Pinball in New York

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Early in December Le Chéile, a newly-opened restaurant in Washington Heights, hosted its first annual pinball competition. It drove in nearly 100 participants who vied for a grand prize of over $2500. Many of the competitors comprised the small, yet strong community that has persevered and kept pinball alive today with regular tournaments and leagues. Not all of the players at Le Chéile were hardcore “silver-ballers,” but all agreed on one thing: pinball is back on the rise.


The Sculptor

The annual Winter’s Eve Festival at Lincoln Square  celebrated its twelfth year on Monday. Just days before the Rockefeller Center lighting commences Christmas season in New York, this less known festival kicked off the holiday season with a tree lighting of its own.

From Lincoln Square to Columbus circle the festival incorporated live bands, ice sculpting and food tents, which sold everything from hot-chocolate to spicy crunchy tuna rolls.

Among the performers was Ben Grasso, sculpting a giant nut-cracker. Grasso, 27, studied painting at CUNY Hunter before he began a five-year stint carving ice. He acknowledged the difficulty of his trade, but said he would rather create something expressive. Or at least something more intricate than a nutcracker.  Nevertheless, Grasso is a quality craftsman who wields a motorized ice-pick with exactitude and precision.

OWS: “Day of Action”

Two months ago a contingent of disgruntled citizens established themselves in a small park in New York’s  Financial District to “Occupy” Wall Street. Their inchoate movement has turned a leaf since that fateful day in September and garnered support from cities around the world; offshoot “occupy” movements have sprouted up in myriad American cities, from Dallas to Portland to Denver. Continue reading

Strumming and Slapping at Zuccotti Park

With their generators confiscated by firefighters, protesters are left with only thoughts and guitars and conga drums and any other impromptu materials fit for banging on. They are street musicians awash in their own sweat and dirt beating, strumming and singing on in the Financial District. Some serenade crowds of tourists and demonstrators with protest music, singing about the atrocities committed on Wall Street, while other “performers” are merely expressing themselves. For the most part though, it seems that Zuccotti musicians are either drawn there by the large audience, or they are there to bang on something. Either way, passersby are sure to find a panoply of styles and beats from “artists” marching to their own drums.

Anton Cipriani, 35, has been playing the drums since he was a little kid. Although, he claims, he is no “big shot,” Cipriani plays because it affords him some release. And, he says, while people are not discussing relevant situations, this offers a percussive venue for stress release.

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Was NPR Right To Fire Lisa Simeone, Announcer of “World of Opera”?

Journalists are supposed to be fair in their coverage, but does that mean they are to be apolitical, even if they don’t cover politics?  NPR says yes; they just dropped opera show host Lisa Simeone, for being active in the Occupy D.C. movement.  A couple of us budding journalists weigh in on NPR’s decision.

Casey Quinlan: NPR Overreacted.

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Ajai Raj: NPR firing was a show.

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Dennis Reilly: Everyone knows that NPR has a liberal bias.

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