Archive for the New Year’s Eve Category

2016 Wrap-Up

Posted in ME, My Shows, New Year's Eve with tags on January 1, 2017 by travsd

Happy New Year! Below, our annual pictorial recap of the year that was, here in Travyland. And boy would I like to turn the clock back a year!



Was thrilled to be on the very first episode of Jennifer Harder’s Radio Free Brooklyn show Blonde Thunder Presents. Hear it here. 



AVT 20th anniversary show and benefit show for I’ll Say She Is at the Slipper Room. More here.


Premiere of Derek Davidson’s film Moving Pictures., in which I played a small role


Launch of my new web site What? You’ve never seen it? Well, we opened soft, as they say in the business, but Noah Diamond did a beautiful job on its design, and it’s a useful place for me to point folks to. Please check it out!

Gimme a Thrill, Noah Diamond’s book on the history of I’ll Say She Is n which I am generously featured, is released. 

May/ June:


I’ll Say She Is revival (of which I was one of the co-producers) at the Connelly Theatre


In July, we profiled our 1,000th vaudevillian in our Stars of Vaudeville series here on Travalanche


Windows on the Bowery launch event at Cooper Union. I contributed text to some of the historical markers that were hung as part of this project, organized by the Bowery Alliance of Neighbors

with Brian Gari, Eddie Cantor's grandson at launch event for "Windows on the Bowery"

with Brian Gari, Eddie Cantor’s grandson at launch event for “Windows on the Bowery”


w/ Charli Ouda in "The Iron Heel", South Oxford Space

w/ Charli Ouda in “The Iron Heel”, South Oxford Space

July through September I acted (and played banjo) in UTC #61’s revival of Jack London’s The Iron Heel (July through September)



Married the Mad Marchioness, Part One!



with Dr. Lisa

A guest on the Radio Free Brooklyn program Dr. Lisa Gives a Sh*t. Listen to it here.


A guest on the Between the Liner Notes podcast with Matthew Billy. Listen to it here. 


with Killy Dwyer, officiant

Married the Mad Marchioness, Part Two (Slipper Room vaudeville show). Full spread here. 



L-R, Lauren Milberger, Trav S.D., Kita St. Cyr, Glen Heroy

Fields Fest: We presented our adaptation W.C. Fields for President at the Lambs. 


I appeared as the Narrator in Peculiar Works’ Project’s presentation of America’s oldest play Androboros


Appeared on Rachel Cleary’s Radio Free Brooklyn program Hear and Now to talk about Fields Fest


Fields Fest: Times Square History Walk with Kevin Fitzpatrick and appearance on web tv program Classic Movies and More


with Dr. Harriet Fields, WC Fields’ only grandaughter

Fields Fest: Screening of The Bank Dick at the Cinema Arts Center

with Austin Pendleton following his Christmas show at Pangea

With Austin Pendleton following his Christmas show at Pangea


Fields Fest: Trav speaks at NYPL on WC Fields and Vaudeville


Fields Fest: Trav speaks at Greater Astoria Historical Society on W.C. Fields silent movies for Paramount


Santa Claus Conquers the Martians at the Kraine Theatre



Presentation of Man on the Flying Trapeze at Metrograph

In addition, we are especially proud of improvements we have made to Travalanche this year, broadening and deepening the content, adding pieces on politics, society, American history, and some memoir. At the same time, we have not abandoned our usual content streams of vaudeville, classic comedy, show biz, etc.

There are (were) big plans on all fronts for 2017. Typically we announce such things at this time, but because of political developments (and some personal ones) we prefer not to announce anything specific, at least for the nonce. Instead I will simply thank you for your interest and support over the past year, and wish you a safe and healthy twelvemonth to come.



New Year’s Eve in the Movies

Posted in Hollywood (History), Movies, Movies (Contemporary), New Year's Eve with tags , on December 31, 2016 by travsd

In honor of the day, some favorite movies featuring New Year’s Eve scenes. This holiday is often used to mark extreme or catastrophic change in the life of the characters or their environment — a theme for us to contemplate this year in particular when the clock strikes midnight.

the gold rush_new year's eve

The Gold Rush (1925)

Shame on you if you don’t know this movie or this scene. Led on by the supercilious dance hall girl Georgia (Georgia Hale) lone prospector Charlie Chaplin prepares for what he thinks will be a delightful New Year’s party with Georgia and a few friends. He sleeps and dreams a magical time, but awakens to find himself alone and stood up. Warning: don’t watch if you’re alone and depressed!


Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933)

Something about the early Technicolor adds to the eeriness of this, one of the creepiest of classic studio era horror films. The opening scenes depict feisty girl reporter Glenda Farrell making her way through the crowded New York City streets on New Year’s Eve, clogged with carnivalesque revelers. Holidays are always interesting in older films — what people wear, the different ways they celebrated. Farrell’s journey will lead her to a corpse, and eventually to mad wax sculptor Lionel Atwill. 


Every Day’s a Holiday (1937)

Mae West loved to celebrate the period of her early childhood, the gay ’90s, in her films.  Something about the era symbolized relative freedom to her, I think: saloons and bawdy houses and crooked politicians. That’s the milieu of her last true starring film Every Day’s a Holiday, set in Tammany era NYC, with crucial scenes taking place on New Year’s Eve 1900 — just when the city and nation were poised to go from horses and buggies to automobiles.


Sunset Boulevard (1950)

One of the most touching scenes in Billy Wilder’s masterpiece has William Holden briefly escaping from the virtual tomb he has been inhabiting with former silent star Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) to the relative joy and vitality of a proper New Year’s Eve party at a friend’s house, full of youth and music, and a much more appropriate girlfriend. The moment is a poignant blip, a last chance, a fleeting glimpse into a happy life he’ll never get to have.


The Poseidon Adventure (1972)

At age seven this was my introduction to New Years’s Eve, the first place I heard “Auld Lang Syne”, witnessed a countdown to midnight, saw grownups with noise-makers and party hats. It’s part of the mysterious magic of this film (which is still one of my favorites) that the moment of disaster strikes just at midnight: it’s a new year and everything turns upside down. Celebration turns to tragedy in the blink of an eye. It’s part of the peculiar dream logic and symbolism of movies, and it works extraordinarily well.


Jaws the Revenge (1987)

This is  a most entertainingly terrible movie which has only recently become a new classic around my house. (I never bothered with it when it came out.) It’s predicated on the concept that now-deceased Amity Island Police Chief Brody’s wife Ellen’s most irrational fears are TRUE — that a sentient, malevolent, psychic shark has designs on her family for some reason, and that you get killed every time you are crazy enough to go into the water. That her son managed to become a MARINE BIOLOGIST given such a family dynamic is one of the film’s countless delightful head-scratchers. Lorraine Gary is the film’s star, Roy Scheider having long since decided he had far better things to do. At any rate, the film starts around Christmas (her other son is killed by a shark while people on shore sing Christmas carols), and so the family travels to the Bahamas to forget it all (wouldn’t you choose someplace far INLAND?) At any rate, the New Year’s Eve scene in this film is memorable for being one of tent pole WTF moments, where you go…”H’m, we seem to have lost the narrative thread here.” As Gary and Michael Caine dance and romance each other and talk, and various other characters move around the party and talk, and you’re like, “Wasn’t this supposed to be a thing about sharks?” Oh, but it will be, for Bruce the Shark soon swims the thousand or more miles to the Bahamas from New England just to have another go at this particular family. New Year, same old killer shark!


Boogie Nights (1997)

Much like Mae West’s Every Day’s a Holiday, P.T. Anderson’s porn-industry portrait features a scene on a historically significant New Year’s Eve, in this case not a century demarcation but an important change of decades. The coming of the ’80s (and home video) will mean the end of porn theatres, and the end of the time when the industry had some claims to professionalism. Soon any amateur could grab a video camera and make their own porn and the industry would be glutted. The death of the old era is symbolized by a tragedy at the party — but I won’t spoil it, in the unlikely event you’ve not seen this terrific movie.


New Year’s Eve (2011)

Let’s get one thing straight: New Year’s Eve is a nearly unwatchable trough of expensive garbage. You can just hear Garry Marshall saying, “Ya like good lookin’ young people? I’ll give ya 28 good lookin’ young people — plus Robert de Niro!” I watched a good hunk of this rubbish for the first time last year, and there was one aspect I found very interesting, however. Its structure…of constant cross-cutting between over-expository scenes of diverse people bustling around in anticipation of some major event….feels EXACTLY like the opening act of a DISASTER MOVIE. This feeling is enhanced by the fact that it’s set in New York…TIMES SQUARE, to be precise. A major terrorist target. And I LOVE disaster movies . So I so badly want this to be a disaster movie, to re-cut it, so that instead of a midnight countdown, the climax will be a gigantic wall of water coming from the Hudson River, or a bunch of mid-town skyscrapers toppling like dominoes. And the fact that this DOESN’T happen, in particular, to all these beautiful Caucasian cipher-people, is a total let down.  Roland Emmerich, please step in and give us a new third act for this movie.

A New Year’s Message from Trav S.D.

Posted in ME, My Shows, New Year's Eve with tags , , on December 31, 2015 by travsd

Happy New Year! (in a few hours).

Below is my little pictorial recap of some high points from 2015, in the way of Thanksgiving to the Universe and to You. And below that some hints at our plans for 2016:


January 2015, at the Algonquin Hotel with Kevin Fitzpatrick for his new book launch



In January, I appeared on the Halli-Casser Jayne Show to talk about the great Sophie Tucker. Hear that broadcast here. 



Mark St. Cyr, Everett Quinton and Molly Pope in “Horse Play”

In February and March: the all star production of my play Horse Play, or The Fickle Mistress, produced by Theatre Askew at La Mama. The New York Times covered it here and here.



In March I played P.T.Barnum in my adaptation of his The Art of Money Gettingdesigned and directed by Carolyn Raship, in UTC #61’s Money Lab at HERE Arts Center. 



In April, Opera on Tap presented sections of The Curse of the Rat King, the opera I’ve written with composer David Malamud, at Barbes. Also in the program was work by David Cote, Robert Paterson, Edward Einhorn, Henry Akona and Avner Finberg



“A House Divided” illustration by Carolyn Raship

In April, I and an all-star downtown cast observed the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War by presenting sections of my play A House Divided at Dixon Place. Read all about it here. 


with Penny Arcade, after her performance of "Longing Lasts Longer" at Joe's Pub

May: with Penny Arcade, after her performance of “Longing Lasts Longer” at Joe’s Pub


The Fields Fest Committee, including two of W.C. Fields grand kids, Harriet and Ronald

With the Fields Fest Committee, including two of W.C. Fields‘ grand kids, Harriet and Ronald

June: 100th anniversary of W.C. Fields debut in the Ziegfeld Follies.



In July: My blog Travalanche passed one million page views



Late July-early August: shot my scenes in the horror movie The Moose Head Over the Mantel, soon to be released by Inappropriate Films!



September: A short film I appeared in entitled Off-Road: The Continuing Adventures of Dorothy & Toto, was screened at the Coney Island Film Festival. The film was the brainchild of Michele Carlo and Laurence Desgaines.



In September, I shot my scenes in Derek Davidson’s short film Moving Pictures. Coming soon!



September: consulted on The Striptease, Jonny Porkpie’s burlesque silent movie tribute at The Slipper Room



October: I appeared on Jim Melloan’s Truth and Freedom Show on Brooklyn Free Radio. Listen to it here. 



November: Holding Court at Mardi Gras World in New Orleans


December: with Molly Crabapple, at the launch for her new book "Drawing Blood"

December: with Molly Crabapple, at the launch for her new book “Drawing Blood”


And while we’re on books: my own magnum opus No Applause, Just Throw Money, seems to be doing better than ever. Here are some pictorial fan tributes from far flung regions which we received this year:







So many things! And much still being planned. But here are some things I can report:

  • I’m beginning my artists’ residency at Coney Island USA. I’m still hammering out what my projects will be but know that vaudeville and ballyhoo are certain to be part of the recipe
  • It is the 20th anniversary of the launching of my theatre company Mountebanks and the American Vaudeville Theatre. Look for a series of new vaudeville shows, time and place TBA!
  • New books and other projects in the works! Stay tuned for announcements!

And these items on the calendar: 

January: The launch of my new web site; and my appearance on Jennifer Harder’s radio show on Brooklyn Free Radio

February 29: “Night of a Thousand Vaudevillians”: The second birthday of Travalanche (actually it’s the 8th birthday–Travalanche is a Leap Year Baby! That’s why the birthday is so special). Time and place TBA.

March 4-6: Trav  appears at the Southern Sideshow Hootenanny, New Orleans

April: Trav S.D. in the UK?! (stay tuned!)

May 14: Trav S.D. weds the Mad Marchioness — at Coney Island


May 28 through July 3: our hit NYC Fringe revival of the Marx Brothers’ I’ll Say She Is returns for a new full length run at at the Connelly Theatre! Get all the details here. 

And more! more! more! Thanks for making 2015 possible! And thanks for making 2016 possible too! Have a great New Year!

I remain, yours,


Trav S.D.

Guy Lombardo’s Last New Year’s Eve

Posted in Ballroom/ Big Band/ Swing, HOLIDAYS/ FESTIVALS/ MEMORIALS/ PARADES, New Year's Eve, Television with tags , , on December 31, 2013 by travsd

Photo of Guy Lombardo

We’re ringing out the old year with a slew of old timey New Year’s episodes:

You never know what you’ve got til it’s gone!

Big band leader Guy Lombardo began doing his annual New Year’s Eve broadcasts with his Royal Canadians in 1929 (the first couple of decades were on radio of course). My life intersected with this tradition by about a dozen years, but of course I was only staying up past midnight during the last couple, I imagine…’75, ’76, ’77…And of course in those years, the only choice for a kid my age would have been Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve. It’s what we did, with our snacks and soda, while the parents went out and rang in the New Year by getting dangerously blitzed. If we accidentally turned the dial to Guy Lombardo, no doubt the bunch of us would have made throw-up noises. But if I’d known ’76 into ’77 was going to be his last year, I might have been more respectful. At any rate, I’m glad I can watch it now!

To find out more about the variety arts past and presentconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famousavailable at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold. 


And don’t  miss my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from etc etc etc


The Best Year of My Life

Posted in HOLIDAYS/ FESTIVALS/ MEMORIALS/ PARADES, ME, New Year's Eve on December 31, 2012 by travsd


Happy Old Year!

Forgive me for taking this traditional moment for crowing, but a little mental calculus has resulted in a bursting of the dam. 2012 was easily the best year of my professional career, in some ways better than every previous year put together. All in the same twelvemonth, I:

* wrote an article that was published in the New York Times (I’ve been IN many Times pieces, but this was the first time I’d actually penned one to go in the paper of record)

* had a sold out workshop of my new play The Fickle Mistress at Dixon Place, featuring OBIE winners Everett Quinton and Jan Leslie Harding, and starring downtown diva Molly Pope

* directed Angie Pontani’s Burlesquepades at Soho Playhouse

* presented the biggest, best edition yet of American Vaudeville Theatre in the prestigious New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF)

* finished my second book

* also presented SRO programs in the Brooklyn Book Festival,  NY Clown Theatre Festival and FABFest

* the usual quotidian miracles: the Villager column, the blog, speaking engagements, performances, and a couple of short silent comedy films.

Plans for the New Year include:

*  the release of my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube (with a series of public appearances and original silent comedy films to support it)

* a Palace Theatre centennial celebration

* a new burlesque comedy revue

* workshop events around my new opera (co-written with composer David Mallamud) The Curse of the Rat Man

and lots and lots of writing and performing….

I daren’t hope for a better year for me this year….and since so many had a tragic year in 2012, what I’ll be thinking about at midnight tonight is a better year for THEM (and thanking the master of ceremonies upstairs for a great 2012).

And a great 2013 for YOU. Thanks so much for reading this blog! (And for doubling your numbers once again in 2012!)

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