Lady Day on Swing Street

There are few moments more perfect than walking into a dimly lit old bar late at night and hearing a Billie Holiday song, either on the jukebox or being covered by the four-piece in the corner. “These Foolish Things” is practically custom made for sliding onto a stool and ordering an Old Fashioned as you prop your elbows up on the bar and think about lost loves and life’s regrets.

The Pan Am Worldport

In Live and Let Die, the first of Roger Moore’s many James Bond films, 007 arrives in New York via the Pan Am Worldport, one of the great feats of airport architecture.

Inside the Explorers Club

Gifts from the Dalai Lama. A voodoo drum that it is said will curse those who play it without possessing a proper witch doctor’s credentials. A penis harvested from a dead whale, and the horn of from a narwhal. Tusks from a wooly mammoth.

The Chairman, The Poet, and The Dancer

West 52nd Street between Broadway and 8th Ave. is today one of those anonymous New York City blocks that seems, at first glance, to offer very little other than the entrances to the Neil Simon and August Wilson theaters that dominate the street.

Alcohol Professor: The Bar that Birthed America

Over on The Alcohol Professor, I’m writing about that time George Washington bro-hugged his generals and bid them farewell with tankards of ale and bowls of turtle soup. The Bar that Birthed America celebrates the storied history of New York City’s Fraunces Tavern. From the Sons of Liberty to George Washington’s party, from nearly becoming…

Sixteen Spots

Another stroll through some of (but by no means all of) my favorite places in New York City, this time spread out across Brooklyn, Manhattan, and The Bronx (we’ll get to you, Queens; as for Staten Island, I’ll see what I can do). Another of the many things I like about this city — and…

Alcohol Professor: The Bar that Launched Pride

I have a new Frolic Afield up at my usual corner on Alcohol Professor. In a rare moment of timeliness, The Bar that Launched Pride is a look at the history of the Stonewall Inn and how a scummy shithole of a bar that blackmailed its gay customers became the rallying point for and birthplace of the LGBT rights movement in America.

Deadly Art of Survival

My introduction to New York’s underground film scene came in the form of the “cinema of transgression,” as movement figurehead (eh, more or less) Nick Zedd dubbed it. Specifically, it came in the form of Richard Kern, whose crude, short films and videos were widely circulated on VHS in the late 1980s and early 1990s….

Sinister Dinner: The Heath at The McKittrick Hotel

“Don’t let them speak your name. Don’t ever let them speak your name,” she begged me before her eyes darted back and forth and she led me through a hidden door in the back of the booth into a hidden passage that eventually led us to a janitor’s closet and back into the restaurant. When I looked behind me, the woman was gone.

My Old Kentucky Home on the Bowery

Kentuckians grow up with Stephen Foster. He wrote “My Old Kentucky Home,” our state song, and The Stephen Foster Story has been playing at My Old Kentucky Home State Park for over fifty years. Although “America’s first composer” was born in Pennsylvania and later lived in Ohio (albeit in Cincinnati, which is just across the…

Terrifying Tales of Macabre Manhattan

New York is one of the oldest cities in the United States, and its most populous. So it’s no surprise that among our eight million residents are more than a few ghosts. Our ancient (well, for America) brownstones and Revolutionary War mansions, our cobblestone (or potholed to the point of seeming cobblestone) streets, and our…