Sunday, July 31, 2011

Celine Dion Launches 'Signature' Fragrance With New Ad Campaign

Celine Dion has released a new advertising campaign to support her upcoming fragrance Signature, due in September. She says in the ad, "My music provides me with a wonderful creative outlet to express my feelings and share these emotions with my fans. Creating the Signature fragrance allows me to reach my fans in a completely different, yet very personal way.”

A Sensational Sunny Weekend In Fire Island

Stand by for all the action!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Model Perfect: David Gandy, The Male Model Of The Decade

While David Gandy is a little stern-looking for my tastes, his success cannot be denied. Simply, he is the most successful male model of the past decade. Following a career-making marquis campaign for Dolce & Gabbana's Light Blue perfume—including a 50-foot ad in Times Square—he now flies to 75 shoots a year, has been profiled by fashion magazines, interviewed by newspapers and is regarded as a beefcake ideal. No arguments there. Of course, it doesn't hurt a bit that he likes to pose in the briefest of briefs. Ooh la la.

Friday, July 29, 2011

'Another+Another': Talent Tidal Wave At BK's 2C Studios

My ears were flopping gleefully in the wind Thursday as Ayhan recorded a song he wrote with Ghia Gabriella Szwed,  "Another + Another," sung by Karine Hannah.

62 Montague Street: From 1887 To The Present... A Place Called Home

(John Lloyd)
Despite moving to New York City back in 1995, it wasn't until I bought my first coop in Brooklyn Heights, N.Y., 11 years ago, that I first set foot in the borough of BK. In those first five years in NYC, I worked my way through three nabes—the Upper West Side, Chelsea and Tribeca—before a friend suggested Brooklyn Heights.

"But that's in... um, Brooklyn," I responded. Oh, how times have changed.

In 2000, interest rates were steep (8.5%), but after seeing dozens of overpriced or undersized units, at last I found my utopia: a two-bedroom dump in a beautifully historic building near the end of the Heights' main drag, Montague Street, just steps from the consummate view of Manhattan along the Promenade.

In the decade-plus since, I've renovated the kitchen, the second bedroom & hallway, the bathroom—and in January, had the pleasure of a master bedroom makeover, courtesy of HGTV's Dear Genevieve. The living room... well, one of these days.

While the apartment is hardly light-filled, I can't imagine living anywhere else. The building now has a rooftop deck, the neighbors are a gregarious lot and since working for the U.S. Census last summer, I've come to love a wide swath of big ole BK. It doesn't hurt that a grocery store and liquor shop—essential—are mere blocks away. So it might be shady indoors, but it takes all of 60 seconds to discover paradise on the outside.

And now some history of the building I call home, built even before your mama was born, in 1887. First, my fave, from 1920. Note the beautiful iron canopy. Sadly, it has vanished in the decades since.

The Harbor View Apartments, later named The Arlington, were completed in 1887. The building was designed by Montrose W. Morris, who had built his own residence in Brooklyn and opened it to the public as his office, as a means of advertising his acumen.

Among visitors was developer Louis F. Seitz, who, mightily impressed, commissioned an apartment house on property he owned on BK's Nostrand Avenue. He was so pleased with the resulting Alhambra that he commissioned Morris to design two additional multiple-family residences—a growing trend amid the prominent brownstones in Brooklyn Heights.

In 1885, architectural firm Parfitt Brothers built the Montague, Grosvenor & Berkeley apartment buildings on Montague Street. Two years later, Morris was commissioned to design The Arlington, just steps from the ferry landing at the foot of Montague.Above, looking north from Montague Terrace. You can see the Arlington's cornucopia on the right, one building up. The iron fence is to protect pedestrians from being run down by the trolley that motored down to the ferry landing.Forty years before: Montague Street at the foot of the East River in 1850.1914: At the time, the trolley ran to the end of Montague Street, where a ferry took old-moneyed passengers to Wall Street.Above, bustling ship trade along the Brooklyn Heights waterfront, looking across to Manhattan. The Arlington is on the left, middle. Below, the ferry landing at the tip of Montague Street. Below, the opposite view, looking up toward Montague Street. Note the tug boat on the right.Harlem-born American playwright Arthur Miller (1915-2005) lived on the 10th floor of 62 Montague in the early 1940s with his first wife Mary Grace Slattery, paying $60 a month, while writing and working at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. It's said to be one of four addresses he held in the Heights. In 1946, his play All My Sons earned him a first Tony Award.

In 1949, Miller's career-defining Death of A Salesman won a Pulitzer Prize and another Tony Award, propelling him to fame. He met Marilyn Monroe in 1951, had a brief affair, then left poor Mary to become Monroe's third husband in July 1956. She wasn't having Brooklyn, and the couple moved to Manhattan. They divorced in 1961 and Monroe died 19 months later. Perhaps she'd still be with us had the pair stayed in BK?The Arlington originally contained 20 family apartments and 10 "bachelor"—or studio—units. For its first 20 years, at 10 stories, the building was the tallest residence in the Heights.
In 1965, 62 Montague joined Brooklyn Heights as a National Historic Landmark for its "rare charm and historic significance." The petition read: "Of the 1,284 buildings fronting on streets within the proposed District, 684 were built before the Civil War and 1,078 before the turn of the century. There are 60 Federal, 405 Greek Revival, 47 Gothic Revival and 201 Anglo-ltalianate buildings as well as 216 buildings in eclectic and miscellaneous styles, not to mention 61 early carriage-houses grouped largely along unspoiled mews. In addition, 190 buildings are of generally conforming scale."

To maintain the auspices of its Landmark stature, the building is currently undergoing a massive renovation to restore and repair its facade to original grandeur, which contains astonishing details, including terra cotta cherubs, intricate roping in the concrete and other decorative elements from sidewalk level to tip. The project is enduring the better part of a year.
(Note: This is an updated post that first appeared on The Smoking Nun in June 2010.)

Off To Fire Island For The Weekend...

It's off to Fire Island for a weekend of flaming frivolity with Bobby, Timmy and Ayhan. You know what that means: Pics, boyz and more pics. Have a swell weekend, cool cats. See you on the flip side.

NYC Image Of The Day: Fulton & Flatbush El, Brooklyn, 1908

On Nov. 5, 1888, the Fifth Avenue Brooklyn Rapid Transit Elevated line opened, carrying passengers from Fulton Ferry just across the Brooklyn Bridge (which opened in 1883) through downtown Brooklyn to Bay Ridge. At the bottom of the top pic, you'll see passengers waiting to board streetcars, while construction is taking place along the tracks.

Like most BK lines, funding in large part came from developers of Coney Island, who wanted to make it easy for all New Yorkers to reach the beach. The line also connected with the Long Island Railroad.

It was efficient, but what a bloody mess, huh? In 1940, the line was demolished, along with the majority of elevated lines in New York City. (Photos: NYC Vintage Images)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Abby & Spencer: Schnauzer Snapshots

I figured you must just be aching for new picolas of Abby & Spencer. Happy to deliver.

San Fran Judge Rules That Your Baby's Winkie Is Your Business

In May, a group of San Francisco nanny state extremists decided that your baby's winkie should not have to endure the horrendous ritual of genital mutilation—which most folks just call circumcision.

A proposed ban on what has always been—and should remain—a family's personal decision, had gained enough signatures to end up on the November ballot.

Loudmouth Lloyd Schofield, the measure's lead proponent, actually said: "Parents are guardians and have to do what's in the best interest of the child. It's his body. It's his choice." In other words, your 1-day-old son should be checking the "yes" or "no" box from the incubator to decide what he wants for his wee wee. Oh, Cali, come on!

Fortunately, San Fran Superior Court Judge Loretta Giorgi nixed the whole preposterous notion Wednesday, saying it's "expressly preempted" by state law. That means the California Business & Professions Code prohibits local regulation of medical procedures. Giorgi added the proposal "serves no legitimate purpose" and ordered it removed from the ballot.

Had the measure passed, circumcision would've been prohibited under the age of 18, with no religious exemptions, punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 or up to a year in jail. Looks like the local referendum is going to be a few inches shorter, after all.

NYC Vintage Image: The Precarious Early Days Of The NYC Subway

How the hell did they ever build the New York subway, anyway? The notion of burrowing under established streets, digging deep & precise tunnels and engineering a public transportation system at the beginning in the 20th Century—which continues to transport hundreds of thousands of passengers today—is mind-boggling.

However, as we see in this series of photos from Life magazine, it wasn't always easy going... Above, in 1920, two elevated subway trains collided at a right angle, one of several deadly disasters within a few years time.
1900: Excavation of the Seventh Avenue subway line came to a halt when a taxi lost control and veered into the work site. At that point, construction workers used a cut-and-cover method, which required them to dig into sediment, create a passageway for the subway, then rebuild the road above it.1915: A dynamite blast caused the overhead road to cave in on the Seventh Avenue subway line, sending a streetcar collapsing onto the rubble. Seven died and nearly 100 were injured.
1900: Yikes! It all started with a single train line, the Interborough Rapid Transit, on Oct. 27, 1904, running from City Hall to 145th Street. This is scaffolding precariously balanced inside a newly excavated tunnel.

Some things never change: Times Square at rush hour in 1940; and Coney Island-bound in 1948.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Gotcha! Hate-Filled Marriage Equality Protesters Are Confetti Bombed

On Sunday, while most New Yorkers were wistfully wiping away joyful tears as hundreds of same-sex couples took their wedding vows, at the City Clerk's office downtown a handful of pissed-off Bible thumpers, National Organization for Marriage zealots and mean-spirited Orthodox Jews screamed such Christian epitaphs as "Shame on you sodomizers, shame on you, faggots" and "Newlyweds are going to hell."

Gothamist reports that a crowd of marriage equality supporters retaliated—by spraying the protesters with a rainbow cloud of confetti. Beautiful! Photog Katie Sokoler snapped these priceless shots of one of the loathsome demonstrators getting a good fairy dusting.

Olivia Newton-John: Back In the Spotlight Where She Belongs

At 62, Olivia Newton-John continues to entertain her many minions with the gusto of a woman half her age. She delivered the goods at last month's Bondi Beach Pride extravaganza in NYC, and has released Portraits: A Tribute to Great Women of Song, a covers album recorded in 2004 and just released in the States. In addition, Livi recorded a new dance mix of the classic "Physical," with proceeds going to her Wellness and Cancer Center.

Included on the Portraits collection are delicious songs made famous by Dionne Warwick, Doris Day, Minnie Riperton, Judy Collins... and the immortal Karen Carpenter. She is featured in the upcoming Advocate, talking about the album...

On Karen Carpenter: She was a very good friend... a lovely girl and a lot of fun. Most people don’t know how much she loved Mickey Mouse and Disneyland. She lived [nearby] and loved to go there. She was a kid. She had the most amazing voice. I was such a fan. I do miss her. 

On the risk of releasing "Physical" as a single: It’s funny. I had a delayed reaction. I recorded it and then had a panic attack. I called my manager and said, “You’ve got to stop it. It’s too naughty.” He told me it was too late. By that time it had gone to radio and was on its way to No. 1. So I quickly adjusted.

The video features men holding hands. Was there controversy? Oh, I’m sure there was. Brian Grant was the director and I think it was his idea. I’m actually seeing him soon for the first time in 30 years and I’m going to ask him, because I don’t remember how it came about and it was such a funny twist. It’s not so radical now, but it was then.

On upcoming movie role in A Few Best Men: I play the mother of the bride, which is interesting because my daughter is engaged to be married, so it’s art imitating life. It’s good practice, but I hope Chloe’s wedding doesn’t go like this one. [Laughs] It’s a very funny movie. It’s written by the man who wrote Death at a Funeral and directed by Stephan Elliott, who made Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. The combination of those two is pretty wild.

On marriage equality: I sang at gay pride in New York the night after that was announced, so it was an incredible night to experience. The air was electric. I think love is love. You find it when you can. It’s wonderful that it can be recognized. People who have had long relationships and care about each and take care of each other should have the right to be married.

Meanwhile, Livi is featured on the cover of the Summer 2011 Living Well magazine. Read the interview here.