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

Posts tagged “Times Square

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.

Postcard story from New York – “A GRANDE DINNER FOR TWO in 1914- 100 YEARS AGO TODAY”

1914 DINNER collage

Postcard story from New York – “A GRANDE DINNER FOR TWO in 1914- 100 YEARS AGO TODAY”

New York, July 30, 1914

“Churchill‘s,” Broadway and Forty-ninth Street, New York.

 

To: Mrs. Wm. A. Johnson

250 N. Water

Franklin, Ind.

“Wed. evening,

Dearest Momma,

Have just gotten back from having dinner here. A Mr. Barkus from South Carolina to me and little Miss Blair to dinner. He sent us both roses – mine were two dozen cream tea roses. He left on the train for S.C. and sent us home in a taxi,

With lots of love,

Maude

A grande evening was had by all 100 years ago to the day. It seems Mr. Barkus from South Carolina was quite a gentlemen sending the two ladies home in taxis and roses the next day!

In Times Square things were still ’rosey’, but World War I had just been declared and two days later Germany had declared war on Russia.

Churchill’s was ’the’ place to be at the time. Lobsters! Champagne! Showgirls!

For the decade before Prohibition, Churchill’s Restaurant and Cabaret was one of the largest and swankiest of the “lobster palaces” along the Great White Way.

The eponymous establishment was the creation of ex-NYPD Captain Jim Churchill. Located on Broadway at 49th Street, the eatery could accommodate 1,200 patrons and employed a staff of 300. Guests could dine on the special for a mere buck-twenty five, listen to live music, dance and rub shoulders with denizens of the theater district like actress Anna Held and philanthropist and nightlife fixture Diamond Jim Brady.

Attempting to refute the notion of the scandalous, sinful “Broadway Life” popular in the fictions of the day, Churchill said “Broadway is simply the Coney Island of night-time New York, where some of the people play a bit, eat a bit, drink a bit, talk, sing and laugh a bit—and get a bit dizzy. But the dizziness imparted by Broadway is no more fatal than the dizziness that comes from riding on a gaudily-painted merry-go-round…”

Shortly after the passage of the Volstead Act in 1921, which established prohibition, Churchill shuttered his business, leasing the ground floor to the Toy Yoeng Syndicate of America, which converted it into a Chinese restaurant – today known as the popular Ruby Foos.

(Note the bandshell in the way back above the crowd, that’s Maurice Levi and his orchestra. Kinda like the Harmonia Gardens in Hello Dolly, 2 girls out for dinner on the town.)

 churchills-NB

 


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

LET'S GO RANGERS! ! !

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

Photo of the day: THE BLOOM IS OFF THE ROSE, FAMED ROSELAND CLOSES WITH LADY GAGA AS FINAL ACT

Roseland: 1919 - 2014, r.i.p.

Roseland: 1919 – 2014, r.i.p.

Photo of the day: THE BLOOM IS OFF THE ROSE, FAMED ROSELAND CLOSES – Another knife in the heart of New York’s theater district was last night’s closing of the iconic once dance hall, now concert and party venue Roseland. It went out with a bang as Lady Gaga rocked the house – now it falls silent…the next sound you hear will be that of the wrecking ball. It is with head spinning disbelief that yet another historic piece of New York will be replaced with a tall mirror glass building fur the über rich. The year 2013 saw more (almost daily) closings and tear downs of long time establishments than in recent memory – all part of the mayor Bloomberg’s greedy search and destroy tactic of anything that is (not so) old, is just out of the reaches of being declared a landmark and therefore won’t face the trials of court injunctions against it’s demolition. Zoning law variances have become the norm and for a price – history, building restrictions and the heart of the city mean absolutely nothing. The average price of buying a New York City council member (like mine, Jimmy Van Bramer) is $10,200 – buy a few council members and you can build what you wish, they will magically ‘vote’ your way.
Roseland started on 51st Street as a 1919 dance hall for ‘refined dancing’, slowly that evolved to ‘dance hostesses’ who offered dances for 11¢ a dance (think film “Sweet Charity”). From white ‘refined’ music it evolved into a swinging big band and jazz club featuring the likes of Louis Armstrong, Count Basie with his “Roseland Suffle”, Chick Webb and Ella Fitzgerald, Glenn Miller, Frank Sinatra to Madonna, Beoncé and Donna Summer and all the other major music acts of our time. The original club closed and reopened in 1956 one block over on 52nd Street in a former ice rink. Slow dancing turned into disco nights and rock concerts. Infamous underground parties (Black Party), fan shows, conventions, new and old music groups appeared here or made their reappearance here, for example disco diva Grace Jones in 1978 broke through a brick wall on her motorcycle and then did her act surrounded by tigers. She made her grande reappearance in 2012 and hadn’t changed a bit (see my old post).
And now along with the Lenox Lounge in Harlem, Colony Records in Times Square, South Street Seaport’s Pier 17, and endless other victims of this genocide of history – you can add The Roseland Ballroom. Is this what it is like to grow old? You loose everything around you? Or is it the voracious greed of our destructive former mayor Bloomberg, who in his twelve years of being mayor has gone from being the 18th richest man in America worth $18 billion, to becoming the 10th richest man in America now worth $31 billion . . . coincidence, it think not. Mayor DeBlassio – are you doing ANYTHING to stop this genocide of a city’s history? DeBlassio? DeBlassio?
My GAGA review:

GAGA said goodbye to Roseland in style! For those of you who don’t know better/are too young, THIS is what the awesome club scene used to be like. This was a rare treat for the lucky privileged thousands chosen that experienced one of the most iconic goodbyes to a club ever. If you are die-hard fan you get there early, stand for hours, run to the front and Lady G let’s you touch her boobs! Sweating (excuse me – glistening) on the dance floor, sharing that mass experience is a dying experience. The audience becomes a pulsating “one” with each other and the artist. No stadium shit like Barclay for me! Music hard core! Roseland has been around since 1919! It has hosted the likes of Louis Armstrong, Count Basie with his “Roseland Suffle”, Chick Webb and Ella Fitzgerald, Glenn Miller, Frank Sinatra to Madonna, Beonce and Donna Summer and all the other major music acts of our time. To be able to experience Gaga in such an intimate setting and touching farewell makes those who attended extremely lucky. R.I.P. ROSELAND

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: 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


Photo of the day: THE GREAT WHITE WAY in JANUARY 2014 BLIZZARD

WHITE WAY

Photo of the day: THE GREAT WHITE WAY – Cliché title yes I know, but hey, if the title fits…lol! I bared the 17°F (-8.33C) temperatures and below zero wind chills to get a rare whitewashed view of the ‘great white way’.

Without the crazy array of people to create it’s atmosphere, Times Square’s huge lit signs became the main attraction. You sadly come to realize none of the signs advertise shows anymore, but only bras, jeans and eye makeup. Times Square is/was named “the great white way” because of the glow of all the lights from the theater marquis, now mostly all gone replaced by Sephora and Forever 21.

It was so bitter cold and wet, no one had any interest to stop and photograph the dimmed lights. I saw only a few tourists who were determined enough to take a few gratuitous pictures before their cameras froze and they hurriedly left to escape the brutal biting winds. We received up to a foot of snow for the day. In the great tradition of “the show must go on“, the Broadway shows were not canceled for Tuesday night’s performances, I am sure some great seats were to have been had. All in all, the huge lighted billboards begging you to come hither and stare were no match for the fury of Mother Nature Tuesday afternoon. Mother always wins you know…


Photo of the day: IT WAS 72° TODAY – THE BAD SIDE EFFECTS OF GLOBAL WARMING

bikini-man

Photo of the day: THE BAD SIDE EFFECTS OF GLOBAL WARMING: . . . is this.
It was 72 degrees (22.2 Celsius) today in New York City! And what does that result in – one of the older ‘regulars*’ in Times Square, still wearing winter mittens and  a pair of Uggs. Of course the Christmas velvet reindeer antlers with a Statue of Liberty crown to hold them in place. The pink wig matches his pink bike and matching pink streamers. Since it was so warm today that rest of his outfit was shed to reveal tiny polka dot bikini.
But . . . don’t you just hate it – when you realize, after you’ve left the house, that your bikini top doesn’t match your bikini bottom? I hate when that happens!
* We have several ‘regulars’ – the naked cowboy, the naked cowgirl, the naked Indian and the naked candy man.

Mondays on Memory Lane: 1987 JOAN COLLINS SELLS HER PANTIES AT MAXIM’S

JOAN COLLINS collage

Mondays on Memory Lane: 1987 JOAN COLLINS SELLS HER PANTIES AT MAXIM’S – Torrid headline, but true. Joan has added her name to many products over the years and in 1987 she launched a line of lingerie, promoted by SanMark Stardust and it was sold in stores such as Jordan Marsh, Emporium and Bon Marche, as well as K-Mart, Target and Shop-co. A diverse range of items were produced including ranges of sleepwear, lounge-wear and day-wear, in colors ranging from Red to Black and of course Pink. The line sold for between $8 to $35 and Joan appeared in print and TV ads to promote the line. The big launch party was at posh Maxim’s. Sadly after it’s fall launch and good sales it was gone by the following summer. (Maxim’s was only open in New York from 1985 to 2000).
Joan Collins lingerie promo

Joan Collins lingerie promo

Joan was still at the height of the Dynasty craze which ran from 1981 to 1989, I was a rabid, addicted die-hard fan, forget Dallas! Dy-Nasty had bitchy, dressy, classy Joan Collins! I have (somewhere buried) every episode on VHS tape, with the commercials!).
Joan and family

Joan and family

So – when it was announced Joan was launching her lingerie line at legendary Parisian bistro Maxim’s on Park Avenue in  New York, I had to go! By great luck, a co-worker of mine at the time had a press pass he let me borrow, and I wound up having front row access to  Joan. I have about 3 dozen photos of the event.
 JOAN COLLINS AD
Tomorrow night 26 years later, Joan Collins is making a very rare one night appearance with her one woman life story show at BB King’s Jazz Club on 42nd Street in New York. Despite the fact that it will be election night, my good friend Susan Godwin (who worships Joan) and I are running to see her. Hopefully she will sign some of my memorabilia!

Photo of the day: STRIPTEASE DOLLS & BURLESQUE BEAUTIES

TIMES BURLESQUE THEATER

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!
MAZEPPA:
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!
ELECTRA:
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.
TESSIE TURA:
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