Weegee’s Bowery on Display in Jersey City

Rubber stamp used by the photographer Weegee (Arthur Fellig) for signing his pictures.

Rubber stamp used by the photographer Weegee (Arthur Fellig) for signing his pictures.

If you hurry you can still catch an exhibit well worth your time. Until August 5th Jersey City’s Mana Contemporary will be showing the work of Usher Fellig, better known as Weegee, depicting the Bowery when it was deep in its “Skid Row” phase.

Usher Fellig, born in what is now Ukraine in 1899, was an ‘infamous’ New York City press photographer. Usher was changed to Arthur upon his arrival to US shores, but he became Weegee somewhere along the way because of his uncanny ability to arrive at crime scenes within minutes of their occurrence. (Weegee is a misspelling of Ouija, as in the board that connects this world to the “other world.”)

His black and white renderings of urban life are shocking statements about the harsh realities of life in New York during the 30s and 40s of the 20th century.

The exhibit, Weegee’s New York,  focus on the down and out population that gathered in the Bowery, living in the shadow of the Third Avenue El, on the street, in flea-bag hotels, and flop houses which could be had for only 25 cents/night.

The International Center for Photography in New York City was given Weegee’s estate in 1997. In 2015 ICP opened a branch at Mana in Jersey City in 2015 as an expansion of it Manhattan campus. The exhibit, which closes on August 5th, was organized by ICP in honor of the opening of a new branch in the Bowery.

ICP at Mana is open only by advanced appointment. To make an appointment contact: [email protected]
Hours Monday-Friday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturdays, noon-6 p.m. Admission is free.

ICP Moves to New Downtown Quarters

International Center for Photogrpahy

International Center for Photography

New York’s esteemed International Center of Photography is partnering with downtown’s New Museum as it evacuates it former home in midtown.

Not only is the museum in new digs, but its entire image has been transformed. Not only is it just a few steps from the New Museum, it is in the midst of some of the photography world’s best galleries; over 125 of them on the Lower East Side alone.

“There’s a much more creative community that’s walking around that lends to the energy,” said ICP’s executive director Mark Lubell.

The ICP was founded in 1974 by Cornell Capa. Since that time there has been a game-changing shift in photography, which is a feature of the museum’s first exhibit: “Public, Private, Secret.” The show explores the issues of privacy, surveillance and the effect of an image on self-identity, going back to the time of Sojourner Truth and her intimate 19th century prints.

“We’re getting to now live our lives through image-making and perceiving images, with everything from politics to climate issues to our own self-identity,” Lubell explained.

VK Nagrani Coming to the Bowery with a Men’s Lodge, Boutique, and Bar

Men's Brown Lace-Up Shoes

Men’s Brown Lace-Up Shoes

Rent hikes were the most likely cause of the demise of two Bowery business back in January 2015. Bowery Coffee and antique shop B4 It Was Cool,Since closed because, as one employee said, “it was no longer economically feasible” to stay in business. Since then the spaces have been empty, but action has been noticed recently at 87 East Houston, the former home of Bowery Coffee.

VK Nagrani, a combination luxury men’s boutique and bar, known as a “lodge,” is taking up the challenge of the $18,000 per month rent. Contractors have been dragging in bar stools and vintage furniture to fill the two-story space and create just the right ‘lodginess’ for the brand.

The Wall Street Journal has described the VK Nagrani Lodge as a “speakeasy retail store where, before arriving, customers are asked what they like to drink and what they like to listen to.”

The brand used to operate out of a gallery on the Upper East Side, but shut down in anticipation of its opening in the Bowery, scheduled for June 1st.

Vivek Nagrani explained the store’s philosophy in an email:

We are creating an experiential men’s boutique featuring luxury men’s clothing, custom clothing, bespoke jeans, handmade shoes and organic men’s grooming products (hangover recovery kits, post flight rejuvenation kits). Everything is made by artisan workshops in Italy, Peru and here in New York. The space is more theatre than traditional retail. The focus is taking the gent through time to an era when luxury was reserved for those who took the effort to discover it.

NYC Nursing Homes

Making the decision to move a loved one into a nursing home can be heart-wrenching. Thankfully these days – at least for those in the NYC region – there are many excellent options. Checking out the home carefully before the decision is made is essential. Look out for: how happy current residents are; what activities are on offer for the residents; what the medical care is like; nutrition, etc.

dependent-441408There are many options for nursing care in New York City today. For example, Dry Harbor Nursing Home in Queens is a top rated rehabilitation center with high end equipment and the finest staff. It also features a completely modern complex, offers classes of interest and so much more. Then there is Village Care Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, Amsterdam Nursing Home, Brooklyn Queens Nursing Home and the Linden Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation, to name but a few.

Check them all out carefully. Schedule a visit. Take your loved one with and note the vibe when he or she is in each place. Act on it.

And remember, moving a loved one into a nursing home does not have to be the end. It can actually be the beginning of something wonderful as finally the inhabitant has people at a similar stage in life with a lot in common. Look at it positively and your family member will hopefully do the same.

Upscale Movie Complex Coming to South Street Seaport

A Lighthouse-esque structure near South Street Seaport Museum, New York City. Photo by Andy C.

A Lighthouse-esque structure near South Street Seaport Museum, New York City. Photo by Andy C.

With plans to open this coming autumn, iPic Entertainment is adding an eight-screen movie theater complex to the newly renovated South Street Seaport. The Seaport is getting its $1.7 billion overhaul care of the Howard Hughes Corporation.

There are also at least three key movie operators who are in active negotiations with Fosun International. Cinemex, an operator based in Mexico City; Landmark Theaters-owned by Mark Cuban; and Cinemark, the third largest US-based movie theater chain, based in Texas.

The theater will take up 50,000-square-feet of space at the base of what was One Chase Manhattan Plaza at 28 Liberty Street. That comes to 25 percent of the entire retail space available on the ground floor of the 60-story building. The retail space, which Fosun is renovating complete with glass-walled storefronts, will go for $100 per square-foot.

Mayor de Blasio Co-Names 42 Places Throughout the City

It is a long tradition in New York to honor those beloved residents who are no longer with us. There is Joey Ramone Place, which is part of the Bowery; and there is Jerry Orbach Way on West 53rd Street at Eighth Avenue. Now there are 42 more such places.

"Evacuation day" and Washington's triumphal entry in New York City, Nov. 25th, 1783.

“Evacuation day” and Washington’s triumphal entry in New York City, Nov. 25th, 1783.

Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a law so that the present names of the existing streets and public places could share their names with an honorable co-name. When the mayor signed the bill he said that the action honors “individuals, cultural icons and entities that made lasting contributions to New York City.”

Manhattan will receive seven of the 42 new names. Here are just three:

  • 1783 Evacuation Day Plaza will be the new co-name of Bowling Green Plaza to honor the lowering of the British flag and raising of the US flag at the end of the American Revolution on November 25, 1783, known as Evacuation Day.
  • Normal Rockwell Place is the new co-name at the intersection of 103rd Street and Broadway.
  • Ms. Aida Perez-Loiza Aldea Lane is the new co-name of the southeast corner of East 105th Street and Lexington Avenue. A native of Puerto Rico, Aida Perez-Loiza Aldea was an activist for Puerto Rican culture.

Fashion Week: Men’s Putting on a Show or Two

Backstage at the Richard Chai Fashion Show for Men's Fashion Week in New York. Photo by Aveda Corporation

Backstage at the Richard Chai Fashion Show for Men’s Fashion Week in New York. Photo by Aveda Corporation

February 1st marks the beginning of New York Fashion Week: Men, so expect to see some male models wondering around town to and from all the exciting events.

The men’s wear company Public School is hosting an event at the Whitney Museum on February 1st at 5pm. The first 50 people in attendance will be given a specialty wristband.

At a more downtown location the men’s fashion designer John Varvatos is asking the question “Rock is Dead?” above his storefront at the former location of CBGB, 315 Bowery. We were made to believe that the bran will be doing some kind of an “installation” of its most recent collection, however, the event is strictly by invitation only.

Bereaved Mother of Suicide Suing Facility Where He Had Access to Roof

The mother of a 21-year-old mentally ill man is suing the Jack Ryan Residence in Chelsea for allowing him free access to the roof of the 10-story facility. In 2013 Angel Nunez jumped to his death from the roof of 127 West 25th Street, and his mother, Astra Rodriquez, 59, holds the staff at the residence responsible.

“This isn’t a shelter with cots. It’s a mental health facility but they allowed residents almost totally unrestricted access to the roof. The doctors knew that he had suicidal tendencies. He’s depressed and he jumps. It’s absolutely horrible,” said Rodriguez’s lawyer, Elliot Pastik.

According to court records Nunez left a note for his family on August 2, 2013, went to the roof where he climbed over a 9-foot fence, and stood on the ledge. He ignored staff who ran to help him and tried to talk him down. At 5:40pm Nunez emptied his pockets of his money and ID, threw them up in the air, threw out his arms, looked at the staff, and then fell to his death.

The operators of the facility, the Bowery Residents Committee, opened the Jack Ryan residence in 2011, despite neighborhood opposition. At the time the BRC bragged about their “rooftop garden” which residents could access, getting fresh air without the need to congregate on the sidewalks outside the residence, therefore avoiding the neighbors and their wrath.

“They’re serving people with mental issues. How are you going to leave access to the roof to people who are mentally ill?” Astra Rodriguez said. “Not only because it was my son — anyone else could have gone up there and decided to hurt themselves.”

Iconic Bowery Storefront to Close

After fifty years of trading in some of the most avant-garde garb, Patricia Field is closing down. Throughout the years this store has served one of New York’s most outlandish, creative and iconic subcultures; it was a meeting place for all that is wacky and wonderful about New York.

Shoppers who were either designers or stylists could rely on Patricia Field for unusual furry sweaters and wild costume jewelry, not to mention wigs, Daniel Palillo and leopard print cover-ups with batwings.

Field was also among the first to hire drag queens and transsexuals, way before anyone else was willing to take that step. While clad in sequins the careers of many designers, musicians and artists got their wardrobe boost within these walls.

A few years ago field expanded the premises to two stories, giving her much more room to exhibit her wares. Now the shop is scheduled for closure this coming spring.

“I started my store when I was 24 years old and it has led me onto all the wonderful professional roads I have taken,” said Field.

“My purpose was to begin my own life/career and to answer to no one but myself to be independent. After 50 successful years of being able to do just that, I decided it was time to close this chapter and make more room for all the branches that have sprung directly from that tree; continuing my film and television work, styling, designing, and pursuing brand-new projects that have been offered to me that I have not had time before to develop.”

MCNY Exhibit Celebrates Yiddish Theater

Yiddish theater actors and personalities in 1888: from left to right: Jacob P. Adler, Zigmund Feinman, Zigmund Mogulesko, Rudolf Marx, Mr. Krastoshinsky and David Kessler

Yiddish theater actors and personalities in 1888: from left to right: Jacob P. Adler, Zigmund Feinman, Zigmund Mogulesko, Rudolf Marx, Mr. Krastoshinsky and David Kessler

A new exhibit set to open on March 9, 2016 at the Museum of the City of New York is “New York’s Yiddish Theater: From the Bowery to Broadway.” The exhibit is the first time a major museum displayed a major survey of this fascinating subject, says Edna Nahshon the guest curator for the show.

“It is a topic that begged to be dealt with,” Nahshon, who is a professor at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, told the New York Times.

The presentation documents the rise and blossoming of New York’s Yiddish culture from the late 19th century to the middle of the 20th century. As Jewish immigrants arrived by the thousands from Eastern Europe and other countries, a thriving Yiddish culture in New York, especially in Manhattan’s Lower East Side was established. The exhibit will feature items which were donated by the family of Boris Aronson, the Tony Award-winning set designer who worked on Fiddler on the Roof and The Diary of Anne Frank.

The MCNY website describes the show:

“From the late 19th to the mid- 20th century, a thriving Yiddish theater culture blossomed on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, entertaining over 1.5 million first and second generation Eastern-European Jewish immigrants.”

“Second Avenue became the ‘Yiddish Broadway,’ where audiences of new New Yorkers celebrated their culture and learned about urban life in the city via cutting-edge dramas, musical comedies, and avant-garde political theater. As stars of the Yiddish stage gained mainstream popularity, New York’s Yiddish theater became an American phenomenon. This legacy resonates today through enduring dramatic themes, classic New York humor, and a large crop of crossover actors, directors, and designers who found work on the mainstream New York stage and in Hollywood.”

Among the memorabilia on display will be Aronson’s original wooden set model of the Anatevka home of Tevye the dairyman, the hero of Fiddler on the Roof.

MCNY is located at 1220 Fifth Avenue.