Thursday, April 30, 2020

6 posts from April

[Summing it up on 7th Street via Walter Wlodarczyk]

A mini month in review...

• Anton van Dalen, drawing in isolation (April 24)

• Need something to read? Book Club now making local deliveries via bike messenger (April 22)

• Here's a map of what's open in the East Village (April 21)

• Anonymous East Village restaurant owners distribute meals to neighbors in need (April 16)

• RIP Jimmy Webb (April 14)

• Whistling in Tompkins Square Park with Michael Lydon (April 8)

Grant Shaffer's NY See

Here's the latest NY See panel, East Village-based illustrator Grant Shaffer's observational sketch diary of things that he sees and hears around the neighborhood.

And here's a close-up look at each panel...

Parkside Lounge owner Christopher Lee talks about his recovery from COVID-19

Text and photos by Stacie Joy

I almost don’t recognize Christopher Lee when I see him hop off his bike at the corner of Houston and Attorney Street, right by his bar, Parkside Lounge.

He’s wearing a mask, and so am I; additionally, it’s humid out, which has caused my glasses to fog up. When we finally make eye contact there’s a shared smile that can be seen even under our face coverings.

Chris is happy to be healthy, out and about again, and I am happy to see that’s he’s survived his battle with the coronavirus that has taken so many people in its viral path.

The bar, at 317 E. Houston St., is, like most in NYC, shuttered right now due to the COVID-19 crisis, which is deeply personal for Chris. He lost a friend and performer to it and also did a lengthy stint fighting it off.

We step into the closed-up lounge and, from a safe distance, we talk about what happened, how it happened, what COVID-19 felt like, and what may be next for Chris — and for Parkside.

First off, I’m relieved you are feeling better. And I appreciate your willingness to share your story! That being said, what happened? Can you walk us through it? Any ideas about how you may have contracted the virus?

This is a tough one. I was in rehearsals in Midtown every day in addition to being around at the bar all the time. I could have caught it on the subway or from a CitiBike, but I probably picked it up at the bar when I was battening down the hatches on Monday, March 16.

I also want to throw in a “who really knows?” The subway seems to be ideal for spreading germs. We had musician Alan Merrill perform at Parkside the weekend [March 8] before the shutdown and he ended up passing away due to COVID [on March 29], so we know it was in the bar. We found that out before I even got my test results back.

At what point did you think that you may have COVID-19? What was the diagnostic process like?

When I first got sick, I dismissed any notion that I had COVID and thought instead it was a nasty flu. I thought about the possibility [of COVID-19] but dismissed it as paranoia. Then two things happened.

My initial symptoms of fever and aches went away pretty quickly — less than 24 hours. I knew from my staff that the flu was putting people in bed for at least a week and took everyone significant recovery time. I have a strong immune system [but] I probably couldn’t kick the flu that fast. It was a bad sign.

When I got my test for COVID-19, they also tested me for the flu. My doctor said it was a way of ruling out COVID without having to wait who-knows-how-long for that test to come back. It was both nostrils for the swabs — the right for flu, the left for COVID. If the flu test came back positive, I could dismiss the COVID concerns. Well, I got the flu test back and it was negative and this is when I knew I had COVID-19. I also had pretty much kicked it by then so it was just a matter of quarantine until I got the official test results back.

What were the worst of your symptoms?

The headache was incredibly intense. Days of just excruciating pain anytime I looked at anything. During the “double tap” — after I had been symptom-free for nine days and thought I was in the clear — my fever was 103 for three days and the sweat was not something I even thought my body was capable of producing.

My entire nervous system was affected. My skin felt like someone had given me a rubdown with sandpaper but there wasn’t any irritation apparent. My sense of smell went pretty early on. That’s happened to me before, back when I was younger and had the flu so I wasn’t shocked. My taste buds — this was bad. I woke up and it honestly felt like I had fallen asleep with a handful of garlic in my mouth and then tried to wash it down with liquid copper. It was overwhelming.

I also experienced blurry vision along with the crazy headaches as well as an acute sensitivity to light. I couldn’t find my mouse cursor on my computer monitor at one point. I ended up wearing sunglasses inside for a couple of days for some relief. I was usually on the couch half sitting up with my eyes closed. Never comfortable. There was no position I could get into that allowed for restful sleep. Enter the NyQuil!

What has been the worst part of the experience?

The worst part of the experience is the complete lack of understanding of what we’re really dealing with. The White House has been contradicting the medical community. Meanwhile, those folks don’t seem to understand COVID either and they’re blaming it on China not telling us everything.

I was told by my health-care provider that after three symptom-free days I could break my quarantine and go outside. Really? Because after nine fever-free days without any real symptoms I was laid up worse than I was the first time around. Apparently, that was common in the outbreak in China but why wasn’t that communicated to us? Seems like a really good way for a pathogen to get passed on.

I’ve been completely symptom-free now for eight days and I’m second-guessing every little ache/pain I feel. It’s allergy season and I’m allergic to the cats in my apartment as well. You get to feel like COVID is just something that’s always going to be part of you, which I know is not true but the paranoia is real.

Another horrible part of this whole thing is worrying about all the people I’ve come into contact with. I’m terrified I passed it on to my wife but so far, she’s had no symptoms whatsoever. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that she’s part of that small percentage with some immunity because she spent practically a month locked in quarantine with a very infected person. Side note: she’s been incredible throughout this whole thing.

Any upside to this experience

There’s always a silver lining somewhere! I’m ecstatic that I’ll be able to help people in need recover. I’ve got an appointment at the New York Blood Center to donate my plasma for antibody treatment. I’m hoping after the double-tap from COVID I’ll have a strong antibody count and will be able to give support to somebody else fighting this asshole of a virus.

I’m glad that I got sick instead of any member of my staff or family. I mean, the buck stops with the owner, right? Rather than have my staff endangering themselves battening down the hatches of the bar when it was time to close up for quarantine, I did it. It’s completely unreasonable to put people in that position and I’m Exhibit A.

How has your recovery been?

Recovery has been full of trepidation. I’m just waiting for the other shoe to drop — again. Every little sniffle, every hint of a sore throat from allergies, every sore muscle from exercise makes me wonder if I’m about to get sick again. That shouldn’t be possible, but then again, I really don’t think we know anything close to the whole story on COVID-19.

What helped get you through the experience?

When you say you have COVID most people’s first question is, “how are your lungs?” What seems to be the most deadly aspect of the virus is people getting pneumonia and their lungs failing. There are breathing exercises that popped up all over the internet from doctors dealing with COVID patients in ICUs. I can’t stress doing them enough. Breathe deeply. Regularly. If you can do it in a hot shower with eucalyptus oil, even better. I took very long hot showers!

During the first round I tried not to take any fever reducers so my body could burn out the virus and we went pioneer-style and just used a cold washcloth on my forehead to try to give me some relief. But during the double tap when my fever was higher and the head and body aches were worse an important tool for me was inarguably NyQuil. NyQuil was my best friend. It allowed me to sleep and for the most part, I did wake up feeling better than I did the night before. I also drank water with electrolytes to help replenish what I lost from the fever sweats.

Any thoughts/concerns about the future of the bar?

I’ve always had a good relationship with the Parkside’s landlord. Hurricane Sandy really put us in a hole but we worked through that and I’m hopeful we’ll be able to do the same with this pandemic.

Our lives have all changed and the social environment we knew is probably permanently altered. Right now, we’re not even allowed to be open so there’s no money coming in to pay rent. When society does open up, I expect bars to be one of the last businesses the city allows to open their doors. I’m sure it will include capacity restrictions that will slowly get back to normal as the virus infection rates wane.

On top of that, the Parkside is a venue and I don’t see the city letting live music events happen for a long time. DJs, private parties, burlesque shows, live theater, film screenings — these are a huge part of the business model for not just the Parkside but also the entire nightlife industry in New York City. Even worse, and harder to anticipate is how society as a whole will adapt. Will people still want to go to bars at all?

I know landlords citywide are expecting their rent. It’s their business just like the nightlife is ours and at the end of the day, it’s about money. I’m cautiously optimistic that the Parkside will be able to find a way to keep being the Parkside by coming to an agreement with our landlord. We’ve all got to communicate and agree that the next few years will be completely different for our industry than the previous 10.

Downtown NYC has suffered for years because landlords have been getting tax breaks on their boarded-up businesses. Hopefully, this will be the impetus that is needed for City Hall to weigh in to discourage those tax breaks. Then we — and the neighborhood — will be in business.

Isabella debuts on St. Mark's Place, joins sibling David's Cafe next door for takeout and delivery

[Photos by Steven]

Isabella made its debut yesterday here at 110 St. Mark's Place between Avenue A and First Avenue... the Italian restaurant teamed up with its sibling next door, David's Cafe, to offer a limited menu, in which you can mix-n-match meals from the two...

Isabella’s menu includes bucatini and meatballs, carbonara and more...

The two will be open Wednesday-Sunday from 1 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. You can hit up the David's Cafe Instagram or website for more info and the menu.

Isabella is in the former Crooked Tree space, which closed in February 2019 after 20 years of serving up crêpes and other cafe fare.

19-23 St. Mark's Place sells for $34 million

[Photo via]

UBS Realty Investors is the new owner of 19-23 St. Mark's Place, the 8-story retail-residential complex between Second Avenue and Third Avenue.

Cape Advisors sold the property for $34 million, according to @TradedNY.

The building features 41 residential units, five retail spaces and a sidewalk bridge dating back at least five years.

[Photo yesterday by Steven]

Most recently, Teso Life, a Japanese variety store, signed a lease for the former St. Mark's Market, which closed here this past October after 16 years in business. A restaurant called CheLi is in the works for the upper retail level.

The address has a long history. As Off the Grid noted:

The buildings at 19-23 St. Mark’s Place are an excellent example of how the East Village has changed over time from a wealthy merchants neighborhood to a landing spot for immigrants, to the launch pad for numerous counterculture and artistic movements. Where else would one find a building which had been townhouses for wealthy families, a ballroom, a gangster hangout, a Polish wedding chapel, and a performance venue with the Velvet Underground as the house band?

In the early 2000s, a developer gutted the space, added a new façade as well as a few floors that look as if they blew in from the Hamptons. The developer also created the mall-friendly retail spaces, whose tenants have included a Chipotle and CBGB gift shop.

[EVG photo from 2008]

The building also features the $18,000-per-month unit, which Daniel Craig was said to be renting at one point.

Previously on EV Grieve:
St. Mark's Market is dead

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Wednesday's parting shot

Beatlemania on First Avenue via Derek Berg...


As seen along Sixth Street ... via Dave on 7th...

A moment of joy outside Mount Sinai Beth Israel

Text and photos by Daniel Efram

My apartment is across from one of the loading docks for the Mount Sinai Beth Israel complex on First Avenue.

Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, the sounds around here have been limited to sirens as well as nurses, doctors and health-care workers arriving for their shifts — not to mention the constant presence of hearses, which seem to come and go at all hours.

Yesterday, in one of my rare grocery outings, I heard a huge round of applause as I crossed First Avenue. Several dozen health-care workers had gathered outside of the hospital exit clapping and cheering as a patient who had successfully battled the virus was being released.

It was an unusually beautiful moment. It was tough to focus. I was crying.

Sharing was also deeply emotional. The first place I thought of posting my photos was with the Survivor Corps Facebook Group, which is dedicated to connecting and mobilizing survivors of COVID-19 as well as helping those who have lost loved ones. It's a very humbling place. I was pleased to share a moment of joy.

Checking in on C&B

Text and photos by Stacie Joy

You might have read about C&B Cafe chef-owner Ali Sahin’s fundraising efforts to buy a new oven for his cafe at 178 E. Seventh St. between Avenue A and Avenue B.

Ali is currently baking about 30 to 40 sourdough boule loaves each day that the restaurant is open. When the new oven arrives (it’s being transported here currently from Ohio) he’ll be able to make many more loaves daily, plus different varieties.

Work has already started to transform the back room into a bread-baking station, with workers updating the electrical panels when I arrive. Ali’s sold the tables and chairs that used to occupy the space to make room for the oven, a workbench and maybe a stand mixer. (Ali’s not sure about that yet well as the limited space.)

He looks crestfallen when he tells me that he might have to remove his much-loved turntable and record collection to create additional storage. Rumor has it he’s already gifted out some albums.

The yeasty, crusty yet airy breads are sold out each day, and they are available by preorder only. If you want the sourdough (and trust me, you want the bread) send Ali a direct message on Instagram or stop by to place an order.

He’s also baking in-house loaves for his to-go sandwiches, with a modified menu that includes his breakfast sammies (available with pork belly when in stock, chorizo or beef sausage when not, plus optional sliced avocado) and a grilled cheese.

Veselka announces Friday reopening

[Photo by Steven]

As we first noted on Monday, Veselka had plans to reopen soon at Ninth Street and Second Avenue. Soon now means Friday — signage is up announcing their reopening with takeout and delivery.

The circa-1954 Ukrainian diner will serve a limited number of Veselka "all-time favorites." Might be difficult to narrow that list down.

They'll open at noon on Friday. Moving forward, they'll be open from noon to 8 p.m. on weekdays, with a 10 a.m. start on weekends.

Veniero's, another longtime neighborhood favorite, also reopens Friday.

Ralph's Famous Italian Ices & Ice Cream makes it official on Avenue A

[Photos by Steven]

The coming soon signage for Ralph's Famous Italian Ices & Ice Cream has arrived at 145 Avenue A and Ninth Street...

As we noted on March 3, the expanding company has several new outposts planned this year, including in the East Village.

This business dates to 1928 when Ralph Silvestro started selling Italian ice (or water ice) from his truck around Staten Island. The first retail store opened in 1949 on Port Richmond Avenue in Staten Island. In recent years the company has franchised out, expanding to other parts of NYC as well as Long Island, New Jersey and Westchester County.

Ralph's takes over for Gelarto, which closed early last summer after a rocky two years selling gelato on the corner.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Tuesday's parting shot

Terms of service at Elsewhere Espresso:

No shirt
No shoes
No mask
No service

The coffee shop here on Sixth Street between First Avenue and Second Avenue reopened on Saturday. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Thanks to EVG reader Danielle for the photo!


A moment with Christo, the male red-tailed hawk of Tompkins Square Park, late this afternoon. Thanks to Steven for the photo...

Flying by

The U.S. Navy Blue Angels and the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds conducted a flyover today in recognition of front-line personnel during the COVID-19 crisis.

EVG reader Jeanne Krier took these top two photos...

And Vinny & O shared these shots...

... and Linda Fitzgerald shared this video clip... showing the jets flying south ...

Updated 7:30 p.m.

The Post reported on how people in the metropolitan area ignored social distancing to catch a glimpse of the airshow.

RIP Miguel Grande, the Pasta King at Supper

Miguel Grande, known as the Pasta King at Supper on Second Street, died from COVID-19-related complications this past Friday at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens.

According to the @supper156 account: "He was like a FATHER @suppernyc. He taught everyone how to make pasta. He was always smiling. He was a great person. He was a hard working man and absolutely GREAT FATHER ..."

Grande, who was born in 1968, is survived by his wife, Maribel Luna, and four daughters — Guadalupe, Erika, Yulisa and Emely.

The Supper family, which includes Lil' Frankie's and Frank, has established a fund for Grande's wife and children. You can find that link here.

Per the GoFundMe campaign:

For those of us who have had the pleasure of working with him, no words can encompass how much we will miss him and his smile. Rarely will you meet a man with such dedication and skill and strong work ethics and kindness.

For those of you who have eaten our handmade fresh pastas for the last 19 years, most likely Miguel made them and you had a dish made with love and honesty.

Veniero's reopens Friday

Veniero's Pasticceria & Caffe is reopening on Friday here on 11th Street between First Avenue and Second Avenue.

The owners of the 126-year-old Italian bakery made the announcement via Instagram yesterday:

We are all in need of support right now. Moms for Mother’s Day, our workers out on the frontline, family’s and friends celebrating birthdays and more. This is why we have decided to reopen our doors May 1.

They will be selling items for takeout, delivery and curbside pickup. (You can order ahead via their website.)

Veniero's closed after service on March 28 amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

If you're feeling the need for speed: Thunderbirds, Blue Angels will be flying over NYC today

The U.S. Navy Blue Angels and the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds will be doing a flyover today in NYC in recognition of front-line personnel during the COVID-19 crisis.

The 12-plane formation features six USAF F-16 Fighting Falcons of the Thunderbirds and six U.S. Navy F/A-18 Hornets, per the news release.

This first in a series of flyovers for the northeast, which includes Philadelphia and Trenton, will start at noon here, and last some 40 minutes. (The above map shows you the route, which looks like East Village residents will have a few opportunities to see — or hear — this.)

Also from the release: "Residents along the flight path can expect a few seconds of jet noise as the aircraft pass overhead, along with the sight of 12 high-performance aircraft flying close in precise formation."

You can prep for today by watching this 1986 Van Hagar chestnut...

Headline helper.

Reader appreciation: Feast

Via the EVG inbox...

Feast has been open throughout the crisis to provide the neighborhood with amazing cocktails and take-out items. The husband and wife team are so friendly and welcoming at the window. The restaurant is also working hard providing meals to hospital staff and frontline workers.

Feast is at 102 Third Ave. between 12th Street and 13th Street. They are open Tuesday through Sunday from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Want to share an appreciation of an essential East Village business that remains open during the COVID-19 crisis? Send us an email here. (Thank you for the suggestions!)

Previously on EV Grieve:
Reader appreciation: Le Fournil Bakery

Reader appreciation: Abraço

Reader appreciation: Post

Reader appreciation: Zaragoza Mexican Deli & Grocery

Reader appreciation: Barnyard Cheese Shop

Reader appreciation: Good Beer

Reader appreciation: Mamoum's Falafel

Monday, April 27, 2020

Petal power

A flower shower this afternoon here at the Seventh Street entrance to Tompkins Park between Avenue A and Avenue B...

... courtesy of the Kwanzan Cherry tree ...

Video: Man chases after Citi Bikers on 2nd Avenue for not wearing masks

There has been a lot of debate over wearing masks in public.

Gov. Cuomo issued an executive order, which went into effect at 8 p.m. on April 17, stating that every New Yorker must "wear a mask or a face covering when out in public and in situations where social distancing cannot be maintained, such as on public transportation."

Not everyone is adhering to this, of course (Gothamist has more about it in this post) ... which has prompted COVID-19 Urban Etiquette Signs like this one. We've heard about some public shaming incidents in which mask-wearing residents will scold people without masks.

Meanwhile, one man took the mask policing to a rather dangerous level on Saturday afternoon on Second Avenue. In the short clip below posted to Twitter via @fashionweak, the man can be heard yelling "Where is your mask?" as he lunges at Citi Bikers riding outside the bike lane between Ninth Street and 10th Street. The bikers swerve and speed up to avoid the man. (Thankfully there wasn't any vehicular traffic at this time.) He appears to be filming these encounters as well ...

According to @fashionweak, the man was stationed on Second Avenue for nearly five minutes yelling at various bikers who weren't wearing masks. He moved on after an argument with a passerby, who apparently called the NYPD.

Amelia and Christo's 2020 chicks make first appearance

As Goggla has been reporting, it appears that red-tailed hawks Amelia and Christo in Tompkins Square Park have several hatchlings in their nest.

On Saturday, Steven got a few photos showing one of the chicks...

... with the sighting of a second a little later...

...right there...

Perhaps there might even be a third chick?

We need some positive hawklet news this spring and summer. In the past two years, Amelia and Christo have lost three of their four offspring.