Pink Thing Of The Day: Minnie Mouse Pink Toy Phone

Minnie Mouse Pink Toy Phone
Photos By Gail

Isn’t it charming that certain toy manufacturers would design a Pink Toy Telephone that’s so retro, there’s 100% certainty that no child using this toy has ever actually seen (let alone used) a phone that looks like this. What a way to teach the history of telephone communications!

Manufactured by Just Play, here’s the lowdown on this vintage-inspired phone:

Minnie and Daisy (Duck, I assume) are always on call to help one and all with Minnie’s Happy Helpers Phone. This pink vintage-inspired phone looks just like the one Minnie Mouse uses in Disney Junior’s Minnie’s Happy Helpers! Featuring adorable Minnie phrases, realistic telephone sounds and fun light up effects, your little one will love recreating her favorite scenes from the show! Minnie’s Happy Helpers are here for you!

Sounds rad!

Minnie Mouse Pink Toy Phone

Spotted at Target (Price $14.99) on 14th Street and First Ave in the East Village, Manhattan. 

Play Review: With a Little Help . . . It’s John Belushi at Theatre 80

John Belushi Play Card
Photos By Gail, Except Where Noted

To many, comedian and actor John Belushi still feels like a contemporary artist — owing to the tenacity with which his work has embedded itself in pop culture — but the fact is that Belushi has been dead for a long time. A friend who accompanied me to the opening-night performance of a new play entitled With a Little Help . . . It’s John Belushi wasn’t quite two years old in March of 1982, when the hard-partying performer died of an accidental drug overdose in a Hollywood hotel room. But while she wasn’t even born yet when John Belushi broke comedic ground during the first incarnation of Saturday Night Live, and probably didn’t see Animal House until it had been in the can for 20 years, my friend has a conversational knowledge of all his best bits. That’s what it means to be a legend.

John In Nativity Scene
Jack Zullo (Far Right) as John Belushi in a Scene from With A Little Help . . . (Photo By K. Bentley)

The story behind The Rise and Fall of John Belushi is seriously overdue for a stage or screen adaptation, and playwright/actor Jack Zullo — who fully embodies Belushi’s manic energy and uncompromising spirit in the title role — admits that it’s been over thirteen years since he was first inspired to work on John Belushi as a character study, and immersed himself in the comedian’s material. What started out as a spec feature film script evolved into this current stage production of With A Little Help . . . It’s John Belushi, which was previously honed through multiple West Coast performances. With a goal of finding a place in the NYC theater scene, Zullo aspires to reverse-engineer the play back into a feature-length script to tell the story of John’s life in narrative form; something that has been attempted by many, but not successfully executed.

With a Little Help opens quietly on a scene in the bungalow at the Chateau Marmont where John Belushi spent his final moments of life, having just fatally overdosed on a combination of heroin and cocaine. As he collapses on a mattress and takes his last breath, a chorus of disembodied voices ring out in the theater, admonishing the reckless thirty-three-year-old for being such a “dumb sonofabitch.” But the tragic tone quickly segues into a high-energy flashback of John, accompanied by his girlfriend Judy and best friend Steve, on a night in 1967 when he attended his first comedy show at Chicago’s The Second City club. John is visibly bursting with creative inspiration as he declares that he has found his life’s calling and intends to pursue a career in comedy.

From there, we follow John Belushi’s rise to prominence as an iconic American entertainer; working his way up from an indie college performer in 1968, to Manhattan in the mid-1970s, where he was part of the infamous National Lampoon Magazine and its Radio Hour, all the way through his four-year stint as one of the Not Ready For Prime Time Players on Saturday Night Live.

The story of Belushi’s quick ascent to pop culture success shines the spotlight on his struggles to maintain control on the excesses afforded a budding star, counterbalanced with his desire to always be ahead of the curve by keeping the work fresh and exciting, and setting trends rather than following them. With a Little Help effectively revisits a time in American TV when the field of comedy was a Wild West for creative invention. John Belushi’s career was a wild ride while it lasted, but it’s not like we don’t already know how the journey ends.

Ticket Stub

With a Little Help takes its title from the now-legendary Saturday Night Live skit in which Belushi gives an over-the-top impersonation of British singer Joe Cocker’s eccentrically-mannered performance of The Beatles’ “With a Little Help From My Friends.” This skit is recreated in the play, as are musical numbers made famous by The Blues BrothersBelushi’s band with Dan Aykroyd. The production features the terrific Crazy Tomes Band, who provide a live soundtrack, accompanying the many musical numbers in the show, and playing a set of covers before the play starts.

In addition to the great live music, With a Little Help truly becomes a multi-media production, as it incorporates both newly-produced and archival film and video clips, which further the action in ways that would otherwise be impossible, such as when John and friends experience an LSD trip, or when SNL cast members indulge in drug binges that history tells us were common on that set.

The play’s supporting cast of characters includes John Belushi’s devoted wife Judy Jacklin (Jennifer Lieberman, who also appears as Gilda Radner), as well as a who’s who of the comedian ‘friends’ who supported, collaborated with, and cajoled Belushi on his path to fame, such as the National Lampoon’s Tony Hendra (Len Rella), Christopher Guest (Benjamin Batchelder), Brian Murray (Artie Brennan, who also play’s Belushi’s close friend Steve Beshekas), Joe Flaherty (Nicolas Dipierro, who also  appears as Lorne Michaels) and Dan Aykroyd, portrayed brilliantly by Keith Saltojanes. All the actors are excellent in their handling of multiple roles, but Jack Zullo as Belushi is so spot-on in his timing and physical comedy, I forgot multiple times that I was watching an actor and not Belushi himself.

John Belushi did not get to live a long life. It’s tragic that his comedic legacy also includes the bleak Hollywood cliche of self-destructive behavior, but With a Little Help . . . It’s John Belushi is less a cautionary tale and more a celebration of and homage to a phenomenally talented individual whose body of work has been, and will continue to be, endlessly influential. Funny, smart, and deeply nostalgia-inducing, With a Little Help . . . It’s John Belushi is a story whose time is now.

Directed by Levy Lee Simon With a Little Help . . . It’s John Belushi runs through December 22nd only at Theatre 80, located at 80 St. Marks Place, in NYC’s East Village. Tickets are super affordable at just $30 — $40 and are available via With a Little Help Show Dot Com. Showtimes are Thursdays at 7 PM, Fridays & Saturdays at 7 PM and 10 PM, and Sunday Matinees at 3 PM. A portion of ticket sales from the Theatre 80 run will be donated to The Comedians Assistance Fund and Gilda’s Club charities.

Watch The Trailer Below:

Eye On Design: Display Cabinet By Louis-Desiré-Eugène Gaillard

Gaillard Display Cabinet
All Photos By Gail

Like the side chair designed by Hector Guimard, seen just to the left of this cabinet in the bottom photo of this post, Louis-Desiré-Eugène Gaillard’s Display Cabinet (1900) incorporates bold, animated, plant-like forms in its decoration. Gaillard exhibited similar furniture at the 1900 World’s Fair in Paris, also known as the Exposition Universalle, which helped popularize architecture and domestic objects with fluid lines and whiplash curves.

Gaillard Display Cabinet
Cabinet Design Detail

This cabinet was part of a larger set of dining room furniture that would have been marketed to both middle and upper-middle class consumers. A key idea of design reform at the turn of the 19th century was that well-designed objects should not be reserved only for the wealthy.

Gaillard Display Cabinet

Photographed in the Art Institute, Chicago.

Peace Sign Fall Leaf Wreath

Peace Sign Fall Leaf Wreath
Photo By Gail

With the short span of time this year between celebrating Thanksgiving and the arrival of Christmas, it’s easy to forget that it’s still technically fall in NYC. That said, by Black Friday afternoon, fall decor was in a losing battle with Christmas decorations that started appearing on the streets and in storefronts shortly after Halloween. Crazy.

I doubt that this lovely autumn leaf wreath is made from actual leaves (it’s likely silk or some other fabric), but dang if it didn’t make me stop in my tracks and appreciate the beauty of nature when I saw it adorning the face of a Brownstone in Chelsea. And what a nice sentiment as well: Peace. Here’s the full shot below. Breathtaking.

Peace Sign Wreath Full

Spotted on 22nd Street Between 7th and 8th Avenues in Manhattan.

Modern Art Monday Presents: The Earth Is A Man By Roberto Matta

The Earth Is A Man
Photo By Gail

Originally trained as an architect, Roberto Matta settled in France in 1933, where he worked with Le Corbusier. During a visit to Spain in 1934, he befriended the poet Federico Garcia Lorca, who was assassinated two years later by agents of the Fascist leader, Francisco Franco. In a tribute to his friend,  Matta composed a screenplay called The Earth Is A Man, and the text’s apocalyptic imagery, rapidly shifting perspectives, and emotional language became the principal source of his artistic work over the next five years.

This large canvas is the culmination of Matta’s project. Exhibited shorty after its completion (in 1942) in New York City, where the artist had immigrated at the onset on World War II, the painting’s abstract and visionary qualities influenced a new generation of artists, who would later become known as the Abstract Expressionists.

Photographed in the Art Institute, Chicago.

Pink Thing of The Day: Hello Kitty Pink Hot Chocolate

Hello Kitty Pink Hot Chocolate
Photos By Gail

Yes, it Exists: Hello Kitty Pink Hot Chocolate (just add hot water!) is a thing that you can buy! With 100% positive on-line reviews from what you know are satisfied customers, the ‘delicious’ taste is described as “like a rich hot cocoa with a subtle hint of coconut.” Sounds yummy to me! Each 1.25 once envelope sells individually for just $1.99, so there no big commitment involved if it ends up not being your thing. But seriously, how can you not love Pink Hot Chocolate?

Available froth Hello Kitty Pop Up at Cost Plus World Market. Visit This Link or a participating Cost Plus World Market near you (through January 2020) to purchase!

Hello Kitty Pink Hot Chocolate

Yes, It Exists: Keith Haring-Inspired CBD Dog Treats

Keith Haring CBD Dog Treats
Photo By Gail

A couple of weeks ago I attended a fun launch party for the Haring Glass collection; an officially-licensed line of smoking and lifestyle accessories bearing artwork by the late Keith Haring. Everyone left the festivities with a gift bag that included a few branded items from the collection, a T-Shirt, and this bag of CBD-infused dog treats, or Edibites, whose packaging features Haring’s iconic image of a Barking Dog. Apparently these taste like Pizza, for when you want to share a slice with that special dog in your life.

Find out more about Edibites by Pet.Releaf, and buy them online for your pet, at This Link!

Eye On Design: Cozy Chair By Hannes Grebin

Cozy Chair Installation View
Cozy Chair Installation View in the Todd Merrill Studio Booth at The Salon New York (All Photos By Gail)

An annual favorite NYC design event is now behind us for the year, but you can bet I’ll be featuring many of the most spectacular pieces of art furniture from The Salon Art + Design in these pages in the coming weeks. Let’s kick off with a unique chair from Berlin-based, Bauhaus educated, multi-disciplinary designer Hannes Grebin, who has created upholstered seating inspired by questioning traditional domestic decor. Applying the principals of Cubism to design, Grebin masterfully deconstructs the traditional shapes and detailing of a ‘Dad’s Chair’ into simplified geometric shapes and interlocking planes. Presenting The Cozy Chair!

Cozy Chair By Hannes Grebin

Grebin describes the chair as a ‘living sculpture,’ which puts the traditional views about comfort and taste into question. The Cozy Chair is a wing-back style that dates back centuries, but has here been re-analyzed, broken down and reassembled into something quite new and different.

Cozy Chair By Hannes Grebin

It is both fractured and asymmetric, but perfectly meets the demands of ergonomics. Angular and yet cozy, sculptural and yet functional, Grebin has struck a unique balance that makes The Cozy Chair an alluring work of design. The faceted planes meet elegantly giving the chair changing perspectives with each glance. His design is both a deconstruction and commentary on the mechanization of modern life.

Cozy Chair By Hannes Grebin

Working with a master upholster in Berlin, the resulting seating is hand-crafted with the highest possible level of materials and workmanship. Grebin, the son of two architects notes, “Ultimately, I didn’t want to make just furniture. It was much more important for me that although all objects function, the design objects should become objects for discussion, in order to lead the theoretical design discourse to new ways and approaches.”

Available by commission from the designer; visit Todd Merrill Studio with all inquiries.

Pair of Ears Door Handles on Retail Storefront

Ear Shaped Door Pulls
Photos By Gail

In the midst of Black Friday bargain-hunting, I passed by this pair of large Silver Ears attached to the glass doors of a not-yet-opened business called, as the sign on the left door would indicate, Inked. A little Googling reveals that the ears are attached to the future home of a retail shop and tattoo parlor affiliated with Inked tattoo lifestyle magazine. Originally schedules to open its doors in OctoberInked will inhabit an 8,500-square-foot space for an art gallery, tattoo studio” in this ground floor space in Chelsea. Inked will be the first retail location for the tattoo lifestyle company. The magazine was launched in 2004, reaching some 1.2 million readers, according to a press release.

The Inked Retail Store is (or will soon be) Located at 150 West 22nd Street Between 6th and 7th Avenues in Manhattan.

Ear Shaped Door Pulls

“Can You Hear Me Now?”

Modern Art Monday Presents: Woman in Tub By Jeff Koons

Jeff Koons Woman in Tub
All Photos By Gail

Jeff Koons’ Woman in Tub (1988) combines a cartoon-like rendering of a nude woman startled by a submerged snorkeler with the exquisite, hard-paste porcelain finish of typical 18th-century Rococo figurines. Part of KoonsBanality series, which is characterized by oddly eroticized, comic and kitsch images, this work takes personal taste — good and bad — as its primary subject.

Jeff Koons Woman in Tub

Koons has explained the work’s biographical origin:

When I was a kid, my grandparents had an ashtray on a table in their television room. It was a small porcelain of a girl in a bathtub. It was white, with pink and blue details, and the legs went back and forth. As a kid, I was mesmerized. My Woman in Tub comes from that, though it references [the toiletry scenes painted by] Manet and Degas. I had such as experience of awe looking at that object.

Jeff Koons Woman in Tub

Photographed in The Art Institute, Chicago.