Month: December, 2006

I like the island Manhattan

Sunday, December 10th, 2006 | All Things, Eats, Film

Radio City Music Hall

The Rockefeller Center Tree (and two special guests) — NYC holiday tradition since 1931:

Rockefeller Center Tree

Across the street, velvet-roped crowds admired the Saks holiday windows. This year’s six-frame display tells the story of five misfit ice crystals (Allie, Tay-Tay, Chip, Winnie and Timmy) as they journey and dream of becoming part of the perfect snowflake. The Art Deco-inspired windows glitter with thousands of Swarovski crystals against shades of white, silver and pastels. The final tableau shows the five new friends merging into one snowflake, over animated, sparkling replicas of the Rockefeller Center, Empire State and Chrysler buildings — the whole greater than the sum of its parts.

Saks Christmas Window

Saks Christmas Window

Saks Christmas Window

Saks Christmas Window

Walter Mirisch produced six decades of Hollywood films which combined have earned eighty-four Academy Award nominations and twenty-eight Oscars. For the month of December, the MoMA is screening a selection of Mirisch’s productions, including Some Like It Hot (1959), The Magnificent Seven (1960), The Great Escape (1963), and the Best Picture Oscar winners The Apartment (1960), In the Heat of the Night (1967) and this afternoon’s feature West Side Story (1961).

West Side Story is one of my favorite musicals. My parents have the 1957 Original Broadway Cast recording — with the original, uncensored Stephen Sondheim stage lyrics — on vinyl. As a girl, I listened to that record over and over, eventually committing all the songs to memory.

I had picked up three tickets to the MoMA screening, so after Mom and Dad dropped out that morning, SYB stepped in for the matinee.

Director Robert Wise opens the movie with that famous establishing overhead shot of Manhattan, a helicopter effect he would repeat over the Alps for the opening of The Sound of Music (“The Hills are alive….”) The elaborate opening dance numbers, with their snort-inducing depiction of street gang tensions (“Sharks!” “Jets!”) were filmed on location among the dilapidated tenements that once stood over the current site of Lincoln Center. The demolition of those buildings was delayed to accommodate the filming of the musical, which went on to win an almost-record 10 Academy Awards. (The Broadway show lost all the major Tony awards to the lighter and far more traditional The Music Man.)

The familiar Romeo and Juliet story, the athletic Jerome Robbins choreography, the eminently singable score by Leonard Bernstein — it all came flooding back. Most know that Natalie Wood’s singing was actually dubbed by Marni Nixon, who also recorded the songs for Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady (1964) and years earlier, for Deborah Kerr in The King and I (1956). As a singer, Nixon was famous in Hollywood for being invisible, earning herself the nickname “Ghostess with the Mostess.” She did not begin to be fully credited or widely acknowledged until the movies’ subsequent release for home viewing audiences decades later.

In addition to dubbing Wood’s singing, Nixon stepped in to dub Rita Moreno’s high-register part in the “Tonight”  quintet, effectively dueting with herself in the two female roles. That dubbing assignment prompted Nixon to request payment of film royalties. When the movie and record producers refused, Bernstein generously ceded one quarter of one per cent of his own royalties to her.

Fun trivia fact (for SC): Nixon’s son, Andrew Gold, wrote “Thank You for Being a Friend,”  perhaps best known as the theme song to The Golden Girls.

Radio City Music Hall

There's 1 comment so far

City sidewalks, busy sidewalks

Sunday, December 10th, 2006 | All Things

Two weeks before Christmas. The photos speak for themselves, I think.

Holiday Gridlock

Holiday Gridlock

Should I give up trying to be original? Or should I just try to be more timely with my posts?

This year the NYPD began employing these bright-orange mesh banners for better crowd control at the busy Midtown intersections, similar to those used for rounding up demonstrators during the Republican National Convention in 2004.

Holiday Gridlock

Holiday Gridlock

There are 2 comments

Saturday in the boroughs

Saturday, December 9th, 2006 | All Things, Friends

On the 7 out to Queens, and an alternate view of Midtown and the 5 Pointz “Institute of Higher Burnin” in Long Island City.

LIC View

I headed back home in the late afternoon — ah, so this is what it feels like! — to throw together Bobby Flay’s Smoky Red Pepper and White Bean Dip before dashing off to meet SYB for the ride to MC’s holiday party. We hopped off the L at Bedford and emerged at the epicenter of hipster Williamsburg.

Despite getting to MC’s about 45 minutes after the appointed party start time, we were among the first guests to arrive. Her loft was welcoming and warm with the scent of mulled wine, a.k.a German Glühwein, French vin chaud, Scandinavian Glögg… whatever you call it, the brew is one of my favorite wintertime drinks.

Mulled wine takes about as much effort to make well as to make poorly. At its worst, the taste can be reminiscent of Robitussin: sickeningly sweet, over-spiced — those supermarket spice bags are best left for potpourri — with a harsh sting of alcohol. At its finest, the wine is warm (not boiling), modestly sweet, lightly spiced and faintly fruity. A splash of brandy, port, or cassis liqueur finishes things off nicely. No need to break out the most expensive bottles either; as with sangria, the cheap stuff will do just fine.

The guests began rolling in, adding their contributions to the groaning buffet table. ‘Tis the season to reunite with old friends and to re-introduce myself to not-so-new friends (whoops). Also to make some new acquaintances, while bonding over mutual love of 5-star samosas and Chelsea galleries.

Bedford and 7th

There are 2 comments