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Student Staples: Bambootori

bambootoriWhen it seems that you’ve exhausted all of the options on your Yelp search, try Bamboo Tori, a Japanese skewer shop located between 12th and 13th Streets.

The tempo of Bamboo Tori is reflective of its location in the Village. The restaurant is one long, narrow aisle with limited, intimate seating; you can look over and hear the chefs laughing about their day while your skewers sizzle on a fired grilled.

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The Rubin Museum: Deities in NYC

This Monday, I wandered into one of my favorite museums in the city, The Rubin Museum of Art, which houses one of the most superb collections of Himalayan and Nepalese art in the world. With free Friday admission from 6pm-10pm, a five-dollar student rate (free if you go to NYU), and an easy ten dollar adult ticket, the Rubin is a cheap alternative to some of the larger and more popular museums in the city. For Himalayan and Nepalese art novices, the museum even offers tours of its major exhibits every hour 12 PM. Why hello, Buddhist deities!

If you’re a first time visitor, I highly recommend starting on the second floor to tour the Gateway to Himalayan Art exhibit before seeing anything else. The third in a series of yearly rotations, Gateway to Himalayan Art introduces visitors to the rudiments of the Himalayan art tradition so you’re not left scratching your head through the rest of your visit. The exhibit is divided into three major sections: Deities and Symbols, Materials and Techniques, and Purposes and Functions. My favorite part of this exhibit is the wall they have dedicated to naming and explaining all the mudras (hand gestures), asanas (body positions), and other attributes that serve to identify deities.  If that wasn’t spiritual enough, this exhibit also features a beautiful candlelit shrine room. Beat that, MoMa.

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Chick-fil-A: sandwiched in controversy

Though NYC has just one Chick-fil-A (on the NYU campus), Wednesday’s ‘Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day’ stirred controversy and conversation over franchise president Dan Cathy’s bigotry and freedom of speech.

Christine Quinn, speaker of the New York City Council, had requested the president of NYU “sever your relationship” with the chain restaurant in response to Cathy’s public belief in ”the biblical definition of the family unit” and that gay marriage invites “God’s judgment on our nation.”

Though Quinn’s request is markedly more tempered than Boston Mayor Tom Menino’s declaration that Chick-fil-A is no longer welcome in Boston, the recently-married lesbian councilwoman has been heavily criticized by news media and other New York City politicians, who point out Dan Cathy was simply exercising his freedom of speech. Bloomberg, though personally supporting same-sex marriage, takes a hands-off approach to the controversy and has not banned the chain, as mayors in Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco have.

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Freshmen Night out in the City

Sexxx in the City partyOn the subway platform at 116th and Broadway, five well-dressed young women in matching heels tried to apply makeup to each other. Some 95 blocks downtown the doors had just opened at the Chelsea club and restaurant Duvet for “Sexxx in the City,” a monstrous gathering of NYC’s newest undergrads that began, somewhat notoriously, as an all-invited bash in the cramped Carman double of one Stephan Vincenzo (CC 12), which the Facebook savvy folks at Columbia ResLife managed to break up weeks before a single freshmen arrived on campus. The aborted kickback then developed, with help from some New York natives, into what promised to be “the hottest party of the year.” That promise notwithstanding, Stephan warned all invitees in a mass e-mail that the bar would be alcohol free, “but,” he hastened to add, “can you say Pre-Game lol.” And judging from their success with the makeup, these ladies clearly could.

At Duvet, the freshmen were herded, abattoir-style, through a line that rounded itself up and down the 21st St sidewalk, giving partygoers a taste of the shove-and-be-shoved intimacy of the goings-on inside. Bouncers who knew full well that this was an event for college freshmen called out: “Twenty-one? Anyone over here twenty-one?” Inexplicably, a gaggle of girls shot their hands up and rushed to the front of the line. One could not remember her address; another, in a flustered attempt to produce the birthday printed on her plastic, claimed to have been born in the year 2000; yet another offered to pay to get the confiscated I.D. back (it was a legit driver’s license, apparently it just wasn’t hers). Meanwhile, a young man in a button-down pink shirt, the collar popped, sneered: “Why is the place called Duvet? Isn’t that, like, French for ‘ass-shower’?”

Inside, patrons were stripped of cigarette packs, purses were raided, dubious bottles of Coke and Vitamin Water hastily consumed (apparently a lot of 2012ers can say “Pre-Game lol”). By the time the party had started, over 1100 attendees had, per instructions on the event’s Facebook page, RSVPd to get their names on a guest list that promised reduced admission. Cashiers, however, extracted 20 bucks from everyone at the door, responding to the odd protest with a curt: “Yeah, yeah, everyone’s on some list. That’ll be twenty.”

The Duvet’s bar—dubbed the “ice bar” for its translucent white tabletops and counters—served up a small menu of grenadine-soda-and-fruit-juice specials that nobody seemed to go for. On the dance floor, one DJ hollered, “Columbia? NYU? Fordham? Where you at?” eliciting whoops of enthusiastic collegiate pride from the sweaty-faced, hip-grinding crowd. Those not on the dance floor relocated in packs to the large white canopy beds, looming over the crowd and lavishly dressed in white curtains. Some stood up and danced on the beds and tabletops to the encouraging white flashes of a camera. Others departed in droves as early as 11, hustling to the exits in conga lines that weaved their way through the dance floor like violent veins. Still others stuck around and withdrew into their iPhones, Blackberries, and Sidekicks, hurriedly texting away in the corners of vacant booths, leaning on empty barstools, idling near the bathroom door, and looking up every now and again to see if anyone had recognized them yet.

Of course, no single party or event could possibly unite an entire class. And, indeed, as many people seemed to fit in with the crowd as people seemed overwhelmed by it. But it was noble and encouraging that the folks at 11th Floor Entertainment—the group of students that organized the event—went and put something together, something that, in a single night, seemed to capture all the chaos, confusion, exhilarating ups and dispiriting downs of those first tastes of college life. It seems inevitable for Sexxx in the City to go down in the collective history of the Class of 2012 as the first major “one of those nights.” May it not be the last.

Sam Reisman

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