Broadway sings blues over synthesizer invasion

Originally posted at AFP via Slashdot.

IMG_1295While audiences at Broadway‘s “West Side Story” thrill to the on-stage drama, musicians in the orchestra pit are fighting a battle every bit as vicious as the Sharks-Jets rivalry.

This is gang warfare of a high-minded sort, pitting some of New York’s best live musicians against a synthesizer they fear will usurp the job of playing Leonard Bernstein‘s pulsating score.

Sophisticated synthesizers and computer-manipulated recordings are increasingly taking over orchestras. Sounding almost like real players, while costing much less, they’re especially popular with provincial or touring companies.

But until mid-July — when “West Side Story’s” producers announced that a synthesizer was replacing three live violinists and two cellists, or half the orchestra’s string section — staff violinist Paul Woodiel thought that at least the classics would be immune to the trend.

“It was the last straw for me,” Woodiel told AFP.

“I was a student and a friend of Leonard Bernstein and it’s almost certain he wouldn’t have allowed this. This isn’t dinner theater, it’s not Las Vegas. It’s Broadway and Leonard Bernstein was the greatest American musician.”

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New York bar to set menu prices like stocks

image NEW YORK (Reuters) – What’s the value of a pint of beer? Let the market decide, says a new restaurant in Manhattan where prices for food and beverages will fluctuate like stock prices in increments according to demand.

The Exchange Bar & Grill, set amid the bustling shops and pubs of the Grammercy Park neighborhood, is replete with a ticker tape flashing menu prices in red lettering as demand forces them to fluctuate.

Customers can move prices for all beverages and bar snacks such as hot wings ($7 for 6 pieces) or fried calamari ($9). The prices will fluctuate in $.25 cent increments, but will most likely plateau at a $2 change in either direction.

A glass of Guinness starts at $6 but could be pushed to a high of $8 or a low of $4, depending on popularity.

So if one drink is in heavy demand, its price will rise, causing the cost of other equivalent drinks to drop. A rush on a particular beer would increase its price, and cause other beers to drop.

The Exchange Bar & Grill has a long bar facing the ticker tape — and flat screen televisions — as well as a few tables in the back where patrons can eat in greater comfort.

Restaurants in New York and across America have had a tough year because consumers have slashed discretionary spending in a tough economic climate. New York has about 23,000 restaurants, with about 4,400 opening each year according to the city’s Department of Health, which tracks establishment licenses.

NYC mayor: Coney Island ‘is coming back, big time’

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NEW YORK — State-of-the-art new rides including a roller coaster and a pendulum will open this summer at Coney Island to jump-start the resurgence of the famed Brooklyn amusement park, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Tuesday.

"Coney Island is coming back, big time," Bloomberg said at a news conference near the boardwalk where the decades-old Astroland rides were dismantled in 2008.

The new rides are being created by Zamperla, the world’s leading manufacturer of mechanical rides, based in Altavilla Vicentina, Italy.

Luna Park at Coney Island will open on Memorial Day weekend with 19 rides. Among them will be the Air Race, which sends riders swinging and soaring around a control tower. It will be the ride’s global debut.

Also promised are games, live entertainment, and concessions including Nathan’s Famous hot dog stand, which opened in 1916, pioneering America’s concept of fast food.

By the summer of 2011, Scream Zone at Coney Island will offer two roller coasters, go-carts and a human slingshot launching people more than 200 feet into the air.

Central Amusement International of Parsippany, N.J., is investing about $30 million to build and operate the park. The company signed a 10-year lease for about 6 acres of land including the former Astroland site, paying the city $1 million plus part of gross receipts.

image"We will have rides that will flip you, turn you, launch you, drop you, splash you and make the mayor want to lose his lunch," said David Galst, a CAI spokesman.

Not all of Coney Island’s old amusements were scrapped.

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Lawn Chairs in Times Square

Native New Yorkers were a tad confused today when they learned that Broadway was shut down between 42nd Street and 47th Street over the long weekend. A new traffic pattern was put in place and a huge number of lawn chairs were placed to give Times Square tourists a place to sit.

Times Square Traffic Closure 01 Times Square Traffic Closure 02 Times Square Traffic Closure 03 Times Square Traffic Closure 04 Times Square Traffic Closure 05 Times Square Traffic Closure 06 Times Square Traffic Closure 07 Times Square Traffic Closure 08

Photos of Chelsea Market

Here are some neat HDR shots (mostly) that I took at Chelsea Market in NYC:

[flickr album=72157617864623406 num=30 size=Thumbnail]

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