Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Sacred Stone Suggests That You Immediately Buy Tickets to The Book of Mormon the Musical.

That Sacred Stone's first name is Matt... Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the comedic geniuses behind the hit animated television show, South Park, have taken their satirical edginess all the way to Broadway, with a new musical that has "Tony" written all over it.

The Book of Mormon the Musical is everything you'd expect from Stone and Parker. It is hilariously witty and incredibly, incredibly offensive, just like a good religious satire should be. I was laughing before the show even began, as the pre-curtain set reminded me of the cover of this Asteroids Galaxy Tour album, and I just knew that I was about to see something out of this world.

The cast of characters includes a cameo by the Mormon prophet, Joseph Smith, known for uncovering, in good old "ancient America" (upstate New York to be exact), the sacred gold plates that detailed the Book of Mormon, as shown to him by the angel Moroni, who also has a recurring part in the show. Of course, Stone and Parker could not resist adding other well known historical figures such as Mormon himself, Jesus and... well, a whole lot of scary folk you'll recognize in one of the most interesting and bizarre musical numbers of the show, "Spooky Mormon Hell Dream."

The show follows two mismatched Mormon missionary trainees, "Elder Price" (played by actor Andrew Rannels) and "Elder Cunningham" (played by actor and comedian Josh Gad) as they embark on a proselytizing journey to Uganda. What happens along the way is often so shocking that I am left gaping, mouth-opened, in amazement that this is actually occurring on stage in front of me. The entire time, I and the rest of the audience are also chuckling uproariously. Remember the South Park episode about Scientology, or the epic movie, Bigger Longer & Uncut? This play is like that, times ten, and it's a musical comedy about Mormonism.

Elder Price represents the epitome of what a young Mormon should be. He is charming, professional, slim, good looking and angelic, with slick-backed hair and an even slicker grasp of his religion and what it expects of him. Enter Elder Cunningham, an awkward, heavyset, bubbly, boisterous, kid-like trainee with a sci-fi infused imagination that runs wild, and a clingy affect that draws him to Elder Price quicker than white on rice, much to Elder Price's dismay. Nevertheless, the two must come together to convince the struggling, impoverished Ugandans to subscribe to the eponymous Book of Mormon and become baptized. Mezzo-soprano Nikki M. James plays the beautiful Ugandan, "Nabulungi," and stuns the audience with her spectacular singing talent and wide-eyed innocence.

The show addresses such hot topics as sex, love, religion, racism, AIDS, overlord dictators, politics, history and technology, and by the end of the show, my body was aching from laughing so hard for so long. Before the main actors have even emerged for their curtain call, the entire house is up in a standing ovation.

I wish I could be more specific but the creators of the show purposefully left out any real explanation or even a list of songs in the playbill, and for very good reason.  Just come to this dirty, raucous, racy musical with an open mind, and The Book of Mormon will certainly convert you into a fan. Just remember, tomorrow is a latter day...

The Book of Mormon is currently playing at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre, located at 230 W. 49th Street, between 7th and 8th Avenues. Tickets may be purchased at the theatre's box office, on-line at telecharge.com, or by phone at (212) 239-6200 or (800) 432-7780. A limited number of tickets are also offered each day for only $32 each, via a box office lottery system two-and-a-half hours prior to each performance.


Have you heard about LookyTasty? This great blog by Cindy Waffles follows the adventures of a food enthusiast from kitchen recipes to restaurant dining experiences and more. As Waffles is a native New Yorker, the majority of her posts focus on food available in New York City.

Currently, LookyTasty is offering a very special promotion for one lucky reader, courtesy of Signpost. LookyTasty will be giving away, completely FREE, a $20 voucher for AllMenus.com. Here is what Waffles has to say about AllMenus:

"I don’t order delivery often, but when I do, I like the convenience of ordering online. It can be such a quick and simple process, with a website like Allmenus.com. With over 250,000 restaurant menus, Allmenus.com is the single largest provider of restaurant content and information in the United States. You can search through their selection of menus, read reviews, get restaurant details and delivery info, and place your order. The ordering process is simple. Your only effort would be to decide on where and what to order from all the restaurants to choose from."

You can find all the relevant details for the promotion at LookyTasty's post here.

There are THREE ways to enter, and each method gives you another entry, and another chance at that $20 voucher. You can 1) sign up for Signpost; 2) follow @LookyTasty on twitter and tweet LookyTasty's post about the promotion; or 3) become a fan of LookyTasty on facebook and share the post there. Good luck!!

(In other news, keep following LookyTasty for some cool guest posts by whatsgoodinny...)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Pizza Post Part 3: Embarking on a Pizza Crawl to Explore More of The Best New York Style Pizza in New York.

This past Saturday I spent seven-and-a-half hours eating approximately nine slices of pizza... With a group of roughly ten friends at each stop, we embarked on a "pizza tour," or crawl, if you will, that we created to give us a "taste" of some of the more renoun pizza parlors in the city that many of us had yet to try.

We began the day at Patsy's Pizza, in Harlem, to try their famous, $1.75 "paper thin"coal-oven slice, then headed down to the West Village for a stop at Keste Pizza & Vino, and finally crossed over the East River to test out some Brooklyn dough at Fornino and Motorino in Williamsburg.

Half Plain-Half Pepperoni Pie at Patsy's
Patsy's celebrated it's 75th Anniversary in 2008, and it's no wonder that pizza fans still flock to 117th Street and 1st Avenue for a slice. But watch out, the pizza here is so hot and fresh that you may literally lose your cheese! While the sweet tomato sauce was tasty, I would have preferred if my cheese and topping had stayed on my slice. I enjoy thin crust, but this slice was so thin that I could not pick it up and fold it without losing the best ingredients. When able to actually get it all into one bite, the pizza at Patsy's is solid. I am not sure that I would personally make the trek again just for a slice, but I would certainly make a point of stopping by if ever in the neighborhood again. And at only $11 for a plain pie, it is really a steal. 

Regina Margherita at Keste
We expected a long wait at Keste, located at 271 Bleecker Street, (across from yummy John's!), but found that we were seated after waiting less than ten minutes. The pies, which are made for about two people to share, also cooked up quickly, in only ninety seconds in Keste's fast brick-oven. Apparently the toppings take longer to put together than the baking of each individual pie. Friends chowed down on a specialty pie of the day, a white pie made with a thick mozzarella cheese called burrata, and were uttering all sorts of oohs and ahs over their choice. I shared a "Regina Margherita" pie, which was made of tomatoes, grape tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, basil and olive oil. The crust could have been just a bit crispier, but overall this pie was delicious. The addition of the basil complimented the other ingredients and made for a fine example of what a margherita pie should taste like. (Notably, Keste also offers gluten-free pies).

Following our pizza adventures in Manhattan, we rode the subway from West 4th Street to Delancey, and took advantage of the nice weather by enjoying a leisurely stroll across the Williamsburg Bridge into Brooklyn. 

The "Al Roker"
Our first stop was Fornino, on Bedford and N 7th Street (there is also a Park Slope location). At Fornino, we ordered a margherita pie as well as something called the "Al Roker." The legend goes that Mr. Roker once went into Fornino's, and the owner asked him to put whatever he liked onto a pizza. Thus, this divine slice topped with tomato, mozzarella, fontina, caramelized onion, sopressata, roasted peppers and rosemary was born. This strange mixture was, by consensus, the best overall slice of the day. Although I would not recommend the margherita here, as the sauce was bland and there was not nearly enough cheese, it is definitely worth stopping by for the Al Roker.  

The Best Pizza Ever, aka Margherita DOC
Our final tasting of the day was Motorino, on Graham Avenue, one block south of the Graham Avenue L stop. Here we all agreed that we shared the best margherita pizza of the day, and perhaps ever in NYC (a bold statement, I know!). I have heard that Motorino can be hit or miss (an East Village location is also quite good, but is blown away by it's Williamsburg sister), but this night it was for sure a hit.

Be sure to order the "Margherita DOC" at Motorino, which is made with true "mozzarella di bufala" and is, currently, only available at the Williamsburg location (perhaps that is what makes the difference between the sisters...). Word on the street is that the DOC designation is only given to pies that the Italian government would certify as "authentic."

As if nine slices were not enough, we topped our day off with tiramisu and chocolate cake at Motorino. The chocolate cake was rather dry, but the tiramisu was rich, flavorful, and highly addictive. Mmm, mmm, mmmm! What a day!

UPDATE: Check out the re-post of Pizza Part 3 at lookytasty.com.

Monday, March 21, 2011

SCENEPR!'s Auction for Hope: A Fundraiser for Japan -- April 6

On Wednesday, April 6, media, arts and entertainment network SCENEPR!, will be holding an "Auction for Hope" to raise money for the Japan Society's Earthquake Relief Fund. The event will take place from 7pm to 11pm at bar/lounge Gstaad NYC, located at 43 W. 26th Street, between 5th and 6th Avenues.

If you've been thinking about the terrible destruction and devastation in Japan following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, and you're wondering how you can help, this is your chance!

The benefit will include a three-hour open bar (7pm to 10pm) and silent auction, and some celebrity personalities may be in attendance! Plus, this social event will offer networking opportunities throughout the media, arts and entertainment industries.

Silent auction items are still rolling in, but here are some of the featured items being auctioned off:
+ An Autographed Copy of Justin Nozuka's Latest CD (http://www.justinnozuka.com/)
+ A package of Four (4) private, one hour Pilates sessions ($400 Value)
+ Two (2) Full Passes for the Williamsburg International Film Festival
+ One (1) unlimited subscription to Bizwall.net+design support plus a free, professional artist website with full CMS access
+ One (1) Private Personalized Astrology Session
+ One (1) hour Studio Photography Session by Meagan Cignoli of Visual Country
+ One (1) hour Style Consultation by Dana Prigge, Founder of DailyFashionista
+ One (1) hour business coaching by Mitchel Groter of Quantum Achievement Group

Tickets for the Auction for Hope may be purchased here.
There are two ticket options:
1) A $60.00 "Love" Ticket will get you the three-hour open bar, hor d'oeuvres, AND a raffle ticket for an Apple iPod Touch!
2) A $50.00 "Hope" Ticket will cover the open bar and hor d'oeuvres.
Additional raffle tickets for the iPod Touch can be purchased for $10 each at the event.

Silent Auction and iPod winners will be announced at 10:30pm.

Reserve your tickets today!

For more info on SCENEPR!:

Do you have an item or service you would like to donate to the silent auction? Please let me know ASAP! (Contact: whatsgoodinny@gmail.com).

Friday, March 18, 2011

A Stimulating Evening of Irish Poetry and Prose.

The sizzling "Sapphire Jones"
Last night, in honor of St. Patrick's day, I went to see an Irish literature reading entitled, "The Emerald Isle". As soon as I walked into the dark, sultry upstairs lounge at Madame X, it was clear that something was off that something was the clothing of the readers.... Naked Girls Reading NYC was in the midst of its monthly event at the lounge that hosts, very matter-of-factly, naked girls, reading.

I arrived to see four beautiful, and very naked (bottoms included!) women sitting at the front of the room, sipping cocktails, and a fifth woman, a brunette bombshell pin-up type, who goes by the name of "RunAround Sue," reading George Bearnard Shaw at the microphone. RunAround Sue is wearing nothing but red, fishnet thigh-highs, and high heels. Her eyelids are adorned with sparkling green glitter in a tribute, I imagine, to Saint Patrick himself. I unexpectedly find that I cannot keep my eyes off of her...face. She is absolutely stunning, and she reads with character.

I glance around the room and notice that there appears to be a disproportionate amount of older gentleman who are attending the reading alone, and I am not sure what to make of this. However, I am told that the crowd is typically younger and more co-ed, and I do not doubt it. Personally, I just came for the literature, really, I did. I also notice that, as beautiful as the women are, a couple of them could stand to eat a cheeseburger now and again.

As the evening continues, the girls recite poetry and prose selections from James Joyce, W.B.Yates, Jonathan Swift,  Desmond Hogan, and Bram Stoker, among others. "Honi Harlow"'s reading of "Dracula" particularly titillates me. (Like many, I had believed that Mr. Stoker was English-born, and was surprised to learn that he was actually an Irishman). I learn that Stoker was born in Dublin, but emigrated to England, where he eventually managed the Lyceum Theatre and penned his immortal novel. I become so engrossed in Ms. Harlow's reading that I almost forget that she is standing there stark naked. 

Sexy Sapphire Jones, whose sheer beauty commands attention and who stands out, not simply because of her height, but because of her seemingly intrinsic theatrical ability and superb comedic timing, also really grabs me with her blithe reading of Jonathan's Swift's poem, A Beautiful Young Nymph Going to Bed.

In fact, although the nudity was an amusing gimmick, I found that the ladies generally held their own, reading with feeling, emotion and wit, and I do not believe that the addition of clothing would have made it any less interesting.

For more information on the Naked Girls, see here

Naked Girls Reading NYC performs on the third Thursday of every month at Madame X, located at 94 Houston Street, off of Thompson. The next event, "The Seven Deadly Sins," will take place at Madame X on Thursday, April 21, at 8pm. Tickets are $15 for standing room, $25 for reserved seating with one drink, or $40 for a package for two that includes reserved seating and a drink for each attendee. They can be purchased at Brown Paper Tickets (but be careful, the website is confusing! Make sure you confirm how many tickets you are purchasing before you hit "submit order," as there are no refunds).

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Brooklyn Restaurant Week Details.

From Cindy Waffles of lookytasty.com (edited by WGINY), here is all you need to know about Brooklyn's upcoming Restaurant Week, March 21-31:

Dine In Brooklyn Restaurant Week is approaching!
From March 21st through 31st, over 200 Brooklyn eateries will be offering 3-course prix fixe menus at special prices.

$20.11 for lunch/brunch and $25.00 for dinner!
Some restaurants are offering 2-for-1 deals too!

Offerings vary by restaurant, so call ahead for a reservation and verify their Dine In Brooklyn menus. The list of participating restaurants is available here in PDF, or view them on the Dine In Brooklyn Restaurant Week Map.

[See Cindy Waffles' full post here]

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Review of Club A Steakhouse.

I recently had the opportunity to use the voucher I purchased on yelp, for a four-course dinner and bottle of wine for two, at Club A Steakhouse, located on E. 58th Street, between 2nd and 3rd Avenue. Club A is fairly new to the NYC steak scene, and with powerhouses like Delmonico's and Wolfgang's, to name a few, already dominating, it is certainly tough to establish yourself when your prime meat is well, prime meat. However, judging by my own dining experience, I believe that Club A can adequately rise to the competition.

I decided to treat my dad to the steakhouse for his birthday, and we were both impressed by the immediate hospitality that greeted us as soon as we walked into the restaurant. Owner Bruno personally escorted us to an opulent upstairs dining room, which featured a small fireplace and plush seating, and looked out upon lighted bushes that filled the length of the large picture window at the back of the room. Mirrored walls created the illusion that the room was larger than it actually was. As we were seated, a red rose and a long-stemmed candle were placed on our table, along with a bread basket full of a variety of warm breads to please any palate, such as onion focaccia, rosemary rolls and walnut raisin bread (I had at least one of each...yum!).

With the yelp deal, we were offered a choice between a Malbec and Pinot Grigio. As a rule, I always choose red wine with steak, but it was my dad's night so I let him choose, and he went with the Pinot. (I should have noted the wine names, but I forgot). Nevertheless, mixing red meat with white wine did not taste nearly as controversial as I expected and, in fact, I rather enjoyed it.

For appetizers I was debating between the caesar salad and the thick Canadian bacon (Although I'm not generally bacon's biggest fan, I've had a similar appetizer at Wolfgang's and it was to-die-for), and decided to go with the salad, if only to choose something healthy to accompany all the carbs, steak, alcohol and sweets I would imbibe before the night was through. The salad was good, but a little too much dressing made it tangier than it should have been.

While waiting for our next course, we were served some lobster ravioli "on the house," and it was fantastic (I'm not sure if this is a norm of the restaurant, if it was because of my dad's birthday, or perhaps the waiter overheard my dad and I discussing this blog...). The creamy sauce and tasty lobster meat made this dish really stand out.

Options for entrees were a 10 oz. filet minion, a 12 oz. hanger steak, a veal dish, and some seafood items, such as salmon. Side dish options included potato puree, fries, and creamed spinach. I went with my staple steak, the filet minion, medium-rare, and my dad and I choose to share sides of potato puree and creamed spinach. The steak, garnished with asparagus (my favorite green vegetable!) was of the succulent, melt-in-your mouth variety. The outside was more well-done that I wanted, but the medium-rare inside was perfectly tender. The herbed potato puree was smooth and buttery, and a superb complement for the steak. The creamed spinach was flavorful, but a bit too salty.

There was a constant flow of wait staff who were so attentive, it made me feel like I was some wealthy debutante being doted upon by personal hired servers. Bruno himself made continual rounds to the tables, and when he learned that it was my dad's birthday he had two glasses of champagne brought over for us. The personable owner told us that his family had lived in the building which housed the steakhouse for approximately thirty-three years, but that Club A had only been open for three years, as the business was previously an Italian restaurant.

To top it all off, when the waiter brought our dessert, an array of divine cream puffs and tiramisu drizzled with sweet sauces, "HAPPY BIRTHDAY" had been spelled out in chocolate sauce on the serving plate. We ate to our heart's content and were quite pleased, overall, with the both the quality of the food as well as the ambiance and service. My few, small complaints did not belittle the meal at all, as we delighted in our meal until the last bite.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Care to Take a Walk Through Your Brain?

Then head to the American Museum of Natural History's latest special exhibit, Brain: The Inside Story, on through August 15, 2011.  Although the museum's general admission is actually only a "suggested donation," for this exhibit you'll have to pay full price. Entrance into the exhibit is $20 for adults and $11 for children (members get into special exhibitions for free), or you can purchase a museum ticket that includes this and/or other exhibits, such as the IMAX theater or the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space.

You will receive a timed-entry ticket for the exhibit, but you should still arrive early as lines will form regardless of entry time. Also, although we were told the exhibit would only take an hour to see, and we bought a ticket to a following IMAX screening of Sea Rex: Journey to a Prehistoric World, at the next available hour, I would suggest leaving, at minimum, an hour and a half for the Brain exhibit, as we were forced to skip over parts of it in order to make our IMAX show on time.

Upon beginning your journey into the Brain, you will walk through a larger-than-life, colorful fiber-optic neural pathway that will lead you to the interactive adventure awaiting inside. There, you will learn about memory, cognition, breathing and other functions controlled by the most complex organ in the body. You can peer into the brain activity of a dancer preparing for an audition, and learn how practice leads to fluidity, as it "creates more efficient neural pathways." (So, tell your mom that she was right all along, that practice really does make perfect, and you now know how to get to Carnegie Hall...).

Perhaps surprisingly to those who have never studied it, the average human brain is only three pounds, about the size of a cantaloupe. Yet, the brain is constantly changing and, as you proceed through the exhibit, you'll be invited to participate in perception tests, foreign language games, and other experiments designed to guide you further along the neural paths that lead to the exhibit's exit.

You'll learn about all five senses controlled by the brain, sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell, and how they interact to collect information (and ferret out misinformation) about the world around you. Did you know that your brain runs on electricity? Or that different parts of your brain are stimulated by different activities such as listening to music, or telling a lie? How about that if all of the neurons in your brain were marbles, you would have enough marbles to fill the New York Public Library?

Relative to body size, humans have larger brains than any other animal, yet many of us do not know enough about this important organ that controls every minute of our waking, and our sleeping, life. You will have a fascinating time exploring these and other facts at the Brain exhibit. So, set aside an hour and a half, go to the American Museum of Natural History, and take a walk through your brain.

The American Museum of Natural History is located at 79th and Central Park West.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Why You Should Stop By Rudy's Bar and Grill.

In accordance with this post, my friend and I headed down to Delta Grill tonight for their Mardi Gras celebration. We were greeted by a huge line and, upon glancing inside, although there was no place to sit and the place was jam-packed, the scene actually seemed somewhat lame, and not worth the $20 head-charge. So, we began walking down 9th Avenue to see what else we could find.

I was hungry, and my friend suggested that we go to Rudy's Bar and Grill, for cheap pitchers of beer and free hot dogs. I wasn't sure that I could stomach eating hot dogs, as I had never found them very appealing in the past, but I obliged and we headed to 44th Street and 9th Ave. Upon entering the laid-back dive bar, I knew we had found a cool place to relax. There was no Fat Tuesday theme, except for the bartender wearing exactly one strand of beads, but you can't really go wrong with pitchers of beer that start at $7 and some epic rock music playing out over the bar's speaker system. As I nervously bit into one of the free hot dogs that came with our drinks, smothered in a mixture of garden variety ketchup and mustard, I suddenly exclaimed, "Oh! I guess I do like hot dogs!" I then proceeded to eat two more. We each bought one pitcher and the total per person charge came to $11, including tips. The booths, if you can get one, are not the most comfortable, but you get what you pay for. I would certainly return.

Trendy Jazz Vocalist Series Every Wednesday Night in Chelsea.

Every Wednesday evening, music, arts and recording studio "Zeb's" (short for Zebulon Sound and Light) runs a Jazz Vocalist Series featuring a different performer. Some of the musicians are "up and coming" while others are more seasoned artists, but nearly all give pretty memorable performances. Last time I attended, singer Gregory Porter was the featured vocalist and was also promoting his new CD, Water, which was nominated for a Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Album, a fun fact that Mr. Porter happened to learn on his way to Zeb's that evening! Tomorrow night's vocalist, who I am quite excited to see, is Johnny O'Neal, who was featured in the movie Ray as famed jazz pianist, Art Tatum.

The doors at the large loft-style studio, located at 228 W. 28th Street, 2nd floor, open at 8pm, although artists do not usually start until around 8:30 or 8:45pm. After an approximately one-hour set by the featured vocalist, "professional" singers and musicians are invited to participate in a jam session that sometimes goes on for hours (if you want to sing, sign up at the front door when you come in).

There is some limited seating, and there is also plenty of standing room. Cover is $10 and there are usually free cookies as well as $5 glasses of self-service wine (money for wine is collected in an honesty jar of sorts).

Be sure to look down, around and up when you arrive at the loft. There are many unique and unusual art pieces made by Zeb himself (aka Saul Zebulon Rubin). Zeb is also involved in various other musical and artistic ventures. His studio hosted the 2010 NYC Jazz Guitar Festival, and Zeb also contributes his talents to jazz quartets around NYC and is a member of the groovy indie-rock band, Juicy Bruce, which will be performing at the studio on March 26.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

I'm Burning for Joanna Burns!

Joanna Burns sings "Where You Stand"

This past Friday afternoon, I came across an event announcement for a performance by singer/songwriter Joanna Burns, taking place at Canal Room. I watched the video embedded above, was instantly hooked to her music, and invited a friend to go to her show that evening.

Canal Room was not as packed as I would have expected for this talented singer, but after watching her perform I am sure that she will be playing to sold-out crowds soon.  (I paid $12 for a ticket but for what I got out of it, I would have paid at least twice that!). I am going to make a bold statement right now and say that Joanna could hold her own in a sing-off against top divas like Whitney Houston (no joke, Joanna’s ability to belt out “And I-ee-I will always love you” blew me away…). She is not only a talented composer and singer, but she is funny and spunky on stage. Her witty comments to the crowd and her dimpled smile light up the room before she even begins to sing, and then, when her hands hit the keyboard and her voice hits the microphone, the audience is fully transported into her world of musical bliss. Some songs even involve audience participation...

Although Joanna performs mostly original music, she is also known for a medley or “sampler” of no less than nine songs from some of the most famous female pop and rock vocalists of our time – in addition to Whitney, she can do Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey and Christina Aguilera, to name a few. As I listened to her powerful, soulful sound and watched her fingers gracefully tickle the ivory keys, I was reminded of a singer she did not throw into her song medley, Alicia Keys (with a hint of Ben Folds, who the singer does list as an influence), and I knew that I was watching a budding star. 

Be sure to keep your eyes (and your ears) on Joanna Burns. Her album, The Green Year, comes out May 1. You can also buy the single "Us," right now, at http://joannaburns.bandcamp.com/, for whatever price you wish!  If you missed Joanna at Canal Room, check her tour schedule here. Unfortunately, she does not have any upcoming NYC shows planned, but she will be at neighboring Orange County Community College this week, will be performing at SXSW in Austin (okay, nowhere near NYC, but I know some readers who will be traveling to the festival), and will be at the Brookdale Performing Arts Center in Lincroft, New Jersey on May 1 for Green Year's release.  

Friday, March 4, 2011

Girls, Please Keep Your Shirts On...

This isn't New Orleans! Nevertheless, on "Fat Tuesday," which is rapidly approaching on March 8, you can score some beads, as well such southern delicacies as fried gator, crawfish boil and jambalaya, while drinking frozen hurricanes and listening to live bluegrass music. 

Two good ole' southern-style bars planning Mardi Gras celebrations:

At The Delta Grill, located on the corner of 48th and 9th, for $20 admission you get a free hurricane, a buffet of crawfish boil, jambalaya, chicken creole and red beans and rice. Doors open at 5pm, food is available starting at 6pm and Citigrass Band will be entertaining revelers from 7pm to midnight.

Rodeo Bar, a personal favorite of mine, located on the corner of 27th and 3rd, never charges a cover, makes strong drinks and allows you to throw peanut shells on the saloon-style floor. Rodeo has live, danceable country, rockabilly and bluegrass music every night and never charges a cover. For Fat Tuesday, they will be having drink and food specials on hurricanes, jambalaya and fried gator (it tastes like chicken, really, it does!...), and Bill Sims, Jr. will start playing at 9pm. In theory, you could start out at Delta Grill, catch the Shuttle or the 7 from Times Square to Grand Central, and then grab the 6 train down to 28th and Park, to continue your night at Rodeo Bar.

google search for "fat tuesday nyc" also led me to the following parties:

Village Pourhouse's Fat Tuesday, at 7pm. No cover, no food specials (although they do have a regular menu). Drink specials and "dress to impress." I often find Village Pourhouse to be overrated and crowded. I'm still rooting for Delta or Rodeo.

"The Biggest Fat Tuesday Party in New York City," according to their own website, is at Southern Hospitality BBQ. I've never been here so I can't comment, but I'm skeptical, especially of their "cash prizes for best Mardi Gras spirit..."

Annual Mardi Gras Ball at Le Poisson Rouge, sponsored by Two Boots Pizzeria, (which makes very tasty pizza for a chain, especially the "Cleopatra Jones" slice) at 7pm. $25 cover, or $100 for VIP dinner and open bar, benefits The Lower East Side Girls Club, and you can get a discount with promotional code "TWOBOOTS11".  Poisson Rouge is your typical NYC club, it's loud and colorful, and drinks are expensive, but, for what it is, it's a good time. For this particular party there will be a costume contest, ping-pong, a coronation of a lucky "King and Queen," and a give away trip to New Orleans.

If you're really looking to drop some dough on Fat Tuesday, for $125 per person, BR Guest seafood restaurant Blue Water Grill (a favorite of mine for very occasional fancy food nights) will be serving a New Orleans three course prix-fixe menu, to include items such as Oysters Bienville (I'm not really sure what that is, but BWG oysters never disappoint...) and Lobster Jambalaya. Accompanying music in the Grill's jazz dining room provided by All Saint's Brass Band. $15 from every ticket purchase will be donated to the Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund.
Yet a few more suggestions: http://manhattan.about.com/od/eventsandattractions/a/mardigrasnewyork.htm

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Pack Your Camera and Head Down to the Statue of Liberty Before the Fall.

Last summer, the National Park Service announced that the Statue of Liberty would be closing for renovations this upcoming Fall. Mistakenly believing that it would be closing in the Spring, my roommate and I made recent plans to visit and ascend through Her inner beauty, all the way up to the crown. Although we chose a February morning to visit, and were prepared to be greeted with whatever form of clouds and icy precipitation Mother Nature would send our way, we were instead given a beautiful, warm (well, for February), clear day. As we rode the ferry towards the majestic symbol of our city and, for many, our nation, we tried to imagine what it must have been like for early immigrants to gaze upon her for the first time, after weeks of weary traveling.

Only 240 people are allowed in the crown daily, and tickets must be purchased well in advance, here. I recommend buying tickets for the crown at least a month or two ahead of time, especially if you intend to visit on a weekend, and you should also order reserved tickets even if you only want to visit the outdoor observatory pedestal (the crown observatory is indoors, but well worth it). Be prepared to be thoroughly screened by security officers at Battery Park, where you’ll board the ferry to Liberty Island, and then again before you enter Miss Liberty. If you are lucky enough to get crown tickets, you will be required to leave all personal items, with the exception of a handheld camera, in fee lockers at the base of the statue. 

Stairs to the crown.
At Liberty Island, you’ll be able to take in panoramic views of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and parts of New Jersey, from a wide variety of perspectives, depending on your ticket. Make sure you purchase the ticket that is best for you—consider whether you want to just visit the Island and its museum on the history of the Statue (did you know that Alexander Gustave Eiffel was pivotal in Lady Liberty's design??), whether you want to head inside the monument and glimpse some views from her pedestal, or whether you have the stamina to climb the 300+ stairs to the crown. No matter your vantage point, you surely will not be disappointed, provided the weather chooses to agree. However, if do you make it all the way to the top, at least you can cross that one off of your bucket list. The rangers were unable to provide a date when the crown and general statue access might re-open after 2011. Set aside 45min to an hour for the museum, and at least another hour for the climb up the winding stairs to the crown and back down, in addition to some time to just walk around Her. Your next stop should be Ellis Island, via ferry, but first consider grabbing a bite to eat at the only café on the Island (there is also a café on Ellis Island).

An immigrant recalls her arrival. 
At Ellis Island, you’ll have the opportunity to walk through the very same halls that may have been the first building your ancestors entered in the United States, if they came to New York between 1892 and 1924, riding third-class on a steamship (apparently first and second-class passengers were screened on the boat, while third-class passengers were shuffled toward Ellis Island for a more intense screening process). If you’re a history buff, you should allow at least 2 hours for the museum inside the Island’s main building. Follow the path of an immigrant as she or he was first processed on the Island, including medical screenings, literacy tests, psychological tests, and more. Despite all of these potential barriers, while some were forced to spend an extended stay on the Island before they were officially admitted into the United States, only approximately 2% of those who arrived were actually sent back to their countries of origin. If you happen to know the name of your ancestor(s) who came through Ellis Island, you may even be able to track them through computerized programs at the museum.

Try to start your day as early as possible, as it will surely get away from you before you know it, and make sure to note the ferry arrival and departure times to and from each Island and Battery Park.