pompeii art

secret cabinet pompeii naples satyr

Ancient Romans had a certain fondness for erotic art. The excavation of Pompeii and Herculaneum, which had been buried beneath volcanic ash as if frozen in time, betrayed a societal frankness about sex that scandalized the people of the 18th and 19th centuries. This was beyond the odd nude sculpture–they found penis-shaped objects, dirty graffiti, fornicating statues and explicit frescoes all over town, as if the middle ages had never happened. The public, they reasoned, simply could not handle this, and they hid the objects away in a “gabinetto segreto,” or secret cabinet. For many years the cabinet was only open to gentlemen of “high moral standing,” and over time, it became rather infamous. Around the year 2000, the collection was opened to the general public and you can see it today at the Naples Archaeological Museum, provided you’re over 13, or accompanied by a guardian. (more…)

satan's circus cocktail

satan's circus cocktail

I firmly believe that a historic storm is a perfect opportunity to huddle indoors and work on new cocktail recipes. Satan’s Circus, a drink I tried at NoMad last week, has a dynamite combination of sour cherry and hot peppers, and really hit a rare sweet/tart/spicy trifecta. The drink takes its name from a nickname for the Tenderloin, an old red-light district in Manhattan that’s roughly where Chelsea and the garment district are today. Picking the right name for a cocktail is a skill I’d adequate with naming a band. (more…)

8 Hours in Florence

florence-100

Traveling across Italy by train made me a little bit angry. Do you know what it would mean if the US had efficient rail service that whisked you along at 200mph? It will never happen, America is too enamored with automobiles, but as a carless New Yorker I can dream.

In any case, we made it from Rome to Florence (or Firenze, as they say in Italy) while I was still in the middle of a quick cat nap. Of course, 8 hours isn’t much time to work with, but I recommend starting with an espresso and a climb to the top of Giotto’s Belltower (all 414 steps), which beats the view from the Duomo because you can actually see the Duomo. You also quickly get the lay of the land and a bird-eye view of a surrounding city, which was a bit peculiar to a foreigner’s eyes. (more…)

Winter Storm Jonas Takes Manhattan

manhattan-blizzard-13

I think anyone who has lived in New York City for a certain period of time knows that midtown, and Times Square in particular, should be avoided. But snowstorms provide an exception to the rule. Having been through five of the worst snowstorms in the city’s recorded history within 10 years, it seems like we’re getting used to weather events shutting down the city that’s never supposed to shut down. (more…)

rome via condotti

rome sunset

I’ve heard that the best part of travel is the anticipation of an upcoming trip, but the planning and preparation feels like extra work to me. I simply want to be somewhere else without worrying too much over logistics. Fortunately Rome was sort of perfect for a last-minute getaway. You can simply walk and see beautiful, fascinating people and buildings and art without trying, even when you’re lost in its maze of streets. (more…)

Sunday, November 22 Sunset

sunset

Did you catch that gorgeous sunset on Sunday night? (more…)

Breakneck Ridge

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I miss upstate New York every October when the autumn colors peak. City park foliage is pretty but just can’t compete. Fortunately, the Hudson Highlands are a quick train ride from Grand Central and offer plenty of views and solitude. (more…)

super blood moon

super blood moon

I caught the briefest shot at the “super moon” eclipse from midtown Manhattan (the worst place on earth for astrophotography) when the clouds parted for a few minutes and I looked up from my dinner. It occurred to me that it’s easy to see why ancient people reacted with superstition and terror to these events. And perhaps dating myself, I remembered seeing Haley’s Comet as a very little kid, at a time when I had no expectations for what I was seeing and no way of recording what I saw. I’m not sure what I would have thought if my father had not explained what we were looking at and why, and there’s no way of knowing.

If you lived in New York City prior to 2009, you might recall feeling some angst when the Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks relocated from the East River to the Hudson River. Basically if you lived on the East side or Brooklyn, you had no view of grand explosions on our nation’s birthday. Instead, you may have enjoyed a sort of wild-west rooftop shoot-out with DIY firecrackers and bottle rockets.

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One World Trade Center

wtc01

Recently I started an exciting new job at One World Trade Center, and took a trip to the observation deck on the top floor. (more…)