Recently in Arts & Events

New York City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez delivered his third State of Northern Manhattan and Marble Hill address yesterday, at Columbia University Medical Center on 168th Street. It was standing room only, and speech-watchers that didn't arrive early were still able to watch the event in rooms that were live-streaming the event.

The audience of local residents, community leaders, and elected officials gave a standing ovation to Rodriguez after he outlined his vision for 2014, as well as his vision for the coming two decades. 

Watch the full program below:


Democratic Mayoral Forum Hosted Uptown (Full Video)

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Several weeks ago the democratic candidates for mayor made their way uptown to speak to voters about why they believe they are the best pick. The January 31st event was held in the former Audubon Ballroom, now the Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial & Educational Center.

The forum organizers that booked the event's above venue was comprised of a group of local democratic clubs & leaders:

The Barack Obama Democratic Club of Upper Manhattan, the Northern Manhattan Democrats for Change, State Senator Adriano Espaillat (31st), New York City Council Members Robert Jackson (7th) & Ydanis Rodriguez (10th), New York State Assembly Member Gabriela Rosa (72nd), and Democratic District Leader Mark Levine (71st) were behind coordinating the participation of each candidate, and reaching out to the press panel that moderated the event.

District Leader Mark Levine was unable to attend the forum because his father had passed away shortly before it. State Senator Espaillat offered a moment of silence as the event began, in remembrance of Levine's father. (Which sequentially is where the videos below begin.)

And a point worth noting, former Mayor Ed Koch passed away several hours after this candidate forum, in the hospital across the street. Despite Mayor Koch's sudden readmission to the hospital (which alone was breaking news during the forum), there was no indication of the severity of his condition by any (panel/speakers/audience) in attendence.

Below is the full video of elected officials and forum speakers. (Running time is approximately three hours! Get some popcorn, it's well worth watching.):

The Lego Palace Theater

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The United Palace Theater on 175th Street & Broadway opened in 1930 as a combo vaudeville/move theater. 

On March 1st Lego will begin selling a new set for their modular building series called "Palace Cinema." The set, which will retail for $149.99, is incredibly detailed. The roof has overtones of L.A.'s TCL (Mann's) Chinese Theater, and the mini figures, limo, and decor all create a nostalgic view of what a 1930s movie theater might look like from a 21st century perspective. 

According to Astrid Graabæk, a lead designer on the project, "When we designed this building we had the Hollywood of the 1930s in mind." And west coast theater architecture of the 1920s/1930s made its way to the east coast as well, in theaters like the United Palace and Zigfeld.

One of the United Palace's most awe inspiring characteristics is the interior's detailed plaster work, which in addition to making one braingasm upon trying to make sense of every intricate element, greatly enhances its acoustics. The Lego Palace Cinema is molded plastic, not plaster, so the acoustics are not the same. But both buildings are built with bricks, and this Lego Palace is definitely a head turner, reminiscent to the Washington Heights Palace.

If you buy it, have fun building. The set contains over 2,000 pieces. 


"Washington Heights" Quick Review (Episodes 1 & 2)

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Okay, here it is. The "Washington Heights" (reality show on MTV) review. I was able to watch the first two episodes last night.

The good:


-Has a lot of Spanish-speaking Dominican abuelas who know how to get their cook on. 

-Stunning commercial break bumpers/scene change cutaways. Good stuff. 

-The show, in general, is Latino > other, which is long welcomed.

-Shows off Inwood & Washington Heights' geography.

-A good highlighting of Washington Heights & Inwood businesses. 

-Shows off how much parkland is uptown. Like 1/2 the scenes in episode 2 are in parks. 


The bad:


-The plots are glacial.

-Slow character development, and stories.

-The kids are "nice" people. But nice isn't good TV. I'm at a conflict, because I'm really happy with how all are portrayed as far as the neighborhood is concerned, yet recognize that this show is doomed if these kids don't start stepping up the drama. And drama doesn't have to mean violence/fights. But we need some type of conflicts that engage the audience. 

-Doesn't recognize Inwood directly, other than landmarks, as far as I can tell. But a lot of it seems to take place in Inwood.

-Not really clear to people who aren't from NYC that the downtown scenes at the art store and poetry club aren't uptown. 

-Jimmy takes the Henry Hudson Parkway to the Saw Mill, to 87 across the Tappan Zee.... Really what you should do from Washington Heights is take the upper level of the GWB, then immediately get on the Palisades to 87, or if not head across Route 4 until you hit 17, and then start north to 87. But this kid takes the Saw Mill?


In total: 


-The exterior shots, cutaways, and so on gives our neighborhoods a good look.

-The characters seem to care a lot about each other, and the neighborhood. That is endearing, and resonates well.

-Fun to watch for locals. Spotting familiar sights could make a great drinking game for residents. First to spot it is safe. Everyone else takes a swig.

-Sadly the show, so far, is boring....


It's a slow show as of Ep. 2. Way more drama / plots / etc. needed between the kids. And the potential is there. 


I hope it does well, it's great for the area.... Really not clear to me how this lands with the rest of the country.

Subway Wedding

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Congratulations to UP Theater on their "Subway Wedding" last night. I had a chance to attend and grab some video of the ceremony. 

Also many thanks to Coogan's for hosting the wedding reception.