Heart N’ Soul Closes, But Will Get CPR

photo-40Michael Herman Muff of Mama’s Bar.

Six-week-old Heart N’ Soul closed yesterday with a note on the door claiming the chef “had a nervous breakdown.”

Today, Richard Freedman, the owner of the restaurant and its building on East Third Street, said the southern spot would reopen in a week and a half. “His food was good,” Mr. Freedman said of chef David Conn. “It turns out he was just saying wacky things. He gave us so many excuses why he couldn’t get a burger over to the bar. Last night he skipped a dinner for 50 and I had to give them a big tab at the bar next door.”

The general manager of Mama’s Bar, who goes by the name of Muff, said Mr. Conn “saw things different than anyone else” and added that “he was not in reality.”

“I don’t want to do the he-said-she said,” Mr. Freedman added with a chuckle.

The Local saw Mr. Freedman, the landlord who gave Mama’s Food Shop the boot, in front of Mama’s Bar a few weeks ago appearing to show the space to the operators of a few downtown cocktail lounges. Despite this, Mr. Freedman insisted the bar was not for sale. “I’ve owned it for 10 years and the business does very well,” he said.

Update: David Conn has this to say about his departure.

Chefs and owners are like oil and water. Richard Freeman, the owner of Heart n Soul began panicking about lack of business after 3 week (exacerbated by the fact that an old noise complaint from his bar postponed his liquor license). He had not advertised, marketed, nor promoted Heart n Soul. He was greatly angered that I took it upon myself to take interviews. He began cutting my staff–my manager and sous left solid jobs to work for me. Then he told me I needed to figure how to open for breakfast and lunch. He was desperate. I left that night, seeing that he would rather compromise what we set out to do, than stay the course and develop a brand. And yes, he had a dinner party the following night, but my vision had been blinded and I was sure it was terminal. There was never a conversation that might suggest I was angry, much less in the throes of a “nervous breakdown.” If I had $1600 to throw at a lawsuit, I would have pursued libel/defamation. Our reviews were great, Yelp was great….his patience, nonexistent.

Nightclubbing | Strange Party, 1980

Pat Ivers and Emily Armstrong are sifting through their voluminous archive of punk-era concert footage as it’s digitized for the Downtown Collection at N.Y.U.’s Fales Library.

image-1-1 Strange Party

Described by the Soho Weekly News as “New York’s best party band,” Strange Party was a witty, stylish group serving up a fizzy cocktail of performance art with a dash of Latin-infused new wave. They were a huge outfit with six backup musicians and four vocalists upfront. And what vocalists! Led by downtown art star Joey Arias, the quartet was rounded out by Tony Frere, Paige Wood, and Janus Budde. They were eccentric and compelling — their guitarist George Elliot once described the band as  “a little like heavy metal Ricky Ricardo.” Joey suggested they were just trying to turn art into fun.

Strange Party’s look was as unique as their sound. Tony Frere remembers Betsey Johnson occasionally lending a styling hand, but for the most part, their image was based on their own individual style. Still, as Kristian Hoffman (ex-Mumps, Contortions) told us, there could be no Strange Party without Klaus Nomi. Klaus was a German-born, downtown legend. Known for his wildly stylized makeup and theatrical performances, he was as likely to sing operatic arias as a cover of  “The Twist.” In 1978, he got his start at Club 57’s New Age Vaudeville show, auditioning for Ann Magnuson. “He came on at the end,” Hoffman said, “and no one would believe that he was really singing because his voice was so beautiful. I formed a band with him right after that and I helped guide him from opera to pop-era.”
Read more…

East Houston Hotel Gets Epically Tagged

Hotel2WebFrank Mastropolo

Looks like somebody managed to leave a three-story tag on the side of the East Houston Hotel, on the corner of Houston and Eldridge Streets. They don’t call the Lower East Side “vibrant and eclectic” for nothing.

The Day | Varvatos and Iggy Pop Luxuriate On Bowery

EAST VILLAGE dogs in strollerGloria Chung

Good morning, East Village.

An ad for Chrysler’s John Varvatos 300C Limited Edition features Iggy Pop on the Bowery. [Neighborhoodr]

Police are looking for two men wanted for an alleged sexual abuse and robbery on the Lower East Side. [NY1]

A new exhibit, “The Old Becomes The New: New York Contemporary Native American Art Movement And The New York School” continues at Wilmer Jennings Gallery at Kenkeleba (219 East Second Street) through June 2. [Hyperallergic]
Read more…

A Look at East Side Community High’s Colorful ‘Homecoming’

Tim Schreier

“Homecoming: A Community Art Show” opened today at East Side Community High School. As noted yesterday, art teachers Desiree Borrero and Leigh Klonsky (shown in the last slide, above) asked students, parents, and staffers of the school to reflect on four months spent in exile while their East 12th Street building was repaired. Here’s a look at some of the 800-plus tiles they created.

Smile, You’re On Camera: $800K Security Upgrade at Smith Houses

DSC00745Kavitha Surana

It’s official: security cameras are now trained on all 12 buildings of the Alfred E. Smith Houses. The New York City Public Housing authority announced today that it had added 78 new cameras across seven buildings, bringing full coverage to the Lower East Side housing development.

“It already changed the pissing in the elevators, I’m not going to lie,” said William Green, a 60-year resident of the complex.

Members of the Smith Houses tenants association, politicians, and housing authority officials celebrated the long sought-after security upgrade today, coming together in a rare show of unity during a time of walkouts and boycotts over the agency’s hotly contested land-lease infill proposal.

According to housing authority’s chairman, John B. Rhea, three people have been arrested in the past week because of the cameras. One incident involved vandalism, another was an apparent assault, and the third involved someone trying unsuccessfully to break the cameras in the lobby, a spokesperson for the housing authority later told The Local. Read more…

CB 3 Agenda: Spanish Sandwicherie, Italian Risotteria On the Way

Screen Shot 2013-04-24 at 5.43.25 PM

A Spanish fast-food chain is bound for the Lower East Side and an Italian risotteria is headed for the East Village, by the looks of Community Board 3’s newly released May calendar of meetings.

100 Montaditos — a Spanish chain serving mini sandwiches and sangria that plans to bring 20 locations to New York City, according to DNA Info — will plead its case for a beer-and-wine license at 177 Ludlow Street during the May 20 meeting of C.B. 3’s liquor licensing committee.

Meanwhile, Risotteria Melotti, a restaurant near the Italian city of Romeo and Juliet, intends to open its first U.S. outpost at 309 East Fifth Street. The eatery, operated by a Verona-based family of risotto producers, will feature “a wide range of risotto prepared according to typical Italian techniques and methods, using authentic and genuine ingredients only,” according to its Website. You can see the preview menu here.

These aren’t the only newcomers that will ask the committee to bless their booze bids. Hop over to C.B. 3’s Website for the full run-down, including Papaya King’s application for beer, Heart n’ Soul’s plea for a sidewalk cafe and oh, so much more.

Watch Jimmy McMillan’s ‘Rent Is Too Damn High’ Music Video

Funny we were just mentioning Jimmy McMillan: the one and only “Rent Is Too Damn High” guy just released a music video produced by Animal New York. Watch as the mayoral hopeful gets down outside of the Jacob Riis Houses as well as at the corner of St. Marks Place and Second Avenue, just a block from his apartment. With lines like “The rent is too damn high / my mustache and haircut is too damn fly,” this is an Instant. Classic.

The 7-Eleven Debate Plods On

Video: Simran Khosla
UntitledDaniel Maurer Corner of 11th and A: “I can see 3 bodegas from
this [spot]”

In case you haven’t seen the flyers all over the neighborhood, there’s a “No 7-Eleven” meeting tonight from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., at 93 St. Marks Place.

While the grassroots movement plots ways to block the chain’s alleged plan to “over-saturate the neighborhood with locations and remove any and all competition” Steven Matthews, on his Quilas blog, continues to question No 7-Eleven’s mission and accuse it of class bias. “They could have shone a light on conditions of workers at bodegas, as I did,” he wrote yesterday. “They could have examined why the choices were limited to 7‑Elevens and bodegas, as I did. Instead they ignored it all, focusing on superficialities and nativist fears.”

Our question: how do 7-Eleven customers feel about all this? We’ve already heard from Jimmy McMillan, the mayoral hopeful who wants 7-Elevens to pop up all over the place. Recently, we hit the street with iPhone cameras rolling and spoke to a few more Big Gulpers. Video above.

The Day | NYU Student in Pellet Gun Bust

Rollerblader Statue on CouchFrank Mastropolo

Good morning, East Village.

“An NYU psychology student was busted Monday for allegedly turning his dorm room into an air- rifle factory where he assembled and sold illegal pellet guns used in recreational war games, cops said.” [NY Post]

“Staff at a lower East Side school roughed up a 7-year-old special-needs student and falsely claimed he tried to commit suicide in a desperate attempt to cover up their own incompetence, a lawsuit claims.” [NY Daily News]

The New Museum’s Ideas City festival, which hits the Bowery May 1, will take place in a “70-foot mirrored shed that will stand in front of the museum and reflect the surrounding cityscape and sky.” [Wall Street Journal, DNA Info]
Read more…

East Side Community High School Students Turn Exile Into Art

Kelsey Kudak and Leigh Klonsky
IMG_9908Kelsey Kudak More than 800 tiles like this will be hung in
the school’s gallery

“Community” is one word East Side Community High School takes seriously, and not just because it’s a part of its name.

After structural damages shut down their building on East 12th Street in September, students and administrators began to learn that although a community is not confined to a central location, it certainly makes a difference.

When art teachers Leigh Klonsky and Desiree Borrero were finally allowed to return to the building after four months, they decided to curate an all-school art show that would allow students to express their experiences about the unexpected exile. The result — a collection of more than 800 tiles created by students, family members, and staff — will be displayed for sale in the school’s art gallery starting tomorrow. Read more…

School Historian: ‘You Can See Peter Cooper Rolling Over In His Grave’

cooperJoanna Marshall

Students ringed Cooper Union’s Foundation Building to “give it a hug” after an announcement that the school would end its practice of providing full scholarships to all undergraduates.

As a half dozen police officers kept watch, students, alumni and faculty gathered beneath a large banner — reading “FREE EDUCATION TO ALL” — strung between two trees in Cooper Triangle.

Despite the police entourage, the scene was rather subdued. “This is a very emotional day for us,” said Victoria Sobel, a senior in the School of Art. “We knew that this news was coming, but it’s hard to finally hear that the school has given up our legacy of free education. The students really just want to be together today.” Read more…

“The Newsroom” Coming to Ave B


Just a couple of weeks after HBO announced that “The Newsroom” would be back for a second season, signs have gone up along Avenue B, just above Tompkins Square Park, indicating that Aaron Sorkin’s news drama, starring Jeff Daniels and Emily Mortimer, will film there. The notice at left says the shoot will occur Thursday evening but a locations person said interior and exterior shots are slated for Friday night. We’re not sure what to believe: paging Will McAvoy?

Astor Extravanganza: Bike-Share Stations, Plaza Benches Have Arrived

plazaSamantha Balaban
photo-6(1)Fatima Malik

Astor Place was buzzing today as a slew of bike-share docks were installed on Lafayette Street and construction of a public plaza at 51 Astor neared completion.

The Local noticed this morning that benches had come to the plaza at 51 Astor Place. When we popped into the construction site, we were directed to a project manager on the second floor, where we were able to snap the photo above. Looking good, eh?
Read more…

Students Demand Answers As Cooper Union Ends Full Rides

Cooper Union TuitionJoanna Marshall

Following an announcement that Cooper Union would cut scholarships for incoming students to 50 percent next year, current students and faculty members furiously scribbled questions onto slips of paper and shouted complaints during a tense back-and-forth at the school’s Great Hall.

Mark Epstein, chairman of the school’s Board of Trustees, read from the slips of paper, but it quickly became apparent that he wasn’t addressing all of them. “Why are you skipping questions?” a student called out.

“I am not reading the questions that are offensive or inflammatory or that I have already answered,” replied Mr. Epstein.

Mr. Epstein did reassure the crowd that the price of tuition won’t go up in the immediate future, but said that inflation would likely increase the price down the road. When a student asked what could be done to stop inflation, he replied, “You could all donate to the school.” Read more…

Petition Demands Former P.S. 64 Building Be Returned to Community Use

ps 64Daniel Maurer

As if Cooper Union didn’t have enough on its plate today, the East Village Community Coalition is circulating an online petition demanding that the school “not house students” in the former P.S. 64 building, which should instead be “returned to use for our community.”

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Cooper Union had signed a 15-year agreement securing 200 beds in the 500-bed dorm proposed for 605 East Ninth Street, the former home of P.S. 64 and, later, CHARAS. Developer Gregg Singer’s plan for the conversion got the blessing of Community Board 3’s Landmarks subcommittee earlier this month.

Among the 188 people who had signed the petition at the time of this post were Andrew Coamey, Sara Romanoski, and other members of the Community Coalition; Chad Marlow, founder of the Tompkins Square Park and Playgrounds Parents Association; Rob Hollander, author of the Save the Lower East Side blog and founder of the No 7-Eleven campaign; Laurie Mittelmann of the Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space; Joyce Ravitz, president of the Cooper Square Committee, and Rev. Richard Del Rio, a candidate for City Council who wrote, “The school must be returned to the community. We need programs for our kids and suffer from a lack of space.”

It’s Official: Cooper Union Will Reduce Full Scholarships to 50 Percent

IMG_20130423_122441_743Joanna Marshall

Cooper Union will cut in half the full scholarships it has traditionally awarded to incoming undergraduates beginning in the fall of next year, the Board of Trustees announced today.

Mark Epstein, chairman of the Board, made the announcement to a packed room at the school’s Great Hall this afternoon.

Mr. Epstein said the school would continue to offer larger and even full scholarships to those in need and would maintain a needs-blind admissions policy, but the long-dreaded and much-protested cut to full scholarships, which have been awarded to all students for over 100 years, was a necessary step toward financial solvency.
Read more…

Mama’s Got a New Mural

UntitledDaniel Maurer

Just noticed the new mural at Heart n’ Soul, on East Third Street. What do you think? Better than Mama, below? Read more…

The Day | Richie Havens Dead at 72

Yoko One: Don't Frack New York, at ABC CarpetScoboco Yoko Ono’s Anti-Fracking Posters outside ABC Home

Good Morning, East Village.

Richie Havens has died at 72. The folk icon lived in the East Village around the time of his legendary Woodstock performance and played shows at the Fillmore East. [NY Daily News]

The Jefferson building has released the floor plans and prices for its condos…hope you’re sitting down when you read the numbers. [Curbed NY]

“A nude model who used a topless tour to convince cops not to shut down a racy photo exhibit at a Lower East Side gallery has been forced to cover up after the landlord threatened to terminate the gallery’s lease.” [NY Post]
Read more…

Street Scenes | He’s Golden

IMG_9944 copy

“Gold Guy” made an appearance this afternoon at the Astor Place cube. After aiming an aeresol can of gold paint at his face, he turned it toward the desk chair and naked mannequin he planned to use as props during a show in Union Square.

“I’ve been doing this for 12 years,” he told The Local.

So how’s the human statue business these days? “I do alright,” he said.