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The Day | Here Comes the Weather

Christmas tree, Second AvenueScott LynchSecond Avenue

Good morning, East Village.

From where we’re sitting, it looks like a quiet Christmas break in the East Village. No turkey shoots on the Bowery — since 1897, in fact.

If you can even face looking at more food and drink, here’s a tenement-shaped ginger cake from the Tenement Museum. Also, it looks like The Third Man on Avenue C is open for cocktails at last, but judging by the work continuing in the space before the holiday, it might be worth calling ahead to check.

And hey, guess what? Here comes the winter weather.

The Bowery Mission Braces for Winter

...the more things stay the sameMichelle RickSkilled, unemployed, homeless, on The Bowery.

At exactly 4:45 a.m. everyday, Albert Alston flicks on the lights to rouse the men asleep on what passes for a dormitory annex at the Bowery Mission–its chapel floor and pews. “I do it the same way I did it as a platoon sergeant,” he said. “I know I just have to get them up.”

Sometimes the men wake weary-eyed and waspish, but not usually. “Sergeant” Alston’s gruff voice and wide grin are part of a routine they’ve come to expect when sleeping at the Mission this winter, as temperatures drop and it’s become too cold to stay outside.

They turn to the Mission for shelter in extreme weather-induced emergencies, too, as we saw last month, when it became a refuge for many neighborhood residents without power during Hurricane Sandy, as well as when the Nor’easter dropped that thick coat of snow soon after. But even before the storms, the staff was braced for its annual winter increase in homeless patrons, which can mean up to 50 percent more than the usual 700 meals to serve, and twice as many men to lodge.

“The elements can kill them,” Matt Krivich explained. He’s the mission’s director of operations. “We’ve lost a couple of our guests before to hypothermia. That’s why we open up our chapel.” Krivich and the Mission’s other staff–many once homeless themselves–have an open-door policy for anyone seeking shelter from the cold.

When temperatures drop below 40 degrees, the Mission provides regular shelter to 80 men in its residential recovery program and emergency shelter to up to 80 more, making room for 30 in the dining room in addition to the 50-plus it can handle in the chapel. During some snowy weeks last winter, the Mission even allowed community members to sleep in the serving line near the kitchen.

“How can you turn somebody away when you’ve got space?” Krivich said. “If it’s just up on stage, if it’s in the serving line?”

As the chapel usher, Alston helps organize the emergency housing guests, part of the group known here as the “community.” Though other staff caution that the community can be “rough,” Alston gets along with them.

“That’s only because I give them the same respect they give me,” he said.

It might also be because the 56-year-old Alston, soft-spoken with bright eyes, is down on his luck, too. He lost his job at a Canarsie metal yard in September because “they decided to keep all them younger guys.” Shortly after, Alston’s landlord decided to sell his apartment building in Brooklyn. Not wanting to burden his mother, Alston went to a veteran’s organization in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn looking for a place to live. The organization connected him with the Mission, which had a spot free in their residency program.

Alston’s been here for two months, living in the actual dorm above the chapel. As part of his new job, he shepherds the community into pews for service three times a day before the kitchen opens. Read more…

Intermix Latest Upscale Business Bound for Bowery, But Where?

UntitledStephen Rex Brown 54 Bond Street.

Three’s a trend, right? A high-end clothing boutique, Intermix, is coming to the Bowery, joining Patagonia and Anthropologie and reinforcing the notion that the once notorious thoroughfare is thoroughly upscale.

A spokeswoman for the store catering to “trendsetters, A-Listers and glam fashionistas” confirmed the store was “slated to open on Bowery,” but wouldn’t say exactly where Intermix will join the mix.

Bowery Boogie reported that the store would open in 54 Bond Street, citing an anonymous tipster. But Billy Reid, which currently occupies the space, denied the rumor. In fact, an employee at the store said the owners “were really pissed” that it was reported before they were contacted. Read more…

Brauhaus Brouhaha: High Levels of Lead at Beer Hall Site

2012-07-23 12.52.22Timothy Davis Construction work at Paulaner Brauhaus.

High levels of lead have been found in dust that shot up from the incoming Paulaner Brauhaus and blanketed an upstairs apartment, displacing a family of seven and causing the city to issue a stop work order.

The dust-up occurred last Wednesday at 265-267 Bowery, where the brewhouse and beer hall is being built on the ground floor. On June 25, ceiling work sent a plume of dust through the floorboards of a second-floor loft, forcing its residents to seek shelter elsewhere while testing for toxic materials was conducted.

Today, a health department representative said the levels of lead found in parts of the apartment were six times what the Environmental Protection Agency finds acceptable. According to the testing company’s report (posted below), the highest concentrations were found in the living room, where Mr. Davis said the children’s books and toys are kept.

Blood work taken from at least one of the five children is still out at the lab. Read more…

A Look Back at the Bowery

The Bowery near Broome Street in 1895

The blog of the Museum Of The City Of New York has a nice examination of the Bowery since the days when it was known as “Bowerij Road” and thought of as “an idyllic countryside.” Photos from the late 1800s through 1946 capture the thoroughfare’s oft-romanticized days as skid row, when a bar nicknamed Paresis Hall referenced the symptoms of late-stage Syphilis. The blog notes that the Bowery of today bears little resemblance to the 20th century version, but that’s shouldn’t come as a shock: “Even as early as 1905, the New York Times was lamenting the death of the Bowery.” The one thing missing from the post? A soundtrack provided by Poor Baby Bree.

‘Reality’ on the Bowery, Star of ‘Mob Wives’ Shops at Patricia Field Store

Melvin Felix Angela Raiola struts into Patricia Field’s store for the cameras.
Big AngMelvin Felix Big Ang on the Bowery today.

Who is that buxom bombshell strutting into Patricia Field’s new store on the Bowery?

It’s Angela Raiola, AKA Big Ang of “Mob Wives,” who we just spotted shooting a scene for her new reality show, which premiered yesterday.

The larger-than-life Ms. Raiola was doing some shopping in preparation for a shoot tomorrow, while a handful of fans looked on.

“I’m doing a drag show at my bar, The Drunken Monkey on Staten Island,” she said. “I’m going to be dressed up as a drag queen.”

If participating in reality TV is your idea of a good time, the drag show is Tuesday night at Big Ang’s bar, and it’s free.

Unmarked Car? Not After This Bowery Fender Bender

IMG_0180Stephen Rex Brown The unmarked police car and the van in the background.
IMG_0181Stephen Rex Brown Deputy Inspector John Cappelmann speaks with the driver, who eventually decided against going to the hospital.

We already knew traffic on the Bowery was a nightmare, but a van driver found out the hard way this afternoon, after rear-ending an unmarked police car at East Fourth Street. Awkward!

The commanding officer of the Ninth, Deputy Inspector John Cappelmann, made a star appearance at the scene of the fender-bender at around 4:30 p.m. He said the officer driving the car, who works at the Police Academy, considered going to the hospital, but then decided against it.

The passengers in the van were fine, and no damage was evident to either vehicle.

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.

Overhaul of Standard East Village Gets $3 Million Price Tag

IMG_3198Stephen Rex Brown Andre Balazs speaking to East Fifth Street block association.

That book nook isn’t the only new development at The Standard, East Village: hotel higher-ups are moving forward with plans for a overhaul of the ground floor, and according to Department of Buildings records, initial construction will cost over $3 million.

Last week, The Standard filed two applications for construction work and zoning changes to 25-33 Cooper Square. The first, requesting permission to modify egress on the first floor as well as other general construction, estimates a price tag of $2.4 million. The second, for similar work, predicts an additional expenditure of $610,000.
Read more…

Bees Swarm Near Bleecker

Photos: Philip Ross

Police were called to the area of the Chase Bank on Bowery around 1:30 p.m. today, but not because of another robbery: in a tree in front of the bank was a watermelon-sized cluster of bees.

A group of about 20 bystanders congregated near the taped-off tree between East First Street and Bleecker Street, snapping photos of the teeming, light-brown mass sagging from the tree branch. Some grumbled about the bees receiving so much attention (a squad car, a police van, and an emergency service vehicle blocked a lane of traffic).

Sans protective gear, a beekeeper called in to remove the swarm climbed on top of the emergency vehicle and, with a pair of hedge trimmers, cautiously removed the branches around it.

When it came time to extract the swarm, a police officer joined the beekeeper on the roof of the emergency vehicle. He extended a white Styrofoam box directly underneath the swarm as the beekeeper cut the branch that supported the mass. A lid was placed over the box. A couple of observers clapped in approval.

Watch our slideshow to see the drama unfold.

CBGB Returns as Summer Festival, May Reopen as Club

DESCRIPTIONGodlis A 1977 photo of CBGB, which operated on the Bowery from 1973 to 2006. Owners of the club’s assets are now planning a festival and seeking to revive it at a new site.

For the last six years the name CBGB has been little more than a logo on T-shirts for young people in the East Village. Now a group of investors has bought the assets of that famous punk-rock club, which closed in 2006, and plans to establish an ambitious music festival this summer, with an eye toward reopening the club at a new downtown location.

The new owners of the club’s assets — some with ties to the original Bowery establishment — say they hope that the festival will revive the wide-open artistic aesthetic associated with CBGB, which in its heyday served as an incubator for influential acts like Television, the Talking Heads, the Ramones, Blondie, Sonic Youth and Patti Smith. Read more…

Gallery or Restaurant? The Hole Swirls Both Together

DIOR BEAUTY Celebrates 50 Years of Dior Vernis with Artist Holton RowerDavid X Prutting/ The Hole’s dinner for Dior Vernis.

After blurring the line between art and landscaping, The Hole is now bending the boundaries between art and food. Last night, the Bowery gallery held a dinner party that introduced attendees to the medium of “pour painting,” and this summer, The Local has learned, it will open a pop-up “artist cafe,” cheekily dubbed Hole Foods.

The pop-up cafe is in part the vision of The Hole’s founder, Kathy Grayson, who described herself as an arm-chair restaurant critic and food blogger. “I had never seen an artist-designed restaurant, only restaurants with a few sad paintings on the walls,” she told The Local. “I thought that the artists I represent are all interdisciplinary and are capable of doing not just painting and drawing but sculpture, video, design, installation, furniture, you name it.”

On Wednesday, the Meatball Factory temporarily closed on 14th Street and Second Avenue so that Brooklyn-based artist Joe Grillo could install a mural on its walls, ceilings, and floors. Read more…

Balazs Pushes Standard Facelift, Assures Neighbors ‘We Hate Weddings’

IMG_3198Stephen Rex Brown Andre Balazs explains his plans for the remodeled Standard East Village.

The famed hotelier Andre Balazs pitched his plans for the remodeled Standard East Village to East Fifth Street residents on Thursday night, explaining that the Cooper Square Hotel’s layout on the bottom two floors was a key factor in its bankruptcy.

The owner of the recently renamed 21-story hotel intends to reorient the main floors to the west by creating an outdoor dining area that faces the Bowery, as well as a new lobby.

“The hotel failed,” said Mr. Balazs. “We bought it from bankruptcy. One reason was that the public spaces didn’t work.”

The rearrangement would also, he added, reduce the noise that angered neighbors, some of whom have windows that abut the hotel. Read more…

The Day | Strand Workers Reject New Contract

The Strand: Army of One, Let Art Be Your WeaponScott Lynch

Good morning, East Village.

City Room reports that unionized workers at the Strand have rejected a proposed new contract because it would’ve cut vacation days, frozen pay for a year, increased the cost of health care, and cut benefits for newer employees. The bookstore’s management says the move is to compensate for sales that have fallen roughly 5 percent over all since 2008.

Though citywide rents remained relatively high throughout the winter, an MNS report picked up by Curbed brings good news about the East Village rental market: “The biggest decreases in rents from February to March took place in the East Village, where non-doorman studios are now 6.5 percent less.”

Gothamists sees bitter irony in the fact that upscale boutique Blue and Cream is paying tribute to grungy Mars Bar via a new photo exhibit: “Because if there is one thing we can all agree on about the old girl’s clientele, it was how much they just loved the kind of people who buy and sell $220 black t-shirts!” Read more…

Exclusive Video: Billy Leroy on Terrifying Catherine Deneuve

Billy Leroy may have buried his tent on the Bowery last month, but the antiques dealer isn’t done snatching up oddities from around the world. He just got back from Glasgow, Scotland, where the seventh episode of the Travel Channel’s “Baggage Battles” was filmed. “It was a bidding bloodbath between me and my co-competitor Laurence Martin on a very historic item,” he wrote in an e-mail to The Local. “The Scottish people are really friendly and the single-malt whiskey is sublime.”

In this footage provided exclusively to The Local, Mr. Leroy, seated in front of a skull stash with his trademark cigar in hand, lets us in on the secret of getting a good deal. After the show premieres April 11 at 10 p.m., he’ll try his luck in Miami, during the filming of episode eight. “Boy, TV Land is a lot different then the Bowery,” he said. “I am starting to miss Bowery Misfits.”

‘Year of the Jackhammer’ on the Bowery

While on our daily perambulation on the Bowery, we noted that there is construction on nearly every block between St. Marks Place and East Houston Street. The experience was so intense we recreated it for our readers who can’t live it for themselves. Mouse over the cones, put on your headphones, and brace yourself for an immersive auditory experience.

Road Construction

Billy Leroy and Friends Spend One Last Night in the Tent

Suzanne Rozdeba

The hand in formaldehyde, the dusty Styrofoam mannequins and the subway signs for sale were long gone. But last night Billy Leroy and around 200 friends celebrated the now-closed antique shop on the Bowery a final time, raising their beers inside the iconic tent that will soon be six feet under.

“It’s sad, but it’s a new beginning,” said Mr. Leroy, patting the coffin like an old friend as neighborhood characters like Clayton Patterson, director Jim Jarmusch and writer Anthony Haden-Guest mingled with the crowd. “It’s an outpouring of love. All of my friends are here. It’s really amazing. I didn’t realize how much people love this place.”

The love was not in short supply because Mr. Leroy’s eponymous shop on East Houston Street at Bowery, which he ran for 10 years, had to close on Jan. 1. In the place of the store will go a two-story development, though the story isn’t entirely tragic. The tent will be gone, but the landlord, Tony Goldman, has assured Mr. Leroy his store will have a space in the building when complete.

By 8 p.m. the tent was at capacity as old friends and the crew from Mr. Leroy’s upcoming film rocked out to the bands The Naked Heroes and The Virgins. Two hours later the funeral bash had spilled out to the sidewalk.

At one point Mr. Leroy — a raconteur if there ever was one — grabbed the mic and shared a tale from his tent’s glory days. “A homeless dude came into the store and he brought me some pieces of junk. I said, ‘Dude, I don’t want this crap. Bring me like a human head or something,’” he recalled. “The next week, he was on 12th Street and saw a beautiful trunk. He was going to bring me the trunk, but it smelled funny. Inside the trunk was a young lady, dead. He was going to bring her to me, but he freaked out, and the cops took the trunk. His name is Spider, and he’s probably slithering around here somewhere.”

Not surprisingly, that wasn’t the only example of gallows humor last night.
Read more…

15 Congested and Dangerous Intersections Targeted for Improvement

houstonandboweryNatalie Rinn The intersection of Bowery and Houston.

Ten East Village intersections have been targeted for improvement by the Department of Transportation, including one – the intersection of Houston and Bowery – that has seen a bevy of biking accidents.

Last night at a joint meeting of Community Boards 2 and 3, the department unveiled the findings of a two-year survey covering a southern portion of the East Village as well as portions of Greenwich Village, NoLIta, and the Lower East Side. The study, which can be seen below, identified 15 intersections (10 of them in the East Village) that the city will target for future makeovers, including five intersections (one in the East Village) that were said to be “high accident locations.” From 2008 to 2010, the intersection of Avenue A and First Street saw 25 accidents, 18 of which resulted in injuries and one of which resulted in the death of a pedestrian.

Though the intersection of Houston Street and Bowery wasn’t among those identified by the D.O.T. as the most dangerous, it was that crossing – the city’s most accident-prone intersection for bicyclists from 1995 to 2009 – that initiated the study to begin with, and it was the one most East Village residents spoke up about. The study found noticeable congestion at the intersection, where 10 to 15 percent of daytime vehicles were trucks, and noted that it was in need of changes to better accommodate turns. Read more…

More Deadly Than Delancey? Bowery and Houston Most Accident-Prone for Cyclists

Phillip Kalantzis-Cope

Newly released data of crashes involving pedestrians and cyclists reveals that Bowery and East Houston Street was the city’s most accident-prone intersection for bicyclists from 1995 to 2009.

During that time span, there were 41 accidents at the intersection, according to the advocacy group Transportation Alternatives, which has compiled new data from the New York State Department of Transportation in an interactive map called Crashstat.

Transportation Alternatives said the new statistics pointed to the need for further reforms that would make the city more pedestrian-and-cyclist-friendly.

“As long as the default response to a motor vehicle crash is that it’s an accident, the behavior that’s killing and injuring people will continue,” wrote the group’s director, Paul Steely White, in a press release.
Read more…

S.U.V. and Ambulance Collide On The Bowery

CarservicestrikesambulanceLauren Carol Smith Shots from the aftermath of the accident.

A black Ford S.U.V. ran into a Fire Department ambulance on the Bowery at East Fourth Street yesterday, and passengers from both vehicles were taken to the hospital.

A spokesman for the Fire Department said that the accident occurred at around 5:30 p.m., and that a two people were treated at Bellevue Hospital for minor injuries. Roughly a half-hour later the driver of the Ford — which belonged to the Delancey Car Service — was spotted dislodging the front of his S.U.V. from the rear bumper of the F.D.N.Y. ambulance by throwing it in reverse.