Monday, September 30, 2013

Why Stamford is a great place to live in

I could have entitled this blog: We commemorate the end of the Third quarter with 10 good reasons to celebrate living in Stamford and looking forward to the fourth quarter.

 1. The weather has been great the last few days temps in the 70's and cloudless skies and there is no finer place than Stamford downtown to dine alfresco; the restaurant patrons have been out today at tables set up in front of San Remos Pizza and Lucky's Restaurant basking in the sun.

 2. The road maintenance crews do a great follow-up job; during the summer they dug up streets laying new pvc tubings; they are now out in full force in my neighborhood preparing the roads to lay down new smooth surfaces.

 3. Stamford's Ferguson library has been hosting The Civility in America series with the support  of Mayor Pavia and the City of Stamford , The Dilenschneider Group,  Purdue,  Hearst Media Services and Sacred Heart University. We have been fortunate to hear Senator Olympia Snow, Faye Vincent, William Bratton and Joel Klein  to name a few personages.

 Set aside Tuesday, October 15th at 6 PM.  S.Georgia Nugent, past president of Kenyon College in Ohio is an advocate for liberal arts education. She will be speaking about Civility in American Society.

 4. Stamford Downtown hosts an outdoor summer art show entitled Art in Public Places. This summer thanks to presenting sponsor SAC CAPITAL ADVISORS and many other local supporters, we had 43 sculptures by 18 artists. 

 5. Our town has other permanent outdoor pieces such as J. Seward Johnson's Uninvited Advice. See the slide show by clicking here.

 6. The Curtain Call theater has been  presenting free outdoor Shakespeare performances On the Green for the last 14 years. . This year we enjoyed Othello under the stars.

  In nearby Rowayton, Shakespeare on the Sound performed As You Like it

 7. Major stars host performances in our town. Art Garfunkel, a classmate of mine, can be seen at Stamford's Ferguson library on November 8, 2013.

 8. Mill River Park has recently opened. Designed as a downtown oasis of walking paths, lawns, cherry trees, plants, benches, a carousel, skating rink and fountain, the Park now consists of 12 acres and will grow in future years to 28 acres.

     Projected cost will be $60 million. of which $14 million has been raised.

 9. Excellent public schools is another draw.

  Success Symposium 2013, featuring a panel of educators, will discuss strategies for public education. David Kirp, professor of Public Policy at UC Berkeley, is the keynote speaker. It airs at Ferguson Library this Wednesday, October 2nd from 4 to 6 p.m.

 10. Stamford hospital boasts the Van Munching facility, one of the Northeast's premier acute inpatient rehabilitation centers.

All of the above are good reasons Stamford stands out....

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Part III: Yes, Deborah Needleman gets it right in the August 25th issue of T Magazine, Women's Fashions. Juxtapositions: The Writer's Room, Rooney Mara and The Value of Things.

How did we arrive here?

 There's Part I orchestrated by Kristina O'neill of WSJ. and Part II discussing the first 80 pages of T Magazine which is a segue to where we are heading.

We are discussing the form and content of T Magazine under the leadership of Deborah Needleman.  One question posed earlier is: does she get it right?

Part II ended with "Let's fast forward to page 246, the last of the featured articles."

But how did I arrive precisely at page 246?

I began trolling the FALL FASHION ISSUE section beginning on page 201(with its intriguing collage of four photographs) which pointed me to my port of call.

(Quaere: Why does this section include no ads, display an intro page with a collage of four photographs, then begin with This is Rooney Mara  and conclude with the Writer's Habitat?)

Rooney Mara
(courtesy of

My trolling began with discovering Rooney Mara, especially enhanced by the entrancing 76 second misty and magical On Set video shot by photographer David Sims 

Rooney is iconic on many levels-- evoking strong shades of Audrey Hepburn, the deceased yet timeless, elusive, reclusive and reticent star of cinema and fashion. 

I then  landed at the seemingly familiar bookshelf images of writers Jonathan Lethem and Julian Barnes on pages 247 and 248 respectively.

Here is a section entitled --The Writer's Room-- devoted to the working habitat (surroundings of significance) of five notable writers who are about to release their next book.

With photographs by John Spinks -- minus the flair and excitement of the first 80 pages--we glimpse the minimalist working environment of these authors.

All that is needed to inspire each one- "a view from Rome, a pristine computer screen , a photograph of a Basquiat, an I.B.M. 196c typewriter, the ghost of another author"--is found "within these walls."

Author, Jhumpa Lahiri
(in the small print below authors's name : Winner of the Pulitzer Prize)

I then spotted the page featuring Jhumpa Lahiri.

Her room is bare but for a small desk once belonging to a cardiologist. Her desk faces the Alban Hills and the Apennines. Her terrace, which opens just to the right of her desk, offers magnificent views of the Forum and the Palatine of Rome.

What interested me most is a bold text inset which reads:

In "The Lowland" (Knopf), Lahiri offers a sweeping and poignant tale of two brothers separated by geography and ideology. 

I immediately placed a hold on the book at my local library which has 49 holds on 38 en route copies.

A few days ago, much to my surprise, I learned that the book had made the short list of the prestigious 2013 Man Booker prize.

After my discovery of this Writer's Room, I turned back to the editor's letter on page 82.

Ms. Needleman, who joined T as its editor just about a year ago, is 'right on' with her remarks and guiding philosophy.

Her page carries this title: THE VALUE OF THINGS

She discusses the same Writer's Room article (as I have just done); she  expends her entire column of about 400 words to expand on the idea that the items these writers cherish the most are important to them because of the symbolic meaning they possess.

Their enduring quality, in my estimation, is the result of the ideational and emotional attachment they assign to them. 

The editor expresses her desire for permanence of the physical object in this way:  "Living in an age when most things are both digital and disposable creates an even more intense longing for physical objects that speak to you and will remain in your life."

Fashion comes and goes. What is hot today is passe tomorrow.

And a lot passes for fashion.

There is plenty to chose from in this issue as there are over 150 pages of ads.

The Mona Lisa painting by Leonardo da vinci
at the Louvre Museum, Paris
Courtesy of Wikipedia

But it is the rarest of art (and artists) that is/are worthy of ascending and entering the pantheon of the greats, the truly timeless and priceless. Two such examples we can all agree on are The Mona Lisa pictured above and Venus de Milo pictured below.

Venus de Milo
Louvre Museum, Paris
Courtesy of Wikipedia 

The artist struggles with his medium to extract order, meaning, grace and beauty out of the chaos of this material world replete with "the faded bouquets of urine," and "your sororities of pain and darkened subways" as Major Jackson pens it in his poem Beach Readings.(Click here for A Picture and a Poem/ Beach Readings by Alex Katz and Major Jackson; also on page 198 of T.)

Jackson contrasts the spiritually uplifting, refreshing and seaside pleasures of vacationing on Cocoa Beach, Florida with the harsh, crude, squalid and hence depressing realities of living in New York.

Wallace Stevens, one of the great poets of the last century, depicted the aforementioned artist's struggle in his classic poem The Idea of Order at Key West:
         Oh blessed rage for order, pale Ramon
         The maker's rage to order words of the sea,
         Words of the fragrant portal, dimly starred
         And of ourselves and of our origins,
         In ghostlier demarcations, keener sounds.
Ms. Needleman has done her job well presenting us with  high quality objects,things and stuff to experience, digest and contemplate.

It is for us-- the influential reader of the Times-- to chime in.

Do you agree with my comments, observations and conclusions?

Let our voices be heard.

Let the games begin.

What is you opinion?



Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Part II: The New York Times T Women's Fashion Magazine of August 25, 2013: Does Deborah Needleman get it right?

Front cover from The New York Times
Women's Fashion issue, published August 25, 2013
This is Rooney Mara

For Part I, discussing the WSJ. Magazine of Women's Fashions published on September 8th, click here.

What better way to is there to determine if the NYT Fashion issue gets it right than consulting the posted "mission statement" for  T The New York Times Magazine

The 'mission statement' for the NYT Style Magazine is two-fold: Here is a direct quote from

T: The New York Times Style Magazine strives to be the most influential, creative culture style magazine in the world, connecting with the reader by viewing fashion and style through the prism of culture with quality as our filter. (italics mine)

T magazine's world-class journalists examine, analyze and edit the cultural moment we live in setting the tone for conversation embraced by our influential readers. (italics mine)

It's up to you and me- we readers-to evaluate T's success in striving to be a major catalyst of conversation for us the "influential readers."

It's my intent to get the conversation flowing by discussing my own observations and responses.

Now, before getting to Deborah Needlemen's poignant editor's letter....a few preliminaries....

Deborah Needleman, Editor in Chief of T Magazines
Now in her second year at the Helm
(Photo courtesy of

The magazine is 254 pages thick.

The reader must travel through nearly 80 pages of ads before  arriving at the Table of Contents.

What a delightful cruise it is..

One shouldn't  just quickly sail through these pages:  the ads are arresting beginning with a four page pullout of four Giorgi Armani's black and white fall fashion patterns gracing, hugging and flowing from the tall lithe figure of one iconic model.

(Quaere: On whether "models be timeless icons rather than anonymous faces" see Picture Perfect and the family-run DNA agency, page 192.)

Not to be outdone, The Ralph Lauren Collection is spread out over the next five (5) pages. The ads are of tight-fitting black and white three-piece outfits (the 'third' piece is a black Captains's naval cap) with the ladies port- side  the yacht.

Jewelry, shoes, luggage and a striking red handbag with the RL logo are also featured.

Chanel, Estee Lauder, Gucci, Prada, Calvin Klein and Ferragamo follow--all emphasizing solid black and white as well as salt and pepper outfits.

And the list goes on: Bloomingdales, Burberry, Tod's, Bottega Veneta, Celine, Balenciaga...

A MUST STOP along the way: a 7 (yes, SEVEN) page Tommy Hilfiger fold-out for his University Club Collection (carpe-diem manana) beginning on page 101.

Let's fast forward  to page 246--the last of the featured articles.

This is the end of Part II.

Jhumpa Lahiri will be featured in Part III

Why is Ms. Lahiri a significant part of the T Magazines's editorial letter?

 Part III provides some answers:  Juxtaposition of The Writer's Rooms, Rooney Mara and the The Value of Things. Why does Deborah Needleman get it right? (click here for Part III)

Monday, September 16, 2013

Kudos to two fall ladies fashion magazines: WSJ. from the Wall Street Journal and T , The New York Times Style Magazine

In a recent post, on Why I Blog, I briefly touched on the success of fashion print magazines such as Vogue, Elle and Harper's Bazaar--especially the September issues.

First there's Vogue weighing in with 902 pages total and 663 ad pages; next comes Elle with 652 pages total and 442 ad pages. Heavy, indeed.

Not bad for those who say PRINT IS DEAD!

However, of greater interest to me are the two fall fashion magazines of our two most prominent newspapers: WSJ. The Wall Street Journal Magazine and the New York Times Style Magazine.

Cover of the Wall Street Journal Magazine
September 2013, Women's Style

Both magazines are a pleasure to peruse and read. (If you don't have copies. get them from your local library.) They are also available online.

The ads are beautifully designed and do effortlessly and seamlessly --with a little bit of help-- lead us gracefully to intriguing articles.

Isn't that what top of the line magazine journalism is supposed to do--to draw us into the mostly textual sections that can and should matter to us, perhaps, even make a difference in our lives?

Put another way, the sensuality of the models and products featured in the ads are designed to quicken our senses- male and female- then goad us to open up our wallets and buy!

Isn't that our expectation?

Then, hopefully, we should be in a frame of mind to expect and then, indeed, discover the quality of journalism that is the mark of these two papers.

The Times is 252 total pages and WSJ. is 160 pages. (Size is not the issue--it's layout, it's content. Agreed?)

Each has museum quality ads from Ralph Lauren, Armani and Chanel vying for the front and back cover ads -- as usual. After all, this publication is a showcase for their wares and they will renew their ads only if pleased with placement and quality of layout and content of articles.

With some 75 plus full page ads dominating the WSJ. publication, what room is there left  for content?

Sounds like a tug of war of sorts: ads fund the publication and hence must be prominent -- but should this bottom line consideration be at the 'expense' of articles?

The Editor's Letter offers a clue as to what to expect in each. So, kudos to both editors Kristina O'Neill of WSJ. and to Deborah Needleman of the Times.

Kristina O'Neill, Editor in Chief of WSJ. She
replaced Deborah Needleman who moved over to T Magazine 
(Photo courtesy of

In her Editor's Letter entitled Hidden Treasures, the globe-trotting Kristina first flies southward to South America where she heaps praises on Inhotim "an extraordinary installation of contemporary art in southeastern Brazil." She then directs our 'sails' to a Parisian superstar designer, the "effortlessly chic" Isabel Marant.

Her itinerary then has us fly across the Channel to London where "we spend time with founders of Saturday Group, fashion consultants who wear a dazzling array of creative hats."

Other venues include Sir Richard Branson's private game reserve Ulusaba in South Africa -- to 'meet' daughter Holly and her brother and a meeting with Guido Palau "the legendary hair stylist whose creativity is behind some of fashion's most iconic moments."

Collage of Venice from Wikipedia: at the top left is 
the Piazza San Marco, followed by a view of the city,
 the the Grand Canal and (smaller) the interior
 of La Fenice and lastly the island of San Giorgio Maggiore

The destination that impressed me the most is the Venice Biennale.

Why the Biennale?

It has lots and lots of outdoor public art especially in the Giardini and I am a great fan of public art!

My keen interest in public art and magazine media is depicted and exemplified by many blogs (ranging from the Rodin exhibit at the sculpture garden of the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University,  Stamford's Downtown Outdoor Art in Public Places exhibits, to Kandinsky and Picasso at the Guggenheim and Kandinsky: His Paris Years 1906-1907 and as editor and publisher of Brooklyn's Community Magazine ).

Cover of Mort Walker's The Best of Times
featuring original artwork by Mort 

I also served as advertising director at Mort Walker's Best of Times Magazine. (Mort just turned 90 and is as spright and alert as a man 30 years his junior).

I am fascinated by Venice -- a city I visited as a teenager -- where every two years "the city is transformed into a grand exhibition of contemporary artwork from around the globe."  It is as Mera Rubell said "so incredible because the contemporary art interacts with the historical context..."

The online slide show is a pleasure to scroll through as we encounter the portraits of the artists and curators and gallerists and collectors. The outstanding photography is by Daniel Jackson.

The article inspires me to visit Venice for the next Biennale. Any joiners out there?

Thank you WSJ. and staff and I look forward to your Men's Style issue just posted online.

Look for my hopefully shorter blog on T, The New York Times August/Fall Fashion Ladies Style Magazine. (Click here)

The August 25, 2013 cover of the Women's Fashion Issue
from the New York Times Style Magazine

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Documentary film about Berlin Rabbi and activist Joachim Prinz aired on November 2nd. See this interview with the producers.

Rabbi Joachim Prinz (1902-1988) speaking at
The March for Jobs and Freedom, August 28,1963

My recent blog remembered Berlin Rabbi Joachim Prinz (1902-1988) a civil rights activist who spoke eloquently at the 1963 March for Jobs and Freedom.

A documentary film about his life entitled I Shall Not be Silent debuted  at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, NJ on November 2. 

In the movie, one of the interviewees tells us that she " met many people in Israel who say they would not be free--they would not be alive-- were it not for Rabbi Prinz."

Another says "his [Rabbi Prinz] attitude was the purpose of the Synagogue is to break down the walls of the sanctuary and take the value system of this ancient tradition into the streets."  

New Jersey TV News's Mike Schneider interviewed the two Rachel's, Rachel Pasternak and Rachel  Fisher about their making of the film. Here is link to the compelling and extensive interview that aired on Thanksgiving.

The project was partially funded through Kickstarter. 

September 11, 2001--Lest we forget

Dick Wolf's first novel, The Intercept, is a winner

Two points worth noting, dear reader.

First, this book captivated me from the start and I could not put it down, literally 'consuming' it in two sittings.

Secondly, though I have not met Dick Wolf--as I read his first novel and followed his detailed descriptions of Manhattan's Chelsea district, midtown  and East Sides --I kept telling myself here's a guy I am going to have to meet sometime, someplace, somehow...

I felt he's sharing a part of me that I already know.

This book won't disappoint you.

It begins with an attempted hijack of a NYC bound flight by a bungling true believer and his subjugation by a group of six passengers, who become national heroes.

It is the week of July 4th and NYC is getting ready to celebrate the dedication of the World Trade Center's Ground Zero Memorial where the Six are to be honored.

Enter the book's hero Jeremy Fisk an NYPD detective who is recruited into the JTTF (joint terrorism task force) investigation.

Without disclosing the plot,  I'll only mention that Fisk and his female assistant Krina Gersten smell a rat and dedicate their energies to tracking down a Saudi passenger (one of the Six) who they implicate in a terrorist attack to sabotage the July 4th celebration at Ground Zero.

How they use one of  the latest techniques --steganography--(see page 72)--to track down one man in over 10 million residents of the city is fascinating; I won't spoil the fun.

This book is guaranteed to keep you on edge and you will have vignettes that feature Osama bin Laden , NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg, President Obama and even NBC's Matt Lauer.

So enjoy the fun and let me hear your description of the experience.

Meanwhile, welcome Dick Wolf to the art of spinning a great tale!

I look forward to your next novel in the Fisk series.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Why I Blog? Serendipity, of course, from September Fashion Magazines to Taschen's Gustav Klimt edited by Tobias G. Natter

Front Cover of Taschen's book:  Gustav Klimt, The Complete Paintings 

Here is the exciting part of blogging--the serendipity of discovering one's passions, one's  likes and dislikes.

It is early on a Monday morning and I begin my day first with some tea --a perfect blend of raspberry and green teas.

 I have at least  FIVE  blogging subjects--PRIORITIZED-- that are beckoning me.

I begin with the first one, a discussion of the September phenomenon in the women's fashion world that begins with the ad-laden issues of Vogue, Elle, InStyle, Harper's Bazaar, WSJ., (The Wall Street Journal Magazine) and The New York Times Style Magazine.

(My daughter is interning for a PR firm that is covering Fashion Week and she is  is texting --several times daily -- photos of herself  'modeling' different outfits-- though ostensibly she was 'hired' to supervise other interns and write press releases. Maya also appeared on front covers of Brooklyn's Communty Magazine--a hint to my fascination with style as well as content in print media.)

I am not that thrilled by the task ahead: it's easy, but dull to find online the number of ad pages in the top finishers: Vogue at 663 and  Elle at 442.  Combined that's well over 1,000 pages.

Thus, one could conclude emphatically that print is not dead.

 Without much enthusiasm, I then apply myself to the rather mundane task of counting the number of ad pages in WSJ. (78) and skim over the articles. 

To break the boredom, I head into the kitchen to brew a cup of java--and while there, I espy an XL format (11.5 x 15.5 in., 659 pp.) Taschen release of Gustav Klimt edited by Tobias Natter.

The book is captivating to the eye and senses- a rare treasure of 659 pages weighing over 20 pounds.

The tome is the strongest comment on the enduring power of  a monumental Austrian artist (Gustav Klimt 1862-1918) who knew how to paint the most sensuous portraits of beautiful Viennese aristocratic ladies.

One such lady was Adele Bloch Bauer. whose  portrait graces the walls of the Neue Galerie in New York City.

So, to my amazement, I am sidetracked  by the Klimt book whose praises I would love to sing in a blog: its many full page plates, foldouts and blowups found throughout.

Hallelujah for blogging by an acolyte. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Record number of comments on New York Times article about the N.S.A foiling safeguards of privacy on web

One day after the New York Times published a front page lead story on abuses of privacy on the web by the N.S.A., 1466 readers have weighed in on this breaking story.

Commenting on the Snowdon documents supplied to the Times by Britain's Guardian newspaper, Jill Abramson executive editor of the Times said that "our default position  is to inform the public." 

What is your position on the balance between national security versus personal privacy?

What role does the Fourth Amendment (provides protection against unreasonable searches and seizures) play in the mix of arguments?

Are you outaraged by the N.S.A's methods to access information, or do you think this modus operandi is to be expected in a culture that relies so heavily on internet communication?

(After all wasn't the internet created  by the US Government exclusively for its own top secret military communications? )

Read the stories and comments (as I have done) and decide for yourself.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Does Obama have the power to declare war? Highlights from the Senate Hearing on limited US military force in Syria

First kudos to C-SPAN for covering live the entire 3.5 hours of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing yesterday and then repeating it again in the early morning hours.

All the senators are to applauded for asking the three Obama officials Secretary of State Kerry, Chairman of  the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel-- all the right questions.

One of the key issues discussed is: does Obama have the power to authorize a limited military action with no American boots on Syrian soil-- under the constitution's War Powers Clause of Article I, Section 8 --which specifically grants Congress the power to declare war.

Here is the link to the 10 minute exchange between Senator Ron Paul and Secretary of State John Kerry recorded on youtube which explores the issue.

You decide for yourself.

To view the entire first session click here.

The hearings continue today on C-SPAN with Kerry, Hegel and Dempsey appearing in front of the House Foreign Affairs Committee at noon.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee could vote on the resolution as early as today!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Stamford's collection of permanent outdoor art: J. Seward Johnson's Unwanted Advice

Good morning Stamford,  J. Seward Johnson's Uninvited Advice sculpture, a part of the permanent sculptures in Stamford Downtown, is featured in this slide show.

About 20 years ago, when I was working in Henderson, Nevada, I fell in love with 6 of Johnson's outdoor sculptures, which are permanently displayed in their downtown.

It's a fascinating and inspiring piece and I promise to elaborate and expand this brief blog shortly-so tune back in .

Meanwhile, enjoy.....

Former Rabbi of Berlin and civil rights activist speaks eloquently at the 1963 March for Jobs and Freedom

 Rabbi Joachim Prinz (1902-1988) speaking at
The March for Jobs and Freedom August 28, 1963

He was the renowned Rabbi of the Jewish community in Berlin under the Hitler regime.

He was often arrested and jailed by the Gestapo and each time released.

He urged his fellow Jews to escape.  Some listened to him and those that did owe their lives to him. 

His name was Rabbi Joachim Prinz. 

In this speech at the 1963 March for jobs and freedom, he eloquently speaks for just over six minutes. 

He emphasizes that "bigotry and hatred are not the most urgent problem. The most urgent, the most shameful and the most tragic problem is silence. A great people which created a great civilization had become a nation of silent onlookers."

His speech preceded that of Dr. Martin Luther King. 

Here is an audio link to his six minute and 34 second speech.

A documentary film on his life has just aired and here is a link to an extensive interview with the two producers on New Jersey TV News.

Here is the official  trailer to the film, Joachim Prinz: I Shall Not be Silent. (click here)