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Three Reasons to Love New York This Weekend

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Mayor Bloomberg recently announced that in 2009 New York City was the most popular tourist destination in the United States for the first time since 1990, with over 45 million tourists visiting the city. New York City remains the most popular destination in the nation for international visitors with 8.6 million international tourists in 2009 – twice as many as the city’s nearest competitor, Los Angeles.

Like the rest of the world, we love New York for its energy, diversity and its endless variety of offerings, cultural and otherwise. Here are just a few reasons to love New York this weekend.


Alias Man Ray: The Art of Reinvention

The Jewish Museum; through March 14

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The quintessential modernist, Man Ray (born Emmanuel Radnitzky) recast the concept of artistic identity, working as a painter, photographer, sculptor, printmaker, filmmaker, poet, and essayist. He perpetually tinkered with material at hand, putting to ingenious use the practical skills learned in a variety of jobs, from advertising to mapmaking to engraving. Man Ray airbrushed paintings to make them look like photographs and exposed objects on light-sensitive paper to create cameraless “rayographs.” He met the demand for originality in the world of fashion by creating a hybrid of Surrealism and high style, and even became a celebrity himself as a portrait photographer—indeed, his fame as a photographer overshadowed his accomplishments as a painter. A conflicted identity, however, was central to an artist who yearned to escape the limitations of his Russian Jewish immigrant past.

For Man Ray, a sense of otherness was deeply connected to the problem of assimilation—the wish for both “notoriety” and “oblivion”—and hence “the desire to become a tree en espalier,” a tree trained to grow into a vine that becomes entwined with others, its origins disguised. The artist’s self-consciousness was an outgrowth of his time, a period that witnessed the rise of nation-state identity and xenophobia, and an unprecedented wave of immigration, class consciousness, and anti-Semitism. His life and work powerfully reflect his contradictory need to obscure and declare himself.

While many museums are closed on Mondays, the Jewish Museum is open during the duration of the exhibit for Museum Mondays! Experience Alias Man Ray on this special day with a docent-led tour or staff gallery talk every Monday at 1:00 pm. Special discounts apply on Mondays as well. The Jewish Museum is located at 1109 Fifth Avenue. For tickets or more information about the exhibit call 212-423-3337 or visit www.thejewishmuseum.org. Courtesy of the Jewish Museum.


PBR’s (Professional Bull Rider’s) 2010 Built Ford Tough Series.

Madison Square Garden; January 8th and 9th at 8pm and January 10th at 1pm

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The rules are simple. Place a wiry 150-pound cowboy on the back of a hulking, snorting temperamental 2,000 pound bull and see if he can ride the beast for an eternal eight seconds…with one hand strapped to the bull’s massive backside. More than 40 bull riders with nerves of steel will be competing this weekend at the Professional Bull Riders competition at Madison Square Garden.

PBR fans can look forward to rides by top athletes such as 2009 PBR World Champion Kody Lostroh (Longmont, Colo); 2009 PBR Daisy Rookie of the Year Cody Nance (Carthage, Texas); and fan favorites Mike White (De Kalb, Texas), and Ross Coleman (Molalla, Ore.). Challenging them will be the top bovine athletes on the planet.

Headquartered in Colorado, the Professional Bull Riders, Inc. was created in 1992 when a group of 20 visionary bull riders broke away from the traditional rodeo scene seeking mainstream attention for the sport of professional bull riding. They felt that, as the most popular event at a rodeo, bull riding deserved to be in the limelight and could easily stand alone. Each rider invested a hard-earned $1,000, a few of them borrowing from family and friends, to start the PBR.

Professional bull riding is a fierce, rough, and grueling sport with roots deeply imbedded in American culture. It’s America’s original extreme sport. The PBR has evolved into a captivating and adrenaline charged sporting event that features an all star cast of the greatest bull riders and bucking bulls in the world.

Tickets available through Ticketmaster or at www.thegarden.com. Prices vary from $10 to $195.


After the professionals have shown you how to do it, try it yourself at

Bull Riding at Johnny Utah’s

25 West 51st Street

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For those of you who are inspired to try a little bull riding after the PBR Rodeo at the Garden, Johnny Utah’s, home of Manhattan’s original mechanical bull, has redefined the urban cowboy experience. The 6,000 square foot restaurant comes equipped with three 15 foot projection screens and can accommodate parties from 15-400 guests and is located steps from Rockefeller Center. The restaurant boasts an authentic Southwestern menu and impressive cocktail list. Johnny Utah’s versatile space, theatrical environment and live performance capabilities makes it ideal for any type of event, including an evening with good friends.

At Johnny Utah’s, the mechanical bull is as authentic as the real thing.  The 300 pound, 6 foot bull, sits center stage in the 6000 square foot restaurant.  Johnny Utah’s hosts weekly bull-riding competitions and is visited frequently by many of the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) seen across the world (including this weekend’s competition at Madison Square Garden).  Everyone above 18 years of age is welcome to ride the bull and to experience the authentic cowboy experience. For more information call 212-265-8824 or visit www.johnnyutahs.com.


Improvised Shakespeare by The Improvised Shakespeare Company

Barrow Street Theater, 27 Barrow Street at Seventh Avenue South

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All lovers of the Bard will love this top-of-the-head take on Shakespeare’s plays. Based on one audience suggestion (a title for a play that has yet to be written), The Improvised Shakespeare Company creates a fully improvised play in Elizabethan style. Each of the players has brushed up on his “thee’s” and “thou’s” to bring you an evening of off-the-cuff comedy using the language and themes of William Shakespeare.

Any hour could be filled with power struggles, star-crossed lovers, sprites, kings, queens, princesses, sword-play, rhyming couplets, asides, insults, persons in disguise and all that we’ve come to expect from the pen of the Great Bard. The night could reveal a tragedy, comedy, or history. Nothing is planned-out. Each play is completely improvised, so each play is entirely new!

This Chicago based troupe is in New York for this weekend only. Shows are Sat & Sun 10pm, Mon 8pm.  Ticket price is $20. Tickets available on smarttix.com

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