Category Archives: New York City

How to Save Money in NYC

We all know that NYC is an expensive place to live. As much as I love this city, I am fully aware that the cost of everything is higher. But, if you know where the look, there are ways of saving a few dollars.

  1. Take public transportation. Like anyone who lives there, I am fully aware of the downsides of using the MTA to get around. But even with those problems, there is no beating that for one fare, you can go from one end of the city to another, 24/7/365.
  2. The dollar store is your best friend. Not everything is cheaper than the big box stores, but the deals may be surprising.
  3. Not everyone can afford to live alone. Though the roommate experience is sometimes hit or miss (as I painfully remember), it is the most economical way to reside here if you cannot afford an apartment on your own.
  4. If you need furniture, there are multiple options: local stores, Craigslist, various apps, etc. If you must buy new and prefer to go to a name brand store, hit up Target or Ikea. They are a pain in the ass to put together (even if you have to pay someone), but overall, it is worth it. The pieces I bought from Ikea more than a decade ago are still in good condition.
  5. When it comes time to get a haircut, find a local salon. Their work is just as good as the expensive salons and many will throw in a free blowout. In my experience, the ones owned by AAPI owners provide a pretty good service at a price that will not break the bank.
  6. Buy in bulk, large sizes, and store brands. If you do have access to a car, stores like Sam’s Club and Costco are worth the drive and the membership fee.
  7. Take advantage of the opportunities to be outdoors. Most, if not all of the parks and beaches are free to enter.
  8. If you are a bookworm like me, I highly recommend that you take advantage of the public library. If you must buy a book, hit up a local bookstore or 2nd hand store/thrift shop. This is also good if you are looking for a gift for someone. Now granted, you might not find exactly what you are looking for. But you never know what you may find. My favorite bookstores are the Strand Bookstore in Manhattan (great for browsing), Books Are Magic in Brooklyn, and of course, Housing Works.
  9. If you have a New York State driver’s license, you can get into some museums for nothing or almost nothing.
  10. Use Yelp and Time Out. Yelp is great because the reviews come from customers. Time Out has listings for things to do that will please almost anyone.
  11. Finally, if you want to see a Broadway show, there are ways to have this experience that will not empty your wallet. If you are willing and/or able to climb stairs, seats on the upper levels of the theaters are always cheaper. For me, it’s about the experience. I don’t mind going up a few flights. Organizations like TKTS sell tickets at discounted prices. However, not every show is listed (especially the popular shows) and the desired seats are not always available. There is also the option of going to one of the booths. The primary one is located in Times Square. Just prepared to be waiting in a very long line.
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Filed under Books, Broadway Musical Review, Broadway Play Review, New York City

Out of the Corner: A Memoir Book Review

From an audience perspective, it would appear that both starring in a blockbuster movie and coming from a respected performing family guarantees success in Hollywood. Anyone who knows the truth would say otherwise.

Out of the Corner: A Memoir, by Dirty Dancing actress Jennifer Grey, was published last month. Grey is Jewish acting royalty. Her paternal grandfather, Mickey Katz was one of the most famous comedians and musicians of his day. Her parents, Joel Grey (of Cabaret fame)and Jo Wilder followed in her grandfather’s footsteps. Raised in both New York City and Los Angeles, she rose to fame in Dirty Dancing, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and other 1980s classics.

The reader is taken on an emotional journey through her early years, the ups and downs of her personal and private life, and finally, her finding peace with her identity.

This book is amazing. Grey’s tale is emotional, human, honest, and goes straight to the heart. She leaves no stone unturned, revealing her flaws, her mistakes, and the various heartaches that came her way. Within the narrative, there were two stories that stood out. The first was her father publicly coming out almost a decade ago after spending a lifetime in the closet. The second is her wish to speak to co-star Patrick Swayze one last time. It is a heartfelt wish that I think that anyone who has lost a loved one will understand.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was on a “best of” list come the end of the year. It is one of my favorite books of 2022.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Feminism, Judaism, Movies, New York City

Throwback Thursday: Carnage (2011)

One of the things I find fascinating and frustrating as a grownup is that we claim to have the ability to be mature and think things through in an intelligent and reasonable manner. That being said, it is amazing how easy it is to revert back to childish behavior.

The 2011 film, Carnage, is based on the play God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza. After two eleven-year-old boys get into a fight in Brooklyn Bridge Park, their parents meet up to figure out what exactly happened and mend fences. Michael and Penelope Longstreet ( John C. Reilly and Jodie Foster) and Alan and Nancy Cowan (Christoph Waltz and Kate Winslet) hope to resolve the problem in an adult and expedient manner. Instead, the conversation devolves into revelations of the character’s flaws as both spouses and parents.

Directed by Roman Polanski, this movie reveals what happens when people stop being polite and start being real (to borrow a quote from The Real World). The most interesting narratives are the ones that reveal our shortcomings as human beings. This one has revelations oozing from the core, asking all of us to look at our own imperfections and be honest about the weaknesses we need to work on.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Macbeth Broadway Play Review

Macbeth is a story of power, bloodlust, and the moral boundaries that will be crossed to remain in power.

The new revival of the infamous Shakespeare play opened on April 28th at the Longacre Theatre in New York City. Starring Daniel Craig as the titular character and Ruth Negga as Lady Macbeth, these two have one goal: the crown. They are not above shedding a little blood to both get to the throne and stay on the throne. As the bodies hit the floor, guilt begins to seep in, forcing the main character to question their actions.

This adaptation is not for the faint of heart, or for the Shakespeare purist. That being said, it is very well done. Set against a spare backdrop with color and gender-neutral actors wearing modern clothing, the story is as influential and potent as it ever has been. It speaks to the dark side of human nature and its consequences.

Among the lead actors, Negga’s performance stands out. Her Lady Macbeth is a woman who has the same ambitions as her husband. But because she is a woman, those ambitions must be hidden behind what is “appropriate” for a female.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Macbeth is playing at the Longacre Theater in New York City until July 10th, 2022. Check the website for tickets and showtimes.

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Filed under Broadway Play Review, Feminism, New York City, William Shakespeare

When Will it Be Enough to do Something?: Two Mass Shootings in 24 Hours

After every mass shooting, the following line is uttered by some on the right: “now is not the time to talk politics“.

When can we talk about this? When more Americans are killed because some Americans care more about their guns than saving lives?

Last week, there were two mass shootings in two different cities in a time span of 24 hours. In Tulsa, a man legally purchased an AR-15. An hour later, he walked into a hospital, killing four people. Among the dead is a doctor who had previously treated the shooter for back problems. This doctor was targeted specifically because the accused gunman (who then turned his gun on himself), believed that this man was responsible for his still lingering physical pain.

In Ames, Iowa, a man walked into a church. He killed his ex-girlfriend and another woman before also turning the gun on himself.

That tally alone is 6 innocent people killed, plus the men responsible for their deaths. How many more have to die before something is done?

I am sick and tired of this being the daily headline. Now is the time to get political. We need background checks, red flag laws, a waiting period, etc. Whatever it takes to stop this unnecessary loss of life.

P.S. One of the victims of the Brooklyn shooting is suing the company that produced the firearm. If that is what it takes, so be it.

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Filed under National News, New York City, Politics

Made in Manhattan Book Review

Love can come sometimes come from the most unexpected places. The question is, are we willing to give it a chance, especially when it does not fit into our worldview?

Made in Manhattan, by Lauren Layne, was published earlier this year. Violet Townsend is an heiress/socialite who has spent her entire life within the borders of the Upper East Side. She has known since she was young how to dress, who the right people are, and how to please them. Working for a family friend, her newest task is to ensure that her boss’s newly found grandson and heir fit into their world.

Cain Stone has, up to this point, spent his entire life in Lousiana. Having been uprooted from his home and re-planted in New York City, he is only in it for the money. Cain is not interested in either his grandmother or Violet’s attempt to remake him into a man that fits into the city’s elite.

Once they get to know one another, Violet and Cain discover that they are not so different. They could even be more than begrudging friends. But before that can happen, both have to be willing to put aside their emotional baggage and open up.

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The best way to describe the narrative is Pygmalion/My Fair Lady meets Sex and the City/Gossip Girl. It’s a cute romance novel that is predictable without being too predictable. It is a well-written story that is entertaining, charming, and romantic.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Made in Manhattan is available wherever books are sold.

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Laura & Emma Book Review

The relationship between a mother and daughter can be both complicated and interesting.

Laura & Emma, by Kate Greathead, was published in 2019.

In the early 1980s in New York City, Laura has just entered her 30s without much of a plan. The daughter of an old-money, blue blood family, she has a one-night stand. The man whom she slept with has vanished and has left Laura with a parting gift: a child. Instead of ending the pregnancy or giving the baby up for adoption, she decides to raise her daughter as a single parent.

Taking place over a period of 15 years, the book explores the changing dynamic between the characters as they both age and deal with what life throws at them.

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The best way to describe the book is a sort of Gilmore Girls-ish narrative that is set in NYC instead of small-town Connecticut. The best part of the story was the relationship between the main characters. I was able to feel the feels between Laura and Emma.

Overall, it was an ok read. I wasn’t completely underwhelmed, but I came pretty close. What got me was the ending. I did not understand it at all.

Do I recommend it? Maybe

Laura & Emma are available wherever books are sold.

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End of an Era: The Last Public Payphone in NYC

There was a time in which payphones were everywhere. It was an indispensable technology that we all relied on. These days, it is a thing of the past.

In New York City, the last public payphone was removed from its Times Square location earlier this week. Its new home will be a museum.

I have mixed feelings about this. To be truthful, it was inevitable. There is no need to use a payphone when we are all walking around with cell phones. But it also represents the end of an era, both in the area of technology and how our world has changed dramatically in the last few decades.

RIP to the public payphone. Thanks for the memories.

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Sandy Hook Part II: At Least Eighteen Children and Two Adults Killed in an Elementary School in Texas

We all remember the horror of Sandy Hook in December of 2012. The young lives lost, the adults who tried to save their students, and the heartache that will never fade.

This morning was the sequel to that day. An eighteen-year-old gunman charged into an elementary school in Texas. Among the dead are at least eighteen children and two adults.

This is the third mass shooting to make national news in the last seven days. The third occurred in a church in Orange County in California. Five people were injured and one man was killed. Closer to home, a man was killed by a stranger carrying a gun on the Q train on Sunday in New York City. The accused was caught today. When did we become so desensitized that this unnecessary loss of life that it is nothing more than another headline?

I keep thinking that it is going to get to the point in which we have to wear bulletproof vests as part of our regular wardrobe and go through airport-style security to complete simple errands.

I blame the NRA. I blame the Republicans who are more concerned with their careers and lining their own pockets than doing what is right for the country. I blame all of our politicians who are too chicken shit to speak up and save lives. I blame Fox News and other right-wing media organizations who knowingly peddle lies. I blame those who are more concerned with the unborn than the current members of the young generation. I blame those who use mental health as an excuse instead of looking for real-world solutions and once more create a sense of shame around needing help.

We need rock-solid gun control laws now. We needed them in 2012 and we needed them after Columbine 23 years ago. I don’t know what it is going to take to get this legislation on the books. How many of our children will die before we do something about it?

If you have children, hug them and tell them that you love them. It may be the last time you say it to them.

The only thing I can think of right is to vote in November. Regardless of party or affiliation, if a candidate or incumbent does not support gun control, do not vote for them. Send the message that lives are more important than power.

May the memory of those murdered today be a blessing and finally be the impetus needed to get off our asses and fix this problem for good. Z”L.

P.S. I have no doubt that certain members of the press will use the fact that the allegation that the accused crossed the border illegally to once more further their own agenda.

P.P.S The fact that the shooting in the church in California is news to me tells me everything I need to know about where this nation is going.

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Filed under Mental Health, National News, New York City, Politics, Television

Words I Thought I Would Never Say: I Agree With Bill de Blasio

It takes an adult to admit when they are wrong. It also takes an adult to be able to criticize your peers in a way that is meant is meant to be helpful and thoughtful without veering into cruelty or making the other person feel small.

On Friday, former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was a guest on WNYC‘s The Brian Lehrer Show. The reason for his appearance was an article he wrote in The Atlantic magazine. Both in the article and during the interview, he discussed what he did wrong during his time in office and how the Democrats can learn from his mistakes.

De Blasio is 100% correct. If we are to ensure that the Democratic party wins in 2022, 2024, and beyond, they have to speak plainly. From the President on down, they have to state clearly what they have done for the people of this country and what they would like to do. The time for pussyfooting around and playing nice is over.

While he was in office, I wrote quite a few posts about the man. Like many who live here, I had an intense dislike for his politics and the decisions he made as Mayor. I even went so far as to vote Republican when he ran for the second time. That being said, I can respect someone who publicly recognizes their imperfections and wants to prevent another person from making the errors they made.

I can only hope that his advice will be heeded.

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