Green Isn’t Just for the Lights at the Empire State Building Any More

Empire State BuildingThe Empire State Building on 34th Street and Fifth Avenue,  just added a new lighting system that means that the lights for this monumental building now use 50% less power. The super-efficient commercial LED lighting system cost over a million dollars to install and will recoup its investment within 2 years from the power consumption savings. The iconic Empire State Building has been cleaning up its act as “The Top Of The Rock” at 30 Rockefeller Plaza just overtook it in number of visitors per year. Normally the lights are switched off at midnight to save money and avoid neighbor complaints. Often the lights at night can cause havoc with air traffic as it can blind airline pilots coming in to La Guardia or Newark airports.
The building is responding to other challenges too, from record high office space availability as many of its tenants have either gone out of business or moved to cheaper climes like uptown, downtown or even New Jersey and Long Island.

Bee Season: Welcome the Bees and Their Hives Back to New York

BeesGet your buzz on: Bees are making a re-entry into New York City.
Last week, the Board of Health in New York voted to once again make beekeeping legal in the city. (Whoo hoo! And for the record, who knew it wasn’t?)
Why, you may ask, were the bees not previously free to show their stripes in our fair city? Well, laws defined honeybees as–are you ready? Dangerous wild animals.
Yes, bees and rampaging grizzles, joining forces once again.
The fine for operating a hive in the city was as much as $2,000. Despite it, many beekeepers (and, don’t tell, one or two restaurants) still raised bees here. (Estimates put the number of beekeepers in New York at about 600, but it’s hard to really know.)
Cities including Seattle, San Francisco and Chicago already allow hives in their cities.
Now, beekeepers will have to register with the city, but they will not have to be licensed.
The new ruling is good news not just for the beekeepers, but also for the bees: Since 2006, a largely unidentified problem has been destroying bee colonies in North America. This collapse has caused a chain reaction that has affected honey production; and, in turn, foods that are made or sweetened with honey.
And, oh yes, if beekeeping has now piqued your interest and you’re looking for the names of famous beekeepers, look no further than the White House: The Obamas have a colony in the organic garden there.

For a New Career in Film, New York’s the Place to Be

A NY Film PosterEver thought about a career in film? Wondering what exactly a rigger does on a film set? Well, now may be your chance to find out.
A program is being launched by Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s administration to help train women, minorities, and New Yorkers who are struggling job-wise to train for jobs in New York’s film and TV production industry.
The training will include teaching hands-on skills like rigging (whatever that may be) and dolly operation. (In other words; you won’t be learning how to be Sandra Bullock’s stand-in, but you will be learning what all that cool equipment does.) Teachers are members of the International Alliance of Theatrical & Stage Employees. It also includes a placement service for mid-level film jobs in those areas.
The first classes launch this spring, and will have about 24 participants. A recruitment event is also being held later this spring, sponsored by the city and held at the New York City College of Technology.
New York is home to a thriving TV and film industry. TV shows from “Sesame Street” to “Ugly Betty” and “Gossip Girl” have filmed (and continue to film) here, while endless movies use the city as a locale, including such recent entries as the “Sex and the City” movies (the latest opens in May) and “Percy Jackson and the Last Olympians: The Lightning Thief.”
While many film and TV shows now shoot in other cities as stand-ins for New York, we know that there’s nothing like the real thing.

Where’s Conan? At the Home of the Rockettes, Thank You Very Much

Conan O'BrienDo you miss Conan and his witty banter (O’Brien, that is)? Wondering what he’s been up to since his unfortunate banishment from late-night TV? Well, New York, despair no more—Conan is headed your way.
The (former) TV funnyman announced yesterday that he is embarking on a two-month, 30-city road show tour, featuring comedy and live music. He’ll be at Radio City Music Hall this June 1 and 2. The show will include his sidekick, Andy Richter, as well as the former “Tonight Show” band. If you were wondering if O’Brien has lost his edge, his tour will be starting in…Eugene, Oregon. Yup, you read that right. The tour will cover 20 states and two Canadian provinces, and will primarily include cities and college towns.
O’Brien, for those of you who have stopped reading AOL headlines, left his post as host of “The Tonight Show” in January, when he was unceremoniously usurped by Jay Leno. Leno, of course, had hosted a daily 10 pm show with notoriously low ratings. He was given the coveted night-night slot–leaving O’Brien essentially nowhere to go on television.
As part of his contract, O’Brien is prohibited from returning to the small screen until September 1 of this year.
O’Brien has been in the news a fair amount lately–he recently announced that he would follow a randomly chosen woman on Twitter.
O’Brien held the coveted 11:35 PM TV time slot starting in May 2009. Does he harbor hard feelings towards the whole fiasco and his exodus from TV?
Well, his tour is called the “Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on television” tour–so you decide.

Come On, Everyone: Wear Your Heart on Your Sleeve for New York

Do you love New York? Or, rather, do you (heart) New York? The creator of the iconic New York logo, Milton Glaser, has just been awarded the National Medal of Honor by President Obama.
Glaser created the logo in 1977 pro bono for advertising agency Wells, Rich, Greene. The agency had been hired by New York State’s Department of Commerce to develop a marketing strategy for New York. Glaser is quoted as saying that he thought the image would be used briefly, and then disappear. Now, the image is so familiar it can be seen pretty much everywhere in the city, everyday. It has also spawned pretty much an entire industry of other “I (heart)—” logos.
Glaser is also known for founding “New York” magazine, along with Clay Felker, in 1968, as well as creating the “DC Bullet” logo used by DC Comics for almost 30 years. He also designed the “Brooklyn Brewery” logo, a graphic black, green, white and yellow image that can be seen hanging in Williamsburg, Brooklyn; as well as a striking, near-psychedelic profile of Bob Dylan for a poster.
The “I (heart) NY” logo is set in a typeface called American Typewriter. It is still used to promote tourism in New York. Although the image was intended to promote New York State as a whole, it is now thought of largely as a tribute to New York City, and the image on t-shirts, bumper stickers, and mugs is ubiquitous. It was widely used after the September 11 attacks in 2001 to rally support for New York City.

Mammia Mia Offers Big Discount On Tickets Tonight

Mamma Mia Broadway ShowMamma mia, what a savings! Because of the snowy weather, which is undoubtedly sending both potential and current Broadway show ticketholders into hiding tonight, Mamma Mia is offering a great deal to entice audiences to make the trip to the show’s appropriately named Winter Garden Theatre. For tonight, the February 26 at 8pm performance, Mamma Mia is offering a snow day special. These tickets are just $31.50 a piece. To buy them, go to the box office at 1634 Broadway (between 50th and 51st streets). Even if you’re not interested in this particular show, brave Broadway fans might want to venture out to the theater district tonight and see if any other Broadway shows are offering bargains. During New York City’s last snowstorm, attendance was way down and many shows are probably anxious to fill those seats. And for those wondering if their Broadway show is canceled tonight, the answer is no. The show must go on! But continue checking www.broadwayleague.com for any updates on how the weather might be affecting Broadway shows.

It’s a Dog-Beat-Dog World at the Nation’s Top Dog Show

A Westminstr Dog Show PosterWho let the dogs in?
If they’re purebred, groomed to the hilt, and strutting their stuff in front of adoring fans at New York’s Madison Square Garden, then they’re there by invitation only, thank you very much, and they’re competing in the 134th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
The show began last night and finishes up tonight with the all-important Best in Show award. (Rumor has it that a Scottie named Sadie is strongly favored.)
Last night, four groups competed: Hound (Whippets, Greyhounds) Toy (Poodles, Pekinese), Non-Sporting (Bulldogs, Chinese Shar-Pei) and Herding (Pulis, Bearded Collies). Tonight we’ll see the Sporting, Working and Terrier Groups, as well as Best in Show.
The event is limited to 2,500 dogs, with individual breed judging taking place between 8 am and 6 pm on both days.
Although records are fuzzy, the show has its origins possibly as early as 1876, when a group of gentlemen met regularly to talk, among other things, about their talented dogs. They form a group–and name it after their favorite hotel. A dog show is eventually held–and more than 130 years later; toy poodles with pink bows in their hair are flouncing across the floor of Madison Square Garden.
So if you couldn’t score tickets, never mind: tonight it will be televised on the USA network from 8-11 pm, and you’ll most definitely see a bump in interest in whatever breed wins.
So tear yourself away from men’s Olympic curling for one evening, and watch competitors of a furrier, cuddlier nature for just one night, pink bows and all.

Barbie Has a New Career, Lego Comes Out to Play at Toy Fair

Toy Fair 2010Technically Barbie may be in her dotage, but this year she also has a new career as a TV news anchor (her 125th–she’s fickle, that girl.) She comes, of course, with the all-important desk and microphone.
The word comes from New York’s Toy Fair, which opened yesterday and runs through Wednesday, Feb. 17 at the Javits Center.
While the general public doesn’t have access to the show, many of the toys will become available by the end of the year. The event showcases the toys that are destined to be under the tree next Christmas, and presages the bestsellers throughout the year.
From Lego we’ll see new Duplo building blocks aimed at younger kids, as well as new Mindstorm robots.
And a new updated version of Chinese checkers is being released by toy company Pressman (what can they possibly do to it??). With the economy the way it is, more families are rediscovering game night, so their timing is canny.
More than 1,100 exhibiting toy manufacturers, distributors and agents set up shop at the event, which feeds into the $75 billion toy industry; almost 32,000 people from almost 100 countries are expected to attend. It’s the largest international toy trade show in the western hemisphere.
Programs throughout the week include such events as the “Toy Trends Tea”; a session on environmentalism and toys; and a guide to exporting.
So even if you can’t be there, the buzz will start soon–so avoid the hassle, parents, and pick up the toys as soon as they hit the market, rather than waiting furtively on line next Christmas Eve.

Times Square Pedestrian Mall To Become Permanent

Times SquareGood news for those who have been enjoying the freedom to literally walk right down the middle of Broadway in the Times Square area – Mayor Bloomberg has announced that the temporary pedestrian mall will become permanent. Closing Broadway to traffic between 42nd and 47th streets began as an experiment in the summer of 2009, the idea being to relieve some traffic congestion in midtown while giving New York visitors and locals alike the opportunity to enjoy the theater district without dodging cars and taxis. Statistics showed that the street closure did not do much to improve NYC traffic, but it did reduce pedestrian injuries in the area considerably while providing tourists more space to take pictures and local office workers a nice place to have lunch outside. Although the current set-up is a bit ramshackle in places, with chairs and tables strewn about over the concrete of Broadway, the pedestrian mall will gradually be transformed into a proper plaza with a more aesthetically pleasing design.

The Broadway Shows Will Go On

It may be blizzarding in New York City, but a little (or a lotta) snow doesn’t faze showbiz folks who believe that the show must go on. The Broadway League announced this morning that there will be no cancellations today, and both the matinee and evening Broadway shows will play as scheduled. If you have to travel into NYC and are worried about dealing with the bad weather, you may want to contact your show’s ticketing agent to see if they will be willing to exchange your tickets for another date. Not all shows are willing to offer exchanges, but some will, so it is worth asking. So far Telecharge has announced that it will offer exchanges to people holding tickets to these Broadway shows: Billy Elliot, Chicago, Fela!, God of Carnage, Hair, Jersey Boys, A Little Night Music, Mamma Mia!, Memphis, The Phantom of the Opera, Race, South Pacific, Time Stands Still, and A View from the Bridge.