Lower East Side Film Fest

film-festivalNow in its sixth year, the opening feature of 2016’s Lower East Side Film Fest – Art of the Prank – went off with a bang, followed by the event’s largest party.  Featuring music from Shareef Keyes and the Groove, it was hard to tell what attendees enjoyed more: that, or the open beer & wine bar that was open throughout the night.

The week-long event – that was held between June 9 and June 16, included screenings ranging from ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze’ to ‘Streit’s: Matzo and the American Dream.’  Shorts included: ‘Bad at Dancing,’ ‘Jolly Boy Friday,’ ‘Napoleon in Exile,’ and ‘Nuts.’

There is no attempt by this festival to “be like TriBeCa,” but what it does seek to do is “support really great independent filmmakers,” according to one of the co-founders, Roxy Hunt.  Indeed, according to its website, it seeks to: “create a special experience for both filmmaker and audience through amazing events, neighborhood engagement, free industry panels, and film screenings of the best and brightest up and coming filmmaking talent.”

TriBeCa’s Trinity Church

churchTriBeCa’s Trinity Church – close to Shimmie Horn’s luxurious Cosmopolitan hotel – was recently home to a celebration of Broadway history. Both these locations – Shimmie Horn’s hotel and the Church – perfectly mesh with New York City and all it has to offer: art, shopping and eateries.

Trinity Church (which sits along Broadway at Wall Street) is where Alexander Hamilton was buried. It was Hamilton who actually was one of America’s Founding Fathers and a parishioner at Trinity Church in the late 1700s. It was Hamilton who brought real fame to pop culture and the Hamilton Broadway musical was all for him.

So now, as a mark of recognition and honor of 16 TONY award nominations, on June 10th, Trinity Church gave light to the archives with Hamilton’s name on them, in a one-day only pop-up display of some rare documents that related to his years connected to the church. As Anne Petrimoulx, church archivist said: “Alexander Hamilton has always been someone near and dear to our hearts at Trinity Church. And we’re thrilled to celebrate him and the musical.”

If you missed it while staying at Shimmie Horn’s TriBeCa, there is always the Swedish Midsummer Festival on the 24th of this month which is sure to delight the whole family.


East Village Pizza Pie

pizzaPizza, pizza and more pizza. You can never have too much pizza.  Well that seems to be the sentiment in New York City at least.  With the recent opening of Baker’s Pizza on Avenue A, there is something new happening in the world of NY pizza.  It is hoped by owner-chef Jordan Baker-Jamie Cacace that “the power of the New York-style pie [will] become a destination stop of any pizza journeyman’s map.”

So what actually goes in to making these pizzas different?  First, the pies are very filling with an extremely generous base and exploding with toppings. Second, there are funky toppings such as brussels sprouts, bacon and white truffle oil (the B&B) or speck, broccoli rabe, roasted red peppers and parmesan (the Speck-tacular).  It is these ingredients which set the pizza place apart from Muzzarella Pizza which is just down the block.

New York City certainly has quite a history with pizza.  According to a blog post referring to Ed Levine’s book, ‘Pizza – A Slice of Heaven,’ “The story of pizza in America starts in New York City, on Spring Street in lower Manhattan, in 1905 when Gennaro Lombardi, a baker and pizzaiolo from Naples is granted the first license in the United States to sell pizza. Lombardi had come to America at the age of 14. He was already a baker by trade, and soon found work in a Brooklyn bakery and a grocery store on Spring Street in Manhattan. He had the idea of baking pizzas at the bakery and selling them the next morning at the grocery. It was a very good idea.  [and then it spread around America]… A year after Antonio Pero opened Totonno’s in Brooklyn, another Neapolitan immigrant pizzaiolo named Frank Pepe opened Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana (1925), the first pizzeria
in New Haven, CT.”

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Business Travelers to Lower Manhattan

lower-manhattanIt seems that lower Manhattan is becoming an increasingly popular location among tourists.  While it used to be the case that travelers to New York City would automatically head for Midtown, since lower Manhattan has been encountering a transformation as of late, that has become a hot spot with tourists, especially business travelers it seems.

According to Downtown Alliance’s President, Jessica Lappin, it seems this move is “only natural” given that the area has undergone a “massive redevelopment [transforming it] into a bustling cultural and business destination.” This has led to increased hotel options, many new eateries with an array of cuisines as well as a retail revolution.

Thus it should come as no surprise that NYC company reported figures for 2015 at 12.3 million business travelers to New York City, many of whom stayed south of Chambers Street.  This trend was confirmed by Booking.com which noted how in 2015 and this year, over 20% of its business travel reservations were for the lower Manhattan area.

Meanwhile there are plenty of varied activities to do in the region.  There’s the interactive theater experience through via Accomplice; the bi-weekly farmers market (put on by Bowling Green Greenmarket) and the Children’s Museum of the Arts (which provides young artists with a hands-on workshop as well as skill development in visual and performing arts). Take advantage of the free ferry rides and free walking tours as well as the Federal Reserve tours that are also without a fee.

The “Taste” of Tribeca

food-festivalFor more than two decades, Tribecans have been privy to sample a wide variety of treats from the Taste of Tribeca Festival.  Tribeca’s top eateries are participating in this program which not only helps people enjoy the fun flavors from around the city, but also raises funds for local public schools’ enrichment programs.

Now in its 22nd year, this “foodie fund-raiser” provides locals with the opportunity to “taste their way” through 65+ top restaurants in the hood.  According to co-chair of the program Claude Arpels, this thus gives everyone a chance “to come and sample the neighborhood – you pay 45 bucks and you get to try food from so many restaurants. It would certainly cost you a lot more to go and eat a full meal at every one.”

This really is financially a great deal – to pay a mere $45 to enjoy 700 “tastes” is phenomenal.  And then to know that you are doing your bit for the community – kids benefiting from food-funded arts programs in the area – really makes it even tastier.  If you think about each item of food costing around $5-10, it doesn’t take a genius to realize how worth it with the Math.

As well as the Taste of Tribeca, locals can enjoy the much newer beer and cider tour that started last year by Arpels which is coming back again this year.

Musical News

musicEast Village’s Third Street Music School Settlement is celebrating 121 years at its yearly Spring Gala.  Having opened in 1894, this makes it the longest-running community music school in the US.   Today, over 5,000 students receive musical instruction and it’s not just restricted to kids.  Indeed, pre-school up to adults aged 93 years old, have been the recipient of musical instruction over the years.   And talking of inclusivity, the school really tries to accept everyone, especially those of disadvantaged financial means, catering to all types of musical loves.  One can even just come in for a singular lesson in the oboe!  With ensembles, the variety runs from rock band to orchestral. According to Brandon Tesh, Department Chair for Wind, Brass and Percussion, this makes it “like being in a toy store. There’s just all these instruments, drum sets, pianos everywhere, it’s filled with music. It’s really a great space.”

Meanwhile for those looking for concerts in the neighborhood check out The Voice for a comprehensive listing in NYC.

Japanese Art in Midtown Manhattan

midtown-manhattanYayaoi Kusama, a Japanese artist, has her first artwork displayed in a permanent public place in midtown Manhattan.  Located at 605 West 42nd Street, close to Shimmie Horn’s Iroquois Hotel which “combines classic design and contemporary amenities to create a quintessentially New York City experience,” the piece is of a bronze pumpkin that is surrounded by the ‘infinity loop motor court,’ at the building’s entrance.

According to CEO of the Moinian Group, Sky developer (which spearheaded the redevelopment of the area), Joseph Moinian, the company is “deeply proud to present New York with its first Yayoi Kusama bronze Pumpkin for all to enjoy.  It is an honor and a privilege to have such an iconic and important work of art by one of the world’s greatest living artists permanently residing in front of Sky. I hope it will become a cherished emblem of culture in the city for generations to come.”

In terms of art, one of Shimmie Horn’s other hotels – the Hotel Chandler – features many architectural elements reminiscent of the Beaux Arts era, designed by Jorge L. Portero.

Designed by Jorge L. Portero, the Hotel Chandler NY shows off numerous architectural elements reminiscent of the Beaux Arts era.

Beetle House Bar

cocktailsThree days ago Tim Burton got his own bar. Well, sort of.  Beetle House took its inspiration from him and opened on May 6 as a gothic eatery on 308 E. Sixth Street. With its witchy interior, featuring medical equipment artwork, straitjackets and more based on Burton classics, it’s sure to be a popular address for diehard Burton fans.

However, punters can rest assured that real beetle juice will not be on the menu – just a cocktail with that name, alongside Alice’s Cup of Tea and The Headless Horseman. Some of the items on the dinner menu are: Chesire Mac and Cheese, Eggs Skellington and Edward Burger Hands.

And then of course there’s the guy (who’s not being paid by the owner) who just keeps coming dressed in a Beetlejuice costume.  They might want to think of giving him a salary though since he seems to have been quite popular with the patrons until now!

Making Meals More Manageable

MealPassLunchtime around New York can get a little crazy.  It can be expensive, busy, and overwhelming.  Perhaps though, MealPass will be the solution.  This start-up is promising a cheaper lunch option and a ton of exciting restaurants.  It’s also a great way to encourage people to eat lunch: if you use it every week day, you could end up paying a really small amount – less than $5 for each meal.

MealPass – that works very much like ClassPass – started business at the beginning of the year in Miami and Boston.  It has completely taken off since then, with customers ordering lunch more than 25,000 times through the site.

Currently New York has around 130 participating restaurants, from which MealPass members can select a meal from the lunch menu from 7pm the night before.  They have to put in their choice by 9.30am the day of delivery as restaurants need time to prepare.  Then, members go to the restaurant to collect meals without having to line up or pay on the spot. While it is true there are other companies like UberEats doing this, the main goal of MealPass is affordability.





Tribeca Film Festival

film-festivalThe Tribeca Film Festival (that run from April 13 until yesterday), in its 15th year comprised 102 features.  These ranged from foreign language, independent movies to documentaries and more, spanning “all-star Hollywood attractions.”

In addition to the more than 100 features, this year’s Film Festival is showing TV events, virtual reality exhibitions and interactive installations.  Being on the newer side of film festivals, this factor is believed to be a good thing.  Indeed, according to Genna Terranova, director of the festival, this plus enables the festival to work differently, giving it the capacity to “change a little bit more easily, evolve a little bit more easily,” as compared to other older, more stagnated festivals.

Part of this is how the festival closed, which “the bomb – a multimedia, immersive project about nuclear weapons.”  This comprised a 55 minute doc-film on how nuclear weapons have evolved, shown on a giant screen by the Acid band, to a live score.  As Terranova pointed out, this truly was: “documentary-meets-concert-meets-immersive experience.”