Category Archives: Books

Love Letters to NYC

love letter typewriter1,000,001 love letters have been written to New York City over the ages. If you’re an artist who has spent even a small fraction of time here, it undoubtedly changed your consciousness in some fashion, and sooner or later, you will attempt to put your finger on how best to express the imprint she’s made on your heart and soul.

One of my very favorite literary love letters to New York is “My Home Town”, an essay Dorothy Parker penned for McCall’s Magazine in 1928:

It occurs to me that there are other towns. It occurs to me so violently that I say, at intervals, “Very well, if New York is going to be like this, I’m going to live somewhere else.” And I do — that’s the funny part of it. But then one day there comes to me the sharp picture of New York at its best, on a shiny blue-and-white Autumn day with its buildings cut diagonally in halves of light and shadow, with its straight neat avenues colored with quick throngs, like confetti in a breeze. Some one, and I wish it had been I, has said that “Autumn is the Springtime of big cities.” I see New York at holiday time, always in the late afternoon, under a Maxfield Parish sky, with the crowds even more quick and nervous but even more good-natured, the dark groups splashed with the white of Christmas packages, the lighted holly-strung shops urging them in to buy more and more. I see it on a Spring morning, with the clothes of the women as soft and as hopeful as the pretty new leaves on a few, brave trees. I see it at night, with the low skies red with the black-flung lights of Broadway, those lights of which Chesterton — or they told me it was Chesterton — said, “What a marvelous sight for those who cannot read!” I see it in the rain, I smell the enchanting odor of wet asphalt, with the empty streets black and shining as ripe olives. I see it — by this time, I become maudlin with nostalgia — even with its gray mounds of crusted snow, its little Appalachians of ice along the pavements. So I go back. And it is always better than I thought it would be.

I suppose that is the thing about New York. It is always a little more than you had hoped for. Each day, there, is so definitely a new day. “Now we’ll start over,” it seems to say every morning, “and come on, let’s hurry like anything.”

London is satisfied, Paris is resigned, but New York is always hopeful. Always it believes that something good is about to come off, and it must hurry to meet it. There is excitement ever running its streets. Each day, as you go out, you feel the little nervous quiver that is yours when you sit in the theater just before the curtain rises. Other places may give you a sweet and soothing sense of level; but in New York there is always the feeling of “Something’s going to happen.” It isn’t peace. But, you know, you do get used to peace, and so quickly. And you never get used to New York.

Then of course, I also adore E.B. White’s “Here is New York”, written in 1948:

There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born there, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size, its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter–the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something. Of these trembling cities the greatest is the last–the city of final destination, the city that is a goal. It is this third city that accounts for New York’s high strung disposition, its poetical deportment, its dedication to the arts, and its incomparable achievements. Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness, natives give it solidity and continuity, but the settlers give it passion. And whether it is a farmer arriving from a small town in Mississippi to escape the indignity of being observed by her neighbors, or a boy arriving from the Corn Belt with a manuscript in his suitcase and a pain in his heart, it makes no difference: each embraces New York with the intense excitement of first love, each absorbs New York with the fresh yes of an adventurer, each generates heat and light to dwarf the Consolidated Edison Company. . . .

The city, for the first time in its long history, is destructible. A single flight of planes no bigger than a wedge of geese can quickly end this island fantasy, burn the towers, crumble the bridges, turn the underground passages into lethal chambers, cremate the millions. The intimation of mortality is part of New York now; in the sounds of jets overhead, in the black headlines of the latest editions.

All dwellers in cities must live with the stubborn fact of annihilation; in New York the fact is somewhat more concentrated because of the concentration of the city itself, and because, of all targets, New York has a certain clear priority. In the mind of whatever perverted dreamer might loose the lightning, New York must hold a steady, irresistible charm.

Stumbling across these brilliant excerpts got me pondering which other art works of staggering genius really stand out as some of my all-time favorite love letters to New York. Coming up with a SHORT list is near impossible, there’s just too much to choose from (so expect follow up posts in the future, as more examples come to mind). For the purposes of this post, I included a few tried-and-trues that simply could not go without mention, and opted to focus more so on semi-recent indie-newbies that you may not be as familiar with. Enjoy!

 
LITERARY/ILLUSTRATION:

Check out Flavorpill’s compilation of NYC-loving literary masterpieces, including F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” and Patti Smith’s “Just Kids”.

All the Buildings in New York… That I’ve Drawn So Far
by James Gulliver Hancock
One artist’s painstaking labor of love, docu-illustrating NY’s iconic architectural landmarks and the perhaps lesser known gems that exist perfectly beside them:

 
Mapping Manhattan
by Becky Cooper
Another artist’s labor-of-love-turned-public-art-project in which New Yorkers individually contributed personal drawings of their Manhattan to Ms. Cooper’s greater vision:

 

CINEMA:
IMHO, Woody Allen takes the cake for greatest cinematic love letters to NYC:

Look closely! This short uses miniatures to “capture” a day in the life:

A sweet ‘lil short about NYC romance that’s sure to pluck at your heartstrings:

 
MUSIC:

5 Boroughs, 3 B Boys, 4 Ever:

Perhaps the greatest Big Apple anthem of all-time:

Mraz transports feel good LOVE throughout Manhattan:

These young newcomers distill NY’s Soul so poignantly:

Cat takes the prize for capturing the essence of my Manhattan best of all:

 
**

There are just so many notable love letters to NYC out there! Which are YOUR favorites? Please share by leaving a comment below. I’d love to hear from you!

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Filed under Architecture, Art, Books, Culture, Film, Love, Maps, Music, New York City, Writing

Eye For Style’s Favorites of 2011

Alas, it’s the end of another year, and the perfect time to look back and reflect on the people, places, and things that most captured our fancy.

I’m so honored that Photoshelter named me one of their staff’s favorite photographers for 2011 and plan to include me in their line-up of featured photographers for January 2012. In keeping with that same spirit, I thought I’d compile a list of some of my 2011 favorites to share with you. While a few of these events have come and gone, a majority of these recommendations are still going strong, and can be enjoyed well into 2012. Lucky you, it’s shaping up to be an awesome new year already!

Favorite musical find: The Hot Sardines, Yuna, Jaymay

Favorite go-to album: Adele 21; Beastie Boys Hot Sauce Committee Part 2

Favorite concerts: Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros @ Escape to NY; Ray La Montagne at Rumsey Playfield, Central Park

Favorite movie: The Artist; Bill Cunningham New York

Favorite gallery show: Aaron Johnson @ Stux; Stephanie Gutheil @ Mike Weiss

Favorite museum exhibit: Alexander McQueen at The Met; Maurizio Cattelan at The Guggenheim

Favorite architectural event: Open House NY; GVSHP Spring House Tour; MAS NYC Programs

Favorite art festival: Festival of New Ideas; Bring to Light; HOWL Festival; Figment on Governor’s Island

Favorite food festival: Smorgasburg; Union Square GreenmarketMadison Square Eats

Favorite food event: Edible Manhattan’s Good Spirits at Le Poisson Rouge

Favorite food truck: Sweetery NYC; Korilla BBQ; Wafels & Dinges

Favorite brunch: Northern Spy Food Co., WestvilleTartine; Back Forty

Favorite dinners: David Burke KitchenGoat TownTakahachi; Cask

Favorite coffee: La Colombe; Blue BottleHampton Chutney‘s cardamom coffee

Favorite bakery: Jane’s Sweet BunsZucker Bakers; Veniero’s Pasticceria; Ceci-Cela Patisserie

Favorite cupcake: Chickalicious; Butter Lane

Favorite mid-afternoon snack: Dumpling Man; People’s Pops; Pomme Frites

Favorite cheap eat: South Brooklyn Pizza; Tacombi; AsiaDog

Favorite sandwich: Num Pang; Barnyard; Mamoun’s

Favorite burger: Whitman’s; Royale; Korzo Haus

Favorite ice cream: Big Gay Ice Cream; Cool Haus

Favorite cocktail spot: Masak; The Beagle; Summit Bar

Favorite wine bar: Terroir; Grape & Grain; The Immigrant; Aria

Favorite cheese shop: Saxelby Cheesemongers @ Essex Market; Bedford Cheese Shop

Favorite gift boutique: Still House; Exit 9; Alphabets; Mxyplyzyk Inc.

Favorite accessories boutique: Barbara Feinman Millinery; Shape of Lies

Favorite clothing boutique: pinkyotto; Cloak & Dagger; Honey in the Rough; Pas de Deux

Favorite home decor: Jonathan AdlerKabinet & Kammer; Lancelotti Housewares; White Trash

Favorite kitchenware depot: Broadway PanhandlerThe Meat Hook

Favorite bookstore: St. Mark’s Bookshop; Three Lives & Co.; Strand; LES Tenement Museum

Favorite stroll: Section 2 of The Highline; East River esplanades; The Ramble

Favorite yoga studio: Integral Yoga Institute; Laughing Lotus Center

Favorite day spa: Russian Turkish BathsMama Spa

Favorite new tech gadget: Roku 2; iPad 2

Favorite thing about NYC: EVERYTHING!

For more information about my very favorite places throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn, be sure to check out my handy-dandy Eye For Style maps.

Need a recommendation for that perfect gift or restaurant for that special occasion? Check out my Eye For Style Services page.

In the meantime, wishing you a Happy 2012 full of urban adventures, art explorations, good eats, shopping scores, ample playtime, and so much more!

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Filed under Architecture, Art, Books, Cocktails, Culture, Events, Food, Maps, Music, New York City, Style, Travel

Where Madison Square Eats meets Eataly

At: 5th Avenue & 23rd Street, New York City

When: September 23 – October 21, 11am – 9pm

Madison Square Eats returns to Worth Square once again this fall, on the heels of a very successful summer 2011 trial run. Bringing together diverse tastes of some of the city’s best restaurants and bakeries, this gastronomic hub is a must visit for foodies and eaters alike, with plenty of outdoor seating nestled between Madison Square Park, the crossroads of bustling Broadway and 5th Avenue, at the foot of the famously picturesque Flatiron Building.

Participating eateries for fall include: Almond, Asiadog, Bar Suzette, The Cannibal, Fatty Snack, Graffiti/Mehtaphor, Hong Kong Street Cart, Hot Blondies Bakery, ilili, Junoon, Macaron Parlour, The Milk Truck, Momofuku Milk Bar, Nunu Chocolates, Perfect Picnic, Red Hook Lobster Pound, Roberta’s Pizza, Robicelli’s, Sigmund’s, Spices & Tease, Stuffed Artisan Cannolis, and Wafels & Dinges.

You can easily make an afternoon siesta of it, sampling the goodies of multiple vendors without feeling as though you’re going to burst at the seams, if you follow Eye For Style’s tried-and-true plan of attack: Begin with a couple of lunch courses at MSE2. Head directly across the street for a leisurely stroll around the park. Wonder why so many people are waiting in that long line at Shake Shack. Find a good bench to cop a squat, people watch and read the paper. Have a nice long conversation, with a stranger or your chosen companion. When you’re ready to move on, take a field trip over to Eataly! This barely year old, 50,000 sq. ft. space is part gourmet megamarket, part upscale restaurant food court/wine bar, part bookstore and specialty kitchenware emporium, part culinary school. It’s the well-conceived baby from a menage a trois of New York super-chefs, Mario Bataly, Joe and Lidia Bastianich. Their European partner, Oscar Farinetti, founded the original Eataly, located in Turin, Italy.

Hit the main floor, wandering around in awe and delight, to your hearts content. If the weather is lovely, head up to the Birreria and partake in a speciality craft beer, brewed right on Eataly’s very own rooftop, as you admire one spectacular view of Gramercy and Chelsea. Your thirst now sufficiently quenched, head back downstairs and fill your basket with all the delectibles you can’t bear to leave without – exotic fruits and veg from the produce market; tasty antipasto, charcuterie, crudo, and cheese from La Piazza for a light supper; and don’t forget a few goodies from Pasticceria for tomorrow’s breakfast! If you’re experiencing a bit of a food coma by now, pop by Caffé Lavazza or Vergnano, Eataly’s TWO espresso bars, to put a little pep in your step with a freshly ground cappuccino, before heading back outside to Worth Square for round #2 of MS Eats.

Now that your appetite for Italian cuisine has officially been whet, you’re gonna want to check out Eataly’s website for their extensive calendar of upcoming cooking classes with legendary NYC celebri-chefs. There’s so much going on at this food lover’s paradise, you can return again and again, without even beginning to stratch the surface of all the culinary offerings on hand.

Now that’s amore!

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Tenement Talks

Foodie and “Loisaida” (slang for Lower East Sider) that I am, I jumped at the chance to attend the latest “Tenement Talk” at the Tenement Museum last night to hear former NY Times restaurant critic and author, William Grimes, discuss his new book “Appetite City: A Culinary History of New York”. I was very impressed by Grimes’ ability to cover over 200 years of culinary history, in such a gastromically diverse city as New York, fairly comprehensively in the span of just under an hour. No mean feat. But Grimes is a terrificly humorous storyteller who paints absolutely fascinating pictures of early food culture, geared specifically to tales of the Lower East Side, for last night’s Tenement audience. (He’ll give another talk, which is sure to be varied in scope with Editor in Chief of Gourmet Magazine, Ruth Reichl, at the New York Public Library this evening). His talk was peppered with one amusing anecdote after another, as he touched on topics such as: the ‘sausage and sauerkraut’ oriented cuisine of the early LES when it was better known as “Little Germany” aka Kleindeutschland; the evolution of the Deli, from German to Eastern European Jewish & Italian immigrant ownership; and the impact of the Depression and Prohibition on the burgeoning restaurant and food scenes of the day.

Other favorite anecdotes from the evening included discussions of: the emergence of bread lines and 1 cent coffee carts, aimed at feeding the huddled masses, so long as they could come up with at least a penny in good faith; the backlash directed at such generosity, leading to the the condemnation of the starving artists and “slumming culture”; the evolution from “Beef and…” lunchtime counter establishments to the rise of lobster palaces; and the diversity of available food stuffs at the Fulton Street and (now defunct) Washington Public Markets.

During the Q&A portion of the evening, Grimes touched on a few more modern topics including: the rise of artisanal/gourmet vendie carts; and how geography and real estate, and the separation of live/work sectors have played a major role in NY becoming a stand up/eat out culture. The evening concluded with a “Which came first? The chicken or the egg” debate about whether restaurants make a neighborhood, or vice versa, and the recent turning of the tide from anonymous kitchen staffs and the restaurant owner as king, to today’s rise of celebrity superchefs and their destination eateries. Quite a lot of information to chew on, and a very enjoyable evening for foodie and NY history buffs, indeed. If any of these topics appeal, be sure to pick up Grimes’ book, now available in stores.

It’s also worth mentioning that, there are several other interesting Tenement Talks on the horizon, including “LES Stories: Apartment Tales”, “What Makes Architecture Great”, “The Amazing Journey of American Women: 1960 to Present” and “Holidays in the City”. Check the link below for dates. The Talks are currently being held in their Gift Store across from the actual museum (one the best shopping spots in the city to pick up cool & unique NY souvenirs). I recommend getting down to the LES early to walkabout and sample some of the great eats of the area, before you head over for the 6:30 pm talk. Katz Deli, babycakes, el labatorio del gelato, The Roasting Plant, Guss’ Pickles, and the Essex Street Market are great places to visit to get a taste of the local flavor, and are all less than a 3-minute walk from the museum. I don’t think they anticipated last night’s large turn out, so be sure to get to the Talk early as well, in order to secure a highly coveted folding chair. Free wine and soft drinks are provided, and donations are graciously accepted. The museum is offering a special in conjunction with their Tenement Talks – purchase a museum membership for $55 (which entitles you to free museum visits for a year and Gift Store discounts), and the featured book of the evening is FREE. It’s a very good deal, for a worthy cause, in my opinion. Hope to see you at the next one!

Tenement Talks
FREE @ The Tenement Musuem, 6:30 pm
108 Orchard Street between Delancey & Grand
Lower East Side, NY
212-982-8420
http://www.tenement.org/vizcenter_events.php

Appetite City Cover

To view my food photography, please visit eyeforstyle.net.

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