Tinatin’s theatrical show W-E, a collaboration with acclaimed Broadway veteran Timothy Graphenreed, debuted before a live audience Monday at New York’s Triad Theater. The room was packed for the premiere, as I gently wept over and over… What a wonder my girl is. *
On Monday, I spent two hours at the Baryshnikov Arts Center (BAC), way west on Manhattan’s 37th Street, to watch a rehearsal with Tinatin and collaborator Timothy Graphenheed, for their full-length theatrical musical W-E (West Meets East). This coming Monday, July 2, they’ll showcase their first full reading of the two-person production, which tells the story of a young girl’s dream and accompanying journey from the Soviet Union to America… based, obviously, on Tina’s own story, with music written primarily by the pair.
The musical parallels the book project that she and I have been working on for two-plus years… Four drafts later, we have a digital publishing deal… that is, following one more substantive edit. Looking forward to seeing that finish line, as Tinatin groups the book, the play, a soundtrack and a concert with her hero & muse in the Soviet nation of Georgia this September.
Thursday eve I joined Tinatin and her partner, acclaimed Broadway veteran Timothy Graphenreed, for a voiceover to be used in their upcoming stage musical W-E. I’m damn sure my three lines are going to propel it into a gargantuan stage hit. An intimate first reading takes place this weekend—while I’m covering the New Music Seminar in NYC—followed by a public showcase July 2. Come on out and see us! *
Among the book projects I’ve been working on for the past few(!) years is a collaboration with longtime pal and talented singer/songwriter Tinatin, whose accomplishments are well documented here on The Smoking Nun.
On Monday, we got a smidgeon of ink in the Village Voice (below) regarding Tina’s upcoming theatrical show that she composed with renowned producer Timothy Graphenreed (whose Broadway credits include The Wiz, Leader of the Pack, The Moony Shapiro Songbook, Comin’ Uptown), which will launch in early 2013.
It’s all part of a package that will comprise the book (for which we secured a digital publishing contract earlier this year), the stage show W-E (West Meets East), an accompanying soundtrack album and—get this—a performance featuring a full orchestra with Tinatin’s hero and mentor Dave Grusin—the 12-time Grammy-winning, Oscar-winning jazz musician—which will take place at the largest public coliseum in T’s hometown of Tbilisi in the Republic of Georgia. That event will be hosted this September, which I am damned determined to attend.
Tinatin’s first public showcase for W-E is Monday, July 2, 2012, at the Triad Theatre on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Why, yes, of course you’re welcome to attend. See you there, yes? Click on the pic above to the right for more info. *
And now I speak Ruski! Tinatin filmed a six-minute feature story Thursday and Friday for the Georgian TV news, including a quick interview with meese about our upcoming book project Behind The Iron Curtain. The best part: I’ll be translated into Georgian—that is, the Soviet Union nation of Georgian, not Southern English Georgian, you know. It airs Monday, February 20 and will stream online. *
Heaven… I’m in heaven… After my pal Tinatin and I had another interview session for the upcoming book we’re working on together, we joined songwriter & producer Chris Neil on the Upper East Side for a nice leisurely sit-down over drinks.
Chris, of course, is the auspicious talent behind launching Sheena Easton’s career as the producer of “Morning Train,” “Modern Girl” and “For Your Eyes Only”; as well as producing Celine Dion’s first English-language hit “Where Does My Heart Beat Now” and her European breakthrough “Think Twice.” I’m absolutely giddy… *
With my new Nikon D5000 by my side throughout 2011, I was not only able to capture cityscapes and all other images with a new eye on creativity, but the addition of digital editing (and the temptation of extreme HDR) gave me an entirely new purview of glorious New York, its people and the places I visited throughout the year.
Before we wrap the year gone by, I’ll share three volumes of my fave photos from 2011, with the top 10 ranked in Volume 3. Why, I can practically see you trembling with anticipation…Lynchburg, Va., this fall, as I snooped down a private driveway by the railroad tracks that line the James River. The layers of foliage and trees, almost like individual lines, with the barren tree in front, bring focus to a classic tire swing, as innocent and sweet as childhood.
I was actually taking pictures of New York’s Flatiron Building, but this vista enchanted me, because it could have been taken in 2011 or 1911.
Washington, D.C.’s Samuel Francis Dupont Circle fountain, with a close-up image of one of the three classical nudes. The marble statue was installed in 1921. I enhanced the lines to show its gentle aging.
So Brooklyn… This meat shop in Cobble Hill has been around for more than 80 years—and everything about it conjures vintage, including the passerby with the hat. I gave it the full overdramatized HDR treatment for added drama.
Dear friend Tinatin during the video shoot for her song “Wild” at Lower East Side bar Niagara. The larger image was taken as she was preparing to lip sync the track, and I love its timeless beauty, with her red lips contrasting the blacks and browns that dominate the shot. The inner photo was my take of a posed shot for the album cover… which I believe turned out better than the pro photog’s image. So there.
My parents’ Christmas tree, which they decorated while I was in Virginia over Thanksgiving. It could be anybody’s tree and thus is universal, but because I know these ornaments, this image holds a special place for me.
A rainy night in New York City. The sheen of the sidewalks equalized the lighting in the photo, taken without a flash, while I loved the fluorescent tube lighting in the building, which looks like darts aligned in a pattern. Below, the same block, with a cartoon-like effect via HDR editing.
Dusk looking at the woods in front of my brother’s house in Lynchburg, Va. I did next to nothing to this pic, aside from lowering the contrast to intensify the outline of the trees. So simple and lovely.
When Leo and I took a day trip to Nyack and Cold Spring, N.Y., in June, we gamboled through dozens of thrift and antique shops, which were filled with potential fun images. This is my fave among all.
9/11/2011… Ten years later with the annual lights of the Twin Towers, oddly placed nowhere near the actual site, but dramatic nonetheless. The one thing that I don’t care for is how the lights enter the clouds and spread as if they’re combusting… but when I tried to crop it below, it loses so much of the impact. So it is what it is… Hopefully, by September 2012, we’ll have an actual tower on the horizon and can finally retire the endless tributes.
The cemetery at Trinity Church on New York’s Wall Street. A beautiful summer day. I attempted to make this as spooky as possible with intensified glow and colorizing.
Fulton Street Mall in Brooklyn… The birds, the birds! As a flurry of pigeons took flight amid the rumble of a bus that had just passed, I snapped away. The resulting picture offered nothing particularly memorable—until I turned it into what resembles a washed-out painting.
There’s no one that has walked across the Brooklyn Bridge that doesn’t have this very image, where all of the wires line in perfect symmetry with the center column. And there’s a reason why that remains such a quintessential and iconic image.Taken during Hurricane Irene,when the Brooklyn Heights Promenade was oddly deserted, except for one lone person. I altered this image to stark black and white, with the exception of the woman looking toward the Manhattan skyline, in red.
And another view during Hurricane Irene… The BQE highway, on the left, is typically packed day and night, as seen in this spring photo… as opposed to a single vehicle—an ambulance—during the drama of the storm.
A Smoking Nun reader alerted me that a teen Celine recorded a French adaptation of Sheena’s 1981 U.K.-only B-side “Please Don’t Sympathise,” called “Ne me plaignez pas,” the second single from her 1984 album Les chemins de ma maison, with a new lyric from the famed Eddy Marnay. That was news to me. The $2.50 music video, which aired on the Sur les chemins de ma maison TV special, can be viewed here.
Of course, as any Sheena aficionado knows, Sheena’s “The Last To Know,” which appeared on her unreleased 1987 LP No Sound But A Heart, was also recorded by Celine on her first English-language disc Unison in 1990… and I must admit, the tepid production from Nick Martinelli on Easton’s version was trumped by Dion’s power ballad, produced by Christopher Neil… Add to that the irony that Chris produced the majority of Sheena’s earliest hits—and with David Foster, he produced Unison.
Ah, and that reminds me of a story, cool cats. My singer/songwriter pal Tinatin has collaborated with Chris for nearly a decade and arranged for the three of us to have dinner in New York a few years back. I announced to Chris as we began, “Okay, I have a lot of questions for you and I suspect I’m going to frighten you with some of the freaky details… So if you’ll indulge me for just a little while, I promise I’ll then become perfectly normal.”
The dinner was an amazing flood of anecdotes about both Sheena and Celine. For example, he explained that when Sheena was recording “For Your Eyes Only,” James Bond producer Albert Broccoli brought by a gaggle of comrades during the session. Young Sheena was apparently so terrified that she simply couldn’t sing in his presence and Neil found himself in the position of telling the powerful producer to get lost: a nervy stance, indeed.
I also asked Chris—and he pretty much stared at me in disbelief over the minutia of this—about a lyric in Sheena’s song “Voice on the Radio” from her debut album. There’s a spoken part from a DJ with a voiceover that I could never understand: “What’s that line about ‘and of course don’t forget to kick the dog,'” I questioned.
It turns out that not only is it Chris filling the DJ role, but the line was a joke about a friend’s dog—which was named Kick… Thus the line, “…With love from hubby Charles and all the children and of course, don’t forget Kick the dog.”And there you have it.
After a rousing catch-up with pal Tinatin—who has just returned from a songwriting sojourn in Russia, London, Montreal and Las Vegas(!)—Leo and I headed to age-old queer tavern Townhouse on Manhattan’s East Side. Along with the vintage queens, we met a sweet young man visiting from Denver. I have decided to adopt Jacob, since he’s probably half my damn age. He’ll make a fine trophy for the mantle. Isn’t he adorable? And yes, these photos above were a total set-up.Leonard’s buddies Scott and Peter (I have no idea what their names are, so awarded them generic gay monikers).Just thought this dude cast a handsome profile, yes?