What Happened Last Night At The Amy Winehouse Foundation’s After Party At The DL

T.G.I.F…and F.Y.I: with half the known world M.I.A. (missing in action) in MIA (Miami) for the W.M.C. (Winter Music Conference) and the U.M.F. (Ultra Music Festival), there was a great music based party at The DL ( Delancey and Ludlow?, Down Low?, Designed by Lewis?) in the L.E.S. (Was that as good for you as it was for me?). Anyway… the after party for the Amy Winehouse Foundation event that happened earlier at The Waldorf Astoria was one of the most fun parties I have been to in quite some time. A gorgeous, mixed, hip and smart crowd gathered to hear Mark Ronson and a few other DJs (Disc Jockeys) spin. Mark, of course, produced Amy Winehouse’s glorious multi-platinum album Back to Black, and arrived with producer Danger Mouse for his 1am set. I did the opening set, followed by Andy Rourke (ex-Smiths) who is working on a new album. Lucas Walters, Gavin Russom, and Vikas kept the crowd till 4 A.M. (ante meridiem). O.K. (OKAY), I’ll stop.

I chatted with Mark who closed out the set with Amy and his Valerie. It was a sobering reminder of her early departure and why we were all there. It was great seeing him. We worked together at Life and other clubs I directed back in the day. Whenever I see him I am awed at how much he hasn’t changed. Despite being very successful, he remains the same accessible and straight-up guy he always has been. Terry Casey put the whole thing together. I am in the process of redux-ing The DL which has proven to be a wonderful adventure. 

The vibe last night was outstanding. The beautiful Taquana Harris turned to me mid-evening and remarked that the party was very reminiscent of the old days in club life that have seemed so far away and unattainable. I guess if one gathers immense talent for a good cause, people of substance will come out to play. None of the DJs played a set in any way similar to the others. The public, which is much smarter than the pablum-packed sets usually offered at nightclubs, embraced the eclectic mixes from all the genres offered. I must note that Marky Ramone and Paul Sevigny were also wonderfully willing to lend a hand with the event if we needed them. My day today is shot a good sign that my night was grand.

Amy Winehouse’s Dad Gets Candid In Exclusive Interview

Tonight, The Amy Winehouse Foundation Inspiration Awards and Gala will be held at The Waldorf Astoria. Tony Bennett, Nas, Salaam Remi, and Elhadj "Moe" Kane will be honored. Jennifer Hudson, Wyclef Jean, and others will perform. It’s red carpet. It’s black tie. Celebrities abound.

Here’s what the Amy Winehouse Foundation is all about:
“The mission of the Amy Winehouse Foundation-US is supporting and empowering children and young adults in need through music therapy and music education and works to prevent the effects of drug and alcohol misuse on young people. Special honorees will receive an Amy Winehouse Foundation Inspiration Award for their work in helping to inspire greatness in others.

The Amy Winehouse Foundation was formally established in the UK in 2011 by Amy’s family in honor of her memory and her passion for helping children in need. To date, the UK Foundation has allocated over £500,000 to various organizations.”

The Amy Winehouse Inspiration Awards and Gala will be the first of what Mitch Winehouse and Janis Winehouse Collins – Amy’s father and mother – plan to be an annual event raising awareness and resources for the Amy Winehouse Foundation in the US. All money raised in the US, including from this event, will go to US programs.

I caught up with Mitch Winehouse yesterday and asked him about the event and Amy. 

What’s going on and why is it going on?
It’s hopefully going to be the first of the annual Amy Winehouse Inspiration Award galas. We’re honoring Tony Bennett, Nas, and a couple of other people, and we have Jennifer Hudson performing.

How did you get from a time of grief and wrapping your mind around it, to the point where you’re devoting your time doing good?
That’s a good question, and I’m really not quite sure. When I think back to 18 months ago, it was a very bad time for me and my family, but we spoke about it, and we decided to turn this very bad thing into something good. It’s been very difficult, but we’ve managed to do it.

What were the last several years of Amy’s life like?
Amy was clean for two years and 10 months. The last six weeks of her life – the last five weeks and five days – were spent without drinking. In the last two days, she drank quite a lot, but she had been moving toward abstinence and never made it. The last two years of Amy’s life was far from being a hopeless situation. We were in a very, very good place, and Amy told me she was moving toward abstinence.

Quite frankly, had she died in 2007, 2008, I would have put my hands up and said “fair enough” because she was very ill, and there was a sense of helplessness then. But she proved that she could deal with her drug addiction, and we felt she was moving in the same way with the alcohol as well, but it just wasn’t.

How about her achievements, the fact that people are still talking about her and will forever? What is her legacy?
Her musical legacy really takes care of itself. She’s a six-time Grammy winner. The five times she won in 2008, I believe was a record, the first time a female artist had won five Grammys in one go. She was a fantastic achiever, a great person, and we’re very, very proud of her. But we feel her musical legacy will really look after itself. What we want to do now is highlight the work that she was doing; she was very philanthropic when she was alive, she was very charitable, and we need to carry on her charity with this foundation. She created the foundation herself, so we’re just carrying on the work she was doing.

What is the one thing that people don’t know about her that you wish the whole world knew? 
The way she was with people. When Back to Black had just come out, we went for a stroll through London, and we popped into shops she frequented, where everyone knew her. But she too knew everything about these people, asking “How’s your mum? Your sister? Did she have the baby?” She was fully engaged with other people. There are a lot of young ladies in her position who wouldn’t be like that. That’s what I want people to understand and realize about her. She didn’t really get that she was a superstar, which was wonderful. She was a normal kid with an astronomical talent. 

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Are We Not Men? Glenn O’Brien Answers Devo’s Rhetorical Question

It’s been almost two years since I sat down in front of my computer to interview filmmaker Lars von Trier about his gods-and-genitals film Antichrist. We were going to “try something new” and talk over a Skype video connection. In preparation for the chat, I downloaded a program that would allow me to record the conversation and dump an MP3 file directly into iTunes—except that it didn’t work.

The overall experience was clouded by a little video box in the corner, in which my twee head, then adorned with spiky, gelled hair, reflected my every awkward move. Jesus, I remember thinking, what an asshole I am. Does Lars von Trier think I’m an asshole? Of course he thinks I’m an asshole! Knowing that he was watching a offensively large version of me in that Lilliputian box made it difficult for me to focus on what he was saying, and so, when it became clear that I’d accidentally recorded literally none of our interview, I was hard-pressed to remember anything he’d said. Since then, I’ve resolved never to make the same mistake twice, except of course that I did—over tea with Glenn O’Brien, another hero of mine.

O’Brien, a writer whose prose is much like his white hair—short and unfussy with wispy flourishes—agreed to meet with me at The Smile to discuss his new book, How to Be A Man: A Guide to Style and Behavior for the Modern Gentleman. I’d come straight from the Waldorf Astoria where I’d spoken with actor Mia Wasikowska, who covered BlackBook in April. (While turning on the recorder for that interview, I recounted in vivid hyperbole the von Trier nightmare.) On the cab ride downtown I checked to make sure the audio recorder had recorded. It did, but it’s also a fickle bitch.

O’Brien, the 59-year-old New York fixture, has been prolific since he began hosting TV Party, a variety show featuring art misfits like Debbie Harry and Klaus Nomi that ran on public access cable TV for four years starting in 1978. He worked at Interview, first under Warhol’s reign and again in 2008, when he was named Editorial Director; he wrote and co-produced Downtown 81, a film starring his late friend Jean Michel Basquiat; he’s GQ’s Style Guy columnist—the magazine also named him one of the top-10 most stylish men in America in 2009; that same fall, he even modeled for menswear designer Adam Kimmel’s lookbook.

When he arrives at the Smile 20 minutes late, dressed in his unfailingly chic garb—a trench coat overtop a crisp shirt and subtly patterned tie, well-tailored but not fashionably-tight trousers—he is neither overly apologetic nor given to breathless histrionics. He simply was, he explains, recording a segment for a German television show, and it ran long. But he is here now and it is time for tea.

There are, of course, no video boxes intruding on our meeting, but there was an overwhelmingly distracting elephant in the room: O’Brien’s new book, which spans topics as vast as sex, patriotism, and sickness, and provides advice meant to distinguish gentlemen from everymen. Even before our first meeting, I’d broken three of these rules while interacting with O’Brien.

The first: “How many times, in an e-mail-volume–addled state, have I downloaded a MIME attachment that turned out to be nothing more than a corporate logo or signature?” he writes in How to Be a Man. “Trust me: attaching a Facebook or Twitter logo to your e-mail will only make me hate you. Attaching a logo to your correspondence is pretentious.” Why, oh why, had I attached our most recent cover to my e-mail? Had he noticed? Scoffed?

The second: “If you have an answering machine, when recording your message resist the temptation to play DJ and provide a musical interlude or try out your stand-up comedy routine. People like me will hate you for wasting seconds of their time,” he says about two things I’m loath to admit I’ve done in the past. “Never say, ‘You have reached [your name here].’ Obviously the caller will be talking to a machine because he has not reached [your name here], and when he does, it will be in the future.” I can’t help but worry that his assistant—who called me to tell me O’Brien was running late, and who I presume to be equally poised—has relayed my voicemail message to her boss. (Looking at him, it’s hard to tell.)

The third: “A dandy isn’t faking it,” he writes in his book’s section on style. And he might be right, although earlier that morning when deciding what to wear, I purposefully chose an outfit that might at least approximate his own. Crazy, of course, but not the first time (or the last) I’d play the interviewer-interviewee reflection game. (I introduced Mark Ronson to my hairstylist and now we both get “The Ronson.”)

All of this is to say that I felt like I was faking it, and I knew after the first minute in O’Brien’s company that his tolerance for bullshit is lower than John Galliano’s tolerance for alcohol. (News had just surfaced that day about the former head designer for Dior’s boozy, anti-Semitic rant, a reveal that somewhat shocked O’Brien.)

Over the course of almost two hours, we talked about everything from Patti Smith (he said something amazing about her once having a sense of humor) to his unceremonious departure from Interview (which was all of the record, anyway), to his home in Connecticut, to the irrelevant frippery of Fashion Week, to Andy Warhol, to the punk scene, to his son. It was dishy and witty and revealing, and, unfortunately, you’ll never read it. So, you know what, Glenn? As far as I’m concerned, the number one rule for how to be a man is this: Turn on the fucking tape recorder.

Buy Glenn O’Brien’s compendium for the urban dandy here.

Big Surprise! New York Hotels Blacklisted Charlie Sheen

Charlie Sheen has begun to book hotels for his cross-country ‘Violent Torpedo of Truth’ tour, making his New York appearance on April 8th. His top choice for hospitality? Why The Plaza, of course. Sadly, after Sheen’s last less-than-quiet stay (he trashed the hotel room and locked an adult film star in a bathroom, to jog your memory) the Plaza isn’t rolling out the red carpets. Same goes for a slew of other New York hotel properties.

After Sheen racked up $7K in damages done to his Plaza suite last October, the iconic hotel has blacklisted him. According to Page Six, Sheen has also been banned from The Waldorf Astoria and the Trump Soho (actually, it may be safe to put all of the Trump properties on that list thanks to Sheen’s mom). It’s good to know that the whole world is not on crazy pills!

One source told Page Six, “Many of the big New York hotels don’t want the drama. He is now looking at renting a private residence.” But another dismissed this reason, claiming, “The real issue is finding him a hotel that allows smoking. He has to be able to smoke. And it’s hard to find a place that will accommodate him, plus his entourage that will be more than 30, including the lighting people and of course the goddesses.”

I’m filing those hotels under “Classy Establishments That Don’t Need a Media Circus to Stay Relevant.”


NYC: The Best Bars to Entertain Holiday Visitors

The holiday season means higher-than-usual tourist density in New York City, and naturally, that spike in traffic is due in no small part to your own eager friends and family, who descend on the city for an authentic, fairy-lighted experience of the Big Apple in winter. But after a day at Macy’s, an evening at Rockefeller Center, and a dinner somewhere “New York-y,” as per their request, where do you, their trusty tour guide by default, take them for a night on the town? Here are a few crowd-pleasers that will still earn you some street cred, whether that crowd involves your boyfriend’s distant Uncle Larry, Mom and Dad, long-lost friends who’ve emerged from the woodwork, hard-to-impress rubberneckers, or your old high school mates. A comprehensive list of the best yuletide boîtes to celebrate the new year – and the best of NYC.

Bars with Games Good For: Who doesn’t like to indulge in the nostalgia of old-school games, especially this time of year? Whether you’re with a raucous bunch of old friends, have a score to settle with your Mom over ping pong, or need to take the focus off a conversation with relatives you barely know, these bars offer distractions and can make for a festive time. Bar 675: Basement rec room goes for casual chic with Jenga, cards, and board games. Earn extra points from sceney friends, who will be thrilled to tell the folks back home that they hung out in the Meatpacking. The Diamond: Brooklyn bound? Beer makes shuffleboard so much more fun at this Greenpoint joint. SPiN: Table tennis for mom, and the fact that it’s owned by Susan Sarandon will appease cousin Name Drop as well. Barcade: Are your friends from the Midwest looking for “authentic Brooklyn?” Watch their wide-eyed wonder as they take in skinny-jean gangs playing thumb-cramping faves like Frogger and Tetris for an authentic 25¢ a pop. Ace Bar: Skee-Ball bar pleases the kiddies and anyone else who likes bare-bones décor sprinkled with bits of pop-trinket nostalgia from your childhood. V Bar: Siding with the gaming snobs of the world, this spot is best for your Princeton-alum brother (who happens to be a chess genius). Café and wine bar stocked with NYU grad students, chess and Scrabble battles, and a nice selection of beer and wine.

Next: Cozy Fireplaces

Cozy Fireplaces Good For: Catch up time with people who came to really enjoy holiday spirit in the city. Rose Bar: Have friends or family more interested in being around artists than actual art? For example: I once took someone here who fawned over what he thought was a Warhol (he read about it in a city guide) loud enough so that he was sure Neve Campbell, seated a table away, could hear. It was a Haring. Rubber-necking friends aside, the velvety banquettes and giant fireplace are a cozy departure from the winter weather courtesy of Ian Schrager and Julian Schnabel. The Lobby Bar at the Bowery Hotel: Wood paneling, stuffed animal trophies, and twin oils of hunting hounds give off an English-manor-library vibe. Can be a headache to get a good spot, which are usually reserved for “hotel guests,” monied travelers, and pretty hipsters. Try eating at Gemma first and brown nose your server for a spot by the fireplace. The Back Room: Semi-secret spot for those wishing it was still Prohibition. They’ll get a kick out of drinking their $11 cocktail from a mug. Employees Only: High-class weirdness, with a gypsy psychic at the door and stellar mixologists to determine your fate. The smell of the fireplace and the sight of all the handle bar mustaches will really transport your visitors. Highlands: Décor is pub-meets-hunter’s-lodge, with stuffed deer on brick walls and salvaged woods. Cozy, and it exacerbates that whole “New York Melting Pot” idea. Savoy: A townhouse in the middle of Soho with a fireplace as the festive cherry on top. Shoolbred’s: Scottish pub parlor warmed by actual fireplace. Ten brews on tap. Scotch, natch. It’s Highlands for the East Side set, with a low key (NYU students) crowd.

Next: The Oldest Bars in New York

The Oldest Bars in New York Good For: Skip these precious spots if you’re with a crew that couldn’t care less about anywhere that doesn’t have a VIP list. Otherwise, impress friends and family with the storied, often quirky backgrounds of some of New York’s oldest watering holes. Bridge Café: Opened in 1794, old but not musty. Looks like the site of a nautical murder mystery and is rumored to be haunted by ghosts of sailors and whores, like your parents’ bedroom. Ear Inn: Classic New York-on-the-waterfront feel, minus Marlon Brando, but with plenty of coulda-been contenders. I’ve seen a Soprano in here. McSorley’s: Born in 1854, and perhaps the most renown bar amongst the younger members of the Historical Society, this beer-chugging joint sees tanked fratboys, the cirrhosis crowd, and, after a court order, a few ladies (in other words: no women were allowed until 1970). Sawdusted floors, dust-encrusted wishbones, and loads of cats make this a very special place, indeed. Delmonico’s: Quenching your bloodthirst since ’37 -1837, that is – your parents will appreciate the air of refinement this joint still exudes, not to mention the supposed hauntings. Mahogany wood dining room with glowing chandeliers is the ideal noir-glam setting for steakhouse staples and a bustling bar separate from the dining room.

Next: Mixology Bars

Mixology Bars Good For: The mixology trend is widely known across all towns and townships, so let your slightly underage cousin Timmy learn firsthand just how delightful muddling, zesting, and spicing can be. Just about anyone who doesn’t limit themselves to wine coolers will appreciate the craftsmanship and ambiance. Apotheke: For those who want the back alley as much as they want the absinthe, welcome to Albert Trumer’s quirky school of cocktail science – this former opium den has been transformed into a medieval apothecary by the Austrian mixologist. Bonus: it’s in Chinatown. The interior is antique-sexy, with warm lighting and super-friendly bartenders. PDT: Oh, this is good. Through a hot dog joint you’ll go, and then through a phone booth, where you’ll have to say some secret something-or-other (though they’ve grown lenient in their older age) before you take your dumbfounded guests back to a room with a diagonal slat ceiling, de rigueur taxidermy, and a glowing bar. Note: Make a reservation earlier to get a good seat and smooth entry. Little Branch: By far the most talked-about speakeasy, this West Village spot boasts no signage unless you count the line out the door during peak hours. Retro cocktails served with cool swizzle sticks by tall drinks of water. Go on the early side of a Sunday night to chat up the mixologists and catch some jazz. Mayahuel: The cocktail connoisseurs at Death & Co. built an agave altar. Intimate confessionals, stained glass, and communal pews evoke a Mexican mission. All tequila, all the time, with all the bells and whistles to render previous tequila blow-outs null and void. Death & Co: Dark and polished, this cocktail den packs in a lively crowd. Bartenders in suspenders and vests serve up expert cocktails, and clearly love what they do (they don’t take of their vests when they get home). Great spot for just about anyone who can appreciate such a scene. Cienfuegos: Cuban rum bar from Mayahuel/Death & Co vet seduces with pink couches and sugarcane.

Next: Impressive Hotel Bars

Impressive Hotel Bars Good For: If your guests really “wanna see stuff,” like mine usually do, guiding them to impressively-designed hotel bars around NYC—usually the crown jewels of the hotels themselves—will go over well. Here are a few that leave a lasting impression. Bemelmans Bar: It’s classic New Yawk! Located inside the Carlyle, this timeless upscale New York City bar near Central Park draws bold-faced names, many of whom your out-of-towners could care less about. They will enjoy the classic cocktails and gilded ambiance. Hudson Bar at Hudson Hotel: If your guests approach things like rock music, sushi, and democrats with trepidation, this bar on acid may not be the place for them. Shrek-green lights illuminate the escalator, there’s a chandelier the size of a Volkswagen, the floors glow, the chairs seem to float—except for the tree stumps—and the whole thing makes you feel like you’re living in 2001: A Space Odyssey. It’s that cool. The Waldorf Astoria: Ah, the sprawling impressiveness of the Waldorf – the stuff salads are named after! Three bars, four restaurants, and Jazz Age overindulgence. A certain spirit abides, especially during the holidays. Jane Hotel and Ballroom: This place is for your visiting sorority sisters – leave the parents at home. Dual bar spaces decked out with Edwardian charm, as befits the hotel’s 1908 origins. Posh couches, leafy palms, tortoise shell ceilings, and an ancient disco bar all made better by the creatively-dressed PYTs. Plunge Rooftop Bar + Lounge at the Gansevoort Park: This hotel bar sort of looks like the New York in the Sex and the City movies. It’s slick and arty, with shinning angles and scrumptious views of the Empire State Building. Stoke your vertigo with windows in the terrace floors that look straight down on distant midtown traffic. Your guests will feel so very modern. The Standard Hotel: So this is the place with all the naked people? Depending who you’re with, I’d say a stroll around the grounds with a stop at the bar in the hotel’s Standard Grill will be enough. Unless you’ve got some young model/socialite family members, why waste family time on rubbernecking at Boom Boom? The Ace Hotel: It has a curious cheeky quality to it without being a tourist magnet. The Lobby Bar is reminiscent of an all-American library, with Ivy League reading-room tables, a bar serving up Old Fashioneds and the cult favorite Porkslap Pale Ale, a vintage-style photobooth, and a massive, tattered American flag on the wall. Bring people—not sheeple.

Next: Editor’s Picks

Editor’s Picks Our editors are often tasked with selecting the perfect place for their cousin Sarah’s college roommate’s mother, who’s coming to the city for the first time. Here’s where they like to bring their special holiday guests this time of year. Chris Mohney: Pegu Club. Great place to take any out-of-towner who likes a good drink. Still some of the finest cocktails in the city, and now that it’s been around a while, almost always chill enough to easily find a spot without worrying about crowds. Ben Barna: Fatty Cue. It’s good for anyone, really. Except maybe vegetarians. It’s got the kind of vibe you can only find in Brooklyn, and the kind of unique cuisine you’ll only find in New York. Also, it’s a restaurant meant for sharing, so that’s fun. And the drinks are as good as the food. I’d like to just bring my bros, but it’s expensive, so I take my parents as well. Megan Conway: The Good Fork in Red Hook. I’d like to take my parents to visit this historic, less-trodden waterfront neighborhood. This cozy restaurant offers inspired grub in one of the more unique pockets of the city. Nadeska Alexis: The Dove. It’s a well rounded place that’s chill enough for friends, and I’ve been there with adults and have not been embarrassed. Fun cocktails too. Victor Ozols: Rudy’s. It’s a really lasting, authentic experience that stays with someone. Cayte Grieve: Oyster Bar at Grand Central. For New York newbies and friends and family who haven’t spent a lot of time in the city, the Oyster Bar is one of those bars-slash-attractions that sort of kills two birds with one stone. Grand Central? Check. Getting Grandma drunk? Check. All done with old-style glamour.

Next: Around Rockefeller

Around Rockefeller Good For: Sometimes you just gotta give the people what they want: A Disney-fied version of the most wonderfully commercial time of the year! While your skating, shopping, and taking photos around The Tree, you might as well ease your sensory-overloaded nerves with some family vodka time. Rock Center Café: Tourist magnet, priced accordingly, and you will wait accordingly—yes, even the early birds. Perhaps it’s best to skip the food and opt for a toast instead. Perfect before, during, or after a spin around the rink. Watching wipe-outs with the fam never felt so corporate. The Modern: Danny Meyer’s unabashed flamboyance for air-kissing culture whores. It’s at the MoMa, kids, so take only those who desire such a scene. If you’ve got yourself a crew outfitted in suits and ties longing for a culture cocktail, here’s your promised land. 21 Club: It’s so famous! Free parking if you show up before 6:30pm, if that tells you something about the demographic, but only the locals and culture snobs will take note. Skip the steaks and head for the scotch with the people who’ve read about the place or heard about it in hip-hop songs. Morrell Wine Bar & Cafe: Here’s a cozy place to get warm after running with the masses around Rockefeller. Please remember that other people longing for a night cap will also be directed to this wine bar, which boasts over fifty well-chosen wines by the glass and 2,000 bottle choices on the menu.

My Mind On the Eve of a New Opening

The 1st of October finds me too busy to chat with you. I need to be onsite, breathing saw dust and paint fumes, readying dream palaces for imminent openings. I will have an egg with my sweetness, and my loyal and capable assistant, and then jump head first into the whirlpool of my work. Today it’s the finishing touches on Capri, the Bayridge joint opening tomorrow. I need to purchase levers, and drop latches for bathrooms, get a bronzing medium for the old bronze lights I found at Old Good Things (my secret source for everything), and some fabulous ancient handles for the front door. Then it’s an hour trip to a place still in NYC, to bang around with the contractor and all the subs. It’s a happy job site, with the product looking even better than I hoped. The workers are fun, and cool—like Bayridge workers almost always are.

Tomorrow night I will attend the opening of Capri. I will watch how the people flow through the space. I’ll look to see if what I planned actually works. Over 25 years of experience has taught me that nothing can be taken for granted. The space in the club where I didn’t think needed light may need it, the furniture might need more room to be comfortable. A thousand things will be looked at and analyzed by these old eyes. I will come up with solutions if I see a flaw or if the operator catches one.

Clubs should always open on Saturdays, for many reasons. Firstly, it gives you a few days to adjust if something needs a tweak. Secondly, staff can be evaluated and changed. Thirdly, Saturdays need to be your moneymaker: it’s good to give it a boost. If you open on, let’s say a Friday, then the Saturday is invariably anti-climatic, and you can’t have that out of the gate. I’ve been up since 7, nothing unusual about that, but my night was restless. My mind wouldn’t sleep as it dreamt of the club, and imagined it as it was open. Sometimes I see the people moving about, sometimes I hear the music. I guess that’s crazy, but I buy into that crazy/creative curve theory. October 1st is a strange date. I never liked it. I guess you can pretend that September is still part of the summer, but come October, you know the big chill is coming, Historically, it was the date when Karl Marx published Das Kapital (1867), in 1918 T.E. Lawrence of Arabia captured Damascus with a band of brothers, who he would eventually betray for the home team, and oil money. It was the start of the World Series in 1919. That year the Chicago “Black Sox” threw the fall classic, and became pariahs for very little cash. In 1931, the Waldorf Astoria opened as a palace for those who had everything else in the world they could ever want. I know there’s a story I could weave from these fun facts, but I’m going to need to rush away right now to have coffee, and small talk with plumbers, and contractors after an egg with my girlfriend, and assistant.

New York Classics: Pete’s Tavern

Oftentimes as we are fully enveloped in the white noise of New York nightlife we forget the great drinkers that have come before us. Those who sloshed scotch out of their glasses and illegally danced within the walls of the same darkened speakeasies we find ourselves in today. Many of the great hotspots of Manhattan’s baby days still function as modern watering holes today, others have taken to dressing up as shops, apartments or some other unremarkable landmark. Pete’s Tavern, nestled on the west side of Gramercy Park is a spot that gets the nabe just as loaded as it once did in its heyday of late 1800’s, minus a prominent author or two.

At the end of the 19th century, uptown and downtown neighborhoods of New York were separated by much more than the i-bankers and yummy mummys of today. The 1850’s saw downtown Manhattan mired in squalor and crime as gangs like the Five Points controlled politicians, shopkeepers and even the saloon owners. Just blocks north, Caroline Astor dominated polite uptown society and the cultural and political happenings amongst the affluent of New York. Between these worlds, in a stretch of city that ran from East 18th to East 21st Streets between Park Avenue South and 3rd Avenue, Gramercy Park was becoming a hot piece of property, mixing artists with politicians and writers. This is where Pete’s Tavern set up shop and began to discreetly shill drinks to neighborhood patrons. While vagrants and scoundrels got blasted in bars in lower Manhattan, it was known that polite society did not gather in public places, so unless you were a ‘pick poket’ or a ‘loose woman,’ imbibing was done surreptitiously. Which is probably why Pete’s Tavern didn’t own up to serving drinks until 1864, after the opulence of The Waldorf Astoria revolutionized bar culture, and made public partying amongst society figures the ‘thing.’


Birthdate: It was first documented as Tavern in 1864, though it was probably serving drinks since 1852- a discrepancy that has Pete’s and McSorely’s feuding over the title of oldest Manhattan bar. Formerly: The 129 E 18th was once a grocery store, a hotel, a true Prohibition-era speakeasy and a bar. Before it was known as Pete’s, it was the Portman Hotel, and later the Healy’s Café when it was purchased by John and Tom Healy in 1899. It wasn’t known as Pete’s until 1932 when Pete Belle purchased it gave it the name “Pete’s Tavern.” Neighborhood: Gramercy Park, a collection of 66 lots around the only existing private park in Manhattan. Purchased by Samuel Ruggles in 1831, he designed the neighborhood to look like the parks in London at the time. Classic Vibe: James Harper, mayor of New York in 1844 and founder of the Harper publishing house lived at Gramercy Park #4, and was known to drop in from time to time, so though the establishment claims it has not changed since 1902, I’m assuming the vibe was cerebral, a place where drinking and thinking took place amongst the elite inhabitants of Gramercy Park.


Current Vibe: Pete’s doesn’t so much cater to the wealthy neighborhood dwellers it once did. It serves mostly as a place for happy-hour drinks and NYU students who wander into it during their nightly pub crawls. The tavern has taken on a modern pub-like aura. Signature: Prized 1864 Original Ale Famous Patron: O. Henry, who also lived nearby at 55 Irving Place, apparently wrote “The Gift of the Magi” in the second booth to the right hand side of the front door. Silver Screen: Seinfeld, Law and Order, Sex and the City, Ragtime, and Endless Love filmed scenes here.

The Manhattan Society Ranking System Back to the 19th Century. Which side of the city would you find at Pete’s? If we’re looking at the gang of girls might have a ladies’ night out, we’d have to look at two very different society chicks.

image Fredericka “Marm” Mandelbaum Arrived in Manhattan from Prussia in 1849 to become one of the city’s prominent thieves. She was the unchallenged grande dame of women crooks and hosted luxurious dinner parties for her crooked pals to get sloshed and network with other swindlers.

image Caroline “Lina” Astor “The” Manhattan Socialite who was known as “The” Mrs. Astor. Her desire to be the unchallenged grande dame of New York society was chronicled in Edith Wharton’s Age of Innocence, as she attempted to codify proper behavior and etiquette. She hosted lavish parties in which invitees were publicly accepted into the upper echelon of New York society.

image While Pete’s wasn’t exactly a breeding ground for gangsters, the affluent patrons who frequented the watering hole still kept their activities largely out of the eye of “Lina” if they wanted to be recognized as an important part of society. Bohemians of the area had no qualms about drinking and gathering in a public place, but you’d never catch a gangster like Marm Mandelbaum and her swindlers here. After drinking publicly became socially acceptable, mayors, political figureheads, writers and otherwise ‘important’ people of society were known to stop by. Likewise, you’ll probably never see today’s consummate socialite Tinsley Mortimer set foot in Pete’s. But if you did, it would be nothing to write the Astors about.

New York: Top 10 Spots for Mahmoud Ahmedinejad to Get Bombed

Now that Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has wrapped up spewing his hilarious bile all over an empty UN general assembly, an important question remains: What’s he doing tonight? You don’t make the long trek to New York all the way from Iran and not sample a taste of our legendary nightlife. So what does he do? Loiter outside the Gansevoort and blend in with a crew of other blazer-sporting, open-collar-shirted loudmouths? Or does he charm his way in to a private event so he can catch those MisShapes he’s been hearing so much about? Even if we don’t agree with everything he says, we still want him to have fun. Because if anyone needs to loosen up, it’s that guy.

Zum Schneider (East Village) – Allusions to anti-Semitism, Hitler, the holocaust, and by proxy Germany, aside, this indoor beer garden really does have very satisfying grub (schnitzel, sausage, kraut) and hefty mugs of beer that will have Mahmoud spewing his bile in the bathroom by midnight. ● Boom Boom Room (Meatpacking District) – Frankly, the view from atop the Standard Hotel is inspiring, and this is simply the place to be. ● Greenhouse (Soho) – Everything about this environmentally friendly club is green. Let’s see if he gets the joke. ● Freddy’s Bar and Backroom (Prospect Heights) – Unlike his cousin Saddam, Mahmoud is a notoriously simple man. When he first moved into his presidential quarters, he replaced the extravagant Persian rugs with simple carpets. That’s why this BK watering hole is perfect. No pretensions, and when Mahmoud starts acting like a dick, the bartenders will call him on it. ● Rose Bar (Flatiron) – This is funny, because it’s the opposite of what Mahmoud prefers. Bohemian vibe, cathedral ceilings, walls crammed with big art, and a cavernous fireplace. Even still, if owner Nur Khan can’t show this guy a good time, then no one can. Mahmoud, meet Josh Hartnett. ● Baddies (Greenwich Village) – Come on. If you name your place Baddies, your asking for trigger-happy tyrants to show up. Thankfully, Mahmoud runs about five feet high, so hitting his head on the way down to this darkly crimson basement is out of the question. ● Village Pourhouse (Union Square) – Where Mahmoud can grab his rightful claim to fame. But you’d be surprised how many drunken NYU kids couldn’t point out America’s Public Enemy No. 2. Instead, he’ll hear “Hey! You’re the dude from that SNL video with the guy from Maroon 5!” And he’ll love it. ● Barcade (Williamsburg) – Brooklyn beer temple that happens to feature over 20 classic arcade games. Where Mahmoud can release his button-pushing aspirations. Explosions galore, and no one gets “wiped off the map.” Games like Berzerk and Rampage make this a match made in heaven. ● Pacha (Midtown West) – So alcohol may not be enough to make Mahmoud the jovial world leader we wish he was. He might need something a littler, er, stronger. It’s called pure MDMA — and lots of it. Slip some taster samples in his drink, and an hour later listen to the world’s most hateful man tell you how much he loves you. ● Tenjune (Meatpacking district) – Blazer, check. Collared shirt, check. Boring dresser, check. Unbelievable douchebag, check. Welcome home, Mahmoud. ● Sir Harry’s in The Waldorf Astoria (Midtown East) – From Wikipedia: “Hossein-Gholi Noori, an influential Qajar politician was sent by Nasser al-Din Shah Qajar to the United States of America during the time of President Grover Cleveland to serve as Iran’s first ambassador to the U.S. He resided in the first Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. During his stay at the hotel, he ordered a slaughter of a sheep from the balcony of his penthouse suite for the Eid al-Adha, a religious festival celebrated by Muslims. For his undiplomatic behaviour, he was summoned to the United States Department of State and then was recalled to Iran for poor representation of the Iranian people.” Mahmoud certainly has the last part right.

NYC Fashion Week Hotels: Who’s Showing Where?

imageSo you want to run into a model. Or ten. Here’s your guide to which hotels to stalk for the next week:

1. The Bowery Hotel (East Village) – Corpus is showing here, and there should be a bunch of parties here as well. 2. Plaza Hotel (Midtown West) – With Luca Luca, Monique Lhuiller, and Douglas Hannant, this is a safe bet to catch some fashion royalty. 3. Jane Hotel (West Village) – Cynthia Rowley is showing in the Ballroom. Hopefully the residents won’t protest the show.

4. The Carlyle (Upper East Side) – Catalin Botazatu Couture and Barbara Tfank are showing here. 5. The Waldorf-Astoria (Midtown East) – Vocce Couture, Almond Tree, and Christina Nitopi Menswear are all walking the runway here. Male models abound. 6. Soho House (Meatpacking District) – Mulberry in the library. Hotties in the lobby. 7. Tribeca Grand Hotel (Tribeca) – Form and Frank Tell are both here. 8. Morgans Hotel (Murray Hill) – Koi Suwannagate’s show is here 9. Bryant Park Hotel (Midtown West) – Natorious by Natori and Amanda Pearl are showing here, and there’s all the hubbub right outside the door. 10. Hotel on Rivington (Lower East Side) – Don the Verb inside, hot hipsters outside.