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A portrait of the artist as a young man

Jean-Michel Basquiat

Jean-Michel Basquiat (Photo: Courtesy of Benno Friedman/Corbis Outline)

Jean-Michel Basquiat would have turned 50 years old today. One of the most influential artists of his generation, Basquiat began his career as a graffiti artist on the streets of Brooklyn in the ’70s. By the time of his death in 1988 at the age of 27, he had created hundreds of paintings that are now showcased in various museums and art galleries around the world.

Filmmaker Tamra Davis painted her own portrait of the artist in her latest documentary, “Basquiat: A Radiant Child.” I recently talked to Davis about her film and her special friendship with Basquiat.
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Photo: A red balloon and a toy gun

An Afghan refugee boy, center, points his toy gun at the photographer while playing with other boys in a neighborhood of Rawalpindi, Pakistan. Photo: AP/Muhammed Muheisen

They had a very good year

Did you ever have one of those years when you look back and think, “Wow, the sun was shining on my face for the past 365 days”? If it hasn’t happened to you, I hope it does. It happened for these folks in 2010.

Grammy favorite: Bruno Mars at the Z100 Jingle Ball in New York on Dec. 10. Photo: AP/Peter Kramer

Bruno Mars

Take 1/2 cup of Smokey Robinson, 2/3 cup Dozier Holland and add 3 tablespoons of Johnny Mathis. Then toss in 2 teaspoons of Michael Jackson and a dash of Jason Mraz, and you get Bruno Mars. This year the Puerto Rican/Filipino musician with the sweet soulful falsetto was nominated for 7 Grammy awards, including best pop vocal and in record of the year he has two songs nominated in his role as producer/writer. He also co-wrote the World Cup anthem “Waving’ Flag” with K’Naan. At just 26, Mars (real name Pete Hernandez) had what the AP called “a brilliant year.” Except for that drug bust.
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Photo: In the eye of the whale

A boy stands at the side of a life-sized photo of a sperm whale calf at a photo exhibition of works by Bryant Austin in Tokyo on Dec. 11, 2010. Photo: AP/Koji Sasahara

While diving in the Kingdom of Tonga five years ago, California-based photographer Bryant Austin was swimming 6 feet from a humpback whale calf when he felt a gentle tap on his shoulder. When he turned around, he found himself eye to eye with the calf’s mother, who had extended her 15-foot, one-ton pectoral fin to gently let him know that she was watching him. That moment, that emotional connection from mammal-to-mammal, species to species, is what Austin realized was missing from the field of whale photography. He decided to change that.

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‘Spider-Man’ grounded again for fine-tuning

Spidey fans, it looks like our superhero’s battle to make it on Broadway will be his toughest yet.

Producers of “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark,” announced today that they are delaying the production — for a fourth time. Opening night is now set for February 7, 2011, buying the show an extra month to do some fine-tuning.

Top of the list? Not the infamous technical glitches you may have read about. Those have been pretty much ironed out. Now it’s a matter of addressing the reported kinks in the story.  So the creative team is staging a new closing number, adding scenes, deleting others and rewriting lines in the ones that make the cut.

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Candid camera in Congress

All eyes — well, all wonky eyes — are on the House today where some Democrats are attempting to amend the estate-tax provision of the White House and Senate Republican tax compromise. But what if instead of watching the classic CSPAN angles (stationary shots of the Congressperson speaking or wide shots of the chamber), there were — gasp! — lawmaker reaction shots, close-ups and candid angles of the floor. The current staidness of the coverage is not all C-SPAN’s fault: Congress makes the rules about what can be shown and even owns the cameras in the chambers.
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Commerce Department calls for online ‘privacy bill of rights,’ but advocates balk

The Obama administration on Thursday issued its second major report in as many weeks calling for new rules regulating the protection of consumer privacy online, including the creation of a federal privacy office and a nationwide “Privacy Bill of Rights.” However, some privacy advocates were skeptical of the recommendations, suggesting they would give companies, not Internet users, control of consumer data.

The report, released Thursday morning by the Commerce Department, contains a set of 10 new recommendations that touch on virtually every aspect of the digital economy, from cloud computing to e-commerce to social media. The most significant of those recommendations calls for the creation of “voluntary but enforceable” codes of conduct for industry-specific activities and a broader “Privacy Bill of Rights” that would enshrine certain core privacy principles across the board, perhaps through legislation.

“This is obviously a major consumer protection issue, because people want to know that their information is going to be safe,” Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said in a conference call unveiling the recommendations. “Consumers must trust the Internet if businesses are going to succeed online.”

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Photo: The music went missing

On this day in 1944, legendary bandleader Glenn Miller disappeared while flying over the English Channel en route to France for a performance for American troops. No trace of the plane, the crew or Miller has ever been found, and his official military status remains Missing in Action.

Photo: The froze rose

Two yellow roses covered in ice protrude from a frost cloth cover at Dewars Nurseries in Apopka, Fla., on Dec. 14, 2010. The plants are sprayed with water to help protect them from below freezing temperatures. Temperatures in the region were expected to be in the upper 20s for another night. Photo: AP/John Raoux