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Iconic New York City Restaurant Serendipity3 Celebrates The City and “The Notebook”on Broadway, Opening in March

 

Serendipity3
225 E 60th Street
Open seven days a week from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m. EST
For more information or to book a reservation, visi twww.serendipity3.com

Though I’ve lived in New York for many years, a stop at Serendipity3, the decades-old restaurant on East 60th Street, eluded me. Until now. Thanks to a recent connection with the romantic musical "The Notebook" — in previews on Broadway -- a new dessert specially designed to celebrate Valentine's Day and the show was unveiled. And I got to sample it in all its super sweet glory.

The Notebook Hot Chocolate Affogato Sundae features a marshmallow rimmed Serendipity goblet filled with two towering scoops of vanilla ice cream, a giant pillow of creamy whipped cream, romantic Valentine's sprinkles. Once the server pours a carafe of super-rich and thick hot chocolate (made with semisweet and bitter-sweet chocolates, rich cocoas, heavy cream, Maldon sea salt and Madagascar vanilla paste) over the ice cream, it’s ready for consumption. The dessert is also topped off with a dusting of iridescent edible glitter, an edible frosting-sheet with "The Notebook" logo, as well as a field of edible butterflies and flowers. Available at the restaurant from Wednesday, February 14th until Thursday, February 29th for $24.95, it became my introduction to this glittery and iridescent palace of pop culture.

Like “The Notebook” — first experienced as Nicholas Sparks debut novel and then as feature film starring Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams — Serendipity3 is a quintessential piece of 21st century pop culture. Not only does it offer classic restaurant fare such as sumptuous hamburgers and salads but many, many desserts especially sundaes.

When Serendipity3 added "The Notebook" to their list of Broadway collaborations, it was hardly the first. The restaurant is known for bringing extravagant desserts and world-record-breaking menu items to the table. These menu items have captivated a worldwide audience and a celebrity following for decades.

sundaeFounded in 1954, it is one of the city's unique dining experiences. The home of decadent desserts such as the Frrrozen Hot Chocolate, Serendipity has been captivating millions of patrons since its inception. It's a quirky place where artists got their inspiration and actors fulfilled their cravings. Beginning with Marilyn Monroe, Andy Warhol, Grace Kelly and Cary Grant in the ‘50s, continuing with a celebrity following that includes Cher, Candice Bergen, Melanie Griffith and Ron Howard, the restaurant continues to attract celebrities such as Beyoncé, Ryan Reynolds, Selena Gomez and Kim Kardashian. In addition, the restaurant has been the setting of three major Hollywood productions, "One Fine Day" (1996) with George Clooney and Michelle Pfeiffer, "Serendipity" (2001) with John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale, and "Trust The Man" (2005) with Julianne Moore and David Duchovny.

Produced by Kevin McCollum and Kurt Deutsch, "The Notebook" features music and lyrics by multi-platinum singer-songwriter Ingrid Michaelson and a book by playwright Bekah Brunstetter (writer and producer on NBC's “This Is Us,” The Cake"). The production is directed by Michael Greif ("Dear Evan Hansen," "Next to Normal") and Schele Williams ("Aida," "The Wiz"), with choreography by Katie Spelman (Associate Choreographer on "Moulin Rouge! The Musical").

The show tells of Allie and Noah, both from different worlds, sharing a lifetime of love despite the forces that threaten to pull them apart, in a deeply moving portrait of love's enduring power. The cast features Tony Award®-winner Maryann Plunkett as Older Allie, Dorian Harewood as Older Noah, Joy Woods as Middle Allie, Ryan Vasquez as Middle Noah, Jordan Tyson as Younger Allie, John Cardoza as Younger Noah, Andréa Burns as Mother/Nurse Lori. Playing various roles are Yassmin Alers, Alex Benoit, Chase Del Rey, Hillary Fisher, Jerome Harmann-Hardeman, Dorcas Leung, Happy McPartlin, Juliette Ojeda, Kim Onah, Carson Stewart, Charles E. Wallace and Charlie Webb.

With a book that has sold millions of copies worldwide and a film that’s one of the highest-grossing romantic dramas of all-time, the musical adaptation of The Notebook comes to Broadway following a critically acclaimed world premiere engagement at Chicago Shakespeare Theater in the fall of 2022.

As for Broadway’s "The Notebook," it’s now in previews at the Schoenfeld Theatre (236 W. 45th Street, NYC) and opens Thursday, March 14th. 

For tickets and more info, go to: https://notebookmusical.com/

The Paintings of Artist Marianne Kuhn-Huntington Offer Evocative Images of Ireland

Cliffs of Moher

 

When I discovered Marianne Kuhn-Huntington's artwork, I was first drawn to her ethereal fashion images. But as I clicked onward through further exploration of her website, I discovered a plethora of impressionistic images of Ireland. My first thought was what a wonderful way to take a trip, real or imagined. 

Her work has been presented throughout New York City in such places as The Salmagundi Club, Tribeca's Bond Gallery, The Grand Lodge on 23rd Street, Adrienne's on Stone Street, Broad Street's Bitcoin Center and her eponymous studio/gallery at 10 Hanover Square in FiDi.

Kuhn-Huntington's paintings are mostly studies of landscapes based on her travels worldwide. In addition, she paints portraits of people and pets, fashion editorials in water color and oils, plus abstracts based on urban decay and plastics in the ocean. She has created collections of paintings extrapolating images from literature such as James Joyce's "Ulysses" and T.S. Elliot's "The Waste Land."

Born in New Rochelle, New York, the daughter of award-winning artist Gunther Kuhn and accomplished artist Eileen Kuhn, the skilled imagist is proudly following in her parents' footsteps living as a designer/artist in New York City. The sixth-born of a family of 10, Kuhn-Huntington decided, at a young age, to be both a fashion designer and an artist. She followed her dreams and completed a BFA at FIT in NYC, which is where she also fell in love with modern literature. 

As Marianne wrote in an email, “I hope this is a good start. There's always so much to say. In a nutshell, I came from a very difficult childhood (in so many ways) and struggled through with persistence, keeping up with painting throughout the years on and off, sometimes to keep the sanity. I continue to soldier on in the challenging and exciting life of living in NYC, but you get it.”

Living in NYC's UES as an accomplished designer and artist, she is constantly inspired by her travels near and far. Her goal is to create impressionistic oil painting and water colors of images she had collected from her experiences.  

For more info, go to: www.mhunt.net or call 917-855-3520 for an appointment.

Q: Has making visual art always been something you did since you were a kid? 

mkhMarianne Kuhn-Huntington: Yes, My parents were both artists so I was inspired at an early age. My father, who was from Berlin, was a full time fine artist who presented his work many times and was also president of the New Rochelle Art Association. My mother was a full-time mother of 10 and painted for the catholic school we attended, St Gabriels and Blessed Sacrament in New Rochelle NY. She painted large and small projects for the school and the church, from stage sets for school plays to promotional posters for events. I was lucky and grateful to inherit their talents. 

Q: Since you’re also a fashion designer, what came first, the painting or the clothing design?  

Marianne Kuhn-Huntington: Pencil sketching first, however, as I became more interested in fashion as an adolescent, I realized I could use my talents to design clothing. About 15 years ago, I felt the need to paint more seriously to express my talent, so I started doing a different series every month in both watercolor and oil. Each collection was a departure from the previous to exercise the artistic muscles of painting in general. It’s very important that I continue to paint even though I have a full-time job. My son Adam was an inspiration to me as well; there's a story behind that. Presently I do more water colors as it takes up less space in my NYC apartment. 

Q: Where did you go to school?  

Marianne Kuhn-Huntington: I went to FIT from 1985-87 for my associates degree and then, from 1996-'98, for my BFA in Fashion Design. 

Q: When did you first become aware of your Irish heritage? 

Marianne Kuhn-Huntington: When I was a child, my maternal great grandparents were from Ireland and we talked about them occasionally with my grandmother, but I always wanted to know more. There wasn't a lot of information in writing so I had to do a lot of research. My brother Andrew is presently digging deeper and has found a connection in Kildare with my great grandfather.

Q: Knowing that you’re part of this historical experience, one that includes the many ups and downs of Irish history, how did that affect you?

Marianne Kuhn-Huntington: Profoundly, I became very interested in Irish history in general and of course learning more about my own family past. I spend a lot of time researching and learning about Ireland, mostly through the writings of James Joyce. I went to Ireland to visit the area of where my family is from. 

Q: What counties is your family or families from?  

Marianne Kuhn-Huntington: My great grandmother, Bridget Condron is from Mullingar in Westmeath. My Great grandfather, Patrick Condron is possibly from County Offaly, but I'm not sure what town. There's also a County Kildare connection as I mentioned so we still have to sort this out.

Q: When did you first visit Ireland and what were your favorite places?

Marianne Kuhn-Huntington: I first visited Ireland in 2016 and mostly stayed in Dublin for Bloomsday. It was a very Odyssean trip. Then I went back in 2022 for the Bloomsday centennial of "Ulysses," traveling with members of my James Joyce reading group, and we read the provocative part of Nausicaa on the stage in front of Davy Byrnes. It was the ideal way to spend Bloomsday. Then I traveled to Mullingar to see where my great grandmother was from. I then went to Tullamore as I was told by people in Mullingar that it was a town that had close connections to Mullangar. It was a direct route and people traveled back and forth often. I made it up in my head that my grandparents met traveling back and forth from Mullingar to Tullamore or maybe at an Irish dance, but we're still researching that. Some of the paintings are from photos I got from the Irish Consulate's tourism office; that was before I went to Ireland. I plan on visiting more places in Ireland with my family next year.

Q: What led to your Joyce obsession?

jamejoyMarianne Kuhn-Huntington: Whilst studying for my BFA at FIT, I took a Modern Literature class as an elective.  It was difficult but I stuck with it; at the end of the semester, I looked up from the readings and observed more than half the class had dropped out. After that, I couldn't get Joyce and other writers out of my head, I literally couldn't get enough of modern literature. I went down a rabbit hole and I'm still falling. I am reading “Ulysses” for the fourth time and have read all of his work including "Finnegans Wake," which is unreadable without a guide. What I love most is the community that comes with literature; it's a very rich world to live in. 

Q: Can you fill in more details about the groups you belong to that are related to all this?

Marianne Kuhn-Huntington: For 10 years, I've been part of a James Joyce reading group. We used to meet in person at the Irish Consulate before COVID-19. Now, we meet on Zoom every week to read all of Joyce's work, though it's mostly been "Ulysses." In addition, I have been a member of the James Joyce Society for at least two years, there are many talks and Joyce-related discussions of his life and literary works, which keeps me sated, almost. 

In addition, I have been a member of the International T.S. Eliot Society since 2008. I decided to join the society when I was at a grave turning point in my life and wanted to do something very important to me. I had a heart infection and needed surgery otherwise I would be dead in six months. At that point, I chose to live the rest of my life studying literature as an independent scholar. Two weeks after my surgery, I was on a flight to St. Louis to attend my first of many T.S. Eliot Society conferences. In addition to Joyce and Eliot, I've also studied Gertrude Stein, Virginia Woolf, Joseph Conrad, and many more. 

Q: What do you plan on doing when you return to Ireland?

Marianne Kuhn-Huntington:  I plan to go to all the places I have painted but have not been to yet, Such as the West Coast, Tipperary, and Rock of Dunamase.  I also will go back to where my great grandparents were from, Westmeath and Offaly. And, I believe we have some heritage in Kildare but it needs more research. If time permits, I will visit a friend in Cork. 

Q: And given that your work evokes a kind of romantic image of Ireland as it does with your other subjects, what evokes romance for you?

Marianne Kuhn-Huntington: That's a tough question, I suppose the seaside and water in general, as well as boat rides, small or large. Flowers are great. There's also museums, culture, literature, music and intimate gatherings in dark and quiet restaurants with great wine.

Gasparilla Music Festival: Music & Food in Tampa

Young the Giant

Much of the country is getting blanketed in snow and rain, but Tampa is about to be blanketed in tunes. The Gasparilla Music Festival, running February 16th to the 18th in Tampa, Florida, includes headlining performances from Louis The Child, Young The Giant, Big Gigantic, and more.

Other acts include:

  • Yonder Mountain String Band
  • Rebirth Brass Band
  • Eddie Roberts
  • Beach Weather
  • Surf Mesa
  • Aidan Bissett 
  • Trevor Hall
  • Digable Planets
  • Goodie Mob
  • COIN
  • The Collection
  • Christone “Kingfish” Ingram
  • Roosevelt Collier
  • Pusha Preme
  • Parrotfish

Along with the musical acts, the festival also features cuisine from the region’s top restaurants. The Gasparilla Music Foundation is a Florida 501(c)-3 non-profit corporation that organizes an annual music festival in Tampa and supports music education through its Recycled Tunes program.

To learn more, go to: https://gasparillamusic.com/

Gasparilla Music Festival
February 16 - 18, 2024

Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park 1001 N Blvd.
Tampa, FL, 33607

Tom McGivney and Wife Maryann Are Making One Family’s Fight Against the Killer Disease of PKD

A few months ago, on September 15th, 2023, to be exact, Tom McGivney and his wife Maryann successfully climbed to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, the highest mountain in Africa and the seventh tallest in the world. Now some people perform such an act simply for the challenge, testing their will and physical acumen.

And it was no easy task to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. As Tom recalled, “It took me years of training. The fact is, at the end of 2017, there was no way I could have done it. During diaconate formation and after ordination, I was not looking after myself. I had stopped exercising. By January of 2018, I was 240 pounds and I am only 5’10.” My physician, Dr. Benson. warned me that I was obese and pre-diabetic. She offered great guidance and advice, but it was Maryann who was my greatest example. I now weigh 165. Dr Benson helped me to understand nutrition and to begin exercising again gradually, so I wouldn’t hurt myself. Maryann was my inspiration because she always gets up at 5:30 a.m. for the gym and she always eats well.”

But in this case, the couple’s goal had a higher purpose rather than their personal health — it was to bring attention to polycystic kidney disease (PKD) which killed Tom’s great grandmother in her late 30s. It also took the lives of his grandfather and father — each at age 46 — and his brother Rusty at age 27. Even this report is proof that their effort has accomplished their goal.

The disease affects an estimated 12.5 million individuals worldwide. This inherited disorder of PKD causes clusters of cysts to develop primarily in one’s kidneys. Cysts are round sacs containing fluid and can cause kidneys to become enlarged. Ultimately their presence in the kidney can damage the organ, making it unable to function and often leading to death.

In addition to the climb, the couple launched a website to accept donations for a cure and to honor the family’s lost lives. Climbing to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro isn’t necessarily the easiest way to raise money, yet it definitely demonstrated the impact their losses has had not on this family but thousands of others.

As Tom explained, “This move was inspired by my brother Rusty who died of the disease. I used to play in a band with a song related to the mountain. Our band, Serious Pilgrim had a song called “Kilimanjaro.” Rusty and his friends used to come to our concerts and bounce along with that particular tune as I played the drums. It included the line, ‘Meet me at the top of Kilimanjaro.’ Now that Rusty is gone, Maryann and I decided to make the climb in his memory. Of course, I hope to reunite with him in heaven but first I’d like to raise funds to help find a cure here on earth.”

Fortunately for Tom, his wife Maryann has not only been his partner but his active supporter in this quest. They grew up in Staten Island, New York and met in high school 40 years ago in the summer of 1983. Maryann had just finished her freshman year and he had completed his junior year. They attended separate Catholic schools and were introduced by Kelly Weiss, their mutual best friend.As Tom added, “I’d only just started to play the drums and was finally emerging from the clinical depression that I suffered after my father’s death from PKD in 1980. It felt totally natural to be in love with Maryann and I’m grateful to have her for so many reasons, including her active support to help find a cure for such a terrible disease. Maryann met Rusty when he was just 11. In many ways, he was her little brother, too. He was my best friend. Losing Rusty at 27 was as hard as losing my dad. I didn’t know that an aneurysm could be a complication of PKD. We were blindsided.” 

Tom Maryann Maryann’s business travels also helped inspire the idea of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. As Tom explained, “Maryann works for WTW (Willis Towers Watson), the third largest global insurance broker. She’s the North American Leader for the Healthcare Industry Vertical, responsible for all the healthcare business that the company places in North America. She leads a team of around 200 people. As you can tell, I’m proud of her. Maryann is easily the smartest person I know. She’s a wonderful spouse, a great mom and a great friend. I’m lucky to have a wife who’s always so encouraging — a great communicator and an avid listener. She has the patience of a saint, an energy level that amazes me, and she’s always putting everyone else first.” 

So far Tom hasn’t shown signs of the PKD disease. “The longer I go without it, the less my risk of getting it. Meanwhile, Maryann and I are determined to help others just as I wish my dad and Rusty could have been helped. My wife has a saying that’s helped so much when I’ve not been motivated. She says, ‘Sometimes you get the ‘W’ for the ‘went.’ Meaning that you may not feel like going. You may not feel like you accomplished anything in your exercise that day. But the cumulative effect of what you gave yourself daily matters because you went. Maryann was the inspiration that encouraged me to start walking again and eventually led me to running marathons. Without her example and encouragement, Kilimanjaro would not have been possible.”

In 1996, they moved from New York City and Tom entered diaconate formation in 2007. They now you live in Alpharetta, Georgia and he’s a Deacon in the church. “I was ordained by Archbishop Wilton Gregory in 2012. He’s now the Cardinal of Washington, DC. Of course, my religious faith has helped me deal with the repercussions of PKD and other losses. The root of diaconal vocation is to be an icon of Jesus, the suffering servant. As such, I minister to many families in distress. That can be in the form of handling marriage problems, addictions, mental illness and grief. I also spend a lot of time with senior citizens in assisted living. I visit the sick and those in prison. I journey with many in hospice care, as well. Although the disease has had an impact on my own family, my goal is to help find a cure for everyone on the planet.”
 
Maryann and Tom have three wonderful children. Twenty-eight-year old Jackie Kozusko is a special education teacher and married Shane Kozusko last year. Matthew, age 26, works for Johnson and Johnson as a medical device sales rep. He works in the OR with orthopedic surgeons and provides the equipment needed for sports-related surgical repair. Their youngest, 23 year old Katie is finishing her degree in Marine Sciences at Coastal Carolina. As Tom said, “These beautiful souls are part of my incentive to lead a healthy lifestyle and to help others.”

But ultimately their goal is to raise awareness in order to find a cure for PKD. Tom explained, “In 2000, just after Rusty died, we established the Richard E. “Rusty” McGivney Memorial Fund. This is administered by the NY Community Trust. We chose this vehicle because the funds would be managed and distributed in perpetuity.”
 
There have been many fundraising events in years since Rusty’s death like dinners with silent auctions and golf outings hosted by his best friends. Donations are placed in the fund and distributed by the Community Trust equally to the PKD Foundation and to Wagner College. But their efforts don’t end there. They have further plans to help find a cure for PKD.

Tom added, “I want to continue to raise money to find a cure because I don’t want anyone to feel what we have felt. As I think about the father and brother I’ve lost to this disease, I feel a sense of urgency to help protect others. Maryann and I are doing the Rim-to-Rim hike in the Grand Canyon next May. On a single day, we’ll hike 21 miles though the Grand Canton. We’ll descend 8,000 feet across seven miles on the South Kaibab trail to the river, continue five miles across “the box” and ascend 9,000 feet at a spot over nine miles up the North Kaibab trail. We’ll use that hike to raise more funds for the PKD Foundation. I’ll also run a marathon next spring and include that in the effort. Some of my injuries have interfered a little, but I try to run a marathon each year. My hope for the future is to do an Ironman and I’m looking to climb Denali in Alaska. But I have a lot of work to do before I can attempt either of those.”

In conclusion, Tom explained their further efforts. “Maryann and I give money to the fund every year at Christmas. Rusty’s Memorial Fund will give money in perpetuity to Wagner College and the PKD Foundation. I guess I just can’t stop giving Rusty a present for Christmas. Raising funds directly for the PKD Foundation this year was inspired because of Rusty’s connection to our song, ‘Kilimanjaro.’

“This was a dream trip to the mountain over 30 years in the making. As with all the great moments in our lives, Rusty is always present in our hearts. I know how much our climb would mean to him.”

For people to contribute, go to the link:https://support.pkdcure.org/team/518790

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