Sunday, January 31, 2021

6 posts from January

A mini month in review... 

• Big Gay Ice Cream founders say goodbye to their very first shop (Jan. 22

• Residents say dangerous safety conditions at Mariana Bracetti Plaza lead to illegal and hazardous activities (Jan. 14)

• NYPD looking for suspects in brutal daytime mugging on 3rd Street at 1st Avenue (Jan. 14

• A 21-story office building planned for the former B Bar & Grill on the Bowery (Jan. 8

• Hope for Little Poland in 2021? (Jan. 5

• A new era for Via Della Pace on 4th Street (Jan. 4)

Storm prep

There are reader reports of long lines at grocery stores ahead of the winter storm that is expected to drop between 18 and 24 inches over the next 12 hours. 

EVG reader Doug shared the top photo from Third Avenue, where the line went around block for the Trader Joe's at Union Square. 

There were also reports of lines at Key Food on Avenue A ... Gothamist posted this shot...

Week in Grieview

Posts from this past week included ... (with an uptown view this morning from First Avenue and St. Mark's Place) ...

• Another look at conditions in and around the Mariana Bracetti Plaza public housing complex (Wednesday

• Longtime resident revisits the neighborhood for 'A Walk Around the Block' (Monday

• The East Village establishments taking part in NYC Restaurant Week To Go (Tuesday

• Gov. Cuomo to allow indoor dining — at 25% — again starting on Valentine's Day (Friday

• Have you seen the new Vision for Union Square? (Wednesday

• Batteries not included: Food and drinks options on this block of 7th Street (Monday

• A visit to Good Time Pilates (Thursday

• This week's Gallery Watch goes to Ki Smith Gallery (Friday

• Mask envy in this week's NY See panel (Thursday

• ICYMI: Enz's is back in the East Village (Thursday)

• Phony Express debuts a birthday tribute to Ray at Ray's Candy Store (Friday

• Resident talks up privatization at Village View (Tuesday

• Tamam is now open on 14th Street (Monday

• Tokio7 returns (online) (Thursday

• 99 Favor Taste looks to have closed (again) on St. Mark's Place (Tuesday

• The 25th anniversary of 'Rent' (Wednesday

• A message for Short Stories (Monday)

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

NYC Restaurant Week To Go is now a full month through February

NYC Restaurant Week To Go, set to end today, has been extended now through Feb. 28.

As you may know, this is the deal, via NYCgo:
What: A takeout- and delivery-only version of NYC Restaurant Week, offering lunch or dinner for a set price of $20.21. The offer includes a prix-fixe entrée and at least one side. Plus, if you purchase your meal with your registered Mastercard®, you’ll get $10 back.
record 571 restaurants signed up for the semi-annual event... including 16 in the East Village — La Palapa, Cafe Mogador, Pangea, Hearth and Veselka among the participating venues. Find the EV list here... and the full NYC list at this link.

As Eater reportedNYC & Company, the city's tourism office and host of Restaurant Week, "has re-opened signups for new restaurants that would like to participate in the program for the weeks of February 8, 15, and 22."

Restaurants have until 5 p.m. on Tuesday to register to take part. Given the pandemic, they've waived the participation fees. 


From this past week... the Bernie meme mashed up with the late MF DOOM on the Bowery between Great Jones and Bond... art by @bastardbot ...

Report: The first major snowstorm of Feb. 1, 2021, on its way

As you likely heard: It's gonna snow...  this is the latest from the National Weather Service this morning: 

* WHAT...Heavy snow expected. Total snow accumulations of 14 to 18 inches. Winds gusting as high as 45 mph. 

* WHERE...Portions of northeast New Jersey and southeast New York. 

* WHEN...From 7 PM this evening to 6 AM EST Tuesday. 

* IMPACTS...Travel could be very difficult to impossible. The hazardous conditions could impact the morning and evening commute. Gusty winds could bring down tree branches.

* ADDITIONAL DETAILS...Blizzard like conditions possible Monday and Monday evening.
WHICH MEANS... we'll likely post dozens of snow photos (and provide other pertinent information) during the next 48 hours.

Dipping into the archives here ... the photos in this post are from the blizzard of Dec. 27, 2010, when the run-up to the storm was so severe, the only thing left at the Blockbuster on East Houston was "Army Wives: Complete Fourth Season." 

... on Avenue A... 
... and Avenue B...

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Your Book Swap Sunday reminder for Sunday

A remnidner that there will be another Book Swap Sunday (tomorrow!) 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

EVG Etc.: Real-time maps of construction sites for cyclists; Permanent Open Streets for all

Photo by Derek Berg

• Police searching for thief who stole wallet from stricken shopper at Target on 14th and A (1010 WINS)

• Local City Councilmember Carlina Rivera wants the city to create a real-time map of construction sites and other obstructions so cyclists know the danger spots (Daily News

• Details on the mayor's "State of the City" speech from Thursday; highlights include permanent Open Streets like on Avenue B (Streetsblog

• NYC residents behind in getting access to COVID-19 vaccines (The City

• What's left of Kleindeustchland, or Little Germany, in the neighborhood (Untapped New York

• RIP Jerry Brandt, founder of the Ritz (now Webster Hall) and music industry veteran (The New York Times

• NYC's radical female and non-binary skateboarders (CNN Style)

• The candidates for Manhattan Borough President (Gothamist

• The Philadelphia location of Big Gay Ice Cream closes (The Philadelphia Inquirer ... previously on EVG)

And in case you missed this... artists Graham Fortgang and Samara Bliss of the the Locker Room studio in Brooklyn created this billboard now up in Los Angeles that declares "New York is Dead. Don't come back." ...which serves as "a love letter to those doubling down in New York and choosing to rebuild and a golf clap to those on their way out."

Friday, January 29, 2021

8 is enough

Local synth-pop group Hennessey released a new single today ... check out "8 Men" in the above video...

Gov. Cuomo to allow indoor dining — at 25% — again starting on Valentine's Day

After a two-month shutdown, Gov. Cuomo today stated that NYC restaurants can reopen for indoor dining (at 25-percent capacity) starting on Valentine's Day. 

Cuomo originally ended indoor dining in the city after two-plus months ahead of an expected holiday-related spike in COVID-19 positivity rates. Perhaps some of the East Village restaurants who went on hiatus back in December will decide to return to service — indoors and out — starting on Feb. 14. 

As Eater and other outlets have noted, the state's own data reported that 1.4 percent of COVID-19 cases came from restaurants and bars compared to nearly 74 percent for private indoor gatherings during the fall.

And per Gothamist:
[R]estaurant owners and industry advocates have argued that indoor dining should resume in the name of regional fairness. In Westchester, Long Island and New Jersey, restaurants have been allowed to operate indoors at up to 50-percent capacity, despite those areas sometimes having higher COVID-19 infection rates than the five boroughs.
Top photo of Pangea on Second Avenue from October by Stacie Joy 

Gallery Watch: First Draft at Ki Smith Gallery

Text and photos by Clare Gemima 

First Draft, Caslon Bevington, Sei Smith and Dylan Reitz
 Ki Smith Gallery, 197 E. Fourth St.

After walking past one of the first iterations of First Draft, I was intrigued to know more about Ki Smith Gallery and its seemingly unique approach to the contemporary art space, curatorial programming and general history. 

What strikes first about this space is its small fish/big pond boldness — you can see certain works before you walk in and in most cases see all works at once when you are inside. The interior to me is experimental, testing and quite obviously full of potential. 

I had the pleasure of being taken around the work of install_1, the first of three parts in First Draft by its curator Sei Smith (pictured in the middle above, and brother of Ki Smith). Speaking to the works of art and about the show as an art form in and of itself, Sei’s confidence and strong sense of adaptability between both artist and curator presented me with a wealth of knowledge and, naturally, a long list of questions.

I didn’t want to leave, but since when has a gallery show been something dying for certainty or resolution? I had accessed more information about how each artist and curator worked with materials, while maintaining my curiosity around why Sei had curated his share of the show the way he had. 

What did he want his audience to take away from hanging Bevington’s referentially digital painting next to Reitz’s recycled paper sculpture? Why were pieces hung at jarringly different heights? What time of the day could you watch certain works change in color? What would the show look like next if all of the same work would be in the same room? How does it feel for a viewer to engage with the artworks in such an intimate setting? 

“The synchronicity lies not in the aesthetics of the art objects, but in the artists’ treatment of material as subject to create subversive “paintings” that embody the inescapable harmony of minimalism.”  (Read the press release here.)

Harmonizing Ki Smith Gallery until Valentines Day, three young artists who were supposed to show at Art Toronto found themselves in conversation about how their practices ebb and flow, fit with and depart from each others. 

After being hit with a pandemic and needing to exhaust different resources, Caslon, Dylan and Sei dug into finding meaning in solitary art making for the benefit of collaborative showcasing.

This show is fantastic in the sense that all three artists who hold reputable qualifications had the decency to deliberately exclude theoretical and institutionalized guidelines from their curatorial processes. Instead, they have relied on the work itself, their tastes, instincts, and respect for their fellow artists. This show is real and makes the work so much more raw. East Village… can we have more of this please? 

The artists and revolving group of curators include Bevington, who works with resin, concrete, acetate and polyurethane. Her work bridges between hypothetical and physical through the use of paint, pixels, words and fabric. My favorite of hers was the acrylic on panel Photograph of Orange Rose, 2020.

Another stand out work for me was Rills, 2020. Made from handmade paper by Reitz who has a background in stock animation film. He is currently studying Integrated Digital Media and has seamlessly married an organic analogue material with a mechanically digital format. 

Both his animation and in-real-life works are memorable purely because you’ve probably never seen something recycled both physically and digitally quite like this. Extremely impressive. 

And of course, the curator of the first installation of First Draft, Smith studied painting at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and has shown his work both locally and internationally. I personally felt an instant draw to Sei’s work because of its reflective surfaces, fluorescent, iridescent and transient in their formal finish. 

His work in First Draft grapples with the substantiality and appearance of wet paint, dry paint, adhered surfaces and deliberate mistakes in the process of layering various materials. His work changes each time you walk into the space, creating differing sensations for each viewer. Made from acrylic and iridescent film on panel, his best work for me was Half Iridescent_Paint Subjects, 2020.

You can find all work from First Draft and many other works from Caslon Bevington, Sei Smith and Dylan Reitz on the Ki Smith Gallery website.

First Draft will be travelling through two more iterations, curated by Reitz (install No. 2 ending on Sunday) and Bevington (install No. 3 from Feb. 3-14) at Ki Smith Gallery, 197 E. Fourth St. between Avenue A and Avenue B. 

And a special thanks to Sei Smith for showing me around the space.
~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ 

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: 

Flashback Friday: The EVG 'A visit to...' archives

Stacie Joy has been contributing a feature called "A visit to ..." in recent years. Here's a look at just a few (35!) of places that she has visited to date...

Phony Express debuts a birthday tribute to Ray at Ray's Candy Store

In honor of Ray's birthday this month at Ray's Candy Store, newly created local band Phony Express (read the backstory here) dropped a new single — "Ray's Party."


Thursday, January 28, 2021

Curbside dining space removed outside Lucy's on Avenue A

Earlier this week, we noted that someone had taken up residence in the unfinished curbside space outside Lucy's on Avenue A between St. Mark's Place and Ninth Street.

Yesterday, the Department of Homeless Services posted a notice stating that the city will clean up this space beginning today. Well, not only did someone clean up the structure, they also just removed the entire thing, as Steven noted...
Lucy's has been closed of late... but a lot of money did go into the unfinished structure for a business struggling to stay afloat these past 10.5 months. No word on who ordered it to be removed.

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 NYC ... 

Holidays on ice

Workers this morning are removing the Christmas lights from Ninth Street between First Avenue and Second Avenue, as Grant Shaffer notes. 

They arrived back on Nov. 1 ... we've seen them stay up as late as Feb. 15 (happy Valentine's Day!).

A visit to Good Time Pilates

Text and photos by Stacie Joy

Being somewhat new to fitness, I’d only taken a mat Pilates class before but had always been curious about the reformer-machine–based classes.

So I was equal parts excited and nervous when I arrived at the newly created Good Time Pilates on lower Avenue C to meet owner Sam Miles (above right) and teacher Meg Broome (above left). 

The studio is housed in Meg’s apartment and the sunny back room is all set up with the reformer machine, blocks, mats, a “squishy ball” and a sweet soundtrack. I am greeted by kitties Ringo and Mushu, who delicately approve of my presence before Sam initiates the now-standard COVID-19 protocols: Temperature check, hand sanitizer, masks, open windows, and an air filter machine humming softly. 

I confess my beginner status as I look at the carriage and rack assembly of the machine, but Meg and Sam put me at ease discussing the mechanics of the practice.
“Movement can change how you feel on a daily basis, and Pilates can change your body’s relationship with gravity,” Meg tells me as she leaves Sam and I to begin our session. 

After I have a basic understanding of the class, we talk about Pilates, opening and operating a fitness studio during a pandemic, and what drew them to the East Village, where they both live and work.

Can you speak a bit about Good Time Pilates’ history? How did you two meet, and what prompted you to open a fitness studio? What made you pick the East Village as your and its home?

SamGood Time Pilates was born at the beginning of the pandemic. Putting a pause on life, being locked inside, and the uncertainty about the future made me need to move my body. 

I started teaching virtual classes pretty quickly. I would just post, “anyone want to move tonight at 6?” on my Instagram and I got tons of people who felt that same need. Good Time Pilates really blossomed from there. The name says it all, we want people to have a good time while they move. 
MegGood Time Pilates is Sam’s brilliant brainchild. I craved a teammate, structure and inspiration, so I reached out to Sam. Since then, each day I have been on my mat has been a little brighter. Community, even virtual, shifts the experience in class drastically. Joining the Good Time Pilates team has been the highlight of my pandemic. 
Sam[We met when] I was working as a bartender, getting my certification during the day, and working the front desk at a Pilates studio to get free classes. Meg got hired as an instructor at that same studio and five years later, here we are. 

We have spent endless hours building our first small studio and daydreaming about the possibilities of the future. Good Time Pilates has decided to take the pressure off this year. The goal is to embrace, accept, and learn about our bodies exactly as they are right now. 

We want to modify our relationship to movement and exercise away from punishment and toward nourishment. We are creating a space that gives the power of physical knowledge a chance to shine past some of the darkness currently clouding our lives. 
MegFive years ago, right around this time of year, I was hired at the same Pilates studio as Sam in downtown Manhattan. She was in the middle of her certification and I had just moved to New York from San Francisco. Our passion for Pilates is just one of many things that helps us vibe well together. 
SamI lost my job immediately when quarantine started. My lease was up shortly after lockdown started, so I moved upstate to Kingston with my pup Birdie. 

Prior to that, for the last seven years I had bounced around the boroughs. As Good Time grew, picking its forever home wasn’t easy. I am a California girl and I felt my roots calling me home. 

However, the community and support I have here made it obvious that this is where I want to share my passions. I just signed my first solo lease for an apartment in the neighborhood that will also house Good Time’s administrative office. 
MegI have lived in the East Village for the last four years, but have been deeply intrigued by it as a neighborhood since my early teens. Tall buildings sometimes make me anxious, so this part of Manhattan has always made me feel held and inspired. I got my first tattoo at 16, on St. Mark’s. I met the love of my life over the pool table at Parkside Lounge. I have danced many, many nights away at The Pyramid Club. The locals are what make this neighborhood buzz. 
Is Pilates accessible to every person’s body? What would you say to beginners who haven’t had much if any experience with the practice or find the machines intimidating? [Ed. Note: Meg & Sam jointly answered the following questions.]

Yes, that's the real beauty of Pilates. It is designed for anyone with a body. Pilates focuses on building strength, developing coordination and balance, improving flexibility, and enhancing overall body alignment and posture. 

What makes Pilates unique is its ability to adapt to accommodate any level. Whether you’re an athlete, someone who has never worked out, or even someone with an injury, Pilates is for you. One thing that can make Pilates inaccessible is the price. 

Since the creation of Good Time, we have been dedicated to trying to fix that one step at a time. We offer classes at a variety of prices. Students have the opportunity to add a donation onto the price of class that goes directly into our scholarship fund. We offer all of our services at a reduced rate with the help of our students’ donations. The second thing that can make Pilates feel inaccessible is the way it is marketed. 

We sometimes talk about Pilates feeling intimidating because its name doesn’t describe what is going to happen in the class. Spin, we get it. Boxing, we get it. Even yoga, there’s a broader general knowledge about.

If we renamed Pilates, “strength, balance, coordination, and flexibility” or something sassier like “a class to help with aging” I think some of the nerves would fall away. 

As far as the machines go...yes, it does look like some crazy BDSM contraption. Yes, some things you experience will feel like torture. However, we find that after a single session people are more fascinated with the way they feel than how scary the machines may look.
What has the experience of working with and training people during the pandemic been like? What precautions do you observe when working in the studio?

It’s been tough but endlessly rewarding. Everyone lost their sense of routine and was all of the sudden working out in their homes. We started virtually to keep everyone safe and moving. We teach every class from our homes. Kittens and pups make appearances on the daily and our virtual community of furry friends grows weekly with all the new adoptions. The toughest part has been not being able to hug our students after class. 

The small private studio we opened in September has been our safe space to be able to see bodies in person again. Our space is up to every safety standard as well. We have the windows open at all times, we have a room air filter that is on at all times, both instructor and student wear a mask at all times, etc. We sanitize everything and leave thirty minutes between students. 
Can you speak about what teaching online classes has been like?  What online platform(s) do you use, and how do you offer suggestions, corrections and adjustments when working with people remotely?

Teaching online has been an adjustment to say the least. Zoom and technology challenges are still giving us a run for our money. Pilates is usually a very tactile practice. Instructors use hands-on corrections to help heighten proprioception in the students. Touch usually helps the brain-to-muscle connection fire.

Clearly, the screens make that difficult. We try each day to deepen our cues to help students get the same experience through the screen. Teaching students to become more familiar with touching their own bodies. As well as sending and posting tips and tricks often for trying to help with the at-home experience. 
People’s work/life balances have gone completely out the door. The other challenge has been creating a schedule that feels like it accommodates everyone. On top of our daily live classes through Zoom, we have one Instagram live class a week that is donation based, totally free to join, on-demand videos for rent on Vimeo, as well as a few completely free classes up on YouTube to get a feel for what we do! 
What’s next for Good Time Pilates? 

The plan is to keep chugging one day at a time, feeling our roots grow in the neighborhood: Introducing ourselves to the intramural sports teams that play at East River Park, reaching out to local bars and restaurants to build a band of badass service-industry humans, connecting with local youth and community organizations to get a sense of what accessible movement opportunities already exists and how we can help contribute to them. 

As we feel the world is headed closer to some normalcy, we hope to open a larger space. We dream of a movement clubhouse. A place where all bodies are celebrated and your neighbors go with you to class. 

The East Village is home to so much history and the communities that helped build this neighborhood deserve accessible movement education.

You can keep up with Good Time Pilates here.

ICYMI: Enz's is back in the East Village

We're long overdue with this welcome back post!

If you've been on Seventh Street between First Avenue and Second Avenue in recent weeks, then you've likely seen a familiar name on the block: Enz's.

The rockabilly and retro clothes shop opened at 76 E. Seventh St. in December.  

Owner-designer Mariann Marlowe had previously operated the shop at 125 Second Ave. between Seventh Street and St. Mark's Place for the past 18 years after relocating from St. Mark's Place. (The store dates to the 1970s on Grove Street.)

Marlowe decided to close up shop in late 2019, having grown tired of the hostile retail climate and the daily rigor of running the business (This post from the time has more details.) 

Welcome back...