A hot dog for only a dollar? Don't make me holler! Yes, despite its reputation for being an extremely expensive city New York City can be surprisingly cheap to grab quick eats while on the go round the bustling streets of Manhattan, like this dollar hot dog stand - one of ten that line the block of 34th Street alongside Macy's between Broadway and Seventh Avenue. Welcome to another installment in the weekly New York State of Mind Amoeblog series! In this post, I'll run down some other hella cheap eats in NYC, plus give an overview of the many cool ice skating rinks, museums, art on exhibit, shows, and concerts to come in the week ahead.
As well as the inexpensive hot dog stands that are dotted around the city, there are endless halal food stands where you can get a filling feed for a steal. For example, there is one right outside the Trader Joe's on 14th Street near Union Square where you can get a tasty gyro sandwich (chicken, lamb, or veggie) plus soda or water for just $4, or a plate of meat and veggies with rice plus drink for $5. More healthy, cheap eating can be had by going inside Trader Joe's for an apple, banana, and small bottle of water for about a dollar (just like in Cali). There are also lots of sidewalk food stands around Manhattan that sell hot pretzels or hot roasted nuts. Typically, a bag of roasted nuts goes for $1.25 to $2 a bag. Then there are oodles of hella cheap pizza joints all around the midtown and downtown areas of Manhattan, such as the 2 Bros Pizza chain, where you can get a slice for only a dollar or two slices plus a soda for $2.75. Sure, it is not the thickest, greatest pizza nor is it the healthiest food, but if you are hungry and on a budget then this is a great quick fix to satisfy your tummy.
Speaking of pizza in NYC, my fellow WFMU DJ Dave Mandl created a great food guide this week for Flavorwire on Brooklyn's 10 Best Under The Radar Pizzerias that is well worth checking out for pizza spots that don't typically make it on those Village Voice Best Of type lists and include such worthy but oft-ignored spots like the wood-burning pizza restaurant La Villa (6618 Avenue U, Brooklyn) of which, Mandl writes, is "in a nondescript outdoor shopping center not far from the Kings Plaza mall and is related to the pizzeria of the same name in Park Slope. (The Slope branch opened in 2003; the Mill Basin one has been around since 1992.) Apart from Ramagi, which is a fraction of the size, La Villa is the only place on this list that can be called a full-blown restaurant." More on La Villa here and on Mandl's BK pizza guide here.
For the holidays, a fun and popular thing to do for visitors and New Yorkers alike is to go to the festive ice skating Rink at Rockefeller Center (pictured above) or the other ice skating rinks in midtown Manhattan. These include the seasonal rinks at both Bryant Park on 42nd Street (free, but costs $14 if you need to rent skates) and the Wollman Rink inside Central Park near the South West section of the park. These rinks also offer lessons for novices. For example the Bryant Park rink (aka Citi Pond), which is open through mid March 2013, has walk-in lessons every day from 10am to 6pm that are available on a first-come, first-served basis. There are several other ice skating rinks around New York including the Figure Skating Rink up in Harlem and the World Ice Arena skating rink out in Queens at the Flushing Meadows Corona Park that is run by the City Parks of NYC and is nominally priced at only $5 a skate session.
At first glance, I thought the artwork pictured to the right, on exhibit currently at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, was a Keith Haring (who is, coincidentally, part of the current Warhol exhibit - see above too - at the Met - Regarding Warhol: Sixty Artists, Fifty Years, which runs through December 31st) but then I realized it was by Paul Klee. It is his 1938 painting "Comedian's Handbill," which is part of the "Late Glee" collection (last 15 years of the Swiss-born, German artist) currently on exhibit at Metropolitan Museum of Art. Another piece that caught my eye at the Met is the up above the Warhol piece up above. It is by Stuart Davis and inspired by the artist's visual interpretation of jazz, a colorful garden, and modern life. It is titled "Arboretum by Flashbulb" and is an oil on canvas piece done in 1942 by Davis. The composition is described by the curators as one that "embodies the syncopated rhythms of American jazz and the dynamism of modern life...the image is based on a garden, momentarily illuminated by the yellow-and-red light of a camera flash." As I wrote in this column in the past, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the most amazing places to visit in New York and is affordable even to the budget traveler since they ask for a donation of whatever you can pay. Even though they suggest visitors pay $25, many only pay a dollar.
Meanwhile, the nearby Guggenheim (about five blocks up Fifth Avenue at 89th Street), which is privately owned, charges a stiff fixed entrance fee all the time with the exception of Pay What You Wish Saturdays from 5:45pm to 7:45pm (last ticket issued at 7:15 pm) when you can pay as little as a dime for the Guggenheim (sorry, couldn't resist the rhyme). More info here on the art museum where current exhibitions include Picasso; Black and White through January 23rd, 2013.
Fans of Colombian figurative artist Fernando Botero should make a point of checking out the renowned 80-year-old artist's two distinctive sculptures on display at the Time Warner Center at 10 Columbus Circle (near 59th Street and Broadway). A monumental bronze sculpture of a naked man (named "Adam") and a woman (named "Eve"), they each stand in the atrium of the large building's main area. The sculpture was commissioned for the building once it opened up it doors to commercial space.
Both towering 12-foot-high sculptures grab peoples' attention...their naked privates are right at eye level and hence unavoidable. Consequently, they inevitably create countless photo opportunities and giggles with Adam getting more photo opportunities than Eve (like the photo at left, which I took). I also noticed when I was at the building a second time that the sculptures had been moved a short distance in position. The Time Warner Center, which is technically a "mall" but unlike most American shopping malls, has several restaurants, a Whole Foods in the basement level, a Bouchon bakery on the third floor, and some amazing views on the upper floors. Plus, outside for the holidays are some cool ice sculptures like the one below.
Concerts in NYC in the week ahead include alt hip-hop/electronic artist Ceschi at the Trash Bar in Brooklyn on Thursday December 20th, Dave Matthews Band and The Lumineers at the big and newly opened Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Friday December 21st, and that same night over in Manhattan is Q-Tip at Irving Plaza. And finally I leave you with a hip-hop video shot in New York City; Lord Tariq & Peter Gunz's hip-hop crossover classic "Deja Vu (Uptown Baby)," which was the bygone era rap duo's best known song. It reached number nine on the Billboard pop singles chart when it was released at the same time as their only album, 1998's Make It Reign. Unfortunately, the duo disbanded the following year before gracing fans with an anticipated follow-up.