Is NYC’s Metropolitan Museum duping visitors?

The AP is reporting that a class-action lawsuit is targeting the Met for how it charges admission.

The story begins:

Before visitors to the Metropolitan Museum of Art can stroll past the Picassos, Renoirs, Rembrandts and other priceless works, they must first deal with the ticket line, the posted $25 adult admission and the meaning of the word in smaller type just beneath it: “recommended.”
Many people, especially foreign tourists, don’t see it, don’t understand it or don’t question it. If they ask, they are told the fee is merely a suggested donation: You can pay what you wish, but you must pay something.
Confusion over what’s required to enter one of the world’s great museums, which draws more than 6 million visitors a year, is at the heart of a class-action lawsuit this month accusing the Met of scheming to defraud the public into believing the fees are required.

What do you think? Have you visited the Met recently? What did you pay?

Why you know someone in a band: The Capital Region is dense (but not popular) with music

To control for the effects of population, this map (above) shows the distribution of musical acts per 10,000 people. Note how dark it is in and around Albany. From

Richard Florida, who coined the term creative class — about how the development of cities can be dependent upon the rise of a class of professionals involved in creative industries — recently published a study in the Atlantic Online about the most popular music scenes in the U.S. (A hat tip to my colleague Leigh Hornbeck to pointing me to this map on the Idiotsbeingidiots blog.)

Florida’s post offers four maps:

  • Raw Number of Musical Acts (LA is on top, followed by NYC and Chicago)
  • Density of Musical Acts per 10,000 (This is the map above, with LA on top, followed by Napa, Calif., and Las Vegas — the Albany metro area comes in ninth)
  • Music Popularity Index (in millions) This comes from MySpace data in 2007 (!) and has LA, NYC and Atlanta in the top 3
  • Popularity Index per Capita (Nashville tops this list, followed by LA and Atlanta)

The article states that the data come from MySpace in 2007, so it can be out of date. Florida writes:

In early 2007, at the peak of the site’s popularity (it had more visitors than Google at the time), my team at the Martin Prosperity Institute (MPI) and I organized and collated information on the more than three million artists that were listed. We cleaned the data, organizing it by location, popularity (as reflected by fans, plays, and page views), and key musical genres. Overall, we were able to code almost two million acts to metro areas.

It is stunning that Albany area is so highly ranked in the density of musical acts with 154 for 10,000 people.

Now this doesn’t mean the city of Albany, but the metropolitan statistical area, which includes the four counties of the Capital Region (Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga Springs and Schenectady) and more than 800,000 people. But if the math is correct, and you take that 154 per 10,000 and apply it to a population of 800,000, that means in 2007 there were 12,320 musical acts in the Capital Region.

To me this study, and Albany’s rank in it, means a few things:

  • It confirms what I’ve long suspected and what other data, like a  recent Preview survey, has said: going to see music is one of the top entertainment activities in the region.
  • Many of the people who go to see musical acts are also involved in their own musical act.
  • New technologies have made it easier than ever for people to create, record and distribute music, and this region is a vibrant place for that creation.
  • Despite all of this vibrancy, the music doesn’t have much of a reach, in that it doesn’t rate highly on the popularity index. That could mean that not enough people are hearing the music being created in this area, because the new tools for recording and distribution aren’t enough to make it big in the music world, if Albany has to compete with Nashville and LA, for example. Then again, it could also mean that the music isn’t all that good.
  • It also means that, with so many musical acts, that you, dear reader, likely know at least one person who plays music in a band, if not several,

What’s your take on this data?

Times Union launches Preview reader survey

The views and opinions of our audience are very important to us. So we look to you, our most devoted readers, to tell us what you value about Preview and what you would like Preview to be in the future.

Please take a few minutes to share your thoughts at before Monday, Oct. 15.

Everyone who completes the survey can enter into a drawing to win a $50 gift card to Regal Theaters and a $50 American Express gift card so you can enjoy dinner and a movie.

SPAC plans new routine

Saratoga Performing Arts Center Chairman of the Board Susan Phillips Read, center, listens to Marcia J. White, President and Executive Director, left, speak during a SPAC board meeting at the Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce, on Oct. 4, 2012 in Colonie, NY. Ed Lewi is at right. (Philip Kamrass / Times Union)


As the Saratoga Performing Arts Center looks toward welcoming two new dance companies next summer and returning the New York City Ballet to a two-week season in 2014, the organization reported essentially flat attendance and modest income gains for classical programming during its 2012 season.

The City Ballet and its longtime resident sibling at SPAC, the Philadelphia Orchestra, over the summer each drew audiences about 4 percent smaller than in 2011. Their attendance was approximately 35,000 and 34,000, respectively, according to figures released by SPAC at Thursday’s meeting of the SPAC board of directors.

The ballet company’s ticket income for its two-week July residency was about $991,000, an increase of 6 percent, while the orchestra generated approximately 7 percent more ticket revenue, about $970,000 over three weeks in August, the board learned at the meeting, held at the Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce office. Continue reading

Sherman Hemsley, 74, dies

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Sherman Hemsley, who is best known for his role in the TV sitcom “The Jefferson,” has died. He was 74 years old.

Early reports from TMZ say the El Paso, Texas, resident died at home of natural causes.

Hemsley’s character George Jefferson first came to prominence through the sitcom “All in the Family” in the early 1970s. “The Jefferson” spun off of “All of the Family” two years after the characters were introduced, and “The Jefferson” ran for 11 seasons.

A 1999 Times Union article by Mark McGuire listed George Jefferson, the character Hemsley played as No. 80 on the list of 100 all-time best TV characters.

Isabel Sanford, who played George Jefferson’s wife, Louise “Weezie” Jefferson,  had died in 2004.

Here is a link to a more complete obituary:

In the library of historic cookbooks

The Guardian has a fun story about a great cookbook collection.

Housed in his chefs’ academy in a quiet south-west London backstreet, the library is a modern space, lit by huge windows and with a ceiling high enough that you could imagine clouds forming. Nearly 6,000 cookbooks stretch along the shelves, taking in seven languages, half a dozen centuries and a staggering diversity of subjects. Some of the ingredients in Mosimann’s older books are fairly unappealing. Boiled cow’s udders jump out from Meg Dodd’s 17th-century book, Cookery: A Practical System of Modern Domestic Cookery, sliced and served with tomato or onion sauce, unless you would prefer them simmered and salted, served cold with oil and vinegar.

Among the earliest handwritten recipe collections in English was The Forme of Cury (cury meaning cooked food, derived from the French cuire – to cook), compiled around 1390 by a master cook to Richard II to show readers how “to make common pottages and common meats for the household, as they should be made, craftily and wholesomely”. A decade earlier, Guillaume Tirel, chef to the French royal family, produced the first known French cookbook, Viandier. Original copies no longer exist, although an 18th-century version of The Forme of Cury is available on Amazon and you also can download it free from

England’s entry into the printed cookbook stakes occurred in 1500, when Richard Pynson – one of the first English printers – published The Boke of Cokery [sic], though it was thought to be lost until a copy reappeared in 2002 during a clearout by the Marquess of Bath at Longleat House.

Goodbye, Frank Bascombe?

The Washington Post reports that Richard Ford won’t be returning to the fictional mindscape of the New Jersey hero who garnered him a Pulitzer Prize.

Ford has made it plain that a fourth book that would take his protagonist beyond his “Permanent Period” and into his sunset years isn’t in the cards.

“I’ve ruled it out as much as I’ve ruled anything else out. I won’t ever get married again. I’ll always be married to the same girl. And I don’t think I’ll ever write another Frank Bascombe book,” Ford said in an interview at his home overlooking Linekin Bay.