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People & Places

  • Best radio-interview-show host

    Brian Lehrer

    Five days a week, from 10 to noon, Brian Lehrer offers intelligent and reasoned discussion on topics that don't always lend themselves to either approach. Police shootings, political brawls, street collapses—all are fair game for Lehrer's deliberative deconstruction on WNYC-AM and FM. He's been doing it since 1989, when he sat down to host a talk show called On the… More >>
  • Best (and cutest) East Village radio DJ

    Timmy G

    Everyone—especially the beauty- hungry listener—is a winner when Timmy G podcasts his musical showdowns (such as June 30's "Cocteau Twins vs. Lush") on commercial-free, Internet-only EVR. We assume it's all in good fun that handsome, young homo Timmy has named his weekly radio show Fast Forward Reverse, after an old Ocean Blue song; for the backstory to why this… More >>
  • Best reason to stop bitching about how small and noxious your apartment is

    The Lower East Side Tenement Museum

    A century ago—long before trendy bars, overpriced eateries, and bland glass monoliths took possession of the quarter—thousands of mostly recent, mostly Eastern European immigrants crowded the narrow streets of the Lower East Side: scurrying off to whatever work they could get; shopping, gossiping, visiting, and going to church; stoop-sitting, dreaming, starving, loving, drinking, and brawling; and doing anything they could… More >>
  • Best (in fact, only) Louis Sullivan building

    Bayard Building

    Though he didn't invent the skyscraper (that fine distinction belongs to Major William Le Baron Jenney, whose nine-story, steel-framed Home Insurance Building was erected in Chicago in 1885), burly, arrogant, and supremely gifted architect Louis H. Sullivan was the genius behind some of the world's most important early high-rises: the Auditorium Building (1886–90) and the Schlesinger & Meyer Department Store… More >>
  • Best criminally unknown superstar in our midst

    Diamanda Galás

    With a fierce intellect and passion for politics that equal her prodigious talents as a composer/pianist/vocalist, you'd think Greek-American force of nature Diamanda Galás would be well-known by most music lovers here. Though she's given many a sold-out, critically acclaimed performance at local spaces including the Kitchen and the Knitting Factory, the Spiegeltent, the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine,… More >>
  • Best transatlantic reed boat dry-docked near the Hudson

    Abora III

    What's 39 feet long, 13 feet wide, and weighs 10 tons? It's not Michael Bloomberg's ego—it's the Abora III, which spent a few weeks this past summer parked at the midtown area on the Hudson (near the Circle Line). German archaeologist Dominique Görlitz is trying to prove that transatlantic water travel was possible 14,000 years ago (predating Columbus) by replicating… More >>
  • Best place to get murdered, raped, or robbed in the city

    East New York, Brooklyn

    Year in, year out, East New York, Brooklyn, is the most violent place in the city. And until the city pulls what it did up in Washington Heights and splits the precinct in two, thus halving the statistics, it looks like it will stay that way. Through September 9, the notorious 75th Precinct, located on Brooklyn's eastern border, again led… More >>
  • Best underappreciated skyscraper

    the original McGraw-Hill Building

    Perhaps it's because it stands on an unappealing stretch of West 42nd Street. Or maybe it's because it looks like a tall green warehouse. Or it could be that people just think it's ugly. Whatever the reason, the original McGraw-Hill Building doesn't earn a lot of kudos when talk turns to the city's favorite edifices. But let's change that—at least… More >>
  • Best New York lawyer not in New York

    Glenn Greenwald

    No question that Glenn Greenwald is the winner—not because he's practicing law, and not because he's not practicing law. Greenwald, now living in Brazil and seen mostly on the Salon site, is one of the best political commentators out there. Unlike most other bloggers, Greenwald practices journalism: Witness his great work a couple of months ago on Philip Zelikow's dual… More >>
  • Best illegal Valentine's Day card sent to a New Yorker

    Matthew Diaz's missive from Guantánamo Bay

    Matthew Diaz's missive from Guantánamo Bay. The recipient of this love-of-liberty card? Barbara Olshansky of the New York–based Center for Constitutional Rights. The sender? Lt. Comdr. Matthew Diaz, who didn't sign it but included a secret 39-page list of captives held by the U.S. government at Guantánamo. Diaz actually sent the card and list to Olshansky in 2005, but… More >>
  • Best little house in the Village

    75 12 Bedford Street

    The wildly liberated, ferry-riding, candle-burning literary prodigy and good-time girl Edna St. Vincent Millay lived in this circa-1873 house at 75 1/2 Bedford Street from 1923 to 1924. Nicknamed "the narrowest house in the Village," this nine-and-a-half-foot-wide domicile was originally entered through the back alley, which can be glimpsed by walking around the corner and peering through the gate on… More >>
  • Best old, short street

    Weehawken Street

    There were already people hanging out on Weehawken Street when Henry Hudson arrived in the neighborhood in 1609, but who knows how much they had in common with the gay bears who gather there on Pride Day, or the rowdies to whom the message on a wall plaque—"Help Keep the Beauty of It . . . Do not urinate or… More >>
  • Best peace tribute

    Marble Collegiate Church

    The thousands of colored streamers tied to the fence around the Marble Collegiate Church have flapped silently since March 2006, when they were placed here as symbolic reminders of the Iraq War and the toll it has taken. Gold ribbons display the names, ranks, and ages of the more than 3,800 American service people who have died in Iraq;… More >>
  • Best. Law. Ever.

    New York City's Noise Code

    On July 1, Mayor Bloomberg's most delightful legislative measure went into effect, an overhaul of New York City's Noise Code. In addition to welcome regulations limiting construction noise and nightclub decibels, the new law demanded that Mr. Softee trucks must silence their insidious jingle when parked at the curb. During hearings a year and a half earlier, Softee heir James… More >>
  • Best noble failure

    It's Still Not a Done Deal

    Recently, Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn hosted a literary soiree and fundraiser. The title of the afternoon: It's Still Not a Done Deal. "It" refers to Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards proposal, the multibillion-dollar plan that will transform the abandoned rail yards and neighboring buildings into a morass of skyscrapers and luxury housing (and will rely on lots and lots of public… More >>
  • Best underappreciated waterfall that also happens to be a historic site

    Morningside Park's mini-waterfall

    Morningside Park's mini-waterfall is the unintended outcome of a famed 1968 protest. Back then, Columbia University students and Harlem residents got their collective panties in a wad over the school's plan to build a public gym in the historic park, a narrow and steep strip of land that stretches from 110th Street to 123rd Street. The gym was to have… More >>
  • Best place that will cease to exist when Columbia takes over West Harlem

    Hint House Artist Collective

    Columbia University's planned 17-acre expansion will gobble up at least 80 businesses. Some, like the beloved Dinosaur BBQ and world-famous Madame Alexander Doll Company, have agreed to relocate with the university's assistance. But others, like the Hint House Artist Collective, may soon just disappear into the ether. The collective provides studio and performance space for about 40… More >>
  • Best Manhattan neighborhood in Brooklyn

    DUMBO

    Atlantic Yards may yet turn downtown Brooklyn into a soulless new Herald Square, but as of now, the borough's most Manhattanized neighborhood is the 15-square-block area that for several decades has boasted the acronym DUMBO (as in "Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass"). Down below Brooklyn Heights, and abutting the remnants of genteel Vinegar Hill, DUMBO is a waterfront mix… More >>
  • Best New England town in the Bronx

    City Island

    If you can't beat 'em. . . . Back before the American Revolution, the natives of the 230-acre rock just off the East Bronx in Long Island Sound gave their turf the imposing name City Island and promoted it as a port that could rival New York's. In 1896, about 135 sleepy years later, the island's self-described clam-diggers seceded from… More >>
  • Best remnant of old (old) Soho

    Fanelli Café

    The first floor of 94 Prince Street had been used as a saloon for 73 years (and a speakeasy for two) when Michael Fanelli took over the place in 1922. Back before Soho had a name, in the days when Robert Moses planned to turn the entire area into an entrance ramp for his proposed Lower… More >>
  • Best place to seek shelter from a rainstorm

    Morgan Library and Museum

    Second only to finding someplace relatively clean to relieve yourself in this city is the great importance of knowing what to do (and where to go) wh en the heavens open and you're nowhere near home. You get what you pay for with those shoddy, self-destructing umbrellas sold by opportunistic street vendors, and—despite the convenient ubiquity of a certain chain… More >>
  • Best place to compose a Dear John (or Jane or Jean) letter in palatial grandeur

    Frick Collection

    Like the ABBA song says, "Breaking up is never easy. . . . " But it doesn't have to be utterly dreary, either, so long as you're the one doing the dumping. Of course, it's only polite to destroy someone's life face to face, but that's not always practicable (the poor sod's in another country, or in solitary) or desirable… More >>
  • Best equestrian statue

    El Cid - CLOSED

    Though Augustus Saint-Gardens's blazing gold-leafed vision of General William Tecumseh Sherman at Grand Army Plaza (beside the currently shrouded Plaza Hotel) is perhaps the best-known of the city's dozen horsey monuments, socialite-artist Anna Hyatt Huntington's stunning depiction of Spanish hero El Cid is the most truly triumphant. This grand bronze specter stands guard over Washington Heights' historic Audubon Terrace—an astounding… More >>
  • Best graveyard

    Rossville Boatyard

    Though the word survivor is often used in a somewhat ironic, self-congratulatory manner by New Yorkers about themselves and each other, this claim is largely aspirational: In fact, New Yorkers have been dropping like those proverbially moribund flies for hundreds of years now—the victims of pestilence and plague; poisoned food and water; famine and fire; riot, war, and terrorist attack;… More >>
  • Best place to read about New York history in blissful quiet

    New York Society Library

    Though New York's first free public library was the Astor Library, the mammoth red-brick, faux-Venetian gothic pile on Lafayette that now houses the Public Theater, the city's first circulating library is the still-grand old New York Society Library, which opened its doors to the public in 1754. Today, the facility houses some 275,000 volumes and the current and back issues… More >>
  • Best adherent of mosaic law

    Jim Power

    Jim Power must never get tired: Just about every lamppost within his reach winds up getting tiled. You've seen the weathered street artist's work at Astor Place while you're waiting to get run over by taxis and bike messengers. His mosaics—often featuring slogans that stick with you— adorn not only lampposts but also the occasional planter. Usually accompanied by… More >>
  • Best old-school Greenwich Village restaurant

    Minetta Tavern

    Minetta Tavern is where crazy old Joe Gould bragged to The New Yorker's Joseph Mitchell about the greatest book never written. You can spot Gould's grizzled visage among the scores of black-and-white ink drawings that line the walls of this Village throwback. Former stars of stage, sport, politics, and literature—most of them long-forgotten luminaries—all clambered onto the… More >>
  • Best old-school Italian joint in the East Village

    John's of 12th Street

    John's of 12th Street, off Second Avenue, could be a contender in a lot of categories: It's got a tasty broccoli rabe, a nice veal chop, a great carbonara. But you come here mostly for that aura—dim lighting, old wooden booths, wisecracking waiters, a massive candle in the back that's been building up wax since the place opened in 1908,… More >>
  • Best old-fashioned labor stem-winder

    Ed Ott

    Great oratory was once part of the sales pitch that trade unionists used to win over the masses. But it's a dying art. Ever hear AFL-CIO chief John Sweeney give a speech? Zzzz. However, New York City Central Labor Council director Ed Ott boasts a set of golden pipes. Ott—whose labor career began with a mop and … More >>
  • Best bridge anywhere

    Brooklyn Bridge

    It is the best of the best, a free 20-minute walk from one metropolis to another. It offers a perch high above the canyons of Wall Street and the rippling river, with uninterrupted views from the Narrows by Staten Island to New Jersey, from Liberty's statue to the Woolworth Building. And there is the Brooklyn Bridge itself:… More >>
  • Best Bonnie-and-Clyde duo in City Hall

    Charles Barron and Viola Plummer

    Who needs a bank heist when taxpayers will gladly pay you to jack City Hall? Councilman and diehard Black Panther Charles Barron and his black-radical chief of staff, Viola Plummer, win the award for political gangsta couple of the year. It's no secret that the two are very familiar with controversy, but shit got out of hand on May 30… More >>
  • Best old-school-decrepit subway station

    Chambers Street J-M-Z stop

    Ah, time machines! That fantasy of H.G. Wells, the dream of eager physicists tinkering all night with their particle accelerators and theories of relativity! But would-be New York time travelers need only a MetroCard to venture into the past. Just mosey downtown and swipe yours through the turnstile at the Chambers Street J-M-Z stop, then descend to the platform and… More >>
  • Best statue of a famous political leader

    statue of Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia

    Admittedly, it's pretty tough to capture anyone's essence—let alone that of a feisty and famous mayor—in a bronze figure that's going to be frozen in motion forever. But in a city filled with stiff, Napoleonic-style depictions of the politicians of yore, the statue of Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia in Greenwich Village never fails to convey the Little Flower's boisterous enthusiasm. Brooklyn… More >>
  • Best subway steel drummer

    Jeffrey "Sighting" Antoine

    You needn't be a Christian, a soldier, or even religious to get a little kick in your step when Jeffrey "Sighting" Antoine starts rolling out "Onward Christian Soldiers" on his steel drum as you exit the A or C trains at the Broadway-Nassau station downtown. Nor is there any better way to gird your loins for the daily travail than… More >>
  • Best ghostbuster

    Artie Matos

    Artie Matos, a 37-year-old Staten Island native, isn't merely a furniture salesman and interior decorator; he's also a paranormal investigator. Since what he calls his first encounter with a ghost, at age 11, Matos has studiously researched the existence of spirits and other unexplained phenomena. He previously led a group of fellow paranormal students but finally gave up the ghost,… More >>
  • Best urban monk

    Nicholas Vreeland

    At the Tibet Center in Brooklyn, Buddhist monk Nicholas Vreeland jokes that he teaches students "how to integrate the sound of the subway into meditation." You've got to be a great monk to make your stillness heard at the center's new digs in DUMBO, amid the Q trains rumbling overhead on the Manhattan Bridge every few minutes and the noisy… More >>
  • Best way to enjoy the Brooklyn Promenade

    Blue Pig

    The Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory is a mite too touristy; Häagen-Dazs, too pricey and elitist; and the Tastee Delight on Montague has shut down, depriving us of their 500 flavors that all taste exactly the same. (The culinary equivalent of that "How to Recognize the Moods of an Irish Setter" Far Side cartoon.) No, to savor true ice-cream excellence as… More >>
  • Apocalypse Musto

    Essay Winner Field

    Have you done this man wrong?photo: Elena Dahl … More >>
  • Best straight-headed ho

    Al Sharpton

    Speaking of hip-hop, the irreverent Reverend Al Sharpton plans to save the sinful generation by washing out the mouths of all entertainers who use the N-word, disrespect women, and applaud violence for mass consumption and profit. Sounds sweet, but does this mean that the work of N-word kings Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, and Dave Chappelle will be pulled… More >>
  • Best albatross

    Bernie Kerik

    Always seeking the limelight, Rudy Giuliani's former prison-guard pal kept popping into the news in 2007, and he didn't even have to seek it out. Bernie Kerik's disastrous stint in Iraq as a supposed trainer of police got mentioned in the late-summer flap between Charles Ferguson, director of the devastating war doc No End in Sight, and Jerry Bremer, the… More >>
  • Best place to pretend you're in a movie about New York where an important scene plays out in a tiny coffee shop

    Eisenberg's Sandwich Shop

    Tiny, enchanting Eisenberg's Sandwich Shop is almost too perfectly cast in the role of a Manhattan diner—its narrow space clad in artfully distressed Formica and chrome, with a counter (state-of-the-art circa 1930) running almost the entire length. How someone labored to make those daily-special signs so homey, so authentic! And the supporting players are, to a person, sublime: waitresses as… More >>
  • Best city councilman to tighten his belt

    Eric Gioia

    Free food and meals are some of the last legitimate perks that city council members are allowed to enjoy, but this past spring, Eric Gioia, a 34-year-old Harvard-educated representative from Long Island City, decided to see what it was like living on the maximum $28-a-week federal food-stamp allotment for the poor. He quickly found his budget… More >>
  • Best highway pull-over

    Shore Road pullover

    Should you be in need of a remote, fairly private spot adjacent to a local roadway, the Shore Road pullover on the Belt Parkway is made to order. It is reached off the eastbound lanes of the Belt, just before you hit the Verrazano Bridge exit. There is room for about a dozen cars, though on summer evenings more push… More >>
  • Best Brooklyn assemblyman who never quits

    Jim Brennan

    The argument for term limits—imposed on city officials by referendum in 1993—is that politicians grow jaded, complacent, and worse the longer they remain in office. There are so many examples of this ailment dwelling in the un-limited state legislature that it's hard to argue against this logic. But there are also those, like Brooklyn assemblyman Jim Brennan, who just keep… More >>
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