It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly when our street art obsession began. But New York City has been the ultimate enabler, feeding our addiction from a well that never seems to run dry. Alas, junkies are never satisfied. Our appetites grew, and pretty soon we found ourselves down deserted alleys in foreign cities trying to get a fix. We’ve hunted down street art in ditches and mansions. And then in Athens, we nearly overdosed.
Do a quick search on Athens and the first thing you’ll see at the very top of the list, perched like the magnificent fortress itself on its rocky hilltop, is the Acropolis. It’s a one-of-a-kind archaeological treasure, deserving of all that prestige, and you should absolutely go and see it when you visit the ancient city for the first time. But too many people make Athens a stopover on the way to the one of the stunning 200-plus Greek Islands without giving it much thought. They squeeze in a visit to the Acropolis then hop back on a plane or ferry. But we’re going to let you in on a secret–Athens has so much more to offer than just ruins.
I recently read an article in Slate where Felix Salmon expressed concern that “blockbuster shows are ruining art museums”. Basically, he asserts that these big tent events are often a drag on sometimes woefully underfunded museum and gallery budgets or that they devour resources that would otherwise go to smaller installations and lesser known artists, all the while conditioning audiences to expect bigger and bigger spectacles. It’s a high that simply can’t be sustained. Lynn perfectly conveyed this sentiment when she talked about her underwhelming experience with Huma Bhabha’s Met Rooftop installation in a recent Mad Chatter post. It begs the question: in the age of blockbusters, is there still room for the museum and gallery equivalent of the shoestring budget indie film?
Warm weather marks the beginning of rooftop season in New York City, and while there are many spots to enjoy the weather, the Met Cantor Rooftop is still the destination both locals and visitors flock to. We were happy to fall in line, so we headed to the Met to check out the latest installation by Pakistani artist Huma Bhabha. We Come In Peace is timely and thought-provoking, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I found it a little anticlimactic. Last year’s installation by Adrian Villar Rojas filled the space beautifully, and the prior year’s installation involved a 30-foot recreation of the facade of the Psycho House. As I wandered onto the relatively empty rooftop on that brisk day, I couldn’t help but think, “Is that it?”
After a gruelingly long but otherwise uneventful winter, spring is finally in the air. Green shoots are muscling their way to the front row. Flowers are taking center stage. The hibernating inhabitants of the city are slowly emerging from their slumber, eager and ready to shed their winter layers and expend all that pent up energy. All the usual suspects come to mind: picnics in Central Park, visits to the Brooklyn Botanic and New York Botanical Gardens, and trips to Governors Island. Patio seats and access to rooftop bars become hot commodities. But we thought we’d offer another, oft-forgotten option to add to your list: Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden in Staten Island.
Whether you’re being grilled at a job interview or filling out a dating profile, you’ve probably been asked to describe yourself in three words. For us, one of those words would be “brunch”. And we’re probably not alone: there are over 18 million posts under the hashtag on Instagram alone. Brunching in New York City is a sport, and we’re training for the Olympics.
Wherever Lynn and I go, we never skip an opportunity to try local specialties. New York City is no different, other than the fact that it has a ridiculous number of them. Whether it’s pasta and pizza or bagels and babka, New York City has it all, and you can be sure we’re on the hunt for it. You might have read about my not-so-closeted obsession with the venerable soda fountain. Here’s a fun fact about me: when I get into something, I tend to go deep—bananas deep. I’ve made no exception with one of the quintessential soda fountain concoctions: Egg Creams. And Egg Creams are, without a doubt, a New York specialty.
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.
My father is a man of simple tastes. He knows exactly what he likes, and he likes what he knows. Take, for example, his birthday. Every year, with few exceptions, his celebratory meal consists of a fully dressed burger (grilled at home, if possible), mashed potatoes, and corn on the cob. For dessert, he has a penchant for a my mother’s chocolate applesauce cake, an exceptionally simple, pan-style cake lightly dusted with powdered sugar. And when my mother happened to be ailing or was out of town on a trip, he served his three boys Chipped Beef On Toast, boiled hot dogs, or ordered a pizza. Culinary master and healthy eating advocate he was not, God bless him, but simplicity was his hallmark.
I read an op-ed recently that struck a nerve. It was written by Canadian author, Michael Harris, and the title was I Have Forgotten How to Read. Coming in at about 1,629 words and creeping just a hair over the three page mark, it was a lengthy read by today’s standards. It came to me care of a dear friend’s Facebook post. I approach content from that platform with equal parts skepticism and curiosity, but I decided to give it a go nonetheless. I’m glad I did.