Thursday, January 4, 2018

The Armory Puts the New in New York

The Park Avenue Armory is a less-well-known venue for all sorts of entertainment and cultural events in New York City. It is in many ways a non-conventional space for many non-traditional visual and performing artists. This non-conventionality has been going on since 2007, and in 2011 the New York Times noted about the Armory that, “Park Avenue Armory…has arrived as the most important new cultural institution in New York City.”

The Armory has a long and unique history. It was built as a location for the well-heeled Seventh Regiment of the National Guard, the original volunteer fighting force which responded to President Abraham Lincoln’s outcry for soldiers in 1861. The regiment included some of New York’s most prominent families, such as the Vanderbilts, Roosevelts and Harrimans.

The building served both functions of social club and military facility. Designed by the leading artists and interior designers of the day, the Armory’s central 55,000 square-foot drill hall is one of the largest open spaces of its kind in New York City today. It was a marvel of engineering technology, designed by Regiment veteran and architect Charles W. Clinton who later went on to design the Apthorp Apartments and the Astor Hotel, which was later torn down.

Guided tours of the Armory are available at a variety of times, and can also be arranged for groups.
Coming events include:

Yerma: March 23-April 21, an updated play based on the 1934 drama by Federico Garcia Lorca.

Myriad: May 22-24, “Oneohtrix Point Never's myRiad is a hyperstitial “concertscape” imagined from the perspective of an alien intelligence that explores disorienting relationships between space and sound and mutates forms of live musical performance.”

The Let Go: June 7-July 1, is a dance-based town hall commissioned by the Armory. Nick Cave, the creator, will present a hybrid installation, performance, gathering and dancing environment.

And that is just a sample. For more performances check the Armory’s website.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

One of New York’s Newest Architectural Wonders: The Oculus

The Oculus. Photo courtesy of Anthony Quintano
The tragic and horrifying day of September 11, 2001 will never be forgotten by anyone old enough to form memories on that day, and especially for New Yorkers and anyone who happened to have been in New York on that fateful, terrible day.

Over 16 years have passed, and unbelievably, there is already a new generation arising that was not born when 9-11 occurred. But there are plenty of ways New York and its inhabitants are commemorating the earth-shattering event, and many of them involve beauty, innovation, and a certain amount of wonder.

If you haven’t seen “The Oculus” it's time to go and be transported, literally and figuratively. Transported literally since The Oculus is the centerpiece of the new World Trade Center Transportation Hub. This site brings together the PATH train from New Jersey with 11 MTA subway lines.

Figuratively because The Oculus looks and feels like a modern-day cathedral, begging visitors to look up and imagine a better world. There are no columns to block the view, which is an enormous expanse reaching two stories below ground. Daylight enters the space unimpeded, and a skylight is opened on certain sunny days throughout the year, including the annual commemoration of September 11.

The Oculus was designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava and is meant to resemble, from the outside, a dove in flight. Over 12 years in the making, the transit hub opened on May 4, 2016 at a cost of almost $4 billion in public money.

Despite the controversy over some aspects of the aesthetic appeal of The Oculus, it is still worth a visit. There is also ample shopping at the hub: over 100 stores in 365,000-square-feet. Whereas the previous shopping center that occupied the area before September 11, 2001 was primarily for daytime shoppers, the new mall has a busy nightlife as well.

So come for a visit to remember the past, and experience the present and rejoice for the future.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Pop-Up Concerts Bring You and Your Kids Close to the Music

Tuesday is free music night at Columbia University’s Miller Theater. The concerts are absolutely free, last one hour, and give the audience a chance to sit onstage with their complimentary drink and get right up to where the musicians are making beautiful music.
Miller Theater

On November 21st Pop-Up Concerts will be showcasing the Regional de NY, a Brooklyn-based Brazillian choro band. This ensemble strives to keep the tradition of choro alive. The music is virtuosic, and full of joy and beauty.

The group features Hadar Noiberg on flute; Vitor Gonçalves on accordion; Kahil Nayton on cavaquinho; Cesar Garabini on 7-string guitar; and Ranjan Ramchandani on percussion.

If you are available on December 11, come back for another Pop-Up Concert with your ugliest holiday sweater for some fun and great music. The Ugly Holiday Sweater Party features an all-women French horn quartet called Genghis Barbie playing the best the holiday season has to offer, in their own amazing style.

Join Rachel Drehmann (Atilla the Horn): Danielle Kuhlmann (Velvet Barbie); Leelanee Sterrett (Cosmic Barbie); and Alana Vegter (Freedom Barbie) for something new, different, and a lot of fun.

All concerts begin at 6pm with admissions on a first-come, first-served basis, with doors opening at 5:30pm.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

GCT: A Place You’ve Been but Maybe Have Never Seen

I am talking about the glorious Grand Central Terminal, an amazing place that tens of thousands of people pass through each and every day, but don’t really see. And that is a pity, because this place is spectacular.

Located in midtown Manhattan at 42nd Street and Park Avenue, the massive structure takes up two entire city blocks. It is the meeting point for the New York City subway system and the Metro-North Railroad which takes travelers to Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess counties in New York, and beyond. There are 44 platforms at the station, more than any other railway station in the world. All the tracks are below ground, with 30 tracks on the upper level and 26 more on the lower, but only 43 of the total are in use for passengers.

Grand Central terminal in New York, NY. Courtesy Wikipedia
One of the most recognizable of GCT icons is the four-faced brass clock perched atop the information booth. It was designed by Henry Edward Bedford and cast in Waterbury, Connecticut.  The clock faces are made of opalescent glass, also known as opal glass or milk glass. Although it is quite beautiful, it is different than the semi-precious stone known as opal.

The ceiling was conceived in 1912, a year before the terminal opened in 1913, by architect Whitney Warren, with his friend French portrait artist Paul César Helleu, The ceiling is a portrayal of the night sky full of stars and is supposed to be an accurate depiction of the heavens, but is inaccurate, but in a complex way. Although Orion is correctly portrayed, the constellations of Gemini and Taurus are reversed both internally and in their relation to Orion. The mistake was noted almost immediately by a commuter back in 1913, but the mistake has never been corrected throughout the many renovations the ceiling has been subjected to.

There is shopping and a food hall in the station, as well as a model train exhibit at the Terminal’s transit museum. Visitors can have a free self-guided tour or even a docent led tour. Go to the ticket window labeled “GCT Tours on the Main Concourse, and have a great, or even a grand visit to this unique New York destination.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Chelsea Piers for a Great Day of Sports Fun

Bird's eye view of the Chelsea Piers. Photo courtesy Groovio
Whether you live in New York, or are just visiting, Chelsea Piers has something for you. Known as the city’s playroom, Chelsea Piers offers a vast array of sports programs, daily activities, and great ways to simply have fun.

Not ready to commit to an ongoing sports class or league? Then just experience the Pier’s drop-in activities. The following activities are available regularly:

Adult Gymnastics
Batting Cages
Health Club Day Pass- including pool
Ice Skating
Open Basketball; Hockey; Soccer
Adult and Youth Rock Climbing
Spa and Salon
Adult and Teen Parkour
Toddler Gym

Believe it or not, that is not an exhaustive list.

The facility covers over 1.2 million square feet on a series of re-purposed piers along the Hudson River on Manhattan’s West Side at 23rd Street.

Looking to play your day away? Chelsea Piers is the place to do it.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Retirees Rejoin Workforce in NYC, Lend Expertise

Senior wellness, rehabilitation and housing are rising sectors throughout the United States. In NYC alone, the senior population is expected to increase by 400,000 over the next 13 years, reaching 1.93 million. Homes, rehabilitation centers and other facilities for the elderly, such as Dry Harbor Nursing Home, work to provide their seniors with the healthcare, attention and activities they need to ensure continuous quality of life, and now New York City’s Department for the Aging is putting another plan in place to support this goal: employment. 

Hoping to recruit 175 retired New Yorkers, the department’s Civic Engagement Program will match retirees with a number of agencies who will assign participants with six to nine month projects in a wide range of fields. 

Caryn Resnick of the Department for the Aging explained: “This program provides retirees with an opportunity to give back to their city by using the skills and knowledge they have gained through their professional careers.”

Dawn Mastoridis, national marketing director of recruiting firm ReServe Inc., said: “We don’t have any problem finding reservists, particularly in New York City,” referring to qualified retirees like former CEOs, experienced school administrator and HR gurus who will return the workforce.
The reservists will be involved in a wide range of projects, ranging from data, cost and medical record analysis to health and exercise programs for people with arthritis, diabetes and hypertension.  

Friday, July 14, 2017

Channel Gardens is a Magical New York Flowering Island

Most people don’t think of gardens when they think of New York City, but one of the most surprising things about the big Apple is how many hidden gardens there are throughout the city, even in the most densely built up areas.

One of the several promenade fountains at Rockefeller Center created by Rene Chambellan - photo courtesy of the family of Rene Chambellan
One of my favorite places smack dab in midtown are the Channel Gardens at Rockefeller Center. What is especially lovely about the gardens is that the flowers and shrubs on display are constantly changing with the seasons. In the early spring you can expect to see gorgeous blankets of tulips blooming, while in the fall there might be a weeping willow forest to greet you.

The gardens are found among the 14 commercial buildings found on the west side of Fifth Avenue, in the middle of the 200-foot plaza promenade. The beautiful gardens surround six granite pools of water, each adorned with a bronze-cast fountainhead sculptures. The sculptures are of mythological creatures, designed by renowned sculptor Rene Paul Chambellan.

The sunken plaza is watched over by the bronze gilded sculpture of Prometheus, by Paul Manship. At the foot of the plaza at Fifth Avenue is Atlas, by Lee Lawrie.

If you can come visit now, be sure to take note of the tropical 8-foot-high custom dragonfly floating above the bromeliads. In winter, around the time of the holidays, you will sparkling bands of red ribbons encircling the green shrubs connecting the lovely holiday angels, which were designed in 1954 by Valerie Clarebout.

Anytime you come is the right time. Don’t miss this extraordinary New York experience.