Entrepreneur

March 28th, 2014

In today’s business news:

My co-editor Barbara Barnett and I have incorporated as Critical Lens Media Ltd. and acquired the web magazine Blogcritics, for which we have been freelance editors for some years.

Congratulations and/or sympathy gladly accepted.

At the Dingli Cliffs, Malta

November 20th, 2013

October 1st, 2013


At the Living Room at Meg Braun’s Fred’s Team cancer research fundraiser. I told you I knew how to play a D chord!

Fringe-ified

August 22nd, 2013

Conjoined twins, an artist’s model, Sojourner Truth, strangers on a train, and “manual cinema” via overhead projector – some of the theater I’ve covered so far at this year’s New York International Fringe Festival.


from ‘Human Fruit Bowl” – photo by Andrea Kuchlewska

August 17th, 2013

Check out my review of Lula Del Ray, a dreamy, compelling period-piece “movie” presented live via overhead projector, cardboard puppets, live actors and music. (Photo by Katherine Greenleaf)

And follow me on a trip to Staten Island’s Snug Harbor, complete with wetlands.

Adventures in Queens

May 13th, 2013

A busy day in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, the Queens Botanical Garden, and Flushing’s Chinatown on Cinco de Mayo.

Park Odyssey Visits Staten Island

March 12th, 2013

Finally touched base with Staten Island on my Park Odyssey blog. It was only a matter of time.

Berlin: A Journey into Modern History

November 9th, 2012

Full travelogue at Blogcritics. Enjoy!

Nine Days in Wales

April 14th, 2012

Full travelogue at Blogcritics. Enjoy!

Music Video for Whisperado’s “Teenage Popstar Girl”

April 14th, 2012

From our new CD I’m Not the Road. Video directed by Daniel Azarian.

CD Release Party!

March 8th, 2012

Well, it’s finally done. The new CD from Whisperado, I’m Not the Road, is here, and we’re celebrating Friday March 9 with a big show at Parkside Lounge. I hope to see everyone there.

Meanwhile, visit whisperado.com and check out the video for “Teenage Popstar Girl” directed by Daniel Azarian, starring Mary O’Rourke, Tara Langella, and of course, Whisperado.

Whisperado…The Sexiest Band in the World?

June 28th, 2011


Here’s a photo, taken by cinematographer Milton Kam, of Whisperado at our video shoot the other day. The upcoming video, for “Teenage Popstar Girl,” is being directed by Dan Azarian. From left: Jeff Lampert (pedal steel), Jon Sobel (bass), David Mills (drums), Patrick Nielsen Hayden (guitar)

The Morton Report and More

May 17th, 2011

I’ve begun freelancing for The Morton Report, from celebrity biographer Andrew Morton. It’s a website of literate pop culture from both sides of the Atlantic, and I’m the New York City columnist keeping an eye on Broadway theater and related showy matters. My columns are here.

There are also some new entries at the Park Odyssey blog. So check them out too.

And everywhere you go, leave a comment!

Orchids!

April 8th, 2011

For my Park Odyssey blog I paid a visit to the New York Botanical Garden and saw the Orchid Show. All I can say is… Orchids! (And did you know the Bronx River is the only freshwater river in New York City?)

Also, check out my reports from Argentina. Glaciers. Icebergs. Steak. Dulce de leche…

The Shows Must Go On

January 29th, 2011

Nineteen-inch snowfalls can’t stop the theater. I’ve seen some good shows recently—check out my reviews (and my other articles) on Blogcritics.

Snow can’t put a halt to the Park Odyssey, either, though winter does slow things down a bit. Check out the latest in my ongoing project to visit and blog about every New York City park.

And Whisperado’s still working on that long-promised first full-length album. A couple of gigs coming up.

New Whisperado Page, and Gigs!

December 9th, 2010

I hope you haven’t forgotten about Whisperado! We’re still here, with a new web page (basic but functional) and two gigs coming up, one in Manhattan (to celebrate my birthday!) and one in Brooklyn. Check out the new page and come to the shows! We’ll see you there.

Park Odyssey Press Release

October 27th, 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 27, 2010

Jon Sobel, a Manhattan-based writer and musician and Co-Executive Editor of Blogcritics Magazine, has embarked on an unprecedented adventure: visiting and blogging every New York City park. He plans to document all 1,300 green spaces within the five boroughs.

“I already spend a lot of my spare time walking around the city, especially the parks,” Sobel says. “It’s astounding how many parks there are within the city limits. So this project combines my life as a writer, with my life as a lover of the outdoors. And nobody has ever done it before.”

Why 1,300? The roster of NYC Parks goes far beyond the famous ones like Central Park, Prospect Park, and Battery Park. The five boroughs are festooned with hundreds of parks of every shape, size, design, and purpose. Looking over the Parks Department’s website and other resources, Jon identified about 1,300 properties that seem to rank as actual parks (as opposed to pure playgrounds or mere grassy strips). He’ll visit, photograph, and blog about every park that’s at least partially laid out for passive enjoyment of the outdoors.

The more than 30 parks already featured on the blog, with text and photos, include:

-> Manhattan’s oldest park, Bowling Green, where it all began…
-> Brooklyn’s cannon-decked John Paul Jones park in the shadow of the Verrazano Bridge…
-> The city’s most celebrated green space, Central Park, captured in the winter snow…
-> Chinatown’s Seward Park, named for Lincoln’s Secretary of State (whose statue can be found much farther uptown in Madison Square Park)…
-> The fast-developing landscape of Governor’s Island, where preserved military housing stands side by side with cutting-edge art exhibits…
-> Gantry Plaza State Park on the Queens waterfront, where you can take in some of New York’s storied industrial history along with the sun’s rays…
-> And quite a few more.

“When I first conceived the project last year, I imagined that I could cover all the parks in one long summer season,” Sobel says. “Then I started to look into it more seriously—and upped my estimate to two years. And now that I’ve actually begun, it’s looking more and more like a multi-year exploration. But so is life, and what could be better than spending as much of life as possible outdoors, while still being right here in the greatest city in the world?”

Read the Park Odyssey blog here:

http://parkodyssey.blogspot.com/

Read the introductory post here:

http://tinyurl.com/3ypw677

Contact Jon Sobel at: orenhope@gmail.com

Park Odyssey Reaches 30 Posts

October 26th, 2010

I’ve now posted over 30 entries on my Park Odyssey blog, all with text and photos. Here’s a sample shot from Astoria Park in Queens. Come on over and visit now!

Indie Round-Up – Flipron, John Lee Hooker Jr., Whole Sky Monitor

September 17th, 2010

Flipron, With Breath Bated & Eyelids Unblinking: A Flipron Sampler

Flipron makes its US debut this fall with a brief tour and a 12-track sampler disc that backs up the hype that this is very likely the UK’s most inventive band. Sharp-witted, antic, and addled, their songs are more than pop curiosities; psychedelic but always under control, they show offbeat classic rock influences (circa Kinks and Bowie) mixed up with bleary folk balladry and elements from smaller islands as well, from Hawaii to Coney.

But all that is in the service of the songs and the band’s eccentric and intruiging sensibility. As vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Jesse Budd sings in the macabre-sweet “The Flatpack Bride of Possibilities,” “Each bone connected, each organ plugged in reveals another unexpected joy.” The compilation is full of unexpected pleasures, including the infectious “Gravity Calling” from their 2008 album of that name, the slinky “Big Baboon,” the arch “Mess It Up,” and the brand new single “The Coolest Names in Showbiz,” an unusually (for this band) straightforward gloss on fame: “You’re just doing what comes easily to you / Why bother? / The coolest names in showbiz love you / Why bother?”

Bother with Flipron. Anyone with a taste for new, original, boundary-stretching pop that’s just plain fun is unlikely to be disappointed.

John Lee Hooker Jr., Live in Istanbul Turkey

John Lee Hooker Jr.’s polished, contemporary blues is a far cry from the rough, elemental sounds of his legendary father. But in his own right, he’s a forceful presence, a skilled songwriter, and an honorable ambassador for the blues. He takes up that last role delightedly on his new live disc, recorded before an appreciative audience in Turkey. Like most of the tracks (except a couple of John Lee Hooker Senior covers), “Suspicion,” the BB King-style blues power ballad that opens the disc, is an effective original. The sounds range from Chicago blues-rock to soul to boogie-woogie to funk, with some clever arrangements like the tight, funny “One Eye Opened.” The songs cover topics from love (“You Make My Life Brand New”) to politics (“People Want a Change”).

When Hooker Jr. replays the standard bluesy complaints of the hard-up, he gives them a modern twist, with current idioms (“They Hatin’ on Me”) and cultural touchpoints, singing of Tiger Woods, recessions, and Ponzi schemes that promise “very large returns…but check out your bank account, because you’ve been burned.” He might not have the vocal heft or gravitas of some blues singers, but he knows how to put his entertaining story-songs across, and his band is top-notch.

Also included is an excellent, noirish animated video of one of the band’s best songs, “Extramarital Affair,” which recounts a true story of life on the road.

Whole Sky Monitor, Twisted Little Piggies

“The revolution was in your head,” shout these angry Leeds boys on this, their second disc. (The title of the album alone should give you a clue to the prevailing attitude.) “Never forget how stupid you are,” they plead. Primarily purveyors of highly focused noise, Whole Sky Monitor are not afraid to show a little soft white underbelly in the Beatle-esque “La Mouche,” but my favorite tracks are the short-and-sour numbers like the muscular “Freak Show” with its 7/4 time choruses, the chunky “My Regeneration” (get it?) and the punk-tempo “Abusive,” which clocks in at less than two minutes and suggests early Foo Fighters. I also like the dissonant jam in the uncharacteristically long “White Skin Suit.” Without much in the way of melodic hooks, these songs depend on a twin-guitar attack, rhythmic assertiveness, creeping dissonance, and pinpoint execution. All of which are here plentifully.

Originally published as “Music Review: Indie Round-Up – Flipron, John Lee Hooker Jr., Whole Sky Monitor” on Blogcritics.

On the Fringes of Fringe

August 27th, 2010

FringeNYC 2010 is drawing to a close. I caught a handful of shows, mostly ones that happened to be playing at days and times when I happened to be free. Here are links to my reviews:

One of the best I saw was The Hyperbolist, a one-man puppet-non-puppet show by Joe Mazza.

Alas, the gospel of the Rev. Bill & Betty failed to ignite.

But I was happy the Amsterdam Abortion Survivor survived to tell the tale.

A welcome performance of Schiller’s Maid of Orleans, a play I’d never seen, boasted a couple of fine performances but overall it disappointed.

However, Jeff Kreisler’s Get Rich Cheating, while hitting mostly easy targets, added up to entertaining and effective satire.

And in Jen and Liz in Love, Jesse Weaver cooked up an honestly touching story of love and regret.