Do Good & Have Fun At ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ Spring Soiree Thursday

In NYC, doing good is a hard thing to do; amid the packed subways to catch, under-paying jobs to compete over, and overpriced lattes to guzzle mid-stride, the full body-and-mind frenzy overtakes the intrinsic want to be a good person. But once a year, a party comes along that, for four hours, momentarily changes everything. The name: The Fortune Society’s Spring Soiree, and this year’s theme is A Midsummer Night’s Dream (see photo) happening at The Bowery Hotel Thursday the 16th, from 9pm to 1am. 

While supporting Fortune’s rehab services for men and women emerging from incarceration, you get to not only party with the evening’s honored man of the night -documentary filmmaker Eugene Jareckei (Why We Fight, The House I Live In) – but also sip fruity cocktails to the tunes of DJ Alexander Dexter-Jones alongside expected attendees like socialite/model/editor Amanda Hearst, fashion designer Charlotte Ronson, and Sports Illustrated model Julie Henderson.

And if that’s not enough, you can get VIP tables stocked with cocktail waitresses, champagne, and bottles of vodka – as well as entrance to the exclusive after-party – if you donate enough money for a Friend, Patron, or Benefactor Table. ‘Tis something to consider.

But for the folks who just want to support awareness about the country’s criminal justice system (and gawk at Julie Henderson’s perfect… skin), the price of admission is simply $175. And there are only two days left to get tickets so… come and get ’em.

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Four years ago I was in a much different place. I always considered January 20, 2009 as a turning point in my life. This, as you may know, was the day Obama was inaugurated into his first term. A moment in history that I knew was going to set the stage for the future. I had just turned 23, was living in Brooklyn with my two best friends, and was in the biggest state of depression I’d ever hit. Some might call that "rock bottom." At that point we were all smoking enough weed to fill Colorado three-fold. Some might call that "Numbing out." Again, I was 23, almost a year out of college, and flat-broke. I was working at a gallery for 15 dollars a day. I wasn’t working there for the pay; I was there because I fully believed in what they were doing and I was passionate to be a part of it. I had Sallie Mae breathing down my neck wanting their money. Arguing with them regularly, I would scream, "WHAT MONEY AM I SUPPOSE TO PAY YOU WITH? I DON’T HAVE ANY!" Convinced I was on their shit list and that a red alert came on their screen that said "HUGE BITCH" every time I called. Maybe it was all the weed that put me in a state of constant paranoia. Sorry Sallie Mae, actually fuck that you still want my money.

In a journal entry dated 1/19/2009 I wrote the following "Obamas Inauguration is tomorrow and I know things are going to get better, because, really they can’t get much worse. I have no money no job and frankly shit just sucks." On inauguration day I was with my friend Sara and we had gone to the Brooklyn Lyceum to watch history on a big screen. We cried, this was it, lets move forward. We headed to Pathmark afterward.  Being flat broke we bought about 20 microwaveable Banquet meals that were on sale for $1.00. Chicken Fried Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, and the ever delicious Salsbury Steak Meal. $1.00 for bliss cooked in under three minutes. We were also really into instant coffee. God forbid we splurge on a coffee maker or anything that couldn’t be smoked. However, this day was a turning point. Slowly little by little since that day, things started to unfold. Odd jobs began trickling in, I was at the gallery, working at a photo studio, even doing a random data entry job in Greenpoint. Slowly a shift had begun to take place. I was lucky to live with friends, we all supported each other, pulled our selves out of funks and motivated one another to keep going further.

Four years later 1/21/13, I am sitting here watching the Inauguration for Obama’s second term. The top right corner of MSNBC says "Lean forward." Today I am in a much different place in my life. I’ve had a full time job for two plus years and manage to subside my Sallie Mae expenses as well as have some money left over for living. My pot smoking habit has become an occasional past time. The past has been nothing short of trans formative and I have no idea what lies ahead these next four years. I can only hope for the best outcomes  and a continuation of moving forward, of feeling like we are actually heading somewhere. As Obama mentioned in his speech today "We must lead the transition."

*Image pictured is from January 2009

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Where To Break Your New Year’s Resolutions in NYC

As kids, it was pretty easy to break things, whether it was your bones, your grandma’s vase, or that ceramic dish sitting on the living room shelf. As adults (or something like it), we expand our repertoire with the steady breaking of our New Year’s resolutions, which generally happens somewhere between their announcement and the second week of the year. But before I provide all of the best places in NYC to break these resolutions, let me first take a moment to commend us for even trying to resolve and better ourselves in the first place. (moment of silence). Alright, now let’s get to it.

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2013: Try Not To Mess This Up, Everyone

This is not a drill, people. It’s an honest-to-god, as-yet-unspoiled new year, and I’ll be goddamned if you screw this one up like you did the last one. I don’t know why we even trusted you with 2012, after what you’d done to 2011 and 2010 (to say nothing of the atrocity that was 2009). But the cycle of year-ruining ends here, buster.

Activities that may ruin this perfectly good year include and are not limited to: terrorist plots, unnecessary/cheap plastic surgery, prank war with another fraternity, finding out a parent has Alzheimer’s, and trying to move into a new apartment when you have no money or even friends to help you schlep your couch across town. Racially provocative facial tattoos should be avoided as well. 

Also, if you could keep the noise level down for the rest of the year, that’d be great: some of us drank a lot the other night. In fact, nobody even move right now, it’s making me dizzy. Just all of you hush up and hold your breath and stand very, very still. Ah, yes, this is the utopian future one dreams about—wait a second, did somebody fart? Jesus, it’s like 2008 all over again.

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Kick Off 2013 With a Killer Meal

Sure, the holidays came and you ate, and drank, and ate again, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t indulge on the last night of 2012. What better way to go out with a bang, than with a feast to ring in the New Year. 

Celebrate with South American flare at La Mar Cebichería Peruana, where the swank Peruvian eatery hosts a New Year’s Eve pisco party. For $40, slug pisco sours from the open bar in the upstairs lounge from 7pm to 2am, and dance to the live DJ. If you want to go for a ceviche-laden, four-course dinner, $135 gets you that, and the open bar.

For a French-themed New Year’s, the West Village brasserie La Villette offers four-course ranging from $49 to $185, depending if you want the early dinner seating or the Champaign fueled 9pm seating. Either way, you get lobster and scallop tartare, foie gras terrine, house-made tagliatelle with truffles, and filet mignon. They have an all-night liquor license so the party doesn’t end until 8am.

You can also get French in Brooklyn at the Vinegar Hill House. There, $80 gets you a four-course meal with choices including blood sausage with apple, wild boar with chestnut puree, pear salad with truffle, and crepes. For $100, you can have a Champaign toast and late dinner—DUMBO style. 

Carnivores rejoice, at Back Forty West you can get a meat-laden table with four-courses done family-style for $75. Try the 12-hour smoked lamb shoulder, cowboy steak, and whole baked sea bass.

If Thai is how you want to ring in the New Year, Harold Dieterle’s Kin Shop has an $85, three-course tasting menu with options including seared diver sea scallops with Szechuan peppercorns, braised beef short ribs with curry, and butter poached lobster with kaffir lime buerre blanc. Drinks not included.

Starting at $95, you can dine on a six or eight-course Mexican tasting menu at Empellon Cocina. Feast on chef Alex Stupak’s smoked chicken with Earl Grey mayonnaise and caviar or wild Norwegian Steelhead trout with mezcal butter, and be glad you can celebrate the New Year every year, and not just when the Mayans calendar claims it’s an important date.

Finally, for some party with your dinner, Swine in the West Village is hosting a glam rock and hair metal bash from 10:30 to 2am. The party features an open bar with era-appropriate punches, hors d’oeuvres, and a buffet. Naturally, pork will be the main star of the menu.