Now: April 2008

What’s happening this month, from the world’s biggest lighting show to, inevitably, Tax Day.

Now: April 2008
Lounge chairs | Courtesy of Kartell Lounge chairs | Courtesy of Kartell
Week 1

tuesday, april 1
Right of the Dial: The Rise of Clear Channel and the Fall of Commercial Radio
By Alec Foege


If you’ve ever overpaid for concert tickets or bemoaned the glut of advertising on the FM dial, this profile of Clear Channel Communications — the media giant that owns billboards, promotes music, and operates more U.S. radio stations than anyone else — will help you understand why. Alec Foege chronicles in exhaustive (and occasionally exhausting) detail Clear Channel’s rise from a single radio station in San Antonio to the behemoth it is today and concludes that “capitalism nearly snuffed out creativity.” The book’s few bland moments are worth wading through to reach the juicy tales of “good ol’ boy” nepotism and the sharp insights into a profit-obsessed business nicknamed “Cheap Channel.” — Bianca Bosker

wednesday, april 02
Exhibition of Inventions

Do you ever feel as if you’re Rube Goldberg reincarnated? Then step out of the garage and reveal your wondrous creation to the world. Some 750 inventors from 45 countries will gather for five days in Geneva, hoping to be among the 45% of exhibitors whose creations are picked up by distributors and investors. Gizmos at last year’s fair ranged from the practical (an advanced narcotics screening test) to the pointless (a spring-loaded fishing hook for beyond-lazy anglers). Anne Loertscher, the show’s assistant manager, says that any gadget can be displayed as long as it hasn’t been shown at the exhibit before, has a patent — and “isn’t solely used for violence.” — Theunis Bates

thursday, april 03
BaselWorld 2008 and the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie
Basel and Geneva

Wrist-candy junkies get their annual fix when the world’s watch industry meets at BaselWorld, a weeklong fair for the masses with more than 2,000 exhibitors, and the invitation-only SIHH, which opens April 7 and features 16 luxury brands. Both shows share a spirit of innovation. “It’s our chance to show off all the creativity you can put into such a small thing,” says BaselWorld attendee Stephen Urquhart, global president of Omega, which will tout its new James Bond watch. At SIHH, Roger Dubuis will debut its $600,000 Excalibur 45 0829, whose most notable feature is a low chime that indicates the time so you don’t even have to look at your wrist. That neatly captures the challenge for watchmakers today: how do you deliver excitement — and utility — in a BlackBerrying-while-driving world? “Forget about technology and design,” says Milton Pedraza, CEO of the Luxury Institute, an industry observer. “What’s the emotional hook for me to own a timepiece when I don’t need one to know the time?” — David Lidsky

friday, april 04
Shine a Light
Directed by Martin Scorsese


Call it “geriatrock”: America is hearing it everywhere, from concert arenas — the Rolling Stones broke revenue records with its “A Bigger Bang” tour, which grossed more than $500 million — to the Super Bowl, where the last four half-time acts (Tom Petty, Prince, the Stones, Paul McCartney) averaged 60 years old. Now Martin Scorsese’s new Stones documentary, Shine a Light, packed with archival footage and scenes from two 2006 concerts at New York’s Beacon Theatre, aims to cash in on our devotion to aging rockers in tight pants. Look for a cameo by Bill Clinton, who celebrated his big 6-0 with Jagger & Co. Keith Richards’s onstage advice for the former prez: Stop counting. — Ellen Gibson

sunday, april 06
Light + Building

This biennial, which bills itself as “the world’s biggest innovation platform for lighting,” puts the sector’s smaller trade shows into the shadows. (Lightfair, we’re talking about you.) At this illuminating mecca, one can gape at walls glowing in kaleidescopic colors or cool-to-the-touch, 50,000-hour-battery LEDs. When the sun goes down, a festival called Luminale will fill the city and surrounding countryside with fantastically trippy lightscapes. Light + Building seems to bring out the inner moth in people: Attendance is set to hit 135,000 light lovers during the six-day, gazillion-watt event. — Kate Rockwood

Week 2

thursday, april 10
Tee Up
The 2008 Masters
Augusta, Georgia

The winners here aren’t always expected — and they aren’t just the golfers. When Zach Johnson grabbed last year’s green jacket, it won him $1.3 million in prize money and instant fame — and earned his sponsors free airtime. Accounting firm RSM McGladrey, whose logo Johnson wears on his shirt, netted an estimated $1.7 million of TV exposure in the final round alone, according to Joyce Julius Associates; not a bad return for a company that spent no more than $250,000 in 2007 on Johnson’s endorsement contract. — Jeff Chu

friday, april 11
National Association of Broadcasters Show
Las Vegas


Old and new converge at this year’s weeklong NAB show, the annual conclave of audio and video content creators and distributors. Bob Barker — who, in his 35 years as host of The Price Is Right, pioneered such cutting-edge technologies as the corded mic and the Plinko chip — will come on down to be inducted into the association’s Hall of Fame. As for the future, a central topic of discussion will be broadcast TV’s move to digital next February, which will mean that anyone with an analog set will need a converter box to catch Andy Rooney’s inevitable rant about the problem with converter boxes. — EG

saturday, april 12
All American Football League debuts

“The fandemonium of a college rivalry doesn’t exist anywhere else,” says Keenan Davis, COO of the All American Football League, a new pro-football startup. So rather than offer a simulacrum of the pseudo-NFL leagues that have failed before, the AAFL — whose first two games kick off on April 12 — is trying to tap into collegiate passion. Its teams are in pigskin hubs: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Michigan, Tennessee, and Texas. Teams will play in college stadiums on Saturdays, their colors riff on university ones, and there are no nicknames, blurring the line between the college program and the AAFL. The league hopes that the net effect is a hybrid — “professional college football.” The AAFL also signed up InService America, the faith-based marketing group credited with making The Passion of the Christ a hit. “Jesus Christ and football run one-two in Southerners’ hearts,” Davis says. Touchdown? Hallelujah! — DL

Week 3

tuesday, april 15
Hard Rock Park
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

First, they sold burgers and T-shirts. Then came casinos. Now the Hard Rock folks are moving into theme parks, with the new 140-acre, $400 million Hard Rock Park. There’s a giant guitar-shaped pier, but the pièce de résistance is Led Zeppelin: The Ride, a 15-story rock-and-roller coaster that zips along at 65 mph with “Whole Lotta Love” blasting. Some kid-friendly attractions and eateries have not-so-kid-friendly names. Does your toddler want to go to the Magic Mushroom Garden first, or to the Cod Piece for fish and chips? Tickets are $50 a day “for children of all ages”; whether you’re 4 or 84, you pay full price to rock out. — KR

tuesday, april 15
The Endless City
Edited by Ricky Burdett and Deyan Sudjic


What will the city of the future look like? In 2004, the London School of Economics launched the Urban Age Project to answer that question by exploring six cities of the present: New York, Shanghai, London, Mexico City, Johannesburg, and Berlin. This doorstopper contains 510 pages of the project’s findings, along with lavish photographs and enough charts and graphs to please any urbanist geek. There are also essays by Rem Koolhaas — whose writing is as dense as a Mumbai city block — as well as Jacques Herzog and Pierre De Meuron, the resident Jeremiahs, who write that “all cities have one thing in common: their decline and ultimate disappearance.” — JC

tuesday, april 15
Read More
The White Tiger
By Aravind Adiga

In this sensational first novel, one Balram Halwai relates the tale of his own journey from an impoverished boyhood in India’s “dark” interior to entrepreneurial success in Bangalore, epicenter of his country’s IT boom. Horatio Alger this is not: Our hero bootstraps his way from servitude to economic empowerment via acts of ruthlessness and, as he confesses in the first chapter, the murder of his trusting — if corrupt — employer. Balram is a seriously charming sociopath, however; as he guilelessly relates the events that led to the crime, it’s hard not to read the deed itself as the triumph of entrepreneurial pluck over crony capitalism. A fascinating glimpse beneath the surface of India’s economic miracle, you’ll never think of “creative destruction” the same way again. — Scott Medintz

wednesday, april 16
Salon Internazionale del Mobile
Milan, Italy

One of the world’s most important design launching pads, the six-day Milan furniture fair gets bigger every year. (A record 270,000 attendees turned up for the 2007 edition.) So do the new ideas and designs on display there. This year, watch for a widening of — and plenty of buzz about — the chasm between designers following the function-focused “supernormal” school championed by Britain’s Jasper Morrison and Japan’s Naoto Fukasawa, and those who adhere to the over-the-top, bigger-is-better “maximalist” philosophy advocated by the Netherlands’ Marcel Wanders and Studio Job. If you’re more interested in sales than in chatter, look to companies that deal in the sensible middle ground, such as Poltrona Frau, Cassina, and Kartell (which will debut its “Hi Cut” chairs, above right, designed by Philippe Starck with Eugeni Quitllet). They’ll be the ones busiest rack-ing up orders. — Tim McKeough

thursday, april 17
Millionaire Fair
Kortrijk, Belgium


Unsure what to buy the tycoon or heiress in your life? Head to the medieval Flemish city of Kortrijk, an hour’s drive from Brussels, and check out this annual supermarket for the superrich. The Bugatti Veyron — which averages a stunning 8 miles per gallon in the city — goes for $2 million. A slightly more modest option: a manservant trained by the Netherlands’ elite International Butler Academy, whose salary runs between $50,000 and $150,000 a year, depending on the level of your personal Jeeves’s experience. The fair’s first evening is a VIP gala open only to wealthy invitees, but less-loaded folk can get a glimpse of how the other one-half of 1% live (and shop) between noon and 9 p.m. on each of the next three days. — TB

Week 4

wednesday, april 23
Go to the Movies
Tribeca Film Festival
New York

It’s a gloomy irony: The Tribeca Film Festival, which runs through May 4, generates big bucks for businesses in Lower Manhattan — that’s what it was set up to do, after all — but the fest itself is stuck in the red. This year is belt-tightening time for the TFF, which loses $1 million annually. It’s scaling back its program, centralizing events at two “hubs,” and reducing tickets for evening and weekend screenings to $15. One buzzed-about film this year is Lou Reed’s Berlin, which documents a five-night orchestral performance by His Raspiness of one of the darkest albums ever made. Reed recorded Berlin in 1973, but it was such a commercial failure that he didn’t perform it live until 2006. You know the moral of the story: When it comes to art, success is rarely measured by profit. For the festival, though, breaking even couldn’t hurt. — EG