March 2014

Monday, Monday, or more links to songs about sunshine

This is how everybody in NYC feels after what seemed like ages of soaking grey rains. Even if it was only a couple of days in reality. Or maybe it’s how everybody would feel if we all took mushrooms and were in a really good mood…

Of course, the change in weather also made me think of Mr Roy Ayers

Here is Elton John, in his 1976 prime, singing Don’t let the Sun Go Down On Me live in Edinburgh. Genius.

And then there is, of course, The Fifth Dimension singing Let The Sunshine In. I also stumbled upon the scene from the film version of Hair that features this song but I had to turn it off because it made me cry. I forgot how intense that movie was…

TV On The Radio brings us back to the hood with Staring at the Sun, which I have always loved.

Check out The Violent Femmes reminding us live of what happens when you forget to use suncreen with Blister in the Sun.

This last one has nothing to do with sunshine, though I suppose it is about a massive weather shift in the form of some kind of mystical earthquake.

My daughter is learning all about Carole King now in her music class and I couldn’t be happier. Nobody rocks a mid-calf length skirt like Ms King, let alone a piano…

The DIY collective community art world of Pawel Arthamel…


Yesterday my daughter and I checked out the Pawel Arthamel exhibit at the New Museum. His work often invokes viewer participation and this show did not disappoint. The main attraction, for us anyway, was Draftman’s Congress, a huge white walled studio all set up with paints, chalk, crayons, aprons, a teepee, ladders and everything else one might need to get to work making art. Needless to say, it’s a kids’ paradise. But the best thing about it was watching the adults, especially the non-artists, begin to let loose, get their hands messy and create.

It was like going back to preschool, in the best of all possible ways. All about forging a sense of community through collective action.

I took tons of pictures…

A panoramic view of the whole room

A panoramic view of the whole room

Some of the materials waiting to be used...

Some of the materials waiting to be used…

Your apron is waiting...

Your apron is waiting…

Fellow collaborators

Fellow artists

The teepee

The teepee

I don't even know what to say here...

I don’t even know what to say here…

Two friendly strangers filming each other filming each other. With their phones.

Two friendly strangers filming each other filming each other. With their phones.

On the elevator door...

On the elevator door…

The show runs through April 13 and should not be missed. There are also films, sculptures and lots of things to read, listen to and think about if you are so inclined. And bring along both your inner and your actual children as they will all enjoy themselves immensely.

Pawel Althamer: The Neighbors
New Museum
235 Bowery (at Prince)

The Ballad of Blexbolex

art - kids
The latest and, from what I can tell, the most complex narrative from the french artist Blexbolex.

The latest and from what I can tell the most complex narrative from the french artist Blexbolex.

A couple of months ago, I went in search of a birthday gift for the daughter of a friend. And as it is with most younger kids gifts (this young lady was turning six) one tends to think at least as much about the parents and what they might appreciate as one does the child. At least, if one is me.

ballad by blixbolex

An early spread in the story depicting the boy’s walk to school.

So I knew I’d hit the jackpot when I found this book, Ballad by Blexbolex, in the kids section at Spoonbill and Sugartown, one of my favorite local bookshops. It has everything I could want in a children’s book. Vintage inspired silkscreened art, a typeface that feels handwritten, a story that starts off with mundane scenes of a regular school day but erupts into full fledged fairytale territory with a witch, a princess, a drummer, panic, an armada, birds, secret messages… In short, it’s a story about a small world exploding into enormity. But the best part is that the author leaves many of the pages devoid of text which encourages the readers to invent their own interpretations of the illustrations. The tale has a happy ending, but the way we get there is entirely up to the individual telling of the story.

Which means we can read this book over and over whilst never hearing the exact same plot twice.

Reason enough to make sure that our kids to learn how to read and write in cursive, if you ask me.

I am too old for The Standard

sunset at The Standard

This is the very lovely sunset from our room at The Standard Hotel in the East Village.

This past weekend, we left our daughter (and our home) in the care of her visiting grandparents and took off across the water to stay at The Standard Hotel in the east village for the weekend. It was, in many ways, totally glorious, despite the fact that it took me 10 minutes of continuous calling to reach the front desk on the phone so that they could explain to me how the desk lamp worked, and the sheets didn’t actually fit the (incredibly comfortable) bed.

The view was mesmerizing. The bathtub was completely luxurious and the bubble bath did not disappoint. The entire look and feel of the hotel has been meticulously creative directed. The food at the restaurant was thoughtful and delicious.

But I worried that our waiter might have had, ummm, too much caffeine before his shift, lets just say. And the couple two tables down was heading for a titanic-esque drunken disaster complete with knocked over tables and slurred words. But hey, that’s what you get for spending any time at all in the east village on a Saturday night. Lets just say it won’t happen again. For us mortals, this is a Tuesday night spot.

And to that point, here are links to the hotels that I am going to consider for the next time my husband and I have a weekend to ourselves in the Big Apple.

If I, for some reason, feel the need to stay in the same neighborhood, I’m guessing that the beds at The Bowery Hotel are properly made. Though to be honest, if I never see that section of the Bowery on a Saturday night again it won’t be a real loss, in my book.

The Jane has all of the quirky secret-hideout-ness that I love in a hotel, but we would have to insist on a room with it’s own bathroom. That said, the money we saved on rates could be put to good use elsewhere, I am sure!

Whenever we go to Portland, OR, The Ace is our hotel of choice. So why I wouldn’t just stay at The Ace here in NYC, I don’t know. It’s pared down, but super comfortable and the trendiness is a bit more low key… it feels like your fellow guests are actually making things, not just drinking.

For just a little more money, we could head to Chelsea and stay at the High Line Hotel. Built in part of what was originally the General Theological Seminary, the building encircles a beautiful courtyard that offers a respite from the insanity of the city (rather than a direct chute into it’s midst) Plus it’s actually convenient to all the Chelsea galleries, as opposed to almost anywhere else you might stay.

Or we just keep it all on the DL and stay at the almost totally secret Inn at Irving Place. Because I am very much up for getting dressed up and having a fancy afternoon tea and not running into anyone I know. I think this is my favorite of the downtown spots.

I feel like I would be remiss if I did not include The Whythe Hotel on this little list. We eat breakfast at Reynard on a regular basis and the rooms are beautiful, with majestic views of the city. The only problem is it’s proximity to our actual home. It kind of kills the romantic weekend if one runs into one’s child, methinks.

Or maybe we just say f*ck it, like we did last time, and head uptown to the Mandarin Oriental, which is, in my opinion, the nicest hotel in all of New York City. Hands down. Who needs cash in their bank account when you can have the memory of three glorious nights in heaven? Knucklehead-free?

Now that sounds like a plan…

Dancing with the stars


This is an incredible beautiful dance by the Japanese company Enra called Pleides, after the constellation of stars that represent the seven sisters who hunted with Artemis back in the day. My family were all so mesmerized by it that we watched this 3 times in a row before returning to a reality that unfortunately doesn’t include shining bits of light that answer to our every movement.

Take the four plus minutes out of your morning to watch it. You won’t be sorry.

Spring is here, and so is the flu…

first aid kit

The good thing about this last burst of cold/flu season is that your local pharmacy is most likely well supplied with all of this stuff. As opposed to mid January when it’s all sold out…

It looks like the end of the tunnel is in sight. We’ve had a couple of days in the 50′s, which at this point feels warm beyond all reckoning. We have also had snow flurries, freezing rain and temps in the teens in the past few weeks. The combination is a recipe for disaster.

Which is why, though I really did mean to post this oh, back in November at the start of the cold and flu season, I am writing about it now. Because my daughter was out sick this week, as were all sorts of other folks. We can’t let our guard down. It ain’t over till it’s over, my friends, and it is far from over.

Here is a quick list of the various things I do to keep my family as healthy as possible. And I must say, we’ve done pretty damned well this year.

Elderberry tea, they say, is as effective as a flu shot if taken regularly. It is also available as a tincture, and an extract of the plant, in pill form, called Sinupret works wonders on sinus infections. Elderflower tea works more on upper respiratory problems, while the black elder, which is also more tasty, is what people tend to take for flu and chest issues.

Honey is just delicious. Turns out it is also great for calming a cough. In a tea, with lemon juice, hot water and apple cider vinegar, it can potentially cure whatever ails you. This is the drink I usually make at the first sign of cold symptoms. You can also add a little cayenne pepper to the mix, if you (or your kid) can take the heat.

Oil of Oregano is a powerful antibiotic used to treat respiratory tract disorders, gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, menstrual cramps, and urinary tract disorders. It is overwhelmingly potent, so dilute it at least 1:3. I usually take a drop of this while I’m waiting for the water to get hot for my apple cider vinegar tea. I would not recommend giving it to your kids, unless you don’t want them to trust you ever again. It tastes horrible.

I first discovered Oscillococcinum when I had a cold in Paris, which sounds much more romantic than it was, let me assure you. I worked really really hard to learn how to pronounce it so that I didn’t sound like a fool to the pharmacist when making my purchase… Actually, this was my introduction to homeopathy, a practice that is as common in Europe as taking aspirin is here in the States. You put a bunch of these sugary pellets under your tongue as soon as you think you may be getting sick, and they magically make the illness go away. But you have to catch it at the onset. This is great for kids, as the medicine is so mild, and it tastes good.

ColdCalm is just like Oscillococcinum, but for sniffles more than aches and fever. Same pros and cons apply. My daughter LOVES this stuff.

Chestal is basically honey in a jar. And yet it actually works surprisingly well as a cough suppressant. One thing to note: the kids formula is IDENTICAL to the adult version. It’s just a marketing thing to put the word “kids” in happy crayon writing on the bottle. Everybody can drink from the same vessel, in this case.

Put a drop of sinus oil under each nostril and you can feel the passages clearing up instantly. A combination of eucalyptus, peppermint, tea tree and thyme, you can also put a few drops of this in the humidifier before bedtime to help you breathe more easily through the night.

As might be evident from the extensive nature of this list, I have tried all sorts of homeopathic kids medicines, and for whatever reason, that I honestly cannot explain, Natrabio’s Children’s Cold and Flu Relief drops are the ones that work for us. So I now always stock it. I notice it is often sold out, which is reassuring, if also a bit annoying.

And lastly, but potentially most importantly, the twin pillars of Goldenseal (another natural antibiotic) and Astralagus (used in Chinese medicine to support the immune system) in tincture form are also quite helpful when taken at the onset of symptoms. I tend to give mild tasting Astralagus to my daughter to avoid her demanding some kind of ice cream chaser, as she does with some other drops I try to get into her.

I’m sure there’s lots more, but this should get you through at least these last few weeks before Spring settles in for good. Please feel free to add your own favorites in the comments. I am all about learning new tricks wherever I can!

I still love Gilligan’s Island

Every weekday afternoon, when I was a kid, my sister and I would come home from school and settle down in front of the TV for a blissful hour of Batman and Gilligan’s Island.

I am currently reliving this little habit, with my daughter subbing in for my sister, who lives far away on the island of Manhattan and has her own after school activities these days. What with it being #throwbackthursday and all, I figured I’d share…

We’ve watched all the Batman episodes, so it’s on to Gilligan’s Island. And I’ve got to say, the show is potentially even better now than it was then, as I can now appreciate the total absurdity of the whole situation, rather than being slightly bothered by the number of outfits Ginger and Mrs Howell had packed for a three hour cruise. (as a 7 year old, that drove me CRAZY)

I hear they made a movie where the castaways are rescued. I’m not sure I ever want to see it… Somehow I feel a bit better knowing that somewhere out there, 7 people are running around on a tropic isle, listening to the radio and coming up with crazy and impossible plans for their rescue. We can all learn a little something from their optimism.