September 28, 2010

Hi-Fi Bri On Hiatus

This week I'm going to be on location working on a TV pilot and Internet access will be spotty at best.  So I'm going to have to take a short hiatus on my postings here.  However, the blog will resume it's regularly scheduled programming when I'm back online in NYC October 5th.  See you then!

September 27, 2010

Rocker Billie Joe Armstrong Makes His Broadway Debut

The front man of Green Day will be making his Broadway debut this week in a musical that he wrote himself, AMERICAN IDIOT.  Based on the band's album by the same name, Bille Joe will be stepping into the role of St. Jimmy for a short run, from Tuesday September 28th til Sunday October 3rd.  There had been some rumors about this but it was finally confirmed this weekend. You can bet that tickets will be selling briskly today for the rock musical, adapted for the stage by Michael Mayer, about three disaffected youths growing up in Bush years.

If the guest starring shows sell out, as they're likely to do, there is a rush ticket deal at the St. James theatre.  If you show up there at 6pm you can put your name in the lottery for front row seats for $27 bucks.  And that is a sweet deal given that some B-way tickets are closing in on $120 a pop.

September 23, 2010

The World Trade Center In Movies

The Bowery Boys recently alerted me to an unusual website which has put together a comprehensive list of films and TV shows in which the World Trade Center was featured during it's 30 year existence.  The creator of the site has also created a pretty through compilation of all movie posters that featured the twin towers, even if they were not in the actual movie.  My film about life in NYC after 9/11 WTC View is not on this list for the simple reason that, intentionally, the towers do not appear in the movie or in the poster/advertisments for the film.

An even more fascinating section of the site includes movies that were altered and scenes that were changed as a result of the 9/11 attack.  The site includes clips, some from DVD extras and some bootlegged.  One notable film missing from this list is the Nicholas Cage movie "Adaptation".  In 2002, I saw a very rough cut of the film in which the screenwriting class Cage's character attends takes place at the World Trade Center.  The film, which was shot in 2001, had footage of the towers and Cage entering the complex, though the interior was a generic looking university classroom.  Of course, this version of the film was never made public and the film went through a number of reshoots and re-edits before it's ultimate release in 2003.   

September 22, 2010

Teacher Who Inspired Rocker, Leonard Skinner Dies

This is becoming a trend here on Hi-Fi Bri.  Another notable obit caught my eye yesterday while scanning the interwebs.  Leonard Skinner, 77, a retired teacher from Jacksonville, Florida died.  If the name sorta sounds familiar its because it was used as the inspiration in the naming of the seminal rock group Lynyrd Skynyrd.

The story goes that Mr. Skinner had an unruly student named Ronnie Van Sant who eventually got suspended from the Robert E. Lee High School where Skinner was the gym teacher.  Van Sant had a band that was originally called "One Percent" but they changed it in honor of (but more likely to mock) their former teacher who was, just guessing here, probably not a fan of that blasted rock'n'roll music.

Anyway, on hearing of the passing of their namesake, band member Gary Rossington had this to say:

"Coach Skinner had such a profound impact on our youth that ultimately led us to naming the band, which you know as Lynyrd Skynyrd, after him. Looking back, I cannot imagine it any other way. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time."

September 21, 2010

The Largest and Smallest Graffiti Tag Ever

This weekend, the TIMES arts section had a great article about a mysterious orange line of paint that had snaked it's way across Manhattan a few years back.  Turns out this line was an immense graffiti tag by an artist named Momo which actually spelled out his name.

As you can see on the map here, the mysterious Momo traced his name onto the city's grid using a bike that was surreptitiously dripping paint as he wove an 8 mile path from West to East.  Since it was originally done in 2006 the line has gone mainly unnoticed until the blog Best Roof Talk Ever posted about it last month.

The most fascinating mind-bender about this biggest tag ever is, of course, the fact that the tag cannot all be viewed at once.  The line of paint is relatively thin and nearly worn out in some spots.  But, as in all art, it's the thought that counts.

September 20, 2010

A Tornado Blows In Brooklyn

It's official--the National Weather Service says an F0 class tornado (winds from 40-72mph) hit Brooklyn Thursday afternoon near Park Slope.  This is some incredible video that was shot by a couple of dudes in a design studio who are seriously freaking out.  It's like a real-life version of that movie "Cloverfield", minus any CGI of course.  The sound is freaky too.  Note that there is a lot of cursing and screaming so this video is probably NSFW, unless you have headphones.

September 17, 2010

A Subway Archeology Find at 57th Street Station

Over at Second Avenue Sagas, I found this picture of a subway map that was recently "unearthed" that dates from the early 1970's.  It's the famous Vignelli map of the system which created a beautifully geometric version of the complicated NYC subway which is now considered a design classic. Unfortunately, it was also considered a pain in the ass by many New Yorkers and tourists who found the disconnect between the city and the map too much to take.  It was gone by 1979.

However, Vignelli's map lingers on in the hearts of subway history buffs and design fanatics.  And in the the F station at 57th Street.  This is one of the least popular stations in the system, ranked 105th for the number of passengers.  That's probably how this map has been able to survive for some 30 plus years.  So see it now...before it's history once again.

September 16, 2010

The Losers Of America's Got Talent

NBC's variety show America's Got Talent announced "America's choice" for the winner of the competition this week.  It was a talented but somewhat generic white soul singer named Michael Grimm, with 11 year old opera naif Jackie Evancho in second place.  Third place went to a group called Fighting Gravity which was definitely one of the most unique acts seen on that show, or anywhere on TV for that matter. The most unusual aspect of the group is that they are not performers but college students.

The troupe consists of 13 guys who are all fraternity brothers at Virginia Tech.  They are mainly studying business and engineering.  Apparently, they were inspired by some Japanese performers they saw on the internet.  Regardless, their act is just fun to watch and hard to figure out exactly.  Here's a clip of their first performance on AGT back in June.  Despite losing the competition, they hope to get their show onto the Vegas strip eventually.  I don't think that will be a problem.


September 15, 2010

Boy-Lesque By The Sea

In July, I went out to the Sideshow-By-The-Seashore at Coney Island to see the Pontani Sisters burlesque show.  Well, now the boys have gotten in on the act.  Last Friday, I attended the Boy-Lesque show called "Man-A-Tease", hosted by downtown performance nudist Tigger.  I'd been to the Boylesque review before, as this was the 4th annual show.  But this year, Tigger stepped it up a notch with the addition of a trio of real pros from Chi-town known as The Stagedoor Johnnies.

These three gorgeous and inventive artists presented some stunning new numbers which really brought the boys up to the level of the ladies. Jett Adore (pictured below) did a Zorro number and worked his cape like nobody's business.  Bazooka Joe did a steamy number with a towel...actually lots of towels. And Ray Gunn got a standing O with a burlesque version of the Matrix. Seriously. The night ended with a marching band themed number which was awesome (pictured above).  Maybe it's my past history as a band fag but I loved this number especially.

There was also some pre-show stripping by Go-Go Harder as well as performances by the Evil Hate Monkey, who was recently crowned King of Boylesque in Las Vegas, and a special appearance by Julie Atlas Muz at the end of the show.  Overall, it was a very sexy and entertaining night at the Sideshow by the Seashore.

September 14, 2010

Randy Rainbow Is Getting Hitched....Sorta

Feeling the rush of victory after the defeat of "Preparation 8" as he calls it, Randy Rainbow has decided to get married.  But who will be the lucky guy? Is it Mel? Or maybe Zac? Or perhaps the star of my movie WTC VIEW (plug!) Michael Urie. Personally, I think this guy needs his own movie or TV show or something. He's a riot!

September 13, 2010

How Much Is A Penny Really Worth?

Fellow YA author John Green recently put together a lovely rant about the utter uselessness of the modern penny.  Do you know how much it costs to make a penny?  Well, you can surely guess that it's more than the damn things worth.  He actually makes a good case for getting rid of the pesky little trinkets that are a huge wasted of taxpayer money.  Anyway, you can catch John's weekly vlogs, which he puts together along with his brother Hank, on their site Nerd Fighters.

September 10, 2010

Greater Than Zero

On the eve of the 9th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Ground Zero has been in the news a lot due to plans to build a Muslim Community Center two and half blocks from the site.  While plans for that project are mired in debate, there is remarkable progress at Ground Zero itself.  

Construction at Ground Zero has been going full tilt for nearly two years.  However, due to the complicated multiple uses of the site (transportation, office, memorial, museum, retail) most of that work has been underground getting the pieces of this momunmental puzzle to fit.  But results are now visible above street level and they are impressive.  The new World Trade Center has risen nearly 20 stories high, the outlines of the memorial pools are now clearly visible, WTC 4's impressive lobby is framed and they recently planted the first of more than 400 white oak trees on the former site of the Twin Towers.  

There's a great interactive feature in the TIMES today which give a birds-eye, time-lapse view of the site and provides some drawings of how it will look when it's all completed in 2014.  In the meantime, the Memorial Pools will open to the public a year from now on the 10th anniversary of the attacks, with the underground museum set to open in 2012.

September 9, 2010

Late Summer Reading: "I'll Get There, It Better Be Worth The Trip"

I recently read a landmark book in the gay YA genre, a novel published back in 1969 that is now widely regarded as starting the genre:  John Donovan's "I'll Get There, It Better Be Worth The Trip".  The book was re-released this year in a lovely 40th anniversary edition with an introduction and essays by authors Brent Hartinger, Martin Wilson and Stacey Donovan.  

The book is the simple but sharply told story of 13 year old Davy Ross, who moves to Manhattan to live with his mom after his grandmother dies.  Told in the first person, the book achingly charts the pain of his loss as well the challenge of moving into his new digs in ol' New York.  Davy lives with his now-single mom in a pre-gay Chelsea while attending a day school for rich kids in a pre-Stonewall West Village.  The book's period details are precise and somewhat fascinating to a NYC history addict like myself. 

Davy's best friend and the most charming suprise of the book is a lively little daschund named Fred.  This is one of the most precisely drawn animals in fiction, with a personality that nearly matches that of all the other major characters. However, the biggest character of all is Davy's alcoholic mom who is a sort of the dark-side version of Auntie Mame.  Living with her is a challenge and you feel for Davy as he tries to navigate her unpredictable behaviour.  He also meets a guy at school named Altschuler who becomes a friend, an ememy and a bridge to a whole new life.  

Clearly forbidden from using "bad" words in a YA book way back then, there are some clever curses and descriptions of Fred doing his business.  And despite the generous use of the Holden-esque words "lousy", "phony" and "old bastard", the book is very well written especially as it gets into Davy's awakening.  So, if you're looking for a late edition to your late summer reading, this book is a sweet and timeless tale of self-discovery that I would definitely recommend.  

September 8, 2010

A Notable Passing For The Gay History Books

I'm usually not one to read the obituaries in the TIMES. I have friends who tell me it's often the first thing they read because the paper puts some much research, writing and general effort into them. I do remember the obit for Frank Sinatra's passing was very impressive, reading like a short novel almost.  

Anyway, today I happened to be flipping through an actual paper copy of the TIMES (how retro!) when I saw a headline in the obituaries that got my attention.  It was about Seymour Pine, an NYC police inspector who led a vice raid on an illegal Mafia run nightclub called the Stonewall Inn on June 28, 1969.  This raid quickly went sour as transvestites and lesbians struggled with the police trying to arrest them. The growing crowd outside the club grew unruly, parking meters and rocks were tossed and the rest, as they say, is LGBT history.

In 2004, Pine spoke at a panel about the Stonewall Riots and expressed his regret for the raid and subsequent mayhem.  Explaining that he was merely following orders from his superiors, he even apologized for his actions in response to a question at the panel.  As reported in David Carter's book on the riots, Pine said "if what I did helped gay people, then I'm glad."  Seymour Pine was 91 years old.

September 7, 2010

The NYC Heat Wave That Killed 1300 People

It's official now--the summer of 2010 was the hottest summer on record for New York City.  The average temperature for June, July and August was 77.8....the highest since record keeping began.  There has been a lot of bitching and moaning about the heat here in the City.  But comparatively, this summer was nothing compared to a heat wave more than 100 years ago that killed more than a thousand New Yorkers.

In August of 1896, the city baked over a period of 10 days where the temperature registered over 90 degrees with 90% humidity, even at night.  In todays terms, the "Heat Index" during this week and half period often hit 120 degrees.  Of course, this was before the invention of air conditioning so people (and countless horses) were dropping like flies.  One of the odder ways people died was from rolling off the roofs of tenements and fire escapes where they were sleeping.

There's a new book out that details this nearly forgotten chapter in NYC history.  It's called "Hot Time In The Old Town" by historian Ed Kohn.  One interesting fact is that Theodore Roosevelt was the police commissioner at the time and, in lieu of a mayor who did nothing, he took action and distributed ice to the poor.  It was a transformative moment for the young Roosevelt, who got a very close look at conditions the lower class lived in and was inspired by the experience to do what he could as he rose to power, eventually becoming President of the United States.

I haven't read this book but it on my list now.  It would have been good beach reading but maybe it'll be better not to be baking while reading a book about it.  

September 3, 2010

Food Truck Rally At Govenor's Island

With Hurricane Earl making a trip to the beach not that appealing this weekend, there are some other unique holiday options here in the city.  If you're looking for something fun and unusual this Labor Day, I'd recommend a trip to Governor's Island for the Food Truck rally.  It's happening on Sunday only, from 12n to 5pm on Colonel's Row.

Yeah, I know....Food Truck's are oh-so -rendy these days and maybe you're getting a little sick of hearing about them.  But the point of Food Trucks is eating, not discussing.  So go eat something already!  [said in my best Jewish grandmother voice]  :)  There will be ice cream from Van Leuuwen, seafood from Red Hook Lobster Pound and slushies from Kelvin Natural Slush along with seven other trucks.  The Big Gay Ice Cream Truck was not listed on the program but who knows.....maybe he'll pull a surprise attack!  

September 2, 2010

Cute Video Of The Week-Marcel The Shell

This little short film about a very little shell named Marcel has been making the viral rounds this week. It's popped up on FB more than once and a number of blogs as well.  It was written and voiced by Jenny Slate, a first-year SNL cast member who also pops up on Jimmy Fallon's show too.  The jokes are sharp but it's all in the delivery....enjoy!

September 1, 2010

A Short Spoof Of The Brett Easton Ellis Universe

I was scrolling through Facebook this morning and found this video posted by a friend.  It's a short film directed Matthew Ross called "Inspired by Brett Easton Ellis".  This is a very snappy little 3-minute summary of the Ellis-verse starring some actual celebrities too....Kip Pardue and James Van Der Beek.  If you've read only "Less Than Zero", you'll get the basic idea.  If you haven't, a word of warning that this is a bit NSFW.