August 31, 2011

The Encyclopedia of 9/11

We're about a week and a half out from the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and the media coverage has begun.  Tonight, NatGeo is airing a doc on President Bush's recollections of the day.  Also this week, New York magazine came out with a cover story called "The Encyclopedia of 9/11".

It's an A-Z list of 100 plus words and phrases connected to the coordinated Al Queda attacks on NY and DC and what they wrought.  Though hardly as comprehensive as it sounds, the list is impressive and does bring back some memories of things forgotten (Green, Mark..mayoral candidate) and updates on where things stand today (Memorial, 9/11...opening next week).

However, I would like to point out that in the W's they missed my play "WTC View".  But they missed Neil LaBute's plays too (he's written 3 with 9/11 themes) so at least I'm in good company.

August 30, 2011

Film Of Abandoned Amusement Park 6 Years After Katrina

As New Yorkers "recover" from Hurricane Irene, New Orleans this week will remember Katrina, the storm that truly devastated that city six years ago this week.  I recently came across a cool and creepy film of one of the ruins of Katrina which has been relatively untouched since 2005.  Six Flags had a relatively new amusement park in the city, located in the now-infamous Ninth Ward off a highway exit.  The park was swamped by the storm and basically abandoned.

Filmmaker Teddy Smith got into the park last year and shot some beautiful footage on a Canon 5D.  This film screened at the Dallas film festival earlier this year.  Meanwhile in NOLA, the park's future is still in doubt though there was a recent announcement of a plan to redevelop it and the city to take bids on it.  But for now, it is an eerie reminder of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

August 29, 2011

Ghost Town NYC: Hurricane Irene In Pictures

So it was a quiet weekend here in New York.  I mean that quite literally.  The city was deserted from Friday evening through Monday morning due to the concern about Hurricane Irene and the first-ever voluntary shutdown of the NYC subway.  In the end, the hurricane was a bit of a wash (pun intended) but it was fascinating to be in Manhattan minus all the people.  It was a post-apocalyptic weekend, minus the apocalypse thank god!

The picture above is Seventh Avenue, taken from the heart of Greenwich Village and looking uptown.  Amazing.  Not a car or pedestrian in sight.  Below are some more pics; the intersection of 6th avenue and houston, the IFC movie theatre (which closed for the weekend), and a couple of creative tape designs in Village storefronts.  It's like life in a ghost town; all we need are some tumbleweeds rolling down the streets.
This is eerie--6th ave and Houston, a major downtown intersection

No movies at the IFC Center in the Village

Rizza Hair Salon--artsy!

The Jonathan Adler store--patterned tape, of course

August 23, 2011

A History of Earthquakes in NYC

As anyone with a Twitter account or Facebook found out today within seconds of it happening, there was a major earthquake along the eastern seaboard of the United States today at 1:51pm.  Centered outside a small town near Richmond called Mineral, VA, it was a 5.9 on the Richter scale.  And it was felt pretty strongly here in NYC, which does get earthquakes from time to time.  The last "big one" hit October 27, 2001 and was a 2.6.  That one was quicker than today's quake, which lasted over 30 seconds.

Back in March, the NY Daily News ran an informative piece about the history of earthquakes here in New York.  The city has had it's share of "big one"s, a 5.2 in 1884 and 1737 that originated closer to home. As for something of a magnitude of 7 or more, that is incredibly rare, happening only once ever 3,400 years.  But yesterdays event was big news anyway, seemingly amplified by all the social media tremors that were sent out in its wake.

August 19, 2011

Boylesque Boys Bare All At the Coney Island Freakshow

Last night I headed all the way out to the ends of Brooklyn and the beaches of Coney Island USA. I went with some friends to see the 5th Annual Boylesque Show (which I've written about before) aka Man-A-Tease at the Sideshow by the Seashore, home to the infamous Coney Island Freakshow.  This years program, curated by Tigger, was quite stunning with the addition of an actual freak to the lineup....Seal Boy!  You can read all about my adventures on the NEXT magazine blog today.  As a bonus, here's some extra pictures below that didn't make the cut.....

August 17, 2011

Win A Free Trip To Outer Space

With the end of the Space Shuttle program, private companies are stepping in to fill the breach in space travel.  One company is providing a free ride up to the International Space Station and back as part of a promotion for Seattle's Space Needle. This landmark observation tower, constructed for the World's Fair in 1962, is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a contest for a trip into space.

There's an article in todays TIMES with the details. One line which struck me, when talking about the risks of space travel, was that Robert Servart who is running the Needle used to run Six Flags.
Sending someone into space seems a rather audacious public relations stunt, one that could carry considerable risk to the winner, not to mention the Space Needle. Mr. Sevart said the winner would sign a liability waiver. He has experience in such things, having run three major Six Flags properties.
To enter, you don't even have to go to Seattle or the Space Needle.  You just have to check out their website, and enter online.  But it's not just a random lottery...there will 1,000 folks selected to submit videos for a competition to see who has the most adventurous spirit or something.  And the willingness to sign an incredibly long legal waiver.

August 16, 2011

HALF-SHARE Makes Its New York Premiere 8/17

I've posted on here before about HALF-SHARE, a TV pilot about life on Fire Island that I co-produced last year.  Earlier this summer, our trailer was released on YouTube and got nearly 20,000 hits. Now the full pilot episode is getting it's NYC premiere this week on Wednesday, August 17, at the Gay/Lesbian Community Center on 13th Street.

HALF-SHARE is half-hour comedy about a group of housemates in FIP who get a newbie for the summer, a lovelorn Left Coaster recently "divorced". The screening is being presented by Out Professionals and will also include a panel discussion about gays on TV, headed by Logo TV programmer Chris Willey and Half-Share co-writer/director Sean Hanley.  Some of the stars of the show will be on hand as well and theres going to be an open gin bar.  (How Fire Island, right?)  As Kath and Kim might say, "What's not to liiike?"

It all starts at 6pm and goes til 8:30pm, with admission of $15.  This is a fundraiser for the Center so come out, see a great show and support the community.  It should be a fun night!

August 15, 2011

The Devotion Project Celebrates Love Through The Decades

My good friend and fellow filmmanista (yes, I just made up that word) Tony Osso recently won best short at the New Festival  for a film about two men who have been a couple since the 1950's.  It just posted to YouTube and is called "The Devotion Project: More Than Ever."  Its the first in what will be a series of Devotion Project shorts celebrating long-term gay commitment, something that we don't hear or see enough of but which is out there.  In fact, in my wholly unscientific survey, it seemed that the majority of couples flooding City Hall last month when marriage equality became the law in New York had been together for 20-30 years.

Anyway, Tony's film is a beautiful study of the 54-year relationship of Bill Campbell and John Hilton. He's currently talking to three other couples in various cities and hopes to shoot more for the Devotion Project in the fall.  This series is wonderful reclaiming of the somewhat hidden history of gay couples which comes more and more to light as the struggle for marriage equality grows. Bravo Tony!

August 12, 2011

The Dumpster Pools Are Back At THE PALMS

After making a splash in Brooklyn back in 2009, the trendy Dumpster pools made an appearance at the Summer Streets event last August.  Now they are back this year at a new location, a temporary resort/nightclub being called THE PALMS over in Long Island City.

This all comes from the creative minds of the folks at Third Ward and the Danger party people so you can bet this will be hipster central. They have a knack of putting together truly unique events, filled with cool art, fun music and good energy.  And who doesn't like a pool party?  Admission is $20 on Saturday but only $10 on Sunday.  And there will be food too...including Lobster rolls!

August 11, 2011

From NY to LA In 12 Minutes

OK--so I'm "borrowing" this headline today from where it caught my eye this AM.  Of course, in true CNN style the hype doesn't quit match the actual story.  But the story is pretty interesting anyway.  It's about a new unmanned hypersonic vehicle that the Department of Defense is testing today.  It's a triangular "plane" that flys at more than 21 times the speed of sound.  In military terms, that means it could ostensibly reach anyplace on the planet in less than an hour.

Though hardly meant for bi-coastal commuters, it's still fascinating in a science-sense.  What I also found intriguing is that the plane is developed by DARPA, the military's advance research lab.  And though you could not watch the top secret launch, you could follow it on Twitter. Yes, top secret, highly classified DARPA has it's own Twitter feed!  The launch was live-Tweeted today but they seemed to have lost contact with the vehicle and it's status is currently unknown.  I will be following to find out more....

August 10, 2011

Gay Republican Running For President...Seriously

So it sounds like a setup for a joke; a gay, Jewish, Republican running for President enters a bar and starts canvassing for votes.  But for Fred Karger, a 62-year old California political consultant, he is serious. Sort of.  He's knows he has basically no chance of winning the Presidency or even a GOP primary for that matter. But he's going for it anyway (with his own money too!) in an attempt to get the message out that you can be gay and run for the highest office in the land.

The LA Times ran a feature on Karger yesterday which is sorta fascinating.  He was closeted and made disparaging gay jokes freely until coming out just five years ago at age 56. In the 80's, he worked on George HW Bush's presidential campaign, specifically the heinous Willi Horton angle, and also shilled for major tobacco companies.  But what really got him personally involved in politics was spearheading the efforts against Prop 8 and the Mormon Church's campaign against marriage equality.

Despite this, he's found no love from the gay community for the simple fact that he is a Republican.  But he's not giving up and is determined to get onstage for at least one GOP Presidential debate.  It would certainly be interesting to see him challenge Romney and his party on the issue of marriage equality. But, registering less than 1% support in the latest polls, it seems unlikely that Karger's efforts will be more than a queer footnote on the 2012 campaign.

August 9, 2011

The Riveting Story Of The Raid That Killed Osama Bin Laden

This week's NEW YORKER magazine has a fascinating and intensely detailed story about the U.S. military raid that killed Al Queda cheif Osama Bin Laden on May 1st.  There are some incredible details about the operation as the writer, Nichoas Schmidle, puts you in the helicopter, flying illegally over Pakistani air space with a team of elite Navy operatives on a mission to kill the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks.

It's incredible how the raid seemed like it was going to be a disaster from the minute of their arrival, when the team's Blackhawk stalled and crash landed into the compound.  But, in an interesting point of view, one of the Seals later says it was best the copter was left behind as it's physical evidence instantly quelled any conspiracy nuts. Another great detail was what was found in the computers and hard drives in the compound. There were plots to assassinate President Obama, General Patraeus and even plans for another massive attack on the 10th anniversary of 9/11.  But more shocking was the sizable cache of digital pornography too.  However, this discovery didn't phase the intelligence folks... they have found that on every computer they've seized in all their Al Quadea raids.

Anyway, this is an amazing story reported to death in true New Yorker style.  Coming in 2012--the movie version of this fateful night via THE HURT LOCKER's Kathryn Bigelow.

August 8, 2011

A Weekend Of Art And Rock In NYC

Over the weekend, I attended a couple events to blog about for NEXT magazine's THE NEXUS.  I am a semi-regular contributor to their Scene & Heard section.  So I'm linking to my adventures today.

Saturday afternoon, I hit the opening of the Pop-Up Museum of Queer History, started by my friend Hugh Ryan in his Bushwick loft back in Februrary and now moving downtown to the gallery district in Soho.  Later that night, I checked out a couple queer bands at the QxBxRx party, newly relocated to Public Assembly in the 'Burg.

 It made for a busy a weekend...and a couple fun posts too.  Check them out!

August 5, 2011

Summer Streets: Park Avenue Closed Next 3 Saturdays

For the last four summers, the city's Department of Transportation has been closing down Park Avenue on Saturdays in August.  This weekend is the first of the annual Summer Streets Saturdays where from 7am-1pm you can take to the avenue by foot or bike and experience something rare in NYC: no traffic!  Well, that is car traffic.

I did Summer Streets last year and things can get a little congested later in the day as it's a very popular event. I'd encourage you to get up early and take advantage of the lack of crowds while they last.  All along the 7 mile route through the heart of Manhattan, there are going to be free bike rentals, free yoga classes and free performances from the NY Intl. Fringe Festival.  It's a great chance to see the city in a whole new way!

August 4, 2011

Swingin' Second Avenue Subway Workers

Ben over at Second Avenue Sagas posted this video of an MTA crooning during the lunch hour.  In neighborhoods on the UES where the noise, dirt and general nuisance of subway construction have been driving residents nutty, this guy intends to have his music calm the savage upper east-sider.  It just may be working....

August 3, 2011

Outside The Stonewall Inn When Marriage Equality Passed

My friend and fellow filmmaker Ira Sachs is currently directing a new movie called KEEP THE LIGHTS ON, about a gay romance that goes awry through drugs and addiction in the mid-1990's. He's also started a website to chronicle the process of the production of the film, which will also be featuring shorts and posts about gay life in NYC, past and present.

Yesterday, he posted some footage that was shot outside the Stonewall Inn the night that marriage equality passed in New York State.  There were hundreds of revelers outside the Stonewall where more than 40 years ago the modern gay civil rights movement was born.  This historic short was shot by Onur Karoaglu and beautifully captures the emotions of that evening.

KTLO Gay Marriage Video from keep the lights on on Vimeo.

August 2, 2011

Performers Get Naked On Wall Street

Yesterday morning, the workers of Wall Street were confronted by naked versions of themselves.  Artist Zefrey Throwell put together a performance art piece called "Occularpation" in which dozens of men and women stripped bare and mimicked the work of the daily denizens of the financial district.  He had men pushing brooms and women acting as traders, all in the nude, "working" in and around the NY Stock Exchange.

Most the the New Yorkers watching seemed pretty unfazed and a newspaper man quoted in the TIMES said he'd seen a lot of nudity this summer because of the heat.  Not surprisingly though, this morning peep show did not last long as NYC cops came in and arrested three of the guys, booking them for disorderly conduct.  Zefrey did a similar performance piece in San Francisco which featured himself naked on the street doing the work of a cubicle drone.  There the performance lasted for a few hours and, of course, no one batted an eye. And that's the difference between SF and NYC.

August 1, 2011

Color Pictures of NYC From The 1940s

A friend of mine sent a link to a website called Retronaut which recently posted some rare color photos of New York City from way back in the day....1942 to be exact.  This one is of Canal Street on the west side.  And the one below is familiar to denizens of the East Village.  It's McSorley's Tavern on 7th Street which has not changed at all since 1942, except for that fact that women are now allowed.

We're so used to seeing ol' New York in film noir black and white that it's always a shock to see that, yes, the world was colorful back then too.  What's notable to me is how quaint the city looks with it's low curbs and cobblestone streets.  There are some really beautiful pictures on the main site, worth checking out....