New York Comic Con

comicsLast week saw the New York Comic Con event.  This year it got even bigger, in its attempt to wow pop-culture fans with even more interactive features and a new registration system.  There was also room for 5,500 fans.  In the 10 years it has been taking place, it has really stepped up its game, putting it in the same league as San Diego’s International Comic Con.  Indeed, last year, there were 167,000 people who attended, even more than last year’s San Diego one which only attracted 130,000.

But now given the added feature of the NYCC Presents, there were even more attendees. Programs included: “Game Grumps Live Episode,” “A Shipwreck Fan Fiction Competition,” “Stuff You Missed in History Class Live,” “Doctor Who Costume Contest and Trivia,” “Tales From the Toybox,” “Rock Comic Con,” and “One Trek Mind Live.”

Given that the space is so much bigger, this means that many more will be able to be accommodated.  ReedPop event director Michael Armstrong.  He explained that: “With this addition, we’ve been able to bring way more TV and film content to NYCC than we’ve ever been able to. In years past, our largest panel room was around 3,000 seats. With the Theater at Madison Square Garden we’ve been able to almost double that. More people than ever before will be able to see our largest panels.”

Lower Manhattan Continues to Thrive

9-11Lower Manhattan has encountered substantial changes during the decade-and-a-half following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which saw the loss of 2,753 lives.  According to a recent State Attorney General Report released by Thomas P. DiNapoli (New York State Comptroller) what happened after the attacks that resulted in an “unspeakable tragedy,” was that partnerships emerged “between the local community, government, and the private and not-for-profit sectors — that made Lower Manhattan’s renaissance possible.”  Today the area has earned itself a reputation for having “a diversified employment base and strong annual job growth.”  He added that “Lower Manhattan is doing more than rebuilding, it is transforming and moving forward with resilience and hope.”

In commemoration of the day, a memorial procession was led by the NYPD Emerald Society Pipes & Drums.  Participants included Mayor de Blasio and Bill Bratton (who is leaving his post as Police Commissioner).  They marched from Cedar Street to the NYC Police Memorial in Battery Park City, down Broadway. They were joined by police bands nationwide.

And then there is the Irish Pub O’Haras.  Owned by Mike Keane, this has become a kind of shrine to the tragedy.  At the time of the event, co-owner of the pub Mike Keane watched the first tower fall from the bar’s roof.  He managed to get to safety but the bar was badly damaged and at its reopening seven months thereafter, it was transformed into “a haven for locals and Ground Zero workers.” The next year, a gathering was held at the pub in which Big John (a construction worker) ripped off a patch from a fireman’s uniform, stapling it to the wall which thereafter became a tradition.  Today there are over a thousand patches from various ambulance services, fire departments and more around the world, at the pub.  Indeed one day they even received a framed frag flown over from the Pentagon in the mail.  Another owner of the Irish Pub, Paul Mackin explained ““We get locals in their p.j.s, sometimes, because they can’t sleep.”  He himself was “changed” following 9/11 and now each weekend meets people “who come in here from all over the world. They enter as strangers and leave as friends.”

Yes, a lot has changed in downtown Manhattan over the last decade-and-a-half with some incredible developments and transformations in the region.  But 9/11 will never be forgotten and no matter how different the city may look, for those people who had a direct connection to it, things will always stay the same.

Helping the Students of Manhattan

rowboatThere are many ways to help students with different needs and this article looks at two things happening right now in Manhattan.  Both are more than just the basic money giving to help those students with different in needs.

First there is Rocking the Boat in which nine teams participated in the 30-mile row around Manhattan to raise monies for the organization.  As part of the Rocking Manhattan Fundraiser and to aid and empower South Bronx students, $300,000 is needed.  This enables the students, notes Adam Green, founder and executive director of the non-profit Rocking the Boat to select either the “boat building track, environmental science track or sailing track [where] they learn very intensive technical skills in each of those tracks which give them all sorts of future opportunities.”

Participants have gained a lot from the program, as they were inspired for the future and able to move ahead with skills they picked up.  From boat building one student noted, they learned to become more open with others as they had to get themselves “out there and overall becom[e] more friendly and more involved.”

Second, as a way of dealing with the expansion of public schools in Manhattan in a positive way, school officials chose to “embrace” the fact that the educational institution was turning into a construction site “teeming with workers, tools and building materials.”  In other words they took what could have been negative and disruptive and transformed it into “an educational supplement for students.”

Furthermore, Karen Hedglin, representative for the project from McKinstry Construction, this expansion could be a really good STEM opportunity for Manhattan over the next couple of years.  It could indeed be used as a way of exposing students to “a unique side of the increasingly popular science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.”

For students interested in technology or those who experience challenges with Math, this project could really make the subjects “come alive” for them and help them thrive.

The Theater District: The World’s Stage

theaterShimmie Horn’s Washington Jefferson – set in a relaxed ambience within a tree-lined block but close enough to Broadway’s bright lights – has something for everyone. Whether for business or leisure, travelers visiting Manhattan can take in a show at the nearby Theater District, or just enjoy the other features Manhattan has to offer.
It has been said that even though Shakespeare was the brains behind “all the world’s a stage,” it is actually New York – and specifically The Theater District in Manhattan – that is the world’s stage. With 40 Broadway theaters and many more Off- and Off-Off Broadway locations, NYC has dramas, comedies, musicals and theatrical events in their thousands!
From The Humans, The Front Page, Hamilton and the New Isaac Berlin Musical – Holiday Inn, there really is something for everyone.
So when you’re lounging at The Washington Jefferson and are seeking a real taste of one of the things that makes New York famous, check out more of the available shows  here.

East Village Food Tour

Lawrence Weibman is the host of NYC Food Tour. In this video, he takes viewers around the East Village delighting them to a “truly memorable meal,” highlighting three cuisines the average Joe has probably not tried but will undoubtedly love.

Museum of Reclaimed Urban Spaces

recyclingNow in its fourth consecutive year, the Museum of Reclaimed Urban Spaces – in NYC’s East Village — once again came to teach its visitors how to protect the environment and efficiently utilize recycling materials.

Short movies and documentaries on this year’s ‘People and the Planet,’ theme recognizing the staunch sustainable and environmental efforts of various communities nationwide, were featured at the four-day event (from August 18 til August 21).   Events included: ‘Community Garden Racing to Zero,’ ‘Orchard Alley: Racing Extinction,’ ‘Inhabit: A Permaculture Perspective’ and ‘Bringing it home.’

Dragon Boat Family Festival

dragon-boatFor those in Tribeca looking for a family-fun activity, a few days ago the Museum of China in America hosted  the Dragon Boat Family Festival.  One of the workshops – entitled Calligraphy Corner – had I-Hsuan Chao demonstrate this skill by painting festive messages on traditional rice paper.  Participants were able to learn basic brushstroke techniques and how to write the word ‘boat’ with a Chinese character.

For food lovers the Sticky, Savory Snacks – Zongzi Wrapping and Tasting must have been extremely enjoyable.  Also at that tasting – apart from eating – participants were able to learn why zongzi are traditionally consumed during the Dragon Boat Festival.  These pyramid-shaped rice balls in bamboo leaves are a cool thing to learn how to make too.

And then of course, a Dragon Festival would not be complete without actually trying to Awaken the Dragon! A special reading of ‘Gung Ho! A Dragon Boat Story’ by Susan Hughes was enjoyed through an interactive activity.

Those activities and many more were all part of the fun at the Dragon Family Festival in Tribeca last week.

Art at The Edison

skylineBuilt in 1931, Shimmie Horn’s Hotel Edison makes for a perfect place for those who love art.  Set in New York City – minutes away from Times Square – the interior Art Deco features both elegance and boldness.  Its exterior – comprised of curved edges clashing with bold lines – likewise makes a fantastically artistic impression along Manhattan’s skyline.

And of course, being right in the center of global art, visitors to the hotel can take advantage of so many museums in the area and countless exhibitions.  One of these is the one at PACE gallery (until August 19th) featuring “works made in glass and the unique use of glass objects by each artist.”  Artists displaying their works are:  Maya Lin, Kiki Smith and Fred Wilson.  Check out the huge glass marbled wall piece, 11-part floor piece that looks like water droplets, red glass stars and glass items sporadically installed and placed on tableware.

If you miss that, be sure next month to check out the artistic element that is coming to the National September 11 Memorial Museum.  Originally built to “reflect the moments of horror and heroism 15 years ago when terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center,” the upcoming show ‘Rendering the Unthinkable: Artists Respond to 9/11,’ begins in timely fashion on September 12 in the special exhibits gallery. The development of this exhibition is said to be a testament to the interest the museum is showing in “complementing its collection of artifacts and archives and an acknowledgment that expanding its scope could add visitors.”

Summer Happenings in NYC

sunshineSummertime and the livin’ is easy…at least in New York City it has the potential of being…

What’s better in the summer than ice-cream?  Learning how to make it yourself from the experts and thanks to Sarah Lohman, historic gastronome and Laura Weiss, ice cream historian (who even knew such professions existed?) one can now learn about the history and mechanics and ice cream and making the yummy cold stuff first hand. Last week, Brooklynites were invited to the Brooklyn Historical Society, located at 128 Pierrepont Street from 7-9pm on July 28th to learn all about that.

And then tomorrow for food lovers who are looking for something on the savory side that is a bit hotter, the Brooklyn Historical Society hosted Scott Wiener, a pizza historian, together with a panel of Brooklyn pizza-makers on The Search for Authenticity will be discussing who makes the most authentic pizza in New York City. The event will boast a classic old-school slice shop, alongside an historic coal-fired pizza parlor, a traditional Neapolitan pizzeria, and a new-school pie innovator. What more could food connoisseurs ask for?

Staying cool and keeping hot in New York is what it’s all about this summer.

Hospital Themed Bar

syringeLooking for a bar with a difference in New York?  Something that you’ve possibly never seen before?  Well, look no further than Lower East Side’s Sanatorium – a hospital-themed cocktail bar which looks a bit like “the waiting room of a debauched doctor.”

Rather than the interior being made up of typical mahogany and hanging glasses, in here you will find operating-room style lamps affixed above a marble bar.  There is no ‘Saloon’ sign but instead, Venetian plaster covers the walls in a green scrub color.  You don’t get your shots in classic shot glasses but rather syringes and the cocktails are prepped on operating-room trays.

But the music remains pretty conventional for a bar.  With D.J. Xavier Herit, you’ll enjoy Euro house music and then once a week though – again with a taste of something different – there is a performance by chamber ensemble New Vintage Baroque.  Another thing that is not typical is the fact that you actually have to make an appointment to go there.  However, if the jolly bouncer is around, walk-ins are usually accepted.  So enjoy a Waiting Room shot made from tequila, cherry tomato, basil, balsamic vinegar, lime and habanero elixir, topped with a slice of ibérico ham, carved from a leg hanging over the bar and you’ll want to make this place your regular.