Three-Way Tie in New York Times ‘Year in Pictures’ Bakeoff!

One of the cherished holiday traditions here at the Global Worldwide Headquarters is the annual Running of the Photographers in the New York Times’s Year in Pictures special section.

(Past bakeoff winners, if you’re keeping score at home.)

From the Times website: “5.6 million. That’s roughly the number of images photo editors of The New York Times sift through each year to find the perfect photographs to represent the news for our readers.”

This year, 62 images and 45 photographers made the cut. Thirty-nine of the shutterbugs had one photo in the special section; three others had two.

That leaves three photographers with more than two, and this is where it gets interesting.

Start with Lam Yik Fei, whose chronicling of the Hong Kong protests earned him the front and back pages of the section.


Two other Yik Fei shots of the protest are featured . . . and then there’s this.



Construction worker, anti-Beijing lawmaker, volunteer medic, another volunteer medic. Do they count as four or one?

So Yik Fei has either seven or four representations in the YIP.

Next up: Elizabeth D. Herman and Celeste Sloman, “who photographed each one of the record number of women in the 116th Congress.” That’s over 100 portraits (if you’re keeping score at home), of which these made the YIP.



So – six? Or one?

Last, but by no means least, is Erin Schaff, a Times staff photographer based in Washington. She got to travel with Donald Trump to South Korea (and the DMZ) and various Trump rallies, including one last month in Georgia.



In all, Schaff has five photos in this year’s YIP.

Thus, our three-way tie.

There are a few other iconic images we should note.

A meme-able Nancy Pelosi from previous bakeoff winner Doug Mills.



Madonna on Madonna from the mysterious “JR for the New York Times.”



Notre-Dame de Perish by Thomas Goisque.



Helluva year, no?

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Dead Blogging Ballets Russes Photos at Russian Icon Museum

Well the Missus and I trundled out to Clinton over the weekend to catch Emil Hoppé: Photographs from the Ballets Russes (through March 8) at the Museum of Russian Icons and say, it was swell.

Emil Otto Hoppé and the Ballets Russes pays homage to the genius of two men: Sergei Diaghilev who, more than a century ago, founded the Ballets Russes, and Emil Otto Hoppé, who, between 1911 and 1921, photographed the champions of that illustrious company.

With both studio portraits and ballet sequences, this visual chronicle presents not only the leading stars of the Ballets Russes such as Vaslav Nijinsky, Adolph Bolm, Michel and Vera Fokine and Tamara Karsavina, but also celebrities whose connection with Diaghilev was tangential rather than axial – such as Mathilde Kschessinska, Anna Pavlova and Hubert Stowitts.

In his review yesterday, Boston Globe art critic Mark Feeney called the exhibit “balletomane heaven.”

[Hoppé] understood that while the stage exalts the body in all its sculptural fullness the camera worships the face.

Faces Hoppé would give it. The supreme example belongs to the name supremely associated with the Ballets Russes: Nijinsky. The sheer sexiness of the portrait of him in full costume (and even fuller makeup) from “La Spectre de la Rose” is hard to overstate. He isn’t so much flesh and blood as gunpowder in search of a match.

Hoppé’s “pictorial chronicling” of the Ballets Russes stopped just short of the arrival of Diaghilev’s baby ballerina, the British-born Alicia Marks, who joined the dance troupe at age 14, defying two of the impresario’s ironclad rules: He didn’t work with children, and he didn’t work with anyone who couldn’t speak Russian.

Markova went on to dance for 38 years and become the most acclaimed ballerina of her time, her worldwide renown surpassing even the great Pavlova’s.

(Shameless plug for the Missus goes here)

You can discover the marvel that was Markova at this website accompanying The Making of Markova, the definitive biography of the first Jewish prima ballerina assoluta.

Even without Markova, though, the Hoppé exhibit is well worth the trundle.

P.S. The museum hosted a lovely event on Saturday, Russian Holiday Tree Traditions & Soviet New Year’s Ornaments  – a tree lighting and talk by Masha Goncharova from St. Petersburg, Russia, with tea and refreshments. Thoroughly delightful.

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South Boston’s 02210 Lands on Wall Street Journal’s ‘Rich Zips’

For the past several years, the hardworking staff has been largely disoriented by Boston’s Waterfront development. Every time we venture there, it seems three new high-rises have sprung up and three dozen parking spaces have disappeared.

Still, we were a bit surprised when 02210 was the spotlight postal code in Friday’s Wall Street Journal Rich Zips series.

The South Boston Waterfront Finds Its Way

A condominium building boom and commercial tenants like Amazon and Reebok have changed the face of this once industrial no-man’s-land

The South Boston Waterfront, located just across from downtown, didn’t always used to be this hip. It was a shipping district in the early 20th century and used mostly for parking lots into the mid-1980s. Then the Big Dig increased access to the area and developers came in. Today, the Waterfront is composed of a handful of booming areas including the Seaport, Fort Point and Fan Pier. Pricey condominium buildings abound and restaurants, shops and hotels have shot up. Amazon broke ground in May on a Seaport office, Reebok moved here in 2018, and creative writing nonprofit Grub Street is in the process of moving from downtown to the Seaport. While this zone has lacked residential conveniences like grocery stores, these are coming too: Trader Joe’s opened in October.

Representative samples:


No mention, however, that Boston’s Seaport is East Coast Sea-Level-Rise Patient Zero.

From Prashant Gopal and Brian K Sullivan at Bloomberg:

Boston Built a New Waterfront Just in Time for the Apocalypse

Developers scramble to protect a city’s glittering 1,000 acres from climate change.

On a balmy June morning, a gathering of local dignitaries welcomed the latest glittering jewel to Boston’s new Seaport District: a 17-story tower that will house 1,000 Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co.employees. In a display of artistry and engineering, the $240 million building will have an undulating glass facade designed to reflect the harbor’s rippling waters, as if it had risen fully formed from the ocean’s depths. Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker marveled that he’d officiated at three or four groundbreakings here in just a few weeks. “Do you get to keep all that tax revenue?” he joked with Boston Mayor Marty Walsh.

Only a decade ago, Boston’s Seaport District, located just southeast of downtown, was little more than a crazy quilt of outdoor parking lots and warehouses. Then the city began recruiting startups and big corporations to what it dubbed a new “Innovation District,” and the area sprouted offices for General Electric,, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Fidelity Investments, and PricewaterhouseCoopers, as well as luxury condominiums, museums, and some of the city’s hippest restaurants.

What no one mentioned at this month’s event is Boston’s poor timing. No American city has left such a large swath of expensive new oceanfront real estate and infrastructure exposed to the worst the environment has to offer, according to Chuck Watson, owner of Enki Research, which assesses risk for insurers, investors, and governments.

Glub glub, all you high-rise developers.

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Rafael Nadal Makes History, Roger Federer Makes $neakers

This past weekend Rafael Nadal led Spain to its sixth Davis Cup championship, winning all eight of his matches (five singles, three doubles) without dropping a set.

Nadal’s 6-3, 7-6(7) victory over Canada’s Denis Shapovalov that clinched the title on Sunday was, Kevin Mitchell wrote in The Guardian, “another clutch performance to end an astonishing week from the best player in the world.”

Via Tennis Warden:


And how, you might ask, did Roger Federer do at this year’s Davis Cup?

He didn’t – because he skipped it for the fifth straight year (as did fellow Swiss player Stan Wawrinka). In fact, Switzerland couldn’t even get past the qualifying round this year, losing 3-1 to Russia in February. (Beyond that, the Federer-less Swiss team also lost 3-1 to Slovakia in September, thereby failing to qualify for the 2020 Davis Cup.)

Instead, Federer was on a megabucks exhibition tour of Latin America that netted him about $10 million. (There’s also Federer’s vanity tournament, the Laver Cup, established to compete with the Davis Cup.)

Roger Dodger did, however, garner some attention on the last day of Davis Cup play.

From Elizabeth Paton’s Page One piece in the New York Times Sunday Styles section, headlined Roger Federer, Sneakerhead?

Pundits have been predicting Mr. Federer’s retirement for almost a decade. For nearly as long, he has defied their expectations. Lately, however, despite stressing that he is far from finished playing, Mr. Federer has started to talk more openly about what comes next.

That’s where a company called On comes in . . .

Mr. Federer has become an investor in, as well as a contributing product designer and representative for, the [Swiss running shoe] brand, which was started in 2010 in Zurich.

(To be sure graf goes here)

To be sure, every athlete looks to maximize his or her financial return from what is an inevitably time-sensitive career.

But to some athletes, competing for their country is a greater prize than prize money.

Another reason Rafael Nadal is No. 1 in much more than just the ATP rankings.

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Springfield Museum Ghosts Contributors of Works to Exhibits

Well the Missus and I trundled west the other day to check out the – five, count ’em five – Springfield Museums and say, the exhibits were swell.

But their attribution? Not so much.

First we went to The Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts, whose first floor features BAUHAUS: 100 Years Later (through February 16). Of all the 100th anniversary Bauhaus exhibits we’ve seen this year, this just might be our favorite.

No art school had a more influential or lasting impact on 20th century art and design than the Bauhaus. Founded in 1919 by the German architect Walter Gropius (1883-1969), the Bauhaus’ curriculum aimed to unite fine art, architecture, design and craft with the goal of creating functional art that could be incorporated into to daily life. Today, the streamlined designs and forward-looking aesthetic of the Bauhaus continues to inspire creative minds. This exhibition showcases work by major figures such as Josef Albers (1888-1976), Johannes Itten (1888–1967), Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944), Oskar Schlemmer (1888-1943), and others who were involved with the school between 1919 and 1933.

The only acknowledgement by the museum of the exhibit’s source seems to be this single sentence in a press release: “Many of the pieces that will be displayed were donated by Springfield attorney and art collector Abraham Kamberg.”

By “many” the museum means “all but two” as far as we could tell. But there’s no mention of Kamberg in the wall text, just “Gift of Alma and Abraham Kamberg” at the bottom of the labels alongside each work.

Short shrift, wouldn’t you say?

The second floor houses The Art of Observation: The Best of Photographer Elliott Erwitt (through January 12), a eye-popping collection of the fabled streetscape shutterbug’s snapshots.

With a storied career spanning over six decades, photographer Elliott Erwitt (born 1928) is responsible for some of the most iconic images of the 20th century. Born in Paris, France, Erwitt immigrated to the United States at a young age. In his twenties, Erwitt became acquainted with Edward Steichen (1879-1973) and his work was featured in the seminal Museum of Modern Art exhibition titled Family of Man . . .  Although Elliott Erwitt famously captured major public figures like Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Kennedy, and more recently Barack and Michelle Obama, he is also known for his ability to reveal the extraordinary in the everyday. Clever framing, insightful visual parallels, and the ability to capture pivotal moments characterize what Erwitt called the “art of observation.”

Representative samples:




(A great story goes with that last photo: Erwitt shot it while traveling in Provence with legendary adman Bill Bernbach. The man on the bike was their driver. I forget where the kid came from. They rode down the road dozens of times until Erwitt got the shot he wanted. The rock you see alongside the bike signaled to the kid when to look back at the camera.)

The museum website also notes, “This exhibition, featuring over 90 gelatin silver prints, provides an overview of Elliott Erwitt’s spectacular career, which paralleled important photographic innovations and historical moments of the last century.”

What it fails to note is that all 90 (as far as I could tell) come from the collection of Richard Coplan, who receives no mention in the wall text or the museum’s press release, only the last line of the photographs’ labels.

That’s exceedingly odd.

(To be sure graf goes here)

To be sure, I don’t know the details behind the exhibits or their presentation. But I’ll send this post to the Springfield Museums press relations folks to see if they can enlighten me.

P.S. The Missus and I also dropped by the Wood Museum of Springfield History to catch Sweet: A Tasty Journey (Subhead: Unwrap the origins of our candy cravings!) and yes, it is 1) very tasty and 2) there through April 26.

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Dead Blogging ‘Hans Hofmann’ at Peabody Essex Museum

Well the Missus and I trundled up to Salem this past weekend to take in Hans Hofmann: The Nature of Abstraction (through January 5) at the expanded Peabody Essex Museum and say, the exhibit was swell although the #newPEM part was a bit confusing.

Start with the Hans Hofmann exhibit, which was curated by Lydia Gordon, Associate Curator of Exhibitions and Research at PEM.

Discover a fresh perspective on the artist and teacher widely considered a profound influence on American modern art. Organized by UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA), the exhibition presents the most comprehensive examination of Hans Hofmann’s innovative and prolific artistic career. Through paintings and works on paper from 1930 through the end of Hofmann’s life in 1966, explore the artist’s journey into abstraction, and his deep contribution to the artistic landscape of New England.

It’s a nicely staged, truly immersive showing of Hofmann’s synthesis of color, shape, and light. As Hofmann, a born teacher, told his students, “In nature, light creates the color. In the picture, color creates the light.” And PEM has created something enlightening.

(You don’t have to take our word for it, though – the Wall Street Journal’s Lance Esplund gave it a rave review in Tuesday’s edition.)

From there we revisited Order of Imagination: The Photographs of Olivia Parker, a fabulous exhibit of Parker’s work that vividly illuminated her scaling, setting, and lighting of objects large and small, common and exotic.

Representative samples:


From Mark Feeney’s Boston Globe review:

At their frequent best, these images are marvelousness made visible. Marvelousness is to be expected when, as here, invention and slyness and seemingly boundless curiosity come together.

Unfortunately, the exhibit closed this past Monday, but a visit to the web page is a fine consolation prize.

From there we wandered over to the museum’s new $125 million wing – accent on wandered. (Note to PEMniks: Signage, people.)

Eventually we stumbled upon PEM’s new exhibit Fashion and Design Can . . . (through January 1, 2022).

Whether designing for self-adornment or for use, this installation unifies two traditionally disparate collecting fields to better understand what underlies our motivations and capacity for designing ourselves and the world around us. Ensembles from the Iris Apfel Rare Bird of Fashion collection celebrate the exuberant remixing and inventive styling of one of the world’s most prominent fashion icons, while constellations of unique and culturally significant works of design, fashion, and textiles explore distinctive and resourceful forms of creative expression.

The exhibit declares that fashion and design can . . . Be Imaginative . . . Intimidate or Empower . . . Define or Confine . . . and etc.

It can also . . .  Be a Bit of a Mishmash.

Representative samples:



(To be fair graf goes here)

To be fair, this is how Curator of Fashion and Textiles Nancy Putnam sees the exhibit.



Either way, well worth a trundle.

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Zippy the Pinhead Misses the Boat on Boston’s Lobster Mickey

The hardworking staff yields to no man in our respect and admiration for Bill Griffith’s Zippy the Pinhead comic strip.

But today’s strip in the Boston Globe is, well, kind of chuckleheaded.

Notice the caption lower right: “Real Statue in Boston, MA.”

Except it’s not anymore, at least according to this piece in Atlas Obscura.

For Mickey Mouse’s 75th birthday, Disney commissioned artists across the country to decorate 700 pound mickey statues for their local region.

The Boston area really took that “local” part seriously.

Artist Breanna Rowlette created “Lobsta’ Mickey,” a tribute to Boston’s close ties to seafood and linquistic accent. The six foot tall mouse is charming and strange at the same time… there’s something about a rodent with giant claws that can’t help but be a tad unsettling. He can be found at Faneuil Hall marketplace.

Update 2015: Sadly Lobster Mickey is no longer present. He got auctioned off in 2005 for 9000$ to an unknown bidder.

Sadly indeed.

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GateHouse Media’s Free-Rent Sweepstakes a Gate-and-Switch

Imagine the hardworking staff’s delight when we received an email from GateHouse Media with the subject line Win a Mortgage-Free or Rent-Free Year!





(We’ll pass over in silence the inconvenient fact that up to $15,000 would be more like an entire three months of mortgage or rent payments in much of Massachusetts.)

Even so, the hardclicking staff went right to Enter Now!, which took us to a page at the (Peoria) Journal Star featuring this message.



Seriously? To enter the sweepstakes we need to set our alarm for 1 AM on November 13?That feels more like a bleepstakes. The folks at Gannett better hope the GateHouse gang is less weaselly when they close their merger deal – if they ever get there.

The New York Post has reported that there might be a hitch in the proceedings that involves the private equity firm Apollo Global Management.

The FCC is concerned that the $1.8 billion loan Apollo is providing to finance the merger could violate its duopoly laws, sources said.

That’s because Apollo also has a deal planned to buy 13 television stations owned by broadcast company Cox Enterprises for $3 billion. And while Gatehouse and Gannett are newspaper publishers and Apollo is buying TV stations from Cox, the FCC has rules that stop common ownership of a daily print newspaper and a TV station in the same market.

GateHouse executives just might want to set their own alarms for 1 AM on November 12.

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Made Yankee Fan in Boston: In Houston They Had a Problem

Game 6 of the 2019 American League Championship Series was a case study in Just What You Expected.

Let’s start from the beginning: In the bottom of the 1st, Chad (The Arsonist) Green gave up a three-run homer to Yuri Guriel, whose ALCS batting average at the time was .050, which is only slightly better than my batting average in the big leagues.

(Insert here multiple Yankee undisciplined plate appearances over the next few innings in which they turned a lot of balls into swinging strikes.)

By the middle of the 5th it was 3-2 Houston, but the lead somehow felt bigger.

(See: Josh Reddick’s diving catch in the 6th followed by DJ LeMahieu’s first-pitch groundout to end the inning, and Michael Brantley’s diving catch in the 7th after which he doubled Aaron Judge off first.)

Still . . . it seemed only right that in the top of the 9th the Yankees would bring either LeMahieu or Judge to the plate with the tying run on first.

And LeMahieu delivered.



So – perfect – bring on super Yankees closer Aroldis (Lights Out) Chapman and what did he do?

He let José Altuve turn the lights out.



Bottom line: The Astros were four wins better than the Yankees during the regular season (107 to 103), and they were four wins better in the ALCS.

Wait til next year, yeah?

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Made Yankee Fan in Boston: Goin’ Back to Houston, Houst . . .

Yesterday, in our dour assessment of the New York Yankees’ performance in the 2019 ALCS, we said oy.

Today we turn to this old Jewish proverb: One chops wood, the other says Hey!

That’s our cue:


The Yankees staved off elimination by mugging Justin Verlander for four runs in the first inning – welcome back Aaron Hicks – and hanging on for the next eight.



James (The Gopher) Paxton traded his standard first-inning homers for a run-scoring wild pitch, but then settled down to throw six stalwart innings. The bullpen went lights out and the Yanks packed up for two – maybe! – in Houston.

See you there.

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