FOMO and Other Stories: The Best TV Shows for Really Understanding Life in NYC

As two gals who grew up far from the Big Apple, we got our first impressions about living in New York from must-see TV and Nora Ephron movies. They painted a pretty picture, an urban utopia filled with two-bedroom apartments in the West Village and liberal use of car services. This was a New York where everyone who moves here gets his or her dream job in two years or less, even with dubious qualifications. And to make matters worse, these shows that shaped our childhood and adolescent views of New York City were, for the most part, filmed in Los Angeles (shocking, I know). Apart from a few establishing shots to tell viewers, “Hey, this is New York,” shows like Friends, Will & Grace, and How I Met Your Mother were all filmed in sunny California climes.

Even many of our currently running favorites like The Mindy Project and Brooklyn Nine-Nine succumb to this, and it’s easy to tell (see: me yelling at the TV watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine, “The Eastern Parkway stop doesn’t look anything like that! They didn’t even try!”). Slowly, though, the television industry is starting to see the light, mostly due to financial reasons and the lack of tax incentives now offered in California. A lot of shows have responded like an outraged Tweeter and moved to Canada; whether we’re talking iZombie or The 100, there’s a pretty good chance your favorite show is filmed in Vancouver. But a lot of shows that are set in NYC have adapted by actually filming here. What a novelty! The result? Shows about New York that are (slightly) more true to life in the five boroughs than the ones we grew up loving. Here are my five of my favorites (and some LA-based honorable mentions).


Most Accurate New York City Apartment: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt – Everyone talks about how Monica and Rachel’s apartment on Friends is just too good to be true, as is Ted’s apartment on HIMYM. And even shows filmed here often succumb to the “Let’s give our main character an absurdly awesome apartment” syndrome (I’m looking at you, Girls and Master of None). But the Kimmy Schmidt producers did not pull punches when they gave Kimmy her first New York pad. Sure, she lucks into a job with absurd speed given that the only item on her resume is “Survived kidnapping and escaped from hatch,” but I’ll suspend my disbelief for comedy purposes. Kimmy and Titus’s apartment, on the other hand, is a tiny basement “two-bedroom” (AKA a one-bedroom with a closet just big enough for a bed) somewhere in Brooklyn. Kimmy’s room is roughly the size of the one my two roommates shared when I first moved here. A+ realism. Honorable Mentions: Brooklyn Nine-Nine Gina’s (now Jake’s) lofted studio apartment actually looks like a place someone on their salaries could afford.


Most Accurate Portrayal of NYC Bar/Restaurant/Food Life: Master of None – This show is my current obsession, and I like it for a lot of reasons, but I think its portrayal of bars and restaurants in New York is the most accurate part. It features a Z&S favorite, 169 Bar, as well as realistically portraying the constant struggle of actually figuring out where you want to eat. Seriously, who hasn’t searched “tacos” on Yelp and fallen into a deep dark hole into Mexican Wonderland. Honorable Mention: Seinfeld Yes, despite being filmed in LA. Because let’s face it: We always eat at the same four places despite having the world at our fingertips.


Most Accurate MTA: Broad City – New Yorkers do this thing where when they get to a place, the first discussion inevitably revolves around how they came to be there (I’m told this is true in LA as well, but with cars and not public transit). Broad City does the best job of showing not only how we think about how we’re going to get home from a place before we even arrive there but also the actual experience of riding the subway — the uncomfortable awkwardness of a packed train, the instant grimace at the words “It’s Showtime!”, the immediate skepticism upon entering an empty car on an otherwise packed train. But the most relatable? The intense strategy involved in making sure you get on the right car so as to be closest to the exit at your destination, and the sinking despair when you realize you’ve boarded the wrong end of the train. Honorable Mention: How I Met Your Mother – Because as bad as parts of this LA-based show’s portrait of New York are (and despite my anger at its abominable finale), “Subway Wars” is a super accurate representation of New Yorkers arguing over the fastest way to get someplace.


Best Furniture Buying/Moving Episode: 30 Rock – There are a lot of things I love about 30 Rock‘s portrayal of New York — the general apathy towards people, the overrated-ness of it all — but my favorite New York moment in the whole series is Liz and Criss’s trip to IKEA. Going to IKEA in NYC isn’t an easy task; it’s not a “Let’s all pile in the car and throw some flat-pack furniture in the trunk” affair. No, when you go to IKEA, you set aside a whole day, you take two trains and a ferry or three buses, you test your relationships with your loved ones. The table might become a metaphor for your relationship. Honorable Mention: Friends Because moving a couch into a walk-up apartment is an experience you won’t soon forget, and you’ll be shouting “Pivot!” for hours.

Law & order SVU Valentine's Day danny pino laura benanti

Best Use of the Extensive New York Actor Pool: Law and Order – Guys, I love Law and Order. I love that there is always one version or another playing somewhere on TV at all times. I love that the detectives always drink coffee in little blue cups from the street cart. But most of all, I love playing “spot the now-famous actor” or “spot the Broadway star,” It’s like getting a curly fry in your bag of regular fries in every episode: a nice surprise and familiar face, sometimes more than once. Honorable Mention: Elementary (also shot in New York!) – Watching it is basically just a big game of “spot the musical theater actor guest star.” You’ve got the Lauras (Benanti and Osnes), Sutton Foster, Katie Finneran, Celia Keenan-Bolger and so on and so forth.


January Round Up

Our third calendar year on the blog (wait…what?) is off to a good, if cold, start. We’ve been busy working and writing, and we’ve both been ailing — Scout with a killer cold and Zelda with a debilitating stomach bug — so we’re sorry if we haven’t been all that present this month. But still, despite our weary bodies, January has had its fun moments. Zelda celebrated her birthday (belatedly) and had a visit from one of her bestest pals. Scout killed it at Nerdeoke. Winter came, all of it in one twenty-four-hour period, in which we got all that snow we were missing back in December. We found ourselves housebound, the streets and sidewalks nigh impassable and public transit a mess. But snowstorms leave room for some of our favorite things: drinking, eating, and binge-watching, all of it with folks we love. Not bad, January. Not bad at all.

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What We’re Doing: We started the month, and the new year, off with some resolutions, as is traditional. Scout shared her (hopefully fun and manageable) checklist for 2016, and Zelda checked in on her 15 New Things for 2015, and added some new entries for the coming year. In other posts, we had the usual suspects: a playlist, an “Eat This, Drink, That,” and some inspiration tailored to help you find your voice and sing out (Louise). Plus Scout made a list of her must-see works of art in New York, and Zelda shared her winter beauty favorites.


What We’re Listening To: January can often feel like the longest month — endless stretches of grey with nary a festivity to break up the monotony and the cold. Plus, there are all those pesky resolutions that seemed shiny and promising on the 1st, but by week two are hanging over your head like a personal thundercloud. So this month’s playlist was a musical pick-me-up, songs from the Great White Way (and slightly off it) to help pump you up and push you toward your goals. Really, all we want is for our lives to be a musical, and these songs help us find our inner Princeton, Pippin, Elder Price, Violet, Matilda, Annie Oakley, Velma Kelly, Elle Woods, Nancy, Vanessa, Miriam, Patsy, Perchik, Millie, Lola, newsie, hippie, A. Ham, and more (but we keep it all inside).


What We’re Watching: Mr. Robot! Scout’s been in love with Rami Malek since he played Snafu in “The Pacific,” (also as the Pharaoh Ahkmenrah in “Night at the Museum”), so when she found out he was getting a starring role on a new USA show, she was sold without much convincing necessary. When that show was nominated for all the awards, it was pretty easy to get Zelda on board as well. Do yourself a favor and go watch it now: It’s keep-you-up-watching-until-four-in-the-morning engrossing and as well-written as it is well-acted. Snowstorm Jonas also brought on binge-watching. Scout finally queued up Aziz Ansari’s “Master of None,” which is goddamn delightful and wonderfully intelligent — a comedy that’s genuinely funny, realistically insightful, and not afraid to stray into commentary on issues such as racism and sexism, without feeling preachy and still staying funny. Seriously, all ten episodes were just so pleasing. Zelda finally got caught up on “Elementary” and dove into the wacky, wonderful, musical world of “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.”

We also love: Our boy, Lin-Manuel Miranda, reading Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech in the church where MLK originally spoke the words as part of the #MLKNow tribute. Our girl, Ingrid Nilsen, interviewing the mother-effing POTUS! These celebrities trying to pull off their best gender-swapped Scarlett O’Hara’s and Rhett Butler’s (Eddie Redmayne for Scarlett, seriously). Oh and THIS. THIS IS EVERYTHING.


What We’re Reading: This profile of hilarious comedienne and Girl Raised In The South Leslie Jones (The New Yorker). This thoughtful essay by author and vlogbrother John Green about why people should stop underestimating or dismissing us young’uns, and why condescension is never as productive as dialogue (World Economic Forum). This ode to the quiet pleasures, and creative possibilities, of a sick day home in one’s bed (The New York Times Magazine). This (admittedly depressing) analysis of this year’s Oscar nominees and how they fared on the Bechdel Test (Wall Street Journal). This throwback to when David Bowie filled out the Proust Questionnaire, a reminder of how delightfully, inimitably individual the (space)man was, and of how lucky we were to have him for a spell (Vanity Fair). This delicious slice of reflection and wit, about the origins (factual, fiction, or otherwise) of gooey butter cake (The Offing). And every single awesome, insightful, entertaining entry in Vulture’s Hamilton Pages, a week-long celebration of the man and the musical, inspired by dear Alexander’s 261st birthday.


What We’re Eating: This month saw a lot of food consumed in Scout’s abode; the cold just makes you want to stay in and gorge on comfort foods. Scout attempted a nostalgic recipe for this month’s “Eat this, Drink That,” harkening back to summers at the lake and the light fluffy angel food treat that Gaga used to cook up. It didn’t go exactly as planned, but it could have been worse. Our mini cakes tasted pretty good, as long as one applied a liberal amount of whipped topping and strawberries. Hopefully, Zelda’s pans have recovered. [Zelda’s Note: It took several days of soaking, three washes, and one ruined sponge, but they have been restored to functional status.] The snowstorm brought even more baked goods. Scout’s roommate, Claire, cooked up not one but two (gluten-free, even!) cakes in the twenty-four hours snowfall: a funfetti cake for Friday night, and a classier, heartier apple cake for Saturday afternoon. And back in the beginning of the month, Scout’s fourth and newest roommate, Brettlin, whipped up a classic Southern New Year’s feast of collards, black-eyed peas, a roast, yams, cornbread, and mac and cheese. Here’s to starting out the year with wishes of health, wealth, happiness, and many kitchen adventures.

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What We’re Drinking: For this month’s “Eat This, Drink That,” Zelda tackled the French 75, a classic cocktail of gin, lemon, simple syrup, and champagne. We were underwhelmed at first, until St. Germain entered the picture and reminded us why we want it in all of our drinks, always. And with the recent snowpocalypse that was Jonas, we found ourselves homebound and in need of a bit of boozy refreshment to pass the time. Zelda enjoyed an organic chocolate stout (Samuel Smith’s, to be precise), courtesy of her cousin. Scout and the roomies stuck to red wine (for the roomies) and bourbon (for Scout).


What’s On Our Wishlist: Is it too repetitive to have our eyes on the #Hamiltome, i.e. the book chronicling both the creation of the musical and the man who inspired it? What can we say, we are obsessed, and we must have it. Scout would also love to somehow get tickets to BAM’s Richard II starring David Tennant and NYTW’s Othello starring Daniel Craig and David Oyelowo. It’s really important to one of her 2016 resolutions, okay? Zelda is longing for some tickets of her own, particularly to the new revival of her childhood favorite Fiddler on the Roof and the just-announced revival of Hello Dolly! starring the legendary Bette Midler herself.

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Photos Via VarietyThe Washington Post, ComicBookMovie, Vanity FairBAM, TheaterMania.

Zelda’s Winter Beauty Favorites

Happy Friday, lovelies! With Super Ultra Historic Blizzard Jonas (or whatever the Weather Channel has dreamt up these days) bearing down on the East Coast, I’ve been forced to admit that winter has, in fact, arrived. Gone are the days of unseasonable warmth and blue skies: The cold, the wind, and the grey have swept in with a vengeance and settled down for a long, long, winter’s nap. This time of year can be rough on our psyches, and on our skin, and so we have to find new ways to stay both motivated and moisturized, proactive and pampered, engaged and well-groomed. So without further ado, here are a dozen of my winter beauty favorites, the balms, lotions, and other potions that are getting me through January with a (crimson-lipped) smile.


Burt’s Bees Fabulously Fresh Peppermint & Rosemary Body Wash: I bought this on a recommendation from the always fabulous Ingrid Nilsen, and it did not disappoint. It has become my go-to cleanser for morning showers. The scent is refreshing but not overpowering; it wakes me up and gets me energized to start my day. My one complaint: It could do with a bit more lather — I often find myself having to squirt out two doses in order to get my whole body scrubbed — but that could just be personal preference.

Burt’s Bees Cleansing Oil: I went to Target with the intention of purchasing the above body wash, but couldn’t resist picking up this guy. It feels like every beauty guru on the internets has been gushing about the wonders of cleansing oils lately. I was, admittedly, very skeptical of the trend, particularly as someone with sensitive skin who generally avoids adding any unnecessary oil to my visage. But for $16, I decided this was worth a go. And dear readers, I write to you converted. I don’t see this replacing my daily cleanser anytime soon, but I do find it a luxurious and moisturizing change of pace, especially for the drying winter months. The coconut and argan oils sooth my skin, leaving it clean and super soft (and not oily!). But the best part? this stuff smells SO FREAKING GOOD, instantly transforming my Brooklyn bathroom into a luxurious garden spa.

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Face Moisturizer: I mentioned in my last post that one of my resolutions for this year is to remember to moisturize. An odd goal, I’ll admit, but moisturizing is the one main step of a basic skincare routine I haven’t quite managed to master. I could never seem to find the right formula for my face; everything was too thick for everyday use or left my pores clogged and my skin greasy and freaking out. A lot of my favorite beauty mavens are big fans of First Aid Beauty, whose hypoallergenic products are made specifically for sensitive skin, so I decided if anyone could handle my tender dermis, they could. So far, so great! This formula is super light yet nourishing, and so far using it on a daily (and sometimes twice daily) basis has yet to make me break out. Take that, 2016 goals!

L’Occitane en Provence Crème Mains: Now when it comes to moisturizing, it isn’t just your face that needs some extra love in the cold months. My hands in particular tend to take a beating in the winter, and this cream  is an old favorite that has seen them through many a brutal January. With 20% shea butter, plus honey, almond extract, and coconut oil, this is the best hand cream I’ve come across. I keep a tube on my dresser, to apply before bed, and in my purse, for all my on-the-go lotion needs.


R+Co Death Valley Dry Shampoo: Let me be real for a second. Even in the hottest of months, I am usually not a daily hair washer. My hair, frizzy and untameable as it is wont to be, really looks best on day two, or three, and in a particularly good week I’ve been known to stretch it to four. This gets even worse in the winter, when the cold makes me want to spend as little time as possible with wet, shiver-inducing locks. And in these situations, dry shampoo is your best friend. As a pretty dark brunette, my problem with dry shampoos tends to be finding a formula that absorbs oil without making my hair flat and without leaving behind a powdery residue, which basically serves as a giant flashing sign declaring to the world, “Hey, I am a filthy dirt human who did not wash her pelt this morning! Stay back!” My favorite formula of the moment is this one from R+Co, which I got in my January Birchbox. The scent isn’t my favorite, but it does a fantastic job of absorbing grease while giving my hair volume and texture, and absorbing into my strands as if it were never there, allowing me to maintain my well-washed human lady facade.

Benefit “They’re Real!” Tinted Lash Primer: Another Birchbox discovery, and one of which I was initially very skeptical. I am blessed with naturally thick and curly lashes, so I’ll admit I didn’t really see the point of a lash primer, especially one in mink-brown when my mascara tastes run 100% pure black. But I already knew and loved the Benefit “They’re Real!” mascara line, so I decided to give this little guy a go. And I have to admit, I’m a fan. I don’t think it’s necessary for an everyday look, but for a special occasion, when you want to give your eyes a little extra oomph, it delivers. I tested it out for my recent birthday party, and it definitely gave my lashes an extra boost, perfect for an evening out on the town.


Mirenesse Mattfinity Lip Rouge in Paris: You guys know I’m a big fan of lip stains, and this one has been my absolute favorite of late. Of all the stains I’ve tried, this one offers hands-down the most intense and long-lasting color. It’s the only stain I’ve found where I can apply it before heading to work, drink an entire mug of tea, and still have perfectly tinted lips hours later. I’m obsessed with the Paris shade (not just because of the name, although, yes, bonus points): a bright but rich berry shade that tiptoes just close enough to fuschia without being cartoony. a true red shade is next on my wish list.

Bésame Classic Color Lipstick in Cherry Red 1935: Speaking of true red, my friend recently turned me on to Bésame and their classic color lipsticks. These retro shades are inspired by Hollywood starlets of the 20s, 30s, and 40s, with each color matched to a specific year. The color is super pigmented and matte, for that old-fashioned vixen look. My only complaint? The matte finish means that it isn’t the smoothest going on, and since the color is very intense that can make for a messy look, so I recommend using a lip brush to apply, and maybe using a lip scrub beforehand to eliminate any flakes.

Fresh Sugar Lip Polish: Speaking of lip scrubs, my favorite is this little wonder from Fresh. I’ve been a long-time fan of Fresh’s Sugar Lip Treatments, and this winter I decided to invest in the polish to match. Lip polishes are the answer to that perennial winter problem of chapped and flaking lips (gross). This stuff gets all that dead skin off without being harsh or abrasive, plus it smells delicious. A+ all around.

Smith’s Rosebud Salve: Now that your lips are exfoliated, it’s time to moisturize! This stuff is one of my long-time beauty favorites (seriously, I’ve been a fan since middle school). I keep a tub on my desk so I can give my lips a little love whenever I think of it. It also comes in tube form, which is easier to throw in your purse or backpack for on-the-go balm-age. And while this classic rose scent is my favorite, I’m also a big fan of the mint and strawberry varieties.


OPI Liquid Sand Nail Lacquer in Honey Ryder: I do love a good eggplant, berry, charcoal, or classic red in the winter months (I’m currently sporting Essie’s Wicked). But with the holidays of late, I wanted something with a little more pizzazz. I discovered this glittery gold wonder when I was home over Thanksgiving, and was so enamored I promptly went home, tracked it down on Amazon, and ordered myself a bottle. Even with the yuletide season still behind us, I still find myself turning to this shade whenever I want something a little fun, a little festive. It has just the right amount of gilded sparkle, and while the textured polish really does require a base and top coat (I like CND’s Stickey and Essie’s Gel Setter), I find it lasts longer than my regular lacquers.

Distillery General Artisanal Small Batch Fragrance in Sea Salt: Last but not least, this perfume, found at Anthropologie, is my new obsession. Sometimes, you want to embrace the winter, with all the cozy notes of cinnamon and woodsmoke it entails. But sometimes, you need a little summer in your life to combat all the hazy grey. This perfume delivers: The label says it contains notes of Italian bergamot, lemon, citrus, and mandarin, but to me it smells straight up like a day at the beach, with sun-kissed skin and an ocean breeze tousling your hair. Just spray on your wrists, and dream of summer nights.

Eat This, Drink That: Angel Food Cake and French 75

Most of Scout’s food-based memories come from one of her grandmothers. So when choosing something to make for this month’s Eat This, Drink That, she looked back on all those memories, running from the car as they pulled up to the old A-frame cabin on the lake and sprinting into the long narrow kitchen to find Gaga cooking something, usually dessert. Often, said dessert, was that light fluffy treat called angel food cake, so that’s what she decided to attempt this month.

Now, the recipe is deceptively simple, only six ingredients in this Martha Stewart version: 1 cup cake flour, 1/2 tsp salt, 12 large egg whites, 1 tsp cream of tartar, 1 1/4 cups sugar, and 2 tsp vanilla extract. Simple. But to achieve prime angel food texture one must follow directions exactly.

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Our adventure had already started rather inauspiciously. We were so gung-ho about angel food that we failed to realize that we didn’t have the correct pan for the cake…and because of the texture the pan is very important. So we did what most twenty somethings do in situations like this: we improvised.

After realizing we weren’t going to be able to MacGyver a pan, we opted to make cupcakes, which would be small enough to hold themselves up without the central support…in searching for cupcake pans Scout found that Zelda owned donut pans, and we intended to make some tiny correctly shaped angel food cakes as well as cupcakes.

So to start, we preheated the 350 degrees, sieved the flour and salt into a bowl and set it aside: then the fun began. Using a KitchenAid mixer we beat the egg whites until foamy. This was Scout’s first adventure with both egg whites and a kitchen aid mixer. The verdict: both are fun and fairly simple to use. After the egg whites have reached prime foaminess, add the cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form, then, continuing to beat, gradually add sugar. Continue to whip into a frenzy until stiff peaks form and beat in vanilla. Assuming we did all this correctly, our cake should have that fluffy light texture.

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Using the sieve again, gradually fold in the salt/flour mixture with a rubber spatula (cutting down the middle and up the sides, while turning the bowl—if your talented, this was slightly difficult for Scout to do all at the same time). Spoon mixture into an ungreased pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, but only if you’re making a whole cake. If you’re making cupcakes like we did, I highly suggest you maybe lightly grease your pan or something and only bake for about 25 minutes, because we spent the final part of the evening scraping each little cake out of the pans (Zelda was understandable worried about her pans. Hopefully they have since recovered).

All in all despite their toughness in coming out of the pans, they tasted pretty good. They followed the Z&S rule of “doesn’t look that pretty, but tastes okay.” We added some strawberries (sliced and sprinkled with some sugar to bring out the juices), and whipped topping of our choice (Cool Whip for Scout, because tradition, and the canned stuff for Zelda), and they looked pretty too. There’s nothing a little (or a lot) or whipped cream can’t fix!

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For the cocktails, Zelda wanted to whip up something light and a bit summery, to compliment the fluffy cake and juicy strawberries. In her book, summer means gin and something sparkling, so she decided to tackle the classic French 75.

For this drink, we used Robert Simonson’s recipe, courtesy of the New York Times’s wonderful Cooking repertoire — but with an important twist. Simonson’s recipe calls for a simple syrup, prepared at least an hour before the actual cocktail assemblage so it has time to cool. Given the time constraints of our evening (and Zelda’s procrastination in settling on a drink), we decided a short cut was in order. Bon Appetit, for their large batch French 75, includes instructions for a No-Cook Simple Syrup. Zelda deposited 2 cups of powdered sugar into a jar, added an equal amount of water, and shook until dissolved. Presto syrup!

As for the drink itself, it’s as simple as the syrup. To a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add 1 oz of gin, 1/2 oz of fresh-squeezed lemon juice, and 1/2 oz of your syrup. Shake to chill and combine, strain into a champagne flute, and top with the bubbly of your choice (preferably on the drier side). Garnish with a lemon twist, and voilà, you’re good to go.

At least that’s what we thought. But one sip of our (very pretty) drinks revealed that what they had in panache they lacked in actual flavor. Something was missing, and the answer revealed itself in the form of our favorite French cure-all, which makes any drink infinitely more exciting and delicious. Enter St. Germain.

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This elderflower liqueur is the wunderkind of the cocktail world, adding just the right note of floral sweetness to any drink, and it pairs particularly well with gin, the flowery notes complimenting the piney-ness (that’s a word, yes?) of the juniper. One dash of this stuff, a quick stir, and we were in business, transported to a summery garden party by the Mississippi, despite the Brooklyn chill outside.

The other lesson learned this week? Both of us suck at cutting lemon twists. Seriously. Must practice so as to impress party guests with our sophistication and flair.

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Scout’s Must-See Artworks in NYC

I spend a lot of time in museums ( it helps that I work in two of NYC’s largest). I also have a degree in art history. And thus I feel somewhat qualified to advise you, gentle reader, on what to see in this intimidating city of art. There’s practically a museum on every corner, and in every borough, and I highly encourage you to visit all of them for hours on end. However, I realize that not everybody has time to fit a plethora of museums into their NYC vacation schedule, or their scant days off. I get it: Not everyone has the time or the patience for that.

A few years ago, my mother had roughly two hours to spend in the Louvre (for that museum, two hours is not enough, two days is not enough… I’m not entirely sure that two weeks would be enough). So she asked me, her art history-oriented daughter, to make a list of must-see pieces that she could enjoy while she was there: the quick and dirty guide to the Louvre. She was shocked when my list didn’t include Leonardo DaVinci’s Mona Lisa. I warned her that it wasn’t worth it and she’d just be disappointed; her time would be better spent focusing on the giant room that houses Rubens’ Marie de Medici Cycle (she paid a visit to ole Mona anyway, and was accordingly disappointed).

Seeing the massive amount of art in New York on a weekend trip is a little like attempting to see the Louvre in two hours. So I’m here to distill it for you, down to the must-see pieces. And also to point out the ones that maybe aren’t worth it: Dali’s Persistence of Memory is honestly better in reproduction, I promise. (But if you must, you must, just don’t blame me if you’re disappointed).

Note: Art is a subjective thing. These are my must-see’s based on my personal taste (which is why most of them are from the 19th and 20th centuries), and on art historical importance. Also note that museums often shift which parts of their collections are on view, so some pieces may not always be displayed.


View of Toledo, El Greco (1596 – 1600) – Metropolitan Museum of Art: The oldest work on the list. I love El Greco for his lines, for how far ahead of his time the distortions were. The clouds are my favorite part of this landscape. They seem to convey emotion and mood more than any other artist working at the time.

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Demoiselles D’Avignon, Pablo Picasso (1907) – Museum of Modern Art: One of Picasso’s most famous works, and possibly the one that best shows the influence of native African Art on his style. While I prefer the later Three Musicians, this piece is one of the best examples of his quintessential style.


“The Woman in Gold” (Adele Bloch-Bauer I), Gustav Klimt (1907) – Neue Galerie: A work storied in history: Stolen from the original owner by looting Nazis, this painting has had movies, books, and many, many articles written about it. Plus Klimt is one of those artists whose work, in all its gilded detail, is best appreciated in person.


My Egypt, Charles Demuth (1927) – Whitney Museum of American Art: I love this piece. Demuth is painting a simple grain elevator in his Pennsylvania hometown, but he depicts it as grandly as the monuments of ancient Egypt.


The Dinner Party, Judy Chicago (1979) – Brooklyn Museum: One of the most important pieces of feminist art in existence, this installation traces women’s history in the traditionally female setting of the supper table, with places set for significant figures from across the centuries. The details are my favorite part; I can see it multiple times and always notice something new.


“Portrait of Madame X” (Madame Pierre Gautreau), John Singer Sargent (1883-4)  – Metropolitan Museum of Art: John Singer Sargent is one of the most important artists in the American Art canon. But my favorite thing about this painting? It was considered highly scandalous when it was first painted, because originally the strap of Madame X’s dress was falling off her shoulder. Nineteenth century gasp!


Woman Ironing (La Repasseuse), Pablo Picasso (1904) – Soloman R. Guggenheim Museum:  A far cry from Les Desmoiselles, Picasso produced this painting at the end of his Blue Period. I like this version of Picasso, where his figures have not yet reached the abstraction of Desmoiselles or Guernica, and where the emotion and the effort of the work really shows through.


The Savage State from The Course of Empire, Thomas Cole, (1834) – New York Historical Society: I think I have a thing for clouds. I just love the dichotomy in this landscape, the storm about to overtake the unsettled paradise.


A Storm In the Rocky Mountains, Mt. Rosalie, Albert Bierstadt, (1866) – Brooklyn Museum: I may be a little biased when it comes this painting. I stood next to it for seven hours a day, four days a week, for the first three months I worked at the Brooklyn Museum. Also, clouds!


Louise de Broglie, Comtesse d’Haussonville, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1845) – The Frick Collection: Ingres’s crisp, bright colors always amaze me, and I love the sort of coy, enigmatic look that the Comtesse is giving the viewer.

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Dempsey and Firpo, George Bellows, (1924) – The Whitney Museum of American Art: Bellows is one of my favorite artists, and his inclusion in this list might simply be because of that fact. In this work, he’s taken a common, working-class subject and elevated it to the scale and composition of a grand history painting.

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Unique Forms of Continuity in Space, Umberto Boccioni, (1913) – The Museum of Modern Art: One of the foremost artists of the Futurism movement, Boccioni emphasizes movement and dynamism in his sculptures and paintings.

191760Sunday Morning, Edward Hopper (1930) – The Whitney Museum of American Art: I love Hopper’s stillness, the narrative achieved with so little action. He’ll forever be one of my favorite artists.

So those are my top artworks in New York. Maybe they’re not the most famous, but they’re the ones that make me feel things, and that’s what art should do. Go forth, my friends — the museums await.


Inspiration Tuesday: If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out

For this month’s inspiration, we’re looking to music. As we search for our voice and attempt to march to the beat of our own drum, these are the songs (and books and videos and etc.) in our ears and in our hearts that help us march unto the breach of a new year with confidence and conviction, with no intention of being anything but our truest selves. We’re going to keep on singing our own song until everyone hears it. 

Art: “The Concert,” Marc Chagall (1957)

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Poem: “I Am In Need Of Music,” Elizabeth Bishop

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Book: Sounds Like Me: My Life (So Far) in Song by Sara Bareilles


Song: “Make Them Hear You” from Ragtime: The Musical

Video: Aretha Franklin performs “You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman” at the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors

Quotation: “You are enough. You are so enough. It’s unbelievable how enough you are.” — Sierra Boggess

Photos via: wikiartLeFancyGeek

Onwards and Upwards

This time last year, I shared with you all a list of 15 new things I wanted to do in 2015. Some were culinary, some were cultural, some were personal, and all of them fed into my larger resolutions of being more proactive and getting to know — and, hopefully, love — New York better. I made the list public in the hopes that it would make me more accountable, all of you dear readers the virtual sponsors of my 2015 journey. So I feel it’s only fair, now that 2015 has officially gone, to share with you how I did.


So what, in January of 2016, does my 2015 report card look like? Not perfect, but passable I think. Of the 15 items on my list, I confess I can definitively cross off only five. I learned to make cocktails, in large part helped/motivated by our “Eat This, Drink That” series (solidarity for the win!). I took a spontaneous day trip with the roomies to go apple picking outside the city.  I visited Astoria, multiple times in fact (though I have yet to visit the Museum of the Moving Image, the original impetus for this particular resolution). I went to a few museums, including the previously unexplored Whitney (the Guggenheim and American Museum of Natural History remain on my list, along with the Transit Museum, Tenement Museum, and the aforementioned MMI). I did in fact try one new bar or restaurant every month, including many spots in my new hood (favorites so far: Bahnmigos, Café Rue Dix, and Chavela’s, especially for brunch).  And while I didn’t roast a chicken, I did learn to fry one, thanks to Gaga, so I’m going to go ahead and add a sixth “soft check” to my list.


The rest of the items remain, I must admit, untouched. I did not touch Proust, did not watch “The Wire,” have yet to visit Albertine or stroll across the Brooklyn Bridge. Most shameful of all, I still do not know how to ride a damn bike. But as for my larger resolutions, to say yes to more things and use my time more effectively and take advantage of my time in New York, I think I did ok. It waxes and wanes, it’s true, as housing searches, general life stress, and budgetary concerns dampen my enthusiasm for venturing beyond the confines of my apartment. But I can say with conviction that I am fonder of New York now than I was a year ago, and most certainly more at peace with it than I was my first unhappy winter here.  It’s not a whirlwind romance like some folks feel for the skyscrapers and concrete; I do not see myself staying here forever. But we’ve come to an understanding, New York and I, reaching a copacetic balance where we can, for the most part, enjoy each other’s company in peace.


So as 2016 starts to chug along, what new things do I want to try? My overarching goals remain the same: to be braver and more adventurous, in all aspects of my life; to say yes to more experiences, because I am almost always happier when I do; to appreciate my friends and my family, the ones who make me laugh until my stomach aches and who never hesitate to offer a sympathetic ear and a hug (sometimes in person, sometimes via text or phone or Google Hangout) when I need it; and to take advantage of all the things that living in New York, 26 years old and relatively unburdened by adult responsibilities or entanglements, has to offer, because these days are fleeting.


There are a few specific items I want to add to my remaining list of 10. I want to get away for a weekend with my and Scout’s New York squad (already in the works!), I want to take a trip with our high school gang, and I want to have a reunion with my Paris filles (commence praying for the funds and, more importantly, vacation days to make these all happen now). I want to be more diligent and proactive about my writing, both on this blog and elsewhere — to be braver about advocating for my own work and more disciplined about putting in the time to write the pieces I want to, not just the ones I can conveniently cram into my schedule. I want to drink more water. I want to read more (and spend less of my commute playing Temple Run). I want to practice yoga more regularly, because I always feel less stressed and more in tune with my body when I do. I want to remember to moisturize. And even though it’s scary, I want to start thinking about what comes next — for my job, for my personal life, and for this blog.


At the end of each year or significant period in my life, I look back and ask myself three questions. Did I learn something? Did I go somewhere new? Did I make a new friend? Those are my real resolutions. Even that term seems too trivial: They are my guideposts, the points on my personal compass that tell me if I’ve lived an experience or a year fully, lived it well. This year, I learned how to make an old fashioned, to sign up for my own health insurance plan, to embrace my hair’s natural curls. I went to Dr. Davies Farm and Jones Beach and Crown Heights. I made a delightful bunch of new friends, including some who graduated from workplace colleagues to bona fide, see-each-other-outside-the-office pals. So all checklists aside, I think 2015 went ok. And I can’t wait to (lovingly, creatively, courageously) kick 2016’s ass.