Friday
Feb242012

The Bar At The Warwick Hotel

Okay, today is “Casual Free Food Friday," but today it’s not so much about free food and more about a visit to an iconic hotel and the bar within—The Warwick Hotel. The hotel was built in 1926 and actor Cary Grant lived in this hotel  for 12 years and some celebrities that stayed here regularly back in the day were, James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor, Elvis Presley and The Beatles, who had a famous “junior” press conference here in 1966 before their second and last time playing Shea Stadium. The Rolling Stones and lots of the bands that played on The Ed Sullivan Show stayed at this hotel through the years. I’ve stopped in the bar here before and the bartenders are always nice people with some good stories. It’s a classic, nice dark, cozy hotel bar. And there’s always a decent snack mix available on the bar for free, and who knows, I might even spring some cash for a snack at the bar. We’ll never know till we go!

Here it is, the majestic Warwick Hotel. It kind of looks like you've stepped back in time while looking at this classic NYC hotel.

Here's a section of the front lobby.

There's photos on the walls of some of the famous people that stayed or lived at the hotel in the past. This is actress Marion Davies who was the mistress of William Randolph Hearst who built the hotel in 1926. Hearst set her up with a floor on the hotel. Times sure have changed, back then if you were rich and famous you built a hotel to house a mistress in, these days you get a hooker and destroy a room in a hotel. Progress?

Here's a shot of a young Liz Taylor who was a regular at the hotel in the '60's and '70's.

Here's the aforementioned Cary Grant with actress Natalie Wood Audrey Hepburn.

And here's the Beatles who stayed here whenever they played on TV shows in New York or at Shea Stadium.

And here's the main attraction, at least for me, the bar at the Warwick Hotel.

The bar itself is small and highly polished wood and seats about twelve people.

I found a seat at the end of the bar and here's Jack the bartender with an ice cold bottle of Budweiser.  Jack's been a bartender here for 13 years. We talked about the history of the hotel and some of the famous people that have stayed and lived here. Jack told me that gangster Meyer Lanksy lived in the hotel and that Paul McCartney has an apartment down the street and frequently comes in to the bar to have a margarita when he's in town. He said that the roof scene from the Seinfeld/Jay Leno Superbowl commercial was filmed on the roof of the hotel. Jack told me that Seinfeld, who lives nearby, stops in the bar occasionally as well.

Here's a newspaper clipping that Jack keeps behind the bar of Elvis walking into the Warwick back in 1956. It seems Elvis wasn't fond of New York and that he felt rejected in the big city. I know that feeling, I've amassed a whole stack of rejection letters through my years here!

And, as promised, free snacks at the bar! it's the classic triple bowl, pretzel, cracker, nut, wasabi thingy presentation. I wonder why the DOH allows this at bars, yet bans the cheese bowls at Sardi's? It doesn't make sense, but what the hell, I'm going to enjoy the free snacks before these get taken away!

Here's the spot I staked out at the bar.

Everyone is texting away at the bar...

Meanwhile, my notes are taken the old-school way, on a cocktail napkin.

Check out this jackass, he's got his iPad and iPhone going at the same time. iHate him.

And a final long shot of the Warwick Hotel Bar.

I found some vintage photos online of the Warwick Hotel. Here's one of Elvis in his suite at the Warwick, reading fan mail.

This is a photo from 1965 of Beatles fans rushing the hotel when they were staying there.

Here's the Beatles, safely inside their suite at the Warwick, being interviewed by Cousin Brucie.

And here they are at their final press conference at the Warwick Hotel in 1966. Soon after they would sprout moustaches, become psychedelisized and morph into Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heats Club Band a year later.

The Warwick Hotel
65 W. 54th St. (Near 6th Ave.)
212-247-2700

Further reading: WABC, Famous Addresses (Last item down) and Beatles Interviews.

Now I find I've changed my mind, I've opened up the doors.

Surprise link, click on it...I dare you!

Thursday
Feb232012

The New York Earth Room

The New York Earth Room is an art installation in Soho I’ve heard about, but never gone to. Here’s the overview from the website:

An interior earth sculpture.
250 cubic yards of earth (197 cubic meters)
3,600 square feet of floor space (335 square meters)
22 inch depth of material (56 centimeters)
Total weight of sculpture: 280,000 lbs. (127,300 kilos)


So to sum it all up, it’s a giant room of dirt that’s been sitting there since 1980.
Intrigued? I know I am, let’s go and get a little dirty. Oh and it says that photography is not allowed, I’m hoping I can persuade them to take at least one shot to document it here at TWM. Otherwise I might have to do some improvising!

Goddamn it's bright out today. I think before we hit the Earth Room, I'm going to look for a pair of sunglasses.

Okay, thought the magic of the internet, you're spared kind of an uneventful subway ride to Prince Street. I like the little figures they've got on the walls in the station here.

I don't know how long they've been here, but they're pretty cool. This one makes me think of that son of a shit eater, Gruber MacDougal.

Memories...holy shitballs, it's bright out here. Let's go find some sunglasses.

There's always tables of things for sale on the sidewalk in this part of town, let's go take a look.

Here's a table of fashion books.

Fab gear...yeah, yeah, yeah.

I took a shot of this table of art and a fat guy leaning against the building started screaming at me saying I couldn't take a picture of it. If he would've been nice, I would've deleted the picture and just moved on, but I told him if his table is on the sidewalk, I have every right to take a picture of it, since it's out in public. He told me it was private property, so I countered that it was private property on a public sidewalk. After a few more minutes of arguing, I just left, some people just don't get it.

Here's a table of tiny, colorful t-shirts.

And bingo bango, a table of sunglasses!

Here's an obligatory sidewalk table mirror shot of me in the shades. They were only five bucks. ZZ Top flashback!

Okay, on to the Earth Room. It's right down the street here on Wooster.

Here's the building, 141 Wooster.

And there's the Earth Room in red. Let's buzz the buzzer and check this out.

Okay, we're inside, here's the foyer of the building.

Right this way...

Through the metal door and...

And up the steep flight of stairs and we'll be there.

Once I was up the stairs, I met Bill Dilworth, who is the keeper of the Dirt Room. He waters and tills the dirt and answers questions that people coming here have about the installation. He's a real nice guy and explained that they don't allow photography because they would rather have people experience it in real life and time. I was going to try to sneak a picture (you can find plenty online) but he was so nice about it, I decided not to break the rules. Bill has worked here for over twenty years now and below is an informative, short film featuring Bill explaining his job and The New York Earth Room.

As you saw in the film, Bill keeps a count of visitors by making a mark of the person. Here's today's page and Bill is pointing to my mark. It does kind of look like me! Bill told me one of the aspects of his job he likes is hearing and noting people's different reactions to the room. Personally, I have to say that standing there and staring at a huge room filled with black dirt kind of made me feel calm. And it was really unusual smelling dirt in New York. I recommend checking this place out if you're in New York or planning a visit. It's free of charge and a totally unique thing to do and experience.

Here's a photo of the Earth Room off of their website, I figured it would be okay to put this up to give you a little feeling of the space. But you really need to experience it in person, this doesn't do it justice.

On my way home I walked past the Morrison Gallery which is a rock 'n' roll gallery filled with interesting photos. I asked if I could take some pictures and was told no. I'm not having much luck on the photo front today!

And now, even the folks on the subway wall have turned their backs on me. Time to call it a day, I guess. See you tomorrow!

The New York Earth Room
141 Wooster Street (between Prince and Houston St.)

Further reading: Lonely Planet, Sense and the City and NY Times.

Ooh, I been dirt,
And I don't care.

Surprise link, click on it...I dare you!

Wednesday
Feb222012

Mad Men Tavern Tour

Last week, TWM commenter, esquared suggested taking a Mad Men tour of Manhattan, via a page that Eater put up highlighting certain Mad Men bars and locations that happened within past episodes, here’s a link to their map. I like this idea, and it’s a timely one seeing that the series is coming back in a month, but if I went to every stop on their map, the post would be way too long. Plus, a lot of the places are closed now, so I picked out a half a dozen bars that are still in operation and that will be our Mad Men tour for the evening. Oh and I plan on getting a Mad Men drink at each stop and rate them with a Freddy Rumsen rating scale from one to four Freddy's.

If you don’t watch Mad Men (you really should, it’s one of the best shows on TV in my humble opinion,) Freddy Rumsen is a recurring character who is the highlight of one of my favorite Mad Men moments. Here it is, without being too much of a spoiler, let me just say it’s a pisser! Freddy's Last Meeting.

Okay, I've got the whole tour planned out on my expanded Kindle GPS, so it's off we go on our Mad Men Tavern Tour!

Stop Number One: Keen’s Steakhouse
72 W. 36th St. (Between 5th and 6th)
Mad Men Episode: “The Arrangements”

It's happy hour and it's crowded in here. I need to find a spot at the bar.

And look at this, a spot just opened up, I'm snagging the stool while I can!

And bartender Rob serves up the first drink of the evening. He told me that after the second season of Mad Men, the cast and crew had their wrap party in here and it was a lot of fun.

And I thought I'd dress up for the role and put on my suit and tie for the tour. Okay, I'm more Freddy Rumsen than Don Draper, but what are you going to do?

Mad Men Drink: A Manhattan
Freddy Rumsen Drink Rating: 4 Freddy’s, it was loaded with booze and expertly crafted!

Stop Number Two: Sardi’s
234 W. 44 St. (Near 8th St.)
Mad Men Episode: “The New Girl”

And here we are at the upstairs bar at Sardi's. I see a familiar face back there!

It's Joseph the bartender, who we met last year on MAD. Great to see him, as always!

In addition to the Martini, I bought the cheese and crackers plate. I sure miss the big communal cheese bowls that Bloomturd and the fucking Department of Health shut down. It's just not the same! Freddy Rumsen would not like this at all!

Mad Men Drink: Martini
Snack: Cheese and crackers
Freddy Rumsen Drink Rating:

4 Freddy’s, Joseph makes a mean martini!
Freddy Rumsen Snack Rating:

Half a Freddy, bring back the free communal cheese bowls!

A lot of people mistake this for the Oyster Bar in Grand Central Station. This is the Oyster Restaurant.

This is the Oyster Bar/Saloon. And it's...Stop Number Three: Grand Central Oyster Bar
Grand Central Station—42nd and Park Ave.
Mad Men Episode: “Red in the Face

Here's the main dining area in the Oyster Bar, a classic place complete with red-checkered table cloths.

I settled in at this end of the highly polished wooden bar.

And bartender Alex serves me up a vodka gimlet. Cheers!

Mad Men Drink: Vodka Gimlet
Freddy Rumsen Drink Rating: 3 Freddy’s, it was good, but not very strong. Freddy likes his bartenders to lean in while pouring.

Stop Number Four: P.J. Clarkes
915 Third Ave. (@55th St.)
Mad Men Episode: “The Hobo Code"

It's always packed in P.J. Clarke's!

I wiggled through the crowd though and got up to the bar...

And even managed to get a shot of Doug the bartender serving me a sidecar with a side of water. I got the sidecar in honor of the legendary P.J. Clarke's sister restaurant.

Mad Men Drink: Sidecar
Freddy Rumsen Drink Rating: 4 Freddy’s, it was strong and very tasty!

Stop Number Five: The Oak Room Bar
10 Central Park South (Near Fifth Ave.)
Mad Men Episode: “Red in the Face

I wondered why the light wasn't on in the sign and it's because it's closed. Shit, when did that happen? It seems like only yesterday I was enjoying a Mel Gibson in here!

Mad Men Drink: No drink at this stop.
Freddy Rumsen Drink Rating: 0 Freddy’s, a blackout!

Stop Number Six: Tha Dublin House
225 W. 79th St (Near Broadway)
Mad Men Episode: “My Old Kentucky Home

This is a classic Irish bar on the Upper West Side. I used to come here all the time when I lived up here.

And bartender Mike serves up the final drink of the tour while flashing the TMW card...whoops, Mike, you need to turn that card around!

Mad Men Drink: Tom Collins
Freddy Rumsen Drink Rating: 4 Freddy’s, Mike Mixed a great drink to end the tour!

And it seemed only fitting to end the tour with an obligatory bathroom mirror shot in honor of Freddy Rumsen! See you all tomorrow!

Further reading: Time Out New York, On Location Tours and Gridskipper.

Oh, when your heart's on fire,
You must realize,
Smoke gets in your eyes.

Surprise link, click on it...I dare you!