It Was A Very Good Year

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Bob Dylan briefly lived in room 305 of our hotel in 1964. (Lucky us, right?) The Times They Are A-Changin’ was released in January of that year. So was Meet The Beatles. The Rolling Stones and The Kinks also shipped their debut albums in 1964.

John F. Kennedy was assassinated the previous November. Cassius Clay (aka Muhammad Ali) beat Sonny Liston in the ring and was crowned the Heavyweight Champion of the World. Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor married for the first time. Harpo Marx died and Stephen Colbert was born. Jean-Paul Sartre won the Nobel Prize for Literature. The 1964 World’s Fair ran for six months. The Civil Rights Act was signed into law on July 2nd and Sidney Poitier was the first African-American to win an Academy Award for Best Actor in Lilies of the Field.

Yep..the times they were a-changin’ (and still are).

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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Museum Mile For Free!

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How often do you get to amble up Fifth Avenue when it’s completely cleared of traffic and pop into nine of its incredible museums without paying a dime? Well, you can for three hours on June 10th.

The Guggenheim, El Museo Del Barrio, The Africa Center, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of the City of New York, The Jewish Museum, Cooper-Hewitt, Neue Galerie and National Academy Museum and School will all open their doors on that day between 6 and 9 pm for the Museum Mile Festival.

Cars will be banned along the avenue from 82nd to 105th Streets for the duration of the festival, making it feel like a big block party.

Aside from the free museum passes, there will be kids’ entertainment like Silly Billy the Very Funny Clown and face painting. Art-in-the-street demonstrations will be held, like chalk drawing and creating art using letter stamps and color sticks. And there will be several musical performances by string quartets and jazz ensembles along the avenue to boot.

The party will go on, rain or shine!

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5 Reasons To Spend Memorial Day In NYC

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1. Fleet Week is back. Last year the event was called off due to the government sequester. This celebration of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps includes military demonstrations and tours of the visiting ships. It’s particularly fun to watch our service women and men explore the city in their military-issued finest.

2. It’s the 19th annual Lower East Side Festival of the Arts. This event highlights the rich artistry and culturally diversity of the area.  Highlights include a street fair on Saturday afternoon, poetry readings, films, music and performance art.

3. You can attend a concert in a graveyard. The Green-Wood Cemetary in Brooklyn holds a Memorial Day concert from 2:30-5:00 pm by the student-manned ISO Symphonic Band, a wind, brass and percussion ensemble. Works penned by permanent cemetary residents Leonard Bernstein, Louis Moreau Gottschalk and Fred Ebb are featured. Just bring a blanket; admission is free and food is available for purchase. Zombies are most welcome.

4. Opening day for Governor’s Island is on Saturday, the 24th. A Family Festival will kick off the season from noon to 4 pm. Music, face painting, compost lessons, carnival games and a chicken tractor (?) will be just some of the activities offered. (I looked it up–it’s a movable chicken coop.)

5. And lastly, New Yorkers love Memorial Day weekend, because all those people flocking to the Hamptons clear out tables for us at in-demand restaurants, shorten lines at museums and other attractions and gives us much-needed personal space on the subways. That, in turn, entitles us to feel smug and in-the-know. And you can, too!

 

 

 

 

Celebrate Irish Culture!

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The Irish are a soulful bunch. They’ve touched us through the arts in countless ways.

Like acting: Daniel Day Lewis, Liam Neeson, Kenneth Branagh, Colin Farrell, Peter O’Toole, Stephen Rea, Michael Fassbender and Gabriel Byrne

Or literature in its many forms: James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, William Butler Yeats, Jonathan Swift, Frank McCourt and Samuel Beckett

Or painting: Francis Bacon, John Lavery and Louis le Brocquy

And of course, music: Van Morrison. Elvis Costello, U2, The Corrs, The Pogues, Rory Gallagher, James Galway, The Dubliners and Bob Geldof

Listen to Van and The Chieftains performing Carrickfergus, an Irish folk song named for a town in Northern Ireland:

Wasn’t that lovely? Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone!

 

Where Can I Go To Hear Great Music?

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New York has what feels like a bazillion music venues, so everyone is certain to find at least one that suits their needs, right? Here are a few suggestions…

For audiophiles: Town Hall

The acoustics are out of this world. And the artists run the gamut: rock, jazz, children’s shows, spoken word, a Jewish music festival and Roseanne Cash are just a few of the upcoming shows.

For cheap rock: Mercury Lounge

Bar, stage, drinks. Great music. It’s not fancy, but you can happily order a PBR and rock on. ‘Nuff said.

For the Baby Boomers: The Beacon Theatre

To sum it up in a few words: the Allman Brothers are the musicians-in-residence every March. Acoustics are great and the audience has sowed their wild oats many moons ago. Upcoming shows include Ringo Starr, Smokey Robinson and Tori Amos.

For people who love history and killer music: Apollo Theater

Years before American Idol or The Voice were even a blip on our country’s radar, the Apollo hosted Amateur Night every Wednesday. Marvin Gaye, The Jackson Five, Lauryn Hill and Gladys Night & The Pips all got their start here. (Jimi Hendrix won first place in 1964.) When you walk in take a look around before you find your seat–the history will envelop you.

For jazz buffs with shallow pockets: Smalls

Yes, there’s a $20 cover charge, but your end-of-the-night tab won’t come close to that of an evening at the Blue Note. The name says it all: space is tight. But jazz should be an intimate experience, no? Head here to listen to the up-and-comers.

For, um, seasoned music lovers that want a glass of wine, a comfortable seat and a nosh with their music: City Winery

The food is yummy, wine delish…and you won’t find the latest You Tube star playing here. Upcoming shows include legendary soul man Sam Moore. Los Lonely Boys and a tribute to Paul Simon. I once saw Todd Rundgren perform an acoustic show there that was out of this world.

For the traditionalists: Carnegie Hall

What can I say? It’s every bit as beautiful as you think it will be–probably more. No matter whom you are seeing the acoustics and atmosphere rate an 11.

Music is for everyone, right? You’ve just got to find what’s best for you…and you can in our city!

 

 

 

 

Here It Comes….

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It’s Wednesday. Hump Day. The temperature reads 28 degrees in New York City and another dusting of snow just fell on the ground. Our winter boots are thisclose to wearing out. My favorite hat recently blew away with the wind and my husband just lost his fifth pair of gloves. In short, we need a pick-me-up!

Here’s a little something to get all of us through the next few weeks:

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
And I say it’s all right

Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
And I say it’s all right

Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been here

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
And I say it’s all right

Sun, sun, sun, here it comes
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes

Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been clear

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
And I say it’s all right
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
It’s all right, it’s all right

Happy Hump Day, everyone!

 

 

It Was 50 Years Ago Today…

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Unless you live under a rock, you’ll know that today marks the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ coming to America. (Just look at them…aren’t they adorable?) Our city is celebrating that fact with NYC Fab 50, a music festival featuring both tributes to the Beatles and tribute bands at several venues around the city:

Three Across The Universe Music Festival events take place at the Hudson Theater. The first will feature The Spin Doctors plus tribute bands Clube Big Beatles from Brazil, The Norwegian Beatles Band from Norway, HELP! from Mexico, Blurred Vision from Canada and Williamsburg Salsa Orchestra from Williamsburg.

Event 2 includes Lucy from Germany, Genetic Control from The Bronx, School of Rock from Manhattan and Two of Us from Italy.

The third show takes place tomorrow and is co-hosted by John Lennon’s sister Julia Baird from Liverpool. (“Juu-lee-aa…”), The Cavern Club Beatles from Liverpool, Morsa from Mexico, Dress to KISS from Italy, The Oh-Nos from New England, The Clover from Japan and Hal Bruce from Halifax.

The America Celebrates the Beatles: All Star Concert takes place tomorrow at Town Hall. Performers include Tommy James, Melanie, Chuck Negron, Marshall Crenshaw, Fred Schneider, Gene Cornish, Greg Hawkes, Ron Dante, Randy Jackson, Ian Lloyd, Larry Kirwan and Aztec Two-Step.

An added plus? All concert proceeds will benefit the Food Bank for New York City, Autism Think Tank and Children’s Music Fund…all worthy charites.

A few other events also commemorating the Fab Four are happening around town:

The Fest For Beatles Fans is the oldest Beatles convention and is held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel this weekend. This year will feature Donovan, Peter Asher, Billy J. Kramer, Chad & Jeremy, Freda Kelly and Larry Kane. Click here for more info and tickets.

Plus, the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center is presenting Ladies and Gentlemen…The Beatles, a free multi-media exhibition this Sunday that includes memorabilia, recordings, video, photos and more. You can even leave your own impressions of The Beatles in an oral history booth. You’ve got plenty of time to catch this, as it’s on until May 5th.

 

Celebrating Black History All Month Long

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New York is a great place to explore in February, particularly because it’s Black History Month and we’re rich with African-American culture and history.

Some of our most accomplished African-American residents, past and present include: Louis Armstrong, W.E.B. Du Bois, Langston Hughes, Lena Horne, Count Basie, Zora Neal Hurston, Althea Gibson, Jay-Z and Malcolm X.

Billie Holiday first performed the Civil Rights anthem Strange Fruit in 1939 at the now-defunct Greenwich Village Cafe Society (which, by the way, was the city’s first integrated nightclub.) Jackie Robinson was the first African-American to break the color barrier in baseball when he signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. Shirley Chisholm was the first black woman to be elected to Congress in 1969; Marian Anderson was the first to become a member of the Metropolitan opera in 1954. The list goes on and on.

Point being, we are proud of our African-American community and its accomplishments. Here are a few of the best events happening here in the city this Black History Month:

Central Park’s Arsenal Gallery exhibit The March is a collection of works from 17 different artists reflecting on the Civil Rights Movement past, present and future, as well as those individuals who have advanced the cause.

Voices of Freedom, at the Winter Garden downtown, is a lunchtime jazz concert series that take place every Wednesday featuring exciting pairings with a pianist and some of our most revered NYC musicians.

On Thursday, February 20th, the Queens Botanical Gardens celebrates scientist, botanist and inventor George Washington Carver and introduces kids to his contributions to the world of botany. The workshop focuses on the role plants played in Dr. Carver’s life, lets the little ones actually paint with greenery and sends them home with a planted peanut to monitor its growth. Cost is $6 per kid.

And finally, the famed Apollo Theater will transform itself into one of the many Harlem nightclubs in the 30s and 40s for four evenings in February (20th-23rd). Maurice Hines, Boardwalk Empire star Margot B and Kevin Mahogany will perform a 90-minute revue that sounds amazing.

Come celebrate with us!

 

 

Take A Stroll Down Thompson Street

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Thompson Street runs from Washington Square South through the Village and Soho and is a lovely and active route to amble down on a sunny day. Previous residents include the late Frank Zappa at #180, plus various Bonnano and Genovese family members. (I’d tell you where they lived, but…)

Start at Kee’s Chocolates at #80. Their incredible handmade chocolates and macaroons will give you energy for your journey.

INA, at #101, is a designer consignment store. Drop in and see if you’re interested in someone else’s hand-me-downs, or bring our own older designer duds. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. (Isn’t that the saying?) But the trash here is high-class trash, got it? Plus INA recently produced its own line of women and men’s clothing.

The Hat Shop at #120 sells chapeaus both fancy and functional.

ZZ’s Clam Bar, at #169, is for all things seafood: a raw bar, ceviches, carpaccio… think of a way you like your fish prepared and I’m sure they do it.

Beer fans will love The Malt House gastropub at #206. They’ll help you pair their extensive brands of micro-brews on tap with their yummy comfort food.

Generations Records at #210 sells…records. (Remember them?) They have an extensive metal and punk collection and frequent live in-store performances.

The Chess Forum at #219 sells beautiful chess sets at all price points, plus chess-related items, like clocks and tournament supplies.

Speaking of games,The Uncommons at #230, describes itself as, “Manhattan’s first and only play cafe.” Sip a warm cup of coffee or tea while you obliterate your opponent at Checkers, Clue, Backgammon, Monopoly, Pictionary or practically any other game you can think of.

And for the kids? Vesuvio Playground, formerly known as Thompson Playground (the new moniker was taken from the popular Italian bakery on nearby Prince Street) is between Spring and Prince.

Happy strolling!