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Life After ‘Jeopardy!’: Austin Rogers Doesn’t Want to Be Quiz Guy, Despite the Groupies

(Illustration by Neil Hamel)

Austin Rogers is working behind the bar at Gaf West, a cozy little Irish pub in Hell’s Kitchen. It’s a pleasant surprise to find him here, knowing that the 39-year-old bartender just won $466,000 over the course of a brilliant run on Jeopardy! from September to November. The native of Pound Ridge, NY, has also become a cult figure for his delightfully subversive antics on the otherwise humorless gameshow. He’d wager frivolously, punctuate his correct responses with nifty celebrations, and wisecrack with the often-serious Alex Trebek. He did it while displaying near-encyclopedic knowledge and, most importantly, winning. Again. And again. And again.

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Last Night at Bar Matchless, Now Closed After 15 Years

Patrons dancing on the bar, 1/9/17 at 3am. (Photo: Nick McManus)

Bar Matchless closed last night and it stayed crowded till the very end. All of hipsterdom from the realms of musicians, DJs, artists and those with 9-to-5 jobs came to celebrate what was for many the Ellis Island of Williamsburg. Owner Erik Green made a last call at 3:30am and it took another hour to empty the place out.

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Rainbow Bagel Creators Go Black-and-White For Time’s Up

Not long after everyone at the Golden Globes donned black to show support for the #TimesUp movement against sexual harassment, the pastries at The Bagel Store are following suit. The Williamsburg bagel shop, known for its viral and oft-imitated rainbow bagels, announced on Instagram today that it had released the duo-chromatic truffle-oil bagels “to honor the TimesUp Movement #weagree.”

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Is This ‘Free Vintage Mechanical Bull’ Just a Load of…?

When Colorado Cafe– the country-western saloon in the wilds of Wachtung, New Jersey– closed over the summer after more than two decades of honky tonkin’, we mourned the loss of its mechanical bull, Buck Off. Before places like Johnny Utah’s, Viva Toro, and the now defunct Mason Dixon opened, Buck Off was the closest mechanical bull to Manhattan. And even after those johnny-come-latelies opened, Buck Off retained a place in our heart, since he was the only mechanical bull you could ride while, on one side of you, old-timers in non-ironic cowboy hats line-danced White Horse Saloon-style, while on the other side Jersey bros downed Jell-O shots and fist pumped to a cover band playing Bruce and Bon Jovi.

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‘Party’s Over’ at Bar Matchless, Closing Tonight After 15 Years

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Bar Matchless, a Greenpoint venue so iconic that Hannah Hovath threw her 25th birthday party there on Girls, is closing tonight. The bar made the surprise announcement on Facebook today.

“We’re devastated to announce that tonight will be our last night at Bar Matchless. Please come by and celebrate the good times one last time,” reads the farewell message. “We could also use some help breaking down the bar tomorrow and Wednesday so if you’re around and can pitch in we’d love to have you.”

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Art This Week: Mourning Braiding and Cyber Warfare

Nene Humphrey (image courtesy of Lesley Heller Workspace)

Transmission
Opening Wednesday, January 10 at Lesley Heller Workspace, 6 pm to 8 pm. On view through February 18.

In the Victorian age, those who lost a loved one would enact an odd and intimate ritual known as mourning braiding. This practice consisted of braiding the actual hair of the deceased into a piece of jewelry. Artist Nene Humphrey is no stranger to incorporating mourning-centric behaviors into her work, and come Wednesday she will open a new exhibition at Lesley Heller Workspace on Orchard Street that combines the brain’s reaction to grief with this old-school hair ritual. The installation and “ritualized site of production” includes braiding stations featuring wire instead of hair and walls covered with weaved strands. Instead of actual people doing the braiding, the stations sit empty and projected videos show the plaits being constructed alongside similar-looking images of the brain. Keep Reading »

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There’ll Be a Rockaway Reunion in LIC, Tacos and All

A countdown clock on Tacoway Beach’s website indicates that, as I type this with frost-bitten fingers, there are 108 days, 22 hours, 18 minutes, and 52 seconds left until the Rockaway Beach taco shack reopens on the patio of Rockaway Beach Surf Club. That’s enough time to make the name of Rockaway Brewing Co.’s recently released double IPA seem all too accurate. Endless Winter indeed.

But wait! On Saturday, Jan. 27, the beer company will throw a “beach-themed bash,” Life’s a Beach, at its Long Island City taproom. For this sunny occasion, RBC is brewing some of the summertime beers, like Muscle Beach, that flow at the boardwalk concession stands and elsewhere in Rockaway. Best of all, Tacoway Beach– run by Andrew Field of Rockaway Taco– will be slinging its famed fish tacos.

There’ll also be photo booths, DJs, surfing movies, and prizes, so throw on that DEFEND ROCKAWAY t-shirt and get on out there. The beach bash goes from noon to 6pm on Jan. 27 at Rockaway Brewing Co., 46-01 5th Street, Long Island City. More info here.

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Photos From the Cold-Ass No Pants Subway Ride

(Photo: Scott Lynch)

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The temperature yesterday afternoon was squarely in the mid-teens, but the prospect of discomfort, goosebumps, and shrinkage couldn’t dissuade hundreds of people from getting on the subway at various locations around the city and promptly taking off their pants.

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Ibogaine Activist Dana Beal On His Arrest For Pot Trafficking: ‘I’m Just Trying to Complete My Mission’

Dana Beal during a protest at the Intrepid museum in 2016.

No way does long time marijuana activist Dana Beal come across like a blissed-out stoner. In fact, the New York yippie leader sounded briskly analytical and often combative yesterday when discussing his latest arrest for pot trafficking–this one on December 16 in Northern California’s cannabis-rich Golden Triangle. It happened after a state trooper with a drug-sniffing dog stopped his rental car in the small rural community of Hayfork. He and driver James Statzer of Michigan were charged with possessing 22 pounds of weed for sale, a misdemeanor, and attempting to transport it across the state border.

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‘Rest in Excitement’: Writer-Musician Rayya Elias Has Died, Says Partner Elizabeth Gilbert

East Village writer and musician Rayya Elias has died at 57, according to her partner, Eat Pray Love author Elizabeth Gilbert.

“I would tell you to rest in peace, but I know that you always found peace boring,” Gilbert wrote in a Facebook message. “May you rest in excitement.”

In 2016, Elias was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic and liver cancer. Gilbert confessed on Facebook that her close friend’s diagnosis had caused her to end her marriage, the subject of her book Committed, so she and Elias could live as partners. Gilbert “was faced with this truth: I do not merely love Rayya; I am in love with Rayya,” she wrote. “And I have no more time for denying that truth.”

In the introduction to Elias’s 2013 book, Harley Loco: A Memoir of Hard Living, Hair, and Post-Punk, From the Middle East to the Lower East Side, Gilbert wrote that Elias was “a rough diamond– a black-clothed, raspy-voiced, tattooed dropout of a soul, and she owned a motorcycle, and she kept pit bulls, and she was gay, and she was of Middle Eastern descent, and she’d grown up in Detroit, and she fucking loved the NFL, and she’d been to prison, and she called everyone ‘dude’ or ‘baby,’ and she was trying to clean up her life after years of heroin addiction and decades of an absolutely Byronic free fall into rock-and-roll abandon.”

Elias was born in Aleppo, Syria; she was seven when, amidst social upheaval in Syria, her family left for the Detroit area, where her father took up work as a janitor and her mother worked as a seamstress. “I was lost and confused, in emotional and cultural limbo,” she wrote in Harley Loco. By the end of eighth grade, she was getting high and listening to Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin. In the early ’80s, she moved to New York City, to a $245-a-month apartment on Mott Street, “to express my talent and sexuality without the watchful and judgmental eyes of my family and their community.” She found work as a hair stylist and art director and started doing drugs in earnest– she recalled snorting cocaine at the bar at Area, oblivious to the conversation that John Cage and Andy Warhol were having next to her.

As a self-described “East Village goth-wave performer,” Elias fronted a band called Rayya, but she squandered a potential record contract by slipping into a daily habit of using and hustling drugs. She brushed with the law when she held up an East Village drug dealer with a toy gun in 1988 and was eventually arrested for dealing. At Rikers Island, she earned the name Harley Loco after fending off a woman who has trying to take her Harley Davidson boots, and used her hairstyling talents to win over fellow inmates. From there, she spent some time in an East Village halfway house, the Women’s Prison Association, before moving to an SRO on East 3rd Street where she shared a bathroom with legendary dandy Quentin Crisp. She described getting clean in a newly gentrified East Village: “I felt that we had hit the depths of hell together, me and the Lower East Side, and now it was coming back, just like me.”

Elias’s memoir also describes how she came to terms with her sexuality. In 2013, when Elias was a guest at the B+B Newsroom, she said, “I think that’s the challenge in life, is to learn how to be human and to actually live in your own skin. But the city, man, was just like a carnival. It was like a circus and a carnival and I wanted to be the monkey in the show.”

Last year, Elias released an emotional music video for “Happy Home,” a song with lyrics written by Gilbert, about their relationship. You can watch it below.