Building Sand Castles by the Sea

July 28, 2007

Today was Coney Island’s 17th Annual Sand Sculpting Contest and the weather was perfect. The competition, which lasted all afternoon, was open to children, adults and groups of all ages and skill levels.

The City Parks Department trucked in 50 mounds of sand, Astella Development Corporation provided cash prizes to the winners (top prize was $200) and dozens of beach-loving, suncreen-wearing New Yorkers participated.

Enthusiastic entrants created castles, creatures, monsters, mermaids, images of Coney Island itself … even a construction site belching smoke on the beach right next to the fabled Boardwalk.

Sand Sculpting Contest
Sand Sculpting Contest banner

Underdog & creator

Finishing the sleeping mermaid

Curled up next to her tail, the sleeping mermaid’s mer-cat

Construction site

“Construction workers” at the site (please note the smoke)

Coney Island castle

King Neptune

Two sand sculptors with their creation

Sand sculptures along the Boardwalk


Man in the sand

Banner on trashcans

Sea creatures

Eagle over USA


Little entrant shows off her creation

Clown holding flowers

Bay News: Fairy tales still thrive in Coney Island
NY1: Sand Sculptors Compete
Astella Development Corporation
New York City Department of Parks & Recreation

Orange Fridays

July 27, 2007

The urgent color of orange — the color that has been assigned to those detained and tortured with no due process — must become the color of a gathering sentiment to end the Bush regime and reverse its program.

Flyer distributed at Orange Fridays rally

Union Square Park is the site of countless protests and demonstrations. This evening I stumbled across a particularly colorful one: a coalition of anti-war, anti-administration activists holding the first rally of their “Declare it Now: Wear Orange” campaign.

Supporters of the group called The World Can’t Wait/Drive Out the Bush Regime vowed to wear orange every Friday to show opposition to Bush’s policies. They are calling for “impeachment, resignation or indictment.” The protesters plan to meet every week in Union Square at 5:00 p.m. and hope to make Orange Fridays a nationwide movement.

Please note: this political movement should not be confused with the Orange Fridays promotion sponsored by the San Francisco Giants baseball team.

Distributing flyers
Distributing flyers

Protesting with papa

Parading through the park
Parading through the park

Veteran protester
Veteran protester

Drumming up attention

Adjusting the microphone
Adjusting the microphone

Blindfolded singer

Torture + Silence = Complicity
Banner on the stage

Buying badges

Selling orange t-shirts and bandanas

All oranged-up

Buying an orange shirt

“I’ve been doing this all my life,” she said.

The World Can’t Wait
San Francisco Giants: ‘Orange Fridays’

Guitar Guys Friday

July 27, 2007

Thanks to the River to River Festival, this was “Guitar Guys Friday.” Three of the buskers who usually perform in the subways as part of the Transit Authority’s Arts for Transit: Music Under New York program were invited to come above ground and play in the heart of the financial district.

They appeared under a green awning in the space formerly known as Liberty Plaza Park. Unlike most New York City parks, which are owned by the city, this square block on Lower Broadway between Liberty and Cedar Streets is owned by a private real estate company, Brookfield Properties.

The park was destroyed on September 11, 2001 and when it finally re-opened last summer (yes, the park was closed and hidden behind tall fences for nearly five years), the name had been changed to Zuccotti Park to honor John Zuccotti, the U.S. Chairman of Brookfield Properties.

The space is popular with lunchtime crowds, who munched while listening to local guitar heroes Delfin Tardio, who describes his reggae-tinged music as “electric meditation” and Heth and Jed, who call their rock-based sound “Pink Floyd meets the wall.”

Delfin Tardio playing in Zuccotti Park

Delfin Tardio

Heth & Jed in Zuccotti Park

Heth playing the guitar


Jed on his blue guitar


♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦

By the way, just to give you a bit of historical perspective, here is a photo of the park on September 11, 2001. I didn’t take it; this image was shot by photojournalist Jeff Mermelstein.

Liberty Plaza Park 9/11 by Jeff Mermelstein
Liberty Plaza Park on 9/11 by Jeff Mermelstein

Heth and Jed
MySpace: Heth & Jed
River to River Festival: Guitar Guys
MTA’s Arts for Transit “Music Under New York” program
New York Times: Jeff Mermelstein
Lower Manhattan: Zuccotti Park
Project Rebirth: Liberty Park Plaza
Cooper Robertson: Liberty Park Plaza
Brookfield Properties

Whose Broads Stripes

July 27, 2007

One of the most imposing buildings on Wall Street, Federal Hall was the original home of the United States Congress, Supreme Court, and Executive Branch offices. It was here that George Washington first took the oath of office.

Today, while Wall Streeters despaired over a slump in the stock market, the steps of the Federal Hall were the site of Lawrence Goldhuber’s Whose Broads Stripes.

No signs, announcements or explanations preceded the performance, so the tourists who crowded around the building, snapping each other’s photos, were shocked when guitarist Geoff Gersh launched into Jimi Hendrix’s Star Spangled Banner and two showgirls dressed in red and white sequined gowns began to dance with feathered fans.

After a few minutes of shimmying in the sunlight, they went back up the steps and held aloft protest signs. The music changed to a recording of Pink Floyd’s Money, the dancers dropped the signs, descended and flung phoney $50 bills into the air. 

As the audience dove to grab the funny money, the glamour girls seemed to notice a middle-aged businessman sitting on the steps with the rest of the lunchtime crowd. They pulled the laughingly protesting man to his feet, and he awkwardly, gamely attempted to join them in their dance.

Then, suddenly, they covered him with their fans. From behind the feathers, the man’s jacket flew into the air. Then his tie. And then … when the women lowered the fluffy white fans, the stuffy businessman was gone, replaced by a dancing, strutting superhero.

Geoff Gersh
Geoff Gersh in front of Federal Hall

Geoff Gersh
Geoff Gersh & his guitar

The showgirls appear

Dancing on the steps

Displaying signs asking for peace and love

Throwing fake $50 bills to the crowd

Spotting a businessman beneath the statue of Washington

The businessman awkwardly joins in the dance

They hide the businessman behind their fans

He emerges as a superhero

The superhero & showgirls shake & shimmy together

The end!

Lawrence Goldhuber/BIGMANARTS
Geoff Gersh
Lower Manhattan Cultural Council: Sitelines
River to River Festival
Pink Floyd
Jimi Hendrix
Federal Hall National Memorial

Broadway in Bryant Park

July 26, 2007

Now in its sixth year, Broadway in Bryant Park is a series of Thursday lunchtime performances held in the park behind the main branch of the New York Public Library. Cast members from leading Broadway musicals usually perform two or three songs from each show.

Today the audience saw “showstopping” numbers from four hits: Monty Python’s Spamalot, The Lion King, Curtains and Xanadu. No costumes, no makeup, few props, just a stage full of some of the best singing and dancing in the world, all for free.

Lewis Cleale & Marin Mazzie from Monty Python’s Spamalot

Lewis Cleale & Marin Mazzie sing The Song That Goes Like This from Monty Python’s Spamalot

Lion King
Cornelius Jones Jr. from The Lion King

Lion King
Sophia N. Stephens & Cornelius Jones Jr. sing Can You Feel The Love Tonight from The Lion King

Michael McCormick sings What Kind of Man? from Curtains

Debra Monk sings It’s a Business from Curtains

Kerry Butler & Curtis Holbrook from Xanadu

Jackie Hoffman and Mary Testa sing Witchy Woman from Xanadu

Broadway in Bryant Park audience
The audience in Bryant Park

New York 106.7 FM: Broadway in Bryant Park
Bryant Park: Broadway in Bryant Park
Monty Python’s Spamalot
The Lion King
Bryant Park

The Doc Pomus Project

July 21, 2007

Celebrate Brooklyn is a summer performing arts festival held at the Bandshell in Prospect Park. Tonight the festival featured Hal Willner’s Doc Pomus Project, a tribute to the words and music of the late songwriter.

Doc Pomus was the pen name of Brooklyn native Jerome Felder, who created some of the greatest sounds of the 1950s and 1960s. His songs have been recorded by many stars including Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Led Zeppelin, Jerry Garcia and Ray Charles.

While his name isn’t a household word, Pomus is a legend in the music industry. The evening was organized by music producer Hal Willner and featured Ben E. King, Laurie Anderson, Sharon Jones, Lou Reed, Eric Mingus, Shannon McNally, Jenni Muldaur, Howard Tate, Joel Dorn, Peter Guralnick and more of Pomus’s friends and associates.

The singers relished the chance to present their favorite Pomus numbers: There Must Be a Better World Somewhere was sung by Lou Reed, Hushabye by Shannon McNally, Teenager in Love by Jenni Muldaur, Turn Me Loose by Sharon Jones, Lonely Avenue by Howard Tate, Viva Las Vegas by Joseph Arthur and This Magic Moment by Ben E. King.

In addition to the music, the Project included moments of humor, sweetness and pathos. Pomus contracted polio as a child and afterward depended upon leg braces and crutches. Laurie Anderson read his moving account of the girls who rejected him as a teenaged “cripple” and how the effects of the disease tormented him for the rest of his life.

Despite his personal pain, Doc Pomus was responsible for some of the best and most influential pop songs ever written. His honors include the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Rhythm and Blues Foundation’s Pioneer Award.

Hal Willner
Hal Willner

Lou Reed
Lou Reed

Sharon Jones

Peter Guralnick at Doc Pomus Project
Peter Guralnick

Shannon McNally

Ben E. King


Joseph Arthur
Joseph Arthur

Laurie Anderson
Laurie Anderson

Howard Tate
Howard Tate

Joel Dorn


Kenny Wollesen
Kenny Wollesen

Jenni Muldaur

Eric Mingus

Robin Holcomb at Doc Pomus Project
Robin Holcomb

Ben E. King & Jenni Muldaur
Ben E. King & Jenni Muldaur

Viva Las Vegas
The Finale: Viva Las Vegas

Celebrate Brooklyn
Celebrate Brooklyn Schedule
Doc Pomus
Songwriters Hall of Fame: Doc Pomus
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Doc Pomus
Rhythm & Blues Foundation: Pioneer Award Honorees
Wikipedia: Hal Wilner
Lou Reed
Laurie Anderson
Shannon McNally
Jenni Muldaur
DapTone Records: Sharon Jones
Howard Tate
Eric Mingus
Robin Holcomb
Joseph Arthur
The Ben E. King Stand By Me Foundation
Mocean Worker
Joel Dorn
Wikipedia: Peter Guralnick
Raoul Felder (brother)

Signs of Brooklyn Food Shops

July 19, 2007

Anyone, anywhere can hang a bland, boring factory-made sign on the front of a store. Ho-hum.

That mundane method of advertising might work in some towns, but around here, many shop owners pride themselves on their creative signage, using images that convey the very essence of their business’s identity.

Not only do these shop owners employ unusual signs, they don’t bother to hang them; instead they plant their signposts right in the middle of the sidewalk. Here are a few of the signs currently adorning the pavements in front of some of Brooklyn’s favorite food shops.

Terrace Bagels
Terrace Bagels
224 Prospect Park West

Esposito's Pork Store
Esposito’s Pork Store
357 Court Street

Clemen's Taco and Burrito Place
Clemen’s Taco and Burrito Place
252 Prospect Park West

NY Times: Dry-Cured Sausages: Kissed by Air, Never by Fire
NY Magazine: G. Esposito and Sons Pork Store
NY Magazine: Terrace Bagels Café
NY Magazine: Clemen’s Taco and Burrito Place

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