Q&A: Delicatessen’s Damon Dunay

“Bar Q&A: Delicatessen’s Damon Dunay”

By, Casey Feldman

May 14, 2009

As beverage director for comfort-food restaurant Delicatessen, Damon Dunay can’t stand it when a patron orders a drink purely to get wasted. “It’s OK to get drunk, but maybe we can enjoy ourselves at the same time,” said Dunay, 33.

In that spirit, Dunay created a summer beverage menu for the SoHo spot that’s filled with fresh, flavorful ingredients, such as hibiscus, strawberry, pear and basil.

What’s your favorite drink on the menu?
The Cold Toddy. It’s a variation on a hot toddy for the summer. It’s bourbon with lemon, honey syrup infused with vanilla and clove. I spend time two days beforehand … creating this really nice syrup.

What’s the most popular drink?
The Zen Martini. It’s the anchor. When I first came to Delicatessen, it was a construction site, and I had no idea what I was walking into. I saw [the location in SoHo] and I pictured people sitting outside. Then I knew the experience that the guests could have. [The Zen Martini is inspired] by that. It’s been on the menu since we opened [in July 2008].

How do you pair the drinks with Delicatessen’s food: fried chicken, cheeseburger spring rolls, ribs, meatloaf?
I work with the chefs. I use the fruit and vegetable walk-in [refrigerator] and see what we have. I see a cucumber, I use it. The cocktail list is an extension of the menu. The great thing about the Zen Martini, for example, is if you have fried chicken, it’s oily, and if you drink this, it cleans your palate.

Do you drink on the job?
Not really. I kind of equate it to if a chef is making food for people all night long. The chances of him sitting down and having a steak are less likely. And then at the end of the night, he’ll sit down and have a meal. There’s nothing like having a cocktail at the end of the shift.

What’s your favorite part of the job?
When I spend time creating things and someone really genuinely comes up to me and tells me that [that drink was their] favorite part of the night. Times are tough, so I’m fortunate enough to work in a place where we see the best side of [people]. I see them when they’re letting off steam and they’re coming to enjoy themselves and get away from whatever they’re going through. With that comes a lot of fun and a lot of responsibility. Whether they’re going to work tomorrow, I don’t know, or whether they’re going to get laid off tomorrow, I don’t know, but they’re gonna have a good time while they’re here.

“Bartender Q&A: Greenhouse’s Kristin Voss”
By, Casey Feldman
April 16, 2009

When you think of ways to save the environment, clubbing in SoHo isn’t usually the first thing that comes to mind. Yet hotspot Greenhouse has made it hip to go green.

We caught up with 31-year-old Kristin Voss, who bartends at Greenhouse when she isn’t volunteering in Vietnamese orphanages or painting in her Brooklyn-apartment/studio with her miniature Schnauzer.

Are you health-conscious?
Who isn’t who’s a woman in New York City? We all want to look good and feel good and watch what we eat and go to the gym and everything.

Has working at Greenhouse made you more eco-friendly in other aspects of your life?
As a bartender, you’re usually throwing everything in one garbage can, but here there’s a really strong emphasis on recycling and separating things.

What kind of music does the club play?
The upstairs and downstairs have different music. It’s always different; it’s like two clubs within one.

What kind of crowd do you get?
It’s not pretentious; it’s not elitist. It’s just people who want to go out and have a good time.

Tell us about some of the most interesting green drinks.
We have organic vodka, wine and juice. You can get anything green, in that sense. If you ask for a screwdriver and we make it with organic juice and vodka, it’s going to be a green drink.

Any natural hangover cures?
I drink coconut water. It’s the most hydrating thing. And someone once told me pickle juice. But I would definitely go with coconut water before pickle juice.

“Carson Daly loves beer, hates bars on St. Pat’s”
By, Casey Feldman
March 15, 2009

Carson Daly can’t stand public displays of drinking on St. Patrick’s Day.

“Especially at the bars in New York, people get a little sloppy,” the TV host, 35, told us at a rally for Guinness’ Proposition 3-17, which would make St. Patty’s a national holiday.

His favorite way to spend the holiday is at home with his Irish family.

“We eat corned beef and cabbage. We just talk and all hang out together and drink Guinness, listen to music, sing, do what every Irish family does,” the “Last Call with Carson Daly” host said.

That said, the L.A. resident did frequent Irish pubs when he lived in NYC for several years when he hosted MTV’s “Total Request Live.” His favorites? The Parlour on the Upper West Side (where he used to work as a bartender), Molly’s in Gramercy and The Perfect Pint in midtown.

“Boogie on a budget”
By, Casey Feldman
March 12, 2009

The recession is no excuse to spend your nights drinking PBRs in a dingy dive bar. But it also isn’t the time to shell out tons of moolah for admission to a club. Thankfully, some of the city’s nightspots understand the need to shake your money-maker while being a money-saver.

Sullivan Room

218 Sullivan St., btwn Bleecker and W. Third sts., 212-252-2151

Sullivan Room’s weekend nights are known for world-class DJs — and $10 to $20 cover charges. But on Sundays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, lesser-known spinsters offer the same type of tunes (house, drum and bass), but with a reduced $5 cover charge.


244 E. Houston St., btwn Aves. A and B, 212-982-3532

Stay has the feel of a trendy club (bottle service, ’60s decor), but it doesn’t have a cover charge or obnoxious bouncers. Partiers dance to a mix of Top 40, hip-hop, rock, house, classic rock and ’80s music.

40/40 Club

6 W. 25th St., btwn Fifth Ave. and Broadway, 212-832-4040

On weekend nights, rapper Jay-Z’s high-style sports bar turns off the games and turns on the dance music for its “club nights” (no cover on Fridays, $10 on Saturdays). The 12,000 square-foot space has two floors, several VIP rooms and a sleek, sporty decor. While you dance to the mix of reggaeton, pop and hip-hop music, keep your eyes peeled for owner Jay-Z, who frequently stops by.

The Park

118 10th Ave., btwn 17th and 18th sts., 212-352-3313

The massive Park officially goes from a restaurant to a club at midnight on weekends. The multi-level venue has two loungers and three bars — each with different music, ranging from house to techno to hip-hop — plus outdoor spaces in the warmer months. Most cocktails cost between $10 and $12.

Sapphire Lounge

249 Eldridge St., btwn Houston and Stanton sts., 212-777-5153

Sapphire Lounge has a $5 cover on Fridays and Saturdays, and is free during the rest of the the week. On weekends, the tiny Lower East Side club is packed with partiers who revel in the down-to-earth ambience, tasty drinks and DJs spinning a variety of music, including reggae, house, hip-hop and Latin. Cocktails and beer range from $6 to $10. The club also has rotating art exhibits.

Happy Ending

302 Broome St., btwn Forsyth and Eldridge sts., 212-334-9676

Happy Ending’s name is a cheeky homage to its seedy past; it’s a former massage parlor. The street level has a swanky Rat Pack vibe and red velvet booths, while the basement level, which retains the showerheads and saunas of the original parlor, has a more club-like feel, complete with electro, disco, pop, rock, hip-hop and reggae. Beer, drafts, wine, and mixed drinks are $8 or less, and there’s never a cover.

Get on the list

Sometimes the only way to gain admittance to a club is by getting on a list. Get reduced or no cover charge at venues like Kiss & Fly, Taj, Hiro, Suzie Wong, Country Club and El Morocco by signing up on one of these sites.

– nyguestlists.com
– clubplanet.com
– velvetlist.com
– promony.com
– newyork2night.com

“Celebrities open up via Twitter”
By, Julie Gordon

*Casey Feldman contributed to this story.

Britney Spears is “playing Slip N’ Slide with the boys. SOOO CUTE!!!!” Ashton Kutcher “is running five minutes late.” Miley Cyrus is “going to atlantis whoop hoo!” John Mayer is “at home with some scotch and a breathalyzer.”

No detail is too small for a growing number of celebrities — many of whom claim they cherish their privacy — to share with the world via the micro-blogging Web site Twitter. The difference between twittering and dishing to reporters, they say, is that they control what reaches the public.

“It has allowed people to get closer to me,” said rapper LL Cool J. “More about the mind, not just the muscle. I’m in touch.”

Sammuel V. Anderegg, who started the “John Mayer” Facebook group in 2007, agreed. “You actually get the feel of a human being, not just … the gossip from a magazine.”

“It’s liberating for them,” said Gabriella Coleman, assistant professor of media, culture and communication at New York University. “They’re bypassing the middleman and doing it themselves.”

The role of those middleman — aka celebrity publicists — is shifting from primarily setting up media interviews and photo shoots, to schooling their clients about how to make the most of their 140-character postings called tweets.

Though some celebrities have others twitter for them, Nate Schreiber, president of publicity firm PMK/HBH whose clients include Miley, Jennifer Aniston and Jessica Simpson, said tweeting several times a day and in an authentic manner is most effective. Last month, Kutcher grabbed headlines when he beat CNN in a race to garner 1 million Twitter followers.

Celebrity blogger Perez Hilton said he gobbles up every detail of stars’ lives, but he wonders whether too much familiarity will deglamorize A-listers. “It’ll be interesting to see the long-term results of that because do we really want to see Brad Pitt and Angelina (Jolie) tweeting? he asked.

Hillary Fisk, 20, of Manhattan, said she follows celebrities on Twitter, especially TV star Heidi Montag. “They always write such stupid things and update so frequently. I lose respect for them because I’m like, shouldn’t you be doing something else? I wonder who [Heidi] thinks cares.”

Another twittering pitfall for celebs is revealing too much information, such as where they plan to dine, shop or party. Such tweets can be perceived as an invitation for fans or stalkers to show up.

Lori Levine, CEO of Flying Television Productions, which specializes in celebrity wrangling, brokering and events, advises her clients not to reveal these details.

“The bottom line is, while fans love you and care for you and follow you and are safe, stalkers pray on tweets,” she said.

“Who loves ya, baby? You do! Narcissism becomes epidemic, new book argues”
By, Heather Haddon

*Andrew Breiner and CASEY FELDMAN contributed to this story.

Move over obesity, America’s next epidemic is all about me, me, me.

Social networking and celebrity role models have contributed to a spate in narcissism, according to a book released by two prominent psychologists in recent days.

And self-absorption isn’t just growing among YouTube-hungry teens. Middle-aged adults also have shown their vanity with their obsession over reality T.V. and plastic surgery, the experts said.

“This goes way beyond college students. It’s a change in the whole culture,” said Jean Twenge, co-author of “The Narcissism Epidemic.”

The narcissism binge, Twenge writes, threatens to leave Americans with little capacity for charity or relationships and instead leaves them unattainable expectations that ultimately leads to unhappiness.

“Everyone’s now involved in reality television, MySpace, just getting yourself out there,” said Safina Bhatti, 32, of Murray Hill, who agreed with the book’s findings. “It makes it difficult to have real conversations.”

Narcissism first gained traction on a wide scale in the 1970s with the self-esteem movement. But the Internet made the hunt for fame a more universal obsession in America and other media-savvy nations like Japan, psychologists said.

“It has a lot to do with Facebook and Twitter,” said Elayne Rapping, a popular culture expert with the University at Buffalo. “The idea that anyone cares what you had for lunch, how much more narcissistic can you get?”

But not everyone believes “American Idol” or a bit of Botox are so bad.

“You can call it narcissism, but wanting to look good is an important part of someone’s self-image,” said Dr. Mauro Romita, a Manhattan plastic surgeon.

A national sample of more than 35,000 Americans found that 6 percent had suffered from extreme narcissism at some point of their lives, according to a study published last year by the National Institute of Health. In addition, one out of four college students showed signs of narcissism in 2006, according to a national study of 37,000 students conducted by the book’s authors.

And the rise and fall of self-important figures like Eliot Spitzer, Alex Rodriguez and John Edwards demonstrates that narcissism isn’t limited to the young, the book states.

Robert Galinsky, founder of the New York Reality TV School, said that unscripted programming has given talented strivers unprecedented outlets. Still, he acknowledged that more than half of his students are driven by a shortsighted obsession with stardom.

“They say, ‘I’m so interesting, funny and wild, there should be show about me,’” Galinsky said.

“Bloomberg ‘insensitive’ to reporter in wheelchair”
By, Marlene Naanes

*Casey Feldman contributed to this story.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg stared down and chastised a wheelchair-bound reporter after his tape recorder accidentally started playing during a news conference aired live on TV Thursday.

The mayor halted his comments about same-sex marriage legislation during a news conference held by the governor in his Manhattan office, glaring at the reporter and refusing to continue even as Gov. David Paterson tried to joke about the interruption.

The reporter said he could not reach his tape recorder, which was playing an earlier news conference, because the coat it was in had been knocked off his chair by a photographer, activating the device.

At one point, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn leaned over and told the mayor the reporter was disabled, to which he replied: “I understand that. He can still turn it off.”

The episode showed a lack of sensitivity, disabled advocates said. The reporter was troubled by the incident and wants an apology.

“I was quite embarrassed,” said the reporter, Michael Harris, who writes for examiner.com and is also a disability rights advocate. “The mayor singled me out in front of my colleagues. I think an apology would be appropriate, but I’m not optimistic that the mayor’s going to give one.”

Harris said the photographer and security guard had to retrieve the coat so he could turn the device off.

Observers said the standoff, which lasted more than a minute, was awkward. Politicians who were standing behind him at times laughed or seemed puzzled.

New Yorkers said the mayor could have shown compassion.

“[Bloomberg] looked very obnoxious, to be honest with you,” said Boris Gaviria, 33, of Forest Hills, who watched the news conference on television. “He’s not getting my vote. I’m surprised he would do that – he wants to be for all Americans.”

In a Daily News video of the incident, someone in the background could be heard saying, “he’s trying” while Harris apparently went to turn the device off. The mayor responded: “Let me start again because this is too important to get disruptive and maybe we just take everything outside.”

The mayor later said Harris is a good reporter and he would have responded the same to another reporter.

Harris said he didn’t receive an apology.

Lawrence Carter-Long, acting executive director of Disabilities Network of New York City, said he did not think the mayor was trying to be malicious and hoped the incident would shed light on the nuances of being disabled.

“It appears on the surface that there could be a little more sensitivity,” Carter-Long said. “I hope that everyone would learn the variables and nuances that occur within disabilities and they would educate themselves and think twice before making off-the-cuff comments.”

Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing), who was standing in the crowd of politicians while Bloomberg was speaking, called the mayor’s reaction a “hissy fit.”

“I happen to know Michael [Harris] very well,” Liu sad. “Michael was moving quickly as he can move to shut the device off. It so happens that Michael isn’t as dexterous as some of us are. It was an honest mistake. It did not require the kind of reaction that the mayor put out.”

“Study: Married couples with kids less happy”
By, Heather Haddon

*Jason Fink and CASEY FELDMAN contributed to this report.

Marital bliss isn’t child’s play.

Couples are less likely to find happiness ever after if they have children, especially right after tying the knot, according to a new study.

The eight-year survey of 218 couples found that children brought on a sudden case of the relationship blues, with about 90 percent of mothers and fathers feeling dissatisfied with their partner after the birth of a child, according to research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

“The first three or four months are like baby boot camp,” said Anna Grossman, a married mother with two young children living in lower Manhattan. “There’s no doubt it does change the dynamic of a marriage.”

Psychologists say that the combination of sleeplessness and new parental responsibilities tend to suck the energy out of maintaining a healthy relationship. Couples often stop communicating or regularly acting affectionate.

“Sex almost ceases to exist,” said Diana Kirschner, a therapist from Manhattan. “All their attention goes to the child.”

The couples who remained childless during the eight-year period experienced a gradual decline in their marital satisfaction, the study found. But couples who did have children saw a spike in problems such as poor communication and a crisis of faith in the marriage.

Many New York parents disagreed that kids had killed their marriage.

“It puts a stress on your life and marriage, but it’s a good stress,” said Lisa Karic, 41, of Staten Island.

Dissatisfaction was more pronounced among spouses who had a child soon after their marriage, along with parents with girl children. Female babies tend to make fathers more distant, according to researchers.

Still, babies aren’t always a downer. Spouses with higher-incomes or those who had been married longer tended to find children strengthened their relationship.

“It’s a blessing,” said Bettina McCall, 47, a Chelsea mother of two who was married for years before having children. “Once we had kids, it was like heaven.”

Family stress tends to ease up among couples who began their marriage with a solid foundation, psychologists say.

“Those who have a good relationship to begin with will find a way to negotiate [parenthood],” said Arthur Kovacs, a family psychologist from Los Angeles.

Psychologists advise new parents to take time out as a pair, even if it means forking over money for a babysitter. Grossman, who helped found a parenting group in lower Manhattan, said forming relationships with other new mothers took strain off her marriage.

“We all go through this,” said Grossman, whose group has 1,100 members. “To know you’re not alone is helpful.”

“Facebook fasting becoming a popular Lent sacrifice”

By, Marlene Naanes

*Melinda Hsia and CASEY FELDMAN contributed to this report.

When deciding what to give up for Lent, Fordham University student Rebecca Gehman decided she would sacrifice something that she spent five to 10 hours a week doing — surfing Facebook.

“I went to church, and I thought what would actually bring me closer to God or give me a better sense of self?” said Gehman, 18, of Manhattan, who admits she used to log in about five times a day. “What takes up time in my day? Facebook.”

Like many Catholics who give up something they enjoy during the 40 days before Easter, Facebook is becoming as popular as chocolate as a Lenten sacrifice. Several Facebook groups about giving up Facebook for Lent have sprouted up on the social networking Web site, which has more than 175 million users.

The faithful make have taken a cue from Italian bishops who urged Catholics to give up or moderate text messaging, using iPods or driving cars for Lent, which started Feb. 25.

“Technology has become the centerpiece for our culture, and in many, many ways that’s a great thing,” said Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League. “[Lent is] a good time for reflection and to pare back a bit. We’re so into ourselves, so narcissistic — that’s why the Catholic hierarchy is saying it’s time to step back, take a deep breath and realize there’s more to society than just you.”

A priest at Fordham University, a Jesuit school, suggested students there give up Facebook, a move praised by some administrators.

“It’s much harder to give up than chocolate for our students of this generation,” said Angela O’Donnell, associate director of Fordham’s Curran Center for American Catholic Studies. “One gives up something that you would really miss. If you do this on an hourly basis, much more on a minute-by-minute basis, it would be very hard.”

“Facebook fasters” are finding that halting their minute-by-minute status updates or picture postings turned out to be easier than they thought. However, some have found the site is often a necessity and had to break the fast.

Ponnu Varghese, 19, another Fordham Student who is Indian Orthodox, said she and a friend traded passwords and e-mail log-ins to lock each other out of Facebook for Lent.

While she broke her fast recently to get information about a friend passing away and to organize a religious group event, Varghese said she’ll go back to life without Facebook soon.

“I started talking about it with my friends and they said are you serious how are you going to survive?” she said. “I asked how did you survive before Facebook? Usually you hear about (giving up) chocolate or video games — it’s what’s meaningful to you.”

While staying off Facebook is easy for some, people are finding it’s hard on their friends.

Michael Wilhoite, a stage manager from the Upper West Side, said his wife has successfully given up on Facebook for Lent so far, but it’s angered her friends who usually communicate with her through the site. People have told her they’re mad they’ve had to contact her through e-mail instead aor wait until Lent ends to “talk” to her through Facebook, said Wilhoite, 33.

Her friends are not alone. Some New Yorkers wouldn’t even consider giving it up.

“This is New York,” said Marcelo Puebla, 38, of Union Square, who gave up junk food for Lent. “You can’t be out of touch.”

“Weekend train tie-ups nearly double in a year”
By, Heather Haddon

*Casey Feldman contributed to this story.

The weekend subway shuffle has gotten a lot worse — and don’t expect the time-consuming tie-ups to end any time soon.

The number of route changes on weekends nearly doubled between this January and last, according to an amNewYork analysis of MTA service advisories.

Straphangers have had to make sense of service advisory signs, and hopscotch through an average of 32 system changes on weekends last month, up from 17 in January 2008.

“You’re looking at a wall full of (signs saying) ‘don’t take this train, take that train,’” said Sabrina Chapman, 26, of East Harlem. “It’s like trying to decipher another language … How do I even get anywhere?”

Taking the No. 2 downtown from the Bronx, for example, required catching a No. 5 train instead, then switching to a shuttle bus at 149th Street. Those looking to go to the World Trade Center station had to swap the E for the A.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board President Howard Roberts Jr. admitted that the MTA should do more to ensure passengers know the hurdles that await them after a MetroCard swipe.

“We don’t always get (the advisories) right,” Roberts said at a board meeting this week.

The MTA is cramming in weekend work to spend its allotted $10 billion under its 2005-10 capital plan. Crews are upgrading stations, replacing signals and conducting maintenance on the aging infrastructure.

The MTA believes it will take until 2030 – at the earliest – to bring the system into good repair. With weekends the preferred time for work, expect diversions for years to come.

“There is tremendous amount of work to do,” said Larry Gold, the MTA coordinator for service diversions. “Almost every train route has some disruptions on it during the weekends.”

Slowing the pace of work is undesirable, Gold said, because the MTA gets more bang out of its diversion buck by stringing several projects together. Crews will work at several stations on a line once its power is cut, or fix the signals and tracks on one segment, he said.

Still, some transit advocates fear all the work could turn people off from the subways at a time when ridership is declining.

“When a passenger walks into a station and sees walls of diversion, they turn off,” said Andrew Albert, a nonvoting MTA board member. “It’s bewildering.”

“Service is bad on the weekends,” said Treniese Ladson, 26, of the Bronx. “Everything’s just wrong.”

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