October 26, 2012


In the late 1980s, a film was made in Miami that has lately taken on that legendary mantle of a film that's "so bad it's good."  Joining the ranks of SHOWGIRLS, THE APPLE and THE ROOM, THE MIAMI CONNECTION is on it's way to theatres' courtesy of Alamo Drafthouse Films.  You can read more about the bizarre cinema concoction of drugs, ninjas, motorcyles and 80s' synth pop on WIRED. Or you can watch the utterly terrible trailer below.

October 25, 2012

Witness To Lincoln's Assassination Appeared On 1950s TV

This is one of those things that makes you realize that the past is often not as far away as it seems. Over at the Atlantic, earlier this week they posted a YouTube clip from the TV show I'VE GOT A SECRET showing a 96 year old man from Maryland who was a 5 year old boy in Ford's Theatre the night Abraham Lincoln was shot. He vividly remembers John Wilkes Booth jumping to the stage from the Presidential box and was more worried about Booth's condition from the fall than the President, as it was all a bit confusing what was going on. It's amazing that his lifetime spanned the end of the Civil War and the beginning of the civil rights movement.

In a personal vein, I remember a neighbor of ours, an older woman who sometimes babysat me as a kid, who had a painting of a Civil War drummer boy above her fire place. It was actually a painting of her grandfather who was on the field at Gettysburg. Incredible, right? And let's not forget the well-documented stories of the last 3 Civil War widows who were alive until the mid-2000s (one was even collecting a pension from the Department of Veterans Affairs).

Though it's easy to think of the Civil War as ancient history, it was a mere 150 years ago that the conflict raged and nearly tore apart the country. Coming next month--Steven Spielberg's LINCOLN, which will look at the president's struggle to end slavery as the war, and his own life, came to an end. Here's the trailer below, with a script by Tony Kushner.

October 23, 2012

LIVE AND LET DIE At Moma's "Bond 50" Retrospective

Over the weekend, I went to the Moma "Bond 50" to see one of my favorite Bond movies LIVE AND LET DIE. This is one of the more unusual films in the 50 year franchise for a number of reasons. Where Bond usually finds himself in exotic and fancy locales, in this one....not so much. It starts off in gritty 1970s NYC actually with a FRENCH CONNECTION-style chase on the FDR (in big honking Caddies) and ends up with detour to Harlem. From there we go to New Orleans, a fictional Carribean island with poppy fields, and then the Louisiana bayou.  Not exactly Monaco and Munich!

However, one reason I like this film is the great sense of humor to the film, mainly due to the presence of Roger Moore. He had a way with the Bond one-liners that hasn't been matched. There is also some great 70's fashion (yes, 007 wears a leisure suit!) and hairdos (Afro-rama!) not to mention the hot Wings title song, "Live and Let Die". This was the first Bond song to be nominated for an Academy Award (it lost to "The Way We Were") and I've found the opening titles on YouTube, which you can watch below.  Also,  I believe this is the only Bond movie in which the song is actually sung as part of the story...in a dive bar in New Orleans by Brenda Arnau.

Anyway, after years of seeing it on TV in the 70s, it was great fun seeing this on the big screen in a gorgeous print at Moma. Next up; the camp classic VIEW TO A KILL (with Grace Jones) on Friday.

October 22, 2012

Comedian Tig Notaro And Her Stand-Up Routine About Cancer

I heard a remarkable story this week about a standup comedian named Tig Notaro while listening to one of my favorite podcasts The Business, on KCRW. 2012 has not been a good year for Notaro to say the least; she had pneumonia which led to a bacterial infection that put her in the hospital, her mother died suddenly, her girlfriend left her and then, to top it all off, she was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer.

In late August, the day after she got her diagnosis, she had a show at the Largo in L.A. and, though she thought about canceling, went onstage anyway and performed an epic set about her woes which killed. Louis C.K. happened to be in the audience and tweeted about her show the next day saying it was the best thing he had seen in 27 years of standup.

That was enough to launch Notaro's career in a whole new direction. And now a recording of this set from the Largo has been released as a comedy album via Louis C.K.'s website. You can hear an excerpt from the opening of the set on THIS AMERICAN LIFE.  It's really amazing to hear as the audience comes to realize she is not joking but telling the truth, but doing so in an incredibly funny way. As it turns out, Notaro is doing well after a double mastectomy and the cancer is in remission.

October 19, 2012

A Daring Art Exhibit Draws Censorship In Vienna

The Leopold Museum in Vienna has put together a daring show about the male figure in art over the last 200 years called "Nude Male: From 1800 to Today".  On the surface, that may not sound controversial but in the world of museums, the male nude has always taken a backseat to the female form and this is a rare exhibit which focuses solely on men.  

The poster for the exhibit, a photo of 3 naked soccer players by French photograph team Pierre et Gilles, has caused a stir though forcing the museum to self-censor the image in outdoor advertising. Of course, if you walk around NYC and many other European cities, you'll see naked women 50 feet tall on billboards (and in much more erotic poses than these sporty fellows) which haven't cause much of a stir. But the minute you have a naked man in public view, it's the end of the world as we know it. And in Vienna, the museum quickly caved to the flurry of protests.

If you're interested, you can see the uncensored version online along with some other selections from this wide-ranging exhibit, which includes works by Ego Schiele, Andy Warhol and Louise Bourgeios. It would be great to see this kind of survey at the Met or even the MoMA but that might be asking a lot.  However, the Brooklyn Museum was recently brave enough to host the traveling version of the Smithsonian's Hide/Seek exhibit....so maybe this will be coming to a borough near you in the next few years.

October 17, 2012

Romney's "Binders Full Of Women" Are Trending Post-Debate

Within minutes after Mitt Romney said it during last night's debae, Twitter and Facebook lit up with the phrase "Binder Full of Women".  He was referring to an initiative he claims to have started in Massachusetts to hire women but his unfortunate phrasing turned it into an instant meme and, essentially, the "Big Bird" moment of this debate as far as the Internet was concerned.  By midnight, less than two hours after the debate ended, there was an active Tumblr dedicated to the meme which is where I found the above photo (which made me chuckle).

All joking aside though, the claim Romney made during the debate last night is not exactly true. The now infamous binder was part of a larger initiative to get women more involved in government and it was prepared in 2002, before anyone knew who the incoming governor would be. Romney was essentially handed the binder when he took office.  What is it about this candidate and his propensity for half-truths designed to make him look better? In the end, and after some simple Internet fact-checking, they really end up just make him look desperate to win....at any cost.

October 16, 2012

Before Romney/Obama Round 2, Mitt Debates Himself

As Mitt and Barack make their final preparations for their second debate tonight, there's some great videos circulating on the web of Romney debating himself. In the first debate, in a desperate effort to make himself a moderate, Romney contradicted a number of his previously stated positions.  In some cases he said the exact opposite of what he had said on the campaign trail months and even weeks before that debate.  So someone at Daily Kos put together this handy video where Romney debates himself on a number of these issues.  

So far this video and a subsequent one have nearly 3 million hits. Let's hope that with this and a stronger debate performance by the president tonight that the truth about Romney's positions will become evident to the voting public.  There was much criticism of President Obama's performance in the first debate but honestly I think he was in a state of shock as he found himself debating an opponent whom he literally did not know. Hopefully he can clarify some of this tonight and make it clear to the public who the real Romney is.

October 15, 2012

It's The New York City Doughnut Map

This is something I've been waiting for--a map of the best donut spots in New York City.  This map of 35 shops is put out by a small Brooklyn press and costs $8. They had a launch party for the map last Thursday up at the Ace Hotel which I missed due to a late posting on Papermag.com.

Still I would like to check this guide out and see what I'm missing other than my go-to faves like Peter Pan, Donut Pub and Doughnut Plant. I wonder if someone would like to organize a "donut crawl" in the tradition of the "pub crawls" that are popular here in the Village? That would be awesome!

October 12, 2012

Mayor Bloomberg Donates 250K To Marriage Equality In MD

When New York City's activist Republican mayor tries to limit the size of soda cups, I get a little embarrassed for him. But when he uses his personal fortune to make a bold statement in favor of marriage equality, all is forgiven....except maybe the 2004 Republican convention.

Anyway, the TIMES City Blog reports today that Bloomberg has donated 250K to the fight for marriage equality in Maryland where the state faces a ballot measure after legislation was passed and signed by the governor earlier this year allowing the state to be the 6th in the nation to legalize same sex marriage.  Bloomberg is by far the largest single donor to the cause there and his money will hopefully spur on other big-name donors in the run-up to election day.

What impressed me most, though, was not Mr. Bloomberg's money but his simple but eloquent statement about this hot-button issue.  For those Republicans constantly complaining about government meddling in people's lives, take note:
“I do not believe that government has any business telling one class of couples that they cannot marry. The next great barrier to full equality under the law is marriage equality. There is no doubt in my mind this barrier will fall, just as so many others have.”

October 11, 2012

MUNSTERS Reboot MOCKINGBIRD LANE To Air Once As H'Ween Special

Over the last couple years, NBC reportedly spent 10 million dollars on a remake of the 60's classic show THE MUNSTERS called MOCKINGBIRD LANE (the street where the original TV family lived). But it didn't get picked up as a series this fall and, with an all-star lineup (Eddie Izzard and Portia de Rossi) and major talent behing the camera (Bryan Fuller and Bryan Singer), there were questions as to what was going to happen to the expensive show. Well, those questions were answered today as the Hollywood Reporter has the news that they will air the pilot as a "Halloween Special" on Friday October 26th at 8pm.

When I heard "Halloween Special" I immediately thought of another infamous, one-night only network trick/treat that occurred back in the 1970's. It was the PAUL LYNDE HALLOWEEN SPECIAL which is one of the weirdest and wackiest hours of network television ever unleashed upon the American public. It is hard the describe the culture clash of Kiss performing disco songs with Paul Lynde, Florence Henderson, and Margaret Hamilton (not to mention Donny and Marie!). It's unclear if MOCKINGBIRD will rise to this level of camp craziness but it will be worth watching.....at least once.

October 10, 2012

Celebrities Ride The Subway Too

Whenever I think I see a famous person on the subway, my next thought is  that it can't be them because if you're famous why would you want to take the subway. I mean, that's what limos are for, right? However, apparently there are a decent number of celebrities who ride the rails here in ol' New York.  

Paper Magazine, which always has fun online features, has a photographic survey of 15 celebrity subway riders.  Some are truly regulars, like Mayor Bloomberg who is known to take the 6 every day from his manse on the UES to his office down at City Hall. Others, well, are a bit of a surprise....like Keanu Reeves! There's also a shot of Anderson Cooper taking the C to W. 4th (I'm assuming this because he lives in my neighborhood). 

So from here on out, I will not discount my celebrity sightings on the MTA. In fact next time, I might even have to take a photo.   

October 9, 2012

SESAME STREET Tries To Get Out Of Presidential Politics

The biggest surprise of the general election has been the emergence of Big Bird and public television as a major issue.  Who would have guessed that, after Romney's winning the debate, the biggest take away would be his comments about the bird?! Though it all sounds silly on the surface, it really isn't and I think it's great that people are finally being enlightened to the ridiculous notion (one Republicans have harbored for years) that cutting things like federal support for PBS (and the arts in general) will somehow take a dent out of the deficit.  Of course, the percentage of these programs as part of the budget is less than 1/10th of 1 percent and now, with Romney's infamous line, hopefully the voting public has been educated about this issue.

However, on the flip side, the folks at SESAME STREET are somewhat queasy about being drawn into the battle between Romney and Obama.  They reluctantly OK'd a Big Bird appearance on SNL with some revisions to the script that made the spot more funny than political.  But, after the Obama campaign released an ad with Big Bird, the folks at the Children Television's Workshop said enough is enough and today asked that the ad be removed from circulation. The ad itself is sort of a riot but it's also understandable that CTW does not want to be in the fray of the election. But they are in it now.... whether they like it or not.

October 5, 2012

Siri Thinks New York City Is In Texas

Apple has been getting a lot of bad press recently in regard to its Internet-based software (see disastrous Maps app). Well, Siri has a huge glitch of its own which is not even something due to IOS 6.

This has been a problem w/Siri since last spring where if you ask for the weather in New York City, it will usually give you the weather for New York, TX.  How Siri could confuse these is a bit bizarre given that the other New York is hardly even a town; it's more of a crossroads about 80 miles southeast of Dallas.

Siri is supposed to be able to learn from its mistakes but not in this egregious case of error. There have even been a number of threads on the Apple website discussing this with people talking about going to the Genius bar.  But still there is no solution yet.  It seems like this is something that might be a priority given the thousands of iPhones in NYC. But months later, it remains unfixed. I love Apple products but Apple software? That's a whole other story....

October 4, 2012

The Son Also Sings: Jason To Join Barbra (aka "Mom") Onstage

Jason Gould, Barbra Streisand's son from her marriage to Elliot Gould, will be singing with his mother onstage for the first time this month as he joins her mini-tour of shows which includes a stop at Brooklyn's new Barclays' Center.   

There's an intimate and revealing interview with Gould on the blog Stargayzing (by David Munk) in which he discusses his later-in-life foray into the world of music, describing it as a "second coming out". Gould has been a creative journeyman, working in film both in front of and behind the camera, as well as doing some work as a sculptor. But he claims this latest foray is something he's had an interest in for many years and was just scared to dive in....and who wouldn't be if you're going to be compared to your mom?! 

At the end of the interview, you can listen to a mournful song from his EP "Morning Prayer" which is available online at his website, jasongouldmusic.com.  He does have a beautiful singing voice that is truly his own (ie. no shades of Judy/Liza syndrome). It would be a treat to see him and Barbra together on stage as they will surely do some interesting duets.  The shows in Brooklyn are October 11 and 13

October 3, 2012

Bananarama Hits New York City's Hard Rock Cafe

One of my favorite guilty pleasures from the 1980's (along with Poison) is the Brit-pop group Bananarama. Somehow I did not get the memo that they were going to be in town last night for a one-night-only gig at the Hard Rock Cafe, in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Fortunately, my friend and fellow blogger Kenneth In the 212 was there and has the full report (and some great photos like the one above).  

At age 50, the ladies look great and did some of my less-famous favorites, including "Talking Italian" and the awesome "Love In The First Degree." If you don't know that one, but I'm posting the video below. I love this song and especially this video; it has great 80's dance moves and amazing hand gestures too. It's like they are performing in sign language! 


October 2, 2012

The New Barclays Center Goes Up In Record Time (2:28!)

Last week, the new Barclays Center opened in Brooklyn marking the beginning of a massive transformation of the Atlantic Yards into a retail/entertainment/housing complex. It took more than 4 years from ground-breaking to Jay-Z's opening night show last Friday. But you can see it all happen right before your eyes in this cool time-lapse of the site's transformation.  They even do a little detour to show the building out of the arena's interior.

October 1, 2012

After 36 Years, Village Club "Kenny's Castaways" To Close

In yet another sign of the times (and rapidly rising rents), a landmark Village nightclub is closing this week.  Kenny's Castaways, just around the corner from me on Bleecker Street, will shut its legendary doors tomorrow night after a final show featuring some of the rock acts it helped make famous. Though I have not been there in a while, I saw many a friend's band play there over the years. But still the place gave Bleecker Street and the "entertainment district" section of the Village it's unique character.

Today's TIMES has the full story which feautres the sad detail that this rock 'n roll dive bar will be turned into a "gastro-pub". Well, I guess at least it's not going to be a bank or a Duane Reade! One interesting item in the article notes a previous incarnation in the building's 120 year history; in the 1890s it used to be a gay bar called The Slide. The name and concept of this bar was revived a few years back with a location on the Bowery and many rumors as to where the original Slide had actually been located. (I will take the TIMES (and Village preservationist/historian Andrew Berman) on their word.)  Anyway, fascinating to know that a little bit of infamous gay history happened in my 'hood as well.