Arts & Entertainment

  • Best Way to Initiate Yourself into the Rock and Roll Lifestyle

    Terre Roche and Monica Passin's beginning guitar classes at the New School

    Just got an acoustic guitar? No idea how to play it? Why not enroll in Terre Roche and Monica Passin's beginning guitar classes at the New School, and have an internationally acclaimed musician shepherd you through those early months of agonizing ineptitude? Roche is, of course, as-in-the-Roches, and an attentive, witty, and superhumanly patient teacher who knows all sorts of… More >>
  • Best Musician's Bar

    O'Connor's - CLOSED

    Back in my active musician days, I looked for four things in a bar: cheap drinks, not too crowded, great jukebox, no live music (after two hours of drilling your ears out in some aspirin-box of a rehearsal studio, another band is just not what you want to hear). That combination used to be pretty common in the East Village… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy Musical Equipment if You Don't Know What the Hell You're Doing

    Rogue Music

    True gearheads may populate this authentically grungy store at all hours, but novices should not feel shy. The salespeople (and regular loiterers) at Rogue Music will channel their obsessive expertise into helping, not ridiculing, you—even if you walk in looking for an extortion pedal. Be prepared for accounts of personal musical highlights (performers they've seen, performances they've given) and a… More >>
  • Best Place to Get Your Guitar Fixed if You're Prone to Panic Attacks

    Dan's Chelsea Guitars Inc.

    I was only a week into another psychotropic-fueled attempt to rein in my brain when my world came crumbling down at my feet. While leisurely plucking along to a Sonny Sharrock record, I made the startling discovery that my G note didn't match Sonny's. "It's 5:30 p.m. No repair shop will be open now," I whimpered, grinding my teeth. Frothing… More >>
  • Best Rehearsal Space

    Smash Studios

    We'd practiced at every grim band-hole in town—the druggy Ludlow Street basements with mics set to "electrocute," the big-name joints with broken drumheads and elevators that can't be bothered to operate, the pustulant skate-rat hangouts with dysfunctional PAs at extortionate rates. Then we discovered the karmarific Chelsea spot Smash Studios. They've got decent prices (and a three-hours-for-the-price-of-two special most of… More >>
  • Best Club to Get Your Starter Band a Gig

    Acme Underground

    Getting a gig can be very daunting, especially if you're new to town and haven't quite found your way into the inner sanctum of cool cliques. Or maybe you just want your big NYC rock debut to be kept a little low-key so as to not embarrass yourself too badly. This is not to suggest that the bookers at Acme… More >>
  • Best-Paying Rock Club

    Mercury Lounge

    Some clubs are notorious for paying bands unfairly. Most take normal house expenses out of the door charge before a band sees a penny—i.e., the barback, the sound person, the door, and the promoter all get paid first. Then, the measly leftovers are split between three or more bands. If your group is not yet at the fortunate level of… More >>
  • Best Barback in a Music Club

    Jordan at the Knitting Factory

    Working the shift at a totally sold-out Magnetic Fields show, Jordan at the Knitting Factory dealt with a fervent, whining assemblage in need of being turned away by suggesting that people be let in if they were willing to be stamped on the center of their foreheads. But besides being an apt perceiver of vanity, Jordan is never boring, because… More >>
  • Best Rock Club V.I.P. Section Barmaid

    Barbara Shaw at Irving Plaza

    Great venue, but what a shitty V.I.P. section—one third of the balcony, where you spend all evening standing on chairs to see the act or gazing at a muddy monitor. Still, the efficiently smiling service of Barbara Shaw at Irving Plaza makes the shows worth it. Typically in a Gov't Mule tank top, curly-headed Shaw is a tough-ass rock and… More >>
  • Best Backstage Setup

    The Beacon Theater

    Enter the Beacon Theater from the side door tucked in a tunnel off West 74th Street, and you'll find yourself in an industrial peach-beige space straight outta Welles's screen adaptation of Kafka. Get in the rickety elevator, and you can visit the series of cramped dressing rooms and impromptu offices going three flights up. Or you can take a spindly… More >>
  • Best Sound Per Square Foot


    For a small rectangular room with concrete floors and brick walls, Brownies sounds awful damn good. How do they do it? Imported high-dollar high-tech Japanese sound equipment? The concave ceiling? The copper bar? Gnomes, trolls, and brownies that live underground and have dug a network of elaborate sound-enhancing tubes and tunnels? None of the above, but I'd hate to squelch… More >>
  • Best Sound System Guaranteed to Make Your Ears Bleed

    Twilo - CLOSED

    There's much lore surrounding the Twilo sound system. Stories about big-name DJs like Sasha and Digweed jumping off the decks midset and gleefully running to the center of the room to properly hear their favorite record are to be believed once you step inside. The bass manages to rearrange your inner organs, and no matter where you're standing, it's loud,… More >>
  • Best Place To See Up-And-Coming Underground Metal


    Many a head has been banged, fist has been thrown (mostly in the air, hopefully), and devil horn has been flashed at Continental, that connoisseur of choice metallic morsels. Though not exclusively a hesher club (they book a lot of indie and punk), Continental seems to consistently spotlight some of the nation's best relatively unknown metal acts. Past eardrum rupturers… More >>
  • Best Venue to Take Your Little Bro/Sis to His/Her First Punk Show


    So your parents' last hurrah—suave seventh grader, mini-you—has taken to throwing up anarchy symbols on notebooks, and his Catholic-school teachers have begun politely slandering him as "cynical." Bizkit and Backstreet have taken a backseat to Atari Teenage Riot, but the kid's mostly spinning discs you haven't gotten around to selling yet. Enter Brownies for babies, every Sunday night. B-list bands,… More >>
  • Best Defunct Illegal Punk Venue

    The Front

    An art-school fantasy sans wankery, the Front convened (in less than a dozen shows this past winter into spring) not-ready-for-punk-prime-time players (Black Dice, Lovelife), relatively well-known names like Les Savy Fav, and a clutch of acolytes. The wide windows in the half-restored Brooklyn loft framed a swath of the East River and the mass of fluorescent pinpricks on its far… More >>
  • Best Place to Dance Illegally

    Izzy Bar

    Since so many Village clubs and bars don't have a cabaret license—the law prevents people from dancing in such establishments—it's tough to pick the best place to break the law and a sweat simultaneously. Izzy Bar, which frequently has good live funk downstairs and house or funk upstairs, a comfortably worn interior, and a decent amount of space to (not)… More >>
  • Crasher-Friendliest Concert Venue

    Jones Beach

    The name's a misnomer—Jones Beach's amphitheater doesn't just stand on a beach, it actually squats in the shallow waters like a tentative Long Island grandma. The epic view from the nosebleeds (an unbroken horizon line, which reduces any light show to a sinking ship's flare) might make the Moody Blues appear downright inspired; but all those watery surfaces must be… More >>
  • Best Free Concerts

    World Trade Center

    One never actually goes to World Trade Center shows—they're in the epicenter of the financial district, fer chrissakes! However, for all the hype and accolades Central Park's summer season perennially gets, the WTC series has had a far more interesting, potentially more provocative booking pattern over the last few years. Rita Coolidge? Richie Havens? Los Van Van? And the very… More >>
  • Best Venue to Hawk a Loogie From a Bird's-Eye View

    Bowery Ballroom

    Return to childhood bliss and skip up the stairs to the top floor of the Bowery Ballroom. If you can sneak past the hawklike guards hovering over the reserved tables and claim your spitting ground, you're golden! Grab the railings, lean back, and let one fly. Two points for any rocker you splash; triple if you reach the stage. If… More >>
  • Best Place to Snort Something at a Club

    Couches toward the back of Roxy - CLOSED

    Of course I don't do blow. And neither do you. But as for those friends we all have who feel the need to contribute to the horn section—the sniffing, honking line of bathroom stalls at almost any club—it's time they came out of the (water) closet. The trick is to not get paranoid (your heart rate will be too fast… More >>
  • Most Embarrassing Venue to Attend 'cause You'll Feel Like a Hippie

    The Wetlands

    The Volkswagen van and rainbow streak across the upstairs landing, crunchy grade-school-style mural behind the stage, and wall pamphleted with good intentions set the vibe at the Wetlands whether you're scoping the Cannabis Cup Band or the Legendary Pink Dots—guess they had to do something with the half of the main area from which the stage is completely hidden. No… More >>
  • Best Place to Dance to '60s Soul When All You Really Want is to Pick Up a Cute Mod Girl or Boy


    The exception would be the handful of obnoxious regulars with moves as fancy as their clothes: splits and claps and the like. But for the fringed, twiggy masses, "Shout" at 13 on Sundays is the place to preen and be seen. And as if the warm bodies weren't enough, modsploitation flicks project more campy cuteness from a tube mounted by… More >>
  • Best Place to Tell Your Dad You Went to and Have Him Say, 'Oh Yeah, I Was a V.I.P. There in the '80s'

    The Limelight

    My dad totally lived knee-deep in coke'n'whores (rock'n'roll!) back in the day, and I didn't even realize it till he started to prattle on about clients-this and expense-accounts-that in response to an innocent remark I made about a concert I'd been to a the Limelight. I tippled a couple brews while cheering ? and the Mysterians; the old man did… More >>
  • Best Public Use of Disco

    Central Park Dance Skaters Association

    An old woman in a flowy white dancer's gown flits by with an enormous silly grin. She's no doubt playing to the crowd—a mix of tourists, families, business people, and joggers—who have gathered to watch the entertaining promenade of dancers, skaters, and eccentrics get down to hip-hop and disco right in the middle of Central Park. Strolling through on weekends… More >>
  • Best Club Night With the Cutest-Sounding Name

    Tokyo Lucky Hole

    Sweet Scott from Etherea Records runs a techno, deep house, and electro shindig down at Drinkland that's as sweet as its name: Tokyo Lucky Hole. The cozy, psychedelic club serves as the perfect space, too. DJs Khan, Silver, Plexus, and Scott himself regularly grace the decks for a crowd of techno geeks—not to mention the occasional, confused lost-model-scenester who's wandered… More >>
  • Best Techno Night That Needs to Be Revived

    Tru Skül

    Despite NYC's proximity to both Detroit and Europe, the city was largely devoid of big-name techno for some time. The Foundation Crew started Tru Skül a little over a year ago—but after leaving the inadequate Flamingo East, they still haven't landed in a permanent home. (The production team is still throwing one-offs every so often, though.) A few techno events… More >>
  • Best-Dressed DJ

    DJ Silver

    Most DJs are pasty-faced, badly dressed loner-geeks who get girls only because they can spin records. And they are most certainly not known for their fashion taste—unless it's tacky (see Dimitri, Keoki). But Temple Records' DJ Silver, whose dark Italian looks are paired with a shocking platinum-white coif, regularly dresses better than the model-wannabes on the dancefloor. It's not surprising… More >>
  • Sleaziest DJ


    Perhaps the world's only DJ who strips to his own set, Temple Records owner and Matador Records recording artist Khan—when he's not making techno, electro, or weirdo art noise for various labels under various guises—is notorious for raunchy shows that'd be more appropriate for seedy East Village bars than the straightforward, humorless confines of techno clubs. But somehow the Belgian… More >>
  • Best (and Most Eclectic) Radio DJ

    Peter Bochan

    Like all WBAI (home of "HelSCREEEEeeeeeeeecc ccciiiiooonkkkkkk—lo?" "Please, caller, turn down your radio!") personalities, Peter Bochan free associates and muses into the mic while spinning out his weekly All Mixed Up gig (10 a.m. to noon, Mondays, 99.5 FM). An aural cubist, Bochan shuffles together all genres of music, along with interviews, film clips, and speeches spliced from celebrity and… More >>
  • Best Place to Indulge Your Obscure Music Obsession

    The Museum of Television and Radio

    Show up at the Museum of Television and Radio at opening time, or you'll be waiting around all day. Get a pass to the library. If you don't feel like watching the featured exhibits, get a bite to eat. Then go up to the library and look up that famous-or-otherwise band from the '60s or '70s in their database. Chances… More >>
  • Best Place in Gotham to Indulge Your Inner Goth

    The Cloisters

    Great views of the New Jersey Palisades and the 19th-century conduit of Robber Baron products set the mind's eye working: The Cloisters, transported brick by brick from Europa by Rockefeller, is a serene, medieval oasis on the Hudson. But witches and wizards will most be turned on by the unicorn tapestries, lugubrious stone corridors, sepulchres, and monkish courtyards with "jongleur-funk"… More >>
  • Best Place to Purge Shameful '80s Dancing Urges

    The Culture Club - CLOSED

    There'll never be another time like the frizzy-haired, sentimental '80s. And there's nothing like a good solid few hours jumping and swinging and singing loud and badly on your handmade microphone at the Culture Club to '80s classics by Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Def Leppard, and Tina Turner. Every night and twice on weekdays you can don your fluorescent socks, crimp… More >>
  • Best (Yet Another) Impending British Dance Music Invasion of New York Clubland

    Two-step Garage

    For most of the '90s, dance music was on a one-way trip from England to America, with the U.S. desperately scurrying to catch up to the latest Anglo-breakbeat mutations. The turn of the millennium finds it in no better position. Two-step Garage, the r&b-meets-house sensation that's been tearing up London clubland for years, is just now getting its American tourist… More >>
  • Best Club Cheater Guide


    Why put up with annoying 16-year-old street promoters waiting to pounce on you outside a club with cheesy poster-sized rave adverts, or bother with collecting mountains of brochures at record stores around town, when you've got a magazine that does all of that for you, and more? You can pick up Flyer once a month, read funny, snarky reviews and… More >>
  • Best Tactile Dancing Experience

    The Tunnel

    The trippy neo-'70s decor of the Tunnel's cosmic cavern, masterminded by designer Kenny Scharf, provides plenty of blue and red fuzz on the walls for patrons to rub up against. The rest of the room heightens one's sensory enjoyment of the walls, with its black-lit, warped versions of constellations on the ceiling and its vinyl, mirrored half-moon benches. Up to… More >>
  • Best Unaffordable But Unavoidable Club


    When Centro-fly first opened a couple of years ago, it was a breath of fresh air. But now that the steep cover prices, the steep drinks ($8 for a vodka cranberry), and proliferation of girls in leather pants and cowboy hats have sunk in, you know the honeymoon's officially over. The catch: With guest DJs like Derrick Carter, Doc Martin,… More >>
  • Best Club at Which to Suss Out Your Date's Manners


    To descend the stairs into Small's—the smallest, cutest, coziest jazz club in New York—is, in any cultured punter or musician's code of ethics, to commit oneself to a certain zone, a particular frame of mind where socializing becomes less about chitchat and more about a common vibe. Nightly jam sessions for $10 from 10 p.m. (and usually free before 10… More >>
  • Best Piano Bar

    Bill's Gay Nineties - CLOSED

    The night we were in this picture-perfect tintype saloon, Bill's Gay Nineties was completely deserted save for the piano man—who sang and played like Charlie Rich (swoon)—and Ritchie the bartender, who took us upstairs to look at the incredible theater memorabilia. New York's oldest nostalgia bar—starting off as a speakeasy around 1930, soon after repeal, it began featuring old ragtimers… More >>
  • Best Un-Landmarked Music Landmark (Downtown)

    30 Bowery

    That dingy yellow-brick apartment lump at 30 Bowery, across the street from New York Noodletown? The old North American Hotel used to stand there, where blackface fiddler-songwriter Dan Emmett ("Dixie," "Ole Dan Tucker," "Turkey in the Straw") put together the first minstrel band in January 1843. According to everybody who saw them, the Virginia Minstrels thrashed away on their instruments—fiddle,… More >>
  • Best Un-Landmarked Music Landmark (Midtown)

    42 West 38th Street

    Looking at the nondescript brown brick loft building at 42 West 38th Street, you'd never guess that anything earthshaking happened here, ever. But this is where, on the top floor, the Victor Talking Machine Company used to have one of its recording studios, and this is where, on February 26, 1917, five white kids from New Orleans made the very… More >>
  • Best Un-Landmarked Music Landmark (Uptown)

    Renaissance Ballroom

    Harlem used to be known for the swank of its dance palaces, but time hasn't been gentle with them. Urban renewal wiped out the Savoy (it used to stand at 596 Lenox Avenue) and the Cotton Club (644 Lenox Avenue). The shell of Small's Paradise (229 1/2 Seventh Avenue) is barely recognizable, and the Manhattan Casino (Eighth Avenue and 155th… More >>
  • Best Speakeasy

    Milk & Honey

    In choosing to model Milk & Honey—open every night but Sunday from eight to four—after the early prohibition-era speakeasy, Sasha the barkeep not only wanted to give artsy patrons a sense of traveling back in time, he was also determined to change what most of his twentysomething peers consider "standard" bar behavior. Because it disturbs neighbors and fellow patrons alike,… More >>
  • Best Cuban Music Night


    The salsa and occasional fusion styles played at "Cubansoul"—Nell's on Wednesdays—tend toward the traditional, though don't take this to mean more "Cuban": In Havana I gathered that the international pop diaspora isn't restricted there by choice so much as by political and financial finagling—too few off-island records. But kudos to the pre-Castro gangster's paradise conceit wherein soft chandelier light beams… More >>
  • Best Live Bossa For Yer Buck

    Coffee Shop

    Union Square's Coffee Shop provides Saturday-afternoon Brazilian music by Maucha Adnet, heading up a troupe regularly backed by Trio da Paz. Before she relocated to New York City, Adnet sang with Antonio Jobim in the last years of his life. The repertoire is mostly bossa nova classics. And for up to four hours of music, the cost is a cup… More >>
  • Best Musical Approximation Of Time Travel

    Vince Giordano's Nighthawks

    If somebody invented a means of practical time travel, what would you go see? Cicero addressing the Roman Senate, Shakespeare acting at the Globe, Jane Austen pouring tea? The Sex Pistols in San Antonio? Quarterflash at the Us Festival? For me, it'd be the legendary 1926 Roseland battle of the bands—ebony and ivory—between Fletcher Henderson (Coleman Hawkins on tenor) and… More >>
  • Best Nontraditional Instrumentalist

    Pots and Pans Pete

    Perhaps the best show I saw last year was on the corner of 42nd Street and Seventh Avenue, next to the ESPN restaurant. That's where Pots and Pans Pete—a scruffy mid-forties man who drums on some overturned buckets, an occasional legitimate snare, and what looks like Julia Child's cookware collection—had set up camp that night. As Pete banged furious, funky… More >>
  • Best Cabaret Act for People Who Don't Like Cabaret

    Howard Fishman

    Sophistication is usually defined as the absence of country: urbane and urban, same-same. And what's more citified than cabaret? Clever, meticulously crafted songs interpreted with delicacy and tact. Of course, where the rubber meets the road, that translates as often as not into tired old warhorses put across with an enervated, aren't-we-all-too-fabulous archness. Feh. In fact, cabaret could probably use… More >>
  • Best Room to Hear Cabaret

    Firebird Café

    "Intimacy" is the commodity cabaret sells. And Firebird Café is the room that's got intimacy big time—er, better make that small time. Venue's been around for only a few years—the last 10 months under Erv Raible's direction—but its shoe-box configuration (dimensions: approximately 18 feet by 32 feet; capacity: 70) has become a staple. When performers jump, swoop, or amble onto… More >>
  • Best Room to See Cabaret

    Arci's Place

    Few patrons may realize that the first half of Arci's Place's name is short for Arcimboldo—that's Giuseppe Arcimboldo, the 16th-century Italian painter. Once the inspiration's made clear, the aesthetic at play in the room falls into place. Restaurateur John Miller loves art. Only the cover of the menu, however, features Arcimboldo's portraits, which—looked at closely—reveal themselves to be composed of… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy Old Hillbilly Music

    Kim's Music and Video

    A surprising amount of classic hillbilly music was recorded in New York—Uncle Dave Macon, Charlie Poole, Jimmie Rodgers, guys like that. Hell, Rodgers even died here. But all that good down-home fiddlin' and whatnot was strictly for export; it's never been easy to find in NYC, then or since. Until, that is, about four years ago, when a guy named… More >>
  • Best Person to Go to for Cabaret Songs

    John Bucchino

    The boîte woods are full of adept songwriters, all of whom have the craft and drive to produce actable, singable new songs. But John Bucchino is the man of the moment. Substantiation lies in the entertainers who agreed to interpret songs on his first CD, Grateful, The Songs of John Bucchino. Judy Collins, Art Garfunkel, Jimmy Webb, and Michael Feinstein… More >>
  • Best Knocking-On-Broadway's-Door Songwriting Team

    Marcy Heisler and Zina Goldrich

    Now that musical spectacles are dropping like 50-ton flies, showbiz talk is about the direction(s) in which the genre will move. What may score with audiences is tunesmiths who update traditional Broadway conventions with contemporary flair. Marcy Heisler and Zina Goldrich, lyricist and composer respectively, have been turning out smart lyrics and sophisticated melodies for some time. Keep in mind… More >>
  • Best Non-Multiplex Multiplex

    BAM Rose Cinemas

    A huge but welcoming comfort zone, BAM Rose Cinemas boasts the finest multitheater filmgoing amenities in the five boroughs. Featuring vast screens, plush (and steep!) stadium seating, a mix of Angelika-ish current releases and quirky repertory programming, good-natured clientele who remember to turn off their cell phones (one glaring exception: July 9, 9:30, Fallen Angels. All four of you—for shame!),… More >>
  • Best Movie Theater to End It All After Seeing a Dud

    AMC's Empire 25

    Forking over $9.50 for a movie that turns out to be awful or enduring someone's thoughtless jabber during one that's good can be a depressing experience. Now there's a convenient way to remedy those blockbuster blues. On the upper levels of AMC's Manhattan monsterplex, the Empire 25, among the maze of one-way escalators and dead-end corridors, are three open-air observation… More >>
  • Best Movie Theater Candy

    Film Forum

    Decadence is the word for the Film Forum snack experience, where you can sip cappuccino and fork homemade cake in a theater that offers mostly foreign and independent films. The best—yes, the best—lemon cake taunts you from its glass case. Giant cookies and cranberry cake, croissants, and orange-poppyseed slices line the shelves, and there's a whole rack of herbal and… More >>
  • Best Innovation in Concession-Stand Practices

    UA Union Square Stadium 14

    Yes, other theaters have more upwardly mobile snacks. Yes, other theaters have lower prices and better popcorn. But where else but the self-service "butter" stations at Union 14 can you add just as much artificial topping to your formerly healthy filmgoing nibble as your gluttonous little heart desires?… More >>
  • Most Considerate Touch in a Free Program for New Yorkers

    HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival

    HBO's free classic movies in Bryant Park on Monday summer nights are a nice idea to begin with—since you have to get there early to reserve a place, they're like a giant picnic for city residents of every description. And even if it's a little weird to see people cheering the HBO logo animation, the organizers score major points for… More >>
  • Best Theater Seats

    UA Union Square Stadium 14/Second Stage Theatre

    Sure, multiplexes are perfidious conglomerates, pandering to the bourgeoisie and punishing purveyors of independent cinemas. They doubtless belong in the same circle of hell reserved for chain stores and Top 40 radio. But just try working up an acceptable level of ire once you've sunk into the theater seats of the UA Union Square Stadium 14 (850 Broadway, 253-2225). Cushy… More >>
  • Best Parody of a Great Local Tradition

    Expanded Arts' "Shakespeare in the Park(ing Lot)"

    2000 is the sixth year of Expanded Arts' "Shakespeare in the Park(ing Lot)" series—free Will with a prop and costume budget of roughly $1.98, presented in a Lower East Side municipal parking lot to an audience in lawn chairs and the occasional bemused passerby, with trucks rolling loudly in the background. The productions take lots of liberties, but their goofiness… More >>
  • Best Gallery Openings

    Mary Boone Gallery

    Mary Boone is so sure of her own trendy magnetism, she doesn't even offer wine to coax crowds to her gallery uptown. And she doesn't need to. Since the 1980s, when Boone's Soho gallery represented art stars like Eric Fischl and Julian Schnabel, her openings have been hot on the social and celebrity circuit. She's managed to keep showing a… More >>
  • Best Artist-Friendly Gallery

    White Columns

    While most commercial galleries are pumping time and money into glossy ads and clever press kits for a handful of artists, Lauren Ross and Paul Ha—the curators at White Columns, NYC's oldest alternative art space—are combing the city for raw talent, making hundreds of studio visits and reviewing thousands of submitted artists' slides each year. Roughly 20 percent of what… More >>
  • Best Subway Station Art

    Sunset Park's 36th Street N/R station

    The wave of public art installed in the subway system over the past few years has turned some lines into a virtual Armory Show. Our favorite: the mosaics in Sunset Park's 36th Street N/R station. Owen Smith's An Underground Movement: Designers, Builders, Riders consists of five panels illustrating the creation of the subway. With imagery evoking the 1930s, the three… More >>
  • Best Rooftop Urban Park

    Dia Center for the Arts

    Okay, so to call it a park may be a stretch, but it's an optical treat as entertaining as any fountain or path or jungle gym. The "park" project at Dia Center for the Arts was designed by Dan Graham and consists of a large glass sculpture, a café, and a "video salon." The sculpture, a cylindrical glass affair with… More >>
  • Best Room Full of Dirt

    New York Earth Room

    Shopping in Soho got you down? Do you want to get back to the heart of things? Back to the earth? Do I have a place for you, kiddo. The New York Earth Room, a 280,000-pound sculpture by Walter de Maria, has been offering Zen-like escape since 1977, when it was commissioned by the Dia Center for the Arts. It… More >>
  • Best Little-Known Museum

    Hispanic Society of America

    The velvety maroon interior of the Hispanic Society of America, speckled with luminescent candy-copper-coated "lustre" tableware, occasionally reverberates with the voices of blue-shirted guards, but is mostly surface-of-the-moon reeaal quiet. The (not-such-a) big secret is the upside-down inscription that the Duchess of Alba aims a dainty digit at ("Solo Goya"—only Goya) in a portrait by her lover, whose name starts… More >>
  • Best Dance Class

    Ronald K. Brown's Modern Dance

    Located at Bridge for Dance on 105th Street and Broadway, Ronald K. Brown's Modern Dance class draws everyone from Hollywood heartthrob Taye Diggs to Downtown bohemians and die-hard dancers. No matter what your level of experience, award-winning choreographer and teacher Brown welcomes you, creating a warm environment that's free from the intimidating competitiveness characteristic of many New York dance studios.… More >>
  • Best Drumming (and Dance) Circle

    Drummers Grove

    The scene: drummers and musicians, dancers (which includes just about anyone who's able), and hundreds of onlookers all swaying to mesmerizing beats and enticing rhythms. This is "kulcha," Brooklyn-style. Men and women, elders, and young people make music with drums—of many kinds and sizes—and with a variety of instruments, from shakers, bells, and xylophones to trumpets and saxophones. Baba Abú,… More >>
  • Best Place to See a Dance Concert for Free

    New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

    An ideal place for poor dance students who can't afford a trip to Lincoln Center's New York State Theater, the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts houses more than 10,000 dance films and tapes in its Jerome Robbins's Dance Division, located right across the plaza. Open six days a week, it boasts the largest dance archive in the… More >>
  • Best Regularly Held Literary Event

    Stories at the Moth

    Ten thousand audience members can't be wrong. For the last three years, Stories at the Moth has given 250 writers, performers, and regular Joes the opportunity to deliver some of the most memorable and hilarious fictional narratives. What originated as an informal party at novelist George Dawes Green's loft, in which guests would spontaneously spin tales (reading prepared material is… More >>
  • Best Poetry Reading

    Sugar Shack

    The soulful Sugar Shack sits right across the street from Striver's Row, where artists like W.C. Handy, Langston Hughes, and Stepin Fetchit lived, and just a hop from Sugar Hill, home to William Stanley Braithwaite and Aaron Douglas. Harlem's new intelligentsia go here Wednesday (and every other Thursday) nights to wax lyrical while getting their grub on with collard greens… More >>
  • Best Literary New York Neighborhood

    Park Slope

    With a wealth of new restaurants, bars, and cafés popping up all over Fifth Avenue and stroller gridlock suffocating Seventh, Park Slope may appear as the sister neighborhood to the Upper West Side (minus Zabar's and Fairway). But, what distinguishes the Slope from other gentrified New York neighborhoods is its legacy as the home to countless writers, both established and… More >>
  • Best Literary Makeover

    Rose Reading Room

    Admit it: You haven't been to the library—the one with the lions out front—since the grand restoration of its cavernous reading room was completed last year. You remember that room as a sullen crypt with blacked-over windows and some sort of strange, depressing painting on the ceiling that looked like dirty camouflage combat fatigues. But when you return to the… More >>
  • Best Secret of the New York Public Library

    ProQuest Direct

    Cardholders' access to ProQuest Direct is the lazy researcher's best friend. You don't have to actually haul your information-deprived butt out to the library anymore. Just go to the Web site's "Electronic Resources" section, type in your library card number, and presto, about 8000 periodicals are free for the searching, with full text and even photos from most of… More >>
  • Best Room in the New York Public Library

    Oriental Division Reading Room

    When I informed the library staff that I was interested in seeing the numerous rooms barred to the public in order to determine the best one, they all disregarded my inquiry, instead pointing to the Main Reading Room and pronouncing it the best. While I find the reading room both lovely and well-stocked, I much prefer the second floor's picturesque… More >>
  • Best Place to Learn Black History

    Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

    The repository for much history of the Afri-can diaspora, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, is a branch of the NYPL named after one of Harlem's great scholars, Puerto Rican­born Arturo Alfonso Schomburg. The library offers access to a full range of art objects, audiovisuals, newspapers, periodicals, books, exhibitions, and cultural pro- grams and performances.… More >>
  • Best (and Most Informative) Means of Time Travel

    Lower East Side Tenement Museum

    "OK, I want to you to imagine . . . you've just left your family, your country, you don't speak the language here, and this is your new home." We're smooshed together in a dark narrow hallway, where the air is dense and musty and hot and this "imagine" game is getting easier and easier. We visit the Gumpertz family… More >>
  • Best Poor Man's Cruise

    Circle Line

    Did you know that before Abraham Lincoln christened the Brooklyn Navy Yard in 1865, it was called Wallabut Bay? And that during the Revolutionary War, 10,000 American boys as young as 13 were kept in the holds of British ships moored there, and that they were released only in exchange for a pledge of allegiance to the queen? And that… More >>
  • Best Place to Start Thinking About the Revolution

    Brecht Forum

    The Brecht Forum does not offer half-baked ideas about revolution, utopias, and dream worlds that do not exist. They don't just tell you about world poverty and how corporations are eating our resources, or how the American government supports dictators and human-rights violations in the Third World. What the people at the Brecht Forum do is give you the space,… More >>
  • Best Place to See the Formation of a Progressive Third Party

    Green Party

    The Green Party is new to New York, achieving automatic ballot status back in 1998 when Grandpa Al Lewis ran for governor and got more than 50,000 votes. The party is endorsing the Ralph Nader/Winona LaDuke ticket for November's presidential elections, and emphasizes grassroots democracy. You can find a party local in every borough.… More >>
  • Best Place to Spy on Under-Cover Cops

    L train's Bedford stop

    At the L train's Bedford stop, they stand alone (or so you think) with their baggy pants (to hide the pad), long basketball jersey, and backwards baseball cap trying (unsuccessfully) to look hip. If it were not for that one revealing trademark they would almost go unnoticed. But no, a small silver chain hangs discreetly around their necks. They all… More >>
  • Best Unauthorized Parties

    Theme parties on the subway

    A handful of local merrymakers have hit on the fabulous idea of theme parties on the subway. Following a couple of dry runs, like an all-orange party on the F train, they put together a gigantic L-and-A-train shindig this spring. Hundreds of partiers took over a single train one night, wearing masks and costumes and Mardi Gras beads, dinging Hare… More >>
  • Best Tour Around the World for $1.50

    No. 7 Flushing line

    Still a vessel worth embarking on, the elevated No. 7 Flushing line offers something for every interest. Hungry for South Asian food? Amid sari shops, electronics stores, and other import-export businesses in the area, Jackson Heights boasts some of the best and cheapest fare. The latest Hello Kitty accessory? Loll on Main Street, the main artery of Flushing's Koreatown. Irish… More >>
  • Best Brooklyn Odyssey on Four Wheels

    Dollar van

    Your hair won't be blowing in the wind, but crawling through central Brooklyn in a sparsely venti-lated, C.B.-blastin', vaguely legal dollar van offers a nice slice of outer-borough street life and car culture. It's the kind of experience that Theodore Dreiser might have explored in the millennium edition of his poor-but-happy-in-NYC memoir The Color of a Great City. Look for… More >>
  • Best Places to Have a Brush With Someone Who's Had at Least 15 Minutes of Fame

    Astor Place and Broadway/Lincoln Center/Rizzoli Bookstore

    For sightings that make you stop and say, "Hey, ain't that the dude from Scream II, you know, what's his name?" try the corner of Astor Place and Broadway, where you'll find the near-famous on their way to the Public Theater or a quick snip at Astor Place Hair Designers. For Uptown stargazing, Lincoln Center (65th Street and Broadway) is… More >>
  • Best Place to See Where Your Slimy Uncle Phil Hangs


    Uncle Phil is the guy who sweats in 40-degree weather, chews something whenever he's not smoking, and becomes missing in action for months and even years at a time. Uncle Phil . . . or Philly, as your father often refers to him, can probably be found in any number of "slimy" places. But look no further, because there, among… More >>
  • Best Open-Air Bingo Hall

    The 6th Street and Avenue B Community Garden

    The tension was mounting. Amy had her eye on the spin-art paint kit, while Dan coveted the crystal-growing set. Suddenly the dread cry of "Bingo!" rang out, and the winner walked off with a box of bejeweled swizzle sticks. Though luck was against us, we had a blast at the annual bingo night held on the charming grounds of The… More >>
  • Best Foosball Player

    Billy Vargas

    His reputation is near legendary. Many come from far and wide (one even as far as Thailand) to do battle with 22-year-old bartender and foos extremus maximus, Billy Vargas. He claims he can beat just about any player most of the time, and judging from what I've seen, the kid will kick your ass, or at least smash it real… More >>
  • Best Manhattan Pool Hall

    Fat Cat Billiards

    Down in the basement, with its cobalt blue walls, neon, and seedy decor similar to that of a working-man's strip club, is the diamond in the pocket, Fat Cat Billiards. The occasional pool shark withstanding, this gem is actually a quaint and friendly joint populated by as many young women as men, and its eclectic jukebox reflects the racial and… More >>
  • Best Bowling Alley

    Leisure Time Bowling

    "Wow, a Luster King conditioning machine!" Steve cried as we headed for our lane, plastic pitcher of Bud in tow. The jazzy '70s carpet and red plastic seating summoned memories of our Jersey childhoods spent in such alleys—only we were on Level 2 of the Port Authority bus terminal. Incredibly, that's where Leisure Time Bowling sets up its pins. You… More >>
  • Best Joint For the Closet Karaoke Addict

    MBC Music Box

    Are you a shower-stall showstopper but too timid to warble out Pat Benatar in front of drunk, heckling revelers at your local sports bar? Then grab five of your closest friends and head to MBC Music Box, a karaoke joint ensconced in the middle of Little Korea. MBC rents out private rooms for roughly $7.50 per person, depending on the… More >>
  • Best Arcade

    Coney Island's gaming houses

    In addition to the well-publicized porn-shop closures, a great casualty of the Times Square renovations lay in the loss of many a scummy, seedy, splendid arcade. But now, phoenixlike, a new generation of amusement parlors have risen in their place. And they aren't any fun. At Broadway City you can buy the win tickets traded in for prizes. Have they… More >>
  • Best Virtual Sports Arcade


    Living in New York does little to promote an active lifestyle, and outside of gyms, the city can seem quite bereft of recreation. How can one hope to enjoy the excitement of playing sports without having to suffer all the inconvenient consequences, like shortness of breath, heart palpitations, and breaking a sweat? XS New York offers the sedentary an alternative… More >>
  • Best Laser Tag

    Lazer Park

    If you're getting sick of the weekly office softball game, bring your colleagues to Times Square's Lazer Park and get out some cubicle rage using good old guns. The special skinny-person advantage will spark interoffice catfights since you can either pay a flat rate, or opt to get weighed and pay by the pound. Once inside, mask your bitterness and… More >>
  • Best Risk-Free Plane Watching

    median strip at the intersection with Northern Boulevard.

    If your idea of a good time is dialing 505-0555 (Tel Aviv Car Service) and driving midafternoon to the international terminal at JFK to catch an evening flight, then airplanes are an important part of your world. If, however, the recent spate of airplane disasters has made you too nervous to fly (or if you're just too damn broke), get… More >>
  • Best Spot for Sheet Music


    Anyone who buys CDs at Colony deserves what they get, and anyway the store seems to be doing most of its business these days in karaoke gear. So head to the back, for a selection of current sheet music, band and album songbooks, and "classic Broadway hits of the mid '80s"­type anthologies that beats anything on Music Row proper. Naturally,… More >>
  • Best (and Possibly Cheapest) Amusement Ride

    Prospect Park Carousel

    The 88-year-old Prospect Park Carousel—possibly the city's cheapest amusement ride at 50 cents for adults and kids—features 56 stunning wooden creatures designed by legendary Brooklyn horse carver Charles Carmel. A longtime Coney Island fixture, it was moved to Prospect Park in 1952. The dazzling structure fell victim to a lack of funds but was restored to its original grandeur before… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy Jazz

    Jazz Record Center

    Tucked away in an eighth-floor loft near FIT, Fred Cohen's Jazz Record Center is like a private club—it seems like you should have to give a password to get in. Thousands of LPs and almost as many CDs, pictures, videos and books. And a two-man staff (including Cohen, who's owned the joint for 17 years) which knows every note on… More >>
  • Best Playground Apparatus

    Hoyt Playground in Astoria

    At the far side of Hoyt Playground in Astoria lies a large white reclining stone camel. Though a bit cracked and worn, it is as climbable as ever, its neck accustomed to the weight of toddlers scrambling for a ride. A similarly reclining black elephant lies nearby with equally puzzling purpose. Isolated from the rest of the playground equipment, it's… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy Arab Music

    Rashid Sales Co.

    Since 1934, Brooklyn's Rashid Sales Co. has been the HQ for lovers of Arabic music, with a clientele that has included David Byrne, Pete Seeger, and the late Malcolm X. Run by brothers Stanley and Raymond Rashid (the shop was founded by their Lebanese immigrant father) the store is both a bustling record and book shop and one of the… More >>
  • Best Tree to Climb to Spit on Tourists

    Battery Park

    I can deal with spiders, heights, and even tight, stuffy closets. But tourists drive me up walls. And trees. Near the dramatic copper sculpture of pilgrims and expatriates called The Immigrants in front of Battery Park's Castle Clinton, there's a sweet courtyard lined with trees. Luckily, each birch is adorned with branches low enough for even the least daring touristaphobe… More >>
  • Best Place to do Battle with Local Wildlife

    Shore Trail

    Manhattan may be colonized by rats, pigeons, cockroaches, and incontinent dogs, but in New Jersey it's a whole different menagerie. On the far side of the George Washington Bridge, beneath the famed Palisades and along the muddy Hudson, the Shore Trail (climb the steel stairway on the south side of Hudson Terrace in Fort Lee; follow the signs) presents a… More >>
  • Best (Uninterrupted) Walking Route to Manhattan Beach

    Down Ocean Avenue

    A few springs ago, two friends and I walked (nonstop) down Ocean Avenue (starting at the D train's Parkside stop) to Manhattan Beach. This urban trek will take you through the largely Caribbean neighborhood of Flatbush to the Midwood section (home of Young Israel of Midwood at Avenue L, the "First Congregation of Russian Jews," as well as many stately… More >>
  • Best Fly-Fishing Via Public Transportation

    Croton River

    Just an hour-and-a-half train ride from the smut-mag bogs, crawdads living in loafers, and waterlogged condoms of Prospect Park Lake and Harlem Meer lies the trout-rich Croton River. The trip there—through the bustle of Grand Central, up the Metro North Harlem line and into the town of Brewster, past the Mexican landscapers on Main Street and into the Croton's brisk… More >>
  • Best Drum'n'bass Record Store

    Breakbeat Science

    OK, this isn't really fair, seeing as how Breakbeat Science is the only all-jungle wax shop around, not to mention the first of its kind in the good ol' U.S. of A. But still, it's like going to jungle heaven: With a huge back catalog of old and rare releases, as well as a wall full of up-to-date promos and… More >>
  • Best Record Store That's a Bit of a Trip

    Mooncurser Records

    You'll have to make the trek up to City Island, but they've got things you'll never find anywhere else: Mooncurser Records is packed wall to wall and floor to ceiling with vinyl megatonnage—100,000 LPs of every provenance and description, as well as 45s and 78s. Prices are not bargains (but not painful either), the genre classification system is bizarre, and… More >>
  • Best Music Shop to Find Extremely Cheap Cds

    St. Mark's Sounds

    Something old, something new, something for under a dollar? Opened a little over 20 years ago, St. Mark's Sounds, one of the many bantam music shops in the East Village, attracts everyone from Clash City rockers to soldier boys just looking for a Shirelles greatest-hits CD with "Mama Said" on it. While new releases usually go for $9 to $14,… More >>
  • Best Fishing Supply Shop in Manhattan

    Capitol Fishing Tackle218 West 23rd Street

    Moneymakin' Manhattan isn't the place to find dreamy muddy-water bait shops. The Bronx's City Island (Rosenberger's Boat Livery, 718-885-1843) and Brooklyn's Sheepshead Bay (Stella Maris Fishing Station, 718-646-9754) are the places to go if you want the aroma of live bait at the Popeye end of the spectrum. But Manhattan's got Capitol Fishing Tackle—the metro area's mammoth "cinnamon shop" of… More >>
  • Best Cd Listening Stations

    Virgin Megastore - CLOSED

    Slip one of the Union Square Virgin Megastore "I dunno, well over 200?" (clerk's claim) DJ-dork eargoggles (with wrapped cord!) over your noggin, crank the feather-touch, brushed-aluminum volume knob and savor the Shaft soundtrack easing into your consciousness. Witness the placement of Matchbox Twenty's latest album at an "Indie Rock" station (over that awesome Cat Power disc, sob), and homeless… More >>
  • Best Place to Water-Ski

    City Island

    Windsurfing and jet skis have conspired to all but eliminate the more archaic endeavor of water-skiing. Those who are old enough to remember the feeling of wobbling uneasily at the end of a rope while inhaling the sweet perfume of diesel fuel should head on up to the docks at City Island, a throwback to the days of maritime New… More >>
  • Most Conceited Music-Geek Record Store Employees

    Other Music

    While much academic blather has been put to pulp regarding the meaning of the cultural "other," Other Music's pretentious flippancy in adopting the name could be a chapter unto itself. But too much has been said about indie v. über already, so to the ballpoint: Harmony Korine's not-nearly-as-good-as-Gummo background-noise band Ssab Songs gets shelved with special arrivals by the door,… More >>
  • Best Beach for Bodysurfing

    Jacob Riis Park

    If you happen to be one of those people who take to the ocean with the distinct goal of catching waves, New York can be a tough place. The beach at Jacob Riis Park is prone to minuscule waves, Jones Beach is too damn far, and Coney Island is just . . . disgusting. Thankfully, the Rockaways sport a number… More >>
  • Best Place for Kayaking

    Downtown Boathouse at piers 26 and 64

    If you have great memories of kayaking down the old summer-camp lake, the Downtown Boathouse at piers 26 and 64 is the ultimate place to relive them. The volunteer-run boathouse owns about 20 kayaks, available for free public use, and sponsors free three-hour excursions to the Statue of Liberty or Intrepid Museum on Saturdays at 8 a.m.; space is extremely… More >>
  • Best Resident Pets at a Music Retailer

    Generation Records

    The initial allure of Generation Records is simple: offbeat tunes at decent prices, sans the shoebox conditions of Other Music or the icky Astor Place milieu of Mondo Kim's. The shop's real spirit, though, resides in its feline fauna: Reed acts the mascot, he of sleek black coat and haughty demeanor; yet one can't help wondering if this cat's really… More >>
  • Best Record Store Named After its Memorable Owner

    Don's Music

    A slightly hidden, superbly stocked, not exorbitantly expensive, walk-in-closet-sized shop perfectly suited for the garage-rock connoisseur, Don's Music also has a mix of classic-rock, prog-rock, and solid oldies stuff—with just a sliver of new indie output. Handsome, middle-aged Don, who is happy enough to take your special orders as well as stock your suggestions, is the kind of man with… More >>
  • Best Place to See Hip-Hop Celebs Buy Records

    Beat Street

    From high up in the DJ booth, Goldfinger and Kulcha have seen the greats of hip-hop and r&b pass in front of them. Holding it down at Brooklyn's venerable record mecca Beat Street, Goldfinger (who has spun there off and on since the store first opened in 1984) and Kulcha (who's been there for six years) have assisted the likes… More >>
  • Best Natural Rock Climb

    Central Park

    Rock climbing is like any other sport: You can dispense tons of money on equipment in the hopes of looking cool, but in the end it's what you do with the stuff that counts. So forget about the ropes and the fancy-pants crampons. With some chalk and a pair of shoes you can turn Central Park into your personal (and… More >>
  • Best Bocce Courts

    Marine Park Bocce Courts/Dyker Park

    A sport rich in Italian tradition, bocce is an ancient game played with up to eight players on a team. While it's dominated throughout the Apple by espresso-sipping Soprano look-alikes decked in light sweaters, all comers are welcome, especially at the Marine Park Bocce Courts on Jamaica Bay. Prepare for the Nutella Citywide Bocce Championship next month by rolling your… More >>
  • Best Highbrow Sport

    Lawn Bowling

    Although lawn bowling was introduced to America by English colonists in the 17th century, the New York Lawn Bowling Club was founded in Central Park in 1926. Games are played every day, except Mondays, on greens north of Sheep Meadow near the West 69th Street pedestrian entrance. Individuals or two-, three-, or four-person teams earn points or "ends" by the… More >>
  • Best Place to Ball

    Kenya Hunt

    Located smack-dab in the center of Harlem's projects at 155th Street and Eighth Avenue, the legendary Holcombe Rucker Memorial Park's countless stories of underprivileged kids who have risen out of the ghetto through streetball are the stuff hoop dreams are made of. TNT explored its legacy in the documentary, On Hallowed Ground: Streetball Champions of Rucker Park. B-ball legends like… More >>
  • Best Local World Cup

    Chelsea Park

    Baseball may be America's pastime, but soccer is the fastest-growing sport in the city, and adult players from all over the world take their game as seriously here as they did at home. City soccer fields, however, have been in such short supply that amateur teams have been known to bring their own rolls of Astroturf to baseball fields, laying… More >>
  • Best Place to Play Like a Pro

    USTA National Tennis Center

    You can't walk into Yankee Stadium and start shagging flies, and you can't sneak into Madison Square Garden and start raining jumpers. But for as little as $15 an hour, you can belt topspin groundies on the same Deco Turf II trodden upon by Pete and Venus and Andre and Martina. The USTA National Tennis Center was built with public… More >>
  • Best Driving Range

    Golf Club at Chelsea Piers

    A duffer's paradise, the Golf Club at Chelsea Piers houses 52 heated and weather-protected hitting stalls inside a four-level, Japan-style complex. With its 200-yard, net-enclosed artificial-turf fairway, golfers tee off toward the Hudson River and dream of breaking 90. Save unneeded strain on your back by using the automated tee-up mechanism. Show up during off-peak hours for reduced… More >>
  • Best Jogging Track to Overhear Botched Pick-Up Lines

    McCarron Park

    There are a number of unspoken rules that runners abide by, like pretending to twist an ankle just as some speed merchant is about to pass you. Chief among these courtesies is that you keep your mouth shut and leave each other alone. If you happen to find yourself at the track in McCarron Park, however, don't be surprised if… More >>
  • Best Sports-Themed Restaurant

    WWF New York

    Can ya smell what Vince McMahon is cooking? With a surprisingly high-quality menu and a calendar filled with assorted promotional events, WWF New York outlasts its worthy rival/neighbor, ESPN Zone. The Times Square eatery offers dining-in-a-cage, the customary gift shop, and, perhaps, a visit from a WWF superstar. The Official All Star Café, diagonally across the street, is a reminder… More >>
  • Best Minor-League Baseball

    College of Staten Island

    When the Staten Island Yankees move into their new waterfront digs next year, perhaps the Baby Bombers will be able to compete with the closeness and minor-league atmosphere of the Long Island Ducks and EAB Park, as the College of Staten Island is, well . . . Staten Island-ish. Playing in their inaugural season through the last week of September,… More >>
  • Best Place to Move the Mets

    the corner of 39th Street and Second Avenue in Sunset Park

    We hate Shea Stadium too, but we doubt the swellest way to solve the Mets' jet-noise problem is to spend $500 million building a new ballpark under the same flight path. Let alone an Ebbets Field knockoff with a retractable roof. Our proposal: Say goodbye to Flushing and move the Mets to the corner of 39th Street and Second Avenue… More >>
  • Best Superstar Point Guard in Waiting

    Sebastian Telfair

    OK, so two months ago he was an eighth-grader. But Lincoln High frosh-to-be Sebastian Telfair is also Stephon Marbury's cousin, and he seems to have picked up cuz's feel with a ball. At this summer's Adidas ABCD camp, the 15-year-old schooled some of the nation's best high school seniors with his Brinks-like handle and his precocious court vision. Sure, it's… More >>
  • Best Place to See a Ballplayer

    No. 7 Queens express train

    Even before John Rocker blew his lid, the No. 7 Queens express train was one of the best places to get up close and personal with a Major Leaguer. Former Met John Olerud was an almost daily straphanger, and lots of Shea-bound visitors quietly use mass transit. But that doesn't mean the ride's snag-free. I remember Mitch "Wild Thing" Williams… More >>
  • Best Place to Find a Dead Slugger

    Gates of Heaven Cemetery

    It's the ultimate pitching-coach truism: "Babe Ruth is dead. Throw strikes." But if you need proof that goes beyond the Babe's appropriately graphic assessment of his fate ("The termites have got me"), head to Gates of Heaven Cemetery. There the remains of the Sultan of Swat lie alongside those of Condé Nast, Charles Schwab, Lisa Steinberg, umpire John McSherry, and… More >>
  • Best Locale to Conduct a Voodoo Ritual

    Central Park, Fifth Avenue from 106th to 110th streets

    The inspiration for Angel Heart, William Hjortsberg's brilliant novel Falling Angel, describes a 20th-century voodoo ceremony gone down at the Harlem Meer (Dutch for "small sea"). Restored to the rugged topography envisioned by Olmstead when he converted the 11-acre swamp into the park's last hang, it's still a prime locale for Hoodoo mess. Not a decade ago, this eerie, spooky… More >>
  • Best Narnia Portal

    Bellevue Hospital Center

    In C.S. Lewis's legendary series of childhood literature, the sixth installment (The Magician's Nephew) features a "Wood Between the Worlds," where many identical pools serve as portals to different worlds. Another book in the series, The Silver Chair, describes an eerie, giant city in the far Northern Marches, beneath which the protagonists get trapped and ultimately discover the center of… More >>
  • Best Perch

    Mount Morris Fire Watchtower

    Renamed after Back to Africa proselyte Marcus Garvey (1887-1940) in 1973, the Dutch called the 20.2-acre park "Slangberg," or Snake Hill, due to its profusion of reptiles. Its 47-foot cast-iron structure, the Mount Morris Fire Watchtower, with its 10,000-pound bell, was once one of a network of 11 towers—City Hall being the chief fire alarm—and is the only one of… More >>
  • Best Place for the Intrepid Urban Explorer

    The Cloisters

    At the subway yards, there ain't much to see beyond tracks, warehouses, and out-of-commission subway cars. But, as with the Cloisters, it's a site so removed from the workaday banality of the rest of Manhattan that it fascinates. If you stroll up there on a summer day, it seems like you're going to the ends of the known world, although… More >>
  • Best Vacant Lot

    Kent Avenue between 8th and 11th streets in Williamsburg

    Prickly signs warn that trespassers are subject to arrest, but I've seen people walking their dogs here, kids playing on the dock, groups of skateboarders, an old woman collecting cattails, other lone amblers like myself, a film shoot—and no handcuffs. The lot at Kent Avenue between 8th and 11th streets in Williamsburg has riverfront access and one of the most… More >>
  • Best Place to Soak Cash from The Middle Class

    Washington Square Park

    Take yourself, your unicycle, your knives, your whip, or any other instrument you possess to entertain people with and head over to one of the oldest bohemian spots in the city, Washington Square Park. On the weekends, the middle class floats through this place with wads of cash and their little kids in tow, and they're looking to be entertained.… More >>
  • Best Outdoor Space to Write the Great American Novel

    Stuyvesant Square

    OK, maybe just a short story. . . . Well, OK, maybe a memo not to forget to buy Drano or toilet paper. If the ejaculating fountain or roaring traffic along Second Avenue threatens to drown out your muse at Stuyvesant Square, head east toward a bench in the protective shadow of Friends Seminary. You'll find one or two of… More >>
  • Best Park in Which to Achieve a Semblance of Transcendence

    Inwood Hill Park

    Why Inwood Hill Park? Because this hilly, rocky sanctuary that overlooks the Hudson and Spuyten Duyvil is hella far away from Midtown and its mania! Sure, there's an historical marker of a battle fought here with the British. But the north tip's bellicose past recedes in the leafy haven. You can hike and sing to yourself and think deep thoughts… More >>
  • Best Place to 'om'

    Tibetan Mountain temple/Chinese Scholar's Garden/Greenbelt's Moses Mountain

    Monks seek the far-out, the mystical and supernatural, the solitude of a lonely mountain. The Tibetan Museum is just that. Perched on a high hillside and built to resemble a small Tibetan Mountain temple (338 Lighthouse Avenue, Staten Island, 718-987-3500), this place is religiously quiet. But if that's not enough enlightenment, head to the Chinese Scholar's Garden (1000 Richmond Terrace,… More >>
  • Best Place to Acquire Not-Quite-Authorized Music, Post-Napster

    Canal Street

    While Shawn Fanning and Co. fight for your right to download, urban music fans have long been hip to an even more accessible form of alternate distribution. On Canal Street, amidst the broad selection of sunglasses and personal electronic accessories, there's the largest concentration of illegally reproduced CDs and tapes this side of Beijing. Every major hip-hop release graces these… More >>
  • Best Park to Play Hooky, Smoke a Spliff, and Drink 40s

    Madison Square Park

    The thrill of Madison Square Park comes from its being adjacent to one of the city's most dynamic crossroads: Fifth Avenue and 23rd Street. The heaving cement and scraggly trees don't provide much refuge. But you can sip Olde Gold at leisure while watching the mamis and Flatiron hotties parade by. And directly across 23rd, there's a panoply of fatty… More >>
  • Best Place to Pretend You're an Extra from a Spike Lee Flick

    Prospect Park Band Shell

    The Prospect Park Band shell and its summer concert series provide the perfect backdrop for the multiculti fashion show that is Brooklyn's equivalent of the village square. You get all the Afro-urban types found in vintage Lee cinema and his much-vaunted boho wonderland of Fort Greene: hip-hop heads, black lesbian separatists, Afrocentric couples raising babies for the Revolution!, roughnecks, wiggas,… More >>
  • Best Spot to End a Night at Centro-Fly/Twilo

    Chelsea Park

    A sleepy leftover haze from a pill, no taxi in sight, and a long wait for the possibility of any train might leave you strolling amidst Chelsea Park, a fenced square anchored by Chelsea Public School and a random row of brownstones. The relatively serene environs of trees quell the fervor of a night of revelry. Hang here for a… More >>
  • Best Way to Watch the Sun Set Over the City

    Queens Landing

    The developers of the old Queens Landing had the ingenious idea of painting LONG ISLAND and sticking some lights on the gantries that used to suspend cranes, and building a public park around them. A four-minute walk from the Vernon/Jackson subway station (the first 7 stop in Queens), the newish Gantry Park is marvelously solid-looking, faithful to both the industrial… More >>
  • Best Place to Score Street Vinyl

    125th Street and Lenox Avenue

    You know blackfolks don't like inclement weather. Thus, whenever it's fine outdoors, you'll find Brotherman, potbellied in a tee, hovering over a slew of milk crates chock full o' vinyl at 125th Street and Lenox Avenue, a/k/a Malcolm X Boulevard, a/k/a Harlem's Historic Crossroads. It may look like a bunch of old trash, but don't be the fool who sticks… More >>
  • Best View of Manhattan

    Victory Boulevard

    Driving north on Victory Boulevard (nobody walks on Staten Island) past Silver Lake Park, you could be anywhere in the Northeast—hills, trees, nondescript brick buildings. Then, just as you crest the brow of Grymes Hill and start down the long slope that ends in the island's north shore, the trees part and your gaze suddenly shoots over a mile or… More >>
  • Best Place to Gauge How the Puffy Aesthetic Has Overtaken Black America

    Harlem USA

    The block-long minimall Harlem USA, developed for almost a decade beneath the aegis of Apollo owner Percy Sutton's crew, rather demonstrates the glitzy, Uptown-centric, consumption-driven, postgangsta zeitgeist. Basically, it's just a Rubik's Cube hunk of glass, housing the same Disney and Gap shops you can frequent at 34th and 42nd streets. The sole boon is the Magic Johnson cinema. And… More >>
  • Best View of Uptown Manhattan

    Columbia University

    Screw the Greatest Bar on Earth (near the tip-top of the Twin Towers). Instead, do keg stands at a Columbia University frat party and then sneak to the roof of the S.W. Mudd building, the 15-story engineering tower. Observe champagne bottles dropped in revelry during roof parties passed, or almost as interesting, every major (tall) landmark in Manhattan, and some… More >>
  • Best Honeycomb Hideout for Maggot-Brained Vinyl Fetishists and Wigga Boyz Who Think Beck's a Prophet

    Finyl Vinyl

    As a po' brokedown rock critic, I never actually have any money, so I just roll up on small East Village shop Finyl Vinyl to drool over the wall where divine proprietor Robert displays all the latest funk and soul rarities that have resurfaced. One-stop shopping: Chocolate Milk, Cymande, and Allen Toussaint. There's stuff on the rock side too (right… More >>
  • Best Phenomenal View of New York Harbor

    Express Bus to Manhattan from Staten Island

    You want a great view of NYC but your helicopter's on the fritz? No worry. Take an express bus to Manhattan from Staten Island, and when you cross the Verrazano Bridge, you'll be at one of New York's best vantage points. In one turn of the head you can see Sandy Hook, the Atlantic Ocean, Coney Island's Parachute Jump, the… More >>
  • Next Best Thing to Eden

    Brooklyn Botanic Garden

    Right next to Prospect Park, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is a verdant escape from the pulsing, postlapsarian havoc of the city. The 52-acre garden is a seductive expanse of wisteria-covered pergolas, towering oaks, flowering crab apple trees, and a vivid palette of exotic flora. Stroll through the Cranford Rose Garden and smell the heady perfume of hybrid tea roses, or… More >>
  • Best Place to Take Wedding Shots

    Conservatory Garden

    You won't find a better location than the Conservatory Garden, covering six acres, on Fifth Avenue at 105th Street. The French (north) garden has 20,000 tulips that bloom in spring, with the Untermyer Fountain—a gift of the Samuel Untermyer family in 1947—at its center. The English (south) garden has a reflecting pool filled with waterlilies and goldfish. The entrance gates… More >>
  • Best Brooklyn Nature Center

    Salt Marsh Nature Center

    Definitely one of the borough's most beautiful nature hideaways is the recently opened Salt Marsh Nature Center in Jamaica Bay. Hidden at the end of a seemingly typical industrial Brooklyn backdrop is an engaging grassy-marsh landscape with rows and rows of low trees and a plethora of indigenous birds such as black skimmers, bufflehead ducks, egrets, and blue herons. The… More >>
  • Best Place to See A Geologic Phenomenon

    Manhattan Ridge

    New York City is famous for its dazzling man-made structures. But Mother Nature's oeuvres are often hidden in plain sight. One of them is the Manhattan Ridge, formed primarily of erosion-resistant mica schist more than 350 million years ago during the Paleozoic age. Its sheer cliffs—easily visible from the Major Deegan Expressway—tower over the Harlem River and the Harlem River… More >>
  • Best Truly Scary Thrill You Pay For

    Coney Island

    Want to be fucking terrified? Do you enjoy being on the brink of real physical disaster? If yes, I highly recommend an afternoon at dilapidated Coney Island amusement park, with the following special activities in mind: (1) The Pirate Ship, which was conducted by a lunatic youth who thought it funny to snap open the safety bars midswing, provoking the… More >>
  • Best Record Store/Café/Antique Store/Hangout


    High concept Halcyon isn't—the joke goes that they're thinking of putting in an accountant and a dry-cleaning drop-off—but this Carroll Gardens spot is an utterly agreeable place to spend a couple of hours. In front there's a snack and beverage counter, fashionista magazines, and some plush old couches; in back there are record racks with new club 12-inches and assorted… More >>
  • Best Multiproduction Social Club

    Caviar Studios

    Not only the "best" but most certainly the only Brooklyn club that can say it houses a recording studio, two bars, two DJ booths, two dancefloors, reggae, house, dancehall, r&b, hip-hop, jazz, ska, VIP rooms, an art gallery, a fine French-Asian-Caribbean kitchen, and more, Caviar Studios is the brand-new baby of the symbiotic marriage of five different production companies. Run… More >>
  • Best Insane Brooklyn Weekend Spot to See Bands


    Every few weekends in the summer, and occasionally at other times of the year, the Williamsburg basement calling itself Rubulad puts on a show, and they don't do it in a small way—it usually involves local and out-of-town bands, weird arty decorations all over the place, DJs, slide shows, costumes, quasi-legal beverages, drone-chants, giant-sized puppet shows, circus performers, cookouts, and… More >>
  • Best Brooklyn Performance Spot, Retrofitted Elegance Division


    BAM's multimillion-dollar renovation has infused the venerable institution with the charm of the nouvelle hip. In addition to the BAM Rose Cinemas—at which the film selection rivals that of any Manhattan art-house theater—there's BAMcafé, the steeple-strewn upstairs performance space that meshes church inspirations with contemporary design touches like exposed blue metal arches. The performance mix is just as varied, ranging… More >>
  • Best Found Space Appropriated for Art and Music

    Brooklyn Anchorage

    Evolving out of past incarnations as a farmers' market, a children's playground, and a storage area for tires, the Brooklyn Anchorage's dramatic, cavelike, under-the-bridge space has been open to the public for music and art shows since 1983; nowadays, blippy, minimal electronic stuff bounces through, sounding the way the bridge might move and talk. Programming has ranged from Southeast Asian… More >>
  • Best Not-Exactly-Christmas-Caroling Event

    Unsilent Night

    Every winter for the past eight years, composer Phil Kline has staged the marvelous sound-art event Unsilent Night, and every year it's gotten a little bigger. A few hundred people and their boomboxes congregate in Washington Square Park, and Kline hands each of them a tape that's a component of his instrumental piece. Everyone presses play at the same time,… More >>
  • Best Singing-Telegram Company

    Best Singing Telegram Company

    Post­love quarrel, if your significant other apologized via an enormous, grass-skirted, pink singing gorilla, would you forgive him or her? Thanks to the Best Singing Telegram Company (yes, that's its name!), everyday people are being wooed by giant bananas, policemen, chickens, and penguins sent to them by loved ones. For the bold, the shameless, and the silly, a mere $85… More >>
  • Best Karaoke Song List

    Toto Music Studio

    Next time you're trying to plan a night when your friends will be forced to get their asses off a bar stool and allow their inner rock stars to express themselves, try karaoke in Koreatown. Toto Music Studio is unique for its private rooms, where you're left to your own devices with two mics, a disco ball, and a few… More >>
  • Best Place to Get a Tattoo and Listen to Bald Boys Sing SinÉAd O'connor Covers

    East Side Ink

    Aside from their amazing penmanship, the people at East Side Ink can wail. And between shifts of carving on skin and crafting comic-book creatures, the staff of artists and piercers gathers around and calls in the spirit of Sinéad and other pop gods and goddesses to entertain customers cringing with pain, and to drown out the sound of the occasional… More >>
  • Best Place to Be Serenaded by a Hermaphrodite

    The corner of Broad Street and Wall Street

    Just stand at the corner of Broad Street and Wall Street and push the button. But before you do, get a rose for your mouth and let your hair down. Ignore the adolescent stockbroker wannabes squatting on the steps chuckling and attempting to get a date for Saturday night, and brace yourself. Then simply meander close to the blue cow… More >>
  • Best Place to Be Serenaded by Celine Dion Songs

    Madras Mahal

    What could aggravate one's food decision-making process more than an unwelcome burst of "when you touch me like this, and you hold me like that . . . " from the waiter? One is unsure how to react to being sung to while simultaneously being pressured to settle on a meal for the evening. At Madras Mahal, a delicious kosher… More >>
  • Craziest Deli to Rock With Your Sandwich

    Angela's Rock 'N Roll Deli

    If you've had enough of Hard Rock Cafe's gargantuan prices and don't care whose stale guitar is dusting the wall, head on down to Angela's Rock 'N Roll Deli, where, if you don't mind the face of Slash or Axl, you might still have an appetite. Classic rock blares while you grab a quick bite before heading to Central Park.… More >>
  • Best Jazz/Blues Jukebox

    Rudy's Bar and Grill

    Next time you're in Hell's Kitchen, make a pit stop at Rudy's Bar and Grill. Since 1934, Rudy's has supplemented its reasonably priced drinks with the best tunes in the area. The infamous jukebox contains such greats as Thelonious Monk, Herbie Mann, Willie Dixon, and Muddy Waters, though don't be surprised if your ears happen on some good ol' rock… More >>
  • Best View From a Hoboken Bar

    City Bistro

    Hoboken's City Bistro offers a Woody Allen- like view of Manhattan from its roof, where service starts at 6 and the atmosphere is casual. Drinks from the full-deck bar are served in plastic cups and there is no food service. But if you feel like satisfying your sophisticated appetite before joining the party, the seven-month-old family-owned location serves a great… More >>
  • Best Unexpected Dive Jukebox


    You wouldn't think it from looking at the place, but East Village hangout Phoenix has a wicked selection of tunes. The bare-bones bar looks like a million others, with a pool table near the back; the clientele, mostly gay men in their mid twenties to mid thirties, are there to relax, not necessarily to find a date. But the jukebox… More >>
  • Best Upper West Side Jukebox

    Dublin House

    If you find yourself trapped among Upper West Side yuppie hangouts like Merchants, take advantage of the opportunity to have a pint of Guinness or a pitcher of something less authentic at Dublin House and sit in a wooden booth watching TV. The crowd is undeniably irritating most of the time, but much less offensive than at more expensive bars… More >>
  • Best (Nonjukebox) Bar to Hear Notorious B.I.G. Followed Immediately by the Psychedelic Furs


    No cloying irony at Decibel, where the disc-jockey waitstaff simply seem to play what they like, and though individual picks often blow (Lenny Kravitz's 5 in its entirety!), segues can be rewardingly fucking weird. You usually have to wait out a long play to get the far-out effect, so slowly sip your Asahi Blacks (or sample some sakes). Or multiply… More >>
  • Best Indie Jukebox


    Inside a square, red-box building that looks decidedly like a London telephone booth lies dimly lit pub-type bar Boat, where Brooklyn folks gather afternoon and night—lured, no doubt, by a dark and cozy couches-and-sipping atmosphere enhanced by an old-style jukebox filled with indie classics. You get one play for a quarter or four for a dollar from a predominantly mellow… More >>
  • Best Place to Hear the Replacements' 'Here Comes a Regular'

    Mars Bar - CLOSED

    "Well, a person can work up a mean, mean thirst after a hard day of nothing much at all," goes the ultimate wounded-romantic ballad for go-nowhere drunks, and it's a sentiment that resonates deeply at the Mars Bar. Two heads slump over the bar and marinate in their own saliva. . . . A fading artist addresses everyone by saying,… More >>
  • Best Place to Wish You Could Still Sing Donny Hathaway's 'The Ghetto'

    Harlem's West 140th Street

    Chase Manhattan done gone and converted the majority of the tenements on Harlem's West 140th Street into refurbished, low-income housing. The block recently looked like Beirut, its bombed-out, fire-ravaged hulls a glaring contrast to its shining, pristine Italianate neighbors to the immediate south at Striver's Row. Today, the gulf within the block—between the restorations and a graffitied, bricked-up eyesore that's… More >>
  • Best Mutimedia Space

    Brooklyn Bridge Anchorage

    It makes sense that Brooklyn Bridge master architect John Roebling once wrote an essay entitled "Roebling's Theory of the Universe." Only the Brooklyn Bridge Anchorage, a space with its very own cosmology, could make a crowd so joyously endure Glenn Branca's loud-as-hell Symphony No. 12 and the chest-rattling drones of Granular Synthesis's sound-and-video installation as they did at "Creative Time… More >>
  • Best Foosball Table

    Luna Lounge

    Some may argue that table soccer does not a legitimate sport make. But contrary to popular opinion, it requires degrees of speed, agility, and astuteness. A premium well-lit table with smooth rods and proper balancing is also key. After scouring the city for just the right table, Luna Lounge, a nondescript, smoke-filled den on Ludlow Street, beat out the competition.… More >>
  • Best Techno Record Store

    Temple Records

    It's big, it's colorful, and it's owned by the notorious Khan and his minions of techno nerds who can guide you to every kind of four-to-the-floor and electro record available. Said records are stacked on TEMPLE's walls (new releases) or filed in big bins (older stuff), and are easy to browse through. You can smoke and people-watch as folks pass… More >>