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

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

 

 

 

 

Taking in the Summer Heat of New York’s Roosevelt Island

July 22, 2014 by  

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Often, I joke around that I’m “staying on the island for the summer”…meaning the island of Manhattan, of course.  But there’s another island right next door that’s super quick and easy to get to (no car needed!), and offers a lot of quiet, solitude, and nature that we’re not necessarily swimming in on the island of Manhattan.  No, I’m not speaking of the Hamptons…I’m talking Roosevelt Island!

 

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Getting There

My favorite way of getting to Roosevelt Island is taking the RI Tram from 59th Street and 2nd Avenue (video of the ride below!)  If heights aren’t your thing, you can hop on the F train and take it underground to the Roosevelt Island stop.

What To Do

When you disembark the tram, you’ll see the teeny tiny Visitor’s Center right in front of you.  The folks manning the desk are super helpful and knowledgable about anything you might want to know about the island, so I’d definitely suggest popping in for a chat and to get yourself orientated.  If you’re into history, ask lots of questions!  Roosevelt Island has a fascinating past, including hospitals, asylums, and correctional institutions. L1000736

Southpoint Park & Four Freedoms Park

A 10 minute walk south once you exit the tram or subway, these parks are clean (with public restrooms, yay!), and offer breathtaking views of the city.  You’ll come across Southpoint Park first (which is dog friendly, Four Freedoms is not.) L1000748 L1000741 L1000753 It is also home to a landmark building: the old Small Pox Hospital, which is pretty cool to see up close and personal. L1000759 Be sure to walk down to the end of the island to Four Freedoms Park, which is where you will see a gorgeous memorial to President FDR himself.  The parks are hosts to lots of fun outdoorsy, summery events, so be sure to check out their website for times of outdoor films, dance lessons, tours, etc. L1000762 L1000763 L1000768 L1000769

Blackwell Island Lighthouse

Now hop on the red bus (which picks up back at the tram) and ride it about 10 minutes to the last stop on the North point of the island where you will see the Blackwell Island Lighthouse.  Built by convict laborers in 1872, this lighthouse lit the way for boats navigating what was then referred to as the “Hell Gates waters”.  The lighthouse is also surrounded by a park, so this is a great place to lay out with a blanket and read a book, take a snooze, or play some frisbee. L1000775

Walk The Promenade

After a bit of rest, head back down the West side of the island via foot for a nice little stroll…it’s about 2 miles (or you could always hop back on the bus!)  You’ll capture beautiful views of Manhattan’s Upper East Side, and see the Coler Campus of the Coler-Goldwater Hospital on your left.  The hospital is a long-term care facility for patients with live-in needs, hence you’ll see a lot of wheelchairs and scooters about.  I love how universally designed and accessible the island is to all…kudos, NYC! L1000771 L1000745 L1000774

Eat

You’ll run smack into Eleanor’s Pier, which is a cute wooden pier with tables and a container of takeout menus.  You can either order takeout right from the pier, or walk just another block to the town center where the restaurants are located, and then bring your food back.  (Or packing a picnic is always a great option!)  There’s not a huge variety when it comes to dining on the island, but they have all the staples: bar food, pizza, and sushi.  It should be no surprise what I went for! L1000781 Three hours should be plenty of time to see the above mentioned sites and to enjoy some quietness on the island.  Although it’s not quite a beach getaway, I promise you’ll leave feeling rested, recharged, and ready to tackle whatever may lay on the other end of your tram ride. L1000772

What’s your favorite afternoon getaway?  Share below!

Taking In The Ballet & All Things Summer in Boston

July 20, 2014 by  

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Recently I went to the Boston Ballet. A childhood ballerina myself, I had no doubt I was going to adore the dances going in, but had little hope for the hubby.  ”Please just stay awake, and I promise we’ll go to The Smith afterwards and order all your favorite things!”, I pleaded.

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Come to find out, the Boston Ballet at Lincoln Center was a game changer.  He LOVED it*.  And honestly, I had never seen a ballet quite like it, it reminded me of the edgier troupe at the end of Center Stage that stole the audiences heart…a little less ballet that we think of in the traditional pink tutus and toe shoes, double pirouettes sense, and more theatrical performance art accompanied by techno rock music that keeps you on the edge of your seat wondering, “What’s next?”  We saw the performances The Second Detail (my fave), New Work, and Cacti (the hubby was completely enchanted by this one!)

As promised, we did stop by the UWS’s Smith for a dinner of all his favorite things: cheesy grits, french fries, gnocchi, and baguettes.  Carb-loading for a full night’s sleep, darlings!

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Besides the ballet, Lincoln Center has plenty of other reasons to pay them a visit this summer, some of which are absolutely free.  Here’s 5 of my fave freebies:

1. Midsummer Night Swing (You have to pay to get onto the dance floor, but you can enjoy the music, people and dancing from the sidelines without paying a cent!)

2. Napping on the Illumination Lawn.

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3. Enjoying free musical performances at Target Free Thursdays.

4. Visiting the exhibit “Launchpad of the American Theater: The O’Neill since 1964” at the New York Library for the Performing Arts.

5. Meet The Artist Saturdays, happening the first Saturday of each month.

Which of these would you most like to check out this summer?  Share below!

 

 

 

Berries Galore on a Hot Summer Day

July 17, 2014 by  

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For those of you hosting parties this summer, I have a super adorable, no-bake, no-work, 5-minutes-and-you’re-done, festive recipe*!  Trust me, your vegetarian friends who are skipping the hotdogs will love you, as will your gluten-free friends who are skipping the apple pie, and your vegan friends who are skipping the ice-cream.

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Needless to say, you really can’t go wrong with fruit (although go organic, just in case), and as you can tell from the photos, there’s virtually no work required other than cutting up bananas and sticking the fruit on skewers.  Voila, fruit kebabs!  And seriously guys, how cute is this?!

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