Sunday, October 25, 2020

A return to the Avenue B flea

Yesterday afternoon saw another Avenue B Flea between 10th Street and 13th Street (revisit the one from Oct. 10 here) ... the stoop sale was organized to support the neighborhood, independent vendors and local artists. 

EVG contributor Stacie Joy was again documented the shoppers and sellers along the Avenue...

Report: Astor Place Hairstylists will close next month after 73 years in business

Astor Place Hairstylists is the latest NYC institution to fall victim to the economic hardships brought on by COVID-19.

The subterranean shop, founded in 1947, will close before Thanksgiving, according to manager Michael "Big Mike" Saviello, who told the Post their that business is down by 90 percent.

They reopened in June, but the customers didn't return. 

Said Saviello: "Maybe we’ll come back when the city comes back, but right now it's not feasible." 

In 2018, Nicolas Heller, a filmmaker (aka New York Nico),  released "Big Mike Takes Lunch,” a documentary that captures a day in the life of the longtime manager. (Read my interview with Heller here. The link also includes an embed of the 12-minute film.)

Heller addressed the pending closure on his Instagram account ... urging his 466,000 followers to pay a visit...
Maybe I was being naive, but I never saw such an iconic NYC institution ever closing. I figured it was too loved by the community to ever shut down. But because of the pandemic, there are no customers and they can’t afford the astronomical rent. 

I’ve been told they definitely plan on closing for good UNLESS there is a “miracle.” I’m not sure what that means, but for your sake, I couldn’t encourage you more to stop by and get your haircut, and find your new barber. @astorplacehairstylists is so much more than just a barbershop, it’s a museum, it’s the epitome of NYC...

 And Astor Place Hairstylists addressed the outpouring of support in this Instagram post...

Photo from 2011 by Karen Gehres, who directed the film "Astor Barber All Stars."

Week in Grieview

Posts from this past week include...  (and photo from St. Mark's Place yesterday is by Derek Berg)

• Another mission to feed those in need in the neighborhood (Tuesday

• A farewell parade through the East Village for Jack Finelli (Monday)

• Documenting 166 Avenue A through the years (Thursday

• Delphine le Goff on her East Village storefront art and love of the neighborhood (Friday

• This is the new building slated for the corner of 6th Street and Avenue C (Monday

• Lucy's is back open on Avenue A (Wednesday

• Los Tacos NYC debuts on 7th Street (Friday

• About the Mask-Querade event on 7th Street Halloween afternoon (Wednesday

• This week's NY See (Thursday

• Post-PAUSE status check (Thursday)

• Report: Locals fear the 'crumbling' former P.S. 64 (Tuesday

• Openings: All The King's Horses Cafe on 12th Street (Thursday

• Popeyes now open on 1st Avenue (Monday

• The UPS Store delivers a grand opening on 1st Avenue (Friday

• Teso Life signage arrives on St. Mark's Place; T-swirl Crêpe makes an EV return (Wednesday

• 2 new floors for 21-23 Avenue B (Wednesday

• Former Hotel Tortuga space now slinging 99-cent slices on 14th Street (Tuesday

• Glaze Teriyaki Grill closes on 4th Avenue (Monday

• A full reveal at 202 Avenue A (Monday)

... and after a year up on the northwest corner of Avenue A and Third Street, workers have removed the sidewalk bridge, bringing back into view the retail tenants along here: Exit 9 Gift Emporium, Essex Card Shop, Downtown Yarns, Galleria J. Antonio and Bin 141...
Follow EVG on Instragram or Twitter for more frequent updates and pics.

The holiday lights are already up along 14th Street

You may have noticed that the holiday lights have already arrived on 14th Street at First Avenue ... all the way west to around Union Square... this is the earliet that we can recall seeing them by about three weeks... perhaps in a bid to just hurry us through the rest of 2020...
Previously on EV Grieve: • Holiday lights make you momentarily forget how horrible the intersection of 14th and 1st is

Full-on fall

A fall scene in Tompkins Square Park this morning via Steven...

Saturday, October 24, 2020

EVG Etc.: The Strand says its cash reserves are depleted, issues plea for business

• An SOS from the Strand (Gothamist ... Deadline) The plea from owner Nancy Bass Wyden resurfaced recent articles (here and here, for instance) about her continued investment in Amazon... and growing rift with her staff.

• Manhattan's median asking rent fell below $3,000 — to $2,990 — for the first time since 2011 (Streeteasy)

• The East Village is well-represented in this listicle of the city's best Vietnamese restaurants (Eater)

• Catching up with the Mosaic Man (B&B)

• Video shows a male Karen — aka "Daren" — being aggressive on Astor Place after refusing to wear a mask (The Daily Dot)

• East Village teen arrested while live-streaming his climb of the Queensboro Bridge (Queens Daily Eagle ... Gothamist)

• Pinc Louds full-band show on Astor Place TONIGHT (Instagram)

• Penny Arcade stages her new mixed-media performance, "Notes from the Underground," on Friday, Oct. 30 at Pangea on Second Avenue. Find the livestream info here.

Random photo from yesterday at Second Avenue and Sixth Street

The early voting period starts TODAY!

Starting TODAY (Saturday!), polls in New York City will be open through Nov. 1 for early voting. Officials have said that voters will find plexiglass dividers, hand sanitizer and social distancing at polling locations.

Visit the Board of Elections website to find your location and the hours, which vary by day.

Meanwhile, you may request an absentee ballot until Oct. 27 via this link. Your absentee ballot must be postmarked by Nov. 3 (2020!), and received no later than Nov. 10 (2020!). 

Photo in Tompkins Square Park yesterday by Steven

Updated 5 p.m.
Some readers reported two- to-three-hour waits at Campos on 13th Street... lines stretched around Campos and back to Avenue B... and down to 12th Street... down 12th Street to C ... Line photo via Steven

So long to the tower crane at the tech hub

That's all for the tower crane that has been part of our 14th Street skyline this past year... workers are now removing the structure at 124 E. 14th St., aka Zero Irving (and formerly the Union Square Tech Training Center and 14 @ Irving ... and tech hub 4ever!) 

The project's superstructure contractor started removing the tower crane earlier this week. The full dismantling is happening today (Saturday!).

Expect a full day of activity (bring a picnic!) with partial lane closures on 14th Street. Here's a look at the activity as of 8:35 a.m. ...
Workers recently reached the top of the 21-23 story building here at Irving Place.

And the usual summation...

Zero Irving, developed jointly by the city’s Economic Development Corp. and RAL Development Services, will feature 14 floors of market-rate office space as well as "a technology training center and incubator, co-working spaces and state-of-the-art event space ... on the seven floors beneath," per the Zero Irving announcement issued last October. Food-hall specialists Urban­Space officially signed the lease for 10,000 square feet on the ground level last month.

The new building — long contested by local preservationists and community groups — sits on the former site of a P.C. Richard & Son on city-owned property.

Last weekend for Black & White on 10th Street

Black & White wraps up its 20 years at 86 E. 10th St. between Third Avenue and Fourth Avenue tomorrow (Sunday). 

As previously reported, management (Johnny T of Niagara and Bowery Electric is an owner) says they will eventually relocate. Per an Instagram post from September: 
Hey everyone, we’re moving locations... so come get your last drinks here while you can and we’ll see you in our new location in 2021! 

The bar is open today and tomorrow from 4-11 p.m. 

Friday, October 23, 2020

Friday's parting shot

The free mask promo via Borat's crotch today on Houston and the Bowery ... photo by Derek Berg...

Sweetness and light

East Village-based Cults released a video (described as "like stepping into a too-sweet, too-pink Candy Land") this week for "A Low," another single from their recently released record Host

Lick it up

As seen on Sixth Street... celebrating Halloween and avoiding speed cameras!

Delphine le Goff on her East Village storefront art and love of the neighborhood

Back on Oct. 1, I featured the whimsical storefront illustrations that local artist-designer Delphine le Goff created during the height of the pandemic this past spring. I followed up with her to learn more about her inspiration and feelings about the neighborhood... photos by Stacie Joy...

What initially inspired you to create illustrations East Village storefronts this past spring? 

As many of us, I became jobless. I normally work in visual merchandising and do store installs and windows so it's not something I can do from home. 

I am super bad with computers — I don't even own one! So, when I want to share window design ideas with a client, I do a little sketch. Being without my professional activity during lockdown, on a rainy day, I sketched my apartment. I posted it on social media. People reacted very well. 

So I asked my friends to send me a picture of their favorite wall. It's how it started. 

Then, I got sick of sketching interiors. So, during my long walks in the deserted streets, I took pictures of the buildings — the storefronts with the gate closed. It was sad but beautiful at the same time. I started to sketch the buildings. 

Then, when businesses started to slowly reopen, my friend Meagan from East Village Vintage Collective talked about me on an East Village Independent Merchants Association call. She told on a Zoom meeting that I will sketch the businesses in exchange of being tagged on social media and if they wanted to buy it or trade I was cool with it. It's how it started! 

It was so amazing to see that people were excited about it, liked my drawings and that made them happy! It was warmth for the heart. On both parts. 

Is there something in particular about a storefront that might catch your eye? 

First of, I love this neighborhood. It's a community here. I am a EV resident for six years now. And it's like Montmartre in Paris where I used to live. Everybody knows more than less of each other. I think it's more a sentimental thing than an esthetical thing. 

Plus, as a European, I love those brick buildings with the fire escape on the facade. (Dream comes true, I live in one of those buildings.) So, I would say, the sentimental aspect. And when you take the time to look at thise buildings, you discover that the window frames are sometimes different from one floor to another. 

I also observed more of the beauty of the buildings walking in empty streets, or making line in front of a store. We are used to be so fast all the time here. I take pictures of buildings and things I want to sketch. I became obsessed with trash cans lately. I started a series. It's called Trash in the City. Making something ugly into something pretty. I like that. 

What places and people — past or present — have inspired you? 

I don't want to sound like a cliché, but I would say family and friends. My parents did something super awesome — they are in France and I miss them. When I became jobless, I was very cautious about my expenses. I wanted and needed markers to sketch. Those art markers are expensive. There was this box of 72 for almost $200! My parents sent me money on PayPal so I could buy them. 

My brothers have been supportive too. My best friend, who has a corporate job and never stopped working, offered me markers too. It was great help! And it pushed me to draw even more! 

And my EV tribe! I would not have made it without them. We all have looked at each other during this tough time. 
Your Instagram posts are refreshingly upbeat during such a challenging time. How do you manage to stay focused on the positive? 
I am glad you are asking this. Well, I am a very lucky person. I see the glass half full! I am not going to lie, I had a meltdown when everything closed one by one. When all my gigs disappeared. But well, what can we do? You can be miserable, or kick your butt and carry-on! It's how I have been raised. Luck won't knock at your door. You have to find it, chase it. And try to keep it. 

I started to sketch. It kept me busy in a positive way. I had long walks. As a joke, I dressed up every day. A little provocation to people who were saying they didn't shower and wore sweat pants. I dressed up for myself. It makes me happy. And I took pictures. People loved it. So I kept doing it. It's as simple as that.
With Frank New, my good friend in the neighborhood, we dressed up to just walk to Tompkins Square Park or East River Park. We even dressed up for Easter! I had already made my hat for the Bonnet Parade that got canceled. 

One day, I put my brain on happiness mode. And I tried to keep it this way. Call it being in the denial, but it works. I also do not own a television. I don't watch the news. I just know the big titles that I need to know to be a good citizen. That helps. I am not saying I am right, but it works for me. There always something beautiful and positive (in most things). 

An other tip to be positive: say yes to (almost) everything. Support your friends. If someone ask you to join them at a art show, a concert, a whatever, just say yes and go! Life can be beautiful and full of experiences. Look around you, contemplate life. Even watching a bird. A weird bug is cool! I have a friend who sometimes mocks me because I am too positive!

What is your favorite part of living in the East Village? 

The people. The old-school vibe. The solidarity. The spirit. The independence. The trash. The graffiti. The filth. The artists. The bars. Tompkins Square Park. My block. The East River Park. The hippies. The punks. The misfits. The fact that I run into everyone in the street to chit-chat. The bohemian spirit. The brick buildings. The fire escapes. The fact to be part of something. My neighbors. The red-tailed hawks. My nest. The feeling to be in the best neighborhood you can possibly imagine. 

I will get the zip code tattooed one day. 
If you like her whimsical work, then you can check it out in person... she'll be one of the vendors tomorrow (Saturday!) at the Avenue B flea between 10th Street and 13th Street. You can also browse her Etsy shop here.

Los Tacos NYC debuts today on 7th Street

Los Tacos NYC debuts today at 117 E. Seventh St. between Avenue A and First Avenue. 

The folks who operate 787 Coffee down the block are behind this taco operation, which will be open from 10 a.m. (breakfast!?) to midnight daily. No sign of a menu just yet. You can find their Instagram account at this link
This storefront was previously Future You Cafe, which closed in the spring as a result of the pandemic.  

H/T Steven!

Lois will close on Sunday with hopes of reopening in the spring

Lois, the low-key wine bar at 98 Avenue C between Sixth Street and Seventh Street, will close on Sunday... with plans to return in the spring of 2021. 

Owners Nora O'Malley and Phoebe Connell discussed the decision in an Instagram post:
We've had a blast the last few months, hanging with you on our "patio." If you've dined with us this summer, you know that we've changed a few things while still trying to keep the Lois vibe alive, and, most important, all of our Lois family safe and happy.
After careful consideration, we've decided that indoor dining as it stands today does not meet our standards of safety, so we will be closing for the winter to regroup. Hopefully that will put us in a position to come back in the spring for outdoor dining.
Let's be honest, things are changing every day and no one knows how they're going to change next. We understand that @mayordiblasio and @nygovcuomo believe that year round outdoor dining + 25% indoor can save this industry, but the reality is much more complex.
We are truly a small business, and we currently do not have the financial resources to upgrade our ventilation system or build private igloos. We support every incredible operator in this city, however they choose to run their businesses — this is simply our reality.

 We deeply hope that we’re able to return again in the spring, and dreaming of drinking with you again is what will get us through the winter, but the reality is that we just aren’t sure. That’s as transparent as we can be with all of you who have made the past 5.5 years a dream come true. Please come out and help us say so long, not farewell.

Lois opened in March 2015... Grub Street named it one of the neighborhood's best bars in 2016. 

Image via the Lois Facebook page. H/T Vinny & O!

The UPS Store delivers a grand opening on 1st Avenue

Oh, and the UPS Store (aka store #7339!) is now open at 108 First Ave. between Sixth Street and Seventh Street. (First menitoned back on Aug. 18.)

This outpost is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. during the week, with shorter weekend hours (8-6 on Saturday and 11-5 on Sunday). 

Until March 2018, this storefront next to the McDonald's had been a chronically empty Subway® (sandwich shop) for six years. 

Thanks to Steven for the photo!

City Gourmet Cafe has not been open lately

An addition to yesterday's post-PAUSE status check.

Word from 14th Street regulars is that City Gourmet Cafe has closed here at 238 E. 14th St. between Second Avenue and Third Avenue. 

There hasn't been any official notice about a closure, though the phone is out of service. 

City Gourmet Cafe opened back 1989, and had been a reliable spot for all-day breakfast, smoothies, sandwiches and Middle Eastern staple like lamb shawarma. 

(H/T Pinch!)

Thursday, October 22, 2020

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 NYC ... and, more recently, observations on current events...

Documenting 166 Avenue A through the years

I always enjoy receiving correspondence from Anton van Dalen, the artist who has lived on Avenue A between 10th Street and 11th Street for decades. Here's the latest dispatch:

Sending you photos of our home at 166 Avenue A, of its over the years evolving facade appearance. The photos cover a span of now almost 50 years of my observing and documenting our neighborhood.

Came to this address in 1971. Before we lived at 123 Rivington St. near the corner of Essex Street.

Initially I just watched and listened to the street life, its sidewalk theater with joyous salsa music. It was not the New World that I had imagined as child growing up in Holland — no streets here paved with gold. Rather streets paved by the colors of many cultures. 

On first arrival our new home looked abandoned, hardened by history, burned out house next door. And by contrast, a storefront church on the other side, often crowded with multigenerational Puerto Rican families. 

Today our Puerto Rican community is marginal, as neighborhood's demographics radically changed. As my below succession of photos illustrate, the creeping ongoing gentrification of our neighborhood.

I consider myself a documentarian of the East Village, yet I am a participant and spectator to its evolution. Began documenting my street surroundings in 1975, urged on by wanting to note and remember these lives. Came to realize I had to embrace wholeheartedly, with pencil in hand, my streets with its raw emotions. 

Also the everywhere discarded bloody heroin needles on sidewalks stunned and urged on my thinking. The drug dealers, the junkies, the police, the firefighters, were then the unquestioned royalty of our neighborhood. 

Then came hopeful efforts by gardeners in garbage-strewn abandoned lots, squatters, community organizers. They were able to redirect our devastated neighborhood toward again being a community for many. 

So my documenting became more and more informed by the stories of my neighbors' acts of activism. And a commitment on my part to be true to those lives, of their raw heartfelt emotions, birthed on the street. 

Their truth telling kept my work honest, brought authenticity to my documentation, so critically important. That my work needed to join the raw birth, speak for, this sad beauty born on our streets, and not to forget.

One of Anton's drawings, titled "Street Woman on Car" (1977) and posted at the top, has been acquired by the Whitney. That drawing is included in a show there now titled "Around Day's End: Downtown New York, 1970-1986." This exhibit closes on Nov. 1.

Anton is pictured below with the exhibit's curators, Laura Phipps (left) and Christie Mitchell (photo by Grace Keir).
And details on the drawing: "Street Woman on Car" (1977). Graphite pencil on paper, sheet: 22 3/4 × 29in. (57.8 × 73.7 cm). Purchased with funds from the Drawing Committee 2016/7. © Anton van Dalen

Previously on EV Grieve: