Geeks, nerds... nay, folks with imagination, rejoice! This midtown megastore is a celebration of heroes, villains, villainous heroes, demons, gods, and everything in between. It has been around since 1996, and has certainly hit its stride. I stopped in one afternoon and had to spend a few minutes wandering aimlessly, struck as I was by the force of the place. I found my way to the director of marketing Thor (!), who explained how the store tries to cater to more hardcore comic books fans while still being approachable to new readers. This latter mission is especially important now as both superheroes (Avengers, X-Men, Spiderway) and fantastical monsters (zombies, vampires) continue to migrate from the fringes of popular culture toward the center of it. New fans are always coming in because of Hollywood blockbusters and shows like The Walking Dead (originally a comic book), and the expert and enthusiastic staff helps point these folks in the right direction to continue to indulge their interest.
But it is impossible to ignore the way that more hardcore fans define the space. Every Wednesday, new issues of single-release comics come out, and each week fans come in for their fix. Graphic novels burst off the shelves, from compendia, to the well-known, to the super nitty-gritty. Older comics upstairs allow folks who missed their issues to play catch-up. There are action figures, t-shirts, memorabilia, and even an erotica section. It is a world unto itself, and really many worlds - to walk in, is to lose oneself.
Known as Bryant Park Place today, this Renaissance Revival structure was originally built by Andrew Carnegie, in 1907, to house the Engineer's Club, a professional group of men who were creating an important niche for themselves in the world of business. It was Mr. Carnegie's strong desire to pay tribute to "ordinary men doing extraordinary things. " Members included President Herbert Hoover, Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla. Today, No. 32 is completely residential, with Royce' Chocolate and Gotham Beauty Lounge located on either side of the stunning lobby. The exterior of the building remains almost the same, with its magnificent entryway and white stone facade.
A marriage of Mexican and barbecue, the bursting flavors of Mexicue set it apart from other mobile eats during its beginnings as a food truck in 2010. In 2011, the energy and vivacity of the original endeavor were carried over to a brick and mortar location on Seventh Avenue, and in 2014 Times Square became its third location, with continued plans for expansion. Great smells awaited me when I first stopped in one summer afternoon to find out what the buzz was about. Apart from the inviting wooden slab booths, the innovative menu, and the dynamic bar (which hosts weekday happy hours from 4pm to 6pm) what made me return for dinner that night was the charisma of the staff. From hostess to waiter, all members were devoted to ensuring a comfortable experience for their guests with bubbly smiles and relaxed attentiveness. Among other hits, the burnt ends brisket bowl has garnered quite a following with a base of award-winning chili, tortilla chips for crunch, and house-pickled jalapeños for a little kick. The empty bowl, after Manhattan Sideways members were done with it, assured me it was something special. What provoked my own interest, however, was the kale and quinoa bowl, an interesting listing on the menu that made sense at first bite, a perfect flavor combination of spicy Mexican and smoky barbecue.
At times, living in Manhattan can become a bit chaotic – and it is at this moment when Muji feels like a breath of fresh air. So different from our busy and cluttered apartments, Muji is the epitome of minimalist class. There is no rhyme or reason to what items are carried and yet while there are a million trinkets to browse through, the atmosphere remains effortlessly crisp and clean. Everything is made in neutral colors and simple materials, and labeled with clear descriptions. After wandering around, I suddenly had the urge to go home and clean everything out of my closet and start fresh. The store has a calming and almost meditative effect on people. The vast variety of items includes furniture, clothing, home goods – and yet everything feels unified. Some of the hidden treasures can be found within the office supplies – pens that glide beautifully across the page and notebooks that rival moleskin for utility and sophistication, but at a fraction of the price. Even the clothes are in soft, soothing colors, but made from fine fabrics and sold at very reasonable prices. Step inside to escape the bustle of the city, and do not be surprised if you leave with a new toothbrush or a pair of slippers.