Goodnight Mr. Lewis: Will Fleet Week Save Us From Ourselves?

Photos via Fine Young Man productions

The drone of the tattoo gun was a sexy background music to polite conversation. Hipsters, tastemakers and painted ladies enjoyed wonderful concoctions of Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum, while cute sailor boys mingled. One young lad wearing the whitest uniform ever designed turned to the older mariner and lamented, “Chief, I’d love to get a tattoo, but I live with my mother when I’m done.” The older seaman barked at him, saying, “Get it where she won’t see it,” and headed toward the free BBQ.

It was Fleet Week at its best as “The City That Never Sleeps” embraced seaman from all over the world. An old joke wonders about how long Popeye and Bluto have been at sea. It must have been a long time, it goes, because they immediately get it on with a no holds bar fight over what has to be the ugliest gal in the world, Olive Oyl.

At The Sailor Jerry Home Base, open until the 29th, there were no fisticuffs as the boys in white were on their best behavior. They called all the women, “Ma’am,” and all the men, “Sir,” as they hobnobbed with the likes of Rock Photographer Mick Rock, and artists Buff Monster and Hanksy. The free BBQ from Daisy Mays, haircuts from Frank’s Chop Shop and tattoos from Three Kings were provided to thank them for their service.


You see, Sailor Jerry was a real dude—Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins was in the Navy back in the day before he took the art of tattooing to a different level. I wear his tattoo flash all over my body. It grounds me in old world values and speaks of a time when honor was more important than life itself. Now good ol’ Norman wasn’t what these days we might consider a “perfect” guy. His political views put him a bit to the right of Attila the Hun, but he sure created some classic tattoos. I got one yesterday, a sparrow, which in the old days meant I had traveled 5,000 nautical miles. I may not have done that, but I have been lost at sea and shipwrecked a few times without leaving this island.

As we walked down the streets of the sanitized Times Square it hit me how NYC has changed. Years ago, the sailors would have flocked to the center of our universe looking for love in all the wrong places. Now they just ogle and politely smile. All the politeness is so confusing to me. My daily regime is polka dotted with rudeness and bitter arguments, as this election year seems to have turned us all against each other . Lifelong friends fight over candidate’s shortcomings, as political leanings turn into seemingly religious arguments. On the dating sites I occasionally peruse looking for love in all the wrong places, potential hookups want to know in advance if you stand with this guy or that gal. I can’t imagine, imagining any of the candidates in the bedroom. The campaigns have made all of us idiots in the eyes of those with opposing views. Facebook is a battleground.

Fleet Week and all the polite warriors that have been washed up on our shores have brought us a different set of rules of engagement. Some of us may disagree with the politics of Navies and the military, but there is little argument that these boys and girls in white are standing tall for all of us.

This Sunday everybody’s favorite bad boy from The Walking Dead, Daryl himself, Norman Reedus, will ride up on a custom built Sailor Jerry Harley and make a guest appearance to toast to the troops for all their hard work at the Sailor Jerry Block Party, featuring Cage the Elephant at Hudson River Park’s Pier 84, 12 Avenue and 44th Street. Mr. Reedus will be showing love to the visiting swabbies. I suggest we all bury the hatchets and show them love, too. (Tickets available, here)

Summer & Father’s Day Brings on Thompson LES Hotel’s Party Series and a New Tattoo

Tonight my favorite DJ (not named Paul Sevigny) Mr. Jonny Lennon will provide the sounds by the pool at the Thompson LES Hotel. Ford Models will be hosting tonight and once a month. This sounds like way too much sexy-time fun for me and besides, I married a Ford Model 28 years ago so… been there, done that. Sal Imposimato, the recently-added corporate director of entertainment for Commune Hotels – the parent company that manages both Thompson Hotels and Joie de Vivre Hotels – is making his mark revitalizing the scene there.

They have a rock and roll movie series presented by Topshop that occurs the first Thursday of every month. It’s called “Pool Party Babylon.” They also have a weekly Tuesday party which, this week, presented Scorpio Rising by director Kenneth Anger and honored Mudhoney’s 20th Anniversary. DJ Miss Guy does the honors. Their locals-only Wednesday weekly is hosted by Creatures of Comfort and features DJs Amy Yao and Cameron Mesirow.

This Friday, starting at 2pm, Steven Hamilton hosts with resident DJ Jasper Stapleton and special guest Nick Catchdubs of Fool’s Gold fame. The programming is fresh, forward, and fun…and conveniently located. Sal did the most amazing job when he was with Morgans Hotels Group, totally getting me way uptown to the Hudson or way downtown to the Mondrian. Now that he has hung his hat near civilized humans, I’ll be around… a lot.

This Sunday is Father’s Day and I got an anchor tattoo that says DAD in honor of the day courtesy of Sailor Jerry who did half the hood over at 3Kings the other night. My dad Bernie just celebrated his 90th birthday. He joined the Navy on June 8th, 1941 after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor the day before. If you are looking for me to attend a gala, a soiree or shindig on a Sunday, I always pass as me and mine dine with mom and dad.

I have the blessing of being able to look at nightlife from an insider/outsider perspective. From where I stand I see a lot of people chasing a lot of money and girls and other things without a sense of what is important. When the shit hits the fan, as it famously did for me, there are few you can depend on. My family was there. So take a minute or an hour to visit, call, or remember your dad before returning to the fray. A tattoo may be drastic but if you want one, call Alex McWatt or any of the other talented folks over at 3Kings. Tell them Uncle Steve sent ya.

All-Drag Ramonahs & Sailor Jerry Rum: Just A Night At Arlene’s Grocery

O.K. I love Sailor Jerry parties. The music always slams , the crowd is hot in a tattooed sort of way, and there is always an abundance of Sailor Jerry Rum around to… lubricate the attendees. Yes, I got me another tattoo: a sort of naked cheerleader, and for no good reason. I’m past the point of great philosophical meanings for my ink. I just like it. Maybe in 40 or 50 years I’ll regret these hasty decisions, but I bet my eighth wife will think they’re hot.

The highlight of the evening was The Ramonahs, an all-drag Ramones cover band. It features TV tattoo celebrity Oliver Peck doing the lead singing. He and his bandmates don silly wigs and wear fake boobs as they slam through a fairly cool Ramones set. For an old codger like me who saw the Ramones a hundred times it was … well, music to my ears. I texted Marky Ramone about it but, alas, he was in Italy. I think he would have laughed and even joined them. This gig was like that.

The shin-dig happened at Arlene’s Grocery. Arlene’s is special; a throwback to an age of enlightement. It has its ups and downs, but who doesn’t. Monday night was a definite up. Special shout-out to Sailor Jerry P.R. Dana Dynamite who helps organize these soirees.

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Photo: Inked

Tattooed Bums & Sailor Jerry Rum

So now I’m obssessed. It isn’t enough that I am quickly covering my entire body with random tattoos, but now I almost only find happiness when surrounded by others who are obsessed with covering their entire body with tattoos. Last night I went to The Gutter, 200 N. 14th St. (Brooklyn), my new favorite place to get some ink from, to celebrate the life of Sailor Jerry Collins from Sailor Jerry. The crowd, the tattoos, the music, the Sailor Jerry Rum. and the hot dogs (even the vegan ones) were all wonderful. People threw darts at a dartboard and got the tattoo that was posted up on it.

Todd Weinberger, the creative director of Inked, got a hammerhead shark just ahead of me. Matt Van Cura of Invisible NYC did mine. He’s great and I’m heading to him next week to get myself a Ramones logo in memory of my pal Arturo Vega who just passed. A young lady who I was chatting up wore the famous logo t-shirt last night in Arturo’s honor. She said she didn’t know him but wanted to show respect. The gesture jolted me from depression over his passing into thinking how well he spent the time he had. 

Sadly, I must report the passing of yet another dear friend: Elizabeth Connor Bursis died in San Francisco after a courageous fight with cancer. Some remember her as a Danceteria bartender or from the Eulenspiegel Society – the largest BDSM society in the U.S. – or just being their looking marvelous. She was one of my mentors, and talked to me in her calm voice and open mind about the journey I was taking. Until recently we kept involved on Facebook, but then she drifted away. I didn’t know why until yesterday. I had been meaning to connect with her just as the news came.

A friend comforted me by telling me that we know a lot of people, and many of those people have lived hard but exciting lives and that many of them are getting up there in age. I guess for club types, 60 is the new 80. Liz left us all too soon. 

My friend Kim Vu is soft-launching Bristle + Creme at 416 Third Ave. (29th and 30th). It’s a saloon and coffee shop and a lot more. The ambitious, beautiful Kim will bring much needed pizazz to that Murray Hill/ Turtle Bay strip.

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Namaste from Bondi Beach: Danae Cappelletto Just Wants Peace

So if I’m beating a dead horse, let me know, but I have a feeling the Travertine/XIX space is not dead at all. It is getting more free ink here than the people at Fineline Tattoo are giving out this Saturday in honor of Sailor Jerry’s 101st birthday. I love all the players at Travertine, even the players who aren’t players anymore and possibly never were. It gets confusing as everyone is nice and every story is completely believable. So were’s the beef? I promised the owner and former chef Danae Cappelletto a chance to speak her piece. She only speaks Australian so it was a rough go a couple of times. We were being all Facebook-fuzzy nice when I told her about the lawsuit her company threatened me and Blackbook with in a legal letter put out yesterday. The Facebook exchange went as follows. I will translate when the Australian gets too thick. I’ll also correct some spelling.

i’ve just read the new piece, i got a hand it to you, you do write an intriguing story. Thank you Steve, I hope this all goes to bed soon but in the mean time i do appreciate you giving us the opportunity to respond.
Mark and ruben are friends(of mine) but there is only one truth…i really believe this might serve to clear the air and end up good if egos are put aside… so who over there put the lawyers On me?
oh god no not on you!
i’m putting a statement together for you now, and no the letter was certainly not in any way directed at you x
Well it was sent to bbook… asking for a retraction and removal of post… its all good get me your statement and i will do my best to get it out
The letter was really to stop guys that had nothing to do with the project from jumping on this, i have no idea how that happened its mindboggling!
Here is my statement for you – Thank you again
Steve, you know the funniest thing about all this is, there’s people (Mark Baker) making comments back and forth here that were never involved in the project! its Bonkas!
Honestly, sometimes you have to laugh –and I do appreciate that you are just the messenger. To be honest, with the huge ego’s floating around and all the self-serving misinformation I really don’t want to bore your readers making more corrections. Lawyers do that. I do wish Ruben the best of luck running his new door post.
Our economy and the neighborhood have changed a lot in the last 3 years since we started and I feel your real story will come in due course when the updated concept is revealed by the new team. Namaste – from Bondi
So the letter is not directed at me or bbook but says we …i had it all wrong and wanted us to take it down and print a retraction?????
Well as you can see from the above Mark was not involved in the venue so its all nonsense
Ahh now namaste from bondi is confusing.. there is Bondi in the l.e.s. or an australian reataurant..which bondi? which namaste?… and what you are saying was no deal had been finalized with mark baker
Ok so i assume its spice namaste from bondi beach new south wales
LOL sorry – Namaste (meaning peace) from Bondi Beach yes that is correct nothing had ever been remotely close to finalized with Mark
Namaste is a term used over here to say "peace" and i am in Bondi Beach in Sydney Australia x i’m sorry for the confusion
That Australian sure is a funny language. George Bernard Shaw once said that England and America are "two nations divided by a common language." Maybe that’s all that’s going on here. Maybe a translator is needed to help these people get it all together. Baker wasn’t talking in the same dialect as Ruben. Mark was talking fabulous and wonderful and amazing, lots of jetsetter speak while Ruben was talking L.E.S. street-real.. all about respect, what I’ve done, and can do. Danae and I had a little trouble at first . She lambasted me in Australian from Bondi before we re-upped as great friends and not just Facebook friends. The lawyers are talking in "legaleze," a language only they seem to understand. They seemingly targeted me, when the owner Danae (speaking in Australian) clearly holds me harmless. I had that beef with that other guy saying "Jew" this and "Jew" that, but I can easily also chalk that  to a language barrier. He probably meant no harm, just that where he comes from it’s a common expression.
As the poet Mick Jagger said at that famous Atltamont concert right before, or was it after a biker stabbed someone who had a gun, "Brothers and sisters, come on now! That means everybody just cool out. We can cool out … why are we fighting?" The biker and the gun-toter were speaking a common language and got right to the point. Everybody understood what they were saying without all these words. What are they all fighting about? As Danae said (in Australian) "It’s Bonkas!". Nobody is talking about what the fighting stems from. It seems to be all egos on the surface and maybe that’s all it is… slices of pie not being divided as everyone likes and power shifting around and not being clearly defined… and maybe that language thing too. Well, anyway, Namaste from BBurg!

Celebrating Two Holidays: Devorah Rose’s Birthday & Mother’s Day


The birthday of Devorah Rose will get me to Bishops and Barons. With every nook and cranny of Manhattan vying for trendiness, worldliness, and bottle bucks, the East 14th Street joint will try to lure the scene east or north of traditional habitats. Though it is the easiest cab ride from Meatpacking straight across 14th street, or just a hop, skip, and a jump north of the L.E.S./ East Village/Nolita worlds of wonder, it seems so far away. I am skeptical. Although convenient to all, the neighborhood has zero cachet. The nearby IHOP and Artichoke Pizza does attract trendies looking for late-night carbs, but the overall vibe is less than chic. I’d follow Devorah anywhere. If there was a puddle before her I’d lay down my coat. If she let down her hair from the stone-walled tower, I’d climb it to free her. I’d even watch her on a reality TV show. Devorah can do no wrong by me. There is no rose that smells so sweet. Tonight I’ll get close enough to confirm that statement. I’m traveling with a pack of Hawaiian hotties this weekend, and maybe we’ll go and grab a pancake nearby right after.

I will feel more comfy in the confines of PKNY at 49 Essex Street between Hester and Grand Street on Saturday night from 10pm. PKNY is described in a press release as an "ultra weird Tiki Bar." I am ultra excited, My Hawaiians are the right accessory for this party. Sailor Jerry Rum and their explosive PR rep Dana Dynamite are behind this soireé. They are pushing cocktails made from the stuff. "Sailor" Jerry Collins, of course, had his famous shop in Honolulu back when men were men and tattoos were primarily for sailors and fallen women. They’re gonna arrange for me to get a tattoo because I’m handsome, enthusiastic, and wrote this. I’m gonna get a traditional Sailor Jerry flash art "MOM" in honor of Mother’s Day. Alex McWatt of Three Kings Tattoo will do the honors. He did the memorial portrait of my dog Arturo that graces my right shoulder.

Mother’s Day stops the presses for me. I and so many others will spend time with our moms while others will call, write, or send flowers. Many will only be able to pause to remember. I will have dinner with mom and dad and the whole world will be whole. Mothers can do that. I was going to make a list of all the mother@%#*!/’s of clubland, but decided that list can wait. Even assholes have mothers so I’ll respect and back down. I got my first eight of ten down with a tie of about 20 pricks for the last two spots. I would be curious who would top your list. Let me know who and why.

The Anchor’s Gunther Bilali Skirmishes Over BlackBeard’s Anchor


Blimey! The Anchor, a go-to spot on the West Spring Street strip, is taking itself seriously … I think. Anchor buckos Gunther Bilali and Jason LaGarenne are obsessed with obtaining an anchor off Blackbeard the Pirate’s sunken vessel, Queen Anne’s Revenge. They’re willing to put their treasure chest where their mouth is and spend a million bucks to obtain it. Blackbeard, a notorious scalawag and Scourge of the Seven Seas, has been the subject of many books and films. After a couple of Yo-Ho-Ho’s he grounded Queen Anne’s Revenge off the coast of North Carolina in 1718. It was found, yep, down in Davy Jones’ Locker, in 1996, and 16,000-plus artifacts have been recovered from it, including the small anchor. This anchor was retrieved by a group of students last year. A larger one remains and has the Anchor Bar salivating for it. “We were all disappointed they couldn’t retrieve the bigger anchor, then we saw an opportunity for an incredible showpiece for the bar,” commented The Anchor Bar’s co-owner Jason LaGerenne. “We’re going to have to jump through some hoops, but I think our patrons will think it’s cool to Instagram.” Unless North Carolina has them walking the plank.
The State of North Carolina got wind of Anchor Bar’s attempt and said ahoy and then no way, we’re gonna blow these men down … maybe. The anchor in question is massive, at 13 feet by 8 feet. Anchor Bar wants it. A letter from the Attorney General of North Carolina, acting as any good landlubber would, laid down the law for our hearties, but before anyone could say Shiver me Timbers, Arghhh! or even Aye! a parlay, a possible compromise dependent on a "charitable contribution," was suggested. Maybe Anchor Bar and the State of North Carolina could be mateys! Will the good fellows of Anchor Bar heed this warning or, in the spirit of Blackbeard the Pirate, plunder the damn thing? I think Blackbeard would want it that way but alas, dead men tell no tales. I asked Anchor Bar owner Gunther Bilali to give us the scoop.
Blackbeard’s anchor … Who came up with this idea and how did they get anyone to take it seriously?
The prospect of acquiring the Blackbeard anchor was really the brainchild of my partner Jason LaGarenne, who’s a boat fanatic. Every time he comes back from the Hamptons he tells me we need a "real Anchor… a serious anchor." So when we started reading about the recovery of Queen Anne’s Revenge, we were fixated. 
Do you feel threatened that you got a letter from the State of North Carolina?
We actually thought it was funny that the Attorney General took the effort to send a formal cease and desist letter! However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. At the end of their letter, they basically say that they are open to a charitable donation to support an excavation. We are going to re-approach and see if they’d consider loaning us one of the anchors as a consideration. We understand we can’t permanently hold it now, but I think there’s a gray area on a loaner.
The Anchor is … well, along with Ear Inn, the anchor of the neighborhood that once had Don Hill’s. I guess Sway is still there but different than in the Nur days. Has Anchor Bar changed with West Spring Street or is reliability in the brand a driving factor?
West SoHo is a funny area. Yeah, you’ve had venues like Don Hill’s come and go. I think there’s a mystique to the area that has the right combination of excitement and seediness. A certain kind of reveler likes the hideaway feel of this stretch.
This anchor thing will cost a million bucks. Is it worth a million bucks in publicity? At this point you’re getting that publicity without the outlay of loot. Are you that smart?
Plenty of venues spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on artwork, paint jobs, banquettes, and bars that age poorly within a year. You know this, Steve. I genuinely believe the Blackbeard anchor would be a priceless acquisition. 
What else do you giuys have going on? If you say Captain Kidd’s anchor I’m outta here!
We’re starting off a cool event series with Travis Bass and the crew at Kanon (vodka) which should be pretty sick. We’re also going to launching a nautical drink program involving old-timey coolers and house-made mixers. We will also have lobster rolls on premise through the summer through a Luke’s Lobster pop-up we’re launching this month. 
On a related note, on Tuesday June 12, Sailor Jerry Rum will celebrate Sailor Jerry Day, commemorating the day renowned tattoo visionary Norman "Sailor Jerry" Collins passed. He’ be 101 years old. There will be 101 free anchor tattoos done right at 3 Kings Tattoos and a party at Matchless right across the road. Almost all the people I know in Williamsburg are sporting some Sailor Jerry flash, including me. It’s almost a rule or requirement to live here. I’ll be there.

My First Time: Last Night At Beauty & Essex

Beauty & Essex is one of those places that fell into my social cracks. Believe me; there are many of those and other categories of cracks and, yes, I’m starting to see wrinkles around my eyes. My birthday (Feb. 2nd) is coming up and, well, it’s just starting out to be one of those days. Probably because it was just one of those nights. Anyway, before last night, I had never been to Beauty & Essex. I’ll let the "what kind of nightlife writer do you pretend to be?” lines get out of the way and just say… "it happens.”

Chris Santos, the owner/operator, has invited me a zillion times, and I adore him and respect the brand a lot but…it happens. So last night, I finally went to Beauty & Essex, and it was for bon vivant and scallywag Dave Delzio’s birthday bash. He was there – a hundred familiar people told me – but, alas, I couldn’t find him for an hour. As I was leaving, I finally spotted the rock and roll-club promoter. Dave showed me his new neck tattoos and I asked him a few questions about growing up.

How old are you and what do you have to be most proud of on this day?
I’m 38 and I’m dating the most beautiful girl in the world and I couldn’t be happier?

Why do this party at Beauty & Essex?
Chris Santos is my best friend and it always feels like home here

What do you want to be when you grow up?
You !!

One of the attendees at Dave’s birthday bash was the charming and disarming El (Lindsay) Grace, a beautiful, fresh, up-and-coming model/photographer. Her band, El Grace, will be performing its new age, ambient, psych folk offerings at The Delancey this coming Monday at 10pm. She will be celebrating her birthday at the gig. I would be there but I’m DJing at the new Passenger Bar for Sailor Jerry’s Birthday. Unfortunately, Sailor Jerry will be a for sure no-show.

Speaking of, Charlie Sheen was a no-show at the New York screening after-party for A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III at Hotel Chantelle. Still, there were plenty of celebrities to gawk at from Chantelle’s roof. I arrived as it was winding down; the staff was abuzz about the likes of Swan III director Roman Coppola’s clan which included Francis Ford Coppola, Sophia Coppola, Eleanor Copolla, Jason Scwartzman, Sean Lennon, Anna Sui, Fred Armisen, Alan Cumming, Tennessee Thomas, Alexa Chung, and someone said Bill Murray attended as well. 

Note: today is Pat Benatar’s birthday…she’s 60! And I’ll be honoring her in my set tonight at Hotel Chantelle.

Los Angeles Bids Adieu to Summer With FYF Fest

Over the weekend, as a sort of unofficial farewell to summer, some 20,000 Angelenos caught indie acts like Death From Above 1979, Broken Social Scene, and the Cold War Kids in the shadow of downtown LA’s skyscrapers for the 2011 edition of the Fuck Yeah Festival. Organizers Sean Carlson and Phil Hoelting were determined not the make the same mistakes as last year, where long lines added to the general air of crabbiness. Comparatively, this year’s FYF was smooth affair.

Fans from all over LA (and many who made the drive down from as far away from San Francisco) enjoyed easy access to the fest site via LA’s notoriously spotty subway, and were treated to a stellar lineup of bands and comics like Marc Maron. Tickets were a measly $40, a welcome change from skyrocketing prices at bigger festivals (cough, Coachella, cough).

Nostalgia was also in the air, as ‘80s and ‘90s kings like Guided By Voices, The Dead Milkmen, and The Descendents played alongside younger, Pitchfork-approved acts like No Age, The Weakerthans, Girls, and Smith Westerns. Some of the best times at the festival, however, went down in the VIP area, where socializing amongst LA’s insular indie rock community reached a fever pitch. Backstage, against an urban backdrop of subways rolling into the Chinatown station, members of Broken Social Scene, Cults, and OFF were spotted drinking and hanging around Sailor Jerry’s airstream trailer, which stood out as a beacon of awesomeness amongst the slightly more drab trailers of other acts. Unlikely celebrities were everywhere, including working girl Bunny Love, from HBO’s Cathouse, who got her first tattoo inside the SJ airstream.

Now in its 8th year, the challenge for FYF will be to pull off the same trick next year, which won’t be easy. But with some good word of mouth, including a glowing review from the LA Times, organizers should expect a bigger crowd next year. The secret’s out.

image Bottom photo by Tod Seelie.