Thursday, July 31, 2014

Reader report: Hit-and-run on East 7th Street and Avenue B

EVG reader Mayra Diaz passed along this photo and info just after 9 this evening:

Yellow cab hit an elderly man on a bike and left speeding away. Police and ambulance were called. Bicyclist can walk and is in ambulance.

However, Mayra noted that the cab driver returned to the scene 15 minutes later and gave a statement to the NYPD. No word if any charges were filed ...

The NYPD installed a surveillance camera at East Seventh Street and Avenue B back on June 26.

Last sunset of July...

And look for our post tomorrow — The 31 Best Things That Happened This July. No. 12 Will Blow Your Mind.

Photo by Bobby Williams

Laundry day

Outside Keepers Self Storage on East 10th Street near Avenue D...

Photo by EVG contributor Michael Sean Edwards

Cash in the shade on East 5th Street

[EVG photo from yesterday]

Earlier today we mentioned that the liquor store, check-cashing shop and Today's Cut hair salon at 300 E. Fifth St. just east of Second Avenue have been closed this week due to some structural issues in the building.

Word is some unlicensed work in one of the apartments led to a tenant putting his or her foot through the floor. So the city hit several apartments and the ground-floor businesses with a vacate order.

Not good for business, obviously. Bourad at Today's Cut is cutting hair five doors to the east at 304 E. Fifth St. in the meantime.

And Jaime (aka "The Tall Guy"), the longtime proprietor of the checking-cashing shop, is operating out of this armored van in front of his storefront. He tells EVG contributor Derek Berg that he will go out of business soon if he has to continue to run his business this way...

[Photo by Derek Berg]

And here is a storefront shot from last January via Goggla ...

A letter from a 21-year-old NYU student: 'We are not all the same'

[Rather random photo of 2nd Avenue by EVG the other morning]

From the EVG inbox...

I am a dedicated reader and appreciator of your blog. I am also 21, have lived in the neighborhood for less than two years, and am, in the eyes of many, part of the East Village's central problem. I have always wanted to voice my opinion on this matter, as it is one on which I feel very strongly, and such a feeling is only ever heightened after I read the many user comments on Grieve.

I recognize fully how the influx of young, yuppie college students and 20-somethings has dramatically altered the neighborhood, but I want to defend myself and say that while I can easily be grouped into this category (and I'm not arguing it — 21-year-old NYU student living in an over-priced apartment that still happens to be cheaper than living in an NYU dorm), I have found myself resenting this more and more.

Before I moved into an apartment (versus a dorm) in the East Village, I did my research. I investigated the shady and unlawful landlords, corrupt management companies to avoid, the best small businesses around the apartments I was considering, and the like.

As an 11th Street resident, I protested 7-Eleven when it arrived, I devote all my business to the local deli beneath my apartment, and I agree that many things happening in this neighborhood regarding rent, landlords, what have you, are truly absurd.

However rambling this may seem, I just want to give a voice to those younger residents who consider themselves to be on the same page. We are not all the same — I don't get belligerently drunk and hang off of fire escapes, I don't scoff at the rent-stabilized tenants in my building, I don't ignore my super and the other supers on the block. In fact, it's quite the opposite. I recognized immediately upon moving here that in order to make the most of the two years I'd be spending on this street, I would have to earn some respect by developing relationships with the people who've been here the longest and are truly residents of this neighborhood.

I also recognized that this is, in many ways, just how the growth of a city unfolds. My entire family grew up in a building on Christopher Street beginning in the 1940s, and they were priced out far before gentrification was a term being thrown around. While I did not live through the gentrification of this neighborhood, I can appreciate the good and bad it has done.

All I am trying to say in the end is that I want to enjoy and appreciate the East Village's quirks and unique charm as much as those who have resided here for decades, not drunkenly puke all over them in the early hours of a Saturday morning.

11th Street Resident

We asked Olivia why she finally decided to write this. The post Monday about the "obnoxious drunk girl" who threw up in her lobby and left a note and the post from July 20 about the game of truth or dare that ended with a fall helped inspire her.

The Women of the Lower East Side Film Fest from MoRUS starts tomorrow night

We looked at the initial offerings of the Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space's (MoRUS) Women of the Lower East Side Film Fest last month. Here's a closer look at some of the lineup for the nine-day festival that begins tomorrow night. Find the complete schedule here. (There are screenings every night.) From the EVG inbox ...

Stories by and about women of the Lower East Side will appear on movie screens throughout the East Village in locations ranging from community gardens, The Anthology Film Archives and the recently opened Loisaida, Inc.

Friday, Aug. 1, 8 p.m.

WHAT ABOUT ME, dir. Rachel Amodeo @ Anthology Film Archives, 32 Second Avenue off Second Street. (87 minutes)

Here's a scene filmed in Tompkins Square Park featuring Dee Dee Ramone ...

The Voice this week called the 1993 film "an essential, seedily romantic snapshot of Tompkins Square Park's pre-gentrified, tent-city wilderness."

Saturday, Aug. 2, 8 p.m.

YOUR DAY IS MY NIGHT, dir. Lynne Sachs @ Orchard Alley, 350 East 4th Street between Aves C and D. (filmmaker in attendance, 64 minutes)

Sunday, Aug. 3, 8 p.m.

SWEATSHOP CINDERELLA, dir. Suzanne Wasserman @ Orchard Alley, 350 East 4th Street between Aves. C and D. (filmmaker in attendance, 27 minutes)

Wednesday, Aug. 6, 8 p.m.

HUNGRY HEARTS, dir. E. Mason Hopper, La Plaza Cultural, Southwest Corner of 9th Street and Avenue C. (80 minutes)

Thursday, Aug. 7, 8 p.m.

LES Biography Project, by Steve Zehentner and Penny Arcade (feat. Sarah Schulman and Carmen Pabon) La Plaza Cultural, Southwest Corner of 9th Street and Avenue C. (56 minutes)

Friday, Aug. 8, 8 p.m.

VIA GEANME, dir. Sebastian Gutierrez and UMBRELLA HOUSE, dir. Catalina Santamaria @ El Jardin Paraiso, 5th Street between Avenues C and D. (26 minutes)

Saturday Aug. 9, 8 p.m.

BORN IN FLAMES, dir. Lizzie Borden, El Jardin Paraiso, 5th Street between Avenues C and D. (filmmaker in attendance, 80 minutes)

Admission to each individual screening is a suggested donation of $5, with the exception of the opening night screening of "What About Me," which is $10; $8 for students, seniors, & children (12 & under); $6 AFA member.

Find more info here at the MoRUS website.

3 small businesses temporarily closed due to structural issues at 300 E. 5th St.

The liquor store, check-cashing shop and Today's Cut hair salon at 300 E. Fifth St. just east of Second Avenue remain closed this week.

The city issued a partial vacate order … and several violations ...

In the words of the DOB's ALL-CAP style:


The three businesses and four apartments in the building are under the vacate orders.

Signs are up at all three businesses noting the temporary closure. (Hopefully it is very temporary.) Here's the sign at the liquor store…

Bourad at Today's Cut is cutting hair five doors to the east at 304 E. Fifth St. in the meantime.

Thanks to Goggla for the photos and tip.

Free tonight in Tompkins Square Park: 'The Harder They Come'

The Films in Tompkins series continues tonight at sundown with "The Harder They Come," the 1972 Jamaican crime film starring Jimmy Cliff.


Wishing to become a successful Reggae singer, a young Jamaican man finds himself tied to corrupt record producers and drug pushers.

Oh, and that soundtrack!

Tonight's screening is present by Miss Lily's 7A.

And upcoming:

Aug. 7: "Labyrinth"

Aug. 14: "Midnight Cowboy"

The films start at sundown... and there will be local bands or DJs performing beforehand. Not sure about any samples of Jack Daniels.

Also, bring mosquito repellent. (Seriously.)

CB3/SLA committee highlights for August: mystery applicant for the Odessa Cafe; catering license for 51 Astor Place

[EVG file photo of the former Odessa Cafe from May]

Oh, the CB3/SLA Licensing Committee docket for August is out now.

The meeting is Aug. 18 at 6:30 p.m. in the CB3 office, 59 E. Fourth St. between Second Avenue and the Bowery.

And here are the East Village-related applicants. Find the whole agenda here. We'll have more on some of the applications when more information is available...

Applications within Saturated Areas

• Maiden Lane (Yardbird LLC), 162 Ave B (upgrade to op)

• The Comedians' Club, 120 St Marks Pl (wb)

The new comedy club is angling for the former Addiction Ink storefront at 120 St. Mark's Place. Club owners were previously looking at the former home of Tinto Fino on First Avenue.

• Box Kite Coffee (Tuck Shop Two Corp), 115 St Marks Pl (upgrade to op)

Looks as if the coffee shop, which opened last December, is applying for a full liquor license. Perhaps to pair with the coffee?

Sidewalk Cafe Application

• La Pizza Shop Inc, 110 Ave A

Black Market is applying to add 11 tables (24 total seats) out front.

New Liquor License Applications

• Honshu Ichi (Ichi 88 Inc), 188 1st Ave (op)

This is the Oyama reboot.

• Eurest Dining (Compass Group USA Inc), 51 Astor Pl (op)

Don't get too excited! This is a "catering establishment" liquor license. Compass Group North America is "the leading foodservice management" company based in North Carolina whose clients include IBM. And 51 Astor Place is officially called the IBM Watson building, so...

Items Not Heard at Committee (meaning they aren't up for public discussion)

• Luzzo's (Chito Inc), 211-213 1st Ave (op/corp change)

Paperwork shows that one partner is leaving and one is joining the corporation.

• Odessa Restaurant Inc, 117 Ave A (op/corp change)

No word on who the new applicant is just yet. Since the Odessa Cafe and Bar closed last Aug. 31, at least four different applicants kicked the tires on the space. Asking rent is currently $19,500.

• Milk and Hops (Astoria Cheese Inc), 63 E 9th St (b)

• Red Koi Inc, 57 1st Ave (wb)

• Red and Gold Crab Shack (Red and Gold Boil Inc), 30 St Marks Place (wb)

This is what's taking the former Japadog space.


b=beer only | wb=wine & beer only | op=liquor, wine, & beer | alt=alterations

David Schwimmer: 'My plan is to demonstrate that we're good neighbors'

[Photo from last August via EVG reader Marc]

East Village resident David Schwimmer is directing "Sex With Strangers," a two-character production now underway at the Second Stage Theatre.

He discussed the play and his return to his theater roots in a Wall Street Journal article yesterday. (Subscription required.)

Writer Lizzie Simon doesn't let him off without bringing up his newish home on East Sixth Street. It's also the first time that Schwimmer has discussed his move to this neighborhood in the media, as far as we can recall.

As it turns out, Second Stage isn't the only place in New York where Mr. Schwimmer feels pressure to prove himself. He bought and in 2011 demolished a historic townhouse in the East Village, replacing it with a six-story mansion, angering preservationists. "Ross is not cool" was spray-painted on a construction board outside his home, photos of which went viral.

"I never responded. I haven't talked about it," Mr. Schwimmer said. "My plan is to demonstrate that we're good neighbors."

This next portion of the article did not appear in the print version of the Journal.

A recent crime-fighting assist might have aided his case. In May, security footage that he shared with detectives helped them catch the assailant in a stabbing that happened on his street. "I had it on three different cameras," Mr. Schwimmer said.

The East Village was the New York neighborhood that most closely resembled where his wife, Zoe Buckman, was raised in east London. "She fell in love with it when we were walking around," he said. "It's incredibly diverse economically, racially, culturally. We really hope that in time we'll just be accepted totally by everyone."

Previously on EV Grieve:
Report: David Schwimmer's surveillance footage helps NYPD in male prostitute stabbing

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Birds of a feather ... oh, forget it!

Derek Berg was witness to a morning meal in Tompkins Square Park ...

Out and About in the East Village, Part 1

In this weekly feature, East Village-based photographer James Maher provides us with a quick snapshot of someone who lives and/or works in the East Village.

By James Maher
Name: Melissa Elledge
Occupation: Musician, Subway Performer
Location: East 9th Street and 1st Avenue
Date: Friday, July 25 at 5 pm.

I grew up in very rural North Carolina, in the middle of nowhere. Where I grew up was called Rockfish. My address was a route number and a box number. It was a 45-minute bus ride to school each day. I left North Carolina when I was 13, when my mom and I moved to Nashville, and then I moved to New Orleans for six years. It’ll be 10 years next month in New York.

I grew up really, really poor. Nobody in my family went to college, much less grad school. My mom worked in the service industry her whole life in hotels and restaurants and my dad was a machinist in a slaughterhouse. My mom used to pick cotton actually. This was the South, man. You can say hi to her for me because she’s proud of everything I do and loves me.

I started playing music when I was 5. I started with piano lessons and I went to undergrad in New Orleans. I came to New York in 2004 to get my Master’s in classical piano at NYU. I got out in 2006 and I wasn’t doing a lot of gigs. The whole classical piano world is pretty competitive and I always felt mediocre at it. I’ve been playing piano since I was 5 and I’m 34 now and I never felt that good at it even though I had a Master’s degree.

Classical music is such a competitive field, and the piano especially. I could have gone on to get a doctorate and done various things like teaching at the university level and research, but the money, you know. I already took out so much in loans and it was kind of a lost cause. Eventually you get to the point where you can’t take out any more loans, and I’m at that point, so I couldn’t do that if I wanted to.

I lived on campus my first year and I hated it so much. I had the most boring roommate in the world. It was the opposite of what I thought I would have. When I moved here I had all those grand ideas about having that crazy New York roommate, the transvestite doing drugs off of a midget's ass in the bathroom or something. I was like, ‘Oh man I can’t wait for that, a real New York roommate experience,’ and I didn’t have that. I had this sad roommate. She never left the dorm and just watched reality TV shows constantly. I don’t know why that annoyed me, but even though I could have stayed on campus for another year I had to get out of there and I moved to the East Village.

When I was going to NYU I would hang out in some really, really awful places around there. I had a lot of law student friends, who were awesome, but they went to these various, terrible places, so I kind of went out on my own and discovered the East Village and the Lower East Side and it reminded me a lot of where I used to hang out in New Orleans. I wanted to live here because I thought I would be less homesick.

When I first got my Master’s it was pretty depressing. I wasn’t playing a lot. I was teaching adults who didn’t care about playing. I was getting some random gigs but I was also doing anything to pay the bills. I started doing nude figure modeling and I still do that part-time.

I have a tiny apartment. It’s on the fourth floor of a walkup and I don’t have room for a piano. I do work with a theater company occasionally and I get some light musical theatre gigs playing the piano, but I hate playing keyboard in a band. I was always kind of a piano snob. Playing the keyboard is not cool. Frank Zappa said a long time ago, ‘The guy that plays keyboard in a band does it because he doesn’t know how to do anything else.’ I just always hated how it looked. I know that’s really snobbish but, like, ‘Oh I’m going to stand here and hit this one key.’ That doesn’t do it for me. The accordion is a lot more physical and involved and it feels like I’m actually working.

I didn’t start playing accordion until about seven years ago. I don’t know exactly how it happened. People ask that, but I still don’t know how I got started. I asked my mom for one for Christmas in 2002, just as a joke really, but she got it for me. I didn’t know what to do with it. I had no idea how to play it. I didn’t touch it for like five years. And then it was like, ‘Oh I have this accordion, maybe I should try and play it.’ Suddenly I felt like a musician for the first time in my life.

I’ve only been playing for six or seven years, but I think there’s something psychological about having your instrument on your back all the time. A piano, you never have it with you. You have to rely on the pianos at concert halls or wherever and you just hope that they will be in tune. If you go to somebody’s house and they’re all like, let’s all jam, you don’t have anything with you. Having your instrument and being able to carry it around all the time, it’s weird but I just felt like I got it for the first time. It took me two decades to figure that out.

I do what I call non-traditional music on a traditional instrument. Probably 95 percent are my own arrangements of things that you wouldn’t expect to hear on an accordion. I don’t do the traditional Polkas or French or Italian music because I’m not Polish, French or Italian. I’m just an American redneck who grew up in the ‘90s. I do covers of Gangster’s Paradise or Radiohead or Johnny Cash. I do everything from Beethoven to Ginuwine.

I started busking in 2009 — out of necessity. I thought about doing it but I never had the balls to do it and definitely not solo. Then one day I needed to pay the rent in a few days and I said, ‘I’m just going to try this now.’ I was terrified. I didn’t even have music memorized. I knew about four songs solo because I played with a lot of bands to begin with. I just kind of played them over and over again. I had my little music stand. I played like two hours and made like 25 bucks, which wasn’t that bad.

I started out playing at Union Square in the mezzanine because that’s where I saw people playing, but then the cops told me to leave after five minutes. It took me a few years to get confident enough for the platforms. After the cops said I couldn’t play there, I went to another station and I’m glad I did because that’s how I’ve handled cop situations ever since. It was good money and it got better once I got more confident. The more music I learned and the more confident I became. Once I stopped using a music stand my money doubled probably because you don’t have that barrier between you and the people. It makes a difference.

I just love it. I thought it was illegal when I started to do it. Sometimes the cops would tell me to leave and I would leave but then I learned one day that it’s not illegal. You can look it up online. It’s section 1050.6C. Playing in the subway is permitted, there are just certain rules you have to follow. You can’t use an amplifier on the platform; you can’t play on a train; you can’t sell CDs; you can’t play within 25 feet of a turnstile. Of course you see a lot of those rules being broken multiple times, but I try not to.

Next week, Melissa discusses finishing her solo CD and getting robbed while busking.

James Maher is a fine art and studio photographer based in the East Village. Find his website here.

Dr. Dave raises $35k in 5 days, avoids eviction

The crowdfunding campaign for Dr. David Ores netted $34,700 in five days via more than 660 supporters.

As previously reported, Dr. Dave was facing eviction from his office at 189 E. Second St. after he learned he had to pay more than $30,000 in back taxes to the landlord, LES People's Mutual Housing Association.

Meanwhile, Ores, a general practitioner who has long served the uninsured and low-income residents on the Lower East Side, was back in Housing Court yesterday. Lawyers for both sides talked, and the case was adjourned until Sept. 5.

In a message on his Facebook page, Ores wrote, "They think they can arrive at an agreement and settle out of court. All donated funds are in escrow and will be used to pay taxes as part of eventual settlement. NOT getting evicted if we can settle."

We asked him later how he felt after the court date.

"Not evicted, which is good. [I'm] not sure how much tax I will need to pay each month … or what we will settle at."

DNAinfo's Lisha Arino filed a story yesterday on Dr. Dave's situation, and provided more background.

Ores remembers the lease saying he wouldn't have to pay property taxes because the building had a J-51 tax break, but the building does not have one, according to the city and the LES People's Mutual Housing Association.

Ores previously had an office on Clinton Street, also leased from the LES People's Mutual Housing Association. That building did have a J-51 tax break, so Ores didn't have to pay property taxes there, but that changed when he moved to East Second Street, said Rona Clemente, the housing association's executive director.

The housing association reached out to Ores several times in the past year to tell him to pay the taxes but did not receive a response, Clemente said. Ores, though, said he asked Clemente if he could set up a payment plan but never heard back.

For nearly 20 years, Dr. Dave, who founded a health care co-op for restaurant workers in 2008, has treated the uninsured, telling people to simply pay what they can. Following Hurricane Sandy, he provided free food and medical care for anyone who needed it.

Reader report: Rent hike washes away longtime Avenue A laundromat

Kim's Laundromat & Cleaners on the southeast corner of Avenue A and East 13th Street closed yesterday, a victim of a rent hike, according to EVG reader dwg.

Workers were inside cleaning out the space, which has been here a good 30 years.

No word just yet on a new tenant. (Maybe it will stay a laundromat?)

In November 2009, Chico created this tribute to Eric "Taz" Pagan outside the laundromat.

Pagan, a bouncer at the former Forbidden City lounge on Avenue A, was shot and killed trying to break up a fight on Aug. 23, 2009. Pagan was not on duty at the time of the shooting. He was 42.

Familiar Burger-Klein sign has disappeared from Avenue A

[EVG photo from spring 2013]

When the sidewalk bridge and scaffolding arrived at 28 Avenue A last November, we wondered if the familiar Burger-Klein signage would remain. The floors about Gracefully between East Second Street and East Third Street are being converted into a New York Sports Club.

And this week, the Burger-Klein sign came down.

Perhaps the workers will return it after the renovations are complete. That could happen, right? Right?

Furniture seller Burger-Klein occupied the building as early as 1939. Read more about the history of the Burger-Klein building at Off the Grid.

Previously on EV Grieve:
RUMOR: New York Health & Racquet Club taking over the space above Gracefully on Avenue A (24 comments)

New York Sports Club in the works for Avenue A

Sidewalk bridge and scaffolding arrive ahead of planned New York Sports Club on Avenue A

New York Sports Club says hello on Avenue A

San Marzano finds new home on 2nd Avenue

Back in January, a flood KO'd San Marzano, the 5-year-old pizzeria at 71 Clinton St.

It appears that the owners have ditched their pizza (they auctioned off all the equipment on Clinton Street) … for pasta at a new restaurant that they quietly opened at 117 Second Ave. at East Seventh Street. EVG reader Veronica Avanic noted that they were open as of Monday.

[Click on the image for more detail]

The menu appears to be affordable — the pastas are all $9, the most expensive food item on the menu … and there are three varieties of canned beer each for $3. You can find all the menus here.

This space was previously home to Picnic, which flamed out after just three months. And seemingly in another lifetime it was the Kiev.

Previously on EV Grieve:
Storefront renovation for 117 Second Ave.; last call for Song 7.2?

A Picnic for Second Avenue

Picnic has apparently closed on Second Avenue

Butter Lane Cupcakes is under new ownership on East 7th Street

[Photo of new owner Lisa Liu from news release]

From the EVG inbox...

Pam Nelson, Linda Lea and Maria Baugh are excited to announce the sale of Butter Lane to Lisa Liu, an experienced restaurant owner and entrepreneur. Lisa will take over the day-to-day operations of Butter Lane's flagship location in the East Village.

Pam, Linda and Maria retain ownership of the brand and look forward to expanding the wholesale business and launching more cupcake baking classes.

“We’re happy to remain a small-town bakery in a big city,” said founder and co-owner Pam Nelson. “We chose Lisa because she has the same sensibility and commitment to the neighborhood and community that we do."

Baugh told us that they will continue to own the Park Slope location.

Butter Lane opened at 123 E. Seventh St. in November 2008. They combined their classroom annex and bakery last summer. And Butter Lane never turned into a bar like some neighbors feared.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Remembering Michael Brody

Last Monday, I posted an item about Michael Brody, a longtime East Village resident who died on June 8 of lung cancer at age 71.

The super of the East First Street building where Michael had lived for 40-plus years was seemingly left in charge of taking care of his possessions. The super, who was good friends with Michael, invited another building resident into the apartment to help him figure out what to do with Michael's belongings. At the time, the two were unsure if anyone had been in Michael's apartment in recent weeks.

The resident, who asked not to be named in this post, was able to track down several of Michael's friends. The resident found a diary from 1967-1968 featuring prominent mentions of a Pamela. Turns out that there was also a postcard from 2010 on top of his refrigerator with Pamela's last name and address. The resident ended up finding the right Pamela in California on the first attempt via email.

In the days that followed, Pamela shared a series of touching and beautiful stories about her relationship with Michael in the East Village in the late 1960s.

Pamela gave me her permission to share her stories about Michael.

"I want his presence remembered," she said.


Michael was my first boyfriend, a real love of my life, when I went to NYU film school in 1966-68 — straight out of high school.

It's a funny story how we met. I rolled into the Bleecker Street Cinema, stoned or tipsy, and mistook him standing in the lobby with friends. I gave him a big kiss, saying “Tom! I’m sorry I’m late.’”

He and his friends just twinkled, and without missing a beat, he put his arm in mine and ushered me into the movie, smooth as a tango dancer. We were inseparable from then on.

He introduced me to his roommate as Uncle Ted. He was younger than him, a rosy-cheeked, handsome young man with blazing blue eyes who chased ballerinas ... who he’d met traveling in the Cedars of Lebanon in their salad days after college, exploring for Kief and hash.

Michael was a good actor then. I always urged him to keep going out for parts, but something made him give up. Such a loss. He was born to act. He was quite brilliant. Used to read Samuel Beckett to me as bedtime stories ... one of the only people I’ve ever met who made me laugh and appreciate the great writer. He turned me on to the I Ching too, which I used for years.

He disappeared for the better part of a year. I couldn’t find him anywhere, and felt utterly bewildered. Uncle Ted was mum. I figured he went off with some other woman. He’d actually been in jail, busted for picking up some bricks of Mexican pot to sell. He never explained it, but jail bit deep into his spirit.

He was too hard on himself. Though of course he’d disagree. His sense of irony and disdainful ennui was unparalleled.

He was from Hammond, Indiana, and I think in the Big Apple, it might have given him an inferiority complex.

He was an old, old soul. Love of my life. Forever dear to me. He was one of a kind, never to be duplicated. Deep, subtle, too smart for his own good. I could never un-love him.


I was thinking about a macrobiotic restaurant we used to go to, the very first one in the East Village. We went because it was cheap, just rice and vegetables, can’t recall the name — The Cauldron or something like that. So many great conversations with actors, writers, artists, etc. eating there.

Walking home we’d join the dancers in front of the Swami Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada sitting on his stoop, hipsters goofing around, ecstatically getting high naturally. The Electric Circus on St. Mark's was a groove.

Michael taught me how to throw and read the I Ching. He taught me a lot about being present, detached, able to laugh, how to walk down the street. His perceptions of people were X-ray all the way and his ability to sound like a multitude of people as good as Robin Williams, without the frantic. His English voices make me laugh now. He was good with pompous. Sense of humor, mostly very dry, disdainful. He softened the older he got.


Memories of Michael are flowing like an underground river. He was a star shining in the daytime. He’d laugh at me for saying that, but in my life it's true. He was good to the core. A gentle soul in a harsh city … and we saw some of the best of it.

Every time I called Michael it was if no time had passed and we just picked up the conversation we’d left off a minute before.

I was just in NYC in May and called him before I came. We’d looked forward to seeing each other ... but he refused to see me when I came. I could tell it would hurt his pride if I just showed up. I guessed he probably was gaunt and felt like hell and figured he might even be too weak to go to the window and throw down the key.

When we said goodbye on the phone it was just like he always did, which made me cry, because we both knew … I’d been telling him for years to quit smoking. He thought doing Tai Chi made him invulnerable.

His hypersensitivity, depth of feeling and critical mind made him so private. Infuriatingly so. Stubborn and brilliant, his hurts and doubts kept so private, impenetrable. God I wish I could talk to him, see him once again.



In the days that followed the post, I heard from several of Michael's friends, including Uncle Ted. Several people had assured me that they had been in Michael's apartment after his death, collecting items, including some of his many diaries and journals, per his instructions.

The resident sent Pamela a diary, some photos, drawings, a pair of his sunglasses and a scarf.

"I'm so glad I found Pamela — I think the diary should be in her care," the resident told me. "They both started diaries around the same time, drawing self-portraits with each entry."

His apartment is now in the hands of the super. Some of the remaining things, such as clothing, will be donated to a homeless shelter. Some of the items will end up on the street — likely where Michael found them. One friend said that he picked up most of his furniture and odd-and-ends on the street. One diary entry from 1968 mentioned finding a hat rack with a description. The hat rack is still in the apartment.

"I wish though that the apartment was just preserved as is... and could be a museum," the resident said.

"I felt a little weird about going through his things and don't know whether or not that's intrusive or disrespectful of such a private person," the resident said. "I guess I'm a very curious person and wanted to figure out who my neighbor was."

[A recent photo of Michael courtesy of Lili Barsha]

At Ben's Deli, now with more food options

The folks at Ben's Deli at 32 Avenue B recently expanded their food offerings … adding a steam table, among other things.

EVG contributor Stacie Joy stopped by for a look here between East Second Street and East Third Street.

She found Ben's son, Mohammad, wearing the (new) blue Ben's Deli T-shirt working complete with a broken hand…

There's also a coffee station now, so Oscar has a little more time to make sandwiches.

And here is Fadhle Suliman behind the register with his 12-year-old son, Mohamed ...

Anyway, the food is quite good … and reasonably priced…

[EVG took this photo]

'Most uses considered' for 3 retail spaces at Kushner's 170 E. 2nd St.

The retail spaces are now on the market over at 170-174 E. Second St., where landlord Jared Kushner has reportedly been using aggressive tactics to rid the buildings of rent-stabilized tenants.

Here's more info about the spaces between Avenue A and Avenue B via the RKF listing:

Ground Floor
Space A — 250 SF
Space B — 500 SF
Space C — 500 SF

Formerly multiple tenants

Black Iron Burger Shop, Duane Reade, Il Bagatto, Jane’s Exchange, Snack Dragon, Supper, Two Boots, Waffles and Dinges [sic]

Most uses considered
Natural light throughout
Situated in one of New York City’s fastest growing neighborhoods
Potential basement space
In close proximity to the F subway lines

There isn't any mention of the asking rent, just "negotiable."

And this is a curious selection of neighbors. Black Iron is three blocks away on East Fifth Street and Snack Dragon is closing this week. And Il Bagatto is now delivery only.

Previously on EV Grieve:
Inside a classic East Village tenement before the whole building is renovated

Two East 2nd St. buildings sell for $17.5 million; will new owner still honor Allen Ginsburg?

Tenants claim: Kushner and Westminster want to destroy this building's beautiful garden

Reports outline how Kushner Companies is aggressively trying to empty 170-174 E. 2nd St.

Culturefix has closed on Clinton Street

[Photo via The Village Voice]

The bar-boutique-gallery at 9 Clinton St. just south of Houston abruptly closed this past weekend.

Co-owners Cole Schaffer and Ari Stern left the following explanation on their Facebook page on Saturday:

We regret to announce that after four years of doing business at 9 Clinton Street, Culturefix will be closing its doors. Tomorrow, July 27th, will be our last day of operations and we would love to have all of you here for one last drink then. At this time, we cannot go into detail as to the cause of our closure, but would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our supporters.

To the thousands of artists, musicians, performance artists, film makers, designers, writers, curators and organizers — you made Culturefix what we always hoped it would be; a community of limitless artistic expression in a nontraditional art space.

To all the lovers of food and drink we have served in the past — we would like to thank you for choosing to spend your time and money with us when you had endless options in this city. Your support directly facilitated the gallery and everything we have displayed and hosted.

We would lastly like to express our appreciation and gratitude for the community on and around Clinton Street. You are what makes this neighborhood the best in all of NYC.

We can't wait to update you on our future endeavors!

The Lo-Down first reported on this closure Sunday morning.

You can read an interview with Stern from last year in the Voice here.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Spontaneous East 5th Street cookout doesn't go so well this afternoon

This man, not known to the residents here on East Fifth Street between Second Avenue and Cooper Square, decided to fire up a grill on the stoop.

Paul Kostabi was around to take these photos.

The man used the entire can of lighter fluid. The grill caught on fire.

Someone called the fire department.

The NYPD also stopped by.

In the end, the man was told to leave. And he was allowed to take his meat with him.

July 28

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, everywhere you go … well, at least on East Seventh Street near Avenue C where the Bride of 7th spotted this beaut — lights intact, bonus.

And extra bonus points for the iPhone authentication.

But the prettiest sight to see is the holly that will be
On your own front door.