Wednesday, November 30, 2022


Multiple readers shared this clip via @whatisnewyork... someone decided to scatter the rats gathered in trashbags outside 13 (and 15) St. Mark's Place between Second Avenue and Third Avenue...

6 posts from November

A mini month in review... 

• Baker Falls will bring together a cafe, bar and the Knitting Factory at the former Pyramid Club on Avenue A (Nov. 28

• The last days of Raul’s Barber Shop (Nov. 26

• Middle Collegiate Church seeks permission to demolish the remaining façade of its fire-damaged structure on 2nd Avenue (Nov. 22

• A visit with Moxie, a nearly 8-year-old East Village photographer with an eye for nature (Nov. 16

• A visit to Azaleas, celebrating 20 years in the East Village (Nov. 15

• Basquiat's former loft space on Great Jones is available for lease (Nov. 7)

Tree down on 3rd Street

At 12:30 on this windswept afternoon, this tree came down on Third Street between First Avenue and Second Avenue outside Maryhouse, where 30 minutes earlier, the organization run by the Catholic Worker was just opening for lunch...
Felton Davis of Maryhouse, who shared these photos, said: "Now everyone is asking each other: What if I had walked up a few minutes late? Or what if I had been crossing the street right next to the tree?" 

The FDNY arrived on the scene to clear the tree from the street...

Lower East Side mainstay El Sombrero has closed

Photos and reporting by Stacie Joy 

El Sombrero, aka the Hat, which has anchored the corner of Ludlow and Stanton Street for decades, will not be reopening. 

Paper has covered the front windows here, leading to speculation about the Mexican restaurant's future. 

Owners Junior and Judy Almonte, seen here on Monday, confirmed the closure to EVG correspondent Stacie Joy...
Pandemic aside, Junior cited the rising food costs and challenges of hiring staff as well as some personal health concerns as the reasons behind the decision to close. 

Distance was also an issue, as the couple, who have four children, now live in New Jersey.

While the restaurant is closing, the Almontes said that they may reopen in another location at some point. Meanwhile, Junior said that they were selling items and supplies from the restaurant. (Interested parties can contact them via social media.)
El Sombrero first opened in 1984, and was known for cheap eats and potent margaritas, which for a time, were available to go. 

With business in decline, the restaurant closed in March 2014 ... Junior, related to the original owners, refurbished the space and reopened it in November 2014
Given this high-profile LES corner, it's hard to imagine the space staying vacant for long. Artichoke Basille's Pizza was a 2014 suitor, though those plans never materialized.

Wafles & Dinges and Bobwhite Counter among the vendors at the incoming Zero Irving food hall

Coming soon signage is up now for the food hall coming to Zero Irving (formerly the Union Square Tech Training Center, 14 @ Irving and tech hub) at 124 E. 14th St. (Thanks to Pinch for the photo!)

There are 13 vendors listed, including some familiar EV names — Wafles & Dinges and Bobwhite Counter.

As previously noted, at least 25% of the food hall — via Urbanspace — is reserved for use by first-time entrepreneurs or start-up companies operating for less than four years.

The vendors occupy 10,000 square feet on the ground level with an outdoor patio. The Urbanspace website lists a December 2022 opening.

The 21-floor Zero Irvingdeveloped 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, co-working and event spaces on the seven floors beneath.

Long contested by local preservationists and community groups, the new building sits on the former site of a P.C. Richard & Son on city-owned property here at Irving Place.

Foundation work started here in August 2019. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Commemorating World AIDS Day at the Tompkins Square Library branch

On World AIDS Day this Thursday (Dec. 1), the Tompkins Square Library branch is presenting an online viewing of  "Silence = Death," a video performance by Blow Up Percussion (Rome).

Per the library's website:
The 24-minute-long video, which will be available from noon to midnight on the Library’s website, includes a list of the names of many New Yorkers who died of AIDS; the list of names continues long after the music climaxes and ends in a silent memorial to the friends and family members lost to a pandemic that continues to this day. AIDS has killed more than 40 million people.

Brooke Smith revisits the neighborhood's 1980s hardcore scene with 'Sunday Matinee'

All photos by Brooke Smith/reposted with permission 

As an unhappy teen growing up in Rockland County in the 1980s, Brooke Smith found solace riding the 9A bus into the city. 

Once here, she'd take the A train to West Fourth Street. One day decided to keep walking on Eighth Street into the East Village and onto St. Mark's Place. 

Here, she found her home, a place where she felt as if she belonged. 
Today, Smith, now based in Los Angeles, has made a name for herself in films (Buffalo Bill's plucky would-be victim in the Oscar-winning "The Silence of the Lambs") and television ("Grey's Anatomy," "Ray Donovan"). 

While preparing to move about 12 years ago, Smith found a cardboard box full of the photos she took in the 1980s while part of the punk/hardcore scene on the Lower East Side. This discovery eventually led to a solo show at Primary Gallery

These photos are the subject of a new photo book, "Sunday Matinee," which features hundreds of photographs of the East Village in the mid-1980s and bands such as Bad Brains, Agnostic Front, Cro-Mags, Murphy's Law, Warzone and others. There are also recollections by band members and others involved in the scene.
Smith answered some questions in a recent email exchange with EVG... 

What initially compelled you to venture down to the city as a teen? 

I was very much an outsider in my hometown and high school. I was overweight and listened to WFMU radio a lot — punk and alternative music, which no one in my school was into. My mom worked in the city, and I started going in with her as a child. 

By the time I was 13 or 14, I felt comfortable enough to take the bus alone to the GW Bridge and then the subway downtown. Initially, I got off at West 4th street and walked around, but I soon felt compelled to go further and further east. I loved St Mark's Place and I met people in the East Village and eventually wound up at CBGB. Later, I got a job as the bag check girl at Trash & Vaudeville and then did the same thing at The Ritz.
Describe your mood change as you were leaving Rockland County and entering NYC on the bus, eventually making your way down to the East Village/LES.

I started meeting people and making friends... and you know how you just know who ‘your' people are when you meet them? I mean, like you recognize them? That’s how it felt, like coming home, genuinely.

The East Village felt like it belonged to us. It was a bit like the Wild West back then, and it felt like there was always a possibility in the air. We didn’t have cell phones then, so you had to get out and find people. 

You carried a Minolta with you. When did the interest in photography come about? 

Photography was one of the only classes I liked in high school, so I always had my camera with me. Plus, I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin, so even if I wanted to be a lead singer or a musician, I was too insecure. Having my camera meant I could hide behind it but still be right up in the center of the action. 

The people in the portraits on the streets and sidewalk look at ease in front of your camera. Were you known in the hardcore community as someone always taking photos? Did it take a while for you to build up the confidence to approach people? 

It did take a little time. I only took portraits of my friends. Back then, when people used to drive by CBGB or Tompkins Square Park and try to take photos of us punks, we would always make them pay us! I think I was known as someone who was always taking pics, along with Amy Keim and BJ Papas, and a few other women in the scene.
Looking back at the book and all the images, what is an enduring memory of this period in your life? 

I loved it all. And all those people in the photos, so many of whom are gone. I remember late nights when we would all hang out with the homeless in Tompkins Square and have bonfires in those mesh garbage cans and share our stories with each other. It was a real neighborhood, and I can remember so many of the characters… everyone from Ray — who’s still there at 90, serving the best shakes and egg creams in NYC — to that guy who would always cover his face with a newspaper if you tried to make eye contact. 

I remember exactly when I felt it was time to move on from the scene. I was at the pizza place on St Mark's and Avenue A with these new kids I'd just met. I explained to them that my little brother had died in a surfing accident a week before, and I just remember feeling, at that very moment, that my time there was done. It was time for me to grow up.
What were some ways this scene helped you forge your identity? 

There was no separation between audience and performer. It was our scene, and we were doing it for ourselves, not to get rich or famous. So I think that helped me. I learned to trust my instincts as an artist, and to stay true to myself and to always be authentic. 

What do you hope that people take away from "Sunday Matinee"? 

It’s a love letter to that time and place and especially those people. I hope people get the message to be themselves. Don’t try to fit in. If you can find a group of people, or even just one other person who shares your interests, you can create whatever you want.
This Saturday, Smith will be signing copies of the book from 5-7 p.m. at Generation Records, 210 Thompson St. in Greenwich Village. There's an after-party at 9 p.m. at 96 Tears, 110 Avenue A at Seventh Street (the former Tompkins Square Bar). Find out more about the book here.

A new Aura for 1st Avenue

Signage is up now for Aura, which is the new establishment from the owners of Cafe Mocha here at 111 First Ave. just south of Seventh Street. (Thanks to Steven for the photo!)

Cafe Mocha was wiped out by a three-alarm fire in February 2020 at 48 E. Seventh St./116 Second Ave. Any hopes for a reopening were dashed when another fire destroyed the corner building in December 2020

No. 111 became available when Suki Japanese Kitchen relocated to St. Mark's Place this past summer.

Cafe Mocha first opened in the East Village in 2008. No word on when the new all-day cafe will debut. 

Monday, November 28, 2022

Monday's parting shot

Thanks to @nycsouthpaw for sharing this photo... of members of FDNY's Engine Company 5 (station on 14th Street near First Avenue) buying their tree from the Tree Riders on 10th Street and Second Avenue...

Today in tight, dangerous turns

As seen earlier today on 13th Street at Third Avenue... thanks to William Klayer for sharing these...

Generation next: Baker Falls will bring together a cafe, bar and the Knitting Factory at the former Pyramid Club on Avenue A

Photos and reporting by Stacie Joy

Baker Falls is an ambitious new project that combines an all-day cafe, bar and live music via the Knitting Factory brand at the former Pyramid Club at 101 Avenue A. 

East Village resident Nick Bodor, who has owned and operated several local businesses in the past 25-plus years, is behind this new concept that's expected to open in the first quarter of 2023. (He received approval from CB3 for a new liquor license in December 2021.) 

"We plan to operate a café, with coffee service during the day, happy hour, live performances, DJs — all with a rock-n-roll feel," he said during an interview with EVG contributor Stacie Joy last week. 

Bodor previously sought to revive and combine several of his former concepts, including the music venue, bar and cafe Cake Shop (2005-2016 on Ludlow Street) and alt-coffee (1995-2007 on Avenue A). However, CB3 did not approve this for the former Meatball Shop space on Stanton Street in the spring of 2021

"Once I saw Pyramid Club was closing, I thought it would be great to just buy that. I sent around a letter looking for investors to my circle of friends and contacts," said Bodor, who's an owner of the Library on Avenue A. "Historically, my projects have been underfunded, and if I'm ready to do another project I wanted a cushion, a certain amount of money. So friends were willing to invest, and then Knitting Factory CEO Morgan Margolis reached out and said he was interested." 

The Pyramid closed this past October after 40-plus years in business between Sixth Street and Seventh Street. The club ushered in an era of socially-conscious drag performances featuring Lady Bunny, Lypsinka and RuPaul, among many other trailblazers. As a music venue, the Pyramid hosted Nirvana's first NYC show in 1989. 

Bodor outlined his plans for the two-level space in a building that dates to the 1870s and falls within the East Village/Lower East Side Historic District... and provided Stacie with a tour of the former Pyramid before the renovations commenced. 

"Upstairs, we aren't planning on making too many changes. The bar stays where it is," he said. "We want people who have been to the space in the last 40 years to recognize it. You will see the old 1987 Knitting Factory logo up in the back. Initial programming will be suggested by Knitting Factory Presents, but we also plan to have strong LGBTQ programming and emerging comics and hope to inspire young bands."
One change coming on this main level: "We are going to install a lot of soundproofing," Bodor said. "A big part of our budget will be for soundproofing." 

Bodor is also planning on some all-ages Sunday matinees. And while there won't be an '80s Dance Party, a staple of the former Pyramid, he may host a Goth Night. 

And on the lower level? 

"Downstairs has a 68-seat capacity, and it's what I call a 'fever-dream' or manor house in terms of décor. Decrepit-looking wallpaper, vintage lamps and amps," he said. "We plan to have tables and chairs and great curated playlists."
Baker Falls will have an electric kitchen for food service and a non-alcoholic drinks program. 

The business will also be a family affair. Bodor's 19-year-old son Angus will have a hand in the day-to-day activities here.
For the Knitting Factory's Margolis, the collaboration at Baker Falls is a homecoming of sorts. The first Knitting Factory opened in 1987 on Houston Street near Mulberry. In August, the Knitting Factory's only NYC outpost closed after 13 years of hosting live music and comedy on Metropolitan Avenue in Brooklyn. 

"It felt like the right time to be back in Manhattan, and this location is and has always been a hotbed for artists, musicians, locals, students and community with a melting pot of so many different cultures," said Margolis, who was born and raised around the corner on Sixth Street, in an email to EVG. 

"Plus, I saw some of the coolest shows at Pyramid decades ago, and I grew up in that area — a lot of memories of running the streets free as a kid. Way before cell phones and the internet. Way before it was 'cool,'" he said. "When I think about the roots of the Knitting Factory in New York, I think 'grit' and back to basics. So here we are." 

For Bodor, he's excited about creating a new era with Baker Falls. 

"We want to honor the history of the Pyramid Club but in a new way," he said. "This isn't just a club — it’s a communal gathering space. Food service, coffee, drinks — a community hub where you can meet and work. We want it to be multi-generational."
Previously on EV Grieve

Why the area behind the fieldhouse in Tompkins Square Park has been locked

Photos and reporting by Stacie Joy

As previously reported, the area of Tompkins Square Park behind the fieldhouse/office has been locked to the public since Nov. 8. Since then, park-goers have not had access to the space that includes the Slocum Memorial Fountain as well as picnic tables, sprinklers (during the summer) and other less-traveled spaces. 

There isn't any signage to explain why this part of Tompkins is no longer accessible to the public.
One Park worker previously said this happened after Sue Donoghue, commissioner of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, paid a visit and saw used needles in this area. (The Parks Department did not respond to previous requests for comment.)

This past week, Parks employees told EVG contributor Stacie Joy that there is a broken pipe in the basement of the fieldhouse, which required them to shut down this part of the Park. The restrooms are currently closed back here.

The employees provided Stacie with access to the currently locked space...
The workers said the closure had nothing to do with the uptick in drug use (and a reported OD), though they admitted the area had been used for drug activity.

Parks officials hope to have the pipe and building repaired and then will reopen the area. No set date, just "hopefully soon." 

The Parks employees also said that people have been cutting through the netting and getting over the fence to access this space, which has interrupted/delayed the repair time.

The Parks Department is expected to rebuild the fieldhouse. According to the Parks Department website, the city has been awarded the contract to a contractor ... and is awaiting registration via the Comptroller's Office. 

Once construction starts, work is expected to take 12-18 months, per the Parks Department.

About the ongoing removal of the former Kindred curbside dining structure

Top photo by Jefferson Siegel/2nd photo by Steven 

This past Wednesday, workers continued removing the curbside dining structure from outside the former Kindred space on Sixth Street at First Avenue. 

Workers took down one section starting in early November...and several weeks passed before the demolition resumed.

As previously noted, the Department of Transportation placed a termination notice here on Oct. 15... giving 24 hours' notice that the city would remove the structure, which never happened. 

This is how the outdoors looked yesterday ...
We asked Kindred partner Moshe Schulman about what is happening here. 

"The city did flag us and wanted to take down all of [the curbside dining], but we were in process of securing a new tenant, so I worked with DOT to hold off on taking anything down until we had a clearer idea of what the plan was," Schulman said via email. "The new tenant only wanted one patio so we took down the second portion and left one up for them to handle." 

He was unaware that the (unnamed) incoming tenant had most of the remaining structure discarded. 

Schulman, who also operates Ruffian on Seventh Street, said that it was in great condition "but they must have a plan." 

Kindred's outdoor structure was one of the better spaces around... and during the day, starting in September 2020, they rented tables to remote workers for $25 per person, which included coffee, WiFi and bathroom access

 "[We] spent a lot of time detailing it and building it to be a great space," he said of the efforts to offer a remote work option to residents as well as create a revenue source for Kindred during the pandemic. 

Kindred closed on Aug. 14 after two-plus years in service.

Meanwhile, in an op-ed for Streetsblog last week, local City Councilmember Carlina Rivera called for a more creative and bold outdoor dining program, and for another Council hearing on the matter. 

An excerpt:
In order to get our bearings in our post-pandemic "new normal," a thoughtful reset of this program is necessary, with the allocation of the appropriate resources to protect safety and enforce rules. The City Council should hold a fair hearing to give the public the opportunity to weigh in on the future of the program, in a way that maximizes its potential for businesses and protects the quality of life of residents. 

The makeshift dining enclosures we see that are worn down and immovable are not reflective of the path forward. The lack of enforcement of the temporary program has led to excessive garbage and pests, narrowed sidewalks, and noise late into the night. These impacts on neighborhoods are undeniable, and can be addressed with meaningful reforms, strict enforcement, and straightforward guidelines that support small businesses without disrupting our communities.

Streetsblog noted that a second public hearing likely isn't happening. 

Sunday, November 27, 2022

[Updated] Employee from Ray's Pizza in critical condition after an early morning hit and run

Updated 11/29

The employee, Lucas Jimenez-Aburto, has died from his injuries sustained in the hit and run, amNY reported.
Cops say Jimenez-Aburto was crossing 3rd Avenue against the signal when he was struck by a motorist traveling northbound with a green light, but well above the speed limit. The driver fled the scene, and police have not positively identified the perpetrator or their vehicle.

We don't know anything more than what was already been reported.
According to the Daily News
A hit-and-run driver struck and critically injured a man leaving work in the East Village early Sunday. Police found the 53-year-old victim unconscious about 5:45 a.m. on St. Mark's Place near Third Ave. with head injuries consistent with being struck by a vehicle, police said.

PIX 11 reported the man worked at Ray's Pizza & Bagel Cafe on the SE corner of the block. Police do not yet have a description of the vehicle involved, per ABC 7.

The entry onto St. Mark's Place has been compressed with the new building construction on the NE corner.

Week in Grieview

Posts from this past holiday week included (with a photo last night from Seventh Street by Derek Berg) ... 

• Middle Collegiate Church seeks permission to demolish the remaining façade of its fire-damaged structure on 2nd Avenue (Tuesday)

• The last days of Raul’s Barber Shop (Saturday

• 96 Tears debuts on Avenue A as a tribute to Howie Pyro (Monday)

• The 2022 Cookie Walk has been canceled (Monday

• Check out the crime noir 'The Crusaders,' filmed in the East Village (Saturday

• Distributing free turkeys to local residents ahead of Thanksgiving (Thursday

• A quick visit to Butterdose, now open on 13th Street (Tuesday

• Report: City's first NFT restaurant slated for the former Sunshine Cinema location on Houston (Monday

• An Instagram account to follow (Wednesday

• Some of the very best of Donald Sutherland at Metrograph (Wednesday

• A Snack Stop for St. Mark's Place (Monday

• Shake Shack signage appears outside new Lower East Side outpost (Tuesday

• Where you'll be able to find the Goodies on the Bowery (Monday

... and the solar-powered lights via the Parks Department that arrived early last month on Seventh Street and Avenue A were recently moved inside Tompkins Square Park to the chess tables (night chess?) ... and we finally saw them in use Friday evening ... (thanks Stacie Joy for the pic!)... the regulars here decamped to nearby benches...
Follow EVG on Instagram or Twitter for more frequent updates and pics.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Check out the crime noir 'The Crusaders,' filmed in the East Village

"The Crusaders," a 24-minute crime drama filmed entirely in the East Village, is now available to view on YouTube

This is the first film for Maxx Starr, co-owner of Fun City Tattoo on St. Mark's Place, who wrote and directed the short whose locations include International Bar on First Avenue and Nublu Classic on Avenue C. 

You'll recognize some familiar East Village faces as well, including lead Tessa Gourin and veteran character actor Peter Greene. You can watch it here

Previously on EV Grieve


Photos by Stacie Joy 

A comfy chair without "bugs or badness" up for grabs on Third Street between Avenue A and Avenue B...

The last days of Raul’s Barber Shop

Photos by Stacie Joy 

After 60-plus years on Avenue B, Raul's Barber Shop has closed its doors

First, a quick bit of positive news: Raul's already secured a new location nearby and will be up and running very soon. As for 11 Avenue B between Houston and Second Street ... Steve Croman took over as landlord in 2020, and that's all you need to know. 

Raul Velez Sr. has been at the head of his eponymous barber shop for 61 years...he and his son Junior still run the business. 

EVG contributor Stacie Joy stopped by for a last look at the space, which includes murals created by Antonio "Chico" Garcia...
We will have more about Raul's new outpost in the days ahead... when it's going as Jay Joe's Classic Cuts at 256 E. Third St. between Avenue B and Avenue C...

Friday, November 25, 2022

Oh yeah


A Thanksgiving palate cleanser with the Osees... from a recent six-song performance on Seattle's KEXP. 

The Los Angeles-based band will be out at Brooklyn Made on Dec. 16-17.

Enjoy the Tree Ride!

The Tree Riders are now offically open for their 12th season on Second Avenue between 10th Street and 11th Street outside St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery. (Thanks to William Klayer for the photo!

Revisit our feature on them here.

EVG Etc.: NYCHA residents demand repair reforms; The Drunken Canal announces last issue

Some recent headlines (with a photo yesterday on Avenue A at 14th Street via EVG reader Doug)... 

 • NYCHA residents from the East Village and Lower East Side call on the mayor and NYCHA officials to improve its repair process and how it maintains the city's aging government housing (ABC 7 ... amNY

• The state's cannabis regulatory board approved 36 of potentially 175 pot-selling licenses Monday — with at least 13 of them to be based in NYC (The City

• To honor World AIDS Day, the Anthology Film Archives in Second Avenue and Second Street will present two programs as part of Day With(out) Art (Details here

• NYC theater on a budget with some EV options (Gothamist)

• Danny Fields is giving Iggy Pop history lessons (Page Six)

• Actress Spencer Grammer recalls trying to break up a fight in August 2020 outside Black Ant on Second Avenue (People... previously on EVG

• Recently opened Broome Street gallery champions women artists of color (Artsy

• Anna Sorokin self-promotion tour continues from her East Village apartment (Variety

• NYC's best wine bars are on the LES says this article (Condé Nast Traveler) ... The Times has its own list, with some EV picks, right here.

• LES history as seen through Seward Park (The Bowery Boys

• Christo, Amelia and raptor season (Laura Goggin Photography

... and the editors of The Drunken Canal, conceived in the East Village, announced its final issue...