March 29, 2012

Trains May Be Returning To The High Line As High Art

This stunning rendering is for a proposed work by famed artist Jeff Koons for The High Line. Called simply "Train" it would suspend a replica of a 1943 steam locomotive over a section of the trestle park that runs from the Meatpacking District to 30th Street. The locomotive is similar to the ones that used to actually run on the High Line long before it was converted to one of the city's most spectacular parks.  Adding the "Train" would certainly be an amazing addition to The High Line. The main problem is the price.

As reported yesterday in the TIMES city room blog, the sculpture would cost 25 million to fabricate and install. The idea is to have it hang over the section of the High Line closest to the Penn Station rail yards, near 30th Street and 10th avenue.  High Line co-founder Robert Hammond hopes that a single donor (Barry Diller, your phone is ringing!) may gift the money needed for the sculpture. Let's hope so as it would be a stunning addition to an already stunning public space.

March 28, 2012

MAD MEN Goes All GLEE With Its First iTunes Hit

The GLEE-ification of television continues this week with this surprise bit of entertainment news. During the season premiere of MAD MEN, Don's new French-Canadian wife did a little song and a lot of dance during the party scene.  The sooo 60s ditty "Zou Bisou Bisou" was sooo perfect for her and the party in general. So perfect that a YouTube version of the original was soaring past 100,000 hits by Monday. Thinking quickly, the show released actress Jessica Pare's version to iTunes where it instantly made it into the top 100 yesterday.

From the moment that party scene began with a gay boy from the band trying to adjust the lighting, I knew this was destined to be one of the most memorable scenes of this memorable series.  And now it's been semi-immortalized with the downloadable version of Megan's love song to Don (which of course didn't go over so well). I'm not sure if I'll actually download it myself, having already spent 23 bucks on my season pass for the show.  But it is j' is Megan, who got a bit of nuance with this song and a kinky S/M scene late in the epic season opener.  Hopefully, there will be more musical numbers to come...and more Megan too.

March 27, 2012

My Glam Night At The GLAAD Media Awards

Last weekend, I attended the 23rd Annual GLAAD Media Awards at the Marriott Marquis ballroom in Times Square. It was a very glamorous evening with lots of stars on hand too. I got to chat with Megan Hilty and Bernadette Peters from SMASH as well as Cheyenne Jackson from 30 ROCK and Carson Kressley. Carson, as usual, was hysterical and ended up being a winner too, accepting the award for Best Reality TV Series for his turn on DANCING WITH THE STARS.

Here's my report on the event that posted yesterday on NEXT magazine's nightlife blog, The Nexus. Check it out. And donate to GLAAD too...they are a wonderful group that does a lot to counter discrimination against LGBT people in all forms of the media.

March 26, 2012

An Effort To Landmark The Rest of The West Village

The New York TIMES reported on a story of local interest to me over the weekend; a new push on a long-delayed effort to get landmark status for my neighborhood, which the TIMES refers to as the "South Village".  It's an area that is well known for it's local music/entertainment spots, like the Back Fence, Cafe Wha and the former Village Gate (now converted into a CVS)

It comes as a shock to most people that this section of the Village has not been landmarked.  Most of the West Village, west of 6th avenue, was covered by landmark status decades ago. But this section remains unprotected.  Lately, there has been a lot of development in the area, including reckless knockdowns and ugly additions, including a new plan by NYU to add 2 million sq feet of classroom space to the area.

The City government, however, doesn't feel this is an urgent situation. But, living here, I can say that things have been rapidly changing for the worse in the last five years and will only increase without any of the protections landmark status offers.  I hope that this latest effort meets success and that the unique qualities of this Village in the heart of Manhattan will be preserved.

March 23, 2012

The Sights And Sounds Of The NYC Subway

I found this cool little video over on my favorite subway blog, Second Avenue Sagas.  It's done by a freelance video editor based in Washington, Tim Sessler. It's a cool look at the sights and sounds unique to the subway system here in New York.  In DC, of course, things are much quieter in the sleek, soundproofed and sterile caverns of the Metro....which could explain this filmmaker's fascination with the MTA.  Enjoy!

March 22, 2012

Etch-A-Sketch Is Trending & Its Stock Rising

After an off-hand comment by a Romney campaign operative, Etch A Sketch is trending this week.

In yet another random sidebar of the Republican presidential race (which has played like one random sidebar after another) Etch A Sketch is now being talked about by the remaining candidates for the Repblican nomination.  The reference was to shaking the Romney campaign like an Etch A Sketch at the end of the primary race, and recalibrating Romney to be more conservative for the general election.

Whatever the meaning, it's done wonders for a toy that most people probably thought had gone the way of the Rubik's cube.  But no, Etch A Sketch lives and its stock yesterday doubled in price on Wall Street as reported on the WALL STREET JOURNAL's blog. So maybe Romney will inadvertently create some jobs as demand for the long-forgotten toy ramps up as the Republican primaries heat up.

March 21, 2012


Last night, I was invited to a unique theatrical event.  The company Exit Pursued By A Bear (a reference to Shakespeare's A WINTER'S TALE) kicked off their second season with a production of Jeff Whitty's play THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF HEDDA GABLER.  The play, starring Whitty in a transformative turn as the titular character, takes place in a nether world where fictional characters live on for eternity.  Gabler meets up with Mammy from GONE WITH THE WIND, played with heart and searing soul by Billy Porter, as well as a host of other notable characters who are too delicious to reveal as they all try to find their way out of immortality and into real life.

The play was wonderfully acted and sharply written, funny as well as thought provoking. But what was really so lovely about this production was the presentation, taking place in a converted industrial style loft on the far west side of Hells Kitchen with seating on raised platforms covered in cozy pillows and blankets.  It was theatre as a true communal experience as the audience numbered maybe 30 people and the actors were only a few feet away.  At intermission, a dinner of fresh baked beer bread and a vegetarian stew was served, along with wine, beer and soda that audience members had brought to share.

The whole experienced made me think of what it must have been like being in NYC during the experimental theatre scene as it blossomed in the late 60's and early 70's.  There were other theatre artists in the crowd and after the show, there was a nice hour or so of socializing over dessert as people discussed the play and got to meet and chat with the actors, some of whom were helping clean up from dinner!

If you're interested in something unusual and unusually well-done, I would encourage you to check out this show. The cost for tickets is a suggestion donation of $20, which is well worth it and helps support this new non-profit theatre. The show has been extended through the end of this month and limited tickets available on their website.

March 20, 2012

Lost Photos Of The Catskills Concord Hotel

I was on the Huffington Post recently and stumbled across this amazing shot of the Concord Hotel, one of the famed hotels of the Borchst Belt that prospered in the Catskills during the mid-20th century.  These are actually photos from a series of postcards that were sold at the hotel, recently discovered and collected by Jordan Smith.  They show a lost world of glamour and leisure--where Don Draper might have gone on vacation (if he was Jewish, that is). You can watch the full slide show here.

The Concord was abandoned in the mid-1980s and recently demolished to make way for a potential casino. Regardless of its future, there is no denying it had a gorgeous past. I get very nostalgic for this era when I see photos like this, even though it was well before my time.  There is a certain glamour to it all which remains appealing, some 50-odd years later.

March 19, 2012

NEWSWEEK Goes Retro With MAD MEN Issue

Ad Age reports today that a special issue of NEWSWEEK magazine will be styled like it was back in the 1960s to coincide with the premiere of MAD MEN on AMC this coming Sunday.  The idea for this supercool cross promotion came from Newsweek's newish editor Tina Brown, of course.

This special issue will be about the role of advertising in U.S. culture and will even feature some retro-styled ads as well.  However, one type of old school ad you won't see--no cigarettes, as those are no longer advertised in the magazine per Brown's edict. One other oddity this article in Ad Age mentions is that, during the MAD MEN era, women were not even allowed to be bylined writers for the magazine. They only worked in the background, doing copyediting and research, and it wasn't until a class-action lawsuit in the 70s that they were able to write articles.

As much as MAD MEN generates nostalgia for the style of the 60s, we can certainly be glad that some of the discriminatory details of the decade are long gone.

March 17, 2012

SPECIAL: Take A Ride On The Space Shuttle's Booster

Here's a video I noticed on FB the other day of a ride on the space shuttle, taken from the vantage of the solid rocket boosters that life the STS into orbit and then fall back down to earth.  It's one of the most incredible views of space travel I've seen. Not to mention the actual soundtrack too.  I never realized the solid rocket boosters really got so high, up to 28 miles exactly...their release is wild, like something EFX wizards concocted but it's actually real. Also, stick with this through to the end to the splash landing in the Atlantic.  Extraordinary!

March 16, 2012

The NYU HawkCam Is Back...As Are The Hawks

Last spring, a daytime web-cast drama originating from high on a ledge of NYU's Bobst Library about a family of red tail hawks caught the interest of thousands of people around the world.  Well, I am happy to report that HawkCam has been renewed for a new season and started broadcasting this week live on the web, 24 hours a day.

The second season has some new cast members too as Violet, the female hawk from last spring, died over the summer after a leg infection.  The newest hawk in the next has been named Rosie (on the right) by readers of the NY Times CityRoom Blog, which has been chronicling all the action in the nest.  And there are two eggs as well so a new baby hawk could be arriving come springtime!  They've also upgraded and repositioned the camera so that now you also get a lovely, live view of Washington Square Park and the memorial arch too.

March 15, 2012

A Place At The State Dinner Table

This is a photo of columnist Andrew Sullivan and his partner Aaron Tone arriving at the White House for the U.K. State Dinner last night.  Sullivan and Tone were just one of an estimated 10 or more gay couples on the guest list, as reported over on Towleroad.  

Though there have been plenty of complaints about Obama's record on gay/lesbian issues, I think this picture is the equivalent of a thousand positive words about how remarkably things have changed in just 3 years since his predecessor left office.  On top of that, it's just a wonderful photo in general....two guys strolling hand-in-hand through the White House foyer, just like any other couple attending what is the pinnacle of social events in Washington.  

Hi-Fi Bri Turns 3 Today--Celebrate & Donate

Today marks the 3rd anniversary of Hi-Fi Bri.  Yay!!!  I found this delicious looking donut cake on The Internets to faux celebrate.  But I will probably stop by The Donut Pub for the real thing later. :)

Some stats: 725 posts total since March 15, 2009 and, in recent months, the blog is getting 4,000 hits per month.  There has been a huge upswing in viewers/readers since the end of last year, which I attribute to daily links via Facebook and Twitter (and some pretty fun stories too!).  The most popular story of all time remains "Anderson Cooper's Mom Is Kind Of A Perv" (June 19, 2009), about Gloria Vanderbilt's erotic novel and her now more-famous-than-her son.  It has 3,247 hits; apparently there are a lot of people out there googling "Anderson Cooper." The second most popular story after that is "Porky's: Where Are They Now" (June 21, 2009).  Random, right?  But oddly it's one of my favorite films for sentimental reasons; it was the first R-rated film I ever saw.

Anyway, as part of the big celebration, I'm encouraging my readers to click on the DONATE tab here on the right and make today a mini-fundraiser for the site.  As I like the say, the Internet only looks free.  So if you can toss a little coin in the online bucket and help to support your local writer, I would greatly appreciate it. As would Verizon, T-Mobile, Con Edison, Visa, Mastercard, etc.  And please continue to read Hi-Fi well as repost, subscribe, forward, tweet (all of which you can do quite easily with all the little buttons just below here on the left). Thanks so much for your support!

March 14, 2012

Jimmy Kimmel Asks "Is Uggie A Fake?"

A couple weeks ago, Jimmy Kimmel had Uggie, the dog star from THE ARTIST, on his show to make Oscar picks.  Or did he.  A keen-eyed viewer has pointed out that the dog that appeared on Kimmel's show has different markings than the dog that was in THE ARTIST.  Talking about this shocking discovery on his show last night, Kimmel couldn't believe that someone would pass off a fake to him, for which his show reportedly paid a sizable fee.  As he put it, "it's like someone sending us a Meryl Streep look-a-like instead of the real Meryl Streep."  LoL.

Even more surprising was that the dog on Kimmel's show was the same dog that worked the red carpet at the Globe and the Oscars.  So this begs the question where is the real Uggie?  Kimmel promises a "full investigation."  No comment yet from the Weinsteins.

March 13, 2012

A Time Traveling, Time-Lapse Trip Through NYC In 1968

The NY Times City Room Blog is one of my favorite sites to find strange odds and ends about life in "The City."  Over the weekend, they posted a clip from an experimental film (remember experimental film?!) by Hollis Frampton in which he shot a time-lapse journey through the city. Making his trek on a weekend in 1968, Frampton starts at the Brooklyn Bridge then heads up Broadway, through Union Square, Madison Square, Sixth Avenue and ends in a teeming Central Park.

What is most surprising to me about this filmed time capsule is how little the essential streetscape of the city has changed, especially in lower Manhattan.  I could see and identifying many of the buildings along the journey, though certainly the signage and some facades have been altered.  However, what's most remarkable to a New Yorker is the strange lack of people on the sidewalks, not to mention the abundant availability of parking on the street.

March 12, 2012

Randy Rainbow Sings A Marriage Duet With Kirk Cameron

Former child star Kirk Cameron has been hating on marriage equality lately.  The born-again Christian was on PIERS MORGAN, last week going on and on about Adam and Eve and how the gays are "unnatural." He certainly has a right to his beliefs and the freedom to express them. However, you might think that a performer who was raised in this business called show and clearly owes his career, wealth and fame to many of the gays and lesbians working in the entertainment industry might be a little more tolerant of differences and supportive of equality. But his extreme brand of faith (he's starred and produced in a series of movies about the Rapture) has trumped all rational thought.

Anyway, this week Kirk gets his online comeuppance with a totally unauthorized starring role in Randy Rainbows' latest video.  Yay!  Kirk and Randy even do a lovely duet about getting married....awwww.  My favorite part though is Randy describing Kirk to his mom as "an out of work actor" and his mom flipping out over that!  Randy strikes again...

March 9, 2012

Julianne Moore is Sarah Palin in GAME CHANGE

The original HBO movie GAME CHANGE, about Sarah Palin and the 2008 Presidential election, premieres this Saturday night. Though Palin says the film is a political hack job, she has also not actually seen the film.  Roger Ebert gives the film a very positive review in the Chicago TIMES, adding that it is not only fair but also sympathetic towards Palin who is widely viewed now as a candidate who was incredibly charismatic but deeply unprepared to run for national office. The trailer itself looks great and Moore looks amazing as Sarah. I need to get me some HBO this weekend...

March 8, 2012

150 Years Later, Sailors From The USS Monitor Come To Life

We're currently in the midst of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, which started last year and will continue until 2015. The New York TIMES and the Washington POST have both been publishing a series of articles looking back at different aspects of the war.  

This week, the POST ran a fascinating article about two sailors from the USS Monitor who have been sort of brought back to life 150 years after their ironclad ship sank in a storm off the Carolina coast.  Their two skeletons were found intact inside the ship when it was raised from the deep in 2002 and they were even wearing their shoes still.  Forensic scientists and historians have recreated their faces which are now on display in Washington as part of an exhibit about the Monitor.  

It's amazing to think of these two sailors from 150 years ago are now staring back at us via technology and science they never would have imagined.  Kind of exciting...and kind of eerie too. 

March 7, 2012

Oreo Cookies Are 100 Years Old And Still Taste Delicious

Yesterday, the all-American Oreo cookie celebrated its 100th anniversary.  According to NPR's Marketplace report, sales of the original black and white cookie topped 2 billion dollars worldwide last year.

It's a bit of a New York story too as the chocolate sandwich cookie was created and first made by the Nabisco company at a big factory in the far west section of Chelsea during the now-artsy neighborhood's more industrial phase.  The building that housed the Nabsico company is currently famous to foodies for being the home base for The Food Network and, on the ground floor, the Chelsea Market.

The AP has a nice compilation of the look of Oreos over the years which, despite it's now trademark blue color and logo, has changed a bit over the years. It makes me hungry just looking at it....I think I'll go celebrate the Oreo now!

March 6, 2012

The Lorax Sells Mazda SUV's But Doesn't Drive

The animated film THE LORAX broke box office records with its 70M plus opening over the weekend.  There is no doubt that's because it's based on a well-loved Dr. Seuss book from the 1970s which is about conservation and environmental activism.  But it surely helped that the cute orange Lorax had so many tie-in's and cross-promotions with everything from fast food joints to car makers.

One of the more egregious examples of this sort of promotion that has become standard for children's films is an unusual partnership with Mazda.  An article in yesterday's Washington POST explains how the company donated 1K to elementary schools across the country to enhance their reading programs and libraries in exchange for showing off Lorax-themed SUV's.  Mazda even went a little further by encouraging the kids to convince their parents to do a test drive of the CX-5 to score a $25 dollar donation to the NEA.

While corporate giving especially to educational organizations is to be lauded, getting children involved in their shill game seems to be pushing it.  Also, the irony factor of the Lorax-approved SUV seems to have been lost on Mazda, which has labeled the car as having "Truffula Tree-approved SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY".  Whatever the hell that is, my guess is it has little do with saving trees.  Fortunately, today's marketing-saturated kids seem savvy to all this. As one youngster at a Virginia school put it, "The Lorax doesn't drive a car."

March 5, 2012

Prop 8 Play Premieres In LA and Online To 200,000 Viewers

This weekend, Dustin Lance Black's play "8" had its L.A. premiere with a star-studded cast and audience of more than 200,000.  Though there were only about 1,000 people on hand at the theatre, the balance watched the play streaming live on YouTube.  The play was a fundraiser for national efforts on marriage equality and raised more than 2 million dollars. You can watch the full play below here.

March 2, 2012

Can THE ARTIST Win Over America?

On Sunday night, THE ARTIST won five Academy Awards, including the Oscar for Best Picture. But that was a veritable cakewalk with the task the film faces today as it "goes wide" to 2,000 screens across America.  Will millions of people actually go see what is essentially a silent, black and white movie made by the French?  There are some doubts to say the least.

Harvey Weinstein who has championed this little-film-that-could since it wowed audiences at Cannes last May clearly believes in the film.  His company spent millions in a well-orchestrated Oscar campaign that ended in a remarkable success as the first silent movie to win Best Picture in over 80 years.  But getting general audiences to agree with the Academy will be tougher.

The challenge is to actually get people into the theatre to see this artsy little movie. If Weinstein can do that, I believe those who come see it will be thoroughly entertained, as I was, and fall in love with Jean Dujardin.  At least the women in the audience.  :)  We'll find out Monday when the weekend figures are released...

March 1, 2012

Has Someone Struck Oil In Times Square?

I was walking through Times Square last night and noticed something very odd; on an empty lot at the corner of 46th and 8th avenue there were what seemed to be two pump jacks of the kind usually found in Texas or Southern California pumping oil.  I wondered if maybe someone had struck black gold in the heart of the theatre district.  Or if a construction company was doing some sort of test drilling before the next massive skyscraper rose in the teeming neighborhood.

The answer to these questions came in this morning's New York TIMES, which reported that it was a temporary art installation.  The pumps, which will actually run eight hours a day, are the work of Josephine Meckseper, pictured above, who wants to get people thinking about oil, commerce and consumerism.  The exhibit is certainly well timed with spiking oil prices making headlines yet again.  It's just too bad they are not producing actual oil, which we could use apparently.  Meckseper's though-provoking "pumps" will be operating until May.