New Year's Eve: Wild Card

And now for something completely different

The Metropolitan Opera
With all the revelry taking place in the streets on New Year’s Eve, it’s easy to forget that you don’t have to join any of it. We are the apex of culture and refinement when it comes to the performing arts. Why not find someone with an appreciation for the finer things in life, get dressed to the nines, and head to Lincoln Center? This year, the Met Opera is having a performance of Verdi’s La Traviata, and this three-act operatic beast has it all: literate company, dashing gentlemen, gambling, and tuberculosis—all the charms of a night downtown without the hassle of the NYPD’s Vice squad. Starts at 7 p.m., Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, 212-799-3100, metoperafamily.org, $55–$300

Film Forum
Film Forum will be screening a special-feature New Year’s weekend for families and animal lovers alike: Nicolas Philibert’s Nénette, which captures the day-to-day life and routine of the famous 40-year-old female orangutan at the Jardin des Plantes Exotiques Zoo in the heart of Paris, and Nick Park’s Oscar-winning Claymation short, Creature Comforts, play back-to-back. Think of it as a day trip to the zoo with your kids—only with popcorn, warm chairs, and a bathroom you can find. 209 West Houston, 212-727-8110, for more information, go to filmforum.org

Party Bus
I know you’ve seen them—those stretched-out Escalades packed with out-of-towners taking wide turns onto tiny downtown streets as the passengers cat-call and hurl insults at passers-by. Who do these people think they are? Don’t get mad, get even. Designer Limo’s vehicles come in every shape and size imaginable. The most god-like among them: the Mega-liner Double Decker party bus, which has two mobile floors of clubbing-it-up awesomeness for you and 80 of your closet friends. Lil’ Wayne’s got nothing on this beast. If you and your posse just want to drink and drive around town this New Year’s Eve, they’ve got everything from a Pink Hummer H2 Stretch to a Rolls-Royce Phantom. Then, after the ball drops, head over to Hoboken and get drunk on their doorsteps for a change. 800-540-3374, for more information, go to designerlimo.com

Dramatic illumination at the Met
Dramatic illumination at the Met
Chucklefest 2011
Chucklefest 2011

Lips
I have no idea why cabaret seems to be the birthright of men in dresses outside of Las Vegas. All I know is that the shows that Lips put on are entertaining and I always have a blast, even if Stevie Nicks humped my head in front of my boss the last time I was there. This New Year’s Eve promises to be no different. The faux-ladies at Lips recently made their big move to the East Side from their humble West Village shop without the help of Norman Lear or CBS. For $75, you can catch a three-course dinner and a show with some of the funniest chicks in town. The party continues with their Drag Queen Disco Ball till 2 a.m. PS: Their frozen cosmopolitans are delicious, and I can’t get enough of them. There, I said it. 227 East 56th Street, 212-675-7710, lipsnyc.com, $75

Riverside Park
“The Park They Forgot to Ruin”—that’s my name for this uptown gem. After an evening of eating, drinking, dancing, and carousing, nothing compares to a late-night walk along the Hudson with the people you love. That’s when the best conversation always happens. Start at 79th Street, and work your way up to Grant’s Tomb. If you and your date get cold, just dip over to Broadway and warm up at a neighborhood bar. You can almost hear the moonlit river and distant lights of Jersey singing. Upper West Side

The Temptress Yacht
Drinking and boating are two old friends that never get tired of each other, and when you put them together, you get magic every time. What better way to see the city on her biggest night than from the warm interior decks of a luxury pleasure yacht cruising by the five boroughs with a tall glass in your hand as fireworks explode overhead? Billed as the second largest vessel in New York Harbor (it’s 180 feet long), The Temptress will have a four-hour premium open bar, a mini-buffet, a top-notch DJ, and some of the most privileged views you could want. After the ball drops, disembark for the after-party you’ve already paid for. Forget the hassle—this is a nice, neat little evening wrapped up in shiny black paper with a bow on top. Pier 81 at West 41st Street, 212-691-6693, for more information, go to marcopolocruises.com

Tibet House
The constant deluge of hard drinking and half-baked morning-after apologies can get tiresome after a while. Maybe you’re looking to get more out of your brief existence on this planet than $2,000 bottle service and lame top 40 remixes. How can anyone hear their inner voice with all this noise? It may be time to pack a bag and give your beloved city the finger on your way out. Tibet House is hosting its third annual New Year’s Eve retreat to Menla Mountain in Phoenicia, New York, with three days of yoga, meditation, and discussions on the dharma, and quiet, snow-covered walks in the forest, tranquil waterfalls, and guided enlightenment. Sounds sublime. 22 West 15th Street, 212-807-0563, tibethouse.us, $230–$255

Carolines
As a comedy destination, Carolines is the top of the mountain for all comics on their way to greatness. (Both Bill Hicks and Mitch Hedberg made their last appearances here before departing for the Great Beyond.) But don’t let the chaos outside distract you—there’s a great party happening in this cozy basement. On the biggest night of the year, James Smith, Nate Bargatze, Harrison Greenbaum, Vince August, Kurt Metzger, and Mike Vecchione are some of the acts scheduled for “The Funniest Party in the Universe.” With shows at 8 and 10 p.m. in the heart of Times Square, this is a great place to get warm before the countdown. And if you just want to stay put, you can watch the ball drop on their flat-screen TVs and dance to the music of their live DJ after midnight. 1626 Broadway, 212-757-4100, carolines.com, 8 p.m. show, $38.25; 10 p.m. show, $87

St. Anthony of Padua’s Alcoholics Anonymous Dance
People in AA have a lot of friends these days. And, honestly, I don’t understand how they don’t have more, because the past few years have been a hell ride for most people in this city and, as any seasoned New York veteran knows, it’s easier to cry into your beer than swim against the counter-clockwise current of your life being flushed down the proverbial toilet. While the streets are jam-packed with drunks, it might be time to give some serious consideration to sober living. I’m 90 percent positive that it’s time to try it before she leaves you and they repossess your car. Go and make some new friends—yours are killing you. From 9 p.m. through 2 a.m., 154 Sullivan Street, Basement of St. Anthony’s Church, 212-777-2755, nominal cover

Stay the Hell Home
Dick Clark scares the shit out of me. Ever since my family and friends abandoned me at home with the flu five years ago, I’ve had an issue with him. It was just me and Dick for what seemed like a million eternities. Too weak to find the remote, I lay on the couch shivering uncontrollably while vomiting into a bowl as he shouted at me from across the room. It might have been just a fever-induced hallucination, but the man knows more about me than I care to share here. If you do stay in this year, have your friends come to you—and cancel your cable so no one gets any brilliant ideas. Various locations

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