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Secrets of Times Square

There Was No Ball Drop in 1942 or 1943

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In 1942 and 1943, the glowing Ball was temporarily retired due to the wartime “dimout” of lights in New York City. The crowds who still gathered in Times Square in those years greeted the New Year with a minute of silence followed by chimes ringing out from sound trucks parked at the base of the Times Tower.

The New York Times retained ownership of the Tower until 1961, when it was sold to developer Douglas Leigh, who was also the designer and deal-maker behind many of the spectacular signs in Times Square, including the famous Camel billboard that blew water-vapor “smoke rings” over the street. Mr. Leigh stripped the building down to its steel frame, then re-clad it in white marble as the headquarters for Allied Chemical Corporation.

Today, New Year’s Eve in Times Square is a bona fide international phenomenon. Each year, hundreds of thousands of people still gather around the Tower, now known as One Times Square, and wait for hours in the cold of a New York winter for the famous Ball-lowering ceremony. Thanks to satellite technology, a worldwide audience estimated at over one billion people watch the ceremony each year. The lowering of the Ball has become the world’s symbolic welcome to the New Year.

Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret, opera and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. She has a screenplay and a TV show in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She is a proud member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle and was a nominator. Email: suzanna@t2conline.com

Events

Time To Recycle Your Textiles

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The Broadway Green Alliance (BGA) is teaming up with Wearable Collections for a Spring 2024 Textile Recycling Drive in the center of Times Square on April 10, 2024 from 11:00am – 2:00pm. This drive is open to all shows, theatres, industry members, and fans as a free resource to responsibly recycle their unwanted show and personal textiles.

ACCEPTED:
All used and clean clothing including shoes and hats, as well as household items such as curtains, linens, towels, handbags, and belts.

NOT ACCEPTED:
Carpeting, rugs, bath mats, comforters, household items, pillows, large luggage, fabric yardage, and scraps of any kind.

Community members unable to attend this event can drop-off their items at the refashionNYC textile bin. This bin is located in the lounge of the Actors’ Equity Association at 165 West 46th Street on the fourth floor and is available on days when there are on-site Equity auditions.

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Art

Midnight Moment Presents Life Forms

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Each midnight this April, Times Square’s screens become a portal into New York-based artist Tricia McLaughlin’s Life Forms, a humorous fantasy world filled with hard working mutant creatures who toil around the clock constructing an endless city. As these glassy-eyed creatures called “Phantasmachina” mount buildings and scale sidewalks, a threatening figure starts to approach. Undeterred, the organisms continue their Sisyphean task.

Crafted through painting and  3D animations, these life forms are inspired by biotechnology, prosthetics and the exploration of mutation. Striving to anthropomorphize geometry, McLaughlin imbues her community with not only emotions but also a sense of social responsibility.

A recorded musical score by David B. Smith and Omar Zubair will accompany McLaughlin’s Midnight Moment presentation on April 5, 2024 on Duffy Square.

Life Forms is presented in conjunction with McLaughlin’s exhibition phantasmachina, showcasing drawings, paintings and animations sponsored by En Foco at WallWorks Gallery in the Bronx, NY, from April 6–30, 2024. In addition, TFLR Contemporary will present an online exhibition of McLaughlin’s work, Out of the Abyss, from April 1–30, 2024.

Tricia McLaughlin is a physical and digital media artist exploring the transformative effects of technology on nature with unexpected consequences. Mutant creations where function follows form stem from McLaughlin’s intuitive repurposing of robotics, biotechnology, and aeronautics. As McLaughlin explains her process, “each painting and drawing begins as a collection of random marks on a page, allowing my subconscious mind to guide the initial creation. As the artwork develops, I start to see patterns and shapes arranging the chaos. Then I refine and define these elements, gradually transforming the initial marks into living, mechanical beings and/or structures.” Paintings are inserted into animation, 3D-designed constructions inspire paintings.

TFLR CONTEMPORARY is a gallery dedicated to exhibiting emerging and mid-career artists, both in the US and abroad. Exhibitions and curatorial projects are planned throughout the year in various venues and online platforms.

En Foco, Inc. presents U.S.-based photographers and digital imaging artists, focusing on women and people of African, Asian, Latino, Native American, and Pacific Islander heritage. Through exhibitions, workshops, events, and publications, it provides professional recognition, honoraria, and assistance as they grow into different stages of their careers.

The phantasmachina exhibition is co-presented by En Foco, Inc. and WallWorks Gallery, South Bronx, NYC.

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Family

Miniso Launches A Pop-Up in Times Square Complementing Their Flagship Store

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The flagship Miniso store in Times Square is on the corner of 42nd Street and 7th. Now there is a pop-up situated next to the Disney Store at 1540 Broadway. This shop will remain open for a year as a plushie and IP heaven, with products including Sanrio, Snoopy, Winnie the Pooh, and Minions. It s the perfect store for teens, tweens and those who love cute, practical products that relish the child within.

I decided to go shopping in the store and bought the following: These adorable Sally “Peanuts Sock”, which are super soft and comfortable ($6.99)

Some fabulous facial masks ($2.99 – $5.99) and will definitely be back for more.

Easter Egg Q-Tips ($3.99). These were a great buy.

 A Sanrio wireless speaker ($25.99), that I have yet to have made work, though it is adorable.

And my favorite purchase Hello Kitty sticky roller ($6.99). This is one of the best I have ever used. I have a long haired white cat and this really does the job.

Miniso is continuing to expand rapidly around the world, particularly in the US where it now has 120 stores in more than 20 states.

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Music

Jessica Vosk Set To Do Two Pop Up Concerts In NYC

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Broadway’s Jessica Vosk (Wicked, Fiddler on the Roof, Finding Neverland) will perform an intimate pop-up concert on April 4–5 at the Paradise Club (at Times Square EDITION Hotel), 701 7th Avenue.

Vosk is a celebrated singer and actress known for stirring roles on the musical theater and concert stage. Vosk made her Carnegie Hall debut in November 2021 in a sold-out solo show titled “My Golden Age.” Other upcoming concert debuts include London’s Cadogan Hall in 2022. Before the infamous shutdown, she starred as the Narrator in the 50th anniversary of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at Lincoln Center. She also created the role of Aunt Val in the world premiere of Becoming Nancy, directed and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell. Before that, Vosk finished an acclaimed run as Elphaba in Wicked on Broadway, having played the role for two years. Vosk starred in New York City Ballet’s Jerome Robbins tribute Something to Dance About, directed by Warren Carlyle, and re-created the role of Fruma Sarah in the most recent Broadway revival of Fiddler on the Roof. Other Broadway credits include Finding Neverland and The Bridges of Madison County. She starred as Anita in West Side Story with the San Francisco Symphony; the recording of the concert was nominated for a Grammy. Her debut, Billboard-charting solo album Wild and Free was released in 2018 and was followed by 2020’s A Very Coco Christmas.

The Thursday concert will begin at 7pm while the Friday concert will begin at 8:30pm.

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Art

Times Square Arts Present Hot Dog In The City

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Times Square Arts is pleased to present Hot Dog in the City, a 65 foot-long public art installation by the dynamic artist duo Jen Catron and Paul Outlaw. Equal parts spectacle, celebration, and critique, the project supersizes the hot dog as an iconic symbol of New York City as an elaborate large-scale sculptures to kinetic installations and immersive experiences often infused with humor and camp to prompt cultural and political commentary.

The hot dog will take street meat to new heights with a sculpture of the iconic New York City style hot dog. Complete with hydraulics and bursts of confetti, this spectacular animatronic installation sited in the heart of Times Square will also be an anchor for serious talks, playful performances, and political debate. At 65 feet long, Hot Dog in the City will (unofficially) top the record for World’s Largest Hot Dog.

Equal parts spectacle, celebration, and critique, the Catron and Outlaw symbolically supersize the all-American hot dog to examine consumption, capitalism, class, and contemporary culture. Hot Dog in the City builds upon the artists’ layered conceptual practice which spans elaborate large-scale sculptures, kinetic installations and immersive experiences, often infused with humor and camp to prompt cultural and political commentary.

Introduced to the American masses by central European immigrants as a working-class street food in the 1800s, the hot dog has since become synonymous with contemporary American culture — a staple at baseball games and Fourth of July celebrations, and even employed as a tool of US international relations, referred to as “hot dog diplomacy.” As a symbol and a street cart offering, the hot dog is also a mainstay throughout Times Square and a New York City icon, akin to the yellow taxi cab, the pretzel, the deli cup, and the Playbill.

Free and on view to the public 24/7 during its exhibition in Times Square, Hot Dog in the Cityconsists of  a colossal bun and classic red-tinged frankfurter topped with a giant drizzle of mustard. Controlled by hydraulic mechanisms, the hot dog will periodically ascend toward the sky and shower visitors below with confetti. Staged at high noon, these confetti festivities playfully reference quintessential American celebrations — from New Year’s Eve and hometown parades, to political rallies and gender reveal parties — as well as the hyper-masculinity and showmanship often associated with American culture and patriotism.

While Catron and Outlaw’s sculpture reverberates with the spectacle and towering scale that defines Times Square, the colossal frank also serves as a Trojan horse for deeper dialogue. Drawing parallels between the history of the hot dog and American culture as a whole, the project sheds light on topics such as street vending as an immigrant experience, the underbelly of the meat industry, the patriarchy of meat-eating, and American politics.

Throughout the duration of the project, Catron, Outlaw and Times Square Arts will activate the sculpture and its surroundings with public programs that explore the complexities, conflicting views, and absurdities and lore of the hot dog in New York City and America. Performances, talks, debates, and contests—such as a virtual condiment ballot box, wrestling matches, and dialogues led by street vendors and food historians—aim to inspire meaningful conversations and draw unexpected intersections. Whether you’re Team Ketchup vs Team Mustard, a vegan or competitive meat eater, the hot dog offers a low-stakes exercise in engaging opposing views and embracing a diversity of perspectives. The simultaneously delightful and grotesque super-sized artwork holds multitudes of opportunities for both entertainment and contemplation.

To further uplift the voices of street vendors and the critical civic issues that shape the landscape of their work, the artists will launch a video series with the Street Vendor Project (SVP)—a membership-based organization that champions the rights of street vendors as small businesses to earn a living and contribute to the culture and life of New York City.

Jen Catron (b. 1984, Bluford, Illinois) and Paul Outlaw (b. 1980, Fairhope, Alabama)  are collaborative artists who create elaborately staged, large-scale sculptures, kinetic installations, participatory experiences and immersive environments that oscillate between the tragic and absurd. The duo’s enduring fascination with gastronomy and performance took them all the way to the reality TV show “Chopped,” which became the pinnacle of their performative fish fry food truck project. Catron and Outlaw often use humor, camp, and spectacle as a subtle veil for subversion, and their layered conceptual works become a genuinely playful and entertaining platform for pointed cultural and political commentary. The two first met and joined forces while studying at the Cranbrook Academy of Art located outside of Detroit, Michigan. After graduation, they relocated their art practice to Brooklyn, New York, where they continue to live and work. Their work has been exhibited at institutions such as the Brooklyn Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, Cranbrook Art Museum, and Postmasters Gallery.

The project will be on view in Times Square’s largest plaza, Duffy Square, from April 30 to June 13, 2024.

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