New York City has a robust history of bombastic building and development proposals that, for better or worse, are never realized. Today, the LowLine and the +Pool are some of the more fantastical projects we’re pulling for. But in the past century, there have been proposals for a web of moving sidewalks in Mahattan, or Buckminster Fuller’s 100-story, futuristic Harlem housing development resembling Utopian nuclear towers, and his Truman-esque dome over the entire city, to name a few. Most didn’t happen either for wont of public approval, City planning capacity, or Kickstarter. Beyond those, a fair number of other relatively outlandish projects have been suggested specifically for the City’s greatest park.
"If the various persons who have sought to invade Central Park in the last sixty years, for projects in themselves often worthy, oftener grotesque, and frequently purely commercial, had had their way, there would now be nothing left of the park except a few walks and drives, and a lake on which steamboats and full-rigged ships would be plying." -If “Improvement” Plans had gobbled Central Park, New York Times, 1918
These “grotesque” developments, when compiled on a single hypothetical map (linked above), make this massive natural haven look like Coney Island. Steamboats on the lake, public baths, circus tents, Grant’s Tomb. Some don’t sound as absolutely absurd in the modern era - a “huge” outdoor theater seating up to 100,000 (ahem, SummerStage?), a sports stadium at the reservoir, a speedway ringing the park, a wading pool (that would’ve been neat!), a marionette theater (heck, they went ahead and built a ZOO)… But some retain their audacity: Tons of churches, straightening all the park’s walking paths into a “checkerboard,” a shopping mall (before there were shopping malls in America, this is referred to in the flabbergasted editorial article as a “merchandise exhibition structure”), an exclusive graveyard for New Yorkers of note… One Robert B. Roosevelt even proposed in 1904 that the entire park be cut up into building lots. Granted, F. Law Olmestead’s Gotham opus was a revolutionary idea for New York City, but it seems B’roosevelt didn’t seem to comprehend the concept of a park.
Care to appreciate all the undeveloped majesty of Central Park’s wilds - and some of its truly strange man-made landmarks - on a bike tour. BYO picnic, ready set go! At least, that’s what we suggest for you and your friends, on a day when the temperature dips under 90… See you there!
For the next three weeks, we’ll be featuring Experiences from our friends at Destination Backcountry. Catskills day hikes, waterfall ogling, berry picking expeditions - even, coming next Weds., a woodsy yoga retreat. And in that spirit of escaping the City and COMMUNING WITH THE GREAT OUTDOORS, we’ve dug up some great survivalist recipes for you. Things you can cook up with just a few simple ingredients, some tinfoil, and the coals in your campsite firepit. Or, for more domesticated outdoor dining, in foil on a grill. Or, to go all faux-outdoorsy on your lunch hour, maybe on a Foreman grill, but really, no promises about that one.
APPETIZER: Hot Coals Corn on the Cob
Place the corn on a large sheet of foil and spread with butter. Top with the seasonings and Parmesan cheese, and the ice cubes. Wrap it all up into a foil tent pack. Cook on hot coals for 20 minutes.
MAIN COURSE: Veggie-Hamburger Pile
Mix all that stuff together and place in the center of a sheet of foil. Wrap it up and cook that baby on some hot coals for about 25 minutes. Et voila.
DESSERT: Orange-Baby Muffins
Prep your muffin mix as instructed. Cut off the top quarter of each orange - they’re going to be your muffin-sheet replacement. Scoop out all the orange fruit and pulp, but don’t break through the rind. Next is the fun part: Pour the muffin mix into the oranges. Wrap the oranges in foil, and crimp the foil around the hole at the top of the orange, but leave that open - like a muffin baking sheet! Stand the oranges upright and nestle them into the hot coals to cook for 10 to 15 minutes. Ta-da! Most survival-skillsy baking endeavor ever!
BREAKFAST THE NEXT A.M.: Sausage Egg Brekkie
Crimp up the sides of a flat sheet of foil so the eggs don’t escape. First, lay down that hash brown patty, then pour the eggs on top of that. Next, place the sausage patties on top. Add your spices and condiments and wrap up in a tent pack - means a foil wrap that’s not too tight. The little extra room inside helps with steaming the food. Cook on hot coals for 15 minutes, then add the cheese at the grand finale.
Recipes from ArtofManliness.com where they also show you the best foil-folding techniques for foil cooking packets.
So, on Destination Backcountry’s day hikes, they cook FOR you, but check out their waterfall hikes, dog-friendly expeditions, and singles summit climbs here, and stay tuned for more.
You get up and go running around your neighborhood in the morning. Good for you! That’s healthy! We bet it makes you feel great! But some people need to mix it up a little. By, say, setting goals, or training for a race (like a 5K). And some people need to mix it up even more than that. In the wacky world of themed 5K races, people run on ice. People run in the nude. They run wearing Santa costumes + Speedos. They run while eating Krispy Kreme donuts, or through vineyards before stomping on wine grapes at the finish line. People even run underwater (HydroWorx Underwater Marathon in Hershey, PA, FYI) which is supposed to be pretty cool because water decreases your body weight by 80% … Really, guys, there’s a race for everyone (everyone who likes running). Here’s our short list of America’s oddest / best 5K races. (Find our favorite listed last.)
RUN WHILE BEING PURSUED BY FLESH-EATING ZOMBIES
"Run For Your Lives" is the original zombie-infested 5K obstacle course race. "Anyone can run. But everything changes when you’re running for your life." Sign on here to test your speed, endurance, and post-apocalyptic escape skills while being chased by a gory hoard of the undead through an obstacle course.
RUN (AND CRAWL) THROUGH BOGS OF MUD
Themed 5Ks hinging on obstacles and dirt have become all the rage, but Fargo, North Dakota’s Filthy 5K takes the dirt obstacle to a new extreme. This 5K sports a course of mud and water, featuring areas where runners have to get literally down and dirty while they crawl through giant mud bogs. If you don’t think it sounds like a feat of human will, image-search it. The inspiring meets the grotesque.
RUN FOR OBESITY (NOT A CHARITY - ACTUALLY A RUN FOR “FAT” PEOPLE)
Baton Rouge’s “Fat Boy 5K” is all about numbers. Race organizers group runners into three divisions based on weight: Clydesdale, for runners between 200 and 230 pounds, Super Clydesdale, for runners between 231 and 260 pounds, and Ultra Clydesdale, over 260 pounds. You have the option of competing as a team, but members’ combined weight must be at least 650 pounds. This sounds like a great way to promote getting in shape, for those runners that want to shed some of those pounds, until we read that the event provides refreshments including doughnuts, chocolate milk, beer, and coke.
RUN FASTER THAN TIME IN A METAPHYSICALLY CONCEPTUAL 5K
In Woodstock, Georgia, the “Impossible 5K” is pretty straightforward in practice: Participants run a five-kilometer race. The catch, however, is that this night race commences at 1:50 a.m.on the night of Fall’s Daylight Savings - a finisher of the Impossible 5K technically finishes at an earlier time than their start. If you come in at a time 25:00 or under, you’ll complete this race by1:15 a.m. - fast finishing times look great on a runner’s résumé but a “negative” finishing time? Now that’s impressive.
A RACE AGAINST THE FIFTH SYMPHONY
Instead of competing against each other, participants in the Beat Beethoven 5K race against Beethoven’s famous Fifth. The goal is to finish before the last note of the 32-minute symphony. In some locations, it’s performed on the sidelines by a live orchestra for extra motivation.
THE MOST COLORFUL 5K OF ALL TIME
And COMING SOON TO NYC: Color Me Rad isn’t about who can run the fastest. Is about who crossesthe finishline inthe most vibrant smattering of rainbow colors during this 5K unique twist of blasting runners with harmless cornstarch “color bombs.” And having a blast. All interested parties, please note!: Experiences is the easiest way to register a whole team.
Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done
She gave her father forty-one.
Really, Lizzie Borden’s father and step-mom only received a total of about twenty-nine whacks between the two of them. And despite Lizzie’s dizzyingly inconsistent testimonies, a weak defensive argument otherwise, and the fact that she’d attempted (and apparently failed) to purchase poison from her friendly neighborhood alchemist the week before the 1892 double-slaughter, she was found innocent. But she was shy and cute! She went to church! It was the 1890s! A nice young lady like that wouldn’t axe her parents, even if her father was writing a new will. Right? So we guess that means this Massachusetts murder is technically unsolved…
While Miss Borden, the Zodiac Killer, Elizabeth Short aka The Black Dahlia, and the Boy in the Box, are all depressingly but shamelessly fascinating, there are — we hate to say it — TONS more riveting unsolved murder mysteries to review. It’s tough to choose just a few, so we’ll narrow it down to our neighborhood. Please “enjoy” these unsolved murders from good old New York State. (Why so creepy? Forgive us - This interactive murder mystery theater experience has our interest piqued.)
1. The Alphabet murders took place in Rochester in the early 1970s, where three young girls were raped and strangled. Interesting edge on this horrific case: Each of the girls’ first and last names started with the same letter (Carmen Colon, Wanda Walkowicz, Michelle Maenza), and each body was found in a town that contributed to the alliteration: Colon in Churchville, Walkowicz in Webster and Maenza in Macedon. GroupMe’s marketing manager Steve Spillman (who once lived in Switzerland for six months) must be shaking in his boots right now.
2. Mary Cecilia Rogers (c. 1820-1841) posthumously became known as the “Beautiful Cigar Girl.” She took up work in an NYC cigar shop at 17, after her father died in a steamboat explosion. There, she became terribly popular - her looks even charmed the likes of Washington Irving. But oen fateful day, her body was pulled from the Hudson River while a crowd of bystanders watched. The descriptions reported are gruesome. Her murder was sensationalized and largely speculated about. Her despondent fiancé Daniel Payne drank himself to death in Hoboken. Some bloody clothing was found in a nearby thicket - more fodder for speculation - but no headway on pinning a killer was made. The story was so tangled in mystery, it came to inspire Edgar Allan Poe’s detective story “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt.” (Note: Mary “Beautiful Cigar Girl” Rogers is not to be confused with Mary Mabel Rogers (1883 - 1905), the last woman legally executed by Vermont. This Mary was hanged for the 1902 murder of her husband, Marcus. Basically, don’t name your kid Mary Rogers.)
3. 19-year-old Rashawn Brazell's horrific and mysterious death has gone down in (recent!) New York State history. He left his home in Bushwick at 7:30am on Valentine’s Day morning 2005, took the subway from Gates Ave. to Bed-Stuy with a man authorities have never been able to identify, and later, his body was found later on the subway tracks… in multiple trash bags. Eek. Poor Rashawn, poor Brazells, and come on NYPD - we’ve seen Law & Order! Do some of those cool tricks and find that guy!
If you’re reading this sentence, we’re willing to bet The Ryan Case (1873) and The Lombardi Case (1975) are right up your dark, spookly, Lower East Side ally of unsolved murder mysteries too. Check ‘em out.
See that eyesore on the left? That’s ol’ Building 877, the most obtrusive, non-historic building on Governors Island. It towers over the rest of the islands’s post-Coast Guard ruins, at 115 feet (11 stories) tall, but don’t expect to see it looming after this weekend. On Sunday morning, it will be obliterated. And not without fanfare.
The Trust for Governors Island, street name “The Trust,” is ready and rearing to implode 877, with more than 200 pounds of dynamite, to make way for part of the island’s new 33-acre park(including a HAMMOCK GROVE. A GROVE OF HAMMOCKS, PEOPLE). According to lots of blogs, this is the first (official) implosion in NYC over a decade. We feel like we’ve seen a lot of things implode over the past ten years, but we guess they mean specifically in the city planning and architecture sense.
The soon to be deceased Building 877, formerly known as the Cunningham Apartments, was constructed in 1968, in all its late-60s, concrete, institutional glory. It housed 165 duplex apartments for members of the Coast Guard and their families when Governors Island was a Coast Guard base. Apparently, it isn’t up to snuff in terms of local nor state building codes, and further, “was constructed with unacceptable levels of out of date materials.” (But don’t worry - they’re emptying it of all those before they blow it up.) It’s been abandoned since 1996, crumbling into disrepair. And we all know what happens to code-violating, abandoned, decrepit old buildings on valuable property: KAPOW.
It’s really no great loss though. Two obvious good things will come of this implosion.
Cheesiest German Vocab Lesson Ever
We bet you didn’t even REALIZE there is a whole world of German cheeses out there. At least not beyond Muenster… WHICH, by the WAY, while it is named after a German city, is from the United States (not to be confused with the French variety, Munster). We totally love cheese more than most things — like, it may be in our top ten favorite THINGS of all time, along with 75° weather, waterfalls and chipwiches — but we recently discovered the German selection thanks to our wine & cheese pairing Experience at Landbrot, the West Village’s preeminent German café and bakery…
Handkäse (translation, hand cheese – yum!): Small, translucent, yellow, and pungent, hand cheese takes its name from the traditional way of producing it: forming it with one’s own hands. High in carb content, low in fat, it’s the choice cheese of Frankfurt and Darmstadt body builders and weightlifters — but for those of us who dine for pleasure, it’s best paired with Apfelwein.
Cambozola (aka “blue brie): French soft-ripened triple cream cheese meets Italian Gorgonzola (hence that its name is a beautifully poetic portmanteau of Camembert and Gorgonzola). Invented in Germany circa 1900, it’s made from the same blue Penicillium roqueforti mold used to make Gorgonzola, Roquefort, and Stilton. Roqueforti mold. MmmMMmmm.
Milbenkäse: Saxony-Anhalt’s most innovative and creepy cheese export, Milbenkäse is also known as Spinnenkäse (“spider cheese”). Made from quark, it’s produced by the action of cheese mites — end result, a unique product with a “distinctive zesty aftertaste.” It’s production dates back to the middle ages. In modern times though, due to the fact that it contains living animals (if you consider mites animals), it’s in a bit of a legal gray area. If you want to know more about cheese mites, read this intense Wikipedia article. If you want to try and enjoy Milbenkäse at some point, don’t read it.
Harzer: Hailing from the Harz mountains of Braunschweig, this sour milk cheese is made from low fat curd cheese (less than 1% fat), and flavored with caraway. Look for it in a cylindrical package.
Butterkäse (translation, butter cheese): Semi-soft, cow’s milk cheese, all the rage in Germanic Europe, comes conveniently shaped like a loaf. An ace choice for grilled cheese or mac & cheese.
Weisslacker: Beer cheese! AKA bierkäse, this cheese originated in Germany but its production has spread to various other cheese- AND beer-loving locales, i.e. Wisconsin, and is a very popular menu item in the nation with the world’s number one rank in beer consumption: The Czech Republic.
Obatzda: This Bavarian delicacy is prepared by mixing two thirds aged, soft cheese (i.e. Camembert) and one third butter. Seasoned with paprika, beer, horseradish, cloves and other optional add-ons, it’s a mouth-pleaser (and an artery-killer).
Hit up Landbrot to give some of these a try, IRL.
We’re excited to welcome our friends at Recoup to the Experiences roster! And to kick off our collaboration with a splash, Recoup is offering a pretty fantastic tropical getaway Experience for you and your friends at a Honduran eco-resort called Palmetto Bay Plantation. And after pouring over that and ogling every last hot tropical photo, we found ourselves seriously dwelling on their dolphin-swimming excursions. They even have a couple dolphins on staff at the resort just to make sure your stay is as freaking unstoppably adorable as possible. Plus, the whole, coral reef-ringed coast is lined with them, bouncing around and squeaking and jumping out of the water doing that dolphin smile thing… So, to whet your appetite for the tropics, and give your friends some additional reasons to go in on a private beachside villa - as if they should need any persuading (it’s affordable and everything!) - here are several fun facts about dolphins that you can ruminate on while you get ready to go become BFF with them.
We’re making it really easy for you to swim with dolphins. Check it out. If you go, let us know. Totally jealous already!!
OH BY THE WAY, we can’t not mention that taking this trip with Recoup means supporting a good cause. Part of the proceeds from your purchase go to CAFRED, which helps provide sustainable access to quality education in rural areas of Central America through the construction of well-designed schools. WIN.
Experiences Guide to Getting Down, King of Pop style:
The late great Michael Jackson debuted his most outrageously awesome dance move, “The Moonwalk,” in 1983, but guess what? It was old news until he put his bad, bad spin on it. Formerly known as “the back-slide,” plenty of folks had tried their hand (feet) at back-sliding on the dance floor pre-MJ. Guys, if they could rock it, you can rock it. Here’s how to get started.
First, this is how NOT to do the Moonwalk.
Second, observe the pros. A few are coming to NYC to moonwalk live on May 30th, FYI. Now, let’s get to it.
What you’ll need
Step 1. Get in the zone:
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Now, place your right foot back slightly farther than your left, so your right toes line up with your left arch.
Step 2. Pop that foot:
Shift your weight to the ball of your back foot, (in this case, the right) and pop the heel of said foot off the floor.
Step 3. Start sliding:
With your weight still on the ball of your raised foot, slide your left foot, heel flat to the ground, backwards “into” the floor so that your foot finishes almost behind the right leg. The heel of the non-moving foot stays in the air.
Step 4. Snap and switch:
Snap the heel of your left foot up off the floor and at the exact same time, snap the heel of your left foot down so that foot is flat. You’re in the reverse position in which you started.
Step 5. Repeat!
Now, just like we did before, slide your flat foot backwards, remembering to keep your raised foot fixed.
LET US KNOW HOW IT GOES. Post a video or a Vine of you Moonwalking on our Facebook wall and get a free spot to the "Who’s Bad" Michael Jackson tribute at B.B. King’s. Or, if you haven’t quite got your moves down yet, that’s a great opportunity to observe the pros.
Painting by Albrecht Durer (c. 1495)
Subject Line: David Foster Wallace reference
Experiences Digest on Homarus Americanus
The American Lobster is, far and away, our favorite crustacean. In part, of course, for lobster rolls. But in even bigger part because they are insanely strange, alien-like creatures with shockingly bizarre reproductive habits who have the ability to live forever. See below for some lobster knowledge.
THE LOBSTER’S DARK PAST
Once upon a time in America, lobsters were so plentiful that Native Americans used them as agricultural fertilizer and fishing bait. In colonial times, lobster dinners were relegated to poor children, prisoners, and indentured servants. Finally, people took a stand, and a law was passed that dictated it was “abuse” to force people to eat lobster more than three meals per week. But SOMEHOW, with the best PR campaign of any anthropod around, they revamped their negative reputation and were all the rage by the time World War II rolled around. Today, American lobstermen harvest tens of millions of pounds per year.
LOBSTERS: THE NUMBERS
300 million: Dollar worth of annual Maine lobster industry, where lobster fishermen catch tens of millions of pounds of lobster every year
10+: Number of tons of lobster meat was served at Red’s Eats in Wiscasset — Maine’s most famous lobster shack — just between mid-April and mid-October 2010 alone.
44: Weight in pounds of the largest lobster ever recorded — off the Nova Scotia coast, approximately 100 years old.
Another 44: Number of lobsters consumed by a very impressive woman named Sonya Thomas inside of 12 minutes during an eating contest in Kennebunkport in 2005
273: Record number of miles that a tagged lobster has ever traveled — making his way from the Gulf of Maine to Nantucket
15: The day in June on which National Lobster Day is celebrated
3: The total number of Maine-style lobsters you and a friend will be served on board a sailboat in the New York Harbor if you rock the Manhattan By Sail lobster dinner night on May 21st
LOBSTERS ARE IMMORTAL
It takes the average lobster five to seven years to reach the lobster industry’s legal size. In that time, it will tear off its own exoskeleton (which includes the lining of its stomach) between 25 and 27 times to continue growing.
They have “negligible senescence” which means their reproductive capability and organ function don’t diminish with age. Basically, they’re the lobster equivalent of immortal, and under controlled conditions, it’s said they could live virtually indefinitely. Especially 30 miles off the coast of Maine where lobstermen won’t necessarily trap them, lobster experts speculate you’d find specimens in the 120-years-old age range.
Despite the fact they have more than 20,000 eyes to sense light, they have terrible vision. They navigate by smell and listen with their legs. Their “brains” are in their throats, their teeth are in their stomachs. Their claws are disposable — they can “throw a claw” and grow a new one at will. They tend toward cannibalism in tight quarters, hence those bands around their claws at the supermarket fish counter.
If after reading all this, you still have a taste for lobster meat, check out the Manhattan By Sail Experience for a “lobster sail” around New York Harbor on May 21.
LOBSTERS HAVE A WEIRD SEX LIFE
Apparently they flirt with each other by urinating in each other’s faces and dance during courtship. Our sources indicate they “make love in the missionary position.” We actually did not make that up.
A female is a “hen”. A male is “cock”, a little guy is a “chicken”, a “pistol” has no claws, and a “cull” has just one.
Haitian Creole: woma
As we mention in this week’s Bike Central Park Experience, the place is insane. It’s vast - 843 acres, 47 miles of paths - and full of hidden surprises. Here’s our Central Park Greatest Hits List for next time you spend an hour (or a day) there:
A 69-foot-tall, 180-ton, red granite obelisk commissioned by an Egyptian pharaoh in 1500 B.C. There’s one in Paris and one in London as well. How the HECK did that get to Central Park? Learn more.
Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre
79th St. and West Drive
Built of native pine and cedar in Sweden in the late 1800s, dismantled, packed in crates, and shipped trans-Atlantic, this model schoolhouse was then re-erected by Swedish craftsmen and staffed by Swedish teachers. Learn more.
79th Street, Mid-Park
Before the National Weather Service tricked it out with meteorological equipment, sort of whimsical miniature castle Belvedere was a Victorian folly. Co-designer of Central Park Calvert Vaux devised it in 1869 as a lookout to what’s now the Great Lawn to the north and the Ramble to the south. Learn more.
East Drive and 67th St.
An 85-year-old statue tribute to Alaska’s medicine-toting hero dog. Learn more
The Delacorte Music Clock
Near the entrance of the Children’s Zoo
If you didn’t already think Central Park was a magical fairytale land, get thee to this clock, where two brass monkeys, a hippo, a bear, a elephant, a goat and a kangaroo circle and spin to classic children’s songs like “Three Blind Mice” every thirty minutes. Learn more