Shakespeare In The Park

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One of the perks of living in (or visiting) New York in the summer is Shakespeare In The Park. King Lear, starring John Lithgow and Annette Bening, debuted this week at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park and runs through August 17th. Shows begin at 8:00 pm rain or shine.

Here’s how to get tickets:

Line up at the Delacorte the day of the performance at noon for free passes–limit of two to a customer.

Or:

Check in for a virtual lottery. You can sign in between midnight and 12 pm on the day of each performance and request two tickets to that night’s show. If you’ve won, an email will be sent to you around noon and you can pick up the passes at the box office.

The organizers of the Shakespeare in the Park series truly strive to make admission accessible to everyone, regardless of income. (And these nice folks have been doing so for over fifty years.) Yet there is one way to bypass both long lines and Lady Luck.

If you become a supporter of the series and the Public Theater, you can help keep the program free for all New Yorkers while easily scoring tickets for yourself. A $200 donation will get you a pair of reserved seats, plus one ticket per production at the Public Theater on Lafayette St., plus 15% off an additional ticket at the Public. The donation is tax deductible and helps keep the production free for the masses–a win-win situation all around.

Image via publictheatre.org

Restaurant Week Begins!

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Hey everybody!  It’s New York City’s Summer Restaurant Week(s), now through August 15th.

You already know the drill: $25 prix fixe lunch and $38 dinners. As usual, Chef Cruz is pulling out all the stops and creating several different menus during the promotion. And the meals, as always, will feature herbs and veggies from our own rooftop garden.

The “Rooftop Mesclun Salad” features roasted beets, walnuts and goat cheese in a sherry vinaigrette. Pan seared sea scallops and grilled scallops will be accompanied by cauliflower mash and asparagus with a black truffle sauce.

Hungry yet?

Personally, I could go straight for the strawberry shortcake with almonds, strawberry sauce and whipped cream. Or the key lime pie with creme chantilly and raspberry chambord coulis.

Treat yourself and someone you love (or maybe just like enough to pick up the tab) at our place. Make your reservations here!

 

 

 

 

The Little Red Lighthouse

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One of my favorite biking paths is along the Hudson River, straight up to the George Washington Bridge, with the Little Red Lighthouse–the last surviving one in Manhattan–tucked beneath it. My husband and I took a lovely bike ride up there yesterday to visit this landmark, beloved by children and adults alike.

The crimson 40-foot tower has resided on Jeffrey’s Hook, a rocky point on the Hudson River since 1921. In the beginning, its tiny lights dutifully warned ships away from the shore as they traveled along the water.

All was hunky-dory for about 10 years, until the George Washington Bridge was constructed. The blaring lights of the 600-foot towers along the bridge overwhelmed the tiny candle beacons of the lighthouse and in 1948, it was abandoned and scheduled for demolition.

Here’s where children saved the day. Six years earlier, a book entitled The Little Red Lighthouse And The Great Gray Bridge by Hildegarde H. Swift had hit the shelves. This sweet story portrays the diminutive guidepost as happy with its oh-so-important job of warning sailors away from land until the bridge is built over it. The lighthouse then worries that it has lost its purpose, but in the end, it learns that it still has an important job to do and that everything and everyone is important–big and small.

Thousands of kids who loved the tale of the lighthouse started a campaign to save it. Their combined efforts resulted in the transfer of ownership from the Port Authority to the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation, and, lucky us, we get to enjoy the result of their efforts today.

Visitors can still climb the iron stairs to the top of the tower, and visit the lantern room, which has a working lens.

This is a must-do for visiting kids (and adults) in the city. My stepson was enthralled with the book and delighted every time his Dad took him to visit. Pack a picnic lunch and plan to spend a good part of the day, as The Fort Washington Park just south of the bridge has been spiffed up in recent years. A new playground, picnic areas, even a natural turf soccer field have turned it into kid heaven!

 

 

 

I Scream, You Scream…

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Sunday is National Ice Cream Day! (As far as I’m concerned, every day is Ice Cream Day, but, hey, that’s just me.) I’ve already told you about the Big Gay Ice Cream truck and shop. So here are a few of my other favorite joints in the city:

Il Laboratorio del Gelato on Ludlow St. carries almost 200 varieties of ice cream. The “lab” part of the name stems from the fact that they consider themselves a laboratory for ice cream flavors, and chefs and other customers are encouraged to work with them to develop new ones. Scarf down a scoop or two of buttermilk and you may very well swoon.

Oddfellows has two locations: one in Williamsburg and one on East 4th St. All of the ice creams–even the waffle cones–are made from scratch. And while you’re enjoying your Chorizo Caramel Swirl or Peanut Butter and Jelly scoop, you can feel good about yourself, as with every serving Oddfellows sells, they donate 5 cents to the Food Bank of New York City.

The ice cream sandwiches at Melt Bakery will send you reeling right back to your childhood. The shop also has two homes: one on Orchard St. and one on the High Line in the Chelsea Market passage. Current flavors include Chocolate Chip Walnut cookies with Vanilla ice cream, Peanut Butter cookies with Banana ice cream (the Elvis, of course), and Snickerdoodles with Cinnamon ice cream.

Sundaes and Cones in the East Village specializes in Asian flavors, like Wasabi, Ginger and Black Sesame. Diet-conscious folks will appreciate the fact that they serve non-fat and no-sugar-added scoops as well.

Ronnybrook Milk Bar in the Chelsea Market sells fully organic ice cream, milk, yogurt and milkshakes. There is an actual Ronnybrook Farm upstate, with a slew of well-fed, pampered cows, and we lucky folks here in the city reap the benefits from their labor. The basil scoop is amazing; the cookies and cream milkshake to die for.

Have a great, lactose-filled weekend, everyone!

Image via Facebook

What Would Summer Be Without (Free) Music And Dance?

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There’s always plenty of music to listen or dance to in our city–especially in the summer. And a chunk of it is free, people! I’ve already given you the schedule for SummerStage, but here are some other worthy events scheduled for the latter half of July.

The Riverside Clay Tennis Association holds free sunset concerts, like Rickie T & his Reggae All-Stars shown above, post-sundown, on last Saturday night. Shows are held in Riverside Park, right by 97th St. next to the tennis courts (‘natch). Reggae, classical, tango and jazz are among the many genres represented. Bring a picnic basket and a bottle of wine and watch the sky above the river turn multiple colors as these seasoned performers close out the day. And be prepared to dance, people! Rickie T. got everyone from two-years-old to 80 up on their feet. Concerts begin at 7 each Saturday night and will run through August 16th.

Pete Seeger fans can mourn his passing together at Seeger Fest, a five-day event honoring the lives and legacies of Pete and Toshi Seeger through music, film and community events. Shows start at 7:30 pm on July 17th on Pier 46 (Charles St. and West St.)

Also on the 17th, the Bronx Raised Hip-Hop Series is on at the Willis Avenue Community Gardens in the Bronx (Willis Ave. and 143rd St.)  Local artists use dance, spoken word, and music to deliver rhythm and rhymes that reflect a Bronx state of mind. If you miss it tomorrow night, there will be another one on August 2nd. Who knows? Maybe you’ll witness the musical birth of the next Afrika Bambaattaa or Grandmaster Flash.

You can finally learn the dance of love…tango…in Stuyvesant Park (around Second Ave. and 16th Street). Argentine tango lessons will be among the around the fountain. Beginner lessons are from 6:00 to 6:45 pm, but the dancing doesn’t end until 9.

Motown will be represented on the Astoria Park Lawn in Queens in the Motor City Revue on July 31st at 7:30. Marvin, Smokey, Diana & The Supremes and The Temptations are just some of the artists that will be covered.

See? There’s something for everyone. Click here for a more comprehensive list.

R.I.P. Tommy Ramone

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The last living member of the original lineup of the Ramones has left us. Waaaaah! Tommy was the drummer of one of our city’s favorite bands, one that we’re proud as hell of. The foursome was formed in Queens in 1974, and Tommy, along with Dee Dee (bass), Joey (lead vocals) and Johnny (guitar), became a (the!) major influence in the punk rock movement.

Tommy was born Thomas Erdélyi on Long Island. When the Ramones first came together, he was supposed to be the manager, but was drafted as the band’s drummer when Joey became lead singer after finding that he couldn’t keep up with the band’s increasingly fast tempos.

“Tommy Ramone, who was managing us, finally had to sit down behind the drums, because nobody else wanted to,” Dee Dee later recalled.

I know that I’ve certainly gotten jobs that way.

While we would have liked to play host to the whole band, we know for certain Dee Dee checked into our hotel alone in 1979. But we like to think that maybe Tommy came and visited him, right?

Image via Facebook

Manhattanhenge Is This Weekend!

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The second (and final) Manhattanhenge of this year is happening this weekend, so get your cameras out and ready for action!

Never heard of Manhattanhenge? Let’s have an expert explain it to you.

According to Neil deGrasse Tyson, Director of the Museum of Natural History’s Hayden Planetarium and all-around astrophysics genius dude, Manhattanhenge occurs, “when the setting Sun aligns precisely with the Manhattan street grid, creating a radiant glow of light across Manhattan’s brick and steel canyons, simultaneously illuminating both the north and south sides of every cross street of the borough’s grid. A rare and beautiful sight.”

If he says so, I’m in. The full sun on the grid will occur tonight at 8:24; a half sun on the grid can be seen tomorrow night at 8:25.

Dr. Tyson suggests to head to the far east of Manhattan and look westward on a street where you can see Jersey to get the best view. Clear cross streets include 14th, 23rd, 34th. 42nd, 57th, and several streets adjacent to them.

Enjoy, and have a great weekend, everyone!

Image via Numb Photo/Flickr

The Rolling Stones At Washington Square?

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The Rolling Stones landed on our shores in 1964 for their first US tour and our hotel was their home base. Can you imagine Keith Richards hanging in the lobby bar? Charlie Watts getting hot sauce advice from Ronnie? Ooh, what I would give to see Mick busting out his Tina Turner-like moves in the lobby. It was 50 years ago that they played two shows at Carnegie Hall before coming home and crashing with us.

The Rolling Stones: England’s Newest Hitmakers was released in May. The single, Not Fade Away introduced American kids to the band that their parents would hate.

Let’s take a minute to watch The Boys when they played their hit on the Dean Martin show:

Image via Klaus Hiltscher/Flickr

 

 

Lincoln Center Arts Festival Begins Today

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The Lincoln Center Arts Festival is officially on and lasts through August 16th. The beauty of this event is its global reach: you can enjoy performances by artists and ensembles from 11 countries unfolding in six venues right here in the city on and off the Lincoln Center campus. Theater, music and ballet will all be represented, so choose your poison. Here are some highlights:

From Russia, The Bolshoi Ballet, Opera, Orchestra and Chorus will bring the audience both ballet (Swan Lake) and opera (The Tsar’s Bride).

Cate Blanchett and Isabelle Huppert will star in the Sydney Theatre Company’s presentation of Jean Genet’s The Maids, an intense play in which two housemaids construct sadomasochistic rituals while their mistress is away.

From Japan comes the top Kabuki theater company, Heisei Nakamura-za, with Kaidan Chibusa No Enoki (The Ghost Tale of the Wet Nurse Tree), a classic revenge tale from far east.

And from not so far away–just a few thousand miles west, in fact–comes the Houston Grand Opera production of The Passenger, an intense 1968 opera about the Holocaust from Mieczylslaw Weinburg, The libretto focuses on a former SS prison camp overseer on board an ocean liner who fears her secret past is about to be revealed. (A friend of mine from Houston who’s an opera nut and a man of great taste has seen it and says that it’s incredible.)

Check it out!

Image via Leo/Flicker