MoMA PS1 has once again brought their crack aesthetic instincts and curatorial muscle out to Fort Tilden for the summer, this year hosting a fantastic installation by one of the most popular artists of our time, Yayoi Kusama’s “Narcissus Garden.”
It’s been a hummus-filled week, folks. Alongside the arrival of Panorama near Union Square, vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurant VISH Vegetarian Hummus opened up earlier this week on E. 8th Street in the heart of NYU’s campus community. Falafel-lovers’ favorite, Maoz Vegetarian, closed in the spring and left a pita-shaped void on the block. But since VISH is opening in the exact same spot, fans can rest easy.
Speaker Corey Johnson opened this week’s City Council hearing on the 15-month L-train shutdown with a dramatic flourish. He promised “dogged oversight” and suggested with a firm note in his voice that there better be a “hard stop” at the project’s anticipated completion date. As you’re probably aware, service is expected to be suspended for 15 months between Bedford Avenue and 8th Avenue starting in April 2019. Meanwhile, the Department of Transportation (DoT) and the MTA are working around the clock with new plans to ease the fretful minds of legislators and affected residents and commuters. Here’s the important stuff you need to know from this week’s hearing.
The latest health-minded fast-casual chain to hit Manhattan just launched off of Union Square. Panorama Middle Eastern Grill is clearly aiming to become the Levantine Chipotle, and is hoping to succeed right across the street from where The Hummus & Pita Co. failed. Backed by a Canadian real-estate developer, the restaurant aims to open 15 locations around Greater New York in the next few years, starting with its first at 820 Broadway.
I know what you’re thinking: Does Brooklyn really need another café? But this is no ordinary coffee shop. Bar Beau, which opened on Monday, works overtime for it patrons, doubling as a coffee shop by day and trendy cocktail bar by night.
The coffee bar’s architecture also lends it an unusual appeal. Crisp lines of marble intersect with the ceiling’s plaster curves, evoking rocky cliffs and turbulent waters in an homage to the Pacific Northwest background of owner Claire Chan, who also operates the West Village café The Elk. The cocktail-slash-cafe is named for her nephew, Beau. “My roots are PNW (Vancouver, Canada), so it was important for me to integrate that into this “home away from home,” says Chan.
“Hey hey, ho ho, illegal hotels have got to go!” On a rainy Wednesday afternoon at the First Street Green Cultural Park, a dedicated group of 15 or so elected officials, activists and local residents sporting “Save the Lower East Side” T-shirts gathered to protest commercially operated, short-term rentals like VRBO and Airbnb.
Though it’s one of Smorgasburg’s home bases, Williamsburg hadn’t yet gotten one of the glitzy food halls that have been popping up all over Manhattan. That changed when North 3rd Street Market opened at 103 N 3rd this month, bringing with it ramen from Chuko (to make up for its closing in Bushwick), lobster rolls from Greenpoint/Rockaway fixture Lobster Joint, sandwiches and burritos from Lower East Side transplants Regina’s Grocery and Jajaja, croissants from Ben Cuit, cappuccinos from Champion Coffee, rolls from GoFish Sushi Box, and more. DJs from Halycon, the record shop inside of Williamsburg club Output, pair the eats with beats. Maybe most exciting, pizza institution Di Fara has set up its first satellite oven here, which means you’ll no longer have to trek out to Midwood to scarf what many consider to be the best pie in the city. Watch our video to check out the scene and hear from vendors and customers.
Video by Erica Carnevalli.
Despite a boisterous, chanting crowd that filled an auditorium in Cooper Union’s Great Hall and called for a rent freeze or rollback, the city’s Rent Guidelines Board voted to allow 1.5 percent increases on one-year leases and 2.5 percent increases on two-year leases in a narrow 5-4 decision last night.
Like the preliminary vote meeting the Rent Guidelines Board held in April, last night’s meeting was packed with tenants and activists hoping for at least a rent freeze on rent-stabilized apartments, which some said was the only thing between families across the city and homelessness.
“There is one barrier between a lot of us and homelessness: the Rent Guidelines Board,” Fitz Christian a member of CASA, told the crowd before the meeting began. “We who are living in our homes for 30 or 40 years are having a hard time living in our homes. It is a tremendous burden for us and our children. We want a rent rollback so we can live as human beings.”
In addition to speakers like Christian, tenant representative Leah Goodridge made the case for a rent freeze to the crowd and the board before actually introducing her motion. Goodridge pointed to the city’s rising numbers of homeless people and to data that she said showed landlords had actually made over $312,000 per landlord during the rent freeze period compared to $296,000 per landlord in non-rent freeze periods.
“My vote is for tenants struggling to make ends meet when the rent goes up,” Goodridge said before asking the board to vote for a rent freeze. “The tenants who have to decide ‘Should I buy a MetroCard or should I pay my rent? Should I buy food for my child or should I pay my rent?’”
The rent freeze proposal failed 6-3, but only after the 7-2 failure of a loudly booed motion from the landlords’ representatives to tack on a 2 percent increase for one-year leases and a 4 percent increase for two-year leases.
Ultimately, the board approved the 1.5 and 2.5 percent rent increases 5-4, before adjourning the meeting while the crowd chanted “Shame on you” before leaving the Great Hall to continue to rally outside. “It seems to me they were not relying on the testimony we heard from tenants,” Goodridge told reporters after the meeting, accusing the board of putting “profits before people” and refusing to consider the stories of tenants who testified in front of the board at five public meetings through the spring.
However, one of the board’s owner representatives disputed the dichotomy of “people vs. profits.” “The owner’s perspective or at least my perspective is you want to keep enough of an incentive for people to keep the housing in a state of good repair,” owner representative Angela Pinsky told reporters after the vote. “You don’t want to encourage them to look into other options like selling or redeveloping the land.”
In choosing against a rent freeze, Pinsky said the board was looking for the kind of compromise that allowed landlords to avoid “all sorts of market pressures that are pushing them towards other options than keeping an aging building with low-rent tenants” and cast the vote as the best possible scenario for the tenants.
“The most stable place for a lot of the people who came to testify would be in their current apartment in a state of good repair. I think moving around is costly for them, having your building bought and sold is expensive for them,” she said.
Tenant activists, of course, disagreed with that assessment, and promised a political fight. Before the vote itself, Assembly Member Harvey Epstein (who represents an area including Stuy Town, Alphabet City, the East Village and the Lower East Side) exhorted the crowd to vote in the 2018 state legislature elections and to “hold us all accountable, me in the Assembly and all our members” in an effort to repeal the Urstard Law, a long-running campaign by tenants advocates against the law that gives the state authority over rent regulation.
Rolando Guzman, a deputy director for community preservation with the St. Nicks Alliance, also promised tenant organizing would ramp up as the year went along, pointing to the march against Governor Andrew Cuomo’s housing policies held earlier this month as an example of a motivated and mobilized base. “There’s [political pressure] being built already, and this is pressure being built from the base up, from tenant associations and tenants who are being harassed,” he told Bedford + Bowery.
Still, in the moments after the vote, activists and renters couldn’t help but be somewhat discouraged by the board’s vote, which Guzman said amounted to a message of “We don’t care about you.”
“Nobody had a conscience, they’re not thinking about poor people,” Sondra James of the Flatbush Tenants Coalition told Bedford + Bowery outside Cooper Union. “What should we do? Hold our rents and force the landlords to know that we can’t pay it? Build tents around on corners, decorate New York with tents and live in them to show how many homeless people there are?”
After operating out of Jacob Riis Park’s Bay 9 Pavilion for the past three years, the Riis Park Beach Bazaar is expanding into the park’s crown jewel: its Art Deco bathhouse.
Ahh, Tompkins Square Park in the summer. Kids shooting hoops, lovers making out, activists chalking the ground. And…hundreds of furry critters prancing around the park, leaving utter mayhem in their wake? No, I’m not talking about those wretched squirrels. I’m talking about corgis!
On the first day of the summer solstice, the air thrummed with the rhythmic sensations of drumbeats and fast-paced guitar solos, lively dancing and good vibes during the Joe’s Pub Block Party at Astor Place.
Following the 2016 election, Joe’s Pub decided to pay greater homage to immigrant voices in their annual bash, which is part of the citywide Make Music New York program. This year, they touted a pretty incredible lineup of immigrants and performers of color, featuring the mambo and North African beats of the Yemen Blues Duo and the classically-trained voice of Treya Lam, among others.
Play our video to see the block party in full swing.
Video by Nicole Sedgh.
The 24th annual Drag March took place in the East Village Friday, as a colorful crowd kicked off Pride weekend by strutting from Tompkins Square Park to Stonewall Inn. The march started in 1994, in response to those attempting to discourage leather and drag wearers from participating in the festivities marking the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. Watch our video of this year’s parade and look for some cheeky nods to Melania Trump’s wardrobe choices.
Video by Amelia Henry.