Despite being one of the lone neighborhoods in Manhattan to preserve its heritage and verve, Chinatown sometimes seems unaware of its cultural cachet. Whether it’s because it has shunned the branding that raises rents or because of the anti-curb appeal of hanging carcasses and crates of seafood along the streets, the hood has maintained status as a lowkey downtown enclave for creatives and families alike.
At the same time, there’s been an uptick in uptown influence, most notably André Saraiva’s Café Hernie on Forsyth Street, as well as several boutique businesses. Despite the abundance of new options, local creatives Alberto Chapa and Riley Metcalf flock to Chinatown’s authenticity, specifically the place named the second most essential restaurant in New York by Eater.
In 2002, “Lurker” Lou Sarowsky moved to New York City with his longtime friend and fellow Cape Cod native Zered Bassett, into a now infamous, windowless apartment in Lower Manhattan. Sarowsky dubbed it the “Vicious Cycle” house, and his crew kept up a rigorous schedule of skateboarding all day and filming for Bassett’s indie-skate video of the same name, followed by nights of smoking, drinking, and playing pool.
Dollar slices, bodega sandwiches, and dumpling deals quickly become dietary stalwarts of any New Yorker on a budget, which is about 99 percent of us. The eternal quest for cheap eats isn’t just about saving cash– it doubles as a way to explore the city. For Josh Olley, Jarod Taber and Marki Becker, founders of Wash & Fold NYC, their favorite dumpling spot is also a creative salon, where they’ve hatched several ideas, including a curated show opening tonight at their local, North Dumpling in Chinatown. More →
While most rock bands go out of their way to convince you how cool their are on their social channels, trying to channel some mid-90s Oasis arrogance, Nothing has built its rapport with fans by being brutally honest and open. “It’s important to me to stay true to the piece of trash that actually I am,” leader Domenic Palermo says.
Champagne, bespoke pencils, custom soccer jerseys, and superfood shakes. None of these are items you’d typically find in Chinatown, but a two-block stretch on Forsyth Street, where CW Pencils opened earlier this year, is rapidly changing the feel of the neighborhood. A block from where Le Baron owner Andre Saraiva recently installed the Vogue-worthy Cafe Henrie, Saraiva’s doorman and fellow Frenchman Simonez Wolf is now serving organic coffee, superfood smoothies, juice and more — all with a futbol-themed flair.
Walking into a skate shop for the first time can be intimidating. Habitat pro Al Davis once likened the experience to walking into a neighborhood barbershop, where there are just as many people hanging out as actually getting lined up. Like record stores, these shops are more than just places to buy things — they’re enclaves for a community. Brooklyn’s newest skate shop is keeping that vibe alive, while offering new and vintage items cheaper than most websites.
Detail of The LB Project artwork by Michael Sieban. (Deckaid’s FB)
One of skateboarding’s biggest commercial booms was in the 1980s. With their robust royalty checks and penchant for partying, many of the big name vert riders of the decade were legitimate rock stars. Unlike today, it wasn’t the contest money or shoe contracts that beefed up their bank accounts, but monthly board sales royalty checks that often exceeded 10K (put that in the inflation calculator). Sure, kids were consuming these boards because Tony Hawk and Christian Hosoi were household names, but it was the actual board art that was the true marketing tool.
Once upon a time there were things called subcultures, that managed to thrive despite promotion through “social channels” or sponsorships from energy drinks. Since 1980, 156 Rivington Street has been a subculture enclave for activists, artists, counter culturists, and assorted noisemakers, providing a non-profit space to exchange ideas and physically interact. It’s not secret that the hardcore punk scene was once a magnet for such individuals, so when the storied matinee shows at CBGB became too violent in the late-’80s, punk turned off the Bowery to Rivington Street to ABC No Rio.
A line of skateboarders from their pre-teens to their 30s queued up this past Saturday, waiting up to an hour for “Professor” Paul Schmitt to saw their 9-ply rectangles of wood into custom skateboards. Hosted by Converse Cons at Chemistry Creative in Bushwick, Schmitt was part of a team that included Brooklyn-based designer Grotesk, and local pro skater Aaron Herrington, conducting a workshop titled, “Making & Designing Skate Decks,” as part of the Cons Project’s free community program.
While on sabbatical from the NYC winter in Puerto Rico and working on his latest “Illumignarly” video, NYC skateboarder and Samurai founder Billy Rohan received word that his 100 Gates Program had received a $30,000 grant from the Lower East Side Business Improvement District. A Chinatown resident and active neighborhood advocate, Rohan’s idea was to commission artists to decorate 100 roll-down gates connected to businesses in the LES.