Post tagged with


The Nuyorican Fights the Chill

muMs & Aurora perform at the Nuyorican Poets CafeHannah ThonetmuMs is one of the poets scheduled to perform at Joe’s Pub, Thursday evening.

Hurricane Sandy wrecked the HVAC system at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, leaving the storied performance space without heat.

In an email to The Local, executive director Daniel Gallant said that while “relatively warm weather and the use of small space heaters have allowed us to continue running our programs for the past few weeks, it will be difficult for us to remain open as the weather gets colder unless our heating system is replaced.” There are also concerns about burst pipes when the freezing weather finally arrives.

The cost of replacing the system is estimated at $27,500. The Cafe, like other local businesses, also suffered loss of revenue due to the post-hurricane power outage and canceled events. This Thursday’s fund raiser at Joe’s Pub is just part of the recovery effort. Donations are also being taken at the website.

The Day | What’s in a Nog?

EAST VILLAGE mural (colors)2Gloria Chung

Good morning, East Village.

In yet another reminder that the clean-up work after Sandy continues, the East Village is set to regain its R train connection with Brooklyn before the holidays. Spare a thought too for the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. After long struggles to renovate the fabric of its old building, its heating system was taken out by the hurricane. It plans to hold a fund raiser at Joe’s Pub on Thursday evening.

The SantaCon backlash just gets worse. Meanwhile, EV Grieve continues to compile a list of impending business closures, including the distinctive (and large) Bargain Express on the south side of East 14th Street, and Whole Earth Bakery on St Mark’s Place.

Finally, to prompt a holiday mood, here’s the Village Voice’s veteran food critic Robert Sietsema on the history of that strange, sweet, sticky stuff, eggnog.

The Nuyorican Aims to Reopen by the Weekend

Nuyorican Poets Cafe Executive Director Daniel GallantHannah Thonet The executive director of the Nuyorican, Daniel Gallant.

The Nuyorican Poets Cafe should reopen soon after being shuttered by the Health Department for a variety of violations in its East Third Street building.

“Our repairs are moving along smoothly, and if all goes well, we should be able to reopen by this weekend,” wrote the executive director of the cafe, Daniel Gallant, in an email.

On Monday the cafe announced on Twitter that it would temporarily close after a visit from city inspectors. Turned out, the cafe had several violations of the health code, including evidence of rodents, unclean surfaces, and improper storage of food.

John Leguizamo’s East Village


From 1980 until 1996, John Leguizamo, the actor, comedian, writer and producer behind such hits as “Mambo Mouth” and “Ghetto Klown,” lived on East Seventh Street. He now resides in the central Village, but he still has roots in Alphabet City: his production offices are headquartered in his old brownstone there; and last month his wife Justine, who sits on the board of the Greenwich Village Society For Historic Preservation, spoke at a hearing that resulted in the landmarking of a block on East 10th Street.

Mr. Leguizamo told The Local that the East Village “will always hold a special place in my heart.” Of course, things have changed since the days when “you’d see Eric Bogosian at the bodega, Steve Buscemi buying a coffee, Iggy Pop at the health food store, Quentin Crisp tottering down the street,” as he wrote in his memoir. Over e-mail, he said, “The neighborhood used to be alive with all different kind of artists. Musicians, poets, painters, actors, singers, dancers. But the rich came in and all the squatters left and went to Brooklyn.”

So what’s there still to love about the “East Vill”? Mr. Leguizamo reflected on some of his past and present favorites. Read more…

The Nuyorican Is Closed For Repairs

EAST VILLAGE nuyorican poets cafeGloria Chung The Nuyorican Poets Cafe at 236 East Third Street.

Several visits from city inspectors have led to the temporary closing of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Daniel Gallant, the executive director, told The Local.

The cafe tweeted the news earlier today, and Mr. Gallant clarified — a little — over the phone.

“The building is quite old. Some of the space we’re hoping to renovate,” he said. “We’ve had a few different city inspectors come in since the end of the year — we just figured it’s probably the best thing to do repairs.”

Mr. Gallant did not wish to go into further details before again meeting with city inspectors.

The Nuyorican building does not show any recent violations or complaints on the Department of Buildings website. Mr. Gallant said he should know when the cafe will reopen by Wednesday.

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.

Up at the Old Nuyorican

Upstairs at the NuyoricanKim Davis

Climbing the rickety, makeshift stairway of the century old former tenement building on East Third Street that houses the Nuyorican Poets Café there was little to foretell the treasure trove Kim Davis and I would encounter. Daniel Gallant, executive director of the Nuyorican, explained that few know of the existence of the archives we were set to explore, and even fewer got to view this lofty realm as the Café has no certificate of occupancy for the top three floors of the building, which are not open to the public and are used strictly for storage. Daniel described how poet Miguel Algarín, and the Café’s other founders, had acquired the building from LaMama Theater creator Ellen Stewart in 1980 and established a venue where Lower East Side poets, playwrights and musicians could present their work.

After Daniel unlocked the padlock fastened to a small piece of plywood serving as a makeshift door leading to the third floor, we crouched to squeeze through the narrow entryway. As we ascended the stairs, the exposed brick walls were crowded with posters, paintings and costume designs from former productions held in the performance space occupying the first two floors of the building. Reaching the top of the stairs we entered a dimly lit, open loft space crammed in virtual disarray with a treasure trove of costumes crowded on racks, stage props, banners, posters and a vast collection of bric-a-brac accumulated over more than thirty years.

Costume designers have borrowed some of these period outfits for use in recent films. A large sign for one of the Nuyorican’s landmark productions, “Julius Caesar Set in Africa,” hung on the wall. As we wandered about the floor, it was difficult to appreciate everything. Exposed brick walls, fireplace mantles, thick wooden rafter beams were the only remains of the former railroad apartments that had existed in the building’s former tenement incarnation.

Dan regaled us with the history of numerous Nuyorican productions which had their sets and costumes created in this space. Tony Award winning playwright and actor Sarah Jones began her career with her first solo show, “Surface Transit” at the Nuyorican in 1998. She recently returned for a two week engagement after a Broadway run of “Bridge and Tunnel.” A sewing machine, paint cans, bolts of fabric, containers holding glitter, jars full of buttons, rolls of yarn and thread were evidence of the many hours that artists and writers like Sarah Jones “Bridge and Tunnel” and Miguel Piñero (“Short Eyes”) labored in the space. Read more…

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.
Read more…

A Literary Tour of the East Village

Nuyorican Poets Cafe signHannah Thonet Founded in 1973, the Nuyorican Poets Cafe regularly features spoken word events and open mic nights

The East Village has long been considered a Mecca for poets and writers. From bars to old tenement buildings, the historic neighborhood is brimming with former haunts of longtime residents like Allen Ginsberg and W.H. Auden. The crisp weather and changing leaves makes fall the perfect season to wander through the area on a romantic tour. So here’s a roundup of iconic East Village literary landmarks – why should the West Village get all the glory?

Ginsberg Residences

206 East Seventh Street (between Avenues B and C)
170 East Second Street (between Avenues A and B)

Arguably the neighborhood’s most well-known scribe, poet Allen Ginsberg called several apartments home throughout the East Village, including one we recently told you was on the market. In addition to the 12th Street apartment, he lived at 206 East Seventh Street from 1952 to 1953 where fellow Beat poet, William S. Burroughs, was a frequent visitor. Another one of his apartments was at 170 East Second Street. Ginsberg and his longtime partner, Peter Orlovsky, also a poet, lived there from 1958 to 1961.
Read more…