Better Late Than Never: 2016 NYC Holiday Window Displays



Whether you’re noshing on leftovers, watching Christmas Vacation again, or shopping the after-Christmas sales, we thought we’d help you eke out another ounce of holiday cheer with some pictures from the holiday window displays around New York City.  The amount of creative work that goes into the windows is always inspiring.  Making the pilgrimage has become one of our treasured holiday traditions, so we thought we’d share some of our favorites here. 

Here are some highlights from the same route we shared in last year’s post:

Continue reading Better Late Than Never: 2016 NYC Holiday Window Displays

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

Continue reading Shoppers Special Nostalgia Train Ride

It’s 3.142 O’clock Somewhere: An Ode to the Best Pie in New York City



Pie is home. Pie is comfort and consistency, when life is anything but. I’ll take pie in any form: the crimped-edge, single-crusted oculus splendor, the vented double-crusted surprise, and even the lowly hand pie, with all the adult pop-tart binge baggage that comes along with it. And sure there’s a dark side to this obsession. My penchant for flaky crusts and sweet fillings has lead to undesirable trips to the tailor (I’m talking to you, skinny jeans), a couple of “I don’t feel so good” upset stomach moments, some unintentional excitement in the dentist’s chair (though causality or correlation has yet to be substantiated to my satisfaction), and innumerable half-hearted New Year’s resolutions.

The whole sordid affair began with a “sliver”. “Sliver” is a storied word in the familial lore on my father’s side of the family. We did not coin it. We do not claim its etymological origins. But it does have a particularly special meaning to us. It’s sort of a hereditary trait, perhaps a genetic disorder, pronounced over and over again through the generations. It may also have something to do with our Catholic upbringing and the inherent feelings of guilt and penance that the religion engenders in its acolytes.

Now, my family loves to eat. No, really, we do. But we also feel ambivalent (yes, in that uniquely Catholic sense) when we overindulge. Enter the word “sliver”. It works like this: You tell yourself, I won’t take a WHOLE piece, I’ll just take a “sliver”. But the heart wants what the heart wants, as they say. And so you have another “sliver” and another “sliver” and another “sliver”. Eventually, you’ve eaten three pieces of pie and you’re thinking about the next time you have to go to confession. Or therapy. Or both.

A famous incident in my youth still occasionally pops up, to my horror, as conversation fodder over family meals. Believe it or not, I was an inordinately skinny child (don’t let the contradictory visual evidence in our posts confound you). It didn’t matter how much I ate, I simply never put on weight. And like most children with extremely elevated metabolisms, I was constantly, insatiably hungry. What I remember most about my childhood is an acute feeling of deprivation. I was the type of kid who finished my plate, as well as three helpings of sides, and, to my parents’ astonishment, still managed to reach — Shaun of the Dead zombie-style — for that last piece of chicken at the dinner table.

Best Pie New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Continue reading It’s 3.142 O’clock Somewhere: An Ode to the Best Pie in New York City

The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze



As far back as I can remember, there has been a special place in my heart reserved for Halloween. It’s so much more than a trivial holiday, and so much more than a fixed point on the calendar each year marking the change in seasons. Though I’ll confess: I’ve always loved the contradiction of the last gasps of a moribund summer lending to the the burgeoning intensity of a nascent fall.

For me, Halloween is a time of childlike wonder, creativity and imagination. It’s also a time for quick road trips and late evenings. There are apple orchards and pumpkin patches to visit. There are costume parties to attend. There are horror movies that I’ve added to my queue throughout the year, in anticipation of the perfectly curated scary movie marathon. And, of course, there is an overabundance of candy — at home, school, even the office. I mean, really, what’s not to like?

Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze - Mad Hatters NYC

Continue reading The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze

Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival


“I don’t think there is a life in the mundane 9-to-5 hypocrisy. That’s not living. That’s just part of the Matrix. And drag is punk rock, because it is not part of the Matrix. It is not following any rules of societal standards. Boy, girl, black, white, Catholic, Jew, Muslim. It’s none of that. We shape-shift. We can do whatever we want.” – RuPaul

While we’d like to encourage you to be happy with who you are, we’d also like to embolden you to be anyone you want to be. That may involve introspection and ambition, or it may simply involve putting on a costume when the occasion allows it. There’s a boldness to the business of getting dressed up and standing in the spotlight. Some New Yorkers get up and do it every day, while others wait for an instance like the Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival to get their shape-shift on.

At the Parade and Festival on Sunday, some outfits were literal (think Easter baskets, eggs and rabbits), while others were more abstract (matching stripes and polka dots with paper umbrellas and pointy hats — still thinking on that one). Some were simple (colorful chapeaus) and others elaborate (handmade head-to-toe costumes).  The colorfully-attired participants came together on Fifth Avenue, where the dramatic Neo-Gothic exterior of St. Patrick’s Cathedral provided the perfect backdrop for their unofficial parade.  They graciously posed for pictures for, and with, admirers from far and wide. I’m sure Southern hospitality has its charms, but when New York City plays host, you can be sure you’ll get a show.

Easter Parade Bonnet Festival

Continue reading Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival

Holiday Train Show at NYBG

Being the proud owners of lush gardens and beautifully landscaped backyards, our parents probably have ten green thumbs between them.  But apparently that’s a recessive gene. Because the two of us?  We’ve killed cacti. (Yes, plural. More than one cactus, on more than one occasion.)  So instead of putting a sad ficus in the corner of our cramped apartment, to get our green fix we make our way out to the New York Botanical Garden and enjoy the Best Pretend Backyard Ever.

DSC00516

Continue reading Holiday Train Show at NYBG

The Hard Nut at BAM

DSC00550

There’s risk everywhere in New York City—everywhere. That’s a fact.  The promise of success and the threat of failure lurk equally around every corner.  And those who live and work and thrive here embrace that risk unconditionally, drawing strength and inspiration from it. Fearlessness, ingenuity, persistence, perseverance—for artist and entrepreneur alike, these are the tenuous threads that stitch together their dreams. And it’s this frenetic sense of potential that can lead to truly astonishing results—from distinction to disaster to something altogether less interesting (albeit still quite worthwhile) somewhere in-between.

DSC00554

Continue reading The Hard Nut at BAM

Holiday Window Displays

New York City can really get its holiday game on.  We are home to the 80-foot tree at Rockefeller Center as well as the world’s largest menorah.  And for those of us who pray to the Gods of Retail, we have the holiday display windows.  It’s seasonal art at its best, and often involves collaborations with designers from far and wide.  For a greatest-hits walking tour that most everyone should be able to manage (or tolerate, depending on who you’re with), we recommend the following route:

Continue reading Holiday Window Displays