Saturday, April 30, 2011

Chico paints William and Kate

As I exclusively reported, a couple named Kate and William were married recently. And Chico was back in town to honor their union on Houston at Avenue B....

Photos by Bobby Williams.

Today in weddings in Tompkins Square Park

Photo by Bobby Williams.

At the Second Avenue Street Fair

And shouldn't it really be the Second Avenue Avenue Fair?

Previously today.

Photo by Bobby Williams.

Breaking: Workers clearing out Amato Opera on the Bowery

Last July, CB3 gave its blessing for the owners of the V Bars to open a "bar/restaurant/theater experience" in the former Amato Opera on the Bowery.

However, as DNAinfo recently reported, no work has been done on the space and its remains on the market.

Which is why we're curious about this photo @sandwichboarder sent along of workers clearing out the space this afternoon... Perhaps this is the start of the "theater experience"?


A batmobile, we presume

Oh my. Our friend @Ewingweber sent along these photos taken on East 10th Street just east of Second Avenue just now... Do these shots really require a narrative?

And why is Batman standing on wolves?

Breaking: First Avenue bike lane buffers getting buffed up — with trees!

Crews are out now on First Avenue...

... putting in a tree at ever bike lane buffer along First Avenue...

The finished product.



Distributing Cornell's plants today

Earlier this month, we passed along the sad news that Cornell Edwards, who opened The Flower Stall at 143 E. 13th St. in 1967, died. We were curious about the fate of his store.

Seems as if we have our our answer today. We'll try to stop by to learn more about the future of the space.


Street fair! Street fair! Street fair!

Ah! Here's something that you may want to avoid at all costs do today. The (A?) Second Avenue Street Fair is happening today, from 14th Street down to, dunno, St. Mark's or so. The Street Fairers were just setting as I walked down the middle of along Second Avenue earlier today.

A temporary road closure on Eighth Street

Earlier in the week, a reader sent along a photo of this "road" closure for Eighth Street...

So I headed that way to see what this was going to be about. Turned out workers were hoisted up something or another to the under-renovation St. Brigid's at Avenue B...

...and then the crew trashed the sign afterwards ... which means the road will be open then after all this weekend...

At Otafuku

Stopedp by Otafuku on East Ninth Street last evening... where the Japanese eatery had suffered an early-morning fire...

...didn't appear to look as bad from the outside as you might expect after a fire ...

And this morning, workers were back at it...

The renovations look more extensive... most of the appliances have been pulled out...

No exact timeline just yet on a reopening date.

Friday, April 29, 2011

More scaffolding arrives at 35 Cooper Square

But are they here to begin tearing it down or preserving the roof?

Into the valley...

"Death Valley '69" by Sonic Youth circa 1985. Directed by Richard Kern.

Why Pangea has been closed

Earlier today, we mentioned that Pangea on Second Avenue between 11th Street and 12th Street has been closed the last few nights...

Pangea owner Stephen Shanaghan responded to our email this morning.

"We are currently engaged in a landlord-tenant dispute," he said. "Hopefully we will reopen soon."

He also discussed his ties to the community, where the restaurant has been operating since 1986 when they were known as La Spaghetteria.

"I always refer to Pangea as a community restaurant. We have partnered with many of the local arts, theater and other nonprofit organizations for the past two decades," he said.

Among them: the Danspace Project, the Poetry Project, St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery, Third Street Music School Settlement, P.S 122, Theatre for the New City and Classic Stage Company.

"We have always believed that by supporting them we are nourishing the roots of the community," he said. "To this day, I believe that this is why we have been able to keep our restaurant going for so many years."

[Updated] Fire at Otafuku on East Ninth Street

[via @saywhatagain ]

Several people have sent us info:

Fire in East Ninth Street building btw Second and Third Avenue. Upper floor apartment building that Cloisters is in.

"Lotsa smoke. fdny sounds like they're sawing metal. and making lotta banging noises."

Anyone have photos?

Updated: Another reader puts the fire at Otafuku.

Updated 8:50: DNAinfo confirms that it was Otafuku. FDNY officials that the fire was quickly brought under control in less than 30 minutes.

A reader reports that the interior is completely burned out.

[Top two photos via @cili007 ]

On the phone with John Linnell of They Might Be Giants

John Flansburgh (above left) and John Linnell formed They Might Be Giants in 1982. In the next few years, they became regulars in the East Village performance art scene, playing steady shows at the likes of the Pyramid and 8BC.

In the next 29 year years, they: started a popular Dial-A-Song service via ads in the Village Voice; created these energetic videos that somehow got into heavy rotation on MTV when the network played videos; released a handful of critically acclaimed records such as 1990’s "Flood" and 2001's "Mink Car"; and created several records for kids that earned them two Grammys.

Meanwhile! They Might Be Giants have a new album titled “Join Us” coming out in July. This week, four tracks were released on iTunes, including the record's first single — the suitably catchy "Can't Keep Johnny Down." (You can download it for free via Stereogum, I think.)

The band will be embarking on a 50-city, six-country tour a little later this year, which includes a free show at the Williamsburg Waterfront on July 29.

Last week, I talked with John Linnell (the fellow on the right). I asked him some obligatory music dork questions... as well as about his memories of playing in the East Village.

So what is your state of mind when you set out to write and record a new album? Do you feel as if you need to make the next "Flood" each time out?

We try not to compare each project with the last one. It's very tempting to have to say either something in contrast to — or in competition with — whatever we just did. We want to approach everything fresh as much as possible. Anyway, we have such crappy memories. So in some ways, it's possible to pretend that we're just starting out for the first time.

Does the process still seem fresh to you?

We're trying to avoid something that we've written in the past. You don't want to repeat yourself. It would be disingenuous to say that we don't think about that. Luckily for us, we do feel like we are capable of coming up wih fresh ideas all the time. And I do think we're getting better in certain ways at saying something.

Your last few records were for kids. How does that impact your mindset when recording another, uh, adult album?

What's always surprising is how similar the two audiences are in certain ways. We feel like we have a spirit that we take to what we do. It's a particular spirtit. We don't tone it down to make music for kids. We want to keep the same full-bloodied spirit in what we're doing for kids. The basis of the success of the first kids' record was that we felt like we could be as psychedelic and as intense doing the kids music as we had been for adults. That turned out to be right. It seemed as if kids responded to the directness and the playfullness.

Did you foresee this being a cottage industry?

Not at all. We did not take it seriously. We didn't think it would be the next wing of our career. We actually thought this was pure fun and the pressure was off. We knew that whoever listened to it wasn't going to think of it in comparison to, say, the entire history of rock music. The little rock critic that is on inside our own head was actually not bothering us because we were doing something that seemed so inconsequential. As a result, it was a liberating way to work.

Given your successful body of work, do you feel more or less pressure when it comes time to release a new record?

It makes us feel more pressure. We have to ignore that "problem" that we've done so much stuff now. It happens to everyone. You look at other artists and think, "Oh they're just rehasing or they just don't have the youthful energy that they had." Maybe it's not for us to say whether we're over the hill or not. We're still very enthusiastic about what we're doing.

Well, you still look pretty good.

[Laughs] Oh, yeah — we're emotionally retarded. People get old. I used to think Keith Richards looked creepy in the 1970s. Now you look at a picture of him from then, and you're like "He looks like a kid. What was I thinking?" I had no idea how old he was going to get. [Laughs]

In the mid-1980s, you were always playing in the East Village. But you were actually living in Park Slope at the time.

True. We considered moving in together, and we looked at a place in the East Village. It would have been convenient because that was where we were playing all the time. Almost all our New York gigs were in this few-block radius encompassing 8BC, Darinka and the Pyramid.

In that sense, we were an East Village thing from 1984 to 1986. We developed our fanbase in the East Village. The first people who came to our shows who weren't actually friends were in the East Village. We tried playing at CBGB because that seemed like what you were supposed to do. We never felt much support coming from there. We played the showcase nights like Monday and Tuesday. We could get our friends to come, but we were not developing our audience there. The East Village performance art scene of the early- and mid-1980s was like a godsend for us. There were people who were interested but never heard of us who started collecting around us.

[Via Ephemeral New York]

You played a lot of shows at 8BC, the long-defunct venue (1983-1985) on Eighth Street between Avenue B and Avenue C. What was that like to perform in?

8BC was like "The Little Rascals." They had this whole thing when they put on a show, the curtain was made out of like stiched-together blankets. Everything seemed really homemade. That's how 8BC felt. There was a big curtain they raised just before the band came on. The audience was in this pit that someone had dug out for the crowd. The stage was at street level and the crowd was down below. It was like a big, silly variety show. [8BC] did not appear to be taking itself seriously. But there was this enormous range of strange and interesting acts. We met so many people, some of whom are still dear friends.

[The site of 8BC today, a $6 million home]

What was the East Village scene like for you at the time?

It felt really spontaneous. We played all the time in these rinky-dink places that were very sweet. Darinka was an incredibly warm place. It was on First Street between First Avenue and Avenue A. It was someone's house. It was in the basement apartment. So it was the size the small apartment with a stage at one end. Gary Ray was the owner. He named the club after his mother, Darinka. We'd be playing a show, then he'd come out and announce that his cats just had kittens backstage.

I've talked with a few people who have said that they'd like to live in the New York of "Sweet Smell of Success." Is there a certain time period when you would have liked to live here?

Yeah, I'd go there then. "Sweet Smell of Success" is shot so beautifully. [Pauses] I wonder if it's partly because we're seeing the director's vision of it and the real New York in the 1950s was maybe more ordinary. I don't know. Sometimes I think that walking around New York City you could imagine the present-day New York seen from the future ... and romanticize the things that we think of as really ugly. Then these things would be seen as sort of idiosyncratic and beautiful once they're gone.

Here's an example. The now soon on-the-way-out car alarm, which has this cycle of six different noises. That's almost gone. I heard one recently, and it reminded me that you don't hear them anymore. And one day in the distant future, people will think of that sound in the same way that we think of the Checker cab.

Does New York City still feel like home to you?

Absolutely. More than ever. I was born here. [His family moved to Massachusetts when he was younger.] I've been in New York most of my life now. The longer I'm here, the more attached I am to the city.

At the Mars Bar, a gentle reminder that the end is near

Now he commandeth all men every where to repent ... a subtle new addition at the Mars Bar...

[Photo by Bobby Williams]

A letter for the 'mail delivery person'

Over on East Fourth Street, there seems to be an issue with leaving mail for a building. There may be a new key for the building, one which the mail carrier doesn't seem to have now. But residents insist that the same key will work!

This sign sent along by Jeremy sums it up...

However, if you read the fine print, the "mail person" disagrees, writing that "you will get your mail when I get a key." And just to show that the mail person isn't nuts, he or she has a witness! "The guy in the restaurant saw me try the key. It doesn't work." But, but... just turn the key upside down!

In any event, building residents haven't received any mail this week... Can another urban etiquette note be far behind?

An early HOWL! this year

At The Villager, Scoopy notes that this year's Howl! Festival is early this year... unlike the usual late summer date, this year's event will take place June 3-5, including Art Around the Park. Underground HOWL! events will take place throughout the month. Check the Howl! website for details as they become available.

Pangea has been closed the last few nights

Pangea on Second Avenue between 11th Street and 12th Street has been closed the last few nights... mail was stacked up ... and the day's bread delivery was on the gate...

Wednesday evening!

Last evening!

It's likely just temporary ... [Updated: We just heard from the owner — will have more in a bit...but they do hope to reopen soon...]

Reminders: Art Bike Parade tomorrow

From the EV Grieve inbox...

The East Village Community Coalition is hosting the 4th Annual LES Kids' Art Bike Parade on Saturday, April 30 in East River Park. The event celebrates sustainable streets in our neighborhood while turning bicycles into moving works of art. Previous parades have been successful and it's free of charge. For more info and register here.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Bleecker Street, 5:23 p.m., April 28

[Updated] Comments today

Apparently there is some Blogger/Google-wide issue today with the comments section. If somebody decides to comment as anonymous or with Name/Url, then they are automatically treated as if they had chosen to comment with their Blogger/Google account. Uh-huh. The Blogger people are aware of it, as everyone with a Blogger account is pissed. They are working on a fix. Apologies in the meantime...

[April 29, early: Blogger has seemingly fixed the problem. You may now comment away and write things like "BALLS"]