“Twilight” Star Robert Pattinson Films in NYC; Gets Attacked by Fans, Hit by Taxi

NYUSummer2009 157

It has been a grueling week for “Twilight” star Robert Pattinson, who is in NYC to shoot his latest film, “Remember Me.”  Not only did he have to wake up early in the morning to be on set at NYU’s Silver Center and Washington Square Park, but he was met by throngs of screaming fans – including two sporting “Twighlight” tote bags who were audacious enough to run past the barricades, flail themselves at Pattinson, and snap some “Myspace-style” photos.  Let’s just say the guards (not to mention Pattinson) were not exactly pleased.

To top it all off the actor was grazed by a taxi in front of the Strand Bookstore while attempting to escape from fans.  One of his bodyguards is reported to have shouted, “See what you did?  You almost killed him!”  Seems to me that the more obsessive Robert Pattinson (dare I call him RoPat?) fans become, the less likely it is that they will have someone to obsess about in the future.

It’s Official: Washington Square Park Renovation Phase I Has Re-Opened (Stay Tuned for Phase II)

WashingtonSquareParkSpring2009 046

Though the fences had been quietly dismantled last Tuesday to allow a growing trickle of visitors, Thursday May 28 marked the official ribbon-cutting celebration of the now-completed Washington Square Park renovation – Phase I, that is.

A red carpet was rolled out to welcome prominent public figures and everyday parkgoers alike; speakers included Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, and NYC Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe.

WashingtonSquareParkSpring2009 024

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and NYC Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe

A tent was raised near the fountain to house a small group of chairs and a dais for the aforementioned speakers, who asserted that “a Nobel peace prize could have been awarded” for the extraordinary negotiation efforts that occurred throughout the planning and construction process.  Several of the speakers also remarked that even the most vocal opponents of the renovation seemed to be impressed.

After the speeches, the officials gathered in front of the fountain (which had been turned off) to stand behind the official ribbon, scissors ready.  The moment the ribbon was cut, streams of water shot out of the waterjets.

WashingtonSquareParkSpring2009 045

Additional festivities included a commemorative button-making station, live jazz music, and free food from local eateries like Crumbs Bake Shop, Le Pain Quotidien, and Mario Batali’s Otto (whose “Gelotto” cart will become a fixture in the park this summer).

WashingtonSquareParkSpring2009 015

Phase I of the renovation added new benches, winding walkways and grand promenades, and 20% more greenspace to the park, and controversially moved the iconic fountain 20 feet to align it with the equally iconic arch.

Though parkgoers are glad to have access to the fountain and central area again, the entire park will not be open for long: Phase II of the renovation, which will be concentrated in the northeast, southeast, and southwest quadrants of the park, is scheduled to begin in the near future.

WashingtonSquareParkSpring2009 013

Not-so-average Joes: NBA Players and Fashionistas Take over the West 4th Basketball Courts for JOE Joseph Abboud & JCPenney

BeachParty 288

There were still basketball players at the famous West 4th Street courts on Monday, May 18 – except this time, they were wearing suits and in the NBA.

To celebrate the launch of their Fall 2009 collaboration, JCPenney (who plans to open at the Manhattan Mall this year) and suitmaker JOE Joseph Abboud obtained permission to close the courts to the public – a decidedly controversial move – to hold a cocktail party.  Attendees included a rather unusual mix of athletes and fashionistas: basketball legends Allan Houston and Cal Ramsey, rising star NBA draft pick Blake Griffin, Bobby Simmons of the New Jersey Nets, New York Knicks head coach Herb Williams and several team members, stylist Michael Angelo, and Jones Apparel retail executives.

BeachParty 294

And you couldn’t miss the collection of male models donning various JOE Joseph Abboud ensembles, stationed around the court literally to stand there and look pretty.

BeachParty 296

Though interesting sheets of aluminum were placed around the fence to create a sense of “privacy,” a few sections were left uncovered, drawing a crowd of curious pedestrians.  Many had stopped when they realized they weren’t hearing the usual shouts of excitement that accompany the lively games at the court.  Several of the onlookers had probably planned to play in or watch one of those games that night; something tells me that if it were not for the presence of professional basketball stars at the event, they would have been quite disappointed.  Once the not-so-average-JOEs cleared out, though, it was back to normal – and I doubt you’ll be seeing suits at that court anytime soon.

BeachParty 284

Hillary Clinton: Congratulations, NYU Class of 2009

HillaryNYU Secretary of State Clinton delivers her speech at Yankee Stadium.  Photo courtesy of the NY Daily News

The New York University All-University Commencement for the class of 2009 was held in the brand new Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, May 13.  Over 25,000 people attended the event headlined by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who received an honorary degree (and a hug from President John Sexton!) and delivered the commencement address.  Recognizing that the class of 2009 is graduating during one of the worst economic climates since the Great Depression, Clinton emphasized the challenging yet promising times ahead.  The Secretary of State urged the class to participate in global affairs and to embrace the inevitability of change.   She explained that much is expected of these graduates, and in light of the location, remarked that now they “are up to bat.”  Watch her speech here.

NYU Graduation Coverage Part 1: Grad Alley

LateSpring2009 241

The streetsign may have been temporary, but on May 12 – the day before graduation for NYU’s Class of 2009 – West 4th Street and LaGuardia Place were transformed into a carnival-like “Grad Alley.” The celebratory street offered food (only at NYU would knishes and falafel be standard fare), a DJ, jugglers, games, crafts, and even human statues (say hi to Lady Liberty!) for graduating seniors and their families.

Washington Square Park Construction Update: And Then There Were Lights, or Don’t Blink, You’ll Miss the Fountain

washington_square_parkrainbow

This weekend the Washington Square Park fountain was restored to its former glory – if only for a few minutes.

At about noon Friday, the jets were activated, sending gallons of water into the air over the slightly relocated fountain (remember, it was absolutely necessary that it line up exactly with the arch) in the closed portion of the park.  Curious onlookers (who after a year of construction probably forgot the fountain even existed) stood mesmerized, perhaps nostalgic for the days when parkgoers could sunbathe and even take a splash there.

But by about one o’clock, the jets had been turned off, reminding us that this was only the construction team saying “testing, one, two, three.”  Such a tease.

Also this weekend, new (yet old-fashioned) globe light fixtures were installed in the area immediately surrounding the fountain, bringing a much-needed element of grandeur. (Remember those atrocious globe fixtures that looked ugly and soiled enough to be from the ’70s?  You’ve probably been trying to block them from memory.)

endofsecondsemester2009-2141

But the fountain test, lighting, and general progress of construction appear to be promising indicators of a re-opening in the very near future – perhaps even before the long summer days have us aching for a refreshingly cool spritz.

Vitamin Water 10 Pops Up in Soho

april2009-162

carmenelectravitaminwater Photo courtesy of Getty Images

To celebrate the debut of its new 10 calorie version, Vitamin Water opened a pop-up shop in the former Helio space, next to Urban Outfitters, at 628 Broadway in Soho (technically Noho, but we’ll give it to them).

On the night of Thursday, April 2 (the same day as the opening of Topshop down the street), the store held an opening party, setting up a red carpet and bleachers for invited guests right on the sidewalk.  And it was not without star power – actress Carmen Electra hosted the event.

The store itself offers complimentary bottles of Vitamin Water 10 (in four flavors, including Vitamin C-abundant lemonade and antioxidant berry), which guests can enjoy in a minimalist setting featuring seating areas, videogames on a Wii, and a photobooth in the front window (that’s visible to passing traffic on Broadway).  Another window facing the street features a live model, decked out in the colorful tee shirts, white short-shorts, and knee-high socks all the employees were wearing (since of course 2009 is actually just The ’80s, Part Two).

Unfortunately, the store is only temporary, meaning weary Soho shoppers can’t count on that refreshing free Vitamin Water for long.