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The Day | Walking Against Gentrification

SlowScott Lynch

Good morning, East Village.

East Village cyclists have been put on notice. City workers plan to discard several abandoned bikes near East First Street between Avenue A and First Avenue, according to a Department of Transportation sign spotted by EV Grieve. Better pick yours up by the end of the day.

The New York Daily News profiled former CBGB bartender Jane Danger, owner of Jane’s Sweet Buns. The shop, at 102 St. Marks Place, features baked goods with hints of alcohol, like a Rum Runner bun with nutmeg, cinnamon, raisins, brown sugar, Galliano liqueur and aged rum.

Finally, Neither More Nor Less, Marty After Dark, EV Grieve, and Gothamist have photos from Saturday’s protest against East Village gentrification. Activist John Penley and his crew started at East Third Street, found its way to the BMW Guggenheim Lab and ended at what used to be Mars Bar. A poem was read. A cigarette was lit. Signs were waved, and then the protestors went home.


State to Review Sales of Four Loko

FourLoko_cansChelsia Rose Marcius The banned drink was on sale last week.

As we told you last week, The Local found five East Village establishments selling the caffeinated version of Four Loko, the alcoholic beverage banned last year after the New York State Liquor Authority and in-state distributors agreed to stop selling the product.

Officials with the authority said today that they plan to look into the continued sale and distribution of the beverage.

“We’ll have to investigate how this product is still on the shelves,” said William Crowley, a spokesman for the authority. “If someone is selling that stuff illegally, it’s something we’re going to look into.”

Mr. Crowley said that investigation could include examining inventory records to determine where businesses are getting the drink. He said that Four Loko is a small part of distributor inventory, and for wholesalers to continue selling the product to retailers and “take a risk like that would be surprising.”

Store owners found selling the drink face fines ranging from $1,500 to $2,000 and other penalties, including the revocation of their liquor licenses.

Steve Harris, president of the New York State Beer Wholesalers Association, said it is highly unlikely — but not impossible — that retailers are getting the drink from New York distributors who are not a part of the association.

He noted that area businesses could also be “getting it illegally from New Jersey wholesalers or retailers,” or other out-of-state distributors.

“I can tell you unequivocally that none of my members sell the stimulant stuff anymore,” said Mr. Harris, whose group is made up of 44 distributors. “But there is another group of wholesalers that could still have it.”

Banned Version of Four Loko Still Sold

FourLoko_cansChelsia Rose Marcius An image of a store shelf at the Houston Village Farm on the corner of First Avenue and Fourth Street featuring the banned version of the caffeinated alcoholic beverage Four Loko.

Along the left-side wall of a bodega on Avenue B stands a row of glass door refrigerators, stocked with an assortment of alcoholic beverages from bottles of Budweiser to cans of Coors Light.

Three shelves down in the first fridge, there’s also another beer-like brew — Four Loko, the caffeinated alcoholic beverage that created a buzz before it was banned last year in several states, including New York.

The manager of this minimart — who spoke only on the condition of anonymity for fear of losing his job — said he knows it’s “illegal” to sell this version of the drink, an alcohol and caffeine combo that was manufactured by Phusion Projects last year before the company reformulated the product to eliminate caffeine. Yet more than seven months after the December 2010 ban took effect, several East Village establishments continue to sell the old Four Loko, a top selling brand name that brings some small businesses big bucks.

The Local visited 39 East Village establishments along Broadway, Third Avenue, Second Avenue, First Avenue, Avenue A, Avenue B, Avenue C and Avenue D. Of these, 26 sold the new, non-caffeinated Four Loko.

However, five stores — Le Basket, 683 Broadway; Houston Village Farm, 61 First Avenue; 1st Ave Village Farm & Grocery, 113 First Avenue; Village Magazine, Cigar & Gourmet Food, 102 Second Avenue; and 21 Produce Corp., 21 Avenue B. — were still selling the banned product, as of Thursday.
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For Locals, Shock at Mars Bar’s Closure

Mars Bar umbrellasJoshua Davis Former patrons of Mars Bar customers gathered outside the now-closed bar Monday night for an impromptu candlelight vigil.

Occasional customers and regulars at Mars Bar were shocked Monday night to learn that the Department of Health ordered the bar to close. City health inspectors found several sanitation violations and slapped a yellow “Closed” sticker on the bar’s front door Monday afternoon. Many East Villagers believe that Monday was the last time they’ll ever see Mars Bar open to the public.

Julie Turley, East Village resident since 1995 and a librarian at Borough of Manhattan Community College, said she loved the art on the walls at Mars Bar.

“I didn’t realize it was closing so soon. I don’t even drink really, but I always said if the Mars Bar closed, I would have to leave New York because it would be sort of the last slice of cake for that area — that represented this city’s grungy past. I never felt like I belonged there, but I’m still sad to see it go.”
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From Vance, A Call for Vigilance

IMG_0166Laura E. Lee Cyrus R. Vance Jr.

Fighting crime — on the Internet or on the street — takes community cooperation, said Manhattan’s district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., who spoke to residents at the 9th Precinct Community Council meeting Tuesday night.

Addressing a crowd of about 40 people at the precinct stationhouse, Mr. Vance said individuals have to be diligent about protecting personal information from identity theft. “The Internet is the crime scene of the 21st century,” he said.

While cybercrime is a real threat, Mr. Vance said the 500 attorneys in his office are continuing to collaborate with the local precincts to combat the more traditional crime involving “guns, gangs and drugs.”

Deputy Inspector Kenneth Lehr, commanding officer for the precinct, emphasized the need for citizens to take preventative action against crime as the weather grows warmer.

He warned the audience of some of the daily hazards in the summer, like leaving a window open or not keeping a careful eye on personal items at sidewalk cafes. Residents should be on the lookout for any unknown individuals on fire escapes and alert officers to their presence, he said.

Several residents voiced concerns about criminal activity in the region, mostly focused on underage drinking and drunken activity in the early morning hours.

“Underage drinking is a tremendous problem for us,” Inspector Lehr said. When police tested local bars for serving minors, 64 percent passed, he said.

The Council does not meet in July or August.

A $10 Interview

Kevin by Brendan BernhardBrendan BernhardKevin.

We met because he needed money, and I happened to be standing on Avenue A in bright, windy sunshine looking like someone who had more of it than he did. Not that he looked poor exactly. He was wearing a nifty white hat, a clean New York Jets shirt, and blue jeans. He was a tall, good-looking black man with a friendly smile and what appeared to be a positive attitude. Before handing over a buck, I asked him why he couldn’t find a job.

“Five felonies” was his crisp reply. It sounded like a movie title. One of the five, he said, involved a cut throat, but it was an “accident.” He’d served time (several times), had stayed out of jail since 2005, and had no plans on returning. We talked about this and that for a minute or so and then parted ways.

An hour later I ran into him again. He was walking down St. Marks Place. He looked cheerful and greeted me like a long lost friend. I’d already told him I was a journalist and so we decided to stop at a kebab house on First Avenue for a brief interview. Of course there was a price: We settled on $10. Since I refused to pay extra for food, he purchased a minute salad from the self-service counter, which left him with $8.81.

I quickly jotted down some basics. Name: Kevin. Age: 40. Birthplace: Yonkers. Mother a cleaning lady, father an alcoholic. It turned out Kevin did have a job of sorts: Selling roses on the street, mostly in SoHo. But since he also had five felonies on his record, and was panhandling, I cut to the chase.

“What’s the problem?” I asked.

“Women, drugs, and alcohol.”

“What’s your problem with women?”

“I never had a problem with women. I make a problem. I don’t trust ‘em.”
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Conversation | Liquor Licenses

Mars Bar, East Village, New York City 69Vivienne Gucwa A selection of bottles at Mars Bar.

Earlier this week, Community Board 3 voted to amend the policies for transferring liquor licenses when local businesses are bought and sold.

Save the Lower East Side said that the move “may be the most significant vote” that the board has ever taken.

The blog theorized that the move might reverse a trend that has seen rents rise and created a dense cluster of bars in the neighborhood.

“If prospective bar owners know that they must face the community to get license approval, they will be less likely to buy that business, especially here in areas of bar density, where there will be the most community objection. If bars are reluctant, landlords can’t count on high-rent bars for their commercial spaces, and will have to settle for lower-rent businesses. That will lower commercial rents and bring commercial diversity.”

We’d like to hear your thoughts about the board’s decision. Is it a good thing that prospective bar owners may now have to think twice about coming to the East Village? Or are those businesses being unfairly targeted? Let us know. Put your response in the comments section below.

The Final Days Of Four Loko

It’s the final day to buy Four Loko.

After today, it will be illegal for any retailer to sell the alcoholic energy drink in New York, and other states are following suit.

In the final week of Four Loko sales, fans of the beverage have been emptying their wallets to stock up and clearing East Village bodegas of their supplies in the process. Beer distributors and the Chicago-based Four Loko manufacturer, Phusion Projects, were asked to stop restocking the product as of Nov. 19. Retailers who fail to unload the product by today will have to pay a fine.

Why all the fuss? One 24-ounce can of Four Loko contains approximately the same amount of alcohol as five beers, plus the caffeine content of three cups of coffee. In the East Village, most cans, which boast 12 percent alcohol by volume, were selling for $3 or $4.

NYU Journalism’s Claire Glass reports.

Exploring The Roots Of Binge Drinking

bar story continental drink specials
bar story 13th step beer specialSimon McCormack Bars around the East Village, including The Continental (top) and the 13th Step, regularly offer promotional deals on alcoholic drinks. Research has found a link between those promotions and instances of binge-drinking.

Kelly Kellam and Michael Russinik were walking on Third Avenue near St. Marks Place when something caught their eye.

The sign over the door of the Continental bar where Mr. Kellam and Mr. Russinik found themselves one early Wednesday evening read simply: “5 shots of anything $10 all day/all night.”

“We said jokingly, ‘Hey, let’s each go get five shots’ and then there was that awkward pause,” Mr. Russinik said. “Then we were, like, ‘Let’s do it.’”

Mr. Kellam and Mr. Russinik said they would not have come into The Continental if it weren’t for the prominently advertised drink special. But do bargain drink prices at bars encourage people to drink too much?

Susan Foster, vice president and director of policy research and analysis at The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, said bars have a major impact on drinking culture.

“The research finds a significant link between price-related alcohol promotions, easy access to alcohol and binge drinking,” Ms. Foster said in an e-mail message. “Study findings suggest that an environment that is not only conducive to drinking, but encouraging of drinking, and in which alcohol is inexpensive and easily accessed, makes excessive alcohol use seem normal.”
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At Salons, Combining Suds and Scissors

IMG_7476Helen Zhang Alx Alvarez is a stylist at Salon 13, at 212 Avenue B, one of several salons in the East Village that offers customers wine or beer while they wait.

I am finally sitting in the hairdresser’s chair, after nervously picking off most of my blue nail polish. My anxiety has been building for about two days since I made my annual appointment to cut my tailbone-length locks. In the past too many too-generous inches were chopped off without warning, so it’s hard to keep my cool once those pointed scissors come at me.

But stylist Alx Alvarez at Salon 13, at 212 Avenue B, assures me that she had been cutting hair for 20 years, styling the likes of Tommy Lee and Kate Hudson. Despite the fact that she was slugging down a 40 of Yuengling beer, I decided to trust her. To help me relax, she offered me a Coors Light.
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Liquor License Denied for Diner

DSC01892Stephanie Butnick Angry neighbors of Table 12 hold up signs in protest of the East Village diner’s application for a liquor license. The application was denied.

Amid protests from angry neighbors, a Community Board panel refused Monday night to recommend that a new liquor license be granted to an East Village diner.

The diner, Table 12, a 24-hour eatery at 188 Avenue A, had applied to the State Liquor Authority committee for a new wine and beer license. The committee regulates liquor licenses in the East Village for Community Board 3.

But those who live near the bar – including about a half dozen residents who held up red signs reading “No More” – asked the committee to reject the request citing concerns about, noise, vandalism and alcohol-related violence.
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