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Street Scenes | Home for the Holidays

AfterwardMichael Natale Tompkins Square Park

An Inside Look at Unsilent Night

Last Saturday, the event known as “Unsilent Night” took place in the East Village for its 20th year. This winter time annual event has garnered participation from cities around the world, including San Francisco, Chicago and Melbourne. But it all started in New York.

The Local embedded with creator, Phil Kline, in the days before his New York and Philadelphia Unsilent Night events, in order to get an inside look at how he prepares. The parade of devices playing Kline’s music started out at Washington Square Park. Participants carried boom boxes, iPhones or other portable audio equipment, cranking up the music in unison. The composition was timed by Kline to finish just as everyone arrived at Thompkins Square Park.

If you couldn’t make it on Saturday, enjoy this glimpse of the night, and just how Kline made it happen

Photos: Tea Partiers Have Gay Old Time

Photos: Tim Schreier
.Tim Schreier Nicolina Johnson

No, not that Tea Party, silly.

Hot on the heels of Saturday’s Halloween Dog Parade, the Mad Hatter Tea Party brought psychedelic costumes, stilt walkers, and free cookies to Tompkins Square Park.

Nicolina Johnson, the event’s main organizer along with The Free Art Society, said the annual event has doubled in size since it started three years ago. “The mission is to completely blur the line between spectator and performer, and bring people in to this world of magic and merriment that’s around them all the time,” said the artist. She and other organizers made extra hats in case people wandering by without a costume wanted to join in.

The crowd included people of all ages and hats of all sizes: Jillian Kimberling, 11, danced with her parents and younger sister. “It’s really cool. I really like all the costumes and the live music, and there are actually people portraying the real characters of Alice in Wonderland,” she said. Indeed the Mad Hatter and the March Hare started things off, and soon a six-person caterpillar began to wind its way through the crowd. The Queen of Hearts circulated authoritatively, stilt walkers danced, and an executioner dragged voluntary prisoners around behind her on leather ropes. Read more…

So Many Halloween Events You’ll Lose Your Head

A teaser video for the “Mad Supper” installation at Ideal Glass.

“Ghosts of New York Tour: Peter Stuyvesant And His Ghostly Neighbors Of The East Village”
During this tour of some of the neighborhood’s spooky sites, the tour guide will perform as a downtown denizen from the past, such as Edgar Allen Poe, Mark Twain and Washington Irving. 7 p.m., tour begins at St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery, 131 East 10th Street at Second Avenue, (718) 591-4741,; $25.

“Halloween Haunting: Phantom Pub Crawl of the East Village Starring Harry Houdini”
Join the search for Harry Houdini, Edgar Allan Poe, Jonathan Swift and other ghosts known for their fondness for the drink, at some of their favorite drinking spots. The tour meets in front of the lion sculpture in front of St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery, northwest corner of Tenth Street and Second Avenue. 6:30 p.m. $25 by credit card online; $30 in person if space is available.
Read more…

92 Species of Birds in Tompkins? He’s Got the Photos to Prove It

P9110220Sanna Chu Dennis Edge.
Blackburnian Warbler at Tompkins Square ParkDennis Edge Blackburnian warbler

It’s bird migration season, meaning you can see more than just the usual pigeons and sparrows in Tompkins Square Park. Dennis Edge, a local birder, has photographed 92 species there, and he’ll talk about it at the 6th & B community garden later this month.

The retired graphic designer often roams the park with a digital SLR camera and telephoto lens. Just yesterday morning he spied an American redstart warbler, a migratory bird with orange patches, in the vines near the park’s offices.

American Kestrel in Tompkins Square ParkDennis Edge American Kestrel

Mr. Edge, 74, grew up in North Carolina and moved to the East Village in 1970. He first became interested in birds over 10 years ago when he photographed an injured red-tailed hawk on East Ninth Street. He contacted the National Audubon Society and was put in touch with a bird rehabilitator, who told him to throw a blanket over the bird, put it in a box and bring it over. “Easier said then done,” he said. Read more…

He’s Fighting Rats Down There So We Don’t Have to Fight Them in the Park

IMG_0009Stephen Rex Brown A Department of Health worker drops rat poison into the sewer.

The rats might be returning to Tompkins Square Park (depending on who you ask) but don’t think the city is waving the white flag. While walking the beat today we came upon two health department employees dropping poison into a sewer grate at East Seventh Street and Avenue A. One of them confirmed that the bait was meant to thin the hordes of rodents that last year became a media sensation.

Leigh Stein ‘Can’t Go to the East Village Anymore,’ But Reads Here Tonight

Screen shot 2012-07-25 at 4.48.44 PMCourtesy Leigh Stein

At 7:30 tonight, Leigh Stein, a novelist and former editorial staffer at the New Yorker, will read from her new book of poetry, “Dispatch from the Future,” at Bar on A. We spoke to the Brooklynite about bad dates in the East Village and an awkward shopping trip to the St. Mark’s Bookshop.


The trailer for your new poetry collection begins, “I can’t go to the East Village anymore…” How do you feel about coming back to the neighborhood for your book reading?


I love the neighborhood but I avoided it for years because it brought back weird, painful memories. Now I’ve grown up a bit, and can enjoy life again. Bar on A is actually one of my favorite bars in the area. I had a “Where the Wild Things Are”-themed birthday party there a few years ago. I wore a faux fur stole. Read more…

Time For a Riot Reunion

Regrets Only

A tag photographed by one of our eagle-eyed community contributors, Scott Lynch, reveals plans for Tompkins Square Park riot reunions on July 29, and August 4 and 5. The former and latter dates correspond to Tompkins Square Park Live! events, which feature music, spoken word and other types of performance. Meanwhile, The Lo-Down brings word that the Sierra Leone Refugee All-Stars will headline a concern in the East River Park amphitheater on August 23.

Bike Share Program Wheelie Wants Your Business

photo(246)Sarah Darville Yael Carmel (center) tries out a bike.

The 7,000 bicycles that will hit the road when the city’s bike share program launches at the end of summer were meant to be sturdy and hard to topple. “They’re a bit like a tank,” remarked a Citi Bike employee who showed some of them off at Tompkins Square Park today.

So when Yael Carmel wobbled and nearly fell off of one of them, she had to laugh. It was one of her first times on a bike after recently learning to ride, she admitted. The employee steadied her and she was off toward Avenue B.

“I really like it,” she said as she got off the bike. “I need to get used to the idea of riding in the city. But I will.”

Ms. Carmel’s test ride might terrify those who worry the city’s bike share program will flood the streets with inexperienced riders, but today’s preview attracted more experienced cyclists as well. Read more…

Doggie Diary | Jubilee’s Day in the Park

Taking a cue from The Local Fort Greene’s Dog of the Day, we’re launching a new column featuring canine confessions from the dog run and beyond. Today: Jubilee and friends.

dog 5 Jubilee, photographed by her owner Alberto Reyes.

Hi, I’m Jubilee. Sometimes my human friends call me “Little Boss” because I like being in charge. I’m 10 pounds, 11 months, and a terrier mix. Being a mix – a little bit of Yorkie and a little bit of Schnauzer – makes me feel like a real New Yorker. Every morning my mom and I walk to the dog run at Tompkins Square Park where I meet up with my friends.

The park has two runs. The small dog area is the best because of the raised wood platform and a large shady tree. While we dogs play, the humans also get to know each other – so well sometimes that they plan trips together and take us along! My best girlfriend Rosie, a hybrid Peagle (half Beagle and half Pekingese) and her two-legged companion Lexa recently took a trip with the group to Larchmont dog beach, meaning we got to go swimming! Read more…

Howl! Festival, Day 3: I Am Rain, Ignore Me

Photos: Chris O. Cook.

The finale of Howl! Festival today was marred by intermittent bouts of rain, but the party never quite ground to a halt.

Rap and rock acts were the order of the day, with performances from Hip Hop Howl, Bear 54, and others. Male members of Deans of Discipline sported kilts for the occasion, perhaps as a means of acclimating the crowd to the drag queens who would be taking the stage at 5 p.m. Read more…

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…

The Day | Gun Bust at Union Square and 13 Other Morning Reads

Found kittenSuzanne Rozdeba
Lost dogSuzanne Rozdeba

Good morning, East Village.

Take note, pet owners: the flyer above and another at right went up around the neighborhood recently.

The Post reports that Kenneth Moreno, the former police officer who was acquitted of raping a woman on duty but fired after being found guilty of official misconduct, is thinking about suing the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office for allegedly planting incriminating evidence.

You’ll recall baggies of heroin were found in Mr. Moreno’s locker, and woes at the stationhouse continue: The Post hears from a source that the last of four 9mm pistols stolen from the locker room was swiped after officers were assigned to patrol the room.

Speaking of guns, The Daily News reports that two teens were arrested at the Union Square station when police officers who stopped them for evading the fare found a pair of guns and two bulletproof vests on them. Read more…

Photos: Dance Parade Shimmies, Shuffles, Tangos, and Twirls Through the East Village

Photos: Tim Schreier

The annual New York Dance Parade brought pretty much the entirety of the East Village over to St. Marks Place this afternoon to gawk at a colorful cacophony of fantastic attire, expert moves, and in the case of the Webster Hall float, scantily clad ladies escorting one of the parade’s grand marshals, DJ Jonathan Peters. In case you escaped to Rockaway Beach, where Caracas opened its boardwalk outpost today, these photos should give you an idea of what you missed. If you have your own shots, add them to our Flickr group.

Amid Life’s Ups and Downs, a Will to Uplift Others

Yesterday we profiled Food Not Bombs, which feeds East Villagers such as the homeless group we visited on Wednesday. Street Life Ministries also helps the needy in Tompkins Square Park. This is the story of one of the group’s volunteers.

A decade ago, police officer Glenn Ferro’s life fell apart. Caught in the grips of alcoholism and clinical depression, he was forced to resign from his job, went through a divorce, and lost his home. Today, the 61-year-old volunteers with Street Life Ministries in Tompkins Square Park, assisting homeless individuals with their everyday needs. His mission is to change the live of those who suffer from addiction, like he did.

Rescuing Organic Portobello Mushrooms for Those in Need

Yesterday, The Local visited a homeless encampment on Avenue A. Just a block away, in Tompkins Square Park, several groups – like this one, this one, and this one – are working to feed the needy. Here’s one of them.

Stirring a shiny mix of Portobello mushrooms, sweet yellow peppers, and other vegetables, Su Wang scooped up a piece of white radish for a taste. “Five more minutes,” she said.

During the week, Ms. Wang is a 19-year-old student of political science at Hunter College. On weekends, she serves as a member of the Manhattan chapter of Food Not Bombs, a group that feeds the homeless with surplus food rescued from grocery stores and dumpsters.

The anti-poverty movement, which encourages countries to cut the amount they spend on war in order to insure that food is available to all, has more than 1,000 active chapters around the world, including a dozen sub-organizations in New York State. The Manhattan chapter rescues 50 to 100 pounds of food per week, to serve mostly as vegan and vegetarian meals. Read more…

Tompkins Parents Plot Advocacy

Missing person

The Tompkins Square Park and Playgrounds Parents’ Association (the group behind last summer’s uproar over the rats in Tompkins Square Park) is deciding how to address concerns such as “reduction of pigeon/rat feeding, sand box cleanliness and increasing the number of garbage cans on the Avenue A side of the park,” according to a Facebook post. Meanwhile, a tipster spotted a flyer in the park for a missing 16-year-old who “likes parks and street musicians,” according to the notice.

Shaoul’s Rooftop Extension Not That Bad?


For all the hubbub, might developer Benjamin Shaoul’s rooftop extension to 315 East 10th Street not be such an eyesore? The Lower East Side Preservation Initiative seems to think so. “Now that work is ending, the final result could have been much worse, and we’re very glad to see the facade including the lovely cornice intact,” the preservationist group writes on its Facebook page. Back in January the block of East 10th Street along Tompkins Square Park was designated a historic district by the Landmarks Preservation Commission, but Mr. Shaoul got the green light for the extra story on his building literally hours before the vote.

In Tompkins, a ‘Rolling Rabbi’ Against Men With Sticks

Sitting on their couch one Saturday night while in college, Roni Jesselson and his roommate Mike Dabah started talking about how much they missed hockey. They had played in Jewish youth leagues, and discussion soon turned to how they could re-connect with the game they loved. They decided to organize a casual pick-up hockey league at Tompkins Square Park.

“We were like, ‘We have to do this’,” said Mr. Jesselson, 26, a documentary filmmaker who lives in Greenwich Village. “And from there it bloomed.”

At first, they used garbage cans instead of a net and goalie. Mr. Jesselson and Mr. Dabah would call friends late into the night trying to scrap together enough players for a game of three-on-three. But gradually, the scrimmages increased in organization, and in popularity. Today, five years later, the league’s mailing list boasts 45 people from as far as Queens or New Jersey.

The players are an “eclectic mix” of Jews (both religious and non-practicing, Mr. Jesselson said) and the game takes on a uniquely Jewish twist. Read more…

The May Day Riot of 1990: John Penley Looks Back

Photos: John Penley. Speaking in first photo: Tuli Kupferberg of The Fugs.

Earlier this morning, we reprinted Ellen Moynihan’s account of the 1990 May Day riots in Tompkins Square Park. Now, let’s look back at John Penley’s photographs of the day, from a collection of his work at N.Y.U.’s Tamiment Library.

Speaking to The Local from his current home in Asheville, N.C., the activist and photographer said he sensed trouble was brewing that night, twenty-two years ago. “I was ready for this one,” he said. “The ’88 riot I wasn’t ready for, but this one I had a lot of film, I had batteries, and I expected stuff to jump off.” He added, “There’s nothing like riots, man, especially as a photojournalist – as long as you don’t get beat up or your cam doesn’t get broken or something bad doesn’t happen to you, you can’t miss with the photos.” Read more…