Thursday, September 30, 2021

Thursday's parting shot

An EVG reader shared this photo from early this morning ... 4:50 a.m. to be exact when Con Ed had two workers spend two hours or so power washing the graffiti-filled substation along Avenue A between Fifth Street and Sixth Street... 

Updated 10/1 

About 12 tags arrived less than 24 hours later... a sampling...

6 posts from September

A mini month in review... 

• MAJOR changes coming to the aisles of Key Food (Sept. 29)

• Memories of Homecoming 2021 (Sept. 24

• A visit to Ergot Records (Sept. 22)

• A clue about future development courtesy of the former Subway at 250 E. Houston St. (Sept. 21)

• Lancelotti Housewares is closing on Avenue A (Sept. 17

• City clears and closes the area around the chess tables in Tompkins Square Park (Sept. 1)

A night at the opera via the LUNGS Harvest Arts Festival

The 10th annual LUNGS Harvest Arts Festival continues through Sunday in neighborhood community gardens. 

Here's one of the more unique events taking place... tomorrow (Friday!) night, dell'Arte Opera Ensemble and LUNGS present "The Great Aria Throwdown" in the Campos Community Garden on East 12th Street just west of Avenue C.

Starting at 6:30 p.m., you'll find "an hour of music at operatic proportions featuring Bahati Barton, Perri di Christina, Diana Charlop and Jeffrey Mandelbaum with Pablo Zinger at the piano."

Find the full LUNGS schedule here.

An early morning visit with NY1's Roger Clark

Text and photos by Stacie Joy

It’s 7 a.m., and Roger Clark is precisely where you’d expect him to be at this hour: in front of a camera for NY1

This past Monday, the veteran broadcast reporter is in the East Village to cover the Village Voices street exhibit with the Village Preservation team members. There are two live hits; the second includes trustee Leslie Mason and executive director Andrew Berman and touches on Patti Smith and Charlie Parker.
Clark strikes set after some on-air patter with anchor Pat Kiernan and a few funny fumbles in the lead-ins. He then heads over to meet musician Randy Gun in front of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s former home-studio on Great Jones to talk about the Basquiat bartending book exhibition and sale. 

Clark OK’d for me to tag along with him this morning to watch him put together a report. Today’s assignment is definitely on the less death-defying side. Through his 20 years at the station, viewers have seen him gamely jet-skiing, tap dancing, BMX biking, ax throwing, rock climbing and more

I’m pleased to see that Clark is as affable in person as he is on the air, cracking gentle dad jokes, donning hastily tucked button-downs, and joshing with his happily at-ease interviewees. He’s interested and curious about his subjects, easy to talk to, and quick to laugh. He seems genuinely surprised and pleased and a touch embarrassed when people walk by and tell him how much they enjoy his reports. 

Watching him at work is fascinating. I expect a team, but it’s just him and Guido, his camera operator. Clark sources, writes, interviews, and edits his own material. When Guido’s not available, Clark shoots it too, clutching an iPhone and fiddling with an external mic. There isn’t any intermediary assigned to run interference when I show up to ask questions and take pictures. There’s no pretense either. 

Guido has another assignment, so I watch as Clark interviews Gun. They discuss the Hudson Valley (Gun has a home in Phoenicia and Clark once lived nearby in Newburgh), punk music and the history of the Bowery. Long after PR agent Barbara Wagner and Janis Gardner Cecil, president of JGC Fine Art, the art-house exhibiting the book, have left, the two of them continue to chat about shared passions.
Once the interviews are over, Clark and I sit down at a nearby cafe to talk about his relationship with the East Village. Clark is a native New Yorker, growing up in Staten Island, the Bronx and Queens, attending school at Stuyvesant High. 

Clark tells me that he didn’t really start exploring the area until he was 16 or so. He mentions seeing people wearing Canal Jean Company pins, music/band tees, and sporting mohawks and began to seek out record shops, poster places, and clothing stores. 

I ask him what a perfect day in the East Village might include. He mentions Veselka for breakfast, some walking and people-watching, an egg cream or beignets at Ray’s Candy Store, shopping at record stores, and checking out Trash & Vaudeville. He lists Gruppo for pizza for dinner with drinks at a favorite spot such as the Library, Double Down Saloon, Niagara, 7B/Horseshoe Bar or Dream Baby, and a show at the Bowery Electric. (His band Perp Walk has played the Bowery Electric, Niagara’s and Otto’s Shrunken Head.) 

We also talk about media personalities and dream jobs. When Clark was a child, he wanted to play for the Mets but couldn’t hit a curveball and instead became interested in sportscasting. He has a degree in journalism from Syracuse University and worked his way up to the spot he holds today: NYers favorite morning features reporter. And if he weren’t at NY1? Perhaps a morning news correspondent gig like Mo Rocca’s, or a commentator like the now-retired Charles Osgood or the late Charles Kuralt. 

Clark is also a passionate sports fan, and I recall the question my editor suggested that I ask: What will the Mets need to do in the off-season to contend in 2022? Clark doesn’t hesitate to explain that the team needs to dump some poor performers who the fans are accustomed to (he’s looking at you, Dom Smith and J.D. Davis) and get a new closer. Edwin Díaz isn’t handling his business, I am informed. 

He’s finished his snack and will soon start editing his segments from his Upper East Side apartment for tomorrow’s NY1 morning show. (You can watch the features here and here.)

As we part ways, a neighbor walks by and behind his back gives me an enthusiastic thumbs up and mouths, “ROGER CLARK — YES!”

Danish coffee shop La Cabra set to debut tomorrow

La Cabra, a self-described Scandinavian coffee roastery and sourdough bakery, debuts tomorrow (Oct. 1) at 152 Second Ave. between Ninth Street and 10th Street. (First reported here in April.)

The shop opens at 8 a.m. (until 6 p.m.) with a 9 a.m. start on weekends. You can check out their Instagram for pics of their various pastries and croissants. 

The coffee company got its start in Aarhus, Denmark, in 2012. This is the first of several planned NYC outposts for La Cabra.

Thanks to Steven for the photo! 

Hellbound: Café de L’Enfer popping up on Avenue A this fall

Café de L’Enfer, an absinthe and champagne cocktail bar, is popping up for the fall starting tomorrow on the second floor at 95 Avenue A. 

Restaurateur Ravi DeRossi's Overthrow Hospitality is opening the bar above Amor y Amargo here at Sixth Street ... inspired, DeRossi said, by the original Hell-themed café (Cabaret de l'Enfer!) that debuted in Paris in 1892. 

Café de L’Enfer will be open Wednesday-Sunday from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. 


Here are a few interior shots...
Thanks to @vegan.nyx for the tip! And this song for headline inspiration.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021


An EVG reader shared these photos (thank you!) from last night around 10 from the Citi Bike docking station on Sixth Street at Avenue B...
Not sure why there's a pile of Citi Bikes here... this station has had a valet in recent weeks... perhaps the valet was off-duty? Or someone was sacrficing the bikes that don't work...

Gallery Watch: Sei Smith: Portraits of You at Ki Smith Gallery

Text by Clare Gemima 
Photos by Grace Shine Jeon

Portraits of You by Sei Smith
Ki Smith Gallery, 197 E. Fourth St.

I feel lucky to live so close to Ki Smith Gallery — not because of the geographic convenience or their fun and social openings. I visit Ki Smith Gallery for the art and its engaged, intellectual, and fascinating artists.

I would like to applaud this gallery for presenting and committing to an ethos that positions itself within an art historical context. A special thanks to Gallery Director Claire Foussard for offering such support to the artists at Ki Smith and to artist Sei Smith for his enthusiasm and willingness to talk to me about his new show, Portraits of You. 

Smith has created a series of figureless portraits, forcing an audience member to immediately question ideas around contemporary art jargon or any preconceived notion of what a portrait-painter could be today. This wit and finesse at articulating such are consistent throughout the eight works that line the gallery's space. Smith uses an iridescent adhesive film throughout this body of work which acts to obscure identity informing under-paintings. 

Eight works represent Smith's various relationships to eight different friends who range in backgrounds (and statures). Smith has reinforced this concept of diversity in highly creative ways, including height-specific installation techniques, his choice in titling the work and through the materials he chooses to play with. 

The work comes full circle to me conceptually because, by nature, these works are reflective. Seeing yourself within the work teases and tests your impulses to look for things you didn't think were ever there. It wasn't until I read more about the work that I realized the under-coats of acrylic were really the ID of the painting, and deciphering all of them was challenging but in a slow reveal sort of way. 

It was also a beautiful experience because of the tonality of the film coating (think reds, pinks, oranges, ruby, purple, etc.). Having this knowledge was not imperative to the viewing experience. Still, it definitely made me want to go back after reading the artist's viewing instructions to learn more about who his muses were, or at least through their instructions for Sei, who they wanted to be portrayed as. 

There is more than meets the eye in Portraits of You. Because of the iridescent top coating of the paintings, the work changes color depending on your angle. As you move from one piece to another, the light in the gallery hits differently, creating new narratives for each of the works. A live personification happens before your eyes. It is intimate and almost self-indulging. 

The show is fun but also wrapped in intellect that will excite you about the direction of Smith's career. I'm looking forward to seeing more. After the last show I covered at this space, the artist's inquiries and concept handling have already been embraced, updated, upgraded and re-navigated. 

Please read more about Sei's practice here. And follow the most up-to-date events and openings from Ki Smith Gallery here.

Portraits of You is up through Oct. 17 at the gallery, 197 E. Fourth St. between Avenue A and Avenue B. Hours: Wednesday-Sunday from 12:30 to 6:30 p.m. Alternative times available by

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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: 

To get Corey Johnson's attention, East River Park activists chain themselves to tree at City Hall

Yesterday morning, two local activists, identified as JK Canepa and Jmac, chained themselves to a tree outside City Hall to demand Council Speaker Corey Johnson allow an oversight hearing for East River Park.

Other activists from East River Park Action were also on hand during the day.   

To date, Johnson has refused to hold an emergency hearing on the pending demolition of the park. He has also not provided any comments as to why. 

Per Curbed yesterday afternoon:
Johnson has not yet got in touch with the group, though a representative from the mayor's office has and is mediating between his office and the demonstrators. That's not going to get anyone unlocked though. "We don't want a meeting," Canepa said. "We want an oversight hearing, and we want to hear it from Corey himself."
This fall, workers are expected to start razing the 57.5-acre park and cutting down the 1,000 mature trees, and eventually rebuilding the park atop eight feet of landfill as part of the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project

East River Park Action other advocates say there are better ways to preserve the park and provide flood protection, such as the one mapped out in the years after Sandy. In late 2018, the city surprised community stakeholders by announcing a complete overhaul of a plan discussed over four years of local meetings.

In October 2019, the city announced that they would phase in the construction, so only portions of the park are closed to the public at any given time. 

MAJOR changes coming to the aisles of Key Food

Top photo from the collection of EVG; all others by Stacie Joy 

If you've been inside Key Food on Avenue A and Fourth Street in recent days, then you likely noticed some changes... especially on aisle 2, where the non-dairy milk brands moved across the aisle and now featuring seemingly more varieties...
Meanwhile, the apple sauce randomly took over the former nut milk space on the shelf in aisle 2. 

Anyway, Key Food sources tell EVG contributor Stacie Joy that this is JUST the beginning of a renovation that will see some significant changes in how you navigate the aisles.

Here's what we know so far. 

Remember the bulk paper towels randomly placed atop the freezer section in aisle 1? 

Those bulk items are now across from the milk/eggs/dairy section, where shoppers may actually be able to reach them...
But what about the nuts, Pringles and rando candy that used to be here? 

And as if aisle 2 could hold any more new items, crackers and cookies are here now too...
There are other shelving switcheroos underway that we have yet to track...
Arguably the biggest change is coming to aisle 1... and the freezer section (ice cream, pizza, etc.)
Key Food sources tell us that the freezers are being moved AWAY from aisle 1, which will eventually feature an expanded produce area. Also gone from this aisle: those random middle tables offering up potatoes and onions and stuff.

It's not immediately clear where the aisle 1 freezers will go. (Our source didn't even know.) Many things are being moved, added, subtracted.

All work is scheduled to be completed by Thanksgiving. No word yet if any of these moves will necessitate altering the grocery's 24/7 schedule. 

To be continued... 

Afternoon bringing Korean hot dogs, mochi doughnuts and croffles to St. Mark's Place

Afternoon is setting up a one-stop trendy-food eating destination at 34 St. Mark's Place between Second Avenue and Third Avenue (thanks to Steven for the photos)...
Here's more about Afternoon via their website:
Anytime is the right time to visit Afternoon, the ultimate one-stop destination for what you're craving. Our well-curated selection of the hottest food and beverage brands allows you to enjoy multiple drinking and dining destinations all under one roof. There's something for everyone at Afternoon…what are you in the mood for today?
Brands under this roof will include Jongro Rice Hotdog, Machi Machi (bubble teas, etc.), Mochi Mochi Donut, Brooklyn Roasting Company and Croffle Haus (croissant dough baked in a waffle iron).

Afternoon currently has outposts out in Bayside and in Koreatown. Five more area locations (including St. Mark's Place) are in the works.

Meanwhile, the like-minded Mochinut, the quickly expanding California-born chain known for its mochi doughnuts and Korean-style hot dogs, just opened around the corner on Second Avenue.

Afternoon is taking over half of the former Khyber Pass space. (The other half is Lucky Star, the recently opened 1950s-style ice-cream shop.)  Khyber Pass, which dated to the mid-1980s, quietly closed during the pandemic. 

The new-look SW corner of 1st Avenue and 3rd Street

From the EVG tipline... the plywood came down yesterday on the southwest corner of First Avenue and Third Street... providing a look at the renovated storefront.

As previously reported here, a cafe "specializing in small, handmade wines" is in the works for the space from the owners of Urban Wine & Spirits a few storefronts away. 

Old-timer Exquisite Cleaners shut down here in the summer of 2020 as the pandemic wreaked havoc on the dry-cleaner business.

Desi Stop Deli signage arrives on 2nd Avenue

Two weeks ago, we mentioned that a new Indian restaurant called Desi Stop was coming to 75 Second Ave. between Fourth Street and Fifth Street. 

The signage is now up... and it's actually going by Desi Stop Deli...
Signage points to a 100-percent vegetarian establishment... though we don't know if this will be a quick-serve place (as the Deli name implies) or a restaurant with a dining room. Or maybe both! We should find out quickly enough with the promise of an "opening soon" sign on the door. 

Desi Stop takes over for Nostro Ristorante, which debuted in October 2019. The Italian restaurant reopened briefly late in the spring of 2020 for pandemic-era takeout and delivery but closed soon after.

Thanks to Steven for the photos! 

The Mayfly debuts on East Houston

The Mayfly debuted yesterday at 269 E. Houston St. 

As previously reported, the bar-restaurant is from the team behind Gael Pub, Trinity Pub and Juke Bar, among others. This place has been in the works dating back to the fall of 2019. (There was previously an April 2020 opening date, though the pandemic put all that on hold.)

You can follow them on Instagram for updates. (Checking on hours of operation. They opened yesterday at 4 p.m.)

The space on the southeast corner of Houston and Suffolk has seen its share of bars come and go through the years. It has sat empty since Suffolk Arms shuttered in 2018 after two-plus years. 

Thanks to Vinny & O for the photo!

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Scone mania: At Mary O's, an Irish blessing and 20,000 pounds of self-raising flour

Photos by Stacie Joy

As you may recallHumans of New York featured Mary O'Halloran, the proprietor of Mary O's, the 11-year-old Irish pub at 32 Avenue A between Second Street and Third Street, in early August. (Here's her story, courtesy of Brandon Stanton, about 
trying to keep her business alive while also caring for her six children.)

On a Thursday evening in August, Stanton followed up with a special promotion — the limited edition Mary O's "HONY" Irish soda bread scones. Stanton shared the deal with his more than 20 million social media followers worldwide. According to an Instagram post from Stanton, they took in more than $1 million in orders for scones by the end of the night.

Impressive, but there were some immediate logistical concerns. Such as! How to bake roughly 200,000 scones from Mary O's small kitchen.

There is a solution: Over the next two months, O'Halloran and some helpers will use the large ovens in the basement kitchen of St. Francis Xavier Church on West 16th Street to create these orders.

Fast forward to early last week, when 20,000 pounds of self-raising Irish flour was delivered (via Dublin) to Mary O's. To start the project, "the flour was infused with an Irish blessing by Mary herself, in an ancient ceremony featuring electric candles," as Stanton wrote in a Facebook post. (You can watch a video of the ceremony on Facebook.)

EVG contributor Stacie Joy stopped by Mary O's to watch part of the flour-blessing ceremony...
The next steps will include packing up boxes of scones for delivery and preparing the 7,000 pounds of homemade blackberry jam to accompany them...

Airbnb strike: Authorities impound vans used for overnight stays in the East Village

You may have noticed fewer vans parked on East Village streets. 

Late last week, the city Sheriff's office and the NYPD Document Fraud Unit discovered an "operation of alleged fraudulent and illegally registered vehicles being used as Airbnb rentals," Sheriff Joseph Fucito told the New York Post

Five of the seven vans, which reportedly had New Jersey plates and expired tags, were parked in the East Village. California-based journalist/video creator Uptin Saiidi recently slept in a 1999 Ford Econoline parked on Second Street — for $97 a night. 

Spoiler: He was glad he did this for a night but would never do it again...


As for the recently confiscated vans, it wasn't clear if the same person owned all of them. 

Back to the Post:
Sleeping overnight in a van is legal, according to the city's Department of Transportation — provided it’s not parked in the same spot for 24 hours in restricted areas. 
When parking is not otherwise restricted, no person shall park any vehicle in any area, including a residential area, in excess of seven consecutive days, the agency's rules note. 
Fines typically start at $115, the NYPD has said. The Sheriff’s office did not comment further except to say the "investigation in this matter is ongoing."
The van listings have since been removed from Airbnb, per CBS 2

A few weeks back, EVG contributor Stacie Joy spoke with this traveler from Toronto who rented a van on Third Street between Avenue A and Avenue B for $85 a night. (Not sure if the authorities confiscated this van.)
According to Stacie, the guest was excited about this Airbnb adventure. He was not worried about the lack of a bathroom or shower. (The Airbnb host leaves suggestions for nearby businesses to use the restroom and options for showers.)

Stacie climbed in for a moment and noted that it was clean but hot and stuffy. The front seats were empty — and drapes were partitioning them from the bed in the back. The keys also did not work in the ignition.

As ABC-7 noted, authorities dubbed this impounding as — no kidding — "Operation Room Service." 

Thanks to all the readers who shared these links. Top photo via @NYCSHERIFF.