The Most Hated and Loved Man’s Birthday & The Vinatta Project Gossip

All the unusual suspects will gather for DJ-club god Michael T’s birthday. I have never loved or hated someone as much as Michael, and that’s in the first 10 minutes every time I meet him. He can be oh-so-sweet and oh-so-sour, but his heart is always in the right place. There was this one time — I’m going to stop there, as we all have stories. He remains my favorite DJ who isn’t named Paul Sevigny. How can someone so ageless have so many birthdays? He’s celebrating two on one day…tonight.

The first of Michael’s birthday parties, according to the invite, is from 8pm till 1am at La Bottega at Maritime Hotel, 363 W. 16th St. The second runs from 11pm till 4am at Beauty Bar, 231 E. 14th St. There seems to be an overlap, and I suspect that the wily Mr. T is employing one of those Tupac hologram thingys or something like that. I’m always confused if it"s Michael Tee or "T.” In either case I will show up at one of these soirees to celebrate my friend’s fabulousness – probably at Beauty Bar so I can dine at IHOP right after. Michael is so thoughtful like that.

Everybody I know (from some circles) is off to Sundance to overpopulate the tiny hamlet of Park City, Utah. I spent a year there one night. I am being inundated with invites, but everyone knows I gave up the snow years ago. I’ve actually never gone to Sundance, as ski slopes and roller coasters and jumping from airplanes are for my next incarnation. I do love a good film though, and I hear they’re showing some in between, before and after all those parties. Noah and his Strategic Group have taken over some underground garage facility, decorated it, and snazzed it up, and are ready to show all how it is done. I would love to check out Park City Live, the newly renovated hot spot that always books national acts. My pal Kathryn Burns is living her dreams there.

Monday (after BINGO) I will attend the Benefit Concert for Animals hosted by Wesly Wang, Geri Gongora, Dava She Wolf, and sponsored by Alacran Tequila and Forever Young wine at Sullivan Hall, 214 Sullivan St.  The Bashers – featuring musicians from Guns N’Roses, Soul Asylum, X-Pensive Winos, Uptown Horns – and others will lead the way. The Planets will also perform. Bands start at 9:30pm and they’re asking for a minimum of $10 at the door.

On Sunday the rockers will descend on Manitoba’s for the 14th annual anniversary extravaganza. It’s billed as the first great party of ’13 – and I’m a believer (unless someone actually plays that track). It’s running from 1pm to 4am, and is a "15-hour rock and roll party at 100MPH.” There will be munchies and drink specials, and the football games will be shown. Handsome Dick Manitoba and his lovely wife Zoe Hanson will host.

The other day, a reliable source whispered to my always open, rather large and sometimes naive ears that the building where The Vinatta Project thrives was bought by Matt Levine. It simply isn’t true. Matt reports: "I have no involvement at 69 Gansevoort at this time. Let me get The Rowhouse Inn open first before myself and Michael start opening up more spaces in the Meatpacking, haha."

Well, at least my boy got that Rowhouse part right. Rael Petit, a friend of mine and partner and manager over at Vinatta, 69 Gansevoort, asked me to clarify. He’s at Sundance doing diners for his Mulberry Project and Vinatta. I caught up with him before he jetted off. He told me Fridays and Saturdays are slammed at Vinatta with a great crowd listening to resident DJ Mok. He tells me the Tuesday-through-Thursday crowd are filled with the locals and are for my tastes. I’m summoned to check it next week when he’s back. The official line from them is :

“The Vinatta Project opened its doors in November 2011 in the bustling Meatpacking District. In the constantly evolving restaurant statosphere, The Vinatta Project embodies all of the components of a perfect night out–delicious food, complete beverage program, friendly service an a hip yet inviting atmosphere.  The menu features a selection of Contemporary American dishes including Paella Spring Rolls, made with Shrimp, Chorizo, Jalapeño and Smoked Paprika Aioli, Tuna Tartare with a Crispy Wonton and Wasabi Greens and NY Strip, served with Chimichurri, Polenta Croutons and Pickled Red Onion.

Vinatta also features a robust beverage program, complete with hand-crafted bespoke cocktails created by some of the best mixologists in NYC, and a selection of artisan spirits. Vinatta is open for weekend brunch, special events or even catered parties.”

Yesterday,  my very secret whisper-in-my-ear source, who obviously is right most of the time but not all (the price of being fast and first), says that The Shadow space on W. 28th St. has a new operator. Shadow was owned and operated by the old-school, wonderful Steven Juliano.  He, according to my source, has settled on a buyer which my source says is one of the premier operating  groups. I know who it is, but I’m going to double and triple check before I tell you.

Punk Rock Royalty Handsome Dick Manitoba on His Band ‘Manitoba’

Tonight, I will be DJing at the ever fabulous Yotel for the ever fabulous Mr. Patrick Duffy and his crew. That crew includes Darian Darling, Roxy Cottontail, Mint and Serf, and Henry De La Paz. Patrick always gathers wonderful crews. I will be joined in the booth by DJ Lady Starlight and am honored to be spinning with her. They are even promising a contortionist. The party is called Kung Fu Disco, as everyone is popping on the Chinese New Year. My set, which covers 55 years of rock and roll, leans heavily on the punk era. Handsome Dick Manitoba is punk rock royality. His bands, The Dictators and Manitoba’s Wild Kingdom, rocked my world for decades. Still, though he is a rock star, he is also a saloon keeper, a husband to the insanely beautiful and smart Zoe Hanson, and a father. His bar Manitoba’s is mentioned in way too many of my friends’ sloppy conversations. Tomorrow night, he is offering up his new band Manitoba and I asked him all about it.

When I DJ, I still put on "Stay With Me," a song from your Dictator days. It always delivers. Your new band Manitoba will debut this Thursday, January 26th at The Bowery Electric as part of the birthday celebration for Jesse Malin. Tell me about the new band and how it differs from the Dictators ?
People WANT the Dictators all the time. For 13 years, at my bar, I have listened to people parade in and ask me, "When are The Dictators playing?" Well, Scott is busy with the Del Lords, Andy with his solo project, and Ross The Boss, JP, and I – all Dictators –  were chomping at the bit to get out there and play live. So we got together with Daniel Rey (Ramones, Manitoba’s Wild Kingdom, Ronnie Spector), and this great bass player, Dean "The Dream" Rispler, and decided to "give the people what they want." We are starting out celebrating the rock and roll we have helped to create in the Dictators and Manitoba’s Wild Kingdom. And we are doing some of our favorite covers. Original stuff? Comin’ down the pike in a little while. Why rush now?We just wanna go out and have some fun. If there is ONE thing that clearly differs, there is LESS TENSION (A GOOD THING? A BAD THING? I dunno, you’ll have to let US KNOW!) on stage and at rehearsals.
 
Tell me about the name "Handsome Dick Manitoba." A new generation of punks might not know its origin.
Handsome (because I AM!) taken from Handsome Jimmy Valiant (’70s wrestling tag team, "The Valiant Brothers"), a bad guy or "HEEL" as it’s known in the parlance. My HERO. He always bragged about himself. Dick/Richard is my name. Manitoba?Just "sounded right," better than BLUM, my birth name, for a rock and roll band, anyway!
 
Rock and Roll is still thriving in the cracks.  Is selling records harder than ever and is there more money in touring than before?
Brother, I live "IN THE CRACKS." As Scott "Top Ten" Kempner (Del-Lords, Dictators) once said, "We are not in the record business, we are in the Dictators (NOW MANITOBA) business." Call me romantic, idealistic, or whatever, but I think there is always a spot in people’s hearts, some room, for great live rock and roll.
 
Tell me about the bar you own. You just celebrated –  what was it – 14 or 15 years?
Close enough, Steve. Starting our 14th year. My clubhouse, my hangout. A physical manifestation of keeping alive this great culture from whence I come!
 
What new bands are you into?
NEW???.Some. Here’s what I LOVE at the moment: Butch Walker,Deadbeat Poets, The Biters, Stupidity.  I love The Len Price 3 (LP: Pictures), Palmyra Delran, Make Out, Nick Curran & The Lowlifes, Soundtrack Of Our Lives…jeez, so many great artists, so underappreciated. Lots of stuff we play on my radio program on Little Steven’s Underground Garage, on Sirius XM Radio. LOTS OF STUFF!