See – One of my favorite pastimes is going to the Museums. Living in NYC, you are surrounded by great Museums. With the suggested entrance fees being raised every year it can get to be a bit expensive, so I have found it helpful to know when each Museum has “free” days. I enjoy going to Museums to do research for roles I am learning, the restored historical rooms at the Metropolitan Museum of Art are very inspiring. I also have certain paintings I just must visit, such as Madame X. Brooklyn Museum of Art has free Saturdays, which include curator talks and live music. I would also suggest checking out the wine bar on the roof at the Met. Museum of Art. It has one of the most beautiful views on Central Park. http://gonyc.about.com/cs/museums/a/museumdeals.htm
Break the fast – Food in NYC can be expensive. Brunch is one of my favorite activities to do with friends. It can easily run you $30 if you to places like Alice’s Teacup (a favorite). For those weekends you want to splurge that is perfect, but if you are worried about your wallet (who isn’t these days) Whole foods is a great alternative. Last time I had breakfast there I had oatmeal from the bar which has tons of add-in options for free and hot tea for $3.00! I love to get breakfast (or any meal really) at the Wholefoods at Columbus Circle and then take it to Central Park.
Spa – Spa days are some of the best days! NYC has a lot of options when it comes to pampering. One of NYC best features if that you can be in any neighborhood and find a $20 mani/pedi place! If you are looking for more the internet is your bestfriend. Groupon tends to offer a lot of discounts, but one of the best sites is http://www.spaweek.com/deals/#Manhattan. You can always find great deals on this site. There are also twice annual (on in the fall and on in the spring) spa weeks where you can get just about anything for $50.
Shop – Macy’s… how I love thee! I always find what I need here. A lot of the time you can find the same clothes Saks, or some of the other more expensive dept. stores, carry for less here. Macy’s has crazy sales often. Last time I went to Macy’s I needed a lot of clothes because I was leaving for the summer and needed a lot of new things. I bought $975 worth of clothes for $400. I have found that Calvin Klein looks good on everyone. Also if you have a out of state drivers liscense you can go to the customer service desk and receive a 15% discount coupon for your entire purchase.
Tourist – When friends come to town it is fun to see the city, but friends are always coming to NYC and to go out and pay for tourist locations becomes too expensive. One of my favorite things to do with friends from out of town is pack a snack and take the Staten Island Ferry at sunset. The ferry is FREE and your friends can get great photos of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty.
Enjoy – The Metropolitan Opera has a free outdoor festival of HD broadcasts. Enjoy the past Hd videos free from Lincoln Center! This is made possible by the Metropolitan Opera Guild. http://www.metoperafamily.org/metopera/broadcast/hd_events_template.aspx?id=16260&hpgraphic
If you prefer live opera the Met offers $20 rush tickets to some shows.
The very best and cheapest thing in New York are the friendships you make. Those are truly priceless!
- Do You Have A Friend That Embarrasses You? (fresh1027.radio.com)
- New York City: Metropolitan Museum of Art (alainsojourner.com)
- New York City Mothers Day City Guide (proflowers.com)
- Metropolitan Museum of Art renames Islamic exhibit, returns Mohammed images (creepingsharia.wordpress.com)
- ‘Heroic Africans’ at Metropolitan Museum of Art (africaunchained.blogspot.com)
The other weekend I went to another piano bar by myself. When I arrived, I ordered a Gin and Tonic and began conversing with a friend of mine I spotted in the front lounge when a spastic gentleman in a navy blue suit walked in. He began going up to random people introducing himself. When he came my direction, he looked at me and said “This used to be a true gentleman’s club, you would have never been let in twenty years ago.”
“I hope not” I replied “I was two.”
“What I mean” said the man “is that this bar used to require that all it’s patrons to at least wear sports coats when they came, and I’m afraid you are way too under dressed.”
“Well I’m sorry to disappoint you” I told the man mildly irritated, “maybe you should go find the people who wore jeans and inform them of their folly.”
“Will do!” said the man, who actually resembled the dad from “Honey I Shrunk the Kids!”
When I finally went to the piano room, I found the man (who I have since found out was a therapist from Chicago)lecturing several random men on their choice of attire.
It was long before the therapist spotted me and invited himself over to provide more of his practical clothing thoughts. Mind you, I was wearing black Chinos and a gray and white striped dress shirt… both from Banana Republic, so I wasn’t in terrible form.
“I have a few more words for you” said the therapist from Chicago.
“And what are they?” I asked.
“First of all… you need a better dry cleaner, and secondly, that shirt really needs some collar stays.”
Before I could say anything remotely witty, the man turned and directed his focus on a young man in jeans.
“Well that was rude” said another man who was in close proximity to my short conversation with the style expert.
“Eh..” I replied “My shirt isn’t that wrinkled is it?”
“Not at all” replied the stranger “but it could use these.” The man then handed me a small fabric pouch labeled “PINK.”
“What’s this?” I asked.
“Collar stays” replied the stranger “they’re yours.”
“Wait… you go around carrying collar stays with you?”
“Not usually, but I went shopping for my nephews today and bought a few extra, I thought you might appreciate these after your close encounter with the strange kind.”
I thanked the man for his random gift and shared a few words with him before he left. After I finished my gin and tonic, I went into the men’s room and I fixed my collar.
- Emergency Travel Supplies: Cuff Links and Collar Stays I’m… (putthison.com)
- How to Carry Your Multi-Tool in Your Shirt Collar [Multi-tools] (gizmodo.com)
This past November, I had the random task of monitoring the Santa Fe Opera Apprentice auditions in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I had to sign in hopeful singers and notify them when they had to sing. Let me just say this now…I both love and hate singers.
There was a group of three girls from Boulder Colorado who had come to audition. They let it be known that they always audition for everything, and that they were “professional auditioners”. The first two girls had morning auditions and the third had an afternoon slot, so everyone who came in over the course of about 4 hours had the misfortune of meeting these girls. The first two girls sang incredibly sub-par… in fact, they screamed through Mozart and Britten.
As the time passed, more and more singers came through from various parts of the country, some good, some alright, and some downright amazing. I was sipping a diet coke when a wide-eyed girl came up to me and said “Hi there! I think I’m supposed to check in with you or something.”
“Yes” I replied “what’s your name?”
“Rachel Willis-Sørensen” said the girl.
“Ah yes… you have about thirty minutes”
Rachel then began to comment about how she brought “bump-its” for her hair because she thought it looked too flat. She then fit the hair piece in and asked for my opinion. Personally, she looked great either way. It was around this time I noticed the Boulder girls rolling their eyes in disapproval. Rachel further explained that she didn’t have many auditions lined up this year to which the Boulder girls started snickering at. I could hear sly comments from the Boulder girls about how amateur Rachel must be.
About five minutes before her audition time, the bubbly girl came up to me and said “I have a problem.”
“What’s that?” I asked.
“Well, I forgot my head shots in another folder and when I tried printing them out at Kinkos… this happened!” Rachel pulled out a large white paper with a photograph the size of a passport photo, and another paper with a large photo of her eye.
“This is how they printed out! What should I do?”
I could already hear the Boulder girls snickering from down the hall about the amateur and how she wasn’t going to get in.
“I don’t know” I said “maybe take in both?”
“Ha! Ok… well, and I have another question!”
“What is it?”
“How many arias are we supposed to have on our sheet?”
“I think four or five” I replied.
“Because, I only have this” said Rachel as she pulled out her entire rep sheet of about thirty arias.
“I’m pretty sure they’re all memorized” said Rachel excitedly as she started flipping through her music binder when, of all things, a real head shot fell from the depths of the massive music binder she had brought.
“YES!” she exclaimed just as the singer ahead of her walked out of the audition room.
“You’re turn” I said with a smile.
Just as she went in, a male singer informed me that Rachel was a member of the Houston Grand Opera studio, and had actually covered the role of Elsa in Lohengrin fairly recently… looks like our amateur is actually quite the budding pro!
When Rachel actually started singing… every single singer who was waiting stopped talking, and moved closer to listen. What we could hear through the door was beyond astounding.There is really nothing to compare Rachel’s voice to. It’s sort of like… had Joan Sutherland had perfect diction, or if Birgit Nilsson could sing Lucia and Violetta. She is simply a rare and special talent. When Rachel finished, she came out excitedly and gave me a hug. She also left me with the over-sized photo of her eye before she left.
Life lesson? None of the three Boulder girls were asked to sing a second aria, and Rachel sang three. So the next time you’re at an audition and think you have the upper hand just because you do it so much… think again, and stop being such a bitch.
Now, those three girls are all at UC Boulder as we speak; and I just stopped by Lincoln Center to buy a ticket… because our amateur is singing this Sunday at the Metropolitan Opera National Council Audition Finals in front of 4,000 people. And yes… you are all future fans.