Selected Events (09/11) + Today’s Featured Pub (Greenwich Village)

Today’s Super 6 > FRIDAY / SEPT. 11, 2015

“We search the internet everyday looking for the very best of What’s Happening, primarily on Manhattan’s WestSide, so that you don’t have to.” We make it as easy as 1-2-3.
(click on links for complete event info.)

Music, Dance, Performing Arts
>Linda Lavin: Starting Over (also Sept 12)
54 Below, 254 W54th St / 7PM, $51-$61
(may need to aim for shows on Sept 10-11-12)
“Actor-singer extraordinaire Lavin, a stage powerhouse best known to general audiences as the title character of the sitcom Alice, gets back to her musical-theater roots with a collection of show tunes and standards.” (TONY)

>Arturo O’Farrill and the Boss Level Sextet (through Sept. 12)
Birdland, 315 W44th St./ 8:30PM +11PM, $40
“Mr. O’Farrill is best known as the pianist and composer behind the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, which released an impressive album, “Cuba: The Conversation Continues,” a couple of weeks ago. This sextet, lighter on its feet but no less serious in purpose, features both of his reputable young sons — Adam on trumpet, Zack on drums — with the saxophonist Livio Almeida, the guitarist Travis Reuter and the bassist Bam Bam Rodriguez.” (Chinen-NYT)

>Bill Charlap Trio (through Sept. 20)
Village Vanguard, 178 Seventh Ave South, at 11th St./ 8:30PM +10:30PM, $
“The pianist Bill Charlap has become one of our era’s most trusted docents of the American songbook — hear his handiwork all over Tony Bennett’s “The Silver Lining: The Songs of Jerome Kern,” due out in a few weeks — and he brings the full breadth of his erudition to any engagement by his trio. Featuring Peter Washington on bass and Kenny Washington (no relation) on drums, it’s a group with almost 20 years of working history, and many hours logged in this room.”
(Nate Chinen-NYT)

Smart Stuff / Other
(Lectures, Discussions, Book Talks, Literary Readings, Classes, Food & Drink, Other)
>2015 Affordable Art Fair, (September 10–13)
The Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 W18th St (betw 6th/7th Ave) / 11AM-8PM, $20
Affordable Art Fair is looking forward to an exciting fall 2015 edition with over 70 local, national, and international galleries offering an array of original artwork from more than 1,000 artists. It begins again, with a private preview at the Metropolitan Pavilion this evening and the public opening on Thursday.

>Feast of San Gennaro (through Sep 20)
Little Italy / 11:30AM-11PM (12AM on fri/sat)
“Celebrate the martyred 3rd-century bishop and patron saint of Naples at this 11-day festival that fills the streets of Little Italy every year. Watch the professionals in action at the cannoli-eating competition, and you won’t feel so bad about indulging in calorific treats from the food vendors; return daily for live musical performances.’ (TONY)
Mulberry St between Canal and Houston Sts; Grand St between Baxter and Mott Sts; Hester St between Baxter and Mott Sts.

TODAY’S TOP EVENT
Elsewhere, but absolutely worth the detour:
U.S. TENNIS OPEN (Day 12)

September 5, 2015 - Roger Federer in action in a men's singles third-round match against Philipp Kohlschreiber during the 2015 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, NY. (USTA/Pete Staples)

September 5, 2015 – Roger Federer in action in a men’s singles third-round match against Philipp Kohlschreiber during the 2015 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, NY. (USTA/Pete Staples)

The U.S. Open continues play today (11AM) at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens and runs through Sept. 13. This is the fourth and final Grand Slam tennis tournament of the year. Everyone is looking for the Serena slam this year.
subway: #1-2-3 to Times Square; transfer to #7 to Willets Point. (about 45 min. from Times Square)

Today’s session of the U.S. Open has been shaken up by yesterday’s rain. First matches today are the rescheduled women’s Final Four (see yesterday’s post for Matt Cronin’s –  USOpen.org, analysis of those two matches):
SIMONA HALEP (2) VS. FLAVIA PENNETTA (26)
SERENA WILLIAMS (1) VS. ROBERTA VINCI

Then at 5PM comes the heavyweight matches of the men’s Final Four, pitting the top two seeds against two tough competitors, including last year’s champ (predictions per Matt Cronin –  USOpen.org):

ROGER FEDERER (2) VS. STAN WAWRINKA (5)
Now this is a fascinating matchup. The 34-year-old Federer certainly is the favorite, given that his fellow Swiss has never been able to beat him on hard courts, but without a doubt, Wawrinka has improved his play over the past two years.

Back in the spring of 2013, the now 30-year-old wanted to change and hired his coach Magnus Norman. The Swede decided that Wawrinka needed to get in better shape and improve his forehand and serve. Wawrinka did all of those, which is why he cracked the Top 5. He beat the likes of Djokovic in a couple of delicious five-setters, he got through Rafa Nadal in the final of the Aussie Open, he stunned Andy Murray at the 2013 US Open, and somewhat most importantly, he out-hit Federer in Paris.

Both men have amazing, high-quality, slice-and-dice backhands. They both can flatten them out and go down the line or smooth on some heavy topspin that comes down at the last second and touches the baseline. Federer’s forehand is significantly better and can dominate cross the court, but Wawrinka now can go down the line when he is feeling it. Federer also has more variety in his serves and he certainly is smoother at the net. In fact, Federer has been more courageous and thoughtful, which is why, head to head, Roger owns 16 victories and Wawrinka has three.

This time, Federer realizes his time is now. He has been playing nearly flawless tennis during the fortnight, crushing everyone. The Arthur Ashe Stadium hard court is faster than the clay, and Federer will not be forced into long rallies. He will go right at Wawrinka, come to the net as soon as possible, wear him down with some very deep forehands and, late in the fourth set in the tiebreak, he will spin him around. The ‘elder’ Federer will reach the final once again.

NOVAL DJOKOVIC (1) VS. MARIN CILIC (9)
The 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic has been substantially better here in New York than he has been in the rest of the world in the past year. He was injured right after he left Flushing Meadows a year ago, he rarely played the rest of the year and didn’t begin to compete again until March. Gradually, he has looked better and better, but he struggled against the top players. The Croat’s huge serve and massive forehand were pretty effective, but his backhand was very spotty, he wasn’t returning very well and, mentally, he would become very disappointed if he wasn’t playing particular well.

When he arrived in New York two weeks ago, all of that changed. He was jumping up and down, he was happy and he was hopeful. He was consistent and forceful at the net. In the fifth set of the quarterfinals against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Cilic didn’t panic. He pulled out a terrific contest and ka-boom, he has reached the semifinal once again.

Unfortunately, Cilic has to face No. 1 Djokovic in the semis. Djokovic has beaten him all 13 times they’ve played, and he has schooled him in every type of significant contest: Canada, Cincinnati, Indian Wells, the French Open, Wimbledon and, in 2008, here, beating Cilic at the 2008 US Open, 6-7, 7-5, 6-4, 7-6, in the third round.

The nine-time Grand Slam champion Djokovic has “only” won one US Open, back in 2011. Last year, he was shocked by Kei Nishikori in the semis. Novak was super angry. This time, though, he is not going to lose his head. He realizes that as long as he can return Cilic’s serve, then he will grind him from inside the baseline. His strokes are more effective and he is significantly faster. While Cilic thinks he has a shot to finally get him, he doesn’t have the right combinations against Djokovic. Cilic will be very risky and will snag a set, but that is it. Djokovic will win in four sets and reach the final.

Today’s tips: 
Unfortunately, this is the last year for the Grandstand court, which is being replaced by a larger, less intimate court. It will be sorely missed. Make sure to find your way over there to see some matches while you can.

The best, most comprehensive review of the tournament and the current state of tennis can be found at the NYTimes/Sports

Bonus – Jazz Venues:
Many consider NYCity the Jazz capital of the world. Here are my favorite Jazz clubs, all on Manhattan’s WestSide. Check out who’s playing tonight:
Greenwich Village:
Village Vanguard – 178 7th ave. South, — villagevanguard.com / 212-255-4037
Blue Note – 131 W3rd St. nr 6th ave. — bluenotejazz.com / 212-475-8592
55 Bar – 55 Christopher St. nr 7th ave. South — 55bar.com / 212-929-9883
Outside Greenwich Village:
Dizzy’s Club – Broadway @ 60th St. — jazz.org/dizzys / 212-258-9595
Birdland – 315 W44th St.(btw 8/9 ave) — birdlandjazz.com / 212-581-3080
Smoke Jazz Club – 2751 Broadway, nr.106th St. — smokejazz.com / 212-864-6662

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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, with a population of  8.5 million, had a record 56 million visitors last year and is TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice Top U.S. Destination for 2015.  Quality shows draw crowds. Try to reserve seats in advance, even if just on day of performance.
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A PremierPub and 3 Good Eating Places – Greenwich Village

Caffe Vivaldi / 32 Jones Street (btw. Bleecker St./W4th St.)

Café Vivaldi is a classic, intimate club located in Greenwich Village on Jones Street, the street featured on the cover of Bob Dylan’s second album, “Freewheelin’. ”

maxresdefaultEach night Ishrat, the long time proprietor and impresario, carefully curates and schedules an eclectic series of musicians. You can often see him at his table in the corner, hard at work reviewing music videos and listening to cd demos on his laptop, scouting out future bookings. Musicians come from all over to play and sing in a club in Greenwich Village. Some are local New Yorkers, others are just passing through, in town for a few days.

There is a small bar, seating maybe 10. It’s close to the stage and I find it’s a perfect spot to sip a glass of red wine while listening to the music. The room itself has the performance area at one end and a cozy fireplace at the other. The performance area here is small, dominated by a large black Yamaha Grand piano. Tables are bunched together and most people at the tables are eating lite meals or sampling the wonderful desserts.

There is also a good selection of fairly priced wines,  but you are here because of the music. You can never be quite sure what you’re going to find, and that’s half the charm of this place. It’s not a home run every night, but many nights it’s pretty special.

I remember the night I saw the most talented bossa nova group, just in from San Paulo. As I listened, I wondered if there was any better music playing anywhere else in New York City that night. And at Caffé Vivaldi there is never a cover charge. Their recently redesigned web site does give you a better idea of the type of music playing each night.

At one time Greenwich Village was filled with clubs just like this, but times change. Real estate interests have impacted the village, and not for the better. Even Caffé Vivaldi had a rough time recently, when a new landlord raised the rent exorbitantly. Fortunately, Ishrat has built a loyal following over the years, and a fund raiser and slightly more reasonable rent has kept Café Vivaldi in business.

When Woody Allen and Al Pacino wanted to make movies featuring the timeless quality of Greenwich Village they came to Vivaldi. It’s important that we keep this special place alive, for if we lose Cafe Vivaldi, NYCity will have lost a piece of it’s soul.

Website: http://caffevivaldi.com/
Phone #: (212) 691-7538
Hours: Music generally 7:30PM – 11PM, but varies
Lunch/Dinner 11AM-on
Subway: #1 to Christopher St.
Walk 1 blk S. on 7th ave S. to Bleecker St., 1 blk left on Bleecker to Jones St., 50 yards left on Jones St. to Caffe V.

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“Pub” is used in it’s broadest sense – bars, bar/restaurants, jazz clubs, wine bars, tapas bars, craft beer bars, dive bars, cocktail lounges, and of course, pubs – just about anyplace you can get a drink without a cover charge
If you have a fave premier pub or good eating place on Manhattan’s WestSide let us all know about it – leave a comment.
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3 Good Eating places

It’s not difficult to find a place to eat in Manhattan.
Finding a good, inexpensive place to eat is a bit harder.
Here are a few of my faves in this neighborhood:

Fish280 Bleecker St. (just a bit S. of 7th ave South)
This was an easy pick – the best raw bar special in town. $9 gets you 6 of the freshest oysters or clams + a glass of wine or beer. Don’t know how they can do it, but I tell everyone I know about this place. And it’s located right in the heart of some of the best no cover music in town.

Bleecker Street Pizza – 69 7th ave S. (corner of Bleecker St.)
The place is tiny and not much to look at, but this is one good slice. They like to brag that they have been voted “Best pizza in NY” 3 years in a row by the Food Network. I believe them. I would have voted for them.

Num Pang – 21 E 12th St. (btw. University Place/5th ave.)
This is a Cambodian banh mi sandwich shop that kept me well fed while I was in class nearby recently. It’s cramped, even for NYCity, but usually there is room up the spiral staircase to sit down and eat. In good weather carry your sandwich a few blocks to Union Square park. You may have to wait a few minutes, because everything is freshly made, but it’s worth it. Can you believe – an unheard of 26 food rating by Zagat.

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“3 Good Eating places” focuses on a quick bite, what I call “Fine Fast Food – NYCity Style”
This covers a wide range of food – the traditional pizza, burgers, & hot dogs; but also food trucks & carts, soup & sandwiches, picnic fixins’, raw bars & lobster rolls, bbq, vegetarian, falafel, ramen, chopped salad & salad bars. No reservations needed. ===========================================================================

◊ For all my picks of 54 Good Eating places, and essays on my favorite 18 PremierPubs in 9 Neighborhoods on Manhattan’s WestSide, order a copy of my e-book:
“Eating and Drinking on NYCity’s WestSide” ($4.99, available Fall 2015).
◊ Order before Oct. 31, 2015 and receive a bonus – 27 of my favorite casual dining places with free Wi-Fi.

 

 

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