June Issue: Summer Reading

I asked local, independent booksellers to recommend books to read this summer.

Summer Reading


Motherland

Amy Sohn
August 14
Amy Sohn achieved infamy for her Park Slope-baiting Prospect Park West, and she once again has her sights on the rich and feckless. Motherland follows characters from Brooklyn, Cape Cod, and Manhattan through connected stories of infidelity, ambition, and reinvention. Of course, no Westchesterites can relate.

Click through to read the rest of the article online, or download the PDF above.

The Daily Traveler: World's Fair Sites

Of all of the slideshow assignments I've received from the Condé Nast Traveler to date, so far this has been my favorite to research and write. It's inspired a new travel goal: to visit as many World's Fair sites as possible.

15 Amazing Structures Originally Built for World's Fairs

The Crystal Palace
1851 Great Exhibition; London, England

Though it's the only building on this list that's no longer around, Hyde Park's Crystal Palace—constructed for the 1851 Great Exhibition out of nearly a million square feet of glass—is important because of the impression it made and the impact it had on the architecture of subsequent World's Fairs. The 1853 New York Crystal Palace in New York City; the 1876 Horticultural Hall in Philadelphia; the 1879 Garden Palace in Sydney; and the still-standing 1900 Grand Palais des Champs-Elysées in Paris all took design cues from London's giant iron-and-glass exhibition hall. After the Exhibition closed, the Crystal Palace moved from Hyde Park to Sydenham, where it became an educational center and amusement park, with fountains and water towers, statues, and fair-like events, including car races and ballooning. The palace was plagued by financial problems, but it was ultimately destroyed by a giant blaze in 1936. At the Crystal Palace Park today, you can still see some of the ruins, including cast-iron dinosaurs that were once part of a natural history exhibit.

 

Click through to see the rest of the slideshow at the Condé Nast Traveler.

 

Photo Courtesy of the  Crystal Palace Foundation

The Daily Traveler: Hotels in Old Forts

 

Old Forts Make Cool Hotels—See These Photos for Proof

For the Condé Nast Traveler website, I created a slideshow old forts that are now hotels, from the Victorian-looking officers' quarters in San Francisco to a Kasbah in Morocco.

Cap Rocat

Mallorca, Spain

On a secluded peninsula in the Bay of Palma, Cap Rocat is a 19th-century military fortress that's been transformed into a 24-room hotel. You have to cross a drawbridge to enter, and the old "bunker," or gunpowder depot, is now the setting for cocktails or private events. But to get the best views of the bay, you should leave the bunker and peek out over the fortress walls on the rooftop terrace.

Click through to see the rest of the slideshow at the Condé Nast Traveler's website.

 

Photo courtesy of Cap Rocat

DVD Review: Dark Tide

Dark Night, Dark Sea, Dark Wetsuits, 'Dark Tide'

The rest of Dark Tide picks up a year later, and clarity does not come with the passage of time. Mathieson, still saddled with guilt, has traded free-diving with sharks for a life as a safe-and-boring (and financially strapped) seal-watching tour guide. Her estranged husband and former documentarian Jeff (Olivier Martinez) returns with a proposition to make her some money and get her back in the water, taking a wealthy adrenaline junkie, Brady (Ralph Brown), and his son out to go swimming with sharks. Though Mathieson is angry with Jeff, haunted by Themba, opposed to shark tours, certain that the dive would be too dangerous for the inexperienced visitors, wary that mating season would make the sharks quick to bite, and hostile to the idea that she should give into the whims of a craven thrillseeker just for his money, she agrees to take him, anyway.

No, it doesn’t make sense. And it just gets murkier from there until the visuals of movie become as confused as the narrative, eventually devolving into an indistinguishable group of people in black wetsuits swimming on a black ocean against a black sky in a tumultuous rainstorm. Yes, that’s the climax of the movie—and it is near-impossible to follow.

 

Click through to read the rest of the review at PopMatters.

DVD Review: W.E.

There's a Lot of Moviemaking Going on in W.E.

"...The jumps in time are not the only trick in Madonna’s directorial grab-bag. There’s a lot of moviemaking going on in W./E.. Madonna cuts a lot. She incorporates both 16 mm and Super 8 film. She pulls in tight on her subjects, honing in on faces, eyes, feet, and knicknacks with a not-so-steady steadicam. As the emotions get more and more heightened in the movie, the close-ups get closer, and the images shakier.

On top of all of those flourishes, she pans the camera constantly (usually as music swells in the background). In the one behind-the-scenes look included on the Blu-Ray—the sole extra feature, which lacks even a commentary—Madonna explains that her background in dance influenced her camera swirls and swoops, as she is inspired by “movement”. The intention definitely comes across, as she circles the camera around her subjects until it becomes almost dizzying.

Yet while the shooting style of the movie is very fluid, the look of the film also comes across as extremely stiff. Sure, half of the appeal of the movie is seeing Arianne Phillips’ costumes, especially with respect to Simpson, known for being a fashion plate in her day. (Phillips was nominated for an Oscar for her efforts.) But both Simpson and Winthrop are styled to within an inch of their lives. You never see errant locks of hair; their outfits are perfect. The extra feature included in the Blu-Ray notes that each woman has 30 to 40 costume changes throughout the film.

Their living quarters are similarly impeccably art-directed, thereby giving off the impression that no one actually lives in them. Madonna can move the camera as much as she wants—in the end, it still comes across like she’s filming carefully assembled magazine photo shoots."

Click through to read the rest of the review at PopMatters.

Time Out New York: Apartments Issue

New York Apartments 2012: East Village

Time Out New York does a great feature package on apartment hunting every year, and this time around I got to profile three East Village hunter/renters. (Each profile also has a slideshow of the apartment.)

2 Cooper, luxury 2BR apartment, East Village

Mid-Range 3BR apartment, East Village

Bargain 2BR apartment, East Village

I also got to hear (and retell) this crazy story about a major setback that occurred during one apartment search:

THE SEARCH: After looking on sites like Naked Apartments (nakedapartments.com), StreetEasy (streeteasy.com) and Craigslist (craigslist.org)—the latter of which can be “very misleading,” notes Hull—the three roommates found an apartment and signed the papers. “On our move-in day, [the broker] called and told us there was one guy still in the apartment,” says Van Brunt. “John and Tony went to talk to him. He opened the door with the chain on and said, ‘This is my apartment, and that’s why I’m in here and you’re out there.’ We were basically homeless for two weeks. We found another apartment managed by the same company on 9300 Realty [9300realty.com]. It was a nicer place, with a balcony, a dishwasher and washer-dryer, [in] a better location. We said, ‘Give us that apartment at the agreed-upon rent, even though it should be a little more, and prorate us [this month], and we’ll be fine.’ ”

 

Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

May Issue: Grand Central Feature Package

 

The Commuter's Guide to Grand Central Terminal
Where to eat, shop, marvel, have a cocktail, play a round of tennis, and shoot a film—all while rushing to make the 6:12.


Grand Central Terminal may be in New York City, but it really is our domain. City residents never pay much mind to the beautiful Beaux-Arts building unless they have to take a trip to the northern suburbs. We Westchester commuters scuff our shoes daily on the terminal’s Tennessee marble floors.

Still, we don’t always take the time to appreciate the smart design, the impressive engineering, the meticulous planning that goes into keeping the transportation hub humming. Often, because we’re running for a train. But, before we pop our earbuds in and sit on a comfy Metro-North seat, we should take a moment to soak it all in. After all, it’s one of the greatest buildings in New York—at least according to New York magazine, which gathered a panel of experts in early 2011 to name the best New York City buildings of all time. “Grand Central creates a new type,” Barry Bergdoll, chief curator in the department of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art, told the magazine. “It’s really an indoor urban room that’s absolutely stunning.”

If that wasn’t enough, within its walls there are retail stores brimming with worthy last-minute gifts, gourmet goodies at every turn, a cocktail lounge that looks like it was transported from the piazzas of Florence, and even a tennis court. Here, we present our commuter’s guide to getting the most out of Grand Central. At the very least, it’ll give you another reason to feel superior to those Long Islanders, who have to come into the City via the hellish subterranean maze that is the current Penn Station.


To read the rest of the article, either click through or download the PDF above.

May Issue: Summer Movie Preview

Hot Box Office
How to navigate this year's summer cinema.

Rock of Ages
June 15, Warner Bros. Pictures
Tease your hair and pull your studded leather jacket out of storage: it’s time to head back to 1987, when hair bands provided the soundtrack to adolescence—and this movie. Based on the Broadway show, the film, about two kids in Los Angeles trying to fulfill their rock ’n’ roll dreams, features songs by Def Leppard, Poison, Foreigner, Warrant, Twisted Sister, Whitesnake, Journey, and other ’80s mix-tape staples.

To read the rest of the article, either click through or download the PDF above.