Tag Archives: Brooklyn

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.
New York Nyc GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

2 Comments

Filed under Books, Broadway Musical Review, Broadway Play Review, New York City

Cyrano de Bergerac Review

Cyrano de Bergerac is the tale of unrequited love and finding the courage to tell the one you love how you feel.

The newest adaptation is playing at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in Brooklyn. Told in a spoken word/hip-hop/Hamilton style, James McAvoy plays the title character. Evelyn Miller is Roxanne, the woman he loves, but is unable to reveal his feelings due to his unusually long nose. Eben Figueiredo is Christian, the young soldier who Cyrano uses to express his love.

My main reason for wanting to see this show is McAvoy. He is one of those actors who cannot be pegged as a certain character type. That being said, this version is not for the purists. It’s a creative take on the story that we all know. Beyond the unorthodox re-telling is that McAvoy is not wearing a prosthetic nose. This makes sense because even the most conventionally attractive of people are likely to harbor insecurities of some sort.

My problem with the play is that the first half is just a little too long and despite the excellent performances, I was not as impressed as I thought I would be. There is something missing that I cannot put my finger on that would have made the show that much better

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

Cyrano de Bergerac is playing at BAM until May 22, 2022. Check the website for tickets and showtimes.

Jose Ferrer GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Leave a comment

Filed under Broadway Play Review, Music

The Shooting in Brooklyn This Morning Scares The Shit Out of Me

We never know what will happen when we open our eyes in the morning. The day could be as ordinary as ordinary can be. Or, it can shake you to your core.

At about 8:30 this morning, during the rush hour, a man walked onto a northbound N train at the 36th Street and 4th Ave stop in Brooklyn. He detonated a smoke bomb and started shooting. As of earlier today, 10 people were shot and multiple others were injured. A good portion of the NYC MTA subway system was either shut down or dramatically altered for most of the day.

I know the station where this attack happened. Events like these are always scary. But they are even scarier when they are close to home. Today was one of those days when I was more than grateful that my company still allows us to work from home. The truth is that 99.9% of the time, the biggest inconvenience when getting on the train is a delay or track work that forces a change in travel plans. Those are normal in my world.

What happened today scared the shit out of me. I know that come tomorrow, I will shake the dust off (as will anyone who calls this city home) and go about my business as usual.

But that does not mean that what happened will not leave a scar.

3 Comments

Filed under New York City

11 Israelis Were Murdered This Week. No Gives a Shit

After the Holocaust, the phrase “Never Again” was heard around the world. As usual, the words ring hollow.

This week, 11 Israelis were murdered in three separate attacks. The murderers claim to be a part of Hamas and ISIS. Adding salt to the wound was a protest in Brooklyn in which the participants cried out “Globalize the Intifada“.

I am so tired of this shit. When will the rest of the world wake up? Will it take another six million to make people care?

Or are we just Jews, who are only good when we are dead?

May the memories of those killed be a blessing. Z”L.

Israel Flag GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

2 Comments

Filed under History, International News, Judaism, New York City, World News

All About Me!: My Remarkable Life in Show Business Book Review

The word “genius” is often thrown around without anything to back it up. One of the few people who can legitimately be given that title is Mel Brooks. He has made audiences laugh for 70+ years, taking comedy in a direction that few have dared to.

His new autobiography, All About Me!: My Remarkable Life in Show Business, was released last November. The youngest of four boys, Brooks was born to a Jewish immigrant family in 1926. Raised in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn by his widowed mother, he grew up during the Great Depression and served his country during World War II. After the war, he joined one of the greatest comedy writing teams of all time as a co-writer of Sid Ceasar‘s Your Show of Shows.

Married to actress Anne Bancroft for five decades, Brooks directed (and in some cases starred in) such classics as Young Frankenstein, To Be or Not To Be, The Producers, Spaceballs, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, History of the World: Part I, etc. Telling his story as only he can, Brooks reveals his heart, his humor, his work ethic, and his acute ability to use laughter to delve into topics that many would not dare to touch.

In his mid 90’s, he has more energy and gusto many are half his age. It was an incredible insight into a man who has made generations of audiences laugh. What I loved was the revelation of the man behind the jokes. He reminds me of someone’s old uncle who is not quite politically correct. They know that they are crossing the line. But it is not out of spite or to cause trouble. It’s to make the audience laugh and while they are laughing, perhaps think about the message behind the joke.

As I read the book, two things jumped out at me. The first was that there was no mention of his first wife and not a lot of time focused on his older children. The second is that he refers to almost every woman first by her looks and then by her talent. Maybe it’s me or maybe it’s a generational thing. I get that it could be construed as a compliment, but I would rather be known for my abilities first and my looks second.

Other than that, do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Mel Brooks Comb The Desert GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

All About Me!: My Remarkable Life in Show Business is available wherever books are sold.

2 Comments

Filed under Book Review, Books, History, Judaism, Movies, New York City, Star Wars, Television

The Merchant of Venice Review

There is a reason we keep coming back to the works of William Shakespeare. Underneath the seemingly confusing language and 16th-century clothing are stories about human beings.

A new adaptation of The Merchant of Venice premiered at the Theater for a New Audience on February 5th in Brooklyn. John Douglas Thompson stars at the eponymous Shylock, a Jewish merchant, whose world is torn apart by two interwoven narratives. His daughter, Jessica (Danaya Esperanza) falls in love with and elopes with a Christian boy, Lorenzo (David Lee Hyunh). As a condition of her vows, she had to convert to Christianity.

Meanwhile, Bassanio (Sanjit De Silva) is in love with Portia (Isabella Arraiza). But he cannot marry her without money. Portia is an heiress whose potential marriage is tied to a challenge tied to her fortune by her late father. Bassanio turns to Antonio (Alfredo Narciso) for advice (and financial assistance) who turns to Shylock for a loan because of his own money problems.

I loved this play. For obvious reasons (ahem, antisemitism) this story is still too relevant. What made it unique was the multi-cultural colorblind cast and the modern clothing worn by the actors. The thing that strikes me about The Merchant of Venice is that if the word “Jew” is replaced by any other ethnicity, the impact would be the same. The hatred, the prejudice, and the accusations would be just as potent.

After watching Thompson play the role, I have a deeper understanding of his character. This is a man who has been verbally assaulted by his neighbors for years. The final nail in the coffin is the loss of his daughter, sending him over the edge and unable to hold in the anger that has been bubbling beneath the surface.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

The Merchant of Venice is playing at the Theater for a New Audience until March 6th, 2022. Check the website for ticket availability and showtimes.

2 Comments

Filed under Judaism, New York City, William Shakespeare

Cheat Day: A Novel Book Review

There is an old quote about writing attributed to W. Somerset Maugham.

“There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”

If I were to write one rule, it would be that it is the job of the writer to create a connection between the characters and the audience. Without that association, the want by the reader or the viewer to continue with the story is likely to disappear.

Cheat Day: A Novel, by Liv Stratman, was published last summer. Kit and David met in college and have been together ever since. Now in their thirties, they live in the Bay Ridge neighborhood of Brooklyn. The only career she has had is working on and off at the family bakery while her husband is rising in the white-collar business world. They are both on another new diet, which is the latest in a long list of weight loss programs that had failed to live up to their promise.

Looking to make up for what is missing in her life, Kit starts seeing another man on the side. Matt was hired to do some construction work for the bakery. What starts out as a mild flirtation turns into a full-blown affair. As her life spirals out of control, Kit leans on her diet to maintain some sense of order. But she knows that she will have to make a decision about her future and stick to it.

I wanted to like this book. The concept was interesting. The problem is that my attachment to the characters and the narrative was merely surface level. Whatever hook the author intended to create to keep me engaged was not there. I was also disappointed by the ending. It felt like an afterthought. Whatever closure I needed as a reader was missing.

The only good thing is that it was very authentic to South Brooklyn. Anyone who knows this part of the borough knows exactly what Stratman is talking about.

Do I recommend it? Not really.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review, Books, New York City

The State of American Politics: The Democrats Messaging Problem and the Republicans Attack on Big Bird

When it comes down to it, politics is about two things: messages and action. One can say the right things, but without acting on what has been said, nothing gets done.

I am a lifelong Democrat. My first major election was the 2000 Presidential election in which George W. Bush ran against former Vice President Al Gore. For the last twenty-ish years, I have voted mostly along party lines. But that does not mean that I can’t or won’t speak when I feel the need. The problem with today’s Democratic Party is not the message. They just finally passed the Infrastructure Bill, for G-d sake. The problem is how the message is being presented. Instead of hearing that our young children will be educated, our seniors will be provided for, and our roads will be maintained, the only thing we are being told is the cost.

There were three recent elections that exemplified this issue. In my hometown of New York City, former police officer, and current Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams won handily against activist Curtis Sliwa in the Mayoral election. Truth be told, Adam’s win was not a complete given, but generally accepted that it was the obvious outcome. NYC is, for the most part, politically blue. It was not a surprise that Sliwa lost.

Across the river, current New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy won his Gubernatorial election against Jack Ciattarelli, but only by a narrow margin. Down south, the shock that Republican Glenn Youngkin was proclaimed the winner in the Virginia Gubernatorial election rippled across the nation. His opponent, Terry McAuliffe lost because instead of focusing on kitchen table issues, he spent his time on you know who. Youngkin won because he mostly repudiated the former President and spoke to the everyday problems that voters are dealing with.

While this is happening, the Republicans are making mountains of out molehills. With the announcement that children ages 5-11 are now eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine, the powers that be reached out to the people at Sesame Street. Via Twitter, Big Bird is encouraging young children to get the shot.

Ted Cruz, in his usual unhelpful way, decided to attack this most beloved of characters. Instead of remembering the 760,000 Americans who have died from the virus, he is opening the door for even more of us to lose our lives. When will he get it through his extra thick skull that the only way to stay alive and return to normal is to be vaccinated?

There is no doubt that the American political scene is nothing short of a shit-show. Until we get our heads out of our asses and do what needs to be done, it will continue to be a shit show.

P.S. How is Paul Gosar still in Congress when he posted a video in which AOC is killed and the President is attacked? He doesn’t have to agree with her, but he crossed the line with the suggestion of violence.

7 Comments

Filed under National News, New York City, Politics

One Last Stop Book Review

When we get on to the train or the bus to get to wherever we are going to, we don’t expect to find love. But sometimes, it finds us when we least expect it.

Casey McQuiston‘s new book, One Last Stop, was published in June. New Orleans native August has just moved to New York City to be alone. She rents a room in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Flatbush and lives with a motley crew of roommates. When August is not home, can either be found working at a local pancake restaurant or attending classes at Brooklyn College.

Her life changes when she meets 1970’s rocker chick Jane on the train. What starts a crush turns into something more. The problem is that Jane cannot leave the subway car. She has been stuck on the subway since the 1970’s. The only way to free Jane is for August to open up and not be afraid of looking back at her past.

To say that I was disappointed in this book is an understatement. I loved her first book. By themselves, the individual elements of this novel are fine. I loved the chemistry between August and Jane. The author perfectly captures the kinetic and sometimes less than glamorous reality that comes with living in NYC. The supernatural twist adds another level that is sometimes missing in the modern romance genre, regardless of the gender and/or sexuality of the lead characters.

The problem is that it is hard to read. It drags on to the point where I nearly put it down several times without finishing it. I did eventually get to the end, but not without feeling like I had pushed on a ten pound weight off my shoulders.

Do I recommend it? Not really.

1 Comment

Filed under Book Review, Books, New York City

Here, Right Matters: An American Story Book Review

Sometimes, fate gives us a choice. When our conscious speaks, we can either listen to it. The other option is to do nothing.

Former US Army Colonel Alexander Vindman tell his story in his new memoir, Here, Right Matters: An American Story. Published earlier this month, the reader is taken into his world and the Biden-Ukraine conspiracy as he experienced it. Born in 1975 in the former Soviet Union, he emigrated with his widowed father and brothers in the late 1970’s. Raised in the Brighton Beach section of Brooklyn, he joined the military as an adult.

On July 25th, 2019, Vindman had to make a decision. He could stay silent as a certain former President acted in a way that was completely unprecedented (not to mention cross a moral and legal boundary). Instead, he spoke up. This, as we all know, led to the impeachment trial and the public slander of Vindman by certain people in the government and the press.

This book is amazing. It counters the lies and the trash that accuses him of being disloyal and unappreciative of what this country has given him. He was willing to forgo his career and his reputation to stand up to a President who is not only a con-man, but had no intention looking out for anyone except for himself.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

2 Comments

Filed under Book Review, Books, History, Politics