Give Me An A: That’s the New Rallying Cry for New York Restaurants

New York RestaurantA-OK: That’s what restaurants across New York City are hoping health inspectors will say after a new ruling that went into effect this week.
Starting in July, all restaurants will have to display a letter grade near their entrances, giving potential patrons immediate information about whether they want to keep their reservation–or keep walking. Signs will be dated and prominently displayed in the window or vestibule. The new ruling applies to all restaurants, from swanky four-star establishments to that local falafel joint on your corner. The system will measure how clean a restaurant is.
Other cities, such as Los Angeles, use similar systems.
Although the New York Restaurant Association has protested the new rule, officials countered by pointing out that after L.A. started using the system (it has been in effect for more than a decade there), the number of restaurants that met higher standards went up.
The Health Department says that most restaurants it inspects have good health conditions, but about a quarter aren’t up to speed in food safety practices. At this point, officials say that about 30 percent of New York eateries would earn an A grade. Restaurants that receive less than an A will have time to, yes, clean up their act before grades are posted. Restaurants can also appeal their grade, much like in middle school. A ‘Grade Pending” sign will then be posted. (But hmm, wouldn’t that make you wonder, just a tad, what was going on?)
Can’t wait to see the results? They’re already posted online, at nyc.gov/health.

A Behanding in Spokane Broadway Show Review

A Behanding in Spokane Broadway ShowShow Summary
Irish playwright Martin McDonagh’s latest black comedy is about a man (Christopher Walken) looking for his missing hand, a pair of con artists on the make (Anthony Mackie and Zoe Kazan), and a curious hotel clerk (Sam Rockwell).

Broadway Review
This is McDonagh’s first attempt at writing a play about Americans, set in America. Although it still has the scribe’s signature touches (unsavory characters, comical violence, and clever dialogue), A Behanding in Spokane is McDonagh Lite. It doesn’t have the weight of some of his previous plays, which have dealt ingeniously with subjects like terrorism and torture; nor is it quite as funny as those more substantial works. Mackie and Kazan’s characters seem underwritten and overacted, but the moments that Walken and Rockwell are together on stage are pure gold.

Raul Esparza To Star In Encores! Anyone Can Whistle

Raul EsparzaRaul Esparza (Broadway’s revivals of Speed-the-Plow, The Homecoming, and Company) will star in the upcoming Encores! staging of the famous Broadway flop Anyone Can Whistle. He, Donna Murphy (Wonderful Town, Passion), and Sutton Foster (Broadway credits include Young Frankenstein and Thoroughly Modern Millie) will make up the satirical musical’s trio of leads, and they will be joined by Edward Hibbert, John Ellison Conlee, and Jeff Blumenkrantz. Anyone Can Whistle, which was written by Arthur Laurents and Stephen Sondheim (whose more notable collaborations include the classic Broadway musicals West Side Story and Gypsy), debuted on Broadway in 1964 in a production starring Harry Guardino, Lee Remick, and Angela Lansbury. The show only played nine performances before closing.

It’s the Wearing of the Green, so Get Out Those Shamrocks

St.Patrick's Day ParadeGreen hat? Check. Carefree attitude and sparkling shamrock pin? Check. Small leprechaun to accompany you? Check. (Just seeing if you were paying attention.)
Faith and begorrah, it’s St. Patrick’s Day, and if you didn’t know by the calendar, you could certainly tell by the plethora of green-clad revelers.
The parade, which began 249 years ago (and you can bet someone is already preparing for the 250th anniversary) starts at 44th Street at 11:00 am today, and wends its way up New York’s Fifth Avenue; as you’ll note, no floats, balloons, cars or other “commercial aspects” are involved. It marches past St. Patrick’s Cathedral on 50th Street, past the American Irish Historical Society on 83rd (who knew?) as well as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and finishes up on 86th Street in the late afternoon, usually around 4:30 or 5:00 pm.
(By the way, St. Patrick’s Day is held every March 17 except when it falls on a Sunday; then it takes place the day before.)
Anyone actually know why the parade is held? It honors the patron saint of Ireland as well as the Archdiocese of New York, and also, of course, celebrates Irish faith and history.
Who knows who the Grand Marshall is?
Yes, if you said Honorable Raymond Kelly, New York City’s Police Commissioner, you’d be right.
One word of advice: Whether you’re Irish or pretending to be, going to the parade or avoiding it all costs, leave your car at home and take public transportation.
You’ll thank us, honestly.

If Rock Rolls and Rebels, it Doesn’t Do it at the Waldorf Astoria

GenesisRock and roll is about rebellion, anarchy, playing really loud music…and apparently, about putting on a tuxedo and sitting politely in one of New York’s priciest and most famous hotels.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony took place last night in Manhattan’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel, in front of a moneyed crowd, and was carried live on TV’s Fuse. The inductees included performers such as Genesis (four of the original members showed up, but Peter Gabriel was nowhere in sight), ABBA (Mama Mia, anyone?), popstars The Hollies, reggae great Jimmy Cliff, and punk rockers the Stooges, along with their fearless leader Iggy Pop. (Would you ever see these people on the same stage at any other time??) Some of the winners performed–members of ABBA (along, for some reason, with country singer Faith Hill), and Jimmy Cliff among them–he sang a rousing version of “Many Rivers to Cross.”
Non-performers from the music business were inducted as well: They included mogul David Geffen (can he be described any other way?), as well as songwriters such as Otis Blackwell, Jesse Stone and writing team Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry. Rob Thomas, Chris Isaak, and Ronnie Spector were among those who performed in the tribute to the songwriters, ad Carole King, one of the all-time greats, saluted them as well.
And why the art-deco, world-famous Waldorf Astoria Hotel as a venue, instead of some grungy, grass roots, underground hole?
Well, given that rock stars are pretty much treated as royalty, why not?

Mel Brooks Working on Blazing Saddles Musical

Mel BrooksMel Brooks, the comic filmmaker who has gone Broadway the last few years, says he is currently at work penning new songs for a Blazing Saddles musical. The 1974 parody of film Westerns starred Cleavon Little and Madeline Kahn, and it is generally considered to be one of Brooks’ best movies. Mel Brooks went from a big screen funnyman to a Tony-winning Broadway sensation when the musical version of his film The Producers became a Broadway hit. But the follow-up, Young Frankenstein, was not as a big of a Broadway success and led some to speculate that Brooks would give up turning more of his movies into stage musicals. So far Blazing Saddles is very much in the early stages, with Brooks having only written two or three new songs, but time will tell if it eventually gallops its way onto Broadway.

Prepare to Be Unsettled at a New MoMa Exhibition

MoMaIf you’re planning a visit to New York’s Museum of Modern Art any time soon, brace yourself. No, we mean that literally—you’ll have to pass through two naked people flanking a doorway if you want to see “Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present,” which opened yesterday.
The “performers” will alternate, and include both opposite and same sex participants: It’s all part of a retrospective.
The museum is presenting an exhibition of approximately 50 of the Yugoslavian born artist’s works, and includes video works and photographs, as well as “re-performances” of her works. The artist will also perform a new solo work. It will be the longest duration of time that she has performed a single solo piece.
All performances will start before the museum opens and stop after it closes each day, to help viewers experience the timeless of the works.
Spoiler Alert: You may also see a nude woman on a bicycle seat and another nude performer lying under a skeleton.
Visitors at a preview were a bit unsettled, to say the least–which may be part of the point.
Warning: If you don’t like audience participation, watch out.
A series of lectures and gallery talks will accompany the exhibition. The Museum of Modern Art is at 11 West 53rd Street. Call (212) 708-9400 for more information.
And don’t forget that you can visit late one day a week: MoMa nights are the first Thursday of each month, when the museum stays open until 8:45 PM.

Million Dollar Quartet Begins Performances on Broadway

Million Dollar Quartet Broadway ShowThe Million Dollar Quartet has taken the stage at the Nederlander Theatre. The new Broadway musical, which has already been a hit in Chicago, will have its official opening on April 11 for an open run. Based on a real-life event, Million Dollar Quartet is about a legendary day in rock ‘n’ roll history (December 4, 1956) when four great musicians – Johnny Cash (played by Lance Guest), Carl Perkins (Rob Lyons), Jerry Lee Lewis (Levi Kreis), and Elvis Presley (Eddie Clendening) – gathered for a jam session at a studio in Memphis. The musical, which features performances of rock hits like “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Great Balls of Fire,” “Who Do You Love?” “Riders in the Sky,” “Sixteen Tons,” “I Walk the Line,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” and “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” also stars Hunter Foster as record producer Sam Phillips.

Chicago Broadway Show Review

Show Summary
Blonde bombshell Roxie Hart kills her lover and, as a result of the ensuing media frenzy, she becomes an overnight celebrity in this cynical satire of corruption in the criminal justice system set in 1920s Chicago.

Broadway Review
There is virtually no set in Chicago, so don’t go to this particular Broadway musical expecting bright colors and big flashy sets. The appeal of this long-running Broadway revival (which also became an Oscar-winning movie starring Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Richard Gere) is its sharp sense of humor, the sexy Bob Fosse-style choreography, and those unforgettable jazzy tunes by the songwriting team of John Kander and Fred Ebb (“All That Jazz”). Skimpy costumes, suggestive dancing, and sassy anti-heroines who murder without remorse make this Broadway musical suitable for more mature audiences.

The Taxi Fare is How Much? Check Your Figures Carefully

New York Taxi TVTaxi Passengers in New York City who couldn’t believe how much their fare was may have been on to something—the Taxi and Limousine Commission revealed this past week that close to 36,000 yellow taxicabs in the city overcharged passengers by about $8.3 million over the past two years. That’s roughly three quarters of all yellow cab drivers, if you were wondering. Approximately 3,000 of those drivers overcharged passengers more than 100 times. All in all, about 1.8 million passengers were overcharged. How? The drivers switched their meters to higher out-of-town rates that should only apply outside the five boroughs. That means that rates for 1/5 mile doubled from 40 cents to 80 cents. Passengers were overcharged about five dollars per ride.
Criminal charges will in all likelihood be brought against some of the drivers, according to Mayor Bloomberg.
The New York Taxi Workers Alliance blamed the GPS meters, saying it was technological failure and that there were no witnesses. (The “no witnesses” part seems to make their case a little shaky, no? And by the way, the dog ate my homework.)
The TLC actually made the discovery using the GPS technology.
A number of cab drivers came forward to say they were outraged by the scam.
Incidentally, former city councilman David Yassky will replace Matthew Daus as head of the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission. He ran (unsuccessfully) for city comptroller lat fall.
All we can say is—take public transportation when possible—and when you do take a cab, keep your eye on the meter–and on your wallet.