Category Archives: General

Big Savings on Snobbery

Forget shopping at thrift stores. If you’re broke, head to Fifth Avenue:

shopper-artLuxury Prices Are Falling; the Sky, Too

“THE world is a strange place right now,” a salesman on the main floor at Bergdorf Goodman said as shoppers pawed through handbags piled on counters like discount merchandise at Century 21. “It’s off its axis.”

The handbags, like a lot else at the Fifth Avenue retailer, had been marked down 40 percent and are likely to go lower as seasonal sale days wear on. “Sixty percent off is the new black,” as Patricia Marx wryly noted in the Dec. 8 issue of The New Yorker. Yet the discounts at Bergdorf are far from the deepest among luxury retailers around the city.

In a move that caused consternation among its high-toned competitors along Fifth Avenue, Saks slashed the bulk of its fall fashion and accessories up to 70 percent over Thanksgiving weekend — to what some termed limbo lows.

…yet much of the merchandise is still turning a profit. Even with the 70 percent discount.

Who’s Stevie Jay?

hotseat-savit1I love you, you can’t stop me!

                                           -S.J.

Stevie Jay has this story—about his first apartment. Cozy enough except the bedroom walls were hideous, colored “hospital-green”. So, he hired a painter.

When the job was done, the painter called and Stevie came by. Looking around the room, he saw a spot the painter had missed near the ceiling.

He mentioned it. The painter stretched his neck and squinted.

He shrugged. “Oh, that?” he said. “That’s nothin’. Believe me, if you don’t look up there, you don’t really notice.”

Problem is that never happens. Stevie makes his living as a performance artist. And his material comes precisely from looking at those things others ignore. Such as themselves. 

Half comedian, half existentialist extraordinaire, Stevie, the “wisecracking prophet,” as a reviewer once called him, dubs his show “Life Love Sex Death…and other works in progress.” 

Like Bob Dylan’s music and Lenny Bruce’s comedy in the 1960’s, Stevie’s shows often transcends its entertainment value—becoming more a therapy session. stevie2Which is how it began.

In his mid-20’s, long before the stage years, Stevie joined a commune, living with other soul-seekers in a large house in Virginia. They met daily for intense psychoanalysis sessions. For hours, the group would sit in a large circle, often berating each other on their weaknesses, in the hopes of some Buddhist epiphany.

“We were essentially hypnotized into believing we were the scum of the Earth simply because we were human beings,” he remembers.

Rough as it was, Stevie credits the sessions for helping him see the dormant crevices of his boarded psyche that later fueled his material. 

The shows are intensely intimate—dim stage lights, candles, a couch—focusing mainly on relationships, the self and the difficulty connecting the two. 

“The core theme of the show explores the struggles we all go through as human beings,” says Jay. “To live our lives honestly and passionately—to love fearlessly, to risk rejection, and to reach out to people we’re attracted to even when we’re scared.”

Stevie Hat poster 8.5x11 colorHow about tolerance?

“We don’t need tolerance,” he says. “Tolerance implies putting up with something that’s unpleasant. What I need to ‘tolerate’ is the leaf blower on my cul-de-sac. I don’t need to ‘tolerate’ my neighbors.”

Through the decade-long life of the show, he has developed a cult-like following, especially on college campuses where he performs often.

Evan Merida, a graduate of Indiana University, was once an audience member. Now he is Stevie’s booking agent.

“I can say, without hesitation, that you will be hard-pressed to find another program that reaches as diverse an audience and hits as many topic as “Life Love Sex Death…and other works in progress,” says Merida.

Stevie’s desk drawers are filled with thank-you letters. His email inbox a museum of love.

On his website, he shares one such letter from a female student at Indiana University. It’s a common one. 

“When [the performance] was all over, my boyfriend and I went upstairs to our room, closed the door, and burst into tears,” the young woman wrote. “We didn’t have to ask each other why we were crying—we knew why.”

 www.steviejay3.com

Anne Hathaway

anne-hathawayNot all actresses have talent.

Some land on the cover of Vogue with dress and smile alone. Large breasts. A publicist.

Sure, a stereotype but true—and hard to overcome. Attractive people get the better job, make more money, live it up.

Ever notice how often the hero of a film is handsome and the villain ugly?

Still, good looks in Hollywood doesn’t translate to respect necessarily. Sometimes it’s a problem. Many aren’t taken seriously—just written off as marketing ploys to win at the box office. But there are others…

Anne Hathaway could have retired on a picture deal with Disney. Her beauty, girlish charm and modest smile is a perfect fit with the company. A life-long relationship probably danced in the dreams of company big shots. But then she got naked in “Havoc”, playing a character different  from her wholesome, family image.

Was she a spoiled Hollywood actress whose pretension outweighed her ability? A stomping teenager? Maybe ungrateful?

Turns out she just likes to act. And does it well.

For proof, go watch “Rachel Getting Married,” a family-in-crisis film so poignant and universal that it should run on muted-repeat behind the podium of an AA meeting. Here, she plays an alienated youth fresh out of rehab, recovering from parental neglect as much as drugs.

Of course, she’s beautiful. But she’s more than that. She transcended it and became…what? An artist? Maybe, but that’s better served for off-Broadway acts struggling to pay rent. So, what? How about something more scarce. More elegant. How about credible?

The Worst Celebrities I Can Think Of

In honor of celeb week—the famous who avoided (what, in a sane world, should have been) obscurity:

 

5. The Commentators on VH1’s “Where are they Now?”

The only thing worse than a bombed celebrity are the Grade D comics and B-movie stand-ins on this show. You were hired by a second-rate “music” channel to spit criticism at celebrities more unfortunately famous than yourselves. Cute! Yeah, you’re funny. Yeah, you’re witty. Yeah, you still play to an empty house in Hollywood. (Then again who else could be such an acute judge of poor talent? Way to go to VH1.)

 

4. Hayden Christensentove

Talk faster man! Why is this guy big? (How’d even get a gig?). No offense Hayden—you know, in a way, I admire you. You make a bundle of cash, royalties out the ying-yang and probably girls at your behest who are under the illusion that Natalie Portman found you desirable. Really, I don’t blame you. I blame drugs. And casting agents too high to know the difference between bad acting and good-looks. 

 

3. That Parachuting Writer Guy

I’m being mean. So, I’ll congratulate this character—a man so desperately in-love with his manuscript that he parachuted onto a soccer game in the U.K. to promote it. Not as successful as Kris Kristofferson but it got laughs—and high-fives from his mates at the pub.

 

 

2. The Nintendo Power Glovepowerglove

You. 

Before technology worked, there was the Power Glove. A $100 waste of wrapping paper. Dasher of 12-year-old hopes and dreams of immortality, you couldn’t knock out Glass Joe. 

 

1. George Bush 

Had to be here.

Five Trends in Entertainment

 

  • Fashion: Secondhand thrift stores selling clothes at 5th avenue prices.
  • TV – Major network shows (such as NBC’s “Lost”) airing in the Spring, not the Fall.
  • Fashion – Young males assimilating into differing sub-cultures with clown-baggy or runway-tight clothing.
  • Technology – The attraction of the Rockstar video game series. Why don’t these gamers just learn the instrument?
  • Fashion – How life has changed for the “Big and Tall”. What happened to those clothing stores? Is it harder for a skinny guy to buy clothes? Would a chain of “Small and Skinny” stores be successful? As successful as the “Big and Tall” stores of the 80’s? 

The Warehouse District – Bar Guide – Austin, TX

dscf1248

Walking east over Congress avenue from the row of college bars on 6th St. in Dowtown Austin, TX, a refined gentleman and lady of “higher taste” and more luxiurous attire will find their comfortable, Upper-Class hang-out in the Warehouse District, a 4-5 block square of restaurants, nightclubs and bars with higer door fees, more expensive drinks, and the occasional limo parked street-side.  

Here’s a list of those haunts catering to the more affluent Austinites in town.  

  • Antone’s
  • Rainbow Cattle Co.
  • Whiskey Bar
  • Apple Bar
  • Lucky Lounge
  • Red Fez
  • The Ginger Man
  • Lavaca Street Bar
  • Starlite
  • Kenichi
  • Cuba Libre 
  • Halcyon
  • Fado
  • Vicci
  • Marie Marie
  • Saba Blue Water Cafe 
  • Truluck’s
  • Rain on 4th
  • Oilcan Harry’s 
  • Lounge
  • Ringside at Sullivan’s
  • Taproom
  • Sullivan’s Steakhouse
  • Royal Blue Grocery
  • Volitant Gallery
  • Cork & Co.
  • La Traviata Italian Bistro
  • Manuels
  • Taverna

At the Newseum

newseum_02

Journalism is often a thankless, overlooked, and underpaid profession. Thomas Jefferson loved the press, but who else?

A lot of people view journalists as icky, side dwellers or sycophants feeding off the tragedy and misery around them. “A shooting on the West Side? I’m on it!” “A plane crash in the Midwest? Let’s do it!” 

You can blame 5 o’clock TV news (and I do) but regardless, aside from the patriotic claim we hold to in having a free press in this society (especially during war), people often look at journalists like they do lawyers—with skepticism, even though journalists average about half their salary.

So how great is it that journalism got its own museum? 

nytimes-newseum-photo-10-apr-2008

Located across the street from the Smithsonian museums, the “Newseum” is just a stones-throw from the Capital building in Washington D.C. The massive, six-level museum is entirely dedicated to the study and celebration of journalism.

The museum posts the front page stories of newspapers around the world on the outside windows. And on the wall, a large concrete excerpt from the First Amendment hangs, facing the Capital. 

Inside, visitors will see a large HD TV hanging from the rafters which plays re-runs of historical TV news. 

Admission is $20. If you have all day then it’s worth the price, if not, the Smithsonian museums are free and just down the street.

But should you fork up the cash, a great museum awaits.

True to the digital evolution of journalism, the Newseum is also packed full of multimedia exhibits, such as on-demand videos, Q&A’s with virtual instructors, even video games, like the one below (pull a reporter to your corner, correctly answer the pop-up questions and build the biggest newsroom). 

 

 

 

1115081635-01

Also, at the Newseum, you can visit a World Trade Center exhibit. The wall beside a piece of the tower is plastered with the front pages of newspapers around the world, declaring the attack. Circling the artifact is a minute-to-minute breakdown of how the news that day unfolded.

 

 

 

1115081645-01Around the corner, read about the tragic assignation of Don Bolles, an investigative reporter for the “Arizona Republic” who was killed by a car bomb planted by the mafia. (That’s his car pictured).

 

 

 

 

1115081651-00There’s also the “News History Timeline” exhibit, teaching visitors about the evolution of journalism, from 1455 onward. 

 

 

 

 

 

And there’s a lot more. Next time you’re in Washington D.C., bring $20 for the door. The Newseum is great for both history buffs and journalists alike.