new york city

The Flatiron Room | In My Travels

by Jamie Sanford on May 30, 2016

To see all of my travel posts, click here. All images taken with the Sony NEX-6. (The previous link is an affiliate link, which means I receive a small commission if you make a purchase using this link.)

A few weeks ago, our friends Jessica and Cory were in town, and so we planned an evening out. After a great suggestion from Brian, the six of us ended up at The Flatiron Room. It did not disappoint.

We chose this location via text on the day we went, a Monday. Perhaps that was a lucky choice, because when Brian and David arrived before the rest of us, they managed to get us a private-ish booth with curtains, featuring a taxidermied owl that was giving some Hedwig realness.

It was very very dark.

Here’s our in-booth owl!

This menu is full of delights.

We managed to arrive at the tail end of happy hour. We immediately got to ordering cocktails before the window closed, and also ordered the happy hour flatbreads as well. (I had a Blackberry Gimlet, it was delicious.)

In addition to incredible atmosphere, there was live bluegrass! We could not see the stage from our VIP booth (not confirmed that this is a VIP area, but we enjoyed thinking it), but we could hear it. Best of all, we could hear the music and still speak to one another, the perfect mix for a group of friends who don’t see one another often and are hoping to catch up a bit.

Here is the view looking out of the booth (you can see the curtains), you can see a tiny bit of the stage on the right.

After our first round, we moved on to more drinks, and decided to order more food as well. The share menu is varied and has some wonderful treats. We ordered the turkey meatballs, pork belly, bone marrow, macaroni and cheese, warm pear and bleu cheese salad, and a cheese board. Favorites were the bone marrow, the salad, and the cheese board.

While we did not partake, we did learn about the Flatiron Room’s Bottle Keep service. Essentially, if you buy a bottle of whiskey, and do not finish it, you can store it for life in the Bottle Keep, returning whenever you’d like to revisit your bottle. They also give you a few “entitlement cards” which you can share with family or friends, so that they can partake in your bottle when they visit The Flatiron Room.

Here are a few more images of The Flatiron Room.

I highly recommend a visit to the Flatiron Room if you are in New York. Do not expect to be lucky like we were, and make reservations for a table in advance.

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Bill Cunningham New York (100 Films in 2011)

by Jamie Sanford on October 31, 2011

83. Bill Cunningham New York (available to stream on Netflix and Amazon)

Here is the trailer for Bill Cunningham New York.

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Bill Cunningham New York documents the life of famed street style photographer Bill Cunningham.  While the world is currently swarmed with photographers documenting street style, Bill Cunningham was one of the pioneers that essentially created the idea of shooting regular people wearing clothes, be it designer goods or things you can buy almost anywhere.

Bill tours around New York City, on a bicycle with a camera around his neck (shooting film in this day of digital), wearing his trademark blue coat.

I really loved this film, but at the same time, it left me with a bittersweet feeling at the end.  Bill started our a career in fashion as a fabulous milliner, creating hats under his label William J.  He lost his financing while serving his country after being drafted, and ended up being given a camera which started this career shooting style on the street. He ended up with columns in the New York Times, which is his best known work.

The part of the movie that delves more into the private life of Bill Cunningham was the bittersweet part of the film for me.  (Although I think that perhaps my ideas of how I would live my life and what Bill thinks are very different.)  In a tiny studio/apartment in Carnegie Hall, Bill’s home life is a giant archive of all of this previous work.  It is made clear through the film that he is absolutely in a relationship with his work, and that he lacks in deep contact with other humans.  Other friends in the building, people he works with, his subjects, they all know him without knowing him.

I recommend seeing the film, Bill is an interesting and funny character, and is unique in a world seemingly full of style photographers.

Bill Cunningham New York is available on DVD from Amazon for $19.99.

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The Gates (100 Films in 2011)

by Jamie Sanford on October 8, 2011

73. The Gates (available to stream via Netflix)

Here is a sneak peek of The Gates.

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The Gates is a documentary covering the proposing, development and launch of The Gates, an art project launched in Central Park in New York in 2005.  The artists, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, had tried to bring The Gates to the park in the 70s, but were shot down by a number of people who thought that the project was silly and was like painting over another painting.  All while watching the footage of 70s New Yorkers who hated the idea, it seemed that they were just arguing to argue.

The Gates: Tree of Orange

The Gates: Tree of Orange by LarimdaME on Flickr.

Part of the completed project in Central Park.

Mayor Bloomberg approved the installation of The Gates and so the project was launched.  Huge teams of volunteers had to get involved to first install the bases and then the arches.  The flag-like fabric hanging from the arches was released with a tab, which allowed all of the gates to be opened within a few hours.

The documentary is a little bit long.  The installation process is sprinkled in with pissy New Yorkers who think it is ridiculous.  Once the project is launched, lots of happy New Yorkers are shown enjoying the park being filled with orange saffron fabric blowing in the breeze, in the middle of February.  I have to say, the timing was important, the impact would have been completely different had all of the trees been covered in leaves.

I don’t know why people were so bent out of shape about The Gates.  It was only there for 16 days.  It did no permanent damage to the park, but changed the vibe in the park for a little while.  I still think the documentary could have had 10 minutes less of footage of just the exhibit, but I still enjoyed it.

The Gates is available on DVD from Amazon for $21.99.

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Paris is Burning (100 Films in 2011)

by Jamie Sanford on September 10, 2011

62. Paris is Burning (Not available for streaming via Netflix or Amazon)

I can’t find a trailer for Paris is Burning, so here’s a taste of the film.

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Paris is Burning is a documentary that showcases the drag ball scene/culture in New York City in the late 1980s. Drag balls were not just limited to the traditional drag queens, but included all sorts of categories in which one could walk.  Much like a runway – one would come to the event to compete in a category and would walk the runway, competing with one another.

Intertwined with footage from the drag balls are interviews with active members of the ball scene, including leaders as well as up-and-coming “children” in the different houses.  Some of the most interesting stories are like that of Venus Xtravaganza, pictured above, who is transgendered, transitioning from male to female.  Many of the people in the ball scene had developed their own families within their houses after many of them were disowned by their family for being gay or transgendered.

Terms still popular today are defined throughout the movie – you will learn about realness, reading and shade.

If you’ve read this blog for more than a minute, you might figure out that I am a big fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race, and am a proud fag hag.  Many references will be cleared up for you if you watch Paris is Burning.  I got the DVD from Netflix and would recommend watching the movie again with the commentary track, because it’s a lot of fun.

Paris is Burning is available on DVD from Amazon for $26.99.

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The Experts (100 Films in 2011)

by Jamie Sanford on September 8, 2011

61. The Experts (available to stream via Netflix)

The trailer for The Experts doesn’t appear to be available online, so instead I share this scene where John Travolta dances with Kelly Preston.

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The Experts is a movie about an elaborate KGB operation to infiltrate American society – they have built a town for their operatives to live in, which is meant to be in Nebraska, where they speak only English and generally act like Americans.  The major issue is that the town they’ve created is stuck in the 1950s.  One of the program leaders challenges this issue, and decides to bring in actual Americans to teach the town about the modern world.  They are naturally referred to as “The Experts” because everyone in the town assumes that they are KGB as well, brought in to test them.

Look at this hotness.

Travis (John Travolta) and Wendell (Arye Gross) are spotted in New York City and recruited with money and freedom to come to “Nebraska” and open a nightclub.  Thanks to some sleeping medication, the flight to the town in Russia goes by in a blink and they realize that they are in a town that looks to have stepped back 40 years.  They proceed with opening the club, and soon enough, they’re impacting everyone in the town.  The KGB project leaders aren’t happy and so things go downhill from there.

The Experts is a hotbed of 80s amazingness. John Travolta has an amazing mullet, Arye Gross’ wardrobe is a tribute to fashion of the 80s, and Kelly Preston emerges as the hot girl who can wield a gun.  I had a VHS of this movie that I recorded from the TV and I watched this movie probably 100 times.  Not sure why, but I watched it a lot in the early 90s.  I made my husband watch it with me, and he didn’t get it at all, and had trouble understanding if Wendell’s clothing was meant to be a mess or if he was the cool guy. The Experts is not a timeless film, but it is worth a watch.

This is super fitting – I am unable to find this movie on DVD.  However, a bunch of people are selling used VHS versions of The Experts on Amazon.

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