Photo of the day: HAPPY HALLOWEEN FROM BABY DIVINE! – If ever there was a fierce drag queen, it was Divine! Born Harris Glen Milstead, star of cult films like “Pink Flamingos”, “Mondo Trasho”, “Female Trouble”, “Lust in the Dust”, “Multiple Maniacs”, “Polyester” and all time classic “Hairspray”. She has been copied ever since and will never be topped or duplicated. . . until now.
DIVINE in ‘Pink Flamingos’ 1972
I saw this Halloween tribute to her in the window of Two Boots Pizza in Greenwich Village. Tonight’s New York Greenwich Village Halloween parade is the largest in the world – our ‘carnival’. Filled with political satire, sex, gore, sex, humor, sex, and over the top creativity! Over 3 million participants and viewers and broadcast internationally. Only in New York !
Two Boots Pizza – 210 West 11th Street, Greenwich Village
Photo of the day: THE CALM AFTER THE STORM – One year later after hurricane Sandy, the scene yesterday on Coney Island Beach was so serene, one would never know there had been chaos and destruction all along our coastline just a year before. Just a few strollers shell hunting on the windy beach. Most of the strollers were enjoying the sun on the boardwalk, sunning themselves while enjoying a Nathan’s hot dog. In November the rides will shut down awaiting the children’s laughter again in the spring of 2014. Hopefully time will heal the wounds of the heart and finances so that Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island, as well as Ellis Island will be able to return to their former glory.
Photo fo the day: EXPERIENCING THE ONSET OF THE HURRICANE IN NEW YORK CITY – 1 year ago today, I wanted to document the experience of a hurricane. I was blown down the street for two blocks several times, not having a thing to grab onto. But I made it to the water’s edge of the East River.
The statistics are: 820 mile wide storm, 13.88 feet high water, 44 deaths and then twice as many more afterwards, 2 million people without power, many neighborhoods today remain wiped off the map and over 500 people still don’t have any place to go. It has changed the city and people’s lives forever. Here is the storm in photos. (I don’t have the time or understanding how to post a whole albums of photos, so here is my link of the complete photo album on myFacebook page.) https://www.facebook.com/hans.vonrittern/media_set?set=a.437954789596068.95638.100001446524326&type=1
Mondays on Memory Lane: HURRICANE SANDY LIVE VIDEO – It was 4pm, October 29, 2012, and I was determined to witness hurricane Sandy from the water’s edge on the East River. I was the only one on the streets, soaked to the bone.
This photo was taken from Long Island City, Queens. I braced myself against a cement bench to prevent myself from blowing away. United Nations, Trump Tower, Empire & Chrysler building in skyline.
See my YouTube video below:
Ladies and gentlemen, Grace Jones . . .
Photo of the day: LADIES AND GENTLEMEN – – – GRACE JONES – 1 year ago today, Grace Jones hit New York City with her show called “Hurricane” two days before the most disastrous hurricane ever destroyed parts of New York forever, hurricane Sandy. Eerily now in hindsight, the audience and I screamed and cheered in Grace’s defiance of the oncoming storm. None of us had any idea of what was to come. . . here is my review of that ironic and incredible night at Roseland Ballroom, which it was announced this week – Roseland be torn down, not due to hurricane damage, but torn down by greed:
“Thirty four years after the legendary performance of her 1978 concert at Roseland Ballroom, NYC – Grace Jones returned Saturday night, October 27, 2012 and gave what perhaps will go down as one of her most legendary concerts of her career. She has not changed a bit. At 64 years old she is an astoundingly fit statuesque Amazonian creature as she was then. When she asked “Who was here in 1978?” the roar in response was deafening. (I was there that night in 1978). Last night’s sold out concert crowd recreated the height of the atmosphere of the divine Studio 54 disco days. Extreme outfits were the norm. Glam, glitz, drag, shock and over the top seemed to be the order of the night.
Grace outdid herself for her die hard fans, even the Hammerstein Ballroom concert performance of July, 2009. She was more animated, loose, filled with naughty adlibs (Grace is obviously an oral sex fan). Roseland’s lighting crew was off their game for which Grace retorted with a flurry of quips, zingers and re-starts of her legendary disco and new wave songs. No dubbing, live for almost 2 hours! “Keepin’ it tight!” It was Grace unleashed.
Every move was a camera pose. Every gesture calculated to cause frenzy and cameras to go wild. She is still a fierce, angry, cocky sexual diva. Her legendary toned body is remarkable, her legs are longer than a Barbie doll’s, her ass firmer that a 30 year old. One of her songs was performed while consistently swirling a hula hoop around her waist and then while continually twirling and moving about the stage she introduced the band – constantly twirling! Lady Gaga, Britney, Madonna, Rhianna, Taylor Swift or any of the young acts today do not have the stamina of this remarkable icon. With a hard pounding rock/reggae beat flavored with disco and new wave, her mega hits did not disappoint. Ironically called “The Hurricane Tour”, Grace ended in defiance singing “Hurricane” while huge fans blew her about on stage and whipped the crowd into an ecstatic frenzy leaving euphoria in her wake.”
Photo of the day: REASSURING THE SHORE – I am taking my German tourist guests on my 5 hour long tour of Brooklyn today, via Harlem Spirituals Tours. From the Fulton Ferry landing at the Brooklyn Bridge allllllll the way to Coney Island for a Nathan’s hot dog lunch – wunderbar! Our last and final stop will be the 5 Pointz Graffiti museum as a surprise ending 🙂
At Coney Island for the past few weeks we have been met by this long pipe snaking along the beach. Early in September the $7.2 million Army Corps of Engineer’s project to pump 600,000 cubic yards of sand along Coney Island’s shore began. Although the beach closed for the summer after Labor Day and red flags indicated no lifeguards were on duty, there were a few sunbathers and swimmers adjacent to the area where the work is getting underway.
While restoration work is going on, there were rolling closures of roughly 1,000 foot wide sections of the beach where construction work is active, according to the Army Corps of Engineers (ACE). The beach nourishment project extends from West 37th Street to Brighton Beach, and is expected to be completed in the fall.
Coney Island was hit hard by Super-storm Sandy and soon, its beaches will be well on their way to being protected against future flooding. There’s a ship out on the horizon pumping the sand from the ocean’s floor (and surprising a few startled crabs I bet) and pumping it methodically onto the beach where it is sifted and raked. You can hear the rumbling of the stones and shells as they go whizzing by inside the large rusty pipes lining the beach. Soon we will be enjoying pristine sand to stick our toes into! Join us?!
Photo of the day: LET’S GET TO THE (5)POINTZ ! – Need something to do on a weekend that is totally different and cool? Take the 5Pointz Graffiti Museum tour with Meres One. This is a must-see tour!
Meres One, curator and guide
Meres One is New York and the curator of the living endangered treasure. His passion, quirkyness, straight forward manner, humor and insight to the art is priceless. I am a long time NYC tour guide and I know a good tour when I take one – this is it! Do you know which is the oldest piece? The order to the art? Who came from what country? The messages and inside stories to the murals? Did u know one of Meres’ murals is 3-dimensional? Can you see all the different styles? Have you ever been inside? Aren’t you dying to go on the roof? To top it off, Meres shows off his skill by transforming a canvas into a piece of art in a master class with him at the end of the tour. How can you pass that up?! God forbid 5Pointz gets torn down – you will regret forever that you passed up this opportunity – GO – book a tour now and join the world wide guests enjoying this tour! Come early/stay late, photograph all the art, buy some souvenirs like the painted light bulbs by Meres and other art available by other artists. Get to the Pointz, 5 Pointz!
The coolest part of the 5 Pointz tour!
Book a tour through SideTour.com. Tours are currently sold out till November 5, this is a rare opportunity, put yourself on the mailing list and grab this chance before it is too late!
Doorway to cool!
A masterclass with Meres One
MERES ONE LIGHT BULB SOUVENIR
Photo of the day: STRIP TEASE DOLLS & BURLESQUE BEAUTIES – In the land of long ago, when “the daily bump and grind” meant something different, the Times Theater in Times Square featured ‘strip tease dolls and burlesk beauties’. I like to image names like Peaches LaTour, Bubbles Beverly, Feathery Fiona, Sally Rand, Miss Electra, Dressy Tessie Tura and Miss Mazeppa. And remember, you gotta get a gimmick if you want to get ahead!
You can pull all the stops out
Till they call the cops out;
Grind your behind till you’re banned.
But you gotta get a gimmick
If you wanna get a hand.
You can sacrifice your saccro
Working in the back row.
Bump in a dump till you’re dead.
Kid, you gotta have a gimmick
If you wanna get ahead.
You can uh…You can uh… You can uh…uh…uh…
That’s how Burlesque was born.
So I uh…and I uh… And I uh…uh…uh…
But I do it with a horn…
Once I was a Schleppa, Now I’m Miss Mazzeppa,
With my revolution in dance.
You gotta have a gimmick If you wanna have a chance!
She can uh… She can uh… She can uh…uh…uh…
That’ll never make her rich.
Me, I uh… and I uh… And I uh…uh…uh…
But I do it with a switch.
I’m electrifyin’, And I ain’t even tryin’;
I never have to sweat to get paid;
‘Cause if you got a gimmick, Gypsy girl, you got it made.
All them uh and then uh… And that uh…uh…uh…
Ain’t gonna spell success;
Me, I uh… and I uh… And I uh…uh…uh…
But I do it with finesse.
Dressy Tessie Tura is so much more demur-er
Than all them other ladies because–
You gotta get a gimmick If you wanna get applause.
ALL: Do something special Anything special
And you’ll get better because…
You’re more than just a mimic
When you gotta gimmick
Take a look how different we are!
ELECTRA: If you wanna make it, Twinkle while you shake it.
TESSIE TURA: If you wanna grind it, Wait till you’ve refined it.
MAZEPPA: If you wanna stump it, Bump it with a trumpet!
ALL: So get yourself a gimmick and you, too, Can be a star!
The best version ever done from the 1962 Rosalind Russell film “Gypsy”, Natalie Wood as Louise ‘Gypsy Rose Lee’ Hovick, Betty Bruce as Tessie Tura, Faith Dane as Mazeppa, Roxanne Arlen as Electra – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFRSawe33sA
Photo of the day: SEX IS BACK – (…I didn’t know it was gone!) But according to the Pleasure Chest Sex Shop at 156 Seventh Avenue in Greenwich Village, New York, apparently they have found it and brought it back to us, I am sure Justin Timberlake will be glad
“I’m bringing sexy back
Them other boys don’t know how to act
I think it’s special what’s behind your back
So turn around and I’ll pick up the slack.
Take em’ to the bridge
Dirty babe You see these shackles
Baby I’m your slave
I’ll let you whip me if I misbehave
It’s just that no one makes me feel this way
Take em’ to the chorus
Come here girl Go ahead, be gone with it
Come to the back Go ahead, be gone with it VIP
Go ahead, be gone with it
Drinks on me Go ahead, be gone with it
Let me see what you’re working with
Go ahead, be gone with it
Look at those hips Go ahead, be gone with it
You make me smile Go ahead, be gone with it
Go ahead child Go ahead, be gone with it
And get your sexy on Go ahead, be gone with it”
Mondays on Memory Lane: STOUFFERS ‘TOP OF THE SIX’S’ RESTAURANT – As a child, “Top of The Six’s” meant a special occasion. You had done well in school or it was prom night or you were in love and wanted to impress with the sweeping view of the Empire State Building. The rooftop restaurant was located at the epicenter of the posh section of Fifth Avenue, between 52nd/53rd Streets, with a lobby fountain wall designed by Isamu Noguchi and easy subway access downstairs. Today it is but a postcard memory.
Lobby fountain wall designed by Isamu Noguchi
It all started in 1922 the Stouffer family opened a lunch counter on East Ninth St. in downtown Cleveland, Ohio. They sold sandwiches, dairy products and Lena Stouffer’s soon-to-be-famous deep-dish Dutch apple pie. By 1935 they expanded to six restaurants in the Cleveland area and in 1937 they opened the first Stouffer restaurant in New York City.
In 1946 Stouffer’s opened on Shaker Square and at the Westgate shopping center in the Cleveland suburbs. It was at the Shaker Square location that patrons began requesting takeout orders of items on the menu and the Stouffer foray in to frozen food began by 1954. By this time Stouffer’s had restaurants in Florida, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Detroit.
1958 – Opens restaurants at the stainless steel deco-like #666 Tishman Building (built 1957) located at 666 5th Avenue in New York City one on the 1st & below-street levels, the other on the 39th floor, at the time the highest public restaurant in N.Y. They went there, by the millions. In July 1973, about 15 years after it opened, the restaurant announced that it was about to serve its 10 millionth meal. Ominously, a review that month found the cuisine anything but haute.
They continued to expand, building a frozen food processing plant in Solon, Ohio in 1968 and they ventured into specialty casual dining eateries with names like Rusty Scupper, Cheese Cellar and the Grog Shop. In 1969 NASA chose Stouffer’s products for Apollo 11, 12 and 14 for astronauts to dine on.
But it was the Stouffer’s “Top of the…” restaurants that became the special occasion places to go. “Top of The Hub” in Boston, “Top of the Rock” in downtown Chicago, “Top of the Sixes” in New York City, “Top of the Flame” in Detroit and “Top of the Town” in Cleveland.
The view was terrific from 40 stories up, especially in those days long before the World Trade Center, when a restaurant on top of a skyscraper was a novelty. Prices were reasonable. Children liked the view, and so did young couples on dates. Men proposed to their wives there,” it was a time when going to ”the city” meant journeying from Queens to Manhattan. You didn’t necessarily go there for the food, it was that wonderful atmosphere.
Tishman Building #666 Fifth Avenue
On September 18, 1996, The New York Times announced the closing of this beloved rooftop gem. The new tenant would be the Grand Havana Room, a cigar temple that will bear as much resemblance to a smoke-filled parlor as, say, the Oak Room at the Plaza Hotel. Right now I’d give anything for a mid-west cooked Stouffer’s meal atop of the Six’s. The best I can do, is to go to my rooftop, spread a tablecloth and open my microwaved Stouffers dinner – it’s just not the same.
What are your memories of “Top of the Six’s”?
Photo of the day: NO, BANKSY WUZ NOT HERE – But you are, thank you! Today at the iconic 5 Pointz Graffiti Art Museum, they decided to make a statement about the current Banksy craze – so, Meres, curator of the museum made his statement and created this graffitied artful canvas.
‘Banksy’ is a highly secretive British graffiti artist who is currently making headlines in New York City. For the month of October, every night Banksy paints one of his stencil art pieces in a location somewhere in one of the 5 boroughs. The thing is, creative as Banksy may be, it still is art that is not asked for by the buildings he paints them on. That is where 5 Pointz is different. It is a factory building spanning an entire city block in Long Island City, Queens. 200,000 square feet of spectacular art that has been requested an approved. Considered to be the premier graffiti art museum in the world, now in danger of being torn down (see my previous October 3rd post) thanks to the unending greed of the Bloomberg era. While enjoying a big spike in visitors since the potentially horrible news has broken, 5 Pointz’s curators were though, getting a little tired of being asked, “has Banksy been here yet?!” Well – there is your answer “No. . Banksy wuz not here, but you are, thank you!” They and Meres welcome you to take their tour via SideTour.com, I highly recommend it!
5 POINTZ: 45-46 Davis Street, corner of Jackson Avenue, under the 7 train line, Court Street stop. Long Island City, NY http://5ptz.com/about/
Photo of the day: GIVE ME THE LIBERTY TO TOUR ! – French muralist Veronique Barrilot painted this great mural as a (hopefully not) final statement at the 5 Pointz Graffiti & Mural Museum on Jackson Avenue in Long Island City, Queens, which is in danger of being torn down in favor of twin glass high rise towers. (See my earlier post). Her bold Liberty statue proclaims in French “Give Me The Liberty to Paint!”.
For the past week I have been faced with the frustration of leading my European tourists who have come so far to see (shall we say) their Eiffel Tower, our Statue of Liberty – only to find signs posted that the despicable government has shut the symbol of freedom down and their tickets have been canceled. There we are left standing in Battery Park which is still mostly destroyed from hurricane Sandy. No park. No island. No Liberty.
I too join my friend Veronique in proclaiming “Give Me The Freedom – to Tour!”
Photo of the day: “BLESSED ASSURANCE” GOING TO CHURCH (THEATER) WITH CICELY TYSON – On Friday night I had the great privilege of seeing one of the greatest actresses of the present day – Cicely Tyson give her final stage performance of her career in Horton Foote’s play “The Trip To Bountiful.” It has taken me a full day to recover from the emotional reaction to this stirring performance. In my 57 years, this ranks as the single top performance I have ever seen on stage. I have seen Ingrid Bergman, Katherine Hepburn, Jane Fonda, Patti Lupone in Evita, Jessye Norman, Elaine Stritch, many of the great others and even the great Bette Davis on stage, but this is the most emotional performance I have ever witnessed. Cicely Tyson’s entire being transforms into the character she portrays of 88 year old Mrs. Carrie Watts.
“The Trip To Bountiful” resonates so much now to the sold out performances because it speaks to our fast moving times. Mrs. Carrie Watts (originally played by legendary Lillian Gish on televison) wants to go home one more time to see her birthplace home in the town of Bountiful. She lives in 1953 Houston, Texas with her son and his self involved wife (Vanessa Williams), both of whom prevent her from going home for two reasons: her (supposed) weak heart and most of all, her social security check her son’s wife covets. Carrie finally slips out of the house and to the Greyhound bus station only to find out Bountiful doesn’t seem to exist anymore. Determined, she boards the bus for the next nearest town. On her way she befriends a young newly wed woman (Condola Rashad) to whom she reveals her story. As they arrive in the nearest town’s bus station, Carrie discovers she has lost her purse with her money (.35 cents), social security check and the truth that no one is alive anymore in the town of Bountiful. This seemingly to be the end, Carrie cheers herself up and the young woman by determinedly singing the hymn “Blessed Assurance.” And then, an unheard of phenomena occurs.
Cicely Tyson’s character is so convincing and the hymn so moving – the audience softly starts joining in. There is no orchestra, this is a dramatic play. Breaking through the fourth wall, the souls of the audience are joined with the spirit of Cicely Tyson’s character. I was moved to streaming tears of wonderment and joy. The joy of witnessing the lifting of souls to “Blessed Assurance” and a divine performance, the likes of which I have never seen.
See it from my perspective: I am white, sitting in an audience that is mostly of color, filled with many church going women. I did not know the hymn Cicely sings is an actual hymn. The audience does. It is a faith restoring hymn that has become a staple in the black churches of America, it is a part of their upbringing. As Mrs. Carrie Watts/Cicely is trying to lift their spirits up and she starts to recite, then to hum and then sing the hymn, this ‘chorus’ seemed to emerge. I didn’t understand what the effect was. A recording? A chorus back stage? In that instant you realize you are part of an extraordinary unprecedented experience as the audience by their being so moved, joins in. I have never experienced anything like it. It has been reported in The New York Times, this phenomena of, for first time in theater history, that the audience joins to share the moving spirit of the encouraging moment. Cicely’s body language as the old 88 year old woman, clasping her handkerchief, her face joyfully beaming, waving her hands in the air to god, is a vision I will never ever forget. I was shaken by the experience for the entire next day, making me think – what are we all rushing towards so quickly, only to run past what we are looking for? It made me wish for a gentler time, a quieter time, and to treasure the present before it’s gone and we wind up having to search for it, only to find it gone. I too yearn for a trip to Bountiful which alas seems to be gone.
This great actress, who has given us ‘The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman’, ‘Roots’, ‘Sounder’, ‘A Woman Called Moses’ – the story of Harriet Tubman, and recently ‘The Help’, has given the world an incomparable stage moment at age 80 (some say 88). In the final moment of the play, her son and daughter have caught up to her to bring her back home, forced to return, she is peaceful that she has seen her home in Bountiful one last time. Mrs. Carrie Watts waves and says “goodbye” to her home before she has to head back to Houston, then, turns to the open neglected farm fields (the audience) and waves, quietly and softly says “goodbye.” Curtain, the end.
The overwhelming meaning and emotion of that moment has moved me beyond compare.
1. Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
born of his Spirit, washed in his blood.
This is my story, this is my song,
praising my Savior all the day long;
this is my story, this is my song,
praising my Savior all the day long.
2. Perfect submission, perfect delight,
visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
angels descending bring from above
echoes of mercy, whispers of love.
3. Perfect submission, all is at rest;
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
watching and waiting, looking above,
filled with his goodness, lost in his love.
Photo of the day: DESPITE THE GOVERNMENT SHUT DOWN, THE FIGHT FOR LIBERTY CONTINUES BY MURALIST VERONIQUE BARRILLOT – Today the despicable Republicans have shut down the government. Tourists here in New York that have traveled half way around the world to go to Liberty Island are literally left out in the cold. The most upset are those who have crown visit tickets, those tickets have been ordered two to three months in advance and you arrive in New York = closed.
One of the places you can see Miss Liberty still fighting for her freedom is at the Graffiti Museum 5 Pointz on Jackson Avenue in Long Island City, Queens, right next to the 7 train Court Street Station. World famous 5 Pointz, as so many other treasures in New York, thanks to the greedy cancer that is the Bloomberg administration, is in great danger of being torn down in favor of twin mirror glass apartments.
5 Pointz, Jackson Avenue at Crane Street and Davis Street, the whole block, Long Island City, NY 11101, #7 train Court Street stop.
To make her (perhaps final) statement, French muralist Veronique Barrillot has been given permission to paint a giant mural directly on the Jackson Avenue side for all to see. It is the Statue of Liberty, grimacing as she holds a paint pallet and paint brushes. Veronique is finishing the mural today, so I will not reveal the full image of it yet. Veronique states: “The homage I would like to pay to 5 Pointz is that of our common heritage and of our faith in the future and in liberty.” As of this moment’s government shut down, that immediate ‘future’ looks grim. The longest government shut down was also the most recent, from Dec. 16, 1995, through Jan. 5, 1996. That’s 21 days. No Grand Canyon, no Yellowstone, no national zoos, no landmarks like the Lincoln Memorial or the Washington Monument – no Statue of Liberty.
Paint on Veronique, paint on ! Vive l’art!