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Actor-Director Ajay Naidu Will Eat Sugar But Only for Uma Thurman

Ajay Naidu — known for his role as Sameer in Office Space and for parts in The West Wing and other shows — reported to the set of Griffin Dunne's new romantic comedy, The Accidental Husband, while also doing post-production work on his directorial debut, Ashes. We wondered how a man who was at the mercy of Craft services and who had recently quit sugar (making it "doubly hard to get around and be satisfied in New York") could survive for a week. Luckily, his co-star Uma Thurman convinced him to eat a cookie.

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A Brief Rant Occasioned By Talk of a Potential Takeover Attempt at the New York Times Co.

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Speaking of loving the Times, this seems as good a time as any to make a few points about Hank Greenberg, dual-class ownership structures, that prig Hassan Elmasry at Morgan Stanley Investment Management, and the great, good benevolence of the Ochs-Sulzberger family. It's simple, really: Notwithstanding whatever noise to the contrary you've been hearing lately, the New York Times Co. will not be sold. Say it again, together: The Times Co. will not be sold. The Sulzbergers have all the power, and — much as one might like to mock their current leader, Arthur Jr., and much as he may have made a series of a stupid strategic decisions — they're not going to let anyone else buy it. And that's a good thing.

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The ‘Times’ Answers Our Financial Questions

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See, this is why we love the Times. (And why we love our readers, who called the Times piece to our attention.) Yesterday, while bestowing due huzzahs upon the delightful news that the MTA will not raise fares in 2007, we were tripped up by an unexplained statement in the Daily News. "The agency gets revenues from real estate transactions," New York's hometown paper baldly asserted, going on to claim that the mammoth Stuy Town sale will result in a windfall for the Transit Authority. How, we wondered, does this happen? In today's Times, William Neuman, bless his metro-y heart, explains:
Mr. Kalikow spoke yesterday at a meeting of the authority's board, at which officials announced that a tax windfall from the sale of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village would help pay for new paint jobs in 200 subway stations. The $52 million needed to paint the stations will come from a total of $81.6 million that the transportation authority will receive in mortgage and transfer taxes from the sale, which totaled nearly $5.4 billion. The authority receives a percentage of the transfer and mortgage taxes collected on real estate sales in New York City, and the taxes have become an important part of the agency's financing.
And now you know. Walkway Between Subways Is Promised for Transit Hub [NYT] Earlier: MTA Won't Raise Fares, Thanks, Somehow, to Stuy Town

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Dick Parsons Continues to Maybe Plan to Run for Mayor

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You might have seen yesterday's news that Time Warner chairman and CEO Dick Parsons, speaking at the Reuters Media Summit, did not explicitly reject the possibility that he might run for mayor in 2009. ("[W]hile saying he was not running for the job, he suddenly sounded a lot more like a man who wants to keep the option open," is how the Times put it.) You might also have seen Cindy Adams told-you-so-ing that "I told you this months back, at which time Mr. Parsons said no-no-a-thousand-times no." We'll just quickly point out that Ms. Adams's item, from April 19, merely said "Time Warner big mouths … [were] salivating over boyohboyohboy what a shot this African-American multimillionaire businessman would have." And we'll further point out, while these told-you-sos are being told, that Geoffrey Gray reported in August 21 issue of New York, that "[i]nsiders say that it's all but official: Richard Parsons, Time Warner's chairman and CEO, will run for mayor." That's all. Business Chief Hedges, a Bit, on Running for Mayor [NYT] A Movie Star Goes for Moore on B'Way [NYP] Is Parsons the New Bloomberg? [NYM]

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Dear God, Not the McSweeney's!

Clinton Hill: Living in a storefront means big windows and your very own pull-down gate. [ClintonHillBlog] Dyker Heights: You've never heard of this neighborhood, but you've gotta see the Christmas lights. [Gowanus Lounge] Harlem: Finally, white people have a place to turn for answers about neighborhood real estate. [Bagel in Harlem] Park Slope: Mail carriers no longer making it to the top of brownstone steps; issues of McSweeney's lost to the elements. [Brooklyn Record]

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‘Cold, Sweet, Liquid Crack’ Mourned

Daniel Maurer recently wrote about the fact that El Sombrero is no longer offering their margaritas (or, as we like to call them, "crackaritas") to go. Dear Grub Street, The crackdown at the Hat is the biggest heartbreaker. I am totally convinced that those margaritas were filled with crack. Cold, sweet, delicious, barely detectable crack. The guy gave me a wink and said they would be back, just give them time. So my fingers are crossed. Elizabeth Spiridakis Dear Grub Street, FYI: The secret ingredient of the "crackarita" was not tequila at all but Everclear. I used to live across the street in the apartment above the wine store and saw them pour a bottle of Everclear into every batch. Mario Haro Elizabeth and Mario, The restaurant says it uses Tortilla Tequila Silver, an obscure favorite of fratire author Tucker Max that's pretty much the cheapest tequila money can buy.

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Jason Neroni: I Love Wylie, But ...

A friend of Porchetta chef Jason Neroni has alerted us to the fact that, despite having taken over for Wylie Dufresne at 71 Clinton Fresh Foods before starting his new gig, Neroni does not consider Dufresne his mentor. "Because Wylie made such a name for 71 Clinton Fresh Food, I think people tend to compare our styles a lot," Neroni tells us. "But Smith Street isn't the Lower East Side, and I'm in this business to do what I love, and to be myself." The chef credits Alice Waters and Dan Hill for teaching him about ingredients, Floyd Cardoz for teaching him about "multidimensionality," and Alain Ducasse for teaching him to "slow down, combine all the elements, and create a cuisine that I could, for the first time, truly consider to be mine." A Restaurant Revolution on Smith Street? [Grub Street]

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Daniel's Bernard Vrod Serves Presidents, Gets Wife Free Meals

An ex-pat of gloomy Brittany like so many classic French waiters, Bernard Vrod has been working under fellow farmboy Daniel Boulud for sixteen years, first as a waiter at Le Cirque and, these days, as a maitre d' at Daniel. We asked him to take us into the latter's hallowed halls and got tales of Secret Service shakedowns, fowl on the floor, and marriage proposals nearly gone awry.

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Seek and Ye Just Might Find

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It's only two days since Mayor Bloomberg vowed — for the second time — to devote more attention, time, and manpower to sweeping lower Manhattan for 9/11 debris, including human remains. And today brings a brutal reminder that more than mere conscience-cleaning formality is at stake: Three more victims were identified from remains found at ground zero. The city released the names of two; one of them, miraculously, turned out to be Karen Martin, a flight attendant on American 11 stabbed by the hijackers for putting up resistance. The other, Douglas Stone, was a passenger on that same flight. Their families had submitted DNA samples back in 2001 but hadn't heard anything in years; their reactions, as told to the Daily News, betray mostly surprise. "This is really nice," said one relative. "This comes out of the blue," said another. So why isn't the Bloomberg administration trumpeting this news as a major forensic success and a large step toward closure — all thanks to our managerial mayor? Because the city appears to have had all the pieces of the puzzle in place for quite some time -- the remains and the families' DNA samples -- without bothering to do anything about it. Oh, wait. The Bloombergians are trumpeting it anyway. We'll spare you the unseemly chest-beating, but read the last paragraph of the News article if you just can't help yourself. More 9/11 Vics ID'd [NYDN] Earlier: Bloomie Promises a Thorough Search, Again

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A Japanese Gastropub and Other Openings; KFC's New Recipe Tastes Like Chicken

• More on "Japanese gastropub" Zenkichi, Lower East Side brick-oven pizzeria Cronkite, and others; Antoine Bouterin packs it in. [NYT] • Taste-testers prefer trans-fat-free KFC. [NYDN] • Cuozzo presses Michael Lomonaco for 9/11 memories, likes the drapes at his new place. [NYP] • Guss's in a legal pickle. [NYP] • Patsy's, too, fights for its name. [NYS] • Park Slope sandwich and gelato spot Tempo Presto's latest locale. [NYS] • Vendy victor is doing brisk business. [NYDN] • Emily Sprissler blows the whistle on "rat-trap" conditions (and Padma's cellulite) on the "Top Chef" set. [Chow]

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Daniel Under Attack! (Again)

You may remember this Intelligencer item, from earlier this summer, about the face-off between Daniel Boulud and an activist group called the Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York. (Coincidentally, we just responded to an article quoting an ROC spokesperson.) Well, the advocacy group is once again on the attack: The group protested Daniel's allegedly discriminatory employment practices outside the restaurant Tuesday night. A well-groomed Johnnie acting on behalf of the restaurant handed out flyers printed with, "Two, four, six, eight, Daniel does NOT discriminate!" and other lines defending the restaurant. It was signed by Daniel De La Rosa, a captain who has been with the restaurant for ten years. "This is all over four busboys who make over 50,000 a year," Brett Traussi, the restaurant's director of operations told us. "For the ROC to pick on a high-profile restaurant like Daniel to increase their exposure is regrettable." No doubt. But watching the parade of aged grandees walking in between the Scylla and Charybdis of a ROC representative and De La Rosa was a spectacle we wouldn't have missed.

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Looking for Love on a Listserv (Or, in All the Wrong Places)

We're all familiar with the almighty alumni listerv — that source of mild e-mailed irritation, delivering a steady stream of requests for apartment leads, neighborhood advice, and, inevitably from a onetime rush chair, attendance at a really! fun! drinks night. For j-school alumni — like, say, those who attended Northwestern University's Medill — that standard stew is further flavored with discussions of journalism ethics and occasional pleas for help finding sources. Which is why an inquiry to that list yesterday stood out:

From: Mandy Stadtmiller
Date: Nov 1, 2006 2:35 PM
Subject: Looking for love in NYC, okay on the apt situation
To: [MedillNY listserv]

Any leads send them my way — thanks!

Mandy Stadtmiller
BSJ '97
Was Stadtmiller — a features writer at the Post — really using her alumni list as a no-fee Nerve personals? (Online dating is sexy; online dating with journalists is sexier?) Or was this maybe — please! — just a gimmick for a story?

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Mark Foley on Screen; Brad Pitt in His Boxers

Before Mark Foley discovered IM, he discovered acting. (Straight to DVD, natch.) Brad Pitt is pissed he's on the cover of Vanity Fair in rain-soaked skivvies. Angry Tiki Barber is retiring at the top of his game? Blame his wife! Lydia Hearst was denied entry to Scores, partied elsewhere. Sharon Stone backed out of a Children Affected by AIDS Foundation benefit over an ill-designed Barbie doll. Weatherman Dave Price might be the next host of The Price is Right. Bill Clinton sang "Happy Birthday" to his assistant. Elle Macpherson bought 200 iPods. Bette Midler threw a Halloween party; guests dressed up. A bunch of Truman Capote memorabilia is up for auction. For the love of God, "Page Six," we get it: You guys beat the Daily News in circulation. Back to the real gossip, please?

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Bette and Joy's Happy, Raunchy Halloween

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How does Bette Midler celebrate Halloween? If her tenth annual Hulaween Gala at the Waldorf the other night was any indication, by lacing into a string of good-natured obscenities to browbeat other celebs into supporting her New York Restoration Project, which cleans up, replants, and maintains neglected city parks. It was a crowd of well-heeled, big-drinking nature lovers, all of whom had enough money to buy some fabulous costumes, like the man dressed as a Christmas tree covered in ornaments and the half-dozen Andy Warhols roaming about, including an unrecognizable Michael Kors, who'd added a prosthetic forehead and nose to his face. "What are you, Golda Meir?" Harvey Fierstein, dressed as John from Peter Pan, asked Midler's co-emcee, Joy Behar. "No! What? I'm the Queen!" she replied, hitting his arm. "I'm the blues," said Willie Nelson, dressed in a black suit and looking exactly like Willie Nelson. "I'm Flora, the goddess of the garden," said Midler, her thoughts trailing off. "Who are you?" she continued. "Oh! It's Shalom. Goodness, what are you, dear?" Shalom Harlow, in a bikini, satin robe, Afro, and abdomen full of bullet wounds, said she and her date were dressed as Scarface. As she reached to say hello to Midler, she spilled a sizable amount of "coke" all over the Waldorf's pristine carpet. Midler laughed. No one bothered to clean it up.

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It's Springtime for Hitler Kid

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• You've got to hand it to the Hitler Kid: After getting ejected from school for donning the costume on Halloween, yesterday he wore it again — this time for the media, and purely in protest. This is quickly turning into the lamest ACLU case ever. [NYP] • You do not cross American Girl Place. The Mattel-owned dainty emporium has filed a complaint against Actors' Equity that says AEA has been goading its employees to unionize. This is going to be like On the Waterfront, except with Barbies. [NYDN] • ExamGate! Staten Island high-school administrators may have tampered with grades on Regents exams and directed teachers to do it as well. A whopping seventeen science teachers came forward with the accusations. Better late than never, we suppose (the exams were administered in June). On a lighter note, but on the same theme, a Brooklyn high-school principal has distributed a pie chart explaining her new grading system — with the slices totaling more than 100 percent. [NYT, NYDN] • A Bronx man is DOA at St. Barnabas after a police shootout. According to the cops, two plainclothes officers clearly saw the gunman armed and assaulting another man; the DOA fired first. [WNBC] • And, it's beginners' luck for the Knicks, who eked out their first win (against Memphis, 118-117) under coach Isiah Thomas. In a more disturbing portent, it took them three OTs to do so. [amNY]

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Movies, Movies, and Statesmen

Tonight's boldfaced parties:Casting Society of America Awards. Caroline's, 1626 Broadway, nr. 50th St., 4:45 p.m. Presenters include John Krasinski, Swoosie Kurtz, Bob Martin, Annabella Sciorra, and Joe Pantoliano; the lifetime-achievement prize is going to casting director Juliet Taylor for her work on Annie Hall, Taxi Driver, and many other films. We're skeptical: Wouldn't those movies have been better if De Niro and Allen switched roles?

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Even With Big Circ, ‘Post’ Gets Sued

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Plaintiff: Christopher Capanelli Defendants: NYP Holdings, doing business as New York Post; K. Rupert Murdoch; Joseph Vincent; Lloyd Vasquez Accusation: It's a lovefest at the New York Post this week, but, as always happens, someone is trying to ruin the party. In a lawsuit filed October 25 in Bronx Supreme Court, Rupert Murdoch and his Posties are accused of launching an aggressive campaign of intimidation to squeeze out the Pressman's Union.

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The Ham That Drives Men Mad

New York Magazine has gone Spain-crazy this week. Adam Platt sates his bottomless hunger at Boqueria, and Rob Patronite and Robin Raisfeld interview Spain's most illustrious chef, Ferran Adrià of El Bulli. Let Grub Street pile on, then, with talk of the secret society of Spanish pork. This society may be unofficial, but we belong to it. It is made of men and women who have tasted the meat of the celebrated pata negra, or black-foot pig, and will do anything for more. "Once you taste ibérico, you can't compare it to anything else," Bar Jamón chef Andy Nusser has said. The society's holy grail, though, remains tantalizingly out of reach for Americans — even ones with a deep affinity for Spain.

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Doctors and Lawyers Look Beyond Burgers Around 72nd and Second

Strollers crisscross with lawyers and Lenox Hill Hospital workers in the micro-micro-neighborhood centered around 72nd Street and Second Avenue. Indian and Mexican food are noticeably underrepresented, but you can still find damn good diner eats, tasty burgers, and above-average Chinese takeout.

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Luc Sante Prefers ‘Linner’ to Brunch

Name: Luc Sante
Age: 52
Job: Writer
Neighborhood: Ulster County (but formerly Park Slope, Lower East Side, Upper West Side) Who's your favorite New Yorker, living or dead, real or fictional? Bartleby the Scrivener. What's the best meal you've eaten in New York? Salt-and-pepper shrimp at a place on the Bowery below Canal, the name of which I no longer recall. In one sentence, what do you actually do all day in your job? Put together sentences.

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