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Boycott Ends at University of the Streets, 5C Cultural Center Still in Limbo

Kirk-Jones Quintet Street UniversityDan Glass Kirk-Jones Quintet at University of the Streets

The boycott of University of the Streets is over, a group of musicians announced in a statement posted by Brooklyn Vegan today. But it’s not necessarily back to business as usual for the jazz venue: its director, Saadia Salahuddeen, said it would likely head in a new musical direction in the coming months to help pay the bills.

“I’ve always supported the musicians that can’t get paying gigs, who are more improvisational, experimental, and given them a place to play,” Ms. Salahuddeen told The Local. Moving forward, she said, “We will service another community of musicians, change our focus to another group that needs attention.”

That shift is a result of ongoing financial pressures on the nonprofit performance space and a result of the negotiations between University and a coalition of musicians represented by the Local 802 union. As part of the agreement that brought the boycott to a close, the venue will end its “pay-to-play” policy, which required bands to pay a fee if too few paying customers came to see their show. Read more…

Get Your Weed Examined — For Free!

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Just when we had Mary Jane on the mind (the other day, as we were leaving Tom and Jerry’s, someone handed us the business card you see here), The Villager has a buzz-worthy story about a pot activist who is offering free examinations of your ganja. The man, Kenny Toglia, says a lot of the weed on the street harbors a cancer-causing fungus, so he uses a $20 microscope, from Radio Shack, to perform inspections at University of the Streets every Thursday at 6 p.m. This isn’t the expert’s first encounter with publicity, either. Mr. Toglia “insists he’s not setting up another marijuana club like the one in 1999 — in the same location — that had 600 members and was raided by police,” the paper reports.

University of the Streets Owner Addresses Brawl That Led to Boycott

Kirk-Jones Quintet Street UniversityDan Glass Saxophonist Darius Jones and Kirk Knuffke on cornet lead the Kirk-Jones Quintet during a less controversial performance at the University of the Streets.

The executive director of University of the Streets has broken her silence regarding a brawl that occurred at her long-standing Seventh Street venue earlier this month. According to Saadia Salahuddeen, the scuffle stemmed from a dispute over $50 that she said the band, Talibam!, owed the University because no one showed up for its show.

That’s when things got heated, according to a statement by Ms. Salahuddeen posted on the University’s Facebook page. A member of Talibam!, Kevin Shea, allegedly said to her, “You think we’re acting crazy? I am crazy — let’s get crazy.” He then allegedly lunged at Ms. Salahuddeen, leading to the fisticuffs. Read more…

On 7th St., An Eclectic ‘University’

Kirk-Jones Quintet Street UniversityDan Glass Saxophonist Darius Jones and Kirk Knuffke on cornet lead the Kirk-Jones Quintet duiring a performance at the University of the Streets, the cultural center that has thrived for four decades.

A tumble of snare snaps and clarinet wails escaped the second-floor windows above the restaurant 7A on a recent Saturday night. A garbage truck and police car replied with a snort and a whoop. Jazz was happening up there, in a place called the University of the Streets.

Neighborhood folks know the tagged glass door, the kitchen-bright vestibule on East Seventh Street and maybe the lighted sign mounted next to it But few know what is on the six floors above, where a karate dojo, artist studios, and until recently a pigeon coop, operate along with a small amphitheater that hosts an open jam session that has taken place every Friday and Saturday night since 1969.

It’s a remarkably consistent run by nearly any measure, but all the more impressive for taking place here in the center of the in the East Village, which has been on an express track of socioeconomic change for the past 40 years.

“This place is an institution,” said Robert Anderson, 57, a Saturday night house bassist who is built like a light heavyweight. “And we’re trying to get it back to how it used to be, back when those guys was comin’ down – C-Sharpe, Barry Harris. Monk used to come through here, Dizzy – everybody used to come through here.”
Read more…