Essential to survival in New York City is finding places where you can carve out your own space to momentarily escape the ever bustling city. The bars below not only represent well executed speakeasy experiences, clandestine entrances, and purveyors of well—crafted cocktails, but places that provide great evening refuges. When you’re done with these, check out our list of the Top 10 Hidden Restaurants in NYC.
1. 124 Old Rabbit Club
Take a page out of Alice in Wonderland and follow the rabbit down the hole into this “craft beer bar.” The yellow rabbit on the exterior of the building marks the spot and guides you into the dimly lit establishment. This bar is a great choice for the beer connoisseur as it features an extensive list of domestic and imported beers. The ’60s English rock music that plays lightly from the speakers helps to create a casual, indie, and comfortable vibe. Recommendation is to go on a week night and early since this watering hole only sits about 20 people.
124 MacDougal Street between Bleecker Street and West 3rd Street (more…)
Seems like lately I can’t have a conversation without someone mentioning Fashion Week. I realize that this is a style column, making me a style columnist, but to be honest I’m not really up to speed on proper fashion. I don’t know very much about individual designers and can’t bring myself to give a damn about trends or whether or not aubergine is in this season. What I do pay attention to is personal style–it’s not so much the garments themselves as how the person they’re draped over wears them. If there’s one thing watching a lot of movies about con artists has taught me, it’s that presentation is important–if you’re up to no good, at least make sure you look good and no one will ask questions and/or people will fall all over themselves to help you out. What do you mean, White Collar isn’t real?
Last week, I spent some time lurking around Lincoln Center in order to watch the people who like to watch fashion. Usually I take photos of my poor, unsuspecting subjects as unobtrusively as possible, but Fashion Week is an alternate universe in which people expect to have their photo taken, and are in fact probably offended and stalk home in stilettos and a black cloud of self-doubt if no one does. Someone even took my picture! I have no doubt these gentlemen’s suits were very expensive and designed by someone very important but who cares, check out those fly white sunglasses. At first it looked like the one on the right was wearing a bow tie, but it turned out that his shirt collar was a different color than the rest of it, which I thought was a really nice touch.
There were too many interesting people wandering around to keep it to one piece this week, so here’s a bonus page of loose watercolor-and-pencil sketches. Props to the fellow in the middle for managing to match his hair to his pants. If that’s not attention to detail, I don’t know what is.
The series, whose goal is to promote artwork and writing generated with the concept of the first person plural (“we”) in mind, was started last year, with great success. According to the FPP website, the series was created because the organizers “are interested in the ‘we’ because the ‘I’ does not exist in any sort of truthful singularity.” The website’s manifesto goes on to say that FPP is “interested in the collective as it manifests in all temporary forms, collaboration as it evidences moving through disagreement, and community as it situates itself locally despite all efforts to stretch it past its thinnest point.” Acclaimed cultural critic Margo Jefferson, who was one of the series’ first readers, elaborates on this concept in an interview with Untapped Cities last March.
To me, it is this spirit of striving toward a common understanding between readers and audience, between characters and writers, between artists and subject, that distinguishes the First Person Plural reading series from the myriad literary readings that NYC has to offer week after week.
I must admit that, excited though I was for the evening, as I got settled in at a table, I was somewhat skeptical about whether the presenting artists would take the theme very seriously; the aim of the series seemed enlightened, but I wondered if, in practice, the theme of the discourse would be inspiring to the participants or too theoretical to adhere to.
Luckily, my doubts were dispelled at the start of the evening; Benson, Le Melle, and Walters introduced the series quite simply, saying, “Tonight, the word is ‘we.’ We don’t know how Paul LaFarge, Lynne Tillman, and LoVid are going to respond to our theme, but we are excited to find out.” The student in me relaxed; I felt a little less like I was about to hear a lecture and a little more like I was about to enjoy myself.
Paul LaFarge reads his short story, “Another Life,” as part of the FPP series. Image courtesy of Stacy Parker Le Melle.
The first reader was Paul LaFarge, introduced as “the greatest American writer you’ve never read,” the author of several traditional novels, and more recently, an experimental interactive hypertext, Luminous Airplanes: A Hyperromance, published in print by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux in 2011. (The online version defies explanation, you just have to visit the website.) Instead of reading from his hypertext (a feat I had been interested in witnessing, to be honest), LaFarge read from a short story called “Another Life,” previously published in The New Yorker. The piece dealt with the notions of married life and freedom within the union of marriage–or lack thereof.
“[The story] has to do with this idea of ‘we’ in that it has two distinct points of view that are happening at the same time, or maybe one after another,” said LaFarge.
Next came Lynne Tillman, who was introduced as “a writer who knows that, at its best, a story shows a new way of thinking,” is the author of five novels, one collections of essays, and two nonfiction books. Before reading from her novel, American Genius, Tillman prefaced her work rather patriotically: “I took seriously the subject of ‘we,’ and I thought, given the season we are in, that I would read he first line of the Constitution,” she said, and proceeded to read an excerpt of American Genius in which her protagonist is preparing herself for the seance that will happen in the next chapter by examining our shared history.
Tali Hinkis and Kyle Lapidus, together known as LoVid, perform as a part of the FPP series. Image courtesy of Stacy Parker Le Melle.
Finally, the artist duo, LoVid, presented their work. Amy Benson prefaced their appearance, saying, “This is the thing that we think LoVid has placed in our hands, that they’ve learned how to love a future that we can’t even see yet.” The couple also introduced their work beforehand, explaining that they would be performing two pieces: one from their past (though without the video that usually accompanies it), and one that showed their love of the future.
In the first piece, Hinkis and Lapidus held a box suspended between their two bellies, and moved wires attached to an amplifier around on the box in order to create varying degrees of vibration and ambient noise while they stared into each other’s eyes. In the second piece, the pregnant Hinkis sat on a chair next to the amplifier, and moved a device that appeared to be a speaker around her bare, distended belly, while Lapidus manipulated the noise that the speaker made using a guitarist’s foot pedal that was also attached to the amplifier.
Hinkis said of the second piece, “We thought we’d take advantage of the point in life where I am truly first person plural.”
The First Person Plural reading series holds a new reading on the second Monday of every month; the next event will be held at Shrine on November 12, at the same time. For more information, please visit FPP’s homepage, here.
It is that time of year again, the September issue of Vogue and Mercedes Benz Fall Fashion Week! Although I can’t name a designer just by looking at a gown, I look forward to this time of year. Each look that walks down the runway is a work of art, carefully designed and sewn. The looks all together tell a story, much like traditional works of art tell a story.
As I flipped through the inch and a quarter stack of papers that is the September issue of Vogue a dozen high fashion spreads jumped out at me, just waiting to be doodled on. But I couldn’t treat these elegant spreads like other ads and photos I doodled on. I had to be meticulous to create something just as elegant that worked with the clothes, not against them. I wanted the star of the doodle to remain the clothes.
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 10: The First Person Plural Harlem Reading Series returns after a summer hiatus. The event features authors Paul La Farge and Lynne Tillman, and multi-media artist collective, LoVid. The artists are invited to read pieces that explore the collective voice and may also read from other recent work. 7-9pm. The Shrine World Music Venue, 2271 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. FREE. Read our interview with one of FPP Harlem’s first readers, Pulitzer Prize Winning Cultural Critic Margo Jefferson, and check back soon for our coverage of tonight’s event.
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 11: Join Atlas Obscura for Perverse Relics: Tony Perrottet on Europe’s Historical Underbelly. Tony Perrottet has made a career of tracking down historical sites and relics that have been kept far from public view. In this vividly illustrated lecture, he will recount his adventures researching his latest books, Napoleon’s Privates: 2500 Years of History Unzipped and The Sinner’s Grand Tour. 7:30-9:30pm at Observatory, 543 Union Street, Brooklyn. $10. Buy tickets here. Read about Napoleon’s Penis and check back soon for our coverage of the lecture.
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 12: Kate Steciw continues her exploration into the construction and dissemination of consumer culture in her first solo show at toomer labzda, boundless hyper. The show’s title, arrived at using a common web-based naming software that pairs at random various search optimized terms, speaks to steciw’s ongoing interest in the ideologies and aesthetics of networked culture. with a focus on e-commerce, steciw addresses the implications and applications of user identity both online and off. 6-8pm at toomer labzda, 100a Forsyth Street. FREE.
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 13: Join OHNY and photographer Christopher Payne for an illustrated talk about his current work. North Brother Island: The Last Unknown Place in New York City, and One Steinway Place. In the past decade, Payne has become a leading photographer of forgotten places, and with these projects he continues his exploration by offering rare glimpses into two places few New Yorkers have ever seen. See his work and listen to the stories behind capturing these rare images at this illustrated talk in a unique landmarked space inside the Schermerhorn row buildings, originally built in 1812 and now home of the South Street Seaport Museum. A reception will be held following the talk. 6:30-8pm at The South Street Seaport Museum, 12 Fulton Street. $15. Buy tickets here.
Also on Thursday: Taking dead aim at being the must-witness NYC lit event of September, Literary Death Match ”” presented by Electric Literature ”” is pitting fiction v. non-fiction for our epic return to Le Poisson Rouge that’ll sparkle with lit brilliance, comedic funtabulism and beyond! Plus, the first 50 through the door get a FREE advance copy of Jon Ronson’s Lost at Sea. Doors at 6pm, show at 7:15. Le Poisson Rouge, 158 Bleeker Street. $10 in advance or $15 at the door.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 14:Pierogi is pleased to present The House Party, a full-scale, participant activated installation by Andrew Ohanesian at The Boiler. Known for his ability to blend fiction and fact, Ohanesian creates environments that surreptitiously alter the viewer’s perception of reality, calling into question preconceived notions about architecture, space, and the social interactions that take place within. 7-10pm at The Boiler, 191 N 14th Street, Brooklyn. FREE.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 15: To showcase both the technological approach and the widespread community support behind the Lowline is proud to unveil “Imagining the Lowline.” Partnering with the LowLine, Audi of America and Columbia University, Experiments in Motion are excited to connect their research on mobility to one of the most innovative proposals for a new kind of public space in New York City. They are featuring a fifty foot floating model of Manhattan. The suspended aluminum street grid is a 1:1500 scale replica of Manhattan’s infrastructure with a never before seen view of the architectural volumes of every subway station on the island. This exhibition, to be held in an abandoned warehouse just above the proposed Lowline site, will be free and open to the public from September 15-27. Visitors will experience an immersive 50 foot Aluminum model of Manhattan as well as a solar technology exhibit featuring a shimmering solar canopy, a planted green space, and a first-hand look at the potential of remote skylights underground. 12-6pm. Essex Street Warehouse, on the corner of Essex and Broome Streets. FREE.
Also on Saturday: “Survival” features 4 artists working in a variety of different media. Harris Diamant creates complex and exquisite post-modernist sculptures that are formed of the artifacts of human cultural creativity and technological ingenuity. Using ubiquitous logos and well-known brands, David Erwin’s paintings depict a possible future for our cultural constructs and questions the value of our preoccupa tion with the concepts and concerns of survival through competitive advantage. Mia Tyler’s installations and photographs envision a future in which the struggle to survive dominates all aspects of life in a toxic environment of our own making. Joseph Grazi’s intricate and graphical drawings illustrate both the decay and the beauty of man-made machines – inanimate creations that will survive their creators. 7-10pm at Lambert Fine Arts, 57 Stanton Street. FREE.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 16:DJ Prostyle Pre Concert birthday bash featuring special celebrity guests. A former clothing factory, District 36 title comes from its location in midtown’s garment district on 36th street. Blocks from Herald square and the Empire State building, the 14,000 square foot dance club — built from the sound system out, embodies New York City nightlife. Not overly designed, the venue’s simple lay-out, in combination with quality sound, and top-tier talent gives patrons a stripped down nightlife experience without the excess. Distric 36, 29 W 36th Street. Everyone free until 1am on Velvet List. Rsvp: 212-366-0752.
New York City has often been on the forefront of architectural ingenuity. Concurrently, many of the City’s notable buildings were inspired by Old World architecture. Presented below, the second part of our series provides a survey of New York City buildings and their Italian inspirations (Part I: France, Part II: Italy). The authorities differ on the authenticity of some of these claims, after comparing them let us know what you think.
1. Parthenon/Federal Hall
Completed in 432 BC, the Parthenon was a temple dedicated to Athena. In 1687, while being used as a gunpowder magazine, a Venetian mortar hit the Parthenon, partially destroying it. At the turn of the nineteenth-century, Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin and 11th Earl of Kincardine, purchased many of the Parthenon’s remaining sculptures and sculptural groups from the Ottomans who were in control of Greece at the time. They are now on display at the British Museum.
The Parthenon served as an inspiration for the exterior of Federal Hall. Additionally, casts of the Elgin marbles can been viewed at the Onassis Cultural Center. (more…)