Bob Dylan Rocks Out At The Beacon: But An Odd Concert!

Bob Dylan Rocks Out At The Beacon: But An Odd Concert!

What can I say? Worth seeing if he was a seminal music figure in your life. And at 78, your chances of seeing this icon perform too many more times are slim.

I had never seen him before so it was a big thrill to see him on the stage at the Beacon.

That said it’s one of the weirdest concerts I’ve ever attended. I didn’t understand a single word he sang or sadly, recognize too many songs. It was a very rock kind of night whereas in my mind, he’s an amazing folksinger but he wasn’t into doing any of his early folk or protest anthems.

Also, I can’t recall ever being at a concert where the performer did not utter a single word to the audience – not that we could have understood him if he had tried to communicate with us. The only time he spoke was to introduce the band and I couldn’t make out a single name then either.

Based on conversations with die-hard fans afterward, they were disappointed. They said they had seen him perform many times and he’s never before been this inaudible. “Where’s his voice?” one of them asked.

Bottom Line.

Three more nights to see Dylan in NYC before the tour moves to Washington DC for one night. Then a long hiatus until April when they pick up again in Japan.

While I was thrilled to have finally seen Dylan live in concert, I kept thinking how cool it would have been to have someone like Patti Smith up there on the stage with him. And for me, good banter makes the whole experience even better – so I missed that with him because I’m sure he could tell some amazing stories.

Also, no photos allowed but I snuck a few in during the encore! You’re welcome!

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Macy’s Balloon Inflation 2019 – Always The Best Time.

Macy’s Balloon Inflation 2019 – Always The Best Time.

This year’s Balloon Inflation for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was so NICE. I don’t recall the last time it was this warm (mid-50’s) with NO rain or snow. And once again, super organized. Hard to believe they may not fly today because of wind.

What is not so nice about Balloon Inflation is how popular it’s become

First, the crowds are getting bigger and people are getting there earlier. I arrived at 3:30 pm and it was wall-to-wall. And way more press this year than I’ve seen previously. Security is also tight so be prepared for it to take 30 minutes to get from the entry point to the balloon inflation area.

Second, there seem to be fewer giant balloons in the parade. We’re also seeing more entertainment and cartoon characters and fewer corporate brands, e.g., Ronald McDonald, Pillsbury Doughboy, Aflac Duck.

Here are this year’s “first flight” balloons:
  • Astronaut Snoopy (done in partnership with NASA)
  • Green Eggs and Ham
  • Smokey Bear
  • Yayoi Kusama
Scroll down and join me for a stroll along the 2019 Balloon Inflation route
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3 Massive Lantern Festivals In NYC. Are We Excited?

3 Massive Lantern Festivals In NYC. Are We Excited?

We got a taste of this spectacle last year with the arrival of the Winter Lantern Festival at Snug Harbor on Staten Island. This year, two additional festivals have been created, one on Randall’s Island, the other at CitiField. All three are running through January!

What is going on?

It’s a newish trend in NYC but also happening in other parts of the country, especially California.

But why?

One, all things Asian are trending. Whether it’s Asian food or culture or entertainment it’s all becoming more popular and cool.

Second, Lantern Festivals are next level when it comes to pop-up instagrammable experiences. Forget about the Color Factory or the Ice Cream Museum. Now we’re creating 16-acre outdoorsy theme parks geared to the ‘Gram.

And while I have ranted many times about how bored I am with made-for-Instagram experiences, I have to confess that the minute I saw an Instagram ad for LuminoCity, I was intrigued.

Sadly, LuminoCity has gotten some of the most horrendous reviews I’ve ever seen, e.g., for the opening weekend, there was no lighting, people were being forced to wander around in pitch darkness with only their cellphones to guide them, people were tripping and falling on uneven and slippery walkways, food was hard to come by. Shuttle buses were not running as scheduled. Everything that could go wrong apparently did. Based on LuminoCity’s website, they have no experience in events or festivals so I’m not surprised. Nor am I optimistic they will work out the kinks anytime soon.

The Hello Panda Festival at CitiField, on the other hand, is a much surer bet. The organizers have it way more together (they’ve previously done events at Lincoln Center). Also, the location seems to be more manageable since it is accessible by subway.

The NYC Winter Lantern Festival on Staten Island at the Botanical Garden is in its second year and seems well-organized.

Getting to Staten Island, however, requires a subway, a ferry and a bus. Not going to make it!

I’m leaning to the Hello Panda Festival unless I hear some amazing “recovery” stories indicating LuminoCity has gotten their act together!

But this is not just happening in NYC.

Cities all around the country are getting their first taste of Lantern awesomeness, e.g., Luminosa Chinese Lantern Festival will be brought to Miami for the first time. Other cities with seemingly amazing festivals include Nashville, New Orleans, Phoenix and, of course, California!

Scroll down for more.
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Sumo+Sushi: So Wanted To Love This. Sadly, A Ripoff!

Sumo+Sushi: So Wanted To Love This. Sadly, A Ripoff!

I don’t know why I had such high hopes for this event. I imagined it would be the real deal OR totally zany and over the top like WWE. It was neither. Instead, imagine this. You think you’ve bought tickets for the NBA Finals only to find your tickets are for the Retirees League of the Harlem Globetrotters. Total letdown.

Here’s how Sumo insiders describe it

Musashikuni has now resurfaced in America, taking part in the curious “Sumo & Sushi” tour, which will be hosted by the legendary former Ozeki and popular cultural tarento, musician and plate lunch grillmaster Konishiki.

Tachiai.Org (Sumo Fan Blog)
Not exactly a ringing endorsement but there are a few positives. Namely….
1. The emcee, Hawaiian-born Konishiki, is terrific.

He is the all-time heaviest wrestler to have ever competed in Sumo at 633 lbs. He’s also the first non-Japanese-born wrestler to reach ozeki, the second-highest rank in Sumo. He’s been retired for 21 years but has an active career in Sumo-related entertainment from exhibition events like Sumo+Sushi as well as TV shows and movies. He’s also a rapper, plays the ukelele and has some kind of Hawaiian BBQ business.

What made him such a great emcee, besides being incredibly personable, is his firsthand knowledge of Sumo and his ability to keep the crowd in control (more or less). See below for evidence of his emceeing skills.

2. Very Cool T-shirts

I bought one and wore it proudly to the gym yesterday.

3. Great content for social media

Even with all its shortcomings, it’s a highly visual event. Check out videos below.

Scroll down for the not so positives.
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CAVEAT NYC: If Smart Humor Is Your Thing, Check This Out.

CAVEAT NYC: If Smart Humor Is Your Thing, Check This Out.

I discovered Caveat last year. Everything I’ve seen there has been fantastic. But Tuesday night’s event, “An Inconvenient Talk Show” takes the cake. One of the smartest, most hilarious shows I’ve ever seen. Can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard. And each performer was funnier than the next.

“Caveat is a bar-cum-edutainment space that caters to the discerning nerd. What takes place nightly is an enticement of the intellect, e.g., a “Pregame Your Brain” happy hour to learn about famous female scientists or an “improvised ‘hip-hopera’ in the style of “Hamilton,” to “quench people’s thirst for historical raps.”

The New Yorker
More on Caveat and their programming

I was told they host An Inconvenient Talk Show monthly but have not found it on their schedule for December so who knows.

I am, however, absolutely confident in recommending any and all of their shows. I’ve been to half a dozen and they’ve all been outstanding (even open mic Saturday afternoons are fun). Tickets for most events are $10 – $15 making it the best inexpensive evening in NYC.

Here’s a sampling of upcoming events:

  • Literati with Colin and Michael: comedians in character performing hilarious readings from the greatest American novels never written.
  • The Nerds & The Bees: Comedy and Data. What’s really happening in modern dating.
  • VERSUS Bones Vs. No Bones: WrestleMania meets Debate Club
  • Political Circus: Do Protests Work – Comedy, lecture, and circus on the eternal political question: when do protests make a difference?
  • Masters of Social Gastronomy: Thanksgiving PIES!! Each month, Masters of Social Gastronomy takes on a curious food topic and breaks down the history and science behind it
Scroll down for photos and video from Tuesday night’s Show
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Look For Kusama’s Balloon Masterpiece In The Thanksgiving Day Parade

Look For Kusama’s Balloon Masterpiece In The Thanksgiving Day Parade

Who’s joining me this year at the Balloon Inflation event on Manhattan’s UWS on Wednesday, November 27th from 4-7pm?

As many of you know this is one of my favorite “insidery” things to do in NYC. I’m there every year, rain or shine.

and This year will be major!

Yayoi Kusama, one of my favorite artists, has created a special balloon for the 2019 Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Other artists who have participated over the years include Jeff Koons with Rabbit in 2007, Takashi Murakami with KaiKai and KiKi in 2010, and KAWS with Companion in 2012.

I saw the KAWS art balloon in 2012 but had not been aware it was part of the Macy’s Blue Sky Gallery Series (founded in 2005 to highlight contemporary artists). The Kusama balloon will be the eighth in the series and the first by a female artist.

Kusama’s participation in this year’s Thanksgiving Day Parade kicks off a massive year for the 90-year-old artist.

She has a show of new work opening at David Zwirner Gallery in Chelsea on November 9. Expect lines around the block to see the debut of her new Infinity Mirrored Room. They’re anticipating over 100,000 people will be standing in line at some point to see it. Instagram will be blowing up. The show at Zwirner will be followed by a major installation at the Bronx Botanical Garden called Cosmic Nature. It is scheduled to run from May 9 – Nov 1, 2020. Pretty sure it will be breaking all attendance records for the Botanical Garden.

Scroll down for highlights from Balloon Inflation over the last several years.
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The American Dream Mall Is Shaping Up To Be A Disaster!

The American Dream Mall Is Shaping Up To Be A Disaster!

Full disclosure: I haven’t actually made it out to NJ to check out the parts of the mall that are currently open. First, because I don’t like theme park rides (and that’s the only thing that’s open) and second, I haven’t figured out the bus, ferry and train routes to get there. From what I’ve read, it could take hours to get there so EVERYTHING had better be up and running for me to make the trek.

So why does this mall strike me as such a disaster?
  1. Everything screams money pit. Given the complexity of the attractions, it will be challenging to maintain them in good working order. Here’s a small sampling of what’s being built: Massive year-round indoor ski slope✅ Skating rink ✅ Water Park ✅ Theme Park Rides ✅ Aquarium ✅ And we all know that if any of these attractions go down for any period of time, or if they attempt to cut corners to save money, the word of mouth will be disastrous and people will stop coming – especially when they have paid $25 to park, plus $40-$50 per person for entry just to the Nickelodeon Universe. If you hit up multiple attractions, that’s a bigger hit to the wallet. And just this morning it was announced that as of November 15, the Nickelodeon pass will go up to $79.99 per person. By comparison, a season’s pass to Six Flags is $72 and that includes parking!
  2. Only one of the 450 planned stores will be open for this holiday season and that’s a fancy, 3-story candy store called IT’SUGAR. What are the odds of it still being up and running by the time the other stores begin to open? Slim to none. One lone store in this size mall cannot possibly stay in business for any period of time. The mall is supposedly 87% leased but as it turns out, several of the stores that have taken out leases have already gone bankrupt, e.g., Barney’s, Forever 21, Toys R Us (although the latter will be resuscitated for American Dream).
  3. Little consumer enthusiasm. On opening day (Friday, October 25), most of the buses headed to the mall were empty. That is not a good sign.

An employee was overheard saying there were three people and five buses as of 10 a.m.

Larry Higgs,
Scroll down for more photos from the opening weekend and you decide.
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#Robs10KFriends: Here Are 10 Things I Learned About Rob Lawless!

#Robs10KFriends: Here Are 10 Things I Learned About Rob Lawless!

I had lunch with Rob Lawless, creator of #Robs10KFriends this week. Everything about his project intrigues me – both on a personal level as well as from a business perspective. I predict he’ll have his pick of sponsors within 6 months.

I wrote about him a few weeks ago after I had seen a segment on him on the CBS news. Thanks to Jenny Rickard who happens to be a mutual friend, I got to meet Rob and became friend #2951.

He’s been working on this project since 2015 but the pace has picked up recently. Getting NY press coverage has boosted awareness and now everyone wants to be one of Rob’s friends – even reporters and investment bankers!

Scroll down for 10 things I learned about Rob over lunch.
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