Archive for June, 2005

Sun Is HIGH In New York City!

There seem to be four big Summer Solstice celebrations happening in the city annually (please comment if you know of others!). For those of you that aren’t familiar with it, “solstice” means basically “the highest point”. It’s usually used referring to the day of the year when the sun reaches its highest point in the sky, which is also of course the longest day, (Summer Solstice), and the day of the year when the sun reaches its lowest point (or more clearly said, the highest point that it will reach that day is the lowest point compared with how high it gets other days) and there is the longest time of darkness, (Winter Solstice). Solstices are celebrated throughout the world in many cultures, however in the U.S. they’re not generally celebrated. But, the big melting pot New York is certainly different!
The four big celebrations we found are:

  1. Traditional Swedish Midsummer Celebration in Battery Park. This is the one we decided to go to. It was great. Most of the people there were Swedish or Scandenavian, as evidenced not only by the overheard languages, but the abundunce of tall, beautiful, blond girls. Many wore garlands of flowers in their hair. There were food stands from Swedish restaurants around the city selling things like elderberry sodas, the old favourite of Swedish meatballs, Swedish pancakes, and salmon. They had a maypole up and there was a fully traditionaly clad Swedish folk music group and dancing group. It was really fun to watch the group dancing – the public got involved and people gathered in a thick circle around the maypole, doing led traditional dances, one of which involved acting like frogs and hopping around :) .
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  2. Paul Winter’s Annual Summer Solstice Celebration at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine. Looks like this one unfortunately was cancelled this year, but otherwise it looks like it would be great. Musicians from around the world perform “Earth music”. I imagine the acoustics in the cathedral would make it exceptionally good.
  3. Summer Solstice Celebration at Socrates Sculpture Park in Queens is a family-fun event, featuring not only a live performance by the Main Squeeze Orchestra, but also face painting and art making workshops. Food is available.
  4. Solstice in Times Square had their 1st annual celebration. The reasoning was, there’s kind of a winter solstice celebration there already… kind of… (New Year’s), so shouldn’t we have a Summer Solstice celebration, too? This new festival included some Dixieland, Classical, and Jazz musicians, “Mind over Madness” yoga at noon, and the Amature Astronomers Association of New York offering telescope views of the sun and information on solstices and equinoxes.

Last Night’s Critical Mass

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The monthly disorganized bike ride under the umbrella name Critical Mass took place again yesterday (last Friday of every month, 7pm @ Union Square) with almost no bullshit.

The cops did split the group up. I was at the end of the first group and they were tailing us until one block on the UES where they started clipping bikers. They would ride up alongside a cyclist and force them to fall or push them onto the sidewalk with their scooters. They were also grabbing people and chasing them. It was no fun, it was actually really scary.

Apparently the cops have been just grabbing 5 or 6 people every month, sort of as token souvenirs or something. This is pretty depressing. I took part in one Critical Mass pre-RNC and it was so much fun. The cops were actually helping us, directing traffic, preventing cars from being crazy and trying to ride among bikes. Then, the RNC hit (as well as the biggest CM’s ever) and all hell broke loose. A friend of mine got arrested and detained (illegally, in an old bus depot). He’s still part of a lawsuit against the city, while the city’s just dragging its feet.

Anyways, Critical Mass is mostly fun, sometimes stressful, but always a good way to express your support of alternative transportation. It’s thrilling to be riding on the street and watching pedestrians just stare at this mass of bikes in awe. Many cheer us on, most are just like “What is this?” (there’s also some bike people that hand out explanatory flyers to onlookers) and most cars bear their delay grudgingly while a select few also cheer us on. It’s a good feeling.

PS: That picture is from a 2003 Critical Mass, not last night’s.

Renegade Craft Fair in Williamsburg

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I went to the pre-party this eve for the Renegade Craft Fair and was totally impressed by how well-produced the event was. I’ve been hearing about this event for years now and with over 150 vendors, co-sponsorship by Bust magazine, and conveniently located in “lovely” McCarren Park, it makes for a perfect Brooklyn weekend along with the famed Mermaid Parade or just as a post-brunch stroll.

p.s. frozen margaritas to go at the Turkey Nest on N. 11th and Bedford are summer saviors.

Sometimes I Heart The Upper East Side and Sometimes I’m Just Plain Gay For It

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There have been some whispers about the UES. Apparently, one time LESers are getting all up in my UES Kool Aid without prior knowledge of its flavah.

So here’s some red powdered sugar for that ass…

As De Tocqueville or Art Lowe once remarked, it is easier for the world to believe a simple lie than the complex truth. So, for that reason and the impatient, naked Asian concubine floundering about my bed, allow me to say that the Upper East Side is GREAT!!! I’m often asked, what time is it? To which I reply, fuck the time suckah, lemme tell you bout a lil

FAO Schwarz – A classic toy adventure

Have you heard of FAO Schwarz? I only recently found out about it from my wife, and we decided to check it out last Saturday. Wow, very cool. For those of you that haven’t heard of it, it’s supposed to be famous NYC store. Now they’re especially famous for their very large stuffed animals. Women would love their stuffed animals – huge, life-sized stuffed giraff, big elephants, empire penguins, white tigers, you name it. Some are soft like you’d expect, others are stiff so that they’ll stand up and kids can climb on them (maybe even an adult on some of those big ones…). They also have a big walk-on keyboard (it was in the ’80’s movie Big, with Tom Hanks) that you can play on, a full icecream bar and candy shop, and of course, lots of toys.
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When we were there on Saturday, they had some of their employees dancing and playing on the piano for a little show every 15 minutes. The icecream bar looks very cool and traditional – the counter is glass-covered marbles, providing endless colourful views as you lick your icecream cone.

As far as FAO Schwarz vs. Toys R Us, I wouldn’t say it’s better, just different. FAO Schwarz has very classic toys, is more upscale, and also has a lot of collector’s items. They do have Star Wars stuff, after all it’s classic, including the cool AT-AT we both stopped to admire. They have some arcade games, and game tables like airhockey. They have some electronic games, too, but not a whole lot. If you’re looking for classic things like Lincoln Logs (my wife was so happy to see those) or an Etch-a-Sketch, puzzles or collectable dolls, this is the place to get them. Also check out their amazing caleidoscope collection. But for more modern type things, I’d recommend Toys R Us.

Check it out! It’s on 5th & 58th.

Restaurant Week: Mesa Grill

My boyfriend had made reservations at Mesa Grill for Restaurant Week lunch. Mesa Grill is head-chefed by the reigning (?) American Iron Chef who puts a “new twist” on American southwestern food. We excitedly strolled up to the place and were seated pretty much immediately after the hostesses acted like they were really stressed out even though at 12:30 there were only about 15 people in the restaurant. It filled up throughout the next hour.

We got our menus and stupidly didn’t even open the regular lunch menus but just stuck to the Restaurant Week prix fix. Oh, and I’m fine with just water, thanks, I don’t want any other “beverages.” With a mostly American winelist (nothing from the old country, thanks Bobby Flay). One of the reds boasted a variety of crazy notes with a “and root beer” that really puzzled us. I had heard that some restaurants were skimping on their restaurant week plates, making the serving sizes smaller, and/or leaving out some fancy ingredients, and I didn’t think it would be noticeable but, judging from the plate sizes of the diners next to us (who weren’t having the restaurant week menu) we were really getting small sizes.

Nevertheless, for appetizer I had some shrimp and roasted asparagus taquitos (yes, tiny soft tacos) that were absolutely delicious. I could have eaten 10 of them (I got only two.) And then for entree I had a bbq chicken cobb salad that was just so so. There was supposed to be some cayenne-buttermilk dressing which sounded really good and I probably would have enjoyed it had there been more than two teaspoonfuls on my plate. Sam had some kind of cilantro soup that was very tasty and some kind of chili-encrusted roasted scallops with a little tortilla strip salad. His meal was good.

Dessert was alright, I’m more of a traditionalist, meaning I would die for outstanding creme brulee, and this was a little more experimental in terms of combining flavors. We spent $2.75 each on cups of really strong coffee, I stole a role of toilet paper from their bathroom (which wasn’t that nice) and we went back to our respective workplaces having spent $28.00 each on lunch.

But the regular-menu big-ass Bobby Flay burger is $11 for lunch. I’d get that if I went again. It looked really good.

Next: hopefully Nobu.

***Note: a lot of the restaurants on the restaurant week website have a star next to them which means they’re keeping up their special until Labor Day. What a sweet deal!

Unofficial is the New Official: Metblog Advertising Piece #6

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Hell Hath No Fury Like a Toasted Turkey Sandwich

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I used to order Subway sandwiches to my apartment probably four times a week. I offer no reasoning, excuses or justifications. It is what it is. Or, at least, was. My Subway spree ended last night as it became evident to both myself and the Pakistani proprietors of the 3rd Ave. Subway that maybe, just maybe, I had had enough. I thought it was bad enough that I have a

Happy Summer

I’m always on the lookout for the free things to do around the city… I spend enough on other things.

In my quest to keep a little money in my pocket, I found the New York Summer Freebie Calendar on newyorkmetro.com. The calendar started on Memorial Day weekend, but they show events going on though August.

The list includes the outdoor movies at Bryant Park, Hudson River Park and Hoboken, readings, concerts, dance shows

A Friendly Little FYI

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Dear Helicopters,

Crashing is never a good idea. Especially in the East River. Besides being dangerous and all, that river is kinda nasty. We thought perhaps you learned that the first time, but evidently not. Just thought we would let you know.

Sincerely,
NYC MetBlogs

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