August 31, 2009

California Burning



There are some serious wildfires roaring through the Valley out in LA. My friend Yuri sent me this apocalyptic photo of the view from the ocean. The top pic, which looks like a surrealist painting, is from the TIMES roundup of the wildfires. Finally, there's also this video which is a time lapse of the fire set to the music of Grizzly Bear.

Time Lapse Test: Station Fire from Eric Spiegelman on Vimeo.

August 28, 2009

The LIRR Turns 175 But Doesn't Look A Day Over 160

If you ever want to amaze your friends at a cocktail party, ask them how old the Long Island Railroad is. Most people will date it to the post-War housing boom and you'll get something in the range of 50 years...maybe even less if you ask a young man on Fire Island. Well, the astounding and true answer is that it's 175 years old as of this year. And the reason it's so damn old is pretty interesting.

The LIRR was originally set up not as a commuter railroad but as a freight and passenger route from Brooklyn to Boston, via a ferry at Greenport. Back in 1834, Long Island was just a bunch of farms and fishing communities....the idea of commuting was nearly 100 years off. But Brooklyn was the second largest city in America and there was no bridge/tunnel routes to get from there to Manhattan or Connecticut or anywhere north. So a rail route was devised to cut straight through LI as opposed to going up the Connecticut coast which would have been a longer, more indirect route. And thus the LIRR was born as a train to get to Boston. Who knew, right?


Something other interesting facts; the railroad was founded only 9 years after the concept of a railroad was created, it is the oldest surviving US railroad under its original charter, and it's currently the largest commuter railroad in the country with over 700 miles of track. To read more about it (as they used to say on CBS), check out the LIRR 175th anniversary webpage, which has some fun informational videos too. There is also an exhibit about the way the LIRR shaped the Island currently up at the NYC Transit Museum, one of my favorite non-touristy tourist spots, located in downtown Brooklyn.

Finally
, to celebrate their quartoseptcentennial the LIRR are giving away birthday gifts too...you can enter a monthly drawing for Long Island-related freebies, like a free night at the Sag Harbor Inn. So you go LIRR....keep on railing!

August 27, 2009

On The Rocks With A Twist

There was an article in yesterday's NY TIMES dining section about not cocktails but ice. That's right, ice is the new black when it comes to fancy drinking. The main focus of the article is a Japanese mix-master Kazuo Uyeda (pictured) who has created his own particular style of mixing called the "Hard Shake". It sounds exciting, right...but does it make a better cocktail? The article calls in some scientific experts to meausure the temperature of drinks hard shaken or stirred and the results are surprising. That's science for you!

Earlier in the week, I went out for fancy birthday cocktails at
Pegu Club on Houston. They were doing some hard shaking there and the results were intense...as was the price at $13 per drink. I recommend the Old Fashioned, which was as billed. There was a lovely mint julepy thing too that smelled like a fresh cut lawn in Atlanta. Overall, this place was a nice treat and lovely to go on any night other than Friday or Saturday where reseverations are necesssary.

August 26, 2009

The Male Chastity Belt

OK ladies--do you have a husband whose commitment is not exactly monogamous? Do you want to keep that man in line? Well now you CAN--with the Male Chastity Belt!!! Alright--I know this sounds like I'm doing an SNL-style commercial spoof but this is actually a real product that apparently is selling to women desperate for a solution to their hubby's dalliances. Or maybe they're just getting it for good kinky fun.

The most popular model seems to be the CB-2000, priced from $70 up to $200, for the designer line (pictured above). It's made of plastic so it won't set of airport sensors...perfect for those long business trips! Knowing the male anatomy quite intimately, I'm not quite sure how these things will really stay on. And, if you were determined enough, I'm thinking it would be easy to snip that tiny little lock anyway? But then your wife would find out and if she's spent this much money on a cage for your penis, she is bound to be super-pissed.

My favorite part of their website though was the page with the
heading "Why?" Well, they have quite an answer. It's all about how the chastity belt puts "you" (the wife that is) back in control of your relationship now that you literally hold the one and only key to your husband's sexual satisfaction. Here's an choice excerpt: " Kiss him passionately, tease him, deny his sexual pleasure as long as possible. The results of this denial will be extraordinary!" Yeah, the results might also be 1st degree murder.

Below is a YouTube video I found of another crazy-looking chastity device. This one is made of stainless steel and has a diamond in the tip. I'm guessing the diamond is meant to show how much you care. Awwwww....



August 25, 2009

Rehoboth Beach Slideshow

Last week, I went on a Proustian tour of my childhood vacation spot, Rehoboth Beach. After 30-odd years, the town remains surprisingly unchanged, especially along the Boardwalk area in the heart of town. Here's some pics from my trip down there....enjoy!

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August 24, 2009

$#!@?* Profane Animals

I recently posted about the LOLcats website/phenomenon spawning a new musical, getting it's premiere in NYC this month as part of the Fringe Festival. Well, that website has apparently spawned a newer and somewhat more profane website entitled Fucking Delicious.

Like LOL Cats there are plenty of cute shots of animals doing cute things, though on this site it's always involving eating. However, the captions are filled with expletives and can be hilarious. For example, the photo above is captioned as follows: "
Food! … Foooood! … FOOOOOODDDDD!! … Food! … FOOOD! … Come on you fucker let’s get this feeding frenzy fucking started!"

So...if you have fallen out of your chair howling with laughter, you can check it every day for new pics and even submit your own profane animals. If, however, this is all too much for your genteel sensibilities, I would suggest checking out LOLcats partner site...for dogs.

August 20, 2009

NetPix: Close Encounters of the Third Kind

OK--so even though I'm posting this as a NetPix, I have to be honest and tell you that I actually saw this on the big screen. It was the movie at Bryant Park on Monday night. It was also the first time I'd seen the film in some 20-odd years. I remember being fascinated by CEOTTK when I first saw it as a kid so I was curious to see what I'd think of it now as an adult and also a filmmaker.

In some ways, even though I know what happens in the end, I found CEOTTK even more fascinating this time around for a number of reasons. First off, I didn't know who Francois Truffaut was in the 70's and seeing one of the true geniuses of cinema in a Spielberg movie playing a French scientist is borderline bizarre. Then there's the fact that CEOTTK boasts not just one but two Spielberg moms, Melinda Dillon (who was nominated for an Oscar for her role) and Terri Garr (who is the more traditional of the two, harried and unintentionally funny). The film features some gorgeous cinematography by Vilmos Zsigmond (DELIVERANCE, MCCABE & MRS. MILLER), not to mention Laszlo Kovacs who shot some of the pickups.

As if that isn't enough to keep a film geek occupied, the movie also serves as something of a rough draft for two two future Spielberg classics; RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK and, of course, ET. The discovery of the WWII planes in the desert and the scene of Indian's chanting the famous alien call play like outtakes from RAIDERS. However, the similarities to ET are more obvious in that CEOTTK shares a similar story but tells it from the adult's perspective. In some ways, this is a much more adult film than ET in terms of its intensity and darkness. The famous abduction scene of Melinda Dillon's child (one of Spielberg's personal favorites) is both beautiful and horrific at the same time, much more scary than I recall the first time around. Also, watching Richard Dreyfuss become increasingly obsessed with his
encounter of the second kind to the point that his marriage starts to fall apart is actually painful to watch. His wife and kids eventually move out when he starts building a replica of Devil's Tower in the living room. If there is any flaw in this movie, it's that this sequence goes on a little too long. We sorta get it after the first couple of shrubs go flying through the kitchen window.

What was groundbreaking about this film at the time of its release is that, up to that point, mainstream Hollywood movies about alien visitation usually did not end so well. Spielberg was one of the first to posit that maybe visitors from outer space would not arrive with their guns blazing or harboring some secretive plot to take over the planet and/or destroy mankind. This is a theme which gets an even more thorough working out in ET as the alien actually serves as the romantic lead in a boy-meets-alien, boy-loses-alien love story. And it makes the Spielberg's later super-violent WAR OF THE WORLDS look like an even more mystifying mess.

There are three versions of the CEOTTK available on DVD...from 1977, 1980 and 1997. All of these are part of the "Ultimate Edition" which is on Netflix. I would recommend watching the most recent cut, which is the one screened at Byrant Park. Even Spielberg himself has admitted that the special edition from 1980, with footage inside the mother ship, was a mistake.
Finally, an interesting fact to consider when watching this sci-fi classic: Spielberg's inspiration for the film was the song "When You Wish Upon A Star" and he desperately wanted to use it somewhere in the film but was denied by Disney. Strangely enough, the aliens' call, written by John Williams, has a similar tonal progression to that song...not exactly a rip-off but clearly a homage of sorts.

August 19, 2009

Everything I Know I Learned In Band Camp

That is a summary of my life in 8 words that I was recently asked to create for my new author page on Simon & Schuster's website. I also had to answers tons of crazy/embarrassing questions about everything from my greatest fear to my pet peeve. Actually, my pet peeve was answering questions about myself. (ha) But I have to say, it was prettty fun filling it out, though it did take a while. There were something like 30 questions and I still have a few more to get to. There is also an "author doodle" which I need to work on with something other than my laptop. If you're interested, some other S&S authors have done some nice artsy work w/their drawings...you can check them out on the main author page.

August 18, 2009

Mad Men Goes A Little Gay

So the season opener of MAD MEN had a little action for married gay Salvatore (played by out actor Bryan Batt). Too bad it was a case of gay-us interupptus. But still...that bellhop! Whoa. Things are really gonna get interesting this season. Stay tuned....

August 17, 2009

Vandam Puts the "Damn" Back in Nightlife

I am not a big club goer in general but, as a lot of my friends know, I love to dance. For years this has been a problem. There are few gay bars where you can dance and the ones where you can, like Splash, often play terrible music. But now I can happily report that problem has been solved.

Sunday is the new Saturday and Vandam, at the eco-conscious club Greenhouse, is where it's at. This unusual night, started by Suzanne Bartsch of course, has really fixed all that is wrong with nightlife in NYC. First and foremost, they actually play dance music....as in music you can dance to. Really.

Upstairs, in an amazing room that feels like your dancing inside a video game, local DJ legend Johnny Dynell plays current pop and 80's classics, like the Eurythmics "Sweet Dreams", all mashed up into sets that are irresistible. I can't recall going to a dance club where, other than people at the bar, everyone is dancing. Also, the room is also fairly well-lit so you can actually see everyone and there are a lot of everyones to see; from club kids to professional nerds, Abercrombie gays and even some well-behaved straight folk. It's a fun congenial crowd that is actually friendly too and, man, they can really dance. In fact, some of them appear to be dancers on their Sunday night off. They are the ones dancing on the banquets.
Downstairs, in a basement that is decorated like a leafy rec room, DJ Will spins some 70's-80's disco realness. But it's not Donna Summer on a loop. Some of the songs I've never even heard of but they still keep you moving. The basement has a gayer crowd, with a band of faithful bear followers from Will's gigs on the circuit.

You'd think the one drawback in all this might be that it's on a Sunday. But I think that is why it's been a success. There aren't tons of tourists or B&T's jamming up the works. Also, the night starts early for NYC; doors open at 10 and it's instantly packed due to a free hour of open bar. And who doesn't like that in the middle of The Great Recession. So you can come early, have some free drinks, shake your ass for a couple hours and be in bed by 12:30. Well...at least I can since the play is just a couple blocks from home. It's my neighborhood dance club...shouldn't every hood have one?

August 14, 2009

Life On The Fringe

The NYC International Fringe Festival kicks off today and this year the festival is biling itself as New York's best "staycation". Tix are cheap at $15 per show, less if you get one of the passes that are offered...my favorite being the "Lunatic Pass" which admits you to all the shows for $500. And with 16 venues and more than 200 shows, there's plenty to choose from, everything from confessional one man shows to wacky musicals.

The one thing about the Fringe is that quantity is not a problem. It's the quality of shows that can be rare. It's best to check the listings in TimeOut, New York Magazine or the NY Times, where they often highlight a few select picks. If you do, you may be lucky enough to see next year's "Urinetown", "Blanche Survives Katrina In A Fema Trailer Named Desire" or even "WTC View", which was my second feature starring UGLY BETTY'S Michael Urie. It started it's life as a play in a 50-seat blackbox on 4th and B in the '03 Fringe.

Finding a good show is tricky. Some show titles certainly jump out and are very Fringe-y, like "Abraham Lincoln's Big Gay Dance Party", "Sperm-a-lot" and "I Can Haz Cheezburger: The MusicalOL", based on the infamous LOLz websites. But whether or not these are any good? There's the rub. I often will check with my theatre friends who might have some tips or know the buzz. Even though they generally believe that 4 out of 5 Fringe shows suck, doing that math still leaves 40 shows that technically could be decent.
However, the only sure way you'll really find out is putting down your $15.

So the key is to shop around, don't jump at the craziest title and maybe take a look at the credits to see if the people or theatre company involved have some cred. But in the end, it's ultimately a crap shoot...which is part of the fun of the Fringe too. It's nearly the same cost as a movie and, given that August is the traditional dumping ground for studio movies that do suck, the bottom line is that even the worst show is gonna be better than seeing THE TIME TRAVELERS WIFE.

August 13, 2009

Picture of Dorian Gray The Movie....Again?

Over the years, there have been no less than 6 screen adaptations of Oscar Wilde's classic novel, "The Picture of Dorian Gray". Well, now comes a new one called simply DORIAN GRAY which looks to be intended as something of a horror movie. However, I find it hard to take this trailer seriously, given the chorus-of-the-damned music and the fact that Dorian, in response to a question about his youthful good looks, actually says the line "if I tell you I'd have to kill you". Hmmm--is that the best they could come up with? Not sure I'll be seeing this one but the preview is sort of a hoot....and Ben Barnes is a fairly hot representation of eternal youth.


August 12, 2009

Summer Reading: Uncle Mame

I've been working on my third novel this year and, when writing fiction, I find it difficult and maybe even dangerous to read other novels. I always feel there's a chance that another writer's voice might start affecting my own, especially if I really enjoy their work. So I've been on a fiction diet, reading only magazines and non-fiction for the summer.. a rarity for me.

Recently, I finished a wonderful biography with a story that almost read like a novel. It's called "Uncle Mame" by Eric Myers (St. Martin's Press) and it's all about the author the '50s classic "Auntie Mame". I'd always assumed that Mame Dennis was a fairly real person and that the novel was a veiled and maybe somewhat exaggerated roman a clef written by her adoring nephew. Well, as the title of the bio suggests, the character of Mame Dennis was inspired by a real person...the author himself, Patrick Dennis. That name was a pseudonym and the man behind the Mame is Edward Everett Tanner III. It's just the sort of name you'd expect to find behind the grand dame of literary fabulousness, right?

He was raised outside of Chicago by his real parents but was a very eccentric kid, having figured out his nom de pleur in high school.
During WWII, Tanner served as an ambulance driver in North Africa & Itlay and it's from his letters home, heavily excerpted in the book, that one gets the sense Mame was based on no one other than himself. Tanner had a wild imagination, a madcap sense of fun and ridiculous ability to camp it up, all of which helped keep him and his comrades sane during the darker days of the war. After the war ended, he settled in Manhattan and got married but led a bohemian life, with boozy parties and bisexual dalliances. His capacity for drinking was legendary but it didn't affect his output as a writer, which was extraordinary. By 1956, he had three best sellers on the NY Times list, a feat that has not been repeated since. Over roughly 20 years as an author, Tanner published 16 books.

The best part of Tanner's life story, though, comes towards the end. Frustrated by changing cultural tastes in the late 60's, he saw his books were falling out of favor and he gave up writing for a new career as a butler. That's right, the author of "Auntie Mame" served as a high class Jeeves for the well to-do in Miami beach and even his hometown Chicago. In fact, he was the head butler for Ray Kroc, the owner of McDonalds.

With details like this, it's clear Tanner was a fascinating, larger than life figure who had a remarkable life. However, his life was also continually troubled by his attraction to men. He struggled with this for years, sneaking off to bathhouses and having a couple love affairs which ended poorly. He attempted suicide more than once. But one thing that seemed to keep him going was his family. He had a deep love for his children, not unlike Auntie Mame's devotion to the fictional Patrick....another case of art imitating life.

As it turns out, Tanner actually did have an Aunt who lived in Greenwich Village and claimed that she was the basis for Mame. However, though formerly well-off, she spent her later years in a rat-trap apartment on W. 11th Street. Dennis cared about her welfare but was also embarrassed by her behaviour, trying at one point to pay her off so that she would stop going around claiming she was his inspiration. The story of his real Aunt reads like a lost chapter of his most famous novel, as you can surely Imagine Mame being horrified by such a poor relation and doing everything she could to distance herself from her.

Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Eric Myer's bio which is truly more like a novel than I expected. If you know the story of Auntie Mame and are fond of this iconic American character, you will love reading "Uncle Mame". If all this is news to you,I still think you'll be fascinated by this window into a brilliant writer's life who lived his life like it was a banquet (to quote one of Mame's famous lines). Eric's book is a breezy but informative read which will surely get you reading "Auntie Mame", either for the first time or the fiftieth.

August 11, 2009

Kathy Griffin Hearts Levi Johnston

Kathy Griffin was guest hosting Larry King Live last night, "interviewing" her new red carpet-boyfriend Levi Johnston, America's top baby-daddy. They attended the Teen Choice awards together earlier this week, with Kathy claiming Levi is the new love of her life. She also mentioned that the finale of her TV show was airing on Bravo the same night, saying "coincidence? I don't think so!" LOL--she kills me! I have to admit, they make a pretty unlikely though interesting comedy team...not exactly Burns & Allen as Levi is a little nervous and slow picking up his cues. But with some more rehearsal, who knows? Maybe it could be the start of something bigger than Sarah Palin :)

August 10, 2009

Don't You Forget About Him

There have been many appreciations and tributes to filmmaker John Hughes over the last few days since his death in NYC Friday. The NY Times (where I found this great pic--doesn't he look like James Spader?) ran a lengthy love letter to Hughes courtesy of reviewer A.O. Scott which was quite effective in hitting all the Hughes bases. What's most interesting is that it's easily the kindest thing the paper has ever written about him, as the TIMES reviews for his films when they were originally released were decidedly mixed. In the recent appreciation, Scott actually uses the "A" word, as in "auteur", to describe Hughes' body of directorial work. There was even a comparison to the work of Lubitsch and Sturges which is not surprising and IMHO long overdue.

As my film school friends know, I've been a champion of Hughes work for many years. I was a huge fan when the films first came out. But then, as I became a director myself, I began to see the artist lurking behind the commercial filmmaker and admired the way he was able to make smart comedies with a very broad appeal. In fact, my NYU thesis film "
Pool Days" which became part of the BOYS LIFE shorts package, was my own version of a John Hughes movie with a gay kid at the center of the action instead of a nerd. Currently, the film I'm working on now, a high school comedy called PROM QUEENS, is practically a homage to the Hughes world with a personal twist. But the main thing I've learned from his work as a filmmaker is a lesson that I hope will guide me on this project; keep it funny but make it real. I believe the reason his films resonate is that, despite all the slapstick and silliness, there are real characters with real emotions at the heart of his stories. And this is not something you see coming out of the Hollywood teen mill these days, with the possible exception of the pilot episode for GLEE.


Finally, the most curious aspect of Hughes directing career was its abrupt end. The TIMES piece doesn't discuss this at all but, oddly enough, a group of filmmakers had been tying to solve this mystery for the last year. They were making
a documentary trying to track down the elusive Hughes, interviewing actors like Justin Henry (Sams' annoying brother in SIXTEEN CANDLES) and Mia Sara (Sloane, darling, in FERRIS BUELLER) when his death gave their doc a new, unexpected ending. Their blog, dontyouforgetaboutme, has been updated with some tributes and new video over the weekend. The interview clips are very fun to watch. Mia Sara looks amazing!

Also worth checking out is a blog by a woman who was a teenage
pen pal with the reclusive director at the height of his powers in the mid-80's. Fascinating stuff....and all in John Hughes' very own penmanship! She offers her theory to the mystery of Hughes decampment from H'wood; she claims he blamed the biz on the early death of friend and star John Candy and, concurrently, didn't want to raise his kids in La La Land. Interesting theory. However, the story I'd usually heard was that Hughes was notorious for demanding control of all aspects of not just creating his films, but marketing them as well. (As a filmmaker, I understand this urge all too well!) Apparently as he became more successful, Hughes continued stamping on bigger and bigger studio toes until no one in Tinseltown wanted to play footsie anymore, as Walter Winchell might say. It certainly didn't help that his last directorial effort, the oddity CURLY SUE, was a commercial and critical flop.

Regardless of all that, John Hughes leaves us with three...maybe four classic films (if you count
WEIRD SCIENCE, which I do) that have stood the test of time. They are just as watchable today as when they were made more than two decades ago. Like Michael Jackson, he defined an era but transcended it as well and will forever live on in the cinema firmament, a bright and clever star that faded out too soon.

August 7, 2009

How To Have A Good Time For Free


On Fridays, I often try to post about fun things to do on the weekend here in NYC. There are lots of free events like concerts, theatre and movies in some of the city's lovely outdoor spaces. Last night, I was out at Prospect Park's bandshell for a sing-a-long screening of PURPLE RAIN. That was awesome! Well, a friend recently alerted me to a freebie that sounded too good to be true; free drinks every night! There's an amazing website called
myopenbar.com that creates a daily listing of open bars throughout New York City for each day of the week. And, of course, there's an App that puts all this info on your phone with a map of the bar locations. So even though unemployment is down today by one-tenths of a percent, the recession is still on and this might just be the perfect tool for trying times. Have a great weekend and cheers!

August 6, 2009

Web Site Story

From CollegeHumor.com....a "West Side Story" spoof all about The Internets. The lyrics are genius but I have to wonder, given the fancy production values, is this a parody masquerading as an ad for Facebook, Twitter, E-Harmony, Pandora, GoogleEarth and Evite? If it is, it's still damn funny. As Tony and Maria sing (to the tune of "Tonight"), "E-vite....E-vite...did you get my E-vite".








August 5, 2009

NetPix: Sweet Charity

What is it about the 1960's? 40 years later and counting, the Mod Decade somehow remains a cultural touchstone of cool with shows like "Mad Men" and looks like Gladiator sandals all the rage this summer. Other decades haven't aged so well; the 50's seem silly, the 70's ridiculous, the 80's embarrassing and the 90's smirk-worthy. Yet still, when you look back at the 60's, from fashion to music to science to theatre to politics to movies to design, that decade had it going on.

Lately, the films of the 60's have been popping up on my queue. Some have been interesting, but none have really been NetPix-worthy until this week when Bob Fosse's directorial debut "Sweet Charity" arrived in my mailbox. Based on a Broadway musical, it's the story of a dance hall girl with a heart of gold, played by a bubbly Shirley McClaine, who struggles through some odd romances as she tries to pull herself out of the gutter and into respectability...and even marriage. Whether or not she succeeds is something you'll have to find out when you watch the movie. All I can say is that the DVD has two endings, one which is featured as an "alternate ending" on the DVD extras. You can be the judge as to which one really works.

As an adaptation of a stage musical that was already an adaption of a movie (Fellini's "Nights of Cabiria"), the movie is a bit clunky in terms of plot and story. But as a movie musical, it is totally hot! The numbers are the thing here and, as a first-time filmmaker, Bob Fosse makes them his own. The fingerprints from his infamous jazz hands are all over the screen. Fosse's inimitable style is stamped onto each dance sequence, each one of them somewhat stretched out to fabulous effect. There's some dazzling location lensing in 1960's NYC, including a crazy marching band dance number on Wall Street. And no, that is not a typo.

The film also boasts a wonderful performance from Shirley McClaine, who sings and dances and high kicks her way through the movie with sheer charisma. There are some notable co-stars and cameos too; Chita Rivera playing a saucy dance hostess in her first screen role, Ricardo Montalban as an Italian(?!) cad, Ben Vereen making his big screen debut in the "Rich Man's Frug" and the legendary Sammy Davis Jr. as Big Daddy Brubeck in the "Rhythm of Life" number, which is worth re-watching, oh, at least 3 times. Set in a parking garage as the cars headlights somehow provide flashing psychedelic illumination, it's a brilliantly staged song and cleverly shot sequence that seems like one big outtake from "Hair" (though it would be 10 years before that made it to the screen).

In the end, "Sweet Charity" is not exactly a classic musical, like "Sound of Music" or "Singing In The Rain". The sum of its parts don't exactly add up, no matter which ending you prefer. But it is a highly entertaining and a very fun movie to watch, especially with a group of friends. And completely filled with glam 60's styles. With costumes by Edith Head to marvel at (oh the hats!) not to mention camp-kitsch anthems like "Hey Big Spender", I'd advise having a group of The Gays over and the evening will be a guaranteed gas. Dig?

August 4, 2009

Ulster County Fair: Slide Show

As promised, here's some of my photos from the Ulster County Fair in New Paltz last weekend. It was a little rainy the day we attended which made for some interesting shots since the place was practically empty. We even chatted with some of the "carnys" who didn't have too much do (like the guy in the ice cream truck, a Polish student on his summer abroad). Later on, a dense fog rolled in making for some otherworldly shots of the fair at night.

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August 3, 2009

Ulster County Fair: Pig Races

I've always had a thing for county fairs. It started back in high school when a group of my theater friends would make our annual trek to the Montgomery County Fair in Gaithersburg, MD where we would check out the freakshow ("Headless Model Kept Alive By Medical Miracle!"), watch the tractor pull (before it was even that ironic) and hit all the spinny rides (which usually ended with someone throwing up). Ah...good times!

This weekend, I attended the Ulster County Fair up near New Paltz and got to see one of my old fair favorites; The Pig Races. When I've tried to explain this in the past, I usually get blank stares so this year I took some video. I recorded the second heat of the 8:30pm race and the winner was Tammy Faye Bacon, with Arnold Schwarzenhogger a close second and Hilary Rodham Clintham in third. The prize was a trough of feed which is just visible behind the starting gate. And some Oreos if the pigs really gave it their all. Tomorrow....I'll be posting my fair slide show!


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