Archive for April, 2008

Feathers in Bryant Park

Feathers flew ferociously in Bryant Park a couple of weeks back. Now I see them on Law & Order SVU’s trailer featuring Robin Williams.

Another curiosity about this page is that only a few months ago, I saw B.D. Wong being held up by JFK security line delays as he fought to board his JetBlue flight to San Francisco. At that time I was wondering how B.D. was doing financially since all I could recall was that I knew his face from 80s movies. And now he’s on SVU. Lord bless Law & Order and all the food it puts on so many hundreds of actors’ tables.

Eating in the Cloister

I tried out the Cloister Cafe for lunch today. Located in the East Village, this spot is kind of adorable. It has a lovely garden area with an outdoor bar (lined with a selection of hookahs). The garden feels very Mediterranean with a fountain, stone figures, and a pastoral landscape mural. I found the prices surprisingly reasonable, though the menu is not extensive. I ordered a mozzarella tomato sandwich, which was decent (though not anything particularly special). While the service and food were fairly mediocre, I’d definitely go back for the enjoyable atmosphere of that little garden. It would be a fun place for a summer brunch or an outdoor happy hour.

Sean Bell Verdict (Breaking News)

All detectives were judged “Not Guilty” in the death of the Sean Bell case. This was decided in Kew Gardens Queens just moments ago. More to come as it is available.

Some additional details are that in the case the detectives had fired a bullet that went inside of a living room. They had also shot in a public area endangering the lives of those nearby.

Again, all officers acquitted of all charges against them – this is news as of 9:15 am, April 25th.

9:20 am
From someone who was in the newsroom, the judge’s verdict said that “the state did not prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.” According to a reporter the parents of Sean Bell just stared upon hearing the decision and the mother shook her head and started crying.

This case is undoubtedly a very serious one and we can be sure that Sean Bell’s supporters will continue to try and take further legal action.

Disappointment at Dojo

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I just heard a sad story about one of my former favorite spots – Dojo. When I first moved to the city, I loved Dojo since it’s super cheap and has plenty of veggie options for me. Now that I’m working in the West Village, I mentioned to a coworker that I might have lunch there sometime soon. He responded by relating a disturbing incident his friend had experienced while dining there. She had ordered a salad (something I had frequently ordered to get the tasty carrot ginger dressing). When it arrived, she saw a live cockroach crawling in it! When she pointed this out to the server, the server’s response was, “Oh, yeah. They like the salad.”

Now I realize cockroaches probably inhabit many NYC restaurant kitchens. But to have one actually in your dish and a server who doesn’t seem particularly concerned about the situation, that’s disturbing. I don’t think I’ll be going there again!

Metrocard updated

I was POd recently when my Metrocard deducted the cost of a new fare when I transferred from the N22 bus to the F train. The N22 is a semi-express bus that goes from Long Island to 179th street station.

But apparently, according to the letter that the MTA sent to me, no new money had been deducted from my account since my balance remained the same. Now, I don’t recall all the details but I was pretty sure that I was ripped off. But now all I have is this MTA letter with a “sincere apology” for inconveniencing me.

But what I read in the letter was something that was absurd. To transfer from 1 bus to another is free, but to transfer onto an express bus is $3.

That’s understandable if you’re going from Queens to Manhattan, but what about the short trips taken from a local bus to an Express bus to travel only a few blocks? Unfair.

Wolf-Dogs of New York

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I sighted one of these today for the second time this past week – a wolf-dog hybrid. This one was enjoying the weather with its owner in Washington Square Park. The other was taking a walk in Central Park. Now they might be very well-trained, but both times I walked past these canine creatures, I felt a little nervous. Seems a little risky keeping something one step away from the wild as a pet.

Cuisine of Africa: Merkato 55

I always said that you could get cuisine from every part of the world, until my trip to Africa in the 80s. It was then that I realized that there was one continent underrepresented in the world of NYC cuisine– Africa.
There were a few Ethiopian eateries and, if you knew where to go, you could scout out a few places serving up dishes familiar to Senegalese immigrants [a friend once brought me to the back of a Theater Dstrict deli, where a woman in African garb stirred up a delicious stew in a huge pot, surrounded by tables occupied by Senegalese street vendors on their lunch breaks].

Now, the hot place to get into, is Merkato 55, at 55-61 Gansevoort St. in the Meatpacking District, and is a far cry from the back of that deli . Tne NY Times reports that Merkato 55 is “a bold adventure, ranging across the entire African continent”
It is the creation of Marcus Samuelsson, of Aquavit fame. But Samuelsson, who grew up in Sweden with his adoptive parents, was born in Ethiopia. Merkato 55 is not an Ethiopian restaurant, though. The renowned chef manages successfully the daunting task of bringing together dishes from all parts of the continent, drinks named for African dances, and decor featuring batik wall hangings and blow-up photography of African markets [the restaurant’s namesake is an open-air market in Ethioia]

All this, and a Meatpacking District locale, make Merkato 55 a coveted NYC reservation.

Libraries in the city are awesome

I use the Queens Library myself but have equally awesome things about Brooklyn & Manhattan’s libraries. The best part is printing anything out. I’ve given up on trying to find the right printer; they leak cash as quickly as they run out of ink. You just keep buying cartridges and it’s a never-ending process of being a slave to your printer.

But the library allows you to print up to 20 pages for free, at least that’s what the deal is in Queens. I’m not sure about the other boroughs. And, they have a DVD collection full of indie and foreign films that your local video store wouldn’t. And it’s all free, free, free!

Also, the benefit of printing at the library is that you don’t have a person who hates being there (FedEx Kinko’s) pretending to help you through your issues. Librarians are sweet as can be except they tend to have shorter tempers for teenagers.

Public displays of affection

You don’t have to look at my earlier post of spring blossoms to realize that the season of mating is here. All you need to do is have a New Yorker’s eyes (we notice everything yet pretend we don’t see anything.)

Last week at Bryant Park at around 5 pm – in the broad pre-evening daylight – I saw a couple making out. But not only were they making out – they were damn near engaging in activities far too nude for a public space. I noticed and continued walking. What else could I do? Tell them to stop and get a room? Hell no I wasn’t going to interrupt.

As I decided to walk by the carousel and do a circle (really a square) lap, I noticed even more couples, like lovebirds whispering, giggling, situated on top of one other on chairs. Or nuzzled up close engaging in some sort of affectionate activities.

Now it’s fine to give your lover a kiss or hold hands. We expect that and it’s nice. But to fornicate in daylight is NOT. Get a room or do what any respectable couple does: go to an independent film on a Tuesday night’s screening. But I didn’t tell you this if you get escorted out.

I almost took a photo for this post but looking back, I’m really glad I didn’t.

Sex, Swords, and Laura Linney

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When I heard that Laura Linney was starring in Les Liasons Dangereuses and the reviews were good, I decided to check it out. I’ve been enjoying Linney’s performance as Abigail Adams so much that I jumped at the chance see her live, particularly in a play I’ve always enjoyed.

The set consisted of curtains and a few posh pieces of furniture that changed position to indicate the different locations. But the coolest part of the set was the glass backdrop of many panes, which added an interesting and eerie mirror effect to many of the scenes. Often one character from a previous scene would remain behind the glass during the next, as a ghost-like echo.

The play, set in aristocratic France’s height (the 1780’s), reflects the cruel manipulations and seductions of two grossly wealthy individuals. A stark contrast to her kind and calm Mrs. Adams, Linney plays a powerfully calculating and complex La Marquise de Merteuil. Her co-star Ben Daniels portrays a very playful Le Vicomte de Valmont, far less creepy than John Malkovich’s portrayal in the 1988 movie. Interestingly, another cast member of John Adams, Mamie Gummer, played the role of Cecile.

During the set changes, performed in character, sounds of laughter and suggestive breathing combined to create a provocative and slightly spooky atmosphere. The set, the acting, and these effects all added up to a sexy and intense production.

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