Written by None - Do not Delete on . Posted in Best of Manhattan, Posts.



169 Calyer St. (betw. Lorimer St. & Manhattan Ave.)


Most 24-hour gyms in New York fall into one of two categories: the clean, well-lit, namby-pamby juice bar variety used primarily for preening by rich girls and anonymous steam room sex by rich guys, or the dark, dingy storefront iron factories used primarily for pre-prison bulking up and selling steroids out of the supply closet. Luckily, the head-scratchingly named OTOM provides a happy medium. The clientele is as mixed as the neighborhood, with pale hipsters waiting patiently for massive Polish locals to finish with the machines. Nowhere else in the city can you learn new Eastern European cuss words simply by keeping your ears open when the crews of shaved-headed, swollen-armed, but unfailingly polite Polish guys are maxing out on the bench. The morning crowd is older, the evening crowd is younger, and the 2 a.m. crowd is no crowd at all. The staff is racially diverse, but the TVs always show sports and the sound system is always pumping club anthems. If that doesn’t keep you focused on the post-workout pierogi, nothing will. 


A & A Plumbing


It’s 3 a.m. and a pipe bursts, waking you from the best mouth-drooling sex dream ever. What now? Well, you could wait and see if the flooding stops on its own, or you could talk to an operator at A & A Plumbing. She probably won’t talk dirty to you, but she does have the hook-up when it comes to finding a plumber in your area. Give her a few minutes to locate someone who can arrive ASAP. A & A Plumbing services all boroughs—well, their plumbing needs, anyway. And while they may not dispatch a Mike-Delfino-look-alike, they can certainly snake your pipes (nope, that’s not dirty talk either) so you can get back to that fantasy involving your neighbor and a jar of jam. Visits start at $95; time, parts and dirty talk all extra.


Bus Stop

116th St. & Broadway 

(in front of Ollies near Columbia)

Until this crazy city realizes that bus stops could use some cork and pushpins, they will endure as virtual retailers, serving their communities in a scotch-taped survival of the fittest. So how to unload or where to find that extra-large hand-painted Japanese porcelain vase with lid? We’re not saying the Columbia bus stop is the biggest bulletin board in the city, but size isn’t everything. As George Ross explains to the losing team on The Apprentice, it’s all about one thing: location, location, location! Columbia never fails to disappoint; there are housing sublets, dog walkers, bric-a-brac, rallies, orchestras, massages and a sprinkling of the requisite specialized and glamorous (like the Samurai fire-ring juggling class). And we’ll say it: Columbia students have money to burn, their mattresses are better and they’re transient, making their ads reliable and worth the fare uptown. 


21st Century Pest Elimination

1170 Broadway (betw. 27th & 28th Sts.)


I’m sitting on the sofa, calmly enjoying some brainless TV after another arduous day at the office when something dark darts across my peripheral vision. Shit! Those nasty little buggers. After repeatedly using the buildings’ free (and quite useless) exterminator service and smashing runaway roaches myself, there is the mother of all roaches scurrying across my floor—the three-inch water bug roach. That’s it. In between barfing and screaming at the sight of this monster, I hired 21st Century Pest Elimination. For $195, they came to my apartment the very next day, found the source of the problem and blissfully left me roach free in under an hour. Since those roaches are resilient little suckers, the company offers an initial three-month guarantee, so if at any point during that period you need their services again, it’s free of charge.


Rainbow Nails IV

4214 Broadway (betw. 42nd & 43rd Sts.)


Who can turn down a $6 manicure? (And guys, it’s only $7 for you.) Yes, Rainbow Nails is sketchy; we had second thoughts after we remembered our raging hangnails. But, hey, we have to take risks sometimes. Forget that whole Paula Abdul bacterial infection fiasco. We’ve never really understood the fine ghetto sport of nail art. Nevertheless, Rainbow is the place to abandon your fingernail virginity or just wallow in your sleazy habit. The prices almost make us feel bad. Do we make up the difference by leaving a big tip? Er, we’ll do that next time. True, we passed several identical-looking nail salons on our jaunt down Broadway, but none have a giant neon rainbow in the front window and can airbrush a couple embracing in front of a tropical sunset on your two-inch acrylics. 



Hayden-Harnett, two Brooklynites make the cutest duo with the hippest designs for handbags and more. Their website tells you what they’re into these days, and then when they add you to their family of customers, you’ll want to spend Thanksgiving with them. Their leather is buttermilk, and the colors ignite feelings of being in a bazaar, in a past life, while doing important work with your one true love.


Green Apple Cleaners

244 5th Ave. (betw. 27th & 28th Sts.)


One of the best things about living in New York is the convenience of it all. Try to walk three blocks, we challenge you, without running smack dab into a dry cleaners. But with so many options, how do you choose? Imagine a dry cleaner that allows you to set up an online account 24 hours a day. Now imagine your clothes being picked up and delivered within 48 hours, with options like hand-wash and line-dry. Think of how good it would feel to have your clothes dry cleaned using CO2, an environmentally friendly method that leaves clothes cleaner, softer and smelling fresher than those done in the toxic chemicals used by your current dry cleaners. Starting October 1st, Green Apple Cleaners will make these dreams a reality, offering their services at neighborhood prices. Well, tickle us green; we can’t wait to get dirty. 


NYU may be he first choice among the stars when it comes to university schooling in the city, but for local weed heads, it looks like the institution is gaining a fairly significant reputation. Standing at just five feet tall, 18-year-old NYU student Julia Diaco was busted about a year ago for allegedly selling marijuana, cocaine, acid and hallucinogenic mushrooms to undercover cops. Operating from her dorm room at Hayden Hall, right on the side of the pleasant environs of Washington Square Park, Diaco did her impression of Scarface and is said to have racked up a huge clientele before being snitched on by one of the school’s resident geeks. After cutting a deal to avoid a possible 25-year jail term, Diaco decided to use her new found infamy to launch a rap career. On her new website ( Diaco can be seen in a number of sexy poses showing off her non- hallucinogenic assets. The lesson here is, if you’re going to endeavor to become the drug queenpin of your local university, it pays to be nice to the geek crowd, even if you’re hot. 


Katie’s Kitty 

170 East 83 Street


In a true insanely wealthy society, our best friends are treated well, and why shouldn’t our loyal furry friends station their beastly derrieres in correctly proportioned recliners, in sofas free of last year’s lumps? That’s why Katie’s Kitty is an oasis every well-heeled dog and cat deserves.  Face it, if our city is going to the dogs, we might as well offer them the synergist compliment they deserve; a little R&R after the hustle bustle of the streets, and excuuuse us, the escalating social anxieties of the dog run. 


Jewel News

Union Square (at 16th St. & Union Square West)

Wandering drunk and stoned through Union Square at 3 a.m. can mean having to get a little creative to fulfill your munchie fix before heading back to your Brooklyn digs via the L. But scrounge no more, for Jewel News, the 24-hour newsstand located at 16th and Union Square West, is the answer to all of your hazy-eyed, salt-craving needs. Not only can you pick up the Vanity Fair with Suri on the cover, but the stand also offers Gatorade to hydrate that desert forming in your mouth, a variety of cigarettes to keep that nicotine flowing and condoms for that drunken hookup that you know you’ll regret in the morning. And just in case you want to get a little freaky with that special someone whose name you have already forgotten since you left the bar together, this gem of a newsstand also sells disposable cameras. 


Channel 7’s “Eyewitness News” has always been the go to broadcast for locals looking for a New York intensive report with high production value. Over the years the show gave us old wrinkled guys like Harry Reasoner and Bill Beutel back when news was all about “the voice of God” credibility. Then, as the city went through it’s David Dinkins phase, the show became more diverse, eventually leading to Roz “I don’t know why my eyes are bugging out all the time, but I’m excited!” Abrams. When it turned out that Abrams wasn’t the next Oprah they thought she would be, the station started the musical chairs all over again. Now in the age of celebrity obsession, where even “Charlie Rose” and “60 Minutes” regularly interview vapid movie stars, “Eyewitness News” obviously felt they had to step their game up … and boy did they ever. Liz Cho joined the team a couple of years ago, and since taking the anchor chair alongside Bill Ritter, she just seems to get hotter and hotter every day. Although we still don’t know exactly what the hell is going on with her hair, staring into those I-could-eat-you-alive-eyes every day at 6 p.m. is just the shot of eye candy needed after enduring the slubs of New York City all day. 


M&V Limousines Ltd.


A person’s propensity to rent a limo is usually inversely proportional to his or her actual social status. Size is also a correlation: If you’re the type of person who believes that a stretch Hummer is the height of high living, you are probably a a bridge-and-tunnel troglodyte on the make. If, on the other hand, you’d rather ride in a vintage 1930 Pierce-Arrow limousine, you are probably a rich snob or at least in possession of extraordinary taste. Everyone in the world falls somewhere with this dynamic, and M&V Limos caters to lowlifes and snobs alike. The service offers classically cool Cadillacs and Packards, standard limos for howling prom goers and huge Party Buses that are probably covered with the semen of thousands of cheering strippers on their way to Atlantic City. M&V will take you to Shea or Yankee Stadium, Six Flags, or any other damn place in the whip of your choice. Even if you’re a dirtball, there is still a way to remain classy in Manhattan. 


Indigo Experiences


Feel like all you leave a party with is a hangover? Then book your next celebration with Indigo Experiences, which promises dynamic, enriching events—including private wine tastings at Café Gray, fashion shows with Bellinis at Barneys, after-hours Guggenheim Museum tours and art lessons (nudes included!). Choose from four event categories: arts, fashion, inner peace and personal and professional growth. Owner Holly Arnowitz arranges for experts—including clairvoyants, beauty stylists, artists and sommeliers—to teach new skills while helping revelers discover more about themselves and each other. (More of a loner? Ask about the one-on-one sessions.) Largely dependent on food and alcohol picks, costs start at $100 a head. OK, so you’re not going to score blackmail photos of your friends with strippers, but you might want to ask yourself why you want those in the first place. 


Town Shop

2273 Broadway (betw. 81st & 82nd Sts.)


The soft pink dressing rooms full of scantily clad women trying on lingerie at Town Shop may sound like an adolescent boy’s fantasy, but it’s really every girl’s fantasy. One of a few in a rapidly dying breed, Town Shop offers trained specialists in the art of bra fitting at your disposal. Swept into a dressing room, the two of you can discuss your wildest fantasies (a strapless number for your double Ds) or deepest, darkest secret (a padded bra for your barely bloomed tah-tahs). Standing half-naked with a woman adjusting your bra straps may not sound like much fun, but being akin to swimsuit shopping, the biggest reward is finding something stylish and flattering that fits perfectly. Best of all, quick and friendly service is the only kind they know how. With a knowledgeable eye, their specialist can dispense a bra to you quicker than your lover can rip it off with his (or her) teeth. 


Casey Rubber Stamps

322 E. 11th St. (betw. 1st & 2nd Aves.) 

Keeping track of all of those people you are dating has never been easier; stamp your latest fling onto your calendar with a customized rubber made by John C. Casey’s Casey Rubber Stamps. It may not be the sort of rubber that keeps crabs away, but you can invest in a hip crab stamp for the same price as one of those other rubbers without the risk of the itch. If your social calendar isn’t filled, head down to Casey’s where you can check out the coolest in retro stamps and rub shoulders with the jolly owner himself. His hip personal vibe keeps the mundane Wal-Mart crowd away and caters to those eccentric artsy types. Hipsters are welcome, but generally are too busy at the local vintage shops and tattoo parlors to take the time to pick up a rubber. Ink and lubricant not included.


Dr. Chris Koultukis

315 W. 57th St. Suite 308 (betw. 8th & 9th Aves.)


Most of us know that assembly line feeling: the old in-and-out in 15 minutes, a hefty crack and “NEXT!” But when your back is ailing, your neck goosed, your knees knocking, or worse—an organ is ornery—Dr. Chris Koultukis is the man to see. Dr. K (pronounced ko-took-kiss, or ‘ko! took his,’ or ‘yo: touckis’) can be located at
3 p.m. in the sundial that is Columbus Circle. His patients call him “The Wizard” because of his integrated healing techniques and his intuitive ability to read the blueprint of your body. Submit to a medley of acupuncture, Moxa Bustion (burning an herb on the tip of the needle, or directly onto your body), massage, alignment and Chinese herbs (mixed on the premises). He even makes his own creams and cosmetics in his kitchen back in Riverdale, grooving to the barges floating down the Hudson as extra-virgin sesame oils flown in from Istanbul mix with Chinese rosehips. It doesn’t get more emollient than this.


Charisma Arts


“What’s your sign?” “Have we met before?” Give us a break. As open as we are to having a nice drink with an even nicer guy, most women put their foot down at the first sign of a dried up pick-up line that our fathers used back in ’76. Women want confidence, charisma and a dash of charm. For those men in need of a review (or a first lesson) in the art of seduction, Charisma Arts offers an intense three-day “Charm School Boot Camp.” With a comprehensive curriculum that includes conversational skills, body language and storytelling techniques, students, along with their coaches, head to bars, lounges and bookstores to develop these skills in the real world. The next time you see the love of your life alone at the bar sipping Amaretto Sour, take Charisma Arts’ advice and check the canned lines and the tired stories at the door.


Blue Water Flowers Inc.

256 Lafayette St. (betw. Prince & Spring Sts.)


We’re not suggesting a pow-wow with Morticia Adams but a conversation with Cupid might just be in order for some of the more jaded New Yorkers out there. The next time a little minx takes aim at your heart, do not second guess yourself. Instead, reach for your credit card and send flowers to your object of desire. Trust us, a bouquet from Blue Water will have your darling thanking you all night long. Truly amazing, these arrangements magically hold their color for what seems like an eternity and take forever to wilt. It is as if they subsist entirely on Miracle Grow or some other magical (genetically engineered?) potion. And just in case you were wondering, the best reason to send flowers is still for no reason at all.

BEST Aerobic striptease workout

S Factor

239 W. 23rd St. (betw. 7th & 8th Aves.)


This place is designed for women with no professional stripper aspirations, just a sense of humor and a desire to learn. It’s a pole dancing class that’s all about empowerment and taking the sleaze out of strip tease at this growing empire—imported from Los Angeles (where all good Phys. Ed. trends are born). It is a winning combination of supreme candles, spa-like interiors, perfectly low lights, great music, no nudity and no mirrors! As one teacher said, “Everybody looks good on a pole.” Or as Confucius once said, “The woman who climbs up the pole is not the same woman who climbs down the pole.” Crunch for crunch, the workout rivals serious Pilates, and one intro class will leave you aspiring to reach the highest rung—level seven. Just think, one day that coveted black G-string with rhinestones will be yours.


The Canine Ranch

452A Columbus Ave. (betw. W. 80th & 81st Sts.)


Let’s face it, if you are living in New York City, chances are that your humble abode is, well, pretty humble. So, after a hard day’s work to finance your small sanctuary, you want nothing more than to feel loved, get kisses, and, oh hell, even slobbered on. You need a puppy, but the problem is that from the moment Fido arrives, your pooch won’t shut up. No worries. The Canine Ranch is ready to educate you and your new pet on manners. Group classes are taught during six-week intervals, and private lessons are accommodated upon request. All different needs are catered to in this puppy friendly penthouse, including tricks and agility classes for advanced students. Also, to ensure successful mingling among peers, small dog socialization classes are offered for a nominal fee. Just be sure your dog’s shots are up to date; if not, this door is tougher than Cain.

Best High-End Bargain Shopper’s Row

The strip of Broadway bordering Soho and Little Italy (outlined by Houston St. to the north, Canal St. to the south, Crosby St. to the east and Mercer St. to the west) has quickly become a wild west street filled with every retailer brave enough to tackle the massive crowds that converge on the area every day. What some may have missed is the growth of the high-end bargain shopper shops inexorably sprouting up. You’ve got Daffy’s, Old Navy, H&M and now the king of the bunch making its grand entrance from Tokyo, Japan, Uniqlo. What all this means for places like Bloomingdales and Armani Exchange is unclear, but what is certain is that Soho has a new mall and nobody even noticed when it arrived. 

Best way to keep from looking like k-fed

New York Image Consultant, Stylist Amanda Sanders


Life’s too short to look like a slob when you’re stepping out to McDonald’s with your baby mama. We know you think you look good, but some things are best left to professionals. Amanda Sanders, personal stylist with New York Image Consultant, will set you straight. From gentle prodding to physically hauling your wife-beaters and “dressy” do-rags to the curb, Sanders promises tough love for your image. She’s styled Gwyneth and Chris Rock, so a makeover to resemble Gary Busey is unlikely (K-Fed, we can only dream). Please, for the sake of the rest of us who have to look at your sorry ass, give her a call. Be warned that style doesn’t come cheap; Sanders’ rates start at $250 an hour. We’re too comfortable in our velour running suits and Payless deck shoes for all that, but you need this, man. 


Written by None - Do not Delete on . Posted in Best of Manhattan, Posts.


Brooklyn Vet when Hope is Slim

Animal Kind

365 7th Ave. (betw. 11th & 12th Sts.), 718-832-3899

on doggie heaven’s door. Since our first visit, we’d been telling
people to take their pets to Animal Kind if at all possible. For, all the times
we’d been there, we never found the staff, from top to bottom, to be anything
less than kind, helpful and straightforward. They clearly loved what they were
doing, and did their damnedest to help these animals. We received regular updates
on our pet’s condition, and were allowed to visit every day (a rarity,
we’ve found). We even saw the vets pull off a miracle or two, saving animals
who didn’t have a chance.

why early this year, when there simply were no miracles left for one of our
cats, we were relieved to have a place like Animal Kind around. They did what
they could to keep him going, but when it was clear his time was nearly up,
they called us and, instead of talking about putting him to sleep in a cold
and sterile room, told us to bring him home, keep him comfortable and give him
whatever he wanted to eat.

He died
later that night. We were there, and he was in his favorite spot. If he had
to go, there was no better way for it to happen. The following morning when
we carried his body back to Animal Kind to arrange for the cremation, the doctors
came out to express their condolences, as did the vet techs who’d taken
care of him in the past—even the receptionists helped us—and we knew
they were all sincere.

Not only
did they handle the arrangements with the care normally afforded a family member,
the doctor who’d cared for him even sent along a personal sympathy card
a few days later. They went way above and beyond, and made everything so much
easier than it would normally have been. We’ve heard countless horror stories
about local animal hospitals over the years, but Animal Kind was a godsend.

Side Effects

Effexor XR

Happy happy,
joy…oh crap. We were half-awake when the radio announcer enumerated our
worst fears: anorexia, constipation, dizziness, ejaculation problems, impotence,
insomnia, nausea, nervousness, sleepiness, sweating, weakness…

We turned
down the volume, thought happy thoughts and went back to sleep.

The next
morning, there it was again on 1010WINS: an advertisement for Effexor XR, the
latest miracle drug that “may help get you back to feeling the way you used
to-before the symptoms of depression started to interfere with your life.”

an incomplete list of possible Effexor XR side effects, according to the manufacturer’s

anxiety, confusion, diarrhea, dizziness or vertigo, dry mouth, fasciculation
(muscle twitching), headaches, hypomania, impaired coordination, insomnia, loss
of appetite, nausea, nervousness, nightmares, sensory disturbances (including
electric shock sensations), somnolence (sleepiness), tiredness, tremor, unpleasant
mood, vomiting.”

Thanks anyway,
but we’ll stick with the depression.

Place to Get Cool Old Videos

(at a Personal Price)

The Playpen

693 8th Ave. (betw. 43rd & 44th Sts.), 212-582-8275

Bring the
kids! We’re at the back of the Playpen porn shop, avoiding the eyes of
the live girls while checking out the mainstream VHS tapes stocked to meet the
city’s obscenity laws. We’re happy to find a copy of Absolute Beginners,
but there’s no price tag. Considering that everything else on the shelves
is $8.99, we’ve got a bad feeling. We walk up to the clerk, he confirms
that our planned purchase is also $8.99, and we show our usual pained expression
when something we want is slightly overpriced.

upstairs,” the clerk helpfully notes, “are only $4 and $5.”

we say, and head up the stairs to the side—before noticing the big pink
neon lettering that proudly announces we’re approaching “The Male Box.”

We lean
back down the stairs, catch the clerk’s attention, wave our copy of Absolute
: “Um, these kinds of videos?”

And, yes,
it’s a wonderful cache of these kinds of videos—by which we mean cool
films on VHS that you haven’t seen available in years. It’s certainly
true that those stairs lead up to a bank of peep-show booths where a bunch of
guys are nervously milling about. First, however, you reach a mezzanine full
of great finds like Brewster McCloud, The House that Dripped Blood,
the complete Vice Academy line of sexploitation comedies and other films that
you’ve completely forgotten that you’re waiting to get on DVD.

also a bizarre mix of rarities that you haven’t seen since that Mom &
Pop chain went out of business back in 1989. Thrill to Rachel Hunter’s
exercise video from 1989. Marvel at the entire infamous Genesis video line of
lame exploitation schlock—including the impossibly cheap Invasion from
the Inner Earth
. Many of them are factory-sealed.

And, no,
the film geeks haven’t yet scooped up all the good stuff. They’re
too insecure about their sexuality to dare risk being caught on the steps leading
up to the Male Box. We, of course, have no such qualms. Just as we’re not
afraid to hold the clerk to his word when he tries to charge us $9 for a copy
of Wonderland Cove we find up there.

Garden Supply

Saifee Hardware & Garden

114 1st Ave. (7th St.), 212-979-6396

Back to
Eden. The one thing we miss about our suburban childhood is the backyard. Nothing
fancy. Just some open air, a little Weber grill, maybe a patch of garden. But
at the price of such things in these five boroughs, we may as well have held
our breath for Katharine Hepburn to name us in her will. One more summer of
vacuuming the petrochemical soot off our barren windowsills would have been
too depressing for words, so we took it upon ourselves to go out and get that
little plot of earth, even if meant buying it by the bag.

It turned
out that Saifee, a corner store in the East Village, would have everything we
needed: containers, potting mixes, seeds, bulbs, growlights, windowbox brackets,
hanging baskets, even non-toxic pesticide soaps (those tiny spidermites are
the bane of indoor gardeners, we’ve since learned). We stuck to reasonable
crops, like basil, mint and chilli peppers, and we invested some time. And holy
crap—all of it grew, and it’s stuff we can actually eat.

Now as we
tend our garden, we can’t help but glance smugly over the foliage at the
mean little cactus perched on the office windowsill across the way. This will
easily hold us for now, and one day, we’ll be queen of the barbecue pit.

Use of War to Sell Beauty Products

Marcia Kilgore in Blissout (June 2003)

Lout. The June catalog produced by those cosmetically superior folks at Bliss
started out harmlessly enough. On page two, Marcia Kilgore, aka “Miss Bliss,”
tossed off this friendly heads-up:

is—at last—around the corner, and with it, those long stretched hours
of sun signal an end to ‘fat-forgiving’ full-length trousers, dry-elbow
concealing cardigans and the emergence of all wardrobe things sleeveless, shifty,
and sheer.”

But there
was, you know, a war going on. We felt kinda bad about wanting to spend $70
for a one-ounce dose of Oxygenating Active Amplifier. Miss Bliss put our mind
at ease:

the ongoing global conflicts creating continuously high levels of stress, a
girl sometimes needs to focus on the superficial just to keep her sanity.”

But, but,
what if things don’t get better? With all those people dying and stuff,
we felt kinda bad about wanting to spend $135 on a six-ounce tube of strivectin-sd
stretchmark repair formula.

Again, Miss

we all look for peace (at home and in the ‘East’), we can simultaneously
harbor a hope that another kind of tension—that which measures the skin
on the backs of our thigh—is mounting.”

As a typical
Bliss patron might say: Oh. My. God.

Best Plastic Surgery

Fake: the
new real. Morning, high above the Aventura Mall in North Dade. We’re sunk
deep in a brocade couch with a back issue of Redbook in our lap. No sound
except for an imitation Italianate fountain of youth burbling in the corner.

On the other
side of the waiting room, Dora, the receptionist, is quietly talking to a swarthy
deliveryman at the gilt front desk. He disappears, and she trills our name.

“Are you
ready?” No answer. She leads us into a smaller room with an examination table.
She closes the door, and the swarthy deliveryman enters. He has startling blue
eyes, a perfect tan and a black brush cut.

your anesthesiologist,” he says, sitting down on a low metal stool. Suddenly
we notice the platinum Cartier tank on his wrist.

He gives
us a once-over. “Are you nervous?”

We nod briskly.

buzz for a Valium. We’ll be ready for you shortly.”

minutes later, back in the waiting room, we feel ourselves downshift as the
pill kicks in. We’re led into another examining room; pile our clothes
in the corner, try to stand still and refrain from stoned cocktail- party chatter
while Dr. H draws his incision points on our tits with a magic marker. Dr. H
is young, early 30s maybe, and he has a slight accent and the softest camellia-white
hands. The most boob jobs he has done in one day? Fifteen.

Dr. H wears
a white coat with his name embroidered in blue on the breast pocket, which reminds
us that surgeons, especially plastic surgeons, are elite auto mechanics, and
they know it. This pleases us. Order the part, put it in and be assured that
insurance won’t cover it. Simple. We’re not going to die on the table

His touch
is beautiful, and he holds the marker like a sable brush. We tell him so, and
he smiles benignly. “Don’t you think the term ‘plastic surgeon’
is tacky?” we ask. “You’re so much more than that.”

“No, I’m
not. ‘Plastic’ derives from the Greek plastikos, which means
to shape. To change.”

another door, into the operating room, which is small and decorated in more
gold and red velvet, like a sadistic whore’s boudoir. Now we’re lying
down, naked save for a shower cap. A nurse in a very short white dress holds
up two miniature pizza boxes. “These are your implants,” she says behind her

We want
to see them.

“No,” she
replies. “Sterile.”

She is Cuban,
and, like all plastic surgery fans, somewhere between the ages of 19 and 70.

The anesthesiologist’s
meaty tan hands are on our left wrist, tying us off. A needle in the back of
our hand. “You might feel a burning sensation,” he says. “I’m here. I’ll
be here with you the whole time.” Goodbye, God. There’s coldness, we flinch
and whimper like an old Collie bitch, and then nothing. The real little

We come
up under a blanket and keep our eyes closed, shivering cold and fumbling at
the IV in our hand. When we open our eyes, the nurse in the short dress is there,
putting a straw to our lips. Gatorade. The door opens and our boyfriend comes
in, looking frightened and excited. The blanket is pulled away and we look down
at our chest, expecting to see a mound of gore and sutures. Instead, we see
two perfect, gravity defiant 34Ds. She puts fresh gauze over our new, huge nipples,
and thick white strips of tape around our ribcage.

“We asked
for a Traci Lords,” we say.

“I noticed,”
she says. To boyfriend: “Now this is how you help her sit up. Hold her under
her shoulder blades. Like a baby. Right.”

The IV is
removed and we slide into a wheelchair. Back through the waiting room, where
we spy a thin Polish girl curled up on the couch with an Elle in her
lap, miserably holding an ice pack to her Botox injections. On the way out,
another plastic surgeon in a white coat gently touches our cheek and wishes
us well. “Okay honey? Of course you are. Enjoy.”

Hours later,
we’ve got our head in the freezer, and there’s a hot jet of vomit
lurching at the base of our throat. It will only get worse, as Dr. H warned
us. Two weeks of wriggling like a shrimp to the edge of the bed and bawling
for boyfriend to help us every time we have to pee. When we bend forward, our
tits surge with pain and slosh like twin stomachs bloated with soda.

Bad idea.
Two weeks of hating our grandparents’ dark, ugly and disused apartment
in what was now the outskirts of cracktown, lying half-dead, zebra-striped by
the hot sun through the Venetian blinds. Two weeks of being propped up by the
edge of the pool, itchy from the Percocet, not listening to the old peoples’
whispers and tut-tuts.

that Bunny’s granddaughter?” one of them asks as we limp past their canasta
game. Sigh. “She’s always falling out of her bathing suit.”

Those aren’t real.”

But that
was months ago. Now we love our fake tits, and everyone—the cringing mother-in-law,
the dour exes, the shrieking friends—are entreated, nay, ordered to
squeeze them. Feel how real? Once we had shriveled dugs, beaten south by the
caprices of weight loss, weight gain and sorry genetics. Now we have way more
than a handful, and not since ninth grade have we been able to make this boast:
We fail the pencil test.

Japanese Hair Stylist


Kino International, 214 E. 10th St. (betw. 1st & 2nd Aves.), 212-475-6826

No photos
allowed. Best thing about going to a foreign hairdresser is the lack of chitchat.
No small talk, no how ya doin’ can ya believe this weather? Just us, our
hair and whatever newspaper is stuffed in our bag. With Kino, we get all of
this—plus a mirrored studio that from the street looks more like the hallway
of a spaceship than anything in the same genus as barbershop. The place is miraculously
dirt-free, like an operating room from a 50s sci-fi movie.

Kino happens
to be a superb hairstylist. Here’s his secret: Once you’ve you finally
gotten over your fear of being the dirty Westerner who has ketchup somewhere
(you just know it) on your outfit, Kino asks what kind of music you listen to.
And that’s it. There’s no more talking, no labored conversations,
and you get exactly the type of haircut you want.

Though we
suspect that Kino is a mostly-dude dude, we wouldn’t discourage women from
checking him out. Helpful tip: There’s no exterior sign, just a teensy
little card in the mirror inside that says “KINO.” Just because Kino’s
place looks too cold for Kraftwerk does not mean you and your copy of the Post
can’t go there.

Boxing and Yoga Class


The Stable,
281 N. 7th St. (betw. Havemeyer & Meeker), Williamsburg, 718-387-3962

Left hook
to downward dog. “Harder! Faster!” How often does a girl get to hear a big cute
mook from Belfast scream these words as she pounds the crap outta him? Twice
a week since we started taking BoKu. It isn’t some foul-smelling, hippy-dippy
dietary supplement, rather a class that combines boxing and Kundalini yoga.

Taught by
Irish imports Colum Meehan (the “Bo”) and Ailish Keating (the “Ku”), the 90-minute,
the class is split into two parts. First Meehan takes you on a hellish ride
through boxing basics—jumping rope, endless ab exercises, loads of punching
and a form of torture I hadn’t been put through since high school gym class:
the squat thrust. Then, once you’re shaking from exertion, doused in sweat
and ready to aim for his face rather than the pads he’s holding up in front
of him, Keating steps in and takes over to stretch your ass. Keating is beautiful
to begin with, but some days she actually looks like an angel sent down to save
us from collapsing at the feet of the Belfast Bruiser.

taken her yoga classes before, but was in the market for something a bit more
strenuous. Boxing and yoga might sound like a weird combination (and maybe it
is), but sweating your ass off for the better part of an hour and then going
directly into 45 minutes of yoga feels pretty fucking amazing.

Fencing School

Salle Gitane

747 Amsterdam Ave., 2nd fl. (96th St.), 917-570-0078

On guard!
Owned and run by young husband and wife competitive fencers John and Larissa
Gonzalez, Salle Gitane is the fastest-growing fencing school in the city. And
fencing is the fastest growing sport in the country.

not wussy,” says John. “It comes from mortal combat. But it also combines grace
and athleticism, and even ethics.”

The honor
codes of Renaissance Europe are reflected in the newly revived sport, which
flowered in the former communist countries of Eastern Europe, especially Poland,
where the founding coach of Salle Gitane is from. New York is the center of
the fencing universe in the United States, and Salle Gitane has become the breeding
ground for the next generation of stars.

Ceramics Studio

The Mudpit

228 Manhattan Ave. (betw. Grand & Maujer Sts.), Williamsburg, 718-218-9424

that pottery sex scene in Ghost? There’s a lot to take in when you walk
into the Mudpit. Shelves near the door are stacked with an array of co-owner
Cindy Gatto’s reasonably priced handmade bowls, mugs and other work. Lovely
and lovingly made, each piece is proof of her considerable skill. Other shelves
hold student work in various stages of completion (along with the occasional
lazybones cat). Ceramics aren’t the only handmade creations here: Mark
Petrin, the other owner, built a large motorcycle from the ground up that, more
often than not, is parked in the studio.

are the wheels—14 of them. After years of collecting our friends’
pottery, we decided last winter to take a whirl at throwing. It’s no exaggeration
to say it changed our life. Cindy is a brilliant teacher. Her knowledge and
patience are extensive, and her explanations and careful demonstrations usher
tricky concepts into the realm of the possible.

We shopped
around, and the classes are a bargain. Moreover, this may be the only ceramics
studio in NYC that includes open-studio time with its courses. That means you
can come in and work whenever the hell you want. Most places send you packing
after class, and if they let you come in other times at all, you have to pay
extra. The Mudpit offers wheel-throwing, hand-building and mosaics classes,
and individualized attention is matter-of-course. (Don’t be surprised when
Cindy gives you an unsolicited, detailed analysis of your trimming skills.)
At Mudpit, clay and glazes come with your class (which is pretty standard).
You pay about $15 for your tools and nominal firing fees.

Rape Crisis Program

Saint Vincent’s Hospital

41-51 E. 11th St., 9th fl. (betw. 10th & 11th Sts.), 212-604-8068

work well done. When a rape survivor comes into the emergency room at St. Vincent’s,
the front desk immediately pages the volunteer rape-crisis counselor on-call.
That woman will head directly to the hospital, usually arriving within the half-hour,
and she’ll stay with the client throughout the waiting, the rape exam and
rape kit, and more likely than not she’ll help get the client home.

in this program is a pretty serious undertaking. There are 40 hours of training:
10 classes over the course of a month, and if you miss one, you’re out
of the program. The training covers a lot of ground. Women acquire basic counseling
skills, learn about the rape exam in the ER, rape trauma syndrome and PTSD,
the legal system and issues surrounding adolescents, substance abusers and domestic

St. Vincent’s
asks volunteers to commit to one year of being on-call once or twice a month.
The pager may or may not go off, and the stress of waiting is almost worse than
getting called in. Not everyone wants you once you’re there, but in general,
people are glad for the company. Rape-crisis counselors offer assistance that’s
at once basic and profound. They explain procedures—in English, Spanish
and Chinese—that can seem overwhelming when you’re not tired and traumatized,
and they are there to advocate for the survivor—i.e., that counselor is
one person attending to the survivor without an agenda (unlike the cops or family

The counselors
encourage clients to make follow-up appointments with the trained social workers
who head the program, Christine Fowley and Edwina Key, so the service extends
beyond that first, fucked-up day in the ER.

Free Kayaking

New York City Downtown Boathouse

Pier 26 on the Hudson River (betw. Chambers & Canal Sts.), Pier 66A on the
Hudson River (27th St.), 72nd St. at the Hudson River, 646-613-0740

No tipping
allowed. We visited one Sunday afternoon to find 15 kayaks skimming along the
sun-glittered Hudson while 24 people waited their turn to march down the footbridge
to the dock. The rules are simple: know how to swim, wear a lifejacket, sign
a waiver, stay between the piers, return in 20 minutes (or come back if called),
keep away from the sides and wall and—duh—don’t go swimming.

by volunteers who claim 12,000 visitors in 2002, the boathouse offers programs
besides the kayak jaunts, such as training and summertime trips to Lady Liberty
each week. This season, all three locations opened May 15 and will close October
15. With a fleet of more than 40 kayaks, waits are minimal, and they supply
the equipment, instruction and lockers.

They didn’t
even goad us into dropping something in the tip jar. Instead, reads a sign at
the Tribeca location, “The only donation that we ask for is that you kayak safely.”

Used Camera Equipment


42 W. 18th St. (betw. 5th & 6th Aves.), 800-223-2500

Say “old
cheese.” We remain unconvinced when it comes to digital photography. We’ve
always clung stubbornly to the notion that when something is done instantly
and easily, it looks it. One upshot of the digital boom, however, is that pixelheads
are more than eager to unload their older cameras and accessories. Apparently,
quite a few of them do so at Adorama.

We were
hunting for a lens for our old Canon SLR, visited Adorama’s website and
were blown away by their selection of used equipment. They stock used lenses,
motors, cases, flashes, cameras of all makes and varieties (yes, even digital),
and more. All of it is graded—accurately, we thought—on an excellent-to-fair
scale and cataloged meticulously. We jotted down some numbers, visited the shop
on W. 18th St. and returned home with the lens of our dreams at a mere fraction
of the new list price.

Of course,
you don’t have to do the online research first, but we highly recommend
it. The crowd at Adorama can get pretty hairy at any hour of the day, and the
service, unfortunately, is sometimes less than friendly. But don’t let
that stop you. This sort of quality has to come at some price.

Gentleman’s Shop


160 Spring St. (W. B’way), 917-237-0222

Or, who
knew Germans could make a suit? Suit shopping should be an experience that affirms
a man’s masculinity, not threatens it with misplaced pins or a price tag
that would make John Wayne shrink back up his pant leg. We were surprised to
find that the most affordable option, as well as the most pleasant, could be
found on a Sunday afternoon in crowded Soho. Suits range in price from $299-$898,
and many are three-piece. (A classic look that, we were informed by a salesman
at Bloomingdale’s, we could best locate in our grandfather’s closet—and
why not “borrow his wing tips” while we were at it?) Besides a sympathetic and
accommodating staff, there’s also a tailor and a decanter of more-than-decent
cognac to help ease the process.

One-Stop Gift Shopping

Kate’s Paperie in Soho

561 Broadway (betw. Prince & Spring Sts.), 212-941-9816

and bucolic. Is there truly a one-stop shopping source for everyone on your
Christmas list, from the Junior League aunt in Dallas who thinks you’re
“just trash” to that high-school friend who’s writing poetry about Thor
and picking up 13-year-old wiccans? Impress them both with a trip to Kate’s,
where every imaginable color, size, shape and texture of paper resides in one
manageable store.

Just like
the bibliophile, the epistle-head cares as much about the actual writing as
its look and feel. So why not throw in an ink well, or a wax seal while you’re
at it? Now, if only they sold monocles…

Japanese Technology Store


21 Ave. B (betw. 2nd & 3rd Sts.), 212-677-0500

One set
of x-ray glasses, please. We’ve acquired the following things from TKNY
since we discovered it a little more than a year ago:

One set
of inflatable speakers. Yeah, like you blow them up, plug them in to your minidisc
player or iPod. When you’re done, simply deflate and tuck them back into
your messenger bag.

One SideWinder
emergency cellphone charger. The blackout made us suckers for this sort of shit.

Two camouflage
duct-tape wallets (for our teenaged siblings, we swear).

This list
does not, of course, include the stuff we have yet to buy. Like, for example,
projection keyboards that allow you to type from anywhere, an inflatable bong,
a mopping robot and a portable, three-inch flatscreen that plays and records
movies of DVD quality.

always stocked to the teeth with random objects of questionable technological
importance, and we dare even the most gadget-averse person to step inside and
remain sober with Luddition.

Country-life Décor

April Cornell

487 Columbus Ave. (betw. 83rd & 84th Sts.), 212-799-4342

Fresh air—in
stitches. This charming designer boutique represents an appealingly easy and
elegant country lifestyle that—while we might not necessarily choose it
as our mainstay—promises some relief from the harsher realities of New
York life. Entering April Cornell’s domain is to walk into a flowery bower
of bedclothes and dining accessories in the front of the shop, clothing for
women and children toward the rear. Almost everything in the shop is fashioned
from Cornell’s own silk-screened fabrics, a profusion of variously colored
and patterned floral prints that are unfailingly pretty.

We find
her blousy, loose-fitting women’s styles very comfortable, and we love
her hand-knit and crocheted sweaters, some with touches of floral embroidery.
The velvety sherpa and reversible hats are irresistible, and the children’s
clothes, adorable.

through April Cornell at Home makes us imagine how it would be to live
as she does—in a big house in rural Vermont. We learn that she’s French
Canadian, originally from Montreal, and loves to paint. Flowers, of course.
Some of those flowers actually adorn the hand-painted pitchers, plates and serving
platters displayed in attractive settings in the book and boutique.

So, is April
Cornell a French Canadian Martha Stewart? We don’t think so. She’s
definite, but not domineering; comprehensive but not know-it-all. And we can’t
imagine a Cornell product line at Kmart.

Bus Line


Kiss me,
on the bus. The B61 is our savior. Late at night, it winds its way through invisible
streets—from Red Hook to Cobble Hill and Smith St., past the Navy Yard,
along the BQE, through the projects, into the wilds of lower Williamsburg, up
Bedford Ave., terminating in Long Island City. This bus reaches everywhere we
want to go.

never ridden buses much in the outer boroughs. There’s usually so much
distance to cover that it doesn’t make sense. Even in Manhattan, the only
bus we like is the M15, simply because there isn’t (yet?) a subway east
of Lexington Ave., and the “Limited” feature makes it a little swifter. But
on a whim one night we got on the B61 and have been converts ever since.

You see,
we hate the G train. Some people who live on the G line get defensive about
it. They’re always quick to say how often it comes, how it’s not so
inconvenient, etc., but we know better. Waiting for the G is like waiting to
get our weekly ration of toilet paper in Communist Russia. We feel, in some
subtle way, like we’re demeaning ourselves by waiting for a train that’s
just the first leg of a transfer trip anyway.

The G sure
doesn’t care about our plight.

when the B61 appears, randomly, on a small street in Hasidic Williamsburg or
Red Hook, we feel as though it’s been sent just for us. Like some kind
of mystical raft, guided out of nowhere just when we needed it that’s going
exactly where we want to go. We know it’s stupid to take these things personally—the
good and the bad, that is—but still, there’s something about that
B61. It’s our kind of bus.

Gotham Writers’ Workshop Teacher

Deborah Emin

Tickle me
Emin. The last stop for a blocked writer and the first one for a fully employed
novice: the Gotham Writers’ Workshop, as seen on many a street corner in
the little yellow box. It’s almost impossible to tell if a teacher’s
any good by the information printed in the back, which is not to put down the
numerous reviews and journals that have boasted their bylines. We took a class
with Deborah Emin, and her effort, insight and guarded encouragement were the
surprise of the season. (And this, coming from writerly types known to dismiss
all writing classes as snake-oil-level scams.)

When asked
about her teaching philosophy, Emin says simply: “If you really listen to what
people are saying, what my students say, I can tickle out the story they want
to tell.”

Fruit of a Highly Coveted Engineering Education

The Cooper Cooler™

Way cool.
In effect, the Cooper Cooler™ is to a fridge what a microwave is to a
conventional oven, but it’s just for beverages. Using patented Chill-On-Demand™
technology, its sole function is to cool drinks very quickly. By drinks, we
mean the kind that would suffer sorely from the direct addition of ice: anything
from a nice bottle of Pinot Grigio to that one last can of MGD that wouldn’t
fit in the vegetable crisper.

You fill
the Cooler with ice, plug it in, insert the can (or bottle), give it a few minutes
to spin and voilà!—you’ve got a frosty-cold beverage
without the painful wait or the accidental freezer-related explosion. And despite
the mysterious forces of carbonation that are, frankly, beyond our ken, Cooper-Cooled
beer or soda will not erupt from its container when opened.

The kicker
is, this little piece of gimmickry, now commercially available at an average
retail price of $89.99, was conceived and realized by a team of engineering
and design students and faculty working at the Cooper Union for the Advancement
of Science & Art. That’s right. The prestigious, ultra-competitive
Manhattan institution of higher learning founded by Peter Cooper is now endowing
humanity with the resources it needs to party heartier. (Or is it hardier? They
probably know the answer to that, too.)

not trying to put it down. We’re sure that the Cooper Cooler could actually
be put to some other practical applications. Not that we could think of any.
Instead, we raise a can to our ingenious brothers and sisters of C.U. and look
forward to their future endeavors: perhaps the supercharged chug funnel, or
the anti-matter bong.

Meditation Teacher

Peter Doobinin, DNYMC

Om. Peter
Doobinin might be taken aback at being named “best” at what he does. To hear
him tell it, he’s just a conduit of some trusted, ancient teachings—but
this is typical of the wisdom and humility that makes him so good.

His approach,
based soundly in the school of insight meditation (this is vipassana—or
clear-seeing—for hapless Westerners), is practical and down-to-earth. He
will not attempt to transform you into some robe-flapping, sanctimonious pseudomonk.
What he will do is guide you—gently, progressively and with an excellent
sense of humor—through the different facets of meditation. He’ll also
introduce you to some basic tools for real, everyday living (and for coexisting
with others), which, when used properly, can bestow a sense of awareness, focus
and tranquility. Most importantly, he’ll remind you that the main thing
is just to begin again.

Peter offers
several classes for beginners and enlightened alike, and you can read about
them through his recently launched Downtown NY Meditation Community website
( If you’ve ever had the slightest interest in learning to meditate,
we urge you to do something nice for yourself, and others, and give it a try.
But please be warned—these offerings are not magical one-way tickets to
instant, unending bliss. There’s just no such thing.


Training Camp

1079 6th Ave. (41st St.), 212-921-4430

Keds R Us.
When buying a new pair of sneakers, most people flock to 8th St. and suffer
masses of NYU freshmen, punk punks and tourists for what they think will be
a comprehensive overview of the trendiest colors and styles. It’s an unlikely
store in Midtown that should be their destination.

At Training
Camp, a narrow storefront hidden opposite Bryant Park, shoppers are few and
they don’t linger. Almost every pair of kicks has character all its own—with
special tread designs, non-Nike swooshes and loud colors. Brand names are only
present when the style is too desirable to ignore. Most New Yorkers, partial
to shades of black, white, gray and the occasional navy when outfitting their
feet, will feel emasculated adopting the European practice of dressing seemingly
heterosexual men in fluorescent oranges, yellows and pinks. But the gender-sensitive
should rejoice in the fact that American women can find brown and tan throwback
Converse or Swedish flag-colored Golas, while men aren’t afraid to try
on lilac Nikes or red Keds.

The stock
moves quickly and new styles are always arriving. It may take the clueless staff
a while to check you out, but the experienced shoe whore will have no problem
sending them off to retrieve a pair of peds or a different size and color. Cheap
is not an overstatement: super shoes can be had for $20, while the occasional
big brand can run you $50 or higher (but there’s always a sale going on
that’s sure to slash that price in half).

The best
thing about Camp is that, due to the small space, what you see is what you get;
you’ll know within five minutes whether style and color have aligned to
your benefit. When they haven’t, you can always join the local hoodies
in the back of the store to stock up on cheap all-white high tops and basketball

EscapeS from New York

Out of State

SeaStreak Ferry to the Jersey Shore

sure. SeaStreak is the American sister of Italian line SNAV-Hoverspeed, which
can ferry you from Naples to Capri. These people know what they’re doing.
In starting a commuter ferry between the town of Highlands and