Chinese New Year: Year of the Serpent

NYC's Chinatown celebrates the Year of the Serpent.
NYC’s Chinatown celebrates the Year of the Serpent. Click on the image to watch the video.

Chinatown is one of the best places to visit in New York. If your lucky, your visit will coincide with the celebration of the Chinese New Year. This year is the year of the Serpent.  According the the Chinese Zodiac, personality traits of those born under the snake’s auspices include intelligence, gracefulness, and materialism. They are excellent problem-solvers and thrive under tight deadlines.  They also are excellent seducers and have no problem attracting others. Sounds like the cast of “Madmen.”

I attended this year’s Lunar Parade and spoke with Danielle Tin, Marketing Consultant for the Better Chinatown Society. The Society is dedicated to help everyone, visitors and New Yorker’s alike, in discovering all the wonders of Chinatown.

Grand Central Terminal Turns 100

What is surely one of the most famous railroad stations in the world, Grand Central Terminal, in New York City, turned 100 years old on February 1, 2013. It was not an easy century though. The famous Beaux-Arts landmark has seen it’s share of financial ups and downs, near-demolition and homeless invasions only to be saved time and time again by the good graces of New Yorkers.

GCT 2Perhaps the closest we came to losing her was in 1968, when it was proposed that a skyscraper be built over the terminal. This was only four years after the famous Penn Station had been demolished, dispite a huge outcry from NYC citizens, to make way for the towering monstrosity known as Madison Square Garden. Loud protests against the destruction of New York’s remaining grand lady of the rails came from every corner of the city, the loudest of which was former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis:

“Is it not cruel to let our city die by degrees, stripped of all her proud monuments, until there will be nothing left of all her history and beauty to inspire our children? If they are not inspired by the past of our city, where will they find the strength to fight for her future? Americans care about their past, but for short term gain they ignore it and tear down everything that matters. Maybe… this is the time to take a stand, to reverse the tide, so that we won’t all end up in a uniform world of steel and glass boxes.”

It was partly due to her efforts that Grand Central Terminal was able to secure the historical landmark status which Penn Station was not able to get.

GCT 1Today, after many faithful restorations, retail additions, and higher than ever volume, Grand Central Terminal is alive and heathy, proving once again that there is justice in the world, and that in the chest of even the most cynical New Yorker, beats the heart of a true sentimentalist.

Eating The World, One Culture at a Time

The Food Traveler's HandbookThere is no greater single tangible thing that defines a culture that the foods it eats.  Yet the very thing that makes a culture as unique also unites the world as a whole.  Food is the great equalizer of us all.  No matter what culture you come from, we all need to eat.

That was my take away from “The Food Traveler’s Handbook,” a new book by Jodi Ettenberg.  I loved this book, because Ms. Ettenberg verbalizes the excitement that all avid travelers get when they experience a new culture by savoring its unique dishes.

But this book doesn’t just philosophize about food abstractly.  She gets down to the nitty-gritty, giving practical advice about how to find the food that best defines the countries she has visited and how to try it without getting ill in the process.  As a photographer, I can appreciate that it is filled with beautiful ‘food porn’ pictures (pardon my indelicacy) that were taken by Ms. Ettenberg herself.

I am a traveler who loves to eat.  “The Food Traveler’s Handbook” will travel with me from now on.  I like to travel light so thank god it comes in a Kindle edition.