So, About Last Night…

16 08 2008

Famous last words? In this case, yes. Last night we were treated to the very true, and very hilarious war stories of someone who has said, or thought, that phrase many a time: 52 to be exact. I’m talking about 52 Man Pickup, a hilarious one woman show that’s currently airing as part of the New York Fringe Festival.

First, on the Fringe Festival: WOW. That’s all there really is to say about the Fringe Festival, I think. Saying more would be wasting valuable time that could be spent enjoying the various and fantastic plays that are popping up all over the city during August (it runs until the 24th).  The number (and quality) of the shows is simply overwhelming and sort of leaves me speechless, and trying to figure out which shows to see next.  It is, in short, “the largest multi-arts festival in North America, with more than 200 companies from all over the world performing for 16 days in more than 20 venues.” I repeat: WOW.

So I will stick to one show, one woman (and one “Gay on Piano”) and 52 cards. Comedienne extraordinaire Desiree Burch, is fabulous, from the moment she takes the stage, clad in a bustier and sucking a lollipop to the very end. And in between is the side-splitting hilarity of her forays into the New York, um… social scene where she, um… interacts with firemen, editors, aspiring musicians, male cheerleaders, and a whole lotta Daves. With a little help from Daniel Ajl Kitrosser, the fabulous “Gay on Piano” and a little help from the audience, Ms. Burch details some of the most salacious stories of the theat-ah, and elicits some of the most gutteral laughs along with it. We laughed, we winced, and a fabulous time was had by all.

52 Man Pickup is playing at The Jazz Gallery: 8/14 @ 7:45, 8/18 @ 9:15, 8/20 @ 5:30, 8/21@10 and 8/23@3

Where the Internet Is

7 08 2008

As a freelance writer who gets a little stir crazy at home, one of the biggest challenges is finding new and appealing places where I can settle in and log on to get work done.

My usual go-to joint is Gramstand, a fantastic little tea place just blocks from home, where the internet is free, the people are nice, and the great tea drinks abound. Not only that, but I can settle in and work for hours, or a whole day without being bothered. (I just discovered this week, too, that the Stand, as I like to call it, is connected with a “Coworking” group, Coobric, whose mission it is to link up freelancers like myself so they don’t feel as alone in the world (enter warm and fuzzies), which makes me feel even better about hanging out there all day every day.

But lately Granstand’s basement, where I typically camp out, has felt a little stuffy. It’s still great for settling in to a quiet workspace, complete with big tables that allow me to spread out and friendly seeming people, but in the balmy days of summer in New York, a basement with no AC gets to be a bit of a stuffy, sometimes stinky place. Not to mention that being without daylight can sometimes take its toll on a girl.

That’s not to say that I’m ruling out the G-stand, but today I just needed a break from “the regular.” In desperate need of daylight, Libby (my freelance buddy) and I decided to pick a good spot in between our respective Upper East and Lower East Side homes, and headed to Bryant Park, where the sunlight, and the wireless, are free. It turned out to be quite the adventure, but proved more conducive to people watching (the lunch crowd there can get quite feisty when fighting over seating, especially on summer Thursdays when Broadway comes to Bryant) than to working. The internet was patchy and there was a bit too much going on for concentration.

But where are there other options for internet in Midtown? We found a great site designating some, but most didn’t work out so well. Until we found SubtleTea, Midtown’s version of G-stand, and a little bit of heaven. Big windows let in lots of daylight, and a long wood table makes for great communal workspace. Plus a great selection of mags means built-in break times. Then there is the tea selection, which is so vast as to be almost overwhelming, though the friendly staff is always on hand to advise—and give samples. Then there are a wide array of yummy frappes, from peanut butter chai to some great green tea concoction, and more tea-inspired tasties than one can possibly imagine. My new favorite place? Possibly…

Eminent Domain

6 08 2008

This weekend, exhausted after a fun night out, I decided to take myself for a walk. I wandered aimlessly for some 30 blocks and happened upon the New York Public Library. This is not unsual. I’ve passed the library many times before. I’ve even pondered entering many times before. But what is unusual is that I, who love libraries (and New York, and history), have never set foot inside. Sure, I’ve visited several branches to check out books. But the real library, the one with the lions and the history, I’ve never entered.

As I passed the steps of that familiar building, the lions beckoned. And so, finally, up I went. Up and into that gorgeous, amazing library. I definitely kicked myself for not having come sooner as I reverently wandered through those halls, into massive, intensely quiet rooms lined with heavy, tedious volumes of women’s history and man’s history and no history at all.

I saw the map room, which is possibly one of the most awesome sights there is. A librarian was showing a visitor old maps of New York, of how Central Park was meant to look, and a giant globe made me long to go exploring. I also visited the original Pooh bear and all his friends, who sit on display for posterity to see. (While it was fun to see them there was something pathetic about these tattered and well-loved stuffed animals being confined to sit under glass.)

The highlight of the trip, however, was a photography exhibit, Eminent Domain, that explores the boundaries between public and private, and the nature of photography itself, through the beautiful and poignant images of five contemporary New York photographers. The exhibit explores gentrification and disappearance, mapping (and re-mapping) the boroughs of New York through exploration of their edges, changes over time, battles of heritage, and the sanctity, beauty, and poignancy of public spaces. All with in the realm of beautiful images.

The exhibit is on display on the first floor of the library through August 29 and I encourage all to pay it a visit.