In the three years since I’ve started Manhattan Digest, I have had the ability to review close to 100 phenomenal restaurants in the New York City area. Since that time, my waist size has expanded, clothes don’t fit me as well anymore, I might need to go to the doctor sooner than later, but it was all worth it for the amazing cuisines that I have experienced on this incredible ride. [Read more…] about The Top 10 NYC Restaurant’s I’ve Been to for Manhattan Digest
Valentine’s Day, the biggest day of love (outside of my eternal crush for Chris Pratt), is only two weeks away. Millions of couples will be together and celebrate their love for one another, and of course it is another day where you can get the person you love something really special. So what are some good choices for you to get them that will leave them with a smile on their face and a kiss on the lips hopefully? Well, Manhattan Digest has got you covered. Take a look at our picks for what you should get your honey on V Day.
[Read more…] about Valentine’s Day Gifts for your Manhattan Sweetie!
Winter seems to finally be here, and with the season comes cold weather. And, since the low temps were late this year, a lot of us are completely unprepared for the upcoming months. You’ve got your coat and scarf, the bare minimums for staying warm, but what about your hands? Many people forgo gloves so they can text or scroll through Instagram, putting your hands at risk for dry skin, stiffness, and even frost bite. But you don’t have to choose between using your hands and keeping them warm anymore.
HONNS gloves are stylish, warm, and have touch screen friendly index and thumb fingertips. Each pair is handcrafted, made of lambskin from English tanneries, and curved to mimic the natural shape of hands. They slide on and fit like a glove should, without getting in the way or taking away your fingers’ mobility. And unlike fleece gloves that are warm until they get wet, HONNS gloves are naturally water-resistant.
There is good reason why the stage versions of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and George Balanchine’s Nutcracker have endured: They are reliable classics that warm the heart and instill a feeling that, as the song goes, “our troubles will be miles away”. Still, they are not the only shows in town which will- figuratively speaking- add some glitter to your holiday balls. Below, you’ll find a variety of options throughout the city which will aid in making your theatrical yuletide merry:
Frances Hill, the Artistic director of Urban Stages admittedly was nervous. At a recent performance of playwright Oren Safdie’s Unseamly , she expressed concern in her curtain speech about how how subscribers and audiences might react to this edgy roman a clef play about sexual harassment. Her fears weren’t completely unwarranted; Unseamly isn’t exactly the kind of play you want to bring home to mother. It is however, a furious, filthy, and fascinating look into media manipulation, the process of spin, and the consequence of salacious action.
Ripped straight from the headlines, Unseamly is an unraveling of sorts about the CEO and founder of a major apparel store that is um..American. For those of you who haven’t been paying attention, it is the recently bankrupt American Apparel. You see what I did there? (Ahem) Anyway…
The 90 minute drama opens with Malina (Gizel Jimenez), an aspiring model who is seeking legal justice from her lawyer, Adam (Tommy Schrider). Malina’s hopes of legitimate modeling are soon dashed when her loathsome boss Ira Slatsky (Jonathan Silver) begins demanding more from her sexually. Early on, she is presented with a sex toy from him and one has to inquire why it didn’t end there. Still, she continues playing for far too long. Once accusations fly, an arrogant Slatsky feels as though he can get can escape them unscathed. Eventually, his rocky roller coaster of seduction comes to a screeching halt. Adam debates whether or not to pursue the case since it turns into a matter of Malina’s word against Slatsky’s word.
Safdie’s approach to this emotion-filled topic is smart, engaging, and thoughtful. It would be easy to vilify Slatsky, and while his tactics are by no means upstanding, Safdie does not pin the blame solely on him. A slight degree of culpability also rests with Malina, who is well aware of what straight men like and is happy to deliver the goods. Still, one must be mindful of a seventeen year old brain and the naivete, regardless of gender, that is can possess. Safdie has also painted his lawyer with a grey brush, suggesting that he is also not a figure of virtue.
Sarah Carlsen’s direction is sound and all three of her actors are very fine. What could easily slip into a syrupy lesson on sexual harassment is instead a well made, tightly knit tapestry. Kudos to Frances Hill and Urban Stages, who now know that risks like this can often create a riveting night of theater.
Unseamly runs now through November 8th at Urban Stages, 259 West 30th street between 7th and 8th. For tickets and information http://urbanstages.org/
“Fake it ‘till you make it” and “Be true to yourself” are the basic themes of The Legend of Georgia McBride, which has been playing a successful (and extended) run at downtown’s Lucille Lortel theater. This weekend, the make-up kits and glittery gowns will be packed away as the MCC Theater company prepares for their next offering, Lost Girls.
Georgia McBride tells an unorthodox tale of Casey (Dave Thomas Brown), an Elvis Presley devotee who spends his time imitating the King at Eddie’s (Wayne Duvall) run down dive bar in Panama City, Florida. The watering hole, called Cleo’s, isn’t attracting any customers, leaving Casey very little take home pay for him and his newly pregnant wife, Jo (Afton Williamson). Enter Tracy Mills (Matt McGrath), a family relative to Eddie who delivers more sass than a Gospelfest in Newark. She is joined by her sidekick, Rexy (Keith Nobbs). After Eddie decides to eighty-six the Elvis bit and spruce up the live entertainment with a Mills hosted drag show, a desperate Casey is left with little alternative but to follow suit…er..um….gown?!?! Instantly, he is transformed into an awkward, but eventually dazzling, Edith Piaf lip-sync princess.
Matthew Lopez’s wispy show, helmed with a light but able hand by Mike Donahue doesn’t break any new ground. Like drag-themed shows that have come before (Kinky Boots, Priscilla: Queen of the Desert, Victor/Victoria, and La Cage Aux Folles), it sends the same Oprah-fied message of “living your best life.” Georgia McBride delves a bit deeper, however, and offers a rare glimpse into the lives and struggles of drag artists. The result is the same feel-good, aspiring feeling that its predecessors inhabit–with a little more perception and heart. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s blessed with a cast of Manolo Blahnik quality.
Anita Yavich’s showy costumes and Ben Stanton’s lighting add the perfect contrast to scenic designer Donyale Werle’s appropriately dingy set. Paul McGill’s choreography is the cherry on top of this faaaaaaa-bulous sundae.
The Legend of Georgia McBride runs through this weekend at the Lucille Lortel Theater, 121 Christopher St. For tickets and information, visit: http://www.mcctheater.org/
As some of you may already know, there is an absolutely amazing premium leather handbag designer named Patricia Nash. Her products are not your run of the mill leather bags. They have beautiful detail, old world touches, and are built to last.
Patricia Nash had spent years designing for other companies like Disney, Warner Bros., Banana Republic, Express, and American Eagle- just to name a few. A challenge from a friend led to the launch of Patricia Nash Designs in 2010, which has received an overwhelming response with her products extending to stores like Macy’s, Dillard’s, Nordstrom, and various boutiques nationwide.
I am a proud owner of the Salerno Saddle Bag, and I can tell you that Patricia Nash’s products’ quality are like no other. The leather strap is so sturdy, and the bag itself is small and structured- great for a day out or daily use. The inside is perfect for orderly keeping of your wallet, phone, and planner. The structured sides are perfect- you’ll never go diving into the bottom of your bag again. Plus, there are two pockets inside that are perfect for keys, change, or other small objects you like to keep easily accessible. And, my favorite feature is the snap that secures the the flap to the purse itself. I accidentally sent the purse crashing down my steps, filled with my wallet, phone, pens, spare change, and various lip balms and absolutely nothing came out! It is absolutely the best snap closure I have ever experienced, which makes it perfect for clumsy folks like myself.
I was given the opportunity to ask Patricia a few questions, so here is what she has to say about her brand.
Your designs are not like anything else that we see today. They have such intricate detail that I have yet to see from any other designer. What are some inspirations behind your brand?
Patricia Nash: “My travels across Europe have provided many inspirations, including vintage shopping in Bologna, London, and Paris. I’ve developed friendships with people who share the same passion for vintage Italian leather bags as I do, and have been inspired by their collections as well as my own.”
You’ve accomplished so much with your brand in a short period of time. So, how does it feel for your career to be where it is now, and for you to do what you love everyday?
Patricia Nash: “Surreal! I am just humbled by the outpouring of women who reach out to me and share their passion for and loyalty with the brand with me.”
With such stunning and high quality products, I’d imagine that a lot of women appreciate your designs and your brand as a whole. What about Patricia Nash Designs really sets your products apart from other leather handbag designers?
Patricia Nash: “The old world craftsmanship and vintage vegetable tanned Italian leathers along with printed and tooled leather are unique to the entire market of handbags sold in the U.S.”
First of all, thank you to Patricia Nash for taking the time to tell us more about her one of a kind brand, Patricia Nash Designs.
The handbag shown in this article is the Salerno Saddle Bag in Florence.
Get your own Patricia Nash authentic Italian leather handbag and other great products like wallets, stationary, scarves, footwear, and more at patricianashdesigns.com
A riddle: What do you get when you cross Ronald Reagan, Barbara Walters, Roy Cohn’s mother, Julius Rosenberg, random appearances by a stuffed frog, a Latina caregiver, a cameo from Richard Nixon and a African-American Adonis named “Serge?” If anyone can offer an accurate guess, please contact me. After sitting through a painful 90 minutes of the new Off-Broadway play In Bed With Roy Cohn, I’m not sure that even its playwright Joan Beber nor her director, Katrin Hilbe have the answer to this brainteaser.
Cohn (Christopher Daftsios) was a prominent, Manhattan lawyer who made his mark during Senator Joe McCarthy’s witch hunt into US Communist activity in the 1950s. Later, he represented prolific mafia figures, Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager of the famed Studio 54, and even real estate mogul slash current GOP rabble-rouser Donald Trump. Cohn’s brash, pit bull style made him one of the most feared and despised figures in legal and social realms of the eighties. Self loathing and egomania guided his contempt towards fellow Jews and homosexuals and he died of AIDS in 1986 (his closeted nature forced him to deny the diagnosis to his dying day.)
In Bed With Roy Cohn chronicles the last days of Cohn’s life. Personalities appear in his state of dementia and deliver various lines of non-cohesive gibberish, making it nearly impossible to form a collective picture of its subject. You’ll understand who this complex personality was with a little internet research or by watching Tony Kushner’s masterpiece, Angels In America. But with all the mishegas in this show, you’ll have no idea whether you’re seeing a piece on Roy Cohn or Roy Rogers.
God bless the cast, though. They are doing their best to scoop water from this inevitable Titanic and they all deserve better material. Near her demise, Cohn’s mother (Marilyn Sokol) laments, “I have no story”- a line that generally summarizes the whole messy bed. I really thought that Doctor Zhivago would walk off with the prize of being the worst theatrical experience of 2015, but my vote was premature: In Bed With Roy Cohn currently holds that title.
In Bed With Roy Cohn is now playing on Theater Row (W. 42nd between 9th and 10th avenues). For tickets and more information, visit http://www.inbedwithroycohn.com
As tends to be the case with the Museum of Sex, the current exhibitions offer a hit-and-miss experience. The relatively tiny museum, located at the corner of 5th Avenue and 27th Street in Manhattan, houses a couple regular displays (one room dedicated to how various animals copulate, another showcasing the museum’s permanent collection), but there’s always space for two rotating features, which vary widely in terms of execution and content—hence the current exhibitions, “Hardcore: A Century and a Half of Obscene Imagery,” and “Splendor in the Grass: A Kinesthetic Camping Ground.”
While both exhibitions have one very obvious common denominator (sex), they explore the topic in almost polar opposite ways. The former does so historically, looking chronologically at archives of pornography that date back to a time when the idea of sexual expression was pretty much nonexistent in the public realm (we’ll get to exhibition number two later). Walking through these displayed archives proves a genuinely fascinating experience, especially as it does an excellent job of revealing various precursors to our modern day conceptions of what’s sexy.
For instance, altering photographs to achieve sexual ideals has been practiced for ages. Today, Photoshop accounts for many of the sexualized images we see in places as mundane as subway cars and billboards—and don’t think for a second that higher-end porn doesn’t involve a good bit of editing to make the subjects more attractive. Thus, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that people back in the late 1800s felt that their pornographic photos could benefit from extra touch-ups.
Basically, porn-inspired masturbators did what anyone in the 21st Century with Photoshop would have done—they cut and pasted to create the naked bodies of their dreams. In one collection of erotic photographs found in a Brooklyn brownstone from this period, it was clear that someone had taken to them with scissors, selecting faces from certain photographs to paste atop the bodies from others. If porn was more out in the open back then, the first people to have done this could have certainly benefited from a patent of their genius idea.
Of course, sexual repression was an underlying theme of the “Hardcore” exhibition. It made sure to detail the anti-porn crusade of Anthony Comstock, the man behind the Comstock Act of 1873, which made it illegal first to mail contraception and then was amended several years later to forbid the mailing of all “lewd and lascivious material” (aka, all kinds of porn).
So that porn collection found in the Brooklyn brownstone—it was actually found in the walls of said brownstone, as Comstock had made it his mission in the 1870s to destroy all the erotic content he (and those on his side) could get their puritanical hands on.
This included same sex materials, which were lacking in this MoSex exhibition—but not by any fault of the museum’s. Same sex porn was largely destroyed over the years, not just via Comstock’s crusade but because it was deemed unnatural by many cultures. Considering the United States Supreme Court just made same sex marriage legal nationwide, it makes sense that 19th Century attitudes about this genre of erotica were proportionally backwards.
Further showcasing historical precursors to modern day ideas about porn, “Hardcore” made a point of touching on the “exotic,” a category of porn that was sought after even before the internet thoroughly globalized the industry. Today, people are fascinated by “other cultures” (to put it not-so-crassly). Straight, white guys love to watch Asian chicks getting it on, to name one, popular stereotype (and to put it crassly).
Centuries ago, this manifested in “anthropologists” traveling to foreign lands and bringing back pictures of these lands’ naked inhabitants. In other words, disingenuous people went to other countries pretending to be anthropologists so they could coerce people there into posing naked for them. How horribly sleazy…at least we can take (dis)comfort in the fact that the sex industry never changes.
In complete contrast to “Hardcore,” the museum’s second temporary exhibition, “Splendor in the Grass,” explores sex haphazardly, almost like a 12-year-old boy trying to exact his first hand job. The second in a series of “Kinesthesia Art Commissions” at MoSex, the first being Bompas & Parr’s Funland (the boob moon bounce from which has made it into the museum’s permanent collection), Studio Droog’s attempt at making sensual “art” interactive feels like it was thrown together at the last minute. Quick, guys, we have to get this MoSex thing ready! Let’s, uh, pitch a few tents, grab some mirrors, get a fog machine, and…that should do it!
Yes, this exhibition literally relies on smoke and mirrors to make an impression on museumgoers. Set up like a camping trip, “Splendor in the Grass” (named after the line in the Wordsworth poem) consists of multiple tents, each of which are meant to provide sensory experiences for those who enter. The first one, dedicated to “self exploration,” is made up of multiple mirrors strung together in such a way that they never quite stay still as you’re examining yourself. This makes for a sensation of dizziness that precludes actually looking at the mirrors for long enough to examine anything.
The next tent over features a semi-amorphous blob draped in a green, prickly material that visitors are invited to graze with their hands, creating a tingly sensation that’s helped along by creepy, whispering commentary that seem to emanate from this amorphous blob—oh, wait, it’s supposed to be the form of a reclining woman? Yes, you can tell for sure now that a little, red, laser-size dot has lit up where “her” nipple should be.
These are followed by three other tents, one of which offers a Twister-esque game without any instructions or logic to it, another of which is filled with the smoke part of the whole “smoke and mirrors” display, and the last of which had something to do with body heat but was apparently broken when my friend and I tried it out (so the “park ranger,” or the exhibition’s supervisor, concluded when nothing really happened after we went inside). Lastly, there’s a faux campfire displayed on the wall that cycles through erotic pictures, making it look as if these frolicking, sexing people are being slowly roasted away like marshmallows.
Ultimately, while “Splendor in the Grass” relies on a lot of materials, sounds, and colors to engage museumgoers, “Hardcore” doesn’t need to because the idea behind it was actually well thought out and interesting. Hopefully the artists at Studio Droog have a much better understanding of sex than what their exhibition portrays—for their partners’ sakes.
Hemingway, Verne, Melville, and Homer are all highly canonized classic authors with one thing common: they’ve all written books with nautical themes that are assigned to high school and college students all across the country. Trouble is, when any of their great works (The Old Man and The Sea, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Moby Dick, and Odyssey, respectively) are mentioned, it is usually followed by a blank stare, a vague recollection, and/or a quiet, nearly shameful murmuring that the book was studied , but deemed “boring” by the reader.
Thanks to Naked Angels Theater Company and director Liz Carlson, the symbolic ocean tale has been vividly re-imagined and made exceptionally cool in Seawife, a new immersive musical production currently housed at the South Street Seaport Museum.
The Museum, which itself has been revitalized after weathering Hurricane Sandy and economic travails, offers appropriate rustic ambiance to the story of Percy (first portrayed by Tommy Crawford and later by Will Turner), a young boy destined to follow in his father’s footsteps of being a harpooner. Told through the lens of his sidekick, Caldi (Tony Vo), he weaves a riveting tale of swashbuckling as only he can since, “I am bound to it, as I am the only one who knows it.” The show also brilliantly offers a quiet ecological warning about the sea and those who care for it. The lesson invokes thought, but avoids the urge to proselytize.
A wonderfully tuneful folk-rock score accompanies the story including mandolins, banjos, and fiddles. The Lobbyists, a talented group of musicians are featured as both the band and a majority of the cast. Clocking in at over 2 1/2 hours the show occasionally lags, but once this expansively talented troupe begins their next song, all is forgiven. By collaborating with playwright Seth Moore and an imaginative creative team, they have taken what has become a staid genre and given it a hip, fresh, makeover that is as entertaining as the ocean is vast.
SeaWife plays Tuesday through Sunday at 7:00 PM through July 19th, 2015 at the South Street Seaport Museum (213 Water Street, Manhattan) Tickets are $40 and can be purchased at BrownPaperTickets.com For more information about the show and The Lobbyists, visit seawife.org