I don't know about you, but all this talk of the economy has me feeling not at all in the holiday spirit. So I've turned off my tv and am making an effort to celebrate all I do have, and how even in tough times I can give a little. I am so blessed to live in the amazing New York City. Unfortunately, some out there are struggling. Here are some favorite places that help:
The Bowery Mission: probably one of the best known missions in town, they provide a ton of help to those in need. Programs range from shelter to food to educating men and women on how to get back on their feet.
Central Park Conservancy: to raise the spirit, sometimes there is nothing better than nature. This group keeps Central Park the gorgeous masterpiece it is.
City Harvest: rescues food to feed the hungry, and they'll arrange to pick up leftovers to distribute to New Yorkers who really need it.
God's Love We Deliver: improves the lives of children, women and men living with HIV/AIDS and other life-threatening illnesses by delivering delicious and nutritious meals.
Fresh Air Fund: this 130+ year old charity gives inner-city children the joy of a summer vacation. Be a host family or donate to help provide great memories for NYC children in need.
New York Times Neediest Cases: arguably the best paper in the world, the New York Times pays all administrative costs of this charity so that donations can go directly to troubled children, adults and the elderly, many of whom are profiled on its pages.
New York Cares: mobilizes New Yorkers into volunteerism. They also run a very successful coat drive to help keep New Yorkers in need warm.
New York Foundation for the Arts: provides NYC artists with financial assistance and publicity, and serves the artistic community with comprehensive info on employment opps, grants, and more.
North Shore Animal League: a great no-kill shelter and helps thousands of pets find new homes.
Robin Hood Foundation: targets and funds the best programs that alleviate poverty in the city to maximize their effectiveness.
And here are a few of my fav global groups that are worth supporting as well:
The Hunger Project: helps those in extreme poverty meet their basic needs and build a better life for their communities. Especially good at empowering women, this is an amazing, high-impact group.
Habitat for Humanity: builds homes for those who need them and a classic example of how to empower those less fortunate by providing permanent shelter.
Susan G. Komen for the Cure: the nation's premier organization leading the fight against breast cancer, and the group behind the amazing Komen Race for the Cure. Go pink!
The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research: my grandmother had this debilitating disease, and this great group is making real strides in finding a cure.
There are many, many others that I am sure to have missed, but you can always find more at NYCharities.org. Feel free to add more in the comments section, and Happy Holidays all!
Saturday, December 20, 2008
I don't know about you, but all this talk of the economy has me feeling not at all in the holiday spirit. So I've turned off my tv and am making an effort to celebrate all I do have, and how even in tough times I can give a little. I am so blessed to live in the amazing New York City. Unfortunately, some out there are struggling. Here are some favorite places that help:
Posted by Mary Hilton at 8:58 AM
Friday, December 5, 2008
Sunday, November 30, 2008
You are never supposed to tell another New Yorker about a great restaurant. Well, you can, but you run the risk of the place being overrun and suddenly your favorite table is always unavailable. But hey, it is tough to find a good nosh spot in this vast city, so I thought I'd jot a few down here (at the risk of ticking off my friends who recommended them. Sorry!) Would love to hear your top restaurant picks, especially on the Lower East Side or Midtown. Here are a few of my favorites:
Balthazar: 80 Spring St. 212-965-1212 (French. Amazing escargot.)
Alta: 64 W. 10th St. 212-505-7777 (Tapas. Great atmosphere.)
Cafe Asean: 117 W. 10th 212-633-0348 (casual but hip pan-Asian, with beautiful, romantic garden in the back.)
Upper West Side
Isabella's: 659 Columbus Ave. (At 77th) 212-724-2100 (American food. Iconic restaurant.)
Mermaid Inn: 658 Amsterdam Ave. (At 87/88th) 212-799-7400 (hip and happening seafood.)
Blossom: 466 Columbus Ave. (At 82nd/83rd) 212-875-2600 (great vegetarian. Also a location in the Village.)
Josephina's: 1900 Broadway (btw 63/64th) 212-799-1000 (American. Great spot near Lincoln Center.)
Banjara: 97 First Ave. (at E. 6th St.) 212-477-5956 (Indian food galare.)
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Cool stuff begets cool stuff. At Lucid NYC the other night, I saw a presentation by the viral buzz genius behind thehappycorp. He is also involved in an inspired event series LVHRD.
There is a similar premise to Lucid NYC - bring together like minded people in a way that is mind expanding, not numbing. The next happening is Monday, Nov. 24 at 8pm, something to do with on-the-spot fashion design out of material yet-to-be-determined. The event is in the mecca of hip, Williamsburg, at a mystery location. Get more info here.
Monday, November 10, 2008
There are enough social things to do on a Thursday nite in NYC to make your head spin. Most are fun, frivolous, fancy. But if you are searching for a night out that mixes the whirl of massive mingling with a drop of social enlightenment, then come to a Lucid NYC event.
Lucid NYC is a new social experiment. The model is simple - throw a party in a chic Manhattan loft space and let a few presenters onstage to gab briefly about how they are changing the world. People interface on what they have heard and are inspired to also change the world. Not too ambitious now, is it?
Luckily, Lucid NYC exists totally without pretension and holier-than-thou preachiness. Every event I've attended has an overstock of humor. Presentations have covered every topic from ending world hunger (The Hunger Project) to the world's worst automobile race (The Mongol Rally). I've learned about Freegans as well as a recent corporate innovation exercise at an NPR station. Attendees are of the hip, arty, whipsmart and enlightened variety. Let's just say its a good time.
So hope to see you at the next event, which is scheduled for November 20. Check Lucid NYC's website for more details.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
This election will mark my first time voting in NYC. I'm registered and ready. Polling places are open from 6:00 am to 9:00 pm. Here is a great link from the NYC Board of Elections with details, and you can click here to find your polling site.
Have a wonderful, history making day.
Posted by Mary Hilton at 8:50 PM
Thursday, October 23, 2008
My high school friend Karen, who lives in Florida, turned me on to this cool happening this weekend. Leave it to the hip out-of-towners to spread the word! Anyway, Photo Safaris are these fun-fabulous photo events put together by Photojojo. According to their site, (1) You bring a camera (2) You take pictures (3) You go to a gathering place and put photos in a slideshow to win prizes. This weekend's event is hosted by Jake Dobkin of Gothamist fame. Sounds cool to me.
Cost is free and upcoming NYC events are on 10/25, 11/15, 12/6. There is no need to pre-register, but because details can change at the last minute they recommend you sign up for emails. You can also read more details about each safari on Facebook.
Check it out and be creative:
Saturday, October 25th / NYC
DUMBO Street Art Photo Tour
Host: Jake Dobkin of Gothamist & Streetsy
Time: 3:30 pm (RSVP)
Meet at: York St F stop
Gee... wish I had a photo to insert in here....
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
My friend Katherine, who followed her dream of living in NYC all the way from Australia, read this passage from E.B. White and sent it along to me. It makes us both cry:
There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born there, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size, its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter--the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something. Of these trembling cities the greatest is the last--the city of final destination, the city that is a goal. It is this third city that accounts for New York’s high strung disposition, its poetical deportment, its dedication to the arts, and its incomparable achievements. Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness, natives give it solidity and continuity, but the settlers give it passion. And whether it is a farmer arriving from a small town in Mississippi to escape the indignity of being observed by her neighbors, or a boy arriving from the Corn Belt with a manuscript in his suitcase and a pain in his heart, it makes no difference: each embraces New York with the intense excitement of first love, each absorbs New York with the fresh yes of an adventurer, each generates heat and light to dwarf the Consolidated Edison Company. . . .
"Here Is New York" was written in 1948 and appears in Essays of E.B. White, Harper, 1977
Friday, September 26, 2008
I wanted to expand my New York City knowledge base and shake things up a bit socially. A friend with the most rockin' social calendar I know was a member of Quentin's Friends, and had passed me information from that list from time to time. So I asked her to sign me up, and now I feel more 'in the know' than I know what to do with. Fabulous.
Quentin's Friends is a by-invitation-only, values based online community that operates on simple principles. You post information that can be useful to others (services, events, stuff for sale) or needs of your own (apartment searching is a popular one in here) and members of the list respond. It is extraordinarily useful at times, and at the very least entertaining and mind expanding. For example, there was a recent post for web copywriting in exchange for Reiki sessions. Bartering is big on Quentin's Friends.
To become part of the group, you have to be recommended by a member. They must attest to your 'good character' and you must in turn commit to the group's core values (honesty, respect, fun, etc.) The group is great for networking as well. At a recent Quentin's Friends Party at the Star Lounge (located under the Hotel Chelsea, so cool!) I met NYC dwellers that embodied such values and were just fantastically delightful, fun, interesting people (that is the back of my head in the pic.) Oh, and the founder of it all, Quentin English? A charmer!
Quentin's Friends is an invaluable service for anyone new to New York. Get hooked up and feel connected to the human side of the city.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Free pie in Times Square! Yes, ABC is being uber-inticing in promoting Pushing Daisies, that kookily cute TV show, by driving their Mobile Pie Hole right into the heart of NYC and giving out (I'll say it again) FREE PIE.
The Mobile Pie Hole is an RV-type contraption that is traveling the country this month to kick off the second season of the show. It will be in New York on Monday, 9/29 from 7-9am, in Times Square at Good Morning America's Broadway Studios. Cutiepie waitresses will be serving up spatulas, pie-cutters and more, in addition to the main draw of, yes, free pie.
For the technically current, more details are on Yelp or Twitter. How fun?
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Beware - your free time will dwindle to obscurity in New York City. I want to update my blog regularly, really I do. But what the heck happens to that thing called 'down time' in this town? Some strange clock warp happens here, as time just whips on by with nary a dillydally. Some days I feel I blink my eyes and the day is half gone. Why is that?
The pace of New York City is headspinningly fast and frantically frenetic. The commutes around the city are often loooong, so that eats up a few hours. Work life is notoriously stress-filled, taking over a good 10+ hours in many industries. There is always some out-of-towner visiting NYC that just has to see you, gobbling up precious weekend errand-running time. And with so much happening on the cultural and night-life fronts, evenings are packed with event after event after event. If you are lucky, you could be out every night of the week.
It took me about a year to get accustomed to the pace of this town, and I still have my days. But I am in no way complaining. After a lifetime spent in boredom, oh what a wondrous whirlwind this is.
Saturday, August 9, 2008
There is the world famous New York City Marathon (I swear I'm gunna run that puppy one day) and every weekend there seems to be a charity race going on in Central Park (personally, I'm looking forward to running the Komen Race for the Cure on Sept. 14!). Basically, NYC is a running town, with plenty of opps to get your jog on.
There is an interesting new 10K race in town. On August 31, 2008, runners from around the globe will take part in the world’s largest running event, the first ever Nike+ Human Race. The goal is to get 1 million runners racing at the same time, in 25 cities around the world including Buenos Aires, Istanbul, London, Madrid, Melbourne, Mexico City, Quito, Seoul, Singapore, Tokyo and more. Since we'll all be going through Olympic withdrawal at that point, this looks like a great way to get back in the global athletic groove.
In New York City, the race will take place along the waterfront at Randalls Island beginning at 8 p.m. There is a give back aspect too, with runners supporting the Lance Armstrong Foundation, World Wildlife Federation or ninemillion.org. Sounds cool to this running New Yorker. Get more info at www.nikeplus.com.
Monday, July 21, 2008
Take a walk through Central Park and you are bound to see sights unexpected. But it is the sounds you hear that are truly startling.
Each weekend (and many a weekday) musical artists of all kinds flock to the park and congregate to jam, bam and wail in the open air. Taking a walk today in the oppressive heat, I heard African drums, super funk, New Orleans jazz, electro pop, forceful folk and world sounds. Some nights the park has offered up symphonies and sounds more classical. Most impromptu concerts are free, or solicit only a small donation, so anyone can listen in. With more musicians per square foot than just about anywhere else in the world, NYC offers a level of tune talent that amazes time and again.
Check out the Summer Stage, NY Philharmonic in the Park and other more scheduled concerts. Upcoming acts include Crosby, Stills and Nash, Mark Knopfler, and other funkier stuff that I'm just not hip enough to recognize.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
As a sometimes weary, daily NYC subway commuter, I am ever grateful for the subway musicians that break up my journey with talent I'd pay money for in a club. So it was nice to get word on a new show, MSG's NYC Sound Tracks. This eight episode series goes underground into the subways of NYC to find New York's best subway musicians. 16 musicians from all 5 boroughs will compete for the title, and the viewers will have a chance to vote for their favorite. Watch NYC Sound Tracks Sunday, July 13 at 8:00 p.m.
NYC Sound Tracks will be holding an open call on Tuesday, July 15 for underground talent from noon to 4PM at Foley Square in Lower Manhattan. The “Open Call” is a chance for any and all subway musicians to audition in public to be one the 16 finalists for the show.
For more information about NYC Sound Tracks, including more info on the open call, photos and trailers, visit www.msg.com/soundtracks. I'll be interested in checking out the winner's music - below or above ground.
Sunday, June 29, 2008
What can you say? Its the best parade with the most fabulous costumes around, dancing its way down 5th Ave. to the gay mecca that is Christopher Street. Floats galore, terrific transvestites and a crowd loud and proud, the New York City Gay Pride Parade is a delight of fun fun fun. Favorites included Wonder Woman and Super Girl, a pair of Hilton sister look alikes, and men in platform heels showing off legs better than Gisele Bundchen's. Its just not fair! Here is to celebrating the diversity and flamboyance that is New York City.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Nothing is more quintessentially New York fun and freaky than the fin-fabulous Mermaid Parade at Coney Island. Dress code ranges from Broadway quality aquatic costumes to teeny weeny bikinis on gals full figured and proud. Glitter and sea shell bras are prerequisites. The parade's cast of characters included voluptuous flesh baring pirate babes, shark finned macho men and drag queens shaking their mermaid tails. And the crowd ate it all up like fried calamari.
This year's parade had a tinge of the somber as Coney Island is under attack by yet another attempt to commercialize and commodify New York City. Talk about swimming with sharks. Looks like some in the city feel that Coney Island would do better as yet another generic shopping mall. Can we stop pouring Purell all over our city, please?
But despite the dip into the political, the day remained wacky, hot and humorous like any day at the beach should. For great images, check out New York City Daily Photo or the fingers-on-the-pulse Gothamist.
Friday, June 13, 2008
Standing Clear, a new play by Coffee Cup theater company, takes you on a subway ride without the commuter torment of the N or W line. But even if you take a cab to the theater, beware - you'll be met with a barrage of wackadoo subway staples that are the human grid of New York City public transportation.
Written by performers Ishah Janssen-Faith and Jack McGowan and created with input from the entire cast, Standing Clear is an ode to the daily here-to-there grind. You'll identify with hapless subway sheep as they are surrounded by freaks, weirdos, arguing lovers and clueless tourists. The subway shenanigans shift from poignant to horrifying to humorous smoother than the trains run, largely due to the talents of an able cast playing a diverse array of characters.
Melinda Ferraraccio, with her sharp tongued strength, plays full tilt. Becca Hackett has a real girl presence so sweet it makes you wonder if she's even acting. Jack McGowan ably juggles cute boy and fed up husband among others, and Ishah Janssen-Faith is spot on as a talks-too-much butt-in-ski that we just want to shush, and then shames you with her palpable loneliness. But it is Ben Holbrook's perfect portrayal of a not-all-there subway dude with a heroic streak that steals your heart.
While the plots and pace occasionally veer off track, it is nicely directed by Barbara Karger. The real fun of the show is the nodding laughter of recognition that bonds the audience, met as we are with clueless iPod blasters and cramped crowd choreography. Commute on down to the Access Theater at 380 Bway at White Street before Standing Clear closes on June 21, for a show we can all relate to. Tickets are $20 or $15 for students.
Bonus: There will be a talk back on June 16 at 7pm with Hollaback NYC and Girls for Gender Equity at $30 a ticket.
Sunday, June 1, 2008
Can I hear a hallelujah? Rev. Billy preached his freakalicious gospel at the Highline Ballroom this fine Sunday afternoon, compelling all to put down their credit cards and raise their hands to heaven. That is right, children, the holy spirit was among us in the form of trapeze artists, Coney Island freaks, a talented choir in green robed glory, and a message that speared your shopaholic sternum.
Friday, May 30, 2008
Dude. Tonight, there will be a rare occurrence in New York City. As I read in today's daily Metro, according to Neil deGasse Tyson of the Hayden Planetarium (located at my neighborhood hotshot American Museum of Natural History) the setting sun will perfectly align with streets north of 14th. He says to look west from First Ave., and has dubed the event Manhattanhenge.
Monday, May 12, 2008
On a day of perhaps less than optimal self esteem, (and we all have them) New York City can be a challenging place in which to feel comfortable with your body. Its the fashion capital of the world, for Gucci's sake! Models routinely prance by you on the street, all thin and six foot towering, looking chic even in sushi stained tanks and yoga sweats. Add in a few movie stars and those awesomely gorgeous gay men with cheekbones to die for, and on a bad day you can feel a bit... thick.
After a reality check, you realize that New York City is filled primarily with beautiful, fabulous, everyday type folk, with real live bodies with real live flesh covering the bones. Every body is welcomed here, especially if that self - no matter its size - is embraced from within (and being clothed in couture never hurt). I've never felt more beautiful than I do in New York City, and I am no size zero, proving that New Yorkers really aren't as into 'appearances' as those living outside its borders are led to believe.
That being said, we all want to feel our best, and for me that has meant coming to grips with my long time struggle with weight and emotional eating. No, make that scarfing. I may never have been morbidly obese, but on my 5'3" frame even a five pound gain can make me feel ginormous. To feel really confident about moving to a city I'd forever been infatuated with, yet incredibly intimidated by, I would need to lose the weight I'd packed on since my mother's death and the end of a serious relationship. Diagnosed with an underactive thyroid, my 'stuff the face to stuff the emotion' approach to pain management led to my all time high puffy state of 163 lbs. As you can see from my before photo, I was pretty uncomfortable in my stuffed Vienna sausage-like skin.
When I finally was ready to plunge into the abyss of my own weight obsessions, the only place that made sense for me to turn to was Weight Watchers. I'd heard of so many successes from friends and colleagues, and I also knew it wasn't a 'magic pill' approach to dieting (if I thought a diet capsule would work, I'd be downing those puppies by the cereal bowl-ful!) No, I knew my weight gain had to be addressed on many levels, and Weight Watchers did that for me.
First, I had to understand my relationship to food, and the meetings helped me comprehend the emotional tie I had to Breyer's Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream. Hearing other people talk about that love affair gone wrong that is often our relationship with food made me feel less freakish about how I ate. Weight Watchers also was, like, the best nutritional class ever - I learned about food in a thorough way, and precisely how certain foods are processed by the body.
But the best thing about Weight Watchers? It gave me accountability. It helped me to see, by writing down what I was eating each day, just how much munchie munchie was making it into my mouth. Not surprisingly, it was way too much. And I was shocked to learn how the most innocent and beloved foods in my pantry (oh, let's be honest, at my corner deli) actually turned out to have the most WW points values (those are the little things that make it easy for you to track how much food/calories you've eaten in a day). Allotted 20 points a day, I learned quick that a six point bagel each morning was going to do me in!
Weight Watchers radically altered my perception of food, and my relationship to it. Through the knowledge I gained and the support I got in the meetings, coupled with exercise, the weight came off. And off. I lost 30 lbs. before moving the New York City. Once here, I was able to continue going to WW as there are meetings all across the city. As you can see from the after photo, I'm a much happier gal.
And now? I am still struggling with that last 10 lbs. But WW has make that even easier by offering a great online program - and their own cute-as-a-low-fat-cupcake blogger Faint Starlite. She started out keeping a video diary of her WW adventure on You Tube, and now she is a spokesperson for the program. Don't you just love how all high tech and hip Weight Watchers has gotten?
The best thing about being at a healthy weight in New York City? The town itself helps you stay that way. Not only do the clothes inspire you to keep it lean, but NYC is consistently voted the best walking town in the country. With so much to look at along the way, you walk everywhere. And now that the Mayor has ordered that restaurants list their food's calorie counts, you'll never look at a black and white cookie the same way again.
Update-a year later: Well, I've finally done it. Reached my goal weight of 125 lbs!!! It really is miraculous and I am thrilled. Losing the last 10-15lbs was incredibly difficult, however. My weight just kept going up and down-so frustrating. So earlier this year, I started eating lots of veggies and fruits, cut out the snacking, started a probiotic regime (I think that helped curb my appetite), and just stayed with it. And after years of trying, met my goal. Yay!
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Had the pleasure of seeing Pray the Devil Back to Hell at the Tribeca Film Festival, where it won Best Documentary Feature. Powerful on many levels, this exquisite, hits-you-in-the-heart documentary tells the extraordinary story of a small band of women who unite in the midst of a bloody, beyond brutal civil war. Determined to bring peace to war torn, war lord overrun Liberia, theirs is a tale of courage to the extreme. Also inspiring are director Gini Reticker and producer Abigail E. Disney, two female filmmakers on a mission, who gave a great Q&A after the showing.
The film will be released nationally soon, but get involved prior by asking for it to be shown in your town or by visiting the MySpace page.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
The theater is dead. Long live theater.
That is how the fearlessly forthright monologist Mike Daisey sees it in his one-man-band ballyhoo How Theater Failed America, hilariously snarking on everything from arts funding to NYTimes reviewers to complicit Joe's Pub ticket holders. With a manic, occasionally maniacal energy and dead on analysis of the modern day mainstream arts scene (with the tongue-in-cheek lament of 'Why can't we be more like Sweden?'), Daisey leaves no truth unturned. And the basic truth in Daisy's world is that theater - and by extension our nation - is so devoid of community that artistic evolution is all but impossible.
Frankly, Daisey doesn't point out anything new. Let's face it, the death bell for theater has been ringing at a deafening pitch for decades now. But the sign of a great artist isn't always exploration of the next new thing, but rather the uncovering of a universality through startlingly fresh means. As a performer Daisey delivers, diving in with everything he's got - intellect, humor 'til it hurts, hulking physicality and sweat to the point of dehydration. And as an audience, we sit transfixed and wondrous.
Armed only with a water glass, Daisey's armchair philosopher orator has so much heart we willingly partner on his rant. With everything you expect in a one man show - personal humiliations, suicidal tendencies, and nostalgic role play (his actor portraying a masturbating bishop being the most memorable) - Daisey is entertaining to be sure. But that isn't enough for a master artist, so he just doesn't stop until he makes you think. And lament. And leave the theater changed.
Personally, I've been trying to get into Daisey's monologuing class for months now, and it always fills up lickedy split. So until then, I'll get my Daisey on Monday's at Joe's Pub until May 11.
Saturday, April 12, 2008
The subject of death is rarely presented realistically in theater, yet Katherine Williams' My Dead Mother is Funnier than You does this heartbreak justice in her tale of a serial dater whose mother's passing touches every aspect of her emotionally raw life. Williams' dead-on portrayal of Nicole poignantly points out the humor, horror and hysterical in death-too-soon, and stays true to the trauma that comes after someone beloved passes unexpectedly. And for this teenager and the woman she becomes, the loss of mama leaves quite a mark.
Her dead mother may be funnier than you, but nothing is funnier than dating in New York City. Nicole is deadpan hilarious as she trollops through man after man, linked to them by their own earlier loss of a loved one, finding immediate intimacy with emotionally unavailable Lotharios. Fortunately, the cast is to die for, and her lengthy list of love interests are fully fleshed and never trite. Our heart breaks for Nicole as she is left over and over by men not her equal, played to perfection by Franklin Abrams, Dan Almekinder, Michael Scott King and Jeff Stevens. All are mirrored superbly by her forever-mourning father, portrayed by the stellar Joseph Callari. It is enough to make a gal delete her Nerve profile.
Nicole is advised by a loveline of insightful armchair philosophers - older sis Laura (played with wry perfection by Jaye Maynard), kindhearted, cursing shrink Dr. Garcia (the deliciously empathic Todd Conner), the hell-bent yenta Jessica (blond and versatile Makenzie Caine) and her father's eloquent, devoted poodle Mr. Brown (played by Gabriel Silva, whose take on a love smitten lapdog is hump-o-licious).
Williams' script is deftly directed by Clyde Baldo, who does a fine job balancing life's rotten, joyous curves, taking us on a seesaw ride that is loss, love and personal conflict. I was expecting a laugh-a-minute joy ride of irreverence, and while I did guffaw at this wonderfully written play, I got so much more than I bargained for. Death is a bitch, but it doesn't have to turn you into one.
Please, please extend this run. Playing until Sunday, 4/13 at the ArcLight Theater at 152 W. 71st St. Tix $18, available at http://www.theatermania.com/.
Thursday, April 3, 2008
Monday, March 31, 2008
Improv is one of those random acts of performance that can have you hurtin' yourself with laughter, or bulldozing fellow patrons as you skedaddle for the exit. But if you want to see this ancient artform at its most skillfully wacky, then see improv in New York City. You've got the ticket-lines-around-the-corner Upright Citizens Brigade, fantastic site-specific Improv Everywhere, randy Peoples Improv Theater, legit National Comedy Theater, and of course just single comics galore. Really, you can't go too wrong with improv here.
I had the pleasure of seeing Sporknotes, an ensemble improv show by the Rising Sun Performance Company, as part of the Frigid Festival 2008. If you are in the mood for thumbtack sharp improv wit, all under the guise of a literary roundtable, then check it out. Essentially, the actors - all unskilled non-academics - do their best to improvise abridged versions of highbrow literature. I was fortunate to be there on the night when that great American masterpiece, The Little Engine That Could, was shouted out by an audience member to became the madcap plot outline through which eight or so actors tapdanced. Wackiness ensued, but so did political commentary, sexual innuendo and Transformers. Let's just say, it takes deliciously sick minds to come up with this stuff, and its pure delight to go along for the ride.
Hats off to the whole cast, who never failed to roll with the punches, even when they were below the belt. The show will have a more regular schedule soon, through Horse Trade Theater Group. It makes for a fun go-see, so if you can't wait go to a special show on April 11, 8pm at the Endtimes Underground @ Gene Frankel Theater, 24 Bond St.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
How the heck did I miss out on this? While I was trolling about the Whitney Biennial (more on that in a post to come) thousands of pillow-wielding hooligans were out on a sunny Saturday in Union Square, channelling their pent up angst into a massive pillow fight.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
The circus came to town early early this morning, and they brought their elephants with them. The annual tradition in NYC is that when they arrive, pachyderms and humans alike march down 34th St. all the way from the Queens-Midtown Tunnel to Madison Square Garden. With beautiful beasts emerging from the tunnel at roughly 12:45am, its one of those latelate night, wackadoo, 'only-in-New-York' events that remind you of the unique joie de vivre this place embraces, matched with a hearty lust for revelry (and any excuse to act like a loon) that is rarely rivaled elsewhere.
Unfortunately, my camera was persnickety and the only half-decent photo I got was an out of focus elephant butt, so you can see better photos on Flickr and a video on YouTube. But let's face it - the site of an elephant marching through the greatest city on earth is something that must be witnessed in person!
Friday, March 14, 2008
Being a redhead myself, with more than a drop of Irish blood in me and an obsession with wearing green, I've always enjoyed St. Patrick's Day. And in New York City, they know how to do the holiday up right. Every March 17, the New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade hosts 150,000-250,000 marchers in front of 2 million spectators, making it one of the largest parades in the world. It is one of the oldest too, having been created in 1762 by a group of homesick Irish ex-patriots. Today, the parade features celebrities, the Mayor and other politicians, and tons of traditional Irish fare including folk music and dancing ginger-heads. Go check it out for sure as it travels up 5th Ave. from 44th to 86th St. from about 11am to 3pm or later.
Posted by Mary Hilton at 3:13 PM
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
This former DC-ite, that land of plenty where political scandals are concerned, has witnessed a doosey of one here in New York. Our Gov. Spitzer resigned today due to... uh... transgressions. I am super-pleased that Lt. Gov. David Paterson will step in, and also become New York's first black governor. I heard Paterson speak at the 92nd St. Y last year on the topic of stem cell research, and he came across as sharp, smart and outspoken. Being legally blind, Paterson has not only a professional but a personal interest in medical research and the politics that can hinder or help such advancement. Don't know about you, but I am quite pleased with such a nice improvement over Sir Spitz.
Friday, March 7, 2008
Being a writer and blogger has been my lifeline in this town of total strangers, moving to New York City a year ago as I did desperate to come alive after, to quote a friend, "falling asleep in my life." Doing so jobless, in mid-life and knowing all of 5 people, blogging has allowed me access to all persons creative and cool, those intimidating folk who I'd be too shy to approach otherwise. Despite being a vibrant redhead with a high 'EQ' and a dollop of sass, fear makes talking to strangers about as appealing as chewing dirt, and makes me just as nauseous.
To survive in New York City, you must walk through fear. So despite its panic attack fuel, this past year I've interviewed celebs; reviewed dozens of plays by invitation; chatted up diverse likes of writers, comics, historians and Nobel prize winners; snuck in at the last moment to popular TV tapings and swanky cultural events; auditioned for cool voice over work; returned to my acting roots as an extra in an MTV promo; approached lit agents; started two, three, a dozen business ventures; handed out Dove chocolate in Bryant Park to make a quick buck; organized the home office of an heiress; had the time of my life temping at a major tv network; obtained clients eager for my interior design eye and was inspired to enroll in Parsons; been approached by a rep for my jewelry creations; partook of a hearing at City Hall for my historic block; started collaborating on a play with an admired playwright; interviewed for jobs glamorous and bizarre; and basically done everything I can to stay out past my bedtime. I've also had the pleasure of being connected with other writers and blogging observers of life, in this town and beyond. Recently meeting talents (and occasional NewbieNYC readers) from the UK and Japan have made me feel culturally broadened and even worldly.
I've had my share of heartbreak too, as only being open to life on the edge can allow. Tried the 'Sex in the City' version of dating with a smooth entertainment dude, only to find out over brunch with friends that he was also seeing another redhead at the table (what are the odds?) I got oh-so-close to jobs that were the culmination of dreams but sadly weren't meant to be. And most devastatingly, lost a friend to the horrors and torments that are part of the tragic underbelly of New York City.
But then I moved here to be open to life as never before, good-bad-horrific. So if there is any advice from this newbie, it is that this town is what you make of it. Get out and live as only this island allows-full on, frightening, but oh-so deeply fulfilling and fabulous. Falling asleep in your life here is just not an option.
NYC Blogs to Live By: The city is filled with opinionated, whipsmart writers, all just ruffled enough under their feathers to post honest, full-on rants on the city. Let these be your guides to NYC survival of the fittest. Be it the gentrification of town down-and-outs as frequently bemoaned on Hoover Factory (also a hipass music commentary) or the whimsical camera lens look at cityscapes on New York City Daily Photo, you've got blogs that assess the city to match any mood, 'tude or curiosity. Some of my other faves include: Walking Off the Big Apple, a guide to footpower 'round about town; NYC Taxi Photo and its unique take from a yellowcab window perspective; Miss Adventurous and her fresh-as-a-daisy view on life in NYC; Lost City and Jeremiah's Vanishing New York for their cynical keeping tabs on the bulldozers; Becoming a New Yorker's coming of age tales; Overheard in New York and all its 'only in NYC' quotes; and the mother-of-all-city-blogs Gothamist.
Friday, February 29, 2008
Friday, February 22, 2008
Dave Hill is some kinda wonderfully weird. A mashup of Andy Kaufman, lounge lizard and frat boy metrosexual, this comedic genius is just this side of certifiable. Seeing his show The Dave Hill Explosion at the UCB Theater at 307 26th St. (home to the Upright Citizens Brigade) was true NYC art on the edge. While I was disappointed that the promised hornets did not make an appearance (yeah, I read his blog) it was made up for by fab guests Amy Sedaris and Bob Mould. Throw in a wrestling match with a midget and creepy sidekick Phil and you've got all kinds of fun goings on onstage.
His twisted take on a talk show uncovered truths never before revealed in the history of man. Like, who knew pioneer punker Mould composed the theme to The Daily Show? Who knew Sedaris could spit beans out of her mouth, making them resemble knocked-out teeth? (0kay, so that one we already knew about, but to see it live was just delicious).
Bonus: Seriously, David Hill has some major buzz going and is on the cusp of becoming a major pop culture phenom. Catch him now while you still can. Besides, at $5 a ticket, this is the best comedy bargain around.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
For a unique bit of superb, twisted storytelling of high flying love between an engaging aerialist and a star-struck bartender, look toward Looking Up, playing until March 2nd at the Theater for the New City at 155 First Ave. Written and performed by the multitalented Carla Cantrelle, and featuring tantalizing trapeze acts, this fast-paced tumble of a theatrical dialogue explores the budding relationship between Wendy, a circus artist falling to earth, and Jack, a burnt out bartender in need of a lifeline.
Sure, this premise is ripe for corny metaphorical zingers, one liners and a kick of circus kitsch. But lucky for us playwright Cantrelle neatly balances the cutsie premise of love on the high wire with insightful commentary on the fears, foibles and downright pain inherent in budding love. With just the right dollop of cynicism, she doles out life observations available only to those whose job is risking death every day.
With a powerhouse performer with tricks up her sleeves such as Cantrelle, it takes a strong and steady leading man not to get tangled up in her nets. But Bryant Mason endears as the charming, conflicted bartender-with-a-heart-of-gold. So palpable is his vulnerable, love-without-a-net Lothario that we root for his risktaking and eventual climb to heights formerly unthinkable.
Kudos also go to the creative team, with top notch direction by Giovanna Sardelli. In a limited engagement, don't miss this intimate yet dynamo show with a unique twist-get tix at TheaterMania or by calling 212-352-3101.
Monday, February 11, 2008
Its the greatest dog show on earth. The Westminster Dog Show, taking place Feb. 11-12 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, is the premier gathering of top breeds from across the nation. The area around the Garden is overrun with magnificant doggies looking chic and red-carpet ready.
Adding spice to this year's event is the fact that my friend Kathy's adorable pup Calvin is half-brother to pre-show favorite Uno, a beagle who is causing alot of buzz. Despite being a popular breed, no beagle has won the Best in Show prize in the show's history. But one look at the super-precious Uno (whose official name is Park Me in First) will get your tail wagging.
New York City knows how to keep these elite canines happy, with special "poop stations" set up in the Hotel Pennsylvania (where many of the contestants stay) and high end, gourmet dog treats galore. As for show tickets, there is reserved seating (running $60 on upupup), general admission for $40, and a children's pass for $20. The show runs 8am-11pm each day, and if you can't make it in person watch live coverage of the group competitions on the USA Network. And if you just want to get in the doggone mood, check out this slide show or a personal favorite, The Daily Puppy.
Thursday, February 7, 2008
Since moving from Washington DC almost a year ago, I've not given politics alot of thought. Its been refreshing to be in a town where culture and moolah reign supreme, rather than congressional shenanigans. But it was exciting to be in NYC on Tuesday for the primary, with all the passionate campaigners flambouyantly drumming up support for their gal or guy. But don't be like me and (accidentally) not register in the state until it is too late. I'm currently undecided, but I still feel guilty (kinda-sorta) for not casting my ballot.
So, to help others avoid such peril, below are some links for getting your civic duty on and being prepared for future votes:
Board of Elections: Info on all things political in the city.
Voter Registration Form: Fill it out. Send it in. Get ready to vote.
Poll Site Locator: Find out where you vote in advance, so you don't get lost.
NYC Voter Assistance Commission: I don't really know what they do, but cool info nonetheless. Apparently, 2008 is Voter Awareness Year. Who knew?
League of Women Voters: A friend pointed this important group out to me, and in this election year in particular, it is an essential resource.
The general presidential election is Tuesday, November 4, so get ready to do your patriotic duty and get out and vote!
Sunday, February 3, 2008
Now that the Giants have won the Superbowl, we can get back to the real entertainment spectacle going on in NYC right now. That is right, I am talkin' about Fashion Week Fall 2008, taking place Feb. 1-8. You know, the time of year when all the fashionistas get decked out in five inch heels (not an exaggeration), leopard print stockings and microminis and head on down to Bryant Park. It is not uncommon to see toothpick thin models running across 6th Avenue dressed in outfits that are fine art in and of themselves. A visual feast of high end couture, physically impossible beauty and downright freak-show spectacle, Fashion Week is a celebration of creativity of the sewn variety.
You have to be someone to get inside the tents, but anyone can walk by and gawk at the impeccibly decked-out-and-about beauties and designers flustered and rushing to their next gig. Who might you see? Zac Posen, Anna Sui, Michael Kors, Vera Wang, Diane von Furstenberg and Heidi Klum. Current buzz is all about the swiftly-shrinking miniskirt going higher higher higher. We will see, but fact is that all clothing trends, no matter how trecherous, get their start here.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Yes, it has been a while since my last post. One thing that definitely happens when you move to this city-your life goes into high gear and your time is kaput, but in a good way. No, make that a great way.
Posted by Mary Hilton at 1:29 PM