Category Archives: free

Museum News from the Banbury Area

It’s all happening at museums in the Banbury area lately (and as a museum-lover, this pleases me).

To find out more, head over to The Banburian and see all the Museum news for the Banbury area.

June “What’s On in NYC” Round Up

Big doings in Banbury this weekend – it’s the Banbury & District Show in Spiceball Park. Never been and don’t quite know what to expect but as a new(ish)resident, I feel I ought to go and check it out. Meanwhile, back in Gotham this weekend (June 11-12) is the 11th edition of the Big Apple BBQ Block Party. Now that I’ve been to (quite a few times) and I can highly recommend going if you are a BBQ fan (as I am).


Also happening this weekend – the Egg Rolls & Egg Creams Festival (hosted by the Museum at Eldridge Street which is housed in the former Eldridge Street Synagogue). The Festival, a colorful block party, is “a cross-cultural celebration of the Jewish and Chinese communities of our Lower East Side/Chinatown neighborhood.”


Later in the month – grab your inner Gatsby and get out to Governors Island for the next Jazz Age Lawn Party (June 15-16). I’m a fan of the music and era (not the recent movie, it must be said but then I am clearly not alone as almost any of the reviews reveal). And of course, I adore Governors Island. It’s one of the best things about summer in New York City – one my favorite quick “still in the city but get out of the city” day trips and one I made (and make) whenever the chance presents itself. Even the ferry terminal is gorgeous.


Gov Island Ferry Terminal (Manhattan water side)


Gov Island Ferry Terminal (interior water side)


View of Manhattan from the Ferry heading to Gov Island

On June 18 (2016), head towards the water again but this time to Coney Island for the Coney Island Mermaid Parade.


So, there’s no excuse for sitting around the house. Lots going on. I’ll report in from the Banbury Show next week but I want a FULL report on the BBQ and egg creams from folks on the other side. Deal?

Free and Frugal Fun in Gotham

I don’t know about the rest of you but things here at Greater Gotham are a touch tight these days. Oh, I’m not on the verge of setting up shop on the sidewalk. But there is a slightly more pronounced sinking feeling while reading the news and the wallet is considerably lighter. Still, one can’t be doom and gloom all the time. One must look at the bright side or find a silver lining or something. If for no other reason than all that scowling at bank statements is causing frown lines to appear.

So to cheer myself up on a budget, I went off to find the best stuff to do in New York for the least amount of money. And you know what? As expensive as this burg is – and no mistake, it IS – there’s a TON of stuff to do for nothing or next to nothing. Here’s some places you can go and choose the ones that will turn YOUR frown upside down. You’ll even have enough dosh left over to buy yourself a snack!

  • the skint: a daily listing of free and cheap things to buy, see, do and eat in new york.
  • I found out about the skint from NewYorkology, one of my favorite NY sites and which has a great Cheap NYC section of its own.
  • Of course, New York magazine has their cheap guide to nyc: not sure how many people define the pieces at the Affordable Art Fair affordable but the budget decorating guide IS chock full of good info for cheap decorating items and sources. For some reason, they seem to have two cheap guides. One must be a previous version – but hey, if the places are still going – they may be worth checking out so I provide both links – here’s the other
  • FreeNYC is what it says on the tin.
  • So is, Club Free Time where you can find free and cheap ways to let “New York City surprise, stimulate, entertain and excite you.”
  • New York City for Free: Favorite Freebies from travel powerhouse Fodor’s.
  • Another travel site, Budget Travel has featured NYC in the Cities on Sale as recently as May 2009.
  • Not everything on the Craigslist’s Calendar is free but a goodly portion of events listed here are so it’s worth a look. Especially for last minute “I’ve got to get out of the apartment!” attacks.
  • Another regular site to check is Time Out New York’s Free Today Feature. Changes all the time and you never know what will show up there.

And now if you will excuse me, I’m off to indulge in the greatest of free New York entertainments – a walk. Got to go now and take advantage of the fact that today is slightly cooler than the last few days. Who knows when the heat will come roaring back. Have fun, all!

NYC Bike Share Test Run

Bike Share Update: There is a test run of the long anticipated (by me, anyway) bike share program during Summer Streets tomorrow. Go try it. You may like it. Go on . . I know it’s hot out. Lord above, don’t I know it. But think of it this way – if you’re on a bike, the wind is in your hair, cooling you down. But please remember – there are pedestrians as well. Surely there is enough room to share. Be careful, be respectful and be safe!


Walking the Walk in Times Square

So how do you all feel about the “Times Square As Pedestrian Mall” issue? Personally, I am all for pedestrian malls but Times Square isn’t exactly someplace I’d necessarily seek out to wander around in – even now., And it’s not about safety. I’ve always felt perfectly safe there. It’s more about the fact that there’s nothing there I was to do or see unless I’m going to see a particular show. It’s a bit like Leicester Square in London but without the actual SQUARE shape, benches or green. Maybe that would come with a more permanent pedestrianized Times Square.

At the moment, all I can think off when I get there or see pictures of the newly closed off areas is, “Damn, blacktop gets hot when the sun bakes it.” Not really the same as going for a stroll or a sit in Central Park.

I know the taxi drivers and other motorists are upset but I think they are also being a tad over dramatic about what this all means. It’s not the end of the world and won’t result in NYC folding up and going home. Major cities all over the world have pedestrianised areas – and some of the older ones have whole city centers off limits to cars (medieval streets just weren’t built for truck traffic). It means change – yes. But change happens. Pedestrians, drivers and bike riders will all have to suck it up and act like adults. Besides, walking a couple of blocks won’t hurt you.

Food Festivities Gotham Style

Now and again – in the interest or time and the remarkable coincidence that a single post can be of interest to more than one audience, I will use a post from Fabulous Foodie on here or a post from here in Fabulous Foodie. This is one of those times.

I gather that March 30 is Turkey Neck Soup Day. Because I’ve always believed that a truly wise person doesn’t hesitate to admit when they don’t know something, I feel perfectly comfortable with the knowledge and admission of the knowledge that I have no idea what Turkey Neck Soup is. Anyone? No? Moving on . . .

The weather – though a tad chill this morning – is showing distinct signs of Spring so I have decided that it is a good time to see what culinary socializing the city holds for the upcoming months. And as usual, this time of year does not disappoint. We’ve got food festivals:

  • International Restaurant Week (May 1-10, 2009 ): Normally one doesn’t associate airlines with fine dining but this event is a Continental Airlines creation. Not only do you get exclusive offers at 12 of New York City’s top Zagat-rated restaurants – you also get behind-the-scenes kitchen tours, unique menus, complimentary tastings and take home treats.
  • Ninth Avenue International Food Festival and Street Fair (May 16-17, 2009) – still going strong after 36 years. I know, I know – New York Street Fairs are all the same — except that they aren’t. Sure, you’ll see non-food vendors but the food is the things here and from 37th Street to 57th Street, you’ll see everything from chorizo sandwiches to pad thai to alligator to cheesecake.
  • 8th Annual The Cuisine of Queens & Beyond (May 19, 2009) lots to savor here but this year is special because this year Dish du Jour Magazine is hosting the first Meatball Melee where borough restaurants are invited to compete for the title of “Best Balls in the Boroughs.” Now admit it – you’re hungry already, aren’t you?
  • Third Annual NYC Food Film Festival (June 13-19, 2009) where filmgoers are able to watch food films then sample the food portrayed in those films.
  • While the Food Festivals across the city are certainly worth checking out, it would be a culinary crime to miss out on the Great New York State Food and Wine Festival (June 19-21, 2009). After all, as a state New York produces some of the best cheeses, maple syrup, apple cider, cookies and ice cream and of course, wines. Why not head up the Clayton, NY (in the New York’s famous 1000 Islands Vacation Region) and check it out. Everyone could use a weekend away.
  • Another thing New York State excels at is strawberries. Yes, strawberries. Check them out at the Owego Strawberry Festival (June 19-20), a mainstay of the NYS food scene for 29 years (Where else can you get fireworks and a strawberry pie baking contest?) and – another long time strawberry soire – the Merritt Strawberry Festival (June 13-14, 2009) hosted at Merritt Estate Winery in Chautauqua County

Feeling Widgety?

Did you ever think – I’d love to know what’s going on in New York at the moment but my newspaper is all the way in the other room? No, me neither. I’m all about reading the news online these days. Chances are you are too. If not, why not? So much easier, faster and more up to day. You don’t even have to go the news websites anymore. They will come to you. All the major news outlets have widgets you can download and embed on our desktops, facebooks, blogs… It couldn’t be any easier.

  • The New York Post has a free new widget you can download embed in your blog, facebook, myspace, etc that will keep you updated automatically. They’ve just launched the widget and are celebrating by offering those who download the widget, a free Ashanti tune to download as well. Don’t we all love something for nothing? Well this is two somethings for nothing.
  • The New Yorks Times not only has a selection of widgets for you to choose from, they have a way for you to build your own! (registration required)

Want a “widgetized view of New York? Try one of these:

Anyway – it’s just another way to look at the ever changing place that is New York.If you know of others you’d like to suggest – I’d love to hear about them. Enjoy!

Gotham Giggles – High Five Escalator

Sure – living in Gotham is like living in a fishbowl sometimes. Sure, we often feel we are on show or trapped in some massive dramedy no one told us about. And sometimes we actually do stumble onto – or even into – public performances. As they say in TV Guide, “Hijinks ensue” and that is one of the things I love about public improvs.  The latest local example was just a hop, skip and a jump from home and I know the locale well.

In addition, while I love this for all the usual reasons I love Improv Everywhere stuff – I especially love this one because of the wide range of people involved. In particular – the older man in the beard nodding sagely as he holds his sign aloft.

Stripped Down in the Subway: No Pants Day 2009

Save the Date! January 10th is No Pants Day. What does that mean for New York City? The 8th Annual No Pants! Subway Ride, of course. Now, I know January is rather chilly but if you wear a pair of sweatpants to the subway station and then whip them off once you are inside, it won’t be too bad. It will all be explained at the meeting point, I’m sure. And even if you just can’t imagine taking part, you might find yourself on the subway that day – and at least this way, you’ll know WHY all these people are running around in their underoos.

nopants.jpgActually – I’m not sure anyone wore underoos previously but with 900 people “forgetting” their pants last year, there were some very definite fashion statements being made with everything from froggy boxers to frilly pink tap pants

Now, if you don’t happen to be in New York that day – never fear. You don’t have to live in New York or even the U.S. to participate.  Places like San Francisco, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Portland, Salt Lake City, Adelaide, Toronto, and D.C. were all hoppin’ with pantless pranksters in previous years and more cities join in all the time. Just head over to The Urban Prankster Network to look up your city and see what plans they have made. If they haven’t – sign up and start the ball rolling.

Holiday Giving Gotham-Style

rock_tree.jpgSilver bells
Silver bells
It’s Christmas time in the city….

Oops! Sorry. I tend to spontaneously burst into seasonal song these days. Not out on the streets or anything. Just at home when puttering about, folding items to be taken to Housing Works or trying to remember where I put those holiday cards I got such a deal on last January. The reason I tend to carol this time of year, I tend to be caught up in activities I only find myself doing at this time of year.

This is the time of year I gather up my offering for the New York Cares Annual Coat Drive. Each December I take the coats out of the closet and give each one a long hard look. I put them on, facing up to the fact that it no longer fits — or worse that it didn’t fit last year either and despite promises to self, I didn’t lose enough weight to change the truth of the matter. Or maybe it does fit but it is one of three almost identical coats. I can’t help it. I see a great price on yet another single breasted car coat and I think, “Well, it’s not exactly like the others. This one goes all the way down to my knees.”

Anyway, I got the coat cull out of the way this week. Pulled them out, sorted them into two piles (no ‘maybe next year coats this time around): keep and give. The give pile, I am happy to report, was quite substantial this year. So I folded them up, put them in my oversize grocery cart (one of the greatest possessions a New Yorker can have) and trundled off to my local police station (the nearest drop off point for the coat drive). The men in blue are always gracious and entertaining when one enters laden with coats. Last year two of them began trying the coats on – and may I say that it is not every beat cop that can get away with a deep purple swing with dolman sleeves.

Still on the “gently used” portion of the list is packing up my donation for Housing Works I meant to do it earlier – along side the coat sorting – but then it realized that I might want to add a few more things so I put it off a bit. I plan to finish going through The Back Closet (and if you’d ever seen it, you’d know why it was Title Caps) by the end of the weekend. Actually, I’ve got quite a lot of non-clothing things as well and if I can get enough of them sorted out, I may have them come pick it all up. I mean, if it’s just clothes they won’t do a pick up (and frankly I can get them there just fine). But maybe some of these other “Lord, why on earth am I keeping this silly thing” items can be used by someone else. I can’t quite recall why I felt I needed a rice cooker but once the joy of it’s arrival wore off, it went to live in the back of the furthest kitchen cabinet and I haven’t opened it (much less used it) since.

The other reason to get down to Housing Works and donate is to do a little shopping. What? Just a little shopping. It is, after all, the holidays. And they sometimes have really cute stuff. And the bookstore? One of the best! Oh and you can shop housing works online now.

snow.jpgAnother great annual city tradition is the door staff holiday bonuses. Last year, I put together my “Tips on Holiday Tips” to address this ritual – this delicate dance of envelopes, diplomacy, and hard cold cash – that for some reason gives many New York City apartment dwellers an anxiety attack. It became a very popular landing point on the blog. It has been again this year so it occurs to me that people are still struggling with what to give, when to give and of course, how much to give. I suspect in these current economic climes, how much to give the doorman and/or your building super looms large in everyone’s worried mind.

My advice remains the same – you know what these guys have done (or haven’t done) for you all year. I know the economy sucks right now but if these guys went out of their way for you back in April when that couch you ordered almost didn’t fit through the doorjamb – they deserve more than a holiday card with a “Maybe Next Year” where the cash used to be. Did they look the other way all summer (while your wife and kids were out in the Hamptons) each time you came home accompanied by your “niece?* “Consider that your wife and kids are now home and have much more face time with these Up To Know Silent Gatekeepers.

I don’t mean to say that your building staff will turn on you or anything if you stiff them. But you might notice the dry cleaning takes a little longer to get to you or your packages might end up under something else for a day or so. Such a shame when that happens but what can you do? It’s a busy time of year.

But let’s not end on what nervous note. Let’s consider some of the best and most holiday-infused of New York’s great holiday traditions

  • the Rockefeller Center Tree: all lit up and waiting for you to come and shove your way through the massive crowds to gaze upon it. Not only that but on December 13th, a mass of tuba players will be there as well
  • The Annual Christmas Tree and Neapolitan Baroque Crèche at the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Sitting gorgeously in the Medieval Hall, surrounded by Gregorian chants and bathed in warm light, the tree and its surrounding wait to welcome those who thought better of going to the Rockefeller Center Tree and who have a more delicate design sensibility (besides, the gift shop at the museum has some great holiday stuff and this year the discounting has started earlier than usual).
  • The Ceremony of Carols at St. John the Divine: I know this piece of music is not for everyone but there are times during the piece that it is like listening to a vocal version of renaissance tumblers. It falls on the ears in a cascade and sweeps over you. Marvelous. And in such a magnificent space, the sound is even more impressive.
  • The Nostalgia Train – yes, go back in time riding in Vintage subway cars along the V line. With luck, you’ll get on one of the cars from the 1930s! Depression era subway cars. Just what the doctor ordered with recession looming. Hmmm. Maybe that’s not the way to look at it. Oh I know. Think of the show Annie. Yes, the one where she sings about ‘Tomorrow’ and the orphans are mysteriously well fed. After all, it all takes place during the Depression and right around Christmas.  So go on! Deck your kids out like orphans, teach them the words to ‘Hard Knock Life.’ I’m sure your fellow riders will love it.

* what? oh, come on. you know it happens. or if you don’t you’ve never been down in the lobby when these guys come in – a hilarious combination of slinking and cock-walking. Or maybe it’s like people having affairs with the doorstaff. It may be more an East Side thing than a West Side one.