Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Wednesday's parting shot

Photo by William Klayer 

A set late this afternoon by Twisted Wrist outside St. Mark's Church-in-the-Bowery on Second Avenue and 10th Street... (check them out some time...) 

6 posts from May

A mini-month in review (and belated HBD to Joey Ramone this past May 19)... 

• Inside the East Village 'respite center' for asylum seekers (May 30)

• At the new home of The Joyce, which aims to be a hub for the performing arts in the East Village (May 23) 

• This East Village resident is bringing a classic 82-year-old radio back to broadcasting life (May 18

• With Community Board approval, Sammy's Roumanian Steak House takes another step to returning to the Lower East Side (May 16

• Mayor Adams visits Tompkins Square Park (May 15

• After deadly collapse, city issues vacate order at the Little Man Parking garage on 9th Street (May 2)

Missed meal deliveries and a need for basics: the developing situation at the East Village respite center for asylum seekers

Photos and text by Stacie Joy 
Part two in our ongoing coverage of the asylum seeker
respite center in the East Village 

An asylum seeker asked me where he could get a job. He said his fellow asylum seekers are asking everywhere and are desperate to work — any kind of work. 

Two people showed me immigration paperwork that had them set to appear in Texas and Philadelphia, respectively, tomorrow. I use Google translate to help me with complicated translation — and they ask how far Texas is and if it’s possible to “get a ticket there.” 

Several people (most from Colombia) show me paperwork for BI SmartLINK. This immigration phone app can monitor them and provide case management, but they don’t have Wi-Fi or cellular service, so they can’t make their scheduled phone appointments. I asked some local businesses near the site — the former St. Brigid's School on Seventh Street and Avenue B — if they could share Wi-Fi passwords, but they all declined. 

I am also told that meals didn’t show up again yesterday, and folks are hungry. C&B Café donates some items: croissants, focaccia, donuts, sourdough — and the bags are empty before everyone gets something to eat. I contacted EVLovesNYC again to plan for another Sunday delivery — but their funds are dwindling. They believe they can do 100 meals for Sunday, and we talk about how to maximize meal planning on a budget. 

At this point, the site is being monitored 24/7 by officers from the 9th Precinct. None have been inside the site, and they tell me that the orders have come from high up the command chain, above the Precinct’s commanding officer — to monitor all the respite center sites, not just the one in the East Village. I ask if they can turn the flashing lights off, which they do. They seem mostly interested in being helpful but unsure exactly how to do so. 

I had spotted a sign warning about a “men’s shelter” (misspelled as a “men shetler”) opening up in Tompkins Square Park, at the playground near Seventh Street and Avenue B. I ask the officers if they expect protests, but they say no; they have no reason to believe there will be any problems. They just want to make sure everything is calm on the street.
As calm as things are outside, things are reaching a breaking point inside. During a meal distribution several days ago, State Assemblymember Harvey Epstein arrived for a scheduled facility tour. The site supervisor instructs the NYCEM (NYC Emergency Management) and Medrite (city subcontractor) teams to block and pin him to the wall. 

They keep him restrained even after they are made aware that he’s a local elected official representing the district the center is located in. Epstein explains that Mayor Adam’s senior advisor Diane Savino made the appointment for him, but no one seems inclined to allow him in, and he is escorted out. To date, he hasn’t been allowed to see the facility. 

On Monday, we take all the community-donated clothes and supplies and set up a Free Store outside the center. Nearly 100 of the asylum seekers line up to receive supplies, and in a touching twist, they all step aside and announce “women first,” and the women come and claim their clothes and supplies before the men. I am charmed by that.
What starts as a line soon devolves into a free-for-all as people swarm the tables. We received dozens and dozens of bags of clothing and donated items, and after about 30 minutes, we had just a few leftover items. I explain that we’ll be back again on Thursday with more stuff.
I get requests for chancletas, sneakers, sweatpants, underwear, jeans, T-shirts, cell phones. I try to write down special requests (women’s underwear size small, jeans with a 32 waist), but I am also told that many people won’t be there when I return. They are being shipped upstate, and it’s hard for me to know if they want to go or have no choice. 

One staffer lets me in to drop off the rest of the clothing, and I notice something optimistic: The coffeepot — previously deemed an unacceptable item — has finally been set up and is clearly being used by everyone. I smile; it’s a good sign.
If you’d like to help, donations of adult clothes (there are no children or infants at this location), bedding and towels, backpacks, and toiletries are welcome during four upcoming drop-off dates. 

Items can be brought to Epstein’s office at 107-109 Avenue B at Seventh Street on the following dates and times: 

• Thursday, June 1, 3-5:30 p.m.
• Tuesday, June 6, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. 
• Thursday, June 8, 3-5:30 p.m. 
• Tuesday, June 13, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. 

Previously on EV Grieve: 

Avenue A deli news in review

Photos and reporting by Stacie Joy 

The East Village New Deli has gone dark at 115 Avenue A between Seventh Street and St. Mark's Place. Workers have been gutting the space and hauling out the shop's equipment in the past week. 

Door signage notes that counter staff Joe and Munch are now working a few storefronts to the north ... the 14-month-old Avenue A Deli and Grill...
Avenue A Deli's manager said that Joe and Munch will be at his shop for the morning shift, 7 a.m. until around 4 p.m., making sandwiches and working the grill.
No official word just yet on what might be next for the East Village New Deli space. (Bring back Alphabets!)

Bagel Market out of commission for now

The gates have been down in recent weeks at Bagel Market, 238 E. 14th St. between Second Avenue and Third Avenue ... sparking speculation that the shop had closed after three-plus months in business

The closure is, ownership hopes, temporary. 

In an Instagram message, they said there was a leak from the unit above the kitchen, "and it destroyed our oven." And the next steps? "We have ordered an oven and negotiations with the landlord are still ongoing." 

Bagel Market's four other NYC locations remain open.

The previous tenant didn't have much better luck here. The Bagel Boss chainlet opened a location here in July 2021, and they closed several months later in October for, per management, "gas and electric problems" in the building. Bagel Boss never reopened here.  

H/T Pinch!

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Sprucing up the damaged American Elm in Tompkins Square Park

Photos by Steven 

Workers have finished removing the branch that fell from this American Elm on Sunday afternoon near the Avenue A and St. Mark's Place entrance to Tompkins Square Park. 

Witnesses said it appeared the branch came close to a man in a wheelchair. 

In some positive news, it appears the rest of the tree will be able to remain here...
And a look at the fallen limb from yesterday... which took out a section of the Park fence...

Inside the East Village 'respite center' for asylum seekers

Photos and text by Stacie Joy 
First in an ongoing series (part 1 is here)
Editor's note: To protect the asylum seekers, our published photos
do not include names, faces or personal details.

According to the online publication The City, a half-dozen sites in NYC now serve as what the Adams administration refers to as respite centers for asylum seekers, including the former St. Brigid’s School, which closed in the spring of 2019.

“They’re basically like waiting rooms until we can find a placement for somebody,” an official for Mayor Adams told The City.

After reading this article by Gwynne Hogan and Haidee Chu, I went to the school on Seventh Street and Avenue B — last used by unvaccinated teachers to conduct remote learning — to see if I could help provide food, clothing, or personal care items for the hundreds of people expected here in the days and weeks ahead.
On my first trip, around 75 individuals had arrived at the destination. I had brought along donated items such as food and clothing, intending to inquire about the specific needs of new arrivals for their short-term stay. 

However, it became apparent that the demand was immense at the center that first opened its doors this past Thursday. Many people arrived without shoes, and nearly everyone possessed only the clothes they wore, lacking any personal belongings. 

Those fortunate enough to have phones were eager to locate a Wi-Fi connection to communicate with their families, yet the center had no access. The situation was distressing, with many people visibly upset and exhausted from their long journey. Some quietly approached me, requesting coffee or Tylenol to alleviate their headaches. 

Most of the people I spoke with were Spanish or French speakers, and I met asylum seekers from Venezuela, Ecuador and Mauritania, among other locations.

The newcomers arrived to this space via MTA buses, and their numbers increased daily. (I was informed that the facility could accommodate up to 350 adults.) Upon arrival, they underwent a processing procedure at the center, receiving a lanyard and an ID card featuring a QR code. 

They were then directed to the designated area where cots were placed and presented with a welcome packet. The basement, which served as the primary location for the cots, was uncomfortably cold, and the only provisions provided by local officials were thin blankets adorned with the City of New York crest and small personal care kits.
There are bathrooms but no showers or laundry facilities. There is a kitchen, but it doesn’t have gas for cooking, as the building hasn't hosted students since the spring of 2019. Signs are directing people to shower at the Dry Dock Pool on 10th Street at Avenue D.
Security is understandably tight at the location, so it is suggested that we set up outside, and people can come to select what they need from what is available. 

I am told repeatedly that “the city doesn’t want to draw attention to the facility,” but also staffers run out and whisper requests to me, “A refugee needs a cell phone; an old one is fine. Can we find her one?” ... “a postpartum mother needs special underwear; any way to source her some?” ... “We have a diabetic on site; is there a sugar substitute available?”
I volunteer to buy a hotplate so people can have coffee, but I am told it’s a liability, and the City doesn’t want the risk. My friend donates a coffeemaker, filters and coffee beans instead, but it’s never used. Again, I am told it’s a liability. 

I started asking friends and neighbors for donated blankets, sweaters, sweatpants, or anything to keep people warm. I also asked the local food nonprofit EVLovesNYC if they could help with a Sunday lunch, which was fortuitous, as the city’s planned meals never arrived that day.
We were initially invited inside to distribute meals (we had four meal kits: chicken, pork, veggie and vegan options), but soon after, the NYC Emergency Management site supervisor demanded we leave (and take all the food with us). 

It’s a dichotomy, as the City is asking for help with the overwhelming influx (tens of thousands) of refugees and asylum-seekers expected in NYC. Still, city officials are also preventing community members from directly supporting the people in need. (According to The City article, the respite centers have opened with little notice to the surrounding communities.) I was told to “donate to Red Cross” or “the approved drop-off location for Manhattan at 518 W. 168th St.” 

Tables will be outside during specific hours a few times a week with a Free Store of donated items.
If you’d like to help, donations of adult clothes (there are no children or infants at this location), bedding and towels, backpacks, and toiletries are welcome during four upcoming drop-off dates. Items can be brought to the office of State Assemblymember Harvey Epstein at 107-109 Avenue B at Seventh Street on the following dates and times: 

• Thursday, June 1, 3-5:30 p.m. 
• Tuesday, June 6, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. 
• Thursday, June 8, 3-5:30 p.m. 
• Tuesday, June 13, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Glizzy's bringing hot dogs to this block of St. Mark's Place

Signage for Glizzy's is up now at 34 St. Mark's Place between Second Avenue and Third Avenue.

This will be the second outpost for the brand that got its start last year in Williamsburg, and boasting "Brooklyn's Best Hot Dogs." (Current signage is missing the 's on Brooklyn for now.)

Johnny Huynh, the founder and co-owner of Glizzy's grew up in Bushwick and operates Lucy's Vietnamese restaurants in Brooklyn.

Some background via Greenpointers:
Glizzy's menu kicks off with the "N.Y. Classic" that includes onions in red sauce, sauerkraut, and spicy brown mustard. Next, there's a dog called "Houston, We Have A Problem" with smoked brisket chili, chopped and fried onions, and a cheddar cheese sauce. 

The "OG Lucy's" is a nod to Huynh's Vietnamese restaurant and has cucumber, cilantro, basil, mayo, pickled carrots, hoisin, and sriracha. Next up is the "Mr. Lee" with kimchi, scallions, furikake, fried garlic, Korean BBQ sauce, and sesame oil. 

"The Ocky" is halal and includes chopped onions, tomatoes, harissa, and yogurt sauce, while the "Phil Me Up" contains potato salad, scallions, furikake, and curry ranch dressing. 

No word on an opening date for Glizzy's, which is nestled among other quick-serve options on the block. The storefront was previously the ice cream shop Lucky Star.  

Storefront can't decide if it wants to be Deli Convenience or Dispensary

Earlier this spring, signage for Deli Convenience arrived at 231 First Ave. between 13th Street and 14th Street.

Several weeks later... the sign became Dispensary (with marijuana leaves) 
THEN, the Deli Convenience signage returned...
So what will this week bring? A return to Dispensary? Something completely different?

This spot was previously Tony's Famous Pizza ... and for nearly 20 years, Vinny Vincenz. 

Thanks, Pinch ... and the other commenters who pointed this out!

Monday, May 29, 2023

Monday's parting shot

Manhattanhenge counter programming...

La Plaza Cultural's new solar pavilion is enjoying its moment in the sun

Photo by Stacie Joy

After a years-long crowdfunding campaign (read more background here), the panels and battery were installed this past Wednesday on the solar pavilion at La Plaza Cultural, the community garden on the SW corner of Avenue C and Ninth Street.

Aside from providing a grid-independent power source, the pavilion will also serve as a four-season classroom offering workshops to the community.

While some volunteer gardeners held an impromptu celebration this past week, some work is left to do, including more fundraising to help defray costs. 

But, as La Plaza's most recent newsletter points out, "the garden now has a source of sustainable power. Thanks to all who helped us realize this vision... We hope it can be a model for other gardens and any entity interested in sustainable energy."

A few scenes from the annual Loisaida Festival

Photos by Stacie Joy

The 36th edition of the Loisaida Festival took place yesterday under sunny blue skies ... as attendees took part in this annual Memorial Day weekend celebration of the rich heritage of the Lower East Side. 

EVG contributor Stacie Joy shared a few photos from along Avenue C where attendees enjoyed live music, theater, food, pony rides, bouncy houses ... and a lot more...
Entertainment away from the main stage included the Casa Adela Rumble with Hip Hop Jibarito...
You can visit the Loisiada Center here for information about year-round programming.

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Sunday's parting shot

Outside Sophie's today on Fifth Street between A and B...

Rebelmatic in Tompkins Square Park

Photos by Stacie Joy 

The New York Hardcore Chronicles presented a slate of bands in Tompkins Square Park yesterday afternoon ... featuring Scott Helland (Guitarmy of One), Winterwolf, Butterbrain, Rebelmatic and Leeway.

EVG contributor Stacie Joy was there and caught the set by crowd-favorites Rebelmatic ...
... who were joined onstage by Winterwolf's Tony $ixx...

Near-miss in Tompkins Square Park as branch falls

On a beautiful Sunday afternoon in Tompkins Square Park, a large branch from a majestic American Elm came crashing down to the ground inside the Avenue A-St. Mark's Place entrance...
Witnesses said it came very close to hitting a man in a wheelchair (thanks to Janie Heath for the clip)...


This is the second branch to fall in the Park in recent weeks... on May 16, a young parkgoer escaped injuries after being hit by a limb that fell in the dog run — also on a calm, sunny day.

CS on B shared this panoramic shot...