Monthly Archives: September 2011

Bechnya at the Hudson Theatre, LA

After a number of award winning plays taking on the issues of Eastern Europe, writer, Saviana Stanescu, turns in a convoluted, hot, mess of a production at the Hudson Theatre in Los Angeles. Not knowing what she wants to say, Stanescu takes us back and forth from America to the fictional town of Bechnya in search of revenge, answers and atonement for the bitter fate of a sister who lives through the neglect of orphanages and the horrors of war after she is abandoned by her baby sister through an American foreign adoption.  A modern Grimm Fairytale with several kinds of endings, a history lesson and a play that would have done better to present itself as an art installation commenting on adoption, religion, war and family.  Click here to read the full review.

The Next Great American Consumer

According to Adweek today:

The Next Great American Consumer Infants to 3-year-olds: They’re a new demographic marketers are hell-bent on reaching.

Really!  I thought they were kidding.  Then I red the article.  Talk about trying to black-mail parents into giving their kids everything they want or in ad copy speak, “sooth fussy babies”  with bibs full of branded Disney characters and etc.  Have we gone off the deep end with this one?  Read the article and tell me what YOU think.

Spontaneous Street Art

Street Art – Graffiti is not new.  Talking about it is not new.  It is even a form of expression according to Wikipedia, that has existed since ancient times, with clear examples dating back to ancient Greece and the Roman Empire.  And of course, it is considered a crime when it defaces public spaces without the permission of the owners of those spaces.  Although former Cat Woman, Julie Newmar, of the older TV series of Batman & Robin didn’t mind at all when her entire property at the corner of Rosewood and Fairfax (now enclosed in a cement fence for perhaps pre-construction) became completely etched in spray paint.  In fact, it delighted her so much – to the chagrin of her conservative neighbors – that she left it there as a display of wonderful spontaneous street art.

But what still amazes me is the dynamic of an empty space being almost instantaneously filled by a random artist with the kind of graphic design skill, sans the technical help of Adobe, Kodak, Wacom or Sony, that most traditional artists might otherwise find challenging to accomplish.  And it is bold.  I mean, maybe it’s just me, but waking up to my local Melrose Avenue boarded up retail location getting a brilliant makeover from an ugly, uninviting, barrier with a sales sign on it, one day before, is kind of mind-blowing to me.  I admit, I only half understand it.  But I am  becoming more and more infatuated with discovering more about it as a particularly special urban craft.  What does this all really mean to the artist anyway?  Could someone anonymously write in and explain?

~Gia On The Move

Street Art – Take 1

Commedia dell’Arte or Advertising at its best?  And at no charge.  Really love the Casper the Friendly Ghost touch.

Teenagers, Teachers and Sex Experiments – oh my!

Certainly a thrill to behold is the wonderment of love and quite a lot of unabashed “gizzing” in the classroom, in the gym and nearly all over the school, in Wonderlust at Theater of Note, written by Cody Henderson and carefully directed by Amber Skalski.  Now playing Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through October 1st.  click here to read more…

 

Reading Is Fun with Celebrities

Celebrating a good friend today who just happens to be a celebrity, is super cute, a great actor and speaks even better Italian than I do! (well that isn’t too hard these days, I never practice.)  In the spirit of celebrating food with friends Sean has written a new book and is introducing it to the world this Thursday evening in Studio City, CA.  Hope you will join us!
Dear Friends,
This Thursday September 22 I will be signing copies of my book at Barnes and Noble Bookstar at 12136 Ventura Blvd. in Studio City from 6-8 pm. I am asking all of my friends to please drop by the store. There will be a film crew and photographers covering the event.
Please come out and support me and my book “The Modern Gentleman: Cooking and Entertaining with Sean Kanan.  The book has been getting extremely positive feedback and it will be a really fun evening.
Sincerely,
Thursday September 22, 2011
6:00pm – 8:00pm
Barnes & Noble Bookstar
12136 Ventura Boulevard
Studio City, CA 91604
(818) 505-9528
Sean Kanan plays the role of bad boy, Deacon Sharpe (the role he originated on The Bold & The Beautiful) on the daytime drama, The Young & The Restless. Sean is also a recurring panel guest on HLN’s Showbiz Tonight and on FOX’s Red Eye. Sean got his first big break in Hollywood in the role of Mike Barnes in the now iconic film, Karate Kid III. Sean is very involved with the Anti-Defamation League especially in the area of anti-bullying. He has lobbied in Washington, D.C. in an effort to create effective anti-bullying legislation.

About the Book: THE MODERN GENTLEMAN is more than a cookbook of recipes Sean has collected over the years as a self-taught gourmet cook and avid traveler. This book speaks to men about the lost art of being a gentleman. He offers ideas on how to impress someone of the opposite sex including setting a table, arranging flowers, advice on manners, etiquette and more. He hopes his book will be used as a tool for men and he encourages women to share this book with the men in their lives.

“Sean’s book gives single clowns like me the courage to step into the kitchen and actually do something besides stand around! With his recipes and advice, we may even be able to impress a girl or two!” –Justin Chon, Actor…The Twilight Saga

“Women will certainly applaud Sean’s efforts. His book is just the right nudge that most men need!” –Eva La Rue, Actress, CSI:Miami
______________________________________

Sean Kanan
The Modern Gentleman: Cooking and Entertaining with Sean Kanan will be available on Amazon.Com September 13.
http://www.amazon.com/Modern-Gentleman-Cooking-Entertaining-Kanan/dp/0983745641/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1313269049&sr=1-1

The Politics of Dancing and Beer

Half moon rising over the city of angels.  A light mist covering the near empty boulevards.  Except for the lights.  Brilliantly colored.  It’s quiet tonight.  Above the sparkle of stop, slow, go, I look up and there they are — glittering and bronzed red burnished from days in the Cali sun — Dorothy’s shoes hanging from a telephone wire over the street.  Click three times … “I want to go home”… but where is home?  Beyond the sign is the Village Idiot.  Yes.  I will find a place to rest by midnight.  Beer and spicy bar nuts and yes Burt I was clapping to Toto while the crowd next to me was singing!  The Politics of Dancing…The Politics of oooo feelin good.   I wander tonight, tipsy, through the streets of LA in the belly of the beast.  What next?

Food Dazed and Confused

I just couldn’t help myself.  I read Ad Week’s Food Rules article this morning and had to comment.  All My Children is to  be replaced with another cooking show and I thought, well here is another case of “why my life sucks while I’m gaining weight stuffing my face”.

I love food culture and yes I am all for helping people learn how to cook, save money and eat at home.  But CHEW – friendly environment, hungry audiences, well, I kind of feel like the advertising is aimed at hungry dogs just as much as hungry people.  I mean, I do like to lick my bowl… Add in an iPad app for Food Media and we now have the virtual intravenous drip – “I’ll never be hungry again Scarlett.”  (and I won’t even have to lie, cheat, steal or kill – I’m so PC).

So I couldn’t help but post a comment.  It is meant to be humorous and a bit cynical yes, but my question is, “How much food do we NEED to eat?”

Apparently a lot according to network statistics because the ratings on cooking shows are the highest ones out there so we can always add more – and let’s do that!  Does that label us certified gluttons in every way?

So here was my thought for the day:

One less soap opera or one more cooking show?  It’s a toss up as to why sitting on the couch watching television is getting you fatter.  You just now know how to get fatter faster and with more panache and style of course.  Extra Extra:  “fast food home deliveries down — drivers on strike until cooking shows end their reign of terror.  Supermarkets and restauranteurs are stepping up their prepared home meals options and pricing.  Americans dazed and confused about what to eat next.”

In the Soup

…on a Saturday afternoon having a semi-coffee clutch with the uber-chic Muffin over magazines and fashion — what else?!  Researching for the new nightlife brand I’ll be launching soon. 

I feel like dancing tonight but instead am walking across Melrose again like a one track homing pigeon, down to Beverly for dessert at Della Terra, with my eye on CBS.

But I feel like dancing and fix my gaze back on WEHO – disco dreams, stiletto gloss girls and sweaty boys, t-shirts off and high on the music.  “Glitter, glitter on the wall, who is the most fabulous of them all?” — ME, I think as I catch my reflection under the laser lights…mmmmmm rasberry Panna cotta makes me day dream…I’m in the soup of Hollywood nightlife.

Musings on a Thursday Night

Getting a mani-pedi (in red of course) tonight and watching a re-run of Miss Universe in Sao Paulo Brazil.  Feeling inspired enough by all of the uber glam that only beauty pageant girls can dish out – enough to go home and throw out my entire drab pre school graduation wardrobe.

Isabeli Fontana was not walking the runway at Fashion Week New York at least on September 12th.  She was a judge and a very elegant one at that.  What a surprise to see her behind the judging table along with Vivica A Fox.

Miss Angola rules supreme  as the gentle, sparkling elegant new Miss Universe of 2011.  She was so nervous she couldn’t smile towards the end.  Completely endearing.  What a surprise happy ending.

Making my way across Melrose west to Angeli Cafe to be met by Lurch at the door and then rescued by Jason.  Whoaaaat?  I’m so glad I got to recover with fresh homemade bread from the oven, a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and my absolute favorite Scamorza alla Griglia aka roasted smoked scamorza cheese topped with olive oil and fresh heirloom tomatoes.  Yummy angels got their wings tonight for sure!

Somewhere over the rainbow…

Somewhere over the rainbow are fabulous beauty editors who work hard to give us fashion du jour and are working doubly hard this Fashion Week.  Getting one on the phone at this time is like finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow – if you can find the end of the rainbow. 

But just like Dorothy landing in Munchkinland, I have discovered that it can be done.  Desk side appointments are not dead and the beauty editors over at mags like W, Marie-Claire, Allure, Shape and More are even more beautiful as the shining stars of the business who run themselves ragged to make time for every request – if they can.

What a week I’m having and it’s only Tuesday!

On 9/11 all I could say…

“It’s gone!  It’s fucking gone!  It’s fucking gone!”

I had been on the phone with my acting coach Penelope Brackett who was living in New Jersey with NY1 on in the background.  My mom had called me at 8:30am to find out if I was ok.  “What do you mean, ok?”  She said, “Trae, turn on the TV.  There was another crash at the World Trade Center.”

What?  That’s impossible!  But as I turned on the television, the little hairs on the back of my neck raised up as saw monstrous black smoke, billowing out of the tower.  It wasn’t like before; the little plane that had flown into the side of the building.   Newscasters on every channel were reporting a jet had full on, rammed itself right through the building.  I immediately just started crying.  I didn’t even know why.  It was shocking to see and hear just on the TV alone.

I tried to explain to Penelope what was going on, but her not seeing what I was seeing she simply said let’s just focus on what we’re doing.  I could only half concentrate on the work as I kept my eyes on the monitor.  Then suddenly the building began to sink into the smoke and I could hear the top floors cracking and crashing and collapsing down on one another.  It happened so quickly that all I could do was scream into the phone over and over again, “It’s fucking gone!”  And then I said, “Penelope, I have to go, my personal problems are so not important right now.  You need to turn on the television.”

What scared me most was a sound I had never heard in my life coming from outside – the cries of men.  We’re all so used to hearing women scream and sometimes men making outlandish remarks or sounds or cheers when something out of the ordinary happens.  But this was a collective moaning, cry – deep, loud, long.  It truly struck my heart with fear.  I was scared to go outside and instead began calling everyone I knew and could actually get through to, as phone connections began to go down, intermittently, then at one point, altogether, starting with my employer.  I had a later shift at the office that day.  At the time I was working as a reader and assistant to a blind CEO in an investment firm located on top of Grand Central Station, in the Bear Stearns (Old Helmsley) building, which had become that morning, one of the prime red alert targets.  I remember begging one of the partners, Donna Leone, to come into work.  I didn’t want to be alone, die alone.  I really did think I was going to die as reports kept blasting in about more and more planes and possible additional attacks all over the Northeast.  She said, “You can’t come in.  Everyone’s leaving right now.  We are all evacuating.  We’re being told that there are missiles coming.”

“Missiles?!  What are you kidding me?!”  My brain couldn’t even take that in.  I called everyone I could get through to after that.  My brother Christopher who was living in New Jersey right across the Hudson; my boyfriend, who worked in the Fashion District, on his cell phone, to make sure he was ok.  He got trapped in an elevator that morning in all of the panic; my grandmother; my mom and finally my cousin Lynn in Boston, who told me that people were jumping off of the buildings and that they were showing this on TV.

“What?!  Lynn that can’t be happening!  We’re not even seeing that here!”  And we weren’t.  News venues all over the area intentionally were not showing the horrendous footage to New Yorkers, of people throwing themselves out the windows, flapping their arms like birds’ wings, holding hands as they leapt to their death to escape the flesh melting inferno on the top floors.  But they were showing it everywhere else.

I started to become woozy and exhausted from the anxiety and finally left the house to walk out onto 6th Avenue and West Fourth Street.  I needed air and the comfort of a crowd.  What I witnessed will never leave me for the rest of my life – thousands of people, walking up every avenue from south to north escaping Wall Street.  It was a scene out the old TV show, “World at War,” as people marched out of Poland during the Blitzkrieg, when Hitler invaded.

And then suddenly I looked up.  It was a beautiful, warm, sunny day and there was the second tower, in center view, standing, burning, smoking, in front of my eyes.  All at once the most surreal event occurred…everyone turned around.  In that precise moment we all focused our gaze downtown to watch the second tower fall.  The entire avenue went completely silent.  We all just stared in awe, eyes and mouths completely open.  NOT A SOUND.  Neither babies, nor adults, nor birds, nor dogs, nor taxi cabs, cars or anything made a bump, a clang, a cry, a bounce or a screech.  Just dead silence.

I was so overcome with the shock of it, I remember murmuring to myself, “I’m hungry. I think I need a sandwich.  I’m gonna go to the store.”  I guess I needed to grab onto some sort or normal moment or activity to just make sense of what I had seen.  The rest of the crowd just turned back around and started marching again.   They kept moving uptown.

In the wake of one of New York City’s most horrific tragedies, also occurred one of its most extraordinary and triumphant moments – the unification of an entire city in a way that not a single person had ever witnessed or known before.  The heart of a people beating as one, in one mind, in one spirit and in one thought only – what can we do to help.  Everyone who hadn’t been directly affected below Battery Park City blazed into action in very typical New York style.  Thousands lined up at every hospital to give blood even though we were being turned away; firemen, policemen, construction workers, teamsters, metals workers and regular civilians – anyone and everyone who was an able body fought their way back downtown to try to volunteer, to help clear the rubble, pull people out of the area as quickly as possible, even when we were told it was dangerous.  Everyone desperately wanted to find the survivors.  We wanted to come to the aid of those who aided all of us – policemen, firemen – the men and women in uniform who protected our city every day, some of who, gave their lives that day to save others from the deadly waves of smoke and debris that killed so many people who never made it out of the area.  Everyone was desperate to do any tiny little thing they could to help.  Collections of socks, t-shirts and food were nearly instantaneously brought to checkpoints for the rescue workers, the injured and those we hoped were still alive under the buildings.  Pizza deliveries were non-stop to try and feed everyone quickly, because the support continued 24 hours a day.  We didn’t want to sleep until people were found.  You see, New Yorkers just didn’t sit around crying.  They didn’t fall apart.  They fell mightily fell together.  There was a job to do and they were going to do it; no matter what it took, or what the cost.  At that moment, helping your fellow men and women transcended from an ideal into a hard core reality.  And I can honestly say that I have never been so proud of my city and its people.  Never so proud to be called a New Yorker.

For the entire week after and several after that, I remember meeting people on the street just walking the avenues.  Friends and acquaintances I hadn’t seen in so many years.  But because we were above ground and not travelling the subways for the first couple of days you just met people, spoke, shared stories, touched, held hands, hugged, cried.  It was good to be with each other.  There was comfort in the exchange.  Many Manhattanites took in strangers who got trapped in on the island and couldn’t get home to their families.  We fed each other, we opened our doors.  We cared.

It was strange to have to carry around a passport and a utility bill in order to identify myself as a downtown resident living below 14th Street, in order to be allowed to go home every night.  It was eerie to see the refrigerated trucks waiting to store the bodies that were never found, lined, up and down the Henry Hudson Parkway by Chelsea Piers.  It was difficult to do nothing as little by little we all realized there were no survivors and we were being turned away from offering assistance.  It was painful to watch on television the families post pictures of their mothers, fathers, daughters and sons, hoping to miraculously finds them and all of the photographs and trinkets and memorials hanging around on the fences and poles and walls of building all over the city.  It was mind bending to hear a fireman friend reveal how many body parts he was finding down at the site and that he couldn’t sleep anymore.  It was excruciating for me, one night, watching the immigrant father of a young first generation Mexican man making a new life in this country try not to cry as he quietly spoke into a camera, “I’m looking for my son.”  I will never forget that.

I was asked if I had some photos for a collage to add to my story.  I don’t.  I asked friends if they had any.  They don’t.  It wasn’t a picture moment.  The professional news coverage has most of it.  Of course there may be some who do.  I wouldn’t know.  I was busy that day, that week that month fielding mass emails and phone calls from friends and families across the country and the globe; forcing myself to get back into any resemblance of a normal routine of going to work at the office and also putting up a show Off-Broadway; our producers and director had decided to go on in a spirit of hope and solidarity for the city; comforting others with whatever strength was in me and enduring the pain of others who suffered great loss.  I only know that for me, it was about the people of New York City.

Tracey is a native of Boston’s North End and a former New Yorker living now in Los Angeles, CA working as a publicist, producer and theatre critic for LA Theatre Review and blogger for  LA-Artist.com.