Saturday, December 17
Friday, December 16
This year’s NBA lockout, overlapping briefly with that of the NFL brought to light the fact that the inherent differences between ordinary US citizens and professional athletes, exists not only in natural ability but also in compensation for said ability.
The lockout originated when NBA owners stopped work after the expiration of the existing collective bargaining agreement established in order to avoid a lockout in 2005. The existing agreement granted the players 57% of all basketball-related income, it also included new age minimums for rookies (resulting in many top high-school athletes to attend college for a single year in order to continue playing until they were eligible for the NBA draft). The 2005 agreement was scheduled to expire on June 30, 2011, at which time having been unable to reach an agreement with players, the NBA owners ceased work.
The major issue driving owners to such an agreement stemmed from the enormous financial discrepancy between large and small market teams. Last season alone, the NBA reports that 22 of 30 teams lost money, amounting to a grand total of $300 million lost in a single season. As the owners sought to recompense those loses, they attempted to reduce the percent of income granted to players universally. The players refused to concede their salaries. This created the major sticking point in negotiations causing the NBA to cancel almost half of this season’s games.
The owners desired to so-called level the playing field by imposing a salary cap, reducing the overall spending potential of large-market teams namely those in New York, Los Angeles, Miami and Chicago. They also sought to create a 50-50% split between players and owners for all basketball-related income.
Michael Jordan, famous as one of the greatest basketball players the NBA has ever seen, and present owner of the Charlotte Bobcats lead NBA owners in demanding money from players' salaries.
Players immediately balked at such a suggestion. Their refusal to accept any deal granting them less than 51% of said income caused negotiations to drag out over months, with the NBA canceling the entire preseason, then the first half of November, then all of November. Negotiations remained stagnant until Thanksgiving weekend at which point a tentative agreement was reached granting the players as much as 51% of basketball-related income and as little as 49$, entirely based on performance.
While the players argued they were the league’s primary attraction, they seemed to neglect the role played by owners in league management and their enormous losses seemed irrelevant, establishing the question, when did they forget that they were at their core, entertainers?
According to the EPA, the Superfund is “the Federal Government’s program to clean up the nation’s uncontrolled hazardous waste sites.”
Newtown Creek has long been rated by the EPA as one of the most polluted waters in the United States. Due to its convenient location, it has been utilized long before the 19th century as a major thoroughfare for industry in and around Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan. However, lacking any natural waterflow – meaning that the water entering the stream has no natural paths of egress, creating within it an enormous backlog of filth stemming from general pollution due to water traffic as well as from the unregulated dumping of hazardous materials before any sort of organization existed for such regulation.
The Creek’s geographical location made it an obvious place for industry to establish itself several centuries ago, and to this day it remains as such. In 1870, Newtown Creek counted over 50 petroleum-processing plants along its banks while currently the Long Island Railroad maintains a freight line along the northern bank of the creek, while a liquid natural gas port is under construction along the south bank.
However the greatest source of pollution to the creek to this day came from the Greenpoint Oil Spill – one of the largest oil spills recorded in the history of the United States. According to Riverkeepers, the organization advocating clean-ups along all of New York’s waterways, the spill took places slowly yet consistently over the past century, in which between 17 and 30 million gallons of oil seeped from the ExxonMobile refinery along the creek across 50 acres of undeveloped land.
The spill itself wasn’t discovered until 1978 when a helicopter patrol discovered a massive plume of oil “flowing out of the banks of the creek” according to Riverkeepers. It was then that researchers discovered the full extent of the spill. And with the nature of the creek as lacking of any natural waterflow, the toxic sludge has seeped into the Creek, permeating the surrounding area with such a degree of filth that the very water is in a constant visible state of pollution.
However that is all hopefully about to change. According to the EPA, in 2010 $443 million was spent of appropriated funds to clean up currently existing Superfund sites, and their stated goal is to continue to raise that number in the future. With the new Superfund site, Newtown Creek can begin to expect substantial sums of money being spent on its renewal efforts.
Wednesday, December 14
Portions of the exhibition were dedicated to certain artists and celebrities that Beaton was heavily influenced by or associated with, including Spanish artist Salvador Dali and his wife, Gala. Other portions were dedicated to Marilyn Monroe and Truman Capote.
During World War II, Beaton was given the task to of recording images from the home front. The image of Eileen Dunne, a 3 year-old Blitz victim, clutching her teddy bear as she recovered in a hospital landed Beaton the title of an established and prominent photographer.
(All images were taken by me, except for the September 23, 1940 Life magazine cover, courtesy of LIFE.com and the Mick Jagger photograph, courtesy of Conde Nast)
Throughout his career, Cecil Beaton did it all. He photographed for Vogue and Life, drew apparel illustrations, designed costumes for My Fair Lady and Gigi, built theatrical sets for Tenderloin and Coco, and mingled with glamorous celebrities including Katherine Hepburn and Elsie de Wolfe. At the same time, the British taste-maker made an impact in the art, design, fashion, film, photography, and even the celebrity worlds. Beaton story was rarely spoken of, but the Museum of the City of New York finally broke that silence.
Entitled Cecil Beaton: The New York Years, the exhibition walks us through Beaton's 40 years in New York City. Beginning with a quick overview by Donald Albrecht, MCNY's curator of architecture and design and then leads to a series of illustrations. Varying from charcoal, gouache, ink, and watercolor, the illustrations of models and celebrities including Katherine Hepburn and Greta Garbo reveal Beaton's interest in high society.
"Beaton has a snobbish obsession with class and status," Albrecht said to the New York Times.
But Beaton's glossy photographs are probably better referred to as he had a tendency to only capture images of the rich and famous including Salvador and Gala Dali and Marilyn Monroe, with many of them gracing the covers and pages of Vogue, Vanity Fair, and Life. Yet, possibly the most well-known image Beaton captured had nothing to do with fashion or high society.
In a glass case near the back of the gallery, a vintage issue of Life displays an image of a young girl with her head bandaged, clutching her teddy bear as she recovers in a hospital. During World War II, Beaton was given the task of recording images from the home front and the image of Eileen Dunne landed him the title of prominent photographer.
But, the Big Apple continued to offer Beaton more opportunities. He decided to dive into the design world, creating costumes and sets for Broadway shows including Lady Windermere's Fan and My Fair Lady. Colored sketches are pinned against the wall behind a set of dresses including a red silk costume worn by Charles Anthony as Pong in the 1961 opera, Turandot.
Ending with even more photographs including Truman Capote, Andy Warhol, and Mick Jagger, Cecil Beaton: The New York Years may seem to show how obsessed Beaton was with glamour, but Beaton himself was glamorous.
The block itself is random, across the street is a large Family Dollar store and a block down is a KFC, otherwise there is a church with a misspelled Alcoholics Anonymous sign constantly out front, a tae kwon do/zumba dance studio and some busted-sign bodegas.
However, on the corner of Myrtle and Willoughby Avenues sits Little Skips. The artwork both inside and outside is provided (and for sale) by Abel Macias, a half-Mexican artist from Atlanta. Abel painted the bunnies along the outside over a year ago and feels it’s time to touch them up again. Typical with his minimal, borderline cryptic responses was, “I just like painting bunnies” when asked why he felt the furry creatures were a suitable exterior decoration for the café.
Inside the café has dark wood floors and an assortment of tables and chairs. There are several of Abel’s art pieces on the walls, a series of faces on one side and across from it is a two-part painting titled “Blue Bull”.
The menu itself is influenced by Thatch’s Asian heritage. The sandwiches are all interesting combinations of ingredients, such as the Norwegian, which is an open facing sandwich with smoked salmon on toasted wheat bread with goat cheese, spinach, red onion, avocado, tomatoes and lemon vinaigrette.
Thatch had originally wanted to have a café/bar type environment where people could get “large frothy beers and pretty cocktails”, however after complications with licenses and costs, the liquor permit was never acquired and instead they focus on their espresso drinks.
“I wanted a place with something for everyone that was eco-conscious and environmentally friendly,” Thatch says about her Skips inspiration, “we got as many recycled materials as we could, the wood had a previous life, the paper was mostly recycled, I didn’t want straws…[not being green] is no longer an option in my opinion.”
Little Skips is constantly busy, providing a work and study space for many local students as well as the quality only coffee shop in the area. Opened in 2009, skips has added employees, branching beyond Thatch’s immediate group of friends and continues to exist as a Bushwick neighborhood staple.
The New York City Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting doesn’t want to make any money. On their website, the only item that has any sort of cost to it is a NYC Filming Permit, which carries a rather low price of $300 considering the array of features and benefits the city of New York heaps upon filmmakers.
The office’s major selling point is their “Made in NY” incentive program in which film and television productions are given a variety of assistance in various forms. The program offers productions potential exemption from New York City and State tax requirements. It also provides a discount card with an encompassing range of included vendors including hotels, airlines, car rentals and banking services. Additionally, if a production completes %75 of their filming within New York City, the city agency provides free minor marketing exposure, mostly in the form of bus-stop posters and the like.
Not only does the agency provide banking services to New York Film and Television productions, it also offers a concierge service which assists with every conceivable aspect of filming, or as their website states, “expanded service supports the entire production cycle.” The described features include, “story development and tie-ins to NYC agencies, scouting assistance and budget analysis, locations access to premium sites…assistance with global premieres and launches. Basically if you’re willing to shoot in New York City, The Mayor’s Office will do everything necessary to make that happen from – going off of their own list of benefits – financing the piece, writing and casting it through story development support and the ties to NYC agencies, provide discounted living accommodations, and then help launch the film world-wide.
All such services, however, come at a price. In August 2010, New York State passed an item its budget renewing the money allocated to supporting state tax breaks for films. The number decided upon was $2.1 billion dollars over five years, or $420 million a year. This vote closely followed several ongoing film and television productions decision to leave New York City due to uncertainty with New York tax credits. The greatest example of this move was the Fox television show Fringe who moved to Vancouver suddenly after filming their first season in NYC.
While the copy on the Mayor’s Office’s website may sound like it’s begging people to shoot in New York, there are legitimate reasons for such a push. Productions customarily spread money around the Neighborhoods they film in. In 2010, the film Premium Rush with Joseph Gordon-Levitt shot on the Upper West Side and Columbia Pictures donated $7,500 to the neighborhood, which they stated they would used to hire more workers to pick up trash. In an interview with a Manhattan local news source, DNA Info, Gina Liu – a location scout and assistant set manager for Disney, Warner Brothers and Columbia Pictures – said Disney gave out $5,000 in donations to neighborhood groups in Chinatown when they filmed Sorcerer’s Apprentice in 2009.
When Premium Rush filmed at Columbia University, the institution did not ask for a donation, but rather requested that the production hire several student filmmakers to work as production assistants. And so while the measurable benefits to location film shoots in New York are minor but better than nothing, the immeasurable benefits – such as city exposure, positive portrayals and the general sense that everything does indeed happen in New York – are great enough that New York continues to apply energy and resources to keep film productions coming to the city.
|Patrick McMullan's “So 80s Studio 54”|
|Cover Image from McMullan's book|
|Andy Warhol and Patrick McMullan|
|PMc Magazine February 2011 Issue|
|Patrick McMullan and His Photographs|