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My Reading Was Usurped By Slurpees!

ScottFonzCourtesy Scott Kenemore What passes for fun in the Midwest.

We have 7-Eleven stores here in Chicago, thank you very much.

I was supposed to come to New York this month to give a reading from my new novel about a zombie attack on the Windy City. I bought myself a plane ticket (not that expensive on JetBlue, but still) and was all but eagerly clutching it in anticipation. (If you’re not from the Midwest, you might not have a sense of how excited I was: a reading in the East Village, in a cool bar, and as part of the Guerrilla Lit Reading Series was something to look forward to.)

But then the venue — Bar on A — was closed, reportedly to make way for a new 7-Eleven. This development was was harder to swallow than a KZ3™ Battle Fuel Slurpee.

When you’re a writer living in Chicago, you think of New York City as “headquarters.” It’s where your agent and publisher are, where important stuff happens, and where you occasionally get to go for meetings or readings or whatever. It’s fun and cool and inspiring, and filled with interesting things. It’s awesome for writers in ways the metropolis of the Midwest is often not.

Being a writer in Chicago can feel like trying to meet women at a party thrown by a church. I am not the first person to have observed this. In “Chicago: City on the Make,” Nelson Algren bemoans “a city whose pleasures are so chaste” and laments the “hipless biddies entitling themselves ‘Friends of Literature’” who stand ever-ready to throw a stuffy daytime function where the punch is non-alcoholic and the conversation is polite.

Writers don’t want this.

Writers want to go to places like the East Village and womanize and get drunk and meet interesting, daring, wonderful, terrible people. Read more…

Tompkins Square Bagels Will ‘Pummel’ 7-Eleven, Says Owner

plywoodAnnie Fairman

Plywood went up today on the corner of East 11th Street and Avenue A, where on Monday a construction worker told The Local that the former home of Bar On A would become a 7-Eleven. The owner of Tompkins Square Bagels isn’t taking the development lying down: commenting on Monday’s post, Christopher Pugliese (never shy about the corporate convenience store) said his bagel shop would deliver “a full-service smack-down” to its new neighbor across the street.

Don’t worry about Tompkins Square Bagels. We are going to pummel 7 Eleven. This isn’t Long Island or a truck stop off I-95; microwaved eggs and push button cappuccino out of a fountain isn’t going to cut it here. We look forward handing Joe DePinto and crew a full service smack down the likes of which will they have never experienced and will relish the embarrassment the failure of their Avenue A store will bring to the entire 7 Eleven corporation. It’s on boys and I’m going to win.

Mr. Pugliese’s comment came in response to this one, from reader MarcellaD.   Read more…

Shakeup On A: Diablo Royale Este Closes, Bar On A ‘Temporarily Closed’ As Well

diabloDaniel Maurer

A couple of troubled establishments on Avenue A have closed, and it’s uncertain whether they’ll reopen. A sign on the window of Diablo Royale Este indicates the Mexican spot is closed “until further notice” and redirects patrons to the West Village original. And a reader uses our Virtual Assignment Desk to express concern about Bar on A, also between 10th and 11th Streets: “The last couple times I’ve walked by it’s been closed,” writes the tipster. The bar’s outgoing phone message indicates, without explanation, that it is indeed “temporarily closed.”

Both businesses had a troubled history. Bar on A’s owner, Bob Scarrano, died in 2010 after surgery to address esophageal cancer, and his widow fell behind on the rent, according to an associate of the bar who spoke to The Local in May. That associate said at the time that an upstairs neighbor had called 311 numerous times in an attempt to shut down the bar. The neighbor said she was only trying to resolve “excessive noise” issues. In July, EV Grieve noticed a listing indicating that bar’s space was on the market.

Diablo Royale’s headaches were similar: during an acrimonious community board meeting last November, neighbors who had been complaining of noise since 2010 accused the restaurant of “contributing to turning Avenue A into a booze-filled entertainment zone.” Read more…

Leigh Stein ‘Can’t Go to the East Village Anymore,’ But Reads Here Tonight

Screen shot 2012-07-25 at 4.48.44 PMCourtesy Leigh Stein

At 7:30 tonight, Leigh Stein, a novelist and former editorial staffer at the New Yorker, will read from her new book of poetry, “Dispatch from the Future,” at Bar on A. We spoke to the Brooklynite about bad dates in the East Village and an awkward shopping trip to the St. Mark’s Bookshop.


The trailer for your new poetry collection begins, “I can’t go to the East Village anymore…” How do you feel about coming back to the neighborhood for your book reading?


I love the neighborhood but I avoided it for years because it brought back weird, painful memories. Now I’ve grown up a bit, and can enjoy life again. Bar on A is actually one of my favorite bars in the area. I had a “Where the Wild Things Are”-themed birthday party there a few years ago. I wore a faux fur stole. Read more…

At Bar on A, a Familiar Scenario of Neighbor Versus Nightlife

Bar On ADaniel Maurer The bar at 170 Avenue A.

Once again, it’s neighbor versus nightlife: Bar on A is locked in a battle of wills with an upstairs tenant who has frequently complained to city authorities about what she says is “extreme noise.”

However, a person associated with the 17-year-old watering hole, which opened around the same time as the recently shuttered Lakeside Lounge, blames the neighbor for incessant complaints which he says have cost the establishment tens of thousands of dollars in revenue and even resulted in a police raid.

Mitch, an associate of Bar on A who did not want to be identified by his last name owing to the bar’s delicate situation, blamed the present conflict on “this nuisance neighbor who’s abusing the 311 system and recruiting people like a vigilante to hang us and hang everybody else in the neighborhood.” Read more…

The Day | Is Aziz Ansari The Mayor of the East Village?

Laundromat, Lower East Side, New York City - 0001Vivienne Gucwa

Top of the morning to you, East Village!

Ephemeral New York mourns some bygone record shops, including the Saint Mark’s Music Exchange, but it’s not all doom and gloom on St. Marks. EV Grieve notices that the space that briefly housed the CBGB store now hosts a tattoo and tobacco accessories shop. Speaking of CBGB, Bowery Boogie reports that John Varvatos and Jesse Malin of Niagara are teaming up to host a Sirius XM show, “New York Nights…Direct from the Bowery.”

EV Grieve notices web postings indicating that Bar on A seems to be for sale and Banjo Jim will close on Tuesday; meanwhile City Room remembers Mars Bar’s alternate identity as an art gallery, and WNYC also revisits the dive’s closing. Elsewhere on the art scene, EV Grieve gets a glimpse of the BMW Guggenheim Lab’s food menu, by East Williamsburg pizza destination Roberta’s; and the Times considers Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s online gallery of photographs from the East Village in the 1980s, also on display at the Asia Society.

Finally, New York magazine strolls the neighborhood with onetime “mayor of the East Village” Aziz Ansari. The actor and comedian identifies “East Village dogs” and interrogates a NYC Icy employee: “This is pumpkin flavor, not pumpkin-pie flavor. Pumpkin pie has pie crust in it.”

The Day | Targeting Stolen Bikes

Bicycles on 6th Street, East VillageAdrian Fussell

Good morning, East Village.

The Times reported that the police conducted an undercover sting operation in the East Village trying to find people who would purchase stolen bikes. The sting targeted bike messengers, specifically mentioning those at S’MAC on 12th Street and Haveli on Second Avenue. Gothamist said that the sting, which lead to three arrests, should be called “Operation Bark Up The Wrong Tree.” Sting operations are not uncommon, and the Department of Consumer Affairs is currently recruiting public participants to help them catch supermarkets who are overlooking basic requirements.

The most publicized bar in the neighborhood — Mars Bar — is set to be demolished next month. The owner, Hank Penza, and his associates are taking bricks from the walls and the cinderblocks from the exterior wall to use in his rumored new bar.

While Jeremiah continues to lament the loss of the “Chow Mein” sign, Off The Grid has a really lovely post on the oft-overlooked fire escapes that greatly impact our urban landscape. In addition to taking a serious look back at the history and need for fire escapes at the turn of the century, the post also includes pictures of some of the more artistic instances of such “iron in the sky.”

Even though the rats in Tompkins Square Park may be over-publicized at the moment, the issue is still alive and well in the East Village. Rat traps were spotted by an EV Grieve reader outside of the new BMW Guggenheim lab which is set to open next Wednesday. The public’s distaste for rats is so evident that it has lent the sentiment to a new reality series: The Animal Planet is going to air a six-part reality series called “Rat Busters NYC” which focuses around two managers of an extermination company that “tackle rat families bigger than their own, and other metropolitan pests like roaches, mice, bedbugs, raccoons and pigeons.”

Viewfinder | ‘Kitty Nights’

John Galayda on photographing the Kitty Nights burlesque show at Bar on A in the East Village.


“It’s an ordinary Sunday night at a bar in the East Village, and a group of
regulars begin to trickle in through the door. But instead of sitting at the
bar, these regulars — Creamy Stevens, Minnie Tonka, Anja Keister, La Maia, and Fem Appeal — sit near a dimly lit stage and apply glitter to their busts,
lotion to their legs, and makeup to their faces.”
Read more…

A Touch Of Burlesque On Avenue A

burlesque08John Galayda Anja Keister performs during the Kitty Nights burlesque show at Bar on A. The show, which has been running at the bar since 2006, is one of the few remaining burlesque acts in the East Village.

While for most people Sunday is a day of relaxation, filled with leisurely strolls or The Times crossword puzzle, at Bar on A, Sundays are anything but tame. The wild felines of Kitty Nights, the bar’s weekly burlesque show, close out each weekend with salaciously provocative entertainment.

Founded in June 2006 by producer and performer Fem Appeal, Kitty Nights is now one of the few remaining burlesque shows in the East Village.

Yet, in addition to hosting the last of the scantily clad Mohicans, at its heart Kitty Nights is a tribute to the strength of small neighborhoods that can often get lost amidst constant change and development.
Read more…