PAforADay Proves Assistants Are For Everyone
PAforADay provides temporary personal assistants to meet your needs.
April 02, 2012
New York-based PAforADay proves that personal assistants aren't just for celebrities anymore. Now, notoriously time-challenged New York professionals and companies can check a few items off their long to-do lists as they send a temporary personal assistant out to do everything from translating old cassettes to MP3s, to walking dogs and scheduling appointments. Time slots are available for as little as two hours and as long as eight hours per day ($20 per hour), 8 AM-10 PM seven days a week throughout the five boroughs. Even the booking is easy, with an online system that lets you list tasks, choose appointment times and durations, and more. And you won't get just any naive Andy Sachs from PAforADay—the service works to assign an assistant that best matches your needs.
Test Drive: 2012 BMW 3 Series
New 2012 BMW 3 Series sets benchmark for vehicular excellence.
April 02, 2012
Take nearly any luxury sports sedan on the market today—any—and I would bet the farm that from concept to production, the car was benchmarked against the segment standard bearer, the BMW 3 Series. For decades, the 3 Series has ruled the roost. Yes, the Audi A4, Lexus IS, Infiniti G, Cadillac CTS, and Mercedes C-Class are superb cars, but on the road, none of them feel like a BMW.
Under-the-Hood Power & Outward Perfection
For 2012, the new 3 Series is available in three trim levels: Sport Line, Luxury Line, and Modern Line. Outside of mechanical differences depending on your engine choice, each offers subtle changes in interior and exterior appointments. I spent 95% of my “regular” 3 Series time driving the superb 335i. It’s my kind of car: powerful, well appointed, and incredibly fun to drive. Ride quality is sporty yet compliant, and the only noises you’ll hear are the sweet sounds of a BMW engine under power.
Speaking of power, motive force for the 335i comes from a legendary line of straight six engines, and this 3.0-liter unit features dual scroll turbo-charging and outputs 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque. Zero to 60 miles per hour sprints come up in a rapid 5.4 seconds. No matter your choice of gearboxes, a six-speed manual or state-of-the-art eight-speed, the gear-changing experience is crisp.
Stylewise, the 3’s dynamic proportions are shaped by the sweeping hood, short front overhang, long wheelbase, and set-back greenhouse typical of BMW. As expected, LED Corona Rings make quite a statement day or night.
Technology & Safety at Your Service
BMW ConnectedDrive offers a combination of available driver assistance technology and mobility systems. New for 2012 is a full-color Head-Up Display, which projects key information onto the windshield so it appears directly in the driver’s field of view. Also available is Surround View with Side View and Top View, which gives a bird’s-eye perspective of the vehicle and the area around it. In addition, an available Parking Assistant system helps the driver to parallel park. Among the other assistance technology available includes an Active Blind Spot Detection System and Lane Departure Warning System with camera-based Collision Warning system; a navigation system with real-time traffic information and an innovative comfort access function allowing hands-free opening of the trunk lid.
For those permanently wired to their iPhones, BMW ConnectedDrive also offers “apps” connectivity. The BMW Connected iPhone app offers a suite of entertainment and productivity applications for your 3 Series. My favorites are Pandora Internet Radio and MOG music service, with access to millions of songs that can be controlled through your iPhone and fully controlled via the iDrive rotary controller. You can also read Tweets and get Facebook updates at any time. Thousand of additional Internet radio stations from all over the world are accessible with the flick of the iDrive rotary controller.
On the safety front, this is a BMW, so rest assured every major safety feature available is standard. BMW Connected also comes into play here should your airbags deploy in a crash, giving emergency services the severity of the crash and likely trauma levels so they can prep before they arrive. Obviously, it also tells them where you are using GPS coordinates.
Pricing for the 2012 BMW 3 Series starts at $34,900 for the 328i and $42,400 for the 335i. Expect all-wheel drive and updated M3 versions in showrooms soon.
Test Drive: 2012 Aston Martin DBS Carbon Edition
Safety, technology, and luxury combine in the new Aston Martin DBS Carbon Edition.
March 30, 2012
It was a chilly winter afternoon at Aston Martin's Headquarters in Silver Spring, MD when the Carbon Black DBS (also available in Flame Orange and Ceramic Grey) was unloaded off a transporter for my four-day entitlement with the British 2+2 Coupe. The splendor of its progressive profile, elegant lines, and vividly acoustic growl attracted a neighborly crowd on our narrow suburban street. Initially, I drove the DBS timidly while reminiscing on my first few drives of Aston Martin’s team captain back in 2007.
British Beauty Abounds
Everyone that laid eyes on the Carbon Edition must have been under its intense, elegant spell because they stared at it like a resurrection. The car's charismatic intent, posh hand-stitched cabin (70 hours to complete), available power, and quantity of carbon fiber energized my conscience with a minor bit of impetuous arrogance knowing “beauty and the beast” could electrify a crowd and embarrass the majority of myopic sports car owners on the road.
Carbon fiber comprises the side-view mirrors, front chin spoiler, rear diffuser, door trim and pulls, sill plate, and the center stack. I was, however, a bit alarmed that the DBS was outfitted with 20” Pirelli P Zero performance tires in the middle of winter, but nevertheless reminded myself that discretion is the better part of valor. Either way, the vehicle’s 10-spoke black diamond-embossed rims, replete with massive carbon ceramic rotors and black six-piston front calipers (yellow, red, orange, or grey optional) are as mesmerizing as it gets for an in-house designed wheel package.
Sleek Safety & Flawless Function
Now, the DBS isn’t the fastest sports car I’ve ever driven (that goes to the Bugatti Veyron), but it does do a lot of things well—like braking and cornering. It’s not necessarily always about the pure number of horses under the hood—the weight-to-horsepower ratio, which affects acceleration and braking, is actually more important. To my point, the aluminum and magnesium DBS felt so light and fluid that 510 horsepower can easily equate to 600 horsepower in a heavier vehicle. A six-speed Touchtronic 2 automatic transmission may be operated as a normal automatic or the driver can take control through the steering column mounted magnesium alloy and carbon fiber-trimmed paddle shifters
Safety and performance technologies are omnipresent and the key reason why this vehicle performs on such a high-intensity level. Key features include Adaptive Damping System (ADS) with Track mode, Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) with Track mode, Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD); Emergency Brake Assist (EBA), and, of course, Traction Control (TC). The vehicle impressed a passenger and I when it came to a complete halt from high speeds in a shorter distance than we expected and without skidding.
When you prefer to drive the vehicle in a more relaxing manner, simply put the gearbox in automatic mode, connect your iPod, and turn up the volume to the 1000-watt Bang & Olufsen BeoSound audio system. Passengers consistently asked what the two raised, mini towers were from both ends of the dash. These tweeters add style and presence to the DBS.
DBS Carbon Edition prices start at $287,576 for the coupe and $302,576 for the Volante (convertible) and the car achieves 12 mpg city and 18 mpg hwy. My test vehicle totaled $292,278, which included a $2,600 gas guzzler charge, There’s a reason James Bond chose an Aston Martin DBS for his latest installment. I now know why!
Décor Pick: A Chic Light Fixture
This bubbly fixture adds glamour and light to your bedside or dressing table.
March 22, 2012
This ball light ($725) can be attached to a wall or ceiling and would fit perfectly in a home with a sparse, modern vibe. Designed by Michael Anastassiades, it's available in gold, nickel, and black at Matter. 405 Broome St.
Stylish Storage: A Trusco Toolbox
An electric blue toolbox that you don’t have to hide away.
March 14, 2012
Get a jumpstart on your spring cleaning and home improvement with this steel toolbox from Japanese brand Trusco ($90). The Cooper-Hewitt Shop, 2 East 91st St.
Fitness Find: A Vigorelli Bicycle Frame
Take your bicycle up a notch with a sporty Italian frame.
March 09, 2012
If you want to take your love of cycling to the next level, start with the glamorous work of Italian designer Vigorelli. The brand’s 2012 track frame ($899.95) is made of aluminum, with rear-facing, steel insert horizontal track dropouts and includes a Cinelli sealed headset and seat clamp. Chari & Co., 175 Stanton St.
Gym Review: Peak Performance
Joe Dowdell and his team will whip you into summer shape, one hour-long session at a time.
March 07, 2012
Spring is officially peeking its head and the pressure to get in shape is on. To pull us out of our winter rut, we recently put in a workout at Midtown’s 10,000 square-foot Peak Performance studio.
During our hour-long session, several of the gym’s certified trainers took us through a series of stations. We spent ten minutes at each stop, working on specific parts of the body. Each of the six rotations used different equipment, including classics like weighted medicine balls and tension bands, as well as the more advanced free-speed treadmill and Jacob’s Ladder, both of which move at the pace of the user. The variety of the workout made the hour fly by and left our heart racing and our muscles burning. We could almost feel the calories dissipating.
To give his clients solid results, Peak Performance founder and CEO Joe Dowdell spent the last 16 years studying and perfecting the ideal workout routine. His bespoke brand of fitness begins with a physical assessment, wherein Peak’s conditioning specialists determine a personal program to fit each individual’s needs. From there, the one-on-one training begins. Single sessions are available ($150), but the Peak 90 Program ($8,020–$8,350), which spans 90 days, comprises 45 sessions, and includes meal plans, nutritional counseling, and six soft tissue recovery and regeneration sessions, is a no-excuses, full-throttle route to reaching “peak” condition. 54 W. 21st St., 212-229-3670
Top Photography Galleries
A guide to the best fine art photography hubs in Manhattan.
March 05, 2012
Aperture Foundation Gallery
The not-for-profit Aperture Foundation, founded by photographers Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange, Barbara Morgan, and Minor White, and its gallery—which toasts its 60th anniversary this October—has been home to past exhibits such as “Bruce Davidson: Subway,” and a limited-edition program featuring prints from Annie Leibovitz and Edward Steichen. “Our space not only serves as a gallery and exhibition venue but as a place of engagement and connection for the photographic community,” says director of limited-edition photographs Kellie McLaughlin. 547 W. 27th St., Fourth Fl., 212-505-5555
Howard Greenberg Gallery
Susan Sarandon, Ralph Fiennes, and Katherine Waterston are among the fans of this gallery, which emerged out of founder and chief curator Howard Greenberg’s small nonprofit school and Photofind gallery in Woodstock, New York. Although he is now opening its doors to more contemporary works, Greenberg is most interested in representing artists with traditional or classical viewpoints such as Berenice Abbott, William Klein, and André Kertész. “I’ve always liked photography rooted in work that combines craft and vision,” Greenberg says. “I’m very interested in the history of it.” 41 E. 57th St., Ste. 1406, 212-334-0010; howardgreenberg.com
Marian Goodman Gallery
“Marian Goodman Gallery is best known for introducing international artists to a New York audience,” says Karina Daskalov, a director at the gallery. Over the past two years, the gallery’s photographers—including Steve McQueen, Jeff Wall, and Francesca Woodman, whose works light up the Guggenheim beginning March 16—have also shown at MOMA, the Whitney, and the Met. 24 W. 57th St., 212-977-7160
Photographs from Cecil Beaton, David LaChapelle, and Herb Ritts adorn the walls of this Soho gallery, opened by Taki Wise and Etheleen Staley in 1981. “We had both come from the fashion photography field as stylists and editors, and the commercial and editorial work [we encountered] was equal to the work that was being shown as artwork,” says Wise. Showcasing fashion photography, nudes, and celebrity portraits as works of fine art, past exhibitions have included the many faces of Marilyn Monroe and the connections between music and fashion from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s. 560 Broadway, 212-966-6223; staleywise.com
For Your Reading List: The Darlings
Cristina Alger discusses her first novel, a fall of the family tale that rivals the real-life story of the Madoffs.
February 20, 2012
In her debut novel, The Darlings, former lawyer Cristina Alger tackles subjects that she has experienced firsthand. From family ties and loyalties to the world of Wall Street and the economic crash, Alger's characters traverse sensitive yet timely issues under the microscope of New York's high society. Here, the author opens up about her switch from law to writing, the process of publishing her first novel, and her opinions on the current economy.
What sparked your decision to move from law and finance to writing?
I enjoyed my job and always saw writing as a side hobby. I found myself spending more and more time doing it, and I ended up showing the [book] to a friend who is a writer. She thought it was great and thought I should go off and find an agent. It was the first time I thought that I could, maybe, do this full-time and see if I could consider this a job and not a hobby. When I first left [law], I was a little bit nervous that I would miss the structure and miss having colleagues. Then I found that I loved it and it felt like I was doing what I thought was my hobby as a job, and I'm still marveled that that's the case.
How did you come up with the concept for the book?
When I started working on it, it struck me that I was watching history unfold. They were traumatic times for Wall Street, and New York generally. I started working on a story based on a family company, because I grew up in that environment. I thought it created an interesting stage for personal familly issues to play out. Eventually, I [plotted] my story with the Darling family and got very involved with the characters, building a larger story around them.
Where do you see the economy going in future years?
One of the things that I wanted to do in my book was show a changing of the guard a little bit, and have the characters that have stronger ethical values come out on top. I guess that was my sort of a hopeful way of saying that I hope that the turmoil of the market would allow for a little bit of reordering. Beyond that, it's anyone's guess.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF CRISTINAALGER.COM
Rediscovering Pierre-Auguste Renoir at The Frick
A never-before-seen grouping of the artist’s full-length portraits opens at The Frick.
January 26, 2012
Dance in the City by Pierre-Auguste Renoir,
on loan from the Museé d’Orsay in Paris
This month, an exhibit five years in the making will debut in The Frick Collection’s vast East Gallery. “Renoir, Impressionism, and Full-Length Painting” explores the French painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s commitment to the large-scale format. “This scale was for him very meaningful; it’s not just occasional. It’s really a format that he rejoices in,” says Colin B. Bailey, the Frick’s deputy director. “I would argue that it brings forth some of his most impressive, ambitious, beautiful pictures.”
The exhibition, which includes nine paintings from the Impressionist decade (1874 to 1885), culled from museums in London, Paris, Boston, and other cities, includes the painting The Umbrellas, last seen in the US in 1886. Says Bailey of the work, “It’s one of the most mesmerizing of Renoirs.”
However, it was The Promenade, purchased by Henry Clay Frick in 1914 and part of the museum’s permanent collection, which was the inspiration for the exhibition. In preparation, the painting was sent to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for study, during which an infrared analysis revealed two women in the background, painted over by Renoir. “Our pictures have never left the Frick, so it’s never been part of an exhibition and it hasn’t been, in some ways, studied or explored,” says Bailey. “I feel very strongly that for every work that we’ve asked to come here, we should encourage as much new study as possible. So for us, that was a fantastic, unexpected insight into Renoir’s process.” “Renoir, Impressionism, and Full-Length Painting” is on display February 7 through May 13; 1 E. 70th St., 212-288-0700