Mohonk Mountain House. Photograph by Jim Smith
At this point in American history, we could all use a little more peace and relaxation, a bit of Zen, and there’s arguably no better place to find this than up in the Catskill Mountains, a quick three-hour hop due north.
Once a schmaltzy resort area popular with the Don Rickles set, the region has lately become a destination for those seeking inner peace, thanks to its easily navigable cluster of spiritual getaways like ashrams and temples. The experiences here are as varied as people’s reasons for visiting. At Ananda Ashram in Monroe, you can stop by for a yoga intensive, or lessons in Sanskrit. Over at Sivananda Ashram Yoga Ranch in Woodbourne, an hour northwest, 70-plus acres offer seriously serene nature walks and a detoxifying Russian wood-burning sauna. Closer to Woodstock, Zen Mountain Monastery has a popular Sunday morning meditation-for-beginners series as well as Zen for kids. Read more »
Stephen Starr landed a major restaurant plaudit in the New York Times today.
Well-respected critic Pete Wells, famed for his scathing reviews of Guy Fieri’s American Kitchen & Bar and Señor Frog’s, put Starr’s Le Coucou at number one on his Top New York Restaurants of 2016 list.
“The genius of this project from the chef Daniel Rose and the restaurateur Stephen Starr is that it gives us almost everything we loved about New York’s old-line French restaurants without the things we didn’t,” Wells writes. “The dining room isn’t stuffy, the service isn’t snooty, and people don’t get seated in Siberia if their pronunciation of boeuf bourguignon doesn’t have the right backhand spin.” Read more »
The best Twitter account in Philadelphia is @eastwes. His account is so good, one of his tweets is becoming a musical.
This requires some ridiculous backstory, so strap in. About two years ago, hip-hop collective the Wu-Tang Clan announced it would sell just one copy of its new album, Once Upon a Time in Shaolin. The double-CD album was sold at auction late last year to a secret bidder with explicit rules: It could be streamed or released for free, but couldn’t be commercially exploited until 2103.
A few months later, Bloomberg broke the bidder’s name: Martin Shkreli. Though he’d attracted controversy before, Shkreli was mostly unknown until he came to wide public attention months earlier when the New York Times reported his pharmaceutical company had purchased an old drug named Daraprim and raised the price from $13.50 a tablet to $750. “It really doesn’t make sense to get any criticism for this,” he told the Times.
Though it was a much less important situation, people may have been even angrier when they found out Shkreli bought the Wu-Tang album for a reported $2 million — especially after he threatened to destroy it. The news bounced around the Internet. And Rob Wesley (aka @eastwes) tweeted a joke. Read more »
If you’re ringing in the New Year in New York, why not add some theater to your celebrations? Two comedies — one gay, one transgender — might be just the ticket. Both can be found off-Broadway, within a block of each other on 42nd Street, and both are in charmingly intimate venues that will make you feel almost part of the action. Best of all, they’re superbly performed, and will leave you with a smile (and, in the case of Hir, a lot to think about!).
Malcolm Gets, Jerry Dixon, Mario Cantone and Matt McGrath in “Steve” | Photo by Monique Carboni
Mark Gerrard’s play – a mostly humorous study of how quickly the comfortable lives of middle-aged adults can be disrupted – works hard to please the audience, and it does. The show is laced with funny one-liners, brightly paced by director Cynthia Nixon, and expertly performed by six fine comic actors, especially Matt McGrath and Mario Cantone. Ultimately, I found its affluent world too insular, but there’s plenty of humor and pathos. If you go, by all means get there early. There’s a captivating preshow concert of musical theater songs, lustily delivered by the cast. And make sure you stay for the deliciously sly curtain call, a mini-show in itself – it’s beguiling from start to finish, and you’ll want to sing along. (Full review here.)
Through January 3rd, New Group at the Pershing Square Signature Center, 480 West 42nd Street, thenewgroup.org.
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We here in Philadelphia have been at it a while. Pope Francis was installed in March 2013. Immediately after, Philadelphia archbishop Charles Chaput said he was already writing a letter to invite the new pope to attend. Even before his election, Chaput had said the new pope would likely attend the World Meeting of Families.
We here in Philadelphia have been preparing for a Pope visit for a while. And, as such, we’ve been complaining about it for a while, too. The pope will also stop in New York and Washington, D.C., for smaller events before the big parades and Mark Wahlberg-hosted festival in Philadelphia. And these two cities are just starting to learn how much Pope Francis’ visit will disrupt their daily lives.
Yesterday, New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said the pope’s visit was “the largest security challenge the department and this city have ever faced.” Like in Philadelphia, lots of streets are being closed. And there is also an exhaustive list of prohibited items for the Pope’s visit. The Pope will be in New York from the night of the 24th to the morning of the 26th. Read more »
Bradley Cooper joins the ranks of decades of celebrities who have been honored with a portrait that now hangs in Sardi’s Restaurant in Manhattan’s Theater District. The honor is akin to getting a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, but here your mug is at the mercy of a caricature artist. As one USA Today blogger points out, Cooper’s portrait “certainly resembles the Oscar- and Tony-nominated actor, but it also, um, looks like a woman. Maybe it’s the lip color and eyelashes?”
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The latest issue of Out magazine features a photographic feature chronicling the members of New York City gay bikers organization Empire City Motorcycle Club (ECMC), the oldest ongoing gay all-riding organization in the nation.
Among the riders making an appearance is Philly’s Gary Philly (not his real last name), a member of local leather club Philadelphians MC, who became a full member of ECMC in a year ago this month. His involvement with the group began in 2012, when “I went to ride in the New York City Pride parade as a member of the Philadelphians MC. There I discovered an entire group of guys in a mandatory motorcycle-owning, riding club.”
Gary currently lives in Philly, which begs the question: Is being part of the club worth trucking up to New York on a regular basis? That’s a hike even if you do have motorcycle. But he says it’s the sense of togetherness that keeps him going back.
“It’s the brotherhood of the motorcycle riders in the club. We are a very close group, we support each other throughout the year on and off our motorcycles.”
Gary is the second Philadelphian in the past few months to make it in a national gay magazine. Last fall former G Philly cover model and local choreographer Gunnar Montana appeared on the cover of Instinct.
Check out Gary and the rest of his riding buddies in the Out article, here.
It looks like New York is going to drive a tough bargain if Comcast wants that state’s approval to complete a merger with Time Warner Cable.
We knew that already, but a Sunday editorial in the New York Daily News is urging state regulators there to drive an even harder bargain, noting that other capitals of world commerce — including Seoul, Hong Kong, and even Latvia — have better Internet speeds than what is typically available in New York City.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo should demand better, the paper says.
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In a policy decision that will no doubt be heard in Pennsylvania, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo will ban fracking in the state. New York has had a de facto ban for several years, predating Cuomo’s administration.
Fracking in Pennsylvania is centered in the Marcellus Shale, which stretches from surrounding states into Western Pennsylvania and Northwestern New York. It was an issue in the governor’s race largely because of Tom Wolf’s push to tax fracking to fund schools.
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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo | Photo by Shutterstock.com
This week, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo will send letters to insurance carriers in his state notifying them that they must cover gender-reassignment surgeries that are deemed by a doctor to be medically necessary. More from The New York Times:
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