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‘Casablanca’ piano auctioned for $600,000, less than expected – UPI.com

December 19, 2012 Leave a comment

This screenshot shows Sydney Greenstreet and H...

NEW YORK, Dec. 15 (UPI) — A piano briefly seen in 1942’s “Casablanca” sold at auction for $602,500, about half of the highest estimates for the item, New York’s Sotheby’s said.

The winning bidder, whose name was not reported, bid $500,000 on the item Friday, though commissions added $102,000 to the total, The New York Times reported. Sotheby’s had estimated the piano would sell for between $800,000 and $1.2 million.

The piano was one of two used in “Casablanca,” and was small, with 58 keys, 30 fewer than a conventional piano.

It was used in a flashback scene at a Paris cafe named “La Belle Aurore.” The piano was on camera for 1 minute and 10 seconds, and actor Dooley Wilson, who played Sam in the classic film, mimicked playing it while singing in the film, the Times reported.

Sotheby’s last auctioned the piano in 1988 for $155,000, the second-highest price for Hollywood memorabilia at the time, the newspaper said.

via ‘Casablanca’ piano auctioned for $600,000, less than expected – UPI.com.

The 12/12/12 Concert For Sandy Relief Rocked. But Where Were The Women? – Forbes

December 16, 2012 Leave a comment

English: Alicia Keys in South Africa for the F...

When the line-up for last night’s concert at Madison Square Garden for Sandy relief was announced, it was not surprising to see the usual crowd-pleasing suspects among the performers: Billy Joel, the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi.

What was surprising was that among the initial list of performers was one woman’s name: Alicia Keys. I expected to see more as additional musicians were added to the schedule.

But none was. When the concert took place last night, the stage was occupied almost exclusively by white male singers and instrumentalists, all of whom donated their time to the Robin Hood Foundation, all of whom deserve our thanks. This is not about them, not about the people whose presence raised, according to various reports, $30 million in ticket sales alone. It’s not about the people who were there.

It’s about the people who weren’t.

The evening, billed as the “12/12/12 concert,” placed special emphasis on the date, and in 2012, it’s difficult to imagine that a major, hours-long musical event was staged with a single female headliner, and with few people of color. It’s even more startling given the concert’s location and purpose. It doesn’t seem too much expect that the concert would have–and should have—reflected the diversity of New York City and of the people affected by the storm.

via The 12/12/12 Concert For Sandy Relief Rocked. But Where Were The Women? – Forbes.

NY, NJ ponder new boardwalks without the boards – Yahoo! News

December 12, 2012 Leave a comment

SEASIDE HEIGHTS, N.J. AP — They’re the places where generations of families savored fast-melting ice cream cones and chowed down on garlicky slices of pizza, where teens scoped out potential dates, where a tipsy Snooki tottered unsteadily, and under which the Drifters sang about falling in love.

For all their nostalgia, boardwalks are still a major economic engine for shoreline communities in New Jersey and New York. Tourists and residents alike spend their money on food and drinks there, or on games of skee ball or balloon darts to win a stuffed animal. So weeks after Superstorm Sandy, towns are racing to rebuild their boardwalks by May, for reasons both sentimental and financial.

They will need the tourism money this summer more than ever as they try to rebuild homes and other infrastructure. The expensive efforts are forcing decisions not only about how much to spend, but also whether to rebuild with environmentally sensitive wood or more durable materials.

The destruction in Seaside Heights has become emblematic of the storm because of a roller coaster that plunged into the ocean. Yet Sandy also destroyed the boardwalk where families eat belly-busting foods like zeppoles — fried dough laden with powdered sugar — and where Snooki and company partied their way through the MTV reality show “Jersey Shore.

Mayor Bill Akers said 75 percent of his town’s budget comes from tourism, with the remaining 25 percent raised from local taxpayers.

“You can see how important it is for us to get the boardwalk back up and running, and to make sure we have a summer season,” he said. “It’s something we have to get done.”

via NY, NJ ponder new boardwalks without the boards – Yahoo! News.

Elliott Carter: Innovative composer hailed as one of the greatest of the 20th century – Obituaries – News – The Independent

November 13, 2012 Leave a comment

Elliott Carter, who has died in New York at almost 104, could justly be described as the last of classical music‘s modern masters. Certainly he was the last whose musical ideals were formed by the radical modernism of the first three decades of the 20th century, and contact with some of its most innovatory figures. The earliest of these was that awesome American original Charles Ives, to whom Carter was introduced while still at school and who encouraged his early efforts. Another, encountered on Carter’s youthful forays into the Bohemian world of Greenwich Village was the dynamic futurist Edgard Varèse. Meanwhile, he caught up with recent works of Scriabin, Stravinsky, Schoenberg and Berg, in what was an exceptionally adventurous phase of New York’s cultural life in the 1920s.

These interests were not encouraged by his parents, who expected him to succeed to the family lace-importing business. When he revealed his ambition to become a serious professional composer, his father withdrew all but minimal support and refused ever to attend performances of his music. Possibly Carter’s youthful enthusiasm for the most aggressively modernist trends reflected his necessary rebellion. Yet, by his own testimony, he had at first little idea how to compose such music himself. Nor did he discover how from the conservative music department at Harvard, where he switched instead to English Literature – though he did profit from the chance to study briefly with Gustav Holst, who appeared as visiting professor in 1932.

via Elliott Carter: Innovative composer hailed as one of the greatest of the 20th century – Obituaries – News – The Independent.

Picasso fetches $41.5 million but Sotheby’s total falls short – Yahoo! News

November 10, 2012 Leave a comment

English: Looking northeast across York Avenue ...

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A 1932 Picasso portrait of his mistress sold for $41.5 million on Thursday at Sotheby’s, helping drive a $163 million total for its sale of Impressionist and modern art which nonetheless fell short of expectations.The auction featured nine works by Picasso led by “Nature morte aux tulipes.” Nearly one-third of the 67 lots on offer went unsold and the auction missed its $170 million low pre-sale estimate.

The two Picasso portraits of his iconic muse Marie-Therese Walter, “Nature morte” and “Femme a la Fenetre,” managed their pre-sale estimates, the latter fetching $17.2 million including commission.

The sale demonstrated “that in this market there continues to be a search for quality,” said Simon Shaw, Sotheby’s head of Impressionist and modern art in New York.

Shaw added there was “active participation from today’s truly global art market,” but in a nod to the spotty results, conceded “there remains some scrutiny over estimates.”

David Norman, Sotheby’s co-chairman of Impressionist and modern art, also cited “increasing participation from South American, Asian and Russian bidders” that marked the sale.

The auction, coming a day after a tepid affair at rival Christie’s which fell short of its $209 million low estimate, is likely to somewhat unsettle the art market to ahead of next week’s sales of post-war and contemporary art, an arena that has seen sharply escalating prices over the past decade.

The results of both sales were remarkably similar, from the prices of their top lots and percentage of works sold to buyers’ carefully controlled bidding.

via Picasso fetches $41.5 million but Sotheby’s total falls short – Yahoo! News.

Bubbledogs Mix Champagne With British Bangers in London – Bloomberg

October 14, 2012 Leave a comment

A bore at the next table in a Paris brasserie once ruined my dinner by insisting that I was wrong to accompany my food with Champagne, which was an aperitif.

This gastronomical gendarme was drunk, which might explain it.

I myself, sober though I was, wondered about the lineup of Champagne and hot dogs at the new London restaurant Bubbledogs.

Any doubts were misplaced. I’m more excited by Bubbledogs than any new London restaurant I’ve tried since Dabbous, where you can wait months for a table. The hot dogs are great, the Champagnes are varied and inexpensive, and the service is first- class.

To use a phrase I dislike, what’s not to like?

There’s a choice of about a dozen hot dogs, each of which is available as beef, pork or vegetarian. For the purist, there’s the Naked Dog, at 6 pounds ($9.75). The top price is 8 pounds for the BLT, which comes with caramelized lettuce and truffle mayo. There are no starters and no desserts.

(Crif Dogs, in New York, helped inspire Bubbledogs.)

Sides are restricted to tots (potato croquettes), sweet- potato fries and coleslaw. That’s it. I can’t think why anyone would want more choice in a hot-dog restaurant. If anything, I’d like things simpler: no sides and a single price.

Those who shrug that it’s hard to get hot dogs wrong should eat their words. Simplicity is complex: You might get away with a mistake in an elaborate fine-dining meal, but there is nowhere to hide with a sausage and a bread roll.

via Bubbledogs Mix Champagne With British Bangers in London – Bloomberg.

David Blaine’s Electrical Stunt Could Create Harmful Ozone – Yahoo! News

October 8, 2012 Leave a comment

Nederlands: David Blaine tijdens zijn stunt 'D...

Magicians hold details in high regard, so it’s fair to inquire about one of the key details related to stunt artist David Blaine’s feat that begins today at Pier 54 in New York City’s West Village: How will Blaine’s team handle all the excess ozone gas produced with each million-volt discharge from the Tesla coils?

For three days and nights, Blaine plans to stand atop a six-meter-tall pillar while Tesla coils, controlled by spectators, zap him with electricity. Paul Hoffman, chief executive of the Liberty Science Center, where Blaine is magician-in-residence, estimates one million volts will reach Blaine at any time. The Brooklyn-based endurance performer hopes to survive the Tesla coils—worth about $5 million and donated by software giant Intel–with a protective steel chain-mail suit and metal head cage, which will direct the flow of current around, not through him.

But as those electrical discharges zap the air, they will separate oxygen molecules, which can then rejoin as O3, or ozone, an unstable toxic gas. Ozone, with its fresh, tingling scent, is a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde fume. Up in the stratosphere, it protects Earth’s life by shielding harmful ultraviolet rays produced by the sun. On the ground, however, it’s smog that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates. Although an exact mathematical equation to determine the amount of ozone is hard to produce, atmospheric scientists agree that the magic show could potentially raise the ambient levels of ozone around the pier.

The concern of creating excess ozone is “extremely reasonable,” says Renyi Zhang, an atmospheric scientist at Texas A&M University. “ I saw the [promotional] photo and I thought, wow, he will create a lot of ozone.”

A team on the ground will measure ozone levels around Blaine. Those attending the event in New York will be able to stand about 9 meters away from the pillar, Hoffman says. The EPA recommends the public avoid concentrations of ozone up to 75 parts per million for longer than eight hours, because longer exposure can irritate a person’s airways and cause lung corrosion. During a test run in a Brooklyn warehouse, Hoffman says that “ozone built up, I could feel it. I have asthma, and my throat got irritated.” The team is counting on the breezy Hudson River setting to keep a healthy mix of fresh air around the event’s venue.

via David Blaine’s Electrical Stunt Could Create Harmful Ozone – Yahoo! News.

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