Film crews are not uncommon in my neighborhood. “Gossip Girl,” in particular, has been coming around a few times a year. But this week, the nabe’s parking will be disrupted for two productions: the CBS drama “The Good Wife” (which is set in, ummm, Chicago) and the FX show “Damages.”
Mary Travers, RIP
As part of the New York Choral Society, I was fortunate to have performed with Mary Travers (and Peter Yarrow and Noel Paul Stookey) a couple of dozen times in the late ’80s and early ’90s. I did a week on Broadway, a PBS special that ran forever during Pledge Weeks, a Donahue show, and more than a couple of performances in Carnegie Hall. They are some of my fondest memories.
Mary Travers was by then well past her ingenue years and well into motherhood and later, grandmotherhood. She relished it. It was easy to see the dynamic of the group; the things that made Peter Paul & Mary work so well, the things about each of them that made the others crazy, and the ways that they adapted to each other as life progressed.
But what was also plain about them was the depth of their commitment to each other and their causes.
Why musicians do what we do
I’d never heard of the guy, but Karl Paulnack is apparently director of the music division at the Boston Conservatory. This talk is his welcome address to parents of new students. Bulls-eye.
Frankly, ladies and gentlemen, I expect you not only to master music; I expect you to save the planet. If there is a future wave of wellness on this planet, of harmony, of peace, of an end to war, of mutual understanding, of equality, of fairness, I don’t expect it will come from a government, a military force or a corporation. I no longer even expect it to come from the religions of the world, which together seem to have brought us as much war as they have peace. If there is a future of peace for humankind… I expect it will come from the artists, because that’s what we do…”
Computer Shopper Goes Online-Only
You could have seen this one coming a mile away. Computer Shopper, once the biggest and one of the most profitable magazines in the United States, announced today that it’s going online-only.
The days of 1000-page tabloid-sized issues are long past; Shopper went to a slick paper and normal trim years ago. Back in The Day, I was a senior editor there, responsible for about 100 of those pages a month. That’s a lot. And while Shopper may not have been the best thing I’d ever done professionally or the most fun or the most formative, it was undoubtedly in the Top 3 for all of them. It’s surely where I learned the magazine business and where I started to learn how to be a manager. It’s where I met my best man. It’s why I moved into New York City.
And it’s where I forged personal and professional relationships that have lasted decades. I’m sad to see it go. Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, a friend and once one of my writers, wrote a tribute in Computerworld. Read to the bottom.
There are too many Shopper stories than can be told here; you’ll have to buy me a beer or two — and I know that my short time at Shopper is only a thin slice of a very long story.
There’s an old poster that shows a genealogy of British blues bands. Every band that’s worth a damn could trace its way back to the Yardbirds, for one member or another at one point or another. In the tech press, Shopper was the Yardbirds. Glad I got to play
This may be one for the etiquette mavens among us. Or maybe it’s just a matter of common courtesy. Or cluefulness.
The other day, I was flying with my family — myself, my wife, and two 7-year-old boys — from JFK to SFO. I was sitting with one kid, my wife a few rows back with the other. The plane was a 767, in a 2-3-2 configuration. I was on the aisle, a kid in the middle, a stranger on the other side of him.
About an hour into the flight, said stranger pulls out a laptop and fires up a movie: “Slumdog Millionaire.” My immediate thoughts, in rough order:
- That’s not on DVD yet; the SOB is watching an illegal download.
- He’s watching an R-rated movie — one that features graphic scenes of little kids getting maimed — in full view of a 7-year-old.
New words for 2009
Susan Bray, the former Philadelphia talk show host now running a B&B in Australia, sent along a list of new words for the new year. Dunno where they came from but most of them are quite good, though a few don’t translate perfectly from the Aussie. My favorites:
Did you know the Federal Reserve issues a $2 bill? Of course you did. (Steve Wozniak sure does.) That puts you one up on the guy I just talked to at local WaMu branch.
I need to buy a bunch of dueces; never mind why. First stop was a Citibank branch, where I was told they didn’t have any. But if I wanted to order some, I’d need to get a “brick” of them, costing $2000. Umm, no.
So I went across the street to WaMu. I told the guy that I wanted to buy some $2 bills. He told me they only sold them in rolls of 25. No no no. Two. Dollar. Bills. Not a roll of dollar coins (although that would be interesting on another day). Bills. Currency. Two Dollars.
There goes Plan B…
So now comes word that Starbucks will close 200 more U.S. stores (in addition to the 600 already slated), putting another 6,700 people out of work. I guess all my friends in publishing will now need a new “last-resort” job option.
One wonders if the severance benefits include a high-value Starbucks card and free Wi-Fi. And it this is related to yesterday’s counter-intuitive decision to stop brewing decaf in the afternoons….
Maybe they can use one of the leftover crocodiles from the NYC sewers…
Over in the swamps of Jersey, they renamed what was once the Brendan Byrne Arena and was then the Continental Airlines Arena after Izod, the popular leisureware of the 70s and 80s. (The news angle is that someone’s suggesting that the building will be more valuable, not less, when there are no pesky tenants left.
But look at the photo. All the place needs now is one of those little crocodiles that adorned the Izod shirts, and the look will be perfect. (I’d even forgo the pink or green color. So not Jersey.)
And yes, I know that the croc was because of the long-standing and now-ended licensing deal with Henri Lacoste, the tennis player. Gimme a break.
Five Guys Comes to New York
People in and around mid-Atlantic states and Southeast. apparently know all about the Five Guys hamburger chain. But unlike the storied west coast In-n-Out restaurants that its fans fetishize, I’ve never picked up much buzz about Five Guys, though lord knows I’ve gone out of my way for an In-n-Out double-double. The chain just opened its second New York store, at 138 Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights (there’s apparently another in College Point, Queens — who knew?); it won’t stay a secret up here for long. It wouldn’t be much of an exaggeration to call Five Guys the East Coast In-n-Out.
It tough to judge a restaurant’s operation in its first week. When I checked it out earlier today, there about five times as many workers as were strictly necessary to serve customers. Because of all the training — and some of the trainees looked like they’d never seen a kitchen before — food was a little slow coming out. (At least, it had better have been slower than usual; tomorrow’s July 4 and there’ll be about a quarter million people walking past the place’s front door.) But when the food arrived, it proved to be well worth the wait.
First, the fries. Freshly cut, skinny, skin-on, fried in peanut oil. There was about 1000 pound of fresh potatoes, packed in 50 pound bags, stacked in the dining room. The burger patties are thin, about four inches in diameter; the standard burger is a double stack. Also fresh; they claim to not use frozen meat, and it tastes it. There’s no “secret sauce,” the way there is at In-n-Out, but there’s a full range of condiments as well as A-1 and hot sauce. No condiment bar; they prepare the burgers to spec.
There will probably be some traffic flow problems at this particular store. You order at the front (two registers) and pick up at the back, where the place narrows. That’s where the drinks fountain is, too, so there will almost certainly be a lot of pushing as people wait for their food and then fill their soda cups, then have to push their way back to the front of the place. There are 16 seats at tables and about the same number at counters along the front window and east wall.
Five Guys is up nine steps from the street. It’s worth the climb. The place is across the street from Grand Canyon, a neighborhood hamburger-based diner that’s been there since 1983. I love Grand Canyon and all things being equal, I’d rather support neighborhood businesses. But Five Guys is awfully good stuff, and my days at Grand Canyon may be numbered.
If you’re not in Brooklyn or Queens, take heart: the web site says they’re coming to Levittown on Long Island soon, and are already in the Albany area in Niskayuna and Glenmont, with Rensselaer coming.