Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Take That! The Heat Wave Finally Lifts from the East Coast

My non-empathetic Southern friends from Mississippi sent me this cartoon making fun of our misery up North. Ha! We're finally getting relief -- it's started raining. Love to meet you some day, Marshall Ramsey.

Cartoon courtesy of the Clarion-Ledger.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Retro Roller Skating Comes to the High Line – Thursday

Photo courtesy of Friends of the High Line

Are you a closet roller derby fan who would happily trade their rollerblades for retro skates? Have you been secretly in mourning since the Roxy closed four years ago? Then break out your knee high socks and hightail it to Manhattan’s newest pop-up attraction, the High Line Rink which opens Thursday at West 30th Street and 10th Avenue. New York City is bringing roller-skating back in style replete with live-DJ tunes, pizza, and ice cream sandwiches from next-door Lot on Tap’s food trucks. You’re certain to be in good company on this 8,000 square-foot outdoor arena, and if you’re one of the first 500 people to arrive on Thursday, Friday or Saturday, sponsor UNIQLO pays for your admission. Take your loved ones on a stroll down the High Line, “refuel” with a soft drink or an artisanal brew at The Lot on Tap, and go for a spin around the rink. You’ll be supporting the High Line, too: a portion of the admission charge goes towards its maintenance and upkeep. Regular ticket prices are $10 for kids and $12 for adults, including skate rental. The rink will stay open until September 26, opening at 11am daily until 10pm during the week, and until 11pm Thursday through Saturday.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Alexander McQueen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolian Museum of Art wants to be sure that we don't forget what happened on February 11, 2010: the silencing of the fashion world by the death of designer Alexander McQueen. McQueen’s influence began in the early 90’s and ranged from exotic tailoring patterns to evocative and raw fashion shows. He was one of the first to present the industry with a true British embodiment of culture and style. He pushed boundaries and made a few fashion faux pas; quite different from his earlier work in the studio of Givenchy. In the end, he created a worldwide empire of design that would continue to empower women long after his death.

Through August 7, the Costume Institute and the Metropolitan Museum of Art is showcasing McQueen’s legacy in the ‘Savage Beauty’ exhibition. Located in the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Exhibition Hall, second floor, entrance is free with Museum admission and if you’re a Met member you’ll be able to skip the extraordinarily long lines for this popular exhibit. Membership has other privileges, too: you can bring four friends along with you – an amazing feat. The exhibit is open on Mondays when the rest of the museum is closed, from 9:30am- 2:30pm, for visitors willing to purchase a $50 ticket.

If you’re assuming this exhibit to be a typical and exclusive fashion show presentation of waif-like models and obscure fashion messages, you’re very wrong. The exhibit is more art than fashion, more history than modern propaganda, and more interesting to look at than the average designer dress walking down the Red Carpet on Oscar night. It’s also dark and quite disturbing.

The title, ‘Savage Beauty’, is meant to represent the contrasting opposites in McQueen’s work, and the various themes that he presented the public throughout his career. His most revisited subjects include: polarized opposites, life versus death, lightness and darkness, predator versus prey, and man versus machine. The exhibition focuses on McQueen’s most prized collections and is broken up into six rooms of designs- organized by “Romantic” interpretations of historicism, primitivism, exoticism, naturalism, the gothic and Darwinism. Much of McQueen’s work was and still remains highly controversial regarding what he was assumed to be representing. This in itself is what makes his work so captivating. He has the ability to tell a story through clothing -- not an easy task when it comes to fashion design.

There are approximately a hundred ensembles and seventy accessories from the House of McQueen, including some of his most famous designs: the “bumster” trouser, the kimono jacket, and the three-point origami coat. The exhibition exemplifies McQueen’s promotion of expression of culture, politics and identity.

A great way to explore the Metropolitan Museum of Art with a twist, this is a one-of-a-kind exhibit that attracts more than the fashion and design crowd. It’s a fabulous opportunity to explore modern culture through the eyes of a British mastermind, and a great way to get a good dose of fashion mixed in with history, art, a study of humanity and beautiful craftsmanship.

Be prepared for a very “dark” experience. It certainly gives insight into why this fashion genius committed suicide.

“You’ve got to know the rules to break them. That is what I’m here for, to demolish the rules but to keep the tradition.”

- Alexander McQueen

Monday- Closed, Tuesday to Thursday- 9:30am-5:30pm, Friday and Saturday- 9:30am-9:00pm, Sunday- 9:30am-5:30pm

1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street, New York City

Friday, July 8, 2011

Eating Your Way through the Bronx's Little Italy: Arthur Avenue

Mike's Deli, Arthur Avenue Retail Market

I’ve just spent two days in the Bronx, taking my son to a baseball showcase near the Botanical Garden, the Bronx Zoo, and Fordham University. For a foodie, this area is Italian nirvana and home to one of the city’s most vibrant Italian communities, Arthur Avenue. A shopping destination for all food Italian with some very good restaurants, too, the streets here are lined with macellerie (butcher shops), gelaterias (gelato shops) and an expansive covered market at 2344 Arthur Avenue that’s been in operation since 1940.

For a quick one-two-three Italian feast, try these favorite spots:

Mike’s Deli

Have a pre-dinner antipasto at Mike’s, a traditional Italian butcher shop and deli at the Arthur Avenue Retail Market, with a tantalizing array of Italian salumi and formaggi. For more than 60 years, the Greco family have satisfied customers both here and at their trattoria across the street with appetizers, olives, and main dishes like melanzane alla parmigiana, linguine carbonara (with pancetta, parmesan and cream) and penne matriciana with plum tomatoes and pancetta. Chef Dave Greco, who showed off his cooking skills on Bobby Flay’s “Throwdown with Bobby Flay,” will happily schmooze with you as he makes sandwiches at the counter or espresso at the trattoria. You might also see Dave’s mother helping out in the kitchen or his father, Mike, singing a tune at the deli. It’s all in the family, Italian-style. Don’t miss the deli’s daily cheese demos, with selections straight from the homeland for only $4.95.

2344 Arthur Avenue; Bronx, NY 10458; 718-295-5033


Got a hungry crowd feeling the red-sauce vibe for an early dinner? After gorging yourself on Mike’s appetizers, Dominick’s is your destination. Here you’ll enjoy oversized family-style portions at undersized prices in a setting that hasn’t changed since it was opened. All the usual menu suspects are here from chicken to shrimp and calamari, but there’s no menu. You just ask for what you want, and chances are you’ll get it.

2335 Arthur Avenue; Bronx, NY 10458; 718-733-2807

Artuso’s Pastry

A sweet finish is promised at Artuso’s, an authentic Italian pastry shop, now 65 years old. Artuso’s recipes come straight from Calabria, creating memorable sweets, cannolis, biscotti, and sorbetti. What keeps customers coming back again and again, however, are Artuso’s cakes, traditional yet original, and always amazing. You’ll also be giving back to the community by patronizing the bakery, as Artuso is committed to keeping the Belmont neighborhood alive and well. The founder and owner is so well-loved that there are a street and park named for him.

670 East 187th Street (at Vincent E. Artuso Sr. Way); Bronx, NY 10458; 718-367-2515

Friday, July 1, 2011

Fourth of July in Washington, DC: What to Do and Where to Stay

There's no bad time to visit Washington, DC, and it's definitely the place to be for Fourth of July inspiration. You're not too late, either. Book a seat on one of the cheapie buses that head there (all with free wireless) including Megabus, BoltBus, and DC2NY, ignore the traffic and have a fabulous holiday. Here are some ideas for all you procrastinators.


The Normandy Hotel: In the Embassy district and a nice distance away from the crowds along the National Mall or in the museums, The Normandy has a holiday package starting at only $149 per night with a two-night minimum. They keep you “chill(ed)” with handheld cooling fan and Evian misters. You also get two all-day Metro passes and a DC travel guide and a box lunch for two. Love this one!

2118 Wyoming Avenue NW; Washington DC, 20008; 202-483-1350;

W Washington D.C .: Washington’s first W hotel exemplifies classic Washingtonian elegance with a splash of swank, in a landmark 1917 Beaux Arts building steps from The White House. The Boom with a View package gives you accommodations for the Fourth of July and tickets for two to the hotel’s P.O.V. rooftop party, with an open bar, bites by Culinary Concepts by Jean-Georges, and live performances by New York based DJ Sky Nellor as well as the Honey Brothers featuring Adrian Grenier, for $899. You can also buy individual tickets for the evening for $225 by calling 202-661-2478.

515 15th Street NW, Washington, DC 20004; 202-661-2400


J&G Steakhouse: Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Executive Chef Philippe Reininger invite you to enjoy a three-course patriotic picnic on the patio, for $35 per person. Appetizers are light and cool with cherry tomato gazpacho, watermelon and goat cheese salad, and shrimp cocktail. Entrees are picnic-perfect: J&G cheeseburger, J&G hot dogs, BBQ chicken, or a lobster roll. Traditional picnic sides include cole slaw, potato salad, and corn on the cob. For dessert the restaurant is serving ice cream sandwiches and chocolate pudding.

515 15th Street NW, Washington, DC 20004; 202-551-2440;

B. Smiths: It’s a Southern-style celebration at B. Smith’s Restaurant at historic Union Station. The all-you-can-eat BBQ on the patio from 11:3am-6pm is priced at $25 for adults and $17 for kids 12 and under. Try the BBQ burgers and chicken, hot dogs, and buttered corn along with some special Southern favorites. We recommend going before the fireworks since the restaurant is located a quick walk from the National Mall.

50 Massachusetts Avenue NE, Washington, DC 20002; 202-289-6188;

Adour: Stop at Adour at the St. Regis to pick up some of their famous macaroons. Pastry Chef Fabrice Bendano will be offering his mouthwatering treats in patriotic colors packaged in specially designed boxes by the dozen for $20. You can also try their holiday Bubbles and Pearls cocktail, featuring red-white-and-blue Cointreau pearls in champagne, in the St. Regis Bar.

923 16th and K Streets NW, Washington, DC 20006; 202-638-2626


A Capitol Fourth: Jimmy Smits hosts the annual Capitol Fourth concert live from the West Lawn of the Capitol from 8pm-9:30pm.The free concert is open to the public and no tickets are necessary. This year’s performers are Steve Martin, Josh Groban, Jordin Sparks, Million Dollar Quartet, Glee’s Mathew Morrison, and more. Following the show is the magnificent fireworks display over the Washington Monument. Gates open at 3pm.

National Independence Day Parade: Celebrate all things America during the National Independence Day Parade. The parade starts at 11:45 am at Constitution Avenue and 7th Street and continues down to 17th Street. Enjoy bands and drummers, military units, floats, and performances.

National Freedom Fest: Head to the brand new Yards Park along the DC riverfront on July 3 and 4 and celebrate with 40+ bands and DJs on 5 stages, crafts, food and drinks, and a countdown to the fireworks display on the Mall. Foodies will love the Clash of the Cupcakes on the 4th, where Battersweet, Cupcakes Actually, and Sweet Tooth will compete for the title of All American cupcake. The Taste of Freedom tent will be open on both days to enjoy American wines and craft beers with food pairings. Tickets are $24.99 per day or a 2-day ticket can be purchased for $39.99 .

3rd and 4th Street SE and Water Street


An American Celebration at Mount Vernon: Visit the home of George Washington and enjoy the annual Independence Day event including military reenactments; a special wreath laying ceremony at Washington’s Tomb; the “Red, White, and Blue” concert; a naturalization ceremony for 100 new citizens; and more. “Daytime” fireworks will light up the sky over the Potomac River all day from 8am-5pm, the duration of the event. Tickets are $15 for adults, $7 for children 6-11; kids 5 and under are free.

3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway, Mount Vernon, VA 22309; 703-780-2000;

National Archives Celebration: Spend your morning at the National Archives Building on the Constitution Avenue steps between 7th and 9th Streets and listen to the reading of the Declaration of Independence by Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Ned Hector from 10am-11am. After the reading, enjoy other historical activities such as signing a full-size facsimile of the Declaration of Independence and listening to patriotic stories from the past.