Tuesday, June 30, 2009

ZenYC

Zen (noun) – “a Japanese form of Buddhism that concentrates on learning through meditation and intuition.” Free Online Dictionary

NYC is called the urban jungle for a reason: it’s an intense, concentrated place with all sorts of wildness and dangers and mysterious things lurking wherever you go. Our city is certainly comparable to a den of wild animals sometimes, and the population density has the same combustible elements of any diverse ecosystem or interdependent habitat.

And like the jungle, you experience nonstop sensory overload in NYC. You can’t go anywhere without having people, traffic, noise … stuff! … coming at you ad nauseam, ad infinitum.

Sometimes you just want to get away from it all but you don’t have the time or cash for a trip outta town. What do you do? Where do you go?

Best idea: find Zen. Inner peace. Locate an internal mental/emotional oasis of relaxation. Take a vacation within yourself. Get calm. Chill out.

But how?

How can such a thing be done within the confines of the urban jungle? How do you get all Zenny in this city? When you’re paying a fortune to live in a pillbox with crazy neighbors and loud traffic outside your door, how in God’s name can you just escape into your mind and spirit?

Oh sure, you can go get a massage or take a Yoga class, and those things are great but they can be expensive. The question is, where can you literally go in NYC to travel into yourself … and get out of all the craziness for a moment?

Mr NYC took a small non-scientific Facebook survey of some of his fellow New Yorkers and got some ideas. These are places in our fair city, thusly dubbed Zen Spots, where you can go and find mental and emotional calm. These are places that are not only relaxing but that give you additional elements of … ahhhhhhhmmmmmmhmmmmmummmmmmommmmmmzzzzzzzzzzennnn.

Based on my survey, I’ve just given what I hope are but a few of the best Zen Spots in town. If you, my dear readers, have any other good ideas of places to find Zen in NYC, please please please do share them. You will be doing your fellow New Yorkers a great public service.

So here it is, ZeNYC (so far):

“Used to love Carl Schurz park when I lived on the UES. Now I wander through the woods in Prospect Park. The lake at sunrise can't be beat and, oddly enough, I find inner peace right smack in the middle of Union Square. Consistently. No clue why.”

“The church yard of Trinity Church or the Japanese tea house at the Met.”

“Cloisters in Dyckman. A train to 190th. Walk up Fort Tryon park. Good, unique view of the George at sunset. OK medieval museum too...”

“Walking through the streets (usually the ones that are lined with townhouses and glorious trees rate higher on the peace than lets say Time Square) of New York City... isn't there a song like this?”

“Bethesda Fountain.”

Mr NYC’s own: the Brooklyn Promenade at night as well as the park just beneath the Brooklyn Bridge. The lake at the lower edge of Central Park. The Temple of Dendaur at the Met. The Astoria Park pool.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Do The Right Thing@20

Twenty years ago this summer Spike Lee's Do The Right Thing hit movie theaters and sparked immediate controversy. Some saw it as a bold and insightful expose of race relations in NYC (and America beyond) and others saw it as nothing more than an angry Black Power rant.

Of course, when it was made, who would have ever thought there would be black a president within a generation?

Widely considered Spike's best movie, Do The Right Thing is still being talked about two decades later. Love it or hate it, it's made a lasting impact -- and is therefore one of the most important movies about NYC.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Times and Tribulations of the Triboro Bridge

The Triboro Bridge is now the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge -- why it was changed, I'll never understand. Anyway, for any of your NYC junkies out there, here's a thumbnail history of this most legendary of public works.

Remembering Stonewall 40 Years Later


Today is the 40th Annual Gay Pride Parade here in NYC, and my wife and I just returned from walking in the West Village where we threaded our way amongst the revelers. It was a boisterous, happy crowd, and we even spotted a few drag queens along the way.

But today is a milestone in New York City history and in the history of the gay rights movement. Forty years ago this very night, at the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street, police raided and beat up the bar's homosexual patrons -- and they fought back hard. Dubbed the "Stonewall Riots", it was a watershed moment in the history of gay America, one of the first times where a marginalized, discriminated minority stood up for itself and resisted institutional brutality.

After that, gay men and women became more noticeable on the cultural radar, and in the 1970s more and more gay people came out of the closet. Movies like The Boys in the Band and TV shows like Soap and books like Armistead Maupins Tales of the City brought homosexual life to life for millions of Americans. Since then, homosexual culture has practically become mainstream.

Unfortunately, discrimination dies hard. There are still no Federal laws protecting homosexuals and, of course, many states have banned gay marriage and prevented millions of men and women from enjoying the same economic and civil rights that we heterosexual Americans enjoy. Shameless politicians demonize and exploit homosexuals, and play upon the fears and prejudices of the ignorant and hateful, for their own political gain. And violence against homosexuals -- which is nothing but pure terrorism -- remains a constant problem.

However, as Stonewall showed, a society can only oppress a minority group for so long before they fight back. Happily gay marriage has been legalized in several states in this country and hopefully it will be legal here in New York State soon -- if our dysfunctional legislature can ever get its act together.

So let's hope that for the gay rights movement -- which is really a human rights movement, a recognition that all men and women should have equal rights under the law -- their full acceptance by American society will come very soon.

P.S. Allegedly the people gathering in Stonewall on July 28, 1969 were there mourning the death of Judy Garland who died 40 years ago this month. This has been disputed by some but Judy was and is a gay icon so this does make some sense.

nycpride

Saturday, June 27, 2009

He left his heart in Astoria


Wherever you go, whoever you talk to, one thing seems to be on peoples' minds this weekend: Michael Jackson is dead!

And certainly, Mr NYC wishes flights of angels to sing to the King of Pop to his rest (or maybe he'll do the singing).

Granted, MJ was one very weird dude and he had lots of private problems (ain't that an understatement?), but there's no question that his music was amazing, universal, and perennial. Young as he was (only 50 years old!), Jacko was truly the last of a dying breed, the super world-wide megastar, and there really isn't anyone in music nowadays who can quite take his place. We probably won't see his likes again anytime soon.

That said, for my money, Tony Bennett has always been the kind of singer and star I've admired most. Classy. Sophisticated. Fun. Aspirational. And humble.

Tony Bennett doesn't try to WOW his audience, at least not in any over the type kind of way; instead, he wants his music to tap into your better nature and draw out your best feelings about life. You're WOWed, in fact, by his ability to do just this.

Listening to Tony Bennet sing -- "croon" is a better word -- you feel the beauty and comfort that great music, gorgeously sung, can bring to the human spirit. Whether it's "I Left My Heart in San Francisco", "Rags to Riches", "Put on a Happy Face" -- whatever! -- you get the sense that the world is actually a better place than sometimes it seems.

And the other thing that's great about Tony Bennett: he never forgot where he came from. He's an Astoria boy, grew up "right across the river" in that little neighborhood tucked into northeastern Queens. (Puts him in great company too: Ethel Merman and Christopher Walken are native Astorians as well). Tony likes to come back to Astoria from time to time, visit his old haunts, and eat at his favorite restaurants. He even named one of his albums after Astoria.

But it goes deeper than that. Tony Bennett has helped build a new building in his old neighborhood for the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Astoria. Tony just sang at the Class of 2009 commencement and the new auditorium in this space has been named after him. How cool.

And, like MJ's, Tony Bennett's music is timelessly great. We certainly won't see his likes again but fortunately for us, even at 82 years old, Tony Bennett ain't slowing down any time soon.

One of the greatest singers who ever lived. A huge celebrity. A neighborhood guy.

That's Mr NYC's kinda star.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

NYC Prep SUCKS

My darling wife decided, for kicks, to watch this new reality show called NYC Prep -- and she made me watch it too.

Five minutes in, I wanted to do an Elvis and shoot the friggin' TV set in. This is the most awful, miserable, worthless show that has ever fouled up The Box. It's so bad, so so so so so so so so bad, and the kids on this show are so so so so so so so shallow and narcissistic and stuck up and AAHHHHHGHGHG!!!!! I CAN'T EVEN WRITE ABOUT THIS SHOW INTELLIGENTLY! It's that wretched.

I am, I confess, a product of the NYC prep school community and, yes, there were some truly horrible kids like the ones of this show there. In fact, most of them were truly horrible and, who knows, maybe they thought I was horrible too.

But I wasn't like any of the kids on this ... I won't even dignify it by calling it a show.

I wasn't (and am not) rich, I didn't (and don't) have any connections, I didn't (and don't) spend my time partying and hanging out in clubs (because I wasn't and am not cool or good-looking enough), and I didn't (and don't) score lots of hot chicks (again, because I wasn't cool or rich or good-looking enough).

Of course, I guess I'm just jealous. So sue me. But at least I have better values then of these miserable twerps.


So please believe me when I tell you that not ALL NYC PREP SCHOOL KIDS ARE WORTHLESS JERKS! Just most of them are. But not all ... and that's the most important thing to remember.

BTW, this New York magazine article misquotes one of the kids on this show. It quotes him as saying "Money flows like water in New York." Actually this dummy said "Money flows like the wind in New York."


Okay, and I just wasted five-minutes blogging about this show so now that's 10 minutes it's sucked out of my life. And I'm the real dummy here since I actually wrote about this damn thing!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

We still have Nixon to kick around!

Barack H. Obama is our 44th president and the first bi-racial president.

Richard M. Nixon was our 37th president and a psychopathic criminal.

He ordered break-ins and cover ups, sold his office for campaign money, stole public funds for private use, cheated on his taxes, used the IRS and Justice Department to harass his political opponents, hired goons to beat up anti-war protesters, spied on Democrats and investigated their private lives, illegally wire-tapped journalists' phone calls, lied to the American people about Vietnam, and was forced to resign in disgrace.

And that's just some of the bad stuff he did.

But despite all that, Nixon was really worried about America losing its soul. He thought America wasn't moral enough. And as the latest bunch of White House tapes released today from the National Archives reveal, he was against abortion -- except in certain circumstances.

On the tape out today -- recorded on January 23, 1973, the day after the Roe v. Wade decision came down from the Supreme Court -- Nixon says there are times "when an abortion is necessary. I know that. When you have a black and a white ... Or a rape.”

Wow! So if Tricky Dick had had his way, Barack Obama would never have been born. In Nixon's mind, Obama's conception was basically akin to rape. Yuck!

Dick Nixon's brand of dark, dishonest, fear-based politics has had a lasting impact on today's Republican party. Anyone who lived through the last eight years of the Bush presidency knows that. (Former VP Dick Cheney got his start in the Nixon administration. Big surprise.)

In the early 1970s, of course, George W. Bush was too much of a drunken slob to work in a diner let alone in the Nixon administration -- but his daddy did. When this tape was made, George H.W. Bush was the UN Ambassador here in NYC and Nixon called him on New Year's Eve, 1971.

This tape, though short, is fascinating. First, it was recoded late that night but Nixon is alone at the White House. You see what a weird, introverted loner he was. Second, you hear what a desperate pathetic kiss-ass Bush Senior was. Third, Bush makes a passing comment about living "in royal splendor" -- that splendor being the Waldorf Astoria hotel.

At one point, Nixon asks Bush about "fighting that New York society crowd" and Bush says that he doesn't like living in NYC or having his family here. Of course, that didn't stop Nixon from moving to NYC after his presidency and, of course, Bush was descended from a rich Wall Street family!

What hypocrites! But then again, how typical of Republicans.

Monday, June 22, 2009

New York and Dysfunctional Democracy

I love New York and I love New Yorkers but let's face it, some of our fellow citizens are just slimy -- and the slimiest of them seem to end up either in or influencing our government.

Too whit: this New York State Senate coup/stalemate/comi-tragic situation is now two weeks old. And it's all due to these two unhinged goons, Hiram Monserrate and Pedro Espada, one of whom is an indicted assaulter of women, the other a creepy operator just one step ahead of the law -- for now.

This Village Voice article gives you more history on these two con men who are, beyond corrupt, just really, really weird. Monserrate is a Scientologist ('nuff said) and Espada ... his entire career been able crossing and double-crossing people for his own advantage. Egads.

But these guys aren't the only ones. Here's another story that defies belief: an influential NYC Rabbi named Glanz managed to arrange, last year, a lavish Bar Mitzvah for the family of a prisoner in a New York City jail! This thing has become something of a scandal since, you know, prisoners aren't supposed to be able to do things like this!

Do you think Bernie Madoff is gonna get to have a sedar in his little rat cage? Think not.

And add to that this whole sleazy undermining of term limits and you feel that New York democracy is messhugah! The whole city and state is being run by creeps!

The principles of democratic government is that the people govern themselves. Generally this works out and prevents despotism. We dislike the idea of a "ruling class" or noblesse oblige, people born and bred to run the government, people who think they know better than us about how we should live. We call these kinds of people the worst thing you can be called these days: elitists!

But when you get idiots like Monserrate and Espada holding office, when you have people like this weirdo Rabbi Ganz holding sway over our politicians, you seriously have to wonder whether this democratic experience, where the "people" rule is really the most brilliant idea humanity has ever invented. Maybe being an elitist isn't such a bad thing.

But I guess Winston Churchill was right: democracy is the worst form of government ever invented -- except for all the others. And New York City and State right now is proving the "worst" aspect of that statement beautifully.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

It's the rage!

June 2009 will go down in history as the month where NYC practically drowned. Literally.

Twenty days into this month and it has rained every ... single ... day.

Unstoppable. Relentless. It just keeps coming and coming. We get a moment of sunshine here and there, and then ... it rains again.

Oy vey. No relief for the weary.

Perhaps its global warming or a some kind of fakata pressure system. Whatever. It's annoying. And it won't stop.

This rain has been wrecking havoc on weekend outings, BBQs, baseball games, outdoor parties, you name it. People have had to re-schedule -- and then re-schedule again -- their outdoor activities. Even funerals.

This city is losing its mind.

The New York Times has a great term for psychological effect its having on people -- rain rage.

Count me as one of the raging. It has repeatedly delayed our much anticipated pilgrimage to the new High Line park. Who wants to walk around this amazing new creation ... all wet?

At least it gives me and everyone I know an excuse to stay in doors and be lazy. But it's the summer ... and we New Yorkers want to go out -- literally! -- and have fun!

The only thing to do in a frustrating time like this is to try to see the ... poetry in it. Try to see the ... music. And when it comes to poetry and music and rain in NYC, I can only think of the closing words of Suzanne Vega's timeless "Tom's Restaurant" where she beautifully sings:

"Oh, this rain

It will continue
Through the morning
As I'm listening

To the bells
Of the cathedral
I am thinking
Of your voice...

And of the midnight picnic
Once upon a time
Before the rain began...

I finish up my coffee
It's time to catch the train"

Thursday, June 18, 2009

If you get caught between the moon and New York City ...

"... the best that you can do ..."

A great NYC movie, Arthur was a big hit back in 1981 and won two Oscars -- Best Supporting Actor for the legendary John Gielgud and Best Original Song for this song by Christopher Cross.

In 1982, on Night of 100 Stars, Christopher Cross performed his hit song with the movie's star, Dudley Moore, accompanying him on piano. It's quite touching to see. Sadly, Dudley Moore died in 2002 and Christopher Cross dropped out of show business for a long, long time after this. But this song has a certain timeless beauty, that celebrates love, fun, and, of course, New York City.

This song has a rather complicated title: it's alternatively called "Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)" or "The Moon and New York City." Either way, it's a great song, and don't forget ...

"... best that you can do ... is fall in love ..."

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Bloomberg the Golf Nut


Our billionaire mayor is totally obsessed with golf.

What a surprise.

For the life of me, I'll never understand what it is about this game that makes people so obsessed with it. I've sworn never to try playing it myself for fear that, like drugs, I might become addicted. It seems to addict many.

Part of me believes that very few people actually enjoy playing this game. Knocking a little white ball around a big field just seems ... so ... boring. Maybe I'm wrong but I don't think so.

I think it's largely a macho thing -- guys are super-competitive with one another, always trying to measure themselves against the other (and when I say measure, you know what I'm really talking about), and playing golf and having a "great handicap" is just another part of this whole ... measurement process.

And Bloomberg, for all his accomplishments, is just another measurer IMO.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

More Woody

And if you can't get enough Woody, here's a long article about our favorite nebbish from Vanity Fair in 2005, around the same time Match Point was released.

Woody Speaks!


The legendary New York filmmaker Woody Allen doesn't give a lot of interviews -- let alone a long one on the radio. But Woody just gave one to Terry Gross on NPR's Fresh Air and it's great.

He talks about his career, his movies, his philosophy on life (basically, that is sucks) as well as his new film, Whatever Works, starring Larry David.

You can hear it ... here.


Interesting thing about this movie: Woody actually wrote this script more than thirty years ago, in 1977, around the same time Annie Hall came out. Like many of Woody's movies, he wrote the first draft and then left it in the drawer for a while (in this case, a long while) before resuscitating it.

Let's hope this movie was worth the wait!

Monday, June 15, 2009

No More Virgins in NYC


The last big retail music store in town closed yesterday -- the Virgin Megastore in Union Square (the big store in Times Square closed not so long ago).

This really is the end of an era.

All the big-time music stores -- the Virgins, the HMVs, the Tower Records, etc. -- are all gone now. The huge, multi-level stores where you could walk around, browse music and movies, discover new music, or just kill time with friends or alone are no more and, with the exception of Barnes and Noble and Borders (which are dwindling as well), there are fewer and fewer public "media" centers for New Yorkers. Now everything is online. More convenient, maybe, but less communal.

Personally I never loved these huge stores -- the music was always blasting and I could never find the music that I wanted to listen too. Still, it was nice to have them and, speaking for all New Yorkers, I know they'll be missed.

The Loneliest Woman in New York

Guess who this might be?

Thinking ... thinking ... thinking ...

Find out here!

(And when you do, you won't be surprised.)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The New American Wing at the Met

Years in the making, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has finally unveiled its restored American Wing. Opened last month to great fanfare (our lovely First Lady Michelle Obama cut the ribbon), this new multistory exhibition is gorgeous and amazing.

You must, must go.

Run, don't walk.

It has been vastly improved since it's last incarnation, with more space and light, along
with additional rooms and art on display. There is lots (and I mean lots) of Tiffany art, including beautiful stained glass windows, a fountain, paintings, and columns. The old courtyard has been leveled and contains several more sculptures, and there is more space to walk around comfortably.

Inside the old stone bank entrance facade, I lost count of how many beautiful period rooms we walked through. Most of them are replicas of rooms found in homes of the wealthy from the nineteenth century, and they are mind-blowingly ornate and luxurious. There is also a room designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and, on the third floor, there are rooms from Colonial America.


The improvements go beyond the aesthetic. Several of the rooms have electronic touch screens that contain
silhouettes of the rooms and you can get more info on the various objects on d
isplay in the rooms.

One thing I really love (and the Met has this in the new Greek and Roman Galleries as well) is visible storage -- vast spaces with various objects stored in long glass cases. This is stuff that the museum owns, and are of the period, but that aren't part of any one particular exhibit. The visible storage area here includes a vast array of American decorative china, glass ware, tea and coffee services, tables, chairs, dressers, wardrobes, book cases, sofas, vases, etc. It's definitely worth checking out.

Mr NYC officially gives the new American wing a big thumbs up.

P.S. I have fond memories of going to the American wing as a child with my mother so it was like a rite of passage to go to the new and improved American wing with my wife. Plus ca change ...

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The High Line Film

Recently, the first part of the High Line -- the new park in the sky, built on an old abandoned railroad track in western Manhattan -- opened to the public. Getting married, various other obligations, and lousy weather has made impossible for me to visit it yet but I can't wait to see it. I know a few people who've already gone and they say it's amazing.

This short film from 2006 gives the background on this project and the full vision for it. will become when all of the other parts have been completed. This is really the first 21st century park, building a park that is part of the city, that re-purposes a part of the city's infrastructure for the people, and the helps build neighborhood. Let's hope this is only the beginning for this kind of thing.

Only in New York.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Food in NYC


NYC is a great food town, and I'm not just talking about the fact that this is probably the best restaurant city in the world (although citizens of Paris might claim their city is the best; let's call it a draw). Anyway, in the last few years, with the local grown/organic food movement taking shape, New Yorkers are getting more interested in doing such novel things as buying and cooking their own food -- and not always eating out and ordering in.

Increasingly, we Gothamites are interested in where our food comes from, how it's grown, and how we can prepare it ways that are both healthy and tasty for us. This goes beyond just going to the supermarket and cracking open a recipe book. I know some people who have compost heaps in their buildings' backyards and are growing their own fruits and vegetables. People are seeking out grocery stores that sell locally grown food. Greenmarkets and farmer markets are getting more popular (the one in Union Square is the best known; there's also one outside of Columbia University that is set up twice a week; there are others around the city). There are even now carts serving poor areas selling fresh fruits and vegetables -- and business is booming.

This is an encouraging development. You only have to look at the obesity epidemic to see
why eating fast food and junk and prepared foods with lots of preservatives and fat isn't good. Also, in the last few years, grocery stores have been closing in poor neighborhoods, leaving the people who live there with little else but fast food -- and they've been suffering the resulting health problems. Not only that, but one of the downsides of gentrification has been that fruit and vegetable stores have been closing so there are fewer options for good, fresh fruits and vegetables (not that what you get in supermarkets is bad but there's better selection in these stores; fortunately, here in Queens, there are still some of these stores left).

This month the Leonard Lopate show on WNYC is doing a series called Food in the City about this very topic. He interviews NYC food experts and they examine "
the different ways that food makes us New Yorkers." I heard the first segment of it today and it was great so I strongly suggest checking it out.

Basically where we live has a lot to do with what we eat. And if you are what you eat, and where you live has a lot to do with what you eat, then you eat where you live and you are where live.

Mr NYC, for one, has no problem consuming this great metropolis. It's quite yummy.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

More Coup Crap

So this GOP power grab in the New York State Senate is still making news. This is really a comedy-tragedy, a hypocritical circus that shows you how ridiculous and depraved politics in this state has become -- and how our politicians have the tinniest of tin ears.

First, the indicated assaulter Hiram Monserrate, one of the traitorous Democrats who helped the Republicans engineer this coup, said this afternoon “I made a bold decision to support change and reform, but I also understand that that change and reform is only effective when we ensure participation by both parties ...”

Let's get this straight: this criminal is advocating reform and, after throwing the political balance in this state into disarray, is calling for unity? He's got some balls! I guess when you're a psychopath like this guy clearly is, being a hypocrite is no big deal. I'm sure he sleeps well at night though.

But Hiram is small change compared to this Pedro Espada guy. This other great "reformer" is the epitome of how corrupt and foul Albany is. Jim Dwyer in the New York Times today writes about how Espada has literally stolen food from poor people to give to his cronies, has been fined over $60,000 for campaign violations, and doesn't even live in the Bronx district he's suppose to represent! He doesn't even have an office in his own district!

And now he's the new State Senate President! That means if Paterson leaves the state or has a heart attack or something, this sleaze is the Governor!

Wow. You can't make this stuff up.

If you ever saw that great show The Wire, you might remember the corrupt Senator Clay Davis. But truth is stranger than fiction and these two real life corrupt State Senators make the fictional Clay Davis look like a Boy Scout. At least Clay Davis was entertaining and wickedly smart -- these guys are just pure, miserable slime and, if you just hear what they say, are freaking stupid as well.

It's a shame that the greatest city in the world is forced to reside in one of the scummiest states in this fine Union. **Sigh**

Monday, June 8, 2009

City -- and State -- for Sale

Big news breaking in NYC and New York State tonight: a couple of super-opportunistic State Senate Democrats have made some kind of backroom deal and have given effective control back to the Republicans. This deal was apparently brokered by Tom Golisano, an upstate Republican billionaire who has run for Governor three times -- and lost each time.

The two sneaky Democrats who jumped shipped are Pedro Espada and Hiram Monserrate. They not only are self-serving opportunists but they're also ... well ... corrupt as hell. Espada is from the Bronx and apparently hasn't filed a campaign finance report in years. Monserrate is a former NYC councilman who was indicted recently for literally stabbing his girlfriend. Needless two say these are two really, really bad guys so you shouldn't be surprised that they did something nasty like this. The good news is, the maneuvering that took place might have been illegal and everyone agrees that this is going to court. Hopefully the law will subdue this little coup d'etat. We shall see.

In other news, another billionaire is actually having some problems. Most New Yorkers now think that Mayor Bloomberg doesn't deserve another term and that the city is moving in the wrong direction. Not good news for a Mayor who's been in office almost eight years and has already spent $30 million flooding the airwaves with campaign commercials. New Yorkers are getting restless and, in a fair fight, would like a change in leadership. But Bloomberg's money will probably make that impossible and it'll be more of the same for four more years.

It looks like government in New York City and New York State are very much for sale. Backroom power grabs financed by billionaires -- whether its overturning an election for the State Senate or a referendum for term limits -- is politics at its gutter worst. And it won't stop unless we the people punish their handpicked marionettes at the ballot box. Remember that in November.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Tony Awards

The Tony Awards -- the big celebrations where Broadway shows honor themselves -- are tonight. Here's a clip from the 2004 ceremony featuring a performance from Avenue Q which one the Tony for Best Musical that night. Enjoy!

NYC Law Firm Blues

If you want another piece of evidence to throw onto the pile that the economy is hemorrhaging, just read this article about what's going on at the top law firms in this town. They are shedding lawyers by the hundred -- and not just the young associates fresh out of the various legal mills, but well established partners, some of whom make well over a million dollars a years. Ouch.

It used to be that if you graduated from a top notch law school and worked hard, employment and riches where yours for the asking for the rest of your life. No longer. Lawyers are as vulnerable to the economic maelstrom as everyone else.

Needless to say this will make many non-lawyers quite happy. Unemployed lawyers? It's about down time! Make them work for a living! Ha ha.

And as a non-lawyer, I can understand the sentiment -- to a point. As someone who has family and friends in the legal profession, including some of the big time firms, I can't help feeling bad about this and a little scared. I don't anyone anywhere ever to lose a job. It's a nightmare. S

So I wish lawyers and non-lawyers alike all the best luck in keeping their heads above this economic quicksand. Peace.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Sexy or Ha Ha Sexy?

Mr NYC likes to keep it sexy and also keep it funny -- unfortunately, being funny and being sexy at the same time is a tough act to pull off. In case you hadn't noticed, this blog isn't all that funny or sexy. It just sorta is, you know, whatever ... strange. Like Mr NYC himself.

However, Sara Barron's column in this week's New York Press is both friggin' hilarious AND shockingly sexy. She writes about going home recently and, while rummaging around in a box of old stuff, discovering, of all things, an old porno script that she had written as a pubescent. The name of this never made dirty classic? The Porn!

It includes some really wonderful dialogue like:

“Take off that real sexy leather skirt,” he says in Scene 5, “We can get in my convertible. I got this Michael Bolton tape.” “OK,” answers Jenny. “I feel like some real wild humping anyway.”


You must read this. It will brighten your day.

(I just wish I had been cool enough to have done written something like this when I was that young. When I rummage through my childhood creations, it's all pictures of clouds and houses and stick figures and stuff like that. Super, super boring. But reading, this I realized that while you can't go home again, guess you can come home again. Get it? Okay ... that was bad. Sorry.)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

God Bless the Waldorf-Astoria


Ever heard of the Waldorf-Astoria?

Sure you have.
The Waldorf is, without question, the grand hotel in NYC. There's the Plaza, the Pierre, the Sherry-Netherland, the Carlyle -- but the Waldorf is the granddaddy of all the big name, luxury hotels in this town. It's the place where they invented the Waldorf salad. It's where the President of the USA stays when he's in town. It's where the UN Ambassador lives. It's where people like Hebert Hoover and Cole Porter and Bugsy Siegel have lived, and where celebs like Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe have stayed (and probably got laid). It's not just a hotel -- it's a legend, an institution, an icon.

Most memorably it's where Al Pacino threatened to blow his brains out in Scent of a Woman.

Whooaaa!


So on our wedding night, my lovely bride and I decided to splurge a little and get a room -- I repeat a room -- at the Waldorf-Astoria. And my wife and I, being modest New Yorkers of modest means, had never spent the night a big time New York hotel. But we thought that, for our wedding night, why not indulge a little?


And we did.

Get to the hotel around 8:30 on our wedding night. We check in. We're asked to wait. The extremely nice guy behind the desk says they're gonna give us a little upgrade to a suite. Nice! we think. Of course in my humble provincial mind, I'm picturing a suite at the Waldorf as being basically a slightly nicer version of an Embassy Suite -- you know, a small living room dominated by a TV and a couch with a small hallway leading to a bedroom and bathroom.

We're told that the suite is actually in the Waldorf Towers -- Suite 37A. We need to use a card to operate the elevator to get up there. Up we go and our ears pop as we get to the 37th floor. Exit into a very brightly lit, gorgeous hallway. Get to the door for 37A and open up ... and we walk into a FOYER!

And I'm not talking about some little foyer, I'm talking a foyer that's bigger than most people's studio apartments. And this foyer leads into the living room which is HUGE! And I don't mean it's huge, I mean it's friggin' HUUUUUUGE! It has three big couches plus a divan plus an enormous desk plus a fireplace plus a enormous glass bookcase plus a big flatscreen TV. One end of the living room leads into the dining room that has a long table that seats TEN people. This then leads into the kitchen and the first of this suite's three bathrooms.

The dining room leads back into the foyer and into the hallway that leads to the bedroom suite. Along the way is the second bathroom. Turn left and you hit the enormous bedroom with the king size bed. The hallway also leads into the dressing room and then into the bathroom with a gorgeous black and gold marble floor (it also had a bidet; can you believe those things still exist?). Oh, and it also has a whirlpool in the bathroom -- with room for two :)

This place was by far the biggest hotel "room" or apartment we've ever been in. It was beyond palatial, beyond amazing -- and this is where we spent the first night of our marriage! We spent almost two of our first hours as husband and wife running around this place screaming "This is insane!"

As were we.


At first I thought this was a mistake and I called the concierge to make sure that it wasn't and that I wasn't going to get a $6000 bill in the morning. Nope, he said, it was no mistake and the price we were going to pay for the single room was the price we would pay for this ... mansion in the sky. Then a few minutes later we got a call from housekeeping. Was everything satisfactory? I believe I replied "Hell yes!"

And we couldn't help thinking about our poor, hardscrabble immigrant grandparents and great-grandparents who slaved to make it here in NYC in America. What would we they have thought about this?


And considering that it had been my idea to stay at the Waldorf, my beautiful new wife said to me, "You done good babe."

Not a bad way to start a marriage!

So thank you -- and God bless you -- Waldorf Astoria! You made our first night of married bliss more blissful than we could ever have imagined.

Whooaaa!


P.S. If you'd like to read a little more about previous residents of suite 37A, here's one article from 1955 and another from 2004. Not bad company!

Monday, June 1, 2009

A Bronx Gal

And I ain't talking J-Lo!

The big news that broke last week, while I was off tanning, was the nomination by President Obama of Sonia Sotomayor (soto-mai-OR) to the US Supreme Court. The first Latina (or anyone of Hispanic origin) nominated to the Supreme Court, she is a New Yorker through-and-through.

Born in the Bronx, raised in public housing near Yankee Stadium by a single mother, she is an amazing American success story. She excelled at Princeton and Yale Law, served in the Manhattan DA's office, practiced corporate law, and has been a Federal judge for the last 17 years.

She will not only be the third woman on the court by the second woman from NYC on the court -- joining Brooklynite Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Isn't that cool?

What's most amazing is that, excepting her gender and race, her resume is quite ... conventional. In fact, beyond conventional, it's downright exception! Two Ivy League degrees, time in private practice, experience as a prosecutor, and almost two decades on "the bench." Believe it or not, she has MORE judicial experience than anyone currently on the court! Her qualifications are beyond reproach.

Of course try telling that to the withered pathetic miscreants who make up the withering Grand Old Party. They're already making noise. ACTIVIST! RACIST! MARXIST! UNQUALIFIED! Yada, yada, yada. These pricks are totally predictable.

Chris Smith, however, makes a great point in this week's New York magazine. He writes, "the Supreme Court has always been a weird place, the closest government institution to a mystic cult, and in recent years, thanks to Republican appointments, the atmosphere has grown even stranger, more academic and detached, dominated by “originalists” and paranoids who seem to hate the modern world as it actually exists and who want to take the country back to some idealized past, before all those whiny minorities spoiled things. With Sotomayor, for a change, the court would be getting someone more Williamsburg, Brooklyn, than Colonial Williamsburg."

I think Sonia will be a great Justice and I hope she drives Scalia and Roberts nuts. But I'm sure Ruth Bader will like her. And so will most of America.

You go girl!