New Screen Version of The 39 Steps On PBS Tonight

The 39 StepsFor those who enjoyed the long-running Broadway (and now Off-Broadway) play The 39 Steps, you may want to tune into your local PBS station tonight to check out a new movie version. This is an update of the original Alfred Hitchcock film on which the play was based. The big difference between the movie versions and the stage version is that the 39 Steps play took a far more wacky and comedic approach to the story of a man who unwittingly gets caught up in murder and international intrigue.

New Visitor Center Showcases the Pasts of New York’s African Americans

African Burial Ground MonumentIn a fitting sendoff to Black History Month (February), a new visitor center in lower Manhattan opened in New York City yesterday—it’s at the African Burial Ground National Monument, on Broadway between Duane and Reade Streets.
In the Center, visitors can learn how the burial ground was discovered in 1991 during construction on a federal building. Information also details the history of both free and enslaved African Americans in what was first New Amsterdam, and later, New York City. It also focuses not just on the lives of the African Americans in New York, but also on their backgrounds in Africa.
Approximately 15,000 African Americans were buried in the more-than-six-acre area for about 100 years, from about the 1690s until the 1790s. The space, right outside the boundaries of what was New Amsterdam, was later lost because of landfill and development.
The visitor center, which includes many interactive elements, offers a theater, four exhibition areas, and a store. A resource library and tours are also available. The burial ground was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1993; it’s also a National Monument. Original and replica artifacts are on view, ranging from textiles to maps. Recreations of scenes, such as depictions of mourners gathered at a burial, are also included.
Admission to the center, which is part of the National Parks of New York Harbor, is free. The center is located inside the Ted Weiss Federal Building. More information can be found at nyps.gov.

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.

Catch the Letters of a Reclusive Author at the Morgan Library

Catcher in the RyeSome of the personal letters of iconic author J.D. Salinger, who died last month, will be on view for the first time at New York’s Morgan Library and Museum.
The letters were written to his Connecticut neighbor and friend Mike Mitchell, who was also the illustrator of the image on the cover (a carousel horse—fervent readers will immediately understand the allusion) of the first edition of Salinger’s “Catcher in the Rye.”
Although the library was given the letters more than 10 years ago, the decision to let the public view them was not made until after Salinger’s death on January 27. They deal with such seemingly mundane issues as parenthood and marriage, but also touch on writing, middle age, and issues with his publisher. They’re revealing because Salinger was so deeply private that not much is known about the everyday details of his life. (The letters were not previously put on view out of respect for his deep need for privacy.) One set of letters will be on view from March 16-April 11. A second set of letters goes on view from April 1-May 9.
Salinger was known as much for his reclusive behavior as he was for “Catcher in the Rye,” a novel that all but defined the coming-of-age story and is now rightly considered a classic. His other works include another classic, the dark “Nine Stories.”
The Morgan Library and Museum is at 225 Madison Avenue and 36th Street (212 685-0008.)

Happy Hour May Be a Little Less Happy, Thanks to a New Tax

A New Yark Bar SignThat daily beer at your nearby bar in New York may come with a heftier price tag in the near future, thanks to a new projected tax on liquor: The Health Department is considering a tax increase on alcohol.
Supporters are hugely in favor of the tax–they it’s a step towards encouraging New Yorkers to drink less and generally get healthier.
Among the increases being considered: A 10-cent tax on a bottle of Budweiser, bringing the total tax to 17 cents on a bottle of beer. Some bottles of wine could see an increase of nearly 50 cents.
What are the current taxes? Well, if you’ve bought a bottle of beer in New York lately, you paid 7.4 cents tax on it. And if you’re buying hard liquor, you could be paying–get ready–more than three dollars in taxes on it.
The state loves its so-called sin taxes—it collected more than $260 million in taxes from alcohol alone last year. But health advocates say that more than just money is at stake. They claim that hitting New Yorkers where it hurts–in their wallets—will be the most effective and efficient way to see a change in people’s behavior: In other words, taxes go up, drinking goes down.
Taxes on soda and sugary items are also being considered, and are strongly favored by Mayor Bloomberg.
Seventeen hundred deaths were attributed to alcohol in New York in 2008. Supporters of the bill say it will also reduce high-school drinking as well as drinking-related hospital visits.

Memphis Broadway Show Review

Memphis Broadway ShowShow Summary
Inspired by the true story of a 1950s rock ‘n’ roll deejay, Memphis tells the story of the man who brought black music to white listeners in the segregated South.

Broadway Review
Broadway regular Chad Kimball finally gets the breakout role he deserves as Huey Calhoun, a guy who is going nowhere until his love of “race music” – combined with his brash style and quick wit – makes him the most popular radio personality in town. Both his big ego and his dogged refusal to acknowledge the barriers of a racist society threaten his relationship with a talented black singer (Montego Glover). Though David Bryan’s score is not as strong as the real rock ‘n’ roll and blues music of that era, it is enjoyable and includes some standout songs; Joe DiPietro’s script, with the exception of a few predictable and cheesy moments, is generally smart, funny, and well-constructed; Christopher Ashley’s direction is superb. Overall this is a wonderful new Broadway musical with a good look, a hot band, an engaging story, and a fantastic cast of performers to bring it to life.

Avenue Q Poster Too Racy For Colorado Springs

Avenue QLucy T. Slut, that troublemaker of a puppet in the musical Avenue Q, has been causing problems in Colorado Springs as well. Not wishing to create a fuzz, er, fuss, Lamar Advertising rejected promotional posters showing her likeness (and, more to the point, her cleavage) for the Avenue Q tour that will be visiting the town March 16-17. Instead, the denizens of Colorado Springs will be seeing the face of another less seductive Avenue Q puppet on bus shelter posters advertising the show. A Lamar exec said the reason for the change was that Colorado City is rather conservative, so it made sense to adjust the advertising accordingly. Whether or not locals enjoy the production itself remains to be seen next month.

For Street Vendors, Taking a Break Comes at a Price

Food VendorFile this under the “More than you ever wanted to know about the people who sell you hot dogs on the street” category.
Starting January 1 of this year, food carts in New York that are left unattended can be seized by officials from the Department of Health.
Street vendors protested yesterday in downtown Manhattan, claiming they are being unfairly singled out. They say they could lose their licenses if they even run into a store or restaurant, to, um, use the facilities. Vendors sometimes ask a friend to watch their carts while they’re away, but that’s not always possible. They say the law should be eliminated, or at least changed, to provide for necessary time away from the cart, like a bathroom break, health issue, or emergency.
One peanut vendor near City Hall had his license taken away last week after leaving his cart to use a bathroom. (The vendor, who has worked for the last 12 years, was gone for about half an hour–he said that long lines prevented him from returning earlier.) Many supporters say that actually seizing the license was a first.
Supporters of the law, however, say that leaving carts unsupervised, even briefly, is a public safety hazard. Department of Health of officials countered the vendors’ arguments by saying that short breaks are allowed (although the exact time vendors are allowed away from their carts has never been specified), but that the food must be secured before the vendors leave.

Small Fixes Instead of Big Changes Coming to a Subway Near You

A subway wall in need of repairWhen your apartment looks dowdy, do you change the entire space, or make small fixes? (Assuming you’re on a budget like the rest of us, that is.)
If you said “small fixes,” then bingo! You’re taking the same approach as New York City Transit with the subway stations.
Instead of overhauling each New York subway station whole hog; “station renewal” is now the name of the game.
What’s the difference? Instead of completing revamping a station, smaller changes will be made: individual items that need to be upgraded or fixed will be taken care of (stairs, lighting, signage), while everything else will be left alone. (Um, shouldn’t they have been doing that already??)
Work is slated to begin in the first targeted stations next year.
It costs approximately $60 million to completely renovate one station, as opposed to $15 million for a partial fix. The budget that has been allocated for this program should allow 130 subway stations to be spruced up, in addition to overhauling 25 others. (For the same price, about 14 stations could be completely overhauled.)
In the 1980s, the MTA had the lofty goal of completely revamping all 468 stations in 35 years. Thirty years have passed–and not quite half of them have been done.
One teensy weensy problem exists, however: The plan hasn’t been approved by state leaders yet—because—wait for it–no one seems to know just where the money is actually coming from.