WTF: There’s a Brooklyn-Themed Bar in Manhattan 

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Photo via The Brooklyneer 

There’s an odd shift in the space-time continuum of New York City; rents are getting lower in some Manhattan neighborhoods while Whole Foods and Starbucks and even Ralph Lauren are popping up in Williamsburg. The cool edgy vibe of Kings County is slowly dissipating as more corporations see millennial money to be had. But that quintessentially hip, young Brooklyn vibe is still a draw. Just ask the owners of a Brooklyn-themed bar in Manhattan’s West Village.

“The Brooklyneer” as it’s called, is either some sort of weird social experiment, art installation, or just a really, really silly concept. Why waste literally dozens of minutes on the L train when you can enjoy all the trappings of Brooklyn in Manhattan? The menu is chock full of eye-roll inducing Brooklyn stereotypes like kombucha, craft beer and local liquors. We wouldn’t be surprised if the bartender wears a knit beanie all year round and has a mustache tattoo on the inside of his finger.

Is this supposed to be, to use a v. Brooklyn word, “ironic”? And even if it is ironic, there’s a weird Disney Land sense of hyperreality about this place that would make even Jean Baudrillard go bonkers.

Airbnb In Trouble With NYC Judge

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Somber news for visitors to New York who hate the hotel experience: Airbnb, a service by which a tenant not using their apartment for a few days can rent it out to another party, has run afoul of the “illegal hotel” law. That’s the one that forbids you to run a rogue bed-and-breakfast out of your closet, or, I guess, in any way profit from the space you are renting for residential purposes.

But wait. That only applies to short-term stays, for some reason? As in, Airbnb would theoretically only be an illegal renting system if it was used to arrange a stay of fewer than 29 days. Anything more than that—stay with us here—would essentially be subletting. So maybe the solution is to take longer vacations. Outside of that, it’s going to become quite difficult to borrow a stranger’s bedroom. 

It’s not entirely clear whom the judge is protecting with this ruling, sparked by a complaint from the New York City Department of Buildings, but I suppose Airbnb guests could be less likely to behave themselves if they don’t have to stay in the same place for a month. Back to Holiday Inn with you! They’re much more forgiving about stealing the towels, at least.

Follow Miles on Twitter here.  

Noah Baumbach Talks His Intensely Charming ‘Frances Ha’

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Woody Allen’s Manhattan ends with the final line: "You have to have a little faith in people." It’s a simple bit of dialogue, but entirely genuine and honest, holding a vast amount of emotional weight in its ease. Picking up where that sentiment left off is Noah Baumbach’s new film, the charmingly awkward black-and-white character study Frances Ha, whose leading lady stands out like a beacon of optimism, unwavering in her desire for more from life.

Throughout the last decade, modern meditations on post-collegiate ennui have become commonplace, but it’s rare to find a film that takes that tired convention and exposes it in a new light. Frances Ha not only reflects what it means to simply exist at that time in life and in that universe, but shows the beauty in the mistakes made along the way, underscoring the idea that just because something isn’t working doesn’t mean it’s broken. Baumbach has crafted a film that feels refreshing and contemporary yet harkens back to to such European cinematic masters as Francois Truffaut, Eric Rohmer, and Jean-Luc Godard in its casual essence, reminding us of what we love so much about the filmmaking of days past.
 
Co-written with the film’s brilliant and versatile star, Greta Gerwig, Frances Ha is infused with a unique magic that comes from a true meeting of minds. If you look back on Baumbach and Gerwig’s early work, it’s evident that the two are cut from the same cloth—both sharing an affinity for a particular kind of character’s journey, dealing with a sense of malaise as they meander through life, yet filled with a yearning for more. And whereas many of Baumbach’s film’s tend to err on the side of the misanthropic, Frances Ha is a film that makes you want to go out and engage in life. It’s an inspired and intelligent love letter to cinema that never stops moving while we follow the endearingly strange Frances as she dances from life to life.
 
At its core, Frances Ha is both a journey of self-discovery and a love story between best friends. With Gerwig’s frank yet tender touch, we see a realistic look at a fractured female friendship and the mourning that comes from feeling as though you’ve lost a part of yourself to someone else. "We’re like the same person but with different hair," says Frances of her best friend Sophie, who begins to drift apart after getting involved in a serious relationship. We see Frances caught in the wake of their relationship, but her spirited self never diminishes, only dulls for a moment before realizing her ambitions as a modern dancer and choreographer. As we wander with her through her days from Brooklyn to Chinatown to Paris, we begin to admire her boldness and realize that Baumbach cast a spell on us, making us fall in love with his star just as he did behind the camera.
 
Last week I got the chance to sit down with Baumbach to talk about his desire to showcase Gerwig’s talents, the inspiration engrained in the film, and the heroic moments of everyday life.
 
I’ve been a big fan of Greta’s for a while now. She can be so funny yet dramatic and has such great physicality. Did you know you wanted to make something that would play to all her abilities?
Yeah, that’s exactly what I wanted to do. We’d worked together before and I felt that she was all of those things. But I thought we could do something where she could be the center of the movie and showcase all that she could do.
 
As an admirer of your work, you can see what a similar sensibility you two share as writers as well. What was the initial collaboration process like—was it an easy merging of ideas?
Yeah, the writing came somewhat organically because I first approached her more as an actor. I asked if she’d want to act in something I directed but I wasn’t sure what that would be, so I asked her what she was thinking about, or things she thought could be in a movie about a 27-year-old in New York. She has such great ideas and thoughts and observations and was so funny, I felt immediately like this was a movie.
 
You started by writing emails back and forth?
We’d send the same document back and forth and I would respond and then she would and we’d rewrite. After a while the document started to take shape and we said, okay maybe it opens this way, and then after a while we started writing scenes.
 
With the love-letter-to-New York essence of the film, the music, and the black-and-white style, it would be easy for people to make a lot of Woody Allen or Manhattan allusions. Were you more influenced by Truffaut and Rohmer and the New Wave cinema that you love?
Yeah, and I always feel inspired by those guys—Truffaut and Rohmer—in all my movies. But somehow in this one the influence is clearer. There’s something about this material that it could hold a lot of potentially referential moments without them feeling heavy. There’s a moment when Frances is over for the first night with the guys and she’s saying goodbye to the girls, the three of them walk back into the room—when we shot it I realized it in the first take—and they’re all dressed so anthropologically right for now in New York City–one has a hat, one has a tie and sweeter, one has a dress—but they all look like they’re in a Godard movie. 
 
And the way they moved felt so choreographed, it was a magic little moment that everyone noticed and fell in love with.
Well, by take 900, that’s what you’re seeing in the movie, because I was like, oh we need to keep doing this over and over to get this walk right. And it looks so French but it was not deliberate. It was just engrained, it was in the air, in the style, and I think that was true for a lot of the movie. So in cases where I was aware of a music reference or something that I might be drawing upon, it also felt right for the milieu of the film. 
 
I loved the juxtaposition between Frances’ physical and mental state. Mentally she was so stalwart and unable to accept change, but physically she never stopped moving—whether that was literally in her dancing down the street or hopping from apartment to apartment.
We never articulated it but I think it was also baked into it. And the locations being chapters, that discovery informed so much because it said everything you’re saying but it also provided us with just a really great structure for the movie. And I think we were aware of all those things but leaving them somewhat unarticulated. 
 
The trip to Paris was one of my favorite moments because it felt entirely authentic. You make this grand gesture to do something out of the ordinary or go somewhere exciting to escape your problems or yourself but these things inevitably stay with you no matter where you go. 
That’s true, and I always liked the idea that what in another movie would have been the right thing at the right time, like she meets somebody or it would change her life, that it would be the exact opposite of that. 
 
She goes all the way to Paris and is late for Puss in Boots.
We had the Paris idea fairly early. But what made Paris and allowed us to keep it and put it in the film was discerning that Sophie would call her then. Initially it was just a funny idea but we needed to find the story there too. I think that helped land it for us.
 
With all your films you seem to want to expose the extraordinary details of everyday life in a way that we normally wouldn’t perceive them in our own memory—taking the slightest of moments and bringing out the tenderness or absolute sadness. As a director is that a theme you find yourself returning to?
I’m interested in how psychology becomes behavior. Takes Frances. What she accomplishes at the end of the movie, out of context, is relatively minor in that she takes a desk job and she finds an apartment. But in the context of the movie, it’s kind of heroic. And, to some degree, it’s always trying to find the context for these things, these little movements we make in life. Like the end of Greenberg, where he goes and picks her up at the hospital, this sort of little thing for these characters means a lot. I’m always thinking of those things as cinematic and big and I see no reason why they shouldn’t be.
 
Something I admired about Frances was that she wasn’t disillusioned. I feel like that’s something rare in the portrayal of women in New York nowadays. Even when things were at their worst she wasn’t depressive or bogged down. Rather, she understood that, okay for now this is the shitty situation I’m in, but it’ll pass. And because she didn’t use that disillusionment as a crutch, she was able to have her heroic ending.
And that was clear to me, that our job as filmmakers was to protect her because she was so open. I wanted to reward her too, because she was making these movements and I thought that the movie should reward her both with the cinema of the movie as we’re watching it, but also even in the ending. It always just felt very clear to me that she should get her moment.
 
Now, this might sound stupid, but there’s a Beckett quote that reminded me of the movie—
This sounds smart.
 
We’ll see. He says "That’s the mistake I made … to have wanted a story for myself whereas life alone is enough." And that reminded me of this because it seems by the end Frances learns that she can just live and be and especially in terms of her friendship with Sophie they have this story that they tell each other, and by the end they realize that their friendship can work but real life does get in the way.
I wish I had that Beckett quote handy in a lot of interviews because I’m always stumbling around trying to say that exact thing. That’s a really good one. I think that’s absolutely true.
 
How was it, for you, returning to these similarly aged and similarly-minded characters as that of Kicking and Screaming? Now that you’ve had more time to reflect on that period of your own life, how do you perceive this time different and what did Greta, being someone that age, bring to it?
Well Greta was really my entree into that age group. So I wanted the movie to be about her character. Although I had a different trajectory than Frances, when I was 27 or 28, that was the period—I didn’t know it at the time—but I was about to go through great change, sort of professionally but more significantly, emotionally and psychologically. I went through a transition at that time in my life and I think I let go of a lot of ideas I had for myself that I thought would be true, or ideas of how I thought I would be, and it was difficult.  It was heard to let go of those things. But I also think that life and in experience since then, is a return to those moments—you become more ware of them and there are other events that are clearer transitions. But all this is to say that I relate very strongly to that period in time and that age. So I didn’t think twice about it or think very consciously about it, it was more oh this is very interesting to me.
 
Having the star of your film as the co-writer, does that make being on set much easier because Greta knew Frances inside and out?
Yeah, although essentially it’s the same. For Greta, in the same way I’ve always co-written everything I’ve directed, there’s some compartmentalization that goes on when I go to direct my own script. I somehow always have trouble remembering the lines even. I almost have kind unconscious amnesia, while also knowing at the same time that I do know this material so well, but I never take that for granted. There are times when I’ve taken it for granted and realized, you know even though I wrote this, I need to actually dig deeper as a director and figure this out better. And Greta I think went through something similar, both as a writer and an actor. When she was in it, she was so present as an actor that she could forget lines just the way she could forget lines if she hadn’t written them. And she might take time to find a moment as she might anyway, and that was the best way for it to be because that’s what you want from an actor—you don’t want them too prepared. Or at least, I don’t anyway, I don’t like when actors have it figured out. I like to figure it out with them.
 
What really held the film together was this love story between Frances and her best friend. That’s rare to see in this sort of woman’s self-discovery movie. She has these small romantic possibilities, but they’re of no consequence, and when she finally has that magical moment she so desired, it’s with Sophie.
We were aware that the normal assumption might be when she has that monologue at the party about wanting this moment with someone, the audience assumption would be that this would be with a guy. So we knew that we were giving it to her and Sophie, and maybe that would be a pleasant surprise. But it really came in the best way, it came very organically out of the character and the age and that time, because that was the central relationship and the central friendship. So it felt like we had to follow that and really tell that story. Also, Frances as a character has these blinders on, and until this thing is worked out with Sophie—which really means until it’s worked out for herself—she’s not going to accept any other substitutes. That means no other relationships with men and no other friends. But that was just so much of the character, so it was like well, the character’s not going to allow a romance, so weren’t not gong to force one on her.

Cat Power Takes a Tour of ‘Manhattan’

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Cat Power’s latest album, Sun, was a sonic wonderland, and one of the best tracks was a love letter to her adopted home of New York City. Naturally, the second single from the album gets a lovely video. Watch as Chan Marshall roams the Manhattan streets by foot, by train, and by the roof of a car. There are a few amazing sights on display: the Apollo Theater in Harlem, Max Fish on the Lower East Side, a busker in the Union Square subway station, and even a Cat Power billboard. 

Follow Tyler Coates on Twitter.

Governor’s Ball Festival Returns to Randall’s Island With Kanye, Kendrick, More

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It’s freezing and gross in a considerable chunk of the country, which means it’s time to start thinking about summer, and with it, the crowded, drunken, heavily-Instagrammed bacchanalia that is the summer music festival. Your first major festival lineup announcement of 2013 happened today, in this case the third-annual Governors Ball Music Festival, which returns to its home on Randall’s Island June 7th, 8th and 9th. The biggest names on the flyer are Kanye West and Kings of Leon, as well as one blacked-out name to be revealed later (let the speculation begin!). The bulk of the bill features people whose albums you really liked last year, or whose albums you didn’t really like but maybe read about a lot on music blogs, including Japandroids, Kendrick Lamar, Grizzly Bear, the xx, Nas, Dirty Projectors, Best Coast, The Lumineers, Gary Clark Jr., Beach House, Azealia Banks and dozens of other year-end list luminaries. Like musical confetti made from cut-up Pazz & Jop ballots. 

Other notable names on the lineup include one of BlackBook’s Stars of 2013, HAIM, Swedish party starters Icona Pop, Erykah Badu, Feist, festival regular Pretty Lights, Wild Nothing, Fucked Up and Dillon Francis. Those less inclined to care about the music can find food courtesy of a few familiar trucks, including Asia Dog, Mexicue and Pie for the People. There is also ping-pong, croquet and bocce and something called a "Silent Disco," which seems to be on the bill at a lot of festivals and the impetus for some half-baked thinkpiece somewhere about the way we live and share music now. Tickets for the big festival thing go on sale this Friday at noon. 

Several top-rated tracks of 2012, including Kendrick Lamar’s "Backseat Freestyle" and Japandroids’ "The House That Heaven Built," soundtrack the Austin Peters-helmed lineup video, which features Jonathan Sollis and Fabrizio Goldstein strolling around New York in tuxes and dark sunglasses, on a neverending quest to make it rain. Watch.

Luke James Talks Writing Songs, the State of R&B, and ‘Whispers in the Dark’

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Fresh off his packed-house performance at SOB’s in New York, and in the glow of his recently and readily downloadable, smooth-operated mixtape Whispers in the Dark, Luke James is not just your next R&B heartthrob: he’s suited up to be one of the next great masterminds of music with both production and singing talents in spades. As "Who Is Luke James" is the seducing veneer of his internet presence (follow him on Twitter at @whoislukejames), you’ll be well advised to directly listen to his incandescent collection of abundant affection, compassion, and empathy for the open-hearted.

I talked to James about the making of what you’re about to hear, his take on the state of R&B, movies that remain influential to his craft and how James wishes to be understood as a kind of Prince the Redeemer for the forgotten sake of letting love rule for the new year and in later days. (And to reiterate again, ladies, he is a dreamboat.)

I did a little research and I came across the fact that you were a songwriter before you launched your solo career. I was curious to know what were some of your favorite songs you’ve written for other people? Like you almost wished you kept that song for yourself!
I loved the Justin Bieber song "That Should Be Me" that I co-write with The Messengers. Great record. I dealt with the song, so naturally it was a great feeling. And it kind of felt like something I would want to do as an artist myself. There’s one I did with Chris Brown: "Crawl." Love that one. And the song I did with Tank off of his latest album, "This I How I Feel." It has a really good vibe.

So you are Grammy-nominated this year! I wanted to know, how does it honestly feel like to be nominated. Keep it real! Are you truly happy just to be recognized, or do you really just want to win?
I’m thrilled to be acknowledged, especially for this gift and this talent I’ve been working so hard on. To be acknowledged and be seen as a vocalist and performer, and to be in a category of Best Male R&B Performance, is awesome, and especially by the Grammy committee—that’s the height of our music business. It’s awesome.

And specifically for a song that the fans online have been referring to as a "panty-dropping" single! I read comments and the female fan base is just growing. They seem to really appreciate and adore your appreciation of women all-around.
Wow! I’ll definitely try to keep that going!

Tell us more about the album title Whispers in the Dark. It’s enigmatic enough to lead someone to think, "Well, what does he mean by that?" But also, it makes sense in that if you’re in the dark, you’re not trying to make a lot of sense—most likely—so, it can be interpreted quite a few ways.
Well, Whispers in the Dark is a line I used in a song I have on my official album, and the song is basically like, “Whispers in the dark tend to you call you where you are.” Put it like this: at night, I deal with my demons, whatever that is, good or bad, and it’s usually those voices you hear that make you recognize them; they’re calling you. I’m speaking from personal experience, but I feel like other people can relate to having those voices in your head and usually that happens when you’re alone, and that nighttime. That kind of vibe and of the unknown. You can’t see what’s there. [Laughs] Does that make sense?

Yeah, yeah it does! And I figured that, too. I just wanted to hear from you directly on and from the album’s perspective. I had my own idea?
And what was that?

Whispers in the Dark to me meant… just a very secretive moment whether with yourself or with someone, and you wouldn’t necessarily mind getting caught, either. And it doesn’t have to something physical that is happening. Just in the sense that someone just caught you; someone could potentially catch you.
Well, that’s exactly right! There are so many different ways of taking it. People always ask me about my music, “What do you want people to take from it?” It’s whatever makes them happy. Whatever feels good to them. As long as they take something.

That definitely leads to the next question, and it’s kind of a two-parter. I did see the video for "Make Love to Me," which I enjoyed and I peeped that Kelly Rowland cameo! But from watching it, I knew I wanted to ask you: do you consider yourself an old soul? While watching it, I was thinking, this is some Gerald Levert, Barry White, with a little bit of Marvin Gaye, and you kind of remind me of Prince, too.
I’ll take that!

And I thought of that because it’s not like today’s contemporary R&B where—and this is where the second part comes in—everyone seems to have an opinion on the state of R&B. Trey Songz said this; I interviewed Ne-Yo about it and he said it lacked soul; but when I was watching your video, you’re modern, but you also seemed to be harkening back to the greatness of traditional R&B, and I was just wondering about your thoughts on that. 
I pride myself on feeling. I can’t do it if I can’t feel it and I guess that exhibits through me. My thing is if I feel it, people can feel it. Also, I’m from New Orleans, and you’ll meet a lot of people of New Orleans, everybody from people we know like Lil Wayne to everyone else, that’s just the way people are raised. The way that city is, that part of town. It’s a very laid-back, soulful kind of place and I think naturally, that’s just how we are, I’m not the only one; it’s the upbringing. I’m surrounded by older people. I was just put on to a lot of things a lot of classic music early on and I guess it just came a part of me. That’s just how people are from New Orleans. And I also just really respect classic, great music of the past. They really laid out the foundation for actual feeling and in giving yourself completely without repercussions. It’s just saying, "I’m hurting." And people want to hear that.

And the state of R&B… I feel like you can’t judge art. Everybody has an interpretation. And this is a business. People got families to feed. So if you’re not buying the organic-feeling songs that everybody professes they want, but they’re not supporting it and want to freeload on, you can’t get mad at that person for switching to something sellable for the moment at least because it is a business. If you buy that kind of music, people will make what I like to call those personal songs. And when creating them, you’re taking a chance because not everybody’s going to play it, but in actuality, everybody cries. But I guess radio, and the labels, they aren’t willing to give it a chance. People haven’t been supporting that in the past. It takes a whole union of people to do it. One person can’t do it alone. One person can’t be speaking some knowledge and then other people are just trying to have a good time. Everybody has to be on the same, be promoting the same feeling. Let’s make music that you can feel and they will. Let’s say or teach somebody something. What’s going on? Let’s actually talk about what’s going on aside from the club. There’s life after the club.

Do you feel your music is more sexual, sensual, or atmospheric? How would you describe it?
It’s very emotional. Highs and lows. Ups and downs. I like "sensual." "Sexual" seems so physical. But I do think it’s a little bit of both. The mental, it’s soulful, and can be a physical thing. I would love for anyone listening to my music to start [feeling it] on the inside.

As for the songs on the mixtape, which ones were difficult to create? Or took a lot out of you emotionally?
The song "Oh God." I had that song, that composition from Danja. He had produced it. I had to live with it. When I first heard it, I had a structure, melody, and hook idea. But it just wasn’t happening for me and I had to put it back in the oven. Just wait for it to come to me. And one day I went back into the booth, and did it. It was tough.

And now a common question. What can we look forward to from you next year in 2013?
Oh, man! Hopefully a lot more Luke James! I am still working on the project [my debut LP]. Everyday, everyday. I’m learning something new, so I’m just going to keep recording until the official release date. Keep promoting myself and hopefully join this new movement of great music and new faces that are coming and just helping music transition to a more beautiful place where everyone is somewhat pleased. I’m also getting into acting and hopefully that will be something that will jump off.

TV or film first?
I would love to do film.

What are some of your favorite movies?
Mo’ Betta Blues. The Lost Boys. Purple Rain. Glory. I like different genres of movies. I like Manhattan by Woody Allen. I love his movies because they’re kind of cerebral. He’s almost like a contrast to Spike Lee, yet I find their films similar.

Both often based in New York City…
I like Spike Lee movies too. That’s where I’m at.

Is there a genre of music that you haven’t toyed with and experimented with yet and would like to? Because again, from the video and mixtape, I was thinking it was jarring to me—in a good way—how it sounded so different from stuff I hear today and it’s why I compared you to those legends. And I thought, "I wonder if he would ever do a song with David Guetta?"
With the music, I always want to take it to another level. Another foundation. It’s got to be like a dream. Where else can you take it? That’s how I want my music to feel. I like a vibe, and I don’t care if it takes seven minutes long to express it. It’s music. So, I don’t know… maybe alternative. I like to think of my music as classic R&B with the alternative and spiritual. I merge those things. Like Coldplay has a lot of soul. You can tell those boys went to church. Those songs just take you somewhere. Those chords, and how Chris [Martin] sings certain lines and what they say. And I just think my interpretation is all of that. I think everything I love you hear it in the music. And when the actual album comes out, you’ll hear more of where I want to go.

Last, last question! You touched on this earlier, but possibly explain more. What do you want your female fans—and male fans, too—to get from you?
One thing I want to say is that it’s OK to feel. We live in such a numb world, but it’s still a feeling because we know it’s numb. We fight it, but it’s OK to express your feelings and know what you want. Go for it. Life is too short to not fully live. I’m learning how to be in the moment and just say like, "Wow. I’m nominated for a Grammy. This is awesome." To really bask in it instead of being like, "OK. Nominated for a Grammy. What’s the next thing?" I’m trying to hold in on my feelings and become one with it. So, if I had anything to say to both the guys and the girls is that it’s OK to feel. It’s OK to rock side to side and say, "Oh my God, I love this." It’s OK to scream. At shows, people can be so uptight! And I move around a lot because I get so into my music. But also, I’m hoping I can help you guide your way out of that very thing you’ve been used to, to this new thing that is not really new. You expressed yourself when you were a child. You weren’t afraid to cry and express your feelings. Now that you’re older, we have this tough skin so we don’t show anyone we’ve got feelings. We’re human. And once people become more humanized, the world will be a better place, more full of love. If that makes any sense. Let’s make this fun again. Have fun, dammit!

The Top NYC Bars To Hook Up With Hipsters

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How does it feel to tear off someone’s skin-tight lycra shorts and mismatched striped socks? Are coffee-guzzling, liberal arts majors better at talking dirty? What’s a hipster’s morning-after go-to spot ? If you cannot answer any of the above questions, it’s time you consult our list of the Top NYC Bars To Hook Up With Hipsters. This is a species that travels in packs, and where there’s one, there’s many. We are confident you will find lots of single, attractive, and nimble hipsters here.

Follow Bonnie on Twitter here.

Seasonal Small Plates Take a Trip to Chelsea by Way of Willow Road

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Located right in front of the High Line in the old John Dory space, Chelsea residents can now rejoice over the opening of Willow Road, a brand new “gastrobar” that offers craft cocktails and, as is the food fashion of the day, rustic, seasonal small plates.

"We are incredibly excited to be located in Chelsea, it’s such a vibrant and creative neighborhood,” said Will Malnati, who co-owns the restaurant with Doug Jacob. “We’re offeringa more elevated casual spot with a great vibe that people can enjoy throughout the day, and we really want it to be a neighborhood place with a focus on food."

Chef Todd Macdonald, formally of the now closed Cru and Clio in Boston, runs the kitchen and turns out flavorful twists on American classics including fried chicken with jerk seasoning, lamb sliders with sumac aioli, mussels with kumquat butter, and macaroni and cheese laced with lemon, sausage, and fennel pollen.

The bar side of the gastro is run by mixologist Greg Seider, a partner at Summit Bar who has also turned out cocktails at Minetta Tavern and Le Bernardin, before settling here to make up the drinks menu, which included tipples like the Japanese Old Fashioned with Yamazaki 12.

The space pays homage to the old Nabisco Factory that occupied it oh-so-many years ago, and includes a giant neon sign sporting the old slogan for Triscuit crackers, “Baked by Electricity.” Subway tiles and exposed brick give it an urban-rustic feel, and the large cartoonish mural of Chelsea by James Gulliver Hancock helps complete the ode to the neighborhood.

Drink Down The Election At These New York Establishments

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It’s hard to believe the election is already upon us. Yes, today is the day we find out if President Barack Obama will be reelected, or if we will be stuck with a guy and his binder full of women. Eh, either way, drinking and feasting is in order and here is where to do it.

What better place to celebrate our democratic nation than in the historical building where Abraham Lincoln was photographed for the image you see on the five-dollar bill? That’s right, The Vault at Pfaff’s has organized an election viewing party from 6pm to 2am. Choose your party with the Red State or Blue State menu featuring fun cocktails, New England lobster rolls, mini Boston cream pies, and Chicago-style hot dogs.

If you bring your “I Voted” sticker to Pete’s Candy Store in Williamsburg, they will hand you a nice cold, “Yes We Can” can of beer. Plus, in case you don’t want to bite your nails watching the election coverage, they will be hosting a variety show at 8pm, followed by the band Luego at 9:30pm.

Also in Brooklyn, hit up The Bell House for their Raging Election: 2012 Election Viewing Party that features aptly named drinks like Coke & Rumney and the Bahamobama Mama. The South African restaurant Madiba in Fort Greene also has some fun cocktails like the Obama Mama, just make sure you are an Obama fan, they make no room for others.

At Brooklyn Winery, they don’t have wisecracking beverages, but starting at 7pm they are taking $10 off bottles and carafes of their house wines, plus a special election night menu. Mission Dolores too rocks election night with a sour beer tasting and benefit for Red Hook Initiative.

Hecho en Dumbo, which is actually in Manhattan, is screening the political action on their 12-foot screen and will have happy hour pricing all night. Aside from $7 margaritas and $5 draft beers, they will also offer small bites. Bonus,100 percent of sales tonight will be donated to the Brooklyn Recovery Fund,

Vegans too can get in on food, drink, and politics at the Super Vegan election party at Fontana’s in the Lower East Side, which includes sweets from Dun-Well Doughnuts and savory nibbles by Chickpea & Olive.

Finally, at 8pm The Westway hosts the Downtown 4 Democracy party with plenty of drink specials, a jumbo screen to watch CNN coverage, and a call center so that if you get drunk and angry enough, you can start ringing swing states. Fingers crossed it doesn’t come to that.