Recommended Reading

Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Genius of Water / Fountain Square

Meet me in the morning
At the bus stop
We'll ride into the town
Down to the square
To see the angel
See the angel in the fountain
Meet me in the morning
Meet me after daybreak
Tie your hair back
We'll drift into the crowd
Get lost among the loud
And they'll be singing
They'll be singing in our daydream
When we're tired we'll leave them all behind
And walk away
I love you
I love you
I love you a lot
Meet me in the courtyard
Where the saints pray
Musing in our stare
Still painfully aware
That there are others
Shoulds and woulds with names and faces
Close your eyes
And open up your mind
And hear me say
I love you
I love you
I love you a lot
See the angel
She's dancing in the water
Hear the angel
She's laughing in the water
Something in the way that you
Said you really felt that we could be
Good friends forever
Together for a long time

-"The Genius Of Water," Over The Rhine 

Over the Rhine is a rock band named after a historic Cincinnati neighborhood, which itself was named after Cincinnati's sister-city Munich, paying tribute to the German immigrants who built Ohio's greatest city. What a lineage.

"The Genius of Water" is not only one of the most arresting statements of love in song, but it is also another namesake--calling to mind the beautiful bronze-laden fountain, statue, and centerpiece in the city square.

The female statue in the middle of the fountain is not your ordinary angel. According to Wikipedia, "the artistic fountain's motif is water, in homage the river city's continuing debt to the Ohio River. The central figure, the Genius of Water—a female in heroic size—pours down the symbolic longed-for rain from hundreds of jets pierced in her outstretched fingers."

Since the fountain's dedication in 1871, this glorious figure of abundance has moved across the city in different locations, has undergone repairs, and has been seen and danced in by thousands. Still she stands tall,  and when I listen to this song, I imagine you can still hear her laugh. After all, she's looking after her friends, and these friends are forever, which is a very long time indeed.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Key Change: Cincinnati, OH-IO

"And I can see them shining
Through the Willows and the Pines,
The lights of Cincinnati
Oh, so many miles behind,
I could build myself a new life
And make it on my own,
But the lights of Cincinnati
Will keep calling me back home."
-"Lights of Cincinnati," Scott Walker

I invite you to join me on a detour to my hometown and the place where I have spent the better half of my summer: Cincinnati, Ohio. While the name may not set off any bells and whistles, I'm feeling inspired enough to break this three month hiatus and share a lesser known, but very distinctive musical history. 

While rummaging around at Half Price Books, crown jewel of second hand bookstores, I came across a mix CD labeled Deary Me Records, the name of a Cincinnati punk-rock label from 1995. Mezmerized, I bought the CD and tended to it before any of my other purchases. What turned out to be a nifty, if slightly scratched little time capsule broadened the contours of my mental map where I chart the city's music history, beginning with the legends of King Records and culminating in the great indie rock scene that exists today. After some family and friends affirmed the coolness of my clearance purchase as well as the ceaseless creative output of this city, I decided to dedicate a few blog posts to the lyrical landmarks of Cincinnati.

A city so much smaller than New York City--1/26 of the population size to be exact--doesn't lend itself to the same endless supply of song references, but I was surprised by the number of name drops that do exist. And yes, they extend beyond a "what's up" from Sir Mix-A-Lot and the T-H-U-G roll call from Cleveland neighbors Bone-Thugs-N-Harmony. Oh, and that annoying but aptly-titled tune, "Cincinnati, Ohio," which provides the low point of every visit to Great American Ballpark. 

The man who wrote the lyrics above was an overseas sensation in the UK, though he hailed from the midwestern city of which we speak. Scott Walker--and no, not GOP presidential candidate #387 --was known for limit-pushing lyrics in the late 1960s at the same time he bore his soul and penned "Lights of Cincinnati." On this rare occasion he traded in bawdy for the ballad, reminiscent of the songs which propelled him to fame as a teen idol in the 1950s. With one of the most stirring baritones in pop music, Walker delivered a sincere expression of the heart--teetering between longing for a loved one and yearning for a particular place.

This post serves as the introduction to a miniseries on my hometown, and in the spirit of summer's melancholy as the season draws to a close, is a nod to Walker that his sentiment is alive and well in me.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mudd Club / TriBeCa

This ain't no party, this ain't no disco,
This ain't no fooling around
This ain't no Mudd Club, or C. B. G. B.,
I ain't got time for that now
-"Life During Wartime," Talking Heads 

As a self-proclaimed Talking Heads head, I'll admit that this week's venture turned into quite the sentimental journey. But I'll hold back the tears and leave you all with the good parts. 

Long, long ago in the early 1980's, the Mudd Club closed its doors almost as soon as it opened them. But the 5 years it spent at the corner of White Street and Cortlandt Alley brought more music to TriBeCa's nightlife than any venue ever did before.

Between the years 1978 and 1983, many punk and new wave bands emerged at the turn of the decade and performed onstage at the Mudd Club. Sonic Youth and R.E.M. were among the venue's top-billed acts, while members of Talking Heads--David Byrne, Chris Frantz, Tina Weymouth, and Jerry Harrison--were well-known regulars, both onstage and in the audience. 

Performing there in 1979, Talking Heads mention the famed nightclub in their song "Life During Wartime," which also alludes to the famous East Village venue C.B.G.B.'s (recently converted into a high-end men's boutique, John Varvatos.) Because C.B.G.B.'s had a much longer and loudly celebrated life (and still operates as an annual music & film festival) I'd prefer to draw attention to the short-lived space Mudd Club and the fascinating area surrounding it.

The space at 77 White Street occupies the corner of a very significant and rare feature of New York City--a back alley. Cortlandt Alley is one of few existing back alleys that have remained untouched by years of New York's extensive urban renewal. It is everything I'd look for in a back alley--secluded, dank, graffiti-clad. The only thing missing is a street gang making their way through while snapping their fingers in unison. (Be sure to read up on this historic alley and check out some awesome photodocumentation over at ScoutingNY.)

FUN FACT: Throwing it back to one of my first posts ever, where I profiled a falafel shop mentioned in a song by New York band Vampire Weekend. The same fellows shot an incredibly awesome music video for their hit song "Cousins" in this very alley! So cool!

I love this song, because it has that classic manic quality that Talking Heads exudes in song (and dance.) The song is a musical jet engine, held together by Frantz on the drums, Weymouth on bass, and Harrison on the guitar, and Byrne on vocals while doing aerobic jogging motions.The lyrics, while maybe slightly hyperbolic in their comparison of rock & roll to fighting a war, convey some fantastic imagery of tour life on the road. Though I'm a far cry from a punk rocker, I can't help but feel their description of the sheer madness and foreignness that comes with being away from home, away from the usual stomping grounds like the Mudd Club.

I geek out so hard when I see old doorways like the one above, where I can imagine so many awesome bands made their way in and out, loading and unloading the instruments they'd use to put on legendary performances.

And now, darling readers, what is your favorite NYC music venue--past or present?

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Hotel Chelsea / Chelsea

"Sara, Sara
It's all so clear, I could never forget
Sara, Sara
Loving you is the one thing I'll never regret.

I can still hear the sounds of those Methodist bells
I'd taken the cure and had just gotten through
Staying up for days in the Chelsea Hotel
Writing 'Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands' for you

Sara, Sara
Wherever we travel we're never apart
Sara, Sara
Beautiful lady, so dear to my heart."
-"Sara," Bob Dylan

Honestly, the only thing more dismal than the present appearance of the Hotel Chelsea is its track record of tragedies in the world of wandering poets. The hotel seems to have been a haven for the lost sheep of Greenwich Village, most memorably Leonard Cohen who penned the famous "Chelsea Hotel No. 2" which details the singer's not-so-romantic rendezvous with the late Janis Joplin. It was at the Hotel Chelsea that Dylan Thomas, who once famously roared, "rage, rage against the dying light!" died of alcohol intoxication. And perhaps the hotel's most "rock & roll" story of all was the downfall of Nancy Spungeon who was stabbed to death by her boyfriend, the one and only Sid Vicious, who all but lived up to his name.

And just when everyone thought that there was nowhere left to go but up, the hotel went to shambles and closed its doors to the public in 2011. Today, the scaffolding which embraces the empty edifice has all the charm of a mental asylum. When I dared to enter the front door I was greeted with the temporary doorman's furrowed brow and thundering voice: "We're closed." Indeed, it is hard to believe that this very building, erected in 1883, was once the high-brow and glamorous landmark that inspired the very name of its surrounding neighborhood.

Thankfully, good old Bob Dylan put the bohemian splendor of this hotel into words before old age came in like a Miley Cyrus on a wrecking ball. As always, we can count on Zimmy's sing-songy stories to remind us of times and places we've never experienced, and we trust him enough to believe every word. As much as I am fascinated and disturbed by the dark times and the devilry that took place in this hotel, I am settled by this beautiful testament of love, fated though it was, that graced a moment in Bob Dylan's life and made this place a home to something other than death and drugs (although one cannot be too optimistic that the latter was not totally uninvolved in the story.)

Even if the hotel has been stripped of its placeholder in the artistic world, there is still music in the air today. I needed only to walk a couple doors down from the hotel to see this winsome little hole-in-the-wall, a used-guitar shop that Leonard and Bobby could very well have jammed at together had they crossed paths in the early 1990's on a day off with nothing to do and a little time on the hands for some freewheelin'. 

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Forsyth and Bowery / Lower East Side

"We were standing 
At Forsythe and Bowery,
Flowers and painted forehead
Trying to forget

You can't tell if the ceiling's rising
Or if the floor's falling out.

At the time I wasn't with you
By that time I didn't care"

-"Bowery," Local Natives

This week's visit took me to Sarah Roosevelt Park which falls between Chrystie and Forsyth, skirting the north and south of the Lower East Side. It's a beautiful stretch down Forsyth Street, but my heart tells me it was no walk in the park that inspired the lyrics of "Bowery" by Local Natives.

 The song is achingly personal, much like the rest of the album, which is a window into darker times for the band. Kelcey Ayer, vocalist, keyboardist, and lyricist, shared that together they were wracked with the loss of Ayer's mother, the departure of their bassist Andy Hamm, and relationship troubles, following their debut album Gorilla Manor. The beautiful byproduct of these troubled times came to be called Hummingbird.

It was a day of pink blossoms and blue skies with white clouds, strikingly reminiscent of the background and color palette of the Hummingbird album cover (which you can see on the playlist I've created to supplement blog posts.)

Interestingly enough, there is no corner of Forsyth and Bowery. Perhaps the lyrics refer to two separate corners, or, most likely, they refer to the Bowery area, rather than Bowery Street. Above is the corner of Forsyth looking down Rivington Street and below is the corner of Forsyth and Delancey Street. While I do not know this to be fact, I imagine that the lyrics refer to the corner pictured below, because Delancey Street runs along the Bowery, and the Bowery Ballroom, where the band has performed, sits at the corner of Delancey Street and Bowery Street. This corner is very central in the LES, and is brushed closely with the bustling nightlife. I'm sure many memories are made here.

I stopped to take a photo of the sky on my way to the Essex subway station. From where I stood, it looked like this white dagger seemed to end somewhere on Forsyth. I don't know, it just seemed symbolic, and a little bit sad.

There is not much for me to say, as the broken relationship in "Bowery" is not mine to explain. 
But because pieces of this experience have been shared and immortalized into art, there's a sense of beckoning by them to be heard. Likewise the sights described in the song seem so ready to be beheld. I feel honored at the invitation to ache alongside this band. 
It's amazing how intimate music can be, how committed artists are to their craft in sickness, in health, joy, and sorrow. And I vouch that their loving listeners feel exactly the same way.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Empire Diner / Chelsea

We could have gone all the way to the Great Wall of China
Now all you're going to be is history
Help yourself, it's all you can eat at the Empire Diner tonight
You coulda had class, you coulda have been a contender
Charlie, you shoulda looked out for me
-"Great Wall of China," Billy Joel

Whether you love joining in endless refrains of "Piano Man," or you hate the thought of it (and there's no in between), some things just can't be denied. Billy Joel is a man who has put in his time as a musician, as a New Yorker, and as a New York Musician. Second only to Lady Liberty and possibly Beastie Boys, Billy Joel is the face of New York City to me. (Let it be known I grew up in a household where The Stranger is little short of sacred.)

I'd be lying if I didn't credit the piano man with plotting out my preconceived mental map--all the way from "52nd Street" to "Mister Cacciatore's down on Sullivan Street." And I am well aware that if I wanted to vy for the singer's affection, ladies and gentlemen, this Downtown Girl living in her Downtown World would be flat out of luck. Sure, it can be dangerous when lyrics become your sole framework for reality. But I choose not to think about that and instead, I try and find out the reality behind the lyrics! Amen?

So without further ado, I introduce to you the Empire Diner. 

The Empire Diner is one of the most beloved landmarks in Chelsea's eatery history. The once-swanky restaurant hosted an array of celebrity guests who made it popular during its hey-day in the 40's and 50's. Today Empire is one of only five free-standing diners remaining in the city, according to an excellent article from Scouting NY. This fact alone sings of the diner's age, days gone by when hospitality and fine dining went hand in hand. This came as a surprise to me, as I've always thought of diners to be characteristically kitschy a la American Graffiti.  

 When passing the diner at the corner of 22nd Street and 10th Avenue, the first thing I noticed was the stunning Art Moderne letters announcing the name "EMPIRE DINER", as well as a big, bold cue for me to "EAT." The rounded corners and the ribbon windows call to mind the late Art Deco period during which the building was constructed. All at once I felt hungry and deeply nostalgic for an era I never lived in. A day in the life, honestly.

In "Great Wall of China," Billy Joel is pointing fingers at his corrupt old manager who caused him years of trouble, inviting him to enjoy his last supper before becoming history--just like the diner he mentions. These lyrics carry a cutting-edge tone of "look what you've done" and a remorseful "what could have been." (Fun Fact: Billy Joel makes fitting reference to a line spoken by Marlon Brando in the classic film about New York mafiosos On the Waterfront: "I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender.") The singer clearly witnessed the downward turn the Empire Diner took in the latter half of the twentieth century; and no doubt he still sees the fragments of its glorious past.

Tucked away on the far west side of Manhattan, Empire Diner is a rarity in conversation and nothing like the trendy hot spot it used to be. But there is a reason this gem of the past has been preserved, along with the restoration of the nearby High Line. This restaurant was as personal to its customers as it was popular to A-list regulars. While the stars have all but faded, the Empire Diner still stands, bolstered by the memories of neighbors and the musings of lyricists.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

For The Record: Top 5 NYC Album Covers

In honor of Record Store Day , and in a bout of intense R&R following a day well spent at my favorite vinyl shop, I'd like to celebrate with a bit of a tangent. Instead of photographing places we've all heard of but never seen, I want to discuss those sights we have beheld, thanks again to the artists we love. Here are five of what I consider to be the coolest album covers photographed in New York City: 

1. The Brecker Brothers

The coolness factor of this photograph goes well beyond the double exposure (note a ghoulish but casual pair of Brecker Brothers descending the subway stairs, jazz instruments in hand, you know.) The background photo was taken in the old City Hall station, which has since become sealed and defunct. But do not be scared by those ghoulish words--you can still catch a glimpse of the old vaulted platform by remaining on the downtown 6 train after its last stop, as it loops around the track to return uptown.

2. Augustus Pablo
Born to Dub You, year unknown

It's safe to assume that before there was Photoshop, artists relied very heavily on double exposure to enhance their image (and it totally worked.) This unreleased album by roots reggae legend Augustus Pablo was unveiled to the public in 2014--more than a decade after the Twin Towers, captured in the background of the album cover, had vanished in the tragic events of 9/11.

3. The Brooklyn Bridge

At first glance, this shot looks like it was taken on a pirate ship, so the moment of realization is automatically a bit of a letdown. But the Brooklyn Bridge is almost as picturesque, is every bit as iconic, and is probably more suitable for a band called "The Brooklyn Bridge." Best of all, the bridge looks virtually the same today as it did in the summer of '69, in case readers want to grab the gang and head out to re-enact this epic photograph.

4. Melanie

Another more DIY technique of spicing up an unedited photograph is the classic collaging method. Singer-songwriter Melanie, from Astoria, Queens, graces her own album cover in what appears to be a Central Park pasture overlooking the cityscape (and is actually just pasted quite cunningly atop another photograph.) Melanie shows the spirit of a hippie-fied Maria von Trapp--minus the bevy of children at her feet--which brings a bit of folk charm to an otherwise urban atmosphere.

5. Jimmy Smith

While luncheonettes are largely a thing of the past, and "Kate's Home Cooking" is no exception, Jimmy Smith's album cover offers us a glimpse of the good old days--or at least it impresses us with the appearance of a brave man smiling in spite of the racial unrest that he and other African-Americans faced in Harlem and in the U.S. during this time. The "Incredible" Jimmy Smith was a jazz organist who most likely frequented Kate's luncheonette during his stays in New York even when the camera wasn't rolling. The restaurant, situated nearby the legendary Apollo Theater, is said to have been the "soul station" for many of its talented performers, such as Count Basie and Art Blakey. I like to imagine artists like these winding down from a top-of-the-world performance to a refreshing bottle of Coca-Cola and some conversation.

Thanks for reading! What do you think are some of Gotham's greatest album covers?

Friday, April 17, 2015

Bleecker & Macdougal / Greenwich Village

I was standing on the corner
Of the Bleecker and MacDougal
Wondering which way to go
I’ve got a woman down in Coconut Grove
And you know she loves me so
-"Bleecker & Macdougal," Fred Neil

My favorite part about putting sight to sound is discovering more to the story than what I’ve set out to find. The more pop cultural hodge-podge within a single edifice, the better. This is often the case in Greenwich Village, as this neighborhood represents so much of the art and culture we associate with New York, and has served as a musical mecca throughout the decades. Despite the fact that most of the city has been renewed and gentrified, it is not difficult to take a stroll down Bleecker Street and memory lane all at once--I would venture to say it’s impossible.

Also impossible is the task of choosing just one song about Bleecker Street, when the very theme deserves its own Wikipedia subcategory. As a result I have hand-selected a few tunes that I find to be strikingly personal and picturesque in their treatment of New York.

First, it thrills me to recognize “Bleecker & Macdougal,” because the name of its composer, Fred Neil, has gone criminally unnoticed, even at the height of his career in the 1960’s. While his folk-rock originals have slipped under the radar, Neil's work has been covered by popular artists like Harry Nilsson, who brought fame to the song “Everybody’s Talking” (and vice versa.) The blues-infused “Bleecker & Macdougal” refers to the corner where the San Remo Café used to stand, now replaced by an Italian restaurant, pictured below. The café, I learnt upon further research, once served as the stomping grounds of renowned Beat authors such as William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, and Jack Keruoac.

Many legendary Greenwich clubs along the strip have become history, in order to make way for bigger and better things, you know, like chain drugstores. However, several bars such as the Bitter End have miraculously escaped the musical massacre. Signage for retired venues like the Village Gate, while unlit, still exist to remind passersby of a brighter past.

The song “Bleecker Street” by Simon & Garfunkel is an unforgettable ode to the entire stretch of the street. Somehow, the route is far more breathtaking when these historic spots are put into focus. The lyrics they inspired are nothing short of poetry and stand as a guide to the time-travelling imagination.

Voices leaking from a sad cafe
Smiling faces try to understand
I saw a shadow touch a shadow's hand
On Bleecker Street

A poet reads his crooked rhyme
Holy, holy is his sacrament
Thirty dollars pays your rent
On Bleecker Street
-"Bleecker Street," Simon & Garfunkel

I can't help but wonder if both songs were inspired by the same cafe, the same corner, the same faces--what do you think?

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Tom's Restaurant / Morningside Heights

I am sitting
In the morning
At the diner
On the corner

I am waiting
At the counter
For the man
To pour the coffee

And he fills it
Only halfway
And before
I even argue

He is looking
Out the window
At somebody
Coming in

-"Tom's Diner," Suzanne Vega

Two important pop cultural landmarks stand as one in wedded bliss at the corner of West 112th Street and Broadway. Tom's Restaurant deserves a visit from music junkies just as much as it does from crazed fans of the hit sitcom Seinfeld (not to insinuate that one cannot belong to both distinguished categories.)

Yes, Tom's Restaurant registers first in the collective conscious (or at least in Google's most searched) as the iconic exterior shot which often zooms in on the furrowed brow of George Costanza. But it also serves as the backdrop to an unforgettable anthem of the 80's, penned and performed by Upper West Sider Suzanne Vega herself. 

The first time I approached the diner from across Broadway, I took in the perfect setting for a bittersweet vignette, the one Suzanne Vega experienced and wove into a lyrical masterpiece. As I passed the corner window, I imagined the singer-songwriter, as she described, seated with a cup of joe on a rainy morning, shuffling haphazardly through the papers. I pretended to be the girl with the umbrella who walks in and locks eyes with Vega for a brief moment--before she dashes away to the sound of distant chimes summoning her to the train station.

As it happens, the bells Vega heard and wrote about came from the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, one block away on Amsterdam Avenue. The cathedral is visible from the point of view of a pedestrian approaching Tom's Restaurant from the west. I managed to capture a photograph of the cathedral alongside the restaurant (or rather, the cathedral photobombed my photo of the restaurant.)

The diner, which came to life in the 1940's, is still operated by the same Greek-American family, according to the restaurant's official website. Though they have faced recent hardships, including the death of the owner last November, the support of the community buoys the beloved restaurant to preserve its legacy onscreen and in song. Tom's Restaurant stands in its original glory, boasting that unmistakable neon sign which still lures the hungry, Harlem-bound hikers of Broadway--serving as the "morning star" of Morningside Heights. And, by George, the light is not going out anytime soon.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Jerusalem / Upper West Side

Sing next year in Jerusalem
You know, the one at 103rd and Broadway?
'Cause this orthodox girl fell in love with the guy at the falafel shop
And why not?
Should she have averted her eyes and just stared at the laminated poster of the Dome of the Rock?
-"Finger Back," Vampire Weekend

Those who are fans of the New York band already know that Vampire Weekend buries some of its most meaningful work beneath layers of jumbled jibberish and sporadic references. In its misleading major key, the song "Finger Back" discusses sectarian animosity at different levels, most touchingly in this tale of forbidden love between an orthodox Jewish girl and, presumably, a Muslim young man working at a falafel shop.

I imagined myself in the shoes of this girl as I set out one afternoon to visit the restaurant that inspired Ezra Koenig, indie poet laureate, to tell her fateful love story. When I surfaced from the 103rd Street subway station, I faced a restaurant storefront as understated as the story itself. Its royal blue awnings were decked in gold letters which read simply: "Jerusalem." I was soon to discover that, indeed, the restaurant inside could easily be mistaken for a "holy land" of sorts.

Once indoors, I placed my order to a smiling waiter--one vegetarian falafel sandwich with hummus, please--but for the first time in my life, food was not the first thing on my mind. As I awaited my cuisine, I did the unthinkable and stared at a poster of the Dome of the Rock that just happened to be hanging on the wall. As I stared I imagined how much more intense it would be if I had just fallen in love with the waiter and knew that the tensions between our respective cultures forbade us from being together.

Alas, I did not find love during my visit to Jerusalem--that is, apart from the deep and instant connection I felt towards my falafel sandwich. I unwrapped my food, prepared with expertise by a handsome Arab man, and bit into a medley of the freshest flavors and vegetables, paired with an all-American Snapple lemonade (to destroy whatever cultural awakening I thought I was having.) Kudos to Vampire Weekend for helping to season our musical tastes as well as our palates!

Before leaving, I asked the cashier if many Vampire Weekend fans came to see the restaurant. With a smile he informed me that indeed, fans traveled from as far as Canada to make their pilgrimage. (It’ll be the day, though, when an Israeli fan travels from her capital to its humble Upper West Side namesake.)

When I bade farewell, the cashier called after me, “See you next time!” I bit my tongue to keep from responding with traditional Passover well-wishes, “Next year in Jerusalem!” a refrain as fitting literally as it was inappropriate contextually. I thought about the "orthodox girl" and the "guy at the falafel shop" and I hoped that one day maybe they could be together.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015


First of all, thank you for reading.

If you know me personally, you probably realize that walking the streets of New York with my headphones on is already a part of my routine. I hope this fact is not seen as a cop-out for blogging material. As they say, you write what you know, and the best part about this project is that I am learning as I go, seconds before sharing my new knowledge with you. New York is a bottomless treasure trove begging to be explored and I am excited to take this passion of mine to a communal level. I want to give these historic places more room for recognition.

I generally refrain from pinning anything resembling praise onto the name Woody Allen, whose personal life I cannot begin to approximate next to the wealth of success he has gained as a filmmaker. But I love his love of Manhattan, and the way he puts New York into words--or rather, how he fails to. I leave you with the following opening lines from the film titled after our beloved borough, Manhattan:

Isaac Davis: Chapter One. He adored New York City. He idolized it all out of proportion. Eh uh, no, make that he, he romanticized it all out of proportion. Better. To him, no matter what the season was, this was still a town that existed in black and white and pulsated to the great tunes of George Gershwin. Uh, no, let me start this over.

Isaac Davis: Chapter One: He was too romantic about Manhattan, as he was about everything else. He thrived on the hustle bustle of the crowds and the traffic. To him, New York meant beautiful women and street smart guys who seemed to know all the angles. Ah, corny, too corny for, you know, my taste. Let me, let me try and make it more profound.

Isaac Davis: Chapter One: He adored New York City. To him it was a metaphor for the decay of contemporary culture. The same lack of individual integrity that caused so many people to take the easy way out was rapidly turning the town of his dreams in - no, it's gonna be too preachy, I mean, you know, let's face it, I wanna sell some books here.

Isaac Davis: Chapter One: He adored New York City. Although to him it was a metaphor for the decay of contemporary culture. How hard it was to exist in a society desensitized by drugs, loud music, television, crime, garbage - too angry. I don't want to be angry.

Isaac Davis: Chapter One. He was as tough and romantic as the city he loved. Behind his black-rimmed glasses was the coiled sexual power of a jungle cat. Oh, I love this. New York was his town, and it always would be.

Words may fail me, as they did Isaac Davis, but thankfully some of the great artists of our time put their own praises  to music. And I want to show you the city that inspired them.