Daily photographs by HANS VON RITTERN, with humorous, artistic and social commentary on life in the big city.

Archive for September, 2013

Photo of the day: BOYCOTT BARILLA PASTA !

Photo of the day: BOYCOTT BARILLA PASTA ! – Guido Barilla, president of century old pasta purveyors last week became the Anita Bryant of his time “I would never make a spot with a homosexual family,” Guido Barilla said on the Italy radio program La Zanzara (The Mosquito), according to Italian news agency ANSA. “Not out of a lack of respect but because I do not see it like they do. (My idea of) family is a classic family where the woman has a fundamental role.”
That bigoted small minded comment has caused an backlash spreading fear in the company’s accounting department as sales started to drop. At a open minded dinner table no longer will Russian Vodka and Italian Barilla pasta be served. This takes me back to 1977 when the right wing Christian Florida orange juice queen Anita Bryant declared her war on gays.

In 1977,Dade County Florida, passed an ordinance that prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Bryant led a highly publicized campaign to repeal the ordinance as the leader of a coalition named Save Our Children. The campaign was based on conservative Christian beliefs regarding the sinfulness of homosexuality and the perceived threat of homosexual recruitment of children and child molestation. Bryant said:

“What these people really want, hidden behind obscure legal phrases, is the legal right to propose to our children that theirs is an acceptable alternate way of life. I will lead such a crusade to stop it as this country has not seen before.”

The campaign began an organized opposition to gay rights that spread across the nation. Jerry “I have sinned!” Falwell went to Miami to help her. Bryant made the following statements during the campaign: “As a mother, I know that homosexuals cannot biologically reproduce children; therefore, they must recruit our children” and “If gays are granted rights, next we’ll have to give rights to prostitutes and to people who sleep with St. Bernards and to nail biters.”She also added that “All America and all the world will hear what the people have said, and with God’s continued help we will prevail in our fight to repeal similar laws throughout the nation.” Well . . . Anita suffered a backlash like none that had been seen before. Her many commercial endorsements ceased one by one. TV show and concert appearances were canceled. She was heckled and booed wherever she went including having a pie thrown in her face.

Anita Bryant

Anita Bryant

If you want to stop or hurt someone – you hit them in the pocketbook which is exactly what we did! Secretly sold at the time (1977) in head shops, were rings that had razor blades hidden in their design. So, in the days before store camera surveillance, you went to the orange juice section of the grocery store – and let your ring hand slide over allllll the orange juice cartons. No juice = no $ale. Stores terrified of further vandalism stopped carrying Florida orange juice. In the end, gays won. Anita suffered bankruptcy and divorce after divorce finally being reduced to selling religious sunglasses. Yes, you read that right, they had scripture on the inside stems.

So Mr. Guido Barilla . . . I may not still have my razor blade ring, but – I will gladly poke my finger through the cellophane of all you pasta boxes in the local supermarkets. The tactic was very effective the first time. Ready everyone: POKE!

Photo of the day: WHO WORE IT BEST? (Cher fans wig out)


Photo of the day: WHO WORE IT BEST? – Whilst waiting for Cher to make her en-trance and exit from the David Letterman show, we Cher fans had a little fun with a replica of the now iconic paper wig that Cher wears her new “It’s A Woman’s World” video. Our wig was made by awesome super fan Jamilka Gonzalez. So…who wore it best?


Photo of the day: CHER, THE OLIVE BRANCH AND HANS – After having written my now very much read criticism of Cher’s entrance and exit from the Letterman show, the article has caused some interesting reactions and or effects. Yes of course I got my haters and then – many agreed with me. It seems the article, via twitter, blog, Facebook, however, got to Cher’s people (!) and an olive branch was extended. My olive branch was being “on the list” with my good friend Janet Novick to attend a private catered listening party for “Closer To The Truth” at the not opened yet Club Tao on West 16th Street. They were still painting the walls as we got there.

Club Tao  West 19th Street

Club Tao
West 19th Street

Club Tao  West 19th Street

The club is a cross of 80’s feel seating, geisha girl murals painted on exposed brick walls, candles everywhere and quiet elegance. Hors d’oeuvre and champagne were free flowing. Drag queens were on the balcony above to dance to her music while the chosen few mingled below.
Cher’s people, fan club members and friends who had read my article “Cher Distances Herself from Her Fans” insisted that the ‘distant’ Cher is controlled by Ebar, the head of her now over-the-top security team. “Cher is still the loveable Cher we all love, it’s her (relatively) new team!” everyone said. From having now studied the photos of Cher’s arrival at Letterman it is more and more obvious.
Frenzy took over the room when Cher descended slowly down the stairs into the club. Janet and I went to see and noticed she, despite her heels, had gotten a lot taller – it was the damned good impersonator Steven Andrade who happened to love Janet.


Janet Novick and Steven Andrade as Cher

Janet Novick and Steven Andrade as Cher

Hans - tall Cher - Janet

Hans – tall Cher – Janet

Steven adores Janet and called Janet ‘a celebrity in her own right’ so Steven/Cher wanted to take Janet and me to meet the real Cher, so she snuck us out of the club and into the underground garage where Cher was just about to arrive. There she was! A surreal moment: me, Janet, ‘tall Cher, the real Cher and a few of her security team, alone – in this underground garage. No I didn’t have my camera because it was all so sudden and the sight of my fancy camera might have whisked Cher away. So there we were the four of us. Hans, Janet, Cher and Cher! Cher laughed and said “You’re taller! I like your outfit, you look good!” Smiled broadly and waved at us and entered the club. What a Cher/Cher moment!! Thank you dear Steven Andrade !
Cher and Club Drag Queens

Cher and Club Drag Queens

"I hope you like my album, er...CD!"

“I hope you like my album, er…CD!”

"I love you all"

“I love you all”

Inside the surge was on to get close to the real Cher. My problem was, no “professional cameras” allowed. So while everyone was flashing away with their cell phones, I wasn’t allowed take pictures. 😦 You see, my cell phone is a lousy 3G dinosaur age phone with no flash.) There I was close to her and no pics! Watching her up close you could see she was gracious as ever, but always ‘led’ by her walled team. (I did finally sneak the few photos you see here.)
Serving fierceness

Serving fierceness

> Here is where I will amend what I have written earlier. It is not totally Cher distancing herself from her fans. She is still as warm an fuzzy as ever and has a steel trap mind, remembering people on the spot that she had not seen in years and tries to reach out to them. > It is her security detail! < They barricaded her everywhere she moved. There was a ‘Believe’ record producer “Mike” who even had a hard time getting to her. We were about 150 privately invited, pre-screened guests and ~still~ the over the top security walled her off. I watched her closely, Cher is still Cher, just as her team of fans insisted, she has just been walled away from us. But – I will still argue, Cher should be a “strong enough” woman to say “I’m going over there, etc” and do so, but since she has put herself in Ebar’s hands, there is nothing we can do and we Cher fans will have to learn to accept her at somewhat of a distance now.
Cher speaks from the heart

Cher speaks from the heart

Ok – so I’m not “done” with Cher. It is a sad loss of old ‘accessible Cher’, maybe she will get enough complaints, maybe she will eventually stand strong and see the light and look more to her fans at events. Maybe one day when she does the wheel chair tour, the security around her will have changed, Cher will never change inside. Cher now reaches out simply in the ‘new way’, a fast and furious opinionated tweeter. It’s a different age I’ll have to catch up to.
Cher - I forgot to thank Tao?!

Cher – I forgot to thank Tao?!

"Did I do OK?"

“Did I do OK?”

So – to be in the room with her and to see her flawless face and fabulous clothes was a thrill. My thanks to Cher’s circle, John Torello and the fan club for extending the olive branch to me, it did make me think . . . “what would  I have done without Cher?!?” 🙂



Photo of the day: CHER DISTANCES HERSELF FROM HER TRUE FANS!Cher, Your old time fans, were standing outside the Letterman stage door since 11am in the center right opposite your car! We were put behind security fences, fine. Bomb sniffing dogs checked us out front and back, fine. Your choreographer Dori came out and spoke to us, some of your crew did as well. They knew many of us by name and were very warm and friendly.  We waited patiently. YET – when you arrived you did not open your eyes to see your true diehard fans dressed in Cher regalia from head to toe that you should be grateful for. Instead, you let yourself be ‘led’ over to the area in the open street with NO security fence that had not been checked and the greedy ebay hustlers professing their love to you to get autographs (Clue Cher: true fans want a photo, not an Ebayable signature.) Any blind fool could see your fans were totally dissed. But when you arrived in your SUV Escalade and your very rude and nasty security entourage turned what had been a love fest into a stunning snub. I will not be buying your CD or concert ticket. After 50 years of my loyal undying devotion, the nerve has been severed. Three strikes and you’re out. I never ever thought I would say this but – I’m done. 
   If you can’t take the few seconds it takes to open your eyes and see the true faces of the people that have had your back since the 1960’s standing there, then what you implied is truly true “I don’t have the time. Cher, if this is “a woman’s world” then why don’t you be your own woman? You did the EXACT same thing last time you were at Letterman and left your fans that had stood there for as much as 7 hours in the November cold. Same upturned hand gestures, same entourage, same “I’m running late” excuse. ‘Tell the truth’ you are Cher, the most in demand/talked about music artist right now. Whoever is waiting for you, will wait an extra 60 seconds. With your huge crew – you are never ever on time?? There were fans there from Boston who took a day off, from Connecticut and lost a days pay, a fan FROM BELGIUM who flew in to see you, yes Belgium, yet you have turned into the Bette Midler of celebrities, who can’t be bothered to pose 60 seconds for photos for your true fans – or at least even smile! On top of all else, on the day of your CD release no less, you wouldn’t even bother to pose for one decent photo for the press. (The still photo you see of Cher on the internet is of her turning away from the press, a still moment giving the illusion she was cooperative. The press yelled at her: “Cher we need a clean shot!” She would not oblige.) To bite the hand that feeds your 67 year old self is dangerous. Your press and fans are seeing this ugly trend.
Cher – if “I” could turn back time, I would want the non elite, humble, good natured, open eyed, accessible Cher back, not you. 
Die hard Cher fans

Die hard Cher fans

Cher’s New York appearances on The NBC Morning Today Show and David Letterman left her fans literally out in the cold too. For the Today show, fans camped out overnight 24 hours in advance in the cold to be in front to see her. The Today show people put the overnighters in the third section in the back so you could not see a thing. Who got front row preference? The corporate sponsors and NBC’S lottery winners, not the die-hards who have supported her since the 1960’s and 1970’s. Lady Gaga would not stand for that.



Photo of the day: OOM PAH PAH, GERMANS ARE WUNDERBAR! – At the turn of the last century one third of the population of New York spoke German, today hardly anyone does anymore and the all German neighborhoods I grew up with are gone. East 86th Street in Manhattan and Ridgewood Queens were my “nachtbarschaften” with all German shops and restaurants. As of the 2000 census 255,536 New Yorkers reported German ancestry but not necessarily German speaking. In the middle of the 19th century, Little Germany, situated in what is now termed Alphabet City, was the first non-English-speaking urban enclave in the United States.
Nonetheless, the 56th German-American Steuben Parade is ready to march up Fifth Avenue this Saturday, September 21st, at 12 Noon, under what will likely be a clear blue sky and the New York City sun! At last count, parade organizers expect approximately 5,000 marchers to go up Fifth Avenue, most of them in marching bands, dance groups, Trachten, in Karneval costumes or uniform. “Putting the parade line-up together this year was a tremendous joy,” says Steuben Parade General Chairman Lars Halter. “We have 20 groups from Germany in the parade, plus one group each from Switzerland and Canada.” These groups range from the Polizeimusikkorps Basel to members and staff of a kitchen museum near Hannover, who present traditional cooking outfits. Groups include three well-known Karveval dance troups: Blau-Weiss Sarnia from Ontario/Canada, “De Hoppemötzjer” from Cologne and the “Wild Dancers” from the town of Nonnweiler. There will be several Schützenclubs in their traditional uniforms.
The 2013 Steuben Parade marches up Fifth Avenue from 68th to 86th Street, leading into New York City´s largest Oktoberfest, which has been sold out for weeks. Tickets to the Grand Stand can still be bought in our online store, and there are many blocks on Fifth Avenue to enjoy the parade for free.
Also, the Steuben Parade will once again be broadcast live, for the third time in a row. The program can be seen on WNET (Channel 13) on Saturday from 12-2 PM. There will be a repeat of the parade on Sunday at 9 am on WLIW (Channel 21). The parade broadcast will be hosted by legendary supermodel and former Steuben Parade Grand Marshal Carol Alt and renowned newsman and multiple Emmy winner Larry Mendte.



Photo of the day: A PIECE OF THE SKY – BARCLAYS CENTER OCULUS – Built in 2012 to much controversy in downtown Brooklyn, the brand new indoor Barclays sports and concert arena does create a mesmerizing presence to a once decaying area. Built of rusting/”pre-weathered” steel plates made to emulate Brooklyn’s brownstones, it seems to float over the area’s Atlantic Avenue transit hub.
An 117-by-56-foot (36 by 17 m) “Oculus” extends over a 5,660-square-foot (526 m2) section of the plaza outside of the main arena entrance, and contains an irregularly-shaped display screen that loops around on the inside of the structure offering you at times the illusion of a slice of sky.

Photo of the day: KODACHROME


Photo of the day: KODACHROME – When was the last time you saw this awning over a photo store? !
The reason I love to take my guests on my five hour tour of Brooklyn is because you come to wonderful neighborhoods like Park Slope where you don’t see one god damned chain store for as far as the eye can see! You can still see mom and pop shops like 40 year old PHOTOFACTION on 7th Avenue/corner Carroll Avenue, making you think of Paul Simon’s immortal 1974 lyrics “…don’t take my Kodachrome away.”
You give us those nice bright colors
You give us the greens of summers
Makes you think all the world’s a sunny day, oh yeah!
I got a Nikon camera
I love to take a photograph
So Mama, don’t take my Kodachrome away!”
(Photos, by the way, are those paper print outs of your pictures on your iPhone. Film is not the grease on your eye glasses it’s a strip or sheet of transparent plastic film base coated on one side with a gelatin emulsion containing microscopically small light-sensitive silver halide crystals. The sizes and other characteristics of the crystals determine the sensitivity, contrast and resolution of the film.)
PHOTOFACTION: 117 7th Ave. Brooklyn, N.Y. 11215 (Between President Street. & Carrol Street.)



Photo of the day: HANS MEETS JUDGE JUDY ON 17 YEAR TV ANNIVERSARY ! ! ! !  – On the day after Judge Judy’s 17th year anniversary of having the longest running and highest rated court show in America, I had the glorious privilege of meeting her honor in person! I have admired her no nonsense moralistic, old values, harsh humorous stance on the law approach to our court system since September 16, 1996 – 17 years, no one can compare.
First and foremost – at 70 years old, she looks better in person than on TV! A soft complexion and looking radiant and youthful as ever, beaming warm smiles, filled with spunk, humor and above all gracious. I think that’s why she has such a loyal following, the ‘court Judy’ is not the ‘in person Judy’, she is an iron judge in a velvet shell.
Where else but NYC's 92nd Street 'Y' can you see Linda Ronstadt and Judge Judy?!

Where else but NYC’s 92nd Street ‘Y’ can you see Linda Ronstadt and Judge Judy?!

Judge Judy was being interviewed by Katie Couric at the 92nd Street “Y” (YMCA). I arrived 2 hours early and waited by the stage door wearing my “I Judge Judy”
t-shirt. More than anything I desperately wanted my picture taken with her. At 7:30pm she arrived, wearing an elegant suit, husband Judge Jerry Sheindlin by her side. She immediately saw my shirt and said “Well, I have to go over there!” It was absolutely surreal to see her in person after having seen her on TV, sometimes 4 x’s a day, finally there she was…talking to ME. Another fan took the picture with my arms around Judy, finally the t-shirt and Judy were together after allll these years, my heart was pounding!! We took a few pictures and I asked if I may tell her something important to me, from my heart. She took my hand in hers, held it tightly and with the warmest smile she said “go ahead”. GULP! I said my rehearsed words: “You – are my drop of rain on the desert. There are times when I can’t even bear to watch the TV news anymore for the lack of sensible laws, the lack of logic and morals, the political infighting, it’s the same day after day. But then there’s you. . .the voice of reason, and then everything is bearable again, thank you for that!” She squeezed my hand tightly and I felt like I could fly!
Once inside the sold out event, the interview began and Katie had her prepared questions. The one thing Katie learned quickly, you ask Judge Judy 1 question and she will talk and digress on about 4  or 5 different subjects – the audience loved it. Katie just let Judy go. The judge had the audience in her hands as she spoke freely, of course uncensored and from the heart.
Photos and tape recording were strictly forbidden and enforced, so I took out my old fashioned pencil and paper and took reporter-like notes, I didn’t want to forget what she said, here are some memorable Judy-isms:
– She comes from Ocean Avenue between Avenues ‘S’ and ‘T’ in Brooklyn.
– Her style in the court room comes from Jewish borscht belt humor, she said “Brooklyn humor and attitude cannot be replaced.” That’s how she learned her timing. “Brooklyn timing separates you from ‘Brooklyn not’“.
– Born Judith Blum, her dream was to live and work in Manhattan.
– Her first job in the late 1960’s for L’Oréal cosmetics as a lawyer was the only time she was treated in a sexist manner. Two lawyers were hired to handle customer lawsuits, a man and she. He was given an office, she was given a desk and a pad and pencil and told to call the manufacturers to check up on orders. She said “that didn’t work for me! ‘You don’t put baby in a corner’!” (She actually said that!)
– What attracted her to her first husband? His highly polished shoes. Her second husband? His looks. “We still have a mojo.”
– Her makeup artist Nancy is invaluable to her because she sets the “up” mood for each day on the set.
– Officer Byrd and Judge Judy have worked together since she was on the bench in NYC and are best of friends.
– She now earns $47 million – a year ! She spoke about it at length. “CBS is making a lot of money off me. Furthermore, I can do the show on my own, they can’t do the show without me.” She donates a lot of her income.
– The show’s message: “Do the right thing and the rest happens, take responsibility for your actions.”
– Her take on today’s times in America: She feels things are not getting better, but instead worse, we as a people are just afraid to admit it.
– In 1982 Mayor Ed Koch gave her the first break by appointing her as a judge, first in criminal court, then later as Manhattan’s supervising family court judge in 1986. What did she learn? ‘First impressions are everything.’
– Her advice: follow what you are good at. You define yourself. A woman defines her own worth.
– From all the years on the bench the lesson learned: “Anger is a hard emotion to get rid of.”
At the end of the night, many fans ran to the stage door for an autograph. I thought ‘why not?!’, and waited about 90 minutes. Finally to our shock and surprise the security guard came out and said, ‘There are too many of you to sign autographs at this late hour, but, Judge Judy wants you all to come inside and she will take group pictures with you.” The fans squealed like little children on Christmas eve. Judge Judy was asking to see us! So there we were, late at night, inside the empty 92nd Street ‘Y’, Judge Judy directing ‘fan traffic’ as we got this rare treat of our moment with this generous, gracious spunky gal from Brooklyn – our very own Judge Judy. I can’t stop smiling 🙂




JUDY-ISMS: “Do I have ‘stupid’ written over my forehead?” “I’m here because I’m smart, not because I’m young and gorgeous, although I am,” “If you live to be 100, you will never be as smart as I am, sir,” “Clearly you are not wrapped too tight,” “Where did you think you were coming to today, a tea party?!” “I’m speaking!” “If you interrupt again madam, your case is dismissed, and I’m throwing you out. Do we understand each other?” “I’ve been in this business for over 40 years,” “Do I look like I need help from you?” “That’s a lot of who shot John” “This is my playpen!”



Photo of the day: WHERE DO YOUR OLD SCHOOL BUSES GO?Part of my ‘Tijuana Tuesday’ series. Ever wonder what happens to that clunky old yellow school bus that mom walked you to every morning? That old faithful bright yellow box of a bus that you and your buddies (and enemies) took to school five days a week? The classic part of our Americana landscape? The answer is = MEXICO!
On my recent trip to Tijuana, Mexico I was fascinated by their idea of ‘mass transit’. My coming from one of the biggest metropolises on the planet, New York City, I am used to big modern, (now some electric), sleek air conditioned kneeling buses with big scenic windows. Well not in Tijuana. Meet your old school bus! The old General Motors buses are over hauled, painted bright green and viola – ‘mass transito’ .
The destinations are hand painted onto the interior windows. It is one flat fee the equivalent of approximately $0.75¢. There are frequent official benched bus stops, but the buses pick up passengers wherever someone signals them, and, let you off wherever you wish. They are always full. No one seems to converse much on them, they are always quiet, people just sit politely staring out the windows. Their idea of air conditioning is simple – open windows! And if it is really hot . . . the driver drives with the door wide open!! (Better not stand too close to the front!) Some are decorated with paper cut-outs inside, some hang discarded furniture/lamp fringe in the windows. The most charming of all, at night some of them have red Christmas lights inside of them.
It certainly isn’t what we in our big USA cities are used to, but they are content, busy scurrying back and forth from the market and home on your old yellow/their new green buses. Old school buses never die, they just retire in Mexico!