I Heart I Rub New York

14 11 2010

Thursday evening I attended a screening of the film my dear and lovely friend Lauren DeFilippo directed. I Rub New York is a documentary about the eponymous public art project spearheaded by urban artist Carol Caputo. The art is just what it sounds like: Carol goes out into the city and passes out paper and crayons, encouraging passersby to literally rub New York City.

Rub what?? Well, step out onto a New York street or into a New York park. A quick look around will prove that this city has myriad “rubbable” surfaces. Anything with texture goes. That means pavement, brick walls, signs, railings, and all those beautiful buildings with their incredible cornices and columns and adornments.

Why rub?? The answer to this, it seems, is manifold. First, some pretty incredible artwork comes out of New York’s surfaces. Then there’s the fact that crayons are a very happy thing (when was the last time you were angry while coloring? Think about it). More to the point, it’s something everyone can do. Artistic or not, anyone can take a crayon and rub a textured surface. This is what makes the project so liberating: There’s a certain thrill that comes from making something beautiful from those crazy cellar covers (yes, I’m using the technical term) that make so much noise when one walks on them on the street. The simple task of taking pad to paper and literally taking to the streets is liberating, and at the same time it brings people together in a communal project, a communal love of this city.

In short, this project really encapsulates much of what makes New York great. Here we are, millions of people on this crowded, yet lovely, island, living together and working together, playing together and, now, making art together. United in our love for this city. I Rub NY helps to solidify that bond, both with New Yorkers and with New York itself. Caputo notes that there is so much about New York that we miss. We hurry along the streets, all too often ignoring the sights and sounds and smells — and feels — that make this city, and its individual neighborhoods, so unique. This project, brings us back to the nitty gritty (often literally) of New York, allowing us to touch the streets on which we walk daily. It makes art out of the daily objects we’d ordinarily pass right on by, and asks us to notice things we’d otherwise ignore.

What really got me, though, was when after the film Ms. Caputo talked about the layers upon layers of New York that exist, different in each neighborhood based on that ‘hood’s history. I have an obsession with that idea of layering here, of the urban palimpsest. Whether it’s layers of wallpaper in an old, much inhabited apartment of those faded advertisements and signs one sees on the facades of buildings, evidence of this city’s long and storied history are ubiquitous. And what I love about this project is that it invites “ordinary” people to leave one more layer (made from the other layers) upon this incredible, multi-faceted city.

Follow Ms. Caputo’s blog here.

Oh, and here is my rubbing from the School of Visual Arts, lots if brick and railings and even some of the grating. I warn you: Do one rubbing and you’ll find you want to rub all surfaces in the city — in a strictly artistic way, of course.

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New York Roots (and Travel Tips)

2 10 2010

A long, long time ago (at least it seems that way), when I first took the big leap and moved to the frightening and exhilarating city that is New York, I was lucky enough to find an internship at a friendly little travel website called EuroCheapo. With brothers Tom and Pete Meyers at the helm, EuroCheapo aims to make European (and New York, since that’s where they’re based) travel affordable by reviewing budget hotels that are actually comfortable.

I so loved going to the sunny office in Soho, and writing about travel, and laughing and joking and listening to great music with small but mighty EC crew, that I just kept going, and finally I was upgraded from intern to assistant editor. It was a sad day when I had to leave EuroCheapo, but now I’m making a triumphant return, not to the office, but to the blog!

I’ve just become the New York blogger for EuroCheapo, and I’ll be writing every other week about unique and affordable activities in New York City. It’s a fun turn of events that my first year of getting to know New York found me at EuroCheapo, and now I’m such a New York veteran that I can provide regular advice on what to see and do (and no Empire State Building here, folks!). Follow my New York tips and adventures here!





Lit Crawl Love

13 09 2010

Saturday, September 11, 2010 could not have been a more beautiful evening, and it was made all the more beautiful thanks to the surge of literary love that took over the East Village (literally, in some cases). The 16-venue event was nothing short of magical, with a buzz of energy in each room and overflowing onto the streets.

As promised, The Paris Review brought “it” — and it brought the crowds (we estimated 150 folks crammed into Fontana’s). There was also a lovely 9/11 tribute compliments of some beloved denizens of the Lower East Side, but the highlight of the night may have been the street takeover that occurred when one venue wanted to charge our guests admission.

The hippie staff at Yippie Cafe had agreed to wave their usual cover for our free event, but on the night of new management changed their tune. But lit lovers are not to be thwarted. We stuck it to the “hippie” man and took our Urban Lives reading to the streets, literally. It was a wonderful and powerful sight to see 50-some lovers of literature on the sidewalk listening, rapt, to the readers who took their turn on a planter box stage on Bleecker Street. Only at Litquake.

Thanks to all who made it a memorable night, and stay tuned for details of next year, and a possible springtime foray.





Lit Crawl NYC

7 09 2010

It’s been madness over here, in the best of ways. The third annual Lit Crawl NYC will take place this Saturday, September 11, and I could not be more excited. We’ve got a great lineup, including (get ready to be amazed) The Paris Review, doing a sneak preview of their first issue with new editor Lorin Stein at the helm. It promises to be a stellar show, as does the return of the oh-so-fun BOMB-aoke and some battle of the sexes style trivia with Harper Perennial.

In short: mark your calendars folks. This is one night of literary mayhem that’s not to be missed. Also exciting (at least to the event’s humble co-founder/director) is our new “real” website, litcrawl.org and our official branding in line with Litquake. Who wouldn’t love the “See, Hear, Speak” monkeys?

Check out the full lineup!





Salsa for Haiti

21 01 2010

As though the rush of the dance and the addicting beat of the music weren’t enough, another reason I love salsa so much: the community. I already had amazing friends in New York, but through salsa I’ve become part of a whole other community, a family really. There’s a sort of indescribable bond that comes along with this passion for Latin dance, something only others who are as passionate can truly understand.

It’s also, equally amazingly, a community of doers. Which is why I’m so happy to be attending the Haiti Relief Effort fundraiser at International Food House this Saturday. The band Orquesta Dee Jay will be on hand with live music, and the $10 entrance fee plus half of all food sales will go to the Red Cross Haiti Relief. Can’t beat fun for a good cause.

Saturday, January 23

6-10 pm

International Food House

240 W 35th St (btw 7th and 8th Ave)

$10 admission (also gets your free admission to Sangria Saturdays at Iguanas)





Paella Bliss in New York

13 01 2010

I’m not the best person for eating paella. While I do like the dish (a lot) it is generally a seafood-laden dish, so my dislike of seafood is a bit of a hindrance.Thus, it’s a yummy dish, and when in Spain… But it’s never really been something I sought out. Until Socarrat.

This past weekend, my good friend Becky visited from Baltimore. Since we hadn’t seen each other in over a year, and on account of the frigid temperature outside, New York exploring came second to lots of chatting and enjoying each other’s company (and trying to stay warm). But Saturday evening, we decided to try a new restaurant, and given the chill outside, a cozy Spanish restaurant with a sizzling pan of gooey rice seemed just the thing.

We were not disappointed. The restaurant is  two rooms, both long and narrow. The first is more of a bar-ish area, though there is no actual bar: high tables where folks can enjoy wine or a perfect sangria while waiting to sit in the main room, that is one long communal table. The menu has a number of tapas options, but the main event is certainly the paella, which is served family style in its huge cast iron pan.

There are eight different options including a paella de carne, which includes every type of meat one could want and no seafood. Amazing seems too small a word. It was rich and full of flavor and decadent. The  name Socarrat means, literally, the “crust that forms on the bottom of the paella pan when the liquid is rendered and the rice reaches its peak of succulence.” And that socarrat was, in our pan, crispy to perfection, a dining experience close to nirvana, and I’m not exaggerating. Certainly going on my list of favorite restaurants, and my list to take guests, for that matter.





Reasons I Love New York

11 01 2010

New York Magazine has its reasons to love this city, and as I mentioned last week, I love New York for all those reasons too. But I also thought, as I sit here, pining for California, where my sisters will be visiting my parents this weekend and wining in Napa, I should reflect on my own personal reasons for loving New York. And so, I resurrect “the list”:

  1. Art Deco is lustrous, and everywhere.
  2. No one does St. Patrick’s Day better (except maybe in Ireland).
  3. There is a reward for surviving awful winters: incredible springs.
  4. Even after three years, I get a chill every time I see the Statue of Liberty.
  5. We can enjoy picturesque landscapes and dance in the streets, all in the same day.
  6. Fashion Week.
  7. We know how to celebrate.
  8. People stop on the street to offer directions, or slow down in the subway to help carry a stroller up the stairs.
  9. We’re living in, and on, history. And also unearthing it.
  10. It causes mothers to pick up friends in coffee shops.

New York is a gritty, fast-paced, difficult place. You have to have a lot of determination and a little bit of humor to make it in New York. But that’s what makes surviving it all so satisfying. Additionally, a good portion of New Yorkers are transplants, folks who flocked to New York to follow a dream, whether it was to make it on Broadway, or simply to live in New York. That makes for a very interesting crowd of people, and amid all that grit and determination shines optimism and a whole lot of energy.