Month: February, 2007

The Linden Place

Monday, February 19th, 2007 | All Things, Eats, Family

There is no shortage of excellent dimsum places in Flushing’s Chinatown, but with J and J in town for the Chinese New Year weekend, Mom and Dad wanted to try someplace special. Or at least someplace different. That place was The Linden Place.

The restaurant space once housed a 25,000 square foot warehouse, nestled along a dreary stretch of road lined with parking lots and auto glass repair shops, a couple blocks east of the Van Wyck Expressway. Today, The Linden Place is one of the largest catering halls in the area. As we pulled up to the parking lot, we could not miss the fancy attempt at an entrance, featuring a banner frieze emblazoned with the restaurant name in Gothic font, and a set of similarly imprinted stairs leading up to the heavy double doors. Not my taste, but knowing that such weirdly gaudy touches will sometimes pass as shorthand for “upscale” in Chinese restaurants, I was willing to keep an open mind. But nothing could have prepared us for what lay within.

All I could say was: Yikes.

Linden Place

Linden Place

Linden Place

Linden Place Ceiling Mural

Inside was a gold-red explosion of faux tapestries, gilt-framed “paintings,” granite pillars, pasted-on ceiling “murals,” hollow resin-cast statues and urns… and the pièce de résistance, a disco-balled dance floor, over which perched a huge projection screen and Juliet terraces strung with multi-colored Christmas lights.

I’ll say it again: Yikes.

Dad explained that the aesthetic was probably a misguided attempt to recall the glamorous, colonial-era Shanghai, with its meshing of European-style décors.  In the years following the end of the Opium War, enclaves — concessions — of the city housed concentrations of British, French and Americans (also Japanese, Germans, and to a smaller extent: Italians, Belgians, Russians and Austro-Hungarians) who built up the area in the styles of their homeland. With the treaty-mandated opening of the city to European trade, Shanghai’s foreign population grew from 10,000 in 1910 to 60,000 by 1940. It was during this period that the great buildings that still line the Bund were erected. Once the most famous street in Asia, the Bund is comprised of 52 buildings of varying architectural style, including Art Deco, Gothic, Baroque, Romanesque, Neo-classical, Renaissance – though I would venture, never all at the same time, as on display here.

The over-the-top décor, though, was incidental to our lunch, and if nothing else, it served as a topic for animated table conversation. Together, we toasted in the Year of the Pig with dimsum (which was fine, but pricy) and J’s favorite nian gao — Chinese New Year sticky cakes.

New Years Pigs

There's 1 comment so far

We love Liev

Sunday, February 18th, 2007 | All Things, Arts

February 18 post:

Thanks to EB’s connections, we scored tickets to actor-playwright Eric Bogosian’s Talk Radio at The Longacre, which opens officially on Broadway March 11. (And thanks to DB, I now know a little more about Actors’ Equity rules and what it means to be in previews.)

The play stars Tony winner Liev Schreiber as controversial late night radio host, Barry Champlain. Talk Radio debuted at The Public Theater in 1987, with the playwright in the starring role. In 1988, it was made into a critically well-received film, directed by Oliver Stone. Bogosian loosely based his play on the 1984 murder of radio host Alan Berg.

Schreiber is the foremost American Shakespearean actor of his generation, as evidenced by his decade-long partnership with the Public, for which he took on the roles of Macbeth, Hamlet, Iago and Henry V among others. On stage, he is a large, imposing presence — fiery, dynamic and completely riveting. The play belongs to Schreiber; he is on stage for almost the entire time, enraging the show sponsors, his callers, his call screeners, his station manager and his producer/sometime lover (played by Bogosian’s fellow Law & Order alum, Stephanie March, a.k.a. Mrs. Bobby Flay.)

With its disturbing (and disturbed) callers and tough themes, the play itself is far easier to respect than to love. Schreiber, as always, is spectacularly and grotesquely raw in his embodying portrayal of Champlain; even in his dark, silent moments — quaking with frustration, compulsively smoking his endless chain of cigarettes or snorting lines of coke, just off the main spotlight — Schreiber commanded this audience’s rapt attention. His character seemed to represent the id in us all, which left to run rampant, feasts on our desire for invincibility, only in the case of Champlain, to crumble tragically as he glimpses into the isolation and fragility of the world he has created. It’s a performance that was at turns raging, cruel and vulnerable. (One hopes that Schrieber is somewhat less scary and intense in person.)

If the context of the call-in radio show feels dated, it is perhaps a by-product of how times have changed since the play’s introduction two decades ago. It’s a problem that also arguably plagued Bogosian’s 2006 revival of subUurbia about grunge-era disaffected teens.

Is it ironic that the initial radio ads for Talk Radio were banned from radio?

No midnight countdown to the Year of the Pig, but Times Square still commemorates the occasion in its own way.

Happy Chinese New Year

There's 1 comment so far

Happy Lunar New Year!

Saturday, February 17th, 2007 | All Things, Events

After a long, circuitous subway route into Queens on Saturday morning, I emerged at Main and Roosevelt to find the Chinese New Year festivities in full swing, effectively shutting down all bus service along that major thoroughfare. But on a positive note: everyone loves a parade! (And Dad picked me up in the car later.)

Happy Year of the Golden Pig!

Chinese New Year Parade

Chinese New Year Parade

Chinese New Year Parade

Chinese New Year Parade

Chinese New Year Parade

Chinese New Year Parade

Chinese New Year Parade

Chinese New Year Parade

Chinese New Year Parade

There are 2 comments