Should You Leave New York?

Should you leave new york by ari kellenYou may not feel like you want to leave New York, but, as George Harrison once said, all things must pass.  I for one can’t imagine leaving, but I also think you shouldn’t be living in a place like New York if you aren’t going to take full advantage of it.  Blogger Tracy Kaler had an interesting perspective on this, and I really liked a lot of what she had to say:

You don’t want to explore any more: The convenience of being able to explore the unique and exciting neighborhoods of New York is easily the best part of living there.  If you aren’t taking advantage of that, or getting all that you’d expect from the city, then it’s not worth paying exorbitant prices on rent.  

You’re gone more often than you’re there (by choice): Most people in New York should be visiting you in New York, not the other way around.  Unless you work in a field that’s specifically linked to New York, you should maybe move and find a job elsewhere.  

You’re presented with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: If a unique job offer appears somewhere else where you might actually enjoy living, then you should at least consider it, if not take it, especially if combined with any of the other factors mentioned in this post.

You’re struggling to get by: New York has an outrageously high cost of living.  And if you’re having trouble keeping up with this cost, then leaving might be your best option.  Moving somewhere else could often cut your costs dramatically.  

Your bad days are more frequent than your good ones: Bad days in New York are terrible, but good days are near euphoric.  But when bad days become daily and you find yourself focusing on the negative, then you might need to change something.  

Your mental or physical health is hurting: Studies say that one in five New Yorkers suffer from some sort of mental health disorder.  In a city of 8 million, it’s still pretty easy to feel lonely, and even more easy to feel overwhelmed.  This can take a toll on your mental and physical health.  

You don’t feel anything looking at the skyline: New York’s skyline is easily one of its most unique and exciting factors.  When you don’t feel inspired any more after looking at the skyline, that might be a sign that you should move on.  

from Ari Kellen | New York City Exploration http://ift.tt/2jmKEbE

Advertisements

The Cons of Living in Williamsburg

The cons of living in Williamsburg by ari kellenWilliamsburg might not be the edgy artist haven that it was 10 years ago, but that’s not to say that it isn’t still a great neighborhood.  Indeed, its allure remains, and there are still plenty of bars, restaurants, specialty shops, movie theaters, and boutiques that make it well worth a visit.  For sure, wandering around the Bedford Ave L stop makes for a great afternoon, but living there?  It might have plenty of appeal, but the realities are often a bit different than you’d expect.  If you’re going to move to WilliWiasmburg, these are some

L Train: The L train has already got a bad reputation, especially on late nights and weekends, which is also the time that most people who know better than to live in Williamsburg visit to take advantage of its cool stuff.  Starting in April 2019, the train will be shut down for 15 months to repair damage from Hurricane Sandy.  This lack of service is going to be a real pain for anybody that lives off the L but works in Manhattan.  There are certain alternative choices, such as bus connections, increased service on different lines, and bike improvements, but navigating the “L-pocalypse” will still be a major inconvenience.

Hipsters: Among true hipsters, Williamsburg has lost its cred for being too gentrified and “mainstream”.  While they’ve moved onto Greenpoint, Bushwick, there are still hipsters in Williamsburg.  Even if you want hipsters, the ones living in Williamsburg are going to be the worst kind: flush with cash from their trust funds or tech jobs, and with heads full of self-importance and Bukowski.  However, some of the “real” hipsters will still hang out in Williamsburg, whether it’s to go out on a weekend or work as a bartenders or sales clerk.

Price: In a city whose cost of living has few rivals in the US, Williamsburg stands out as one of the most expensive.  The current median rent per month is $3,000, while the price per square foot is $957.  You can maybe get something that’s relatively cheaper, but it’s rare, and you’re going to need roommates, which is always a crap shoot.  And when it comes to shopping, eating, and drinking, you’ll have to put your wallet on ice afterwards.  That being said, however, you’ll still have a great time.  

Tourists: The vibe that originated with Williamsburg has caught on to a strong degree across the pond, to the extent that “Brooklyn” is an adjective in the French vernacular.  As tourists come to realize that Times Square is a horrible place, more and more of them are visiting “alternative” places in the city, such as Williamsburg.  This is particularly notable off the Bedford Avenue L stop.  

from Ari Kellen | New York City Exploration http://ift.tt/2iZRdRx

Weekend Trips From New York

Weekend trips from new york by ari kellenIt’s hard to believe that summer is almost officially over.  Where did all the time go?  If you’re in New York, and want a quick getaway before the weather starts to cool down, then here are some great places around the state that you can visit:

Catskills: Filled with charming towns and villages, not to mention some amazing nature, the Catskills has got a whole lot to offer.  Breathtakingly beautiful Kaaterskill Falls is one of the tallest waterfalls on the East Coast, and located in a great park for nature lovers.  Hunter Mountain features the longest zipline in North America.  And as one of the most fertile regions of the country, the local food, beer, and wine scene is hard to beat.  

Lake George: Once the country’s most famous vacation destinations, Lake George has lost none of its luster.  Kayaking, parasailing, cruising, and swimming are all available on the lake itself.  But there’s even more off the shoreline, such as hiking and Fort Ticonderoga, the site of battles in both the American Revolution and French and Indian Wars.  

Saratoga Springs: The racetracks might be closing this weekend, but that’s not to take away from visiting Saratoga.  Located nearby one of the most important battlefields in the Revolutionary War, it’s a great spot for history buffs.  The town is also home to the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, as well as summer residencies for the New York City Ballet and Philadelphia Orchestra.  

Westchester: Easily accessible through Metro North, Westchester County is just a hop, skip, and a jump from New York.  Towns such as Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow in particular make for great day trips.  The former features beautiful 19th-century architecture, while the latter has retained its old Dutch heritage.  

Ithaca: Located in the Finger Lakes, Ithaca is a popular vacation destination thanks to both natural beauty and a thriving local culture.  The town itself features great food and art galleries, while outside the town is Cayuga Lake.  

Greenport: On Long Island’s North Fork lies the charming coastal village of Greenport, located in the heart of wine country.  The beaches are great, and nearby Shelter Island offers an even more quiet and remote getaway from any hustle or bustle.   

Woodstock: Home to one of the most famous music festivals in history, Woodstock remains an historical and cultural hub for visitors.  Its natural beauty has made it a popular spot for artists since the 19th century, making it a hub for everything from painting schools to art colonies.  

from Ari Kellen | New York City Exploration http://ift.tt/2wJKsZu

East Village Institutions Closing Their Doors

3 east village institutions closing by ari kellenIn the late 80s and early 90s, many of the bohemian types who turned the East Village into a hip and cool neighborhood began to lament its gentrification.  One famous piece of graffiti in the neighborhood lamented in plain words “the East Village is dead”.  Of course, this all happened before I was born, and there are still different institutions that have stood the test of time, such as Veselka and Ray’s Candy Store.  But there are also countless places that have closed shop in this unique and historic neighborhood, mostly due to rising rents.  And just recently, three true institutions of the East Village are now gone.  Let’s take a moment to think about them:

Clayworks Pottery: When Clayworks first opened in January 1974, owner Helaine Sorgen described the neighborhood as a different world, filled with empty storefronts.  The store, selling handmade stone and porcelain pieces, has been there through the neighborhood’s growth and development.  While the store still does brisk business, it was purchased by a predatory real estate investor who won’t renew the lease.  The business’s last day is expected to be September 15.

Jimmy’s No. 43: Jimmy Carbone is arguably one of the most well-known names in New York City’s bar and food scene, thanks to his gregarious personality, podcasting, and active involvement in local events.  His bar/restaurant, Jimmy’s No. 43, was known for its unique and frequently changing selection of draft beers since first opening in 2005.  Due to a decline in business, the bar is closing.  However, Carbone, whose bar has weathered temporary closures during both the East Village explosion and Hurricane Sandy, remains hopeful that he can find a business partner to help with the bills.  

Croxley Ales: After nearly 15 years on Avenue B., Croxley Ales, known for its selection of craft beer and wing specials, is finally shuttering its doors.  The reason for the closure is unknown, but their second location in Williamsburg remains open.  The bar will be taken over by the owners of the two Triona bars on Sullivan and Third streets.  

from Ari Kellen | New York City Exploration http://ift.tt/2wQ4LVZ

NYC’s Affordable Art Spots

NYC's affordable art spots by Ari KellenMuch as I don’t want to admit it, there are some of bad things that you can say about New York City.  Thankfully, however, one thing you certainly can’t say is that they don’t have a flourishing art scene.  It’s a city covered with art galleries that allow you to take some unique art home.  Yet art in New York, like many things in New York, is expensive, often jaw-droppingly so.  While the more fabled art galleries in the city have got absurd price tags, there are plenty of places selling art that, relatively speaking, is actually reasonably priced!  I recently read a post on the excellent blog “Tracy’s New York Life” that shared five places to find affordable art in New York.  Here they are:

Printed Matter: As a non-profit, you already know off the bat that it’s going to be reasonably priced, because nobody is supposed to profit!  Since its founding over 40 years ago, Printed Matter has been committed to fostering a knowledge and understanding of art books.  While the focus here is on books, they’ve also amassed a huge amount of edition prints, ranging from leading contemporary artists to lesser-known up-and-comers.  

Collyer’s Mansion: Lower Manhattan may have a reputation as the center of New York’s art gallery scene, but Brooklyn, and not just Williamsburg, is slowly stealing its thunder with places such as Collyer’s Mansion, designed to offer livable pieces that double as art.  Here you can find an eclectic assortment of unique pieces that will keep your apartment, no matter how small, nice and stylish.  

Pierogi Gallery: Established in 1994 as an alternative to traditional “white cube galleries”, Pierogi Gallery has been fighting the mainstream since before it was cool.  From its new Lower East Side location, it hosts a unique program of exhibitions and events while also offering visitors a chance to peruse their affordable art pieces.  

Whisper Editions: By working with artists and designers, Whisper Editions offers a great collection of art and art objects.  Here, the overall aesthetic is something like “modern rustic”, but with a clean, sleek finish.  You can get pieces ranging from gold-dipped antler to prints to surfboards.

Beam: Since it was first established in 2013, this Williamsburg spot has been offering well-curated products from both emerging and seasoned artists.  The offerings here are an eclectic mix of different styles, all united by undeniable personality.  

from Ari Kellen | New York City Exploration http://ift.tt/2rgiYrw

Wanted: Subway Genius

Wanted: Subway Genius by Ari KellenThe song “Charlie on the MTA”, made famous by the folk group the Kingston Trio, tells the story of a man trapped on the Boston subways because of an MTA fare hike.  It’s a goofy song, and the story behind it is absurd, but it highlights the people of Boston’s dissatisfaction with their subway system.  And while New York and Boston are different in numerous regards, in that they can at least agree (even if their reasons for dissatisfaction are a little different).  Even Governor Cuomo seems to agree; yesterday, when addressing a crowd at CUNY Graduate Center, he challenged the MTA to look internationally for “groundbreaking and innovative solutions” for the crowding and delays for which our subways have become infamous.  And if the best solution requires funding beyond the $8 billion committed by the State to the MTA, then Cuomo has promised to find a way to pay for it.  

Cuomo’s “MTA Genius Transit Challenge” has called for three different categories: 1) signal system overhauls, 2) new subway car designs or overhauls to the preexisting ones and 3) WiFi and cell service throughout the subways.  The winner in each category will win $1 million.  When discussing the challenge, Cuomo compared other cities and their metro systems.  Copenhagen, for example, has driverless electric trains with open-ended cars, while every station in Hong Kong has high-speed Wi-Fi.  He argued that the technology is out there in different cities, for New York it’s just a matter of utilizing that technology to good use.

This comes as a different approach from before; as recently as last week, Cuomo was trying to distance himself from the MTA.  Watchdogs and advocates have expressed their approval of Cuomo’s initiative, but still have concerns about what an actual plan would entail.  Under Cuomo, the State has appropriated $5.4 billion of a promised $8 billion in capital funding for the project, yet that only becomes available after the MTA drains all of its capital resources from previous years.  To be implemented in New York City, many of the transit innovations that have worked in different cities could end up being more costly due to both a 24-hour system and the complexities from navigating preexistng infrastructure.  

Cuomo has also expressed his willingness to take over renovations of Penn Station from Amtrak and prioritize the Gateway Tunnel project, which would expand the rail line between Newark and Manhattan.  Doing this, however, would require federal, State and private funding, and how that’s going to happen remains to be seen.  

If you’d like to learn more, you can click here!

from Ari Kellen | New York City Exploration http://ift.tt/2rQNZ3d

Seaside Bars of New York

Seaside Bars of New York by Ari KellenWith spring in full swing and summer just around the corner, plenty of New Yorkers are letting themselves go outside and walk around.  Even if few New Yorkers want to take the day off to go to Coney Island just yet, and much of New York’s waterways are much too dirty to want to swim, there are still ways to enjoy New York’s waterfront during this weather, namely the floating bars, whether they’re barges or actual boats, surrounding the boroughs of New York.  Here are a few of them:

The Brooklyn Barge: Located right next to Transmitter Park, easily one of my favorite parks in Brooklyn, this 80×30-foot barge features a full bar, as well as a “land” area with picnic table-style eating.  Beyond drinking, the barge offers scuba and sailing classes, vessel tours and paddle boarding.

The Crow’s Nest: Located in that part of Murray Hill beyond where the clubs are, the Crow’s Nest offers one of the few reasons to explore that part of the city.  Looking over the Manhattan skyline on one side and the Queens and Brooklyn skylines on another, it features burgers, a raw-bar and cocktails.  

North River Lobster Company: Red Hook Lobster Pound and Luke’s Lobster are both delicious, but none of their locations are on a boat.  That’s where North River Lobster Company comes in.  This boat lets you sail around the city for just $10 while offering both beer and lobster rolls.  

Grand Banks: Modern Tribeca is a swanky neighborhood with high heels, higher prices and even higher rents, but at the same time you get what you pay for.  If you’re looking for that Tribeca experience, but on a boat, then visit Grand Banks, docked at Tribeca’s Pier 25.  It’s like a nautical tribeca, with classy cocktails and oysters.

Frying Pan: After a Coast Guard lightship sunk off the coast of Maryland, it found a second life after being salvaged and turned into the Frying Pan, one of the most famous boat bars in New York.  With its vibrant bar and great atmosphere, it’s a place that stands out.  

Willy Wall: Willy Wall is considered by many to be one of New York City’s great summer secrets, but it requires effort to get to.  It’s so far out, that you can’t even get there by subway; rather, you need to pay for a ferry ticket to take out there.  On the plus side, this means it’s less likely to be crowded.

from Ari Kellen | New York City Exploration http://ift.tt/2q4tUV2

New York’s Night Mayor

New York's Night Mayor by Ari KellenNew York, as a city that never sleeps, is known for its nightlife, and indeed it’s a $10 billion industry.  New York never sleeps, so that means the people running it shouldn’t either.  That’s why one city councilmember, Rafael Espinal, is in the process of creating a “night mayor”, who would serve as a friendly go-between for City Hall and New York’s booming nightlife and independent art scene and ensure that wouldn’t be hindered by unnecessary bureaucracy.  

The concept of a “night mayor” is new to the US, but it’s an idea that’s been steadily gaining momentum across the ocean since Amsterdam adopted it in 2014 to “transformative” results.  Zurich, Paris and London have all followed suit, realizing the potential of a thriving nightlife to kickstart a city’s economy.  In Espinal’s proposal, the focus of New York’s “night mayor” would go beyond nightlife, and also be focused on keeping the DIY spaces and smaller venues around the city open.  Espinal, who represents parts of Bushwick, East New York, Brownsville and Cypress Hills, pointed out the closure of punk venue Shea Stadium as a reason for a New York “night mayor”.  He claims that the city has gotten to the point where the only sustainable venues to survive in the city are high-end clubs or places with similar models, which is hardly conducive to an innovative arts scene.  

Many of those who own these venues are in favor of Espinal’s goal of enacting “sensible nightlife policies”, although the power of such an office remains unclear.  Many feel that current interdepartmental regulations are flawed at best.  Espinal and one venue owner, John Barclay, have pointed to a Prohibition-era law that requires dance venues to have a “cabaret license”, which is in turn owned by less that 1 percent of the food and beverage establishments of New York.  This is used as a failsafe to shut down any businesses that New York or the NYPD doesn’t want around.  In addition to adopting a “night mayor”, Espinal hopes to abolish this law.  As of yet, however, the actual structure of this office remains unknown, and Espinal doesn’t have any names in mind for a proposed “night mayor”.  

from Ari Kellen | New York City Exploration http://ift.tt/2rijvqB

The Beginning of The End’s Lawsuit

the beginning of the end's lawsuit by ari kellenStarbucks recently attracted plenty of attention due to its brightly-colored, over-sugared Unicorn Frappuccino, a fascinating drink that changes colors and flavors as you drink it.  I tried to order it a couple times just to see what it was about, but each time they were out of it, and now they don’t sell it any more, which I take as a sign that I should not be drinking it.  And apparently, they’re pretty bad for you.  A grande Unicorn Frappuccino contains 59 grams of sugar, more than what the FDA calls a daily recommended intake, setting you up for an inevitably devastating sugar crash.  But hey, at least it’s unique, right?  Dunkin Donuts certainly isn’t serving anything like this, and I doubt that any small coffee shops in Brooklyn could think of something this creative?

You’d think so, but then you’d be wrong.  Back in December, The End, a coffee shop in Williamsburg, started selling a Unicorn Latte, months before Starbucks.  Owner Bret Caretsky alleges that Starbucks harmed his business by launching their own version.  Caretsky’s lawyer points out that the size of Starbucks offers them an “unfair advantage” in the competition.  Starbucks, in response, claims that their Unicorn Frappuccino was inspired by unicorn-themed drinks that have been trending in social media, as opposed to the unicorn-themed drinks that were created by coffee shops in Williamsburg.  The End, according to the lawsuit, wants an undisclosed amount of money for damages, as well as a public apology.  They had applied for a trademark for its latte in January, but it’s still pending.  

Both drinks look pretty similar and use the name “unicorn”, but that’s admittedly where the similarities end.  The End’s version uses healthy ingredients such as ginger, spirulina and maca root, which are nowhere to be found in any Starbucks Frappuccino named after a mythical creature.  While The End was the first coffee shop to sell a unicorn-branded product, it’s part of a “unicorn” food trend that’s been around for much longer.  Furthermore, this isn’t the first time that a New York restaurant has accused Starbucks of taking one of its ideas; in the past, David Chang attacked the coffee giant for stealing the “bagel bombs” from his Milk Bar.  I think it’s an unfair thing for a big business to try and hijack a smaller business’s ideas, but what I can tell you is that Both David Chang and Bret Caretsky can take comfort knowing that their versions are a whole lot better.  

from Ari Kellen | New York City Exploration http://ift.tt/2r6EH2I

How to Avoid Looking Like a Tourist in NYC

how to avoid looking like a tourist in nyc by ari kellenA city of 8 million people, every year New York welcomes 48.8 million visitors.  And the crazy part of it is that most of the time, you can tell who these visitors are.  The stereotypical tourists who offer their patronage to the Bubba Gump’s in Times Square stick out like a sore thumb.  There’s nothing wrong with that, but if you want a real New York experience, then you need to change how you look and what you’re .  I recently read a blog post on some tips to make New York tourists better blend in, and I thought that I’d share some of them with my out-of-town friends.

Walk with purpose: New Yorkers walk everywhere they go, and when they do, they walk with purpose.  Apart from the Financial District, New York’s grid pattern is easy to navigate.  A similar tip: since most of New York’s streets are one-way, locals will cross if there aren’t any cars coming.  Tourists, on the other hand, wait on the curb for the “walk” sign.  

Walk on the right side: The sidewalk is like a second street for New Yorkers.  Keep to the right so as to not break the flow.  If you need to slow down or stop for whatever reason, step to the side so as not to get in anybody’s way; New Yorkers hate that!  

Avoid the “I heart NY” everything: New Yorkers have a strong aversion to anything with “I heart NY” on it.  Such a strong aversion that no New Yorker would ever wear it, not even a hipster who was trying to be ironic.  It’s fine if you want to, but you’re more or less telling everybody that you’re a tourist.

Be assertive: New Yorkers are confident and assertive about everything they do.  They’ve got their metro cards ready to swipe before they get to the turnstile, and know what they want to order before the line gets to them.  This all saves time, the one resource no New Yorker ever wants to waste.  

Stay out of tourist spots: A lot of people talk about Times Square, but spoiler alert: it’s not that great, and it couldn’t possibly be further away from what New York actually is.  Most locals avoid it because they know it’s full of tourists and people trying to take your money.   

Don’t look up: When walking, most New Yorkers look either straight ahead or at the ground.  Tourists tend to walk slow and look up.  

You can ask for directions: Before going out, you should have the directions of where you want to go saved on your phone.  This is a lot more easy than pulling out one of those personal NYC maps, which scream “tourist”.  If you do need to ask for directions, don’t stop somebody on the street, but rather head to the closest convenience store and ask an employee.  

Don’t get star struck: Because New York is so compact, there’s a good chance you might see a celebrity (I’ve been keeping a tally of celebrities I see, and it’s been getting pretty impressive).  If you run into one, play it cool and don’t stalk them.  Maybe flash them a friendly-yet-brief smile, but don’t ask them for a photo or an autograph.

Don’t stare: Plenty of different fashion trends and beautiful people can be found in New York City, and you can absolutely admire them from a distance, but don’t stare.  A true New Yorker has seen it all before, so they’ll know right away that you’re a tourist.

Don’t complain about the price and tip well: New York, because real estate is at such a premium in such a small space, can get expensive.  If you want to spend a lot of money in New York, it’s very easy to do so, but don’t complain about the price, and always leave a tip for good service.  

from Ari Kellen | New York City Exploration http://ift.tt/2oWJr9t