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Don’t Look Like Shia LaBeouf

This past weekend at first seemed just like any weekend for Mario Licato, having met some friends for lunch only to go visit a buddy in Cobble Hill that afternoon.  Yet later that night, when he was walking up the stairs from the Delancey Street station on the Lower East Side, he was punched by somebody and fell down the stairs.  After the random attack, the assailant shouted to Licato “this is because you look exactly like Shia LaBeouf!”.  Licato then lost his consciousness before a couple rushed to his aid.

The couple described Licato’s attacker as in his mid-20s, over 6 feet tall and muscular, a typical “frat boy” type.  After punching Licato, he kept walking downstairs and then boarded a train.  As far as Licato knows, he doesn’t know the guy.  Yet more than anything else, Licato doesn’t look exactly like Shia LaBeouf!  The couple called 911 and helped Licato up the stairs to the sidewalk to wait for an ambulance.  When the ambulance first arrived, however, their reaction was less than friendly; the EMT looked at Licato with his broken glasses and blood gushing from his face and simply said, “welcome to New York, buddy”.  They told Licato, a native New Yorker, that he just needed a butterfly bandage for his eyebrow and left, not waiting for the police to arrive as EMTs are required to do.

Licato works as an art director in advertising; although his bruises are constantly changing color and he’s developed numbness in his left nostril, he couldn’t get out of working a shoot on Monday.  The police said they would look into the EMTs’ shirking of duty, but it wasn’t mentioned in the police report.  While the assailant’s physical description was lacking, the police are confident that they’ll be able to pull surveillance videos from the subway station and find out who it was.

While I personally don’t see the resemblance between Licato and Shia LaBeouf, this is apparently not the first time that people have commented on their similar appearance.  According to Licato, that was why he knew that he wasn’t crazy when he heard somebody say “this is because you look exactly like Shia LaBeouf” after punching him in the face.

Experiencing NYC Like a Local

For many tourists, it’s easy to think of a New York where everything is like Times Square.  Yet real New Yorkers know that isn’t true at all!  There are plenty of ways for people visiting to appreciate New York like a true New Yorker.  If you want to choose some good neighborhoods, I would suggest Chinatown, the East Village, the Upper West Side, the Upper East Side and Park Slope.  Here are some of the things you’ll need to check out:

Chinatown

Take in and embrace the chaos and sensory overload that is Manhattan’s Chinatown.  It might be easy to get lost among the winding streets, but there’s plenty to do, and it thankfully isn’t too big.  You’ll absolutely have to visit Joe’s Shanghai on Pell Street to get soup dumplings and a side of peanut noodles, and if you can find it, grab a drink at Apotheke, a speakeasy on Doyers Street that used to be an opium den.

East Village NYC

In many ways, St. Mark’s Place, the street that makes up the heart of the East Village, is New York’s “alternative” Times Square.  It offers plenty of exciting things to do for a fraction of the price, none of the massive crowds and no annoying people dressed in costumes trying to take your money.  Old-school residents might lament the loss of the neighborhood’s “edge”, but there’s still plenty of fun to be had.  Visit Barcade, a bar featuring 80s arcade games, grab a snack at Papaya King, then drop into one of the great bars on St. Marks and neighboring streets.  Some recommendations include Jimmy’s No 43, McSorley’s and Veselka.  If you’re in the neighborhood on the weekend in the early afternoon, I would also suggest visiting Streecha Ukrainian Kitchen, home to some of the most authentic Ukrainian food in the city.

Upper West Side

This doesn’t have the restaurant/bar scene in Brooklyn or downtown, but you’ll have easy access to both Central park and Riverside Park.  The weather is perfect in May, so spend plenty of time outdoors.  You’ll have access to Zabar’s and Citarella, which offer great prepared foods for a quick meal.  Some other must-sees include the Soldier & Sailor’s Monument, the Museum of Natural History and the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts.

Upper East Side

Here you’ll find a better selection of restaurants and bars.  Transportation isn’t as good out here.  Some places of interest include Jones Wood Foundry, Caledonia Scottish Pub, Heidelberg, Schaller & Weber, the Met, the Guggenheim, the Carl Shurz Park and the Promenade.

Park SlopeProbably the biggest draw here is the “park” after which this neighborhood is named.  It’s also a good launching point to explore the rest of Brooklyn.  Indie coffee shops like Gorilla and Grumpy, the Prospect Park Zoo and the various restaurants on fifth avenue (Pork Slope is one standout) give this place plenty of variety.

No-Kill Meat?

No Kill MeatMeat might be tasty, but it’s definitely got its faults.  For one, slaughtering innocent animals to consume their flesh has its moral implications.  But apart from that, it isn’t doing the planet any favors.  According to the UN, the methane gas created by the global cattle population alone puts more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than automobiles.  Yet there could be a middle ground to appease those who love meat while also lessening its negative side-effects.  Memphis Meats has been trying to cook up gastro-enviro-salvation in a petri dish with kill-free meat.

As opposed to raising an animal on a farm and slaughtering it, animal protein cells are administers oxygen and nutrients like sugars and minerals before growing into steak-sized samples.  This entire process takes between nine and 21 days, with the company’s CEO Uma Valeti assuring the world that this is not only cruelty-free, but also sustainable.  Valeti boasts of what she calls “the meatball that changed the world”.  Memphis Meats has claimed that their process creates 90% less greenhouse gas than traditional agriculture.  It has yet to be seen how warmly consumers will receive “pan-grown meatballs”, but it’s also comforting to know that meat will be served.

The question does arise: if everybody were to go vegetarian, what would happen to the millions upon millions of animals currently being farmed for their meat?  Would they be simply let go?  That would create a massive population of feral animals, often at the expense of local wildlife, which would wreak havoc on the environment.  Would they simply all be killed?  En masse slaughter of livestock seems to defeat the purpose of not eating meat any more.  The most humane option would be to sterilize livestock being raised for meat so they wouldn’t continue to breed, yet that would be extremely costly to carry out, and taking care of those sterilized animals until they died would be even more expensive.  While there’s no doubt no easy answer, it will be interesting to see what role this new development will play.

UberEats Is Changing the Game

UberEats changing the gameUberEats has been around for a while now, a random food delivery service available within the app Uber.  It’s more or less the digital equivalent of a Reverse Speakeasy, or a secret restaurant inside a bar.  Yet UberEats’ new standalone app, which has just become available in NYC, was recently hailed by Gothamist as a game-changer.  UberEats originally just offered two or three items a day, which it would then deliver to your door at record speed.  Yet now you can scroll through over 100 restaurants on the app, such as Black Seed Bagel, Mighty Quinn’s, Westville, Burger Joint, Bar Primi, Ivan Ramen and Empellon Al Pastor.  Each of these dishes has a crystal-clear image, with wait times ranging from an hour to just a few minutes.

Gothamist placed a test order at 11am two days ago, and in 40 minutes there was a perfect Chana Masala bowl from Bombay Sandwich Co. delivered to Times Square.  Once you order a meal from UberEats, you can track the entire process: when the restaurant accepts it, when it’s finished being prepared, when the courier is on their way, how close they are to you and when the food actually arrived.  It feels almost like Seamless, but you’re so involved it feels like you got it from the restaurant itself.

What makes this even better is that so far there isn’t a delivery fee.  Michael Conti, the general manager of UberEats, has said that when a fee will be implemented hasn’t yet been determined, since the company wants to offer free delivery for enough time to give people the chance to try the app many times.  The UberEats app isn’t just a New York thing, however; it’s already available in other cities, including Los Angeles and Chicago, where the delivery fee is just $3.  Therefore, it’s prudent to take advantage of the no-fee window to try the service out for yourself.  Delivery is currently available anywhere in Manhattan below 100th Street.

Tips For Navigating NYC

NYCWhen you’ve lived in New York long enough, you tend to forget that it can be a pretty difficult place to navigate.  Even if it’s set on a pretty straightforward grid, it isn’t always easy to get where you’re going.  Here are ten useful tips for finding your way around the city, based off an article I found on Timeout New York:

Odd-numbered streets go west, even-numbered streets go east: In addition, odd-numbered buildings are on the north side of the street, while even-numbered addresses are on the street.  On a north-south street, odd buildings are on the west side, even ones are on the east.

The color of a station’s subway tiles can tell you a lot: There’s an entire secret code hidden in New York’s subway stations.

The address of a building can tell you what avenues it’s between: For addresses on the west side, just add the first number of the address (zero if the address is only two digits) to 5 for the lower cross street.  For example, 225 W 37th street (2+5=7) is between seventh and eighth avenue.  For the east side, subtract 5 from the same number for the highest cross street, so 150 E 18th street (1-5=-4) is between Fourth and Third Avenues.

Fifth Avenue splits NYC’s streets between east and west: The reason that the above trick works is because Fifth Avenue serves as the splitting point between the city’s two sides.

Black dots on the subway stop represent local ones, white ones signify express: In case you were curious why more trains stop at white stops.

Use lampposts in Central Park: It can be easy to get lost in Central Park, but most lampposts have a set of numbers embossed on their base, which corresponds to the cross-streets you would be on if the street extended through the park.

The uptown train platform is on the east side of the street, downtown is on the west (for the most part): So you don’t have to waste another swipe.

The major avenues in Manhattan alternate directions: From First to 11th Avenue, the traffic on every other avenue flows in alternate directions.  The exceptions are Third Avenue, which is mixed until 24th street and then travels north, and Fourth Avenue, which runs north before turning into two-way Park Avenue South.

Remembering the order of uptown avenues:  “You can take a CAB back home if it’s Late PM”, an easy way to remember that the uptown avenues are Columbus, Amsterdam, Broadway, Lexington, Park and Madison, going from left-to-right.

Smartphone maps: In case you forget any of this, use the map on your smartphone.

 

Bushwick’s Best Shops

Bigger Bushwick graffiti photoAs Williamsburg rapidly loses its “edge” in the face of rapid and seemingly unstoppable gentrification, the hipsters are forced to move further into the interior of Brooklyn in their desperate escape from the mainstream.  While Bushwick is the next step in this battle for gentrification, it remains one of the trendiest areas in New York City, and is filled with amazing street art, great bars and plenty of cool indie shops that are any hipster’s dream come true.  I recently came across an article that lists the best stores in Bushwick, listed below:

Better than Jam: When you thought Bushwick couldn’t get any hipper, this market opens up, stocked entirely with locally handmade clothing and accessories, such as SML Bags, jewelry from Hand of Fantima Designs and hip-hop-inspired garb from Joann Berman.

Fox & Fawn: Unlike expertly-curated joints that sell overpriced retro designer clothes, this buy-and-sell vintage boutique has plenty of affordable goods, such as band t-shirts, leather jackets, dresses, shoes and handbags, seldom costing more than $20.

Friends Vintage: After the success of their online Etsy shop, Brooklyn designer Mary Meyer and her best friend Emma Joe opened this solid location in Bushwick.  Here you can find affordable men’s and women’s vintage and used new clothing.  You can find such items here as retro clothes from the 60s up to the early 2000s.

Heaven Street: Every music nerd’s paradise offers vinyl and tapes that specialize in punk, metal, industrial and other moody genres.  If you’re interested in learning more about grindcore, power electronics or drone, this is where you start.

Molasses Books: Here, you can explore the relationship between alcohol and books.  Located in the middle of a residential block, this is a fairly new spot (not even two years old) that serves as both a used book shop and a great neighborhood cafe.  You can sip coffee here during the morning, and as the day wears on switch to Budweiser and Bass, all cheap.

Shwick Market: Opened around the same time as Molasses, this place might be small, but it boasts between 10 and 30 local vendors every week that sell an array of items ranging from home-grown produce to handmade jewels.

Vinyl Fantasy: Tracking down a funny book in Brooklyn is no easy task, unless you want to hop onto the Manhattan-bound L and visit the Strand.  Yet this is where Vinyl Fantasy comes in, where you can buy records and books in the same place.

7 Great Jewish Delis Off the Beaten Path

New York City is the undeniable cultural center of the Jewish Deli.  It was here that such institutions of New York and American food first became popular, including pastrami, matzoh ball soup and bagels.  Places like Carnegie Deli and Katz’s have become essential to any New York experience.  While these places serve exceptional food and have earned their fame, Carnegie and Katz’s have also become a bit of a tourist trap, and there are plenty of other phenomenal Jewish delis across the city.  Here are a list of some other names that you absolutely have to try:

Barney Greengrass

Barney Greengrass: Dubbed the “Sturgeon King”, the focus at this 100+ year-old Upper West Side spot is on the fish: gefilte, whitefish, lox, sable and sturgeon, to name a few.  While their pastrami and cold borscht are both well-known and respected, you come here for the bagel and lox, consistently voted among the top places in New York City.  While it isn’t as much of a household name as Katz’s or Carnegie Deli, it’s nonetheless wildly popular, so if you’re going to get a bagel here you better get there early.

Mile End deli smoked meat

Mile End Deli: Montreal native Noah Bernamoff opened Mile End with his wife Rae Cohen after experimenting with Jewish deli food at home.  Unlike the other names on this list, the focus here is on Montreal-style Jewish deli food, which while mostly the same does have some differences.  Instead of pastrami, Mile End serves “smoked meat”, a variety of pastrami developed by Jewish immigrants to Montreal during the early 20th century.  That might jade some New York deli purists, but the amazing tastes and flavors here more than make up for it.  For a full experience, bring a friend and try the Mile End platter for two, but be sure to order a side of heart-cloggingly delicious smoked meat poutine.

Ben's Best Deli

Ben’s Best: Although its Rego Park location is fairly far out of the way, the food here is well worth the schlep.  The pastrami and matzoh ball soup here are well-known, and for good reason.  The pastrami is some of the best and juiciest you can get outside of Manhattan, and the soup is rich and made with plenty of love.  Yet one of the unsung heroes here is the fried kreplach.  Filled with tender and flavorful beef filling, the kreplach are fried, served on top of crispy onions and served with a side of duck sauce.  And best of all, everything here is 100% kosher!

Ari Kellen sandwich

David’s Brisket House: Originally founded by Russian and Yemenite Jewish immigrants, during the 1980s David’s came under the ownership of a Yemenite Muslim employee, making David’s New York’s “Jewish deli run by Muslims”.  Regardless of who runs it, the meat here is incredible: the brisket is tender and flavorful (an unfortunate rarity among Jewish delis) and the pastrami is juicy and succulent, easily some of the best in Brooklyn.  The breakfast sandwiches here are legendary, attracting a steady line of patrons every morning.  If there’s one fault here, it’s that the menu’s focus is solely on pastrami, brisket and corned beef, but they do it so well that you don’t even care.

Pastrami Queen

Pastrami Queen: Located in a small storefront less than a block away from the 77th street station on the 6 line, Pastrami Queen is easy to miss if you aren’t looking for it.  Yet once you enter, it’s clear that you’ve stumbled upon a gem.  The pastrami here is one of the main draws, as well as their “world famous soups”.  The knishes are another classic, including the hearty, gut-busting meat knish, a meal in of itself.

Second Avenue Deli

Second Avenue Deli: Second Avenue Deli has had its hardship in the past 20 years, most notably the murder of its founder Abe Lebewohl in 1996.  Although its original location closed in 2006, it reopened in Murray Hill, to the delight of all, and there’s now a second location on the Upper East Side.  The specialties here are varied: matzoh ball soup, corned beef, pastrami, knishes and gefilte fish, among others.  The walls are decorated with photos of famous celebrities and actors in Yiddish theater, reminding patrons of this institution’s link with this ancient art form and giving you the feeling that you’re stepping into a piece of history.

Shelsky's of Brooklyn

Shelsky’s of Brooklyn: Like Mile End, this is a newer location, founded by restaurateur Peter Shelsky as a homage to the Lower East Side Jewish delis of New York’s past.  Much like the old Jewish delis to which it pays respect, Shelsky’s doubles as a sort of bodega, serving dried fruit, candies and a variety of specialty groceries in addition to the main attractions.  While the pastrami and corned beef here is excellent, much like Barney Greengrass, the main attraction here is the cured seafood.  They make a variety of delicious fish sandwiches, most notably the “Shelsky’s”, made up of lox, sable and pickled herring.  The classic bagel and lox shouldn’t be missed as well, giving many of the old contenders a run for their money.

What To Look Out For At NYFW

New York Fashion Week (NYFW) is taking over Downtown Manhattan from February 11-18 and there are a bunch of new, cool, and inclusive things to do that perhaps you don’t know about. Here’s a list of celebrity collaborations, new events and new hot spots you can check out.

Kanye West:

Of course, NYFW is not NYFW if it doesn’t include Mr. Kanye West. This year, his much anticipated runway show will take place on February 11 at Madison Square Garden. In addition to revealing his latest designs he will also be revealing his new music from his upcoming album, The Life of Pablo.

Rihanna:fashion week

Style-icon Rihanna will be hit the runway on February 12th to showcase her most recent collaboration with Puma. Just as with Kanye West, expect Rihanna’s fashion show to be packed with A-list celebrities.

New Events:

Fashion houses have finally heard the people and this year some brands will be in fact showcasing in-season collections. In other words, they will reveal looks that are currently available in the market, as opposed to just showcasing designs from the Fall 2016 collections. Some brands that are partaking in this new trend include: Burberry, Vetements, Tom Ford, Rebecca Minkoff, LaQuan Smith and Banana Republic.

New Hot Spots:

The coolest hot spot is actually your own home. Runway shows, like Alexander Wang’s and Dian von Furstenberg’s, will be live streamed. If you want to take a look at the schedule of the shows or the actual shows, click here.

If you don’t feel like staying at home, you can watch the live-streamed shows from the NYFW official headquarters. These will be adjacent to Milk Studios. The actual fashion shows will take place at Skylight Clarkson Square, Skylight at Moynihan Station, and MADE Milk Studios.

Really Cool Stuff Happening:

This year at NYFW, New York-based clothing company SmartGlamour will be hosting a body-positive runway show featuring sizes XXS to 6X. The fashion show will reveal the company’s spring collection. And as if this show could not get any better – it’s free.

Another really cool event happening is all thanks to FTL Moda. This designer platform believes that fashion should be inclusive, thus their fashion show will feature models like Madeline Stuart, who was born with Down syndrome, and Shaholly Ayers, who will walk without her prosthetic arm.

Overall, NYFW 2016 seems like a great series of events to attend to. So take your pick, mark your calendars and indulge in some fashion!

Romantic Winter New York Activities

As the cliche goes, there’s always something to do in New York.  As the backdrop for no shortage of romantic films, it’s joined the ranks of Paris and Rome for a romantic weekend getaway.  With Valentine’s Day coming up, here are some great ways to play up that romantic side of New York this winter, based off of an article that I found online:

Empire State Rooftop: The observation deck on the 86th floor of the Empire State Building has been immortalized as one of the most romantic sWinter in Central Parkpots in New York.  Each Valentine’s Day, 14 couples are selected to get married there.  Not surprisingly, it’s a spot with plenty of people, so plan enough time to really take in the sights.  To save time waiting in line, you can buy your tickets online, and an express pass will let you bypass the elevator line as well.

Ice skating: While Rockefeller Center has the most well-known ice skating rink, it’s always packed with young couples.  If you don’t want to stay in line for too long, you can try for Bryant Park’s Winter Village or Central Park’s Wollman Rink.

Central Park: Central Park is one of those places that’s beautiful all year round, and winter, when the snow has just fallen, is no exception.  Bridges, fountains and scenic paths make for a beautiful winter wonderland to bring your sweetheart.  If it gets too cold, you can warm up at Tavern on the Green or the Loeb Boathouse lakeside restaurant.

Dinner and a show: A classic mainstay of New York: dinner at a nice restaurant, followed by a hit Broadway show.  A lot of restaurants in the theater district have dinner/theater deals.  In regards to the show, you can reserve tickets online at Broadway.com or visit the TKTS booth in the heart of Times Square.

Visit a museum: The museum circuit in New York has got something for just about everybody: the Met for classic art, the New York Historical Society for history, The Museum of the Moving Image for film buffs, the Museum of Natural History for dinosaur fans, and the Moma for modern art nuts, just to name a few.

Drink: Not all bars in New York are equally romantic, but there’s something for everybody, and the more romantic bars are hard to beat.  One of the best is in the restaurant One If By Land, Two If By Sea, located in the heart of Greenwich Village in an old carriage house.