THOUGHTS: Woah, woah, woah was this gym crowded! This is definitely one of those “shower at home” gyms, but like a lot of people who have such memberships in midtown, its a commuter convenience. This facility seemed to be in dire need of a renovation. I’m not so sure I would have gone to this location if I knew of the lack of towel service. Mind you I had to run to the theatre district to pick up tickets and then back to the Upper West Side to shower. Since this facility has a sauna, I can’t necessarily imagine running around Manhattan with two towels in my bag, let alone one covered in sweat.
Equipment (* * * Three Stars) This place could definitely use an upgrade, but my major complaint was the heavy crowd downstairs.
Staff (* * * Three Stars) The club manager was nice enough, but tried to sell me a membership without even giving me a tour, that is definitely a red flag for me.
Cleanliness (O Stars) Harsh? Here’s why, sure NYSC had cockroaches running around it’s sauna, but at least you could sanitize your equipment after each use. Not only was the weight room completely out of sanitizing spray for the equipment, no one seemed to mind. Not to mention there were literally puddles of urine surrounding the toilet and urinal in the men’s locker room. I don’t just blame the maintenance staff for that one- I blame the people who go here.
Amenities (* * Two Stars) While there is no towel service, at least the gym HAS showers and a sauna… use at your own discretion.
OVERALL RATING ( * * Two Stars)
Who is Bally Total Fitness, Midtown East for? Honestly, people who are able to shower at home, don’t mind waiting for free weights and would rather use cardio equipment.
Last summer, I was with my friends Whitney and Megan when Whitney asked us to accompany her to a bar near her Upper West Side apartment. Whitney was new to online dating and wanted us to join her in loosening up over libations, then leave shortly after her date arrived. We obliged.
We found a nook at Gin Mill when Megan asked “So, what does he look like?”
“I don’t know” confessed Whitney.
We both snapped at her “what!?”
“He didn’t have a picture… but I figured, he’s 6’5″ so…”
I nearly choked on my drink. “Whitney! Always make sure they have pictures, or ask them for their Facebook profile so you can at least make sure they aren’t trying to hide something.”
Megan shook her head with disapproval “Well do YOU have your pictures up?” Whitney not only had put pictures of herself on the website, but gorgeous ones from a recent, professional photo shoot she had just taken with Canadian photographer, Phil Crozier. “Well,” she continued “let’s just hope he doesn’t look like Shrek.”
“Stop it!” yelled Whitney “…and guys? Please pretend to be laughing at some hysterical joke I just told when he comes in. I want him to think I’m funny.”
“But you ARE funny” said Megan. “I’m sure we can fake a good laugh for you.”
“So… what does he do?” I asked.
Whitney’s eyes slowly scanned to the floor. “He’s currently unemployed, but he volunteers at a hostel for housing…”
Megan nearly choked on her cocktail. “WHITNEY!”
“What!? He wrote me and asked me out. What was I supposed to say… no?”
We both stared at her for a second before yelling “YES!”
“Ugh… okay,” said Megan while staring out the window at the line of arriving patrons. “Let’s guess which one he is.” We had fun for a few minutes guessing the most awkward of dates for Whitney. Megan then spotted an unsightly fellow walking on the sidewalk with unkempt hair , severely weathered clothes, and a quality I used to bestow upon children’s book characters I like to call cheese mouth. Again, I was a strange child, and found that nearly all illustrated characters in my books who weren’t the antagonist looked like they ate pounds and pounds of cheese without ever brushing their teeth. “Oh My! Whitney… can you imagine if thats him!?” We all laughed and teased her at the thought.
Whitney rolled her eyes. “Stop that! Thats mean…” We realized the man was now making his way for the bar, and, he was significantly taller than everyone else in the line to get in. “Oh. My. Goodness… thats my date.”
The reaction Megan and I shared, while wholly inappropriate, was luckily just what Whitney had asked of us before her “gentleman caller” arrived.
“Hi, I’m Earl.”
Megan and I both had tears streaming down our faces while we made our introductions between laughing spasms over our friend’s unfortunate online date choice. Whitney was not laughing.
My attempt at salvaging the moment would probably have failed with anyone else. “She’s just… so funny! This girl!”
“Well,” Megan gulped the remaining three quarters of her cocktail “Jacob was JUST going to walk me home. Nice meeting you! BYE!” Megan and I ran out of the bar faster than a herd of antelope trying to avoid being eaten for dinner. I looked at Megan”What!?” We slowed our pace “we would have stayed laughing like that all night and you know it!”
“True.” I turned back to see Whitney looking out the window like a family pet being left in the kennel while we went for a vacation some place exotic. Megan and I stopped for deli sandwiches
“Note to self…” Megan unwrapped her Philly Cheesesteak. ”Whitney is not allowed to set me up on blind dates.”
Today, while random chunks of the population were preparing to disappear off the face of the earth, a lot more of us decided to get out and enjoy ourselves. What would make a better Rapture celebration than a beer and burger outing? Exactly… So I went this afternoon with my roommates to one of my favorite Upper West Side Restaurants. Since Chef Andy D’amico opened Nice Matin in 2003 (you can read about it below), the restaurant’s most popular dish was- you got it, the 5 Napkin Burger. Given the dish’s obvious successs, Chef Andy and Simon Oren gave the burger it’s own chance, spawning into five different locations in New York, Boston and Miami. Stop by the 9th Ave. and 45th street location, or the one at 84th and Broadway if you live in Manhattan. My favorite dish? You got it, The Five Napkin Burger. At 14.95, this decadent classic features 10oz. of custom ground beef, caramelized onions, gruyere cheese and rosemary aioli on a soft white roll. Pair the burger with your favorite beer for the perfect Saturday evening treat.
- Oh Rapture! Oh Holy 5 Napkin Burger! (jacoboheme.wordpress.com)
- Best Burger in NYC? (jstoddardfinalblog.wordpress.com)
- Rapture Fizzles After Sponsor Viagra Pulls Out (prbreakfastclub.com)
- Make This: Moist and Healthy Herb Chicken-Tofu Burgers (fitsugar.com)
- The Rapture Defy End of World, Return to DFA With New Album This Fall (spinner.com)
Delivering a fierce “Tour de Nice”, Chef Andy D’amico offers to the Upper West Side of Manhattan a delicious culinary excursion to Nice, France as well as a full gluten-free menu for those patrons with celiac disease or general health concerns. While famous for their Croque Madames et Monsieurs, I prefer the Poached Eggs Provencal at brunch time. The dish features ratatouille in a crisp puff pastry with a delicious tomato cream sauce. For dinner, it is my humble opinion that no one does Grilled Salmon better, at least in this neighborhood. Add to your entree the best escargot in town for a truly French experience. Remember, salmon is quite possibly wine’s friendliest fish, so choose anything from a Champagne to cleanse the fat from your palate or a medium-wieght pinot that would pair just as well. Be sure to try this “tour de force” on your next “tour de France.”
- Make Nice at Nice Matin (jacoboheme.wordpress.com)
- Oh Rapture! Oh Holy 5 Napkin Burger! (jacoboheme.wordpress.com)
- The Pour: At Nice Matin, a Wine List That Hits All the Marks (nytimes.com)
- Matin Ssenoga : Uganda (kiva.org)
- French Riviera – Nice, France (travelpod.com)
What is it about the thought of an impending snow day that sends everyone into a flurry? Yesterday, I decided for whatever reason that it would be smart to take a cab home from school. I know- traveling by car is exactly the type of thing you don’t want to do in a weather-induced state of emergency. Hey now, I was tired, and I was really missing a friend of mine I’ve been neglecting lately… Sleep.
Anyways, I hailed a taxi from the corner of 122nd and Broadway, from where my driver decided to turn right/ uphill so we could take Riverside Drive. We almost made it to Claremont when the vehicle started sliding all over the place and inevitably backward towards Broadway. I nervously pattered a catalogue of four letter words as the taxi’s rear bumper neared our starting point with impressive haste. When my driver finally, and thankfully regained control of the vehicle I asked him if he could take a different route, to which he replied “Get out, we’re going to die… please take a snow mobile!”
Its moments like these that make me miss New Mexico, and also make wonder why my friends ever question my desire to stay inside when the white stuff pays a visit. Luckily for me, my good friend Danielle (see Vampire Jacob? for pic) was able to do the impossible this afternoon in making me join her and several of our friends for a snow day visit to Central Park.
Initially intended to be a sledding adventure, my friends and I decided to wait for our friend Adele in an untouched snowy patch of awesome near the West 72nd street entrance to Central Park. While she made her way to join us, we began building snow men, and of all things, a fort. After about an hour of sculpting (and laughs from passersby), a group of elementary school children enthused by our architectural efforts ran inside our fort.
The children quickly suggested a snowball war against the female members of our group. In retaliation, our girls unsuccessfully tried to claim a giant evergreen to hide under as the munchkins attacked them fiercely with impeccable aim. Mind you, my group totaled 6- Lindsey, Adele, Nicole, Danielle, Tyler and me. This left me and Tyler to deal with about 10 children setting up camp in our fort while charging after the girls.
After watching what seemed like a mash-up gone wrong between Lord of The Flies and Gossip Girl, we convinced the children that, since they worked so well together, to be on their own team, with the understanding they were free to take our fort when we abandoned ship. With a wicked smile, the self-proclaimed leader, and Jacob-proclaimed Lord of The Flies agreed.
Now that the girls were safe behind our fortress walls, we were able to rightfully declare a snow war. Hey now, I know what you’re thinking… six college students against a group of seven year olds seems highly unfair, but I must impress upon you the old adage that dynamite comes in small packages.
We must have lasted about five minutes while the children feverishly attacked us. Each of us was targeted and successfully hit in the head with several snowballs as onlookers laughed and added sports commentary while taking pictures and video. After we realized that we had clearly been beaten… and pummeled, we retreated, and gave up our fort for the children to occupy. Before we took to the yellow stained road, several of the munchkin’s parents and babysitters thanked us for playing with their kids as well as entertaining them.
As we were about to head back toward the street, we all decided on an impulse to continue with our initial plan to go sledding. After about fifteen minutes of wandering about the beautiful winter wonderland that I wish Christmas could be, we found ourselves at the Bethesda Terrace cheering a group of daredevils (and eventually Tyler) as they raced down a makeshift hill and ramp on the steps which lead down to the famous fountain. Finally, just east of the terrace, we found ourselves claiming an empty pathway to sled on.
After about thirty minutes of laughs, failures and screams, we slowly meandered back to Central Park Park West where I bid my friends goodbye out of sheer necessity to thaw. I’m happy to report that my toes still number ten and they are indeed now warm and dry