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Showing posts from July, 2010

The President on Sullivan Street

I've become so familiar with President Barack Obama's frequent trips to my neighborhood, such as his appearance last night at a fundraiser at Vogue Editor Anna Wintour's townhouse on Sullivan Street, that I know the routine by heart. It goes this way. In the morning, the Command and Control Center, a big white NYPD van, sets up shop nearby, followed by the arrival of hundreds of NYPD policeman, some in patrol cars, others on motorcycles or plain bikes, as well as the blue-shirted community affairs specialists. After the policeman gather to hear their instructions or check their equipment, they fan out to their designated positions. Street barriers begin to appear along the route. A policeman takes a stroll through our apartment's laundry room. For the many of us Village types of a certain age, we have flashbacks to the Vietnam War.


The neighbors go about their business, passing one another on the streets or in shops, but they will talk about the events. Shopkeepers ven…

Walking an Uncertain Wall Street: A Strolling Guide to Stops, Sleepovers, and Anxieties in the Financial District

Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress last week that the economic picture remains "unusually uncertain." What a lovely phrase. What did he mean by this? Two words beginning with "un" take a little work anyway, but the Fed Chair was trying to convey, I think, the notion that economic planning remains difficult in the face of good news arriving one minute and bad news the next. The volatility of the market, with its wild ups and downs, thwarts clarity, especially for banker types. For the consumer also, an unusually uncertain economic picture, especially with big question marks about jobs and income, can cause anxieties about future purchases and investments. Wall Street prefers certainty and quickly launched into a sell-off.

Never mind. The next day stocks rose over two hundred points, giddy with good news over corporate earnings. Expect more uncertainty and volatility ahead. As the new week of trading begins this morning, the news seems happy, …

Matisse at MoMA

A review of Matisse: Radical Invention: 1913-1917 at the Museum of Modern Art (July 18 - October 11, 2010)

The exhibition, Matisse: Radical Invention: 1913-1917, at the Museum of Modern Art (July 18 - October 11, 2010) offers a compelling case to reassess a famous painter too often and too easily taken for granted. Even the most casual of art lovers are in love with the paintings of Henri Matisse (1869–1954) - the sensual bright colors, the nudes encircled in a dance, the sumptuous French interiors, the Jazz cutouts, and his exotic decorative patterns. A good Matisse poster seems to always perk up a dull room. Looking at many Matisse can provide a quick escapist vacation whether it's a window opening to the southern coast of France or to the cliffs of Tangiers. Such a one-sided view of Matisse, however, shortchanges the artist. It's hard to remember that the artwork, so loved now, was once considered by critics to represent an affront to respectable art. The exhibit at MoMA br…

Dinner & a Movie: A Guide to NYC Movie Theaters & Nearby Bars & Restaurants

Twenty-four movie theaters and over ninety bars and restaurants are included in this selected guide for good places to dine, drink, or get a cup of coffee before or after the movies. Click on a placemark for a New York movie house, and see Walking Off the Big Apple's suggestions for a nearby place within walking distance. Some are restaurants, others are bars, and several feature that nice middle ground called "bar food."


View Dinner & A Movie: A Guide to NYC Movie Theaters & Nearby Bars & Restaurants in a larger map

A New York friend who goes to the movies all the time recently asked me about new places to try near favorite movie theaters, so this map is my elaborated answer. She was particularly interested in places near many of the cinemas specializing in independent or classic cinema, theaters like the IFC, Film Forum, Landmark Sunshine, and Cinema Village. Many of these pioneering cinemas are located downtown, and they continue to play an important part o…

A Walk from The Plaza to The Waldorf: A Guide and a Map

Update, March 1, 2017.  The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel closed February 28, 2017 for long-term renovations. See NYT story.

Walking from the historic Plaza Hotel to the equally historic Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, with stops at points of interest nearby, is so easy that the stroll can be accomplished in dress shoes or in the highest of high heels. Indeed, fancy shoes would be appropriate, considering the dressed-up venues along the way, if only for the sake of a little play-acting.

As anyone who has ever studied My Fair Lady or Breakfast at Tiffany's knows, affecting membership in the wealthy classes requires a few props and a tweak of the accent. Visitors may also want to tuck in their shirts. Or not. Even if you don't dress up, act like you own the place.

I've been curious of late to see if the Plaza Hotel has regained any of its older flair, being one of those people more than disappointed with its renovation. As a member of the shabby genteel, I can state with some assurance that …

Scenes from a Morning Bike Ride: A Cruise Ship, Times Square, Sidewalk Catwalk, and Fifth Avenue

There's a strange emptiness on a city morning on the 4th of July. It's a perfect time for a bike ride, as the traffic is nonexistent and the streets are wide open. The emptiness will not last long, however, as millions of residents and visitors head over to the Hudson River later today to see the fireworks show.

This morning I rode up the Hudson River Park to see the Norwegian Epic, the newly-christened cruise ship of truly epic proportions that has anchored in the Big Apple. The 4100-passenger boat, which barely cleared the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge as it made its way into New York Harbor, will serve as the main stage for the evening's entertainment.  


From there, I rode east on W. 50th Street through a quiet Hell's Kitchen (you'd think Hell would be noisier) and then on to the Theatre District. On Broadway, I turned south. Riding a bike through Times Square is one of the great pleasures of the modern metropolis.


Though the streets were quiet, the billboards and …

New York's New Adolescence and the Play Impulse in Contemporary Public Art

Sometimes I think New Yorkers have recovered their inner child. I'm not talking about the obsession with youth normally associated with the larger culture, of which the city is not exempt, but more about the signs of an emerging adolescent culture that manifest themselves in several aspects of contemporary urban life. A city inhabited by many young people who are prolonging their adolescence, as a recent article in The New York Times notes, (see essay by Patricia Cohen -"Long Road to Adulthood is Growing Ever Longer" ) will likely reflect a certain Peter Pan quality.   

The idea of perpetual childhood seems especially pronounced in food trends, like the unceasing craze for cupcakes, those pretty confections for that special boy and girl (especially those SATC girls), as well as the appetite for fried chicken, gelato on a stick, ice cream of all sorts, chocolate cake, and gourmet hamburgers and hot dogs. Outside of food, many New Yorkers resemble children at play. We ri…