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Laura Blum

High With a Little Help from Woodstock

Whatever you're doing, take a break and give yourself some laughter therapy.

Signed   Pete Fornatale

Wikipedia tells us the tee-hee "may ensue from jokes, tickling or other stimuli." I'll spare you my joke-telli

ng; nor will I attempt a goochie goo. But I feel compelled to share "other stimuli" in the form of a video that DJ Pete Fornatale screened last night at a salute to rock 'n roll's

first rave. It had the audience howling, and within a click it'll have you yipping too.

The event was "Woodstock 40 Years Later: Featuring Pete Fornatale of WFUV," staged by SobelMedia in its Samsung Experience lair, and the video was "Happy Birthday from Joe Cocker and me."

As you know if you were breathing in 1969, the Grease Band frontman belted his cover of the Beatles' "High With a Little Help from my Friends" to 400,000 of these friends at Max Yasgur's upstate New York farm. The performance was famously incoherent, you'll recall – or not, depending on your 60s cred – so the video you're about to encounter is "captioned for the clear-headed."

Enjoy, and if the counterculture seizes you, head over to and order a copy of Fornatale's Back to the Garden: The Story of Woodstock. He read us a few excerpts, and if the rest of the book is as entertaining, you're in for a trip.

Peace, Tie-dye and Happiness.

Source: YouTube

Vanishing of the Beings

In gentler times, when someone chirped about "the birds and the bees," it brought to mind winged things swapping life nectars mid-flit. Even the flowers and the trees were doing it.A Taste of Honey

The new documentary Vanishing of the Bees replaces such lusty affairs with scenarios of falling. Not falling in love. Falling dead.

Equal parts crime mystery, sci-fi and Western, this sobering look at honeybees on the brink of obliteration thrusts quite a sting. Personally, I could do without honey cake, but take fruits, vegetables and nuts off my table and I'll start seriously missing the fuzzy insect. (Alfalfa-fed livestock would go too, though that's not my beef.) Who knew the species pollinates one third of the world's food?  

Like you, I've been catching news bits about “Colony Collapse Disorder," the strange case of bees going poof. But witnessing the empty-hive syndrome from the POV of their beekeeping "parents" is sadder, weirder and more haunting than a sound-byte or report can capture.

At least in the Gulf of Mexico you know where the gob-dripping creatures are. Beekeepers across America and in dozens of other countries, on the other hand, are logging losses of more than 90 percent of their colonies, and haven't the foggiest where they've gone.

My theory is that they've been off stinging Julia Roberts' lips. See Eat, Pray, Love and tell me what you think.  

Vanishing of the Bees played on August 10th at the Film Society of Lincoln Center. Filmmakers  George Langworthy and Maryam Henein couldn't make it, so it fell to co-executive producer Peter Heller to entertain the swarm of blown-away viewers at the post-screening reception. I admired his Vanishing business card and its tag line -- "A Documentary for Anyone who Likes to Eat" – which touched off a few marketing ideas.

Maybe you have some of your own. Me, I was thinking: Get the film's narrator, brash Oscar-nominated actress Ellen Page, to mount a Roger & Me-style confrontation with Marijn Dekkers when he takes over this October as CEO of Bayer AG, makers of pesticides implicated in CCD.

Or have people dress up like bees and sell DVDs around the produce sections of our nation's grocery stores. And how about if the Food Channel did an Iron Chef America cook-off using no food? 

Pitch your brief for trumpeting this essential, exceptional film to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Or better yet, pledge funds to the Bee the Change National Campaign at The filmmakers can also set you up with a screening in your home town. Better hurry, though, if you want to make it by National Honeybee Day, August 22nd.

Regardless of when you see Vanishing of the Bees, it will get under your skin and stay there. On August 12 at yet another head-tickling SobelMedia event in The Samsung Experience, "The future of digital media: How wireless/mobile changes everything," I couldn't help wondering about the hidden perils of our shimmering toys. Amid all the talk of 4G technology and faster, mightier juice, images flooded back to me of poisoned honeybees staggering and stumbling in their flowers.

Afterward I asked panelists Brian Reich of little m media, Ari Zoldan of Quantum and capital advisor Robert Raciti whether, like the honeybees, we too are unwittingly addling our faculties with mediums harmful to life. 

"I don't want brain cancer any more than anyone else," said Reich, "but the known positive benefits that technology offers today significantly outweigh the at-present harmful side effects that we can prove. 

Raciti likewise waived off concerns that "there is much electromagnetic radiation being emitted from your phone," and touted the high frequencies of today's gizmos over yesteryear's lower and reportedly more mischievous frequencies. Apparently the early color TV sets rained down ridiculously more radiation than today's mobile phones.

Waxing Talmudic, Zoldan homed in on a different sort of duality: "Man is in control (and can) refrain from using technology anytime he wants" vs "Man amounts to little more than a pathetic slave to technology."

Both are true, of course, which got me reasoning that if Bayer made aspirin, how bad a company could it really be? 

The following day my head was still pulsing with Reich's comment, "We have dangerous things coursing from the air at all times; it's part of contemporary life, so it's not fair to pick on mobile when everything we do has risks."

For relief I headed over to the microwave- and radiation-free offices of Dr. Edward F. Hutton. Holistic dentistry's leading light was a patient, then associate, of the late orthomolecular physician, Hans Nieper, whose Revolution in Technology, Medicine and Society: Conversion of Gravity Field Energy broke new ground in our understanding of the electricity-cancer connection -- and caused Hutton to break his own ground.  

Some 25 years ago he dug a crater outside his window and filled it with 15 tons of black river rock. Thirty-five thousand dollars later, he had coiled them in copper wire and embedded the resulting "Faraday cage" in the walls of his Fifth Avenue practice. Sucking all the radiation earthward, the rig named for 19th-century English scientist Michael Faraday blocks penetrations of, shall we say, bad vibes, and gives a body a rest.

"Even if we just walk on the street, we're immersed in the soup of electromagnetic fields," said Hutton. "We're basically in a huge microwave oven and we're all slowly but surely getting fried."

If you call for an appointment, the Whole Body crusader will answer you by the window where hedges now cover the quarry. Only there do his radios and telephones get reception. Now that New York City has legalized beekeeping, he could even perk up the space with some hives. At honey-making frequencies, they'd transmit the optimal buzz.  

Russellmania: The Missing Movie

No offense to Argentine screen vamp Coca Sarli, but Ken Russell is one hell of an act to follow.  

Starting today, the Film Society of Lincoln Center is presenting Fuego: The Films of Isabel “Coca” Sarli, and while entries like Leopoldo Torre Nilsson's The Female: Seventy Times Seven look plenty enticing – Sarli plays a femme fatale who undid both her husband and her lover – it's doubtful the three-day series will spark epiphanies like the Film Society's Russellmania.

Last night the week-long retrospective culminated with a screening of Tommy. Russell's 1975 screen adaptation of The Who's 1969 rock opera packed the Walter Reade Theater with fans so ecstatic they nearly whirled. In fact, during the Q&A one comely audience member went so far as to serenade the 83-year-old with a song inspired by another of his phantasmagorical works. Another devotee inquired whether Pinball Wizard Elton John got to keep his Doc Martens (yes), and a happy obsessive in the back asked Russell to comment on the film's ubiquitous use of orbs (no).

(Keith Moon was somewhat more forthcoming about his own jones for "big, shiny silver balls" when he told VH1 it was "yeah, sexual. See

Crank though Russell is, he seemed genuinely charmed. But for someone who says three words where twenty suffice, the rogue auteur who suffers fools ungladly may have simply been relieved to have someone else take the mic.

One entry that was absent from the program was Russell's film version of the D.H. Lawrence novella, St Mawr. For good reason, though. He never made it. Locations were staked out in New Zealand and Australia; Russell regulars Ann-Margret and Glenda Jackson were signed on as female leads; and so were their male counterparts, Raul Julia and what must have been a seriously spectacular stallion. Too bad the October 1987 crash totaled this production about a woman so jaded by men she could only find passion with a horse.  

"Would you still want to make the film?" I asked Russell.

"Yes," he elaborated.

"I was supposed to join the shoot," I said.

He shot me an appraising look. 

I smiled and practiced shutting up.

"It's a good story," he nodded, meaning D.H. Lawrence's effort, not the production backstory.

And with that the man of infinite images and inspirations depleted his reserve of chitchat. So while we Russellmaniacs are waiting for his next creative bursts, anyone within shot of Lincoln Center this weekend can watch Coco Sarli in Fire. The 1969 film directed by her husband, Armando Bo, is about "a tragic nymphomaniac who cannot get sexual satisfaction from any single man or woman," per the playbill.

There's no mention of horses, but it may be as close as we come to St Mawr anytime soon. 

Mensche Marketing with Sobel Media

 I recently blogged in this space about the 19th-century writer Ralph Waldo Emerson. Rethinking his thing for self-reliance, I'm pleased to Ouija another dead white man, Hunter S. Thompson, who said, "He that is taught only by himself has a fool for a master."

Thompson was just as sentimental about the TV business. "It is normally perceived as some kind of cruel and shallow money trench…a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs, for no good reason" went his rant. He may as well have taken aim at marketing, especially today's merciless barrage of self-centered assaults on what's left of our peace and sanity.  

Which brings me to "Mensch Marketing."

For anyone unfamiliar with basic Yiddish, "mensche" means "someone of integrity and honor." The matchmaker behind its marriage to "marketing" is Mardy Sitzer, President of Bumblebee Design & Marketing. She mentioned it at last night's panel, "Building a Social Media Marketing Toolkit," held in the sleek Samsung Experience store at Manhattan's Time Warner Center.

Two people in the audience raised their hand when asked, "Is there anyone in the audience who doesn't know what 'mensche' means?" One was from India, and the other, from Larchmont.

As Mardy told me after the event, she got the "Mensche Marketing" idea from one of her clients while co-developing a marketing strategy with him. She found his "mind set… so personal and caring" that she plotzed, "Larry, you're the quintessential mensche!"

Hunter may not have been gonzo about it, but I found myself warming up to this marketing credo that asks not what you can do for the solicitor, but rather what the solicitor can do for you. "Who's taking care of you? Who's making you feel good? What's keeping you up at night?" These are the worries Mardy counsels her clients to take on. Above all, they should become great listeners.  
Bill Sobel

Like Ben Greenstein. The grandfather of Howard Greenstein -- social media strategist and President of The Harbrooke Group who chaired the panel – apparently became Long Island's finest butcher by remembering what all his customers wanted and giving it to them drippin' fresh.  

If only everyone tweeting and facebooking their wares took the cue from Ben and Mardy, civilization might yet survive 2012.
Wendi is another preacher of benevolence whom social media marketers should heed. That's Wendi Caplan-Carroll, Regional Development Director at e-newsletter company Constant Contact, who rounded out the panel. "Constantly look for ways to help," she counseled, and make it "funny, interesting, relevant and useful."

So, for example, were I marketing to you, I'd pass along some of the handy web sites that came up in the discussion. I'd tell you about, where you could get all your social media updates in a single email, gratis. Or about, which lets you cue up people who have followed you on various social networking services. and are gumshoe services for your research pleasure. Then there's, which will help you shorten a long URL.

Maybe you already know about these sites, maybe not. If the latter, your life may have just gotten a jot easier.  

But don't thank me. Thank social media maven Bill Sobel, who presented the event together with Constant Contact and Samsung. And mark your calendars for July 28, 2010, "The Resurrection of The Music Video," featuring Zone4/Interscope recording artist Jared Evan. As the first installment of the SobelMedia/Samsung Experience Film and Entertainment Series, it's free. And you may just do some real live social networking.

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