Saturday, December 30, 2006

With Liberty and Burgers for All

Tonight, a minor commotion occurred outside the Burger King on 14th Street. A statuesque woman emerged from the restaurant and was immediately surrounded by people screaming, shouting and begging for autographs.

Leaning against the front window, New York Liberty Guard Loree Moore graciously signed napkins, menus and scraps of paper and posed for photos with her fans.

A star athlete eating burgers? Aren't they restricted to diets of filtered water, vitamins, protein powders and tofu? Moore laughed, shook her head, and said that she eats what she likes and she prefers burgers.

Hmmm. A scandal-free professional basketball player and role model who loves burgers? Sounds like an endorsement deal just waiting to happen. Burger King, are you listening?

Loree Moore  Posted by Picasa

The star with fans  Posted by Picasa

New York Liberty
Loree Moore
Burger King

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

You’re in New York. Go in Style.

If you've spent any time in New York City, you know that clean, free public restrooms are almost nonexistent. And in midtown Manhattan, site of some of the busiest streets in the world, relief is frustratingly elusive.

However, in a brilliant marriage of public service and promotion, on November 20th Procter & Gamble's Charmin brand toilet paper opened a public restroom in the heart of Times Square. Located in the Bertelsmann Building at 1540 Broadway, next to the Virgin Megastore, the Charmin restrooms are not only sparkling clean, they are actually entertaining.

The building, squarely in the center of a prime destination for millions of tourists and natives, has been staffed with dozens of cheerful hosts and attendants (many of them out-of-work actors and dancers) in blue and white uniforms.

Anticipating long lines, the planners equipped the waiting space with plentiful seating, plasma televisions, a disco-like stage where guests can sing and dance to the brand's bouncy theme song, a nose-blowing lounge area stocked with boxes of facial tissues, a pair of fireplaces, stroller parking, tourist information and a photo corner for those who want a picture with Charmin's mascot, a big, fuzzy brown bear.

The main attractions are even more impressive -- 20 small, bright, private rooms, including some with disabled access and baby changing stations. All are equipped with sinks, soap and plenty of Charmin toilet paper and are hand-cleaned by an attendant after each use.

Sadly, this deluxe comfort palace is here only temporarily. Due to some baffling city ordinance or other, on December 31 the Charmin restrooms will close their doors forever. Unfortuately, it seems that sometimes even restrooms have to go.

Entrance under the arrow Posted by Picasa

The waiting line Posted by Picasa

Sign inside a stall Posted by Picasa

Inside a stall: lots of soap, mirrors & towels Posted by Picasa

Ceiling of a stall Posted by Picasa

Lounging near an electric fireplace Posted by Picasa

Posing for photos with the bear Posted by Picasa

Attendant photographing a visitor with the big bear  Posted by Picasa

The nose-blowing section Posted by Picasa

Charmin in Times Square
The Procter & Gamble Company
Bertelsmann Building
NY Magazine: Charmin's Times Square Toilets
YouTube: Charmin's Times Square Bathrooms
USA Today: Charmin Rolls Out 20 Restrooms

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Fêtes de Noël at Bryant Park

European-style outdoor holiday markets are a relatively new phenomenon in New York City. In recent years these temporary marketplaces have appeared in several areas around Manhattan including Union Square (the oldest), Columbus Circle (the newest), the cafe at St. Bartholomew's Church (the smallest) and Bryant Park (the most centrally-located).

Now in its fifth year, the holiday market at Bryant Park is officially known as Fêtes de Noël. The market includes over 100 booths with green and white striped canvas roofs arrayed around the fountain (turned off for the season) and the skating rink (erected for the season). Most of the booths offer specialty items and handicrafts ranging from stuffed toys to suits of armor.

Tucked among and around the booths are an enormous star-topped tree and a refreshment area complete with tables, chairs and snacks including hot cider, cocoa, hot waffles, candy apples, caramel apples and shao bings (Chinese buns).

If shopping, snacking and skating becomes boring, you can always duck into the New York Public Library -- the main research library shares the block with Bryant Park and its closed stacks are located directly under this space.

42nd Street entrance to Bryant Park Posted by Picasa

Booth selling goods from Thailand Posted by Picasa

Candle booth Posted by Picasa

At a jewelry booth Posted by Picasa

Food booth: apples on the right, bings on the left Posted by Picasa

Hot apple cider - $3.00 a cup Posted by Picasa

The skating rink Posted by Picasa

Kids skating class Posted by Picasa

A little skater and friends Posted by Picasa

Skaters in view of the tree  Posted by Picasa

Greenery & booths around the fountain  Posted by Picasa

Women's clothing booth Posted by Picasa

The stands at night  Posted by Picasa

The Bryant Park tree  Posted by Picasa

NY Magazine: Fêtes de Noël
Fêtes de Noël
NY Magazine: Bryant Park
New York Public Library stacks
NYC Nosh: Bings
Roll and Dough
NY Times: Unique Pastry Bing