Grand Central Tech

imgresI met with Charles Bonello and Matt Harrigan to talk about their accelerator Grand Central Tech.  I love how they began this journey. Both Charles and Matt met as kids and went to Regis High School.  Regis High School is a unique institution in NYC where tuition is free for each student.  They wanted to create a program at Regis where tech companies could incubate getting free office space and access to mentors but more important access to interns from the high school.  Charles and Matt wanted to give back  to students at Regis and their idea was to provide a way for the students to see the possible opportunities in the tech world as they moved forward in their lives vs the standards that they know from their parents who are your original mentors that suggest being a lawyer, accountant, banker or a doctor.  Charles and Matt know because that is what they were taught.

The program was a success and they decided to build on this concept.  They have opened a space near Grand Central that will give the accepted companies free office space for a year.  They are also working on bringing in mentors from the community to help each of the companies grow.  Most important they are partnering with a handful of public and private high schools in NYC to give students the opportunity to intern for  the companies that will be housed at Grand Central Tech this year.

I am really impressed with both Charles and Matt  and what they have built and what they are building.  They are planting the seeds to grow this into something very unique.  They are not only providing an eye opener to high school students of what is available they are helping companies grow in NYC.  I plan on working with them in some capacity this year.

There is still time to apply.  Here is a small blurb about the program.

Grand Central Tech  is a new kind of accelerator that is housed in Facebook’s former NY headquarters at 335 Madison Ave.  GCT provides all accepted companies a full year of office space, free interns drawn from the ranks of some of the best public and private high schools in NYC and access to great programming and mentors without taking any equity or charging any rent.  As part of its efforts to provide resources to the community at large , the GCT team is actively recruiting a robust and diverse group of mentors and advisors to help guide the program and portfolio companies

Casa Valentina at the Manhattan Theater Club

1.169095Casa Valentina is a new play written by Harvey Fierstein.  The play is based on actual events that took place and my guess is most people do not know about this slice of history.

It is set in 1962 in the Catskill Mountains at an inn where heterosexual men who are fond of cross dressing and acting like women go to relax. They can be themselves and leave their corporate jobs, wives and children at home to spend a weekend of their own little slice of heaven.  Yet one of the members has decided to create an actual organization where they could all feel free to share their secret lives with the world.  By doing that they could pave the way for the next generation of men like themselves.  That desire is not shared by all the men for fear of what it would do to their lives.

This organization actually did happen and there are still some left across the country.  What is interesting about the play is that many of these cross dressers have absolutely distain for the homosexual community.  Most of them actually prefer living as their female alter-egos  yet they openly discuss that because they are heterosexual that they should  be accepted into society with ease.

An incredible cast.  The writing is sharp and funny.  Considering this took place over fifty years ago makes it more interesting considering that gay marriage is moving towards full approval in most states across the country.  As the gentlemen said as he was walking out of the theater to a young woman, “makes you realize that you have to accept people for who they are because that is who they are no matter what.”   In my opinion he could not have spoken truer words.

Really enjoyed the play.

Chocolate Macaroons

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I make macaroons every year at Passover.  They never look like I want them to look.  This year I opted out of the annual recipe and went for the chocolate macaroon recipe from Saveur.   These are really good.  They still spread a little but I can deal.

This makes about two dozen

4 1/2 cups shredded, unsweetened coconut
1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder, sifted
1 1/2 tbsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt
6 egg whites
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325.   Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Mix together all the ingredients except the chocolate chips in a medium sized sauce pan.  Mix over a medium low heat for about 6 minutes.  The mixture will get thoroughly mixed together and sticky.  Set aside and let cool to room temperature.

Mix in the chocolate chips.  Using a tablespoon to create a round drop cookie and put them on the cookie sheet.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until crisp.  Cool and eat.

Maintenance

vintage-woman-makeupIf tomorrow, women woke up and decided they really liked their bodies, just think how many industries would go out of business. Dr. Gail Dines

When did personal maintenance begin?

I was getting myself the monthly coif and was thinking about personal maintenance.   The monthly haircut, the monthly hair dye (ugh), the eyebrow maintenance, the pedicure, I have stopped with the manicures (too much cooking), the variety of annual doctors check-ups, the every few months dermatologist appointment, etc.  It takes time to keep up.  I got laser surgery for my eyes at 39 so that is something that I have taken off the list at night which used to be taking out my contacts.  Now it is just the taking off the make-up, flossing and brushing of the teeth, moisturizing of the face, hands and feet.  I have added in the feet recently because they get dry and cracked.  Did I mention eye cream too?  Even getting ready in the morning has a routine.  I have limited the blow dry of the hair (I was born with a jewish afro) by getting the keratin treatment.  Hair gets a bit flat but it is worth the minutes of torture saved every morning under the blow dryer.

There is not a woman I know who talks about the ease of a man’s maintenance.  I know when we are getting ready to go somewhere nice I spend a few more minutes than the norm getting ready.  Fred pops in the shower and he is ready in no time at all.  Damn.

Did it start with Cleopatra?  Did it start with the media?  Did cave women look in the mirror and think wow I need a new dress?

There is something extremely comical about being at the hair salon and seeing the maintenance of beauty taking place.  I am part of it so I can laugh at myself too but I do wonder when did the personal maintenance regime begin?

 

Co-ed or single sex school?

bestThe right education is different for everyone.  People make different decisions based on a variety of reasons when it comes to education.

When I was in high school and looking at colleges I am pretty sure I did not start out thinking about a single sex school.   I did not get a lot of direction in regards to what school I should apply to but I did know that I wanted to be in a city.  I took a trip to Boston to look at schools and I was hooked on city life.  I had an interview at Simmons College, a single sex school, and realized for a variety of reasons that it made sense for me.  I had three jobs in high school and I enjoyed those jobs much more than I enjoyed classes.  I managed to get by doing very little but I was well aware that I was driven to succeed and financially I was definitely on my own after graduation.  Simmons was the perfect ladder to get me to where I wanted to go.  I knew that based on the curriculum that I was planning on taking that I would have a job upon graduation.  I was right.

The issues around single sex schools are mixed.  The competition inside the classroom is certainly different.  There is a comfort level when there are only women in the class.  I see that same comfort level at the Womens Entrepreneur Festival.  All gender issues cease to exist and a comfort level sets in.  Yet socially, when you are not in a city with plenty of co-ed schools, it makes the social dynamic tough.  I have met plenty of women who grew up in single sex elementary through high school settings and their social radar is not as built in because they did not deal with the social dynamics of being in an educational environment with boys on a daily basis.

We chose a progressive school for our kids when they were young because we believe in group learning as well as being able to break something down and then put it back together in order to understand it vs memorization.  To us, that type of education is very similar to the working world in regards to life long learning and working with people.  In a single sex school girls do not necessary enter their teenage years sulking to the back of the classroom because they do not want their male counterparts to see how smart they are.  There are countless sociology books written on this topic.  Is that a good thing or is that a bad thing?  Again I think it depends on the kid.  Some kids blossom in that environment and they might not have in a co-ed environment while others absolutely hate it.

I got a great education at Simmons College.  I had more than a handful of job offers when I graduated.  I competed in a very safe environment for four years among women.  I always felt comfortable asking a question and pushing the envelope.  I had an internship experience for one semester that was educational in a completely different way than sitting in a classroom.  I spent one semester abroad that made a huge impact on me where I got to know myself in a way that I am not sure I would have if I didn’t disconnect for a semester.  Socially I didn’t love it.  I made many friends freshman year but never really connected with them on a level that I wanted to.  I have zero relationship with any of the people I met there today.  Funny enough the only person I continue to have a relationship with from college is my husband.  I stayed in Boston during the summer and rented a room out of his fraternity at MIT.  We connected, became fast friends and a year later started began a life long love affair.

If I had to do it all over again I am not sure I would have gone to Simmons.  I really did not get any direction from my parents or even a college advisor but more than likely I would have been super happy at a small liberal arts school socially but then again I might not have learned the good business foundation that I did learn at Simmons.  Pros and cons are everywhere.  I think in the end you pick what seems to to be the right thing for who you are….and of course where you believe that will lead you for the future.

My Struggle, Karl Ove Knausgaard

my struggleI just finished My Struggle, the first volume of six.  The entire series consists of 3600 pages.  It is a commitment and one I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy but I decided I would start with one and see what happened.  Considering the book is available in 22 languages plus some and has been read by one of every nine adults in Norway there must be a reason for it.

The book is incredibly powerful and raw.  It is like reading the mind of someone and their most intimate thoughts and secrets.  The title of the book is interesting considering that Mein Kampf was the title for Hitlers book.  Regardless it is an autobiographical book of Karl Ove’s personal struggle.  The reader gets an inside view of his personal relationships that start as a young boy into adulthood and the passing of his alcoholic father.   I also got a better understanding of what it is like to grow up in that part of the world from the way people interact with each other to the extreme weather.

I have never read anything else quite like it.  I plan on reading the other five books.  From everything that I have read about the author the book has certainly taken a toll on his personal life.  He leaves nothing on the table sharing every intimate detail of his life.  The descriptions are so vivid that you take his tales and insert them in your own head.

Pulitzer?  I would think so.

The explosion of creativity

images-1I could pinpoint to many reasons of why I believe there has been such an explosion of creativity in NYC and elsewhere.  There is never an exact reason but certainly the implosion of the banking industry that created high unemployment numbers had something to do with it.  Did that affect the generation that is 30 and under (under being the kids in college) or was that creativity always in their DNA?  Maybe the creativity was unleashed with the change in the economy.

I see more and more people who are building consumer product companies that get their hands dirty from jellies to ice cream.  I am seeing a surge of new fashion brands from t-shirts to bathing suits.  Even the Partnership Fund of NYC and Springboard is partnering together to create the NY Fashion Tech Lab.

If you just watch the surge of Kickstarter over the last 5 years that confirms the explosion of creativity.  The hardest part about being a creative is funding.  There is also a desire for many people to find their creative side. There are more opportunities being built and places to go and classes to take that can feed each persons creative side.  People are looking for that balance in their lives and perhaps a desire to do something that they can get up and want to do every day is empowering.

There are always opportunities in trends.  I love the trend of creativity.  Certainly the advent of tapping into the crowd to support creative efforts from consumer products to artistic projects has been one huge movement.  I have seen a few others and am looking forward to seeing more.  When your passion becomes your livelihood that is truly special.

 

Passover

shari

One of my mothers best friends was someone she knew since she was I believe 9 or 10 years old.  I have obviously known her since I was born.  She is an extremely thoughtful person.  We have lunch every year on the day my Mom died to celebrate her life.  She always brings something thoughtful.  An old year book, a photo or just something that is a remembrance of the past.

When we moved into a house we built many years ago she brought me a tin and had taped on the front my Grandmothers recipe for mandel bread.  It was in my Grandmothers handwriting.  I have kept it displayed with my cookbooks every since.  Two years ago she brought me a chopped liver recipe in my Mom’s handwriting.  I had it framed.  Every day I walk out of the house I walk by both of those recipes, see their hand writing including the small plaque my Mom gave me that says “never trust a skinny cook”.

chickenlivers

Passover is a family holiday and in a salute to my Mom I made her chopped liver.  A decadent treat.

1 lb chicken livers

1 whole Spanish onion thinly sliced

4 tbsp. unsalted butter

4 hard boiled eggs

In a frying pan melt the butter.  Then add the chicken livers until they are browned.  Then add the onions to the chicken livers and saute until everything is browned.  The onions should be caramelized.  Let this cool.

Take the liver mixture and four peeled hard boiled eggs and put them into a food processor.  Chopped until fine.  A few pulses should be all you need.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

We will be serving this with matzah.   Happy Passover.

Returning to Eleven Madison Park

I have been to the space Eleven Madison Park countless times. Years ago when Danny Meyer opened it for lunch and dinner including a few events in the private space.  This was my second time to the restaurant since Daniel Humm and Will Guidara were passed the wand from Danny Meyer.  I don’t know the particulars of the deal but it seemed to me like a pretty cool deal that inherited the place and Danny passed the wand.

These type of food experiences should not happen often but when they do they should be special and spectacular.  The only thing that is tough is the length of time.  This meal took 3.5 hours and we were all itching at the end to go home.

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The concept here is all around NYC, past and present.  We began with a black and white cookie savory style.  The Parmesan crackers married together with a light apple cream melt in your mouth.

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Second out is an oyster set in a vichyssoise cream with a dab of caviar.  This might have been one of my favorite things.  Simple, elegant and just sublime.

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Under this dehydrated white cold apple flakes is a scallop with just a touch of lime.

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This appears to look like simple bone marrow but it is not.  Inside is beef tartar mixed with caviar and smoked bone marrow.  Pretty much out of this world.

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On top of this small piece of rye bread are dots of mustard, horseradish surrounded with pickles.  This is their pastrami sandwich.

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You get a piece of lean and a piece of fatty to make your own sandwich.

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You are also served a flavored soda based on the decision you make at the beginning of the meal which is either fennel, apple, maple of cranberry.  We did them all except fennel.  Interesting.  

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Cured foie gras with sunchokes and a piece of mustard green.

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Seared foie gras topped with chopped hazelnuts and a vinegar on the side.

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They bring this station to your table to make their version of a waldorf salad.

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The salad has celery root, apples, dried cranberries and walnuts set in a wooden bowl.

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Underneath that bowl is another bowl that serves another version of the salad which is an apple yogurt and a granola with the same type of ingredients.

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Poached lobster with razor clams and sea urchin

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Poached celery root dressed with a white truffle sauce.

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The main entree is either a duck or pork.  We went with the duck.

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While the duck is being sliced we were served a a flat bread topped with duck sausage, gruyere served with a light broth.

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The duck is served with a variety of different flavors from apple to mustards.  

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This is a picnic.  Brown ales, pretzels, dried fruit and a gooey intense cheese.

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Sweet potato curd with espresso meringue and orange sherbet

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Baked alaska is so beautiful.  Vanilla ice cream, raisins and rum.

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Nothing like a chocolate covered pretzel to seal the deal.

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Oh one more thing, as the meal comes full circle, classic black and white cookies with a hint of cinnamon.

A wonderful evening.  There is definitely a method to the madness.  There are flights of flavors.  Might take me awhile to get back but I will get back.

A walk through Chelsea

There are days when I walk through a few galleries and feel compelled to buy everything.  There are others days when I walk away thinking about what I saw but zero desire to see it every day.  That is the most amazing thing about art.  How it makes you think.  It just resonates with each individual in a different way.

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We started out at one of the many Zwirner Galleries on 19th Street.  The first exhibition for Zwirner with Jordan Wolfson.  A range of works from a video, photography and sculpture.  The sculpture can only be seen by appointment only which we did not realize until we got there.  He uses the Internet to produce his work which revolves around animated characters. You can interpret what you want from this show but to me it is a mixed destructive message around women, HIV, homoesexuality and poking fun at art collectors for eating it up.

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Then we walked over to Bitforms Gallery.  It is a small show by Daniel Canogar around Small Data.  The installation is a mix of circuit boards and consumer electronics.  Layering the old and new showing how quickly technology is moving.  He layers light and images of new technologies over old ones.  I really liked this show.  It is hard to see but the piece in there is an old calculator.

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We stopped in the Yossi Milo Gallery where we have purchased several pieces.  The current exhibit is of Matthew Brandt’s work.  We bought a piece of Matthews work two years ago.  I was impressed with the interesting direction his work has taken.  He is obviously incredibly prolific and trying to find other mediums to express himself. This show is called Excavations.  He began doing large format photographs where he took elements such as water from a lake in the photo that he used to distort the image.  Here has taken historical photographs of demolished areas of NYC layering over the actual building there now.

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He also created images of fossil remains.

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And the other pieces are old photographs pulled from newspaper archives of tourists where he layered on colored dots.  Worth going to see.  It is hard to believe that all three of these pieces are from one artist.

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Our next stop was at Elizabeth Dee Gallery who has a small show up of Joel Otterson’s work.  This particularly piece is a memorial to his musician friend who died of AIDS.

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We expected to see the Roe Ethridge exhibit at Andrew Kreps but they were just finishing off the installation from Marc Camille Chaimowicz.  A mixture of interior designs combined with prints or shown on canvases.  It blurs interior design with art.

Our last stop was the Pace Gallery on 25th Street, one of many Pace Galleries.  They had just installed the Robert Mangold exhibit.  We had actually come to see Kiki Smith which must have been the last show.

Not much rocked our boat on Saturday but always good to take a walk through the art world.