Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Resolution: A Splash of Hedonism

I grew up visiting the Plaza Hotel on every one of my trips to NYC, bought more Eloise paraphernalia in the erstwhile Plaza gift shop than I'd like to admit, and celebrated two birthdays with high tea in the Palm Court.

A few days ago I visited the Plaza for the first time in nearly two years and was so distraught to see only the remnants of its former glory. The many floors of the historic hotel were recently gut-renovated and converted into apartments, while the first floor was turned into a gallery of retail shops. The only upside to this change is the month-old Eloise shop.

Now that the location of some of my best birthday memories consists of only a few spare tables and chairs, I've decided I need to find another place to enjoy my tea in NYC.
There are many New Year's Resolutions I'd like to make, especially because 2010 marks my 25th year (and because I'll be wearing a bikini on a beach in a few weeks' time), but since I'm unlikely to KEEP many of them, I'm making one resolution I believe I CAN keep:
Sample every high tea in Manhattan.

I have many places in mind, and will blog about them when I go. If you have any recommendations, I am ALWAYS happy to hear them!

So often our New Year's Resolutions are ascetic and rigid, and it's no wonder we dread them and often can't maintain them. Most of us would do well to have a little more fun in our lives. So in general, I resolve to be more of a hedonist this year:

-Attend the ballet more often
-Read more books
-Travel as much as I am able
-Sleep a little later
-Curl my hair if I feel like it
-Drink a little more champagne
-Keep taking long walks around my beloved NYC

And I hope you do too.
Best wishes for 2010!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Visions of Dew Drop Fairies Danced in My Head

(Reichlen as Sugar Plum Fairy in a past season)

Last week the Bunny's mother treated me to a very special NYC experience: a performance of George Balanchine's "Nutcracker" at the City Ballet.
She couldn't have given me a more perfect gift; ballet is one of the true loves of my life.
As soon as we selected our attendance date, I compulsively checked the dancer casting on NYCB's website until it was posted. I am the balletomane described in the first few paragraphs of THIS article. But what a delight! Teresa Reichlen, one of the best dancers I've ever seen, was to dance the role of Dew Drop Fairy!

I first saw Ms. Reichlen this summer when she danced an incredible piece entitled "Bleeding All Over You" with Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company. She made such an impression on me that, looking back on my blog post from that event, I'm shocked that I didn't comment upon her dancing at all.

It's not often that I can remember exactly HOW a dancer moves.
I frequently leave a performance with general feelings and impressions about a dancer's artistry.
But Teresa Reichlen's movements were so singular that every aspect of the specialness of her dancing was burned into my mind. Her great lyrical sense allows her to play with the music's measure, drawing out special characteristics in the score that might otherwise go unnoticed; pairing this with beautiful movement only underscores how imaginative and invaluable dancing is as an art form. As Gia Kourlas of the NYTimes noted in 2008, "To enhance her dancing with a touch of rubato — a kind of teasing or playing with the music — she uses her elegant limbs to slow down moments or stretch them out like taffy." You see her dance and cannot imagine that she should move in any other way. There is nothing false, phony, or forced about her movements or her performance (a problem, in my opinion, with many of City Ballet's dancers); it's a glorious thing to behold.

In 2004, following her debut as Dew Drop, the NYTimes said:

Teresa Reichlen was Sunday's exhilarating new Dewdrop, exciting in her boldly assured dancing and its blend of opposing qualities. Regal, with long, lean body lines and snapping finishes to her arm gestures, Ms. Reichlen was also musical, with serenely held balances, making for a look of skinny voluptuousness.

In a New York Times review from June 2009, Alistair Macauly said:

It is good to have had, at City Ballet, some debut performances that truly cleansed the palate. No more radiant example of this comes to mind than Teresa Reichlen’s performance last weekend in the lead role of George Balanchine’s “Concerto Barocco.” Ms. Reichlen is a tall, pure blonde with small head, long neck, clean line and easy stretch, the kind who looks bred to Balanchine’s specifications, though taller than most. Her dancing is so unmannered and so selfless that at first it’s hard to know what to say about it. Instead you find yourself watching the choreography with new attention...Afterward you realized that the very air onstage had seemed different from the moment of Ms. Reichlen’s entry: her dancing has a quality of springtime bloom.

And, the best of all reviews, came in February of this past year:

I have stated my general impression that the company is on the way up since the doldrums it hit between 1991 and 2002. One day I took a friend to a matinee; he had begun to follow the company before me and had followed it more closely during those dim years than I. Was I right that things had improved, I asked? He said simply, “Ten years ago there was no Teresa Reichlen.”

Happily, City Ballet rewarded her hardwork and EXCEPTIONAL talent with a promotion from Soloist to Principal dancer in October of this year.

I look forward to seeing many more of Ms. Reichlen's performances across what I hope will be a VERY long career. And I am so grateful to MCL (Bunny's Mom!) for the gorgeous, generous gift; it's a Nutcracker I'll always remember!


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Gossip Girl Takes Over

One of the best things about NYC is how frequently TV and movie companies take advantage of the city's backdrop (and the tax break they get for filming here!). Nearly every week I stumble upon trailers, lighting fixtures, craft services, and camera crews preparing to film anything from TV series like "Ugly Betty" and "Law and Order" to films like "New York, I Love You" and the less interesting "Step Up 3-D.

For the past two days, "Gossip Girl" has taken over my museum.
This isn't the first time I've encountered the GG gang. They used to film all the time around my old office in the Gramercy neighborhood (many scenes this past season have taken place on Irving Street).

But the fact that they were filming INSIDE of my museum somehow made today more exciting and brought out the starstruck side of me.

The plot, it seems, is that the last Bart Bass bequeathed a collection of Hudson River paintings to our museum, and they are having an event to name a wing in his honor. It's a totally legit idea.

Here's what I saw:

Our Events Office was converted into the Green Room:

Second floor taken over by wires, set building materials, lights, cameras, the whole shebang; there's a "Gossip Girl" directors chair folded and thrown on top of the stack at the far left.

Outside, craft service trucks and costume/makeup trailers lined the street:

This notice was posted on the makeup trailer door. I could hear barking as I walked by. Hilarious:

Normally I have great celeb karma. In fact, I like to say that I have a sixth sense about celebrities and can "feel" when they're near me (yes, I realize that this is an utterly ridiculous claim and also a pointless talent). At any rate, if you follow me on Twitter you'll know that I truly DO see my fair share of celebs. Unfortunately yesterday my stars didn't quite align. I caught a 2-nanosecond glimpse of the gorgeous Kelly Rutherford (aka Lilly Bass Van der Woodsen Humphrey). My co-workers fared better than I did. Some saw, and also chatted with, Dan, Chuck, and Blair. I've seen Blake Lively (Serena) and Connor Paolo (Eric) in other parts of town, but didn't catch them altogether yesterday.

Ah well. I'm mostly excited to see my museum in all of its glory when this episode airs--probably sometime in March. Keep an eye out and I'll keep you posted!

You know you love me,

Friday, December 4, 2009

Do the Right Thing: A Wealth of Easy Options

Lately I've been inundated by requests to vote for various charities in the

The idea is simple enough:
1) Access the Chase Community Giving application on Facebook.
2) You're given 20 votes to support needy charities.
3) You can search for charities that fit your interests, or search for specific charities you know the names of.
4) Place your votes by TUESDAY, DECEMBER 8
5) The winning charity receives $5,000,000!
I don't want to force anyone to use votes on causes they don't believe in, but here are four amazing contenders vying for the prize, and doing great work year-round on small budgets, that you may want to consider:


Founded in 1994 as a reaction to the lavish birthday party scene in NYC, CFC teaches children the important life lessons behind community service and provides opportunities for kids as young as 3(!) to get involved and make a difference in their community.


Click HERE to read a previous blog post about this father/daughter-founded charity, inspired by my friend's desire as a little girl to make a difference in the life of a homeless man. Though a child is small, just like a penny, in large numbers an enormous difference can be made!


Click HERE to read a previous blog post about this AMAZING film and project, which coalesce around an incredible teen named Darius Weems and his struggle with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. (Incidentally, this DVD makes an excellent gift for the holidays and it will make you laugh, cry, and, hopefully, consider things from a different perspective.)


By providing learning opportunities through after-school programs, an Online Leadership Program, and a variety of venues and means, GK helps provide under-served students with the opportunity to become good students and great citizens.

Do the right thing! Your vote could make an ENORMOUS difference for any of these 4 charities above, and you will have 16 more opportunities to make a difference for other organizations, too!

Karma is a boomerang.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

La Joie de Vivre through Alber's Lens

I'm very behind on blogging! Planning to make a few posts tonight because there are so many fun things that have happened or that I've encountered in the last few weeks that I want to make a record of.

Right now, though, I want to share some recent, and of course whimsical, drawings by Alber Elbaz. The designer behind the magnificent pieces rolling out of Lanvin, Alber has prolifically put colored pen to paper and produced many wonderful drawings for public consumption:

The invitation for last weekend's Bal du Crillon:

(via Jane at Sea of Shoes. Her blog is, without a doubt, my favorite daily read.
She debuted at Le Bal in a bespoke Chanel gown. I'm so delighted she got to have this incredible experience, and handled it with such grace!)

A special tote in honor of Lanvin's 120th anniversary:

(Thanks, MVG, for showing me this adorable, if expensive, little nugget!)

La Poste Stamps

Only a few minutes ago Women's Wear Daily announced that Alber has also designed limited-edition stamps for France's postal system to honor Lanvin's 120th.
They'll be available for purchase early next year.

Alber is adorable. I can't think of many other designers who can create both sophisticated dresses and such light-hearted drawings; he really is a true talent.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Up, Up and Away!

The museum where I now work is located on one of the blocks where the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons are lined up each year. The streets are blocked off, the balloons arrive from New Jersey, and then they're inflated. NYC citizens and tourists alike join a long snaking line to get an up-close view at some of our favorite characters, rendered 50 feet tall!

When I emerged from the subway during my morning commute, this is the scene that greeted me:

Here's the vantage point from the museum's entrance:
Spiderman weighed down by many sandbags, Pumpkins, KERMIT(!), and the Energizer Rabbit
(I think next year the Bunny and I should be Kermit and Miss Piggy for Halloween!)

The view from my boss' window:

Some of the friends we passed along the way:

The fine folks from Ritter even gave MVG and me some delicious chocolate in exchange for posing for photos with Ritter candy and making video holiday greetings.
Here's MVG, filming her segment:

We made sure to secure a delicious finale to our idyllic Autumn evening:
Pot Roast at Sarabeth's!

The crowds were a bit restless (especially with children in tow), and the volume of visitors was surprisingly large (even by New York standards). MVG and I joked that our float friends looked like giant caged animals, especially the ones with netting thrown over them; it's a sad thought, and in a way hampered my enjoyment of the experience. By the time we made it near the other street that showcased the remainder of the floats (like Hello Kitty, a character I adore, the Pillsbury Dough Boy, Shrek, etc.), we were exhausted and decided to call it a night. I won't be making an annual tradition out of this, but I think it's worth a visit at least once in your lifetime.

Because, honestly, who doesn't love a six-story-tall balloon?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Tent is Up!

A few weeks ago the Bunny said he had prepared a surprise for his sister and me.
Our instructions were to meet him at the fountain in Lincoln Center on a specific date at 6 o'clock in the evening.

I knew that the NYCB and ABT seasons had not yet begun, and that the showtime was a few hours too early for a Met opera performance or Philharmonic concert.

I had my suspicions about what it might be, but, unquestioningly, I showed up at Lincoln Center as instructed.

(Did you know that the New York State Theater, below, was recently rechristened the "David H. Koch Theater"? David is from Wichita, Kansas, just like me, and the second richest man in NYC, after Bloomberg. He and his brother Charles, who still lives in Wichita, are tied for #9 Richest American, and are the #19 and #20 Richest People in the World. Gives me faith in the kind of life I can build for myself in the future!)

When The Bunny and his sister arrived we were whisked off to the

This was the first circus I'd ever been to (not counting Britney Spears' concert) and was a little skeptical.
But two things gave me faith that it would be a fun evening:
#1) A glowing review by the New York Times, and
#2) The fact that our little friend, SMG, is in the TV commercial and she only works on the best projects!

We sat in the third row. As the commercial jingle notes, all seats are no farther than 50 feet from the ring so every seat is a good one.

Unlike Ringling Brothers, this circus focuses on quality over spectacle. The single ring, versus Ringling's three rings, means that the entertainment must be very focused, and the small arena ensures that each act must be magnificent.

The only animals in the show were domesticated: horses and dogs rescued from shelters. I'm sure I would love the appearance of an elephant or a lion at first, but thoughts of animal cruelty would quickly plague me. To see rescued dogs enjoying jumping around and dancing in the ring was so much fun.

The show's star is Bello, a seventh generation clown (yes, his family has been doing this for over 200 years). He isn't a scary white-faced, red-ball-nosed clown. Instead he's silly, funny, great with sleight of hand, and very acrobatically talented. Children, rather than being afraid of him, were in LOVE with him.

The entertainment included contortionists, jugglers, trapeze artists, aerialists, comedy routines from Bello and Grandma the Clown, and some amazing feats in and on the Wheel of Wonder.

The circus also features a live orchestra, which earned MAJOR points in my book;
nothing beats live music.

The circus is in town through January 18, and I highly recommend that you go.
With tickets in the $25-$89 range it's a great bargain and will be some of the most fun two hours you'll spend all season.
You'll be amazed by the athleticism, delighted by the showmanship, and pleased by the great comedy.

Don't stand there watchin' me/
Follow me/
Show me what you can do

If you go, enjoy the show!

Bibliophilia meets Librophilia

If you follow me on Twitter (@MurphysNewLaw), you may have seen my re-tweet of a friend's link to photos of beautiful libraries; I appended the link with the comment that these gorgeous locations were, without a doubt,
my idea of heaven.

My new museum job is a dream come true in many ways. The people there and the work itself are so fun and wholly fascinating, and I have the added perks of working in a gorgeous space right across the street from Central Park, and getting to conduct research at the New York Public Library.

Naturally, the NYPL system has many branches, but I'm talking about the motherlode: The Schwarzman Building. If you saw the Sex and the City film, you'll remember this as the place where Carrie and Big almost marry:

Or, if you love Breakfast at Tiffany's, this is the location where Holly and Jack request to see his book (watch from 0:40 to 2:45):

(The same system of waiting for your number to be called still applies today. Did you know that "57" happens to be my favorite number?)

(HERE'S a list of other movies filmed in the NYPL.)

It's such a delight to research in this library, and I find myself frequently distracted from the core research because there's so much I want to learn; I'm frequently reading every detail of every page when I should just be browsing for specific information. Is there any greater luxury than education?

Anyway, here are a few shots of the Main Reading Room and third floor of the Schwarzman building, or, what I like to call my "other office." Hah.

Across Fifth Avenue on a little side street called Library Way, there are plaques on the sidewalk which showcase great quotes about learning. Here are two of my favorites:

Here's to wishing that the places in which you learn are as beautiful as the knowledge itself.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Georgia O'Keeffe at the Whitney.

I believe that any difficult day can be salvaged if you either seek and discover beauty, or learn something new and interesting.

After struggling through a pair of long and trying days this weekend, I hit the jackpot in both regards when I wrapped up my Sunday with a trip to the Whitney Museum of American Art to view "Georgia O'Keeffe: Abstraction." My dear friend ALF pointed out that it was O'Keeffe's birthday (as well as ALF's herself), so I picked a fitting day to visit.

As a child I was influenced by my parents' tastes in art, primarily: Chinese watercolors, the three generations of Wyeths, and Georgia O'Keeffe. Chinese art hung in our house, and catalogues of retrospectives by the other artists littered our bookshelves and coffee tables. I pored over these works and came to know them like distant relatives. It may be obnoxious to say, but Georgia O'Keeffe feels very familiar to me.

In a way, then, seeing the Whitney's exhibit felt like a reunion of sorts. But, so importantly, I was exposed to much of O'Keeffe's work that I had never seen before, and learned about entirely new sides of the artist who is almost limitingly known for her vivid floral pieces and Southwestern landscapes.

The show was excellent. I've been grappling with wondering if credit is due to the Whitney's curation (and, certainly, they did a fine job of image selection), or rather, if it's because O'Keeffe's nearly seven-decade career evolved through many different phases and produced a tremendous portfolio of work. I think it may be the latter.

Even in its earliest form, O'Keeffe's work was abstract. The show begins with charcoals from 1915, and quickly leads into watercolors. I was fascinated by the work, and grateful to see these pieces since I only previously knew O'Keeffe's work in oil.

The most moving aspect of the show is the continual reminder of O'Keeffe's search for emotional expression through art. Lest we forget she experimented with radical ideas in the first half of the last century; it would be easy to convince someone that she was a liberated woman of the 1970s. A series of watercolors on display were painted after O'Keeffe's first meeting with photographer Paul Strand, which she described as "being not of Strand but rather of a feeling that he had aroused in her inner consciousness." To paint the feeling rather than the thing itself--it's such a magnificent idea.

Another idea that struck me as so funny (and reinforced the notion that one's experience and interpretation of the world is often quite different from everyone else's) was this quote from O'Keeffe:
"I have painted portraits that to me are almost photographic.
I remember hesitating to show paintings,
they looked so real to me.
But they have passed into the world as abstractions--no one seeing what they are."

The show does right by its viewers in explaining O'Keeffe's extremely important exposure to, and experimentation with, photography via Paul Strand and Alfred Stieglitz. The cropping she learned with photography led to her development of the hyper-magnified floral paintings for which she is best known.

And, knowing how to please their visitors, the Whitney certainly spoils visitors with O'Keeffe's sumptuous oils and magnificent colors. I know I love a painting if I want to eat it or live inside of it (note: we are each entitled to our unique visceral reactions!); I had this feeling on several occasions throughout the exhibit.

I avoided reading the NYTimes' review until after I saw the show I'm going to take a peek at what they had to say. But regardless of what any critics may think, I loved this exhibit. I love knowing more about what an amazing woman and courageous artist O'Keeffe was. And I'm already planning a trip to her New Mexico museum in my mind...

See it if you can. The show runs through January 17, 2010.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Trumpet of the Swan

I'm a little late to the game for a Halloween post, but it's my favorite holiday of the year so I hope you'll indulge me.

After contemplating some (in my opinion) excellent costume ideas, in the end I went for: BJORK!

-1 white bubble dress from Forever 21
-4 feather boas from a fabric store
-1 pair of white children's tights from The Children's Place
-The Bunny's white socks
-A little bit of ribbon and 2 buttons
-The insanity and drive to make this happen

It was a hit and I had a LOT of fun.
Seriously, I dare you to be an Icelandic musician for Halloween and NOT have a ball.

Impressions of Bjork. She's a true original....

I studied ballet for many years and it's one of the TRUE loves of my life.
No swan costume would be done justice without the opportunity of being photographed in the final pose of the "Dying Swan."

I was a pretty HAMmy swan:

The Bunny decided to be an egg, since Bjork laid an egg (or rather, an egg-shaped purse) at the Oscars during a Red Carpet interview; I think there's a Freudian message in there somewhere...
I went to Mood fabric and picked up some white felt and constructed a just-this-side-of-amorphic blob for him to wear. He was Grade A, all the way.

As for next year...
Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera?
Geisha and American Businessman?
Oh, the possibilities!


Friday, October 30, 2009

Things That Make Me Smile (even with one less tooth)

The pain from my wisdom tooth extraction is now under control and I'm smiling ear to ear
(with a bit of a gap on one side).
Here are some things that made me smile this week, and I hope they'll make you grin, too.

I am one of those naughty few who does NOT completely adore "Le Petit Prince."
I will even go so far as to say I hate it.
HOWEVER, I always loved the illustrations and recognized something magical about the way the book captivates the imaginations of so many.
So my heart took flight when I found the "Deluxe Pop Up Edition" at Barnes & Noble.

For a special glimpse into the pop-up, visit's video tour HERE.
I stumbled upon this book in which a single Jewish girl suddenly becomes a hot commodity to Jewish men when she's confused for a shiksa. I don't plan to read it, but I was amused by the title.

In related news, last Sunday the greatest-converted-shiksa-since-Elizabeth-Taylor wed the mensch of her dreams.
Congrats, Ivanka! You were simply STUNNING in your Grace Kelly-inspired wedding gown!


No make-up. Earth tones. Windblown hair. Wicker baskets. A simple bicycle.
What's not to love?
My F.A.V.O.R.I.T.E. holiday of the year is here!
"Hocus Pocus" will be viewed at least once this weekend. (I see you, SJP...)
I also anticipate wearing orange and black in honor of the holiday AND my alma mater;
as Tracy Jordan said on this week's "30 Rock":
"Is it Halloween or Princeton Parents' Weekend?"
I'm happy either way!

Halloween 2003: "Princeton Dorothy" for this Kansas girl in her Freshman year:
Popped collar, Westie stuffed puppy from Harrod's, Louis Vuitton in lieu of a basket.

Accompanied by Little Red Riding Hood, played by MLPR.


No tricks, only treats,