Tag: Financial District

I like a Gershwin tune

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008 | All Things, Arts, Music

In Nelson A. Rockefeller Park at the North end of Battery Park City, where singer Patti Austin was performing the music of George and Ira Gershwin as part of the summer’s River to River Festival.

I grew up on classic studio films and Hollywood musicals, which probably makes me more familiar with the Great American Songbook than my fellow Gen-X and younger cohorts, many of whom associate the songs with cocktail lounges, wedding receptions, and um… movies starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. Nowadays, artists like Peter Cincotti, Michael Bublé and (still, sometimes) Harry Connick, Jr. carry on the torch for a new generation… though I don’t know that their fan bases would be considered particularly youthful.

The GAS was the soundtrack of American life for more than half a century, and pre-1960 recordings abound. In this decade, Rod Stewart recorded four volumes of the Songbook, but my recommendation to those looking for a primer is decidedly more old school than Rod the Mod: Ella Fitzgerald’s Songbooks. All eight of the studio albums comprising the series were re-released as a box set by Verve in 1993.

In February, Austin won the Best Jazz Vocal Album Grammy for her tribute album, Avant Gershwin — 53 years and 16 albums after landing her first record contract at the age of 5. She harbors no ill will for her late-career recognition, though she did publicly thank Elvis Costello for knocking up “that b*tch Diana Krall” (who owns Grammys for both Best Jazz Vocal Album and Jazz Vocal Performance.)

From the stage facing the Hudson, Austin wowed the crowd with jazzed up versions of classics like “I’ll Build A Stairway To Paradise,” “Funny Face,” “They Can’t Take That Away From Me,” and “Our Love Is Here To Stay.”

The man who only lives for making money
Lives a life that isn’t necessarily sunny;
Likewise the man who works for fame —
There’s no guarantee that time won’t erase his name.
The fact is
The only work that really brings enjoyment
Is the kind that is for girl and boy meant.
Fall in love — you won’t regret it.
That’s the best work of all, if you can get it.

— “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” George and Ira Gershwin (1937)

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Trinity Church blooms

Thursday, April 24th, 2008 | All Things

I missed this year’s Sakura Matsuri (Cherry Blossom Festival) at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden when the 200+ cherry trees along Cherry Walk, and in the Cherry Cultivars Area and Japanese Garden explode in clusters of magnificent pink and white. But here’s a link to the lovely timelapse video of the 2008 blooming season, created by the BBG’s web manager Dave Allen from over 3,000 digital photos — one taken every three minutes from April 18 to April 26, 2008. Set to original music by Jon Solo.

Hanami Hana = flower, mi = see — is the cherished Japanese cultural tradition of viewing cherry blossoms, a festive time when family and friends gather beneath the full-blooming trees to celebrate the beauty of spring. Check out other Garden visitor photos on the BBG Hanami Flickr pool.

Manhattan has its blooms, too, which though not as abundant, are still beautiful. On warm spring days like today, the financial district drones emerge from out under the fluorescent lights to steal a few moments in the sun among the weathered headstones in the Trinity Church graveyard.

Flickr preview: my photos from Bay Ridge’s 17th of May Parade on um… the 18th of May. Gothamist approved!

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Pub lunch

Thursday, March 27th, 2008 | All Things, Drinks, Eats

The crowd waiting inside the foyer at Adrienne’s did not bode well for a speedy lunch, so we ended up at Ulysses, just a few doors down — another in the Poulakakos family-owned Financial District empire. (See also: Bayard’s, the three Financier Pâtisseries, Harry’s Bar, and the 24-hour Gold Street.) This pub on Stone Street is a packed to the rafters with suits during happy hour — and increasingly on weekends — but at lunchtime, the scene is decidedly more laid back.

Since opening five years ago on Bloomsday — that’s June 16 to those for whom James Joyce’s masterpiece is but a faint or nonexistent memory — Ulysses has stayed open nightly until 4AM, and served a Sunday brunch buffet, making it a beacon of activity in a neighborhood which still tends to empty after the closing bell. (Those late nights may be numbered throughout our increasingly sanitized city, though, as 2AM closings become the new norm.)

The bar boasts a 130 foot long wraparound bar — the longest in the city — and a slicked up Irish pub vibe, with blue glass, dark, gleaming wood and plenty of cozy nooks; as spring approaches, Ulysses takes over a section of the historic cobblestone street with outdoor tables that increase in demand with the temperatures.

The menu is a solidly pleasing assortment of carving station and raw bar offerings, Irish (bangers & mash, cottage pie) and Greek (gyro, Aegean salad) specialties, and other pub fare. Monday is Lobster Night: a 1-1/4 lb. lobster, sweet corn and potatoes for under $20, while it lasts. Guinness on tap, too, of course… along with about 50 other brews.

We do love the Irish… pubs.

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