Sunday, May 27, 2007

Power Napping in the City

A friend recently asked if I ever got tired, given my go go go schedule of events around New York City, and I 'fessed up to the occassional nap. In honor of a lazy Memorial Day, here are some NYC short snooze tips:

Powernaps at Yelo
Feeling worn out after a midtown runaround, I plunked down $12 to take a 20 minute powernap at Yelo. They offer sleep therapy (aka, a nap) in futuristic YeloCabs, with a zero gravity chair, aromatherapy, relaxing audio and a simulated sunrise to awaken you. Combine your snooze with reflexology to melt away even more tension. Personally, I found the whole thing a little weird, but in New York you are rarely near your couch so this makes some sense.

Sunbathing in Central Park
The vast and gorgeous Central Park offers many pristine settings for the perfect nap. Sheep Meadow is where many sunbathers spread out their beach towels, but I prefer the little nooks of grass near Hernshead by the Lake. It is still New York, so be sure to keep an eye on your personal items, please.

Backrubs at Nail Salons
Probably one of the best things about New York City for this backrub junkie is that you can get a chair massage for a dollar a minute at many of the nail salons around town. So relaxing you might just start snoring.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Double Booked

Be warned. In New York City, there will be a minimum of 3 events you feel you MUST attend in a single evening. Resist becoming OCD as I do with worry over making the right choice, and accept that it is not humanly possible to be in both Times Square and the Upper East Side at the same time. If you really must, double book like I did tonight:

Jazz at Lincoln Center
Rev. Kimberleigh Jordan is at it again with programs exploring spirituality in art, this time with musicians from the Wynton Marsalis Septet at Jazz at Lincoln Center. The talk, which took place in a rehearsal space before a performance of In This House, On This Morning, explored the influence of church music on this amazing gospel jazz score. Trombonist Wycliffe Gordan and trumpeter Wess "Warmdaddy" Anderson offered joyous and spirited insights into the development of this seminal American musical creation. Unfortunately, I didn't get to hear the concert because I had to run off to my second gig....

Amy Sedaris & Andy Borowitz at Caroline's
For me, there is nothing more delightful than a brilliantly witty man, and they don't get more gawfaw giving than Andy Borowitz. So I left some great jazz to go to his show Next Week's News at Caroline's comedy club. You might know Borowitz from VH1's Best Week Ever, The Borowitz Report or his guest appearances on CNN, but I just learned he is a regular host of The Moth which makes me wuv him even more. He may be a take-no-prisoners satirist onstage, but in our chat after the show he was super sweet. Awwww.

I also wuv Amy Sedaris, but then who doesn't drool over the most untethered, fearless female humorist out there (and I mean, out there.) Her give and take-take-take with Borowitz and twisted tips on entertaining had me doubled over in a delicious hysteria. I also appreciated that she did not run screaming from me when I gushed over her after the show.

Bonus: Standing right by Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara as they told Amy Sedaris how great she was.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Flying High with Fleet Week!

You better believe this newbie hightailed it to New York City's Fleet Week to see the parade of ships and aircraft fly-over along the Hudson River. Fleet Week is the city's celebration of the sea services and a way for us to support the troops. My cohort Marcia and I stood along the river near the old WTC site, so the sailors lined up in salute as their ships sailed by. The impressive aircraft overhead added to the show. 2007 marks the 20th Anniversary of Fleet Week with many an event, so be sure to go downtown, tour a boat, run a race and hang out with some mighty attractive sailors.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Scavenger Hunt Extraordinaire

Sunday, I had my first experience with a New York City scavenger hunt. This is a unique something that folks do here, and if you ever get invited you MUST participate as it is one wild ride. Some New Yorkers have been known to spot a hunt in progress and infiltrate into the fun, and our fellow subway riders were excited by our determination. A mega-competitive spirit and a map w/ landmarks will do you well.

Here is the Deal: The Hunt Hosts (in this case, Kevin, Melissa, Susie & Roger) develop mindbending clues for various spots around town, in this case in Chelsea. A team of hunters must then rush around deciphering these hints and complete the task requested. For example, below are clues w/ [answers]:
On six two-four is mermaid's buzz [Starbucks]
North 2 taste the way it was [north 2 blocks]
Walk past flying cat to find [flying cat on wall]
The waves on which this guy is signed [Tesla plaque on Radio Waves bldg.]
Task: who remembered? [Yugoslavian American Bicentennial Cmt. put up the plaque]

Crazy, right? But there is no thrill like figuring it all out. While our team didn't win (despite resorting to bribery!) we had a blast and got to see parts of the city this newbie would never have noticed. Hats off to the organizers and the awesome party afterwards.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Saturday Night Live Season Finale!!!

My niece Carolyn was in town and my aim to be the cool auntie paid off when we got stand-by tix to Saturday Night Live. Host was Zach Braff (my niece thinks he is a bit of a hottie) and musical guest was Maroon 5 (Adam Levine, ditto). Personally, it was seeing Lorne Michaels and Darrell Hammond that got my heart a'racing.

Since it was the last show of the season, many celebs were in the audience. The cast of 30 Rock stood behind my niece, I stood next to Ivanka Trump (which made me feel really, really short), and we saw venerable announcer Don Pardo on the way out. The crowd was beyond enthusiastic & skits gut-hurting funny. SNL is the comedic cultural institution of the last three decades and I felt honored to be there.

How to Get Stand By Tix: Get up super early and stand in line at 30 Rockefeller Center on the 49th St. side under the NBC Studios sign by at least 6 am. Many online guides say the 50th st. side and also recommend arriving by 7 am, but this was not the case for us. By 6:20 am the line was already out the wazzu and I got ticket #93. Pick tix for either the 11:30 pm show taping (recommended) or the 8pm dress rehearsal. Return to the same location (they say by 10:45pm, we were there at 10:20), go inside, get in line according to number, and hold your breath hoping they have room for you. I was the LAST PERSON to be seated, getting a special office chair next to the sound dude.

Standby tix do not guarantee admission, so unfortunately some folks where turned away. But not the adorable newlyweds behind us, there on a mad dash to experience unique-to-NYC outings before moving to Chicago. Which brings up another recommendation-talk to folks in line next to you. You will get the most wonderful stories!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Million Dollar Sales at Sotheby's

New York City's best kept secret on freebie entertainment? The auctions at Sotheby's. Heck, they even serve free coffee and bottled water! But buyer beware: the day ain't free if you raise your blue paddle to vie for exquisite art and collectibles. At the recent Contemporary Art Day Sale, works by Kline, DuBuffet, Motherwell, Pollock, Albers, Guston, Mitchell, Calder and of course Warhol (one of his soup cans, no less!) were on the block. The night before a Rothko sold for a record breaking $72.84 million - the highest for any contemporary art at auction. I did get to witness the excitement of $2.3 mil sale of a Frank Stella, and once those bids get up over a million you better believe the crowd hushes down.

The auctioneer was a handsome French-accented hottie, the crowd dressed in high-end artsy wear (best shoes & eyeglasses in Manhattan) and the phone-cradling brokers for overseas bidders all resembled Ralph Lauren models. Perfect people watching at these auctions, which are open to the public so go and buy buy buy if you can.

Bonus: For great art advice, get in touch with Robert Casterline of MW Gallery in Chelsea (also Aspen & Miami), the super smart and unpretentious art dealer standing next to me. His irrepressible enthusiasm for cutting-edge contemporary art means he's in-the-know.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Memoirs, Memories

Thank gawd there are still parts of New York that are like New York, as evidenced in the Bowery on 2nd ave near 4th st. The clubs are gritty, the guys sport purple mohawks, the gals dress all sexy/funky, and piercings & tattoos are had by all. After a visit to a thrift shop & a psychic, I was in a perfectly blissed out mood, ripe for a voyeuristic night of listening to memoirs. The KGB Bar's non-fiction Pour Your Heart Out event was remarkably entertaining, as the authors' talents weren't just confined to a page. Each offered humorous and poignant material with just the right amount of punch-sometimes straight to your gut:

  • Trav S.D.: funny, quirky tale of running away from home and a seemingly menacing Ma
  • Clay McLeod Chapman: a mother's loss stirs up passionate pottery
  • Michele Carlo: hysterical and touching peek into Dad's closet contents, and the loss of culture when a great-grandma goes bye bye
  • Anthony Schneider: reflections on a constrained and reserved manner of life in South Africa

Bonus: Conversing with Ellen Perecman next to me, and learning of her work to discover and revive Yiddish theatrical gems through the New Worlds Theatre Project. Somebody fund this puppy!


As predicted, Liev Schreiber has been nominated for a TONY Award for best lead actor in a play, and it is a toss up between his riveting rant-and-roll performance in Talk Radio and Frank Langella's fully-fleshed interpretation of an ex-prez in Frost/Nixon (see my former post on this theatrical thrill). Spring Awakening leads the pack with 11 nominations so thank goodness I got tix for this Friday's show in advance. Winners will be announced on June 10, but nominations themselves are sure to drive up ticket sales and limit availability. Be enthusiastically and happily warned.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Beautifyin' the Block

UPDATE: Good thing we beautified the block. Law & Order SVU filmed here yesterday for an upcoming episode. I'm thinking block party for when that airs!

Not that our gorgeous block needs much beautifying, but a happy crowd of 76th St. residents came out on a gorgeous spring day to plant flowers & paint fire hydrants, parking lines and metal flower borders. Now the block is stunning! Great meeting a friendly bunch of neighbors & doggies, as well as getting my hands dirty in planting soil. Who said New York was all concrete jungle? Learn more about the block at Landmark 76!

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Genius Science Talk in Tribeca

It was a thrill to see geek and chic collide today with a science chitchat at the ubercool Tribeca Film Festival. Prodigies, Nobelists and Penguins: Science and Stereotypes in the Movies was a smart Q&A with the startlingly brilliant director Darren Aronofsky and the supersweet screenwriter Billy Shebar, moderated by physics prof & writer Sidney Perkowitz.

Much of today's talk focused on the very fine line between obsessive devotion to one's scientific work and outright madness, a perfect example being the protagonist Max in Aronofsky's masterwork Pi. It was a thrill for me to ask the panelists about research of the scientific specifics in film and to see if actors were encouraged to do their own investigations. In addition to praising collaboration and written resources, Aronofsky offered a great tale about watching human brain surgery with Hugh Jackman, costar of The Fountain. Shebar said much of his research came from actually talking with people about their experiences, which allows for more humanity and humor to come forth.

This has been my first ever exposure to the Tribeca Film Fest, and I'll be taking in another film tonight. The massive amount of films & events is overwhelming, so it takes much effort to pick and choose. But it is oh so worth it if you are a film fanatic. And a shout out to the admirable work done by The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and their promotion of science in media.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Stem Cells at 92nd St Y

Even before moving to NYC, people were raving to me about programs at the 92nd St Y. This beloved cultural center on Manhattan's East Side fosters physical, intellectual and spiritual health. The lectures and performances are top notch, and you can also work out there or take cool classes.

My first intro to the place was Stem Cell Research: The Way Forward sponsored by the NY Stem Cell Foundation. The line up was amazing and discussion rather... political. While I would have preferred a bit more yack yack on stem cell science as well as what is on the horizon, you couldn't have asked for a better line up of experts. Michael J. Fox gave the welcoming remarks. Kevin C. Eggan of Harvard & MacArthur Fellowship recipient, Nobel recipient Harold Varmus of Sloan-Kettering & NIH, NY lieutenant governor David A. Paterson, Susan L. Solomon of NY Stem Cell Foundation and renowned artist Chuck Close all spoke passionately about a number of related issues, moderated by WNYC's Leonard Lopate. Some notable remarks:

  • "Pure science is a good enough reason to do this research" - Chuck Close, who is confined to a wheelchair and realizes the science is unlikely to help him in his lifetime
  • "Jail is a hard place to get tenure from" - Kevin Eggan, who decided not to work in a state where stem cell research was illegal
  • "There are two types of elected officials: adult and embryonic" - Lt. Gov. Paterson, expressing frustration with some politicians' views on this research

Upcoming speakers at the 92nd St Y include Baryshnikov, Yoko Ono, Gloria Steinem and Al Gore. Check it out!