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Tensions Rise in Abe Lebewohl

St. Mark's Church in the Bowery, East Village, New York City

At Tuesday night’s meeting of the Ninth Precinct Community Council several residents raised concerns about the nomadic punks spending much of their day in Abe Lebewohl Park in front of St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery. Now, The Villager reports that several people observed one of the drifters spray painting obscene messages on a statue and in the portico of the church. The graffiti has since been removed and no permanent damage reported. Still, Winnie Varghese, the church’s rector, is ready for the punks to head elsewhere. “They’ve kind of crossed the line,” she tells the paper. “They’re kind of different from old drunk people. There’s just an aggression to these people that’s different.”

The Day | New Italian Spot on East Sixth

LitroSuzanne Rozdeba

Good morning, East Village.

According to a tipster, signage for an “Italian restaurant bar,” Litro, has gone up in the old Zerza space at 308 East Sixth Street. Stay tuned for more.

Paper reports that Max Fish is opening an outpost on the Asbury Park boardwalk. “Max Fish at the Beach Bar, located on the boardwalk, will be open weekends starting this Saturday through Memorial Day, and then open every day after that.”

In The Times, Winnie Varghese, the priest in charge of St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery, argues that churches should be tax-exempt. “Moderate and progressive religion is overwhelmingly formed in the U.S., and it is an essential voice in national and international discourse,” she says. “We are an important moral and ethical voice for society as a whole, a voice that has to be religious to respond to other kinds of religious movements.” Read more…

The Day | Lakeside Remembered, and 20 Other Morning Reads

UntitledPhillip Kalantzis-Cope

Good morning, East Village.

The Times looks back on what made Lakeside Lounge so special (“once, while Joey and Dee Dee Ramone played, audience members watched the police raid a nearby crack house and line suspects up against the picture window beside the stage”) and gives a clue as to why it’s closing at the end of the month: “[Owner Eric] Ambel said rent and expenses had more than quadrupled since the mid-1990s, forcing him and Mr. Marshall to face the prospect of deviating from the formula that had served Lakeside, its musicians and its patrons so well.” According to WNYC, the rent was $9,000 a month.

Flaming Pablum uses the closing of Lakeside as an excuse to look back on five other bygone dive bars, including Alcatraz on St. Marks Place, an “endearingly seedy joint that catered to acolytes of all things loud, boozy and rude.”

With the average rent in Manhattan at $3,418 a month and the vacancy rent at just 1 percent despite the lagging economy, The Times lays down some real talk: “For those who find buying a home in New York City is not an option — whether because of bad credit, tougher lending standards or lack of a down payment — the choices are limited and often unappealing.” If you are buying, the Daily News points out that there are still deals to be found in the Lower East Side. Read more…

Dance Without Walls at St. Mark’s

Danspace Rachel Ohm Dancers rehearse for this weekend’s continuation of “Body Madness” at Danspace in St. Mark’s Church in the Bowery.

As a warm-up, Mariangela Lopez instructs her dancers to walk across the hardwood floor of St. Mark’s Church without music. They begin slowly and as they progress to the opposite end of the room their movements become more pronounced. They stretch and contort their bodies, reaching to the sky and crawling on the floor, moving around and with each other.

When the music finally comes on, they are scattered to different parts of St. Mark’s. One dancer is in the upstairs vestibule, another in the risers on the side, and some are on the floor.

They are preparing for their next performance with the Danspace Project, a contemporary dance studio that has been performing in St. Mark’s Church in the Bowery since 1974, in a space that is also home to poetry and theater projects while still being a practicing Episcopal Church.

Last year Danspace executive director Judy Hussie-Taylor started the Choreographic Center Without Walls, an effort to bring dance curators, choreographers and artists together for a series of performances she calls “platforms”. One year later and the project has become an important part of what Danspace is all about.
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For Patti Smith, Poetry and Memories

IMG_0977Caryn Rose Patti Smith performed Wednesday night at a celebration commemorating the 40th anniversary of her first reading at The Poetry Project.

The headstones filling the old churchyard at St. Mark’s Church-in-the Bowery churchyard lay buried beneath a deep blanket of snow on Wednesday night. But a line of people on East 10th Street braved an icy chill while waiting to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Patti Smith’s first reading at The Poetry Project, a St. Mark’s institution, which took place at the church on Feb. 10, 1971.

From that distant beginning, Ms. Smith’s lengthy career has gone on to include world wide recognition as a visual artist, songwriter, photographer, musician and writer. In 2010 she won the National Book Award for her memoir, “Just Kids,” describing her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe.

The Poetry Project, founded at St. Mark’s in 1966, has included weekly readings, open mike events, and workshops provide a forum where both celebrated and unknown writers can present their work. John Ashbery, Robert Lowell, Yoko Ono, Ted Berrigan, Alice Walker, Allen Ginsberg, and Robert Creeley are a few of those whose words have filled the vaulted chamber.

In 1971 Patti Smith viewed the full moon that illuminated the sky that night as a fortuitous sign. Gerard Malanga, an assistant to Andy Warhol at The Factory, and featured reader of the program, generously allowed Patti Smith to open for him.
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Celebrating The Day Of The Dead

Sugar SkullsSally LaucknerSugar skulls by Mano a Mano.

Over the weekend, Mano a Mano, a non-profit organization that promotes Mexican culture in the United States, held its eighth annual Dia de los Muertos celebrations at St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery. Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a Mexican tradition that dates back to pre-Hispanic times and celebrates the annual return of the departed.

Although the actual holiday is on Nov. 2, East Villagers got a head start by enjoying Mexican food, shopping for knickknacks and attending bread-making workshops.
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