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

Posts tagged “Broadway

Photo of the day: LOOSING NEW YORK

LOOSING OUR NYC

We have been loosing our city at a rapid speed since the 12 year Bloomberg administration. Our new mayor Bill DeBlasio didn’t make things any better. A shill and phoney sell-out as our city’s history continues to be torn down left and right while being raped by an overbuilding of glass towers where they ought not to be.
As a tour guide I am supposed to tell people how wonderful New York City is...I do. But they don’t see that Harlem is now only 40% black, overrun by self-righteous white yuppies renovating Harlem’s brownstones pushing the original residents out. Greenwich Village once an epicenter of gay culture, dance clubs, cool quirky shops, cutting edge boutiques is now devoid of anything gay, buried in GAP, Polo, Starbucks, Sephora, Michael Kors, more GAP, more Polo, more Michael Kors. (Btw, Michael Kors being a screaming queen doesn’t count.)
The mushroom rate of the ‘space needle’ über high, über rich residential high rises on 57th and 58th Streets will put parts of Central Park’s south end into permanent shadow at certain times of the year. Jackie Onassis is turning in her grave.
Jackie O. would also be horrified to discover that grand Central Terminal is to be encased in super tall, super glassy high rises, therefore dwarfing the spectacular station, reducing it to a needle in a haystack.
Tribeca and Soho once filled with artists and art spaces are now filled with tourists artfully shopping. Times Square has become a 2nd rate shopping mall filled with Elmos badgering your for $5 photos. The lower east side aka ‘the Bowery’ is rapidly loosing any trace of our large immigrant history. It IS filled with our ‘new immigrants’ the young rich, spacey Millennials, trust fund babies and tech company millionaires. Apartments costing $1 million in the Bowery are cheap.
Little Italy is nothing but 6 or so blocks of Italian restaurants trying to hang on while the Chinese and the stores of Soho eat up their once large thriving Italian neighborhood. Fuggedaboudit.
New York’s harbor was once the busiest harbor in the world. Today, with a combination of damage from hurricane Sandy and the sheer greed of the Bloomberg/DeBlasio real estate ‘developers’, in South Street Seaport nothing will be left but a few gratuitous red brick buildings and only one old sailing ship to be now surrounded by a mirror glass ersatz ‘Pier 17’ and two gigantically tall mirror glass ‘luxury towers’ encroaching on America’s historical land mark the Brooklyn Bridge.
Go to Brooklyn then you say? Oh no, that is being gentrified at a hyper speed such has been never witnessed before in America. The foot of the Brooklyn Bridge is now being encased in a towering glass apartment building in DUMBO and the once spectacular view of the bridge from the Brooklyn Heights promenade is now obliterated by a gigantic apartment complex. If anyone would have told me that one day the views of the Brooklyn Bridge will be gone, I’da said you’re nuts.
Further in Brooklyn, whites buying $1+ million town homes in Bedford–Stuyvesant is now the norm. What was once our largest African American neighborhood, now has it’s residents being forced to go back to their Southern roots where they might be able to afford the rent. Meanwhile ultra hipster Williamsburg battles it out with ultra orthodox Satmar Jewish Williamsburg for real estate, who will win is anybody’s guess.
Hey, but Hans you’re safe in Queens. Not so, as my neighborhood fights off the flood of ‘poor upper middle class’ who can’t quite afford the $500,000 to $1 million dollar glass towers of the East River’s Long Island City. One by one we are seeing the affordable shops disappear, street vendors forbidden and a slimey corrupt councilman like Jimmy Van Bramer sign off on real estate deals wiping places like the spectacular 5 Pointz Graffiti Museum and the immigrant’s car-repair shops of Willet’s Point off the map while he brown noses his way up in the mayor’s administration.
If anyone has noticed, I haven’t posted daily “Photos of the Day” since mid June, I needed time to reflect. I will continue to tell people how ‘wonderful’ New York is, but I will also tell them that the city is an illusion, a big grand, sparkling, smoke & mirrors illusion. With my camera I will try to find something worth capturing that someone’s cell phone camera has not. My main concentration will be on researching and writing a book about my Von Rittern land baron roots in Bremen, Germany, and a second book on my Broadway stage door memories.
In the meanwhile, my German guests, while taking my tours say to me, “Sadly, it’s happening in Germany too, capture it while you can.”
I’ll try.

Photo of the day: MM = MACY*S + MARILYN

MARILYN MACY'S 2014

Photo of the day: MM = MACY*S + MARILYN – As part of department store Macy*s current Americana theme, the flagship  store in Herald Square has been decorated with giant banners of what they feel is ‘Americana’. Mount Rushmore, hot dogs, apple pie, the American flag and…Marilyn, the eternal all American girl!
America = the Grand Canyon, light houses and Marilyn!

America = the Grand Canyon, light houses and Marilyn!


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: LET’S GO RANGERS ! ! ! !

LET'S GO RANGERS! ! !

Photo of the day: LET’S GO RANGERS ! ! ! !

Photo of the day: “CALL ME LIZ”

CALL ME LIZ

Photo of the day: “CALL ME LIZ”: Elizabeth Taylor-Hilton-Wilding-Todd-Fisher-Burton-Burton-Warner-Fortensky. Actress, stunning beauty, one of the first AIDS activists and great dedicated humanitarian.  Born February 27, 1932, died March 23, 2011. Having been known for being notoriously late, at her request, the funeral began 15 minutes after it was scheduled to begin; as her representative told the media “She even wanted to be late for her own funeral.”
Cartoon by: Bramhall/New York Daily News

Postcard story of the Week – MYSTERY STAIRWAY STALKER HAUNTS WRITER

STAIRWAY MAN collage©

Postcard story of the Week – MYSTERY STAIRWAY STALKER HAUNTS WRITER

Description: Looking up Broadway from the Times Building, New York

September 01, 6:30pm, 1937

To: Mr. G. O. Moon

  State Office Building, G20,

Columbus, Ohio

Yesterday upon the stair I saw a man who wasn’t there.

I saw him again there today. I wish he’d go away.

WHD 

Is the writer being stalked in the dimly lit stairwells of the 1930’s and reaching out for help or . . . Is it actually a little known poem turned into a Glenn Miller swing song. We will never know, but hopefully it was the latter.

–  The words come from “Antigonish”,  an 1899 poem by American educator and poet Hughes Mearns. It is also known as “The Little Man Who Wasn’t There“, and was a hit song under that title.

Yesterday, upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn’t there.
He wasn’t there again today,
I wish, I wish he’d go away…

When I came home last night at three,
The man was waiting there for me
But when I looked around the hall,
I couldn’t see him there at all!
Go away, go away, don’t you come back any more!
Go away, go away, and please don’t slam the door…

Last night I saw upon the stair,
A little man who wasn’t there,
He wasn’t there again today
Oh, how I wish he’d go away…

– But it wasn’t until July 12, 1939 that a  recording of the song by the Glenn Miller Orchestra with vocals by Tex Beneke became an 11-week hit on Your Hit Parade reaching #7.

– So, is ‘WHD’ part of the Glenn Miller band trying out lyrics in as early as 1937? Or is ‘WHD’ just a very learned poetry aficionado?

– Mr. G.O. Moon’s State Office Building in Columbus, Ohio was demolished in 1970 for the sake of better views of a taller office tower.

– ‘WHD’ ironically went on to be the call letters of America’s first ‘top 40’ radio station in Kansas City, Missouri. An innovative and well-financed entrepreneur, Todd Storz, came from Omaha to purchase ‘WHD’ and came up with the pioneering concept of playing only ‘top 40’ music hits, therefore changing American radio forever to this day.

– The song itself was used in many movies (especially spooky ones) and has  been recorded by many other artists (even heavy metal bands) up to this day as well.

– The postcard itself is a 1930 view of Broadway. Your clues: two signs advertising two hit movies of the year 1930. “A Woman Surrenders” starring Basil Rathbone and Conrad Nagel. And the hugely successful Howard Hughes film “Hell’s Angels” starring blonde bombshell Jean Harlow. It was one of the first ‘talkie’ films.

So, postcard hunting turns out to be a pretty fun mystery, insightful and learning experience!

Hear the Glenn Miller song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0woVmAdWbw0


Photo of the day: “LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THE BEATLES!”

The Ed Sullivan Theater, February 9, 2014

The Ed Sullivan Theater, February 9, 2014

Photo of the day: 2-9-1964 8:00PM  THE BEATLES CHANGED CULTURE FOREVER – On February 9th, 1964 just a few minutes after 8:00pm America was changed forever with these immortal words uttered by Ed Sullivan “Ladies and gentlemen the Beatles!” 70 million TV viewers, America’s largest TV audience to date watched frantic girls scream to the strains of “All My Loving”.
        Say and think what you will but after 9:00pm our music, fashion, behavior, styles, art and society had changed like a boulder crashing over a cliff. It was a teenage sonic boom that suddenly took over. Adults couldn’t understand this “yeah, yeah, yeah” nonsense. Today Beatles music is considered easy listening and elevator music that young kid’s grandparents listen too (hard to wrap your head around that…). It has influenced many musicians ever since, it’s amazing how far we have come. In honor of this historic broadcast the Ed Sullivan theater here in New York City has recreated the now iconic marquis of that night.
       The program opened with The Beatles, who sang “All My Loving,” “Till There Was You,” and “She Loves You,” followed by a magician and excerpts from the Broadway musical “Oliver” with Georgia Brown and ironically future “Monkee” Davy Jones in the cast, yes that Davy Jones! Mimic Frank Gorshin impersonated movie stars as political leaders and Tony Award Welsh singer/actress Tessie O’Shea sang, followed by comedians Mitzi McCall and Charlie Brill. Later in the program, The Beatles performed “I Saw Her Standing There” and “I Want To Hold Your Hand.” The program closed with the pantominists Weels and The Four Fays.
      Here is a video of that groundbreaking performance including some video of the Beatles partying at famed disco the Peppermint Lounge as girls teach Ringo the latest dance steps. http://www.jukebo.com/the-beatles/music-clip,the-ed-sullivan-show-first-appearance,qp8rul.html

Photo of the day: ENOUGH ALREADY ! ! !

STOP THE SNOW!

Photo of the day: ENOUGH ALREADY ! ! !

Photo of the day: WHY ALL THE SUPER BOWL FUSS? I HAVE MY AUTHENTIC SUPER BOWL RING!

 

Authentic New York Giants Super Bowl ring!

Authentic New York Giants Super Bowl ring!

Photo of the day: WHY ALL THE SUPER BOWL FUSS? I HAVE MY AUTHENTIC SUPER BOWL RING! (Well…I wore the bling for about 5 minutes!) In November of 2010, I went to the opening of the Broadway play “Lombardi” and got to wear an authentic Super Bowl ring and got up close to the Lombardi trophy 😀 (The complete photo album is on my Facebook page.)

The Vince Lombardi trophy

The Vince Lombardi trophy


HAPPY 93rd BIRTHDAY CAROL CHANNING ♥ !

HAPPY BIRTHDAY CAROL CHANNING!

TO THE GRANDE DAME OF BROADWAY – HAPPY BIRTHDAY CAROL CHANNING  !