Category: NYC

Morningside Heights is pretty good for a college town, but the best part about our neighborhood is that there’s a conveniently-located subway leading to other vastly more interesting parts of New York.

In honor of our beloved 1 train, and in an effort to help new students get away from campus while they can, The Lion staff presents the best things to do in NYC that aren’t within five minutes of Carman.

Walk over the Brooklyn Bridge

Take the subway out to Brooklyn at night and walk back over the Brooklyn Bridge, lights on and everything. Grab a slice at Grimaldi’s while you’re at it — it’s some of the best pizza in the city. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, grab a Citi Bike on either side of the bridge and do some late-night riding.

Take the Staten Island ferry WITHOUT a tour group

Oh my god do not go with a tour group. Don’t be those people. When you get there, don’t leave immediately—take the bus (Yes, there is public transport in SI) and try some of the excellent Italian food that is cheaper than what you’ll get in Manhattan or Brooklyn. And while it’s still warm outside, check out Ralph’s Italian Ices. Yes we know that there are multiple locations in the area, but this is the original one! And if you’re already having pizza nearby, well…

Best part? The ferry is free. No joke.

See a movie at the IFC

Preferably a midnight one or when there’s a guest speaker. Get one of the ridiculous food or drink items they sell (overpriced ice pops, coffee, apparently some of the highest-rated popcorn in New York, etc.), and/or get Artichoke pizza on MacDougal street. Grab some tickets here.

Get a piercing on St. Marks

Yelp it for ratings first. Seriously. Yelp it. Some of those places are scary. Apologies if you’re 17.

Go to Shake Shack

Yeah, it’s not just in New York anymore, but it started here and you owe it to yourself to grab a burger and milkshake at its original location in Madison Square Park. Be a pro and go for the Shack-cago Dog instead of a Shack burger. The Shack was originally a hot dog cart, after all. (But the shakes are definitely gold.)

Hit up Columbus Circle

Bring a camera out to Columbus Circle and wander the park. You’re sure to find unforgettable street performances just around the corner, and Bouchon Bakery has to-die-for macarons when you need a snack.

Go to museums

There are like a bazillion great museums in New York, and you’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t visit at least one of them by the end of NSOP (plus they’re a great place to chill with your new pals). The Metropolitan Museum of ArtThe American Museum of Natural History, and MoMA are all “free” (suggested donations) for Columbia students, and other (slightly) less famous choices — like the Museum of the Moving Image and the Frick Collection — are cheap for those with a college ID.

Go to Smorgasburg

Every Saturday and Sunday through the last week of November, Smorgasburg offers New Yorkers a chance to try some of the coolest and strangest food ever conceived. How does a Ramen Burger sound? (Spoiler: it’s good). How about a tuna taco, or Filipino-style spring rolls? There’s also just normal good food available from small time vendors that you wouldn’t get to try anywhere else. For locations and times, check out the Smorgasburg website.

Visit the Reservoir after dark

Bring a friend and don’t go too late, we don’t want you getting mugged (although the park is actually extremely safe), but the nighttime view of the city from the Central Park Reservoir is amazing. Go to the 96th street entrance and walk straight until you’re on the running path. Get right up against the small fence that prevents you from falling in the water for the best vantage point.

Walk the High Line

The High Line is located on West 34th Street, between 10th & 11th Avenues, and is one of the nicest public spaces in the entire city. Open daily from 7 am to 11 pm, the High Line is a one-mile elevated train track that has been converted into a beautiful park. There’s great (but expensive) coffee and bars located along the way, as well as Chelsea Market nearby, so feel free to just chill on the many benches and enjoy a view of the Hudson River.

The Greenway

If you like bike riding or long walks on the water, the Greenway is one of NYC’s most under-utilized attractions. The giant path is eventually meant to circumnavigate the fringes of the Island, but for now, start at 59th street, walk west until you hit the river, and then walk south. You’ll run across some of the best views in the city, Hudson River Park, and eventually the Freedom Tower if you keep on going. Almost the entire Greenway is next to the longest bike path in the city, so snag a Citi Bike and make a day of it. Speaking of which…

Go ride Citi Bikes all day

It’s still warm out, and a 24 hour Citi Bike pass is about ten bucks. Get your friends together, go to Columbus Circle, and rent some bikes. Then spend the whole day riding around downtown New York, stopping to explore cool shops and otherwise having a good time. Once it gets cold this gets roughly 1 billion percent less fun.

Looking to explore New York’s theater scene? While tickets can be expensive or hard to come by at times, we’ve compiled some of the best ways to secure yourself a seat in the theaters where it happens.

Want to enter ticket lotteries and buy tickets, but don’t feel like making the effort to leave campus? TodayTix is the perfect app for you. At the click of a button, you can buy tickets and even enter lotteries. The application is a great way to easily plan Broadway and Off-Broadway show events with your friends. You can also get $10 off your first order using the code VMANV.*
*Affiliate code
If you’re walking around Times Square and want to buy Broadway tickets at up to 50% off, visit the TKTS booth in the middle of Times Square. Everyday they sell tickets to shows with extra seats left so this is a great way to get a seat in any of the area’s popular shows.
At the start of the semester, The TIC, located in Lerner Hall begins selling discounted tickets for specific dates to certain Broadway and Off-Broadway productions. In the past, tickets have been sold at significant discounts to Hamilton, School of Rock, and Wicked. Due to the limited supply, students have been known to camp outside the TIC booth starting as early as 8AM to secure tickets to some of the more popular shows. A list of performances for the fall semester is posted on their website a few weeks before the booth opens for the semester.
General Rush:
Several productions offer discounted tickets starting at 10AM the morning of the show at their theater’s box office. If you want to secure a ticket, be sure to arrive 1-2 hours early depending on the show’s popularity.
Trying to score tickets to one of Broadway’s most in-demand productions? We can’t guarantee you tickets, but here are the best tips we have, courtesy of Allison Talker, CC ’19, and a Broadway lottery expert:
You just have to enter the online lottery every day for evening and matinee because they don’t have a live lottery any more (winners pay $10 for front row tickets). Most other shows have rush tickets that you can get at the box office at 10 am.
Right now, Hamilton has 1 live lotto on Wednesdays for the matinee. The winner is drawn at 12:30 for the 2 pm show.  Pro tip:  Fold your ticket into weird shapes.
Think we missed a good tip on how to get into Broadway shows? Send us an email at team@columbialion.com.

Meet Brandon Victor Dixon. Dixon, a Columbia College Class of 2007 graduate, is a two-time Tony Award Nominee. During his career, he has performed in various Broadway shows (including Columbia’s very own Varsity Show). Starting in August 2016, Dixon will assume the role of Aaron Burr in Lin Manuel Miranda’s hit Broadway show, Hamilton: An American Musical. As he prepares for his role, I sat down with him to talk about his career in the performing arts and his insights on pursuing your dreams and excelling in your career.

What did you study while at Columbia, and do you have any favorite memories from your time there? 

I was an Economics major initially. I left after my first semester senior year, but when I came back and I finished, I was a theater major. My favorite memories from school were of working on the Varsity Show V107 and V108.

What first sparked your interest in theater, and how did you explore that field as a student? Was it mostly through the Varsity Show?

I came to Columbia because I knew what I wanted to do, and I just wanted to go to school in New York so that I could audition and build my career. That’s why I came to Columbia, and I appreciated that Columbia had a campus, and a vibrant curriculum that I could delve into and expand my information base in general. But no, I didn’t go to Columbia to train, or help my career, though a lot of the work I did and the classes I took were of great help and education to me in the theater department at large. I came to Columbia so that I could be in New York.

What were some of the shows you’ve performed in prior to Shuffle Along, and now, Hamilton starting next month?

The Lion King, The Color Purple, Rent, Far from Heaven, The Scottsboro Boys.

With your recent casting as Aaron Burr in Hamilton, how are you preparing for the role? Are you nervous about anything about it?

Nope. It will be a good time. I’m working on a lot of the movement. The movement style is a little different for me so I’m focusing on the movement, but I’m approaching it like anything else. I’m doing my research. I’m learning the material. It’ll be interesting replacing someone in such a big and involved show. I’m going to be learning it even as I’m performing it.

What’s the most surprising or interesting that’s happened to you while performing and go like backstage?

While performing I fell in the orchestra pit one time. That’s one of the more interesting things. I can’t really think of anything that stands out about anything that’s happened backstage but definitely falling in the orchestra pit, that was an interesting one.

 What has been your favorite role to perform so far and why?

Eubie Blake in Shuffle Along. I’ve learned more about myself as a human being in this show and about all of us as human beings in the show. Also, it’s a culmination of everything that has come before it, so you know, it embodies all of the things that you see.

What general advice would you give to students interested in pursuing their career in theater and the performing arts?

The thing I’d say to anybody interested in pursuing anything: there are no rules, your power and ability are limitless, and keep going.

With Hamilton, did you know that you wanted to play Burr, or did they offer that role to you?

I didn’t want to be Burr … I wasn’t interested in doing the show because it’d been done. I don’t tend to replace. My goal is almost always to create something new but this is a unique show, and a unique opportunity and it came on at kind of the right time. The more they talked to me about it, and the more I thought about it, the more excited I did get about the process of joining the show. I am happy; it’s going to be a new experience.

What keeps you excited about being in theater? Is it that the audience has you perform? Is it just the idea of taking on the role of a new character? What motivates you or drives you?

Creating. Creation is what drives me. The reason we are here on this planet is to connect more deeply with ourselves and with each other, and art, and performance, and theater I think is a tool that I’ve come here with to make use of. Creating stories in this way, particularly … In art in general, particularly in live theater, it is a highly communicative, community experience. We get to share something special in that moment of time and that room with one another … And we leave transformed, and that is the important to evolve, to transform, to emote, and to connect with one another.

Since a lot of the people who will be reading this are incoming students, like this is their first time in New York, some have never seen a Broadway show. Do you have any advice for them like for shows they should, or general ideas and tips about what the magic behind Broadway is, in a sense?

The magic behind Broadway is that the people on stage create something from nothing. It’s creating magic, and it helps inspire you to create something from what you have. New York is a cultural bastion unlike any other. So see everything you can, do everything you can. Big, small, do it all.

 As you prepare for Hamilton, what’s your favorite song so far, whether it’s one you’ll be singing, or one some other character will be singing?

My favorite track in Hamilton is Guns and Ships but my favorite song to sing in that obviously is Wait for It.

Can I ask why Wait for It is going to be your favorite one to sing?

I think because I’m exploring the detail of the song but the thing that it sticks out for me is the chorus. Not a love, nor death, nor life, you know. It says,

Life doesn’t discriminate

between the sinners and the saints

it takes and it takes and it takes

and we keep loving anyway

we laugh and we cry and we break and we make our mistakes

And if there’s a reason I’m still alive

While everyone who loves me has died

and I’m willing to wait for it.

So minus the coda at the end, it’s that element of that’s true. Life is that, as is love, as is death, and they are all phases of the same thing, and they do not discriminate according to who you are.

Whether you are good or bad, it’s going to take something but you have to keep giving to it. It’s kind of a mini-encapsulated message about the circle of life, and what living is about. It’s a song with no resolution. He doesn’t figure anything out by the e`d of it. He starts affirming something, and then he starts questioning it, but then he finds himself left with a question in the end of it. It’s interesting piece but it’s one that’s resonated with me.

Brandon will begin performances as Aaron Burr in Hamilton: An American Musical starting in August 2016. For tickets to the show’s New York production, visit the show’s Broadway site.

Interested in interviewing students and alumni about how their time at Columbia has shaped their experiences and outlook? Join The Lion Profiles team by sending an email to team@columbialion.com.

Photo Courtesy Daniel Stone (CC ’16)

In a discussion with the University Senate last Friday, President Bollinger responded to comments about the proposed placement of Henry Moore’s “Reclining Woman” in front of Butler Library.  In his response, he emphasized that the University will refrain from installing the sculpture during the summer and will instead seek community feedback in the fall.

Details of his announcement can be found below from an email sent by Daniel Stone (CC ’16), one of the lead organizers to prevent the statue from being placed directly in front of the library. Through petitions, multiple op-eds, and interviews with the BBC, thousands of students and impartial spectators  have commented on what has become quite the controversial woman.

Dear petition signer,

I’m writing to give you an update on the status of the Henry Moore sculpture. Last Friday, President Bollinger publicly acknowledged the sculpture installation fiasco for the first time. At a meeting of the University Senate, he uncharacteristically apologized about how the decision had been handled. If we are to go by what he said, there will be some sort of formal process in the fall that involves community feedback.

I highly recommend reading Bollinger’s statement (below). Even as someone who has done a bit of research about Bollinger and his history, I found it surprising.
(Also, Spec really sucks for failing to cover this news. If you know people on Spec, tell them that.)

Best,

Daniel

President Bollinger’s  Statement (Emphasis Mine)

I want to say something about the Henry Moore sculpture. So this is a mistake. And I don’t mean a mistake in the actual outcome, I mean a mistake in the way the institution has functioned. It’s nobody’s fault except mine because my responsibility is everything, especially those things that don’t go right. I would describe this as a classic – and I don’t mean this to be derogative of anybody – but a classic kind of bureaucratic mistake, that is, everybody around the institution thinking they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing, doing it in good faith and with enthusiasm, and we end up in a result where there has not been a sufficient collective thought process here and a decision making process that we are comfortable with.

So we put this on pause. We will have that process more and will figure out the right result. So it’s my responsibility. It is just the institution, one case I know of, tried never to let this happen, but somehow it happened and that’s where we are.

I’ll take questions in just a minute. Let me come back on this rather than take time today. I have to leave at two o’clock, I have a plane and we have a number of things. But I’ll try to give more on this in time. I just want to acknowledge that this is not the way – good faith, again, everybody acted well. A result that wasn’t sufficiently vetted through the University. I promise not to put up the Henry Moore sculpture during the summer while you’re all away. So summer powers does not include resolving this.

So, rest assured as you get through finals that this figure will not be gracing Butler anytime soon (at least not for the next four months).

Daniel Stone is a senior in Columbia College and was a former Managing Editor for the Columbia Lion.

Photo Courtesy Columbia Divest for Climate Change

For nearly 96 hours, students representing Columbia Divest for Climate Justice (CDCJ) have been occupying Low Library. Our message is simple: we will not leave until President Bollinger publicly recommends divestment from the top 200 publicly traded fossil fuel companies to the Board of Trustees. While CDCJ has been careful to broadcast our ask and our campaign as far as we can, we think it’s important to explain why exactly we’re doing this.

First, why divestment? It is immoral for Columbia to be actively invested in, and profiting off of, the destructive practices of the fossil fuel industry. Science shows that 80% of known fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground in order to prevent the climate chaos that would wreak havoc on vulnerable communities around the world, but this can’t happen when the top 200 fossil fuel companies spent over $600 billion on exploring new reserves in 2012 alone. Fossil fuel companies are morally bankrupt–some, like Exxon, have been directly tied to climate change denialism and the discrediting of climate scientists, while others contribute millions to lawmakers to obstruct meaningful policy on climate action. Divestment is our way of taking a stand to revoke the social and political license of these companies, so that they can no longer interfere with our transition to a low-carbon, non-extractive economy. Divestment is our way of taking a stand for a safer and more just world.

Okay–but why now? CDCJ has been engaging the campus community and administration for three and a half years now. We’ve had countless meetings with President Bollinger, the Board of Trustees, and the Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing (ACSRI). Bollinger has indicated to us privately that divestment wouldn’t hurt the endowment, and that divestment make sense when companies are engaged in highly immoral activities. What’s more, campus consensus is clear on divestment: we have over 2,000 petition signatures, 350 faculty endorsements, and a referendum reflecting support from 74% of Columbia College and SEAS students to prove it. So why haven’t we acted? Publicly, Bollinger has remained silent about divestment, and all that the Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing has achieved has been a formal rejection of our divestment proposal and a recommendation that Columbia create yet another committee to deliberate on university responses to climate change. As President and a Trustee, Bollinger has the power to prioritize divestment, and we demand that he does so by standing against the destructive practices of the fossil fuel industry.

Through this civil disobedience, we are telling him that time has run out for the University to make this decision. We are not willing to wait any longer when climate justice, the well-being of future generations, and the well-being of communities around the world are at stake.

Nikita Perumal is a senior in the School of General Studies studying Human Rights and was a participant in the occupation of Low Library. Due to personal commitments, she had to voluntarily choose to leave the occupation. More information on this can be found here.

To respond to this piece, email submissions@columbialion.com