A group of college students meanders through Washington Square Park, talking among themselves as they enjoy the first truly beautiful day of spring. Suddenly, a short black man jumps into their midst.”Guys, sorry I’m late. If I make you laugh, can I earn some change?”
“Oh, you gonna tell us a joke?” one of them asks. “Alright.”
The Joke Man leaps into his routine, struggling to hold their attention with a few racially charged jokes while they roll their eyes or look away. His smile and manic energy are infectious, though, and within moments he has them laughing and reaching into their pockets. They walk away as he examines his earnings.
“Two fifty,” he sighs. “I got two dollars and fifty cents from the six of them. I’m not really feeling it today.”
He is a Greenwich Village fixture, this Sammy Davis, Jr. look-alike who bounces from neighborhood to neighborhood, passerby to passerby, hustling to earn enough spare change to survive on the streets of New York. Nearly everyone in the park recognizes him, but almost no one knows his name.
Devin Smith is homeless, and he tells jokes to survive. Read the rest of this entry »
To keep her skin pristine, this top parts model won’t cook, schlep garbage or go out ungloved.
American Express. Avon. McDonalds. Neutrogena. Pampers. Panasonic. Sprint. Tums.
You’ve seen Ellen Sirot advertise all of these products and companies, though you’d never know it.
Sirot, 37, is a top parts model: she specializes in showing off her hands, feet and legs. Earning as much as several thousand dollars a day working for TV and magazine ads, she is a supermodel in a competitive field most people have never heard of. Read the rest of this entry »
New Internet sites link directors, actors and editors — easing the arduous process of moviemaking just a little.
After her original editor bailed, writer/director Nancy O’Mallon desperately needed a film editor for her first feature documentary, about a journey across New Jersey’s blueberry country.
She turned to the online network Shooting People and found Melissa Ulto in New York.
“We ended up working really well together, and now we are partnering on a few other projects,” said Ulto, who became both editor and animator for O’Mallon’s The Mighty Humble Blueberry.
Part social network, part job search and message board, and part video showcase, Shooting People and other new sites like it are helping filmmakers, actors and crew find each other to produce films — and also to show films to new audiences. Read the rest of this entry »
Rosaria Pipitone reached across the green velvet tabletop, scooped a rainbow pile of poker chips into her stack, and waved goodbye to yet another victim. He had bet everything he had left to try to scare her off, but Pipitone knew better than to back down from such an obvious ploy.
The right cards can always beat a bad bluff in poker, she thought to herself.
Now all of his chips belonged to her, and he removed his sunglasses as he got up slowly from the table to join the spectators. He would have to be satisfied with a third place finish.
At last, two players remained in a No-Limit Texas Hold’em poker tournament that had lasted nearly five hours; the sun was about to rise outside the Luxor Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Read the rest of this entry »
Orson Welles in 'Citizen Kane'
Orson Welles is characterized as a restless innovator and experimenter. Even if the only film he had ever made had been his debut feature, 1941′s Citizen Kane, Welles would likely still be remembered for his ground-breaking use of depth of field and deep focus; long, fluid takes incorporating complex camera movement; a non-linear narrative structure; and many other advances in film, too numerous too list. Few other filmmakers have displayed such a distinctive voice and style throughout their careers, but Welles belongs on a short list of auteurs whose films could only have been made by the one person whose name appears in the credits as director.
Robert Altman is another such auteur, and his films are all similarly unified by a unique directorial vision. Altman is a director who spawned his own adjective – “Altmanesque” – much like films made in the style of Orson Welles can be called “Wellesian.” An Altman film is instantly recognizable as such for its large cast of characters; long takes and moving cameras; complex multi-layer sound track; and multiple storylines coinciding in a way that defies typical narrative structure, among other more intangible traits. Read the rest of this entry »
The words “Inspired by a true story,” “Adapted from the novel by” or “Based on the short stories of” in a film’s opening credits immediately raise questions about that film’s authorship in the mind of the viewer. These words draw attention to the fact that the film text originated in the form of the written word, perhaps even more explicitly than if the film had begun as a wholly original screenplay. The adaptation of a written text to a film text therefore engenders certain unique challenges for both the filmmaker and the spectator. Read the rest of this entry »
Comedian Ashley Strand
“The truth is the status of stand-up comedy in New York is like a sideshow,” says comic Ashley Strand, one of the city’s countless struggling up-and-comers. “It’s a footnote. ‘We were in the Village and the weirdest thing happened – we went to a comedy show!’”
From high-profile comedy clubs like Dangerfield’s, Caroline’s and the Comedy Cellar to low-rent joints such as Comedy Village, Underground Lounge, and hundreds of nightly open mikes, there are plenty of fart and dick jokes to go around in this city. But most of those jokes are told by people like Ashley Strand, a hard-working comic whose name you’ve never heard – or if you ever did hear of him, you probably don’t remember. Read the rest of this entry »
I woke up early this morning,
Didn’t know who I was,
Your heavy head still on my pillow.
You exhale, stale with alcohol.
If someone had told me that this is how
Love would all go down
(‘Cause it’s going down),
Then they may have saved me from your touch.
– Deidre Muro, “Red Afternoon”
Standing onstage with her guitar and sipping a rum and coke, a faint smile spreads across Deidre Muro’s face as the spotlight fades. Halfway through her set at the East Village’s Sidewalk Cafe, the last notes of her brooding reflections on lost love seem to hang in the air for a moment before rising applause takes over the candlelit room. Read the rest of this entry »
It is 11:00 on a Monday night – a relatively quiet time in New York City. But not at Arlene’s Grocery, the renowned Lower East Side convenience store-turned-rock venue on Stanton Street. The bar lights dim, exciting an already anxious crowd. A weighty yet tongue-in-cheek voiceover announcer welcomes the audience and recites the Ten Commandments.
The first Commandment? “Thou Shalt Seek Only to Rock!” Read the rest of this entry »
“We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold.”
So begins Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, the book that was first published in two issues of Rolling Stone magazine in 1971 and propelled Thompson and his revolutionary “Gonzo” journalism into the spotlight. As the subtitle warns, the book takes readers on “a savage journey to the heart of the American dream,” and it also sealed Thompson’s burgeoning reputation as an outlaw genius. The time was right – Thompson had put himself in place to be the living historian of the counterculture. Read the rest of this entry »