April 29, 2013

An Extraordinary SUNDAY...In Paris

This weekend, I spent a lovely Sunday afternoon listening online to the broadcast of Stephen Sondheim's SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE that was performed last Thursday evening at the Theatre Du Chatelet in Paris. The broadcast is available on Radio France's website until May 25th and is well worth checking out. It helps to have a knowledge of the show, as this is only radio, but it's a remarkable recording of Sondheim's now classic show about the making of art.

This is a particularly extraordinary production  as it has a super-sized orchestra of more than 40 instruments. That's nearly quadruple the pit of 11 that the show was written for as a chamber musical. But, this being Sondheim, it certainly holds up to the upsizing, especially when it gets to the sumptuous and triumphant arrangement of the first act closing number. The show, which had an equally extravagant visual production, was taped live though there is no word on when it might be seen stateside. Hopefully, it will make it to PBS where it would make a wonderful bookend to the original production which made such an impression on me years ago when I first saw it on AMERICAN PLAYHOUSE, starring Bernadette Peters and Mandy Patinkin.

April 26, 2013

Another Celeb Crowd Funded Flim Is Blowing Up On Kickstarter

Last month, the creative team behind VERONICA MARS took to Kickstarter to raise funds for a long-delayed and underfunded movie reboot of the franchise.  In a little over 48 hours they hit their goal and, by the end of one month, had raised nearly three times their goal of 2M. Well, now Zach Braff has taken to Kickstarter with a similar goal and will probably make that in just over 36 hours.

Braff's Kickstarter debuted yesterday to a rush of donors and now has more than 1.7 million of it's 2 million goal. Braff is raising money for a quasi-sequel to his popular generational film GARDEN STATE, which has different characters involved but dealing with challenges of life in their 30s rather than their 20s. His Kickstarter video (like the one for VERONICA MARS) has some star power too with cames by his SCRUBS co-star Donald Faison and friend Jim Parsons. Some are deriding the fact that these sort of celebrity fundraisers are "ruining" Kickstarter but to me that sounds like sour grapes. It's a crowd-sourcing platform and if, as a celeb, you already have a crowd then why shouldn't they be able to tap into it too?  It seems to be what the site was built for.

The real proof, however, will be in the product when both these films come out sometime next year. Will they be better than if a studio had produced them, leaving final cut to the producers and not the creators? We'll find out streaming on iTunes next summer.

April 25, 2013

Could Alan Gendreau Be The First Out Player In The NFL

There's an article in today's TIMES about a 23 year old kicker who would like to be the first openly gay player in the NFL. Actually, in the article, Alan Gendreau states that his real desire is just to play football in the big leagues and that he happens to be gay is more secondary in his mind. But if he were selected to play for a team, it would make history as he would be the first out player in professional football. 

Gendreau played for a small team in Tennessee and was out to his teammates at the time, though not publicly. He did well, though had a slump in his senior year which didn't help when the NFL scouts were looking. Now though he seems determined to make a play for the big leagues. 

While there has been a lot of talk in the NFL about preparing for an out player, said player has yet to materialize. Some feel that having an already out player be recruited is the more likely scenario but I'm not so sure about that.  It seems like that would be a tougher PR ball to manage than a successful established player who comes out.  Either way, despite the hype of this article, don't hold your breath. It will happen but probably not this season--unless, of course, there is a scandal which outs the player whether he likes it or not.  

April 24, 2013

The Boston Marathon And "The Decisive Moment"

This is the only photo taken by David Green, 49, a runner in the Boston Marathon last Monday. He snapped it with his iPhone seconds after the two bombs exploded, and then rushed to help people who had been injured by the explosion. This remarkable image reminded me of what photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson called "the decisive moment", the famous phrase he coined that described what made photography unique as it became its own art form in the 20th century. Green's picture, along with the photo of a downed runner at the finish line, have instantly become the two iconic photos of the Marathon attack. The Washington Post on Monday had an great article talking about the impact and legacy of these iconic images.

Considering Green's image though, it uniquely captures the terror of the horrific event while also perfectly and horrifically illustrating Bresson's "decisive moment". Green's photo shows a standard and almost generic cityscape that in a split second is completely transformed into a war zone by the people who are racing away in all directions from the hazy smoke at the center. There is an incredible sense of chaos but a strange feeling of balance to the frame as well, taking it beyond the realm of a snapshot into something that not only captures the historical significance of the attack but also the unsettling feeling of modern life where terrorism can turn an ordinary day on an average street into a nightmare.

Beyond the image itself, there is something utterly contemporary about this picture that I think would have fascinated Bresson. Unbeknownst to Green, his hi-res digital pic captured in its millions of pixels not only the terror of the scene but also the clearest image of the alleged perpetuator. In the far left of the frame, wearing a white baseball cap,  Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev walks away calmly while nearly everyone else is fleeing in a panic---an indictment as well as an ID. (The zoomed in version helped identify him during the manhunt which led to his arrest.)  So Bresson's "decisive moment" becomes a decisive tool in the investigation of the crime itself. When thinking about Green's extraordinary picture, it's really mind-blowing to consider how photography has evolved and advanced so far in the 100 years since Bresson was snapping "decisive moments" on streets of Paris during a entirely different  war. 

April 9, 2013

Drawing in The Bronx & Drink'n'Drawing in The TIMES

On Sunday, I went up to beautiful Wave Hill in the northernmost section of the Bronx for an art exhibit and drawing workshop run by my friend Mia Rosenthal.  Mia specializes in drawings inspired by nature and had adults and children taking up pencil and watercolor to take in the unique beauty of this hidden jewel of New York City. Though spring was barely sprung, there were a few buds and flowers popping up despite the resistant winter. I drew a tree that had some blue flowers appearing around it's base, along with a friend of mine seated at the base of the tree. Here's my drawing and the picture below of what I was sketching in real life (after my model stood to stretch his legs!)

Also on the drawing front, I had a feature story that I wrote in this Sunday's NY TIMES which was also about drawing. I started actively drawing about 6 years ago after a bike accident laid me up for a couple months. I had noticed in the last few months that more and more "social drawing" events were popping up around the city, events that were equally about making some art and meeting new people over drinks, sometimes even in a bar.  So I went to a bunch of these earlier in the year and wrote about them for the Style section. Here's a link to the article if you want to give it a read. And if you're curious about drawing, the drink'n'draws are a great low key introduction to doing some casual sketching.

April 4, 2013

Rawhide, Chelsea's Original Gay Bar, Closes After 34 Years

New York City is a place of constant change. But some changes are bigger than others. And this is a big one--after 34 years, the leather-n-Levi's gay bar Rawhide on 21st and 8th avenue has closed.

Last weekend was the last call, on Easter Eve, and I was there to write about the end of an era for NEXT magazine. My article is in this week's issue, out tomorrow, and you can read it online at the Nexus on the magazine's site.

April 2, 2013

Web Series THE OUTS Wraps It's First And Final Season

My favorite web series, Adam Goldman's (pictured center) THE OUTS wrapped up its first and unfortunately final season this week with a Chanukah special, which debuted on Easter Sunday. This super-sized seventh episode of the series is a lovely finishing touch to the show about two ex-boyfriends and their contentious relationship. It doesn't exactly tie things up but proves a very satisfying finale to this show which has more in common with well-made cable shows like GIRLS than the lower-rent feel of most web series.

Also, more than other Internet-based shows, THE OUTS has truly utilized the flexibility of this new format by using a wide-range of running times, from 7 minutes all the way up to the massive final one, clocking in at over 40 minutes.  It also employed some well placed time jumps and jumpbacks which made the story more interesting if it had been told straight through as most shows are.  

The final episode is linked below but if you haven't seen the rest, it might be a bit confusing  To catch up, you can watch all of THE OUTS on their website.