Monday, April 23, 2007

Street Tree Planting


Just in time for Earth Day, I stumbled across an unusual feature of the New York City Parks Department. Apparently the department will plant a tree in front of any building in any borough at the request of the New York–based owner. All he/she has to do is fill out this form. You can’t pick the type of tree, but the service, provided by the NYC Parks Forester, is free of charge. There’s even a Street Tree Planting office. Isn't spring grand?

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Taste of Chinatown


At the Taste of Chinatown we sampled the best of the basics on offer: fried rice, spring rolls, two types of lo mein, dumplings, and, of course, cones from the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory. It was wonderful to see the area so crowded, with people of all persuasions feasting on delicacies that cost only one or two dollars. Unfortunately, we missed our chance to enter the fortune cookie writing contest, but here's my entry just the same: some days are fried rice, some days are lo mein, and some days are sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaves.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The ChipShop


Beneath Anglomaniacal memorabilia like a 1984 calendar featuring images of the countryside, we snacked on battered shrimp and scallops, as well as stubby fries doused in vinegar, at this small restaurant in Park Slope. The bathroom walls were covered with cutouts from British papers, some sober (“Goodbye, Queen Mum”), some ridiculous (“Why Women Can’t Handle Roundabouts”).

The danger with batter, aside from its contributions toward heart disease, is that it will somehow overshadow whatever it’s covering. Not so here (God save the cook). Next time we’ll try the veggie English breakfast (“double of everything minus the bacon”), washing it down with a can of fiery ginger ale or Tango apple soda and finishing up with a Curly Wurly, the greatest candy bar ever invented.

Monday, April 09, 2007

The Dinner Party


Poor Brooklyn Museum. In any other city, it would be a world-class destination, on every tourist’s “must-see” list. But it’s here, and thus it lives in the immense shadow of MoMA and the Met. Cheaper and quieter than its Manhattan counterparts, the Brooklyn Museum is certainly worth a visit, in part because of a recent acquisition: The Dinner Party, by Judy Chicago.

This huge, triangular installation celebrates women’s contributions to western civilization. (Each side measures 48 feet.) The most important piece of feminist art produced in the 1970s was simultaneously lighter and creepier than I’d expected.

Chicago has given 39 women, ranging from Virginia Woolf to Sappho to Judith to Kali, decorated place settings at the table. Each setting has a placemat embroidered with the woman’s name and a motif related to her life or achievements, as well as an oversized plate, with a uniquely designed take on a butterfly or vulva. Most plates have two-dimensional designs, but some are three-dimensional—their pink, white, or mauve shapes rising up several inches. Beneath the table are white tiles, on which Chicago has written the names of 999 other important women in pretty gold script.

The Dinner Party will anchor the new Sackler Center devoted to feminist art. Like many viewers, I was lukewarm about the current work on show: though I adamantly believe in having a gallery devoted to feminist art, I felt the boundaries imposed by the curators (women artists born after 1970, whose work was then lumped into categories like “Emotion” and “Identity”) too restrictive. Where are the paintings and sculpture (video installations and photographs dominate)? Where are the men? Time will answer these questions and thus maybe alter my initial impressions.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Delta's Cheat on New York Ads

In general I'm not a big fan of the ubiquitous advertising found here; there's more interesting stuff to see than the same ads on subway cars, buses, phone booths, bus stops, and the small, often electronic boards above subway stations. But Delta's Cheat on New York ads are an exception. I love them.

The gist of the ads targets New Yorkers who passionately adore the city but who might also want to head off once in a while to see rest of the world. It's brilliant, because it simultaneously praises what's great about New York (i.e., you can experience just about every culture in the world without leaving the boroughs) while reminding people that leaving the boroughs can sometimes be good too. So, the ads imply, take a schvitz in the East Village, then fly to Russia; dine on pasta on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, then fly to Italy; nosh on kebabs in Morningside Heights, then go to Turkey; buy a sari in Jackson Heights, then go to India; and so on.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

The Orchid Show

Every spring it seems, spring arrives first at the New York Botanical Garden during its marvelous orchid show. Orchids are strange and rare and wondrous flowers:











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