Sep
23

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SoHo, Beyond The Shopping

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When we think of spending the day in SoHo, the first (and perhaps only) activity that pops into our heads is SHOPPING!  And while, yes, it’s totally the truth that SoHo is filled to the brim with any and every store you could possibly imagine–all the way from the tippy top designers to tiny boutiques with budding no-names–there’s more to SoHo than clothes.

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Today, we’ve partnered with our friends at TripGo to take you around to all our favorite non-fashion forward stops in SoHo.  TripGo is a handy dandy app that connects your calendar with real-time transport suggestions, providing all your door-to-door options for easy breezy comparison.  Basically, a New Yorkers best friend.  Before heading out for the day, I plugged in my locations (below), plus my travel preferences (subway + walking), and was provided an optimized schedule for my day in SoHo.  First stop…breakfast!

1. Chobani

While a yogurt bar may sound about as exciting as a bag of rocks, let me promise you, this place is deliciously worthy of a visit every single time I’m in the neighborhood.  They have Sweet (toasted coconut + pineapple), Savory (cucumber + olive oil), and Seasonal creations that are hands-down out of this world!  Since it’s the start of fall, I opted for the seasonal special of the day, pumpkin + cranberry.

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2. The Earth Room

What would you do if given a 3,600 square foot loft space in the prime real estate area of SoHo?  I bet 9.5 out of 10 of you sure wouldn’t say “fill it with dirt”…which is exactly what you’ll find at 141 Wooster Street.  This free exhibit has been open to the public since 1980…although there are no huge signs or fanfare letting you know the gallery exists.  A bit of a hidden gem (or if not gem, at least hidden!;-)  You go to the address, press 2B, and wait to be buzzed in.  Upon entering the building you’ll smell the room right away (I mean…280,000 pounds of dirt!)  Unfortunately, no photos are permitted, so you’ll just have to go and experience this one for yourself!

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3. Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art

A quick walk down the street will land you at another under-the-radar museum, featuring LGBTQ art and the artists who create it.  Also a free museum, you can walk right in and enjoy the art, or check out their calendar for a host of events…film screenings, opening receptions, talk back with artists…lots of greatness going on here.

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4. The Mondrian SoHo

When you’ve reached a point in your day when you’re ready to kick those feet up, there’s no better place to go than the Mondrain Hotel in SoHo.  From its entrance, you’ll get a glimpse of just how cool this place is.  You can sit anywhere on the first floor, grabbing a cup of joe or glass of bubbly if you’re feeling festive.  My favorite place to go is on the second floor.  Across from the reception desk is a darling outdoor terrace with comfy lounge seating.  Perfect place to catch up on emails or call your mom;-)

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5. Housing Works Bookstore

It’s no secret I love bookstores (especially this one, which is where we had our wedding reception!)  Housing Works sells used books, and the proceeds then go to help the local homeless with HIV/AIDS.  Besides being an awesome charity, the two-level store has a vintage feel, tons of seating, and a cafe in the back.  Oh, and TONS of special events here, guys!  We’re talking author readings, story time and sing-a-longs for kids, free films…you name it!

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6. Pearl River Mart

Besides being a place to get inexpensive, adorable gifts, let me tell you the real reason to visit Pearl River Mart.  Okay, you know that store Anthropologie (please tell me I’m not the only one obsessed with everything there?!  Well, everything BUT their price tags…crazy town!)  So here’s the insider’s scoop: a lot of the very same home goods that Anthro sells can be purchased right at Pearl River Mart for a FRACTION of the cost.  Seriously, this chihuahua nut bowl was $10 at Anthro, and $5.95 at PRM.

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7. The Angelika Film Center

No secret to movie buffs, as this fabulous theater is where to go to see the artsier, more independent films that aren’t at your local AMC.

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8. La Esquina

When asked about the best Mexican food in NYC, this place is always first out of my mouth.  While the fancy rezzie-only restaurant is downstairs (call ahead, wayyyy ahead, people!), you can grab some of the basic goods at the faster-food joint upstairs.  Like these avocado veggie tacos.  Oh.Emm.GEE!!!

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9. Street Art

And of course, I would be amiss if I didn’t draw your attention to the huge amounts of random street art you’ll be encountering along your SoHo adventure.  Here’s a few snaps of some that caught my eye.

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So glad I got to share my favorite non-clothing store SoHo shops with you guys!  And make sure to check out the TripGo app that made this adventure super easy, from point A to Z and everywhere in-between!

I’d love to know…what are your favorite places in SoHo?  Share below!

 

By: Jessica Tiare Bowen

 

This post is part of Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox.

Sep
22

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10 Comments

Intermission: Bedbugs!!!

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As we waited for the house lights to go down and Bedbugs!!! to begin, my seat mate turned to me and whispered, “Hey, do you want to really start freaking people out?”  No need to go on, new friend, as I knew exactly what he meant, because it was already going through my head.  We both started our own little theater debut by dramatically itching, and while we did get a few chuckles from the folks around us, it was nothing compared to the laughs that were to follow during the next 2 hours of the show.  Seriously, a new cult comedy just hit NYC, and I, for one, put it well above even the tried and true and much adored Rocky Horror.  Here’s why.

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Ever so rarely do you see a show, especially an off-broadway one, where every single aspect of the production is spot on perfection.  From the set design (hello NYC pre-Giuliani!), to the choreography (those dance moves!), to the costumes (completely creepily brilliant!), to each and every performance from the lead down to the backup dancers, these guys were ALL solid A-game the entire time.  Let’s just say they set the bar for off-broadway comedies high, and other shows are going to have a tough time getting it this right.

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Bedbugs is a girl-meets-bug sci-fi-rock-musical-comedy, in which Carly, an exterminator, is hell-bent on avenging her mother’s bedbug-related death. In an effort to permanently rid the city of its infestation, she accidentally mutates the pests into an army of human-size, intelligent, carnal creatures out for blood and world domination.

BUT, the fun doesn’t stop there.  Throw in the pop star Dionne (sound familiar to another Canadian star we all know and love?), and you have perhaps one of the best parodies I’ve ever seen in live theater.  Actor Brian Charles Rooney absolutely kills it with his performance.  Carly has a burning hatred for Dionne, because she was up listening to her concert the night her mother was taken by bedbugs…so naturally anytime she hears her crooning voice on the radio she goes mad.

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A cautionary tale of toxic love mixed with 80’s nostalgia and classic NYC characters (the Williamsburg hipster who hates being called a hipster, the penny-pinching orthodox Jewish man with 13 kids, the WASPy martini-drinking-at-9am wifey)…this is a must see for everyone, but New Yorkers especially, you’ll have a special place in your heart for this piece of musical theater…us crazy folks in the audience pretending to get all itchy-itchy during the performance certainly did.  Bravo, Bedbugs, bravo!!!  

Are you a fan of cult comedies?  Share your favorite below!

 

Photo Credit: Rex Bonomelli//Article By: Jessica Tiare Bowen

Sep
19

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8 Comments

New Yorker Moments

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{national day of service with my favorite in-laws}

If ever there was an activity filled, jam packed week of New Yorker Moments, this may be it!  In research for upcoming posts, I spent days in Coney Island, Soho, the East Village, the Upper West Side, and the Upper East!  Talk about using that Metrocard!

My favorite, though, was definitely volunteering with Dorot for their National Day of Service.  They assign you with seniors in NYC to visit and bring a meal to, and we were lucky enough to get the cutest senior couple to visit!  They shared with us their NYC love story (first date: rowing boats in Central Park 65 years ago!), and lots of great stories they’ve had since.  It’s a fabulous organization, and if you’re interested in enhancing the life of the elderly in our community, you should totes get involved:-)

Have a great weekend, and don’t forget to share your favorite moment of the week below!

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{a visit to the leica store to learn how to use my new camera…i mean, as much as i love my iPhone…}

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{a pretty fancy manhole cover, spotted in soho}

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{gotta love a cocky nyc quote}

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{the hour subway ride from midtown to coney island, so worth it}

xx,

Jess

Sep
18

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2 Comments

Intermission: This Is Our Youth

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The audacious title of this play – “This Is Our Youth” – subtly shouts at you. An apt oxymoron in which to describe the mood, action and ultimately the story of this telling play. Listen up… pay attention…. Hear me! How like the young and the restless….attention must be paid here and now … but with tender care.

A tall order in light of the fact that the young principals in “This Is Our Youth” are a drug dealer i.e. “Dennis” ( Kieran Culkin in a bold, fiery performance – he’s the confident shouter) and “Warren” (appealingly portrayed by twitchy Michael Cera – he’s the subtle confused one) both make a semi- living in an illegal manner. The story opens in 1982 with Warren’s theft of substantial monies from his father, jumpily and hesitantly arriving at Dennis’s apartment. An irritable Dennis, with rapid fire delivery – he’s like James Cagney with a machine guy – consistently berates the sad lostWarren. “Loser” is one of his kinder cuts.

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Wow! Where do we go from here? This is spoiled youth at its most comically but sadly mixed up , young adults on the cusp whose parents have failed them, who have experienced major tragedy, yet have been raised in affluent professional households in the middle of NYC’s elite neighborhoods while attending costly private schools. What went wrong here? Do they find themselves and ultimately walk the line by the close of the play? Perhaps there’s another way to go here? I am not even certain of the questions to ask, let alone the answers.

This comic drama (another oxymoron, this play has its share of ambiguity) is currently generating plenty of positive buzz, and is expected to be a major hit this season on Broadway, for several reasons. Michael Cera as one of the principal players is a hot young actor and making an auspicious Broadway debut, coupled with the fact that when this play debuted some 16 years ago, it featured Mark Ruffalo who was an unknown actor at that point. Its author, Kenneth Lonergan, is known for his work on the screenplay for the gritty Scorcese film “Gangs of New York” and as an award winning screenwriter for Sundance Festival’s Drama winner “You Can Count on Me,” a really interesting film starring Laura Linney. He is primed for a Broadway success. And another young actress, the diverse Tavi Gevinson has been interviewed all over the tube recently; she is poised and touted for stardom. And indeed she gives an amazingly confident, sympathetic, smart performance. Bravo to all the players, but extra kudos for brave Tavi, the youngest and least experienced in this acute triangle. She’s the most trustworthy character here, and tells it as it is … I paraphrase….”you won’t be a pot smoking burn out forever, in 10 years you’ll be someone else – a plastic surgeon – you’ll be completely different!” One can only hope.

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And so of course the audience members are sucked in by three such compelling individuals (and two characters whom we never meet yet push the plot forward) while trying to keep up with such a quick paced piece, artfully delivered by this talented triangle of a cast. Given the incisive, smart-ass dialogue carefully crafted by Lonergan it’s a no brainer to become absorbed in a rather slim plot while the characters’ stories and personalities unfold. His sharp dialogue is yet another well honed character in this crafty piece and adopts a life of its own. So keep in mind that although not a lot happens on stage, much is said and implied. Character is action; scrutinize their movements and decisions closely. Again, pay attention!

I gotta tell you. I consistently thought while intently watching this show that this certainly wasn’t MY YOUTH… thank goodness. I came of age in the ‘80s, the time frame of this play, the age of capitalism and Reganomics. The majority of 1980s youth were too absorbed in trying to pay the rent, we did not come from affluent homes, we were new to the professional work force, and strong with ambition. Our idea of success was purely financial, there was no other yardstick. We didn’t have the time, nor the financial freedom which allowed us to ask who we were – we were simply trying to get from one place to the other on our own brains and initiative. As clever and crafty as is this play, I personally found the characters rather distasteful – spoiled Upper West Side kids were individuals I neither emulated nor admired. Just couldn’t empathize although I did eventually reach a sympathetic understanding of Dennis and Warren.

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Are there larger issues at play in “This Is Our Youth?” Of course, but again, we did not have the luxury way back when of asking what’s wrong with our lives. Do I care about these characters? Do I want these flawed young people to succeed, and climb out of their self imposed, self absorbed exile? Before they move on, the fictional Warren and Dennis must realize that perhaps the fault lies not in their stars but in themselves.

My sentiments on this show may very well now be generational.

Share your thoughts should you catch a performance, I am anxious to hear what others have to say!

 

By: Joanne Theodorou

 

Sep
17

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6 Comments

UsedYorkCity Inspiration #2

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^^This delicious baguette + cheesy olive oil from Alexandra.^^

1. An insider’s tour of the Explorers Club, aka Manhattan’s best kept secret. (via Curbed)

2. This adorable NYC family is just my favorite, especially when they do cute things like explore Central Park together. (via LoveTaza)

3. A few great trends to look out for that premiered during this season’s New York Fashion Week. (via Cupcakes and Cashmere)

4. Fellow NYC blogger spies a wedding party catching a ride on the subway. (via New York Cliche)

5. Loving this Secret Menu hacking site…I’ll take a Thin Mint Frap from Starbucks, please! (via Hack The Menu)

What’s been inspiring you this week? Share below!

xo,

Jess