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billboard music awards

The 2018 Billboard Music Awards paid tribute to the students and teachers affected by recent deadly shootings in Texas and Florida, while the night also featured show-stopping performances by iconic singer Janet Jackson and K-pop group BTS.

A tearful and emotional Kelly Clarkson, who hosted the awards, opened the show in honor of the 10 people who died Friday at Santa Fe High School, barely able to speak as she urged the audience and the world to do more to prevent deadly shootings from happening. She said she was asked to hold a moment of silence, but chose instead to call for “a moment of action.”

“Once again we’re grieving for more kids that have died … I’m so sick of moment of silences … it’s not working,” she said Sunday, almost in tears. “Mommies and daddies should be able to send their kids to school.”

Shawn Mendes and Khalid were joined onstage by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Show Choir for the song “Youth,” a performance occurring three months after 17 people were killed at the school in Parkland, Florida.

Mendes and the choir members wore sweaters that read “Youth,” while Khalid’s shirt read “Protect Our Guns Children” with “Guns” crossed out.

The show wasn’t all somber though: Jackson rocked the Billboard Awards with an energetic and powerful performance of her past hits in an epic week that included her 52nd birthday and the 25th anniversary of her groundbreaking “janet.” album.

In a glittery gold sweater-dress and thigh-high boots, Jackson sang “Nasty,” ”If” and “Throb” as audience members such as Ciara and Tyra Banks danced along at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

Bruno Mars made a surprise appearance to introduce the singer, who earned the Icon Award.

Jackson used her speech to pay tribute to powerful women.

“Women have made it clear that we no longer will be controlled, manipulated or abused. I stand with those women and with those men equally outraged by discrimination who support us in heart and mind,” she said onstage.

Another highlight came when BTS, who won top social artist Sunday night, performed onstage.

Clarkson sported huge, puffy earmuffs as she introduced the K-pop group, who easily earned the loudest applause from the audience throughout the night. Whenever their name was mentioned, or when the camera panned to the band members, the audience erupted — some even holding fan made signs.

The seven-member group danced slickly onstage as they sang “Fake Love,” the single from their album “Love Yourself: Tear,” released Friday.

Ed Sheeran, who didn’t attend the show but performed from Dublin, won the night’s biggest honor — top artist — besting Mars, Drake, Kendrick Lamar and Taylor Swift.

But Swift didn’t leave empty-handed: She won top female artist and top selling album for “reputation.”

She said that before she created “reputation” she “felt really misunderstood by a lot of people.”

“Thank you for making me feel understood again,” Swift said to her fans.

Luis Fonsi was passionate when he picked up top Hot 100 song for “Despacito,” the biggest hit of the last year which also included Daddy Yankee and Justin Bieber.
“Thank you, guys, so much for embracing a mostly Spanish song,” he said. “This goes out to my Latino brothers, the immigrants … to all of those when they say ‘Speak English,’ this goes out to you.”

Before presenting the award to Fonsi, the Chainsmokers and Halsey remembered Avicii, the DJ-producer who died last month at age 28. The Chainsmokers also paid tribute to Avicii when the duo won top dance/electronic artist.

“We want to dedicate this award to Avicii,” said Andrew Taggart, adding that the Swedish musician “inspired all of us, influenced our music.”

“He will be missed,” Taggart said. “I hope you found peace.”

Camila Cabello won the chart achievement award and also won over the crowd with her performance of “Havana,” as audience members Mila Kunis and Rebel Wilson sang along and danced happily.

Cabello’s former Fifth harmony bandmate, Normani, was fierce as she performed “Love Lies” alongside Khalid; Grande followed Clarkson’s emotional words with an energetic performance of “No Tears Left to Cry”; and John Legend’s performance ended with a photo of his new baby boy displayed on the large screens at the arena.

Salt-N-Pepa closed the show with high-energy, performing the hits “Push It” and “Whatta Man” alongside R&B group En Vogue and even Clarkson.



3 WTC, NYC’s fifth tallest tower, will debut next week




world trade center new york

On Monday, June 11, the World Trade Center complex will tick off another major accomplishment: the official completion of 3 World Trade Center. The opening of the supertall on Monday will mark the completion of four of the five buildings that will make up the new World Trade Center complex.

At 1,079 feet, 3 WTC is the second tallest building in the WTC complex, and the fifth tallest building in New York City. Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Richard Rogers of Rogers Stirk Harbor + Partners, the massive glass-clad structure measures 2.5 million square feet.

So far, 38 percent of the Silverstein Properties-developed building has been leased out, and GroupM is the tenant with the largest space—700,000 square feet spread out over nine floors. Other notable tenants include McKinsey, and IEX.

Some of the notable features of the building include the column-free floorplates that range in size between 30,000 to 70,000 square feet. The 80-story tower has ceiling heights that range from a little more than 13 feet to 24 feet. There are also five floors of retail—one on the ground floor, two above that, and two below ground. The building also has three outdoor terraces on the 17th, 60th, and 76th floors—Curbed had a chance to see what the views from that height will be like when it toured the construction site in 2016.


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Meet SPOT, New York’s latest piece of artwork, created to make sick children smile




sculpture spot

American sculptor Donald Lipski has wowed New York City once again, this time with his creation of SPOT – a 30-foot dalmatian dog balancing a taxi on his snout.

Part of a giant renovation of NYU Langone Hospital, SPOT is based at 34th Street and 1st Avenue and can be seen from the FDR Highway. It’s part of a new NYU pavilion, opening this July.

The artist, who lives in the neighborhood and has visited the NYU Langone Hospital many times, even having surgeries there himself, made the sculpture for children going into the hospital. “It is a stressful time, and I wanted to make something that would delight them; something so astounding it would distract even those arriving for the most serious procedures, and so lovable that young patients coming back again and again with chronic conditions would see it as an old friend,” said Lipski, who believes there is a reparative quality to art. “Art has actual healing power. That’s a fact! I like to think that the parents, the doctors and nurses and staff, the neighbors, will all love this sweet young dog doing the impossible,” he continued.

It wasn’t an easy piece to construct, Lipski worked with engineer Nick Geurts to make it a reality, and after 20 pages of engineering design, they had created something that would withstand a hurricane and flooding worse than Sandy.

After gaining approval from Amtrak (which runs a subway tunnel right underneath), realist sculptor Christopher Collins crafted the dog to a scale model. Toyota offered up the real Prius used for the taxi on the top and then the FAST Corporation in Wisconsin made the full-scale dog ready for installation.

On the day of installation there were storms and winds that shut down the site. “We just got the taxi up the second day when it started to rain,” explained Lipski, “everyone was telling me to look up—the windshield wipers were on! Ryan Emendorf, our electrical genius, had set them up with a rain sensor as a surprise for me.”

Award-winning Lipski, originally from Chicago, has lived in New York since the ‘70s and has a special connection to SPOT, “this is a special piece for me in so many ways. It’s a privilege to be able to do this.”
A few blocks away, at Grand Central Market at Grand Central Terminal, on Lexington Ave, visitors and residents of New York can view another of Lipski’s pieces named Sirshasana; a chandelier in the form of an upside-down olive tree.


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New York City’s subway disaster now has its own 8-bit video game




mta game

Straphangers who want to experience the rolling nightmare that is New York City’s subway system from the comfort of their own home are in luck. A new video game called “MTA Country,” which debuted this week, takes players on a treacherous ride through graffiti-lined tunnels filled with electrical fires, broken tracks, and stalled subway cars.

Users play as Gregg T., the face of the MTA’s “New Yorkers Keep New York Safe” safety ad campaign, who has since become a bit of a meme. At the start of the game, Gregg T. jumps into a subway car with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Together, the three must leap over track fires and broken-down subway cars full of irritated passengers while dodging pizza rats and passing under graffiti tags that say “Giuliani was here.”
The goal is to collect subway tokens and a series of glowing letters that — spoiler alert — eventually spell out the word “PRIVATIZE.” At that point, the subway car turns into a shimmering hyperloop pod, and Gregg T. disembarks safely in Washington, DC.
The game was created by Everydayarcade, a creative collective of advertising professionals that makes hot-button video games in their spare time. The group has created video games for The New York Times and The Outline. A satirical anti-Trump game, in which players throw stereotyped Mexican characters over an ever-rising border between the US and Mexico, was rejected by Apple’s App Store for being too offensive.

“We’re just three idiots who make topical video games, so we have no idea how to fix the subway,” Mike Lacher, one of the game’s creators, said in an email. “Everybody seems to propose a solution, so we thought it would be funny to play one out to the extreme. Collecting letters to spell out “RAISE FARES OVER FIVE YEARS TO FINANCE SIGNAL IMPROVEMENTS” would take too long, and be kind of a downer.”
(Lacher’s co-creator, Chris Baker, told the New York Post, “We didn’t want to hit anyone over the head with the libertarianism. We wanted it to be a funny joke that does have some merit.”)

Lacher said he and his friends were inspired to make the game by countless hours of being trapped on broken-down trains. “The three of us live in New York, and, like pretty much everyone in New York, have been frustrated by the subways,” he said. “We’ve spent lots of time trapped underground or fighting to get into full trains.”

He continued, “We’ve also been watching the intense debate and arguments around it, and we were amused by what an inescapable mess it seems to be and how no one can possibly take accountability for it. So we decided to poke some fun at the absurdity with an absurd game. We got excited about the connection between the abandoned mine level in Donkey Kong and the declining state of the subway.”

The buck-passing over the subway came into view this week as de Blasio and Cuomo sniped at each other over a $19 billion proposal to overhaul the subway. The money would pay to modernize the subway’s signal system and replace antiquated equipment, but New York’s governor and mayor characteristically couldn’t agree on who should shoulder most of the cost. (The correct answer is Cuomo, who appoints the majority of the MTA’s board members and controls its purse strings.)

I asked Lacher whether he’d prefer to ride a hyperloop, a non-existent technology first conceived by Elon Musk, rather than the subway. “In theory, sure!” he said. “A superfast, brand-new hyperloop would be a lot better than a vomit-caked C train with no air conditioning. Sadly, a one-mile test track under LA doesn’t do us a lot of good. I guess you could say the best thing about the NYC subway is that at least it exists.”


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