Wednesday, October 28, 2020

RIP Kid Lucky

Terry Lewis, a longtime East Village resident who was known as Kid Lucky, a beatbox and beatrhyming pioneer, died on Oct. 23. Friends say that he had been battling cancer for the past three years.

Kid Lucky created events like the Hip Hop Subway Series and The American Human Beatbox Festival, and performed at various downtown venues as well as Astor Place and the subway. 

Penny Arcade, a longtime downtown performance artist and archivist, shared her thoughts on his generous spirit.
Lucky was an artist and human of great dignity and authenticity. I have never met a braver person. He was unfailingly generous to me regarding my work and my influence on him as well as a selfless promoter of other artists. He was a great mentor to many as well as a prolific organizer of events for the art form he loved. 

Lucky was gentleman of the highest order and he had an innate elegance and deep sophistication that was the result of the strength of his intelligence and personal inquiry...not something that was handed to him thru the luck of birth or connections. He was cosmopolitan in the true sense. Lucky was also a  proud and devoted father to his son Psyence. 
Fly Orr shared Kid Lucky's story of moving to NYC in one of her PEOPs portraits...
He received the 2018 American Beatbox Lifetime Achievement Award. "The American Beatbox Community would not be where we are today without his years of hard work," the group said at the time. 

Will update this post when there's additional information about a memorial.

'Songs' of the fall season as it's diorama time at the 9th Street Community Garden & Park

Peephole Season is upon us at the Ninth Street Community Garden & Park on the northeast corner of Avenue C... as East Village artist J. Kathleen White has unveiled her 2020 collection of dioramas. 

This year's theme: "Songs," featuring Ship, Camp, Bog and Bird.

EVG contributor Stacie Joy shared these photos in case you can't see them in person...
White started creating and sharing the dioramas in 2005.

Signage arrives for E7 Deli & Cafe on First Avenue and 7th Street

On Monday, workers put up the signage for the new deli coming to the northeast corner of First Avenue and Seventh Street (thanks Derek Berg for the tip!). 

And the new 24/7 venture, E7 Deli & Cafe, will feature a juice bar and a salad bar. The words "organic" and "natural" also appear on the sign.

No. 118 First Ave. had been vacant since Golden Food Market closed here in the summer of 2017 after 35 years in business. Before their lease wasn't renewed, an LLC with a West 11th Street address bought the building in the spring of 2017 for $5.8 million, per public records.

Golden Food Market owner Ali Fardos now runs East Village Organic a few storefronts away.

A tapas-wine bar was in the works for No. 118 in April 2018, but those plans never materialized.

Construction watch: 180 2nd Ave.

Workers are wrapping up third full year of gut renovations at 180 Second Ave. between 11th Street and 12th Street... that's almost three years of a blocked bike lane and a section of Second Avenue ... not to mention a sidewalk bridge blocking out the light for sidewalk cafes at the restaurants on either side of the building — Pangea on the right and Cacio e Pepe on the left.

According to the previously approved work permits on file with the city, workers are converting the building to residential use and adding two floors — from five to seven — in the process. Permits show that there will be one residential unit on each floor. (Condos?)

Not sure why this is taking so long. The extra floors aren't even in view after all this time. As previously reported, dating to June 2017, the building was designed to earn LEED Platinum and Passive House certification, complete with a green roof with solar hot water panels for each residential unit.

The Chicago-based Polish National Alliance was the previous owner of No. 180. The building housed the Józef Pilsudski Institute of America, which is the largest Polish-American research institution specializing in the recent history of Poland and Central Eastern Europe. (They found a new home in Greenpoint.) An LLC bought the building for $6.75 million in June 2014, per public records. City Realty listed the new owner as Robert Stern.

As for the ground-floor retail space, the Ninth Ward was the previous tenant. That New Orleans-themed bar closed in February 2016. The Ninth Ward was said to be returning to this space after the gut renovations, but that was in mid-2017.

Previously on EV Grieve:

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Noted

EVG reader Sonya spotted this discarded item on 13th Street between Avenue A and First Avenue... a tabletop in the shape of the continental United States. Or perhaps a statement on the state of the country heading into the election...

A visit to The Baroness

Text and photos by Stacie Joy 

I am a wee bit nervous as I approach the Baroness and her eponymous latex shop at 530 13th St. (between Avenues A and B). I’d never worn latex before and tend to go through life in jeans and tees, which is a definite no-no at the elegant, well-appointed and provocative showroom where the Baroness designs, creates, fits and sells her line of custom, bespoke, and ready-to-wear latex fashion.
It is always a challenge to step outside one’s comfort zone, but the Baroness’ no-nonsense yet encouraging and confident demeanor guided me through the process. And I saw myself differently in the mirror…speaking of which, the fitting room mirror at the atelier is kind and the dressing room space is set up to allow for best-case scenarios when trying on outfits.

Due to COVID-19, people are not dressing up that much, there are fewer parties and events, and although the Baroness wears latex on the regular, most people would be looking for something special, maybe for a holiday? In that light, I ask the proprietrix to show me what the store has for Halloween as we chat about her history in the neighborhood and her passion for latex.

Can you speak a bit about the history of the shop and how it came to be? What drew you to the East Village and what has kept you here? Are there any special challenges to living and working in the neighborhood? 

When I first started my business (almost 30 years ago) I ran it from my studio. Then the building required work on the front wall, which would mean a total disruption, so I set out to look for another workspace. I needed to keep it close-by as I had been spoiled and feared that if I had to travel too far I would not.

I was very fortunate to find more than an atelier, the ideal workspace came with a shop at street level. Prior to my moving in the space had been poorly used but that both allowed and necessitated renovations including knocking down walls, replacing flooring, establishing lighting and electrical outlets (all in the perfect locations). As our workspace is below-ground, I painted it in lighter tones of purples, pinks and greens and had work tables and closets built so everything was at hand. 

Upstairs I chose soft blues, pinks and purples forgoing the traditional red and black of other fetish shops. I wanted it to be a place that would welcome women and make them feel safe. The dressing room was huge and hung with fabric and fitted with flattering mirrors. 

What I hadn't realized is just how much help it would be for my fit and designs as I now saw more varied body shapes in my elegant latex fashions.

Being on a side street and in the East Village meant that although I had limited foot traffic (which didn’t matter much as The Baroness is a destination) my rent was also lower than in other parts of New York. After all the work involved in renovating and establishing myself on East 13th Street it was easiest to stay put as we have for the last 12 years (despite the steady yearly increase in rent).

Of course, now with COVID-19 and having the boutique closed for months, everyone has been affected and there are many empty storefronts throughout the neighborhood. My business has been particularly affected as many of my customers now have limited funds and the usual parties and events that they would wear latex for have been canceled or simply postponed until next year. I am fortunate that much of my business comes from elaborate custom creations commissioned by loyal longtime clients and that my landlady has been most understanding during this troubled time. 

Latex is both more complicated (in construction of the garments) and more simple (in cleaning and caring for the clothes) than I’d realized. What made you choose latex as a fabric, and what can you tell beginners about wearing it?

My background has always been in clothing, fabric and art, and my motto is "any occasion to dress is an occasion to overdress," so when I discovered latex my life was instantly transformed

Once I began to work with latex, I enjoyed learning and exploring its mysteries. The largest being how to make it! Everything is glued and when I started, I was one of only three latex designers in North America. Latex is still a niche market and now The Baroness boutique is the ONLY shop in the U.S. that makes and sells only its own latex!

What I tell latex virgins (my absolute favorite customers) is to give in, to allow their senses to take over, to inhale the vanilla milk-chocolate aroma, to savor the sensual feeling of it against your body or the touch of another latex-clad enthusiast, to marvel in the gleam, the shine, and the highlights and lowlights of this amazing material as they watch it in motion. There is no material more sensual than latex. 

On the practical side I inquire as to their budget, their intentions, and where they will wear it to help in their choice. I explain and demonstrate how to shine  and care for their latex along with assuring them of my lifetime guarantee. 

I believe wearing latex should be comfortable not only on the body. If you want discomfort, buy it super tight, our sizes range from extra-small to extra-large, along with queen size and custom for both men and women, but also to your personal style and body image. If you aren’t comfortable in what you wear you will never look the best you can and probably that garment will be relegated to the back of the drawer or closet.
You go all out for Halloween. What do you recommend for people who may be interested in wearing latex for a holiday event but have little experience?

Halloween is my birthday and even as a child I fantasized about watching a gathering of well-dressed people. When I moved [from the UK] to the U.S. and discovered it was a holiday where everyone dressed, my dream came true.

Halloween is (as you may imagine) one of our busiest seasons, although this year is obviously an exception. We usually do the best when it falls on a Friday or Saturday and there are many vanilla parties. The most common requests are either Catwoman or a dominatrix, although we also have made an assortment of custom creations including Britney Spears, various cosplay characters, crossdressing and regular ensembles that are so unusual for the customers life as to be considered a costume, but which I hope shall be the start of their latex addiction!

Your shop sign announces You Want Latex. As the Baroness, aside from latex, what do you want?

You missed the sign’s other side, which says "You Need Latex!" What I want currently is what everyone wants: An end and cure for the virus. That, and for a world dressed in Baroness latex!

----- 

You can keep up with the Baroness via social media @LatexBaroness, and from now through Halloween the Baroness’ popular waist-cincher (available in both black and purple) is on sale for $100 off while supplies last.

Construction watch: 799 Broadway

Here's the latest look at the southwest corner of Broadway and 11th Street where the 12-story zig-zagging office complex is getting its glassy façade...
According to a news release about the address: "799 Broadway will feature floor-to-ceiling glass, private terraces, and 15 foot high ceilings. This combination of highly desirable location and state-of-the-art design will appeal to New York’s most progressive and creative companies."

No. 799 was the former home of the historic St. Denis building, which opened as a hotel in 1853. Normandy Real Estate Partners bought the property for somewhere in the $100 million ballpark back in 2016... and tore it all down.

James Nazz shared this time-lapse video showing the demolition of the building...


90 E. 10th St. is for rent, bringing an official end to the stand-up steakhouse phase

A for rent sign now hangs — as of this past week — in the front window at 90 E. 10th St. between Third Avenue and Fourth Avenue... this marks the official end of Ikinari Steak, which debuted here to great curiosity (and hype!) in February 2017.

As previously noted, this was the first U.S. location (there are more than 100 worldwide) for the popular Tokyo-based restaurant. The concept: Diners, particularly in-a-rush office workers, stand and basically eat quickly.

However, the craze didn't quite catch on here. By early 2019, the fast-expanding company — Pepper Food Service Co. — continued to struggle to find an audience and shut down seven of the 11 Ikinari Steak outlets in NYC and converted two of them to another type of restaurant. 

The original 10th Street location remained open... until the PAUSE went into effect back in March. By the summer, financial difficulties — due mainly to rent payments — caused the chain to face closing all its NYC locations.

In 2018, the company became the first Japanese restaurant chain to go public on the Nasdaq stock market. It was delisted from Nasdaq last year.

SLA suspends Fat Buddha's liquor license

Back on Friday afternoon, Gov. Cuomo announced that 21 bars and restaurants in the state had their liquor licenses suspended for "egregious violations of coronavirus-related regulations."

On that list: Fat Buddha, 212 Avenue A between 13th Street and 14th Street.

Per the state's press release on the suspensions:

On October 9th, investigators with the state's multi-agency task force and officers with the NYPD observed over twenty patrons standing, congregating and drinking directly in front of the business without facial coverings well past the 11 p.m. NYC curfew for outside dining. Investigators noted the kitchen was closed and there was no evidence of food being served, in addition to numerous patrons entering and exiting the premises with open containers. NYPD officers dispersed the crowd and issued a summons for Executive Order violations. 

Fat Buddha is currently open, though just not with any alcohol sales. 

Other East Village bars-restaurants that ran afoul of the SLA back in the summer have all reopened, including the Wayland, Maiden Lane, Lucky, Hairy Lemon and St. Dymphna's

Monday, October 26, 2020

This week at the Tompkins Square Library branch

Two events to note this week happening at the Tompkins Square Library, currently open for limited Grab and Go service on 10th Street between Avenue A and Avenue B... via the EVG inbox...

• Tuesday Oct. 27 at 1 p.m.: Virtual Walking Tour: Macabre East Village 
Join library manager Corinne Neary and local photographer Michael Paul to explore some dark history of Tompkins Square Park and surrounding neighborhood. Murder, kidnapping, the living dead, rituals, cannibals, insanity, spirits and ghosts!

• Thursday Oct. 29 at 7 p.m.: Online discussion with Frederic Tuten 
Celebrated author Frederic Tuten will be discussing his memoir "My Young Life," inspirations, dreams and plans. Frederic is a long-time East Villager and will tell us how the neighborhood influenced his works. Also, we will listen about his years spent in Europe and South America, and his passion for art.

At the 30th annual (and 1st virtual) Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade

Another year, another challenge to overcome for the Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade. 

In 2018, there was the issue with paying for the insurance and liability policy that the Parks Department suddenly required. In the end there was a sponsor and new location at the East River Park amphitheater.

With the pandemic this year, the city wasn't going to allow such a large gathering like this. So organizer Jennifer-Jo Moyer (top left) brought it online for the 30th annual (and 1st virtual) Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade on Saturday afternoon. 

The livestream event included photo and video entries from participants around the country as well as a Zoom portion for people to show off their dogs' costumes. 

Moyer, along with NY1 reporter Stephanie Simon (top right) serving as emcee, were live from a previously undisclosed location, which turned out the be the backyard at Lucky at 168 Avenue B. Several people brought their dogs here for a mini on-location portion of the event.

EVG contributor Stacie Joy shared these photos from Avenue B ... which include local winners Ziggy as Falkor from "The NeverEnding Story" ...
... and Breezy and Starlet as the Rainbow and Stars...
Moyer hopes to do the event live next fall with the 31st annual Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade. There's an archived video of the virtual dog parade on Facebook.

A Visit to the East Village Community Fridge and Food Pantry

Text and photos by Stacie Joy

I arrive at S’MAC just in time to catch East Village Neighbors volunteer-group organizer Diane Hatz and S’MAC owner Sarita Ekya stock up the community fridge and food pantry, located outside S’MAC restaurant at the corner of 12th Street and First Avenue.
The fridge is a group effort, and began when Sarita and her husband Caesar Ekya (co-owners of S’MAC), saw a post in East Village Neighbors Facebook group about setting up a fresh-foods community fridge. 

Their first attempt was knocked over and KO’d after only three days, but Sarita and Caesar bought and donated a previously owned model (along with the cabinets that now hold the dry goods) on Craigslist, and hired a local contractor to bolt them down to prevent further shenanigans.
In additional to lots of fruits and veggies, Diane brought healthy food options (dairy products, grains, heat-and-eat meals) from Trader Joes, and Sarita restocks the freezer with both four-cheese and cheeseburger premade S’MAC mac-n-cheese casseroles. You can heat them up at home, but if you have no access to an oven, the S’MAC team will bake your meal for you on-site. (Each casserole feeds one to two people.)
East Village Neighbors is looking for reliable volunteers to help manage, stock and clean the fridge, and purveyors, supermarkets, and local restaurants that may be able to help with weekly food and goods drop-offs. If you can help, please contact the group via email, here: EastVillageNeighbors@gmail.com

The fridge is also in need of cash donations, which can be made here.

The group is also hoping to help spread the word to people in need, the fridge and food pantry for dry goods is open 24 hours a day and is restocked as needed. 

When I asked how fast the food goes, Sarita tells me it’s gone in less than 24 hours, and sometimes she needs to restock multiple times a day. The demand for healthy food for those in need in the community is high.
The community fridge motto is “take what you need, leave what you can,” and is made possible by S’MAC, Change Food, East Village Neighbors, and Local Roots NYC. If you’d like to donate homemade food, they ask that it be clearly labeled, dated, and individually wrapped. Diane reminds me with a smile, “No half-eaten cookies.”