The Frick Collection

I’d be hard pressed to name a favorite museum in New York City — it would be like naming a favorite child (if you have over a hundred of them).  But I can assure you that the Frick Collection would be hovering near the top of the list.  It’s such an intimate and warm space, and although many other residences have been converted into museums or galleries, this one still feels like a home.

First, a little bit of history:  the museum is named for Henry Clay Frick, a Pittsburgh industrialist who came into his fortune during the Gilded Age from his endeavors in coke and steel (he partnered with the likes of Andrew Carnegie and J.P. Morgan).  Frick used his means to accumulate art, and when he moved to New York in 1905, a lot of it came with him.  He eventually built his home where the Frick Collection currently stands on East 70th St with the intent of turning it into a museum upon his death.

Frick Collection NYC

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The Humans on Broadway

Sometimes a play — a really, really good one — gets under your skin and stays there long after the curtain falls. Stephen Karam’s most recent effort, The Humans, is precisely that kind of play.

Humans on Broadway

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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

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Orchid Show at the New York Botanical Garden

If you took an Economics class in college, you might recall discussions around irrational behavior and speculation leading to market bubbles and crashes.  While the dot-com and real estate debacles might be fresher in our memory, one of my favorite examples of this was the boom and bust of tulips in the 1600s. Yes, tulips.  If you’re unfamiliar, the story goes that when the Dutch Republic gained independence from the Spanish crown in the 17th century, it ushered in a Golden Age with growing trade and commerce.  Fortunes flourished and estates grew, and soon the prized tulip — its bold colors unlike that of any other flower at the time — became a status symbol.  As demand multiplied, speculators were drawn to the quick profits and the prices ballooned.  At its height it was said that a single bulb was exchanged for 1000 pounds of cheese.  But in 1637, a default on a contract caused widespread panic and the tulip market abruptly crashed.

Orchid Show NYBG

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Flower Show at Macy’s Herald Square

Every year, New Yorkers get to embrace spring (whether or not it feels like it outside!) by visiting the Macy’s Flower Show at the retail giant’s flagship location in Herald Square.  This year’s theme, America The Beautiful, features miniature garden displays with the flora from different regions of the country.  The Southwest garden includes cacti varieties while the Pacific Northwest garden incorporates rhododendrons and begonias. The main floor is transformed into a shopper’s dream, with colorful flowers littering the paths between makeup counters and jewelry displays. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself wandering towards the perfumery, inspired by the amazing florals that surround you.

Macys Flower Show NYC

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Neal Brennan: 3 Mics at Lynn Redgrave Theater

From the linguistic dexterity and poetic brilliance of the late George Carlin to the rapid-fire, quick-witted, rage-filled rants of the inimitable Lewis Black, I’ve been lucky enough to witness comedic genius in action on quite a number of occasions. As stated in a previous post, storytelling — of which, as I see it, stand-up comedy is a specialized subset — is, in it’s highest form, an art. And Neal Brennan’s inspired performance at the Lynn Redgrave Theater served as a stark reminder of this fact.

3 Mics Neal Brennan

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K2 Friday Nights at the Rubin Museum

A friend of mine was visiting from London years ago, and had brought with her a big box of chocolates she’d picked up on a trip to Belgium. The group of us chatted as we sampled from it, when someone exclaimed, “I can only have one piece, it’s so rich!” Having probably devoured eight pieces by that point, I’ll admit that the notion of having too much of a good thing eluded me in that moment.

My unnatural capacity to consume desserts aside, I find that the law of diminishing returns tends to hold true in most other areas of life, and a self-imposed threshold can do wonders in increasing one’s enjoyment. For me, this definitely applies to art.  While it’s easy to lose oneself in a great museum or gallery for hours, I’ve discovered that after a certain amount of time has passed, or after I’ve viewed a certain number of pieces, my ability to truly appreciate additional works decreases. The Rubin Museum has a unique approach to this problem.

The Rubin Museum features art from the Himalayas, India and neighboring regions, but they’ve always promoted a more immersive experience, encouraging visitors to engage in more than just walking through the galleries.  They regularly offer meditation and yoga sessions, talks and a variety of other programs to “inspire visitors to make connections between contemporary life and the art and ideas”.

Rubin Museum NYC

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Isaac Oliver at Joe’s Pub

Storytelling, at its apex, is an art. It requires the philosophical contemplations, critical observations and the communicative dexterity of a writer, coupled with the intuition and instincts of a performer. It has existed from mankind’s earliest days, long before the first written word, as the primary narrative mode to disseminate ideas: communicating historical accounts, outlining philosophical theories, expressing ethical concerns, and challenging cultural norms.

Though much of my exposure to the social significance of storytelling originated with an elective class on folklore I explored at university, it wasn’t until my first trip abroad, to the United Kingdom, that I began to truly appreciate it as art. From cabbie to bartender, a newly minted acquaintances on the train from Edinburgh to Glasgow or on a bus in Dublin, the wit and mirth of the oral tradition were on full display in all its grandeur.

Isaac Oliver Joe's Pub NYC

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Nice Fish at St. Ann’s Warehouse

I really enjoy theater. Always have. I was captivated the moment I first attended a stage performance. It must have been A Midsummer Night’s Dream or Our Town or The Crucible, though, for the life of me, I can’t recall which.

During my time at university, my exposure to the myriad facets of theater were broadened appreciably. I spent countless hours reading, analyzing and writing about plays, and throughout, my enthusiasm for the medium never waned. I took in the occasional blockbuster and maintained a healthy acquaintance with the standards, but it was the small, experimental productions that captured my fascination most.

Nice Fish St Ann's Warehouse

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Hot Chocolate Festival at City Bakery

Have you had that experience where you were positive that you hated something, then you tried it again years later and discovered it was absolutely, mindbogglingly delicious?  That’s my story with hot chocolate.

Most of my life I struggled to find a relationship between chocolate (which I worship) and the watery, sickly-sweet, pale liquid that shared its name.  Then we made a trip to France (part of our first trip together as a couple, coincidentally), and on a chilly evening when I desperately craved a warm drink, I decided to give it a try. I was amazed — it was as if someone had taken a rich, chocolate bar and melted it into a cup. I’m not sure I drank anything else the rest of the trip! And mind you, we weren’t at the Ritz Carlton. I ordered hot chocolate at small cafes and restaurants all over Paris and the South of France, and they were all similarly rich and delicious.

Unfortunately, the American palate has no room for such extravagances. Milk and Hershey’s syrup make up most hot chocolate offerings here, so I returned to a hot-chocolate-free existence. Until I discovered City Bakery.

Hot Chocolate Festival City Bakery

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