Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category


Broadway Babies

I am clearly no professional critic, but I have no problem stating my opinions! For you, my loyal readers, I’ll even give you my reviews for free! You can listen to me or not, but I am an honest judge and know not every show or movie is for everyone.

If you like theater the way I do, then you’re pretty much open to everything and anything. Sometimes this works to my advantage because I see some fantastic performances, and sometimes it backfires and I say to myself that I’m going to have to be more discriminating in what I decide to spend my time and money on.

Recently though I feel I was four for four and being that I try to keep this a positive blog, let’s talk before I see something that makes me want to protest theater like the stagehands.

First let’s take Cyrano de Bergerac staring Kevin Kline and Jennifer Garner. I’m sure you remember Roxanne, the Steve Martin movie, well this is the story that movie is based upon. Kevin Kline plays Cyrano, a man with an uncommonly large nose, who believes because of his unique features, he is destined to live a life without love. He lends his mind, wit and extraordinary poetic ability to another man who acts as a puppet repeating Cyrano’s words to the beautiful Roxane. It’s the words that are most important to Roxane, but when she finds out that Cyrano is the real voice behind the words of love, it is too late.

It’s a comedy and drama in one and as usual Kevin Kline is stellar, here playing Cyrano. I also was pleasantly surprised by Jennifer Garner’s stage acting ability. She did not overdo it, nor was she understated and I have a feeling this won’t be the last time we see her, Ben and Violet here on the Great White Way.

Second, is Pygmalion, closing this month, George Bernard Shaw’s classic about an upper-class phonetics teacher taking a common flower girl under his wing to make her a woman of society. Although sometimes difficult to understand, Claire Danes was fantastic and you could see her struggle when she realizes she “sold” her real self in order to become part of high society. Is she forever in debt to the professor? Does she stay? This version of Pygmalion leaves the answer open-ended and although I feel she probably leaves him, it’s up to you to decide.

Third, Aaron Sorkin’s the Farnsworth Invention. Who knew there was this much drama not ON television, but ABOUT television. Really, who invented TV? According to Philo Farnsworth, he did in 1920 when he showed his science teacher his idea, but how can you develop something so intricate without money and a solid company to back you up? That’s when a Russian immigrant who worked his way out of the Shtetl to the head of RCA comes in and says his men developed the modern day technology. Business, especially during the Great Depression, was and is about money and greed, the kill or be killed theory and there is nothing too dirty or spiteful about playing hardball.

Finally, in the Christmas spirit, I have to encourage you all to go see the Radio City Spectacular. I have seen it every year for the past five years and this being the 75th Anniversary, was sincerely SPECTACULAR. There have been many changes to the show, including more of the famous Rockette dancers, more dance scenes, fireworks, 3-D displays and a major ode to New York. Being in Radio City Music Hall and watching the world famous, long limbed dancers, seeing Santa and watching hundreds of excited small children really takes the humbug out of even the biggest Scrooge.


Rock The Boat In Midtown

Bar 44 and Brasserie 44, the trendy, new bar and restaurant just opened last week in the newly redesigned Royalton Hotel on 44th street between 5th and 6th Avenues.

Walking into the hotel you automatically get the feeling of a swanky boutique hotel in Miami. This shouldn’t cause any major shock value considering it is part of the same family as the Hudson, the Delano, the Mondrian and the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Vegas.

What is unlike these other Mecca’s is that the Royalton is not quite the “hot spot” yet, but this is all a matter of timing. Give it through the holidays, because where else can the Viacom family, the Conde Nast group or most of the major law firms in the city go for large corporate events in that area?

Nowhere, so this almost “club like” new bar and restaurant will book up fast and furiously.

Bar 44, furnished by the same designer that did Lure Fishbar and Lever House, has that same sleek vibe, but there are a few different sections that are kept “private.” Private is a relative term considering the fact there are no doors to close and it’s very easy to sneak in to a section with an open bar for a signature drink on the house.

Bar 44 is a great place to go on a date for a drink in midtown, but if it’s a night where there are a few parties, it definitely can get loud. This was fine for me on the night I went, because MTV’s private party drowned out the screeches the 1 ½ old year girl I was with made when her Elmo hit the floor! I do recommend grabbing a seat by the fire if you can, because it’s clearly the “hot spot” in the place!

As for the restaurant, the food was very good. Have you been to Oceana or Daniel? Well that is where the chef was trained and he brought all of his skills with him to midtown. I do think for the portion size, the prices were a bit on the high end, but remember, this is also a place for corporate expense accounts and business lunches.

The restaurant portion of the lobby has a bit of a boat like feel to it. Like Lure Fishbar, there are large leather banquettes to relax in; rope arches over many of them, and teak wood throughout the restaurant. The staff is young and accommodating and helped the MTV party get drinks, helped the diners pick the best bets from the menu, and even read our little guest part of a story book.


Where To Eat?

Most of the restaurants east of Irving Place, below 14th Street and above Houston have been played out already.

Sure Frank is great, but we’ve been, and is it really worth waiting hours to be cramped into a cubby room? Hearth is a bit pricey for what it offers, Cacio e Pepe is “fine,” and the Mermaid Inn is delicious, but let’s venture out to the Upper West Side now and check out the new outlet.

Sure the NYU area is not ideal to dine in due to the amount of young students, frat-like bars and more “fast food” type restaurants, but now that Uno Chicago Pizzeria on 3d Avenue has closed its doors and THE SMITH has opened, there is a better option when you find yourself in the East Village.

The Smith is an American Brasserie that is casual but sleek. It is decorated in a vintage- like way with subway tile floors and a cool East Village neighborhood feel. Go for a drink to the long, spacious bar that serves no wine over $9 dollars and pick from a decent list of beers and creative mixed drinks. The menu serves everything from salads to full entrees, but it seems their signature dishes are “almost burnt” mac ‘n’ cheese and chips with cheese. I suggest you leave room for one of the large array of ice cream desserts available as well!

Granted, the place just opened, so be patient with the service and order an appetizer because the entrees definitely took a while to come out.

The Smith is just a standard American neighborhood joint with a great vibe, yet, a relaxed atmosphere. Don’t go expecting the food and service of Gramercy Tavern, but you won’t be disappointed. It’s enjoyable, straightforward and laid-back.

Also, be careful not to confuse The Smith with Smith’s that just opened on MacDougal. It seems 411 is a bit confused so don’t let them steer you toward the more expensive, more formal venue with almost the same name!


What Made van Gogh Crazy?

“Painted with Words, Vincent van Gogh’s Letters to Emile Bernard” is a small exhibit at The Morgan Library and Museum, but large enough to give creative insight into the life of the artist most famously known for cutting off his left ear during in an act of “craziness,” and the painting Starry Night.

The letters are written between 1887 and 1889 and reveal van Gogh’s thoughts on life, art and religion during that time and how he mentored Bernard during his early stages.  Interestingly, what was left out of these letters was the clear cut emotional turmoil van Gogh was feeling during these years.

What made VvG so insane? Obviously he was mentally ill and regardless whether this was caused because of neurological issues such as epilepsy or because he swallowed too much paint, I’d LOVE to know his deepest, darkest secrets during these two pivotal years. Remember, he was in an asylum during this time and ultimately shot himself, so clearly he didn’t work through his problems so successfully.

What made Vincent van Gogh such a lunatic? No money? Try working out of a studio in Tribeca that’s 350 Square Feet.  Too much air pollution from paint? Try inhaling bus fumes and asbestos from pipe explosions. Too much pressure to be famous? Try making it for one minute on Broadway, in Hollywood or in the artistic realm today.

Don’t get me wrong, the man more or less invented Impressionist art, but I want answers. The letters were beautifully written and the sketches that paralleled them were divine, but I need more depiction as to what was going on in the inside of his head. What caused the screws to come loose?

These 20 letters don’t tell us about the mental man, but show a different side of him. The letters depict a more emotional painter who was a caregiver and a mentor to his students, and avoids talking about his bipolar, sick individual persona.

Let the man be who he wanted to be at whatever point in time he’s painting. This is how Vincent van Gogh became such an individual in his works. 

I’m telling you after reading these letters and getting a better understanding of VvG’s life, you’re going to need a minute to sit and debrief. At what point in his life was he healthy and during that time what type of art was he focusing on? It gets confusing to keep it all straight.

Just enjoy Vincent van Gogh for being the most creative artist of his time and enjoy it over the extraordinary lobster salad at the Morgan Dining Room. Just make a reservation ahead of time.