Stuck in town this Memorial Day weekend? You’re better off avoiding the mile-long airport lines anyway, so consider yourself lucky. But just in case you’re tired of hitting up to Smorgasburg for the third weekend in a row or staring at your computer screen as you Netflix your life away, Bedford + Bowery has put together plenty of options to keep you entertained over the long weekend.
Just two days after the death of Philip Roth, on Thursday morning alone, more than 50 customers entered the Strand, the bookstore just a few blocks from the novelist’s old East Village apartment, and left with copies of his work in hand. The most popular picks were Ghost Writer, Sabbath’s Theater, and The Plot Against America.
Over the phone, Leigh Altshuler, Strand’s marketing director, chuckled lightly. “By lunchtime…a young man came up to me and [said], ‘The Philip Roth section—all the books are almost gone!’”
There were no flowers or tattered paperbacks on the steps of Philip Roth’s childhood home in Newark this morning. The house at 385 Leslie Street, in a former lower-middle-class Jewish enclave that is now pocked with boarded-up storefronts, bore no memorial for the writer who died Tuesday at the age of 85.
Roth will forever be associated with his city of birth in New Jersey, where his celebrated fictional avatars Alexander Portnoy and Nathan Zuckerman also grew up. Those who think of him as a New Yorker likely associate him with uptown Manhattan, where he and Zuckerman would come to live. But when Roth moved to New York in 1958, he lived in the East Village. It was there, in a basement apartment on East 10th Street, where the fledgling writer started his rise to fame, where he had formative experiences that would shape his highly personal novels, and where his work first sparked controversy about his complicated relationship with his Jewish identity.
In the middle of the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, a tin full of dried worms was passed around, and I was strongly encouraged to sample one.
Last July, when Cup and Saucer closed due to a rent hike after more than 75 years in business, the throwback luncheonette was mourned by Lower East Siders. The mom-and-pop diner has now been replaced by a chicken and pizza joint, but its storefront, at least, will return to the neighborhood in the form of a tribute that will live in Seward Park for a year. Karla and James Murray, the East Village photographers whose Store Front books document some of the city’s iconic and evocative facades, are creating a structure displaying near-life-size versions of four of their photos. “Mom & Pops of the LES,” as the project is called, is described in a Kickstarter campaign as “an artistic intervention and a plea for recognition of the unique and irreplaceable contribution made to New York by small, often family-owned businesses.”
Earlier this month, the French Embassy revealed that its Films on the Green series would have a food theme this year, and now the producers of the Tribeca Film Festival have announced that their summer series will also be grub-minded. Tribeca Drive-In Presents Westfield Dinner & a Movie, as the outdoor flicks at Oculus Plaza are called, will kick off June 14 with a screening of La La Land. Because Ryan Gosling looks delicious, I guess. Actually, Tribeca is being rather liberal with the theme and including food-focused films like Chef, the feel-good comedy where John Favreau plays a food truck dreamer, along with films where mere “key scenes” involve chowing down. So, Lady in the Tramp qualifies for its spaghetti seduction scene and When Harry Met Sally qualifies for the “I’ll have what she’s having” incident at Katz’s. If that seems like a stretch, who cares: There’ll be food from Eataly, Epicerie Boulud, Choza Taqueria, and other Westfield World Trade Center vendors.
Here’s the schedule.
Why Your Train Is F*cked
Wednesday, May 23 at Caveat, 6:30 pm: $15 advance, $18 doors
The MTA is generally bad, so much so that some guys tried to give it an award for being the worst at one of the L train shutdown town halls last week. Speaking of which, the L train shutdown? Seems bleak! Good thing I don’t have a regular commute, because I am too scared to bike anywhere. If you’ve been particularly frustrated about the MTA lately, come be among folks who feel similarly at a comedy show all about the history of this transit system, starting with the origins of the MTA in the 1830s. Let’s just hope your train doesn’t get too delayed on the way there. Who am I kidding? It probably will be. Keep Reading »
In the shadow of the Manhattan Bridge, a group of plucky amateurs were facing off in a game of street hockey at Rev. Joseph Moffo Rink. It was the Hammerheads against the Monstars, two teams with a bitter rivalry in the Mofo Hockey League, and the action was chippy from the outset. A defenseman for the Hammerheads jostled in the corner and emerged with the ball – a tangerine-colored sphere designed not to bounce on the asphalt. He flung it up the boards to his teammate, who raced shoulder-to-shoulder with one of the Monstars to retrieve it. They wore sneakers, not roller skates, and even though the surface was 50 feet shorter than a regulation rink, it was exhausting.
The schooner-slash-seasonal-oyster-bar, Pilot, reopens for its first full season this Thursday, May 24 at Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Pilot—along with other waterfront restaurants Grand Banks and Island Oyster—was co-founded by brothers Alex and Miles Pincus. They turned their lifelong love of sailing into a unique dining extravaganza for seafood lovers aboard this majestic boat.
Three years ago, when Dunkin Donuts opened on Cooper Square, we wondered how long its neighbor, Cafe Zaiya, could last. “Dunkin’ Has Done Its Plunkin’ and Our Spirits Are Sunken” was the oh-so-clever headline. Well, now our spirits are truly squashed, because Cafe Zaiya, that haven of cheap eats, is gone. The Japanese bakery and cafe was closed by the health department at the end of last month after racking up 73 violation points, and an employee at Zaiya’s midtown location tells us the East Village outpost is closed for good.
Crimes of the Gods
Opening Wednesday, May 23 at Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects, 6 pm to 8 pm. On view through June 29.
The mythology of Greek gods have been around for ages, and usually comprise a large chunk of one’s education, whether that be in grade school or college theater classes. But something that is often glazed over or diminished in seriousness is the deep-seated misogyny inherent in many of these powerful characters, and how their actions may have laid a foundation for how our world operates today. Artist Susanna Coffey published an art book in 1988 centered around these tales of gods (men) taking what they want (women, usually), and woodcuts made from these images will be on view alongside self-portraits imbued with the same passionate feminine anger. “Now I see that the tale told in The Homeric Hymn is more of an ongoing truth than a myth,” Coffey writes in an essay included with the exhibition, and it’s worth wondering if the opposite will ever be true. Keep Reading »
The 2018 Lower East Side Film Festival is announcing its opening night film, Getting Naked: A Burlesque Story, with this exclusive from Bedford + Bowery. The documentary is about the wild and ever-changing burlesque revival in New York. It premiered at the 74th Venice International Film Festival and played at DOC NYC 2017 prior to its scheduled showing at the LES Film Festival on June 7.
We chatted with the film’s director, James Lester, about burlesque in New York and the inspiration behind his feature documentary.