Andaz Wall Street wants to help you with your taxes

Someone on Wall Street wants to help you. No, really. The Andaz Wall Street has announced that it wants to help its guests with their taxes – free of charge.

From April 8 through the 15, Andaz guests, many of whom are time-pressed business travelers, will be able to take advantage of the services of Mr. Marc Albaum, who will live at the New York City hotel as its Accountant in Residence. The certified public accountant with more than 20 years of experience will set up shop for one week in the Buttonwood Suite, the Andaz Wall Street’s premier guest room, which features separate areas for working and living quarters, two 42″ LCD televisions and nine-foot windows with views of the East River. Andaz Wall Street guests can reserve a free, one-hour consultation with Albaum by sending an email to at least 72 hours prior to the desired appointment time.

While Albaum can’t prepare guests’ tax forms in full – appointments are only an hour, after all – his goal is “to ensure that his clients do not overlook credits and deductions, and receive the maximum refund they are entitled to.” Ideally, Andaz guests who meet with Albaum will aspire to book the Buttonwood Suite on future visits to Wall Street hotel. Let’s hope their refunds are equal to or greater than $3,045, the average current rate for a stay in the Buttonwood Suite.

Photo Flickr/Dave Dugdale

A visit to Wall Street the day after the crash [PHOTOS]

On a normal day, the small sidewalk on Wall Street between Broadway and Broad Street is crammed with tourists. People in suits cram hurriedly between them to get to their desks. Of course, there’s the occasional television truck or nut holding a sign. When the market turns, however, the vibe in that part of town changes quickly. The tourists remain, but they’re pushed around by the increase in activity, as New York’s financial center seeks to cope with a massive loss of wealth.

There’s nothing quite like visiting this part of New York City the day after a dive.

For those of you not keeping score at home, a dismal stock market day on Friday was followed by a worse one yesterday. The major indexes fell close to 7 percent – which stings. It really does. This led to a profound change the population of Wall and Broad today. Yes, the tourists were out in force (as usual). But, they had to share the streets.

Here’s what it looked like:


Photos courtesy of Inside Investor Relations

The four locals you don’t want to take your picture

So many of my pet peeves really do find their roots in personal experience.

I was walking up Broad Street last week, right by the New York Stock Exchange. This part of New York offers an interesting mix. There are plenty of professionals dashing from one meeting to the next, traders from the exchange (identifiable by their jackets) outside for a chat or a smoke, tourists with their cameras out the ready and even the occasional street preacher.

In a hurry, I was darting up Broad to get to the Wall Street subway station. I was short on time and patience. It’s not laudable, but it does happen. And as usual, I found myself running the tourist gauntlet so I could catch a train. One unfortunate soul stretched his arm out in front of me, camera in hand, and asked me to take his picture. I sidestepped his arm, declined and kept going.

Once I got on the 3 train, I had time to reflect on the experience. Many of us have been on both sides of that experience. We’ve been tourists looking for a helping hand, and we’ve been busy locals, trying to get from Point A to Point B with minimal headache. It’s mutually frustrating … and it’s just part of life and travel.

While we’d all love to encounter polite locals, sometimes, we do need to be realistic. Not everybody is going to be in a position to help. The first step is to know which people to leave alone when you’re looking to create a memory. Here are four locals to leave alone when you want someone to take your picture for you:1. The busy professional: if you see someone walking quickly and with a focused look – dressed in a suit or not – let him go. He has someplace to be, most likely, and it’s only polite to respect his time. You don’t know what’s on his mind or where he’s going, and while you may want your picture taken, that doesn’t translate to an obligation on his part.

2. The person who won’t make eye contact: this person may be (and probably is) avoiding eye contact for a specific reason. He doesn’t want to get roped into your Kodak moment. This behavior may be a bit rude, but again, the fact that you need someone to hold your camera doesn’t translate to an entitlement.

3. The busy parent: a parent who has his or her hands full really doesn’t need something else to worry about. Show a little respect when mom or dad is trying to deal with the kids. You can wait for someone else to walk by. Really, you can.

4. The homeless guy: trust me, you can do better holding the camera yourself.

When in doubt, look for another tourist to help you. This is what I did at Abbey Road in London – we scratched each other’s backs, so to speak. Or, you could bite the bullet and invest in figuring out how to work the timer on your camera.

It doesn’t hurt to be reasonable. Sometimes, people really are too busy to help you.

[photo courtesy of IR magazine]

The most exclusive hamburger in the United States

New York is home to some amazing burger joints. The Burger Joint in the Parker Meridien hotel, a handful of Shake Shack locations and Burger Burger down on Stone Street topped the list for me … until I found some incredible sliders in an unusual place.

Skip all the city’s hottest dining destinations, and march yourself down to Wall Street. No, I’m not joking. There’s an amazing hamburger at 11 Wall Street, just in from the corner of Broadway and Wall. Those of you who work in the neighborhood are probably feeling a bit confused right now. That’s the address for the New York Stock Exchange!

Yep, exactly.

One of the most recognized and important financial centers in the world is also where you’ll find some incredible eats.

Though you’re probably most familiar with the bustling exchange floor that you’ve seen on CNBC, there’s a lot more going on inside that building, which is closed to the general public. To get into the NYSE, you need a reason, and to sample the fare, it has to be an important one.

I found myself at the NYSE a few weeks ago for a closing bell ceremony with IR magazine. After the bell announced the end of the trading day, I joined the other guests at a cocktail reception in an elegant space clearly designed to exude the gravity of both the building and the reasons people have for being in it. The hors d’oeuvres passed by carefully clad waiters was of a caliber you’d expect to find only at the most prestigious restaurants in the city, and nothing disappointed.

But, those burgers

Despite the fact that I find myself at some upscale eateries, I have a penchant for pedestrian grub that I’ll never overcome. I can’t resist a great hot dog, and a carefully crafted hamburger, for me, is heavenly.

A waiter walked by me with a tray of sliders, and it never occurred to me to decline. Confession: passing on these tasty treats didn’t occur to me after this scenario was repeated several times.

The burgers were tiny (duh – sliders), taking a mere two bites to consume. The fact that they disappeared so quickly is probably part of the reason why I had so many, though both taste and my absurd appetite doubtless contributed. Perfectly prepared, they were somewhere a tad south of medium, leaving them juicy but not dripping … perfect for eating with nothing more than a cocktail napkin between the burger and your hand.

The meat itself came just short of the edge of the bun. At first thought, this may seem meager, but experience proves otherwise. When I chomp into a big burger, I want the flesh to pass the bun and hang over the side, reinforcing the feeling that I’m biting into something that’s undeniably substantial. With sliders, however, this doesn’t work well. Passed hors d’oeuvres mean eating while standing, and a higher risk of spilling something on yourself. The lack of overhang reduces this risk, allowing you to eat and enjoy worry-free. While this is a plus for the average person, it’s incredibly important to me (I tend to spill).

Nothing, frankly, compares to sinking your teeth into one of these sliders. The burst of flavor is powerful. The outside of the burger is slightly crisp, though the inside is soft and moist. In two bites – three or four if you’re a normal person – it disappears, and you’re left hunting for a waiter. After all, you don’t want to wait for everyone else to take one!

So, how do you get the chance to dine on these delicacies?

While it helps to know somebody who knows somebody, your best bet is to have a friend (a) whose company is going public and (b) who is important enough at that company to be able to score an invitation for a guest who doesn’t work for that company at all. Good luck with that

Of course, you could always come up with a great idea, start company, make it fabulously successful and go public on the NYSE.

Until then, however, you’ll have to be content to drool.

[Photo courtesy of IR magazine]

Bronx Zoo cobra on the loose takes Manhattan…and Twitter

On Friday, an adolescent Egyptian cobra escaped from New York’s Bronx Zoo.

The reptile house closed immediately after her escape, and zookeepers are saying she could take weeks to come out of hiding. While we can’t vouch for the authenticity of the snake taking Manhattan, you can follow her adventures on Twitter, where @bronxzooscobra has been chronicling the travels of the errant snake with over 25,000 followers and counting. So where does a young snakess on the town go?

She first mused over a Broadway show, then taunted followers with her location in front of “the original” Ray’s Pizza (good luck checking all 46 locations claiming to be the first). After taking in the other wildlife at American Museum of Natural His(s)tory, she went downtown for a workout at Equinox Gym and a slither atop the High Line park. The Bronx Zoo cobra then tweeted about getting tickets for Jimmy Fallon before spotting Tina Fey at Rockefeller Center and heading back downtown to Wall Street. Despite asking for a vegan restaurant near Union Square, she ended up way uptown at Tom’s Restaurant from Seinfeld, where she may have found a hiding spot for the night in an unsuspecting apartment. Where will she go today?

Any New York travel tips for the cobress? Have you spotted any snakes, tweeting or just taking in the sights? While she is just 20 inches long, she is venomous, so watch your ankles!