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, and there are - we hate to say - TONS of riveting unsolved murder mysteries to review here. How to choose? We’ll keep it to a couple here in New York. (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
Toast to our southern neighbors’ victory at the Battle of Puebla — with some especially Mexican cocktails
If you’re in Los Angeles, San Jose, San Francisco, San Antonio, Sacramento, Phoenix, Albuquerque, Denver, El Paso (not to mention Mexico), you’ll have a rocking Cinco de Mayo right in the middle of your city. Grab a margarita and go partake. But if you’re in a city with less built-in Cinco de Mayo fanfare, let us help you DIY it. (Below you’ll find three ways to celebrate our love of tequila — and for future reference, here’s a fourth!)
Cinco de Mayo — a.k.a. the Fifth of May — is a holiday born of the Franco-Mexican War (1861-1867). We have to admit, the USA has enough wars to keep track of already without getting too concerned with conflicts in which we weren’t directly involved, but we still keep track of the Franco-Mexican War — specifically its 1862 Battle of Puebla — when we celebrate Cinco De Mayo, the commemoration of Mexico’s victory. While this is a relatively minor holiday in Mexico, the United States has gradually spun it into a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage, particularly in places with large Mexican-American communities. In other words, Numero Uno excuse every spring to go all out with the tacos and margaritas — and make a whole day of it. Beloved Cinco de Mayo traditions may include mariachi bands, parades, festivals and the like. Experiences recommends celebrating with a toast — of a particularly festive cocktail, like one of the especially Mexican selections below:
2 parts Milagro Reposado Tequila
3/4 parts Milagro Agave Nectar
1 part Fresh Lime Juice
4 Pineapple Chunks
2 Basil Leaves
Muddle pineapple and basil leaves in a Boston shaker glass. Add remaining ingredients and shake vigorously with ice. Strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice and garnish with pineapple and basil.
The Desert Shrub
1 oz. reposado tequila
1/2 oz. grapefruit syrup
In a flute, combine 1 ounce reposado tequila and 1/2 ounce grapefruit syrup. Top with chilled prosecco and, if desired, garnish with candied grapefruit segments.
2 oz. tequila
1 1/2 oz. lime juice
1 oz. simple syrup
1/2 oz. green chile juice
In a cocktail shaker, combine 2 ounces tequila, 1 1/2 ounces lime juice, 1 ounce simple syrup, and 1/2 ounce green chile juice. Shake with ice and strain into a margarita glass rimmed with lime juice and salt. Garnish with a lime wedge.
If this sounds like your favorite fare all year round, check out our tacos and tequila at Teqa! Olé!
Everything You Need to Know about America’s Favorite Japanese Pastime
Karaoke (カラオケ) is a compound of “karappo” (empty) and “okesutura” (orchestra). Rumor has it, this wonderful Japanese invention first originated at a snack bar in Kobe City, Japan. According to legend, a guitarist was unable to turn up for a bar gig due to illness, so the rather innovative bar proprietor prepared tapes of accompaniment recordings on the fly, and invited vocalists to sing along to the tapes. It was since commercialized and became popular throughout Japan, spreading to Korea and China, Europe, and as we well know here in New York, the U.S. of A.
Now, every seasoned karaoke participant has their personal go-to. (In Japan, we like to call that a jūhachiban). For some close personal friends of the Experiences team, that particular number happens to be the Rolling Stones’ “Beast of Burden,” or the Fugees “Killing Me Softly,” or Peggy Lee’s “Fever.” Below those among us who aren’t as seasoned at this popular New York bar sport, 1. We have something for the ladies: Check out this girls-only karaoke event coming up at Radio Star, and 2. See below for some karaoke classics. Who knows — you could find your next jūhachiban.
Crowd-pleasing everybody-joins-in numbers:
The Turtles: “Happy Together”
Bon Jovi: “Livin’ On A Prayer”
Wham: “Wake Me Up Before you Go-Go”
Elton John: “Tiny Dancer”
Jackson Five: “ABC”
Journey: “Don’t Stop Believing”
Lynyrd Skynyrd: “Sweet Home Alabama”
Neil Diamond: “Sweet Caroline”
The Eagles: “Hotel California”
Ladies night out:
Cyndi Lauper: “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”
The Weathergirls “It’s Raining Men”
Lesley Gore: “You Don’t Own Me”
Aretha Franklin: “Respect”
Dusty Springfield: “Son of a Preacher Man”
Unleash your inner rapper:
Alicia Keys + Jay-Z: “Empire State of Mind”
Vanilla Ice: “Ice Ice Baby”
Don’t be afraid to get awkward:
Marvin Gaye: “Sexual Healing”
The Divinyls: “I Touch Myself”
You can’t sing, but it’s cool:
Britney Spears: “Hit Me Baby One More Time”
Right Said Fred: “I’m Too Sexy”
Guns n’ Roses: “Sweet Child of Mine”
You are secretly AMAZING at this and FINALLY, THIS is your MOMENT:
Ladies – Bonnie Tyler: “Total Eclipse of the Heart”
Ladies – Roxette: “Must Have Been Love”
Guys – Poison: “Every Rose Has its Thorn”
Guys – Aerosmith: “Crazy”
You’re trying to annoy everyone in the room:
One Direction: “Beautiful”
Celine Dion: “My Heart Will Go On”
Hanson: “Mmm Bop”
Holler at us on Facebook and nominate your own!
Happy April 15!
Here’s your Tax Day survival pack — cowboy songs, cartoons, history, trivia, quotes from cultural and past, and more to commemorate Tax Day 2013.
FESTIVE TAX DAY MEDIA:
I never felt so proud before
To be right there with the millions more
Who paid their income tax today
I’m squared up with the U.S.A.
–Irving Berlin from the hit song “I Paid My Income Tax Today”
GENE AUTRY COVERS IT AWESOMELY:
This song was one of the ways in which the government used pop culture to inform people about taxes, along with singer Danny Kaye working numbers about tax-paying into his club appearances, and Donald Duck visiting Washington D.C. and learning about taxes in the thoroughly entertaining 1942 Disney animated short, “The New Spirit.” (In case you forgot how awesome Donald Duck’s voice is, highly recommended reminder. —> )
AMERICAN INCOME TAX MINI-HISTORY:
The United States’ first income tax law came about in 1862. After the Civil War, if you earned between $600 to $10,000, you’d pay a yearly tax rate of 3%. Those that made more were taxed more. During the first World War, tax rates were pushed to 77% where they stayed until the late 1920s. After World War II, same deal, because WARS ARE EXPENSIVE. They peaked at 94% and stayed pretty astronomical for twenty years after the war. Today, the tax rate is around 40%.
• There are at least 480 different tax forms, each with many pages of instructions. The “easiest” form, the 1040E, has 33 pages in instructions in fine print.
• The tax law has grown from 11,400 words in 1913, to over 7 million words today. (For some perspective, the Gettysburg address is 269 words, the Declaration of Independence is 1,337 words, and the Bible is 773,000 words.)
• The IRS sends out 8 billion pages of forms and instructions each year. Laid end to end, they would stretch 28 times around the earth.
• And on that note, nearly 300,000 trees are cut down yearly to produce the paper for all the IRS forms and instructions.
• American taxpayers spend $200 billion and 5.4 billion hours working to comply with federal taxes each year.
• The IRS employs 114,000 people — twice as many as the CIA and five times the FBI.
But the IRS’s trivia website reminds us:
• The average tax refund amount in 2011 was $2,883!
• The ancient Greeks revered the tax profession as the most noble man in society.
• The origin of the word “tariff” (a direct tax on imported and exported goods) is derived from the English word tar, which is a thick, sticky liquid. (GTK!)
Taxes! Hahaha! Taxes! Beautiful, lovely taxes! Ah ha! Ah ha! –Prince John (the lion in Disney’s classic animated feature Robin Hood)
The taxpayer: that’s someone who works for the federal government, but doesn’t have to take a civil service examination. –Ronald Reagan
The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin. –Mark Twain
I like to pay taxes. With them, I buy civilization. —Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.
[On filing for tax returns] This is too difficult for a mathematician. It takes a philosopher. –Albert Einstein
Certainty? In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST:
Don’t forget: You + your friends can rock our Tax Day promo code for $5 any Experience.