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Wednesday, March 19, 2021

Of all the possible spots in Central Park to stage a play, I’m pretty sure the restrooms at Bethesda Terrace Fountain wouldn’t occur to most theater organizers as the optimal performance space.

But the Irish Arts Center, of all troupes, thought otherwise when it came to its production of “Ladies & Gents”. The cramped toilet ambiance was such a good fit for this noir thriller set in 1950s Dublin that the play’s the thing, for $25 a pop later this month.

Of course, they were aiming for toilet space in the first place:

The bureaucracy involved in getting permission to host a play in a toilet was another matter altogether. After the play’s success in European bathrooms — first as part of the Dublin Fringe Festival and later on a small tour of England and Scotland, where it won the Edinburgh Fringe First Award — Heller and the Irish Arts Center hoped to bring it to New York. Everyone underestimated the amount of red tape involved in renting public restrooms.

“It was a big toilet mess,” said Laoisa (pronounced LEE-SHA) Sexton, one of the show’s six actors who was dispatched to help with “the great New York loo hunt.”

Sexton quickly discovered what any frustrated tourist could have told her: “There really aren’t a lot of public toilets in New York City to choose from.”

Of the meager offerings, bathrooms at Grand Central Station and in Riverside Park were rejected for their small size and busy traffic. Then the loo hunters discovered the Bethesda Terrace bathrooms. It took over a year of back and forth with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, including a personal letter to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, to win approval.

With that much attention to detail, it’s just gotta be a winner.

If I can snag a ticket, I’m definitely going to catch a performance (plenty of dates are already sold out). The tricky part is, who to go with? Not every girl will swoon over the prospect of attending a theatrical performance in a stinky public bathroom. That’ll take some work, I guess.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 03/19/2008 10:58:47 PM
Category: Media, Creative, New Yorkin'
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From the start, the strategy behind iTunes has been to spurn the subscription model in favor of straight track/album sales. It’s made them the market leader in digital music, so you’d think it’s the right idea.

So why is Apple now allegedly contemplating unlimited access to the iTunes Store with every iPhone and iPod sold, to be covered in a sticker-price increase for the digital media devices?

Here’s the structure of the concept:

This latest concept is similar to Nokia’s “Comes With Music” program set to launch later this year. Nokia is reportedly rolling an $80 fee into the price of compatible phones for one year of access to Nokia’s music store, which includes music from labels like Universal.

Apple’s plan is different in several respects. Since the average iPod owner buys about 20 tracks from the iTunes, Apple wants to make the premium about $20, arguing that it should cover the average consumer’s downloads. Then the owner can make unlimited music downloads from the iTunes Store for the life of the device. Once downloaded, the tracks are yours to keep, even if you get rid of the original iPod or iPhone. And since iPod and phone owners tend to replace devices fairly regularly, the record labels would be getting the fee whether or not the consumer makes any further downloads. Silicon Alley Insider did the math and thinks it’s a good deal all around. But according to the Financial Times’ sources, the labels are looking for numbers closer to the $80 Nokia is reported to be paying.

Is this enough of an incentive to overcome the jacked-up price? Apple’s devices already sell at a premium compared to competitor gadgets, and while that hasn’t stopped the iPhone and iPod from becoming ubiquitous, how high can they go in price point before consumers decide to pass?

Plus, this plan sort of assumes that a new owner will need the unfettered iTunes access to start loading up their iPhone or iPod. In fact, most people probably already have at least a modest digital music/movie collection on their computers that they can immediately start transferring to their new toy. Or is an unlimited iTunes offer a subtle way of veering people away from P2P networks?

It’s not a necessity, but the thrust of the idea seems to be the use of an iPhone/wi-fi connected iPod as the primary conduit for obtaining music off iTunes — not the traditional computer-to-iPod route. That in itself indicates that Apple sees a major shift in how people are getting their music (perhaps backed up by solid data from their servers).

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 03/19/2008 10:21:27 PM
Category: Pop Culture, Tech
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Ailing even during healthy economic times, U.S. automakers are expecting to take an especially big hit in the sales charts during 2008 — one that cannot be expressed as a mere downward curve, but as something with more depth:

[Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli] describes the current downturn as “bathtub-shaped” as opposed to v-shaped, implying it will be of longer duration.

With Detroit eventually going down the drain, presumably. And a ring around the tub left behind, consisting of abandoned factories and long unemployment lines.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 03/19/2008 09:40:41 PM
Category: Business
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It’s the big-box retailer equivalent of unplanned pregnancy, and the end result is the biggest Wal-Mart in America at 260,000 square feet, located on the outskirts of Albany:

Real estate planners at the Bentonville, Ark.-based company - the world’s largest retailer with more than 4,100 stores in the United States and 3,100 more overseas - never set out to build their biggest store in New York’s Capital Region. In fact, the larger stores tend to be built in rural areas, [Wal-Mart spokesman Phil] Serghini said.

In the 1990s, Wal-Mart co-located a Sam’s Club - its members-only warehouse store - with a Wal-Mart department store in a dual-level shopping center, with the Sam’s Club on the lower floor.

The company closed the Sam’s Club in 2006 because of low membership and decided to use that space to turn the department store into a supercenter.

“It’s the largest one really only because of the situation involving the former Sam’s Club,” Serghini said. “But it is unique, and the customers are going to be very pleased with the layout.”

Finally, something of interest in the state capital. Maybe the steady stream of gubernatorial sex partners can catch up on their sundries shopping while they’re in town, after their visits with whoever’s currently in the Governor’s seat (or even before, to prep).

I’m disappointed the article doesn’t mention the current largest Wal-Mart title-holder. I could swear it’s a big ol’ SuperCenter location in Pinellas Park, Florida, by which I used to live; but it may just be the busiest/most profitable, not necessarily the biggest.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 03/19/2008 08:18:04 PM
Category: Florida Livin', Business, New Yorkin'
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