Friday, August 31, 2007


The Rink Bar at Rockefeller Center is one of Manhattan’s hottest outdoor cocktail and dining place right on the ice area of Rockefeller Center's famous Ice Skating Rink, hence Rink Bar. This is a restaurant that is open for the late spring, summer and early fall months. The Rink is actually an extension of the Rock Center Cafe that has been in business for years on the north end of the ice. The Rockefeller Center is located at 5th Avenue between 49th and 50th Streets. The Rink Bar and restaurant’s website is at

Thursday, August 30, 2007


I took advantage of the beautiful morning we had last Sunday and went to the park. I captured these images of Central Park's Bethesda Fountain, one of my favorite spots to visit.

Bethesda Fountain
The Angel Of The Waters
[Unveiled 1873]
Sculpted: 1868
Sculptor: Emma Stebbins 1815-1882 • USA
Gift of New York City
The definitive crown jewel of Central Park, is one of the most famous and universally loved fountains in the world, Bethesda Fountain. Designed by Emma Stebbins, the centerpiece of the "Angel of the Waters" was the only sculpture commissioned as part of the original design of the Park naming her the first woman to receive a commission for a major work of art in New York City. Located on the lower level of Bethesda Terrace, this neoclassical winged female figure symbolizes and celebrates the purifying of the city’s water supply when the Croton Aqueduct opened in 1842 bringing fresh water to all New Yorkers. For this reason she carries a lily, the symbol of purity in one hand while her other hand extends outward as she blesses the water below. The stimulus for the idea of the "Angel of the Waters" comes from the Gospel of Saint John, Chapter 5, the story of an angel bestowing healing powers on the pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem. Beneath the eight-foot gilded bronze statue are our smaller four-foot figures symbolizing Temperance, Purity, Health, and Peace. The base of the fountain was designed by Calvert Vaux with detail work by Jacob Wrey Mould.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


In today's New York Post front page: RICH BITCH. NO, NOT LEONA - HER DOG JUST INHERITED $12M. New Yorker LEONA HELMSLEY, the hotel magnate also known as the “QUEEN OF MEAN” died Monday at age 87. During a tax evasion case, she was quoted as snarling “only little people pay taxes.” According to Leona's will, her 8 year-old female Maltese named TROUBLE gets $12M. A trustee is expected to supply cash for security, dog walkers and gourmet chow. She also left millions to her brother, two grandchildren, chauffer, her charitable trust, but none to two other grandchildren.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

@ the stagedoor: DAVID HYDE PIERCE

DAVID HYDE PIERCE posed for photos with his fans at the stage door of the Al Hirschfeld Theatre after a matinee performance of the new Broadway musical, CURTAINS last August 12. Mr. Pierce was born on April 3, 1959 in Saratoga Springs, New York. He is a Screen Actors Guild, Tony and Emmy Award winning American actor, best known for his role as psychiatrist Dr.Niles Crane on the popular sitcom FRASIER. Last June, he won the Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical for his role as Lt. Frank Cioffi. CURTAINS plays the Al Hirschfeld Theatre which is located at 302 West 45th Street.

Sunday, August 26, 2007


A scene in Times Square one Sunday afternoon. FREE HUGS, his sign says. But more often than not, tourists kept walking, or stared and frowned, searching for the catch. I didn't hug him. I just took his photo. The Free Hugs Campaign is an Internet-spread movement that appears to have started in June 2004, and was widely publicized in 2006 by a music video on YouTube (see below). The campaign involves individuals who offer hugs to strangers in public settings with the intention of making others feel better. The original organizer has stated in interviews that the purpose is not to get names, phone numbers, or dates. The video on YouTube was released on September 22, 2006, and by December 2006, had gained over 17 million views. According to the video summary, it was recorded in Sydney. In the video, the main character who is giving out hugs, "Juan Mann" walks through the Pitt Street Mall holding up a sign with the words FREE HUGS written on it. Music for the video is provided by Sick Puppies, an Australian band. Shimon Moore, the lead singer of the Sick Puppies who worked at the mall, shot the footage which he later compiled into a video for the song. Initial distrust of Juan's motives eventually gave way to a gradual increase of people willing to be hugged, with other huggers helping distribute them. In this age of social disconnectivity and lack of human contact, a hug may sometimes make a difference.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

NYC hearts MAC

This is a night time capture of the new Apple Store on Fifth Avenue in the city that never sleeps. The underground store features a distinctive 32-foot glass cube entrance which sits atop the public plaza in front of the General Motors building across from the Plaza Hotel and Bergdorf Goodman on 767 Fifth Avenue between 58th and 59th Streets, just steps away from the entrance to Central Park. All that is visible of the store from the street is its glass cube entrance. The cube contains no structural steel and instead relies on a system of glass beams and stainless-steel fittings. The design received a Business Week/Architectural Record Award in 2006.The glass cube provides wall-to-wall natural sunlight to the 10,000-square-foot store. The glass staircase spirals down the center of the cube onto the floor of the store. The building was innovatively designed by the architectural firm Bohlin Cywinski Jackson. The store is the first and only Apple store that is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. There are friendly and trained staff members who are available 24 hours a day to provide free face-to-face customer support on the store floor and along the combined 45-foot "Genius Bar," "iPod Bar" and "The Studio." Just like the Apple store in SOHO, the Fifth Avenue store offers free workshops and events on topics ranging from getting started to using the iPod, iPhone, iTunes, and iPhoto. Below is a video tour of the Fifth Avenue and SOHO stores in NYC, from "thecreativeone."

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


This is a colorful window display at KINOKUNIYA BOOKSTORE, New York City's largest Japanese bookstore, located at Rockefeller Center, 10 West 49th Street between Rockefeller Plaza and Fifth Avenue (Ph: 212-765-7766). In addition to the shop's main items, such as Japanese books, magazines, comics, music and English books on Japanese literature and culture, there is also a magnificent selection of imported pens and mechanical pencils, origami paper, stationery sets and coil-bound notebooks. Kinokuniya is geared toward Japanese residents and tourists, but they do cater to non-Japanese shoppers as well.

Monday, August 13, 2007


Last weekend, I spent part of my Sunday afternoon at the Al Hirschfeld Theater to see the new Kander and Ebb Broadway Musical called “CURTAINS” starring this year’s Tony Award Winner for Best Leading Actor in a Musical, DAVID HYDE PIERCE. Unlike "Spring Awakening," it was a big, old-fashioned show with great musical/dance numbers and some slapstick..and I loved it, even though I didn't care much for the music. Very entertaining. CURTAINS is set in 1959 in Boston at a pre-Broadway tryout of a new musical where it's literally 'curtains' for the leading lady who dies mysteriously onstage during the applause at the end of the show. The entire company are suspects and each has a motive, to be sorted out by a local detective (PIERCE), who is a fervent musical theatre fan. He allows the company to continue rehearsing while he conducts his murder investigation.

From the New York Times (Ben Brantley):

As befits a musical about a musical, “Curtains” — the talent-packed, thrill-starved production that opened last night at the Al Hirschfeld Theater — features an assortment of upbeat anthems to this business we call show. But the number that best captures the essence of the latest (and, sad to say, one of the last) of the collaborations from the songwriting team of John Kander and Fred Ebb is a low-key ballad called “Coffee Shop Nights.”

The song is performed, most engagingly, by David Hyde Pierce, who (this is the good news) steps into full-fledged Broadway stardom with his performance here. Mr. Hyde Pierce, playing Frank Cioffi, a Boston police detective investigating a murder within a doom-shadowed musical-comedy company in 1959, is describing the limited pleasures of being an unmarried cop.

“It’s a perfectly fine life,” he sings, with feeble conviction. “I’d give it” — and here he pauses, for a moment of honest self-assessment — “two cheers.” That’s more or less the feeling inspired by “Curtains.” I sincerely wish I could say otherwise.

The long road to Broadway for “Curtains” has been nearly as fraught as that of “Robbin’ Hood,” the show-within-the-show that keeps losing cast and crew members to untimely ends during an out-of-town tryout in Boston. Its original book writer, Peter Stone, died in 2003, and Mr. Ebb, the lyricist, died in 2004. Enter Rupert Holmes, the writer and composer of the Tony-winning “Mystery of Edwin Drood,” who is now credited with the script and (along with Mr. Kander) additional lyrics for “Curtains.”

Perhaps this switching of creative horses accounts for the enervation that seems to underlie the lavish expenditure of energy by a top-of-the line cast that includes Debra Monk, Karen Ziemba and Jason Danieley. Brightly packaged, with “Kiss Me, Kate”-style sets by Anna Louizos and costumes to match by the industrious William Ivey Long, “Curtains” lies on the stage like a promisingly gaudy string of firecrackers, waiting in vain for that vital, necessary spark to set it off.

A musical that doesn’t make sardonic reference to the history of musicals is a rarity in the age of “The Producers,” “Spamalot” and “The Drowsy Chaperone.” In relating the troubled backstage back story of “a new musical of the old West,” “Curtains” includes plenty of jokey visual and aural allusions to hits like “Oklahoma!,” “Annie Get Your Gun” and “42nd Street,” as well as to lesser-known curiosities like the singing version of “Destry Rides Again.”

But unlike “The Producers,” which ends its long New York run next month, “Curtains,” directed with a soft hand by Scott Ellis, fails to convey a passionate and bone-deep understanding of the shows it satirizes. (Rob Ashford’s lewd, crotch-centered choreography for the “Robbin’ Hood” sequences would have repulsed audiences of 1959.) What it really brings to mind is less vintage Broadway than vintage prime time.

As Lieutenant Cioffi lines up and quarantines the usual showbiz suspects after the production’s untalented leading lady is murdered on opening night, “Curtains” starts to feel like a theater-themed episode of “Murder She Wrote” or “Columbo,” caught in reruns on a sleepless night.

Like such television fare, “Curtains” features a charmingly homey detective, an improbable and convoluted plot and the mossy but glamorous archetypes you expect of an in-the-wings story: whip-cracking producer, demanding diva, effete director, suspiciously sweet understudy and the stage manager who knows too much. These elements are all presented with, at most, a quarter-turn of the screw of the conventional.

There’s something soothing, even soporific, about such unaggressive predictability. But I’m assuming — and maybe I’m wrong — that you don’t go to Broadway for lullabies.

It’s not as if the creative team doesn’t try hard to perk things up. The script fires out a tireless fusillade of jokes, in the apparent hope that a few of them are bound to hit their targets. Many fall to the ever-professional Ms. Monk, as Carmen Bernstein, a tough, battle-scarred producer.

“Sidney, I guess the reason you’re such a lowlife is because they built you so close to the ground,” Carmen says to her husband and business partner (Ernie Sabella). And there is much milking of the double entendres afforded by a murder in the plot: “Normally, I’d say over my dead body, but I don’t want to give anybody ideas.” Or: “Sweetie, the only thing you could arouse is suspicion.”


While it is tempting to consider living outside Manhattan where the cost of renting or owning an apartment or condo is much lower, I still think that the living in my rental faculty housing studio apartment (without a view) is a smart choice. I signed my lease today thinking about the proximity of my apartment to my workplace (a 10 minute walk) and the convenience to get to places I enjoy visiting without having to drive. Shown above is a still-life image with my window blinds as backdrop.

Friday, August 10, 2007


This is a tripodless capture of the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges viewed from South Street Seaport’s Pier 17. As the nation reacted with shock to the recent deadly bridge collapse in Minnesota, Gov. Eliot Spitzer ordered stepped-up inspections of 49 deck truss bridges in the state including NYC’s Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge, Queensboro Bridge, Marine Parkway Bridge, 145th Street Bridge, West 207th Street Bridge and bridges on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and Major Deegan Expressway. Some of the city bridges have been ranked only fair to poor in a recent survey by the Department of Transportation. The Brooklyn Bridge received a ranking of poor, and needs work on its ramps.

Thursday, August 9, 2007


Walking along the path north of Central Park's SHEEP MEADOW (Lilac Walk) last Sunday morning, I saw these beautiful crawling vines of morning glory with purple and pink flowers. Known scientifically as Ipomoea purpurea, the purple morning glory is native to Mexico and Central America. The plant entwines itself around structures with its viny stems, like the fence of the Sheep Meadow, growing to a height of 2-3 m tall. The leaves are heart-shaped. The flowers are trumpet-shaped, predominantly blue to purple, pink or white, about 3-6 cm diameter. What makes these flowers special is that they typically last for a single morning and die in the afternoon. New flowers bloom each day. The flowers usually start to fade a couple of hours before the petals curl up.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007


When I visited the new Time Warner Center, I captured this image of COLUMBUS CIRCLE from inside the building looking east down Central Park South. Central Park is on the left. I was unable to position myself in the center because of a makeshift structure on the third floor where I took the picture, which explains why the grid on the glass wall is slanted.
From Wikipedia:
COLUMBUS CIRCLE, named for Christopher Columbus, is a major landmark and point of attraction in the New York City borough of Manhattan. Completed in 1905 and renovated a century later, it is the site of the first traffic circle in the United States. It is located at the intersection of Broadway, Central Park West, Central Park South (59th Street), and Eighth Avenue, at the southwest corner of Central Park, with coordinates 40°46′05″N, 73°58′55″WCoordinates: 40°46′05″N, 73°58′55″W. The traffic circle was designed by William P. Eno, a businessman who pioneered many early innovations in road safety and traffic control, as part of Frederick Law Olmsted's vision for the park, which included a circle at Explorers Gate, its most important Eighth Avenue entrance. Now, as then, Columbus Circle is a major transportation hub. The M5, M7, M10, M20, and M104 buses all stop at Columbus Circle. The circle is a major hub for the subway, connecting the A, C, B, D, and 1 New York City Subway lines at 59th Street-Columbus Circle. The monument at the center, created by Italian sculptor Gaetano Russo, is the point at which distances to and from New York City are officially measured. It was erected as part of New York's 1892 commemoration of the 400th anniversary of Columbus' first voyage to the Americas. Constructed with funds raised by Il Progresso, an Italian-language newspaper, the monument consists of a marble statue of Columbus atop a 70-foot granite column decorated with bronze reliefs representing Columbus' ships: the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa María. Its pedestal features an angel holding a globe.

Monday, August 6, 2007


While strolling in Central Park one Sunday morning, I took a photo of a saxophone player, one of the many street performers/musicians at the park. In many areas of the English-speaking world, performing live in public places to entertain people to solicit donations or tips is called BUSKING. Buskers may do musical performance, dance, acrobatics, balloon modeling, juggling, magic, street sketching and painting, puppeteering, mime, or the now popular variation of mime, performing as a "living statue." Manhattan offers countless venues for buskers to perform: parks, subways, tourist spots, outside stadiums, Times Square and streets. But Central Park has some advantages those other locations can’t match. Visitors to the park are out to relax and are more receptive to hearing music and being entertained. Park visitors are encouraged to drop a dollar or two in the donation hat if they hear or see something they enjoy.

Saturday, August 4, 2007


In almost every corner in residential areas of Manhattan, one can find a corner delicatessen (deli), usually Korean-owned, and open 24 hours. In addition to prepared food and grocery items, these stores sell beautiful flowers including the sunflower during the summer months. Above is an image of a bouquet of festive sunflowers, which I purchased from our local Korean corner deli on the Upper Eastside. The term "sunflower" refers to all plants of the genus Helianthus, many of which are perennials. The sunflower is an annual, erect, broadleaf plant with a strong taproot and prolific lateral spread of surface roots. Stems are usually round early in the season, angular and woody later in the season, and normally unbranched. Sunflower leaves are phototropic and will follow the sun's rays with a lag of 120 behind the sun's azimuth. This property has been shown to increase light interception and possibly photosynthesis. The sunflower head is not a single flower but is made up 1,000 to 2,000 individual flowers joined at a common receptacle.

Thursday, August 2, 2007


It was a delight to see the new Broadway musical called XANADU at the Helen Hayes Theatre (240 W. 44th St) earlier this evening. The show is a musical comedy/parody of the 1980 cult, roller skate-disco-themed movie of the same name starring Olivia Newton-John. With the book written by Douglas Bean Carter, Xanadu tells of the love between a goddess (played by the wonderful KERRY BUTLER) and the mortal she inspires (CHEYENNE JACKSON). In a line from the show: "This is like children's theater for 40-year-old gay people!"Even though I never saw the movie, it was not difficult to come on board with the tone of the show from the start. All the cast members were great and funny, but the comedic talent of MARY TESTA and JACKIE HOFFMAN who played the most prominent sisters of Butler's character, were a big hit with the audience. What I didn't get though was having a few dozen audience members on stage, as in a couple of other musicals I saw recently.

The reviews:

New York Times - "Can a musical be simultaneously indefensible and irresistible? Why, yes it can. Witness “Xanadu,” the outlandishly enjoyable stage spoof of the outrageously bad movie from 1980 about a painter and his muse who find love at a roller disco in Los Angeles."

Newsday - "The 90-minute show, which kicked off the new season last night at the Helen Hayes Theatre, is a grand little piece of smart dumb fun."

Post - "Xanadont"

Variety - "Fresh off "The Little Dog Laughed," Douglas Carter Beane has taken the unpromising clay of Richard Danus and Marc Rubel's screenplay and molded it not only into an engagingly goofy spoof of the film itself but also a witty takedown of the Broadway creative climate. Sure, the book scenes occasionally stall, but what looked on paper to be one-note sketch fodder turns out to be an unexpectedly sustained and refreshingly unassuming crowd-pleaser."

Daily News - "Kerry Butler, so good in "Hairspray" and less so in "Little Shop of Horrors," is simply out of this world as Kira. She has gorgeous pipes, great comic flair and puts on a fab faux Aussie accent that could make dingoes howl for more."

NY1 - "And while it's awfully light fare for Broadway, considering the amount of laughs you get per dollar spent, it's a comedy bargain."

Associated Press - ""Xanadu," the jaw-droppingly awful 1980 film that sank Olivia Newton-John's movie career yet couldn't kill roller disco, has been turned into a fast, funny little stage musical."

Newark Star-Ledger - "Sure, "Xanadu" makes "Mamma Mia" look like Shakespeare, but there's strange magic in such madness."

Sun - "Most of the cast members — although, sadly, not Mr. Roberts — spend a decent portion of the show whizzing around the tiny stage in roller skates. (At a recent performance, nearly one-third of the tiny cast was on the injured list.) Making this even riskier is the presence of a few dozen audience members sprinkled around the stage, along with musical director Eric Stern and his tiny but potent orchestra, which does a remarkable job replicating E.L.O.'s synth-drenched sound with just four musicians."

Hollywood Reporter - "Unfortunately, such self-consciousness is not likely to increase your enjoyment of this slipshod enterprise, which belongs more in a fringe festival than on Broadway. Despite running a mere 90 minutes, it quickly proves wearisome in its one-note camp attitude."

Globe and Mail - "The Tony Awards are still 11 months away, but already we can declare that the hands-down winner of the Truth in Advertising trophy is the fizzy new musical which opened last night at the Helen Hayes Theatre heralded by this marketing tagline: "Xanadu. On Broadway. Seriously." For in those four words can be found the sum of this exercise in summer camp: its self-conscious if bold confidence, its wispy tongue-in-cheek charm, the unlikely nature of its achievement, and the theatre-going public's generally incredulous response to the concept."

amNewYork video review - "Very good for the summer in a happy mindless way."

New York magazine reader review - "If, like us, you see it while messed up, the production is beyond marvelous - just make sure you're not seated on the stage; you'll miss some nifty visual effects. And resist the urge to stand up and dance, as you'll piss off the folks behind you. My buddy was having such a good time that she kept flying the devil horn salute and I had to hold her arms down a few times."