Arlo Sings in the Castle

July 30, 2009

One of America’s best-loved folk musicians, Brooklyn-born Arlo Guthrie is the son of legendary songwriter Woody Guthrie. Tonight he performed at Castle Clinton in Lower Manhattan, part of the tribute to the 40th anniversary to the Woodstock Festival.

Arlo’s humorous and heartfelt singing delighted the overflow crowd which he regaled with tales and tunes about the 50 or so years he has spent onstage. His stories, which punctuated the evening, touched on everything from his boyhood in Coney Island to appearing onstage at Woodstock to a brief gig acting on a television series called The Byrds of Paradise to his upcoming 40th wedding anniversary.

He played guitar, piano and harmonica and performed his own songs as well as those written by people he has known and loved: Pete Seeger, Leadbelly, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, and of course, his father. The highlight of the evening was the last scheduled number, when the assembled audience joined him in signing what is arguably Woody Guthrie’s best-known song, This Land is Your Land.

Arlo performed alone onstage

He played harmonica, guitar and piano

The songs included old favorites and rarities

The capacity crowd was standing-room-only

After the sun set, the audience sang along

Arlo Guthrie: Last of the Brooklyn Cowboys
River to River Festival: Arlo Guthrie
Rising Son Records
The Official Arlo Guthrie Web site

It’s a Family Affair

July 16, 2009

Tonight in Castle Clinton, all the way down at the southernmost tip of Manhattan, Steven Bernstein’s Millennial Territory Orchestra performed a tribute to the music of Sly and the Family Stone. The concert, part of the annual River-to-River Festival, was a dubbed “It’s A Family Affair” — the title of one of the biggest hits by Sly and the Family Stone (it reached #1 on both the Billboard Pop and R&B charts).

The musicians who crowded the stage included a lineup of seasoned performers, all of them clearly fans of the the legendary band described by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as “Rock’s first integrated, multi-gender band, funky Pied Pipers to the Woodstock Generation, synthesizing rock, soul, R&B, funk and psychedelia into danceable, message-laden, high-energy music.”

The members of the Millennial Territory Orchesta were accompanied by keyboardist Bernie Worrell from Funkadelic, guitar player Vernon Reid from Living Colour and vocalists Martha Wainwright, Sandra Saint Victor, Shilpa Ray and Dean Bowman, who joyously evoked the spirit of Woodstock as they took the audience “Higher and Higher.”

Sandra Saint Victor and Steve Bernstein

Shilpa Ray

Vernon Reid

Martha Wainwright

Bernie Worrell

Dean Bowman

Steven Bernstein

The Millennial Territory Orchestra
Sly and the Family Stone
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Sly and the Family Stone
Steven Bernstein
MySpace: Vernon Reid
Living Colour
Martha Wainwright
Bernie Worrell
Sandra Saint Victor
Shilpa Ray
MySpace: Dean Bowman
River to River Festival
Castle Clinton National Monument

Oooh, a movie star!

July 14, 2009

Movies and television shows are shot on the streets of New York City nearly every day and most residents take them in stride, barely giving the equipment and workers a second glance. Generally, New Yorkers’ attitude towards the actors and crews who live and work here is that they are simply part of the scenery. Many of those in the entertainment industry say that one of the things they enjoy about Brooklyn is our indifference (whether genuine or feigned) to the stars in our midst.

That’s why I suspect that most of the group that gathered outside the movie trailers parked near the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge were from out of town. At least, I hope so. The overwhelmingly female crowd arrived on Cranberry Street armed with cameras, sunglasses and water bottles and stood for hours in the blazing sun, hoping to catch a glimpse of Robert Pattinson, one of the stars of the film being shot here today.

Some were, to put it mildly, obsessed with Pattinson, the actor who stars in the Twilight films.  One rather average-looking woman confessed to me that she travels the country and follows him around. Scary stuff, I think, but I guess it explains why the set was crawling with security agents and bodyguards. No one can predict when an adoring fan is going to turn into another Mark David Chapman.

Fortunately, despite the flurry of frenzy, the shoot was completed without incident. By the time the sun went down, the equipment was packed up, the actors were spirited away, the sunburnt crowd dispersed and Brooklyn Heights was restored to a quiet neighborhood of tidy brownstones.

Signs were posted to alert the neighborhood

Fans gathered at a trailer on Cranberry Street

They were all equipped with cameras

Some climbed light poles for a better view

They didn’t notice Roger Moore being filmed on the next block

The former 007 was able to work in peace

Twilight The Movie
Mark David Chapman

Bastille Day in Brooklyn

July 12, 2009

What started as a simple Brooklyn block party has grown into the biggest Bastille Day celebration in the U.S., featuring French food, drink, games and music. Today, several blocks of Smith Street were closed to traffic so South Brooklyn could again celebrate the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille.

Once traffic was stopped and vehicles moved, the street was filled with tons of sand. Wooden beams were arranged on the sand, dividing it into courts for the petanque (bowling) tournament. Banners were hung, music played, and bars, tables and chairs were set out for spectators. At the corner of Atlantic Avenue, platforms and ramps were erected for a skateboarding exhibition.

Local bars and restaurants erected tents where they could sell food and drink, corporate sponsors brought piles of pens, hats and sunglasses to give away, and a replica guillotine — including a bloody blade — was placed in the center of the street. The party began at 11:00 a.m. and officially ended at 10:00, although stragglers (and those who’d sampled a bit too much pastis) lingered far longer in the night while visions of Marseilles danced in their heads.

Vive la République! Vive la France!

Smith Street honored Bastille Day

There were ramps and platforms for the skateboard exhibition

Skateboarders showed their best moves

The street was covered in sand and divided into petanque courts

Eighty teams competed in the petanque tournament

Who doesn’t love a sport that can be played while smoking?

Local restaurants sold food under tents (this is Coco Roco)

A restaurant made pizza in the street

Outside bar at Bar Tabac

The replica guillotine featured a bloody blade

Brooklyn Eagle: Bastille Day Comes To Smith Street
Ricard Pastis

Where Every Night is New Year’s Eve

July 6, 2009

While most of us have watched the Times Square New Year’s Eve celebrations on television, joining the festivities in person can be daunting. Those who manage to attend must pass through extensive security checkpoints, stand in the cold for hours, tolerate being crushed in an enormous crowd and having no access to public restrooms.

Fortunately, there is another way to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Times Square. In fact, you can join the festivities anytime, even in the middle of summer.

A series of mosaics entitled The Revelers was installed in the Times Square subway station in 2007. Created by Jane Dickson, the work is installed in several busy underground passages. It portrays 70 life-size partygoers boisterously welcoming in the New Year with hats, noisemakers and confetti.

They make it possible to join Times Square’s New Year’s Eve festivities every day — and night — of the year.

Celebrating with the kids


Revelers meet in a corner

Kicking up their heels

Holding the baby aloft

Dressed in blue and red

A hug to bring in the year

With open arms

A kiss for luck

Tooting a horn

Arm in arm

In a green coat

Holding a hat and noisemaker

In a fancy hat and high heels

Blowing into a noisemaker

Holding a child’s hand


In a red hat

Jumping for joy

In a miniskirt

With a real kid

On piggyback

Pace University: Professor Dickson’s ‘Revelers” Bring Party Underground
Harvard Magazine: Underground Party
Frequently Asked Questions about New Year’s Eve in Times Square

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