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Our Town

New York’s Da Vinci Hotel Cracks Reliable WiFi Code

SlashGear writer Nate Swanner has drawn our attention to a very clever and useful new website. Hotel WiFi Test ranks the quality and speed of wireless broadband offered by major city hotels:

The site works by travelers uploading their results, and a speed test can be done right from the site. Hotel WiFi also takes into account the time of day the test was taken, or if it was peak travel season when the hotel was likely to be full.

Even though data on the site is not yet exhaustive, when it comes to New York City, the results are rather surprising. At press time, the best Airbnb-alternate for your wired friends, business colleagues and relatives is:

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Kim’s Video Owner: ‘Netflix is the Winner’

headerlogoThe obituary has been written for the last standing location of Kim’s Video & Music. But like any good title in the zombie movie section, this East Village video store operation may rise again in some form.

From Tom Roston‘s New York Times piece:

Pressed by higher rents, [owner Yongman] Kim said he plans to close the First Avenue store at the end of next month, 27 years after he opened the first one, on Avenue A, in 1987. But this is more than a story of rising rents and the disruption wrought by digital streaming. It’s the tale of a downtown culture now largely lost, one in which clerks and creative types mingled, influencing one another and the scene as well…

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Brooklyn Bridge Flags Swap Has Social Media Aflutter

Who? Why?

Those are the questions being asked today after one or more unknown parties replaced a pair of American flags atop the Brooklyn Bridge towers with a pair of washed out, faded white ones featuring faint imprints of the Stars and Stripes.

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Yippie Journalist Surrounded by Yuppie Gyms

BillWeinbergPicFrom his longtime, rent-stabilized perch in the East Village, Bill Weinberg has been watching the inexorable dollar-per-square-foot squeeze. But as he writes in The Villager, even he was taken aback when three familiar pit stops – a laundromat, a check-cashing place and Plantworks – closed their doors within the same month because of spiraling rents.

Weinberg wonders why the area needs yet another fancy gym (Plantworks is to be replaced by one). The one-time Youth International Party-involved journalist goes on to detail the ultimate personal insult – the name of another gym rising from the ashes of the Yippie Cafe/Museum on Bleecker Street:

The cafe had been closed for several months, as creditors repossessed the building and evicted Yippie Holdings — a surviving fragment of the Yippie radical youth movement of the 1960s. I spent much of my own youth among the latter-day Yips at the notoriously malodorous hangout that we called “Number 9″ back in the early ’80s.

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FIFA ‘Ref’ Patrols Times Square

Yoni Lotan, scheduled to perform at the Upright Citizens Brigade July 10 and 30, has kicked it up a notch. His perfectly timed bit as a FIFA soccer referee running around Times Square and giving passers-by yellow and red cards for various social media and other fouls is gaining media steam.

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Animals ‘Negotiable’ at Journo’s Central Park West Pad

Back in the early 1990s, celebrity journalist Gregory Speck published an intriguing, imagined Tinseltown dinner party book Hollywood Royalty and spent three years/$50,000 amassing a large taxidermy collection.

Per a fascinating New York Times item by Michelle Higgins, he is now selling a Central Park West co-op for $3.95 million, with or without those animals. Realizing that only some may be interested in the additional option of stuffed animal heads, Speck and his listing agent came up with a novel solution:

The online listing will offer two sets of photos. One will show the apartment as-is, the other will have most of the taxidermy edited out “so prospective buyers can get a sense of the grandeur of the apartment,” which has a dining room and a maid’s room, Mr. [Robert] Dowling [of Halstead Property] said. “It’s a fantastic opportunity to buy a home at the Beresford, an iconic New York City landmark, one of the most prestigious addresses in the city.”

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Comedienne Injured in NYC Subway Accident on the Mend

TheStateLogoNot too long ago, the New York Times caught up with South Carolina comedienne Liza Dye, who was seriously injured in a February New York subway mishap and back on a local stage here just a few months later. More recently, it was the turn of thestate.com to chronicle this story.

Carrie Battan‘s NYT lede was pretty good:

Can a calamity plus a couple of months at Bellevue Hospital Center equal comedy?

But The State’s Alex Hicks Jr. went one better:

As a performer, everyone always tells you to break a leg. Few, however, actually do so.

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Robert De Niro Crashes Brooklyn World Cup Party

“Are you floppin’ to me?”

FIFAWorldCupLogoMercifully, today’s rain-soaked Germany-USA contest featured very little of that aspect of the otherwise usually beautiful game. But if it had, a certain unexpected guest at a Brooklyn viewing party could have most authoritatively yelled out that query to the big-screen TV.

From Hunter Walker‘s report:

De Niro was in Brooklyn’s Cobble Hill neighborhood Thursday to film The Intern and, according to a neighbor, he wanted to take a break to watch the crucial World Cup game between the United States and Germany. The neighbor told Business Insider their apartment building got an email from Warner Bros. asking if they could help De Niro see the game.

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Jimmy Fallon Helps Move the Tentpole to Manhattan

ShutterstockMichaelBayWhen Paramount rolls out the red carpet June 25 for its latest Transformers sequel, a sideline transformation will also be on display. Instead of Westwood, CA, Michael Bay and co. will be tub-thumping in front of a New York marquee.

According to The Hollywood Reporter‘s Pamela McClintock, Transformers: Age of Extinction is one of a number of 2014 Hollywood tentpoles to notably premiere in NYC rather than LA. This is due, she writes, to the rise of fly-backs by stars from far-away international destinations and… Jimmy Fallon:

“We are probably doing double the number of premieres in New York than we did three or four years ago,” says Craig Waldman, founder of events production company 15/40

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Singer-Songwriter Ponders New York vs. LA

Remember the concept album? It still exists. Gabriel Kahane‘s latest, The Ambassador, is all about Los Angeles, with each track sung from the perspective of a specific Lalaland address. On the the title track, for exampe, Kahane embraces the POV of a doorman at the bygone Ambassador Hotel.

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The singer-songwriter has also penned a fun New Yorker essay on the age-old dismissal of Los Angeles by New Yorkers. He starts off with a good theory as to why that is:

The notion that LA is a place unsuitable for serious thought is one many of us cling to in order to justify the cramped and sometimes squalid conditions in which we live in New York…

I spent six years writing music (which, for most people, requires silence) in a small apartment one floor above a middle-aged couple whose domestic disputes frequently reached decibel levels that would not have been out of place on a tarmac at J.F.K. And there was the time when, working as a bartender, I watched my boss at a dingy midtown bar douse his genitals in vodka in order to “sterilize” himself after a basement assignation with a female patron, only to turn around and fire me an hour later for “overpouring” and thus wasting his liquor. I told myself that these were the wages of true artistry.

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