Let’s hear it for fall! Normally, I am a reluctant connoisseur of autumn. Yes, fall is great,but I am not one of those people who get really sick of light summer textiles before, say, November. More importantly, fall also heralds the onset of winter, which I hate with a burning passion. This year, though, I am enjoying it the hilt despite today’s awful East Coast drizzle. Although I’ve done the fall foliage thing in New England and the Midwest in prior years, this last weekend was my first chance to explore the local resources during a trip to the Catskills. Here are some of the highlights of our trip for folks looking to get out of the city this fall.
Upper East Side
Any interest in architecture or interior design? Or, you know, have a possibly prurient curiosity about how the other half lives? This weekend is Open House New York‘s big annual weekend event. I have to admit, I’ve been a bad New Yorker in this regard. Even though I’ve lived in New York since the event began (this is the seventh year), I had no idea it existed until about a month ago. What a thing to miss! This weekend (October 10 and 11), over 350 behind-the-scenes tours of New York buildings and architecture will be available completely free, including both private homes and public buildings. Never gotten to see the inside of the Woolworth Building properly? Here’s your chance. All kinds of buildings in all five boroughs not normally open to the public will be available for viewing this weekend. Even if you’re feeling lazy or afraid to deal with the impending appalling MTA closures, chances are something interesting is open near you.
For a list of the open sites and tours, check out the event guide here.
Ready for next week’s opening of “Where The Wild Things Are”? I am! What kid didn’t love that book? Since its publication in 1963, it’s been a treasured part of the childhood of generations of children. I’m really hoping the movie does it justice.
Since it doesn’t open until October 16, however, we still have a bit of a wait. If you’re looking to psych yourself up for it in the mean time, try checking out the Animazing Gallery in Soho (corner of Greene and Broome Streets). From now through November 8, the gallery is hosting a Sendak in Soho exhibition including more than 200 pieces from Sendak’s own collection ranging from art for the Where The Wild Things Are opera, sketches, art from the book, and limited edition etchings. I stopped in this weekend and was lucky to walk out without a lithograph in my hand. Do I need a Sendak illustration? No. But that was probably the coziest exhibition I have ever been to. All the illustrations you loved as a kid, the pictures that made the book so memorable — they’re there. It was like being in the best decorated nursery in the world. These are possibly the most adorable illustrated monsters in the history of children’s literature.
If you’re not looking to buy and don’t mind the admissions fee, the Morgan Library is also hosting a Sendak retrospective of pieces borrowed from the Rosenbach Museum and Library in Philadelphia. I haven’t had the chance to check that out yet, but the exhibition is designed to show Sendak’s creative process and includes pencil drawings and preliminary sketches for the book.
Let the wild rumpus start!
So one of the best things about summer in the city – aside from all the adorable warm-weather fashions that Kai keeps digging up – is the plethora of outdoor concerts, shows, and other events that go on all throughout town from May to September – many of them free! I’ve been fortunate enough to attend a handful of these recently and hey, you can’t beat the mix of high and low culture, good weather and great company (and maybe some wine). Show up early to get a good seat, or just show up late and try your luck. A few ideas after the jump!
One of the many things the Femmeinistes share is an appreciation for a night out on the town with a well-made cocktail or two. I’ll be the first to admit that when I was in my early 20s, I was pretty undiscriminating about the kind of alcohol I drank (fruity wine cooler, anyone?). Really, it just had to be alcoholic. I even drank tequila and Kool-Aid once when desperate. (I really don’t recommend it.) Now that I’m in my 30s, though, I find that I just don’t want to drink badly enough to drink crappy alcohol.
As a result, I’ve become a huge fan of the many New York bartender-focused bars that make a point of offering great cocktails made with fresh ingredients and a little thought and creativity. The Femmeinistes’ latest find is Apotheke, a bar hidden away on Doyers Street below Chinatown whose website describes it as a “19th century royal Austrian apothecary.” Opened by Albert Trummer, an Austrian-born “bar chef,” Apotheke is a great addition to the New York bar scene, with creative cocktails served in a setting that’s a cross between a speakeasy and a European salon of days gone by.
One of my favorite things about summer is all the great rooftops and outdoor venues for having a drink and enjoying the great weather. One of my perennial favorites is the roof garden at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It has a fantastic view over the park, and every year, a different sculpture installation to check out. If you haven’t been up there yet this year, it’s time to go! The rooftop has been open for over a month, and this year’s installation, Maelstrom by the Brooklyn-based artist Roxy Paine, is possibly my favorite out of all of the roof installations since I came to New York.
In need of a culture fix for the month? Hit up the Metropolitan Museum of Art for their special exhibition “Francis Bacon: A Centenary Retrospective.” This year is the 100th anniversary of Bacon’s birth, and the Met has mounted a major exhibition of his work, which is disturbing, but also enormously compelling. The show is well worth a look both if you’re a fan of Bacon’s work and if he’s completely new to you.
New York jazz lovers looking for something to do this weekend may want to check out one of James Carter’s sets at the Blue Note. I was lucky enough to catch the 10:30 set last night (we were close enough to the stage to catch sweat from the drummer had he flung it our way), and believe me, they put on a great set.
The Blue Note’s only been around since 1981, but since its founding it’s rapidly become one of New York’s premier destinations for serious jazz. Just down the street and around the corner from the Village Vanguard, it’s hosted great artists like Oscar Peterson, Dizzy Gillespie, and Sarah Vaughn despite its relatively recent inception. Granted, the decor may not be as nice as Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola at the Time Warner Center (it’s a little on the glitzy-cheesy side, and the tables are not the most comfortable in existence), but it’s still a terrific place to go for big names in jazz.
Carter is known for contemporary jazz saxophone, and has even played on an album with my favorite jazz musician, Cyrus Chestnut. This week he’s receiving terrific backup by John Medeski (organ), Adam Rogers (guitar), Christian McBride (bass), and Joey Baron (drums). The ensemble may be this good in part because they’re doing a live recording session during the five days of the run; they may be having fun, but they’re not fooling around.
I have to admit, much though I like jazz, McBride was the only member of the ensemble that I’d heard before. The verdict? Spectacular. Every member of this ensemble was well up to snuff, performing some great solo runs, and they were having a great time. The energy in this set never flagged for a second. Carter is a terrific sax player; his playing definitely leans toward the modern side of jazz (the intro to one song made me feel like I had been kidnapped into a particularly disturbing sci-fi film for a few minutes), but the energy and the skill were irresistible, even for someone who tends to lean toward straight-ahead jazz. Carter can make the sax sing, or make it sound like anything from a rabbit’s death squeal to James Earl Jones humming. Like jazz? Go. Even in New York, ensembles as good as this are a rare treat.
Carter and the ensemble will be playing at the Blue Note through Sunday, with 8:00 pm and 10:30 pm shows both Saturday and Sunday. Bar seats are $15.00 and table seats are $27.50; reservations can be made online at the Blue Note’s website or by calling (212) 475-8592.
I love New York.
I’m not talking about loving my city in that overblown Carrie Bradshaw embroidered coat and heels way, because frankly, I’m not that into Manolos and how many Cosmos can one person possibly drink? (We could also argue about the wardrobe choices on that show and Patricia Fields’ tastes, but that’s another post entirely.) I am also definitely not talking about loving New York in a going to the Empire State Building, I-Heart-NY t-shirt kind of way. But me and the city? We’ve got a nice quiet relationship going on.
I think the most endearing thing about the city isn’t Broadway or the museums or the fancy restaurants, great though they all are. It’s the way you can go wander through a neighborhood or visit a favorite spot totally unplanned, and the city will reward you with a little flourish that will just make your day. A new fruit at the Greenmarket, a funny scene on the street, a homey little cafe you’ve never noticed before. This is true at any time of year if you’re open to it, but it’s most true as the weather warms up, everyone spills outside, and life on the street becomes that much more unpredictable.
Tonight I want to tell you about one of my favorite contemporary artists, Maira Kalman. In addition to works like the one shown above, you may recognize her famous “newyorkistan” cover for the New Yorker.