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A Jump From the 13th Floor

viewfrom13thfloor View from the 13th floor.

Earlier this week, a 57-year-old woman jumped to her death on University Place. Even when such suicides don’t make the news (and they usually don’t) they leave an indelible impression on those who encounter them. Such was the case in April when a woman, also 57, ended her life at the Salvation Army’s Markle Evangeline Residence for Women. Today, her would-be neighbor tells the story. 

July 1, 2012
When I first stepped into the Markle Evangeline Residence, I felt it: a peculiar darkness. Yet this was the same bright cheerful woman’s dormitory on 13th Street I had been coming to for years, each semester I came from Paris to teach at NYU.

Was it the downturned lips of the receptionist? Was it the fact that the new manager of the place, which was run by the Salvation Army, had just sent me a curt e-mail, in response to my request, if possible, for a firm mattress: “You may need to look into another place to stay while you’re here in New York.” Signed Major William T. Bender, and cc-ed to his staff.

I took the elevator up to a room that was inauspiciously on the 13th floor: 1309, in fact, an odd number I did not like. I was afraid of what I would find. I turned the knob – and there, a grim disappointment.

The room faced south, the way I had asked, and the window showed a skyline of the city. But it was dark. How could it be dark? It was shining with light, the walls painted yellow.

The room needed something, but what? I asked for an air conditioner to be placed in the bathroom window, so as to not block my view, but the Major instructed the custodian to put it in the bedroom instead. You may need to go elsewhere… 

Let it go, I told myself. After all, there was nothing wrong with this room. I moved the bed around by the window and with a screwdriver I opened the flaps of the air conditioner, to let in a slice of view. I put a poster up, of the Eiffel Tower. I moved the bed around once more. I pushed back the desk.

I stared out the open bathroom window. There was a patio below, nine stories down.

I wondered where the body would land if one threw oneself out. Read more…

All Krohn Up | Welcome to New York, Now Live

krohn2Dana Varinsky It was either this or a shot of him spinning the cube.

The college kids are back – in droves. Maybe you remember what it was like to be an innocent in the East Village. If not, meet Jonathan Krohn, a member of N.Y.U.’s class of 2016. Actually, you may already know him: he was a “Time 100” finalist at the age of 14, and just two years later wrote his second book, “Defining Conservatism.” His thinking has evolved since then, but like any freshman he’s still got a lot to learn. And you, oh jaded Villager, could learn a thing or two from him. Hence, his weekly column about life as a neighborhood newbie.

“Welcome to the East Village.” Something no one said to me when I first arrived here.

My first night in the East Village went a little something like this: About thirty minutes after I left my dorm on Third Avenue a balding, stocky middle-aged man attempted to get me to hold his keys, wallet, license, and wedding band in exchange for me paying him gas money. I ran off. An hour later I encountered a scantily clad woman (I was told she was a prostitute) who was very high. She rolled around on the ground, screaming that someone was coming for her, and threw her backpack into the little pond in the center of Washington Square Park. I left the park with some nice jazz musicians from Brooklyn who took me up MacDougal Street, where I was then hit on by a transsexual. I screamed at some point around there. We don’t have these things in the suburbs of Atlanta. Or at least, we don’t have all of them in one neat little area. Read more…

‘Neighbors Of IHOP Say Enough,’ Form N.O.I.S.E. Committee

Sandy Berger, a neighbor of IHOP, continues her journal chronicling the sights, sounds and smells of the restaurant that has outraged her and others in her building for the better part of a year. In today’s installment, Ms. Berger reveals the name of the committee they’ve formed to fight the “International House of Putrid Odors.”

bacon diaries

Monday, August 13, 2012
I stopped in at IHOP and asked to speak to Ed Scannapieco, the owner of the franchise. I was told by the day manager he wasn’t there. I gave her my telephone number and said I would appreciate hearing from him. I was just trying to find out what was going on. Naturally, I never heard from him, which is bothersome since he has said, “We want to be a good neighbor.” But I guess that doesn’t include talking to his neighbors! Read more…

The Ex-Villagers | Pierogies, the Park, and Eventually Brooklyn

imageCourtesy Jessica Pilot Jessica Pilot (left) and Heather Holliday in
Tompkins Square Park

I think it was 1990. I was eating pierogies with my father at K&K Restaurant, which is now Neptune, on First Avenue near 12th Street; sitting at the table next to us was Allen Ginsberg. I didn’t know who he was at the time (I was nine) and he passed away shortly after, but it would become my earliest memory of growing up downtown. The East Village has a reputation around the world for being at the center of what’s cool and I was there, living it.

After our Polish breakfasts, my father and I would walk over to Tompkins Square Park, just a few blocks away. The park was dirty and crime-ridden, but in the East Village your neighbors looked after you. One of them told me not to touch the “spike” lying right there by the tire swing in the park’s makeshift playground. I never did try heroin, but years later I did magic mushrooms in the park and none of the crusty punks living there with their mangly pitbulls batted an eye.

My first job was as a cashier at Commodities Natural Market on First Avenue, near 10th Street. I was terrible. I got fired because I had a tip jar and a penchant for giving out discounts to friends, good-looking men and the aged. At 16, I already wanted to make a lot of money, so a tip jar seemed like a good start (oh, and it worked). One of the customers who got my 10 percent discount was John Joseph, frontman of the Cro-Mags. He was a hardcore vegan even before he “sold out” and wised up and got a book deal years later with “Meat is for Pussies.” I still see him shopping there. Read more…

Living with Bacon: IHOP’s Odor Endures

bacon diaries

Earlier this month, The Local learned that the installation of an odor-eating ventilation unit at IHOP had been delayed, raising concerns among neighbors that the bacon smell emanating from the restaurant was there to stay. In the meantime Sandy Berger, whose apartment overlooks the roof of the International House of Putrid Odors, as she calls it, continues to maintain her diary of olfactory impressions.

Sandy Berger’s Bacon Dairy, Page Three

Sandy Berger Could it be? Are these workers preparing for installation of the ventilation unit.

Thursday, June 14

My wake-up call came at 7 a.m. this morning in the form of bacon grease from IHOP — not my alarm clock! And it was still going strong at 8:42 a.m. When I came back home at 1:30 p.m. I could smell that lunch was in full swing, but it was bearable.

Friday, June 15

At 8 a.m. there were no smells, but four hours later the bacon grease was definitely on the burner! It is now 3 p.m. and the smell still lingers.
Read more…

The Ex-Villagers | Bought a Ticket to the West Coast

mari 2Courtesy Mari Fagel. Mari Fagel and her boyfriend.

“Damn girl, you one fine piece of midget!”

Having just moved to New York City, I was already feeling small in such a big city. But when I was cat-called out on my five-foot-one height while walking down Bowery on my second day here, I wondered if I was ready to take on the Big Apple.

I’d lived in the city briefly in the summer of 2007 while interning and, frankly, I hated it. Each morning I woke up to the stench of fish coming in from my window since my N.Y.U. dorm on Lafayette was across from a Chinatown seafood market. I was so excited to hang out with my college friends who’d grown up in the city, only to realize they were in the Hamptons nearly every weekend and ate dinner at home with their families during the week. So there I was, taking the N train from Rockefeller Center back to Canal and Lafayette after work each day only to crawl in bed and watch episodes of “Greek” on my computer.

Then, three years later I got the call from NY1 News that I’d been hired as an on-air reporter, so I decided to give the city a second chance. With just two weeks to find a place, and having experienced only Chinatown and Midtown the summer I’d interned here, I was clueless as to where I should live. But then a close family friend told me her third roommate was moving out. Perfect. Bowery and First would be my new home. Read more…

IHOP’s Waft: Gone, But Not for Long

bacon diaries

Last week, Sandy Berger began documenting every scent and stench that wafted from the IHOP underneath her apartment as she waited for the International House of Putrid Odors, as she called it, to install a $40,000 ventilation unit. An IHOP representative has now told The Local that delivery of the bacon buster has been delayed, and it’s unknown when it’ll arrive. And Louis, a manager at the 14th Street location who would only give his first name, said the swine swatter is being custom built. “It’s in the hands of the exhaust company that is making it,” he said. In the meantime, let’s continue following Ms. Berger’s nose.

Sandy Berger’s Bacon Dairy, Page Two

Monday, June 4
No smells today. Maybe everyone took a three-day weekend!

Tuesday, June 5
At 4:13 p.m. there were no smells, but then again there weren’t a lot of garbage bags visible either. Around 7 p.m. I began to feel hungry and realized that I was getting a whiff of bacon grease. It wasn’t as strong as it has been but after about 30 minutes I decided I’d rather smell the food I was going to eat. It’s 11:16 p.m. and I’m back in my bedroom but I guess it’s still dinnertime at IHOP because there are wafts of the usual you-know-what smells.

ihopDaniel Maurer

Wednesday, June 6
Nothing much in the way of smells today. I’m wondering whether this ventilation unit has been installed inside and we’re beginning to see the benefit, or did every customer order salads today?

Friday, June 8
At noon, a new smell was introduced – burnt toast! No way as awful as bacon grease, but anything burnt isn’t welcome, even in my own kitchen. At 9:30 p.m. the smell switched to hamburger fat dripping into stove flames: annoying but so far not overwhelming.

Saturday, June 9
At 8:30 a.m., even before I got out of bed, that familiar smell of bacon grease was there which sort of surprised me since I was hoping I wasn’t going to ever smell it again unless I was cooking it. It lasted most of the day, letting up around 7:30 p.m. What a disappointment.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this post referred to the ventilation unit as a “smog-hog.” That reference has been deleted since the term is a brand name and Smog Hog says that it did not manufacture the unit in question.

The Ex-Villagers | One Last Egg Cream Before a New Life in L.A.

Screen shot 2012-06-06 at 11.55.32 AMLaurie Gwen Shapiro Gita Reddy.

The Ex-Villagers: They loved the East Village and they left it. A couple of days ago, actress Gita Reddy grabbed a hot dog and an egg cream at Ray’s Candy Store on Avenue A, and during one last walk around, shared her memories of twenty years in the neighborhood.

Now that I’m leaving for Los Angeles I keep running into random people I haven’t seen in ages. When I hadn’t slept for 48 hours, and had just done a big part of my move, I put on lipstick and concealer to look like a coherent human being and I ran into Arjun Bhasin, a hot costume designer in Mumbai (he’s working on “Life of Pi”) who I knew when he was a fellow student back in Cinema Studies at NYU. He looked me up and down and declared, “Gita Reddy, you are aging well!”

It’s a little embarrassing to realize the students who live here now give me the same dismissive looks I once gave the old-timers when I moved here as a student. But I’m proud to leave as a true old-timer myself. It even feels vaguely cool to have lived here longer than them.

I’ve lived in the same apartment the whole time, with so many roommates over the years: Debbie, Jennifer, Erin, then that Brazilian male flight attendant, Rina, then Daniel, Leah and most recently Sabrina, a middle school teacher I’ve been rooming with for over two years. Read more…

Awaiting IHOP’s Bacon Buster With Bated Breath

bacon diaries
ihopSandy Berger The view out of Sandy Berger’s window.

I’m not averse to bacon. I used to make it, on very rare occasions. But ever since the International House of Putrid Odors opened and its ventilation fans began pumping out the smell of recycled bacon through my bedroom windows, a mere whiff of it is enough to make me ill.

Last August, before IHOP opened on East 14th Street, two gigantic air conditioners suddenly appeared on its second floor roof (they must have been crane lifted). At night, when it used to be pretty quiet, they sounded like 100 antiquated air conditioners running simultaneously.

It took several 311 complaints before a Department of Environmental Protection inspector found them in violation of the law. The inspector told me he knew he’d be back once the restaurant opened: he predicted there would be odor complaints, and he was so right. Read more…

The Ex-Villagers | A Doorman and Dog Bath in Williamsburg

Introducing a new column written by those who loved the East Village and left it. Today: Rachel Trobman tells us why she crossed the bridge to Brooklyn.

rachel in window Rachel Trobman in her 13th Street apartment, 2005.

Williamsburg is teeming with babies. That was my first reaction to my new neighborhood. I’d been lured from the East Village after seven years there by the increased space, a price that would allow me to buy, and the likelihood there would not be a man singing opera at 3 a.m. outside of my window.

Moving across the river, I knew I could expect a slightly longer commute, no yellow cabs, less college students, more facial hair.

What I didn’t see coming was the prevalence of young children. There were five pregnant women in my building when I moved in. Now there are five infants and several toddlers. There are babies in the restaurants, strollers in the parks and tiny humans in the subway.

I first moved to the East Village, from the West Village, when I graduated New York University. My sister, and roommate, was a sophomore there and wanted to be close to campus. I didn’t want to be too far from Chelsea and the news network where I had just gotten a job. We found a reasonably priced “two bedroom” walk-up on St. Marks Place – more like a one bedroom made out of a living room, with a second bedroom made out of a closet. Read more…

Leave Her Home on East Third? Not Without a Fight

Outside 50 East Third StreetEntwined Studio The author, second from right, with friends on the stoop of 50 East Third Street.

A few weeks ago I had a night so magical it only could have happened in New York City: rooftop skyline, cocktails, killer jams. We were giddy. It was one of those nights that makes you want to dig out your old “I heart NY” t-shirt and wear it to bed.

The next morning, I got a buzz from the mailman. It was a registered letter from the landlord: we were getting evicted from our home at 50 East Third Street.

Our building sold and the new landlord had no interest in renewing our lease, so we were given 60 days to pack up our lives and vacate our apartments by May 14. Around 20 other people in our building and two neighboring ones at 54 and 58 East Third Street received the same notice. I was told that the sale of the building hinged upon the vacancy of our apartments. Our lives were used as a bartering chip.

The rug was literally being pulled from underneath us. Read more…

Kaelen Haworth’s East Village

kaelenCourtesy Kaelen Haworth

The East Village is “such a great mix of high, low, trendy, traditional, gritty, sophisticated,” muses designer Kaelen Haworth. The Toronto native and Parsons graduate has been designing her eponymous brand of polished womenswear since 2010, and finds a good deal of inspiration in the neighborhood. “There are millions of vintage shops in the area that are an interesting resource for designers,” she says. “I was late for work this morning but still debating running to the vintage shop at Second and Second to try on an awesome furry thing in the window.” And she digs her adopted home for more than just fashion: The designer recently clued us in to some “dangerous” cocktails and dog-friendly coffee spots where you might find her sipping with her French bulldog, Lola.

Favorite coffee spot
I like The Bean. They’re dog-friendly, which is cool because I have a dog and geek out over other dogs. Also I think the best coffee in my hood is from the Juicy Lucy stand on the corner of First and First.  It’s amazing and the staff is so nice. I don’t have to order anymore — they know I need coffee and lots of it before small talk. Read more…

After Many Apartments, a Home in the East Village

Michael Clemens lives and writes in the East Village. Here’s how he ended up here.

apt1Michael Clemens

Apartments in New York City are like family members. We like some more than others. We go back and see our favorites and our most hated from time to time, and realize how far we’ve come, or not, since we were last there. I’ve had six apartments in the ten years that I’ve lived here, and my current one, in the East Village, is my favorite.

When I was a student, Columbia provided me with a decent-sized bedroom on 113th Street. They charged about eight grand for the school year, and graciously lumped it into my student loans which will haunt me to the day I die. It overlooked the snow-capped rooftops of Morningside Heights and smelled like paint when the steam heating came on. I lived in it alone my first two semesters of school, and I had no idea how lucky I was.

There, I made fast friends with Daniel, a member of a gay-friendly literally society called Alpha Delta Phi. The society owned a brownstone on 114th Street across from the campus. It had a billiard room, a full copper-topped bar, a backyard and a roof deck, and a working fireplace with a moose head above it supposedly shot by Teddy Roosevelt.

As a kid from Texas I loved space, and as an aspiring pseudo intellectual I longed for the wood paneling and secrets. I got invited to join the group. My first room there was half the size of my room on 113th Street, cost the same and overlooked the hulking mass of Butler library. Late at night, drunk after parties downstairs, I’d look across to the kids diligently studying at the long tables. From my room I’d hear my neighbor across the hall, Irene, being spanked with a paddle. She was into S&M. Read more…

Being There With Kathy Acker: New Year’s Eve, 1979

Happy New Year, all! Barring breaking news, The Local will return next Tuesday. In the meantime, enjoy community contributor Tim Milk’s tale of a New Year’s Eve we can only hope to match.

ackerIllustration: Tim Milk

“You’ve got to go,” my friend insisted. She thrust the invitation into my hand. New Year’s Eve, 1979: It was touted as the celebration to end all celebrations. The glitterati of the art scene were due to attend, as the hostess had connections to all the dealers, artists and buyers. As for myself, who was still quite new to New York, the specter of beautiful people closing in around me gave me the willies.

“Okay,” I said. “What will we wear?”

“Wear what you want. I’m not going. I’ve got a date. But you’re going,” my friend commanded. “Get out there. Do it! Meet people!” She then gave me that look. “Don’t you dare stay at home.”

I’m shy by nature, and this was especially true in my 24th year. Nonetheless, my courage was bolstered by the thought that there might be something to eat at this place. I may not always succeed in working the room, but eating is always an easy fait accompli.

Like any new-to-town rube, I arrived too early. Alone, I crossed a great empty ballroom, decorated like a sultan’s palace. This was clearly an affair for the fortunate few. Studding the walls were tables swathed with satin: the cocktail bar, the champagne station, and then the oasis where canapés and wine awaited. The hostess, in a glittering gown, was all hither and thither with last minute arrangements, so I was able to pass unobserved to the table of food.

“Felipe” was the name emblazoned on the tag of the fellow who was guarding the sumptuous spread. He looked me up and down and narrowed his eyes. Who let this scruffy punk inside?, they seemed to say. As I shrunk from his malevolence, the hostess called out, “Felipe! Quick! Over here!”

With a snort, Felipe departed, leaving the spread of goodies to tempt me. My hand drew close to snatch a morsel, when something suddenly took hold of my ankle. I jumped. Read more…

Amber Tamblyn’s East Village

amberAmber Tamblyn While shooting “House.”

Amber Tamblyn may be known to many for playing an angst-ridden teen in “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” and med student Martha Masters on “House,” but after 15 years as an actress, she’s branching out. These days, she’s performing with her mother, Bonnie Murray Tamblyn; co-producing a show for Fox with Katie Jacobs, an executive producer of “House”; and working on her third book of poetry. She has also written her first screenplay (adapted from the novel “Paint It Black” by Janet Fitch) and runs a non-profit, Write Now Poets, dedicated to finding creative programs to support poetry. “And lastly,” she told The Local over e-mail, “I’m hoping to end world hunger by Wednesday. Fingers crossed!”

Ms. Tamblyn divides her time between Los Angeles and the East Village, where she has lived for three years. She also performs in the neighborhood – most recently at “The Inspired Word,” an open mic night at One and One. “I never liked any other neighborhood,” she told The Local. Although, here’s a secret: She and her fiancée, the comedian David Cross, are moving to Brooklyn. Before she leaves us, we asked her about her favorite spots in the old neighborhood. Read more…

Jim Meehan’s East Village

meehanCourtesy of Jim Meehan.

To some, it’s the best bar in the world. To others, it’s that spot where they can never seem to land a reservation. To Jim Meehan, it’s his place. Though PDT has built its reputation partly on exclusivity, owner and chief mixologist Meehan now shares the secret to his success in The PDT Cocktail Book, out this month.

“The book is actually in keeping with the spirit of the bar in trying to advance this culture,” he says, explaining that while some locals might find his reservation policy restrictive (reservations are taken same-day only at 3 p.m.), it’s more about making a relaxed, unique experience for the few customers who make it inside the compact space on any given evening. “Part of our concept is that it’s limited edition,” says Mr. Meehan, “What I’ve tried to do… is guarantee the rights of all the people who are in here.”

Raised in Illinois, Mr. Meehan began tending bar to support his African-American and literature studies in college. Nine years ago, he arrived in the East Village, tenuring at some of the neighborhood’s restaurants before opening PDT in 2007. The Local asked Mr. Meehan to share some of his favorite spots. Read more…

A Tale of Costumed Crimefighting on the F Train

Happy Halloween, East Village. Still looking for a costume? Maybe this will inspire you: Contributor Tim Milk, an East Villager who remembers the subway system as a very scary place, recalls a peculiar incident in the late 1990s.

Rachel Citron The subway system today: A very different place.

Robbery, brutality, even death used to haunt the New York City transit system during that time many now choose to call “the bad old days.” The manifold horrors that lurked below street level still comprise an indelible legend. If you, alone and vulnerable on the desolate platform, survived the long, long wait for the chronically delayed and broken-down trains, things more loathsome still awaited you on board. Flashers, muggers, rapists – these were the least of your worries. Also riding with you were the bogeymen – the monsters who earned the most fearsome monikers. “The Finger Man” stalked the Lexington line with wire cutters, snipping off the digits of his victims to more quickly steal their diamond rings. That his story was probably just an urban myth was irrelevant – it was well understood that a trip to an outer borough such as Brooklyn could very well be your last.

And so I never went there. The districts outside of Manhattan lay beyond the pale – like lost, forbidden kingdoms. But by 1997, all of this had changed. Through certain deft law enforcement strategies, crime on the subway had vanished.  How exactly this was accomplished was not entirely clear, but no matter: people at last felt safe riding anywhere and everywhere.  For me it meant happy excursions to all ends of town without the inconvenience of sheer mortal terror.

One fine Sunday I made just such an outing, boarding the Brooklyn-bound F at the Second Avenue stop. Read more…

East Villagers Occupy Wall Street: The New Guard

Earlier today we heard from John Penley and other longtime East Villagers spending time at Zuccotti Park. Now contributor Sarah Shanfield, a more recent arrival to the neighborhood, writes about an early encounter with the movement at Tompkins Square Park last weekend.

Occupy Wall Street.Rachel Citron

I first heard about Occupy Wall Street when a friend sent me a YouTube video of girls in crop tops being maced while they let out blood curdling screams. My reaction: complete horror. What the hell was going on? And where were they, so I could go and watch?

In the beginning, it didn’t seem these protests would end in compromise, especially because it was unclear who the interested parties even were. And yet these people spent their precious New York time going down to Wall Street, to sit and protest for a change that they couldn’t define.

At first, I simply wanted to watch these people, with their matted hair, cutoffs, and the checkered Israeli keffiyehs that were in style several years ago. They hoisted signs with witty sayings and held dazzlingly intelligent conversation. But they frightened me because they were so angry. I didn’t identify with them, because I didn’t feel angry at all. Read more…

Allen Salkin: Is Living in the East Village A Blessing or a Curse?

In a New York Post story about his show “Bored to Death,” Jonathan Ames said, “It used to be that I walked around the East Village and went, ‘There’s someone I went to an artist colony with.’ But now, no oddball writer types are really left in Manhattan.” Mr. Ames isn’t the only writer who has watched the neighborhood change. On Sunday, Oct. 2 locals gathered at the BMW Guggenheim Lab to share their stories during an event, “Growing Up and Old on the Lower East Side: 5-minute stories from locals on making a home in a place of flux.” Among the speakers was former New York Times staff writer Allen Salkin. Watch a clip from his talk and tell us what you think.

Occupy Wall Street, Seen Through The Lens of a Newcomer

While our reporters were covering yesterday’s student walkout at Washington Square Park, The Local sent photographer and community contributor Rachel Citron to capture the action further downtown. Here’s a slideshow of her photographs, followed by her thoughts about what she saw.

In the past days, photographs of the Occupy Wall Street protestors and videos of their anti-government chants have become ubiquitous. So has the controversy. When I emerged from the City Hall subway station yesterday afternoon – new to the scene – I expected a hodgepodge of hippies and hipsters trying to catch a spirit of activism that seems to have alluded our generation. To my surprise and excitement, I found prescient issues being protested, many of which affect East Village residents. Read more…