Category Archives: New York City travel

New York City’s 45th Annual Village Halloween Parade Dazzles with “I AM a Robot” Theme

The 45th annual, iconic New York City Village Halloween Parade brought out thousands of costumed participants around the theme, “I AM a Robot!” © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Karen Rubin

Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

 

The 45th annual, iconic New York City Village Halloween Parade brought out thousands of costumed participants around the theme, “I AM a Robot!”

“With artificial intelligences learning, adapting, interpreting and reacting as humans do, the times we live in can be overwhelming,” said  Jeanne Fleming, Artistic/Producing Director of New York’s Village Halloween Parade. “This traditional and beloved event aspires to bring folks into their creative imagination—celebrating that quality that differentiates us from robots—and by extension make the world a better place. We as New Yorkers and those visiting the Big Apple can come together, affirm our identity, block out the distractions, focus on joy and inhabit the streets of New York LIVE.”

“This traditional and beloved event aspires to bring folks into their creative imagination—celebrating that quality that differentiates us from robots—and by extension make the world a better place,” said Jeanne Fleming, Artistic/Producing Director of the Village Halloween Parade © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

“The 2018 Village Halloween Parade celebrates what makes us human by exploring how we remake ourselves. For our part, we will deploy a floating phalanx of cybernetic figures, each tethered by glowing wires to its human controller to evoke the increasingly complex strands of identity that entangle man with machine. We invite all of our Halloween makers and marchers to join our positronic collective, expressing your inner cyborgs for an evening of robotic revelry as we employ our most uniquely human qualities–dreaming, fantasizing, creating–to do our best robot impersonations.”

The theme is timely, considering 2018 is also the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s publication of “Frankenstein”.

Grand Marshal Machine Dazzle led the VIP Robot Section.

Grand Marshal Machine Dazzle led the VIP Robot Section of the 45th annual New York City Village Halloween Parade © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The Village Halloween Parade is:

The nation’s largest public Halloween celebration

Named as The Greatest Event on Earth by Festivals International for October 31

Attended by over 2 million people, seen by over 1 million on TV.

The nation’s only major night Parade.

Listed as one of the 100 Things to do Before You Die.

Picked by Events International as The Greatest Event on Earth on October 31, and ranked 3rd by Citysearch as the best event in New York City.

Ranked by Biz Bash as one of the top 10 events in NYC.

Recipient of the Municipal Arts Society of New York’s Award for making a major contribution to the cultural life of New York City.

Recipient of a major grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in recognition of Longtime Artistic Achievement.

Recipient of the Mayor’s Tourism Grant in recognition of the Parade’s major impact on the economic life of New York City and grants from the Manhattan Borough President’s Tourism Initiative.

The 45th annual, iconic New York City Village Halloween Parade brought out thousands of costumed participants around the theme, “I AM a Robot!” © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Started by Greenwich Village mask maker and puppeteer in 1974, the Parade began as a walk from house to house in his neighborhood for his children and their friends.

After the second year of this local promenade, Theater for the New City stepped in and produced the event on a larger scale as part of their City in the Streets program. That year the Parade went through many more streets in Greenwich Village and attracted larger participation because of the involvement of the Theater.

After the third year, the Parade formed itself into a not-for-profit organization, discontinued its association with Theater for the New City and produced the Parade on its own.

The Village Halloween Parade has been a significant factor in the revitalization of the city and its spirit.

It also affords an opportunity for political expression.

One of the more political demonstrations during the 45th annual New York City Village Halloween Parade © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
One of the more political demonstrations during the 45th annual New York City Village Halloween Parade © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

For more information on the Parade, visit https://www.halloween-nyc.com/.

Here are more highlights:

The 45th annual New York City Village Halloween Parade brought out thousands of participants © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The 45th annual New York City Village Halloween Parade brought out thousands of participants © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The 45th annual New York City Village Halloween Parade brought out thousands of participants © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The 45th annual, iconic New York City Village Halloween Parade brought out thousands of costumed participants around the theme, “I AM a Robot!” © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The 45th annual New York City Village Halloween Parade brought out thousands of participants © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The 45th annual New York City Village Halloween Parade brought out thousands of participants © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The 45th annual New York City Village Halloween Parade brought out thousands of participants © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The 45th annual New York City Village Halloween Parade brought out thousands of participants © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The 45th annual New York City Village Halloween Parade brought out thousands of participants © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The 45th annual New York City Village Halloween Parade brought out thousands of participants © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The 45th annual New York City Village Halloween Parade brought out thousands of participants © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The Village Halloween Parade is New York City’s answer to New Orleans’ Carnival © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The Village Halloween Parade is a family affair © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com
The 45th annual New York City Village Halloween Parade brought out thousands of participants © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The 45th annual New York City Village Halloween Parade brought out thousands of participants © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The 45th annual New York City Village Halloween Parade brought out thousands of participants © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The 45th annual New York City Village Halloween Parade brought out thousands of participants © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
One of the more political demonstrations during the 45th annual New York City Village Halloween Parade © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Many marchers used the Village Halloween Parade for political expression © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The Notorious RBG made an appearance at the 45th Annual Village Halloween Parade in New York City © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The New York City Village Halloween Parade is an opportunity for artistic expression © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Making a political point to #Vote at the New York City Village Halloween Parade © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

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© 2018 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com,  www.huffingtonpost.com/author/karen-rubin , and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

‘Harry Potter: A History of Magic’ is Spellbinding Exhibit at New-York Historical Society

Capturing the traditions of folklore and magic at the heart of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter stories, Harry Potter: A History of Magic, on view at the New-York Historical Society through January 27, 2019, explores the historic and traditional foundations underpining “Harry Potter” as well as her creative process © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

by Karen Rubin

Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

“Harry Potter: A History of Magic”, the newly opened exhibit at the New-York Historical Society Museum & Library only on view until January 27, is a must-see on so many levels. It isn’t just for fans of J.K. Rowling’s phenomenal series, where you get extraordinary insights into her creative process through glimpses at original hand-written drafts and drawings, but insights into the history of magic – the centuries of folklore, myth and legend –  that provided the foundation for her stories. Here you see the original documents and artifacts which make you realize (for the first time), how Rowling drew on history and tradition, and how magic and witchcraft actually provided the foundation of science and discovery.

“Abracadabra,” we learn, is an incantation believed to have healing powers, first recorded by Quintus Serenus Sammanicus, physician to the Roman Emperor Caracalla. He prescribed that the word be repeatedly written out, each time leaving off one letter. The charm was then worn as an amulet around the neck to drive out fever. We see it described in “Liber Medicinalis,” a 13th century book from Canterbury.

The invisibility cloak that Harry Potter wore? There actually was an incantation for invisibility that we can see in a mid-17th century spell book owned by a contemporary of Shakespeare. A 4th century papyrus scroll turns out to be an ancient Greek handbook of magic that contains a love charm.

Mandrake roots really do look like men (or women) and the legend of them screaming when pulled out by the roots, causing insanity, was documented across cultures. We get to see a mandrake root, which looks like a shriveled old man in anguish.

The Philosopher’s Stone that plays such a key role for Harry Potter (it was renamed the Sorcerer’s Stone for American readers)? This was the quest of alchemists, who sought to create the elixir of immortal life and turn ordinary metal into gold – in essence, harnessing the energy of the universe and its power. The “recipe” for the Philosopher’s Stone was believed to be prescribed in The Ripley Scroll. We get to see an actual Ripley Scroll, from around 1570 England, exquisite in its color, unfurled over 20 feet, one of only 22 known to still exist. This one is on loan from the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University.

The Ripley Scroll provided alchemists with the “recipe” to make the Philosopher’s Stone, the key to the elixir of life (immortality) and for turning ordinary metal into gold © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The scroll takes its name from George Ripley, a canon at Bridlington Priory in northern England and author of “The Compound of Alchymy.” The scroll, full of mystical symbolism, supposedly gives clues to how to make the key red, white and black stones that together would form the Philosopher’s Stone. Rowling wove these symbols into her characters: Rubeus Hagrid (rubeus is Latin for “red); Albus Dumbledore (albus is Latin for “white”) and Sirius Black, Harry’s three father figures.

We get to see a copy of Culpepper’s Herbal, describing the medicinal properties of herbs, the first medical text to be published in English (instead of Latin), so as to break the monopoly of wealthy, educated in having this knowledge. Culpepper was accused of witchcraft in 1642, but acquitted. The book is still in print and we learn from Rowling that she possesses two copies.

We get to see the actual tombstone of Nicolas Flamel, an actual person! who a landlord and bookseller in medieval Paris who married a rich woman and became a philanthropist. His interest in alchemy, according to Pottermore, was apparently sparked after he obtained a mystical book was written by a man called Abraham the Jew in Greek, Hebrew and other languages. Following his death in 1418, rumors began to circulate that Flamel was an alchemist who had discovered how to make the Philosopher’s Stone, and turn metal into gold. He was buried in the church of Saint-Jacques-de-la Boucherie in Paris, his grave marked by this tombstone. But years later, when the body was exhumed, there was no body. Some believe he escaped to India, and with the elixir, still lives.

The actual tombstone of Nicolas Flamel, rumored to be an alchemist who had discovered the Philosopher’s Stone, who died in 1418 © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

The exhibition, a cerebral celebration marking the 20th anniversary of the US publication of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, captures the traditions of folklore and magic at the heart of the Harry Potter stories. Based on Harry Potter: A History of Magic, a British Library exhibition, with some special New York twists, it combines century-old treasures—including rare books, manuscripts, and magical objects from the British Library, New-York Historical Society, and other collections—with original material from Harry Potter’s U.S. publisher Scholastic and J.K. Rowling’s own archives, never before collected in one place, and items that have never been shown before. And this exhibit is the only other place where it will be shown, before the items go back to their respective museums, which include the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic, in Cornwall.

The entertaining aspect is in the exhibition’s presentation, as if you are wandering through Hogwarts, with the galleries organized around the Hogwarts’ curriculum for witches: Potions, Alchemy, Herbology, Charms, Astronomy, Divination, Defense Against the Dark Arts, Care of Magical Creatures – each one showing the historical and cultural traditions that underlie Rowling’s fantastical world and her creative process.

It is as if instead of J.K. Rowling inventing the Hogwarts curriculum, she graduated from it. It also means that all of us, children and adults, who were so enrapt in the Harry Potter saga of witchcraft and magic 20 years ago, have a whole new dimension for appreciating Rowling’s masterpiece from a mature perspective.

The exhibit, “Harry Potter: A History of Magic” at the New-York Historical Society is laid out as if you were walking through Hogwarts, with the galleries themed for the different subjects: Potions, Alchemy, Herbology, Charms, Astronomy, Divination, Defense Against the Dark Arts, Care of Magical Creatures © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The exhibit is captivating on so many levels – Rowling’s personality and creative process, you get so many insights into her as a person, and the connection to history and tradition at the heart of mythology. Also, we get to see the evolution of science from magic and spiritualism.

Rowling faithfully represented these traditions – even the names she chose for her characters relate back to these traditions, symbolically or literally.

Professor Severus Snape, presides over the Potions gallery at New-York Historical Society’s “Harry Potter: A History of Magic” exhibit. © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

In Potions & Alchemy, we see a copy of Jacob Meydenbach’s 1491 edition of Hartus Sanitatis (Latin for “The Garden of Health”), the first printed cyclopedia of natural history, which actually includes a hand-colored woodcut illustration of a potions class.

One of the plants described, blue hellebore, was the plant Harry Potter forgot to add in his Draught of Peace.

We see an actual bezoar stone, which was believed to be an antidote to poison, first introduced into medieval Europe by Arab physicians. They were expensive to buy and owners often kept their stones in elaborate cases. Here we see a bezoar stone in a gold filigree case from the 17th century.

The Herbology section is particularly fascinating: Here we see an illustration from a 15th century illustrated herbal by Giovanni Cadamasto that describes mandrakes (mandragara) that could cure headaches, earache, gout and insanity. Just as Rowling depicted, the plant was said to be particularly hazardous to harvest because the shrieks from the roots cause madness. “The best way to obtain it safely was to unearth its roots with an ivory stake, attaching the plant to a dog with a card. A horn would sound, drowning out the shrieking, startling the dog and causing it to drag out the mandrake.” We actually get to see a mandrake root and how much it resembles a prone shriveled man who appears anguished. The description of mandrake is also from a 14th century Arabic text, originally in Ancient Greek by Pedanius Dioscorides, a botanist.

We see implements of “magical gardening” of bone and antler, on loan from the Museum of Watchcraft & Magic, Boscastle, Cornwall.

There is an original copy of a book by Elizabeth Blackwell (one of the first women physicians), “A Curious  Herbal,” published in London in 1737-38. She was desperate to raise money to spring her husband Alexander from debtor prison, so made drawings that she took to Alexander to identify, which she then published weekly, eventually detailing 500 plants.

An 1807 edition of Robert John Thornton’s “The Temple of Flora,” an elaborate botany book that nearly bankrupted Thornton to produce (it was originally titled, “The New Illustration of the Sexual System of Linnaeus”). There is an illustration of Dragon arum (Dracunculus vulgaris), also known as stink lily, which reproduces the smell of putrefying meat to attract flies for pollination.

In Charms, we see a copy of Cotton Mather’s “The Wonders of the Invisible World,” published in London in 1693 (from the New-York Historical Society Library), in which he justified the Salem witchcraft trials.

This is the area which gives some attention to the way witches were depicted, when in essence, they were shaman, healers, who were extraordinarily connected to the natural world, and in fact, the first scientists and doctors.

We see the earliest printed illustration of a witch, from 1489, depicting witches as powerful and dangerous. “The Iconography went on to influence image of witches for centuries. The printing press was new – like video of the time.”

Here we see a colorful broomstick belonging to Olga Hunt, a 20th century witch of Manatan, Devon (from the Museum of Witchcraft, Boscastle). The broomstick is closely associated with the Western image of witches, but has roots in pagan fertility rites. The connection with witchcraft and broomsticks developed during the witch hysteria of 16th and 17th century Europe. Olga was supposed to have used it to leap around Dartmoor on a full moon.

We also see Rowling’s original, handwritten draft of the Sorting Hat Song, sung at Harry’s sorting ceremony in his first year, with some crossings out and additions, and her sketch of Argus Filch, the Hogwarts caretaker (Argus is a name from Greek Mythology of a man-eyed giant who is “all seeing.”)

In Divination, there is a major archaeological find on view: oracle bones some 3,000 years old from China that proved the existence of the Shang Dynasty, which had only been known in legend. The bones offered not only the earliest examples of Chinese writing, but showed that the culture worshipped ancestors – the Oracle Bones were a means of communicating with ancestors, who could send back messages.

A witch’s cauldron is on view in “Harry Potter: A History of Magic” at the New-York Historical Society © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

We see a black moon crystal ball used by “Smelly Nelly,” a 20th-century British witch who used strong perfume to attract the spirits she believed helped her to see the future (on loan from Museum of Witchcraft & Magic, Cornwall). Nelly is reflected in Rowling’s character of Sybill Trelawney, Hogwarts Divination professor.

There is also a 19th century fortune-telling doll from New-York Historical’s collection.

Astronomy features a 1699 celestial globe by famed cartographer Vincenzo Coronelli, pages from a notebook compiled by the artist and inventor Leonardo da Vinci that show the sun and moon revolving around the Earth, and a 13th century astrolabe thought to be one of the oldest geared instruments in existence, from the American Museum of Natural History Library.

Defense Against the Dark Arts features an actual wand, in the shape of a snake (snakes were magical because they were thought to have the ability to regenerate, and a wand in the shape of a snake would have been very powerful), and we learn that there are still wandmakers today who go to the woods where trees speak to them to be selected. There is also a magic staff (1998) carved from timber.

The basilisk in mythology didn’t look like the snake-like creature in Harry Potter but was depicted as a strange chicken, the size of palm, but its stare would kill you, and the way to defeat it was not by sword but by weasels.Care of Magical Creatures features a 13th-century bestiary manuscript depicting a phoenix rising from the ashes, a narwhal tusk, and John James Audubon’s original watercolor of snowy owls, just like the snowy owl that Hagrid gave to Harry Potter.

Care of Magical Creatures section of the “Harry Potter” exhibit features the New-York Historical Society’s John James Audubon’s original watercolor of snowy owls, just like the snowy owl that Hagrid gave to Harry Potter © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

We see the oldest description of a Hippogriff: 16th century book on vellum paper given to George III –a magical creature that has the front legs, wings, and head of a giant eagle and the body, hind legs and tail of a horse. It is very similar to another mythical creature, the Griffin, with the horse rear replacing the lion rear.

We see examples of unicorn (loaned from the Explorer’s Club), as well as an actual merman – a Japanese creation made by combining two fish with wire and cloth (worthy of P.T. Barnum).  This is the first time it has been displayed outside the United Kingdom.

This fascination with these strange new creatures reflects the era of exploration into strange new lands and discovery of new creatures.

This section features Rowling’s hand-written draft of “Deathly Hallows”, with her crossings out, notes to self and ”x” where she needed to add more providing this amazing insight into Rowling’s creative process. There is also her own illustration of Harry and Hagrid going to Gringots and Jim Kay’s drawing of Hagrid.

These items were collected for the exhibition, basically tracing and providing original artifacts that underlie Rowling’s Harry Potter narrative, but it seems as if Rowling had already undertaken the Hogwarts curriculum herself. The exhibit brings together the source material that informed her inspiration.

In the section, Past, Present and Future, one of the most fascinating items is Rowling’s own draft for the “Order of Phoenix” and her meticulous outline of plot and where the characters are, what they are doing. You see original cover art by Brian Selnick for the 2018 (20th anniversary) series, in which he unifies the seven covers as a single image that tells the story of the Boy Who Lived, which had never been displayed before, and models of set designs for the “Cursed Child” on Broadway, as well as an autographed screenplay of “Fantastic Beasts,” and an edition of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” (as “Sorcerer’s Stone” was titled in United Kingdom).

The New York presentation of  the British Library’s Harry Potter: A History of Magic exhibition is special because it features Mary GrandPré’s pastel illustrations for the cover artwork of Scholastic’s original editions of the novels; Brian Selznick’s newly created artwork for the covers of the 20th anniversary edition of the Harry Potter series published by Scholastic; cover art by Kazu Kibuishi featured in Scholastic’s 15th anniversary box set; and the enormous steamer trunk used to transport a signed copy of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince on the Queen Mary to the U.S. The exhibition also includes costumes and set models from the award-winning play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

Original art for “Harry Potters and the Order of the Phoenix” © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Also on display for the first time in the U.S. are Rowling’s handwritten first drafts of The Philosopher’s Stone and Deathly Hallows, her hand-drawn sketch of the Hogwarts grounds, and portraits and sketches of some of the Hogwarts’s professors and magical creatures created by British illustrator Jim Kay. John James Audubon’s watercolor of Snowy Owls, a 1693 publication defending the Salem witch trials, a study of the Woolworth Building—the landmark New York location featured in the film Fantastic Beasts—and other artifacts from New-York Historical’s collection.

I love the origination story – worthy of fiction – how in 1990, J.K. Rowling was sitting on a delayed train from Manchester to London when an idea popped into her head fully formed: the character of Harry Pottery, a boy wizard with messy black hair, glasses and a lightning shaped scar on his forehead. Over the next five years, she planned out seven books, writing mostly in longhand and amassing a mountain of notes, many on scraps of paper (some we get to see).

She presented a scroll of the draft of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” (as it was titled in the United Kingdom), to Nigel Newton of Bloomsbury, who handed it to his eight year old daughter, Alice, to read. His daughter’s review, “‘it’s probably one of the best books for 8 or 9 year old could read,” encouraged him to publish. The initial print run was just 500 copies, typical for a children’s book by a first-time author. The book turned into a worldwide phenomenon – over 500 million books sold, printed in 80 languages. We see various editions lining the corridor.

The New-York Historical Society exhibition also includes costumes and set models from the award-winning play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

There’s so much to absorb – I went through the exhibit twice, and used the Audible guide they make available for free, and after three hours, could have spent considerably more time there.

There is a superb Family Guide for “A History of Magic” that turns the exhibit into an interactive activity.

New-York Historical is also presenting a wide variety of exhibition-related events for grown-up Harry Potter fans throughout the run of the exhibition, including trivia nights, art workshops, creative writing classes, social meet-ups, open mics, book clubs, and engaging courses that explore the Hogwarts curriculum. Programs include an onstage conversation with illustrators Mary GrandPré and Brian Selznick, and a special evening with actor Jim Dale, known for his narration of all seven Harry Potter U.S. audiobooks. Family activities feature History of Magic family days with hands-on activities and crafts, a Harry Potter family book club, historical Hallowe’en celebration, and trivia for families. Additional programming information is available at harrypotter.nyhistory.org.

Harry Potter: A History of Magic is sponsored by Audible and a special audio tour to accompany the Harry Potter: A History of Magic exhibition at New-York Historical, featuring Natalie Dormer, will be available to ticketholders as a free Audible download, offering in-depth content on fascinating objects throughout the exhibition galleries.

This is the only other exhibition of this collection outside of the British Library. After finishing here on January 27, the artifacts will be returned to the museums and institutions to which they belong. Poof, it’s vanished.

Timed-entry tickets for the exhibition Harry Potter: A History of Magic are $21 for adults, $16 for seniors (65+), $13 for students, $6 for kids ages 5–13, and free for children ages 0–4; tickets include admission to the rest of the Museum. Harry Potter: A History of Magic is on view through January 27, 2019, on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday 10 am–6 pm; Friday 10 am–9 pm; and Sunday 10 am–5 pm. The last entry is 45 minutes before closing.

Visit harrypotter.nyhistory.org to purchase exhibition and programming tickets in advance.

Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow 

“History Matters,” is the New-York Historical Society’s motto, and that is clearly on view.

There is so much to see at the New-York Historical Society – it never fails to offer fascinating and provocative exhibits – you need a couple of extra hours beyond the time visiting “Harry Potter.”   I went through “Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow” exhibit which is hard-hitting and in your face discussion of how the Emancipation Proclamation, Civil War, and most significantly, the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, led to an institutionalized system of terror and subjugation of African Americans, including a series of Supreme Court decisions dating back to Dred Scott, that perpetuated subjugation (on view through March 3).

Thomas Waterman Wood’s painting, “A Bit of War History: The Cantraband, The Recruit, The Veteran”, 1865, depict one man over time, as a runaway slave, a volunteer in the Union Army, and wounded veteran, is part of the exhibit, “Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow” © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Also, the relatively new “Gallery of Tiffany Lamps” is not to be missed – this permanent display of 100 illuminated lamps is breathtaking for its beauty and exquisite presentation (by architect Eva Jiricna), and you even get the opportunity to design your own Tiffany lamp shade. You also learn the “hidden history” behind the lamps: about Clara Driscoll, the woman who up until now was virtually unknown and unheralded but was the artistic genius behind many of his designs, who headed the “Women’s Glass Cutting Department.”

There are also two films that are shown in a fantastic theater, each shorter than 20 minutes: “We Rise” about women and social movements that were incubated, flourished and pollinated from New York City (narrated by Meryl Street) and “New York Story,” how and why it grew to be the commercial and cultural capital of the world and remains inextricably connected to the world.

There is a lovely café at the Society.

New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West (at 77th Street), 212-873-3400, nyhistory.org.

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© 2018 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com,  www.huffingtonpost.com/author/karen-rubin , and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

Gatsby-esque Jazz Age Lawn Party is Joyful Escape on Governors Island, New York City’s Island Retreat

Dancing to the 1920s Hot Jazz of Michael Arenella and His Dreamland Orchestra at the 13th annual Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island © 2018 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Karen Rubin, David Leiberman & Laini Miranda

Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

Flappers and Dapper Dans packed the ferry to Governors Island for the 13th annual Jazz Age Lawn Party, June 16 and 17. Take heart if you missed the June weekend festival: there is another opportunity to transport yourself back to the Gatsby Era, on August 25 & 26.

The Jazz Age Lawn Party is a chance to push back the clock to a Gatsby-esque Brigadoon of sorts. It is the best of New York and brings out the best of New Yorkers. The music and atmosphere brings out pure joy -– it is one perennial smile.

For an entire afternoon you are transported – quite literally by ferry from the tip of Manhattan and Brooklyn – to the 1920s era of hot jazz. People of all ages, dressed to the nine’s as flappers and gents, bearing wicker picnic baskets (some with tables, tablecloths and candelabra), stream onto the island, with its forts and structures from the Civil War and World War II. It is but a stone’s throw from Manhattan and Brooklyn, and yet a world and an era away.

Dancing to the 1920s Hot Jazz of Michael Arenella and His Dreamland Orchestra at the 13th annual Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island © 2018 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Michael Arenella and his Dreamland Orchestra create this literal dream, with his meticulously recreated music of the 1920s.

There is impeccable faithful reproduction – even the cocktails are Speakeasy-worthy and if you didn’t have appropriate attire, you could rent or buy vintage at one of the stalls, take a tintype photo or a photo sitting on a blue moon with a vintage camera.

Budding Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers learn to dance The Peabody at the 13th annual Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island © 2018 Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

Over the years, the regulars have returned, now with babies, now with toddlers, now with their little boys in their caps and suspenders, little girls with hair bows, dresses and patent leather shoes who join in the dancing.

Interlude music is provided on vintage vinyl recordings over antique gramophones.

The only thing that bursts the illusion, to jostle your memory of what year it is, are the ubiquitous cell phones.

Michael Arenella leads His Dreamland Orchestra. He launched the Jazz Age Lawn Party 13 years ago; since then, tens of thousands of people have enjoyed this journey back to the 1920s© 2018 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Conductor, composer, musician and crooner Michael Arenella presents a personally transcribed, one-of-a-kind songbook for your listening and dancing pleasure by his Dreamland Orchestra, playing the Hot Jazz of the 1920s.

The Dreamland Follies and Michael Arenella and His Dreamland Orchestra at the 13th annual Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island. Many of the dancers are Rockettes © 2018 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The entertainment abounds on two stages (and two dancefloors): The Dreamland Follies evoke Ziegfeld-esque grand dance routines; Roddy Caravella and the Canarsie Wobblers is a fun-loving dance troupe that conjures the rebellious and exuberant spirit of Roaring ‘20s; Queen Esther pays tribute to jazz royalty of yore and Peter Mintun takes the moniker of “world’s greatest piano man”; and the Gelber & Manning Band, feuding vaudevillian lovebirds quarrel, coo and make beautiful music together. Also Drew Nugent and the Midnight Society have come from Philadelphia, presents wry, spry, and certifiably Hot Jazz; The Great Dubini (Gregory Dubin), the resident magician in The McKittrick Follies at The Mandeerlay Bar, presents his unique brand of classic magic.

Roddy Caravella and the Canarsie Wobblers at the 13th annual Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island © 2018 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

There are fun activities as well which you can join: the event typically starts with a dance lesson (the Peabody was being taught on Sunday), followed in the afternoon by a Dance Contest; a Bathing Beauties and Beaus Promenade, wearing vintage swimming outfits of the age (for entry email: bluevoon@aol.com), and a Children’s parade.

Bathing Beauties and Beaus in vintage outfits at the 13th annual Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island © 2018 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The afternoon starts off with dance lessons in the hottest dance steps of the time, like the Peabody or Charleston. You can immortalize the day in your own Vintage Portraits-You Ought To Be In Pictures, perched on a Paper Moons or in tintypes using the same techniques and chemicals (a mixture of gunpowder and ether) as were used more than a century ago; the ultimate family-friendly event also features Kidland carnival games and prizes for junior Gents and Flapperettes. There’s also a 1920s MotorCar Exhibition, where you can get up close and personal with flivvers and Tin Lizzies, and Antique Gramophones that reanimate original recordings from the 1920s.

Roddy Caravella and Gretchen Fenston demonstrate The Peabody © 2018 Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

And what would a Prohibition-era, speakeasy event be without booze? Julie Reiner presents her Clover club Collection cocktails and VieVité, Côtes de Provence Rosé is the official wine sponsor of the Jazz Age Lawn Party. (Take note: you can’t bring in your own alcoholic beverages to Governor’s Island.)

Picnicking at the 13th annual Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island © 2018 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The event typically sells out and tickets are only available for purchase in advance. For tickets and information visit, http://jazzagelawnparty.com/. Purchase tickets at http://jazzagelawnparty.ticketfly.com/.

Here are more highlights:

Learning the Peabody at the Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island, NYC with Michael Arenella and his Dreamland Orchestra © 2018 Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com
Roddy Caravella and Gretchen Fenston demonstrate The Peabody © 2018 Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com
Picnicking at the 13th annual Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island © 2018 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Heidi Rosenau & Joe McGlynn, regulars at the Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island, dance to Michael Arenella and His Dreamland Orchestra © 2018 Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com
Eden Atencio and Adam Coren of Brooklyn, winners of the Peabody contest, with Roddy Caravella at the 13th annual Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island © 2018 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Kids at the 13th annual Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island © 2018 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island, NYC with Michael Arenella and his Dreamland Orchestra transports in time. © 2018 Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com
Peter Mintun, “world’s greatest piano man,” at the 13th annual Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island © 2018 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Kate Manning of the Gelber & Manning Band at the 13th annual Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island © 2018 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Gretchen Fenston and Joe McGlynn dance to the Gelber & Manning Band, “feuding vaudevillian lovebirds quarrel, coo and make beautiful music together” at the 13th annual Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island © 2018 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
A young flapper at the 13th annual Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island © 2018 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Inna Penek of Brooklyn at the 13th annual Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island © 2018 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Tanya Fraser, Helene Abiola and Megan Herson of New York City at the 13th annual Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island © 2018 Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com
Michael Arenella leads the Children’s Parade at the 13th annual Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island © 2018 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Milo Saidl and Michael Mooney of New York City draw a cheering crowd at the 13th annual Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island © 2018 Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

Governors Island

Break away from the music and dancing to explore Governors Island, by bike or foot.

A 712-acre island in the heart of New York Harbor, but 800 yards off Lower Manhattan and even closer to Brooklyn, Governors Island is a sensational getaway destination in its own right – historic sites like Fort Jay and Castle Williams, bicycle paths, playgrounds, art venues, and marvelous festive “happenings.”

Be one of the first guests to stay overnight on NYC’s historic Governors Island with Collective Retreats. With unique accommodations including luxury tents (glamping) and designer modular containers, guests enjoy a full-service hotel-style retreat with unparalleled waterfront views of New York City and the Statue of Liberty (collectiveretreats.com).

You can rent bicycles at Citibikes and at Blazing Saddles (which offers a free hour-long ride weekdays before noon) and delightful surreys.

The Trust for Governors Island, also offers a wide variety of programming on public access days. Visit them at www.govisland.com for more information.

Enjoy a surrey ride around Governors Island with spectacular views of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty © 2018 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Access to the island has been greatly improved and time the island open to the public greatly expanded.

This summer, you can stay late on Fridays, when is open until 10 pm (May 25-September 14); you can have cocktails and dinner at the outdoor cafes and bars; outdoor films and other events are scheduled.

Governors Island is open daily May 1-October 31, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays, and weekends from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.,  Fridays from May 25-September 14 until 10 p.m.. You can get ferry schedules here (ferries during Late Fridays will run from the Battery Maritime in Lower Manhattan, located at 10 South Street), https://govisland.com/visit-the-island/ferry.

See also:

Governors Island: New York City’s Island Retreat So Near Yet So Far Away, Introduces Glamping

 

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© 2018 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com,  www.huffingtonpost.com/author/karen-rubin , and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

Governors Island: New York City’s Island Retreat So Near Yet So Far Away, Introduces Glamping

Governors Island, reached by ferry from Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, gives you a getaway to faraway destination, chock full of historic attractions like Castle Williams, a fortification built for the War of 1812, used as a prison during the Civil War. Enjoy festivals like the Jazz Age Lawn Party, then tour the island by surrey. You can rent bicycles too and beginning this year, even camp out © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com 

Governors Island, a 712-acre island in the heart of New York Harbor, but a mere 800 yards off Lower Manhattan and even closer to Brooklyn, is a sensational getaway destination in its own right – historic sites like Fort Jay and Castle Williams, bicycle paths, playgrounds, art venues, and marvelous festive “happenings.” You never have had to go so near to be transported so far in time or place.

Arriving by ferry at Governors Island © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

Be one of the first guests to stay overnight on NYC’s historic Governors Island with Collective Retreats. With unique accommodations including luxury tents (glamping) and designer modular containers, guests enjoy a full-service hotel-style retreat with unparalleled waterfront views of New York City and the Statue of Liberty (collectiveretreats.com).

Be among the first to experience luxury camping (glamping) on Governors Island; dinner and breakfast are included © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

You can rent bicycles at Citibikes and at Blazing Saddles (which offers a free hour-long ride weekdays before noon) and delightful surreys.

Governors Island has a fabulous history that goes back to the Native Americans and colonial days of  the Dutch and the British in New York. It has had a military purpose going back to the Revolutionary War. Between 1806 and 1809, the U.S. Army reconstructed Fort Jay and built Castle Williams on a rocky outcropping facing the harbor. During the War of 1812, artillery and infantry troops were concentrated on Governors Island.

Built before the War of 1812, Castle Williams on Governors Island was used to imprison Confederate soldiers during the Civil War © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

The island continued to serve an important military function until the 1960s. During the American Civil War, it was used for recruitment and as a prison for captured Confederate soldiers (on one visit, I came upon Civil War reenactors practicing drills, quite a mind-bender from having just come from the 1920s Jazz Age Lawn Party). Throughout World War I and II, the island served as an important supply base for Army ground and air forces (my father was stationed at Fort Jay during the war.)

Civil War reenactors at Fort Jay on Governors Island © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

Over the years, Governors Island has served as the backdrop for a number of historic events. In 1986, the island was the setting for the relighting of the newly refurbished Statue of Liberty by President Ronald Reagan. In 1988, President Reagan hosted a U.S.-U.S.S.R. summit with Mikhail Gorbachev on Governors Island, and in 1993, the United Nations sponsored talks on the island to help restore democratic rule in Haiti.

Enjoy stunning views of New York City from Governors Island © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

In April 2010, Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Paterson reached an agreement on the future of Governors Island. The City of New York is now responsible for Governors Island and created the Trust for Governors Island, the organization charged with the operations, planning and redevelopment of the Island.

The Island has become known as New York City’s “Playground for the Arts,” hosting cultural events, festivals, concerts, performances throughout the season.

Jazz Age Lawn Party, held 4 times a year, is one of the cultural festivals held on Governors Island © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

The Trust for Governors Island, also offers a wide variety of programming on public access days. Visit them at www.govisland.com for more information.

Access to the island has been greatly improved.

This summer, you can stay late on Fridays, when is open until 10 pm (May 25-September 14); you can have cocktails and dinner at the outdoor cafes and bars;  outdoor films and other events are scheduled.

Governors Island is open daily May 1-October 31, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays, and weekends from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.,  Fridays from May 25-September 14 until 10 p.m.. You can get ferry schedules here (ferries during Late Fridays will run from the Battery Maritime in Lower Manhattan, located at 10 South Street), https://govisland.com/visit-the-island/ferry.

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© 2018 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com,  www.huffingtonpost.com/author/karen-rubin , and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

New York Philharmonic Orchestra Brings ‘Priceless’ Music to Free Summer Concert in Prospect Park

New York Philharmonic brought its priceless music, absolutely free to Brooklyn’s Prospect Park as part of the Summer Concerts in the Parks Series Presented by Didi and Oscar Schafer © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Karen Rubin, Dave E. Leiberman, Laini Miranda
Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

The New York Philharmonic’s 2018 Concerts in the Parks, Presented by Didi and Oscar Schafer, provided a stunning introduction to conductor James Gaffigan, a New York native and Brooklynite, leading the orchestra in a program celebrating Laureate Conductor Leonard Bernstein’s centennial, evocative works highlighting the Orchestra’s virtuosity, and compositions by fifth-grade students in the Philharmonic’s Very Young Composers (VYC) program — the first time that VYC works have been performed in the parks concerts.

 

James Gaffigan conducts the New York Philharmonic in Saint-Saens’ Bacchanale from “Samson et Dalila” in Prospect Park, Brooklyn © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

The delightful program, perfect for a summer-concert-in-the-parks, featured Saint-Saëns’s Bacchanale from Samson and Delilah; Bernstein’s Three Dance Episodes from On the Town, a love letter to New York City;and Rimsky-Korsakov’s storybook in symphony, Scheherazade. 

James Gaffigan conducts the New York Philharmonic in Prospect Park, Brooklyn © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The concert in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park June 15 featured truly remarkable performances of 2018 works by 11-year-old Very Young Composer Jordan Millar’s Boogie Down Uptown; and 10-year-old Very Young Composer Camryn Cowan’s Harlem Shake. 

New York Philharmonic conductor James Gaffigan with young composers Jordan Millar and Camryn Cowan © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

James Gaffigan, a proud New Yorker who introduced the concert by asking for applause for public school teachers, showed himself to be the very antithesis of the arrogant orchestra conductor, but rather,  generous of praise, encouragement and exuberant emotion.

James Gaffigan conducts the New York Philharmonic in Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade in Prospect Park, Brooklyn © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

He did not use a baton for the Scheherazade. He waved his hands and arms in grand gestures, not so much conducting as dancing, performing, acting the music, bringing his whole body into it more like an opera singer than the orchestra conductor, giving the piece a staccato-like crisp precision. He conveyed an infectious joy of music. After, he congratulated Frank Huang, the brilliant concertmaster for his angelic violin solo, and then walked into the orchestra to congratulate all the solo performers, before taking the collective bow.

James Gaffigan conducts the New York Philharmonic in Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade in Prospect Park, Brooklyn © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com
Conductor James Gaffigan joins applause for New York Philharmonic’s concertmaster Frank Huang © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The summer concert series also featured performances at Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx (June 12); the Great Lawn in Central Park, Manhattan (June 13); and Cunningham Park, Queens (June 14). Musicians from the New York Philharmonic also performed Beethoven’s Wind Sextet, Op. 71; Tchaikovsky’s Souvenir de Florence; and the World Premieres of wind sextets by Very Young Composers of New York City — 14-year-old Chi-Chi Ezekwenna’s It’s Almost Summer! and 13-year-old Nicolas Lipman’s Sriracha! — in the Free Indoor Concert in Staten Island at the Music Hall at Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden (June 17).

The performances in the Bronx, Queens, Manhattan, and Brooklyn concluded with dazzling fireworks.

The New York Philharmonic concert in Prospect Park concludes with dazzling fireworks © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The summer series is an amazing opportunity to bring “priceless music” to new audiences absolutely free. Since 1965, the summer series has brought joy to more than 15 million New Yorkers and Big Apple visitors.

“We want all New Yorkers to love the Philharmonic as much as we do and the concerts in the Parks are a glorious way to share the Philharmonic’s virtuosity and power,” said New York Philharmonic chairman Oscar S. Schafer, who with his wife, Didi, has underwritten the series.

Here are more highlights from the concert in Prospect Park:

James Gaffigan conducts the New York Philharmonic in Prospect Park, Brooklyn © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
James Gaffigan conducts the New York Philharmonic in Prospect Park, Brooklyn © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Conductor James Gaffigan and Very Young Composer of New York City Jordan Millar (b 2006), “Boogie Down Uptown” (2018) © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com
Conductor James Gaffigan and Very Young Composer of New York City Camryn Cowan (2007), “Harlem Shake” (2018) © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com
James Gaffigan conducts the New York Philharmonic in Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade in Prospect Park, Brooklyn © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com
James Gaffigan conducts the New York Philharmonic in Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade in Prospect Park, Brooklyn © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com
James Gaffigan conducts the New York Philharmonic in Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade in Prospect Park, Brooklyn © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
James Gaffigan conducts the New York Philharmonic in Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade in Prospect Park, Brooklyn © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com
James Gaffigan conducts the New York Philharmonic in Prospect Park, Brooklyn © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
James Gaffigan conducts the New York Philharmonic in Prospect Park, Brooklyn © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
James Gaffigan conducts the New York Philharmonic in Prospect Park, Brooklyn © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
James Gaffigan conducts the New York Philharmonic in Prospect Park, Brooklyn © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
James Gaffigan conducts the New York Philharmonic in Prospect Park, Brooklyn © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Founded in 1842, the New York Philharmonic is the oldest symphony orchestra in the United States.

At the New York Philharmonic’s website (www.nyphil.org) you can peruse online archives and exhibits, see the concert calendar, get background on the musicians, and purchase tickets.

The summer concerts also inspire visits to see the orchestra at home at Lincoln Center (David Geffen Hall, 10 Lincoln Center Plaza, 212-875-5656). There are various subscription offers – the Philharmonic was offering an opportunity to choose four or more 2018-19 subscription concerts to get one free (promo code CHOOSE4, by June 22).

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© 2018 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com,  www.huffingtonpost.com/author/karen-rubin , and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

 

 

32,000 Cyclists Take Over NYC Streets for 41st TD Five Boro Bike Tour

32,000 riders line up for the start of the 41st annual TD Five Boro Bike Tour of New York City © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

I was thinking of Nancy Vadreen, the student ambassador for the 41st annual TD Five Boro Bike Tour, as I flew down the mile-long descent off of the Verrazano Bridge (after the mile-long ascent) that deposits the 32,000 cyclists into the festival venue on Staten Island, feeling the wind in my face, so refreshing and freeing.

Nancy Vadreen, the student ambassador for the 41st annual TD Five Boro Bike Tour, describes her yearning as a 30-something, to learn how to ride a bicycle © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

At the send-off for the ride that morning, she had described that feeling as a yearning. She was a 30-something who had never learned to ride a bike. “I dreamed of riding.” She went on the internet and discovered that Bike New York offers free classes at  many locations throughout the city. In fact, 25,000 people last year learned how to ride through Bike New York, the largest free biking education program in the country, and the annual TD Five Boro Bike Tour is the main fundraiser.

And here she was, riding in the 40-mile bike tour. “I’m proud and grateful to be riding the 40-miles at the TD Bike Tour. To learn to ride, to feel the wind when you coast downhill.”

I saw her again on the Staten Island ferry back to Manhattan after completing the ride – the thrill of accomplishment was still on her face.

REI, the presenting sponsor of the tour, pointed to the company credo, “Life outdoors is life well lived, it forges better connection to yourself.”

Kurt Feilke, retail director for the Northeast district for REI, the presenting sponsor of the tour, pointed to the company credo, “Life outdoors is life well lived, it forges better connection to yourself.” © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Such an outdoors experience does even more – it fosters such a sense of comradeship, this shared experience. And  it brings you into neighborhoods that are so typically New York, with bands and entertainment to cheer and inspire the riders.

What is so special about New York City’s TD Five Boro Bike Tour is how, for one day, you and 32,000 of your closest friends, feel like you own the city. The streets, bridges and highways – like Sixth Avenue, the FDR Drive, the Queensborough Bridge, the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and the Verrazano (the longest suspension bridge in the Americas) are your domain. It makes you giddy. Neighborhoods ring with sound and spirit – Greenwich Village, Harlem, Astoria, Williamsburg, Greenpoint, DUMBO, Staten Island, Central Park’s blossoms seem to burst just for us.

First wave of riders head up Sixth Avenue for the start of the 41st Annual TD Five Boro Bike Tour © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The ride this year marked the 41st year of this event, which is the largest noncompetitive bike tour in North America. The ride has come quite a long way from that first one, in 1977, when just 250 people participated.

Riders, who race to get a spot as soon as registrations open (participation is limited to 32,000 but could easily be thousands more), came from every state in the nation (yes, Hawaii and Alaska), and this year came from 40 countries.

New York City has really embraced biking, and now offers 1,000 miles of dedicated bike lanes; some 800,000 New Yorkers regularly bike, said NYC DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg  The city is improving its connection between Manhattan and the Bronx. “There’s never been a better time to bike in New York.”

Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer sends riders off on the TD Five Boro Bike Tour © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer said “Thank you for your bike lane advocacy, for being healthy, for being part of the city’s future.” She thanked the DOT for making the Harlem River Bridges safe.

The annual event raises money for bike education. Bike New York operates bike education centers, after school programs, summer camps, and this year launched a Women’s Initiative, as well as its first membership program. “Alums” from the bike education program are joining the ride this year as “Student Ambassadors.”

Numerous charities also use the event for fundraising, purchasing registrations which participants then raise money against. This year, 1,200 riders representing 57 charities, collectively raised $1 million, said Ken Podziba, President & CEO of Bike New York.

The bike tour is also a model of sustainability, promoting recycling, water conservation, becoming the largest sporting event to be certified for sustainability by the Council for Responsible Sport 3 years ago. Each rest stop featured “zero waste” receptacles. Even the rider numbers were recycled.

The ride is designed to be a family friendly tour, not a competition, appealing to all abilities, ages – volunteers hold signs to slow the pace and alert riders to turns and obstacles.

TD Bank, which has been the title sponsor for the past 12 years, pointed to the continual expansion of sustainability efforts.

There’s a lot of good will here REI raises $5 million for community organizations.

But it is mostly in the one-to-one, the shared excitement that goes through all the people.

Riders are sent off by the choral singing of the national anthem by Music With a Message © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The 40-miles pass with one broad smile – we are sent off by the choral singing of Music With a Message, socially-conscious youth who inspire positive change and bring their message of love, hope in their singing.

At 6th Avenue we get our first cheering squad – there are at least one in every borough – and bands representing their borough, including Bombayo, Giant Flying Turtles, Night Spins and the Rusty Guns (one of my favorites).

Ken Podziba, President & CEO of Bike New York © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

“The thing that ultimately makes the event so special has remained a constant and can be summed up in one word: diversity,” writes Bike New York CEO Podziba in the official guide to the tour. “For decades, we’ve welcomed riders from dozens of countries and from every corner of this one, children and octogenarians, bike messengers, weekend warriors, everyday commuters, and even unicyclists, old pros and first timers… You never know who’ll be standing next to you at the starting line – they may be from a country you’ve never heard of.

“But diversity isn’t simply what makes our ridership so special – it’s also what makes New York City like no other place on the planet. Depending on who you ask, as many as 800 languages are spoken here. As you ride through all five of our beautiful boroughs… you’ll get the experience a 40-mile slice of the most populous, dynamic and ethnically diverse city in the country.”

Every manner of cycle can be seen on the TD Five Boro Bike Tour. Here, a loving grandson takes his grandmother in a rickshaw-style cycle so she can enjoy the experience. © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

There are any number of incarnations of bikes – tandems, kiddie carts, even elliptical contraptions that seem better suited to a gym (I meet a woman from Salt Lake City who said that 100 of them joined the tour from all parts of the country). There was even a grandson riding a rickshaw so his grandmother could have the joy of the Five Boro tour.

Indeed, everyone marvels at how well organized the ride is and all the precautions that are taken to make the ride safe, though we did see some spills and marveled at how quickly aid was provided..

We are 32,000 riders, but there are 2,000 volunteers who assist all along the way – marshals and course captains and EMS, and people along the route who tell us when to slow down and prepare for a turn, and rest stop people who hand out water and snacks.

And there is such a sense of liberation to take over New York City’s streets.

The band Bombayo entertains riders in the Bronx © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

The ride embraces all five boroughs – and each shows off with street entertainment, raising the spirits of the riders along the route, and at rest stops (Clif Bar sponsored a DJ and entertainment at the Con Ed rest area) and at the Finish Festival on Staten Island (still three miles from the actual 40-mile mark, at the ferry terminal), where, all the finishers received a medal (and TD sponsored a free massage).

Here are more highlights:

TD Five Boro Bike Tour heads rides through Central Park © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com
Taking over the streets: TD Five Boro Bike Tour goes through the FDR tunnel © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Riding over the Queensborough Bridge © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com
The famous Silvercup sign greens riders as they come into Queens © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Riding down the ramp from the Queensborough Bridge, with Manhattan Skyline © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Riding down the ramp from the Queensborough Bridge © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com
Street art along the TD Five Boro Bike Tour route © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com
Street art along the TD Five Boro Bike Tour route © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Live Poultry Slaughter (Comedy Club) © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com
Making the turn © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
One of most dramatic views of the ride: Empire State Building framed by Manhattan Bridge in DUMBO © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The finish line of the TD Five Boro Bike Tour is a festival on Staten Island © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

As in recent years, the  bike tour is preceded by a two-day Bike Expo, when bikers can take advantage of discounts and giveaways by scores of bike, biking gear, and bike tour companies and destinations from Quebec in Canada, to Taiwan, and special biking events through the World Association of Cycling Events.

I learned about a new online biking trip planner for the state of Maine, organized by the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, various biking groups and clubs (www.bikemaine.org/wheretoride), as well as Maine’s annual 8-Day Bike Maine trip with 450 riders going 320 miles (2018 is fully booked). There’s also the Bold Cost Scenic Bikeway, 211 miles of low-traffic, on-road riding; you can get detailed online and printable maps, GPS data, and local information to organize a self-guided ride (BikeBoldCoast.com).

Also, a 45-day cross-country bike tour, from San Diego, California to St. Augustine, Florida, with luxury accommodations (none of this camping stuff), fine dining, for $13,000, through Cycle of Life Adventures (they also have less ambitious itineraries). (cycleoflifeadventures.com, 303-945-9886).

Bike New York, 475 Riverside Drive, New York, NY, Suite 1300, New York, NY 10115, www.bikenewyork.org, Follow @bikenewyork on Facebook and Instagram.

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© 2018 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com,  www.huffingtonpost.com/author/karen-rubin , and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

 

After 18 Years, Strawberry Fields Plays Its Last Beatles Tribute at BB King Blues Club…But the Beat Goes On

Strawberry Fields, a Beatles tribute band, playing its last performance at BB King Blues Club, after 18 years; BB King is closing, but Strawberry Fields continues to play in various venues. © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Karen Rubin and David Leiberman,

Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

 

After 18 years of playing BB King’s Saturday brunch, Strawberry Fields, one of the most heralded of Beatles tribute bands, played for the last time at the celebrated live-music venue in Times Square.

The room was packed with appreciative fans, family and friends, many who have been regulars, and many who were out-of-towners enjoying this slice of New York.

The lighting deliberately shadows the bandmembers’ face because the illusion of seeing the Beatles performing live is so accurate – close your eyes and the sound is re-created note for note, tone for tone, beat for beat. But instead of an immense stadium or arena, they are playing for you in this remarkably intimate and comfortable supper-club setting – that is, until this weekend, when they played their last Saturday brunch at BB King.

They play on the same musical instruments of the Beatles’ era, with the same sound amplifiers, even the same 40-year old drum set that Ringo Starr used so the sound is as authentic as it could be.

Strawberry Fields, in the Sergeant Peppers costumes provide live rendition to songs that the Beatles never performed in concert © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

The costumes set the timeframe for the music: dressed in mop top hair, black suits and thin ties for the early Beatles Rock n’Roll era when they burst onto the world stage that was so melodic and danceable; re-creating the album cover for the Sergeant Pepper era of innovation (where the Band re-creates the innovative instruments and multiple tracks invented in the studio after the Beatles stopped performing concerts to focus on in the extraordinary musical innovations that could only be accomplished in a studio); and finally, the “White Album,” “Abbey Road” and “Let it Be” period of social and political activism, with “John Lennon” in an army jacket.

Strawberry Fields, a Beatles tribute band, playing its last performance at BB King Blues Club, after 18 years; BB King is closing, but Strawberry Fields continues to play in various venues. © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

There are any number of Beatles tribute bands, but Strawberry Fields is acknowledged to be one of the best – the musicians who have taken on the persona of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr since the band was formed 28 years ago, have performed in Beatlemania on Broadway and in touring companies, Let it Be, the 40th Anniversary re-creation of the Shea Stadium concert, and have performed all over the country and the world: Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, the Plaza Hotel, Paramount Theater, numerous Hard Rock Cafes – some 2000 performances.

Yet after all this time, they don’t play by rote, as if their head was some other place or that playing the same music over and over has become a chore. It is as fresh and vital as if they were the Beatles and recognized the responsibility of playing live for people who were such devoted fans of their records.  They play with such purity, respect and reverence for the music and the creators – not as cliché, over-the-top, or caricature.

 

Tony Garofalo as John Lennon, founded Strawberry Fields in 1991 © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Tony Garofalo, the John Lennon impersonator, is Strawberry Fields’ Founder, Creator, Producer and Financier, Rhythm Guitar, Lead Guitar, Piano, Mouth Organ, Lead Vocals. Tony has continuously perfected the role as John Lennon throughout the 80’s and 90’s, performing with countless incarnations of Beatlemania. He formed Strawberry Fields in 1991 to make a complete Beatles performance accessible in variety of musical venues.

Tony was born into a musical family, with a mother who was a professional dancer/ teacher and father who is both a 25 year guitar teacher and professional Carnegie Hall alumnist with the New York Mandolin Orchestra. Tony has been playing guitar since he was five, and is also trained in the fine art of classical guitar, mastering pieces by Bach, Beethoven, Sor, Julian Bream, and Andrew Segovia.

But Tony had another life entirely as an undercover Detective and Sergeant and a first-responder who was among those who came to the World Trade Center on 9/11.

He served in the NYPD police for 20 years, with over 700 arrests to his credit and has worked in the central robbery unit, narcotics division, detective division, and internal affairs bureau. Tony was also a key contributor in the September 11th rescue and recovery effort both at Ground Zero and the Staten Island Fresh Kill location. Colleagues and police brass call him the real Sergeant Pepper.

The colorful character is also known for re-constructing the famous Chitty Chitty Bang Bang car (autographed by Dick Van Dyke).

Billy J. Ray, who has been Strawberry Fields’ Paul McCartney since 1978, was a member of the original Broadway Beatlemania cast, with John Korba as George Harrison © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Billy J. Ray, who has been Strawberry Fields’ Paul McCartney since 1978, was a member of the original Broadway Beatlemania cast, and plays Bass Guitar, Piano, Lead Vocals. Billy bears a certain resemblance to Paul: that boyish charm and devil-may-care attitude that captivates any audience. He can sing the rockers with unbounded energy and change gears quickly to render a soft, beautiful ballad in Paul’s inimitable style. His Hofner “Beatle Bass” and Rickenbacker Model 4001 complete the look, feel, and aura associated with Paul McCartney.

John Korba is Strawberry Fields’ George Harrison © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

John Korba, who takes on the George Harrison part, plays Lead and Rhythm Guitar and does Vocals. John was associate conductor of the Broadway show Rent for four years, associate conductor for the Broadway productions of The Civil War and the Rocky Horror Show and has appeared in numerous Broadway productions including TabooKat and the KingsRain and Let It Be. He has performed and recorded with Hall and OatesCarly SimonTodd RundgrenPhoebe SnowJohn Waite, and numerous other artists. He spends most of his time, when he’s not touring, writing, recording, and producing various projects in his own studio. In the stage lighting, John takes on an amazing  resemblance to George.

Michael Bellusci, Strawberry Fields’ Ringo Starr impersonator, is responsible for Drums, Percussion, Vocals, Music Orchestration and Technical Director © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Michael Bellusci, the Ringo Starr impersonator, is responsible for Drums, Percussion, Vocals, Music Orchestration and Technical Director. Michael discovered his passion for drums the moment he saw the Beatles perform on the Ed Sullivan Show, Sunday February 9, 1964. He is a multi-instrumentalist and has studied with such drumming legends as Tommy Hatch (long time staff drummer at Radio City Music Hall), Sam Ulano, Rod Morgenstein, Justin DiCioccio, and Frank Marino. Michael’s musical career has spanned four decades, from 1970 to the present, performing with a long list of musical acts that include: Get With It (with Kasey Smith of Danger Danger), the ConglomowitzWonderous StoriesLeslie Fradkin (original “George” from “Beatlemania”, Edison Lighthouse), the Off Broadway theater production of Cougar the MusicalThe Big Apple CircusHere Comes the Sun, George Harrison tribute with Godfrey Townsend (Allen Parsons Project Live, John Entwistle Band, Happy Together tour musical director), and most notably, was selected to perform as Ringo for well over a decade with the touring cast of Beatlemania, which starred Mark “Farquar” VaccacioLeslie Fradkin, and Don Linares. Michael, an original member of Strawberry Fields who toured with the band through the 1990s, is now repriseing his role as Ringo in Strawberry Fields. Some have described him as a “dead ringer” in both his resemblance to Ringo and his drumming expertise.

“They have closed a chapter, but the book is still going on,” said Maria Milito, the popular 104.3 FM Classic Rock radio host who first introduced Strawberry Fields show at BB King 18 years ago, and closed out the last show © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

They are not so much “playing” the Beatles as re-creating the Beatles’ musical artistry with a respect, a reverence that is powerful. I half-expected Yoko Ono to make an appearance to express her appreciation to how Strawberry Fields keeps the Beatles legacy alive across generations (the youngest fan in the audience was just three weeks old). Or perhaps Sir Paul McCartney, who, along with Ringo Starr, and Sid Bernstein (the original Beatles concert promoter for Shea Stadium), announced the band at the 40th anniversary re-creation of the Shea Stadium concert and in July 2013, invited Strawberry Fields for a personal meeting and after-concert VIP party at the Brooklyn’s Barclay Center, when Paul was photographed holding Tony’s actual NYPD Police Sergeants badge.

Billy J. Ray, John Korba, Michael Bellusci, and Tony Garofalo of Strawberry Fields taking a final bow at BB King Blues Club, which is closing © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

How is it possible to play Beatles music in over 2,000 shows and keep it fresh and exciting? “Partly that is because all four of them are extremely talented, lifelong musicians. Another reason is that all of them were either in the touring company or the Broadway cast of Beatlemania and had to graduate from ‘Beatle boot camp’ so they are the best of the best. And it is also because they never do the identical show twice. Since they are quite literally capable of performing any of the more than 200 songs in the Beatles canon, they change up the set list every time,” says Deborah A. Sable, who met Tony Garofalo through Strawberry Fields and married him a year ago. “I was with them on tour at Busch Gardens in Tampa where I watched them do 18 shows in six days and no two were exactly the same!”

You have the opportunity to savor the musical virtuosity of the Beatles – who were self-taught musicians – to really appreciate the intricacy and the innovation of the Beatles. This isn’t just nostalgia; this is preservation of the musical artistry in the way Mozart, Bach, Beethoven and Chopin will always be a part of musical repertoire.

And they have their own fans – we meet Dina Marks, a teacher in PS 63 in Ozone Park and Wantagh, Long Island resident, who has followed them around their outdoor concerts and has come to the Saturday BB King brunches where Strawberry Fields has performed for the last 18 years “at least once a year for my birthday and anniversary” and wears a replica of the same John Lennon army jacket that Tony wears. “The minute I heard they were closing, I said, ‘I don’t care what, I will be here.’ They make me feel they are playing just for me.”

While Strawberry Fields is now on the prowl for a new indoor venue to replace BB King, the band has a series of summer outdoor concerts set:

July 10, 2018: Rocky Point Free Outdoor Concert, 7 pm, St. Anthony Padua Church, Route 25!, NY 11778 (raindate Aug 28)

July 18, 2018: Tanner Park Free Outdoor Concert, 7:30: Beach Waterfront concert Band Shell, 99 Tanner Park, Copiague, NY 11726 (10,000 are expected to attend).

July 19, 2018: Smithtown Library Free Concert, 7:30: at the Library, Northeast corner of Route 25 and route 111.

July 27, 2018: Glen Cove Free Downtown Sounds Concert Series, 7:30 pm: Village Square at intersection of Glen, School and Bridge Streets, Glen Cov e NY 11542.

Aug. 1, 2018: town of Oyster Bay Concerts Under the Stars series, 8 pm. Syosset Woodburyt Park, 7800 Rte 25 (Jericho Turnpike), Woodbury, NY 11797.

Aug. 11, 2018: Musikfest Concert at outdoor Festplatz main state, 8 pm, 101 Founders Way, Bethlehem PA 18015. Largest East Coast outdoor concert venue with 15,000 expected (artsquest.org).

Strawberry Fields, a Beatles tribute band, playing its last performance at BB King Blues Club, after 18 years; BB King is closing, but Strawberry Fields continues to play in various venues. © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

“They have closed a chapter, but the book is still going on,” said Maria Milito, the popular 104.3 FM Classic Rock radio host who first introduced Strawberry Fields show at B B King 18 years ago, and closed out the last show.

“It’s a bittersweet moment for us,” Tony says in his farewell. “The greatest thing about the Beatles was love. Just go out into the world and just love.”

For more information, visit the Strawberry Fields website, www.StrawberryFieldsTheTribute.com.

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© 2018 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com,  www.huffingtonpost.com/author/karen-rubin , and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

 

Memorable Meal at Shalom Japan, Where East Meets Eastern Europe in Williamsburg and New York City Essence is in Every Bite

Chef Aaron Levy, who grew up in Great Neck, Long Island, opened Shalom Japan with his wife, Sawako Okochi, who grew up in Hiroshima, Japan, blending two culinary traditions, and lives the proof that this is a small world, meeting friends from Great Neck and Baltimore © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

 

By Karen Rubin, David Leiberman, Eric Leiberman, Laini Nemett & Sarah Falter

Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

 

“Tradition!”

Two cuisine cultures are ingeniously re-mixed, breaking open the “box” of strong tradition that underpins both: Jewish and Japanese. The end-result of this culinary reimagination is New York on a plate.

Shalom Japan, a quaint restaurant and bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, is the ingenious creation of Aaron Israel and his wife, Sawako Okochi; Aaron hails from Great Neck, Long Island (a 2000 graduate of Great Neck North High School), and Sawako is from Hiroshima Japan.

Shalom Japan’s logo © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

Combining Jewish and Japanese cooking traditions is not just a gimmick. Aaron and Sawako’s flavor combinations are astonishing, a sensory surprise. And the food presentations are as artful as his painting. Indeed, Aaron has created the ceramic dishes and saki cups and his paintings decorate the walls.

The couple are respectful of culinary traditions – this is not meant to satirize or stereotype. This isn’t just a matter of combining two things – it’s really ingenious new creations – you can appreciate the trial-and-error that must have gone into creating these recipes, preparations and presentations.

“With Jewish food and with Japanese food, ‘tradition’ is a box – it’s fun and challenge,” Aaron says.

The cultural mash-up is initially disorienting and fun (blows your mind to imagine and makes you smile) – you are simultaneously thrust into something familiar and comforting, and uprooted into some strange new cultural world. It kind of makes you think about what made something familiar in the first place.

But then there is the pure pleasure of the taste and texture and visual presentation.

Shalom Japan’s Tuna Tataki with Black Tahini © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

The dishes begin with delectable fresh, seasonal ingredients. This is especially pronounced in the Tuna Tataki with Black Tahini – a luscious tuna belly, prepared to perfection.

You find yourself just suspending all thought – and for those who just want to take a discovery tour, can take advantage of the Chef’s tasting menu ($55 or $75 per person), which is served on ceramic dishes that Aaron created.

We visit on a Thursday night (the night before Passover seder, in fact) with family who had come from various parts of the country for the holiday, and with the plates prepared with sharing in mind,  the six of us are able to taste a fair amount of the menu.

Toro Toasts, Scallion Cream Cheese, Everything Spices © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

Toro Toasts, Scallion Cream Cheese, Everything Spices –served on homemade challah, sliced to small squares and baked to toast – done with scallion and wasabi cream cheese, sprinkled with everything spices (like an everything bagel).

Shalom Japan’s Caesar Salad © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Shalom Japan Caesar prepared with white anchovy, Za’atar pita crumbs and parmesan.

Spring Jew Egg is their take on a Scotch egg which is a hard boiled, wrapped in pork and deep-fried.  Instead, at Shalom Japan this is a soft boiled egg, wrapped in falafel and deep fried; the accoutrement changes with season – in spring, it is prepared with labna, a tangy middle eastern yogurt, peas carrots, and spring greens on top.

Spring Jew Egg is Shalom Japan’s take on a Scotch egg © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

Okonomiyaki, Sauerkraut, Pastrami, Bonito is based on a traditional street food popular in Hiroshima: a savory pancake, made with batter, cabbage, beansprouts and fried. “It translates to ‘have it your way’,  ‘how you like it’ – with different ingredients of choosing. We chose a homage to Jewish deli, New York style– so we chose sauerkraut and pastrami, with bonito – a style of tuna, smoked and thinly shaped.”

Okonomiyaki, Sauerkraut, Pastrami, Bonito is based on a traditional street food popular in Hiroshima © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Sesame Temomi Mazemen, Pork Char Siu, Shishito Peppers, Shiso – this is similar to Ramen, but in a sesame sauce (not broth) with the traditional style Japanese noodle. (Shalom Japan is Jewish cooking, not Kosher).

Shalom Japan’s Matzoh Ball Ramen with Foie Gras Dumpling is a meal in itself © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Matzoh Ball Ramen with Foie Gras Dumpling is Aaron’s take on matzo ball soup, so it has  many of the ingredients you would expect to find: grandma’s style broth,  potato, Aaron’s own matzoh ball recipe instead of egg noodles, ramen noodles. Admittedly, the foie gras dumpling added in is a strange touch. The soup can be a meal in itself  and you can add in extra Matzoh ball, dumpling or add egg.

Ricotta & Spinach Blintzes served with black truffle and honey. Inspired.

Ricotta & Spinach Blintzes served with black truffle and honey © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

The wild, weird ride continues with imaginative cocktails concocted by beverage director Ian Morrison (the beverage menu pages outnumber the food selections), such as:

Meshugatini #2: Caraway-infused Vodka, Gin, Cocchi Americano, Pickle Brine, Fresh Dill

Winter Negroni: Hayman’s Gin, Contratto Bitter, Cynar, Walnut Liqueur, Burnt Rosemary

Y Tu Mamá También: Agave De Cortes Mezcal, Guajllo Infused Suerte Tequila, Ancho Reyes Chile Liqueur, SweetShine Ginger Liqueur, Lime, Yuzu, Ginger Beer

Konichiwa Brooklyn: Templeton Rye, Dry Plum Wine, Amaro, Maraschino, Brandied Cherry

Sweet and Sawa: Denen Mugi Shochu, Four Roses Bourbon, Yuzu, Honey, Egg White

Beverage director Ian Morrison has concocted imaginative cocktails, like the Meshugatini #2 which has pickle juice! © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

There is a mind-boggling list of sake choices – like Fuku Chitose (“happy owl” described as “rustic, savory, pumpkin”); Tae No Hana (“sublime beauty” which is characterized as “dry, full, frosted flake, hazelnut, malt-ball”).

Even the beer selection is ridiculously eclectic, hailing from Japan, Germany, San Francisco, North Carolina, South Carolina, Washington and Michigan.

There are surprising similarities and connections in the food traditions (like Gershwin’s melding of classical and jazz): “Both don’t use too much dairy; both do put a value on fish,” Aaron reflects.

Shalom Japan puts its spin on gefilte fish (not at all like Mother’s) © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

We asked Aaron what the restaurant would be serving for Passover – Aaron makes his own matzoh – and were treated to a variation on gefilte fish that he would be serving: fried fish ball (much tastier than Mother’s).

Desserts are amazing, also – I try the Uzu sorbet that has a grapefruit flavor; there is also a scrumptious bread pudding.

Talk about a small world! Laini had known Aaron since 2005 when he was an undergraduate studying painting at the prestigious art academy, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore, and was mentored by Laini’s father who headed the Painting Department. She has been coming to Shalom Japan since it first opened five years ago; when she brought David the first time, he thought he recognized Aaron and soon realized they had gone to Great Neck North High School together.

Chef Aaron Israel grew up in Great Neck, Long Island; he opened Shalom Japan with his wife, Sawako Okochi, who grew up in Hiroshima, five years ago © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Aaron picks up the story, saying, “by senior year [at MICA], I knew I didn’t want to paint.” Cooking was his art. He got a job in a kitchen and cooked Italian for seven years. He met his wife, Sawako, cooking.

He has worked under some of the most acclaimed chefs in New York City in numerous fine dining restaurants such as August, under chef Tony Liu, and A Voce, under chef Andrew Carmellini. He was the opening sous chef at Torrisi Italian Specialties for Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone, helping them to develop and open the restaurant. As chef of Mile End, he launched their acclaimed dinner program. Then, he became a food consultant in London. His work has been recognized by the James Beard Foundation and  by publications including the New York Times, Time Out New York, the Jewish Daily Forward, and the New York Observer.

Sawako Okochi ‘s culinary background is rooted in her Japanese upbringing in Hiroshima. She moved from Japan to Texas in 1995. In 2000 she relocated to New York City for the culinary program at the New York Restaurant School. After finishing an internship at chef David Waltuck’s Chanterelle, she worked for five years with chef Anita Lo at Annisa, rising to sous chef. She spent five years as the chef at the Good Fork and went on to be the executive chef at Lani Kai. She was named by Mother Nature Network to their list of 40 under 40 rising star chefs.

The flavor combinations which I admire so much, “don’t fight, like my relationship with my wife,” Aaron jokes. The couple have a three-year old son, Kyshu (who has already been to Japan three times) and live above the restaurant.

Shalom Japan brings to mind Helen Mirrin’s movie, “The Hundred Foot Journey,” about a cultural collaboration between Indian and French culinary traditions.

Sharing dessert at Shalom Japan © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The atmosphere is most pleasant and relaxing – music from the 1930s and 1940s playing in the background – a décor that combines the best of Brooklyn with Japan. On the table, natural elements that evoke Japanese Zen sensibility, like the smooth stones (Jewish culture isn’t at all imbued with natural elements).

The room is cozy yet accommodating a surprising number of people, and on this night is packed – interestingly, a wonderful demographic cross-section of diners.

Shalom Japan offers a cozy atmosphere © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

This could be because of “Free Ramen!” Thursdays, from 10 pm to midnight, where you get free ramen with purchase of any alcoholic beverage and half off Mars Iwai whisky, plus a late-night menu. But I must say, we arrived well before 10 pm, and the place pretty much filled up.

Shalom Japan serves brunch. Notable selections:

Okonomi-Latke: pastrami, house sauerkraut, fried egg

Matzoh Ball Ramen prepared with soft boiled egg, chicken, scallions, mandels

Jew Egg Sandwich Platter served with peas, carrots, labneh (a tangy, thick, creamy yogurt cheese), pita

Shalom Japan Burger, prepared with Martin’s potato poll, teriyaki bacon jam, grilled onion, lettuce, crack sauce and blue cheese

DIrty Matzoh Brie  prepared with bacon, cheddar, apple compote

One of the ceramic plates that Aaron Israel created for Shalom Japan © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

There were many locals and repeat visitors who were clued into the Thursday night happy hour, but Shalom Japan is worthy of a destination restaurant for any long-distance visitors to the city for its unique culinary experience that so expresses New York in a nutshell.

The restaurant is conveniently located just three blocks off the Williamsburg Bridge, a short walk from the J, M, Z, G, and L lines, and across from the Rodney Park Playground in the eclectically vibrant neighborhood of South Williamsburg.

Reservations accepted (you can go online); or just walk in. (Closed Monday).

Shalom Japan, 310 South Fourth St., Brooklyn, NY 11211, 718-388-4012, shalomjapannyc.com; info@ShalomJapanNYC.com, @ShalomJapan

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© 2018 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com,  www.huffingtonpost.com/author/karen-rubin , and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

New-York Historical Society Examines ‘Rebel Spirits: Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr.’

Juxtaposed portraits of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, Schiller’s photo taken just days before RFK’s assassination, open the exhibit © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy are tethered together in peoples’ minds, and not only because they both were assassinated within two months of each other in that fateful year of 1968. A new, remarkable exhibit that has just opened at the New-York Historical Society commemorates the 50th anniversary of those events, examines their conjoined legacy and makes some interesting discoveries: their lives had a kind of parallel trajectory, yet, they consciously steered separate courses, intersecting finally in death.

On view through May 20, 2018, Rebel Spirits: Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. showcases 61 photographs and 30 documents and artifacts that reveal the relationship between these historic figures. The exhibit is based in part on The Promise and the Dream, written by Vanity Fair contributing editor and New York Times writer David Margolick and produced by Lawrence Schiller for National Geographic Publishers. Schiller, a photojournalist who covered many of the significant events throughout the 1960s, conceived of the project and collected 21,000 photographs, sifting them down to 3,000, then 2,000, and ultimately, over the course of just three days, laid out the photographs that are presented much like a 20-page photo essay in Life Magazine, where Schiller worked, would have produced.

Lawrence Schiller, a photojournalist since the 1960s, recalls a fateful day when he was 26 years old: “The elevator opened to reveal Oswald, who was only 24 years old. It shocked me that evil could be in such a person – a kid my age had caused this tragedy.” © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

But in the course of gathering that material, an essential question arose: why were there so few photos of King and Kennedy together? The exhibit has just one where the two men were at the same event, with then-Vice President Lyndon Baines Johnson. Another instance where they would have been together was when King testified to a Senate Committee which included Robert Kennedy, in which he stated that the millions of dollars that were being sent to support the war in Vietnam should better be spent to revitalize America’s ghettoes (a photo is taken from behind King). Significantly, while Kennedy supported the idea of spending more in cities, he was forced for political reasons (like the fact that his brother, as President, dramatically escalated America’s role in Vietnam) to disassociate himself from King’s anti-Vietnam stance.

Margolick, who researched and wrote the book in a mere seven months time, started off with no pre-conceived notion, but wanted to come up with some original construct about these two lions of American history.

Indeed, if news is the first draft of history, books provide the room for reflection and context.

The big idea of the book and the exhibit is that “Robert Kennedy was a political person and Martin Luther King Jr. a spiritual person; they respected one another but there was a limit how closely they could ally,” Margolick said at the press opening of the exhibit.

The two men had reason to be wary of one another.

Robert Kennedy was at his core a politician from a political family; on top of that, his brother, as president, had made key decisions including significantly involving the US in war in Vietnam, and was skittish about making civil rights a key focus of his administration; as JFK’s Attorney General, Robert Kennedy had signed off on J. Edgar Hoover’s request to surveil King, whom Hoover was convinced was a Communist. But Kennedy also sent US Marshals to force school integration.

King, for his part, was a spiritual man for whom civil rights was not merely a political issue but a matter of everyday survival for millions of people who could be brutalized without repercussion under a Jim Crow regimen.

“They were initially wary of each other,” Margolick said. “There was an enormous chasm which gradually shrank, but did not entirely disappear.”

Bobby Kennedy on the cover of Time Magazine © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

 

“RFK felt MLK a liability, he couldn’t get close.” There was that special night, when Robert Kennedy, who made a concerted effort to embed himself into black communities when he realized he did not have more than a superficial understanding of issues, was in “black” Indianapolis for a campaign speech and gets notice that King has just been killed, and instead of rushing away, he spoke compassionately to the crowd. “That was a special night. Death was the only time Kennedy actually embraced [the idea] of King. Kennedy was dead two months later. There was no time to carry torch of MLK.

“But even in limited time, Kennedy was reluctant to embrace King. The Kennedys were politicians King was a spiritual man. Kennedy considers the political implications of everything. Part of the purpose of this book is to examine and correct the revisionist idea that were together – really was there was always space between them.”

They also came from completely different worlds: Kennedy chose to take up the fight; the fight chose King.

Over the course of researching the book, Margolick said, “my point of view was constantly evolving. I wanted it to be as original as it could. I looked at newspapers no one had; primary documents not examined before. I came to realize the most precious thing was to talk to dwindling supply of people who knew both men – very few knew both: Andrew Young, William Vanden Heuval and some behind scenes intermediaries.

Margolick realized that an excellent source would be the photographers who photographed both – including Harry Benson, Steve Shapiro – who could even describe how differently they interacted with crowds.

“Both men had a sense of their mortality – they knew they were doomed.” One of the photographers, he thinks it was Harry Benson, said that when King was in a crowd, he would look it over carefully, mindful of his safety. He never stayed in one place longer than he had to.”

But, he adds, “Robert Kennedy didn’t care. He had a premonition of death but approached it differently. He told his security force he didn’t want precautions. There were reporters who never left RFK’s side because they expected he would be assassinated and wanted to be there when it happened.”

David Margolick with the Time Magazine featuring Robert Kennedy on the cover © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Lawrence Schiller, who organized the project and curated the exhibit, was one of those photographers who helped document history beginning in the 1960s. He was assigned to Robert Kennedy and followed him for the last 40 days of his life. Schiller was at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles the night that Robert Kennedy delivered his last speech, tried to hurry out by going through the kitchen, where he was met by Sirhan Sirhan who shot him dead. (The portrait that opens the exhibit was taken by Schiller on board Kennedy’s plane en route to California just days before the speech.)

He was just 26 years old working as a photojournalist on a fateful day in 1963 when he was summoned from Los Angeles to Dallas after President John F. Kennedy was shot. He was in the police station when, as it happened, the police were booking Lee Harvey Oswald.

“The elevator opened to reveal Oswald, who was only 24 years old. It shocked me that evil could be in such a person – a kid my age had caused this tragedy.”

Schiller, who has several photos in the exhibit, called upon many of the photographers he knew who are represented, but there are many which had not been published before.

The exhibit is laid out chronologically for the most part, but in some cases “emotionally chronologically”, as when a portrait of Robert Kennedy, photographed on Feb. 26, 1962, with a movie slate, is juxtaposed next to a police mug shot of King from Feb. 22, 1956, upon which someone had scrawled “DEAD 4-4-68”; and in a case with artifacts, the Time Magazine editions with each on the cover, is displayed. ”King’s ‘Man of the Year’ drove people crazy,” Schiller remarks.

Parallel lives: portrait of Robert Kennedy, photographed on Feb. 26, 1962, juxtaposed next to a police mug shot of King from Feb. 22, 1956, upon which someone had scrawled “DEAD 4-4-68” © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Asked which photo was the most impactful, Schiller points to one of a man with a broom, sweeping the blood from outside King’s hotel room in Memphis, a photo which he said had never been published; another shows the hotel room. Schiller says that people came in and collected vials of blood to keep as a memento.

The exhibit starts with Rosa Parks and ends in a field after Kennedy’s assassination, where people are holding a sign, “So long Bobby.” Several of the photos don’t feature King or Kennedy at all, but provide context: the KKK, US Marshals, Freedom Riders, the march after Medgar Evers was assassinated in June 1963, just five months before JFK was assassinated, in eerie similarity to the one-two King-Kennedy assassinations.

There is great intimacy of the experience – the photos, which were printed all at the same time in the same lab from negatives and then scanned –  are 8 x 10 and smaller, the room is compact, so you are close to the images, can easily read the captions and notes.

“The insight we came to early on emerged from the question: Why were there not more photos of the two together?” Margolick said. “The book tries to fill the gap, why there were no more photos of the two together. They kept apart. We are documenting, explaining the absence of something.”

One notable absence is a still photo of Robert F. Kennedy addressing a black audience in Indianapolis the night that King was killed, which in itself, says a lot.

“No one knew how important that speech by Kennedy would be, the night MLK was killed,” Margolick said. “The event that became so important was so scantily covered, there were just two still photographers there from local papers. It was only a 6-7 minute speech, but there is no film of the entire speech.” But it was at that point that Kennedy most fulsomely embraced King. (A portion of the video is displayed.) There’s a monument in Indianapolis commemorating the event.

Born Worlds Apart

Martin Luther King Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) and Robert F. Kennedy (November 20, 1925 –June 6, 1968) were born worlds apart—culturally, geographically, racially, financially, and politically—but by the time they were killed within months of each another in 1968, their worlds had come together. As their concerns expanded beyond civil rights (King) and organized crime (Kennedy), their ties deepened to encompass shared interests in supporting the poor and opposing the war in Vietnam. This unprecedented exhibition explores the overlapping paths of their lives through images taken by some of the most renowned photojournalists of the era, including Bob Adelman, Danny Lyon, Henri Dauman, Jacques Lowe, Spider Martin, Steve Schapiro, Lawrence Schiller, and Paul Schutzer, alongside original correspondence, publications, and ephemera.

“The year 1968 rocked the nation in many ways, but it would be difficult to point to anything that shocked and sickened Americans more that year than the senseless and tragic deaths of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr.,” said Dr. Louise Mirrer, president and CEO of the New-York Historical Society. “Fifty years later, the legacies of Kennedy and King still reverberate. This timely exhibition underscores the two men’s lasting impact on our nation while drawing attention to the ways in which their lives intersected. ”

Author David Margolick, Dr. Louise Mirrer, president and CEO of the New-York Historical Society, and Lawrence Schiller, photojournalist and curator of “Rebel Spirits: Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr.” © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

Exhibition highlights include images of King and his son looking at the charred remains of a cross the Ku Klux Klan burned outside his Atlanta home in 1960, King’s mug shot after being indicted for the 1956 Montgomery Bus Boycott, and Kennedy being swarmed by an adoring crowd during his 1968 presidential campaign. Also on view are posters reading “Honor King: End Racism!” and “I Am a Man” that were carried in a Memphis march led by widow Coretta Scott King and her children on April 8, 1968, as well as a black and white “Kennedy/King” button worn by a New Yorker in memory of the two slain leaders.

An adjunct display showcases the bronze sculpture of Martin Luther King Jr.―one of five existing casts created by Harlem Renaissance artist Charles Alston (1907– 1997), on loan from the Community Church of New York.
Rebel Spirits is based in part on The Promise and the Dream, written by David Margolick and produced by Lawrence Schiller for National Geographic Publishers. The exhibition was curated by Lawrence Schiller, Cristian Panaite, and Marilyn Kushner. It was produced by Wiener Schiller Productions, Inc. in association with Susan Bloom International with support from Getty Images, The Jacques Lowe Estate, and Steve Schapiro.

Published by National Geographic and written by  David Margolick, The Promise and the Dream: The Interrupted Lives of Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. features an introduction by historian Douglas Brinkley. The book is available at the NYHistory Store.

Several public programs will provide further insights into the exhibition and its time period. On March 6, eminent legal experts survey the evolution of the U.S. Supreme Court’s interpretations of the 14th Amendment—in commemoration of its 150th anniversary—and civil rights throughout American history, highlighting landmark cases such as Brown v. Board of Education. On April 23, scholar Randall Kennedy discusses the Supreme Court and Martin Luther King Jr. On May 21, journalist Chris Matthews sits down to explore the rebel spirit of Robert Kennedy.

Vietnam War

The New-York Historical Society has a variety of fascinating exhibits, some short term and some ongoing.

The Vietnam War: 1945 – 1975, on view through April 22, 2018, is particularly timely in conjunction with the “Rebel Spirits.” © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

The Vietnam War: 1945 – 1975  on view through April 22, 2018 is particularly timely in conjunction with the “Rebel Spirits.” Featuring interpretive displays, digital media, artwork, artifacts, photographs, and documents, the exhibit provides an enlightening account of the causes, progression, and impact of the war. Spanning the duration of U.S. involvement in Indochina, the narrative incorporates perspectives covering both the home and the war fronts. Displays touch upon the Cold War, the draft, military campaigns initiated by both sides, the growth of the antiwar movement, the role of the president, and the loss of political consensus. The exhibition explores themes of patriotism, duty, and citizenship. Key objects include a troopship berthing unit, interactive murals, vibrant antiwar posters, artwork by Vietnam vets, a Viet Cong bicycle, the Pentagon Papers, and news and film clips.

Gallery of Tiffany Lamps

Step into the Gallery of Tiffany Lamps, a permanent exhibit which is the centerpiece of a newly designed fourth floor, and you are aglow in light and beauty. The exhibit features more than 100 illuminated Tiffany lamps from N-YHS’s  spectacular collection displayed within a dramatically lit jewel-like two-story space (the glass staircase is exquisite).

Step into the Gallery of Tiffany Lamps, a permanent exhibit which is the centerpiece of a newly designed fourth floor, and you are aglow in light and beauty. © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The presentation is breathtaking, and so insightful: it was only in the last decade that it was learned through a series of letters that some of Tiffany’s most famous and prized lamps, featuring nature imagery like wisteria, dragonflies, spider webs, were designed by Clara Driscoll, who headed the Women’s Glass Cutting Department of some 45-55 young  women (mainly 16-17 year olds who would work until they went off to be engaged).

It was only in the last decade that it was learned through a series of letters that some of Tiffany’s most famous and prized lamps were designed by Clara Driscoll who headed the Women’s Glass Cutting Department of some 50 young women © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.comThe collection comes from Dr. Egon Neustadt. an Austrian immigrant enamored with all things American, who purchased his first Tiffany lamp in 1935 for $12.50 (by then, Tiffany Lamps were no longer in favor, the company closed, Tiffany went bankrupt in 1932 and died in 1933) and went on to amass the largest and most comprehensive Tiffany lamp collection ever assembled. The docent explained that he bequeathed half his collection to the N-YHS and half to the Queens Museum. She points out what would have been the most valuable lamps: the wisteria would have sold for $450; the cobweb for $500, at a time when you could buy a brand new car for that amount. On the mezzanine level, you not only can look down onto the lighted lampshades, but can try your hand at designing your own.

Learn how Tiffany Lamps were made at the New-York Historical Society’s Gallery of Tiffany Lamps © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The redesigned fourth floor also offers exhibitions and interactive media that explore American history. Themed displays in the North Gallery present a variety of topics—such as slavery, war, infrastructure, childhood, recreation, and 9/11—offering unexpected and surprising perspectives on collection highlights. Touchscreens and interactive kiosks allow visitors to explore American history and engage with objects like never before. When I visit, a docent is discussing the Industrial Revolution with high school students.

Women’s Rights & Social Activism

 A new Center for Women’s History enables visitors to discover hidden connections among exceptional and unknown women who left their mark on New York and the nation with the multimedia digital installation, Women’s Voices, and through rotating exhibitions in the Joyce B. Cowin Women’s History Gallery. Objects from the Billie Jean King Archive are also on view. 

Celebrating the centennial of women’s right to vote in New York and on view in the Joyce B. Cowin Women’s History Gallery, Hotbed brings to life the neighborhood’s bohemian scene and energetic activist spirit © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

Hotbed, a special exhibit on view through March 25, 2018, is about Greenwich Village in the early 20th century, when it was a hotbed of political activism and social change—where men and women joined forces across the boundaries of class and race to fight for a better world. At the heart of the downtown radicals’ crusade lay women’s rights: to control their own bodies, to do meaningful work, and above all, to vote. Celebrating the centennial of women’s right to vote in New York and on view in the Joyce B. Cowin Women’s History Gallery, Hotbed features immersive installations and more than 100 artifacts and images—drawn from New-York Historical’s archives and several private collections—that bring to life the neighborhood’s bohemian scene and energetic activist spirit.

Collecting the Women’s Marches, on view through June 3, 2018, documents  January 21, 2017, when hundreds of thousands rallied at the Women’s March on Washington for diverse issues including women’s rights, racial equality, and the environment. Counting more than 500 sister marches across the United States, it was the largest single-day protest in the nation’s history. As part of its History Responds program, the New-York Historical Society collected a range of artifacts, including signs, sashes, pussyhats, and colorful props, to document the moment. One year later, Collecting the Women’s Marches highlights some of the political and visual themes that emerged, as well as the efforts of individuals and groups that worked behind the scenes. An adjunct display of protest clothing by Olek (Agata Oleksiak), an artist who works in crochet, and Brick x Brick, a public art performance group, is also on view. It is odd to have an exhibit of a major historic event so recent, and to actually have been there.

New York through the Lens of George Kalinsky on view through June 3, 2018 is an amazing photo exhibition of some of New York’s most iconic cultural moments over the past 50 years as captured by George Kalinsky. Serving as Madison Square Garden’s official photographer, Kalinsky has turned truly memorable moments―sporting events, legendary performances, and notable occasions―into lasting images that have defined the city. Among the quintessential photographs on view are Pope John Paul II hoisting a seven-year-old child onto the Popemobile in Madison Square Garden, Bill Bradley celebrating a New York Knicks victory, Sloane Stephens winning the 2017 US Open, and Jesse Orosco falling to his knees on the mound as the Mets won the 1986 World Series.

Collector’s Choice: Highlights from the Permanent Collection, ongoing: Since 1804, the New-York Historical Society has been welcoming to its collection some of the most esteemed artworks of the modern world. Collector’s Choice: Highlights from the Permanent Collection showcases a selection of paintings that reflect the individual tastes of several New York City collectors who donated their holdings to New-York Historical. Joining Picasso’s Le Tricorne ballet curtain are featured American and European masterpieces spanning the 14th through the 21st centuries from Luman Reed, Thomas Jefferson Bryan, and Robert L. Stuart, including colonial portraits of children, marine and maritime subjects, and an installation showcasing recently collected contemporary works.

Picasso’s Le Tricorne ballet curtain is part of the New-York Historical Society’s permanent collection © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Hours: Tuesday – Thursday: 10 am – 6 pm; Friday: 10 am – 8 pm; Saturday: 10 am – 6 pm; Sunday: 11 am – 5 pm  Admission: Adults: $21; Teachers and Seniors: $16; Students: $13; Children (5–13): $6;  Children (4 and under): Free. The museum has a pay-as-you-wish policy on Fridays from 6-8 pm.

Check the website for special events and lecture.

New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West (at 77th Street), New York, NY 10024, www.nyhistory.org, (212) 873-3400. 

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© 2018 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com,  www.huffingtonpost.com/author/karen-rubin , and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

 

Lunar New Year Festivities Get Underway in Chinatown NYC: Welcoming Year of the Dog

The Lunar New Year gets underway in New York City’s Chinatown with the traditional Firecracker Ceremony and Festival © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

The 2018 Lunar New Year festivities got underway in Chinatown, in Lower Manhattan, with the traditional Firecracker Ceremony and Festival to welcome the Year of the Dog. Thousands lined Sara d. Roosevelt Park on Friday, February 16, to be thrilled as some 600,000 explosions were set off to ward off bad spirits.

Along the warren of streets through Chinatown you could see groups of lion dancers  – performers who mimic a lion’s movements in a lion costume to bring good luck and fortune – entreating shopkeepers and celebrants for treats and tips.

The Lunar New Year gets underway in New York City’s Chinatown with the traditional Firecracker Ceremony and Festival © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

At the Lunar New Year, Chinatown becomes a fantastic street party with vendors, food and festivities, and heritage and ancient traditions on view: decorations like lanterns feature the color red which is a symbol of good luck in Chinese culture; many wear traditional Chinese costumes with colorful silks to represent joy and good fortune. Many visit Chinese temples to pray for good luck and burn incense sticks.

Lion Dancers from the New York United Dragon Dance Troupe © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The celebrations conclude with a fabulous Lunar New Year Parade through Chinatown on Sunday, February 25, beginning at noon, a colorful pan-Asian procession that incorporates Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Taiwanese, Malaysian, and even Hispanic floats and cultural performances. Arrive early to snag a good spot. Some half-million people line the route.

Lunar New Year’s festivities in New York City’s Chinatown delight children © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Through the 10 days of celebration, people honor household and heavenly deities, as well as their ancestors, and devote the holiday as a time for family to come together. Children expect get treats.

“Lunar New Year is the liveliest and most important celebration in Chinese culture and Chinatown is the place to experience it!

New York City’s Chinatown, two square miles in lower east side of Manhattan, is the largest Chinatown in the United States and the site of the largest concentration of Chinese in the western hemisphere. Manhattan’s Chinatown is also one of the oldest ethnic Chinese communities outside of Asia.

More highlights:

Lunar New Year’s festivities in New York City’s Chinatown © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

Lunar New Year Celebration, Chinatown, NYC © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com
Lunar New Year Celebration, Chinatown, NYC  © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com
Lunar New Year Celebration, Chinatown, NYC  © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com
Lunar New Year’s festivities in New York City’s Chinatown © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

The Museum of China in the Americas (MOCA) offers a walking tour that takes visitors through Chinatown to learn about holiday traditions and customs observed by Chinese households. Witness how the neighborhood transforms itself in preparation for the New Year and discover the characteristics that make this holiday unique.”

Tours are conducted in English and are led by MoCA docents with personal or family roots in the neighborhood. In case of inclement weather, tours will be held in the galleries. Advance reservations are required. For information and reservations call 212-619-4785 or purchase tickets online, www.mocanyc.org. (Museum of Chinese in America, 215 Centre Street New York, NY 10013, 855-955-MOCA).

For more information, visit www.chinatown-online.com.

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© 2018 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com,  www.huffingtonpost.com/author/karen-rubin , and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures