The Ghosts of Bowery Past: CBGB, Greenhouse, & W.i.P.

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Yesterday I took one of my first days off since ’03 and it was grand. Me and mine went to the Bronx Zoo which was a zoo. Apparently, Wednesdays are donation day with no fixed admission fee, which means approximately 1 billion people descend upon the zoo to enjoy the nice day with the pretty animals at no cost. We had a blast, completely captivated by the captivated lions and tigers and bears. ..oh my! Amongst the zillions of people, we somehow found Hotel Chantelle go-go dancer Nicky Delmonico and assured her tonight’s hot “Generation Wild” Rock Party at Chantelle would be cool. The joint fixed its air conditioning.

We got home, washed the day away, and headed to DBGB Kitchen & Bar for dinner with Marky Ramone and his Marion. We were joined by chef Daniel Boulud who bombarded us with funny tales and scrumptious deserts. Marky and I told and retold tales of yore. We talked of Dee Dee, Joey, CBGB, and Max’s Kansas City. I don’t desire to dwell too long in the past, preferring to keep looking forward, but sitting with an old war horse like Marky leads to inevitable digression. Eventually I’ll tell you all about it. 

As he posed for photographs with giddy patrons – suburban people who now live in nearby condos and chic apartments where there once stood burnt-out buildings that punks, bums, dealers, and scum squatted in – we talked about the ghosts of Bowery past. It was inconceivable to us that such folk are now frolicking and enjoying such fine fare where we youthfully played amongst the ruins. Back then, a container topped with aluminum foil filled with chicken vindaloo and eaten with a plastic fork was fine dining.

Marky is still touring, still banging his drums not so slowly, and doing lots of other things I will, as I said, eventually talk about. At DBGB, his gravy… er sauce, is for sale and prominently on display up front. Marky Ramone’s Brooklyn’s Own Marinara Sauce is featured in delicious pasta dishes that we all shared prior to our entrees. We headed to Bantam, side-stepping homeless folks who haven’t quite heard the good news about how fabulous the neighborhood has become.

I saw a petition on Petitionbuzz that was under the banner "ALLOW WIP & GREENHOUSE to reopen.” When I clicked through, I read this:

"As many of you already know W.I.P & Greenhouse are still closed pending a scheduled hearing on Friday. I know that I can speak for many people when I say that this is a big blow to the people employed by the club, the nightlife community, as well as to the party goers themselves. We all loved hanging out and partying at W.I.P and are sad to see that the actions of 2 world renown hip hop artist acting like thugs shut down a place we all love and leave 300 people (including Greenhouse) out of jobs in this depressed economic state.  I Emailed @NYNightlife asking him whether or not he thought this petition would even be worth while / effective. He replied saying that he would contact someone at WIP/Greenhouse and see what they think. 10 minutes later he Emailed me back saying that he was told "it would go a long way", which means that every "signature" counts. The hearing is scheduled for Friday, so until then lets all make it a point to get as many people  to sign this petition as possible and to share it with everyone we know, thank you."

I have been pretty harsh on the players-to-be-named-later over there at W.i.P./Greenhouse, but anytime a club is closed because of the illegal actions of its patrons, I get confused. It’s like closing Kennedy Airport because the TSA caught some joker smuggling some blow or because a couple of schmoes duked it out on a long line. There were a lot of people making a living over there at those joints. I’m hoping that "were" gets changed to “are.”

 

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Wednesday Night: Documentary on Newsstand Owner Jerry Delakas, Candy Darling Art Show Opening

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As New York emptied into and out of vacation paradises, I was here holding down the fort. I went to a few BBQs, hung with friends at McCarren Park, and walked the puppy…a lot. When the city empties, you can get a good look at it. I watch with a certain schizophrenia always found in my work and my social life. As new construction tears down the old and makes way for the new, I am sad or nostalgic for what remains of the past era, but I’m often awed by the visions of the modern architects and designers. Evident as we walk are the old advertisements for fabric or tradesman fading on ancient brick facades. On NY1 I caught a glimpse of a story about a barber shop closing that opened even before the television became a popular household item. A similar tale of the new crushing the old was told to me by my friend Dani Baum. It seems that the newsstand on Astor Place is being redone and its owner Jerry Delakas, who has been there forever and a day, is being told to hit the road. Tomorrow night, Wednesday, for those of you who are also confused what day it is after the long weekend, there will be a screening of a documentary about Delakas’ plight and an after-party at W.i.P., which is tomorrow’s scandalous story, btw. Here’s the event info:

Actresses As Allies presents a screening of The Paper House Report, a documentary film by Nicole Cimino and Jack Boar Pictures. Join us for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres at W.i.P. on Wednesday, May 30th at 9:00 PM. Complimentary Admission.

The Paper House Report is a 25-minute documentary about Jerry Delakas, a Greek immigrant who immigrated to the United States in the 1970’s. Over the years, Jerry has become an icon of the Cooper Square area and the face of the Astor Place Newsstand, which he has been running for past 25 years.The Paper House Report is the story of his fight to continue running the newsstand after the DCA denied the renewal of the license. Director Nicole Cimino & Jack Boar Pictures teamed up to create The Paper House Report, a documentary which brings awareness to support Jerry and his struggle.

Filmmaker Nicole Cimino is an Italian actress and filmmaker whose past credentials include The Wall, Conscience of Zeno, The Blue Wind of Madame Sauvage, Play it Again, and Sam & Les Bonnes. She has also acted in several feature films, short films, television series, and webisodes. She is currently developing two plays: Once Upon a Time in Rome, which pays tribute to the Italian Neorealism genre, and her one-woman show A Night with Nannarella based on the Italian icon Anna Magnani.

Actresses As Allies was established by actress Dani Baum and serves as an alliance between talented, passionate, and dedicated actresses in New York City. The actresses comprised of "A3" support each other, share information about the business and their work, produce original works, and inspire greatness in each other. Many in the community are rallying to save this newsstand, believing its loss would hurt the traditional values of the ever-changing hood. You can sign a petition if you agree that the stand should be saved.

I caught up with Nicole Cimino and asked her all about it:

What has happened in regards to Jerry’s case since The Paper House Report was filmed?
When the shooting was in progress we were waiting for the final decision of the Supreme Court. It was supposed to be the last appeal and that’s why we tried to finish the documentary as soon as possible to support Jerry’s case. On last April 26th the court gave the decision and we lost. Fortunately, we lost for two to five. This was incredible since the result allowed us to go for another appeal with the higher Court of State, which was not supposed to happen. This result also shows how the Court is starting to understand the human aspect of this matter. The possibility to go for another appeal with the Court of State is an important chance to keep fighting for the renewing of the license and hopefully to win his case.

To some, Jerry potentially losing his license is a testament to the progress of modernization. But to you and his supporters, it’s a loss of what makes up the essential fabric of the neighborhood that is Astor Place.
Jerry is a landmark of the community. Astor Place is a historical neighborhood and Jerry is part of it. It’s like cutting a corner, which makes people remember the past and history of New York. The changing and the progress could be considered a “measure” of growing, and the legality could consider it a “measure” of humanity in its own way of looking at things. I think eliminating a human icon like Jerry is to forget an important part of the city and to diminish the dignity of a honest man.

Is compromise possible? Do you think the neighborhood is becoming less bohemian and more gentrified? When you say that "the neighborhood wants Jerry to be able to keep his newsstand," how are gauging that?
In this matter, a compromise is only possible if the Department of Consumer Affairs opens a new path in its own perspective. There are things in this case where the battle becomes meaningfulness without a deeper comprehension of human heart. You can keep screaming at each other your own reasons without asking yourself how we can create value together. I would say there is a possibility to look at Jerry’s case from a human perspective and to understand why granting a license to him is way more important than defending a bureaucratic principle.

I don’t think the problem is to search into two opposite ways of being in the world; bohemian and bourgeois attitude will always exist, as gentry and plebeian – if we want to use these terms – will too. The neighborhood is changing and transforming. The problem is when this change loses sensitivity toward people and keeps moving in a selfish, self-centered direction. I have spent more than a year talking to people in the neighborhood, attending the meetings of Community Board #2, talking to Jerry’s customers, and even looking on internet blogs and newspapers that gave opinions about this matter.

At the end of this process I found an outstanding support for Jerry from people of different backgrounds. That’s why I am saying it is only a matter of making an effort to go beyond the surface. It’s clear why a man, Jerry Delakas,  who  immigrated here in the 1970s on a ship, with just a few dollars and a dream, can be granted what he deserves, as all people who honestly strive for what they believe in with hard work and determination should. People understand that and support him.

What can people do to support Jerry’s cause?
People can sign the petition on line on the website or sign the petition which is displayed at Jerry’s newsstand in Astor Place. In this moment the most important thing is for the Department of Consumer Affairs to understand that New Yorkers and thousands of people all over the world are asking to grant a license to Jerry.

Political organizations, non-profit organizations for human rights, or organizations that take care of old-age people are vital in this moment to really go to the Department of Consumer Affairs and stand up for Jerry’s case and ask for the license.

In this moment we need to spread the voice through publicity. I am also planning to work with other artists to start several events throughout the city to support Jerry Delakas till the end of this trial. My desire is that the official screening of The Paper House Report will be only the beginning of several events that peacefully and creatively start all over New York City with the common Save Jerry-spirit.

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Another peek into the past, into the fabric that clothes NYC is the Candy Darling Art Show Opening at the Clayton Gallery, 161 Essex Street between Houston and Stanton, tomorrow night from 7- 9PM. That’s the place run by man-about-town Clayton Patterson and his lovely.

“CANDY DARLING (1944-1974) was born James Lawrence Slattery in Forest Hills, NY and "was – and remains – best known for her roles in two films produced by Andy Warhol and directed by Paul Morrissey, Flesh (1968), and Women in Revolt (1972). She was, however, in a number of other noteworthy independent films, including Brand X (Win Chamberlain, 1970), Some of My Best Friends Are (Mervyn Nelson, 1971) and The Death of Maria Malibran (Werner Schroeter, 1972).

Known for her beauty, wit, and talent, Darling was also a sought-after actress in off and off-off Broadway productions of the sixties and seventies, best known for her work in plays by Jackie Curtis and Tom Eyen, and for appearing in the role of Violet in Tennessee Williams’ Small Craft Warnings. Born a male, and having lived the latter part of her life as a woman, Darling is now celebrated as a pioneer among transgendered communities worldwide. She is the subject of the documentary Beautiful Darling (2010), produced by Jeremiah Newton and directed by James Rasin."

We can go on and on about Candy and her Warhol, Bowie, Francesco Scavullo, Richard Avedon, Robert Mapplethorpe, Lou Reed, The Rolling Stones associations but that will happen tomorrow night at the opening. I do remember watching her with Andy at Max’s before I knew anything about that which I will never understand. Ask me about that line tomorrow night and I will…clarify.