Have you ever wondered how we came up with the name of our blog, Mad Hatters NYC? We actually drew inspiration from a number of sources, the most obvious one being Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. We’re not the only ones to draw a parallel between New York City and Carroll’s land of magic and make-believe. But one day a year, the comparison takes on a life on its own. During the New York City Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival, a large group of Mad Hatters descends on Fifth Avenue and the world of fantasy and reality collide.
If you’re a street art lover, New York City is the gift that keeps on giving. You could turn the corner and find a giant mural of Mickey Mouse, or you could look down and find sidewalk art that’s perfect for your Instagram shoe-fie. Come back the next day, and you might find something completely different. Street art is fleeting in nature, and that’s part of its charm. But can you have something temporary, yet permanent? Something so iconic that it transcends street art’s evanescent nature? Yes, you can. In New York City, that phenomenon exists with the Bowery Wall Mural.
Tradition is one of those things I found stifling when I was younger, something I desperately needed to break free of. Being of mixed race meant having two sets of rules to adhere to. It meant being saddled by two laborious sets of obligations. I couldn’t wait until I didn’t have to be somewhere I didn’t want to be–I was young and had way cooler things to do, after all. (Cue the eye roll here.) But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve developed a renewed understanding and appreciation for it. Community becomes less about conforming and more about belonging.
Those who know me know that I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day. In fact, I kind of despise it. And it’s not just because I don’t buy in to the carefully orchestrated marketing frenzy of overpriced gifts and experiences leading up to the holiday. It’s because something about glorifying coupledom has always rubbed me the wrong way. Sure, I can acknowledge the value of taking the time to appreciate your significant other, but that should really happen more than once a year, don’t you think? Justin and I have never been one of those couples who only hangs out with other couples. In fact, we have many friendships with individuals who happen to be unattached. And, surprise, they are no less spectacular because they haven’t “found the one”, “met their soulmate”, or “made the perfect match”.
We’ve made no bones about the fact that this blog keeps us pretty busy. But every once in a while someone cancels or plans fall through and we find ourselves with an opening in our otherwise overpacked schedule. So, what do we do when we have some time to kill? Well, we turn to a tried-and-true solution, one that requires no tricky reservations or extensive planning. And one that happens to be the best kept pseudo-secret in town: an art gallery crawl. Oh, and the cherry on top? It won’t cost you a dime.
Continue reading The Art Gallery Crawl: A Secret Alternative To Art Museums In New York City
If there’s one thing to know about this blog and the people behind it, it’s that Justin and I love all facets of New York City. That means loving Jean Georges and Halal Guys in equal measure. Fifth Avenue and the Lower East Side. The Met and Mmuseumm. And when it comes to the holidays, we love over-the-top displays as well as understated celebrations. One of the more quirky and lesser known holiday traditions we enjoy in New York City is that of Unsilent Night.
There are three candy holidays, or I should say Holy Days, in the United States: Easter, Halloween, and Christmas. I remember as a child, when of one of these observed Holy Days approached, my father would open a portal into another world. No matter where we lived at the time, he would take me to some secretive little shop, inconspicuously tucked away off the beaten path. These shops were like walking into a time capsule, what with their loads of obscure candies, chocolates, and myriad other snacks, stacked floor to ceiling. Whether in open barrels or giant bags and boxes, I found myself surrounded by untold delights.
Why on earth would a nocturnal creature such as myself wake up at an uncivilized hour on a frigidly cold Saturday morning in November just to stand on line for nearly two hours–and not just any line but a discouragingly gargantuan queue that appeared to stretch into infinity? A fair question. And the answer is quite simple: when you have the opportunity to see recent works from an artist of Yayoi Kusama’s caliber, whose contributions have been essential to some of the most important artistic movements of the 20th Century, you dig deep. You pull on your big boy pants and wrap yourself in a puffer jacket. You fill a thermos with strong coffee. And you get moving.
I grew up in Malaysia then moved to the United States as a young adult. Justin trailed along while his father’s highly transient career took him all over the country in his youth. So when it came time to make our own home, we fell into the normal trappings–we bought a house in a nice neighborhood in a state where it was sunny 299 days per year. But we found ourselves making regular trips to New York City that grew longer and more frequent, and soon we realized maybe it was more of a home to us than our house was. For us, home has never been about geography. It’s always been a feeling. A longing when you leave, and a pull to return.
You could spend every weekend doing something completely different in New York City and never run out of things to do. But there are certain events that hit can’t-miss status for us. Activities that are permanently etched into our calendars. Occasions that take precedence over anything else going on in the city that day. The Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade is one of those special cases.