM 3:30 PM 5:45 PM 8:05 PM 10:20 PM 
11:00 AM 1:15 PM 3:30 PM 5:45 PM 8:05 PM 10:20 PM

Review from the New York Times (By Manohla Dargis) 
Gentle, bawdy and at times rambunctiously, ticklishly rude, the Filipino movie “Serbis” opens with the camera ogling a naked woman preening before a mirror. “I love you,” she coos to her reflection, “I love you,” as the camera’s point of view drifts between her face and breasts. In most movies this scene might foretell a predictable exercise in exploitation cinema. But the talented director Brillante Ma. Mendoza is after something slyer and more thoughtful than easy nudity for his latest, a story about a dilapidated movie theater and the fractured family that is trying not to disintegrate further inside its derelict walls. Like the family, the adults-only theater has fallen on hard times. Both are located in Angeles City, where the massage parlors were once filled by American military personnel from the nearby, now shuttered Clark Air Base, one of the largest installations of its kind. Mr. Mendoza — whose earlier movies include “Foster Child,” about a poor woman who earns money caring for foundlings headed for overseas homes — doesn’t fill in the socioeconomic backdrop, perhaps because his native audience doesn’t need it. Nor does he explain that abortion is illegal in his largely Roman Catholic country: he just offers up a pregnant woman bitterly weeping while her lover looks on in panic, and the family’s regal matriarch (Gina Pareño) damns them both. Content to show rather than tell, Mr. Mendoza trains his roving camera on the family walking and running through the theater’s long halls and up and down its serpentine staircases. Among the most restless is Nayda (Jaclyn Jose), one of those besieged women whose good looks are being chipped away by everyday worries. Nayda doesn’t have much time to pause, much less rest, between chasing after her young son and tending to those customers who stop for a bite at the cafe next to the box office. Far less troublesome are the customers who venture inside, where, under the dimly flickering light of the movies, they unite amid lip smacks, moans, offers of “service” and mumbled haggling. Mr. Mendoza isn’t the first filmmaker to set his camera loose in an old movie theater, a conceit that has been put to nostalgic and poetic use by the diverse likes of Giuseppe Tornatore (“Cinema Paradiso”) and Tsai Ming-liang (“Goodbye, Dragon Inn”). He underlines the divide between the lives off screen and the shadows on screen every time a character lingers next to a colorfully gaudy poster for an attraction like “Frolic in the Water.” Yet the theater — incongruously named Family — functions as more than a metaphor for a crumbling world: it’s a business, a home, a playground and a refuge for the family and its gay clientele, who are unlikely to join the religious masses passing by the theater in the movie’s finale. In “Serbis” politics isn’t a matter of slogans but of real bodies, which perhaps accounts for why it paradoxically unwinds in a movie theater. The heavenly bodies that populate our films bring their own pleasures, of course, alighting on screen as if from a dream. The bodies in this movie — which received little love at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival — are not heaven sent, but neither are they puppets in a cinematically contrived nightmare. Rather, they lust, sweat, desire and struggle with ferocious truth. In one scene a young man lances a boil on his rear with an empty bottle, a grotesquely funny affirmation of real life and real bodies at their most humble and humanly poignant. You might gag, but you definitely won’t forget it.
Directed by Brillante Ma. Mendoza; written by Armando Lao, based on a story by Mr. Lao and Boots Agbayani Pastor; director of photography, Odyssey Flores; edited by Claire Villa-Real; music by Gian Gianan; production design, Benjamin Padero and Carlo Tabije; produced by Ferdinand Lapuz; released by Regent Releasing. At the Angelika Film Center, Mercer and Houston Streets, Greenwich Village. In Tagalog, with English subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 33 minutes.
WITH: Gina Pareño (Nanay Flor), Jaclyn Jose (Nayda), Julio Diaz (Lando), Coco Martin (Alan), Kristofer King (Ronald), Dan Alvaro (Jerome), Mercedes Cabral (Merly) and Roxanne Jordan (Jewel).

Thursday, January 29, 2009


This is SEAPORT ICE, downtown Manhattan’s newest winter attraction. Amid the visual splendor of tall ships, skyscrapers, and the New York Harbor, this 8,000 sq. ft. ice skating rink offers a skating experience in South Street Seaport. Located at Pier 17, Seaport Ice is open daily from 10 AM to 10 PM through the end of February.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

FOUR VOICES - The New York City Ballet

David Koch Theater Lobby
David Koch Theater Lobby

Last week, we caught a performance of the New York City Ballet called FOUR VOICES at the David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center Plaza located at Broadway and 63rd Street.
'Chiaroscuro' locates its six cast members between light and shadow as their weaving patterns unfold in complex interactions. Martins' fleet and fluttering quartet 'Papillons,' set to Schumann's piano music, returns this season for the first time since its 1994 premiere. Last season's critically-acclaimed 'Concerto DSCH,' with its thrilling Shostakovich score and dynamic texture, also returns for a second viewing. Rounding out the foursome is Balanchine's Austro-Hungarian 'Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet,' a proud and romantic yet wistfully yearning work that ends in an intoxicating gypsy finale. (From
Review from the New York Times (Alastair Macaulay):
To say that a choreographer has a voice implies a recognizable style. New York City Ballet’s new quadruple bill, each work by a different choreographer, is called “Four Voices.” Its two most substantial pieces suggest true voices, both individual and imaginative.
Alexei Ratmansky’s “Concerto DSCH,” new last May, is the centerpiece; George Balanchine’s “Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet” is the closer. Though they are stylistically dissimilar, there is an affinity in the way both choreographers are led by their scores to reimagine the historical world of their music — in “Concerto DSCH” the early Soviet climate of Shostakovich’s second piano concerto, and in “Brahms-Schoenberg” four aspects of late-19th-century Hapsburg Vienna — while staying extraordinarily close to its pulse and phrasing.
The perky outer movements of Shostakovich’s score prompt Mr. Ratmansky to vivid visions of a milieu of 1930s Russian athletes, while the beautifully tender slow movement occasions the ballet’s most sustained and intimate scene. Here Wendy Whelan and Benjamin Millepied dance an affectingly fresh pas de deux as part of a social group; the six other young people sometimes start to become couples too. As the music closes, they part, women and men in opposite directions, as if headed, regretfully, for separate dormitories.
The people of this ballet aren’t idealized or even, for all their physical skill, polished. Their ways of walking and sitting, their different reactions to one another, the sense of changing community in which individuals continually diverge from the norm are all vivid. How Mr. Ratmansky makes this grow as if inevitably out of this concerto is one wonder; the wealth of detail is another.
This was my third viewing of “Concerto DSCH,” and there was much I hadn’t noticed before. In the first movement a woman performs a sideways athletic balance on one hand and one foot: this prepares us for the same pose that the ballet’s heroine, Ms. Whelan, makes amid the final tableau. The start of the second movement has an engrossing wealth of interaction involving the six young men and women who will become the changing framework for this scene. (There’s an odd man out, then another, as happens throughout the ballet.) In the third movement a passage of legato music prompts an oddly dreamlike sequence where things threaten to fall apart: one athlete (Gonzalo Garcia) slowly falls to the floor and beats a fist.
But these and other features are less marvelous than the ballet’s constant changes of pattern and human dissonance, its shifts of tone between comedy, affection and exhilarating, youthful exuberance. Ms. Whelan and Mr. Millepied are, as they were last spring, excellent, heart-catching in the midheight hovering lifts where athleticism becomes feeling. Each step feels like something that happens for real to these characters in this moment.
I think, however, that “Concerto DSCH” was funnier when new. I like the way Ana Sophia Scheller — replacing the injured Ashley Bouder — doesn’t exaggerate the ballet’s second lead woman, but Ms. Bouder’s blend of knockabout comedy and physical brilliance is missed. And, though Joaquin de Luz and Mr. Garcia dance extremely well as her colleagues, some of their episodes had a stronger touch of absurdity before.
Balanchine’s choreographic construction of “Brahms-Schoenberg” — especially its first three movements — continues to fascinate. Its four views of Vienna make a rich counterpart to his “Vienna Waltzes.” The Brahms music prompts him to more high lifts than usual and to many strikingly complex images of male-female romantic interdependence. The supporting ranks in the first three movements — beautifully costumed by Karinska — are almost as compelling as the lead roles.
But this ballet takes off only when each movement is given a major ballerina performance. Abi Stafford was at her most conscientious in the first, Jenifer Ringer brought warmth and absorption to the second, and Maria Kowroski gives the Rondo alla Zingarese happy expansiveness. All three, however, lack bite and brightness, and Yvonne Borree is unacceptably small-scale and trivial in the third. (All are, however, admirably partnered by, respectively, Philip Neal, Jared Angle, Andrew Veyette and Charles Askegard, and the ballet’s best solo dancing came from Mr. Veyette.)
Neither Lynne Taylor-Corbett in “Chiaroscuro” nor Peter Martins in “Papillons” (both 1994), the other choreographers on the program, demonstrates a distinctive voice. The changing moods of Geminiani’s attractive score drives “Chiaroscuro’s” six dancers in such a variety of directions that they lack coherence; mainly we are shown their moody passivity.
By contrast, the spectrum of moods in “Papillons” is narrow and trite. Surely not even major dancers could make its butterfly theme (slight) interesting. Darci Kistler and Megan Fairchild are tediously trivial throughout, and their partners — the excellent Angle brothers, Jared and Tyler — are mainly occupied by keeping them airborne or upright. The ballet uses Schumann music while avoiding its real originality. Is there any good reason City Ballet’s audience is being fed revivals of these wholly forgettable items?

"Street Photography" - 73rd Street Between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues

Photo taken 1/18/09

On a snowy Sunday morning on my way to the Upper Westside's Juice Generation, I made this image of a great-looking street. The photo was taken from the Amsterdam Avenue side.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Stephen Sprouse's ROSE PRINT, centerpiece of LOUIS VUITTON's new window display

Louis Vuitton's flagship store window display currently features the ROSE PRINT by the artist and fashion designer STEPHEN SPROUSE. Louis Vuitton's 2001 “Graffiti” collection was a collaboration between MARC JACOBS and SPROUSE. Marc Jacobs, who is creative director for Louis Vuitton, pays tribute to the artist with a limited-edition collection of handbags, accessories, and ready-to-wear garments. In the new line, Jacobs plays off of two popular Sprouse motifs – the graffiti, and the rose print. Stephen Sprouse (September 12, 1953 - March 4, 2004) was a fashion designer and artist credited with pioneering the 1980s mix of "uptown sophistication in clothing with a downtown punk and pop sensibility". The store is located at Fifth Avenue and 57th Street.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Floral Design by DAVID TUTERA's "STEM"

These are some of the floral designs by DAVID TUTERA's "STEM" located at the lower level of The Plaza on Fifth Avenue at Central Park South. STEM is a unique full service floral and gift boutique.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Andy Warhol, Marilyn Monroe and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in Wax

I made these images of ANDY WARHOL, JACQUELINE KENNEDY ONASSIS and MARILYN MONROE in wax at MADAME TUSSAUDS Wax Museum in Times Square. Andrew Warhola (August 6, 1928 – February 22, 1987), more commonly known as Andy Warhol, was an American painter, filmmaker and conceptual artist, who was a leading figure in the movement known as pop art. After a successful career as a commercial illustrator, Warhol became famous worldwide for his work as a painter, avant-garde filmmaker, record producer, author, and public figure known for his membership in wildly diverse social circles that included bohemian street people, distinguished intellectuals, Hollywood celebrities and wealthy aristocrats.
Warhol has been the subject of numerous retrospective exhibitions, books, and feature and documentary films. Warhol created the concept of "15 minutes of fame", which refers to the fleeting condition of fame in the modern world, mainly attributed to mass media and transience in human beings. (From wikipedia).
Two of his famous paintings are those of actress MARILYN MONROE, and former First Lady JACQUELINE KENNEDY.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


HAYDN GWYNNE (Mrs. Wilkinson) at the stagedoor signing autographs
after the performance

video clips from BillyElliotStuff
Earlier this evening, we attended a performance of BILLY ELLIOT The Musical, which is based on the movie of the same name, one of my favorite films. Set in Northern England, this is the story of a boy who wants to be a ballet dancer, even though his father wants him to box. Three actors alternately play the title role, and at this performance, TRENT KOWALIK played the role of Billy, a motherless boy who finds a way out of his bleak existence through the joy of dance. He was fantastic! HAYDN GWYNNE, who created the role of dance teacher Mrs. Wilkinson in the show's original London cast, repeats her work for Broadway audiences. Also in the company are Gregory Jbara as Dad, Tony winner Carole Shelley as Grandma and Santino Fontana as Billy's brother Tony. Frank Dolce alternate in the role of Billy's friend Michael with Stephen Hanna as Billy's Older Self, Joel Hatch as George, Leah Hocking as Mum, Thommie Retter as Mr. Braithwaite and Erin Whyland as Debbie. Overall, I enjoyed this Broadway production much more than the original London production. It was exhilarating to watch the choreography especially the part where Billy and the Older Billy were both onstage. Music score is by Sir ELTON JOHN.
Billy Elliot is playing at the Imperial Theatre, 249 West 45th Street, between Broadway and 8th Avenue, New York, NY 10036. The running time is 2 hours 45 mins, with one intermission. Shows times are Tuesday 7pm, Wed through Saturday at 8pm, Wednesday and Saturday at 2pm, Sunday at 3pm.
Review from The New York Times (Ben Brantley):
Your inner dancer is calling. Its voice, sweet but tough and insistent, pulses in every molecule of the new Broadway musical “Billy Elliot,” demanding that you wake up sleeping fantasies of slipping on tap or ballet shoes and soaring across a stage. Few people may have the gift of this show’s title character, a coal miner’s son in northern England who discovers he was born to pirouette. But the seductive, smashingly realized premise of “Billy Elliot,” which opened Thursday night at the Imperial Theater, is that everybody has the urge. And in exploring that urge among the population of a down-at-heels coal town suffering through the British miners’ strike of the mid-1980s, this show both artfully anatomizes and brazenly exploits the most fundamental and enduring appeal of musicals themselves.
It’s been more than three years since “Billy Elliot,” directed by Stephen Daldry and featuring a score by Elton John, first sent critics and audiences into a mass swoon in London, where it continues to play. The delay in bringing the show to Broadway hinted at fears that it might not sit comfortably on American soil.
Adapted by Lee Hall from his screenplay for the affectionately remembered 2000 movie of the same title (also directed by Mr. Daldry), “Billy Elliot” is told in thick working-class accents and an argot that, even in London, necessitated putting a glossary in the program. What’s more, the show traffics in a particularly British brand of bitter treacle, wallowing in the glory of the bravely defeated and the pathos of small, trapped lives.
But the timing of the production’s arrival here, with the United States newly chastened by severe financial woes and fears, gives it a resonance it might not have had in 2005, when big spenders ruled with complacency. “Billy Elliot” is a hard-times musical. And as the culture of the Great Depression made clear, in times of economic darkness there can be blessed relief in dreams of tripping the light.
Much of the power of “Billy Elliot” as an honest tear-jerker lies in its ability to give equal weight to the sweet dreams of terpsichorean flight and the sourness of a dream-denying reality, with the two elements locked in a vital and unending dialogue. This isn’t wholesale escapism à la Busby Berkeley or “Mamma Mia!” In tone, it’s closer to the song-dotted working-class films of Terence Davies or, on television, Dennis Potter’s “Pennies From Heaven.”
This production never lets us forget the elemental tug of war between Billy’s longing to dance and the forces pulling him away from it. Mr. Daldry and his prodigiously inventive team make sure that the conflict is carried through on every level, from Peter Darling’s inspired scene-melding choreography, which gives a new spin to the idea of the integrated musical, to Ian MacNeil’s fluidly moving sets and Rick Fisher’s shadow-casting lighting. And it’s telling that Mr. John’s songs (with lyrics by Mr. Hall) are as infused with the energy of anger as of joy.
The plot, which sticks close to that of Mr. Hall’s screenplay, doesn’t even try to avoid the clichés common to tales of talented, odds-beating backwater youth. Billy is, natch, a motherless boy with a loving but unlettered father (a touching Gregory Jbara) and an adorably addled grandmother, played by the estimable Carole Shelley. Billy is portrayed by three young teenagers, Trent Kowalik, Kiril Kulish and, in the performance I saw, the excellent David Alvarez. (No public schedule is available for which Billy performs on which night.)
There’s the inevitable inspirational teacher, a Mrs. Wilkinson (the sublime Haydn Gwynne, who created the role in London), who sees a spark of greatness in the lad. There’s the time-honored progression from resistance — here by a rough, masculine culture — suspicious of all things arty (embodied by Billy’s brother, played by Santino Fontana, and his father) to acceptance, when the whole town bands together to help send the boy to London for his big audition. There are even, heaven help us, visitations by the fond ghost of Billy’s mother (Leah Hocking).
Yet Mr. Daldry and company turn tripe into triumph by making us understand the depth of the appeal of its classic show-business fairy tale, not only to us but also to the people whose dreary daily existences touch on Billy’s. The evidence of this appeal is abundant in “Billy Elliot,” most obviously in the motley ballet classes presided over by the wryly disparaging Mrs. Wilkinson and a Christmas frolic at the miners’ hall where everybody dresses up as their favorite villainess, Margaret Thatcher. But it’s not just the amateur performers who feel the ineffable pull of song and dance.
Billy’s grandma shucks her shabby housecoat to reveal a sparkling dress and summons a spectral chorus of partners past as she recalls the respite from an unhappy marriage provided by nights of dancing with her alcoholic husband. Mrs. Wilkinson’s grubby rehearsal pianist (Thommie Retter) strips out of his civvies to become a gyrating disco boy for a number called “Born to Boogie.”
And Billy’s best friend, Michael (Frank Dolce, who alternates with David Bologna), reveals the thrill of dressing up in his sister’s clothes and making like Sophie Tucker in the show-stopping “Expressing Yourself.” (The everyday metamorphosis-ready costumes are by Nicky Gillibrand.)
That number — and an electric outcry of frustration called “Angry Dance” — come closest to what one might expect from a venerable pop-chart topper like Mr. John. But much of his work here, far more restrained than his more mawkish scores for Disney musicals, is in a folksier vein, drawn from North country ballads and protest songs. And undercurrents of anxiety, wistfulness and melancholy run through the most tuneful pieces.
This show makes sure that we always keep in mind the grittiness and despair of the society that produced Billy, so that the poetry of his dancing seems all the more startling and inexplicable. Mr. Darling’s surreal blending of Mrs. Wilkinson’s dance class with a clash between miners and police is one of the freshest, most exciting uses of narrative dance I’ve seen in years. And until the finale (which is a tad overdone), he rations his big, knock-’em-dead sequences. “Billy Elliot,” you see, isn’t a dance show; it’s about why people need dance.

The performances, for the most part, are broader than they were in London, with more mugging and heart-tugging stickiness. But the two most essential portrayals — that of Ms. Gwynne and Mr. Alvarez — were spot-on the night I saw the show. Hard-shelled and all too wary of the limits of her life, Ms. Gwynne’s Mrs. Wilkinson perfectly embodies the tricky balance of sweet and salty the show requires.
And Mr. Alvarez, a natural lyrical dancer, exudes just the right air of conviction and perplexity. This Billy can’t articulate his need for dance, but he understands the potency and worth of his emotions. You always feel his ambivalence and, in the final scenes, his confounded sense of the privilege — and guilt — in entering another realm.
For everyone else in the play, like most of us in the audience, the transcendence of dance is something to be sampled, falteringly and only occasionally, rather than lived. Billy’s grandmother sings of her youthful nights on the dance floor: “It was bliss for an hour or so/But then they called time to go/And in the morning we were sober.”
“Billy Elliot” never doubts that it’s the sobriety that endures in life. Which makes those intoxicating, fleet-footed flashes of art, where leaden bodies fly and discord turns into harmony, all the more to be cherished.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Viewing of the Inauguration of BARACK OBAMA at Rockefeller Center

Today, a gathering was held in Rockefeller Center Plaza to watch the historic inauguration of BARACK OBAMA, the 44th President of the United States. Numerous giant television screens were installed in different parts of Manhattan including the Rockefeller Center Plaza and Channel Gardens, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues and 49th and 50th streets. Below freezing temperatures did not dampen the excitement and enthusiasm of the viewers.
Barack Hussein Obama was born Aug. 4, 1961, in Honolulu, Hawaii. His father, Barack Obama, Sr., was born of Luo ethnicity in Nyanza Province, Kenya. He grew up herding goats with his own father, who was a domestic servant to the British. Although reared among Muslims, Obama, Sr., became an atheist at some point.
Obama’s mother, Ann Dunham, grew up in Wichita, Kansas. Her father worked on oil rigs during the Depression. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, he signed up for service in World War II and marched across Europe in Patton’s army. Dunham’s mother went to work on a bomber assembly line. After the war, they studied on the G. I. Bill, bought a house through the Federal Housing Program, and moved to Hawaii.
Meantime, Barack’s father had won a scholarship that allowed him to leave Kenya pursue his dreams in Hawaii. At the time of his birth, Obama’s parents were students at the East–West Center of the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
Obama’s parents separated when he was two years old and later divorced. Obama’s father went to Harvard to pursue Ph. D. studies and then returned to Kenya.
His mother married Lolo Soetoro, another East–West Center student from Indonesia. In 1967, the family moved to Jakarta, where Obama’s half-sister Maya Soetoro–Ng was born. Obama attended schools in Jakarta, where classes were taught in the Indonesian language.
Four years later when Barack (commonly known throughout his early years as "Barry") was ten, he returned to Hawaii to live with his maternal grandparents, Madelyn and Stanley Dunham, and later his mother (who died of ovarian cancer in 1995).
He was enrolled in the fifth grade at the esteemed Punahou Academy, graduating with honors in 1979. He was only one of three black students at the school. This is where Obama first became conscious of racism and what it meant to be an African–American.
In his memoir, Obama described how he struggled to reconcile social perceptions of his multiracial heritage. He saw his biological father (who died in a 1982 car accident) only once (in 1971) after his parents divorced. And he admitted using alcohol, marijuana and cocaine during his teenage years.
After high school, Obama studied at Occidental College in Los Angeles for two years. He then transferred to Columbia University in New York, graduating in 1983 with a degree in political science.
After working at Business International Corporation (a company that provided international business information to corporate clients) and NYPIRG, Obama moved to Chicago in 1985. There, he worked as a community organizer with low-income residents in Chicago’s Roseland community and the Altgeld Gardens public housing development on the city’s South Side.
It was during this time that Obama, who said he "was not raised in a religious household," joined the Trinity United Church of Christ. He also visited relatives in Kenya, which included an emotional visit to the graves of his father and paternal grandfather.
Obama entered Harvard Law School in 1988. In February 1990, he was elected the first African–American editor of the Harvard Law Review. Obama graduated magna cum laude in 1991.
After law school, Obama returned to Chicago to practice as a civil rights lawyer, joining the firm of Miner, Barnhill & Galland. He also taught at the University of Chicago Law School. And he helped organize voter registration drives during Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign.
Obama met his wife, Michelle, in 1988 when he was a summer associate at the Chicago law firm of Sidley & Austin. They were married in October 1992 and live in Kenwood on Chicago's South Side with their daughters, Malia (born 1998) and Sasha (born 2001).

Monday, January 19, 2009


Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in wax
Photo taken January 17, 2009 at MadameTussauds New York

Youtube video from SealedRecords
Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a United States federal holiday marking the birthdate of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. This holiday is observed on the third Monday of January each year. Shown above is an image that I made of the wax statue of Dr. King last Saturday at Madame Tussauds which is located at 234 West 42nd Street, between 7th and 8th Avenues in Times Square. The wax museum is open 365 days a year at 10:00 AM (Info: 800.246.8872).
King was the nonviolent civil rights leader who advocated peaceful resistance and equality among races. He is the chief spokesman of the movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law. He was assassinated in 1968. Millions of Americans are expected to honor Dr. King and answer President-elect Barack Obama’s call to service by volunteering today. More than 11,400 service projects are taking place across the country, more than double last year. Americans will make it “a day on, not a day off” by delivering meals, refurbishing schools, reading to children, signing up mentors, etc. During the 1950s and ’60s, Dr. King recognized the power of service and volunteerism to strengthen communities and achieve common goals. Initiated by Congress in 1994, King Day of Service builds on that that legacy by transforming the federal holiday honoring Dr. King into a national day of community service grounded in his teachings of nonviolence and social justice. The aim is to make the holiday a day where people of all ages and backgrounds come together to improve lives, bridge social barriers, and move our nation closer to the “Beloved Community” that Dr. King envisioned. Barack Obama is taking part in a community renovation project in the Washington area. Dr. King blazed a trail for Barack Obama, who will be inaugurated as the 44th President and the first black president of the United States tomorrow. (Derived from wikipedia and
Biography from
Martin Luther King Jr. (January 15, 1929-April 4, 1968) was born Michael Luther King, Jr., but later had his name changed to Martin. His grandfather began the family's long tenure as pastors of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, serving from 1914 to 1931; his father has served from then until the present, and from 1960 until his death Martin Luther acted as co-pastor. Martin Luther attended segregated public schools in Georgia, graduating from high school at the age of fifteen; he received the B. A. degree in 1948 from Morehouse College, a distinguished Negro institution of Atlanta from which both his father and grandfather had graduated. After three years of theological study at Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania where he was elected president of a predominantly white senior class, he was awarded the B.D. in 1951. With a fellowship won at Crozer, he enrolled in graduate studies at Boston University, completing his residence for the doctorate in 1953 and receiving the degree in 1955. In Boston he met and married Coretta Scott, a young woman of uncommon intellectual and artistic attainments. Two sons and two daughters were born into the family.

In 1954, Martin Luther King accepted the pastorale of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. Always a strong worker for civil rights for members of his race, King was, by this time, a member of the executive committee of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the leading organization of its kind in the nation. He was ready, then, early in December, 1955, to accept the leadership of the first great Negro nonviolent demonstration of contemporary times in the United States, the bus boycott described by Gunnar Jahn in his presentation speech in honor of the laureate. The boycott lasted 382 days. On December 21, 1956, after the Supreme Court of the United States had declared unconstitutional the laws requiring segregation on buses, Negroes and whites rode the buses as equals. During these days of boycott, King was arrested, his home was bombed, he was subjected to personal abuse, but at the same time he emerged as a Negro leader of the first rank.

In 1957 he was elected president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization formed to provide new leadership for the now burgeoning civil rights movement. The ideals for this organization he took from Christianity; its operational techniques from Gandhi. In the eleven-year period between 1957 and 1968, King traveled over six million miles and spoke over twenty-five hundred times, appearing wherever there was injustice, protest, and action; and meanwhile he wrote five books as well as numerous articles. In these years, he led a massive protest in Birmingham, Alabama, that caught the attention of the entire world, providing what he called a coalition of conscience. and inspiring his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail", a manifesto of the Negro revolution; he planned the drives in Alabama for the registration of Negroes as voters; he directed the peaceful march on Washington, D.C., of 250,000 people to whom he delivered his address, "l Have a Dream", he conferred with President John F. Kennedy and campaigned for President Lyndon B. Johnson; he was arrested upwards of twenty times and assaulted at least four times; he was awarded five honorary degrees; was named Man of the Year by Time magazine in 1963; and became not only the symbolic leader of American blacks but also a world figure.

At the age of thirty-five, Martin Luther King, Jr., was the youngest man to have received the Nobel Peace Prize. When notified of his selection, he announced that he would turn over the prize money of $54,123 to the furtherance of the civil rights movement.

On the evening of April 4, 1968, while standing on the balcony of his motel room in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was to lead a protest march in sympathy with striking garbage workers of that city, he was assassinated.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

TIFFANY Artwork at the METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART's American Decorative Arts Wing

View of Oyster Bay by Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933)
Leaded Favrile-glass window

Lotus (or Water Lily Table Lamp), and Elaborate Pony Shade With Standing Lamp by Louis C. Tiffany (1848-1933), Leaded Favrile glass with bronze

Magnolias and Irises by Louis C. Tiffany (1848-1933)
Leaded Favrile-glass window
When we visited the American Decorative Arts Wing of the METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART earlier today, we saw a group of young kids learning about LOUIS COMFORT TIFFANY'S stained glass artwork called VIEW OF OYSTER BAY. This work is just one of the many works of art featured in The American Wing. Louis C. Tiffany is one of the most versatile and talented American artists working in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The collection highlights the Museum's preeminent collections and features Tiffany's windows, lamps, furniture, mosaics, blown Favrile glass vases, pottery, enamelwork, and jewelry. In addition, there is a rotating display selected from the Museum's collection of more than 400 design drawings from Tiffany's studios.

Friday, January 16, 2009

"Pity the Poor Horses"

Horse-drawn carriages are popular among tourists who want a picturesque and romantic way to visit Central Park. They can be found all year round lined up along Central Park South between 5th and 6th Avenues. Considered a New York City classic, these carriages have been featured in numerous movies. Animal rights activists however have been urging legislators to ban these carriages because they say horses are treated inhumanely.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Serendipity 3

This is the decades-old SERENDIPITY 3 on 60th Street, not far from where I live. This image was taken last month before Christmas. Part general store, part ice cream parlor, and part casual restaurant, this place is always crowded, and has been a favorite dessert hangout for over two decades, for both locals and such celebrities as Tom Cruise and Cher. In Helen Zelon's review: "The restaurant is primarily a dessert spot, but the food--which is served in portions as generous as the desserts--is simple and tasty, from soups, salads, crepes and pasta to hot dogs and burgers. Nonetheless, the real star remains dessert--sublime, sinful and massive. Aficionados swear by the frozen hot chocolate, made from no fewer than 14 kinds of chocolate ground into a rich slush. Linger over a root beer float or watch your banana split melt into milky oblivion--your kids will be blissed out in creamy sweet abandon."
Serendipity 3 is located at 225 East 60th Street. Tel (212) 838-3531.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Today, Marvel Comics released a special issue of "Amazing Spider-Man #583" with Obama depicted on the cover. Inside are five pages of OBAMA and SPIDEY teaming up and even fist-bumping. I made images of two panels from the comics that I purchased from JIM HANLEY'S UNIVERSE at 4 West 33rd Street across from the Empire State Building. The issue becomes an instant Obama collectible because the cover, by artist PHIL JIMENEZ, is limited to half the run. This is also the first time that the President appears on the cover of a comics magazine.
Presidents have been supporting characters in comics before: During World War II, superheroes fought Hitler as FranklinD. Roosevelt cheered them on. John F. Kennedy appeared in Action Comics #309 in 1963, when he helped protect Clark Kent's secret identity. "If I can't trust the president of the United States, who can I trust?" Superman tells Kennedy. That issue appeared a week after Kennedy was assassinated. DC Comics had to explain later that it was too late to recall the book. Presidents have appeared as more shadowy figures in recent years. "We do our best to be completely non-partisan and treat presidents with respect," Quesada says. "This is not so much a pro-Obama statement but a tip of the hat to having a Spider-Man fan in the White House."
For the comics artwork pictured above:
Artist: Todd Nauck
Colorist: Frank D'Amata
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


The NEW YORKER Hotel, located in Midtown Manhattan on 34th Street and the corner of 8th Avenue. Photo taken January 1, 2009.

Monday, January 12, 2009


The new Times Square New Year's Eve ball was relit last week and sent up a 141-foot flagpole on the roof of One Times Square. The ball will remain lit until the next New Year's celebration and even be used to help celebrate other holidays this year. I took this photo last January 10. "This is a New York City landmark now. It's a tourist attraction that people from all over the world will come and see, just like the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building," said President Jeffrey Straus of Countdown Entertainment. "When you make your trip to New York and Times Square, your going to take back home a picture of this New Years' Eve ball with 2009 underneath." 
The new Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball is a 12 foot geodesic sphere, double the size of previous Balls, and weighs 11,875 pounds. Covered in 2,668 Waterford Crystals and powered by 32,256 Philips Luxeon Rebel LEDS, the new Ball is capable of creating a palette of more than 16 million vibrant colors and billions of patterns producing a spectacular kaleidoscope effect atop One Times Square.
WATERFORD CRYSTAL created an exclusive “Let There Be Joy” design for the crystal triangles on the new Ball. Designed and crafted by Waterford artisans in Ireland, “Let There Be Joy” features the design of an angel with arms uplifted welcoming the New Year on each of the 1,728 new crystals. The remaining 960 triangles are last year’s “Let There Be Light” design of a stylized radiating starburst.
"The new 2009 Times Square New Year's Ball represents the perfect blend of time-honored craftsmanship and state of the art technology," says Pete Cheyney, Director of Corporate Communications for Waterford Crystal. "The theme for the Waterford crystals on this year's Ball, "Let There be Joy" reflects our belief that New Year's Eve is a time when happiness and optimism for the future should be at the forefront of everyone's thoughts. We at Waterford consider the Ball to be of our Company's greatest achievements."

Sunday, January 11, 2009

POMONA, Goddess of Orchards, Gardens and Abundance

Atop the Joseph Pulitzer fountain in front of The Plaza is the bronze statue of POMONA, the Roman goddess of orchards, fruit trees and gardens. This statue is a creation of sculptor KARL BITTER. Usually associated with abundance, Pomona is often shown carrying either a large platter of fruits or a cornucopia. I made these images of Pomona on December 28, 2008.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Christmas Tree Curbside Collection and Recycling

White After-Christmas

Dead Christmas trees are everywhere these days and it's time for the city's annual Christmas tree curbside collection and recycling program (January 5 through the 16th). Trees must be free of tinsel and lights and should not be in plastic bags. They will be turned into compost for The Parks Department and the mulch will be spread around the city's parks, ball fields and community gardens.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Christian Jankowski's LIVING SCULPTURES: Dali Woman, El Che, Caesar

These are CHRISTIAN JANKOWSKI's Living Sculptures: a figure known as Salvador Dali's "The Anthropomorphic Cabinet Woman", the revolutionary leader Che Guevarra, and "Caesar," now installed at Central Park's Dorris Freedman Plaza. 
From the Public Art Fund website:
Through April 2009, visitors to Central Park's Doris C. Freedman Plaza will come across three sculptures by Christian Jankowski that may require a second look from passersby. New Yorkers and tourists alike are accustomed to seeing the occasional performer on the streets of our city, entertaining crowds with dance, magic or impersonation. When visitors encounter Jankowski's Living Sculptures, they may at first think they are seeing three street performers, surprisingly motionless and grouped together. In actuality, the figures are bronze sculptures that reference the tradition of professional street performers who strike poses as historical or fantastical characters for passersby. Specifically these works draw inspiration from three street performers Jankowski observed and selected from a public thoroughfare in Barcelona that regularly present themselves as the likenesses of a Roman legionnaire who refers to himself as "Caesar", the revolutionary leader Che Guevara, and an enigmatic woman inspired by a figure known as "The Anthropomorphic Cabinet Woman" created by artist Salvador Dali.
Jankowski's sculptures are, in essence, statues of people performing as statues. Representing modern day figures, both real and imagined, they are exceptionally life-like, though solid bronze in their composition. Their human scale and figurative representation beckon viewers to come close, consider whether they are real people, pose next to them for photos, and perhaps even leave a few coins in appreciation. The installation of Living Sculptures at the entrance to Central Park is especially fitting given that it is a favored and prominent spot for public sculptures as well as some of the New York's actual street performers, including a frequent impersonator of the Statue of Liberty.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Face of 2008, Last Year's News

This work by an unknown artist is made of newspapers and magazines published in 2008. On New Year's Day, on our way to the restaurant, we saw this artist taking photos of his own work on 9th Avenue downtown. He graciously gave me permission to make images, and he even took a photo of me while photographing his artwork.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Tsar Nicholas II CANDELABRA by Baccarat

On display at the main lobby of THE PLAZA is a grand candelabra for sale. THE PLAZA hotel/private residences is located at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Central Park South. 
At the turn of the 19th century, Russian Tsar Nicholas II wanted to show the world the grandeur and modernity of his empire. In 1896, during a visit to Paris, he discovered the glittering world of Baccarat. The Tsar went on to commission several Baccarat candelabra. Unfortunately, World War I and the ensuing Russian Revolution prevented some of these majestic 79-light candelabra from ever reaching their final destination. This masterpiece, one of two remaining candelabra was one of the highlights at the 1909 "Exposition Universelle de Nancy" and has since been known as the "Candelabra du Tsar." The other is currently on permanent display at the Baccarat Gallery Museum in Paris. This unique piece is for sale with a substantial portion of the proceeds to benefit the US Fund for UNICEF. For information, please call 212-826-4100.