Full Tilt E.Vil. Nostalgia

September 14, 2007


Don’t miss The New York Times article about the best nabe in the world (still!), the East Village. The article mentions that Abbie Hoffman started the yippie movement in a basement apartment he lived in at 30 St. Marks Pl. I happen to live in one of two basement apartments that still exist at 30 St. Marks. The video (which is also excellent, don’t miss it) indicates that the “basement apartment” is now the Japanese restaurant Go, but I wonder if that’s correct, given that the restaurant is on the ground floor and there are still two basement apartments in the back. Does anyone know for sure which space Abbie Hoffman actually lived in? (I took the above photo in front of the store Trash and Vaudeville several years ago, which is the space where Yoko Ono and other artists held “happenings.”)

There is also a downloadable audio walking tour. Click here for that.

Howl Festival

September 8, 2007

Tompkin Square Park is alive with the Howl Festival. I happened to catch The Little Death NYC featuring Moby this afternoon. The whole park was rocking. Along the outside fence are murals by local artists. Here is one of the more compelling juxtapositions (click to enlarge):


For a short slideshow of last year’s Howl parade down St. Mark’s Pl. at the end of the festival, click here and scroll down to the sixth item.

Rev. Billy Ready for Close-Up

April 19, 2007


So I’m toiling away at Mudspot, which I do nearly every day, when in comes Rev. Billy, founder of the Church of Stop Shopping, in full regalia, with Today Show correspondent Natalie Morales and a film crew in tow. Apparently, they have been shooting all over the E.Vil. for a segment to be aired in the not-too-distant future. While the Rev. Billy and his tent-revival mocking, anti-consumerist gospel may not be ready for primetime, he’s good to go for daytime.

Question from Morales to Mudspot owner Nina Berott: “Is Rev. Billy an activist or a crackpot?”

Laughter from the Mudspot regulars drowned out her answer, so tune into the Today Show to find out!

BTW: He may not be Tom Wolfe, but isn’t it kind of tacky for a reporter to wear a white suit while covering The Rev. Billy, who’s signature dress is a white suit, kinda like upstaging a bride by wearing a white gown? (Click to enlarge photo.)

E.Vil., How Do I Love Thee…

January 23, 2007


I have a tendency to come to these things a little late, but better late than never. For more than three years, I’ve been living in the the East Village — hands down, the coolest neighborhood in the world (okay, I haven’t been to every nabe in the world, but a little hyperbole never hurt anyone). And yet, I still find myself walking past any number of cool things without hardly taking note, only to one day stop in my tracks and say, “Hey, what’s that?” This happened at a tiny storefront on First Avenue (near Houston) called East Village Radio, where I would glance at the DJ spinning records behind the glass and think, “I need to check that out.” So I finally did:

Based out of a store-front studio on First Avenue, embedded in the heart of the East Village, EVR is an Internet radio station … with a wide array of musical genres … Over 60 DJs and hosts provide 16 hours of LIVE programming a day, broken up into 2 hour show blocks, 7 days a week.EVR’s store-front street level studio helps maintain its independent artistic sensibility. According to [a] study of pedestrian traffic in New York City, almost 1,000 (1,800 during peak travel times) pedestrians pass by the sound booth per hour.

1000-1800 pedestrians PER HOUR! That just boggles the mind, and yet it isn’t even the main point here. The point is, check out East Village Radio — with its eclectic schedule and now of course everything is podcast — and revel in the creativity that could only acculturate in the agar of the East Village. The storefront was renovated last summer, which was covered by Fader (where I got the above photo). BTW: The Fader show on Fridays is it.

Whole Paycheck

January 16, 2007


With Whole Foods’ stock tanking, I was beginning to wonder if the long-promised store on the Bowery was ever going to open. That is, until I encountered a Whole Foods employee on St. Marks Pl. gathering signatures on letters that will be sent to the New York State liquor control board, urging it to approve a license so the grocery chain can sell booze next door to its Bowery store (state law prohibits grocery stores from selling anything other than beer, an asinine law if there ever was one). The employee, pictured above, said the store is still on track to open in April.

A few fun facts about the Bowery: The street was originally an Indian trail, then a cow path to Peter Stuyvesant’s farm (“bouwerij” is the Dutch word for farm). It was the first street in America with a trolley car. It was New York’s theater district before Broadway became Broadway. At the turn of the last century, there were an estimated 25,000 Bowery bums who lived in flophouses and on the street. Read more about the street at Forgotten New York.

(Location) x 3

January 10, 2007

picture-3.pngPolis readers know I eagerly await the New Museum of Contemporary Art on the Bowery. In the meantime, the museum is sponsoring a series of lectures in the neighborhood. Tonight’s panel discussion, “Location Location Location,” sounds like it’s about real estate, but thankfully it’s not. The role of regional culture in a global world, and whether provincialism is as bad as it sounds, will be discussed by Saskia Bos, the dean of the School of Art at Cooper Union; the architect Teddy Cruz; the artist and MacArthur Fellow Julie Mehretu; and Nicolai Ouroussoff, architecture critic of The New York Times (6:30 p.m., Cooper Union, Seventh Street at Third Avenue, East Village, (212) 219-1222; $6).

Photo by Nicole Bengiveno for the The New York Times: The artist Julie Mehretu in front of her “Rise of the New Suprematists” at the Project in Harlem in 2001.

Shut the Door

January 7, 2007

muddoor.jpgAs far as inside jokes go, they don’t get any more obscure than this homage to the Mudspot door. Mudspot (for the uninitiated) is one of those places that became an instant hangout for E.Vil. neighborhoodies because the warm and welcoming atmosphere guarantees good conversation with funny and interesting people (oh, and the coffee’s good too).

But the door, you see, is a hundred year-old solid wood thing that doesn’t shut automatically, it has to be pulled with some umph. When it’s cold out, regular Mudsters like to make a show of getting up and slamming it after non-regulars (i.e. outsiders) have sashayed out, coffee in hand, leaving a trail of obliviousness behind them. Many jokes and complaints later, someone suggested the door should have it’s own web presence. And sure enough, last winter, there it appeared, the MySpace Door At Mud page:

Status: Swinger
Here for: Friends
Sign: Virgo (because it opens in early Sept.)
Home Town: E. 9th St.

The MySpace Mud Door page now boasts 35 friends who leave clever little notes such as: “Oh MudDoor how I long to complete thee! I could not dare count the brisk fall & winter days I’ve stared at you longing to move you with my eyes alone, to press my body up against you and slam you against your frame…. to hold you tightly so you could be moved by none other!”

mud3.JPGThis January weekend, when temperatures hit 70 degrees, the door at Mudspot, as you might imagine, was pretty much wide open all day, and the conversation, as you might also imagine, centered on one topic: Everyone is rather guiltily enjoying the 70 degree weather.

The most recent joke about the door: before too long, it’ll be dismantled and used as a flotation device when Lower Manhattan is flooded by rising sea levels. But until that day of reckoning comes, the Mudspot door will continue to swing.