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

Archive for June, 2014

Photo of the day: FLORAL TRIBUTE FOR DEATH OF A PIANO

DEATH OF A PIANO

FLORAL MEMORIAL TO A LOST TUNE – Sadly one of New York’s most beloved recent attractions has been destroyed. First by taggers, then (supposedly) by the sea itself. See my post of June 2nd when I discovered the Mason and Hamlin piano there on the shores of our East River/Atlantic Ocean right under the Brooklyn Bridge. It became fodder for every news reporter, tourists loved it and New Yorkers adopted it. The police and harbor patrol looked the other way as people hopped over the gate to be photographed with the piano, the ‘beach’ there is not for public access especially since at high tide the water reaches the West Side Highway. But flock they did, as did I several times. Check out the Internet and you will find some of the most creative and joyful photos taken with it.

I did some research myself. The serial number under the key board, 335 26661, according to Mason & Hamlin’s web site, places it around the year 1915. Mason & Hamlin was founded by Henry Mason who was actually a direct descendent of the pilgrims of the Mayflower!
piano driftwood
As to it’s mysterious origins, a so-called ‘street artist’ named HEK TAD took credit for it. Not until 2 weeks later when he tagged it with his spray painted logo all over it, did he lay claim. If you try to find photos of him, he is this skinny little kid, I sure hope he had plenty-a-help lifting that heavy baby grand over the 30″ gate and onto the beach and that tow truck musta been expen$ive. IF, if he indeed is responsible – he should have just left a sign taking credit, not destroying it’s melancholy beauty with his garish white spray paint markings. Many, including me, sought to paint over the markings and gladly finally someone did with what seemed to be some “oops paint” bought cheaply at hardware stores.
One of the last people to be photographed with the piano, is my friend and model Diana Amirova in an early morning photo shoot. I am so glad her beauty did it justice.
Diana Amirova

Diana Amirova

So finally now this proud 99 year old piano is giving up it’s ghost and surrendering to the mighty sea.
When I arrived this past Thursday to check on the piano, someone had left a floral memorial tribute to the beautiful graceful grande treasure from the past. Adieu, farewell, your songs played stay in our hearts.
The sea, the sea, calling out to you and me
Waves rush in to caress the sand
Only to roll out again
          The sea, the sea, calmness in its water
But in one fowl swoop
The clam has tourned sour… 

by Lillian B. Rose

Photo of the day: FRIDAY THE 13th SPECIAL $31 TATTOOS

TATTOO

Photo of the day: FRIDAY THE 13th SPECIAL $31 TATTOOS – Rushing along St. Mark’s Place this past Friday, I came across this colorful tranquil scene in the window of Whatever Tattoo. It reminded me immediately of the many old master paintings of reclining nudes I have seen in museums and books. This handsome tall hunk was just in the perfect classic pose, eyes closed, so peaceful and at rest while getting a giant tattoo on his back.
Now some people if they suffer from triskaidekaphobia (fear of Friday the 13th) they stay indoors, away from ladders, avoid making decisions and all possible harm – others go to tattoo parlors. I think though, that this tattoo will cost more than the $31 advertised Friday the 13th special.
Modigliani's 'Reclining Nude' 1917

Modigliani’s ‘Reclining Nude’ 1917

17 St. Mark’s Pl, New York, NY 10003 (212) 777-2430

Photo of the day: HARVEY FIERSTEIN AND HANS SEE “CASA VALENTINA” TOGETHER

Harvey Fierstein & Hans Von Rittern and Casa Susanna/Valentina

Harvey Fierstein & Hans Von Rittern and Casa Susanna/Valentina

Photo of the day: HARVEY FIERSTEIN AND HANS SEE “CASA VALENTINA” TOGETHER – well….kinda…
Harvey came to see his show last night and I was sitting right near him.
THE SHOW IS FUCKING BRILLIANT! It is based on a cult book “Casa Susanna” which contains flea market find photos of women in the Catskills in 1962 – the women were men. Not drag queens, but men who simply had the desire to express their feminine side on the weekend and go on doing ordinary household chores leading an ordinary life for two days…as a ‘ordinary’ woman. All were married with children. It is not sensationalist Fierstein drag. It is a dramedy of social mores and sexual politics of the sixties,
To be very honest – I didn’t want to see this play. I thought,’who are you to further expose what was to have been private?”
My mother has always said to me, “please destroy all family pictures if there is no one left in your family. I don’t want to wind up in some flea market and have total stranger pawing over my photos and doing god knows what with them.” I sadly agree. So I felt, who is Harvey to do this – how is he to know what really these people were about and what went on, sorry theater fans, this is how I felt. Yet the book haunted and fascinated me of the sadness yet sensation of this secret world revealed. Reluctantly I bought the cheapest discount ticket possible. I brought my treasured copy of the book along with me.
Almost full house. Curtain rises. I am sitting there with arms folded, negative Nancy. ‘Ok, what did you do with this?’ After 5 minutes I was riveted. The visuals, the acting – breathtaking. I abandoned all doubt and negativity and realized I was watching something intensely personal and brilliant. Half way though act one, I kept thinking to myself, ‘where and how did Harvey come up with this, how did this come out of his head?’ Each actor is cast to perfection for the part. I flipped through my book trying to guess who was who. After a while it didn’t seem to matter, there were real people onstage.
It’s story is of intrigue, mystery, politics, raw emotions, sharp wit, great humor, 1960’s sexual politics, being exposed, homophobia, buried secrets, gut wrenching moments, great sets, superb lighting. Mare Winningham and Reed Birney are FUCKING BRILLIANT! Birney channels Margo Channing/All About Eve yet does not imitate her, it is her fiery essence – it is riveting sheer brilliance at what a strong determined (calculating) woman he portrays. He should have won the damn Tony award he was nominated for as best actor in a play. Mare’s voice projects to the upper balcony even in her most quiet sad moments – that’s technique! (They were not micked.) John Collum is everyone’s grandmother of the period.

The setting is the Chevalier d’Eon, a Catskills resort where button-down married men from the city can slip into something more comfortable for the weekend. This sanctuary is run by George (Patrick Page) and his infinitely accommodating wife, Rita (Mare Winningham). And if the place is a bit run down, for its guests it remains “our own Garden of Eden.” But Harvey being the brilliant Harvey, he has set a serpent loose in their garden of Eden, and you are hooked.

During intermission I asked to buy the poster. The head usher saw I was carrying the book. He tells me several of the men are still alive and the man who took the photos actually had come to see the play! I come further to find out, that of the men/women who are still alive, Harvey (I think) felt it his duty (and privilege) to interview them. So some of the mystery was gone, but yet all the more heightened. Who are they and what has become of them?! I was obsessed with the fact that the usher knew what the photographer of most of the photos looks like! I am even more energized for act two for now I know how much more ‘real’ the story is and I was watching also a history lesson unfold.

As I am waiting for the curtain to go up, coming up my aisle is an unmistakable figure of man – it’s the playwright himself Harvey Fierstein! He sat 1 row across from me! I had to go over to him to ask to sign my poster. “He’s got the book,” he growled to his friend. I grabbed his wrist and kept babbling “it’s brilliant! It’s brilliant’! Hans tongue tied = not often. Back to my seat. I now watched the show and out of the corner of the eye watched this Broadway royalty watching his own show. Surreal. He laughed at the jokes, was stoned faced at the serious moments, just like the rest of us.

Harvey's reactoin to Jonathan Groff (blue t-shirt) being there

Harvey’s reactoin to Jonathan Groff (blue t-shirt) being there

After the show I ran to the stage door and got the cast to sign the poster. Glee star Jonathan Groff was there, a girl next to me nearly died. Harvey was saying goodnight and I asked if I could have my picture taken with him and the book since he had made it come alive along with preserving gay history. “Sure with the book!” We hugged and the guy I gave my camera to couldn’t figure out how it works. Harvey growled, “Heterosexuals! They can’t even figure out how to work a camera.” We all laughed and that is the moment captured in this wonderful moment. I am still on cloud nine.

Casa Susanna

Casa Susanna

The ladies who lunch

The ladies who lunch

GO SEE THE PLAY – it has a limited run and is closing June 29. Tickets sometimes available 50% off at TKTS nightly.

CASA web site: http://www.manhattantheatreclub.com/2013-2014-season/casa-valentina/

New York Times review: http://online.wsj.com/articles/like-earlier-hot-spots-williamsburg-adds-gloss-1402620838

Cast signed poster

Cast signed poster


Photo of the day: TWO LITTLE CHOIR BOYZ ARE WE

Jonathan 'Meres One' Cohen, Hans Von Rittern

Jonathan ‘Meres One’ Cohen, Hans Von Rittern

Photo of the day: 2 CHOIR BOYZ ARE WE – During our “Whitewash” exhibit Meres and I were given the task to assemble and Ikea choir bench for an artist’s talk we were to give later that evening. Quite proud that we had both assembled it successfully and that it held our weight – we posed like the two little choir boiz we are .
Two little choir boyz from school are we
Pert as a choir boy can be
Filled to the brim with boyish glee
Two little choir boyz from school are weEverything is a source of fun
Nobody’s safe for we care for none
Life is a joke that’s just begun
Two little choir boyz from the Factory Phun

Two Little choir boyz who all unwary
Come from a boy’s seminary
Free from his genius tutelary
Two little choir boyz from school

Two little choir boyz from school !One little choir boy is the painter handsome

One little choir boy has photos done
Two little boyz in attendance to the art show come
Two little choir boyz from 5 Pointz come
Not under any politician’s thumb
Not liking that Wolkoff scum
nor that Van Bramer bum
Here to make your hood not so glum
Here wishing we had a (paint) gun
LET’S GET THIS DONE !
(With apologies to Gilbert & Sullivan.)

Photo of the day: MUSIC MAKES ME HIGH

Mason and Hamlin piano in East River under Brooklyn Bridge

Mason and Hamlin piano in East River under Brooklyn Bridge

Photo of the day: MUSIC MAKES ME HIGH – ♫♪♪♪♫♫ The ethereal effect of music is to make one feel is if you are floating on air. Listen closely to sounds of the sea or Mozart, are you floating yet?

Photo of the day: THE PHONE CALL

#7 train, Court Street Station

#7 train, Court Street Station

Photo of the day: THE PHONE CALL – “I love you not only who you are but for who I am when I am with you, and words can not express how much I love you and care about you. I hope that you will never forget how much you mean to me & love. But I can’t keep going on knowing that you don’t feel the same way about me. If you love me let me know, if you don’t let me go, oh and…we need a pound of potatoes, oregano, chives and bean dip.”

The destruction of New York’s Pier 17 & our seafaring history

south street header

South Street Seaport’s Pier 17 as you see it has been torn down, one of the 100 year old German ships The Peking will be scapped – along with it…any atmosphere that bespeaks the sea. The old buildings are boarded up and ruined from hurricane Sandy and no one has the money to repair them. What will replace it? A shiney big glass box and super high rise. It is an utter destruction and wipe out of New York City’s grand seafaring history.


Photo of the day: THE CYCLE OF ART AT 5 POINTZ, “Whitewash” closing party today 5pm

5 POINTZ DOCU

Photo of the day: THE CYCLE OF ART AT 5 POINTZ – Come see the magnificent art work for these last two days and celebrate with us that life and art always prevail. Artists and writers will be on the scene.
If you would like to see more expressions by great artists on canvas and in photographs (mine included) from today till this final weekend – come to the Jeffrey Leder Gallery this weekend and view the brilliant art by artists: Auks, Cortes, Hans Von Rittern, Jerms, Just One, Meres One, Poem, Shiro, See TF, Topaz, Zimad, all brilliantly curated by Marie Cecile Flageul! A catalog is available for sale as is all the art.
The Jeffrey Leder Gallery: 2137 45th Road, L.I.C.
#7/G subway stop. One block away from 5 Pointz and PS1 Moma. Admission is free, open Saturday: 12-8pm. Artists will be present from 5-7 today!
Sunday: 12-6
CLOSING PARTY HANS WHITEWASH

Photo of the day: ART IS TRA$H, Francisco de Pájaro and 5 Pointz

ART IS TRASH

Photo of the day: ART IS TRA$H – This art work by street artist Francisco de Pájaro was discovered on a mattress late at night at 5 Pointz Graffiti and Street Art Museum which is now destroyed. So, the art at 5 Pointz is now sadly trashed. Or, is it we as society that are the trash? Come see the ‘Whitewash” exhibit at the Jeffrey Leder Gallery in it’s last days till June 8! Closing party Saurday June 7: 12 -8.  LEDER GALLERY: 2137 45th Road, L.I.C.
#7/G subway stop. One block away from 5 Pointz and PS1 Moma. Admission is free
Here is an excerpt from an interview on Francisco de Pájaro from the blog: ‘Street Art Mecca’: “Francisco speaks about the absurdity in society, our hideous selfishness, our capacity for self destruction and our ridiculous behaviour towards weaknesses. Pajaro’s “Art is Trash” speaks directly at you and says “you are the art, the lie and the trash of society”, and we love him for it. I realised in hindsight that he is just as wonderfully satirical and humorous in conversation as his art is on the street. He sees society with the stark reality you find in many great artists. He points out our imperfections and makes us laugh at them. He converts our waste into grotesque reminders about who we are and what we do. His style of art might be named naive if it wasn’t so harsh to look at. The gallery is on the street, among our discarded belongings that we so often like to ignore.
On previous mini filming excursions with Pajaro I noted that the artwork doesn’t last long on the streets. In Barcelona there are specific nights when people can put any type of trash on the streets. Each neighbourhood has it’s own day and we met in Gracia on a Tuesday. It doesn’t take long to find an attractive pile of crap and he gets to work. The street is dark and desolate and there’s only Pakistani immigrants competing for recyclables. They stop and watch the performance. One couple walk past and recognise him from “that documentary”. On a different occasion I’ve seen people take some of the art as soon as we leave. “It’s a Barcelona thing” says one neighbour, as he takes a mini monster sculptor back into his house.

Art is Tra$h: Nobody can put me down.

 

How true that is…..


Photo of the day: COME SEE THE LIGHT of the 5 POINTZ “WHITEWASH” Exhibit

"Cathedral Light"

“Cathedral Light”

Photo of the day: COME SEE THE LIGHT – The Cathedral-like light of what once was 5 Pointz can be in seen in one of my many photographs at our current ‘Whitewash’ exhibit ending this Sunday June 8. Closing party to beheld this Saturday from noon till 8pm, please join me and my friends!
If you would like to see more expressions by great artists on canvas and in photographs (mine included) from today till this final weekend – come to the Jeffrey Leder Gallery this weekend and view the brilliant art by artists: Auks, Cortes, Hans Von Rittern, Jerms, Just One, Meres One, Poem, Shiro, See TF, Topaz, Zimad, all brilliantly curated by Marie Cecile Flageul! A catalog is available for sale as is all the art.
The Jeffrey Leder Gallery: 2137 45th Road, L.I.C.
#7/G subway stop. One block away from 5 Pointz and PS1 Moma. Admission is free, open 12-6.
Leder Gallery: http://www.jeffreyledergallery.com/whitewash.php
Jeffrey Leder Galler 2137 45th Road, LII.C.