Sunday, October 13, 2019

RIP John Giorno

John Giorno, the poet, performance artist and LGBTQ+ activist, died on Friday. He was 82. A cause of death was not immediately disclosed.

Here's ARTnews:

Giorno was one of those extremely rare figures who would have had an admired career, and earned a place in the canon, even if he had only pursued one of his myriad interests. He wrote gloriously explicit poetry in the 1960s that foregrounded his homosexuality, gave frenetic performances around the world, painted bewitching text paintings, organized efforts to care for colleagues battling HIV/AIDS, and was an early convert in the United States to Tibetan Buddhism and meditation.

The central project of Giorno’s life was dramatically expanding the boundaries of poetry, and — at least equally as important for him — revolutionizing the methods by which it could be presented and distributed.

For the past 53 years, Giorno lived at 222 Bowery — aka the Bunker. (The palazzo-style structure was also the home of New York's first YMCA in 1884.) Last month, his multiple lofts in the building were featured in Architectural Digest:

American abstract painter John Opper was the first artist to set up a studio in the building, attracted to the abundance of natural light, open space, and cheap rent. He was soon followed by Mark Rothko, James Brooks, and Wynn Chamberlain. Over the following years, countless creatives and titans of the downtown scene would pass through the space; it's on the building's top floor where Andy Warhol screened one of his seminal films, "Sleep," featuring Giorno fast asleep for five hours...

In early 2018, Giorno created these posters with the line "You’re walking down 2nd Avenue, coming to St. Mark’s Place" ... which were adorned on the plywood on Second Avenue and St. Mark's Place during renovations for the incoming Swiss Institute...

The line is from his "Eating the Sky" in 1978. Listen to that here.

There were plenty of tributes to Giorno on social media...

Week in Grieview

[Early morning along St. Mark's Place]

Posts from this past week included...

CB Developers pay $59.5 million for an interest in 358 Bowery — current home of the B Bar & Grill and likely a new development (Wednesday)

Dutch consultant files independent report on the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project (Friday)

Reports: Chinatown murders bring renewed attention to the city’s street homeless (Monday)

Blessing the pets at St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery (Monday)

Preliminary thoughts and concerns about the new Tompkins Square Park playground (Tuesday)

"Backstage On Stage" — What a Blue Man Group classroom setting looks like (Friday)

Gov. Cuomo approves bill to create public liquor license database (Monday)

St. Mark's Market closes (Monday)

A memorial for Lucien Bahaj (Thursday)

This week's NY See (Thursday)

Cloud99 Vapes space for rent, business set to close (Thursday)

Ruby's Café debuts on 11th Street (Monday)

A tribute to the construction worker who died at 356 E. 8th St. (Wednesday)

"Joker" weekend (Sunday)

Vanessa's Dumpling House temporarily closed for "modernization" on 14th Street (Monday)

Aoi Kitchen coming soon to 6th Street (Tuesday)

Year-long renovations expected soon at Joseph C. Sauer Park on 12th Street; locals want fence to remain at 8 feet (Tuesday)

Who painted Laura Palmer? "Twin Peaks" art coming to the Living Gallery Outpost (Tuesday)

Brooklyn's Nostro Ristorante setting up an outpost on 2nd Avenue (Thursday)

Punto Rojo is for sale on 1st Avenue (Thursday)

Bank of America checking into corner space on Houston and Eldridge (Wednesday)

Sweetgreen status check on the Bowery (Monday)

August Laura and all the new bars and restaurants coming to this stretch of 6th Street (Wednesday)

Here's the all-new storefront at 131 1st Ave. (Tuesday)

The China Star is now Baji Baji on 1st Avenue (Tuesday)

Snapshot of the former International Center of Photography space on the Bowery (Monday)

Report: Tenant leasing alleged sex-party house on 7th Street is leading a "double or triple life" (Monday)

... and from Friday, EVG reader Laura notes the NYPD respecting the bike lane on 12th Street at Fourth Avenue. At least three cyclists had to ask him to move...


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When a stranger calls

Hawk watchers in Tompkins Square Park yesterday spotted this juvenile red-tailed hawk hanging out (it is fall migration time) ... dining on some local cuisine...

According to EVG correspondent Steven, this arrival didn't sit well with Amelia and Christo, the Park's resident hawks. They circled the youngster and, at one point, one of the adult hawks rammed the juvenile before escorting it away from the Park.

Later in the day, Amelia and Christo took in the views from atop St. Brigid's on Avenue B and Eighth Street...

Saturday, October 12, 2019

The Meetles pay tribute to John Lennon today in Tompkins Square Park

Local tribute band The Meetles will be performing today in Tompkins Square Park from 2 to 6 p.m.

Per the Facebook invite:

In addition to the songs from our regular playlist, which contains classic rock music from 1950s to 1980s, we will celebrate John Lennon's 79th birthday (Oct. 9, 1940) by playing his music from Beatles and solo albums.

Bring your kids and pets! Sing along and dance! We hope to see you there!

Friday, October 11, 2019

'Fall Into Love' at Middle Collegiate Church's street fair on 2nd Avenue

Tomorrow (Oct. 12!) Middle Collegiate Church hosts the Second Avenue Street Fair: "Fall Into Love."

Here's what you can expect between Noon and 5 p.m. along the Avenue (from Sixth Street to 14th Street):

Children and families can enjoy fall-themed activities like pumpkin painting, art projects, a bounce house, tie-dye t-shirt making, and a bubble station, in addition to local vendors. The Jerriese Johnson Gospel Choir, the Village Chorus for Children and Youth and other local artists will be offering entertainment in front of Middle Collegiate Church.

The Second Avenue Street Fair was started in the 1980s as a way to raise money for the "Celebrate Life Meal," the free meal the church offered to those living with HIV/AIDS. The meal continues today in partnership with The Momentum Project. Proceeds from the Second Avenue Street Fair benefit the pride ministries of Middle Collegiate Church.

Put this in 'Heavy Heavy' rotation

Here's "Heavy Heavy," a track from the local indie rock quartet Pom Pom Squad ... something from their "Ow" EP that's out now.

You can see them with Miss June Monday night out at Rough Trade.

[Updated] Signage for Lions & Tigers & Squares arrives on 2nd Avenue

It's signage day for the new outpost of Lions & Tigers & Squares, the Detroit-style pizza shop from the owners of Artichoke opening later this year on Second Avenue at 10th Street.

Our previous post has all the details.

Nicoletta closed last December at this address after six-plus years in business. They are still delivering pizzas from an undisclosed location.

Thanks to William Klayer for the photo!

Updated 8 p.m.

It appears they are in soft-open mode... photos via Steven...

Previously on EV Grieve:
Detroit slice city: Artichoke bringing an outpost of Lions & Tigers & Squares to 2nd Avenue

'Backstage On Stage' — What a Blue Man Group classroom setting looks like

Text and photos by Stacie Joy

Last Friday, the Blue Man Group launched a new ongoing educational program at the Astor Place Theatre called "Backstage On Stage."

On this day, the theater hosted 125 kids from the PS 142 After 3 Arts Program on the Lower East Side.

Blue Man officials say that this matinee program aims to give kids an in-depth look at the theatrical world and introduces them to opportunities both on and off the stage. This program will be STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) focused.

There's a 30-minute session where students get a behind-the-scenes look at the mechanics of a show as well as a Blue Man history lesson. (The global entertainment empire got its start in the East Village/LES, performing at LaMama, PS 122 and Dixon Place in the late 1980s.) A Blue Man Group performance follows this session.

I stopped by for the inaugural "Backstage On Stage" session and found a lot of happy kids, who especially enjoyed experiencing the messier aspects of the show and seeing their teachers "volunteer" to take the stage ... not to mention those Blue Men, who've been performing here in the 287-seat theater since Nov. 17, 1991.

Holidays at Kmart; pint of beer Halloween costumes, plastic Bennington pines

We have a dispatch from Goggla from the Kmart on Astor Place. She points out the (going fast?) beer pint Halloween costumes.

Fine, but Halloween seems so July.

"If you're over Halloween already, they are stocked with Christmas trees."

These are 6-foot Bennington pines in the boxes...

Merry Christmas!

EVG Etc.: 14th Street busway declared a success; old-world charm found at Dua Kafe

[A scene in Tompkins Square Park via Derek Berg]

• The NYPD is struggling to identify one of the four homeless men who was brutally killed in Chinatown on Saturday (The New York Times)

• Why is the Council bill on commercial Leases in limbo as the commercial vacancy problem worsens? (City Limits)

• Mayor de Blasio, with support from local City Councilmember Carlina Rivera, is said to be "pushing for a plan that would restrict hotel development in the Union Square area to only projects that hire unionized staffs — a move that critics say will benefit a politically powerful labor group at the expense of the local economy." (The Post)

• Check out this new exhibit — "Activist Estates: A Radical History of Property in Loisaida" — at the Loisaida Center on Ninth Street (Off the Grid)

• Those Yoshitomo Nara drawings on the wall at Niagara on Avenue A and Seventh Street may be worth a lot of money: Nara’s "Knife Behind Back" (2000), a large painting of the same frowning little girl present at Niagara, sold for nearly $25 million at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong (artnet news)

• NYC Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg touts the initial success of the 14th Street busway (Streetsblog ... previously on EVG)

• Details on the queer-run, pop-up bar called Butch Judy’s out back at Performance Space New York on First Avenue and Ninth Street (TONY)

• Dua Kafe on East 14th Street between A and B has become a destination for traditional Albanian cooking (Grub Street ... previously on EVG)

• Supreme signs lease for 190 Bowery (Commercial Observer) ... and the Supreme shop on Lafayette is no more (BoweryBoogie)

• Details about a free bird walk to track fall migration tomorrow — Oct. 12 (The Lo-Down) And how about some red-tailed hawk activity (Laura Goggin Photography)

• That NYC '81 film series continues (Metrograph)

And to mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Meg on Ninth Street between First Avenue and Second Avenue is donating part of the sales from their "Tough Titties" sweatshirts to Planned Parenthood of NYC Action ...

[Meg photos by Steven]

Dutch consultant files independent report on the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project

[The Mayor’s Office of Recovery & Resiliency]

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and local City Councilmember Carlina Rivera announced the publication yesterday of the final report by independent consultant Hans Gehrels of the Dutch environmental group Deltares. The two hired Gehrels for a review of the $1.45 billion East Side Coastal Resiliency Project (ESCR) last month.

Among the findings in the report:

• The need for improving transparency and stakeholder engagement
• Ongoing monitoring for air quality impacts to be made available publicly
• Release of City documents that provide evidence for the analysis underlying the Final Environmental Impact Statement
• Further investigation of Interim Flood Protection Measures during the construction period
• Phased construction for continued use of of portions of the park with additional open space mitigation
• Additional clean fill for future flood protection against sea level rise

For your weekend reading, you can find the full 68-page report at this link.

Stay tuned for more thoughts and analysis as people dig into the report.


"We heard the requests of the community for an independent review loud and clear, and we listened," Brewer said in a statement. "Deltares brought their vast experience and expertise to the analysis of this project, and I implore the de Blasio administration to take these suggestions into account before any construction begins."

And per Rivera: "I look forward to carefully reviewing this report and the recommendations from Deltares and hope the de Blasio administration will do the same as they work to address our other outstanding demands."

On Oct. 2, the de Blasio administration announced more changes to the city's stormproofing plans for East River Park. Instead of the entire Park shutting down for three-plus years starting in March, the flood protection construction will be done in phases, with all of East River Park remaining open until next fall.

The plan still faces a City Council vote as the land use review process winds down.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Grant Shaffer's NY See

Here's the latest NY See, East Village-based illustrator Grant Shaffer's comic series — an observational sketch diary of things that he sees and hears around the neighborhood as well as NYC and surrounding area.

A memorial for Lucien Bahaj

Lucien is hosting a memorial for its beloved founder, Lucien Bahaj, next Thursday (Oct. 17) at the bistro at 14 First Ave.

Patrons are asked to stop by between noon and 7 p.m. here between First Street and Second Street...

Bahaj, who opened Lucien in 1998, died in Florida on July 29. He was 74. A cause of death was not revealed.

His son Zac has been running Lucien in recent years. In writing about Bahaj's passing, Clayton Patterson remarked that Zac has "the learned etiquette and special magic required to make Lucien hum along without his father."

Previously on EV Grieve:
RIP Lucien Bahaj

Punto Rojo is for sale on 1st Avenue

A homemade restaurant for sale sign now hangs in the front window at Punto Rojo, the reasonably priced bakery-restaurant that serves traditional Colombian food at 221 First Ave. between 13th Street and 14th Street...

Punto Rojo took over the space from Señor Pollo, which specialized in Peruvian-style rotisserie chicken, in the spring of 2018.

Punto Rojo was said to also have outposts in Jamaica, Queens, and Hicksville, N.Y.

Thanks to dwg for the photos!

Brooklyn's Nostro Ristorante setting up an outpost on 2nd Avenue

A new awning is up for Nostro, an Italian restaurant opening soon at 75 Second Ave. between Fourth Street and Fifth Street.

This is an outpost of the Brooklyn Nostro, out on Fifth Avenue in the Greenwood Heights/South Slope area. You can find their menu of Italian fare at this link.

No. 75 has been vacant since ZaabVer Thai went down in the spring of 2018.

Cloud99 Vapes space for rent, business set to close

A for rent sign hangs in the front window of Cloud99 Vapes at 50 Second Ave. between Second Street and Third Street. The shop will be closing in the months ahead, a victim of the public health crisis involving vaping products.

According to published reports, vaping-related injuries and deaths are continuing to mount, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reporting 1,080 lung injuries in 48 states and the Virgin Islands and more than 20 confirmed deaths from 15 states. (A Bronx teenager was the first person to die of a vaping-related illness in New York, officials said Tuesday.)

On Sept. 17, New York passed an emergency ban on flavored vaping products. However, the ban was halted on Oct. 3, when an appeals court issued a temporary restraining order. The next hearing is set for Oct. 18.

Still, the damage has been done. As MSN recently reported, business at Cloud99 is down 70 percent.

Pete Foran, a co-owner, is a retired NYPC officer. Per MSN:

Electronic cigarettes had become a galloping trend, and a vape store seemed like a lucrative second act.

Sure enough: Offering dozens of flavored vaping products, the Second Avenue shop was a hit. Foran and his partners opened two more locations in Nanuet and Suffern. Revenue hit $2 million.

And now...

Foran and his partners are stuck with $300,000 of inventory, 95 percent of which is flavored. The manufacturers won't take the product back, and Foran isn't even sure how to dispose of highly concentrated nicotine, each bottle of "vape juice" the equivalent of packs if not cartons of cigarettes. "You can't just throw it in a landfill," he said. "It's poison."

In Foran's view, officials didn't approach the outbreak rationally. "They should have handled it like a homicide investigation," tracing the potentially illness-causing cartridges to their sources, he said. "What's coming out is that it's black-market products that are causing these things."

NBC News did conduct an investigation late last month:

NBC News commissioned one of the nation's leading cannabis testing facilities to test a sampling of THC cartridges — 18 in all — obtained from legal dispensaries and unlicensed dealers.

The findings were deeply troubling.

Of the three purchased from legal dispensaries in California, the CannaSafe testing company found no heavy metals, pesticides or residual solvents like Vitamin E.

But 13 out of the other 15 samples from black market THC cartridges were found to contain Vitamin E.

CannaSafe also tested 10 of the unregulated cartridges for pesticides. All 10 tested positive.

Still, a new poll conducted by Siena College finds 61 percent of New Yorkers support the ban, and 78 percent believe that vaping is a serious public health problem.

Cloud99 Vapes opened in 2015 (at the site of the former Yoo's Convenience Store). And it won't be the only local vape-related shop impacted by the current crisis.

Hitchcocktober movie of the week — 'North by Northwest'

[Photo by Vinny & O]

The Hitchcocktober movie of the week is... "North by Northwest" tonight (Thursday!) at 7:30 and 10:30 at City Cinemas Village East on Second Avenue at 12th Street.

You probably know the plot:

This classic suspense film finds New York City ad executive Roger O. Thornhill (Cary Grant) pursued by ruthless spy Phillip Vandamm (James Mason) after Thornhill is mistaken for a government agent. Hunted relentlessly by Vandamm's associates, the harried Thornhill ends up on a cross-country journey, meeting the beautiful and mysterious Eve Kendall (Eva Marie Saint) along the way. Soon Vandamm's henchmen close in on Thornhill, resulting in a number of iconic action sequences.

And upcoming:

• "The Birds" — Oct. 17

• "The Lady Vanishes" — Oct. 24

• "Psycho" — Oct. 31

Find advance ticket info at this link.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Wednesday's parting shot

An early morning sky view from Fourth Street and Second Avenue...

CB Developers pay $59.5 million for an interest in 358 Bowery — current home of the B Bar & Grill and likely a new development

[Via Google Street View]

It looks like the corner site that houses B Bar & Grill, which helped usher in a new upscale era on the Bowery when it opened in 1994, will yield to a new development with the help of air rights from nearby parcels.

Public records show that Charles Blaichman's CB Developers, whose portfolio includes multiple projects along the High Line, purchased an interest in 358 Bowery, which is owned by downtown hotel impresario Eric Goode, for $59.5 million.

Goode bought the property on the Bowery at Fourth Street in 2004 from the Cooper Union for $5.5 million. According to PincusCo, Goode, whose multiple interests include the Jane Hotel, the Bowery Hotel and the Waverly Inn, has been assembling air rights to build a larger project on this corner space.

In January and February 2017, Goode filed records with four additional parcels into a single zoning lot which would allow for a larger building on the site. In addition, Goode paid Granite Management, which owns two of those buildings, $1.6 million for 4,670 square feet of development rights and Goode paid $1.8 million to a small cooperative building at 32 East 4th Street for 4,012 square feet of development rights.

In reporting on the deal, @TradedNY speculated: "Office dev coming soon?"

The transaction will likely also mean the end of B Bar & Grill, whose arrival at the site of a former gas station was marked by controversy in 1994.

Per Forgotten New York: "The NoHo Neighborhood Association, Community Board 2 and the SoHo Alliance were concerned that this conversion would change the character of the neighborhood and mounted a lawsuit, arguing on the basis that the neighborhood was dominated by light industry and artists. The area had 47 one-story buildings, and there was a fear that precedent would be set for conversion of many these buildings into clubs." (The Times had a report here in 1994.) The plaintiffs withdrew the lawsuit in 1995.

To date nothing has been made public about the B Bar & Grill's future.

August Laura and all the new bars and restaurants coming to this stretch of 6th Street

[Photo yesterday by Vinny & O]

As mentioned last week, the bar-cafe August Laura is expected to open today (Oct. 9) soon on Avenue A at Sixth Street in the former Sidewalk space. [Update: they opened on Oct. 10]

Meanwhile, three other bar-restaurants are in various states of opening preparations on this north side of the block between Avenue A and Avenue B...

• 503 E. Sixth St.

A venture called Down and Out is in the works for this space. The applicants, Knitting Factory alum who are behind The Well out in Bushwick, will appear before CB3's SLA committee tomorrow (Thursday) night.

The questionnaire on file at the CB3 website shows a configuration with 10 tables for 39 diners (the menu is said to serve the "freshest seafood") and a 12-stool bar. The proposed hours are 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday through Wednesday, with a 4 a.m. close Thursday through Sunday.

No. 503 was previously Cholo Noir, the Chicano-inspired bar-restaurant that closed in August 2018 after 13 months.

• 507 E. Sixth St.

Coming soon: Nowon, the first restaurant from chef Jae Lee, who has been running the well-regarded kitchen at Black Emperor on Second Avenue. He was previously the executive chef of Rice & Gold at Hotel 50 Bowery.

Lee recently shared the Nowon logo on Instagram...

No. 507 was last Carma East, the dim sum bar that closed in early 2019.

• 509 E. Sixth St.

As previously noted, the Pineapple Club will be bringing American Polynesian cuisine to the former Out East space here between Avenue A and Avenue B.

There's a teaser site up now for the two-level bar-restaurant.

Out East went dark in December 2017 after eight months serving a seafood-centric menu from the proprietors behind places like Beauty & Essex and Stanton Social.

Meanwhile, back along the Sixth Street of August Laura, there are two new murals... one titled "Dreamy" via @EarlyRiser...

... and another by @art_by_eyebrows...

This space is now going as A6 Art Wall — "dedicated to showcasing established and emerging public artists." Work here will change on a quarterly basis. You can find the A6 Instagram account here.

A tribute to the construction worker who died at 356 E. 8th St.

Late in the summer, workers finally removed the scaffolding from the under-renovation 356 E. Eighth St., a vacant, four-story townhouse between Avenue C and Avenue D.

This was the first known activity here since Dec. 24, 2015, when a worker fell three floors to his death inside the building.

Now, an EVG reader tells us that there is a tribute to the man, 33-year-old Luis Alberto Pomboza...

According to published reports, he was an undocumented Ecuadorian immigrant and father of five who lived in Brooklyn.

His death prompted Mayor de Blasio and Department of Buildings Commissioner Rick Chandler to announce in February 2016 that they were going to quadruple the penalties for serious construction-safety lapses, conduct a wave of more than 1,500 enforcement sweeps, and require new supervision at construction sites citywide to protect workers and the public amid the building boom.

A construction superintendent was to be present at 356 E. Eighth St. at the time of Pomboza's fall, but there wasn't one on site.

No. 356 had been on and off the market in recent years (here and here). The listings pitched the space for "high-end apartments or a luxury home."

In the fall of 2015, there were approved work permits showing that the building would receive two new floors and a mezzanine.

After Pomboza's death, the DOB issued a stop work order and a full vacate order on the site. Ten different violations were reportedly uncovered at the worksite, including "failure to safeguard all persons and property affected by construction operations."

In June, the full stop order was lifted just for "installation of temporary bracing."

The owner is listed as Ingrid House LLC, per public records.

No word on what the plans are for the building now moving forward.

Previously on EV Grieve:
[Updated] Reader report: Partial building collapse on East 8th Street; unconfirmed report of a fatality