The West Village's Italian Bookshop; Weekend Getaways; Kickass Cyber-Porn

16 Feb 2015 | 04:56

    S.F. Vanni 30 W. 12th St. (betw. 5th & 6th Aves.) 675-6336 I've always had an affinity for the Italian language (even if I don't understand Italians themselves, who represent a culture so different from ours as to be from a planet that whips around a lonely sun a million light-years away). Took years of it in college, enough so that, in grad school, I could limp through The Divine Comedy in the original; drag myself through the Vita Nuova; mumble through Cavalcanti with sweat breaking out on my forehead; demean Boccaccio with my attention.

    It hasn't stuck. In my mid-20s, I jettisoned my academic baggage, trying to forget that for significant portions of my youth, I'd thought it would please me to spend the rest of my life in the world community of medievalists and semioticians. Wow. The languages, unfortunately, went over the gunwale with the academic encrustations, and I abandoned "language" as a system and committed myself to trying to make a living manipulating English. But I'd always liked the Italian.

    I'd always liked S.F. Vanni, the Italian-language bookstore in the West Village, too. In college, teachers would send us down there to purchase texts. Visiting was a little adventure back into the West Village's egghead past?into that beatnik era when one consumed one's Fellini with one's espresso down at Cafe Roma. These sorts of resonances meant a lot to an undergraduate just blooming into his intellectual self-importance; a brownstone world full of horn-rimmed poets just back from Roma and Trieste, of European ambiences, of abstract expressionists in striped jerseys. And they might mean a lot to the analogous contemporary undergraduate, God help him.

    Anyway, Vanni is a little store on a leafy block of the type populated by old women who ride old bicycles and still promulgate a vague type of socialism. It's a quiet, dark, sweet little place; you've got be buzzed in, and from the windows above you can hear opera blaring when you walk by some evenings. I'm no partisan of "atmospheric" bookshops?I find what I need at Barnes & Noble, and like the efficiency and hygiene of the chain store?but Vanni comes by its atmosphere honestly. It's the place to go for Italian-language books, the place where the teachers and professors and the translators and the students go, and the men of letters, living their lives, like hardy mites, in the spaces between the fibers of the city's fabric. There aren't typically more than a handful of patrons in the shop, if any; it's one of those places from an older New York that you hope persists. It's a landmark, of sorts, but it's also, merely and honorably, the place to go if you need Italian Idioms with Proverbs, A Comparative Practical Grammar of French, Spanish and Italian or Giacosa's Come le foglie, copies of which reside in the shop's dusty display window.

    Andrey Slivka

    Pet Care

    Animal Kind Veterinary Hospital 365 7th Ave. (11th St.), Brooklyn 718-832-3899 I don't have kids, but I do have a problem child. That would be Lizzie, my cat, who was named after Lizzie Borden and has been living up to the name for more than 14 years. I love her unconditionally, but I have no illusions about her temperament?simply put, she's a nasty animal who hates everyone but me and isn't shy about expressing it, usually in ways that entail drawing blood. All of which is rather mortifying whenever I have company.

    But as bad as Lizzie can be at home, she really outdoes herself during her yearly trip to the vet, which I've come to refer to as my annual embarrassment. She routinely pisses on the staff; when she's in a particularly demonstrative mood, she shits on them, too. She also does this incredible Linda Blair routine where she makes ungodly guttural noises while contorting her head and body into bizarre positions, and it goes without saying that she slashes at anyone in her line of vision. No vet has ever flat-out refused to deal with her, but several have let me know that they weren't too happy about it, and one offhandedly muttered a joke about putting her to sleep as he examined her. We didn't go back to see him again, natch, but I couldn't really blame him.

    Several years ago, however, I began bringing Lizzie to Animal Kind, which at the time had a tiny office in Park Slope. They've since moved to a much larger space, and I've moved along with them, because they've consistently done a great job of handling Lizzie and have even managed to be cheerful while doing it. I've had wonderful experiences with at least four of the Animal Kind vets, but I particularly recommend Dr. Carol Hallinger, who's unusually patient and sweet-spirited?no mean feat when dealing with a devil-spawn like Lizzie. Dr. Hallinger has been especially impressive over the past year, during which Lizzie came down with a thyroid condition that has required frequent visits. Believe me, nobody wants to see Lizzie more often than necessary, but Dr. H. has made it seem like more of a pleasure than a chore (and, lest I forget to mention, has also gotten the thyroid problem under control).

    Anyway: The support staff is as terrific as the vets, prices are fairly reasonable, they make house calls for pet emergencies and everyone in the place clearly loves animals (which should be a gimme for any vet's office, but I've seen several where it hasn't been the case). If you need a vet, or aren't happy with your current one, give them a call. If they can handle Lizzie, they can handle anyone.

    Paul Lukas

    Weekend Getaways

    Club Getaway 800-6-GETAWAY www.clubgetaway.com Nothing's better for the body or the mind than getting out of the city for the weekend?and there're few better places to get to than Club Getaway, the "summer camp for grown-ups" in Kent, CT, in the beautiful green Berkshire Mountains.

    Activities to help reconnect your body to your mind abound at Club Getaway's gorgeous 300-acre compound: sailing, rock-climbing, windsurfing, rollerblading, water-skiing, canoeing, yoga, mountain-biking, dance, hiking, volleyball and more.

    Or else Club Getaway guests can feel free to just relax, taking advantage of the resort's fine food, napping by the lake or in the comfortable cabins (which contain no phones, televisions or radios) and making new friends. At night, guests enjoy topnotch entertainment: comedy acts from first-rate clubs, theme dances and live music. Happy hour by the water, when pleasantly tired guests mingle, sharing with each other the day's adventures?from a morning step class to a bracing afternoon scaling a cliff?is a favorite part of the day.

    Club Getaway's been a leader in resort recreation for more than 20 years, and it's still innovating. This season, for example, Club Getaway has introduced "Xtreme" getaways, weekend vacations when Club guests can indulge in such special "extreme" pastimes as skydiving, race-car driving, rappelling, powerchuting and paintball. "Extremists" who like their excitement a little less hair-raising can participate in "Xtreme cuisine" with chef Tim Schaeffer and in "Xtreme shopping"?guests will learn the art of hunting for treasures and bargains at Connecticut's well-known Elephant's Trunk Flea Market.

    Be sure to check Club Getaway's schedule to see if there's a special weekend that's particularly right for you. July 21-23, for example, is "Jewish Singles Weekend," the weekend of July 28-30 is the "Twenties and Thirties Getaway," and Aug. 25-27 is especially for parents and kids. Sept. 8-10, it's the "Sports and Spa" weekend, dedicated to reflexology, yoga, massage, feng shui, Pilates, kickboxing and "intuition" workshops.

    Even the morning's ride up to Connecticut through New York's gorgeous, rolling Taconic region is a pleasure.

    Ellen Weinstein