Sunday, October 17, 2010

Tricks and Treats on the UES

Have you come up with the perfect costume but still haven't found a place to wear it this Halloween? Good thing the UES has a lot of Halloween goings-on over the next few weeks--for you, your family, and even your pets.

Halloween Pub Crawl: Hop into your costume and hop onto the Halloween Pub Crawl, a weekend-long event featuring over 100 bars throughout Manhattan. For $20 on either October 29, 30, or 31 (or all three days if you’re having trouble deciding between costumes), you can enjoy free admission to all participating bars, $2 Bud and Bud Light specials, and two-for-one Halloween cocktails. Register at one of seven bars throughout the city, including the UES’s Stir, or purchase tickets online.

Central Park Pumpkin Festival: On Saturday 10/30, head over to the bandshell area near the 72nd Street entrance to Central Park for a free festival featuring hayrides, face painting, pumpkin decorating, and live entertainment. Click here for more details.

Halloween Celebration at the Museum of Natural History: Kids will love the Museum of Natural History’s 15th annual Halloween celebration, featuring trick-or-treating, live performances, pumpkin carving, and surprise visits from characters like The Cat in the Hat, Maisy, Curious George, and Danny’s Dinosaur. The event runs from 2-5 p.m., and admission is $10 for non-members, $9 for members. Click here for more info.

Halloween Howl at Carl Schurz Park: Dress up your dog for the annual Halloween costume competition in Carl Schurz Park. Head over to the hockey and basketball courts near the southern end of the park on the John Finley esplanade from 1-3 p.m. on October 24 for lots of howlin’ Halloween fun. Click here for more information.

74th Street Halloween Townhouse: Check out the Halloween decorations on the townhouse at 4 East 74th Street. Ghosts, ghouls, skeletons, pirates, mummies, and even SpongeBob Squarepants are put up by the same family every year, drawing tons of visitors and trick-or-treaters.

Halloween, Southern-Style: This year, Southern Hospitality on 76th near Second is hosting a ghoulish get-together with a $45 open bar starting at 10 p.m., plus “Liquor Treating” shots and a costume contest. Or, if you’d prefer to pay for your drinks as you go, admission is free.

Happy trick-or-treating!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Back to School at the 92nd Street Y

The buses are full of bright-eyed, backpacked first-graders; come 3pm, uniformed middle-schoolers are strolling the streets; and the office supply aisle at Duane Reade has been wiped clean. All of this can only mean one thing—it’s back to school time!

If watching your neighbor’s kids go back to school has left you nostalgic for book bags, Trapper Keepers, and your eighth-grade history teacher, you may want to consider going back to school yourself by taking advantage of the new selection of courses available at the 92nd Street Y. Here, some of the classes that I’m most interested in this fall:

Creative Beadwork: Learn to make your own beaded jewelry in time for the gift-giving season with this seven-session course, beginning September 21.

Public Speaking: A Crash Course: Hone your public speaking skills using methods that don’t involve the unpleasant task of picturing everyone in the room naked. This four-session course begins October 26.

Intro to Pilates: Strengthen, tone, and stretch your way to fitness with this 17-week pilates course for beginners. Classes start September 16, so register soon!

Poetry with Jen Bervin: Starting October 18, explore your inner poet with this eight-week class that focuses on both reading and writing poetry.

Basic Six Ballroom: Grab your favorite partner and learn the basic steps of ballroom dancing. Four-session courses begin on September 21, October 21, November 30, and January 6.

Contemporary Art Gallery Tours: Explore the galleries of Chelsea, Midtown, SoHo, and Uptown. This course features four tours of modern art galleries that meet once each month beginning September 24.

Check out these courses and more here—and then get started on your back to school shopping.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

American Woman: One Last Weekend at the Met

Fashion, history, and high society—can you think of a better combination? If not, be sure to visit the Met this weekend, where the exhibit American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity is on display for just a few more days. Featuring the fashions worn by American women from 1890 to 1940, the exhibit explores the evolution of the modern American woman, the influences on her style, and how that style affected her role in society.

American Woman spans a series of rooms in the Cantor Exhibition Hall: one room per decade, each donned with the clothing and décor that would have been in style among the foremost society women of the era—think the Gwyneth Paltrows and Jennifer Anistons of the last century, as these were the women who set the trends that trickled down to influence the rest of society. Yet each decade is an example not just of the clothing worn by the upper crust, but of the style archetype that defined the time period.

The first room—the 1890s—focuses on the Heiress. These women were American society’s most elite. Their wealth and status were derived from their families, and they strove to imitate European royalty—and in some cases, become royalty themselves. The room is decorated like an upscale parlor and filled with long, lavish gowns adorned with the finest lace, beading, and detailing of the day. The lush fabrics still hold a sheen and seem as though they could come to life at any moment to swish across the room or swirl to a waltz. This was one of my favorite rooms.

Moving on to the 1900s room, however, the ideal clearly changes. The gowns are replaced by long skirts and button-front blouses with a simple, sporty, yet still decidedly feminine look. Set to a seascape, this room marks the era of the Gibson Girl, the more natural, fit woman who swims, cycles, plays tennis, and enjoys the outdoors. Though the outfits are very different from what would be considered sporty today, the ideal they represent is a lot like the strong, athletic ideal that still defines the modern American woman.

Next up is the Bohemian, the artistic woman who, from 1910 to 1920, wore long, silken gowns with Eastern-inspired details. This was the most surprising of the exhibit rooms, as the robe-like gowns—loose, flowing, and uninhibited—are not a style typically associated with the early 20th century—if anything, I would have pegged them for the attire of artsy types in the late ’60s and early ’70s. Yet also featured is the more recognizable style of the Suffragette. While they marched for the right to vote, American women donned knee-length skirts and no-nonsense jackets, showing the world that they were serious about their cause, yet still—and most importantly—female.

The exhibit’s most recognizable style is found in the 1920s room. Empowered with the right to vote, American women tossed off their inhibitions in the 1920s, drinking, smoking, bobbing their hair, and idealizing the slim, boyish figure of the Flapper. Thin, shifty silk dresses with low-slung waists and sparkly beading exchanged the strictures of femininity for a style that left women feeling freer and sexier.

My favorite room was next. In the 1930s, American women idealized the Screen Siren, epitomized by movie stars like Rita Hayworth and Lena Horne. The room devoted to the style of these legendary ladies is filled with long, classically-inspired gowns that reinstate a more mature, feminine ideal after the young, boyish look of the Flapper. High waists, gathered fabric, and slinky skirts exude glamour and grace, and solid blacks, whites, and neutrals evoke the colors of the early cinema. This room spills into another, in which the women themselves are on display via a series of screens looping film clips from the era.

To exit, viewers cross a foyer-like area where modern-day images are projected on white walls to the soundtrack of Lenny Kravitz’s “American Woman.” The montage is somewhat mesmerizing, flashing photos of very recognizable women—from icons like Jackie Kennedy and Grace Kelly to pop stars like Madonna and Lady Gaga—that show the fruits of the style evolution captured in the exhibit.

Though the exhibit could have been a bit heavier on the history side, its short introductions at the entrance to each room make it easy to breeze through quickly—though the stunning styles will most likely entice you to stay longer.

Whatever your style, I highly recommend a visit to American Woman before it closes this Sunday. You’ll be fashionably late.

All photos copyright The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

UES Treats to Beat the Heat

When your fourth-floor walkup is as steamy as a sauna,
there’s not even a hint of a breeze on the pier at Carl Schurz Park, and the cool corridors of the Met have already been closed for the day, there’s only one sure way to beat the heat on the UES: go get ice cream.

No matter where on the UES you live, there are plenty of spots serving up tasty frozen treats within minutes of your front door. Here, some of my favorites.

Alice’s Tea Cup: Fall down the rabbit hole and into an air-conditioned wonderland at one of Alice’s two UES locations: 64th Street near Lexington Ave. or 81st Street between 2nd and 3rd. Both feature light fare that is perfect for a hot summer day, like a pear and endive salad, cucumber and watercress sandwiches, and assorted pastries and scones, all of which can be nicely topped off with a scoop of seasonal ice cream or sorbet, as well as fancier desserts like mixed berries with vanilla crème anglaise or a slice of banana cake.

Ciao Bella Café: If you typically gravitate right toward those brightly colored containers of Ciao Bella gelato in your grocery store, you’ll be in heaven in the Ciao Bella Café, on 92nd and Madison. Featuring signature flavors like Chocolate Hazelnut, Dulce de Leche, Mocha Chip, and Peaches and Cream, this tiny café could easily become your home away from home this summer.

Emack & Bolio’s: My personal favorite, Emack & Bolio’s 81st and 1st location features a creative assortment of original flavors, like Caramel Moose Prints, Grasshopper Pie, Cookie Monster, and Raspberry Truffle. As if names like that aren’t enough to send you screaming for their ice cream, all their products are freshly made, contain no added dyes, and are made with milk that is free of the hormone bST.

Pinkberry: For a healthier (albeit a bit more expensive) take on frozen goodness, stop by Pinkberry on 2nd between 81st and 82nd for low-calorie frozen yogurt topped with your choice of fresh fruits, nuts, and sweets. In addition to its Original and Green Tea flavors, Pinkberry now features frozen yogurt in Pomegranate, Coconut, Mango, Chocolate, and the seasonal Watermelon flavor. Just be prepared for the line that is usually wrapped around the block on a hot summer night.

Café Sabarsky: If you like art with your ice cream, stop into the Neue Gallerie’s Café Sabarsky, on 86th and 5th. Reminiscent of old-world Vienna, this upscale spot features specialty drinks like the Eisschokolade, chilled chocolate milk with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream; or the Wiener Eiskaffe, chilled coffee with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream. There is also a full German/Austrian dinner menu, plus desserts like a seasonal fruit crumble tarte, a strawberry-yogurt mousse cake, and a lemon biscuit with lemon mousse.

Sedutto: On 1st between 78th and 79th, Sedutto serves up rich and creamy ice cream and frozen yogurt in a variety of flavors that will most likely render you very indecisive. Try the Peanut Butter, Pistachio, Mocha Almond Fudge, S’mores, or Chocolate Midnight Cookie flavors.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Summer in the Park

It’s that time of year again! Time for swimsuits and summer whites. Time for weekend jaunts to the Hamptons or the Jersey shore. And time for two Central Park staples: Shakespeare in the Park and SummerStage. Here, a preview of both.

Shakespeare in the Park: This summer, The Public Theatre presents Shakespeare classics A Winter’s Tale and The Merchant of Venice. Unlike in years past, however, when one production would run for several weeks before closing to give way to the next, these two tales from everyone’s favorite bard will be running in repertory, meaning they'll switch off on a nearly nightly basis from June 9 to August 1.

There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason as to which plays are performed on which nights, so I’ll break it down for you.

If you’d like to see A Winter’s Tale, your options are as follows:
June 9, 10, 15, 16, 19, 20, 27, 28, 29, 30
July 2, 7, 8, 11, 12, 17, 21, 22, 25, 27, 30, 31

If you’d like to see The Merchant of Venice, you can go on one of the following nights:
June 12, 13, 17, 18, 21, 23, 24, 25, 26
July 3, 5, 6, 9, 10, 15, 16, 18, 20, 23, 24, 28, 29
August 1

All performances begin at 8 p.m., and tickets may be obtained free of charge starting at 1 p.m. on the day of the performance at The Delacorte Theater. There is also a new virtual ticketing option, through which you may request up to two tickets via an online system the day of the performance.

Click here for more information.

Central Park SummerStage: The privately-funded City Parks Foundation celebrates the 25th anniversary of Central Park SummerStage with 33 free concerts and 8 benefit shows featuring a wide variety of artists and performers. Here are some of the highlights.

June 1: The first concert of the season features the New York Pops alongside jazz vocalist Melody Gardot.

June 8: A fundraising benefit featuring the music of Simon & Garfunkel performed by artists such as Shawn Colvin, Aimee Mann, Loudon Wainwright III, Joan Osborne, Dean & Britta, The Holmes Brothers, John Forte, Paula Cole, and more. Proceeds will support City Parks Foundation’s free year-round arts programming. Tickets may be purchased by contacting Jill Rothstein at (212) 360-8170, or by email at In addition, bleacher tickets are available for $69 here.

June 14: Popular West African musician Baaba Maal plays a concert to celebrate Senegal’s independence.

June 15: The John Butler Trio and State Radio come together for another benefit concert. To purchase tickets, click here.

June 23: CareFusion’s Jazz Festival New York featuring the Mccoy Tyner Quartet with Ravi Coltrane and Esperanza Spalding, plus the Francisco Mela & Stanley Clarke Band featuring Hiromi.

July 11: Reggae star Dr. Jimmy Cliff performs with South Carolina native Trevor Hall and Burkina Faso musician Victor Deme.

July 17: Award-winning songwriter, producer, and performer Raphael Saadiq, known for his “old school” soul sounds.

July 23: Comedy Central Park presents The Daily Show and Friends, hosted by Lewis Black.

July 25: Bassekou Kouyate + Ngoni Ba, Burkina Electric, Fool’s Gold explore the past, present, and future of West African music.

July 26: Grammy-winning rockers The Flaming Lips' show is already listed as sold out, but one of the best things about a concert in the park is that you don't necessarily have to be inside the venue to hear it. Plus, there's always craigslist.

July 27/28: Indie pop rockers The Black Keys and The Morning Benders. Ditto the above regarding the show's sold-out status.

August 4: Electropop artists Hot Chip, Hercules and Love Affair, and Holy Ghost!

August 15: Infamous rap artists Public Enemy with Blitz The Ambassador and The 7th Octave.

August 21: Contemporary R&B artists Chrisette Michelle and Mario and Tamia.

For more information and the full schedule, click here.

Happy summer!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Picasso at the Met

Do you prefer the Blue Period or the Rose Period? Cubism or classicism? Or are you uncertain as to what I’m referring? No matter—a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art will help you to answer all of these questions and more.

Starting today, the Met will be featuring an exhibit devoted solely to the works of Pablo Picasso in the museum’s holdings. This means that over 300 of Picasso’s works will be on display, from paintings and drawings to sculptures and ceramic pieces, a collection which has never before been seen in its entirety.

Born in 1881 in Spain, Picasso began painting and drawing at the age of seven. In 1900, he moved to Paris, the art capital of Europe, to work and study in an attempt to further his artistic career, a move that paid off, as, by 1905, he became an established artist moving in prominent artistic and literary circles.

Picasso is best known as the founder of Cubism, a style of painting recognized by its use of one-dimensional shapes. But Picasso’s lengthy career (he lived to the age of 92) consisted of a variety of styles and experimentation. His work prior to 1901 is considered mostly realist, while in 1901 he moved on to his Blue Period, noted for its somber subject matter depicted in shades of blue and green. 1904 began Picasso’s Rose Period, classified by a more upbeat style that featured lively subject matter in warm oranges and pinks.

1907 to 1909 was Picasso’s African-influenced Period, while 1909 to 1912 marked his Cubist years. Following Cubism, Picasso moved on to neoclassicism and surrealism and, in his later years, focused on reinterpreting the works of the great masters.

Works from all stages of Picasso’s productive career will be exhibited at the Met now through August 1. Some of the most notable pieces on display include At the Lapin Agile, Picasso’s portrait of friend Gertrude Stein, Self-Portrait “Yo”, and Seated Harlequin. There are works from all of the artist’s major periods, as well as a selection of his prints.

Whether you’re a tried and true Picasso fan or someone who knows little about his life and works, “Picasso in the Metropolitan Museum of Art” is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about this versatile artist and his remarkable career.

“Picasso in the Metropolitan Museum of Art” will be on display in the Special Exhibition Galleries on the 2nd floor today through August 1, 2010. Free with museum admission.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Spring Outdoors on the UES

April showers bring May flowers . . . right? In this year’s case, it seems to be March that’s bringing the showers, which hopefully means that April and May will be bright, beautiful, and full of springtime blooms. With that in mind, here are a few upcoming events that will get you out to enjoy what we hope will be perfect spring weather.

Let the Games Begin: History of Sports and Recreation in the Park Tour - Put on by the Central Park Conservancy, this one-time-only walking tour of Central Park begins at 65th Street and explores the history of sports in the park, including baseball, horseback riding, ice skating, boating, and the NYC Marathon. The tour takes place on Saturday, April 10th at 10 a.m. Click here for more information.

Concern for Haiti Run/Walk: On Saturday, April 10 at 9:30 a.m., join in for a four-mile run/walk through Central Park to benefit Haiti. Sponsored by Concern Worldwide, all funds raised by the event will go toward emergency response and long-term development efforts in Haiti. Click here for more information and to register now.

Volunteer Gardening at Carl Schurz Park: On Saturday, April 17, get out your gardening gloves and help the Carl Schurz Park Association volunteers tend to the park’s gardens. Meet at the 86th Street Mall by East End Avenue at 10 a.m. And then return on May 8 for the park’s annual plant sale! For more information, click here.

Polar Circle at the Central Park Zoo: While it may not sound very spring-like, the recently renovated Polar Circle is open at the Central Park Zoo this spring, and it features four new King penguins that just arrived last month. Pay them a visit once the weather brightens up, and be sure to check out all the other animals at the zoo.

22nd Annual Broadway Spring Festival: The street fair will span 86th to 96th Streets on Sunday, May 2, providing plenty of food, games, and fun to draw you outdoors for an afternoon.