Monthly Archives: November 2008

Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola

            Do-wee-dee-bop-bop-oh-yeah-jazz. Jazz seems to be a music genre a world away from the music of the 21st century. Now, my generation listens primarily to rap, pop, hip-hop, etcetera, but jazz? That falls by the wayside unless perhaps you happen to be a musician or a music major. Many people my age associate jazz music with their parents or even their grandparents. It is not a music genre that is on their radar. However, jazz has an immense influence on modern music, which can be seen through artists like Kanye West who sample music from the greats of jazz like Ray Charles. The tremendous success Kanye West and Jamie Foxx had with “Gold Digger” which was sampled from Ray Charles’ “I Got a Woman” proves that jazz music is still a force to be reckoned with. Jazz has a rich history and jazz singers have such a commitment and love for their craft which is something I was fortunate enough to witness at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola when we saw Arturo O'Farrill & Claudia Acuna perform.

            Sitting at the cool, calm atmosphere of Dizzy’s club Coca Cola, I found myself being swept away by the energy that Claudia, Arturo and the rest of the band created during their set. Whether Claudia was portraying a coy femme fatale or Arturo was acting as the cool, humorous maestro, I found myself becoming more and more caught up in the world that they created. For 90 minutes, I was in a world of jazz, being captivated by the stories they told through song. Whether Claudia was singing in English or Spanish, I felt like I understood. The songs had so much more heart and soul then the music of our generation. And you could tell the performers were genuinely happy to be there, whereas many performers these days don’t even bother to show up to the concerts many of their fans eagerly anticipate. The intimate setting of Dizzy’s made me feel closer to the artists and you could tell they were truly in love with what they were doing, which made it that much better. The yummy food didn’t hurt either! As I was watching, I found myself wondering more about the history of jazz and Arturo O’Farrill and Claudia Acuna.

            Jazz originated in the 20th century in African-American communities in the Southern United States. It was marked by its use of blues notes and improvisation. Jazz music also started many sub genres:

            Jazz has, from its early 20th century inception, spawned a variety of subgenres, from         New Orleans Dixieland dating from the early 1910s, big band-style swing from the 1930s and 1940s, bebop from the mid-1940s, a variety of Latin jazz fusions such as Afro-   Cuban and Brazilian jazz from the 1950s and 1960s, jazz-rock fusion from the 1970s and late 1980s developments such as  acid jazz, which blended jazz influences into funk  and hip-hop(

Other music forms are marked by the fact that the performer most likely plays the song as it was written; however, in jazz the performer takes more liberties and rarely plays the same song twice in the same way. The way the performer plays the song depends on his mood, the audience’s reception, interaction with other band members or a number of other circumstances. Jazz was originally defined by black artists like Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington; however as time passed and the genre grew, Latin and other cultures began to put their own spin on jazz music.

            Latin jazz is an infusion of African and Latin musical influences. Claudia Acuna began singing Chilean pop, rock, folk and opera.  She fell in love with Jazz after listening to Frank Sinatra and Sara Vaughan. She moved to New York City in 1995 and became a fixture on the jazz scene by performing at Arturo’s, the Zinc Bar and Small’s. Arturo O’Farrill masterfully combines Latin music with jazz, so when he and Latin trained Claudia met and began working together, it was a match made in heaven. Their work came to reality with their CD “In These Shoes” which has jazz and Latin music as well as a Van Morrison composition. That’s what I love about jazz. It has a way to break down cultural barriers, and instead of cultures having very separate and distinct sounds, artists find a way to mesh them together to make something beautiful.

            Dizzy’s was the perfect place for me to have one of my firsts encounters with jazz music up close and personal. The beauty of Dizzy’s is being able to look out at the breathtaking view of New York and Central Park while listening to music without the noise of the city interfering. It is close and intimate, and you really feel connected to the performers. I thought Dizzy’s was a wonderful experience, and I’m very glad we had the chance to go.














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The Future of Opera? A Review of La Damnation de Faust by Sara Blasingame

                                    Berlioz  Levine

Hector Belioz[i]
and James Levine[ii]

On Tuesday
November 18th, I saw the Met’s new production of Berlioz’s Damnation
de Faust
. It was certainly an event of the
21st century with video projections as the centerpiece. For the most
part, I enjoyed the evening. The production was visually stunning, but
sometimes overwhelming, and while the innovative new technology of
French-Canadian director Robert Lepage enthralled me, I would not wish to see
it dominate the opera productions of the future.

Tenor Marcello
Giordani sang the title role. While the beauty of his instrument sometimes
surfaced, overall he seemed tense, stressed, or nervous, and it showed
vocally.  Fortunately I have
nothing more to complain about musically. Susan Graham, with her beautiful,
rich mezzo voice, made a great Marguerite. Bass-baritone John Relyea was
fantastic as Méphistophélès. He was appropriately evil, yet at the same time
charming in his red leather costume (that made him look like a biker from the
Renaissance) completed with a hat with long horns that turned out to be quills
(with which Faust signs away his soul). The audience frequently chuckled when
he entered, and I found myself sympathizing with him. Maestro James Levine
conducted. Under his baton, music flowed seamlessly from the orchestra.

Robert Lepage, and
his infrared projection technology were certainly the stars of the production.
Lepage invented this effect for Cirque de Soleil’s. The projections sense the movements of the actors
and respond, so that the images on the screens interact with the action on
stage. For instance, in one scene, soldiers climb up the face of the set onto
which tall grass is projected. As the soldiers move through the grass, the
grass parts as if the soldiers were really wading through it. In other scene,
trees shrivel up and shed their fall leaves as Méphistophélès walks by.  The best word I can think of to
describe the production is “cool.”

There were,
however, parts I did not like. Twice – once in the dream sequence and again in
her aria, Marguerite’s face appeared, taking up the whole three-story set. It
was distracting and slightly disturbing to see such a gigantic human face.

Spectacle has
always been a part of opera, but in the 21st century there seems to
be a move towards a new kind of spectacle. In response to the central role
cinema has in our visual culture, the directors of this generation are making
opera more and more cinematic. The late Anthony Minghella’s beautiful
production of Madama Butterfly looked
like an art film.  Lepage goes an
extra step by actually including film on the stage.

This new direction with Lepage’s
new technology is certainly interesting. I enjoyed the spectacle, but I think
that it can only work in a narrow context. It worked for La Damnation de
, a dramatic legend, because it
brought the surreal fantasy to life, but I shudder to think of a
Traviata or a Bohème executed in this manner. Opera, even verismo, is always larger than
life, because it is a dramatic art, but I still find myself drawn into its
world, and when the production is good, for those few hours I live in that
universe. However, I found with
Faust that I never forgot I was watching a production, because the
production was the biggest part of the evening.  The screens added an element of the impersonal, which I
would not want to see take over the opera world. There is already a fourth
wall, we do not need to add a screen.


All of my factual information comes
from the Playbill for La Damnation de Faust.


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Mind of a Mad Man: Greg Ketchum


By: Alex Davis

before the dapper Don Draper of AMC’s Mad Men became the “King of Media” on the small screen, David Ogilvy—founder
of ad agency Ogilvy & Mather in 1948—hailed as the “The Father of
Advertising.” Ogilvy currently houses seven divisions in over 160 cities and
is responsible for some of the most recognizable and innovative ads today. Look
no farther then the regular women featured in the ad giant’s  “Dove Campaign For Real Beauty” who
have become empowering role models for females everywhere. When we hear the
countless celebs say the words “My Life, My Card”, we know they are holding a
shiny American Express card in their hand—and Ogilvy is responsible for such
brand recognition. Greg ketchum

Ketchum, copywriter and Group Creative Director at Ogilvy, is part of the
current advertising team helping to expand the success of one of the greatest
international marketing, advertising, and public relations agencies in the
world. Ketchum incorporates the company’s key concept to build brands through
“360 Degree Brand Stewardship”—combining local knowledge and clients with all
vital worldwide networks. Greg Ketchum has achieved great success with this
approach, currently co-managing the IBM account for Ogilvy, and previously
working on Motorola and Lenovo.

rampant affairs Don Draper is known for on television provided the very medium
for Ketchum to visually interpret the compromising situation that Governor
Spitzer found himself in last ySpitzerear. Ketchum’s work was a craze around the
country, and was just as hard to forget as the affair itself. (see below left)

Ketchum began his career at Ogilvy in 2004, Ketchum was Creative Director on
Saturn and Worldwide Creative Director for Hewlett-Packard at Hal Riney & Partners
in San Francisco. He also spent eight notable years at BBDO in Los Angeles from
1989-1997. His success at BBDO included working as Creative Director for Apple
Computer and adding the title of Senior Vice President, Creative Director to
his resume.  Rumor has it that the
ad agency in Mad Men is based on BBDO.
Throughout his accomplished years in the advertising business, Ketchum has been
recognized several times for his work, including awards at Cannes and a Kelly
Finalist Honors for Apple Computer.

Ketchum speaks with our class as part of the Inside Advertising Speakers
Program of The Advertising Educational Foundation (AEF). AEF is a non-profit
organization aimed at enriching society’s knowledge about the advertising
realm. The Inside Advertising Speakers Program brings top ad executives, like
Greg Ketchum, into the classroom to unveil the workings of such an influential

Take a peak at more of Ogilvy’s Creative Portfolio
(featuring TV/print ads for Nestle, American Express, Matel, IBM, etc):


Resources Consulted:

Greg Ketchum Biography Provided by Miriam Vines


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Greg Ketchum and the World of Advertising – By Eileen Zhang


Not many of us are experts on the
advertising industry, but as consumers, we know when an ad is effective.  With appearances from celebrities like Ellen
DeGeneres, Tina Fey, Robert DeNiro, and Martin Scorsese, American Express’s “My
Life, My Card” commercials are funny, smart, and certainly memorable. The
brains behind the campaign is the advertising agency Ogilvy and Mather, where
our guest speaker Greg Ketchum is the Senior Partner and Group Creative
Director. Celebrating its 60 year anniversary in September this year, Ogilvy
and Mather was started in 1948 on Madison Avenue by David Ogilvy, who is often
known as “the father of advertising.” The new agency had a hard time finding
clients, but after six decades it can now boast of clients like BP, Coca-Cola,
Gillette, Mattel, Nestle, and many other well-known brands. Our familiarity
with these big brands proves that Ogilvy was right in believing in the power of
brands: as he put it, “Every advertisement is part of the long-term investment
in the personality of a brand.” With innovative ideas like the Dove Campaign
for Real Beauty or putting hilarious videos on the internet to attract young
consumers to Motorola’s new line of phones, Ogilvy and Mather has been no stranger
to the Cannes Lion International Advertising Festival, basically the Oscars of

Ketchum has been with the company since
2004 and has worked on brands like Motorola and Lenovo and is currently
involved with IBM. Before Ogilvy and Mather, Ketchum started with newspaper ads
and then joined BBDO, a major advertising agency network, where he eventually
became Senior Vice President and also Creative Director on Apple Computer. His
award-winning work also includes campaigns for Saturn and Hewlett-Packard.

For a look at Ogilvy and Mather’s portfolio, go to

American Express commercial with Martin Scorsese:






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Pam Liu- Blog #2 – A Reaction to the Graphic Novel

I’ve always had a problem reading
novels. There’s just something seemingly endless about the words, sentences, paragraphs,
chapters, and pages. Perhaps, I am impatient, or my math/science-oriented brain
just isn’t imaginative enough to appreciate all the story has to offer.
                But I am grateful to the DiNY
program that I have been introduced to the graphic novel. I loved City of Glass  by Paul Auster. Everything about it
was engaging for me. I love that its concise written portion is coupled with complex
pictures that give you instant visualization of a scene. The best part for me is
that although it appears like a simple medium, I’ve already read and analyzed
the pictures of City of Glass three times and still discover
something new each time. To further explore this until now secret world of
graphic novels, I did a bit of Google research.

First, I stumbled across a great comic
online titled “What is a ‘graphic novel’?” Take a look:



            The above comic was written by Jessica Abel, a writer and
cartoonist. She has written a textbook titled Drawing Words & Writing Pictures about how to make comics. Her
most renowned work is a five part mini comic book series (later turned book), La Perdida, about a woman living abroad
Mexico. This series won the 2002 “Best new series” Harvey Award. Currently, she is
working on a graphic novel, which I plan to read, called Life Sucks

Life Sucks is
about Dave Miller—a vegetarian, broke, girlfriend-less convenient store employee
whose boss is a vampire. He finds himself competing with a vampire for the love
of Rosa, his gothic dream girl.

For a full biography on Jessica, visit her website.

***Note: Jessica
Abel lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband, Matt

successful comic book writer and artist. The couple can be potential guest
speakers to discuss the writing and illustrating profession for future DiNY

I found out that when choosing a graphic novel to read, you
should choose based off not only the genre of the book, but also off the
artistic style. I discovered some good advice in class about reading graphic
novels. At first, I was simply just reading the text and glancing over the
pictures. However, I now know it is important to study each picture with great
detail to gain the best understanding of the story.

            I saw many
lists online of top 10 graphic novels, but this list by Danny Fingeroth
(American comic book writer and editor, who has worked as an editor on the Spider Man comics, and also written a
book titled The Rough Guide to Graphic
), seemed to have the most graphic novels that I would like to read in
the future.

"For my top 10, I decided to
take the crème de la crème, the graphic novels that I most enjoyed. These are
graphic novels, some famous, some less well-known, that do what all great
literature does, in that they give you such a pleasurable experience while
reading that you're simultaneously eager to uncover the ending, yet also
dreading it, knowing that the experience will then be over." –Danny

Number eight on the list is the graphic novel Brooklyn Dreams, which was a comic series turned graphic novel in

Brooklyn Dreams is about a teenager’s
coming of age during one summer in his hometown, Brooklyn, NY. This book fits well into our semester topics, seeing as many of us fell in love
Brooklyn during our short tour. It also
contains the coming of age theme that many of us can relate to or are going
through currently. This graphic novel is a bit lengthy, about 385 pages.
Nevertheless, I will be on the quest to reading it in the near future. It received
great reviews on Read reviews.

Brooklyn Dreams was written by J.M
who if we could get the contact info for, would also be a
great guest speaker for DiNY. Brooklyn
is semi-autographical of his life. I couldn’t find a personal
website online.

            I am amazed at how many
graphic novels are out there, and I will definitely be sharing with others this
new medium. There has been a lot of research
on how graphic novels are beneficial to childhood education,
though it has yet to become an accepted medium into many school libraries,
because most “comics” have the negative association with superheroes and
fighting villains.

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Brooklyn Academy of Music—Brooklyn’s one stop cultural shop

For all those who were beginning to fear too many of New
York’s cultural institutions had lost their edge, succumbed to the temptation
of higher tickets sales and mass entertainment, BAM’s New Wave Festival should
put their minds at ease as it celebrates its twenty-fifth anniversary this

Despite its name, the Brooklyn Academy of Music exhibits the
work of visual artists, filmmakers, and poets as well as performance artists
and musicians. All of which is equally represented at the Academy’s acclaimed
New Wave Festival, which showcases the work of both emerging and established
artists. As a symbol of the cultural mecca BAM has become, this year’s Festival
includes the work of New York visual artist and sculptor, Leo Villareal. The
work commissioned by the Academy adorns the large windows of the Peter Jay
Sharp Building, which serves as BAM’s main entrance.


This year’s New Wave Festival runs from September—December, and will include live music and dance performances from groups like Judah Tribe and Amjad. Film screenings of films such as Tout est pardonne (All is Forgiven), and artist talks with the likes of choreographer Edouard Lock and Lynn Garafola, dance critic, historian and professor at Barnard College.

Below, is a sample of what one might expect at this year’s New Wave. Singer, songwriter, and musician Bora Yoon performs one of here multi-instrumental pieces which she composes using “soundscapes from everyday found objects and digital devices.”

Bora Yoon's 2007 BAM performance

 Today’s guest speaker, Becky Dingsor joins us from BAM and
Celebrate Brooklyn, where she has previously worked in the development sector,
surely contributing to the continued success of such programs and special
projects like the New Wave Festival.  

–Michala Kepple

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Becky Dingsor, BAM, and Celebrate Brooklyn – Lauren Lei

2008_08_Gehry Theater

Our other guest for the week will be Becky Dingsor, who is a development assistant for BAM. BAM stands for the Brooklyn Academy of Music, but contrary to its name, BAM is not a school. It’s actually a not-for-profit center for the performing arts with a particular focus on the progressive and avant-garde. Founded in 1861, BAM is the oldest continuously operating performing arts center in America. It consists of four main performance facilities: the Howard Gilman Opera House, the Harvey Lichtenstein Theater, the Rose Cinemas, and the Lepercq Space, also known as the BAMcafé. Many artists worldwide have come to perform and showcase their work at BAM, including the Met Opera, Philip Glass, and Ingmar Bergman. One of the main goals of the organization is to bring the more independent arts to the Brooklyn neighborhood, as well as provide revitalization, diversity, education, and outreach. BAM produces up to 220 performances a year, many of which are international. 

Similarly, Celebrate Brooklyn is a long-running festival held at the Prospect Park Bandshell over the summer that features cutting edge performing arts from all genres, including film, theater, song, and dance. This eight week long extravaganza, hosted by the BRIC Arts | Media |Bklyn organization, is completely free and draws upwards of 250,000 attendees each year. Celebrate Brooklyn showcases international successes of all genres, up-and-coming artists, and everything in between, from the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra to The Blue Man Group to brand new multimedia performances and exhibitions. In addition to bringing art to Brooklyn, the program is also dedicated to nurturing and supporting new works and often commissions work from cutting edge artists and groups, such as the Brave New World Repertory Theater.

Both work with the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership to enliven the BAM Cultural District of Brooklyn, which features a great number of artistic institutions. Together, they work to foster and inspire creativity in the community.

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