The Mother of Parades is Full of Surprises

November 19, 2017 in Culture and History | Comments (0)


Santa Claus at the Thanksgiving Day Parade. Photo by tweber1.

You have most likely been watching the Macy’s iconic Thanksgiving Day Parade since you were just a wee thing, but methinks there are many facts about the parade you do not know. So just so that your enjoyment level is set to high this coming turkey day, here is a list of fun facts you most likely had no idea about, and didn’t even know that you cared about, until now.

1. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was launched for the first time in 1924, making it the second oldest of them all.
2. The first few parades were called “Christmas Parades” even though they took place on Thanksgiving. Go figure.
3. The first parade featured camels, monkeys, elephants and bears from the Central Park Zoo.
4. From 1928 until 1932 it was easier to just let the giant balloons fly away then to take them down and deflate them, and that is exactly what they did.
5. Today’s parade requires and enormous number of behind-the-scenes workers- to prepare the 4,000 volunteers for the parade requires 230 dressers and 100 make-up artists.
6. Those balloons require huge amounts of helium. Only the US government uses more each year.
7. Handling those balloons is not easy. “Balloon pilots must walk backwards the entire 2.5 mile parade route.
8. Not just people, but balloons can also serve their country. During WWII the gigantic balloons were donated to the government to provide much needed rubber.
9. The scenes of the Thanksgiving Day Parade which are included in the classic movie Miracle on 34th Street were shot of the actual 1946 edition of the parade.

Other Worldly Art Appeal at the Holocenter

October 25, 2017 in Art | Comments (0)

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DNA model projected by Pyramid Hologram. Photo by MagzhanArtykov.

Holographic art is an entirely different type of aesthetically pleasing experience. As a visual art, holography is compared with painting and drawing, but in many ways it is more like sculpture, due to the three dimensional effect it exploits.

If you have never been to an exhibition of holographic art, you are missing something otherworldly and hard to put into words. Although the Holocenter is closed in the winter, you still have a few more days, until October 29, to go to Governor’s Island where the Holocenter has exhibits of this unique art form.

The Holocenter has a number of workshops for those interested in getting more involved in holography. These include a Mapping Place workshop and Pulse Laser Holography workshop. There are also two residencies, one for Pulse Laser Production, and another to learn about Light and Space. The Holocenter also sponsors a workshop to learn about Alternative Realities: Virtual and Augmented experiences.

Visitors have an assortment of things to do and see when they visit the center: Visitors can make their own hologram; play with light in amazing new ways, and attend optics camp.

To get to the center on Governor’s Island, visitors must take a ferry, either from lower Manhattan, or from Brooklyn.

Seaport Music Festival Ready to Roll

September 5, 2017 in Entertainment | Comments (0)

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South Street Seaport, New York City, NY. Photo courtesy Prayitno.

The South Street Seaport Music Festival will celebrate its 15th anniversary this September 7-10, and its sure to be an unforgettable experience.

The festival was founded in 2002 to be a gateway for nascent bands to help them break into the bigger New York music festivals down the road. Some of those ‘newbies’ have gone on to successful music careers, including Sufjan Stevens, Hot Chip and Dr. Dog, Joanna Newsom, and many more.

This year you can be sure the talent is high and excitement will be electric. The festival will be welcoming such newcomers as Jean Grae, Death Valley Girls, Azar Swan, and a huge additional list of groups and individuals.

Music is not the only entertainment on offer. If you are a fan of NPR then you have probably heard of Ophira Eisenberg. She is a host of the radio network’s trivia comedy show “Ask Me Another.”

Eisenberg is a comedian and a writer, and as a host of the popular show she has interviewed and played funny games with a varied group of artists, including, Sir Patrick Stewart, Weird Al, Ethan Hawke, and others.

She has been on Comedy Central, Girls, The Late Late Show, The Today Show, and VH-1. She has performed on The Moth as well as hosted it, and she recently released her second comedy album, “BANGS!”

As you can see, this is a festival not to be missed. See you there!

Pier 54: A Neglected Bit of New York History

August 10, 2017 in Culture and History | Comments (0)

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Arrival of the “ship of sorrow” at New York. Drawing by L.F. Grant (Boston Globe artist)

A sad bit of New York history awaits visitors who would like to see the place where the survivors of the Titanic finally disembarked at the end of their tragic journey from Europe to the United States.

The Titanic, if it had made it until the end of its maiden voyage without sinking in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean after striking an iceberg, would have docked at Pier 59 on the Hudson River. Instead, the survivors were rescued by the Carpathia and brought back to New York to disembark at Pier 54 just a few blocks south of Pier 59. About 40,000 people were waiting at the dock to great the survivors, or to hear the terrible news that a friend or loved one had not made it home alive.

A mere three years later, in 1915, a ship called the Lusitania departed from the very same Pier 54. It was torpedoed by a German U-boat off the coast of Ireland, sinking only 20 minutes later with almost the all 2000 of its passengers and crew on board.

Today the pier is part of Hudson River Park. There are several plans to restore the pier to how it looked in the early 20th century, but so far none have come to anything. Visitors today will find an empty strip of metal and concrete reaching out into the waters of the Hudson River, a dark reminder of the sad history written there.

The story of the Titanic seems to have only grown over the years, but interest in the pier seems to be fading instead.

Summer in the City is Sensational

July 18, 2017 in Entertainment | Comments (0)

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PJ Harvey @ Coachella 2011. Photo courtesy of PJ Harvey.

Free this evening? There are all sorts of events and parties to choose from, every night of the week. Here is what’s going on just this coming Wednesday, July 19, 2017.

  • Cruising has never been so convenient and easy. The fun starts at 6:30pm from Pier 15 at 78 South Street, Pavillion 2, at Fletcher. For a mere $20 you will sail up the great Hudson River on Hornblower’s Sensation. You will get to dance your heart out to live DJ’s music on all of the boats three decks. Francis Ford Coppola Diamond Collection wines will also be on hand, as will some light snacks and a temporary tatoo bar called Tatty’s.
  • The Hudson River will also be the backdrop for a just-like-the-old-days outdoor movie. Come to Pier 1 at Riverside Park at 7pm for a free showing of the Barbra Streisand comedy “What’s Up, Doc?” Released in 1972, you will probably laugh until you cry while you watch Barbra, Ryan O’Neil and Madeline Kahn go screwy all over the big screen.
  • Do you have some money left in your entertainment budget? The why not spend a mere $49.50 on a ticket to see PJ Harvey in Central Park. This alt-rock icon will be giving a benefit performance at the Rumsey Playfield at 8:30pm in the wake of her recent release of “The Hope Six Demolition Project.”

Choe Completes Latest Mural on Lower East Side Wall

June 8, 2017 in Art | Comments (0)

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Art by David Choe in Facebook HQ main lobby. Photo courtesy of Kelly DeLay

Come down to Bowery and Houston on the Lower East Side and see the latest offering from expert mural artist David Choe, which he completed at 4am on Sunday morning, June 4th.

This wall has been the showcase for a long and impressive cast of artists, beginning in the ‘70s when Keith Haring painted his noteworthy mural there. This particular urban canvas is so intertwined with inner-city that it has become known as the Houston Bowery Graffiti Wall.

Before Choe put up his work a piece by artist duo PichiAvo adorned the wall, which is owned by Goldman Properties.

Choe’s work on this wall began on March 28, taking a bit more than a month to complete. He just finished another artwork in Miami of a similar nature. He is one of the most famous mural artist to work on this wall, getting his start painting murals for Facebook in Silicon Valley in 2005.

The artist is almost more famous for his business acumen than his artwork. When he was hired by Facebook in 2005 he was given the choice of being paid $60,000 for his work, or taking stock in the then-start-up company. Several years later Facebook went public and Choe found himself a millionaire with Facebook stock worth about $200 million. Since his brilliant business decision, he has become a highly sought-after graffiti artist.

Goldman Properties says the mural will be visible until the end of October.

A Look Back at What Artists Were Doing When They Were Just Kids

April 27, 2017 in Art | Comments (0)

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In an interesting and different kind of retrospective, ProjectArt put together 23 pieces from children between the ages of 5 and 17 who later went on to become actual, important artists.

The showing is for one day only, will include a children’s art workshop, and is the inaugural benefit exhibition for ProjectArt. On display will be the childhood works of artists Urs Fischer, Cecily Brown, Katherine Bernhardt, and Raashaad Newsome.

Young visitors to the showing will read statements from the artist themselves, such as “I’ve never liked drawing exactly what I see,” said by Kiki Valdes, who will lead the drip-in drawing and collage workshop between 1 and 3pm.

ProjectArt is a nonprofit organization which offers children’s workshops around the country, in cities such as Detroit, Miami and New York. It is the country’s largest free art school, but does not own even one building.

The exhibit takes place at Red Bull Arts New York at 220 West 18th Street on Saturday, April 29th, from 10am to 7pm. It is free and open to the public.

Klarman Warns Investors to Be Cautious

March 7, 2017 in Business | Comments (0)

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Seth Klarman, Baupost Group Owner. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

A private letter written two weeks by Seth A. Klarman to his Baupost Group investors has become one of the most popular reading items on Wall Street in recent memory.

This is not that big of a surprise considering that Klarman, called by The Economist magazine as “The Oracle of Boston,” is most likely the most successful and influential investor that you probably never heard of.

Well known in Wall Street circles, Klarman tends to keep a low profile outside the rarefied environment of finance. One of the few hedge fund managers to earn the praise of Warren Buffet, Klarman declared in his letter the need to come down from the unreasonably high expectations President Donald Trump’s promises has buoyed the investment community with.

Describing the stock market’s response to the election of Trump as a collection of “perilously high valuations.”

“Exuberant investors have focused on the potential benefits of stimulative tax cuts, while mostly ignoring the risks from America-first protectionism and the erection of new trade barriers,” he wrote.

“President Trump may be able to temporarily hold off the sweep of automation and globalization by cajoling companies to keep jobs at home, but bolstering inefficient and uncompetitive enterprises is likely to only temporarily stave off market forces,” he continued. “While they might be popular, the reason the U.S. long ago abandoned protectionist trade policies is because they not only don’t work, they actually leave society worse off.”

Specifically, Klarman fears that investors have become blinded by all the Trump pro-growth policies without giving much thought to the full consequences of such policies. Klarman is nervous about Trump’s stimulus activities actually proving to be “quite inflationary, which would shock investors.”

He is also worried about the expanding national debt that Klarman thinks will undermine long term growth of the economy.

“The Trump tax cuts could drive government deficits considerably higher,” Mr. Klarman wrote. “The large 2001 Bush tax cuts, for example, fueled income inequality while triggering huge federal budget deficits. Rising interest rates alone would balloon the federal deficit, because interest payments on the massive outstanding government debt would skyrocket from today’s artificially low levels.”

Stabilis Capital and TRB Advisors: Working Together

February 9, 2017 in Business | Comments (0)

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TRB Advisors has been the largest investor to Stabilis Capital of New York funds since its establishment.  For example, the Stabilis Fund IV, launched in 2015, received the majority of its investment from that firm, headed by Timothy Barakett, who acts as Stabilis Capital’s non-executive Chairman.

Barakett has so far been “impressed” with the performance of Stabilis Capital and believes the privately-held investment management firm has “an exciting investment pipeline.”  Stabilis’ focus is on asset-oriented distressed debt as well as other distinct situations, mainly in America.

Looking at the firm’s asset under management, since its launch six years ago, Stabilis has successfully raised more than $1.2 billion via different investments.  In addition, it has built up secure relationships with investors such as Barakett, which has resulted in the development of a “deep and scalable capital base.”


Get Thee to a Monastery: Manhattan’s Cloisters in Fort Tryon Park

January 30, 2017 in Museums | Comments (0)

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The Cloisters, Manhattan, NYC. Photo courtesy of Urban.

On the northern fringes of Manhattan there exists an almost mystical park that is resoundingly deserving of a visit. Known as the Cloisters, or more correctly, Fort Tryon Park, this unique site is a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Fort Tryon Park is perched on a hill overlooking the meandering Hudson River, far from the hustle and bustle of the usual Manhattan atmosphere.  The Cloisters occupies four of the parks 67 acres, and is dedicated to showcasing the incredible artwork, architecture and gardens of the medieval period in Europe.

Architect Charles Collens was asked to design the museum in the early 1930s to house John D. Rockefeller’s famous collection of medieval art which he has acquired from American sculptor and collector George Gray Bernard in 1925 and promptly donated to the Met. Collens was not only inspired by medieval architecture, but several original cloisters from French monasteries where shipped to the US and, stone by stone, were incorporated into Collens’ design.

Today the museum features many aspects of medieval European monastic architecture, including stained-glass windows, sculptures, column capitals, medieval portals, and exquisite gardens which were planted according to information kept in manuscripts from that era.

The museum houses over 2,000 incredible works of art, and between the gardens, the architecture and the view, it is a joy to visit.