Friday, November 30, 2007


I made this image of ice skaters at the Rockefeller Center recently. Ice skating at Rockefeller Center is a quintessential New York City winter experience for tourists and locals alike. Located in the center of the complex of buildings between 47th and 50th Streets and 5th and 6th Avenues, the Ice Skating Rink at Rockefeller Center first opened on Christmas Day in 1936. The rink can accommodate approximately 150 skaters at a time and the rink is 122 feet long and 59 feet wide.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


While numerous apparel retailers reported weak third-quarter sales, Abercrombie & Fitch Co recently reported a 15 % increase in quarterly profit, helped by strength in A & F chain of stores. Last Sunday, there was a long waiting line just to get in the A & F flagship store on Fifth Avenue.

From the New York Times:
Abercrombie said third-quarter sales rose 13 percent to $973.9 million. Same-store sales, a key retail gauge that measures sales at stores open at least a year, increased 1 percent.
Same-store sales rose 3 percent at both its namesake Abercrombie & Fitch chain and its Abercrombie children's chain but fell 1 percent at its Hollister chain and 7 percent at its RUEHL stores.
Price increases on its merchandise and lower losses of inventory theft or shoplifting helped offset higher markdowns compared with a year earlier.
The company said its RUEHL stores, which first opened in 2004 and are geared toward 22- to 30-year-olds, are not performing as well as it would like, but it is still "very bullish" on the brand.
The retailer said its brands "are not intended to appeal to everyone," which limits expansion potential, but it is looking at international markets to bolster its growth.
"While we are less than halfway to full potential from a store expansion standpoint domestically, we are increasing focus on expanding the A&F and Hollister brands on an international basis," Kramer said.
He said the company is pursuing projects that have the highest returns on capital and the lowest risk.
Abercrombie will open a Tokyo flagship store in late 2009, its first store in Asia.
The retailer also plans to introduce a new concept, what it is calling a "fifth concept," in January with the opening of four stores.
For the second half of its fiscal year, it forecast earnings per share of $3.63 to $3.67. It said the low end of the outlook is based on flat same-store sales for the fourth quarter.
For its current fiscal year, it expects to increase its gross square-footage roughly 10 percent, mainly through the addition of six new Abercrombie & Fitch stores, 25 new Abercrombie stores, 58 new Hollister Co stores, seven new RUEHL stores, and four stores of its new concept.
(Reporting by Nicole Maestri; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and John Wallace)

Monday, November 26, 2007


On a beautiful Sunday afternoon at Central Park with strollers, dog walkers and athletes and golden autumn leaves as backdrop.

Sunday, November 25, 2007


Earlier today, we had lunch at one of Manhattan's historic restaurants, CAFE DES ARTISTES, located at 1 West 67th Street between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue on Manhattan's Upper West Side. The Café which opened in 1917, is known for its lushly romantic and whimsical setting - including the famous nude paintings of illustrator and portrait painter, Howard Chandler Christy. Christy lived next door to the restaurant at the Hotel Des Artistes, a beautiful gothic residential building.

The menu reflects the best of European bistro cooking, serving such dishes as Steak Frites, Pan-roasted Duckling, Salmon Five Ways & Pot au Feu with Marrow Bones. The cafe's website is at

Friday, November 23, 2007


SAKS FIFTH AVENUE recently premiered its new holiday LED Snowflake Light Show at its flagship Fifth Avenue store, together with the unveiling of the legendary holiday windows. On this Black Friday, I made some images of the Philips Electronic LED snowflake lights which are composed of 72,000 lights and 50 unique snowflakes reaching 10 stories high of the storefront.

Facts about the LED snowflakes lights according to

-- 50 fully programmable, unique snowflakes reaching ten stories high
(36-8'-0"; 14-20'-0") inspired by William "Snowflake" Bentley's
snowflake photos from the 1920's.
-- The project required 40,440 LED modules, strung at a length of
13,480 ft., or 2.55 miles, to cover 36 eight- foot diameter and 14
twenty-foot diameter snowflakes.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Thanksgiving Day in New York is always associated with the annual MACY'S THANKSGIVING DAY PARADE. This year, SHREK and SUPER CUTE HELLO KITTY are the newest addition to the other giant balloon characters in the parade. Unseasonably warm weather helped draw hordes of families to the parade route to see the celebrities, floats, helium balloons, marching bands and roller-blading clowns.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Times Square NEW YEAR'S EVE BALL's 100th birthday

On display at the ground floor of MACY'S at HEARALD SQUARE is the new TIMES SQUARE NEW YEAR'S EVE BALL featuring a "greener" technology, the use of multicolored energy-efficient light-emitting diodes or LED. This is the actual ball that will descend from a pole atop One Times Square to welcome 2008. This is the New Year's Eve Ball's 100th birthday. I took some photos of the newly unveiled ball to showcase its color capabilities.

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Although the Broadway stagehands are still on strike, Off-Broadway and a handful of Broadway shows are playing, and are a smart option for strike-stranded theatre fans. Last Sunday, we caught a matinee performance of an Off-Broadway "comedy-thriller" called DIE MOMMIE DIE at the New World Stages (340 West 50th Street). The play stars accomplished playwright and drag performer CHARLES BUSCH who also wrote the play.

Ungallant though it may be, it’s impossible not to speculate on just how old Angela Arden is. Miss Arden is the irresistibly evil has-been heroine of “Die Mommie Die!,” Charles Busch’s happy play about haute homicide in Beverly Hills, and age is definitely an issue for her. In the production that opened last night at New World Stages, Angela (played by Mr. Busch) has to be on the shady side of 50, a time when a gal like her looks into the mirror and sees nothing looking back, “just hair and makeup and some very important jewelry.” It’s a troubled age for a highly sexed former star teetering on the comeback trail.
On the other hand, it’s a terrific age for a drag queen who wants to capture the essence of a Hollywood queen who has turned into a Halloween mask of her former self. Hair, makeup, some very important jewelry: That’s all an enterprising actor needs to become the image of a glamour goddess in her twilight years.
Well, that, and an encyclopedic knowledge of, and bone-deep affinity for, the late-career films of Lana Turner, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis and Susan Hayward, as well as a host of B-picture actresses who rarely surface on Netflix. As Angela, Mr. Busch — who also wrote and starred in the 2003 film version of “Die Mommie Die!” — doesn’t specifically imitate any of those screen sirens. Yet he manages to embody them all.
Mr. Busch has been putting on transformational eyelashes and bras for three decades now, creating a bright and surprisingly illuminating road map of the phases of female stardom in the woman-eating film industry of yore.
He has been a ditsy ingénue (“Psycho Beach Party”), an exotic woman of the world (“Shanghai Moon”), an earnest emoter at the peak of her respectable fame (“The Lady in Question”) and a claw-wielding sex kitten who never grows old (“Vampire Lesbians of Sodom,” the 1980s Off Broadway hit that made him famous).
Sadly, no one in real life — not even Cher — has replicated the blood-sucking rejuvenation process from “Vampire Lesbians.” So it makes sense that Mr. Busch, now in his early 50s (shhh!), has turned to the last working years of the final generation of leading ladies who came up through the ranks of the studio system and found themselves stranded by middle age.
Autumnal stars who learned to substitute exaggerated style for youthful charm have always been a favorite of female impersonators, for obvious reasons. But in “Die Mommie Die!” Mr. Busch, while honoring the Kabuki-like traditions of his trade, avoids the strident masochism (and — dare one say it? — misogyny) that often accompanies such masquerades.
Directed by Carl Andress, “Die Mommie Die!,” which runs a peppy 90 minutes, is infused with the good-natured comic brio that has made Mr. Busch a drag artist whom middle America can embrace. Even theatergoers who don’t catch the copious old-movie quotations, verbal and physical, should enjoy Mr. Busch’s hair-trigger comic timing and rubbery mugging, which brings to mind vintage Lucille Ball. (The association is underscored by Mr. Busch’s choice of red wigs, designed by Katherine Carr.)
The plot is a puréed pastiche of the 1960s diva-with-an-ax flicks that stars like Davis, Crawford and Tallulah Bankhead were reduced to appearing in (“What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?,” “Strait-Jacket” and “Die! Die! My Darling!”), with a dollop of Lana Turner weepies like “Madame X.” Like those movies “Die Mommie Die!” uses luridness as a high-contrast frame for its star’s great-lady gentility. It also ingeniously makes the implicit case that such films were all about female identity crises.
Angela, a popular 1940s songbird whose career hasn’t been on track since the flop of her costume musical, “The Song of Marie Antoinette,” finds herself in 1967 devoted principally to shopping and playing with her aging boy toy, Tony Parker (Chris Hoch). These pursuits are encumbered by her inconvenient husband, Sol Sussman (Bob Ari), a Stanley Krameresque producer of message pictures whose idea of dream casting is Elizabeth Taylor as Billie Holiday.
Angela has no compunctions about knocking off the old killjoy. But she has to hoodwink her disapproving, daddy-loving daughter, Edith (Ashley Morris); her cross-dressing, mommy-loving son, Lance (Van Hansis); and her Nixon-loving, Bible-quoting housekeeper, Bootsie Carp (Kristine Nielsen). In carrying out her crime, which involves a giant enema, Angela finds she also must wrestle with sordid shadows from her past, as the jokes fly by in a delirious hit-or-miss parade.
The film of “Die Mommie Die!,” directed by Mark Rucker, imitated the moody, cheesy lighting, colors and camera angles of period low-budget shockers. A stage version demands a more metaphoric approach, which the technical team here delivers in effective psychedelic style.
The entire physical production has a slickness unusual for Mr. Busch’s cinematic spoofs for the stage, from the opening photomontage of headlines and photographs to the tasteful vulgarity of Michael Anania’s spot-on rendering of a Beverly Hills home. In the film, which featured Jason Priestley and Frances Conroy, the archly artificial acting style matched the physical style.
The performances in the stage version are bigger and cruder, closer to quick-sketch impersonations, which offer pleasures of their own. (I especially enjoyed Ms. Morris’s doom-speaking mod-Electra daughter.) But there’s a disconnect between the rough-hewn improvisational spirit of the cast and the visual smoothness of their surroundings. The homemade, let’s-put-on-a-show look of Mr. Busch’s earlier work is better suited to such shenanigans.
After a point, though, I forgot this nagging discrepancy and relaxed into the entertaining spectacle of Mr. Busch slithering, bouncing and stomping through a series of pitch-perfect hostess outfits (designed by Michael Bottari and Ronald Case); curling his lip and narrowing his eyes in staggered sequences of freeze-frame attitudes; and talking really dirty in the voice of a grander-than-thou dame.
Enjoy it while you can. Mr. Busch belongs to a venerable downtown-born comic tradition that will some day seem as distant as vaudeville does to us today. The relatively dressed-down naturalism of contemporary movie actresses seems unlikely to produce a new generation of Busches. Who, after all, could make baroque art out of channeling Julia Roberts

Monday, November 19, 2007


Last Sunday evening, MACY'S lighted up HERALD SQUARE and unveiled its holiday window displays. Broadway and movie star ANIKA NONI ROSE performed during the traditional event.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


These are images of interesting window displays of two lighting stores, one in SOHO and another on the Upper East Side.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


These are two of my photos from my last visit to the New York Botanical Garden to see "Kiku: the Art of the Japanese Chrysanthemum." Dominating the conservatory courtyard pool and serenely floating on the blue water were leaves of Victoria amazonica, the world's largest water lily. The leaves can span several feet.

Monday, November 12, 2007


American flags adorn the Rockefeller Center in honor of VETERANS DAY.

From Wikipedia:
Veterans Day is an American holiday honoring military veterans. Both a federal holiday and a state holiday in all states, it is celebrated on the same day as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day in other parts of the world, falling on November 11, the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I. (Major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 with the German signing of the Armistice.)

Sunday, November 11, 2007


I took some photos of Broadway stagehands who have been on STRIKE since Saturday, November 10, shutting down more than two dozen plays and musicals. The photos above show scenes in front of the St. James Theatre and the Sam S. Shubert Theatre on 44th Street last Sunday, day 2 of the strike. The first show to be affected was "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical," a holiday attraction for families that had an early 11 a.m. matinee. The League of American Theatres and Producers and Local One, the stagehands union have been in negotiations for more than three months, wrangling over work rules and staffing requirements, particularly requirements governing the expensive process of setting up a show. Local One, which has been working without a contract since the end of July, was told Friday by its parent union, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, to begin the walkout on Saturday.

The producers’ league and the stagehands’ union do not appear near a settlement.

From the New York Times:

In dueling press conferences this weekend — the union’s, which had a rally atmosphere at St. Malachy’s church on West 49th Street yesterday, and the league’s, a more straightforward affair at league headquarters on West 47th Street on Saturday — each side accused the other of forcing the situation to the strike point.

Members of the League of American Theaters and Producers highlighted examples of what they called “featherbedding,” describing rules that require a certain number of stagehands to be present, even when there isn’t work for all of them.

“We cannot sign another contract that retains these provisions,” Richard Frankel, a producer and general manager, said on Saturday.

Yesterday, James J. Claffey Jr., the president of Local 1, the stagehands’ union, said he would not resume negotiating if league officials continued to treat the stagehands with disrespect — for example, by using what he considers loaded words like “featherbedding.”

“We are not coming to the table,” he said, “with attacks on my local.”

A handful of Broadway shows are not be affected by the strike, as they are playing in theaters with separate Local One contracts. They are "Young Frankenstein," "Mary Poppins," "Xanadu," "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee," "Mauritius," "Pygmalion," "The Ritz" and "Cymbeline." Off-Broadway shows will also keep running.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


Last Thursday night we saw Terrence McNally's play called THE RITZ at Studio 54. Starring ROSIE PEREZ and KEVIN CHAMBERLAIN, the comedy follows Gaetano Proclo (played by Chamberlain) who fears that his mobster brother-in-law is after him and hides out in a place where he thinks no one will find him. The place turns out to be a gay bathhouse. Confusion followed as his fantasy persona (he claims he's a Broadway producer) becomes the focus of everyone's attention. The play was funny (at times) and the performances by ROSIE PEREZ and KEVIN CHAMBERLAIN were wonderful. Other cast members include BROOKS ASHMANSKAS, ASHLIE ATKINSON, and adult film star turned "stage actor" RYAN IDOL. Overall, I thought that there was something lacking in this revival even after the second act.

From the New York Times’ Ben Brantley:
Seeing Rosie Perez’s act as a talent-free chanteuse in the sporadically funny revival of “The Ritz,” which opened last night at Studio 54, provides the guiltless bliss of eating a slab of vegetarian foie gras that tastes like the real thing. When Ms. Perez sings — off-key, off-cue and off-balance, but with a menacing determination that threatens nasty reprisals if you don’t applaud — you know you’re in the hands of a woman who appreciates just how good bad can be.
When “The Ritz” first opened in 1975, establishing Terrence McNally as a high-profile playwright, its selling point was that it was bad in another way. That’s bad as in “naughty, naughty.” Set in a gay bathhouse, “The Ritz” arrived on Broadway at a moment when gay culture seemed to embody the most advanced evolution of the sexual revolution. Heterosexual theatergoers who never made it to Plato’s Retreat or wife-swapping parties could dip a vicarious toe into baths where you went to get dirty.
Well, yesterday’s dirt, as is often the case, has become today’s dust. This latest revival of “The Ritz” (the first, since an ill-fated stunt production at the discothèque Xenon in 1983) is cute, cuddly and often oddly inert. (There was also an unloved film version in 1976.) Stripped of the amyl-nitrite-scented clouds of novelty that clung to it 32 years ago, the show is exposed as a friendly, conventional sitcom for the stage. And though it features ace performances by Ms. Perez and by Kevin Chamberlin as a visitor from the planet of the heteros, Joe Mantello’s direction rarely revs up to the dizzy velocity that farce demands.
Mr. Chamberlin is Gaetano (Guy) Proclo, a sanitation company president who is the play’s protagonist and, yes, its straight man. On the run from his homicidal brother-in-law, the corpulent Guy seeks refuge in the seedy, steamy Ritz. There he attracts the unwelcome attentions of a chubby chaser (Patrick Kerr), who wants to jump Guy’s well-padded bones, and of Googie Gomez (Ms. Perez), the club’s singer in residence, who mistakes Guy for a theater producer.
Guy is also being stalked by Michael Brick (Terrence Riordan), a virile-looking private detective with the voice of Mickey Mouse, and by the end of the first act Guy’s spitting-mad brother-in-law (Lenny Venito). Mistaken identities abound, as do silly disguises, unexpected alliances and Mack Sennett-style chases, all spiced with the ethnic humor known as Gay.
The script has been retooled slightly. The advent of AIDS in the early 1980s dampened for many years the prospect of reviving a frothy piece set in a place devoted to the exchange of bodily fluids. Mr. Mantello’s version does its best to banish mortal specters by presenting the baths as a sort of abstract farce machine, populated by benign cartoon characters.
Jokes about sexually transmitted diseases have been eliminated. The musical background has been pushed forward chronologically to allow the inclusion of Donna Summer-era disco hits. And the parade of bath-towel-wearing gay stereotypes who slink, swagger and sashay through Scott Pask’s multitiered red set seem less like sexual predators than quaint, and sometimes perfectly sculptured objets d’art. (You get the feeling that what they really do in the private rooms is compare exercise regimens.)
Without erotic frissons, the heart of “The Ritz” reads mushy instead of racy. Guy is befriended by Chris (the adept Brooks Ashmanskas in a part improbably created on Broadway by F. Murray Abraham), a kindly sexual compulsive who maps out the lay of the bathhouse for Guy and teaches him that homosexuals are people too. Chris is a forerunner of the naughty-but-nice gay jester, who has become a staple on prime-time comedy. Mr. Ashmanskas plays him with self-delighted charm. But for anyone who watched “Will & Grace,” Chris will seem like a rerun.
The appealing Mr. Chamberlin (“Dirty Blonde,” “Seussical”) exudes a sweet, passive quality that is softer than the embattled masculinity of Jack Weston, who originated the part, and that fits in with Mr. Mantello’s conception of a family-style “Ritz.” This Guy is ultimately an open-minded mensch, which fortunately doesn’t prevent Mr. Chamberlin from registering curiosity, shock and dismay with disarming comic finesse.
But for “The Ritz” to come across as more than a sanitized tour of Ye Olde Gay Land, it needs a furious momentum it never achieves here. The show has the basic ingredients for farcical frenzy, including a large cast and a whole lot of doors. Yet the chase sequences feel more dutiful than hysterical. We’re given the wiring of farce but, for the most part, none of the wild electricity.
The exception is Ms. Perez, who makes the ambitious, angry Googie an electrical force indeed. Googie was created by Rita Moreno, who won a Tony for the part, and Ms. Moreno is really all that I remember from seeing “The Ritz” in college. It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime comic turns that you don’t expect to see replicated or matched.
Ms. Perez, however, comes close, endowing Googie with a rabid self-belief and willpower that lasso your attention and hold it tight. More than the boys in the club, this gal (and don’t mistake her for a transvestite, or you’ll be sorry) burns with the conviction of her desire. That’s the desire to be famous. And it turns Googie’s misbegotten medley of show tunes, which concludes the first act, into a few of the funniest minutes on Broadway.

Thursday, November 8, 2007


I recently attended a neuroscience meeting in beautiful San Diego, California. With a point-and-shoot camera, I made photographs of some sights at the Town and Country Resort and Convention Center where I stayed. Above are some of my favorite images.

Friday, November 2, 2007


These are some of the BONSAI displays at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. BONSAI is the art of dwarfing trees or plants and developing them into an aesthetically appealing shape by growing, pruning and training them in containers according to prescribed techniques.The exhibit can be seen together with Kiku: the art of the Japanese chrysanthemum until November 18th.

Thursday, November 1, 2007


During last night's VILLGE HALLOWEEN PARADE, hundreds of puppets, 53 bands of different types of music, dancers and artists, and thousands of other New Yorkers in creative costumes converged on Sixth Avenue. Above are some of the sights at the parade.