Standard East Village Briefly Evacuated After Fridge Freakout

standardDana Varinsky

An old refrigerator caused some trouble at the Standard East Village today. About a dozen fire department vehicles surrounded the hotel this afternoon. Fire Chief Michael Kendall said a leaky refrigeration unit in the basement had caused elevated levels of Freon and sulfur dioxide. The staff and guests from the first few floors evacuated the building for over an hour.

According to Chief Kendall, somebody from the building called the fire department to report the leak, and the first trucks arrived at 2:05 p.m. Firefighters removed the refrigerator and vented the building until the leak was dissipated. Crews searched for any other sources of gas and declared it safe to go back inside a little over an hour after they arrived.

Chief Kendall estimated the leaky fridge to be about 70 years old, making it 69 years older than the swanky new hotel it served until today. “It was an old unit,” he said, “it just broke.” The Standard’s management declined to comment.

The Optimus Prime of Art Galleries Makes Its St. Marks Debut

constructDaniel Maurer
construct2Daniel Maurer The truck has a skylight, swinging front doors,
and a sliding brick wall.

Last night a moving truck pulled up in front of Pinkberry on St. Marks Place and put its blinkers on. But it wasn’t there to unload Ikea furniture: this was a pop-up art gallery. Or, more accurately, a pull-up gallery.

In 2008, Adeel Usman, a onetime aspiring actor who bears a striking resemblance to Aziz Ansari, and John Herbert Wright, his friend since high school, made yet another unsuccessful bid to get Mr. Wright’s artwork placed in a Chelsea gallery. While they grabbed lunch at a nearby taco truck, they had the idea of building an art gallery of their own – one that, unlike their Harlem studio, could rove around the city like a food truck.

They acquired a Moishe’s moving van that was bound for the junkyard and, without knowing much about construction, installed plexiglass windows on its sides and roof, plus sliding and swinging doors. Last summer, the project they call 83rd Anomally was born. Read more…

Street Scenes | Head’s Up: Grace Jones

IMG_0007Stephen Rex Brown

A mural of onetime Warhol muse Grace Jones has started going up on the side of Sushi Lounge, on St. Marks Place, just a block from Niagara’s Joe Strummer wall. We’ll show you the finished work when she’s ready.

He’s Fighting Rats Down There So We Don’t Have to Fight Them in the Park

IMG_0009Stephen Rex Brown A Department of Health worker drops rat poison into the sewer.

The rats might be returning to Tompkins Square Park (depending on who you ask) but don’t think the city is waving the white flag. While walking the beat today we came upon two health department employees dropping poison into a sewer grate at East Seventh Street and Avenue A. One of them confirmed that the bait was meant to thin the hordes of rodents that last year became a media sensation.

Film Crews On Avenue A and at Mary Help of Christians

photo-287Daniel Maurer Load-in at Mary Help of Christians.

With one last mass set for next Sunday, Mary Help of Christians is being used for film fodder again. A crew member overseeing a load-in this morning wouldn’t reveal the project’s name because its producer wanted to keep a low profile, but she described it as a small independent endeavor. (Speaking of low profiles, there’s still no word on the identity of the party said to be buying the church: a call to an Archdiocese spokesperson this morning has not yet been returned.)

Meanwhile, around the corner on Avenue A, “Blood Bloods,” a USA Network crime drama starring Tom Selleck and Donnie Wahlberg, is filming today, according to a flyer spotted outside of Tompkins Square Bagels. The show is said to have contemplated a move to Toronto a couple of years ago but everyone knows you can’t get a good bagel burger in Hollywood North.

‘Smash’ Hits Cooper Square

IMG_0421Daniel Maurer

“Smash,” last spotted at Cafe Orlin, was back in the East Village today, filming at Cooper Triangle. The paparazzi were out in full force trying to catch a glimpse of Debra Messing.

Sorry, this is the best our not-exactly-telephoto iPhone could muster, but rest assured Ms. Messing is Instagramming from the set. And being a friendly neighbor, too: the actress retweeted a welcome to N.Y.U.’s class of 2016.

Happening Now: TOWN Sidewalk Fest at Astor

Stephen Rex Brown

If photos of the anti-Republican fervor that overcame much of the city in 2004 didn’t make you feel patriotic, perhaps this footage of the TOWN Sidewalk Festival at 26 Astor Place will. Yoga demonstrations, the Standard East Village’s ice cream, and a food truck displaying art were all on hand — set to the soundtrack of Hendrix’s “Star Spangled Banner.” The event continues for another half hour.

Video: Police Officers in Showdown With 12th Street Resident

Police officers climbed a fire escape on East 12th Street today to calm a man who had been causing a disturbance.

A resident of the block between Avenues A and B, who did not want to identify herself, witnessed the commotion. “I came out and saw a man who seemed to be agitated on the top floor hanging out his window, yelling down to the cops,” she said. “The cops didn’t seem too concerned about it, but apparently he didn’t want to let them into his apartment so they had to go up the fire escape.”

As police officers climbed to the top floor of 513 East 12th Street, the man locked the window; after a few minutes, they talked the man into opening it and letting them in. Read more…

Miley on St. Marks

They’re everywhere! Days after Mary Kate-Olsen was spotted on East 10th Street, Miley Cyrus caused a stir yesterday by debuting a punky new look on the streets of the “gritty East Village.” Someone (Iggy Pop, maybe?) might want to tell Just Jared and Gossip Girls that the name of the St. Marks Place store where she shopped is Search & Destroy, not “Search & Search.” At least Britain’s Daily Mail seems to be up on its East Village, which it says was “known before Miley’s birth as being the centre for counterculture in New York and, arguably, the birthplace of punk rock. Since then, the city has cleaned up, (for good or for worse, depending on who you ask) with blocks of trendy boutiques and galleries popping up that could keep even the most fashion-conscious star busy for hours.”

Extreme!! Boarders Line Up For Shaun White on 14th Street

photo(329)Melvin Felix

Here’s what the line outside of the 7-Eleven on 14th Street looked like this afternoon.

Celina Alcobendas and Nelson Valle came in from New Jersey and had been waiting since before 9 a.m. to meet Shaun White, there to promote a brand of gum.

The legendary snowboarder signed Mr. Valle’s longboard and Ms. Alcobendas’s white tank top, which she planned to sport on the slopes. “He’s really good-looking in person,” she said. “I actually told him that if my boyfriend wasn’t here, I’d ask him to marry me.”

For Underage Piercings On St. Marks Place, Days Are Numbered

photo(315)Daniel Maurer Browsers at 1 St. Marks Place

Nadia, a 16-year-old student from Manhattan, walked up to the hole-in-the-wall shop at 1 St. Marks Place, asked for a navel piercing and was promptly ushered in. She sat in a shabby black chair. Her belly button was cleaned, a needle pushed through, and jewelry stuck in. It happened quickly, and cost $20.

For young teenagers, St. Marks Place has long been synonymous with cheap grub and drug paraphernalia – and piercings without parental supervision. But that tradition will end in October, when a state law passed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo will make it illegal for people under the age of 18 to get a piercing without the written consent of a parent.

“Body piercing can result in severe health risks and it is our obligation as New Yorkers and parents to make sure that our teens are taking every precaution to remain healthy and safe,” Gov. Cuomo said in a press release after the law was passed last month.

Nadia, who did not want her full name used for fear of repercussions from her employer, said piercings made sense at a younger age, and she wouldn’t have gotten hers if she was over 18. “I plan on taking them out [of] my navel as I get a little bit older because I think it wouldn’t be appropriate to have later on in life,” she said. 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…

He’s Not a Doctor, But He Plays One On 14th Street

IMG_1491Vanessa Yurkevich

Amid the hustle and bustle of 14th Street, Bobby Byrd can be heard asking, “Can I take your blood pressure?” He’s no doctor but he has been asking that same question to passersby between First Avenue and Avenue A for 16 years. “I bring two chairs, a table and my voice,” said the 62-year-old.

Mr. Byrd was raised by his aunt in Brooklyn. “She wanted me to be the best,” he said. “Instead of watching TV, she would say, ‘Get a book.’” He said he had worked for the IRS, for the city and state. But it was as an asbestos abatement supervisor that he learned to perform CPR and take blood pressure readings.

After he was laid off from that job, a friend suggested he start taking strangers’ blood pressure. Soon he was doing so in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. “It gives me freedom to go where I want to go, gets me income to do what I want to do, and I get to go around and see the city,” he said. Read more…

‘Boardwalk Empire’ Plays Bocce On Fourth Street

First a swimming pool appeared in Union Square and now a beachy bocce court has come to East Fourth Street, courtesy of “Boardwalk Empire.”

As expected, the HBO show’s cameras were rolling today at the Cornelia Connelly Center, between First Avenue and Avenue A; an adjacent empty lot was filled with sand and a sandbox where a pair of actors seemed ready to play bocce.

The show had previously filmed inside the soon-to-close Mary Help of Christians Church on East 12th Street. Today, crew members left their modern-day cars in the church parking lot while the show’s old-time buggies lined East Fourth Street.


This post has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: August 20, 2012

An earlier version of this post misidentified the location of Mary Help of Christians. It is on 12th Street, not Seventh.

Weekend Warriors | Foursome on a Traffic Island

Introducing a new column in which we get to know the strangers who are yelling under our windows, making out on our stoops, and keeping the dream alive every Friday and Saturday night. They’re the Weekend Warriors.

wwarriorsAlexandra Reali

We met this foursome in the middle of Ninth Street and First Avenue on a recent Saturday night. Dana is from Syracuse, N.Y., Andy lives in Brooklyn, and Arezu and Yasmin were visiting from Montreal. They came to the East Village after a night out in Williamsburg, looking for a bite.

Yasmin: We were here earlier today! I’m actually not too familiar with the neighborhood; we’ve only been here during the day. Now it’s very quiet.

Andy: I like Tompkins Square Park, I like St Marks. They have shows there in the summer, the old punk scene.

Dana: West Village is nicer. I like the roads in this neighborhood.

Arezu: I think there’s more to do at night, actually, in Montreal. Places stay open later and there’s more people on the streets. I find there’s peak hours here. And then it kind of dies – like it fluctuates. In Montreal it’s a steady flow, and different types of people. There are places in Montreal that are very diversified. This particular neighborhood I think is one social group.

Andy: Everyone’s in Brooklyn now, and you gotta move.

Arezu: We were just in Brooklyn, actually. The only reason we left Brooklyn is because I’m staying here. But we would have stayed. Read more…

‘Boardwalk Empire’ Is Back, See

boardwalkSarah Darville

After a June shoot brought Model Ts to East 12th Street, “Boardwalk Empire” is back in the neighborhood. According to an employee at the Cornelia Connelly Center, the HBO drama will film in the back courtyard of 220 East Fourth Street on Monday. The building was erected before 1903, and was a Catholic school for boys before it became an orphan asylum; it now houses a Catholic middle school for girls as well as the Metropolitan Playhouse.

Next week’s shoot means production trucks will be commandeering almost nine blocks of parking along Fourth Street, Avenue A and Avenue B starting Sunday — so move your cars, unless you want them run over by one of these buggies.

Everybody in the Pool at Union Square! (Well, Not Everybody)

Photos: Jason Trobman

There was a swimming pool in Union Square today, but unlike the zip line that popped up some weeks ago, nobody got to use it.

The pool party was created for It’s So Miami, a campaign by the Greater Miami Convention and Tourism Bureau.

Spectators weren’t allowed in the water or on the chaises, and had to settle for tossing beach balls while free trips were given away. (Areas reserved for hunky models? That is so Miami!) Bouncing to club tunes and sipping coconut water, the models, at least, looked like they were having a blast, as did Karina Smirnoff from “Dancing with the Stars.”

Louis Aguirre, a Florida news reporter serving as master of ceremonies, touted Miami as the “sixth borough,” Hey, it’s not as crazy as it sounds.

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…

‘Rigby’ Goes Down: James McAvoy Spotted in Cooper Square

eleanorSarah Darville James McAvoy on set.

“The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby,” starring James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain, is shooting in the neighborhood today. Mr. McAvoy was spotted in Cooper Triangle this morning, and signs indicated that filming would continue around 41 Cooper Square. That means director Ned Benson must’ve found the locations he was looking for: In June, flyers posted on Tenth Street asked locals to volunteer their apartments for the film.

Viewfinder | Eight Million Stories, One at a Time

Man on 6th St

I have lived in and photographed the East Village since 1983. There really are eight million stories in the Naked City and you will find whatever one you want out there. Over eight million people live here, and I am going to photograph one or two of them at a time, alone with a situation. I want the viewer to feel the intimacy of this one person by that one building, to know there is a history here, to feel the narrative, without even knowing the story. And sometimes the building will tell me the story of the person who isn’t in the photo anymore.

This man is in front of a closed up space on East Sixth Street that used to be the Gladiators Gym. I was a member there in 1985. One of only two women that belonged. Kind of a hardcore lifting joint. Sad to see it closed up. I love the flat black paint, like a blackboard.
Read more…