About Jessica Tiare Bowen

Jessica Tiare Bowen

Jessica Tiare Bowen lives in the juicy Big Apple with her adorable pink-nosed chihuahua, Gillman. He's the inspiration for her first published children's book, "Park Avenue Pound Puppy." The book is the combined result of her two greatest passions: pooches and penning stories.

Her passions include art, urban hikes through Manhattan, drinking coffee with 3 creams and 6 sugars, making extremely detailed itineraries and traveling to far away places, singing along to Broadway shows, Netflix movie nights, discovering incredible treasures at Goodwill and thrift stores, and listening to stories from little people under 7 and big people over 70.

She started her career as New York City Teaching Fellow, teaching elementary school and theater arts at a special education school in the South Bronx for 6 years. She is now a Special Education School Improvement Specialist working in public schools throughout New York City. She is the Editor-In-Chief of the online New York City travel magazine, Used York City. The magazine focuses on finding the best of New York...as used by New Yorkers. She is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, and an ASPCA Ambassador.


Latest Posts by Jessica Tiare Bowen

Ramen at Noodle Cafe Zen in New York’s St. Mark’s Place

September 12, 2014 by  

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Far back in the day, I loved Ramen Noodles.  Not only did I eat them as they were intended them to be eaten, I’d also crunch the noodles up and eat them dry…add a bit of Prego and eat them ala Italiana…even soak them in butter and sprinkle with cinnamon for a delicious makeshift dessert.  Palate of a 5 year old, I tell you!  But I digress.

Up to this point in my life, I had never had REAL Ramen.  When I was in Japan I was scared to try it because it was really hard to communicate “vegetarian” effectively, and I didn’t want to risk ingesting bits of pork (shudder!).  So when I saw a veggie option on the menu of Noodle Cafe Zen last weekend, I gave it a go.

They have a great lunch special served with a salad, huge bowl of soup, and a side for about $10. It’s hard to beat that in New York City.

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WHERE: Noodle Cafe Zen
31 St. Marks Place 
New York, New York 

 

 

Finding All Things Green in the Big Apple

September 5, 2014 by  

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As the dog days of summer approach, make the most out of these last bits of sunshine in some of Manhattan’s best green spaces that are perhaps not as well known (or crowded!) as our crown jewel, Central Park.

1. The smallest park in New York City is located in the heart of the Upper West Side.

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2. Head uptown to Manhattan’s tippy-top neighborhood of Inwood to Ft. Tryon Park (also home to the Cloisters, Heather Gardens, and a HUGE dog run!)

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3. Fancy a 25 foot waterfall in Midtown, anyone?

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4. The Highline is a downtown staple, where kids and adults alike can hardly resist a little water play.  And stargazing!  And movies projected on buildings!  And music, constantly!  Too much fun, I tell you.

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5. A quiet place to sit with your book and organic juice can be found in Nolita’s Elizabeth Street Garden.

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6. Battery Park is packed with playgrounds and plenty of picnic spots for you and your littles.

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7. The Museum of Modern Art allows visitors to use its sculpture gardens, sans the ticket price.  #artwin

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8. Hudson River Park is the perfect place for water enthusiasts, because, free kayaking!

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9. An acre of green space, elevated.  A bit hidden, but every bit worth the visit, especially for its views of the Brooklyn Bridge.

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10. The East Village’s Creative Little Garden is a change of pace from Starbucks for freelancers, and also a lovely place to volunteer your time if flowers are your jam.

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Do you have a favorite green space in Manhattan or in your city?  Share below!

 

 

What You’ll Find at the Brooklyn Flea Market

August 29, 2014 by  

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Recently during a move, I suggested we check out the Brooklyn Flea Market with the sole purpose of finding the perfect nightstand. (Brooklyn Flea without purpose = disaster.  I love EVERYTHING.)

There are 3 different locations: Fort Greene, Williamsburg, and Park Slope, and we chose Williamsburg because I also really wanted to drive through the Hasidic Jewish community while we were there.

Seriously: such a fun Sunday afternoon!  Along with vintage clothing, furniture and more tchotchkes than you’d ever know what to do with, there were also tons of food vendors there selling anything you could possibly be craving.  Hibiscus donuts?  Done!!!

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In the end we did find the perfect nightstand: an old crate that I’ll turn on its side.  Of course the hubby was like #youpaidhowmuchforthatthing?!, but it was a fraction of what the furniture stores were charging. Plus: vintage!  And fun day Sunday!  Totes worth it:-)

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Have you ever been on a mission to find the perfect {insert random object here}?  If so, where did you end up finding it?  Share below!

 

 

 

Cabaret On Broadway, as Good as Ever

August 14, 2014 by  

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“What good is sitting alone in your room? Come, hear the music play. Life is a cabaret, old chum, come to the cabaret!”

An iconic invitation, how can you resist? Even with MY froggy vocals doing the inviting!

Over the years, I have heeded this call. This is my 3rd visit to a revival of “Cabaret” and I can assure you that like good wine, it improves with age. This is a vintage year.

“Cabaret” revolves around the residents of  Berlin during the heyday of Weimar Germany – after WWI, during the decade leading to WWII – a dizzying era, shocking even by today’s standards. Berliners lived like they would never see tomorrow; as if everyday were their last. Hedonism became a religion and personal pleasure the ultimate goal while the overt rumblings of an imminent war underscored (and ultimately dominated) not only the stages of dim nightclubs, but darkened the world stage.  Berlin’s vibrant, grimy, and divinely low cabaret scene was an experience that history will never repeat. Be prepared for some chilling scenes as hedonism gives way to Nazism and the theaters of war.

“Cabaret” as we now know it has morphed, evolved and been adapted in every genre.   Initially it was a novel, then a collection of Christopher Isherwood semi autobiographical stories titled “GoodBye to Berlin.”  These formed the basis for a successful Broadway drama titled “I am a Camera” by John Van Druten which was subsequently made into a 1955 film with the same title starring the late, great Julie Harris.  In 1969, it morphed into a truly original idea – the “concept” musical.  A slim narrative was present but this daring show was presented as a series of vignettes with more appropriately seedy, marginal characters added to the fray of expats living out their edgy, sometimes sordid lives in 1930s Berlin. But I must add that without Kurt Weill’s seminal musical titled “Three Penny Opera,” we would never have experienced “Cabaret.”  Indeed Kurt Weill’s widow, Lotte Lenya, played Fraulein Schneider in the original 1969 Broadway musical now simply titled “Cabaret.”

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However new heights and cult status were achieved when a whirlwind of a superb musical score was expanded for the brilliant film version of “Cabaret” directed and choreographed by Bob Fosse. He made the magnificent Liza Minelli as leading “lady” (I use this term loosely!) Sally Bowles a part of our vernacular – not to mention collecting an array of Oscars. This movie adaptation was so infectious, subsequent musical stage revivals had to alter the initial Kander and Ebb score to include songs from the movie musical, as well as enhance the role of the “Emcee” made so infamously delicious by Joel Grey in the film.  The 1988 Broadway revival brought back Joey Grey as the “Master of Ceremonies” in a now leading role.  Then the 1998 revival with the marvelous – and achingly missed Natasha Richardson – discovered and subsequently established Alan Cumming as a major force to contend with on stage, in film and on tv (not to mention one heck of a sense of humor on talk shows) while opening the door for some really talented actresses- from Brook Shields to Jennifer Jason Leigh- to relish the  part of the American expat, Sally Bowles,  in this five year run.

So history lesson over now and………. WILKOMMEN!

Don’t miss this fabulous show, with again, the AMAZING Alan Cummings in a landmark performance  as the” Emcee” of the krazy “Kit Kat Klub”  and Michelle Williams as the even kookier, wistful “Sally Bowles” leading this revival. But less you think it ends there, old chum, you will be overjoyed with an incredibly strong supporting cast of performers – the dynamic dancers alone are on a level of their own –   with Linda Emond as Fraulein Schneider and Danny Burstein (has he ever found his groove, one great part after the next) as Herr Schultz.  Such pathos to their respective performances.

The actual performance stage is tiny as the venue (the infamous Studio 54) has been totally reworked to create an authentic cabaret club.

It is practically an interactive show as in a theater set like this, familiarity is inevitable! The orchestra seating consists of small bistro tables seating four and dotted with a tiny red lamp. You can order a drink at the table prior to the show, all adding to the cabaret atmosphere.

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But these particular “Cabaret” cast members are in truth hardly the seedy, divinely decadent, poverty stricken nightclub performers they portray ….they are some of the best talent you will catch on Broadway this season…Alan Cumming alone has set the bar so high that even the acrobats from Pippin can’t get there! A must see show. “Cabaret” is at Studio 54 until January 2015 and I heard tell just the other day that Michelle Williams may extend her stay past August 31st, 2014.  But check to be sure.

Contributed by: Joanne Theodorou

 

 

 

A Summer Moment at MOMA’s Sculpture Garden

August 4, 2014 by  

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On a recent visit to the MOMA, I noticed the queuing system had changed…it seemed they were only checking tickets to go upstairs, rather than also on the ground floor of the museum…the floor that houses the sculpture garden.  I asked at the information desk, and sure enough, the garden is now free to the general public during all museum hours.

Besides just being a lovely place to sit with a good book (and goodness knows we need all the green space we can get in Midtown!), the garden is also home to pieces by some names you’ve probably heard once or twice…Picasso and Matisse ring a bell?  Here’s a few of my favorite shots from the inside.

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Do you have a local garden you frequent?  Share below!

 

 

 

 

Meet New Museum, Manhattan’s Only Dedicated Contemporary Art Museum

August 2, 2014 by  

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As Manhattan’s only dedicated contemporary art museum, the New Museum is known for being THE destination for new art and new ideas.

{Sidenote: I’ll be very clear here…if contemporary art is not your jam (read: kinda kooky, kinda off-the-wall installations sometime covered with glitter…ahem, below), then by all means, you’ll want to head uptown to take in more of the classics, if you get my drift.  However, if you can get down with hip and new and sometimes a little craycray, while appreciating that yes, some of it looks like things you constructed in your 4th grade art class, then by all means, go, go, GO!}

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I attended the preview for their newest exhibit “Here and Elsewhere” last week, which is the first museum-wide exhibition in NYC to feature contemporary art from and about the Arab world.  I dug the name, which references the words of Edward Said: “new critical attitudes toward art and images encourage us to look elsewhere in order to understand our here.”

The exhibit will be on display until September 28th.  Here are a few snapshots of my favorite exhibition pieces:

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Let’s talk contemporary art…do you dig it, or not your jam?  Share in the comments below!

 
 
WHERE: New Museum
235 Bowery
New York, New York
 
TICKETS: $16, but Thursday evenings from 7-9pm pay-what-you-wish

 

 

The Phantom Of The Opera, a Granddaddy of a Musical Keeps Ticking…

July 30, 2014 by  

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I arrived full circle with “The Phantom of the Opera.”  This granddaddy of a musical is still playing some 26 years after its 1988 opening at the appropriately named “Majestic Theater” and remains the longest running show on Broadway.  I can’t envision anything topping this fantastic record, although should it ever happen, I hope “Chicago” inherits the crown simply because it seems right that an American musical hold this title.

I was quite fortunate to catch this landmark show soon after it opened in early 1988 to somewhat reluctant raves from the critics, but thunderous applause from its mesmerized audience.  Yes, I was young and impressionable (that’s a good thing!) and found this show intensely romantic (if only!) yet I was old enough to appreciate the new musical theatrics, both vocally and visually, at work here. Like everyone else, I bought the album… yes, on vinyl, those were the days…. and wore it out along with my vocal chords!  Whatever made me think I was a soprano?

So I jumped at this recent opportunity to see how I would perceive “Phantom” so many years later given that my world has altered in every way possible.

In 1988 this show was like no other with its amazing stage inventiveness, excepting perhaps “Cats” and “Starlight Express” – both Andrew Lloyd Weber shows, no coincidence there – which paved the way for the eye popping theatrics of “Phantom.”  The 80s were a seminal time in musical theater history; the British invasion had arrived on our Great White Way and our stages were filled with shows from London’s West End. “Phantom” was the hottest ticket in town and its composer was welcomed as the heir apparent to the melodic traditions of Richard Rodgers. Yes, there were rumblings about the melodrama of its story, and the repetitive, perhaps copied nature of the music – but we all ignored the naysayers, this show was just too dazzling to let them take away the welcomed sensual pleasures at work here.  We all came out feeling that we had surely gotten way more then our money’s worth of entertainment. “Phantom” was – and I gladly maintain that “Phantom”  STILL IS – a major theatrical experience.

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You all know this legendary story as it essentially follows the plot lines of “Beauty and the Beast.” The Phantom (an intense, emotional Norm Lewis in this current production, living up to the iconic performance of Michael Crawford as the original Phantom) resides under the Paris Opera House circa the era of the Belle Epoque, thus the exquisite costumes and sumptuous sets. Sadly, he is hidden from the world, denied of humanity, as he was horribly deformed as a child and rejected by the cruel world. Enter the beautiful young songstress, Christine Daae – magnificently performed by the fabulous Sierra Bogess. (You may recall she did the London PBS televised 25th Anniversary performance of “Phantom” several years back.)  Such an electrifying performance, my hair stood on end -  Sierra/Christine is surely the “angel of music” achingly sought by the Phantom.  He is smitten with her musically and every other way and is determined to move her out of the chorus, into his lair, and make her a star.  What inevitably follows and keeps you enthralled are the mysterious, downright creepy, doings astir at the Opera House. But of course a love triangle ensues as the handsome, vocally gifted Raul (nicely sung by Jeremy Hays) enters this timeless story.  The plot thickens as does the music and the overt moving production numbers. Think “pop opera” due to the intense bass line that underscores many of the songs alongside the sung dialogue. This luscious score is always melodic, emotional, at times exquisite, and ultimately downright voluptuous. It all comes together in a glorious orgy of melody, costumes, and staging.

How can this show ever date? I know there are muted grumblings now about the  campiness of the infamous chandelier effects and the artifice of the musical numbers. I don’t debate any of these easy criticisms. But when a show sells out night after night, and runs for 26 years….well, they must be doing something right!

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And so you rightfully ask, is this show better the 2nd time around? And in my case,  so many years later? YOU BET.  I felt an emotional maturity and depth in the music as well as in this ageless story which I did not sense way back when, and this is especially evident in the complex performance of the two principles. Or perhaps it’s my own growth at play here that allows me to relish this work thru the eyes of experience rather then innocence?

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This is a great night of theater, a sumptuous spectacle and an essential part of musical history on whatever level or dimension you experience “Phantom.” It’s a win/win at any stage of your life. Don’t miss this landmark.

By: Joanne Theodorou

 

 

 

Three Jewels in NYC for Meditation Classes

July 26, 2014 by  

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Meditation has always been something that’s intrigued me (remember. While I practice yoga on the regular, it’s never been much of a zen activity for me…let’s chalk this up to the fact that I like hot yoga, and it’s hard to be zen when you have about a gallon of sweat dripping down your face at any given moment.  Gross, I know.

I heard about a downtown meditation class that occurs mornings for an hour and lunchtime for half an hour.  A quick 30 minute lunchtime meditation seemed like the perfect time to give it a try, no?  Our meditation instructor at The Three Jewels told us we could either meditate in the seated position or laying down on a yoga mat…either was fine as long as our spine was straight.  I’ll let you guess which one I opted for;-)

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Closing our eyes, she walked us through some calming words, encouraging us to first pay attention to all the sounds around us (water faucet dripping! cabs honking! classmates breathing! ahhhh the stimulation!), and then for us to let go of those sounds completely and to focus on our breathing.  On the inhale and exhale.  On that moment.  (Yes, the cabs were still honking but I did my best to ignore, promise!)

Thirty minutes was the exact right amount of time for me.  Anymore and I probably would have been snoring away in class, zenned to the max with a lunchtime snoozer.

The Verdict

If meditation is something you’re interested in, I’d absolutely encourage you to try out a class.  They are donation based ($7), but will never turn anyone away for funds…so technically, yes, you can go for free.  If you have a tendency to get super relaxed (read: on the verge of sleeping), I’d suggest giving the seated meditation pose a try first.

If I worked in the hood I would definitely take advantage of the lunchtime zen sessions as a way to relax, but being much further uptown and having a preference for sweat over zzz’s, I’ll be sticking to the hot yoga.

Have you ever tried meditation?  Should I give it another try?  Share your thoughts below!

 

By: Jessica Tiare Bowen

 

 

 

 

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