Taylor Swift Isn’t New York’s OG Ambassador, John Lennon Is


Whoever made Taylor Swift New York City’s ambassador needs a reality check — the transplanted pop star may be topping charts every day, but her relationship to the Big Apple is nothing when compared to John Lennon. A large tapestry depicting Manhattan as a Yellow Submarine with Lennon as the pilot was unveiled yesterday at Ellis Island. Yoko Ono and Bono joined the celebration to declare July 29 John Lennon Day, a holiday of peace. The piece was commissioned by Art for Amnesty founder Bill Shipsey to thank Ono on behalf of human rights group Amnesty International, a group that raised more than $5 million in royalties from covers of John Lennon’s post-Beatles music. Ono said the artwork was exactly the way the band member would’ve wanted it. “John knew how urgent [peace] was,” she said.

The tapestry celebrates not only Lennon’s influence in pop culture but honors the 40th anniversary of Lennon acquiring his green card and being granted U.S. citizenship. The Liverpool-born star attended several deportation hearings in 1970 and was initially denied citizenship, until that was overturned in 1975.”John had to fight to get here,” Ono said. “John had to fight to actually be accepted here.”

The commemorative art piece, designed by New York-based Czech artist Peter Sis, is now up for public viewing at the Ellis Island National Museum. Celebrate Lennon, the piloting peace advocate, in a new imagined light.

Pole Dancing Nuns? Watch Madonna’s Most Outrageous Moments


Looking back on Madonna’s resume and at her 2015 Grammy Awards performance, one or two major theatrics can inevitably be expected on her upcoming “Rebel Heart” tour. At 56 years old, the pop icon took the Grammy performance by the horns matador-style, ascended above the crowd (literally), and boasted some dance moves that could probably outdo your average, fit 25-year-old. Nothing too far-out given her track record. With that in mind, she gave ticket-holding fans something to, um, look forward to on her “Rebel Heart” tour: pole dancing nuns. In honor of the unapologetic pop queen, here are some of her most controversial moments to relive like they’re shiny and new.

Vanity Unfair – When no one expected Vogue to go Victorian  (whatever, it was awesome).

Throwing Shade at Gaga Is it getting cool in here?

Like a What? – Madonna gives a hyper-sultry performance at the 1984 MTV Awards, officially schooling us on her I-don’t-really-care philosophy

Bombs AwayThat would be 14 (yes, fourteen) F-bombs dropped in 13 minutes. On live television. You can’t say you’re not impressed. 

The Pope Says NopeAfter stirring up a mighty bit of controversy by burning a few crosses, the pope decidedly banned her from entering Italy. 

Girl Crush At least she isn’t touching herself with a giant foam finger; Lady Madonna keeps it classy.

“I Want to Rule the World”We think it’s safe to check that off your bucket list by now.

9 Celebrities Who Beat Tom Cruise Anyday: The Best Jimmy Fallon Lip Sync Battles


Another day, another Jimmy Fallon lip sync battle, am I right? In the latest installment of the Tonight Show’s regular celebrity face-off, Fallon welcomed Scientologist, the former Mr. Holmes, and Mission Impossible star Tom Cruise, who delivered a sultry mock rendition of The Weekend’s “I Can’t Feel My Face,” after he pointed out the ridiculousness of the whole shebang. Cruise also performed Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock and Roll” while pulling jabs like sliding up to the mic Risky Business style. Fallon took on the bluesy-rock hits “Undercover to the Night” by the Rolling Stones and “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” by The Righteous Brothers (with a little accompaniment from Cruise and a random, blushing woman from the front row). The video was viral by this morning, proving yet another success for Fallon and his YouTube-friendly style of late-night comedy. Watch the clip, then check out the best Jimmy Fallon lip sync battles to date below. (We think JGL takes the cake, but we’ll let you decide).



Emma Stone – All she does is win, win, win, no matter what; Stone proves she isn’t fazed by speedy lyrics.


Will Ferrell & Kevin Hart – “You can never… you can never un-see that.”


Paul Rudd – Rudd channels his inner-Queen and royal dance moves.


Dwayne Johnson – Johnson shakes it off with his best “Taylor Tay Tay Swift” impression while Fallon jumps in the line.


Anne Hathaway & Emily Blunt – Blunt gives us a little piece of her heart and Hathaway wrecks it, arguably, way better than Miley.


Joseph Gordon-Levitt & Stephen Merchant – One of the first lip sync duels to go viral, it’s like Fallon knew when he sang “Don’t you Want Me?”


Too Late for a VMA? Florence and the Machine's New Video Is the Latest Mini-Movie to Tell an Epic Story


Photo – Jason Persse

With last week”s VMA nominations, ensuing Twitter feuds and what not, all signs point to music videos becoming bigger and better in this post-Total Request Live age. The latest cinematic music video to grace our eyes and ears is Florence and the Machine”s “Queen of Peace/Long & Lost,” a 10-minute mini-movie that debuted on NPR today. Victor Haycock directed the music video, which is a combination of two tracks from Florence Welch”s June album, How Big How Blue How Beautiful. Welch”s powerhouse voice is a bit more strained than usual on the tracks, allowing plenty of room for gorgeous scenery from the Isle of Easdale. She plays both victim and healer, with an ongoing bout of violence, in the abstract narrative. It”s ethereal, chill-inducing, horn-filled, and one of her best releases yet.

The video is just another example of how big-budget artists are turning the page on typical online casino vignette-style, four-minute music videos and instead giving fans something kind of like Odyssian narratives. Taylor Swift outdid the couture costume changes and manic depressive scenes of her own “Blank Space” with the May release of “Bad Blood,” featuring an impressive leather-clad cast and pyrotechnics galore. Meanwhile, Rihanna gave us an intense, drug-fueled melodrama in “Bitch Better Have My Money.” While some critics might say that this new genre of music video takes away from the music and is instead a theatrical feast of special effects, it”s nothing short of entertaining. It elevates the music by providing a back story and reinterpreting the listener”s original conceptions of the music. Flo”s new video is too late for a VMA nomination, but who knows, at the rate these chicks are going, an Oscar might be down the line.

Watch the full video on NPR here.

Where to Eat and Drink Near Terminal 5


PhotoCage the Elephant

Terminal 5 is a magnet for indie artists and big-name performers, but it isn’t exactly conveniently located. Sure, it has the environs of Hell’s Kitchen to latch onto, but that’s a crowded restaurant landscape that needs an expert to weed through the good and the bad. That’s why we’ve provided you with a carefully selected roster of eateries all within walking distance of Terminal 5, so when you’ve got tickets to Tove Lo, Tame Impala, Sleater-Kinney (or Brandon Flowers of The Killers next week), you’ll know exactly where to go for pre and post show food and drank. Here are all the restaurants near Terminal 5 worth hitting up.

For more places to eat and drink right now in New York, check out the BlackBook City Guides.

Pure Thai Cookhouse

 766 9th Ave. #2 at 52nd St.

This popular 35-seater serves genuine Thai cuisine reminiscent of the vendors and shophouses from the farmlands of Phayao. You can choose to take your noodles wet or dry with the eclectic and budget-friendly soup and wok menus (pro tip: they also deliver. You’re welcome).

What to order: Greenpapaya salad, wok ginger curry with calamari

Tehuitzingo Deli Grocery

695 10th Ave. at 47th St.

Don’t judge a book by its cover, it’s the inside that counts, etc., etc. While you may pass up the Tehuitzingo Deli Grocery as another corner market upon first glance, you can find fresh, healthy, and eclectic Mexican cuisine at more-than-fair prices. Swoop in early for the loaded Breakfast Burriot, or get your fill on one of the numerous Mexican Sandwich options.

What to order: Cubana Sandwich, Pollo en Mole Poblano

Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop

600 11th Ave. at 45th St.

From American expat in Japan to founding a haven for ramen lovers just along Clinton St., Ivan Orkin aims to bring a little zest to your traditional ramen bowl. The Gotham West outpost is open until 11 PM on weeknights and midnight on weekends, making it ideal for a relatively late bite This isn’t your 75-cent bag from the grocery store—enjoy the whole spectrum of egg, salmon roe, scallions, dashi, and the works. Or for the vintage collectors, go for the 1000 Year Old Deviled Egg.

What to order: Ivan Ramen “Caprese,” Triple Pork Triple Garlic Mazemen


PhotoIvan Ramen (credit: chezshal)


773 10th Ave. at 52nd St.

Danji marries traditional and authentic Korean flavors with a modern aesthetic (and with the portion sizes, you could definitely tag along a plus-one to this wedding). Only fresh, local, and organic ingredients are used, making for a deliciously healthy dinner. Sake’s organic too, right?

What to order: Soy-poached black cod with spicy daikon, tofu with ginger scallion dressing


773 10th Ave. at 52nd St.

Taboon is inspired by foods of the Mediterranean and Middle East and “bold and articulated flavors.” However, every palate is catered to here with options ranging from ricotta gnocchi to short ribs paired with hummus.

What to order: Terra Cotta Lamb Kebabs


790 9th Ave. at 53rd St.

Inspired by the delicious rotisseries spread all across French cities, Poulette aims to bring the particular je ne se quoi of the simple poultry dish to New York. Enjoy high-quality ingredients and choose from seasonal sides like brussels sprouts, French beans with mushrooms, ratatouille, and more.

What to order: Poulette Sandwich

Ellie Goulding Wreaks Telekinetic Havoc in Major Lazer’s ‘Powerful’ Music Video


The James Slater-directed video for Major Lazer’s single “Powerful” was released earlier today, starring reggae singer Tarrus Riley and English songstress Ellie Goulding wreaking telekinetic havoc on a diner. Major Lazer, consisting of Diplo, Jillionaire, and Walshy Fire, released  their LP Peace is the Mission just last month.

Taking the lyrics more than literally (“There’s an energy… It’s so powerful”) Riley and Goulding show up to the diner as two strangers just doing their telekinetic thing; bending forks, spilling coffee, levitating an unassuming waitress. The clip is stunning and vaguely reminiscent of Slater’s previous works, following no particular narrative, but rather a continuous theme littered with memorable images throughout. It also helps that “Powerful” has vibrant pop feel to it, about as catchy as the common cold. And who knows– maybe it’ll become a contender for song of the summer. Watch the new video below:


Sit Back, Relax, and Take a Shot: Where to Drink Tequila in LA


As much as you’ll want to remember National Tequila Day, you’ll probably black out and forget it. The origins of the holiday are fuzzily browned out, but we’ll take a shot anyway. If you aren’t maxed out on margaritas yet this summer, here’s where to get the best tequila in LA. Kick back, drink up, and pass the lime and salt. And if you’re planning on staying in, mix up some of these tequila punch recipes, passed down from the consistently sexiest leading man ever, George Clooney.


Las Perlas

107 E. 6th St., Los Angeles, CA

Five dollar margaritas and tequila shots might sound dangerous, but… well there’s no refute for that, really. However, aside from the killer Monday through Friday happy hour, Las Perlas also offers a more refined cocktail menu with options like Olmeca Altos tequila topped off with agave and fresh lime juice.

What to order: Spiced Daisey

Gracias Madre

8905 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood, CA

This is place is a vegan’s daydream wrapped in a soft cashew crema blanket. But aside from tasting the plentiful Earth-friendly Mexican dishes, you can also browse through a diverse selection from the cocktail program menu; there’s everything from habanero infused elderflower liquor to tequila blanco.

What to order: Purista


Photo: Gracias Madre, Purista

La Cuevita

5922 N. Figeuro Blvd., Los Angeles, CA

Themed around Dia Los Muertos and decked with skulls and bats, La Cuevita is 30% kitsch and 70% Mexican cocktail haven. The tequila cocktails are nuanced, reasonably priced, and won’t disappoint—no bones about it.

What to order: Jalapeno Margarita

Palmilla Cocina

39 Pier Ave., Hermosa Beach, CA

This swanky, home-style Mexican joint offers artful dishes and a breezy beachside patio. You can keep your tequila celebration classy with a market fresh margarita and some spicy papaya guac.

What to order: Muddled fruit margarita


 7910 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles, CA

Though Mercado proudly boasts having “the best flan in the universe,” one could argue that their extensive tequila menu is definitely more of a hung-on-mom’s-fridge achievement. Pick and choose from the eclectic Blanco, Reposado, Anejo, and extra Anejo lists, or indulge in their holiday special– the Watermelon Basil Margarita

What to order: La Piña, Watermelon Basil Margarita


Photo: Mercado, La Piña

Red O

8155 Melrose Ave. Los Angeles, CA

Think high wood-paneled ceilings, palm leaves refracting dim light from rustic chandeliers, fresh shucked oysters by the dozen. Or for those with other, more boozy things in mind, think Cabo Wabo Blanco Tequila on the rocks. It’s classy cantina at its best.

What to order: Alacran Margarita

La Velvet Margarita Cantina

1612 N. Cahuenga Blvd. Los Angeles, CA

Comprised of age-old hand-me-down family recipes and plush velvet walls, this is the perfect place to indulge in a little southern comfort. Try your hand at a classic margarita or one of the many beer selections.

What to order: Platinum Velvet Margarita


For more places to eat and drink right now in LA, check out the BlackBook City Guides.

Grab a Lactaid and Hit All These NYC Spots on National Ice Cream Day


Photo: Ample Hills (Credit: Stu Spivack)

It’s pie’s best friend, an excellent bad breakup therapist, the sweetest remedy for a midsummer swelter, or just a perfect reason to treat yourself. But for National Ice Cream Day, no excuses are needed to indulge in America’s quintessential dessert (or breakfast or lunch, whatever – it’s chill). Celebrate the holiday in style all over the city – bonus points if you go to every place in our list. For more places to eat and drink right now, check out the BlackBook city guides.

Big Gay Ice Cream

“Throughout their years living in New York City, Douglas Quint and Bryan Petroff had always focused on their respective careers – until they got themselves a Big Gay Ice Cream truck.” Big Gay Ice Cream is a playful shop serving up out-there treats (see: The Salty Pimp, Mermaid, and Gobbler) to crowds who line up down the block. You can also ditch the boring cherry on top with cayenne pepper, wasabi pea dust, or elderberry syrup.

Locations: East Village (125 E. 7th St.) and West Village (61 Grove St.)

What to order: Monday Sunday, chai milkshake


As one of the more DIY ice cream joints in the city, OddFellows pasteurizes their own ice cream daily using only local dairy, and keeps eight to 12 flavors on rotation. While the flavor variety changes quite often, some unique flavors you can find are miso cherry, saffron passion fruit, and ants on a log sorbet.

Locations: Williamsburg (175 Kent Ave.) and East Village (75 E. 4th St.)

What to order: The Cotton Candy Cone


Photo: OddFellows

Sundaes and Cones

This small, stark-white shop takes all your generic ice cream flavors and pushes them in an Asian-fusion direction with selections like black sesame, lychee, red bean, and wasabi. Feeling a little more old-fashioned? Try a scoopful of pistachio-almond or salted caramel on the outdoor wooden benches.

Locations: East Village (95 E. 10th St)

What to order: Salted caramel, red bean, and black sesame cone


Nicholas Morgenstern, the brains behind Morgenstern’s, riddles the ice cream lover’s palate. Combinations that should sound so wrong, like a coconut fennel and pickled mango soft serve swirl, are just somehow so right, and there’s no shortage of options to excite every taste and craving.

Locations: Lower East Side (2 Rivington St.)

What to order: Avocado Ice Cream Toast, King Kong Banana Split


Photo: Morgenstern’s

Van Leeuwen

Maybe you’ve seen that pastel yellow truck posted up along Bedford Ave. or University Place, or maybe you’ve stumbled into one of their five shops littered about the city. As one of the few vegan ice cream vendors around, Van Leeuwen definitely seems to be a niche for the more cow-friendly ice cream eaters. Or try their traditional flavors, like salted caramel, earl grey tea, Sicilian pistachio and ginger.

Locations: East Village (48 7th St.), Williamsburg (152 W.10 St.) and more NYC locations

What to order: The New Yorker, Ginger Caramel Crunch


Coolhaus was founded on the concept of “Farchitecture” (farming and architecture) in attempt to deconstruct customers’ palates and build upon traditional ice cream flavors. The selections are adventurous and vast, and you can even select from their cookie, to-go, and beverage menu – or grab an affogato for an indulgent midday pick-me-up.

Locations: Find the trucks around NY here.

What to order: ice cream sandwich, White Russian, goat’s milk caramel mascarpone rosemary


Photo: Coolhaus (Credit: Ernesto Andrade)

Ample Hills

This iconic Brooklyn ice creamery closed its doors just four days after its opening due to selling out of all 130 gallons of ice cream. Now, the supply remains ample as ever. Feed your sweet tooth craving with one of their constantly rotating flavors, or with a house made ice cream cake for the extra festive folks.

Location: Prospect Park (623 Vanderbilt Ave.) and Gowanus (305 Nevins St.)


Not Into Greasy Buckets of Drumsticks? The Fanciest Fried Chicken Spots Across the Country


Photo: Sweet Chick

We love holidays; any excuse to rationalize eating too much, drinking even more, and wearing too little is definitely something to celebrate. And while there are some American festivities that would probably be better off nixed from the repertoire (see: National Rubber Duckie Day and National Barber Shop Quartet Day), there are other holidays that are just too enticing to ignore. Today, on July 6, America celebrates National Fried Chicken Day, the most fowl holiday of all. So find out where to find the best fried chicken no matter where you are. 


Sweet Chick: With its Southern American comfort feel, this Bedford Avenue pedestrian-stopper boasts some of the best chicken and waffles in New York. Decked out with country antique-chic decor, this isn’t your everyday modern-yet-rustic Williamsburg attraction. Sweet Chick aims to reinvent the infamous chicken and waffles with options like rosemary-mushroom, walnut-parmesan, or dried cherry. (164 Bedford Ave. at N. 8th St.)
What to order: Sweet Chick Waffle, Biscuits and Gravy, The General















Photo: Sweet Chick (credit: Lani Lee)


Son of a Gun: Son of a Gun is all you could hope for in a classic seafood joint, minus the Jimmy Buffet and tacky color scheme, plus an LA crowd. Though popular menu items include the lobster roll and shrimp toast sandwich, you can feed your poultry craving with the fried chicken sandwich, complete with spicy B&B pickle slaw and rooster aioli. (8730 W. 3rd St. at S. Orlando Ave.)
What to order: Fried chicken sandwich, crispy brussel sprouts with turnips, cinnamon, peanut and egg.

















Photo: Son of a Gun (credit: T. Tseng)


Firefly: Firefly, a cozy neighborhood-style outfit, serves up rich, eccentric food for the soul, like savory cornbread pudding and fried green tomatoes with yellow corn chowder. For the chicken lovers, try the non-Tuesday fried Mary’s chicken with mashed potatoes & gravy, braised romano beans and a “damn fin buttermilk biscuit (or just as fine GF cornbread for the intolerant).” (4288 24th St. at Douglass St.)
What to order: Non-Tuesday fried Mary’s chicken, fried green tomatoes.


Taus Authentic: Think reclaimed barn wood, Edison bulb chandeliers, fireplaces, and veal cheek served “pot-au-feu.” Though this classy and cozy establishment serves mostly modern French cuisine, there’s still a place for the “amant de poulet” with Aunt Reba’s Fried Chicken, topped with lemon honey butter, smoked bacon green beans, and corn bread. (1846 W. Division St. at N. Marion Ct.)
What to order: Aunt Reba’s Fried Chicken, Cavatelli
















Photo: Taus Authentic


Yardbird Southern Table & Bar: This southern-style restaurant and bar brings all the birds to the yard with its ½ ’27-hour’ free-range chicken recipe, complete with spicy Tabasco honey. Or for the more adventurous, try the Chicken N’ Watermelon N’ Waffles, dressed in hot sauce honey, bourbon maple syrup, and chilled spiced watermelon. (1600 Lenox Ave. at 16th St.)
What to order: Llewellyn’s Fine Fried Chicken.















Photo: Yardbird


Honey Salt: A cozy, family style farm-to-table kind of place, Honey Salt gives customers an extravagantly simple dining experience. But while the rustic décor and plush, colorful seating makes you feel like you’re dining in the comfort of your own kitchen, this isn’t your mama’s cooking; try the Briloxi Buttermilk Fried Chicken Sandwich, complete with creamy slaw, house durkee’s dressing, a brioche bun, and a caesar salad on the side. (1031 S. Rampart Blvd.)
What to order: Briloxi Fried Chicken Sandwich, crispy squash blossoms