Thursday, July 29, 2010

On the Road III- Pittsburgh and the Andy Warhol Museum

The 7th Street Andy Warhol Bridge over the Allegheny River connects the downtown/strip area with the Northside - home of the Andy Warhol Musuem.

Andy Warhol was an extraordinarily talented and visionary artist who understood, as he was wont to say, first the business of art and later, the art of business. He was recognized worldwide as a talented artist and as an icon, perhaps an avatar, of the new art scene that exploded in the early 1960s and beyond. He understood and helped forge the concept of celebrity in his adopted city, New York. Happily, the Brooklyn Museum has continued to recognize and champion his work. But, if a prophet often has no honor except in his home town, then clearly Andy Warhol (aka Drella) in his heart was perhaps at home nowhere more so than the City of Pittsburgh where he was born and learned about art from his mother, Jula Warhola, as well as his studies at the Carnegie Institute (now Carnegie Mellon University).' 

The Andy Warhol Museum is a breathtakingly exciting and deeply comprehensive venue to provide the viewer to both understand and apprecitate the talent of the man and the scope of the work, but also to help put it in the context of a man who lived in what appear to be the mutually exclusive worlds  of Eastern Rite Catholicism and celebrity, sex, and urban intrigue.

The Andy Warhol Museum contains seven floors filled with Warhol's art, memorabilia and other cultural artifacts.  A current show matches the work of Marcel Duchamp and Andy Warhol. The museum pulls no punches in presenting the work of its unique and talented son: there is a great deal of explicit sex and nudity on display in Andy's works throughout his productive lifetime.

A great museum for Warhol and art fans. The stroll across the Andy Warhol Bridge to the museum gives you an idea of the appreciaiton of his talent and contributions.  While the city was always a cultural magneone senses that the resurgence of art  and creativity in the Pittsburgh is directly linked to the  possibilities that the "business of art and the art of business" can potentially bring to a community if, like the artist, it is willing to take a risk and aim for the stars.
-- Brookyln Beat

The Andy Warhol Museum, Sandusky Street, Pittsburgh, PA

Silver Clouds by Warhol

The show includes an entire floor of the museum dedicated to Andy's film and TV work.  

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

On the Road II-Pittsburgh, PA, at the Confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers

It was after visitng the recent Brooklyn museum exhibit on the later  works of Andy Warhol that we thought about visiting Pittsburgh, the city of Andrew Warhola's birth and the site of the Andy Warhol Museum. Pittsburgh is a lovely, liveable city, but a long drive from NY, so we decided to spend the first evening, at roughly the 3.5 hour mark, in Harrisburg, PA. The next day we continued onward and spent a few days in the City of Bridges. To give you an idea of how far west in Pennsylvania we are, Pittsburgh is built on a triangle of land formed by the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers, which form the Ohio RIver west of the city.
Aside from a plethora of small neighborhoods, there is a thriving art scene downtown and in other locations around the city that , like in other cities, are filling the vacuum left by demographic and economic changes. However, Pittsburgh continues to offer a colorful, vibrant, and seemingly mellow place to live in far western Pennslvania.

Among the many charming features, is the city's funicular, like in the song "funiculi, funicula". Originally steam powered, the Duquesne Incline was built to carry cargo up and down Mt. Washington in the late 1800s. It later carried passengers, particularly Mt. Washington residents who were tired of walking up footpaths to the top. Inclines were then being built all over Mt. Washington. But as more roads were built on “Coal Hill” most of the other inclines were closed. In the 1940s, only the Monongahela Incline and the Duquesne Incline remained.
The Dusquense Incline, which originally connected the factories in the valley below with the workers' homes on Mount Washington above, still provides transportation alternatives and offers fabulous views of the city, especially at night. 

This sure beats the IRT for charm and scenic views.

Pittsburgh's Golden Triangle, downtown business, cultural and corporate center
In 1962, the incline was closed, apparently for good. Major repairs were needed, and with so few patrons, the incline's private owners did little. But local Duquesne Heights' residents launched a fund-raiser to help the incline. It was a huge success, and on July 1, 1963, the incline reopened under the auspices of a non-profit organization dedicated to its preservation.
The incline has since been totally refurbished. The cars, built by the J. G. Brill and Company of Philadelphia, have been stripped of paint to reveal the original wood. An observation deck was added at the top affording a magnificent view of Pittsburgh's "Golden Triangle", and the Duquesne Incline is now one of the city's most popular tourist attractions.

English lyrics: 
Yesterday evening, O Nannina [short for Carolina], I climbed up,
Do you know where?
To where an ungrateful heart can no longer vex me!
Where a fire is burning, but if you flee
It lets you be.
It doesn't chase you, doesn't melt you, with just one glance!
Let's go, let's go, let's go to the top,
Let's go, let's go, let's go to the top,
Funiculì, funiculà, funiculì, funiculà!
Let's go to the top, Funiculì, funiculà!

Italian lyrics: 
Aieressera, oì Nanninè, me ne sagliette,
tu saie addò tu saie addò
Addò 'stu core 'ngrato cchiù dispietto
Farme nun pò!
Addò lo fuoco coce, ma si fuie
te lassa sta!
E nun te corre appriesso, nun te struie
sulo a guardà.
Jamme, jamme 'nc
ppa, jamme jà,
funiculì, funiculà

Pittsburgh is the second-largest city in the state of Pennsylvania and is thecounty seat of Allegheny County.Its population was 334,563 at the 2000 census; by 2009, it was estimated to have fallen to 311,647. The population of the seven-county metropolitan area was 2,354,957 in 2009. Downtown Pittsburgh retains substantial economic influence, ranking at 25th in the nation for jobs within the urban core (and is 6th in job density). Pittsburgh is the largest city located in Appalachia.
The characteristic shape of the city's downtown is a triangular tract carved by the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahelarivers, where the Ohio River forms.Pittsburgh is known colloquially as "The City of Bridges" and "The Steel City" for its many bridges and former steel manufacturing base.

While the city is historically known for its steel industry, today its economy is largely based on healthcare, education, technology, robotics, and financial services. The region is also becoming a hub for oil and natural gas companies' Marcellus Shaleproduction.[14] The city has redeveloped abandoned industrial sites with new housing, shopping and offices, such as the Waterfront and the SouthSide Works. While Pittsburgh faced economic troubles in the 1980s as the steel industry waned, modern Pittsburgh is economically strong. The housing market is relatively stable despite a national subprime mortgage crisis, and Pittsburgh added jobs in 2008 even as the national economy entered a significant jobs recession. This positive economic trend is in contrast to the 1980s, when Pittsburgh lost its manufacturing base in steel and electronics, and corporate jobs in the oil, electronics), chemical  and defense ) industries. The city is also headquarters to major global financial institutions.
Major publications often note Pittsburgh's high livability compared to other American cities. Most recently, in 2010, Forbes andYahoo! both listed Pittsburgh as the most livable city in the United States.  A lovely city. Next - the Andy Warhol Museum.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

On the Road - Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on the Susquehana River

Sunset, Susquehana River, July 26, 2010

Sunset, Susquehana River

Market Street Bridge

The Walnut Street footbridge over the  Susquehana River 
to City Island, Harrisburg, PA
Photos by Brooklyn Beat/TN

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

More Brooklyn Daze: Let the Zappolla Special Shine a Light on Me

When I was a kid in Windsor Terrace, there was a candy store on 10th avenue between Prospect Avenue and 17th Street. It was a little place, with racks for comic books and newspapers, plus a wooden rack featuring boxes of candy-by-the-piece for a penny or a nickel: Bazooka bubble gum; Mary Janes; Licorice in various shapes; tiny wax soda bottles with sugary liquid; coconut-, and peanut-, and chocolate-flavored goodies and the like.

The shop was relatively small, but big enough to include a small soda fountain/luncheonette counter with stools, and a juke box. One of the wonders of the place was the “Zappolla Special.” This was a summer treat, and one of the most refreshing beverages imaginable. I never asked but I assume its origins are from the customer who requested it for the first time: 
Zappolla Special
In a large soda fountain glass add–
• 2 generous scoops of lemon ice (preferably the quality Italian kind lost in the shrouds
of memory that has actual lemon seeds in it);
• Add seltzer (from a soda fountain or siphon-seltzer bottle, must not be club soda
from a 2 liter plastic bottle)
• Stir vigorously for 10 seconds with a long-handled fountain spoon.

That’s it ! But on a hot summer day in the 1960s and I guess early 70s, it was unimaginably thirst-quenching, like the lemonade at the British club that Peter O’Toole as Lawrence of Arabia and his Arabian aide-de-camp down in seconds (over the objections of the other British officers) after returning from their desert travels following the victory at the Battle of Aqaba, where the Arab revolt, aided by the British, drove the Turks out of the Jordanian port city.

As it happens, we stopped by the delicious NYC ICY on Church Avenue last night and I had a combo pear and lemon sorbet which was delicious and I also tasted the mango basil which was out of sight, and how can you not love Uncle Louie G’s gel-ring flavor, among many others. But, the Zappolla Special, still, in its way, reigns supreme, since, as always, the depths of time boil the experience down to its essential pleasures so that everything else falls away ---flavor, aroma, texture, temperature--- and you are only left with the memory of the pleasure of your enjoyment...

And, as a kid, how could you not find infinite amusement in a place that featured a sign reading:  "Y.C.H.J.C.Y.A.Q.F.T.J.B. – 25 cents.” ?  Stepping in out of the heat, pointing to the sign, the unwitting customer would be asked to proffer his or her quarter first, at which point they were informed that “Your Curiosity Has Just Cost You A Quarter For The Juke Box.”

At that point, you would have no choice other than to sit down on one of the revolving stools, toss another quarter on the counter, and enjoy your Zappolla Special, while listening to Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky” or the Beach Boys’ “Do You Wanna Dance” on your quarter. 

Ahhh, speak memory..

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Me Feeling Fire: NYC's Hot, Hot, Hot Summer Heads Toward Record

"If it feels hotter than it’s ever been in New York, that’s because it is, reports Bloomberg media:

"New York’s Central Park is heading toward its warmest July on record after two heat waves this month, the National Weather Service reported. Extreme heat pushes aging power systems to their limits, increasing the odds of breakdown, according to grid monitors.
“The grid system was built a long time ago, and the population has increased dramatically across this part of the country, and energy demand has gone up accordingly,” said Jim Rouiller, a senior energy meteorologist at Planalytics Inc. in Berwyn, Pennsylvania. “July may not be the top, but it is going to be in the top five, and this is over 130 years worth of observation, so it is outstanding heat.. The system generally works, said Apt, who is also professor of technology at Mellon’s Tepper School of Business and its school of Engineering and Public Policy.

“The chances of it not working are very small, and even on a hot day they are very, very small,” he said. “But they are slightly higher on a hot day with lots of demand than they would be on an April day where it is nice and cool with the windows open.”

A heat advisory was issued for New York City today, where the temperature in Central Park was 90 at 3 p.m. after three straight days above 90, according to the weather service. The definition of a heat wave is three consecutive days with temperatures of 90 degrees or higher.
“We have been well above normal for the month,” said David Wally, also a meteorologist in the Upton office. “We will have above-normal temperatures through the week.”

The water authority set a record for usage of 500,000 gallons per minute when temperatures reached into the 100s two weeks ago, said Chairman James Gaughran.   “Which is huge,” Gaughran said. “There seems to be a psychology to water your lawn more when it gets hot outside."

Details here

The New Normal -- Outtake from Cartoonist Tom Toles in the Washington Post

(c) 2010 Washington Post Company

From the Washington Post/blog here

Monday, July 19, 2010

Step Right Up (Before it's too late): Tom Waits Muses from the Gone World

The 200th issue of British music magazine MOJO has been on the stands for a few weeks now, and it is a classic. It is the July issue and the MOJO Website is already featuring the August issue, so better move fast.  To celebrate the mag's 200th issue, Tom Waits was invited to guest edit the issue which he does with style and grace. His interview with Hank Williams III, his music picks and faves, and other wry and interesting  comments and musings, along with dispatching Joe Henry to interview legend Harry Belafonte, make really interesting and fun reading.

And, if that isn't enough, Tom has programmed the audio CD,which is a regular and delightful feature of MOJO magazine. Tom's picks on this exclusive CD include some amazing roots classics -- Son House ("John the Revelator"), Big Mama Thornton, Ray Charles, Cliff Edwards, The Prisonaires, Hank Ballard and the Midnighters,  Tennessee Ernie Ford ("Sixteen Tons"), William Seward Burroughs, Jr. (performing a classic rendition, auf Deutsch, of "Falling in Love Again"), Paul Robeson, among others, and last but not least, even personally ringing up the artist to arrange for inclusion of Bob Dylan's "I Was Young When I Left Home."  The CD alone, in all of its roots and rock glory, personally selected by Tom Waits, is worth the cover price. Get it before it's gone, gone, gone.

                                                    Thomas Alan "Tom" Waits

Tom Waits web here

Mojo here

--Brooklyn Beat

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Henri Matisse as Radical Inventor @ MoMA


The Piano Lesson 1916

On Sunday, The Museum of Modern Art will open what appears to be one of the extraordinary shows of the summer: “Matisse: Radical Invention, 1913-1917.” The exhibit focuses on a tumultous and extraordinarily dynamic and fertile period in the career of Henri Matisse, 1913-1917. The exhibit, curated by John Elderfield, chief curator emeritus of painting and sculpture at MoMA and Stephanie D’Alessandro, Gary C. and Frances Comer curator of modern art at The Art Institute of Chicago, features more than 110 of his works, and is closely intertwined with the upheavels brought about during those years by the start of World War I and the early years of surrealism.

Much has been made, in the NY Times and other publications, on the exhibit's use of recent art-history research and scientific/technological investigations to explore the evolution and development of the artist's work. X-ray and laser analysis lead to discussions of the artist's use of brush handles and palette knives to scape away paint, revealing complex colors below.

At a preview on Friday morning, I was drawn to the color and complexity of his work, but more the continued pressing forward of experimentation with materials and technique.

From MoMA: "In the time between Henri Matisse's (1869–1954) return from Morocco in 1913 and his departure for Nice in 1917, the artist produced some of the most demanding, experimental, and enigmatic works of his career—paintings that are abstracted and rigorously purged of descriptive detail, geometric and sharply composed, and dominated by shades of black and gray. Works from this period have typically been treated as unrelated to one another, as an aberration within the artist's development, or as a response to Cubism or World War I. Matisse: Radical Invention, 1913–1917 moves beyond the surface of these paintings to examine their physical production and the essential context of Matisse's studio practice. Through this shift of focus, the exhibition reveals deep connections among these works and demonstrates their critical role in the artist's development at this time. Matisse himself acknowledged near the end of his life the significance of this period when he identified two works—Bathers by a River (1909–10, 1913, 1916–17) and The Moroccans (1915–16)—as among his most "pivotal." The importance of this moment resides not only in the formal qualities of the paintings but also in the physical nature of the pictures, each bearing the history of its manufacture. The exhibition includes approximately 120 paintings, sculptures, drawings, and prints, primarily from the years of 1913–17, in the first sustained examination devoted to the work of this important period.

The technological analysis has its place in art history, but despite all of that, Radical Invention is a  complex, demanding, and  enriching show, exposing the patient viewer to colors, techniques and forms at a pivotal time in the development of modern art, and the development of an artist. Matisse as radical inventor and art explorer at this time, for whatever the reasons, clearly seems to rush quickly beyond the reach of any well-meaning efforts to track the painterly techniques that he used much less apply analysis. After awhile, the explanation of the paint scraping, the repriming and repainting, all seem to be a wan effort to understand an artist confronting himself and his expression during a complicated era. Ultimately, the artistic explosion leaves the art historians in the dust. For this viewer, it seems we can only look on as the artist takes risks and pushes ahead in an effort to give expresion to the workings of his eye and mind, and absorb this progress with joy.

MoMA here (note: timed tickets required).

--Brooklyn Beat

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Joyeux Quatorze Juillet

Bastille Day is the French national holiday which is celebrated on 14 July each year. In France, it is formally called La Fête Nationale (National Celebration) and commonly le quatorze juillet (the fourteenth of July). It commemorates the 1790 Fête de la Fédération, held on the first anniversary of the storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789; the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille fortress-prison was seen as a symbol of the uprising of the modern nation, and of the reconciliation of all the French inside the constitutional monarchy which preceded the First Republic, during the French Revolution. Festivities are held on the morning of 14 July, on the Champs-Élysées avenue in Paris in front of the President of the Republic. More here

Mid Summer, Clinton and State: July 13, 4:30 PM

Photo by Brooklyn Beat/TN

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Roots Film A Music Video @ Brooklyn Borough Hall

Fresh off their Celebrate Brooklyn performance this past weekend, celebrating the World Cup games in South Africa in "OkayAfrica" with Talib Kweli and others, as well as their new album, How I Got Over, in stores now, The Roots film a music video on the steps of Brooklyn Borough Hall. The Roots are also in the studio working with John Legend.  The Roots, and Brooklyn, so cool.
--Brooklyn Beat

Around noon - July 13, 2010
Photos by Brooklyn Beat/TN

NY Times Analyzes Stop and Frisk as a Crime-Fighting Tool

A New York Times interactive graphic and accompanying article by reporters Ray Rivera, Al Baker and Janet Roberts explores the effects and impact of the controversial but growing use of stop, frisk and question by the NYC Police Department as a crime fighting tool. The interactive map which provides statistics on violent crime, provides detailed information on stops, frisks, whether force was used, and resulting arrests, as well as the race/ethnicity of the individuals stopped for questioning by the police. This is the type of complex and frankly "arresting" story, with best-of-intentions laced with moral ambiguity on all sides that makes the NY Times the great American newspaper.

The NY Times interactive map is here.

Excerpt from the NY TIMES article: “…a former professional basketball player who runs the Brownsville Recreation Center, said the rising tide of stops had left many who wanted a strong police presence here feeling conflicted.

“Do we welcome the police?” he said, “Of course I do. Ninety-nine percent of the people in the area do. But they also fear the police because you can get stopped at any time.”

New York is among several major cities across the country that rely heavily on the stop-and-frisk tactic, but few cities, according to law enforcement experts, employ it with such intensity. In 2002, the police citywide documented 97,000 of these stops; last year, the department registered a record: 580,000.

There are, to be sure, plenty of reasons for the police to be out in force in this section of Brooklyn, and plenty of reasons for residents to want them there. Murders, shootings and drug dealing have historically made this one of the worst crime corridors in the city.

But now, in an era of lower crime rates, both in this part of Brooklyn and across the city, questions are swirling over what is emerging as a central tool in the crime fight, one intended to give officers the power to engage anyone they reasonably suspect has committed a crime or is about to.

Full NY Times article here.

Monday, July 12, 2010

From Off the Streets of Cleveland: R.I.P., Harvey Pekar, An "American Splendor"

Harvey Pekar

Comic book writer Harvey Pekar, whose "American Splendor'' was made into a 2003 film (starring
Paul Giamatti), was found dead in his home early Monday, authorities said. He was 70.

Paul Giamatti and Harvey Pekar

AP reports: Officers were called to Pekar's suburban home by his wife about 1 a.m., Cleveland Heights police Capt. Michael Cannon said. His body was found between a bed and dresser.

Pekar had been suffering from prostate cancer, asthma, high blood pressure and depression, according to Cannon. Pekar had gone to bed about 4:30 p.m. Sunday in good spirits, his wife told police.

An autopsy was planned, said Powell Caesar, a spokesman for the Cuyahoga County coroner's office in Cleveland. He had no information on the cause of death.

Pekar's "American Splendor'' comics, which he began publishing in 1976, chronicle his grousing about work, money and the monotony of life. His quirky commentary developed a cult following and his insights and humor were often a bit on the dark side.

In 2003, the New York Film Critics Circle honored "American Splendor'' as best first film for the directing-writing team of Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini. Part feature and part documentary, with animated elements added, the film starred Giamatti as the disgruntled Pekar. Pekar told The Associated Press in a 1997 interview that he was determined to keep writing his "American Splendor'' series.

"There's no end in sight for me. I want to continue to do it,'' Pekar said. "It's a continuing autobiography, a life's work.''

More here and here  .

Wishes & Dreams at the New Museum

Eu desejo o seu desejo / I Wish Your Wish (2003) is installed in the lobby gallery as part of the exhibition "Rivane Neuenschwander: A Day Like Any Other". Visitors are invited to select ribbons printed with a wish to tie around their wrists. When the ribbon falls off, tradition has it that one's wish will be fulfilled. Visitors may write another wish and place it in the empty hole. This work of art is based on a similar practice that takes place at the church of Nosso Senhor do Bonfim (Our Lord of the Good End) in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil

You can participate in the "I Wish Your Wish" online here
Also, a forensic artist can draw a portrait based on your description of your "First Love." You can particpate online here

Through September 19.

Brion Gysin introduced William S. Burroughs, Jr. to the "Cut Up" Method. Brion Gysin, born John Clifford Brian Gysin, 19 January 1916, Taplow, England, Died July 13, 1986 (aged 70), Paris, France . Gysin was
a painter, writer, poet, and performance artist. With Ian Somerville he invented the Dreamachine, a flicker device designed as an art object to be viewed with the eyes closed. It was in painting, however, that Gysin devoted his greatest efforts, creating calligraphic works inspired by Japanese and Arabic scripts. Burroughs later stated that "Brion Gysin was the only man I ever respected." Although the "Dream Machine" exhibit feautres many of Gysin's paintings and drawings, works produced by the  "cut up" method -- and by extension, William S. Burroughs-- loom large here.

In a 1966 interview by Conrad Knickerbocker for The Paris Review, William S. Burroughs explained that Brion Gysin was, to his knowledge, "the first to create cut-ups":

INTERVIEWER: How did you become interested in the cut-up technique? BURROUGHS: A friend, Brion Gysin, an American poet and painter, who has lived in Europe for thirty years, was, as far as I know, the first to create cut-ups. His cut-up poem, Minutes to Go, was broadcast by the BBC and later published in a pamphlet. I was in Paris in the summer of 1960; this was after the publication there of Naked Lunch. I became interested in the possibilities of this technique, and I began experimenting myself. Of course, when you think of it, The Waste Land was the first great cut-up collage, and Tristan Tzara had done a bit along the same lines. Dos Passos used the same idea in 'The Camera Eye' sequences in USA. I felt I had been working toward the same goal; thus it was a major revelation to me when I actually saw it being done.

The exhibit also includes films, such as Antony Balch's notable 1963 film Towers Open Fire, and, 1966, The Cut Ups which use the cut up method (and feature a brief clip of street signs from Clark and Hicks Streets, circa early 1960s).

The exhibit also features a working model of Gysin's and Somerville's Dream Machine. The full experience of The Dream Machine is gained kneeling on a cushion in a darkened room, staring with closed eyes, 5"-8" from the device. After a few moments, you may begin to experience some eyelid patterns based on the movement of the device and the light source. To get a flavor of the Dream Machine, check this link

More on Gysin here. Through October 3.

The New Museum. 223 Bowery, at Prince Street, New York, NY

Saturday, July 10, 2010

A Narrows Escape

A long post-prandial Friday walk on a hot summer day along the Narrows, from Caeser's Bay to the Verrazano. Preceded by a fabulous sandwich lunch at the legendary Royal Crown bakery's restaurant. We strolled along the Verrazano Narrows, finally  reaching the bridge, our goal.  We sat for awhile on the grass in the shade of the bridge, enjoying the breezes, watching the flight path of airplanes in the distance coming in from the Atlantic, crossing over the bridge, on their way to JFK airport.
Enjoying a vacation day, ordinary yet out-of- the-ordinary, in Brooklyn, USA. 

Photos   by Brooklyn Beat/TN

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Hot Enough to....

The Times City Room threw caution to the wind and tried to fry an egg on the sidewalk.  I have to give the reporter Andy Newman credit for venturing outside on a day when only Mad Dogs, Englishmen, and the kebab and felafel carts venture out. While the experiment resulted in some lightly cooked tuna, the eggs proved less than satisfactory. Based on our extensive Google research, the Library of Congress reports that, yes, it is theoretically (damn their eyes - there is that word again) possible to cook an egg on the sidewalk, but it is unlikely that the sidewalk would get hot enough.

LoC reports: An egg needs a temperature of 158°F to become firm. In order to cook, proteins in the egg must denature (modify), then coagulate, and that won’t happen until the temperature rises enough to start and maintain the process.

The City Room was on the right track using a frying pan, since metal is a better conductor of heat than just plopping the egg on the concrete. But wo-be-tide to we New Yorkers should it ever approach that chilling temperature. But standing around trying to fry an egg  at 103 degrees Fahrenheit just ain't gonna cut it.

Once, when our kids were younger, I amused them on a long car ride home from upstate by making nachos: melting little bits of cheese on Doritos using the car cigarette lighter. Now that's entertainment!  (My Better Half was suitably unimpressed.)

Interesting that the heat always seems to bring out the frying-an-egg-on-the-sidewalk gambit, but there appears to be no widescale effort to commercialize on solar cookery in New York City. It seems like it would be much easier (and more fun) for backyard cooking than lugging those 40 pound propane tanks to run the gas grille. When I was in elementary school, a science and engineering nut, bakelight eyeglass frames, pocket protector and all, I built a solar oven for a science project that managed to produce a moderately good melted cheese sandwich (although my intention, unfortunately, was grilled cheese.)  But solar cooking kits are on the market place, and no doubt would cook an egg (and probably bacon) very effectively on a 103 degree NYC afternoon.

More on the LoC research here

More on solar cookery here

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Frida Kahlo de Rivera: July 6, 1907 – July 13, 1954

Marxism Will Give Health to the Sick - Frida Kahlo. 1954.

Frida Kahlo de Rivera (July 6, 1907 – July 13, 1954; born Magdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo y Calderón) was a Mexican painter, born in Coyoacán. Kahlo painted "pain and passion" using intense, vibrant colors. Her style "close to folk art" was influenced among others by indigenous cultures of Mexico, European Realism, Symbolism, and Surrealism. Many of her works are self-portraits. Kahlo was married to Mexican muralist Diego Rivera.

More on Kahlo here

Self Portrait, Frida Kahlo

Monday, July 5, 2010

My New York times--- 4th of July @ the Hudson RIver

A flotilla of small craft made their way south on the Hudson. From our vantage point, the red tailights of no doubt irritated motorists backed up far beyond what the eye could see on the West Side Highway. The 4th of July fireworks had shifted from East to west, and we, happily, received an invitation to a gathering on the upper west side where we could see the sparkling displays from a 23rd floor rooftop  overlooking Riverside Drive. It was 90+ on the street, but the breezes at rooftop overlooking the Hudson River were positively refreshing. It is summer in NYC so we had the rare luxury of finding a spot right in front of our host's building. After the fireworks, the flotilla of small boats made their way northward, safety lights blinking. Sally the Dog scarfed up someone's red velvet cake. The humidity returned to the penthouse level, while(somewhat) cool breezes had made their way back down to the street. With the middle holiday of the season done, it was clearly Summer in New  York City.

Photos by Brooklyn Beat/TN

Current Reading

  • Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid that Sparked the Civil War- Tony Horwitz
  • A Sultan in Palermo - Tariq Ali
  • Hitch-22: A Memoir - Christopher Hitchens
  • Negropedia- Patrice Evans
  • Dead Funny: Humor in Nazi Germany - Rudolph Herzog
  • Exile on Main Street - Robert Greenfield
  • Among the Truthers - A Journey Among America's Growing Conspiracist Underworld - Jonathan Kay
  • Paradise Lost - John Milton
  • What Is Your Dangerous Idea? Thinking the Unthinkable - John Brockman
  • Notes from the Edge Times - Daniel Pinchbeck
  • Fringe-ology: How I Can't Explain Away the Unexplainable- Steve Volk
  • Un Juif pour l'exemple (translated as A Jew Must Die )- Jacques Cheesex
  • The God Delusion - Richard Dawkins
  • Pale King - David Foster Wallce
  • David Bowie: Starman bio - Paul Trynka
  • Tobacco Stained Mountain Goat - Andrez Bergen
  • The Future of Nostalgia -Svetlana Boym
  • Living in the End Times - Slavoj ZIzek
  • FIrst as Tragedy Next as Farce - Slavoj Zizek
  • How to Survive a Robot Uprising - Daniel Wilson
  • Where is My Jet Pack? -Daniel Wilson
  • Day of the Oprichniks - Vladimir Sorokin
  • Ice Trilogy - Vladimir Sorokin
  • First Civilizations
  • Oscar Wilde -Andre Maurois
  • The Beats - Harvey Pekar, et al
  • SDS - Harvey Pekar, et al
  • The Unfinished Animal - Theodore Roszak
  • Friends of Eddy Coyle
  • Brooklands -Emily Barton
  • Abraham Lincoln - Vampire Hunter - Seth Grahme-Smith - Entertaining and historical
  • Dictionary of the Khazars - Pavic
  • Sloth-Gilbert Hernandez
  • War and Peace- Leo Tolstoy
  • Charles Addams: An Evilution
  • Life in Ancient Greece
  • Time - Eva Hoffmann
  • Violence - S. Zizek
  • Luba - a graphic novel by Gilbert Hernandez
  • Life in Ancient Egypt
  • Great Apes - Will Self - riveting and disturbing
  • Lost Honor of Katherina Blum - Heinrich Boll - could not put it down
  • Yellow Back Radio Brokedown - Ishmael Reed (author deserving of new wide readership)
  • Living in Ancient Mesopotomia
  • Landscape in Concrete - Jakov Lind - surreal
  • 'There Once Lived A Woman Who Tried To Kill Her Neighbor's Baby'-Ludmilla Petrushevskaya - creepy stories - translation feels literarily "thin"
  • Mythologies - William Butler Yeats (re-read again & again)
  • How German Is It ? - Walter Abish
  • The Book of Genesis - illustrated by R. Crumb - visionary
  • "Flags" - an illustrated encyclopedia - wish I could remember all of these. Flag culture
  • Sirens of Titan - Kurt Vonnegut
  • Ubik - Philip K. Dick
  • Nobody's Fool - Richard Russo
  • Hitler's Empire - Mark Mazower
  • Nazi Culture - various authors
  • Master Plan: Himmler 's Scholars and the Holocaust - Heather Pringle
  • Eichmann in Jerusalem - Hannah Arendt
  • Living in Ancient Rome
  • Traveling with Herodotus -R. Kapuszynsky
  • Oblivion - David Foster Wallace - Some of his greatest work
  • Infinite Jest - David Foster Wallace - still wrestling with this great book
  • Netherland - Joseph O'Neill - staggeringly great read
  • Renegade - The Obama Campaign - Richard Wolffe
  • Mount Analogue - Rene Daumal
  • John Brown
  • Anathem - Neal Stephenson - love Stephenson but tough slogging first few chapters
  • 7 Deadly Sins
  • ALEX COX - Alex Cox
  • FIASCO by Thomas Ricks
  • I, Fellini - Charlotte Chandler & Federico Fellini
  • Best of 20th century alternative history fiction
  • Judah P. Benjamin - Eli Evans - Confederacy's Secretary of State & source of the W.C. Field's exclamation
  • Moscow 2042 - Vladimir Voinovich - Pre-1989 curiosity & entertaining sci fi read; love his portrayal of Solzhenitsyn-like character
  • Gomorrah - Roberto Saviano - Mafia without the It-Am sugar coating. Brutal & disturbing
  • The Sack of Rome - Celebrity+Media+Money=Silvio Berlusconi - Alexander Stille
  • Reporting - David Remnick - terrific journalism
  • Fassbinder
  • Indignation - Philip Roth
  • Rome
  • Let's Go Italy! 2008
  • Italian Phrases for Dummies
  • How to Pack
  • Violence - Slavoj Zizek
  • Dali: Painting & Film
  • The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight - Jimmy Breslin
  • The Good Rat - Jimmy Breslin
  • Spook Country - William Gibson
  • A Blue Hand - The Beats in India - Deborah Baker
  • The Metaphysical Club - Louis Menard
  • Coast of Utopia - Tom Stoppard
  • Physics of the Impossible - Dr. Michio Kaku
  • Managing the Unexpected - Weick & Sutcliffe
  • Wait Til The Midnight Hour - Writings on Black Power
  • Yellow Back Radio Brokedown - Ishmael Reed
  • Burning Down the Masters' House - Jayson Blair
  • Howl - Allen Ginsberg
  • Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut
  • The Palace Thief - Ethan Canin
  • John Adams - David McCullough
  • The Wooden Sea - Jonathan Carroll
  • American Gangster - Mark Jacobson
  • Return of the King - J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Gawker Guide to Becoming King of All Media
  • Jews and Power - Ruth Wisse
  • Youth Without Youth - Mircea Eliade
  • A Team of Rivals - Doris Goodwin
  • Ghost Hunters -William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death - Deborah Blum
  • Dream -Re-Imagining Progressive Politics in an Age of Fantasy - Stephen Duncombe
  • Love & Theft - Eric Lott
  • Exit Ghost - Philip Roth
  • Studio A - The Bob Dylan Reader

Current Listening

  • Alexi Murdoch Wait
  • Wilco Summer Teeth
  • Wilco The Album
  • Carmina Burana - Ray Manzarek (& Michael Riesmann)
  • Polyrock - Polyrock
  • 96 Tears - Garland Jeffries
  • Ghost of a Chance Garland Jeffries
  • Yellow Magic Orchestra
  • Mustang Sally Buddy Guy
  • John Lee Hooker
  • Black and White Years
  • Together Through Life - B. Dylan
  • 100 Days 100 Nites - Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings
  • DYLAN: 3 disc Greatest...
  • Glassworks - Philip Glass
  • Wild Palms - Soundtrack -Ryuichi Sakamoto
  • Dinah Washington - Best of..
  • Commander Cody& His Lost Planet Airmen Live at Armadillo