Twinkle, twinkle little stars. No need to wonder where you are – Ethan, Uma, Parker, and other not-quite-superstars gather for cappuccino and too many cigarettes at Les Deux Gamins, an intimate corner cafe. Portions are measly and – and, as much as I’m loathe to admit it because the place is run by such darling Frenchies – sometimes unsavory. But it’s the perfect atmosphere for a lesuirely read through the Sunday Times. 170 Waverly Place (807-7357).
When you want to really trash out – wear way too much blue makeup, dance all night at a cheesy club, take a couple of the bouncers home – there is no better place to find the necessary duds than at Bang Bang. Next-door Contempo Casuals has quality merch, but it also has everyday nice pullovers and flowered T’s and baggy jeans. Zebra-striped Bang Bang doesn’t play that: It’s all about metallic halters, stilleto boots, and fake nipple rings. Everyone in the store will be 10 years younger than you, easy. Drat. Brighten up when you think about Mommy in Jersey confiscating the new purchases. 53 East 8th St. (475-8220).
Thought Sixth Avenue didn’t have a decent place to get a drink? You haven’t looked hard enough. One flight up, behind the red door in the foyer to McBell’s, you’ll find an place where everyone knows each others’ names, dubbed by regulars ’The Secret Bar.’ With a down-and-out Parisian pied-a-terre charm, the bar’s two too-small rooms – one with cozy seating around a suprisingly scorching faux fireplace – hardly fill up with postcollegiate semi-hipsters on the weekdays, but are beyond capacity on the weekends, when, it seems, no one can keep a secret. 359 Ave. of the Americas (675-6260).
What comes around goes around. The Caring Community, a non-profit volunteering network, works on a time-dollar barter system. Each hour spent escorting seniors to the doctor or, say, ladling at a Sixth Avenue soup kitchen, can be cashed in for an hour of another member’s time. You’ll never have to call the plumber again. 20 Washington Square North, (260-6626).
Dining at glassed-in, darkly-lit Japonica can be a lovely gastronomical experience – the perfectly knowledgeable and courteous waitstaff gently encourages you to order adventurously – but the wait in Japonica’s cramped foyer might make you want to chop a few heads off yourself. Of course, it’s the closest thing University has to a decent neighborhood restaurant. Support the community. 100 University Place, at 12th St. (243-7752).
Other than the West Village PATH train station,. where else can you pick up an easy ride to our friendly neighboring state? Penn Station, that’s where. And what a drag to have to go there. Northwest corner of Ninth St. and Sixth Ave.
For once, the catch-all “upscale downtown hotspot” fits. At Clementine, glammy waitstaff serves delicious cocktails to a lipsticked straight-from-work crowd, many of whom arrive in packs – everyone in the office is invited! – but somehow manage to look alluring amid the joint’s sumptuous decor. Leather banquettes, terrific tangerine lighting, a huge bar and even bigger dining room (think Odeon without the Old World charm) seem to be making Clementine a destination after its first busy season, which is good, because when the place is empty it stinks. Watch out for an Eighth Street crowd on Saturday nights. 1 Fifth Ave. (253-0003).
A bit of grace on Sixth Avenue: In the morning hours of each weekday, a plump, bespeckled man in a gray flannel shirt leans against a trash-can on the corner of Eighth Street and Sixth Avenue. His approach is so low-key that it seems as if he’s not actually begging for change; he just happens to be holding a paper cup. He’s got two gender-specific, non-confrontational greetings: “Morning, pretty lady” and “Top of the day, sir.”
Visitors love Washington Square Park, most residents don’t: Unless they’re heading for the dog run, they’ll deign to cross through the dirty thing but refuse to take a seat and hang out. For most of the day, the park is a meeting ground for benign crazy people, rebellious teenagers and drug dealers – grannies and grad students tend to keep to themselves. But if you pass by about an hour before sunset, the crowds retreat under Titan’s Arch, the receding sunlight sweeps away the littered ground, and you’ll have the place as it should be, mostly to yourself.
A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips…. Kripsy Kreme Donuts, coming soon to Eighth Street and University.