Thursday, September 24, 2020

Thursdays parting shot

Photographer Ed Yoo captured this moment last evening on First Avenue at Seventh Street...

Breonna Taylor

Protests broke out around the city — and elsewhere in the country — yesterday after the news that none of the three officers involved in Breonna Taylor's death were charged with her killing. 

A Kentucky grand jury charged Officer Brett Hankison with three counts of wanton endangerment for firing into Taylor's neighbors' homes during the raid on the night of March 13. 

One of the NYC protests — a group estimated to number in the thousands — traveled down Second Avenue from 14th Street before turning west on Third Street to Broadway. 

EVG contributor Stacie joy shared this video clip from Second Avenue around 10:30 p.m. ... as the protestors chanted "Breonna Taylor — say her name" ...

"I was surprised by just how many people were there, and also by the astounding police presence," Stacie said. "I haven't seen that many police vehicles mobilizing for a protest in a long time. My entire time at the protest was orderly and peaceful." 

There were no reports of arrests related to the protests citywide, per published reports.

Cults classic: East Village-based duo on the release of their fourth record Host

Cults, the celebrated indie-pop duo of Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion, have just released their fourth record, the enchanting Host. In case you didn't know this, Madeline and Brian both live in the East Village. Madeline answered a few questions for EVG the other day about Host and her East Village home since age 8.

You both live in the East Village. You spent time in Arizona while working on Host. So how do your surroundings influence the songwriting-creative process? Does it make a difference where you are? 

I think there are pros and cons for both recording at home and leaving town. When we're at home it's a bit harder to tune out the distractions and we get a little looser with our working schedule, which can be a good thing because we have the time to sit with what we've worked on.

We went to Arizona because we don't know anyone there and we just wanted to fully immerse ourselves in the record and be able to work round the clock which we can't really do in our East Village apartments. 

You've spent a lot of time on the road supporting your previous records. Given how much time you can be away, does the East Village feel like home to you?

It does feel like home! My mom and stepdad moved to the East Village when I was around 8 so it has always been home. Brian has lived here for about 12 years. 

With the COVID-19 crisis, what have you had to differently leading up to the release of Host?

Everything has been different! We had to find different ways to make videos and do our photos. We did a lot of things creatively that I'm not sure we would have done pre-pandemic. We probably wouldn't have done a "mukbang" video [see "Spit You Out" below] or agreed to having someone direct a video from our respective homes but our friends have helped us make some really cool stuff. Also, not touring the record is very different.

Four records in now, starting with 2011's self-titled release, do you feel as if you have a good assessment of the band's evolution?

I guess our evolution has been about slowly broadening the influences we allow into our songwriting. In the beginning it was very kind of early 60s and that was it!

Each album it feels like we’ve moved up a decade or so, letting the light in a little. This next album I guess we'll have finally caught up with ourselves. What a scary thought.

Speaking of a new record: You've said that you usually start on one after a tour wraps up. Without touring on the horizon, how might this impact record No. 5? 

We are hopefully going to start writing the next record the day after Host is released!
You can catch a livestream of Cults on Oct. 1 from (Le) Poisson Rouge. Find the details here.

Save the date: Help clean up Tompkins Square Park on Oct. 10

Johnathan Young, the head gardener in Tompkins Square Park, along with longtime EV resident Penny Rand, are organizing a cleanup day on Saturday, Oct. 10. 

Here are more details via an email from Young:
As many of you know, the city and the Parks Dept. have had massive budget cuts. Recently I have been assigned to work many other locations, leaving Tompkins vulnerable to trash and weeds.

So with that being said, we are hoping to gather as many folks as we can for Saturday, Oct. 10. We will meet at the main office in Tompkins at 11 a.m., have some coffee and donuts, and then concentrate on areas of the park together. Bring a mask and gloves. Feel free to bring any gardening supplies you prefer —otherwise we will have tools and such.
H/T Steven! 

Eliza's Local has closed on St. Mark's Place

Eliza's Local has closed at 2 St. Mark's Place just east of Third Avenue.

An all-too-familiar set of circumstances are behind the bar-restaurant's closure: "Unfortunately, we had no choice with the current situation, our landlord and no inside dining," a rep told us.

Eliza's had been open in the early days of spring, selling beer to go (and giving away bread). They later had some expanded outdoor dining space with the closure of St. Mark's Place on weekends for Street Feast. Still, it wasn't nearly enough volume to overcome the drop-off in business.

The bar, which opened in December 2018, was named for Elizabeth Hamilton (aka "Eliza") co-founder and deputy director of the first private orphanage in New York City. She was the wife of Alexander Hamilton. She lived next door at 4 St. Mark's Place in what was later known as the Hamilton-Holly House.

This space adjacent to the entry of the St. Marks Hotel was previously Ayios Greek Rotisserie, which quietly closed at the end of 2017 after 16 months in business. St. Mark's Ale House had a 21-year run until July 2016. And once upon a time it was the second location of the Five Spot Cafe.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

More tributes to RBG

EVG regular Lola Sáenz shared these tributes to the late Supreme Court Justice... as seen at the Modern Love Club on First Avenue between Ninth Street and 10th Street (above) ... and on the Bowery...

Comedy Club owners get serious about plans to allow them to reopen

In case you were wondering about all the media activity outside the New York Comedy Club on Fourth Street yesterday (thanks Derek Berg for the photo!).

Comedy club owners as well as comedians and assorted elected officials gathered here between Second Avenue and the Bowery to ask the state to let them safely reopen.

Organizer Kambri Crews, the owner of venue Q.E.D. Astoria, had this to say, as reported by Gothamist: "We are holding this rally to ask New York state to give live entertainment the same consideration they've given other industries... For over six months, there's been no rent relief and no plan for us to reopen. New Yorkers can go indoors to the gym, bowling, go gambling in casinos, [but not] a comedy club — it makes no sense."

Their request of Gov. Cuomo: Allow for venues to be able to allow ticketed outdoor live performances (with fewer than 50 people), and either allow clubs to resume indoor shows at 25 percent capacity (similar to restaurants) or at 50 percent but without food and beverage services (similar to bowling alleys).

A Cuomo spokesperson told Gothamist that they hope "to put together guidance where these performances can resume in a way that also keeps New Yorkers safe."

Vulture has more coverage here.

You can read the New York Comedy Coalition's reopening proposal at this link (Google doc!).

A visit with Urban Russian Doll NYC

Text and photos by Stacie Joy

Over the past few months I’d been watching with interest as artist Urban Russian Doll NYC created her large murals around the neighborhood. 

I first noticed her dog portraiture (with one pastel calico kitty in the corner) piece outside Dream Come True K9 on Houston and Attorney, which features a cameo of her own pup. Then I spotted her and Lecrue Eyebrows doing a shared piece on the wall outside of Parkside Lounge, and more recently, a composition as part of East Village Walls on Second Street near First Avenue.
After a day spent painting, I toured the completed works with the artist as she answered some questions about her name, her tag, and why she loves the neighborhood.

You go by the name Urban Russian Doll NYC — why did you choose that as your non de plume?

Though my parents are originally from Ukraine and have multiple ethnicities within them, they moved to Moscow before I was born. At the time, Ukraine and Russia were still considered USSR.

My parents are former musicians, and my sister and I grew up listening to every kind of music, except for rock and metal. When I was about 15, I enjoyed Russian rap and hip hop. Usually their music videos were filmed in an urban setting with old buildings full of graffiti in the background. 

Even the word, “urban,” which sounds very similar in Russian, was used frequently by Russian hip hop artists. When I decided to become a street artist, I had to choose a name for myself. I was talking to my friend about it and she said, “Why don’t you name yourself Russian Doll?”

I immediately added “Urban” to Russian Doll and it just felt right and organic. The Russian doll is the most popular souvenir that represents the authentic tradition, femininity and beauty of a Russian woman. It is a kind of nesting doll and can have many different dolls inside. To me, they represent layers of a person. Depth is good. Layers are good. Everything about that souvenir is wonderful, so why not?
How did you get involved in the East Village Walls project? Why choose the East Village and Lower East Side as the site of your street art murals?

Right before COVID-19 hit the city, I went to an art show curated by fl00d at 198 Allen St. That day, I met Kristy Calabro, who introduced me to Manny, owner of the Doggy-Sitters Club, Lecrue Eyebrows, Token, who curated the event, and other amazing artists. I became friends with many of them. 

Manny and I had a lot of conversations throughout quarantine, and I shared with him that my dream was to paint a wall by myself. When the BLM protests began, I was painting on plywood in Soho. Manny hit me up and asked if @art_by_eyebrows and I wanted to paint for East Village Walls

He said they were seeking artists immediately and, of course, we said yes. Then, I met Ben, an art lover who curates East Village Walls and started my work on the wall on First Avenue and Second Street, which was also my first solo wall work. After that, I just could not leave the East Village. Because to me it’s like the soul of NYC. And I’m in love with NYC.

What has the experience of working in the neighborhood been like? How do the locals react to your work?

After painting a couple of murals around the neighborhood, I want to say that streets are streets. They teach you where to be careful and where to relax. I had different, but mostly great experiences painting in the neighborhood. I learned not only about the wall painting flow, but also that once the neighbors get to know you, they become your family. 

Once, when my mural was defaced, I felt like someone just did me a favor — because I’ve never felt as much support as I felt the day when I was fixing it. The mural is about unity. And it proved my point. Because people care and unite and they were uniting for me. 
Your tagline is “Why wait? Love now.” How did that come about and how is it reflected in your work?

Through the message “Why Wait? Love Now,” my art represents the transition from vulnerability to strength — a quality that all brave souls possess. As we emotionally evolve, we expose ourselves to diverse levels of emotional transcendence and open up to engagements with others, which is a courageous and an extremely vital thing to do. 

This allows us to take risks that lead us to meaningful experiences of love, joy, and happiness through others and ourselves. Having gone through emotionally abusive relationships, I was able to preserve my formula of happiness, and my art is a visual expression of that formula. 

“Why Wait? Love Now” is a whole movement I created to support people on their journey towards joy that’s immune to all externalities, in a whole-hearted way. I invite people to rid themselves of fear and let themselves love

It is also about healing invisible pain and soothing hurtful scars through accepting love, strength of soul, and building self-resilience. It’s about every kind of love, just like my art.
You can keep up with the artist here.

Renovations underway on the new Foxface Commissary on Avenue A

In some positive-for-a-change local restaurant news, the owners of Foxface recently started renovations at their new storefront at 189 Avenue A between 11th Street and 12th Street.

East Village residents Ori Kushnir and Sivan Lahat, who opened the hit sandwich shop at Theatre 80 on St. Mark's Place in late 2018, will keep that outpost. 

At 189 Avenue A, they're planning on Foxface Provisions — a smokehouse, tasting room and preservation commissary. (Read more about it here.)

During the start of the renovations, Kushnir reported finding some remains of a previous tenant — Vampire Freaks (RIP 2012)! 

Most recently, 189 Avenue A was home to Harry & Ida's Meat and Supply Co.

SLA temporary suspends the liquor license at Black Emperor

Gov. Cuomo recently announced that the liquor licenses of 33 more NY State bars and restaurants have been temporarily suspended for what he has termed "egregious violations of coronavirus-related regulations."

Of those 33, one was in the East Village —Black Emperor at 197 Second Ave. between 12th Street and 13th Street.

Here's what the SLA said in its statement:

On August 31, investigators with the state's multi-agency task force observed in excess of eight patrons standing, drinking and congregating in front of the licensed premises. Inside, investigators observed three patrons sitting and drinking at the bar and one patron standing inside with a drink in his hand, all in flagrant violation of the Governor's Executive Order in place since March 16, 2020.

Updated 11 a.m.: Several readers have noted that Black Emperor had previously announced plans to temporarily close the bar after service on Aug. 31. 

Meanwhile, two other East Village bars-restaurants that had their licenses suspended by the SLA last month are back in service.

Maiden Lane on 10th Street and Avenue B resumed service with alcohol and expanded food offerings on Sept. 10. (They did reopen after their license was suspended in early August for food orders and a non-alcoholic drink menu.)

The Hairy Lemon, 28-30 Avenue B between Second Street and Third Street, also had its license reinstated after nearly six weeks of closure. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Tuesday's parting shots

From Houston and Clinton...
As EVG contributor Stacie Joy notes, more clear evidence of our well-deserved anarchist jurisdiction designation...

Shoegazing: The life aquatic on 13th Street

Artist Billy Barnacles has been hanging these creative aquatic-themed pieces of art around the city... there are several hanging in the East Village, including here on 13th Street just east of Avenue A...

This map will show you will you can discover other barnacles.

Construction watch: 139 E. Houston St.

Let's take a look through the Blogger Portals here on the plywood along East Houston between Eldridge and Forsyth ... where a 9-story building has been in the works ... so far, workers are still in the foundation stage, putting in the steel beams for support...

East End Capital and K Property Group, who bought the property for $31.5 million in the spring of 2017, are putting in the office complex with retail space. The links below have more details on what has transpired and what's to come.

The plywood rendering still lists Summer 2021 for the completion... safe to say they won't be meeting that previous goal...

Caffe Béne now selling South Asian-inspired groceries and snacks

Rish Sheth, the owner of Caffe Béne, recently expanded his business here on Avenue A at 13th Street  ... adding a line of authentic and South Asian-inspired groceries and snacks, from bags of Masala Munch to boxes of Parle-G biscuits, alongside Caffe Béne's usual fare...

EVG regular shared Lola Sáenz shared these photos...

He named this new part of the business Jaleby, which also has an online presence for deliveries here.

Many NYC restaurants have added to their existing services, offering meal kits and establishing pantries to help boost revenue during the pandemic downturn...

47 St. Mark's Place is for sale for the first time in 50 years

This five-story building at 47 St. Mark's Place recently arrived on the rental market. As the Times noted last week, the property on the great block between First Avenue and Second Avenue last changed hands 50 years ago.

The property consists "of 6 one-bedroom and 2 two-bedroom apartments. The property is built 25 feet by 63 feet and sits on a 25 foot by 93.92 foot lot with approximately 7,990 gross square feet. The property is zoned R8B allowing for approximately 1,409 gross square feet of available air rights.
The asking price: $6.5 million.

Has Saxon + Parole closed?

Several readers have asked about the status of Saxon + Parole on the high-profile Bleecker-Bowery corner. The restaurant is one of many in the neighborhood that has remained dark since since the PAUSE went into effect in March.

The self-described "equestrian-themed American eatery" has not been open for six months ... ditto for its mezcal bar Ghost Donkey next door... 

Saxon + Parole reps have not responded to multiple requests for information on its status. OpenTable lists S+P as permanently closed. 

The space was looking more abandoned as the summer progressed — the plants on the sidewalk cafe space dried up and were eventually discarded... the storefront has been tagged several times in recent weeks (the top photo is from Sunday) ...

In more positive news for the company, AvroKO Hospitality Group, the Saxon + Parole outpost opened earlier this month in Auckland, New Zealand. 

A pop-up message on the S+P website suggests the Bowery location may return again some day:
And with one dream coming to fruition, another one comes to a pause. Our NYC locations of Ghost Donkey, The Poni Room and Saxon + Parole are temporarily closed due to COVID-19. It has been a pleasure serving you, and we hope to do so again soon.

S+P opened here in September 2011, replacing the company's Double Crown restaurant. 

Monday, September 21, 2020

Monday's parting shot

A shot of the moon in its Waxing Crescent Phase (look to the lower right!) via @tweakz229 ...

2-plus minutes of Pandemic

Pandemic is one of the local bands on the regular circuit in Tompkins Square Park in recent months... EVG contributor Stacie Joy shared this clip from yesterday of the band, whose members are Luis Ayala, Papote Jimenez, Carlos Acevedo and Zoilapianista. 

The band plays every Tuesday and Sunday at 5 p.m. in Tompkins.

'Project Stun' at the F stop on 2nd Avenue

In case you haven't been by the Second Avenue F stop at Houston... FL00D and Stänzi have collaborated to create "Project Stun," described as "a hybrid street art and animated experience," on view (and digitally here) through September.

Via the EVG inbox:
Paying homage to local culture and creativity from decades past, "Project Stun" emits hope upon the streets of New York City. These words hold power — letter by letter, chaotic expression seeps through in philosophies of NYHC, iconic musical influences (Bad Brains, CBGB) and signature motifs from the creators' archives.

Native Bean wraps up 20 years on Avenue A

Text and photos by Stacie Joy

I sat down with Ali Aljerari, partner in the Native Bean at 36 Avenue A (previously located at 50 Avenue A) to talk about why, after more than 20 years, his cafe has closed as of this past weekend.

"The problem," Ali says, "is I cannot pay rent. The landlord is asking for rent and the city is charging the landlord real-estate taxes, which go up every year. I need to pay rent, of course, and we are receiving no help from the city or state. No one is getting assistance from the government. We cannot survive the elements and adversities now — it's too overwhelming. Too big. We navigated 9/11, we navigated storms and disasters. We are waiting…but there is no help. The government should give landlords tax breaks — that would help.

"There is hostility from the city to us, the small businesses," he continues. "We are just a source of revenue to them and we are subject to harsh treatment. Every time an investigator comes it's a couple thousand dollars. Agencies just write tickets and charges. Small businesses are the heart of the city but we have no voice. I wish the city were kinder." 

[Aljerjari with manager Mahammad Fofana]

I asked him how, if at all, the neighborhood — he’s also a long-term resident here — could help.

"The most beautiful people in the world are in the East Village. This neighborhood has the sweetness and beauty, it surpasses anything I had in my mind," he says. "People here are a treasure. I grew up in the neighborhood, and it made me who I am today. It is I who owes this neighborhood; they don’t owe me anything."

Ali doesn't rule out opening another business in the future, when COVID-19 subsides.

La Mia Pizza debuts on 4th Avenue

La Mia Pizza is now open here on Fourth Avenue between 12th Street and 13th Street for takeout, delivery and limited sidewalk seating ... as previously noted, this is an outpost of La Mia Pizza on First Avenue in Yorkville.

Check out their menu, which includes calzones, salads and wings, right here.

Pie by the Pound closed here in July 2019 after 17 years in business. A regular told us at the time that the lease was up, and the owner wanted to pursue other opportunities.

The Dolar Shop bringing hot pot to 3rd Avenue and 11th Street

The Dolar Shop, a global hot pot chain with 50-plus locations, is opening an outpost on the southeast coast of Third Avenue and 11th Street... this will be the second NYC location for the Dolar Shop, joining the one out in Flushing.

This space was previously Wagamama, the London-based chain serving Japanese-inspired cuisine. Wagamama lasted 18 months before fizzling out in April 2019.

Thanks to Vinny & O for the photo and tip!

Closings: Brazen Fox, the Nugget Spot, Hu Kitchen, Mancora and Apna Masala

• Brazen Fox, 106 Third Ave. at 13th St.

The two-level bar-restaurant abruptly shuttered last week. They had been open for takeout and curbside service. A rep confirmed the closure.

This outpost of the  White Plains-based Brazen Fox opened in the fall of 2013.

• The Nugget Spot, 230 E. 14th St. between Second Avenue and Third Avenue.

Ownership recently announced a closure, though they did leave the door open for a return in an Instagram message:
"It's with a heavy heart that we announce the permanent closure of our 14th Street location. For 7 years we called this home, making friends from all over the world that share the same love for NUGS. We're not throwing in the towel just yet, but in order for us to return in the future we have to take these necessary actions now. "
The Nugget spot, which opened here in October 2013, had been in service for takeout and delivery for part of the summer.

• Hu Kitchen, 78 Fifth Ave. between 13th Street and 14th Street.

A for-rent sign now hangs in the front window of the quick-serve, health-focused restaurant that served made-to-order breakfast, lunch and dinner dishes and well as fresh-pressed juices and other grocery items. (H/T ADJG!) This location opened in October 2012. Their online operation is still in business.

• Mancora and Apna Masala, 97 First Ave. at Sixth Street.

Mancora, which served Peruvian cuisine, moved here from across Sixth Street in June 2017. Both Mancora and Apna, which shared part of the space, have been closed since the March PAUSE. OpenTable list both restaurants as closed.

And a reader recently spotted what was believed to be equipment from Mancora discarded on Avenue A and Sixth Street...

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Week in Grieview

[Yesterday in Tompkins Square Park via Derek Berg

Posts this past week included...

• Jules Bistro will not be reopening on St. Mark's Place (Thursday

• After 46 years, the Ukrainian Sports Club has left the East Village (Wednesday

• Final public hearing on a larger 3 St. Mark's Place coming soon (Tuesday

• Farewells: Funny Face Bakery has outgrown its East Village space (Monday

• Funny fundraising business for the Sixth Street Community Center (Tuesday

• The original Coyote Ugly outpost closes; new location expected on 14th Street (Tuesday) Is this the news CU home? (Wednesday

• Pop's Eat-Rite debuts on St. Mark's Place (Wednesday

• These local streets will now be open during the week for dining (Thursday

• College Food Pantry now being offered at the Trinity Lower East Side Lutheran Parish (Wednesday)

• St. Brigid is hosting a flea market on Saturdays (Saturday

• This week's NY See panel (Thursday

• Baby Kong arrives at the 6th Street and Avenue B Community Garden (Friday

• The Merchant’s House Museum reopen to visitors (Friday

• Construction watch: 24 1st Ave./101 2nd St. (Friday

• Got milk? (Wednesday

• Reaching the top at Zero Irving (Tuesday

• Saramsam is a new Filipino restaurant from Ravi DeRossi on 7th Street (Monday

• Say a prayer! Today's special guest at the Tompkins Square Park dog run (Monday

• Has Spiegel closed? (Friday

• Another day, another discarded microwave with a note (Tuesday

• Jewels is the new tenant for the former Ben & Jerry's space on St. Mark's Place (Wedensday)

• Elsewhere in NYC: Pearl Diner reopens for curbside dining (Friday

• It's full, wrapped in plastic: A Big Belly on B needs emptied out (Monday

• Report: Cloister Cafe granted temporary restraining order to reopen (Monday)

... and we're officially on Pumpkin Watch... as seen at Westside Market on Third Avenue at 12th Street...

Follow EVG on Instragram or Twitter for more frequent updates and pics.