Best of Manhattan 2002: Services
60 E. 10th St. (betw. B'way & University Pl.)
iDoc. This Mac fixit joint offers thoroughly reliable and efficient technical service at costs that match the competition. Now that that's out of the way, what we really prefer about Digital Society is its bedside manner. See, if there's an ass-end to the synergy ideal and the supposed ease of managing one's life through a box, it's just that: our entire fucking world is in there. A sick laptop is no longer just an inconvenience, it's a disaster. In the past it bothered us not, to be corralled like cattle, to have to take a number deli-style, wait wait wait and then describe our PowerBook's symptoms to some preoccupied, side-glancing service department techie. But now, the damn thing is an extension of us. Its cancer is our cancer. And we want the best treatment available.
Thankfully, Digital Society comes off more like a physician's family practice than steerage for puking Macs. This feeling begins with physical details of the store, which is small, well-lighted, sedate and situated conveniently on the ground floor on 10th St. It extends to the highly competent service department and in particular to Manny, an accommodating tech guy who's not once balked at giving us the ad-hoc consult when we were really desperate. And it also includes a respectful, intelligent attitude toward customer consideration?need a quick power-supply loaner or a short-term battery swap? Not a problem. We confer this accolade with some hesitation, not wanting to spoil a good thing and all, but we've got faith that the good doctor'll continue to deliver.
For a Pet Store
490 Court St. (betw. Huntington & Nelson Sts.)
When You Don't Care Enough to Get the Very Best. Hello, Mr. Pets for Less Shopkeeper, sir. We're looking for a pet, a boon companion to give us affection and comfort for the next, oh, seven to 12 years. A furry li'l ball o' somethin' we can cuddle and curl up with and feed and groom and teach to do tricks and just love love love.
But we're not looking to spend a lot on it, y'know?
Yeah, that's what we want: a discount kitty. You got something with maybe like three legs you can cut us a deal on? Or some mangy old dog with only a year or two left on its ticker? A dead goldfish? A really psycho African gray? What's that thing lying in the back of that cage? That dirty thing that ain't moving and looks like the business end of a well-used dust mop? What can you do for us on that?
Best Place to Find
Your Signature Scent
83 2nd Ave. (5th St.)
Smells Like a Winner. In the interest of full disclosure, we must admit that we bought the Cliff's Notes to Moby Dick when we were juniors at Syracuse. We were never assigned Remembrance of Things Past, but would have probably cheated on that assignment too. Aside from that Monty Python skit where they summarize his work in song ("Proust in his first book wrote about, wrote about..."), the only other thing we know about Proust is that he went on and on about that damn cookie. It never fails?every opening paragraph of any article about nostalgia or memories of growing up mentions Proust and his madeleine.
We guess if we had to pick a sense memory, it would involve trading Bonne Bell lipsmackers in the girls' locker room at Northeast Junior High, after swim class. We know, not very classy, but there is a place that recreates that sensation, but on a more sophisticated scale: Demeter, the fragrance shop in the East Village. Actually, it's more accurate to call it a fragrance library. They have every scent you could imagine, from Sugar Cookie to Holy Water to Ginger Ale, with Earthworm and Popcorn and Pipe Tobacco thrown in for good measure. It's so much fun to wander around and check out Christopher Brosius' eclectic offerings in their simple but beautiful packaging. You can take some of the little tester strips and pick a bottle at random and say to your friend, "Hey, it really does smell like tomato!" or "Check this out, it smells just like a laundromat!" If you tire of that, you can alter your mood with one of their Attitude Adjustment lotions: they offer Vexed, Crabby and Jilted, to name a few, along with Happily Foaming Bath Gel. All in all, the store reminds us of that literary classic we read in high school, Scents and Sensibilities. (Well, we did a report on it, but we never actually read it...)
Best Way to Kill a Rat
To Do It for You
Die, Foul Beasts! We were so busy looking for our keys that we hardly saw the flowerpot tremble or the nosy culprit emerge, but when he brazenly pranced about our feet, we took notice and vengeful action. But only after shrieking and performing a mindless dance, of course. Turned out that the lone rat was a member of a gang that numbered close to a dozen and resided a few doors down in a set of window boxes.
The job was clearly too big for us to handle, so we called in reinforcements?namely "the inspectors" from the Pest Control Services Division. This branch of the health department was formed in 1964, when it was realized that the rat population had grown disturbingly large. A telephone call or e-mailed rodent complaint form alerts the unit of the problem, then a team is quickly dispatched?usually within 24 hours?to inspect, exterminate and clean up the corpses. Now we confidently cruise through the city, knowing that pests who cross us will feel our wrath. (Note: Death doesn't come quickly to street-savvy rodents; they usually move about in a drugged daze for a day until they finally drop dead and can be collected.)
Best Williamsburg Hair Salon
144 Bedford Ave. (N. 9th St.)
Mighty Mousey. Meredith Chesney (known around these parts as Miz Jolene) was homesteading Williamsburg eons before it became Bedford Ave. U, and her perseverance has paid off in a steady clientele so satisfied that getting an appointment with her is like getting front-row center seats for Hairspray. Of course, it doesn't hurt that she and her gals give great cuts. They can do ultra-trendy, they can do runway chic, they can get you prepped for that job interview or that big date, they can do that hipster dork thing the boy geeks in Williamsburg do, and they can do our fucked-up-but-with-purpose look so well we actually commute to W-burg from rather a long way off to see them. It's a casual, funky-cool atmo, too, which takes a lot of the stress out of getting your hair cut. But we're not kidding: Ms. Jolene has been away all summer, so her appointment book is probably a nightmare, and you want to be booking weeks or a month in advance to see her.
Feels Like A Sneaker"
Plus-Size Party Shoes
534 9th Ave. (betw. 39th & 40th Sts.)
Like Sideshow Bob's, Only Bigger. Our feet are wide and getting wider by the year, and this does not bring us shame. We like shoes a lot, and we see nothing wrong with that. We're proud of our broad and bucolic feet. To us they scream "America."
Unfortunately, America does not agree with us. Even in these tolerant times, we suffer on a steady diet of mukluks and moonboots, clogs and Nikes. Our prom shoes were acquired during a field trip to Patricia Field's; we'd seen them first on RuPaul. And yet designers do not want to make shoes for us. May we take this space to make a public service announcement? High-end designers, do women like us not deserve attractive and varied stiletto wear as do our sisters in the lotus-blossom sizes?
For now, we're happy at LaDuca's. We found this tidy storefront while walking back from Cupcake Cafe. Beautiful, 40s-inspired heels lined the window, and only after walking in did we realize we were shopping at a dancers' store. So much the better, we thought?if a woman's going to be working out in these shoes, they've got to at least be comfortable enough to get us around a buffet table.
Phil LaDuca, a dancer and shoe designer, helped us choose a petal-pink, strappy version of his standard shoe?as perfect a Degas fetish as you can get in a size 12. The design was sent to his manufacturer in Italy and arrived a month later. In all, we spent a very reasonable $169.95 for the shoes, another $15 for the soles (the shoes arrive outfitted for the stage, not the street, so you'll have to take them to a cobbler if you want to wear them outside), and ever since we've been wearing them like sneakers.
Best Cheap DVDs
158 W. 27th St. (betw. 6th & 7th Aves.)
Loaded with Extra Features. It's kind of dingy, and awful cramped, and you can't really go in there cold thinking you'll find a specific title. But you will find something. And chances are good you'll find something you never knew existed.
On one recent trip, we picked up King of the Zombies, Bowery at Midnight, Lon Chaney's Hunchback of Notre Dame, Evel Knievel (starring George Hamilton), I Spit on your Grave, Too (not a sequel) and Invasion USA (which contains the greatest Christmas scene of any movie, ever). They have an excellent blaxploitation selection and a great Faces of Death knockoff selection, too. And most all of them cost about $5. Sometimes if you're grabbing something fancy, like The Big Doll House, they can go up to $10, but that's about as high as the prices get. You won't find another store in town?even counting other liquidators?with prices like that.
Beyond the DVDs (which still constitute a relatively new and small section), NYC Liquidators carries hundreds of videotapes, thousands of CDs?and their collection of just plain weird porn still can't be beat, if only for the titles alone (our most recent favorite was Big Fat Fuckers 8). Very little of it seems to be in any order at all?but that's what makes going there all the more fun.
He was dragged to detox in handcuffs on a Wednesday. If we were to be glib about it, we'd add that two nights later we shuffled onto the unit in dirty cutoffs with a Kate Spade handbag dangling from our wrist, flanked by two ruddy, cheerful ambulance drivers.
It had been 72 hard hours since our last beat shot of dope and coke, and the blessed psych meds were starting to take the edge off. Despite the ripening goose egg on our forehead (after waiting five hours for a hippie to do our intake, we got a touch bratty and bashed our head repeatedly against the Monet poster on the wall in the crisis cubby at the ER), we finally felt something like high and mighty. Big emphasis on the mighty.
The nurses on third shift started cooing over our handbag during the strip search. In a haze of Seroquel?the Miller of antipsychotics, administered by rote to anyone who goes ape in central booking?we informed them that our handbag cost more than they make in two weeks. That's great, honey, the bigger nurse replied, as she tossed us our tanktop. Here's a bar of soap and do you need to brush your teeth? Sure you do. It won't be too easy on the gums but you won't mind. Hands us a dimestore toothbrush in a cellophane sheath and we wonder if we're going to get hostile again.
It doesn't happen. After a dim interval, we're face-planted on a crackling twin bed, retching in the foamy darkness as another nurse dumps the contents of our handbag. Loose pills and tubes of lipstick spatter onto the linoleum. We'll be flushing your Xanax, honey, she says gently. That Clonidine will be kicking in soon. Try to get some sleep.
And our last thought, before commencing the long, blank thrash toward dawn, is the same last thought we've had for months: Fuck.
Best New Bag
Available at Kirna Zabete
96 Greene St. (betw. Prince & Spring Sts.)
It's the Anti-Bag-of-the-Moment Bag. Recession-special prices have hit the most unlikely of products?fashion's must-have designer bags. While we've been guilty of suffering from acute handbag fever in the past (let's just say we own one too many Prada bowling bags and Marc Jacobs schoolboy satchels), we're savvy enough to have passed on the Fendi croissant (too silly), the Christian Dior saddle (too ugly) and the Gucci Mombasa (too...too). But we can't resist Balenciaga's fall handbag, a substantially sized 70s-style sack-like suede tote in brown or black, with of-the-moment metal ring hardware. It's roomy enough to fit everything?our bulging Filofaxes, multiple cosmetic bags, oversize wallet and extra pair of shoes. We love the supersoft velvety texture and its quiet cachet. And at a mere $650?a refreshing change from the line's high-ticket numbers of past seasons, which ranged from $950 to $1150?we can sort-of-afford-it in our newly employed state. Best of all, it doesn't even have a silly name.
Trash & Vaudeville
4 St. Marks Pl. (betw. 2nd & 3rd Aves.)
Viagra in Pleather. So maybe we don't need green hair dye, a new pair of bondage pants or pink furry creepers, but since we're shopping anyway we had better pick up some eye candy. Although the clothing at Trash & Vaudeville may not be for the fashion weak-at-heart, the hottie sales boys will definitely melt yours (that is, if you have one, you frigid yuppie). Sure, some boys come and some boys go, and some just keep working retail, but we are constantly hot for the boys in that store. Often we find that our favorite items in Trash & Vaudeville think and breathe and unfortunately don't come with a price tag.
Best Preteen Loafers
650 Madison Ave. (60th St.)
A Brief Window. We really like Tod's. Not only are the salesladies attractive and friendly (in stark contrast to other uptown, upscale boutiques), but the loafers for kids are high-quality and won't wear out before your child needs a bigger shoe. So the hand-me-down factor is excellent. We've patronized Tod's exclusively for black or brown loafers since our sons entered their strict, dress-code school several years ago.
Alas, there's a gap at Tod's in their inventory of shoes: Up until the age of eight or so (at least for kids who aren't already 6 feet tall and being scrutinized by basketball scouts), you're in good shape. After that, it's off to the races in finding loafers that'll fit, since Tod's, like Prada, inexplicably skips options until your progeny enters his teens. You'd think in New York City finding quality merchandise in the feet category wouldn't be such a pain in the butt. But it is. You'd probably have better luck in St. Louis.
Can-Can Knee-High Fringe Boots
Available at Jeffrey New York
449 W. 14th St. (betw. 9th & 10th Aves.)
And We Deserve Them. Every September we New York gals like to buy new boots. Calf-hugging square-toes. High-heeled ankle booties. Knee-high faux-crocodile leather. There's something very tough and urban about boots (they look ridiculous in shopping malls and carpeted offices). But this season, we're not buying clodhopping street-savvy shit-kickers. We're going to make do with last year's outdoor boot because we are spending our annual boot budget?$650?on the most frivolous, major-event, can-only-wear-it-twice-a-year, crotch-high Christian Louboutin can-can boots. Fashion fetishism at its best, the boots are joined together by three layers of flapper fringe. Like everything sexy, they look even better from behind. They are forget-it-all-boots, "September 10th" boots, escapist, lighthearted, fanciful and outrageous. Who can be sad and depressed in these boots? We feel better just stomping about in them in front of our closet mirrors at home.
Bumble and Bumble
146 E. 56th St. (betw. Lexington & 3rd Aves.)
Great Bangs for the Buck. When she's not styling the Paris/Milan/NYC fashion shows, or coloring the hair of our favorite female celebrities, Laurie Foley uses her cutting magic to transform our hair into a work of art. She's known for creating a seductive texture with one's hair. We have a curly mop, and needed someone who really understands how to work with what mother nature gave us. That someone is Laurie Foley. Whether she's using scissors or her custom straight blades, she always carves out a haircut that is unique and, most importantly, looks good on us. We've never left her chair unhappy (well, except that one evening when our hair was all dressed up with no place to go). Instead, we always feel exhilarated. The last cut we got, we went from medium length to ultra-short, and left feeling sexier than ever. It's not the length that matters. It's how you wear it.
Best Environmental Lawyer
New York Environmental Law
And Justice Project
Dig It: A Decent Lawyer. We usually hate environmentalists. What with the majority of them being smelly hippie tree-huggers, we'd much rather side with the evil corporate guys in the fashionable suits and neatly slicked-back hair. They are usually men of few words, and enormous power. But after the attacks on our city last year, we found those guys in suits to be almost as dangerous as the terrorists themselves. And that's why we love Joel Kuppferman. Being one of the first guys to notice that everyone downtown started to have the same cough and feel the same way (shitty), Joel took action and teamed up with OSHA, the Uniformed Firefighters Association and residents downtown in order to find out just what the fuck was going on. While the EPA was telling everyone the air we breathed was clean and safe, it was Joel who took superhero-like action, and got the government to finally admit maybe things just weren't as they seemed to be. Joel, to this day, is leading the movement to clean up Lower Manhattan, and if it weren't for him, a lot of us might be dead. We love ya, Joel, but dood, cut yer hair!
Best B&T Female
288 E. Main St. (Rte. 112)
Patchogue, NY, 631-447-2253
Navel Academy. We're bleeding profusely in the back of Nic's new car. Admittedly, we're kind of enjoying it?cupping our hands to our belly like we're holding in a messy gut shot, and braying like Tim Roth in Reservoir Dogs. Nic is in the passenger seat in full recline, and although she's not bleeding?the loop of metal decorating her cola-bloated little belly looks as fresh as a posy?she's complaining away. Still hurts. Still hurts. We're not in pain, but we wished we didn't take that megadose of Motrin (a notorious anticoagulant) a few hours earlier.
Nic's best friend Jamie is 19 and a veteran of the piercing wars. She's driving us home on the LIE at a terribly swift speed. Jamie has her nipples, bellybutton and "somewhere else, hee hee" pierced. She's laughing and passing us wads of kleenex, plastic bags, whatever, in a sad attempt to sop up the blood. Meanwhile, in rapid-fire Riverheadese, she's telling us about the piercing place she was going to take us to, except when she was there last week the owner pissed himself while she was talking to him. Much eye rolling and ewww, that's fucking sick. So we're going somewhere else.
Nic has just popped her piercing cherry. As for us, we had our navel pierced last year by a teenaged harridan with a hoop earring at the base of her throat, and stupidly, she pierced us with a thick horseshoe. Why? Because we demanded it, and our money was green. Three months later, the skin around the metal was dried up and dead, and one day we simply pulled it out.
In Western Mass, chicks with navel piercings are rare. Come to think of it, there are barely any chicks in Western Mass, period. Strictly wash 'n' go types. Not so on Long Island, where every girl is high maintenance modified. Tats, booth tan, hair, heels, piercings?there is no end to the stuff. And the men of Cliff's understand that. And, unlike my sullen harridan of Pittsfield, MA, they know what they're doing. And no amount of pleading and bitching will change their minds.
Cliff's looks and sounds like any white and chrome tattoo/piercing shitshack: Pantera on high, four or five dudes with large calf tats and lip studs hanging out, perhaps there is the insect whine of a tattoo gun audible under the din. We wanted gold. No go, our piercer said. And we want a barbell-shaped piercing. Nope, he said. It has to be a stainless-steel ring, nothing else. And it had to be 14-gauge, which looked small to us. "You're tiny," he said to us, as we reclined back in the chair and lifted our shirt. "You don't want anything bigger. Trust me."
With forceps, he clamped the lid of skin over our navel, told us to breathe in and on a count of three: "One," we recited with him, and then ping. "You're done," he said. "Next." Nic flopped down onto the chair and pulled her already pubis-grazing Superlows down even farther. All of the men present crowded around. Five minutes later, we were tipped over in the car and speeding home, barely $35 poorer. And now, months later, we have a healthy hole in our navel, and all the tacky jewelry we could ever want.
Best (Potential) Beating of the Wiz
60 W. 23rd St. (6th Ave.)
for Other Locations
The Best One's Actually in Jersey. Sorry to see the Wiz going through such bad times. To be honest, though, we were ready to kiss the chain goodbye the minute we saw that Best Buy was about to open a convenient Chelsea location just a few blocks from the New York Press offices.
Fans of schlock DVDs have known for years that Best Buy offers great deals in cheap trash. We've picked up all kinds of great horror and sci-fi films for $9.99, while the other big chains have still been trying to get us to cough up $14.99. The CD selection isn't as impressive, but there are also surprisingly good buys when the occasional errant import item shows up in the racks.
Sadly, the Manhattan location is kind of a disappointment. The store has gone for this stupid spacious design that's probably supposed to look sophisticated. The selection really suffers?especially in the DVD and CD sections. Still, we have faith that this new Best Buy will eventually get with the program. There'll likely be an umpteenth DVD release of The Evil Dead series sometimes in the next 12 months, and we just know that Best Buy will be the place for the best?um, buy.
Score A Full-Time Gig With
10 E. 40th St. (betw. 5th & Madison Aves.)
I've Got Work to Do. It's bad out there for the wage slave. Here we were, college educated, been-around-the-block, happily ensconced in our cube at the cube farm. The paycheck with the pink slip arrived, and we were out there again, resume in hand. We went to employment agencies who told us to network, to retrain, to relocate. Bullshit, we said. We'll stay. We'll temp. We've done it before, we'll probably do it a few more times before we're through. But this time, we'll go where the gigs are. We'll go to Delta Wordsmith.
Sal, our Delta Wordsmith counselor, is a cut above the average temp agency pimp who thinks of nothing but commissions and putting a warm body where a client needs one. He took into account our needs, skills and schedule, and actually managed to keep us working 35 to 40 hours a week at gigs we were suited to. Ultimately, he found us a permanent position at a higher salary and better bennies than the one we lost, all within six months of losing it. This is no small feat in this economy.
Delta has the connections and the drive, but more than this, Delta also has the common sense to treat its temps and clients with professionalism and respect. Delta will help you find a job, even during this, the worst economy in years.
Which to Peruse
A Fantastic Selection
of Über-Fab Bags
(betw. 6th Ave. & MacDougal St.)
Who Knew? We must have been too busy getting tongue piercings and buying incense to notice that this Salvation Army has been on 8th St. for about three years. But we're happy we finally did.
Following the parameters of the time-honored adage that looks can be deceiving, we discovered that there lay behind the storefront three floors of the Salv Arm regular merchandise, with the added bonus of a plethora of bags. Cardboard boxes of purses sit next to the bag check as you immediately walk in and briefcases line the shelves along the first-floor walls. Piles of luggage?some matching sets?rest at the bottom of the rear stairs, which themselves are strung with messenger bags, backpacks and the occasional string grocery sack. Each landing is a resting place for larger suitcases and surplus bags that there isn't room to display. If one of the straps is missing, it's not a problem, there's a box of extras just in case. With such a selection we feel quite secure in mentioning this source to the likes of you.
Best Free Auto Assistance
Delancey St., Beneath the Williamsburg Bridge
Trolling for Help. There's never been much joy to be had joyriding in Buford, our sluggish but strong-as-hell Mazda B3000 pickup. Still, a drive's always nice. On a sunny Saturday morning in early spring we pedaled down to the quiet stretch of Delancey St. that runs parallel with the Williamsburg Bridge above, hopped in the truck, hit the ignition and listened to a "click click click" sound that is known in the auto trade as a dead battery. In this case, our third friggin' dead battery in as many months. Boy were we pissed. About to give in and use our last free AAA roadside assist, we noticed that over about four spaces to the left was a guy and his girlfriend waxing their Monte Carlo. Off to our right, a big-bellied Puerto Rican guy, finishing his coffee and newspaper.
"No problem," said the big-bellied man, when we asked if he could give us a jump off his Mitsubishi Montero. He hooked up the jumper cables and we moaned on about the way Buford, who really is reliable otherwise, had been dying on us of late. The man listened politely, got our truck running again and then called us over to the passenger side door. "Looks like your glove box door is not totally flush with the dashboard housing." We hadn't noticed this from the driver's side. What it meant was that the button that shuts off the glove box light was never fully depressed, which in turn meant there was a constant slow draw of juice from the battery. Embarrassingly simple, monumentally stupid, completely overlooked.
The man went over to his car and came back with a Philips screwdriver, gave three twists to the glove box locking mechanism and wished us a happy day. We thanked him for sparing us a garage appointment and headed out down Delancey. Cruising along, we noticed more owners hanging by their parked cars, some with their hands buried deep inside the guts of their engines, others underneath, changing their oils and a few just shootin' the shit.
"Car culture down here?" we remarked to no one in particular. "Who'da ever thought?" As we entered the FDR south from Grand St., we gave Buford a loving pat on the dash and filed it away for next time.
Best Fabric Store (Sort of)
225 W. 37th St., 3rd & 4th fls.
(betw. 7th & 8th Aves.), 730-5003
Following a Thread. When you step out of the elevator directly into the showroom of Mood Fabric Store's new location, the first thing that strikes you is that it not only seems to go on forever, but that, unlike most fabric stores, there's plenty of room to breathe and move around. This past summer, when they moved their enormous store from 39th St. down to 37th, they gained not only a ton of extra floor space, but a whole extra floor altogether.
Once you start going deeper into the store, however, that initial sense of space and freedom vanishes, and soon you find yourself in some mighty cramped and twisted quarters, piled floor to ceiling with massive rolls of every kind of textile imaginable, in every conceivable pattern. Problem with this?as with most fabric stores?is that they are arranged in no order whatsoever. Thousands upon thousands of rolls, and the only way to find what you're looking for is to, well, keep looking.
They do have everything, though, there's no denying that. In the end, what you're dealing with is the Strand (no pun intended) of fabric shops?with a staff (when you can find them) that's just as helpful, knowledgeable and courteous.
Best Wedding Photographer
Best Reason to Clean Out
110 Bedford Ave. (N. 11th St.)
Heloise Would Approve. I like reading books and articles on household hints, but I must admit that some of them sound like more trouble than they're worth. I mean, am I really going to scrub the bottom of my pots with a mixture of baking soda and salt, and then polish them with a cut lemon? No, if they were that dirty, I would probably just throw them out. If I am going to drag my ancient waffle iron from the shelf, the one that weighs roughly half a ton, am I going to say to myself, "I wonder if I have any ginger ale to substitute for the liquid in my favorite recipe, to make the waffles more light and fluffy?" Again, probably not.
The tips they give for closet makeovers seem equally unlikely, involving as they do rigging up bars at different heights and buying little plastic dividers at one of those stores called Hold It! (or Stop, This Is A Hold-Up! or whatever). Aren't closets just sort of there when you move in, and you have to accept them as they are? Still, the one sensible hint that usually shows up is that you should periodically go through your clothes and get rid of what doesn't fit or what you don't wear anymore.
One of the best places to cart all your unwanted items to is Beacon's Closet in Williamsburg. They will sort through your vintage items or ultra-modern stuff, and give you cash or credit for the things they take. Sometimes, you have to slink away in shame when they cheerily tell you, "Nothing this time," but if that happens, they will donate your stuff to the Salvation Army. Chances are, though, they'll take something and then you can happily buy something you will actually wear. Or you can take the money and buy steel wool. Did you know that you can stuff it into any cracks in the baseboard so that rats won't come and gnaw on you while you sleep?
Best Kids' Sneakers
6 E. 57th St. (betw. 5th & Madison Aves.)
An Athletic Theme Park. Grumpy old geezer that we are, the very notion that our kids refuse to wear high-top black Converse sneaks (or even Keds) is an unwelcome sign that the hourglass is spilling sand at an alarming rate. Three times a year we visit the madhouse known as Niketown, a confusing, multi-floor tourist destination that's pure hell on a parent unless you arrive promptly at 10 a.m., when the palace gates open.
There's a disturbing reason why so many preteenagers prefer the footwear at Niketown: most don't know how to tie shoelaces. That such a basic skill is now a lost "art" befuddles us, but that's beside the point. Surprisingly, the sneakers at Niketown aren't prohibitively expensive (which is a blessing, considering that growth spurts necessitate frequent purchases) and the selection, at least to our kids, is just swell. Velcro, zip-ups, slip-ons, day-glo models, all the thrills are on Niketown's shelves. Despite the frenzy at the store, the staff is patient, fending off complaints from snotty, demanding customers, and does its best to accommodate the desires of kids who hem and haw over what footwear will impress their friends at school.
It's all beyond us, and during the interval of when possible choices are sent up to the fifth floor from the basement we daydream, or doze, and try not to think about simpler times when buying sneakers at the local shoestore was a five-minute, in-and-out excursion.
Tips and Lollipop Laments
Gotta Have Our Daily Fix. Every weekday, without fail, "Daily Candy" sends us an e-mail suggesting the best kitsch items, ways to improve our wardrobes or directions to the best designer sample sales around the city. They scour the city for cool ideas and tips that would go undiscovered by novice city dwellers. (If you're not e-mail savvy then just pick up a copy of The New York Sun: the "Daily Candy" column is syndicated.)
Without "Daily Candy" we wouldn't have stood in line for 20 minutes to get our hands on the latest Miss Sixty
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