Monday, March 31, 2008

Come to NYC, Bring Your Pets

Back to Civilization

Never fear gentle readers, Mr NYC has returned. This time my return flight was only an hour and a half late. Seriously, I'm flying kryptonite -- if I'm on a flight, it's guaranteed to be late. Maybe this is karma's way of telling me I should never leave town. Ah well.

I won't be leaving again until later this month when I'm off to London and Paris. Can't wait!!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Mr NYC goes to the Crossroads of America

Well it's happening again -- Mr NYC has to leave town again for the weekend.

This time I'm heading to the middle-west, specifically the state of Indiana where David Letterman and Kurt Vonnegut as well as a large portion of my extended family come from (Dan Quayle is from there too but no place is perfect). A relative of mine passed away a month or so ago, thus I'm headed to his memorial service. Tis a sad occasion but I'll make the best of it.

And next week I'll be back, blogging up a storm. Until then, both my readers, until then.

The Pump Energy Food

If you exercise and eat healthy, then you should know about The Pump. This place has become the Yuppie fast-food chain and it's incredibly popular with young and middle-aged New Yorkers a like (Howard Stern orders his lunch from here sometimes).

Like Howard, I used to work near one of these places and got lunch there every day (sadly my office moved to another neighborhood two years ago but I had a chance to eat there today and it was great as always). Fortunately for the rest of you, The Pump has five locations: East 21st Street (between Park Avenue and Broadway), West 38th Street (between Sixth Avenue and Broadway), 50th street and 3rd Avenue, East 31 street (between Park Avenue and Lexington), and West 55th Street (between 5th and 6th Avenues). If you work or are near one sometime, check it out.

All of The Pump's food is fresh, preservative free, and low-in fat. Best of all, it's really tasty. My favorites are the lemon chicken or tuna salad sandwiches served in pita bread with romaine lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and onion. Among their myriad choices, they also have egg-white omelettes, turkey burgers, nonfat pizza, vegetarian dishes and a wide variety of healthy shakes and drinks (no soda or coffee!). Also really good is the Diesel, a grilled chicken breast with vegetarian chili over brown rice. A lot of their "Supercharged" plates have names like The Rock, Diesel, Lean Body, Marathon -- you get the idea. This is NOT food for the weak!

When you walk into one of these places, you'll notice lots of signed celebrity photos (ranging from Cindy Adams to Jessica Simpson to body-builders and athletes, naturally). One downside of the food being prepared fresh is that it can take a while to get your order and the wait can get tiresome. A lot of people call ahead and then go to pick their food up. I would definitely recommend that.

Mr NYC ... he aims to keep New Yorkers healthy and well-fed.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

One Year of Mr NYC

It had to happen eventually and today is the day -- Mr NYC, this lovely blog, is one year's old. Yes, it's hard to believe that for approximately one rotation of the earth around the sun this blog has existed. Is the world a better place for it? That's for you, gentle reader, to decide.

Here's my first brilliant entry: And so ... here we go again. Read it and laugh (at it, not with it).

I can tell you this: even though I've been blogging about my beloved surface for a year and done almost 300 entries, I've only cracked about 0.000000001% of what makes New York City fabulous. Needless to say it'll take many years (and thousands, hundreds of thousands, nay millions) of entries to even crack close to 1% of everything that makes New York great. But I'll try. Lord knows I will try.

And to celebrate this milestone, I went out and got good and drunk -- yes, this entry was done by a man who is mightily intoxicated (actually it was just an after-hours office drinking binge but it's my own private reason for getting hammered).

So happy anniversary ... to me -- your one and only Mr NYC. Keep reading. I'll keep writing. Let's keep loving New York together.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

per se

Mr NYC has been fortunate to eat at some of this city's finer restaurants -- Nobu, Le Perigord, Rao's, Peter Lugar's. Many of them I've written about here. There are still many great restaurants here that I hope to go to one day. This past weekend, however, some friends and I went to per se, considered by many the best restaurant in New York and one of the best in the world.

Did it live up to the hype? Could it possibly? At first I was skeptical. But four hours, two bottles of wine, and nine courses later -- my palette and head overloaded with succulence -- I was sold. Oh man, was I sold!

First: the location. High-up in the Time Warner Center on 59th street and Columbus, per se overlooks Columbus Circle and the lower expanse of Central Park. Needless to say, the view is beautiful.

Second: the door. As you can see here it's got a lovely blue door but it doesn't actually open. Instead, the glass sides slide open, activated by motion detectors and ushers you in.

Third: the service. Perfect. Friendly. Makes you feel like a millionaire. My water glass was always full. Each course was explained (even telling us where the fish and foul and meat was imported from). You really feel taken care of.

Fourth: the wine list. Huge. An oenophile's delight. If it's been bottled, they got it.

Fifth and most important: the food. Transcendent. Amazing. Delicious beyond comprehension. per se doesn't have an a la carte menu, you order one of two tasting menus, the Chef's or Vegetarian (it changes everyday and costs $275 per person). We had the Chef's menu and it consisted of:

"Oysters and Pearls" (i.e. caviar)
Salad of Sacramento Delta Green Asparagus
"Torchon" of Moulard Duck "Foie Gras"
Grilled "Pave" of Hawaiian Big-Eye Tuna
Pan Seared Maine Sea Scallop
Four Story Hills Farm's Poularde Rotie en Cocotte
Sirloin of Blackmore Ranch's Australian "Wagyu"
Blackberry Farm's "Trefoil"
"Shirley Temple" (ginger sherbet)
Clafoutis (puff pastry)

Some of the dishes were tiny, other's were standard size. The meal includes hor'dourves (some kind of delicious cheese balls and salmon bites), bread, and a variety of exotic salts. It's good to start with a white wine and then move into a red for the heavier courses.

After our meal, the waiters took us on a tour of the kitchen where we thanked the chefs and I, nerd that I am, shouted "God bless you all!" Then they gave us copies of our menus in white folders and boxes of chocolates as we went back out the sliding glass doors.

Afterwards, sated like never before, my beloved and I walked home along Central Park South, a full moon shining down on us below, the night air crisp and cool. And on this night, my beloved and I truly felt like we were living at the end of the rainbow.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Remembering Beau James:

As we all know, New York City and New York State has produced some colorful politicians. Spitzer, Giuliani, Koch, D'Amato, LaGuardia -- the Big Apple and Empire State has had its share of public servants with "personality." But they all pale in comparison to Jimmy Walker (no, not "DYNO-MITE!" Jimmy Walker) but James J Walker, "the Jazz Age Mayor" (1926 to 1932).

He was stylish, charming, debonair -- and corrupt as hell. According to this 1949 Time magazine book review, Beau James or Gentleman Jimmy (as he was alternatively known) didn't wake up until ten in the morning, didn't get to the office until noon, did two or three hours of work, then hit the nightclubs. Did he cheat on his wife? That's an understatement -- his affair with the actress Betty Compton was the talk and toast of the town (today I guess they'd be called "JamesBet" or something like that). Did this scandalous behavior make Mayor Walker unpopular? Uh huh. He was re-elected in 1929 in a landslide and only left office when forced to resign in a scandal.

No politician today would be so flagrantly corrupt or amoral as Beau James (not even Rudy) and that's probably a good thing. But he's sure fun to read about.

P.S. Bob Hope's only real dramatic role was the 1957 movie Beau James. If Jazz Age New York is your thing, you should check it out.

How Dirty Is Your Subway Line?

According to The New York Times, the E and Q lines are the worst; the L line, the best. I usually take the 1,2,3 and N/R/W lines and they're usually pretty clean.

How Dirty Is Your Subway Line?

Thanks once again to the Straphanger's Campaign -- they do good work.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Mr NYC always suspected that he had awesome readers. That was confirmed today when one of them emailed me a link to -- an interactive website that "takes a look at the news, trends and politics of the NYC real estate market." It contains videos, a blog, neighborhood info breakdowns, and all sorts of other goodies about the surreal, unreal, all-too real world of NYC real estate (accurately comparing its machinations to "bloodsport").

Responding to my earlier post on the Ansonia, the Awesome Reader sent me the video on the beautiful Upper West Side buildings the Dakota and the Ansonia. It's hosted by the site's creator, Rachel Natalie Klein.

Rockin' Real Estate That Gets Your Rocks Off

Lou Reed 'NYC Man'

If you read this blog regularly, you know that I'm a huge Lou Reed/Velvet Underground fan (interestingly enough I was introduced to Lou Reed, the ultimate New York rocker, by my friend from Missouri. Ironic, huh?)

Anyway, here's Lou Reed performing his solo ballad "NYC Man" (when you hear the song's refrain "Blink your eyes and I'll be gone" I guess we can't NOT think of Elliot Spitzer). It's a great song, mellow and moving, with a real NYC vibe.

LOU REED 'I Love You Suzanne'

Here's the music video for New York favorite Lou Reed's big 1980s hit "I Love You, Suzanne." Go back 25 years to the pastels and hanging-off-the shoulder sweaters and see how dating in New York was as nutty back then as it is today. Some things never change!

In this song, Mr Reed sums up most men's attitude toward women in the most perfect way: "I love you when you're good, I love you when you're bad, bad bad!" And who knew he could dance?

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Clueless Guys Can't Read Women

This isn't really NYC related although it's fair to say there are lots of clueless guys in this town.

Clueless Guys Can't Read Women

As for me, I've never been able to "read" women. Are dorky guys who blog about random, trivial things about NYC really sexy? That would be awesome!

FYI: Milhouse from "The Simpsons" is basically Mr NYC's doppelganger.

Eliot Spitzer, What Were You Thinking?

Okay, this is my last post ever about our now former Governor. Mr NYC does not enjoy wallowing in muck, particularly when so many people have been hurt and embarrassed by this sordid mess. However, I'm sure many of you, like me, are still wondering how this highly-educated, uber-smart son of privilege managed to wreck his career, his marriage, his reputation, his life.

This article in today's Times tries to figure the man out: Sifting the Wreckage for the Real Eliot Spitzer.

The Times' theory: Spitzer found that he hated being Governor, couldn't stand that he couldn't get his way all the time, was miserable that his popularity was falling, and almost wanted to torpedo himself.

My theory: guys like Eliot Spitzer think they're smarter than everyone else and can get away with anything. Also, they're thrill seekers, they get off on doing inappropriate stuff and not getting caught ... until they do.

But who knows? I could be wrong. We shall never know. Maybe even Eliot Spitzer won't ever know. And that's that.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Rocco Ristaurante

In New York it's really hard to find a restaurant with good food, friendly service, and reasonable prices. However, my friends and I know of such place in Greenwich Village: Rocco Ristaurante at 181 Thompson Street, just off Houston Street (please, please DO NOT confuse this joint with that Rocco DiSpirito place on that failed reality show from some years ago; this Rocco's is a beloved institution dating from 1922).

When you go into Rocco, the friendly maitre'd will be shake your hand with a smile and hang up your coat. There's usually no wait or a very short one for a table. Then, while you're browsing the menu, the waiters will bring you an absolutely delicious bruschetta that you can munch on while selecting your anitpasti, carni, etc. The Italian food has a homecooked taste (I strongly recommend their veal dishes) and, for dessert, you MUST try the Tiramisu - best I've ever had.

Places like Rocco are few and far between in New York these days so I strongly suggest it if you're looking for a pleasant place for dinner with friends.

Cheating in New York is Illegal

Thanks to our two "Luv Guvs", adultery is much in the news here in NYC -- and apparently it's against the law.

Is Adultery a Crime in New York?

So to all you married guys out there: considered yourself warned!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Mr NYC Tries to Understand the New York Woman

Quite by coincidence, there were some articles today in different city papers that tried to psych-out what makes (some) New York women tick. These articles ranged from clothes to date etiquette to sex tapes, and the culminating effect these stories had on me was, "What's with you dames?"

First, the Daily News: this article is about how "going Dutch" on dinner dates usually kills the possibility that a guy will score. Yes, that's right, in the post-feminist 21st century in the most sophisticated city on Earth, New York women still expect guys to pick up the check. And Elliot Spitzer had to resign!

My advice to New York guys: DO NOT do dinner on a first date -- just meet for drinks. Offer to buy the first round. If she doesn't offer to get the next round, that tells you everything you need to know about her. (Cough-golddigger-cough)

Second, this New York Observer article is about the "urbane toyboy", city women who wear hoodies, t-shirts, jeans, and sneakers. They all aspire to look like Juno apparently, or Avril Lavigne (those darn Canadians!). My question: why?

My thoughts: I don't really care what women wear and I think women should wear whatever they're comfortable in. But if you look too masculine you might start attracting guys who aren't into ... girls. And I draw the line at back hair!

Finally, this nutty broad writes a whole article in the NY Press about making a sex tape with her "man". Hot, you're thinking, right? Uh, no. The way it turned out, apparently, was to descend into nothing more than awkward acrobatics and her shlub of a boyfriend was reduced to a trained seal. I really don't understand why people want to tape themselves doing the nasty. I don't see how it's either fun or sexy. Any of you out there done this? What's the thrill?

So after reading these articles today, Mr NYC can only conclude that today's New York women is a voyeuristic, sloppily-dressed cheapskate. God I hope I'm wrong.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Governor David Paterson Swearing-in

Here's David Paterson - New York and America's first blind, black governor - giving a hilarious and moving swearing-in speech. I've never seen anything quite like it and probably never will again.

Of course now there are lot of stories coming out that Governor Patterson "bedded" lots of women in the past. Who knew he was that cool?

Good luck Governor Paterson. New York needs it!

New Landmarks

As if the whole city weren't a itself landmark already, today the Landmarks Preservation Commission announced new structures in our city that will be saved from some developer's wrecking ball.

Some notables: One Chase Manhattan Plaza on Wall Street and Webster Hall in the East Village, the old ballroom-turned-speakeasy-turned nightclub.

I've never actually been to Webster Hall so I can't say whether or not it's really worthy of landmark status. But One Chase Manhattan Plaza? I worked in that building once many years ago and, call me a an architectural philistine, it never struck me as anything else but your typical 1960s pseudo-Bauhaus nightmare. What makes it so spacial, I don't know except that it has something to do with the Rockefeller family.

Tom Wolfe actually wrote a book in 1981 about the 1960s blight of boring architecture called From Bauhaus to Our House. Here's the original New York Times review. One Chase Manhattan fits the bill to me.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Alex's Barber Shop

Several months ago I blogged about Astor Place Hair, supposedly the cheapest place in Manhattan to get a hair cut. Well, I'm happy to say that here in Astoria I found an even cheaper place. It's called Alex's Barber Shop, located on 32nd street and 30th Avenue, literally two blocks from the 30th Avenue stop on the N/W line.

What's great about this place is not only that haircuts cost only $10 (at Astor Place Hair they're $14) but that the Russian guys who own it are very friendly and, most importantly, give a DAMN FINE HAIRCUT. This is definitely one of the beast shears I've gotten in a long while and it cost less than usual. When was the last time, particularly in this economy, that you got real value for money? What I also liked about this place was that it was an old-fashioned, no-thrills, salt-of-the-earth kinda Old New York barber shop, the kind fast vanishing from our city. Needless to say I'll continue patronizing Alex's until either move away or they close (pray they don't).

So seriously, if you've got some spare time and an unlimited Metrocard, it's almost worth trekking out here to get a cut at Alex's. Cheap and good? Who could ask for anything more?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

What a Horrible Week!

Normally I like to keep Mr NYC upbeat blog but, since this last week has probably been the worst in New York's history since 9/11, it would be remiss of me to ignore its tragic events (not that much can come close to matching 9/11, thank God).

The resignation of our governor in an embarrassing scandal and now this horrific crane collapse on the East Side yesterday has created a palpable "Can it get worse?" feeling around town. If you haven't heard about this terrible accident, a 15-story crane at some construction site at 50th street and 2nd avenue cracked apart and fell to the ground. One part buckled against a high-rise building and another part smashed a four story building into oblivion. Four people are tragically dead and my heart goes out to their families. Let's hope the city never lets anything like this happen again. And of course, as mentioned earlier, we wish Mr Spitzer and his family the best.

PS. The 4-story building destroyed by this crane housed a watering hole called Fubar, where my beloved and I had our first date. Sad.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Wanna Park in Lower Manhattan? Ha!!

Within the last month, my beloved and I had to make business stops in lower Manhattan. She has a car and, for various reasons, it was easier for us to to drive there than take public transportation. Both times, trying to park there was, in a word, hell. The first time we parked there, we literally had to run in and out of a place but that wasn't enough time for us to avoid a ticket. The second time, after spending nearly 20 minutes looking for a spot, we had to shell out for a parking spot.

As this article in today's New York Times indicates, it's basically impossible to park in lower Manhattan without either going to an expensive parking garage or risking a ticket. And the reason? Well, as the article indicates, it has to do with all of the government-issued placards (many issued for dubious reasons, others outright frauds) that basically make it impossible for anyone else to park there. Needless to say, this is wrong. People have business to do in lower Manhattan and shouldn't be shut out of parking places. Fortunately it looks like the city is doing something about this. Let's hope it works.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Eliot Spitzer Resignation

Well at least this is over ... for now.

This is a very sad day.

Mr NYC wishes the soon-to-be former Governor and his family the best.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Should Spitzer Resign?

Mr NYC hasn't made up his mind.

Needless to say this is very sad.

Tonight only the bad guys on Wall Street feel joy.

But the law is the law. More than anyone, the Governor knows this.

What do you think? Should he stay or should he go?

Monday, March 10, 2008

New York: Never a Dull Moment Part 2

This is really too sad. It sounds like our state's otherwise admirable governor made a monumentally stupid lapse in judgment.

Spitzer Is Linked to Prostitution Ring

I certainly wish him and his family the best. Let's hope that the state is able to recover.

Back in Town

Well I got back from Florida last night after only a NINE AND HALF HOUR delay. Normally there are plenty of direct flights from Tampa to NYC but ours got canceled and we had to instead catch a connecting flight -- FROM DALLAS. Needless to say Mr NYC is a bit sleepy today but persevering nonetheless.

Otherwise I had a nice time in the Sunshine State. And at the end of the month, I'll be headed to the Hoosier State.

You can call me many things but Mr NYC is not provincial.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Mr NYC in the Sunshine State

Well folks, sometimes even Mr NYC has to get out of town. Tomorrow my beloved and I are jetting down to New York City's sixth borough, otherwise known as the State of Florida. No, we're not going there so we can possibly vote in a rescheduled Democratic primary -- we're going to see some of my love's family. So I shall not be sharing my brilliance with you until Monday. Blog ya then!

New York: Never a Dull Moment

Well, you've probably heard by now that some royal prick decided to set off a bomb in Times Square 'round 3 AM this morning. It damaged the military recruiting station there but fortunately hurt no one. Frankly I never understood why the military would set up a recruiting station in the middle of Times Square but hey, real estate is real estate. I don't know what point this bomber was trying to make but he failed to scare anyone or really screw up traffic. Still, I hope they catch him (I assume it's a dude) and dangle the slug from the Brooklyn Bridge with only dental floss around his ankles.

In other depressing news, it looks like Moynihan station is getting delayed yet again. Ya really gotta hand it to these New York State bureaucrats, they manage to make the Italian government look like a model of efficiency. I just saw the late great Senator's daughter on TV and she made the point that they built the Empire State Building in 13 months! As Henry Hill's father said in Goodfellas, "In months" (okay, technically a year and a month but this Moynihan station project has been going on for almost NINE YEARS). What's the hold-up? A disgrace.

But in happier city news, there are actually landlords in this city with a heart of gold who want to make it easier for artists to live here. Interesting article in today's Times:
The Lords of Dumbo Make Room for the Arts, at Least for the Moment.

Gentleman, break out those mops ...

Men Who Do Housework May Get More Sex

Here's an idea of a pick-up line that guys might want to try: "Baby, I'll make your kitchen floors shine like the floor of the top of Chrysler Building."

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The MTA's Grand Design

Thanks to chief Lee Sander, the MTA now has a forty-year, multi-billion dollar vision to expand and improve transit in this town. It includes expanding subway service in Queens, the Bronx, and Brooklyn with new lines in under served areas (running parallel to LIRR lines) and an Air Tram to LaGuardia airport. In addition, over $20 billion would be devoted to capital improvement projects which we badly, badly need.

Well, it's about damn time that someone took charge and created a longterm design for the MTA so thank you Mr Sander. Anyone who reads this blog knows that the MTA is a pet peeve of mine, an embarassingly incompetent agency that miserably serves this town. So I have strong doubts that anything will ever really improve when it comes to the MTA. After all, how many decades have we been waiting for the 2nd Avenue Subway? Good luck Mr. Sander. You'll need LOTS of it.

MTA chief outlines program expansions in his 'State of the MTA' speech

Monday, March 3, 2008

Best of New York 2008

New York Magazine has published its annual Best of New York lists for 2008. Here you can get all the info you need about where to shop, eat, shop, go on a blind date, shop, see shows, shop, even get your kid a haircut.

Here's an interesting thing I learned from this year's list. One of the best places to get a great steak is Robert's Steakhouse at the Penthouse Executive Club. Apparently it has the best rib eye in town. Steak and strippers? Can a man ask for more? My beloved might have something to say about that ...

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Bobby Short - A New York Legend

For almost forty years, Bobby Short entertained New Yorkers with his magical singing at the Cafe Carlyle. He sang all the great jazz and blues standards - George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, you name it - and getting a ticket to one of his shows wasn't easy or cheap. Bobby Short was probably the classiest man in New York City, a standard bearer of sophistication in an increasingly vulgar age.

I sadly never got to see Bobby Short perform live (he died in 2005) and have always regretted it. Thanks to TV and the Internet, however, we can still see him play. He also appeared in Woody Allen's great 1986 movie "Hannah and Her Sisters." And will always be remembered as a New York icon. The city even named the street around the Hotel Carlyle on 76th street and Madison as "Bobby Short Way."

Here he is performing in that other elegant venue, The White House.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Mormons in New York City

In the last few years, Mormonism has burst into the national consciousness. The Presidential candidacy of Mitt Romney, the hit HBO series "Big Love" (although the mainstream Mormon church, it should be pointed out, abandoned polygamy in 1890), plus the great PBS documentary series "The Mormons", have put a bright new light on this most controversial of religions.

Mormonism is a complex faith. It claims to be part of Christianity but differs in certain ways. Mormons believe God is an actual person with a body; they believe people can be baptized after death; they believe the Garden of Eden is in Missouri; besides their past practice of polygamy, they used to believed that black people were put on Earth to represent the devil, white folks to represent Jesus (they have since abandoned this belief, thankfully). They believe, in essence, that they have 'righted' Christianity. You can see why it's been so controversial.

The Mormon health code is notoriously strict: no booze, no tobacco, no caffeine, no narcotics, no premarital sex. Do lots of exercise and get lots of sleep. Eat meat sparingly. As a result, Mormons have fewer health problems and live longer than most Americans. Why this strict health code? Mormons believe the body and soul are of equal importance and both should be kept pure.

So what does this have to do with NYC? Well, there are over 42,000 of them here. In fact, there is a Mormon temple in that most non-Mormon of places in this town, the Upper West Side. You can find it on 65th street and Columbus, right near Lincoln Center and ABC Studios. You can visit it if you like and learn more about this booming religion.