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Bowery Poetry Club to Add Restaurant

DNAInfo reports that the Bowery Poetry Club will close for around one month starting in mid-July to make way for full food service. “There will be a better mix of food and art,” club owner Bob Holman tells the site, without going into further detail about how the well known performance space will change. The news comes after much concern over the poetry club’s fate. Last month EV Grieve noted its nearly empty events calendar for August. And a Kickstarter for a restaurant in the club was quickly abandoned in May.

Howl! Festival: Looking for a Happy Fix in Tompkins Square Park

Photos: Chris O. Cook.

It’s Allen Ginsberg’s birthday weekend and today Tompkins Square Park was buzzing with art, dance, music, and, um, bouncy castles and face-painting. Yes: it’s Howl! Festival.

Howl! Festival, Bob HolmanChris O. Cook Bob Holman, a festival organizer.

Bob Perl, an organizer of the annual happening, told The Local it was created as a nod to the neighborhood’s abounding influence. “The idea was that the East Village mindset is not just tied to here,” he said. “It’s had effects in places like Kyoto. There are creatives who come out of here and they become part of the diaspora and there are some that remain here, but this is a great place for us to all gather, and an opportunity for everyone to come out at least for a few days a year to create the scene that was so potent and vital down here.”

Indeed, the festival drew many former East Villagers, including Susan Martin, who came back from her current home in New Mexico to serve as Howl!’s publicist. She was keen to emphasize that the festival raises money for Howl! H.E.L.P., created to provide emergency assistance to local artists. “Up until the time of Howl!, if you were a drag queen and you got sick, and you didn’t have health insurance, good luck,” she said. Read more…

Party People | Linda Simpson, Drag Queen

We’ve introduced you to the DJ and the musician. Know who else keeps the East Village popping? Linda Simpson, the self-declared “multimedia drag queen artiste” who with fellow legend Murray Hill hosts Monday Night Bingo at the Bowery Poetry Club. She tells The Local what it was like living in the East Village when it was the epicenter of New York City’s drag scene and clues us into some of her current favorite places to walk on the wild side.

Poetry Club’s Beekeeper Defends Bowery Hives

bees5Philip Ross The swarm capture on Wednesday.

Before Bee Week concludes here on The Local, we should mention that Timothy O’Neal, the beekeeper who tends to the bees on the rooftop of the 308 Bowery, got back to us today to tell us why exactly he thinks the bees that swarmed near Bleecker Street on Wednesday likely came from a neighboring hive rather than those belonging to Bowery Poetry Club owner Bob Holman.

According to the beekeeper, swarms don’t leave a hive until developing queens are properly nursed and are a day or two from emerging as adults. “When I inspected his hives, I found signs that they were preparing to swarm by creating queen cells, but that they were not far enough along for the swarm to have departed, and the population density was very high,” Mr. O’Neal wrote in an e-mail to The Local.  Read more…

The Day | What’s the Anarchist-Occupy Connection?

IMG_3229Stephen Rex Brown Scaffolding went up at Second Avenue and Sixth Street yesterday.

Good morning, East Village.

If you missed our coverage earlier this morning of Community Board 3’s S.L.A. committee meeting last night, well then here it is. The Standard East Village didn’t show up to pitch its dining overhaul, but a couple of iconic bars, Joe’s and Nice Guy Eddie’s, got nods of approval for new ownership.

The Mosaic Man tipped us off to his latest work outside of the Bean on Second Avenue. This one is a tribute to the building’s notorious “crazy landlord.”

While organizers of the Anarchist Book Fair disavowed Satuday’s violenceSalon tackled the question of just how much the mayhem had to do with Occupy Wall Street. Natasha Lennard witnessed the impromptu march: “It was rowdy, energetic and fast. Barricades and trash cans were dragged into the street to stop traffic and impede the police cars that eventually arrived on the scene. At one point, two young women watching the surge of people winding through stalled traffic asked me whether this was an ‘Occupy thing.’ I answered ‘yes.’ But, as I soon appreciated, it’s more complicated than that.” Meanwhile, the Daily News digs in to one suspect’s arrest record.  Read more…

Espresso Yourself: Bowery Poetry Club Gets New Cafe

photo(71)Daniel Maurer Andy Koszewski at the cafe’s front counter.

The Bowery Poetry Club’s front café, which went dark after Bowery Beef closed last summer, is once again brewing coffee, this time under the eye of a former manager at Think Coffee’s Mercer Street location (not the Bowery location just a block away – that would be awkward).

Andy Koszewski, the café’s new operator, opened shop earlier today, and is pouring drip coffee ($2.50, refills $1.50) from Anodyne Coffee Roasting Co., a stylish small-batch roaster from his hometown of Milwaukee, Wis. Once the La Marzocco machine is back from the repair shop later this week, he’ll be pulling espresso ($2.50) for cappuccinos ($3.75), mochas ($4.25) and the like. Also on offer: Chai lattes, hot chocolate, and eventually croissants and quiches from Ceci Cela Patisserie, salads from Choice Greens, and cookies from Salt of the Earth Bakery. Read more…

The Day | Recalling Punk Palaces and a Motorcycle Club Without Motorcycles

Do Your Best!Clint McMahon

Good morning, East Village.

EV Grieve reports that roast-beef joint Bowery Beef is likely leaving the Bowery Poetry Club, where owner Bob Holman has taken over booking.

Flaming Pablum shares a clip of Cro-Mags vocalist John “Bloodclot” Joseph leading his tour of the East Village. Mr. Joseph promises, “It’s the only place you can hear about murders, drugs, and vegan food all on the same tour.”

According to East Village Eats, Casimir’s new owner Mario Carta has started a brunch deal that gets you bottomless mimosas and Bloody Marys for $19.95.

An episode of “Let Them Talk” just posted to YouTube features playwright Juan Valenzuela recalling the glory days of the Nuyorican poetry movement. Along with Pedro Pietri, Mr. Valenzuela led the Latin Insomniacs Motorcycle Club.

An Honor for the Poet Bob Holman

Philip Kalantzis Cope

This evening the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation gathers for its 31st annual meeting and presentation of awards to honor individuals, groups, businesses who have made significant contributions to the area. This year’s winners include Bob Holman, founder of the Bowery Poetry Club, and the Fourth Arts Block.

Founded in 1980, the society is dedicated to preserving the architectural heritage and cultural legacy of Greenwich Village, the East Village, NoHo, the Gansevoort Market, and South Village. Their myriad activities include historical and architectural research, lectures, tours and publications. Currently, the group is at the forefront of the effort to designate parts of the East Village as historic landmarks.

Bob Holman has been tirelessly involved in promoting poetry and the arts on the Lower East Side during the past four decades through a host of activities. Most recently, he emceed the reading of Allen Ginsberg’s epic “Howl” at Howlfest. He served as coordinator of the Poetry Project at St Mark’s. In 1987, he helped reopen the Nuyorican Poets Café where he served as slam master for newly introduced poetry slams.

In 2002, he realized a vision in founding The Bowery Poetry Club, a venue where poets, musicians, playwrights  and artists are able to present their work seven days a week.

Tonight’s event, which is open to the public, begins at 6:30 p.m. and is being held at The Village Community School located at 272 West 10th Street. Come and join the festivities.

Another Chance to Howl

Howl! festival: Art Around the Park.eastvillagedenizen A scene from last year’s Howl Festival.

Allen Ginsberg first moved to the East Village in October 1952, renting apartment 16 of 206 East Seventh Street, for which he paid $33.60 a month rent. He lived in the neighborhood for the rest of his life, staying in a number of tenements until his death in 1997.

This evening at 5, the eighth annual Howlfest kicks off in Tompkins Square Park with a reading of his epic poem “Howl” by a host of noted poets including John Giorno, Hettie Jones, and Ed Sanders. The reading will be emceed by Bob Holman of the Bowery Poetry Club. The reading should have added impact, as today would have been Ginsberg’s 85th birthday.

This annual extravaganza of local creative energy continues throughout the weekend with a full calendar of events. In addition to poetry, local musicians, dancers, actors and artists will all be presenting their work. Perhaps the world’s longest canvas will be erected on the park fence and you will have the opportunity of viewing 140 artists work on their creations in their section.

The beautiful weather forecast for the weekend is sure to draw crowds and you should head over to Tompkins Square to join in the celebration.

Multiple Directions for a New City

Festival of Ideas (21 of 56)
Phoenix Eisenberg

The range of life forms seen around the East Village and Lower East Side this past weekend was pretty astonishing, when you think about it: all the way from top-rank architects, artists, and scholars to bees and worms.

The Festival of Ideas for the New City hosted over 100 events, from small gallery projects to expensive international design competitions, and put a spotlight on this neighborhood’s enduring artiness, earthiness, and connectedness. Organized by the New Museum of Contemporary Art and ten other partners (listed at the festival website), the Festival was part multimedia art show, part kid-friendly community fair, part academic conference, part urban design charrette, and part intellectual pub crawl.

It’s easy to tire of the kind of NYC booster who constantly tells out-of-towners “you name it, we’ve got it here,” but during the Festival, particularly the Streetfest component last Saturday, the well-worn phrase really did apply. Humongous translucent bubble full of urban-design visionaries, some adrenalined-up enough to leap onto chairs and quote poetry? Check. Pop-up buildings resembling worms? Check. Person dressed as enormous yellow worm, hugging passersby at the Lower East Side Ecology Center’s table while her colleague Kaity Tsui, winner of the first-ever “Greenest New Yorker” award from the state’s “I Love NY” campaign in 2010, hands out “Hug a Worm” buttons and promotes home composting? Check. Eighteen-foot “Girlzilla” robot built by kids at the Lower East Side Girls’ Club? Check. Read more…

A Tribute to Janine Pommey Vega

Vega_memorial2Cary Abrams The poet Bob Holman performs at a tribute to Janine Pommy Vega at the Bowery Poetry Club Sunday.

Friends of poet and teacher Janine Pommy Vega, who died in December, gathered at a reading tribute Sunday at The Bowery Poetry Club to remember her.

Poet and author Hettie Jones, a Bowery resident of over 40 years who helped organize the event reminisced about their first meeting at a 1960’s party.

Ms. Vega moved to the Lower East Side from Union City, N.J. after graduating high school at 16, having read ‘On The Road,’ and been inspired by the Beat lifestyle. She met the poet Gregory Corso at The Cedar Tavern, a fabled Village artists’ haunt, who introduced her to Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky, with whom she later shared an apartment on Avenue B.

Ms. Vega began teaching writing in prisons in the 1970’s through Incision/Arts, a group that brings writers into prisons; she became the group’s director in 1987. She first introduced Ms. Jones to teaching writing in prisons and they served on the Prison Writing Committee for PEN, the association of poets, essayists, novelists and other writers, and co-authored “Word Over Walls,” a guide on starting writings program in prisons.

Andy Clausen, Ms Vega’s companion, shared reflections and anecdotes about Ms. Vega’s dedication to her writing, work in prisons and indomitable spirit. He described the memorial held recently in Woodstock, N.Y., near their home in Willow, N.Y., and plans for an annual Janine Pommy Vega Poetry Festival to be held there.

Anne Waldman remembered their readings and travels in Italy, reading from “Tracking The Serpent,” Ms. Vega’s account of her extensive travels over four continents exploring what she described as matriarchal power sites. From the outpouring of those who spoke and read, a common theme emerged: how Ms. Vega had touched and inspired many through her writing and teaching.

Celebrating A Musical Icon At 80

David AmramCourtesy David Amram David Amram will celebrate his 80th birthday with a fundraiser at the Bowery Poetry Club Jan. 30.

The rapidly altering Bowery landscape might prove disorienting to someone who first performed at the fabled Five Spot jazz club in 1956, then located on the Bowery at Fifth Street. For David Amram this isn’t the case, as he prepares to celebrate his 80th birthday at a fund raiser for The Community-Word Project on Jan. 30 at The Bowery Poetry Club. A long-time downtown resident, Mr. Amram has continued to create music, perform and remain vital over the past half century. He explains that “It’s important for young artists to see it’s possible to lead a creative life in the arts.’

Internationally known as a composer, multi-instrumentalist, conductor and author, Mr. Amram has composed more than one hundred orchestral and chamber music works, along with film scores such as those for “Splendor in the Grass” and “The Manchurian Candidate.” He has collaborated with a vast legion of performers including Charles Mingus, Willie Nelson, Dizzy Gillespie, Langston Hughes, Bob Dylan, Miles Davis, Nina Simone, and scores of others. In 1966, Leonard Bernstein chose him as the first guest composer-in-residence of The New York Philharmonic.
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Taking The Pulse Of East Village Poetry

Nuyorican Poets Cafe legendHannah Thonet Miguel Algarín, founder of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, still delights in showcasing artists at the organization he established nearly 40 years ago.

On a gray August afternoon, walking through Tompkins Square Park, I saw dozens of poets huddled behind the bandstand, waiting to read from their own work or participate in an orchestrated performance of Allen Ginsberg’s iconic poem “Howl!” I joined the spectators, outnumbered by the poets, on seats scattered in front of the stage.

If the poets and visionaries of Ginsberg’s youth were “starving, hysterical, naked,” this sample of contemporary New York bards seemed calm and was fully dressed against the threat of light rain. As for starving, we all know there’s no money in the game. The audience for poetry sometimes seems to consist only of other poets, and almost nobody publishes a book of poetry expecting to make money. As one of the dedicated few who haunt poetry readings, and as an occasional poetry performer myself, I wondered how the poetry centers of the East Village were surviving this inhospitable economy.
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