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In the evening of Friday, May 10, a 65-year-old woman was walking on W. 60th Street, when she saw a 36-year-old man walking close behind her. She crossed the street, and the man crossed with her. The man grabbed her handbag and ran. The victim chased the perpetrator while screaming for help, and the man dropped the purse and ran out of sight. As it happened, a 39-year-old man had witnessed the incident and said he had heard the victim screaming for help and saw a man run into a housing complex building holding the victim’s bag. Upon hearing the crime reported over the police radio, the arresting officer arrived at West 61st and Amsterdam Avenue and saw a man fitting the description enter the building. He canvassed the building and found the perpetrator on the 13th floor; he was positively identified by the witness and the victim. $250 in cash had been taken from the victim and was recovered. The perpetrator was arrested and charged with grand larceny.
On Monday, May 13, a chain electronics store on Broadway reported that on four occasions, an employee had allowed unknown accomplices to purchase store inventory with accounts that were not theirs. The total amount of products taken was $9,034.15. A 19-year-old woman was arrested May 13 and charged with grand larceny.
At 7 p.m. on Monday, May 13, a 32-year-old man put a gold Rolex Day Date II watch in his jacket pocket and put the jacket in his locker at a gym on Columbus Avenue. When he returned to his locker at 9:30 p.m., he found the watch was missing. The tempting timepiece was worth $30,000. Time to switch to a Timex?
Nashville star Jonathan Jackson will rock B.B. King’s
By Angela Barbuti
Jonathan Jackson recently landed another dream job. On ABC’s new series Nashville, he gets to combine two of his talents — acting and singing. “It’s a dream come true. I never thought a role like this would come along,” the thirty-one-year old said about playing country singer Avery Barkley. When we spoke, the fate of Nashville wasn’t yet known, but because of its compelling storyline and soundtrack, the show has been renewed for a second season. With five Daytime Emmy Awards for his role as Lucky on General Hospital, the film and TV veteran still makes time to perform with his band, Enation. This Indie Euro Folk Rock band comes to B.B. King’s in Times Square on June 13th, a show that Jackson promises will be an intimate experience.
Your band Enation is Indie Euro Folk Rock. How would you explain that genre to people who haven’t heard your music?
The folk aspect comes down to the approach to the lyrics and a certain amount of intimacy that we try to have in our music. And the rock part means that it gets kind of anthemic and big at times. I think Bruce Springsteen and U2 are artists that have a rock side, but also have a folk side to some of their music. We keep in that tradition — walking the line between intimacy and big, rock music.
What does your band name mean?
Enation is like a birthing, coming into existence. We liked the name because we thought it had a sense of movement and creativity. That is how we feel when we are making music.
You’re in the band with your brother. How long have you been playing together?
Richard and I have been playing music together since I was 11 or 12. A long time. When we formed Enation, that was probably eight years ago.
What do you expect the demographic to be at your B.B. King’s show?
It’s sort of a mixed group. Some people come out who are just fans of the music. Other people primarily know me from General Hospital or Nashville. I’ve been doing music long enough that most people who follow me also follow my music.
What can fans expect at your concert?
An awesome rock show that’s also going to have some more intimate music. We’re gonna play some of the songs that have been on Nashville. We like to spend time taking pictures with the fans and signing autographs. We love playing live and really rocking the house.
How did your role on Nashville come about?
Nashville was an audition I had in Los Angeles. They asked me to bring my guitar and play some songs, which was not the normal thing they usually do for an audition. It was such a great script that Callie Khouri wrote. I was very excited about the project and when I learned that T Bone Burnett was producing the music, I was even more excited. It’s been an amazing experience.
Besides the music aspect, what’s the difference between working on Nashville versus General Hospital?
Well General Hospital’s filming schedule is very different. You’re doing 20 to 30 pages of dialogue a day, but your hours are kind of short. You’re only there for five or six hours a day usually. On Nashville, you’re only doing 5 pages a day — so there’s a lot less memorizing. But you might be on set for 12 to 15 hours. So the hours are longer on Nashville, but the memorizing is more on General Hospital. They’re both kind of demanding in different ways.
You divide your time between living in L.A. and Nashville. Do people in Nashville come up to you about the show?
Yeah, it’s really amazing how the city has embraced the show. In a sense, they feel like the show is theirs because it’s representing their city. There’s a real fondness from the people here towards all of us on the show.
You were 11 when you started on General Hospital and went on to win five daytime Emmys. I read that you are open to the possibility of someday coming back to the show.
Well yeah, General Hospital is something I never close the door on cause it’s like a family to me.
What happened to Lucky?
I left the show originally in 1999 and was gone for 10 years doing films. When I came back, Lucky was a detective and had been through a lot. He was a drug addict, alcoholic, had some kids, was divorced. On soaps, everything’s very tumultuous and dramatic. I had 10 years of drama that Lucky had been through. And then, even when I was on the show this last time for a couple of years, he lost his son; his fiancé died. He’s such a fun character to play. Now, he’s just out of the country.
You met your wife on the set of General Hospital.
She was just coming onto the show when I was leaving, so we never really worked together. We didn’t really become friends until later, away from the show.
You have three children. Do they follow in your artistic footsteps?
Yeah, very much so. My son is nine and is always playing the piano and loves composition music. He’s being creating music like movie scores and has written a couple of books as well. My daughter — she’s seven — is a really awesome singer and has already written her own songs. I’ve written a couple of songs with her, so we’re probably going to perform around here sometime soon for fun.
You even wrote a book of poetry.
That one is called Book of Solace and Madness. It’s a series of books, that was the first part. I’ve already written the second part; I just don’t know when we’ll release it. I’ve also written an epic poem and my first novel.
Would you ever go back to doing films?
Yeah, films have always been something I’ve done over the years. Even was I was on General Hospital the first time, I did Camp Nowhere and The Deep End of the Ocean. I love film work and I’m sure they’ll be more opportunities to do some films as time goes on.
What are your future plans?
We’re waiting to see whether or not Nashville gets picked up for a second season. That will determine the near future. I’m working on some films as well; my brother and I write screenplays together. I’ll keep doing music with the band and maybe get some of the other book projects out there.
For tickets to Enation’s show at B.B. King’s, visit www.bbkingblues.com
Terrence Blanchard brings jazz to opera
By Valerie Gladstone
Terrence Blanchard takes big risks. Ever since his early years with drummer Art Blakeley’s legendary Jazz Messengers, the 51-year -old trumpeter has stepped out to try new things, winning five Grammy’s along the way, most recently for the heartrending song cycle A Tale of God’s Will (A Requiem for Katrina), the soundtrack for Spike Lee’s film When the Levees Broke. He wrote his next film score for Red Tails, the story of the Tuskegee pilots, following up with the music for the Broadway production of A Streetcar Named Desire in 2012. His first opera, Champion: an Opera in Jazz, based on the story of the gay boxing champion Emile Griffith, will have its premiere at Opera Theater of St. Louis June 15-30. “I learn something new each time I start an unfamiliar project,” he says on a recent call from Chicago. “A lot of reassessing and reevaluating goes on.”
Blanchard credits his years with Blakeley with giving him the confidence to lead such a musically adventurous life. He follows his mentor’s example in many ways. “Art never gave us direction,” he explains, “nor do I my musicians. It helped us develop – you make better music that way. You broaden the net.” For all his high-profile projects, he still likes nothing better than jamming with his group, which he will do at the Jazz Standard May 29-June 2. During the gig, he’ll be introducing tunes from his newest album, Magnetic, due out from Blue Note Records on May 28. Written by him and his musicians, the original numbers range from bop to electronic. As a convert to Buddhism, he says, “My music reflects my spirituality and beliefs. Whatever I’m dealing with in my life comes out in the music.”
By showing a willingness to change, adapt and grow, Blanchard developed the skills to write music for all kinds of works, though none have been more different nor more challenging than an opera. “I had to write for a range of voices rather than instruments,” he says, “and consider different registers and focus on melody.” But Emile Griffith’s story grabbed him emotionally, making it easier for him to write. Griffith was enjoying a successful career as a boxer when he unintentionally killed Benny Paret in the ring, ostensibly because Paret called him a derogatory word for gay. What especially got to Blanchard was Griffith saying later in life, “I kill a man and most people understand and forgive me. I love a man and to so many people this is an unforgiveable sin.” This kind of compassion and sense of humanity infuses Blanchard’s music and makes listening to him such a rich experience.
Terence Blanchard plays at Jazz Standard May 29 through June 2.
How Fast & Furious 6 crushes Iron Man 3
The cynicism that makes Iron Man 3 so lousy is defied by the good-time camaraderie of Fast & Furious 6. Dominic Toretto and Brian O’Connor (Vin Diesel and Paul Walker) are more likable than Robert Downey’s snarky Tony Stark and their friendship makes for greater drama and comedy than Stark’s joshing relationship with Rhodes (Don Cheadle). What’s finer is Fast & Furious 6’s sense of solidarity; Dom and O’Connor’s criminal-and-cop alliance avoids the Iron Man franchise’s juvenile brand of excitement, (that shrill blend of exaggerated violence and superheroism), to provide truly heroic lessons in skill, courage, unity and speed.
Both films use previously established characters and rituals to explicate 2013’s post-9/11 malaise, (it’s remarkable how the low pleasures of mere genre movies can answer the disappointment of a high-serious thriller like Zero Dark Thirty). But where Iron Man 3 offends lingering fear and doubt and misrepresents the commonweal, Fast & Furious 6 with its gang of outlaws, (including Sung Kang, Gal Gadot, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Michelle Rodriguez), joining federal agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) to capture a terrorist offers a metaphor for recognizable community mobilization.
The Iron Man movies cannot overcome their essential cartoonishness. They count on inherited comic book fans but the Fast and Furious franchise’s origin in kinetic filmmaking, (the first film’s beautiful nighttime chase scenes have not been surpassed), provide a more realistic, richer thrill. Fast & Furious 6 doesn’t resort to Iron Man 3’s pessimistic but basically meaningless conceit “We create our own demons.” Such comic-book derived sarcasm insults post-9/11 history.
That fake Bin Laden figure in Iron Man 3, (played by Ben Kingsley at his most amusing), favors a dubious political position on the war on terror — trivializing it — while also exploiting it. Yet Fast & Furious 6’s Julian Assange-like villain Ian Shaw, (played with suave ruthlessness by Jason Statham), updates and upgrades the post-9/11 moral quandary. In fact, Shaw’s threat is uncannily similar to Iron Man 3’s specious promise. Tony Stark’s billionaire intrepidness (like Batman) replaces a democratic ideal with aristocracy. (No wonder critics who hated the colorful class satire in Pain & Gain preferred Iron Man 3’s mediocre, class-denying sarcasm.) In this way Iron Man 3 turns patriotism into elitism — as in the scene where the empty-shirt President of the United States hangs in crucifix effigy wearing an Iron Man suit.
Fast & Furious 6 restores democracy to the people. Its working-class cast of heroes represents ethnic street variety — from Diesel’s bi-racial virility and Walker’s blonde/blue virility to their multi-culti male and female comrades. This accounts for the series’ ongoing popularity. Its can-do concept of heroism (“Show me how you drive, I show you who you are,” says Dom) beats superhero projection. The series has progressed from being an underground noir expressing urban conflicts to confronting international crisis in a homey way.
When Gadot, (as one of Dom and O’Connor’s expert driver-martial artists), boasts “This is what we do!” she improves on President Obama’s expedient “That’s not who we are.” Her assertion defines both the gang’s skills and loyalty. Dom puts a fine point on it: “It’s all about family.” His implicit soldierly patriotism gives the film significance beyond its genre. In a central role, Rodriguez plays her scenes truculently, dulling the effect of a loved one who loses memory yet bonds through instinct, but in this kind of movie, action is character, (as Walter Hill said), and director Justin Lin moves quickly between each character’s set-piece. Lin has achieved greater action skills, especially in the airplane/cars chase sequence juggling several climaxes at once. Too darkly lit, it should have been major and revelatory like the multivalent action scenes in Paul W.S. Anderson’s Death Race or Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin; instead it suffices as metaphor for democracy rallying against jumbo jet peril.
In Iron Man 3 the terrorist-villain maliciously teases “America, ready for another lesson?” That adolescent taunt conveys historical cynicism in the guise of entertainment; director Shane Black implies that America craves images of its own destruction. Fast & Furious 6 revels in action but it relishes feeling. Just like the Jesus piece Dom carries, a comrade lost-in-battle adds depth and historical resonance to this film’s creation of heroes, not demons. Not malicious in his 9/11 reference, Dom/Diesel in the slowed-down final scene prays “Bless our table.”
Follow Armond White on Twitter at 3xchair
Why won’t Linklater, Hawkes and Delpy shut up?
Following Before Sunrise (1995) and Before Sunset (2004), Before Midnight’s ongoing chronicle of an aging, talkative, narcissistic couple Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy (he’s author of two books This Time and That Time; she’s artistic) threatens to become the The Thin Man series for indie movie hipsters.
And that’s precisely the problem. Jesse (Hawke) and Celine (Delpy) are dramaturgically thin. Like any sequel, Before Midnight follows a formula: Jesse and Celine babble, flirt, babble, fight, babble and reunite. This time they jabber while vacationing in Greece which director Richard Linklater photographs like Hoboken, (not the Mediterranean jewel of Clare Peploe’s Greece in High Season), just to keep the bland franchise aesthetically consistent.
No doubt this talkathon appeals to indie geeks who haven’t realized that cinema is a visual medium; basing the series on dialogue allows its fans to utilize the screen simply as a vanity mirror. This verbal emphasis suggests that the script, (credited to Linklater and his actors), might well include improvisation. But is it the actors or the characters who think every thought in their heads must be uttered?
Hawkes and Delpy seem so natural in these roles that their characterizations stress behavior over action; self-involvement over interaction. The opening scene shows Jesse escorting his teenage son to a return flight back to America where he lives with his divorced mother. The possibility that Jesse will deal with the personal complications of parenthood continues when Celine arrives with their angelic twin daughters. His guilt and her self-sacrifice are promising. But the children and their obligations are soon shoved off-screen, leaving Jesse and Celine to imbibe egotism the way Nick and Nora Charles downed martinis.
The European locale doesn’t sharpen their sense of being in the cosmos because their world only extends as far as their noses. Jesse’s scraggy gruffness and Celine’s spreading rear-end displace any eroticism; what’s highlighted is the way these characters still embody all the liberal pieties, biases and affectations. Their constant boasting and self-flattery and philosophizing accurately reflect the utter banality of the half-educated—the essence of all Linklater’s films.
Before Midnight’s most profound observation isn’t a sense of mortality from approaching middle-age, (as suggested by the title), but a facile agnosticism. Celine accuses Jesse of being “a closet Christian” then behaves blasphemously in an ancient church. Existentialism is offered when an elderly woman mourns “We are important to some but we are just passing through.”
Later, Celine argues “There’s no one human state. The human state is multiple.” That’s really funny because Before Midnight, like Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, has but one mode: discursive self-infatuation. Only when the parenthood subject crops up later do Jesse and Celine focus their logorrhea. It gets personal and hurtful. Delpy throws herself into Diane Keatonesque emotional extremes while Hawkes’ exasperates to a draw. It’s what Noah Baumbach can’t do yet Linklater does nothing with it. He makes the mistake of referencing Roberto Rossellini’s marriage drama Voyage to Italy and even imitates the climactic sunset moment of Eric Rohmer’s Le Rayon Vert. This is hipster filmmaking at its most ignorant: Linklater, Delpy and Hawkes don‘t seem to realize that Rossellini and Rohmer’s masterpieces were about miracles, not mundane naturalism.
Follow Armond White on Twitter at 3xchair
Culture warp at the Met’s “Chaos to Culture” show
What punk? An extravaganza prefaced by a non-smelly replication of the club CBGB’s toilet, “Punk: Chaos to Couture” is the Metropolitan Museums of Art’s most recent nod to what used to be termed popular culture. Here, go directly to couture despite some mood-inducing references, in piped-in time-appropriate music and paraphernalia. On opening day there was none of the whiff of rubber either, promised by some promotional bits, though many looks of wonderment from a crowd who had missed it all, taking forbidden pictures — perhaps the only spontaneous expression of authority-challenging at hand.
The exhibit credits an admitted re-colonizer, Brit rock promoter Malcolm McLaren, for packaging punk, quoting him as saying he was first inspired by Richard Hell of the Voidoids when catching his act at CBGB’s on the lower east side at 315 Bowery. Taking home to England the look of spiky hair, sloganned and ripped T-shirts and of course attitude, he and then-inamorata Vivienne Westwood, now a high end designer, showcased and sold punk-inspired designs in their store Seditionaries at 430 King’s Road in London. The first room of this show’s seven is titled “A Tale of Two Cities.”
That’s pretty much it for the American side of things, with club-goers described as middle-class kids with dyed hair having a good time watching Blondie, the Ramones, and Patti Smith. The next room/gallery has a background T-shirt display in dim lighting to preserve the precious objects, from Seditionaries. For those who were enlivened by last year’s Alexander McQueen exhibit, which happened to also have been curated by Andrew Bolton, this exhibit’s chief organizer, you understand why Westwood and McLaren went for patched-together tartans, particularly in pants, though you have to make your own fill-in-the blank connection to the juxtaposed, more recent McQueen designs. It helps to remember McQueen’s comments that Scotland was historically raped by the Brits; thus the fabric tears and holes.
Then it’s on to display of today’s world class designers, mainly Europeans and Japanese: fanciful for the Italians, severe and dark for British, etc. I began to believe. Yes, punk—studs, rips, staples, wildly strappy heels — is incorporated, even in an apparently straightforward dress by Rossella Jardini for the House of Moschino. At first it seems to only have a sparkly bodice, but up close you can see, indeed, it is composed of teeny-tiny safety pins, making use of one of punk’s tenets: using disposable objects. To the museum’s credit, there is wall text quoting Johnny Rotten of The Sex Pistols: “Tears, safety pins, ripped over the gaff, third rate tramp thing, that was poverty, real lack of money. The arse of your pants falls out, you just use safety pins.” It’s a short step to “DIY Bricolage” featuring gowns made of garbage bags — real ones, some cut to look ruffly, even of materials designed to look like garbage bags — manneristic but seemingly wearable.
Yet the most sophisticated piece was a man’s evening suit, with the famous punk red splatter-over-the-heart T-shirt reinterpreted by Saint Laurent’s Hedi Slimane as discrete but shiny red beads on the breast region. Other fabulous, using the word advisedly, ball dresses from Dolce and Gabbana are voluminous, painted or patterned with pretty graffiti-inspired images, which is supposed to make them punk. But as Joe Strummer of The Clash says in wall text, “All the stuff about Pollock was a veneer. We didn’t have any overalls, so we got covered in paint [after painting a warehouse]. It was a good way to put something together to wear on stage.”
Bondage locks as jewelry, traceable to Sid Vicious, are pointed up. A contemporary red leather S&M harnessed affair by Westwood signals the show. Red (blood) of course, and black (nihilism) are the dominant colors. Even Karl Lagerfeld leaped on board, some. His 2011 Chanel suit of elegantly cut, subtly metallic fabric, with holes-on-purpose, triggered an overheard comment from one woman to another: “Oh, I remember that. I would never wear it of course.”
Yet does the show draw a clear line between punk and high design? Is ripping up a T-shirt really the same as deconstructionism? The canard of fashion starting from the streets is not new, with designers on the look-out for inspirations to create, promote, and make a buck from. And one connection is not made, but then it was easy to miss even in the ’70’s. The Mudd Club, an unmarked door at 77 White Street in pre-monied downtown Manhattan, was also a punk scene for musicians like Lou Reed, David Byrne, Nico, the B-52’s.
Artists such as Marisol, Basquiat and Keith Haring, designers like Betsey Johnson, filmmakers such as Amos Poe and Vincent Gallo stopped by: visual and aural artists on the edge. Anna Sui and William Burroughs showed up, and how could all these creatives not influence each other? Their impact on art, design, even clothing, was breakthrough. Upending, if not anger, was the game. Same for punk, which probably never intended to have its by-products sold for thousands in boutique stores, or even as knock-offs in malls—or become totems in hallowed museum spaces.
Founded by Vy Higginsen in 1998, the Mama Foundation for the Arts (MFA) has been internationally acclaimed for rebuilding Harlem as an artistic cultural center featuring entertainment and arts education. The Mama Foundation has produced a dozen theater productions, which have been performed on several continents. MFA’s best known musical, Mama, I Want To Sing, is the longest running Black Off-Broadway show in American history.
In 2003, Higginsen created the School of Gospel, Jazz, and R&B Arts. Three years later, she formed the award-winning Gospel for Teens program to train youth and “save the music.” According to Lesley Stahl from CBS’s 60 Minutes, “The Gospel for Teens program is not just teaching gospel, it is saving these kids.” Mama Foundation members have performed at numerous special events including the TED2012 Full Spectrum conference, the Congressional Black Caucus, The Stellar Awards, and a reception for Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa. Madonna, Chaka Khan, opera singer Jessye Norman and gospel artist Shirley Caesar are among the many stars that have shared the stage with the Gospel for Teens Choir.
A renovated five-story brownstone on a residential block on West 126th Street between Lenox Avenue and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard in Manhattan has been the home of the Mama Foundation for the Arts (MFA) since its inception in 1998. One block away is the foundation’s performance space, The Dempsey Theater, where thousands have enjoyed Mama, I Want To Sing: The Next Generation and Sing Harlem Sing!
What is so wonderful about the work that Mama Foundation is doing is their commitment to bring the arts not just as entertainment but as personal enrichment through the Vy Higginsen’s School of Gospel, Jazz and R&B Arts.
Earlier this year Mama Foundation held a series of lessons for learning to sing gospel. Now Mama Foundation is hosting a series of learning to sing jazz and blues. So step into being a active part of the artistic new Harlem Renaissance. The classes are from 7 to 9pm on four series of Wednesdays: May 22, May 29, June 5 and June 12. Classes are $80 for the four sessions. To register by phone call (212) 280-1045 or see their website at mamafoundation.org.
MoMA PS 1, housed in an old school building, is like the MoMA’s cool little sister with a focus on the cutting edge in contemporary art. Located in Long Island City, MoMA PS 1 is just a few subway stops on the E from the MoMA, so you can easily squeeze in two museum’s worth of viewing pleasure in the span of a day. Right across from MoMA PS 1 is the aerosol-adorned 5 Pointz, an industrial warehouse displaying the work of countless graffiti artists across its walls. the warehouse itself is worth the trip out to Long Island City, and makes for a picturesque contrast against the stark concrete structure of the courtyard outside MoMA PS 1.
As a constantly changing exhibition space, MoMA PS1 does not set out to collect, but rather creates a unique environment for the temporary installment of a diverse range of pieces. It retains much of the original architecture of the school building that it was once programmed to be, and transforms classrooms and tight stairwells into galleries. The space is currently under the process of installation, but possesses a few permanent pieces which are still worth seeing.
Along the labyrinthine stairwells are the anamorphic, black and white drawings of William Kentridge and a painting by Cecily Brown, distorted by the cracked and brittle paint texture of the walls. My favorite permanent piece is Meeting, by James Turrell, a
perfectly square room with a razor-sharp skylight. The piece, due to the thinness of the ceiling, creates the effect of a perfect patch of sky that one is welcome to bask under on a sunny day, while relaxing on the light wooden benches that encircle the compact room.
The basement, which houses the old broiler of the school house contains even more subtle pieces. Small interventions like Sol LeWitt’s Crayola Square, which is exactly what the title suggests, can go unnoticed in the dark and dank space, but demonstrate how the unique architecture of the school house provides new opportunities for artists to develop their work according to the space rather than isolate itself as an object in the traditionally stark white gallery.
MoMA PS1’s sole temporary piece (which was shown till April 27), was a short film titled Alberi, by Italian artist Michelangelo Frammartino. Installed in a temporary geodesic dome, visitors were invited to lay across the floor, while Frammartino’s whimsical short, telling a mythical story about the trees of the Italian countryside coming to life, was projected on the walls of the dome.
On May 12, MoMA PS1 is set to launch its newest exhibit, EXPO 1: NEW YORK, which will show new work all across its galleries. I truly recommend heading out then to see the space in its full exhibition state.
-Caroline Chen CC’15