New York Cabbie Turned Author Tells Tales of Celebs and More

More Stories than the Empire State Building

More Stories than the Empire State Building

Gene Salomon has been a New York City cab driver for over 36 years and has, as he puts it, “more stories than the Empire State Building.”

Those stories are the focus of the book Salomon wrote, which is scheduled to be released on January 28, “Confessions of a Taxi Driver.”

The book tells the many tales of Salomon’s encounters with celebrities over the years. According to Salomon he met 114 stars throughout his career. The veteran cabbie explains that although his job lacks many perks, the incredible tales he has been collecting over the years has more than made up for it.

In Salomon’s book he describes a ride he gave to the young Leonardo DiCaprio before he rocketed to stardom after playing Jack in “Titanic.”

In 1996 DiCaprio entered Salomon’s cab and exclaimed, “Don’t you know who I am?” Salomon said, no, he didn’t. So DiCaprio started to list the films that he had starred in. The two really hit it off as Salomon drove DiCaprio to a nightclub. Before leaving the cab DiCaprio asked Salomon, “Who was the biggest celebrity tipper you ever had in your cab?” Salomon told him that John McEnroe had given him double the meter price. To Salomon’s delight and shock, DiCaprio one-upped McEnroe and gave Salomon triple the meter.

Some of the other celebrities Salomon has chauffeured around were Lauren Bacall, Sean Penn, Dennis Hopper, and he even had Paul Simon twice.

Salomon says he told Simon that he should buy the Yankees. “Me? You want me to buy the Yankees?” Simon replied. “I don’t have that kind of money. You should talk to McCartney.”

NYC Transit Considering Urine Detectors to Deter Public Urination

New York is not alone in the world when it comes to the use of public spaces such as subway elevators and stairways used as urinals, creating a stench made even worse in the hot summer months or in warmer southern climates. New Yorkers would like to see an end to this public nuisance, but stopping the crime before it’s committed, or discovering the culprit after the fact, has been a problem whose solution has historically eluded law enforcement- until now.

New York officials are considering a program which under consideration already Atlanta. MARTA, the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority has developed a plan to end public peeing utilizing better lighting, cameras and sensors which detect the splash of urine and notify policy immediately. If the officer is fast enough the hope is he will be able to arrive at the scene of the crime in time to arrest the pisher.

Atlanta hopes to install this system in 111 subway elevators where the problem is especially acute, at a cost of approximately $1 million. Keith Parker, CEO of Marta explained to a group at a “State of MARTA” event held in December how a trial of the sensors in one elevator fared.

Public urination might become more difficult to get away with in the future

Public urination might become more difficult to get away with in the future

Parker said that in one successful instance of the use of the sensor apparatus the police were able to catch the culprit “quite literally, with his pants down.”

Unfortunately, however, that one arrest was sui generis during the month-long trial. Hopefully, on the other hand, there was only one arrest because the frequency of violations went way down due to all the warning signs which go hand in hand with the detectors.

New York Transit Authority officials will be watching the Atlanta experiment closely to see if such a program can help the City fight this small crime which has big consequences. Atlanta is hoping that if public urination was controlled more people would use public transit there.

Certainly in New York reducing that pungent odor found in public spaces will lift the experience of living in New York out of the subway tunnels and into the light.

Martha’s Vineyard Pop Up Shop Comes to the Bowery

fish and roseMost of us have heard of the pop up clothing shop – but a pop up restaurant is certainly in a class by itself. That’s what Chris Fischer and the Beach Plum restaurant crew have just taken on in New York City.  They arrived at their Kenmare Street location on December 9th in the morning and were tasked with having the place, Fish and Rose, ready for their first customer by evening. This site near the Bowery will only be there until December 30th, and will only be open for dinner.

The group only committed one month ahead of time to the project. Chris said that the biggest hurdle was that the NYC location is 300 miles from home and there were communications and transportation issues at times. Their location, on Martha’s Vineyard, means that they are going to be shipping food south for the duration of their stay in NY.

As Kathryn Arffa, who was in charge of logistics, said “We know that if we put our minds to something, we will get it done.”

Another hurdle is that the 10 Kenmare space doesn’t have gas, so there is no cooking range. Certainly, coming to the pop up restaurant will be quite an experience!




Remembering Punk Rock’s Incubator Forty Years Later

Iconic CBGB Opened 40 years ago in December

Iconic CBGB Opened 40 years ago in December

Forty years ago, in December, 1973, what was to become one of the most iconic music clubs in New York City opened its doors: CBGB. Its full name was CBGB&OMFUG, which stood for Country, Blue Grass, Blues and Other Music for Uplifting Gormandizers.

Curiously, if we are all remembering correctly, the bands that first got their start their and torpedoed into stardom, such as the Ramones, Television and Blondie, could not be confused with country and bluegrass bands by anyone with ears. So what happened?

Hilly Kristal opened CBGB at 315 Bowery. This was the address of his previous business, Hilly’s on the Bowery. Kristal was forced to move his West Village nightclub to the new site after neighbors complained about the noise.

The mid 70s was not such a friendly time for new bands in New York that wanted to play original music. To make ends meet Kristal allowed a few young music promoters to feature their local groups at his nightclub, provided that they followed only two dictates: The band had to be willing to haul their own equipment themselves, and they were not to play covers of songs. This meant that Kristal did not have to pay ASCAP dues.

Since CBGB was one of a very few number of clubs that showcased young, up-and-coming acts the place was bursting with bands embracing the latest phase in the evolution of rock & roll: extremely loud, stripped down, high energy sound that was played fast and hard. It took only one year for the bar to play host to the likes of Television, the Ramones and the Stilettos, which later morphed into Blondie with Debbie Harry and Chris Stein. It did not take long for the ‘scene’ to develop, and the natural progression was for the biggest acts at CBGB to be go on to sign lucrative music deals.

In the 1980s CBGB was the headquarters for the truly hardcore punk rock bands. The tiny bar stayed open for decades after. It became not only a place for music, but a tourist site, and a punk rock kind of rite-of-passage.

CBGB was forced to close in 2006 over a rent dispute due to the extreme gentrification of the neighborhood. Many of the biggest bands that played there also lowered the curtain and played their list gig at the site, making it even harder for the club to stay open. Kristal passed away in 2007. The famous CBGB awning now resides in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

German Beer Meets New York City on The Bowery

Beer Meets the Bowery

Beer Meets the Bowery

One of Germany’s most popular beers (and that is saying a lot), Paulaner, opened a haven for beer lovers on The Bowery just south of Houston Street. With room for 200, the space was once the home of the iconic saloon Sammy’s Follies, and was a restaurant supply store in its most recent incarnation.

The Paulaner Brauhaus Microbrewery is quite serious about its name. Upon entering the restaurant it is overwhelmingly apparent that you have come into a brewery, as the décor includes giant brew kettles and mash tuns. There are four beers served which are brewed on the premises, and on tap. If you wonder how the equipment got into the building as its all way too big for the doors or windows, the answer is through a hole cut in the roof.

The Brauhaus consists of two rooms; a large bar area and a dining room. Both rooms can hold about 120 beer drinkers (and diners) comfortably. There is an additional space downstairs for private parties with an attached outdoor area that the restaurant does not yet have permission to use. (The restaurant is required to adhere to strict noise level limitations from the community board which also forbade the Brauhaus from installing more than one television to watch German soccer games.)

The menu offers German standards like sausages and wiener-schnitzel, hamburgers and the famous Berliner- jelly donut, for dessert. And don’t forget the real reason you are there- for the beer!

Lauryn Hill Returns After Her Last Engagement: Jail Time

Lauryn HillDon’t let Ms. Hill’s prison time turn you off to her music, after all, it seems no one else is too bothered by three months in jail followed by three months under house arrest. Tickets begin at $106.60 for her two November 27 back-to-back performances at the Bowery Ballroom.

Lauryn Hill was caught not paying her taxes. Even though she was able to pay the $900,000 she owed the IRS at the last moment right after signing a lovely record deal with Sony, she still had to spend 6 months in government custody. Oh, she did not exactly serve the house arrest time yet. She managed to have that postponed so she could arrange her “Homecoming” performances.

The shows will take place at 6:00 PM and 10:30 PM at the Bowery Ballroom, 6 Delancey Street.

Bowery was First Manhattan Street

Bowery Theatre (as rebuilt in 1845 after a fire), 46 Bowery, New York.

Bowery Theatre (as rebuilt in 1845 after a fire), 46 Bowery, New York.

Did you know that Bowery, a 1.5 mile street is the oldest road on all of Manhattan? During the time of the Native American settlement Bowery was just a dirt path created by the constant walking from the lower tip of Manhattan by the Native Americans in bare feet and moccasins.

When the Dutch arrived they established their farms along this road, the first residents being ten families of freed slaves in 1645. Later in that century, when the Dutch settled the island, the path was dubbed Bouwerij Road, the old Dutch word for ‘farm.’ It was a descriptive name since the road connected the farmlands and estates which were outside the city to the area which was the heart of the city, where Wall Street and Battery Park are today.

Within 100 years the Bowery was acknowledged as New York’s most elegant street. Graceful homes and mansions, great theaters, ostentatious banks and elegant shops lined this noble avenue.

Lucy Morningstar Coming to Bowery Electric

Lucy Morningstar

Lucy Morningstar

The Bowery Electric, located at 317 Bowery at 2nd Avenue will be the venue for recording artist and songwriter Lucy Morningstar this coming October 20th at 6:30pm.

The special performance will celebrate the new release of her recording “Strands of Light.” Also playing will be master percussionist Jimmy Lopez.

Morningstar’s music has been touching the hearts and souls of audiences on the East and West Coasts. She presents poetic lyrics and melodic guitar sounds combined with her soulful voice.

For more information call 212-228-0228. There will be an $8 cover fee charged.

Gemma Restaurant Re-opens After Recovering from Small Fire

Gemma Restaurant Back Up and Running

Gemma Restaurant Back Up and Running

After forcing an evacuation of the restaurant last Tuesday due to a small kitchen fire the Gemma restaurant at the Bowery Hotel has reopened for business.

The fire broke out at about 11am on Tuesday in the restaurant’s kitchen, forcing patrons out of the restaurant. Luckily the fire was not out of control and the rest of the building did not need to be evacuated.

New York City FireDepartment Deputy Chief Jim Hodgens explained the situation:

“We evacuated some of the building. It was just contained to that duct work in the kitchen that extended up to the upper floors, but we didn’t evacuate the whole building.”

Thankfully no one was hurt in the fire.

Mont Lawn Camp Gives Kids a Summer to Remember

Mont Lawn CampFor 60 years the Mont Lawn Camp, funded by the Bowery Mission of New York, has been helping kids who otherwise would probably not experience a summer camp experience, to have such a wonderful experience.

The camp, located at the other end of Sugar Mountain Road East near the border of Middle Smithfield and Lehman townships takes in 160 children for seven one week session all summer long. The kids range in age from 6-16 and come from all over the greater New York area. Mont Lawn is composed of 43 buildings, a beautiful, large lake, a pool, chapel, barn and dining area sprawled on 200 acres.

Donations to keep the camp running are collected not only from the Bowery Mission, but also from supporters such as CISCO and Pocono ProFoods. The facility is used as a retreat center during the winter when campers are not there.

“We provide a hope to the future,” said Josh Cruz, recruiter at the camp. “We impart Christian morals and values while they have lots of fun. With so much poverty and all the things going on in their families, they need positive people around them.”

Campers learn and grow in ways that are not possible under the circumstances these kids come from. Eleven-year-old Elasia Goosby, from Queens, was frightened of water before she spent a week at Mont Lawn Camp. When asked if she was still afraid of water Elasia answered:

“Not anymore,” not afraid to jump into the lake. “The counselors are very nice treating us like friends. They are like our mothers, taking care of us and talking about different things.”