Archive for the ‘Celebrity Points’ category

The Site of Richard Adan’s Murder

January 29, 2008

I know virtually nothing about who Richard Adan was other than an aspiring actor and a waiter at a small restaurant called the Binibon.  I remember hearing about the circumstances of his murder back in July 1981 and the huge uproar regarding his death.

I lead this section talking about him simply as a matter of citing the victim rather than the perpetrator.  You don’t want to celebrate Jack Abbott too much; he already has a Wikipedia entry and probably a hundred books cite him in some way.  Anyway, Abbott committed suicide in 2002.

Richard Adan was trying to be helpful to Abbott when Abbott asked to use the restroom and was informed it was for employees only.  Apparently he said Abbott should “take it outside” which might have been meant as use an alley or building side for a urinal (NYC was that kind of place back then); but Abbott apparently took as an invitation to fight.  When Adan led him outside, Abbott knifed him to death.

Most people probably don’t know who Jack Abbott was, despite the extremely brief celebrity of the man.  He was a lifelong criminal apparently with high intelligence and a gift for language.  He wrote a book called “In the Belly of the Beast” in which he put forth his anger and frustration with great talent and fanfare.  The New York Times published a glowing review of his book the morning after he murdered Richard Adan.

And the lifelong criminal would have been behind bars during the time of the murder if not for one of 2007’s most celebrated celebrities hadn’t made every possible effort to get Abbott released:  Norman Mailer (who died in 2007).

Maybe Richard Adan’s life would have made him someone that Mailer would have enjoyed.  He was also an author, but one cut short.  I have no knowledge of Adan, but am weary at the idea that both Abbott and Mailer have Wikipedia articles, but Adan doesn’t.

Enough of the ennui.  I’ve spent a couple of weekends touring the Lower East Side/East Village and the below was pointed out to me as the site of the murder.  The Binibon is gone, but I’m told is where the “Join or Die” sign is now on the corner of 2nd Avenue and 5th Street.

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-H

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2007 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade – Part 2

November 24, 2007

Thursday’s parade was very pleasant and for all of the right reasons.

Adults with children are always trying to get them into the right position to view the parade.  As I mentioned earlier, dad-duty involves putting your child on your shoulders for a view, despite what it means to those of you behind.  The picture below is what I call the “wall of dads”.

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But there are easier means of propping up the little ones.  One very popular technique is to bring step-stools and even ladders.  Another is to put the kids on something high.

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You can see from their expressions that they had a good view.  The problem is…well, they are kids and something always happens.

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In the above case, the little one is objecting strongly to the loss of his camera to his dad.  That kid could wail!

But with enough balloons, even the greatest of injustices is assuaged.

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There was only one sort of “celebrity sighting” from my vantage point.  When I first spotted the below float, I thought “These guys must be some sort of music group or boy band.”

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I hadn’t the slightest idea who they might be.  I then googled the parade to see, and all I could find was something about Ground Zero firefighters.  It wasn’t until this morning that I was flipping channels and ran into some info that indicated that this was the new “Menundo”, a re-constituted boy-band from the 1990s.

My next picture was of something quite a bit different.  Whatdoyathink?

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It turns out that this is a bit of real art done by artist Jeff Koons.  Apparently Macy’s is trying to bring in some artistic sentiment alongside the popular entertainment.  This is a highly enlarged, and balloonized, version of his work titled something like “Shiny Rabbit”.

It certainly provoked a lot of conversation amongst us who didn’t know of it beforehand.  It was regarded as something of a Bugs Bunny robot or a robot rabbit for whatever reason anyone would ever want a robot rabbit.

Now compare that with the cultural meaning of the below.

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For me, Mr. Potato Head rules over Shiny Rabbit any day and in every aesthetic sense.  Of course, I’m a bit of a Luddite and metalicized rabbits aren’t my thing.

 [UPDATE on 11/25:  Just to show what I know about modern art, here’s a post about the rabbit.  I think you can get Mr. Potato Head for $10 or so.]

-H

Ankling to the Chelsea Hotel…or is it the Hotel Chelsea? (Part 2)

November 20, 2007

Okay, my previous post was all about the exterior of the famous Chelsea Hotel.  It’s nondescript on the outside but has a wall of plaques that would be the envy of any hotel anywhere.  The hotel is reknowned as a last vestige of the Bohemian movement in NYC.  It sure won’t win any awards for glossiness.

The doorway is ordinary.  Double-wide glass doors.  The lobby is relatively tiny with the desk set in the far back.  I asked if they minded if I took pictures.  The gentleman seemed taken a little aback, but granted it.  I presume he was taken aback by the request for permission.  I don’t think he was surprised that someone would want to take its picture.  It’s…an unusual lobby.

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Yes, a girl in a swing.  But note that it isn’t a red velvet swing.  That’s a story about Madison Square Garden for another time.

The walls are lined with artwork.  The first one, apparently named “Presidents” was one that I found a bit captivating.  I sure don’t know why, though.  It looks like the old Dutch Masters cigar box.

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I’ve no idea whose bust that is, but it looks a bit like Harry Truman.

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This is what you see when you first walk in…other than the woman on a swing.

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You’ll note that I’m not posting any pictures of the lobby itself.  Just the walls.  The furniture, in a word, is non-descript.  Boring.  Pretty comfortable, but not old.  Just some cloth covered seating for maybe 15 or 20.  There were a number of people in the lobby doing work (on laptops) or reading.  I didn’t want to bother them so I did my photography around them.

I didn’t go into any of the rooms, or even go past the desk area, so I don’t know if the rest of the place is swanky or not.  I imagine it’s not.  I think they’re letting the history of the place speak for itself…and the artwork.  I wonder if it ever changes.  I wonder what the criteria for inclusion is.  I can’t imagine taking down the woman in the swing, though.

So, is it the “Chelsea Hotel” or the “Hotel Chelsea”?  The plaques keep saying “Chelsea Hotel”.  The hotel’s website is www.hotelchelsea.com.  I’m all in favor of voting:  when I google “Hotel Chelsea”, I get 383,000 hits.  When I go after “Chelsea Hotel”, it returns 653,000 hits.  The affectation-friendly “Hotel Chelsea” seems the loser.  Even the hotel’s official website gives it both names.

Would the plaques lie to us?

Oh, and the place has an interesting blog:  Living with Legends.

-H

Ankling to the Chelsea Hotel…or is it the Hotel Chelsea? (Part 1)

November 19, 2007

Chelsea is one of those “hot” areas that I really don’t understand.  Everybody always talks about how it is one of those places that you have to see and be seen…but I’m only moderately fond of it (and that’s a bit of an overstatement).  My lack of hipster credentials grows ever more apparent.

But don’t be in doubt, there are some really great places there.  I’ll be writing about some of them over time, but mostly places I already know.  The Chelsea Hotel?  I had heard about it, but hadn’t paid too much attention to it.  On a day off with the weather getting “iffy”, I wanted to go to someplace nearby and decided that I would finally take a look at the place.  The only thing I really knew about it was that’s where Nancy Spungen was killed (apparently by Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols).  I had heard it was connected to the old Bohemianism stuff that evolved into the counterculture of the 60s and all.

Walking up to it…well, it doesn’t exude flashiness or modernness or even seem to stick out in any way.

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But, then…you get to the doorway and the importance of the place becomes evident.

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Sorry about the shaky shot, it happens sometimes.

Okay, that’s one plaque.  That’s not too difficult to get in a town with the history of NYC.  But I counted ten plaques all clustered around the front door.  I’ve put in Wikipedia links on the names for further backgroup, if you wish.  Click on the plaque names to open a jpeg of the plaque.

First, a plaque to Pulitzer Prize winner Virgil Thomson who lived at the hotel for more than 50 years.

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The next is for Arthur Clarke.  I don’t know that he “invented” the communication satellite, but he was apparently just the first to conceptualize and popularize it.  But writing “2001: A Space Odyssey” at the Chelsea Hotel is something else.

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A plaque for Shirley Clarke an avant-garde filmmaker from the 50s and 60s.  Apparently some of her films were made in the hotel itself.

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The next plaque gives something of the history of the hotel.  It was designed by Hubert & Prisson, opened in 1884 as a cooperative apartment, and became a hotel in 1905.  It then gives the names of some of its famous residents:  Arthur B. Davies (a famous painter from the early 1900s), James T. Farrell (a writer who did the “Studs Lonigan” series), Robert Flaherty (a documentary filmmaker who did the “Nanook of the North” film in 1922), O. Henry (the short story writer), John Sloan (a painter), Dylan Thomas (poet and writer of “Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night“), and Thomas Wolfe (author of “Look Homeward Angel” which has to be one of the most depressing, but great, books I’ve ever read).

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The next plaque is for Brendan Behan, an Irish writer.

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A plaque to Pulitzer Prize winning poet, James Schuyler.

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Another plaque to Thomas Wolfe, a writer whose works I’ve enjoyed.  He died at 38 and it says he lived at the Chelsea Hotel “during the last years of his life”.

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And another to Dylan Thomas.  There’s a weird statement on this one:  “Who Lived and Labored Last Here at the Chelsea Hotel and From Here Sailed Out to Die.”  It’s strange because Wikipedia says that he died after collapsing at the White Horse Tavern in nearby Greenwich Village.  Okay, it’s strange just as a statement, too.

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And, finally, a plaque for playwrite Arthur Miller.

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And those are just the plaques I saw.  I doubt they’re any others on the exterior, but I won’t venture as to what plaques exist on the interior. 

You know, I had expected this post to be very short, but got so involved in the exterior that I’m going to break it into two parts.

-H

Too Early for the Today Show

November 10, 2007

When I was at Rockefeller Center for the Olympic Men’s Marathon Trials, I decided to stop by the Today Show in case they were broadcasting from outside.  They weren’t.  I’ve never understood their process for organizing the crowd but that’s probably because I keep coming to it from the wrong direction (that is, from the north).  They have a double lined fenced in area with the entrance at the far south.  That means you have to go around the outer fence to enter and then go around the inner fence to get to a decent viewing area.

Here’s what it looks like when there’s no one out broadcasting and there’s no sign that they ever will for who knows how long.

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The did have the TV on and decent audio being broadcast to the crowd.

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They did do something that I thought was really nice.  When the commercials came on, they muted the sound.  I like little things like that.

The traditional Today kind of viewers were there.  That is, sign carriers.

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Actually, I was one of the very few there without a sign.  I only stayed about five minutes, though.  And never saw a sign of the actual broadcasters.  I’m sure they eventually came out.

The one other time I was at the area for the show was when they were doing an outdoor broadcast and I barely missed it (they finished their talk and went inside in the same time it took to get through their crowd control fencing).  Someday I may actually make it there.

-H

Trump Place Part 1

October 29, 2007

Trump Place an enormous rental/condo set of building on the Hudson River named after…Donald Trump.  I guess that most of the people who have heard of it are aware of it because it is associated in some way with his show “The Apprentice”.  I’ve never seen the show but I heard it was associated with Trump Place in some way.

And I used to live there.

I’ve never met “The Donald”, nor ever even seen him.  I know very little about him other than what you get from the media and his omnipresence there.  Except one thing…

He’s a good landlord.

Trump Place is located at 69th and the Hudson River.  Not quite right: the West Side Highway is between the buildings and the river, but the highway is elevated so there’s easy access to the river.  The complex is enormous and goes a lot further north-south than 69th Street, but that’s where I was.  180 Riverside Blvd.  Not “Riverside Drive” mind you:  Boulevard.

There are a series of buildings in the complex.  Here’s a shot of them.  Actually, it takes more than two shots to get it all.

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 It goes on a little further, but they’re still building down there.

You’ll notice one building appears in both photos.  That’s my old place.  I had the distinct pleasure of having a river view from the 17th floor.  Spectacular.

From what I understand, he didn’t own the buildings but did serve as the public face of the group doing the construction. 

As a tenant, I wanted for very little.  This was a full-service kind of place.  The rents were pretty hefty when I rented, but on par with other places in the city I looked at (sub-$3,000 per month including lease incentives).  The staff was incredible.  Absolutely incredible.  If Donald is a proud man, that’s what he should be proud of:  he hired some really good people.

We’re talking doormen, concierges, porters (cleaning crew), security, and maintenance people.  Wonderful.

The concierges were the key.  They knew everybody’s name.  They knew the kids’ names.  They knew the dogs’ names.  They knew the birthdays.  Honest, well-spoken, friendly, and informative.  The doormen and maintenance people I now have are very good, but I can’t compare them to the Trump people; it wouldn’t be fair.  (Okay, a couple of them are really good, but they don’t have the name-thing down.)

I never opened the door myself.  I would be greeted by name in all but the crazyist times.

They’d replace my lightbulbs for me (very high ceilings).  And they’d bring their own lightbulbs.

Everytime a food delivery was made, a security person would accompany the delivery.  And stand well back during the delivery so there wasn’t a question of handing out two tips.  Little things like that count for a lot.

The laundry was open 24/7 with lots of washers and dryers.  Like I said…it’s the little things.

I’ve been planning to write a post with minimal pictures.  I didn’t know it would be this one.  I’ve wanted to write this sort-of-paean to Trump Place ever since I heard a Chicagoan say some less than favorable statements about Donald.  I kicked myself for not chiming in “hey, he’s a great landlord”.

There was only one time that I had any problems:  when I left.  It took me months to get my deposit back, but Trump Place was sold during the time that I was leaving so I didn’t really resent the confusion that was going on.  And all the staff were always top notch, even the ones who were having a hard time tracking down my money.  Like I said, Donald hires good people.

Oh yeah, one day I ran into a woman whom I think was either Miss USA or Miss Universe.  That’s a nice perk of living in such a place.

-H

The New New York Times Building

October 23, 2007

The New York Times has moved to its new digs on 8th Avenue.  Right across from the Port Authority Bus Terminal.  Not a ritzy neighborhood, but who am I to complain?  The new building is between 40th and 41st Street.

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The building is actually pretty big, but the Times only occupies part of it.

Oh, they have a “watcher”.

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Who watches them from under the overhang?  Who stands vigil on the Gray Lady?

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Yeah, that’s him.  Ralph Kramden:  bus driver, Raccoon Lodge treasurer, and dreamer (or so the plaque says).

This isn’t the first time that Ralph (aka Jackie Gleason) has show up in my wanderings.

-H