What Would Erin Do #1

When I was beginning to think about leaving New York, a few friends commented on that I had “sucked the juice” out of New York City.  Meaning, I think, that I tried to take advantage of all the different things that NYC had to offer.  This was aided by being a student for my first three years in town – I didn’t have a ton of free time, but I could often do random things at random parts of the day.  But, I always have been someone who loved going on adventures.

Therefore, my friend Justin recommended I create a blog called WWED (What Would Erin Do), full of all the things I would attend (slash, drag him to) if I was still living in New York.  As I can barely regularly update this blog, I figured I should just make it a segment and not a separate entity.

So here we go – Week 1 of my picks for NYC today and in the coming week:

1) Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival (Sept 16-18)

I was actually a small kickstarter backer for the Festival, created by Mirman, a great standup and the voice of Gene on Bob’s Burgers.

If you have time tonight or this weekend, and can still get tickets, head out to the Bellhouse in Brooklyn and laugh your face off. (Also, the Bellhouse is a quality venue, one of my favorite places I heard live music in NYC).

If I was there, I would attend:

Saturday, September 17
The Talent Show Presents: The Drunk Show

The Bell House / 9PM / $20
Hosted by Kevin Townley and Elna Baker
Featuring John Hodgman, Ira Glass, Eugene Mirman, Jen Kirkman, Jessi Klein, Leo Allen, Ptolemy Slocum and more!

Sunday, September 18
A Special Food-Themed Comedy Show For You
The Bell House / 6PM / $20
Hosted by Eugene Mirman w/ Sarah Vowell, Larry Murphy, Ron Funches, delicious food, chefs and the world’s first caviar eating contest!

Pretty Good Friends
The Bell House / 9PM / $20
With Eugene Mirman, Michael Showalter, Marc Maron, Hannibal Buress and more!

2) de Kooning: A Retrospective at MOMA

September 18, 2011–January 9, 2012

This is the first major museum exhibition devoted to the full scope of the career of Willem de Kooning, widely considered to be among the most important and prolific artists of the 20th century.  Bringing together nearly 200 works from public and private collections, the exhibition will occupy the Museum’s entire sixth-floor gallery space, totaling approximately 17,000 square feet. 

I always recommend going to major exhibitions early in their runs, before they get crazy.  I had insane crowd experiences with both the Tim Burton and the McQueen exhibits.

I’m not very knowledgeable about de Kooning, but the retrospectives organized by MOMA are always great, informative, and a wonderful part of getting to live in NYC.

3) The Mountaintop by Katori Hall

Previews begin Thursday, September 22nd at the Jacobs theater.

Taking place on April 3, 1968, THE MOUNTAINTOP is a gripping reimagining of events the night before the assassination of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. After delivering one of his most memorable speeches, an exhausted Dr. King (Samuel L. Jackson) retires to his room at the Lorraine Motel while a storm rages outside. When a mysterious stranger (Angela Bassett) arrives with some surprising news, King is forced to confront his destiny and his legacy to his people.

I was very excited to see this play, and disappointed to be missing it.  A good friend of mine was involved in the West End production which one the 2010 Oliver for best play.  Plus, seeing Samuel L. Jackson on stage would be pretty neat!

Go see it and tell me all about it!

General Rec:

Also, if you want a great place to see basically everything happening in NYC, I recommend checking out NewYorkology: A New York Travel Guide.  I followed on twitter to see what was new and exciting each day, and the site’s calendar is very comprehensive. A great site to check out when a visitor or a local.

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Hey, its the Bowery Boys, hey!

As I move ever closer to my last day as a New Yorker (now only 13 days away), I have just passed my four-year anniversary in the City on August 22nd.  These four years have been pretty amazing, crazy, hard, wonderful… really, all sorts of adjectives.

As I think of all I didn’t yet do, I reflect on what made my four years here what they were.  Therefore, a short series on four years in New York shall commence.

On August 22, 2007, I arrived in New York, where I had previously visited for a handful of days in 2003 and for a 5-week internship in the summer of 2005.  That limited experience had given me a taste of the many possibilities New York contained, and when I was looking forward to New York from the safety and familiarity of California, I felt sure I could handle most NYC had to offer.  But after a night spent on Syche & Drew’s burnt orange couch, I was sitting alone in my new apartment on the only furniture I owned – a blue air mattress – feeling sad, worried, and adrift in this new City.

As, I began to explore my new surroundings, I stumbled upon a fantastic  guide to my new home – the Bowery Boys.

The Bowery Boys: New York City History is a brilliant podcast created by Tom Meyers and Greg Young.  Each episode the pair tells the story of a NYC landmark, person, or moment.  They do so with an incredible grasp of the facts, excellent storytelling, and a wonderful humor.

The podcast began in July 2007, just before I arrived, and was an excellent companion in those early weeks, and still to this day. (I actually finished listening to the most recent podcast #128 Hoaxes and Conspiracies of 1864 just this morning).

Admittedly, being a history dork (and at that time with a spanking new BA in History), this podcast was made more for me then most people. But any podcast that can convey serious, valid information and still turn Peter Stuyvesant and Robert Moses into running jokes, is in my good book!

The podcast helped me to learn about the world I was living in (#47 covered my neighbor in Grant’s Tomb, #54/55 covered Central Park – every New Yorkers retreat, & #90 covered Columbia itself) and others encouraged me to explore parts of New York I otherwise might have missed (African Burial Ground, Gracie Mansion.)

I recommend checking the podcast out, whether you live here or not, as it is a great glimpse of a great American city.  Here are some of my favorites (images taken, without permission, from the great Bowery Boys blog):

David Belasco and some of his lady friends

#18 Ghost Stories of New York City

Every Halloween, the pair puts together a set of scary stories from New York’s past.  I’ve loved each of them, but still think the first is the best.

Two of the tales teach us why ghost lights are so important – David Belasco still haunts his 44th street theater and Olive Thomas, a Ziegfeld Follies chorus girl, who haunts the New Amsterdam theater can still be glimpsed walking the long destroyed catwalks.

A Richard Serra piece from MOMA

#32 Museum of Modern Art

I love MOMA, both its permanent collection and special exhibits (seeing Marina Abramovic there will be its own blog post). And this podcast was a great tutorial on how a Modern museum could be birthed in the City, and a great story of a strong, important woman – Abby Aldrich Rockefeller – who battled enforced bed rest to create a cultural institution.

Henry Ward Beecher sits in Columbus Park in front of Brooklyn Borough Hall

#37 Henry Ward Beecher and Plymouth Church

Possibly my very favorite of all their episodes, and their descriptions sums it up best:

We’ve never done such a saucy show — full of sex, lies, and petticoats. Meet Henry Ward Beecher, Brooklyn Heights’ most notorious resident, and find out about the fascinating and provocative history of the church that turned him into a national celebrity.

I have listened at least a half a dozen times, and I still very much want to read Beecher’s biography The Most Famous Man in America by Debby Applegate.

There are so many other great episodes – the story of the Bronx Zoo, Robert Moses, himself, movie making in New York. And each summer they have done a series of podcasts on theme – last summer the transit system that makes life possible in NYC, and this summer New York and the Civil War.

I highly, highly recommend a listen to this superb podcast.  And to the Bowery Boys – thank you for being an excellent companion on my four years in New York.  I will still listen long after I leave.