City Pulse

By Gillian Weeks

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It’s important to have a healthy diet, but at some point you have to draw the line. At least that’s what I tell myself. I’ll willingly give up potato chips, twinkies, and hamburgers, but you’ll have to pry the saltshaker and creamy salad dressing out of my cold, dead hands.

That’s how I used to feel about pasta, too. I believed I’d never give up all that starchy, carby goodness even if I ballooned to phone booth proportions. All of my lady friends, particularly my sisters in sveltness, kept pushing the whole-wheat variety, trumpeting its low-cal virtues. You can keep your fiber, I told them. I want the real thing.

And then one day a chance meeting of mouth to morsel changed all of that. A dish of whole-wheat pasta, disguised, as it were, in thick tomato sauce, found its way into my dinner. When a friend revealed the switch, I was angry, even hurt. But as the full impact of the experience began to evolve in my consciousness, I opened up to a whole new world of cereals and grains.

It was beautiful.

DeCecco, producer of fine Italian pasta, is making it possible for all of you to have similar experiences. They will be offering their new line of whole-wheat pastas at Cipriani Le Specialita (110 E. 42nd Street) today through November 7th. Show your marathon number and get a dish on the house. Proceeds will go to fund City Harvest, New York’s first food rescue organization, which will collect 20 million pounds of food from the food service industry.

Go to Cipriani to taste the glory, but be sure to bring an empty stomach and an open mind.

Join the Laugh Riot at the New York Comedy Festival: The Ultimate Ab Workout
By Gillian Weeks

Just in case you’re underwhelmed by the hilarity of the upcoming midterm elections, next week brings you something on the lighter side – the New York Comedy Festival. It includes performances from some of the biggest names in stand-up, such as Howie Mandel, Dane Cook, and Denis Leary, as well as many noteworthy up-and-comers. Here are my picks for the best of the bunch:

Wednesday, November 8th: Comedy Cares for the Homeless, 8 pm at Town Hall. Tired at laughing at someone’s expense? Try laughing for someone’s benefit. One ticket gets you an evening of sizzling comedy – Louis CK, Patrice O’Neal, Paula Poundstone, Caroline Rhea, and other special guests. A good crack-up might just bring a smile to someone else’s face.

Thursday, November 9th: A Conversation with Robert Smigel, 6:30pm at the Museum of TV and Radio. If you plan on attending this event, don’t have any reverence for your childhood toys and cartoon heroes. After all, it’s always jarring to see animated superheroes with anatomy that goes way, way beyond Barbie standards. Come learn from the man behind (or inside) Triumph the Insult Comic Dog and SNL’s TV Funhouse animated shorts. Just get ready to see a hand puppet with one hell of a dirty mouth.

Friday, November 10th: Denis Leary, 8 pm at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center. There’s something about Denis Leary that really piques my feminist shame. It’s because I find this crass, foul-mouthed, self-proclaimed “asshole” smoking hot. I so hate confirming the “women love jerks” stereotype, but in this case it’s true. Ole Denis can cop a feel, blow a smoke ring in my direction, and call me “sugartits” any day. Swoon.

Saturday, November 11th: “How to Tell a Joke – and How NOT To” at 2 pm at Borders Books @ Columbus Circle in the Time Warner Center. I think we’ve all had that moment: the polite smiles and averted eyes following what you were sure was a killer joke. “Get it?” you prompt. “A boiled egg is hard to beat? Hard to beat?” Next Saturday, learn from the pros how to provoke a belly laugh. A panel of proven funnymen will offer some crucial pointers and critique your craft. Test your mettle or come to listen. Either way, you’re bound to lower your cringe-to-chuckle ratio.

Go to for tickets and a full schedule.

Originally published November 2006

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