I went to a walkthrough of the recently-opened Hyatt Union Square on Fourth Avenue between 12th and 13th Streets last night, to see what the first new hotel in the neighborhood in more than a decade looks like. As it happens, in many ways it looks like every other Hyatt I've visited. I mean that in a good way. The hotel boasts tastefully-furnished guest rooms, a friendly, helpful staff, and clean, airy public spaces: the kind of place that takes some of the pain out of business travel and adds a premium of pleasure to leisurely jaunts. This being franchise-averse Manhattan, though, it has a few cool downtown twists to help it fit into the Union Square area, which I've always considered the real heart of New York for people who actually live here (sorry, Times Square). Exhibit A: a cool sculpture by Brinton Jaecks called "Hypnagogia" (above) in the hotel's independently-operated restaurant, The Fourth, featuring a series of discarded beds connected by hand-carved wooden chains. I looked at the sculpture, hanging as the massive, slightly twisted centerpiece to the two-level, three-meal restaurant, and wondered to myself: is Hyatt letting its freak flag fly? Maybe a little.
When people tell me they're getting married, I have only one piece of advice to offer, a simple rule that will ensure the event is memorable for all the right reasons: No booze before the I do's. By which I mean, don't have an open bar until the vows are over. Passed hors d'oeuvres, soft drinks, sure. But give your guests cocktails and they'll be talking through the vows, laughing and yammering on as you profess your love to your future spouse. You will hear them, and you will hate them for the rest of your life. I've seen it happen. "Do you take this woman ... HYAW! HYAW! HYAW! ... To have and to hold ... OH MY GAWD LOOK AT THE FLOWERS ... In sickness and in ... LOOK WHO SYLVIA CAME WITH ... until death do you ... DID YOU GET A GOOD PARKING SPOT?" It's terrible. Everything else about a wedding will fall into place if you keep the bar closed until you're officially married. Anybody who didn't already know was given a taste of what happens when you ignore this rule last night at Manhattan's Gallow Green, where Italian aperitif maker Campari hosted a faux-wedding between historical figures Davide Campari and Lina Cavalieri as part of the ongoing Manhattan Cocktail Classic.
I think my friend at the record company sold me a bill of goods. “Jillette can drink me, you, and all the Virginmarys under the table,” he told me. I had my doubts, but was willing to give Jillette Johnson, the fetching young singer-songwriter, a chance. Yet here we are at Rogue & Canon, sampling no fewer than five cocktails, and she’s drinking … responsibly. Drinking like a mature, level-headed individual who makes her career a priority and has to go home later to work on some songs. A few sips of this, a few sips of that, pleasant banter, thoughtful answers, and a generally healthy attitude toward work and life. As Dorothy Parker would say: what the hell?
I'm pretty sure London has had the pay-for-puking rule for a long time. They're more advanced than we are in the puking arts. (June 26, 2012)