The Finalists for the 66th National Book Awards have been determined, with the Longlist of 10 titles being winnowed down to a Shortlist of 5 in each of the categories of Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry and Young People’s Literature respectively. It seems every year there is a category wherein any number of the Finalists could possibly get the prize, whereas perhaps in another there is often a book that seems foreordained to get the top honor – due to aspects ranging from a Finalist nominee being a notable author with prior nominations yet no Grand Prizes; a groundswell of popular or critical acclaim distinguishing one of the titles from the rest; or circumstances in the political or social sphere in America that serve to make a certain book timely or “important” in terms of the national dialogue.
Following up from the great ‘Discover Georgia in New York’ event that took place in the Chelsea Market from September 25-27, and which enabled visitors to acquaint themselves with the fashion, art, food and wine products of the ancient Caucasus nation, aficionados of that land’s culture had an opportunity to savor the viticultural products of the region in depth at a wine tasting held at the Astor Center on October 6. Although Georgian wines have been available in the US for some years, the occasion was only the second time that a “critical mass” of these – representing many different wineries and major areas – have been presented to American oenophiles, with the broad assortment poured displaying the diverse styles and rich history of over 8,000 vintages cultivated.
Philippe Petit’s daring 1974 tightrope walk between the legendary Twin Towers as portrayed by a mostly French cast led by an American film crew and actor. When news of the construction of the World Trade Center’s signature Twin Towers reaches France, street performer Philippe Petit sees more than just a structural marvel. He sees an opportunity to make the coup of a lifetime by walking a tightrope the 140-foot distance between the towers, over 1,300 feet above the streets of New York City. His elaborate scheme requires meticulous planning, highly involved mechanical physics, and, of course, a team of equally subversive insurgents eager to ensure perfection in its execution just weeks after the buildings are opened to the public.
Artist David Craig Ellis’ current show at Venticinque, 162 Fifth Ave Brooklyn NY, is a fascinating rare view into his working process. The show is entirely a collection of morning drawings taken from his sketchbook and framed and presented on the walls of this Park Slope Cafe.
The Summer Fancy Food Show and the Gay Pride Parade both celebrating victories this year in New York. Fancy Food inaugurated the first ever Specialty Food Week in New York and the LGBTQ community celebrated the historic Supreme Court ruling. 2,500 exhibitors showcased 180,000 products, thankfully not all of them food or I wouldn’t have been able to finish the show. There were some interesting new products this year that made it worth spending three days trudging through NYC’s infamous Javits Center. These are the ten food items that are worth you tracking them down and trying them with your friends and family.
By any measure, it is truly a golden era for food in the United States, and particularly with regards to the specialty foods industry. A niche that hardly existed 50 years ago, specialty foods sales have achieved a record high of $109 billion, accounting for nearly 15 percent of all retail food sales in the U.S. While it may now seem to have been inevitable that a nation with a populace as diverse, large and steadily growing as that in America would embrace the development of an increasingly abundant variety of food products and cuisines, it nonetheless took some visionaries to recognize the potential for the growth in this area and to cultivate the means of delivering such a bounty to what has become an ever expanding marketplace.
The first time I laid eyes upon the statuette given to the winners of the SOFI™ Awards – the annual honors recognizing outstanding achievement in the realm of specialty foods – I detected a distinct familiarity about the form, but couldn’t immediately place it. While the figure is fundamentally modeled on ‘Oscar’, the three-dimensional logo of the Academy Awards, in that it is bisymmetrical, golden, standing erect, and holding an object (appositely a serving platter instead of a sword), there was another aspect to it that struck me as reminiscent of an iconic predecessor – namely, the head. The SOFI statuette, you see, is apparently wearing a chef’s toque, but not one that is clearly delineated; rather the sculpting is more evocative than realistic, so that the abstracted headwear resembles as much a bulbous projection extending the cranium as a hat sitting atop it.
And then I had it – the SOFI statue is a Kanamit!
The annual Academy Awards celebrations are arguably the dullest shows on tv, given the insipid thank-you speeches that name that the audience knows or cares to know. That means there’s only one reason that people watch, and that’s to look at the clothing that the stars are wearing. Since men don only the traditional tux and bow tie, only the women are worth admiring for their taste in threads. And that’s where Christian Dior comes in.
While so many aspects of Scottish heritage have influenced North American culture that it’s easy to take them for granted, it’s always a grand occasion to celebrate them during Tartan Week, which will be unfolding from April 6-11. The expanding slate of events, featuring daily concerts, parties, and of course capped off by the 17th Annual Tartan Day Parade down Sixth Avenue on Saturday, April 11th, was announced at St. Andrews restaurant, at 140 West 46 Street – a site of a number of the events in store.
If you are lucky enough to know Dave Ellis, you might know him as a painter, a musician, a writer, or a specialized contractor designing and building custom recording studios for a veritable who’s who of the music world. I am lucky enough to know him in all of these personas. To put it simply Dave Ellis is a man and a half. Make a trip to Venticinque at 162 Fifth Ave in Park Slope and you will be treated to a show of ten of his paintings all created in 2014.