Intermission: Love Letters


Constructing a letter … such a meaningful but disappearing mode of communication ….you put “your best self on paper” as stated  by one of the  players in this telling play….especially when composing the love letter – a lost art. There’s a reason we keep our love letters forever – we can’t bear to throw them out.  So we hide them in a special place – they are unique, sacrosanct, personal – proof of our real, better selves of a time and place long ago and far away.

Ah, those were the days….those were MY days.

You spill out a myriad of thoughts on carefully selected writing paper and put great deliberation and drive into emotionally packed sentences highlighted with some mighty clever quips – not to mention the meticulous attention paid to your penmanship. You take great care in addressing the envelope, purchase a stamp, and search for a mail box…. Now how can the rapidity of electronic, digitized email zapped thru cyberspace in a nano second ever replace the intensity, work and time that goes into a hand written actual letter that will arrive days after it is mailed… and how telling is one’s personal handwriting?  An actual OBJECT verifying one’s ideas and feelings, a testament of mind and ultimately memory… sealed with a kiss? cautiously perfumed? These were not Shakespearean sonnets, but honest from the heart emotions on paper – perhaps not perfectly penned – but always meaningful, emotive and sincere.

A play like A. R. Gurney’s “Love Letters” currently running at the Brooks Atkinson is a large leap back into a set, carefully organized, measured world – a time and place teeming with social conventions and constraints – surely a different culture then our own.  One in which words on paper created a permanence lacking in today’s disposable – i.e. press “delete” – society.


This is a pitch perfect, a capella duet, a two character drama clearly defined by prominent treble and bass lines – sometimes in harmony, sometimes solo, yet always resonate with sharps, flats, overtones and undertones.  A raw, male/female absorbing story of perpendicular, crisscrossed, intersected lives.  Melissa is the moneyed, liberal artist and Andy the responsible, constricted “WASP” – performed with no sets, no costumes, no blocking, no stage direction/ movement and no intermission. A continuous, strictly verbal play in which two adult characters of a “certain age” sit at a table and read the chronology of their lives – using only their letters to each other to tell their tale – while directly addressing an audience of rapt theater goers.  The actors on stage never look at each other.  What follows are two lives unfolding with all the conflicts, joys, ditsy details, tragedies, ironies, absurdities – and the strength (or lack thereof) necessary to get thru it all. Such an intense, overwhelmingly compelling game of verbal volleyball – with an evolving, yet revolving score of “love” continuously underscoring this “match.”  You never quite know where the ball will bounce, you are not even certain if it will clear the net. I was totally drawn into this world of words … although often silence speaks louder … what is not said, says much.  The actors may never move on stage, but make no mistake – this play is full of action emanating from the head and soul of this duo, ultimately hitting the hearts of the audience in some surprisingly unexpected ways.

A.R. Gurney has written a remarkable, intimate piece of theatre and the Brooks Atkinson Theatre presents the perfect venue.  The two players- I was fortunate to catch it with the legendary Carol Burnett and marvelous Brian Dennehy- must modulate thru a seamless antithesis – from innocence to experience, from the comic to the serious, from young to old.   Indeed, the players seem to actually physically grow on stage, they are just that good in their roles – and recreate duel lives using only the written word, their own natural  talent and every ounce of  their stage skills.  Every facial movement, hand action, eye contact, inflection, every tonal nuance and vocal dynamic must fit and further the story.  You have to be at the top of your acting game to deliver this narrative duet while playing only from the waist up! Ultimately a depth of maturity is called for here, so rarely seen on stage.


The two person cast is a revolving one for this 2014 extending into early 2015 showing.  Here’s the expected lineup:

Candice Bergen /Alan Alda – November 9 – December 18

Diana Rigg / Stacy Keach – December 19January 9

Anjelica Huston / Martin Sheen – January 10 – February 15

What an array of talent, and each will bring their own singular strengths to their role. What possibilities!

An intelligent, closely felt, moving drama is hard to find these days on Broadway. The Great White Way seems riddled with some real nonsense. Don’t let a night of theater at its purest go by, this opportunity may very well never again occur; there are not many producers around willing to take bold risks any more. Such an amazing, legendary cast of players waiting in the wings, it’s a win/win.     

Now for a bit of truth…do you still have love letters buried in a drawer, and if so, what would those letters say about you?  Let’s talk in the comments below!


By: Joanne Theodorou




Unleash Your Inner Mixologist At Harding’s


After-work cocktails are kinda a thing in NYC.  While my drink of choice is usually a cracking cold glass of white (or champers if I’m feeling really fancy), I’ll occasionally splurge on a $14 cocktail…and savor every last sip.  But, like many New Yorkers, I’ve often wondered what makes these cocktails so expensive special…how hard could it be to add a splash of vodka into a glass of cranberry juice?  And when I’m ordering a fancy bevvy, how do I know the bartender is giving me $14 worth of spirit?  Perhaps most importantly, why are there never cocktails made with Dr. Pepper?!  (I kid, I kid, but this was a legit question asked in the class!)


So to get some answers to my questions, I headed to Harding’s for their monthly Bartending Class with Mixologist Derrick Turner.  First off, Harding’s is essentially the PERFECT venue for a class of this sort…classic Americana, with the sweetest little back room perfect for getting one’s mixology on.  I swear, I think there was even an old Singer sewing machine turned table for two!

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Ok, onto the class.  Derrick taught us 3 different drinks, all featuring St. George Spirits (themes change monthly though, often according to seasonal variety.)  My favorite was the “Simply Wicked”.  I included the recipe below for your drinking pleasure;-)

How do you know your bartender isn’t skimping on the booze?  An 8 second pour, my friends (8 seconds = 2 ounces of liquor).  Any less, just give him/her the stink eye and they should know exactly what you’re referring to.  (Thanks, Derrick!)

Oh, and I have a totally new appreciation for paying top dollar for the fancier drinks…seriously, not easy work!  By the end of class I had splashed liquid all over my work station (and myself!), and while my drinks certainly tasted delicious, they were no where as pretty as Derrick’s…in fact, they were pretty sloppy.  Bartending fail, Jess!  And the fact that bartenders have to memorize all these crazy concoctions, while making them, AND carrying on a conversation about your day?!  Major, major props, mixologists!


To RSVP for a class at Harding’s, visit their website.  And in the meantime, head to your home bar cart (cause I know you have one!;-), and give this delicious little number a try:

 Simply Wicked

1/4 oz. St. George absinthe

1/2 oz. agave syrup

Pinch of watercress

1.5 oz. gin

Garnish with watercress

{give it a proper mixing in a chilled glass with ice, and then strain into your glass.  as Derrick said, “you’ll be drinking pure happiness.”}


Now it’s your turn…drink of choice?!  Share in the comments below!


By: Jessica Tiare Bowen




Lypsinka! The Trilogy + Giveaway


This contest has officially ended. A huge New York thank you to all who participated, and congrats to our winner, Teri! Stay tuned for more exciting giveaways!

Happy Friday, readers!  Super stoked to be bringing some weekend cheer to you with this giveaway of free theater tickets to a fiercely fabulous show…!


1 STAR! 3 SHOWS! 8 WEEKS!: Lypsinka! The Trilogy

LYPSINKA! THE BOXED SET, Directed by Kevin Malony: Not seen in New York since 2001, this full-length ‘traditional’ Lypsinka concert is the award-winning revue of the Lyp’s greatest bits that has toured the world, flabbergasting audiences from Los Angeles to Sydney to Glasgow. Using a soundtrack created from films, musicals, and concert recordings, the New York stage’s supreme archivist of irony showcases the modern woman’s challenge of being over-blessed with femininity and celebrity.

THE PASSION OF THE CRAWFORD, Directed by Kevin Malony: The Lyp’s tour de force embodiment of towering screen queen Joan Crawford – featuring a re-enactment of Crawford’s onstage interview from 1973 – is a fantasia of fame and insecurity, grandness and identity. Last presented in New York in 2005, this tribute to Hollywood and ego crisis has since been mounted from San Francisco to Sarasota.

JOHN EPPERSON: SHOW TRASH, Directed by Barry Kleinbort: An autobiographical multi-media pastiche, starring Epperson – unmasked and in street clothes – tinkling the ivories and spinning yarns of Mississippi, Manhattan, and Hollywood. Now making its New York City theatrical premiere, the anecdotal Show Trash reveals the man behind the madness.


Here’s how to enter:

1. Subscribe to Used York City, which signs you up for our monthly newsletter. (Don’t forget to respond to the verification message you are sent via email. Former subscribers are automatically entered!)

2. For a bonus entry, tag your favorite NYC moment of the week on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #UsedYorkCity


The contest will run until Wednesday, November 12th, at which time a winner will be randomly chosen and announced on this post and via Twitter, and the winner will be notified directly by the email address that they subscribed with! Best of luck to all our readers!

p.s. if you don’t win the tickets, here’s a code for discounted ticket prices: RRMGNRL1.


By: Jessica Tiare Bowen





7 Ways It’s Cheaper To Live In NYC Than Other Places In The US


On my last visit home down south, I couldn’t help but marvel at how much less expensive life is outside of NYC.  For starters, when you spend $10 at a wine store in Virginia you’re actually getting what equates to a GOOD bottle of wine.  A trip to the grocery store can actually stock you up for under $30.  And don’t even get me started on the cost of housing.


There are a few (yes, JUST a few) areas where you can get things cheaper in the great Big Apple.  Not saying these make up for our insane rents, but here’s to looking at the glass half full, right?


1. Mani + Pedis

I get an amazing mani + pedi in the East Village for $20.  And when I say amazing, I mean the ladies are genuinely nice, do a solid paint job, give a mean foot massage, AND use hot stones.  Bam!  There’s places at this price point scattered throughout the city…whereas last time I got dolled up in Virginia, the pedi alone cost $35…at what would be a “normal” salon, no frills.

2. Transportation

My family members routinely pay for their car/insurance/gas every month, and it comes out quite higher than my $112 a month Metrocard.  Plus, walking everywhere is such an easy option when the weather isn’t terrible, which is free.

3. Entertainment

Not to say that other cities don’t have their fair share of free cultural stuff, but you’d be hard pressed to find a city that offers as much great quality stuff as NYC does for absolutely free.  You can essentially visit a museum every single day of the week by planning ahead and visiting during their free/pay-what-you-wish hours.  And then there’s the free movies, concerts, theater, festivals…as I always argue, it’s possible to be completely entertained in this city, every month of the year, without spending a cent.  (It’s just that food and housing that you need to be concerned about!;-)

4. Working Out

So this one can swing both ways…I have friends who think nothing of a $200 per month gym membership, and hey, no judgements!  But if spending that kind of dough for fresh towels and pretty clientele isn’t on your priority list, there’s tons of free and super cheap options.  NYC Parks and Rec offers Shape Up NYC fitness classes for free year round, offering everything from yoga, pilates, zumba and aerobics.  There’s tons of free and cheap yoga studios and classes in the city (a great round-up cab be found here.  Yoga To The People hot yoga is my personal fave, at only $5 a class.)  And, as mentioned above, one of the greatest perks about living in NYC is the ability to walk everywhere, which is some of the best exercise there is.

5. Massages

If you don’t mind basic (and I mean BASIC) digs, there’s a plethora of cheap massage parlors in this city (and not all of them are in Chinatown, promise!)  An AMAZING hour massage for $45?  Yes, please!  The closest you’ll come to this outside the city in other US towns is scoring a Groupon somewhere, and I promise you they will pale in comparison to Manhattan’s massagers!;-)

6. Pizza

Hmm, well, this may be about even with a lot of other towns, but if you’re in need of a quick bite, nothing beats NYC’s dollar slices!  Best spent dollar ever, in my opinion!

7. Art + Wine

If you’re into art and schmoozing with others who are into art, there’s pretty much opening receptions at galleries every single night of the week.  And what can be found at gallery openings, my friends?  Free wine.  I love this site, which keeps an up to date schedule of NYC receptions.

I guess this does feel like a pretty short (but sweet!) list.  But when paired with all the other priceless things about living in this city, I’d say it’s not so bad at all!

So, what did I miss??  Anything else that you can find cheaper in NYC than other parts of the US?  Share below!


By: Jessica Tiare Bowen//Photo Credit: 1





UsedYorkCity Inspiration #9



^^Finally got around to trying the gourmet donuts from Doughnut Plant, and loved their wall decor!^^

1. The NYC Marathon was this past weekend.  If you didn’t get around to running it (haha), you can see the entire course condensed here in 4 minutes.  (via New York Daily News)

2. Coney Island exhibit to be held across the pond in London this winter. (via the Coney Island Blog)

3. Warm up with the best oatmeal bowls in the city. (via CBS New York)

4. One of my favorite lifestyle bloggers just came out with a new store filled with the prettiest things, and I’m TOTALLY subscribing to the Happy Mail.  Snail mail is just the best:-) (via A Beautiful Mess)

5. Along with hosting Thanksgiving this year, I’m also trying out our first annual Friendsgiving.  This article about a group of friends that did the same in Brooklyn last year provided lots of inspiration. (via Business Insider)

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