Think Small This Week, and Support Your Independent Bookstore

Bank Street BookstoreWe love Barnes& Noble, we really do, but let’s face it, especially in a huge city like New York, it’s great to support the little guy–in this case, your local independent bookstore.
So you’ll be happy to learn that it’s the first ever Independent Bookstore Week NYC, ending on Saturday, Nov. 21 with America Unchained Day. (No actual chains are involved in this event.) Consumers across the country are urged to break free (Get it? Yes, it was an analogy…) of gigantic mega chain stores, and shop at neighborhood institutions.
Independent booksellers have banded together to promote interest in and awareness of their stores, and have tossed author appearances, readings, and special events galore into the mix.
Participating stores include veterans like Three Lives and St. Marks, as well as newbies such as Idlewild in midtown Manhattan. Other well-known names include Bank Street Books; Bauman Rare Books; the Scholastic Store; and the Argosy Book store.
There’s even a photo scavenger hunt for the plucky: To enter, participants take photos of themselves with various objects at designated stores across the city. (For more info. go to ibnyc.wordpress.com)
Despite the state of the economy and the inevitable closing of several independent stores, other bookstores in the city, continue, oddly enough, to thrive. Some stores, like Book Culture in the Columbia University area, are actually expanding.
So forego the big guys this week, and pick up that bestseller for Uncle Fred at that little shop around the corner, not the one with the two aisle-wide shopping carts.

Let the Race Begin

David Mamet’s new play, which has a provocative four-letter word of a title, starts performances on Broadway tonight at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. The four-person Race stars James Spader (Boston Legal), David Alan Grier (In Living Color, Broadway’s A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum), Kerry Washington (The Last King of Scotland, Ray), and Richard Thomas (TV’s The Waltons, Broadway’s Democracy) and is directed by Mamet, in his Broadway directorial debut. The play is about a law firm – made up of two black lawyers and one white one – who have the opportunity to defend a white man charged of a crime against a young black woman. The production will have its official Broadway opening at the Barrymore on December 6.

Put Down That Custard Pie Until You’ve Been Properly Trained

Macy's Thanksgiving Day ParadeBeing a clown takes more than sticking on a funny red nose–at least if you want to be one of the clowns in the Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (and, we suspect, elsewhere as well.)
With New York’s most famous parade looming at the end of next week, wanna-be clowns got a crash course this past weekend in, well, clowning around, from the masters themselves—professional clowns from The Big Apple Circus.
The “Clown U” Program (Well, what did you think it would be called?) was held in Macy’s in preparation for the 83rd annual Thanksgiving Day Parade on November 26. During the two-hour workshop, the volunteers learned pratfalls, sight gags, comedic timing, various silly tricks, and clown do’s and don’ts. They report for duty at 6 AM on parade morning, rain or shine—in full clown regalia, of course.
Almost 850 clowns will march next week. They will divide into 25 different groups, ride uptown on the Clown Bus, gather at “Clown Corner,” and get ready to chuckle.
Some of the clown groups? Pirate Prankster Clowns; Malt Shop Clowns; Safari Clowns with Butterfly Kites; Half-Baked Holiday Sweet Clowns; and Silly Seaside Clowns. Really, it doesn’t get any better than that.
All we can say is, that’s a lot of banana peels.
Check back here next week for details on the parade itself…

Chicago Discount Ticket Offer Code

Save 50% on Tickets CODE IS: CHNTX119
Chicago Discount Ticket Code on Broadway in New York City

$50.25 – $76.50 on select performances of Chicago on Broadway
These prices apply to performances through February 7th 2010
and are available on select orchestra and front mezzanine seats.

CODE IS: CHNTX119
Prices are
$76.50 – Select Orchestra / Front Mezz Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Sunday evenings
$60.00 – Rear Mezzanine on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Sunday evenings
$64.00 – Select Orchestra / Front Mezz on Saturday & Sunday matinees
$50.25 – Rear Mezzanine rows A-D on Saturday & Sunday matinees

Tickets available at the box office, BROADWAYOFFERS.COM or call 212-947-8844 and use code CHNTX119

All prices include $1.50 facility fee. This offer is valid for performances from 11/12/09 – 2/7/10 excluding all performances from 11/26/09 – 11/29/09 and 12/21/09 – 1/3/10. The offer is NOT VALID for Center Orchestra locations. Each order is limited to a maximum of 25 tickets for this promotion.

Discount Broadway Ticket Code supplied by http://www.nytix.com/

Ready For a Revival, Coney Island Gets a Reprieve

Coney IslandBe honest, now: When you think of New York City’s Coney Island, do you think, “Ah, now there’s a destination?” Or do you think, ”Hmm, dated relic of ancient amusement park days?”
Well, all that is about to change. Last week, Mayor Bloomberg announced that the city has made a deal to acquire almost seven acres in Coney Island in order to expand and renovate the amusement park area.
The acquisition will allow the city to create a 12.5-acre amusement park as part of an amusement and entertainment district of almost twice the size; three waterfront areas are included in the addition.
The plan is expected to bring in more than $14 billion in economic activity for the city over the next 30 years.
In recent years, the so-called amusement district has shrunk to a barely-there three acres and a rather meager and decrepit offering of boardwalk fun; the expanded version will include stores and nearly 5,000 new units of housing (and, ideally, many new jobs) in addition to the “amusements.” Well-loved attractions such as the Cyclone and Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park are expected to remain in place.
Coney Island became a resort after the Civil War, reached its peak of popularity in the early twentieth century, and continued to decline in popularity after World War II.
The name, if you were wondering, most likely comes from the Dutch words meaning “Rabbit Island.”

Superior Donuts Broadway Show Review

Superior Donuts Broadway ShowShow Summary
Arthur Przybyszewski (Michael McKean), the proprietor of a dilapidated Chicago donut shop, hires a clever young black man from the neighborhood named Franco Wicks to help out – and gets a lot more than he bargained for.@earthlink.net>

Broadway Review
Pulitzer Prize winner Tracy Letts’ newest play is nothing like his two best known works, the creepy psychological thriller Bug and the epic family drama August: Osage County. Unlike those plays, Superior Donuts is a surprisingly conventional comedy about a man with a painful past who finds that an unexpected friendship is what he needs to finally move forward with his life. It is a solid effort, both funny and touching, with notable performances from Jon Michael Hill as Franco and Yasen Peyankov as the Russian business owner who wants to buy Arthur’s donut shop.@earthlink.net>

Craving a Gallon of Salad Dressing? Costco Comes to NYC

CostcoAdmit it: you’ve woken up at 3:00 AM longing for a giant tub of mayonnaise. Or maybe it was the 10:00 AM craving for 20 rolls of toilet paper. Whatever the desire for the oversized; the excessive amounts; or just the proverbial low, low prices, your wishes have been fulfilled: The first Costco has opened in New York City.
The mega-deal store is the first tenant in the new East River Plaza, a “big-box” shopping center off the FDR Drive on 116th street. The store, clocking in at 110,000 square feet, will also welcome neighbors Best Buy, Marshalls, and—be still my heart–Target in the next few months.
Costco execs looked for years to round out their offerings of Costco stores in the city (the others are in Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island). The same spot was deemed too pricey a few years ago–but thanks to the recession, the space is now going for 30 percent less than was originally offered.
Buyers must fork over an annual membership fee—but at the Manhattan location, offerings include wildly reduced Ugg Boots and Seven for All Mankind jeans—not to mention Cartier jewelry and Rolex watches.
Is it too far uptown for many New Yorkers? We’re willing to bet that for off-price designer goods, discounted bestsellers, coveted makeup brands and oversized boxes of pasta, New Yorkers will go just about anywhere–especially if it’s in their own backyard.

It’s a White Christmas on Broadway

White Christmas Broadway ShowThe Marquis Theatre at the Marriott Hotel in Times Square is hosting one heck of a holiday party with Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, starting Broadway performances today. This is the second annual limited Broadway engagement of the snow-filled show, which is based on the beloved holiday film of the same name, and also incorporates many other memorable Irving Berlin songs from other movies and musicals. The production, directed by Walter Bobbie, features Tony Yazbeck, Melissa Errico, James Clow, Mara Davi, David Ogden Stiers, and Ruth Williamson in the cast, plus a large ensemble of singers and dancers. White Christmas will play at the Marquis through January 3, 2010.

A Chicken-Stealing Fox Takes Over a Famous Men’s Store

Fantastic Mr. Fox
At the Men’s Store at Bergdorf Goodman, one of New York’s poshest department stores, you might expect impeccably tailored designer clothing; high-end accessories; and eccentric, rather pricey gifts…but Claymation figures from a children’s book?
Yup.
The sets from the movie “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” which opens today in New York and L.A. and nationally on November 25, and had its premiere at the famed men’s department store this week, are on display through early January, thus providing the store’s all-important holiday display. Directed by Wes Anderson (“Rushmore,” “The Royal Tenenbaums”), and based on the best-selling, classic children’s book by Roald Dahl (“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “James and the Giant Peach”) the movie tells the story of the title character, a rascally, chicken-stealing-thief-turned-journalist-turned-chicken-stealing-thief-again who puts his family’s life in jeopardy. Mr. Fox and his friends and family join together to fight the three evil farmers—Boggis, Bunce, and Bean—who are set on capturing Mr. Fox and putting an end to his chicken-stealing ways. George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Michael Gambon, and Bill Murray are among the high-profile cast members.
The store, located on Fifth Avenue and 58th Street, features 12 windows with exquisite sets from the generally well-reviewed film, which was done in painstaking stop-motion animation. Anderson, known for his whimsical, odd, offbeat sense of humor, was responsible for building and designing all the objects in the film; it’s his first foray into animated movies.
Why the tie-in? Movies have provided fodder for store windows before (remember “Harry Potter”?). And it’s certainly more interesting—and guaranteed to get people to stop and look–than a display of suits and sweaters, no matter how nicely designed.

Dame Edna and Michael Feinstein Join Forces on Broadway

Dame Edna EverageFollowing a lighthearted publicity stunt in which both artists announced separate upcoming Broadway shows with suspiciously similar titles, Australian drag comedian Dame Edna Everage (also known as Barry Humphries) and piano man/crooner Michael Feinstein (who has just released an album with Broadway actor/singer Cheyenne Jackson) have finally admitted that the new musical entertainment All About Me will be a joint theatrical effort between the two experienced and distinguished performers. Directed by Broadway veteran Jerry Zaks and written by playwright Christopher Durang, the show will begin performances on March 6, 2010, with an official Broadway opening on March 23. A theater has not yet been announced.