The Real ‘Heart of New York’: Part I, Manhattan

When the phrase “Heart of New York” comes to mind, the image that immediately flashes is Time Square – the hustle and bustle of people, the “One Time Square” building with Coca-Cola’s animated ads and where the infamous Ball Drop occurs, the Broadway billboards and of course, the sea of yellow taxi cabs. The Real Heart of New York is the 5 boroughs – Manhattan, Bronx, Brooklyn, Staten Island and Queens. These boroughs pump the life into New York, giving it a pulse like no other. Our tour will start off in Manhattan and end at the melting pot of the world – Queens, NY.

1. Manhattan: Manhattan has much to offer from their magnificent Broadway shows such as “Chicago” and “Mary Poppins” to simply taking a $2.25 train ride to Central Park and having a quiet picnic next to John Lennon’s memorial – “Strawberry Fields”. Drifting away from the ordinary and stepping into the extraordinary, the newest addition to New York is Tim Burton’s exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art located at 11 West 53 Street. When entering the exhibit, one must pass through a black and white creature’s mouth (you may have déjà vu – think “Beetle Juice”) and step into the world of Burton. As you walk through the exhibit, short films of Burton’s bizarre characters such as Stain Boy are shown on TV screens. Before entering the main area, a circus-like room illuminated with black lights shows Burton’s pieces in brilliant shades of neon’s with a moving carousel Burton made especially for the exhibit. The main area features strange character drawings and sculptures, clay pieces from films such as “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and “Corpse Bride”, and costume pieces from previous films such as “Batman”, “Mars Attack!” “Sleepy Hollow” and “Edward Scissorhands”. For the Johnny Depp fans, not only is the costume in display but also a life-sized Edward fills the costume with life. An incredible Scissorhands replica topiary is out in the garden of the MoMA as well. One of my favorite pieces on display is a comic book Burton had written as a teenager, which he submitted as a pitch letter to Disney and was soon after rejected. A piece that may tie into the anger Burton had towards Disney features a blue and white monster that closely resembles Mickey Mouse eating creativity and “relieving” himself of brown boxes. (Exhibit is open until April 26th, 2010)

Exit the mind of Burton and visit other pieces at the museum such as Frida Kahlo’s “La pelona”, pieces by Andy Warhol, Picasso, Van Gogh and plenty of other talented individuals.

After exploring the MoMA, grab a $6 platter of Halal food on 53rd street and 6th avenue.
The infamous cart serves from 7:30PM – 4:00AM and attracts hardhat workers, the white collared and even hipsters. Mind you the line is long but it is worth the wait. Enjoy a platter of chicken and lamb  (or better yet – both) served with saffron rice and a small bit of salad. Douse with either “white sauce” or “hot sauce” and delicious dices of pita bread.

“Grab-and-go” not your style? Hop on the 6 train and get off at 33rd street to enjoy delicious Mexican food at Blockheads. Blockheads provides a healthier way to do Mexican. Build your own burrito with choices such as a whole-wheat tortilla, tofu “sour cream” and plenty of salsa options. Enjoy $3 beers and vodka lemonades or one of their famous margaritas such as “The Red Nose Bulldog”. Not your average margarita to say the least – you choose your flavor and it is topped with a “Coronita” and of course, salt on the rim. Enjoy!

If food and entertainment is what you’re searching for, take the V train to West 4th street and walk down to the world famous Jekyll and Hyde restaurant. Werewolves, Frankenstein’s creation, vampires, gargoyles and other creatures are the servers so expect the unusual to occur. The walls of Jekyll and Hyde are adorned with souvenirs and trophies of Dr. Jekyll’s bizarre developments and those of his off the wall friends. The histories behind these items are summarized on plaques throughout the restaurant. Beware: much of the memorabilia has a life of its own and keep in mind that anything can happen at Jekyll & Hyde. Be prepared for the live entertainment and special effects this restaurant has in store.

The Real ‘Heart of New York’: Part II, The Bronx

The Real ‘Heart of New York’: Part III, Brooklyn

The Real ‘Heart of New York’: Part IV, Staten Island

The Real ‘Heart of New York’: Part V, Queens

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