Arts, Culture, Food, Shopping & Restaurants
May 8, 2018 / NYC Neighborhoods / NYC Culture / Gotham Buzz NYC.
This section is dedicated to the Arts & Culture in New York City.
Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art on Staten Island
The Jacques Marchais Museum is Home to an Eclectic Art Collection
August 22, 2019 / Lighthouse Hill Neighborhood SI / Art & Culture Staten Island / Staten Buzz NYC.
A couple of weeks ago I visited the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art. It's located in the Lighthouse Hill neighborhood on Staten Island, which isn't far from Historic Richmond Town. Historic Richmond Town is a popular destination that puts on a number of public programs, so it's easy to include the Jacques Marchais Musem as a second destination if you're interested in Tibetan culture and art.
Ironically Jacques Marchais never visited Tibet, but she was an avid art dealer / collector, and over time she developed a collection of Tibetan art and culture in her art dealings. So much so, that when I had an opportunity to visit, I was struck by the resemblance to the some of the architecture and feeling of being there, as it reminded me of a month long trek I had done in Nepal many years ago.
We'll have more on this interesting destination on Staten Island over time. Stay tuned. Om.
In Historic Richmond Town the Past Comes Alive
Historic Richmond Town on Staten Island Preserves a Bit of America's Colonial & 19th Century Past
March 2018 / Historic Richmond Town Neighborhood / Staten Island Culture & History / Staten Buzz NYC.
Earlier this month I visited Historic Richmond Town on Staten Island. I got off the train at Oakwood Heights and along with a visiting South Korean visitor, ubered the half to one mile inland to visit historic Richmond Town.
We were dropped off in a large parking lot adjacent to the main building, which turned out to be the rear of the site, and walked in. It was less than two hours before closing time and on this cold March day, things were pretty quiet.
In the museum gift shop we Lou Maira who manages it. The visiting South Korean took off on his own, while I struck up a conversation with Lou. He told me that we were in the Court House, which was the County Seat for Staten Island in 1837. The Court House also served as the prison. He told me that this late in the day, on the off season, wasn't really the optimal time to see the place, but he accommodated my unscheduled inquisitiveness anyhow.
Historic Richmond Town on Staten Island lies on 100 Acres of Colonial & 19th Century History
Lou told me that there were 15 buildings in Historic Richmond Town. He informed me that tours are given regularly by knowledgeable guides and that they take about an hour and fifteen minutes. The whole town lies on about one hundred acres. At some point in the conversation, one of the tour guides whose name I apparently didn't write down [please send it to me if you read this], joined us, and we continued conversing about Historic Richmond Town. In the photo at right is one of the tour guides of Historic Richmond Town on Staten Island.
Guyon Tavern in Historic Richmond Town
One of the buildings is Guyon Tavern, which may be found about a block and a half away on Richmond Road. The Court House lies at the top of a small hill where Center Street and Court Place meet. Guyon Tavern hosts tavern nights in March and April, where a thirsty 19th century American could and still can get a bottle of ale.
Historic Richmond Town - Things To Do on Staten Island
Historic Richmond Town also hosts other events. In the May / June timeframe there's a program entitled On Court, which I was told is a fairly large festival that includes live entertainment, beer and wine and food. And in September there's a pretty huge festival, it's Historic Richmond Town's signature event, called the County Fair.
The houses in Historic Richmond Town range in dates from the 1600's, 1700's and into the 1800's. The houses built in the 1700's date back to the time of the American Revolutionary War.
I'll add more to this, including more photos, at a later date. But suffice it to say it's worth at least one visit and likely many more. You can find out more about it and their events at https://www.historicrichmondtown.org
The Road Ahead 2019
A Few Axioms To Keep In Mind Throughout The New Year
December 31, 2018 / Staten Island Neighborhoods / Holidays / Brooklyn BLVD NYC & Staten Buzz NYC.
For all of us, tomorrow starts the beginning of the new year.
I usedto make new years resolutions that generally lasted a few days or few weeks. Over time I've given that up and have focused on a few guiding principles that I work toward throughout the year, every year.
1. The first guidepost is to keep things as simple as possible by letting things go, so you can change and evolve who you are. Over time it's important to learn to let go of the past which includes letting many of the people, projects and things - once so meaningful and relevant - to fade away with time. This process involves discarding much of what one collects, in order to open up space in your life to make room for new possibilities.
2. The second guidepost is to take care of the vessel that carries one's being - meaning take care of your body because it's the only one you'll ever get, and it has to last an entire lifetime. This means consuming the foods that will enable the body to function properly and ward off disease, while recognizing that satisfying the mind is important too, as it's a part of the body. There are three elements to this guideline.
a _ Try to maximize consumption of natural foods while managing / minimalizing consumption of the delicious processed foods that come in packages. Read package container nutrition labels which indicate the amount of fat, sugar, sodium andcholesterol consumed per serving. You can manage the balance of natural and processed foods depending on what's going on in life, meaning leaning toward natural foods to take care of the body, and leaning toward tasty processed foods to treat your mind.
b _ Reduce consumption of toxins by first paying attention to the quantities consumed of them, and then by substituting the toxins with healthier choices. For example dilute a soft drink with seltzer water [cuts sugar], or swap in a lemonade for a beer [cuts alcohol], or swap in pretzels for potato chips [cuts salt and fat]. Over the years these little substitutions can add up to some fair measure of weight loss or stability, and can aid in maintaining generally good health. But it's also important not to deprive oneself, too much, of some of the simple pleasures in life that keep one going - experience tells us not to be too draconian, or you can expect a subconscious rebellion, and then your program doesn't work.
c _ The third element of this guidepost is to try to walk and bike whenever possible. It's a good way to kill two birds with one stone, as it enables getting somewhere, while also getting some exercise. And be sure to carve out enough time each night, for a proper rest.
3. The third guidepost is to try to move your life in the direction of your interests. This will likely take a great many years, as well as needing to make a good number of economic and other lifestyle trade offs. But if successful, you can then spend most of your time doing the things that totally engage you. It's said that "when someone is doing something they truly love, they'll never have to work another day in their life."
4. The fourth guidepost is to keep on learning, because "luck is when preparation meets opportunity". So the more you learn, and the more experience you get, the better prepared you'll be ... come what may.
May your new year be filled with promise and possibilities. Best wishes for a happy and successful 2019.
5 Boro Bike Ride Returns Sunday
Bike New York Organizes NYC Bike Ride & Bike Expo New York
This story includes information about the upcoming 5 Boro Bike Ride on Sunday, as well as the Bike Expo New York which precedes it on Friday & Saturday in Red Hook. As of this report, the temperatures are expected to be in the 60's and the chances of rain appear slim. But bear in mind that the forecast probability of 20% chance of rain last Friday, turned into rain on Saturday evening, so check the weather as we get closer in.
Bike New York 5 Boro Bike Ride Route
Since 1977, every first Sunday of May, Bike New York has organized and promoted the 5 Boro Bike Ride. The ride begins in lower Manhattan, sweeps northward across the Harlem River Bridge to the Bronx, circles back across the Third Avenue Bridge to Manhattan, where it begins its southward trek crossing the Queensboro Bridge into Queens, heading south to Brooklyn after a quick stop north to Astoria Park, and then comes down past the Brooklyn Navy Yards, continuing southward along the west side of Brooklyn, to the Verrazano Narrows Bridge where it crosses over to the Fort Wadsworth neighborhood in Staten Island before terminating in the St. George neighborhood at the Staten Island Ferry.
Proceeds from Non-Profit New York Bike Ride go Toward Sustainable Transportation Efforts
The now famous bike ride was capped at 32,000 riders I believe sometime in the 1990’s, where it still stands today. One report noted that the 5 Boro Bike ride is one of – if not the largest - non-profit bike rides in the nation. The proceeds go to Bike New York programs which are designed to teach people about sustainable transportation, most notably bicycle riding and bike maintenance and safety. Another report noted that the NYPD had considered [don’t know the outcome] charging the organization $1 million for erecting, maintaining and terminating road closures during the New York 40 mile family-friendly bike ride.
Bike New York Bicyclist Outreach in all Five NYC Boroughs
Bike New York has offices in all five NYC boroughs. In 2015 their cyclist safety and bike maintenance programs reached 15,000 New Yorkers. And they are the organizers of the Bike Expo New York being held at Pier 12 in Brooklyn on Friday and Saturday [see details in rest of this story].
How We Hear @ Rough Draft Theater Festival
New Play Explores the Changing Nature of our Political Dialogue
Last weekend I had an opportunity to watch one of the new plays performed at the 5th Rough Draft Festival at the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center in LIC. The play was entitled How We Hear by Emily Lyon.
It was an exploratory exposition of what how the American national dialogue has changed over the past century and a half [158 years] and it was as much an experience, as it was a performance.
What Lyon did with the next hour and half of our time was an interesting journey through selected excerpts of our national debate. But even more importantly, Lyon took us on an exploratory journey - including some real time processing - of how new forms of mass media, with the incredible proliferation of information venues and access, impacts our ability to have a honest dialogue about important issues facing our society in a way that everyday Americans are able to process.
Lincoln Douglas Debates @ LaGuardia Performing Arts Center
I arrived shortly before the performance began and found a seat not far from the stage. The performance was given a short introduction by Handan Ozbilgin, the Rough Draft Festival Director and shortly thereafter, one of the seven Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858 [August 21 - October 15] began. The debates were the first ever between two Senate candidates vying to for a U.S. Senate seat [Illinois]. They became an instant sensation, and became the forerunner of the platform upon which Lincoln would run for president in 1860. It's worth noting that at the time the Senators were elected by state legislatures - not by a direct tally of state citizens' votes.
How We Hear by Emily Lyon @ Rough Draft Festival
While Triney Sandoval, the Hispanic man who played Douglas, didn't resemble Stephen Douglas facially, he was an actor and orator of the first degree, and comported himself as one might imagine Douglas. His elocution and diction were very precise, cadenced and reminiscent of an earlier age. And his Hispanic heritage, in what was - over a century and a half ago - an Anglicized age, seemed purposeful in adding an ethnic layer and some complexity, to what was possibly a simpler time.
Sandoval, as Douglas, talked about the Lecompton Constitution, which was one of the hot issues of the time. The Lecompton Constitution which was a competing, pro-slavery, constitution for the state of Kansas induction into the United States, which also explicitly stated that only white males would have the right to vote.
Ironically, Stephen Douglas, a Democrat, helped the Republicans defeat the pro-slavery constitution by aligning with the other northern Democrats who were against it. The southern Democrats were supportive of it.
States Rights Vs Human Rights: Early American Hypocrisy or Dialectic?
Sandoval, as Douglas, then went on to accuse Lincoln and the Republican Party of that time of being a northern political party - not a national political party like the Democrats were. Douglas then cited excerpts from speeches made by Lincoln which seemed at odds with each other, where it appeared Lincoln appealed to the anti-slavery sentiment while giving speeches in northern cities like Chicago while appealing to the racial prejudice of the south, while in southern Illinois cities like Charleston [which is about the same latitude as St. Louis, Missouri and Kansas City] by stating that he did not support allowing Black men to become whites equals, citing they weren't fit for the role of jurors and what not.
Stephen Douglas was a Democrat, but he wasn't pro-slavery per se. He was for the rights of states to decide for themselves what institutions to create and how they should conduct their business. He noted that all of the Founding Fathers had kept their slaves through the Revolutionary War. And Douglas reminded voters of Lincoln's speech in 1858 in Springfield, Illinois where he said that "A house divided against itself cannot stand." And that one day the United States would either be all slave or all free.
CLICK here to read the rest of our report of the LaGuardia Performing Arts Rough Draft Festival performance of How We Hear.
Table of Silence Transcends 911
Lincoln Center Dance Commemoration Transcends Hate through Love
This morning at 8.15 am over one hundred dancers began a spiritual commemoration of the events of 911 with a modern dance performance in the main plaza at Lincoln Center on the Upper West Side. This was the seventh year of the performance, and its meaning seems to grow - rather than diminish - with time. It's about the classic and timeless struggle, between giving into hate, or striving to love.
The dancers were all dressed in white, and they created a resplendent symmetry mimicking nature's own. The performance was accompanied by a bit of minimalist music - originating from a beating drum, the air passing through a conch shell, and the human vocal cords.
The dancers transformed the plaza at Lincoln Center into a table, with the bountiful water fountain in the middle. Plates appeared, signifying the sharing of a feast ... a spiritual feast ... a prayer for all humanity.
We feel a heavenly sharing of being together, in a single place, at a single time. It's a solemn place, a sagely peace, a peace with each other, a peace within, and a peace with all the world ... even as the world continues to swirl around us, as does the NYC traffic ... but we remain centered ... as one.
At exactly 8.46 am the performance stops. All is still in Lincoln Center Plaza as we observe a minute of silence together. It's a silence within, as we are surrounded by the ambient noise of the city during rush hour. Sixteen years ago at 8.46 am the second of two planes struck the World Trade Center wreaking havoc. Taking lives. Creating chaos.
Cleansed of hate and vengeance - we depart to go on with our days. We have defeated the terrorists, by not giving into their desire for an endless cycle of violence and hate.
Comic Con at Javits Center
12th Annual Comic Con Attracts Record Attendance
I attended the twelfth annual Comic Con Javits Center in Midtown Manhattan on Sunday. The weekend long event starts Thursday and celebrates the fictional comic characters primarily created in the U.S.
Comic Con has become a sort of pre-Halloween celebration, wherein families with kids and adults who continue to nurture the creative child inside, come out in full bloom as you can see in the photo at right depicting a couple of super heroines.
Tickets generally sell out before the event, so you should start looking in late August or early September. The show is generally the first weekend in October at the Javits Center. In 2017 185,000 people reportedly attended the show. Foto 2016.
Panorama Music Fest on Randalls Island
Three Day Musical Festival Strikes a Grammy Chord
I attended the Panorama Music Festival on Randall's Island this past weekend. The music festival featured dozens of top and second tier bands and musicians with the event starting Friday and ending Sunday night. Some of the music festival headliners included award winning groups like Kendrick, Alabama Shakes and the return of LCD after a ten year hiatus. Panorama also featured a number of other highly regarded, well known groups - many of which are likely to continue gaining recognition.
In the photo at right, vocalist Sza, is performing in the Pavilion at the Panorama Music Festival on Randalls Island on Sunday.
The weather over weekend was a very seasonal hot, with temperatures hitting nearly 100 on Saturday [high 98], before descending into the low 90's on Sunday. But the island breeze coming across the East River on Randall's Island and not-too-high humidity, made strolling around the event campus not only doable, but enjoyable. There was also a public water station where you could refill your water bottle [free] and there was ample shade within the tree filled park.
The crowd dressed for Panorama to beat the heat, more than anything else. This translated into a near beach-like scene for people-watching, with many youthful men and women enjoying the glow of their Adonis-like years. In 1992 there was a gender equality lawsuit, which contested women's right to go topless without being arrested - a right men enjoyed in this country since its founding. More than a decade later, in 2015, panhandlers in Times Square began asserting that right by painting their bare breasts with American flags and other designs, while soliciting tips from resident and tourist passers-by, for the pleasure of viewing them. These 'performance artists' were nicknamed the 'Desnudas'.
NYS and NYC Government officials found a way to reign in this practice - as it was creating quite a stir - by confining the solicitations to specified areas within the Times Square Plaza. Fast forward to 2016 and things continue to evolve, with women now wearing swimsuit / lingerie-like tops as fashion statements, some of which were on display at the Panorama Music Festival.
In the photo at right, a woman sports a fashionable swimsuit / lingerie-like top, at the Panorama Music Festival on Randall's Island.
We'll have a bit more later this summer, including video and a discussion of some of the art on exhibit at the Panorama Music Festival on Randall's Island in NYC.
Irish Pubs In Manhattan
Irish Restaurants On St. Patrick's Day In NYC, UES, UWS, Midtown & Village
March 14, 2016 / Manhattan Bars & Pubs / Gotham Buzz NYC.
St. Patrick’s Day is upon us once again and it’s time for one and all, regardless of genetic history, to don their green clothing and head out to the Irish bars for a pint of ale or to the Irish restaurants for some down home Irish fare … or something like that.
This report is about some of the Manhattan Irish bars and restaurants that have survived the test of time, and likely a might bit … more. The Irish pubs include Irish bars and restaurants from the Upper East Side [UES], the Upper West Side [UWS], Midtown Manhattan as well as the East Village, as McSorley's remains not just a pub, but a good piece of history.
Click here to read our report about the Irish Pubs in NYC.
Saving Jamaica Bay
Local Documentary Film At The Queens World Film Festival
March 21, 2016 / Jamaica Neighborhood / NYC Environment & Health / Gotham Buzz NYC.
I attended the 6th annual Queens World Film Festival on Thursday where I had an opportunity to view a film that's been years in the making by a local filmmaker, Dan Hendrick. The film is entitled Saving Jamaica Bay and it's an hour and 16 minute documentary about the ecosystem of New York City's Jamaica Bay.
The film storyline and cinematography capture the juxtaposition and the intensifying struggle, between man and nature. The beauty of the bay is captured on film, showing us that the fair maiden is in distress. But she's being rescued, or at least fought for, by a naturalist and former manager of the National Park Service Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in tandem with a retired fireman and his son, who've taken upon themselves the mission of protecting what was shown to us to be an area of great urban abuse and refuse, but even greater beauty.
Click here to see more still photos and a review of the film entitled Saving Jamaica Bay at the Queens World Film Festival in March. The film is scheduled to be shown at other film festivals throughout the year, a few of which will be listed at the end of this report.
Manhattan: Chinese New Year of the Monkey
Chinese New Year Parade & Brief NYC Chinatown History
February 15, 2016 / Chinatown Manhattan NYC / Things To Do NYC / Gotham Buzz NYC _ D.
Ancient Chinese Calendar Based on Chinese Zodiac & Study of Planets
This past week Manhattan celebrated the Chinese New Year of the Monkey. The Monkey is fun-loving, curious, clever and mischievous. Those born this year, or five Chinese calendar cycles ago in 1944, are born under the influence of the Fire element. There are five elements, and each influences a 12 year / Chinese calendar cycle. We are currently in a Chinese calendrical cycle that is influenced by the Fire sign. It is believed the 12 years corresponds to the 11.86 years it takes Jupiter to revolve around the sun.
Chinese Five Elements Influence 12 Years of the Calendar Cycle
Every calendar cycle is influenced by one of the five elements: metal, water, wood, fire and earth. And each of these natural elements signifies something. The five elements are associated with the five planets nearest to earth which are: Mercury [water], Mars [fire], Venus [metal], Saturn [earth] and Jupiter [wood]. The five elements are all natural and have transformative influences on each other. For instance water can extinguish a fire, a fire can be created with wood, and fire can melt metal. If you study these transformations you will see that they are all connected, like nature itself, a part of a whole. Thus an entire cycle encompasses the five elements times each calendrical [or zodiac] sign for a total of 60 years.
Click here for a brief history of NYC Chinatown in Manhattan and the NYC Chinese New Year Parade in Manhattan.
Architectural Digest Design Show
Provides Vignettes of Living Lovely at Piers 92 & 94
March 21, 2016 / Midtown West Neighborhood / Upper West Side Neighborhood / Fashion & Film NYC / Gotham Buzz NYC _ D.
I attended the Architectural Digest Design Show on Piers 92 & 94 on Thursday afternoon. The show ran through last weekend, providing the public with an opportunity to see the latest and greatest in urban living design and technology.
The show spanned both Piers and included sections dedicated to kitchen, bath, living and dining areas of the home and with a little imagination, possibly the office as well.
The show was well attended by designers, manufacturers, the media, salespeople, buyers and browsers. And the mood seemed buoyant.
Click here to read the rest of our report on the Architectural Digest Design Show incuding the DIFFA on Pier 92.
Man in Profile: Joseph Mitchell of The New Yorker
Columbia School of Journalism Dean Coll Moderates Conversation with Authors Gay Talese & Thomas Kunkel
January 18, 2016 / Upper West Side Neighborhood / Manhattan History / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz.
I received an invitation to attend a conversation at the Columbia School of Journalism about a new book covering the professional life of one of the most prominent writers of The New Yorker magazine. The Columbia University School of Journalism is easily one of the most prestigious journalism schools in the nation; and Columbia also hosts the judging for the Pulitzer Prize, which is considered one of the highest awards a journalist or author can receive.
It was a fairly warm October evening as I made my way north on the subway along the Upper West Side. I got off at 116th Street and walked east through the main campus to the Faculty House. The Faculty House sits atop the Morningside Heights ridge overlooking Harlem, the Upper West Side and the rest of Manhattan.
The entrance into the Faculty House was from an interior courtyard where Columbia University students were hanging around in casual conversations. Once inside, I was directed to an upper floor where the event was being held.
Seated at the head of the room was Gay Talese, a Pulitzer Prize winner and author of numerous books including The Kingdom & The Power. He was in the company of the Dean of the Columbia School of Journalism, Steve Coll, who is also a Pulitzer Prize-winning author having penned several tomes about issues in Asia, most notably the Middle East. And of course, there was the guest author of the evening, Thomas Kunkel, who is the President of St. Norbert College in Wisconsin and who had penned the book being discussed this evening entitled Man in Profile: Joseph Mitchell of The New Yorker.
Midtown International Theater Festival & Short Play Lab 2016
Two Off Off Broadway Theater Festivals Open in Manhattan
March 7, 2016 / Manhattan NYC / Off Broadway Theater NYC / Gotham Buzz NYC _ D.
The Midtown International Theater Festival begins this week and the Short Play Lab begin this weekend. These two incubator theater festivals are the brainchild of John Chatterton, former Publisher of Off Off Broadway World magazine.
Off Off Broadway World magazine was started by Chatterton in 1993, and was published for a number of years in the 1990's, but ultimately didn't survive. Founder, John Chatterton did survive, and he went on to pursue his passion for theater by founding the Midtown International Theater Festival and the Short Play Lab series.
The two theatrical incubators provide a venue for participants to create and produce minimalist performance productions and perform them in front of live audiences, which are oftentimes comprised of many of their fellow participants and peers, as well as those interested in original theatrical works. The Midtown International Theater Festival and Short Play Lab series are both an opportunity to try one's hand at producing and performing an original work in front of a live audience, as well as a good networking venue to meet others aspiring to find their places in the theater business.
I attended a Short Play Lab previously and here's what I found ...
Click here for the full story about the Midtown International Theater Festival & Short Play Lab series both of which begins this week and weekend, respectively.
Midoma - Where Hollywood Has Its Hair Done
Fashion, Fine Art, Fotos & Fun at European Style Hair Salon
February, 2016 / Midtown Manhattan / NYC Shopping / Fashion Facts N' Fun Fiction / Gotham Buzz NYC _ D.
It's not often that one gets to view fine art, have their hair done by a talented European hair stylist, pick up a few fashion tips and walk out feeling like they've just returned from Europe. And that is precisely why Midoma is increasingly becoming a not-so-well-kept-secret.
And so it was, one evening late last August, that I journeyed southwest of Times Square into the northern perimter of the Fashion District to view the works of photographer Greg Stowell at the Midoma Hair Salon in Midtown West.
Photographer Stowell's disarming demeanor - "awe, shucks, you're not talking about me are you" - reminded me of Chauncey Gardener's quiet ascent into the nation's rarified political circles, through disarming humility and simplicty, in the movie 'Being There'.
More to come at a later date. That's photographer Greg Stowell, standing next to his empty-headed ex.
Designing for Quality Retail & Community Use
Design Trust Unveils 'Laying the Groundwork' at the Center for Architecture
March 1, 2016 / Village NYC / NYC Building Design Issues / Gotham Buzz NYC _ D.
I had an opportunity to attend the introductory presentation of 'Laying the Groundwork', which was heralded as a seminal document put together under the auspices of the Design Trust in Manhattan. The event was held at the Center for Architecture at 536 LaGuardia Place, just south of Washington Square Park.
The Design Trust was founded in 1995 by Andrea Woodner, the daughter of Ian Woodner who founded the Jonathan Woodner Company, which Ian named after his son Jonathan - Andrea's brother. The company was renamed Woodner and is a diversified real estate management [2,500 units] and development company in the Washington, D.C. and New York metro markets.
Andrea was first and foremost a sculptor. She later obtained a Masters Degree in Architecture from Columbia University and then went on to found the Design Trust with the intent to fuse the expertise of designers with the use of public space. She defined public space as "anywhere you don't need a key to get into". Andrea stepped down earlier this year as the Board President of Design Trust and was replaced by Eric Rothman, President of HR & A Advisors, a consulting firm.
The thrust of Design Trust has been to marry private design work with the development of public space to create win / win situations. The following is a summary of some of their most significant achievements since the organization was founded.
We'll post more at a later date.
In Search Of A Civilization Lost By Mass Media
LaGuardia College Performing Arts Center Uses Theater & Art To Stimulate Cross Cultural Community Conversation
February 9, 2015 / Queens Theater & Arts / Art & Theater in NYC / Gotham Buzz NYC.
It was nearing sunset on Saturday evening as I made my way through a beautifully quiet Flushing Meadows Corona Park. The clean white snow glistened gently in the fading light, and the leafless trees along the road provided what felt like an ancient natural cathedral.
I checked in at the admissions desk and made my way to the second floor of the Queens Museum. The Queens Museum was once the home to the United Nations and hence provided the perfect context for this community conversational performance. The floor to ceiling windows looked out onto the landmarked Unisphere which emanated a universal vibe. In the long wide hallway a crowd was engaged in clustered conversations following the conclusion of four performances shown that afternoon. I had seen the performances at an event earlier in the season.
I began talking to Tasneem, a member of the audience who is shown in the photo at right standing alongside a photo taken by a friend of hers who is shown in the photo. Tasneem came from Jordan twelve years ago, only two years after 911. She said that it's important for the general populace of Muslims to stop being afraid of showing they're Muslim, because otherwise New Yorkers and the rest of America will be left with the picture of Islam as depicted by a few extremists which is amplified and continually repeated by the American mass media.
I couldn't deny it. It seems American television stations, radio stations, newspapers and magazines are obsessed with providing the Islamic terrorists all the publicity they want.
But here, tonight, in the Queens Museum; I would not see any of the faces shown by our mass media. I would see only the faces of everyday Islamic New Yorkers who generally receive no publicity at all. Muslims who hail from dozens of cultures around the world. And there wasn't a single terrorist among them. Hence - and likely not coincidentally - there also wasn't a single mass medium reporter covering this event.
Tasneem told me how she, like many other American Muslims, fears showing she's Muslim because of the stereotypes created by the terrorists and perpetuated and blown up by the American mass media. The notion of a silent majority came to mind.
It occurred to me that the gore of the Islamic extremists must be good for tabloids and TV ratings. And I pondered what it must feel like to be stereotyped by this relentless, distorted depiction of one's culture and people. Andy Warhol's characterization of the mass production of images came to mind.
I thought about what it would be like if I lived somewhere else in the world where the nation's media mass produced stereotypes of Americans, depicting us as murderers, rapists and thieves. That could easily be done if a nation's media decided to portray Americans by solely covering the 5.6 million violent crimes and the 17.1 million property crimes that took place in this country in 2011 alone [source: Wikipedia / Bureau of Justice Statistics]. That just wouldn't be right ... would it?
And yet, it seems that this is exactly what's been happening to Muslims in America, because of the unbalanced coverage of Islam by the big American mass media companies. The TV and newspaper tabloids make a living by sensationalizing - spinning things out of context - but aren't the real journalists supposed to provide perspective by putting things back in context?
This seems generally not to have been done.
And so the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center applied for and received a grant to begin such an effort. An effort to provide exposure to the lives and contributions of the other billion Muslims who go peacefully and productively about their lives each day, just like most of the rest of us. An effort to create a community conversant with a deeper and broader understanding of a millenial and centuries old culture that is embedded in the lives of over a billion people on the planet. People who live in dozens of nations around the globe, and none of whom are terrorists - and hence generally not represented in the American mass media.
I met American born Charles Bernett of Rego Park who had traveled to Cairo in 1979. Thirty-five years ago he was about to embark on his second trip through Africa ... [see photo at right].
The LaGuardia Performing Arts Center exploratory, year-long, theater and arts, cultural endeavor entitled Beyond Sacred: Unthinking Muslim Identity, more of which you can find on our Queens Buzz website. Click here for a related piece done around the same time about Art & Theater in NYC: Exploring Islamic / Muslim identity in America.
Epitaph To An Era: Whitewash In LIC
Long Island City Loses A Bit Of Its Heart & Soul
Jeffrey Leder Art Gallery Showcases Demise Of 5 Pointz Through Artwork Of Its Circle Of Graffiti Artists
Saturday evening I made my way into Long Island City to attend the opening night of the Whitewash art exhibit at the Jeffrey Leder Gallery. Whitewash is an exhibit of the art works of a collection of the 5 Pointz graffiti artists. These artists recently lost their artistic and spiritual home – the 5 Pointz building in LIC - and the exhibit opening was part funerary rites and celebration of a new beginning. The photo to your right shows one of the paintings on exhibit at the Whitewash art exhibit at the Jeffrey Leder Gallery in LIC.
As I got off the #7 train, I decided to swing by the building to witness its whitewashed walls. I took a couple of photos of them, recalling prior visits to the outdoor art gallery, where every five to ten feet, in vivid living color, one could witness the creation of a local graffiti artist. The outdoor gallery exhibits would change, piece by piece, week by week, month by month and year by year. There always seemed to be a few artists working the walls. The 5 Pointz building is southeast of the Court Square subway stop, and for drivers it’s just across from PS1 MoMA on Jackson Avenue between Crane & Davis Streets.
As I shot photos of the walls and loading dock area, I could still see in my mind, the outdoor parties of the past. I recalled the art exhibits that had been thrown over the years, with music emanating from somewhere. Intellectually we all know it was within the building owner’s rights to whitewash his own building. And it isn’t hard for anyone to understand why the building owner would want to reap a huge profit by razing the building and erecting a new structure from which the cash will flow. I reckoned we were lucky to have had the years we had, to enjoy the beauty and the beat of the graffiti on the street, seen from the windows of the subway train as it snaked its way through LIC.
So with these thoughts, I headed onto 45th Road, to the Jeffrey Leder art gallery to witness and participate in the Whitewash art exhibit opening night reception. Click here to read our report about Whitewash art exhibit / 5 Pointz in LIC. NYC Art & Artists NYC.
Frieze Art Fair NYC - Randall's Island
Fun Fair Attracts Artists, Friendly Financiers & Fashionistas
The Third Annual Frieze Art Fair turned out to be ... in a word ... FUN.
It was held on Randall's Island, which once one makes the effort, turns out to be an easy and enjoyable get-away from the din of the big city. Traffic thins out and slows down, and one can again see the horizon. With the NYC skyline in the background and the East River water slowly flowing on by, the locale almost seems idyllic.
Inside the white tented structure, complete with flowing ribbons and a lofty airy vaulted ceiling, there were literally tons of people milling about. But the fair managers had done a good job of figuring out how to comfortably accommodate the 8,000 people who passed through daily [except Saturday due to rain].
The fair easily encompassed enough space to hold one or more football fields. The structure was designed as a rectangle with four quadrants. And where the quadrants met, there was a cafe / rest area / and outdoor patio space.
We'll post more at a later date including a photo slide show of the 2014 Frieze Art Fair in NYC.
Jamaican Jerk Festival NYC
Afro Caribbean Cultural Event In Queens
It was a warm, dry, sunny Sunday, as I made my way into Roy Wilkins Park in Jamaica. Today was the 2nd annual Jamaican Jerk Festival, that I’d been waiting in anticipation for over the past few weeks. The Jamaican Jerk Festival is a combination reggae concert and food festival.
I entered through the gates of Roy Wilkins Park in the southern Jamaica neightborhood of Queens, as a slight breeze willowed its way through the trees and crowd. There were retail vendor tents to my left, with displays of vibrantly colored clothing and fashion jewelry Afro Caribbean style. Caps, hats, dresses, shirts and scarves hung loosely in little white tents, as shoppers and merchants mingled and did business.
Click here to read our report and view photos of the Jamaican Jerk Festival in Jamaica Queens NYC.
Taste of LIC - Food Festivals in Queens
The Chocolate Factory Theatre Produces Another Winner
The Chocolate Factory of LIC has been putting on avante garde theatrical productions in LIC since 2004, and organizing the Taste of LIC since 2005. I’ve attended a couple of them, and the Taste of LIC seems to provide the right blend of scene, scenery and 'tasty' nibbles and drinks, which keeps us coming back.
In this report we’ll journey to about a dozen food and beverage tables where I sampled some of each restaurateur’s wares. Click here to read the rest of our report and view the photos of the delicious food and beverages provided by LIC restaurants & wine stores at the Taste of LIC 2012.
Click here to read our report and view photos of the Taste of LIC 2012. Food Festivals in NYC.
Persona Performa - Ming Wong At MOMI
Museum of the Moving Image Steps Out In Astoria
People were lined up outside of the Museum of the Moving Image [MOMI] on both Thursday and Friday nights. They were waiting to see Ming Wong’s performance art production entitled Persona Performa. The production title tidily summed up its essence – an art performance based on an Ingmar Bergman film entitled Persona, which was being performed for Performa 11, the fourth biennial visual arts festival in NYC.
Artistic director, Ming Wong, developed the piece during his residency at MOMI in 2011. He told us that the inspiration for the production came from the minimalist architecture of the museum and an Ingmar Bergman film, Persona, which is generally believed to be one of the ten best works of cinematic art. The Ming Wong video piece Persona Performa Panorama will continue to be on view in the lobby until April 1st of 2012.
Click here to read our report of Ming Wong Persona Performa at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria - avante garde film in NYC.
Fashionable Clothing in Queens NYC
Come To Fashion Show Features Local Designers & Models
On April 21st the first annual Come To Fashion show stepped out into the fashion world in the Jamaica section of Queens. The fashion show featured local fashion designers, local models and local retailers doing business in Jamaica Queens.
When I arrived at the Jamaica Performing Arts Center, I was pleasantly surprised by top tier polished look and feel of the entire production. Jamaica Center, the Jamaica BID, had hired a designer to create an original venue through which to present the models and the designers' clothing and those of us who attended were able to mingle with the models via the unique set design used for the show.
Click here to view photos and read our report about the Come To Fashion show - design, style & fashion shows in NYC.
Feared Immigrantula Seizes PS1
Hundreds Held Spellbound & Released Unharmed Saturday
I have to admit, it was frightening. I was there and I saw it. The long feared 'Immigrantula' swept through PS1 Art Museum and captivated a spellbound audience Saturday afternoon.
I arrived at PS1 Art Museum around 3 pm. I had decided to check out the Saturday afternoon art performance entitled 'We Have Come To Take Your Jobs'. And even though it was a nearly perfect day outside, I found hundreds of people waiting for the performance to begin, in one of large rooms on the third floor of the museum. The lights were out and videos were playing on two large screens that hung along the back wall of the large room. It was hot and steamy, as drapes hung over the doorways, sealing the human heat inside. Modern music with a rock beat filled the space. It reminded me of a downtown Manhattan club in the late 80's.
Click here to read more about the live art performance and photos of Immigrantula at PS1 Art Museum in Long Island City LIC. Art, artists, galleries & musems in NYC.
American Meat - Unfinished Film
Documentary About Current State Of Food & Farming
I managed to obtain an invitation to a screening of American Meat, which is an unfinished documentary film, at Cafe Marlene in Sunnyside. The screening was sponsored by Queens Harvest Co-op, which is an organization working to build an organic food cooperative in Queens.
The film is a rather eye opening look into how the economics of food / meat production in this country have taken us down an unsustainable path. A path which not only has significant health implications, but possibly even more dire consequences. The film provides an intelligent, behind-the-scenes look at how economics have been driving: 1) food production methods, 2) the composition of what's in the meat being sold at the grocery store, and 3) what we're feeding our children and ourselves.
The film was envisioned and began production in the spring of 2007 and the producers are hoping to finish it in 2011. Click here to view our preview of the unfinished documentary film entitled American Meat independent film at Cafe Marlene in Sunnyside and hosted by Queens Harvest Co-op. NYC Health Issues & Food Quality in NYS & America.
Fresh Pasta Made Daily In Queens NY
Cassinelli Food Products Company
The Astoria neighborhood used to be heavily populated with Italian immigrants, particularly in the first half of the 20th century. They brought with them their knowledge and skills about food and wine, the products of which became, in time, a part of the American culture.
This is a report about the Cassinelli Food Products company. It's one of the last old world Italian pasta making companies in Queens. The Cassinelli pasta company makes fresh pasta in the Astoria neighborhood of Queens daily.
Click here to read the full report about fresh pasta in Astoria Queens NYC.
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