For much of its 127-year history, the Upper East Side’s 92nd Street YMCA has been a facility dedicated to calisthenics both physical and cerebral. For example, one may travel to the brown, hulking edifice at the corner of Lexington Avenue to lift barbells, or to hear Betty Comden and Adolph Green talk about the glory days of the MGM musical. You can go swimming in the well-chlorinated pool, or you can absorb Rabbi Shumley Boteach’s “Why Can’t I Fall in Love?” lecture. And so on.
Finally, however, you can have a fleur-de-lis tonification, too. Recently, the 92nd Street Y opened InSPArations, a full-service luxury day spa offering a dizzying range of purifying treatments, including seaweed cocktail facials, lymphatic drainage massages and peppermint salt scrubs. Where once there was the promise of an Elie Wiesel tribute and a sweaty ride on a stationary bike, now there is the added prospect of a citrus dream pedicure and a “Be With the Bee” bee-pollen body wrap.
“A spa was another aspect of that mind-body continuum that the Y offers,” said 92nd Street Y publicist Jennifer Dorr.
The director of InSPArations is Dr. Jane Goldberg, a psychologist and psychoanalyst who also runs La Casa Day Spa in the Flatiron district. How did she end up at the Y? “They sent out cold solicitation letters to every spa in town,” said the fast-talking doctor. “They liked me, and I liked them. I told them that I met my best friend 30 years ago at a piano recital there, so the Y holds a special place in my heart.”
Of course, Dr. Goldberg had her work cut out for her in gussying up her Spartan surroundings. “Before, they had one room with a curtain down the middle and two massage tables,” Dr. Goldberg said. “It was pretty hokey.”
Now, however, the redone room is Park Avenue plush. InSPArations’ soothing, cocoon-like waiting area is decorated in hushed oatmeal tones and features a huge glass cabinet containing amethyst crystals. A sound system seeps out flute-based New Age music. There are five treatment rooms for bee-pollen facials, hot-stone massages, acupuncture, waxing, microdermabrasion and myriad other procedures. (Prices range from $9 for a berry-wax epilation to $365 for a full day of detoxification, including a deep-tissue massage, an essential-oil body wrap and a fruitful rejuvenation facial. Members, of course, receive a discount.)
InSPArations’ treatments are based on what Dr. Goldberg calls the “Five Elements philosophy.” In the future, clients will fill out a questionnaire to determine whether they are an Earth,
And how is InSPArations playing with the 92nd Street Y’s heavyweights? Charlie Rose, scheduled to moderate a discussion with Henry Kissinger at the Y on June 12, hadn’t yet heard of the spa when The Observer called. But now that he was aware of the facility, would he consider availing himself of its services-perhaps, say, get a good massage with Mr. Kissinger to warm up before going onstage? “No, I wouldn’t do that, because that’s not the sort of thing I do.” Mr. Rose then reconsidered somewhat: “The Y has a basketball court-I would play basketball with Henry Kissinger before our interview.”
On a recent, drizzly Monday evening, the party boat Horizon pulled out of its berth at Chelsea Piers for its umpteenth harbor cruise of the year. As the ship left port, several hundred corporate-type guests began reveling on the boat’s main deck in a restrained, corporate-type way. Above them in Horizon’s wheelhouse, Captain Darin Altilio relaxed in his chair, casually steering the vessel with his foot.
“I’ve always been around the
The inside of the wheelhouse was pitch dark. Outside, the lights of the Brooklyn Bridge and downtown Manhattan flickered over the
“Oh, you’ve got stories!” said Horizon’s chef, a large man named Henry Austin Lyle, to Captain Altilio. Mr. Lyle was sitting in a corner of the wheelhouse with Brendan Kelaher, the ship’s director of restaurant operations.
“Oh, it’s a pretty dull life,” Captain Altilio protested.
“Sometimes he drives the boat naked!” Mr. Lyle said.
“Stop it! Stop it! Edit! Edit! Edit! Stop that!” the captain said, laughing.
“Go on,” Mr. Lyle said. “Tell about the girls taking off their tops for you, Darin.”
“No! That never happens!” Captain Altilio said.
“Driving by on the other boats, taking off their tops,” Mr. Lyle said.
“Lies! Lies! Falsehoods! Propaganda!” Captain Altilio bellowed. The ship’s radio buzzed loudly with static and voices. “Maybe once,” the captain admitted.
“Darin’s related to Sinatra,” Mr. Kelaher offered suddenly.
“I am not related to Sinatra,” said Captain Altilio.
“Anybody that grows up in Hoboken is related to Sinatra,” countered Mr. Kelaher.
Captain Altilio twisted Horizon’s throttle, and the vessel banged a U-turn in front of the Statue of Liberty. The conversation turned to local politics.
“I like Giuliani, personally!” said Chef Lyle.
“That’s the Mayor’s house! It’s not her house! Donna Hanover has enough money,” said Mr. Kelaher.
Captain Altilio tried to steer the conversation away to more professional matters: “I think the menu here, though, is what we really need to discuss, because the food here is another one of the outsta-aa-anding things that we do.”
“He is a company man, isn’t he?” asked Chef Lyle. “He drives the boat naked, I’m telling you .”
“I do not!” insisted Captain Altilio. “Do you see me naked now?”
“Not now!” blurted out Mr. Kelaher. “But last week, remember? When it was 90 degrees out?”
Horizon was cruising uptown now, back to Chelsea Piers. The control panel glowed in the darkness and beeped softly. The men began to discuss whether or not marriage was unfashionable.
“Oh, big time!” said Mr. Kelaher.
“Really?” asked Captain Altilio.
“Really?” echoed Chef Lyle, who is to be wed in October. “I thought it was coming back.”
“It’s on the decline,” Mr. Kelaher said, “It’s on the decline. Divorce is very chic.”
The ship hauled the party towards its final destination. The revelry below was faintly perceptible. Announced Mr. Kelaher: “Words of wisdom from the wheelhouse!”
Everybody in New York wants to be a kid again. Ride the subway, and what do you see? Thirty-year-old bankers and 26-year-old assistant editors squinty-eyed, obsessing over Harry Potter books. “They’re really good,” they protest. So what! Cotton candy’s really good, too! They’re kids’ books! Doesn’t anyone read Darkness at Noon anymore?
A couple weeks back, they were all over you to see Spy Kids. “Seriously,” they said. “It’s an excellent movie. You’ll love it.” Spy Kids? Whaa-aa? Why don’t I just finish this Lite-Brite sailboat I’m working on, grab some Lik-m-Aid powdered dipsticks and bounce on over to the Village East on my cherry-red Hippity Hop?
Music is worse. “I love Britney, but I hate Christina Aguilera,” your co-worker says to you gravely. Listen, you’re 36 years old! Fifteen years ago, you wore wool vests, rolled your own cigarettes and bored your friends with long, rambling soliloquies about Dexter Gordon’s Europe years. “I love Britney.” What happened to you?
Also: Hello Kitty, Dark Angel, baby T-shirts, napping, people who “really like” peanut butter and jelly, comic books, Williamsburg.
Yeah, yeah, the culture is being infantilized, blah blah blah. Save it for your New School seminar, sippy cup. Let’s all grow up. Right now. Ready, set stop. Ha-ha! Tricked you!