Category Archives: Culture

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

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Vitamin Water 10 Pops Up in Soho

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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.

The British Invasion: New Yorkers Swarm Opening Day Extravaganza in the Race to the Topshop

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“The British are coming!” fashionistas chanted for months after London-based fast fashion retailer Topshop announced its first US store would open in New York.

Well, they’ve arrived.

Granted, it took them a while to get here: Topshop initially entered the American market by introducing only select pieces from its line at Barneys New York, and then delayed the opening of its first full-scale stateside flagship from Fall 2008 to April 2, 2009.  But judging from the lines that wrapped around the block at Broadway and Broome St. in Soho today (Recession?  What recession?), demand and expectations ran high – and many shoppers would probably agree that it was well worth the wait.

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Celebrities like Kate Moss, Marc Anthony, Jennifer Lopez, Michelle Trachtenberg, and DJ Mark Ronson (yes, that’s the brother of Lindsay Lohan’s companion/girlfriend/pubilicity stunt/whatever, Samanatha Ronson) were on hand to celebrate the opening of the 40,000 square foot flagship, which stands at more than four stories and includes both the Topshop (women’s apparel and accessories) and Topman lines.

For those unfamiliar with Topshop, the brand falls somewhere between H&M and Banana Republic in style and price: some pieces are  irresistibly cute and inexpensive (like colorful men’s V-neck tees and short-sleeve shirts, two for $20), while others appeal to a more “aspirational” customer (take a $140 seersucker blazer).  The women’s pieces were particularly fashion-forward, adventurous, and stunning (the Kate Moss collection’s sparkly sequined dresses and dangerously spiked heels could only be described accurately as “fierce”).  But many of the men’s urban hipster pieces seemed lackluster, busy (gingham flannel shirt with striped tie?), and we’ve-seen-this-before (high-top shoes).  Overall though, most of the store made a strong showing at a reasonable price.

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Many of the day’s customers were enticed by gift cards (ranging from $5 to $500 and redeemable only on April 2) that had been handed out from Topshop vans throughout the city earlier this week.  Additional giftcards (and waterbottles – how thoughtful!) were handed out to shoppers waiting in line.

Topshop’s Soho neighbor, Madewell (the two stores are separated only by the upcoming J. Crew men’s store) also benefited from today’s crowds.  In addition to offering free doughnuts, Madewell created a window display in honor (or should we say, honour?) of the occasion: “A Royal Welcome to Our New Neighbour” and “All Hail the Jean.”  It’s nice to see some friendly retail/international relations instead of the usual cutthroat competition.

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Though New York remains the only Topshop outpost in the States for now, the success of today’s opening despite the suffering economy may be an indicator of the potential for nationwide expansion.  A British takeover of America has never sounded so lovely.

The Magic is Back: “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” with Nicolas Cage Returns to Washington Square Park and NYU

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Conveniently for those NYU students who missed it over spring break, the cast and crew of “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” returned to Washington Square Park today to film new scenes.  This time, however, the public was afforded an actual Nicolas Cage sighting (if you could recognize him in a long brown trench coat, long hair, and sorcerer’s cap).

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Actor Jay Baruchel could also be seen on set.  The scene itself featured several extras walking along pathways in the park, with Cage and Baruchel among them.  The cast and crew were lucky to be working on a beautiful 65-degree day, though unfortunately for everyone else (who wasn’t interested in star gazing), the filming closed off a large section on the east side of the park.

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