M Butterfly - quick take

Beautiful, yet sparse.  Simple, yet complex.  The new production of avid Henry Hwang's M. Butterfly, currently in previews at the Cort Theatre, are these and more.  Directed by Julie Taymor (Lion King, Spiderman Turn off the Dark) this production uses multiple panels as the only backdrops and set pieces, putting more focus on the stellar acting taking place on stage.

This is a story of a French Diplomat that falls in love with a Chinese Opera singer while working in China.  The action starts with the Diplomat recalling over the and over the details that led him to be imprisoned in his home country.

Clive Owen passionately plays the French Diplomat, Renee Gallimard who may be imprisoned in his own mind.  Jin Ha plays his butterfly and obsession, Song Liling, with grace and ferocity.  

I recommend beautifully presented update to a classic that will make you think twice about perceptions and reality.

M. BUTTERFLY

 

Gulliver’s Gate

Do you remember the story by Jonathan Swift; Gulliver’s Travels?  Or maybe you are a fan or miniatures and Lionel model trains.  If so I have just the place for you.

Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges

Grand Central Terminal

In the heart of Times Square there is a fantastic miniature wonderland representing not only New York City, but many places around the world. These are all represented and laid out for you at Gulliver’s Gate.  So what is it exactly?  It’s best described as an on-going exhibition of major landmarks of the world.  They are all represented in miniature form and in great detail with numerous staged vignettes.  The majority of these “scenes” are static but some of them move with the turn of the magic key given at check-in.  These are clearly marked by lit up boxes located on the railings.  These will activate a helicopter in manhattan, Skiers down the Alps, concerts in London and even an old lady feeding chickens.  The challenge for some of them is finding exactly what some of them activate from all the scenes laid out before you.  It’s a fun little game and is a great way to interact with the exhibition. 

Museums and Macy's Parade

My a favorite part was just looking at the great detail and little pieces that may go unnoticed unless O’Neil really looking hard.  They could easily put together a “Where’s Waldo” type scavenger hunt with all the random little things that are placed in the exhibition.  For instance, try finding the crouching tiger-like flying fighters in the Chinese Village.  Or the Totem Pole in the Alaska Airport scene. And with New York City so well represented it is fun just trying to name all the notable landmarks.  There is even the Roosevelt Island Tram (hint, look up).

Oculas & 9/11 Memorial

Times Square & The High Line

Finally here is one of the coolest things, you can step into a 3D Pinter and have your likeness created in three different sizes to take home with you!  The detail on these statues like everything else in absolutely incredible and when you get one done you also get a miniature version of you to place somewhere in the Gulliver’s Gate exhibition.

Chinese village

The detail and scope of this fantastic exhibition is one that warrants a visit to excite, entertain and educate both young and old.  Go and see what you can find at Gulliver's Gate!

Ankor Wat

Taj Mahal

Arc D' Triomphe

Stonehenge

 

Tokyo Record Bar

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What is Tokyo Record Bar?  I ask myself this as Dr. Dre's "The Chronic" pulses through the old school Hi-Fi amplifier.  The needle wags back and forth like a happy dog's tail and I could feel the heat from the tubes with every hit of the kick, or maybe it was the heat of the kitchen I was parked in front of having gotten there early to claim one of the coveted kitchen counter seats for my own. 

Tokyo Recod Bar reminds me of those basement high school parties at your friend's house while the parents are away. This time you don't have to refill the liquor bottles with water and the food is way better, even though there is still pizza.  Located under Air Champagne Bar, Tokyo Record Bar offers two izakaya tastings a night (6:30pm & 8:30pm) followed by drinks and snacks until the wee hours of the morning.

Caviar sushi

Caviar sushi

fish I forget with jalapenos, avacado & hot sesame oil

fish I forget with jalapenos, avacado & hot sesame oil

The tastings are an intimate gathering (only around 16 seats or so), there is no menu other than one for drinks and one for music.  A music menu?  Yes, all the diners a submit song to build the dinner playlist so the ambiance is curated by the you and those eating with you.  You are also encouraged to interact with and talk to your fellow diners.  One of the diners next to me also worked in the hospitality industry so we did some networking.

In addition to the music menu there is a sake menu.  The different thing about this menu were the offerings described by the predominant flavor profile so you do not have to know a name or origin; I found this very handy.  You are able to order by the cup, carafe or bottle. 

boys hard at work

boys hard at work

The experience started with a complementary cup of sake, some flavored nori chips and picked daikon.  Our host introduced herself and the rest of the staff for the evening and then asked everyone to pick a song from the song menu which was categorized by genre.

Once drinks were ordered and songs were picked the host started spinning, delivering music to our ears while at the same time food was being delivered to our mouths.  Starting things off was a fantastic but seemingly simple caviar sushi. Vinegared rice topped with oestra caviar and little crunchy balls of rice to give a little texture.  Another dish was a sashimi of some amazing fish but I forgot what type because I enjoyed myself too much.  It was dressed with jalapenos, avocado and finished with some sizzling sesame oil.

I was one of the first to arrive for the night so I claimed a primo seat at the kitchen counter.Got to love watching those guys hard at work creating fantastic dishes.it's like watching music in motion complete with ebbs and flows in service.

Tempura maitake mushrooms under bonito flakes

Tempura maitake mushrooms under bonito flakes

By far my favorite dish of the night was the tempura maitake mushrooms covered with bonito flakes.  I could eat this everyday for the rest of my life and be happy.  Crunchy and meaty at the same time, you just have to hope they serve this if you go.

The evening ended with a serving of yuzu shave ice.  Texture -wise it was a bit crunchy for shave ice but the yuzu was a nice palate cleanser.  As a parting gift they did a home-made Sicilian style pizza with a square slice for everyone.  This was actually really good with a crunchy crust soft bready insides.

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Pizza Time!

Pizza Time!

For $50 you get 7 Izakaya sized courses, drinks are extra, music is included.  This is not for everybody.  However if you are looking for something different that is interactive, mysterious, intimate and fun, Tokyo Record Bar may be for you.  I enjoyed the surprise of what was coming next (during the reservation process you can notate any allergies).  I enjoyed speaking to my fellow diners.  I enjoyed the interactivity of picking songs and listening to what others picked - the playlist definitely leaned to old school hip hop, soul and funk.  And they email you a link of your playlist so you can relive the memory.  I am looking forward to doing it again and hanging out after dinner next time.

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Whitney Biennial 2017

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The yearly show opens to the public on Friday, March 17 and it is a sight for the eyes and ears.  With a heavy dose of video and audio the biennial really moves into the present time.  There are short movies, that take you to beautiful lush islands, a 3D movie about the senses a hyper-violent immersive experience in Virtual Reality, video using iPhones, numerous films and more.  There are paintings using standard media and thoughtful pieces using sunlight through the windows.  There is a large installation of a manuscript asking for censorship.  There are pieces that address relevant social issues.  

This is an entertaining and thought provoking opening and a great way to spend a morning or afternoon.  Enjoy! 

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