As the bejeweled gather at Manhattan’s Hudson Piers for the Armory Show this week, the avant-garde regroups, reinvents and relocates. Today, its heart is in Bushwick. As an alternative to the Armory’s high society, the Con Artist Collective – a group of mainly Bushwick-based artists – has fiercely claimed all of 300 square feet in a tenement on the Lower East Side.
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Growing up in Kingston, Jamaica, the poet Staceyann Chin spent her teenage years terrified of getting pregnant. “Every Bible lesson, biology lesson, and casual reference to the future was marked with the warning: if you get pregnant, your life is over,” she wrote later.
When Chin began dating women, she was relieved, thinking that this panic would no longer be a part of her life. But at 35, after yet another debilitating breakup, Chin woke up from her solitary life in a one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn, haunted by a wholly different inconvenient truth: despite the fact that she had no partner, no stable income and no medical benefits, she wanted to have a baby.
At an emotional Lower East Side town hall meeting on Saturday afternoon, hundreds of concerned residents, a number of small business owners, and representatives of community organizations were visibly upset. Instead of being met by Mayor Bill de Blasio himself, they were greeted by a representative from the administration. “We have been reaching out to him for months,” Jei Fong, a coalition representative, told B+B. “We personally invited him to this meeting. This is a real slap in the face.”
Having once been a star student, Candace is severely brain-damaged, and cannot breathe unaided, talk, feed or wash herself. But, her mother Evelyn insists, she’s still in there, and will one day make a miraculous recovery to fulfill her calling as a Congresswoman.
It’s through Evelyn that we learn about Candi’s larger-than-life Puerto Rican family and their lives on Pike Street, in the shadow of the Manhattan Bridge. We meet Papi, Candi’s philandering grandfather, and Manny, Evelyn’s brother newly returned from Afghanistan. We meet the eccentric neighbor, Mrs. Applebaum, who tells anyone who will listen to “stop and smell the pickles.” Through their conversations we become acquainted with Evelyn’s late mother, who had a god-given gift for healing and ran a neighborhood botanica – a folk medicine store that sells religious candles and herbal remedies.
A popular East Village slice joint plans to reopen despite what it says is an unreasonable demand for dough.
Sophie Kahn and Bouchra Ezzahraoui were brunching at Café Gitane in Nolita when Sophie mentioned the trouble she’d been having with a Pucci ring she’d recently bought. “It turned my finger green,” she remembers. “We realized, you know, it’s so crazy. Either you spend a fortune on fine jewelry, or you buy artificial, brass- or copper-based costume jewelry and end up with green skin!”
Boarded up and covered in graffiti, the former Imperial Theater on the corner of Irving and De Kalb Avenue in Bushwick needs a serious facelift. Luckily it’s up for lease, and has been for the last two months, according to broker Justin Losh. “We’ve had a lot of interest, mainly from bars, restaurants and retail stores.” The real estate agent’s rendering shows light spilling out from an imagined “Irving Market,” with additional doors and windows having been added to the exisiting building.
“You can never have too many cats,” said no one ever.
Owning more than two cats above a certain age may be frowned upon, but few creatures are as universally hilarious. Just look at your Facebook feed.
Having recently shared some events for dog lovers, it’s only fair we give equal time to the book launch of Felines of New York, Jim Tews’s twist on Brandon Stanton’s famous Humans of New York. Instead of scrappy artists trying to make rent, or elderly couples holding hands on park benches, Tews takes a street-level (and couch-level, and carpet-level) view of the ordinary lives of New York City’s cats.
“Lower East Side, not for sale!” “Chinatown, not for sale!” These were the chants on the streets of Chinatown two weeks ago, when protesters, huddled under umbrellas, marched to City Hall to demand the prevention of the 80-story tower currently planned for the East River waterfront. With more luxury apartments on the rise and the commercial landscape following suit, anxiety over the rapid gentrification of the Lower East Side is intensifying.
With the title “HOUSE OF LIES,” Johan Wahlstrom’s upcoming exhibition at the Van Der Plas Gallery on the Lower East Side isn’t exactly subtle political commentary. The painting at left (click to enlarge) will be one of several featuring our favorite orange comb-over in the artist’s signature earthy palette. But it’s not just about hating on Trump, says the gallery’s executive assistant Arbi Gjondedaj. “It’s about the social upheaval we see all around us.”
It was at Slate Coffee Roasters in Seattle that Chi Sum Ngai first came across the deconstructed latté – a shot of espresso, a shot of steamed milk, followed by the symphony of the latté in full – and was utterly charmed. After completing her barista training in Portland and moving to New York five years ago, she realized that there was a gap in the market – in the East Village, at least – for something similar.
Some say the height of fancy dress was when the most famous architects of the New York City skyline came to the annual Beaux-Arts ball dressed up as the buildings they created. Well, local artist James McGann (a.k.a. Maskbread) is giving it a run for its money with his handmade, papier-mâché Halloween masks. In fact, it’s exactly the meticulous attention to detail that went into the homemade Halloween costumes of yore that inspires him. “Everyone spent so much time crafting these beautiful costumes and going out. The whole feeling of that time was something that really spoke to me.”