Thursday, January 21, 2021

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 ... as well as political observations on current events...

The Big Gay Ice Cream Shop will not be reopening on 7th Street

A lot of people have pointed this out in recent days: The for-rent sign in the front window of the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop on Seventh Street between Avenue A and First Avenue.

Co-founder Doug Quint confirmed the closure, though didn't offer any other immediate comment. 

This outpost had been closed since the PAUSE went into effect last March ... the Big Gay locations in the West Village and UWS did reopen.

The popular shop opened in September 2011 with a memorable array of entertainment, including an all-bassoon band, Bea Arthur lookalikes and Anthony Bourdain dressed as a priest blessing the shop. 

This was the very first location for the business that started with an ice cream truck. Since then, Quint and co-founder Bryan Petroff authored a cookbook on frozen treats and launched a pint-sized product line in grocery stores. 

Photo by Steven

A show of Local Artists this weekend at 3rd & B’Zaar

3rd & B’Zaar, the mixed-vendor market and event space at 191 E. Third St. between Avenue A and Avenue B, is hosting an art show this weekend with an array of local artists.

The opening reception is tomorrow (Friday!) evening from 6-9. The show will then run this weekend — 1-6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

And coming soon: the space will become thSex, Love & Vintage Market from Feb. 1-Feb. 28. Stay tuned for more details on that.

3rd & B’Zaar debuted late last year as a group of local merchants, artists and designers hosted a month-long Holiday Market.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021


As seen this afternoon on the Bowery at Bleecker... photo by Robert Miner...

Gallery Watch: Paige Beeber’s Farbe at Freight and Volume Gallery

Text and photos by Clare Gemima  

Paige Beeber’s Farbe
Freight + Volume Gallery, 97 Allen St.

Freight + Volume Gallery is a space I regularly walk past, but it wasn’t until seeing Paige Beeber’s large scale paintings that I had wanted to ring their doorbell for a tour. 

I had initially thought these were oversized textiles. Crazy in composition and almost panicked in their abstraction, as I drew closer to Beeber’s mixed-media canvases, a clear and painterly dialogue seeped through her strategically applied pallet of wet media, paint and found objects instead.

Ink splotted, cross-hatched and heavily patterned, what I enjoyed most about this show was how reminiscent of a studio scene these works exuded. It was almost as if all the paintings had kicked up a fuss about being transported to the gallery. It is immediately clear from their proud experimentalism that every work has a life of its own. Farbe (German for color ) felt like it was incredibly fun to put together and is an evocative showcasing of Beeber’s vibrancy and growing talent.

Beeber’s works operate as frames of time, snapshots of external and internal circumstances articulated and crafted by the artist. She has investigated ideas like order and chaos, which can be seen on her canvases through controlled, more orderly mark-making amongst the more frenzied and fluid gestures. The draw to these works is found within their multitudinous layers. Countless mark-making techniques that have managed to survive within the constraints of a canvas —how she has not run out of room I do not quite understand. 

What Beeber’s work does successfully is a call for contemplation from her viewer, as there is simply too much to comprehend from one glance. 

The scale of these works aid in this as well. As each work in the gallery towers over you, they demand some kind of attention and calculation — are they puzzles? A game of snakes and ladders? Painted knitting swatches? It is definitely not a case of what you see is what you get. 

Aside from the brilliant choice in showcasing Beeber’s paintings, I learned that Freight and Volume publish beautifully designed catalogs for each of their exhibitions. For a gallery that is dedicated to providing opportunities for emerging visual artists, an incredibly unique resource such as this — so kindly extended to their artists — is rare enough to be highlighted. 

Paige Beeber’s Farbe at Freight + Volume Gallery will be on view until Feb. 21.


 ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ 

Clare Gemima is a visual artist from New Zealand. New-ish to the East Village, she spends her time as an artist assistant and gallery go-er, hungry to explore what's happening in her local art world. You can find her work here: 

When it snowed for a few minutes this morning

In case you missed the snow flurries this morning around 7:30... here are two scenes from along Avenue A... inlcuding a shot of Key Food's new awning that workers installed yesterday...

2021 development watch: 38-46 2nd Ave.

In the weeks-months ahead, workers will demolish three buildings (No. 38, No. 42-44 and No. 46-48) on the east side of Second Avenue between Second Street and Third Street...
And soon enough we'll likely have the first look at the 11-story mixed-use building that Gemini Rosemont Development has planned for this space... another development to watch in 2021.

As reported back in August,  there are work permits awaiting approval by the city... plans call for an 11-story building (120-feet tall) filled with 87 residences (condos?) and 10,014 square feet of retail. In addition, there will be a 1,884-square-foot office (likely medical) on the first and second floors. 

Last year, Gemini Rosemont bought the former La Salle annex at 38 Second Ave. and Second Street. The $14.5 million purchase of the four-story building was the third of three contiguous parcels acquired by the firm this year for development. Gemini Rosemont closed on 42-44 Second Ave. and 46-48 Second Ave. (the former Church of the Nativity) in March 2020 for $40 million.

Demolition permits have already been filed for three buildings.

The Church of the Nativity closed after a service on July 31, 2015, merging with Most Holy Redeemer on Third Street.

As previously reported, the Cooper Square Community Land Trust had explored buying the former Church of the Nativity to use as low-income housing.

Previously on EV Grieve:
Educator: Turning the former Church of the Nativity into luxury housing would be a 'sordid use' of the property

The fight to keep Church of the Nativity from becoming luxury housing

Taiwanese noodles for 7th Street?

11 E. Seventh St. looks to have a new tenant. 

There's a filing now for Four Four Taipei Noodles Inc. at the address. (H/T Upper West Sider!) No word yet if it is related to Four Four South Village, which sells similar Taiwanese noodles in Flushing. 

The space was previously home to Le Sia. The restaurant that served a Chinese crawfish boil was not able to survive the downturn during the pandemic

Lia Sia debuted in January 2018 here just east of Cooper Square. 

As previously noted, No. 11 was home to Surma Books & Music for 98 years until June 2016. Third-generation owner Markian Surmach cited a decline in business and the expense of property tax and other charges related to owning the building. Public records show that the Surmach family sold the property to Icon Realty for $5.75 million at the time.

Amsterdam Billiards will reopen today

After a 10-month COVID-19-mandated closure, Amsterdam Billiards reopens this morning at 11 over on 11th Street and Fourth Avenue. 

Amsterdam Billiards, along with 15 other New York pool halls, had sued the state to reopen ... and this past week, a New York State Supreme Court judge ruled that the pool halls that had sued the state to reopen can do that — as long as COVID-19 safety protocols are in place, as PIX 11 reported.

Per PIX 11:
Among the many COVID-19 safety protocols for pool halls: They must operate at only 50 percent capacity, masks at all times, six foot social distance markers, no food or alcohol, deep cleaning as well as temperature checks, contact tracing and hand sanitizing stations.
While bowling alleys were allowed to reopen this past summer in the city, pool halls were left off the list. 

The judge’s decision will stand while the larger lawsuit is litigated.

Photo last night by Steven

Camellia will not be reopening on 3rd Avenue

Just a little north of our usual coverage area... Camellia, the restaurant that served made-in-house ramen and gelato, will not be reopening at 155 Third Ave. between 15th Street and 16th Street.

Food writer Nick Solares tells us that a for-rent sign has arrived in the front window. The restaurant never reopened after the PAUSE of March 2020.

Camellia debuted in early 2019 in space that was, in part, a Subway (sandwich shop). They temporarily closed several months later for renovations. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Tuesday's parting shot

Today, the United States reached 400,000 deaths from COVID-19, which nearly equals the number of Americans killed in World War II, numbers multiple media outlets cited. 

Someone marked this grim milestone with a candle this evening on Ninth Street between First Avenue and Second Avenue. 

Photo by Steven

Report: Man shot and killed last night on Avenue C and 3rd Street

Police are investigating a fatal shooting last night on the southeast corner of Avenue C and Third Street. 

According to published reports, a 36-year-old man was shot multiple times around 8:40 p.m. 

The Post reported that three men were seen fleeing westbound on Third Street. Witnesses also said that the victim had been on a bike.

Residents have long complained about the drug activity on this corner, which has been under a sidewalk bridge now for more than eight years

The renovations to the three-story building, 32 Avenue C, came to a halt in recent years. A full vacate and stop-work order remain at the address. 

In open letter, community groups seek answers over recent removal of 2 CB3 committee chairs

Fifteen community groups and block associations within Community Board 3 have signed an open letter to local and state officials requesting an inquiry into the recent removal of Alexandra Militano and Carolyn Ratcliffe as chairs of the SLA Committee and Arts & Culture Sub-Committee, respectively. (Update: the letter now has 16 signees with the addition of the First Street Block Association.)

Community groups point to the Dec. 30 letter drafted by five CB3 SLA Committee members and the Facebook post from ex-Arts Chair Ratcliffe after the demotions via Chair Alysha Lewis-Coleman raised concern about the direction and mandate CB3 leadership and management is adopting regarding liquor licensing and arts and culture in CB3. 

According to a release that accompanied the letter, the signees are especially troubled over the continued support of the Lower East Side Partnership (formerly LES BID) in the CB3 SLA Committee process, which Militano and some residents have opposed in recent years. 

"My block association is deeply concerned about unchecked liquor license proliferation and its effect on our block”, said Stuart Zamsky, an officer of the East Fifth Street Block Association in the release that accompanied the letter. "The LES BID would tip the scale for landlords and usher in more licensing if they are involved in the CB3 process." 

Neighborhood groups previously expressed concern about the new SLA Committee chair, Michelle Kuppersmith, who they say doesn't have the necessary experience to delicately balance the competing interests of an expanding nightlife industry against quality-of-life concerns. Militano has more than 20 years of involvement with CB3. (The turmoil on the committee also led to the resignation last week of member Clint Smeltzer.)

There were several protest signs visible during the virtual SLA committee meeting on Jan. 11 ...
The open letter from the 16 community groups offers a six-tiered approach that will allow residents and CB3 to move into 2021 "on good footing and continue to work together to bring positive and inclusive change for our embattled communities." 

The letter follows ...

Open Letter to Electeds - CB3 Leadership by E.V. Grieve on Scribd

The former Meet Noodles space is for rent on 3rd Avenue; Taste Wine looks closed next door

Meet Noodles has closed at 50 Third Ave. I don't know when this happened. They had been open for takeout and delivery ... as well as some curbside dining... but it all seemed to go dark in recent months. (Thanks to Steven for the photo!

There isn't any word of a closure on its website, social media properties ... or even Yelp. The restaurant specializing in Chongqing noodles opened here in May 2019. They also have locations in Brooklyn, Columbus, Ohio, and Nashville, Tenn. 

Anyway, there's now a listing for the space that doesn't offer many details, like rent. 

The west side of Third Avenue between 10th Street and 11th Street is getting grim... with this closure, five of six consecutive storefronts are now empty... including the former Boilery and Blockheads ... Ainsworth on the corner is said to be temporarily closed...
In addition, next door to Meet, it appears that Taste Wine Co. has closed... paper is covering the windows and the store appears to be empty, per Steven ... the shop had just reopened under new ownership in the fall... if this is a permanent closure, then this makes six of seven closed businesses right in a row...

Happy trails: the sidewalk bridge has been removed from the all-new 619 E. 6th St.

To the amazement of a few residents on the block... workers last week finally removed the sidewalk bridge from outside 619 E. Sixth St., where a 6-story residence has been in the works here between Avenue B and Avenue C.
While the sidewalk obstruction is gone, there are still construction supplies stacked in the street.

As a reminder of this project via DXA Studio Architecture, the architects of record:
The facade is clad in a Danish handmade brick and includes a full width mural along a sidewall that links the building in character with its East Village neighbors where street art abounds. The five residential units, from a small studio up to a dramatic three bedroom with office and double height duplex on the top floors, incorporate a simple and timeless palette of materials throughout.
We first heard about this project in January 2016. It has seemingly taken a long time to knock down the previous one-level structure on the property and get to the point where workers could cart off the sidewalk bridge.

Residents on the block had previously expressed their annoyance by the roadway dividers and temporary walkway, which became a popular spot to use as a toilet. 

Monday, January 18, 2021

How you can record a virtual 88th birthday greeting for Ray

Ray Alvarez, the proprietor of Ray's Candy Store at 113 Avenue A near Seventh Street, turns 88 on Jan. 25.

Given the pandemic, there won't be any type of in-person celebration as in previous years (a tradition dating to 2007).

So here is the plan instead (and it's meant to be a surprise for Ray) via the b-day organizers ...
Since we can't be together for Ray's Annual Birthday Celebration this year, we're making a virtual video hug for Ray and would love for you to be a part of it! Please click the link below to record your birthday wish (it's easiest to just use your phone) and we'll play them all for Ray! 

We'll collect hugs through Sunday, Jan. 31, so please add yours before then! LET'S SET THE GUINNESS WORLD RECORD FOR BIGGEST VIDEO HUG EVER!

P.S. Don't tell Ray…it's a surprise! 
The link to record the video is here

MLK National Day of Service.

In honor of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, the 12th Street Block Association along with Down to Earth Community Garden are working together today ... "to make our block a better place to live by doing a street tree clean up, replacing tree guards for our new trees and in preparation for spring planting." 

Volunteers are meeting at the Down to Earth Community Garden on the southwest corner of Avenue B and 12th Street at 1:30 this afternoon.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Week in Grieview

Posts from the past week included... (with a photo early yesterday morning from First Avenue and 14th Street)...

• Residents say dangerous safety conditions at Mariana Bracetti Plaza lead to illegal and hazardous activities (Thursday

• Advocacy group: The city's value engineering study for East River Park does not exist (Monday

• Costume drama: Halloween Adventure is closing next month (Monday

• The debut of Phony Express, a local pandemic-era band who collaborates by phone (Friday

• NYPD looking for suspects in brutal daytime mugging on 3rd Street at 1st Avenue (Thursday

• The iconic motorcycle mural on 6th Street and Avenue A apparently rode off into the sunset (Friday

• This week's NY See panel (Thursday

• Gallery Watch visits the Hole on the Bowery (Wednesday

• Panna II will return, and expand into the former Milon space next door (Wednesday

• Post unveils signage at new 3rd Street location (Friday

• Have you seen the refurbished Cooper Station Post Office? (Tuesday

• The new-look 100 2nd Ave. (Tuesday

• Carving out a retail space at 56 St. Mark's Place (Monday)

• 2021 development watch: 77 E. 3rd St. (Wednesday)

• A quick look inside the Brooklyn Dumpling Shop, opening next month on 1st Avenue (Tuesday

• A deli-grocery for the southwest corner of 14th Street and Avenue A (Monday

• The Schmackary's outpost on Cooper Square isn't reopening (Monday)
Follow EVG on Instragram or Twitter for more frequent updates and pics.

Save our compost

An EVG reader shared this photo from the Tompkins Square Greenmarket today.

As you may have read in recent months, the Parks Department wants to evict three composting sites in the coming months — Big Reuse in Long Island City, the Lower East Side Ecology Center and Red Hook Farms. (For background you can read these articles at Politico ... the Queens Daily Eagle ... MSN ... City Limits... and, most recently, Gothamist.)

And the Lower East Side Ecology Center's compost stand at the Greenmarket is trying to rally support for the sites... you can text COMPOST to 21333 for talking points ... and you can find more info via @Saveourcompostnyc. 


In really random flyers... Derek Berg spotted this one on St. Mark's Place... an invitation to the "wedding celebration" of Lena Dunham and Mayor de Blasio. 🤔  

It takes place on Valentine's Day in Union Square. The RSVP is to Fiona X. Apple at an aol address.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Saturday's parting shot

Thanks to Rainer Turim for this photo outside Key Food on Avenue A... Also! Less than a month now to Valentine's Day.

From the archives: On the phone with Sylvain Sylvain of the New York Dolls

[Sylvain, left, and David Johansen in 2006]

Ed note: Sylvain Sylvain died this week of cancer at age 69. This EVG post first appeared on March 8, 2013.

Last week, I spoke with Sylvain Sylvain, the guitarist of the legendary New York Dolls, and one of the two remaining original band members. I called him to talk about the program he's hosting at noon today on East Village Radio titled "Rock and Roll Hours." 

He talked to me for about 45 minutes from his home in Atlanta, sharing some favorite East Village memories starting when he moved to the neighborhood from Queens in 1967. 

Sylvain, 62, has a lot of stories, from waiting for coffee at Veselka to being the protopunk band who helped pave the way for others on the NYC scene in the 1970s. Here are some excerpts from the conversation. It was more of a conversation than an interview, so it doesn't really follow a Q-and-A format...

First apartment
"It was ... 1967. It was on East Fifth Street between Avenue C and D. It was $57 a month in rent. For the whole damn place! The apartment had a refrigerator. It worked and everything — the light was on. But it didn’t have a door. [Laughs] It was groovy for about a month or two — during the summer. Then I got the hell out of there real quick. Anywhere past Avenue A you were taking your life in your hands. There was a lot of heroin. It was actually cheaper than pot. It was pretty fucking wild."

Gem Spa, which served as the setting for the back cover of the New York Dolls' first album
"It was a corner place in the late 1960s. It wasn’t much of a joint at all. But we felt like the place epitomized the whole East Village scene — this is where we were living. You could stop there and pick up your smokes and get an egg cream and the newspaper or a magazine. I know Johnny [Thunders] used to really love those egg creams. They got hipper as years went on, where they would sell Melody Maker. It became more of a place once the Dolls took pictures in front of it."

"There was the Slow Russians. What do they call that place? Veselka? We called it ‘The Slow Russians.’ You’d ask for a cup of coffee at like 2 o’clock in the morning. By the time they served you the coffee it would be like 6 o’clock in the morning! [Laughs] They were real slow! But they had all those soups and it was pretty cheap. They were open all night too."

Peace Eye Bookstore
"Ed Sanders from the Fugs — one of my favorites — had a bookstore right across the street from Tompkins Square Park [at 147 Avenue A]. I worked there for a couple of months until he discovered that I couldn’t really read because I’ve always had dyslexia, and then he fired me right there."

"It was cheap. You could live on the Avenues. It was a lot safer. The drugs were softer there. There was marijuana — no heroin. If you wanted to live there, it was like $150 to $300 for a month's rent.

"Every summer, me and [David] Johansen, we used to say, 'OK, I haven't seen that person ... that person just came in. She just came in.' We could count them off. They heard their calling from wherever they came from — the Midwest, the West Coast, upstate New York — even from Queens, like me. These people had a calling to come to the city, and the East Village was the only place that they could afford to live. They would go to art school or become musicians. The only band who I remember before us were the Magic Tramps, which was Eric Emerson. He passed away, the poor guy, on heroin too.

"Queens was a few stops away from Manhattan, but it was a lifetime of travel to get to Manhattan.

"Manhattan was the only free place. As bad as it was in Alphabet City, you were free at least. You could wear what you wanted. Some times you took your life in your hands just walking. It was really dangerous. But at least you were free — that was the bottom line."

Shopping and dressing
"[Dolls bassist] Arthur Kane was on First Avenue. He lived right above a bar [now d.b.a.]. It took us like five hours to get dressed. Arthur was wearing this chick’s zebra waistcoat. It was a print, of course. It wasn’t a real zebra. But it took us hours and hours to get dressed — all this just to go shopping at the supermarket.

"When we get to the supermarket — it was below Houston. It was called the Big Apple. We were in the queue there to pay for whatever food we didn’t stuff into our pockets. This mafiosa guy says 'the things you see when you ain’t got a rifle.'

"I would go shopping from Madison Avenue to thrift shops. And you just made it up on your own.

"We'd get everything from the little kids' motorcycle jackets to beat-up blue jeans. It depended where the fuck you got it. We were the most creative — we were like what they call club kids, but when there were no clubs."

"Everyone had a telephone. Of course, we never paid for it. You’d pick a name. My name was Ricky Corvette. I'm pretty sure I still owe Ma Bell a lot of money. Back then, you’d call up and say I just moved into this new place. 'OK, what's your name? Ricky Corvette. OK, Ricky we'll be there next week to put in your phone.' I'm talking about 1970."

Johnny's closet
Johnny Thunders had an apartment on Avenue A. His closet was like — everything would be pressed and dry cleaned. He had a real unique way of dressing and picking this and this and that and putting it all together.

When we were picking names for the band, he called me, well, he called Ricky Corvette, and run names by me. 'What do you think of Johnny Thunder?' I'd was like Yeah, that's pretty cool Johnny. The phone would ring five minutes later. What about Johnny Thunders?

"I did have an apartment in New York until 2010. It was on 69th Street off Broadway. Up until a couple years ago we were doing OK so I could still have an apartment in New York. But then I couldn’t afford it. I first moved to LA, and lived there until 1995 and moved here to Atlanta. It was all because of money. Now Atlanta is getting almost as expensive as New York. Almost. I think Nicaragua, friend, is next."

Starting a band
"A lot of kids come up to me like 'Wow, you came up at a really great time!' Oh, fuck no! When the New York Dolls started in 1970, there was nobody. You couldn't get a contract. It took us years. It took until 1973 until we got signed.

"After we started it was five years until CBGB opened in 1975. The Dolls broke up in 1975. There were no places to play. You had to invent places to play. We were the ones who kind of gave birth to groups like Blondie and the Talking Heads." 


 [Photos via Sylvain Sylvain]

There's something about Mary O's

Mary O's, the 11-year-old Irish pub at 32 Avenue A between Second Street and Third Street, is currently closed during the pandemic.

However, proprietor and EV resident Mary O'Halloran remains busy in the kitchen.

As Roger Clark reported at NY1 this week, O'Halloran is making Irish soda bread scones based on her mom's recipe from County Mayo, Ireland, and selling them online. Patrons can also purchase a shepherd's pie, and she will deliver it to one of the city agencies feeding those in need.

Per NY1:
"I'm not making money, absolutely no way, but it creates a vibe with people between the community and my own regular customers," said O’Halloran.
NY1 notes that the tireless O'Halloran is doing all this all the while taking care of her six children, ages 8 through 17.
It's O'Halloran's nature to keep moving and working. Her husband is a longshoreman who is often gone months at a time, so it's a lot to juggle, but she refuses to let Mary O's shut its doors. 
"My gut feeling tells me that I can survive. I just have to keep going, you know?" said O'Halloran, who added, "It's really, really hard, but I can't give up. Do you know what I'm saying? I just can't."
You can order the scones or shepherd's pie via the Mary O's website here.

EVG file photo

The remains of Dinosaur Hill

Dinosaur Hill, the longtime East Village toy store on Ninth Street next to Veselka, is officially closed ... 

EVG contributor Stacie Joy spotted owner Pamela Pier (below left) and "first and last employee" Naomi Machado inside the shop yesterday...
There are some floor pieces and shelves, counters, fixtures, etc, still available for sale. (You can see what's left inside from the storefront window.)  

In addition, whenever the two visit the shop, they'll put out a few freebies, including some books and other smaller items, on the sidewalk.
Pier announced her retirement after 37-plus years back in the fall. She is directing patrons to two other like-minded businesses on the block — an.mé and the March Hare.

There's a Book Swap Sunday — this Sunday!

Tomorrow (Sunday!) marks another Book Swap Sunday outside the Tompkins Square Library branch on 10th Street between Avenue A and Avenue B... from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

Per the organizers:
Let's share our used books to help us get through this pandemic together. Leave some and take others... Thanks for making these such a wonderful success! And you don't have to donate. Taking is sharing also.
Photo by Kevin Farley

Friday, January 15, 2021

Friday's parting shot

Moving day on Second Avenue at Fifth Street ... photo by Derek Berg...

A downed tree on 7th Street

We received several reports of a downed tree across from the site of the fire on Dec. 5 on the southeast corner of Seventh Street and Second Avenue... BigStef shared the top photo... 

There's some speculation that one of the trucks on the scene of the burned-out Middle Collegiate Church may have taken it out. 

And here's another view via Derek Berg...

RIP Sylvain Sylvain

As you may have heard, Sylvain Sylvain, co-founder and guitarist of the New York Dolls, died Wednesday of cancer. He was 69. 

An appreciation via Jem Aswad at Variety:
While singer David Johansen was a classic Jaggeresque frontman and Johnny Thunders oozed degenerate charisma and played snarling lead guitar, Sylvain was the group's foundation, bringing textured riffs and rhythmic power that underpinned the songs' melodies and meshed with the bass and drums. The twang of his Gretsch guitar countered Thunders' blistering, distorted leads and gave the group a melodic bedrock.
Sylvain previously lived in the East Village, starting in 1967. 

Johansen is now the only surviving member of the original lineup, seen in the above video with "Stranded in the Jungle" from 1973.

The debut of Phony Express, a local pandemic-era band who collaborates by phone


The above audio clip recently arrived in the EVG inbox... featuring a new track called "CBGB" by Phony Express.

And just who is this mystery band? They are local, and here is some background...
"Phony Express is what happens when artists, writers and musicians, who'd normally be making shows live at La MaMa and in our neighborhood watering holes, decide to use our own devices. We've formed an anonymous band inspired by EV Grieve — anonymous, so that listeners may focus on the music itself, not what they find online about the persons performing it; local, sparked by our neighborhood's unique legacy, free and fun. 'CBGB' is the band's debut. No website. Our plan is to collaborate by phone, making music quickly (Phony Express) and upload to Phony Express's YouTube channel."
And EVG will post the new tracks as they become available...

The iconic motorcycle mural on 6th Street and Avenue A apparently rode off into the sunset

The two-part motorcycle mural on the Sixth Street side of 94-96 Avenue A is no more.

On Wednesday, workers removed the sidewalk bridge from the under-renovation (one new floor!) building... and that's when people started noticing what was missing... this photo is from several years ago...
The mural, which the local artist WK created in the mid-1990s when the Sidewalk Cafe was here, survived the restaurant transition in the fall of 2019 to August Laura.

Laura Saniuk-Heinig, one of the proprietors at August Laura, told me at the time that she loved the work and wanted it to remain in place, appreciating its history in the neighborhood.

When asked about the mural yesterday, she replied: "Unfortunately, I do not know anything about the mural. I was shocked once the scaffolding came down [and saw] that the beloved mural was gone too." 

Among others, the mural featured Hugh Mackie, the owner of Sixth Street Specials on Sixth Street just east of Avenue C. 

WK shot the photos to use for the mural in the abandoned lot next to Sixth Street Specials at different times and pieced them together into the finished product. Mackie created the "floor" of the piece with plywood and used whitewash on the wall of the building as a backdrop.

The mural was also used as branding for Sidewalk, which closed in February 2019 after 34 years in business
Penn South Capital paid $9.6 million for the property in March 2019, per public records. Pini Milstein, who retired, was the principal owner of the building as well as the operator of the Sidewalk. 

In April 2019, when some renovations were starting at 94-96 Avenue A, rumors circulated that the panels were going to come down. This is what WK said at the time to EVG contributor Stacie Joy: "I think this old mural project had a good life and probably the wood behind it it is completely dead — not much can be saved."

And from Mackie, who has lived here since 1981: "The mural became a gateway to the heart of the East Village — much like the Gringo mural of Spacely on St Mark's Place. Sidewalk Cafe was a successful restaurant and a perfect meeting place. Nothing is permanent, not even me!"