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Mermaids on Parade!

Couldn't make it out to Coney Island Saturday for the 25th annual mermaid parade? Not to worry: New York's Daniel Maurer was there, and he brings you enough sights, sounds, and Marty Markowitz pontification to make you feel like you were on Surf Avenue yourself. Now if only he'd brought us a hot dog. Street Level: Mermaid Parade [NYM]

Jerry Stiller Loves Paris in the Spring

Amid the jokes and the contempt and the million-dollar interview deals and the mental distress of prison, who among us will stand up for poor young Paris Hilton? Jerry Stiller, that's who. A soliloquy on the exquisite difficulties of being Paris, delivered to New York Friday by George Costanza's dad:
I have great sympathy for Paris Hilton. I haven't heard one person in the media who feels sorry for a girl who got caught up in the dazzle. No one has gotten down to the reality that she's suffering in a very real way right now. It's almost like she needs to find herself. She's a great lesson for young people who come out looking for the dazzle, and they're not in touch with what the dazzle's all about. I see those girls at the Chateau Marmont hotel, where I've gone for fifteen years with my wife. When they're out at the pool, they're regular people. They take a dip, get out, and read a magazine. They've very normal, and yet they're in this paradise of old-time actors who once came out here. We're still hanging onto that glow, that thing that makes us something we're not in real life. We want to be stars, but, by God, it's not easy to be a star sometimes. It can be a pain in the ass.
But the thing is, Jerry, she can also be a pain in ours. —Arianne Cohen

Young Cratchits Canned by Fire Island Scrooge?

Fire Island Ferry
Is a commercial-property baron in the Fire Island Pines micromanaging his cute young staffers' personal lives like an old-school MGM matron? A few years ago, gay fortysomething developer Eric von Kuersteiner bought, for a rumored $7 million, most of the cedar-shingled business strip that abuts the Pines' ferry landing. Each summer, he hires a slew of twentysomething male hotties, many of them out-of-towners, to bartend and wait tables (often shirtless) at his establishments, most notably the Pavilion, a late-night disco. But several longtime Pines-goers and former staffers say that he forbids the boys from entering a neighboring rival club, Sip 'n' Twirl, off hours. They also allege that Von Kuersteiner discourages them from dating patrons, fires them capriciously, and kicks them out of his housing — and off the island.

Have We Found the First iPhone Problem?

Coming to the end of our cell-phone contract a few weeks ago, we called AT&T Wireless to inquire about abandoning our current provider and maybe, just maybe, getting our mitts on an iPhone. Could she help us with that? She could. "I'll add you to my waiting list and call you on June 29 to sign you up," she told us. Sure, it cost way too much, and sure, all our friends were warning us against first-generation new Apple products. But we were curiously excited about having the actual Internet in our pockets — such fast NYTimes.com browsing in that commercial! — and we shoved our worries to the back of our minds. We were counting the days. Then, Monday, the AT&T saleswoman called. Preregistration? An early phone? Far from it. Now, it seems, the iPhone won't be available for telephone sales from AT&T, the friendly saleswoman sadly told us. Due to a glitch, she said, the phones can only be activated at store locations. "Most brand-new phones are recalled," she said. Oh. We called T-Mobile, renewed our contract, and upgraded to a Blackberry Pearl. In white. —Fiona Byrne Related: Steve Jobs in a Box [NYM]

Mats for the Beach? Accessible Pools? Thank Paralympian Parks Official

Today's Times brought the news of new beachside mats the Parks Department installed in Brighton Beach, bringing the joys of sand and surf to the wheelchair-bound. But as it turns out, that's far from the only accessibility initiative Parks is set to unveil, and they're all largely thanks to Victor Calise, a 35-year-old Queens native who has used a wheelchair since he flew over his bike's handlebars — without a helmet, folks — in a 1994 accident and in October became the Parks Department's first accessibility coordinator.

Magical New Subway Cars Arrive on N, Q, Maybe Other Lines

No, kids, you weren't just imagining that amazing subway ride you might have recently had on the N or Q train. ("It was like the fancy monorail in some German airport," gushed a New York editor who unexpectedly found herself on one such immaculate contraption.) Those two lines have been testing the new R160 car since last August, a New York City Transit spokesman confirmed to us, adding eight to ten a week. (The initial order was for 660; next week officials will push for another order of 620.)

The ‘Daily News’ Is Not an Extraordinary Conglomeration of Multi-Functional Personnel

It's no secret that enterprising Webtrepreneurs often buy Web addresses just a few characters away from popular ones, counting on typos to deliver you to their penis-enlargement pitches or AdSense agglomerations. But, as we discovered this morning, those seeking the Website for the New York Daily News, which is at www.nydailynews.com, should make especially sure to get the full address in. A sleepily typed www.nydaily.com took us not to our Hometown Paper but to 123 Escorts, which offers Kim ("Just arrived in town!") and Evian ("Here for a short time!") among its "extraordinary conglomeration of bright, amiable, multi-functional personnel." It's not that we think such things will offend News readers' delicate sensibilities. We're just concerned they won't be able to handle the porn site's vocabulary.

Beard Diners Get No Graydon But Several Waverly-Reservation Tips

Graydon Carter skipped the dinner his Waverly Inn chef John DeLucie cooked at the James Beard House last night, but that doesn't mean Beard members won't get a chance to rub elbows with the Falstaffian editor. After attendees were served seven wines and a five-course dinner that included the restaurant's luscious Dover sole, Chef DeLucie informed them that they're all now worthy of a hard-to-come-by tables at Graydon's clubby Bank Street spot, just a few blocks west of where they were eating; they should simply stop by a day or two in advance to reserve. "Just say 'James Beard dinner,'" advised sommelier Sammy Kebob, whose name may or may not be spelled that way, as the restaurant answered neither its public nor private phones when we called to check. "Don't use my name," he warned the crowd. "It won't work." Neither, we suspect, will the "Beard dinner" trick for much longer. —Alexandra Peers

For ‘The Sopranos,’ Everything Must Go

Sopranos Sale
The Sopranos is over, so the show's producers are having an estate sale. A Silvercup Studios warehouse is selling off set dressing (cash and carry!) all this week. So what's there? Actually, nothing we recognized. We didn't see Junior's kitchen table; we didn't see Tony's desk at the Bing. But there were lamps and rugs and placemats aplenty. History only you will recognize, for a small fee! Plus you have to go to Long Island City. Movie Company Set Dressing and Warehouse Sale [Craigslist] Related: The Long Con [NYM]

Go to School in an ‘Elle’ Staffer's House!

The latest educational trend in Brooklyn’s Sheepshead Bay is homeschooling, though not by choice. In early May, a three-alarm fire forced Inheritance Christian Academy out of its classrooms in Emmanuel Episcopal Church, and ever since, the school of fifteen students has relied upon the generosity of congregants. Nina Weiss, Elle magazine’s editorial production coordinator, has been letting teachers hold classes in her one-bedroom apartment. “The ninth-grade boys meet in my living room, and the sixth-grade boys meet in my breakfast nook,” says Weiss, who’s friends with some faculty members. And Weiss says the perks outweigh the inconvenience of things like bins of smoke-scented books and extra tables and chairs cluttering her space. “The students fixed a leak in my bathroom the other day, and when I went out of town, they watered my plants,” she says. Weiss’s only rule: “The boys aren’t allowed in my bedroom.” —Emma Rosenblum

You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Protest

The annual shark tournament at Star Island Yacht Club in Montauk started today, and the Humane Society was prepared. In a campaign dubbed an "anti-sportfishing jihad" by one angler, the group, not content to protect innocent puppies and kittens, is now defending the fierce predators. "It's not the killing," said their rep, John Grandy. "It's the spectacle, the orgy of death that is represented by hauling these magnificent animals up. The message is that sharks don't matter. Their suffering doesn't count." The society hired a plane with a banner reading End the cruel shark tournament now! and has plans for a protest, but the fishermen aren't biting.

Kids’ Toys Run Out of Brooklyn on a Rail

Danger Express
Brooklyn preschoolers who think they can and think they can are being confronted with a rude reality: They can't. Play with their Thomas the Tank Engine toys, that is. Two dozen wooden trains and accessories from the wildly popular Thomas & Friends line are being recalled over fears of lead in the paint. Thus, many parents spent the weekend swiping their kids' favorite toys. "My son is a Thomas freak," says Kate Myers, mother of a 4-year-old and owner of Brooklyn Play Spot. "I picked up all the trains, and my son said, 'Get me my trains!' Like a dictator. He's totally panicked. I said, 'We have to be careful and make sure the trains aren't sick. We'll all have to get Band-Aids if they're sick." The manufacturer, RC2 Corporation, announced the recall last Wednesday on 1.5 million toys sold between January 2005 and June 2007. Stores were apparently informed earlier than the public and returned their stocks immediately.

Straight Rabbi at Gay Shul Set to Be Not-Quite-Married

So what happens when the (straight) associate rabbi at the Village's (gay) Congregation Beth Simchat Torah decides to get married in a state (New York) that doesn't allow same-sex unions? Rabbi Ayelet Cohen will put on a lacey Carmen Marc Valvo gown this Sunday, walk down the aisle, make a commitment to her husband-to-be, Rabbi Marc Margolius, and throw a traditional Jewish reception — "Hava Nagilah," raised chairs, food, cake, the whole megillah — for 200-odd guests at the Puck Building. But she won't actually, legally get married. "This is one of the major social injustices of our time," she said. "I cannot, in good conscience, participate in a system that actively excludes and discriminates against same-sex couples" — including her 4,000 congregants.

Computers, Comedy Further Destroy Lower East Side

Everyone has his own personal milestone for when the Lower East Side was, irrevocably, over. Maybe it was when the Hotel on Rivington went up, or when Tonic closed, or when you first overheard one I-banker telling another about the Annex. Two new options now present themselves. First, there’s VLES, a Second Life–esque “virtual version” of the neighborhood wherein you, via your own hipster avatar, can walk from “Katz’s” down “Ludlow” and “watch” “bands” “play” “clubs.” And then there’s HBO’s Lower East Side–set new series, The Flight of the Conchords (which is likely being advertised inches from this item). Think Tenacious D with the added deadly touch of Wes Anderson/Demetri Martin/Eugene Mirman deadpan. (Robot obsession? Check.) Yes, it sounds like the perfect TV embodiment of the neighborhood — but it also makes us want to never, ever set foot there again. Thankfully, we don’t need to; we’ve got it on our desktop. Virtual Lower East Side [VLES.com] Flight of the Conchords [HBO.com]

Save Dave Eggers: Buy His Stuff!

McSweeney's book distributor filed for bankruptcy six months ago, and the indie-cooler-than-thou publisher has now realized it's out some $130,000, which it kind of needs. So Eggers & Co. are selling their heirlooms to make ends meet, some on their own site and some at eBay. What's on offer? Some of the inventory is deservedly bargain-basement, but there are some real gems among the literary detritus. Forget the good cause; just think of the potential resale value. After the jump, a quick review of the highlights.

Do You Have What It Takes to Be an Editorial Assistant?

So you want to be an editorial assistant to Seventeen magazine's editor-in-chief? Before you commit yourself to long days of low-paid work, you can now try the experience on for size with Editor's Assistant, an online game offered on Seventeen's Website. We asked two New York editorial assistants to take a spin and evaluate how closely the game tracks real life.

Bill Clinton, Colombian Muse

Proving that he's the perfect centerpiece for any type of event, Bill Clinton headlined a cocktail party given by the government of Colombia and promoting tourism there, held at the Villard Houses Friday. (Why him? "For believing in our country and encouraging others to do the same," according to the invite.) Even better than Clinton's mere presence, though, was what attendees received in their gift bags: a CD by Los Niños Vallenatos del Turco Gil — apparently the Menudo of the Colombian countryside — praising Clinton.

Will Halberstam’s Widow Sue UC Berkeley for Negligence?

Prominent speakers and performers from Gay Talese to Paul Simon will eulogize David Halberstam at a Riverside Church memorial service tomorrow afternoon, but across the country at the University of California, Berkeley, the school’s lawyers are bracing for a lawsuit from Halberstam’s family, which has already asked for $20 million in damages. The Pulitzer Prize–winning author was killed in April in a car accident that happened while a Berkeley journalism student was driving Halberstam, who had spoken at the university, to a nearby interview. “We’re examining the situation more closely, in the anticipation they may take some action,” Mike Smith, a lawyer for the school, told New York. “It’s a very tricky situation, and a delicate one.”

What Does Socialite/Planner Amanda Burden Do On Vacation?

If you were a blue-blooded Upper East Side A-lister, glamorous Babe Paley's daughter and on-the-scene Charlie Rose's intermittent inamorata, wouldn't a week in Montserrat seem the proper vacation? For Amanda Burden — who's all that and also Bloomberg's planning commissioner — it's a different story. Turns out Burden was spending her downtime last week in Copenhagen, not so much seeing the sights as trailing new transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and two of her lieutenants as they studied public squares and waterfronts and bike parking, according to spokespeople at the Planning and Transportation Departments. Grants are paying for the trip for Sadik-Khan and her deputies; Burden, a source tells us, is traveling on her own time and nickel. There was no word on whether Charlie had joined her.
Alec Appelbaum

There She Is, Murray Hill and Ms. Lez

The seventh annual Ms. Lez competition took place last night in Williamsburg, and, with everybody’s favorite Catskills-evoking drag king, Mr. Murray Hill, as host, it was bent on finding the most fabulous lesbian, transgendered, or otherwise “queer” woman in New York City. Judges including longtime drag queen Linda Simpson and Rose Troche, director of the nineties indie-dyke classic Go Fish, evaluated seven contestants who proved that lesbians could be just as potty-mouthed as men. The winner was Miss I Heart Brooklyn, a fake-ditsy, bikini-clad bombshell who made “summer water safety” her platform, tossing dental dams out to her hoards of female fans. “If you’re drowning, just take out your portable dam — and you're not even in the water anymore!” she chirped. Before the show began, we chatted with some of the major players.