Category Archives: Uncategorized

NYC Subway Buskers

What would we do without our NYC Subway Buskers?

Yesterday I was on the Q Train at about Noon. My free entertainment began with a musical trio that blew my mind. A guitarist and 2 singers harmonized a song they wrote that gave me goosebumps.  They were busking to earn money for studio fees. Do I believe them? Well, actually I do, but whether I believe them or not, their music moved me so deeply that I gave them not one, but TWO dollars. So did most people on my car.

One stop later the infamous subway gymnast/magician/dancers came on board. I heard some audible groans. These guys are hated by many but, for the life of me, I can’t figure out why. People say they’re dangerous–swinging around poles with their legs high in the air. Here is what I think. You know how major league baseball pitchers are so accurate that if a batter gets hit by a ball, it was probably intentional? That’s how accurate these guys are. They have perfect control over their bodies. Seriously, if anyone was to ever shoot an apple off of my head with an arrow, I would hope it would be one of these guys. They are flexible, strong, precise and supremely talented. Fortunately I still had a dollar left to give these guys but I don’t think my car coughed up as much cash as they deserved.

In my Q Train car were four out-of-towners from Israel. The women were blown away by the musicians and the men were blown away by the gymnasts. The four of them, like me, gave money to both. After the gymnast finished one of the tourists spoke loudly, “MAN this city has talent.” I could not have been more proud. Our talent is often underground and they are the stuff that makes our city great. The artists and all around creatives who make a buck by performing for us. I have always loved the combination of talent and guts and I think it is classically New York. Try not to disdain them. Try instead to enjoy what they have to offer. Pay them if you can. They are the stuff that makes this city great.

For the rest of the day I had the lyrics of one of my favorite Joni Mitchell songs in my head:

“And I play if you have the money

or if you’re a friend to me

but the one man band

by the quick lunch stand

He was playing real good, for free.”

P.S. Though the MTA does not approve of musicians playing on the subway cars, they do support musicians who play in the underground subway stations and have an official program called Music Under New York.

Subway Musicians

Some Tips on Indian Food in New York

Most out-of-towners might not know that Manhattan has 2 Little India’s.  The most popular one is in the East Village–Sixth Street between Second Avenue and Avenue A.  But there is another Little India with excellent food and that is on Lexington between 27th and 29th.  My favorite vegetarian food option in New York is Indian, although we do have a number of excellent vegetarian restaurants too.  Indian food is great for a flexatarian crowd.

In the East Village, my personal favorite is *Haveli (100 Second Avenue)–but many are quite good.  Haveli has a few nice features.  The front window is broken glass–a distinctive visual.  Also, the kitchen has a large (unbroken) picture window where you can watch the bread being made.  In warm months there is outdoor seating on Second Avenue.  The prices are reasonable and I love the naan, the chana saag, the vegetable curry, and the aloo matter gobi.  I have had their chicken tikka masala as well and thought it was very good.

If you’re in the Lexington Avenue area there are some really good restaurants and great all you can eat lunch deals.  I don’t know these restaurants as well but Dhaba (108 Lexington Avenue) is very good with an $11.95 lunch buffet on weekdays ($13.95 on Sunday).  One of my favorite jaunts in this neighborhood is not Indian but has excellent Middle Eastern food and a grocery store where you could shop for hours.  Every spice, rice and dried fruit known to humankind is available there.  It is called Kalustyan’s (123 Lexington Avenue) and if you go, the prepared food is upstairs.  Don’t miss the Mujaddara.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the Jackson Diner (37-47 74th Street) in Queens.  For years it was considered the number one Indian restaurant in the five boroughs.  I haven’t been in a long time but when I did go, it was excellent.  I have heard that it has become overcrowded and commercialized but such is the fate of local quality.

*Since this post was written Haveli has gone under new management and I cannot recommend it.  NB 12/14/16

Food Trucks

Ya gotta love a good food truck.  I remember once, when traveling to Oahu, I passed a Shrimp Scampi food truck with a huge line.  I was on my way to a business meeting and afterwards I asked a local whether I should go back and get the scampi out of the truck.  He insisted.  It was the best shrimp scampi I ever had in my life.  I still think about it.  Pretty regularly.  15 years later.

Are all food trucks that good?  No way.  I heard a harrowing story of a man who got food poisoning from a food truck in Europe and he ended up paralyzed.  No kidding.  No joke.

But…there has been a revolution in food truck cuisine and there are some places that you can find some amazing and really diverse food in the metropolitan area.

Smorgasburg is in a warehouse in Sunset Park for the Winter, and although I have never been to that location I plan to try it soon.  In Summer, Smorgasburg will come back to a location in Williamsburg on Saturday and a location in Prospect Park on Sundays.  For a list of vendors and an idea of the diversity and quality of the food, go to the site http://www.smorgasburg.com/vendors/

Mad Sq. Eats–right next to Madison Square Park on the Broadway side–has a great selection of food trucks.  I had one of the best pretzels I’ve ever had in my life there.  Last year they were there in April and August so look for them again this year.  Lots of delicious main courses and desserts can be had.  You’re right next to Eataly and the original Shake Shack, so if nothing strikes your fancy in the trucks, go there instead and get a panini at the former or a burger at the latter.  And make sure you check out the latest art exhibit in Madison Square Park.  They have some of the best public art exhibits I’ve seen in Manhattan.

As for the food vendors in mid-town, well, they are not for the light of heart or for the sensitive stomach.  Although I simply love having them there (Giuliani forbid them in the nineties and it left a hole in the streets and hearts and stomachs of mid-town workers) you have to be a little careful–especially with the meat.  Let me put it this way; these are not fair trade, free range, educated and psychologically nurtured meats.  But…if you’re tough, the street food is delicious.  I have to say that I have grown out of them.  I am pickier than I was in my twenties.

Every once in awhile, a selection of GREAT food trucks pulls into Grand Army Plaza near where I live.  They have delicious grilled cheese and a donut truck that will blow your mind.  There is an ice cream filled donut option that simply makes me wonder how I lived this long without thinking of that!  There are lots of other great options too.

So go forth and eat from trucks.  Be wary, but do not be a snob, lest you miss out on some of the best food NYC has to offer.

 

If You Only Have One Day – Brooklyn

Most of my tips involve a lot of walking.  New Yorkers walk–that’s what we do.  This tip is no exception.

Start on the Manhattan side of the Brooklyn Bridge.  Walk over the bridge to DUMBO.  Please be careful of the cyclists!!  There are 2 distinct lanes on the bridge–the right side when facing Brooklyn–is for walkers.  If you decide to come back over the bridge stay on the same side!!!  All the cyclists are always on the left side when facing Brooklyn.  I have seen a lot of near misses and I warn you to really be careful of the bikes.  Some of those cyclists (no, not me) get very frustrated (okay, well maybe once) and won’t spare you.

When you’re off the bridge you are in DUMBO.  Since my very favorite Local Expedition is in DUMBO (Citibike DUMBO with a variation entitled Ferry To DUMBO for the light of heart) I am not going to tell you the really great places you’ll go if you sign up for that.  Instead, I’ll give you the second best ideas.

DUMBO is a little shopping haven.  On Washington Street check out PS Bookshop.  There is a Brooklyn Industries there.  What used to be a small and reasonably priced shop has become an overpriced chain, but I still go there for t-shirts for my nieces and nephews.  Always check the clearance rack.

One Girl Cookies on Main Street is famous for its whoopie pie and Jaques Torres is very nearby.  After some sweets, walk toward the water.  There is so much to see.  DUMBO Park has Jane’s Carousel and St. Ann’s Warehouse–one of the great avant garde theaters in all the land.  Continue your walk toward Brooklyn Bridge Park (Manhattan is on your right) and peek in at the famous and longstanding River Cafe.  If you don’t mind dropping a lot of money–have a drink and eat at the bar.  You won’t get a table unless you’ve made a reservation well in advance.  It took me 30 years to do it and I only had brunch but it was worth the wait!

If you would rather go to one of the best pizza places in all of the five boroughs, go to Juliana’s.  For years we have heard of Grimaldi’s.  Well, here’s the inside word.  Juliana’s is really Grimaldi’s and Grimaldi’s which is right next to Juliana’s is now a sub-par knockoff.  Grimaldi sold the name–I am guessing for a pretty price, because the branding confusion is vast, and many go to Grimaldi’s now and think, “really?  That was it?”  Go to Juliana’s.  Trust me on this.

Last, but certainly not least, walk the length of Brooklyn Bridge Park (again, Manhattan is on your right).  This is really an amazing new park that caters to Brooklyn families and sports fans.  If you are lucky enough to be there on a Smorgasburg Sunday in the Summer, don’t miss that.  Imagine 100 specialty and gourmet food trucks with varied options like beet based veggie burgers and a whole booth devoted to butter cake.  I wish I had thought of that!

At the end of Brooklyn Bridge Park you are on Atlantic Avenue.  Head away from the water and you will find a subway very nearby.  If you’re not too tired–or if you ate at every establishment I named–you can walk back over the bridge but…

…WATCH OUT FOR THE CYCLISTS!

 

If You Only Have One Day — Manhattan

This is first in a series of posts about what you should do if you only have one day in New York City. The best idea of all is to sign up for a Local Expedition and let a local take you around for a few hours for only $40.  Barring that, here are my suggestions for a one day self guided tour.

Start your day at 23rd Street and Fifth Avenue and get an espresso or cappuccino at Eataly.  Caffe opens at 7; market opens at 9.  Walk around for awhile and take in Mario Battali’s theme park. When you leave make sure you get a picture of the Flatiron building.  It is one of the most stunning and unusual architectural icons we have.

Spend some time walking through Madison Square Park.  There is always interesting public art there.  Keep in mind that when I came to New York in the Eighties you wouldn’t be caught dead there.  Or you would be caught dead there–with a needle in your arm.

Start walking down Fifth Avenue.  If you’re a shopper, it’s basically an outdoor mall.  Lululemon, The Gap, Banana, Zara, J Crew, etc.  At 18th Street turn right and go to City Bakery for another cup of coffee and a baked good.  If you are a healthy eater, make sure you check out their gourmet salad bar.  You might want an early lunch.  City Bakery is a jewel.

Continue West on 18th to Sixth Avenue and then drop down one block to 17th Street.  Take a right on 17th Street and go to Housing Works Thrift Shop.  New York City has high-end thrifts and this one is for a great cause.

If you didn’t fill up at Eataly and City Bakery, go to Cafeteria for lunch but get there early because it fills up fast.  Cafeteria is an old standard.  The food is great and the people watching is too.  Cafeteria is on the corner of 17th Street and Seventh Avenue.

Walk down Seventh Avenue and turn right onto 14th Street.  This part of 14th Street combines the old with the new.  There are still some funky tattoo parlors and cheap jeans joints but the further West you go into the old meatpacking district, the higher end the shops become.  Take a left onto Hudson Street and then a left on Bleecker.  Get in line for a cupcake at Magnolia’s.  It’s been around for awhile too, but it’s worth the wait.

Next make your way to the new Whitney Museum of American Art on Gansevoort and Washington.  Ask someone for directions–you are close.  This is the new location of an old classic and is a great addition to the West Village–one of my all time favorite neighborhoods in Manhattan.  I didn’t think it could get better, but the addition of the Whitney is so perfect that you wonder how it took this long to happen. Spend lots of time here looking at the American classics and some amazing contemporary art.

When you leave the Whitney walk all the way up to 34th Street (or at least 30th Street) on the High Line.  This new elevated park with plenty of public art does not disappoint.  When you get to the street hail a cab because you are heading back down to the Village.

For dinner go to Lupa on Thompson just north of Houston Street.  It is still my favorite.  In the owner’s words:  LUPA OSTERIA ROMANA opened in the fall of 1999, a partnership between Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich, Mark Ladner and Jason Denton. The four men wanted to open a casual restaurant specializing in Roman trattoria fare of the highest quality at a moderate price.

If you aren’t completely done, go have a drink and a ping pong game at SPIN–23rd and Park Avenue.  You’re pretty much back where you started and you walked enough to burn off most of what I suggested you eat.

I do.  I love New York.

What’s Happening in the Theater?

Now, I’m no expert, but I have been a theater devotee since 1983.  So, from a local’s perspective, here is what I have to say about one of the most significant attractions New York City has to offer.  It’s good news people!  We are experiencing an excellent period on and off the Broadway stage!

Let’s start with Broadway, because, well, let’s face it, Broadway is what people think about when they come to New York.  At last year’s Tony’s, 2 great plays won best drama and best musical.  Both of these plays were original, new, and off the beaten path.  One was a technological journey from the perspective of an autistic boy (THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT) and the other a butch lesbian coming of age story set in a funeral home (and THAT was the musical–FUN HOME).  Both of these plays richly deserved the Tony and yet many were unsure they would get it.  Why? Because these were not your typical singing, dancing, lavish set, fluffy, people-pleasing plays.  They were plays dealing with serious subjects and conveying these subjects in an atypical fashion within a reasonable budget.  I was so pleased to see them honored because I felt they really showed a sophistication on Broadway that had been lost for quite some time.  My personal feeling was that we were in a dead zone–producing countless expensive revivals with film stars in lead rolls to sell seats and please subscribers instead of honoring our great theater tradition and our great theater actors and actresses (theater acting is far different from film acting and many are not good at both).  But I’m pleased to say that period is over.  Tonight I am going to see HAMILTON and I COULD NOT be more excited about a spoken word/rap musical about one of the (possibly THE) most significant historical figures in New York City’s past.  A brilliant concept.

But…what I’m really excited about is the immersive theater movement.  This is something very exciting from the perspective of narrative.  What if the audience chooses the scenes they want to see? What if the story doesn’t necessarily have a chronological through line?  What if you leave the theater space and find out your companion saw something completely different than you saw?  This is the wonder of immersive theater.  I have been to SLEEP NO MORE and THEN SHE FELL and they were both amazing experiences.  I preferred THEN SHE FELL because it provided a guided experience through the many hallways and floors of the space, but many have loved SLEEP NO MORE, and have returned several times, so they can create their own experience through the narrative.  If you don’t know about immersive theater, let me try to explain.  Both of these plays are based on classic stories–SNM on Macbeth and TSF on Lewis Carroll and Alice Through the Looking Glass.  First, the venue for each is a large warehouse space with several floors.  The audience roams through the space either unattended (SNM) or guided (TSF).  Different scenes take place in different rooms and there is a unique choreography to it all.  The actors are quite aware of where they need to be at every moment and yet the audience feels like they just happened upon a scene–sometimes mid-action.  At first one might think they are paying a lot of money for some titillating and voyeuristic choreography (and be forewarned, they are sexy, kinky, naked, etc.) but eventually a tale unfolds and you realize you are experiencing something really unique and deep.  Before you pay the steep sum (no steeper than Broadway of course, but as much) you should know this.  You will be walking a lot up and down stairs.  In SNM you will be wearing masks.  In SNM there is nudity and an all around EYES WIDE SHUT feeling.  I was worried about extreme audience participation which I am not a fan of.  That was not my experience.  You are there and basically part of the scenery, but they do not want you to participate.  If they do, and they will talk to you directly, it is more likely when you are alone and it is not in an awkward embarrassing situation.  You become part of the play and it is really quite thrilling.  So, if all of this sounds intriguing to you I say run, don’t walk, to an immersive theater experience.  A new one has just opened by the group that did TSF–Third Rail Projects’–THE GRAND PARADISE–based on Chagall.  Dreamy.

One last word on the New York theater:  IT’S TOO EXPENSIVE!!!  I love the theater.  I support the theater.  I believe actors should be well paid.  I believe the sets are amazing and costly.  I believe the writers and the directors and the stage hands and the lighting designers should be well paid.  BUT COME ON PEOPLE!  $150 PER TICKET!  Please, please bring the overall price down and offer better bargains for out of towner’s, low income residents, students, and everyone!  Let’s get more people to the theater for less money.  And for those of you who can’t afford it, there are many ways to get cheaper tickets–the main way is TKTS.  Always do it.  But even $75 is a lot to pay for a crappy revival.  Choose wisely but get half price tickets when you can and go!  There is nothing in my book that offers the artistic value that good, live theater does.  Enchanting.

Should I Take the Subway?

The answer to this question is almost always yes.  The New York City subway system is arguably the best in the world.  It can take you from the northernmost sections of the Bronx to the southernmost tip of Coney Island far faster than you could drive.  For out of owners here are some facts and tips that can help you know what to expect.

Is the New York City Subway clean?  Yeah, not so much.  But clean is not really New York’s forte.  If you are looking for a clean city I’d be inclined toward Madison, WI.  Is it filthy?  No, not anymore.  It has been so cleaned up in comparison to the good old days (the 80’s) that I barely notice the mess.  Still, look before you sit, don’t put your bag down on the floor, and consider hand sanitizer after you have been strap hanging (an ancient term by the way; the subway hasn’t had straps since the early 80’s).

Uptown/Downtown all around the town.  When you’re an out of towner, a seemingly simple direction like Uptown can be wildly baffling.  Picture it like this.  The island of Manhattan is basically a long, narrow grid.  The South is downtown–this is where you see the Statue of Liberty and Wall Street.  Harlem is uptown–this is where you see The George Washington Bridge and The Cotton Club.  The numbered streets in between run from lowest (South) to highest (North).  The only caveat, and it’s a pretty big one, is that there are many blocks South of Houston Street (this is not pronounced like the city in TX–instead HOW STUN) that are not numbered.  If you are heading to South Ferry or Wall Street you are going downtown.  And the boroughs:  Brooklyn and Staten Island are off of the DOWNTOWN part of Manhattan; Queens is off to the EAST; The Bronx is NORTH.  What’s to the WEST?  It’s Jersey and you don’t need to know about it.

Here’s the rub for an out of towner.  It’s really hard to get any official help in the subway.  In the olden days, we at least had hu-manned token booths.  Not so anymore.  But…New Yorkers are REALLY FRIENDLY (yes, I said it in CAPS and I meant it) and love to give subway directions to out of towners.  Seriously.  Gone are the days of not letting people in the subway know that you are from out of town.   You are a person of interest if you ask for help and as long as it’s not 2 a.m. or isolated on the platform, you are generally very safe.

My favorite new feature of the excellent New York subway system, is that most platforms now have electronic signs telling you when the next train will arrive.  Why did it take so long?  I cannot tell you how much anxiety it quells simply to know when the next train is coming.  There’s not much you can do about it, but at least now you know.

Best tip for an out of towner–DO GET A SUBWAY MAP or go to this site:  http://web.mta.info/maps/submap.html

There are also really helpful apps that tell you the best way to get to a location via subway including basic map apps like Google Maps.

Also, get a metro card and keep it in your wallet.  A 7-day card is $31.00.  The single ride fare is $2.75.  So, if you think you will use it more than 12 rides in a week–and if you’re really sightseeing and getting out into the boroughs on Local Expeditions like you should be–then get a 7-day card.  Otherwise, go to a metro card machine in the subway with your credit card or a $20 and buy a new card.  There is a small fee for the card so hold onto it if you know you are coming back.

As those who know me are aware of my penchant for traveling New York by bicycle (see my Cycling New York City post on this site), I confess without reservation that my second favorite mode of transportation is the good old New York City subway.

(Featured Image from Q Train to Manhattan from Brooklyn looking down on DUMBO)

Cycling in New York

If anyone tells you that cycling in New York is easy or safe, don’t let them sell you any real estate and definitely don’t leave your dog with them while you dash into the grocery store.  It’s not.  It’s not easy and it’s definitely not safe.  Does this mean you shouldn’t do it?  Absolutely not!  Cycling in New York City is one of my all time favorite things to do (see my Citibike DUMBO expedition on this site).  Here are some things to consider before you embark.

Are you a reasonably confident cyclist?  You should be.  It is not for the beginner.   Your balance has to be excellent and your judgement impeccable.  I remember when I learned how to drive a car back in the seventies and the tag line was WATCH OUT FOR THE OTHER GUY.  In cycling, you CONSTANTLY have to watch out for the other guy–the drivers, the pedestrians, the parked cars (getting “doored” is a common verb among cyclists), the dogs, the potholes, the strollers.  In fact–one time a skate boarder fell off his board on the sidewalk and his skate board shot out in front of me in the bike lane.  Who could anticipate it?  The New York City cyclist has to imagine at all times the worst.  This is not a philosophy for life but it is a philosophy for riding city streets.  Make sure you are both a stable cyclist and a hyper-aware person.  I had a friend once say he was a constant day dreamer and that is why he doesn’t ride in the city and I agreed with him that he shouldn’t.

But…that’s one of the reasons I love it so much!  Talk about being in the moment.  You really have to stay present.  That is why I never advise earphones, music, talking while cycling — to other cyclists and DEFINITELY not on the phone. I also advise a helmet, a tuned-up bike, and pants tucked into socks.  These are things that are under your control, so do them for a safer ride.

Now, if I haven’t completely turned you off of cycling in New York city, let me tell you how completely great it is.  There is literally no better way to get around.  As a cyclist, I bypass stopped traffic, I see the most amazing sights, the ride is FREE and I get excellent exercise.  My commute to mid-town from Brooklyn–which I did most days for 8 years–took the same amount of time it took for me to take the subway.  On the few days I took the subway, I was miserable with the crowds.  Cycling is so freeing that it’s hard to go back to public transportation.  As well, New York city is mostly flat and has become amazingly bike friendly.  The bike lanes are terrific and I advise you take routes that include bike lanes whenever you can. This means that sometimes it is not the most direct route.  For example, on my way to work I would cut east after the Manhattan Bridge in order to ride the First Avenue bike lane, even though I had to cut back West to get to my office at 35th Street.  It is worth the extra mileage to be safe.  Also, I suggest you take the prettiest route.  After several years, I ended up cutting much further East in order to ride up the East River bike path and see the beautiful views along the way.  Another advantage to this bike path–and also the wonderful West Side Highway Hudson River bike path–is that there are no lights.  I found the commute to be the same amount of time and almost a mile longer.

I can go on and on about the advantages of cycling in New York City but my best tip of the day is to sign up for my Citibike DUMBO expedition and learn how to use the excellent Citibike (sharing economy) bike service in New York and ride safely with me while enjoying the stunning beauty of the 2 bridges that define the borders of the excellent neighborhood on the other side of the river.

UNLEASHED!

When I travel I really miss my dog.  If you are missing your dog, there are plenty of places in the NYC area to get a dog fix. There are dog parks in many of the small NYC parks–Union Square Park, Madison Square Park, Washington Square Park, but…

…if you want an INCREDIBLE dog experience you have to come to the boroughs.

Prospect Park in Brooklyn (2 or 3 train to Grand Army Plaza or Q Train to Seventh Avenue) has an amazing off leash policy.  The entire Long Meadow is off leash before 9:00 a.m. and after 5:00 pm in the Winter (10:00 pm in the Summer).  We are talking hundreds of romping, playing, yelping, wagging, body-checking, stick carrying, ball chasing off leash dogs.  It’s like Seurat’s Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grand Jatteexcept it’s all dogs (and a few people).  I highly recommend you pick a Saturday or Sunday to come on out and experience this daily canine festival.  On Saturday, there is also a great Farmer’s Market at the Grand Army Plaza entrance to the park.  What I like about Sunday, though, is that on your way to the park there is no one in sight.  You basically have the city to yourself.  Then you enter through Grand Army Plaza–still relatively quiet–a few cyclists, a few joggers.  Walk the path to the wonderful arch tunnels designed by Olmsted and Vaux and you see the framed photograph of Seurat in canine before you.  When you come out of the tunnel, the park is in full canine swing and it’s like a Saturday night in Times Square after the theater lets out–for dogs.

On a personal note, the first time I jogged in Prospect Park back in 2001, I thought to myself–I can FINALLY have a dog!  I can actually give a dog a good life here.  Within months I got an 8 week old beagle and we only miss a morning in the park when we are out of town.  It is truly one of my favorite aspects of living in Park Slope and I highly recommend it to locals and out of town-ers alike.  Anyone who loves dogs will be delighted by this morning excursion–and there’s a great coffee truck on Union and Prospect Park West.

What to do on New Year’s Eve?

For me, this is an age old question.  I always get a serious case of FOMO on New Year’s Eve.  Everywhere I am is ruined by everywhere I think I should be–or worse yet–all of the places I don’t even know about because I am not cool enough to be in on the secret.

Here’s the truth:  I would hate those cool places.  Too expensive, too glitzy, too frenetic and a terrible sick feeling in my stomach that would be an awful way to ring in a new year.

Instead, my FAVORITE New York City thing to do on New Year’s Eve is a double–or even triple–feature film experience.  First of all, there are no lines.  Choose one venue with two or three films you like and stay there all night.  When you get out–New Year’s Eve is over and you didn’t even think about your FOMO.  Second, there are always great film releases between Christmas and New Year’s.  It’s nice timing for the upcoming Oscars so you have lots of good options–from crowd pleasers to art house, to indy.  I like Angelika Film Center for its location and its variety of films.

Before you go though, you should get some food in you!  Eating out on New Year’s Eve can be a nightmare.  You can’t get a reservation at the fanciest places and most offer a fixed menu and a fixed price that is far higher than their culinary value.  This is the night to go ethnic and without reservations.  Indian–Haveli on Second Avenue and Sixth Street is aways good.  Chinese–Golden Unicorn in Chinatown is popular but good.  The decor is over the top but I like it for its excess.  For Italian, it’s really small but I just love Peppe Rosso to Go on Sullivan just South of Houston.  The pasta is the real thing and the prices are reasonable. The most important thing about all of these dining establishments is that they will retain their menu, quality and prices on New Year’s Eve.  They are quick, simple and delicious so you can get some good food in you and get to the movies fast–before the streets get insane.  These are all within walking distance of Angelika Film Center if you choose that venue.  Now Playing – WHERE TO INVADE NEXT (Michael Moore); YOUTH (Italian; by the makers of The Great Beauty); CAROL (Cate Blanchett–say no more); and ROOM (an amazing story).

Transportation:  My suggestion for NYC on NYE is to take the subway.  They run on weekend schedules but are still very effective and safe.  Be forewarned about taxi’s–on New Year’s Eve, against all the TLC rules–they often turn off their meters and charge inflated prices for a ride.  I, personally, really dislike this so I avoid taxi’s altogether, but I have to admit, one of my favorite New York experiences occurred in a cab on New Year’s Eve many years ago.  At the stroke of midnight, while I was taxi’ing between two bad parties, the cabbie pulled over and popped open a bottle of champagne to share with the two of us in the back seat.  He even had champagne flutes!  It was, in a word, charming.

Whatever you end up doing, have fun, be safe, and don’t forget to make a resolution in your personal life that will help the world.  It needs it.

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