Category Archives: Amy Eiferman

You Pasty Kids Get Off My Stoop

The young people of New York’s East Village have a particular look. Predominantly viewed in their natural habitat of St. Mark’s place, the stereotypical example has pale skin, ripped clothes, and hair that’s been dyed either dark, or a color that doesn’t appear in nature. They often smoke or talk about music, and while subculture tends to gather in the corners of school cafeterias or graveyards in small towns, the punks, Goths and generally “scene” kids of New York have their own haven, specially tailored for them over many decades.

It seems only natural these particular young people would be drawn to the village. The founders of their generally preferred art forms passed through those streets, (and a few musicians probably passed out there, too.) One of the most classic influences for the so-called “spooky kids,” Edgar Allan Poe, made his home in of Greenwich Village. Works like Poe’s Annabelle Lee, the Telltale Heart, and the Raven are still favorites of the fishnet-clad, who might purchase said fishnets right in the Village today.

When it came to music, loud rock and roll could be heard in the Village pretty much from the start. The biggest, brightest, and future best acts in the rock and roll played the Fillmore East, bands and artists who are still frequently loved by the “children” of Village. Some Fillmore acts even chose the venue for live album recordings, among them Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, and the Grateful Dead. Later on when the punk movement gained steam, down on the Bowery lay CBGBs, the place where many of punk’s parents got their start before the mecca closed in 2006.

Anti-establishment has been a common theme in the Village and some of its surrounding areas. Past residents include the likes of Abbie Hoffman and Iggy Pop, and back in the 60s, scores of hippies also flocked to the area to make it their home. Today, many self-identified punks bear a recognizable, rebellious anarchy logo on their jackets and tshirts, as statement clothing is a Village staple in and of itself. A top place to purchase these fashions is Trash and Vaudeville on St. Mark’s, where one can purchase plaid, vinyl and studded clothing to their heart’s content.

Observances have even made their way into Village in a mode that might tempt any pierced, eyelinered teenager. Every October 31st, tens of thousands of costumed marchers can be seen in New York’s Village Halloween Parade, which has its seemingly appropriate start down on 6th Avenue. The massive, PG-13 event also garners countless spectators, who are frequently also costumed.

But for many young Village-goers, the spectacle and mischief of Halloween may come more than once a year.

-Amy Eiferman

Leave a comment

Filed under Amy Eiferman, Neighborhood Focus

Glee’s Broadway Roots

by Amy

Last year, Fox network found a runaway hit with Glee. The show, whose genre is musical, takes place in a high school where both student body and faculty are prone to breaking out in both song and dance. But while it may take place in Ohio, its roots can definitely be traced back to New York City. No doubt inspired by the big-number shows found among the bright lights, pieces of Glee are easily found all over the Manhattan theatre district, home to the world-famous Broadway.

Throughout the show, the cast performs countless popular hits, dating back decades and including every genre from standards to hip-hop. Glee also frequently pays homage to the shows that paved the way for a musical-style primetime program, by utilizing both show tunes as well actors who have appeared in some very notable productions. In similar fashion, while a visitor to New York can take in a pop spectacle at Madison Square Garden and rock out at Irving Plaza, they can also get a fix of some of their favorite Glee-performed show tunes and see some of the same theatres they became famous in.

For the most part, Glee mainly sticks with classics when it comes to choosing ballads and showstoppers. The pilot episode is emblematic of this, having featured music from Chicago and Les Miserable. Chicago first premiered in New York in 1975 at the Richard Rodgers theater on 46th street, and since its revival in 1996 has played at the Shubert Theatre on 44th and the Ambassador on 49th. Overachiever Rachel Berry, played by Lea Michele, performed the Les Miserable favorite “On My Own” the first time she sings on the show. Les Mis played at the Broadhurst Theatre on 44th Street, a theatre that is now almost a hundred years old after opening in 1917.

While Broadway features many revivals of classic shows, it’s also home to newer productions that may someday become classics in their own right. This group is likely to include Wicked, a musical with multiple ties to Glee. After it opened at the Gershwin Theatre on 51st Street in 2003, Wicked has been playing to regularly sold-out audiences. Its original Broadway stars, Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenowith, have both brought their acting and singing chops to the small screen with roles on the FOX program. The music of Wicked has also been represented. In one episode, Kurt, played by Chris Colfer, faced off against Rachel in a battle for dominance over “Defying Gravity.”

Aside from Menzel and Chenowith, several Glee regulars have Broadway experience under their belt. Before playing a small-screen couple on the show, Ms. Lea appeared with Jonathan Groff as onstage lovers in Spring Awakening at the Eugene O’Neill theatre on 49th. Matthew Morrison originated the role of Link Larkin in Hairspray at the Neil Simon Theatre on 52nd street prior to playing Glee club director and Spanish teacher Will Schuester. Keeping it in the fictional family, Will’s father was played Victor Garber, a 4-time Tony-nominated Broadway vet.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic
The cast of Glee

Glee has turned to Broadway for supplying songs for some of their most memorable scenes. As the romance between guidance counselor Emma and Will blossomed, the show utilized “I Could Have Danced All Night,” featured in My Fair Lady. Before Audrey Hepburn bore the cockney accent, the 1959 production of My Fair Lady featured Julie Andrews as Eliza Doolittle, and ran at what was once the Mark Hellinger Theater on 51st Street. ( The theater has since been transformed into the Times Square church; for more historical Broadway facts, check out Uncle Sam’s Theatre District Tour!)

Later on in the initial season, Rachel delivers a veritable showstopper in the form of “Don’t Rain on my Parade” from Funny Girl. Funny Girl’s first Broadway run took place at three different theatres, starting with the Wintergarden (on the actual street Broadway is named for), and moving on to the Majestic on 44th before ending back on Broadway at, well, the Broadway Theatre.

The first season of Glee ended in June, 2010. A few months later, the 2010 Emmy nominations were announced, with Glee receiving 19 nods. In seasons to come, the series is sure to feature even more Broadway numbers, bringing the songs to a new generation, former theatre stars to a new audience, and millions of viewers out of their home and straight into the heart of Manhattan.

Uncle Sam’s Tours

Leave a comment

Filed under Amy Eiferman, NYC Culture

The True Philadelphia

For many, the name “Philadelphia” brings to mind gooey cheesesteaks, devout sports fans, and a sweaty Sylvester Stallone running up a flight of steps. But the truth is, the city’s name should have endless associations. It has all the features and offerings of any great city, not to mention a potential argument that it should be as synonymous with America as Washington D.C itself.

Having served as the former U.S. Capital from 1790-1800, the city is rich with American history. In past centuries, “Philly” institutions saw some of the earliest American trials and Congressional meetings. A city of innovators, it was also home to the nation’s first bank, zoo, and public library.  Inhabitants often greatly impacted the rest of the country, including the likes of Benjamin Franklin and Betsy Ross. Mr. Franklin was an innovator in every field he entered, and Ms. Ross is credited with creating the first American Flag, versions of which are still flown all over the country today.

In present day, centuries-old buildings still stand. Philadelphia City Hall, once the tallest building in the world, has existed since 1901. Independence Hall, completed in 1753, is still visited by thousands. Philadelphia is also boasts one of the most recognizable icons of American history. The legend of the Liberty Bell tells of its fateful cracking the first time it rang back in 1751, and two million people flock to see it each year. Situated on the Delaware river, the Philadelphia skyline is also full of more modern, eye-catching architectural achievements. One Liberty Place with its tall spire and the glossy Comcast Center are two of the most prominent skyscrapers.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Like other East Coast cities, Philadelphia is a culturally diverse one, and this diversity extends into its museums and attractions. The African American Museum in Philadelphia can be found here, along with the National Museum of American Jewish History and the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Major art museums include the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the Rodin Museum, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, site of the most famous steps in film since the Battleship Potemkin. For the sciences, the interactive Franklin Institute is one of the most fun, family-friendly places in the city. Guests are able to enter and explore a giant replica of the human heart, or be turned upside down during a flight simulation ride.

Fans of the city’s athletics possess a voracious loyalty towards their franchises. Each Big Four sport is represented by the Phillies of the MLB, the Eagles of the NFL, the 76ers of the NBA, and the Flyers of the NHL, whose brash style garnered them the nickname “the Broad Street Bullies.” Despite any reputations, though, the most popular nickname to date is the “City of Brotherly Love.” And being full of history, culture, and the arts, Philadelphia’s significance and appeal make it well worthy of a visit.

-Amy Eiferman
unclesamsnewyork.com
unclesamsnewyork.com/tours/60/Trail_to_Independence/

Leave a comment

Filed under Amy Eiferman, History