Chasing Dreams: Talking with Rock Star Emily Lazar, 18-Person Hungry March Band Performs Tonight

I used to tell all my potential first-time nightlife industry employees a little ditty before they actually agreed to come aboard. If you are a regular reader (well, you must be quite irregular for that) you have heard this before… and now you’ll here it again: I told the people working for me to have an exit strategy. The money is good. The people, the celebrities, the action can be an addiction – but the life, except for a few, has an expiration date. When it’s over, you have to have a way to support yourself. It ends when you need a change but no one will hire you because they want younger, or you just can’t put in the hours anymore, or the "distractions" of the night become a real problem. I would tell them nightlife is like a rollercoaster…you pay a little money to get on and the first thing you do is go up a great hill and from there at the top it seems like you can see forever, when in reality you are seeing just a bit more. Then its a fast ride down and around, thrills spill treacherous curves, some screams, some fear, some exhilaration, and when it’s over you end up basically where you started, spent a little time, had some fun. Many creatures of the night are putting themselves through school or are actors or artists or dancers. They are pursuing dreams in a place built on them. They often service stars, people who were just like them a decade ago. Failure and shattered hopes often are a heavy burden as time goes on. Breaking out is hard to do. The odds are stacked against them. Emily Lazar left NY behind to chase her dreams on the left coast. She used to work with me. She’s a rock star trying to let the world realize that.

Most nightlife workers are doing this on their way to that… Tell me about the jobs you took in nightlife so you could perfect your art. Tell me about your club life and how it helped you chase your dream.
I think i’ve done pretty much every job there is in nightlife… promoter, bottle service, assistant to the manager… it was a way to keep me going as I developed my craft. Working in that industry taught me how to develop relationships with people on so many different levels. I was lucky to have you watching out for me and helping me on my way to where I am.  
 
Tell me about the band.
September Mourning is the creation of a universe. It is not a band, it is a story… a fantasy storyline with a musical element intertwined within its world. I created it with Marc Silvestri/ Top Cow Comics. The hard rock musical element of it was previewed on stages with the legendary Marilyn Manson, only months after its inception a few years ago…. Performances with The Birthday Massacre, I Am Ghost, Hanzel Und Gretyl, and Dommin followed, as well as radio play across the country. This past year at Comic Con in San Diego, SM announced a partnership with MTV Geek that will further the development of the character and the world in which she dwells through webisode programs and online comics. Top Cow also announced the unveiling of the graphic novel of the same name in 2012. In the overpopulated music scene of today, I’d like to think that September Mourning stands alone in its originality. We have been recording new material with a slightly different musical direction this year (much more of a hard rock/ alternative feel) for release in the states, but we decided to put together an album of songs that we toured on in the beginning of the project and release it before we release the new direction and sound here. Our album, "Melancholia," drops on May 18th on Repo Records in Germany and Russia, but can be preordered now online at www.poponaut.de.
 
You are in LA, and yesterday a very savvy guy told me that it is much better than ever and in many ways – low rents, jobs, an easier place to pursue a career and have fun at night. What have you found?
The music scene here is thriving. Rents are lower, but you have to have a car, and with the gas prices as they are, well… I think it evens out, haha. But for musicians, there are definitely more opportunities to develop as an artist here. Even the art scene in general seems to just be more inspiring… but I’m a New Yorker at heart. There’s an energy in Manhattan that you won’t find anywhere else on the entire planet. It’s electric almost… and being there, it pulses through your veins and drives you. I kept that with me when I moved, that energy. I also miss the people of NYC that I hold so close to my heart. If I could transplant all the people in NYC to here, this town would be almost perfect.
 
More importantly, do you miss me?
Every hour, every minute, every second of every day… hehe  😉
 
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Hungry Marching Band
 
David Rogers-Berry is a friend and BINGO buddy. He was raised in rural South Carolina and has that southern hospitality-way about him. He is the drummer in the touring band O’Death and has 500 concerts in the US of A and Europe and has three studio albums to brag about. He is also a cancer survivor. The other night at BINGO he told me about his part in Brooklyn’s inimitable  Hungry March Band." There are apparently 18 people in this act and they have a following in Bogotá, Columbia. I can’t make this stuff up!. It is logistically impossible and very expensive to get 18 people and equipment to Columbia, so they’re doing an event in New York.
 
I know you as the drummer of O’Death and as a friend. Now, I hear you are involved with an 18-piece marching band. Tell me about this project.
Hungry March Band (HMB) was established in 1997 for the sake of marching in Coney Island’s annual Mermaid Parade. Since then, the band has become the cornerstone of what you might call an anarchist marching band movement. Nowadays, you will find bands like this in most major cities around this country and abroad. HMB has made three or four studio albums and toured Europe and America. As you can imagine, traveling with this many people can be a logistical nightmare – hell, just working in a creative context at home can be enough to drive a person insane – and it has! Right now, there is an influx of new blood injecting this Brooklyn institution with fresh vitality. The band remains an NYC fixture that can always be seen in Greenwich Village’s Halloween Parade and Coney Island’s Mermaid Parade, but we also play clubs, private events, art happenings, late-night speakeasies, and the occasional protest. The band maintains no political affiliations, but  there is anarchy at the heart of what we do, so we find ourselves aligned with Socio-political institutions from time to time.
 
Tonight, you are trying to raise money to get this crowd to Bogotá, Columbia where you have a large following. Tell me about whats going on to raise funds.
Tonight’s event promises to be spectacular, with live performances from the band and other musicians, aerial acrobatics, some burlesque, drink specials, a cocktail hour, and an extensive silent auction. We’ll be at Galapagos Art Space at 16 Main street in DUMBO, Brooklyn. This is a beautiful and unusual space, for anyone who hasn’t witnessed it before. We’re getting started early – doors are at 6pm, and the festivities kick off around 7, the auction closes at 10pm, and the winners will be announced around 10:30 – then, there is only drinking and socializing left to do!
 
How does one get a large following in Bogotá?
We’ll be working on that with this trip, which is the band’s first to South America.  We’re going to Bogotá for the massive Ibero-American Theater Festival. Some of the festival organizers saw the band in Europe a couple years back and invited us to be a part of this event that lasts for two weeks and includes many outdoor street theatre presentations, in addition to more conventional productions in venues throughout Bogotá.
 
What’s up with O’Death?
O’Death is preparing to tour in early summer and we’re becoming more and more comfortable with our status as a genuine cult band. I’m hoping the band can start recording our next record in the fall, but in the meantime we have a lot of other eggs to hatch.

Will New York’s Bookworms Find Love Tonight?

Yes. They will fall in love with trivia. All over again. There are only a few hours left until Lit Crawl NYC’s “Geek Love” mixer—the title, of course, is taken from an actual book by Katherine Dunn, and if you didn’t know that then probably don’t bother coming along. These people take literature pretty seriously. 

Here’s how it works: show up at 7:00 at powerHouse Arena in Brooklyn, after buying your $15 ticket, I mean. Don’t worry, that includes a drink, and $5 becomes store credit, so you can buy half a copy of Franny and Zooey afterward! You’ll be put on a quiz team with, ideally, some sexy nerds.

And get this! Even “takens” are welcome at this free-form dating event, which boasts a guest list featuring authors Emma Straub and Teddy Wayne, among others. So slip off that wedding ring and get weird. You really think you’re going to spark a three-way with anyone other than literati who’ve been reading French novels?    

Follow Miles Klee on Twitter.

The 12 Things You Must Do In NYC On 12/12/12

Whether you think today is magically auspicious or a reminder that the clock’s quickly-a-tickin’ to Dec. 21st doomsday, the greatest takeaway is this: we must seize the day. So get out there and make today your best. Make it amazing. It just might be your last…

1. Breakfast at Clinton St. Baking Company: since it’s a weekday, the line is shorter than ever, bringing you that much closer to ordering their signature blueberry pancakes and sugar-cured bacon, and being lifted to the celestial heaven that is fluffy pancakes.

2. Put on a sweater and puffy jacket, rent a bike from the Waterfront Bike Shop, and ride across the Brooklyn Bridge and into DUMBO’s Brooklyn Bridge Park. There is no better view of this sparkling gem of a city than on that 129-year-old bridge and from that grassy park.

3. Sweeten the day with the city’s best cupcakes at Sweet Revenge. Today’s specialty offering is the eggnog cupcake with spiced cream cheese frosting, though the major must-get is their signature namesake treat: the Sweet Revenge with peanut butter cake, ganache center, and peanut butter fudge frosting.

4. Drink the day away at Chelsea Brewing Company and frolic drunkenly along the Hudson River. End your tipsy journey with mouthfuls of the giant peanut butter and blackberry jam doughnut and carrot cake doughnut at Chelsea’s Doughnut Plant.

5. Visit West Garden Spa for an “afternoon delight” if ya know what I mean, guys.

6. Rent that helicopter and soar across NYC like a bird. A 15-minute ride above the Statue of Liberty is just $169, which is what you’d pay anyway for dinner-and-drinks-for-two at West Village haven of deliciousness: Perilla.

7. Go ice skating in the heart of Central Park at Wollman Skating Rink, and wrap your hands around a steaming, frothy cup of hot chocolate from nearby  Jacques Torres at 30 Rockefeller Plaza.

8. Have a tea party with all of your best friends at English cottage-inspired Tea & Sympathy, and go nuts over their scones with clotted cream and raspberry jam, kettles of vanilla mint tea, welsh rarebit, and chicken pot pie.

9. Watch the city melt into dark at sunset from the Top of the Rock observation deck.

10. When 5pm hits, head straight to cocktail favorite Mother’s Ruin for their spicy Brazilian coconut cocktail and devour their bready, cheesy, greasy, beautiful grilled cheese.

11. Finally talk to that adorable person you always see on the subway. Flirt, ask them out, make a move.

12. Because no one wants to go back to their apartment (and roommate), end the night in luxury at the Bowery Hotel

Follow Bonnie on Twitter here

A Night Out In DUMBO

With legends like the River Café and Grimaldi’s still packed, the closing of family-favorite Bubby’s, and the arrival of bakery One Girl Cookies and a massive carousel, DUMBO is a neighborhood transformed. Its age is found in its cobblestone streets, its youth in the people it attracts, and its timelessness in its brilliant views. As a former DUMBO resident myself, I’ve watched it evolve from an area without a Starbucks, to the arts and beauty capital of Brooklyn, with stars like Anne Hathaway and Uma Thurman moving in. So it is with much love that I recommend this week’s neighborhood itinerary: a night out in DUMBO.

Stop 1: Have a homemade pasta dinner at Bevacco.

Skip nearby Noodle Pudding and come here. This classy and romantic Italian spot nestled in Brooklyn Heights does one thing better than any other place in New York: it makes it so you don’t have to go to Italy. Every pasta dish at Bevacco has a texture that’s thick, homemade, fresh, and riddled with garlic, seafood, and marinara in a light, yet indulgent way. Hit signature dishes include the asparagus avocado salad with hard-boiled egg, the branzino with spinach and pink peppercorn sauce, and the crispy and sensational bucatini aglio e oglio with toasted garlic and thick al fresco, homemade pasta. Complete the Bevacco experience with their cream-filled Il Bombolone doughnut, and you’ll be back for brunch the next day – guaranteed.

Stop 2: See Mies Julie  at St. Ann’s Warehouse.

Have you ever been quieted and invigorated at the same time? Have you ever seen a show, and thought to yourself, “Did I really just see what I just saw?” This coming Sunday, the off-Broadway play Mies Julie – a post-apartheid drama about a night-in-the-life of a black farm laborer and his “master’s” daughter –  performs its last show at St. Ann’s Warehouse, which means you have only seven opportunities left to have a theatrical experience in Brooklyn that rivals anything in midtown.

Stop 3. Grab a drink at reBar.

This neighboring indie and intimate gastropub theatre is home to a savory French toast bursting with brie cheese batter and egg, over a dozen beers on tap, and an award-winning cinema that presents new indie movies and panels every weekend. And reBar’s theatre, known as reRun, serves homemade, hot pretzels you can eat while you’re watching the movie. I know, it’s like heaven. In Brooklyn. 

Follow Bonnie on Twitter here.

Where To Eat Post-Hurricane Sandy

Now that the city is trying to get back in the swing of things after Frankenstorm, restaurants too are reopening their shuttered doors to diners sick of chowing on canned beans and tortilla chips. But not every eatery is in on the game, for some, Sandy was one guest they could have done without.

First up, the scenic River Café, which, while the view is lovely from its waterside vantage, proved devastating during the storm. The estimated damage is in the millions, and owner Buzzy O’Keeffe said it would be weeks, even months, until they are able to open again. The Huffington Post has a detailed slide show of the spoils.

Speaking of spoils, the food that went bad when the power outage in Manhattan was another causality. Joe Bastianich and Mario Batali’s six restaurants were all shut down, including Del Posto, Eataly, and Babbo. The food loss on that hit—around $50,000. Secretly, I was glad the Waterfront Ale House in Kips Bay lost power, since, in my selfish brain, that meant my boyfriend who is the sous chef there couldn’t work. But, since owner Sam Barbieri has a Brooklyn Heights location to schlep the food to, the boy will be cooking up a nicer, more people-friendly storm there today, which means you can go eat there, too.

Don’t expect to be hitting up Red Hook’s Fort Defiance, Red Hook Lobster Pound, or Brooklyn Ice House. Unfortunately, that area was beat pretty hard. DUMBO also received damage as long-standing Bubby’s is hurting today, as well as newcomer Governor, which won’t be opening any time soon and a rep reported they estimate there is $200,000 in damages.

Now, the good news. While there were plenty of Sandy casualties, and power remains out in some neighborhoods, many places are up and running. Both New York Magazine’s Grub Street and Eater NY have maps and updated lists of open restaurants. Also, I know for a fact bars and eateries in Fort Greene, Bed-Stuy, and Prospect Heights are all fine and serving. If you are in Queens, or can get to Queens, Studio Square is open and advertising its available space for any post-apocalyptic parties you might need/want to have.  

And while we are on the subject of parties, it is Halloween (even if the authorities say they postponed it), so work off some of that cabin fever and celebrate. Personally, since I am stuck in Brooklyn, I plan on making the trek to Williamsburg for a little spooky skeeball and canned beer at Full Circle Bar, after that, wherever the non-threatening wind will take me. 

Artist Brian Batt Talks ‘Gossip Girl’

If you haven’t yet heard of artist Brian Batt, you’ll be getting a glimpse soon, especially if you tune into Gossip Girl. We know that not everyone’s smitten for Upper East Side scheming, but this impressive painter makes a cameo in tonight’s episode, “Portrait of a Lady Alexander.” Indeed, the 33-year-old acting neophyte even delivers some lines, in the presence of Chuck and Blair, no less. Guilty pleasure, meet aesthetic skill.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Batt made his way to Manhattan roughly five years ago. At the time, he was working for a Long Island-based band merchandising company, designing t-shirts and other fan-focused products. But, much as he loved it, in 2008 Batt threw in towel, determined to work for himself and bent on painting fulltime.

And now, that’s just what he does. Day in and day out, he collides with the canvas in his Lower East Side two-bedroom walk-up, though soon he’ll be relocating to Dumbo. We can appreciate his need for more space. With two pit bulls, Lily and Zoe, bounding about (not to mention fixating on our feet) and countless large-scale works scattered throughout the apartment, perched precariously against walls and otherwise making it a little difficult to walk without worry, he’s due for—and deserving of—a real estate upgrade.

Batt’s style has certainly evolved over the years, and currently it’s all about gridding and dots. Some depictions we encountered during our visit were of Russell Simmons, Frida Kahlo, and Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Just blocks and dots of color making for a magnificent and entirely fresh perspective. No Lichtenstein or Seurat to be seen here.

Our personal favorite Batt original would have to be Venus, which features a gorgeous girl (who looks a lot like Lana Del Rey). She sports a letterman jacket and oversized sunglasses, her long locks billowing in the wind before a body of water. The closer you stand, the more out of focus it is. But back up a bit and the beauty comes together, well, beautifully. We really dig the illusion, not to mention the evident meticulousness. And we aren’t alone. Batt counts among his collectors the likes of Reese Witherspoon and John Krasinski, amid myriad more. Though he can command up to $25,000 per piece, prints are available on his site, signed and embossed, for only $90.

Jolly and totally down to talk shop, Batt opened up to us about his craft, breaking into television (if only once…so far), and his relationship with L.A. Spoiler alert: New York City wins.

Let’s begin at the beginning. Have you always been into art, even as a kid?
I was always drawing. And, I went to college for illustration at Hartford Art School in Connecticut. Also, my dad was an artist, too.

That’s awesome. Who is your favorite artist, apart from pops of course?
My primary influence is Chuck Close. Chuck Close is the man.

I can see that, for sure. You have a couple reminiscent, albeit distinct, aesthetics. What would you call them?
Pixilated paintings and dot style[, respectively]. [The former] is influenced by the digital era. The reference is like a bitmap. [The latter is] like look[ing] at a newspaper [if] you zoom way in; it’s all dots. It’s influenced by print.

What does this endeavor mean to you?
I’m just so motivated to be painting every day, as much as possible. Definitely more motivated now than ever before. I spend a lot of time; I’m working at least twelve hours a day, seven days a week. There’s so much I want to do, so much I’m set up to do right now. Commissions and pieces I’m compelled to do. I’m the only one here to do it, too. I don’t have assistants or anything, so I just have to be as productive as I can. I work really hard.

It shows. How do you create these pieces? Like, where do you source the initial images?
This [Russell Simmons image] is taken from a photo on the internet, which is something I’m trying to avoid. I want them to be original. Like, with Gossip Girl, I couldn’t show this because I didn’t take this photo, you know?

It’s tricky. So, how did you initially get involved with Gossip Girl?
The head writer bought two of my paintings at a show I had in L.A. They wanted [to feature] a New York artist and were trying to write me into the script. They wanted me to play myself for authenticity. When they first told me, I really [didn’t] expect it to happen. [After some back and forth,] they invite[d] me to do a cameo on the show.

Were you stoked?
I was very interested.

Then what?
They explained what the scene was going to be; Chuck and Blair come to my studio to talk about a painting. They wanted me to read in front of the camera. That was the final test. I was super nervous, because I’d never done that sort of thing. They just wanted me to be myself.

Did Gossip Girl film here?
They wanted to. Because of the walk-up, it was an issue. So, they came, picked up, like, 18 of my paintings, and recreated my studio out on Long Island. It was cool to see it all recreated.

I bet. So, what was the end result?
It was amazing. The experience was great. They made me feel really comfortable and were really enthusiastic about the work. It was so surreal. It should be great exposure.

Beyond the head writer of Gossip Girl, who else invests in your work?
Probably the most famous person who’s bought work from me is Reese Witherspoon. I did one for John Krasinski a couple years ago, too. It was commissioned by a friend of his. He loves JFK…

Are you bent on depicting famous faces or are you also into lesser-known subjects?
It’s both. I don’t feel as comfortable submitting pieces where I didn’t take the photograph.

And that largely ties back to portraying folks you know or have easier access to than the celebrity (or deceased) set. Tell me about your Frida Kahlo painting.
I think it’s important [to represent] the power of women. There’s not as many female artists. There’s not as much of a presence of female artists. That’s what inspired me. I like subjects who are game changers, who overcome adversity, who stand up for something. To me, Frida totally represents that.

Absolutely.
It’s also about doing more obscure icons. People I think are amazing but don’t necessarily get the recognition of, like, Bob Marley, who’s on posters everywhere. [For example,] this is Karen O. from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I love Karen O.

Does anyone ever sit for a portrait?
Used to. But now I take a photograph because I don’t want to make someone wait so long.

Speaking of waiting, what’s your waiting list like?
A year. Some are priority. Some people are anxious to get something; others are, like, Whenever. I’m happy to have a bunch of commissions lined up.

It must be awesome to be an artist who isn’t starving.
It’s the best. I’m starting to pick up some momentum now.

Yes, you may even make it to Art Basel this year. Tell me more about the piece you anticipate showcasing there?
I’ve probably put in 1,000 hours so far. It’s tedious. I really hope they take it.

For sure. So, does New York inform your art? This area?
It’s always inspiring to walk around the neighborhood. I’m lucky I have dogs. Gets me out of the apartment.

But soon you’ll be abandoning the Lower East Side for Dumbo. Are you ready to say goodbye to Manhattan?
I’m freaking out. I’m majorly freaking out.

I would be, too. Lastly, your manager’s based in L.A. Can you describe your relationship with the West Coast?
There’s so many opportunities for artists out there now. It’s really refreshing to have New York artists [going] to L.A. The general population in Los Angeles is all about it. There’s so much to take advantage of. It’s really positive and beneficial to be involved in some way. It’s also nice to recharge a little bit, too. I love going back and forth, absorbing what both places have to offer. I don’t think I could live there full-time, though. New York is just so amazing.

Pop-Up Chef Series at a Dance Club

All summer long, The Westway has been pairing food, music, and a club vibe with their pop up chef series. Today, starting at 11pm and going until all the food and booze runs out, the quaint restaurant features the DUMBO restaurant, Vinegar Hill House. From there, executive chef, Brian Leth plans to kick off the event with fish filets topped with tarter sauce and ice berg lettuce on a potato bun. He will also be serving a dangerous tater tot poutine as DJ Audra and Dawn spins  beats.

As to why they partnered up with Westway to cook some club food, Leth said, "It’s just a fun opportunity to cook some food in Manhattan and engage in my inner stoner person for some late-night eats.”

Past series featured Baohaus’ owner and chef Eddie Huang with DJs Chris Holms and Nancy Whang, and Pok Pok’s Andy Ricker spinning Thai food while DJ The Knocks served up the music. Coming up expect to eat and dance with Carlo Mirarchi of Roberta‘s andBlanca and Preston Madson of Isa, and rapper, Action Bronson.

"Our chef pop up collaborations at Westway was inspired by a party I had gone to in Berlin that was known for a burger they served at the end of the night,” said Carlos Quirarte, co-owner of the club.“Basically you paid at the beginning of the night and were given a ticket that was redeemable for a burger if you made it till the end which I did and it was delicious.”

And now, he has brought the experience to you.

The Governor Is In: Colonie Spreads Its Brooklyn Reign in DUMBO

When a group of servers who formally worked at Public got together and opened their first restaurant Colonie, it was gamble to see if people would take the trek to Brooklyn Heights to check out the place. After all, first time restaurateurs Elise Rosenberg, Emelie Kihilstrom, and Tamer Hamawi, were running it. Even before it opened, people were excited, and once they unlocked their doors, it was packed daily. Later, chef Brad McDonald joined the team and a scant year-and-a-half after opening Colonie, the team debuts their third restaurant Governor, which opens in DUMBO today.

“Brad was ready to do something of his own in New York and in his neighborhood,” said Rosenberg. “He had recently moved to DUMBO and was appalled by the lack of dining choices, which is very similar to Colonie’s situation in Brooklyn Heights.”

The new restaurant focuses on foods dear to McDonald’s heart, meaning he takes dishes from his training at Per Se and the famed Noma in Copenhagen.

“We [at Governor] are more creative than Colonie and here it’s more about comfort and innovation without being pretentious,” said Rosenberg. “We want to be the neighborhood restaurant where you can walk in wearing jeans and grab a snack or come in for a full-on tasting menu.”

The tasting menu isn’t in full swing yet, they are after all just opening today. But the regular menu is chock full of options that stem from McDonald’s foraging expeditions and, like the other restaurants, uses local and seasonal ingredients. The space is key too. Located in the Clocktower Building at 15 Main St., Governor boasts 18-foot ceilings that allowed them to add a mezzanine to the restaurant. They are right next to the water and the 60-seat venue has a full bar where they have created a seasonal cocktail list complete with fresh juices.

Now, the team has to see if Governor will garner the same crowds as Colonie and their Mexican restaurant Gran Electrica, also in DUMBO. But, if it takes after its namesake,Robert Gair, who was nicknamed Governor and who the building was erected in honor of oh so long ago, it will be strong and good. 

The Ten Best Photos at the New York Photo Festival

The New York Photo Festival kicks off today in Brooklyn. The forecast says sun for the next few days, which in my mind screams perfect! If you are a photographer, artist, or just and appreciator of the arts I highly recommend heading down to the wondrous world of Dumbo for a little inspiration.

Exhibitions are open to the public, but if you want to be granted access into artist lectures and special receptions, that will run you 15 dollars in advance (or, for you spur-of-the-moment folks, 20 dollars at the door). It’s a deal!

Ticket holders also receive discounts to Dumbo’s finest food, drink, and more!

The festival is open to the public until Sunday May 20. Find out more at the New York Photo Festival website.

Check out some of the best photos of what is not to be missed this year in the gallery below!