New York State of Mind Amoeblog #67: Changes to The State of The City, Valentine's Day In The Big Apple, Concerts + more

Posted by Billyjam, February 12, 2014 05:04pm | Post a Comment

Under a big banner emblazoned "One New York Rising Together" new New York City mayor Bill de Blasio vowed to provide New York City residents with a "fair shot at a better life" in his first "State of the City" address earlier this week, and by so doing offering hope to a good percentage of the population of this expensive city to live in. In Monday's 43 minute speech he spoke of “a budgetary challenge that is unprecedented” and called for expanding “living wage” laws - proposing that New York City set its own (higher than average) minimum wage.

De Blasio's distinctly progressive liberal leaning speech, which further separated him politically from his two mayoral predecessors Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg and placed him more in line with the vision of the late NYC Mayor Fiorella La Guardia (Mayor of NYC for three terms from 1934 to 1945 - pictured right), also pushed his policies of raising taxes for the city's rich to pay for universal prekindergarten, amping up job training programs for the unskilled, and providing ID cards to those New Yorkers that are in the USA illegally. What actually unfolds and the impact of these radical changes proposed by this new mayor will have remains to be seen, but is sure to cause much local and national debate in the interim.

Ariel View Of NYC (2014)

The above video, which was uploaded to YouTube over the weekend, is a pretty impressive (albeit likely controversial) aerial view from high above the Big Apple with some unusual views looking straight down to the streets far below. Made by a camera attached to a drone that was, according to the YouTube account belonging to the camera gear company DSLR Pros, the "video was given to us from an anonymous source."  The description goes on to read that,  "As beautiful as it is we do not recommend flying in locations like NYC" and since it was posted on Saturday has disabled comments from being made which is what prompted me to imply it is likely controversial since the gut reaction from most, I imagine, would be memories of 9/11 and anything remotely related (regardless of how beautiful the footage above may be) is bound to trigger such mental connections - even 13 years later.

As in any other city Valentine's Day in New York City means restaurants tend to get booked up in advanced but the fact that there are so many different eateries all round NYC means that you can often find last minute openings. One place that typically has tables and is fun in a campy, cheesy (processed?) way - and hence may not appeal to every couple - is the annual Love Castle day of the year - the date when East Coast fast food chain White Castle (known to many via the 2004 movie Howard & Kumar Go To White Castle and renowned for its onion-grilled sliders) close for regular business. On the evening of each February 14th for the past 8 years now, White Castle hosts its increasingly popular, annual ironic "Love Castles" themed Valentines Day "dinners" when they put red table clothes and (plastic) flowers atop their typically cold feeling Formica tables, and dim the bright lights, and put a hold on self-serve - instead have waiters bring romantic couples their food. That food is still the same fast food menu selection with the most popular order of Love Castle being  the $10 Share-A-Meal.  There is only one White Castle in NYC (the one in Woodside, Queens - near the 7 train) that offer this Valentines special. Call 718-899-8404 ext 311 or visit the website to make reservations.

Another non-traditional and inexpensive way to celebrate Valentine's Day in NYC is the free Celebrate Love in Times Square event that happens all day/evening in Duffy Square (46th Street and Broadway). There lovers can do such things as renew their vows, get complimentary hot chocolate, and check out a huge Valentine's heart sculpture. Speaking of love themed sculptures: if you are in the midtown Times Square area you can always hop over to the corner of Sixth Avenue and 53rd St. for a picture by the famed LOVE sculpture (pictured left the iconic Robert Indiana design is near MoMA who commissioned the piece) - although expect to wait a minute for a photo since, on any day of the year, there are lots of people getting photos taken here.  Another Valentines Day in NYC idea - one that combines sightseeing with dinner - is the Hornblower Hybrid Cruise Ship which is a three-hour river tour of NYC with a four-course seated dinner. Boats board at 6pm, sail at 7pm. 888-979-7020 for info and reservations. The weather forecast for NYC, which has been enduring some of the worst weather lately with yet another nasty storm heading towards the city today, is looking a bit better towards the end of the week with Friday's forecast (while not great) is supposed to be likely dry (just a 20% chance of rain) and highs in the upper 30's (warm by NYC severe winter standards).

Concerts in NYC in the week ahead (many on Valentine's Day) include the band Savoy's Get Lazer'd Tour NY stop on Feb 14th, and Blackberry Smoke's Feb 15th concert - both at Irving Plaza downtown at 17 Irving Plaza near Union Square. Other concerts and shows include Kings Of Leon (pictured above) plus Gary Clark Jr. at. Madison Square Garden on Friday (Feb 14th), Skrillex at the club Pacha on 618 W 46th St (tix/info), and Beth Orton and Sam Amidon at the The Allen Room at Lincoln Center at 3 Columbus Circle on Friday Feb 14th at 8pm (more info),. And finally I leave you with a recently uploaded video of Beth Orton in concert c.o Paste magazine from her performing "Dawn Chorus" in concert at the 2013 Newport Folk Festival.

Beth Orton "Dawn Chorus"

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New York (59), Times Square (2), Valentine's Day In New York City (1), New York City (101), Ny State Of Mind Amoeblog (63), Nyc (85), Kings Of Leon (5), New York State Of Mind (92), Bill De Blasio State Of The City (1), Beth Orton (5)