- - Monday, April 30, 2012

Bruce Springsteen closed out the first weekend of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival with a 2 1/2-hour show that combined crowd-pleasers such as “Born to Run” with the cover tune of his new CD, “Wrecking Ball.”

Fans began staking out spots when the fairgrounds opened at 11 a.m. Sunday, rushing from the entrance gates to spread blankets and set up chairs close to the stage. By the time Mr. Springsteen stepped on stage fans were stretched around the fairgrounds track, some standing 10 to 12 people deep.

At one point, New Orleans blues legend Dr. John took the stage with Mr. Springsteen, joining him on “Something You Got.”

Designer Louboutin defends suit over distinctive red soles

Would a red-soled stiletto by any other name than Christian Louboutin look as sweet? Certainly not for the luxury French shoe designer, who passionately defended his court battle to protect his famous glossy red-soled shoes Monday.

Mr. Louboutin was in London to open a museum exhibition marking his brand’s 20th anniversary, talking to reporters about his inspirations and his rise to global success. But he also hit out at fellow French fashion house Yves Saint Laurent and its parent company PPR, whom he is suing for trademark infringement in a U.S. federal appeals court. A panel of judges has yet to issue a decision.

“What PPR does via Yves Saint Laurent is breaking my trademark, which I find incredibly offensive,” Mr. Louboutin told the Associated Press.

Mr. Louboutin’s lawyers have compared his shoe trademark to a similar one held by Tiffany & Co. for blue boxes — sparking a wider debate on whether a designer can own a color.

The 49-year-old designer, dressed in a red tweed jacket, jeans and steel-toed leather shoes he designed, argued that his rivals are wrong to accuse him of trying to monopolize the color red.

“I do not own a color. I own a specific color in a specific place,” he said of his shoes’ distinctive soles.

A lower U.S. court had rejected a request by Mr. Louboutin to stop the sale of YSL shoes that are red all over, including the soles.

Mr. Louboutin’s shoes are among the world’s most recognizable fashion items, and have been worn by celebrities from Angelina Jolie to French first lady Carla Bruni.

‘Three Cups of Tea’ lawsuit tossed out by federal judge

A federal judge on Monday dismissed claims of fraud and racketeering against “Three Cups of Tea” author Greg Mortenson as “imprecise, flimsy and speculative.”

U.S. District Judge Sam Haddon rejected the civil lawsuit filed by four people who bought Mr. Mortenson’s books.

They claimed Mr. Mortenson lied in his best-selling books “Three Cups of Tea” and “Stones Into Schools” so that he and publisher Penguin Group (USA) could sell millions of books and raise tens of millions of dollars for the charity Mr. Mortenson co-founded, the Central Asia Institute.

The plaintiffs claimed racketeering, fraud and deceit by Mr. Mortenson, co-author David Oliver Relin, Penguin and Central Asia Institute, saying they conspired to build Mr. Mortenson into a false hero to raise money.

Mr. Haddon wrote in his ruling that their lawsuit fell short because it did not identify the racketeering activity and failed to identify each defendant’s role in the alleged fraud.

“CAI is invigorated with the court’s ruling today. Greg is on his way to Pakistan. Our dual mission continues unabated,” said Anne Beyersdorfer, the charity’s interim executive director.

Opera News Awards given to Sellars, four singers

Director Peter Sellars has won a special award along with four of the world’s best singers.

On Sunday, the prestigious Opera News Awards went to the American theater wiz, and to Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky, German soprano Anja Silja, Swedish baritone Peter Mattei and Finnish soprano Karita Mattila.

Mr. Sellars said he “took the starch out of the Bugs Bunny version of opera” — with productions like the wrenching story of how the nuclear bomb was created in composer John Adams‘ Grammy Award-winning “Doctor Atomic.”

With his trademark hair shooting straight up, Mr. Sellars accepted the award at Manhattan’s Plaza hotel.

“Nothing in my life prepared me for this ballroom,” the Pittsburgh native deadpanned to the bejeweled fans, including Princess Madeleine of Sweden.

For the seventh year, the opera magazine honored stars of an art form that still expresses today’s emotions, “here and now,” said the director, who once set Wagner in an abandoned American Airlines terminal and Mozart with props including switchblades, guns, and drugs, and waist-up nudity.

Opera, he said, “is the deep end of the pool, where we get real,” and the top singers “take this and transform it into something beautiful … things we care about most.”

Punk pioneer Ian MacKaye gets surprise 50th party

Friends and fans of Washington punk pioneer Ian MacKaye conspired this weekend to throw a surprise 50th birthday party for him.

Mr. MacKaye was the frontman for influential punk bands Minor Threat and Fugazi and co-founded Dischord Records in 1980.

WTOP reports that his wife, Amy Farina, and former bandmate Jeff Nelson threw the party that was called “a heavily guarded secret.”

It was held at Saint Stephen & Incarnation Church in Columbia Heights with no alcohol and only vegetarian snacks. Mr. MacKaye is a vegan and advocate of the “straight edge” lifestyle, abstaining from alcohol, drugs and even caffeine.

The term was coined by Minor Threat with their song “Straight Edge.”

Compiled from Web and wire reports

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