Andy Rourke Talks About The Smiths & This Weekend

This Saturday, August 4th I will whisk myself east for a daytime (2pm to 4pm) DJ gig, poolside at The Montauk Beach House, for the swells that are finding nirvana there. It’s their inaugural year and I’m hoping I won’t blow it for future generations. I’m opening for Andy Rourke (ex-The Smiths). Terry Casey is the resident DJ, and he and Matt Thomas set the whole thing up. I’m excited. I’ll blow by the hated Hamptons in the wee hours and grab a chaise lounge and some sun until called upon to move the masses. I have no idea what to spin to a poolside brunch crowd but figure I’ll start with Bo Diddley’s "I’m a Man" and go from there. Like most DJs, I have over 10,000 tracks to choose from. Many guys have 10x that amount. The crowd has been described to me as intelligent and not desiring of the requisite top 40 that I hear everywhere. DJs mostly just shrug and say things like "I give them what they want.” My second track might be the Stones’ "You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” I try not to plan; it’s usually a waste of time. If the music required could be predicted, iPhones and mixed DJ sets would replace us all. I met up with Andy Rourke at his East Village Radio Show, I brought along photographer Lela Edgar to capture the interview. The three of us slipped next door to Lil’ Frankie’s and enjoyed the atmosphere.

We’re going to work together this Saturday at The Montauk Beach House via Terry Casey. I’m opening for you, not unlike Bowie opening for The Smiths, right? Ok, wrong. What kind of music can be expected?
Well, Steve, me and you go way back; the last time I saw you was in Limelight Club’s VIP attic space –  I think it was 1984!!! Heady days indeed. You can open up for me anytime, but you will never be Bowie 😉 Regarding my DJ policy: I kind of play whatever the fuck I want, but always in a nice way. You have to test/read the crowd and see what they are dancing to. I like this challenge; I tend to play classic songs that have stood the test of time.

I just saw the new Clash documentary, The Rise and Fall of the Clash, at the CBGB Festival. You met Joe Strummer and have a tale. Tell us.
I had the pleasure to meet Joe a couple of times at the Glastonbury Festival. The first time was around his now-legendary camp fire, with some of his crazy but lovable friends; there was usually weed and mushrooms involved. The second time was one year later at Glastonbury again; this time I was playing bass with Badly Drawn Boy. We were chilling in the back of our tour bus and Joe just appeared in the back lounge with the biggest spliff known to mankind and insisted we all partake. We did! Joe will always be sadly missed.

You and your new bride Francesca have been married for three weeks. Congrats! Tell me about being a happy middle-aged rocker
I’m a happy man who just got married to my wife Francesca; that’s all you need to know.

What are you working on?
I have a project with Ole Koretsky called JetLag. It’s taken us a few years to get right and also find the right musicians. Recently, we played four successful gigs in NYC and we are about to film a video to promote one of our songs "Falling Apart.”

Looking back at the bands, the lifestyle, the fame, what are you happy to have left on the table and what would you grab back first?
I had an amazing time with The Smiths…SHIT! When I started with the band I was 17. We split when I was 23. I would leave the band politics on the table and take back the super gang/friend mentality that we had. When we were a team we were invincible!!! Money can’t buy that feeling. Show me the table.

On your East Village Radio Show, you were talking about the Bowie book. Tell me about the show, that book, and the era.
I do my show every Monday on eastvillageradio.com, It’s called JetLag – the same as my band. I play songs that I love and also get to interview some great people. A few weeks ago I interviewed Nile Rogers from Chic, It was an honor. For instance, today I just interviewed Peter Doggett about his new book, The Man Who Sold The World: David Bowie in the 1970s. It was a pleasure to speak with him – lots of insights. It’s a fascinating read.

Andy Rourke

4 Out of 5: Elliot Aronow on New York

Elliot Aronow is co-founder and creative director of RCRD LBL as well as the host and producer of chat/variety program OUR SHOW with Elliot Aronow with guests like James Murphy, Vampire Weekend, Das Racist, and Adam Green. This is his take on four places he likes, and one place he doesn’t.

RECOMMENDED

Grahame Fowler – "If my TV project OUR SHOW had a shop where you could smoke out in the back, play rocksteady, and talk about clothes all day, it would probably look a lot like this mod-inspired West Village spot. The owner is an old skinhead and Northern Soul fan and stocks incredible British brands, many of which are exclusive to the store. This is the big boy step up from Fred Perry swag, Oi!"

Brooklyn Tailors – "Beautiful, functional, and flavorful bespoke suiting and shirting from my main man Danny Lewis.  From your first medium grey ‘it’s my best friend’s wedding’ jump off to your ‘live a little’ blue sharkskin Saturday night martini special, they’ve got you covered. And don’t even get me started on the spread collar shirts, the button down oxfords, the just-right ties, and the cotton trousers. Go! Tell them Elliot sent you."

Book Thug Nation – "One of the best used bookstores in Brooklyn, that most book-loving of boroughs. My punk bros told me a dude from Cometbus is the owner, so that’s even more reason to support. Excellent for vintage-ish editions of classics, philosophy reads, and of course zines! Plus they have a rad cloth print of African rulers hanging up near the register. Dope all around."

Half Gallery – "Cool little spot that features a lot of big time cats like Ed Templeton, Taylor Meade, and this dude Terry Richardson showing their works. The crowd is always sweet, which is a big plus since the place is very, very small. Good date spot too, young bucks."

NOT SO MUCH

Pulino’s – "As a punk rocker I have a strong and historically grounded hate for anything new within a three block radius of the former CBGBs, especially the restaurants (shout to the shrimp and grits at Peels tho). Consider Pulino’s, the culinary equivalent of the dormitory-style condos that surround it, to be the white man’s curse on the neighborhood. To be fair the breakfast pizza is kinna good, but I just don’t support this spot on general principle. Not punk, not tasty. Go to Lil Frankie’s instead."

Industry Insiders: Vinegar Hill House’s Jean Adamson, Sam Buffa, & Brian Leth

Jean Adamson and Sam Buffa met while both were working at Freemans. Their relationship gave way to sharing a love of the food and aesthetic that formed Vinegar Hill House. Sam is also partners with Taavo Somer in the FSC Barbershop. Six months into their Brooklyn venture, the Vinegar Hill House team found Brian Leth, the chef de cuisine since April, formerly of Prune and Allen & Delancey. Leth excites patron with his locally sourced menu with ethnic flairs.

How did you start in the business? Jean Adamson: I started cooking in Salt Lake City, Utah. I had a fascination with cooking and went to the French Culinary Institute. Then I worked for Keith McNally for nine years at Balthazar and Pastis, but it was too easy there for me. I was just expediting the process, so I said, “I have to get out.” I started consulting for Frank Prisinzano of Frank, Supper and Lil’ Frankie’s. I helped him standardize things. I was getting their recipes in order so that in each restaurant everyone was doing the same thing. A friend then called me to say this guy Taavo Somer was looking for a chef at Freeman’s. Their consistency was really poor, and I’m good at producing large amounts of food at once. They were transferring into the first expansion so they needed a day-to-day chef to run everything. So I worked there for three years, and that’s where I met Sam. Sam Buffa: I was helping Taavo with the basic construction of their expansion. At the same time, the space at the front of the alley became available and I proposed the barbershop idea to Taavo. It’s still sort of my day job. Jean and I, from day one, have had similar interests. I always wanted to open a restaurant but had never worked in the field. I always liked the idea of building a restaurant.

How did you come across the space for Vinegar Hill House? JA: When Sam and I met, we were showing off the cool neighborhoods we knew in Brooklyn. I was living in Park Slope at the time, and the next day my landlord came to me and said the carriage house was becoming available in Vinegar Hill. It’s the house behind where the restaurant is now. I told him that I wanted it and I waited a year for it. SB: I told her to ask him about commercial spaces. Once we got the space it was like, “Oh shit now we have to open a restaurant.”

So you did. JA: When we told people about the location they were like, “No way.” When you’re milling around on a bicycle you just end up here. We opened last November after Sam designed the restaurant. We call the downstairs space “the den” and people rent it out for private events. I was the chef but was looking for a way to segue out. Then this gem, Brian, walked in the door. He’s changed the landscape of the restaurant. I always intended on being a local farms and local produce restaurant and he made that happen. He also wanted Brian wanted a Vita-Prep. It’s amazing watching the stuff he makes with it. Brian Leth: I’m a puree guy.

Where have you worked before? BL: I started cooking in New Mexico. A friend of a friend helped steer me towards a job at Prune and I learned a lot there. Then, I worked at Blue Hill and Café des Artistes. I was at Allen & Delancey for about a year. JA: Brian has a broad spectrum of food knowledge from having worked at so many places.

Are you already thinking about the next project? SB: I think its always on our mind. JA: We want to be solid here before the next place.

Something people don’t know about you? JA: That I’m nice. SB: I used to race motorcycles BL: I’m a serious Scrabble player

What are your favorite places? JA, SB, BL: Hotel Delmonico and Rusty Knot.

How about restaurants? BL: Ippudo, Prime Meats, and wd-50. JA, SB: Sripraphai for Hawaiian pizzas, Roberta’s, The Smile, Joe’s Shanghai for soup dumplings.

What’s on your favorite playlist right now? JA, SB: Lady Gaga and talk radio. BL: The Replacements and Steely Dan.

Industry Insiders: Darin Rubell, Gallery Cat

Darin Rubell is transforming the Lower East Side, one arts and culture venue at a time. The owner of Gallery Bar and Ella (opened last fall with partners Josh and Jordan Boyd) is no stranger to the ins and outs of nightlife. Let’s just say it runs in the family — his cousin is legendary Studio 54 owner Steve Rubell.

How’s business? Business is great. Obviously, it’s tougher during a recession. Over the past six months, bars I initially thought were recession-proof have turned out not to be. Everyone has to work a little harder to maintain.

How have you adjusted to become recession-proof? We started a half-price happy hour at Ella. Our cocktails were normally $12, and we started a $6 Happy Hour, which has been tremendously successful. It’s every night from 6-10pm. The response has been great. We have live jazz as well.

How has the clientele at Ella changed since you opened last year? When you first open a place, you have everyone who’s keeping up with the Joneses coming in, and then as the months go on, it starts to become more neighborhood people and more people who actually like the bar. Having regulars is always nicer.

What’s the story with the piano lounge downstairs? It’s a very intimate room, holds around 60 people. We’ve had incredible musicians. Just last week, Ben Taylor — who is James Taylor and Carly Simon’s son — had a video release party, and did a live performance. We love big name bands, but we also like to find acts that are on the cusp. For instance, Diane Birch, who’s been all over the place, was doing a weekly showcase downstairs over the past four months. We have another band from Miami called Big Bounce. It’s a two-man group, with Brandon O’Hara, a guy who plays the piano, and a beat boxer. They come up to play here once a month.

What’s going on at Gallery Bar? Gallery Bar is two and a half years old now, and it’s equally as successful the date it opened until today. It’s a really diverse space, and it lends itself to a lot of different things, whether they’re corporate events, fundraisers, or charities. Every month we change the artist, so all of the art switches.

Did Gallery Bar influence the opening of Collective Hardware? The Lower East Side has always been a place where artists would go because it was very inexpensive, and then everyone started to get priced out of the neighborhood. The art side started to fade for a minute. When we came into the neighborhood, there weren’t a lot of galleries down here. After we opened the space there was a huge influx of artists. It became an artists’ hangout. Galleries in the Lower East Side started opening, slower, slower, slower. Now, I do a map also of all galleries on the LES, and I had 99 galleries for the last one. I had to limit them down to 55 for the purpose of the map. The New Museum is also a tremendous push for art down here. I think that Collective Hardware probably saw this and recognized that this is also, once again, a booming area for art.

What’s the story with your maps? I originally tried to make money off this map and I thought it’d be a great marketing tool. And I realized that it’s very difficult to get money from all the galleries, because these people are moving from other areas because they can’t afford things as is. Then I decided that I was still going to do it because I think it’s necessary, and I was sick of having people come into Gallery Bar and asking about other galleries in the neighborhood. After a month or two, I started to see people walking around the neighborhood with them. I swear to God, every day, I see somebody with that map. It’s important to try to create some unity down here. In Chelsea, all the galleries are in a three-block radius. In the Lower East Side, they’re not. I’m from New York, and I still get confused in the Lower East Side.

True that you’re thinking about expanding Gallery Bar into other cities? I think that a lot of people have tried to combine art and nightlife and have done it unsuccessfully. What they’ll do is they’ll have a dark bar, and then ask artists to put work on the walls, and it gets lost in the environment because there’s a lot going on in a bar already. The concept with Gallery Bar was to make it a gallery first. We make it look like a gallery; make it feel like a gallery; change the artists every day; have art openings; have art closings. I think that this concept has still never been done, and I’d love to bring it to other cities. We’re talking about New Orleans, L.A., Miami.

How did you meet your partners in Ella, Josh and Jordan? I was managing a restaurant called Chango, and I’d hired Josh as a bartender. When Chango started to slow down, we’d always start bouncing ideas off each other. We started writing business plans, and I, at that time, had really wanted to open up a restaurant. Josh really wanted to open up a bar. I actually opened up Mercadito, and he had opened Plan B, and about two years later, we started to think of new projects. I found this place on Orchard Street, and we thought, “Okay, now’s the time.” Josh and Jordan are brothers, and I’m like the third brother.

What’s one piece of advice that you’d give to aspiring restaurateurs or bar owners? I think that a lot of the people who want to get into the business of restaurants and bars have this fantasy about what it’s going to be like. You can’t just walk into it and think that because you want a place and have the money to open up a place that it’s going to succeed. I think like anything, it takes a lot of hard work and a lot of knowledge of the business in order to have success.

Besides hard work and knowledge of the business, what has made you and your partners successful? I think we genuinely love what we do, and any time you love what you do, you’re going to do well. I really believe that.

Who else does it right in nightlife? I really admire Sean MacPherson and Eric Goode. Their design is always so incredibly spot-on, and their properties always seem larger than life.

What are your favorite spots? I’m simple in the fact that I love Lil’ Frankie’s. I like Supper. If you can accomplish something, and make it very simple and inexpensive and for-the-people, then you’ll always be successful. I don’t really like going to the fanciest restaurants and feeling uncomfortable. I feel I’m my happiest in a place that keeps it simple.

The Phenomenal Handclap Band: All Hands on Deck

Eight musicians of different stripes and a gaggle of assorted instruments form the Phenomenal Handclap Band, who took the stage recently during a recent sold-out show at Joe’s Pub. The brainchild of DJs Daniel Collas (producer, songwriter, organ, synthesizers, vox) and Sean Marquand (producer, songwriter, synthesizers), the collective from Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn have seamlessly synthesized common threads of funk, psychedelic rock, disco, electro, and prog rock into authenticity-testing airs of nostalgia. The songs on their recently released self-titled debut are also undeniably dance floor-worthy—“15 to 20” was labeled by Rolling Stone “the first summer jam of 2009″—but Collas and Marquand are quick to distance themselves from ‘party band’ labels. “We want people to have a good time at our show of course, but I think that there’s a lot more to what it is than just being some pastiche of dance music,” says Marquand. We met Collas and Marquand—who’ll be playing at Le Poisson Rouge Wednesday night—at their favorite East Village hangout, Lil’ Frankie’s Pizza before the last show, waxing on their debut, their drawing board, and their Swedish obsession.

You guys started out as DJs together. How did that partnership begin, and then how did it evolve into its current incarnation of the Phenomenal Handclap Band? Sean Marquand: We only DJed a little bit together. Daniel and I have had a strong connection with records for a long time—our friendship started with mutual appreciation for certain records. Daniel’s got a real knack for finding this kind of incredible combo between soul records and rock records, which I feel really comes out in the Handclap record. And to this day, it’s almost like there’s a class of records that were made for Daniel in a way. What it is really is inspiration for the band. It’s a genre of music trying to do a different genre. There are all these amazing soul records doing rock, and all these amazing rock groups doing soul. Daniel Collas: A lot of it is just one-off records that we end up finding and some of them are 45s and you don’t ever find out what the band is or what they look like or anything, but you can just kind of tell from the sound because I think especially in the late ‘60s—but until the mid to late ‘70s—there’s a lot of crossover. There are white guys, even like Michael McDonald or Bobby Caldwell, who really try and cross over to the black market, for lack of a better term. Even Led Zeppelin really started trying to sound as black as possible. As a DJ, it’s your nature to gravitate towards more oddball, obscure stuff and to have the stuff that nobody else has.

For example, you drew inspiration for the album from 70s Brazilian funk. How did you get into that? SM: Well Daniel was into more of that rock/soul stuff, and I was more into ‘60s and ‘70s Brazilian funk. I used to live in Brazil, so I came back with a hundred records, and then unfortunately when I lived in New York I bought a bunch more records after that from Brazil, which stinks. I should have gotten those when I was there. I got super into Brazilian records and that was one of the things that Daniel and I started connecting on. I got a whole bunch of amazing psych and soul records from Brazil. DC: And that’s the weird thing, even though that stuff happened in Brazil, and the stuff that I was into was by and large American—well I guess it’s not really that much of a coincidence because I think American music was very influential on every other country—the stuff that he was playing me was exactly the sound that I was into but I had no way of ever hearing because I’d never been to Brazil.

How did the eight of you come together as a collective and start recording? DC: Well, when we actually recorded, it was me and Sean and then our rhythm section, the guitar player, the bass player, and the drummer. And the initial idea was to get all these people I’d been working with either in the capacity of a musician or DJ or just in nightlife… It was sort of cinematic. If you went through a list of people you had run into in your travels in last five years, and you’re like “Okay, this guy, this guy, this guy” you know, people you’d kept in touch with and knew that you should work with on some level. And this record was like that coming to fruition in a way. And then when it came time to actually figure out how we’re going to play it—because we didn’t think we really wanted to do it live, we just wanted to make this record—we needed to put it together. And everyone involved with the record up to that point was interested in playing live with us, luckily.

Do you find that it’s ever difficult to collaborate and share a common vision with eight different people? SM: Sometimes, yeah. It’s difficult to get a single idea out of eight different creative people and there are so many issues with personal ego and personal expression that are difficult to navigate. But once you come to a certain idea that everyone agrees on, then it’s great. It’s really exciting. There are so many compromises, but we do want it to sound like us no matter what, and that’s always been the goal. We had an idea of what the record should sound like and then in a way for me it turned out the way I hoped it would. And I can’t imagine being a painter and actually being able to draw an orange and having it come out looking like an orange. I would never be able to do that. But it was nice to have that with the record. It came out the way I wanted it. DC: As a band though, the refreshing thing about these eight people is that everybody wants what’s best for the band. I’ve been in bands that are half the size which were way stronger in the ego department and not for any good reason, but just because they want their idea to come across, as opposed to what’s best for the band.

Were you ever skeptical about how mixing so many genres would turn out? SM: Well we left out a whole bunch of types of records we loved as influences….There’s no reggae on the record, there’s very little Latin, a little Chicano here and there, there’s almost no South American except for Brazil. There’s a whole bunch of stuff that we love that we didn’t incorporate, but all of the stuff that we did let influence us did have a certain continuity rhythmically. Like a prog rock record will have some really interesting drums on it and a rhythm section to it and that’s the same thing as a psyc rock record or a soul record.

You mentioned some of the other records and sounds that you love. Do you plan on incorporating those into any future projects? SM: Yeah, there are so many nooks and crannies in records that inspire us. Hopefully we’re not staying too close to those. It’s nice to use those as a platform, an inspiration, but at the same time, we don’t want to remake each record. The original records are good enough as they are. They were enough to blow me away, so there’s no reason to go and redo any of that stuff. DC: We’d also worked on this record before with this Brazilian band who had made one record in the ‘70s. And then I made a record with this soul singer who hadn’t made a record in 20 years. Both of those records were reviewed really favorably by people that we care about, but at the same time, the other press seemed to be saying wow, this is like a time capsule. Which is complementary, but at the same time you get sick of hearing that it sounds like it’s from another era. Most of the records I have are older records, but I don’t want someone to be confused with “this is an old record.” I like the aesthetics and I like the warmth and the feelings behind those records, but this is a record we’re making now. SM: Even people who are doing what is probably universally accepted as revivalist music, they’re not really making the same old records that they remind people of… Some of my favorite records from the ‘70s have the most amazing drum sounds, and we went in that direction as much as we could but at the same time, we’re trying to make a record that we thing makes sense today. We’re listening to a lot of records that are happening today as well and we’re also informed by that.

So which contemporary artists are you informed by? SM: All that Northern European dance music really interests me a lot. DC: Lykke Li. SM: Basically everyone from Sweden (laughs). DC: But then a lot of the obvious choices that you would see on people’s top ten lists we would definitely hear that stuff and we’re like wow, that’s incredible. For me, about five years ago, there’s no way that I would listen to any indie rock at all, it’s the last thing that I was interested in. But especially when you make music yourself you realize wow, there’s so much that goes into this. And even bands that I don’t personally like, I get. I totally get. Like, oh: this is why everyone is talking about them. This is something incredible that nobody’s ever done before. I respect so much of what’s going on now.

The Rick’s Cabaret Guide to New York

Where do the dancing girls of publicly traded flesh palace Rick’s Cabaret like to hang when they aren’t putting themselves through school? Sure, you saw the stripper interviews yesterday, but wouldn’t you rather get intimate with the source material? After the jump, the Rick’s lovelies page throuh our “notes” regarding where the ladies kick it when they’re not working the pole. Can you get a Pulitzer for blue balls?

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Jennifer’s Picks:, Son Cubano, Little Branch, Bourgeois Pig, Boss Tweeds, Le Souk

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Becky’s picks: Dos Caminos, Blue Water Grill, La Zarza, Lil’ Frankie’s, Rick’s, Kum Gang San, Wildwood, Ace Bar, Mason Dixon, Boss Tweeds, Little Branch, PDT, Lucky Cheng’s

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Jazz’s picks: Cielo, Pink Elephant, Esperanto, Cafe Mogador Suzy’s Picks: 7B, Niagara, The Box, Apothéke, Big Wong King, Rick’s

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Lydia Hearst: Intern at Large

Yesterday, supermodel/heiress Lydia Hearst served as BlackBook intern, laboring on a variety of in-office and extramural activities. We had her review restaurants, shops, and bars for the BlackBook guides, but that was just the beginning. Lydia stuffed holiday gift boxes with guidebooks, then delivered them to friends and colleagues around the city via taxi and subway. We had to remind her to return the loaner Metrocard, as oddly enough, she didn’t have her own! Lydia even delivered a very important envelope to our beloved nightlife columnist Steve Lewis at Webster Hall, where he was recovering following an arduous redesign of the historic club. The envelope was actually empty, but we figured we’d reward Uncle Steve with some supermodel eye-candy after all the hard work he’s done for us this year (apparently he has a thing for youthful model types).

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Though Lydia turned in a solid day of unpaid interning, she declined to come back today — something about a trip to Paris and “not being in town for the next few weeks.” Apparently, supermodels make great interns in the short term only. Even though she forgot extra Splendas for the coffees — fucking amateur! — we’re glad she graced us with her presence for the day. See the accompanying gallery of her internly adventures. And since no one escapes BlackBook’s clutches without adding to our collected wisdom, check out Lydia’s recommendations for having a good time worldwide.

New YorkPop Burger – “Impeccably trendy burger café with dark, retro vibe, private rooms for events, and to-die-for food. Sit with friends, have a bite and dance among the celeb set or get a burger and fries to go any time of day.” ● Patsy’s – “Celeb fave also a hit with discriminating food enthusiasts, been around since 1944.” ● Patricia Field – “Incredible, hip, chic shop packed with a mix of models, celebs and hipsters. A cult and edgy downtown landmark, filled with fresh fashion trends (thus inspiring Sex and the City) plus a salon below. A must-stop shop!” ● F.A.O. Schwartz – “Must see New York City. Famous place has hardly changed since its film debut in Tom Hanks’ classic kid flick Big. Much more than a store; it’s a bona fide attraction stuffed with every toy imaginable in larger than life sizes (or even pocket size). Check out the candy bar on the second floor, or pull up a stool at the milkshake café below with the entire fam.” ● Lil’ Frankies – “Simply irresistible Italian filled with locals, artist and bold names. Every dish from their custom-built brick oven is delectable, creative and reasonably priced. Start with Focaccino: pizza dough sliced in half, filled with creamy cheese and prosciutto, then baked with truffle oil drizzled on top. Trust me! Next, ordering your main course. Perfect place to bring a date or chill with friends without the hassle of reservations. Delivery and take-out if you feel like staying in.” ● Taschen – “One-of-a-kind art, fashion and design books. Famous for having published one of the biggest and most expensive books ever printed (GOAT – A Tribute to Muhammad Ali). Comfy reading chairs in the elegant, sleek Soho store are ideal for perusing a hard-to-find title. What’s on display is not necessarily all they have – ask their knowledgeable, friendly staff to check out more obscure tomes and rare prints.” ● Fisch for the Hip – “Stealth consignment shop that’s a well-kept secret among models, socialites and celebs. I won’t dare reveal their names (since many request special delivery and shopping hours) but this is one of the hottest shops in Manhattan. High quality, vintage, rare and seasonal treasures make it hard to believe the affordable prices. Loaded with upscale designer merchandise like Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Chanel, Nina Ricci and many more. Fret not: their staff is fully versed on the history of every individual piece and whether or not its been previously worn on or off the red-carpet.”

LondonThe Loft – “Incredibly unique shop in London’s Covent Garden. Famous among jet-setting, trendsetting crowd for buying and selling designer clothes and accessories for both men and women. Many of the pieces in the shop are one-of-a-kind and straight from the catwalks.” ● Westbourne House – “One of London’s trendiest places, seems inspired by a Manhattan loft — making New Yorkers feel right at home. Extremely elegant with contemporary, sophisticated vibe. Perfect for kicking-back and lounging with friends over spot-on signature cocktails.” ● The Champagne Bar at St. Pancras – “Must-stop London landmark, also the largest European champagne bar. Spot upper class society hobnobbing with a dram. Great people watching over the finest Champagnes and custom Champagne cocktails.” ● Harrods – “Harrods is enchanting. Whether working with personal shoppers or walking through the many corridors anything and everything can be found to satisfy even the most fickle of shoppers. And, the Egyptian escalator is NOT to be missed.” ● Rococo Chocolates – “Who can resist chocolate? These folks show their appreciation for the Aztec bean with decadent and savory treats like must-try chocolate ravioli.”

ParisKong – “Trendy, cutting edge Philippe Starck-designed stunner with a fabulous view overlooking the river Seine. Sex and the City fanatics will recognize it from the series finale.” ● Barrio Latino – “Four-story bar-resto famous pulsating Latin music. Classically decorated and fun for everyone.” ● Bar du Plaza – “One of the flashiest bars in Paris. Two seductive lounge areas filled with hotel guests, locals and celebs. Fabulous date place but also a choice friend hang out. Don’t miss custom cocktails and American-style jello shots … you’ll be back!”

Industry Insiders: Taavo Somer, Rustic Freeman

Freeman’s and Rusty Knot co-owner Taavo Somer talks about his failed busboy career, the proper use of porno paneling, and why he strives for simplicity when doing three jobs at once.

Point of Origin: I moved here when I was 27, for a job at Steven Holl Architects. And my first day was an immediate wake-up call that it wasn’t gonna work out. I had been working in big firms for years, and this was my dream job. And when that disillusionment came, I thought: screw architecture. I’ll do something else. A friend there knew Serge Becker. I thought I’d be a busboy, learn to tend bar. When I met him, he was like, “Why do you want to work in a bar? I have no busboy openings but I have a project.” It turned out to be Lever House, which he was working on with John McDonald, and the designer Marc Newson. Serge didn’t have a trained architect in his office, so he said, “Do this until a busboy position opens up!”

Occupations: I co-own Freeman’s and the Rusty Knot. I was going to throw a big New Year’s party at a club Serge was opening in Brooklyn. The club didn’t open in time, and Serge felt bad, so he introduced me to this space on Chrystie Street. The landlord was cool with the party, but he said we had to use the alley entrance off Rivington. As soon as I saw the alley, the party dissolved, and I wanted to open a café. I already had a concept for a restaurant, and I just put the concept in the space. That’s how Freeman’s came about. The Rusty Knot is a 1950s nautical bar, really mellow, cheap materials, cheap drinks, 50-cent pool table, free jukebox. It’s got porno paneling, you know, fake wood like the Calvin Klein basement ads. The building itself is pretty unremarkable. But if you find yourself being a snob about something, my instinct would be to embrace and explore it, and that’s when epiphanies occur. It’s born from the location on the West Side highway. It’s not beautiful.

Side Hustle: I never wanted to do just one thing. When I was first in New York I was spending a lot of time in NoLita, which back then was really kinda cool. I started going into Selvedge and lamenting with Carlos [Quirarte, now of Ernest Sewn] about the state of New York nightlife, how there’s no Mudd Club. Where was the good rock party? So we decided to throw our own at the Pussycat Lounge. I started making T-shirts. And we sold them at Selvedge. Then we got in trouble, because the owners didn’t know. But they sold out. If I didn’t have the discipline I learned from architecture I wouldn’t be making clothes today. Now, we have Freeman’s Sporting Club. I design suits and shirts. The aesthetic of the restaurant definitely influenced the aesthetic of the clothing and the store itself. There’s also a barbershop in the store, and we just opened another, FSC Barber, on Horatio Street.

Favorite Hangs: Between Freeman’s and the Rusty Knot, there’s only a couple of nights a week that I’m free. I go to the Spotted Pig, because it’s like family there. I usually eat dinner at Il Buco once a week. I still go to Frank and Lil’ Frankie’s once in awhile … I have friends there. I go to a lot of the dive bars that I used to go to, like Joe’s Bar. In London I go to Rules, and in LA, for whatever reason, I like going to Dan Tana’s.

Industry Icons: Luc Levy, who owns Café Gitane. I love his set-up … he’s got his spot, it’s been open for 11 years, one owner … it’s an effortless business plan. Serge Becker, definitely. You could throw out ideas, and if he used it, he’d always credit you. This guy Jason Mclean from the old Loring Café, in Minneapolis. The place had Shakespeare one night, and a gypsy wedding the next, just weird shit happening. Freeman’s got its artichoke dip from there. Sean McPherson and Eric Goode, too. Even though they have a lot of projects, they’re still hands-on and obsessing about doorknobs. When I designed Gemma, I would go antiquing with them and saw just how much they labored over small details.

Known Associates: William Tigertt is my partner for Freeman’s and Freeman’s Sporting Club. My partner at the Rusty Knot is Ken Friedman, who also owns the Spotted Pig and is about to open John Dory. There are a lot of musicians that I love. My friends, kids I grew up with, are in the Hold Steady. I like what they’re doing. Their approach to music, in contrast with what’s happening in the rest of the industry, is really pretty awesome.

What are you doing tonight? I’ll be upstate. I have a house. I’ll just cook and hang out and garden.