Lit Lounge’s Co-Owner Erik Foss on Tomorrow’s 10th Anniversary Bash and Maintaining Success

The 10th anniversary bash tomorrow (Wednesday) at Lit Lounge is a sold out, invitation-only affair that will gather the strange brew that have faithfully worshipped at the house Erik Foss and David Schwartz have built and maintained. When it was built, our scene was in Manhattan. There were a couple of joints in Williamsburg where creative types were developing an art scene that soon developed into a lifestyle. High Manhattan rent escapees constituted most of the crowd. Then, folks like me got on the bandwagon because it’s simply better out there for people like me. Suddenly, it became almost lame to live in Manhattan.

Ten years ago, Manhattan ruled the world and the downtown scene was expanding into the L.E.S. as the East Village was being quickly gentrified out of relevance. In a short time, the so-called bridge and tunnel crowd swept into these areas as developers pushed the hipsters out. The hipsters took to the "L" train and Williamsburg became hipster heaven. Now, it too is being occupied by the "cooler" crews of the working dead. Soon, more and more suits and baby carriages will push things further into Greenpoint and Bushwick and beyond. I live off the second stop, knowing too well that soon I too will migrate to the 3rd or 4th. High-rises and condos and such require steady jobs, loans, and such and the artistic, creative set often live hand-to-mouth and lack the credit rating or references to buy.
 
Through all the cross migrations, Lit has survived. It has been threatened with extinction, it has had its ups and downs, but it has remained a place of sanctuary, a place of dependable cool, throughout. I still list it among my favorite places to be. I never know what’s going on there when I’m going there; it doesn’t matter. I know I will get a smile from a busy David and I know I will find Foss in that nook where the bar melts into the DJ booth, or holding court in the back behind the glass door of the Fuse Gallery. Foss is always a reason to be cheerful. He is so many things, too many things to describe here. Foremost for me, he is a true and dear friend. I will DJ amid a hoard of great DJs at the anniversary. There will be a feeling not unlike going home for the holidays. I asked Foss a few questions… the spelling has been corrected to protect the cognizant.
 
A 10-year anniversary is unheard of in the club biz. That’s like 20 in dog years or like 150 in human. How did you manage? What will the next decade bring to Lit? Are you going for 20?
Yeah, for sure. We just signed the new lease so we kinda have no choice.
 
How did you fuse Lit and the Fuse Gallery into a working brand? How do you draw the line so that they maintain their own identities?
Well, it’s all about a slow, consistent build. We are painfully consistent. We have always kept the art out of the bar and the bar out of the gallery. We treat both as separate entities; the gallery is open to the public four days out of the week, wed-sat, 3pm-8pm. It’s been like this since day one. We have a new and different show every month in Fuse Gallery. We have shown over 100,000 artists in the gallery since we have opened. The bar is open seven days a week and has never been closed once since the day we opened. The bar is open from 5pm-4am, seven days a week,  365 days a year. This is how we have successfully stayed open and maintained our mojo. People from every walk of life can always come here and experience what New York is supposed to be: fun, gritty, and artistic. The bar was created to fund our vision as the one gallery in New York where artists young in their career could come and have a platform to start at. It’s truly an art project, all in all. This is unique and sincere.
 
Tell me about your partner David Schwartz’s role.
David is the dude who one day came to me and said, "let’s open a gallery together, we’ll be partners and you curate and I’ll help run the business," So that’s what happened with the addition of a bar attached. It’s been me and David working together since he owned his gallery Subculture in downtown NYC in the ’90s. I was an artist who showed there and he saw my hustle and promotional skills, so he approached me to help open Fuse/Lit. If David didn’t ask me to help him, I would have never opened a business, or at least I hadn’t planned to. David is the big boss at Lit and Fuse. We’re pretty much equal partners but with different roles. We’re both artists and had to create a legitimate alternative space in Manhattan that we could give the work we believe in serious attention. So, we did and now we do.
 
It took a long time though. Without David Schwartz and Max Brennan, there’s no Lit/Fuse. Every artist, musician, DJ, and staff member that has ever come through Lit/Fuse has David and Max to thank just as much as me. Also, let’s not forget the other partners that have given their energy to make this project all possible. Mikel McGrane who ran the gallery when we first opened, along with Rich Rethorn. Rich Rethorn taught me how to oil paint and Michael Winch, who was my old boss at Bowery Ballroom and Mercury Lounge.
 
I learned how to run a bar from working for Mike Winch. I have a lot of people to thank and by no means could have come this far without any of these people. We all may not see eye to eye but I have to give recognition were it’s due. I will be partners with David Schwartz the rest of my life I’m sure. He’s one of the most honest humans I’ve ever worked with.
 
Tell me about the entertainment line-up for the anniversary.
Haha, it’s obnoxious! It’s a very small example of the people that made us who we are. Twenty-five DJs is like 1 percent of the people that have DJed at Lit – creative people playing and spinning jams. Supertouch is the headlining band for the evening. The reason I asked Mark Ryan (singer of Supertouch) to play is because of a couple reasons: I wanted to keep the anniversary all family and very personal. When I was still living at my mom’s trailer in Chandler, Arizona I was a record collector and was heavily into NYC punk/hard core/ metal from the ’70s to the ’90s.  I bought the first Supertouch record "The Earth Is Flat" and fell in love with it when it came out in 1991. I moved to NYC in 1996 and soon befriended Mark Ryan.
 
In 2002, Lit opened and Mark hosted a Sunday night of jams that was as prolific as Supertouch was when they came around in the ’80s. He had been one of my closest friends since then and had always been one of my favorite bands/people. It’s again sincere and back to my roots. As far as the DJs go, well, there’s like 25 and they’ve all put their time in one way or another. The booking was very off the top of my head and is kinda how I have always done things…from my heart and honestly. Some of my favorite artists are DJs.
 
Lizzy Yoder (Artist/vocalist of Fisher Spooner), Josh Wildman (Photographer/skater), Nick Zinner (Yeah Yeah Yeahs founder), Leo Fitzpatrick (painter/photographer/skater), Brian Degraw (Gang Gang Dance Founder/ artist/skater ), Gordon Hull (Surface to Air founder/artist), Markus Boroughs (Rockers NYC founder/artist) Nate Turbow (Artist/Nick of Tim creator), Nate Lowman (probably the most accomplished artist I know/ and a bro).
 
Everyone involved is a homie and wonderfully creative and talented. Last but not least is my dear friend Justine Delaney .Justine is the first DJ to play a record on our system and DJed the first night we opened. Justine is also the same woman that got Peaches, LCD Sound System, Interpole, Felix the House Cat, and many many more talents to DJ on her five-year Friday night residency. Justine really was a driving force that put Lit on the map.
 
Thank you everyone who has been involved, we couldn’t have done this without you.
 
Lets talk about Foss, the artist, as opposed to the club operator… how are you doing?
Well, I got sober 4 1/2 years ago to take advantage of New York City and start my art career. I have had four solo shows: two in San fransisco, one in Europe, and one in New York City. I have been in two museum shows and about to be in my third in March (The American Academy of Arts and Letters) and possibly in a museum show in the beginning of next year at The Smithsonian in D.C. I co-curated my first museum show in 2010 at the National Museum of Mexico (Draw). Because of this show, I  published our first book through D.A.P. on the show. The book was distributed to around 75 museum bookstores world wide.
 
To tell you the truth, if I died tomorrow I’d have no regrets and have surpassed all my goals by lightyears. I feel blessed when I step back and really trip out on all the shit that’s happened. I always remind myself that we are all just specks in this great universe and without all the people involved in my life I’d be/have nothing. My family, partners, friends, co-workers, lovers, haters/enemy’s, etc. People like you, Steve; I’m being interviewed by someone who, if you hadn’t done what you did, my business may not exist. You are a true NYC icon. I’m honored to be in your presence always. All in all, I’m lucky to be alive. I’m thankful every day I open my eyes. It could all end at any time. I will continue on and I wouldn’t change a thing. I am honored to continue serving NYC. Bless, foSs.

Life After the Hurricane & the Marathon Conspiracy

We were better than most in our 4th floor loft atop a hill in Williamsburg. Our new apartment didn’t have cable yet or heat for that matter as those companies were busy elsewhere. We had bins filled with water, flashlights, food, everything we needed to weather the storm. Many of our friends were less fortunate. We took in a couple of strays, fed them, and thus beat the boredom of the silent night. On Tuesday night we went on a safari to Manhattan. The car loaded up with stir crazy women heading into a dark unknown place reminded me of the opening scene of a monster movie. I could hear a voice from the audience saying “don’t go there, you idiot!” but onward we sped. When we got to the center of the Williamsburg Bridge, the light went out and we plunged into the surreal. A candle in a window here, a flashlight off to the side told us the zombies hadn’t eaten everyone. The cops were serious, their flashing lights creating surreal shadows and illuminating thevoids. There were hundreds of thousands in those dark monoliths but there was little sign of them.

Wednesday night was Halloween and we went to Manhattan again. More was lit up but not that much. We went to the Tribeca Grand in search of a couple of friends who worked there. The bar at Tribeca was lit with candles but had no humans so we headed to the Soho Grand, where a party was happening. We embraced our pal Dean Winters who plays Mayhem in those insurance commercials and avoided making a bad joke about his role in all this. Matt Green was holding court over a fast crowd that was slowed down just a little by the crisis. The hotel’s generators kept one soda gun going and a few lights. The trademark under-illuminated stairs were dark. We had a blast as everyone was happy to have something, although we were all aware of so many who had nothing. Our smartphones told us about Lit Lounge, Erik Foss’s joint, which I love more than any other. Eric, of course, got Lit, lit and we all gathered into our clown car and navigated the polite streets. With no traffic lights, everyone gave everyone right of way. It was grand.

Lit had a party. They wrangled up a generator and had the DJ booth going and a few soft lights. Nick Gazin of Vice was DJing, spotted by Ben Rayner and Dj Mell (Cerebral Ballzy).The brilliant artist Chris (Spam) Martin and Foss threw this shindig. It was a super hip and beautiful crowd, happy to be anywhere, and ecstatic to find themselves at such a fantastic gathering. Foss got boxes of pizza from God knows where and fed the masses. When he offered one dude a slice, he replied, "No thanks, I’m good, I live uptown .We headed into the dark for little trips and met no monsters but helpful friendly people everywhere. Intrepid bodega owners watched their shops and sold warm beers and snacks. We popped into strange bars illuminated by melting wax and were greeted with cheers for just showing up. It was mad fun.” Back at Lit, I told Erik that this is why I say his is the best joint in town. My DJ gigs at Hotel Chantelle and Griffin were cancelled as the plans of millions took a break. Old friends Facebooked and called from all over the world to make sure I and mine were OK.

The Marathon debate raged on Facebook and I used that medium to scratch my writing itch. I ripped Bloomberg for his audacity and wondered if he canceled so very late in order to ensure the runners came and their money boosted our economy. I got a Sandy tattoo when my artist managed to fly back from New Orleans. My pal Matt De Matt who owns Gaslight and some other joints hooked my refugee tattoing pals up down in Louisiana where he is totally connected. It was and is a time for friends to help friends. As the city sputtered back to light, the clubs threw "stir crazy" parties and Sandy parties. Nothing too clever, sad to say. This week promises to be more "normal," but problems for nightlife still remain. The subways are not quite right and gas is so rare that few can venture in from suburbia. The loss of Halloween revenues is staggering. Clubs and staff won’t recover quickly, but the busy season of nightlife has begun, and in a week or two, cash should be flowing. The local bars and coffee shops are collecting necessities for our neighbors in places that still are under the thumb of destruction. Do what you can to help.

Tonight I should be hopping around town as the election that never came has actually arrived. Tomorrow will be a day off for most, a day to take a deep breath and get ready to return to the routine. Voting and watching the results will dominate Tuesday. I, of course, endorse Obama. I think the other guy represents the Dark Ages, and I am fearful of a return to the religious and greed-fueled policies of Bush. I urge all my readers to contact friends in swing states and get them out there voting and motivating.

At Lit Lounge: The Hottest Person to Ever Say Hi to Me & The Melvins

It started innocently enough; a Sunday night stroll through the hood and a look-what-we-found by the trash and the decision to give this sassy little painting to our friend Adam at his new tattoo shop Magic Cobra Tattoo Society (775 Driggs Ave., off South 3rd). The next thing you know I’m getting yet another pin-up tattoo. No worries, I’ll only have it for the rest of my life… and besides, I love it more than the dinner I was craving at Pies-n-Thighs. Adam Korothy did the honors on me while his partner-in-crime Kati Vaughn did my partner-in-crime Amanda’s tattoo. While I was there and half naked, we added a little to the "boxing babe" on the back of my arm who preaches my downfall with "I LIKE ‘EM SASSY.” Adam retraced the large damsel in distress on my bicep who proclaims…lest I forget … "DON’T BET ON DAMES.” We were looking forward to the Inked Magazine “Sex D.R.U.G.S. & ROCK ‘N’ ROLL” issue party Monday at Lit Lounge, my favorite hole-in-the-wall, and figured the new ink would set the right tone.

Monday night we gathered our regulars and BINGO’ed at Bowery Poetry Club as usual and, of course, the usual and unusual Linda Simpson and the returning Murray Hill kept us laughing and praying and begging for ultra-important things like  N31 or O67. B Bar barkeep and his lovely Katie won big, representing our tables large. After the last chance at Bingo glory was over, we kissed our friends goodbye and popped into the jammed Lit. We headed to the attached FUSE Gallery space which was the VIP holding pen.

There, it was decided that LIT/Fuse honcho Erik Foss, and A.R.E Weapons drummer Eric Rabin and I were going to get bro tattoos from Jes of Smoking Tattoos (18 St Marks Place). We three musketeers got cobwebs from the fabulous Jes. Mine says Lit. The cobwebs represent the many great years that the old club has given us and carries the hopes of many more.

Back at the Inked event, the Jagermeister and slamming DJs kept the usually incoherent rockers positively stoopified. Former Inked cover girl and quite possibly the hottest person who ever said "hello" to me, Alesandra Nicole, who I was told was a model / Internet celebrity kept me mesmerized and fearful of my life. 

Steve Lewis tattoo Amanda and I had our usual "that’s the kind of girl you should be dating" chat and I swore allegiance and pointed to our still-healing matching tattoos. I spied or was told these fab folk were there, Joshua Wildman (artist/photographer), Gen of Genatorturers, tattoo model Raquel Reed, chef Chris Santos, Steven Tyler’s daughter Mia, and artist Nikki Sneakers. We got to chat up the wonderful Zosia Mamet who we just love, love love in Girls.

Lit is banging all week with Natacha Sanchez and Just C presenting Worlds Collide 4 tonight with performances from Gswagga, AHGEDA, and Streight Angular and DJs El Rojo, OG Chino, and Sonido Confirmacion.

On Friday night Brent Barber and his Bicycle Film Festival has their 12-year opening anniversary party at Lit starting at 9pm. It figures to go real late.

The whole thing will culminate with a huge bang Saturday night when Melvins and Hammerhead play LIT in a very small intimate engagement Erik Foss told me is his "dream come true! Only next to Elliot Smith playing his last NY show here, nothing this monumental has happened at Lit before.” Save maybe the night I walked in with Ron Jeremy and a bunch of gals left with my number one.

Lit remains a reason to be cheerful. It is an old-school saloon-type joint that hits hard when it hits. The Melvins will be an incredible show and I will be there. 

 

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Riff Raff’s 1 Year Anniversary, and Commune Hotels and Resorts’ Newest Addition

The three-day weekend that seems so long ago has me confused about what day it is. I can’t decide if it feels like Wednesday or Friday, but it can’t be Thursday…can it? The beautiful weather has me itching and scratching to go out. It has lurched my cabin fever into spring fever. My 30-minute DJ stint at Lit Lounge’s 10-year anniversary also confused my schedule. Of course I’m on tonight at Hotel ChantelleJustine "D" Delaney was scheduled to go on after me, and we caught up before in a big way as dude after dude played impossible tracks to a spectacular crowd of downtown denizens of the deep art/rock world. Justine told me of her recent engagement and showed me the ring and introduced me to the doctor she snagged. Nice guy. We reminisced about working together at Life and then Spa. She would come in during the day to chat or pick up a check and I’d turn on the sound system and we would put on records (remember those?) and annoy the staff as we explored the old sounds. After our sets, I retreated into the Fuse Gallery to hang with Erik Foss and his crew. I met amazing folks including artist Joe Heaps Nelson, whose show "This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things" opens at Fuse on February 25th. Lit lives and thrives, entering its second decade because it feels like home to so many of us. Foss joked that he was going to try to go another 10 without renovating and I agreed. You don’t fix things that are perfectly imperfect.

The weather allowed me to don my old leather jacket which, like Lit and maybe Foss and myself, is becoming more perfectly imperfect as time goes by. Amanda and I talked of Oscars and where we might go to watch it. The Darby has a big dinner/viewing thing going on and there are always friends’ house parties. I haven’t seen The Artist and will tomorrow, for sure. I loved The Descendents, and Hugo was a masterpiece, but for me The Tree of Life is just gorgeous.

I wanted to check out Riff Raff’s celebrating its year anniversary. I have never been and really want to. Riff Raff’s is part of Fourth Wall Restaurants and owned by Michael Stillman. Fourth Wall owns and operates The Hurricane ClubQuality MeatsMaloney & PorcelliSmith & WollenskyThe Post HousePark Avenue Seasons, as well as nightlife venue Riff Raff’s. Those are great joints and I am interested in meeting Michael who, at a very young age, has built this impressive empire.

Last but certainly not least for today’s spew… Salvatore Imposimato my dear friend who did such an amazing job at Morgans Hotel Group has a new and very exciting gig. Light Group moved into Morgans, and Sal has moved on to be the executive director of entertainment for Commune Hotels and Resorts. Sal sent me this:

"Commune Hotels and Resorts is a collective, uniting two different hotel brands, Thompson Hotels and Joie de Vivre, into a truly independent, multi-platform company. Our mission is to offer our guests a wide range of eclectic, local and inventive experiences in authentic settings, without the bureaucracy that a big brand imposes. Nothing short of revolutionary, our ethos is about individuality, community, locations that are authentic to their environment, and the kind of exceptional service that makes travel unforgettable."

He starts April 1st as he has another baby due, any second. I dined at The Darby last week with my Amanda and his lovely wife Andrea. We asked for a table for four and 8/9th’s but of course that seemed cleverer before it was said. Andrea was the door girl at the Boom Boom Room before she blew up (with baby). She worked with me at my doors for years. She is beautiful, bright, and amazing and I am curious if this second child will finally get her out of nightlife.

Thompson Hotels, with Sal programming entertainment, will be wonderful and a fixture in this column’s must-attend events listings. The company has 40 plus properties in its portfolio. Congratulations Sal and Commune!

Tonight: Partying with Erik Foss, Domi Dollz, & Shell Sheddy

I’m not going to sweat it, but I did RSVP for multiple events tonight that I can’t possibly physically attend unless "Scottie" starts to "beam me" around town. Two of them are uptown and the other two are downtown. Guess which two get my fabulous face.

OK, I’m gonna try. First on the list is a group show opening that includes my bro (we even have bro tattoos) Erik Foss. The show WAVE is presented by MISC and includes artists Judy Chicago, Michael St. John, Peter Alexander, Amany Ahmad, Shelter Serra, Colton Brown, Tom Forkin, and Angel Otero. It’s at the Fuller Building, 41 east 57th street, suite 702. If you’re into it, email info@misc-nyc.com or call 917 370 6423. While I’m up there I might as well scoot over to Hudson Terrace, 621 West 46th Street, for the APM Models’ Summer Party. I’m tight with Penny Basch and love their events.

Or, I just may stay south and pop into the last Domi Dollz evening for the summer at the Museum of Sex. These wonderful gals never fail to stand and deliver. They are sexy and sweet – sometimes – and the event promises lots of "boy toys.” The people I have sent to these soirees tell me that they can be life changing for them and theirs. It is quite educational, with zero chance of falling asleep in class.

I will surely attend photographer Shell Sheddy’s opening at Bar 82, 136 Second Avenue. This event starts at 7pm and ends at 11pm, after which the whole posse will scoot over to Hotel Chantelle for the after party, where I will DJ rock and roll with Sam Valentine. The show is titled "LES Images: The Creativity, Community and Struggle Continues," and promises that "we will be graced with Sheddy’s breath-taking visuals of raw humanity and real world, life-affirming spirit."

I also want to mention a fundraiser that I am honored to lend my name to. Old friend Don Welch asked me to help out:

"I need your help with this fundraiser I’m doing for Gwen McCrae; she suffered a massive stroke in London (June 3rd) & is paralyzed on her left side. The family is trying to get her home to Florida & it’s really expensive. I would like to put your name on the invite as a supporter & would love for you to attend. The date of the event is Tuesday August 21st @ ANJA on Little West 12th Street, NYC. Colonel Abrams & Melba Moore so far are the host, but lots of folks are calling in. Let me know what you think. Thanks."

Gwen McCrae is famous for her hit "FUNKY SENSATION.” The dance community has gotten on board big time. The outpouring of support, and the DJs and talent that have since gotten involved speaks volumes of the love and class always shown by Gwen. I will do a follow-up post just before the event to give you more details, but I wanted to get this to you early enough for you to purchase tickets and support this fine lady. Tickets can be acquired from www.ticketweb.com. Call 866 468 7619 for more information.

A Love Letter to Lit & The Box

I was weak from Fashion Week events when Lit Lounge owner Erik Foss texted me late last night to head to The Box, which was celebrating its anniversary. Erik told me it was their sixth. Six years in nightlife and remaining relevant is no small task. I cannot think of a more vibrant place than this. I often say that NYC is devoid of great clubs, but not lacking in great nights. Spaces are so consistent with their programming and crowds as to flirt with boredom. Sure, the pretties might be here or there, and the bon-vivants may flock to this or that joint, but few do more than sell booze and spin the same music as the next place…few push the culture forward.

The Box has its ups and downs, but it is one of the few places I will go to without knowing what’s going on. I know the crowd will be mixed and often daring, I know that the experience will entertain me, push my buttons and occasionally my limits. I heard it was packed with a great crowd. Congrats.
 
Erik Foss and Lit are also nearing an anniversary. On February 22nd they will turn 11. Now that’s an impossible number. Lit is my go-to spot. My favorite place. It too can fluctuate but, then again, who doesn’t. I know when I tell the cabby 2nd Ave. and 5th St. that I will find fast friends in a great room, and the music will not be the same ol’ same ol’. There might be an art event in the Fuse or a band downstairs, and Erik will be there or Dave or bartenders that I know and respect. For me, it’s a family affair. I will not be in town on the 22nd or I would help DJ at the celebration.

I DJ at EVR on Wednesdays, and it is refreshing to see the place grow. Nice people, nice place. Its 39th Street location brings in a crowd that is well-heeled but  non-yuppie. They are the hipper side of the working set. Club types gather, and models and hipsters pop in too. I highly recommend it. They have been running mostly afterwork hours, but now they are opening for late night and getting a solid base. 

On Tuesday I was privileged to DJ at BlackBook‘s Fashion Week soiree. It was soooo much fun. I got to hang out with the reigning Miss New York USA , Joanne Nosuchinsky, who visited me in the booth. Joanne is one of the most charismatic people I have ever met …and that’s a statement. She is energetic, sharp, beautiful, fun, and way cool. Her in-it-to-win-it attitude will take her far, and I’ll be rooting for her to win it all at the big pageant  The event was held at Toy, which always puts me in a playful mood. 

The staff is amazing. You start with door icon Fabrizio Brienza, who is so fashionable and fabulous that you can easily forget he has a heart of gold. I described him to a single girl on her way to Toy as about 6-foot-3, extremely handsome, intelligent, polite, and with a heart of gold. When asked if he was single, I said I didn’t really know, and she said "it doesn’t matter; he was probably too busy saving babies or the earth itself." It’s like that. Inside every manager, owner, waitron, maitre d’ is someone outdoing themselves to make the experience wonderful. 

It’s been an exhausting week and I better run off to get a fabulous present to complement the bodega flowers I’ve already offered. If I’m not here tomorrow, you will know that I succeeded in getting the perfect Valentines gift…or didn’t.

Erik Foss’ Fuse Gallery Presents the ‘Paths of Rhythm’ Exhibition

Since I happen to be in the middle of Tropical Storm Emily with little access to electronics, this is going to be brief. As many of you know, I worship at the altar of Erik Foss, and his upcoming art event “Paths of Rhythm”
will be brilliant, and the after party will be the kind of soiree that gets us all in trouble. When the Fuse Gallery and its sidekick Lit get serious, anything can happen and I must attend. The airline says my jet is still scheduled to whisk me back to civilization, not a minute too soon.

Although the very nice people who flew me to paradise for a “possibility” did everything to court me, I shall pass on their plan. Nightlife where I am now consists of beers and tropical fruit drinks, on a veranda surrounded by metal gates and large—most of the time, friendly—dogs. Our banter is occasionally interrupted by not too distant gunfire and the youngest among us can identify the type of weapon and its proximity. It was much like listening to a thunderstorm and counting the seconds between the lightning and bang to guess how far away it was. Some of the shots came from that neighborhood over there, while some were quite nearby. After awhile, you barely notice the rat-a-tat-tats. The subsequent police sirens and helicopter prove more difficult to talk over. I look forward to home and those real tough guys at Lit who weigh a buck twenty when wet and show off their machismo with killer tattoos.

So, Fuse Gallery and 2Feet 12 Inches presents: Paths of Rhythm”
Curated by Rob Aloia, Brent Bartley, Frankie Cedeno, Erik Foss and Ricky Powell. The exhibition will run from August 3 through August 17. The Opening Reception tomorrow, Wednesday, August 3, will run from 7-10pm and I will be one of the DJs.

Mr. Erik Foss says: “As artists coming up in New York City, the three elements that inspired and defined our crew’s wild youthful years are represented in our logo: 2’ (kicks-street style) + 12” (vinyl-music) = 212 (NYC as muse). In the streets, on the courts and at the clubs all three elements were with us in some form. “Paths of Rhythm” is a show about being a creative person in NYC. Be as literal or esoteric as you desire just express what propelled you on this journey.” A portion of all proceeds from this show will go to Art for Progress, a non-profit arts organization. Art For Progress’ Arts Education Community “provides underserved youth with dynamic artistic programming that promotes reflection and self-expression.”

During the opening reception there will be The World Famous Ricky Powell Slide Show and all-vinyl DJ sets by: myself, Shorty, Stretch Armstrong, Gatto and DJ Small Change. Participating Artists will include Aiko, BAST, Marcus Burrowes, Tony Chan, Chino, Daze, Harry Druzd, Cheryl Dunn, Tristan Eaton, Shauna Figueroa, Leo Fitzpatrick, Donald Gajadhar, Hugh Gran, Giannina Gutierrez, Charles Hardwick, Eric Haze, Todd James, Kinjal Mitra, John Perry, Ricky Powell, Dr. Revolt, Michelle Reyes, Christophe Roberts, Judi Rosen, Senz, Meryl Smith, Spam, Judith Supine, Joshua Wildman and Nick Zinner.

I asked co-curator Rob Aloia a few questions about the event. What’s the meaning of 2feet 12 inches? That’s our logo and it’s comprised of three elements: 2 feet-(sneakers/street style), 12 inches-(vinyl/music), 212-NYC(muse). I came up with this sometime in the late ‘90s when I noticed my room was being overrun with sneakers and vinyl. But it was more than that, it was the culture behind them like digging for records, going to the new sneaker boutiques, playing ball, going to art openings and going to see DJs and bands. That’s why we say, “From the street, to the court, to the club.” That’s how NYC constantly inspires us.

What are your goals with the event? Our immediate goals are to pull off a great opening and raise money for art programs for city kids. We have a TV pilot we shot with Ricky Powell that is being pitched and we’re planning for more shows here in NYC. Hopefully we get to hit the road as well.

Tell me about “kicks,” sneakers, and shoes. I remember being taken to Buster Brown’s and this was the first time I was going to get to pick my own pair of sneakers, with my older brother’s guidance. Back then there wasn’t much to choose from but whatever you chose you were stuck with for at least a year ‘till your toes pushed through the front. I was leaning towards Adidas Shelltoes but he reminded me of Walt ‘Clyde’ Frazier (the Knicks had just won their second championship) and that clinched it, I opted for the Puma suedes in blue.

I haven’t fooled around with vinyl since my second date with Jeannie Luvullo. Why are you asking me and the rest of the DJs to play vinyl? Vinyl always make me feel warm and at home because my dad would pull out a gatefold LP, put on the record and use the jacket to separate the seeds and stems from his stash. The sounds and smells were very comforting.

What’s your fondest club memory? One of favorite early moments of hanging out in NYC was going to Nell’s in ‘86. We were underage, we walked there dressed in sneakers, jeans and baseball caps with no money in our pockets and got right in (a friend was working the door) while limos and people lined the street. As we’re entering, he tells us that they just turned away Cher. Inside there was Run-DMC and—well, I don’t have to tell you who hung out there, but that really says a lot about what NYC is/was about.

Egg Creams and Memories

Lit’s 8th anniversary was, as advertised, a zillion great DJs and 5 zillion great people. I met up with Ron Jeremy on 9th street at the 24 hour staple, Veselka with two very broad-minded broads. They’d have to be able to put up with our antics. We talked about how Veselka was really the last of the really good Polish/Ukrainian late night restaurants that kept eons of club denizens alive. Cafe Kiev on 7th street was the standard, but alas, the owners kept tweaking their winning formula until it just wasn’t any good anymore. In the old days, it was common to see Steve Rubell in a tux at the counter or a rock band that just headlined The Ritz and their groupies eating kielbasa and mushroom barley soup while taking turns to shoot up in the rest room. Every club employee in town fueled up before they crashed out. Kiev was the after hours for the after hours clubs and a very big part of nightlife. Although always a tamer version, Veselka still delivers great food. Ron and I talked about many a night eating way too late after way too much fun. After dinner we did the walk of shame fame to Lit just three blocks away. Three blocks from the stuffed cabbage and horseradish beets and the polite stares from diners who wanted to say hey to Ron but whispered and giggled instead.

We whisked into the party like we were walking onto a yacht. My hat was strategically dipped below one eye but my scarf was not apricot. I did have one eye on the mirror as I watched myself walk by, but then the only two frat boys in the place went nuts over my porno pal. They bellowed and laughed and shook his very used hand and Ron was a great sport about it. We went to the back to the Fuse Gallery and I introduced Ron and the entourage to Lit proprietor and cool, cool friend Erik Foss. Foss rushed to greet Ron and used his correct nickname “the hedgehog”. I gave Foss a cub scout knife from the ‘50s that I’ve had for a very long time but seldom appreciated. I told him now that as he (Lit) had turned eight, he was old enough to have my old treasure. At 4 a.m., he texted me to thank me for the knife and for the hedgehog intro. Apparently, they were still hanging out. Thank god I wasn’t a fly on the wall for this one.

I cut out with my new friend Amanda to get some air, as it seemed to be scarce inside. We walked over to Gem Spa to get their chocolate egg creams, the best in town. Egg creams are a lost art. Years ago you could get them anywhere. Clubbers going to the Mudd Club (off White and Broadway) would stop by Dave’s on Canal and have one or maybe two. Maybe a crisp hot dog as well before destroying their bodies and brain cells. Now there are only a few joints in town that do it right. The proprietor/counter man has been slinging egg creams for 30 years at Gem Spa off a recipe and technique and tradition he inherited from excellent egg creams for 70 years before. I explained to Amanda that the key is to have the chocolate, the seltzer and the milk at the same temperature so that it mixes right. The professional nodded in agreement and showed us the egg creaming equipment. Most places that still offer this very New York delicacy just offer chocolate milk and a splash of club soda. The egg creams help me get some sleep as my days are becoming more hectic than ever.

It was a cold driving rain outside, almost enough to have me pine for Miami…almost. Let’s not get hysterical. Amanda and I perused magazine covers as we sipped nirvana from a waxed paper cup. One periodical caught my eye. The cover image of a wispy gal in a tattooed white blouse and ornate bodice intrigued me but the continued egg cream chatter and the proprietor’s conversation about the history of Gem Spa and the egg cream kept me distracted and fascinated. It was a cold rainy night and the egg cream and Lit’s goings on and the tasks of Tuesday had me longing for my pillow. I headed home and don’t remember closing my eyes.

My doorbell and frantic puppies woke me at 8 a.m. an hour after my alarm had failed me. When the bell rings that early, it can’t be good. In this case, it was. A delivery of two mysterious brown paper-wrapped packages. After a blurry signature, I opened one up. The wispy gal in the tattooed white blouse and ornate bodice stared at me from the book’s cover. It’s been rare lately that the same girl that put me to sleep was there in the morning to welcome me. Even though she was only 2-D, it felt fabulous. Most of the people I date these days are extremely 1-D. The tome was not really a book but an ambitiously thick magazine with a hard cover. The second issue of Grey was indeed a wakeup call. The fine-printed Spring/Summer ‘10 offered me optimism, even though I could hear frantic taxis splashing all too familiar rain on my daily frenzy. Grey is the work of my jet setting pal/editor, Brantly Martin, and his wife and editor in chief/fashion director, Valentina Ilardi Martin (and, I’m sure, many others). Brantly used to work in clubs as a model wrangler/promoter type and in management. He left in a storm of rumors that were completely untrue except that he had fallen in love and settled in Italy. I ran into him in an obscure deli a few months back as he was passing through New York and he told me then about the new issue. It’s stunning straight through and a wakeup call to finer things and elegant ideas/. You can get it a Gem Spa (and a very excellent egg cream too).

Good Cause in New York; Good Fun in Miami

People in the nightlife biz meet thousands of people. Sometimes that’s in one night. Most of these folks are highly forgettable. Many you remember, but not in a good way. Some are just outstanding. These are the ones that make it all worthwhile. Macdella Cooper is a needle in a haystack type person. She is beautiful, classy, brilliant and gives more of herself than anyone I know. Tomorrow night she is hosting an event to benefit the Macdella Cooper Foundation.

Other hosts include television personality Nolé Marin, Steve Eichner of Fairchild Publications, Devorah Rose of Social Life, Irina Shabeyeva of Project Runway, Brooke Alpert from B Nutritious and Lauren Brody from Glamour . Proceeds go to the MCF Academy for orphans and abandoned children. This is billed as a fashion week finale and features a runway show by designer Melani Von Alexandria. Tyger Lilly will DJ. It’s at Nikki Beach Midtown from 6 to 10 pm. I will not make it and I am sincerely sad as I know it will be a great event. Fun and for a great cause. Alas, I’m stuck in Miami on business.

Miami is just the way I left it a couple years ago. With fun, sun and money on everyone’s agenda. The temperature is in the mid to high 60s during the day and plummets to mid 40s at night. The Floridians are in a panic. They wear huge overcoats or stay home and are constantly complaining. For me it’s positively balmy compared to New York City.

After our 20 person dinner meeting we divided into smallish groups. Mine went to my favorite South Beach haunt Mac’s Club Deuce. It’s a very fine establishment that I have been visiting for many, many years. A place that would make Erik Foss of Lit very proud. Images of Bogie stared approvingly at my rock glass, which was constantly emptied and then immediately reoccupied with Jameson. Rock n’ roll neon and a paired jukebox kept me interested while we watched Shaun White snatch Olympic gold.

My dearest friend Brittany Mendenhall of chichi212 has just been made New York editor for Societe Perrier. Between juggling law books, writing her 1000% improved blog and attending every social event in time, she is gaining more and more respect from me every day. Chichi212 is very hot and I congratulate Brit for her success.