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Dr. Baoku Liu

Though the Google Maps listing for Baoku Liu reads “Baoku Liu, MD,” the letters that hang behind the front desk of his office, in Midtown Manhattan, are “BaoKu Lu, L.Ac, PhD.” For those of you not in the know, the man whom I refer to as “Dr. Liu” is the finest acupuncturist in the continental United States. Until about a year ago, I didn’t really know what acupuncture was, let alone “believe” in it. But after a particularly painful case of tennis elbow returned, someone referred me to Dr. Liu. With a charming declaration of “I fix everything,” Dr. Liu stabbed countless needles into my arm and charged them with electricity that caused my muscles to twitch. Despite the initial pain, I went back and, after a few sessions, my tennis elbow was cured completely. I had tried everything—physical therapy, CBD cream, stretching, new tennis-racket strings, even a new racket—but nothing worked like Dr. Liu. He doesn’t limit himself to elbows. He will fix everything. ($125 per session, —Gabriel Jandali Appel


Branch Basics

The irony that we clean our homes with products that are not themselves clean—i.e., are full of toxic chemicals—is often lost on us. Now “clean” means a whole lot more than just “free of germs.” Branch Basics, which was started by a woman intent on ridding her family’s household of toxins, provides cleaning products that actually live up to their name. You won’t have to buy a dozen new products to replace your supplies because one plant-based concentrate—free of preservatives, harmful chemicals, fragrances, and G.M.O.’s—can work as face wash, laundry detergent, and counter cleaner. Just dilute the concentrate with water, and you can clean without exposing yourself to unclean ingredients. ($55, —Clara Molot


Queen of the Con: The OC Savior

The first season of the podcast Queen of the Con follows Mair Smyth, an Irish heiress battling her family over a $30 million inheritance. Or, that’s what she’d like you to believe. That eight-episode show is hosted by one of the grifter’s victims, Johnathan Walton, an Emmy Award–winning TV producer whom Smyth conned out of $70,000. His persistence to tell his story ultimately landed Smyth in jail. Now Walton is a vigilante hero to the duped and defrauded. For Season Two of the podcast, he recounts the scams of Lizzie Mulder, a Laguna Beach blonde who stole more than $1.5 million from friends and local businesses by pretending to be a savvy accountant. There are lies, forged documents, voice-changing apps, made-up characters, and a local cowboy named Joe Love. ( —Bridget Arsenault


The Hana Shirt Co.

Blame it on The White Lotus. Mike White’s hit series on HBO Max has us thinking differently about a lot of things, including our summer style. Accordingly, we are coveting aloha shirts—but not the impostors seen at mass-market retailers. Vintage styles are the way to go, and we’ve gone directly to the source: the Hana Shirt Co. Founded in 2002, this Kauai-based purveyor of vintage aloha shirts offers a robust collection of authentic pieces dating from the 30s through the 70s. (Owners Steven and Cheryl Bundy also sell dresses.) Will it be a rockabilly-style dress from the 50s or a pullover knit embroidered with a Hawaiian petroglyph warrior? (Starting at $65, —Ashley Baker


The Ordinary

While an $8 serum is something we can really get behind, it took us some time to familiarize ourselves with the Ordinary. This range of well-priced, scientifically named skin-care products is not quite as user-friendly as its more obviously named competitors. What to make of AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution, Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 Hydrating Serum, or Mandelic Acid 10% + HA? After reading the fine print, and doing a bit of extra-curricular research, we’ve discerned that these are simply the purest forms of the active ingredients in many of those $300 serums we’ve grown to love. We almost hate to tell you this, but in our experience, the effects of these $8 potions are both more potent and more immediate than those of the products you’ve already spent hundreds on. Start by taking the brief quiz on the Ordinary’s Web site, and recommendations that address specific concerns and objectives will ensue. So far, our new regime (which costs a whopping $63) has worked wonders. (Starting at $4.20, —Ashley Baker


Fountain Pen Hospital

In 1946, around the corner from Manhattan’s City Hall Park, Al Wiederlight and his son Phil opened a shop to revive dying pens (and to sell both new and antique ones). Seventy-six years later, Phil’s son Terry and his son Steve are the doctors in charge. Fountain Pen Hospital stocks thousands of writing instruments—fountains, rollerballs, ballpoints—that will run you anywhere from $20 to $20,000. In the hospital’s Back Room, they keep pens that are no longer manufactured, such as a 1997 red lacquered Chinese fountain, a 1983 gold fluted pen, and several vintage Montblancs. As Terry told CBS, “Used to be 14 stores in New York who sold basically the same items, but we’re the only one left.” ( —Jensen Davis

Issue No. 156
July 9, 2022
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Issue No. 156
July 9, 2022