Joe Lugara

“Hello, MET!”… and then some

(Jul. 21, 2004) - The Metropolitan Museum of Art is no dour echo chamber. Most art museums specialize in tomb-like solemnity, but the Met, with its Great Hall decorated daily with fresh flowers, resonates with upbeat voices that instantly slap down any idea of a menacing cultural encounter. At the Met, even Wednesdays have a Sunday-in-the-park feeling. A similar sense of pleasure marks the museum's programs for kids and families.

Spring Has Sprung — in City Parks . . . and Beyond

(May. 21, 2004) - The weather this past March and early April confused more than just human sinuses. The city's parks either burst with joy and mottled color like Impressionist paintings, or collapsed back into mid-winter spiritual decrepitude. Now that the weather appears to have leveled off, the city's parks and residents can finally feel comfortable doing what they do best: getting together.

A Traditional Tudor Tale

(May. 21, 2004) - There’s paradox in a good marionette show: first-rate puppeteers make the strings psychologically invisible, so you can see them . . . and yet you can’t. If it’s a quality performance, you feel like you’re watching little actors, not wood and paint. For ages 3 and up, Jack and the Beanstalk, as presented by the Brooklyn-based Puppetworks, is a case in point.

Family-friendly … heavenly!

(May. 21, 2004) - Burger Heaven has opened a new restaurant, on the corner of Third Avenue and 86th Street, in Yorkville. At 5,000 square feet, this newest Burger Heaven seats 150 and sports something key for families: a free stroller valet service.

Women in Blue

(May. 21, 2004) - Come in all units…over. Not just boys want to be police officers any longer…over. Women on Patrol, the new exhibit at The New York City Police Museum, is for kids who are just beginning to form their social consciousness.

Coloring Book Arch Rival Shakes Up Old Notions

(Apr. 21, 2004) - Susan Striker wouldn't exactly be overjoyed if your kid came into her home and started scribbling across her walls with a crayon or marker, but it wouldn't necessarily cause her to have a cortical blowout either. As the creator of the Anti-Coloring Book, the noted arts educator understands that scribbling is significant, representing as it does a nascent stage in the learning process.

New Children's Hospital Calls Manhattan Home

(Dec. 21, 2003) - Last month, the Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of New York-Presbyterian opened its doors in Washington Heights. The debut marked a considerable rebirth for the century-plus-old institution: its new 10-story, 265,000-square-foot facility instantly makes it one of the largest hospitals of its kind in the nation.

Triple Play!

(Dec. 21, 2003) - Not many people can even lift a marionette without making a fatally entwined, puppet-hospital case of it. Try to imagine, then, picking one up and manipulating it so it looks like it's singing and dancing, conversing, thinking, handling pea-sized objects, and trying on clothes. If you could actually do that, you'd be in line some day for a job in the professional puppet business.

Send in the Clowns!

(Dec. 21, 2003) - We may occasionally (or frequently) think of our political leaders as clowns, or at the very least, as the tail ends of double-manned vaudeville horses. But how many circuses bypass the Barnum and Bailey-trained clown for the periodic refined buffoonery of our three branches of government, and the occasionally (or frequently) loopy population it serves? Introducing, Ladies and Gentlemen, The Victory Over Everything Circus.

'A Fireman's Fireman': Chief Peter J. GanciA hero's son writes about his dad

(Sep. 21, 2003) - The cover photo for Chief: The Life of Peter J. Ganci, A New York City Firefighter (Orchard Books/Scholastic, $16.95) could very well have been an individual portrait of the city's late fire chief; instead it's an image of an entire New York City fire company.

Brooklyn's Girls and Boys Town: Turning Lives Around

(Sep. 21, 2003) - If the Spencer Tracy classic Boys Town were remade today in a contemporary setting, the first facelift would involve the title. It's not just "Boys Town" anymore: its "Girls and Boys Town". And it wouldn't necessarily be set in Nebraska because the organization now exists in 19 sites spread over 14 states. Around here, for example, it's called Girls and Boys Town of New York.

Touch and Go, in Philly

(Sep. 21, 2003) - Philadelphia's Please Touch Museum is no defeatist. At one time, the museum had plans to relocate to Penn's Landing on the city's waterfront, but when the developer suddenly pulled out of the project, the institution, which was founded in 1976, was forced to rethink its near future within the context of its existing building at North 21st Street. To its credit, the museum didn't stand pat. It continues to invest in its current location to make it the most enjoyable kids’ museum experience possible.

A special school — for music making

(Sep. 21, 2003) - Kids like to dance. They like to rock side-to-side; they like to move in general. Does that mean that they have an innate sense of rhythm, a Carnegie Hall performance, a Rhapsody in Blue crouching in their future somewhere?

DEAR DYLAN Messages from entertainment critic and cancer patient Joel Siegel to his son

(Aug. 21, 2003) - "I feel great," says Joel Siegel. One of the most recognizable faces and voices in New York television, the entertainment critic for WABC's Eyewitness News and Good Morning America knows just how much physical and emotional labor packs itself into a little sentence like that.

A New Generation Discovers CMOM

(Jul. 21, 2003) - With three decades of educating and entertaining children under its belt, the Children's Museum of Manhattan is now at that poignant time of its existence when it's older than some of the parents who bring their kids there. The chances are excellent that many of today's parents romped through the museum themselves as youngsters — and there's no reason not to expect, in 20 years' time, to see them coming back with their kids again, with grandchildren in tow.

For 'The Perfect Game', Roots Run Deep

(Jul. 21, 2003) - A quick glance around Barnes and Noble easily confirms it: Baseball appeals warmly to sophisticates. Writers like George Will and Roger Angell have repeatedly turned their attentions to the sport, examining it to death in social, economic and political terms, constantly trying to nail down its lasting fascination, and always, somehow, failing to say what's really on their minds about it — that baseball is fun.

No 'CHIP' Off the Old Block in AstoriaNew center brings more options to children with developmental disorders

(Jul. 21, 2003) - New Yorkers with children affected by developmental delays may have already benefited from the services of the Children's Home Intervention Program (CHIP) within the reassuring environments of their own homes. But recently, the program, known for coming directly to its clients, expanded its reach even further with the opening of its own in-house facility.

Where the Wild Yard Grows

(Jul. 21, 2003) - Once a landfill, the grass at Socrates Sculpture Park in Queens is far from perfect, with its innumerable bumps and bare patches, its crabgrass and dandelions. The park's location is beautiful — on Vernon Boulevard, right on the East River, with Manhattan as a backdrop. But with its urban setting and less-than-manicured lawn, it may seem like the wrong place for a sculpture exhibition about suburbia. It's not; in fact, there couldn't be a more ideal venue in all New York.

Central Park Hits the Big 150Kids' Races, Pets on Parade, Magic Planned

(Jun. 21, 2003) - Even visitors to New York who don't end up liking the city, usually have to admit that the sanctuary of Central Park is something exceedingly special. This year the park is celebrating its 150th anniversary. The celebration may be a little premature (city commissioners only began the process of purchasing the land in 1853 — for a mere $5 million) but any reason is a good reason to spend time in America's park of parks.

Space, and new in time

(Jun. 21, 2003) - Five major changes have affected the visual arts since about 1950. Paintings and sculptures have become larger, less detailed, and more emotionally distant. There's been a greater emphasis on the use of material for material's sake. And, above all, the relationship between the work itself and its theory has become inseparable.

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