Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Good God, Darren Does It Again: Traffic Spikes To 2,400+ In Two Days

Damn, are there any more dedicated fans than those following Darren Hayes? On Monday, we posted a loving review of his best new single in years, "Black Out the Sun," which Darren was kind enough to tweet to his 46,741 Twitter followers... Instantaneous combustion: On Tuesday, The Smoking Nun spiked from its customary 400-500 hits to 1,400. Today, we're approaching another 1,000 before 10 p.m.

As one fan posted on The Smoking Nun last time around, call it "The Darren Effect." And how. Last November, we posted details about a wondrous face-to-face visit I had with Darren when he was in New York. Within a day, hits spiked to the same range... just as they did in May 2010 when I simply wished him a happy birthday.

Have I mentioned that in my Billboard days, Savage Garden was not only one of my fave acts (after I wrote a third column as Radio Editor about the duo for each successive hit single in the 1990s, my managing editor told me that I was approaching ad nauseum and to lay off for a while), but he has persistently been one of the most genuine artists I've known?

Happiness Is Hot Coffee... Because You Don't Have To Put In Your Teeth

NYC Vintage Image Of The Day: Blind Leading The Blind? 1974

In 1958, Sun Myung Moon founded the Unification Church in South Korea. In 1971, he had moved to the U.S. to begin mission work in Washington, New York and San Francisco and by 1973, the church had several thousand members in all 50 states, often characterized by their free-flowing robes, shaved heads and offers to "buy a flower," including the disciple above, in New York in 1974.
Sun Myung Moon and Hak Ja Han.

"Moonies" were considered a cult, because of high-pressure recruitment methods and the belief that the church separated disenfranchised, vulnerable young people from their families through brainwashing or mind control. One scholar wrote, "It is a ready-made doctrine for impatient young people and all those for whom the pursuit of the complex has become a tiresome and fruitless venture."

One former Moonie explained the recruitment drive: "Creativity is frowned upon, conformity is stressed. All day you are bombarded by ideas and concepts. There is little relaxation, so your resistance is low. You are taught that everyone not in the movement is under the influence of Satan and you should mistrust them."

Moonie doctrine is summarized in the textbook Divine Principle and include belief that the Rev. Moon himself was recognized by Christ as the second coming of the messiah.

In 1982, the tax-exempt Moon established the highly conservative Washington Times newspaper in Washington. President George W. Bush said it was the first paper he read every morning.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hurricane Irene In Brooklyn Heights: Remains Of The Day

Here in the nicely shaded nabe of Brooklyn Heights, the extent of Sunday's Hurricane Irene damage was a half-dozen or so downed trees of various sizes. The biggest was an 80-year-old American Elm—which authorities had warned four years ago was a hazard, until tree huggers saved it. It destroyed a brick wall and broke a window in a building across the street.Above, remains of the tree today; below, crews move it from the street Monday.Below, other trees downed in Brooklyn Heights...Photos: Brooklyn Heights Blog, unless otherwise noted)

Our 'Dear Genevieve' Episode To Encore September 6 @ 3:30p!

In case you missed it the first 321759018475 times, the episode of HGTV's Dear Genevieve that we appeared on in March 2011 will have another encore showing Tuesday, Sept. 6, at 3:30 p.m.! The fifth season of the design makeover show launches Sept. 24!

Rodiney Santiago Covers September 2011 'Instinct' Mag

Our fave cover man Rodiney Santiago graces the glossy September 2011 issue of Instinct with a beautifully understated image.

Dancing With The Devil: Nancy Grace Joins Cast Of ABC's 'DWTS'

Get ready for some hysterical moves on the upcoming season of ABC's Dancing with the Stars. Among the cast members for season 13 is perpetually hysteria-driven HLN cable news host Nancy Grace. With assistance from iVillage, here are the other bottom-feeders joining the show, which launches Aug. 29.

Chaz Bono: The transgendered, rhythm-free child of Cher and Sonny Bono will dance with women.
David Arquette: The actor/ex-husband of Courteney Cox is best known for performances in Scream & Never Been Kissed.
Ricki Lake: The Hairspray actress and Emmy nominee is launching a new talk show next year.
Rob Kardashian: Kourtney, Kim and Khloe's younger brother works as a talent manager. If you have none, rep those that do?
Ron Artest: A 6-foot-7 Los Angeles Lakers forward.
Chynna Phillips: The Wilson Phillips singer is the daughter of John and Michelle Phillips and married to Billy Baldwin. She's also quite obviously had a shitload of plastic surgery!! (see pic)
Kristin Cavallari: Reality series whore from Laguna Beach and The Hills.
Carson Kressley: Bravo's Queer Eye for the Straight Guy queen.
J.R. Martinez: The All My Children actor suffered burns over 40% of his body while deployed in Iraq. He's also a motivational speaker.
Hope Solo: A goalie for the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team.
Elisabetta Canalis: George Clooney's ex, and a known TV and film personality in her native Italy.

Thank god Hallmark channel is still showing reruns of Golden Girls.

One Day Left To Vote: The Smoking Nun's Daily Feature

Cool cats, voting ends Wednesday for The Smoking Nun's daily feature: NYC Vintage Image of the Day, Male Model of the Day or Radio and Records?

There's a poll along the top right column here and so far... the 22-vote response is leading me to believe that the Nun is smoking its way into anemia. The Smoking Rodiney Santiago... That does have a nice ring to it...

Model Perfect: Jon Kortajarena

There is certainly no shortage of pics of Spanish model Jon Kortajarena across the webbie. Known for his beautiful, stacked hair, chiseled cheekies and full-lipped pout, he began appearing in ad campaigns in 2003. Kortajarena has repped most every men's label, including Cavalli, D&G, Versace, Armani, Bally, Etro, Trussardi, Diesel, Mangano, Lagerfeld, Jean Paul Gaultier, Pepe Jeans, H&M and Tom Ford.

L´Officiel Homme published an entire issue devoted to the runway and print model, while he has been named both German and Spanish GQ Man of the Year.

In 2009, he was ranked No. 8 among Forbes World's Most Successful Male Models, and is currently No. 6 on Top 25 Money Guys list. On to the face of the week...

NYC Image Of The Day: Gridlock! Delancey & Clinton Streets, 1923

With the ubiquity of automobiles in the early 1920s came the inevitable crunch of jaw-clenching traffic jams. New York was primed to endure the mangle of many messes, with its labyrinth of intersecting streets.

Above, vehicles are attempting to exit the Williamsburg Bridge into gridlock at Delancy and Clinton Streets on the Lower East Side. The snarl involves cars, trolleys and the Third Avenue Rail line. Thank god subways were becoming the savior of the city by this time, though many were still running above ground.

At left, cars wait to enter the Holland Tunnel in 1927, the year the miraculous connector between N.Y. and N.J. was completed.

And below, the gridlock that lives on in our modern city today...
(Top image from NYC Vintage Images)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Post-Hurricane Irene Transit Recovery Nothing Less Than Remarkable

I oozed a lot of ink Sunday complaining that New York overreacted to Hurricane Irene with its unprecedented shutdown of the largest public transportation system in the nation: subways, buses, Long Island Railroad, PATH trains and Metro-North.

I bitched heartily that after the storm had completed its swath of metro NYC, it was time for Mayor Michael Bloomberg—whom I am no fan of—to get the city moving again, as thousands were trapped in mandatory shelters and had no way to navigate the metro region Monday morning.

And now it's time for me to shut my flapping gums and congratulate MTA for a job well done (this time). Subway service resumed at 5:40 a.m. Monday and by afternoon, all lines were restored with only limited delays.

The Wall Street Journal reports that by late morning Sunday, subway crews began inspecting on foot 660 miles of subway tracks, 468 stations and 6,300 cars. ‪To bring the subways back on line, workers had to pump out flood waters pooled on tracks and remove any debris. Once tracks were clear, drivers returned 2,000 subway cars to their terminals, then conducted simulated runs throughout the system during overnight hours to prepare for Monday.

Meanwhile, city buses were back on the roads, except where detours made navigation impossible; and PATH trains and the Staten Island Ferry resumed regular service at 4 a.m. JFK, LaGuardia and Newark airports—which canceled 9,000+ flights over the weekend—opened to arriving flights before 7 a.m., with departures ensuing at noon.

But all was not hunky dory for transportation serving metro New York. Metro-North Railroad, New Jersey Transit commuter trains and, not surprisingly, LIRR remained closed because of flooding and track damage.

And poor Amtrak. There were no trains between Philadelphia and Boston, which I maintain is pitiful. But I can't blame Bloomberg for that one, can I?

Mayor Mike suspended all subway and bus service as of noon Saturday as the city braced for Hurricane Irene. While North Carolina—and, surprisingly, states north of New York—sustained the worst damage, with massive power outages and flooding, the much ballyhooed storm failed to deliver the catastrophic blow in New York that the national media hyped for some 48 hours. But for the most part, we made it through the rain. Monday in New York was a glorious day.

Two In One Week: PR Homophobic GOP Politico Exposed As Closet Gay

For the second time within the past week, a homophobic Republican politico has been exposed in a gay scandal.

On Friday, 64-year old Indiana State Rep. Phillip Hinkle, who is married with two children, was nabbed paying a 20-year-old man he met over Craigslist for "a really good time." The gay Republican has explicitly stated, "I am not gay."

Today, Puerto Rico Sen. Roberto Arango resigned from office after posting sexually explicit photos of his bum on his profile page for gay mobile app Grindr.

In one photo, Arango is shown naked from the waist up; in another, he is nude and bent over on a bed, exposing his heinie to the camera; and in a third, the senator was assinine, uh, asinine enough to show his face.
Phillip Hinkle

The Republican told the local media he couldn't remember if he posted explicit photos on Grindr, but hastily resigned in the scandal's wake.

Arango, who is living in the closet as a married man, voted in favor of Resolution 99, a proposal that would block any attempt to permit same-sex marriages in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico. He has also opposed adoption rights for gay people. In addition, Arango was the Puerto Rican chair of Bush/Cheney 2004, which swept to reelection on a wave of anti-gay sentiment.

Reminder: Why Rodiney Santiago Is The Sexiest Man Alive

Rodiney Santiago: The Smoking Nun's Sexiest Man Alive 2010. Looks like he's bidding for a 2011 encore with these spanking new picolas.Another subtle reminder...

Darren Hayes Returns To Pop Glory With 'Black Out The Sun' Single

Darren Hayes' new single "Black Out The Sun," which hits retail Oct. 2, serves up a quintessential performance from one of our enduring fave singer/songwriters—whose creativity simply never ebbs.

With upcoming fourth solo album Secret Codes and Battleships, due Oct. 17, he again hearkens the beloved pure pop template—after 2007's more experimental This Delicate Thing We Made and 2004's The Tension and the Spark—that made Hayes a global superstar during his 1990s' run as lead of duo Savage Garden. In fact, their 1997 No. 1 "Truly Madly Deeply" is the most played song in the history of the Billboard AC survey.

The percussion-fueled ballad, driven by Hayes' haunting falsetto, follows peppy dance-driven single "Talk Talk Talk" and its strikingly clever "Out of Touch" remix and B-side cover of Madonna's "Angel." "Sun," however, dims the lights, with a lament to lost love, as strings swirl and swoop like a chorus of orchestral angels trying to make all right with the world again. Hayes sings, "There's nobody else who can hurt like you hurt me/Now all the love's gone, and nothing grows here and I just feel wrong, so just black out the sun."

Fortunately, "Sun" is not reflective of Hayes' relationship with hubby Richard Cullen. It was written with & produced by Carl Falk in Sweden (and recorded the day Michael Jackson died).

Secret Codes, meanwhile, returns Hayes to a major record label, hopefully giving his career the promotional muscle it deserves from Mercury/Universal in Australia and Europe.

The dark, moody video clip (below), directed by Grant Marshall and featuring choreography by Hayes' sister Claire Marshall, utilizes a full soundstage and a major-league cinematic projector that employs a vintage anamorphic lenses from the 1970s. And it's fun to see our Darren with free-flowing longer hair again, too. Man, this is one of the best tracks I've heard this year, bar none.

Linda Harvey, Who Loathes Gays, Now Decides They Don't Exist

Linda Harvey, whose homophobic rants make Michele Bachmann sound like Mother Goose, can't seem to make up her damn mind.

The founder of Columbus, Ohio-based Mission America, which hides under the umbrella of Christianity to spew hatred about gays, has made it her mission to conjure some of the most venomous, over-the-top lies in the nation among radical conservatives. Among them:

* The National Education Assn. offers "financial incentives" to students to engage in homosexual behaviors. It "not only allows but applauds and defends openly transvestite teachers."
* Gays are high-risk employees, because of "higher rates of domestic violence and unstable relationships."
* Gay pride parades are "the crème de la crème” of sex entitlement: women who’ve amputated healthy breasts and men who’ve added false ones."
* Her most infamous rant: Gay marriage will lead to "a perpetual pansexual pagan party. It include(s) libel, slander, intimidation, corruption of youth, suppression of parental rights, disease, loss of employment and life. Oh, and did I mention public sex, the porn explosion and public nudity? Welcome to entitlement sex."

But now it appears that Harvey has decided that—for all the danger gays pose to society—we actually do not exist. Over the weekend, she dedicated her online broadcast to criticizing the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. According to Harvey, there's no need for the effort because there is no such thing as homosexuality.

"There is no proof that there’s ever anything like a gay, lesbian or bisexual or transgendered child, or teen or human," she insisted. "GLSEN’s gonna roll out (a campaign) this year calling for respect for the homosexual lifestyle. The PR campaign to hold up gay as a good thing: the lifestyle, not the person, because there are no such humans.”

Huh? Has the Republican party heard about this? Because they are wasting a lot of time and direct mail attempting to raise fear-based money to fight "the gay agenda." If we queers don't exist, the G.O.P. better hurry and find a new scapegoat. Time's a'wasting!

'The Warrior' Sounds Boring, But It Sure Looks Hot

I couldn't much care about the upcoming Lionsgate flicker The Warrior, starring Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton as two estranged brothers who band together to face the fight of a lifetime in the high-stakes world of Mixed Martial Arts. But a look at the movie poster certainly fosters an ooh la la.

An accompanying coffee table book of "fine art portraits" by Lionsgate’s Chief Marketing Officer Tim Palen, The Men of Warrior, features tough-guy images of Hardy and Edgerton, plus other MMA fighters in the film. Palen is known throughout the movie marketing industry for daring approaches to film promotion, including provocative one-sheet posters, many featuring his own photography. I'd say he succeeded here.

Hardy has appeared in Inception, Black Hawk Down and the upcoming The Dark Knight Rises; and Edgerton in Animal Kingdom and Star Wars: Episode III.

The movie, directed by Gavin O’Conner, hits theaters Sept. 9, while the book preceded it Aug. 9.