Summer Daze

21/07/2014 § 1 Comment

Quite Continental || Summer Daze

“Summer afternoon, summer afternoon; to me those have always
been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”
-Henry James

Things that have recently amused me on summer afternoons:

Brunch at Buvette, Navy or Hundred Acres

Discussing the proper time to “Turn Down”

Blogs: Girls I Know and Sioux Wild Horses

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Summer in New York: Royal Shakespeare Company at the Park Avenue Armory

20/07/2011 § Leave a comment

Taking in the view, opening night.

While summer in New York most definitely means it is time for Shakespeare in the Park, this summer, as part of the Lincoln Center Festival, New York has the honor of an extended visit by the Royal Shakespeare Company, direct from Stratford-upon-Avon.  Nearing its 50th birthday, with the Prince of Wales as President and Her Majesty the Queen as Patron, based in the city of Shakespeare’s birth and burial, you know the RSC means business when it comes to the Bard.

Not content to merely take up residence at any old theatre, the RSC has built a smaller replica of the unique thrust stage from their Stratford theatre inside one of my favorite buildings, the Park Avenue Armory — one of the largest unobstructed spaces in New York.  Requiring 230 tons of equipment and nearly 100 people working around the clock to construct it, the RSC performs in a truly amazing space with seating on three levels, surrounding three sides of the stage.

“It’s like a huge jigsaw puzzle…things that fit together…”

The entrances to the theatre.

I was fortunate to catch Romeo and Juliet on opening night, which has opened to mixed reviews.  I would generally agree with the Times, note that the production value is very high and that Jonjo O’Neill as Mercutio steals the show with his dirty pantomime.  Joseph Arkley as Tybalt wasn’t too shabby either.  Wait, who am I kidding?  I always love Tybalt best of all…

  Peace? Peace? I hate the word, as I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee.

If the star crossed lovers aren’t your bag, you can also catch performances of King Lear, As You Like It, Julius Caesar and The Winter’s Tale.  The shows run through August 14, and are selling quite briskly.  Check the schedule and buy tickets here.

Arrive a bit early to give yourself some time to wander the rooms of the Armory.  Aside from the remarkable size of the drill hall, the Armory, completed in 1881, is home to what has been called “the single most important collection of 19th- century interiors to survive intact in one building.”  Some rooms are a bit shabby around the edges, but it all adds to the character of the stately building.  Each room contains impressive military portraits, plaques and ornamental features that definitely demand a visit on their own.  If you like looking at dudes with interesting mustaches, mutton chops and swords, you may feel as though you’ve died and gone to heaven.

Portrait in the Board of Officers Room

“Board of Officers Room: This is one of the few surviving Herter Brothers interiors in the country, but one of five in the Armory. Herter Brothers was a top cabinet-making and interior design firm in the Gilded Age and designed the Fifth Avenue mansion of William H. Vanderbilt (now demolished). This room still retains the original painted ceiling and magnificent mahogany woodwork although the walls were over- painted in a 1932 restoration. Water infiltration in the early 1990s has caused significant damage but the plaster has recently been stabilized.

Marquis de Lafayette

Edward, Duke of Windsor

George VI

Ceiling of the Veterans Room

“Veterans Room: This and the Library next door are the only fully extant interiors by Louis C. Tiffany, Associated Artists in the world. They were designed in 1880 by Associated Artists, a cooperative firm of artists led by Tiffany working with Samuel Colman, Lockwood de Forest and Candace Wheeler with consulting architect Stanford White and artists George Yewell and Francis D. Millet. The Veterans Room has been described as “Greek, Moresque, and Celtic with a dash of the Egyptian, the Persian and the Japanese.”

Veterans Room.  Image via the Park Avenue Armory.

Royal Shakespeare Company at the Park Avenue Armory
643 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10065
(212) 616-3930

Summer in New York: Happy Bastille Day

14/07/2011 § 1 Comment

Military planes in formation, 1954 parade

Bastille Day has arrived.  This national holiday in France commemorates the storming of the Bastille, considered to be the beginning of the French Revolution.  Today, France puts on the world’s oldest and largest military parade (ongoing since 1880, almost without exception), down Avenue des Champs-Élysées.

François de La Rocque, leading the parade in 1935.

While many New York celebrations took place over the last weekend, there are still a few places where you can raise a glass in honor of “liberté, égalité, fraternité” today.  Eater has done an excellent round-up, available here.  My favorites are the free bottle of Veuve to Marie Antoinette impersonators at Artisanal and the pétanque tournament at Cercle Rouge with big band performances.

How will you celebrate Bastille Day?

Actress Elke Sommer playing pétanque.

Summer in New York: Movies in the Park

21/06/2011 § 2 Comments

Last night in Bryant Park.

One of my absolute favorite things to do in the summer in New York is going to movies in the park.  Grab a blanket, a couple of friends and a few bottles (of wine, whiskey, or what-have-you), and you’re all set for a classic New York experience.  Last night I attended the opening night of the 2011 HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival and took in a screening of the classic 1975 film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.  As you can see from the picture above, the lawn was quite crowded.  We owed our prime screening spot to Sarah, who braved the scrum when the lawn opened at 5pm.  And when I say scrum, I mean scrum.  Take a look at this video from opening night in 2009:

The secret is to run quickly and carry a large blanket.

Highlights of the evening included: hyper-vigilant blanket boundary defense, a man roving through the crowd offering to trade broccoli for booze, and the spontaneous dance party that started when the 1983 HBO “feature presentation song” was played before the film started.  I have to admit, I got excited a bit at the song, too…it’s a cultural touchstone!

If you’d like to attend a few films al fresco this summer, I highly recommend Bryant Park and Brooklyn Bridge Park for two completely different experiences.  Bryant Park is an oasis snuggled in between skyscrapers while Brooklyn Bridge Park’s view of Lower Manhattan is second to none.  (Added bonus: because I live just over in the Financial District, it’s definitely a treat to walk home over the Brooklyn Bridge after the movie.)

Brooklyn Bridge Park, from last summer.  We saw Rear Window!
More photos from this excellent evening can be seen here.

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