leanor Foa Dienstag

Photojournalist

As a photojournalist and journalist, my work regularly appears in Woman Around Town as well as other online publications, including NYCitywoman and The Transition Network New York News. All the stories, below, were reported, written and photographed by me, with the exception of Zuccotti Park, which was written by another journalist around my photographs.

Two Exhibitions For – and About – New York Women 

03/21/2018

Text and photos by Eleanor Foa Dienstag For some of us, it’s hard to believe that our recent past is already “history.” But two  lively exhibitions at the Museum of the City of New York serve as reminders of women’s gradual liberation, both political and sartorial.  “Equality: Beyond Suffrage – A Century of New York Women in Politics,” and “Mod New York,” which focuses on fashion between 1960 and 73, brought back a lot of memories. I’m sure they will for others “of a certain age,” as well.  Beyond Suffrage New York City has always played a major role in the feminist movement. Frances Perkins, called the principal architect of The New Deal, was a workers-rights advocate in the city and state before being appointed by FDR to serve as U.S. Secretary of Labor from 1933 to 1945. The first woman appointed to the cabinet, she was a friend of Eleanor Roosevelt, whose lifelong fight for women’s equality is one of her greatest legacies.  Perkins Plaque Photo with Eleanor Roosevelt The 1960s and 1970s brought “second wave feminism” led by an assortment of New York women well represented in this exhibition.   Photo of Steinem, Abzug, Chisholm, and Friedan RBG [...]

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Paname French Restaurant 

01/26/2018

Paname (slang for Paris), owned and operated by Restaurateur/Chef Bernard Ros, occupies a modest space between 56 and 57 Street on Second Avenue. A few years ago, when Ros found the place, he had the foresight to insist on a 15-year lease, which is why, as he tells it, he can still offer quality dishes at reasonable prices despite the catastrophic rise of rents – for mom and pop retail establishments — throughout the city. Ros’s foresight is our good fortune, because finding a moderately priced French bistro in midtown Manhattan – with entrees between $23 and $29 — is something of a miracle.  Interior Bar  While there is an old-fashioned, Art Nouveau feel to the décor of Paname, and the menu is filled with traditional sounding favorites – from Escargots to Boudoin Noir with Choucroute – Chef Ros cooks and presents his dishes in an updated and sophisticated manner.   Amuse Bouche Cauliflower Soup  Butter on a Black Stone The best way to experience the Chef’s approach is to order the 3-Course Prix Fixe Dinner ($43), which comes with a few extras. I could tell I was in good hands when two unusual Amuse Bouche arrived at the table — [...]

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Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman and Designer

11/08/2017

There are shows and then there are blockbuster shows that only a major museum, like the Met, can envision, research, organize, and finance. Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman and Designer is one of those “once in a lifetime” blockbuster exhibitions. Carmen C. Bambach, Curator Eight years in the planning, with rarely seen works drawn from 50 public and private collections in the U.S. and Europe, it brings together “the largest group of original drawings by Michelangelo ever assembled for public display,” according to Carmen C. Bambach, the show’s curator.  So rare and delicate are these 200 works –among them 133 drawings — that the exhibition will not travel. So, for those eager to deepen their knowledge of this towering genius, it cannot be missed. Sculpture, Young Archer This is not a flashy exhibition bursting with familiar images. In fact, it’s a quiet and demanding show for connoisseurs and students of art who respect the enormous research, scholarship and point of view behind each image, take pleasure in learning about the artistic and historic world in which Michelangelo flourished, and are fascinated by the hand of the master as he thinks on paper. Michelangelo thought of himself mainly as a sculptor – and one [...]

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Ettore Sottsass at the Met Breuer: Design Radical

08/01/2017

Text and Images by Eleanor Foa Dienstag If you are seeking a diversion from the horror of U.S. politics (as I was and am), I recommend a small exuberant exhibition at the Met Breuer focused around the design ideas and work of the Italian architect/designer, Ettore Sottsass (1917 – 2007). It will lift your spirits in a way that only imaginative and serious art can. This is one of those shows that intersperses the work of Sottsass and the post-modern design group, Memphis, of which he was the chief honcho, with the artists and aesthetic environment that influenced Sottsass. I would have preferred more pieces by Sottsass, but it’s always interesting to understand the context of his work. Sottsass worked on low-cost, post-war housing with his father, also an architect, and eventually embraced a “less is more” aesthetic for living. In theory, he envisioned modest-sized modular structures to hold a household’s minimum possessions. He scorned the materialism of post-war America but embraced much of the rebellious culture of post-war American art. However, as is immediately evident, there was a paradox at the heart of Sottsass’ radical designs. Though they were meant to be nontraditional pieces for middle class consumers, they [...]

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Empty Spaces

05/30/2017

I used to joke that, after a trip, when I returned to my East Side neighborhood in New York, I would walk around the block to see which store had closed. At first there were small losses: a corner grocery store where I bought inexpensive condiments and flowers; a shoe repair shop. Then it escalated to a locally beloved family-run card and party shop, a Greek restaurant, a convenience store and small dress shop. In came the Duane Reades and CVSs, as well as the Chase and TD Banks. Recently, however, this evisceration of neighborhood shops has swept Manhattan like a silent tsunami. Wherever I go – east side, west side, uptown, downtown, from Soho to fashionable Madison Avenue, the boutiques and small stores that gave each neighborhood its charm, conveniences and identities are gone. Wiped out. Who are the villains?  Rapacious real estate interests? Condo and co-op boards whose retail space offer casino-like rewards? Amazon, and all online portals to retail shops?  Overworked New Yorkers for whom time is money and therefore shop more online – Fresh Direct, Blue Apron — than ever before? All of the above? Whatever the reason, we are living through a profound revolution whose [...]

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Sel et Poivre – Neighborhood Restaurant for Everyone

03/06/2017

The disappearance of small family businesses in New York – especially restaurants on the Upper East Side — has recently accelerated. Rents have soared and unless a restaurateur owns the building, he/she eventually departs. Just this week, Mon Petit Café, on Lexington Avenue, closed due to “sky high rent.” So it’s a double pleasure to toast the food, atmosphere and longevity of a neighborhood French restaurant just up the street from Mon Petit Café  — Sel et Poivre — a family-run French bistro on Lexington Avenue. This June it will celebrate its 28th Anniversary: same family (husband and wife team, Christian and Pamela Schienle); same location, and same daily specials. Remarkably, it’s also open seven days a week, as well. Christian Schienle Sel et Poivre is a cozy, reasonably priced watering-hole for Upper Eastsiders who enjoy consuming a well-prepared meal at a table with a bit of elbow room, in a quiet dining room only punctuated by the sound of conversation and clinking glasses.  But of course, it’s the food that’s the main draw and the restaurant continues to live up to the timeless standards of classic Bistro dishes – from Skate with lemon and capers and Frog Legs to [...]

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 Huge Women’s March in New York City

01/22/2017

A larger than expected crowd estimated at 400,000 jammed midtown on Saturday as they wound their way along 42nd Street and up to Trump Tower to participate in NYC’s Women’s March. New Yorkers found a way, through one of the city’s largest peaceful demonstrations, to make their diverse voices heard. A flotilla of pink hats in an ocean of women, men, children and – this is New York – celebrities turned out.  Despite the morning chill, the vibe was warm and welcoming. The mood was upbeat. Camaraderie reigned. The event was exhilarating and, for some, reminiscent of the early days of the feminist movement in the 1970s. Whoopie Goldberg in Pink Hat Little Girl in Pink Hat Rosie Perez, feisty, as always, welcomed a host of prominent people to the podium, including: Katherine Siemionko, who launched The Women’s March in New York; Cynthia Nixon and, from across the pond, Dame Helen Mirren, who took the subway to the March and declared, echoing JFK, “Today, I am a New Yorker.” Rosie Perez Katherine Siemionko Cynthia Nixon Helen Mirren Chirlane McCray Also gathered near the United Nations, where the March started,  were Chirlane McCray, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s eloquent wife, State Senators [...]

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Lobster Lust

10/18/2016

We were looking for a good “shoulder-season” fare for a long weekend away from the hot, humid, noisy and gridlocked city. Also, for a place neither of us had been to before. So, like Monopoly players, without much forethought, we landed on Portland, Maine, less than an hour away on a Jet Blue flight. We assumed it would be less packed with visitors than in summer. Eastern Promenade Wrong!  After booking our flights we discovered it was almost impossible to find a hotel room. September, it turns out, is wedding month in Portland. Also, huge cruise ships disgorge passengers almost every day and foodies up and down the East Coast head to Portland which – who knew? – is a magnet for serious restaurants and serious eaters. In short, until about Christmas or before the snows of winter arrive, the joint is jumping. Happily, however, through booking.com, we found a hotel, Hampton Inn, perfectly located near the waterfront and, better yet, around the corner from most of the best restaurants in the city. It exceeded our expectations (with an ample buffet breakfast, friendly staff and adjacent Brew Pub), as did Portland itself. Cruise Ship Lobster is to Maine as Broadway [...]

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Block Island’s Wind Turbines – Objects of Beauty 

09/07/2016

Offshore wind farms have been bitterly opposed by residents of Cape Cod and Nantucket, among others. My question is why? After having lived for a week in view of five wind turbines three miles off the shore of Block Island – the first wind farm in the U.S. — I am baffled by the “not in my backyard” reaction. Because not only do they make ecological, environmental and economic sense, but the turbines themselves are visually beautifully, gorgeous pieces of immense sculpture that, depending on the light, subtly change shape, form, mood, and yes, power. Interestingly, too, according to an exhibition at Block Island’s Historical Society, during the process of laying down the turbines’ power lines, archeologists have uncovered “projectile points” dating from between 4,000 and 6,000 B.C. That is when Block Island was still linked to the mainland. Gradually, the rate of sea level rise began to decrease and the top of that landmass – Block Island – emerged, no longer connected to the mainland. Carbon-dated recovered remains from shell heaps (or middens) around today’s Great Salt Pond indicate that from 500 B.C. on, the Island was inhabited by year round settlements of the Manisses tribe. Natives dined on [...]

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Dominique Bistro on Christopher Street

08/14/2016

New York is changing so rapidly – often for the worse – that I’m no longer surprised, after returning from a short vacation, to find half the restaurants in my neighborhood have gone out of business, and whole blocks torn down to make way for high-rise development. But sometimes there are happy surprises. Such was the case the other day when I was on my way from the 7th Avenue subway to a French restaurant on Christopher Street. There, across from Greenwich Village’s historic Stonewall Inn, was a formerly rundown triangle of park transformed into a beautifully landscaped urban oasis. Amazingly, the Stonewall National Monument, as it is now called, is America’s first LGBT national park. It was so designated by President Obama just two months ago (June 24, 2016). So check out the Park (off 7th Avenue), before or after your visit to Dominique Bistro (DB), which is located on the corner of Christopher and Gay Streets. Interior of Restaurant If any part of New York is like Paris it’s the West Village, with its small boutiques and low-rise brownstones. Dominique Bistro, inspired by and named after its Chef, Dominique Pepe, offers classic bistro food in a comfortable and [...]

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Vicenza: An Unexpected Jewel 

07/27/2016

Part 1 – The City  Top photo: Basilica Palladiana & Piazza Dei Signori In travel, as in life, it’s the unexpected surprises that stand out and capture the heart in a way that expected highlights rarely do. On a recent trip to Venice and Verona, I added, at the last minute – due to the recommendation of both a cousin who lives in Venice and a New York architect – the small town of Vicenza, about which I knew next to nothing, except that it was midway between the two other cities, home of 16th century architect Andrea Palladio, and easy to access by Italy’s excellent railroad system. Girl and Boy with Umbrella Corso Andrea Palladio It was love at first sight, even on a grey, drizzly afternoon when few people were on the street or perhaps because — in sharp contrast to Verona (wall to wall tourists) –few people were on the street. Within an hour’s stroll, I realized that Vicenza had everything I seek when traveling, authenticity, beauty and breathtaking architecture, all waiting to be captured by my camera. (I never worry about eating well in Italy. It’s a given.) By the time I’d unpacked, the sun had [...]

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Danny Lyon: Politically Engaged Photographer

06/18/2016

Photographer, filmmaker and writer Danny Lyon (born 1942), a New Yorker, born and raised in Queens, whose father was the ophthalmologist to Alfred Stieglitz, is the focus of the Whitney’s first photography exhibition in its new, downtown location. Danny Lyon: Message to the Future, organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, where it will open at the de Young Museum in November, is also the first full career retrospective of his work, including 175 photographs, previously unseen 16mm film footage made inside Texas prisons, vintage prints and personal photo albums. Arrest of Taylor Washington, Atlanta, 1963 Cover of SNCC Brochure Lyon hitchhiked to the segregated South in 1962, while still a student at the University of Chicago. So powerful was Lyon’s work of the Civil Rights movement that James Forman, executive director of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), recruited Lyon to be the organization’s first official photographer. His images were used in posters, brochures and leaflets to raise money and recruit workers. “Is He Protecting You?” Image taken at the University of Mississippi in 1962 and reproduced as a poster in 1963 by SNCC Echoing war photographer Robert Capa, who said, “If your pictures aren’t good enough, [...]

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Manus x Machina: Poetic Possibilities of the Machine at the Met

05/06/2016

Working against the myth that couture is “hand made” while “machine made” is prêt –à-porter or, basically, for the masses — not on the same level of imagination, craft, refinement and price — Andrew Bolton has fashioned an exhibition that proves otherwise. What follows are particular standouts, in an exhibition that is, as usual, a knockout, although the quasi-religious music wafting through is, to my mind, a bit pretentious. It’s clear, from this exhbition, that machines and all forms of technology are simply additional mechanisms through which designers can now weave their magic Miyake Design Studio, Flying Saucer Dress 1994 Alexander McQueen (Sarah Burton), 2012 Alexander McQueen (Sarah Burton), 2012 House of Dior (Raf Simons), 2015 Thom Browne, 2013 Pierre Cardin , 1968 Comme des Garcons (Junya Watanabe), 2000-2001 Noa Raviv, 2014 Thierry Mugler, 1990-91 Halston, 1970 Wedding Ensemble, Karl Lagerfeld, 2013 Close up of Wedding Ensemble Embroidered Train Opening photo: Iris Van Herpen 2012 Photos by Eleanor Foa Dienstag

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Up on the Met’s Roof: Icon of American Culture By British Artist

04/20/2016

Leave it to a British artist, the ebullient Cornelia Parker, to create and install on the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s roof an American icon that celebrates and comments on a unique emblem of our architecture, art and culture. Cornelia Parker, artist Barn Side There are layers of references in Parker’s visual conceit – America’s red barn, Edward Hopper’s paintings of barns and Victorian mansions with mansard roofs, as well as American gothic via Hitchcock in Psycho. Add to that the museum roof with its spectacular New York skyline, “a gift to any artist,” said Parker at Monday’s press preview, and, voilà, we have many of the elements that inspired her. Back of Barn However, the title of Parker’s piece, “Transitional Object,” deepens her intent. It’s a psychoanalytic term for toys, such as teddy bears, that help children, as she put it, “wean off their mother, though some get stuck in that phase.” One might almost call it an aesthetic fetish. However you interpret this piece, it sticks in one’s eye and mind, and plays off the steel and concrete skyline in a vibrant way. Looking up at Barn from Central Park The house, built with materials from three different barns, [...]

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Nai Tapas Bar: An Undiscovered Gem

04/02/2016

Amazing meals sometimes come in unexpected places. That was certainly the case the other evening at Nai, an unassuming looking restaurant on 1st Avenue between 10th and 11th Streets, a neighborhood whose mix of old and new landmarks makes it one of the most fascinating in New York. Around the corner is Veniero, one of New York’s oldest Italian bakeries and cafes. On the west side of 1st Avenue is Momofuko, a hot destination for foodies. And across the street from Momofuko is Nai, a Tapas place that’s a neighborhood favorite, seeking to attract a larger audience. Restaurateur/Chef Ruben Rodriguez Restaurateur/Executive Chef Ruben Rodriguez is young, only 32, but comes from a Spanish family of restaurateurs. His menu offers a mix of traditional tapas from Galicia — including recipes from his mother (Nai) and grandmother – and innovative tapas – some molecular, some Asian-inspired – and very much his own creation. Wine Director, David Martinez Nai also carries a wide range of craft beers, predominantly Spanish wines and home-made sangrias that co-owner and wine director, David Martinez, pairs expertly with each dish. His wine and beer choices were amazing. To accompany our first courses, for example, he poured a beer [...]

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Sophisticated Comfort Food at Copper Kettle Kitchen

02/19/2016

The Upper East Side has a restaurant problem. Rents are so high that few new mid-price high-quality restaurants can afford to open and survive. So we have a succession of decent but unexceptional — mostly ethnic – eateries or places with large and noisy bars that appeal to post-college twenty-somethings who increasingly populate the less fancy blocks of the UES. For a brief time, pushing against the tide, chef/owner Joseph D’Angelo opened a serious Italian restaurant, Spigolo, that earned two stars in the New York Times, and brought grown up diners a menu that was inventive and sophisticated at prices that did not break the bank. Inevitably, perhaps, as business slowed during the recession, it moved from the low eighties on Second Avenue to the high seventies and, in 2015, gave up the ghost and closed. Now, the same team that brought us Spigolo has opened Copper Kettle Kitchen (in Spigolo’s old quarters), based on an altogether different concept and formula. Casual and homey. Grazing and sharing. Farm to Table. Comfort food. These are the operative terms used to describe the menu which is divided into Dips, Flats, Greens & Grains, Daily Presses (Sandwiches), Comforts (Small Plates) and Features for Two plus [...]

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Rocco Steakhouse – Great Steak Served with a Warm Welcome

02/11/2016

If lineage is everything in steak houses – and it is – Rocco descends from royalty. It all goes back to Peter Luger, New York’s legendary steak house (actually in Brooklyn) which opened in 1887, when Williamsburg was a German neighborhood and not even slightly hip. Peter Luger’s former headwaiter begat Wolfgang’s. And two of Wolfgang’s co-owners plus its Executive Chef begat Rocco, Manhattan’s newest steakhouse in fashionable NoMad land. It opened five months ago. Which is why a friend and I, courtesy of Rocco, were at the restaurant. We were eager to discover whether the treasured secrets of cooking and serving fine dry-aged steaks had been passed to another generation. Steakhouse menus don’t change very much. For decades they have been a form of male-bonding comfort food, with wives and girlfriends relegated to second place. They boast great seafood appetizers, a limited array of soups and salads, about ten versions of prime beef, some fish and chicken for the ladies, classic sides – like creamed spinach – and a limited selection of calorie-busting deserts. The Bar The Bar Dining Room What has changed is the increasing presence of affluent working women as welcomed and pampered customers. This was apparent [...]

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The Malt House – A Surprisingly Good American Tavern You Can Afford

01/22/2016

The next time you are in the NYU area and crave a great hamburger, a glass of beer and other American munchies (chicken wings, onion rings, etc.), stop by The Malt House. You won’t be disappointed. The Malt House Exterior The Malt House Interior Opened by two Brits four years ago –and so successful that a two-floor second branch opened in the Financial District eight months ago — The Malt House serves the kind of American comfort food that goes with sports nights, meeting friends after work or over the weekend for brunch. Chef Armando Avilla hails from STK and 5 Napkin Burger, and he’s put together an enticing menu. Onion Rings Cheese Curds Chicken Wings At a recent press tasting the outstanding appetizers were the Battered Onion Rings with a wonderful bacon flavor ($11). It was hard to stop scarfing them down. The only reason I stopped was to try the amazing Panko fried Cheddar Cheese Curds ($11). Instead of landing with a thud, as some cheese curds often due, they were light and airy and went down like butter. Only my fear of cholesterol overload kept me from mainlining them. The ample portion of spicy BFG Wings (Baked [...]

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The Malt House – A Surprisingly Good American Tavern You Can Afford

01/22/2016

The next time you are in the NYU area and crave a great hamburger, a glass of beer and other American munchies (chicken wings, onion rings, etc.), stop by The Malt House. You won’t be disappointed. The Malt House Exterior The Malt House Interior Opened by two Irishmen four years ago –and so successful that a two-floor second branch opened in the Financial District eight months ago — The Malt House serves the kind of American comfort food that goes with sports nights, meeting friends after work or over the weekend for brunch. Chef Armando Avila hails from STK and 5 Napkin Burger, and he’s put together an enticing menu. Onion Rings Cheese Curds Chicken Wings At a recent press tasting the outstanding appetizers were the Battered Onion Rings with a wonderful bacon flavor ($11). It was hard to stop scarfing them down. The only reason I stopped was to try the amazing Panko fried Cheddar Cheese Curds ($11). Instead of landing with a thud, as some cheese curds often due, they were light and airy and went down like butter. Only my fear of cholesterol overload kept me from mainlining them. The ample portion of spicy BFG Wings (Baked [...]

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Class Distinctions: Dutch Painting in the Age of Rembrandt and Vermeer

12/02/2015

If you find yourself in Boston during the next two months, don’t miss a splendid exhibition, now at the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA): Class Distinctions: Dutch Painting in the Age of Rembrandt and Vermeer. There are no plans for it to travel in the U.S., so this is your only chance. The exhibition not only brings together 75 extraordinary 17th century Dutch paintings by Vermeer, Rembrandt, Hals, Steen, de Hooch and others, many never before seen in the U.S., but views them through the fascinating lens of social class – upper, middle and lower – then groups them thematically within each class. Themes include  “Women at Work,” “Nobles and Aspiring Nobles,” “Regents and Wealthy Merchants,” etc. This curatorial device works. It forces us to look closely at each painting and to reflect more broadly on the culture of 17th Century Holland as depicted in these canvasses. That culture included the possibility of upward mobility, the creation of paintings for the open market, and the surprising diversity of roles for women at every level of society. Street Musicians at the Door  As exhibition curator Ronni Baer notes, “These carefully selected paintings allow us to glimpse the ways rank and status [...]

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Elegance is Never Out of Date

11/19/2015

In these depressing times, with Paris under siege, this exhibition will remind you of beautiful, chic Paris, and why French women, in particular, are still the embodiment of elegance and style. In the 1950s, when Richard Avedon photographed Jacqueline De Ribes, then in her mid-twenties, France was still the capital of fashion, food, film, literature and culture. And Vicomtesse Jacqueline De Ribes was already recognized as the epitome of French style, one of those impossibly elegant – yet modern – beauties, like Audrey Hepburn, whose swan neck, refined profile and couture clothes were familiar to fashionistas on both sides of the Atlantic. (Top: Portrait by Richard Avedon, 1955) Portrait by Richard Avedon (1962) William Klein Photo in Vogue, 1967 Jacqueline De Ribes is now in her eighties, still active, still elegant, and still a class act. Sensitive to the tragic events in Paris, she decided to cancel her attendance at the opening of this exhibition. She felt it would appear unseemly to celebrate at a time of such deep sadness in France. But she sent her gratitude to her friends at the Met, and her hope that “the exhibition will represent the joy associated with the freedom of creation.” Harold Korda, Curator of [...]

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Surprising Sicily: Part Five – Palermo

11/18/2015

Palermo, the capital of Sicily, has been the vital heart of the Island since the 9th Century. Its architecture, neighborhoods, people, art and food are a fusion of cultures and styles — Arabic, Baroque, Norman, Hebraic, and African – as generations of invaders have come, ruled, and ultimately been ejected. (Top: Cathedral of Palermo) It’s a beautifully situated port city, surrounded by dramatic mountains, dotted with lovely parks, graceful piazzas, and broad boulevards, and is home to some knockout ancient treasures. It’s a bustling, wealthy, modern city, as well, which is perfectly clear as one drives through its prosperous outer ring towards its historic center. Despite the city’s many attractions, many people think of Palermo as a fairly scary place, Mafia dominated, with extremes of poverty, high crime, and dark alleyways. In the back of my mind, that’s what I expected, perhaps because of all those post-World War II histories that emphasized how Mafia boss Lucky Luciano was taken out of a U.S. prison and brought over to Palermo to help smooth the way for the Allied invasion. There may have been some truth to that point of view in the 1950s and 60s but, happily, times have changed. Most surprising, [...]

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Surprising Sicily: Part Four – Villa Romana del Casale

11/11/2015

One of the unexpected lessons of travel is discovering how much of what we think of as “modern” is actually as old as civilization itself.  So, for example, if you think today’s mania for lifting weights and going to the gym is something new, think again!  (Top: Mosaic from early 4th Century Roman Villa) Mosaic of Elephant, Sailor and Dolphin As one of the exquisite mosaics from a 4th Century Roman Villa (Villa Romana del Casale) stunningly shows, women of wealth and leisure were toning their bodies, in bikinis, no less, centuries ago. Equally remarkable, artists – reputedly from North Africa – were capturing the lifestyles of the rich and famous – hunting scenes, children’s games, nautical travel, animals, birds, flowers, etc.  – in three-dimensional mosaics on the floors of a vast series of buildings, perhaps a country house or hunting lodge, belonging to a wealthy and important Roman. The villa, south west of Piazza Amerina, was in use until a 12th Century mudslide covered and preserved it all. Only in 1950 was it discovered and did excavations – still ongoing — begin. The quality of these mosaics and the insight they provide into upper class Roman life – which in [...]

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Surprising Sicily: Part Three – The Southeast

11/08/2015

Noto Over the centuries, Sicily has suffered from innumerable natural disasters, including devastating earthquakes. One in particular, the earthquake of 1693, flattened a number of towns and villages in southwest Sicily. Paradoxically, it resulted in rebuilt villages of great beauty whose architects embraced the then fashionable and impressive Baroque style. (Top: The Duomo and Piazza del Municipo) The Duomo Porta Reale Palazza Ducezio Via Nicolaci and Monte Verginie Church Palazzo Villadorata with Balconies and Sculpted Buttresses Church Exterior Church Interior Balcony for Nuns Noto is perhaps the most bedazzlingly Baroque city of all. In fact, with its broad, car free main street  – Corso Vittorio Emanuele – which one enters via the monumental Porta Reale, it feels a bit like a stage set for an Italian opera. The Corso is lined with one splendid palace, church, monastery, nunnery and municipal building after another, culminating in the over-the-top, twin-towered Duomo, completed in 1776.  In scale and drama, it’s the city’s piece de resistance, and not soon forgotten.                 Ragusa  Approaching Ragusa Ragusa Ibla Viewed from Above, Next to 15th Century Church, Santa Maria della Scala Ragusa Rooftops Piazza del Duomo, San Giorgio Church Also decimated by [...]

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Surprising Sicily: Part Two – Siracusa 

11/04/2015

Layers of Siracusa’s two-and-a-half-thousand-year history are visible in its rich architecture and archeological remains. Our first stop, on an exceedingly hot morning in mid-September, was the city’s famous Archeological Park. For me, its top attraction was the beautifully situated Greek Theatre where it is said that Aeschylus attended performances of his own plays, and theatergoers perched on the top benches could see the sea. Greek Theater from Above Temple of Apollo in Ortigia View of Fish & Produce Market However, most of the ancient city is situated on the island of Ortigia, linked to the mainland by several bridges. It’s now the charming heart of old Siracusa, with narrow alleyways, cafes, restaurants and shops, as well as significant remnants of ancient visitors, ranging from Archimedes, (287- 212 B.C.), famous mathematician and scientist of ancient Greece, to the Temple of Apollo. There is also a tiny Jewish Quarter, with an intact, underground Mikvah. Piazza Archimedes Piazza del Duomo Interior of Catholic Church with Greek Columns Ortigia Street Ortigia Alleyway Anchoring Piazza Archimedes, lined with restored medieval buildings, is a graceful 20th Century fountain, depicting nymph Arethusa (the symbol of Ortigia.). And presiding over the large and beautiful Piazza del Duomo is [...]

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Surprising Sicily: Part One – East Sicily and the Ionian Coast

10/27/2015

Eleanor Foa Dienstag recently spent two weeks touring Sicily. This is the first part of her  series, this time covering East Sicily and the Ionian Coast.  For decades, what have we thought of when we thought about Sicily? Barren earth; old women dressed in black; Mafiosi; unemployment; an impenetrable Italian dialect, and an almost medieval village way of life.  (Top photo: Mt. Etna – Viewed from Fiumefreddo) Recently, we’ve been hearing about another Sicily, a land of villas and vineyards, with UNESCO-designated archeological sites, Baroque churches; sandy beaches, a unique cuisine, agriturism resorts,  attracting everyone from back packers to sophisticated travelers. I wanted to go. Preferring not to join a large group or drive myself, my friend Anne and I hired a car/driver/guide via Handy Sicily, on the Internet, and set out on a journey of 11 days and 10 nights, enough time to almost circle the Island, with important detours to its interior. Paolo Mortellaro A girl could get used to a car and driver. It was the best decision we made. We were in good hands with Paolo Mortellaro, who took us on a stress-free journey whose highlights we are still happily recollecting. Almost everything I’d imagined about Sicily was [...]

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Byblos – Lebanese in NoMad

10/18/2015

In this constantly changing city, very few Manhattan neighborhoods have changed as rapidly as what is now called NoMad (north of Madison Square Park), especially around 29th Street west of Madison Avenue. Once a district of low rent retail and wholesale businesses, it’s in the midst of a dramatic revival, with new hotels, condos and restaurants attracting a young, hip, affluent crowd. It may still be a bit dingy around the edges, but not for long. Interior – Bar Among the many fine places to dine is Byblos, a large, seriously Lebanese restaurant that moved, in 2012, from Murray Hill, where it flourished for 20 years.  It’s open for lunch and dinner seven days a week. Saturday evening is Lebanese Night, which means live music and belly dancing from 9:30 on. The kitchen is presided over by Restaurateur/Chef Sabeh Kachouch, and the front of the house by his wife, Sonia, a welcoming presence. Olives, Radishes, etc. Waiter Pouring Water with a Flourish Interior of Restaurant If you love mezze – and who doesn’t – the ones whipped up at Byblos are as good as they get. Just the mezze alone would make a perfect lunch or light dinner, as well [...]

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La Sirene: French Bistro Fare at Its Best

07/18/2015

For reasons that elude me, the city is drowning in moderately priced Italian restaurants while French restaurants of the same ilk continue to diminish. Fortunately, there are a few hardy souls still striving to bring us classic French bistro fare, among them restaurateur/chef Didier Pawlicki, a whirling dervish who manages and does a lot of the cooking in three small restaurants (presumably with still reasonable rents) in the East Village and Soho. He commutes between them on his motorcycle. Chef Pawlicki La Sirene, at the corner of Varick and Broome (near The Film Forum), is celebrating its eighth year in business, and dinner there will tell you why it continues to succeed when so many others fail. The food is wonderful, authentic, home made and portions are generous. It may not be in your neighborhood but it’s my definition of a great, unpretentious neighborhood bistro, a place you can take a date, meet friends or share dinner with colleagues (as a long table of women were doing the night we were there). At a recent press dinner we each ordered what we wanted off the menu, then shared and sampled each other’s dishes. Cheese Tartlet Country Paté Our appetizers were [...]

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The Stones of Block Island

07/11/2015

When I travel, I don’t spend a lot of time with guidebooks that tell me, in painstaking detail, what monuments and cathedrals to visit or how to best arrange my days. I like to be surprised.  Of course, I run the risk of missing “must see” places, but I prefer having my eyes on the new sights and sounds around me rather than in a book or on a cell phone. Given my studious avoidance of touristy facts, I had no idea what to expect when I was invited to stay on Block Island for a few days before the July 4th weekend. It’s the least well known of the three islands – Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket being the other two – within driving (and ferry) distance of New York City. National Hotel from Harbor It turns out that Block Island itself is tiny – about 10 square miles – shaped a bit like a pork chop, with fewer than 1,000 year-round residents. But, as I discovered, the Island offers all the beaches, bike rides, hiking trails, fishing, sailing, and tourist amenities of its larger cousins. Victorian Houses A Visitor Center is just steps from where ferries dock, as are [...]

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Ponty Bistro: French-African Restaurant Worth Seeking Out

05/23/2015

If you love French food – with imaginative, African spices – then it’s definitely worth seeking out Ponty Bistro, in the Gramercy Park area. The...

Ponty Bistro: French-African Restaurant Worth a Visit

05/23/2015

If you love French food – with imaginative, African spices – then it’s definitely worth seeking out Ponty Bistro, in the Gramercy Park area. The...

Western Fantasies of China in Fashion & Art

05/07/2015

We have come to expect visual fireworks from Andrew Bolton, Curator of the Anna Wintour Costume Institute, and this year’s extravaganza is no exception. China:...

New York Landmarks, Past and Present

04/25/2015

New York City has gone through convulsions of building construction and destruction since it’s earliest days as an American seaport and commercial capital. Even Walt...

Easter Bonnets on Parade

04/07/2015

A sure sign of Spring is New York City’s one-and-only Easter Parade on Fifth Avenue. While some New Yorkers were reluctant to give up their...

Balzem Restaurant: Mediterranean in Little Italy

04/03/2015

“And tell me what street, compares with Mott Street in July?” Line from the 1925 popular song, “Manhattan” by Lorenz Hart & Richard Rogers When I...

Two New Exhibitions at the Met: From Pre-Modern Native Indian Art to Post-Modern Photography

03/19/2015

A breathtakingly beautiful exhibition of North American Plains Indian art recently opened at the Met. Adena Pipe, 1st Century BC Many of the 130 pieces...

Captain Linnaeus Tripe: Photographs of India and Burma From the 1850s

02/27/2015

It’s exceedingly rare to come across a new – and virtually unknown – master photographer who, when photography was in its infancy, produced an outstanding...

Hebrew Illumination For Our Time: The Art of Barbara Wolff

02/16/2015

You Renew the Face of the Earth from Psalm 104. The Morgan Library and Museum, well known for its collection of medieval and Renaissance manuscripts,...

Le Village: French Petit Bistro

01/06/2015

Restaurants change with the times. Table Verte, which I enthusiastically reviewed when it first opened as a French Vegetarian Bistro about a year ago  (see...

Mr. Turner – The Beauty of Art Juxtaposed with the Reality of Life

12/23/2014

If you want to see a film whose every frame is as beautifully composed as a painting, go see British Director Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner....

From Dresner’s to Flight

12/19/2014

As neighborhoods change, so do neighborhood restaurants. A recent example in my neighborhood has been the closing of Dresner’s, a beloved UES establishment whose low...

Cooper Hewitt Museum Reopens

12/12/2014

Cooper Hewitt is back and New Yorkers will be thrilled with the results. Closed for three years, while its East 91st Street Carnegie Mansion home...

The Imitation Game – Breaking the Code

11/28/2014

The Imitation Game, if nothing else, confirms the enormous talent of the British actor, Benedict Cumberbatch. Not only is he a compelling performer but someone...

Asymmetric: A Morality Tale Wrapped in a Spy Thriller

11/18/2014

If you love Homeland, then you will love Asymmetric. In this play, we are plunked down in the midst of a fast-paced drama about four...

Genesis: Salgado at ICP

11/11/2014

The International Center of Photography (ICP), conveniently located at Sixth Avenue and 43rd Street, is moving down to Noho, near the New Museum, for the usual...

Exquisite Early Photographs of Yosemite

11/07/2014

Reproductions on this site – or anywhere else – cannot do justice to the 36 photographs of Yosemite Valley created by self-taught photographer – who...

Leaf Peeping – And Much More – In Door County, Wisconsin

11/05/2014

Recently, I went leaf peeping in an unexpected place for a New Yorker, Door County, Wisconsin, a 70-mile thumb of land that juts out into...

Spiegel: Israeli-Moroccan Restaurant

10/02/2014

Shmulik Avital, an Israeli whose parents are Moroccan, is one of those people who turns his fantasies into reality. For example, a passionate motorcycle rider,...

Pride – Two Unlikely Groups Unite for a Cause

09/19/2014

Pride, a British drama-comedy, is the feel-good movie of the Fall. It opens in New York September 26. If you liked, The Full Monty and...

Charles James: Beyond Fashion at the Met

05/07/2014

After a ribbon cutting by Michelle Obama to open the renovated Costume Institute, now named the Anna Wintour Costume Center, a none-too-happy press corps, unaccustomed...

Roof Garden “Pavilion” at the Met

04/30/2014

This year’s site-specific rooftop installation is a graceful structure – curved steel and two-way mirrored glass – that is both transparent and also reflects visitors...

Da Marcella – Affordable Taverna in Greenwich Village

04/30/2014

The place is tiny (46 people), the food delicious, the location midway between my two favorite downtown art movie houses (Film Forum and Angelika), and...

Postcards from Central Park

04/22/2014

New Yorkers, and visitors from around the world, swarmed Central Park this weekend, finally released from winter coats and indoor pursuits. Nature, a bit late this...

The AIPAD Photography Show, New York

04/11/2014

For collectors, students, museum goers, and lovers of photography, the annual AIPAD show, at the Park Avenue Armory for the next four days, is always...

The Math Museum Is Fun!

04/10/2014

I never liked math; I’ve never been good at math, but I love New York’s year-old National Museum of Mathematics (MoMath). I’ve been there twice...

Macy’s Secret Garden

04/07/2014

For two weeks in the spring, Macy’s ground floor is turned into a flower show attracting flower lovers from near and far. Although the show...

Spring Break in Rural Texas? Yes, Texas!

04/03/2014

Part II Brenham, heart of the Bluebonnet region and County Seat, is the best place to start your tour of the area, whether it’s picking...

Wildflower Season in Texas

04/02/2014

Part 1 Wondering where to go on your next Spring or Fall vacation? Here is an off-the-wall suggestion for sophisticated East Coast travelers. How about Central Texas? Or more particularly, Washington County, halfway between Houston and Austin. Never heard of it? I hadn’t either. Lush, undulating green meadows — dotted with grazing cattle and horses — roll out along ribbons of highway edged with white fences and meadows of wildflowers. Washington County, halfway between Houston and Austin is the heart of wildflower country, the place to be, especially in the Spring, when Bluebonnets are at their peak. (April 12 & 13 is the 50th Anniversary of the Bluebonnet Festival and attracts hordes of Bluebonnet crazed Texans.) Grazing Cows Highway with White Fence This is not hardscrabble Texas. It’s more like the Berkshires, upscale second-home ranch-country for wealthy Texans, where many ultimately retire to launch their second careers, like running a winery (there are three in the area), opening a B&B, or a restaurant. I went to Washington County for the Bluebonnets (the state flower of Texas), and even though, due to a cold Spring, they were not at their peak, I fell in love with the region’s landscape, history, and [...]

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Angus Club – Excellent New Midtown Steakhouse

03/12/2014

Meat is back. Steakhouses are in. Alongside the rising tide of vegan/vegetarian restaurants in New York, menus are overflowing with pork belly, bacon, burgers and steaks that sprawl far and wide. As in politics, we are a divided nation. (Photo above,  Restaurant Upstairs Dining Area.) Restaurant Exterior Restaurant Upstairs Bar Catching the upscale steak wave is Manhattan’s brand new Angus Club Steakhouse. Discreetly situated on a quiet midtown side street, Angus Club is sleek, modern and luxurious, in a leather-and-wood Art Deco way. Housed in an impressive two-story space – with upstairs and downstairs dining rooms and bars, a large wine cellar and private rooms well suited to corporate events – it does feel more like a serene private club than a noisy steak joint. Downstairs Wine Cellar Executive Chef Edward Avduli Angus Club is owned and operated by four friends with, collectively, decades of experience in the steakhouse business. Located in the same midtown neighborhood as Sparks, Gallaghers, BLT Steak, Pietro’s, and Wollensky’s, among others, it aims to give the competition a serious run for their money, and may well succeed. The food – from appetizers to desserts — is terrific. At a recent press dinner, the appetizers were outstanding. One could [...]

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El Maguey Y La Tuna – Mexican Food on the Far Lower East Side

02/26/2014

Should you find yourself on the far Lower East Side – say, for a visit to the Tenement Museum – with a hankering for unpretentious and inexpensive Mexican food, you would do well to check out El Maguey Y La Tuna. A colorful, casual, family run place — owned by a father-daughter team – it specializes in home-style rustic, regional Mexican dishes, with an accent on original family recipes from Puebla, and friendly service. Family Member Making Drinks Family Member Holding Two Drinks Cactus Salad Cilantro Dressing Pancita Warm Tortillas El Maguey migrated from Williamsburg to the Lower East Side ten years ago. Its chiles and spices are imported and its moles freshly made, “The same way my grandmother taught my mother.” Try an excellent Fresh Guava or Fresh Melon Margarita ($9) to start. With an order of Guacamole & Chips ($8.95), and Mexican music playing in the background, you’ll feel the atmosphere is totally authentic. More unusual appetizer choices might include a light, refreshing and healthy Cactus Salad with cilantro sauce ($8.95) — lots of fiber in cactus — or a hot, spicy tripe soup, Pancita ($8), served with warm homemade tortillas, chopped onions and lime. In Mexico, the [...]

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The Drunken Munkey: Anglo-Indian Family Recipes and Craft Cocktails on the Upper East Side

02/15/2014

The Drunken Munkey, like its odd-spelling name, is a quirky, cozy, and charming cocktail restaurant that serves delicious food based on Anglo-Indian recipes from owner Arun Mirchandani’s mother’s kitchen. The word is already out on this little gem, a bright spot on a quiet street in the East 90s, a neighborhood whose dining options have shrunk since construction began on the Second Avenue subway. The place hummed with families and couples the night we were there, amid a general atmosphere of informal bonhomie. The restaurant is the culmination of a childhood dream of Mirchandani, to open a craft cocktail bar in New York, one inspired by his family’s Anglo-Indian culture and cuisine, as well as the cafes and bistros of Old Bombay. Bar Area Immediately noticeable in this relatively small space is the large, impressive and well-stocked bar. It dominates the room. And Mirchandani’s two-page “East India Beverage Selection” boasts a wide variety of exotic Spirits (Fine Rums, over a dozen Single Malt Scotch varieties, Cognacs, Digestifs) plus specialty cocktails and wines. If you’ve been hankering to order a Singapore Sling, a Hemingway Daiquiri, a Pimms No.1 Cup, an Aviation Cocktail, Mulled Port – or the restaurant’s “Paanch of the [...]

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Capa in Color

02/07/2014

Robert Capa (born Endre Friedmann in Budapest in 1913), was the greatest black-and-white war photographer and photojournalist of his generation. As Cynthia Young, Curator of this exhibition and the Capa archive, notes, he “documented some of the most important political events of Western Europe in the mid-twentieth century.” Capa leapt to fame in 1938 with his haunting images of the Spanish Civil War. He covered four more wars – the Sino-Japanese War, World War II, the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and Indochina, where he died in 1954 by stepping on a land mine. A humanist who loved the people he photographed, he forever set the standard for war photographers, and is famous for saying, “If your pictures aren’t good enough, it’s because you’re not close enough.” A mechanic signals for takeoff to an Allied pilot in England before a raid over Occupied France, 1941. This is a landmark exhibition – with 100 contemporary prints and related materials drawn exclusively from ICP archives — and part of ICP’s yearlong celebration of the 100th anniversary of Capa’s birth. As Young points out, Capa’s color work is “essentially unknown”. It completely disappeared from view until this show, in part due to the technological challenges [...]

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Dopo East’s Inspired Young Chef

01/30/2014

Modern Italian cuisine bears little resemblance to the heavy pastas and tomato-drenched sauces of yore. Like modern American cuisine, it is focused on presenting locally sourced, organically grown food in a manner that is healthy, delicious, light and gorgeously presented. Backyard Garden Interior of Restaurant and Garden Bar Area Dopo East’s inspired young chef, Patrizio D’Andrea, is a practitioner of new Italian cuisine. He operates out of a pleasantly appointed East Side town house with a backyard garden (open in warm weather) and lovely art on the walls from the Artioli Findlay Gallery. Based on a recently enjoyed tasting menu, courtesy of the restaurant, D’Andrea is a major talent. His food – with a few exceptions – is stunning.  Caprese Piovra alla Griglia Bottle of Nozzole 2010 The night we dined was brutally cold, so we were delighted to be served a small cup of “Welcome Broth,” a delicious chicken and veal consommé that hit the spot. This unexpected and gracious gesture set the tone for the evening’s refined pleasures. We began with the restaurant’s excellent Caprese ($14), an artfully composed red-white-and-green “still life” comprised of peeled organic tomatoes, basil sprouts, fresh Buffalo mozzarella kept warm and reformed to bring [...]

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Two Diverse Exhibitions Open at the Met

01/15/2014

Early American Guitars: The Instruments of C.F. Martin Eric Clapton playing his 1939, 14-Fret 000-42 Martin Guitar The Met, known the world over for its blockbuster exhibitions, now seems to be heading in the exact opposite direction, highlighting a series of small shows aimed at diverse and narrowly-focused audiences, often underwritten by others. Recently, they mounted the highly controversial JAR jewelry exhibition. This week they’ve opened two additional small shows that may be fascinating for connoisseurs of distinct art genres, but will not, I venture to guess, be to everyone’s taste. Personally, and much to my surprise, I preferred the Early American Guitars exhibition to the one-room presentation of Piero della Francesca’s Devotional Paintings. But, as is befitting of an institution with the breadth and depth of the Met, we are fortunate to be offered – for our pleasure and education — these unusual gems, each of which is fascinating in its own way. Early American Guitars Signage Photo of Charles Frederick Martin (1796 -1873) In all my years of museum going at the Met, I have to confess that I’ve never ventured into the musical instrument wing. Now, I’m happy to say, I’ve rectified that omission due to a [...]

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Buddhi Thapa: A New York Immigrant’s Life (and Death) -Dear Readers: Step Up and Make A Difference

12/15/2013

We are a city of immigrants. We come here to escape poverty and political repression, to make a better life for ourselves, our families, our...

New American Cuisine With A New Orleans Accent

12/10/2013

East midtown is chockablock with restaurants, but it’s hard to find really good food – for lunch or dinner — at reasonable prices in a...

Dazzling Contemporary Jewelry at the Met

11/21/2013

If you like your jewelry over-the-top, the Met has just the exhibition for you: Jewels by Jar. It’s the first show focused on a contemporary...

Graphic Comics as a Serious Art Form

11/08/2013

Art Spiegelman, whose parents survived Auschwitz, but whose mother later committed suicide, grew up in Queens, New York. As a young boy he fell in...

William Kentridge: The Refusal of Time

10/31/2013

William Kentridge, born, raised and still living in Johannesburg, is a visual artist and man of ideas. As a white, anti-apartheid South African, his art...

Two Point Oh – Love in the Time of Technology

10/08/2013

Two Point Oh, by Jeffrey Jackson, is a truly fascinating play, tailor made for the Information Technology world we live in, yet very much an...

Tradition and Innovation in the East Village

09/24/2013

If you are in the East Village, looking for a good plate of pasta accompanied by a first-rate bottle of Italian wine, you might want...

Giano: Tradition and Innovation in the East Village

09/24/2013

If you are in the East Village, looking for a good plate of pasta accompanied by a first-rate bottle of Italian wine, you might want to check out Giano, named after the two-faced Roman god Janus by the restaurant’s Italian co-owners, Chef Matteo Niccoli and Wine Director Paolo Rossi. As they explain it, “The art of food is Tradition and Innovation, two sides of the same face, one looking to the future, the other to history and the past.” And true to its name, the restaurant’s physical space and menu are a mix of modern (in front) and rustic (in back), of traditional cooking and innovative spins on familiar themes. Restaurant Interior A comfortable, curved modern bar (resin over compressed Sicilian salt) is presided over by wine maven Paolo Rossi, who has assembled an impressive selection of regional Italian wines. When in doubt, place yourself in his hands and you will not be disappointed. Paolo Rossi Appetizer Plate At a recent press dinner we began with a lively Prosecco, which carried us through a troika of Appetizers, as part of our Tasting Menu. In the innovative category– among the Polenta e Funghi (spicy mushrooms and polenta) $10.95, Polpette al pomodoro [...]

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Textiles Tell Tales

09/13/2013

Remember how we were taught about Christopher Columbus and the drive to find new routes to spices in the East? Well, it seems that all...

Why We Left Brooklyn

09/07/2013

The theme isn’t all that new: one half of a couple, in this case Jason, hasn’t “made it” in New York and is leaving for...

Incognito – Italian-Scottish Bistro?

08/30/2013

Yes – Italian Scottish. And as odd as that sounds, If you allow yourself to be initially guided in your menu choices by Paolo Montana...

The MasalaWala: A New Destination Restaurant For Indian Food Lovers

08/14/2013

A terrific little Indian restaurant, far from the madding crowd of East 6th Street, has popped up on the trendy Lower East Side, on Essex Street,...

A Hip Art Museum in Downtown Chicago

08/09/2013

Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) Tucked away near Water Tower Place in downtown Chicago (opening photo) – between North Lake Shore Drive and the John...

A Potpourri of Paris Parks

07/24/2013

Paris parks look and feel remarkably different from New York City’s parks. More formal and floral, they are often integrated into front and back courtyards...

Paris Parks: A Walk on the Green Side

07/23/2013

Parks reflect the soul of a culture. So while Parisians are mired in angst about their economy, unemployment, taxes and role in the world, as...

Gradisca – Italian Dining in the West Village

06/12/2013

New York is a tough restaurant town, but some restaurants quietly keep on going because their food is great, their service warm and their prices...

Edward Hopper: More Surrealist than Realist

05/31/2013

For those who came of age in mid-century America, Hopper was – and remains — emblematic of the Whitney’s role as the leading museum of...

The Brooklyn Museum – Two Not to Be Missed Exhibits

05/29/2013

For those who have never been to The Brooklyn Museum – as well as devoted visitors — two world-class exhibitions are now on view through...

Andanada: Modern Spanish Dining Near Lincoln Center

05/22/2013

Andanada has a lot going for it. Its location – near Lincoln Center, where there are never enough good dining choices at reasonable prices. Its...

Punk Never Dies

05/08/2013

The Costume Institute has done it again – fashioned an exhibition that is stunning, full of fun and glamour, and one that will undoubtedly be...

Photography and the American Civil War: The Camera Went Everywhere

04/05/2013

War is hell, and this somber exhibition of the first war to be visually documented and conveyed to the public by the camera, then a...

Bill Brandt: Shadow & Light

03/08/2013

For those interested in the history of photography, Bill Brandt: Shadow & Light is a fascinating show that just opened at MoMA. Billed as a...

The Extraordinary in the Ordinary: James Nares’ Video, Street

03/08/2013

An unusual new video, Street, just acquired by the Met, is on view in the main gallery of the Museum’s Drawings, Prints and Photographs Galleries....

East Village Gem: A French Vegetarian Bistro

02/23/2013

Remember that wonderful advertisement whose tag line was, “You don’t have to be Jewish to love Levy’s Rye?” It came to mind as I dined...

A Guaranteed Hit at the Met

02/21/2013

When I worked in book publishing, the classic joke was that a surefire hit was simple – just publish a book called Lincoln’s Doctor’s Dog....

Oficina Latina Restaurant: Pan American Culinary Highway

02/09/2013

Cozy, funky and mellow are how I would describe Oficina Latina, a surprising Nolita bistro, whose outstanding food at affordable prices reflects the best of...

Grand Central’s Centennial – A Sight to Behold

01/31/2013

As most New Yorkers know, Grand Central Station was saved from demolition through a well-orchestrated preservation campaign led by the Municipal Art Society, and Jacqueline...

History Comes Vividly Back

01/23/2013

Curators, scholars and historians love nothing more than coming upon a treasure trove of never-before-seen materials by a significant figure in their field. Happily, two...

Thalassa: Tribeca Standout

12/17/2012

Thalassa, tucked into three levels of an historic Tribeca building, just down the street from Nobu, totally transcends its “modern Greek seafood” label. Yes, pristine...

New American Cuisine in a Landmarked Townhouse

11/19/2012

De Santos restaurant is housed in a charming, Landmarked, mid-19th Century West Village townhouse with a rakish history. The building has always been a gathering place...

Glamour Tango

11/13/2012

To launch the 7th Annual Latin American Cultural Week in NYC (November 9 – 19), an unusual and rousing all-female multi-media music and dance program,...

Fall Is the Best Time to Visit the Farmers’ Market

10/27/2012

Fall brings colorful foliage, but it also brings color to local farmers’ markets. There are red apples and tomatoes, orange pumpkins, yellow sunflowers, green beans,...

Season of the Jewish Book: Two Exhibits and One Personal Discovery

10/21/2012

Totally by chance (although maybe somebody up there is watching), two exceptional exhibits focusing on collections of rare Hebraic and Jewish Books and Manuscripts are...

FAKING IT: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop

10/13/2012

How many ways are there to manipulate a photograph? (And manipulation means that a final image differs from the initial image.) As many ways as...

Craig Ferguson Deconstructs Late Night TV

10/09/2012

Craig Ferguson is unlike any other late night comedian on American television, which is one reason his fans adore him. They were out in force...

She Asks the Tough Questions: Christiane Amanpour

09/29/2012

This Friday, a dismal day of rain and humidity in New York, a packed audience gathered in an auditorium of The Paley Center on West...

Sofia Wine Bar—Come to Decompress, Enjoy Italian Food, And Perhaps See A Star from SNL

09/14/2012

At 7 p.m. on a splendid Monday evening there were literally dozens of half empty restaurants between 50th and 51st Street on Second Avenue. But...

Regarding Warhol: Sixty Artists, Fifty Years

09/13/2012

“After Warhol, Nothing Looks the Same,” is the provocative tagline for the Met’s major Fall show, Regarding Warhol, Sixty Artists, Fifty Years. This thoughtful exhibition...

Designing Nature: The Rimpa Aesthetic in Japanese Art

09/13/2012

In terms of sheer beauty, this is a spectacular little exhibition that will doubtless draw fewer visitors than the Warhol show, but should not be...

The Hammer: Part of the Burgeoning Art Scene in L.A.

09/06/2012

Small museums have their virtues, especially for travelers who have only a few hours or days to take in the sights between business meetings or...

Mint–Regional Indian Food in a Quiet, Elegant Setting

08/23/2012

It’s refreshing to find, on the East Side of Manhattan, a quiet, elegant, affordable midtown restaurant, a place to take clients for lunch or dinner,...

Art on Park Avenue

08/21/2012

It’s summer. Take a lunchtime walk. If you’ve got kids, bring them with you. Or invite friends to stroll up Park Avenue between 52nd and...

Móle Cantina: Mexican Family Recipes

06/22/2012

Móle opened on the Upper East Side in March and on each of my three visits it has been packed. It’s easy to see why....

A Taste of Lucca

06/15/2012

The pasta of Lucca – a walled city in Tuscany — is something special. Mark Bittman of The New York Times said so a number...

Three New Exhibitions at the Met

05/16/2012

This Spring, New York’s venerable institution, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is offering us an array of goodies – in addition to Schaparelli/Prada — to...

Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations

05/09/2012

Although Miuccia Prada (born 1949) was not enthusiastic about the idea of comparing and contrasting her ideas and designs with those of another idiosyncratic Italian...

Edouard Vuillard: A Painter and His Muses

05/03/2012

Paris, between World War I and II, was a glorious era for the arts (Proust, Picasso, Matisse, Stravinsky, The Ballet Russes). It was also a...

A Stellar Cast Delivers a Funny, Colorful Take on Retirement

05/02/2012

A great comedy is a rare thing of beauty, to be savored like vintage Bordeaux. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, starring Judi Dench, Bill Nighy,...

Botanical Garden’s Orchid Show

04/20/2012

This is the final weekend of the Bronx Botanical Garden’s spectacular “Orchid Show.” Highlights include Patrick Blanc’s Vertical Gardens — walls of orchids that dazzle...

Easter Parade: A Feast for the Eyes

04/12/2012

Last Sunday, the weather was perfect: sunny, blue skies and in the 60′s. Young and old, male, female and in between came out for New...

The Conservancy Garden in Full Bloom

04/11/2012

The Conservatory Garden at 105th Street and Fifth Avenue, a six acre formal garden, whose allées of flowering pink and white crabapples are now in...

Battle of the Ages: Federer Versus Murray

04/10/2012

You would think that Federer Versus Murray,  a Scottish play first performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe about the Swiss Federer and the Scottish Murray...

Mohamed Nasheed: The Island President—A Credible and Moving Voice on Global Warming

04/03/2012

Run do not walk to see a brilliant and important new documentary film about a political and ecological hero, Mohamed Nasheed, the recently ousted President...

AIPAD Showcases Photography for Professionals and Fans

03/29/2012

This is photography week in New York City. Exhibitors and collectors from Boston to Beijing are in town to participate in The Association of International...

Fiorini—Classic Italian Fare from Lello Arpaia

03/21/2012

If you are looking for a calm, grown up midtown restaurant for lunch, after work, a movie or day of shopping, where the food is...

The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso And the Parisian Avant Garde

02/24/2012

Ten years in the making, The Steins Collect, a stunning exhibition, not only offers us great paintings by Matisse and Picasso (as well as Bonnard,...

Cindy Sherman: From the 1970s to the Present

02/23/2012

Two major exhibitions arrived in New York this week: a retrospective of Cindy Sherman at MoMA and The Steins Collect at the Met. They are,...

Vincent Chirico’s Vai—West Side Newcomer is Hot

02/06/2012

The blocks between 79th and 81st Streets on Amsterdam are chockablock with restaurants but few good ones. A newcomer, Vai, whose focus is contemporary Mediterranean...

The Renaissance Portrait: From Donatello to Bellini

12/23/2011

It’s hard to over praise this landmark exhibition. It’s so filled with ravishingly beautiful portraits – paintings, drawings, sculpture, manuscript illumination and medallions – by...

Morso—Reasonably Priced Food with a Pedigree

12/20/2011

Good news for Upper East Siders: Morso, a new, reasonably priced top-drawer contemporary Italian restaurant with Mediterranean ingredients recently opened, tucked away on the ground...

Welcome to the Neighborhood—Not!

12/08/2011

Is there anything more dangerous – or funnier – than self-righteous extremists? Yes, those who live in a gated community, as Alan Ayckbourn deftly demonstrates...

From Rainbows to Sunsets—Jet-Away to La Romana, Dominican Republic

12/03/2011

Two-week vacations are so-o-o-o 20th Century. Who has the time? Or the money? Or the patience? Today, it’s “getaways,” especially winter “getaways,” because they give...

Seniors Join the Protest in Zucotti Park

11/21/2011

We're Fifty Plus, Don't Mess With Us...

The “New Cuisine” of Mexico’s Colonial CitiesPart III – Chefs Ada Valencia and Monica Solis

11/14/2011

Forget everything you think you know about Mexican food—it’s heavy, it’s fried, it’s fattening—and come with me to discover new, sophisticated Mexican cuisine in the...

Diego Rivera Murals for The Museum of Modern Art

11/10/2011

What could be more timely in New York City, as the Occupy Wall Street movement grows and expands, than an exhibition of the murals of...

The “New Cuisine” of Mexico’s Colonial Cities: Part II – San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato

11/07/2011

Forget everything you think you know about Mexican food – it’s heavy, it’s fried, it’s fattening – and come with me to discover new, sophisticated...

The “New Cuisine” of Mexico:Part I – Mexico City and Queretero

10/31/2011

Forget everything you think you know about Mexican food – it’s heavy, it’s fried, it’s fattening – and come with me to discover new, sophisticated...

Stieglitz Reigns at the Met

10/14/2011

Didn’t we just see Stieglitz at the Met a year ago? Well, yes and no. We saw Stieglitz, Steichen, Strand, three masters of early 20th...

White and Church—Chef Matteo Boglione’s Masterpiece

09/23/2011

Owner/Chef Matteo Boglione, from Florence, is the real deal: a passionate chef turning out amazing northern Italian food — refined and beautifully presented small plates...

William deKooning at MoMA

09/16/2011

William deKooning and women belong together like ice cream and hot fudge sauce. In fact, deKooning came to the U.S. in 1926 (stowing away on...

The Select (The Sun Also Rises)

09/14/2011

Last year, Elevator Repair Service (ERS) stunned New York theatergoers with a six-hour production, Gatz, a word-for-word dramatization of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby....

Gay Pride Parade—A Joyous Celebration

06/27/2011

Sunday’s Gay Pride Parade down Fifth Avenue, following on the heels of New York State’s historic vote, late Friday night, to legalize same-sex marriage......

New York’s “Garden in the Sky” Grows

06/21/2011

On opening day of The High Line, Section 2, two women, in particular, were beaming: New York City Planning Director and Chair of the City Planning Commission,......

Blue Caravan—”A Home to Feed My Guests”

06/13/2011

Chef/Owner Mei Chau loves the color blue. She loves flamenco. And quite naturally, as a native of Malaysia of Chinese heritage, she loves multi-cultural cuisine. Born in a fishing village, and raised on the family farm, she moved to New York City to study art, and ultimately opened Franklin Station Café, a French/Malaysian bistro that enjoyed a 15-year run in Tribeca. In mid-April, she opened a new “home to feed my guests,” as she puts it, and brought all her passions with her. Guitarist Arturo Martinez and Fellow Musician There is lots of blue; there is World Music (flamenco, Brazilian, African, etc.) from 7 to 10 p.m. every Monday evening (no music charge), a Jazz Brunch every Sunday from Noon to 3 p.m., and best of all, there is lots of wonderful fusion food, with a wide variety of Small Plates — as well as Large Plates — that allow you to mix and match to your heart’s content. Blue Bar Blue Bottles Owner/Chef Mei Chau with Steve, chief waiter This is a women-friendly brasserie. There may be a number of reasons why. Perhaps because Mei and her husband, Marc, whose photographs line the walls, have a created a warm [...]

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Lido—Modern Italian Becomes a Neighborhood Favorite

03/29/2011

Everything about Lido, a modern Italian restaurant located in a rapidly gentrifying section of Harlem, is a surprise, from its mixed, though predominantly white clientele to its sophisticated food, delightful service and reasonable prices. Though unpretentious and friendly – a quintessential neighborhood place – like so many destination restaurants in newly-gentrified parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn, it will soon be on every foodie’s “to-do” list. Or should be. It’s a gem. Lido, in business only a month and a half, was pleasantly packed on a Friday night in March. Families with babies were up front, couples and after-work girlfriends were in the back or seated along the inviting, candlelit red oak bar. We were welcomed and seated by co-owner Suzannah Koteen, a neighborhood resident who envisioned refined, seasonal, locally sourced Italian food, and found a four-time James Beard award-winning chef, Stephen Putnam, to execute her dream. We chose an Italian white wine, Terre Da Vino Roero Arneis 2009 ($10 per glass, $34 per bottle,) unusually rich and complex, to go with our outstanding assortment of Crostini ($3.50 each). As guests of the restaurant, when it came to appetizers, we placed ourselves in the hands of our delightful waitress, Susie (see [...]

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Intimations of Spring

03/23/2011

On the first warm day of Spring, with everyone out on the streets and dulcet breezes blowing, it was pure pleasure to stroll past the Mayor’s hyacinths......

Alma 33—Argentinean Cuisine in a Friendly Environment

02/21/2011

Alma 33, a new, Argentinean-inspired restaurant has a lot going for it. The prices are wonderfully affordable. The staff is friendly and eager to please. And peering in at night through its wide windows, the large bar area is wonderfully inviting. Someone has put a great deal of thought into creating an irresistible neighborhood bar and restaurant that turns out to be a fabulous place to meet friends for a drink, linger over some exceptional appetizers or enjoy a reasonably-priced dinner in the rear dining area. That someone is owner Richard Lusardi, a New Yorker of Argentinean descent, who has clearly poured his heart and soul into this space (Alma, in Spanish, means “soul”) with its candlelit, warm wood interior that seems to glow. Lusardi, though only 35, is no novice. He has spent years in the restaurant business, managing teams at Craft, The Beacon and Windows on the World. He clearly understands the big and little things—like hooks underneath the bar for ladies’ pocketbooks—that draw people to a place, and keep them coming back. Lusardi, who keeps his eyes on things from behind the bar, is as warm and friendly as the restaurant he’s hand built. And he’s exceptionally [...]

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New York in Black and White

01/29/2011

For a short time after a fresh snowfall, New York is a masterpiece in black and white. Wrought iron fences hold onto the fluffy white stuff creating beautiful......

Max—Authentic Southern Italian Trattoria

12/15/2010

“It’s all about the quality of the tomatoes and oil,” says owner/chef Luigi Iasilli, who presides over his home-style Italian restaurant as though it were, well, his home. Which in a way it is since many of this authentic trattoria’s Southern Italian dishes are original family recipes recreated for our pleasure at Iasilli’s two downtown restaurants, one in the East Village, where I recently dined, and the other, a more upscale version, on Duane Street (Between Greenwich and Hudson) in Tribeca. Iasilli, from Potenza, a village southeast of Naples, emigrated to New York City 14 years ago and opened Max 11 years ago. (The restaurant’s name was inspired by a monthly Italian lifestyle magazine, Max, which focused on the U.S. and inspired his move to New York). Iasilli is fanatic about the quality of his ingredients. ”Seventy percent of my menu is tomato sauce, which is why I use only imported organic tomatoes and imported organic oil from Tuscany.” Like an enthusiastic host, whose informality and lack of pretention are refreshing, he bounds to the kitchen and proudly places his key ingredients on the table for us to inspect. Max’s bread is from Il Forno; his pasta is Cecco; his [...]

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Sel et Poivre—Left Bank on the East Side

11/10/2010

My favorite part of France is Provence, in part because of its wonderful food. Among my fondest memories is devouring a delicious fish soup in an unpretentious bistro on a warm spring day in Avignon. Unlike Bouillabaise, its more famous cousin, it is strained or pureed and accompanied by divine dollops of rouille (garlicky aioli with a peppery kick), thin slices of toasted French bread, and grated cheese. (I am a sucker for a good rouille, which I first discovered in Julia Child’s Mastering The Art of French Cooking, page 50.) So imagine my delight when I recently came upon that same, wonderful fish soup (rouille and all) in an unpretentious but charming East Side French bistro, Sel et Poivre, reasonably priced at just $7.95. Sel et Poivre, which opened in 1989, is now the love child of husband-and-wife Pamela and Christian Schienle. Originally launched by Pamela and her mother, who retired a few years ago, Pamela oversees the 65-seat dining room and full-service bar, and Christian presides over the kitchen as Executive Chef and Wine Director. The Schienles have put together a winning combination for those of us who like affordable French food, a cosy candlelit setting and friendly, [...]

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Lennon Fans Enjoy a Rockin’ Birthday Celebration

10/12/2010

Beatles’ historian, Martin Lewis, a self-confessed “Johnaholic,” hosted a joyful, down-home, rocking birthday concert to celebrate John Lennon’s......

El Barrio—Lively Scene in August

08/16/2010

El Barrio on a Saturday in August is a riot of color. Salsa music — recorded and live — is playing on almost every corner. People congregate outside,......

People Watching New York Style

08/02/2010

It is the wonderful mix of people — their faces, colors, outfits, attitude, zaniness — that makes New York so special. Walking a New York Street is......

Matisse: Radical Invention, 1913-1917

07/20/2010

You don’t have to be an art historian or curator to love this exhibition, although it helps. For passionate Matisse lovers who couldn’t care less about......

Le Périgord—Classic French Food Bliss

07/14/2010

Twenty years ago my parents, with refined European palettes of the first order, hosted their 50th wedding anniversary dinner in the private party room......

Art, Architecture, and Gardens at the Getty

06/27/2010

If your summer travels take you to California, put a visit to The Getty Center on your list. The exhibits mix new and old but the best part may be the outdoor gardens which invite meandering and provide spectacular views of Los Angeles. Take your camera, take the kids, but most of all, take your time to enjoy. [See image gallery at www.womanaroundtown.com]

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The Getty: A Beacon Of Culture, L.A.-Style

06/27/2010

You don’t have to love art to love The Getty Center in Los Angeles. Although it helps. Yes, it’s a museum with some seriously beautiful paintings and......

Riverside Park—Photographer’s Paradise

06/20/2010

What is wonderful about New York is finding so many opportunities to take great photos. Riverside Park on a sunny day provided one possibility after another.......

Governors Island: Open for the Summer—Come Visit!

06/11/2010

Want to get away for a day? Spend the day having a picnic, riding bikes, and enjoying a fascinating art exhibit? Then visit Governors Island, the former......

Governors Island Is Changing

06/10/2010

Governors Island has just reopened for the summer season. And there is new art to view. So get out your walking shoes, bikes and picnic baskets to enjoy......

Three Museums Focus on Women

05/18/2010

Does pouring a lot of money into a show make it better? You can decide by traveling first to the Brooklyn Museum to view “American High Style: Fashioning......

A Tangled Web on the Metropolitan’s Roof

05/02/2010

Just in time for the warm weather, the Metropolitan Museum has installed a stunning display—Doug + Mike Starn’s Big Bambú. A jungle gym for adults......

Springtime Blooms in New York

04/25/2010

Suddenly, overnight, New York’s street and parks were bursting with blooms. The timing couldn’t have been better. We are so ready for spring flowers. Springtime...

Prowling the Streets with a Camera

04/12/2010

“I prowled the streets all day, feeling very strung-up and ready to pounce, determined to ‘trap’ life – to preserve life in the act of living.” Cartier-Bresson......

Here Comes the Sun—Finally!

04/11/2010

Spring is our reward for winter, and this year — after a record snowfall in February, and a record rain in March — we treasured our reward more than......

Final Acts: Death, Dying and the Choices We Make

04/04/2010

Can you name the only country in Europe that permits foreigners to receive assisted suicide? Is the right to decide when we want to die a human rights issue? Would you want the availability of a “Peaceful Pill” that would provide a reliable, pain-free death at a time of your choosing? Are you aware that there is a “Terminal Right To Know End-of-Life Option Act” in California, which says you have a legal right to information from your doctor about hospice, palliative care, refusal of life-prolonging treatments and the choice to refuse food and water to hasten death? If, like me, you did not know the answers to any of these questions and are passionately concerned with end-of-life issues—either because of aging parents or because, like most of us, you want “a good death”— then this is the book for you. Final Acts is a collection of personal stories (Part 1) and informative essays (Part 11), compiled and edited by Nan Bauer-Maglin (formerly a professor of English at Manhattan Community College, CUNY) and a professional colleague, Donna Perry. It tells you everything you ever wanted to know—and more—about the range of ways Americans expect to die vs. the reality of [...]

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Asphalt Green—An Oasis in Manhattan

03/21/2010

The Asphalt Green complex—two buildings linked by a green Super Turf athletic field—is a low-rise oasis amidst the Upper East Side’s high-rise apartment......

William Kentridge at MoMA: Five Themes

03/14/2010

I saw my first Kentridge animated film, Johannesburg, 2nd Greatest City After Paris, consisting of charcoal hand drawings for projection, over a decade......

At The Crossroads of the World, Never a Dull Moment

02/23/2010

Visually, there is never a dull moment in the Times Square area, even at high noon. Instead of flashing lights and theater-goers......

Woman Around Town: Karen Altfest: Money Management

01/31/2010

“One of the tough things for women is that they don’t have role models for handling their money,” says Karen Altfest, Principal Advisor and Executive......

Three Exhibits at the Museum of the City of New York

01/30/2010

The modest Museum of the City of New York, at 103rd Street and Fifth Avenue, is now running four fabulous shows. Well edited, they consist of: Photographs......

California Dreamin’ on Such a Winter’s Day

01/03/2010

There is a reason why the movie business wound up in L.A. It has beautiful light, especially after a cleansing......

Strolling Around the Old-New Lower East Side

11/17/2009

New York is a street-photographer’s paradise. Nowhere is the contrast between old and new more evident than......

David Hockney: Paintings 2006-2009

11/15/2009

Strolling into a Fifth Avenue or Chelsea gallery on a crisp November day and catching the latest work of world-class artists is one of the great pleasures......

Governors Island: Little-Known Park Treasure

08/31/2009

“Who knew it was this close,” said one friend. “Who knew the ferry was free,” said another. “And what a fabulous view of downtown.” Like most......

The High Line-An Architectural Gem

06/29/2009

The High Line, which opened June 9 is New York’s ultimate Cinderella—an abandoned West Side railroad line slated for demolition......

The Noho Star—A Neighborhood Place for Everyone

03/20/2009

The Noho Star is my favorite neighborhood restaurant, even though it isn’t in my neighborhood. But whenever I go to a downtown......

 



Contact me at:
Telephone 212-879-1542
E-mail at efoa@usa.net