Thursday, May 23, 2019

At the first WPA Arts exhibition

Last night, the Women’s Prison Association (WPA), an advocacy organization dating here to 1845 devoted to women with criminal backgrounds, held its very first art exhibit in the Isaac T. Hopper Home on Second Avenue between Sixth Street and Seventh Street.

Here's more about the exhibit and WPA Arts:

The women of Hopper Home have been busy creating everything from paintings and quilted scapes to poetry, each finding strength and healing through their mediums and in their community.

WPA Arts utilizes the power of the creative arts as a conduit to care for women in all areas of the criminal justice system and at any stage of their work with WPA.

WPA Arts groups feature a wide variety of arts-based activities including theater-based techniques, playmaking and role play, creative writing and poetry, and visual arts and music as the basis for a series of targeted workshops designed to enhance and supplement the quality of care for our women.

Participants are supported by their peers in a safe and secure group setting. They engage in fun, thought-provoking, and self-esteem building activities that improve their skills and harness the power of their own imaginations as stepping stones to making positive changes in their lives.

EVG contributor Stacie Joy attended the exhibit, and shared these photos...


EVG reader Daniel Lipton shared these photos from over at 326 E. Sixth St. between First Avenue and Second Avenue, where there are Urban Etiquette Signs on the door at Izakaya... with a reminder about shutting about the restaurant ventilation system overnight (a common complain in buildings with restaurant tenants) ...

I Am a Rent-Stabilized Tenant

East Village resident Susan Schiffman has been photographing the apartments of rent-stabilized tenants living in the East Village for her Instagram account, I Am a Rent Stabilized Tenant. She will share some of the photos here for this ongoing EVG feature.

Photos and text by Susan Schiffman

Tenant: Anthony, since 1990

Why did you move to the East Village. How did you find your apartment?

I am a fifth-generation New Yorker, and have had several apartments in New York City. On the side while working with the HIV epidemic from the start of the 1980s, I did volunteer workshops in prisons and communities in conflict resolution and community building. I saved, and in 1990, decided to travel and see what other people and organizations were doing to bring those torn apart by hate together, and to freely share the curricular that was inspiring me.

The areas of major conflict in our news at the time were Northern Ireland, Northern India, South Africa, Israel and Palestine. It was an open plane ticket, and I envisioned possibly finding another home, another call. The journey did reinforce fully the sense that the earth and all its people really are my family, my wider home.

I guess it was family that called me back. I came back. I had let go of my apartment like many of us foolishly do. I left the city actually two times before when I had had it with the grit, and felt that I would not be coming back.

After several months, I landed again at the end of 1990 looking for another place to stay. Back then, we didn’t really worry about it too much — we could always find a place.

My dear, late cousin Bill Donovan, two months apart from me, lived in this space. I grew up with Bill, loved him very much. I miss him terribly. He was a wonderful artist. He lived in this space, once filled from wall to wall with his paintings. He worked at Pearl Paint on Canal Street at the time. Bill fell in love about the same time I landed. He said, “I have to move out of my place, I just fell in love and it's looking serious. (Marriage and beautiful daughter Kirsten ensued.) Why don’t you take my apartment?”

I gave myself one month to live here. Absolutely tiny, but I could put my bags down and look for another place. I never intended to stay here. As you can see, I wouldn’t be able to have a wife or child in this apartment. It probably contributed to my being single these years.

I got really busy and didn’t have time to look for another place. The apartment was convenient. The location was good. I always felt my history here. My great, great grandparents on my mother’s side, the McAllisters, were married on Avenue B and Eighth Street in St. Brigid’s in 1867.

Since 1964, McAllister tugboats, barges and shipping family still ply the waters of our harbor. Our great protected harbor, the prime reason the Dutch settled and world trade became centered here. I worked in the shipyards and tugs as a youth, including a wild offshore adventure.

But as a teenager, I was right around the corner at the Fillmore East a lot. The Fillmore was a spiritual place in my memory. It was where black, brown and white kids met through music and carried the message of our time: stop war, get together. I have this apartment today only because of the way the universe works.

What do you love about your apartment?

I was reluctant to live here. I got over the fact that the apartment is tiny after traveling the world and seeing poverty in many areas of the world. I realized how precious it is to have a small space, to have a space of my own.

I give thanks for the space and for the refuge. Having a tiny place has forced me to not have clutter. What you see here now and under here and over there is because my beloved mom passed away. I haven’t gone through all of her boxes yet. It’s an ongoing process.

A small place enables one to focus. I’ve been able to produce all of my documentaries and writings in this little space. At one time all of the walls had to be covered with storyboards. It’s become a sacred space for me.

It has also become a refuge to rescue two beautiful companions — my cats. I do have a penchant for space. I spend a lot of time not in this space, but in our city and in our neighborhood. I am compelled to spend much time in this neighborhood's religious spaces.

Within a 10 minute walk of this apartment in any direction, there is a Tibetan temple, a Hindu temple, three Jewish synagogues, a Catholic, Protestant, Episcopal, Russian Orthodox, a few Latino churches, a Sufi group, and a Mosque, etc. I've learned to love these sacred spaces and their faith leaders, the true living preservationists of the culture and history of our neighborhood.

I grew up with parents who were very open, curious, loving and very appreciative of other cultures. My father was a world historian and my mother lived the phrase “a stranger is a friend you haven’t met yet.” She saw the best and the light in all people. It's the gift from these two humans. I just love the different faiths being so close and the ethnic diversity in a place where I could pursue my passions and not have to spend all of my money and time worrying about rent.

My heart and efforts go out to the youth today. We've lost most of all the mom-and-pop shops due to rents doubling and tripling. We've had to fight hard the developers and irresponsible DOB and landlords, but my apartment remains a refuge and a haven.

For decades my passion is to help stop the secretive, non-democratic nuclear weapons industry, with it's false sense of security, lies, their unfathomable taxpayer cost and great current threat to all life, climate and humanity.

The last large work made in this apartment is my 2015 film "Good Thinking, Those Who've Tried to Halt Nuclear Weapons."

What initially bothered me about my little place here is I didn’t have those cavernous spaces over my head where expanding thought comes more naturally. I so appreciate space. This little spot on earth forms the center of the universe, of a wheel where I can then venture out.

If you're interested in inviting Susan in to photograph your apartment for an upcoming post, then you may contact her via this email.

It's official: San Loco is returning to the East Village

San Loco is now the proud new tenant of 111 Avenue C between Seventh Street and Eighth Street.

In an email yesterday, San Loco co-owner Kimo Hing shared the news that they have officially taken possession of the space — "soon to be a San Loco, back in the East Village!"

As we first we first reported on April 26, San Loco was on this month's CB3 agenda for a new liquor license for the currently vacant 111 Avenue C, which was until February, the tapas joint Marcha Cocina.

However, San Loco had yet to sign a lease. But all is a go now with that as well as a favorable CB3 recommendation.

San Loco had a longtime presence in the East Village, starting in 1986 on Second Avenue before later moving across the street to 124 Second Ave. between Seventh Street and St. Mark's Place. That outpost closed in June 2017 due to a rent increase that was unsustainable, per co-owner Jill Hing. The Avenue A San Loco closed in 2014 after 15 years in business.

[124 2nd Ave. in June 2017]

The quick-serve Tex-Mex restaurant also has a location on Stanton Street.

No word just yet on an opening date, per Kimo Hing.

A new sign for Casey Rubber Stamps

[Photo via]

Casey Rubber Stamps, one of the neighborhood's (or city's) great shops, has a new sign.

Gone are the charmingly hand-drawn block letters (above) marking the entrance here at 332 E. 11th St. between First Avenue and Second Avenue.

And now, there's equally charming new signage that fits the cluttered quaintness of Casey Rubber Stamps...

[Image via Instagram]

Earlier this week, Fodor's Travel Guide included Casey in a listicle titled "Don't Overlook These 11 Tiny NYC Sights."

Per the feature:

John Casey, an Irishman with a thick brogue who’s been making rubber stamps since the Carter administration, thinks the problem with the world today is that people don’t get their hands dirty anymore. His remedy? Stamps.

"Stamps are different to images on a screen. They’re tactile," Casey explains. "You can sit in front of the computer all day but you never get your fingers wet. Your hands don’t get covered in ink. With stamps, you can make a mess and get it all over the place."

People from all walks of life meander into his cramped East Village store to peruse the little eccentric stamps. Using red rubber, a Vulcanizer and wooden blocks, Casey’s is one of the only places left that makes novelty stamps the old-fashioned way.

"What do people do with these stamps?" Casey asks. "How the hell do I know? That’s exactly the point. People come in and say, 'What can I do with this?' It doesn’t matter. Buy it because you like it. You’ll figure it out later."

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Wednesday's parting shot

An early morning graduation-day scene from Third Avenue at St. Mark's Place via Vinny & O...

A discovery in Tompkins Square Park

Leah Tinari, the East Village-based artist, shared this photo with us.

Earlier today in Tompkins Square Park, her son Mars found this Garden State Crematory ID near the playground construction toward Avenue B and Seventh Street.

This find sent all of us to research this business. The Garden State Crematory was established in North Bergen, New Jersey, in 1907. Notable cremations here include Sid Vicious, Joan Rivers and Kate Spade.

Not sure how this ended up in the Park... likely someone spreading the ashes of a loved one, per cmarrtyy in the comments.

About the discovery, Mars said, via his mom: "I just have a habit of looking down not to step in dog poop, and you know, I like to find stuff."

A moment with the Party Bus Express on Avenue A this morning

A dispatch from this morning via EVG reader Clare Farris...

This guy was on the east side of Avenue A between Fifth Street and Sixth Street at 7 a.m., bus turned off, blocking the entire stop, just chillin. I pointed to the sign and made wtf hands, and he opened the door to talk.
This is a bus stop.

What do you think this is? (Kind of pointing to his obvious bus.)

This is a city bus stop. People get on and off here.

I’m allowed to be here, my friend. [doors close]

The MTA bus driver almost didn’t stop, had to be waved down like a taxi, and wouldn’t even acknowledge me when I asked if he had any way to report shit like this.

If it had been pretty much any other kind of bus, I could carry on with my life. Not when it’s a Party Bus Express.

1-floor expansion planned for Avenue A building that housed the Sidewalk

The new owner of 96-98 Avenue A has filed plans with the city for a one-floor extension at the building that previously housed Sidewalk Bar and Restaurant.

Plans were filed with the Department of Buildings (H/T to the tipster!) back on Friday for the expansion, which will see the building at Sixth Street go from four to five floors.

Despite the expansion, the taller No. 96-98 would have 10 residential units instead of the current 11. The filing also shows that there are plans for a roof deck.

As we've been reporting, a new bar-restaurant is in the works for the ground floor. (Details are scarce.) The Sidewalk, with a long-standing open-mic night, closed in February after 32-plus years in business.

Workers have gutted the former Sidewalk. Here's a look inside the space the other day...

[Reader-submitted photo]

Penn South Capital closed the deal for 96-98 Avenue A for $9.6 million back in March. The listing for the property had stated that the floor area ratio allowed for one more floor to be added to the building.

Pini Milstein was the principal owner of the building as well as the operator of the Sidewalk. Parag Sawhney, founder of Penn South, told Patch in early April that Milstein decided to retire.

As for the new landlord's plans for the building (aside from the extra floor): "We have a new restaurant tenant that will keep the open mic tradition alive. We love the East Village and believe in preserving what make its so special."

Former UCBeast space for rent on Avenue A

We've been waiting for the for-rent signs to arrive outside the former Upright Citizens Brigade Theater's East Village outpost, UCBeast, on Avenue A at Third Street... adjacent to Two Boots.

Well, there aren't any signs, but the space — officially 44 Avenue A — is on the rental market.

Per the Kassin Sabbagh Realty marketing materials...

It's a large space, with entrances on Avenue A and Third Street ... featuring a bar, ADA compliant bathrooms and, most important, a 99-seat theater space.

The rent is available upon request.

The comedy venue on Avenue A and Third Street opened in September 2011. UCB took over part of the expanded Two Boots empire — the video store on Avenue A and the Pioneer Theater around the corner on Third Street...

[Image from 2002 via Cinema Treasures]

The Pioneer Theater, which screened indie, underground and cult fare, closed on Nov. 7, 2008, after an eight-year run. As owner Phil Hartman said at the time: "[I]t was always a labor of love and never commercially viable."

We've talked with several residents of fantasyland who'd love to see the space used for some type of cinematic venture similar to the Metrograph, the boutique two-screen theater — which also features a restaurant, a bookstore and a lounge — down on Ludlow Street.

Citing financial difficulties, Upright Citizens Brigade Theater closed UCBeast on Feb. 9. UCB now presents three nights of programing at SubCulture, a 130-seat venue on Bleecker Street. You can find the schedule for UCB at SubCulture via this link.

Previously on EV Grieve:
Former Two Boots Video store "in contract" — largest available retail space on Avenue A

[Updated] Your 'Hot Chicks Room' sign update

[Updated] Resident starting a petition to have the 'Hot Chicks Room' sign removed at the Upright Citizens Brigade

Breaking: UCB will remove the 'Hot Chicks Room' sign!

'Hot Chicks Room' sign will now bring ruin to compost

Report: Upright Citizens Brigade closing East Village outpost next month

Reader report: Martial arts for the empty storefront on 11th and C

EVG regular Jose Garcia shares some intel about activity at the long-empty storefront on the southwest corner of 11th Street and Avenue C.

The word from a worker here: A martial arts studio is opening soon ... and it will take up the full corner retail spot.

The space has been empty since August 2017, when the New York Health Choice (aka Eastside Market) gave it up after nearly five years in business.

The previous tenant, the Monk Thrift Shop, closed in December 2010. At the time, neighbors heard that — why not? — a bank branch would open here.

A new sign for Commodities

[Photo by Steven]

The new signage arrived for Commodities Health Food on Monday here at 165 First Ave. between 10th Street and 11th Street.

As we reported in January, new ownership took over the Commodities Natural Market. The owner, Ashok Patel, took EVG correspondent Steven at the time that he'd eventually be changing the name to Commodities Health Food.

Commodities first opened here between 10th Street and 11th Street in 1993. Last fall, there were rumors that the health-focus market was closing. Thankfully that wasn't the case.

Any reader thoughts on the shop these days? On second thought, don't share your thoughts on the shop these days! There's always Yelp!

Previously on EV Grieve:
Commodities is under new ownership on 1st Avenue

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Spring scenes from Tompkins Square Park

A photogenic spring day in Tompkins Square Park this Tuesday. The top photo comes from riachung00.

... and Allen Semanco shared this shot of honeysuckles...


Steven spotted a worker dropping dry ice into the rat holes ...

Stylish Rat Ice logo TBH.

Also, as previously noted (likely in middle school science class), dry ice is the solid form of carbon dioxide. As it melts, it turns into carbon dioxide gas, which fills the burrows, suffocating any rats inside. Using dry ice reduces the risk to other animals and children that poison can pose, per an article that I cut and paste this from.

Time for the 24th annual Lower East Side Festival of the Arts at Theater for the New City

The Theater for the New City is presenting its 24th annual Lower East Side Festival of the Arts, the performance marathon in and around its space at 155 First Ave. between Ninth Street and 10th Street starting Friday at 6 p.m. ... and happening through Sunday.

Find the full rundown of performers and artists and times here.

Meanwhile, the Lower East Side Festival of the Arts Exhibit continues... and the opening reception is tomorrow (Wednesday) night from 5:30 to 8.

The multidisciplinary art exhibit features painting, sculpture, photography, collage and mixed media... and it will be up at the Theater for the New City through June 30.

A Stop the Ban rally at Middle Collegiate Church

In response to the spate of anti-abortion legislation in several states, more than 50 organizations, including Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union and NARAL Pro-Choice America, are participating in #StopTheBans protests nationwide today.

The Middle Collegiate Church is hosting a rally at noon on its front steps, 112 Second Ave. between Sixth Street and Seventh Street. Find more information at the Facebook event page.

The main NYC event takes place at Foley Square starting at 5:30 p.m. Details here.

Behold these murals uncovered behind the bar at the former Grassroots Tavern on St. Mark's Place

[EVG photo from last week]

Workers continue to gut the subterranean space at 20 St. Mark's Place where the Grassroots Tavern was for 42 years (1975-2017).

And late last week, EVG contributor Derek Berg got a look inside at the murals that were discovered on the wall when workers ripped out the bar ...

We don't know how old these are. As we recall, the Grassroots space was previously a Greek restaurant. (If any pre-1975 historians or former GR employees want to chime in about these murals.)

The address, known as the Daniel LeRoy House, was built in 1832. (It received landmark status in 1971, and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.)


Updated 10 a.m.

Thanks to Gar for this link to Daytonian in Manhattan with a post on the history of the building:

By 1931 the house was home to the Hungarian Cafe and Restaurant. An incident there on July 1 reflected the gangster-driven atmosphere of the East Village in the Depression Era.

Abe Rothbard was playing cards in the cafe that night. Police later noted he had a criminal record. Patrons noticed an unknown man open the door and motion for Rothbard to go outside. When he reached the door, the man beckoned him to step further out on the sidewalk.

The Times reported "He followed him to the stoop and then four shots were fired by a third man from the sidewalk. Rothbard fell, seriously wounded." The mysterious attackers escaped.

At the beginning of the Depression, Urbain Ledoux had opened The Tub, a homeless shelter, in the old Schuetzen Hall down the block at No. 12 St. Mark's Place. Ledoux, known to the men he helped as “Mr. Zero,” accommodated 135 homeless men on cots and steamer chairs. He advertised “auctions” of the men’s services in order to find them temporary work. On New Year’s Day 1929, over two thousand homeless men ate dinner there. The line outside was unbroken from early morning through the afternoon.

The year following the hit on Abe Rothbard, Ledoux took over the Hungarian Cafe. On January 3, 1932 The Times reported "Urbain Ledoux, who prefers to be called 'Mr. Zero,' announced yesterday that he would open a week from today a temperance saloon to be known a the 'Growler' at 20 St. Mark's Place. He intends to sell in it near-beer for 3 cents a glass; baked beans, soup, pudding, bread, pies and cake at 1 cent an order." Down-and-out men could "take their ease and play dominoes, checkers or cards, or read the newspapers."


Also late last week, EVG reader and GR regular Eskapee took possession of part of the former Grassroots sign (a worker was putting it out for the taking).

Meanwhile, as we noted last week, the space has been on the retail market. This apparently brought an end to the nearly 18 months Bob Precious had spent trying to open a bar-pub here.

In an email on Friday, Precious provided a recap about what happened to his venture, tentatively called Subterranean:

Essentially, the landlord was not able to deliver the space to us. We waited almost a year and a half from the time we signed our lease for them to complete their work and, as of April 1 of this year, they were not able to commit to a date when their work would be done.

It could easily have been a two-year total wait — an impossible situation for a small company to be in. We had fixed costs — salaries for two employees hired specifically to spearhead that project, and had paid professional fees — designer, legal, structural engineer and HVAC, and could not rationalize staying in any longer. A sad situation for us because we believed in the bar and the location.

There are several unsubstantiated rumors making the rounds about the building between Second Avenue and Third Avenue, including that a new tenant has been signed for the old Grassroots space — for an unspecified Asian-style eatery.

What is known, however, is that the place needs a lot of work. Steven took these photos yesterday... showing the old GR bar sink going off to parts unknown...

... and a look inside ...

Previously on EV Grieve:
New owner lined up for the Grassroots Tavern on St. Mark's Place

20 St. Mark's Place, home of the Grassroots Tavern, has been sold

Last call at the Grassroots Tavern