Memorial Weekend Recap: How to Do Summer in the City

This weekend was spent walking dogs, DJing, and watching war movies — 3 of my 5 favorite things. As the city emptied out, those who are not inclined to wallow in traffic and party like it’s 1999 enjoyed the relative quiet. Clubs in NYC were quiet as well, with many joints closing, and others pared down to skeletal staffs. With almost every real DJ cashing in out of town, guys like me had a chance. On Thursday, I opened for my friend Paul Sevigny at the roof garden of the glorious Hudson Hotel.

I left Paul with an upbeat track and he surprised me (and everyone) by turning to Mambo and assorted tracks often associated with the Riviera. Think: The Talented Mr Ripley. It was amazing, and the crowd went with it completely. Paul always surprises, and he always pulls it off. I took his lead and played soul and such for Stuart Bronstein and Ronnie Rivilini’s Canal Room art soiree on Sunday. A very hip crowd gathered to catch the bands, see the art from various geniuses, and listen to the DJs that followed me.There were things going on this weekend because experienced operators created something out of nothing.

One of the old war movies I caught was Oscar winner Patton. In a scene where the rowdy General is mustering his army to counter a German surprise assault at the Battle of the Bulge, Patton remarked that this is the time when all the hard work and training pays off. He would march his men for days in the worst winter in memory to win the day. As most joints lay fallow this weekend, I found out that Marquee had done great. Their Friday was banging and their Saturday just a little off. I texted co-owner/operator Noah Tepperberg, who told me Rocco Anacarola’s Sunday party at Lavo NYC was slammed, and that his Vegas joints were “like nothing he’d ever seen.” Indeed, weekends like this is where the experience kicks in. With a city and suburbs of 20 million + people, a zillion tourists visiting, and ships filled with sailors, there was no reason to be empty. I went to see The Hangover 2 and every show was sold out. I visited a couple of parks in Brooklyn and Central Park and they were jammed with young people who would make fine customers if only operators and promoters knew how to reach and entertain them. I always knew how, and although I was a little slower on Fridays and Saturdays, I was always OK. My Sundays were always banging and made up for any and all loss of revenues. I worked hard for my money.

What I saw in clubland this weekend was disgraceful emptiness due mostly to laziness and inexperience. The club scene is bloated with operators who basically fell into their roles as hundreds of small places replaced the mega clubs. Every nook and cranny now vies for a crowd of scenesters and hipsters, and it is indeed easy pickings until they have to perform outside the normal routine. Places like Marquee have spent years establishing a brand which, of course, is exported to Vegas for huge pay days/years. The myriad of non-branded places fail to open elsewhere and die on 3-day weekends. The tourists and New Yorkers in town this weekend knew that Marquee and a handful of other places would be fun and the quality of the music and staff would guarantee a good time. Marquee in New York may not be what it was 8, or even 5 years ago but it still makes loot and has a hundred million dollars worth of Vegas branding keeping it potent and potentially relevant again. Branding pays dividends. Most places can only stay viable for a year or 3, as most operators are functioning using systems they learned from other players. These systems often become irrelevant or just dead wrong or useless in time. The real players have learned to evolve and evolve their methods.

On another note, an operator asked me what I thought about letting sailors in to there joints as Fleet Week brought in thousands of these fellows. I sternly replied ‘let them in.’ I can’t imagine why anyone would keep them out— unless they were drunk or acting disorderly. On what grounds legal or moral can they be denied entry? If they’re old enough, that is (many are not). They are certainly dressed, and are deserving of the respect of the club community, especially considering the times and Memorial Day.

One With the Force: Stuart Braunstein on Collective Hardware

The wait for the “Collective Hardware” follow-up at the space below Greenhouse has hit a snag. Curators Stuart Braunstein and Rony Rivellini promised shock and awe, and all we have now is “awww.” It isn’t actually going to happen? It still might, I am told, but extensive delays with permitting have our heroes looking elsewhere for creative fulfillment. I asked Stuart what was up.

With the permitting delays for the space under Greenhouse, what are you working on? The delay has been extremely frustrating for everyone involved. It’s just the New York way, the “hurry up and wait.” I’m confident it will all workout in the end. We definitely plan to do something special, a great platform for the arts. Next on tap is this pop up concept we’ve named, tongue firmly in cheek, “Popped.” It’s basically a reaction to the boredom we feel about the nightlife scene these days. I hope the crowd will appreciate the effort to do something special and, as always, overtly original. Much of our time has been focused on the production of the film, Don Peyote. Don Peyote chronicles the aftermath of one man’s (Dan Fogler) comedic apocalyptic dream, and subsequent synchronicity-filled search for answers as he goes down the rabbit hole of 2012 mythology. During the course of Don’s journey there are surprising cameos by Daniel Pinchbeck, Jay Baruchel, Anne Hathaway, Joe Coleman, Anthony Haden Guest, Billy Leroy, Dean Winters and others. It’s been a great ride, Many artist from the Collective Hardware days have helped to build sets and give the film its soul. On Monday the 23rd, we will be doing a short presentation/screening to raise more funds to continue this passion project that Dan Fogler, Michael Canzoniero, and I have been working on since Collective Hardware. It’s all that’s left from that time.

So I hear you’ve landed in the old Canal Room space. Tell me about the first event? The first event is Sunday May 22nd. I’m still putting together the roster of artists, musicians and DJ’s. But I promise you, it will be amazing! We got a high water mark to reach, considering we haven’t done anything public since the closing of CH almost exactly a year ago. We are extremely fortunate to have a corporate sponsor, XL energy drink is throwing down for the cause. Some more info: Kick-off party for artists, galleries, collectors, art/fashion/film/society and title sponsor guests. Weekly Sunday events featuring a crowd of the Art, Music, & Tastemakers of the Downtown NYC culture. Weekly Mondays are events featuring movie screenings & intellectual interludes with Daniel Pinchbeck, Anthony Haden Guest, and others followed by music after-party. Artist/Hustlers include: Pork, Spam, Gaia, Ezo, Kimyon Huggins, Scott Alger, Ellis Gallagher, Lisa Melezik, Peter Makebish, and Dominick Leon DeFelippo. More are signing on everyday.

How did you get into the space? What’s been going on there? Everything old is new again. I opened the place well over a decade ago as Shine. Those old enough to remember would say it certainly held its own, and has its place in NYC lore. Rony and I have been working on a pop-up cultural concept that will combine aspects of the movie, as well as artists and musicians we have been working with. Canal Room just came to me in one of those “ah-ha’ moments. They have been operating as great corporate event space, and hosting a couple of regular gigs on the weekend. It seemed like the perfect fit. Marcus Linial and Sam Lott (owners of Canal Room) are family, They are also probably the only ones crazy enough to play with me these days. What have you learned from the Collective experience, and what won’t you do this time? What will you be doing more of? I think we learned that anything is possible, but you have to balance the dream with the practical world. During one of the darkest economic periods NYC has seen we were able to conjure some real magic with no funding—just sheer will and vision. We will, no doubt, be bringing all of that with us to all future projects. We will be much more diligent in securing financial backing to make it practical.That’s just the world in which we live.

At one point, you, Rony, and Collective were the Obi Wan Kenobi’s of the scene—our only hope. These days the scene is more vibrant. Did Collective lead the way out of the darkness, and will this be anti-climatic, or a new revelation and path? Last week the New Museum outdoor art instillation made me wish we still had the building. I guess CH was just a bit ahead of its time. We will never be able to do that again. It was its own thing, it gave me knowledge that was priceless. Nothing was harder to pull off than that was, anything else down the road will be a walk in the park. Whatever comes next will be it’s own thing, I only compete against myself, so I’m just trying to keep it fresh—like any other Mad Scientist. The best is yet to come. Trust the power of the force.

BlackBook Staff Picks: Dining, Drinking, Shopping, & Staying

Here at BlackBook, we pay a lot of attention to where cool customers go out — bars, clubs, restaurants, shops, hotels, you name it. So why not flip the frame and let you see where we go out? Here’s a periodically updated, exhaustive list of hotspots currently favored by everyone at BlackBook, from the mighty bosses down to the humble interns, from the charming local lounges around the corner to the jet-setting temples of luxe living. ● Creative Director – Jason Daniels, The Odeon (NYC) -American Psychos down salmon and steak frites, but the real scene’s on the sidewalk. ● Vice President, Content – Chris Mohney, Agua Dulce (NYC) – Festive outpost feels like Miami, F-L-A.

EDITORIAL ● Senior Editor – Nick Haramis, Motor City Bar (NYC) – Front like you remember how to drive and these 8 Milers might let you hang. ● Features Editor – Willa Paskin, Mayahuel (NYC) – Tequila temple where patrons pay homage to the goddess of agave. ● Writer-at-Large – Alison Powell, Peppermill (Las Vegas) – Vegas institution pushes diner food in front and romantic cocktails in the back. ● Nightlife Correspondent – Steve Lewis, Serpentine (NYC) – Patrick Duffy’s legendary scene uncoils in west Chelsea. ● Assistant Editors – Ben Barna, Jupiter Room (Montreal) – Drink your face off for cheap and dance ’til it aches. Cayte Grieve, Blackstones (NYC) – Foster Ethan Kamer, Joseph Leonard (NYC) – Elegantly distressed Village charmer serving up three solid meals a day. Eiseley Tauginas, Barrow Street Ale House (NYC) – College sports fans and West Village regulars cram into cozy confines. ● Copy Editor – Michèle Filon, Back Forty (NYC) – Manure-free urban farm sates virtuous, albeit rare, healthy food cravings. ● Editorial Interns – Molly Gunn, PDT (NYC) – Somebody told, but still a nice sophisto surprise behind the grunge of Crif. Megan LaBruna, Mercury Lounge (NYC) – Catch a future indie rock god at this rite of musical passage. Toren Curtis, The Vagabond (Miami) – Great indie scene. Even better music. Ashley Simpson, SPiN New York (NYC) – Marginally-more-athletic alternative to beer pong gets its own private club. Averie Timm, Downtown Cipriani (NYC) – Über-scene congregation of A-list supermodels, art stars, and financiers. Food, too. If you care. Annie Werner, Antone’s (Austin) – This revered blues club’s namesake did more for black-white relations than the Oreo cookie. Hillary Weston, The Four-Faced Liar (NYC) – Greenwich Village-proper pub is something out of Middle Earth, or Docklands. Either way: the real deal.

ART ● Art Director – Amy Steinhauser, Mizu Sushi (NYC) – Popular lunch spot for Flatiron media types needing to bitch. ● Assistant Designer – Serra Semi, Momofuku Ssäm Bar (NYC) – Chef-of-the-minute David Chang fancies up Korean burritos and gets avant-garde after 6pm. ● Photography Assistant – Stephanie Swanicke, Canal Room (NYC) – Jersey hordes in the house, but discreet famous faces still rock all night. ● Freelance Designer – Krista Quick, t.b.d (NYC) – Sleek and chic lounge in the heart of Greenpoint.

FASHION & BEAUTY ● Market Editor – Bryan Levandowski, Shang (NYC) – Toronto-bred Susur Lee takes on nouveau Asian small plates at the Thompson LES. ● Fashion Assistant – Wilson Mathews III, Dylan’s Candy Bar (NYC) – King-sized candy shop hypnotizing children and torturing adult waistlines in the UES.

BLACKBOOK MEDIA CORP ● Chairman – Bob Hoff, Voyeur (LA) – The inspiration is Eyes Wide Shut…so yes, there’s lots of leather. ● CEO – Ari Horowitz, Nikki Beach (St. Barts) – An escape into paradise in the middle of, well, paradise. ● Associate Publisher – Brett Wagner, Barrio Chino (NYC) – Chino Latino tequila bar serving up 50 kinds of that devil stuff. ● Director of Finance and Operations – Joe Friedman, Brooklyn Bowl (NYC) – Rock and bowl will never die. ● Corporate Counsel – Drew Patrick, Tournesol (NYC) – Coq au vin and crème brûlée? Oui! Oui! ● Executive Assistant – Bridgette Bek, Tu Lan (San Francisco) – Word-of-mouth dingy treasure serving good, cheap Vietnamese food in a downright crappy location.

ADVERTISING – ● Senior Account Executive – Dina Matar, Ilili (NYC) – Upscale Lebanese moves miles beyond falafel. ● Account Executive – Brian Kantor, Lillie’s (NYC) – Victorian pub with just enough antiquery to make you feel grand. ● Executive Director, BlackBook Access – Gregg Berger, Indochine (NYC) – French-colonial greets uptown-cum-downtown diners. ● Advertising Director – Michelle Koruda, Shorty’s .32 (NYC) – Josh Eden under-promises and over-delivers at this Soho charmer. ● Detroit Account Executives – Jeff Hannigan, The Lodge (Chicago) -Ye old typical Division Street cheese, but always a shameless good time. Kristen von Bernthal, Hudson Bar at Hudson Hotel (NYC) – Acid-trip décor. Sit on a log and rest your drink on a gnome head. ● Midwest Account Executives – Susan Welter, Hopleaf Bar (Chicago) – Andersonville’s best bar. Belgian beers and food meet in a place that’s too smart to be too cool and vice versa. Andrea Forrester, Coast Sushi (Chicago) – BYOB meets the sea at this high-quality Wicker Park sushi spot. ● Southwest Account Executive – Molly Ballantine, Rustic Canyon (LA) – Leave it to the upper-cresty West-siders to show everyone else up with their moody, fashionable darkwood and cream take on the ubiquitous neighborhood wine bar. ● Northwest Account Executives – Catherine Hurley, Coi (San Francisco) – The apotheosis of both the molecular gastronomy trend and the sustainable food movement: ethereal, futuristic flavors in a serene environment. Shawn O’Meara, Nopalito (San Francisco) – ● Sales Coordinator – Celia Ballou, Pink Pony (NYC) – Pseudo-bohemian bistro that’s better for people watching than, like, eating or whatever.

MARKETING ● Marketing Manager – Julie Fabricant, Bottega Louie (LA) – Proof that Downtown is still gentrifying. ● Partnerships & Promotions Manager – Andrew Berman, K & M (NYC) – Former perogie factor converted to current meat market for the indie-rock set. ● Interns – Cristina Girgis, Barbounia (NYC) – Tony Medi with good bones. Interior is all about the arches. Alexandra Vickers, The Slaughtered Lamb Pub (NYC) – Magical enough to overlook the horror movie gimmick.

DIGITAL ● Director of Development – Daniel Murphy, Max’s On Broadway (Baltimore) – Ahhh, good old Max’s I remember you well…well what I can remember anyway. ● Lead Architect – Matt Hackett, Caracas Arepa Bar (NYC) – Arepas, seventeen ways. Venezuela is for carb lovers. ● Developer – Bastian Kuberek, Greenhouse (NYC) – NYC’s first Green club tries to make bottles and models sustainable. ● Developer – Dan Simon, Hudson Terrace (NYC) – Rooftop pleaser for drunk summer afternoons. ● Designer – Matt Strmiska, Uchi (Austin) – Thoroughly inventive and delectable sushi in vibrant environs, compliments of lauded chef Tyson Cole. ● Developer – Sam Withrow, The Knockout (San Francisco) – The vibe is blessedly lawless,prolifically musical and down right hedonistic. Peep tall cans and a sweaty dance floor. ● Quality Assurance Engineer – Sunde Johnson, Melt (NYC) – Brooklyn brunch spot becoming the standard for neighborhood dining. ●Mobile Developer – Otto Toth, Alloro (NYC) – Cacio e Pepe peeps get creative on the Upper East.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS: Bob Hoff, Voyeur (LA). Ari Horowitz, Nikki Beach (St. Barts). Eric Gertler, Matsuhisa (Aspen) – World-famous Nobu chef brings incredibly tasty, stylish, pricy sushi to Aspen. Joe Landry, SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills (LA) – Phillipe Starck and Sam Nazarian mind meld to create a papparazzi-inducing modern luxury hotel in (well, near) BH. Irwin Lieber, Fishtail by David Burke (NYC) – Fresh seafood in the UES by celeb chef David Burke. Dan Pelson, Marea (NYC) – Hopes for a high tide abound at Michael White’s temple to Italian seafood. Barry Rubenstein, Bryant & Cooper (Hamptons) – While it may be trying a little too hard for a classic old-time-y vibe, the steaks are nonetheless quite good. Jack Sullivan, The Raleigh Hotel (Miami) – The local equivalent of LA’s Chateau Marmont.