Sunday, June 11, 2017

Rooftop Cinema is Just the Ticket this Summer

New York is full of surprises. Here’s something new that sounds like a fantastic way to spend a wonderful New York evening: Rooftop Cinema Club.

Just imagine a typical hot, sticky New York summer day. Your work day is over, and you just need to relax, but not more indoor recreation with stuffy artificial air conditioning and more of those burdensome four walls enclosing you. No, you want the great outdoors, the cool breezes off the river, the amazing site of New York’s incredible skyscrapers, and a great movie to relax your mind.

NY Sunset courtesy of
Sounds good, right? Well this is what Rooftop Cinema is all about. At their two great locations in Williamsburg and Midtown Manhattan you climb to the roof, settle down in a deck chair with some popcorn, bubbles and in in the case of the Midtown location, a lovely mixed drink, and watch the sunset and then a great movie. Purchase the “Rooftop Love Seat” ticket and you get a double deck chair, unlimited popcorn and bubbles, so bring someone you like along.

What movies are on the program for this summer? Here’s a partial list:

•    Vertigo
•    Hidden Figures
•    Lion
•    American Psycho
•    Moonlight
•    Raider of the Lost Ark
•    Top Gun
•    The Big Lebowski

And that’s just in June!

The two locations:

•    Midtown Manhattan: YOTEL (570 Tenth Avenue)
•    Brooklyn: East Williamsburg’s OfficeOps (57 Thames Street)

Monday, May 1, 2017

Magnetic New York: A Guide to the Greatest City in the World

In case you have been living on a deserted island for the past, let’s say, 40 years, you know that New York has been getting better in every category that makes a city great, despite many apparent setbacks along the way. More people want to live here than ever before; crime is at historic lows; the art and fashion worlds are booming here; movies and TV shows are being made here again; the foodie culture is rejoicing as restaurants are popping up in parts of town that no sane person would have even visited 25 years ago; and I’m sure we can list much more.

1873 Map of New York
This wondrous transformation is easier to see from the outside. New Yorkers are born with a deeply ingrained cynicism which can often make it hard to see the good that is all around them. Well, here is a book for them. Magnetic City: A Walking Companion to New York, by Justin Davidson, reveals the city’s current state in the greater context of its history and eternal cycles of decay, change, and renewal.

The book takes eight different areas: the Financial District, the Seaport and the Brooklyn waterfront, the World Trade Center, West Chelsea and the High Line, 42nd Street, the Upper West Side, upper Manhattan’s Sugar Hill and the South Bronx; and uses these to show New York’s remarkable ability to be reborn after decades of either crisis, catastrophe or simple irrelevance.

Davidson discusses the shocking comeback New York made after such unprecedented events as the September 11 attacks; Hurricane Sandy; the financial disaster of 2008; and other crazily significant events that did not destroy, but rather made New York better.

For anyone who loves New York City, this is a book that will validate and strengthen that love, and you’ll learn plenty along the way.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Free New York! Making Culture Available to All

New York has been recognized for decades as one of the world’s great cities. One of the things that makes it great is the easy access there is to amazing cultural, often for free or a minimal cost. Here are a few of our favorite affordable and life enhancing quintessential New York experiences.

Picture by Allie Caulfield

  • The Museum of Modern Art is one of the world’s most visited museums, for good reason. People come to see MoMA’s permanent and rotating collections which include masterpieces by Monet, Matisse and much more. The good news is that on Fridays, from 4pm to 8pm there is no entrance fee, courtesy of the Japanese clothing company UNIQLO. Come early, as you can imagine as the night progresses the crowds grow.
  • The Brooklyn Botanic Garden opens its doors to the public for free on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 10am to 12 pm, and a few other special days throughout the year, for absolutely no charge. The garden is located in Prospect Park, and has an amazing Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden, a wonderful Cherry Esplanade, a Shakespeare Garden, and Cranford Rose Garden, and many others.
  • The Federal Reserve Bank offers a free one hour tour which is mind boggling. Travel down five stories below street level to get a glimpse of the largest stash of gold reserves in the world: 7,000 tons worth. You learn all about how the Federal Reserve System works, and come away feeling enlightened about a topic that can be as confusing as it is important. The tours are popular, so you might need to reserve your place as much as 30 days in advance, but don’t miss this fun New York experience.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Ice Has Never Been Like This: Check Out the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival

You can still participate in the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival. This great winter celebration is in its 120th year, and features some amazing massive ice sculptures that will blow your mind. Most remarkable, however, is the huge ice palace, built with the efforts of 100 inmates of the nearby prison. This celebration of winter is unique, and its worth the drive from the city. Check it out in this video. The Celebration continues through February 12.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Way Off the Beaten Path

New York is full of wonders. Here is a short selection of places around town that are worth a visit.

Trinity Church Cemetery (Trinity Church) Photo by Gryffindor
The Strangest Gravestone in Trinity Church: From 1846 when it was built, until 1890, Trinity Church was the tallest building in New York. Reaching to a height of 280 feet, it was finally overtaken after over 40 years by the New York World Building. The church is built adjacent to New York’s oldest graveyard, containing the oldest carved gravestone, that of Richard Churcher. The five-year-old died in 1681. Not far from Churcher is the city’s strangest gravestone, that of James Leeson. He was an innkeeper and mason, and died in 1794. His stone is carved with mysterious symbols across the top. It was many years before anyone could figure out what those weird markings symbolized until someone finally understood that the markings were written in obscure masonic “pigpen” cypher. The mystery was solved and the inscription simply reads, “REMEMBER DEATH.”

Meet the Real Winnie the Pooh: In the Children’s Center of the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue is something special to anyone who has ever been, or still is, a child. The real Winnie the Pooh, the stuffed bear purchased by A.A. Milne for his son Christopher is on display, along with his companions Eeyore, Piglet, Kanga and Tigger. Pooh Bear was bought in Harrods in London in 1921, and then presented as a gift to the library by Milne’s American publisher E.P. Dutton in 1987, along with the other beloved characters from the Hundred Acre Woods.

The Walk of Fame: Move over Hollywood Boulevard! New York has its very own star-studded street, located at Theater 80, St. Mark’s Place, East Village. Opened in 1971 by ex-actor and movie fan Howard Otway, Theater 80 showed films from the 1930s to the 1950s, Hollywood’s Golden Age. On opening night Otway asked a few film stars to a fancy party and then to leave their hand and footprints in softened cement, along with their signatures on the sidewalk right outside the theater. Go take a look and see the prints of d Dom DeLuise, Joan Crawford, Myrna Loy and Gloria Swanson. Some others, like that of Joan Rivers, came later. 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Museum Mania is Another Name for New York

Photo by Gary Bembridge
I have no idea if New York has more museums than any other city in the world, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the Big Apple holds that distinction, or at least comes close. No matter what you love, there is a museum for it here in this city that never sleeps.

From the most famous, such as the Guggenheim to the Met, and to the least mentioned like Dyckman Farmhouse, the Museum at Eldridge Street, and even the titillating Museum of Sex, there is a museum here for you.

Let’s just explore a few of my favorites:

  • ·       The New York Hall ofScience: Bring the kids and have a blast. The museum houses more than 450 interactive exhibits designed to draw visitors of all ages and backgrounds into the amazing world of science. Between March and December there is an outdoor Science Playground covering 30,000 square feet. Located in Queens at 47-01 111th Street.
  • ·        Fraunces Tavern: This off-the-beaten-track museum is a complex of five buildings containing nine galleries. You will see American history come to life here when you visit the famous Long Room, the place where George Washington took his leave from his officers of the Continental Army on December 4th, 1783. The world’s largest collection of John Ward Dunsmore paintings are housed here, along with many fascinating relics from the days of Colonial America. Located at 54 Pearl Street at the corner of Broad.
  • ·        The Skyscraper Museum: Nothing says New York better than “Skyscraper,” and this is the place to learn all about that amazing advancement in engineering and urban settlement. Located gorgeously at the foot of Manhattan near Battery Park, this museum is itself a design achievement. There is a contemporary gallery of architecture by architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, any admirer of modern architecture will appreciate what this museum has to offer. Located at 39 Battery Place.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Supporting Communism Through Art: A Look at the 1930s Intersection of Politics and Art

"An old sailor snapped in Jackson Square, New Orleans"
by photographer Ben Shahn (1898-1969). For United States Resettlement Administration.
The 1930s were a tough time for society. In the aftermath of the devastation called World War I, the economic disaster known as the depression, and the geopolitical turmoil shaking the planet, it is no wonder that many artists were part of the movement to find a solution within the communist revolution.

Some of the best known of these communist supporting artists were Alice Neel, Stuart Davis and Ben Shahn. These artists, and others, often created art in the service of the cause of communism and the Communist Party, USA.

The ideology of communism preached that art needed to be freed from its formalist “bourgeois decadence.” Nevertheless, as a codeword for cubism, “formalism” still found its way into the work of these artists, in particular, Neel and Davis. These artists never completely sacrificed their artistic intelligence on the altar of political didacticism. To a lesser extent this was also true of their fellow artists, who are much less known.

The works of about twenty of these artists are now on display, including Neel, Davis and Shahn, at a new exhibition entitled “You Say You Want a Revolution: American Artists and the Communist Party,” at the Galerie St. Etienne, which takes a little explored look at this troubled time in history.

The Galerie St. Etienne is located at 24 West 57th Street. Entrance is free. 11am-5pm every Tuesday-Saturday until February 11, 2017.