Lower East Side

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New LES Cacti Store Meets All Your Cactus Needs

A cult LA cacti store now has a location in New York — at least for the season. So, while the sun shines, check out Cactus Store’s Lower East Side popup site and admire its collection of exotic cacti — which run anywhere from $30 to $4,000, if you’re interested in taking one home and making it your own.

Most of the cacti on display are rare, including a few that are part of a private collection and not for sale. All the plants were shipped from California, but drawn from across the world, especially South America and the American southwest. “True cacti,” as distinguished from related flora, are always from the New World, explained manager Han Wang.

Cactus Store’s collection includes several “mutations” — cacti that have grown into strange shapes — and “grafts,” where two plants fuse together and one plant draws its water and nutrients from the other.

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Lawsuit: Owner of Will Ferrell Theme Bar Should Stay Classy and Pay Back $120K

It’s a story worthy of five-time Emmy-Award-winning anchor Ron Burgundy and Tits McGee. An investor who teamed up with the owners of Will Ferrell-themed bar Stay Classy New York claims he’s owed $120,000. By the beard of Zeus!

In a lawsuit filed Wednesday, Michael Galkovich alleges that the owners of the Lower East Side bar, Zachary Hosier and Brian Link, agreed to make him a managing partner and a 70-percent owner of the bar’s parent company if he paid them $120,000 and won approval from the State Liquor Authority. Galkovich put in $60,000 up front, but he never got the chance to become an owner, the suit alleges.

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‘Catholic Anarchist’ Dorothy Day Returns to the East Village Via an Art Show

Dorothy Day sculpture. (Photos: Oliver Conroy)

“We need to change the system. We need to overthrow, not the government, as the authorities are always accusing the Communists [of conspiring to do], but this rotten, decadent, putrid industrial capitalist system which breeds such suffering in the whited sepulcher of New York.”

So spoke Dorothy Day – “Catholic anarchist” and founder of the radical Catholic Worker, still published seven times a year at Maryhouse in the East Village. Day, an activist and writer who became the godmother of the religious-left “Catholic worker” movement, died in 1980, but her legacy lives on in the form of the East 3rd Street soup kitchen she founded to minister to the poor and homeless of the East Village and Lower East Side.

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$13 Million Synagogue Sale Threatened by Power Struggle of Biblical Proportions

The Home of the Sages property on Bialystoker Place. Photograph: J. Oliver Conroy.

A new lawsuit is only the latest sign of an epic power struggle within the Home of the Sages of Israel, a tiny Lower East Side synagogue. The house of worship’s nondescript and rundown building on Bialystoker Place has become the subject of a ferocious real estate battle between different factions, each claiming to be the synagogue’s lawful representative.

In a suit filed two weeks ago – only the latest in a mounting pile of litigation – members of the Orthodox Jewish synagogue’s small congregation allege that Rabbi Samuel Aschkenazi, “who despite his title, is not the rabbi for Home of the Sages,” is attempting to sell the property out from under them to real estate developer Peter Fine – and then split the $13 million profit with Friends of Mosdot Goor, a Gerer Hasidic group unconnected to the synagogue.

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Prince and the Bard Are Taking Over City Parks

Shakespeare in the Parking Lot 2016: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (© Lee Wexler)

Cinephiles have plenty of excuses to spend the summer in city parks, starting with Films On The Green and Movies Under The Stars. But if you’ve sworn off going to the movies in favor of #Netflixandchill, there are plenty of other excuses to enjoy our public greenery, starting with the following free events dedicated to The Artist and The Bard.

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How Rahi Makes Two of Its Buzziest ‘Artisanal Indian’ Dishes

Rahi, a word meaning “traveler,” is the name of an upscale Indian restaurant that opened two weeks ago in the West Village. Its menu adapts locally sourced produce to explore the lesser known flavors and dishes from the Indian subcontinent. B+B sat down with owner Roni Mazumdar and chef Chintan Pandya to understand how the restaurant drills deeper into the cuisine, instead of resorting to fusion. Plus, Chef Pandya serves up two popular dishes from the menu: Banana Leaf Chicken and Inked Crab.

Rahi, open 5-11 pm, 60 Greenwich Ave

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A Streepshow, a Neutral Milk Hotelier, and More Performance Picks

THURSDAY

Paul Alexander by Valentin Xtravaganza (via Howl Happening / Facebook)

Inside Out Upside Down
Thursday, June 1 at C’mon Everybody, 8 pm: FREE

Movement Research shows typically happen in places formally designated for performance, where people gather in chairs and observe dance pieces and exit when they are done. Tonight, they’re switching it up. As part of their annual Spring Festival, curated by Laurie Berg, Monstah Black, and Amy Khoshbin, dancers and movers and beyond will be congregating at Bed-Stuy bar C’mon Everybody. There, the night will shift in between performance and party, as a variety of movement artists, DJs, MCs and more explore the question: “What is the role of the club in activating a community and creating a cross-cultural blend?”

The night’s performers include Richard Kennedy, Tendayi Kuumba, and Larissa Velez-Jackson of the group Yackez. In addition to dancers and DJ sets, there will also be a special MC workshop led by producers from “nightclub hybrid” Jackie 60.

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New Law Would Crack Down on Tenant Harassment, Put Slumlords in Jail

Renters, rejoice!

A new bill meant to hold New York landlords criminally accountable for harassing tenants was introduced today by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

It’s no secret that some landlords are less than easy to deal with. Because of high population and demand, New York City is a landlord’s playground. As a result, tenants are sometimes taken advantage of and suffer in shoddy living conditions.

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Rikers As Seen By A Former C.O., Superstar Creators, and More Art Openings

(image via The Living Gallery / Facebook)

Behind These Prison Walls
Opening Monday, May 22 at The Living Gallery, 7 pm to 9 pm. One night only.

This one-night-only exhibition will be showcasing the work of Lorenzo Steele Jr., a visual artist who formerly served as a corrections officer at Rikers Island. As we’ve outlined in the past, conditions at Rikers could be described as “dismal,” if you’re into understatements. This holds particularly true for its younger residents, as New York state still charges 16 and 17-year-olds as adults, one of only two states to do so. This will soon change due to the recent passing of the Raise the Age initiative; individuals under 17 will no longer be held in county jails as of October 2018 (18-year-olds, too, starting a year later) and the “majority” of defendants aged 16 and 17 will be dealt with in Family Court rather than tried as adults.

Lorenzo Steele Jr. knows this particular plight all-too well, as the majority of his photographic documentation (taken from 1987-1999) chronicles the grim conditions to which inmates at Rikers have been subjected. Specifically, his work zeroes in on the adolescent jail and its solitary confinement unit. These images will be displayed alongside found weapons and other prison-sourced artifacts. Even as we spend our days lamenting the state of politics and Russia and the world, it is important to remind ourselves that there are also local travesties still happening around us, and it wasn’t the new administration that put them there. Keep Reading »

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50 Years Ago: The Summer of Love Brings Pot, Protests and Psychedelic Rock to the East Village

Tompkins Square Park
(Photo: James Jowers)

“As the hour grew late and working people around Tompkins Square Park began turning out the lights on Memorial Day 1967, police asked several hundred music lovers to turn down the volume of a guitar-and-bongo concert in the park,” reported the New York Daily News. “The crowd’s reply … was a barrage of bottles, bricks and fists that left seven officers injured.

“And thus began the Summer of Love.”

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Light-Soaked Galleries, Meditative Street Ads, and More Art Exhibitions

(image via Foley Gallery)

Subtext II: Meditations
Opening Wednesday, May 17 at Foley Gallery, 6 pm to 8 pm. On view through June 25.

I would remark on the humor inherent in exhibiting artist Wyatt Gallery’s name, who is indeed showing artwork in a gallery, but it seems he’s already got that covered. As soon as you visit his website, the very large and very green phrase “a person, not a place” is followed, literally, by a trademark symbol. So, guys… he gets it.

For this show, Gallery is displaying a series of works using foundational material quite truly ripped off of the city streets, in that they are portions of the endlessly-stacked-and-glued mountains that are NYC street advertising and flyering. He transformed these found object compilations into “UV cured photographic plates,” making them even more abstract in the process. Interestingly, Gallery sees these dirty, aged poster creations as relevant to his practice of mindfulness and meditation. So next time you’re saddled with a 20-minute train wait, maybe you should try deep breathing while staring at the many advertisements on the walls. Perhaps inner peace will crawl out from in between the pages.

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Four Shows: Syrian Wedding Singer’s Wartime Serenades, Punk is (Sorta) Dead, and Cat Power (No, Really)

(Image via TicketWeb/ Facebook)

Vulture Fest: Cat Power, Frankie Cosmos
Saturday May 20, 7 pm at Webster Hall: $40 to $45

This one’s at the top of our list because, well, Cat Power.

Lucky for you, Vulture Festival managed to do the impossible and book a last-minute gig with the ever elusive, certifiably brilliant Chan Marshall– which is just kind of how things go with her. In case you have lost track: she hasn’t appeared on stage in five years.

It kinda goes without saying, but Marshall has had a stellar career releasing albums as Cat Power. Our sister site, Vulture, writes that “Marshall is still one of our most vital songwriters, and each time she gets onstage is a unique, unexpected, and moving experience.”

But, for a time at least, she was notorious for lashing out at the audience (often justifiably– sorry, not sorry), walking off in the middle of her set, and generally having what the music media machine love to characterize as “breakdowns.” Mind you, the term seems to be reserved especially for women artists when they get particularly emotional, or even just confrontational on stage. (I guess rock star dude bros can have “breakdowns” too, but they usually involve rehab, or perhaps a reality TV show that documents a clinical inability to remove one’s headscarf.) When musicians of the male variety have tizzies on stage we just call it “shredding” or “Kanye.”

Cat Power’s last official tour–to promote Sun, which dropped way back in 2012–was predictably bumpy. Still, if it was easy to frame the drama as a result of “instability” or as a sign of burnout, it was impossible to square her recorded music with such a narrative. Pitchfork pointed out that Sun– Cat Power’s first to “feature synthesizers, Auto-Tune, and Iggy Pop” released nearly two decades after her debut– was the work of an artist at her creative peak, and “[existed] completely and defiantly outside of any larger musical trends.” What’s more, it was Marshall’s mercurial sensibilities that made Sun so magnetic and addictive in the first place.

So why would we expect anything other than an emotional hurricane from Cat Power’s live performances? (Personally, I’m gonna stick this one in the ol’ virgin/slut file, along with all the other contradictory roles we expect women to fulfill simultaneously.)

Let’s be clear: Marshall is older and wiser now, and it’s been years since she has relied on her potent stage juice (Xanax, cigarettes, and “a minibar’s worth of Jack Daniel’s, Glenlivet and Crown Royal”) to get things going. But (while we hope to see a full set from her) we fully encourage her to let it all out– and if that means starting a fire and burning the whole stage down with her, then we trust that she knows what she’s doing.


(Flyer via Trans-Pecos/Facebook)

Weed, Bugg, RIPS, Silk Sign
Friday May 12, 8 pm at Trans-Pecos: $8 in advance, $10 at the door

If you’re a cynical jerk like me, then you might also be immediately suspicious of a band named Weed (in town from Vancouver, BC)–  like, if Urban Outfitters had the keys to the record label castle and were given full reign to manufacture some Frankenstein-like on-brand band, it would most certainly be called “Weed.” I can see it now, an album cover adorned with pizza slices, alien faces, ying-yangs, and of course pot leaves, all sloppy-like as if sketched by a fifth grader hopped up on Hi-Chew and Mountain-Dew Slurpees. This “band” would sound like an aughts-does-the-’90s version of Sum-41 and would play shows at the (now-defunct) rooftop restaurant at the UO “concept store” in Williamsburg. In short, total barf fest.

Thankfully, Weed are not at all as I feared them to be. Instead they embody ganja in its realest, unmarketable form– as skater fuel, spiritual inspiration, and the stuff you ingest to make you slow down and, like, wonder about the universe for a moment. Sonically, that translates as sorta shoegazey (but not in any serious sense) stoner rock with a whole lotta reverb.


(Flyer via Silent Barn/ Facebook)

Street Eaters, HVAC, Boys Online, Salty
Tuesday May 9, 8 pm at The Silent Barn: $8

You know that rumor that’s been going around for a while now? Something about how “punk is dead.” Come to think of it, seems like this has kinda always been the case. Prepare to have your mind blown, but consider the possibility that maybe this debate has been on the table since the dawn of friggin’ time. Hear me out: clearly “punk”–as a state of mind–existed long before The Velvet Underground and The Stooges and all that, even since the dawn of time. Shakespeare was kind of a punk (in fact, he was waaaay ahead of the curve when he used the term way back in 1602). And Sappho, well she was about as punk as anyone could hope to be when she was writing poetry circa 570 BC.

Given that punk (ideally, anyway) is youthful, rebellious, and against the status-quo, it’s only natural that questions about its continuing relevance are about as common as punk manifestos. It’s hard to admit, but in a lot of ways– looking around the NYC scene especially– punk, when considering its most visible forms and “successful” bands (lol whatever that means), still suffers from hyper-masculine, misogynist tendencies. Yes, still. Which, needless to say, has not only gotten old, but has been old– like, forever.

You might think that’s sort of sad, since right now especially (given the awfully depressing circumstances of our most horrifying present) we should all be going to more punk shows. It is, if you’re going to the same old shows, headlined by the same old bands. But there’s an easy fix: support the bands that are not zombie relics of another era– bands that include women, queer and trans musicians, people of color, Muslims, Jews, everyone, everyone. If you even need reason, you will be rewarded not only with a fresh-feeling scene, but excellent sounds that remind you why you started listening to punk in the first place.




(Flyer via World Music Institute)

Omar Souleyman
Thursday May 11, 7 pm at Le Poisson Rouge: $30

The war in Syria has gone on for so long that many of us here in the West have grown numb to it– which might sound callous, but it’s difficult to avoid mainly because the narrative has been dominated by chaotic battlefield reports and gruesome images of the violence inflicted by Assad on his own people, including children and civilians in general. The only way to avoid going completely insane over such horror is to keep a safe distance.

But this can’t go on forever– and slowly, we’re starting to receive dispatches that are more human: personal accounts by the people who have actually been there. Art is an especially useful way to reach people, and more importantly move them.

Enter Omar Souleyman, an unlikely rock star who “began his career as a prolific wedding singer” in Syria, “releasing nearly 500 live albums before civil war broke out” in 2011. His life, like many more, was upended in profound ways, but he continued making music even after leaving his home in Al-Jazira (a region in Syria’s northwest) for Turkey, which took on a whole new depth. Now, the West is listening to Souleyman, whose sounds and heartfelt lyrics give listeners no choice but to reckon with reality.

On To Syria, With Love, the album Omar will release on June 2, he sings: “It’s been six years I’ve been away, and I’m tired of looking for home and asking about my loved ones. My soul is wounded and it’s like having dust in my eyes. We are in exile, and our nights are long. Our homeland is our only comfort. Life caused us so much pain—our wounds are too many and every wound calls out, ‘We miss Al-Jazira.’”

Correction: The original version of this post was revised to correct the release date of “To Syria, With Love.”