Saturday, October 29, 2005
Enid Annenberg Haupt, a publishing heiress who thought nothing of selling off her jewelry and fine art if it meant she could give millions more to benefit cancer patients, museums and the public gardens she loved so dearly. Haupt, who was known best for rescuing the New York Botanical Gardens vast, Victorian-style conservancy from demolition, died Tuesday at her home in Greenwich, Conn. The first $5 million she gave the garden came from the sale of fine jewwlry she kept in a vault. When she wanted to donate $25 million to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, she sold 15 Impressionist paintings. In the last 25 years, she donated more than $140 million to projects that included gardens at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D. C., and fountains on the Ellipse between the White House and the Washington Monument. She also bought George Washington's former home in Alexandria, Va., and donated it to the American Horticultural Society. Haupt also made major gifts to museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D. C..
Thursday, October 27, 2005
The Museum of Contemporary Art, or MOCA Shanghai, which opened in September is housed in a modern glass structure built as a greenhouse in the People's Park. It's within easy walking distance of the Shanghai Theater, a performing arts center, and the Shanghai Museum, a stronghold of historical Chinese art.
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Hong Kong will host a weeklong Bruce Lee festival next month featuring films, a fan gathering and tours of Lee-related sites, to mark the unveiling of a statue of the martial arts movie legend by Chinese sculptor Cao Chongen. The official unveiling of the larger than life 6-foot-6 inch tall statue will take place on the Avenue of Stars which is Hong Kong's equivalent of Hollywood's Walk of Fame. Lee fans also will have a chance to discuss the Legendary Lee at a gathering in Hong Kong the same day, which would have been Lee's 65th birthday. The festival, November 25 through December 1 includes a tour of Lee's home and schools.
Monday, October 24, 2005
The lobby of the faded Alexandria Hotel in Los Angeles once bustled with Hollywood deal makers and dignitaries, including three presidents who stayed there (Theodore Roosevelt, William Taft and Woodrow Wilson). If its plan is approved, developer American Group intends to uncover the Alexandria's hidden treasures as they restore the building's common areas. Windows and skylights hidden long ago by remodeling would be uncovered and restored. Backers described the plan as a milestone for downtown, where a historic building would be renovated but still reserved for units with below-market rents. Until now, developers have said the cost of restoring old bank buildings and other historic structures was so high that the only way they could make their money back was to immediately sell the units as condos or charge hefty rents. The new plan offers a refreshing change.
Saturday, October 22, 2005
Shirley Horn, the Grammy-winning singer and pianist whose richly expressive vocal style made her one of the most popular performers in jazz, died Thursday night in Washington, D. C., after a lengthy illness. She was 71. Horn brought a richly layered storytelling quality to everything she sang. She could swing but slow songs were her specialty and her music had a sensuous, sexy quality. Jazz critic Nat Hentoff said very few singers have been so admired by their peers: the musicians who know the business. In 1991, paired with an orchestra for the first time, Horn recorded "Here's to Life," which stayed on the Billboard jazz chart for 15 weeks. Horn once said "Jazz is feeling. It's fire and ice. I want the people in the audience to feel and see the picture I'm trying to paint. I want to be in touch with you and get inside of you." And she did. Critic Don Heckman said "Her cognac-smooth voice" was marvelous and "her capacity to deliver lyrics in utterly believable fashion remains one of the marvels of the vocal world whatever the genre."
Thursday, October 20, 2005
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
The first private spaceship took its place at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum next to Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis, a hoped for symbol of a new era of space tourism alongside the icon of trans-Atlantic flight. SpaceShipOne's designer, Burt Rutan and its financier, Microsoft Corp. cofounder Paul Allen, were on hand as the museum took ownership of the 28-foot star-spangled spacecraft. A year ago, Rutan and Allen captured the $10-million Ansari X Prize when SpaceShipOne dashed to the edge of space twice in five days. The prize was aimed at encouraging space tourism. Rutan has a deal with British entrepreneur Richard Branson to build a fleet of passenger spacecraft.
Monday, October 10, 2005
"Some 60 years ago Arnold Toynbee (above) concluded, in his monumental 'Study of History' that the ultimate cause of imperial collapse was 'suicidal statecraft.' Sadly for George W. Bush's place in history and--much more important--ominously for America's future, that adroit phrase increasingly seems applicable to the policies pursued by the United States since the cataclysm of 9/11." The above is the start of an Op Ed piece in Sunday's Los Angeles Times by Zbigniew Brzezinski. He goes on to point out how the war has turned out to be much more costly in blood and money than anticipated. "It has precipitated worldwide criticism. In the Middle East it has stamped the United States as the imperialistic successor to Britian and as a partner of Israel in the military repression of the Arabs. Fair or not, that perception has become widespread throughout the world of Islam. . . . It is a self-delusion for Americans to be told that the terrorists are motivated mainly by an abstract 'hatred of freedom' and that their acts are a reflection of a profound cultural hostility." The contrast between the attack on Iraq and America's forbearance of a nuclear-armed North Korea has strengthened the conviction of the Iranians that their security can only be enhanced by nuclear weapons. Let's hope that in the coming months our nation seeks a truly bipartisan foreign policy that constructively focuses on North Korea, Iran, Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process while restoring the legitimacy of America's global role.
Saturday, October 01, 2005
In the lexicon of lying, there are white lies and barefaced lies. Facts can be fudged, forged or shaded. There are fibbers, fabricators and feckless fabulists. By whatever clinical term, the truth simply is not in some people. Now scientists have an anatomical inkling why. A USC study published in the October issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry suggests that the talent for compulsive deception is embedded in the structure of the brain. People who habitually lie and cheat--pathological liars--appear to have much more white matter, which speeds communication between neurons, in the prefrontal cortex than normal people, the researchers found. They also have fewer actual neurons. Lying is hard work, and these brains may be better-equipped to handle it than those of most of us.