Shoppers Special Nostalgia Train Ride

There are many things I love about New York City, but there’s a special place in my heart for how the city celebrates the holidays.  It’s a special time of year when everyone’s a little less brusque, a little less hurried.  Tourists are in awe of their surroundings, but for a brief moment in time, the locals are too.  And all we need to shield us from the bitter cold as we take in oversized trees, holiday markets and dressed-up store windows are hot cups of cider in mittened hands.

There are certain seasonal snapshots that feel timeless.  Christmas trees for sale on the sidewalk with string lights hanging overhead.  Salvation Army volunteers dancing and singing at the entrance to the department store.  We get nostalgic around the holidays because it marks the passage of time ever so clearly, year after year.  Memories are made, traditions are born.  All of it feels sacred.

Shoppers Special Nostalgia Train Ride - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

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Pipilotti Rist: Pixel Forest at the New Museum

You’ve probably seen a number of pictures in your Instagram feed from Pipilotti Rist’s latest exhibition at the New Museum in New York City. And it’s no wonder: her work seems perfectly curated for the social media outlet. But Pixel Forest is much more than a 1080 pixel by 1080 pixel photo inspiring Instagrammers far and wide to double-tap.

Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist has made quite a name for herself as a visual artist.  She started making videos in 1986, when the medium was at its height (think MTV), but several years ago she told the New York Times, “I use the same ingredients, I think, but I am cooking a different meal.”  It’s quite a different meal, indeed.  She’s since evolved into a multimedia magician of sorts, overlaying sculptures and textures with provocative video and imagery.

Pipilotti Rist Pixel Forest New Museum - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

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Don’t Think Twice

Let’s imagine, for a second, that you watched Casino Royale and fell in love with the Aston Martin. You dreamt of owning it. You started an Aston Martin Fund.  You collected pictures of it. You learned everything you could about it. Then one day your best friend shows up at your house in an Aston Martin.  “Isn’t it cool?”, he says. “My dad bought it for me.”

Could you be happy for him?

Life doles out its shares of disappointments, but this is a particularly trying brand.  It can appear in so many insidious forms: Your friend gets into the college you dreamed of attending. Your sister inherits the piece of jewelry you’d always loved.  Your girlfriend gets asked out by the boy you thought was really cute. We congratulate them, rally around them, support them. But a part of us hates them too. How much can you love someone who steals your dream?  Mike Birbiglia’s latest movie, Don’t Think Twice, explores this idea and so much more.

Don't Think Twice

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Public, Private, Secret at the International Center of Photography Museum

We’re fiercely private people, Lynn and I. And we’re aware — lest you think the irony went unnoticed — that the notion seems laughably conceited coming from bloggers. But that doesn’t make it any less true.

We struggle, regularly, with the ever more blurred and increasingly subtle distinction between the public and private aspects of our lives. Time and time again, we’ve drawn a line in the sand, erased it, moved it forward and back again, in seemingly endless repetition. For most people, this isn’t even an issue. Or, more accurately, it’s not even a consideration. For most people, this line we’ve agonized over, drawn out as some rudimentary, theoretical principle, is a testament to the futility of resisting a new and inevitable reality: there is no line. They believe ours to be a fool’s errand. From their perspective, we might as well have drawn our line near the ocean’s edge at low tide.

So it was with an ambivalent spirit that we recently visited the ICP Museum to experience Public, Private, Secret, an exhibit that was equal parts unsettling and fascinating. It explores “the concept of privacy in today’s society and studies how contemporary self-identity is tied to public visibility” and showcases the work of such talented artists as Zach Blas, Martine Syms, Natalie Bookchin, Cindy Sherman (whom we’ve written about previously in this post here), Nan Goldin, and Andy Warhol.  It also includes live-streams of images and videos from myriad social media sources compiled by Mark Ghuneim and ICP’s New Media Narratives students.  

ICP Museum NYC

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Egg Rolls, Egg Creams and Empanadas Festival

Meet Felipe Rangel, a talented artist who constructs colorful, dramatic vejigante masks.  The vejigante is a folkloric figure central to the Puerto Rican Carnival that takes place in Ponce every February. With its characteristic snout, sharp teeth, and multitudes of horns, vejigantes are a distinctive part of the cultural celebration.  Much like with the Mardi Gras Indian costumes (you might recall them if you watched Treme), there is tremendous pride in the craft of creating the mask, and Felipe was on hand to show it off at the recent Egg Rolls, Egg Creams and Empanadas Festival organized by the Museum at Eldridge Street last Sunday.  

Egg Rolls Egg Creams Empanadas Festival NYC
Felipe Rangel and his vejigante masks

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Ibrahim El-Salahi: Alhambra at Salon 94

As we’ve established in previous posts, and will likely continue to demonstrate in the future, New York City is home to a staggering number of museums and cultural institutions, and they offer a virtually limitless number of exhibits and installations to appreciate.  While Chelsea has long been the heart of the city’s art scene, art publications like ArtNews and Artsy have been covering the migration of many art galleries to the Lower East Side now that the High Line and the Whitney Museum have ushered in exponential growth, and therefore, rising rents in Chelsea.  

Ibrahim El-Salahi Alhambra

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Koneko Cat Cafe

It’s a sobering moment when, as an adult, you realize the magnitude of the sacrifice your parents made for you.  I used to think my father was unreasonably strict and purposefully withholding, but I realize now that he was, quite simply, a practical man trying to do what was best for his family.  He made us take piano lessons to teach us discipline.  He banned desserts in the house to help us maintain healthy diets.  And he prohibited pets because he knew the responsibilities of caring for them would eventually fall on my poor mother, who already had three children to chase after.  But my love for animals was inexplicably strong, so I would find different ways to scratch that itch.  I would fish my dad’s goldfish out of his pond and pet them, as if they were slimy, squirmy miniature dogs.  I would linger any time we found ourselves in the vicinity of a pet store.  And I would drop by my neighbor’s house four doors down, ring the doorbell, and ask if I could borrow a cat.  She would smile, grab one of her adorable little fur babies, and let me sit in her driveway with it.  I would spend hours playing with the loaned animal until it was time to hand it back and go home. So you see, I’m the OG cat café customer.

Koneko Cat Cafe NYC

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Lowline Lab



Love the High Line?  Well, did you know that someone is trying to build its underground cousin?  After reading this article, we decided to head down to the Lowline Lab to check it out.  The intended location of the park will be a couple of blocks away (and much bigger) but visiting the lab gives you a lot of interesting information on the science behind the project and a preview of what could be.  There are many volunteers present to answer questions, but based on our conversations with them, it’s clear that the project is still in VERY early stages.  It’s still fun as a quick outing if you’re in the neighborhood, or really into flora and fauna.

140 Essex Street
(between Rivington and Stanton Streets)
Lower East Side – New York City
Subway: J/M/F Essex Delancey Street

Saturday and Sunday
10am – 4pm
Free and Open to the Public
October 2015- March 2016

For more information, visit their website.

Pair it with:

Brunch at Dirt Candy



So you dropped a fiver in the donation jar at the Lowline Lab and you’re feeling one with Mother Nature, why not continue on to Dirt Candy, a phenomenal vegetarian restaurant located less than a half mile away.  The food is amazing even if you’re not a vegetarian, but don’t take our word for it.  Check out the full review by one of our favorite food sites here.

86 Allen Street
(between Grand and Broome Streets)

Open for brunch from 11:30am – 2:30pm on Saturdays and Sundays

Tip: For some odd reason, Dirt Candy is always busy when they first open for brunch so there’s often a wait, but if you go around 1:00-1:30pm after the initial rush has died down, you can get seated immediately.

For more information, visit their website.

– L.