Category Archives: Festivals and Events

Holidays in New York, The Most Enchanting Time of the Year

Rockefeller Center decked out for the holidays © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

New York City’s most magical time of the year, the winter holiday season, is already underway with the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, continues with the iconic Christmas Tree lighting ceremony at Rockefeller Center, and constantly delights with festivals, special events and attractions, and all the dazzle of holiday decorations right through New Year’s Day.

Throughout the season, each of the city’s five boroughs welcome multicultural guests to participate in local observances of diverse holidays. Secular activities include unforgettable department store windows, artisanal markets to explore, plus attractions and cultural draws. The season concludes by welcoming in the New Year with lesser-known fireworks at Prospect Park in Brooklyn and, of course, the unforgettable New Year’s Eve ball drop in Times Square.

“New York City is a sight to behold during the festive annual holiday season—it’s a time of year when world-class hotels, attractions and shops sparkle and shine brighter, offering six million global visitors a truly memorable travel experience,” said Fred Dixon, President and CEO of NYC & Company, the official destination marketing organization for the City of New York.

Here’s an overview of what to see and do by borough:

MANHATTAN

The 91st Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade—featuring larger-than-life helium balloons, performances by the casts of Broadway musicals, select marching bands from across the nation and celebrity appearances—kicks off the holiday season on November 23. (macys.com). (Macy’s iconic Thanksgiving Parade that kicks off the winter holiday season actually starts the night before, with a gigantic blow-up event that has become a major festival experience, drawing tens of thousands of onlookers on the streets around the American Museum of Natural History and Central Park West. This year, the event takes place from 1-8 pm; entrance is at 74th Street.)

Macy’s iconic Thanksgiving Parade that kicks off the winter holiday season actually starts the night before, with a gigantic blow-up event that has become a major festival experience, drawing tens of thousands of onlookers. © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting ceremony, an iconic symbol of the holidays in New York City, takes place on November 29. The tree remains lit through January 7. (rockefellercenter.com).

The Rockettes high-kick their way into the festive season, as the Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes returns November 10–January 1. The production dazzles audiences with extravagant costumes and fan favorites. Of note, families should mark their calendars for November 26, the inaugural Party City Kid’s Day, featuring pre-show activities to enthrall kids of all ages (rockettes.com).

November 30–January 5, the annual Brookfield Luminaries experience in the Winter Garden at Brookfield Place is reimagined. From 8am–10pm daily, visitors can “send” a wish from one of three stations to the canopy of hundreds of lanterns above, transforming the wish into a mesmerizing display of colors (brookfieldplaceny.com).

The City’s famed window displays are a must-see over the holidays.  WindowsWear operates daily tours, which begin at Macy’s in Herald Square and journey up Fifth Avenue, passing the Empire State Building, Bryant Park, Rockefeller Center, Central Park and more. In previous years, holiday tours have taken place between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve (windowswear.com). Our favorite walking route starts with Macy’s at 34th Street, moves to Fifth Avenue for Lord & Taylor, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Bergdorf Goodman on 57th Street. (Barneys and Bloomingdale’s also have window displays).

A child’s delight enjoying the decorated windows at Macy’s © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The New York Transit Museum Gallery Annex and Store at Grand Central Terminal is back with its 16th Annual Holiday Train Show. Lionel trains travel through a two-level, 34-foot-long miniature New York City and countryside scene. Vintage trains from the museum’s collection travel to the diorama’s North Pole from November 16 to February 4 (grandcentralterminal.com).

At Harlem’s legendary Apollo Theater, the 11th annual Kwanzaa Celebration, Regeneration Night, is December 30. The Apollo’s celebration honors family, community and culture through a joyful evening of dance and music (apollotheater.org).

Also on December 30, the American Museum of Natural History holds its 39th annual Kwanzaa celebration, honoring the seven guiding principles of the holiday and featuring an international market (amnh.org). Also check out the newly opened exhibit, “Our Senses: An Immersive Experience.” (See: American Museum of Natural History Creates Immersive Experience for Understanding ‘Our Senses’)

Visit a museum over the holidays. The American Museum of Natural History just opened “Our Senses: An Immersive Experience” © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s holiday engagement at New York City Center takes place from November 29 to December 31. Artistic Director Robert Battle leads the company of 32 in more than two dozen dynamic works and a series of special performances. Unique to the season are world premieres of Members Don’t Get Weary and Victoria, plus a New Year’s Eve Season Finale (alvinailey.org).

Louis Vuitton presents Volez, Voguez, Voyagez – Louis Vuitton October 27–January 7 at the former American Stock Exchange building in Lower Manhattan. Curated by Olivier Saillard and designed by Robert Carsen, the free exhibit retraces the adventure of the House of Louis Vuitton from 1854 to the present. One of the show’s 10 chapters is entirely devoted to the United States and New York City. (vvv-new-york-louisvuitton.com)

Holiday favorite ELF The Musical is in performance at the Theater at Madison Square Garden for a limited engagement. Back by popular demand, the production runs December 13–29 (theateratmsg.com).

Radio City Rockettes performing Christmas Spectacular Wooden Soldiers © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The Metropolitan Opera presents a family-friendly holiday extravaganza, The Magic Flute. Directed by Julie Taymor (The Lion King), the abridged English language presentation is a great introduction to opera for children. Additionally, those attending the December 29 and 30 performances will be invited to participate in activities, including opera-themed “dress-up” and “show-and-tell” (metopera.org).

The Metropolitan Museum of Art once again lights a 20-foot blue spruce above an 18th-century Neapolitan nativity scene, in the museum’s Medieval Sculpture Hall. The Exhibit of the Crèche is a long-standing holiday highlight for New Yorkers and global visitors and is available to view November 21–January 7 (metmuseum.org).

Bryant Park has become one of New York’s most festive holiday venues with ice skating, holiday markets, cafes, the carousel and the lighted tree © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Visitors can enjoy one of the City’s many outdoor skating rinks that open in October through the holiday season, such as the Rink at Rockefeller Center (therinkatrockcenter.com), Wollman Rink in Central Park (wollmanskatingrink.com) and Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park (wintervillage.org). The Rink at Brookfield Place opens November 1 (gpice.com).

The New York City Ballet presents George Balanchine’s The Nutcrackerone of the most beloved and anticipated holiday classics, November 24–December 31 at Lincoln Center (nycballet.com).

Other favorite venues to get into the Christmas Spirit: Bryant Park, with its massive Christmas tree, ice skating rink, festive holiday markets, cafes, and carousel (wintervillage.org) has become one of the city’s iconic holiday places.

Besides Bryant Park, there are holiday markets at Union Square, Columbus Circle, and Grand Central Terminal.

Central Park is magical in any season, but particularly for the holidays. In addition to the Wollman Rink (wollmanskatingrink.com), there is The Swedish Cottage, an enchanting place that is home to one of the last public marionette companies in the country. The cottage was originally constructed as a model pre-fabricated schoolhouse, and became Sweden’s entry in the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. After the exhibit, Central Park’s co-designer Frederick Law Olmsted had it placed in Central Park, where it has been headquarters for the Marionette Theater since 1939 (West Side at 79th Street). Currently playing is The Three Bears Holiday Bash, through Dec. 30 (purchase tickets, www.cityparksfoundation.org/arts/swedish-cottage-marionette-theatre). Ticket packages are available that include holiday workshops (geared to 3-8 year olds accompanied by adult): Monday, December 11 – Decorate a Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel; Friday, December 15 – Christmas Elf Stick Puppets; Friday, December 29 – Kwanzaa Stick Puppets.

Christmas at St. Patrick’s Cathedral © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

Visiting St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue is a highlight of the holidays and it is remarkable that you can just walk in and enjoy an inspirational service, but a particularly favorite place is St. Thomas Church (5th Avenue and 53rd Street, www.saintthomaschurch.org), which is famous for the Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys, and its annual performances of Handel’s Messiah (Dec. 5, 7). Also this year, “A Ceremony of Carols” by Benjamin Britten (Dec. 14). (Purchase tickets, www.saintthomaschurch.org/music/concerts); also take a tour of this magnificent edifice, built in 1913 in the French High Gothic style.

There are also wonderful holiday concerts at historic Town Hall (123 W. 43 St., thetownhall.org).

THE BRONX

The New York Botanical Garden’s cherished Holiday Train Show is a twinkling display of model trains traveling through a miniature landscape of 150+ iconic city structures. The 26th annual iteration spotlights Midtown Manhattan, with new versions of the Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, General Electric Building and St. Bartholomew’s Church, on view November 22–January 15 (nybg.org).

Families can enjoy making special holiday-themed crafts during the Holiday Workshop Weekend at Wave Hill, December 9–10 and can take home their very own natural wreaths, treasure boxes and other great keepsakes (wavehill.org).

BROOKLYN

In Downtown Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Ballet’s Nutcracker is an iteration of the holiday classic. It fuses ballet, hip-hop and various dance genres, plus reimagines Nutcracker characters and scenes to represent Brooklyn neighborhoods, such as Old Dutch Brooklyn and Flatbush Avenue. Performances are December 7–9, 11 and 13–16 (brooklynballet.org).

In Park Slope, Grand Army Plaza hosts nightly lightings of the Largest Menorah (32 feet tall) from December 12 to 19 during Hanukkah. A must-see in this location since 1984, there are concerts, gifts for children and celebrations each day through the festival of lights (largestmenorah.com).

Rounding out the season in Brooklyn, the Prospect Park Alliance presents annual fireworks at Grand Army Plaza to start the New Year. The best places for viewing are along Prospect Park’s West Drive and between Grand Army Plaza and 9th Street (prospectpark.org).

A horse-drawn carriage ride down Fifth Avenue © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

QUEENS

The Gingerbread Lane at New York Hall of Science is open from November 11 to January 14. Hopeful for the fifth straight title of Largest Gingerbread Village from Guinness World Records, over 1,000 handmade gingerbread houses and structures are on display (nysci.org).

Astoria Market Bohemian Hall offers holiday shopping December 3, 10 and 17. Featuring vintage finds, plus local artisanal wares and crafts, it’s the perfect destination for sourcing eclectic presents. The venue also offers delicious desserts and pastries from local bakers (astoriamarket.com).

The tradition continues with A Christmas Carol at Queen’s Theatre. Scrooge and the Spirits of Christmas past, present and future are in residence in the borough December 8–22, thanks to Charles Dickens and Titan Theatre Company (queenstheatre.org).

Saks Fifth Avenue turns its entire building into a light-and-sound show for the holidays © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

STATEN ISLAND

The first ever Winter Wonderland SI at Richmond County Bank Ballparkwill feature ice-skating, rides, games, a 34-vendor holiday market and more. Conveniently located steps from the Staten Island Ferry. At dusk each evening, there is a holiday light and sound show, and the Igloo Bar is a draw for adult attendees, featuring holiday cocktails and live entertainment (winterwonderlandsi.com).

A classic holiday tradition continues with the 14th Annual St. George Theatre Christmas Show December 8–10. Just steps from the Staten Island Ferry, this historic theater’s two-hour production features over 100 actors, a live orchestra and numerous holiday standards set in locales from the North Pole to Staten Island (stgeorgetheatre.com).

Midtown NYC Showcases ‘New’ NYC

Midtown NYC showcases the “new” NYC and this holiday season is an ideal time to experience new attractions:

Gulliver’s Gate, housed in the former New York Times building on West 44th Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, features over 300 miniature buildings and models of iconic global landmarks. A full city block wide, the attraction is a technologically advanced, interactive and immersive world that ignites the imagination of visitors young and old (gulliversgate.com).

Midtown NYC showcases the “new” NYC with new attractions © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey , which opened in October, is an immersive experience in Times Square (West 44th Street, between Seventh and Eighth Avenues) that uses ground-breaking technology to transport guests on an incredible underwater journey across the Pacific Ocean (natgeoencounter.com).

Beginning in November, NFL Experience Times Square, a new attraction on the corner of 47th Street and Seventh Avenue, immerses visitors in the physical challenges of professional NFL athletes. Visitors enter as a fan, become a player and leave a champion on this hero’s journey (nflexperience.com).

New Broadway musicals will entertain guests over the holiday season. Visitors can see all current and upcoming shows at nycgo.com/broadway. Highlights include SpongeBob, sure to be a hit with families and nostalgic millennials alike, and The Band’s Visit, an artistic new work starring Tony Shalhoub, among others (spongebobbroadway.comthebandsvisitmusical.com).

In celebration of the holiday season, this short video produced by NYC & Company captures the City’s festive essence. For a full holiday guide to NYC and more information about booking a trip to NYC this holiday season, visit nycgo.com/holidays.

Broadway Theater Presents Holiday Performance Schedule

The holidays are a perfect time to see a show. Broadway performs every day of the week at multiple curtain times to accommodate every schedule, including holidays. During Thanksgiving and Christmas weeks, some shows are changing their performance schedules.

Broadway theaters offer holiday schedule of performances; 14 shows even have performances on Christmas Day © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

“During the most wonderful time of the year, theatergoers can rely on Broadway to help them celebrate by fitting a show into their holiday plans,” says Charlotte St. Martin, President of The Broadway League. “With special matinees and evening performances, Broadway provides many additional opportunities to see a production. From comedies to dramas, old favorites and new, there are so many choices that there’s something for everyone throughout the Thanksgiving and holiday weeks.”

During Thanksgiving week, some shows will play on Thanksgiving Day, and many will play Friday matinees. Fourteen shows will be playing on Christmas Day! During Christmas week, alternate curtain times will also include Friday matinees and evening performances. Check Broadway.org to see the holiday performance schedules and easily find out where and when shows are playing.

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© 2017 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com,  www.huffingtonpost.com/author/karen-rubin , and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

‘Darkest Hour’ Wins Best Picture Award at Gold Coast International Film Festival

Artist Edwina Sandys, granddaughter of Sir Winston Churchill, discusses her grandfather at the Long Island premiere of “Darkest Hour” at the 2017 Gold Coast International Film Festival, Long Island, with Festival Founder and Executive Director Regina Gil and Diane Masciale, VP & GM of WLIW21 and Executive Producer of local productions at WNET © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

The results are in: Darkest Hour, a new film starring Gary Oldham as Winston Churchill, is the winner of Best Narrative Film at the 7th Annual Gold Coast International Film Festival. Best Documentary award was a tie: Underfire: The Untold Story of PFC Tony Vaccaro, the World War II soldier turned war photographer, who attended the sell-out screening, and the Long Island premiere of Dare to Be Different, about WLIR 92.7, the influential Long Island radio station on the cutting edge of music in the 1980s.

In all, the festival, now in its 7th year, screened more than 80 films from 12 countries – 36 of them Long Island premieres – with Q&As with dozens of visiting artists including directors, producers, and grandchildren of famous film subjects: Winston Churchill’s granddaughter, the artist Edwina Sandys; Frank Sinatra’s granddaughter, AJ Lambert who attended the 60th anniversary screening of the movie musical Pal Joey, and David Ben-Gurion’s grandson, Alon Ben-Gurion, after the screening of an extraordinary documentary based on six-hours of recently uncovered candid conversations with Israel’s founding father.

A record 15 of the screenings were sell-outs; the film-festival drew 4500 audience goers of all ages and backgrounds, from all over Long Island and the metro area – 175 different zipcodes.

“People think film festivals are elitist – but that’s not what we’re about,” said Festival Director Caroline Sorokoff. The festival featured “Free Film Friday,” with presentations of the movie classic “Sergeant York,” starring Gary Cooper; family short films at the Great Neck Library, and film shorts at the Port Washington Library (with a Q&A with Israeli filmmaker Yaniv Segalovich, director of An Average Story, Letiferet, who joined Alexandra Gil, curator of the Gold Coast International Film Festival’s short films; the film won an audience award).

“Hundreds of people took advantage.” And this year, veterans could come to any screening for free, thanks to a grand from GEICO.

The Gold Coast International Film Festival is distinguished by the fascinating events that are organized with the screenings – Q&As with producers, directors, actors, experts and people associated with the films.

Indeed, a highlight of the festival was the Long Island premiere (two weeks before general release) of Darkest Hour, featuring Academy Award nominee Gary Oldman’s brilliant performance as Winston Churchill and the terrifying early days of his appointment as Prime Minister as Hitler’s forces were taking over Europe and threatening an invasion of the British Isles. It was Britain’s darkest hour. And like the movie “Lincoln”, and “Thirteen Days” about John F. Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis, which shows the backstory of a key “moment” in pivotal history, we learn of how he had to overcome intense opposition from political rivals, and the diabolical choice he faced: negotiate with Hitler to save British lives at a terrible cost or rally the nation and fight on against incredible odds. Gary Oldman brilliantly portrays the first dark days of Churchill as Prime Minister. Directed by Joe Wright, the screening at the Soundview Cinemas in Port Washington, featured a Q&A with Churchill’s granddaughter, the artist Edwina Sandys, a young child during this time, who spoke nostalgically and lovingly of her grandfather and grandmother, Clementine.

Edwina Sandys, a renowned sculptor, at the Gold Coast International film Festival to talk about her grandfather, Sir Winston Churchill, after the screening of “Darkest Hour” © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Underfire: The Untold Story of Pfc. Tony Vaccaro is the remarkable story of WWII infantryman and legendary photographer Tony Vaccaro, who created one of the most comprehensive, haunting and intimate photographic records of the war using a smuggled $47 camera while developing the negatives in his helmet at night. Tony Vaccaro, himself, along with Director Max Lewkowicz and Producer Valerie Thomas participated in a post-screening Q&A session, followed by the opening reception of Tony Vaccaro’s acclaimed, wartime and celebrity photography at the Gold Coast Arts Center Gallery in Great Neck (on view through February).

The Long Island Premiere of Dare to Be Different had three sold-out screenings, and featured a Q&A with Director Ellen Goldfarb and Executive Producer and former WLIR Program Director Denis McNamara, plus a host of other special guests, including artists and DJs featured in the film. It was an event that could only happen on Long Island, where WLIR brought new wave music to America. WLIR helped launch the careers of U2, Talking Heads, Depeche Mode, Blondie, Duran Duran, Tears for Fears, The Clash, and The Cure, among others. Special guests attending the premiere include Larry “The Duck” Dunn, Michael “Eppy” Epstein, Max Leinwand, Steve North, Carol Silva, Donna Donna and “Malibu Sue” McCann.

Alon Ben-Gurion, grandson of Israel’s former Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, speaks with audience after the screening of the documentary, “Ben-Gurion Epilogue,” based on six hours of newly discovered conversations with Israel’s founding father, at the 2017 Gold Coast International Film Festival, Great Neck, Long Island © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Ben-Gurion: Epilogue, a stunning documentary compiled from six hours of never-before-seen footage, of newly discovered conversations with Israel’s founding father presents  a rare and fortuitous piece of cinematic archeology – it’s as if film was found of candid conversation with George Washington. Watching, you realize you are seeing a work of undeniable historical significance with prophetic implications for Israel’s future. Presented in Partnership with American Friends of Soroka Medical Center to a standing-room-only audience at the Bowtie Cinema in Great Neck, the screening featured an extraordinary Q&A with Ben-Gurion’s grandson, Alon, who spoke personally of time spent with his grandfather.

“Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story,” a documentary about the gorgeous actress focuses on her role as inventor of secure wifi, Bluetooth and GPS communications and how her arresting beauty stood in the way of being given credit for her brilliance, screened at the Gold Coast International Film Festival, featured a panel discussion moderated by Diane Masciale of WLIW21 and WNET (right), with Alexandra Dean, Director (second from left), Fleming Meeks, Journalist and Dr. Christine Metz of the Feinstein Institute. © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

An extraordinary documentary, Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, was the first of a new “Science on Screen” series funded by a hard-to-win grant to the Gold Coast Arts Center to better communicate science to a general audience. The documentary finally credits the dazzlingly-beautiful actress as a brilliant inventor responsible for the innovation that made possible secure WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS communications (her intent was to make the Navy’s torpedoes more effective in order to win World War II, but the Navy put the patent away in a drawer until it was rediscovered by another inventor devising military weapons). The Long Island premiere, featured a Q&A (sponsored by Edelman financial Services, LLC) with Director Alexandra Dean, Fleming Meeks, the Forbes journalist who scored amazing interviews with the reclusive actor late in life, and Dr. Christine Metz of the Feinstein Institute and was moderated by Diane Masciale of WNET.

Straight/Curve: Redefining Body Image, Long Island Premiere at the Gold Coast International Film Festival of the documentary examining the industries and obstacles responsible for the body image crisis and showcasing the dynamic leaders fighting for more diversity of size, race and age, featured a Q&A with Director Jenny McQuaile and Producer Yael Melamede and a panel of distinguished experts from Northwell Health: Dr. Gabriella Farkas, Dr. Bonny Patel and Nancy Farber, ND. The Q&A was sponsored by the Katz Institute for women’s Health at Northwell Health.

“Straight/Curve: Redefining Body Image,” Long Island Premiere at the Gold Coast International Film Festival of the documentary examining the industries and obstacles responsible for the body image crisis and showcasing the dynamic leaders fighting for more diversity of size, race and age featured a Q&A with Director Jenny McQuaile and Producer Yael Melamede and a panel of distinguished experts from Northwell Health: Dr. Gabriella Farkas, Dr. Bonny Patel and Nancy Farber, ND moderated by Festival Director Caroline Sorokoff © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The 60th anniversary screening of Pal Joey, an Academy Award-winning musical gem, with famous classics by Richard Rogers and Lorenz Hart, celebrating its 60th anniversary this year starring Frank Sinatra, Rita Hayworth, and Kim Novak, featured a Q&A with AJ Lambert, Sinatra’s granddaughter (Nancy’s daughter) and Raj Tawney, a multi-media journalist/producer. Lambert spoke about her warm and loving grandfather.

Supergirl, the story of Naomi Kutin, an Orthodox Jewish pre-teen girl with an extraordinary talent – holding a world record in powerlifting, featured a Q&A with the film’s director, Jessie Auritt and “Supergirl” herself, Naomi Kutin and her family.

The delightful documentary Hummus! The Movie, was followed by “The Great Gold Coast Hummus Taste-Off” at Lola restaurant next door to the BowTie Theater in Great Neck Plaza.

The 60th anniversary showing of “Pal Joey,” a movie musical with classics by Rogers & Hart, starring Frank Sinatra, Rita Hayworth and Kim Novack, at the Gold Coast International Film Festival featured a Q&A with AJ Lambert, Sinatra’s granddaughter (Nancy’s daughter) and Raj Tawney, a multi-media journalist/producer © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The seventh anniversary of the not-for-profit Gold Coast International Film Festival featured over 80 films and dozens of filmmakers at screenings and events at North Shore venues, including Soundview Cinemas in Port Washington, the Bow Tie Cinemas in Great Neck, Port Washington, Manhasset and Roslyn, and the Gold Coast Arts Center in Great Neck.

Films presented this year showcased major Hollywood actors, include Gary Oldman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Patricia Arquette, Burt Reynolds, Isabelle Huppert, Rainn Wilson, Bill Nye, Rosemarie DeWitt, Imogen Poots, and Shahab Hosseini, star of the 2016 Oscar-winning film, The Salesman, which premiered at last year’s festival, featured in the East Coast premiere of the Iranian film Gholam this year.

This year’s festival included more than 40 premieres, including French movie-star Isabelle Huppert’s new film Souvenir; Burt Reynold’s new film Dog YearsBombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story; Yellow Birds, starring Jennifer Aniston, Toni Collette, Alden Ehrenreich and Tye Sheridan, and the timely Bill Nye: Science Guy. Award-winning feature films from the world’s most prestigious festivals (Cannes, Toronto, Sundance, Tribeca, Hamptons) were screened, along with dozens of excellent short films.

Israeli filmmaker Yaniv Segalovich, director of “An Average Story” (Letiferet) which won an audience award, joins Alexandra Gil, curator of the Gold Coast International Film Festival’s short films, for a Q&A, at one of the Free Film Friday events © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The festival featured films from 12 different countries – most that you cannot otherwise get to see – including 1945, from Hungary about a remote Hungarian town preparing for the wedding of the village magistrate’s son, when two Orthodox Jews arrive at the village train station with two coffin-shaped wooden crates, supposedly filled with soaps and perfumes. Is this a harbinger of the return of more Jews? Led by the boorish village magistrate, the townspeople fear that these strangers may be heirs of the village’s denounced and deported Jewish neighbors and have come to claim their family’s stolen property. Paranoia runs rampant, leading to tragic events and a potent, unexpected ending. “While there have been many films about the Holocaust, there are few about its immediate aftermath, when greed and material gain from the Jewish peoples’ demise was pervasive. Director Ferenc Török cleverly captures this often overlooked moment in history where one town’s actions become a metaphor for the moral decay of the whole country. Shot in elegant black and white with an eye for exquisite composition and a minimal evocative score, 1945 is a subtle and nuanced study in the collective guilt and enduring anti-Semitism of postwar Hungary,” wrote Jay Rosenblatt, San Francisco Jewish Film.

The Long Island premiere of The Insult, provided a rare look at modern-day Lebanon. The intelligent, rivetting and politically charged drama focuses on how a minor disagreement between a Christian Phalanges Party supporter and a Palestinian construction foreman sparks an unforgivable insult, which ignites a confrontation of national importance. Celebrity lawyers, TV news, and political leaders get involved in a trial that rips open raw memories of Lebanon’s violent past

Paris Opera, from France, provided a  fascinating, candid behind-the-scenes view of a season at the Paris Opera, following the array of personnel – management, performers, costumers, cleaning crew – even choreographer Benjamin Millepied – who work night after night to bring breathtaking spectacle to this legendary setting.

The New York premiere of Back to Burgundy, from France, is a story of wine, family, family business, and more wine is set amid the gorgeous backdrop of Burgundy, and told with an assured mix of drama and humor. Jean, who had left his childhood home more than ten years ago, returns after his father’s death to reconcile the future of the business with his brother and sister.

This year, GCIFF again presented the work of talented young filmmakers in grades K-12 in its Young Filmmakers Program, presented in partnership with Hofstra University, a festival sponsor.

Alexandra Gil, curator of the Gold Coast International Film Festival’s short films, and Regina Gil, Festival Founder and Executive Director, present awards for short films at a gala luncheon at Neiman Marcus Garden City © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The festival finished on Wednesday November 15 with a Closing Awards Lunch at the cafe at Neiman Marcus Garden City (in Roosevelt Field). Neiman Marcus was a major sponsor of the film festival.  The lunch also launched the Neiman Marcus ”Love to Give” Collection, where 10% of the proceeds from the sale of the ”Love to Give” items goes back to the Gold Coast Arts Center, based in Great Neck, Long Island, which organizes the annual Gold Coast International Film Festival.

For the past 110 years since Neiman Marcus’ founding, said Doris Wilshere, Vice President and General Manager, supporting the arts has been a priority. “It has been of particular interest to the founders. That’s why our partnership with the film festival is important to us. It’s the one budget we are encouraged to spend every $1 of, every year.”

David Kirschenbaum , Neiman Marcus Garden City Director of Public Relations, Regina Gil, Gold Coast International Festival Founder and Executive Director, and Doris Wilshere, Vice President, General Manager of Neiman Marcus Garden City, announce launch of ”Love to Give” Collection, which gives back a share of the purchase to support Gold Coast Arts Center’s programs © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

In addition to Neiman Marcus Garden City, sponsors and partners of this year’s Gold Coast International Film Festival included: founding partners, the Town of North Hempstead and Douglas Elliman Real Estate; major partners, Hofstra University and the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency; GEICO; Deluxe Entertainment Services Group; AARP Long Island; A.L. Sarroff Fund; Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP; The Katz Institute for Women’s Health at Northwell Health; St. Mary’s Kids; Jet Blue; Biener Audi; LVR Rental; The Inn at Great Neck; The Andrew Hotel; WLIW21; Altice; New York Women in Film & Television; Anton Publications; Blank Slate Media; LI Pulse; Edelman Financial Services, LLC; and LOLA of Great Neck.

More information at www.goldcoastfilmfestival.org; facebook.com/gciff.

The Gold Coast International Film Festival is produced by the Gold Coast Arts Center, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting and supporting the arts through education, exhibition, performance and outreach. Gold Coast Arts Center, 113 Middle Neck Road, Great Neck, NY 11021, 516-829-2570, www.goldcoastarts.org.

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© 2017 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com,  www.huffingtonpost.com/author/karen-rubin , and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

 

44th Annual Village Halloween Parade: ‘Cabinet of Curiosities: An Imaginary Menagerie’ Goes on in Act of Defiance by New Yorkers

44th Annual Village Halloween Parade, New York City, 2017 goes on without a hitch, drawing hundreds of thousands of marchers and watchers © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

The Village Halloween Parade, normally an expression of exuberant creativity, this year had an added dimension of courage and defiance. The 44th annual parade went on, on schedule despite a terror attack that took place mere hours before and less than a mile from where tens of thousands of marchers and parade goers were gathering.

In what is New York City’s version of Carnival, the mile-long route along Sixth Avenue was transformed into a bestiary of fantastic hybrids, culled from the hallowed halls of Cryptozoology, fitting in with this year’s theme, “Cabinet of Curiosities: An Imaginary Menagerie”.

The theme was inspired by the likes of PT Barnum’s carnival-esque museum which featured “The Fiji Mermaid,” created with the head of a monkey on a taxidermied fish, and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein – the real and imagined curiosities, made all the more plausible by leading edge technology like CRISPR gene-splicing technology promises to unleash “a host of unholy hybrids into our midst,” said Jeanne Fleming, long-time
Artistic and Producing Director of the Village Halloween Parade.

“Halloween, of course, revels in hybrids, mash-ups and the frisson of crossed identities. So, as we approach Frankenstein’s bicentennial, we are building our own Cabinet of Wonders, the Parade itself!”

Many of the marchers, though, abandoned the theme in favor of subtle (and not subtle) protest, another element of the traditionally irreverent display, with lots of pot-shots at Donald Trump, his administration, and his policies.

Despite the tragic event earlier in the day when eight people were killed and 11 injured when a lone-wolf, self-proclaimed terrorist careened at high speed in a pickup truck one mile down the Hudson River Conservancy bikeway on the Westside Highway, the irreverent, devil-may-care attitude that is hallmark of the Village Parade was still paramount, even with the legions of police with assault weapons – they blended right in.

Political issues come to fore at 2017 Village Halloween Parade, NYCJust a few hours after a terror attack in Lower Manhattan, Governor Andrew Cuomo and NYC Mayor Bill DiBlasio join hundreds of thousands of marchers and onlookers at the Village Halloween Parade: “An attack won’t stop New Yorkers from being New Yorkers,” Cuomo declared. © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

This year’s parade was also distinguished by two of the marchers: Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill DiBlasio, who joined the parade to show solidarity and hammer home the message: Go on with your lives.

The terrorist, Cuomo said, “did not stop New Yorkers from being New Yorkers.” (See also: Village Halloween Parade Goes on Despite Act of Terror, With a Few Messages for Trump)

One of the parade regulars put it more directly, as he embraced the parade’s artistic director Jeanne Fleming, “This is a giant F-U to the terrorists.”

A regular of the Village Halloween Parade with the Parade’s long-time Artistic and Producing Director Jeanne Fleming. The 44th annual parade going on just hours after a horrific terror attack just a mile away, he said, “is a giant F-U to the terrorists.” © 2017 Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

Nothing could stifle was has been appropriately hailed as the “Greatest Event on Earth” by Festival International for October 31st and a top event in NYC by Events International, Citysearch and Biz Bash, the Village Halloween Parade is still the nation’s largest public Halloween celebration, with thousands of costumed marchers, hundreds of Halloween characters, giant masks and puppets, dozens of marching bands playing music from around the world stilt walkers, and street performers that turn the avenue into a mile-long stage.

Village Halloween Parade grand marshal Angelica Vox rides on a float designed by Alexei Kazantsev © 2017 Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

The NYC Village Halloween Parade, which has always encouraged young and upcoming artists, this year selected as grand marshal an up-and-comer, Angelica Vox, who rode up the avenue on a float designed by Alexei Kazantsev, its first ever done in a New Orleans style.

Here are some of the highlights:

44th Annual Village Halloween Parade, New York City, 2017 © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
44th Annual Village Halloween Parade, New York City, 2017 © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
44th Annual Village Halloween Parade, New York City, 2017 © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
44th Annual Village Halloween Parade, New York City, 2017 © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
44th Annual Village Halloween Parade, New York City, 2017 © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
44th Annual Village Halloween Parade, New York City, 2017 © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
44th Annual Village Halloween Parade, New York City, 2017 © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
44th Annual Village Halloween Parade, New York City, 2017 © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
44th Annual Village Halloween Parade, New York City, 2017 © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
44th Annual Village Halloween Parade, New York City, 2017 © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
44th Annual Village Halloween Parade, New York City, 2017 © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
44th Annual Village Halloween Parade, New York City, 2017 © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
44th Annual Village Halloween Parade, New York City, 2017 © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
44th Annual Village Halloween Parade, New York City, 2017 © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
44th Annual Village Halloween Parade, New York City, 2017 © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
44th Annual Village Halloween Parade, New York City, 2017 © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
44th Annual Village Halloween Parade, New York City, 2017 © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
44th Annual Village Halloween Parade, New York City, 2017 © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
44th Annual Village Halloween Parade, New York City, 2017 © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
44th Annual Village Halloween Parade, New York City, 2017 © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
44th Annual Village Halloween Parade, New York City, 2017 © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
44th Annual Village Halloween Parade, New York City, 2017 © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
44th Annual Village Halloween Parade, New York City, 2017 © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
44th Annual Village Halloween Parade, New York City, 2017 © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
44th Annual Village Halloween Parade, New York City, 2017 © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
44th Annual Village Halloween Parade, New York City, 2017 © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
44th Annual Village Halloween Parade, New York City, 2017 © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
44th Annual Village Halloween Parade, New York City, 2017 © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
44th Annual Village Halloween Parade, New York City, 2017 © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
44th Annual Village Halloween Parade, New York City, 2017 © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
44th Annual Village Halloween Parade, New York City, 2017 © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
44th Annual Village Halloween Parade, New York City, 2017 © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
44th Annual Village Halloween Parade, New York City, 2017 © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
44th Annual Village Halloween Parade, New York City, 2017 © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
44th Annual Village Halloween Parade, New York City, 2017 © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

See also:

Village Halloween Parade Goes on Despite Act of Terror, With a Few Messages for Trump

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© 2017 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com,  www.huffingtonpost.com/author/karen-rubin , and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

 

Photos Show Intensity of Action Underway at 2017 US Open Tennis Championships

Gael Monfils of France, seeded 18, defeats Jeremy Chardy of France 7-6, 6-3, 6-4 during the 2017 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, NY © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

Some 87 matches were contested on Wednesday, August 30, to complete Round 1 after a largely rained out Tuesday. Fans were treated to an amazing array of tennis champions.

Here are highlights in photos:

Gael Monfils of France, seeded 18, in action against Jeremy Chardy of France during the 2017 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, NY © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Gael Monfils of France, seeded 18, in action against Jeremy Chardy of France during the 2017 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, NY © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Jeremy Chardy of France tries to stave off fellow countryman Gael Monfils, seeded 16, in Round One match during the 2017 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, NY © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia, seeded 8, in action against left-hander Marketa Vondrousova of Czech Republic, triumphs after losing the first set and going to a tie-break in the third, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6, at the 2017 US Open © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Marketa Vondrousova of Czech Republic in action against 8-seed Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia at 2017 US Open © 2017 Karen Rubin/ news-photos-features.com
Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia serves to Marketa Vondrousova of Czech Republic, at the 2017 US Open © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
David Goffin of Belgium, seeded 9 in action against Julien Benneteau of France, beating him in Round 1 in four sets, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, at the 2017 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, NY © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Julien Benneteau tries to stave off 9-seed David Goffin of Belgium at the 2017 US Open Tennis Championships © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, seeded 10, brought a precision game to defeat Petra Martic of Croatia in straight sets, 6-4, 7-6 in first-round play at the 2017 US Open Tennis championships © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Petra Martic of Croatia in first-round action against 10-seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland at the 2017 US Open Tennis championships © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Lucas Pouille of France, seeded 16, prevails over Jared Donaldson of the USA after five sets (7-5, 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 6-4) in Round 2 action against during the 2017 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, NY © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
One of the most exciting contests of the day, Jared Donaldson of USA brought 16-seeded Lucas Pouille of France to a five-setter in Round 2 of the 2017 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, NY © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Lucas Pouille of France, seeded 16, prevails over Jared Donaldson of the USA after five sets in Round 2 action against during the 2017 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, NY © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Jared Donaldson who came back from two sets down to win the next two sets, was ultimately broken at 5-4 in the 5th set against 16-seed Lucas Pouille of France in Round 2 of the 2017 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, NY © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Shuai Zhang of China, seeded 27, defeated Sabine Lisicki of Germany 6-7, 6-3, 6-0 to move to the second round of the 2017 US Open Championships © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
After winning the first set in a tie-breaker, Sabine Lisicki of Germany lost her first-round match to 27-seed Shuai Zhang of China at the 2017 US Open Championships © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Shuai Zhang of China, seeded 27, in action against Sabine Lisicki of Germany at the 2017 US Open Championships © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Marin Cilic of Croatia, seeded 5, easily dispatched Florian Mayer of Germany, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 to move on to the third round at the 2017 US Open Tennis Championships © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Florian Mayer of Germany was no match for Marin Cilic of Croatia, seeded 5, at the 2017 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, NY © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria, seeded 7, easily dispatches Vaclav Safranek of Czech Republic, 6-1, 6-4, 6-2, on the Grandstand courts at the 2017 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, NY © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Vaclav Safranek of Czech Republic in action against 7-seed Grigor Dimotrov of Bulgaria Round One match during the 2017 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, NY © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Shelby Rogers of Charleston SC, defeated fellow American Kayla Day of Santa Barbara, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 to advance to her second round at the 2017 US Open Tennis Championships © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Kayla Day of Santa Barbara in action against fellow American Shelby Rogers of Charleston SC at the 2017 US Open Tennis Championships © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Icing on the cake: watching tennis great Venus Williams, seeded 9 in the US Open, warming up before her night match in Arthur Ashe Stadium against Oceane Dodin of France, who she went on to defeat in straight sets, 7-5, 6-4 to move on to the third round of the 2017 US Open Tennis Championships © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Venus Williams, who won the US Open Singles title in 2000 and 2001 and Doubles title in 1999 and 2009, has played in 18 US Opens. She holds 49 career singles titles and 22 career doubles titles © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

See also:

32 Qualifiers Win Their Spot in 2017 US Open Tennis Championships

Festive Atmosphere as US Open Tennis Championship Opens Gates to All for Qualifying Matches

____________________

© 2017 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com,  www.huffingtonpost.com/author/karen-rubin , and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

12th Annual Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island Ends on High Note

Dancing to the “hot jazz” of Michael Arenella and His Dreamland Orchestra at the 12th Annual Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island © 2017 Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

 

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

The 12th annual Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governor’s Island nestled between the tip of Manhattan and Brooklyn ended on a high note, Sunday, August 27.

People of all ages, dressed to the nine’s in flapper dresses and glad rags, bearing wicker picnic baskets, stream from the ferries from Manhattan and Brooklyn, onto the island with its forts and structures from the Civil War and World War II. Mere minutes from Manhattan and Brooklyn, and yet a world and an era away.

Dancing the exuberant Peabody © 2017 Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

A celebration of the “hot jazz” and joie de vie of the Roaring ‘20s, the festive event never fails to inspire sheer carefree happiness.  It offers the full complexion, tapestry and vibrancy of New York – people of all ages and stripes turn out and for this all-too-brief time, help turn back the clock.

Conductor, composer, musician and crooner Michael Arenalla and his Dreamland Orchestra create this literal dream, with his meticulously recreated, personally transcribed songbook of the 1920s and 30s.

Michael Arenella comes onto the dance floor © 2017 Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

The entertainment abounds on two stages (and two dance floors): The Dreamland Follies evoke Ziegfeld-esque grand dance routines; Roddy Caravella and the Canarsie Wobblers is a fun-loving dance troupe that conjures the rebellious and exuberant spirit of Roaring ‘20s; Peter Mintun takes the moniker of “world’s greatest piano man”; the Gelber & Manning Band delight with their spirited music.

Roddy Carravella and wife Gretchen Fenston (wearing her own dress and hat creations) demonstrate how to dance The Peabody © 2017 Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

The event on Sunday, August 27, starts with Roddy Caravella and his wife Gretchen Fenston (who is also a milliner and costume designer in addition to being a ballroom dancer) giving a marvelous lesson in dancing The Peabody (which Caravella notes was created in 1915 by William Frank Peabody, a New York police lieutenant, who was a rather portly gent, who nonetheless loved a spirited, fast-paced dance; the innovation is in holding his partner on his right side to accommodate his girth. Caravella walks an enthusiastic group through the various movements: “The steps start and finish toe to toe,” (Caravella refers to gender-neutral “leaders” and “followers”), coming to the part of swirling the partner, “delicately flowering air” and the dipping motion.

A family affair: learning to dance The Peabody © 2017 Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com
Dancing the Peabody © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The afternoon is interspersed with fun activities as well which you can join: Peabody Dance Contest to determine who is the Bee’s Knees; Bathing Beauties and Beaus Promenade, wearing vintage swimming outfits of the age; The High Court of Pie Contest.

Shannon Axelrod of New Jersey and James LaFarge of NYC (right) are declared winners of the Peabody Dance Contest, edging out prior years’ winners Milo Saidl of Czechoslovakia and Michael Mooney of NYC © 2017 Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com
Presenting the winner of the Bathing Beauties Promenade © 2017 Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

The second stage features The Great Dubini and Drew Nugent and the Midnight Society.

You can immortalize the day in your own Vintage Portraits-You Ought To Be In Pictures, perched on a Paper Moons or in tintypes using the same techniques and chemicals (a mixture of gunpowder and ether) as were used more than a century ago; Antique Gramophones reanimate original recordings from the 1920s.

The only thing that bursts the illusion are the ubiquitous cell phones, but being captured in photos and videos streamed to Instagram seems as important to the happening as the music.

Adrienne Smith and Chrissie Capobianco of NYC at the Jazz Age Lawn Party © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

At the end, a rather sentimental Michael Arenella, showing his appreciation to his audience and fans, notes that when he originated the Jazz Age Lawn Party 12 years ago on Governors Island, it was just a small gathering of 50 friends and fans. The event has grown in popularity over the years “because of you,” who do so much to fulfill the look and feel of the 1920s and 30s. Some 20,000 fans come from all over during the course of the two weekends, in June and August.

 

Michael Arenella, who founded the Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island 12 years ago, leading his Dreamland Orchestra © 2017 Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com
Michael Arenella comes onto the dance floor © 2017 Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

Here are highlights of the Jazz Age Lawn Party in photos:

“Paddlin Maddlin” by the Dreamland Follies © 2017 Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com
“Varsity Drag” by Roddy Caravella & The Canarsie Wobblers© 2017 Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com
Dreamland Follies dance “Temptation” choreographed by Jordana Toback © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Roddy Caravella & The Canarsie Wobblers dance “Baltimore Number 2” © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Emcee Robert Ross announces winners of the High Court of Pie contest © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Peter Mintun, “world’s greatest piano man” © 2017 Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com
Bathing Beauties at the Jazz Age Lawn Party © 2017 Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com
Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island © 2017 Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com
Enjoying the atmosphere of the Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Pauline Coley of Connecticut and sister Nicola Coley of Queens © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
One of the Bathing Beauties © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Alison Kelley & Willow the poodle of NYC on the Jazz Age Lawn Party dancefloor © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Can’t wait until next year’s Jazz Age Lawn Party? Michael Arenella also performs at The Clover Club, Flatiron Lounge and the Red Room. Visit www.DreamLandOrchestra.com.

See also: Gatsby-esque Jazz Age Lawn Party is Joyful Escape on Governors Island

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© 2017 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com,  www.huffingtonpost.com/author/karen-rubin , and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

 

32 Qualifiers Win Their Spot in 2017 US Open Tennis Championships

Denis Shapovalov of Canada, seeded #2, earned his spot in the 2017 US Open Tennis Championships after defeating Jan Satral of Czechoslovakia in the third-round of the Qualifying matches © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

32 of the 128 who entered the US Open Qualifying Matches have won their chance to compete in the US Open Tennis Championships – and earned a $50,000 purse, as well – after winning their third round matches. Along the way, top-seeds were toppled, including both the #1 seed in the Men’s tournament (Leonardo Mayer  of Argentina) who fell to 18th seed Maximillan Marterer of Germany in straight sets (4-6, 5-7) and the #1 seed in the Women’s tournament, Su-Wei Hsieh of Taipei, who also was defeated in straight sets to Kaia Kanepi of Estonia, 2-6, 4-6)

Maximillan Marterer of Germany, seeded 18th, defeated the No. 1 seed Leonardo Mayer of Argentina, to secure a place in the 2017 US Open Tennis Championships© 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The popular 2nd seeded man, Denis Shapovalov of Canada, who had to qualify despite zooming up in the rankings from 143rd to 67th in the world after his performance in the Rogers Cup, drew a standing room-only crowd at his third-round match, overcame the loss of the first set tie-breaker, to go on to decisively defeat Jan Satral of Czechoslovakia (6-7, 6-1, 6-3).

Denis Shapovalov of Canada © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Here are highlights from the fourth day of the qualifying matches at the Billie Jean King Tennis Center in Flushing Meadow Park, Queens, New York, and photos of those who have won coveted chance to compete in the 2017 US Open Championships:

 

Leonardo Mayer  ARG-1

Maximillan Marterer GER-18

4-6, 5-7

Leonardo Mayer of Argentina © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Maximillan Marterer of Germany © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

 

JC Aragone-USA

Akira Santillan-AUS

6-3, 2-6, 6-3

 

 

Akira Santillan of Austria © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
JC Aragone of USA © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

 

Su-Wei Hsieh TPE-1

Kaia Kanepi EST

2-6, 4-6

Su-Wei Hsieh of Taipei © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Kaia Kanepi of Estonia © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

 

Denis Shapovalov CAN-2

Jan Satral CZE

6-7, 6-1, 6-3

Denis Shapovalov of Canada © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Jan Satral of Czechoslovakia © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Denis Shapovalov of Canada © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

 

Sachla Vickery USA

Jamie Loeb USA

6-3, 6-4

Sachla Vickery and Jamie Loeb both of the USA © 2017 Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

 

Nicole Gibbs USA-14

Naomi Broady GBR-18

6-4, 4-6, 6-2

Nicole Gibbs of USA © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Naomi Broady of Great Britain © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Nicole Gibbs of USA © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

 

Rebecca Peterson SWE

Miyu Kato JPN

6-7, 6-3, 6-4

Rebecca Peterson of Sweden © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Miyu Kato of Japan © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

 

Michael Mmoh USA-31

Evan King USA

6-3, 6-3

Evan King of USA © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Michael Mmoh of USA © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

 

Nicolas Mahut FRA-14

Stefanos Tsitsipas GRE

7-6, 3-6, 6-0

Nicolas Mahut of France © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Nicolas Mahut of France © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

 

Katernyna Kozlova UKR-10

Anna Schmiedlova SVK

6-1, 6-4, 6-1

Katernyna Kozlova of Ukraine © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Anna Schmiedlova of Slovakia © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

See all the results of the final day of the Qualifiers, http://www.usopen.org/en_US/scores/completed

One of the many pleasures of coming out for the qualifying tournament – on top of seeing world-class tennis close up – is getting a chance to watch the pros practice.

Marin Cilic practicing for the 2017 US Open on the grandstand court © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

This year, the USTA is continuing the tradition of Community Day, which will be held Thursday, Sept. 7, when the gates are thrown open (for free admission) beginning at noon to watch  some of the game’s biggest names in the professional, collegiate and wheelchair ranks, as well as the world’s top juniors. Tournament play features:

  • Men’s and women’s doubles
  • Men’s and women’s wheelchair competition
  • US Open Juniors
  • American Collegiate Invitational

Visit http://www.usopen.org to get daily schedules, results, videos, live streaming.

See also:

Festive Atmosphere as US Open Tennis Championship Opens Gates to All for Qualifying Matches

____________________

© 2017 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com,  www.huffingtonpost.com/author/karen-rubin , and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

Festive Atmosphere as US Open Tennis Championship Opens Gates to All for Qualifying Matches

There’s a festive atmosphere during the days of the Qualifying Matches for the US Open Tennis Championships at the Billie Jean King Tennis Center, Flushing Meadow, NY © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

The US Open Tennis Championship draws tennis fans from around the world to the Billie Jean King Tennis Center in Flushing Meadow Park to what has become a glitzy and elite affair, but the week before the US Open tournament starts, there is the US Open Qualifying Matches, and for New Yorkers, a fabulous festival of tennis when the gates are flung open for all to enjoy.

From August 22-25, there is free admission to watch the US Open Qualifying matches – thrilling high quality play when all is on the line – as well as opportunities to watch your favorite pros on the practice courts (they now post the practice schedule).

Marie Bouzkova of Czechoslovakia practicing for the US Open Tennis Championships © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Lucas Pouille of France practicing for the US Open Tennis Championships © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Dalma Galfi of Hungary working out at the US Open © 2017 Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

There is a festive atmosphere and an amazingly intimate quality to being able to watch the matches close up, from prime seats.

This year, you will see an amazing transformation underway – construction is still going on for what will be the completely new Armstrong stadium.

The grounds are impressive, despite the construction underway (and during the Qualifying rounds, you see all the preparations and set-up activity, as well), with gorgeous views of the iconic Unisphere, the centerpiece of the 1964 World’s Fair at Flushing Meadow Park, and a Walk of Champions.

Su-Wei Hsieh of Taipei, seeded 1 in the Qualifiers defeated Kelly Chen of USA 3-6, 6-2, 7-6 © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Kelly Chen of USA gave #1 seed Su-Wei Hsieh of Taipei, a run, going to third set tie-break on Day 1 of US Open Qualifying matches © 2017 Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

The Qualifying Matches, when more than 100 players from around the world fight for a coveted spot in the Open, are exciting to watch. If they make it through three rounds of the Qualifying tournament, they will earn their spot to play in the Open; 16 out of 128 will advance. The matches are fabulous, and what is more, you can see the players really up close, you can wander around from match to match. I love the match-ups of nations: China versus a Chinese-American player; Russia versus Italy, as well as seeing how the challengers do against seeded players.

In fact, the quality of the competition rivals for your time and attention from the opportunity to watch Tennis Royalty warming up in the new Grandstand, as well as the practice courts.

Despite powerful shot-making, Xinyun Han of China, seeded 17, is defeated by Vera Zvonareva of Russia 7-6, 6-1 © 2017 Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com
Vera Zvonareva of Russia defeats Xinyun Han of China, seeded 17, 7-6, 6-1 © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Here, too, you can see the greats from a perch you would never have during the actual tournament.

The four days of matches are free and the festival atmosphere is enhanced with special events including Children’s Day activities, musical presentations, and the excitement of seeing the world’s best players practicing. You never know who you will encounter.

The quality of play at the qualifying matches is superb, and Everyday Joes have front-row seats to the intense action. It’s particular fun to wander from match to match.

Asia Muhammad of the USA, seeded 24, despite powerful shot-making, was defeated by Riko Sawayanagi of Japan, © 2017 Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com
Riko Sawayanagi of Japan, who took advantage of Asia Muhammad’s apparent injury in the third set to win, 2-6, 7-6, 6-3 © 2017 Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

This year, the US TA is continuing the tradition of Community Day, which will be held Thursday, Sept. 7, when the gates are thrown open (for free admission) beginning at noon to watch  some of the game’s biggest names in the professional, collegiate and wheelchair ranks, as well as the world’s top juniors. Tournament play features:

  • Men’s and women’s doubles
  • Men’s and women’s wheelchair competition
  • US Open Juniors
  • American Collegiate Invitational
Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, seeded 7, was defeated by Camilla Rosatello of Italy in three sets © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Camilla Rosatello of Italy overcomes the power and fury of 7-seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus to win 7-5, 4-6, 3-6 © 2017 Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

Visit http://www.usopen.org to get daily schedules, results, videos, live streaming.

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© 2017 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com,  www.huffingtonpost.com/author/karen-rubin , and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

Great American Eclipse Over New York City

The Great American Solar Eclipse, August 21, 2017, as experienced in Long Island City, NYC © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

New York City experienced 75% partial solar eclipse during the Great American Eclipse on August 21, 2017.Still, the views were exciting, since the sky was mostly clear, except, ironically, for a sudden build-up of clouds during the period of totality. Still, the clouds cleared for some good shots. The experience provided an excellent warm-up for the next total eclipse April 8, 2024, when the path of totality crosses upstate New York

I was actually able to photograph the International Space Station crossing in front of the sun, with the moon on the waning side of its journey across.

That speck is the International Space Station crossing the sun as the moon completes its passage during the Great American Eclipse, August 21, 2017 © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com
The Great American Eclipse as experienced from Gantry Plaza State Park, Long Island City, August 21, 2017 © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The Great American Solar Eclipse, August 21, 2017, as experienced in Long Island City, NYC © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The Great American Solar Eclipse, August 21, 2017, as experienced in Long Island City, NYC © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The Great American Solar Eclipse, August 21, 2017, as experienced in Long Island City, NYC © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
International Space Station crossing the sun as the moon completes its passage during the Great American Eclipse, August 21, 2017 © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The Great American Solar Eclipse, August 21, 2017, as experienced in Long Island City, NYC  © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
David & Laini take part in the Great American Solar Eclipse from Gantry Plaza State Park, Long Island City, NYC © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

‘Monkey Business’ Documentary Paints Touching Portraits of ‘Curious George’ Creators Hans & Margret Rey

Poster for new documentary “Monkey Business: The Adventures of Curious George’s Creators,” which uses animation to tell the story of Hans and Margret Rey (courtesy of The Orchard, film distributor).

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

Unlike Ema Ryan Yamazaki, the director of the new documentary “Monkey Business: The Adventures of Curious George’s Creators,” who became enchanted with Curious George as a child in Japan, I only became a fan of that impish monkey whose curiosity always gets him into trouble, when I saw an exhibit at the Jewish Museum in New York City that showed how his adventures actually mirrored the real-life adventures of its creators, the artist Hans Rey and his wife Margret, who made a harrowing escape from the Holocaust by bicycle, just steps ahead of the Nazi invasion.

Yamazaki’s documentary engagingly and cleverly incorporates animation that blends seamlessly into Rey’s own drawings along with traditional documentary techniques – newsreels, artifacts, interviews – to tell their story, which is on one level, a story about their devoted relationship and the creative process but also one of survival.

Newsreels show the context of Hans and Margret’s lives as German Jews born to upper middle class families in Germany, how dire and entrenched the economic depression became after World War I, a war that Hans, still a teenager, was recruited into as a medic. But most chilling were the images of the rise of Nazism in Germany as a response to rampant desperation, the bombing of Paris, the tanks rolling into the city, the storming of Nazi soldiers, and the long lines of people desperately trying to leave.

Hans and Margret Rey fleeing Paris on their bicycles, a scene from the documentary “Monkey Business: The Adventures of Curious George’s Creators” which merges animated images with archival footage (courtesy of The Orchard, film distributor).

The film uses an animated images of the couple fleeing Paris on the bicycles that Hans built out of spare parts (because none were available), and traces their harrowing journey to get to a train, then a port in order to flee to Portugal, a neutral country, and ultimately the United States. You see them passing by the Statue of Liberty, and their words (from interviews) of reaction: that they were finally free, in a country where everything is possible, the Land of Opportunity.

Without being preachy or hitting you over the head, the scenes are chilling echoes of what is happening today, with the greatest flight of refugees from genocide, terrorism, violence, economic deprivation, and famine since World War II.

And yet, the scenes are done without horror and brutality; instead, there is emphasis on the strangers they would call upon to give them a place to sleep and food to eat on their journey.

During the Reys’ flight, they were able to carry out only what they could fit into a bicycle basket, but they brought out the completed manuscript of the first “Curious George” book ( the character was named Fifi then) and they had the check for an advance for future books, which financed their journey.

In one scene, recreated in animation, they are stopped by thuggish police who go through their possessions, then, coming upon the book with the adorable monkey, they soften and let them pass through.

Curious George saves their lives.

And the character gave them new life in the United States.

They contact a sister who lives in Long Island who knows a book editor who turns out to be a refugee from Europe, as well, who knows their work, and immediately contracts for four books, with an advance of just $1000 (probably the best deal Houghton-Mifflin ever made).

The movie is absolutely charming and frank in describing the two different personalities, from interviews with the children, now Baby Boomer senior citizens themselves, who knew them from Waterville Valley, New Hampshire, where the couple spent summers.

An interesting note: the 1950s, we are reminded, was a period of intense anti-Semitism in the United States and Waterville Valley was not exactly welcoming to the German Jewish couple. But because of the children, who played and swam with Hans (he would play turtle with them) and watched Hans draw his character and were completely enchanted by him (Margret was described kindly as standoffish and severe, “to put it kindly”), the parents warmed up as well.

We get to know them – Margret as an independent minded, nontraditional, no-nonsense woman who was a calculating businessperson (she launched herself in advertising), who wrote the text for the books and was the “curious” one; and Hans, the “mischievous” one, who was good-humored, easy-going, and loved being with the children. He was the one who would feed squirrels (digging a tunnel so they could reach his house without crossing a road), who built a bird-feeder that the squirrels couldn’t get to and a squirrel-feeder the birds couldn’t get to. At one point, Lay Lee Ong, library executor of the Rey Estate, notes that their relationship was not based on love, and yet, they completed each other and were devoted to each other and indeed, the sum of the duo was greatly more than each one alone.

As Margret says, Curious George’s curiosity gets him into trouble, but his ingenuity gets him out of it.

Anyone who grew up loving Curious George, loves the process of making art and creating children’s books, would be fascinated, but it is also a study in relationships and a genuine drama, an adventure that resonates so strongly today.

Monkey Business is narrated by Sam Waterston (“Grace and Frankie,” “The Newsroom,” “Law And Order,” whose sister was one of the Reys’ neighbors in Waterville Valley) and is the directorial debut of filmmaker Ema Ryan Yamazaki, and animated by Jacob Kafka.

Jacob Kafka, the chief animator of “Monkey Business: The Adventures of Curios George’s Creators,” with Rodney Uhler, programmer of the Gold Coast Cinema Series takes questions from the audience after a screening the documentary © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

At the screening as part of the ongoing Gold Coast Arts Center’s International Film Festival at the BowTie movie theater in Great Neck, Long Island, discussed the film in a Q&A.

Kafka, the son of a rabbi and a seismologist who has been making movies since he was five years old, in addition to making animated short films, developed the animation software for ROUGHANIMATOR for mobile devices which has been used by animators worldwide, was for a full year the only full-time animator.

Indeed, one of the most impressive aspects of the film biography is the animation, so novel for a documentary, but so appropriate for telling the Reys’ story. It is remarkable how Kafka was able to reproduce Hans Rey’s own style so seamlessly, literally animating Hans’ drawings.

“I tried as best I could to copy his style.” Indeed, the still characters take on movement and life because of his animation.

He said that the film utilizes some 15,000 individual drawings – each one hand-drawn (rather than computer-animated) – averaging 10 per second of film. Hans Rey would typically insert Margret and himself into the drawing, so he based his images of them on Hans’ own depictions.

“Each is hand-drawn, frame by frame. We ultimately had a team of 8-9 people – but only two were full time, and for the first year, it was just me. The background designer drew anything that doesn’t move; anything that moves, I drew. After a kickstarter campaign last year, we were able to bring on other animators.”

Jacob Kafka, the chief animator of “Monkey Business: The Adventures of Curios George’s Creators,” says some 15,000 images, each hand-drawn, were created for the documentary © 2017 Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

It was decided early on to use animation in the documentary because there was very little actual footage of the Reys. Though they did many television interviews in the 1960s and 1970s, at that time, nothing was saved.

Among the interesting elements that were discovered, was overturning the myth (which Hans enjoyed perpetuating)  that while Hans was in Brazil, working for his brother-in-law’s import/export business, that he went up and down the Amazon River selling bathtubs. Though Hans traveled on the Amazon to see the jungle life (capturing images of monkeys, no doubt that figured into his Curious George creation), it wasn’t to sell bathtubs which would be absurd. That was a common truth that Hans indulged, and appears in many biographies, but was completely untrue, Kafka said, but only discovered well into making the film (there are scenes of Hans selling bathtubs to the tribal people along the Amazon).

But what they never uncovered was the origin of the character of the Man in the Yellow Hat.

Production on the documentary began three years ago and was finished in January. Asked whether the current refugee crisis figured into the making, he said it was coincidental timing, but became more and more relevant, especially because of director Ema Ryan Yamazaki, who grew up in Japan, had her own immigrant experience.

In an interview at the Nantucket Film Festival, she said, “I read Curious George growing up in Japan. I just assumed he was a Japanese monkey, and it was only many years later when I realized he was so international. I didn’t know anything about the authors of Curious George – I think we rarely get the chance to ask, ‘who wrote our great children’s books?’ and once I asked, what I found was incredible.”(See more of her interview at http://nantucketfilmfestival.org/blog/2017/6/22/five-questions-with-ema-ryan-yamazaki-director-of-monkey-business-the-adventures-of-curious-georges-creators and more about the director at www.emaexplorations.com)

Lay Lee Ong, library executor of the Rey Estate, has been successful in keeping alive and reviving Curious George – with movies, PBS, and a new generation of artists carrying on the tradition.

“Monkey Business: The Adventures of Curious George’s Creators,” which had its Los Angeles premiere in June and has been making rounds of film festivals (has been an official selection of the Los Angeles Film Festival, Nantucket Film Festival, and Rooftop Film Series before coming to the 2017 Summer Gold Coast Cinema Series), will be available online and on demand August 15 on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Comcast, TWC and others (see curiousgeorgedocumentary.com).

The 7th Annual Gold Coast International Film Festival will take place November 7-14, 2017 at venues across the town of North Hempstead, on Long Island’s fabled North Shore. (goldcoastfilmfestival.org).

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© 2017 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com,  www.huffingtonpost.com/author/karen-rubin , and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

Alan Gilbert, in His Final Season Leading NY Philharmonic, Conducts Big Hug-and-Kiss to New Yorkers in Free Parks Concerts

Alan Gilbert, in his final season as music director of the New York Philharmonic, conducts the orchestra in the free summer Concerts in the Parks series in Cunningham Park, Queens © 2017 Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

 

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

 

This year’s New York Philharmonic Concerts in the Parks – its 52nd summer – provided a way to say farewell to Music Director Alan Gilbert. The series, presented for the past 11 years by Didi and Oscar Schafer, was a hug and a kiss to the 100,000 music lovers who come out to the free summer concerts (“priceless music, absolutely free”), at the Great Lawn in Central Park, Manhattan; Cunningham Park, Queens; Prospect Park, Brooklyn and Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx. This season’s program was also the Philharmonic’s 175th anniversary season celebration of its hometown, featuring masterworks by Dvořák (Symphony No. 9, From the New World), Leonard Bernstein (Symphonic Dances from West Side Story), and George Gershwin (An American in Paris) — all written in New York and premiered by the Philharmonic  – and was the culmination of its season-long “The New World Initiative”.

Throughout the 2016–17 season, The New World Initiative has explored the New World Symphony’s theme of home and honors New York City and its role as an adopted home. The Philharmonic gave the World Premiere of the New World Symphony in 1893, marking the Orchestra’s first World Premiere of a work written in New York City that would become part of the standard repertoire. The Largo theme was later set to the words “Goin’ Home” by Dvořák’s student William Arms Fisher.

New York Philharmonic conductor Alan Gilbert conducts a community sing-along of “Goin Home” them from Dvořák’s New World Symphony, all part of The New World Initiative and the Philharmonic’s 175th anniversary season celebration of its hometown © 2017 Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

The New York Philharmonic’s free parks concerts have become an iconic New York summer experience since they began in 1965, transforming parks throughout the New York area into a patchwork of picnickers, and providing music lovers with an opportunity to hear the best classical music under the stars. More than 14 million listeners have been delighted by the performances since their inception.

Before the New York Philharmonic takes the stage, it has become a new custom to “Share the Stage” with local musicians. This year, that included BombaYo (Van Cortlandt Park); The Ebony Hillbillies and Zulal (Central Park), The queen’s Cartoonists and Slum Suit (Cunningham Park) and The Side Project (Prospect Park).

And at this year’s concerts in the parks series, audiences joined the Orchestra in community performances of the “Goin’ Home” theme from Dvořák’s New World Symphony, all part of The New World Initiative and the Philharmonic’s 175th anniversary season celebration of its hometown. (Dvořák’s  symphony also incorporates the Shaker hymn, “Simple Gifts.”)

We caught the concert at Cunningham Park, in Queens, which also featured fireworks display.

Alan Gilbert, in his final season as music director of the New York Philharmonic, conducts the orchestra in the free summer Concerts in the Parks series in Cunningham Park, Queens © 2017 Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

The program was a crowd-pleaser – the Symphonic Dances from West Side Story were simply transporting – and Gilbert looked extremely relaxed and joyful.

Alan Gilbert, who has stepped down as music director of NY Philharmonic, just revealed that he will be trading New York for Hamburg, Germany, leading the Elbphilharmonie Orchestra in the new Elbphilharmonie concert hall as chief conductor.

Alan Gilbert, in his final season as music director of the New York Philharmonic, conducts the orchestra in the free summer Concerts in the Parks series in Cunningham Park, Queens © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

In a phone interview with the New York Times, Gilbert, a frequent guest conductor in Hamburg, said that the Elbphilharmonie’s vision aligned perfectly with his own paradigm for successful 21st-century orchestras. “It’s about how they connect to the cities they serve,” he said. “And one condition for that is the existence of a perfectly appropriate physical space. What’s going on there is related to what’s potentially going to happen here in New York with the idea of redoing David Geffen Hall.”

Gilbert bids farewell to New York in the parks concert program, writing, “It has been a privilege to stand upon this august platform and make decisions that have altered and enhanced New York City’s cultural landscape. When this Orchestra does artistic things, they are noticed, and they inspire others, far and wide. Ultimately, I know my tenure is just one chapter in the Philharmonic’s long story, and I look forward to seeing what comes next.”

Alan Gilbert, in his final season as music director of the New York Philharmonic, conducts the orchestra in the free summer Concerts in the Parks series in Cunningham Park, Queens © 2017 Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

As Music Director of the New York Philharmonic since 2009, Alan Gilbert has introduced the positions of The Marie-Josée Kravis Composer-in-Residence, The Mary and James G. Wallach Artist-in-Residence, and Artist-in-Association; CONTACT!, the new-music series; the NY PHIL BIENNIAL, an exploration of today’s music; and the New York Philharmonic Global Academy, partnerships with cultural institutions to offer training of pre-professional musicians, often alongside performance residencies. The Financial Times called him “the imaginative maestro-impresario in residence.”

Alan Gilbert conducts the New York Philharmonic in Cunningham Park, Queens © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Alan Gilbert concludes his final season as Music Director with four programs that reflect themes, works, and musicians that hold particular meaning for him, including Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony alongside Schoenberg’s A Survivor from Warsaw, Wagner’s complete Das Rheingold in concert, and an exploration of how music can effect positive change in the world. Other highlights include four World Premieres, Mahler’s Fourth Symphony, Ligeti’s Mysteries of the Macabre, and Manhattan, performed live to film. He also leads the Orchestra on the EUROPE / SPRING 2017 tour and in performance residencies in Shanghai and Santa Barbara. Past highlights include acclaimed stagings of Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre, Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen, Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd starring Bryn Terfel and Emma Thompson (2015 Emmy nomination), and Honegger’s Joan of Arc at the Stake starring Marion Cotillard; 28 World Premieres; a tribute to Boulez and Stucky during the 2016 NY PHIL BIENNIAL; The Nielsen Project; the Verdi Requiem and Bach’s B-minor Mass; the score from 2001: A Space Odyssey, performed live to film; Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony on the tenth anniversary of 9/11; performing violin in Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time; and ten tours around the world.

Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic take bow at the end of the concert in Cunningham Park, Queens © 2017 Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

Conductor laureate of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and former principal guest conductor of Hamburg’s NDR Symphony Orchestra, Alan Gilbert regularly conducts leading orchestras around the world. This season he returns to the foremost European orchestras, including the Leipzig Gewandhaus, Munich Philharmonic, Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw, and Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia. He will record Beethoven’s complete piano concertos with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields and Inon Barnatan, and conduct Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess at Milan’s Teatro alla Scala, his first time leading a staged opera there. He made his acclaimed Metropolitan Opera debut conducting John Adams’s Doctor Atomic in 2008, the DVD of which received a Grammy Award, and he conducted Messiaen’s Des Canyons aux étoiles on a recent album recorded live at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. Mr. Gilbert is Director of Conducting and Orchestral Studies at The Juilliard School, where he holds the William Schuman Chair in Musical Studies. His honors include Honorary Doctor of Music degrees from The Curtis Institute of Music (2010) and Westminster Choir College (2016), Columbia University’s Ditson Conductor’s Award (2011), election to The American Academy of Arts & Sciences (2014), a Foreign Policy Association Medal for his commitment to cultural diplomacy (2015), Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (2015), and New York University’s Lewis Rudin Award for Exemplary Service to New York City (2016).

Here are some parting shots of the meistro.

Alan Gilbert conducts the New York Philharmonic in Cunningham Park, Queens © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Alan Gilbert conducts the New York Philharmonic in Cunningham Park, Queens © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Alan Gilbert conducts the New York Philharmonic in Cunningham Park, Queens © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Alan Gilbert conducts the New York Philharmonic in Cunningham Park, Queens © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic take bow at the end of the concert in Cunningham Park, Queens © 2017 Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

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© 2017 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com,  www.huffingtonpost.com/author/karen-rubin , and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures