Prema Is Absolutely Your New Favorite NYC Salon

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Lower East Side mainstay and BlackBook favorite Prema has a new couple in charge. Hair and makeup gurus-turned-married couple Nick and Gregg Lennon Jr. have taken over Prema’s Lower East Side location, with the goal of turning the space into a haven for all of the city’s coolest creatives.

Launched in 2004 by Francesco Ruggerino with its first location in Bondi, Australia, Prema has been a radical force in the industry for over a decade. With two locations in Australia (Bondi and Surry Hills), the salon set up shop on Stanton Street in 2014. Walking through the neighborhood, there’s no shortage of quirky hair salons; but there’s none like Prema anywhere in the city.

To celebrate their appointment last month, Gregg and Nick threw a “Paint It Black” party in which the space got its ’80s goth makeover. With all black everything and a giant painting of Edward Scissorhands, it’s no wonder Prema is the go-to salon for some of NYC’s freaks, influencers and artists.

 

But it’s not just the top of the line stylists and unforgettable vibe that make Prema our new staple. As part of the queer community, Gregg and Nick are dedicated to making the salon an all-inclusive and safe space rooted in community activism. The duo plans to initiate “salon nights” at the salon, in which members of the community can come together for events and to engage in creative conversations. In the future, the partners also plan to produce events in which proceeds will benefit different LGBTQ charities.

 

Since its opening in 2004, Prema has developed a reputation for creating cutting edge looks with unique products, including Ruggerino’s own line, ANTI, (which is sold at the salon) and an innovative aesthetic. The owner has brought the same ethos to the Lower East Side, with the help of Gregg, Nick, and their team of leading stylists.

 

Prema is located at 101 Stanton Street in the Lower East Side. The salon is open Tuesday through Friday from 11AM to 9PM, and until 7PM on Saturday and Sunday.

‘Boom For Real’ Chronicles Basquiat’s Life as a Homeless NYC Teen (Watch)

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Photo by Alexis Adler

 

Everyone knows the name Jean-Michel Basquiat. Throughout the ’70s and ’80s, he became one of the world’s most influential artists, responsible for revolutionizing the New York art scene by popularizing street art and promoting a radical, political message. But before his paintings were selling for $110,000,00 at auction, Basquiat was living as a homeless teen in NYC’s East Village.

A new documentary, Boom For Real, explores this pivotal time in the artist’s life, which undoubtedly impacted his work and career. From the prevalence of drugs, crime and violence that he witnessed (in the documentary, director Sara Driver shows how his famous tag “SAMO” came from Basquiat seeing the “same ‘ol shit”), to his experiences with class struggle, these themes were at the center of the artist’s work until his untimely death in 1988. While most of the other films about the painter, like Tamra Davis’ 2010 Radiant Child documentary, touch on Basquiat’s career and the effect he’s had on contemporary art, Boom For Real sheds light on his life before fame, and how those experiences shaped him as an artist.

In theaters May 11. Watch the trailer, below.

 

 

A Lower East Side Staycation: The Ludlow Hotel

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Not all that long ago, New York’s Lower East Side was mostly populated by skint artists, insalubrious rockers, the narcotically challenged and an ethnic mix of people to whom it was just, well, home. There were also only two real places to eat: Katz’s Deli and El Sombrero. You prepped for a four-band bill at the Mercury Lounge with cheap tacos and tequila shots—and attempted to stave off hangovers with a 4 am knish.

Now the neighborhood flaunts Michelin stars and international luxury hotel brands—grumbling about the past won’t change anything. But wildly successful hotelier Sean MacPherson was actually a central figure in the notorious heyday of Downtown NYC nightlife. And his first LES property, The Ludlow—opened in 2014—feels as perfectly Lower East Side as The Bowery Hotel feels East Village (and The Marlton feels West Village).

Admittedly, weekend late nights on the LES can now find one navigating what feels like a casting call for The Bachelorette. But plan right, and you can also enjoy a fabulous Saturday and Sunday here, without ever going north of Houston Street.

Here’s how to do it.

 


1431 Ludlow Hotel

Loft King Room at The Ludlow

Saturday

Noon: Arrive at The Ludlow, drop your bags, request an upper floor room with a sprawling city view. Take leisurely a stroll, arriving for lunch at Dudleys, a groovy all day affair where you can order everything from rice bowls to cheese toasties to schnitzel salads.
3 PM:  Check in, spend a lazy hour flopping around on the extremely comfy bed, while raiding the minibar and taking in the glorious New York panorama.
4 PM:  Pop out to contemporary galleries like Richard Taittinger, Rachel Uffner and Marianne Boesky, to get a vibe on the burgeoning LES art scene—which has been stealing the conversation away from Chelsea. Stop in for a naughty souvenir at Babeland.

 

Taittinger Gallery

Richard Taittinger Gallery

 

1495 Dirty French/The Ludlow

Dirty French at The Ludlow
7 PM:  Settle in one of the cushy Lobby Bar sofas, order up grilled oysters and a round of particularly stiff tipples, like the Ludlow Gimlet and the bourbon based Pigalle. Groove to your fave Prince, Talking Heads and Duran Duran classics, which make up the hotel’s retro cool soundtrack.
8 PM: Do early cocktails at the sceney Leadbelly, or catch the next indie darling at the Rockwood Music Hall.
10 PM: Late dinner at Dirty French, the hotel’s supremely buzzy restaurant, which serves up surprising takes on French classics like Provencal scallops, short rib Bordelaise and duck a l’orange. It’s a particularly electric scene after 9pm.
Midnight: Watch Scorcese’s Gangs of New York back in your room. It’s set in turn of the century LES.

 


Sunday

10 AM: Order up room service coffee.
11 AM: Take a walk around the Lower East Side when it’s actually quiet. If the weather isn’t cooperating, pop in to the Tenement Museum for an enlightening  bit of LES history.
Noon:  Have the hotel book ahead for brunch at the perpetually cool Freemans. Hard to imagine, but when Taavo Somer opened it in 2004, there was nothing else like it (old-timey style, plentiful taxidermy, classic Americana cuisine). Despite the scores of imitators since, it’s still the hippest and the best. Indulge in such hearty fare as baked skillet eggs shakshuka, buttermilk pancakes and stone-ground cheddar cheese grits.

 

Freeman's Restaurant NYC

Freemans

 

New Museum Bowery NYC

New Museum

 

2 PM: Check out the current exhibitions (which at the moment include Nicole Eisenman’s Al-ugh-ories and Andra Ursuta’s Alps) at the New Museum, one of NYC’s most forward-thinking art institutions.
3 PM: Take a caffeine break at Caffe Vita, which, despite the Italian moniker, is actually an export from Seattle, serving exquisitely realized, house roasted coffee.
4 PM: Undertake a uniquely LES shopping spree, including stops at the Odd and Assembly boutiques, and a retro vinyl pilgrimage to Deadly Dragon Sound.
7 PM: Believe the hype with dinner at Ivan Ramen. Start with furikake spare ribs, before moving on to the delectable main events, like chicken dan dan and spicy red chili ramen.
9 PM: Join the local cocktail disciples warming the seats Attaboy, a sophisticated spot lorded over by Milk & Honey alums  Sam Ross and Michael McIlroy. There’s no drinks menu…so consider it an adventure and an edification.

 


Monday

9 AM:  Have a lazy breakfast of smoked salmon scramble and crispy potato pancakes at Clinton Street Baking Company, before checking out and showing up late to the office.

 

1471 Ludlow Hotel

The Ludlow

The Secret Underground Acres of The LES: What’s Next For The Lowline Project

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A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I was being chased by some people with ill-intent and I ended up on what is today known as The High Line. It was dawn, and there was grass and flowers and I dodged the bird nests at my feet. Dogs were barking to their humans that I was there, in apartments lining the route. I had no idea that one day tourists and New Yorkers would enjoy the decaying old train tracks as a park. People who think outside of the box made a crazy dream come true. Tonight at The Box nightclub,189 Chrystie St. – where dreams come true by thinking “outside” the box – a benefit will bring another crazy idea closer to fruition.

An old friend, Steven Lau of Laudable Events, has invited me to the Lowline Benefit Concert. Performances by Mike Snow, Au Revoir Simone, Kurima, MGMT etc. will bring a superb crowd. The $200 ticket price will ensure greatness.

The Lowline is a concept that needs to become a reality. Underground in the L.E.S. are acres of beautiful vaulted abandoned train tracks and stations and such. For 60 years they have been home only to those that dwell in the dark (not talking about Bushwick hipsters). The geniuses pushing for this have figured out a way to gather sunlight elsewhere and, through fiber optics and ingenuity, collect that light and bring it underground. They’ll grow plants and grass and trees and a culture. This is why we live in New York. Someday this will exist, and tonight is your chance to contribute to that day.

Steven Lau answered a few questions and Lowline guru Daniel Barasch also weighed in.

What is your connection to the Lowline and how did you get involved?
Steven Lau:I had a group of friends to my house in Bucks County for the weekend a couple years ago and Dan Barasche, one of the founders of the Lowline was a guest of a mutual friend. In the kitchen over a few bottles of wine one night, he explained his and his partner James Ramsey’s vision of building an underground park in an acre-wide, abandoned trolley station on the Lower East Side. I was completely captivated by the idea as well as Dan’s passion for the project and wanted to be involved in any way I could. I was honored to be asked to join the team as a founding board member. Since the Lowline is hyper-focused on art, music, innovation, and culture, my role has been to help out on these fronts, which is where my strengths lie and what we are doing with Laudable Artists, our consulting company.

There will always be a dialogue and comparisons to The High Line. What are the differences? What is your role?
Lau: There are obvious comparisons to The High Line, and the name is even a nod, but the Lower East Side is a very different place then the Meatpacking District and Chelsea.

We’re not your average charity and, from a cultural standpoint, we are trying to do things that are, well, a little bit more…I’m not going to say the grossly over- abused P word… but in this case we are talking about the Lower East Side, the actual birthplace of CBGB’s, The Beastie Boys, Patti Smith, Lou Reed, Robert Mapplethorpe, The Ramones, Keith Harring, as well a myriad of other artistic icons. We’re trying to keep this real, doing cool things like hosting anti-galas in abandoned warehouses, mash-up musical events that feature artists from different bands, and throwing parties at The Box.

We do need to raise a significant amount of money, but this isn’t just about outreach to high-end donors. It’s about engaging everyone in the community that wants to be involved in whatever way possible.

Another difference from The High Line is that we don’t just want a passive park. We want a vibrant community arts space with a deep connection to local residents, along with compelling cultural draws for visitors from NYC and around the world. 

And of course we have a green tech solution, which offers a more resilient future cityscape.

Who will the Lowline serve and how?
Lau:The Lowline is being built to support multiple communities. The local neighborhood, the artists, musicians, and performers, young people, and people from outside the neighborhood as a destination, a community center/ art cultural attraction/ beautiful public space…

Tell me about Absolut’s role in this.
Lau:We’re working with Absolut Vodka to create an Absolut Lowline drink in bars throughout the Lower East Side. Their sponsorship of the Lowline reflects a long-term commitment to downtown creative culture.

Daniel Barasch weighed in:

“We’re trying to build a community-driven movement while celebrating Lower East Side history. The Lowline site could easily become a soulless parking lot, a bland storage facility, or a bargain basement for a TJ Maxx.  In the absence of activism, it probably was destined for such a fate.

But in New York, where we’ve always had to fight for public space, we also know it’s always worth the effort. The Lowline will truly makes its mark."

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Sutra For Sale: Owner Ariel Palitz Explains Why

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A couple weeks ago, a client called me and asked if Sutra, that First Avenue joint owned and operated by Ariel Palitz was a good buy. After an eight-year run, Ariel has decided to say goodbye and leaked the news to connected people. I told my guy it was a good buy. Ariel and I worked on the Nightlife Community thing when I was associated with the New York Nightlife Association. She is a member of the community board, CB3, and therefore sees nightlife from many angles. Community boards are manned and womaned by locals who have a local viewpoint of what should be happening in the neighborhood they live in. Bars and clubs and such are often with odds with new development and people who don’t want to live near these late-night attractions. The not-in-my-backyard crowd (NIMBY’s) wants to turn vibrant cultural neighborhoods into bedroom communities. The flipside of this, of course, is that NYC is a place that has always been know for these late-night places, to the point that it has been dubbed, "The City That Never Sleeps." Outside of my crowd, people actually do want to sleep. Another reason clubs and bars and restaurants need to thrive is that they support students, actors, artists, and that ilk who make this city a place to be. The balance of these two opposing forces lay with people like Ariel and unfortunately others not as openminded. Sutra is still open, still happening, still creating vibrancy and supporting people. It is worth a visit while Ariel finds the right person to take her place.

After a very long run, Sutra is for sale. Tell me about the history of the place.
Well, let me start by saying that Sutra is still very much open and moving and grooving. It is business as usual, and I continue to be very proud of everything we have been able to accomplish at Sutra for nearly eight years. From the very beginning, I set out to create a venue that stayed true to the New York underground DJ party vibe.  It was also very important to me that we had an open-door policy that allowed Sutra to express the true diversity of the East Village. I knew that the best way for us to stay relevant was to stay talent and music-driven. I think that, for the most part, that is what Sutra is know for: great DJ’s, great music, great vibe. My programing goal was to create a common ground for diverse expression, to have every night showcase a different genre, from hip-hop to rock to Bollywood. Ultimately, it was to showcase New York culture. As it turned out, there was a very big part of New York culture that was being dramatically underserved in NY,  the true old-school hip-hop-loving community. NY is the birthplace of hip-hop after all, so staying true to my love of great and talented DJs, I went after some of the greatest DJs in the world – the pioneers, the legends and creators of DJing that lived just minutes from Sutra. DJs like Kool Herc, Red Alert, Afrika Bambaataa, DJ Premier, and of course Tony Touch. Together with Tony Touch, we created Toca Tuesdays, one of the longest-running and well-known weekly old-school hip-hop parties in New York. In my eyes, nothing could have fulfilled my intention of preserving New York culture more than to support these DJs and this culture. In the end, I think it is ultimately what Sutra will be remembered for.
 
And your reasons for selling?
In many ways, I think that now, in our eight year, Sutra is at the top of its game. We have the credibility and recognition to continue to get the world’s best DJs, such as DJ Scratch, Just Blaze, Questlove, Kenny Dope, and on and on. But it occurred to me recently that on a personal level I had to pursue other ventures and adventures. At my core, I am an entrepreneur and love to be challenged, and as challenging as it is to continually run a nightclub on a daily basis, in many ways it can become routine. About a year ago, I began my exit strategy and ultimately put Sutra on the market so that I could pursue other dreams, now that I have accomplished owning and running my own club. It has by far surpassed my wildest expectations, but life is short. Most people think I’m crazy to leave such a successful business, but my friends understand.
 
Do you have any hopes for who will buy the venue?
In a perfect world, I would be able to pass the baton to someone who loves New York and the scene as much as I do. Someone who would take the essence of what has been Sutra, elevate it, and carry it on. I feel that was what I did eight years ago when I took the space over. Sutra used to be used to be Bar XVI (16), and for seven years, it was famous in its own right for exactly the same thing; great DJs, great music, great vibe. Many of our DJs, like Evil Dee, used to have their own weekly party there back in the day. In a perfect world, someone will step up and I can pass this great legacy to them. And if not, First St. and First Ave. in NYC is probably the best address on Earth to have two 4am liquor licenses, two floors, in a near-250 capacity venue and its unbelievably up for grabs. Any takers?  
Sutra
 
What’s next for you?
I will always be a soldier for New York Nightlife and Culture Preservation and have recently started my own consulting company called Venue Advisors, LLC with Paul Seres, the president of the New York Nightlife Association, and Moses Comas, my business partner. My goal is to help other people open and run their own clubs. It is very important to me to share everything I have learned and to assist other people to reach this incredible dream. For me, its time to feel the excitement of starting something new. I’ve been working on a new venture for a couple of years and now is the time to make my move to develop it. I can’t reveal too much about it just yet, but it’s health-driven, with a dash of vice. I am also in the process right now of producing a short film documenting this long and amazing journey; it’s a love letter to Sutra.
 
The neighborhood has changed. You are a local community board member. Tell me where you think things are going down there.
It’s true. I have been a CB3 Community Board member on the State Liquor Authority (SLA) Committee for over three years, but I’m also a native New Yorker who grew up in the club scene and have also lived in this neighborhood for over 15 years. It has changed in more ways that no one who lives here now could ever imagine. Aside from the obvious gentrification that pushed out the diversity of large ethnic families and artists and musicians –  and, yes, even a few drug dealers and prostitutes – what has changed the most is the great neighborhood feeling it used to have. Its true that due to a variety of reasons there has also been a proliferation of bars in the LES/EV and a decrease in diverse businesses for residents and even a decrease in one’s quality of life because of it. Even as a bar owner and resident, I can’t deny that. But a lot of the anger and blame for it has been unfairly targeted at the bar owners themselves for the perfect storm of errors that created it. Today, the community boards, city officials, and planners are putting a closer conscious effort to rebalance the community and to return it to that neighborhood feeling.
 
Do you think that progress is being made?  
I do believe that a tide is turning and that the effort will ultimately pay off, as long as the angry protesters of the "No More Bar" movement, as well as other nightlife opposers, do not tip the scales back too far. There is an anti-nightlife agenda that is very unfairly targeting and criminalizing the industry, city-wide. Instead of appreciating and respecting the industry and its contribution to NY, "crackdowns" and overregulation has made it, in many cases, an impossible nightmare to operate a nightlife business. And now there is a slow and steady effort to scale back our famous NY 4am liquor license law to 2am, through stipulations – all this in an effort to take back the streets for residents. But the truth is that, in many ways, the New York nightlife culture and economy is what has made New York the best city to live in. Remember "The City That Never Sleeps" people?? We are the city where people come to live and party from all over the world, people who were too creative or strange to be accepted in their hometowns. They are the innovators, artists, and great thinkers that have put New York on top in almost every field. New York is, by all accounts, a place where the freaks come out at night to party and then lead the world during the day. Not to mention all the great waiter and bartending positions that have sustained many a movie star or doctor on the way up.
 
You are on a mission.
I didnt realize it when I first opened Sutra, but being in nightlife has a greater purpose than just parties. Preserving New York nightlife, in my opinion, is preserving and saving New York identity. Saving it from all the great restaurateurs and club owners from going to Vegas, Miami, LA, or even Europe and taking all the great, interesting, and brilliant people with them. As far as the East Village/LES goes, I don’t know if we will ever reclaim the great glory days of art, music, and bohemia, mixed with families and freaks, but I do know that striving to reclaim the balance between nightlife and community, mixed retail, and affordable rents, we can find our way back to a New York we recognize and love. That’s why I’m on the community board, to push back so that hopefully we all meet in the middle and not lose what makes us the greatest city in the world. Literally.
 
At a recent conference, I was asked why there are so few women in ownership positions in clubland…your take?
I’m not so sure that there are as few woman club owners as people think. I personally know dozens, and as a community board member, I see them apply all the time. But for sure, there are not as many as men. The bar business can be brutal and hardcore, no matter what gender you are. As a woman, I have used my charms to get me out of many bad situations that no man could ever wrangle his way out of. Not to mention, it’s amazing what you can get away with when you are being underestimated. In my eight years of owning Sutra, I have been faced with almost every scenario you can imagine and survived and thrived through them all. I dont think that there are less women nightlife owners because they cant hack it. I think its because there are so many other great ways to make a living that don’t require them to make as many sacrifices to their quality of life and to still have the ability to have it all. As much as I have loved owning a club in almost every way – the  amazing people, the great parties, celebrating life everyday etc. – the truth is, to be a club owner, you to need to harden yourself to pull it off. There are so many takers, haters, liars, freaks, and crazies, not to mention the unbelievable scenarios that you have to deal with on a regular basis. All while you’re giving your all to keep your venue cool, relevant, and packed every night and, oh yeah, making money. Then your dealing with the police, the community, the city, the state, and all the government agencies surrounding and watching your every move, ready to close in on you for your slightest error. Why aren’t there as many women in nightlife? Maybe they’re just smarter. Either way, for me, I wouldn’t have changed a thing. One of the greatest gigs in the world and proud of it.
 
How did the emergence of hip Brooklyn change the crowds coming to the East Village/ LES?
I’m sure the fact that there are more cool local places to hang out in Brooklyn has made it more of a challenge to get Brooklynites to venture across the bridge. All New Yorkers prefer the comfort of their own hood, but I also know that New Yorkers will travel anywhere in any weather to experience something cool and unique. It does put a greater pressure on operators and promoters in the EV/LES to step up their game to make their venues worth going to. If they do, the people will come.

Sons of Essex’s Matt Levine Talks About His New, Yet-To-Open Mysterious Space At 205 Chrystie St.

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With The Elsinore poised to open up in just a week or so, things on that very strange block Stanton between Bowery and Chrystie are taking yet another step in a new direction. Because it effectively dead-ends on both sides, traffic is very restricted, which has made it a home for those less fortunate who have gathered near the Bowery Mission for eons. The New Museum and a string of art galleries, boutiques, and little restaurants have given a new look to the area. The streets are still a bit dark and the well-heeled walk fast, past the shoeless, as new development gears to bring even more change. Matt Levine and his posse have taken the 205 Chrystie space which has, like much of the people hanging around it these days, …never amounted to anything. There was a run with rock promo icons like Vegas that offered a handful of fun nights. It was a kind of cool dive bar called 6’s and 8’s. There was even a foray by the usually perfect Serge Becker of Miss Lily’s and

La Esquina fame. At 205, he was a little less than perfect. Matt Levine is hot with his Sons of Essex, a smash success. I asked him to tell me what he could tell me at this very early stage. He couldn’t say much as the process of opening is long and rife with obstacles.
 
The block dead-ends on both sides, a very unique situation which traditionally made it very…wonkie. Now there are cool boutiques and The Elsinore about to open, The Box is still wonderfully fun around the corner, and the park across Chrystie is beautiful. So you feel it’s a good time to get in?
My partner Michael Shah has a great eye for real estate, and this block, being a passageway from the Lower East Side to Soho, has always intrigued me.
 
You have been wildly successful at Sons of Essex and you had a great run at The Eldridge. You love the neighborhood. Talk about where it is heading…
We are always randomly bumping into each other on the streets of the LES; the Lower East Side is a true neighborhood in every sense of the word, a community within a community. I see the growth of the LES, beyond "nightlife;" daily foot traffic is increasing during the daytime due to the growth of art galleries, boutiques, cafes, coffee shops, and creative agencies- we all support each others’ entrepenurial spirits.
 
What else fills your days?
Everyday, a new lesson learned.

Bowery Bingo Legend & Andy Warhol Star Taylor Mead Has Passed

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On Wednesday, bad news came as it does these days, via tweets and facebook. Taylor Meadan Andy Warhol "superstar," has passed. Other publications will get into the details of his life and death. They’ll list the underground movies he was in and repeat notable poems he wrote which were much more notable when he recited him. Those other periodicals and blogspots will tell of his long-running run-in with his landlord who finally bought him out. 

He was in Colorado when he left us. He was visiting a niece when a stroke stopped his heart. I won’t get into the details, but they are out there for you if you care. 

What can be said about him that Taylor didn’t say about himself before on the street, in a bar, or one of the countless Bowery Poetry Club readings I attended? I’ll just say this…when I heard the news, all I could think of was the people who loved him. I could see their faces weeping from the loss.

Taylor was wonderful. He was brilliant. He was a lovable monster. He was a definer of the downtown altar that I worship. Decades ago, a friend and I would seek him out in the East Village bars that he haunted. We’d buy him drinks in exchange for tales of life within the candle. He told us of Andy Warhol and the coolest peeps on earth. Sometimes he would hate them all, sometimes he would love them all. Sometimes he would love himself, and sometimes he would hate himself. I always felt that his love/hate for Andy’s gang was because they could appreciate him on a level far above us all. Taylor was a player with the most "in" of the "In-Crowd."

A year or so ago, I was playing Bingo religiously at the Bowery Poetry Club. It usually sold out, so I got there early to reserve seats for my crew. Taylor would read poems he randomly chose from a satchel bursting with them, and in between, he’d tell tall-tales while playing classical music or Charlie Mingus tunes on a small beatbox. 

There were times he would yell at the early Bingo aficionados for talking while he was enlightening. Once, he yelled "Bingo" when he didn’t have it, just to disturb the later event to get even. 

I went every week. Sometimes I’d hear the same story a dozen weeks in a row. Sometimes something new and bold sprang up. When Bowery Poetry closed to give way to Duane Park, no one made room for Taylor. On his last night, I thought I’d never see him again. And so it goes. 

Jell-O Shots & Ricotta Dumplings: Hill & Dale Opens in LES

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The specialty at Hill & Dale, new to Allen Street, is a peach and vodka Jell-O shot called the “Dot & Dash.” Our waitress told us it was the house signature, so I suggested we all take one together. She declined, saying she didn’t like the feel of Jell-O in her mouth, and neither do I, so instead of the Jell-O shot, I drank just about everything else, and just about everything else was lovely.

A whole daisy came floating in the “Floozy,” one of eight other cocktails (all $12) fashioned by co-owner Elliott Carlson of Le Bain, which mixed muddled strawberries with Ketel One. Drinks like the Bourbon Negroni and The Berliner (rye, sweet vermouth, cherry, and Ramazzotti bitters) were plenty aromatic, and didn’t mask quality liqueurs with needless sugar. “Flip the Frog,” made with Plymouth Gin and St-Germain, sees its highball glass stacked with half a dozen cucumber slices. I approved.

DĂ©cor is themed around early home audio systems: an old brass phonograph rests atop a shelf behind the bar, and kitschy radios line a beam across the dining room. The 1920s-speakeasy thing treads lightly at worst. Beatles tracks played over the PA for a solid hour, with no dips into that “Hello! Ma Baby” schlock. Behind a metal grate in the back, a 30-person lounge with cushy sofas and potted ferns is well suited to quiet sipping.

Hill & Dale calls itself a “gastrolounge,” meaning they serve dinner. Ricotta dumplings are served with a mushroom medley, and a very juicy wild boar sausage wraps around three fantastic cabbage salads. Fried things come in all shapes. One of my housemade chicken nuggets (brown meat) had the form of a heart, while another looked like a man holding a basketball between his legs. For those keeping score in the New York pickle game, Hill & Dale’s current versions are golden baby beets, spring onions, celery, and cucumbers.

The Jell-O shots are not pickled.

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BBQ Ribs & Board Games: Blue Ribbon’s Beer Garden Opens Today In LES

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Could it be? A beer garden is now open that offers baby back ribs, cornbread, ping-pong, and board games – and it’s in Manhattan?  Dreams come true, and its the lauded Blue Ribbon team who’s making it happen with tonight’s grand opening of Blue Ribbon’s Beer Garden, right outside the Thompson LES. Just shimmy through the Blue Ribbon Sushi Izakaya to the terrace, and you’ve arrived. 

The same folks who’ve brought us truffle honey sauce-dipped fried chicken & bone marrow at 2am are expanding their deliciousness repertoire with Americana summertime BBQ-inspired dishes, Belgium and Brooklyn beers, and carafes of wine. All the BBQ hen, black-eyed pea salads, coleslaw, grilled veggies, and boiled peanuts will trick you into thinking you’re in Mississippi, on a patio somewhere near a sprawling plantation. But don’t feel fooled. You’re in NY, kid. And you better love it.

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