By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
For those of us who grew up in New York City, summers included frolicking in the spray of a fire hydrant and winters meant Wollman Rink in Central Park, skating on wobbly ankles, and slamming into walls in lieu of an elegant stop. A low profile and cheap venue better suit my lack of grace and thin wallet these days. In Manhattan, Central Park's other frozen patch of water, Lasker Rink (mid-park between 106th and 108th streets, 534-7639; $4.50 admission, $4.75 skate rental), overlooks the Harlem Meer and produces far less traffic. For Brooklyn ice capades, turn to Kate Wollman Rink in Prospect Park (Lincoln Road off Ocean Avenue, 718-287-6431; $4 admission, $4 skate rental), at the edge of the lake on what was Music Island, a haven for concerts in the 19th century. In Queens, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park's Ice-Skating Rink (New York City Building, opposite the Queens Museum of Art, 718-271-1996; $8 admission, $4 skate rental), built for the legendary 1939 World's Fair, offers plenty of anonymity for wiping out. (KIM)
MARTHA REDBONE'S CHRISTMAS PARTY
The latter-day soul movement is blazing away this holiday season via Gotham's latest rocker chick sensation. You want some Creole funk in your eggnog and gospel shouting in your carols? Then come on out and genuflect before Redbone the soul stirrer. As heiress to such luminaries as Sly, Phillippe Wynne, and Roberta Flack, Miss Thang Martha looks poised to be Americana's next superstar. This here redbone non-atheist cousin can dig it. December 14 at 9, Galapagos, 70 North 6th Street, Brooklyn, 718-782-5188. $7. (CRAZY HORSE)
'2002 UNSILENT NIGHT'
It's been quite a spell since the strains of "Here We Come A-Wassailing" rung out through the streets of Lower Manhattanbut that spirit lives on in the form of Phil Kline and his band of merry (and occasionally scary) postmodern carolers. This'll be the 10th year in which Kline re-creates his Unsilent Night, a Christmas parade-cum-jam session that guarantees anyone can carry a tuneon a boombox, that is. Kline will assemble his art-damaged elvesvolunteers are welcome to join the funat the Washington Square Arch. The ringleader will hand out an array of cassette tapeseach with a different set of sounds recorded thereonto add to the merriment (and sonic chaos). The march will continue east to Tompkins Square Park. December 14 at 6:45, Washington Square Park, Fifth Avenue and Waverly Street, www.mindspring.com/~boombox. (SPRAGUE)
'THE THREE WISE KINGS: THREE RACES/ONE PEOPLE'
Celebrate brotherhood by heading uptown to Harlem to hang out with Balthazar, Melchior, and Gaspar, guys who prove that we all can get along, especially when there are presents involved, in this updated tale of the Three Wise Men who traveled to Bethlehem to offer Jesus gold, frankincense, and myrrh. In Latin cultures, the Day of the Three Wise Kings is celebrated on January 6, the actual date of gift givingwhich, coincidentally, allows plenty of time to take advantage of all those after-Christmas sales. December 15 at 3, Aaron Davis Hall, City College of New York, West 135th Street and Convent Avenue, 650-7100. (BASTIDAS)
If you're going to be throwing down a good chunk of moola this holiday season partying it up with co-workers, college pals, brothers-in-law, etc., it might as well be in the Land of the Buyback. You know, the "this one's on me" that bartenders, usually in blue-collar establishments, slide over to you after you've had two or three. Buybacks don't exist at fancy-pants lounges, and cocktail waitresses don't give 'em. The buyback is the result of that magical relationship between bar stool patron and bartender. And, of course, if you're not tipping, the bartender's not buying. Like most good things in life, the buyback's a win-win situation. Downtown dive Nancy Whiskey Pub (1 Lispenard Street, 226-9943) is a dependable buyback bar, what with its mixed-race working-stiff crowd and its aura of stale beer and cigarette ash. One bartender, who sports AmberVision glasses and a well-endowed beard, is especially appreciative of tips and always buys back your third round. Unless, of course, it's happy hour, and you're already scoring $2.50 Guinness and Double Diamonds, in which case you'll have to wait till your fourth. Over in the trendy Lower East Side, there's a couple of buyback standouts, including Whiskey Ward (121 Essex Street, 477-2998), a classy neighborhood drinking hall with punk DJs and solid-ass beer bargainsour favorite being the $5.50 Parker (PBR and a shot of Turkey or Jack). And the bartender kept the comps coming on a recent debauched evening at Filthy McNasty's (179 Essex Street, 260-5515), where every Friday night's a $5 kill-the-keg marathon. (SPARTOS)
'THE PAUL LYNDE CHRISTMAS SPECIAL'
Christmas is supposed to be about the joy of giving, so Two Boots Den of Cin has the right idea by paying homage to the man who gave so much of himself, who brought joy into the hearts of millions of TV viewers throughout the '70s, Mr. Center Square himself, Bewitched's Uncle Arthurthe incredible Paul Lynde. The Paul Lynde Christmas Specialfeatures the king of camp yukking it up with the likes of Martha Raye, Alice Ghostley, and Anson Williams (yup, Potsie from Happy Days). And there are some similarities between Paul and the son of God: Both were way ahead of their time, and both met tragic deathsbut Lynde was wayfunnier. December 16 at 8, Two Boots Den of Cin, 44 Avenue A, at East 3rd Street, 254-0800. $5. (SWITZER)