Grand Central Terminal, Vanderbilt Hall
89 East 42 St.
March 6-8, free
Just as Grand Central Terminal recently celebrated its centennial, Japan will commemorate the last one hundred years of its cultural heritage at the 2014 edition of Japan Week, held in GCT’s historic Vanderbilt Hall. Videos will take visitors to Kumamoto City, Emperor Nintoku’s Tomb in Sakai City, and the resort prefectures of Nagano and Niigata in addition to honoring the one hundredth anniversary of the Tokyo Philharmonic, which will be making its U.S. debut March 11 at Alice Tully Hall, conducted by Eiji Oue. There will also be a focus on Jewish refugees in Japan with the short documentaries Transit to Freedom, The Chiune Sugihara Story, and They Called It Heaven. A photo slideshow looks back one hundred years through the lens of T. Enami and others, and on Thursday at 2:25 and Friday at 2:15 you can try on traditional Japanese armor. Sake from fifteen regions will be available at a one-hundred-year-old Taisho-themed bar, an amezaiku artist will create folk sculptures out of candy, and exhibitors will be displaying the latest in Japanese watches, television, food, and tourism. Tribute will also be paid to Grand Central’s sister station, Tokyo Station, which turns one hundred this year. In conjunction with the festivities, Japanese Restaurant Week continues through March 16, with more than two dozen restaurants featuring special regional dishes, including Koi Soho (squid sashimi), Hakubai (Miyazaki beef), Megu New York (Kobe beef), Sakamai (black rice vinegar), Torishin (kishu bincho charcoal), Wasan (mizutaki), Sushiden (Edomae sushi), Restaurant Nippon (fugu), and Sushi Azabu (sea urchin).
FESTIVAL NEUE LITERATUR 2014: NEW WRITING FROM AUSTRIA, GERMANY, SWITZERLAND, AND THE U.S.
February 28 - March 2, free with advance RSVP
For the fifth annual Festival Neue Literatur, a half dozen up-and-coming German-language authors, two each from Germany (Olga Grjasnowa, Abbas Khider), Austria (Milena Michiko Flašar, Maja Haderlap), and Switzerland (Melinda Nadj Abonji, Richard Weihe), will meet with two established American writers (Monique Truong, Keith Gessen) to contemplate the role of reading and writing in today’s quickly changing global society in conjunction with this year’s theme, “Border Crossings.” The three-day festival begins at 1:00 on February 28 at Deutsches Haus Columbia with “Encounters Across the Ocean,” which pairs the six European novelists with six students each from the Department of Germanic Languages and the Creative Writing Program. On March 1 at 6:00 at the powerHouse Arena in Brooklyn, curator Tess Lewis will moderate “Memory and Language: Angels or Demons,” a discussion with Haderlap, Nadj Abonji, Michiko Flašar, and Truong that addresses such questions as “To what extent does language determine identity and one’s understanding of the world?” and “Is the fickleness of memory a burden or a liberation?” Sunday begins with a noontime Literary Brunch at Deutsches Haus NYU in which the six European writers will read from their works; German fare will be served. Things come to a close on Sunday night at 6:00 at McNally Jackson with “Search for Roots: Exile’s Revolving Doors,” with Grjasnowa, Khider, Weihe, Gessen, and moderator Lewis examining the questions “Are we all ‘rootless cosmopolitans’ now?” and “What is rootedness today?” As preparation, the 2014 reader, which includes samples of works from the six German-language writers and promises that you will “discover famous Austrian, German, and Swiss authors nobody in the U.S. has heard of,” can be downloaded for free here.
CINÉSALON: THE COLOR OF LIES (AU CŒUR DU MENSONGE) (Claude Chabrol, 1999)
French Institute Alliance Française, Florence Gould Hall
55 East 59th St. between Madison & Park Aves.
Tuesday, February 25, $13, 4:00 & 7:30
Series continues Tuesdays through March 18
“The mask reveals more than the face,” Germain-Roland Desmot (Antoine de Caunes) says in French New Wave auteur Claude Chabrol’s 1999 thriller A Color of Lies, which is actually an investigation into the concept of truth. In seaside Breton, a ten-year-old girl has been found in the woods, raped and murdered. New police inspector Lesage (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) believes the culprit is painter and art teacher René Sterne (Jacques Gamblin), the last person known to see the girl alive, but he is staunchly defended by his caring wife, Vivianne (Sandrine Bonnaire), who is striking up a close friendship with Desmot, a self-obsessed local celebrity who writes books and appears on television shows. When a second death is linked to René, Lesage thinks she’s got her man, but the truth is not so easy to uncover in this ever-more complex mélange. Cowritten by Chabrol (Les Cousins, Les Biches) and Odile Barski and shot in an ominous 1970s atmosphere by Eduardo Serra (The Girl with a Pearl Earring, Blood Diamond) that explodes with bursts of deep blues and reds, The Color of Lies is a dark mystery about love, art, obsession, and truth, centered by Bonnaire’s (Vagabond, Monsieur Hire) radiant performance as a dedicated woman facing a critical moment of doubt. Gamblin (Laissez-passer) is effective as René, a cynical, unpredictable man who walks with a cane; on the surface, it is easy to assume he is guilty of anything anyone accuses him of, but his wife’s love adds sympathy and hope that he is not the murderer. The Color of Lies is filled with tricky plot twists emanating from the trompe-l’oeil painting style employed by René in his work, and by Chabrol throughout the film, creating a false reality, like masks that people wear to try to hide the truth behind them. A digitally remastered version of The Color of Lies is screening February 25 at 4:00 & 7:30 as part of the FIAF CinéSalon series “Remastered & Restored: Treasures of French Cinema”; the later screening was supposed to be presented by costar Gamblin, who had to cancel, so a new presenter will be announced. Both shows will be followed by a wine reception. The three-month festival continues with such other recently restored French films as Claire Denis’s Chocolat (introduced by Mahen Bonetti), Jean-Pierre Melville’s Two Men in Manhattan (introduced by Phillip Lopate), and Henri-Georges Clouzot’s The Truth.
Amid yet more animal rights controversies, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus comes to town today, kicking off an eight-day stand at the Barclays Center, followed by stops at the Nassau Coliseum, the Prudential Center in Newark, and the IZOD Center in East Rutherford. (That’s right, there will be no circus at the Garden this winter — and no elephants marching through the Midtown Tunnel — just the Knicks and the Rangers at the World’s Most Famous Arena.) In addition, in a sad side story, it seems that there is a clown shortage, as the next generation doesn’t seem interested in putting on the crazy makeup and floppy shoes. Another, far more important, controversy involves just who makes the best burger around (not to mention the continuing case against red meat in general).
Well, all that comes to a head, in a way, at Burger Joint 5, the fifth art show organized by New York-based painter and Philadelphia Flyers fan Ari Lankin and Cole B at the West Village outpost of the popular Le Parker Meridien burger restaurant. “Under the Big Top — Above the Clouds” consists of more than forty works by a dozen artists interpreting New York as a real-life circus all its own; the pieces are spread throughout the heavily wood-designed eatery, where a burger, fries, and beer will set you back about sixteen bucks. The art on display is relatively inexpensive as well, with works going from $40 and $50 to $2,500 but mostly in the $100 to $300 range. Some of the artists stick to the theme more than others — yes, you should know that there are indeed some paintings with clowns, courtesy of Cole B. Paul Zepeda uses the subway as a major inspiration in his small works on canvas, while Flye Lyfe riffs on the New York sports teams in a series of playful hats and hoodies (the New York Bangers, the Brooklyn Cassettes). Lankin’s “Circus” features six framed one- or two-dollar bills that spell out the title, appropriately placed on a gold brick wall. While the quality of the works differs wildly, two of the standouts are street artist Joseph Meloy (Vandal Expressionism), whose oil and spray paint “Figurative Apparatus” evokes a robotic juggler, and Michael Serafino, who explores scientific themes in such dazzling encaustics as “Lunar EVA 5” and “Abstract Winter” and goes even more abstract in the oil-on-panel “Pull Painting One.” Art and meat? We consider burgers, fries, and beer to be a major art form, so it’s not really much of a stretch for other types of art to be hanging in a place that serves one of New York City’s deservedly favorite burgers.
According to Fitness magazine, hot chocolate is one of the eight healthiest drinks. It “improves mood and may help protect against heart disease. Chocolate increases the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is responsible for regulating mood. (Low levels of serotonin have been associated with depression.) Cocoa is also rich in polyphenols, plant-derived antioxidants that may protect cells against oxidative damage that can lower HDL (good) cholesterol levels, possibly putting you at higher risk for a heart attack.” The Mother Nature Network adds that “the flavonoids help your body process nitric oxide, which is why hot cocoa can improve blood flow, help lower your blood pressure, and improve heart health” and “also help prevent platelets in your blood from mingling together and forming clots.” Of course, it’s also pretty darn tasty, and few things are more warming on a freezing winter’s day. During the month of February, there are myriad ways you can enjoy special cups of this heated goodness. The month-long Hot Chocolate Festival at City Bakery continues with such unique daily flavors as banana peel on February 23, milk chocolate on February 23, bourbon on February 24, darkest dark on February 25, and rum raisin on February 26 before concluding with “happy” and the secretive Festival Finale. Rockefeller Center gets in on the action February 25-26 with “A Taste of Cocoa,” two days of free hot chocolate samples from Bouchon Bakery, Bill’s Bar & Burger, and ’wichcraft. Other places to get a steaming cup of hot/haute couture chocolate include MarieBelle’s, Le Maison du Chocolat, Nunu Chocolates, Max Brenner, Serendipity 3, Jacques Torres, and Lavazza at Eataly. If you need any more prodding, Neurology magazine reported last August that hot cocoa can even help battle memory loss and dementia, explaining that a study showed “there is a strong correlation between neurovascular coupling and cognitive function, and both can be improved by regular cocoa consumption in individuals with baseline impairments. Better neurovascular coupling is also associated with greater white matter structural integrity.” So drink up, New York!
Grand Central Terminal, Vanderbilt Hall
89 East 42nd St.
Friday, February 21, $75 in advance only, 7:00 - 10:00
New York City Beer Week runs February 21 - March 2
It is highly unlikely that Plato ever said, “He was a wise man who invented beer,” no matter what the internet says, but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t have, because indeed, it was a very wise man who invented beer. The sixth annual New York City Beer Week, a celebration of all things suds (but not Plato), gets under way February 21 with an opening-night party in Grand Central’s historic Vanderbilt Hall. A $75 ticket, which must be purchased in advance, gets you a tasting glass and access to potent potables from more than three dozen breweries, including 508 Gastrobrewery, Brooklyn Brewery, Chelsea Brewing, City Island, Eataly Birreria, Gun Hill Brewing, Harlem Brewing, Sixpoint, Allagash, Dogfish, Finback, Ommegang, Shelton Brothers, Shmaltz, Smuttynose, and Wandering Star, along with snacks from Parmacotto, Murray’s Cheese, GUS, and Whole Foods and live entertainment from Music Under New York. Among the more than eighty restaurants hosting Beer Week specials between February 21 and March 2 are Atlantic Chip Shop, Barcade, Dinosaur BBQ, the Gate, the Kent Ale House, Spuyten Duyvil, Superfine, and Waterfront Ale House in Brooklyn, Amsterdam Ale House, Barcade, Blue Ribbon Bakery Kitchen, Blue Smoke Flatiron, Gramercy Tavern, Hospoda, Luke’s Lobster, Shorty’s, Swift Hibernian Lounge, Jimmy’s No. 43, and Waterfront Ale House in Manhattan, Austin’s Ale House, Alewife NYC, the Courtyard Ale House, Forest Hills Station House, Oliver’s Astoria, Rocky McBride’s, and Woodbines in Queens, and Bronx Alehouse and the Bronx Beer Hall in the Bronx.
In addition, the NYC Craft Beer Festival takes place February 28 and March 1 with three sessions at the Lexington Armory ($55-$125, food extra) in which attendees can get unlimited two-ounce tastings of approximately 150 American craft beers. New York City Beer Week concludes March 2 with a beer brunch at Houston Hall. New York City Beer Week is organized by the New York City Brewers Guild, whose mission, which we heartily endorse, “is to advocate for and promote awareness of its local brewing members; to increase the visibility of local beers through programs, events, and consumer education; and to foster a healthy, ethical, and growth-focused craft beer industry throughout the city.” Plato might not have commented on the invention of beer way back when, but he did claim, “No human thing is of serious importance,” and we strongly disagree with that statement, starting with the invention of beer, of course, which could not be any more significant in the annals of history.
New York Botanical Garden
Dining Pavilion behind the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory
2900 Southern Blvd.
February 17-23, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
All-Garden Pass: adults $20, children two to twelve $8
The New York Botanical Garden is taking advantage of the February school break by hosting a family-friendly culinary food festival February 17-23, part of its Edible Academy programming, which focuses on “the important connections between plants, gardening, nutrition, and the benefits of a healthful lifestyle.” The weeklong event, which takes place in the Dining Pavilion behind the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, will offer cooking demonstrations, food tastings, tips and recipes from local chefs and garden staff, workshops, hands-on activities, and live entertainment. Parents and children can stop by the Tip-Top Pickle Shop, the Cheesemonger’s Shop, the Bakery, and Spice Adventures to learn about specific parts of the food-making process and can also create seed packets to grow their own basil. On February 21 to 23, Janice Buckner will put on a food-related puppet show, and on February 23 the Bronx Arts Ensemble Family Concert will present Hansel and Gretel, in which two kids nearly end up on the menu. In addition, the garden, which should be looking lovely with all the snow, has several exhibitions on view, including “Tropical Paradise,” “Close: The Photography of Allan Pollok-Morris,” and “Four Seasons,” as well as the self-guided Winter Walk in the Forest, Seasonal Conifer Explorations, a Winter Plant & Tree Tour, and more.