Interesting comments on Dez Bryant from Jerry and Stephen Jones – Blogging The Boys (blog)

Blogging The Boys (blog)

Interesting comments on Dez Bryant from Jerry and Stephen Jones
Blogging The Boys (blog)
A hot topic for the Cowboys this offseason is the future of Dez Bryant. Bryant's production has been slipping the past few years, and this year he had the most drops of his career, making him a target of invective from parts of the fanbase. Part of the

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The resurrection of Nantes: how free public art brought the city back to life

How did the French city transform post-war decline into a growing cultural awakening? By giving the public open access to free contemporary art

After a carousel ride aboard a giant octopus with moving tentacles, we emerge to find an oversized mechanical elephant wandering down the street, steam blowing from its trunk. In the moat of a 14th-century castle lies an electricity pylon, crackling sinisterly.

This is not a surreal version of Disneyland, but the north-western French city of Nantes. The elephant and marine-themed carousel are just two of the highly original attractions created by La Machine, a street theatre company that has given this citys old docks and shipbuilding warehouses a new lease of life.

Nantes hasnt always been associated with such fun and frolics. The 20th century left many scars geographical, physical and emotional. Firstly, the citys canals and waterways were filled in between the wars, robbing it of its title as a Venice of the west. Less than two decades later, in 1943, it suffered badly at the hands of allied bombs. In the 1980s, its historic shipbuilding yards closed for good.

Added to this trauma is the peculiar fact that, though historically and geographically a part of Brittany, Nantes was temporarily separated from the region during the second world war and never made its way back. It is an anomaly many local Nantais still resent, believing it to have rid them of their historic Breton identity.

Undercurrent by Paris-based collective HeHe: a fallen electricity pylon in the moat of a 14th-century Nantes castle. Photograph: Franck Tomps /LVAN

The city was culturally dead when I arrived here, says Jean Blaise, an artistic director and cultural impresario who has been based in Nantes since the mid-1980s. There was one interesting festival and the opera house, thats all.

Blaise was determined to transform the city and its fortunes. In the late 1980s, along with Nantes socialist mayor Jean-Marc Ayrault, he set about creating culture wherever he could. They had two cardinal rules: events had to be free, and they should take place outdoors or in public spaces.

If you make people pay for culture, or only offer it in enclosed spaces like theatres or museums, you will only ever reach a small percentage of the population, Blaise says.

The pairs first move was to launch a festival called Les Allumes. Artists hailing from a different major metropolis every year (including Barcelona, St Petersburg and Buenos Aires) were invited to take over every part of the town, including bridges, industrial sites and private apartments.

Events were hosted for six consecutive nights, from 6pm to 6am. At two in the morning everyone would relocate to a huge vacant industrial lot and there would be live music and a bar, Blaise recalls. It was a way of opening Nantes to the world.

Corsican artist Ange Leccias exhibition of video works at Nantes HAB Galerie. Photograph: Bernard Renoux/LVAN

Other cities sat up and took notice, as did the national press. Nantes developed an image as a plugged-in, trendy and creative city. The Allumes festival was only ever intended to last for six years we wanted there to be the anticipation and thrill of the pre-programmed ending, Blaise says but in that time, it kickstarted a new phenomenon: using abandoned industrial spaces for theatre, art and music.

In 2000, Blaise became the founding director of a major new cultural centre, Le Lieu unique, in the former LU biscuit factory (makers of the famous Petit Beurre) on the river Loire. In 2007, he oversaw the creation of a contemporary art biennale, Estuaire; that too lasted six years, and has resulted in a permanent arts trail by French and international artists.

The citys most recent arts event is a two-month summer street festival, Le Voyage Nantes (the Journey to Nantes), launched in 2011. The idea of the festival is to colonise every part of town with artistic creation, Blaise says.

Traverses, by Aurlien Bory, is a series of permanent geometric crossings. Photograph: Franck Tomps

In fact, Le Voyage is not merely a festival, but also the municipal body that looks after both culture and tourism in the city, with Blaise at its helm. Combining the management of cultural venues and tourism sites was a first for France, he explains. It means we can have one strategy, one branding identity and one offer that is at once rich and very organised.

Getting to this virtuous point hasnt been easy, however. A lot of people thought the public art was an unnecessary and gratuitous provocation, Blaise says. They asked us, Why are you wasting my taxes? … Why are you making art for Bobos [bourgeois bohemians] and Parisians?

The subsequent shift in attitudes has been dramatic. Now, even the shopkeepers and traders at one time our harshest critics, he says want artists to create quirky and humorous signs or installations for their shop-fronts. Furthermore, designers, artists and architects are now being commissioned to do much more than just public art installations.

I dont think 100% of the population likes or understands what we do, Blaise says, but there is this contact, this phenomenon of impregnation and exposure to contemporary art, which means today there is an understanding of art that did not exist 10 or 15 years ago.

Notable creations for past summer festivals include a picnic area in the docklands overlooking the city, a captivating sculptural playground, and a surreal distorted football pitch all of which are now permanent fixtures in the city.

For this years edition, artistic director Aurlien Bory was asked to rethink a major boulevard on the le de Nantes (an island in the city centre where the port and shipbuilding yards once thrived). The outcome is a series of florid and geometric crossings that encourages peaceful coexistence between pedestrians, cars and bicycles without the need for lights.

Its rare for a public works company to collaborate with artists but we can do this today because we are credible, Blaise says. Weve shown art and culture is not just about decoration or adornment.

Perhaps most importantly, Blaise has proved that culture can make money. Voyage Nantes spends 3m (2.5m) on the festival, but the economic returns are now put at more than 48.8m, thanks to last summers 615,000 visitors (of which 15% were from neighbouring European countries).

Ping-Pong Park by Laurent Perbos is one of several works commissioned for Le Voyage summer festival which are destined to become long-term. Photograph: Franck Tomps/LVAN

With between 6,000 and 9,000 people moving here every year, Nantes is now one of the fastest growing cities in France; unemployment levels are also consistently lower than the national average.

Meeting people and networking is a lot easier here; everything goes much faster, says Nicolas Mitric, of the graphic and visual storytelling firm Termites Factory. Three of the companys four partners are from Paris, yet they chose to set up in Nantes for its creative buzz, affordable prices and human scale you can cycle everywhere, Mitric enthuses.

If I could fault one thing, it would be that the Nantais are just too modest, he adds. If they shouted about their town a bit louder and the city offered more funding to businesses moving here, this could easily become a French Silicon Valley an essential stop for digital and creative professionals in this part of the world.

One of Blaises many mantras is: When money is well spent, culture is never too expensive. But he is well aware that none of this would have been possible without political continuity: Ayrault (now French foreign minister) was mayor of Nantes for 23 years; his successor, Johanna Rolland, is also a socialist and keen to carry on this cultural project.

Given all his charisma, relationships and energy, however, what will happen to Nantes after Blaise goes? People associate me with all cultural projects in this city, but there are plenty initiated by other people, he says. If a city wants to have a strong and resilient cultural policy, it can go out and buy team members somewhere else, just like a football club.

The important thing is to understand that culture is fundamental for the life of a city, he concludes. In fact, it cannot exist without it.

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Venezuela Refuses to Default. Few People Seem to Understand Why.

Its been almost two years now since the renowned Harvard economist Ricardo Hausmann caused a stir in his native Venezuela by posing an uncomfortable question.

Why does a country thats so starved for cash keep honoring its foreign debts? In other words, how does it justify shelling out precious hard currency to wealthy bondholders in New York when it cant pay for basic food and medicine imports desperately needed by millions of impoverished citizens? I find the moral choice odd, Hausmann concluded.

Nicolas Maduro
Photographer: Carlos Becerra/Bloomberg

He was, predictably, skewered by the administration back in Caracas — President Nicolas Maduro labeled him a financial hitman and an outlaw on national television — but today the question feels more urgent than ever. Prices for oil, Venezuelas lifeblood, have fallen almost by half since Hausmann first spoke out and the countrys cash squeeze has deepened dramatically. The chaos has reached unprecedented levels — food rationing, looting, mob lynchings, collapsing medical care — yet through it all, bond traders have received every dime they were owed, billions and billions of dollars in all.

There are two worlds, said Francisco Ghersi, a managing director of Knossos Asset Management in Caracas. The world of the bondholders and the world of whats happening in Venezuela.

The 21st century has produced a slew of government defaults across the globe, from Argentina to Ecuador to Ukraine. In almost every instance, the country in crisis hit the default button long before the situation got as ugly as it has in Venezuela. The only similar case that economists point to is Zimbabwe back in the early 2000s. But even that comparison is flawed, says American University professor Arturo Porzecanski, because Venezuela was significantly wealthier than Zimbabwe before crisis struck and so the South American countrys collapse has been of a much greater magnitude.

For a QuickTake explainer on Venezuelas economy, click here.

What makes this pay-the-debt-at-any-cost approach all the more curious is that it comes in a country run by self-proclaimed socialists who have railed for the better part of two decades against foreign capitalist powers. There are endless theories, spawned in part by Hausmanns public pronouncement, as to why the Maduro administration has stuck so doggedly to this policy. The main ones fall into three rough categories.

Food Riots

The first of them is an argument thats been floated publicly by high-ranking government officials themselves. It states that Venezuela can wait it out till oil prices rebound. Why rock the boat, the thinking goes, if salvation is potentially just weeks away? (Prices have been rallying of late, climbing to near $50 a barrel.)

A worker walks through a looted store in San Felix.
Photographer: Wilfredo Riera/Bloomberg

The next argument is something of a conspiracy theory born in part out of the opaque nature of the countrys finances. It posits that close associates of the administration are major holders of the countrys bonds and that the government fears itd lose their much-needed support if the payments stopped coming in. Efforts to obtain comment from government press officials on this and other aspects of the story were unsuccessful.

The third theory, and its one that ties back into the first idea, states that even though Venezuela lost access to international capital markets a long time ago, a default could still deepen the governments cash squeeze by triggering legal action from creditors that would undermine the countrys ability to export. If fewer petro-dollars flow into the country, the savings from the default could be washed away, making the situation on the ground even worse.

Its frankly hard to imagine what a further deterioration would look like. After shrinking an estimated 7.5 percent in 2015, the economy is forecast to post an even bigger contraction this year. Food shortages are now so acute, and lines outside stores so long, that spontaneous protests are popping up everywhere. In one episode in the 500-year-old coastal city of Cumana, hundreds were arrested and a middle-aged man was shot to death, one of three fatalities at food-related demonstrations in June alone. There have been so many vigilante justice-style lynchings — more than 70 in the first four months of this year — that the supreme court has banned Venezuelans from sharing video recordings of the gruesome events on social media.

Defaults Benefits

To Hausmann and to legal experts who have studied the countrys oil operations, the risk of angry creditors blocking exports after a default is actually small. The way that PDVSA, as the state oil company is known, structured sales contracts makes it difficult for them to be interrupted by a legal challenge, according to Francesca Odell, a partner at Cleary Gottlieb in New York. What Hausmann and others see instead from a default is the opportunity to free up a big chunk of cash that could be re-directed toward imports.

The government is due to make $1.5 billion in foreign debt payments in the second half of this year. Include PDVSAs tab and the figure swells to $5.8 billion. Its a staggering sum of money in a nation that has bled its hard currency reserves down to just $12 billion. And while few, if any, bondholders would embrace a default, they certainly wouldnt be caught off-guard by it. For the better part of the past 18 months, the governments benchmark bonds have been trading under 50 cents on the dollar, a price that in essence signals to a debtor: Were prepared for a restructuring, go ahead and do it if you must.

Its fairly shocking that they have decided to service the debt over all else, said Risa Grais-Targow, an analyst at Eurasia Group in Washington. But I do think the commitment is fairly strong.

Protesters push a police line during demonstrations in Caracas, on June 7, 2016.
Photographer: Carlos Becerra/Bloomberg

Maduro, the man handpicked by the late Hugo Chavez to succeed him, has spoken frequently about his determination to keep paying the debt. In a speech back in May he proudly explained how the country had doled out $36 billion to creditors — a huge amount of money — over the previous 20 months. The payments were made, he went on to say, with dignity, without accepting preconditions from anyone, maintaining the countrys independence despite the pain. These are references to multilateral lenders like the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, institutions that are despised by the Latin American left.

As long as Maduro continues to pay, there will be investors willing to own the debt. Venezuelas bonds are among the highest-paying investments in emerging markets, offering today an average yield of 26 percent. Thats in dollars — in a world where many developed-nation bonds are yielding close to zero (or even less). And since Chavez swept into office 17 years ago, the countrys bonds have handed investors a total return of 517 percent.

It is one of the most miserable, mismanaged, hopeless countries on the planet, said Jan Dehn, head of research at Ashmore Group Plc, which manages $50 billion of emerging-market assets. But that doesnt mean you cant make money.

Hausmann, meanwhile, is more incensed than ever.

In a recent interview, he called the governments insistence on paying the debt, coupled with a churchs claim that it rejected offers of international aid, a crime against humanity. Theres a history here, it should be noted, between the professor and the Chavistas. Some two decades ago, he served in the business-friendly government that Chavez tried to overthrow in a coup attempt that effectively launched his political career. Perhaps that explains some of the enmity between the two sides. Regardless, this is what Hausmann wants to ask the folks on the other side: How can they sleep at night? Its beyond belief.

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Sell Your Blog: How Much is Your Blog Worth? – PakWired


Sell Your Blog: How Much is Your Blog Worth?
The entrepreneur / marketer — These buyers are often more interested in what's behind the blog than how much money it's making. For example, I had a PR blog that several PR firms wanted to purchase (these were the highest offers I've received thus far

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Sources: Wide receivers coach Derek Dooley not coming back, other sources say not true – Blogging The Boys (blog)

Blogging The Boys (blog)

Sources: Wide receivers coach Derek Dooley not coming back, other sources say not true
Blogging The Boys (blog)
A report has Derek Dooley gone, but other sources say no decision has been reached. By RJ Ochoa@rjochoa Jan 1, 2018, 8:30pm CST. tweet · share · pin · Rec. Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports. Late on New Year's day, it was reported that the Dallas Cowboys

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How Robert Evans changed movies for ever – and for the better

With The Godfather and Chinatown, Robert Evans revolutionised the movie industry. Now, Simon McBurney is staging the moguls scandalous memoir, The Kid Stays in the Picture. They talk about art, life and America

Half a century ago, Hollywood was at a crossroads. The major studios were in the doldrums, haemorrhaging money on bloated star vehicles such as Paint Your Wagon that were relics from a different era. Iconoclastic social critiques such as Bonnie and Clyde and Easy Rider were generating headlines and queues around the block. No one knew what the public wanted next. All bets were off. There was a brief window where someone could go into a studio and propose any film, explains Simon McBurney, the 59-year-old actor and artistic director of groundbreaking theatre company Complicite, when we meet in an east London cafe.

He sounds so excited by this notion that he would surely be rubbing his hands with glee if his right thumb were not swaddled in a cartoonishly large bandage, the sort that Tom might wear after Jerry has thwacked his paw with a mallet. It was an accident while cleaning the blender: I didnt realise it was plugged in. It took a piece out of my thumb the size of a sugar lump. I wince in sympathy but he looks blankly at me from beneath the brim of his canvas cap. He is too caught up in thinking about that Hollywood revolution to worry about a sore thumb. One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest was for him the clinching film from the American new wave of the late 1960s into the 1970s. As an actor, that was the absolute explosion for me, he says.

McBurney is steeped in the era and its social and cultural impact again now that he is directing an adaptation of The Kid Stays in the Picture, the scandalous, hard-boiled show-business memoir by producer Robert Evans, who transformed the industry when he became head of production at Paramount. In shepherding to the screen hits including Rosemarys Baby, The Godfather and Chinatown, he took the studio from ninth place (of nine) to No 1.

In a moment youll ask me another question and Ill tell you some other lie Simon McBurney. Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian

The dynamic and silver-tongued Evans, who is 86 and still has an office on the Paramount lot, was a former actor who became a millionaire in his 20s after selling the womens clothing business he had started with his brother. (He liked to say he was in womens pants.) He described himself as a half-assed actor but what he knew about was story. In the second half of the 1960s he snapped up the rights to novels including The Detective and The Godfather (when it was still titled Mafia and amounted to a pile of rumpled pages), which he transformed into modestly budgeted mega-hits. He also mastered cross-platforming long before that term was coined: the publisher of Love Story didnt have much faith in that tearjerker but Evans put $25,000 toward expanding its print run when he bought the film rights. He then nurtured relationships among media subsidiaries of Paramounts parent company, Gulf+Western, to guarantee the success of the book, which in turn boosted the movie version.

He was a gambler, to be sure, and the gambles didnt always pay off. Towards the end of the 1970s, he was deeply in debt and addicted to cocaine; in the 80s he was briefly a murder suspect after the death of a potential investor in his film The Cotton Club (a spectacular flop). But he was also a visionary. He changed the movies for ever, and for the better it was he who ordered Francis Ford Coppola to add nearly an hour to The Godfather after the director turned in an initial cut that resembled, in Evanss words, a long, bad trailer for a really good film.

What he understood, says McBurney, was fuck stars, fuck distribution. Whats key is story. He worked out that if you get the right story, everybody will go. The more truthful that story is, the more not on the money but slightly ahead of the money, the more it will key into the zeitgeist. People had begun to understand through television that there were some shit things going on in the world and they wanted a degree of that reality.

Clint Dyer and Danny Huston in rehearsals for The Kid Stays in the Picture. Photograph: Sarah Ainslie/Royal Court

One of the elements that interests McBurney in Evanss memoir is the overlap between art and life. The preface to The Kid Stays in the Picture memorably begins: There are three sides to every story: yours mine and the truth. No one is lying. McBurney smiles at that. The whole question of what is and isnt true is a fascinating one. People say, But is it a real story? Well, all stories are real because they all really do something, they all really engage you. When I told you about my thumb you bought into it because its a good story. I can make it less good Its fine, its just a little cut but I choose to embellish because I enjoy telling stories. This extends even to the nature of our conversation. In a moment youll ask me another question and Ill tell you some other lie. He smiles faintly and takes a chomp on his sandwich.

The distinction between fact and fiction is particularly irrelevant in the case of Evans because of the bizarre hall-of-mirrors effect created by his films. After Love Story was released, the rate of impregnation suddenly shot up. When The Godfather opened, it became the favourite film of the mafia, who then began to dress like the characters in the film. There is this extraordinary interplay in 20th-century American culture, says McBurney, between who people are and who they imagine they are. Look at America now. Everything is corrupt. Everything is done on the fly, with a degree of improvisation. There is the surface where you have the myth and the magic, but underneath its extremely murky. As Evans said to Henry Kissinger, politics is only second-rate show business. Which then of course becomes true with the election of Ronald Reagan. And Kissinger, coming out of The Godfather, says: Its just like Washington but with different faces.

No one familiar with Complicites work would expect a straight adaptation of the book. It seems McBurney is planning to use Evanss story as a prism through which to view the US. Kind of, he says with a slight grimace. Im not hijacking the story. What interests me is the way that something is real and not real, happening and not happening. Theres a story about it and yet the story is the reality.

Marlon Brando in The Godfather (1972). Photograph: Allstar/Paramount

The creative process behind any McBurney production can appear precarious to outsiders: A Disappearing Number, Complicites show about the mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan, was first staged in 2007 in an incomplete form, and there was still no script for The Encounter 10 days before its premiere in 2015. I can vouch that a script exists for The Kid Stays in the Picture it occupies the seat beside its author while we talk but the details are still up in the air. There are unlikely to be any clips from Evanss movies. That would just make you want to see the rest of the film. McBurney will admit that there is currently a live camera feed in the show. Whether there will be finally I dont know. The actor Danny Huston (whose father, John, was unforgettably sinister as Noah Cross in Chinatown) has been cast in the show but there is a rumour that the role of Evans will be divided among multiple performers, la Todd Hayness Dylan film Im Not There or, indeed, Beware of Pity, Complicites recent Stefan Zweig adaptation.

Of course, there is only one Robert Evans. When I call him at his home in Los Angeles, he is in good spirits. His words sometimes come haltingly he suffered a series of strokes in the late 1990s but the charm is intact and impressive. As is that deep, rich voice, both gravelly and sweet. I ask what makes a good producer and he gives a wheezing laugh. Thats a good question. Every success Ive had has been for a different reason and every failure for the same one I said yes when I meant no. With very few exceptions, thats been the story of my life. Darryl Zanuck told me, If you can introduce your movie in a paragraph youll make it a hit. If you can do it in a sentence, youve got yourself a blockbuster. He was 5ft 4. Height is clearly an important factor here, so I ask Evans how tall he is. 5ft 10! he says with relish. He has the knack of making well-worn stories sound as though theyve just popped into his head. The next moment, he will ambush you with a poignant reflection. Im still alive. A little battered. But I like myself. For not selling out. There are people who have bigger homes, bigger boats. I dont care about that. No one has bigger dreams.

I wonder what he sees when he looks around Hollywood today. Young people, he shoots back without missing a beat. However. Im not into machines. Im not into Mars. I like feelings. How does it feel? That, to me, is the turn-on. And story. If it aint on the page, it aint on the screen, or anywhere else. McBurney concurs: The studios now will only fund something if they know its going to make money if its superhero X, Y or Z, and it did well the first time, then theyll make a second or third. Or, for that matter, a fifth. After all, McBurney himself starred in the most recent instalment of but no, hes already beaten me to the punch. I know, I did Mission: Impossible, he says, turning away from me. I dont know whether to say Shame on me or not. The fact is I have a family, and every now and then I go, Well, Id better pay for some trousers now.

His own brushes with Hollywood have been few and far between but he did briefly approach Coppolas orbit in the early 1990s, when he was flown out to audition to play Renfield in the directors adaptation of Dracula. I spent two weeks in Los Angeles drifting in and out of castings and meetings. Coppola at that point was very heavily protected by his own coterie of people at Zoetrope and reportedly never got to see my tape but, hey, I lost out to Tom Waits.

Robert Evans with his former wife Ali MacGraw. Photograph: Allstar/USA films

His experience of LA and the film industry is largely typical. I stayed in the house of a producer friend who then gave me keys to someone elses house where the Beatles had stayed. All very bizarre. We were let in, no one was there. My girlfriend and I swam up and down in the swimming pool, wandered around stark naked, drove up to Big Sur. It was kind of crazy. The sense of impermanence, the lack of specificity can, if you are in the least bit sensitive or emotionally unstable, be disturbing. Ive been incredibly lonely there. Its so nebulous and yet its easy, in spite of its vastness, to feel closed-in.

McBurney has often said he makes things so that he can understand them, and The Kid Stays in the Picture is no exception. I dont know about Hollywood and this world and I find a lot of it distasteful. And yet meeting Robert and reading the book there is something fascinating and human about this story of a man who goes right to the top, which in that profession means right to the top of America.

McBurney and Evans seem like unlikely bedfellows but both men emphasise their points of overlap. When no one could fathom Robert Townes Chinatown screenplay, McBurney points out, Evans made it, in a sense, in order to understand it. The producer chuckles at the memory: Everyone thought it was written in Chinese! Though he has met McBurney only once, he thinks they might be kindred spirits. His reputation precedes him, he says admiringly. Ive been told by many people hes a genius. He is an actor and a writer and hes been around a long time. Hes his own man. Sounds familiar, I say. He lets out a laugh like a bowling ball rolling down an alley. Thats my type o guy.

The Kid Stays in the Picture is at the Royal Court, London SW1, from 7 March to 8 April.

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Inside Trump Tower, where the transition plays out in plain sight

The president-elects namesake tower on Fifth Avenue in New York looks like a no-go zone but as hundreds of tourists discover every day, its no fort even now

Anyone can walk right into Trump Tower.

In the month since Donald Trump was elected president, his namesake tower on Fifth Avenue has been fortified. Planes have been diverted from flying overhead. Dull-eyed dogs sniff the pavement out front, where large men in black helmets stand holding long guns. It looks like a no-go zone, which makes sense, because its almost the presidents house.

But as hundreds of tourists and other curiosity-seekers discover every day, Trump Tower is no fort, even now. No serious airport in the country is as easy to enter. Theres a bag scanner, but no visible metal detector for visitors to walk through.

Inside the airy public atrium, its the same shopping mall and food court that Trump conceded to the people of New York City in 1983, the year the tower was finished. With the same stinky public bathroom in the basement and the same concrete-tile patio on floor five, the same brass vitrines at street level, and the same waterfall weeping down five stories of orange Breccia pernice marble on the atriums east wall.

The difference now is, the next president of the United States who is running his presidential transition out of his apartment high above might suddenly pop out of the elevators, like he did on Tuesday morning, to accuse the countrys largest aerospace and defense contractor of doing a little bit of a number on the country. The governor of Iowa might wander by. A billionaire tech executive, or the second-richest man in Japan. Laura Ingraham, looking just like she does on TV.

The buzz lured Kyra Niklewicz and her husband, Dave, to make a detour to the tower on Tuesday before catching the Rockettes on a trip to the city from their home in Rochester, New York. Kyra, a medical technologist who works in a hospital, said the couple was pleasantly surprised at how accessible the tower was.

Were excited about Donald Trump, she said. I think he offers definitely a different perspective. Hes pro-life thats very important to us. And I think we need to give him a chance.

The Niklewiczes were enjoying the scene from two of the best seats in the house, in the lobbys floating Starbucks, which is planted on a catwalk that boasts views of the Fifth Avenue entrance one way, the waterfall the other way, and best of all for people-watching the elevators directly below. The area is banned to TV cameras, but the angles are sufficiently irresistible that cameramen keep appearing there, only to be kicked back downstairs by security guards.

The media is technically restricted to a semicircular pen facing the elevators, set off by red velour ropes on brass stanchions, which were definitely not purchased with this in mind. But reporters without large cameras, like anyone else on the scene, are free to wander about, for example to the downstairs food court, where Trumps communications director, Jason Miller, spent about half an hour eating a buffet lunch.

Were conducting this process daily, said Miller, ambushed as he finished his soda, of the selection of Trumps cabinet. The president-elect is talking to a lot of qualified people every day. Then he smiled, said thanks and jumped in an elevator.

Eric Trump, the president-elects second son, was flushed unexpectedly at midday from the Trump Grill, on which the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences has conferred its Star Diamond award, according to multiple plaques. At the grill, a bloody mary called the Youre Fired costs $15 about right for a tourist destination in midtown Manhattan. Flanked by quick-striding men in suits, the scion escaped through a quiet elevator bank one storey below the main one, which explained how he had snuck in there unseen.

Now, about those prices. Trump is a luxury brand, but the atrium of his tower is an oasis of relative affordability in the middle of one of the most obscenely opulent consumer districts on earth. Prada is across the street, Bergdorf and Van Cleef are kitty-corner, and Gucci occupies commercial space elsewhere in the building.

Tiffany & Co, directly next door to the tower, complained last week that holiday sales were down because of the bothersome security cordons. The jeweler has created an entry corridor, defiantly draped in powder blue, to its front door from a security checkpoint at the end of the block.

Tiffany, at its least expensive, sells glass bowls for a couple hundred dollars. Inside Trump Tower, Trump-branded glassware starts at $3.50. Golf accessories, books and apparel can all be purchased at prices youd find in a campus bookstore. Theres a perfume for less than $20.

Slightly pricier are the items on offer at the basement booth operated by Donald J Trump for President, Inc. Here is the official campaign swag familiar from the rallies: T-shirts $25, hats $30, sweatshirts $50. But dont try buying this gear if youre not an American: proceeds count as campaign donations, which are not legal for non-citizens to make.

Sales at the Trump swag stand were not brisk. No one inside the tower on Tuesday, in fact, was sighted wearing Trump gear. People wore green sweatshirts that said North Dakota, and sports team hats and puffy coats. Maybe they had Trump T-shirts on underneath.

As of 12.47pm on Tuesday, the Trump swag booth had recorded one solitary sale, according to an inventory sheet left carelessly on display. It was a hat.

By far, the best commercial opportunities on the premises are to be found in a souvenir shop in the basements deepest recess, not counting the bathroom. Its where locals go to buy lottery tickets and cigarettes, and where the visitor might pick up a generic Statue of Liberty magnet or an NYPD sweatshirt.

The shops proprietor, who did not want to give his name because his office sits under 63 stories of pure Trump weight, said that while he would love to, he was not allowed to sell Trump-branded gear, because Trump was selling those products himself.

Hes a businessman, man, said the man. Hes a very smart guy. And hes going to make money.

Rising back out of the basement to street level, lifted by an escalator past tourists filming their descents on their phones, one has a prime view of a 40ft tree installed at the base of the waterfall for the holiday season no competition for Rockefeller center, but not bad.

The tree is the centerpiece of the towers Christmas dcor that includes wreaths, prop golden gift boxes with red bows and Nutcracker soldiers standing sentinel on the escalator landings. The background music is Barry Manilow and Bing Crosby Silent Night, White Christmas, Rudolph and the rest.

Its as pleasant as any mall or airport around Christmastime, but with an added air of expectancy. In 44 days, Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States.

Meanwhile, at the foot of his tower, anyone can walk right in. And make a purchase.

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Not Every Hobby Has to Become a 'Hustle' – Lifehacker


Not Every Hobby Has to Become a 'Hustle'
And maybe you will, and maybe you'll enjoy it, and maybe you'll make a living doing what you love. But if you do, you absolutely will learn that the real work of your career is not the fun bit. Otherwise every good cook would own a restaurant, and

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Grading the Cowboys season-ending 6-0 victory over the Eagles – Blogging The Boys (blog)

Blogging The Boys (blog)

Grading the Cowboys season-ending 6-0 victory over the Eagles
Blogging The Boys (blog)
Yawwwwwwnnn. Well, the 2017 Dallas Cowboys ended the season in a complete snoozefest. Dallas managed a 6-0 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in the second lowest-scoring game in franchise history (the team's 5-0 division round playoff victory over

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‘This is warfare on our doorstep’: what life is really like inside a London gang

Film-maker Paul Blake gave cameras to gang members and let them record themselves. What they shot was more shocking, and personal, than he expected

A new documentary will offer uncompromising access into the workings of some of Londons most brutal and notorious street gangs, using footage shot by the young people who operate within this world.

Film-maker Paul Blake managed to get a rare insight into some of the 225 gangs that operate in Britains capital, including shots of large weapons caches boasting dozens of guns and knives, and the packaging and selling of class-A drugs.

Gangland, which is split between two episodes, gained unique access by giving the cameras to the gang members themselves and leaving it up to them to film what they wanted. Blake did not even make contact with the figures, but instead would leave the cameras at pre-arranged dead drops in central London and in parks places without CCTV and where no one could be seen coming and going.

He would then pick up the cameras later, without any knowledge of what footage they would contain.

I didnt know the gang members who filmed, they didnt want me to meet them, said Blake. This was about the control and the distance, and I was happy for that distance frankly because what came back was shocking.

Commissioners told me it was an insignificant story, its not relevant to the nation. I was rebuffed at every attempt. Photograph: Maroon productions

Blake spent over a decade trying to get a documentary made which would give voice to the thoughts and motivations of gang members and help understand how boys as young as 12 were dying from gang violence, stabbings and shootings.

It was not an easy sell to commissioners he said, who continually told him that it wouldnt rate, it was an insignificant story, its not relevant to the nation. I was rebuffed at every attempt.

He added: This documentary was born from the fact that I am a black man, born in this country, and I was just pissed off that no one cared about these young black kids who are dying, they didnt care about the loss experienced by their families. Yet it could happen to me, it could happen to one of my friends kids. It deeply upset me that this was going on for years but these kids just became faceless, just another nib in the Evening Standard.

It was only in 2015 that Channel 5 commissioned the documentary. Blake, after years of building relationships within the world of street gangs, was able to find a group willing to speak to the camera and tell their stories. Yet in the midst of filming, it all went wrong. Two young gang members were sent to jail in the same week, and a week later another was shot. He survived but was taken in protective custody so filming became impossible and Blake was forced to start from scratch.

It was then he landed on the idea of getting the gang members to film themselves, to overcome the obstacle that speaking to a journalist was perceived as snitching. It proved to be a fruitful but haunting process.

A gang showing us not just what they do but why they do it is more shocking than people waving firearms around. Photograph: Maroon productions

Blake said: The first footage that came back was of the revolvers with the copious amounts of drugs. It was an entry into a world that I dont belong in, and having that distance was a reminder that my job was to help tell their story.

The young mens willingness to speak to camera (with their faces hidden behind balaclavas) and talk not just about drugs and weapons but their own motivations and aspirations came with time, and Blake considers that some of the most revealing footage he received.

I saw that they were not only showing us what they do, but also what they thought and why they do it, he said. Thats probably more shocking than people waving firearms around. Them talking about how they really wanted to make money but also put back into their community, how they just wanted to get on but if that meant taking from the next man, they would. And that wasnt a journalist or filmmaker saying that, its them saying it.

As well as offering raw and uncensored footage of moments such as drug dealers stuffing bag of drugs up their own orifices to hide them from police, the film also focuses on those individuals who are not in gangs but live surrounded by the culture and are often the ones who end up dead.

Blake found himself confronted with the awful reality of this when two young boys, neither of whom were in gangs but whom he had filmed for the second part of the documentary, both ended up dead after he finished shooting the documentary. Sixteen-year-old rappers Showkey and Myron Yarde were killed in separate stabbings. Blake said he had been completely devastated by the news.

We are telling this story so these kids are not faceless. Photograph: Maroon productions

I knew that someone was going to die just because of the way it is in that world. So it wasnt a surprise, really, but it was just incredibly sad and very hard to deal with on a personal level.

As part of his filming, Blake recorded Yarde filming a music video and recalls how excited the 16-year-old had been about making music and was waiting on his GCSE results.

The figures show that the problem of gang violence in London is on the rise again, with gang-related crime up 23% last year and over 6,000 incidents of serious youth violence this year. Blake said until people stopped dismissing it as a black problem or an issue totally separate from their own lives, the death toll would continue to spiral.

We are telling this story because it means they are not faceless, theyre not just some line in the newspaper that we all move on from instantly or dont even bother to read about in the first place, he said. This is warfare on our own doorstep and young kids are dying.

Gangland: Turf Wars is on Channel 5 at 10pm on 1 and 8 September.

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