Arts & Entertainment

  • best multi-speaker-surround-sound performance space

    ENGINE 27

    Your living room probably has a better sound system than most New York clubs. But if you want to get a true quadra-quadra-quadra-quadra stereo experience, ENGINE 27 has it. Sixteen speakers (each of them with two- or three-way setups) are strewn throughout the space, making for a fascinating variety of aural experiences. Add to that performances by the crème de… More >>
  • best venue for avant-minimalist noise rock


    Artists claiming a platform of second-wave neo-Dadaism staged a series of Cabaret Voltaire-style performances replete with "failed" (black) paintings strewn about the walls and floors of Soho gallery space the SWISS INSTITUTE. What emerged, however, was a venue for hippies and hipsters alike to huddle attentively, attuned to great noise from Black Dice to Christian Marclay. The earsplitting atonal technological… More >>
  • best local label that takes way too long to get around to actually putting out music in america


    The first few singles on DFA RECORDS were monster jams: the Rapture's "House of Jealous Lovers" and knockouts by the Juan Maclean and LCD Soundsystem. So what happened? The next Rapture single only came out in England; the DFA production team's inspired mix CDs appeared with a British magazine and as a pricey French import. Two more long-delayed singles appeared… More >>
  • best little labels that could


    With New York reclaiming its crown as Rock Capital, lots of NYC-based indies are like household names. Yet, sister companies TIGER STYLE AND INSOUND have been unfairly ignored. Tiger Style's roster includes indie-rock heavyweights Rye Coalition (toured with Queens of the Stone Age and the Mars Volta), the Album Leaf (recording with Sigur Rós), and James Chance (arguably the founding… More >>
  • best resource for starting that indie label you keep talking about


    So you know this fantastic Williamsburg klezmer-influenced doom-electro band, and somebody has to put their album out before the tuba player and the tambourinist kill each other, but you have no idea how to deal with CD manufacturers and printers if you're not pressing 100,000 discs. Not to worry. A TO Z MUSIC SERVICES will do it up for you… More >>
  • best way to keep up with punk-rock glitterati


    It's not easy to leave town. When you do—stock up on art mags, don't order house wine, and make sure to sign up for the NEW YORK CITY SELF-STARTER FOUNDATION E-MAIL LIST. Each week, Chris Newmyer's psychotic fan-boy (slash-label-owner-slash-benevolent-promoter) message will let you know every kickass show you've missed and all the sorta lame DJ nights at which you could've… More >>
  • best scenester


    Remember when you moved here and just had to go to a rock show every night, sometimes two or even three? That's MISS MODERNAGE. Just keeping up with her blog is exhausting: She posts pics from stageside of every new band worth seeing (and then some), along with the latest news about, say, Jack White's hair. Even when she acts… More >>
  • best subway-themed entertainment writer


    The underground musicians I love aren't the so-five-minutes-ago flavor of the day; they're ancient mental patients and their accordions, young guys drumming on plastic buckets, one-chord wonders torturing acoustic guitars. Subway fiddler-turned-zinester ELIZABETH GENCO tells stories from the other side of the tip cup in her zine Platform. If you see her on the F train, give her a dollar.… More >>
  • best mexican music in a moving vehicle


    What goes better with your morning margarita than a THREE-PIECE MARIACHI BAND ON THE F TRAIN? Watch as they dexterously weave their way through unblinking commuters conjuring the spirit of Meh-hee-co and belting Aye-yae-yae's till you wish you were at work already. If only they brought the huevos rancheros.… More >>
  • best amateur opera singer


    Beyond the pan flute troupes tootling Simon & Garfunkel and the panhandlers singing Van Morrison, there's a tier of subway musicians who make noise because that's where their potential audiences are. The longest-running underground engagement belongs to the OCTOGENARIAN WOMAN WHO HANGS OUT ON GRAND CENTRAL'S NO. 7 PLATFORM at night—she's not there all the time, but she's been putting… More >>
  • best use of tracy chapman's 'baby can i hold you'


    If you've ever wondered what happened to Tracy Chapman after Amnesty International's '88 tour, look no further than your local F line. Now she's a toothless man and he calls himself STEELTOE ZIGGY, and he sings and strums sadness that will levitate coins from your pocket to his hat like a beachcomber at Coney Island.… More >>
  • best dirty old man


    He looks like your grandfather; he thinks like your horny 13-year-old brother. He's BINGO GAZINGO, poet-performance artist- outsider music superstar and author of such epics as "I Love You So Fucking Much I Can't Shit." The seventysomething has been tearing it up on the downtown scene with his hilarious, potty-mouthed odes to female celebrities and bodily functions.… More >>
  • best up-and-coming rapper at bergen street quickie mart


    WordSound recording artist SENSATIONAL burned a few bridges and more than a few jays since his days touring Europe. We can't recommend his new self-released hustle, I mean album, but we do look forward to his imminent comeback.… More >>
  • best new singing comedian


    He's an entertainer rather than "just" a comedian, but when this wild-maned bigfoot squeezed into a mono-suit rocks "Hot for Teacher" on his accordion, it's funny. Jon Cunningham's creation, CORN MO, began as a Gong Show entry at his college, but has carried him to Jimmy Kimmel's show and TRL. They Might Be Giants and Brave Combo are his inspirations,… More >>
  • best hobbit-themed rap group


    Tonic and the Knitting Factory aren't known for hip-hop. Hip-hop acts don't usually proclaim, "It's the chronic pipe weed that I'm smoking/When I get high, I spin tales like Tolkien" either. The hairy feet are the giveaway: Quickbeam and Bombadil are hobbits! The LORDS OF THE RHYMES used to fuck shit up at Brandy-buck Hall, but now they kick it… More >>
  • best macabre standards-crooner without a washed-up rock career to make it necessary


    The goth-ish surname made it not desperation, but destiny, that would drive EDDIE SKULLER to lurk in the shadows of the popular songbook and sing what he saw there. With androgynous angel delivery and a Rat Pack pallbearer wardrobe, Skuller takes you on a pub crawl from paradise to the pit and back, spiking supper-club standbys with troubling undertones and… More >>
  • best gay heavy metal band


    The Crüe-bating out-rock bad-boy band PINK STËËL sounds better than you might imagine, once told that the Stëël are a two-man cabaret act. Their formula is simple—change any hair band's praise of rock to cock and poof! The heavy metal parking lot becomes homo a-go-go. In copious leather and pink spandex, Hanson Jobb and Udo Von DüYü are two of… More >>
  • best new spinoff band


    Loving a band means being extremely wary of the former members' new bands. So when the HOLD STEADY began gigging earlier this year, the fix was in: No way would they be as good as singer-guitarist Craig Finn and lead guitarist Tad Kubler's previous outfit, late-'90s Minneapolis indie-rock gods Lifter Puller. And they're not—but a handful of shows, each shading… More >>
  • best feminist freak


    "Not only were we 20 years ahead, musically, of our time, and revolutionary, spiritually, socially and clothes-wise, but we were girls," quoth modest musician, slutty-dancehall-clothing designer, mother of three, and Brooklyn resident ARI-UP recently in Kitty Magik magazine—and I dare anyone to argue with her Slitty superlatives. These past few years indeed mark the Return of the Giant Slit to… More >>
  • best scumbag in band


    In "Don't Be Scared," the third best song of 2003, BRAIN FROM A.R.E. WEAPONS howls, "People think you're a loser, a drug abuser, 'cause you like to get high—that's OK, Mommy, so do I!" and "People think you're a spaz, just 'cause you're a spaz—spaz on, Spaz!" Unforgivably, he brained my good friend Tricia Romano with a microphone stand at… More >>
  • best haircut by a rock star


    Rockin' hair is hard to come by—for authenticity, you'd have to tangle in pomade, smoky residue, and bus window bed head. Or contact L.E.S. troubadour JULIA DARLING, who will layer and lather your locks till they sing songs for you. If you're lucky she'll play her self-titled album during the shampoo and strum along with the kickass chorus while your… More >>
  • best yeah yeah yeah


    The band's spotlight focuses almost exclusively on the lopsided swirl and howl of Karen O, but NICK ZINNER's angular blues grooves and wave of mutilated guitar is the canvas for Karen's Pollockian vocal stylings—no disrespect to drummer Brian Chase. Plus Nick likes to talk about rock in interviews, not art.… More >>
  • best celeb spotting at shows


    It's an unspoken rule that you should appear unfazed when you see a celebrity in person. That's why it's been sorta funny to see everyone notice but, er, not notice the ubiquity of JAMES IHA at many of the city's venues for the last few months. The co-founder of Scratchie Records looks just like any other rocker checking out a… More >>
  • best café to see moby playing scrabble late at night


    The card at TEANY reads, "proprietors kelly + moby," but I wouldn't expect the man behind Play to serve your chai latte and squash soup. It's not exactly his Cheers, even though everyone does know his name. But Teany allows Moby the privilege of inviting his friends to a heated late-night battle of the lettered tiles at a corner table.… More >>
  • best superclub concocted by some scary corporate cult


    Taking over the old Twilo space this month, the Dublin-based SPIRIT nightclub franchise supposedly chose Manhattan because "the rock was revered as a sacred place by the Indians." The multimedia venue, to feature top-name DJs, also promises trained healers, and greets visitors to its website with the rather baffling salutation "Welcome to Phase 2." The question on everybody's minds: When… More >>
  • best underground punk promoter


    In one year, TOM HYLAND has established his Dot Dash shows as the primary source for punk sounds in New York. The first show—Rogers Sisters, Little Killers, and Dementia 13—was held at the out-of-the-way Local, but now he roves the city for venues so out-of-town bands like the Clone Defects, Spits, and Anteenagers MC can get the cretins hopping. Locally,… More >>
  • best southern new jersey metal bar mistakenly airlifted into williamsburg


    Though the lacquered sports bar shines, the bartenders and "Sweet Child O' Mine" vibe remind me of my Poison-loving sister. REDD'S TAVERN would make more sense at the Jersey Shore, yet it sits mere minutes from Bedford Avenue, offering free popcorn, cheap beer, non-ironic "Iron Man" sing-alongs, a dearth of trucker caps, and a Dave Navarro doppelgänger whose band opened… More >>
  • best club to sit with tourists named sven and see forgotten bands


    OK, I know you might have that Disney- Times Square bug-up-your-ass thing, but believe me, good times can be had at midtown monster B.B. KING BLUES CLUB & GRILL, with its eclectic choices of bands, from whatever-happened-to acts like the Zombies and Animals to Mr. King himself. Watch over martinis, at a table shared with a guy from Holland.… More >>
  • best naughty-named party promoters


    I used to cringe when I said the name. "Yeah, I'm going to the, uh (in a low whisper), MOTHERFUCKER party tonight." But now, I say it loud and proud, because Michael T, Justine D, and their fabulous door bitch Thomas offer a guaranteed good time on the most annoying of nights to go out in New York—namely, major holidays.… More >>
  • best music-conscious art gallery to freak out claustrophobics


    The nine-by-26-foot dimensions might suggest an average New York apartment, but actually you're in one of the hippest art spaces around. BIG CAT GALLERY has featured exhibits by Jon Langford (of Mekons and Waco Brothers fame) and Gary Panter (Pee-Wee's Playhouse) as well as artists with musical clients who call upon them for designs: Tony Fitzpatrick (Steve Earle), Tom Huck… More >>
  • best high school radio station


    So what if C89.5 is staffed by students at Seattle's Nathan Hale High School? A station that broadcasts hi-NRG disco all day, punctuated by the occasional goth specialty show, is automatically the best in New York, especially if it webcasts. Set your browser to, crank up the tinny speakers, and send them a few bucks; they're nonprofit.… More >>
  • best reason not to buy an ipod

    Channels 601 to 645, Time Warner Digital Cable

    The Music Choice channels on Time Warner Digital Cable stream nonstop tunes through subscriber lines with 45 genres to choose from. Each category is its own channel and the giants are broken down pretty specifically (Jazz, Smooth Jazz, Big Band & Swing, Singers & Standards). Any stop on your remote between 601 and 645 has a decent enough variety, and… More >>
  • best place to invest in a $75 album you could probably download for free


    With the RIAA still hollering about its impending file-sharing lawsuits, what better time to support your local broadband-free proprietor of live and rare recordings? Vacate your roommate's computer chair, wiggle into some pants, and proceed directly to BLEECKER BOB'S, where you'll mingle (in the flesh) with New York's classiest audiophiles, goths, beatniks, and punks. Considering the RIAA's going rate (upward… More >>
  • best used section


    Pretentious record store employees are a turn-off, but not as frustrating as going through a store's used section and seeing things you'd never want to buy. ETHEREA, a mainstay of Alphabet City, is the perfect place to turn that frown upside down. The used section has reasonable prices and phenomenal selection—a great mix of new stuff and older stuff, and… More >>
  • best alleyway to find your cd book for sale


    Did you lose your 200-CD book at some point? Well, you probably thought it was hopeless, but you may be able to find it in this alleyway. It's the CASE LOGIC LOST AND FOUND OF NEW YORK. Or a Case Logic pawn shop, more realistically. There are tables and tables of CD books here full of CDs that are way… More >>
  • best current 93 selection


    Inadequately lit and nearly devoid of windows, MONDO KIM'S is essential for the dark-minded completist looking to fill nagging gaps in the prized Current 93 collection. Though the fragments of David Tibet's extensive (and expensive) oeuvre aren't filed in any order, his apocalyptic folk noise is bookmarked by fellow travelers Coil and Nurse With Wound, illustrating through product placement the… More >>
  • best graveyard for a concert


    And movies too! "Only the dead know Brooklyn," it's said, but to prove this is not so, GREEN-WOOD CEMETERY hosts a new series of both live music and movies in its chapel. You can take in everything from jazz to chamber: the sounds of life, before . . . well, I won't go there. Classic films of all genres are… More >>
  • best washed-up '70s punk salesclerks


    Many surly young women staff TRASH AND VAUDEVILLE, but the best-ever person you hope will attend to you is this friendly glam-punk dude with a dyed blond metal haircut; a vacant yet appealing look of been-there, done-that; and a hairless, wiry body like Iggy's. You can tell a mile away that this worldly-wise retailer has been an East Village denizen… More >>
  • best health food store that employs polish goth girls


    For those who like Bauhaus with their bulgar, a trip to THE GARDEN promises black hair, nose rings, clunky silver jewelry, and Eastern European accents. (Grab that fake-ass bacon, whisper "Czarny staje sie wami" or something deep about Marilyn Manson, and listen for distant sighs!) Though the dudes grinding the French roast don't share the same outward aesthetic, my best… More >>
  • best grocery store music


    When brainwashing is this much fun who cares? KEY FOOD ON FIFTH AVENUE IN BROOKLYN has its Muzak satellite tuned to a stream of 1960s rock, soul, and pop (original versions, no instrumental remakes) that feels more Sock Hop than Supermarket. Assistant manager Tyrone Bradley says, "I have seen it all—people dancing and singing. They keep on shopping because they… More >>
  • best free music experience


    The VILLAGE FARM AND GROCERY is a shopping trap. They play such banging CDs (soundtracks to Bollywood films, Indian electronica, etc.) that there is a tendency to over- shop in order to finish listening to whatever 14-minute song is in rotation at checkout time. Five pills of E and seven hours later, you've bought waaaay more tuna and peanut butter… More >>
  • best indian music store


    When you see J.Lo and Adnan Sami together on a compilation CD at RAAGA, the Virgin Megastore of Jackson Heights, you're not stumbling on some pirated bootleg, explains owner Priya Gopalan, who along with her husband started Raaga ten years ago. They wanted to have an outlet that carries all genres of Indian music: Ghazals, Hindi pop, devotional, even karaoke.… More >>
  • best place to get your greek on


    An Astoria mainstay, candlelit restaurant CÁVO CAFE LOUNGE morphs by night into a packed nightclub—all 4,000 square feet of it. Here, swarthy men in shiny tight black T-shirts meet their hotpants-clad women to the beats that pump into the wee hours. Watch for the 3 a.m. switch to Greek-language techno and the inevitable Zorba's dance at the end of the… More >>
  • best dance studio


    Purge your mind of any associations between the word "dance" and flashbacks to frilly tutus, torturous pointe shoes, anorexia, or embarrassing recitals. DJONIBA DANCE & DRUM CENTRE is the type of place to get barefoot and relaxed. Explore Djimbe drum rhythms, get into the Haitian groove, pick up belly dance moves, or discover Brazilian capoeira. An hour-and-a-half class costs $13… More >>
  • best place to cop a splinter


    Not all of the dancers are black and the dance floor is anywhere but underground, but BLACK UNDERGROUND has no identity crisis. These DJs who run the dance space on the boardwalk at Coney Island (3-9 p.m. Saturdays, late June through mid-September) would be as funky and all-inclusive by any other name. Stoned white hipsters, buff black lesbians, lonely Latins… More >>
  • best collection of left-handed baseball cards at a rock club


    The one-year-old music venue SOUTHPAW got its name from its left-handed owners. The downstairs decor is further evidence in the pride of il mancino—plastered to the walls are more than 100 cards of famous (Reggie Jackson), infamous (Bill Buckner), and inconsequential (Willie Hernandez) lefties. Fun fact: the word southpaw is derived from the direction left-handed pitchers face when on the… More >>
  • best bar to run into rock critic hags


    The basement of SIBERIA is like an illicit party at your parents' house—dark and promising. Upstairs there's pinball, Ms. Pac-Man, random motorcycles, sunken couches for sucking face, a photo sticker booth for recording stupefied sodden expressions, horny Russian constructivist- style paintings by one of the bartenders. Plus both levels of badass motherfucker Tracy Westmoreland's sprawling bar are crawling with rock… More >>
  • best artificially intelligent jukebox that takes credit cards


    Hi Fi's "El DJ" is so cool, music journos have taken to doing a weekly cocktail hour at the Alphabet City bar formerly known as Brownies. More reason to head to nerd-free Hell's Kitchen tapas bar CAFÉ ANDALUCIA. Not only does its Rowe NetStar Internet Jukebox creepily brag, "Hey you. Come here. I'm the coolest jukebox in the world," but… More >>
  • best place to hear great non-live music

    HI FI

    While New York City is a live music- maven's mecca, sometimes there's nothing like slamming a beer while listening to tunes on a great jukebox. The big computer, custom-made by East Village watering hole HI FI's owner, currently holds MP3 tracks from over 1,800 albums—a collection which grows weekly. While the selection leans heavily toward New York indie, it's not… More >>
  • best jukebox to impress your dad with


    Stax artists and jazz giants jockey for play on the jukebox at JIMMY'S CORNER, an old-school Times Square dive owned by boxing trainer Jimmy Glenn. It's a dandy spot, plastered with photos of pugilists like Ali, and you half expect to see Norman Mailer at one of the rickety stools. Sample track listing: " 'I've Got You Under My Skin,'… More >>
  • best place to hear a wasp choir


    Established in 1836, UNION THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY tilts Christian despite its commitment to represent a "cross-section of religious, racial, and cultural heritages." "Bach in the Big Apple" featured a gender-split choir of 30 over-50 WASPs (copious tweed jackets and plaid skirts). The audience was invited to sing along twice. Ageism fading, I joined in, stirred by Bach's range from funereal dread… More >>
  • best place to watch the japanese staff practice piano lessons


    The slim piquant café CAKE-O is further narrowed by an upright piano. Both aesthetic and utilitarian, the piano is used by employees who often emerge from behind the counter to practice Chopin after fulfilling your order. While I was there, a customer assisted a new employee with a difficult passage while the manager laughed that she was not even that… More >>
  • best small bird to destroy a corporate two-day music festival


    Weeks before the infamous Field Day Festival was scheduled to throw down, local authorities began grumbling about refusing mass gathering permits, a wily promoter started concealing panic behind a thin veil of denial, and the Long Island Pine Barrens Society set out to sing the high, lonesome song of the GRASSHOPPER SPARROW, an increasingly rare critter which had already reserved… More >>
  • best place to hit a high note


    Now that the MTA is holding auditions for underground buskers, those with musical inclinations but no particular talent should head straight to the REACH: NEW YORK installation. Eight light-sensing "eyes" mounted on the two bars react to the movement of your hands to create tones that evoke everything from the flute and marimba to birds trilling and dogs barking. It's… More >>
  • best place to play video games away from home


    What with Xbox Live and other online offerings, heading to GAME TIME NATION for a party, tournament, or impromptu challenge on PS2 or Xbox isn't exactly the wave of the future. But for those of us looking beyond the arcade, the Nation's 32-inch flat screens and comfy digs are unmatched.… More >>
  • best way to explore nyc that sounds like a video game but isn't


    New York is filled with places where nobody goes anymore: empty factories, abandoned sanatoriums, mysterious catacombs. DARK PASSAGE make it their business to explore and document those vacated spaces—they call themselves "forensic archaeologists," and bring back unsettling photos of the ruins they've discovered. They don't offer guided tours or advance notice of their adventures, but clicking around their website feels… More >>
  • best website's summary of another website


    Aside from being a great place to find used furniture or a new apartment, Craigslist can be a ripe source for comedy. In WEEK IN CRAIG, columnist Amy Blair mines Missed Connections and other NYC forums for laughs, giving her breezy take on the past seven days' most interesting posts, which invariably center on sex (blowjob techniques, hot interns),… More >>
  • best place to pat yourself on the back for your social prowess and covertly compare yourself to others


    Some would have you run to the mountains in avoidance of newfangled technology like FRIENDSTER.COM, but Internet-loving geeks have found a cozy second home. We build our five-photo albums, fill our profiles with beloved info, spy on each other gloriously, joke and connive. Our social networks expand as impressively as our group of friendsters does, but there is an incentive… More >>
  • best pathetic attempts to break in to 'the writing biz'


    In ninth grade you got misty-eyed about the guy with the press tag in his film noir hat, and now here you are, feeling filthy at a MEDIABISTRO networking session. Trying to break in to travel writing? Want a job as a yes-man at a vertically integrated media conglomerate? Well, for only $49 you can be a member and learn… More >>
  • best subway line to spot someone reading white teeth or the corrections


    Capturing the NPR zeitgeist of the L TRAIN, these discursive tomes are daily removed from vintage satchels and displayed accordingly. On a recent Brooklyn-bound excursion, a guy with a bunny-eared copy of Franzen's Saul Bellow-styled smarminess surreptitiously scoped an asymmetrically coiffed woman equally unwrapped in Zadie Smith's pre-Autograph Man shaggy dog. If the faux literati were pretending to read the… More >>
  • best way to destroy a sunday with .....feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt


    Hey, it's Sunday again. I know! I'll spend it TRYING TO GET THROUGH 'THE NEW YORK TIMES.' It's never happened before but maybe this will be the Sunday that it does! Today it'll be a simple, single day's read. I'll brew some coffee and basically get through the entire Times, section by section. Oh! Look what I didn't do again.… More >>
  • best symptom of hipster calendar fatigue


    It's the TV Guide of hipsterdom. Its goal is to cut down on the number of cell phone calls one has to make when standing party-less at the Bedford stop some lame Saturday night. It's the 'L MAGAZINE,' a biweekly reminder that "Billburg's lost its cool" and all its outposts (a/k/a Lower Manhattan) are equidistant via that !!!-immortalized crosstowner, the… More >>
  • best unintentional humor magazine


    "The ability to make a client's image sparkle and shine . . . is a valuable skill that's much in demand—and nobody does it better than Lizzie Grubman!" The ability to bubble with enthusiasm for a genuinely horrifying class and/or instructor is useful, too, in its way, and nothing does it better than THE LEARNING ANNEX CATALOG—almost every page can… More >>
  • best free humor rag that isn't the onion


    Something in the humor publication 'JEST'—new, not quite monthly, and written by local stand-up comedians and TV scribes (The Daily Show, SNL, etc.)—will make you laugh: if not their smart parodies, maybe their less-nuanced, photo-illustrated series about a talking dog still bitter over being neutered.… More >>
  • best way to watch saturday night live without watching saturday night live


    Live from New York . . . it's any given night of the week on the Lower East Side, where SNL senior writers SLOVIN & ALLEN take their talents to the stage. If watching Falconer and Time Traveling Scott Joplin once a week is just not enough, then check out the comedy duo as they analyze their mutual girlfriend, eat… More >>
  • best stand-up comedy night for people who hate stand-up comedy


    No tourists looking for Jerry Seinfeld. No cheesy celebrity impersonations (at least not when I've gone). Just funny people hanging out, improvising, testing new material, and making fun of each other, with a brief musical interlude. Started in January by hosts David Cross, Jon Benjamin, and Todd Barry, TINKLE showcases underground comics and indie bands for a cheap price—$6, or… More >>
  • best 100-yard comedy dash


    The crowd grows silently and steadily in the lobby of the Greenwich Village Community Center every other Saturday night—hipsters huddling, mapping out strategies for how to get the best candlelit table at MOONWORK's evening of original comedy. At 8:15, the doors swing open, arms flail, punches are thrown, and scouts are sent to claim territory in the front and center… More >>
  • best way to fly through the air with the greatest of ease


    If you really want to show your chutzpah, strap on a harness, climb up a 25-foot ladder, jump off a pedestal board, and flip from a bar as you're caught midair by an instructor at the TRAPEZE SCHOOL OF NEW YORK. You don't have to be in the circus, but you should show up in loose-fitting clothes and take a… More >>
  • best clown school


    At the NEW YORK GOOFS' intensive clown school, clowning isn't about bright-colored makeup but rather about expressing your inner clown character. For those training in "the circus arts," the goofs provide a supportive workshop environment manned by jovial bearded instructors who can balance sousaphones on their chins. Dick Monday, founder of the goofs in 1998, explains that their philosophy is… More >>
  • best commuter exercise


    Escher would've loved THE 9TH STREET N-F TRANSFER. It wraps six staircases around six corners—81 steps in all. A Crunch Stair-master burns about 300 calories in 20 minutes, but this is tougher and cheaper. Manhattan designer Lily Lee lugged two chairs from her parents' house in Brooklyn up the transfer and laughed breathlessly, "One good thing about the chairs—at the… More >>
  • best hipster exercise


    All you need is a red ball, a field, old 12-inch singles for bases, and as many music industry vets, rock scribes, bartenders, record store clerks, and teachers you can round up over drinks on Friday night. That's what the BROOKLYN KICKBALL SOCIETY discovered two years ago when they started having their semi-regular Saturday kick- ball games. If you think… More >>
  • best blast-from-the-past nut-job hobby


    Part costumed living historians, part beer-league athletes, THE GOTHAM BASE BALL CLUB OF NEW YORK plays vintage baseball in Queens' Crocheron Park. In 1864 (the year of the rule book the Gothams adopted), pitchers "hurled" underhanded, a ball caught on a bounce was a put-out, and 100 other things were different from today's game. At a Gothams "match," you can… More >>
  • best way to be nostalgic for akron, ohio, in the 1930s


    The annual PAPINGS SOAP BOX DERBY is for purists only. Rules specify no motors, no kits, no voodoo allowed. Furthermore, be inconspicuous, because this may not be entirely legal. Still, what environmentalist worth her weight in smog would stop a motley group of enthusiasts from coasting down a hill in the Brooklyn Heights Promenade area on the first Sunday in… More >>
  • best unused golf course five minutes from manhattan


    Hop on the ferry, and minutes later you're teeing off under the shadow of Lower Manhattan and Lady Liberty. Why schlep out to the boroughs or 'burbs for a golf fix, when the GOVERNORS ISLAND GOLF COURSE sits there unused? Keep your ball out of the dry moat. Watch out for flying drives where the fairways intersect. Play 9 twice,… More >>
  • best public access tv show about figure skaters' sex lives


    If there were a gold medal for the funniest half-hour on TV, it might go to 'LUTZ CHAT WITH MIKI AND PETER.' Starring two frequently liquored-up Asian drama queens, this campy Manhattan Neighborhood Network show is devoted to the world of competitive figure skating and features irreverent segments such as "Gay or Not Gay" and "Oksana's Cocktail Corner" (former Olympian… More >>
  • best way to get around


    If you really want to take a spin in style, follow the sound of the Wurlitzer to the PROSPECT PARK CAROUSEL. Revered by kids and history buffs alike, it was built in 1912 for Coney Island and moved to its current location in 1952. The masterpiece of carver Charles Carmel, this carousel was restored to its original glory in the… More >>
  • best place to bump your ass off


    A nasal cry inviting you to "bump bump bump your ass off!" hisses from inside EL DORADO, Coney Island's hip-hop bumper cars. A mere $4 will get you dancing your way into the dark air-conditioned interior where you get to whir around under multicolored revolving lights as men in safety vests dance in unused cars, waiting to guide poor drivers.… More >>
  • best place to watch a game of dice


    You feel really cool when you get to WINNIE'S and everyone in there is Chinese and playing dice and not really talking. It makes you feel like having some whiskey and a Tsing Tao and being cool enough to know how to play dice. Then a bunch of yuppies show up and do karaoke, but that's OK—it's another weird thing… More >>
  • best place to watch bad skateboarders


    Does anyone still think that skateboarding is cool? Apparently so: On any given nice day, UNION SQUARE is crisscrossed by kids wearing ugly clothes and botching kick flips. They might as well strap on a pair of rollerblades.… More >>
  • best bike paths you're too snobby to know about


    Using the ferry (still free) as your starting point, you can cruise the east coast of STATEN ISLAND past the naval station, a movie studio, Alice Austin Park (a favorite wedding spot, overlooking the Verrazano), and down to the boardwalk, the beach, gazebos, promenades, and ball fields galore. Can't do all that in Manhattan, can you?… More >>
  • best bench


    There are many unsightly places that urban planners decided were fit corners for contemplation: pristine benches in the middle of peak-traffic avenues; poo-splattered benches that nobody's allowed to sleep on anymore. The best is the bright blue, slightly splintered, and not-so-parallel-to-the-ground BENCH OUTSIDE BIKE WORKS NYC. Across is a school and a crumbling scaffolding. You sit between the Lower East… More >>
  • best park to get insulted or ticketed


    The new section of HUDSON RIVER PARK in the Village is beautiful, but park police enforce the rules selectively. A cyclist who didn't yet know certain areas are off-limits got an expensive ticket, but I've never seen pedestrians flagged for walking on the bike path. When this Village resident went to check out the playground pier, she was told that… More >>
  • best roman ruin


    Designed by Aynar Embury II (Bryant Park), the MCCARREN PARK SWIMMING POOL was originally one of eight giant city pools opened in 1936. What looks now like a little piece of Roma Siracusa in Williamsburg was once a complex of 24-foot arches, skylights, and underwater lighting for as many as 6,800 urban swimmers. The city is currently soliciting ideas for… More >>
  • best disruption of traffic


    On the last Friday of every month, bicyclists (and in-line skaters) riding under the decentralized CRITICAL MASS umbrella gather in 325 cities across the world and take over their streets. New Yorkers gather at Union Square North at 7 p.m. and ride for about two hours, wherever their wheels take them.… More >>
  • best unknown waterfront amphitheater


    The renovated EAST RIVER PARK AMPHITHEATER has actually been around since Erin Brockovich was given several million dollars to fix it up not long after 9-11. Gone are the rotted wood, graffiti, and trash, and in their place are an elegantly spartan stage and new benches. This summer saw several free concerts and plays, restoring some of the theater's '50s… More >>
  • best 17th-century dutch house in the brooklyn ghetto


    Settled in 1652 by a Dutchman, the beautiful PIETER CLAESEN WYCKOFF HOUSE, New York State's oldest house—and also one of the oldest wooden structures in the entire country—still stands, looking wicked adorably out of place, next to an enormous car wash, roiling traffic, and nearby, a giant auto junkyard. Tours are the price of three sips of beer or five… More >>
  • best place to fantasize about your rightful place in the 2006 whitney biennial


    Being an artist is a damnably tough job, but it does have one undeniable perk: You get to play with cooler toys than anybody else. Walking the tall, cramped aisles of the big PEARL PAINT superstore on Canal, you can see the customers' eyes light up as they stare at the self-healing cutting mats and retractable metallic markers and tracer… More >>
  • best midnight movie that needsto replace rocky horror right now


    The Sunshine Cinema showed it for three nights this spring, and it was picked up for midnight shows in Texas and L.A., too, but Menahem Golan's long-lost, deranged 1980 science-fiction disco musical THE APPLE deserves the full floor-show-and-props treatment that Brad and Janet have been hogging for too long. With costumes worthy of Fischerspooner, songs more ridiculous than Urinetown, and… More >>
  • best unexpected gallery space


    So who knew that the ABANDONED LIRR TUNNEL UNDER ATLANTIC AVENUE in Brooklyn even existed? Or that it was still reasonably clean and functional after having been sealed off in 1861? A group called Ars Subterranea, which had the brilliant idea of hosting an "underground art" show there last November. You had to wait in line to climb down the… More >>
  • best place to watch disconcertingly cheap film pass over your head in a swinging basket


    They've got the best prices in the city for photo gear and film, but if you're going to shop at B&H PHOTO-VIDEO, you're going to do it their way. That means you don't show up on a Jewish holiday—the staff is overwhelmingly Hasidic, so they'll be closed. Wait in line at the counter for the particular thing you want and… More >>
  • best place to shoot a horror flick

    PIER 84

    The climax setting for B-grade horror makers is the abandoned dock at PIER 84. Splintering logs jut out at all angles as gravy-colored water laps against them eerily. Brown swan-like creatures lick themselves and never fly. In the daytime kids of tourists shriek and run at pigeons. At night, the shuttered snack shack with its flaking menu boards creaks. Two… More >>
  • to medical school instead


    And be assured that whether your selection has "buzz" or is just another "new Jennifer Aniston comeback vehicle," there's a one-in-two chance your tickets will be misplaced by the will-call volunteers at the TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL.… More >>
  • best hangout for cronenberg enthusiasts


    You don't have to be a jaded James Spader to appreciate shattered glass, explosive impact, and the threat of high-speed death. Luckily for those ready to go reality with their twisted, smoking perversion, New York has the highest number of pedestrian deaths and injuries in the U.S. For a good chance at a voyeuristic thrill, head over to 59TH STREET… More >>
  • best reason to walk everywhere you go


    The fare hikes are one thing, but forced contact with drama students in small, crowded spaces is exponentially more annoying than an extra 50 cents each time you push the turnstile. Beginning innocently with a meant-to-be-overheard conversation, SUBWAY-BASED IMPROVISATIONAL THEATER snowballs from sotto voce to un-happy nightmares in a matter of seconds: A grown man weeps like a baby, his… More >>
  • best evidence that new yorkers are actually very patient when they want to be


    Most lines in the city are tense: Everyone's got somewhere to be, and the bastards keep cutting in front of you. But six days a week in the summer, the world's happiest queue appears in front of the Joseph Papp Public Theater for SHAKESPEARE IN THE PARK—reading newspapers, sipping coffee, chatting with their neighbors, knowing perfectly well they're not going… More >>
  • best bus line on which to watch bootleg movies


    It will only cost you 10 bucks to get from NYC to Boston, but you may lose your shit watching the Canal Street bootleg tapes on the Chinatown LUCKY STAR BUS LINE. The picture is terrible and the flicks randomly fast-forward or fade completely out. There was nudity in the last one I saw, though.… More >>
  • best place to learn something about the city you live in, damn it


    While the cherry-red DOUBLE-DECKER TOUR BUSES that infest the summer streets may offend über-chic sensibilities, they are a surprisingly excellent source of local lore. Of course anyone who's lived here for three months knows that the scene in When Harry Met Sally was filmed at Katz's and that Grimaldi's, Lombardi's, and John's are three rare pizza joints still using coal… More >>
  • best laundromat at which to watch six feet under


    In big city laundromats, human scenes play out: Hipsters bust each other in their Sunday floppies; loners exhibit daily habits; old folk fold elephant-size underwear. At SPIN CITY, fluffy smelling chore doers also get their weekly dose of the best soap about dead people ever. And these smart small-business owners not only have the culture to fund premium cable, they… More >>
  • best outdoor sleeping nook


    Great spot. Next to a 6 stop. Across from Spooly D's and the Exonerated. Quiet. And free! The downside? It's an unfilled-in rectangle of the corner building, at the SOUTHEAST CORNER OF BLEECKER AND MULBERRY STREETS. But it measures 310 inches (length) by 35 inches (width) by 25 inches (height)—perfect for vagabond and passed-out NYU'er alike. No substitute for even… More >>
  • best suburb


    A main drag out of the '50s filled with mom-and-pop stores, with nary a Star-bucks in sight. French at Le Provençal or Italian at Piccolo Molina, a movie at the old playhouse, and beers at Frank's Place. Racial diversity and a park on the water. All this, and a 39-minute commute to Grand Central. Suddenly, the burbs don't feel so… More >>
  • best trick architecture


    Go in the left-hand entrance to Columbia University at the Broadway gate; stay close to the left-hand wall, which you would have done anyway in the days when 116th ran straight through. After you've walked for a few moments, a huge urn will come into view, then another, then a little fake-out where the wall looks like it's ending but… More >>
  • best huge-scale public art done just for the hell of it


    If you happened to wander past the steps of the New York Public Library one day in June and saw 100 or so poodle ladies, cops, Mid-western tourists, and the like in full costume busting out into a gigantic synchronized dance routine, you witnessed the work of the Brooklyn-based collective THE MADAGASCAR INSTITUTE. Ditto for if you saw the "Condiment… More >>
  • best freaky collaborative art project


    Patrick and Kate Hambrecht play 'PROJECT:' an attempt to illustrate all 36,665 verses in the King James Bible and the Apocrypha, open to anybody who feels like taking on a verse. The first thousand or so include a bunch of well-known cartoonists—check out Tony Millionaire's remarkable Psalms 143:3, or R. Sikoryak's New Yorker-ized Isaiah 1:11—but the range of amateur contributions… More >>
  • best creepy public art


    Those goddamn BRASS FIGURINES IN THE 14TH STREET/EIGHTH AVENUE SUBWAY are like waking up in the middle of Leprechaun, except Jennifer Aniston isn't there, and instead of screeching "Where's me pot o'gold?" like the Lep, the brass figurines are gripping subway tokens! Scary!… More >>
  • best place to procure images of hoary marmots


    Largely patronized by overzealous cat ladies and attention-starved hypochondriacs, the NYPL'S MID-MANHATTAN LIBRARY PICTURE COLLECTION ought to be a regular watering hole for Web designers, artists, and others obsessed with graphic marginalia. Whether constructing collages of lice, dragons, and power plants or building a flipbook documenting 15th-century Italian costume design, you can scour thousands of folders and hoard up to… More >>
  • best artistic renderings of the food you're about to eat


    Even before you get to taste the sushi at SAPPORO EAST, you are treated to a sampling of the menu in the form of the artwork on the walls: 8 1/2-by-11-inch printouts of handrolls, bento boxes, and chunky bits of what appears to be tuna. Colorfully rendered, cheerfully displayed, and completely lacking in irony, they make the wait for a… More >>
  • best new niche market to mock


    RICE TO RICHES is a trendy, overdesigned Soho eatery that serves glowing patrons different flavored rice puddings from a large number of circular receptacles. They have pistachio flavor, chocolate, vanilla . . . Sort of reminds you of an ice creamery! Except ice cream tastes better than rice pudding!… More >>
  • best way to find out what lurks in the hudson river


    Most people think that Coney Island or the Bronx Zoo have the city's only aquariums, but the RIVER PROJECT collects scaled species from the local waterways for display. This year-round nonprofit venture employs a staff of high school interns, tests water quality, and features movies, crab fests, and interactive dialogues with river divers. And how else are you going to… More >>
  • best block party that smells like austin


    Woe to the unsuspecting vegetarian who wandered down East 27th Street during the FIRST ANNUAL BIG APPLE BBQ BLOCK PARTY in early summer only to be confronted with row after row of sienna-hued whole hogs. Sponsored by BBQ joint Blue Smoke, this two-day pig-out featured true Southern 'Q from institutions like Kreuz Market in Lock-hart, Texas, and Mitchell's in Wilson,… More >>
  • best reason to go to long island city and not visit moma


    With more boxing memorabilia than Jimmy's Corner Bar (Rocky Graziano's shoes, Jake LaMotta's autograph, etc.) and more highball-sipping seniors than a Boca Raton buffet, the century-old WATERFRONT CRAB HOUSE is a throwback to bygone New York. But history isn't the only draw: For less than MOMA's admission price, you can score a damn fine Bloody Mary, unlimited peanuts (served out… More >>
  • best whale of a return since carvel......... started making those fudgie cakes again


    After $25 million and a year and a half of construction, the old Hall of Ocean Life at the American Museum of Natural History has finally reopened, and with it a refurbished 94-FOOT-LONG FIBERGLASS BLUE WHALE. It's even better than the dusty dioramas of naked Neanderthals, and while the make-over's made the whale a little too sleek for its own… More >>
  • best museum you've never been to


    Turning 200 years old in 2004, the NEW-YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY museum and library almost went belly-up in the mid 1990s but rebounded with record attendance and a renewed purpose in the wake of September 11. The NYHS houses a permanent collection of art and artifacts, exemplified by the Henry Luce III Center for the Study of American Culture (from General… More >>
  • best place for a single woman to feel hopelessly inadequate and desperately alone


    Crawling with children and the Upper West Side mothers who dote on them, the CHILDREN'S MUSEUM OF MANHATTAN can make even the most self-satisfied unwed career-woman feel a pang of anxiety and the first faint stirrings of panic. With nagging parents only a phone call away and wedding after wedding invitation piling up, it may even result in the impulsive… More >>
  • best old playthings on display


    The DOLL AND TOY MUSEUM OF NYC caters to historically minded children, toy collectors, and nostalgic others charmed by antique amusements. Museum founder Marlene Hochman continues to build the permanent collection; September marks the beginning of the loaned "Flights of Fancy," marking the 100-year anniversary of the Wright brothers' first flight with an exhibit of almost 50 miniature planes. Charity… More >>
  • best place to appreciate plastic doll parts


    Gazing at bins packed high with disembodied doll bits—plastic arms, legs, torsos, and heads, in a variety of fleshy pinks—might spur queasy recollections of your granny or of Courtney Love, but the NEW YORK DOLL HOSPITAL is far more punk rock than all that. The New York Dolls' bassist, Arthur "Killer" Kane, supposedly nicked his band's name from this century-old… More >>
  • best place to ruin potentially valuable collectibles before you get your hands on them


    Though there are a few folks who just want to check their e-mail in a quiet, comfortable, actually affordable place, most of WEB2ZONE's customers are giant geeks. So it makes sense that they recently put a vending machine in the basement—and that it dispenses mostly non-sports trading cards (magic and its descendants, mostly). But doesn't anyone remember what those machines… More >>
  • best atms


    "I'm sorry, I can't give you a receipt (it's been a crazy day!). Is that OK? Great!" No sane New Yorker expects their bank teller to talk like this—so flippant, so uninhibited, so not-keeping-one-eye-on-the-clock. But at WASHINGTON MUTUAL, that's not how the tellers talk—that's how the ATMs talk, in goofy, wide-open neo-surfer lingo. Obviously WaMu is a West Coast institution,… More >>
  • best just-wrong attraction on coney island boardwalk


    Between Italian ice and fresh-clam stands, the Coney Island boardwalk offers the game of SHOOT THE FREAK. In 2002, visionary carny Anthony Berlingieri started offering 15 shots with a paintball gun for $5 to all comers. (Barker Sal, pictured, tells you when to shoot.) Because the freak's clad in a motorcycle helmet and head-to-toe leather, resembling a Mad Max… More >>