Abercrombie & Finch—time to ditch your CEO!

It isn’t often I decide to go on a little rant, but tonight I’m feeling the urge.  Someone on my Facebook page posted this article in Elite Daily about Abercrombie & Finch’s CEO, Mike Jeffries, and his extremist, prejudice views against overweight people.  He “hates” fat chicks!  He’s “not bothered by excluding fat people,” and considers anyone who is overweight less-than cool—part of the unwanted, undesirable crowd.  Admitting that he has very exclusionary ideals Jeffries said, “A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong.” He continued to criticize other clothing companies who try and embrace all sizes by carrying XL and XXL sizes.  Jeffries declares that “fat chicks will never be a part of the in crowd,” nor does he want overweight women wearing their brands.

This really is an outrage. I think people should boycott this store. If the CEO hates “fat chicks,” what kind of message is this sending to kids today? Whether you have prejudice against a skin color, a gender, a political stance or religious belief, it’s just plain wrong. You know, Hitler had an elitist mindset and spread his beliefs in racial “purity” and in the superiority of the “Germanic race”—what he called an Aryan “master race.” This kind of thinking is dangerous and shouldn’t be supported.

Speaking of Abercrombie & Finch CEO Mike Jeffries: “He doesn’t want larger people shopping in his store, he wants thin and beautiful people,” Lewis said. “He doesn’t want his core customers to see people who aren’t as hot as them wearing his clothing. People who wear his clothing should feel like they’re one of the ‘cool kids.” – Robin Lewis, The New Rules of Retail

Original article: http://elitedaily.com/news/world/abercrombie-fitch-ceo-explains-why-he-hates-fat-chicks/

 

Colorado nightmare: Does the media affect human behavior?

The news of the horrific crimes committed last night in Aurora, Colorado has sent a chill up my spine.  Watching the continual updates of this tragedy has caused me to pause and “think” about how and why these kinds of crimes continue to escalate in this nation.

With last nights tragedy, I cannot help but wonder why a 24-year-old man would commit acts of violence like this?  I cannot help but wonder if television and movie violence has played a part in the promotion of these kind of acts against humanity.

As a screenwriter (thankfully I don’t write horror or thriller stories), I am asking myself if the media is playing a part in the acceleration of evil we’ve seen over the years. Does violent entertainment feed these kinds of minds, and if so can it really be classified as entertainment? If the answer is yes, then it might be detrimental to society, and no amount of money is worth promoting things that contribute to this kind of criminal thinking.

The Academy of Pediatrics says “More than one thousand scientific studies and reviews conclude that significant exposure to media violence increases the risk of aggressive behavior in certain children, desensitizes them to violence and makes them believe that the world is a ‘meaner and scarier’ place than it is.”  If children begin to think that this type of violence is normal behavior these thoughts are often said to be difficult to change later on in life.  Hence, the child becomes an angry adult.  The American Psychological Association says there are three major effects of watching violence in the media (i.e.: video games/television) children may become less sensitive to the pain and suffering of others, children may be more fearful of the world around them, and children may be more likely to behave in aggressive or hurtful ways toward others.

Of course, it’s not just violence in the media.  There are other reasons children/adults commit violent acts. According to one study, “The involvement of parents in what their children watch, how the family interacts with each other, what the children are exposed to in their environment are also indicators of  how they will behave and what value system they will follow.”

As a writer, I fully understand the elements that are crucial when telling a story, especially in film.  However, perhaps we are “showing” far too much.  Unlike the visuals that are in a work of fiction, a film or television show has the capacity to visually bring the audience into the scene.  It’s not entirely about the imagination of our audiences.  We show perspective and intent visually, and that’s powerfully suggesting.  Stories about good vs. evil have been around forever, but perhaps the acts of violence that are being shown in the media are really the issue.  I don’t know… as a responsible writer, I am questioning it.

The New Media Foundation has a great article on media values, listing the 12 short-term effects of media on the public found in James Potter’s book , 11 Myths of Media.

Perhaps the film/media industry needs to reassess healthy values and truly realize the affects that certain kinds of human behavior can have on audiences.

“It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.”
– Roy Disney

For Further Reading:

http://www.thenewmediafoundation.org/media/values.php

Interesting… Fox News talked about this:

Tragedy in Aurora: Hollywood to blame?

Success: It’s all about your perspective

I don’t often post another person’s blog post, but this one is good, so I’m going to share it.  My advice to any and all who read this:  To everyone here who has been tempted to quit… Dream big, live large and don’t let anyone steal your vision!

What is your excuse for not succeeding?

John Lennon was abandoned by his parents

Check out what all these great people had to deal with

1. John Lennon was abandoned by his parents.

2. The English poet John Milton was blind.

3. Beethoven was totally deaf when he wrote the Ninth. He never heard it himself, except in his head.

4. Alexander the Great was a hunchback.

5. Homer was thought to have been blind.

6. Handel was paralyzed on his right side when he composed his greatest masterwork.

7. Edison was deaf when he discovered the gramophone.

8. Helen Keller was blind, deaf and dumb.

9. Golda Meir had leukaemia for twelve years.

10. Confucius was an orphan.

Edison was deaf when he invented the gramophone

11.  JFK had a very painful back injury and still became president.

12.  Roosevelt’s legs were paralysed when he was elected president.

13.  Stephen Hawking has motor neuron disease, which is incurable. When he was 21, he was told that he had a maximum of a year to live. He is now the most famous physicist since Einstein. His book A Brief History of Time has sold more than 10 million copies. He is totally paralysed and can only move two fingers which he uses to operate his voice computer.

14.  Christopher Reeve, who acted in the role of Superman, was paralysed from the neck down and he continued to amaze us. He collected millions of dollars in sponsor money for scientific research into his type of back problem.

15.  Fred Astaire was rejected at his first screen test in 1933. He received a letter with the comment that he could neither dance nor act. He had the document framed and hung above the fireplace of his expensive house in Hollywood.

Fred Astaire was told he couldn’t dance

16.  Caruso’s teacher said that Caruso had a terrible voice and could not sing.

17.  Darwin gave up his medical career and was reproached by his father for being a layabout.

18.  Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper publisher because of his ‘lack of creativity’.

19.  Albert Einstein could not speak until he was four.

20.  Louis Pasteur was fifteenth in a class of 22 chemistry students.

Disney was fired for ‘lack of creativity’

21. Newton was a poor student at primary school.

22. Tolstoy was expelled from school as being incompetent and unwilling.

23. Churchill had to do a year over at primary school.

24. Henry Ford went bankrupt five times.

25. And you? Do you believe you CAN despite …..?

Henry Ford went bankrupt 5 times

 

Shaked, Stirred, or Poured: Drinking Trends in Ventura County -Ventura County Reporter – Dining Guide 2012

Ventura County Reporter – Dining Guide 2012.

My latest article on the drinking trends in Ventura County! (Go to pages 12 & 16)

A Valentine’s Day Wish

Wishing a very HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY to everyone reading this.

Embrace love in a new way today, for it is an undeniable symbol of eternity.

It wipes out all sense of time, destroying all memory of a beginning and all fear of an end.

Holiday joy: Anonymous donors pay off Kmart layaway accounts

Anonymous donors pay off Kmart layaway accounts

This is truly heart-warming, especially at this time of year.

December 15, 2011 — OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The young father stood in line at the Kmart layaway counter, wearing dirty clothes and worn-out boots. With him were three small children.

He asked to pay something on his bill because he knew he wouldn’t be able to afford it all before Christmas. Then a mysterious woman stepped up to the counter. “She told him, ‘No, I’m paying for it,'” recalled Edna Deppe, assistant manager at the store in Indianapolis. “He just stood there and looked at her and then looked at me and asked if it was a joke. I told him it wasn’t, and that she was going to pay for him. And he just busted out in tears.”

At Kmart stores across the country, Santa seems to be getting some help: Anonymous donors are paying off strangers’ layaway accounts, buying the Christmas gifts other families couldn’t afford, especially toys and children’s clothes set aside by impoverished parents.

Before she left the store Tuesday evening, the Indianapolis woman in her mid-40s had paid the layaway orders for as many as 50 people. On the way out, she handed out $50 bills and paid for two carts of toys for a woman in line at the cash register.

“She was doing it in the memory of her husband who had just died, and she said she wasn’t going to be able to spend it and wanted to make people happy with it,” Deppe said. The woman did not identify herself and only asked people to “remember Ben,” an apparent reference to her husband.

Deppe, who said she’s worked in retail for 40 years, had never seen anything like it. “It was like an angel fell out of the sky and appeared in our store,” she said. Most of the donors have done their giving secretly.

Dona Bremser, an Omaha nurse, was at work when a Kmart employee called to tell her that someone had paid off the $70 balance of her layaway account, which held nearly $200 in toys for her 4-year-old son.

“I was speechless,” Bremser said. “It made me believe in Christmas again.” Dozens of other customers have received similar calls in Nebraska, Michigan, Iowa, Indiana and Montana. The benefactors generally ask to help families who are squirreling away items for young children. They often pay a portion of the balance, usually all but a few dollars or cents so the layaway order stays in the store’s system.

The phenomenon seems to have begun in Michigan before spreading, Kmart executives said. “It is honestly being driven by people wanting to do a good deed at this time of the year,” said Salima Yala, Kmart’s division vice president for layaway.

The good Samaritans seem to be visiting mainly Kmart stores, though a Wal-Mart spokesman said a few of his stores in Joplin, Mo., and Chicago have also seen some layaway accounts paid off. Kmart representatives say they did nothing to instigate the secret Santas or spread word of the generosity. But it’s happening as the company struggles to compete with chains such as Wal-Mart and Target.

Kmart may be the focus of layaway generosity, Yala said, because it is one of the few large discount stores that has offered layaway year-round for about four decades. Under the program, customers can make purchases but let the store hold onto their merchandise as they pay it off slowly over several weeks.

The sad memories of layaways lost prompted at least one good Samaritan to pay off the accounts of five people at an Omaha Kmart, said Karl Graff, the store’s assistant manager. “She told me that when she was younger, her mom used to set up things on layaway at Kmart, but they rarely were able to pay them off because they just didn’t have the money for it,” Graff said.

He called a woman who had been helped, “and she broke down in tears on the phone with me. She wasn’t sure she was going to be able to pay off their layaway and was afraid their kids weren’t going to have anything for Christmas.”

“You know, 50 bucks may not sound like a lot, but I tell you what, at the right time, it may as well be a million dollars for some people,” Graff said. Graff’s store alone has seen about a dozen layaway accounts paid off in the last 10 days, with the donors paying $50 to $250 on each account.

“To be honest, in retail, it’s easy to get cynical about the holidays, because you’re kind of grinding it out when everybody else is having family time,” Graff said. “It’s really encouraging to see this side of Christmas again.”

Lori Stearnes of Omaha also benefited from the generosity of a stranger who paid all but $58 of her $250 layaway bill for toys for her four youngest grandchildren. Stearnes said she and her husband live paycheck to paycheck, but she plans to use the money she was saving for the toys to help pay for someone else’s layaway.

In Missoula, Mont., a man spent more than $1,200 to pay down the balances of six customers whose layaway orders were about to be returned to a Kmart store’s inventory because of late payments. Store employees reached one beneficiary on her cellphone at Seattle Children’s Hospital, where her son was being treated for an undisclosed illness.

“She was yelling at the nurses, ‘We’re going to have Christmas after all!'” store manager Josine Murrin said. A Kmart in Plainfield Township, Mich., called Roberta Carter last week to let her know a man had paid all but 40 cents of her $60 layaway.

Carter, a mother of eight from Grand Rapids, Mich., said she cried upon hearing the news. She and her family have been struggling as she seeks a full-time job. “My kids will have clothes for Christmas,” she said.

Angie Torres, a stay-at-home mother of four children under the age of 8, was in the Indianapolis Kmart on Tuesday to make a payment on her layaway bill when she learned the woman next to her was paying off her account.

“I started to cry. I couldn’t believe it,” said Torres, who doubted she would have been able to pay off the balance. “I was in disbelief. I hugged her and gave her a kiss.”


Associated Press writers Michael J. Crumb in Des Moines, Iowa; Matt Volz, in Helena, Mont.; and Jeff Karoub in Detroit contributed to this report.

The dysfunctional dynamics surrounding estate battles

My newest article in Ventura County Reporter:

WHERE THERE’S A WILL
The dysfunctional dynamics surrounding estate battles

By Carla Iacovetti

“Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.” — George Burns (1896-1996)

One would think that a death in a family should draw its members close together, but this is not always the case.

Oftentimes, astounding things happen when someone dies. In fact, many family members will spend more money on legal fees to fight each other than the money that they hope to receive from their deceased family member’s estate.

Mark T. spent most of his childhood in Boise, Idaho, until his father was transferred to Ventura. He is one of three kids, and the only one still living in Ventura County. Both of his sisters live out of state, and they had not seen their father for many years. One of them didn’t even show up at his funeral, but she did show up for the reading of the will.

“You see, Daddy had a sizable estate,” Mark said. It was after the will was read that all hell broke loose. “It became a five-year battle that basically sucked any hopeful inheritance away with legal fees, and now the three of us siblings do not speak.”

In a New York Times article author Fred Brock recalls a pitiful state of affairs. “Two clients — brothers — who fought in his office over a Howdy Doody lunch box in their father’s estate. One brother said, ‘That lunch box has the smell of my childhood on it, and I’m not giving it to my brother.’ ” While fighting over a lunch box seems completely absurd, the craziness that often accompanies property battles can be shocking and intensely overwhelming.

Bea’s immigrant grandfather was a self-made millionaire who had a good life. In 1936 he founded a restaurant in downtown Los Angeles that became a city landmark, and it opened up the door for enormous financial success. Her grandparents had three children, and were very happy. After Bea’s grandmother passed away at 73, he re-married Ruby two years later. Ruby was 10 years younger; she had no children or money. “He treated her like a queen and when my grandfather died at 94, Ruby inherited millions, along with a home in Palm Springs free and clear,” Bea said. “Basically, none of his children or grandchildren received anything!”

Some people will stop at nothing …
“Ruby was 84 when my grandfather died, and very lonely,” Bea said. “Five years later, she became the victim of a scam. She was still living at her home in Palm Springs, and hired a caregiver (Janet) to assist her in her home.” Ruby did not know that this woman was just waiting to prey on her. George, a man in his late 50s, and Janet’s partner in crime, posed as a gardener and began flirting with Ruby. In no time, she let her regular gardener go, and George took over — in fact, within a few months George and Ruby got married.

Not long after the wedding, George began helping himself to her sizable bank accounts. He blew through the money quickly, buying property and a large ranch in Palm Desert. George had control of all of her accounts and assets, with the exception of the house they lived in. For security purposes, Bea’s father was kept on the title deed of her house, and this ended up becoming a nasty battle in court after her death. Shortly after the wedding, George began to neglect Ruby and physically and emotionally abuse her, and then she was diagnosed with cancer. Once she became ill, George moved to his ranch and completely ignored her until she died.

“After Ruby’s death, George and Janet moved on to their next victim and no one ever got any money,” Bea said.  Should only one person in the family be in charge of a trust?

Early in 2001, Phil’s father was getting too old to handle his business affairs, so he handed everything over to his second-oldest son. Phil’s father and stepmother were to be taken care of out of the trust that was set up; once his brother got hold of the paperwork, however, he had access to everything. (Phil, who asked his real name not be used, is a longtime Ventura County resident.)

“In 1972 my father took $100,000 and put it into a savings account for all five of us kids,” Phil said. “By now, this should have matured into millions and should come into effect after my stepmother dies, but because my father gave my brother sole power to handle all of his money and investments, we’re powerless, and we have no idea whether we have been kept in his will or removed.”

When one person in the family is made sole executor, there are no checks and balances, and it becomes easy to abuse the situation.

“Dad owned 27 homes and sold them before the real estate market began to fizzle out. So – where’s all the money?” Phil asked.

Attorney Ted Muegenburg of Meta Law Inc. claims, “Every life needs a good plan.” In the many years Muegenburg has served Ventura County as a trust and estate counselor, he has seen firsthand about every kind of family dynamic erupt after a relative passes away. Greed seems to be the culprit that invades the nicest of families. “Believe it or not,” Muegenburg said, “a lot of dissension comes from a jealous in-law or a sibling with unresolved resentments that suddenly surface when a parent dies.”

Goals are simple, but getting there seems to be complicated

Muegenburg believes that every family has some level of dysfunction, and the dysfunction will be disclosed when someone dies and family members seek out an estate attorney. “Even though the goals are simple, complications arise because no one seems to have the same plan. Greed is not seen in any stronger form than when someone dies.”

Many times a parent will appoint a child as trustee, but the appointed person has no clue what this entails, and it comes down to whom you can trust to carry out a parent’s intention without bias or interference. “The wisest decision is to appoint a corporate trustee because he or she is professional, neutral, unrelated and uninvolved with the family,” Muegenburg said.

In his co-authored book The Family Fight, Planning to Avoid It, Les Kotzer said, “People should worry more about saving their families than saving taxes.” Kotzer is a will and estate lawyer and has been featured as a commentator with various news outlets. He is dedicated to educating families about planning for the future, so that when a parent passes away, the children left behind are not at war.

Assumptions of any kind can be dangerous. No parent wants their children to battle over their inheritance, but when a parent does not properly plan for the future (and that is to include their death), they are assuming the kids will agreeably work things out, and that is not always the case.

“One of those assumptions is that children will exercise good will and settle things amicably,” Kotzer said. “Another assumption is that everything will be fine if each child receives an equal share in an estate … they should never make one sibling dependent on the good will of another sibling.”

“Without a good plan, and basic documents in place, people really get into a spot. The worst thing is that when there are no documents, then they have to go to court, where everything is exposed and in public view,” said Muegenburg.
People can get crazy when money is involved.

Muegenburg recalls one of the craziest scenarios that he personally observed. All the children lived out of the area, and when their mother passed away, while the funeral was in session, the husband and one of the kids snuck away, rented a U-Haul truck and went back to the house and stripped it clean.

One Ventura family watched the estate and all the assets completely disappear after the death of a very wealthy aunt who was living in upstate New York. While Aunt Christina had no children, she was very close with all of her nieces and nephews, and promised to “take good care of them.”

“It is curious why a woman who had millions would not have planned things better. In fact, she didn’t have a plan,” said Christina’s niece Marianna. “When dementia suddenly crept in and affected her mind, one of the ‘trust-worthy’ nephews got her to make him sole executor, and one by one every asset began to disappear.”

Not only were Christina’s wishes never executed, the niece and nephew in New York discovered a pot of gold, while their rival cousins here in California got absolutely nothing, and there was not anything that could be done.

Naturally, the more money that is involved, the bigger the fight, and celebrity deaths are guaranteed moneymakers for lawyers. In a recent article by John Goff in Investment News, he cites some of the biggest estate battles in America. While John Wayne has been dead since 1979, his estate is still valued at anywhere between $10 million to $15 million.

“Given the stakes, it’s hardly surprising that the actor’s children, grandchildren and assorted relatives are still duking it out over the star’s estate 30 years after he died,” Goff said. Michael Jackson’s sudden death in 2009 has opened up a can of worms, and according to Goff, “It’s an ugly, high-profile estate battle that could keep lawyers employed for years.” Elizabeth Taylor and Farrah Fawcett can also be added to the list.

Who can you trust to carry out intentions?
So often parent appoint one of the children to act as a trustee, but they do not know what they are doing. Muegenberg said, “Many people spend their lifetime working hard, raising their kids, and making a comfortable life for themselves, but what about preparing for death? It’s going to happen. Ignoring it is not going to make it go away. Please remember that probate attorneys are counseling roles, not an adversarial role; they’re here to help.”

When a family member dies, there are numerous legal taxation matters that should be addressed, and if there is property involved, probate proceedings will need to commence. The process can be overwhelming, and particularly complicated if the loved one didn’t handle the situation ahead of death. “The difference between a plan and no plan or a plan and an old plan is like good writing; it needs to be well-crafted and drawn up,” Muengenberg said.

In the state of California, dying without a will can create costly, complicated, onerous circumstances for the surviving family members. When there is no will, the court steps in to distribute the estate according to California’s laws. With a will, or living trust, the decedent decides how the estate will be distributed after he or she is gone.

A Los Angeles Times feature article about estate planning called “Time to Prepare Your Will,” it states, “If you’re rich, the best estate planning advice would be to die quickly. If you’re not, the best advice is to either review or rewrite your estate planning documents to make sure your heirs aren’t left high and dry if you die.” Part of the motivation for this comment stems from the fact that Uncle Sam can walk off with up to 45 percent of bequeathed assets.

Surprise, surprise!
Quite often, parents will not even discuss their worth with their children before they die. A recent U.S. Trust study posted in the Wall Street Journal studies shows, “52 percent of parents with assets of $3 million or more said they haven’t told their children just how wealthy they are, and another 15 percent haven’t even told them that they’re well off.” Most parents seem to think they have all the time in the world. This topic gets put on the back burner and is frequently ignored, and the reasons are many.

No matter what your net worth, it’s important to have a basic estate plan in place. Preparing for the future helps to ensure that your financial wishes will be met after you die. The bottom line – everybody needs a will, and trusts are not merely for the wealthy. Discussing your plans with your heirs can also help to avert disputes, sudden surprises or misunderstandings. “If there’s no will and no trust, then everyone starts complaining and uncertainty is undeniable. If there’s a trust in place, the trustee takes over and everything rolls along,” Muengenberg said.

Wonders never cease: NYC strips naked

I just had to share!!  Wow!

 

A Bare Market Lasts One Morning

By
Published: August 1, 2011

It was an early Monday morning like any other on Wall Street. Before most of the blue-shirted financiers descended, there came an army of helpers: the custodians and coffee fetchers, personal trainers and headsetted assistants who make the money street run smoothly. They marched along the sidewalks, in a hurry to start their workweek.

Michael Nagle for The New York Times

Drea Bernardi playing her part in the art project “Ocularpation: Wall Street.”

A performer being arrested in front of the New York Stock Exchange on Monday morning after appearing in the project.

Here and there, though, a few people were slowing down, like the trader barking into his cellphone in the calm before the market opened. He paused to loosen his tie. Unbutton his shirt. Take off his pants.

“He’s buck-naked — Lord have mercy!” a woman said, stopping to gawk at, loudly judge and then photograph a sudden expanse of flesh.

Seconds after 7 a.m. on Monday, trousers were dropping and skirts were lifting all along Wall Street. The mass dishabille was part of a site-specific work of performance art, “Ocularpation: Wall Street,” by an artist, Zefrey Throwell. It was intended as a commentary on work and the economy, Mr. Throwell said, though that seemed to be lost on the police stationed near the New York Stock Exchange.

There, three people — two men and a woman dressed (briefly) as a stock trader, a janitor and a dog-walker — were arrested and taken to a nearby precinct, where they were given summons for disorderly conduct and later released. By 7:05 a.m., the remaining 46 men and women who were part of the project had simply put their clothes back on and gone about their day. Mr. Throwell, who also participated — he was dressed, then undressed, as a hot dog vendor — pronounced the artwork a success and went off to the precinct to see about his compatriots.

“It’s like a Fluxus happening — it’s sort of jaw-dropping, it’s this moment, and it’s never going to happen again,” said Argot Murelius, a 43-year-old art writer who participated, her black lace lingerie peeking out from beneath her pink sweatsuit. (Her role in the piece: prostitute.)

For Mr. Throwell, 35, the moment has been a long time coming. Over coffee in Bryant Park last week, he explained his project. It was “an educational attempt,” he said, “to lend more transparency to Wall Street, a street which is so damn mysterious.” Drawing on the common fear of appearing in public naked, he hoped to create “an absurdist Freudian nightmare” of nude employment: “Wall Street, exposed,” as he put it.

The idea came to him after conversations with his mother, Jan Elliott, who retired as a high school counselor in Corvallis, Ore., only to see her nest egg disappear in the financial crisis of 2008; she was forced to re-enter the labor force to survive. Around the same time, Mr. Throwell was eking out a living in a cubicle for the first time, as a customs broker in San Francisco: “One of the most Kafkaesque jobs I’ve ever had,” he said, “like entering the void for eight hours at a time. It was horrible. I’d never been enslaved by labor before.”

For an earlier, one-man iteration of “Ocularpation,” Mr. Throwell sat naked behind a desk in the financial district of San Francisco for 10 minutes, part of a series of works questioning business and consumer culture. The authorities there barely batted an eye. He moved to New York in 2008, where his projects have led to detainment and once to arrest, he said — not surprising, perhaps, for an artist who considers the absurdist comedian Andy Kaufman a prime inspiration.

Mr. Throwell, an admirer of the performance group Improv Everywhere, has also staged an office worker olympics in Midtown Manhattan, with events like the 50-meter swim (held in a fountain). For “New York City Paints Better Than Me,” he donned a white jumpsuit and crawled the streets, becoming a canvas for a composition of trash and slime.

Mr. Throwell studied painting but supports himself as a photographer and filmmaker; he also runs Engineer’s Office, a very small gallery — it’s 6 feet high, 2 feet wide and 2 feet deep, in a decommissioned water fountain nook — in the basement of Rockefeller Center. “Nothing is for sale,” he said, “and it all gets thrown away by a janitor at some undetermined time.”

Though Mr. Throwell wants to push boundaries creatively, he said he does not set out to flout laws with his work. “I see it operating paralegally, alongside the law, in many cases,” he said. “It’s not necessarily illegal to give people 100 air horns and conduct a symphony in the streets and use the building as the resonator. It’s more paralegal, a gray area.”

For “Ocularpation” he was given use of a work space at 14 Wall Street through a program sponsored by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. Aside from the residency, “L.M.C.C. did not provide any financial grants or support for the production of ‘Ocularpation: Wall Street,’ ” a council spokesman said. Being there allowed Mr. Throwell to canvass the area; his nonscientific survey revealed a labor force at odds with what people might expect.

Michael Nagle for The New York Times

A performer being arrested in front of the New York Stock Exchange on Monday morning after appearing in the project.

  Michael Nagle for The New York Times

Zefrey Throwell, who devised the project, speaking with a police officer on Wall Street. Mr. Throwell also participated in “Ocularpation,” playing the part of a hot dog vendor.

“Kids in Calcutta and kids in Tulsa right now are talking about Wall Street, but they have never been there, and don’t know that there’s a Tiffany’s,” he said, or “that there’s more sandwich shops than banks, that there’s more gyms happening there than stock trading.” Demystifiying the street, he said he felt, was one step in educating people about the interconnected financial realities and critiquing the system.

Casting was not a problem. Mr. Throwell first put out a call to artist friends, “and I found an organization that I love very much now, called the Young Naturists and Nudists of New York City,” he said. “They’re a fun-loving bunch.” (Asked why he chose to stage the project now, he answered, “Because it’s warm.”)

Roger Gindi, 59, a member of the Young Naturists group, played the part of a janitor in “Ocularpation.” Wearing only a yellow sweatband, he carefully mopped a section of the street. “I like this kind of participatory art,” said Mr. Gindi, a veteran of several Spencer Tunick nude photos and, in his clothed hours, a Broadway producer.

Though Mr. Throwell hoped that the public would connect the nude Wall Street workers with the economy, most did not make that leap. Faced with a woman stripping off her bra and panties as she talked into a headset about ordering a case of Champagne for her boss, or with a man, all his bits dangling, leading an invisible aerobics class on the sidewalk, passers-by simply whipped out their camera phones.

“It’s a commercial,” someone said. “Some kind of stunt,” another person ventured. “The craziest thing I’ve seen down here,” offered a third.

“Is it a statement?” asked Aileen Carson, a health aide who stopped to take in the scene. “What are they trying to say?” Whatever it was, she liked it. “They had the boldness to do it, which I admire,” she said, surveying the bodies. “It looked to me that they’re free.”

Korey Smith, a newspaper vendor outside the Wall Street stop of the 2/3 subway, watched the proceedings as only a New Yorker might. “There has been a lot of nakedness this summer,” he observed. “That’s the theme this year. I’m not even shocked.”

One person who understood the work’s aim, since she helped inspire it, was Mr. Throwell’s mother, whose maternal support extended only so far.

“My son is very creative,” Ms. Elliott said carefully when reached by phone. “I’m a little bit more prudish.” She did not make it to the Wall Street installation on Monday morning.

“She doesn’t necessarily agree with it,” her son said. “But she said she appreciates the thought.”

 

 

 

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Kirstie Alley’s Organic Liaison: A healhy alternative?

I’ve only tasted it. A friend of mine is on it, and it was great…rather I should say, it tastes healthy. The one comment that I would like to make is this: In order for any of us to drop weight, especially for those who have a significant amount to lose, you will have to CHANGE your lifestyle habits. That is changing with the understanding that “if” you go back to your old ways, you’ll blow up like a balloon again. I know. I’ve done this. It’s referred to as yo-yo dieting.

There is no doubt that the amount of sugar, chemical additives, preservatives, etc. that’s being added to our foods is unhealthy and a sure way to sabotage our health, so promoting organic eating is not rocket science–it is obviously the healthier choice. Kirstie Alley has lived the yo-yo cycle, and got sick of it. She chose a healthier approach and kudos to her! She looks fabulous! Now, she has made this product available to all of us.

Some of the negative reviews that I’ve read state that the products taste lousy. Truthfully, how many “healthy” products actually taste fantastic? Most don’t. Have you ever tasted wheat-grass or spirulina? They’re ghastly! Drinking those things make me want to MOO like a cow, however, they are good for my body, so I do take them as often as I can.

As a person who has battled weight gain off and on for many years of my adult life, believe me, I speak from the platform of experience. Getting very honest with yourself is paramount, and losing weight is not about drinking something that tastes like See’s Candies. We honestly shouldn’t even be concerned with pleasing our palate’s, we’ve done enough of that during our lifetime–I certainly have, and it’s contributed to my weight gain. The main concern should be “HEALTH.” Sugar is a culprit, artificial processed foods, chemicals, etc. are killing American people. Children are more obese today than ever before, in fact, childhood obesity is at epidemic proportions. This shouldn’t be happening!

So, for those who want to criticize Ms. Alley, and talk about her product as being “gross,” and/or smelling like “vomit,” you might want to adjust your thinking some. This product is to promote not JUST weight loss, but over-all health. In addition, it is to support healthy weight loss. It isn’t a quick-fix, but it is a healthy way to support you during your quest for better health and weight loss.

Bottom line… If you want to get healthier and lose weight (no matter how much), you cannot expect to get the results you want doing the same things you’ve been doing, and if you “think” you’ll do something for a season and go back to your normal eating regiment, you are deceiving yourself, because you’ll just gain it all back and then some.

I’m excited for Ms. Alley, and look forward to ordering this and trying it for myself. I already eat only organic, so the taste will probably not be an issue for me at all. Taste is not my objective, but ingesting good quality foods and supplements that are going to support weight loss and health are paramount.

Where have all the hero’s gone? Drug addicts and sex symbols are the new hero’s.

Today I came across an article posted in the New York Times about a new opera that is supposedly taking the theatrical world by storm.  It’s the story of Anna Nicole Smith, the American sex symbol, Playboy Playmate, hapless model, laughable actress and fortune-hunting wife of a billionaire nearly 63 years her senior? Commissioned by, no less, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden? When the plans were announced, it sounded like a dubious idea, a tawdry way for a major opera house to look hip.  While I do understand creative artistry, and that often times theatrical productions push the limits with various topics, my concern is the idolization of an obviously very disturbed woman like Anna Nicole Smith. Frankly, it’s sensationalist madness. To add to the madness is the scary fact that some members of society embrace and esteem the lives of those who are obviously troubled as hero’s!

That being said… I have not seen the work, and according to the Times, “The London audience ate it up. But so did I, because in the end this is a musically rich, audacious and inexplicably poignant work.”  While this might have received standing ovations, and high-volume applause, it’s doubtful it will ever hold ranks with La Boheme or Madame Butterfly, etc.

Here is a clip:  videoplay.php?colid=211287

“Raunchy and convincing, but incredible,” so the fans say.  There is no doubt this was done well, and the performers are certainly well-trained vocalists.  My concern is more the identification with someone like Anna Nicole Smith.  Perhaps it’s the beauty of conflict within a story that makes something like this appealing.  It’s doubtful anyone is going to write an opera about Mother Theresa in Calcutta.

I would like to see less about tabloid super-star types, and more about people who have beat the odds – those who have stood in the face of turbulent life situations and said, “I won’t be beaten.”

Those are my thoughts… 🙂