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  • Michael Krakovskiy 4:05 am on September 10, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 30 Rock, , , , , Die Hard, Jane Krakowski, John McClane, Kenneth Cole, Kenneth Cole Productions, Larry David, Louisiana, Massive Dynamic headquarters, , , , , , , , , The Birth of a Shoe Company   

    Cinematic New York 

    When you live and work in New York, you spend a huge amount of time on tv and movie sets. Most of the time the sets are abandoned by the shooting crews, but very frequently tv or movie magic is happening as you are walking by.

    Why is New York so overrepresented on screen? Part of it is because it’s New York. But it’s also because the city government is also very friendly to the moving picture industry.

    When I worked on a website for Kenneth Cole, I learned an interesting factoid: the real name of this fashion powerhouse is Kenneth Cole Productions. It turns out that in the early days they abused a perk that the city gives to movie people: ability to park their huge trailers in places where normally only city services vehicles can linger. Cole applied for a permit to shoot a movie called “The Birth of a Shoe Company”, parked a huge truck in front of a hotel where a major shoe show was taking place, and proceeded to sell enough shoes while cameras were rolling (sometimes even with film) to start a company.

    While watching a movie or a show set in New York I get a lot of “oh, hey it’s” and a lot of “hmm, where’s that?” moments. Sometimes a movie or a show becomes more memorable just because its locations are so familiar to me.

    Let me give you some examples about how cinematically impregnated my environs are. Take, for instance 30 Rock. I spent 7 years working in two buildings that are behind 30 Rock, and every little thing in, under and over Rockefeller plaza is seared in my brain. Also, I have the same last name of one of the actors (is Jane Krakowski a relative? Probably not).

    The 47-50th Street/Rockefeller Center subway station that I got out at almost every day for those 7 years (unless I missed a few stops while reading or sleeping) is the one featured in a key scene in Darren Aranofsky’s “Pi”. The Brighton Beach bus stop in “Requiem for a Dream” – one of my first American jobs was right there, handing out fliers for a gypsy psychic. One of the buildings where I worked, 1211 Avenue of the Americas was very subtly featured as Sideshow Bob’s prisoner number in a Simpson’s episode.

    Sterling Cooper corporate headquarters are famously located at a non-existing 405 Madison Avenue. On the other hand 415 Madison Avenue is a very real building where my wife used to work.

    When I go to and from work now, I pass a grating which John McClane ripped off in one of the Die Hard movies to jump on the top of a moving train. The building where I work? Well, it doubles as the Massive Dynamic headquarters on “Fringe”. They do a lot of shooting at the floor where I work. You can see our big conference room called “Jail” in a number of commercials. You know, Doctor House, he’s supposed to stay in New Jersey, but one time he slept on “my” couch at the office after shooting a commercial there. The butterflies of doom from Fringe also live in “Jail”.

    Ironically, the only famous person who went to my hight school is Larry David, the co-creator of a certain show about nothing set in New York, but shot in LA.

     
  • Michael Krakovskiy 6:53 am on March 14, 2006 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Heinrich Himmler, Hugo Boss, Kenneth Cole, , Mavis Beacon, Nazi Germany, , not Schutzstaffel, Schutzstaffel, Shift Supervisor, The Holocaust,   

    It’s Tough Being Boss 

    Several days ago I was startled by something in a post titled “moving up in “teh company”” in Livejournal’s Starbucks barrista community. The poster said:

    “< insert typical “yay me, I’m being promoted to SS” comment here >

    So I went to my learning coach class last night. It was very informative and good. I’ll begin official SS training about a week and a half from now.”

    It took me a little while to realize that SS in Starbucksian jargon stands for Shift Supervisor, not Schutzstaffel. Over the years I got used to being asked for my SS (Social Security) number, but apparently when I hear “SS” in other contexts my first thought is still “Nazis!”.

    This reminded me of a rumor that I’ve heard before. See, I’ve been told that that SS uniforms were so stylish because they were designed by Hugo Boss. It did not sound right – I thought that Hugo Boss is an American company, that was created after the war and that Hugo Boss is not a real person, but a created brand, like Mavis Beacon (see my post about that).

    The first place I went to was hugoboss.com. Well, I was wrong, it’s a German company all right. But the website is missing “Company history” section. Suspicious. I mean, usually established companies are rather proud of their beginnings. Kennethcole.com, for instance, has a whole segment about how Kenneth Cole (he’s a real person, I’ve even met him once) hacked New York City rules by pretending to shoot a movie in order to gain valuable parking permit necessary to sell shoes out of a trailer. You can read all about it here.

    So, I did a little digging of my own and guess what – according to Wikipedia, which in turn quotes Washington Post, Hugo Boss, the founder of the company did indeed design and manufacture Nazi uniforms, and on top of that likely used forced labour.

    Here’s a picture from hugoboss.com:

    And here’s one from Wikipedia that I doctored up a little (I changed the position of the guy on the right – the original is here)

    Maybe Hugo Boss of today is very, very different from the WWII era one, but they do make some snappy clothes.

     
  • Michael Krakovskiy 11:42 am on February 17, 2005 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Bluefly, Cole, , , , Kenneth Cole, , Yana Moskalyuk   

    Looking at Design.ru and Remembering Dot Com Ads 

    I was browsing http://www.design.ru and a few associations formed in my mind.

    Latest set of images with quotes from Tema remind me of Kenneth Cole ads with obligatory quote from Mr. Cole himself. By the way, I am glad to see that kennethcole.com is back to an almost original state similar to what it was when I worked on it, from a horrible flash monster that it became later. I’ve met Kenneth Cole at the time, maybe I’ll meet Lebedev some day too.

    Illustrations by Yana Moskalyuk look to me as if Lavalife.com ads mated with Bluefly.com ads. It’s interesting to see that bluefly.com is still around. I only bought something from there once, when they were giving away $50 gift certificates.

     
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