Recent Articles

New York States of Mind

Photos by Takako Ida

Photos by Takako Ida

By Rory Winston

“You want to know what it takes to sell real estate?  It takes brass balls…” proclaimed a swaggering Alec Baldwin in the 1992 movie version of David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross.  That this image of a broker should remain fixed in collective consciousness is in no small part thanks to cosmopolitan buccaneers who have steadfastly dressed a mogul’s worth of riches in ragtag mannerisms while having pimped raggedy properties till they smacked of gold. With TV shows like Million Dollar Listing, building on the ideal that success comes to those whose “weight” is calculated in dollars and nonsense, it becomes hard to imagine real estate business without a dose of ruthlessness, flamboyance and well-coiffed ‘always-be-closing’ madness. (more…)

‘Made in Hong Kong’ Redefined

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By Rory Winston

No, this was not that Hong Kong – not the ‘made in Hong Kong’ stuck ignominiously on the back of a trinket; not the one dreamt up by a child who watched Enter the Dragon and mistakenly believed he could intimidate the school bully by pretending to be Bruce Lee. This was another Hong Kong – the one made partially comprehensible by Wong Kar-wai, the one extolled for haute cuisine, the one I was not fated to see until a recent excursion landed me in the lobby of the renowned Mandarin Oriental. I write ‘renowned’ because the Hong Kong Mandarin Oriental is not just one in the line of five star luxury hotels but the paradigm on which the iconic MO brand had been built.

Like a modernist interpretation of a Yuntai temple crossed with a Ming dynasty tower, the elegant but stern façade of the hotel is a gateway between Victoria Harbour and the city. That this 430 roomed property should be positioned between China and the island, the island and the West – while simultaneously occupying the very grounds on which the Queen’s Building (a symbol of the British Empire) once stood – is emblematic of the hotel’s poignancy. (more…)

A French Opera in 4 Acts

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By Rory Winston

Lincoln Center may have lost the New York City Opera by late 2013, but luckily, it managed to keep the prestigious Franco-Mediterranean repertory, Picholine. With six consecutive shows a week, Picholine is the longest running opera in the area – one composed and orchestrated by the grand maestro, Chef Terrance Brennan. Like the best French works, Picholine mixes frivolity and drama in equal measure while sporting a repertoire that lends itself to cheese without ever being cheesy. (more…)

LIFE ON TOP

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By W.A. Muller

It came as no surprise that, back in the 1960s, the notorious publisher Bob Guccione named his new urban-lifestyle men’s magazine Penthouse, and immediately started using the trademark phrase “Life on Top” to associate with the publication.  He simply applied to his glossy journal the common perception of the highest level of luxury living “on top” of the high-rise apartment buildings.  Like the residential penthouses, Guccione’s magazine aimed (and succeeded) to be differentiated from others by its many luxury features. (more…)

Youth America Grand Prix LarisSa Savveleiev: A Ballerina’s Story

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By Sergey Gordeev Produced by Joe Alexander

Looking at Larissa Savveleiev glued to her cell phone while sipping fresh juice at Fabio Cucina Italiana in midtown, you would not guess that she has revolutionized the way dance schools and companies all over the world discover young talent. (more…)

Fukushima, Mon Amour

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Virtual Piggy: Teens, Money & Technology

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By Dr. Jo Webber, Founder and CEO of Oink

When we look at the figures of consumer spending, credit and savings we often overlook the under 18’s and yet they represent a significant component of the US economy. The almost 40 million teenagers in the United States represent over $200 Bn of annual spending power and the average teen carries $30 in cash and has $742.70 in their bank/savings account. Teens earn on average around $3000 per year. The teen job pool hasn’t changed much since when we were teens – the most common jobs are babysitting, waiting tables and mowing lawns. Teens are spending their money on a variety of expenses each week including clothing, movies and gaming but perhaps surprisingly over 50% of their weekly spend goes to food and beverage purchases.
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Historical Foresight : the life and times of a Play

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by Rory Winston

In a vain attempt to keep up with emerging poets, playwrights and new productions, I – like many theater professionals and enthusiasts out there – supplement my monthly subscriptions by scouring online sources and skimming through additional information alluded to by friends and friends of friends on Facebook.

Admittedly, despite my best efforts, many of the most interesting premises (especially those qualified with the words ‘in development’) remain perpetually under the radar, forever eluding the necessary attention. The surfeit of information – compounded by the fact that’s its far more interesting to read articles celebrating Chorus of Disapproval-like challenges than overlooked masterpieces – makes it virtually impossible to know what’s flying or, even worse, that which is in desperate need of taking off.

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Still, there was something about Adam Szymkowicz’s interview with Bianca Bagatourian that stayed with me even three years after I first read the piece from my smart phone while riding the subway downtown.  Was it the quality of the interview? As a devoted fan of Adam’s works, I can honestly say that the particular piece paled in comparison to some of his other more in depth interviews. Was it because the subject of Bagatourian’s play, The Time of Our Lies, was Howard Zinn - the civil rights activist who had penned a historical classic now considered a paradigm shift in American Social theory? Although I was Zinn advocate, I knew well enough that the reason I liked the Mountaintop was Katori Hall rather than Martin Luther King Jr., just as Galileo owed more to Brecht than to the father of modern astronomy. And although I was doing a tri-weekly radio show at the time when Szymkowicsz’s piece appeared, I somehow suspect it wasn’t Bagatourian mentioning that her Mise-en-scène was a radio station that kept me thinking about her play.

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As Zinn mentioned on numerous occasions, ‘You can’t make a proper choice unless you know the history.’ And the history of my own interest in this play was the playwright’s unique approach to the project. Firstly, Bagatourian knew her subject intimately – having interviewed and studied under Zinn – while nevertheless, opting for a ‘battle of concepts and words’ rather than a staged hagiography. Secondly, as those who were familiar with Bagatourian’s idiosyncratic style, the work promised to be a comprehensive deconstruction of the very words used to build the content. Like Hélène Cixous, Bagatourian understood that language used to describe an event was simultaneously in the process of creating its very own separate event. By juxtaposing narrative with Butoh Dance and multi-media, Bagatorian’s interdisciplinary adventure promised us a view of Zinn that – rather than dramatize his biography or merely give voice to his ideas – would be a mimesis of his creative process portrayed within the context of our unyielding social constructs. Rather than representing Zinn’s diurnal travails, the attempt would be made to draw a picture of the visionary by embodying his very vision as it lay besieged by the realities attempting to quash it. To borrow legal terminology, I would say this is ‘Due process’ as accorded by a serious playwright investigating a man who had devoted a great deal of his life to justice.

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When I recently heard that The Time of Our Lies was slated for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival’s prestigious Gilded Balloon I was not surprised; when I later heard that they were still trying to raise money with crowd funding, I was. The truth behind our lies was this: no matter how much we admired new works and passed along the ‘give, give, give, contribute to a worthy cause’ message, more often than not publicity alone wouldn’t cut it. Facebook approvals and likes were simply not enough to help prop up works that needed to be seen. Though I’m not sure if more in the way of media attention can bolster support, I thought as Bianca did when quoting Howard Zinn, ‘knowing the history is of utmost importance.’ So for those who don’t know the history of this project, the link below is essential reading – one which may offer insight in fashioning a more promising future:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-time-of-our-lies-a-play-about-the-life-of-howard-zinn-by-bianca-bagatourian

 

From Michelin to Michelin

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By Rory Winston

Roadside clam shacks crossed with culinary aspiration? You’ve seen the likes of the former in films celebrating the 50’s by the coast: Gas stations with Coca Cola signs dangling precariously in the wind, Ice cubes advertised in handwritten cutouts off some seaside interstate, a badly drawn lobster with the words Open till Sunset, and always the phrase Extra Fancy grotesquely stuck like a label on something as innocuous as canned soup.
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