Monday, April 30, 2007


One of several 15-foot interactive Director’s Chairs installed by American Express in various locations in the city providing information about the Tribeca Film Festival.

The Tribeca Film Festival is in full swing. TriBeCa, a neighborhood in downtown Manhattan is a syllabic abbreviation of “TRIangle BElow CAnal Street.”


“The Tribeca Film Festival was founded in 2002 by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff as a response to the attacks on the World Trade Center. Conceived to foster the economic and cultural revitalization of Lower Manhattan through an annual celebration of film, music and culture, the Festival’s mission is to promote New York City as a major filmmaking center and allow its filmmakers to reach the broadest possible audience. By upholding a belief in the artistic process as a means to tell the stories of loss and redemption, fear and prosperity, chaos and revolution with the spirit of independent film at the helm, the Tribeca Film Festival has succeeded in re-writing the story of Lower Manhattan. Since the inaugural festival, Lower Manhattan, once covered in rubble and shrouded in loss, has become a thriving cultural and economic center.

The sixth annual Tribeca Film Festival will run from April 25th to May 6th, 2007. The Festival is anchored in Tribeca and takes place in additional neighborhoods throughout Manhattan, featuring film screenings, special events, concerts, a family street fair, and panel discussions.”

Today marks the beginning of Spider-Man Week, as part of the film festival. The new movie Spider-Man 3 starring Tobey Maguire opens today in Queens, Peter Parker’s home.

Saturday, April 28, 2007


New York’s vegetation, so long stuck in a suspended animation, has finally shaken off winter. Strangely, when the rain stopped last week, the spring flowers seemed to bloom simultaneously rather than sequentially. My favorite spring flowers are tulips, such as these found on Park Avenue. Known for its soaring real estate prices and affluence, Park Avenue (formerly called Fourth Avenue) is a wide thoroughfare on the Upper East Side that runs parallel to Madison Avenue to the west and Lexington Avenue to the east. The blooms and foliage in the median island of this wide boulevard are maintained by the Fund for Park Avenue. Aside from Central Park, this is where I enjoy photographing tulips. While most of the photos above were taken on Park Avenue, some of them were made outside the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on the Upper West Side, the Weill Medical College of Cornell University on the Upper East Side, and at the park in front of City Hall downtown. Whether the background are NYC yellow taxicabs, out of focus traffic lights or an off-white concrete wall, tulips are always photogenic.

The tulip is actually a native of Central Asia, in the Tien-Shan and the Pamir-Alai mountain ranges near Islamabad, Pakistan. A secondary genetic center developed in Azerbaijan and Armenia. The tulip is still closely associated with the Netherlands even though it is not a native Dutch flower. The Dutch, however made tulip cultivation the cornerstone of an industry that lasted hundreds of years. Tulips were not introduced to the Netherlands until 1593. These flowers were first seen by Europeans in Turkey and it is believed that the Turks had been cultivating tulips as early as AD 1000. The tulip got its name from the Turkish word for turban, owing to the flower's resemblance to the Middle Eastern headgear. Tulips are perennial bulbous plants with waxy-textured green leaves and large flowers with six velvety petals.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

ABERCROMBIE and FITCH Flagship Store Fifth Avenue Store Greeters: Undressed for Success

Bare-chestedness should be the antithesis of clothing. At Abercrombie and Fitch, it is part of the marketing strategy. And it seems to work. At the firm’s always crowded (and loud like a nightclub) flagship store on Fifth Avenue, I took photos of some of the scantily clad models or greeters (I really don’t know what to call them) who pace under moody low lights at the entrance. Half-naked or donning a coat, depending on the weather, they flash their nice smile or pout and pose for photographs. A and F is probably one of the most controversial clothing firm in the country. The chain's once legendary and sexually-charged quarterly magazine A and F had to be dropped when several US states claimed it was glorifying soft pornography through famed photographer Bruce Weber's images of naked young men and women. The company was once boycotted by Asian-Americans when it introduced T-shirts caricaturing ethnic groups. One depicts smiling figures in conical hats, and featured the slogan "Wong Brothers Laundry Service - Two Wongs Can Make It White." At one time, concerned citizens protested against a line of thong underwear sold for girls in pre-teen sizes and including phrases like "Eye Candy." Through all of this controversy, A&F continues to become a success.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


I made a photo of these two young girls waving the blue and white flags during the Greek Independence Day Parade last Sunday, April 22 on Fifth Avenue from 60th Street to 79th Street. This is the largest Greek Independence Day Parade in the US and is organized by the not-for-profit Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater New York, Inc. This year's parade commemorates the 186th anniversary of Greek Independence. On March 25, 1821, Greece declared its independence after almost many years of tyranny and oppression under Turkish Ottoman rule.

Monday, April 23, 2007


The 27th New York International Orchid Show was held from April 18-22 at Rockefeller Center. Filling glass buildings and an orangerie (Marston and Langinger) on the street level in front of 30 Rockefeller Plaza housed thousands of orchids in a wide variety of shapes, colors, textures and sizes. There were also flower arrangements created by Ikebana practitioners and floral designers from the New York area and abroad. The show was produced by the Greater New York Orchid Society.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


Last Friday, the Metropolitan Museum of Art opened its new Greek & Roman Galleries, 15 years after the project was initiated. The galleries house art created between about 900 B.C. and the early fourth century A.D., highlighting the evolution of Greek art in the Hellenistic period and the arts of southern Italy and Etruria. Natural light from skylights and arched windows of the main atrium made photography of the displays easier when we visited the galleries earlier this afternoon. Shown above are images I made of some of the astonishing displays - a marble statue of a youthful Hercules (A.D. 69-98), a sarcophagus (tomb) decorated with forty human and animal figures carved in high relief. The central figure in the sarcophagus is that of the god Dionysos seated on a panther. He is surrounded by larger standing figures of sturdy youths who represent the four Seasons. Other prominent displays that I found fascinating are the beautiful glass bottles, the bronze Etruscan chariot from the 6th century BC and fresco panels from the bedroom of Boscoreale. It is truly amazing to see these works that are among the most complete to survive from antiquity.

Monday, April 16, 2007


Yesterday’s nor'easter did not dampen the spirit of the audience and the cast of the “jukebox musical” JERSEY BOYS at the August Wilson Theater. I saw the special Actors Fund performance last night and I enjoyed the show as much as I did the first time I saw this Tony Award winning Broadway musical. Slickly directed by Des McAnuff, JERSEY BOYS tells the story of the legendary FRANKIE VALLI and THE FOUR SEASONS, blue-collar boys from New Jersey who formed a singing group and reached the heights of rock 'n' roll stardom. They wrote their own songs, created their own style and sounds, and sold 175 million records worldwide. Although I am not familiar with all the songs, I really enjoyed the performance. The Four Seasons’ story contains plenty of drama, and book writers Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice tell the band’s strange-but-true story in a smart, fast-paced and entertaining manner. The original cast performed last night led by JOHN LLOYD YOUNG who won a Tony for Best Actor last year for playing the role of Valli. His brilliant acting, short stature, pretty Italian features, and a pretty falsetto make him the perfect Valli. His co-stars are all fine actors, too, especially Christian Hoff, Daniel Reichard, and J. Robert Spencer. The “industrial” set designed by Klara Zieglerova reflects the band's working-class New Jersey beginnings. Comic book images inspired by Roy Lichtenstein's pop art paintings, as well as the Ed Sullivan Show TV clips from the ‘60s were projected on huge screens.

The Actors Fund performance is “special” in that Broadway companies generously donate their time and talent by adding a ninth performance to benefit the Actors Fund. This Fund is a nationwide human services organization that helps all professionals in the performing arts. The Fund provides programs ans services for those who are in need, crisis and transition. For people who appreciate getting inspired, moved and entertained by performing artists, I think that this is a good organization to support.

Saturday, April 7, 2007


Earlier this afternoon, I made a quick visit to Macy’s at Herald Square to check out the ANNUAL FLOWER SHOW. Both the ground floor display windows that form the perimeter of the building and the entire first floor are decorated with thousands of flowers. The window displays are most wonderful and creative. I took photos of the window displays including the bird of paradise in brilliant colors adorning a mannequin as shown above. For 33 years, Macy's Herald Square has been home to one of the country's premier flower shows, featuring the world's most exotic blooms. The two-week event features more than a million flowers consisting of over 30,000 species of colorful flowers, plants and trees from six different continents.

Inside the store are displays featuring:

The African Garden is a blend of unique flowers and plants such as acacia and gerbera. The garden will also feature the giant giraffe and zebra topiaries in the Main Aisle.

The Black & White Garden showcases roses, tulips and daffodils that are shades of dark purples, deep reds and whites, the garden radiates a simplistic beauty. The Ramble Garden was inspired by plants and trees from New York's Central Park.

The Jardinière Garden displays an array of exotic pottery that is accented with stunning potted flowers. Each pot has a beautiful mini-planted bed of flowers including peonies, freesias, gardenias and snapdragons.

The Community Garden features a magnificent collection of gorgeous flowers including hydrangeas, azaleas and tulips.

Friday, April 6, 2007


April marks the 100-year anniversary of the gasoline-powered taxicab in New York. It will be celebrated with a special exhibit at the 2007 New York Auto Show which will include designs for new taxi stands as well as the taxis of the future. The NYC Taxi centennial celebration will include New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg proclaiming the dates of the auto show to be Taxi Week and screenings of taxi-related movies at the IFC Center on weekends in April. Last April 4th, the crown of the Empire State Building was lit in "commemorative yellow lighting."

In 1907, John Hertz, who founded the Yellow Cab Company, chose yellow because he had read a study conducted by the University of Chicago that indicated it was the easiest color to spot. Taxis have meters. The total cost depends on the distance traveled and time spent in the cab. Taxi fares are $2.50 for the first 1/3 mile, then 40 cents each 1/5 of a mile thereafter, and 40 cents per 120 seconds when cab is not moving; a 50cents night surcharge is in effect between 8pm and 6am; a $1 surcharge is in effect 4-8pm weekdays (not including holidays). Any bridge or tunnel tolls will be added to the total charge; drivers might ask that you pay the tolls as you go through them. Taxi drivers are usually given a 15% gratuity on top of the final metered fare. According to The Sun, of the 43,402 taxicab drivers, about 2,300 are American.

The top five countries of origin for NYC cabbies:
1. Bangladesh
2. Pakistan
3. India
4. Haiti
5. United States

Sunday, April 1, 2007


FIRE ESCAPE STAIRS are everyhere in Manhattan’s residential areas. I always thought that they are ugly, but can be interesting to look at when bright sunlight creates strong shadows. While I was walking home from my subway stop yesterday, fire escape stairs of an Upper Eastside apartment not far from where I live caught my attention. I took this photo against the sunlight for contrast and strong lines. This image for some reason reminds me of the set of West Side Story in a local theater production that I saw many years ago. A fire escape consists of a numerous horizontal platforms made of steel gratings, one for each story of a building, with steel ladders connecting them. During the summer, New Yorkers go to urban platforms like rooftops and balconies to relax and reflect, above the busy sidewalks. But for many working-class residents who live in older buildings without balconies or rooftop access, the humble fire escape is transformed into their makeshift porches in the sky.