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‘Art on Paper’ at Pier 36 Held for the First Time Since March 2020



‘Art on Paper’ at Pier 36 Held for the First Time Since March 2020
Doug Meyer, Decoys, 2021. Powder pigments, watercolor, house paint, collage elements, resin, on paper, color transparent plexi glass
40 x 25 3/4″ aux gallery

The “Art on Paper New York” fair, held at Pier 36 downtown on 9-12 September, gathered over 100 international and US-based galleries for the first time since March 2020. Focusing on modern and contemporary paper-based art, the fair’s seventh edition showcased the diversity and resilience of the paper world following the pandemic hiatus.

Stunning live performances of traditional Mexican dance insufflated life and movement to the creations of American-born artist Nicolas V. Sanchez in his solo booth which notably showcased the mesmerizing, joyful artwork La mariposa en Jalisco. The painting depicts a muse and through her, the beauty and confidence of a female ballet folklórico dancer. It celebrates color, with the richness of the model’s vibrant lemon-gold dress, womanhood and Mexican heritage—both historical and personal. Art serves to document, preserve and cherish for Sanchez. His mother worked as a seamstress and we feel the intimacy of family, generous love and admiration in the artist’s influence and devotion to the hands that nourish. For Sanchez, whose work previously featured in solo and group exhibitions in the US, China, and Italy (2015 Venice Biennale), the pandemic was a time to help others in need. He painted smaller works to raise funds for COVID-19 and southern border relief initiatives and establish scholarships for young student artists. “I am essential?” he asked when we met at Pier36, in a nod to last year’s shutdown of so-called non-essential businesses which inflicted hardships to the creative community. 

Nostalgia permeated through several other installations such as Marion Fink’s She silently prepared for the inner evolution. Represented by C24 Gallery and completed this year, the dream-like print underscores the solitude of a young woman caught between the longing to fulfill parallel, unexplored aspirations and the complexity of engaging in an alienating reality. To reconnect with the memory of his grandfather, Irish photographer Bryan Glynn set out to capture the last moon of 2020 in a compilation of over 1,000 frames using a telescope. Printed on a luminescent paper, the moon projects a dimmed luminosity when in the darkness, recalling the alleviating closure of a difficult year and the uncertain hope of renewal.

While Glynn resurrects a muted night, the buoyant, loud pieces of Doug Meyer’s “Wyldlands” series turn to the future, to a mysterious year of 2036 in the reimagined community of Wyldlands. They summon to transcend the confines of the imagination and to embrace a dystopia where human and animalistic influences create a hybrid ecosystem for survival. The artist projects the far-ranging repercussions of the pandemic, through for instance, a decade-long period of confinement and the prevailing aesthetics of bunkers. Storytelling becomes an outlet to dialogue with fear and hopelessness. Questioning humanity, the neon realm of “Wyldlands” shows peculiar characters and scenes of an unsettling tomorrow with the presence of erotic symbols and accessories that mask and subdue, more than enhance or entice, desire.  

Loss defined the painful experience of countless people in the last 18 months. Peter Tunney’s Skull (Picasso on the Brain) completed this year adds a neo-pop touch of memento mori to an otherwise grim memory of epidemiological curves and daily count of casualties.

Established in 2020, the MOLLY+FRIENDS gallery features works of saturated escapism. To cope with the isolating effects of the pandemic, deaf Israeli artist Yossi Ben Abu channeled anguish in twelve visual and textured representations of hope inspired by Pantone vignettes, such as the black-to-crimson gradient Let’s dance or Pantone – The Moment which exposes dissonance through clashing colors, leaning from lime green to deep fuchsia. Also displayed is the aptly-named digital piece Nothing’s Forever from singer/songwriter Denitia and Colombian designer Eduardo Palma which builds on their earlier collaboration for Denitia’s Forever music video, released in April 2020. The multimedia artwork situated in a post-physical paper world offers an immersion of entrancing musicality in a visual journey of psychedelic, hypnotic alter-realities. 

1631714399 186 ‘Art on Paper at Pier 36 Held for the First
She silently prepared for the inner evolution by Marion Fink C24 Gallery

Samuelle Green’s Permutation 3 installation propelled paper to new heights and bendability as the medium conveys the illusion of minerals, corals or crystals in an imaginary cave or seabed. The artist repurposed used materials, reminding us that paper speaks to the pressing issue of recycling and sustainability to mitigate the catastrophe of excessive consumerism and resulting over-exploitation of natural resources. In Green’s sculpture, book pages are whimsically folded and superimposed, mimicking the organicity of honeycombed, alveolar patterns which together create a wall, a sanctuary, the softness of a retreat, perhaps even the insides of a creature. It’s an introvert’s shelter, a silent refuge silencing the sirens.

Echoes of the Black Lives Matter chants and police helicopters hovering above protests during summer of 2020 reverberated in West Chelsea Contemporary gallery’s display of Cey Adams’s American flags. The artist, who takes influence from the graffiti, hip-hop and pop culture scenes, engages on race, class and the ambivalence of American values. He created for Juneteenth two bipolar American flags —a white rendition above a black one. Their juxtaposition exposes contrast and separation; they live alongside each other rather than with each other. The pieces include collages of various consumerist, popular culture artifacts and references which led me to consider the flag as an extension of a USA brand. Beyond Juneteenth and the fight for a long-overdue racial equality, I also identified in them resonances of a post-9/11 fracture as we are yet to derive lessons from twenty years of continuous wars abroad fought in the name of the stars and stripes.

There is the timely then, but also the timeless—in the elegance of black ink, tradition and the consolation of a dark canvas. NYC and Tokyo-based Seizan gallery presented seven works of Toshiyuki Kajioka on Japanese paper, mounted on wood panels. The artist gives linguistic and creative depth and meaning to black, which is commonly considered to absorb all colors to reflect none. Using sumi ink and graphite pencil, Kajioka paints water-like surfaces. Under specific lighting arrangements, the paintings invite to meditate on grief, flow, liminal geographies encroaching upon our perceptions of limits and the necessity to conquer inner and outer white spaces.

It’s uplifting to see the art fair (superbly organized) returning, as a sign of the art scene slowly recovering from the pandemic—albeit regrettably on the tame side. To bear witness to and denounce the absurd, obscene and infuriating times and engage at large with the historical collective experience we continue to traverse, I craved occasionally for more provocative curatorial choices. Instead, one attempted to decipher subtle hints of such vivid emotions in themes, colors, and absences, zigzagging from booth to booth among the masked, vaccinated crowd in that new normalcy.

‘Art on Paper’ at Pier 36 Held for the First Time Since March 2020

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Gen. Mark Milley says calls to China were ‘perfectly’ within scope of job



Gen. Mark Milley says calls to China were ‘perfectly’ within scope of job

ATHENS, Greece — The top U.S. military officer said Friday that calls he made to his Chinese counterpart in the final stormy months of Donald Trump’s presidency were “perfectly within the duties and responsibilities” of his job.

In his first public comments on the conversations, Gen. Mark Milley said such calls are “routine” and were done “to reassure both allies and adversaries in this case in order to ensure strategic stability.” The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff spoke to The Associated Press and another reporter traveling with him to Europe.

Milley has been at the center of a firestorm amid reports he made two calls to Gen. Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army to assure him that the United States was not going to suddenly go to war with or attack China.

Descriptions of the calls made last October and in January were first aired in excerpts from the forthcoming book “Peril” by Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa. The book says Milley told Li that he would warn Li in the event of an attack.

Milley on Friday offered only a brief defense of his calls, saying he plans a deeper discussion about the matter for Congress when he testifies at a hearing later in September.

“I think it’s best that I reserve my comments on the record until I do that in front of the lawmakers who have the lawful responsibility to oversee the U.S. military,” Milley said. “I’ll go into any level of detail Congress wants to go into in a couple of weeks.”

Milley and U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin are scheduled to testify Sept. 28 before the Senate Armed Services Committee, in what initially was going to be a hearing on the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan and the chaotic evacuation of Americans, Afghans and others from that country.

Now, however, Milley is expected to face tough questioning on the telephone calls, which came during Trump’s turbulent last months in office as he challenged the results of the 2020 election. The second call, on Jan. 8, came two days after a violent mob attacked the U.S. Capitol in an effort to prevent Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s White House victory.

A special House committee that is investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol has asked for details about Milley’s calls. U.S. Reps. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., leaders of the committee, have also sought records related to the November election, the transfer of power from Trump to Biden and the riot.

Milley was appointed Joint Chiefs chairman by Trump in 2019 and has remained in that post in the Biden administration. As chairman, Milley is the top military adviser to the president and to the defense secretary.

The White House and the Pentagon chief have said they continue to have full trust and confidence in Milley.

The new book says Milley, fearful of Trump’s actions late in his term, twice called his Chinese counterpart to assure him that the U.S. was not going to attack China. One call took place on Oct. 30, four days before the American election. The second call was on Jan. 8, less than two weeks before Biden’s inauguration and two days after the insurrection at the Capitol by supporters of Trump.

Some U.S. lawmakers have said Milley overstepped his authority, and they have called for Biden to fire him. Trump blasted Milley as treasonous, called him “a complete nutjob” and said Milley “never told me about calls being made to China.”

Biden told reporters after the disclosures in the book that “I have great confidence in Gen. Milley.”

Milley’s office, in a statement this week, said the calls were intended to convey “reassurance” to the Chinese military and were in line with his responsibilities as Joint Chiefs chairman.

The statement from Milley spokesman Col. Dave Butler also said that the calls were “staffed, coordinated and communicated” with the Pentagon and other federal agencies.

According to the book, which the AP obtained, Milley assured his Chinese counterpart in the first call that “the American government is stable and everything is going to be okay.” It said he told Li, “We are not going to attack or conduct any kinetic operations against you.”

“If we’re going to attack, I’m going to call you ahead of time. It’s not going to be a surprise,” Milley reportedly said.

Milley spoke with a number of other military leaders around the world after the Jan. 6 riot; they included leaders from the United Kingdom, Russia and Pakistan. A description of those calls in January referred to “several” other counterparts that Milley spoke to with similar messages of reassurance that the U.S. government was strong and in control.

The second call was meant to placate Chinese fears about the events of Jan. 6. But the book reports that Li wasn’t as easily assuaged, even after Milley promised him: “We are 100 percent steady. Everything’s fine. But democracy can be sloppy sometimes.”

In response to the book, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., urged Biden to fire Milley, saying the general worked to “actively undermine” the American commander in chief, Trump.

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Carthage man arrested on rape charges



Carthage man arrested on rape charges

CARTHAGE, N.Y. (NEWS10) – On Tuesday, September 14, State Police arrested 29-year-old Tyler Henson, of Carthage, accused of having sexual intercourse with a female under the age of 17, in the town of Pamelia.

Henson was charged with three counts of third-degree Rape, and two counts of third-degree Criminal Sex Act both felonies.

Henson was arraigned in the city of Watertown Court and was released on his own recognizance.

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Broe looks to replace Cherry Creek office building with residential project



Broe looks to replace Cherry Creek office building with residential project

Broe Real Estate Group recently broke ground on a new office building in Cherry Creek.

Now, it’s looking to potentially demolish an existing one about half a mile away and build a residential project in its place.

The firm, a division of Denver-based The Broe Group, has asked the city to rezone its 50 S. Steele St. property, a 1.4-acre site across from the eastern end of the Cherry Creek Shopping Center.

The property is home to a 10-story office building built in 1973, as well as a sizable parking lot. But Broe is asking the city to increase the zoning to C-MX-12, which allows structures up to 12 stories.

“The applicant is requesting to rezone the property to facilitate mixed use redevelopment of the site, and their tentative plan is to build a mixed-use building with ground floor retail and residential units above,” documents prepared by city staff state.

Denver’s Planning Board recommended approval of the request on Wednesday afternoon, with all seven members present voting in favor. The matter now goes to the City Council.

Broe has owned the 50 S. Steele St. property since at least the 1990s, according to property records.

The building is topped with signage for Keller Williams Integrity Real Estate and law firm Riggs Abney. Other tenants include Nova Home Loans and SonderCenters.

In its rezoning application, the company said it began talking to the surrounding community about the possible change in 2019 and 2020, then resumed those efforts this year “after a brief pandemic-related hiatus.”

“Enhancements to the surrounding streetscape and pedestrian network are just a few notable examples of stakeholder-driven feedback to strengthen the development’s impact (on) the fabric of the neighborhood,” the company wrote.

The application notes that several nearby structures are 12 stories or more. But the property immediately to the north is zoned for just five stories.

Developers in Denver are not currently required to incorporate income-restricted units in new housing projects, although that will likely change soon. But Broe has agreed to voluntarily restrict 12.5 percent of units in a new residential project at the site to those making up to 80 percent of the area median income, according to documents prepared by city staff.

Thomas Gounley, BusinessDen

The building is topped with signage for Keller Williams Integrity Real Estate and law firm Riggs Abney.

Broe is planning about a 480-unit project, according to the documents, meaning there would be about 60 income-restricted units. Development plans for the project have not yet been submitted to the city for review.

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Editorial: Haiti learns hard way not to trust Biden



Editorial: Haiti learns hard way not to trust Biden

With a friend like Joe Biden, who needs natural disasters?

On Aug. 14, a 7.2 earthquake hit the island nation of Haiti. At least 2,189 people were killed and 12,000 injured. Tens of thousands of homes were destroyed. It was followed by a tropical storm, and preceded by the assassination of its prime minister. A month later, the need for clean water, food and shelter continues.

On Wednesday, the Biden administration deported 86 Haitian nationals from the U.S. back to their native country, despite the multiple disasters that await.

Say it ain’t so, Joe.

Wasn’t Donald Trump supposed to  be the heartless one?

Human rights advocates are outraged, The Hill reported.

“That ICE would continue to carry out the mass deportations of our Haitian neighbors — with Haiti in the midst of its worst political, public health and economic crises yet — is cruel and callous,” said Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.).

When the earthquake hit, Biden made a statement: the U.S. had Haiti’s back.

“The United States remains a close and enduring friend to the people of Haiti, and we will be there in the aftermath of this tragedy,” he said in part.

And by “there” he meant “over here,” sending any of you who make it “here” back over “there.”

Biden has Haiti’s back the same way he had Afghanistan’s.

“Just one month after this devastating earthquake and storm that resulted in the deaths of over 2,200 Haitians, injured 12,000 people, damaged or destroyed 120,000 homes and displaced hundreds of thousands of people, the administration sent a plane full of families to Haiti under Title 42, including children under the age of 3, without offering them legal protection and the opportunity to file for asylum,” said Guerline Jozef, co-founder and executive director of the Haitian Bridge Alliance.

Migrants expelled under Title 42 are repatriated to their home countries without the possibility of requesting asylum under Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Defenders of Haitian migrants are particularly enraged about the Biden administration’s decision to repatriate Haitians, as the Department of Homeland Security recently designated Haiti for Temporary Protected Status, a program that suspends deportations to countries that have been hit by natural or manmade disasters.

A devastating 7.2 earthquake would certainly qualify. Lack of clean water, shelter, food would also tick the boxes.

“The news of renewed Haitian deportation flights is the type of morally indefensible news we would have expected from the Trump administration, not the Biden administration. Given the instability and suffering on the ground in Haiti, the last thing we should be doing is deporting Haitians. These deportation flights should stop, full stop,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice.

For a man who cleared his schedule to slam Trump as often as he could, that comparison must sting.

After an earthquake nearly leveled Haiti in 2010, Barack Obama’s administration halted deportations to Haiti for more than a year.

It was the decent thing to do. It was the right thing to do.

“The Biden administration has a moral obligation to lead with compassion and support those fleeing from the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Haiti,” Pressley said.

It’s stunning that the president needs to be reminded what this country stands for.

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Pioneer Press Big Ten football picks: Week 3



Pioneer Press Big Ten football picks: Week 3

Gophers beat reporter Andy Greder picks this week’s games:



The Illini will follow a season-opening win against Nebraska with three consecutive losses. That was a short honeymoon for Bret Bielema. Maryland, 29-20



The preseason darling Hoosiers were destroyed by Iowa in the opener, and their blowout win over FCS Idaho means little because the Bearcats will do what the Hawkeyes did. Cincinnati, 35-17 


When Jim Harbaugh’s quotes include George Patton and Neil Armstrong, you know the quirky ol’ ball coach is feeling pretty good about his team. Michigan, 40-10

MICHIGAN STATE AT NO. 24 Miami (Fla.), 11 a.m., ABC

The Spartans have had the lead longer in two games this season than they did in seven in 2020. They might add to that stat in this one, but they won’t leave with a win. Miami, 28-24


The Cornhuskers reportedly tried to get out of rekindling their lost rivalry with Oklahoma. After this blowout, they will regret that not happening. Oklahoma, 42-18


Thousands of Minnesota fans will make the trip to Boulder for this rare matchup. The team will make it entertaining, and won’t spoil the visit. Gophers, 24-21


College football is weird. Example 12,472: Notre Dame won’t allow the Boilermakers to bring their 10-foot tall, 565-pound drum into its stadium’s main tunnel, so Purdue will have to go without the “World’s Largest Drum.” Notre Dame, 38-24

KENT STATE AT No. 5 IOWA, 2:30 p.m., BTN

The Big Ten West — and maybe the Big Ten Conference — runs through Iowa City after the Hawkeyes’ defense smothered two ranked teams to start the season. Iowa, 28-3

TULSA AT No. 9 OHIO STATE, 2:30 p.m., FS1

Oregon said they wanted to run the ball just like the Gophers did against Ohio State. Then the Ducks had even more success, and Buckeyes coach Ryan Day wouldn’t solo tackle the status of Key Coombs as defensive coordinator. Ohio State, 40-20


Given the thrilling nature of this matchup, this is a perfect place to share that we went 13-1 in Big Ten picks in Week 2. Thanks a lot, Ohio State. Rutgers, 24-9


The Wall Street Journal reported Oregon State-Purdue was the least-watched FOX game on Sept. 4, showing the new alliance’s scheduling won’t benefit everyone. Northwestern, 21-17

NO. 22 AUBURN at NO. 10 PENN STATE, 6:30 p.m. ABC

Auburn hasn’t played a road Big Ten game in nine decades and their first one is a “White Out” game at Happy Valley. Good luck with all that. Penn State, 31-23

Our picks: 20-3

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As case counts rise, Vermont adds staff for contact tracing



As case counts rise, Vermont adds staff for contact tracing

Posted: Updated:

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Vermont is boosting staff for contract tracing amid a recent rise in COVID-19 cases, state officials said.

The state had hired a contractor in the spring to allow some state workers who had been doing contract tracing to return to their jobs, said Human Services Secretary Mike Smith during the governor’s weekly virus briefing on Tuesday.

“The contract calls for them to increase their workforce as COVID-positive case counts rise. Recently, they failed to do that sufficiently leaving the state to fill the gap,” he said.

In response, as of Tuesday, the state has increased its staffing to 104 full-time equivalent employees doing contract tracing and other related duties, including reaching out to close contacts and to businesses and schools, Smith said.

“We will continue to add state workers, our National Guard service members, and additional contracted employees as needed,” he said. Vermonters who want to be tested for COVID-19 are urged to again make appointments rather than walk into a test site, as the state investigates reports of delays in receiving results amid a recent surge in cases, officials said.

“Now we are transitioning back to appointments because just showing up in a higher demand environment causes people to wait,” said Smith.

Testing reservations can be made on the Health Department and pharmacy websites. The state is also working to expand weekly surveillance testing in schools, Smith said.

“Many school districts expressed an interest in participating in this new program,” he said. By the end of September more than 101 schools, representing more than 37% of school districts, will have testing programs and 50 more schools are expected to start operating testing programs by mid-October, he said.

Vermont reported 139 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, for a statewide total since the pandemic began of over 30,580. One death was reported, bringing the total to 291. Three deaths were reported on Tuesday.

A total of 39 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, including ten who were in intensive care, the Vermont Health Department reported Wednesday. The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Vermont has risen over the past two weeks from 137.57 on Aug. 30 to 150.14 on Sept. 13.

The Associated Press is using data collected by Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering to measure outbreak caseloads and deaths across the U.S.

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More Colorado concerts canceled, postponed as frustrated ticket-holders get $3 million refund



More Colorado concerts canceled, postponed as frustrated ticket-holders get $3 million refund

Head-spinning, COVID-related concert news continued this week as touring artists shelved local shows due to health concerns, even as promoters continued selling tickets to dozens of newly announced, metro-area events.

The mixed messages from the music industry follow increasingly tight COVID rules at music and sports venues, including the largest ones booked by corporate promoters AEG Presents Rocky Mountains and Live Nation. All concerts at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Mission Ballroom, the Fillmore Auditorium and most other large venues now require concertgoers to be masked and provide proof of vaccination.

A few touring artists have brought even more measures to bear, in some cases canceling shows at venues that can’t or won’t accommodate their stricter rules. That includes Canadian crooner Michael Buble’s cancellation this week of a Sept. 20 show in Austin, Texas.

But there was good news, too: On Tuesday, Attorney General Phil Weiser announced that 8,688 Colorado ticket-holders who had been on the hook with San Francisco-based ticket reseller Stubhub will receive refunds totaling $3,120,442, or about $359 per ticket-holder.

The refunds apply to people who bought tickets under the company’s pre-pandemic refund policy for events that were canceled due to COVID-19, investigators said. Instead of honoring its “FanProtect Guarantee” — that the purchase price and fees for all shows would be refunded if the events were canceled — Stubhub stiffed its customers starting in March 2020.

The company instead said that ticket-holders would receive account credits equal to 120% of their purchases, to be used for future events, while denying them their money.

“Consumers should not be out of their money when a service they paid for was never provided,” Weiser said in a press statement. “My office is committed to protecting consumers, and we will continue to take action to ensure that consumers, like those of Stubhub, receive the refunds they are owed.”

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Matt Damon Found a Buyer for His $17.9 Million Pacific Palisades Mansion



Matt Damon Found a Buyer for His $17.9 Million Pacific Palisades Mansion
Matt Damon is parting ways with his Pacific Palisades mansion.

Just over a month after Matt Damon lowered the price of his Pacific Palisades mansion down to $17.9 million, the actor has found a buyer for the home. Damon and his wife, Luciana Barroso, first listed the palatial 13,508-square-foot abode for a hefty $21 million in January 2021, but didn’t manage to net any major interest from potential buyers.

The over $3 million discount seems to have done the trick, as Damon and Barroso have accepted an offer on the Los Angeles estate, as first spotted by the New York Post.

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1631891187 598 Matt Damon Found a Buyer for His 179 Million Pacific
The sprawling home spans 13,508 square feet.

Even though Damon had to lower his expectations a tad, if he scores the entire ask, he’s still netting a profit from the $15 million he paid for the California property back in 2012.

An atrium with 35-foot mahogany ceilings leads into the airy, Zen-inspired home, per the listing held by The Agency broker Eric Haskell. There’s an open living room with a stone fireplace, as well as a dining room with a wall of glass.

The sleek kitchen is equipped with dark wood cabinetry, stainless steel appliances, marble countertops and a center island, and is open to a family room that, in turn, leads to the backyard via sliding glass doors.

1631891187 341 Matt Damon Found a Buyer for His 179 Million Pacific
There’s wine storage and a tasting room. Courtesy Alexis Adams/The Agency

Elsewhere in the home, there’s a game room, office, bar and movie theater, as well as a wine cellar (complete with a private tasting room) on the lower level.

The owner’s suite is outfitted with two dressing rooms complete with wood built-ins, in addition to a bathroom with a soaking tub and separate glass-enclosed shower.

Outside, there’s a pool and a spa, a waterfall and a very crucial koi pond, as well as various lounging and entertaining spaces, including a covered lanai for an al fresco dining situation.

1631891187 91 Matt Damon Found a Buyer for His 179 Million Pacific
The atrium features 35-foot mahogany ceilings. Courtesy Alexis Adams/The Agency

Damon and Barroso decided to sell their Pacific Palisades home of nearly 10 years because they’re just not spending that much time on the West Coast anymore; they relocated to New York with their four children earlier this year, as the couple finally moved into their massive penthouse in Brooklyn Heights, for which they paid a reported $16.75 million in 2018.

Matt Damon Found a Buyer for His $17.9 Million Pacific Palisades Mansion

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‘My heart bled for them’: Director Justin Chon’s ‘Blue Bayou’ aims to change the fate of American adoptees facing deportation



blue bayou justin chon adoptees deportation

In a shotgun home in the Louisiana bayou, a Korean adoptee’s small-town world is rocked when he finds out that in the 30 years he’s lived in America, he is not considered a citizen and is at risk of deportation.

Justin Chon, the writer, director and star behind “Blue Bayou” plays the character Antonio LeBlanc, a financially struggling New Orleans-based tattoo artist who was adopted from South Korea when he was 3. The film peers into the lives of Antonio and his pregnant wife Kathy, played by Alicia Vikander, as parents of Kathy’s young daughter from a previous marriage.

The first scene opens with Antonio in a job interview that feels more like an interrogation as the disembodied voice of a motorcycle shop owner poses a familiar and microaggressive question, “Where are you from?” and then immediately presses with “What did you steal?”

Antonio is a flawed character and Chon intended for him to be that way. “I wanted to tell a story of a real person, not a perfect individual,” he told Vanity Fair. “This film represents what America feels like and looks like.”

The character sports a small rap sheet of two felonies for stealing motorcycles in his youth. He’s since moved past that and wants to continue living a quiet life with his family, but his story gets muddied after a racist encounter is escalated and immigration services are brought in. The couple are then left to deal with the titanic revelation of his possible deportation to South Korea.

It’s a devastating reality for adoptees brought to the U.S. and who’ve only ever known life in it. 

Chon spent over five years researching, reading articles and listening to stories from Korean American adoptee friends about the underbelly of a flawed and crushingly rigid adoption and foster care system that stranded thousands of adoptees without many options.

Between loopholes and faulty, incomplete paperwork from their adoptive parents, “these people, now adults, would find out that they were never officially U.S. citizens,” Chon told NextShark.

Specifically for Korean adoptees, the Korean War orphaned and separated around 2 million children from their families. In 1953, Congress passed the Refugee Relief Act, which would enable thousands of Korean adoptees to immigrate to the U.S. under visas. Two years later, it was when evangelical Christians Harry and Bertha Holt adopted eight Korean War orphans, and later facilitated the process for others through the Holt International adoption agency, that more Americans were racing to adopt these displaced children.

Treated like a hot commodity and like they were in desperate need of “saving,” the number of adoptions from Korea continued to grow until more than 160,000 Korean children were adopted into Western homes in the years following the war and required a lengthy naturalization process, NPR reported.

In 2000, a sliver of hope was given to children from other countries who were under 18. Congress passed the Child Citizenship Act that protected them and gave them automatic citizenship, according to NBC Washington. But this left out the adoptees who were brought over during the ‘70s and ‘80s and had already built established lives at the age of 40 or 50. They would be doomed to starting over and going back to a “motherland” they have nothing but birth ties to.

“I was absolutely appalled,” Chon said. “My heart bled for them and figured that people needed to know.”

“Listen to him, look at him, he’s American,” Kathy says in an impassioned plea to an immigration lawyer in one of the film’s released clips. Her husband speaks with a Southern drawl, has a large eagle tattoo defiantly emblazoned across his neck and is the father of two children. Yet the titanic revelation of a looming deportation to South Korea begs the elusive question: “Who gets to decide who is American?” and “What does it mean to be American?”

Chon wants the viewer to empathize with these characters, with the Asian community who are made to feel like perpetual foreigners despite their birth status and with these adoptees who represent an overlooked part of America. He said the film “represents the idea of who we choose as our families.”

It’s also part of the reason why he got attached to the script, wound up playing Antonio and cast actors who weren’t American. He wanted them to study what it meant to be one, to define it for themselves, and to “make more intentional choices” in their acting, he told Dig IN Magazine. Vikander, who is from Sweden, took extra steps to submerge herself into it—thinking of every detail, down to her hair and the scrubs she wears as a physical therapist in the film.

(Exclusive clip courtesy of Focus Features)

“As the country continues to grow and evolve I think it’s important to look at ourselves and become more tolerant of one another,” he said. “It’s the reason I placed the film in the South. It’s not a red or blue issue but rather a film that hopefully sparks honest conversations.”

As a filmmaker, he opts to use his creative strengths in storytelling to change this bleak narrative. By empathizing with Antonio’s story, he hopes to bring enough awareness to have it shared and eventually reach the eyes of a legislator, while also serving as a warning to the large number of Asian American adoptees who aren’t aware that they are undocumented.

“If the right people see it, the right people share it, maybe the right person picks it up and there can be some legislation change, and someone who is going through this can stay and someone who has been deported can come back,” he said.

He also believes that the community needs to take more creative liberties and “branch out of just our own Asian ethnicities and tell each other’s stories respectfully” to build more unity and cohesion.

“I feel like the conversation a lot of the time focuses on Koreans, Japanese and Chinese people. We need to use our platforms for our Southeast Asian counterparts as well. It’s the reason that my next film will focus on Indonesian characters,” Chon said, referring to the one he finished filming with musician Rich Brian a few days ago and features an Indonesian father and son.

His biggest goal for his films is for people to “think about the characters one more time” as they lay in bed—that’s when he considers it a success.

“Blue Bayou” will debut in theaters on Sept. 17.

Featured Image via Focus Features (left, right)
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Caine & Plaza chemistry make ‘Best Sellers’ a must-watch



Caine & Plaza chemistry make ‘Best Sellers’ a must-watch



Not rated. On VOD.

Grade: A-

Can anyone have anticipated a scenario in which Michael Caine and Aubrey Plaza play a variation of “The Odd Couple”? In the small, gem-like, screwball comedy “Best Sellers,” Plaza plays Lucy Stanbridge, a young, rich, well-educated woman who inherits a venerable New York publishing house from her father. The house is in trouble and on the verge of being sold off at a loss to former executive Jack Sinclair (Scott Speedman), who was once romantically involved with Lucy, although things have chilled down.

Aubrey Plaza in ‘Best Sellers.’

Lucy and her wryly funny assistant Rachel Spence (an indispensable Ellen Wong) are desperate to find a best seller to publish to save the company. The only candidate they come up with is Harris Shaw (Michael Caine), who hasn’t published a book in 50 years. But his first and only effort, “Atomic Autumn,” which Lucy’s father supposedly carefully edited, was a smash hit, and an old contract confirms that Harris owes them a book. The set-up is simple, elegant and full of potential.

Directed by first-time feature filmmaker and actor Lina Roessler, “Best Sellers” has the nerve to open to the sound of someone pounding on a typewriter, something some people in the audience might not recognize. Harris, an old, angry geezer and widower, picks up a ringing phone and spews the words, “He’s dead; bugger off,” into it and hangs up. We see him type the words THE END at the bottom of a page. We learn something of Harris’s background. He was “thrown out of Ireland” and lives in Westchester, N.Y. (the film was shot in Quebec). He’s a “drunk, a recluse and a madman.” His house faces imminent foreclosure.

Thus, he is persuaded by Lucy to go on a book tour to promote “The Future is X-Rated,” his newest effort, a bleak, “Children of Men”-type, extinction-level work of dystopiana. But instead of reading from the book, Shaw, who shares his name with a certain Anglo-Irish playwright and polemicist, scandalously reads a missive from the letter section of a 1977 issue of Penthouse Magazine. Harris catchphrase “It’s all bullshite” is trending. Twitter loves the curmudgeon.

Lucy, who has to learn to drive Shaw’s oddly reliable, right-hand drive vintage Jaguar, goes on the road, touring dive bars with the old man, who sits in the back of the Jag, smoking cigars and dozing. It’s clear that as much as she disapproves of Shaw’s outrageous behavior, Lucy grows increasingly fond of him.

Caine, 88, has a blast acting like the most scandalous member of the Sex Pistols. Plaza, a gifted comic actor with a razor-sharp. sarcastic screen presence, has not had this sort of chemistry with a male colleague, maybe ever. For his part, Caine does very little outside of talking to his beloved dead wife, to make Shaw likable.

Actor-screenwriter Anthony Grieco sticks to the rules of the traditional screwball comedy. But instead of a romance, he gives us a surrogate father-daughter bond. Shaw rubs off on Lucy, and she becomes more and more like the old man, chanting, “It’s all bullshite,” with the hipsters at the bars, enjoying long swigs of neat Johnnie Walker Black Label and smoking the old man’s cigars. Later, she will quote his favorite lines from “The Great Gatsby.” Apparently, these two were meant for each other. But their “romance” has little future.

That’s the Kinks performing “Last of the Steam-Powered Trains” over the final credits, a suitable send-off for this very pleasant surprise.

(“Best Sellers” contains profanity, drunkenness and a scene in which someone pees on a burning book.)

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