NYC Events,”Only the Best” (12/12) + Today’s Featured Pub (Greenwich Village)

“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:

Sullivan Fortner Trio
With pianist Sullivan Fortner, bassist Ryan Berg, and drummer Jeremy “Bean” Clemons.
Dizzy’s Club / 7:30PM, +9:30PM, $20-$35
“New Orleans’ Sullivan Fortner is one of the most promising young voices on piano. In 2015, the American Pianist Association named him its Cole Porter Fellow in Jazz, and he has worked extensively with Stefon Harris, Christian Scott, Roy Hargrove, John Scofield, members of the Marsalis family, and in duet with audience and critic favorite Cécile McLorin Salvant. Of Fortner and Salvant’s 2018 duet album, The Window, Variety says, “If there were such a thing as a Grammy for best jazz piano album, The Window should rightfully be up for that, too, because keyboardist Sullivan Fortner is an equal—and equally spectacular—partner through all 17 tracks, regardless of whether he gets cover billing.” Fortner is a regular on Jazz at Lincoln Center’s larger stages, and tonight’s performance will be his anticipated return to Dizzy’s Club as a bandleader. This is top-notch piano jazz, and Fortner is an exceptional talent that any jazz fan should experience in person.”

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7 OTHER TOP NYC EVENTS TODAY (see below for full listing)
>> ESPERANZA SPALDING
>> Kenny Barron Quintet 
>> Ikue Mori
>> Handel’s Messiah
>> ALVIN AILEY AMERICAN DANCE THEATER
>> Suicide of the West:
>> Taste Makers: A Conversation with Paul Freedman
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

ESPERANZA SPALDING
at the Town Hall / 8 p.m., $45+
“Over the past four years, this bassist and vocalist has been working her way down a jazz-rock fusion trail of her own design. For a while, it was unclear where it was going to lead. The release this fall of “12 Little Spells,” a bold recording featuring videos accompanying each song, was the reward for her fans’ patience: It unifies her prolix, philosophical style of writing with a devotion to groove and ear-encompassing orchestration. Spalding and her band will perform music from the album at this show.” (NYT-GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO)

Kenny Barron Quintet  Dec.12-16)
Village Vanguard / 8:30PM, +10:30PM, $35
“Any gig featuring veteran pianist, bandleader and composer Barron is positively guaranteed to reach the heights of suavity and improvisational fire. This year’s excellent Concentric Circles featured Barron’s quintet in top-notch form. Expect no less than professionalism here.” (TONY)

Handel’s Messiah (Dec.11-15)
New York Philharmonic
David Geffen Hall, Lincoln Center / 7:30PM, $34+
“Presented by Gary W. Parr The Messiah of all Messiahs! The New York Philharmonic’s Messiah is the must-see, must-hear holiday event. Every bar of Handel’s greatest masterpiece — whether upon first encounter or at a yearly ritual — speaks to us with passion, beauty, spirituality, and joy. Dazzling solos, instrumental fireworks, and the most glorious choral writing of all time never fail to thrill.”

Ikue Mori (Dec.11-15)
at the Stone, 55 W. 13th St. / 8:30PM, $20
“It’s hard to imagine New York’s experimental music scene—with its fertile mashup of avant rock, jazz, and new music—without the remarkable contributions of the percussionist and electronics visionary Ikue Mori. This residency finds her joining forces with her fellow sonic adventurers Mary Halvorson and Satoko Fujii as well as the luminaries John Zorn and Craig Taborn.” (Steve Futterman, NewYorker)

ALVIN AILEY AMERICAN DANCE THEATER (through Dec. 30).
at New York City Center / 7:30PM, $30+
“In 1958, a small group of African-American dancers performed at the 92Y, and now, six decades later, that company is one of the largest and most popular modern dance troupes in the country. Still to come this season are works by Ronald K. Brown, Jessica Lang and a new two-act creation by the hip-hop choreographer Rennie Harris called “Lazarus,” inspired by Ailey’s life.” (NYT-Brian Schaefer)
    See a Sugar Plum-free ballet
“Skip The Nutcracker and its derivatives and catch the premiere weekend of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s Lazarus, instead. Hip-hop master Rennie Harris is the brains behind this two-act ballet, which addresses the racial inequality Ailey faced when he founded his dance company in 1958 — inequality that continues to plague America 60 years later.” (Thrillist)

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

Suicide of the West: How the Rebirth of Nationalism, Populism, and Identity Politics Is Destroying American Democracy
Sheen Center for Thought & Culture, 18 Bleecker St./ 7PM, $10
“With his trademark blend of political history, social science, economics, and pop culture, two-time New York Times bestselling author, syndicated columnist, National Review senior editor Jonah Goldberg makes the timely case that America and other democracies are in peril as they lose the will to defend the values and institutions that sustain freedom and prosperity.

Moderated by Kathryn Jean Lopez. Kathryn is a senior fellow at the National Review Institute and an editor-at-large of National Review.”

Elsewhere, but this sure looks worth the detour:

Taste Makers: A Conversation with Paul Freedman and Mayukh Sen
Museum of Food and Drink, 62 Bayard St., Williamsburg, Brooklyn / 6:30PM, $30
“Between Michelin stars, the World’s Best and America’s Hottest lists, and the more populist restaurant-rating apps, there is no shortage of ranking systems that dictate the best and most popular restaurants across the world. Yet what defines best, who gets left out, and why do we care so much?

Since its publication in 2016, Paul Freedman’s The 10 Restaurants That Changed America has shifted the conversation, going beyond the typical ranking system and asking: what makes a restaurant influential? In the new paperback edition, which features an afterword on the ten restaurants changing America now, Freedman continues to interrogate which establishments are changing how we eat out.

Join Paul Freedman and Mayukh Sen in conversation as they discuss Freedman’s process in deciding The 10 Restaurants That Changed America (both then and now), the difference between quality and influence, how you can measure influence, and why it matters.

A reception and book signing will follow featuring dishes from two of the 10 restaurants.”

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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, expanding every day, 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 NYC Events – Music Venues:
So much fine live music every night in this town. These are my favorite non jazz music venues on Manhattan’s WestSide. Hit the Hot Link and check out who’s playing tonight:

City Winery – 155 Varick St., citywinery.com, 212-608-0555
Joe’s Pub @ Public Theater – 425 Lafayette St., joespub.com, 212-967-7555
Beacon Theatre – 2124 Broadway @ 74th St., beacontheatre.com, 212-465-6500
Town Hall – 123 W43rd St. (btw 6/7), thetownhall.org, 212-997-6661
Le Poisson Rouge – 158 Bleecker St., lepoissonrouge.com, 212-505-3474
Sony Hall – 235 W 46th St. (btw 7/8), sonyhall.com, 212-997-5123
and one more, not exactly WestSide:
Bowery Ballroom – 6 Delancey St. boweryballroom.com

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

Special Mention:
Caffe Vivaldi – 32 Jones St. nr Bleecker St. caffevivaldi.com, 212-691-7538
a classic, old jazz club in the Village, Caffe V often surprises with a wonderfully eclectic lineup. It’s my favorite spot for an evening of listening discovery and enjoyment.

Alas, Caffe V is no more, another victim of a rapacious NYC landlord. Owner Ishrat fought the good fight and Caffe V will be sorely missed.

See Below.
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NYCity Vacation Travel Guide Video (Expedia):
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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.

CAFFE VIVALDI HAS CLOSED,  JUNE 23 WAS THE FINAL NIGHT. VERY SAD.
I HAVE LEFT THIS REVIEW ON MY SITE AS A KIND OF MEMORIAL.
As reported in the “Gothamist”:
“Caffe Vivaldi, one of the last bohemian bastions of the West Village, is set to close this weekend. During its 35 years on Jones Street, the casual cafe won the hearts of locals and celebs alike, including Oscar Isaac, Bette Midler, and Al Pacino.

Despite that friendly communal atmosphere, the owners ultimately struggled to survive under their notorious vulture landlord Steve Croman, who they say waged a harassment campaign against the restaurant, and eventually tripled their rent.”

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:

Fish – 280 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”
No reservations needed.
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NYCity is the most diverse and interesting place to find a meal anywhere in the world. With more than 24,000 eating establishments you might welcome some advice.

◊ 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 SPRING 2019).
◊ Order before MAY 31, 2019 and receive a bonus – 27 of my favorite casual dining places with free Wi-Fi.

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