Music at the MetLife Building

December 14, 2006

Originally known as the PamAm Building, the 58-story MetLife Building is adjacent to Grand Central Terminal. During the holiday season, the building hosts a series of free concerts by high schools from the surrounding region.

I was passing through the lobby today when this group, which was visiting the city from Connecticut’s Stamford High School, began a performance that included songs about Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwaanza.

The Stamford High School choir Posted by Picasa

Part of the orchestra Posted by Picasa

The string section Posted by Picasa

Singers Posted by Picasa

Strings players Posted by Picasa

Two members of the choir Posted by Picasa

Harmonizing Posted by Picasa

The violinists Posted by Picasa

A singer Posted by Picasa

Two players Posted by Picasa

A singer Posted by Picasa

Stamford High School
The MetLife Building
Wikipedia: The MetLife Building

The Gift of Music

December 14, 2006

This afternoon, on my way to catch the 1 train, I ducked into the Duane Reade drugstore at the corner of Broadway and 50th Street to buy a roll of tape.

As I stepped through the entrance, I nearly tripped over a man who was fiddling with wires leading to a large speaker on the floor. The man adjusted the connection, shifted the speaker and a clear, high voice surged through.

Going inside, I couldn’t fail to notice the vivacious woman in bright red who stood beside a folding table covered with stacks of CDs. As I moved closer, the woman smiled brightly and told me that she was there to promote her new Christmas recording; her name was Lyza Wilson and she was the singer whose voice I was hearing.

I left the store with two of her CDs. It wasn’t until I was on the subway heading downtown that I realized that I’d completely forgotten the task that led me to the drugstore: I still didn’t have any tape.

But I had something better; I’d received the gift of music — all the better because it came at such an unexpected time from such an unlikely place. And although she was singing in a drugstore instead of a theatre, this afternoon Lyza Wilson truly was a star on Broadway.

Lyza Wilson holding her recordings Posted by Picasa

Lyza Wilson
Duane Reade

Blood Diamond

December 4, 2006

New York is filled with famous, glamorous people leading exciting, glittering lives. I’m not one of them. However, on rare occasions, I manage to find myself in their midst. This evening was one of those times.

Tonight Marie Claire magazine held a cocktail reception and screening of the new adventure film “Blood Diamond.” The screening was followed by a discussion featuring Brooklyn native and star Jennifer Connelly, director/producer Edward Zwick and the magazine’s editor in chief, Joanna Coles.

The event ended when the star was reminded that she had to leave; she was due at a taping of the Conan O’Brien show. As the attendees went out into the cold December night, we were given copies of the January issue of Marie Claire featuring Jennifer Connelly on the cover.

Producer Marshall Herskovitz, Jennifer Connelly, Joanna Coles, Edward Zwick, Publisher Susan Plagemann  Posted by Picasa

Jennifer Connelly with Marie Claire cover  Posted by Picasa

Blood Diamond
The New Yorker: Review of Blood Diamond
Amnesty Magazine: Blood Diamonds
The Kimberley Process
Marie Claire
Conan O’Brien

The Independent and Small Press Book Fair

December 3, 2006

This weekend the Small Press Center, a non-profit educational organization for independent publishers, sponsored its 19th annual Independent and Small Press Book Fair.

A program of the General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen of the City of New York, the Small Press Center serves those “driven primarily by a desire to publish what interests them, what they believe in” regardless of whether or not large publishing houses consider it commercially feasible.

The Small Press Center is housed in a landmark Victorian structure at 20 West 44th Street in Manhattan. Built in 1893, it was designed by architects Hugh Lamb and Charles Alonzo Rich to house the Berkley School (at the time, a private school for boys). The General Society moved here in 1899 and designated its central space, a three-story, skylight-topped expanse, as the main reading room for their members’ library.

The library was the site of the Book Fair, with most of the 100 or so publishers in attendance exhibiting their wares in the main reading room or on the surrounding balconies. In addition to the books, the Book Fair included readings, talks and panel discussions with authors, editors, illustrators and publishers.

Author Emily Jenkins Posted by Picasa

Illustrator Tomek Bogacki Posted by Picasa

Poet/TV personality Ira Joe Fisher Posted by Picasa

Literary anti-hero Amiri Baraka Posted by Picasa

Author Colin Channer Posted by Picasa

Graffiti artist Savager Posted by Picasa

Graffiti artist Erni Posted by Picasa

Graffiti artist Smith Posted by Picasa

Graffiti artist Lady Pink Posted by Picasa

Small Press Center
Book Fair Schedule of Events
Emily Jenkins
Tomek Bogacki
Colin Channer
Amiri Baraka
Smith and Lady Pink
General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen
The General Society Library
Lamb and Rich Architecture

The Rink and the Ring

December 2, 2006

At this time of year I’m always of two minds regarding midtown Manhattan: I’m anxious to see the fabulous, elaborate holiday decorations but I also want to stay far away from the hectic, bustling crowds that overflow the shops and stores and make the sidewalks impassable.

This evening I was in midtown, only a few blocks from Rockefeller Center, when I decided to take a short detour and get a quick look at its legendary massive Christmas tree (currently an 88-foot tall Norway spruce from western Connecticut) and fabled ice skating rink.

I slowly waded through the masses in the Channel Gardens that lead from Fifth Avenue to the holiday display, snapped a few photos of the tree, and moved forward towards the skating rink. Despite the patient, smiling security guards, the throng around the railing was at least 12 deep and many were trying to push and plead their way to the front (“We came all the way from India for this!” “We flew here from Texas just to see the ice rink!” “Please let my sick little boy through to see the skaters!”).

I extricated myself from the crush and started to walk towards the subways when I saw a spot, right near the elevator, where relatively few people stood. I headed there and squeezed in between a large family from Connecticut, another from Russia and an excited group from Italy.

As I leaned towards the railing to take some photos, the surrounding crowd jostled me and I concentrated more on keeping my balance than watching the action on the ice. When I looked up, I noticed an attractive young couple standing stock still in the middle of the ice. I took a couple of shots of them, a few more photos of the crowd in the rink, and left.

When I got home and looked through the images I’d taken, I realized what I’d inadvertently captured. Since they say that a picture is worth a thousand words, I’ll let the photos (sorry for the poor quality) tell the story of the boy with the blond hair, the girl with the pink scarf, the rink and the ring.

The 88 foot tall tree at Rockefeller Center  Posted by Picasa

Looking onto the skating rink Posted by Picasa

The ice is crowded Posted by Picasa

A couple skates to the center of the rink Posted by Picasa

He drops down on one knee Posted by Picasa

The clinch; looks like she said “yes” Posted by Picasa

He presents the ring Posted by Picasa

They don’t even notice the gathering spectators Posted by Picasa

They skate off as the crowd applauds Posted by Picasa

The Rink at Rockefeller Center
Rockefeller Center
WNBC’s Tree-Cam

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