David Byrne teamed up with Choir! Choir! Choir! to cover Bowie's 'Heroes'

At the Under the Radar Festival in New York City earlier this month, a crowd of soon-to-be singers rehearsed "back ups" for David Bowie's "Heroes." After an hour, they were performing the song with David Byrne as a Choir! Choir! Choir! tribute to Bowie.

According to Consequence of Sound, Byrne gave his thoughts on working with the choir group, in a press release:

"There is a transcendent feeling in being subsumed and surrendering to a group. This applies to sports, military drills, dancing… and group singing. One becomes a part of something larger than oneself, and something in our makeup rewards us when that happens. We cling to our individuality, but we experience true ecstasy when we give it up. So, the reward experience is part of the show.”

Byrne is beginning an ambitious tour in March for his new album, American Utopia. The album is his first solo LP in 14 years. Read the rest

NYC (and beyond) Peeps: The No Pants Subway Ride is happening again

Hosted by the New York City comedy collective Improv Everywhere, the No Pants Subway Ride is an annual New York City tradition where folks go pantless --together-- on the subway. Now in its 17th year, the group has just announced that the 2018 event will happen on Sunday, January 7th. If you're interested in joining in on the fun, be sure to sign up for their mailing list. They'll be sharing more information there closer to the event's date.

The event happens outside of New York City too, but Improv Everywhere doesn't specifically run it. People like you do. They write:

Once again we are encouraging folks in other cities around the world to stage their own No Pants Subway Rides on the same day. Regional organizers must fill out this registration form to have their event included (that form is for organizers only.) The week before the event we will publish a list of all participating cities along with links to Facebook events. Groups have staged the event on trolleys, light rails, and buses in the past, so don’t let a lack of subway system stop you! 60 cities participated last year. Check the list on this page to see if one happened in your city last year as preference will go to the prior year’s organizers...

Here's a look at last year's event: Full details can be found on Improv Everywhere's site.

(If you go, I want to see pix!)

photo by Katie Sokoler, via Improv Everywhere Read the rest

New York's rat population has genetically diverged into "uptown" and "downtown" subpopulation

Matthew Combs, a Fordham University Louis Calder Center Biological Field Station grad student worked with colleagues from Fordham and the Providence College Department of Biology to sequence the genomes of brown rats in Manhattan, and made a surprising discovery: the geography of rats has a genetic correlation, so a geneticist can tell where a rat was born and raised by analyzing its DNA. Read the rest

Improv Everywhere 'lights up' random New Yorker's sentimental holiday messages on a 30-foot screen

"Light Up Someone's Holiday" is Improv Everywhere's latest mission and it's a heartwarming one.
...We created a custom-built set that allowed random New Yorkers to instantly deliver a card and light up someone’s holiday. Participants were surprised as Christmas lights lit up the plaza and their message was displayed on a 30-foot wide screen above.

This project is a collaboration with Hallmark, who provided us with an assortment of Hallmark Signature Cards for the project.

See how they pulled off this stunt on their blog. Read the rest

NYC yellow cab drivers pose for pin-up charity calendar

You have many choices when it comes to purchasing a calendar for the new year. Now there's another contender: the 2018 New York City Taxi Drivers Calendar.

Described as a "comedic take on the traditional pin-up," the calendar features the Big Apple's "most scintillating and good-humored" yellow cab drivers and a portion of its proceeds goes to charity.

A portion of each calendar sale will go to University Settlement, America’s oldest settlement house (1886), based in New York City and serving over 30,000 immigrant and working individuals and families every year with basic services like quality education, housing, recreation and wellness opportunities, and literacy programs.

The calendar is available online for $14.99. (Dangerous Minds) Previously: Bearded men don mermen tails for charity calendar Read the rest

A Louis Vuitton casket was spotted in NYC

This red-and-white designer casket spotted by several people in New York City is real, but is it authentic? There is a Louis Vuitton X Supreme line after all.

That hearse and casket should be driven right into this totally legit carport.

Thanks, Greg! (The loop) Read the rest

NYC civic hackers invite frustrated Silicon Valleyites to do good in New York

We Want You in NYC is a group of civic hackers who believe in using technology to improve people's lives; they've launched a provocative campaign aimed at disillusioned Silicon Valley techies who are tired of working on products that are "designed to kidnap our--and our kids’--attention, only to maximize profits" and want to help "large segments of society to participate in the economic benefits of technology innovation." Read the rest

NYPD has no backup for its seized property database, recording millions in annual seizures

The Property and Evidence Tracking System (PETS) is the NYPD's huge database where it stores ownership information on the millions in New Yorkers' property it takes charge of every year (including about $68m in cash and counting), through evidence collection and asset forfeiture. Read the rest

Beloved local restauranteur can't sell coffee or tea because Starbucks strongarmed the landlord

The Arepa Lady started as a food-cart in Jackson Heights, Queens, owned by Maria Cano, whose son and daughter-in-law have continued the family business, moving into permanent digs, with seating for 30. Read the rest

Exhibit of the futuristic New York City that never was

Buckminster Fuller created this striking 1960 overlay photograph "Dome Over Manhattan" in 1960. It's one of many prints, drawings, models, and artworks in the "Never Built New York" exhibition now on view at the Queens Museum. Co-curated by Sam Lubell and Greg Goldin, and designed by Christian Wassmann, the exhibition "explores a city where you could catch a football game in Manhattan, travel via a floating airport, and live in an apartment also acting as a bridge support." Below, Frank Lloyd Wright's "Key Plan for Ellis Island" (1959), Eliot Noyes’s Westinghouse Pavilion proposal for the 1964 World’s Fair installed at the exhibit as a scaled-down "bouncy house" model, and Paul Rudolph’s "Galaxon Pavilion," designed for the 1964 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows and recreated in virtual reality by Shimahara Illustration. The exhibition is based on the curator's book, Never Built New York. From an interview with Lubell and Golding in City Lab:

Lubell: The way you experience the show in Queens connects you to the site, makes it real, and then you’re in the salon space before finally walking up to the panorama, looking above the projects with a sense of how it all would have affected the city. The combination of galleries makes for a really powerful experience.

Seeing these projects through our show doesn’t just create a ‘wow’ factor: it can inspire people to learn more about how cities do or don’t work. It clues people into the planning process. I think the emotions that come from looking back at these projects will make people think about what we can do now and in the future to improve New York.

Read the rest

Gorgeous x-ray area maps show how street-level entrances connect to NYC subway stations

Getting to a subway platform from the street often involves navigating stairs as well as a labyrinth of corridors. Architect Candy Chan created remarkably detailed and accurate diagrams of New York City's noted subway entrances and exits, overlaid with transparent parks and buildings. Read the rest

Marvel at New York City in this 1911 documentary travelogue

This film of New York City was shot in 1911, and it is in excellent condition. Everything is in sharp focus. It is as vibrant and picturesque as a Scorcese period film. Almost everyone wears a hat. All the men wear suits and ties. There are all kinds of public transportation - trolleys, cable cars, trains. Lots of horse-drawn carriages, and more automobiles than I would have guessed.

Read the rest

Cars parked on the mean streets of mid-1970s New York City

Cars: New York City, 1974–1976 collects over 100 of Langdon Clay's creepy shots of cars parked overnight on the streets of New York at its lowest ebb. The scenes evoke Taxi Driver, The Warriors, even a little Snake Plisken. Read the rest

1993 New York City recorded in high-definition DVHS format

This remarkably clear VHS footage of Clinton-era yuppies who are now retirement age will either take you back to a more innocent time, or give you a good glimpse of what yuppie scum looked like back in the day. Read the rest

The man who literally sniffed out the problems in NYC's subway

In the early 20th century, James "Smelly" Kelly used his legendary sense of smell and DIY inventions to find hazards, leaks, elephant poop, and eels that were causing problems in the New York City subway system. Atlas Obscura's Eric Grundhauser profiles the the man known as The Sniffer:

In addition to finding water leaks and plumbing issues, Kelly was also responsible for detecting dangerous gas and chemical leaks. From invisible gas fumes that could be ignited by a random spark, to gasoline draining into the system from above-ground garages, Kelly was there to find them out using his allegedly hypersensitive nose.

The most sensational tale of Kelly’s sense of smell was the time he was called to a 42nd Street station to suss out a stench that had overtaken the platforms. According to Kelly’s own account, the smell was so bad it almost bowled him over, but as he got his head back in the game, he pinpointed the source of the reek as… elephants. Amazingly, he was correct. The station in question had been built beneath the location of the old New York Hippodrome, which had been torn down in 1939. The Hippodrome had often featured a circus, and layers of elephant dung had ended up buried at the site. A broken water main had rehydrated the fossilized dung and subsequently leaked into the subway. Until, that is, Smelly Kelly was able to identify it.

"The Man Who Used His Nose to Keep New York’s Subways Safe" (Atlas Obscura) Read the rest

Pensive film blends wisdom and vignettes of New York with Alicia Keys' music

"You have to be able to put yourself in a place to be able to see things." Alicia Keys' “The Gospel” juxtaposes gorgeous black and white footage of everyday New York with profound insights from those who live there. Read the rest

Video: party with Keith Haring on New Year's Eve 1984

Keith Haring's New Year's Eve party in downtown Manhattan, 1984, as documented by video artist Nelson Sullivan. Those were the daze. (r/ObscureMedia, thanks UPSO!)

Read the rest

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