NYC Events,”Only the Best” (12/05) + Museum Special Exhibitions: Manhattan’s WestSide

“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.

For future NYC Events, check the tab above:  NYC Events-December”
It’s the most comprehensive list of top events this month that you will find anywhere.
Carefully curated from “Only the Best” NYC event info on the the web, it’s a simply superb resource that will help you plan your NYC visit all over town, all through the month.

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Have time for only one NYC Event today? Do this:

This is surely not Manhattan’s WesSide, and it’s not easy to get to, but I have found this one to be worth the detour:

THE FOURTH ANNUAL ROOTS N’ RUCKUS FEST (Dec.5-8)
at the Jalopy Theater at various times, FREE
“This festival celebrates a free, weekly concert of the same name that’s been a fixture of Red Hook’s Jalopy Theatre since 2008. Most of the artists booked, predictably, fall somewhere in the broad category of American roots music; the “ruckus” comes from both the more unconventional acts and the shows’ jovial atmosphere. At the four day festival, which includes the neighboring Jalopy Pub, audiences can sample everything from Indian classical music via Brooklyn Raga Massive to old-time folk from 13-year-old banjo prodigy Nora Brown. The only cover charge is a suggested contribution to the tip jar after each set.” (NYT-NATALIE WEINER)

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7 OTHER TOP NYC EVENTS TODAY (see below for full listing)
>> PHAROAH SANDERS
>> ASHLEY MCBRYDE
>> TWYLA THARP DANCE
>> ‘CONQUISTADOR! THE LEGACY OF CECIL TAYLOR’
>> Yo La Tengo
>>  “Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy”
>> The Future of Diplomacy:
Continuing Events
>>Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park
>>New York City Ballet / “The Nutcracker”
>> Christmas Spectacular Starring The Radio City Rockettes
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Music, Dance, Performing Arts

ASHLEY MCBRYDE
at the Gramercy Theater / 8PM, $23+
“A Little Dive Bar in Dahlonega,” McBryde’s breakthrough single, took mainstream country fans by surprise for two unfair reasons: it’s an understated, subtle ode to small town angst, and McBryde is a woman. Getting traction at country radio has rarely been more difficult for women in the genre, much less those bucking its prevailing bombastic aesthetic — yet “Dahlonega” stayed on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart for 21 weeks. Fitting, then, that the Arkansas singer’s sharply observed songwriting and lilting voice make her closer to a country purist than genre-disrupting revolutionary.” (NYT-NATALIE WEINER)

TWYLA THARP DANCE  (thru Dec.09)
at the Joyce Theater / 7:30PM; $60+
“Tharp takes inspiration from just about anything fit for a stage — from ballet to the circus to baton twirling — so she can sometimes feel like a stylistic maximalist. But early in her career, she caught the minimalism bug sweeping through the arts at the time. This nearly four-week engagement, called “Minimalism and Me,” focuses on works she created between 1965 and 1971. Among them are the now-classic “Tank Dive,” “The History of Up and Down” and “Eight Jelly Rolls,” a richly layered romp to music by the ragtime master Jelly Roll Morton.” (NYT-Brian Schaefer)

PHAROAH SANDERS (Dec.4-8)
at Birdland / 8:30 and 11PM, $40
“When John Coltrane died unexpectedly in 1967, leaving the jazz world in shock, Pharoah Sanders came to be seen as the musician best equipped to carry his torch. (He had played in some of Coltrane’s last ensembles, then joined the band of Alice Coltrane.) Ever since Sanders has remained a symbol of the upward-bound spiritual jazz that took root in that era. Now 78, he retains an ebullient stage presence and a broad, enchanting tenor saxophone sound. Sanders appears here in a quartet featuring William Henderson on piano, Nat Reeves on bass and Johnathan Blake on drums.” (NYT-GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO)

Not Manhattan’s WestSide, but these should be worth the detour:

‘CONQUISTADOR! THE LEGACY OF CECIL TAYLOR’
at the Clemente/Soto Vélez Cultural Center / 6:30PM, FREE, rsvp required
“The pianist Cecil Taylor was a world-altering talent, a hero of modern American creativity whose only loyalty was to the promise of invention. He pried at the languages of bebop and stride and Romantic piano, breaking them open and refusing to suture them back together into any sort of hybrid. Taylor died in April at 89, and this event pays tribute to his artistry in an appropriately broad fashion: with music from the pianists Craig Taborn, Kris Davis and Matthew Shipp, as well as the drummer Andrew Cyrille (who played with Taylor in the 1960s and ’70s); poetry from Tracie Morris and Steve Dalachinsky; and readings from the scholars Fred Moten and Adam Shatz.” (NYT-GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO)

Yo La Tengo (Dec.2-9)
Bowery Ballroom, 6 Delancey St./ 7:30PM, $40
“In 2001, Yo La Tengo booked a Hanukkah residency at Maxwell’s, giving birth to a tradition that, after a dark stretch following the Hoboken club’s demise, made its way to Bowery Ballroom, last year. The charity concerts established themselves as quintessential Yo La Tengo shows—the band’s own Rat Pack at Sands experience. Each night features a fresh group of opening musical acts and comedians. The comics are the crucial ingredient, allowing the band to exchange the staid rhythms of an indie-rock show for the free-flowing air of a standup club, with starry drop-in guests presented, like all good Hanukkah gifts, as a surprise.” (Jay Ruttenberg, NewYorker)

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Smart Stuff / Other NYC Events
(Lectures/Discussions, Book Talks, Film, Classes, Food & Drink, Other)

Math Encounters: “Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy” with Cathy O’Neil
Museum of Mathematics, 11 E. 26th St./ 4PM, +7PM, FREE
“Big Data is making everything fair and efficient, yes? Author Cathy O’Neil, a former Wall Street quant, shows how it’s actually the opposite. She’ll talk about her book Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy, which reveals the black box models now shaping our destinies. Two sessions (4pm and 7pm), with a special introduction by Fields Medalist Manjul Bhargava.” (ThoughtGallery.org)

The Future of Diplomacy: Secretary Madeleine Albright and Ambassador Wendy Sherman in Conversation with Gillian Tett
92nd Street Y, 1395 Lexington Ave./ 7:30PM, $50
“In coarse times it is reassuring to hear from the pros. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (Fascism: A Warning) speaks with Wendy Sherman (Not for the Faint of Heart: Lessons in Courage, Power, and Persistence), who was the lead negotiator of the Iran nuclear deal. They ‘ll be joined by the U.S. managing editor of the Financial Times, Gillian Tett.” (ThoughtGallery.org)

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Continuing Events

So much going on in this town over the holidays. Too many events & performances to list here. For a much fuller list, check out the tab above “Holidays.”

Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park
Midtown Manhattan’s winter wonderland.
Bryant Park (btw 5th/6th Ave. @42nd St.) / shops to 8PM, rink to 10PM
Enjoy the Holiday Shops, The Lodge by Urbanspace, and The Rink, the centerpiece of Winter Village and New York City’s only free admission ice skating rink.
The Holiday Shops are open through January 2, 2019.

The Rink
This 17,000 square foot rink features free admission ice skating, high quality rental skates, and free skating shows, special events, and activities.
​October 27, 2018 – March 3, 2019
Daily, 8am-10pm (Rink hours are weather permitting and Rink may be closed for events – check here)
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New York City Ballet / “The Nutcracker” (Through Dec. 30)
NYS Theater, Lincoln Center / various times, $40

“New York City Ballet continues performances of its acclaimed 1954 production that would melt the Scroogiest of hearts. The elaborate staging includes a one-ton Christmas tree that grows from a 12 feet to 41 feet and an 85-pound, nine-feet wide Mother Ginger. The ballet highlights dozens of talented and adorable children from the School of American Ballet, but the star of the show isn’t just one dancer but a bevy of Snowflakes. Their waltz — full of beauty and daring — will take your breath away. ” (NYT-Gia Kourlas)
212-496-0600, nycballet.com

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Christmas Spectacular Starring The Radio City Rockettes  (Nov.09- Jan.01)
Radio City Music Hall / various times, $46+
“There’s more great precision dancing than ever in the show’s current edition, which was revamped in 2007 and tweaked again this year. Glamorously outfitted in a series of eye-popping costumes, the Rockettes perform on a double-decker bus, a sparkly staircase and a snowy forest and enact a lightning-fast version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” Not to worry: They’re still doing the classic “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers” number, too. Each scene is enhanced by video backdrops displayed on one of the world’s largest LED screens.”

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♦ Before making final plans, we suggest you call the venue to confirm ticket availability, plus dates and times, as schedules are subject to change.
♦ NYCity, with a population of  8.6 million, had a record 63 million visitors last year and was TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice Top U.S. Destination for 2018 – awesome! BUT quality shows draw crowds. Try to reserve seats for these top NYC events in advance, even if just earlier on the day of performance.

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Bonus: Nifty 9 – Best Cabarets / Piano Bars NYCity
These are my favorite places for an after dinner night on the town – music and drinks.
Hit the Hot Link and check out what’s happening tonight:

Feinstein’s/54 Below – 254 W 54th St.

The Green Room 42 – 570 Tenth Ave.

Don’t Tell Mama – 343 W 46th St.

The Rum House, in the Hotel Edison – 228 W. 47th St.

Laurie Beechman Theatre – 407 W 42nd St.

Marie’s Crisis – 59 Grove St.

The Duplex – 61 Christopher St.

Sid Gold’s Request Room – 165 W 26th St.

Cafe Carlyle, in the Carlyle Hotel – 35 E. 76th St.
This is the only one not located on Manhattan’s WestSide, and it ain’t cheap, but it has some of the finest singers.

For a comprehensive list of the best places to hear All Types of Live Music in Manhattan see the tab above “LiveMusic.”

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NYCity Vacation Travel Guide Video (Expedia):

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WHAT’S ON VIEW
My Fave Special Exhibitions – MUSEUMS / Manhattan’s WestSide
(See the New York Times Arts Section for listings of all museums,
and also to see their expanded reviews of exhibitions)

Whitney Museum of American Art

‘ANDY WARHOL — FROM A TO B AND BACK AGAIN’  (through March 31) and ‘SHADOWS’ at Calvin Klein Headquarters, 205 W. 39th Street (through Dec. 15). “Although this is the artist’s first full American retrospective in 31 years, he’s been so much with us — in museums, galleries, auctions — as to make him, like wallpaper, like the atmosphere, only half-noticed. The Whitney show restores him to a full, commanding view, but does so in a carefully shaped and edited way, with an emphasis on very early and late work. Despite the show’s monumentalizing size, supplemented by an off-site display of the enormous multipanel painting called “Shadows,” it’s a human-scale Warhol we see. Largely absent is the artist-entrepreneur who is taken as a prophet of our market-addled present. What we have instead is Warhol for whom art, whatever else it was, was an expression of personal hopes and fears.”  (Cotter)

Museum of Modern Art:

A special pat on the back to MOMA, who is now displaying art from the seven countries affected by Trump’s travel ban.

“Trump’s ban against refugees from seven Muslim-majority nations has sparked acts of defiance in NYC, from demonstrations across town, to striking taxicab drivers at JFK to Middle Eastern bodega owners closing their shops in protest. Recently, the Museum Of Modern added its two cents by bringing out artworks it owns from the affected countries, and hanging them prominently within the galleries usually reserved for 19th- and 20th-century artworks from Europe and the United States. Paintings by Picasso and Matisse, for example, were removed to make way for pieces by Tala Madani (from Iran), Ibrahim El-Salahi (from Sudan) and architect Zaha Hadid (from Iraq). The rehanging, which was unannounced, aims to create a symbolic welcome that repudiates Trump by creating a visual dialog between the newly added works and the more familiar objects from MoMA’s permanent collection.” (TONY)

‘BRUCE NAUMAN: DISAPPEARING ACTS’  (through Feb. 18)
“If art isn’t basically about life and death, and the emotions and ethics they inspire, what is it about? Style? Taste? Auction results? The most interesting artists go right for the big, uncool existential stuff, which is what Bruce Nauman does in a transfixing half-century retrospective that fills the entire sixth floor of the MoMA and much of MoMA PS1 in Long Island City, Queens. The MoMA installation is tightly paced and high decibel; the one at PS1, which includes a trove of works on paper, is comparatively mellow and mournful. Each location offers a rough chronological overview of his career, but catching both parts of the show is imperative. Nauman has changed the way we define what art is and what is art, and made work prescient of the morally wrenching American moment we’re in. He deserves to be seen in full.” (Cotter)

‘CONSTANTIN BRANCUSI SCULPTURE: THE FILMS’ (through Feb. 18).
“This show is built around works by the Romanian modernist (1876-1957) that have been longtime highlights of the museum’s own collection. But in 2018, can Brancusi still release our inner poet? The answer may lie in paying less attention to the sculptures themselves and more to Brancusi’s little-known and quite amazing films, projected at the entrance to the gallery throughout the duration of the exhibition. MoMA borrowed the series of video clips from the Pompidou Center in Paris. They give the feeling that Brancusi was less interested in making fancy museum objects than in putting new kinds of almost-living things into the world, and convey the vital energy his sculptures were meant to capture.”(Blake Gopnik)

‘BODYS ISEK KINGELEZ: CITY DREAMS’ (through Jan. 1). “The first comprehensive survey of the Congolese artist is a euphoric exhibition as utopian wonderland featuring his fantasy architectural models and cities — works strong in color, eccentric in shape, loaded with enthralling details and futuristic aura. Mr. Kingelez (1948-2015) was convinced that the world had never seen a vision like his, and this beautifully designed show bears him out.” (NYT-Smith)
212-708-9400, moma.org

Rubin Museum of Art

Chitra Ganesh: The Scorpion Gesture (Through Jan. 7)
“The Brooklyn artist’s new animations ingeniously combine her own drawings and watercolors with historical imagery, peppering the journeys of bodhisattvas with contemporary pop-culture references. Five of these pieces are installed on the museum’s second and third floors amid its collection of Himalayan art, elements of which appear in her psychedelic sequences of spinning mandalas and falling lotus flowers. (Ganesh’s works are activated, as if by magic, when viewers approach.) In “Rainbow Body,” a cave, which also appears in a nearby painting of Mandarava, is filled with people in 3-D glasses, watching as the guru-deity attains enlightenment. “Silhouette in the Graveyard” is projected behind a glass case containing a small sculpture of Maitreya, from late-eighteenth-century Mongolia, for a cleverly dioramalike effect. Prophesied to arrive during an apocalyptic crisis, the bodhisattva is seen here against Ganesh’s montage, which includes footage of global catastrophes and political protests, from the Women’s March to Black Lives Matter.” (

‘THE FUTURE’ (through Jan. 7).
“It flies and flows and creeps. You measure it, spend it, waste it. It’s on your side, or it’s not. We’re talking about time, and so is the Rubin. It is devoting its entire 2018 season and all its spaces to time as a theme, with an accent on the future. There’s a fine historical show devoted to the Second Buddha, Padmasambhava (“lotus born”), subtitled “Master of Time.” Judging by the images and models of him, Padmasambhava was a genial, if mercurial, teacher, alternately baby-faced and beaming or stern in a nice-dad way. Before he moved on from the mortal realm to a mystical mountain palace, he left karmic extensions of himself called “treasure revealers” — also represented here in painting and sculpture — who reach from the past into the present to change the future. This era-leaping dynamic is operative in all parts of the Rubin’s multifloor thematic installation.” (Cotter)

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For other selected Museum and Gallery Special Exhibitions see Posts in right Sidebar dated 12/03 and 12/01.
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