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At Papilles, the Owners Are Younger Than Many of the Wines

(Photos courtesy of Papilles)

With his grown-out hair and trimmed beard, Andrea Calstier looks like many of the 20-somethings who come to the East Village to party. But that’s not what the 24-year-old chef and his 23-year-old wife, Elena Oliver, are here to do. Just a year after moving to New York City from France and seven months after getting married in a small ceremony, the young couple has opened an ambitious restaurant, Papilles, in a small nook on East 7th Street.

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Art This Week: Beach Bodies, Paintings, and Who Gets To Play

Nate Lewis (image via Fridman Gallery / Facebook)

Strange Beach
Opening Tuesday, July 24 at Fridman Gallery, 6 pm to 8 pm. On view through August 31.

Summertime is a time for going to the beach, but that’s not what this group exhibition at Fridman Gallery is about, despite the name. Rather, it’s a “metaphor for the body,” framing one’s physical form as a vessel of sorts that can advance, retreat, swallow up others, be intruded upon, amass debris and valuable items alike over time. Three artists comprise Strange Beach: Arghavan Khosravi, Nate Lewis, and Tajh Rust, who incorporate themes of race, social history, portraiture, and the marginalized retaking their own narratives, whether this be through drawing on photographs to create something celestial or painting portraits of people using their own skin tones to inform the color palette. Keep Reading »

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The Museum of Pizza Wants to Seduce You With Free Slices

The Museum of Pizza promises to have a “pizza beach” and “pizza cave” when it opens in the fall. In the meantime, how about a pizza rooftop?

The organizers of the much-ballyhooed immersive environment are taking over the rooftop of Hotel Chantelle, at 92 Ludlow Street, this Friday, July 27, and will be serving up freebies from the neighboring Williamsburg Pizza from 2pm to 5pm. Sure, there are plenty of places in town where you can score a slice for a mere 99 cents, but can you cram it down your throat al fresco, with a drink in your other hand?

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Don’t Miss These Beach Bashes in Coney and Rockaway

It’s not like you need a reason to hit the beach, but these two festivals offer extra incentive.

New York Women’s Surf Film Festival
July 27-29 at Rockaway Beach Surf Club (302 Beach 87th St.) and Rockaway Beach Bakery (87-10 Rockaway Beach Blvd.) in Rockaway Beach.
Surf’s up, dudettes! This popular fest celebrating women wave-riders enters its sixth year with free screenings, photo exhibits, and more. Among the films that’ll be screened in the groovy backyard of the Rockaway Beach Surf Club are a documentary about Brianna Cope, who became a competitive surfer despite a deformed hand, and Katie Walsh’s doc about star surfer Coco Ho. Walsh will be on hand to answer questions, as will Tiffany Manchester, author of Surfer Girls Kick Ass, and Fiona Mullen, whose surf photos will be on display. On Saturday from 1pm to 6pm, there’ll be a market at Rockaway Beach Bakery, with surf goods for sale, a complimentary beauty bar, and drinks, food, and music.

Coney Island Music Festival
Aug. 4, 1pm, at Surf and Stillwell Avenues, Coney Island.
Coney Island is no stranger to epic free music fests like Siren Festival and the Burger Beach Bash. This year, the Coney Island Music Festival carries the torch and returns for its second installment. Among the artists gracing the two stages–one outside of Nathan’s Famous and the other at the Coney Art Walls– is Shannon Shaw, who released a solo album last month (her fantastic, doowop-infused band Shannon and the Clams will be playing at Panorama on July 27 and Rough Trade on July 28.) Another festival fixture, Queens crooner Juan Wauters, will also be playing, as will Mac DeMarco openers The Garden. Headlining is (Sandy) Alex G, whose Elliott Smith-esque tunes have been described as “inventive guitar pop at its best, full of surreal storytelling and addictive melodies.” After his set, the party continues at the Coney Art Walls until 10pm.

And don’t forget… Rockaway’s Beach Flix series brings movie screenings straight to the sand. Next up on the inflatable big screen: Caddyshack on July 25, The Secret Life of Pets on Aug. 21, and Rogue One on Aug. 24. Follow the Rockaway Civic Association for exact showtimes, locations, and more announcements.

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Williamsburg Hotel Opens Rooftop Pool, Water-Tower Bar Coming Soon

(Courtesy of Williamsburg Hotel)

It’s been three and a half years since we first brought news that the Williamsburg Hotel would feature a rooftop bar inside of a faux water tower, and now we hear from the hotel that its crowning gem will begin welcoming customers in the “coming weeks.” (Have a look at its current state, below.) In the meantime, the hotel has opened a rooftop pool with Insta-worthy views of Manhattan.

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W.O.W. Project Shares Stories of Resilience in Chinatown Open Mic Night

(Photos: Tara Yarlagadda)

In a dull gray building on Chinatown’s historic Eldridge Street, attendees squeezed into a cramped elevator and made their way to the youth center and activist space Project Reach, where the Chinatown Storytelling Open Mic event was being hosted on this humid Thursday evening. Two of the event’s organizers, Diane Wong—a Cornell doctoral candidate and visiting scholar at NYU who writes on gentrification and race in Chinatowns—and Huiying B. Chan—an Open City Fellow with the Asian American Writers’ Workshop—served as emcees. They opened the night with a sober acknowledgment that “we are on stolen indigenous Lenape land” and asked the audience to silently reflect on what actions they could take to acknowledge their occupation of such a space. That gesture set the tone for last night’s open mic night, which was part of the series “Homeward Bound: Memories, Identity, and Resilience across the Chinese Diaspora.”

Organizers Wong, Chan and Mei Lum are all affiliated with the W.O.W. Project, which hosts the Homeward Bound series. Lum is a fifth-generation store owner of Wing on Wo & Co., which is a nearly century-old porcelain store and one of Chinatown’s oldest landmarks. The longstanding family business was on the brink of being sold in 2016, but out of those troubled times, Lum founded W.O.W. as a way to preserve Chinatown’s creative scene through art and activism, particularly in the wake of rapid gentrification. Wong, who interviewed Lum and her family as part of her dissertation research, has been involved with W.O.W. since its inception.

Eldridge Street in Chinatown

“I think it’s important to show that Chinatown is very much a thriving, inter-generational community. There is a dominant narrative that portrays the neighborhood as sort of obsolete and dying, and that really isn’t the case,” said Wong.

Other groups, such as the Chinatown Art Brigade, have also used art as a vehicle to mobilize around neighborhood gentrification, but W.O.W.’s focus on the diverse stories of the Chinese-American diaspora seemed to be a way not only to inform outsiders about issues facing the neighborhood, but also a way to fortify their own in the wake of rising xenophobia and to help community members of different generations in Chinatown better understand one another.

“I think it’s really important as people of color and a diaspora to share stories and connect across communities. Especially now with the political moment that we’re in,” said Lum.

Against a backdrop of youth-created art, “Resist Fascism” posters and sparkling Christmas lights, more than a dozen storytellers stepped up to the mic to deliver their stories in the form of spoken word, graphic art, photos and videos. Annie Tan, a teacher and organizer, kicked off the night with funny picture of a stern four-year old Tan in a firefighter costume—a presentation which quickly became more somber when she spoke of cultural trauma. “I cried all the time. I cried because I was a kid of immigrants in Chinatown.” But her story took an uplifting turn when she spoke of how she used her own experience to become an effective educator in a Chicago school with predominantly Hispanic population, such as teaching her pupils about how Jim Crow impacted Mexican-Americans. Although she recently moved back to Chinatown because she missed the tradition and language of her own diaspora community. “Now I get tamales AND milk tea AND pork buns!”

Organizer Mei Lum stands in front of a papercut art design by artist Emily Mock.

Writer Nancy Huang held up her book, from which she read the poem “Tooth Fairy,” which she recited with gusto, “Ma said ‘smile big/You’ll catch a boy.” She encouraged audience members to consider purchasing the book from vendors other than Amazon, given the recent strikes over the company’s poor working conditions. Married couple Rocky Chin and May Chen, stalwarts of the Chinatown activist community, recited oral histories of their respective stories, including Chin’s valiant but failed bid for City Council and Chen’s work with the Chinatown Garment Workers’ Union in the 1980s, which earned them hearty applause from the audience. Chin also posed his frustration with the simple question,“Where are you from?” which could be read as a coded way to question the American identity of people of color.

Members from other diaspora communities were also welcomed into the fold to share their stories. Mahfuzul Islam of Jhal NYC—a group linked to the Bangladeshi community in Queens that sells T-shirts emblazoned with fierce tiger designs—spoke about his work in bringing older Bengali women or “aunties” into spaces outside of their immediate diaspora community—like bowling alleys—that they might shy away from due to language constraints and other cultural barriers.

Later, first-generation immigrant, writer and translator Lux Chen reckoned with her graduate program’s inability to offer adequate support for her depression and evoked The Great Gatsby in her expectations clashing with the harsh reality of New York’s literary scene. Artist Clara Lu delighted the audience through her exploration of her family and pride in her culture vis-à-vis Lu’s illustrations of her late grandmother’s dishes like braised pork and bean sprouts. Midway through her presentation, Lu exclaimed, “Oh, I forgot to speak Shanghainese!” Lu went on to recite dishes in both English and the Shanghai dialect. And last but not least, Emily Mock played a poignant animated video of paper cut artwork she created depicting an elderly woman preparing vegetables for a soup in her Chinatown apartment.

Celebrating the W.O.W Project’s second anniversary was so much fun so glad to have seen some familiar faces and share my 古筝 (guzheng) performance with y’all. (Thinking abt making more livestreams or maybe a whole separate account for that???) The @wingonwoandco fundraiser is still going on! Help us reach $15K to continue supporting this “women-led iniative in sustaining ownership over Chinatown ‘s future by growing and protecting Chinatown ‘s culture through arts and activism.” Your donations will fund the continuation of public programing, the 店面 Residency @emiemmy and I were part of this past year, the wonderful fellow of Resist, Recycle, Regenerate, internships, and other wonderful programs that grow out of W.O.W. Check out the link in @wingonwoandco ‘s bio for their campaign and see some of the rewards for your donations Also these prints are up for sale now, DM me if you’d like to purchase . . . . #wingonwoandco #mottstreet #chinatown #fundraiser #illustrations #anniversary #prints #catprint #handdrawn #sketch #drawing #instaartist #instaart #dailysketch #sketchoftheday #dailydrawing #clayruhlettering #sketchoftheday #foodillustrations #homedeco #homeprints #artprints #clayruhlettering #艺术 #画画 #艺术品 #唐人街 #纽约 #oneofthem

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W.O.W. will be hosting an exhibit in the fall or winter, so stay tuned and check out their website for future updates or to donate to their fundraising campaign, which aims to raise $15,000 by the end of July.

Performers at the Open Mic Night pose for a group photo.

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Mini Doc Immerses You in the Theater Group That Made the Sleep No More of Brooklyn

Are you one of those people who always meant to go see one of the high-octane immersive-theater productions by Williamsburg-based Third Rail Projects, but never found the time, occasion or money to do so? You’re in luck. A documentary about the masterminds behind Then She Fell and The Grand Paradise is set to premiere on July 23 at the Dance on Camera festival, and will be available for digital download at the same time.

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Chicago Artist Embeds Trump in East Village, Gets the ‘Welcome to NY, Now Leave’ Treatment

(@jimbachor on Instagram)

In his hometown of Chicago, artist Jim Bachor is known for covering up unsightly potholes with mosaics depicting things people actually like: ice cream cones, flowers, donuts. So what was he doing in an East Village roadway on Friday afternoon, installing a marble-and-glass portrait of Donald Trump?

Rest assured, this was no respectful tribute. Bachor traveled to New York to do a Kickstarter-funded series entitled “Vermin of New York,” and Trump was the third installation right after a dead pigeon in Prospect Heights and a dead rat in Fort Greene.

“I say it’s less than two hours before someone puts a duce on it,” wrote one commenter after the work was unveiled on Instagram.

“I hate his face but at least cars are driving over it repeatedly,” wrote another.

Others predicted the piece would be destroyed by a Trump hater, but it seems to have met an altogether different fate. Earlier today when we looked for it on East 2nd Street, between First and A, the work had already disappeared, with just some tiny white shards left behind in the pothole it had covered. Another mosaic in the series– a cockroach on Bleecker Street– was also extracted, per an Instagram photo. 

Had the city made good on its promise to the New York Post that it would pave over the art? Asked whether the Department of Transportation had indeed covered up Trump’s mug, a DOT spokesperson gave a Huckabee-Sanders-esque response and told us, vaguely, that they anticipated repaving over the mosaics.

Bachor at work on the Trump mosaic (courtesy of the artist).

Bachor, who is now back in Chicago, says he has never gotten the bum rush like this in his hometown, where Chicagoist and Timeout have included his work on their lists of the city’s best public art. He claims he’s never received significant flack from cops or city workers. He did, however, get some gruff from a local doorman a little over a year ago, when he donned his trademark orange safety vest and, near Chicago’s Trump International Hotel & Tower, installed a gold-trimmed Russian flag bearing the word “LIAR.” Someone ended up blacking out the piece, but Bachor was able to restore it with some scraping.

That particular stunt cost Bachor some Instagram followers, but he wasn’t about to let that stop him from dissing Trump on his home turf. “I can’t believe this clown is leading the country,” he told us. “I can’t believe so many people are duped into buying his bullshit.”

Whatever the artist’s intentions, not everyone in the East Village was psyched about having Trump’s mug literally set in concrete. Bachor says that as he was installing the work over the course of about eight hours, one passerby “thought it was a pro-Trump thing and he was like, ‘Aw, you’re wasting your art on that guy.’”

The artist, who also sells in galleries, estimates his “Vermin of New York” pieces would go for about $1,200 a pop there. “I think removing them is just a little mean-spirited,” he told us.

Perhaps downright Trumpian?

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Dark Tourist Takes You Away to Messed-up-aritaville

In Kent Russell’s wild yarn, “The Disaster Tourist,” the gonzo journalist enlists the tour operator that was showing Otto Warmbier around North Korea when the doomed American was thrown in jail. With his fellow thrill-seekers, Russell embarks on a “profoundly stupid—nay, monumentally irresponsible” trip to Chechnya and the diplomatically unrecognized Republic of South Ossetia, conflict zones where Americans are definitely not supposed to go. Their goal: to “experience something so transformative that we just might return home an improved version of who we were when we left.”

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New Target Desperately Tries to Fit Into the East Village: Does It Hit the Mark?

(Photos: Tara Yarlagadda)

I had been caught in the pouring rain without an umbrella, and my shirt was soaked through like a wet dog on the night of the East Village Target’s soft opening. “This is a bad omen,” I muttered, the weather not improving my already lukewarm attitude toward the behemoth chain store right across from my home in the East Village. As a resident of 14th Street, I had walked by the 27,000-square-foot, two-floor Target at 500 East 14th Street nearly every day for the past year, spanning its early construction all the way up to its glitzy opening day. To confess: until yesterday, I– like many East Villagers— found the Target to be a mostly unwelcome eyesore and a reflection of the hyper-gentrification of the neighborhood. It didn’t help that one of my go-to Chinese food joints had been shuttered in 2017 in the same location. Sitting atop the Target are luxurious, $3,695-per-month apartment units.

As I peered into the store’s open windows and looked at the svelte mannequins sporting trendy summer dresses, I thought that it resembled something more akin to a Saks Off Fifth than the decidedly un-hip Targets of my suburban California childhood. But by the end of the store’s opening that night, I’d become mostly convinced that if a megastore must take over a corner of the East Village, it might as well be Target.

How did they convince me? Target plans to open up a new store on the Lower East Side in August and is coming to Kips Bay and Hell’s Kitchen next year. Part of the brand’s commercial success in metro New York may lie in its distinct appeal to the communities it serves. That’s evident from the moment you walk in the store and spot the pastel-pink mural designed by Vault49, which spans the length of the checkout area and references Avenue A and the Nuyorican community of the Village and LES. Or the kombucha in the grocery aisles and the sliced toasted coconut chips hanging near checkout, perhaps catering to the area’s millennial population.

A mural in homage to the East Village behind the Target checkout counter.

“When we think about going into a community, we spend a lot of time talking to guests and understanding what they would be looking for from Target,” said Target spokesperson Erin Conroy. “Making sure the store fits the flavor not just from an assortment perspective but from an aesthetic perspective as well.”

The East Village store’s team leader, Steve Dyba, echoed comments along a similar line. “I think we really have an opportunity to become the neighborhood store.”

Some might balk at the idea of Target becoming the “neighborhood” store in the once-burgeoning artists’ community. But gesturing towards a toy set which she intended to purchase for her grandchildren, Susan Stetzer, district manager for Community Board 3, said, “Where could I buy Harry Potter LEGO in our community? I can’t. I can’t. So I think people are excited about buying things that are no longer available in our community.”

I spoke with both Stetzer and Alysha Lewis-Coleman, chair of Community Board 3, near the first-floor produce section. Both were generally pleased with the new Target, which they said had been consulting with the community board prior to the store’s opening to hire local employees.

“Jobs are so needed and so scarce right now. I’m just happy they created another job source for families and young people in this area,” said Coleman. She added, “They wanted to do right by the community.”

A Target employee adjusts an item of clothing.

Over the course of the night, I did, however, learn that not all store employees were from the area. Not including senior Target team leaders or communications officials, I spoke to two of the store’s 110 employees. Neither of them lived in the East Village. Many employees who were not from the area seemed to be part of the extended Target family, such as Teresa G., a lively young woman who had been promoted from her previous station in Queens to oversee home goods and other items here in the East Village.

The star of last night’s show was the iconic English bull terrier and Target mascot Bullseye. I wondered how they had managed to paint the Target emblem—a bullseye, of course—around the pooch’s eye. I then decided better of it. Attendees gleefully posed for photos with the terrier, who was perched atop his own pedestal.

Employees pose for a picture with the Target mascot.

Following that, attendees sipped red wine, chowed down on mini Korean BBQ tacos being passed around by servers, and explored the store’s wares, which included an array of women’s wear and reasonably-priced produce on the first floor, as well as apparel and home goods—including a Target-owned men’s clothing brand and candles affixed with the image of Jesus Christ—on the lower level. The odd, but somehow fitting assortment of items made me think that while this Target would never become a beloved neighborhood fixture, it was going to do just fine. Maybe I would even stop by and pick up some of their $2.99 mini watermelons to make a summer slushie. But as I left, I frowned, asking myself, “Am I a sellout? Or just adjusting to the changing reality of the East Village?”

The East Village Target is located at 500 E 14th St.  The store launched for its soft opening yesterday. Its grand opening will take place on July 21.