BlackBook Party Tonight, One Of NYC’s Biggest Party Nights Tomorrow

‘Tis the season to be confused as too many events attempt to wash away the memory of the storm that nearly washed us all away and continues to define the lives of so many. The Sandy events will culminate in that Paul McCartney, Bruce, Bon Jovi, Who, Roger Waters, Kanye, Alicia Keys, etc., etc., etc. thingy at the Garden on December 12. I wonder if Kanye will complain about Paul McCartney’s billing or something like that. Kanye is doing three shows at Revel in AC for New Year’s weekend for those who do that.

A couple years ago, New Year’s Eve nights were defined by how long the open bars were and what kind of music was played. DJs are still the stars, but it’s great to see mega, super-duper, uber acts raising the good time bar. I can’t believe its Thanksgiving already. The storm seemed to wipe away the calm before the holiday storm. Up is down and down is up and gee, I have to pay rent already? Uptown comedy club Stand Up NY is taking its show on the road tonight with a one-off (which I’m guessing will eventually turn into a two-off or more) at Hair of the Dog, 168 Orchard St. at Stanton. A whole lot of great comics will bring cheer to your holiday starting at 6pm. You can get tickets here.

My Thursday rock and roll DJ gig at Hotel Chantelle with Sam Valentine is canceled due to turkey festivities, but it’s being pushed forward to Wednesday, tomorrow night. Hope those rockers get the message. 

Tonight, BlackBook has teamed up with Stoli for a Mixers and Shakers event at the Thompson LES on Allen Street. I hear the new hotel they are doing by City Hall is wonderful. I never get invited to these BlackBook things and I’m getting paranoid about it. I’m gonna crash it. Flash my column or something to the intern at the door. 

The confusing-on-purpose Murray Hill and his cohort Linda Simpson will make their Monday night BINGO extravaganza extra-extraordinary this coming Monday again at Hotel Chantelle with a joint birthday celebration. I, of course, never miss a BINGO and I am considering turning pro. I even had BINGO tattooed on my shoulder a couple months ago. I roll like that. 

Tomorrow night, the night before Thanksgiving, is traditionally one of the biggest nights of the year. Many have four or more days off work looming, and many are traveling in to dine with friends and relatives. Many places let college kids take over as they are flush with holiday loot. Others know their patrons will be absent for a moment or more as the snowbirds flock south to mark the Miami season and try to grab all the gusto and cash from them before they leave. Big DJs and quality entertainment abound, but call to see if the joints you usually like haven’t sold out to the frat-boy set. 

So if this is Thanksgiving, then December must be near and I am in no way ready for December. I must remind you as you feast and celebrate that many of our neighbors are still climbing out of the mud. Find time to help, donate, and contribute.

Upcoming Hurricane Sandy Benefits Shows From Aziz Ansari, Neil Young, Grizzly Bear, and More

If you still want to help out East Coasters affected by Hurricane Sandy and do so in an environment with adult beverages and high-caliber entertainment, this week, a couple more enticing Sandy benefits have been announced. So if you’re looking for something to do next week and live in the greater New York, Atlantic City, or Los Angeles areas, here you go.

Neil Young and Crazy Horse will perform in Atlantic City on December 6th at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, with proceeds going to the Red Cross.

On December 10th, a group of comedians you might recognize are getting together for “We Hate Hurricanes,” a night of comedy to benefit the victims of Hurricane Sandy at L.A.’s Nokia Theater. The venerable Jon Hamm is emceeing the event, with headliners Aziz Ansari, Will Ferrell, Sarah Silverman, and music from Beck along with even more acts. All proceeds from the show will go to AmeriCares, and pre-sale tickets go on sale today; general sale starts tomorrow.

One of the biggest announced shows is the 12/12/12 benefit gig for the Robin Hood Relief Fund, on December 12th at Madison Square Garden. The headliners play like an all-star Super Bowl halftime show: Kanye West, Alicia Keys, Paul McCartney, Bon Jovi, Billy Joel, The Who, Eddie Vedder, Dave Grohl, and, of course, Bruce Springsteen. If you still want to help out and rock out but the idea of a Bon Jovi show at the Garden sounds a bit too overwhelming, New York’s Terminal 5 is hosting a “4Artists1Cause” benefit on December 14th, featuring performances from Grizzly Bear, Sleigh Bells, Antlers, and Cults. More acts will be announced soon. Tickets are $40, with proceeds going to the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City

In Which I Wonder About the Future of the LES

Today I fawned over a collection of old New York imagery from the late 1800’s through the end of the last century that The Museum of the City of New York recently released, wondering what corner bar now stands where an old city tenement had endured. The cache of images left me feeling wistful about the latest on the Lower East Side’s kill list, as it was recently announced that on top of Max Fish and Pink Pony’s imminent closings, Mars Bar will shutter in 2011 as well. Architecture critic Ada Louise Huxtable was famous for her outspoken 1963 New York Times article on the demolition of the original Penn Station in favor of Madison Square Garden, called “How to Kill a City.” She wrote: “Any city gets what it admires, will pay for, and, ultimately, deserves. Even when we had Penn Station, we couldn’t afford to keep it clean. We want and deserve tin-can architecture in a tinhorn culture. And we will probably be judged not by the monuments we build but by those we have destroyed.” It’s hard to be both a New York nostalgist and also feel positive about change and progress in the city, but are the cookie-cutter developments set to replace Mars Bar things that we really want?

image (Via Curbed). The current plan in place for Mars Bar is a 12-story, 60-unit building by BFC Partners (shown above), who have solidified relocation agreements with the current Second Avenue residents, though they have not yet negotiated such a contract with Mars Bar. Plans may include a 2-year closure for the ramshackle bar, only to reopen as a glossy version of its former self.

While many have expressed concern for such a loss, one person gung-ho for the development is owner Hank Penza, who told the Times: “They won’t choke me, I didn’t get off the boat yesterday with a pound of spaghetti in my hand,” noting that he was likely to “ultimately get a space that’s three to four times the size.”

When explaining the lure of Mars Bar, Nate Freeman of the New York Observer states it best: It’s a bit of a sore thumb on Second Avenue. Mars Bar is garish and gross; it’s on a street that’s so clean you could have a blanket-less picnic with your tofu from Whole Foods, which is conveniently located right next door. Mars Bar is loud, dirty, and full of unapologetic malcontents, seemingly of another age; outside people pass by, quickly and looking down, on their way to buy a bottle of Riesling and some organic kale for the night’s salad. Mars Bar serves up cheap whiskey and cancer; directly around the corner, Daniel Boulud serves up House-Made Pappardelle “Gourguignon” at DBGB. Mars Bar is not a nice place, and this is what makes Mars Bar one of the best.

image

It’s one of those places I made sure to pass while walking with people who had never been south of 14th Street (or to New York in general) so I could get a decent read of them by their reaction (usually either “What a cool building,” or “Is this a safe area?”). Many people could never understand what a perceived eyesore like Mars Bar could mean to a neighborhood, but the loss seems more about the principle—a hallmark of change that belongs to every generation, whether they’ll learn from it or not. Demolishing Penn Station in 1963 proved to be so traumatic to New Yorkers that a preservationist spirit overpowered the modernist aesthetic of the time inspiring Mayor Robert Wagner to sign the 1965 New York City Landmarks Law, creating the Landmarks Preservation Commission we know today.

I’m not saying that Mars Bar should be preserved; I’m not one of those people who claims that the Lower East Side is dead, either. There is no comparison between tearing down one of the greatest Beaux Arts buildings in New York and shuttering a few crumbling venues—but a collection of these institutions add up and amount to the overall feeling that pervades a neighborhood, and ultimately, a city. I’m just wondering if we can experience hindsight, if the ongoing battle between preservation and modernity will once again influence how proactively New Yorkers become involved in envisioning the future of their ideal city, like they were once inspired to do (post-Penn Station projects that were halted by concerned New Yorkers included a parking lot in the middle of Central Park, and plans to build a Lower Manhattan Expressway, which would have paved over Greenwich Village and what is now SoHo). As one blogger writes in regard to the supposed modernity of Penn Station reconstructed all those years ago: “I’d like to go back in time, drag the architects into the present, and ask them: what, you thought we would all be wearing George Jetson jumpsuits, queuing patiently for the Atomic Express? The reality is a waiting room with insufficient signage, a great hall that isn’t, and a Hudson News thronged with balding guys, ties askew, furtively paging through battered porn mags.”

Moishe’s Movers Looks to Lure Lebron to the Garden

There are certain companies so interwoven into the fabric of New York that they can get away with just about anything. Gray’s Papaya, for example, routinely endorses hot dog-friendly candidates for public office, and they’ve never been boycotted by political rivals. Snapple lost none of its cred when it partnered with The Celebrity Apprentice to create two new tea flavors. And now Moishe’s is tossing its yarmulke into the ring in a unique ploy to bring superstar free agent Lebron James to the long-suffering Knicks. Starting today, the ubiquitous New York moving company is bringing a portable storage container to the parking lot across from Madison Square Garden, and it’s inviting Knicks fans to fill it with signs, cards, New York-centered gifts, and more than a few prayers. Moishe’s will then deliver the container to the superstar’s Cleveland home in a bid to entice the 6′ 8″ savant to drop the heroes and get with the zeroes.

It’s a desperate move, but with a title drought of nearly four decades and an unholy sense of entitlement, Knickerbocker fans know that desperate measures are called for to restore balance to the basketball universe. With scandals in the front office (Isiah) and petulance on the court (Starbury et al.), the former contenders have become a punchline in the NBA. Frankly, that just doesn’t square with New Yorkers: if we can’t build winners, we’re supposed to buy them. That’s how it works, right? There have been just enough hopeful signs through the lean years to keep people from losing interest. For 15 seasons, big man Patrick Ewing did everything he could to get the city a title, but never had the supporting cast to finish. And every true Knicks fan remembers where they were for Allan Houston’s 1999 shot heard ’round the world, an ugly three-cushion floater in a heated playoff series that devastated Miami and gave rise to the term “Knick bounce.” Still, a championship would elude them.

So Moishe Mana and his adopted city have decided that it’s time for a new savior, and they’re doing what they can to bring Lebron into the fold. It remains to be seen if a container full of Knicks towels, bobblehead dolls, and more than a few phone numbers will entice the uncrowned king to play in the garden. But if it’s accompanied by a container full of money? Well, now we’re speaking the same language.