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."

The Dish: Pulino’s Salsiccia Pizza

What: Salsiccia Pizza with sausage, tomato, mozzarella, broccoli rabe, chiles & pecorino. Where: Pulino’s, Keith McNally’s rowdy-yet-highbrow pizzeria on The Bowery. Ideal meal: Pre-game for a night out. Because: Typically McNally-esque, Pulino’s pulls off the same charming, eclectic brasserie/bistro vibe here that New Yorkers have previously fallen for at Pastis, Balthazar, Schiller’s, and Minetta. The pizza is tasty, and chef Nate Appleman loves meat items, therefore, anything with sausage is decidedly splendid and cooked with lots of love. Tastes like: Thin crust pizza hits home with this concoction. Sausage, mozzarella, and broccoli rabe is an enticing combo of sweet, salty and slightly bitter. Top with egg for a good time. Bottom line: $17 for a pie, possibly shareable for 3, depending on how ravenous your group might be. Nine slices to go around.

Striking Up Friendships

A working weekend kept me hot, bothered, and a little short on steam. But I was able to attend the Carrera Sunglasses party on the fabulous roof at 505 West 37th Street. The roof—some 40 stories over the Javits Center, train yards, and the Port Authority Bus complex—is so high that it made those places seem romantic. A pal asked me what that place across the Hudson River was, and I replied “America.” New York did seem far away from America this week, with the World Cup bringing so many accented tourists to the haunts I hang in. The Carrera event had a slew of downtown types who followed GoldBar honcho John Lennon and downtown PR flack Dana Dynamite uptown. I chatted up a very nice Whitney Port, who I was told is in that show The City. Watermelon, cold cans of Café Bustelo, and clear views of places I rarely want to see up close kept me happy for hours. I visited an apartment downstairs where they hid the swag, and I was told that the one bedroom with those views goes for $2200 a month. Almost cheap enough to forget the $15 cab fare to anyplace I’d like to be. Still, I think there will lots of fabulous events at this sweet spot.

An expensive yellow limo returned me to downtown where I belong, at the behest of Fuse Gallery/Lit bigwig Erik Foss. I attended the art opening The Hole Presents Not Quite Open for Business, “A conceptual group show of unfinished art, unfinished poems and unfinished symphonies.” When Jeffrey Deitch split to be the director of MOCA in L.A., it left the presenters confused as to what to do next. Some funding problems and an artist not quite ready to show was turned into a positive thing, as artists were asked to show their work in the stage it was in, a caught-with-your-pant-down approach to curating. The result is a fun, thought provoking, and unpretentious good time. I joined Erik Foss over at Lucky Strike and watched him have a snack. Erik is just back from Mexico City where he brought his Draw show. I hadn’t been to Lucky Strike in a long time. A friend of mine who used to work there was killed in his apartment many years ago, and it stirred up bad memories.

Mike “Seal” used to be my head of security over at Life, and his untimely death under mysterious circumstances made me wonder. When you go out to eat or play, you don’t necessarily need to be reminded of sad things. Lucky Strike wowed them back in 1989 when it first opened. Like all Keith McNally joints, it has an energizer bunny type of energy and the basic bones to last forever. The service, the staff, the design, and the fare are timeless and I felt good to be back. I still visit Pravda, Odeon, Pastis, and Balthazar from time to time, and his other entries Minetta Tavern, Morandi, and Schillers are magnificent machines. I am currently building in his old Nells space, trying to create something worthy of its lore. Pulino’s opened in my hood a little bit ago and although it wasn’t reviewed well by one prominent critic, the crowds have voted it a winner.

I will be DJing at the other Lucky Strike, the bowling alley and lounge on far West 42nd Street. The occasion is the birthday bash for Noel Ashman, who was at one point the operator of the Nells space when it was Plumm and NA. The invite reads “National Academy of Television, Arts and Scienes… Emmy Awards along with…” And it goes on to list Chris Noth, Patrick McMullan, Damon Dash, and a slew of others. Grandmaster Flash, Jamie Biden, Ethan Browne, and DJ Reach will join me on the wheels of steel. In the left corner is the logo for adult entertainment company Wicked. There’s hosts like Richie Romero, Brandon Marcel and Matt de Matt listed as well. Every time I write about Noel, a slew of haters come out of their holes and hovels to spew dirt. I am always asked why do I write about him. Noel has made a ton of omelets over the years and I guess in the process has broken his share of eggs. I personally have never had a bad experience with him and the naysayers are always of the suspicious variety. The diversity of the people on this invite and the crowds that will attend speak well of him. I am always asked why do I write about him. The answer is short and sweet. He’s my friend.

Filmmaker Ed Burns on His New Film ‘Nice Guy Johnny’

When you think of your classic New York filmmakers, the names Scorsese, Allen, and Lumet pop up. Think a little harder, and you might come up with Ed Burns. Ever since his first feature The Brothers McMullen wowed audiences and won the Grand Jury prize at Sundance ’95, Burns has been telling stories of urban malaise and modern relationships with budgets most Hollywood films spend on catering. A veteran at the Tribeca Film Festival, Burns is back with the premiere of Nice Guy Johnny, a likeable comedy set in the Hamptons. We caught up with Burns at the Apple Store SoHo, where they are hosting the “Meet the Filmmaker” series––sit-downs with leading writers, directors and actors, in conjunction with the festival. Here he is discussing his new film, the current state of independent cinema, and his Quentin Tarantino man-crush

What inspired you to make this movie? Two years ago I had a meeting with my agents and they talked about how my last movie, Purple Violets, didn’t get a theatrical release, and how it was time to give up the personal filmmaking career and direct a studio romantic comedy. So I went on a bunch of meetings, read a bunch of scripts, and almost did it. Then I realized couldn’t do it. To me, that would be admitting failure and giving up the dream of doing what I wanted to do since I was in film school, which was to make small, personal films. So after a long process and having said no to a much greater paycheck, I sat down and decided to write a script about how tough this experience is, to hold fast and forgo the easier money. I’ve always wanted to try and fulfill that Woody Allen or Truffaut dream, and this is a story about how hard that dream is.

Did you always know you wanted to play the role of Uncle Terry? I knew that I wanted to play with the idea of a guy who has someone in his life that appears to be giving him the wrong advice, but the challenge was that I knew somehow in the end even the dumbest guy in the room has some information for you that’s valuable. I know a couple guys like him, so I knew there was good room for some humor with how those guys view the world and relationships, so I knew that would be a lot of fun.

Of writing, directing, and acting, which do you enjoy most? I love writing more than anything I do. It’s the only part of the process that isn’t collaborative, and it’s the only part of the process where you don’t need someone else’s money to get it done. As far as doing all three, when I did my first film, I never thought it would be a real movie and that it would just be an experiment that got me an agent. So I can’t speak to whether or not it’s difficult. It’s more just what I do.

How do you think this film compares to your earlier work? This is certainly my most personal work since The Brother’s McMullen. There’s an honesty, a warmness, and freshness that I don’t think I’ve had since then. With this film, I just wanted to get back to writing conversational humor. In that respect it’s my best success.

How do you think the independent film world is different from when you released The Brothers McMullen? There’s a lot of great opportunities for indie filmmakers now that didn’t exist then that have to do with the technology that’s available for us to shoot film. When I started we were filming on re-canned film stock. I even re-enrolled in Hunter College for one class just to get the student discount. The immediate disadvantage is that distribution has gone out of business in the last couple of years. But there’s a lot happening with these new digital platforms and we’re all trying to figure out how we can monetize it enough so that we can keep making these films.

How do you feel about films that have simultaneous release On Demand and theatrically? Filmmakers need to fall out of love with the traditional theatrical release, that’s disappearing. Maybe there’s an evolution that now you take a film through the festival circuit and you have to think that that’s where your film is going to be seen in a theatre.

Is something lost when you’re not watching a movie in the cinema? Certainly, but there are those people that when we went from the LP to the CD said something was lost. It’s like whether you read a book in hard cover or on a kindle. I think a good story can find it’s way into your soul in a number of different ways.

Explain your love affair with New York? In film school I fell in love with Woody Allen and Spike Lee, and I love Scorsese. Their specific slices of the New York experience is why they are some of my favorite filmmakers. I always wanted to carve out my slice of the New York experience.

What people in your varied career have you worked with that have shaped you creatively? I think my biggest influence was working with Spielberg in Saving Private Ryan. I think the biggest lesson I learned from him was that he hires actors where he knows what he’s going to get from them and then he gives them the opportunity to find it. For me that changed the way I worked with actors.

Plans for the future? I tried for the last couple of the years to get bigger films off the ground, and the level of interference and operation that’s required, I don’t think it’s for me. I have fallen back in love with the process, with the small story. I think I’m just more comfortable there.

Is there anyone you would love to work with in the future? I’m a huge Tarantino fan. I don’t think we could be more different, but if there’s one filmmaker that anytime I see one of his films I’m jealous not only of the filmmaking talen,t but of the writing talent, it’s him. It’s like, “Oh man, I want to speak those words.”

As someone who has lived in New York their whole life, what are some of your favorite places to eat or drink here? We just ate at Pulino’s today, fantastic. There’s another great place called The Smile, over on Bond Street that we love. There’s a bar in Tribeca called Puffy’s Tavern that’s one of the last drinker’s bar in Tribeca.

DJ War: Uncle Steve Takes on Goliath

Hey loyal readers. If you’re expecting something deep or profound today, pick up the Post. Your humble hero is a bit out of it. When you reach my age, and you’ve been out all night, you get the hangover without the ability to forget what caused it. Lady Astor once said, “One reason I don’t drink is that I want to know when I am having a good time.” I had a good time last night. I got to participate in full contact DJing with the legendary Mark Kamins at my favorite place in town not owned by Erik Foss, subMercer.

Mark is an old friend, and for a guy with a ginormous ego he can be quite humble. He rarely talks about himself with his mouth full of food. He has had a brilliant career although being my DJ partner last night may be the low point. If you go to Wikipedia, they’ll tell you he “is a New York club DJ. He is best known for helping launch the career of one-time girlfriend Madonna by presenting a demo to Seymour Stein of Sire Records. He also produced her first single “Everybody” in 1982.” It goes on to say he has worked with “controversial performance artist Karen Finley and projects for Tommy Page, David Byrne of the Talking Heads, Ofra Haza, the Beastie Boys, Sinéad O’Connor and UB40.”

You could add a hundred etcetera’s to his resume. He was definitely one of the first international DJ’s, and to this day works all over the world. What it doesn’t say is that he is one of the most beloved and respected people in the scene. Last night he joined me at subMercer where we did a ping pong DJ set. I played 3 and then he played 3. I told him I was going to go easy on him…I lied. As he was playing, I was having pretty girls ask him where the bathroom was, or I was loudly telling old jokes about his old age to the DJ booth crew. It was “he’s so tired that when he goes to the airport they make him check the bags under his eyes,” or, “he’s so tired his phone number is 1-800 dial-a-mattress,” or, “Mark is over 60 and still doesn’t need glasses. He drinks right out of the bottle.” The entourage of a dozen DJs and DJ groupies were roaring and he got a little distracted. DJ Justin Strauss would whisper in my ear the name of some incredibly imagined but obscure song, and I would tell Mark, “Omg, you played that! I was going to play that!” He was shocked that I knew it, as like 100 people in the world who don’t DJ would know that track. He was looking at me and alternated between laughter and annoyance at my antics. He became very aware that we were in a war. I was relentless and when he got distracted and made a boo boo I offered my assistance. “Mark, do you need help with the equipment?” We laughed and laughed and the dance floor stayed full. We’re gonna do it again.

The crowd at suBmercer was charged and super hot. Gabby Meija plied me with bottled waters and diet cokes until I had to leave the room and she could play a few tracks. Tariq Abdus-Sabur then took over and we all relived the last 25 years. Richard Alvarez, the door keep extrodanaire, mesmerized me and mine with tales of yore and yonder. On another note, Damn DJs get hit on…even bad ones. I had my girlfriend with me. Bringing your girl to a DJ gig is like bringing a bottle of jack to a wine tasting–it’s overkill and it kills your game. But alas, I am a loyal cuss and she just laughed at my suave moves. A curvy woman way out of my league told me she loved my set and I told her I loved hers as well. Another asked me for my number and I told her it was 1-800-dial-a-mattress. She didn’t get it and she’s the type who is used to getting it. It was like that–subMercer is sexy.

Okay, back to my job. I hear from dubious sources told over loud music that there’s moves going on over at the Los Dados space in the Meatpacking, that the 205 Christie space which has been available for eons is being taken by the 10th Street Lounge guys, that Le Colonial Elizabeth Street is fighting a losing battle over rent. The addition of the Keith McNally offering Pulino’s on Bowery and Houston has landlords in the area salivating and rents skyrocketing. I hear Mr. McNally tried to take over the hair salon next door but they said no. I hear that long-legged, long time club promoter Caron Bernstein has (with a little help from her beau Andrew) given birth to a baby boy. They named him Jett and he will surely grow up to be a heartbreaker.

When Caron’s modeling career began to wane she hit me up for a bartending spot at LIFE. I asked her if she ever bartended and she said sure. I, being the skeptic that I am, asked my head bartender to keep an eye on her. An hour after the club opened I asked him how she was doing. He told me she asked him what went into a vodka cranberry. In time she learned that one, but little more, and she was never behind the bar much, just flitting around the club and flirting, and she was never on time and wanted to leave early, but made as much tips as anybody. She was treated “special” because she was always special. Caron Bernstein is hot, charismatic and owner of the best bellybutton I’ve eve seen, and now she is a mother and we love her. Diane Brill, club mother from a bygone era, is celebrating her birthday at a private place. Club royalty from that day will pay homage. Alas, sasa Nikolic’s request for me attend Eric Milon’s 55th Street offering, Covet, last night, could not be honored due to my pleasure at subMercer. I promise to dig out my passport and venture uptown soon if they’ll take my rain check. I am routing for Covet’s success as I believe Eric Milon has the right stuff to make something swell.