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.

The Bowery is Preparing Itself to Welcome PYT- Any Day Now

PYT BOTW #4 - Chicken Cordon Bleu burger. Photo by Jessica Rossi

PYT BOTW #4 – Chicken Cordon Bleu burger. Photo by Jessica Rossi

New Yorkers just can’t help themselves: news of a new eatery on its way simply sets the saliva flowing and the anxiety level growing. The latest longing is directed towards a Philadelphia-based eatery that made the decision to enter the New York market last February, but did not announce a location until this past summer: 334 Bowery. Back then, in the month of June, the loose timetable for opening day predicted an “early October” opening day, but it seems a little more time is needed.

In the meantime the more curious among us can sneak a peek into the new branch of PYT and anticipate their visit. The windows are up and un-blocked so it is possible to see that there is a bar and counter-top near the doorway, supplied with bar-stools. In the back is an arcade cabinet with the PYT brand emblazoned on it.

As for the food, we were told back in July by the PYT master Tommy Up that we can expect some of their favorite fun food fare:

“Cheesesteak Pretzel Roll, The Pickelback, our PYT Burger, The Calibunga veggie burger and rotating in our hall-of-famers Deep Fried Twinkie Burger, Lasagna Bun Burger and the trashy but tasty Elliot’s Pizza Burger.”

In addition there will be something called a D’oh Nut Cheesteak Burger making its debut in NYC.

We are hoping this restaurant will have better luck than the many previous establishments which opened with high hopes, but did not succeed in the end.

Mural Remembers Ramones

Joey Ramon (Jeff Hyman) headstone. Photo by Tony Fischer

Joey Ramon (Jeff Hyman) headstone. Photo by Tony Fischer

Across from the former location on the Bowery of the famed music venue CBGB artists Solus and Dan (Crash) Matos created a mural to commemorate the debut of the Ramones over 40 years ago there.

The mural depicts the band leader Joey Ramone with bright red boxing gloves clutched together in front of his chest, looking ready for a fight. The non-profit group Little Italy Street Art Project NYC is behind the organization of paintings creation, which was executed within 6 hours on September 3.

Wayne Rada of the LISA Project explained that the fighting position Joey Ramone strikes in the portrait represents the many years of struggle the band had to invest before becoming the household name they eventually became.

“It was pretty cool that the boxing gloves have a symbolic meaning of the struggle,” Rada said.

Solus pointed out on Instagram that in the 22 years the Ramones toured they performed 2,263 times.

CBGBs closed in September 2006 after hosting live music for 33 years. August marked the 41st year since the Ramones first performance there.

The mural can remain for one year until the permit expires, at which time, the rules stipulate, the wall must go back to its “Tawny Rose” color. Rada needs to check with the community every 90 days to make sure there are no problems.

Rada said that word is quickly spreading through social media about the mural, and people have been coming to see it and take photos.

Owner of Bowery Hotel Faces $50 Million Lawsuit

The Bowery Hotel on the Bowery between East 2nd and 3rd Streets, in lower Manhattan, New York City, opened in 2007. Photo credit: Beyond My Ken

Richard Born, owner of the Bowery Hotel, and father of the boutique hotel, is being threatened with a $50 million lawsuit brought from his partner Gerald Rosengarten.

State Supreme Court Justice Shirley Werner Kornreich, presiding over the case, is not happy with Born’s behavior. She described some of his actions as “inexcusable” and “unacceptable,” referring to his delaying the case for close to nine months and flooding the court with a tsunami of paper work: more than half a million pages of documents, some of which were actually junk mail that has nothing to do with the case.

Rosengarten accuses Born of leaving him out of a deal to sell the penthouse suite of the Bowery Hotel, and a few other apartments at the top of the hotel. He is also claiming that right after he filed his lawsuit in April, 2014, Born began to withhold payments due him from his 12 percent stake in the hotel.

As of now the case seems to be leaning towards Rosengarten. In May a state judge told Born to pay Rosengarten for his share of equity in the hotel, which he says is about $1.5 million. Now the court has once again ruled against Born, stating that he deliberately avoided handing over information about the case in the form of email addresses and electronic communication, which he was told to do.

“Suffice it to say that the problems are material, pervasive and inexcusable,” Justice Kornreich writes. “Such behavior is unacceptable in the Commercial Division” of the state’s supreme court, she added.

When Born did finally get around to producing the information he handed over 500,000 pages, which the judge called a “document dump” and “inexcusable.” Justice Kornreich angrily said that some of the documents were “junk mails” with no value whatsoever to the case.

Mr. Rosengarten said that he is happy so far with the rulings of the court, but he would like to reach a settlement with his partner before a trial ensues.

“Richard is taking the position, because of his money, that he can squeeze me to the point of submission,” Rosengarten said about his partner. “I will not let that happen.”

Performance Artist Mixes Crime with His Passion

 Looking south in the evening from intersection of Mott Street and Canal Street (Manhattan) in Chinatown, Manhattan. Photo credit: Chensiyuan

Looking south in the evening from intersection of Mott Street and Canal Street (Manhattan) in Chinatown, Manhattan. Photo credit: Chensiyuan

Claiming he was engaged in artistic pursuits, performance artist Joe Gibbons could not convince the judge of that, and was instead sentenced to one-year in jail for robbing a bank.

The artist and former lecturer at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology pleaded guilty to a charge of third-degree robbery. He stole $1,000 from the Chinatown branch of Capital One Bank in Manhattan.

Apparently the robbery was part of, or all of, a performance, and was filmed by Gibbons on a pocket-sized video camera, taken by the artist himself.

Gibbons was arrested on January 8, 2015 at the Bowery Grand Hotel, only a short walk from the robbed bank. The police found Gibbons and arrested him based on a tip they received about his whereabouts. When the police entered his hotel room Gibbons was found lying on the hotel bed, holding the camera.

Tattoo Parlor Raising Funds for Museum of Tattoo History

When tattoo parlors were re-legalized in New York City in 1997 Daredevil Tattoo opened on the Lower East Side. It is one of the few from that era still open, but it has had some ups and downs. A few years ago their landlord upped the rent at 174 Ludlow Street by 50 percent, forcing them to find new digs. Lucky enough to find housing at 141 Division, that address is now permanent, not unlike the wares they peddle.

For the almost twenty years that co-founder Brad Fink has run his business he has gathered together an interesting assortment of tattoo memorabilia.  Much of those artifacts were utilized in the new premises décor, but Fink would like to do more for his collection. Daredevil co-owner Michelle Myles agrees that they can and should do more to preserve the objects of tattoo history. To that goal they have been active in promoting the creation of what might be the world’s first “Museum of Tattoo History.”

In order to raise the estimated $30,000 for the project, Fink and Myles have launched a Kickstarter campaign. The following is how they are promoting their pet project.

“Last year Daredevil moved into a new larger location on Division Street a few blocks from Chatham Square and the Bowery. The new space incorporates Brad’s collection into the tattoo shop for customers and visitors to enjoy. Michelle and Brad have been doing extensive archival research to document and map out the earliest New York tattooers in the Bowery area. We need your help to complete the work on the space and finish the display cases so the entire collection can be brought in and put on view.

     “Small businesses are having a harder and harder time staying in place in New York City. After we were priced out of our old location with a 50% rent increase we chose our new location because we had the option to buy the storefront we moved into. In December last year we closed on a mortgage and bought the space making us the only shop in NYC to own the property we’re in. We’ve managed to secure a forever home for our shop and the collection but we need help to finish a few more things. Getting to where we are now was the hardest thing we’ve ever accomplished but we feel we have something important to bring to the tattoo community and that we have something valid to contribute to the heritage of the Lower East Side.”

Graffiti Lovers Can Relax: 190 Bowery Will Keep Its Street Paint Job

Whatever worry Aby Rosen of RFR Reality had about obtaining permission for the renovation of his landmark structure has not vanished like, or perhaps not like yesterday’s graffiti.

Rosen won approval easily from the Landmarks Preservation Commission

190 Bowery: Graffiti to remain as renovations commence.

190 Bowery: Graffiti to remain as renovations commence.

to bring back 190 Bowery as a modern locale for office space, agreeing to keep the years of accumulated graffiti in its much beloved place on the street level walls.

Completed in 1899, the landmarked structure, located at the corner of Spring Street on Bowery, originally served as the office of Germania Bank. One year ago Rosen purchased the building for $55 million. He would like to turn it into offices with a retail space on the ground floor.

Rosen plans on restoring the windows, stained glass and metal gates, but will not be washing away the many years of street painting exhibited on the street level façade. Apparently the Landmarks Preservation Committee is pleased with that plan, and Rosen won the committee’s approval to begin the renovations.
Michael Goldblum, commissioner of the committee, stated that the restoration is “a real testament to the layering that preservationists seek.”

Who Says French Cuisine Has to Be Snooty?

French wines go with French cuisine. Photo courtesy of wikipedia.

French wines go with French cuisine. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Say hello to a new eatery in the Bowery, opening on April 20, called Rebelle, which means Rebel, of course, in French.  Behind the enterprise are two of the three entrepreneurs who brought us the popular Pearl & Ash in NoLIta (North Little Italy), Branden McRill and Patrick Cappiello.

Admitted and confirmed lovers of everything French, the pair want to make this extraordinary cuisine more user-friendly than its reputation would have us believe is possible.

“I’m a big lover of the Parisian food and wine scene, and we wanted to really replicate that here,” Cappiello remarked. “It was making a statement against the system.” He explained that today’s scene in Paris is a definite move away from “dress-code dining” towards “its all about the food.” “In Paris, it was about fighting the Michelin system, and here, it’s about fighting the Midtown mentality.”

The restauranteurs travelled to Paris to find the perfect chef. All the stars were perfectly aligned, and they were able to bring back with them Daniel Eddy. He was working as a chef de cuisine at the well-known Spring, but was looking for a way to get back to New York, from where he hails.

“You can’t really replicate Paris,” the Eddy said. “You have to take the philosophy and ideals of what exist there, and bring that back as your inspiration.”

For the restaurant’s interiors the team enlisted the design firm Home to get the exact deconstructed, pseudo-industrial feel they wanted for the dining area. The room is filled with dark, wooden tables in contrast with exposed brick walls and marble counters.

We wanted to fit in with downtown,” McRill explained.  He noted that the minimalist,  raw space, is a perfect pairing with its sister establishment Pearl & Ash. “It’s this juxtaposition of light and dark: industrial Bowery and northern Paris. I think it’s a sexy restaurant.”

NYC Program Helps Subway Homeless Get Shelter

Homeless Person sleeping on NYC subway. Photo by  edkohler

Homeless Person sleeping on NYC subway. Photo by edkohler

Over the past four years the number of homeless New Yorkers who seek shelter in the subways has skyrocketed by 90 percent, to a total of 1,841 today. To address this problem the city signed a contract with the Bowery Residents Committee for $6 million over several years. One benefit of the deal was the tripling of the number of social workers and clinicians to 60, allowing the city to reach out to more homeless people.

There are now about 1,000 homeless in the caseload of this new and unprecedented program. So far the program has convinced 261 of them to accept housing and other services that are available to them.

“We’ve increased the placement into transitional housing tenfold and we see that as a huge indication our efforts are working,” said assistant commissioner Danielle Minelli-Pagnotta.

To be considered a “chronically homeless” person an individual must be seen sleeping in the subway on a minimum of five occasions, said officials from the Department of Homeless Services. Each person is assigned a case manager, and information obtained from the homeless person is entered into a centralized data base.

Photographer Maisel Scores $55 Million on Bowery Property

Photo by Beyond My Ken

The Germania Bank Building, located at 190 Bowery at the corner of Spring Street in the Bowery neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City, was built in 1898-99 and was designed by Robert Maynicke in the Renaissance Revival style. It is a New York City landmark. Photo by Beyond My Ken

In what some are saying is one of the greatest return on investment for real estate in New York City, photographer Jay Maisel sold his Gilded Age bank building, the Germania Bank, for a whopping $55 million, after paying a mere $102,000 about forty years ago.

The property, located at 190 Bowery, is a graffiti-covered relic which developers have been salivating over for years as the once seedy neighborhood transformed to a trendy, up and coming hot spot in Manhattan. Maisels has been living in the building with his wife and daughter, using the lower floors as his studio and the upper floors for his living space. Last year the photographer cut a deal with developer Aby Rosen, but the record of the sale was filed with the city on Thursday.

Rosen already relisted the property for sale with realtor Cushman & Wakefield before the end of last year.