Thursday, September 24, 2009

Wilfie & Nell

Does Wilfie and Nell in the West Village remind anyone else of Williamsburg? Not Hipster Williamsburg in Brooklyn, but the original, colonial style Williamsurg: Williamsburg, Virginia.

Low beamed ceilings, butcher block tables, mix-matched cloth napkins, juice glasses in place of stemware, armchairs in hidden corners, dark dark lighting, exposed brick on every wall... I kept waiting for a Martha Washington historical reenactor to come around the corner, chattering about the revolution before exiting onto a street of wooden carts and marching soldiers and sunburned Midwestern tourists.

Oh, I love Colonial Williamsburg! I might be the only 25 year old to admit that, but come on, its great! The pie alone is worth the trip. Lets all go for a fall road trip, wanna?

Until then... Wilfie & Nell is a nice substitute. (If only they served things like 'spoon bread' and 'rum cream pie' and 'venison stuffed Guinea hens'. Love me a good themed menu.) I went to Wilfie & Nell last Saturday night with one of those groups that expands and deflates and expands and deflates as the night goes on. I arrived with John and Alison around 10 and stayed until probably 3am as 4 different groups of people ebbed and flowed from our perfect corner table by that sneaky front window.

Katie and Maria came, as did Bruce and his killer stories. Katy and Val wandered in, making me scream with laughter as they always do. We made friends with the people around us, arguing over the masculinity of a gold watch or the correct pronunciation of 'Carolina Herrera.'

So it wasn't Virginia and it wasn't the 18th century but the sentiment was there. A long night in a cozy bar with 30 of my dearest friends and acquaintances. Let us all go back soon.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

Trust me, I am just as shocked as you are to be writing about this movie. So shocked that this post could easily morph into something more akin to a graduation speech, a motivational conference, or a Lutheran sermon. Something with a theme along the lines of 'not judging a book by its cover' or 'stepping outside of your comfort zone' or 'the world is full of surprises.' It was just THAT inspiring.

I have never had any real interest in animated movies (well, not since Disney's princess collection came to a halting screech just as I left my childhood behind and entered junior high in 1995. Come on, we all loved Ariel.) I went because I was offered a free screening ticket. Simple as that. Free things are nice. And it was Movie Monday after all.

Alex and I settled into our 3-D glasses in a theater packed by press and their children, with the lowest of expectations. I loved the children's book as a child, and he knew little about this movies save from a few flying cheeseburgers. But we sat through Ice Age: 3 and we could sit through this.

What came to follow was an hour and 48 minutes of laugh after laugh after laugh. The humor was right on target, the animation gorgeous, and the actors outstanding. Bill Hader, Anna Faris, Andy Samberg, and the treat of all treats--Neil Patrick Harris-- as Steve the monkey. No, we did not see that coming, and yes, we gasped in sheer delight when we saw his name in the credits.

I will spare you the 'don't judge a book lecture' if you promise to give this splashy animated feature film a chance. Then, once you've seen it, do as we did and walk to Madison Square Park's Shake Shack for burgers and fries-- you will want one too after seeing burgers float to the ground like manna from heaven in the first food storm.

Real laughter, a long walk, and Shake Shack. A Movie Monday for the books.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Blue Hour

Well, this makes me insanely happy.

Pay attention to how he talks about New York as the seasons change. He writes about this city with respect and awe and complete sincerity. (There's that sincerity thing again. I'm hoping it catches on.) Refreshing all around.

The photos are stunning, yes. But its the sentiment that gets to me. Thank you, Brian, for restoring hope in a city that eight years ago today was crumbling. Thank you for reminding us why it is still so good.

Chelsea Gallery Openings

Yigal Ozeri at Mike Weiss Gallery
Will Ryman at Marlborough Gallery

Barthelemy Toguo at Robert Miller

It was a lovely fall evening in Chelsea last night. After a long and desperate summer, galleryland pulled itself together for a stunning evening of art and celebration. The streets were packed and the art was good. Somewhat safe, if you ask me-- but good. Highlights were the Yigal Ozeri show at Mike Weiss, the Will Ryman sculptures at Marlborough, and Toguo's watercolors and installation at Robert Miller.

We even came across a crazy performance piece(!!!) of a Russian woman ranting about men while throwing coffee on white graffiti covered walls. Both boys I was with rolled their eyes while exiting the crowded gallery but it was a total treat.

The evening concluded with a walk along the Highline, ducking into the Brass Monkey to beat the rain, and then running into Allison "fashionista" Fry at DVF during the highly anticipated Fashion Night Out. Its a small town after all.

Hello, fall. Welcome back :)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Dirty Urchins

The last days of summer-- or, as I prefer to call them, the first days of Fall-- are upon us. The rain has slowed, the weather has cooled, and evenings outdoors are begging my attention. Alex and I spent last evening in Central Park, strolling and picnicing, observing the lovely weirdos who roam Manhattan's largest park during the Blue Hour. Ourselves included, I suppose.

Just before sundown we stumbled upon a band playing at the fountain (the fountain with the angel from Angels in America) and enjoyed what we heard immensely. They are called the Dirty Urchins (fantastic band name for a band who plays most of its shows for dollar tips in central park next to break dancers, sidewalk artists, and that crazy guy with the pink poodle and tutu around his neck) and they cracked me up.

We found ourselves smiling the 'Paul Rudd' smile, as we call it (watch Role Models if you haven't yet) to the folky lyrics of 'Don't Let the Bastards Get You Down', a lovely little tune about-- among other things-- lowering your standards.

They are fresh, they are real, they are enjoyable. And Dirty Urchins, if you're out there-- keep doing what you're doing. And I hope you got lots of beer last night with that tip money.

American Wife

A lot of you have been asking me for a summer book rec. And although I do realize that we have almost hit Labor Day, I would like to share with you the book. The next book you should read and the next book you will tear through. American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld.

I will give credit where credit is due-- this was originally my dear friend John's rec to me. John lived in France last year (he now lives downstairs!) and the two of us often exchanged emails stating only what we were reading, watching, and listening to. I suppose we found culture more interesting than our own lives, because we really never felt the need for further updates. I like that about us.

For example. An email set from earlier this year:

movie's i've seen:
mysteries of pittsburgh: WORST movie i've seen this year.
valentino: amazing, you should see it.
hair: awesome. (its from the 70s, really funny)
hook: so into that right now
witches: also really into that (roald dahl)
duplicity: meh.

mysteries of pittsburgh: contrary to the above movie opinon, LOVE the book. which is why the movie is so depressing
the history of love: married to jonathan saffron foer, book is really similar to him.
hugh hefner bio: just ordered it, really excited to get to that one.
never let me go by Kazuo Ishiguro: also just orderd it, really excited to start it, it was rec. kinda science fictiony but looks good

really into neko, but that was your rec sooooooo thanks!
love the new pornographers (again, your rec i think, so thanks!)
love that new ingrid michaelson album, esp. 'me and you'. it reminds me of you because it says 'the south of france' in the lyrics.
love the arcade fire song that goes with the Where the Wild Things Are Trailer.
i should probably look into more of their music, huh?

in all reality, i need music recs from YOU because all my stuff is the same right now.
missing you much!

And his reply:

i have decided that i did really like 'rachel getting married'. super depressing but it stays with you for a long while after.
have you seen 'the wackness'? i'm watching it right now...not really feeling it. kinda boring i think...thoughts?

off to paris on tuesday...i want to catch 'wendy and lucy' and perhaps a few other films while i'm there...but 'w and l' is at the top of the list.
other films seen lately...

italiens-loved it
heat-quite good
the dark knight-(again)...brilliant
magnolia-amazing...the acting is supurb

also, i am reading the best book right would love. zoe heller's 'everything you know'.
i loved the book 'mysteries of pitts'. don't really want to see the film. i just finished his novel, 'the amazing adventures of kavalier and clay' and it was AWESOME.

you will love 'never let me go' is one of my favorite novels. i liked 'the history of love' but def not as good as her husband's writing.

i'm obsessed with the new camera obscura album.
really really into old yo la tengo esp albums 'painful' and 'i can hear the heart beating as one'...totally briliant
and i love love love the new/now almost a year old lil wayne good.

So that was a long way of telling you that even if you don't trust my taste, trust John. Or trust Allison, Alison, Katie, Kelly, or Meghan-- all of whom have already taken this rec and will tell you the same thing. The book is worth your time.

Its a novel based on the life of former First Lady Laura Bush that reads like fiction, because, of course, it is... but this doesn't take away the 'OMG' reaction of peeking behind closed doors. Its a free ticket into the life and mind of a woman whose public interaction is no more than a sweet wave, conservative red suit, and an annual Today Show special on the White House Christmas decorations and gingerbread houses.

But we meet young Alice (as she is renamed for the book's sake) and walk with her through a life so ordinary in its inception, aching to understand how this young librarian from the Midwest ended up First Lady. How her dufus of a husband became our President. It is interesting. You'll think so too.

There is a quote in there somewhere that will stop you in your tracks, nothing the writing, not solely the story. Its when Alice reaches the point where she is no longer a 'yogurt and cereal girl'. A perfect description of girls in their mid-twenties who--without knowing it-- are waiting for their lives to begin. Katie read it aloud to me the other night, and we both moaned, knowing how crazy accurate her observation is. Sittenfeld cracks open this fragile stage in life of girls like us--girls who legitimately have no idea where their lives are going-- with grace and confidence and a shuddering sense of truth.

I will stop there, not ruin it for you. Go get this book. Then let me know what else you're reading, watching, listening to.