Rangers Come to Madison Square Garden

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This has been a great year for the Rangers, who are currently competing against the Los Angeles Kings for the Stanley Cup.  Tonight at Madison Square Garden is the first Stanley Cup Final game in 20 years, as the Rangers hope to beat the Kings.  The Rangers are down 2-0 in the series, after losing Game 2 this past Saturday in double overtime.  It’s unclear if the team will be able to successfully get out of this slump; out of the seven different series where the Rangers started off in a 0-2 hole, the team has only won twice.  The Kings, on the other hand, have won seven straight series where they’d taken the first two games.  Therefore, odds don’t look too good for the Rangers.  Nonetheless, New York City is holding out hope.

Rangers Playoffs

The New York Rangers are hoping to get themselves a Stanley Cup, hopefully their first one in 20 years.

According to Kevin Klein, Rangers defenseman, the support of New York fans is giving the Rangers the motivation that they need to bring that Stanley Cup home.  The team is excited to give their fans something to cheer about, and the players are hopeful.  Despite the Rangers’ recent slump, fans are confident that their team can go up against the Kings.  Game 3 is set for tonight at 8pm, while Game 4 will be played at the Garden on Wednesday.

In many ways, this Stanley Cup match is personal; Los Angeles and New York City, located on opposite corners of the continental United States, have a long-standing rivalry with each other.  Even looking at the two cities, one can notice a clear difference; Los Angeles is spread out over a massive area, giving it a much more “horizontal” feel.  New York, on the other hand, is much more tightly packed together, and its skyscrapers give the whole city a more “vertical” feel.  Even the personalities of the two cities – the lackadaisical, laid-back attitude of Los Angeles compared to the intense, direct character of New York – tend to clash.



New York’s Best Speakeasies

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During the 1920s, Congress passed the Volstead Act, which made the sale of alcohol illegal in America.  However, this law did nothing to abate the American people’s craving for alcohol, and “speakeasies”, secret bars that sold alcohol, sprung up across the country.  In New York City alone, there were an estimated 30,000 to 100,000 of these establishments.  In 1933, after the American ban on alcohol created more problems than solutions, the Volstead Act was repealed, and the thrill of secret passwords, false storefronts and lawlessness that characterized Prohibition was gone.  But in the past ten years or so, the idea of unmarked “secret” bars and strong cocktails has captured the imagination of New Yorkers, and such establishments have reappeared across the city.  I recently came across an article that discusses the top speakeasies in New York, and what they have to offer.

Apotheke exterior

A line of people wait outside of Doyers Street, hoping to get into Apotheke.

In the heart of Chinatown lies Doyers, a tiny, boomerang-shaped street one block long lined with Chinese barber shops and sketchy-looking storefronts.  During the first half of the 20th century, Doyers street was the site of Chinatown’s bloody gang wars, when Chinese criminal organizations known as “Tongs” fought one another for control of the area.  On this street lies a former Chinese opium den, which has since been converted into a speakeasy, “Apotheke”.  This unique spot offers over 250 specialty cocktails (mostly between $15 and $18).  There’s live music on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays.  On “Prohibition Wednesdays”, there’s a house jazz band, and a password is required to enter (don’t worry, they post the password on their Twitter page).

In 1896, New York State passed “Raines Law”, which prohibited the sale of alcohol on Sundays.  While the law was meant to stop workmen from spending their days off in a drunken stupor, there was a major loophole: alcohol could still be served in hotels.  Because of this, saloons began offering makeshift rooms so they could qualify as hotels.  In the Flatiron District, on west 17th street between 5th and 6th avenues, lies “Raines Law Room”, a speakeasy named in honor of the famous “Raines Law”.  Here, you can sit down in a train compartment-like room, and when you’re ready for the staff to take your order, you tug a pull-chain.  While you sit down, you should take a look at the wallpaper, which is a twist on the atmosphere of most modern speakeasies.

During Prohibition, the Volstead Act wasn’t always enforced.  Authorities who enjoyed drinking frequently turned a blind eye to speakeasies in their area, and therefore, bars often opened their doors and poured drinks without fear of being arrested.  The Richardson, in Brooklyn, is meant to be a nod to this laid-back attitude.  The cocktails are reasonably priced ($9-11), the snacks are all good, and the patrons are all laid-back locals.

Angels Share

Bartenders at Angel’s Share mix drinks.

Angel’s Share, located in the East Village, is a lot older than a lot of the other establishments on this list, having been opened in the mid-1990s.  The establishment is located above a Japanese comfort food joint.  With its jazz and Suntory whiskey cocktails, this bar is Prohibition with a Japanese twist.  With no standing and no parties greater than four admitted, it’s also a perfect spot for couples.  Also located in the East Village is Death + Company, a craft spirits joint that offers exceptional cocktails, such as the Javanese Daiquiri, made up of lime cordial, fresh curry leaves and generous amounts of rum.  The bar doesn’t take reservations, operating on a first-come, first-serve basis.  If the place is full, then they’ll take your number and give you a call when there’s room.

Manderley Bar, at the McKittrick Hotel, allows patrons the chance to enjoy a cocktail and live music.  Thanks to plenty of red velvet and literal smoke and mirrors, the bar is strongly reminiscent of a jazz-age venue.  The Candy Shop Boys, a band that performs tunes popular back in the 1920s and features singer Sophia Urista, regularly perform here.

In Chelsea lies “Bathtub Gin”, a hopping gin joint named after a cheaply-made alcohol that was popular during Prohibition.  The spot is hidden behind a trick door at Stone Street Coffee Company.  Here, you can enjoy gin in numerous forms (shaken, stirred, on the rocks or in cocktails).  In the middle of the place is a large copper bathtub; you’re more than welcome to hop in if you’d like.

One of the first places to kick start the return of the speakeasy was Hotel Delmano, located in Williamsburg.  The ceilings here are high, and big shop windows let in the setting sun.  This place gives a real old-timey feel, and offers reasonably priced specialty drinks, which typically range between $9-14.


Detroit Bankruptcy

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Earlier today, Detroit’s three automakers have committed $26 million toward $100 million pledged by the city’s art museum to save its collection from being tapped to raise cash for Detroit’s bankruptcy.  Under a so-called “grand bargain”, the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) would contribute $100 million to ease pension cuts on the city’s retirees and avoid a sale of art works to pay city creditors.  So far, philanthropic foundations have pledged about $366 million, while the state of Michigan would make a payment of about $195 million.  Ford Motor Company Fund shall donate $10 million, General Motors plans to give $10 million (half from the company, another half from the foundation), while Chrysler group will be giving $6 million.


For some years now, Detroit has been feeling the pains of urban decay.

As part of the grand bargain, ownership of the DIA’s collection and assets would be transferred from the city to the private nonprofit corporation that is currently operating the museum.  On Thursday, the Detroit City Council unanimously voted to support this transfer.  Detroit workers and retirees still have to vote on the city’s plan to adjust $18 billion of debt and exit the biggest municipal bankruptcy in American history.  Shirley Lightsey, president of the Detroit Retired City Employees Association, spoke at the DIA event, announcing the car makers’ commitment, urging retirees to vote in favor on the ballots they need to send back by July 11th.

City unions and the Michigan attorney general have contended that the state constitution prohibits the impairment of pension benefits for public sector workers.  However, city and state officials have warned that if members of Detroit’s general and police and fire retirement systems reject the plan, the money from the grand bargain would go away and retirees would have to face even bigger pension cuts.  Starting on July 24th, US Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes will be conducting a confirmation hearing on the plan to determine if it is fair and feasible.