Thursday, June 30, 2011

Ayhan's Young Pals Hosts Reading Of His Rock Opera 'Gods'

Today, Ayhan hosted nearly a dozen folks for the preliminary reading of his musical Gods, which was originally heralded in the 1990s as "Turkey's First Rock Opera." His new version is a collaboration with Wally Wilhoit, which they have been working on for months.

The millennial incarnation will be more of a traditional musical, featuring a mythological story of tragic love and a contemporary pop/rock score. Ayhan invited a posse of fellow musicians and creatives for the reading, followed by a hands-on critical analysis of this work in progress. Great stuff.

Nir Hod's 'Genius': Behind The Mind's Eye Of Modern Entitled Children

“Genius,” an exhibit by Israeli artist Nir Hod, showcases pouty, fat-cheeked little boys and girls, glaring with precocious insolence, their stubby little fingers dangling cigarettes. Dressed in elegant outfits with grandiose, outlandish hairdos, the glamour and faux sophistication perhaps hint at how many parents of today treat their children: as miniature grown-ups, so coddled and overprotected that their innate innocence is lost. At least that's my perception.

The images are undoubtedly creepy and off-putting... but then so are many of today's parenting practices. I wonder if the fact that kids are no longer allowed to scrape their knees, run without overt supervision, make mistakes so that they learn good from bad, or play with toys to develop their imaginations instead of an xbox or a tirade of texting—ultimately fosters a generation of entitled, narcissistic little demons who, by the time they reach puberty, truly resemble these gruesome images.

Unfortunately, "Genius" closed last week at New York’s Paul Kasmin Gallery. Nir Hod was born in Tel Aviv in 1970 and received his BFA from the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem. He lives and works in New York. Hopefully, he will return with more interpretations of the modern human condition. 
Previous works by Hod...

A Sweet Retro Walk Down The Aisles Of 1960s/1970s Supermarkets

After I bought my apartment in Brooklyn Heights in May 2000, I was confronted with 70+ boxes to unpack. Whenever I found myself overwhelmed and stressed and had to get out of the building, Itook refuge wandering the aisles at the Key Food just up the street.

Having previously lived on the Upper West Side & in Tribeca, it was a joy to have a supermarket instead of Manhattan's typical overpriced, understocked bodegas.

For whatever reason, supermarkets have always held fascination for me: their overt organization, clever displays, the fascination of new food innovations on the shelves.

Maybe it has something to do with childhood memories of going with my mamer to the Winn-Dixie and the A&P as a kid in Lynchburg, Va.... Groceries... like comfort food to me, even without necessarily eating it.

Let's take a stroll down the aisles of some retro supermarket images I found myself pouring through on the web... Good, clean fun.Smokes and booze!! Ah, those were the days!
One of the world's greatest cereals!! King Vitamin!!

Pastel checkout!!

NYC Image Of The Day: Billionaire John Astor, Narcotics Dealer, 1829

John Jacob Astor arrived in Manhattan from Germany in 1784, just after the Revolutionary War. The son of a humble butcher, he became a merchant in his new nation, trading furs with Indians and starting a fur goods shop in the city by the end of the decade, while also serving as the stateside agent for his brother's musical instrument business.

By 1800, Astor had earned a quarter of a million dollars as one of the leading figures in the fur biz... But his grandest business scheme lay ahead of him.

In the mid 1700s, opium had become a popular pastime in many nations, but China, recognizing the dangers of cocaine, outlawed its sale by 1729 and by the end of the century, banned poppy trade and cultivation in the country. That didn't stop the opportunistic Astor, who, in 1816, under the guise of his fur trading business via the Br. East India Co., purchased 10 tons of Turkish opium, which he smuggled illegally into China.

The fortune he made from illegal narcotics allowed Astor to purchase a huge parcel of land in Manhattan from Aaron Burr, VP under President Thomas Jefferson, which he subdivided into 250 lots. He continued to buy—and rent—land in then-undeveloped parts of the city, just as New York's boom began moving north, which ultimately made him the wealthiest man in America by the time of his death in 1848.

Astor left an estate estimated to be worth $20 million, which today would be worth more than $110.1 billion. That's certainly nothing to sniff at, eh?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Model Perfect: Meet Ryan Bertroche

Born in Bettendorf, Iowa, Ryan Bertroche likes to farm and ride horses (naught thoughts, naughty thoughts). 

At his young age, the full-lipped, briefs-packing man has already modeled for the likes of GQ, V magazine, Arena Homme Plus, Vogue Homme Japan, Out and Sports and Style, strutting for Gucci, Calvin Klein, D&G and Dior Homme.

Photogs who have warmed up to Mister Bertroche include Bruce Weber, Mariano Vivanco, Alasdir Mclellan, and Carlotta Manaigo.

Cosmopolitan Las Vegas: 'Just The Right Amount Of Wrong' Campaign

The stunning $3.9 billion Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas, which I toured in March, has a wonderfully playful, slightly naughty ad campaign that caught my eye today. The tagline: Just the Right Amount of Wrong. Genius.
See the accompanying hotel commercial on YouTube here.

Chris Hemsworth Heats Up May 2011 'Interview' Mag

Hot Aussie actor Chris Hemsworth, the star of smash flick Thor, has a generous photo spread in the May 2011 Interview magazine. Better late than never! Pics: Robbie Fimmano. Ooh la la!

Stockholm Goes All California With Silly Pre-School Gender Ban

There's nothing unusual about nut-bags in the nanny state of California attempting to ban everything from circumcision and grocery bags to outlawing incandescent light bulbs and charging a "recycling" tax on carpets. But a preschool in Stockholm, Sweden has one-upped the U.S. with an ordinance so ridiculous, you'd swear it was American-made.

At the Egalia public pre-school, pronouns like "boy" and "girl" are not allowed—because of the imminent danger that such "stereotypes" will damage our delicate children's precious development. Instead, "friends" is now the gender-neutral term.

In addition, toys traditionally enjoyed by boys or girls are now blended. Lego blocks are intentionally placed next to the kitchen, to make sure kids draw no "mental barriers" between cooking and construction. Funny, I always thought it was fun to be a boy toy.

Freak teach Jenny Johnson explains, "Society expects girls to be girlie, nice & pretty and boys to be manly, rough & outgoing. Egalia gives them a fantastic opportunity to be whoever they want to be."

Breaking down gender roles is a core mission in the preschool curriculum in Sweden, to insure that society doesn't give boys an unfair edge. Such "stereotypical" books as Snow White and Cinderella are banned, since they picture girls acting like, um, girls.

School director Lotta Rajalin adds that when a doctor, police, electrician or plumber comes to the kindergarten class, the word "hen" is applied, so there is no risk of children thinking it's a him or a her.

I hate to imagine what happens to these children when they reach primary school and find out that there's an actual difference between the sexes. Seems to me this encourages bullying, instead of the intended opposite effect. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

Matty & Jordan's NYC Finale With Abby & Spencer

Matthew & Jordan's final day in NYC... Last evening, we took Abby & Spencer to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade to soak up the setting sun.

NYC Image Of The Day: Times Square's American Music Hall, 1893

The American Music Hall was among the first theatrical venues to open in the "new" theater district in Times Square, from its original base in Herald Square. Despite its "remote" location at 42nd and Eighth Avenue, the grand 2,065-seat Hall with a lush rooftop garden thrived upon opening in 1893.
Its debut musical, The Prodigal's Daughter, which opened in May 1893, featured 10 horses onstage.
A Woman Of No Importance, 1893; Oliver Twist, 1895.
By 1929, American Music Hall had devolved into a vaudeville theater, and then a burlesque house and cinema—until a fire destroyed it in December 1930. It was razed in 1932. Below: today.