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Five Questions with Sarah Shanfield About the End of the World

IMG_3814Picture courtesy Sarah Shanfield.Sarah communes with the globe

While there are good reasons to be skeptical about the Mayan calendar prediction that the world will end today, The Local decided to ask journalist, savant, thought-leader, and Local contributor Sarah Shanfield for words of advice and comfort.


Sarah, the end of the world seems to be predicted with frightening regularity these days. How have you felt in the past when it turned out to be a false alarm?


No one was more upset at the failure of the rapture than me. I had not even started my taxes and was going to wait until the last fiery demon rode away in a chariot made of rabid wolves to see if I’d be alive enough to have to actually sit down and file them. Boy, was I wrong! I have learned not to put too much belief in these human predictions. Still, I won’t do any Christmas shopping until acid-filled pigs stop falling from the sky on Friday and then, only then, will I venture to the Union Square holiday market.


Coming from California as you do, we know you’re an earthquake expert. Do you expect the end of the world to involve earthquakes, as well as other disastrous phenomena, or not necessarily?


Humans – and living organisms in general – are very smart. We defy the laws of nature time and time again (like you said, I’m from California. Nature, gravity and logic are all defied by the faces of my mother’s friends). Especially after Sandy, I don’t question the power of a humankind to be able to survive whatever the earth or the forces that be will throw at him or her. Read more…

Borough Bouncers: 19 Restaurants That Have Crossed the East River



The Williamsburg pizzeria that expanded to the East Village in 2009 only to close its Brooklyn location last year is coming back to Williamsburg. According to The Times, Motorino will open at 139 Broadway, near Bedford Avenue, in January.

It’s not the first case of borough bouncing we’ve seen in recent days: last week DNAinfo reported that East Village taqueria Dos Toros plans to open in Williamsburg, and today an owner of Lobster Joint, a Greenpoint seafood shack, tells The Local that it will open its outpost at 201 East Houston Street in November or December.

Bobby Levitt said that on Monday, Community Board 3’s liquor licensing committee voted to support a liquor license at the location near Ludlow Street. The satellite will replicate the menu and look of the original, and Mr. Levitt expects it to attract a similar demographic: “We get hipsters and families with kids – all ages,” he said.

So why are restaurants that open in the East Village-Lower East Side increasingly eager to expand into the Williamsburg-Greenpoint-Bushwick area, and vice versa? Mathieu Palombino, the owner of Motorino, told The Local, “Williamsburg is to Brooklyn what the East Village is to Manhattan. What works there will work here. It’s a natural expansion from one direction or the other.” (Of course, it doesn’t always work out, hence yesterday’s story about Mama’s.)

In case you’ve lost track, here’s The Local’s rundown of restaurants with locations on either side of the bridge. Read more…

Life Cafe, Mama’s Food Shop Close Their Brooklyn Locations

UntitledPhilip Kalantzis-Cope The East Village location of Life Cafe.

Less than six months after its original location officially closed for good, the Bushwick location of Life Cafe will shut down as well.

Owner Kathy Kirkpatrick explained in a brief phone conversation that her landlord refused to extend her lease on the space at 983 Flushing Avenue.

“My husband and I have gotten over our disbelief, anger and sadness at losing both places in one year,” Ms. Kirkpatrick wrote in a press release. “We see it now as the universe giving us a less than gentle nudge into retirement. We’re now eagerly looking forward to our ‘Adventures Before Dementia.’ It’s time for a little relaxation.” Read more…

Second Life for Life Cafe

The cafe is closed, but at least there will be an online refuge for “Rent” fanatics. Owner Kathy Kirkpatrick announced yesterday on Life Cafe’s Facebook page that she is nearing a “soft launch” for, a digital version of the tomes full of the signatures of “Rent” fanatics who made a pilgrimage to the restaurant where the musical was written. “An estimated 10,000 ‘Rent’ and Life Cafe fans left messages in these books. We will eventually have all the pages scanned and available to read on the site,” Ms. Kirkpatrick wrote.

Want to Be the Owner of Life Cafe?

IMG_2761Daniel Maurer

It may be too late to buy the CBGB name, but you can now snag Life Cafe’s. A few weeks after the failure of negotiations to bring the legendary corner spot back from the brink, its trademark is now up for grabs.

A Craigslist posting offers up the right to use the name of the cafe – “immortalized in the Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway musical ‘Rent’” – for restaurants, t-shirts, cups, and marketing material.

To sweeten the deal, the ad says the “current East Village liquor license may be available” and offers up the services of John Sunderland, the artist responsible for much of Life’s branding and its fanciful chalkboard menus.

Hey, if you want to own a piece of East Village restaurant history, it’s either this or those Ratner’s buttons.

And Now Life Cafe’s Bar Has Been Dismantled

life2Daniel Maurer

Life Cafe’s bar was still standing last week when The Local reported that one of the shuttered cafe’s two landlords had given up trying to come to terms with the other. If the lingering fixture gave you hope that there might be an eleventh-hour rapprochement in time for outdoor brunching season (which, apparently, is already upon us), you can set it aside.

A peek into the space last night revealed that although the summer specials are still pitifully up on the chalkboard, the wooden bar decorated with covers of Life magazine has now been dismantled. Rentheads, if you’re looking for souvenirs, this might be the time to keep your eye on the sidewalk.

Oh, and speaking of brunch, Grub Street reports that the Beagle is now serving it. Pancakes with foie-gras maple syrup, anyone?

Amid Hope for Revival, Rent Is Life Cafe’s Undoing

IMG_2761Daniel Maurer Construction work on the building today.

As recently as yesterday, Kathy Kirkpatrick was holding out hope that Life Cafe would be resurrected in spite of the “For Rent” sign in the window of her iconic restaurant and a simmering dispute between her two landlords (yes, she has two).

“I’m still waiting to see how it plays out,” Ms. Kirkpatrick said. “Things are getting resolved, things are developing — though meanwhile, I wait.”

But today the dispute boiled over and Bob Perl, one of her landlords, said Life Cafe was dead — he could no longer bear trying to negotiate with Abraham Noy, the other landlord.

“I can’t get it done,” Mr. Perl said. “I’m done with Noy – these guys are just impossible.” Read more…

Life Cafe Back to Life? Owner in Talks With Potential Business Partners

lifeRay Lemoine Work was being done inside of Life earlier today.

There may be a light at the end of the tunnel for Life Cafe.

Owner Kathy Kirkpatrick and landlord Bob Perl have been in talks with potential business partners who would pave the way for the shuttered cafe at East 10th Street and Avenue B to finally reopen, much to the relief of “Rentheads” everywhere.

“There are other parties who want to partner with Kathy and I am talking to them,” said Mr. Perl. “There is a possibility it could go on — whether it does I’m not sure.”

Ms. Kirkpatrick confirmed the discussions, but had little to add. “It has to do with the landlord agreeing to work together and cooperate,” she said. Read more…

Owner Guts Life Cafe; Landlord Says Repairs Will Be Done Soon

The moving truck at Life CafeStephen Rex Brown The moving truck outside of Life Cafe.

Kathy Kirkpatrick, the owner of Life Cafe, was spotted moving kitchen equipment out of the beloved eatery this afternoon — the latest sign that her business remains in limbo.

Ms. Kirkpatrick, who closed down the cafe in September because of the condition of the building, told The Local she remained frustrated with her landlords.

“Significant work still needs to be done,” she said. “There is scaffolding; a pigeon coop with [crap] falling on the sidewalk; they ripped down my awning; no one can see the cafe; there are sloping floors; they ripped off frontage, exposing ugly brick.”

But one of the landlords of the building, Bob Perl, said that the repairs should only last around 45 more days. “She could have been in possession all through this time,” Mr. Perl said. “Construction to repair the building is ongoing right now.”
Read more…

Life Cafe Owner Vents

Kathy Kirpatrick, the owner of Life Cafe, is apparently pretty peeved that her business is still shuttered as a result of a dispute with her landlord. In a series of messages posted on Facebook, the owner considers converting the cafe at 10th Street and Avenue B into a space that would host “events around the theme Art Against Greed.” Two days prior to that post, Ms. Kirkpatrick noted, “It’s been three weeks this weekend since I had to close with a hope and a dream to be able to reopen. I, a single woman warrior, am fighting two Goliaths with deep pockets for Life.”

Landlord Wants Life Cafe Back

The Villager has more on Life Cafe’s (temporary?) closing. Owner Kathy Kirkpatrick is upset that scaffolding has loomed over her sidewalk cafe for over a year, even though – owing to a dispute between two landlords – exterior repairs to the building have yet to commence. But there’s hope from one of the landlords: “We’re in the process of trying to work this out. Life Cafe is an iconic and great restaurant, and I’d love to see it be a part of the East Village for the next 30 years.”

Locals Lament End — For Now — of Life Cafe

Phillip Kalantzis-Cope Life Cafe.

Dismay over the sudden closing of Life Cafe — an East Village mainstay for 30 years — swiftly spread around the neighborhood on Monday.

“You have been an amazing and supportive neighbor for so long. I hope you will be back. Thanks for all you have done for the local artists over all these years,” wrote one commenter on the cafe’s Facebook page.

“Please come back soon. You’re a NY landmark. Hate to see all your employees out of work,” wrote another. Read more…

5 Questions With | Jody Oberfelder

Jody OberfelderPaula CourtJody Oberfelder

Jody Oberfelder is an East Village dancer/choreographer who started out as the lead singer for the Bagdads, a punk band which played at CBGB’s. She then became a dancer and choreographer who has brought to both roles unusual athleticism, heart, humor, and in the words of Village Voice critic, Deborah Jowitt, “a zest for endearingly human dancing in an upside-down world.”

She has gone from creating works with titles such as “Wanted X Cheerleaders” and “Crash Helmet Brigade” to directing opera (“Dido and Aeneas”)  and now Igor Stravinsky’s “The Soldier’s Tale,” which she will present at the Michael Schimmel Center for the Performing Arts at Pace University (where “Inside the Actors Studio” is filmed) from June 9 to 11. Recently The Local spoke to her about her work and how living in the East Village has influenced it.


You have been part of the East Village arts scene for a long time. How has living here informed your work as a dancer and choreographer?


I’ve lived in the East Village from 1980 to the present, and I saw it change from a place where it was still full of old Ukrainian characters and really scary just to go east of Avenue A. When Life Café came into being on Avenue B, I remember kind of tip-toeing my way over there beside the park. I think I was just one of the many kinds of art-makers and filmmakers who was around at that time. Steve Buscemi and his wife Jo Andres were going to all the same events, and he’s pretty famous now! It was more of a cabaret-ish atmosphere, and you’d stay out pretty late, too. There was a great performance duo called Dancenoise, and also the “Full Moon” shows at P.S. 122. This was the more liquid East Village, more sweaty and physical. There were also people doing more esoteric work at the time.
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East Village, With All the Trimmings

FxCam_1289336440232Timothy Krause

They say there is a chemical in turkey that makes you sleepy.

Now, it’s safe to say no scientific institution or study has actually proven this information. The truthiness of this bit of knowledge goes unquestioned because on every Thanksgiving day the fact is loudly announced by the obligatory young and obnoxious cousin/child of a neighbor/stranger’s nephew to a room full of people who are wiping gravy sweat from their brows. Often, it’s the last thing many people hear before drifting off into a tortured, caloric slumber.

It is for this reason alone that Thanksgiving shouldn’t be celebrated at home. Since our fair collection of loud and populated street corners means this city never sleeps, we certainly can’t be sleeping on Nov. 25 ; we have things to do. Funkmaster Flex and Swizz Beatz will be at Webster Hall, and after that it’s straight to Union Square to stand in the line at Best Buy. If we sleep, someone will steal our spot.

However, some East Village residents who actually admit to having a family – and maybe, god forbid, a life before their days of wearing a leather jacket – do get nostalgic for sweet potatoes and gizzards. Luckily, a few restaurants are providing prix fixe menus for gobblers of gravy and gratin. And, thank your holy fowls, it’s all the same delicious East Village food at the same reasonable prices.
Read more…