Monday, December 31, 2007
Hmmmm ... so if it's Rudy vs. Hillary vs. Mike next year, it'll be a New York Subway Election, the likes of which American politics has never seen.
Can you imagine those three raging egomaniacs on stage during a debate? It might just cave in.
As a proud New Yorker, I'm not sure if I should be thrilled or scared by the prospect of this. We shall see.
Bloomberg Moves Closer to Running for President
Sunday, December 30, 2007
Hard to believe it but yet ANOTHER year is done and gone.
It's been a pretty good year for Mr NYC, after all, a year ago this blog didn't exist and the world was the less for it. (Wasn't it?)
Anyway, it wouldn't be New Year's in NYC without the Times Square ball drop so here's a great video of it from last year.
Why anyone would go to Times Square in New Year's is beyond me. It's an absolute mess. I was there on New Years 1993-1994 and 1998-1999, both times for reasons beyond my control. It's really better to watch on TV. It REALLY REALLY is.
Bloomberg Seeks New Way to Decide Who Is Poor
Monday, December 24, 2007
Ah, Christmas Day in NYC can only mean one thing - the Channel 11 Yule Log. Since 1966, this has become a city tradition. Since so many NYC families live in apartments and don't have fireplaces, this is their substitute. And at Mr NYC, we're bringing it to you a day early.
Here's the intro for the Yule log from 1986 - it vanished in the 1990s but it's back and now in the 21st century its probably more popular than ever.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
A Dramatic Comeback for the Play
It's quite true: this has been a great year not just for plays but for serious, sometimes disturbing drama on Broadway. This year alone I saw "Journey's End", "Talk Radio", "Frost/Nixon" and "Cyrano", "Grey Gardens", none of which were feel good shows. And I still want to see "The Farnsworth Invention", "Rock N' Roll", and "August: Osage County."
If anyone out there has seen any really good plays this year, please let the Mr NYC readers (both of them) know about it.
Let's hope 2008 is as good!
Saturday, December 22, 2007
First, the plot: written by Edmond Rostand and set in 17th century France, nobleman solider Cyrano de Bergerac is a great wit ("My panache!") and ever greater warrior. He loves the beautiful Roxane but his unusually big nose makes him feel unworthy of her love. Roxane in turn loves Christian, another soldier, a sweet man but not the sharpest sword in the army. Sublimating his own desire, Cyrano helps Christian woo Roxane with beautiful words that Christian himself cannot conjure up. Cyrano's genius helps Christian win Roxane's hand in marriage but then war and personal tragedy intervene. In the end, we see what a tangled web love weaves.
Second, my review: directed by David Leveaux ("Jumpers"), this new Broadway version stars Kevin Kline ("The Big Chill", "A Fish Called Wanda") as Cyrano, Jennifer Garner ("Alias", "Juno") as Roxane, and Daniel Sunjata ("Rescue Me", "The Bronx is Burning") as Christian. It is a fun, rollicking, beautifully-staged production and the performances, including Chris Sarandon ("Dog Day Afternoon") as a scheming Count, are uniformly excellent. While Garner and Sunjata play their roles with great delicacy and respect, this is really Kline's show. It's the kind of big, scenery-chewing performance that he gave in movies like "Soapdish" and that won him an Oscar for "A Fish Called Wanda."
The play is a little long and the production is sometimes over the top but if a show makes you feel spiritually enriched when you're walking out of the theater, then it's a good show. This "Cyrano" does that.
Cyrano on Broadway
$81 x 12 = $972
$76 x 12 = $912
$972 - $912 = $60
So it's gonna cost us monthly unlimited riders an extra $60 a year - $60 we might otherwise spend on ourselves or those we love (or would like to love).
The regular fare for a single ride will remain at $2 so us NYC residents will basically be subsidizing the tourists.
Welcome to NYC 2008. Egads.
Tenzan: located on 73rd and Columbus Ave, this is a busy but pleasant place to get excellent food. The miso soup was incredible and the sushi/sashimi plate I got was really tasty and filling. (My only gripe: for platter dishes, you have to choose between either soup and salad - you don't get both. It costs about $25.) Because it's not expensive and located in a busy area, it's best to make a reservation on a Friday and Saturday night. This has to be the most wooden restaurant I've ever been to and the lighting is rather overdone. But still, this is easily the best deal you'll get for Japanese food on the Upper West Side. It's a real find.
Gowasabi: if you happen to be in Astoria, Gowasabi is your best bet for reasonably priced Japanese food. There are actually two locations and you can get a big sushi and sashimi plate WITH miso soup and salad for less than $22. It's not quite as good as Tenzan but still pretty fair. And on Friday and Saturday nights, they have someone play the piano. It's quite nice.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
If you grew up in NYC in the 1980s, then you remember these cheezy, silly, great Carvel Ice Cream commercials. That voice - that memorable, phlegmy voice - is actually old man Carvel himself (who died in 1990 and may have been murdered but that's another story).
New York Magazine
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Wall Street's plot has become legendary, both on Wall Street and in the American capitalist system in general: young trader Bud Fox comes under the wing of money titan Gordon Gekko. Together they annex the competition and make more money than anyone would ever dare dream. Of course it turns out that Gordon is crook, in fact - GASP!!!! - the whole Wall Street/American capitalist thing is a giant con game where the rich get richer, the poor get screwed, and lots of people end up in jail. Throw in a woman, a hot designer Darien, and you gots yourself lots of excitement while learning deep values. In fact, in that regard, Wall Street is - pun totally intended - quite a deal.
This movie was the cause celebre of 1987 for it was in many ways the ultimate indictment of its time. "Greed is good" seemed the perfect motto of the era, a time some people look back on today with odd nostalgia. But in many ways Wall Street now is a bit quaint. The go-go 1980s was more than super-seeded by the go-go-go 1990s. Also, the real-life corporate scandals of Ivan Boesky and Michael Milken were just warm up acts for Ken Lay and Bernie Ebbers, et al. Plus ca change, I guess.
And while NYC would go on to thrive in the 1990s and 21st century more than it had in the 1980s, Wall Street itself, at least its image as the ultimate financial powerhouse, has diminished. Today, places like Silicon Valley, China, India, not to mention the dorm rooms of college students inventing things like YouTube and Facebook, are the new frontiers of money. Most of all, New York has changed a lot since 1987. In one scene, Bud is embarrassed to admit he lives on the Upper West Side, insisting he plans to move to the Upper East Side as soon as his ship comes in. Today, the old East Side/West Side rivalry is gone: you have to big rich to live in either of those neighborhoods so that class tension just doesn't exist anymore. Also, the East Side today has lost of a lot of its snobby, elitist cache. Today's new wealth wants to live in Soho or Tribeca, in big hipster lofts, not snotty high rises.
Wall Street was a petty big hit when it came out and Michael Douglas won the 1987 Oscar for Best Actor. This was Stone's follow up from Platoon and it cemented his reputation as an important director. It was also one of his last conventional-type movies. He would go on to make make hyper kinetic visual ballasts like Natural Born Killers.
But as a movie and social commentary Wall Street still holds up after 20 years. And in many ways, quaint though it may be in the aforementioned ways, its lesson are more timely than ever.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
- Bloomberg making a splash in Asia
- Major transportation news (subway fares going up, traffic schemes being hatched, JFK getting reigned in)
- An East Village artist being celebrated
- The Domino plant in Brooklyn getting landmark status
- The 125th anniversary of the birth of New York City's greatest Mayor Fiorello La Guardia
Happy birthday Little Flower.
New York Times
Friday, December 7, 2007
The New York Times
Robert Chamber's lady friend took a plea, there's not one but THREE subway stories, the city is trying to keep water bills low, and that's just the very, very short version.
Probably the biggest news of the day: Dan Doctoroff, Deputy Mayor Extrodinaire and Mayor Bloomberg's right-hand visionary, is resigning to become president of ... Bloomberg LP.
A Would-Be Robert Moses, Doctoroff had ideas of bringing the Olympics here, building a West Side stadium, developing Hudson Yards, creating an Airport village, rezoning parkland, and helping to create PlaNYC. He accomplished some of these things, failed at others, but definitely left an imprint. Glad we had him.
Saturday, December 1, 2007
First, one story about West Side development, extending the #7 subway line vs expanding Hudson Yards (Schumer wants the city to spend money on the #7 line while Team Bloomberg wants to spend it on Hudson Years. Schumer's right - the #7 is a much more urgent, long overdue project; Hudson Yards is a good idea but a lesser priority IMO).
City Urged to Rethink Rail Access to West Side
Second, an article about the filming of "Gossip Girl" on the Upper East Side, and how the show and it's true life milieu are all but indistinguishable (one would hope, since verisimilitude makes or brakes any show, particularly one about NYC).
Awaiting a Glimpse of Their ‘Gossip Girl’ Kin
In NYC, something's ALWAYS going on.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Since it opened in May, GROM has become quite the dessert hot spot. The owners opened their first store four years ago in Turin (Torino!), Italy, then branched out to Milan and Florence before heading to the New World. The ice cream and sorbet are extremely rich and textured, the flavor bursting inside your mouth. After you eat this stuff, you get that satisfied, happy feeling that really great food can bring.
My beloved and I went this past week, where I had the tiramisu flavored gelato and she the lemon sorbet. While the portions are expensive and not huge (if I recall correctly, it's $4.75 for a small, $5.75 for a medium, and $6.75 for a large), the quality is so good that you don't feel ripped off. I wouldn't go every day or week certainly, but it worth going once a month or so. (Since we're heading into winter, ice cream might not be forefront in your desires but you should keep it in mind).
Just a warning: besides the prices, be prepared for lines out the door if you go. Also, people like to do tastings so that will cause further delays before you can order. However, it's worth the wait.
See what Business Week had to say: Grom Gelato: Creating a Stir in New York
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Friday, November 23, 2007
There are roughly 8.2 million souls in this town. Considering that this is the biggest city in America, one of the biggest in the world, that means you have a less than 0.000069% chance of getting killed here. At this rate you'll be safer in New York than Sweden.
Read all about it in today's New York Times: City Homicides Still Dropping, to Under 500
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Michael's been writing his Village Voice column "La Dolce Musto" for more than two decades. He's appeared on PBS, NPR, E! Entertainment Television, and MSNBC (amongst many other media outlets), and although he's got a national presence, Michael's never strays from his New York state of mind.
Michael was kind enough to share a few thoughts with Mr NYC readers about gossip, New York City, and bloggers.
How long have you lived in NYC and been writing "La Dolce Musto"?
I've lived in New York my entire life. I couldn't exist anwhere else. I don't drive and I'm allergic to too much sun--or at least to people who stay out in too much sun. I've been writing the column for at least 20 years. My first column was in hieroglyphics, ba dum pum.
What made you, an Ivy League graduate, want to become a gossip writer?
Even at Columbia, I mainly cared about gossiping about my dormmates and buzzing about Cher's latest hairstyles (in between studying The Iliad, of course), so it all made sense to me. Gossip is what I do best. It deflects attention from myself and onto others who live in a faster lane while at the same time, ironically enough, getting me some attention as well.
Tell us briefly about the art of gossip writing. What makes one a good gossip writer? Who influenced you?
Gossip writing should be fair (there are two sides to every story), yet a bit jaundiced, so your eyebrow is always raised in response to the p.r. hype machine. It should also be carried on with an underlying sense that none of this stuff really matters much--not in the larger picture--yet it's all important because we care about it passionately and guilty pleasures should not be ignored. A gossip writing style should be bold, personal, individual, and opinionated. Through the years, I've been influenced by Tom Wolfe, Rex Reed, Truman Capote, Liz Smith, Cindy Adams, and many others.
What are your favorite "gossipy" things to cover?
A walking train wreck like a Lindsay/Britney/Paris is fun to cover because their entire careers seem to consist of providing great tabloid copy. Plus I like what they do careerwise--Lindsay's a terrific movie star, Britney puts out really fun music, and Paris has a certain poise, even with egg on her face. She's telegenic and in fact so seemingly blank you can project whatever you want onto her and put her in any medium you like.
Who are your favorite people to cover? What makes a person good gossip fodder?
I'll cover anyone on the way up or the way down. These are the people who are desperate for press, so the'll say anything to get into your column. Once they're on top, they're generally too guarded by p.r. watchdogs to say anything interesting. I also like anyone who will provide conflict and good copy. "I hate my costar" is much more interesting than "My newest sequel was a labor of love."
What was your biggest scoop or most exciting thing you covered?
I was the first to run the details of the murder of drug dealer Angel Melendez by club kid king Michael Alig and his roommate Freeze. It was truly grisly, from the Drano injection to the smothering by pillow. I also was ahead of the curve on outing people like Rosie and Ellen, who weren't thrilled, but who ultimately came out with a vengeance and left me behind to out others. It was exciting to push buttons and go where no one was going at the time. Huge magazine profiles of Rosie were portraying her as an ambiguous single mom with a crush on Tom Cruise!
Did you really coin the term "Celebutard?" Please give us a brief definition.
I said the word on Countdown with Keith Olbermann and it somehow went into my Wikipedia profile as having been coined by me. I'll take credit, if they want to give it, but I can't say for sure if I coined it. On other sites, I've been credited with everything from being a martial arts expert to having written a movie starring Jayne Mansfield, so don't believe everything you read (except my column).
In many ways gossip columnists were the original bloggers. Are blogs and bloggers a threat to gossip columnists?
I feel like my column was the original blog. It consists of my wicked, personal thoughts and opinions interspersed (one hopes) with information and insight. The advent of actual blogs has been threatening to columnists, but I feel it's a welcome burst of energy that forces us to work harder and dig deeper to compete. And at least we get paid for it!
What do you love about NYC? How has the city changed in the years you've lived here?
New York has lost much "edge"--God, I hate that word--ever since Giuliani made it a giant Disneyland for tourists and rich people, but I feel those who fled in horror are complete wusses. I stayed and continue to find fringey nightlife and wacky people living on the precipice. I'd rather celebrate them than give up and move to San Diego just because you get a terrace there.
Is NYC still a great place for gossip?
Yes, it's great. L.A. has more celebrities per square mile--you can't even go into a 7/11 without running into a Pamela Lee--but here we have theater, movies, music, nightlife, everything, and it's all on a somewhat higher level.
Tell us something about Michael Musto we don't know.
He's actually a nice guy. Now THAT'S shocking!
Check out La Dolce Musto every week in the Village Voice.
Well well, the Holidays are back and they officially start here in NYC on Thanksgiving Day with Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. "Ya can't say Thanksgiving in New York without saying Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade!" Ha ha ha. But seriously folks, here's a clip from last year's parade. How can ya now love Sesame Street?
Thursday, November 15, 2007
It's easy to be cynical about people in showbiz - that they're all rich, spoiled, selfish, narcissistic, sexually amoral, liberal pornographers. But it's important to remember that showbiz is an industry, a vital part of this city and this country's economy that generates jobs and tax revenue. And it doesn't just employ the smiling, overindulged faces of the actors and actresses we see on the stage and screen and tabloids. It employs lots of people just trying to eek out a living like the rest of us - and it's important that they not get exploited.
So here's to a quick and satisfactory resolution for both of sides in these strikes. New Yorkers need you!
Sunday, November 4, 2007
Not much time to blog this week so here's a quickie. Can you believe that "Saturday Night Fever", the classic New York disco movie, is 30 years ago? That's unpossible! Well I hope you enjoy this blast from the past, as Mr. John Travolta burns up the dance floor with the Bee Gees pounding in the background.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Saturday, October 27, 2007
With those angelic words, Alison would begin her overnight broadcasts. She would then play some of the greatest rock n'roll ever: the Stones, Dylan, Led Zeplin, The Who, The Doors - you name it. Her silky voice, seductive in its maturity and wisdom, reassured you that there was someone kind out there, making you feel safe during the small hours. She was the grand dame of the New York night, her gentility soothing and smoothing the edges of a rough city. Her gracious audio presence would nurse her listeners through the darkness, into the first blushes of day.
In her later years, Alison migrated to 92.3 K-ROCK, going off the air at 6 AM, right before the raucous Howard Stern would rouse the city. I first encountered Allison's voice in the early 1990s when I was in high school. I would wake up around 5:50 or 5:55 AM in order to listen to Howard and Allison would usually be closing out her show. As a song by Yes or The Police would end, Alison's lovely voice would come on, wishing listeners like me a good morning. Then she would leave us with a parting thought, a little piece of wisdom, usually conveyed in a quotation from one of the great poets like Edgar Allan Poe or William Wordsworth. And then the Nightbird would fly away, leaving us to our usually tumultuous days.
What a great, sweet memory.
Sadly, Alison is no longer with us. All the greats leave before their time. She passed away on September 27, 1995 from cancer. I remember that I had just started college and this news was one of the first things I learned on this then new Internet contraption. It's so hard to believe that she's been gone more than twelve years because it feels just like yesterday that I was waking up to her voice. Like Jean Shepard, she was a genuine radio artist. And in this era of radio consolidation and voice-tracking, it's doubtful we'll ever see her likes again.
But at least we had her when, a small burst of light in a dark place. Let's remember and thank Alison Steele for the comfort she brought this city. In this bitter world, even a decade on, let's remember someone pretty sweet.
The First Lady of Rock & Roll
A Page for Alison Steele
Alison's Wikipedia Entry
What to say? This story makes for great TV. After all, with a war going on, the environment headed to catastrophe and nearly 50 million people without health care, isn't it nice to take a roll in the tabloid muck once in a while?
Mr NYC's opinion: this is all very sad. Chambers is clearly a hardcore drug addict and simply cannot change. He's one of those people genetically incapable of not breaking the law. The fact that he's made it to age forty-one is probably an achievement for him. And doubtless when he does leave this earth, we'll hear all about it.
'Preppy Killer' Pleads Not Guilty in Drug Case
Tell us about yourself and how you started writing your column in the New York Press?
I am a modern Renaissance woman with vintage sensibilities. Everything I do--writing, performing, film making--draws from the past, specifically in terms of style, but has a modern edge. In my column I wrote about kinky sex from a place of lyrical sophistication. When I first started writing for New York Press, I used a pseudonym--'The Libertine'--a word that originated in 1563, meaning 'freethinker.' The term became popular in 18th century Europe when it was used to describe freethinkers (usually men) who lived for pleasure unrestrained by conventions or taboos. It also refers to refined eroticism. A few years ago I wrote an essay called "Confessions of a Libertine" and gave it to my friend Jon Leaf who was the arts editor of New York Press. He liked it and passed my essay onto Harry Siegel who was then editor-in-chief; they invited me into the office for an interview and the rest is history. I wrote as 'The Libertine' for about five months then I did a cover story under a new editor (Adario Strange), and used my real name as the byline. The following week 'Lust Life' was launched.
Is being a sex writer in New York as glamorous as Sarah Jessica Parker made it look?
Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw as the alter-ego of columnist Candace Bushnell is so far from who I am and what I'm doing with the sex column/blog genre. Am I glamorous? Yes. But is being a sex writer glamorous? Not at all. I don't spend my time lunching in trendy restaurants with girl friends or sipping cosmos at pretentious clubs in Chelsea or the Meatpacking District. I write about the alternative sex scene--polyamory, queer sex, S&M, swinging, orgies etc. so my social life is centered around underground loft spaces, yoga studios, and the LGBT Center. Of course some erotic events are very glamorous and take place in gorgeous upscale clubs, but I'm not slinking around in Jimmy Choo shoes 6 nights a week, hobnobbing with fashionistas in swanky Manhattan lounges of perpetual boredom. Besides no sex columnist can afford a life like that on a sex column alone. New York Press paid me $100 per 800-900 word column. Of course I get nothing for the blog.
Although it's a fun topic, how do you prevent your columns and now, your blog, from being repetitive?
Easy. My sex life is the epitome of variety.
How do people (okay, guys) react when you tell them you're a sex columnist?
The most common reaction I've gotten is something like, 'Oh, you're just like Carrie Bradshaw!' It's irritating because I am so not Carrie, and I have no desire to be like her. But once I explain a little about what I write, they are even more intrigued. People also tend to assume I'm an advice-giver like Dan Savage.
Do you get lots of creepy fan mail or messages?
Sometimes. I used to get handwritten letters sent to the old New York Press office. My editor at the time didn't even want me to read them because they were so gross. Once I got an email from a guy asking for advice on what to do about the female roommate he was stalking. I gave him some genuine advice, then he asked me if I would take him to a play party because he would not be able to explore the scene otherwise. I was so offended that I cut off our exchange. A lot of men assume I'm up for anything or I'll be their tour guide into the underground sex scene just because I write about it. I have to get to know someone first before I invite him/her to an erotic event.
Would you call New York a 'sex positive' city? Do you think New Yorkers have more sex than the rest of the country?
Definitely! New York is not only full of sexy people, it caters to people whose sexual expression is outside the norm. With several erotic events a week--from sex parties to Tantric workshops to gay pride--it's hard not to find your niche in a sex-positive community. Although I can't confirm that New Yorkers have more sex than the rest of the country, I'm fairly certain that we are generally more open about sex and therefore more into exploring alternative sex and relationships.
Besides your blog, what are some of your other projects?
I'm working on a book based on 'Lust Life'. It is the story behind the column--my sensual journey from small-town prude to big-city libertine. I also have a feature film project in development. I made two short films--the first was on Independent Film Channel for three years and the second is currently playing at film festivals. I also perform often as a singer and in readings like The Potable Dorothy Parker: A Literary Cocktail, a series that I co-created and curate.
Anything else you'd like to tell us? Any advice for our readers about love and sex in NYC?
Whatever your sexual preference, be honest with others and true to yourself. Don't be monogamous because that's what everyone else seems to be doing. And don't cheat! Monogamy is great if it is consciously chosen. If it is not what you really want, it is better to own your desire to be with more than one lover and enjoy.
Read Stephanie's blog at http://sslustlife.blogspot.com
Saturday, October 20, 2007
The biggest news in town is that Yankees manager Joe Torre has walked away from team. George and that gang offered Joe a reduced salary, one-year contract and Joe, perceiving it "an insult", turned it down and quit.
This wasn't a surprise. The Yankees glory days of the 1990s are long past and the last few years haven't been stellar. Twelve years is a long time to manage a baseball team and, even though this is a rather sad way for it to end, Joe Torre's managing career with the Yankees will go down in baseball history. All those World Series and division wins, making the playoffs every year he ran the team - truly historic achievements. Joe was so successful that he raised the bar for himself impossibly high. How could anyone, even Joe himself, live up to such a standard? He didn't of course, and that's why it's over now.
But Joe will be fine, and so will the Yankees, and so will New York City. Life is not predictable and nothing is preordained. Life is not a play being acted out according to a script. But the vicissitudes of life have a way of forcing our entrances and exits. And Joe, after shining on this stage, has taken his last bow.
On behalf of all New Yorkers, Mr NYC thanks Joe Torre for his service to the Yankees and our city's spirit. During my college years in the late 1990s, living far away from Yankee land, the team's multiple World Series victory gave me insurmountable pride. And of course, it made me an insufferably arrogant bore. But my joy in the Yankees success was very real and helped, in a very small way, to make those years all the more memorable. And Joe did it. Thanks again.
"... a time for purpose under the sun."
Torre Could Manage Steinbrenner and Yankees
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Mr NYC plans on getting fully involved (once school is over). If you want to get involved, go here: MillionTreesNYC
NY1 has "On Stage", hosted by the lovely Roma Torre. It's on Saturdays and Sundays from 9:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. and from 7:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. as well as Mondays from 12:30 a.m to 1:00 a.m. and 9:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Here's the website: On Stage
In Mr NYC's humble opinion, there's no better time of year in NYC. As fall descends, the heat and swelter of summer give way to cool breezes, the leaves begin to turn, the farmer's markets sell hot apple cider, it gets darker earlier, and we begin to look excitedly towards the holidays (the holidays always being more fun to anticipate than to actually live through). Fall is a reflective time, a penultimate moment, as we begin to think about the end of the year, what've done and what we still hope to do.
May New Yorkers from Rockaway to Riverdale enjoy this fall, truncated though it may be. Soon the blusters of winter will be upon, and this fall will be a fond sigh in our memories.
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
1. How did you come to be a sex writer in NYC and is it as glamorous as on "Sex and the City"?
Well, I can definitely say my life is nowhere near as glamorous as Sex and the City, and that’s perfectly fine with me. Not only don’t I get to lounge around like Carrie, but I am nowhere near as wealthy as her.
I moved to New York in 1996 to go to NYU Law School. I was 20 and really thought that’s where my interests lay, but I didn’t know much about the day-to-day of being a lawyer, and once I figured that out, I wasn’t too impressed. I wound up quitting and working various temp/day jobs for a few years, freelancing here and there reviewing books or writing essays. I got asked to work on a few projects and slowly built up my writing resume, and then in March 2004 took a full-time job as Senior Editor at Penthouse Variations, then in October 2004 started writing the Lusty Lady column for The Village Voice. Along the way I also began editing erotica anthologies and by the end of next year will have more than 20 of them!
2. While always a fun subject, how do you keep writing about sex without it getting repetitive or (perish the thought) boring?
I would say that for me writing about sex doesn’t get boring because sex (so far) hasn’t been boring. I think if you’re only writing about the mechanics of sex, the in and out, so to speak, that can get old quickly, but there are so many nuances and I think everyone approaches it differently. By that I mean both how they conduct their sex and dating life and what they want out of sex, how they prioritize it, what turns them on. I’m such a voyeur and I love hearing about what other people are up to.
I really like the fact that, while I am not an expert in any way, I’m someone that my friends can talk to about things they might not have anyone else to ask. I was at dinner with a friend the other day and she looked around and then lowered her head and whispered, “I was told I have to ask you about this. Have you heard of this thing called ‘squirting?’” Her boyfriend wanted her to squirt (female ejaculate) and she was freaked out by it and we discussed it and I assured her that it wasn’t weird but also wasn’t mandatory. Then I sent her a copy of my friend Violet Blue’s book The Smart Girl’s Guide to the G-Spot.
I think sex, as a topic or an act, can get boring, but there are so many ways we can make it interesting that so far I haven’t run out of things to say. But another way I keep it interesting for me is to write about other topics, like books and pop culture and events, so that when I go back to writing about sex, I’m not rolling my eyes.
3. Tell us about your "In the Flesh Reading Series" and your love of cupcakes.
I started In The Flesh in October 2005, and it got off to a kind of rocky start. We had pretty small crowds, but the good thing about Happy Ending Lounge (well, one of them!) is that even small crowds fill up the cozy bar well. Then a few months in things took a turn and we’ve been pretty packed. Basically, each month I have erotica writers come and read their steamiest work. I also sometimes do special nights, like True Sex Confessions Night (that’s coming up November 15th, but first we’ve got Virgin Night on October 18th, featuring first-time readers and authors). It’s sexy, but there’s always humor. I love looking at the crowd and seeing them laugh or hang on an author’s words.
It’s really made me appreciate that writing doesn’t just happen on the page. Having to read my work in front of people month after month also makes me notice things in my stories I wouldn’t have otherwise, both good and bad. It makes writing a little more social for me than it would be otherwise. Oh, and because I’m secretly a total Jewish mother, I like to feed people, so I always give out candy and mini cupcakes and brownies. I just think that’s a fun little extra and people seem to enjoy it.
As for cupcakes, well, they’ve just sort of taken over my life. I started my blog Cupcakes Take the Cake in December 2004, and the interest in cupcakes has only risen since. Pretty much, they’re everywhere, and a New York State Assemblyman has even introduced a bill to make them the official New York State children’s snack and keep them from being banned! They are just so fun and I adore seeing what creative ways people have come up with to decorate them. There are bakeries sprouting up all over and I really love that I’ve become this cupcake authority and can rattle off the names of bakeries all over the country (and even internationally). What’s funny is that I don’t eat cupcakes all that often, maybe once or twice a month, and am not much of a baker myself - I leave that to my fellow cupcake blogger Allison. But finding out as much as I can about the world of cupcakes is something I’m happy to do. I look at photos of cupcakes every single day and by now can’t imagine my life without the blog.
4. What other things do you like writing about and what are your aspirations for the future?
I write about whatever catches my eye, really. I’ve interviewed dozens of authors, performers, artists, and other creative, interesting people, for Gothamist.com, Memoirville.com, and other sites. I cover the publishing industry for Mediabistro, where I get to interview editors and literary agents, and it’s really fun because I get to bond with other book nerds. I also interview bakery owners and fellow cupcake fans on Cupcakes Take the Cake and I love that because for so many of these people, their bakery is their first business and they’re so excited, and learning about their cupcake innovations and plans is fascinating. Someday I’d love to do a cupcake tour of the country and visit these people I’ve only corresponded with.
The future…I don’t really know what the future holds. I definitely want to continue editing erotica books and writing longer work, and eventually a non-fiction book about sexual politics. I’d love to do some talking head spots on TV. But mostly I look forward to being a mom in the next…let’s say five years. I don’t have a plan yet on how that’s going to happen, but I’m working on it. I’d ideally like to be making a living writing from home and taking care of my kids.
5. How do people react when you tell them you're a sex writer and how has it affected your personal life?
I think it depends on the person. For the most part, people are intrigued and want to know more about my career path, but in a respectful way. Sometimes I just say I’m a “writer” because I don’t want to get into a whole big discussion about it that could be potentially awkward. I think how I come across in person and the explicit nature of a lot of my writing is a bit at odds; I don’t tend to talk about sex or my personal life, and sometimes am the one shushing my friends for doing so. One friend of mine jokingly calls me a prude cause he always manages to make me blush!
There have definitely been people I’ve dated who were freaked out by the fact that I write about my personal life, but it’s not the type of situation where the minute I get home from a date or am done having sex, I’m racing to my laptop. For me, it’s more the people and situations that linger on my mind that make me want to write about them because they’ve had an impact on me that goes beyond the moment.
The people who I really connect with the most in my personal life are the ones who get that as much of a workaholic as I can be, I have a lot more going on that just being some girl with naked pictures of herself on the Internet. The phrase “sex writer,” when said in a judgmental way, is an easy and lazy way to categorize me. I can be a vamp and an exhibitionist, but I’m not in this for the sensationalism, and I’ve learned to let go of the people who only want to see that side.
6. Tell us what you love about NYC and does the city make you a better writer?
Wow. What don’t I love about NYC? (L train delays.) I really feel like this is my home and always will be. I love the energy and the people and the fact that there is just so much going on here. There’s always something new to discover, and I love that in a given month I can play trivia, eat cupcakes with strangers, go to comedy shows, work out, and whatever else comes along. You can never get bored in this city and I’m constantly discovering new scenes and things to do. In the past year, I’ve become friends with a whole bunch of comics artists like Dan Goldman, Molly Crabapple, Nikki Cook, and I love that even though I don’t have an artistic bone in my body, they’ve welcomed me wholeheartedly into their crowd and I get to explore this new world and learn all about it. I love having such a creative group of friends, so I can go to a bookstore and see their work up on the shelves.
The city definitely makes me a better writer because there’s so much to look at and absorb. I go to one party and meet someone who sparks an idea that sets me off. Walking across the Williamsburg Bridge, which I don’t do often enough, is often the catalyst for all kinds of ideas. That’s my little oasis from the noise and stress of the city.
Make sure to check out Rachel's website and Lusty Lady blog.
Monday, October 8, 2007
The defining document of the 1980s, Bonfire presents a nightmarish NYC - where greed, vanity, crime, narcissism, recklessness, and plain old nastiness reigned. It was, fortuitously enough, published around the same time as the big Wall Street crash of 1987 and it became the morality tale of its times. Amazingly, this novel has aged little - it's still funny, fresh, and timely. In many ways, Bonfire was prophetic: pre-OJ, pre-Monica, pre-Paris, pre-Anna Nicole, this book understood what made a story sensational and gave it legs. And if anything, the "vanity" of NYC in 1987 was, by today's standards, quite tame. The world of Masters of the Universe and Social X-rays is more outrageous than ever.
Always a fun read, revisiting Bonfire on its 20th is a good idea. And if you haven't read it, please note: while not a roman a clef, more than one or two characters is based on real people still alive and famous today. Most notably:
Peter Fallow = Christopher Hitchens
Sir Gerald Steiner = Rupert Murdoch
Reverend Bacon = Al Sharpton
A couple of more notes:
1. Do not watch the 1990 movie of Bonfire starring Tom Hanks and Bruce Willis. It's a travesty.
2. Check out Wikipedia's entry on where the title The Bonfire of the Vanities came from.
The Stage isn't very big but when you walk in you're hit by a wonderful smell that tells you this is a quality joint. A meal for two will set you back about $50 but you'll eat enough that it'll hold you for the day. My favorite time to go is for breakfast, to get a great Nova Scotia lox omelet with a large orange juice and coffee. The portions are huge and it comes with a bagel and cream cheese. Also good is the corned beef hash served with an egg on top. The Stage Deli is a popular spot, very crowded, so the best time to go is on a weekday morning around 10:30 - after the breakfast rush and before the lunch crowd.
Another nice feature: they take credit cards, which the Carnegie Deli goes not. And they have sandwiches named after celebrities like Joe DiMaggio and Tony Randall, plus some who are still alive. It's a good New York experience - don't let the tourists bother you.
Find out more at: Stage Deli
Monday, October 1, 2007
We became friends when we both moved into the same building about the same time.
Was it like Jerry and Kramer on the show, always going back and forth between each other's apartments?
When did you get the idea for "Kramer's Reality Tour" and tell us what we would see
if we took one?
When the character based on me became so popular I realized I'd be a jerk not to cash in on it. All sorts of info on the tour is at http://www.kennykramer.com/RealityTourText.html
Has your celebrity ever caused you any problems? Is it hard being a legend?
Tell us something about the real Kramer that people don't know.
I'm a grandfather.
What do you love about NYC?
You can do anything or get anything you want 24/7 and they deliver.
How has the city changed in the years you've lived here?
Tremendous amounts of new building. All sorts of gentrification going on.
What do you miss about the "old days?"
The street hookers.
Do you have any other projects that you're currently working on? What does the future hold for Kenny Kramer?
Having as much fun and making as much $$ as I can with as little work as possible.
Friday, September 28, 2007
So Mr NYC is here save you the hunt - and some dough. If you want a cheap, no-frills shear, go to Astor Place Hair at 2 Astor Place in the East Village. It's easy to find with the big great big sign out front and you just go down the stairs into a 9,000 square foot basement. There's barely any wait to get into a chair since there are seem to literally be dozens of them. A good basic haircut will set you back about $14, which is a real deal in this town nowadays. A low-rent, no-frills place, like the New York barber shops of old. They don't have a website and they don't take appointments. It's strictly first come, first served.
Astor Place Hair is an NYC institution. It's been around and owned by the Vezza family since 1940. And it's nice to know that places like this still exist here. But don't take my word for it, see what other folks have to say:
Astor Place Hair on CitySearch
New York Magazine Review