Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A look at the East Village noise wars

There's a nice, comprehensive piece by Sarah Laskow in Capital, a new online publication run by some former Observer editors.... The piece is titled Is the East Village getting noisier or just grumpier?

An excerpt!

Data from the State Liquor Authority (S.L.A.) show that the number of active liquor licenses in the area has stayed relatively stable. In 2006, in the zip code 10009, an area stretching east from 1st Ave between Houston and 20th St., the S.L.A. documented 222 active liquor licenses for on-premise consumption — the types of licenses that restaurants, bars, and clubs use. Over the next two years, that number dipped to 216, but by 2009, there were 231 active liquor licenses in that area. The aggregate increase was nine licenses.

But there has been plenty of turnover. Of the 231 licenses in 2009, only 153 have been consistently active since 2006. That means that about a third of the licensed establishments in the East Village have opened in their current incarnation only within the past four years.

Read the whole thing here.


Jeremiah Moss said...

nice find. these EV "noise war" pieces might be becoming a trend.

and if we're grumpier, we have good reason to be.

Anonymous said...

Noisier, grumpier...these things are very hard to quanitfy. But having lived in the EV for almost nine years one thing I'm sure of is that it's become a lot *frattier*.

Anonymous said...

And its not just the number of drinking establishments - it is thier nature and size. Old neighborhhod bars are being replaced by booze halls decked out with massive sound systems, that draw and pack-in far more people than ever before. Becasue most of these dinkers are also younger, they tend to get more fucked up, more often, partying later and louder than ever before.

glamma said...

It is extremely hard for any business to make these insane rents without selling a sh*tload of booze. I honestly think at this point we need some sort of relationship with the landlords who hold so many of the cards, to address how their greed is literally destroying the neighborhood. The secondary issue: "Could it be that it’s not the level of the noise but the people making it?" BINGOOOOOOO! Have you ever noticed that the edgiest places in the neighborhood are never the ones in trouble with CB3? Even relative newcomers like double down who are completely punk rock and even have a backyard! all the other punk bars, all the gay clubs, all the live music spots, ottos, nublu.. NO ISSUES. Why? Because they are not frequetned by rich entitlement dbags wearing collared shirts and baseball caps. Ironic, no?
"Social miscreants" seeting a good example while "high society" trashes the place.

Lisa said...

Someone should have told Sarah Laskow that the East Village was around prior to 2005, which seems to be as far back as she goes for comparables for noise complaints and number of bars. Anyone who has been here for more than 5 years knows the nabe is getting noisier and residents grumpier, and we have every right to be. As for Keith Masco's snide comment “When is this mythical place in time when Avenue A was a quiet block?” - the 1980s, Keith, and into the 1990s. My first Saturday night in the EV back in 1980 I stood in the middle of Avenue A around 8 PM to try and orient myself, and saw - nothing. Not a car, no open storefronts, just the occasional junkie shambling by on his way to score. And in those days the neighborhood was, aside from an occasional boombox car and the drug dealers crying their wares, pretty damn quiet. (Well okay every now and then there was the echoing crash of a collapsing building.) So to all of you who seem to think the East Village has always been a wild playground - you're wrong. For far longer than it's been a drinker's dream, it was a neighborhood of small bars and restaurants for local people, with streets that were busy during the day and evening, then quieted down when the populace went home and went to bed so they could get up the next morning and go to work again. No one came here from anywhere else to get shitfaced; there was nothing particularly special about the local joints that would have made it a destination, and anyway everybody had their own places in their own neighborhoods. And how do I know this? Cos my grandma lived here from the 1930s - 1960s (and was horrified when she heard I was moving back there). So QED, all you a-holes who are convinced the EV was always and forever Disneyland East. It wasn't. And I damn well wish it weren't today.

Ryan on Avenue A said...

@Glamma: Double Down is up for renewal with complaint history this month. No real issue with them except when their exhaust fan kicked out black smoke for about 20 minutes. I stopped in to ask if they were on fire. The bartender looked at me like I was crazy and said maybe they were cooking bacon. You know, the normal response to "Your livelihood might be on fire."

Anonymous said...

I said this over at Capital but my comment got messed up, so I'll repeat it here.

Clockwork Orange and alterna-gays versus the kinds of places people in white ballcaps congregate to order bottle service: Could it be that it’s not the level of the noise but the people making it?

In my opinion, no. Before Superdive (and after Korova) the space was a bookstore, Rapture Cafe, with a bar situated in back. Similarly, recall that Korova had a long, dark passageway to the main bar space, which was situated in the very back. Because of this set-up, both Korova and Rapture were quiet, despite being bars. Contrast this with Superdive's exterior velvet rope and the crowds such a set-up incurs.

As for Boysroom, it was a gay bar, yes, but unlike Phoenix down the block, Boysroom also had go-go dancers so it was really more of a club. Despite that, it was perfectly quiet because the street-facing open-air style windows were always closed. Destination, on the other hand, keeps its windows open for as long as possible. I don't dislike Destination (although Mason Reese is rather whiny), but it is funny that a sexxay gay club can be a better/more peaceful neighbor than a simple neighborhood bar. Perhaps because Boyroom was run by downtown club legend (and longtime EV resident) Michael Formika, who knows what he is doing.

Long story short, the new fratty patrons are largely corny and annoying (WHOOO!), yes, but I am also certain that these establishments are quantitatively louder than their predecessors.

Sarah Laskow said...

Hi Lisa,

I would have liked to go back further than 2005, but that was the stretch of data that I was able to get. In particular, I was told that the SLA data for earlier years was unreliable.

So that's why the numbers only go back that far. I think it would be really interesting to look at earlier years, too.

Jill said...

I tried to describe the EV before 2005 to the writer but it didn't make it in.

Also, by the time I spoke to her she had already done the research counting licenses starting from 2005. It's possible she couldn't get the data from before that time so that's where her story begins. In her defense, going back 5 years is not an unreasonable amount of time to review.

I think that the level of excitement on this issue moves around depending on where the most annoying bars are opening. For a long time the focus was on Ave B & 3rd Street with those nightclubs, sports bars and french doors.

Also, the relatively recent popularity of micro-local blogs like this one has made more people think and talk about quality of life issues in a way that is more thoughtful and thought provoking than ever before, broadening the reach beyond local activists. Populism!

Anonymous said...

The noise is different now.

From my window 20+ yrs ago when the Aztec bar spilled out it was a fight or a drunken domestic dispute or some scarey guy w/ a baseball bat smashing car windows. Often there was Santiago, singing at the top of his voice 'I Will Survive' middle of the street, feather boa around his neck, 4am. Occassional motorcycle setting off car alarms. Car Alarms. Car Alarms. Few yrs later it was crusties setting up house on the sidewalk. Now it is the woohoo boys and hyena girls, all squealing at top volume at each other and into their cellphones constantly, trotting around like it was the mall, and they show no respect for the fact that people of all ages and abilities actually live here. At least when I was a young asshole, playing drums or hanging out too loudly and somebody yelled out the window to be quiet - we apologized (mostly).

Anyway, I'm definitely grumpier.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate the attempt to cover the situation but the writer needed to go back further than 2005 even if it was through numerous interviews with longtime residents. You can't rely on statistics as a journalist.

Cookiepuss said...

FYI, According to the NYSLA Keith Masco is a partner in Cienfuegos, "a four-part-planned series of Cuban-themed bars and restaurants" at 95 Avenue A at Sixth Street. So whose kidding who. Search 95 Avenue A on evgrieve for more on this. While the Fratties are culprits in the demise of our neighborhood by pushing up rents and fueling the proliferation of all night keg parties, even worse than them are the Yunnies. The Yunnies and their high end cocktail bars and restaurants make the Fratties look like Quakers. Their restaurants and cocktail bars will be the death of us. These people have created a market for high end condos in the hood.

sallyannemarie said...

Does all the name calling, finger pointing, and bitterness really help anyones cause? It's hard to take peoples points seriously, even when agreeing to some extent, when it just seems like anger and venom is pouring out. The comments on this blog almost seem to be a contest to see who can be the angriest, most disgruntled, and bitter.
I am sure almost any resident of the East Village has been called a freak, yelled at, and looked down upon based on their appearance at some point. That is part of what drove those who didn't grow up here to move here in the first place isn't it? And now to see everyone band together to fight the evil bar empire filled with "yunnies" and "fratties", really? It's kind of sad. It's like people feel like it's time to take on the high school bullies.
Doesn't anyone remember that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar? Always being on the defensive and never having a positive word is a path for more fighting and anger all around.
When a new owner of a real restaurant goes to the first board meeting everyones dander is already up...how can anything productive ever come out of this environment?
I am sure not all of them have ill will and want to turn this area into a playground, but we will never know what we are missing because everyones mind is already fixated on the negative.
People relax a little...when you hold on to something to tightly you run the risk of it dropping or squeezing out the life.

glamma said...

you're kidding, right? this is ev grieve, not ev lala land.

sallyannemarie said...

No, actually I wasn't kidding...I thought the point of this dialog was to hopefully find a solution that could be mutually beneficial. The "fratties" and "yunnies" aren't going anywhere and neither all all the grumpy old timers. If both want to reside or at least enjoy this neighborhood and the city a compromise must be reached at some point.
Maybe, some of you don't have to reach beyond your comfort zones to interact with people who are from different walks of life. There are those of us who do and have found that their is good and bad in everyone.
I see now the only compromise is to keep all those seen as outsiders away from the neighborhood, whatever their intentions may be.
I most definitely would rather be in EV LaLa Land and will continue to reside their.

WB said...

That is a rare photograph of Superdive. They had more people in front of the bar that night then they've had in the bar total in past six months. That's not to dispute the noise argument. Just that Superdive hasn't looked like that in a looooong time.