UYC’s Book Club: The Group


Alright guys, I want you to imagine the Sex and the City crew, circa the 1930’s.  Got the visual?  Now pick up a copy of The Group and start reading.  Here’s the brief synopsis from Goodread’s:

Mary McCarthy’s most celebrated novel portrays the lives of eight Vassar graduates, known simply to their classmates as “the group.” An eclectic mix of personalities and upbringings, they meet a week after graduation to watch Kay Strong, the first of the group, be married. After the ceremony, the women begin their adult lives–traveling to Europe, tackling the world of nursing and publishing, and finding love and heartbreak in the streets of New York City. Through the years, some of the friends grow apart and some become more entangled in each other’s affairs, but all vow not to become like their mothers and fathers. It is only when one of them passes away that they all come back together again to mourn the loss of a friend, a confidante, and most importantly, a member of the group.


Discussion time!  I posed three questions below that were discussed at book club (pictured above!), and my responses to each.  If you’ve read the book, please jump into the conversation in the comments below!

1. What character in The Group did you identify with most?

Hmm, can I be really difficult here and say I didn’t really identify with any?  In fact, I found that to be the most frustrating part of reading this book…I really wanted to have a Carrie or Charlotte that I could be like “yes! that’s the book version of me!” to, but just didn’t happen.  I’m not sure if this is because of the generational differences (although, I don’t think so: these women were all pretty evolved for their time), but more likely each character did something that rubbed me the wrong way, making it hard to identify with them.  Norine?  She was messy and was having an affair with her best friend’s husband.  Kay?  She stayed with the cheating, awful husband, who then committed her to a psychiatric ward (and I don’t believe for one second that she didn’t know!)  Helena?  She KNEW the affair was going on and didn’t say a word to anyone!  Ladies, seriously?!

2. What surprised you most about the book?

If I started reading it not knowing it was supposed to be set in the thirties, I truly would have thought that I was reading contemporary fiction written by a Park Slope mom!  There were frank discussions of pre-marital sex and birth control, strong opinions on breast feeding, approaches to mental illness that were quite shocking, affairs left and right, and women running the gamut of what they chose to do with their post-college lives: some holding careers, others being housewives, some traveling, some taking an active political role…the book painted a picture of women being much more evolved in the thirties than I suppose I imagined them to be.  I do wonder if this had anything to do with these women living in Manhattan and being upper-class, though?  Would this have been a much different story if it was about a group of girlfriends living in middle America and being working class during the depression?  I think so.

3. Do you think this book paints an accurate picture of female friendships?

It’s interesting to note that of the group of 8 friends, the only time they are all together post-college is at the beginning of the book for a wedding, and at the end of the book for a funeral (I won’t give any spoilers in case you haven’t read it!)  Other than that, very few kept in touch regularly through the stories of their lives, which is very different than the besties on Sex and the City, right?  But perhaps more realistic?  Living in NYC poses a special kind of challenge in getting together with people, and working around everyone’s crazy schedules.  There’s many people I’ll go 6 months without seeing, who really only live less than a mile away!  So again, do you think this is a New York phenomenon when it comes to maintaining friendships, or do people everywhere just naturally drift apart post-college, and really only come together for those big life events?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the book below, and make sure to join us next month for our discussion on The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P., which we’ll hold on the blog on Thursday, November 20th. Between now and then feel free to share your thoughts on Twitter with the hashtag #UYCBookclub!

By: Jessica Tiare Bowen




UsedYorkCity Inspiration #6



^^It looks like Radio City is getting ready for the holidays…and I don’t mean Halloween!^^

1. The big list of pumpkin patches, corn mazes, and hayrides…all taking place right here in NYC! (via Mommy Poppins)

2. A NYC view that costs $81 million dollars. (via The New York Times)

3. This NYC blogger takes you on a delicious trip to Dylan’s Candy Bar. (via NYC, Style and a Little Cannoli)

4. Sweet subway serenades captured on film. (via Tracy’s New York Life)

5. How to be the perfect girl/guy in NYC.  Would LOVE to hear your comments on this one below!;-) (via Garance Dore)

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






My First Cooking Class, Haven’s Kitchen Style



You may recall my Fall To-Do List, and my zest over signing up for a pizza making class (cause YUM!)  Truth be told, I was kinndddaaa on the fence of how enjoyable it would be…I mean, I love EATING pizza, but cooking?  Meh.

Guys.  My expectations were blown out of the water.  So, so, SO much fun.

A friend and I took the class together (tip #1: always cook with a friend!), and I was immediately in love with the cooking space at Haven’s Kitchen, we’re talking the kind of kitchen you see in those NYC movies and you’re all “what?! NO kitchen in this city really looks like that!”  Well, they must film all these movies in Haven’s Kitchen (or LA), cause it was a GORGEOUS space.

Also, LOVED that our instructor was sweet, chatty, and gave lots of practical tips for making the class work for you in your REAL NYC kitchen.  Let’s be honest…am I actually going to make homemade pizza dough every time?  Probably not, but my teacher said that’s perfectly ok!  And validated that it was even ok to use tomatoes out of a can!  So basically, as long as I wasn’t jumping onto Seamless to order Dominos, I was getting an A+.  YES!  (Gold stars do wonders for me, can you tell?;-)

She also threw a lot of life hacks in there too, like how to properly chop an onion (yep, I’ve been doing it wrong all these years!), and how to take the leaves off of kale (pull right down the stem, folks, it all falls off!)

Oh!  And you know what else makes cooking so much fun?  Wine!

Insider’s Tip: Even if cooking classes aren’t your jam, Haven’s Kitchen is also an adorable coffee bar filled with lots of baked goodies you may want to check out!  Oh, and tons of cute foodie delights that are cutely packaged and don’t cost a ton of money if you’re trying to knock some people off your holiday gift list!;-)

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Have you ever taken a cooking class?  Did it live up to your expectations?  Share below!


By: Jessica Tiare Bowen


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




12 Haunted NYC Pubs


Tis’ the month of Halloween and all things ghostly!  We’re delighted to welcome NYC’s resident ghost guru, Gordon Linzner, to the blog today, to share a round-up of haunted pubs perfect for kicking back with a pumpkin ale this month (or anytime!), in the company of past NYC souls.  Goosebumps, anyone?  Without any further adieu, the floor is yours, Gordon!



Ear Inn 326 Spring Street

Built as a private home in 1817, became a saloon in 1890. Haunted in particular by Mickey, a sailor who was killed by a car just outside the bar. He likes to pinch the bottoms of female patrons and staff, drain cell phone batteries, and sometimes play with fire.

Landmark Tavern 626 11th Avenue

Opened in 1868, it is haunted by several ghosts, most notably a Confederate veteran who was stabbed in a fight and crawled upstairs to die in a bathtub. The tub remains in the upstairs bathroom. An Irish immigrant girl who died of cholera wanders the third floor. This was a favorite location of the actor George Raft, who some patrons have also claimed to see.

The White Horse 567 Hudson Street

A favorite tavern of the poet Dylan Thomas, who allegedly drank himself to death there in 1952. Morning staff will often find his favorite table tilted at an angle, the way he liked when he was writing, despite having been neatly straightened the night before.

Waverly Inn 16 Bank Street

Several ghosts call this home, but one in particular seems to favor the former smoking room here, occasionally rearranging furniture and lighting the fireplace. In 1997 a fire damaged every room in the restaurant – except the smoking room!

One If By Land Two if by Sea 17 Barrow Street

Aaron Burr and his daughter Theodosia are among the spirits haunting this restaurant, on the site of a carriage house that once belonged to Burr, often spotted on the second floor. Since Theodosia’s earrings were taken by a pirate just before she walked the plank, her spirit seems to have an affinity for such jewelry, often tugging on female patrons’ ears.

KGB Bar 85 East 4th Street

Once home to a speakeasy run by Lucky Luciano, whose spirit has been seen on the lower floor. A headless ghost is thought to be that of a rapist who was decapitated by his victim in the 1920’s, and the mirror on the 2nd floor, near the bar’s entrance, has sometimes reflected a demonic face with red glowing eyes.

Lovecraft Bar 50 Avenue B

The murals were painstaking painted over months in the first half of 2014 by Benjamin Enzfelder who, working one night into the early morning hours, started a conversation with one of the owners, he presumed, who’d dropped by – only to find no one there when he turned around. After a couple more of these visits he decided to no longer do his art when there was no one else in the building.

Campbell Apartment 15 Vanderbilt Ave (Grand Central Terminal)

The staff have reported sudden gusts of cold air and sighting a couple in old-fashioned clothes sitting in the balcony when that area was closed. Recently a woman was seen entering the bathroom on the balcony level; after a line had built up, staff forced their way in, only to find the room empty.

Library Bar 425 Lafayette Street

Originally this building housed the Astor Library, and head librarian Joseph Green Cogswell encountered the spirit of businessman Austin Sands three nights, finally discouraging the tight-fisted Sands by insisting the ghost pay him overtime.

MacDougal Ale House 120 MacDougal Street

Strange noises and cold spots reported by the staff when they’re closing up.

Ghost Bar 132A Eldridge Street

Got its name from accounts of a ghostly appareitiion seen in front of the building when it was first built.

Bridge Café 279 Water Street

Built in 1794, in the mid-1800s it was a sailors’ dive called the bucket of blood, where the bouncer, a Amazonian Britisher named Gallus Mag, might well bite your ear off if you gave her a hard time. There are frequently stranger sounds and cold spots, but nothing conclusive. STILL CLOSED POST-SANDY.

Thank you so much for sharing your ghostly wisdom today with us, Gordon!  To sign up for a guided haunted pub tour, but sure to visit Ephemeral Tours Facebook Page!

We’d love to know…which one of these are you most excited to visit?  Share in the comment section below!


By: Gordon Linzner




UsedYorkCity Inspiration #5



^^First signs of fall, popping up in Queens!^^

1. What’s the it dessert for this season, you ask?  My vote goes to Union Square Cafe’s Creme Brûlée Scone. (via Eater)

2. A pop up tribute to Central Perk from the sitcom Friends is now running, but this blogger says it’s not worth the queue…even for the free coffee. (via Today’s The Day I)

3. Feeling a bit jammed? This real estate guru tells you how to make the most out of a very small NYC kitchen. (via Nikki In NYC)

4. I saw Gone Girl last weekend and loved it.  However, can definitely see how it may not make the best first date idea, like this NYC guy found out. (via Vulture)

5. Some of the worst decisions you can make in NYC.  Agree?  Agreed. (via Thrillist)

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