Selected Events (12/16) + Top Manhattan Toy Stores 2014

Today’s “FAB 5″+1/ Selected NYCity Events – TUESDAY, DEC. 16, 2014.
“We search the internet everyday looking for the very best of What’s Happening on Manhattan’s WestSide, so that you don’t have to. We make it as easy as 1-2-3.”

Brazilian Night w/ Irene Walsh – Brazilian Music

Rhett Miller’s Holiday Extravaganza – SpecialEvent/ Holiday Music

The Heart Is Not a Metaphor  – SmartStuff/ Book Talk

Jeff (Tain) Watts – Jazz

James Langton’s New York All-Star Big Band – Jazz

Holiday Party SpecialEvent/ Holiday Party

For other useful and curated NYCity event info for Manhattan’s WestSide check out:
♦ “9 Notable Events-Dec.”, and “Top10 Free” in the header above.
♦  For NYCity trip planning see links in “Resources” and “Smart Stuff” in the header above.

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Brazilian Night w/ Irene Walsh
Irene Walsh on vocals
Cesar Garabini on 7-string guitar
Rob Curto on accordion and piano
Sergio Krakowski on pandeiro

The show will present a gorgeous, dynamic repertoire of samba, forro, choro and original compositions.

The Brazilian music series at Caffe Vivaldi happens on FIRST and THIRD TUESDAYS of the month. The series features both traditional and experimental Brazilian music by the top artists in NYC. The show is curated by Irene Walsh, producer and director at Split Rock Films. Every show is completely unique and Irene sings at least one set of classic samba at every show.
Many shows are filmed and will be posted on the YouTube channel for Split Rock Film.
Caffe Vivaldi, 32 Jones St, (near Bleecker St and 7th Ave),
7PM to 10PM / $10 suggested donation for the benefit of the artists

Rhett Miller’s Holiday Extravaganza 
“The Dallas band the Old 97’s, alternative-country torchbearers since the early ’90s, have long catered to outlaw-rock fans. The band’s spirited lead singer, Rhett Miller, will be hard-pressed not to offer a track or two from the band’s fiery catalog during his second annual holiday music and comedy revue, which will feature Jen Kirkman, Dave Hill and Wyatt Cenac.” (NYT-Anderson)
City Winery, 155 Varick Street, near Spring Street, South Village,
212-608-0555 / citywinery.com
8PM / $25 to $35.

The Heart Is Not a Metaphor | Robert Gober, Ann Temkin |
An Artist Dialogue Series Event

“Robert Gober’s objects and installations are among the most challenging artworks of the last thirty years. On his emergence in the mid-1980s, with deceptively simple sculptures of everyday objects such as sinks and beds, this New York artist was quickly acknowledged as one of the most significant of his generation. Whether in his exacting handcrafted replications of machine-made products, his enigmatic transformations of the human body, or his enveloping theatrical environments, Gober’s formal intelligence is matched by a penetrating reading of his times.

To celebrate the publication of Robert Gober: The Heart Is Not a Metaphor, produced in conjunction with the first large-scale survey exhibition of his art in the United States, the artist joins in conversation with Ann Temkin, Chief Curator of Painting at Sculpture at The Museum of Modern Art, to discuss the his art and career and the themes and motifs to which he has returned throughout the decades.” (BookForum)
The New York Public Library, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building
5th Avenue at 42nd St.
6PM / FREE

JEFF (TAIN) WATTS (through Dec. 21)
“The relentlessly propulsive drummer and the thoughtfully probing saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, his special guest for this run at the Village Vanguard, have ties that go back years: Watts provided the percussive flair for Coltrane’s début recording as a leader, in 1997. The Watts-and-Coltrane team creates a dynamic that recalls the electric charge produced by Ravi’s father, John, and his drummer Elvin Jones.” (NewYorker) 
Village Vanguard, 178 Seventh Ave. S., at 11th St.
212-255-4037, villagevanguard.com
At 8:30 and 10:30 p.m./ $25 and $30 cover, with a one-drink minimum

James Langton’s New York All-Star Big Band
Featuring Dan Levinson and Molly Ryan (through Thursday)
“Last July, this same combination played Midsummer Night’s Swing at Lincoln Center, playing the iconic arrangements of Benny Goodman, and it was quite possibly the most exciting performance of Goodman’s music that has been heard ever since the great clarinetist was alive to play it. Now they’re taking the ensemble indoors—as a follow-up act to Michael Feinstein—and the act has been expanded to include the band books of other legendary leaders of the swing era, such as Glenn Miller, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Tommy Dorsey, Artie Shaw and Charlie Barnet.” (WSJ)
Birdland, 315 W. 44th St.,
11pm / $40
(212) 581-3080

PLUS 1 / Elsewhere, but sure looks worth the detour:

Holiday Party
“Amuse yourself at a Victorian holiday party, complete with music, punch, and readings from A Christmas Carol, within the period-decorated confines of the Merchant’s House Museum.”

“The House will be in festive mid-19th century holiday dress with a table top tree, poinsettias, candlelight, and greenery decking the halls. Join us for a collation of Dickensian fare and old Scrooge’s favorite, a ‘bowl of Bishop,’ as we celebrate the holidays in Old New-York. Tours of the House, holiday music, and a raffle & gift bazaar. With special performance previews of ‘A Christmas Carol at the Merchant’s House’ throughout the evening by star Kevin Jones.” (ThoughtGallery.org)
Merchant’s House Museum, 29 E 4th St.
212-777-1089
6pm / $25

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♦ Before making final plans, we suggest you call the venue to confirm ticket availability, dates and times, as schedules are subject to change.
♦ NYCity (pop. 8.4 million) had 54 million visitors last year and quality shows draw crowds. Try to reserve seats in advance, even if just on day of performance.
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Manhattan Toy Stores (nycgo.com)
Here’s a rundown of some top Manhattan toy stores. Now buy that kid a toy.

FAO Schwarz
This store is a place to gawk: at the oversize stuffed animals, at the real people in toy soldier outfits, at the giant piano made famous by Tom Hanks movie Big and at the immensity of the space itself. Able to trace its roots all the way back to 1862 (when the founder first started vending toys out of a Baltimore shop), FAO Schwarz is a bona fide tourist attraction. These days, kids can customize certain items here—designing, for example, their own Muppet or toy car.

American Girl Place
New York City is home to a large flagship store for American Girl–brand dolls. The company has found success selling figures representing young girls from various historical periods and ethnic backgrounds. Those who’d like to further indulge their children’s desire to treat the dolls like real people can take advantage of a photo studio, a salon for dolls to get new ‘dos and a doll hospital where damaged “girls” are admitted as patients, fixed up (the store sends the dolls out for that) and shipped back to their happy owners good as new.

Scholastic Store
The retail outlet of NYC publisher Scholastic sells a full slate of the house’s titles—including popular series like Harry Potter, The Magic School Bus, Clifford the Big Red Dog and Captain Underpants. The big, colorful store also hosts craft workshops, movie screenings and other kid-friendly events. Check their website for details. Also sold on site: computer programs, games, puzzles, videos and, of course, toys.

Toy Tokyo
This East Village store caters to serious toy collectors with its selection of rare and imported items, such as hand-painted figurines and wind-up toys from Hong Kong and Japan. Expect to find the latest Transformers, Star Wars and urban vinyl (read: designer action figures made of vinyl) toys here, along with unexpected gems.

Forbidden Planet
This cool store specializes in comics, graphic novels, manga, anime and other “alternative hobbies,” like sci-fi and role-playing games. Forbidden Planet also has a huge selection of toys and statues, and its staff, described by one customer as a “fleet of cute nerds,” is extra-helpful since they’re all enthusiasts themselves.

Disney Store
Cited by some as a symbol of Times Square’s now-long-ago transformation into a family-friendly destination, the Disney Store is exactly what it sounds like: a repository of Disney-branded products, including plenty of toys. If your kid is looking for a Buzz Lightyear action figure, a plush Pumbaa or, say, an Epcot Spaceship Earth play set, this is the place to find it. Thanks to Disney’s acquisition of the Star Wars franchise, you can also find lightsabers and other Lucas-related goodies.

Toys “R” Us
We’ll allow that there might be a Toys “R” Us in your hometown, but chances are that one doesn’t have its own Ferris wheel or an animatronic Tyrannosaurus rex.

Video Games New York
Filled with hard-to-find items—vintage games for systems like for NES, SNES, Atari Jaguar, Dreamcast, Neo Geo, Game Boy, Game Boy Advance and Commodore, not to mention Japanese imports and hardware for arcade machines—this store is as much a museum as a place to shop. Parents who grew up with some of those older consoles may find themselves feeling like kids again. While the used inventory is where Video Games New York really distinguishes itself, the place also carries new machines and releases.

Kidding Around
The downtown location of this store (there’s also an outpost in Grand Central Terminal) has a mom-and-pop feel, to go with some high-end, unusual gifts you might not find at a larger chain. It also sells New York City–themed toys, such as a model Staten Island Ferry.

Nintendo World
Though the 10,000-square-foot Nintendo emporium stocks the latest WiiU games, that’s not where its primary charm lies. You’ll find that instead in T-shirts that set characters in the real New York City (for example, Mario emerging from a sewer); in vintage consoles, games and accessories (even the Gyromite robot!) under glass displays; and in the opportunity to chat with a virtual Nintendo character.

American Museum of Natural History Gift Shop
The shop at this museum—itself a must-visit for any parent with an inquisitive child—sells a wide array of science-related fare, including toys. You might find a set of glow-in-the-dark planets, a pocket microscope, a butterfly garden kit or a plush dinosaur.

blogger’s note:
AC Gears, 69 E 8th St. (b/t University Pl & Greene St in Greenwich Village)
should be added to this list. more like a toy store for adults, with some gadgets directly from Japan. you won’t find their stuff anywhere else in town.

nycgo.com, the website of New York City’s official marketing and tourism organization, has lots of useful NYCity info for the holidays:
Best NYC Toy Stores,
Ice Skating,
2014 Holiday Events,
Holiday Gift Guide,
Winter Events
This fine site is worth checking out when you are planning your NYCity visit.xx

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