Recent reads.


Apple will no longer unlock most iPhones, iPads for police, even with search warrants. Timberg, C., The Washington Post (Sep. 2014).

Newest Androids will join iPhones in offering default encryption, blocking police. Timberg, C., The Washington Post (Sep. 2014).

7 Famous Artists You Didn’t Know Were Perverts (Pt. 2). Lacerda, R. and Hossey, M., Cracked (Sep. 2014).

Another week, another atheist demands we call his sexism not-sexism. (This time, Sam Harris.) Marcotte, A., Raw Story (Sep. 2014).

Poverty and Language Development: Roles of Parenting and Stress. Perkins, S.C. et al., Innov Clin Neurosci. (Apr. 2013). (“with poverty, disparities in the development of language processing are arguably among the most consistently found— with decreases in vocabulary, phonological awareness, and syntax at many different developmental stages.”)

A New Yorker Expertly Teaches The Unwritten Rules Of Living In NYC In These Illustrations. Marino, A.S., Distractify (Sep. 2014).

If you’re a feminist you’ll be called a man-hater. You don’t need rebranding. Penny, L., The Guardian (Oct. 2013).

Feminists are not responsible for educating men. Winterfox, C. (Oct. 2013).

5 Things I Learned as a Sex Slave in Modern America. Evans, R., and Anonymous, Cracked (Sep. 2014).

Spanking Is Great for Sex. Which is why it’s grotesque for parenting. Keenan, J., Slate (Sep. 2014).


NOTE: The acquisition of links for the Library does not imply the Palace’s 100% agreement with or endorsement of any content, organization, source or individual. Except for Amanda Marcotte’s piece on Sam Harris up there—that one gets the Palace Seal of 100% Approval™.

I am such a meanie.

SCENE: afternoon, a bar in the West Village.

IRIS eats mac&cheese, drinks rosé and reads Important Stuff on her iphone.

WOMAN places shopping bag on adjacent bar stool and says something unintelligible.

IRIS: I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you?

WOMAN: I said, you’re a young woman with an old soul. I do readings. I’m a shaman.

IRIS: No you’re not.

WOMAN: Yes I am! And your aura is just blazing, especially above your crown…

IRIS: No it’s not.

WOMAN: Yes it is! I can see it and it’s-

IRIS: No you can’t. Because there’s no such thing.

WOMAN: [grabs shopping bag.] Well if YOU say so! [storms out.]

IRIS: [checks for wallet, sips rosé.] Yep.

aaaaaand SCENE.

I missed it?

Okay so there was apparently some big sporting competition for d00ds called the “Word Cup” or somesuch, to which I of course paid absolutely no attention whatsoever. (This is no small feat in New York City, let me tell you.) But now I’m totally sorry I missed it! As it turns out it, was awesomely fabulous as well as fabulously awesome:

Priest: World Cup Is A Homosexual Abomination Because Players Wear Gay Shoes

A Russian Orthodox Priest has claimed that the World Cup is an abomination because players wear brightly-coloured shoes.

Writing in his column on Russian People’s Line, Priest Alexander Shumsky claimed that players are promoting a “gay rainbow” by wearing green, pink, yellow and blue shoes.
He said: “Wearing pink or blue shoes, [the players] might as well wear women’s panties or a bra.

“The liberal ideology of globalism clearly wants to oppose Christianity with football. I’m sure of it.

“Therefore I am glad that the Russian players have failed and, by the grace of God, no longer participate in this homosexual abomination.”

Now I freely admit I am unfamiliar with Russian Orthodox dogma (as well as bright shoes, at least since the ’80s). Also: fútbol. “Soccer.” Whatever. But! I have lived in the West Village for many years, and I think it’s fair to say that I have at least a passing familiarity with “homosexual abominations.” (Why the fuck else would I live here, people? HELLO?!) Of course I cannot speak for my friends and neighbors, but I would be willing to go on record as saying that this whole Wad Cup dealio, whatever it is, would gain at least one loyal fan if players were free to—nay, encouraged to—wear women’s panties and/or bras.

On a much more serious note: if Father Shumsky is correct that globalism and Christianity are indeed at war with each other, how can I, as a concerned citizen, add fuel to that fire?

I was so wrong about capitalism vs. healthcare!

[TRIGGER WARNING: several f-bombs, one m-f bomb, graphic depictions of opulence.]

Longtime Loyal Readers™ may recall the long and sordid tale of how the entire lower West side of Manhattan ended up without a single hospital bed (see e.g. here, here, here, here and here). I often write about the deadly cruelty, inefficiency, cost and jaw-dropping stupidity of our for-profit health care system here in the U.S. of A., and I won’t repeat that here. Suffice it to say that St. Vincent’s, our neighborhood hospital, was just one more predictable casualty. At least ten New York City hospitals have closed since 2006; others remain on life support.

The fact is that wealthy real estate developers pretty much run this town, and the politicians they own are more than happy to help. The closing of St. Vincent’s was eagerly aided and abetted by a raft of corrupt, neoliberal shitweasels in every branch of state and city government—for example, the hospital emerged from bankruptcy court with its impossible debt obligations 100% intact—whereupon the well-connected Rudin family immediately picked up the property for a song. Perhaps no one was more helpful to this process than former city council speaker and mayoral candidate Christine Quinn, the Robin to Michael Bloomberg’s Batman—except that this metaphor really should be about some kind of Bizarro World Robin Hood. How else to describe Quinn proudly taking credit for the destruction of a 161-year old charity hospital with a Level I trauma center smack in the middle of her own district—the primary admitting hospital for victims of the 9-11 World Trade Center attacks in 2001 and survivors of the Titanic in 1912—in favor of a billion dollar luxury condo development?

I’d like to think it cost Quinn the mayor’s race. During the campaign, she stupidly showed up at a health care rally on the site of the former St. Vincent’s, and was loudly booed. Putting aside for a moment the public health aspects of closing a full-service hospital, many local businesses that catered to the daily influx of visitors and staff (e.g. florists, restaurants, pharmacies, coffee shops) swiftly went under—and that’s to say nothing of job losses at the hospital itself in a rapidly consolidating health care market. A particularly rich moment occurred in July when Quinn was speaking at a campaign event: one of her staffers passed out, and it took more than 30 minutes for an ambulance to arrive on the scene. She was flabbergasted and appalled, complaining bitterly the whole time. What a joke. Except it’s not fucking funny.

Here is a map that shows the hospitals closest to where I am presently sitting, as well as the site of the former St. Vincents:



Construction at former St. Vincent’s.

If those distances seem negligible to you, you have never been in New York City during morning or evening rush hours, when the UN is in session, or when our neoliberal shitweasel president is in town back-slapping the banksters on a job well done and/or undermining our liberal congresscritters. Meanwhile, city and fire department officials are busy ensuring that no EMS transit times are made public, as they once routinely were. There can be only one reason for that: those numbers are not good. At this link (@ 1:06) you can see a Beth Israel Hospital ambulance stuck in traffic on 7th Avenue, directly in front of the former entrance to St. Vincent’s emergency room.

But never mind all of that, people, because today I bring you absolutely fantastic news. After walking by the construction site, I actually remembered when I got home to go online and look at the Rudin development’s website! And I am here to tell you: I was so, so wrong about all of this. My silly protest signs, speeches at zoning meetings, signatures on petitions, emails and phone calls to politicians and my impassioned screeds on the subject now just make me look foolish.

My sign.Iris’s dumbass protest sign.
Occupy St. Vincent’s, Oct. 27, 2011.
(Jeezus. How embarrassing.)

For as it turns out, hundreds of thousands of residents going without a single nearby hospital bed, trauma unit, emergency room or surgery facility is but a pittance to pay in exchange for something so…so… magnificent. Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you: The Greenwich Lane,”a collection of five unique addresses and five townhouses nestled together in the West Village.”

greenwichlanerenderingAs you can see from this gorgeous rendering, the gleaming towers of floor-to-ceiling glass will provide a stunning visual counterpoint to the surrounding low-rise buildings emblematic of this historic neighborhood. But that’s not even the best part. Nope: the best part is the enormous private garden, billed as “the heart of the community”—although technically speaking, the actual community will have no access to it whatsoever. But never mind that. Just look at it!


A formal garden with a reflecting pool passes into a birch allée with limestone benches, followed by a more sheltered area with a contemplative, trellised pavilion. The garden offers not only the pleasures of a natural landscape; but also, with all of its plantings, it fulfills an important role in creating a healthier microclimate for the buildings, filtering the air and beneficially restoring more trees to the neighborhood.

And just maybe, if some of these trees eventually grow tall enough, people in the neighborhood might be able to see the very tops of them! OMFG swoon!

But I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s the “principal amenities” surrounding the garden that really put the place over the top:

  • A dedicated fitness floor with state-of-the-art training, yoga, golf, and wellness rooms, as well as a 25-meter pool.
  • A suite of social and entertaining rooms overlooking the central garden, including a private lounge, a dramatic dining room, and a fully outfitted guest chef’s kitchen.
  • A separate catering kitchen for larger events.
  • A private screening room seating 22 with a private wet bar.
  • A light-filled and sheltered children’s playroom with views of the garden.
  • 24-hour attended lobbies, with services including storage for grocery, wine, and flower deliveries, on-site resident managers, complete porter staff, and handymen.
  • An underground private parking garage.

I know what you’re thinking and yes, before you ask, I believe it’s safe to assume there are oversized parking spaces large enough to accommodate the vintage Rolls.

greenwichlanepoolThe envisioned 25 meter pool + gym on the dedicated fitness floor.

This probably goes without saying, but: “As designed by Thomas O’Brien, these handsome spaces bring to mind the cachet of an Old World private club.” Including, probably, the parking garage. Here you can see a little movie wherein this very same Thomas O’Brien d00d ‘splains his unique vision, which looks an awful lot like last year’s Restoration Hardware catalog, but what do I know? (Wait, I know last year’s Restoration Hardware catalog, cover to cover. Hmmm.) Anyway:

It’s also this incredibly unique thing that rises above—in a very nice way—and you look downtown, South and West, over all of this protected, wonderful architecture that is the West Village.

Indeed! Why on earth would anyone want to live in all of this protected, wonderful architecture when instead one can peer down upon it—preferably, I assume, through a $3000 faux-vintage 19th century telescope from Restoration Hardware?

RHtelescope$3000 faux-vintage 19th century telescope from Restoration Hardware.
(On sale now for only $2395, because last year’s catalog hello?)

Also, Thomas O’Brien apparently forgot to mention it, but the views to the south also take in the Freedom Tower Penis, on the very site of the former World Trade Center.

penistowerView down 7th Avenue of the Freedom Penis.
Ejaculating FREEDOM, motherfuckers.

The bad news is that there are only a very limited number of units still available at these low pre-construction prices:








Floor Plan

140 W. 12th St. M-1 2 2 / 1 2408 $5,550,000 VIEW
302 4 4 / 1 3088 $8,610,000 VIEW
150 W. 12th St. 3 E. 5 5 / 1 4187 732 $12,450,000 VIEW
4 W. 1 1 / 1 1465 255 $3,850,000 VIEW
7 W. 2 2 / 1 2079 $6,100,000 VIEW
160 W. 12th St. 36 2 2 / – 1583 $4,195,000 VIEW
45 1 1 / – 892 $2,170,000 VIEW
47 2 2 / 1 1737 $4,380,000 VIEW
58 3 3 / 1 2450 $6,900,000 VIEW
64 4 4 / 1 2818 153 $8,570,000 VIEW
72 2 2 / 1 2040 $5,740,000 VIEW
85 1 1 / 1 1166 $3,450,000 VIEW
86 3 3 / 1 2524 $7,350,000 VIEW
108 3 3 / 1 2455 $7,950,000 VIEW
155 W. 11th St. 4L 1 1 / – 758 $2,050,000 VIEW
4C 2 2 / 1 1934 $5,620,000 VIEW
4B 2 2 / 1 1670 68 $5,050,000 VIEW
6D 2 2 / – 1515 $5,275,000 VIEW
7A 4 4 / 1 3687 44 $14,500,000 VIEW
8B 3 3 / 1 2383 153 $7,650,000 VIEW
10C 2 2 / 1 1938 $6,710,000 VIEW
11A 4 4 / 1 3951 44 $17,525,000 VIEW
145 W. 11th St. 7 5 4 / 1 4537 83 $18,250,000 VIEW

The Palace, naturally, will be putting in a generous offer at once, so as not to lose out on this amazing opportunity. OMG I CANNOT PICK MY FAVORITE!!!11!!! (LOL #firstworldproblems, I know right?)

Now I ask you: Could there be anything our neighborhood needs more urgently than this fine establishment in our midst, and the several menial jobs that will be created in order to maintain it? And the fine upstanding citizens dwelling here at least part of the year will contribute literally oodles of tip money to the local delivery people. We can only hope that neither our new neighbors nor their (no doubt charming and adorable!) children ever suffer any ill health or injury on the premises. Because if that should happen, they’re just as fucked as the rest of us.

Iris the Idiot’s Kitchen: Frankie’s Mom’s Ricotta Cheesecake.

ricottacheesecakeFrankie’s Mom’s Ricotta Cheesecake.
Only at Gaetana’s…and the Palace Kitchen.

gaetanaslogoMy friend Frankie is the proprietor of Gaetana’s, a neighborhood bar and restaurant on Christopher Street. Frankie hails from Brooklyn, and is 100% Italian-American by heritage. Specifically, SicilianAmerican, with everything that implies. For example, at least in Frankie’s case, it implies an enormous brick wall festooned with Frank Sinatra memorabilia, the sounds of Sirius XM’s Sinatra station, a prominently displayed Italian flag and, at least occasionally, patrons who look and sound like they came right out of central casting. If youse know whud I mean.

None of this is intended to be the least bit ironic; nor am I dissing Frankie’s culture (it is, after all, very similar to my own Southern Italian heritage). Frankie is one of the most gregarious, generous, genuine people I know. He flirts shamelessly and charmingly with customers of all ages, genders, races, sexual orientations and whatever other demographic identities you might envision wandering in off of Christopher Street. (Well, with the exception of the panhandlers, who sometimes sneak in to hassle diners and drinkers; they get quickly and quietly escorted out.) On my first visit to the bar at his fine establishment, some fucking priest(!) ate my fucking pizza(!). Frankie gave me another one and two glasses of Chianti. For free.


Frank Jr. (Frankie’s dad) & Gaetana.

Frankie’s mother—the late, great, beautiful, and by all accounts much loved Gaetana—was a wonderful cook, and Frankie was an eager and gifted student. Originally, he envisioned this restaurant venture of his as your basic neighborhood bar and pizza joint, but the menu quickly expanded to include dozens of dishes from the kitchen of his childhood:

  • pastas with marinara, clam sauce, pesto, garlic & oil, vodka sauce, a wicked hot fra diavolo or a sweet bolognese. Pumpkin ravioli in brown butter & sage. Lasagna to die for.
  • homemade meatballs, enormous pork chops piled with hot cherry peppers, shell steaks, several fresh fish dishes, jumbo shrimp scampi, chicken (Marsala, Milanese, Piccata, Pomodoro, Valdestano…).
  • traditional soups: Pasta Fagioli, Lentil, Stracciatella. Sometimes, Italian wedding.
  • cold antipasto, mussels in white wine with garlic and oil, fried calamari (ask for that with Frankie’s cocktail sauce instead of the marinara), amazing stuffed artichokes (fergawdsake people, save some of the homemade focaccia for dipping).
  • Pizza. Frankie’s pizza is my all time New York favorite—and that is saying something, my friends. (I am not alone in that assessment, either.)

All of it is made to order, with really fresh ingredients. In fact, if he has the ingredients, he’ll make you anything you want. Mangia.

There are countless upscale Italian restaurants in this city, places where the decor is opulent, there are sommeliers and Executive Chefs, the cuisine is trendy and inventive, the Barolo runs $350 a bottle and watching the wait staff perform is like watching dinner theatre. Frankie’s place is nothing like that. I mean that as the highest compliment. Gaetana’s is unpretentious, welcoming, casual, inexpensive (relatively speaking) and fun, with a quirky clientele. Frankie’s sister is a waitress there, he’s got old friends on staff, and no matter their ages all the bartenders are strictly old-school. In the parlance of the food critic/foodie/food snob, Gaetana’s is what’s called a “red sauce joint,” often derisively. Done this well? There ain’t no shame in that.

But then, Dear Lard, there is the ricotta cheesecake.

If you’ve never had it, there is nothing quite like it, which makes it kind of hard to explain. It’s not as sweet as typical (“New York style”) cheesecake, and it has the subtle-but-distinct flavor of fresh citrus. But it’s the texture that really sets it apart: it’s slightly more granular than creamy, with a lightly caramelized golden-brown “crust” on top. Let me put it this way: if you enjoy savory dishes made with Italian ricotta—lasagna, manicotti, cheese ravioli—and you like cheesecake, you will freaking love this. And it turns out many people who do not care for traditional cheesecake (myself included) really love it too. Like, a lot.

Just as I do, Frankie comes from an Italian-American cooking tradition where family recipes are not written down anywhere and consist mainly of a string of helpful directives like, “Then add the chopped garlic.” How much garlic? “You know, enough.” In all likelihood this is why I had to beg him for the recipe for more than a year. One night, after the usual good-natured teasing and terribly insincere pouting on my part, he finally slammed his fist down on the bar and said, “That’s it! I’m giving you the recipe right now!” He tore a page out of a datebook, went into the kitchen and shortly thereafter handed me this:

frankierecipe I was so happy I nearly wept with joy. Naturally, I failed to notice that there were certain key pieces of information missing, things one typically thinks of when one hears the word “recipe.” Things I noticed the next day, like how (and how long) do you mix these ingredients? How long do you bake it? What’s the best way to cool it? And what on Earth does the cryptic scrawl “IN WATER” mean? I suddenly had a vision of Frankie in his kitchen going through the motions of making a ricotta cheesecake from memory, checking how much ricotta cheese comes in a commercial container and furiously jotting down approximations of everything else (“about, I dunno, a cuppa parmesan? what, maybe six ounces of orange juice? a couple, say, six eggs?”)

But it didn’t matter. It was indeed a recipe, Italian-style, a form of art in which I am fluent. I knew I would figure it out. And here it is.


Frankie’s Mom’s Ricotta Cheesecake



  • an electric mixer (or a handheld whisk + something called “stamina”)
  • a zester* (or multi-function grater)
  • a loaf pan (for water)
  • a working oven
  • a refrigerator
  • a springform pan**

*<—This is a zester. Use it to scrape the brightly colored skin off of the orange and lemon, taking as little of the white pith underneath as possible.
IMPORTANT SAFETY WARNING: without advanced-level training the zester is not recommended for use in the Bedroom.

springformpan**This is a springform pan.
It’s a pretty nifty 2-part thingy that seals tightly
to enclose the filling. After baking, you release the latch
to remove the band around the sides. 


  • 3 lbs ricotta cheese (whole milk)
  • 6 eggs
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 1½ tablespoons vanilla extract***
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 6 oz. orange juice
  • zest of 1 orange
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • dusting of powdered sugar
  • fruit garnish (optional)

madagascarvanilla***Frankie wrote “2 Tbs” but he might have mean teaspoons here. Then again, maybe not. I keep forgetting to ask him. So I use about 1½ tablespoons of Nielsen-Massey Vanilla’s Madagascar Bourbon vanilla extract. TRUE FACT: you really can’t go wrong here.


Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C). Place a standard loaf pan filled halfway with water on the oven’s lower shelf. Lightly coat the inside of the springform pan with unsalted butter. If it’s not a non-stick pan give it a light coat of flour, too.

Zest the lemon and the orange, and combine the zest with all the other ingredients (except the powdered sugar and optional fruit) in a large mixing bowl. With an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, mix on medium-high until well-blended (about 2 mins).



Pour the mixture into the prepared springform pan. Place the springform pan on the top shelf of the oven. (NOTE: it’s fairly heavy, almost full to the brim and highly liquid at this stage, so take your time and be careful. IOW, don’t be like me.)



Bake for about 1½ hours. Maybe more. Maybe less. I don’t know. What I’m saying is your mileage will vary because mine certainly does, depending on the temperature accuracy of the oven I’m using and how often I open the door to check it, the diameter of the springform pan (larger than 9″ means a shallower cheesecake that bakes in less time), the altitude of the kitchen, the liquid content of the particular ricotta brand (which also varies with the same brand), and probably a bunch of other stuff I don’t know anything about.



Mah done cake.

For me, the best way to determine when it is finished baking is to shake the oven rack a little bit and observe the consistency: it should appear firmer (and more golden brown) around the edges, and more jiggly in the center. Like jello. Mine bakes in a little more than an hour and a half, sometimes an hour and 45 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and set it on a cooling rack for twenty minutes. The cheesecake will flatten a little bit and begin to pull away from the sides. Carefully run a butter knife around the sides of the pan to keep it from sticking. Transfer the pan to the refrigerator to cool for 3 hours. Then cover the pan pan with a lid or foil and let it cool in the refrigerator overnight.

To serve: remove the springform band. Optional: transfer cheesecake to a cake stand or plate by first loosening the bottom with a knife or thin spatula and then sliding it carefully onto the desired surface. Good luck with that.

Slice into wedges, extract each wedge with a cake server and plate it.

Optional: add fruit garnish to the plate—berries and oranges work well, and provide a nice counterpoint. I would definitely try kiwi, peaches (raw or cooked), maybe pineapple.

Dust each plated slice with powdered sugar right before serving.

Taste Frankie’s Mom’s Ricotta Cheesecake.

Last—and this is important—try to remember that there is no god. Good luck with that too.


Some notes from comparing other recipes.

Frankie’s recipe has no crust; other recipes I found have a crust, and I have tasted many delicious ricotta cheescakes that do. Frankie says that at least the traditional Sicilian recipe has no crust, and I have to say with this recipe I do not miss it. The texture of the top edge acts as a kind of crust, and of course without making crust the whole operation is simpler. One recipe I found said to coat the bottom of the pan with a mixture of sugar and breadcrumbs over the butter.


Spring Form Pan


Some recipes say to bake the springform pan in a larger pan filled with water to a level about halfway up the side of the springform pan. Maybe this is what Frankie may have meant by this.—> Maybe I’ll try it next time, but it really doesn’t seem to be necessary. (Some recipes don’t even mention water at all.)

There are recipes that call for half or less of the ricotta, and some that also add cream cheese. Some have less sugar. One recipe I found has rum in it (which seems more Caribbean than Italian, but is probably delicious regardless); another is made with honey.

Some require a food processor instead of a mixer; others require straining the ricotta beforehand.

I also came across one with a lower baking temperature (300 F/150 C).

Regarding bake time, one recipe suggested baking for one hour, and then turning the oven off but keeping the cheesecake in for another hour before removing it. This seems like a cool idea, but I’d have to test it.

I’ve seen directions to cool the cake in the refrigerator uncovered for one hour instead of three (and then keep it covered until it cools completely, “6-8 hours.”).

See the many recipes for yourself on the Google Machine.

And take look at these images for other variations and different serving suggestions.

My advice is to start with Frankie’s Mom’s recipe—it’s easy and delicious—and maybe then explore more challenging recipes. Lard knows I never will.



I voted. Pretty much straight Green Party ticket wherever running, write-ins everywhere else. Glenn Greenwald for NY State Attorney General! Edward Snowden for Public Advocate!

Cue the YOU’RE WASTING YOUR VOTE! cries from people who voted for the servants of Goldman Sachs. Here’s a thought: one of us actually takes voting seriously.

Happy Monday.

Christopher Columbus was a huge fucking shitweasel.

And yet, there is a ginormous parade honoring him today on Fifth Avenue, from 44th to 72nd Streets, preceded by a “Columbus Day Mass” this morning at St. Patrick’s Cathedral (Fifth Avenue at 50th Street). This stupid parade attracts nearly a million spectators, and is allegedly “the largest celebration of Italian-American culture in the world.” Now normally, we would just be enraged and disgusted at the moral depravity and/or willful ignorance required to celebrate the legacy of this man. Well, there was that one time when Palace archnemesis Antonin Scalia was the Grand Inquisitor or whatever of said parade, and we naturally thought this might finally provide the ideal opportunity to realize our life-long dream of mooning him. As luck would have it, we had bronchitis and a raging fever that day, and could barely get out of bed. : |

But today, we are not only enraged and disgusted at the moral depravity and/or willful ignorance required to celebrate the legacy of this man. No, today we are also annoyed and vexed, because we unfortunately have to go to midtown. And our destination is only one short block from the parade route. Midtown is terrible every day of course, and thus we avoid it like the plague it so clearly is. But shut down Fifth Avenue and dozens of surrounding streets? And drop an extra million people there, not a single one of whom will have seen—much less intended to heed—Johnny T’s NYC Tourist Tips? Let’s just say if there were ever an urgent need for breakfast cocktails, this would be it.

paraderouteA promise is a promise. Off we go.

Happy Monday.

Johnny T’s NYC Tourist Tips.

nycpalaceflagAs the Palace is based within the geographic confines of New York City, we take it as one of our primary obligations to serve as an ambassador on behalf of the city we love. Yes, of course we have regaled Loyal Readers™ with plenty of sappy posts on this very subject. But as we were toiling around in the Palace library this morning, we realized that our online diplomatic efforts could be nicely supplemented with a concise collection of resources for the actual (or virtual) tourist.

In the process of gathering links I came across a video, which I think serves as a perfect introduction to both the city itself and to the new Palace library collection: Johnny T’s NYC Tourist Tips.

Hahaha. Sounds exactly right.

In case you’re interested, here is our new NYC section. Enjoy. Or get out of the way.


[Palace posts that reference NYC can be found here.]

A day in the life.

I don’t usually blog like this. It’s too personal. You probably know what I mean.


I awoke to streaming sunshine and crystal clear blue skies.

I needed to mail a birthday card today, and didn’t want to miss the early mail truck pickup. Still I lingered a little too long over coffee, trading emails, poring over my research for a piece I’m working on for The Feminist Hivemind, and making plans to see After Tiller with a friend tomorrow at Film Forum on Houston.

Shit. Better get going. Shower. Check weather. Holy $#!+! It’s fifty fucking degrees outside! Dig through closet looking for sweaters. Get distracted piling up shirts I haven’t worn in a year. (New York Rule Number 6,722: if you haven’t worn it in a year, give it away or donate it. You need the closet space.) Ooh, look. A black sweater. I haven’t seen one since April.

I eschew makeup as usual, but I do manage to catch a glimpse of my hair in a mirror as I’m heading out the door. Jeezus Christ. It looks like an explosion of jungle overgrowth—and not in that ridiculously sexy way fashionable black women wear big, thick hair. Nope: mine is a tangled mass of wild waves, ringlets, cowlicks, frizz and random straight pieces sticking out, patchy golds and browns and a few wiry grays. My fucking head appears indistinguishable from a dirty old straw broom. I try artfully rearranging it. Parting it. Pulling on the bangs. A headband. Ponytail. Barrettes. None of this is even remotely helping. And I don’t have time to look for my winter hats.

Fuck it.

On the way to the post office is The Meadow, a store that can really only be described as the kind of place that can make one believe in magic. Not the supernatural kind, silly. The magic of an atmosphere suffused with whimsy, color and exotic scent—unmistakably earthly delights. The Meadow specializes in “Finishing Salt, Chocolate, Cocktail Bitters and Flowers,” and as you might imagine it smells really, really nice inside. Lately they’ve been promoting Himalayan salt block cooking, whatever that is. Gorgeous slabs of salt are stacked in the front window. Every time I pass by I wonder whether someone with my level of cooking “skill” could take on such a thing (probably not), and even if so, whether it would be worth it. (Probably not.)

themeadowI bought a little something there. You’ll never guess what. (HINT: it was neither finishing salt, cocktail bitters nor flowers.)

I dropped off my unloved shirts at my local thrift store Housing Works, and took a stroll around the shop. There were some affordable eye-catching finds…


Clockwise from top left: 4-panel carved walnut screen (perfect for hanging all my feather boas!); vintage framed carved wood/painting; oversized wicker and wood chair; metal and lucite chandelier.

…none of which I have any use for, let alone room for. The chances of me finding what I’m actually looking for there are next to nil. (No one ever donates nice coasters. I know this, because I’ve been trolling thrift shops for nice coasters for years. Shit, if I had nice coasters I guess I wouldn’t give ’em up either, because apparently nice coasters are rarer than Central Park Bigfoot sightings.) That’s the thing about thrift shops: you cannot go in looking for any specific something. You go in with an open mind and a well-honed sense of restraint for impulse buys, or you’re doomed. MOVING ON.

Steve Madden on Bleecker had some boots in the window, and, as it happens, I am in the market for boots. (New York is notoriously hard on shoes. After two years of resoling two pairs of boots that I love, they’re looking a bit beat up). The impossibly trendy sales clerks ignored me (my hair!) which is just as well. Because $500. For a single pair of boots. That aren’t even waterproof. And will almost certainly hurt my feet. MOVING ON.

I headed to a [REDACTED] store over on [REDACTED]. I would say more, except that I was shopping for a gift for someone who is known to read this very blog. Mission: unsuccessful. MOVING ON.

Whoa. Now I’m really hungry. I meant to eat a banana and some nuts before I left the Palace, but with all this Film Forum friend planning, old shirt collecting and MY GAWD THE HAIR I spaced it. I head toward Morandi.

Depending on how I hit the traffic lights, I often pass through a tiny park across the street from the restaurant on my way to or from. There’s a monument there which always godandfamouscatches my eye, because the side of its granite base that I see on my route says “GOD AND FAMOUS.” It’s a part of a quote that wraps around the whole block, but taken alone it just strikes me as…well, really weird. The kind of thing that triggers cascades of thought in all sorts of unexpected directions. God and famous. Wut? Do you win a game show or something, and get to pick whether you get to be either God or famous? If you win the bonus round do you get to be both God and famous? I paused to take a picture of it for my Loyal Readers™ (of course). It had warmed up a little and the sky was still blazing blue. People were seated on the handful of benches, reading newspapers and whatnot. I felt anchored to that spot, just wanted to stand there, and breathe. I read a sign about the park:

McCarthy Square

The 1811 Commissioners’ Plan—the far-reaching gridiron pattern which laid out the streets and avenues of Manhattan—had little immediate impact on the western part of Greenwich Village. The grid was intended to provide a system for the orderly development of land between 14th Street and Washington Heights. However the geography of the West Village had evolved in an unregulated fashion since colonial days, emerging from marshland to farmland and then from a rural suburb to a densely settled residential, commercial, and industrial neighborhood full of crooked streets.

Not until the 1910s and 1920s were Seventh and Eighth Avenues extended south of 14th Street. As a result, a number of small irregular parcels were created, including the traffic island at Charles Street, Waverly Place, and Seventh Avenue South. This parcel was acquired as a street and developed by the Borough President of Manhattan. In 1943 by Local Law #16 the City Council named the site in memory of Private First Class Bernard Joseph McCarthy, who was born and raised in Greenwich Village. A Marine, McCarthy was killed at Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands in August 1942 at the age of twenty-two. His was the first reported death of a Greenwich Village resident in the war.

The original version of McCarthy Square’s central flagpole originally stood on the grounds of the 1939 World’s Fair in Flushing, Queens. It was moved to this site and embellished with an inscribed base of Deer Isle granite on behalf of neighborhood residents and the Dr. George A. Hayunga Maritime Post #1069 of the American Legion. Both the park and the memorial flagstaff were dedicated in June 1943, a tribute to a brave son of Greenwich Village, the first to fall for his country in World War II.

At about eye level there are colorful little houses set into the greenery. Why? Well, why not? (There’s probably some only-in-New-York story there.)


McCarthy Square.

vermentinoMorandi was bustling. I sat at the bar, and said hello to the bartender. Before I said anything more he had already poured me a glass of Vermentino. Okay, then. I ordered one of the lunch specials: orecchiette with spinach and butternut squash. More Vermentino, more email, and then a coffee. Goddamn, they make good coffee.

On my way out, I see Philip Seymour Hoffman and a companion at a table by the door, smiling and relaxing post-lunch. I run into a lot of famous (and infamous) people at my regular haunts, and I never, EVER do this, but for some reason (the Vermentino? the sunshine glistening off of Hoffman’s eminently recognizable silky pale-gold mop?) I was going to plotz down right next to him and ask if I could take a picture with him.

Then I remembered: OMFG hair.

There would be no photographs.

I took the long way home.

It turned out to be a good mail day at the Palace. Samantha Irby’s book Meaty finally arrived. (I loooove her blog.)


It will go right on top of the stack of books I really want to read but never seem to get to.

I have a dinner date tonight with My Amazing Lover™.

FFS I gotta blow-dry my bangs.