Friday, August 23, 2013


 It’s the Vienna City Square 1978 at a public concert where the mayor is honoring Nina Simone (Amber Iman).  She is vamping the song, “Am Yisrael Chai” (keep Israel alive) and introduces Shlomo.   This is Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach (Eric Anderson) who has been singing and “bringing light to people all across the world.”  He is playing the guitar and accompanied by the Holy Beggars Band who enter down the steps from the audience and make their way to the stage continuing with this song. 

There is protest from Reb Pinkas (Ron Orbach), Shlomo’s teacher, who is reminding him of what occurred here during the holocaust.  As Shlomo talks about the Reb, the scene changes to the year 1938 where he and his brother Eli Chiam are playing ball during “Shabbiss” They want to enjoy themselves and the Reb says, “Being a Jew is about pain and suffering. Joy is for the Genitiles.”  
Their father gets a letter stating that they must leave Austria in seven days.  With the Torah that has been passed down for generations the move is to New York City.  (What did you expect?).   1941, Shlomo is intent on reading the Talmud and his father starting a congregation.   There have been several songs.  In fact, expect to hear 35 numbers of an approximate 2 hour show with one interpishon. 

As the two boys age, Eli Chiam will be “swept up by the Chassidim who will be dressed in long coats and wearing “peyos”, long curly sideburns.   After much Jewish culture the scene changes to 1957 and Columbia University for a “wild Rosh Hashana dance”.   The brothers, now singing together, are told that they need to “jazz it up” and given a flyer to attend the Smoky Piano Bar.

Scene change with Nina singing “I Put A Spell On You” as Shlomo enters.  He is captured by the music and her.  Nina will never get his name correctly and will pronounce it as “Shaylimo”.   There will be plenty of funny lines in this show.  She explains how it feels to be black and he explains his past in Vienna.   They each realize that they must live their dream as Shlomo sings, “Ki Va Moed” (The time has come). 

Shlomo is invited to a Baptist Church that Nina sings at.   He is inspired by the energy.   As he leaves he is confronted by the Reb and his father.   However, the Reb makes negative remarks about the “schvartzes” and with that Shlomo’s father, a rabbi at his temple, fires Reb Pinkas.  Shlomo’s  father wants him to become a “traditional rabbi”.  Shlomo says that he must do his thing and hands over his prayer shall.

Scene change to Washington Square where a chat with a “blind guitarist” who calls him a “Soul Doctor”.  Shlomo admits that that is what he wants to be.  It is at this point that Shlomo is taught how to play the guitar.

As the show continues songs will be sung that encourage the audience to clap along, but done so when the audience at the theatre is the audience that the performers are playing to.

Rather than continue with the plot line which includes San Francisco’s Haight Asbury (which is a reminder of “Hair” and the beginning reminiscent of “Fiddler on the Roof”). Amber Iman sings only a few numbers and certainly makes a hit with the audience.   Eric Anderson get deserving  thunderous applause many times.    At one point, Shlomo meets Ruth (Zarah Mahler), who has fallen in love with him…love not returned.  She gets a solo with “I Was A Sparrow” which certainly shows off her singing talent.   

As for the show itself, if you are not Jewish or understand the Jewish culture, this may only be enjoyable in regards to the songs,  energy of the show and the humor.   Soul Doctor music was written by the actual Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach and is meant to depict his life, with some “less truths”.  Who cares?   See it at Circle In The Square Theatre.  Ki Va Moed.

Thursday, August 22, 2013


Let me get this "straight". The wannabee US dictator Governor of New Jersey doesn't want to pass the same-sex marriage law....BUT...wants to pass a law allowing medical weed for children. Got it. Six year old says to mom..."Can I have the car keys. I need to go to Dr. Highman and get a prescription for my weed. Should I get a little extra...if you know what I mean. After all, I'm too young to bake a batch of brownies."

Saturday, August 17, 2013


Take the leading man and woman, add a Greek Chorus, decent music and comedy.    Combine with a good script that you can follow with talented actors.   What you have is a Broadway musical comedy that works. 

Curtain up at a wine bar as men and women are talking having obviously meeting for the first time.  Opening number as scene changes to a West Village gastropub .  Aaron (Zachary Levi) enters dressed in a suit, glasses and nervous.    He’s here on a first blind date to meet Casey (Krysta Rodriguez) funky, pretty and cool looking who has “blind dated” a lot.   It appears that Casey’s sister, Lauren (Sara Chase) has set this up.  Aaron has ordered a “manly beer” and Casey, upon seeing Aaron orders a “something strong” and a chaser “that is stronger”.

Let me first give you the logistics of the other actors who are part of the “Greek Chorus”, each changing roles and only in the minds of either Casey or Aaron.   Each time the imagination comes to play, the scene freezes. 

We have the waiter (Blake Hammond) who will also take the imaginary roles of Casey’s father, a priest as well as a friendly therapist.   Reggie (Kristoffer Cusick) portrays Casey’s gay BFF who is set to bail her out.  He also takes on the role of an Edgy Rocker Guy.  Aaron will also imagine his last girlfriend Allison (Kate Loprest) talking to him.

In conversation, Casey and Aaron find something in common.  Casey grew up in an area of Michigan that Aaron attended summer camp.   Names are thrown out of who knows who.   “Should we continue playing Jewish Geography?” asks Aaron.  “I’m good at this game, even if I’m not a Jew”, she replies.  Patrons now become a “Jewish Chorus” to sing “This Isn’t the Girl For You”, starring Grandma Ida (Sara Chase).  Aaron’s imagination includes Casey’s father.  This is by far the best and funniest production number.

I have to admit that the script does have a lot of clichés and each of the three leads get their solo.  Blake Hammond shows off his singing talent with “I’d Order Love”.   Rodriguez, formerly from the tv show Smash, does her thing with the song, “Safer”.   Toward the end of the show, Levi gets his turn with “In Love With You”. 

Let’s not forget Cusick as Reggie singing “Bailout Song #2”.   He is quite the hilarious one. 

Blind Date is playing at the Longacre Theatre, and performed without an interpishon.    This may not get nominations but well worth seeing for some good laughs. 

Friday, August 16, 2013


With the mayoral race going on here in NYC, the democrats had a television debate.  Ads are out there, of course.  Take Bill Thompson who makes it clear that his parents or grandparents came from the Caribbeans and blah, blah, blah.  Very clear on "race".  Bill de Blasio (who had changed his name from a German sounding one) has his son, in an afro, doing a commercial. Too bad his eyes can't focus on the camera as it's very clear that he is reading the lines.  Ads show his wife, who is black.  Interesting to find out that his wife was a professed lesbian.  It makes me wonder about the marriage and as to whether they conceived making the son and daughter or "pass the turkey baster".   Also left out is a former brochure where the daughter is wearing a gun charm around her neck that wound up getting "air brushed".  So, are we getting a message from his wife that if you find the "right man" you will no longer be a lesbian?  

Would you believe that Anthony Weiner is still in this?   I so hope that Christine Quinn wins!


Comedian-singer-actress Dana Lorge has been entertaining for many years.  I believe I met her in the mid 70s both working as "extras" in a movie.  Both living in Queens and a bit of the same ilk.  I left show biz, she didn't.  Lately she has been hosting an array of talent in some of the New York City nite clubs.  This particular evening took me to the Metropolitan Room, located at 34 W. 22nd Street.

The lineup started with singer-actor Richard Skipper

followed by jazz singer Sue Matsuki.

Dana did her comic banter in between each performer the next being Nicolas Tamagna, a countertenor who sang two songs each in a different range.

We then had Sidney Myer, who does the bookings for Don't Tell Mama

and lastly, pianist-singer Mark Nadler who had us in much laughter performing his rendition of "I Love A Piano".  

There is a cover charge and drink minimum at this venue.  I decided to indulge in a drink called "Cosmo-Pear-Itan" made with Absolute Pear Vodka, pear nectar, triple sec and lime.  Delicious.
Being just a bit hungry I opted for the Mediterranean plate consisting of: olive tapenade with feta cheese; roasted red peppers and artichoke tapenade; stuffed grape leaf, hummus, mixed olives and enough mini-pita breads to accompany.  There was certainly no disappointment on taste.  Filling enough for one person.  Sharing if you already had dinner. 

Dana Lorge will be back there on September 8th for a late afternoon lineup: Judy Scott; Vivian Reed, Frans Bloom, Yaffa, and Lois Morton.  Dana certainly has a great snack for delivering talent and that includes herself.


In Queens, unless you're at an airport, metered taxis are not flagged down.  You have to call a car service.  Having a driver that is not on his cellphone or rude is not the easiest to find.  I'm just looking for a pleasant and safe ride as well as one that is not overpriced.  With all of the car services that I have used Big Q stands out.  Every driver has always been polite, obeys the laws, and very helpful as I have difficulty walking.  What's more is that when they say, "five minutes", they mean it.  So, kudos goes to this car service!  718-846-4500


It was in 1979 that I searched for a nearby "beauty parlor" in Woodhaven in order to get a decent haircut.  My hair is sort of curly-wavy and prefer the cut at to be one that I don't have to do any more than a quick comb or just puff it up with my fingers. I am also not interested in spending $50 for this. 

I checked out what was then "Charles Hairstylists" or something like that, located on Woodhaven Blvd. just south of Jamaica Avenue.  Joan cut my hair and eventually colored it to cover up the gray.  Even the combination didn't reach the $50 mark. Two moves later Valentine Hair Designer moved into an already existing "beauty salon" at 95-16 Jamaica Avenue.  It's not uncommon for another owner to rent "chairs". 

The place looks great, I let my hair go gray, and I'm still not paying anywhere near $50!  It's also a lot easier when the same person over the years and yes, Joan is still snipping. Larry, the second partner,  tends to be the person cutting men's hair and more of a "stylist".  718-441-6571. 


Did you watch the tv show, "3rd Rock From The Sun"?   If so, have you ever wondered what happened to that actor who played the "son"?   His name is Joseph Gordon-Levitt and just directed and starred in the soon to be releases movie, "Don Jon". 

Jon Martello (Levitt) portrays a modern day Don Juan who manages to get women classified as "10s".  That's fine accept for his watching porn on the internet.  His family consists of: his dad, Jon Martello, Sr. (Tony Danza), who finds pride in his son's "nailing"; his mom Angela (Glenne Headly) who is hoping for grandchildren; and his sister, Monica (Brie Larson) who is always seen communicating with her iphone or whatever gadget it is. 

Don meets Barbara Sugerman (Scarlett Johansson) and forms a relationship.  She finds out about his watching porn and asks him to promise that the won't do that, since she is "the real thing".  But, he's addicted.

As a "good Catholic" he goes to church with his family each week with many scenes in the confessional.  It's not unusual for the next scene to take place at the gym with is pumping iron while reciting some "Hail Marys" and "Our fathers".  

He takes a class at a college and meets Esther (Julianne Moore), who is standing outside of the school door crying.  She is much older than him and into smoking pot.  They become friends.

What we have here is a comedy with some very funny situations and lines.  Funny, but not hilarious.  The  porn is shown as he views it on his computer.  Let's call it partial nudity.  Some breasts, no nipples. Certainly nothing to see regarding men.

See this one for a good laugh.  

Monday, August 12, 2013


Oscar nominations will be abundant when it comes to the new Lee Daniels movie, The Butler, written by Danny Strong.  The acting and directing is flawless not to mention an all-star cast.  "Absorbing", "compelling", and "captivating" are just some of the adjectives to describe a drama that captures the Civil Rights Movement as Cecil Gaines (Forrest Whittaker) portrays a White House butler who serves eight presidents.

As a young boy, Cecil is working in the cotton fields with his father during the 1920's.  Plantation family member pulls his mother, Hattie Pearl, (Mariah Carey) aside to rape her. Dad speaks out and gets shot.  Annabell Westfall (Vanessa Redgrave), a matriarch family member of the plantation is feeling sorry for Cecil.  She trains him to be a "House Nigger".

Older now Cecil leaves and wanders to find himself hungry.  Seeing some cakes in a hotel window (at least I think it was a hotel), he breaks the glass and enters.  Staff worker Maynard (Clarence Williams III) catches him and winds up giving him a job serving after asking what he has been doing. When Cecil uses the word, "Nigger", Maynard reprimands him and tells him that the word is used in a negative way by white people.

We skip a few years as Cecil is married to Gloria (Oprah Winfrey) and has two sons. He is noticed by the White House staff in charge of jobs and is offered the butler position, where Dwight D. Eisenhower (Robin Williams) is now the President.

During the course of the movie various aspects of the Civil Rights Movement are taking place.  Many of the scenes are actual footage of the violence.  Birmingham riots, school integration, and the sit-in incidence at the Greensboro, NC Woolworth's are entwined with Cecil going from one president to the next.

Home life with the family centers on his problematic relationships with  both a boozy Gloria and Cecil's older son Louis. Louis is quite the rebellious one, knocking his dad for being a butler, going off to college and getting involved with the Civil Rights Movement including becoming a Black Panthers member and hopping on the Freedom Rider Bus.  Louis gets beat up a number of times as well as finding time in a jail cell.

What comes to play in this movie centers on the two positions of father and son, which at one point becomes estranged.  Cecil is willing to deal with the way blacks are treated wanting to keep his job and as we go from one President to another, something involving Civil Rights comes up and slowly gets accomplished.   Both share an accomplishment in 2008 when Obama gets elected.

Over at the White House we have butler staff to include: Lenny Kravitz, Cuba Gooding, Jr and Terrance Howard.  John Cusack portrays Richard Nixon, while Jane Fonda takes on the role of Nancy Reagan. Don't look for spot on portrayals.

The movie theatre was totally packed and not a sound was heard during the entire movie accept for a few scenes that deserved some chuckles. You certainly won't go away without being emotional moved.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


Here’s my take on the population of Queens County.  Within the last 20 years immigrants from all over the world were eying the US for residency.  With their saved up cash and just about more than the clothes on their back, they all flew into JFK.  No money left to go anywhere else they found a place to live. Needing to earn a living a decision was made to open up a restaurant.   Thus you find just about any cuisine in Queens.

Having a total variety of cuisines from Asia, I recently ventured to Thailand Kitchen located at 86-05 Jamaica Avenue (718-847-4700) to sample more than my usual Pad Thai.  Please keep in mind that the sampling was not done in one sitting or on the same day.   Yes, I do get full.

I tend to judge a Thai restaurant on its Pad Thai, a dish consisting of Thai rice noodles sautéed with egg, dried bean curd, bean sprouts, ground peanuts, and green onions. With an added choice of chicken, beef, tofu, vegetables or vegetarian duck, I tend to find it to be a “safe” dish as well as “passing my test”.   

Spicy food is not my thing, but I do want to be fair.  In fact I take my friend Deveka along with me as nothing seems too spicy for her.  I chose one safe salad and one spicy soup. Glass Noodle Salad uses translucent vermicelli noodles that are made from mung bean starch. Add minced chicken and shrimp, chili, onions and cilantro, topped with a lime dressing.  Per my request the chili was not added.

On a more recent occasion, we sampled the Mango Salad of julienne mango and carrots with red onions and lime dressing.  Me thinks that I communicated my spicy situation regarding the glass noodles and forgot to mention on this salad as the dressing is quite hot but so tasty.  I viewed chili flakes.   My Thai iced coffee was of great use having the milk in it.  


Lemongrass Shrimp Soup, better known as Tom Yom, is a hot and sour soup with lemongrass and galanga root, a white-fleshed root from Thailand that is used as a substitute for ginger. What makes the soup hot is the chili pepper. However, I found that this particular chili doesn’t circulate around my whole mouth and make it unbearable. It hits that back of my throat and within a few lovin’ spoonfuls I am able to build up a tolerance and appreciate the excellent flavors of the soup.

As a change on soup choices, I did order the Coconut Chicken Soup that uses coconut milk, galanga, kaffir lime and scallions. It’s quite good and not as spicy as Tom Yom.

Back to the appetizers.  Spare ribs here on not of the Chinese ilk.  They are deep fried with garlic and pepper, accompanied by a sweet and spicy sauce for dipping.  No dipping for me.   I found them to be tender and savory.  

Crispy Spring Rolls seem to be made different in each Asian cuisine.  Thai style is filled with glass noodles, cabbage and vegetables.  I also loved the Shrimp Fritters, a sort of fried wontons filled with ground shrimp and chicken served with that sweet chili sauce. Then, there are the Chicken Wings in the sweet Chili sauce.  They were not coated with bread crumbs or flour and the sweet chili sauce, scallions and cilantro gave it an added flavor to the freshness of the wings.

Deveka was being “vegetarian” for a while. Thus I ordered the Emerald vegetarian dumplings served with a ginger soy sauce. Quite a good mixture in the dumplings tasting just fine without any meat.  

At this time I stray from the Pad Thai and selected the Drunk Man Noodle dish with chicken.   Wide wheat based noodles are used in this vs. the Pad Thai cooked with rice noodles.  It was sautéed with chili, onions, vegetables and basil that is not the same as basil used in Italian dishes.  Dealt with the chili to find how delectable the combination is. 

Sauteed is another group listed on the menu and one of many groups that you choose from: chicken, tofu, veggie, duck, beef, or shrimp and priced by the chosen protein.   We opted for total veggie with the Japanese Eggplant in Hot Sweet Basil.  It was sautéed with fresh garlic, onions and chili with a basil sauce. Tofu was the protein.  Deveka was thrilled and I loved it as well. 

On a different visit I guess that I was in the mood for chicken as the Grilled Lemongrass Chicken was one of the Specialties that I opted for.  The marinated half of a chicken is served with a plum sauce and some veggies. The marinade is not spicy and the plum chili sauce is perfect as even though it had a bit of spiciness, the plum adds a bit of sweetness.

There are only a few desserts to choose from, one of which is the fried ice cream.  Vanilla ice cream is thickly coated so that when fried, the crust becomes crispy without the ice cream melting.  Topped with whipped cream and some chocolate sauce swirls.   I’m full just writing about this! 

Here are few other photos that I took after going back.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


For those of us who had been attending performances at Queens Theatre In The Park...better known as "QTIP"...Jeffrey Rosenstock was running the show as the Executive Director.   It was only a few years ago that he retired.  Well, at least I thought that he retired from that type of work.  It appears that Jeffrey has been working for another performance venue along with Artistic Director Leon Denmark.  For those of us who had been attending performances at Colden Center...the name had changed, but not to protect the innocent.  It is now the Kupferberg Center for the Performing Arts named after a long time alumni couple.

There has been some recent renovations and the whole center looks fabulous.  The front of the building that houses the Colden Auditorium now has a box office on the outside as well as one one in the lobby, which looks great, as well.

As a student, I recall a theatre and one that I never got to be on the stage of as I had no interest in the particular plays that were being performed.  The theatre and communications wing had what was called, "The Little Theatre".  Then there was Colden Auditorium where, twice,  I was one of the master of ceremonies for an entertainment contest.  Although I was amazed at seeing such a large audience, I wasn't nervous.  What I particularly loved about this venue was the acoustics.

The Goldstein Theatre, as it is now called, did not have the greatest acoustics but had, and still has, all of the tech that Broadway theatre has including an orchestra pit.  So, here's the thing. It's called,
Kupferberg Presents the entertainment hub of the Kupferberg Center for the Arts at Queens College.

The  2013-14 Season features a vibrant lineup of world-class cultural events, concerts and family
programs at Colden Auditorium, LeFrak Concert Hall, Goldstein Theatre, and select off-campus
locations to  the 2.2 million residents of New York City's most diverse borough. 

KCA is comprised of eight partner organizations including Kupferberg Presents, the Aaron Copland
School of Music, the Godwin-Ternbech Museum, the Louis Armstrong House Museum, Queens College Art Center, Queens College Department of Drama, Theater & Dance, and the Queens College Evening Reading Series. 

What's the lineup?  Here's a sneak peek as the season opens with Audra McDonald (Porgy and Bess on Broadway), who will be joined onstage by a jazz ensemble for an intimate evening of song, on Saturday, October 5th at 8p.m.

Next is a special one night only performance by Balé Folclórico da Bahia, the dynamic 25-member troupe of dancers, musicians and singers, often cited as the best dance company in Brazil.  Performing a repertoire based on “Bahian” folklore dances of African origins, this explosive display of dance, music, drama, and color comes to the Colden Auditorium on Friday, October 18th at 8 p.m.

So here's the 411 from Kup. 
AUDRA MCDONALD: Saturday, October 5 at 8:00 PM –  Colden Auditorium
BALE FOLCLORICO DA BAHIA: Friday, October 18 at 8:00 PM – Colden Auditorium
CYNDI LAUPER “She’s So Unusual 30th Anniversary Tour”: Sunday, October 20 at 7:00 PM – Colden Auditorium
VALERIE SIMPSON: Saturday, December 14 at 8:00 PM – LeFrak Concert Hall
BALLET HISPANICO: Saturday, February 8 at 8:00 PM and Sunday, February 9 at 3:00 PM – Goldstein Theatre
CHRISTINE ANDREAS: Friday, February 14 at 8:00 PM – LeFrak Concert Hall
BARBARA COOK: Saturday, May 10 at 8:00 PM – Colden Auditorium