Sunday, May 31, 2009

About that noise you hear if your windows are open

Fireworks for the 100th anniversary of the Queensboro Bridge. Depending on your rooftop, you can kind of see the fireworks...

Important questions of the day (and our time): Is Madonna hanging out in East Village "dive bars"

A reader sent me this item about Madonna and her current boyfriend Jesus Luz from Radar:

Luz has followed Madonna from London to New York, appeared on her arm at the Met Gala and dive bars in the East Village of Manhattan.

Per the reader:

"Um, is Madonna really hanging out in East Village 'dive bars?'"

Oh, I forgot to mention this ... I was sitting in the Grassroots the other day. And Madonna and Jesus walk on... they only have credit cards, and the Grassroots doesn't take credit cards. So I buy them a $7 happy hour pitcher of Michelob Amber Bock and a $1 basket of popcorn... To thank me, Madonna gives me a Kabbalah bracelet made out of braided red string ...

Yeah, that's not true. If Madonna is hanging out in the East Village, it will likely make the cover of the Post.

Breaking: Sun, blue skies return

Breaking: Blue skies disappear

Fall Out Bar

As Gawker reported last night, Angels & Kings on 11th Street near Avenue A was shut down for serving minors & morons. Pete Wentz is one of the bar's owners.

Anyway, when the bar opened in May 2007, Joshua Stein filed the following report on Gawker.

When emo-troubadour Pete Wentz opened Angels and Kings, a bar in the East Village, our douche canary in our douche mineshaft keeled over and died. First of all, Pete Wentz is going to be there. As he tells Page Six: "Yeah, I'm just gonna be local and drink umbrella drinks." So this isn't your normal dive. According to one of his business partners, this is a dive where "anyone can go and have sex in the bathroom and not get in trouble." So it's located in international waters?

Saturday at the Cooper Square Hotel

Someone standing around told me this was a shoot for a music video.

DNA the band?

Not this DNA, of course.

Sitting one out

The benches on the eastern side of Tompkins Square Park were painted yesterday.

Someone wondered about the wisdom of painting the benches on a late-spring Saturday... a day that promised to bring many people to the park. The person who wondered this could not find a suitable spot to sit. And he did not want to sit in the grass next to people in swimming attire.

"No place stays the same for 15 years, certainly not in Manhattan"

Jim Dwyer writes about Surma Books & Music on Seventh Street near Cooper Square in the Times today. An excerpt:

When Myron Surmach moved from shopkeeping to beekeeping in the 1950s, he turned the store over to his son, Myron Jr., who had a fine run as impresario of Ukrainian dances and parties and outfitting the flower children of the 1960s. Peasant blouses were in demand. Janis Joplin and Joan Baez and members of the Mamas and the Papas shopped in Surma Books & Music.

The grandson, Markina Surmach, whose first language was Ukrainian, lived above the store until he was 6. He left Little Ukraine and New York behind in 1991. “You want to define yourself, apart from the mold,” he said. “I chose to run away.” He started a Web-development business in Denver.

Surmach the beekeeper and store founder died in 1991, not quite 99 years old. His son died in 2003, at age 71. Markina has a sister, who was busy raising her children.

“If I didn’t come back, the store was going to close,” he said.

No place stays the same for 15 years, certainly not in Manhattan. With a few exceptions, Ukrainians have long since drained from the Lower East Side. So have the artists living cheaply. “The homogenization of city life is not unique to New York, or this country,” Mr. Surmach said. “It’s all over the world.”

[Image via]

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Theatre 80 to remain a theater: "We intend to keep the East Village a vibrant arts community"

Good news. Lorcan Otway, whose parents built and operated Theatre 80 on St. Mark's Place, left a comment on my post from Thursday. (He also sent the letter to my fellow bloggers who commented on the post.) The news Thursday: The Pearl Theatre Company, which has had a residency at Theatre 80 the past 15 years, is relocating to Midtown for its 2009-2010 season. In a statement, the Pearl's Artistic Director Shepard Sobel said, in part: "While we are disappointed the East Village is losing a theatrical venue to commercial enterprise..."

Which left us wondering what might replace the Pearl as a tenant. Naturally, we assumed the worst. Fear not, though. Here's Lorcan:

Thank you for the kind comments, from past audience members and a former tenant. We dearly loved all the tenants who rented from us, including the Pearl. Be assured that the Otway family still owns and runs Theater 80. My mother is well and sends her dearest regards to all.

When we came to Saint Marks Place in 1964, there was not a tree on the block. My father planted the first three trees on this now tree lined promenade. At the age of eleven, I dug out the auditorium with my father and helped pour the concrete. We are not going anywhere. We helped to build this neighborhood one business at a time, and it can be lost one building at a time. We have held out against times when those who are tearing down the neighborhood seem to be winning. But, like many others, we intend to keep the East Village a vibrant arts community.

I am at a loss to understand the quote from Shepard Sobel that he is “… disappointed the East Village is losing a theatrical venue to commercial enterprise..." Theatre 80 has been the jewel of the off-broadway theaters since my father built it, and we opened in the mid 1960s.

Our theater saw the opening of "You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown", was the home of the Manhattan Festival Ballet, and was the first full time film revival house. For many years Noche Flamenca has performed to sold out audiences.

I have no idea the meaning or source of this information. As managing agent for the Otway family, owners of Theatre 80, I state categorically, we intend to remain a theater. We have turned down offers for other uses of this theater which would destroy the auditorium.

Please be assured that we welcome offers from theater companies to lease this theater.

For some reason, at the time that I did the post Thursday, I didn't make the connection that Lorcan is the son of Howard and Florence Otway. Many of you likely know Lorcan or have at least seen him taking photos in Tompkins Square Park and elsewhere. The Villager profiled Lorcan last August.

I also had the chance to see his work last August in the exhibit "East Village Commons: A Loving Portrayal of a Neighborhood." Here is some of Lorcan's work via Flickr.

Theatre 80 sign via Warsze on Flickr.

Friday, May 29, 2009


Thanks to Karate Boogaloo for curating this....

"Bid farewell to a unique New York staple the likes of which the opera world will never see again"

"After 60 years of presenting affordable and ambitious opera to the denizens of downtown Manhattan, the landmark Amato Opera Company closes its doors for good [Sunday] with its final production: Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro.... Fittingly, these performances are sold out, but fans and supporters may wish to show up anyway — if not in hopes of snagging a last-minute cancellation ticket, then to at the least bid farewell to a unique New York staple the likes of which the opera world will never see again." (Playbill)

[Photo via]

EV Grieve Etc: Mourning Edition

Caddy Swim: 1:15-1:30 (Jeremiah's Vanishing NY)

Be sure to read Rob's LES slum history (Save the Lower East Side!)

This Ain't the Summer of Love turns 1! So does Hunter-Gatherer!


An usual way of falling asleep/passing out (Hunter-Gatherer)

More shift shots (NYC Taxi Photo)

Modifying the Cosmopolitan Hotel (Lost City)

A light and noise update (Blah Blog Blah)

EV Grieve reader and frequent commenter Mykola (Mick) Dementiuk has a new Web site (Mykola Dementiuk)

The Biggest Pants find a open door at St. Brigid's (Little Stories and Maybe Poems From Now and Then)

"Step Up 3D" invades Thompson Street (BoweryBoogie)

Moe Tucker talks (Stupefaction)

Always a treat to look at Melanie's EV photos (Melanie)

"Keith McNally is on a mission to have the best-dressed staffers in town. The restaurateur is dressing hosts and managers at his eateries Balthazar and Pravda in $1,200 Etiqueta Negra suits." (Page Six)

Thanks to the City Room for recently adding EV Grieve to the paper's blogroll.

And a big thank you to the East Village Visitors Center for featuring EV Grieve on their local newsfeed.

And now: The Spawn of Lady Gaga

[Via Buzzfeed]

So this guy walks into the Mars Bar in a green shirt with a pink sweater around his shoulders...

When he walked in, I thought he was lost. I expected him to say, "Excuse me, where's the Bowery Wine Company?"

But he didn't. He ordered a drink.

Did he lose a bet? People don't usually walk into the Mars Bar wearing yellow sneakers, green shirts, and pink sweaters draped over their shoulders.

A few people stared.

Trying to get my head around it, I've told this story to several people this past week. Their first reaction has usually been, "Seriously?" Someone asked me if the guy got his ass kicked. No. We're not in high school, though I often think I'm living in one on weekends. The thing is, we're so used to seeing entitled young professionals in the neighborhood, we hardly give it a second thought. It has been happening for years. Usually it's much more intrusive than someone simply having one drink and leaving. Somewhere last Friday, Bloomberg was likely smiling. It's still the city of his dreams, built in his likeness.

Everything is so watered down that even someone dressed like a dish of sherbet can walk into the Mars Bar. Nothing is sacred. Bloomy and the gold-mining developers have beaten the city into submission. They're vampires and they've drained the remaining drops of lifeblood from what was once the most vibrant, potent city anywhere.

But is it too late?

[Bloomy photo via]

The Christodora cracks up

Seven years bad luck?

Fun at museums: Appealing to the psycho-sexual crowd

Yesterday, the Real Clear blog posted excerpts from an interview between Maxwell Anderson, director of the Indianapolis Art Museum, and Richard Armstrong, the director of the Guggenheim Museum.

Here's an excerpt I found of interest:

The Guggenheim will increase its appeal to those below 35: "the psycho-sexual center of youth is in the Lower East Side," not near the Guggenheim, "so you have to figure out a way that it's not a stretch for people to get up there." They don't take taxis, he notes, and the Guggenheim in "not close" to the subway.

(As Real Clear's Judith H. Dobrzynski noted, "Gee, the 86th St./Lex Station is, what, a half dozen blocks away?")

Here's a link the video of Anderson and Armstrong.

About those "Chico sightings"

"After announcing three months ago that he would be leaving the Lower East Side to move to Florida, 'Chico sightings' in the neighborhood made some wonder if he was going to go. He said he’ll be leaving for Florida next week." (The Villager)

Previously on EV Grieve.


Thanks to the reader who sent along this gem...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Pearl Theatre relocating; what's next for 80 St. Mark's Place?

First the Amato Opera, now this...

The Pearl Theatre Company, which has had a residency at Theatre 80 on St. Mark's Place the past 15 years, is relocating to Midtown for its 2009-2010 season.

Said Founding Artistic Director Shepard Sobel in a statement: "While we are disappointed the East Village is losing a theatrical venue to commercial enterprise, we are thrilled to be moving to the theatre district to usher in this exciting new era of The Pearl in this vibrant new community."

And just what is that "commercial enterprise"? And what becomes of the Theatre 80? What will become of the celebrity footprints and handprints?

Why do we have the fear? Unfortunately, we don't know yet what's replacing the Pearl at 80 St. Mark's Place. We sent an e-mail to a Pearl spokesperson. According to the spokesperson, there are several different possibilities for the space at this time. However, the Pearl isn't privy to that information.

Anyway, here are a few more details about the Pearl's future. The New York City Center Stage II will serve as the new home. The Pearl will lease the space from Manhattan Theatre Club. The final Pearl offering at Theatre 80 is Tennessee Williams' "Vieux Carré," which runs through June 14.)

The new Pearl season will launch Oct. 2 with J.M. Synge's "The Playboy of the Western" World under the direction of the Pearl's new artistic director, J.R. Sullivan.

As for the Theatre 80, Howard Otway opened the space as a playhouse in 1967. He later turned it into a revival film house. He died at age 72 in April 1994. As the Times reported, Theatre 80 patrons assumed the venue would close. However, Otway's wife, Florence, continued running the theater.

According to the Times:
In the 1960's, the Otways bought two five-story buildings at 78 and 80 St. Marks Place, site of a famous speakeasy during Prohibition . . . Mrs. Otway remembers the heyday of revivals, from 1975 to 1985, "when people lined up down to Second Avenue." Even in later years, as other revival houses failed, the business was profitable, she said. With a mailing list of 4,000, Mrs. Otway is not worried about competition from VCR's.

Mrs. Otway also lived in an apartment above the theatre. Unfortunately, her tenure was brief. The theatre showed its last double bill -- "High Noon" and "Shane" on July 21, 1994. The Pearl's first production, "King Lear," began on Sept. 8.

Mrs. Otway still owns the two buildings.

For further reading:
Plays to Replace Films at Theatre 80 (The New York Times)

Theatre 80 sign via Warsze on Flickr.
Theatre 80 sidewalk art via Forgotten New York.

Dumb question of the day

[Uh, nevermind...the M8 has been spared...see the comments...carry on...]

If the MTA is cutting the M8 route starting June 28, then why have they recently introduced new hybrid buses on the line? (Like the one seen here on 10th Street and Avenue A?)

Another big scoop by the Post!

These guys are a news-gathering machine! No need for any credit on where the story originated!

Three photos of St. Brigid's

I love St. Brigid's. I'm going to keep taking photos of it (her?) while the scaffolding is down.

Dumpster of the Day

Seventh Street near First Avenue.

"If your establishment needs to hire a guy in an orange vest to direct traffic around your club every Friday and Saturday night..."

Crap, is it Thursday already? I meant to share this entertaining and informative reader comment earlier this week. Upon hearing the news last Friday that Le Souk had its liquor license reinstated and was planning on staying in the East Village (as reported first by DBTH), WB had the following to say:

One thing that need not be guesstimated is how much that place sucks.

Jokes aside, Le Souk did go before the Community Board in December. It was "following protocol" should this very thing happen. See here.

And so here we are. Hello.

Many spoke at that meeting. The tone was generally not positive as Le Souk went. It is true that some spoke up for the club, but a fair number of the pro Le Souk comments revolved around the tenuous idea that there exists no middle ground between circuses like Le Souk and the East Village of decades past (see reference 1). On the other hand the anti Le Souk crowd made consistently reasonable points. For example, if your establishment needs to hire a guy in an orange vest to direct traffic around your club every Friday and Saturday night, it's quite possible that your establishment has outgrown its environs.

Anyway, after everyone spoke their minds, the CB ruled that it would be inappropriate for it to make a decision at that time, since the license was suspended. It seemed like an odd decision at the time, given what was said and the place's history.

Now, I am not an attorney but I'm not certain that today's ruling means that Le Souk is on the fast track back to serving $24 Jägerbombs (reference 2). It sounds as if Le Souk needs to reapply for its license, which one would *guess* involves a recommendation yay or nay from the CB. And I can't fathom the CB giving it twelve thumbs up or whatever. The only thing Le Souk has going for it is that it has been closed for months and hence hasn't racked up more violations. But I don't fully understand how this machine works.

Anyway, if you ever have free time, the Community Board meetings are very interesting. It's a good look into one of the larger factors shaping our neighborhoods.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Lady Gaga is on the cover of Rolling Stone's annual Hot List

In the cover interview the GaGaster admits that she's been disappointed by her boyfriends' reaction to the fact that she's sexually attracted to women. "The fact that I'm into women, they're all intimidated by it," she says. "It makes them uncomfortable. They're like, 'I don't need to have a threesome. I'm happy with just you.'"

Bonus excerpt!:

Lady Gaga's devotion to being a star drove her to order bags of cocaine and spend hours perfecting her hair and makeup in a tiny Lower East Side apartment after she dropped out of NYU several years ago — well before she was actually famous. "It was quite sick," she admits.

A fire behind Stay on East Houston

Stay is the velvet-rope and bottle-service sporting lounge on Houston just east of Avenue A that Club Planet described as "the MTV video venue for the too-cool-for-MTV crowd." According to a witness, a fire broke out in the open space behind the club last night just after midnight. As the witness described: "The NYFD arrived quickly and put out most of the flames, but it took them a few hours of sorting through the trash and chainsawing through discarded tables and other debris to get everything to stop burning."

Here's what the outdoor area looked like this morning. No damage was seen inside the club.

In the West Village, "big, fat rats" are terrorizing rich people, models

"There's been a parade of big fat rats every night," complains one local, whose neighbors include Rupert Everett, Michael Cera and NBC News anchor Lester Holt. "You can hear shrieks from fighting rats, and from girls walking by who see the rats," adds the resident. A witness even overheard Gisele Bundchen scream after almost running into one. (Page Six)

Looking at the front of St. Brigid's

As we mentioned yesterday, the scaffolding came down in front of St. Brigid's on Avenue B at Eighth Street. We stopped by later to take a few photos. Been too long since we've seen the front of the church.

We sent an e-mail to Edwin Torres, chairman of the Committee to Save St. Brigid's, for an update. We'll report back soon as we hear from him. In his last letter to friends and supporters of the church (posted April 27), he said that the bids to repair the foundation were due that week. He also said that plans had not been submitted to the Department of Buildings.

Construction worker confirmation: Italian restaurant coming to the former Zips space

The neighborhood rumor was the former Zips space at Fifth Street and Avenue B would become an upscale diner-type place.... Well, according to a construction worker entering the storefront, the space will be..."an Italian restaurant."

Hmmm, well, is there room for another Italian restaurant in the neighborhood? The spot is right next door to Lavagna. Max is down the street. Il Bagatto is on Second Street just west of B. Supper is on Second Street... Perbacco is on Fourth Street near B....Cannonau is also on Fourth Street ... Uh, you get the idea.

Previous Zips coverage here.

More Ken and Barbies invade the Bowery

Spotted on the corner of Second Street.